The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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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.


31 May, 2010

Radical snobbery

Comedian Mark Thomas’s ‘People’s Manifesto’ confirms that no one is more suspicious and disdainful of the masses today than the worn-out, disillusioned rump of the radical left

The funniest [British] election result on 6 May probably passed most of you by. It wasn’t Esther Rantzen losing her deposit (and what meagre shred of respectability she had left) in Luton South. It wasn’t the ousting of cheeky cheeky Lembit Opik in Montgomeryshire. It wasn’t even the fact that under Nick Clegg – who had been appointed by the chattering classes as the High Representative of liberal, cosmopolitan, Waitrosean values – the Lib Dems actually lost seats. No, the most grin-inducing result was in Bristol West, where an independent called Danny Kushlick came sixth with 343 votes.

Normally there wouldn’t be anything especially chucklesome about an independent candidate doing badly. But Kushlick was standing on a ticket of ‘The People’s Manifesto’, no less, a document drawn up by left-wing comedian Mark Thomas (I say comedian. I say left-wing) and modestly described as ‘the ultimate political manifesto’. For all its radical pretensions, Thomas’s intolerant document actually highlights the sneeriness and cynicism of what remains of the radical left. It is a work of high radical snobbery, jam-packed with disdain for, rather than faith in, the toiling masses.

Throughout history a lot of dodgy individuals have claimed to speak on behalf of ‘The People’, but Thomas’s might just be the most dubious claim yet. By ‘The People’ he actually means members of his audiences, who were asked, during his recent stand-up tour, to come up with policies for a manifesto. The idea that the kind of people who attend Mark Thomas gigs represent the people really is funny. Simply the fact that they enjoy being bombarded with radical-liberal prejudices camouflaged badly as gags – Coca-Cola is evil! Rupert Murdoch is Satan! – should be evidence enough that they aren’t like normal folk. If you need further evidence, take a look at their collected policy proposals.

They’re obsessed with dog shit, in that way that miserable, moaning tossers tend to be. Loads of Thomas’s audience members suggested instituting new laws to punish people who allow their dogs to take a dump on the streets. ‘If a dog owner lets their dog shit on your doorstep, you should be able to shit on theirs’, says one. ‘[I]f someone allows their dog to shit on your doorstep, then you should be able to shit upon their head’, says another. Two audience members said the government should keep a DNA sample of every dog’s shit and then set up a ‘multimillion-pound dog-turd database so that police could work backwards to track down the offenders’.

In the end – spoilt for choice on the burning question of how to get dog shit off the streets – Thomas opted to include the following proposal in his People’s Manifesto: ‘People who allow their dog to shit on the pavement without cleaning it up should be forced to wear it as a moustache.’ It’s Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life meets Dirty Sanchez, where the blue-haired, Mary Whitehouse-style conservativism of being obsessed with what disgusting people allow their disgusting dogs to do on my doorstep is sexed-up with some talk of shit-moustaches to give it a radical gloss.

The manifesto continually adds a dash of surrealism to its miserabilist proposals in an attempt to make them appear funny ha ha rather than funny authoritarian. One proposal is that ‘There should be an age of consent for religion’, which would aim to ‘balance the rights of religious freedom and the rights of the child by setting an age limit on religion’. That is, mums and dads should be prevented by law from bringing up children under the age of 14 in a religious faith.

Never has there been a more graphic illustration of what ‘children’s rights’ really represent: the watering down of the real rights of adults, in this case the right of adults to have the freedom of belief to bring up their children in whatever moral fashion they see fit. To take the edge off this proposal to invite the filth into the most intimate relations of ordinary families, Thomas says: ‘This policy will prevent children entering mosques, temples, synagogues and churches until they are 14 and will be enforced with a height bar, just like those at funfairs and adventure parks.’ See? It’s funny to increase the power of the state over families!

With yawning predictability, Thomas’s audience members proposed enforcing sanctions against 4x4 drivers. ‘4x4 drivers should be forced to drive everywhere off-road, even to Sainsbury’s’; ‘4x4 drivers should be forced to drive their vehicle sitting on the roof in a deckchair with a long steering column’, etczzz. No one went quite as far as an artist who attended the Guardian’s launch of its climate-change initiative last year – who suggested that 4x4 drivers should ‘spend a night in the cells’ – but the Two Minutes Hate against 4x4 drivers in Thomas’s manifesto confirms what they have become in the mean, envious, thrifty imaginations of the agitated middle classes: symbols of unacceptable ambition, affronts to the top-down ideological demand that we should all live as meekly (and naturally) as sheep. ‘4x4 driver’ is effectively code for ‘nouveau riche’ – people with ideas above their station (wagon).

And there are two policy proposals on the Daily Mail in The People’s Manifesto, out of 40 proposals in total, such is its alleged threat to the reading public’s mental health. ‘The Daily Mail should be forced to print on the front page of every edition the words: “This is a fictionalised account of the news and any resemblance to the truth is entirely coincidental”’, says the first; ‘The Daily Mail should be forced to print the words “The paper that supported Hitler” on its masthead’, says the second. The operative word in both instances is ‘forced’. In the feverish Mail-fearin’ minds of contemporary radicals nothing is more attractive than the idea of the British state – which of course never distorts the truth or had any dodgy dealings with Hitler prior to the war – forcing a newspaper effectively to brand itself with a modern-day mark of Cain, singling it out as Completely And Utterly Beyond The Pale (As Decided By Guardian Readers).

Thomas says these proposals are not born from a ‘desire to stigmatise the paper’. Yes they are. What drives Mail-bashing is the rather mad idea that it’s the only paper with a penchant for sensationalism and the censorious idea that its words translate directly into prejudicial public behaviour, as if its readers are sponges waiting to soak up whatever nonsense the Rothermere clan is spouting. And who are these readers? Thomas favourably quotes Stephen Fry describing the Mail as ‘a paper that no one of any decency would be seen dead with’. Ah, so its readers are the indecent, Them, the fickle, suggestible mob. This is a modern-day, ‘humour’-tinged version of the anti-newspaper snobbery of earlier elitists, who, as John Carey documented in The Intellectuals and the Masses, said ‘the rabble vomit their bile and call it a newspaper’ (1).

Thomas’s proposals on politics are so dripping in cynicism that you could almost scoop it up, bottle it, and sell it to students. He suggests ‘Politicians should have to wear tabards displaying the names and logos of the companies with whom they have a financial relationship, like a racing driver’. Most strikingly, for someone who claims to be a fan of the Chartists, and even their political heir (another brilliant joke), he proposes: ‘MPs should not be paid wages but loans…because they get highly paid jobs after they graduate from Westminster’.

One of the nineteenth-century Chartists’ great democratic demands was that members of parliament should be paid a wage, so that even a man without a pot or a window but with some political convictions could choose to run for office, alongside those moneyed lords and barons. Thomas’s loan proposal would rewind history and make parliament once more the preserve of those with no financial headaches.

For a true taste of why Thomas’s audience members are not ‘The People’, consider the following policy proposed during a gig in Darlington: ‘Institute the “Sky test” on benefit claimants, so if you suck on the teat of Murdoch, no benefits for you.’ In other words, explains Thomas, ‘if you are unemployed and have Sky, you get your benefits cut’. What a cast-iron confirmation of the spite that lurks behind apparently radical, anti-capitalistic Murdoch-bashing. What presents itself as a critique of a massive media mogul is in fact a profound discomfort with the dumb automatons who lap up the media mogul’s produce, whether it’s Sky, the Sun or whatever.

Most manifestos put forward ideas for creating a better world – this one only moans about a world apparently smeared in dog turd and peopled by parents who religiously brainwash their kids and lazy spongers who suck Rupert’s nips all day long. It confirms that the most poisonous snobbery leaks from those sections of society most cut off from the masses, in this case the remnants of the disappointed, disgruntled, radical left. The wonder is that even 343 people voted for this steaming pile of dog dirt.


The usual Leftist perversion of language is being used to demonize Israel

Over the past generation, the Left has commandeered our language. It has inverted the terminology of human rights, freedom, morality, heroism, democracy and victimization. Its perversion of language has made it nearly impossible for members of democratic, human rights respecting, moral societies to describe the threats they face from their human rights destroying, genocidal, tyrannical enemies. Thanks to the efforts of the international Left, the latter are championed as the victims of those they seek to annihilate.

Two incidents in recent weeks make clear just how disastrous the Left’s wholesale theft of language and through it, their inversion of reality has been for Israel.

Last Monday, Noam Chomsky arrived at the Allenby Bridge and requested a visa to enter Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The police at the border refused his request. The radical leftist Israel-basher made a fuss and waited around for several hours before he went back to Jordan.

Chomsky left Jordan at the end of the week and travelled to Lebanon. For the second time in four years, on Friday Chomsky toured southern Lebanon with a Hizbullah guide. Now an official guest of Hizbullah, Chomsky is scheduled to give an address in Beirut Tuesday to celebrate the IDF’s pullout from south Lebanon 10 years ago.

As David Hornik detailed in *FrontPage Magazine on Friday, the leftist-dominated Israeli media went nuts when they discovered Chomsky had been turned away at the border. *Yediot Aharonot and *Haaretz heralded Chomsky as a great mind and proclaimed hysterically that the refusal to allow him to enter the country marked the end of Israeli democracy and the start of a slide into fascism. The Western media quickly piled on and within hours Israel’s right to deny its avowed enemies entry was under assault.

And Chomsky is Israel’s enemy. As Hornik pointed out, Chomsky has repeatedly defended Holocaust deniers while accusing Israel of being the ideological heir of Nazi Germany. When he hasn’t been too busy championing the Khmer Rouge and Josef Stalin, and attacking the US as the Great Satan, Chomsky has devoted much time and energy to calling for Israel’s eradication and defending Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorists.

IT WAS the government’s job to point this out. But instead, faced with the leftist onslaught against its right to control its borders, the government crumpled. Instead of explaining that Chomsky is an enemy of Israel and an abettor and defender of genocide, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev apologized for the unpleasant reception Chomsky received at the Allenby Bridge. Regev also promised that if Chomsky returns, he will be granted an entry visa.

The government’s cowardly handling of the Chomsky incident is testament to the Left’s success at intimidating Western leaders to the point where instead of standing up to leftist propaganda and lies, they accept them as truth and even collaborate in disseminating them.

Probably the PMO figured no one would listen if it told the truth about Chomsky. It probably felt that defending the decision to bar Chomsky from the country would only elicit a second barrage of media attacks.

And perhaps they were right. But the fact that the Left would have remained unconvinced doesn’t excuse the government’s abject surrender of the truth about Chomsky to Israel’s enemies on the Left who portray the MIT professor as a human rights activist and a great intellectual humanitarian. As David Horowitz and Peter Collier prove in their book *The Anti-Chomsky Reader, there doesn’t seem to be a tyrant that Chomsky hasn’t championed or a victim that Chomsky hasn’t demonized in the entire span of his 50-year career as a radical activist.

The government is not alone in its fear of exposing and fighting the Left’s campaign to demonize the country.

THE RADICAL left’s ability to block voices of dissent from its anti-Israel and anti-freedom positions was similarly demonstrated two weeks ago at Tel Aviv University’s annual Board of Governors meeting.

For several years, a large, vocal group of tenured professors from the university have actively participated in the international campaign to boycott Israeli universities and academics while actively supporting Hamas and Hizbullah. That is, many Tel Aviv University professors, whose salaries are paid by university donors and Israeli taxpayers, have been using their university titles to undermine the university and to advance the cause of Israel’s destruction.

This year the university’s Board of Governors bestowed an honorary doctorate on Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz. In his acceptance speech, Dershowitz called these professors out for their vile behavior and named three of the most vocal enemies of the university and Israel on the international stage: Profs. Anat Matar, Rachel Giora and Shlomo Sand.

The university’s tenured anti-Zionist activists were quick to retaliate. More than 46 professors signed a letter to university president Joseph Klaffter demanding that the university disassociate itself from Dershowitz’s statements.

Klaffter was quick to oblige. At the Board of Governors meeting, Klaffter silenced board member Mark Tanenbaum when he tried to put forward a resolution calling for disciplinary action against university professors who use their university titles to defame the university or Israel. Klaffter, who isn’t even a member of the Board of Governors, reportedly grabbed the microphone away from Tanenbaum and adjourned the meeting. Klaffter justified his physical denial of Tanenbaum’s freedom of speech by claiming that he was defending academic freedom.

Like the Prime Minister’s Office’s apology to Noam Chomsky, Klaffter’s action – aside from arguably being prohibited by his own university’s constitution – was further proof of the Left’s success in appropriating the language and imagery of freedom and tolerance in the service of forces that seek to destroy freedom and end tolerance.

ON THURSDAY Hamas’s maritime enablers from Europe, Turkey and beyond will arrive at our doorstep. The navy will block their entry to Gaza. Israel will be demonized by terror-abettors disguised as human rights activists and journalists worldwide. And the story will pave the way for the next assault on Israel’s right to exist.

This endless circle of demonization and aggression will continue to widen and escalate until our political leaders and our intellectual elite reclaim our language from those on the terror-abetting Left. True, our reclamation of our language will not go unopposed. But if we do not reassert our right to describe objective reality, our inability to explain why we are right and our detractors serve evil will be our undoing.


Hatred of Israel among Australian far-Leftists

by Philip Mendes

Historically, the international Left has incorporated a wide spectrum of views on Zionism and Israel ranging from unequivocal support for Israel to even-handedness to hardline support for Palestinian positions. The contemporary Australian Left also lacks any consensus on this issue.

Nevertheless, it is fair to say that a wide majority on the Left support a two-state solution which encapsulates recognition of both Israeli and Palestinian national rights. It is also fair to say that those anti-Zionist fundamentalists who advocate the elimination of Israel and its replacement by an Arab State of Greater Palestine represent a small if vocal, minority.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, this minority group attempted to censor and exclude any Left voices in favour of the continued existence of the State of Israel. For example, the assorted Trotskyists and Maoists in the far Left Australian Union of Students (AUS), and Bill Hartley’s extreme Left faction of the Victorian ALP hurled abuse and vitriol at any Jewish-identifying leftists who didn’t identify unconditionally with the abolish Israel aims of the PLO.

Political scientist Dennis Altman – himself Jewish, non-Zionist and sceptical of both extreme Zionist and anti-Zionist perspectives – famously wrote at the time that this anti-Zionist fundamentalism had become a new symbol of ideological purity in the radical Left. In the UK, a significant number of student unions even disaffiliated Jewish student societies on the prejudiced grounds that they were Zionist and hence allegedly racist.

This fanatical intolerance for moderate two-state views went on the backburner during the years of the Oslo Accord, but returned with a vengeance as the fundamentalists were reinvigorated by the blood and guts of the Second Intifada. Recent debates suggest that this vocal, but still small, pro-Palestinian lobby is enjoying some success in excluding and censoring the majority of Left voices.

For example, the proponents of an academic boycott of Israel essentialise Israeli Jews by claiming that left and right-wing Israelis are no different, and that they are all racist oppressors of the Palestinians. They argue that the rights of the oppressed Palestinians – who they also collectively essentialise as being uniquely innocent and deserving victims – should always take precedence over the rights of Israeli Jews.

The fundamentalists also attack all Jewish supporters of Israel’s existence as apologists for oppression, irrespective of whether they are supporters of two states, or alternatively advocates of a Greater Israel. They reserve particular hate for the so-called “left Zionists” who oppose the West Bank occupation and settlements whilst also critiquing Palestinian violence and extremism. These moderates are constructed as little more than the equivalent of left-wing Nazis. And then they use the old Soviet trick of highlighting the views of a few Jewish “Uncle Toms” who are willing to exploit their own religious and cultural origins in order to vilify their own people. That malevolent game was used in the 1950s to defend Stalinist anti-Semitism. Now it is employed to misrepresent the historical and political context of the creation and development of the State of Israel.

The crude political objective is the exclusion of all Jewish-identifying leftists from Left debates on Zionism and Israel. And any means are justified to achieve this outcome including the ad-hominem abuse of individual Jewish activists, and a horrific lowering of intellectual and scholarly standards. The pro-Palestinian lobbyists are willing to throw out the most basic academic conventions regarding accurate presentation of evidence and correct citations and referencing if they don’t serve the interests of the Palestinian cause.

Two recent examples that come to mind are those of Overland and Arena Magazine. Some will say that these journals have a small readership within the Left elite and do not matter. Yet both journals are read widely by students and intellectuals, and have an influence far beyond their formal subscription figures. They are not the equivalent of party propaganda sheets such as Green Left Weekly, and that is precisely why they should incorporate a diversity (rather than narrow uniformity) of Left voices on Israel/Palestine. For the record, I have regularly contributed to both journals in the past on a range of issues, and continue to respect their broader political projects despite their current adherence to a particularly fanatical form of pro-Palestinian orthodoxy.


The case of Overland is particularly disturbing. This Melbourne-based quarterly journal was formed by ex-communist Stephen Murray-Smith in 1954 to promote progressive and democratic debate. Overland is best known for its publication of local poets and short story writers, and its powerful cultural presentation of Australian progressive politics. Although Murray-Smith published a powerful critique of Soviet anti-Semitism in issue 32 (1965), it has rarely covered Jewish-related issues. To the best of my knowledge, it rarely if ever published material on Israel until 2007.

Under the editorship of Jeff Sparrow, the pro-Palestinian lobby has captured Overland’s agenda. This is particularly reflected in the four recent articles that appeared in issues 184 by Ned Curthoys, 187 by Ned Curthoys, 193 by Antony Loewenstein, and 198 by Michael Brull. As a combination, they form a mad hatter’s picnic of fanatical attacks on Israel and supporters of Israel followed by more fanatical attacks of the same ilk.

Curthoys, who co-ordinates the two person Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism with his father John Docker, is a serial hater of Israel and Zionism. In Issue 184, he provides not surprisingly a positive review of Antony Loewenstein’s anti-Israel text, My Israel Question. He also cannot resist promoting his favourite obsession concerning the campaign for a cultural, economic and academic boycott of Israel based on the racial stereotyping of all Israeli Jews as oppressors.

But in Issue 187, he firmly criticises the founding statement of Loewenstein’s Independent Australian Jewish Voices group for being too moderate, and specifically for accepting Israel’s right to exist. Instead, Curthoys returns to his theme of the necessity of an economic and cultural boycott of Israel, and particularly targets Left Zionism as inherently racist. He proposes the elimination of Israel, and its replacement by an Arab majority state.

Arena Magazine

The case of Arena is equally disappointing. This intellectual journal of “Left political, social and cultural commentary” was formed by dissident party and non-party Communist intellectuals in 1963. Originally informed by Marxist ideology, it published a useful critique of Soviet anti-Semitism by Jewish leader Isi Leibler in the mid 1960s, and some views to the contrary. In recent decades, it has been increasingly influenced by a wider range of ideologies including particularly post-modernism.

For example, the August-September (Issue no. 85) 2006 issue published three contributions from Antony Loewenstein, Jeremy Salt and John Hinkson which all presented a parochial Palestinian narrative instead of a balanced internationalist perspective. Worse was to come. The February-March 2009 issue on the Gaza war contained no less than three pro-Palestinian articles by Jeremy Salt, Les Rosenblatt, and the Docker/Curthoys tag team backed up by four biased photo montages from anti-war demonstrations in Israel. The contribution from Docker/Curthoys of the Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism was uniquely fanatical, contesting the legitimacy of Israel’s creation in 1948, and advocating an unconditional return of 1948 Palestinian refugees to Israel which would mean the immediate end of Israel as a Jewish state.


The pseudo-radical war on economic growth

Some old moans about the evils of wealth-creation still burbling on among people who are themselves doing very nicely

Some of the world’s most influential thinkers are engaged in an earnest debate about the goals of society and even about the character of humanity itself. Strangely, however, hardly anyone seems to have noticed.

The main reason for this oversight is that the discussion is wrapped in an arcane dispute about statistics. It is presented as economics in the most turgid, evidence-based, technocratic sense of the term. Typically the debate is focused around an analysis of the shortcomings of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of wellbeing – GDP being the standard measure of economic output, which works out the total value of goods and services produced within a country’s borders during a fixed period, normally one year. The influential thinkers who are increasingly criticising the category of GDP then go on to have endless technical debates about the pros and cons of alternative ways of measuring human welfare.

But the turgid nature of the debate should not be taken to mean that it is unimportant. On the contrary, this debate represents the ratification and extension of some of the most backward contemporary ideas. It also reveals much about the elite mindset in relation to the mass of humanity and the possibility of progress.

The central idea that is being endorsed in many of these intellectual discussions is that humanity should give up on the idea of economic growth. Striving to make the mass of the world significantly richer is viewed as counterproductive. It is seen as undermining quality of life, damaging the environment and threatening planetary disaster. It is a view I have called ‘growth scepticism’, because it purports to support growth in principle but, through the conditions it attaches, it constantly undermines it in practice (1).

Several core assumptions typically accompany this aversion to economic progress. Humans are seen as defined primarily by what they consume – and mass consumption is viewed with revulsion by the elite. In that respect, growth scepticism can be seen as a defensive response to protect what the elite regards as its fair share of resources.

At the same time, the productive and creative side of humanity is downplayed or even ignored. Growth sceptics have lost confidence in the ability of human ingenuity to solve difficult problems or reshape the world for the better. Growth scepticism is also a strongly asocial approach. The emphasis is on individuals and households rather than understanding society as a whole. There is little attempt to probe the complex relations of consumption and production that characterise modern societies.

With such a diminished view of humanity, it is hardly surprising that pessimistic conclusions are drawn about economic progress. If humanity really did simply consist of seven billion consumers – a giant swarm of human locusts – then the future would indeed be bleak. But if it is understood that humans are also capable of amazing feats of creativity and production, then the prognosis is entirely different. Humans are not simply consumers, but producers capable of remarkable ingenuity.

Once this context is understood, it is possible to start to appreciate the implications of the widespread move away from seeing economic growth as the driving force behind human progress. The point is not that the target of these thinkers’ wrath – Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the conventional measure of economic output – is a perfect measure of progress or human wellbeing. On the contrary, it has many flaws and alternative indicators of welfare can be useful. But the current discussion is not about the GDP measurement itself – rather it is about undermining the desire for economic progress.

Superseding GDP

Although the attack on GDP is often presented as an innovative, radical campaign, it is in fact a long-standing focus in official circles. As far back as 1990, the United Nations Development Programme launched the Human Development Index (HDI) as a measure of wellbeing in the poorer countries (2). The HDI combined life expectancy, literacy and income into a composite measure of wellbeing. Then in 1992, the United Nations Rio Summit, attended by most of the world’s top leaders, adopted Agenda 21, which invited signatory countries to develop ‘sustainability indicators’....

However, undoubtedly the highest profile of all such reports was a commission inaugurated by Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, in 2008. It included many of the world’s leading academic superstars in social science. The three key authors of the report were Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel laureate in economics, former chief economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and to the World Bank), Amartya Sen (Nobel laureate, also one of the architects of the HDI), and Jean-Paul Fitoussi (an economic adviser to Sarkozy). Other panellists included Daniel Kahneman (Nobel laureate for his work in behavioural economics), Nicholas Stern (known for the key British government report on the economics of climate change) and Robert Putnam (a Harvard academic known for his key Bowling Alone study on social capital) (9).

A full technical version of the report was published last year as the ‘Report by the Commission on Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress’. Less formally it was known as the Sen-Stiglitz-Fitoussi report, or simply the Sarkozy report (10).

Recently a non-technical version of the report was published as Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up. The report starts with a foreword by Sarkozy, followed by sections on traditional problems with GDP, quality of life, and sustainable development and environment. It repays examining in some detail, as it draws out many of the flawed assumptions embodied in the attack on GDP.
Forcing a change in behaviour

Sarkozy’s foreword is useful as it makes many of the assumptions embodied in the report explicit. His opening sentence is particularly telling: ‘I hold a firm belief: we will not change our behaviour unless we change the ways we measure our economic performance.’ This immediately puts the discussion in its proper context: the political class is intent on encouraging the mass of the population to behave in a different way.

Soon afterwards he starts to explain what this means. ‘We must change the way we live, consume and produce.’ He goes to call for ‘a revolution in our minds, in the way we think, in our mindsets and values’. So Sarkozy is keen for a transformation of behaviour and values. He wants us to be satisfied with less and for our subdued desires to be reflected in our behaviour.

He then goes on to make the point that the discussion of statistics is not only about numbers. ‘Our statistics and accounts reflect our aspirations, the values that we assign things. They are inseparable from our vision of the world and the economy, of society, and our conception of human beings and our inter-relations.’

He also makes two common but dubious assertions. He argues that economic growth is destroying what it is creating and endangering the future of the planet. Then he approvingly cites the commission’s authors arguing that most people perceive themselves as worse off because they actually are worse off.

Interestingly, Sarkozy closes his foreword by stating his opposition to ‘conformism, conservatism, and short-sighted interests’. Despite being the French head of state and a member of the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), he presents his arguments as somehow radical. This is a typical growth-sceptic perspective. In their upside-down world, ordinary people demanding a more prosperous life are a conservative force, while the romantic demand for restraint is radical.

The authors of the report have obediently followed Sarkozy’s vision. They have produced a technical-sounding report which suggests that downgrading the importance of economic progress would somehow benefit humanity. No doubt the report’s arguments will be percolated down to the mass of the population by other equally conformist politicians, non-governmental organisations and journalists....

Most fundamentally there is a problem with the way the Sarkozy report downgrades the importance of production. It fails to see that increasing and transforming production is a pre-condition for human advance. Economic growth is central to the more general project of social progress. In any case, everything that is consumed has first to be produced. Increased production is also closely associated with technological and scientific advance.

It is true that in a market-based society a relatively small number of people can command many of the revenues generated by growth – although the empirical record shows that even the poor gain substantially from rising economic output. Even poorer countries have typically benefited from large rises in life expectancy, sharp declines in infant mortality, higher levels of literacy, better nutrition and many other developments. But whatever the reality of inequality, it is absolutely certain that without economic growth the mass of society will not be able to meet its needs.

This is most obviously true in relation to the developing world – which was included in the remit of the report. It has been forgotten that such countries need not only economic growth, but more broadly an economic transformation. For their living standards to rise to match those in the West, they need more efficient production combined with industrialisation and urbanisation. Otherwise, whatever the protestations of Western greens, they will be condemned to remain in poverty.



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 or 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.


30 May, 2010

In defense of bigots

This may come as a shock to collectivists, but narrow-minded, prejudiced, rude, stupid bigots have the same rights as everyone else.

The recent television discussion between Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) and Rachel Maddow (collectivist propagandist) has gotten a lot of attention, and has prompted a flood of comments from people who don't know how to think. Personally, I think Rand deserves some criticism for his comments ... for being too civil and too "moderate" with the state-violence-worshiping hostess. To the question of whether a restaurant owner has the right to have a "No blacks allowed" policy, the principled answer would have been, unapologetically and unconditionally:

"Yes, a restaurant owner has the absolute right to serve and not serve whomever he damn well pleases, for any reason or no reason at all. An owner can say 'No blacks allowed,' or 'No whites allowed,' or 'Only atheist albino midgets allowed.' It's his damn property, and no one--not you, not me, and not any collective or any 'government'--has the right to initiate violence to FORCE him to do whatever WE think would be the polite, fair, noble thing."

It's bizarre how statists--those who advocate that the violence of
"government" be used to fix every "unfairness" they see (or imagine)--are the ones who most often claim to be "tolerant." To "tolerate" something doesn't mean to approve of something, or to support it--it only means to let it exist. Therefore, the bigot who chooses not to deal with his money, or on his property, with a particular racial or religious group, but who doesn't go onto their property to harass or attack them, is being 100% tolerant of them. On the other hand, Rachel Maddow, and millions of other well-indoctrinated collectivist Americans, who seek to have "government" forcibly impose their version of "fairness" on the bigot, are being completely intolerant. Ironically, they feel good about it, and consider themselves compassionate and morally superior for wanting to introduce violence into the situation, via "legal" coercion.

I wonder what Comrade Maddow would think if the Department of Fairness determined that she was spending too much of her money at white-owned businesses, and commanded her to change her evil ways. Would she suddenly recognize the principle involved here? How about if the Fairness Fascists told Black Entertainment Television (BET), or the NAACP, that they were required to hire more whites, and were commanded to stop trying to target their services towards one particular racial group?

The principle is not complicated: You get to decide who you will associate with and trade with, and I get to decide who I will associate and trade with. And yes, some people--quite a few, in fact--will make choices that you or I would find stupid, or even offensive. You have the right to not patronize businesses you don't approve of. You have the right to publicly criticize their practices. You have the right to encourage other people to boycott such businesses. But you do not have the right to choose what is to be done with someone else's property. The notion that the collective has some right to forcibly impose its beliefs on every individual is infinitely more destructive than letting people be stupid with their own property.

Exactly what threat is posed to society by some racist dude who won't let people of another race onto his property? Damn near none. (And how many customers do you think the guy would get anyway?) His choices of who to associate with, and who to trade with, are his--and his alone--to make. That is true of everyone, of all races and religions.

In contrast, an enormous threat is posed to society by people thinking that they have the right, via "government" mercenaries, to force people into associations and trades those people don't want to make. You can call it "affirmative action," or "anti-discrimination laws," or some other euphemisms that make you feel better about it, but what you are advocating is adding violence into a situation to try to achieve whatever you deem to be "fair." And if you think that using the state to force people to deal with each other is going to lead to peace, love and harmony, you're a bonehead. Do you really think the KKK guy with the "government" gun pointed at his head is suddenly going to start loving black people? Of course not. Getting "government" mercenaries involved will only exacerbate the problem.

And don't think the tyrants don't know this. What those in "government" have done in the name of improving "race relations" was designed to forever divide the races, and to keep both sides forever begging "government" for its blessings and preferential treatment. The result is perpetual strife among the citizenry, and increased power for politicians.

Keep in mind, slavery lasted as long as it did only because it was sanctioned by "government." How long do you think slavery would have lasted if there was not a national network of "law enforcement" using violence against those who attempted to free slaves? And the Jim Crow "laws" were edicts from the tyrants, forcing business-owners to discriminate. Remember the Rosa Parks incident? It was the result of a "law" mandating racial segregation on busses.

Now, do you really think that the establishment Democrat party which pushed for those segregation and other racist "legislation" suddenly grew a conscience when the "civil rights movement" expanded? No, they just found a new way to control and subjugate people, black and white. The racist, divisive, oppressive "Jim Crow" type policies were replaced by racist, divisive, oppressive "civil rights" legislation. (Heck, they didn't even always change the faces. Try doing an internet search for Robert Byrd--U.S. Senator and former KKK big-wig--and the term "race mongrels," and see if you still believe that the Democrat party establishment has the best interests of black folk at heart.)

(As an aside, I find it very impressive that way back in 1865, Frederick Douglass, a former slave, could already see that "government" efforts to "help" the freed slaves was a really bad idea, and that the best thing the politicians could do was nothing. Regarding the politicians' "attempt to prop up the Negro," Douglass implored them to simply "Let him alone," and "Let him fall if he cannot stand alone!")

In short, if you want to be tolerant, open-minded, compassionate, and peacefully coexist with people of all colors, creeds, etc., then you need to recognize that "government" is always the enemy, even when it pretends to offer "help." It will always try to pit you against some other group, and will always try to use differences (or make differences) in order to increase its own power. It will always add threats and coercion to the situation--that's all it ever does, and all it can do (that's all "law" is)--and that is not the way to achieve harmony, justice, or fairness.

"Government" is the enemy of blacks, the enemy of whites, the enemy of humanity. But as long as the people keep falling for the tyrant tricks--as long as we keep crying to the control freaks in "government" to forcibly impose our preferences and beliefs on everyone else--then human society will be nothing but a cage full of squabbling brats, all whining for the jailer to whip the other prisoners harder (which is pretty much what every election is).

The other choice--and I realize this is pretty darn radical--is to accept the fact that .... I OWN ME, and YOU OWN YOU.


'Caucasian Only' Ad in Massachusetts Newspaper draws fire

This ban is an example of the intolerance discussed in the article immediately above.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is investigating a racially charged advertisement that was in a local newspaper. The ad announcing land for sale appeared in the New Bedford Standard-Times recently and was placed by Harmon Law Office in Newton, MyFoxBoston reports.

The advertisement stated that the land "...shall not be sold, leased or rented to any person other than of the Caucasian race or to any entity of which any person other than of said race shall be a member, stockholder, officer or director."

“Such restrictive covenants have long been deemed unlawful and unenforceable under Massachusetts statute, and conveyance of any such deed is expressly prohibited under Massachusetts anti-discrimination law,” said MCAD Chairman and Commissioner Malcolm Medley. “Advertising such a sale may also be unlawful under the statute. Our obligation is to investigate this matter to determine whether a violation of law has occurred.”

Harmon Law issued a statement to FOX25: "This notice involves a restriction that a previous owner placed on the property. We do not condone the language and do not believe that it would be enforceable. It is industry practice to include in the notice of sale the exact legal description as set forth in the mortgage. We have removed the language for future legal notices."

The MCAD investigation comes just days after Fox Undercover did its own investigation of housing discrimination in Massachusetts.

Figures from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development show that since 2007, there have been 324 complaints filed in Massachusetts alleging housing discrimination based on race and national origin.


Sir David Attenborough laments health and safety rules that stops children roaming countryside

Sir David Attenborough has lamented the health and safety culture that is preventing children from 'roaming the countryside' discovering nature. The veteran natural history broadcaster said he learned many of his skills "fossicking" or searching around the countryside for birds eggs, insects and flowers.

But today children are prevented from spending time alone in the countryside because of traffic and fears of abduction. As a consequence the country risks losing the next generation of naturalists.

"Kids of ten or twelve are not encouraged to get on their bikes and go fossicking around the countryside where their mothers do not know where they are," he said. "That was not the case for me. I was able to get on my bike and sit in the fields of Leicestershire watching animals. I learned a lot about natural history."

Sir David has spoken out before about laws that stop children collecting fossils or flowers. He said the rules should be relaxed so children are able to take common species. The 84-year-old also called for more opportunities for children for exploring nature at home and school.

"It is my belief that there is barely a child born into this world who is not initially interested in nature and other creatures," he said. "Now it much more difficult for children. Agreed you cannot have everybody collecting birds eggs but children should be able to collect fossils and flora here and there. Those are the ways naturalist are born. I am sorry for legal reasons and perfectly proper reasons so many of our children are no longer allowed to do that."

Speaking at the 10th Anniversary of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre in London, Sir David said people in modern Britain are "out of touch" with the nature that can be seen in their own environment.

"There is a huge amount to be learned and we are getting less and less in touch," he said. "We are in a paradoxical situation in that whereas over half the world's population is becoming urbanised and knowing less and less, oddly through the television they more and more about exotic places like the Galapagos or theEcuadorian rainforests or the plains of East Africa that they ever have knew known. I dare say they know more about East African lions and game than they do about foxes."

The presenter praised recent programmes on British wildlife like the BBC's Springwatch but said more needed to be done to educate people about nature in their own surroundings.

He urged people to go "on safari" in their backyard by using the techniques learned in nature programmes to watch wildlife. He also said they could dig ponds and plant bee-friendly plants to encourage wildlife into gardens. "You can transfer the principles of what you see in a decent natural history programme into the studying the nature you see around you," he said.


A brotherly disagreement over faith

Christopher Hitchens, the celebrated author and polemicist, never got on with his younger brother, Peter. Some siblings, spawned from the same genetic pool but vastly different in character, temperament and outlook, just don't.

Famous for his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher has become a champion of atheism and secular liberalism. He came to Australia this month to promote his memoir Hitch-22, an enticing prospect for readers who know something of his extraordinary life, wit and command of language. But at the same time that Hitch-22 hits the shelves, so does The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, Peter Hitchens's personal response to his older brother's attack on God and all things religious.

The younger Hitchens, also a noted journalist and author, was once an atheist (and radical socialist), but returned to faith in his 30s and has remained a believer ever since. This course of events has no doubt added to existing tensions between the two, although the truth is they would have lived very separate lives anyway.

Christopher decided upon the folly of religion at a very early age. It's not hard to see why his early experience of Christianity was a turn-off. Sent to boarding school at age eight, he entered a brutal ''Tom Brown's school days'' world where a sadistic and spartan regimen came to be, in the mind of the young Hitchens, closely associated with the religious trappings of the institution.

Peter's own youthful rejection of the faith was followed by years embracing a secular creed and international socialism. He writes that he passed through the same atheist revelation his brother and many self-confident members of his generation experienced as they rejected a sagging postwar establishment, where the sheen had somehow been rubbed off everyone from the policeman to the vicar, the local MP to the school headmaster. Engrossed in modernity and technology, his generation came to see God as a nuisance and religion as an embarrassment.

But the accidental concord with his brother's sensibilities was not to last. In The Rage Against God he directly counteract the arguments of the New Atheists by drawing attention to what he sees as logical flaws, inconsistencies and blind spots.

Are conflicts fought in the name of religion always about religion? The younger brother sees such an idea as "a crude factual misunderstanding". Is it ultimately possible to know what is right and wrong without acknowledging the existence of a deity? He insists that, to be effectively absolute, a moral code must be beyond human power to alter.

And he rejects his brother's strident claim that teaching religious concepts to children is a form of child abuse. Believers and non-believers should be free to raise their children as they wish, but it would be ridiculous to pretend, says Peter, that it is a neutral act to tell a child "the heavens are empty, that the universe is founded on chaos rather than love, and that the child's grandparents on dying have ceased altogether to exist''.

So what brought the prodigal back into the fold? His personal 'rage against God' came to an end when he hit marriage and fatherhood - "a cliche of discovery that is too obvious and universal, and also too profound, private and unique to discuss with strangers", he writes.

His experiences living and reporting from Russia and eastern Europe profoundly shaped his view of the world. Having lived in Moscow at the close of the Soviet era, and having witnessed other atheistic regimes in full flight, he refuses to accept his brother's evasion of what he sees as an organic link between atheism and the most notorious modernist experiments of the 20th century.

It is this experience that appears to shape his concerns for society. He believes Christianity is under attack today because it remains the most coherent and potent obstacle to frightening and ruthless idealism: "The concepts of sin, of conscience, of eternal life, and of divine justice under an unalterable law are the ultimate defence against the utopian's belief that ends justify means and that morality is relative. These concepts are safeguards against the worship of human power."

In Hitch-22, Christopher describes Peter, with uncharacteristic gentleness, as "to outward appearances almost tragically right-wing". There will be some who would be tempted to dismiss Peter's arguments because of this. But his literary quarrel with his brother brings into the light some important counter-arguments to the New Atheist claims. And through his experiences in the Soviet Union he does provide profound observations and warnings about a culture that has banished God from every area of public life.

He longs for an argument from atheists that "recognises the possible attractions to the intelligent mind of the religious explanation rather than denouncing all religious belief as stupid". Of course many non-believers are not in that camp. No doubt he is thinking of his brother, whose disdain for all religion remains intractable.

But as Peter makes clear, it is not really arguments that will win the day or change the heart of a person so sure of a godless universe and the singularly negative impact of religion. "'Those who choose to argue in prose, even if it is very good prose, are unlikely to be receptive to a case which is most effectively couched in poetry," he writes. Ultimately shrill and often ugly arguments for and against the existence of God mask something deeper and more personal.

Peter describes a 2008 public debate with Christopher in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the existence of God in which, despite the hopes of the gathered throng, both men refrained from a public mauling of each other. Somehow it didn't feel right. He says it was as if the longest quarrel of his life was over. "On this my brother and I agree: that independence of mind are immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so."



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 or 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.


29 May, 2010

Must not react to Gypsy crime

Gypsies normally live by petty crime, and always have

A Swedish appeals court has ruled that a Norrköping hotel was guilty of discriminating against a guest who was participating at a conference on ethnic discrimination at the time.

The court upheld a district court ruling in favour of the Discrimination Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsman - DO) who had taken up the woman's case, and ordered the hotel to pay 8,000 kronor ($1,000) in compensation plus interest and court costs.

The woman, whose is member of Sweden's Roma community, was attending the conference at the Elite Grand Hotel in Norrköping in eastern Sweden when she was repeatedly asked by staff as to why she was there.

According to court documents three different members of staff approached the woman and asked her whether she was a guest at the hotel. At one point she was informed that the coffee which she was helping herself to at the time was for the consumption of paying guests only.

The woman was in Norrköping to attend a conference addressing the subject of ethnic discrimination and she later reported the hotel to DO.

The hotel responded, in its defence, that it had previously had problems with Roma and thefts, an explanation the hotel later changed, arguing instead that staff are instructed to check the identity of all guests that they don't immediately recognise.

"It is almost impossible to imagine that hotel staff in practice approach every single guest that they do not immediately recognize," the court stated in response to the hotel's explanation.

The court furthermore ruled that the Grand Hotel had not sufficiently been able to prove that the woman had not suffered insult or injury as a result of the discrimination and thus remained liable to pay the damages awarded by district court.

The Elite Grand Hotel Norrköping's general manager, Krister Eriksson, told The Local on Friday that he was unwilling to comment further on the case.


Must not describe neighborhood ethnicity

A South Buffalo landlord will have to pay a $1,000 settlement as a result of an advertisement on craigslist that described an apartment for rent in a “nice Irish neighborhood.”

Because federal and state fair-housing laws prohibit the use of preferential or discriminatory language, Housing Opportunities Made Equal began an investigation and dispatched testers to play the role of prospective renters.

According to the federal complaint, property owner Abdul Aljamali asked an African- American tester whether she had children, which is in violation of the state’s Human Rights Law.

The white tester also was asked about children and additionally was told that “there are no coloreds here . . . I hope your husband isn’t black.”

HOME filed a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which refereed the case to the state Division of Human Rights for investigation and adjudication.

In a settlement agreement, which did not constitute an admission of wrongdoing, Aljamali agreed to a pay the $1,000 in seven installments, as well as undergo training in fair-housing standards, record-keeping and reporting, said HOME officials.

The settlement was reached April 30, and payments begin in June, said Rayna Grossman, HOME community educator.

HOME is a civil rights organization that has led the struggle for fair housing in the Buffalo Niagara region since 1963.


Useless, jobless men – the social blight of our age

The British benefits system has produced an emasculated generation who can find neither work nor a wife

Of all the government adverts that have swamped our radio stations these past few years (must be a quick saving there for the Treasury), one of the most irritating was the jolly woman asking us in a sing-song voice if we had remembered to report changes in our circumstances. Like hell. Every time I heard the ad it conjured up a vision of a lonely official waiting in vain at her desk for people to come in and sign away entitlements to which they feel, well, entitled.

This pathetic advert seemed to me to epitomise the politicians’ total loss of control over the monster that is our benefits system. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) presides over a system so complex that it has to issue 8,690 pages of guidance to help its staff to apply its 51 different benefits — the product of the ever more precise targeting of benefits to particular groups.

In the years of plenty, it was easier to placate and complicate than to simplify. Every new benefit and its separate computer system was just bolted on to the mainframe. But the result is that Britain has more than twice the number of sick people as France. The potential for playing the system, defrauding the system and falling foul of the system is enormous.

So in declaring war yesterday on both poverty and the benefits system, Iain Duncan Smith had it right. If the Government is going to make real inroads into the deficit it will have to tackle the nearly £200 billion welfare budget, which is a third of government spending. This week’s £6 billion of cuts was only Round 1: £6 billion is only 1 per cent of government expenditure, so this was a warm-up. Round 2 will need to take on the DWP leviathan.

But the argument for welfare reform is not just one of affordability. In too many cases, welfare has entrenched poverty. Mr Duncan Smith is one of the few politicians who really understand the poverty trap. Gordon Brown made life more bearable for many people on benefits, but he also made it harder to escape from them. Get a job tomorrow earning between £10,000 and £30,000 a year and you’ll take home only 30p out of every extra pound you earn after the first £10,000. Twenty pence will go in income tax, 11p in national insurance, and 39p in lost tax credits. Add in the loss of other allowances (housing benefit, council tax benefit) and you may find it simply doesn’t pay to work harder. Our poverty trap is deeper than that of most other European countries. That is a strange legacy for a government that wanted to make work pay.

The fear of losing benefits — of not being able to scramble back on to the lifeboat if you fall off — is a huge disincentive to change your circumstances, let alone report them. One in seven working-age households is dependent on benefits for more than half its income. More than half of all lone parents depend on the State for at least half their income. William Beveridge would be horrified to discover that the safety net he designed has become a trap, creating generations of worklessness and dwindling self-esteem. It is also creating a glut of unemployed, unwanted, unmarriageable men.

These men were overlooked during a decade of prosperity that did nothing to change their lives. At the beginning of that decade, 5.4 million working-age adults were claiming out-of-work benefits. The same number were still claiming just before the recession struck. Almost a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds were not in education, employment or training in 1997. The number was identical in 2006. These people stayed put in the Welsh valleys, in Liverpool, in Glasgow, while Eastern Europeans travelled a thousand miles to pick up work on construction sites in London. Immigration reduced the opportunities available to white British men whose poor education made them less attractive candidates, while the benefits system undermined their motivation.

The problem affects the whole of society because of the striking correlation between male joblessness and single motherhood, particularly in the old industrial cities. In Liverpool, male unemployment rose from 12 per cent in 1971 to 30 per cent in 2001. In 1971 11 per cent of families were headed by a single parent; by 2001, 45 per cent were. Similar patterns can be seen in Birmingham, Strathclyde and Newcastle. The epidemic of male joblessness after the collapse of manufacturing industries coincided with an increase in female employment and welfare support to mothers who found that they could manage alone.

Overlooked by society, irrelevant to employers, unwanted by women who can raise families on benefits without their help, the man who has no work or a series of short-term jobs is a problem. Without steady work, he will struggle to acquire a family: unemployed men are less likely to marry or cohabit than employed ones. Without a stable relationship, he is less likely to grow into a good family man and raise good sons. The taxpayer has become the father: one in four mothers is single and more than half live on welfare. A lot of these women describe the real fathers of their children as “useless” or worse. The men have no role.

In the worst cases, the State has helped to create a class of jobless serial boyfriends who prey on single mothers on benefits. When two of these men moved into the flat that Haringey Council had generously provided for Tracey Connelly, Baby P’s mother, the little boy’s fate was sealed. They killed him. Other such men appear in bit parts in tragedies such as that of Shannon Matthews, abducted and drugged by her own “family”. The welfare system has helped to deprive these children of the most effective check on abuse — the family.

Robert Rowthorn, Professor of Economics at Cambridge, has shown that female and male worklessness have been going in opposite directions for 30 years, well before this latest “mancession”. His research suggests that half the rise in lone parenthood in the past 30 years may be due to male unemployment. He believes that governments must start to focus on these men, and question the feminisation of education and the workplace. It is no solution, he says, to say that women don’t need men or that men should become more female. Nor is it any good waiting for economic growth to dig them out of poverty. Those men need a chance, not a benefits system that undermines them.


Don’t trust Google, trust the government

Comment from Australia by Jessica Brown

Thank goodness for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and his tireless campaign to protect us from the nasty World Wide Web. Like a brave David squaring up against colossal Goliath, he vows to protect us from the evil clutches of internet behemoth Google and its dastardly ways.

In a Senate Estimates hearing this week, Conroy launched a scathing attack on the search giant for a privacy breach in which personal data were inadvertently collected from some Wi-Fi users. The breach was indeed serious, and Conroy is not the only person around the globe to raise concerns. But he just might be the angriest.

A quick scan of HANSARD, however, reveals that Conroy’s real problem with Google is that the search engine doesn’t know its place. ‘They consider themselves to be above government,’ says the Senator. ‘When it comes to their attitude to their own censorship, their response is simply, “Trust us.” They state on the website, “Trust us.”'

And it is this attitude that, according to Conroy, is so dangerous. Perhaps he has a point?

Google can decide – on a whim – to remove web pages it doesn’t like. We will never know what they are because its blacklist is a secret. We don’t even know what criteria are used to decide which pages get binned, or if and when those criteria are changed.

But guess what? It’s the same story with Conroy’s proposed internet filter.

The only difference is, if you don’t like the way Google works you can switch to Bing, Yahoo or any of the other multitude of search engines. If you don’t like the way the government’s internet filter will work, your best option is to leave the country.

Conroy doesn’t really see the connection though. While Google is a ‘corporate giant who is answerable to no one and motivated solely by profit,’ his government is driven by an altruistic urge to protect us all.
But what about those times when it is motivated not by altruism but by a desire to win the next election? Or push an ideological barrow? Or buy off an interest group? Or pander to the political views of an independent that holds the balance of power?

Can we really trust the government to decide – behind our backs – what is in our best interests any more than we can trust Google?

Perhaps a (not so?) radical idea would be for Conroy to trust us to decide for ourselves.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 28 May. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


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 or 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.


28 May, 2010

Nine out of ten on British incapacity benefits 'are fit to return to work'

Nine out of ten who claim to be too sick to work are actually fit to take a job, an official study has found. The figure emerged in the first report of pilot medical tests for incapacity benefit applicants.

At the end of 2008, all fresh claimants were told to apply for new-style employment and support allowances. Benefit levels were maintained but paid out only after rigorous medical assessments that were carried out by a private firm. The report into the trial found that virtually all of the 500,000 incapacity applicants under the new regime had had their claims rejected.

An astonishing 37 per cent abandoned their applications when they discovered they would undergo medical tests. Of those who went on to take the tests only 9 per cent were deemed to be too ill to work. More than two-thirds were told to look for work immediately, while a quarter were given extra support to help them back into the workplace.

Ian Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, announced yesterday that the 2.6 million existing claimants will also have to take the tests. He said that if someone genuinely could not work they would continue to qualify for additional benefits.

But those assessed as fit would be moved immediately on to jobseekers' allowance - cutting their benefits by more than £25 a week and requiring them to seek work. He claimed that anyone on incapacity benefit for at least two years is more likely to die than work again.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper conceded that Labour had been 'slow to get started on some of the incapacity reforms' but pointed out that they were under way before the election.

Paul Farmer, of the mental health charity Mind, called for the tests to be overhauled before the system is rolled out to all incapacity claimants. He said the tests didn't work for mental health sufferers.


"Moderate" Islam at work

Egyptian TV: “We Must Get Our Children Accustomed to Hating the Jews.”

This slice of progressive education from Egyptian TV is notable for a few reasons. Egyptian TV is state run, hence all programming and opinions have the official Egyptian seal of approval. Egyptian cleric sheik Ahmad Al-Johainy soberly instructs his audience that if you want to learn how to properly and vigorously hate Jews, well, just study the Koran. It is the authoratative text.

Unlike others who claim that modern day Muslim Jew-hatred is derived from Nazi ideology, Seraphic Secret maintains that normative Islam is the source of Arab Muslim Jew-hatred. Nazi propaganda is just the icing on the cake.

The video is quite refreshing. The imam does not even try and pretend that he's “merely anti-Zionist.” He's wonderfully candid and proud of his Jew-hatred.

And make no mistake about it, the hatred of Jews has nothing to do with so-called occupation or so-called settlements, just as the Arab-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with national boundaries. It's codified Islamist intolerance that goes back to the times of Mohammed, a doctrine that sees the annihilation of the Jewish people as a religious duty.

Ironically, Egypt is considered a moderate Muslim country. If this is the face of moderation imagine the barbarism of Gaza, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iran.

The racist views of this genocidal yearning imam are the norm in the Arab Muslim world. Arab TV is saturated in this kind of filth.

Finally, the so-called peace process is and will remain a dangerous delusion until the Arab Muslim world frees itself from the malignancy of Jew-hatred.
We must enlighten the younger generation about our cruel enemy. We must show them who the enemies are, who the Jews are. This must be done in several respects.

First, there is the family. The parents must take an interest in their children, and teach them who the Jews are. This must be achieved by means of the Koran, by studying the raids of the Prophet Muhammad, and how he treated the Jews of the Nazir, Quraiza, and Qaynuqa’ tribes – how the Prophet dealt with the Jews, how he signed a treaty with them, only to be betrayed by them, and what he did to them, after they had violated the treaties. We must teach these things to our children. We must plant in our children’s hearts the truth about the Jews — that oppressive and cruel enemy.

We must teach our children who the Jews are. We must get our children accustomed to hating the Jews. We don’t want our children to grow up knowing nothing.

Go to MEMRI to view the video.


Empathy for Mass Murderers?

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely vote on whether to promote District Judge Robert Chatigny to a life-tenured seat on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Any citizen who expects judges to bring the most heinous criminals to justice should be seriously concerned about this nomination.

In an infamous 2005 case, Chatigny, a judge on the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, fought tooth and nail to remove a serial rapist and murderer from death row. Chatigny argued that the murderer, known as the Roadside Strangler, “never should have been convicted” and certainly should not have received the death penalty. Why? Because he was “sexually sadistic.” Yes, according to this judge, the fact that the murderer was driven by excitement at the suffering of his victims somehow makes him less culpable for the lives he took.

Here’s a quick history of the case. Michael Ross confessed to the rape and murder of eight young women. A jury determined that his actions warranted the death sentence—the first handed down in Connecticut in over 40 years. After 20 years of failed appeals by his attorneys, Ross decided to accept the sentence. Days before the scheduled execution, the public defender’s office requested a stay of the execution—against Ross’s wishes—arguing that “death row syndrome” had caused Ross to fall into suicidal despair. Chatigny granted the stay based on this strained argument. The U.S. Supreme Court did not buy Chatigny’s foray into bench-chair psychology and ultimately vacated the stay.

While the stay was pending before the Supreme Court, Chatigny granted a temporary restraining order on behalf of Ross’s father, arguing that the execution would “extinguish [the father’s] constitutionally protected bond with his son in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in that the State will have assisted his son in committing suicide, which is a crime in itself.”

The idea that the Fourteenth Amendment somehow protects father-son bonding is novel to say the least. It is hard to say which is more preposterous: this or the notion that the state is engaging in “assisted suicide” by executing a brutal murderer who refuses to fight his death sentence. Ross was not sentenced to death because he wanted it, but because he deserved it. The Second Circuit and the Supreme Court vacated the temporary restraining order.

But Chatigny’s activism in the case did not end there. In addition to issuing judgments and orders, he actively advocated outside of the courtroom for Chatigny’s death sentence to be remanded, even bullying an attorney with threats to his legal career.

The day before Ross’s execution was to take place, Chatigny held a conference call with members of the public defender’s office and Ross’s attorney, T.R. Paulding. He demanded to know why Paulding was not taking further action and accused Paulding of being complicit at Ross’s attempt to gain “state-assisted suicide.” During the call, he threatened Paulding saying, “I’ll have your law license,” adding that, “if Michael Ross is dead, oh, boy it’s not going to be nice for anybody.”

It was during this call that Chatigny made the outrageous claim that Ross’s sexual sadism made him less culpable for his crime. Not only was he less culpable but, in Chatigny’s words, he was the “least culpable of anyone on death row.” Chatigny further asserted that Ross’s sexual sadism was “clearly a mitigating factor.” If this standard was actually applied in criminal law cases, imagine how many rapists and murderers would serve even shorter sentences than they already do.

While Judge Chatigny was later cleared of ethical wrongdoing by a panel of Second Circuit judges, this does not mean that he should have been cleared or that his actions should be forgotten. His behavior in this case raises red flags about both his temperament and his ability to be impartial.

The facts are stark. Chatigny abdicated his role as an impartial judge—not even feigning neutrality. Instead, he pursued his desired result by whatever means necessary. This sort of behavior is unacceptable for any court in the land at any level of government. Such conduct raises grave concerns about his proposed promotion to an even higher life-tenured judicial position.

Reasonable people can differ on the societal desirability of having a death penalty, but the legal questions of the Ross case were not open to reasonable debate. A capital sentence was handed down by the people and the state of Connecticut. Chatigny put his own judgment about administering the death penalty above the unanimous decision of the jury, the state legislature (which provides capital punishment as an option for the most serious crimes), the numerous state court judges who heard his direct and collateral appeals, and even—indirectly--the United States Supreme Court, which has upheld capital punishment for aggravated murders in cases like Ross’s. For Chatigny, none of that seemed to matter. He was looking for any flimsy theory to overturn the judgment.

President Obama has stated that he considers “empathy” a necessary quality for judges. This is a perfect illustration of why empathy should not be a judicial standard. If we accept that a judge may rule based on personal empathy, we must also accept that we cannot control the direction or depth of that empathy.

District courts are generally much more constrained in their actions by higher courts, as occurred in this case through multiple reversals. But this one instance is enough to show that Chatigny has a penchant for inventing bizarre constitutional rights at a whim. If he is elevated to the Second Circuit, time can only tell what rights he will create next.


Rand Paul and the right to be odious

by Jeff Jacoby

ONE PUZZLE about Rand Paul's much-discussed interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last week is why he ever allowed himself to get drawn into a discussion of his doubts about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One day after winning the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, was that really a topic he thought it would be useful to explore on national television?

I suspect that's exactly what he thought. I can't prove it, of course, but I imagine that in the flush of his victory and the certainty of his convictions, he thought the moment was right for a fearless demonstration of libertarian principle -- for making it clear that when it comes to liberty and the Constitution, he makes no exceptions. Not even for a law as iconic as the Civil Rights Act.

All he ended up demonstrating, however, was his inability to thoughtfully defend his position. Which was a shame, because the principle Paul was contending for -- that freedom necessarily includes the freedom to make unpopular, even wicked, personal choices -- is not frivolous. The fact that discrimination may be wrong does not establish that it must be illegal. Regardless of your view of the Civil Rights Act, that is an argument worth hearing. But Paul failed to make it.

In the interview's key exchange, Maddow asked Paul: "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" This was his reply:

"I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. . . . But I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way. . . . We tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized."

Paul went on to explain that he embraced the 90 percent of the Civil Rights Act that targeted "governmental racism or discrimination," such as the Southern Jim Crow laws and segregated schools. It was only the remaining 10 percent, the ban on discrimination by private businesses, that he balked at. He personally would shun any Woolworth's lunch counter that refused to serve blacks, but he didn't think government had the right to force Woolworth's to desegregate.

The weakness in that position is that it was government that forced Woolworth's and other establishments to exclude blacks in the first place. Jim Crow was imposed by the state, often through police power and over the objection of local businesses, and backed by courts that refused to enforce the 14th Amendment. The Civil Rights Act rightly aimed to uproot not just public discrimination, but private discrimination that government malice had entrenched.

But that was nearly a half-century ago. What is the justification for laws banning private discrimination today, when Jim Crow is dead, racism is overwhelmingly abominated, and a black man is president of the United States? If a bigoted store owner today wants to refuse service to blacks, why should he be barred by law from doing so?

"Unless it's illegal," Maddow told Paul, "there's nothing . . . to stop the country from re-segregating like we were before the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

But does anyone really believe that? With or without a federal law, Jim Crow is never coming back. Segregated restaurants would be as unthinkable today as "No Irish Need Apply" signs. A firm that adopted a "No Blacks" policy would set off a storm of public outrage, with pickets and boycotts, appalled editorials, a chorus of condemnation. If the company didn't back down, it would be driven out of business within a week.

The larger point is that behavior must not be criminalized merely because it is ugly. The same Constitution that guarantees our individual right to express odious ideas should likewise entitle us as individuals to engage in odious discrimination. So long as there is no violence or fraud, we are far better off deciding for ourselves whom we will and won't associate with.

That can be a hard reality to swallow, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. understood. "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought," he wrote in 1928. "Not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate."



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 or 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.


27 May, 2010

British parents beat ban on ‘competitive’ school sports

A children’s sports competition that was cancelled to protect young players from becoming upset if they lost has been reinstated after parents campaigned against the decision.

The tournament, which has taken place in Tweeddale in the Scottish Borders for 40 years, was threatened because sports development officers at the local council believed that primary schoolchildren on losing teams would suffer from “low self-esteem”.

Fiona Pagett, 41, whose daughter attends Broughton Primary, one of the affected schools, said: “I couldn’t believe it. Competition is part of life. You can’t shield children from that.” She lodged a formal complaint with Scottish Borders Council but was told that sports development officers were following guidelines issued by the Scottish Football Association, which also extended to other sports.

Ms Pagett undertook a Facebook campaign supported by other parents and the council reinstated the inter-schools football and netball competition. “I’m pleased they saw sense and realised it was not in the best interests of the children,” Ms Pagett said.

A council spokesman said that it has a “trophy-free” policy to enable children to express themselves “without the focus on the result”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Football Association said: “Our policy for primary schools is a non-competitive one. Years of research has shown that young children’s emotions can be negatively affected by competition.”


Work or lose your benefits: Tories herald biggest shake-up of British welfare state since war

Britain’s welfare system is ‘bust’ and faces its most radical overhaul for 60 years to undo Labour’s legacy of benefit dependency, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has declared.

The former Tory leader vowed to end the scandal that means welfare claimants are no better off – and sometimes poorer – if they come off the dole to take jobs paying up to £15,000 a year. He also signalled that benefit payments to the middle classes were likely to be pared back in favour of income tax cuts – and the state pension age might have to rise more quickly than planned.

Giving his first newspaper interview since making an extraordinary return to the political frontline, Mr Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail the unemployed should do community work to keep benefits. Those who refused to look for work, take jobs that were offered to them or do voluntary work would have their handouts stopped, he said.

Mr Duncan Smith said it was simply not ‘sustainable’ for Britain to carry on spending almost 14 per cent of its national income on welfare. The bewilderingly complex benefits system should be radically simplified, and the perverse penalty against couples living together brought to an end, he added.

Mr Duncan Smith is today preparing to publish startling new evidence of the benefits culture and inequality that Labour has left behind after 13 years in power.

A Government report will reveal that 1.4million people in the UK have been on an out-of-work benefit for nine or more of the past ten years. It will show income inequality in the UK is at its highest level since comparable statistics began in 1961, and a higher proportion of children are growing up in workless households in the UK than in any other EU country.

Mr Duncan Smith said it was clear that Britain’s welfare system was ‘broken’ and ‘bust’. ‘It’s not going to be sustainable,’ he said. ‘We have created a benefits system which basically says you are better off out of work than you are in work.

‘We have to challenge the whole idea that it’s acceptable for a society like Britain to have such a significant number of people who do not work one day of the week and don’t have any possibility of improving the quality of their lives.

‘Five million people are actually sitting there doing nothing, fulfilling no employment role. The present benefits system is counter-productive, it’s complex and difficult to understand.’

Mr Duncan Smith said he wanted a rapid reassessment of all those claiming incapacity benefit and said he would move a ‘significant number’ into work. ‘About 43 per cent of those who are economically inactive are stuck on some sort of sickness benefit. ‘That has risen from about 15 per cent in 1981,’ he said. ‘What we propose will save money, but it will also shake up this nonsense.’

Mr Duncan Smith said that as Britain struggled to pay back its £156billion budget deficit, middleclass welfare would have to be reined in, in favour of income tax breaks.

The Government has already indicated that it will scrap tax credits for better-off families.

He said: ‘The benefits system is a deeply ineffective and costly way of subsidising people’s lives. ‘We obviously have a limited amount of money and our purpose is to improve the quality of life for the worst-off in society so they can play a part and hopefully pay tax one day themselves.’

Mr Duncan Smith said the coalition government represented a ‘once in a generation chance’ for radical welfare reform. He invited senior Labour figures – including his predecessor James Purnell – to help draw up the Government’s plans.

‘What we want to do is reform the welfare system in the way that Tony Blair talked about 13 years ago but never achieved – a system that was created for the days after the Second World War,’ he said. ‘That prize is now I think achievable. I will also invite the Labour Party to play a part in this. Do they want to just sit back and just throw rocks at us? ‘Or do people like James Purnell, who admits that the system cannot go on much longer as it is, want to play a part?’


Publishing the identities of rape accusers

Name both the accuser and the accused

On May 20th, the new U.K. coalition government pledged to change the law so as to extend anonymity in rape cases to cover the accused as well as the accuser, at least until and unless a conviction occurs. A firestorm of controversy has ensued.

The law should not determine what information may be broadcast or revealed to the public. Especially in America, however, the practice of naming those accused of sexual assault while protecting accusers has evolved largely as a tradition. But is it a tradition that encourages false accusations and unjust convictions? If so, it is time to break with tradition.

The prospect of doing so has caused a firestorm of controversy in the U.K. which mirrors the debate that occurred in America during the 2006 Duke Lacrosse rape case in which the lives of three demonstrably innocent young men were almost destroyed by a false accuser, to whom the media first accorded anonymity. As the injustice became obvious, however, various outlets publicly named the woman.

Before examining some of the key arguments, it is important to consider what are the possibilities regarding anonymity or disclosure? Only four exist: both parties are named, neither, only the accused, or only the accuser. Since the option of naming only the accuser never arises, three possibilities remain. (As I argue later, I believe both parties should be identified once the accusation has become a public matter, involving police and the court system.)

Those who want to identify both parties usually contend that false accusations of sexual assault are common place and that protecting the identity of an accuser encourages injustice. Anecdotal information seems to support this contention. For example, as of January 21, 2010, 249 U.S. prisoners have been exonerated by the Innocence Project through DNA testing; almost all of their convictions involved a form of sexual assault.

Unfortunately, statistics on false accusations are notoriously difficult to obtain and vary wildly. (I tend to place the figure at about 20% but, again, that is merely an estimate based on my own review of studies and reports.)

At the high end of estimates is a study by the now-retired Purdue University sociologist Eugene J. Kanin who worked in cooperation with the police in a small metropolitan town. Kanin examined reports of forcible rape from 1978 to 1987 during which 109 accusations were lodged; 45, or 41 percent, were discarded as false. (Note: 'unfounded' cases were counted as 'false.') Why would someone lie? Three factors commonly motivated the false allegations: revenge, the need for an alibi, and a desire for attention.

At the low end is the much-cited but vaguely supported "feminist" figure of 2 percent, which was popularized by Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book on sexual assault,"Against Our Will." There, Brownmiller claimed in passing that false accusations in New York City had dropped to 2 percent after police departments began using policewomen to interview alleged victims. Although the figure subsequently appears in many articles and in legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, legal scholar Michelle Anderson of Villanova University Law School reported in 2004, "no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the two percent false rape complaint thesis."

Two defenses are commonly offered for maintaining anonymity for the accuser: 1) to protect the victim from embarrassment; and, 2) to encourage other victims to come forward in the future.

The first defense rests on the compassionate belief that a rape victim should not be brutalized a second time by publicity but it fails by assuming precisely what is in question. Is the accuser a victim? Is the accused guilty? Until the evidence has been openly examined, these questions cannot be answered. Moreover, sympathy for an alleged victim does not explain why equal consideration is not extended to the accused who should be presumed innocent. Reporting of name might well devastate an innocent life, even if he is not convicted. If compassion protects the accuser's identity, then logically it should also protect the accused.

The second defense for the accuser's anonymity is to encourage accusers to come forward. But there is nothing positive about increasing the number of accusations unless they are accompanied by standards that maintain the accuracy of evidence and the rights of the accused. By lowering standards of accountability, it seems likely that false reports would increase. Moreover, the anonymity decreases the likelihood of a fair trial by disadvantaging the accused. For example, when an accused rapist is publicly named, other victims can come forward to add their testimony. By contrast, when an accuser remains unnamed, witnesses who could discredit her account may be unaware of the proceedings.

What is the solution? First and foremost, no law should be involved. But traditions can be unjust and, when they encourage false accusations or bias a trial, those traditions should be violated. New ones should be forged. Again, once the accusation has become a public matter, involving police and the court system, the names of all parties should become also be public. The demand for transparency in judicial proceedings does not reflect a lack of compassion for or an indifference to victims. Quite the contrary. The right to a public trial is one of the strongest safeguards of justice; and nothing expresses concern for victims more than ensuring judicial fairness.

In America, the media is not and should not be required to protect or to disclose the name of anyone. But a tradition that encourages injustice should be discarded. Name both the accuser and the accused. A free and responsible press should do no less.


Embracing the tormentors

Conducting "truth commissions" to denounce American armed forces and organizing divestment campaigns to cripple Israel are vital issues to some American church officials. Raising the banner of Intifada and expressing solidarity with Palestinians are also very important to this collection of liberal leaders. They "spiritualize" the Democratic immigration and health care reform agendas with pompous prayer, but their social justice-focused prophetic vision has strange blind spots. Leftist church leaders hardly ever see, let alone condemn, the imprisonment, enslavement, torture, and murder of Christians in the Islamic world, North Korea, and China.

Church officials and partner organizations such as the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) issue strident policy statements on such topics as "eco-justice," broadband access for "economically depressed rural areas," the Israeli "occupation," and "unnecessary Department of Defense spending." But one is hard-pressed to find these church leaders denouncing the recent appointment of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. One searches in vain for an expression of solidarity with the Christian community in Jos, Plateau State, in central Nigeria, where hundreds of Christians were slaughtered by Fulani jihadists during March and April of 2010. If there are any such statements, they address vaguely "ethnic conflict" and are masterpieces of moral equivalency.

Such reticence to speak about persecution is not new for liberal church leaders. Downplaying or denying the egregious human rights violations of the Soviet system was symptomatic of Leftist hatred of America and Western values. It was also considered essential to the type of appeasement of tyrants necessary to achieve the liberal Utopian dream of a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free world.

In the 1970's, the NCC's Friendship Press published two mission studies on China seemingly which would be welcome additions to the Anita Dunn library. In both of these so-called "mission studies," Chinese Communism received preferential treatment and the efforts of early Christian missionaries were viewed with disapproval as imperialistic and unwelcome interventions.

The 1975 mission study China: People-Questions, expresses no similar disapproval towards the horrific violence that took place during the Cultural Revolution. Instead, the book praises the Cultural Revolution for having "deepened and continued" the process of moving China to socialism by "unceremoniously" uprooting "mutant social growths." The church mission study gushes, "In time the road of Mao and his followers clearly emerged as the one that humanized the social relations of the society."

The other mission study was China: Search for Community, released to unsuspecting church members by the NCC in 1978. Included in this mission study is a retelling of the story of the Good Samaritan, casting all things Western and religious as the assorted villains of the piece. Imagine thousands of Sunday School members in mainline churches, receiving their only education about the People's Republic of China from this story:

A country, a culture, was on its way through the centuries. It fell in with robbers, who stripped it, beat it, and left it at the roadside half dead. The robbers were many: graft and corruption, war lords and generalissimos, foreign powers, Western merchants and missionaries. And China was helpless. A priest passed by: Christian or a Buddhist…too concerned with religion to be willing to get his hands dirty with social reform and politics. . .

Finally the Samaritan arrived on the scene.… In Chinese eyes he could be no other than Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist Party. The wounds made by the imperialist robbers were healed, national dignity restored, and armed protection was given. Here was the neighbor, the comrade…. Here was the one deserving the love of the people and setting the example for a life style and a political program.

Mao was not the only Marxist beloved by liberal church leaders. The Religious Left has had similar admiration for Fidel Castro while ignoring the oppression and persecution of Cuba's Christians. One of Cuba's most famous prisoners of conscience, Christian poet and patriot Armando Valladares, was imprisoned for 22 years. Soon after he was released, he was the recipient of The Institute on Religion and Democracy's (IRD) 1983 Religious Freedom Award. In his moving acceptance speech, Valladares revealed the betrayal of prisoners such as himself by churches of the Religious Left:

The honor which you bestow upon me today will have special significance for Cuba's political prisoners….During those years, with the purpose of forcing us to abandon our religious beliefs and demoralize us, the Cuban communist indoctrinators repeatedly used the statements of support for Castro's revolution made by some representatives of American Christian churches. Every time that a pamphlet was published in the United States, every time a clergyman would write an article in support of Fidel Castro's dictatorship, a translation would reach us and that was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger.

While we waited for the solidarity embrace from our brothers in Christ, incomprehensively to us, those who were embraced were our tormentors…. the Christians in Cuba's prisons suffer not only the pain of torture and isolation but also the conviction that they have been deserted by their brothers in faith.

You might think that Valladares was exaggerating -- surely national church leaders are not as naïve as those teenagers and aging hippies who sport icons of Che on their tee shirts? (Of course many church leaders are aging hippies.) But Contending for the Faith, the autobiography of Methodist reformer and evangelist the Rev. Dr. Ed Robb, shows otherwise. Robb tells of a typical church delegation's visit to Cuba that took place while Armando Valladares "was languishing in a Cuban prison cell without clothes, books, Bible, pen, or paper" in 1977. He smuggled out poems written in his own blood. The delegation, led by then NCC head Bishop James Armstrong, was enamored with Valladares' jailers, but not with those brave dissidents in Cuban prisons.

The members of the delegation made the following statement upon their return home: "There is significant difference between a situation where people are imprisoned for opposing regimes designed to perpetuate inequalities (as in Chile and Brazil, for example) and situations where people are imprisoned for opposing regimes designed to remove inequities (as in Cuba)." (Armstrong and Dilly, A Report from Cuba, United Methodist Church of the Dakotas Area, June 1977) Regimes designed to "remove inequities" have always been in favor with the Religious Left, and continue to be so today, even closer to home than Cuba!

The cries of oppressed and persecuted Christians in the former Soviet Union were likewise dismissed by Religious Left church leaders obsessed with the dream of nuclear disarmament. The World and National Councils of Churches routinely ignored thousands of brave believers from Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, and elsewhere, while fawning over KGB-groomed Russian Orthodox clergy participating in the World Council of Churches (WCC). In 1983 at the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Vancouver, The IRD reported that in deference to the Soviet bloc delegates "The WCC again refused to make any public statement on behalf of the millions of persecuted Christians living under the Soviet empire. Appeals by imprisoned believers were spiked on the grounds that they did not come from member churches of the WCC."

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


26 May, 2010

Lazy and cowardly British police pick easy marks rather than chase real criminals

Disabled grandfather arrested by EIGHT police officers for drink-driving on his 4mph mobility scooter -- but if your car is stolen they don't want to know

Riding home on his mobility scooter at less than 4 mph, Eamonn Donohoe wasn't going anywhere in a hurry and didn't appear to be a menace to pedestrians. But when the drunken Irishman ignored a policeman's attempt to flag him down, the local constabulary decided to take no chances.

As Mr Donohoe, 62, was trundling along the pavement near his sheltered bungalow he found himself surrounded by eight police officers and three marked vehicles.

One patrol car mounted the kerb to block his way and after failing a roadside breath test the disabled grandfather was locked in police cells for 12 hours, fingerprinted, photographed and had a DNA swab taken.

Mr Donohoe, who had drunk six or seven pints during an evening playing dominoes with friends at a local club, was three times over the limit. He later admitted driving a mechanically propelled vehicle whilst over the limit on 20th April and was given a three year driving ban by magistrates at Chesterfield.

However, despite the nature of the offence he is legally free to continue riding his scooter.

But the bizarre episode has left the retired construction worker from Old Whittington, Chesterfield, feeling disillusioned with the forces of law and order. He said:'I can’t believe how they treated me – anybody would think that I was a bank robber or a member of Al-Qaeda. 'The police are always saying they’re short of resources, and then go and employ eight officers arresting someone like me. It’s completely mad, and a total waste of public money.

'When someone broke into my home and stole my TV and my video two years ago the police didn’t turn up for three days, and yet they can drop everything for something as daft as this. There’s no wonder the police get it in the neck.

'They must have known, like I did, that the rules of the road don’t apply when you’re riding a mobility scooter down the pavement at three and a half miles an hour, but it didn’t seem to matter one jot. 'I didn’t stop at first because I wanted to get home, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Then a police car turned up all of a sudden, and pulled up right across the footpath stopping me dead.

'A police van pulled alongside me, and another car parked up on the road behind me so I couldn’t turn round. It was just like something out of a film. 'There were eight police officers there altogether, and one of them grabbed the keys from the scooter, and said: "Come on – get off that!"

'When they asked me to do breath test I said: "Don’t be stupid, I’m an old aged pensioner on a mobility scooter – I’m not blowing into anything," but they insisted so I had to in the end. 'They actually wanted to put me in handcuffs, but they stopped short of doing it in the end.'


Non-government agencies turn a blind eye to systematic Arab hatred of Israel

BARACK Obama held a long and important phone conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on May 11. The US President congratulated Abbas for resuming indirect talks with Israel and he reportedly said he wanted both sides to refrain from provocative acts that might undermine the talks. He allegedly asked Abbas to do "whatever he can" to prevent acts of incitement and delegitimisation of Israel.

In some circles, incitement is viewed as irrelevant to the immediate task of reaching a peace agreement, as something that both sides do. However, the inflammatory statements that sometimes appear in Israel's robust free media are not comparable with what occurs on the Palestinian side. There, messages of hate, delegitimisation, promoting terrorism, violence and martyrdom come directly from the PA, involving not only government-controlled media but schools, speeches and even official sporting events.

For instance, in early April, the street outside Abbas's presidential compound in Ramallah was named after master Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash. In the mid-1990s Ayyash orchestrated dozens of attacks on Israeli civilian targets, killing many more than 100 Israeli civilians.

In mid-May, the PA sponsored the "Shahid (Martyr) Abu Jihad" soccer tournament in Ramallah. Abu Jihad headed the PLO's military wing responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians in the 1970s. Participants in the sporting event were told by a leader of the ruling Fatah that they should follow in the path of Abu Jihad. This is just the tip of an iceberg of incitement that has been de rigueur since the PA started in 1995.

Incitement matters because it poisons peacemaking. How can Palestinians make peace with Israel if they are taught that Jews are inherently evil according to Allah, if they have no rights anywhere in Palestine and should leave, and the highest goal to which a Palestinian can aspire is to be a martyr who dies killing Israeli civilians? If they have these beliefs, why shouldn't they support violent rejectionist groups such as Hamas?

Incredibly, some Western non-government organisations facilitate the incitement, including World Vision Australia, which was cited in a submission on the issue to the US congress on May 6 by the Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors the Palestinian media.

World Vision Australia was mentioned in connection with new soccer facilities it constructed outside Jenin for Palestinian youth, with the PA incorporating World Vision's soccer field into a sports complex to be known as the Shahid ("Martyr") Abu Jihad Youth City, named after the terrorist. The Palestinian media has strongly implied that World Vision is directly involved in the larger project, but the organisation has denied this, maintaining it had nothing to do with the incorporation of the soccer field into the complex. I have no reason to doubt its word on this.

After repeated approaches by Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, the group admitted verbally raising the issue with its Palestinian interlocutors, but apparently refuse to do anything further. World Vision Australia, it seems, will continue to co-operate with the Palestinian authorities. Nor is there any indication the group is prepared to consider guidelines to prevent a repetition of this outcome. This is a totally inadequate response.

The project and World Vision's broader efforts to supply aid and infrastructure to Palestinians, especially for children and youth, are laudable. However, if these efforts support incitement, which in turn makes a two-state resolution more difficult, and violence likelier, it is counter-productive to the prospects of reconciliation.

There are alternatives. In 2003, the US congress forced the UN Relief and Works Agency to improve accountability for distributing aid to Palestinians to prevent funding of terrorism or incitement. In 2006, congress pushed the US Agency for International Development to adopt new procedures and auditing after allegations that funding was used in projects involving incitement. In March this year, UNICEF promised to review its funding of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation after the NGO ran an ad featuring a giant axe destroying a Jewish star, complete with UNICEF logo.

Australian aid agencies such as World Vision should help the Palestinians build their future state. But, as Obama has indicated, unless they tackle Palestinian incitement, they will harm peace prospects for Palestinians and Israelis. And that is neither compassionate, moral or wise.


The disdain of the self-elected Leftist elite for the "illiterates" who pay their way

Comment from Australia

From New York to Sydney and on to Melbourne, many an inner-city intellectual is full of contempt for their fellow men and women. It's just that not many 'fess up to what they really think.

Not so the Australian expatriate Peter Carey. The New York-based novelist told the taxpayer-subsidised Sydney Writers' Festival at the weekend: "We are getting dumber every day; we are literally forgetting how to read." Carey has not released the text of his address but, according to a Herald report, he complained: "We have yet to grasp the fact that consuming cultural junk … is completely destructive of democracy."

According to the report, the novelist's audience was of the converted kind. No disagreement was evident when Carey declared the nation of his birth has "become intolerant of any news that is not entertaining".

Carey's complaint is, in Australia, cookbooks and Dan Brown novels top most best-seller lists. And he expressed the wish, by as early as next year, every 14-year-old would understand and adore William Shakespeare and learn to love Charles Dickens's work. If young teenagers go for Shakespeare and Dickens, well and good. But if they will settle for Brown, this should be good enough. What matters is that the young learn to love reading - and virtually any reading will do for starters.

As a novelist, Carey is worried about the status of the novel itself. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported how, at a function in the New York Public Library, Carey responded to a question about the kind of novels he writes with a version of the conversation he claims to usually have on planes. It went as follows. The person says: "What do you do?" "I write novels." Person: "Should I know your name?" Carey: "Only if you're literate."

Enough said.

The fact is people read more than ever before. This reflects increasing literacy rates in the less developed world, along with the growth in online reading in the developed world. Carey's claim "we have forgotten how to read" is hyperbole - whether spoken to American or Australian audiences. Yet it is more than this. The novelist's disdain for the reading tastes of his fellow citizens reflects a deeper disenchantment with societies which do not assess intellectuals to be as important as intellectuals regard themselves.

In an interview on Radio National's Breakfast in 2006, Carey declared if he still lived in Australia he "would spend so much time in a total blinding rage". He is on record as having described Australia as a "flea circus".

Carey's Sydney Writers' Festival whinge is but the most recent complaint of the inner-city leftist writer or commentator who decries the (alleged) lack of culture among those who live in the suburbs and regional centres. A similar critique is commonly heard in Australia.

Earlier this month, The Age dismissed its Brunswick-based columnist Catherine Deveny. The immediate cause turned on her Logie night attempt at humour - to the effect it would be a you-beaut idea if 11-year-old Bindi Irwin got laid. This controversy diverted attention away from Deveny's contempt for those who live in the suburbs, some of whom read The Age. She mocked shoppers at the suburban shopping malls, ridiculed families with signed and framed football jumpers on their walls and dismissed believers as mere idiots.

No one quite matches Deveny's contempt for the less educated and lower socio-economic groups. However, in 2004 La Trobe University academic Judith Brett warned readers of the edited collection The Howard Years that, in contemporary Australia, "the opinions of the ignorant or uninvolved are given equal weight to those of the passionate and the knowledgeable". How shocking is that?

Writing in the Herald Sun last February, columnist Jill Singer opined: "There is nothing wrong with being an accountant, farmer or fisherman - but these are insufficient credentials to, say, run a nation's finances." According to this logic, one-time train driver Ben Chifley was not qualified to be treasurer in John Curtin's successful wartime government but Jim Cairns was just the man to hold the position in Gough Whitlam's erratic government in the early 1970s. Yet Chifley was competent at his job while the former academic Cairns was a disaster.

In 2005, journalist and academic Margaret Simons wrote in the Griffith Review about her experiences in visiting the Fountain Gate shopping centre in suburban Melbourne. It was an "us" and "them" experience. One minute Simons was in Carlton with its devotion to "conspicuous refinement and good taste". Just an hour later, dressed in hemp, she was in suburban Narre Warren asking shoppers whether they had heard of the culture wars and wondering why they ignored her questions. All this in search of an answer to Simons's query as to what is "the difference between the people who chose to live here and ourselves". The question is as embarrassing as the account of her research for an answer.

It seems that some parts of the inner-city are more, in Simons's terminology, sophisticated than others. On ABC radio in Melbourne last February, John Faine dismissed Altona as so "industrial" it "gets the fumes from the industrial zones wafting across it". Not attractive, was Faine's judgment. Not enough coffee shops and insufficient hemp worn, apparently.

The irony is that much of this inner-city snobbery is funded by taxpayers who live in industrial areas or near suburban shopping malls. Carey's alienation found expression at the Sydney Writers' Festival while Simons's analysis appeared in the taxpayer-subsidised Griffith Review. Brett is an academic and Faine works for the public broadcaster. It's enough to make you reach for the nearest cookbook.


Anti-American Left clutches at the usual cliches

Comment from Australia

IMAGINE surprising your audience, challenging their preconceived views, allowing people to learn something new, think afresh, rather than simply seek out reaffirmation of what they already believe. Imagine this happening when five international guests gather to talk about America for the 2010 Sydney Writers Festival. A festival that promised to bring "provocative ideas" and "feisty debate" to Sydney.

Maybe next year. The festival's big event at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday evening started and finished as a caricature of all that has gone awry with the Left. Not just the refusal to try for nuance, difference or debate on a panel. Progressives seem to think gathering people of different skin colours can be used as proxies for different views.

Not just the sleep-inducing sound and sight of five voices all nodding and shaking their heads to the same anti-American melody. Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama, yes, we all want action on climate change, no to religion, nuclear power, the Tea Party movement, the Bush administration ("evil was being actively pursued every single day"), Sarah Palin and Fox News ("I blame Australia. Thanks, Rupert.") This is the same kind of blubbing uniformity you find at a Tea Party convention.

But it's the smugness of the Left that strikes you the most. Are there different views? Not among decent-minded people surely. Not among our audience anyway, who reek of sensibility with their sensible shoes, their sensibly warm cardigans and scarves.

It's true the audience seemed content, clapping, heads nodding and shaking in tune. Perhaps this is what the elderly do to relive their salad days of unruly protest marches. Past the age of youthful chanting and traipsing the streets holding up anti-American placards, the audience -- with a mean age of 60 -- seemed to be here to have their views affirmed. And so did the aging activist Anne Summers, who chaired the panel session. Alas, the taxpayer-funded Sydney Writers Festival is not meant to be a political or ideological gathering. Or a protest march for oldies.

Opening the panel, Summers mentioned an article by James Fallow in a recent edition of Atlantic Monthly. A thoughtful piece about the American cycle of crisis and renewal, Fallows has the intellectual honesty to explore what is great about America while also exploring its greatest flaws. Turns out Summers is a dreadful tease. There would be no such intellectual integrity on display in the Town Hall. No fascinating exploration of what Fallows traces as the "jeremiad" national ritual where Americans issue harsh warnings about American decline as a rallying cry to get people to address problems.

No honest appraisal of history where America is always depicted as in decline for one reason or another. Prior to World War II, America was always falling short of the expectations of God, the Founding Fathers or the past. After emerging as a global power, it was always accused of falling behind another emerging power. And no mention of the brilliant American capacity to bounce back every time.

Instead, Summers presided over and, with simplistic questions, prompted 90 minutes of bashing America in general, and conservative America in particular. She kicked it off with a quote from a book by panellist Lionel Shriver. "Americans are fat, inarticulate and ignorant. They're demanding, imperious and spoiled. They're self-righteous and superior. . ." and so on. Cue the panel. British protester Raj Patel said he recently took up American citizenship so that he "can now be arrested and not deported back to the United Kingdom".

He joined the World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle and the 2000 protests against the World Bank. He would later recite a nostalgic poem, Let America Be America Again, once published in a pamphlet by a group of communists.

Shriver, now living in Britain, told the audience to forget about moving to America because "if this is as good as it gets, then it doesn't get very good". Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar, remarked on the enormous similarities between Iran and America: the sense of greatness, the role of religion in society. Americans treat their founding documents as "scripture", he said. "That's called fundamentalism." So America "feels like home," he said.

One panel member mocked the belief in small government as a "weird contradiction". Ignoring centuries of genuine liberal political philosophy, he wondered how any sensible person could believe in government only to then say they want government off your back?

An hour earlier, at an entertaining session about plain English, an intelligent chair talked to Christopher Hitchens, Annabel Crabb and former NSW premier Nathan Rees about the problems with cliches.

Clutching at cliches is not a case of bad thinking, said Hitchens. "It's not doing the thinking at all." Across town, Summers presented the 90-minute crash course: Left-Wing Anti-American Cliches 101.

There was no sign of reality. As one panel member said, "I just don't like reality." No honest scorecard of America, a big country that makes big mistakes, to be sure. But also a big country that delivered big help to Europe during World War II, to Bosnian Muslims in Serbia in 1995, to the thousands of people devastated by the Asian tsunami in 2004, to the Burmese in 2008 left to die by their military leaders, and so on. No recognition that the soft power of Europe has done precious little to rescue people in need.

Instead, there was smugness. Ironically, the very same smugness explored a few days earlier by Shriver during an intelligent discussion with broadcaster and journalist Caroline Baum. When talking about humour, Shriver said she doesn't care for the clubby nature of most political satire where it is assumed you are all on the same side. "It's what annoys me about liberals in general. Conservatives, as a type, do not assume when they meet someone that you're a conservative . . . Liberals are presumptuous and especially if you seem like a half-way decent human being. The assumption is, of course, you are wildly left-wing." Everyone is regarded as being in the same club. It's "very self-congratulatory", Shriver said.

No doubt, the authors on stage subscribe to the view of novelist Peter De Vries, mentioned in Hitchens's new book, Hitch 22. De Vries said his ambition as a writer was for his books to attract a mass audience, "one large enough for his more elite audience to look down upon".

When one panel member on Saturday evening seriously suggested that obesity in America was the fault of George W. Bush, it was time to wrap things up for anyone with a modicum of free thinking. Let's Talk About America should have been called Let's Attack America, remarked my friend as we walked out.

Memo to festival organisers: please bump up ticket prices for the 2011 festival so governments can stop subsidising you. And taxpayer money can be used somewhere useful next year.



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 or 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.


25 May, 2010

Yet another false rape accusation in Britain

Judge attacks craven prosecutors after rape acquittal

A judge has attacked prosecutors whose decision to charge a medical student with rape was based on allegations made by a woman who had previously accused another man of the same offence. The man had subsequently committed suicide.

Jurors who took only 45 minutes to acquit Olumide Fadayomi of attacking the 21-year-old Sheffield woman were later told by Judge Patrick Robertshaw that the case should never have come to court.

Some gasped and wept when they learnt that 18 months earlier the complainant had made rape claims “lacking in credibility” against a young man who took his own life “when facing that allegation”. The judge noted that, unlike the men she accused, the woman involved “of course enjoys the full benefit of anonymity”.

Last week, the new Lib-Con Government announced plans to grant anonymity to defendants in rape trials for the first time since the 1970s.

The woman claimed that Mr Fadayomi, a Nigerian student, raped her in his shared student house after she met him while drinking in a Sheffield nightclub last October. He said the sex was consensual.

One of her friends told Sheffield Crown Court that the woman had danced with and kissed Mr Fadayomi in the club, boasting: “I’m going to have his body tonight.”

Judge Robertshaw said the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to proceed with a rape charge was “little short of a craven abdication of responsibility for making an independent and fair-minded assessment of the case”. He added: “The evidence did not, and was never was going to, prove rape. The prime, overriding consideration in the CPS’s decision had been merely that the complainant wished the case to go ahead.

“It is quite astonishing that these decisions are made by those who simply do not have the experience of what happens in Crown Court because they never come into Crown Court. They sit behind desks in offices and make decisions that result in this sort of trial taking place.”

Speaking after Friday’s not-guilty verdict, Mr Fadayomi said his life had “been hell” during the seven months between his arrest and acquittal. He had been shunned by some of his friends and his parents were “heartbroken and very scared” for him.

“So many young, innocent men would kill themselves because of this kind of allegation. After the trial I slept properly for the first time. Now I’m starting my life over again.”


English flag offensive in England?

Leftists often say so -- so the bus driver below is not wholly to blame

A toddler was ordered off a bus because the foreign driver was 'offended' by his England football T-shirt, his mother has claimed. Sam Fardon, 27, was allegedly told to get off the service with her sons Dylan, two, and 10-week-old Adam as they made their way to a childcare group.

The unnamed driver, who had a Polish or Eastern European accent, said Dylan's white England shirt was 'offensive' and he threatened to turf the family out on the street. But he faced a torrent of anger from incredulous passengers, and minutes later backed down and allowed the family to board. The bus company has launched an investigation.

Miss Fardon, who also has a ten-year-old step-son, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: 'He (the driver) said: "He won't be wearing that during the World Cup, will he?" 'I said Dylan would and the bus driver said: "I find that really offensive. You should dress your family in less offensive clothes."

'I was completely gobsmacked. He said we'd have to get off the bus but I argued with him and other passengers backed me up, so he let us on. 'I think it's disgraceful. I had baby Adam with me as well, but luckily he wasn't wearing his England baby-grow. 'I just think because of the nationality of the driver and Dylan being so young, he picked on him because he couldn't answer back.'

Miss Fardon's partner Chris Hall, a taxi driver, was so angry he defiantly bought England strips for all the children. Mr Hall, 55, said: 'It's just showing support for your country during a World Cup - there's nothing offensive about it. I will have England flags on my taxi.'

Selwyn Brown, of North Staffordshire bus users group Aces, said: 'It's unbelievable. Assuming it's true, the bus driver is to be condemned. 'Not just because there's nothing wrong with wearing an England shirt, but that it was a little child. It's totally ludicrous.'

First Bus said it is investigating Miss Fardon's complaint, which was made after she caught the 34A service from Newcastle Bus Station, in Stoke-on-Trent, at 9am last Thursday. Spokesman Paul De Santis said: 'We are fully supporting England's World Cup campaign and will be putting supporting material in all our buses. 'No one should have to accept those sorts of comments, certainly none of our customers.'

Last month the Metropolitan Police suggested that some pubs ban customers from wearing England shirts during screenings of this summer's World Cup matches to stop the risk of violence.

But one fan said: 'We often hear of a loss of pride in Britain, and now police want to ban the England shirt. It's like saying anyone who wears one is a yob.'


It’s Funny How Barack Obama Can’t Bear To Utter The Word “Jew” Or, For That Matter, “Muslim Extremist.”

By pro-Israel Jewish Leftist Marty Peretz

Maybe you missed it. But, earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, a piece of legislation that will do nothing for anyone. And certainly not for freedom of the press.

In his tiny talk, Obama said almost nothing. “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” Pabulum.

Actually, the murder of Pearl did not remind me at all of the value of a free press. It reminded me of the precarious places in which Jews find themselves around the world. It also reminded me that the bloodlust for Jews festers among Muslim extremists, but not just among extremists. It festers among Muslims who are not extremists at all.

Apparently, the president doesn’t believe that this killing had anything to do with Pearl being a Jew ... and an American besides. What he also doesn’t seem to believe is that Pearl was a target—like thousands of other targets, named and nameless—of the Islamic jihad.

It is appalling to have to come to grips with the raw facts of Obama’s ignorance. Or with his feigning of ignorance. Disguising the enemy is... well, you finish the sentence.

I am always a bit wary when I cite Mark Steyn. Not because I don’t like his writing, which, within measure, I do. But because my son gives me the cold shoulder for a few days after I cite him. So, here, Jesse, I court your coolness. I wouldn’t have had to do it if any liberal columnist had noticed this appalling performance by the president of the United States.
Mark Steyn: Lost in Obama’s Inagination

Barack Obama’s remarkable powers of oratory are well known...

Like a lot of guys who’ve been told they’re brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy and doesn’t always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl upon signing the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act. Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That’s how I’d put it. This is what the president of the United States said:

“Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.”

Now Mr. Obama’s off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he’s talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased’s family is standing all around him. Even for a busy president, it’s the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Mr. Obama, it’s the work of seconds because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which, in its clumsiness and insipidness, is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: “The loss of Daniel Pearl.” He wasn’t “lost.” He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his “loss” merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Mr. Obama could muster none.

Even if Americans don’t get the message, the rest of the world does. This week’s pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.

But what did the “loss” of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination.” Really? Evidently, it never captured Mr. Obama’s imagination, because if it had, he never could have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl’s fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: “one of those moments” - you know, like Princess Di’s wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, whatever - “that captured the world’s imagination.”

Notice how reflexively Mr. Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many ZIP codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite - that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don’t even need an “imagination.” Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassas and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi, Pakistan, to Jakarta, Indonesia, to Khartoum, Sudan, to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Va. In the old days, you needed an “imagination” to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism, the sight of Pearl’s severed head is a mere click away.

And the rest of “the world”? Most gave a shrug of indifference. And far too many found the reality of Pearl’s death too uncomfortable and chose to take refuge in the same kind of delusional pap as Mr. Obama. The president is only the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl’s box into a round hole. Before him, it was Michael Winterbottom in his film “A Mighty Heart.” As Pearl’s longtime colleague Asra Nomani wrote, “Danny himself had been cut from his own story.” Or as Paramount’s promotional department put it, “Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero. Win a trip to the Bahamas!” Where you’re highly unlikely to be kidnapped and beheaded. (Although, in the event that you are, please check the liability-waiver box at the foot of the entry form.)

The latest appropriation is that his “loss” “reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” It was nothing to do with “freedom of the press.” By the standards of the Muslim world, Pakistan has a free-ish and very lively press. The problem is that about 80 percent of its people wish to live under the most extreme form of Shariah, and many of its youth are exported around the world in advance of that aim. The man convicted of Pearl’s murder was Omar Sheikh, a British subject, a London School of Economics student, and, like many jihadists, from Osama bin Laden to the panty bomber, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. The man who actually did the deed was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who confessed in March 2007: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi.” But Mr. Obama is not the kind to take “guilty” for an answer, so he’s arranging a hugely expensive trial for KSM amid the bright lights of Broadway.

Listen to his killer’s words: “The American Jew Daniel Pearl.” We hit the jackpot. And then we cut his head off. Before the body was found, the Independent’s Robert Fisk offered a familiar argument to Pearl’s kidnappers: Killing him would be “a major blunder ... the best way of ensuring that the suffering” - of Kashmiris, Afghans, Palestinians - “goes unrecorded.” Other journalists peddled a similar line: if you release Danny, he’ll be able to tell your story, get your message out, “bridge the misconceptions.” But the story did get out; the severed head is the message; the only misconception is that that’s a misconception.

Daniel Pearl was the prototype victim of a new kind of terror. In his wake came other victims, from Kenneth Bigley, whose last words were, “Tony Blair has not done enough for me,” to Fabrizzio Quattrocchi, who yanked off his hood, yelled “I will show you how an Italian dies,” and ruined the movie for his jihadist videographers. By that time, both men understood what it meant to be in a windowless room with a camera and a man holding a scimitar. But Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words, understood why he was there:

“My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA.”

He didn’t have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That’s all President Obama owed him - to do the same.



The Federal Republic of Germany is a democracy. It is no fun, however, to be a Baptist in Germany. For the past two decades, the German authorities have been clamping down on Baptists who want to raise their children in accordance with their own religious principles. In Germany, the state rather than the parents is considered to be primarily responsible for the well-being of children. Hence, the draconic measures taken against Baptists. When, however, it comes to meeting the demands of Muslim the German state is far more lenient.

In 1938, Germany outlawed homeschooling.[1] The ban is one of the few bills introduced by Adolf Hitler that is still on the books in Germany today. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of ethnic German families from Southern Russia and Kazakhstan emigrated to Germany. Many of them were Baptists who had been fiercely persecuted in the Soviet Union for their religious beliefs.

Following their arrival in the West, the Baptists soon became unhappy with what their children were learning in the secular German public schools. They decided to homeschool their children. This move led to fierce repression by the German authorities who took the parents to court on charges of Hochverrat und Volksverhetzung (high treason and incitement of the people against the authorities). Some parents were imprisoned, some were robbed of their parental authority, some had their children taken away from them. Some children who sided with their parents, such as 16-year old Melissa Busekros[2] in 2007, were placed in a psychiatric ward[3] because, as the psychiatric evaluation report stated,[4] she "considers herself healthy and her behavior fully normal" and, hence, needed "urgent help in a closed setting" where she would get "special education treatment to ensure schooling." Some families, having fled from the Soviet Union at one time, fled again, from the Federal Republic of Germany to Austria,[5] Britain,[6] or other countries with a more lenient approach to homeschooling. Some parent, however, complied with 'Hitler's law' and reluctantly sent their children to school.

Two years ago, a Baptist couple from Eastern Westphalia kept their two sons, then 9- and 8-years old, home from school on two specific days, namely when the school was going to take them to a sex-education theatre play called Mein Körper gehört mir (My Body Belongs to Me) and when the school was having a carnival party. The authorities immediately clamped down on the parents and took them to court. Following two convictions of the couple, the case made its way up to the Bundesverfassungsgericht, Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, the highest court in the land, which last week also convicted them.

On 11 August, Germany's Supreme Court ruled[7] that "the religious conviction of a minority" is subordinated to "a contradictory tradition of a differently inclined majority," even when the latter tradition is incompatible with the religious principles of the minority. The Court sentenced the parents to a fine of 80 euros because on two occasions they had violated their legal obligation to have their children attend school. The Court stated that the right of religious freedom of the parents does not take precedence over article 7, par. 1 of the German Constitution which explicitly states that "The entire education system is under the supervision of the state." The Court declared that "Consequently, the paternal right to raise children is restricted, in a constitutionally permissible way, by the concretization of the state's obligation to ensure a universal duty to compulsive school attendance."

The relentlessness with which the German authorities consistently clamp down on Baptists who want to raise their children according to their own Christian beliefs, contrasts strongly with the leniency of the same authorities towards Muslims. While forcing 8-year olds to attend plays such as "My Body Belongs to Me" can only be considered a fairly recent "tradition" of the Germans, eating sausages and other types of pork definitely is an old German tradition. Nevertheless, in the past years, several public German schools have removed the traditional pork dishes from their menus. Last year the Käthe-Kollwitz-Schule in Minden announced that it was introducing halal[8] food for everyone "to ensure that also Muslim children can have lunch at school." Though the measure was clearly taken with regard to "the religious convictions of a minority" and went against the "contradictory tradition of a differently inclined majority," the German authorities did not clamp down on the school, nor on the parents who had been demanding halal lunches for their kids.

While Baptist children are being forced to attend carnival parties at school, a 1993 German court ruling stated that "as long as separate sports classes for boys and girls are not being offered" Muslim girls do not have to participate in the obligatory sports sessions at school. The parents of the girls had explicitly invoked Koranic prescriptions to object to their daughters participating in the co-ed sports classes. Strangely enough, the German school authorities did not appeal the 1993 court ruling and failed to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Instead, they accepted the ruling, which has since become a legal precedent accepted by all school authorities.

Likewise, last May a court in Münster ruled[9] that, though Muslim schoolgirls are obliged to participate in school swimming lessons, they are allowed to wear so-called "burqini" swimsuits that cover their entire body and hide their figures. Wearing the burqini has never been a "tradition" of the majority in Germany — a country with a long tradition of Freikörperkultur or nude sports activities. On the contrary, it is a practice which results from "the religious convictions of a minority" which is less indigenous to Germany than Christian Baptists. Nevertheless, the German school authorities have accepted the Munster ruling. They have not taken the case to the Supreme Court in order to have Muslim children forced to swim in regular swimsuits. Muslim children do not have to comply with the "contradictory tradition of a differently inclined majority" in the same way as Baptist children, whose parents are fined if they do not attend the school carnival.

The difference in treatment of the so-called fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims by the German secular school authorities and courts gives rise to the suspicion that in contemporary Europe some religious minorities are "more equal" than others. While Christians are prosecuted and fined, Muslims are appeased. It makes one wonder if the school authorities would also have prosecuted if, instead of the sons of a Baptist couple, the 8- and 9-years old daughters of a Muslim couple had been kept from school on the day of the sex-ed school play?

The answer to this question is probably "No." Baptists are a peaceful minority, who want to be left alone and live according to their own values without trying to impose these values on others. Muslim fundamentalists are aggressive and demand that everyone live according to their values. Saying "No" to Baptist demands is not a security risk for a school; saying "No" to Muslim demands is. The German school authorities are well aware of this. Three years ago, the teachers of the Rütli-Hauptschule in the Berlin borough of Neukölln, asked the authorities to close down their school in order to protect them and the native German students who suffered threats and physical violence by Muslim students. Following the appeal of the staff at Rütli College several other schools in Berlin and other German cities complained that they were facing similar problems.[10]

Meanwhile, despite the Baptists' hatred of German schools, Baptist violence against German school authorities is a non-existing phenomenon. Perhaps this explains why Baptists are bullied, prosecuted and fined by the German authorities, while the same authorities grovel to Muslims with ludicrous demands such as burqini swimsuits. On the other hand, if anyone ever opposes Muslim thugs who want to impose Islamic law on others, it will more likely be the Baptists, who — non-violently but firmly — will defend their own values, than the representatives of the German secularist establishment.



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 or 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.


24 May, 2010

Anger grows over plans for mosque near Ground Zero

PLANS to build a 13-storey mosque and Islamic centre two city blocks from Ground Zero in New York are provoking an anti-Muslim backlash in America.

Muslim organisations picked the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory shop damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks. The building at 45 Park Place has been vacant since it was hit by the fuselage of one of the jets flown into the World Trade Centre by Islamic terrorists.

"We want to create a platform by which the voices of the mainstream and silent majority of Muslims will be amplified. A centre of this scale and magnitude will do that," said Daisy Khan, director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which is behind the project.

The financial district committee of New York Community Board 1, representing local residents, gave the proposed Islamic centre a vote of confidence at a meeting on May 5.

The $US100 million project would include a swimming pool, a basketball court, a 500-seat theatre and possibly a daycare centre. About 2,000 Muslims are expected to attend Friday prayers there.

The plans, however, have stirred a groundswell of opposition, with a group called Stop the Islamicisation of America calling for a street demonstration on June 6. "What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Centre buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?" said Pamela Geller, the group's director. "Any decent American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn't dream of such an insult. It's a stab in the eye of America."

Ms Geller's group said that Islam had a history of building mosques on top of the holy places of other religions as a symbol of Muslim dominance. It cited al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Ayasofya Mosque in the former Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus atop what was once the Church of St John the Baptist.

"The only Muslim centre that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Centre is one that is devoted to expunging the Koran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence," she said.

Paul Sipos, a member of Community Board 1, also questioned the symbolism. "If the Japanese decided to open a cultural centre across from Pearl Harbor, that would be insensitive," Mr Sipos told the New York Post. "If the Germans opened a Bach choral society across from Auschwitz, even after all these years, that would be an insensitive setting. I have absolutely nothing against Islam. I just think: why there?"

Some critics have been more extreme in their views. Mark Williams, a leader of the right-wing Tea Party movement, provoked controversy with an incendiary post on his blog.

Mr Williams, the chairman of the Tea Party Express, wrote: "The monument would consist of a mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god." Urged to apologise, he said: "I owe an apology to millions of Hindus who worship Lord Hanuman, an actual monkey god."

His comments drew a sharp rebuke from a spokesman for Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, who noted that the building had planning permission for a variety of uses, including a religious centre. Some families of September 11 victims have also voiced misgivings about the project. "I don't like it," said Evelyn Pettigano, who lost a sister in the attacks. "I'm not prejudiced. It's too close to the area where our family members were murdered."

After years of wrangling, work will soon be under way on every building project within the 16-acre Ground Zero site. The frame of the skyscraper once known as the Freedom Tower, which is to be the tallest in the city, is now 25 storeys high. A second tower has also risen above ground level; work has begun on the foundation of a third block and will soon begin on a fourth.


How town hall snoopers are watching Brits: Councils use anti-terror laws to spy on charity shops and dog-walkers

Council snoopers have used a controversial Big Brother anti-terror law to spy on people making unwanted donations to charity shops. Covert cameras were placed inside shop windows to film anyone who left bags of books, clothes or CDs outside a branch with a view to prosecuting them for 'fly-tipping'.

The extraordinary operation was among 8,575 instances of town halls using covert surveillance rights granted under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act against the public in the past two years. It is the equivalent of 11 secret missions being carried out by bureaucrats every day.

They range from undercover patrols for dog walkers whose animals are suspected of breaking dog-fouling rules to spying on their own staff and on smokers believed to be flouting the nationwide ban.

But replies to Freedom of Information Act requests show that, according to council records, fewer than 5 per cent - or 399 investigations - ended in a prosecution - let alone a conviction. Big Brother Watch said it was proof that thousands of innocent people were being spied upon needlessly every year - with the public picking up a vast bill for the operations.

The civil liberties campaign group called for town halls to be stripped of the power to use RIPA altogether. The coalition government is suggesting only that they should be made to obtain a warrant before using the powers.

The law was brought in by Labour nine years ago ostensibly to fight terrorism and serious crime. But access to the spy powers has since been extended to 653 state bodies - including 474 councils.

In its report, published today, BBW reveals a string of 'absurd and excessive' examples of how RIPA is being deployed by 372 councils in England, Scotland and Wales.

Bromley Council in South East London used the law to try to catch people leaving unwanted items outside charity shops. Officials first placed CCTV systems inside the windows of two charity shops for ten days, then parked a 'covert CCTV vehicle' outside one shop for two weeks.

Despite the 34-day investigation, no prosecutions followed. A council spokesman said that leaving items outside the shops constituted fly-tipping.

More than 12 councils admitted using the Act to check up on dog owners whose animals were suspected of fouling public places, with Allerdale Council in Cumbria reporting six such incidences of surveillance.

It said the purpose of one of the investigations was 'to obtain evidence to see if (a) person is walking their dog, cleaning up after it but then depositing the poop bag in trees, grass, or on the road'.

Alex Deane, director of BBW, said: 'These powers have to be taken away from councils. If the offence is serious enough to merit covert surveillance, then it should be in the hands of the police.'


Another mixed up feminist

AT THEIR age she was comfortable naked in a room full of desirous men, but Catherine Millet does not approve of today's scantily-clad young women.

"For me, how you are dressed is something like a signal," the French author and art critic, 62, said. "They learnt a lot from feminism and it's why they know exactly what they want to do.

"They know exactly their power and what they can accept from men and what they can refuse and they are much more sure about themselves than we were."

Millet, whose best-selling The Sexual Life of Catherine M candidly detailed her body's journey through orgies and swingers parties in the 1960s and '70s Paris sexual libertine underground, has returned to Sydney for the writers' festival this week.

Two years ago, she publicly confronted another private topic in Jealousy, a book inspired by the emotional "crises" she battled after discovering her partner, Jacques Henric, had lovers.

She explains how over years she was forced to grapple with the apparent contradiction in her own proclivity for multiple sexual encounters and her covetous feelings about her partner.

But she sees no incongruity in her disapproval of today's raunch culture - "you won't find any low-cut or tight-fitting dresses in my wardrobe", she proclaimed in The Sexual Life - and her autobiographical writing.

"They are much more puritan than I was when I was a teenager," she told the Herald. "They show more … but I think they do less. They can be very sexy [but] that doesn't mean to a guy 'come to me'. To be [almost] naked in the street is, for me, 'I'm ready to make out with you'."

Ms Millet, who describes herself as a moralist, feels compelled to tell the truth. "It's a writer's duty … and [in doing it] you have to tell about the intimacy."

But the Paris-based founder of Art Press magazine says she could not have led the same life now. "I hope I would have done the same but I'm not sure of that because … I think society is less permissive than in the '70s because a lot of people are afraid of … the pornography industry."

Despite a public and personal life dominated by sexual activity, she said she is at peace "doing less" in the bedroom. "Of course I'm older, of course my body is not like it was … But in my mind and my heart I feel much better. That's the benefit of age; I'm freer."


Catholics reach back to church tradition

With extensive input from Australian Prelates. Cardinal Pell is Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney

A NEW translation of the mass soon to be celebrated by more than 100 million English-speaking Catholics reaches back to church tradition, replacing the more colloquial and dumbed-down liturgy that was adopted by the Vatican 40 years ago.

The Weekend Australian today provides an exclusive and comprehensive preview of the changes, which are the biggest revision since Pope Paul VI approved the current Roman Missal in 1969 after the Second Vatican Council. In style, the new translation of the mass is reverential and traditional, restoring emphasis on the transcendent and the sacred, and replacing words such as "happy" with "blessed" and phrases such as "this is" with "behold".

It revives a classical style of liturgical language rarely heard for 40 years, using such words and phrases as: oblation, implore, consubstantial, serene and kindly countenance, spotless victim, divine majesty, holy and venerable, and "command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high".

Cardinal George Pell said the new mass had a "different cadence" to the translation of the Roman Missal that two generations of Australian Catholics grew up with, and which was a "bit dumbed-down".

"The previous translators seemed a bit embarrassed to refer to angels, sacrifice and perpetual virginity," Australia's senior Catholic cleric said. "They went softly on sin and redemption."

The new translation places a heavier emphasis on Christ's sacrifice and underlines the dependence of individuals on God. In one of the most controversial changes, the words of the consecration in the mass specify that Christ shed his blood "for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins", rather than "for all" as the present translation puts it.

Cardinal Pell said the change reflected the official Latin version of the Roman Missal, and although Christ died for everybody, this would remind worshippers of the need for personal repentance.

In the creed, the faithful will now say "I believe" rather than "we believe", emphasising the importance of personal belief.

Most of the changes are in the parts of the mass said by priests, with changes in the laity's responses deliberately kept to a minimum to avoid confusion.

A new Latin edition of the missal was published under Pope John Paul II in 2002, and the next step was to produce authentic vernacular translations.

After a major education program that will start later this year and is already under way for priests in some dioceses, the new translation is likely to be introduced from Pentecost Sunday in June next year. Several DVDs have already been produced to explain the changes across the English-speaking Catholic world.

The translation, which has taken more than eight years to prepare, was written by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which is chaired by Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds in northern England.

The project was guided and overseen by the Vox Clara (clear voice) committee of cardinals and bishops from the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, India, Africa and the Caribbean. Vox Clara was chaired by Cardinal Pell.

Canberra's Archbishop Mark Coleridge also played an important role in the translation, chairing the editorial committee of the commission.

In secular terms, the new mass is a triumph of tradition and intellectual rigour over post-modernism. Leading Australian theologian Tracey Rowland, of Melbourne's John Paul II Institute, said that after 40 years of "liturgy wars", it would put paid to what Pope Benedict refers to as "parish tea-party liturgy".

Professor Rowland, author of Ratzinger's Faith: the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, said the new translation was "theo-centric liturgy", focused on the worship of God, rather than "self-centric liturgy", focused on community celebration of the parish, the Year 7 class, or the netball team.

She said the new translation of the mass was close to Pope Benedict's heart. "He has complained about 'sacro-pop' and 'emotional primitivism' in liturgy, and said everything associated with the Eucharist must be marked by beauty."

Professor Rowland said the new translation was in accord with the Church's 1963 text Constitution on the Scared Liturgy. That instruction called for the rites of the mass, which dated back to the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, to be simplified with "due care being taken to preserve their substance" so that "devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved".

Professor Rowland said the Second Vatican Council's call for renewal was widely misinterpreted in the 1960s, with pushes from some for outlandish changes that were never envisaged at the council. In 1966, for example, an article in a prominent Jesuit magazine in the US called for Catholic worship to employ "the language of the Beatles".

"The new translation of the missal settles the issue," Professor Rowland said. "I'm not surprised it has taken almost nine years. They had to get it right, and they have."



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 or 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.


23 May, 2010

SPLC: Tolerance Mafia

Ken Silverstein is an unlikely ally for those trying to get control of the nation’s borders. A liberal journalist, he finds the Minutemen “crackpots” and Arizona’s immigration-hawk Sheriff Joe Arpaio a “kook” whose activities are “reprehensible.” Silverstein’s wife is Dominican, and he freely admits he does not know whether she originally came to America legally. Yet there he was at the National Press Club on a panel sponsored by the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

“I have different immigration views than the center,” Silverstein said in his presentation. “But I don’t believe I have a monopoly on wisdom.” What he does believe is that free speech is too important to be shouted down by ersatz civil-rights organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The SPLC squelches free speech and free debate,” Silverstein argued. And, he would add, they raise an awful lot of money from unsuspecting liberals in the process.

Silverstein was there to mark the release of a powerful CIS report entitled “Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors.” On that last point, Silverstein is something of an expert: he wrote “The Church of Morris Dees” story for Harper’s a decade ago documenting how Dees, the SPLC’s founder, had enriched himself by posing as a defender of racial equality against a rising tide of hate.

What calling could be nobler than working against the cross-burning knuckle-draggers of the Ku Klux Klan? But the country that elected Barack Obama president is not the America of “Mississippi Burning.” Organizations like the Klan have been thoroughly marginalized, their racist ideologies soundly rejected by Americans of all colors and creeds. To raise money as if they constitute anything more than an unpleasant reminder of our Jim Crow past is to perpetuate a fraud.

That’s why Dees and his merry band of politically correct enforcers have had to branch out, endlessly expanding the list of “hate groups” to include perfectly mainstream organizations with which they disagree. Advocates of reduced immigration levels and stronger border security are high on the SPLC’s list of targets because of the obvious racial component of the immigration issue.

Locating cranks who have made ill-tempered remarks about immigrants is not terribly difficult work for highly trained members of the thought police. But Morris Dees’s marauders have not been content to stop there. In late 2007, the SPLC labeled the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a hate group. This troubling designation by extension tarred organizations like CIS and Roy Beck’s NumbersUSA—and quickly achieved its intended chilling effect on the immigration debate.

The SPLC’s smear became the centerpiece of the National Council of La Raza’s “Stop the Hate” campaign. “Hate” was loosely defined as any position that differed from La Raza’s advocacy of loose borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants. La Raza used the SPLC’s “findings” to try to silence its critics, and the mainstream media, always eager to portray conservatives as racists, cheerfully repeated the slur in its woefully biased coverage of the amnesty debate. Stop the Hate claimed its biggest scalp when Lou Dobbs stepped away from his microphone at CNN—by most accounts, a voluntary move, but one hastened by the network’s growing discomfort with the controversy surrounding Dobbs’s outspoken views on immigration.

FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA are far from hate groups. They are wonky, white-paper-generating organizations committed to nothing more controversial than cutting back immigration from its post-1965 high of 1 million new immigrants a year to the more traditional level of 300,000. They shy away from the more racially charged aspects of the debate, which reflects their roots in the wing of the immigration-restrictionist movement animated primarily by environmental and economic concerns rather than blood and soil.

But such facts cannot be allowed to get in the way of a good fundraising mailing—or a malicious attempt to drum certain viewpoints out of polite society. In its fevered writings about immigration reformers, the SPLC has concocted conspiracies so elaborate they would raise eyebrows within the John Birch Society. While the Birchers have David Rockefeller, the SPLC has Michigan environmental activist John Tanton: the “puppeteer” supposedly pulling the strings whenever leading immigration reformers Mark Kirkorian and Roy Beck speak, the all-purpose explanation for why seemingly colorblind arguments against mass immigration can be readily dismissed as thinly disguised racism.

Krikorian’s CIS decided to strike back. Senior fellow Jerry Kammer, a respected journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for helping to uncover the Congressman Duke Cunningham bribery scandal, wrote their report slashing much of the SPLC’s work to ribbons. “The SPLC’s decision to smear FAIR was the work of a kangaroo court, one convened to reach a pre-determined verdict by inventing or distorting evidence,” Kammer wrote. “The ‘Stop the Hate’ campaign would more accurately be labeled as a campaign to ‘Stop the Debate.’” The tactic is so effective that liberals have begun deploying it in debates on issues with no obvious racial connotations—healthcare reform, deficit spending, and Tea Party protests.

Without denying either the SPLC’s good early work on civil rights or the existence of bad actors in the immigration-reform movement, Kammer shows that Dees is no nonpartisan, dispassionate observer of the immigration debate, which may explain why the SPLC only detects hate on one side of the issue despite ample evidence of racist remarks by La Raza radicals. Kammer also skillfully debunks the SPLC’s immigration conspiracy theory, conceding that Tanton has occasionally been reckless in his statements and associations but documenting that the SPLC has inflated both the charges against the early immigration reformer and his influence on the contemporary movement.

Kammer’s report also focuses on an aspect of the SPLC long denounced by liberal magazines and newspapers—the excessive fundraising that has won Morris Dees a place in the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame but no comparable honor in the civil-rights movement. The SPLC took in over $32 million in contributions in 2008, an average of $88,755 per day. At the end of the 2008 fiscal year, the SPLC had more than $174 million in the bank even after its investments lost over $48 million in the financial crisis.

The CIS report claims Dees promised to stop his profligate fundraising after the SPLC’s endowment exceeded $50 million, but continued shaking the money tree after it reached $200 million. The group’s lavish headquarters, nicknamed the “Poverty Pentagon,” have made it a laughingstock among erstwhile allies on the Left. The Nation called Dees “a millionaire huckster”; left-wing journalist Alexander Coburn dubbed him the “arch-salesman of hatemongering.” “Morris Dees does not need your financial support,” Silverstein wrote in Harper’s. “The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America. … The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the SPLC one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors.”

“Hate sells; poor people don’t, which is why readers who go to the SPLC’s website will find only a handful of cases on such non-lucrative causes as fair housing, worker safety, or healthcare, many of those from the 1970s and 1980s,” JoAnn Wypijewski wrote in The Nation in 2001. “Why the organization continues to keep ‘Poverty’ (or even ‘Law’) in its name can be ascribed only to nostalgia or a cynical understanding of the marketing possibilities in class guilt.” At the CIS event, Silverstein quoted a civil-rights attorney as calling Dees’s operation “the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker of the civil-rights movement. And I don’t mean to demean Jim and Tammy Faye.”

Even some of the SPLC’s legitimate civil-rights work was exploited for profit. In 1987, Dees won a $7 million verdict against a Klan group that had brutally murdered a young black man. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that the SPLC “used nationwide fund-raising letters to create the image of a mighty Klan that actually had $7 million” to pay the victim’s mother. In fact, the woman only received about $52,000, most of which she had to pay back to the SPLC, which had given her an interest-free loan. Meanwhile, the SPLC raised $9 million in two years from mailings highlighting her case.

The SPLC’s antics, ranging from the above outrage to the merely absurd—Dees signing fundraising letters to Jewish potential donors as “Morris Seligman Dees”—harm more than guilty liberals’ wallets. To the extent that our current immigration policy is not in the national interest, the SPLC stands in the way of a solution. And it may ultimately foster the racism it claims to oppose.

Consider the case of Carol Swain, an African-American law professor at Vanderbilt who has been sounding the alarm about “the new white nationalism.” Because she approaches the subject from a scholarly rather than a fundraising perspective, she has raised the SPLC’s hackles. “When my face was smeared across the papers in my state with accusations that I was an apologist for white supremacy, I thought it was time to get involved,” Swain said at the CIS press conference. Driving the immigration debate underground, she argued, will silence legitimate restrictionists and empower genuine racists.

Swain concluded, “If we are concerned about extremists, the best thing we can do is include their voices in the dialogue. … [The SPLC] is actually making more converts to extremist organizations than they would if they let them talk about their concerns.” For years, Morris Dees has been expanding the number of hate groups on his fundraising lists. It would be a tragic result if his tactics helped them proliferate in real life.


Palin, History and Life

When Sarah Palin speaks, liberal feminists go wild. The woman is like a stilettoed catalyst for backlash from the professional political sisterhood.

Much of the bitterness that gushes forth from the lefty ladies has very little to do with Palin herself. It's about many of the things she represents: She's a happy mom, surrounded by a big family and husband; she's pro-life, religious and conservative; and, lest we forget, a political powerhouse the likes of which has not been seen for decades. Depending on who you are and the nature of your gripe, you can add and subtract to this list.

A most recent source of feminist madness over Palin stemmed from a speech she delivered at a Susan B. Anthony List fundraiser in Washington, D.C. The List is a group that supports candidates who are pro-life. It does so in the tradition of the early feminists who fought for life issues. The List, like other similar groups, including the group Feminists for Life, educates and promotes the largely forgotten or otherwise suppressed history of the women who fought for the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. These suffragettes were smart, at home with their femininity and perplexed by those who would deny the very power of life within them.

In many ways, the women among the Tea Party activists of today -- whom Palin counts as part of a "mom awakening" going on -- would be quite at home with their foremothers. If polls I've seen and rallies I've attended are any indication, today's female fighters are pro-life and sensible. They've seen the pain the last few decades of social radicalism has wrought. They're a danger to the feminist establishment.

And so in her speech, Palin talked about "a new revival of that original feminism of Susan B. Anthony." She said, "Together, we're showing young women that being pro-life is in keeping with the best traditions of the women's movement."

Palin talked about "empowering women," and in her worldview that translates into making sure women know that they have options when they are pregnant in "less-than-ideal circumstances." She talked beautifully about her son Trig and the transcendent challenge of raising a son with Down syndrome.

As the former governor of Alaska tends to do, Palin rallied the people about the future and their role in it. Referring to the recent health care debate and the failure of nearly every so-called pro-life Democrat to step up to the plate, Palin talked about how a "new pro-life, pro-woman majority will actually be pro-life when it counts, when those votes are needed."

And so for days after, there was the usual anti-Palin march of derision. On the Washington Post's website, two Anthony aficionados asserted: "Sarah Palin is no Susan B. Anthony." They lamely criticized Palin for not providing enough footnotes in her speech to prove that Anthony cared all that much about abortion.

As they worked to demonstrate that Anthony was indifferent on abortion, the Palin critics managed to conveniently skip over the other suffragettes and their writings in newspapers and letters. Like the letter Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to Julia Ward Howe in 1873 in which she explained, "When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."

The Post article dismisses anonymous editorials in the newspaper Anthony was intimately involved with. But to do so is to ignore the attitudes that were a natural part of the activism for which early feminists are most well-known. Attitudes that are truly reflective of so many pro-life groups today -- including the much derided and hated Catholic Church and evangelical activists who for decades now have labored to keep the fight active

One respondent to Palin argued: "Her usual rhetoric extolling the values and importance of freedoms doesn't extend to women." In the rhetoric and reality of the liberal feminist movement from which a comment like that is born, freedom doesn't extend to the unborn child. Increasingly, Americans are not tolerating this. In the tradition of the suffragettes, women, increasingly, will have none of it.

And so I understand why women of the left react early and often to Palin. It's not about her, it's about the threat to their power she represents. They've based so much of their political activism on the tenets of the sexual revolution, which have been such a disaster for women, men, children, and families. But the jig is up. It didn't fly with the likes of Anthony and Stanton. And it's increasingly not flying now. It's not the pro-lifers who went rogue in the first place.


Melanie Phillips on a World Gone Mad

An interview

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s notable about the current “apparent mass departure from rationality”?

MELANIE PHILLIPS: What I have found so striking is that, in this supposed age of reason, there is such an implacable refusal, over a wide and disparate range of issues, to acknowledge the authority of factual evidence over opinion, or distinguish truth from propaganda and lies, or differentiate between justice and injustice, victim and victimizer. More than that, this phenomenon is confined to the supposed custodians of reason, the intelligentsia; and some of the most prominent of these often-militant “rationalists” propound assertions that are demonstrably irrational.

Even more striking is that this repudiation of reason is associated with the most fashionable and progressive causes — anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism, scientism. Yet they promote not just irrationality but a return to primitivism, pre-modern levels of social disorder, and the persecution of dissenters.

LOPEZ: What does a self-described “agnostic” care about God?

PHILLIPS: You don’t have to be a religious believer to understand that if religion — more specifically, the Hebrew Bible and the Christianity that built upon it — underpins Western civilization and the codes of right and wrong — putting others above yourself, freedom and equality, and belief in reason — that form the bedrock of that civilization, then eroding or destroying that religion will erode or destroy those virtues and the civilization they distinguish.

LOPEZ: You write that progressives, Islamists, environmentalists, fascists, militant atheists, and religious fanatics are “united by a common desire to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world.” Is this becoming more apparent?

PHILLIPS: It may seem strange to lump all these ideologies together since they are all so different. But, when you look at them, it is immediately apparent that they are all at root utopian, millenarian visions of the perfection of the world through human agency — the age-old recipe for totalitarian terror. The idea that fascism is in a wholly different place from the Left is in my view quite misplaced: Although conventionally one is described as “right” and the other as “left,” this is historically and philosophically inaccurate; they share common roots in the repudiation of individual reason and liberty.

One of the mysteries of the age is the way “progressives” who fetishize sexual freedom, gay rights, female equality, and the like march shoulder to shoulder with Islamists who stone adulterers, kill gays, and subjugate women. They share a common desire to destroy the cultural traditions and normative values of the West — all in the cause of creating the perfect society, which creates in turn a totalitarian mindset, which links religious fanatics and the political tyrannies of both Communism and fascism.

To some of us, this is very apparent — but many who are in the grip of these delusions are frighteningly incapable of understanding what it is that they don’t understand.

LOPEZ: Why do you put the word “progressives” in quotation marks?

PHILLIPS: Glad you asked that! Because there’s nothing progressive about the totalitarian fanatics of the Left, even though they claim that label for themselves. One of our biggest problems is the hijacking of language by the Left, which has turned words such as “liberal,” “tolerant,” and “progressive” into their very opposites. I do believe in being progressive in the true sense — the authentic, classical-liberal goal of creating a better society by encouraging the good and discouraging the bad. But to achieve that, we have to reclaim the language of social progress for its true meaning, which is based on a proper differentiation between right and wrong, truth and lies, justice and injustice. Until we do that, we allow ourselves to be co-opted into the discourse of moral and intellectual inversion, and we allow the lunatics to run the asylum.

I do hope that this language is not politically incorrect.

LOPEZ: Are there really a hundred thousand practicing pagans in Britain today? There’s a Pagan Police Association?

PHILLIPS: Yup! It’s testimony, is it not, to the rich diversity of diversity in Britain? We all have to keep straight faces while our police officers take official leave to dance naked ’round a pile of stones.

LOPEZ: So Islam is not London’s only religion problem.

PHILLIPS: The real problem in Britain is not Islam but the vacuum in British culture which Islam is opportunistically attempting to fill. That vacuum has been caused by the retreat and surrender of the Christian church under the tide of secularism and aggressive atheism. This has opened the door not to an age of reason but to an epidemic of paganism — environmentalism, or worship of the earth, is the most conspicuous example, but there’s lots of other absurd stuff, too, such as seances, crystals, astrology, and the like. The Islamization of Britain is only taking place because the spiritual playing field has been abandoned to hyper-individualism and irrationality. The U.S. isn’t immune to this madness by the way — just look at Madonna and “Kabbalah” (not).

LOPEZ: How is “Londonistan” faring? Any better? Any worse?

PHILLIPS: Better in the narrow but obviously highly important sense that our security people have picked up on and stopped so many Islamist plots against Britain. But just as bad, or even worse, in the degree to which the political and security establishments still refuse to acknowledge that Britain and the West are the victims of a religious war, an Islamic jihad. They refuse to use the terms “Islamic extremism” or “Islamic terrorism.” Sound familiar?

Worse, they believe that the Muslim Brotherhood — who are the spiritual fathers of al-Qaeda and Hamas amongst others, and whose aim is to reestablish the medieval Islamic caliphate and conquer the world for Islam — are just a bunch of harmless religious nuts who can be used to divert impressionable young British Muslims away from terror. So they actually employ such Islamic extremists in government — as advisers against Islamic extremism. They are doing nothing to halt the advance of a parallel sharia jurisdiction and are even welcoming sharia finance. Only people who have lost touch with rationality in general can be so blind, surely.

LOPEZ: Why does Princess Diana remain an important cultural case study?

PHILLIPS: The hysteria over Princess Diana was a spectacular example of the tendency towards psychological projection, in which the public projects its deepest fears and fantasies onto a public figure who is held to transcend disadvantage. At its worst, this process makes the celebrity into a kind of sainted figure. A similar kind of pathological projection took Barack Obama into the White House.

LOPEZ: Tell me about “kitsch emotion,” what it is, and why it’s important to recognize.

PHILLIPS: Kitsch emotion replaces real feelings, such as love or grief, with a sentimentalized pastiche that is, at root, all about making the person feel good about himself. Thus, as with the death of Diana, people advertise their moral worth with open displays of grief over someone they only knew as a media construct; emotional restraint is seen not as an admirable stoicism but as evidence of callousness.

These are emotions for a narcissistic age; they are all about the self, not about looking out for other people. It’s important to recognize this so that we can distinguish them from the real thing — which otherwise will become confused and may be lost altogether, along with our concern for others and our whole understanding of the difference between what is true and what is false.

LOPEZ: How can Britain be “post-religious” when religion seems to be an issue there?

PHILLIPS: It’s post-Christian, to be more precise; in other words, the indigenous population has turned away from faith in and adherence to the doctrines and moral precepts of the religion that underpins British society. By comparison with the U.S., Britain is pretty godless.

LOPEZ: “People didn’t want to hear about the anti-white, anti-Western church to which he had belonged for twenty years, nor about his questionable associations with people in Chicago’s corrupt political machine, nor about his friendships with and tutelage by anti-Western radicals.” Is this at the heart of so many problems? People simply don’t want to know?

PHILLIPS: Yes, it’s human nature, unfortunately, to hide heads in sand and hope unpleasant things will just go away. But what’s so alarming now is the extent to which people are allowing emotionalism and wishful fantasies to delude them, especially at such a dangerous juncture for the world. The way in which the American public refused to acknowledge the evidence of Obama’s radical background and thus elected an anti-Western radical to the White House was indeed a conspicuous example of this flight from reality.

LOPEZ: Has the public fully appreciated the significance of the Climate Research Unit fraud?

PHILLIPS: One of the striking aspects of mass ideological delusion is a refusal to acknowledge even the clearest evidence of the intellectual and moral corruption at its core. The gerrymandering of scientific evidence by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, in order to uphold the theory of anthropogenic global warming in the face of evidence that the earth was not warming at all, has been pushed aside as either an artificially created uproar or, at worst, an error of judgment by one hard-pressed scientist.

It was far worse than that, of course, because the various scientists involved had been for years absolutely central to the promulgation of AGW theory; and what the leaked emails revealed was their instinctive impulse to wrench the facts to fit their prior assumptions. Most chilling of all was their unshakeable certainty that they had a duty thus to wrench that evidence — in order to demonstrate the truth of the theory, because it was simply impossible that there could be evidence to the contrary.

What was also glossed over or missed altogether in the uproar over East Anglia was that AGW theory has been sustained on the back of one scientific fraud or sloppy and flawed research exercise after another. Yet astonishingly, it is still being promoted quite shamelessly by those for whom there can simply be no contradiction to the theory, and who thus project in turn all the falsehoods and frauds onto the skeptic side of the argument. It is surely the biggest exercise in totalitarian thought-reversal and reality-denial since Stalinism.

LOPEZ: If it is “demonstrably untrue” that “Bush lied, people died,” how has it taken root so deeply?

PHILLIPS: Through the refusal of a highly ideological media — composed of visceral Bush-haters, Israel-bashers, and transnational “progressives” — to report what was actually out there in terms of evidence or even follow the elementary rules of logic on the related topics of the Iraq war they had overwhelmingly opposed and the Islamic jihad they blamed on Israel. As a result, simple facts, such as the reasons Bush or Blair actually gave for the war or what the Iraq Survey Group actually found, were airbrushed out of the debate, and history was effectively rewritten — with virtually no dissent allowed.

LOPEZ: What is scientific triumphalism? Does harping on it make you anti-science?

PHILLIPS: Scientific triumphalism is the belief that scientific materialism alone has the answers to all the questions in the universe. This causes science to overreach beyond its proper realm, seeking to explain what is explicable, into claiming to explain what is inexplicable, which is properly the realm of religion. The attempt to use materialism to explain what it cannot explain causes promoters of scientism to become irrational. So pointing this out is certainly not anti-science. It is against the perversion of science.

LOPEZ: Is there a secular inquisition?

PHILLIPS: Yes. By that, I mean that secular ideologies such as environmentalism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, scientism, moral relativism, multiculturalism, and so forth have a quasi-religious belief that they embody a revealed truth that cannot permit any challenge. And yet all these ideologies, which are militantly secular and which hold that religion is a source of irrationality and oppression, resemble to an uncanny degree the millenarian beliefs of Christianity in the Middle Ages and Islam through the ages; their dogmatic belief in a revealed truth of sin, guilt, and redemption caused heretics to be persecuted. Today, we have secular inquisitions in which heretics are also persecuted for expressing forbidden ideas that challenge the received assumption of “virtue”; thus we have the demonization of dissenters.

LOPEZ: What is the “Middle East Witch-Hunt”?

PHILLIPS: Medieval witch-hunts involved singling out certain women as scapegoats and then killing them for crimes of which they were innocent but of which they found themselves incapable of proving their innocence because the case against them was rigged. In Britain in particular, but also in parts of Europe and on American campuses (see the Mearsheimer/Walt calumny), there is an obsessive malice toward Israel which goes far beyond reasoned debate and has become a pathological scapegoating of a nation.

The treatment of Israel by the left-wing Western intelligentsia is unique in its irrationality and moral and historical inversion. It takes a nation that is the historic victim of aggression and blames it for jeopardizing peace in the region and causing Islamic extremism worldwide — despite demonstrable evidence that this is simply untrue. It accuses Israel, wholly falsely, of “apartheid” and ethnic cleansing when Israeli Arabs have full civil rights and the Palestinian population has increased many times over — and when Jews are excluded from parts of the Arab world (including the putative state of Palestine).

It takes a nation that has been under exterminatory attack for six decades (nine, if you include the Palestine Mandate) and insists that it make compromises with its attackers, even as they continue to attack it. And if any Jew dares protest at the manifest injustice, lies, and bigotry in this unique delegitimization, they find themselves accused of “dual loyalty” or being part of a covert global conspiracy to put the world at risk.

LOPEZ: With polls suggesting President Obama is hurting with Jewish voters, are there signs that Jewish voters may divorce themselves from the Left?

PHILLIPS: No; the world would surely stop turning on its axis were this to happen. More seriously, of course some may do so; and Orthodox Jews are already more inclined to vote Republican. But among liberal Jews, the most I would expect is a turning away from Obama — if even that — rather than a divorce from the Democratic party.

LOPEZ: Does the BBC hate Jews?

PHILLIPS: No, not Jews per se. The BBC simply embodies the world-view of the Left, which demonizes Israel and holds America responsible for Israel’s behavior. Of course, you might say that is itself a form of Jew-hatred, but that is an argument that needs to be unpacked.

LOPEZ: What can be done about anti-Semitism in the West? Elsewhere?

PHILLIPS: Jew-hatred, as I prefer to call it, can surely never be eradicated. But the lies that currently fuel it — lies about Israel’s behavior, the history of the Middle East, and so on — should be publicly confronted and exploded. Similarly, the ways in which the blood libels about the Jews pouring out of the Arab and Muslim worlds are poisoning minds not just in that world but in the West should also be prominently discussed, along with the continuity between the Arab/Palestinian agenda and that of the Nazis, whose allies they once were.

One of the main problems is the silence of Israel on this mass derangement in the West, and its failure to challenge it forensically and systematically. This has left an intellectual vacuum into which bigotry flows. While the irrationality of Jew-hatred cannot be defeated by reason, there are many in Britain and the West who are not natural bigots but are actually people of high-minded conscience, who have merely been indoctrinated with falsehoods about Israel that are never publicly challenged. Some of those people, at least, can certainly be reached by addressing their ignorance.

LOPEZ: Is relativism the problem? How do you combat it?

PHILLIPS: Relativism, or the belief that there is no hierarchy of values, not even truth over lies, is at the root of these problems. In my view, it is a product of aggressive secularism, and thus can only be addressed by a return to Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.

LOPEZ: What’s so special about Britain? Why and how is it at the forefront?

PHILLIPS: Britain is particularly godless, as discussed above. It is thus furthest advanced in social, cultural, and moral breakdown, hugely exacerbated by the loss of its belief in itself as a nation and the demoralization — in every sense — that has followed from that. But as the parent of the English-speaking world, it still punches culturally far above its weight. Where it leads today, others will surely follow. And since Britain was first into the Enlightenment and is now first out, America and the rest of the West should be concerned.

LOPEZ: How close behind — or ahead — is the U.S.?

PHILLIPS: The U.S. is relatively well protected through Middle America, which is still overwhelmingly God-fearing and committed to the American nation and its particular values. But all the things I’ve been talking about are nevertheless steadily encroaching. The culture wars have been raging in the U.S. for decades now, and the universities are particularly porous to these noxious ideologies. And then there’s Obama . . .

LOPEZ: Is the existence of the EU part of the problem?

PHILLIPS: The EU is the embodiment of the doctrine to which the Left now subscribes: “transnational progressivism,” or the belief that the nation is illegitimate and is trumped by supranational institutions and laws promoting the Brotherhood of Man through “universal” values. This is deeply anti-democratic and secularizing, standing against the particulars of creed or culture. So yes, the EU is both symptom and, partly, cause of this problem.

LOPEZ: What was the most alarming fact you learned during the course of writing your book?

PHILLIPS: The full extent of the persecution of dissidents from all these ideologies within the academy.

LOPEZ: What was the most consoling fact you learned during the course of writing The World Turned Upside Down?

PHILLIPS: That so many, many people throughout the West think as I do.

LOPEZ: If every reader took one action item from your book, what would you want it to be?

PHILLIPS: To make known the truth about the monstrous misrepresentation of Israel, the key and normative issue of our time from which so much else follows.


The Stars & Stripes: Always 'Two Thumbs Up'

AOL News reports that film critic Roger Ebert criticized the five California teens who wore clothing bearing the American flag to school on May 5th — Cinco de Mayo. He announced on his Twitter page that the five should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on July 4th. Brilliant. And this guy actually won a Pulitzer.

The five students, of course, were sent home, but the school’s principal has since apologized. Now, if only Ebert and Juan Williams (appearing on The O’Reilly Factor) would follow suit.

Ebert, probably America’s premier film critic, should stick to penning the praises of his cinematic favorites, such as Booty Call. He once wrote a column — now how’s this for originality? — questioning Sarah Palin’s intellectual curiosity. How about a nationally-known conservative film critic — now that would be original. Ebert, who has lost his voice and suffered disfigurement due to thyroid cancer, reportedly received angry retorts from bloggers making fun of his physical state. Naturally, AOL focused as much on that aspect as on the disrespect of America’s flag on her native soil, the same flag for which thousands of Americans are dead and just as severely disfigured as Ebert.

Note to Ebert and others: the American flag is never out of place or inappropriate in the United States. Not on any day of the year. To the 40 percent (noted by Ebert) of the school who are Hispanic, Old Glory stands proudly as an inspiration, a symbol of values such as freedom and opportunity that either your immediate family or your ancestors obviously valued. Why else would you be in the USA?

To anyone who is offended at any time by the American flag — don’t let the door hit you on the way out! We don’t keep people in — that’s the domain of Hollywood’s favorite political pop star, Fidel Castro. And would the face of Hugo Chavez (beloved by critical fave Sean Penn) emblazoned on a T-shirt bear moral equivalence to the Stars and Stripes? Therein lays the stifling confines of political correctness: The edicts of right and wrong are built on the quicksands, not of mob rule, but of the equally short-sighted fashions of elite opinion makers.

Speaking of which, commentator Juan Williams opined that a potentially volatile situation merited quick attention, thus the students being forced to change their shirts or go home. Williams wrote off the tension to the testosterone of teenage boys — with Mexican and American flags little more than gang symbols. An American flag was snatched from a student, but, hey, boys will be boys, and who are we to judge?

These young men are patriots, Juan. We see patriots on the streets and on the battlefields but not often enough in the comfort zones of political roundtables and certainly not in the entertainment sections of Chicago newspapers. Who in the media have the guts of these fellows, but more importantly, who is on their side? Certainly no one on FOX News at that moment.

Once we lose sight of our symbols and shared values, freedoms will surely topple one by one. But then, of course, that is the very aim of liberalism, which is why liberty begs for saving not merely from masses of illegal immigrants unwilling to assimilate but from liberals within our own borders.



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 or 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.


22 May, 2010

Swedish princess emulating 'sexist British tradition' of giving bride away

Congratulations to Her Royal Highness

The Crown Princess of Sweden has upset the country's church leaders by announcing she wants to be given away by her father when she marries next month, a practice which the Swedes consider sexist.

In Swedish tradition, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, however, Crown Princess Victoria wishes to walk to the altar at Stockholm Cathedral on the arm of her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, at her wedding to Daniel Westling, a commoner.

The decision has prompted the head of the Swedish church, Archbishop Anders Wejryd, to take the unusual step of issuing a public statement expressing his disapproval at the adoption of such an Anglo-Saxon practice.

"Being given away is a new phenomenon which occasionally occurs in the Church of Sweden. I usually advise against it, as our marriage ceremony is so clear on the subject of the spouses' equality. The couple know where I stand on this matter," he said.

One in 10 Swedish brides is now given away, but the Church fears that such a high profile Royal wedding - the first in 34 years - will spark an unwelcome trend in a country which takes equality of the sexes very seriously indeed.

Annika Borg, a priest and theologian, said modern brides were being influenced by the fairytale weddings featured in Hollywood films.
"I think it's unfortunate that Sweden's future head of state has chosen to follow a practice that is not Swedish tradition. The idea of the couple entering the church together symbolises that the man and the woman are entering the marriage of their own free will," she said.

"We've got a carefully worked-out position on this matter in the Swedish church, and in the future it is going to be very hard for us to resist requests from brides who want to be given away."
There is a Royal precedent. When King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia married in 1976 they walked down the aisle together.

However, the king's sister Princess Margaretha was given away by her grandfather, Gustav VI Adolf, when she married Englishman John Ambler in Stockholm in 1964.

The Royal Court said Princess Victoria's decision was a symbolic one. "This has a bigger dimension. This isn't a father giving away his daughter to another man. The symbolism is that the king is leading the heir to the nation's throne to the altar - and to the man who has been accepted," said spokeswoman Nina Eldh.

Princess Victoria is the heir-apparent to the throne, after Sweden changed its Act of Succession in 1980 to introduce equal primogeniture.

In other ways too, this will be a very modern Royal marriage. Mr Westling is a personal fitness trainer and gym owner who met Princess Victoria in 2002 when she hired him to supervise her workouts. He moved into an apartment in the Royal palace two years ago.

The wedding will take place on June 19, the same date on which Princess Victoria's parents married in 1976. Thereafter, Mr Westling will go by the title of Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland.

Dick Harrison, an expert in Swedish history from Lund University, said the Royal family had moved with the times. "By far the most common practice in Sweden is that the couple walk to the altar together. But if you are looking at Royal tradition, the normal situation would be for her to have married a foreign prince - and in previous centuries that would have meant two marriages in two different countries."

The Swedes have become used to colourful episodes in the lives of the younger Royals. Princess Victoria's younger sister, Princess Madeleine, called off her wedding to Jonas Bergstrom last month after a Bournemouth university student told a gossip magazine that she had a fling with him during a ski trip.

Her brother, Prince Carl Philip, is dating a model and reality television star notable for posing topless with only a python to protect her modesty. The Prince is a racing car driver and nightclub regular who has designed his own range of cutlery.


Official support for female circumcision stirs controversy in US

Another cringing response to Muslim barbarism

The review by a prestigious US medical academy of its policy on female genital cutting has triggered a storm of protest from lobbyists, women's groups and feminist bloggers.

The Academy of American Paediatrics has been accused of sanctioning child abuse and of behaving unethically. Among its critics are many US medical practitioners.

"Have you all gone nuts?" one paediatrican demanded of the academy's bio-ethics committee in a website exchange.

"Just a little female circumcision? There's no reason to do this procedure and to condone any form of it is not acceptable."

Intact America, a non-profit group that campaigns against all forms of circumcision - male and female - accused the academy of deliberately softening its stance to avoid a double standard because it tolerates male circumcision.

"This is gender equity run amok," claimed the group's founder, Georganne Chapin.

The offence was not caused by the committee's final recommendations, which endorsed the academy's previous opposition to female genital cutting, last reviewed in 2007.

Rather, the outrage was invoked by the committee admitting in its report the quandary of some paediatricians who argue that offering a form of "ritualistic genital nick" might help dissuade families from taking their daughters overseas where they would be more likely to undergo life-endangering surgery and mutilation.

The bio-ethics committee noted the sensitivities surrounding the issue and explicitly said it was not advocating surgery in the US. Female genital cutting has been outlawed in the US since 1996 and is illegal in many Western countries, including Australia.

Coincidentally, two members of Congress last month introduced a bill which would make it illegal for anyone to take girls out of the US for the purpose of genital cutting.

The committee stressed the need for doctors to counsel parents on the dangers of female cutting, especially in the case of more extreme surgery in which the entire clitoris and some, or all, of the labia minora are removed.

However, it raised the prospect of tokenistic surgery.

"There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise [of a 'nick'] may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of [female cutting]," wrote the committee, which includes three women ethicists.

The chairman of the committee, Dr Doug Diekema, a Seattle paediatrician and bio-ethicist, told the Herald most paediatricians in the US would never have faced the dilemma recounted by the committee.

But in areas with large numbers of east Africans - in Seattle and Minnesota, for example - it was clear that just saying no was often inadequate.

"We had families explicitly tell [paediatricians] that if we did nothing they would take their kids back to Africa where they would not have control over how harmful a procedure was done," Dr Diekema said. "What they needed was something that satisfied what they believed were the demands of their religion."

The committee's concept of a nick was far les intrusive than infant male circumcision.

"[It] would remove no tissue, would not touch any significant organ but, rather [it] would be a small nick of the clitoral hood which is the equivalent of the male foreskin - nothing that would scar, nothing that would do damage," Dr Diekema said.

He said the ethical rationale for such a suggestion was "harm minimisation".

"My feeling is that this certainly would not increase in any way more harmful procedures … It could only decrease them. I don't think you're going to have families who currently do nothing suddenly wanting the procedure. The only thing you would see is a flow of families who would otherwise get a more dangerous [procedure] moving towards one that doesn't harm their girl."

He said some Western physicians working in Africa believed a ritualistic "nick" had been used to satisfy parents wanting the procedure for their daughters. He said the academy meant to speak "to all paediatricians, including those in countries where this hadn't been precluded by a law".


Banning the Veil

The French government this week decided to fine Muslim women who wear a full-face veil in public -- and France is only the latest in a series of European countries seeking to ban the religious garb. Is this an infringement of religious liberty intended to discriminate against Muslims? Or is the measure necessary to protect the security of others? The answers are a lot more complicated than you might think.

A minority of Muslim women actually wear the burqa or niqab in Muslim countries or the West. The garb consists of a gown and headdress that covers the woman head to foot, revealing only her eyes. Obviously, it is impossible to determine who is under the veil -- even whether the person is male or female. In Paris recently, a group of armed robbers pulled a heist wearing burqas, which made it not only impossible to identify them but easy for the criminals to conceal their weapons when entering the bank.

And the burqa presents even greater challenges when it comes to national security. Increasingly, we rely on cameras and facial recognition software to aid in protecting us against terrorism in public places. What's more, one of the most effective means for airport screeners to detect a potential terrorist is to assess the person's facial reactions: Does he or she appear unduly furtive or nervous, for example. But these techniques are impossible if the person is wearing a burqa.

As Jean-Francois Cope, majority leader in the French National Assembly, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed, "(The burqa) is not an article of clothing -- it is a mask, a mask worn at all times, making identification or participation in economic and social life virtually impossible." And that is also its intent: to isolate the wearer from all aspects of public life.

As Cope notes in his op-ed, the Koran does not tell women they must cover their face, and most Muslim women do not do so. The burqa goes far beyond protecting a woman's modesty; it transforms a woman into a non-person. She becomes a shrouded creature whose face and body are undistinguishable as a unique human being.

Two decades ago, it was exceedingly rare to see burqas in public in the United States. But, depending on where you live, burqas are now visible at shopping malls and on the street. What strikes me most when I encounter burqa-clad women is the contrast between their dress and their male companions'. Most of these women are covered in thick, black cloth, even in Washington's 90-plus degree summers, while the men wear short sleeves and light khakis.

Here's a challenge to Muslim men who believe that the wearing of the burqa is no hardship on women. Don one yourself and wear it for a week. Wear it to work and see if it impedes your ability to do your job. Wear it when you go out in public and see what it's like to try to interact with others. Wear it when you go to the local mall or the park or take your children for a walk. And, by all means, do so on the hottest day of the year.

The First Amendment would likely make a broad ban on the burqa in the United States unconstitutional, though some states have restricted its wearing for such activities as obtaining a driver's license. But it would be a false tolerance to suggest that we should treat the burqa as a symbol of religious freedom. The burqa is a statement about the woman's status more than a religious one. The burqa-clad woman is not an individual with rights; she belongs to a man -- her husband, father or brothers -- whose "property" must be protected from other men's gaze. We may not ban the burqa here, but we can and should disapprove of it.


Australia: Former staff member says juvenile detainees running Victorian detention centres

CIVIL rights of young inmates have overtaken common sense in juvenile justice as staff are subjected to constant assault, a former staff member claims.

They cannot even raise their voice in retaliation, former unit manager Colin Richardson says.

In recent weeks, a pregnant officer at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre was threatened with death by an inmate and another officer lost two front teeth in an assault.

"Nobody gets charged. And if you yell at an inmate you get stood down," Mr Richardson said. Metal detectors and strip searches were banned, so drugs and weapons were common inside the centre. He said of about 140 officers at the centre, he believed up to 70 per cent had made injury or stress-related WorkSafe Claims.

"They can't even isolate inmates if they misbehave - it's all about rewarding good behaviour with things like takeaways and outings," Mr Richardson said. "And this is the breeding ground for inmates to go onto bigger and worse things." He said youth officers gave the inmates too much trust, when many were locked up for serious crimes.

WorkSafe spokesman Michael Birt said staff at the centre had made 136 claims to Work Safe since 1996. That amounted to about 10 claims per year, which was "not astronomical" given the nature of the work.

Last year DHS's youth justice custodial services branch won a Work Safe award for its strategy to deal with stress, trauma and burn-out amongst staff.



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 or 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.


21 May, 2010

Tax and the City

By Dr Jeremy Sammut, in Australia

To borrow a line, I want to tell you about a girl. We shall call her ‘Isabella.’ Isabella is a high school teacher at a public school. I know what you’re thinking and you are not entirely wrong.

She believes NAPLAN [school performance indexes] is a disgrace that punishes disadvantaged schools and that Deputy PM Gillard is a sell-out. I’m working on her on that and other fronts, because she is not a lost cause. At university, she protested against the construction of freeways on environmental grounds, but has since learnt-by-doing that freeways are a faster way to get to work without wasting hours each week in traffic.

Recently, Isabella made an interesting point for someone with a left-of-centre perspective on an old issue. As a dedicated and hard working educator, she mentioned how much of her modest salary is confiscated as income tax.

Not that she was complaining. You see, she wants to live in a welfare state in which everybody receives enough income from the government to keep body and soul together and keep people off the streets.
What was annoying her was the number of beggars constantly on show in the Sydney CBD. Show is the right word. These beggars come complete with cardboard accounts of tales of woe and kneel on the footpath with heads bowed in supplication.

This struck Isabella as un-Australian and a betrayal of the social contract she willingly supported. As she put it, she pays her taxes so fellow citizens don’t have to debase themselves by seeking ‘alms for the poor,’ and, therefore, resents being expected to feel guilty as she had already given at the office.

She suspected (rightly) that since even homeless people can claim benefits, these people are undeserving of a few loose dollars and cents more. She also has an old-fashioned respect for work, which led her to a profoundly un-Left conclusion. If the beggars can put so much thought and effort into their daily performances, why can’t they put the same energy into finding a job?

She also wondered what the police are doing and why these people are not moved on. This is a very good question.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated May 21. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Rape case defendants to be given anonymity in Britain

Amazing that this long overdue measure is at all controversial. It is just an extension of "innocent until proven guilty". Many innocent men's lives have been ruined by pre-trial publicity -- even after they are acquitted . And false rape accusations are a regular occurrence in Britain, due to embarrassment about unwise sexual decisions

Defendants in rape cases are to be granted anonymity in an unexpected move that women’s groups immediately branded an insult.

The announcement over anonymity for defendants in rape trials turns the clock back 30 years to the 1970s, when the Sexual Offences Act introduced anonymity for those accused of rape. It was later repealed. Officials said that details of the change had yet to be decided. It is expected that the ban will be lifted after a suspect is convicted.

The proposal provoked anger among campaigners. Ruth Hall, of Women Against Rape, said that the decision was an insult and a backlash against the rising number of rape reports. “More attention needs to be paid to the 94 per cent of reported cases that do not end in conviction rather than the few that are false,” she said. “If men accused of rape got special rights to anonymity, it would reinforce the misconception that lots of women who report rape are lying. False rape allegations are extremely rare but receive disproportionate publicity.”

A report by Baroness Stern earlier this year recommended that independent research should first be done into the scale of false rape allegations.


The Tehran regime throws off the mask to reveal the vicious brute beneath

But Leftists will continue to believe what they want to believe

Five young Iranian Kurds were executed last Sunday in summary trials reminiscent of the era that immediately followed the fall of the Shah and the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Even according to government-backed press, the victims had been kept incommunicado for most of their imprisonment and had little or no access to lawyers — a violation of Iran’s own laws.

Gone are the regime’s efforts at keeping up pretenses, at casting itself as the authentic but misunderstood regional democracy. The evolutionary clock, which the West briefly believed to have been ticking in Tehran, positively wound down last week. Tehran’s Neanderthals bared themselves to reveal their ancestral constitution, acting precisely according to the dictates of their immutable, reform-defying DNA, and resumed bloodletting.

Iranians who remember waking up in late February and March of 1979 to the startling images in their morning papers of bare-chested corpses with unzipped trousers — executed atop the roof of Ayatollah Khomeini’s residence the night before — recognize the biological references of the last few lines.

Fear of collapse for Iran’s regime is always measurable by the number of heads that fall. Last week, Tehran’s paranoia shot up on the scale, and so, five were executed. It’s the kind of tragedy that can best be relayed with simplicity, even austerity, which Iran’s foremost contemporary poet, Ahmad Shamlu, once captured in the opening lines of a poem:

The news was brief

They were executed.

And so, they were: Four men and one woman, a beloved 34-year-old teacher and social worker among them. Two were allegedly members of an armed group, though the evidence against them was not presented at the trial. Against the other three, the charges added up to a vague allusion to “intent.” They had surely been tortured, for the authorities refused to return their bodies to their families. Besides, they know that there is nothing like a coffin to draw out Iranians to the streets by the thousands.

What distinguishes this particular round of executions from others in the past few years is the swiftness by which it was carried out. Not even the families of the victims had been informed of what was coming. Dispensing with previous, albeit hollow, decorum, the regime refused to abide by its own constitution and go through the motions of a trial. There were no efforts to disguise the process as fair, not even by the shabby internal standards. Unexpected as they came, the executions were meant to deliver the nation a jolt, a reminder that Tehran has shed all civilized facades. It was a brazen display to which the opposition leader, Moussavi, referred in a statement as the end of the judiciary in Iran and a clear sign that the court systems are nothing but an arm of the state.

The enmity between Iran’s regime and the Kurds is as old as the regime itself. The Ayatollah never had any use for ethnic diversity. When, in the early days after his rise to power, it became clear to him that the Kurds were not about to jettison their distinct heritage for the sake of his dream of a united Islamic front, he called for jihad against them, which he waged both within Iran and beyond, even in Austria and Germany, where prominent Kurdish leaders were assassinated.

But this latest round of executions is about more than the old enmity with the Kurds. It is Tehran’s signal to the nation about what to expect in case of any forthcoming unrest in the weeks ahead, as June 12th marks the first anniversary of 2009 elections.

There is an alarming twist to this particular maneuver. Though the executions are clearly meant to force the Green activists to abandon their anniversary plans, the victims were not Green activists. Tehran would not risk shedding the blood of the Green leaders and hand a coffin to the already charged masses. Instead, it is doing what it has always done best — it leaves those in the spotlight unharmed to chase the vulnerable who are in the shadows.

That, too, is an old pattern of the regime’s — a maneuver that was first tested in November of 1979 after the takeover of the American Embassy. When the world’s gaze was fixed on the gates of the embassy where the 52 diplomats were locked up inside, the regime rounded up newspapers and arrested, imprisoned and executed the opposition. Today, once again, Tehran is rounding up old enemies, ravaging the most vulnerable — Kurds, members of the religious Bahai minority, homosexuals, the old political opposition not associated with the Green movement.

And what ought the rest of us who reject such savagery do? For the moment, as the families of the dead are denied the right to mourn their loved ones, we must first heed our most primordial intuitions: Say prayers and hold vigils in their memory. Together, we must deny Tehran the luxury of shadows. We must illuminate all dark spaces, the anonymous faces, by remembering.


Not another 'hollow charade'

Jeff Jacoby gets a bit optimistic below

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO law professor Elena Kagan was right to complain, in her now-famous 1995 book review, that ever since the failed nomination of Robert Bork, Supreme Court confirmation hearings have been reduced to "a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints." She was correct when she insisted upon "the essential rightness -- the legitimacy and the desirability -- of exploring a Supreme Court nominee's set of constitutional views and commitments" and lamented that "the problem is not that senators engage in substantive discussion with Supreme Court nominees; the problem is that they do not."

Above all Kagan was on the mark when -- in describing the content-free confirmation hearings of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- she wrote that both nominees knew that "the safest and surest route to the prize lay in alternating platitudinous statement and judicious silence," and commented: "Who would have done anything different, in the absence of pressure from members of Congress?"

Alas, what Professor Kagan endorsed so forthrightly 15 years ago, Supreme Court nominee Kagan disavows today. Gone is her appetite for "substantive discussion with Supreme Court nominees" -- vanished, it seems, when President Obama named her solicitor general, and it became clear that she herself would be on the administration's shortlist of potential nominees to fill any Supreme Court vacancy.

"I'm not sure that, sitting here today, I would agree with that statement," she told Senator Orrin Hatch, when he asked about her 1995 call for probing nominees' views on controversial judicial subjects. "I wrote that when I was in the position of sitting where the staff is now sitting and feeling a little bit frustrated that I really wasn't understanding completely what the judicial nominee in front of me meant and what she thought."

Is that it, then? Is there nothing to do but resign ourselves to yet another "vapid and hollow charade" of a Supreme Court confirmation? Must we prepare once again to endure the long-winded pomposities of the Judiciary Committee hearing room -- the harrumphing about "stare decisis" -- the posing of questions to which senators expect no meaningful answers -- the bobbing and weaving by the nominee, who piously declines to give her opinion on the most salient legal issues of the day?

Enough already. The Constitution conditions the confirmation of Supreme Court justices on the Senate's "advice and consent" for a reason, and it isn't so that senators can preen on TV. The moment Kagan dons that black robe, she will become one of the most influential people in the United States. Long after most of the senators who vote on her nomination leave office, she is likely to still be putting her stamp on every area of American law and life -- from capital punishment to campaign finance, intellectual property to immigration. She will be invested with sweeping power for the rest of her life, and will effectively answer to no one in exercising that power. To cloak her with such authority without finding out what she would do with it is egregiously irresponsible. It ought to be unthinkable.

Kagan was right in 1995, and not just about "the legitimacy and the desirability" of investigating a high court nominee's substantive views on legal and political controversies. She was right as well when she observed that only "pressure from members of Congress" can keep nominees from spouting platitudes and ducking tough questions. It's time -- long past time -- for Congress to apply that pressure.

The framers of the Constitution expected senators to do more than rubber-stamp presidential nominations. The fact that Ginsburg and Breyer were waved onto the court without being grilled on their views was not a good reason to do the same for John Roberts and Sam Alito. Nor should Sonia Sotomayor have been allowed to avoid serious scrutiny of her judicial philosophy and beliefs.

Kagan's nomination is an opportunity to correct course -- a chance for the Senate to resume its constitutional function as a check and balance on the judiciary. Senators should let it be known that they will no longer confirm any Supreme Court nominee who refuses to give substantive answers to relevant questions. There is no divine right to a seat on the highest court in the land. Too much is at stake for yet another vapid and hollow charade. If anyone knows that, it's Elena Kagan.



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 or 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.


20 May, 2010

Housing in a socialist paradise

Despite all the Hopey Change, Sweden is still ahead of us on the road toward collectivism. Let's see how easy it is to find housing in a place where it's regarded as a "human right":
Long waiting times and high black market prices have long characterised Stockholm's rental housing market… The sheer hopelessness of the situation faced by newcomers to Stockholm looking to rent an apartment has been exposed once again by a report on the findings of the major public housing firms…

The most common scenario is that many tenants keep hold of their rental apartments after having moved. As the waiting times for inner-city Stockholm apartments can run to as long as 20 years many fear never being able to re-enter the market again if they were to surrender their contracts.

Waiting lists are to be expected under socialism, but Stockholm is particularly awful. Of eight comparable EU cities studied in a report by the Swedish Property Federation,
Stockholm stood alone as the city with a long waiting list. It was also the only city with a generally regulated housing system.

As usual, the crisis is a result of Big Government getting its foot in the door.
Hans Lind [a professor of housing economics at the Royal Technical College in Stockholm] explained that the system of regulated rents was introduced in the 1950s as a temporary measure and that now, almost sixty years later, the somewhat unique situation is very difficult to change.

Lind was asked,
Defenders of rent regulation argue that the current system allows people of all incomes and classes to live in the inner-city. Can you see any advantages with the system?

"Only for those who happen to find an apartment. Now it is very much by chance, or for those with a lot of money and the right contacts, or after a very long wait," Lind argued.

"To suggest that the regulated rental market fulfils a social function is just hypocrisy. Take Stockholm. Anyone can see that the rich live in one place, the less well-off somewhere else. There are very few areas where they are mixed."

Some will always be higher on the totem pole than others. In a free country, you climb or slide on your merits. In a socialist country, everything is frozen in place by the bureaucracy. This is why socialism is favored by elitists.
Eric Clark [a professor in human geography at Lund University] on the other hand argued that the rental market should fulfil a social function. "It is a question of whether you see housing as a human right," he said.

When progressives start blathering about their coercive concept of "human rights," it means their moonbattery cannot be defended.


Time's up for these grasping women

By Amanda Platell

The facts are depressingly familiar. But the conclusion, happily, is different. Yet another professional woman made a six-figure claim for compensation, crying sexual harassment. This time, however, the judge unceremoniously threw her case out of court.

Mrs Haley Tansey, 39, was a £39,000-a-year business manager at HBOS. She claimed she was entitled to a £600,000 pay-off for what she described as eight years of hideous sexual harassment, starting in 1998. But Mrs Tansey took until 2007 to make her first complaint - and that was when she was afraid of losing her job.

At that stage, a full nine years on, the blonde banker felt no hesitation in listing a catalogue of complaints: a naked colleague had appeared in her bedroom on a business trip; another colleague said he'd like to 'sh**' her; a third played a game where he graded women colleagues for their sexual attractiveness.

Forgive me for not being sympathetic, but the judge was absolutely right. Mrs Tansey is an educated, sophisticated woman more than capable of giving as good as she got. As the tribunal ruled, Mrs Tansey was 'no cowering wallflower'.

As for her pathetic carping about men eyeing her up, welcome to the world of sexual emancipation. I know of many professional women who, when out drinking together, play a game in which male colleagues are ranked for their sexual attractiveness.

How many of these men would cry 'harassment'? Her case comes hot on the stiletto heels (perhaps Mrs Tansey would say that was a sexist remark) of that of city executive Jordan Wimmer last week.

This 29-year-old failed in her attempt to grab £4 million compensation from her boss Mark Lowe. She had accused him of four years of sexual harassment, saying Lowe made her to go to lapdancing clubs and treated her like a dumb blonde.

However, a tribunal found she had 'not been a persuasive witness' and failed to complain or show distress until long after the incidents had occurred.

As these cases can be so damaging to the reputation of companies and bosses, they're often settled out of court by firms desperate to avoid bad publicity. So we must congratulate Mr Lowe and HBOS for defending themselves through the courts.

Let it be said loud and clear that women who tolerate sexist behaviour in the workplace do themselves and other women a grave disservice.

Such warped behaviour has to be dealt with firmly and quickly. But equally, women playing the helpless 'little me' just betray their sex. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the boardroom.

Not before time, the tide seems to be turning on high-flying women who think they can cry 'sexual discrimination' every time they get sacked or bored with their job and receive out-of-court settlements large enough to set them up in a life of luxury.


Our shattered social contract — children and the first duty of the captured

“And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself into a state of war with him.” – John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Chapter 3, Section 17

“If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.” -- Paragraph III Army Code of Conduct

The consent of the governed to be governed relies upon the government upholding its end of the social contract, primarily signaled by respect for the rule of law. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution offer a clear, detailed set of terms and conditions for this nation being formed and for the continued consent of the governed. Once a government violates those terms and conditions, via the making of laws contrary to the liberty enshrined in those founding documents and the allowing of its agencies to disregard the rights and protections listed in those documents, the social contract is shattered.

When the social contract is shattered in this way, the government using its power to constrain and diminish liberty, rather than to protect and nourish it, or as John Locke explained in his Second Treatise of Government, “whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.”

“Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society,” continued Locke, “and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty.” And, because at this point, the balance of power tips heavily to the side of the government, the people are well within their natural rights to utilize alternative means and theories of conflict resolution.

What greater breach of trust is there than the seizing of a family’s children by a rogue agency acting outside of the rule of law as defined by the founding documents of this nation? What greater betrayal of liberty is there than an agency, funded by tax dollars coerced from the people by threat of incarceration and violence, allowed to harass families and take away their children, all without ever convicting the parents of those children with a crime? It is an affront to freedom and civilization of the highest degree, and families should conduct themselves as such.

Children should be educated about their rights and responsibilities as free individuals. They need to be given the tools and knowledge they need to safely carry out their first duties, if captured within the system of a rogue agency, which are to resist and to escape. That means you must invest your time into raising children that are smart and responsible, with the practical skills they need to act safely outside of your supervision. In discussing plans and options with your children, you must, in the interest of safety, make an accurate assessment of their abilities and their maturity levels.

First, they should have absolute confidence that you will -- no matter what, no matter how long it takes, and by any means necessary – retrieve them. That way, you reduce their anxiety and fear, and help them be able to more in control of their actions, which will enhance their abilities to resist and escape. Discuss in age appropriate terms, taking care not to suggest methods and means that are not safe for an individual child’s maturity and skill level.

Pharmaceutical or chemical restraint is rampant within the CPS system, well documented and receiving attention throughout the nation. Teach them to smartly resist attempts to medicate by palming or cheeking pills and disposing of them without swallowing them. If physically forced to ingest, teach them how to make themselves vomit it up. They need to keep their minds clear and sharp.

Resisting is important, but it must be done smartly. For example, going to public school will offer greater contact and escape opportunities. Therefore, a child should make sure to comply enough to be able to attend school. Then, via the school library’s computer or those used in computer class, an e-mail or instant message can be sent to family and trusted family friends with specific information on location. Many schools have payphones and an observant child may be able to take advantage of an unattended desk phone to call home. Caller ID is cheap, and even if the child can only let the phone ring a few times to ensure the number shows up on the Caller ID, the parent can reverse look-up the number and get a location.

In addition to basic computer and telephone skills, which include memorizing important telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, children should from the time they are conscious of travel, be encouraged to learn how to get around their region. Maps make great posters, helping them to visualize their location in relation to other places, as well as teaching them how to use maps to get from one place to another. When my son was 4 years old, he could recite the route from Disney, in Orlando, Florida, to our suburban upstate New York home. He could list the roads and turns for everyplace we regularly went, from the grocery store 45 minutes away to my sister’s house an hour away to our usual restaurants and such. He could tell us how to get home from almost anywhere we typically went.

Actively teaching your children to be street smart can go a long way towards keeping children safe. Say, for example, because you don’t have $30,000 to drop on a lawyer and you don’t win the public defender lottery and get a lawyer interested in helping you, you are forced to use an alternative approach to rescuing your child. An arrangement is made for the child to slip out of school and meet a family friend a short distance away. You want to know that your child can get out of the school successfully and get to the meeting place safely.

They should know how to walk and talk with confidence, even if they don’t feel it. They need to know, when out in the street, who to make eye contact with, who not to, and why. For example, it is better not to make eye contact with the obviously mentally ill homeless, because you cannot predict the outcome of interaction. In other situations, brief eye contact and a nod is better, as it demonstrates a lack of fear and doesn’t suggest you would be a good victim. They should know countless examples of how people will try to get them into cars (I lost my puppy, can you help? Your mother sent me to pick you up. Can you give me directions to…).

They should know about safe body space and safe distance, to stay out of arm reach of strangers. They should know to be always aware of their location and surroundings, how not to be herded by a predator into an alley or some enclosed area. They should have concrete, step-by-step strategies of what to do if they feel threatened or followed. Make noise, kick parked cars to set off car alarms, ring door bells, and if the situation is desperate (in some neighborhoods, people just don’t want to get involved and won’t help), break a window in a place where you see people, so that they call the police, get into a store or public place and ask for help or call somebody and stay inside until help arrives. And, they should know how to defend themselves, with specific moves and strategies. They shouldn’t be afraid to pick up anything to protect themselves with -- a broken bottle, a garbage can lid, anything at all -- and should understand that at their size and age, the strategy is to fight to get free and then run away.

Older children, those that have demonstrated their maturity and life skill mastery, may be able to be trusted to escape and then contact a family adult or trusted family friend. However, they must be able to make solid assessments of their situation. In some cases, a dangerous situation may arise, and they should be willing to abort the escape plan. Their physical safety has to take priority. However, for a kid armed with knowledge, there are many ways to handle a given situation, and it is possible to construct a plan that will achieve both ends, safety and escape.

For example, say a teen escapes from a foster or a group home, slipping out at night and finds a highway heading towards home and walks it, staying off the road, down in the bush. The teen stops at a rest area and a predator aggressively starts harassing and following, to a degree that the teen doesn’t feel safe to leave. A cop notices the teen loitering. Instead of taking off and chancing that the predator is going to get the teen when the teen is back on the road, it is better to tell a portion of the truth to the cop. But, do not give the cop a real name or birth date. The end result is that, after hanging around the police station for a while, the police will probably deliver the teen to an emergency children’s shelter, from which the teen can contact family via an unattended computer or telephone or escape again. Physical safety was secured and the escape is still in progress.

A sense of personal responsibility for their own liberty and confidence in their natural right to engage in responsible, thoughtful direct action to secure it are among the greatest gifts one can give a child. That confidence should be built on real knowledge and practical skills, not the empty, spell it like it sounds honey sort of false self-esteem and near blind obedience to authority found in the public school systems. An educated child understands his or her natural rights, the terms and conditions of the social contract, and his obligations to himself and his family.


Islamophobia is a Social Disease

by Mike Adams

Have you ever wondered why liberal professors spend class time characterizing conservative Christians as dangerous while describing Islam as a “religion of peace”? Ever wonder why these liberal professors compare conservative Christians to the Taliban while giving the real Taliban a pass? I think I finally figured it out a few weeks ago after I got a surprise visit from the campus police on the final day of the spring semester.

The reason for the visit, which was entirely professional and appropriate, related to my April 26th article “How to Offend Barbarians and Promote Diversity.” Just two days after the article was published the police chief came to visit me because another professor was concerned that those who wish me harm might come to our campus and injure others in their attempt to harm me. In other words, someone might shoot up the place and take an innocent life, which is a very bad thing according to liberals – unless, of course, we’re talking about abortion.

Let me pause and say that I have absolutely no doubt that the professor who called the police did so out of a genuine fear for her safety, rather than malice towards me. But that is where my sympathy for the un-named professor ends. Please allow me to explain.

I’ve written numerous articles referring to real threats I’ve received. I’ve even written articles talking about how I respond to such threats. Of course, when the threats have come from the left there has been no concern that a band of crazy liberals would come and shoot up the workplace. Liberals don’t have guns. They rely on Broadway Security, which is why all of those silly commercials have white burglars. Broadway knows its liberal audience would be offended by the suggestion that blacks commit burglary.

But the article I wrote on April 26th was different than most articles I write. I really got in the face of Revolution Muslim for threatening the producers of South Park with death. I even dared them to put me on their death list. The liberal professors on my campus, who are obsessed with my columns, certainly read my challenge to Revolution Muslim. And one of those liberal professors freaked out and called the police even though no specific threat had been issued against anyone.

The reason for the over-reaction was simple: Muslims were involved. Liberals do not hate Muslims like they hate conservative Christians. They fear Muslims and are so preoccupied with their fear of Muslims that they never get to the point of hating them.

This liberal fear of Muslims is to be found almost everywhere in academia. Take the case of Julio Pino, the radical Muslim Jihadist who teaches at Kent State University. Julio disseminates bomb-making instructions, encourages children to engage in suicide bombings, and generally displays his love of violence in a very public manner. But the liberals who work with Pino will not utter a word of criticism for the simple reason that they fear him.

Recently, I wrote an email to Pino’s Department Chairman at Kent State. In it, I challenged him to speak out against Pino for the misogynistic email he sent to me from his Kent State account. For those who don’t remember – or who have not read my past columns – Pino claimed he sodomized my mother in an obscene email, which used the “c-word,” the “f-word,” and the “a-word.”

But Pino’s Chairman was afraid to criticize his Jihadist subordinate. So I wrote the Kent State University Women’s Center with the following plea:
Dear WRC Director:

I wanted to write to give you a chance to respond to certain misogynistic statements recently made by one of your faculty members, Julio Pino. Professor Pino wrote the following to me from his Kent State University email account: “I (expletive) your mother up her greasy (expletive) and (expletive) while you're not looking.”

For quite some time, I've been concerned that women's centers focus on issues of little importance while ignoring the horrid treatment of women in the name of Islam. There are countless human rights abuses occurring in Iran and in other parts of the Muslim world. But there are also radical Muslims in this country who hate women with a passion. One of those radically misogynistic Muslims is Julio Pino, who teaches not far from where your women's center is located.

I've heard reports for some time that Pino has a tendency to attack women with a level of profanity that makes The Vagina Monologues sound like a Disney Movie. I've even had emails forwarded to me showing hard evidence to support these accusations. And, now that he's sent these statements to me, I've got conclusive proof.

Would you please show the courage that is lacking in Pino's own department and condemn, in writing, his virulently sexist remarks? Your silence on this issue would send one of two bad messages - that you are too afraid of Muslims to confront their bigotry or, perhaps worse, that you lack the courage to stand up for your convictions.

Sincerely, Mike S. Adams

It should go without saying that the Women’s Center was also afraid to condemn Pino. To date, no one at his university is willing to do so publicly.

I would love to see just one liberal professor take a break from criticizing conservative Christians and go after radical Muslims who are, by far, our most intolerant citizens. Of course, that would entail growing a pair, which would immediately place the professor’s status as a liberal in jeopardy.

In the meantime, maybe we could develop sensitivity training sessions to combat rampant Islamophobia on our campuses. Maybe deep beneath their over-blown fear of Muslims there is a reservoir of liberal commitment to principle and indifference to identity politics.



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 or 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.


19 May, 2010

Parenting expert says: quit mollycoddling our kids

I can't say I agree with all of this (lying, for instance) but he has some good points -- JR

LIE to your children sometimes for fun, let them hurt themselves and punish them with boredom instead of smacking. Nigel Latta's methods are unorthodox but his results -- and legions of relieved parents -- speak for themselves.

The clinical psychologist and author of Politically Incorrect Parenting spoke at a bookshop in Hobart yesterday. "Everybody's trying to do the best for their children, the problem is there is all this information from all these people saying 'if you don't do it my way your kids are going to be a complete mess' and parenting is hard enough," Latta said.

He believes mollycoddling children robs them not only of valuable life lessons but also of the chance just to be children.

"Telling your kids to go away and play isn't bad parenting, you're just teaching them to be kids and to amuse themselves, you don't need to entertain them constantly," he said. "If my kids come to me and say they're bored I say to them, 'well I'm not because I have a cup of coffee and the newspaper, so go away and leave me alone' -- they amazingly find ways to amuse themselves."

Latta said it was often helpful to think of toddlers as drunken rugby hooligans and approach them accordingly. "They have the same reasoning skills and wisdom of the average drunken yob," he said. "Some of them are mean drunks, some are happy drunks, some just go to sleep."

Latta said he was not necessarily opposed to smacking but he believed there were much better options. "The only thing kids fear more than smacking is boredom," he said.


Kiwis keen to start spanking kids again

The ban was legislated by the previous Labour government to cure a very real child abuse problem. The problem was however almost entirely among the Maori and political correctness prevented any recognition of that

NEW Zealanders have spoken and their call is controversial: bring back smacking. Two years after the nation grabbed headlines worldwide by making it illegal to hit children, early results from a national referendum suggest Kiwis are pro-smacking after all. As many as 80 per cent of New Zealanders are believed to have voted to repeal 2007 legislation that bans parents from using force to discipline their kids.

The law was an attempt to lower the country's shameful maltreatment statistics which put New Zealand in third place for child deaths among 27 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. It was brought in following the 2006 deaths of twin boys, aged three months old, who were beaten by a family member.

Just this week another child, three-year-old Cash Meshetti McKinnon, was killed in her North Island home and her 21-year-old father questioned over her death.

New Zealand is revisiting the issue with a multi-million-dollar referendum initiated by a 300,000-strong petition put together by those who felt the new law challenged the rights of parents.

But the question's wording, "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?", has been controversial, with many saying it leads people to vote against the law.

Kiwi Prime Minister John Key has called the question "pretty weird" and a case of "yes means no and no means yes". "It could have been written by Dr Seuss," the bemused leader said.

Linguists are calling it "twisted confusion" and one of the country's leading child psychologists, Nigel Latta, says it's a "total political mess". Even the orange stick figure in television advertisements to market the poll gives a very confused "umm... ah" when considering his answer.

Preliminary results from the $NZ9 million ($7.35 million) poll are due tonight but there's already strong agreement from both sides that the vote will be a majority No by as much as 80 per cent.


Parents of under-fives face 'nanny state' home inspections to keep British children safe

Parents of children under five are to get home checks to ensure they are keeping their youngsters safe. Inspectors will check whether families have installed smoke alarms, stair gates, locks on medicine cupboards, windows and ovens, and fitted temperature controls to stop bath water getting too hot.

Guidelines for inspections have been drawn up on the instructions of the Department of Health in a bid to prevent injuries among under-15s in the home.

More than two million children visit casualty departments with such injuries each year, says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which has developed the guidelines. In 2008, 208 under-15s in England and Wales died as a result.

But the scheme is being condemned by critics as a breach of privacy and a nanny state intrusion into family life.

The draft guidelines issued yesterday call for all families to have the option of home safety inspections by trained staff from the NHS or local councils. Health and safety organisations are told to identify homes where children are thought to be most at risk of accidents and ‘offer home risk assessments’.

In some cases, the offer will come after GPs or school nurses have raised the alarm because a child has been to hospital repeatedly for emergency treatment. ‘A home risk assessment involves systematically identifying potential hazards in the home, evaluating those risks and proving information or advice on how to reduce them,’ says the guidance.

Mike Kelly, Nice’s public health excellence centre director, said: ‘Our aim is not to promote a nanny state. ‘It’s a normal part of growing up for children to sometimes hurt themselves in day-to-day life, but we also need to prevent serious injuries from happening. These can have a profound effect on a young child right through to adult life, as they could be permanently disabled.’

Simon Davies of the Privacy International pressure group said he was particularly concerned over the additional powers that would go to state officials. He added: ‘This is a landmark expansion of government intervention in home life. It must be regarded with great concern.

‘If the database identifies you but you are unco-operative or you refuse to comply, the next step will be your door broken down at five in the morning. That will happen as surely as night follows day.’

Patricia Morgan, a researcher on the family, said: ‘This is a nightmarish prospect. It is a major step towards total state control. 'When state intervention creeps into your home, where does it end? Will you have to have cameras in your house?’

A spokesman for NICE said all parents could take advantage of the scheme. She added: ‘It’s optional, it’s not mandatory. Even if your GP suggests a home inspection because there have been a number of unintentional injuries, it must take place with consent.’


Sex in marriage

For many women exhausted by today’s doing-it-all pace of life, a night on the sofa with a Sex and the City box set is a more tempting option than a night of passion with their partner. But saying yes to sex (whether or not you’re in the mood) will increase your desire – and do wonders for your relationship

Sarah is always full of good intentions when it comes to having sex with Paul, her husband of 12 years. It’s just that the 42-year-old mother of two never quite seems to get round to living up to them.

‘I’m acutely aware that we haven’t made love for several weeks now and each morning I wake up thinking ‘I’m going to make an effort tonight,’ she admits. ‘Then when the evening does come round I’m so exhausted from working and looking after the children that it’s as much as I can do to sit upright and watch a BBC drama, never mind find the energy to make love.’

It’s not an unfamiliar story, of course – so much so that the weary doing-it-all modern woman for whom sex is at the bottom of the to-do list has become something of a modern cliché. Certainly the statistics back it up: numerous studies have shown that women’s desire diminishes after a few years of sharing a bed. While 60 per cent of 30-year-old women wanted sex often at the beginning of a relationship, within four years this figure had fallen to 50 per cent and after 20 years it dropped to 20 per cent. Meanwhile, the proportion of men wanting regular sex stayed constant at between 60 and 80 per cent.

For sex therapist Bettina Arndt, the question of whether or not we should be moving physical intimacy closer to the top of that to-do list is increasingly pertinent in a society of spiralling divorce rates. Last year, the highly respected psychotherapist asked 98 couples – from 20-year-old students to those who’d been married for more than 40 years – to keep intimate sex diaries in which they recorded every detail of their behaviour in the bedroom.

The diary results were both poignant and compelling. While women wrote of their dismay and resentment at being ‘pestered’ for sex, most men, she discovered, forlornly documented the fact that they were continually refused sex by their wives, feeling trapped in a sexless marriage where physical intimacy was doled out, as Arndt puts it, ‘like meaty bites to a dog’.

‘Sex isn’t just about sex but about creating a physical bond, a closeness that is crucial in our hectic world’

Moreover, far from being the subject of bawdy bar-stool banter with their friends, the situation caused most of the men great anguish and bewilderment that they had, until then, found hard to articulate. ‘Every day I received page after page of eloquent, often immensely sad diary material, as men grasped the opportunity to talk about what emerged as being a mighty emotional issue for them,’ says Arndt. After reading numerous similar accounts, Arndt became convinced that a few more wifely ‘yeses’ in the bedroom could make all the difference to marital equilibrium.

The notion of doing it anyway to ‘please’ your man smacks anachronistically of lying back and thinking of England, but for Arndt this is missing the point. To paraphrase the Nike catchphrase, ‘just doing it’, she believes, is not about performing a marital duty, but a healthy and positive attitude which will, ultimately, benefit both partners. As she puts it: ‘It’s not about lying back and thinking of England – it’s about putting the canoe in the water and paddling and seeing what happens.’

The problem, of course, is that this rather contradicts our postfeminist sensibilities. Ever since New York sex therapist Helen Kaplan announced, in 1966, that female desire should be a prerequisite for sex, women have learnt to view their own sexual momentum as vital in a loving, consensual relationship. However, sex therapists argue that this fails to take into account the reality of female biology, which means that even if our minds are blocked off to sex at the outset, our desire can actually blossom once the act is taking place – that is to say that just doing it can become its own aphrodisiac.

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


18 May, 2010

The petty dictators of Britain

A blind man of 75 has just been fined by council wardens for failing to clean up his guide dog's mess. Albert McFall, from Renfrew, Scotland, was handed a £40 fixed-penalty notice, even though he had no idea his golden labrador, Copper, had just done his business on a piece of waste ground.

How was he expected to know, let alone pick it up? He's blind, for heaven's sake.

The guide dog should have been a clue. So should Albert's registered disabled armband and the dog's fluorescent harness.

He couldn't even read the penalty notice given to him. Admittedly, dog mess is a nuisance, but this was on a large patch of waste ground, not on the pavement or in a children's playground. Albert said: 'I know rules are rules and I shouldn't be treated any differently to the next person, but this is totally unbelievable.' He said he would have accepted a warning, but the wardens were interested only in taking his name and issuing a fine.

What kind of heartless moron refuses to make allowances for an elderly blind man, even if he has technically committed a minor offence?

But 'rules is rules' is the bleat of the tinpot tyrant down the ages. Albert's experience is entirely consistent with the elf 'n'safety and proof-of-identity madness I get sent to me by readers every week.

Alice O'Brien, from Bognor Regis, emails to say she had a jar of Marmite confiscated at Gatwick on her way to a holiday in Turkey - just another small example of the way in which anti-terror measures are used to persecute the law-abiding.

In Havant, Hants, a teenager was prevented from buying a bicycle puncture repair kit on the grounds that he might be a glue-sniffer.

Even though 17-year-old Daniel Cottrell was accompanied by his father, the assistant at the 99p shop still wouldn't sell him the kit. The owner of the store said he was acting on police advice.

There is no application of intelligence, or common sense, in any of these cases.

Doesn't it occur to the shopkeeper, or the idiot Plod who issued these 'guidelines', that if Daniel really was a glue-sniffer he'd buy a big tub of glue, not a puncture repair kit?

I could fill the column with this kind of lunacy, week in, week out. We are inclined to laugh it off, when we should be burning down government buildings.

Infuriating as it is, this petty-minded punishment culture also extends to more sinister assaults on civil liberties, from trial without juries, detention without trial, to DNA databanks and the establishment of a surveillance state more extensive even than Eastern Europe under the communists.

Almost no area of our lives, no innocent everyday human activity, is immune from interference. We are the most spied upon, bullied nation in the so-called 'free' world.

A vast standing army of officials has been recruited to enforce an exciting range of fines and sentences introduced for the thousands of new 'offences' created by Labour.

Only yesterday we learned that people are being urged to snoop on their neighbours and report any ' environmental crimes' they observe.

Hull City Council is asking householders to fill in 'diary sheets' recording the times and dates fellow residents put out their rubbish.

This will mean that anyone caught putting their bin out before 7am and leaving it on the street after 7pm on the appointed day of collection could be fined a maximum £1,000.

We've already had people getting criminal records for the heinous crime of leaving their dustbin lid open by a couple of inches, or putting the 'wrong' kind of rubbish in their recycling container.

Elsewhere, anti-terrorist legislation has been used to trap parents suspected of manipulating school catchment areas to try to secure a decent education for their children.

If you give anyone in authority any power whatsoever, especially if it comes with a uniform or a hi-viz jacket, they will always, always abuse it.

So while the new Government gets to grips with tackling the economic wasteland inherited from Gordon Brown, there is another equally pressing task.

Labour's police state, the entire apparatus of the punishment culture which has been imposed ruthlessly over the past 13 years, must be dismantled.

The coalition is committed to scrapping Labour's ID cards scheme. But that is only a start. The new Government should go much, much further.

David Davis, the former shadow Home secretary, resigned his seat in the last Parliament and forced a byelection to protest against Labour's attempts to establish a totalitarian state.

He has paid a great political price for his stand on principle. It soured his relationship with his party leader and cost him the Home Office, now occupied by Theresa May, the Conservative member for Russell & Bromley.

But if Cameron can manage to form a coalition with the duplicitous Liberal Democrats, and bring political opponents such as Frank Field and Will Hutton on board, he can surely find it in his heart to bury the hatchet with Davis.

Why not set up a grand committee under Davis charged with dismantling Labour's illiberal police state?

I can't see Nick Clegg objecting to anything dedicated to restoring civil liberties.

Picking apart Labour's punishment culture will be even more difficult than restoring an economy reduced to a toxic wasteland by Gordon Brown's deliberate, reckless profligacy.

But no one wants to live in a country where neighbours are encouraged to spy on each other by the Town Hall stasi and a 75-year-old blind man is persecuted for failing to notice that his guide dog has done a whoopsie.


British police forces have more bureaucrats than police officers

Two police forces have fewer sworn officers than other staff and the trend is gathering pace, the Police Federation says today. Northamptonshire Constabulary has 1,319 staff and 1,301 officers, while in Surrey there are 1,938 staff and 1,824 officers.

The federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, says the use of such staff, who cannot arrest or be moved to other roles in an emergency, puts the public in danger.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, called on the Government for an independent review of policing and said the public should be asked what they want from the service. “At a time of financial restraint across the public sector, a rise in police staff numbers is absolute nonsense when the public want more police officers on the beat,” he said.

“Instead we have increasing numbers of unaccountable, unidentifiable police staff who do not have the flexibility or resilience to give what is needed as an emergency service.”

Researchers examined the number of officers compared to other staff from 2000 to 2009 at all 43 forces in England and Wales. They found the average ratio in 2000 was 2.3 to 1, but by 2009 it had shrunk to 1.4 to one.

Many chief constables have removed police officers from a range of jobs which, they say, can be done by others. The most prominent such staff are police community support officers but police officers are also being removed from custody suites and other behind-the-scenes roles.

Mark Rowley, Chief Constable of Surrey, said: “We see the police constable as the professional expert around which successful policing teams are built and we have increased the use of support staff ensuring police officers make the most use of their high levels of skill, experience and powers. We have achieved more for less with this approach.”

Peter Fahy, Greater Manchester’s Chief Constable, said many forces invested in support staff to take the “administrative burden” away from officers.

He added: “The resilience of policing comes from the teamwork of police officers and a host of other roles. The public is now better protected and we have seen significant reductions in crime. Police officers are better trained and better prepared to deal with unexpected and unplanned events.”


The population implosion

Comment from Miranda Devine in Australia

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Pill this week, 1960s sex symbol Raquel Welch blamed the oral contraceptive for the breakdown of marriage, decline in moral standards and rise of promiscuity.

"One significant, and enduring, effect of the pill on female sexual attitudes during the '60s, was: 'Now we can have sex any time we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let's party!' " she wrote in an article for CNN.

The 69-year-old actress said that she felt it was her duty to "speak up" and wave the "red flag of caution" because she used to be a sex symbol.

But what she didn't mention was the impact on birth rates and the associated demographic disaster the world is hurtling towards.

As the tattered sexual revolution spawned by the pill hits middle age we can see the consequences of unmooring sex from the possibility of children, and the rejection of the age-old imperative to be "fruitful and multiply".

The result is a so-called contraceptive culture, societies which regard children and childbearing as a nuisance, a burden and an expense, rather than a blessing. We seem trapped in the mindset of past doomsayers, from Thomas Malthus to Paul Ehrlich who claimed in his 1968 book The Population Bomb that the greatest catastrophe facing mankind is too many people. Today, the pervasive misanthropism of the modern green movement holds that every new human is a burden to the planet, just another carbon footprint to be resented.

There is even a green charity in the UK, PopOffsets, which has people offset their carbon footprint by funding projects to reduce the number of babies in places like Madagascar.

But, as the US conservative writer Don Feder told a group of young men from the University of NSW's Warrane college on Wednesday night, the precipitous decline of birth rates by more than 50 per cent worldwide since 1979 signals a looming "Demographic Winter".

Whereas in 1979 the average woman on the planet had six children, today she has 2.8, and declining, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects publication of 2006.

There are 6 million fewer children aged under six today than in 1990. "It could be the greatest crisis to confront humanity in this century," says Feder, my former Boston Herald colleague.

The Demographic Winter will spark "wars and international conflict on a massive scale". Nations without enough young people to man armies will fall prey "to those who have a cause to advance".

In much of the developed world, birth rates today have sunk to below replacement levels of 2.13 children per woman.

Contrary to popular opinion, these trends of the past 30 years are being mirrored in the developing world, in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

"Barren wombs and empty cradles" are a phenomenon of both the Christian and Muslim worlds. Even Iran has retreated from its baby boom of the 1980s, with the fertility rate of 6.5 collapsing to 1.7. The same trend can be seen in the once fruitful United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon. The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, has a birth rate just above replacement, at 2.31, according to the 2009 CIA World Factbook.

The birth rate for Muslim immigrants in Europe may be higher than the countries they come from, leading to the widely predicted Islamification of the continent in the next 50 years. But it is nonetheless declining.

Despite recent small gains, Australia's birth rate of 1.78 is still below replacement, below China's 1.79. Britain is worse at 1.66, Canada at 1.58, while the US is at 2.05. Germany and Russia are at 1.41, above Italy and Spain at 1.31. Catholic Poland is languishing at 1.28.

Japan, at 1.21, has lost 24 per cent of its people in 20 years. By 2050 there will be two senior citizens for every child.

The highest birth rate is in sub-Saharan Africa with Niger at 7.75, Uganda at 6.77.

In the Anglosphere, New Zealand has the highest birth rate, at 2.10, and a tradition of cherishing babies in hundreds of tiny ways - from restaurants with high chairs to nosy questions of newlyweds to official street signs pointing to baby health clinics. By contrast, in Australia, children are regarded as nuisances, with complaints about monster prams and bitter competition for space in Sydney parks. Attitudes may make a difference.

Feder attributes the Demographic Winter, at least in the West, to the "me generation" selfishness of the '60s sexual revolution, and 43 billion abortions worldwide each year.

"Today for the first time in history just under half of the world's population uses some form of contraception … We don't ask if sex has an emotional or moral component, or if it serves a higher purpose, only if it's safe."

Unlike Malthusian environmentalists, he insists "people are the ultimate resource". The population explosion of the past 200 years - from 980 million to 6.7 billion - fuelled "every human advance from the Industrial Revolution to the computer age [and the] phenomenal growth of productivity, prosperity, scientific advance, health and general human well-being."

Today's children are the "workers, employers, producers, innovators, caregivers and taxpayers of tomorrow".

As fewer babies are born and people live longer, we face the perfect demographic storm, with the greying of the population stressing welfare and health systems, which are funded by less tax from a shrinking workforce.

It's a warning for Australia. If the shadow cabinet this week did put the kybosh on Tony Abbott's suggestion of a $10,000 baby bonus for stay-at-home mothers, it was a shortsighted victory for fiscal rectitude.

Abbott's proposal for a parental leave scheme guaranteeing working women wages so they can spend time with their newborns was similarly scorned earlier this year. But as we saw with the baby boomlet associated with the 2004 baby bonus, governments can influence family choice. Abbott seems to be rare among his colleagues as a politician who understands the dangers of the Demographic Winter.


An Obvious but Muzzled Truth: Islamist Terrorism

If you want to watch someone squirm, take a look at the two-minute videotape of Attorney General Eric Holder dodging Republican Rep. Lamar Smith's question of whether "radical Islam" motivated the Times Square bomber.

Holder, who last year called America "a nation of cowards" for refusing to talk frankly about race, plainly didn't want to say what is plain to everyone else, that Faisal Shahzad, back from five months in Waziristan, launched his terror attack because of his Islamist beliefs.

Holder is not the only one who wants to shield us from this obvious truth. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, questioned about the bomber's motives, said he might have been acting out of opposition to the health care bill. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein said he might have become unhinged by the foreclosure of his Connecticut home.

Similar dignitaries have advanced similar theories. The Christmas underwear bomber, Barack Obama initially said, was an otherwise unspecified "isolated extremist." Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan, we were told by journalists, may have been a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder -- although he never saw combat. Back in the George W. Bush years, we were told that the gunman who started shooting at the El Al counter at LAX had just chosen his target at random, and The New York Times found nothing significant when the Mumbai killers targeted a Jewish community center.

Why the reluctance to state the obvious truth, that we are under attack from terrorists motivated by a radical form of Islam?

My theory is that these well-intentioned folk see the American people as a Howling Mob. They think that if Americans find out that Islamists are attacking us, they will go out and slaughter innocent Muslims. They think that Americans are incapable of understanding the simple truth that while most terrorists are Islamists, the large majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

Of course, the evidence is that Americans are quite capable of holding these two ideas in their heads. Even after Sept. 11, there were only a miniscule number of attacks on Muslims, and many more Americans went over to their Muslim neighbors and offered to help if they had any trouble. They didn't even need to hear the almost instant assurances from Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush that all Muslims were not terrorists to bake a cake and bring it over.

The Howling Mob theory explains a lot of otherwise puzzling things. It helps to explain why Janet Napolitano's Homeland Security Department, tasked with finding possible terrorists, set about tracking disgruntled military veterans and gun owners. Just the kind of people who turn into a Howling Mob!

It helps to explain journalists' desperate search for racist epithets at Tea Party gatherings -- and their lack of interest in the actual violence that has been common at rallies against the Arizona immigration law and antiwar marches. It helps to explain the Justice Department's decision to drop the case against the New Black Panthers who were violently intimidating voters in Philadelphia on Election Day.

It helps to explain why Solicitor General Elena Kagan was willing to work in the Clinton White House after Bill Clinton signed the law banning open gays in the military -- a law Kagan has said she detests. Hey, he was just trying to propitiate the Howling Mob.

It should go without saying that it's ridiculous to believe, as many liberals do, that just about everyone west of Manhattan and east of Hollywood likes to go around wearing white sheets. On a novel issue like gays in the military, many Americans have been moving away from Clinton's 1990s position and toward Kagan's, even while they move away from her views on other issues like abortion.

As it became obvious that the Democrats' health care bills and the Obama big government programs were opposed by most Americans, some liberals resorted to a variant of the Howling Mob theory: Americans were against these programs because they didn't like having a black president. This, despite the fact that Obama was elected by the largest percentage margin in the last 20 years.

When you see a smart man like Eric Holder saying stupid things, you know something else is going on. You're seeing a high official who regards most of us as cowards, who believes the truth could make us a Howling Mob. Does Barack Obama feel the same way?



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 or 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.


17 May, 2010

The dangers of ideology

Even a libertarian ideology can close minds to reality. A quintessentially conservative article by a libertarian below

I’ve been re-reading Temple Grandin’s wonderful book, Animals in Translation, and it has some important things to say about ideology and abstraction. For those of you who don’t know Grandin, she is the top designer of animal handling facilities in the world, a PhD with over one hundred published papers in both biology and psychology, and autistic. She attributes her success to being ‘detail-oriented’, and claims that most people cannot see the problems she sees because they are too ‘abstractified.’

Interestingly, she, much as the British Idealists did, relates abstraction to ideology, and complains that, rather than plainly seeing the situation with which they are asked to deal, many of the people she encounters substitute an abstract, ideological view of the situation, thereby falsifying reality, often with bad results.

She offers an example of a woman who owned a fair number of dogs. Some of the ‘pack’ she had created were naturally more dominant, and others more submissive. She was repeatedly advised that she had to accept this as a fact, since that is the way dogs are, and, for instance, always greet the more dominant dogs first when she came home. But, her mind captured by an ideology of equality, she refused to listen, with the outcome that the dominant dogs would attack the submissive ones for improperly taking ‘first dibs’ with the master, so that finally three of the dogs had to be put down.

Grandin discusses the constraints of biology upon animal nature at some length; in particular, she devotes many pages to how a simplified, abstract understanding of genetics can bring about radically undesirable results when applied. For example, the single-trait breeding of chickens, first for quick growth, then for lots of breast meat, and finally for the vitality not to collapse after growing so much meat so quickly, led to rapist/murderer roosters – the various traits being bred for did not exist in the simple isolation of an abstract genetic model, but interacted with the rest of chicken biology in unpredictable ways, so that the roosters produced by the three successive breeding efforts had often forgotten how to do the proper mating dance to seduce a hen, and wound up raping and killing the females when they wanted to mate.

How does this relate to ideology? Well, I have encountered people who contend that monogamy is ‘irrational,’ sexual possessiveness immoral, and that we ought to consciously work to eliminate these elements from human life. But Grandin notes that sexual possessiveness, across many species, seems to be strongly connected to taking great care for one’s offspring. The ideological conviction that such possessiveness is irrational ignores this basic biological fact; if this ideology ever holds full sway, the result after enough generations pass will be humans quite unlike ourselves, who have little interest in raising their children.

Whether the human race would survive that change I have no idea, but it certainly is not what the ideologues intend; instead, they are seeing these traits in abstraction, like elements in a model, where they can pluck out any element that offends them without otherwise affecting the whole.

The grip of ideology is usually broken only by the force of reality shattering it. I recall, in particular, two experiences that had that sort of impact on me. One, suggested by John Goes in a previous thread, came about during my second stay in Switzerland. During my first trip I had fallen in love with the country, and had to go back. Spending more time there on trip two, I thought I was in the most naturally orderly and civic-minded place I had ever been – and, I realized, if the Swiss ever adopted the open border policy I had advocated until then, that place would be gone in a decade.

Now, when I recently expressed some reservations about unrestricted immigration on a libertarian blog, I was immediately accused of being a ‘xenophobe.’ To anyone who knows I spent ten years playing in a reggae band, often finding myself to be the only native-born American in the club I was in, and who knows I am married to an immigrant, and so on, that accusation might seem unlikely. But consider the context that led me to change my mind – I was in a foreign country, enchanted by these foreigners culture, and was worried that too many people like me moving there might ruin things. That is a funny sort of xenophobia.

But to preserve an ideological view, such name-calling is necessary, to prevent reality from intruding. I imagine the woman mentioned above with the dog pack thought of those pointing out that she was acting recklessly as ‘dog elitists,’ who were in favor of ‘oppression’ of the timid dogs by the more aggressive ones.

My second major breaking in of reality had to do with public school teachers. After my kids begged me to let them attend our local public school, I found that ideology had created in my mind a bogeyman public employee and that, try as I might, I couldn’t force the real public employees I was dealing with to conform to this taxpayer-sucking parasite monster. The actual teachers and administrators I dealt with were dedicated to their jobs and were focused on helping kids, not on draining the public coffers to feather their own nests.

Now, a non-ideological approach to issues like the above need not be blind to existing problems or deaf to every case for reform. The public schools in the US certainly do have many problems, and it would be good to fix them. Immigration restrictions are not a panacea, and bring with them serious civil liberty and humanitarian concerns.

But to adopt a simplistic stance towards those situations based upon ‘principles’ that are in reality little more than slogans – “immigration control is xenophobic” or “the public schools are evil monopolies that brainwash our children” – is unlikely to produce improvement. Instead, the discussion of the problems is degraded, and the targets of the slogans usually wind up getting their backs up, closing their minds to even reasonable reforms.

Finally, let me assert once more that I don’t mean to be picking on libertarians here – some of my best friends are libertarians. But that happens to be the ideology to which I was committed, and, so, it is the easiest one for me to mine for examples. Indeed, everything I write here should be understood primarily as self-criticism, and only secondarily as directed at anyone else.


Blind ideology is dancing on the grave of reason

IN Britain, the benefits of diversity are apparently boundless. Now that the Pagan Police Association has received government recognition, police officers can take a string of pagan festivals as official holidays.

These include celebrating the festival of lactating sheep, and drinking mead and dancing naked to celebrate the harvest. In court, pagan officers will be allowed to pledge to tell the truth not before God but by what "they hold sacred", including, presumably, the Sun God or Kriss Kringle, the Germanic god of yule.

In Australia, as historian Keith Windschuttle has chronicled in his new book The Stolen Generations - volume three of his tireless evisceration of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History - the allegedly monstrous theft of 100,000 Aboriginal children by Australian officials just because they were Aboriginal never actually happened.

In the US, when a car bomb was planted recently in New York's Times Square by a man later revealed to be a Muslim trained in bomb-making in Pakistan's Waziristan region, there was an initial stampede to declare the attempted atrocity was unconnected to Islamic terrorism.

It was said to be most likely the work of a Tea Party member, right-wing militiaman or lone nut. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg even suggested the bomb could have been placed by "somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the healthcare bill or something".

What has Britain come to when its police officers are given leave to dance about naked? How can generations of Australians have been taught the egregious falsehood of the Stolen Generations as fact? And how many times have Tea Party members or people opposed to a piece of legislation tried to commit mass murder against their fellow Americans, compared with the number of recent attempts by Muslim terrorists?

Such intellectual perversity can be understood only in the context of a far wider and profound retreat from reason throughout the West.

Across a broad range of issues, the progressive intelligentsia appears to have junked the rules of evidence, objectivity and rationality in favour of fantasy, irrationality and upside-down thinking.

Take man-made global warming, for example.

The belief that the planet is on course for carbon Armageddon is now embedded in Western politics. Yet the evidence that the climate is warming to an unprecedented and catastrophic degree just isn't there. The seas are not rising, the ice is not shrinking, the polar bears are not vanishing, and there has been no significant climate warming since 1995.

Or take the Middle East. Israel is the victim of six decades of exterminatory aggression from the Arab and Muslim world. Yet it is Israel that is expected to make concessions to its attackers, who are said by the West to deserve a state of their own. Meanwhile, the US extends its hand of friendship to Iran, which is building a nuclear bomb to commit another Jewish genocide.

Closer to home, "minority rights" mean activities previously marginalised or considered transgressive are now privileged through "family lifestyle choice" or multiculturalism.

Dissenters from these creeds are socially and professionally ostracised. Academics are hounded as racists for upholding the true historic origins of Western civilisation. Scientists sceptical of man-made global warming find funding is withheld. And those sounding the alarm about the true scope of the Islamic jihad are demonised as warmongering neo-cons or part of a Jewish conspiracy.

Such irrationality, intolerance and, indeed, bigotry run counter to the cardinal tenets of a free society based on reason and the toleration of dissent.

This is because these dominant ideas are all rooted in ideologies: environmentalism, anti-racism, anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism, egalitarianism or scientism, the belief that scientific materialism alone explains everything.

Rather than going where the evidence leads, ideology wrenches the evidence to fit a prior idea. Not only is ideology inimical to reason, it sacrifices truth to power as it attacks those who try to uphold reality in the face of dogma.

This is because the progressive mindset believes it is synonymous with virtue itself. All opposition is therefore not just wrong but evil. Since progressives also believe anyone who opposes them is a right-winger, it follows that all dissent is right-wing and evil, and so must be shut down.

In other words, these are not propositions to be debated in a rational way but are seen as self-evident truths with the infallibility of religious dogma.

They also smack of the political totalitarianism of communism and fascism, as well as resembling, ironically, the fanatical doctrines of militant Islam. Curiously, they also display religious motifs of sin, guilt and salvation. Odder still, they all exhibit features of millenarianism: the religious belief in the perfectibility of life through the collective redemption of sin. Contemporary secular ideologies identify the sins committed by humanity - oppression of the people of developing nations, despoliation of nature, bigotry, poverty, war - and offer salvation by a return to righteousness.

Thus the greens believe they will save the planet. The leftists believe they will create the brotherhood of man. The anti-Zionists believe they will turn suicide bomb-belts into cucumber frames. The atheists believe they will create the Garden of Reason. And the Islamists believe they will create the kingdom of God on earth.

Dissenters are dismissed because they deny the unchallengeable truths of anti-imperialism, environmentalism and scientific materialism. The explanation for the frustration of Utopia must therefore lie in conspiracies by the neo-cons or the Jews, Big Oil or the creationists.

The result is not merely that the West has become irrational. By turning truth and lies, victim and aggressor, justice and injustice upside down, it cannot even recognise, let alone deal with, the threats being mounted to its own values and civilisation.

With ideology eroding the principles of rationality and freedom, truth and justice on which it rests, the West is failing to understand what it is that it cannot understand, and so cannot grasp the mortal danger in which it stands.


Political correctness runs deep in Britain

Footballer has to apologize for voting for a perfectly legal political party. That you are free to vote for whom you choose is basic to democracy -- but not in Britain, apparently

Leicester defender Wayne Brown has been forced into making a grovelling apology - after voting BNP at the General Election. Brown was suspended by the Foxes for their play-off games with Cardiff following a stormy row with team-mate Lloyd Dyer and coach Chris Powell.

The 32-year-old revealed he had voted for BNP last week and was involved in a heated clash with Dyer after training. And former England international Powell also confronted Brown before team-mates pulled them apart.

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson took swift action by suspending the centre-half for the two legs against the Bluebirds. And Brown was hauled in for a meeting after Wednesday’s agonising defeat and told to apologise to the squad.

But the former Hull and Colchester star is still facing an uncertain future at the Walkers Stadium, with one year left on his contract.

A Leicester source said: "There was a discussion and Wayne let slip his political views. "Obviously one or two people were offended by that and in the best interests of everybody concerned he’s been asked to apologise for any offence he may have caused."


Hooray for the Prince!

He's the people's Prince on this one. Papers uncovered in court reveal the Prince of Wales’s dogged campaign against a modernist complex, writes Chris Gourlay

THE discreet lobbying campaign waged by the Prince of Wales to kill off plans for a £3 billion modernist apartment complex in Chelsea, west London, has been exposed to public view for the first time.

A series of emails, minutes and letters disclosed in High Court documents give a fly-on-the-wall account of Prince Charles’s repeated deployment of his aides to persuade the Emir of Qatar and planners to ditch Lord Rogers’s glass-and-metal design in favour of a more traditional alternative.

The prince is well known for lobbying ministers and officials in his handwritten “black spider” memos. The workings of his lobbying machine are usually hidden from public view by the Freedom of Information Act, which exempts royal papers from release for up to 20 years.

These documents show Charles is prepared to go far beyond just making his views known to those in authority.

The papers have emerged in a lawsuit that resulted from the collapse of the project on the former Chelsea Barracks site. Last month the judge in the case ordered Clarence House to disclose all relevant private documents.

Nick and Christian Candy, the interior designers and property developers, are suing the rulers of Qatar, who commissioned the scheme, for £81m, which they say they lost through breach of contract.

Rogers and the Candys had designed a mix of luxury flats and more affordable housing for the 12.8-acre site opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.

The uncompromisingly modernist plans infuriated many residents, however. George Ferguson, former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, supported Charles, saying: “Hurt feelings mend, but bad buildings never go away.”

Westminster council was on the verge of granting approval when Charles intervened. It had previously been thought he wrote to the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and the two sealed their agreement over tea after a meeting between Charles’s officials and the council.

The Candys’ particulars of claim show this was only a small part of the campaign.

Charles wrote to the emir in March last year, urging him to “reconsider” the “brutalist” designs. This was followed by a phone call from Sir Michael Peat, his private secretary, who told the Qataris the prince would press for them to adopt a design by Quinlan Terry, the neoclassical architect.

Charles was not alone in his views. An email from Boris Johnson, the London mayor, to Kit Malthouse, one of his deputies, shows Johnson also disliked the scheme, but added that he did not wish to endorse the design favoured by Charles.

At the time, both Johnson’s City Hall and Westminster council supported the application and Qatari Diar, the investment group behind the purchase, had no intention of changing it. Only after a further flurry of phone calls and emails from Charles’s aides and two meetings with them did the Qataris buckle.

The lobbying efforts culminated in Charles criticising the design in person to the emir over tea at Clarence House.Peat’s note of the meeting says the emir seemed “surprised” by the design and “said he would have them changed”.

Qatari Diar swiftly fell into line. Three days later a strategy to replace the scheme was approved and, from then on, Charles’s staff were brought into the emir’s circle.

On May 27, Manon Williams, the prince’s deputy private secretary and Hank Dittmar, his architectural adviser, met the Qataris to offer help.

Peat reported: “They have agreed to use PFBE [the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment] to advise on masterplanning and architects.”

Unaware of the secret talks, planners were close to finishing their approval process. Westminster published a report on June 11 describing the Rogers scheme as of “exceptionally high quality”. Approval was due the following week.

On the same day, however, Qatari Diar buried Rogers’s scheme. Representatives of the company and the prince together sought assurances from Robert Davis, Westminster’s head of planning, and Sir Simon Milton, the mayor’s planning chief, that they would “look favourably” on a new application.

The following morning, Jeremy Titchen, Qatari Diar’s managing director, emailed Dittmar: “When you wake you will find we have withdrawn.”

Charles’s intervention is likely to be seized on by opponents as evidence that he acted unconstitutionally.



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 or 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.


16 May, 2010

Like many Conservatives before him, the new British Prime Minister sees the need for reform -- but cautious reform

Consternation has ever been a reliable constituent of comedy. Take, for example, the detonations of disbelief across the left-wing commentariat as they saw Nick Clegg lead the Liberal Democrats into a coalition configured to offer David Cameron a five-year secure tenancy of No 10. It was better than slapstick. Nice Nick was supposed to do as he was told by his backers in the media and form a “progressive alliance” with defeated Labour to keep the wicked Tories out. And what happens? He gives Cameron the solid parliamentary majority the Conservatives could not achieve on their own.

At the start of the week, Polly Toynbee, in an article entitled “Lib-Lab — the only legitimate coalition”, declared: “This is the moment of truth when finally and irreversibly the Liberal Democrats have to define themselves, something they have for so long avoided. Whose side are they really on?” The answer, of course, was: their own. As a result of Nick Clegg’s deal (demonstrating the skills acquired while negotiating with China during his time as a Brussels Eurocrat) not far short of half his MPs get ministerial posts.

The other comical aspect of this denouement is the apparently genuine belief of the advocates of a Lib-Lab coalition that somehow Clegg and his colleagues were guilty of a great betrayal. Yet over the past few years not just Clegg, but also Chris Huhne, David Laws and even Vince Cable — all now in the cabinet — had repeatedly fulminated against new Labour’s quangocracy, its gross abuses of personal liberty, its bloated bureaucratisation and every other aspect of what David Marquand termed “the heavy-handed, statist, democratic collectivism that has been second nature to Labour governments since the 1920s”.

Marquand, one of the founding members of the SDP, who gave his support to new Labour and later bitterly regretted it, made that observation in an article for The Guardian two years ago which now appears visionary. In it, he warned the left that they “had rediscovered one of the oldest tropes in the rhetorical armoury of self-styled progressives” by asserting that David Cameron was a man who “may talk the talk of harmony and cohesion but won’t — can’t — walk the walk”. Marquand presciently identified Cameron as a politician in the “Whig-imperialist tradition [that] reigned for most of the 19th century and virtually the entire interwar period ... it shaped the three great reform acts that slowly widened the suffrage.”

Benjamin Disraeli had his own celebrated formulation of this political phenomenon: a sound Conservative government was “Tory men and Whig measures”.

The idea that it is possible both to be a Tory and a reformer has always been hard for the left to grasp. [It undercuts one of their chief defence-mechanisms] Thus Mark Steel in The Independent wrote of David Cameron’s attempt to portray the Conservatives as enlightened: “The Conservative party has had many images, but retains an unchanging purpose, which is to represent the minority of wealthy people who control society. That’s why they opposed the abolition of slavery [and] the Factory Acts.” The fact that William Wilberforce was a Tory, as was the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (the driving force behind the Factory Acts of the mid 18th century) seems not to have swayed the author from his Manichean outlook: only the left can be good, therefore all Tories are evil.

This is why Marquand’s phrase about “self-styled progressives” is so telling. It pinpoints the deep intellectual conceit of those on the left who imagine not just that they are the only people who can be described as “progressive”, but that anyone from a different political tradition has purely cynical motivations, even — or perhaps especially — as a reformer. In the context of the new government, they therefore find it impossible to take at face value Michael Gove’s claims to want to improve the education of the poorest, or Iain Duncan Smith’s desire to rescue an entire generation from the pit of welfare dependency.

It is, of course, the fact that both these Conservatives see private enterprise and the re-establishment of individual initiative and responsibility as the essential components in any solution of these most difficult of social problems which makes them so unacceptable to the self-styled progressives.

Perhaps it is that implacable sense that there is no political moral worth outside the left which led so many of its commentators seriously to suggest that even after Labour’s debacle in the general election, the “only legitimate coalition” was one led by them. To be fair to the Labour party itself, most of its MPs could see the implausibility of any such government, which could not even muster a parliamentary majority. They actually encountered the mood of the nation on the doorsteps, and in any case had the wary respect for public opinion which tends to distinguish the politicians from their speechwriters.

It was one of Tony Blair’s speechwriters, Peter Hyman, who demonstrated this attitude of mind most clearly last week. On the day that it seemed faintly possible that a deal could be done between the Lib Dems and the political husk that remains of new Labour, Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight invited Hyman to give the Liberal Democrats one reason why they should form an alliance with Labour. “To put the Tories out of power for a generation,” was the instant response of Blair’s ex-adviser.

There you have it. It was nothing to do with any policies; nothing to do with any principles: just a way to manipulate the political system to establish a permanent government of the centre-left — presumably (or so we were told) by passing a law to abolish first-past-the-post constituency elections without even consulting the public. Thank you and good night.

It could have been worse. At least the die-hard columnar supporters of new Labour did not echo the words of the secretary of the East German Writers Union, who, in the wake of the 1953 workers’ uprising against the Communist government, distributed leaflets stating that the people had “thrown away the confidence of the government and could win it back only by redoubled efforts” — prompting Bertolt Brecht to observe: “Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”

The supporters of the doomed Lib-Lab pact insist, by contrast, that there is a “natural” anti-Conservative majority in the country, and that therefore it is “democratic” to have only governments which permanently exclude the Tories (backed by a completely irrelevant 10,683,787 people) from power. On their analysis it would have been more “democratic” to have had a Lib-Lab coalition than the one now in office, even though it had garnered 2m fewer votes. This, apparently, would have been much more “progressive”.

Like all elements of political jargon, the word “progressive” has, in any case, been steadily stripped of meaning. Is it “progressive” to subsidise the biggest landowners in the country for providing a now compulsory form of energy — wind — whose intermittence and inefficiency will only increase fuel poverty among the multitudes? According to the current environmentalist fashion, embraced with a peculiar mixture of sanctimony and credulity by the leaders of the new governing coalition, yes, that is indeed highly progressive. Fortunately for them, whichever particular Milliband becomes leader of the Labour party, they can expect absolutely no criticism from Her Majesty’s Remaining Opposition on that account; and thus it is that the only voices in parliament willing to point out the inequity of such arrangements are to be found on the excluded Tory right.

So the inauguration of this novel political dispensation has not merely provided us with richly comic moments: there is paradox and irony in the mix, too. It will be fascinating to see how the new government copes with the consequences.


Frank Field defects to Conservative-led coalition to be Britain's 'Poverty Tsar'

Field has long been a friend and admirer of Lady Thatcher. He is undoubtedly an exceptionally sincere man

Former Labour Minister Frank Field is to ‘defect’ to David Cameron’s new coalition Government by taking on the role of Britain’s ‘Poverty Tsar’, it was revealed last night.

Social conservative Mr Field is to lead a major review into poverty as part of Mr Cameron’s promise to tackle what he calls ‘Broken Britain’ – social breakdown, rising crime and the benefits dependency culture.

The move is a major boost in Mr Cameron’s attempt to show that his new Liberal-Conservative coalition can command the support of elements of the Labour Party.

In another clear sign of the coalition’s political leanings, leading Left-wing political pundit Will Hutton is to be Mr Cameron’s ‘Fair Pay Tsar’, tasked with slashing the pay of public-sector fat cats.

His job will include advising on new rules to ban local authority and quango chiefs from being paid more than 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employee in their organisation. Mr Hutton writes for The Observer, traditionally a fierce critic of the Tories.

The recruitment of Mr Field and Mr Hutton is the latest stage of what some are calling Mr Cameron’s ‘Operation Hoover’ to entice prominent non-Conservatives to work for his Government.

Tory chiefs have been in secret talks with Mr Field for months to try to persuade him to work for Mr Cameron. He was made Welfare Minister by Tony Blair in 1997 with instructions to cut benefits but quit after a year following a series of bitter disputes with Gordon Brown, who claimed Mr Field’s proposals would punish the poor.

Birkenhead MP Mr Field, who is expected to remain in the Labour Party, will report to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has expressed admiration for Mr Field’s work.

Mr Field is expected to issue a report setting out how Labour’s welfare policies failed to help the poor and to produce guidelines to help the Conservatives to target help to the less well-off more effectively.

A key part of his work will be finding ways to break the ‘dependency culture’ whereby, say some experts, state benefits can undermine the incentive to work and add to social ills.

Mr Cameron wooed Mr Field in public in January when they attended a Tory election event together.

Mr Field ruled out defecting to the Conservatives but said Labour’s policies had failed to end poverty. Mr Cameron praised Mr Field for accepting that children need strong families to instil responsibility.

‘For a long time Frank has been willing to say the unsayable,’ said Mr Cameron. ‘He has argued that the welfare state should be more than a money-redistribution system but rather “openly reward good behaviour and ...be used to enhance those roles which the country values”.

‘He has drawn the link between family breakdown and more instability, more crime, greater pressure on housing and social benefits, arguing that a fundamental principle of the welfare state should be to support families and children. 'When he first started talking about these things, no one quite realised how important they are. Now we do.’

‘Fair Pay Tsar’ Mr Hutton is an ardent pro-European known for his social democrat views.

Mr Cameron’s pledge earlier this year that no public sector boss should earn more than 20 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker was coupled with a promise of a review ‘to investigate pay inequality in the public sector’.

It is estimated that up to 200 chief executives and quango bosses could see their pay cut as a result. Big losers will include Ed Richards, boss of communications watchdog Ofcom, whose £392,056 pay is 22 times the £18,000 salary of his lowest-paid staff. But Bank of England Governor Mervyn King will escape – just. At £296,818, his pay is 19 times higher than the lowest-paid employee at the bank’s headquarters in Threadneedle Street, in the City.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has questioned whether the salary cap would work, saying only ‘a handful’ of public sector chiefs would be affected and accusing Mr Cameron of failing to provide ‘anything like an adequate response to excessive pay at the top of the public sector’.

However, shortly after Mr Cameron’s call, West Yorkshire’s Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison, who earns £213,000 a year in pay and pension perks, admitted he was not worth it.

He said bumper pay awards were ‘untenable’ and added that many employed by the state were following a vocation and would happily do the job for less pay.


Charges dropped against British Christian who preached ‘homosexuality is a sin’

The street preacher charged with public-order offences for saying homosexuality is a sin has had his case dropped after his plight was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday.

Dale Mcalpine was arrested by police who claimed his comments to passers-by had caused offence. But the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to pursue the charges as there is insufficient evidence.

Mr Macalpine, 42, said: ‘This is a victory for freedom of speech. I hope we are not going down the road towards a police state and the thought police. I can’t wait to get out on to the streets again and preach the word of God.”

He is now taking legal advice over suing the police for wrongful arrest.

Mr Mcalpine, who earns about £40,000 a year in the energy industry, had been handing out leaflets and talking to passers-by about his Christian beliefs in the centre of Workington, Cumbria, last month.

In conversation with one woman, he listed a number of sins from the Bible, including adultery, drunkenness and homosexuality.

He was then approached by Police Community Support Officer Sam Adams, who said he was gay and a liaison officer with the local homosexual community – and who warned him he could be arrested for making homophobic remarks.

Mr Mcalpine denied he was homophobic but said that as a Christian he did believe homosexuality was a sin. Three uniformed officers then arrested him.

After seven hours in a cell, which he spent reading the Bible and singing hymns, Mr Mcalpine was charged by a Senior Crown Prosecutor with offences under the Public Order Act 1986.

At a magistrates’ court late last month his trial date was set for September, but this newspaper’s coverage of his treatment provoked a public outcry.

Supporters of free speech, including gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, called on the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, to curb politically correct authorities. He said: ‘The Public Order Act is meant to protect people from harm. I urge the Home Secretary to issue new guidelines, making it clear the police should not arrest people for expressing bigoted views in a non-threatening and non-aggressive manner.’

Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, which has been backing Mr Mcalpine, said: ‘Cumbria police can’t just walk away from this as if nothing happened. ‘There is clearly a problem in the system that needs putting right.’

Chief Supt Steve Johnson, Police Commander for West Cumbria, said: ‘We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.’ [How?]


The U.S. Supreme court is too often a far-Left and unaccountable legislature

By Ann Coulter

Americans can thank the Supreme Court for the attempted car bombing of Times Square, as well as any future terrorist attacks that might be less "amateurish" and which our commander in chief will be unable to thwart unless the bomb fizzles.

Over blistering dissents by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, five Supreme Court justices have repeatedly voted to treat jihadists like turnstile jumpers. (Thanks, Justice Kennedy!)

That's worked so well that Obama's own attorney general is now talking about making massive exceptions to the Miranda warnings -- exceptions that will apply to all criminal suspects, by the way -- in order to deal with terrorists having to be read their rights as a bomb is about to go off.

Let's be clear: When Eric Holder thinks we're being too easy on terrorists, we are being too easy on terrorists.

Either the five liberal justices demanding constitutional rights for terrorists are out of their minds, or the religious worship of President Franklin D. Roosevelt has got to stop. According to liberal logic in the war on terrorism, FDR was a bloodthirsty war criminal.

When six Germans and two Americans were suspected of plotting an attack on U.S. munitions plants during World War II, FDR immediately ordered them arrested and tried in a secret military tribunal held behind closed doors at the Department of Justice.

Within weeks, all were found guilty. Six of the eight, including one U.S. citizen, were given the electric chair. One German was sentenced to life in prison and the other American citizen -- who had turned himself in and revealed the plot to the FBI -- got 30 years.

The Supreme Court upheld the secret trial, but didn't get around to producing an opinion until after Old Sparky had rendered its own verdict.

Consider that the eight saboteurs never actually did anything other than enter the country illegally, which I gather is considered a constitutional right these days (except in my future home state of Arizona).

Still, FDR had them executed or imprisoned after trial in a secret military tribunal.

How many future car bombers would be discouraged if Faisal Shahzad were tried by military tribunal and executed by, say, the end of the month? What if Army doctor Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had already gotten the chair?

But we can't do that because, according to five Supreme Court justices who aren't "progressive" enough for American liberals, terrorists waging war on U.S. soil get full constitutional protections.

So, instead, we're left arguing about whether an exception should be made to Miranda rights in the case of a terrorist who plotted with foreign agents to plant a car bomb in Times Square. ("You have the right to remain violent ...")

We are at war. The Supreme Court has no right to stick its fat, unelected nose into the commander in chief's constitutional war powers, particularly in a war against savages whose only reason for not nuking us yet is that they don't have the technology. (The New York Times hasn't gotten around to printing it.)

The reason Democrats are obsessed with controlling the courts is that unelected judges issuing final edicts is the only way liberals can attain their insane policy agenda. No group of Americans outside of Nancy Pelosi's district would vote for politicians who enacted laws similar to the phony "constitutional rights" liberal justices proclaim from the Supreme Court.

President Obama would rather surrender his authority as commander in chief to the Supreme Court than get blamed for deciding to treat terrorists as if they're Paris Hilton facing a drunk driving charge. Let the court do it.

(Recall that Obama's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attack, in a civilian court in New York was even less popular with the American people than Jay Leno at 10 p.m.)

Meanwhile, elected Democrats in Congress are also happy to yield their law-making authority to the court, so they don't have to be the ones voting for laws mandating late-term abortions; hard-core pornography on the Internet; government-sanctioned race discrimination; forced cross-district busing; confiscatory property tax hikes to fund socially engineered school desegregation plans; bans on the public observation of religious traditions shared by most Americans; free education, health care and welfare benefits for illegal immigrants; and a redefinition of the 2,000-year-old institution of marriage against the express wishes of voters in every state to vote on it.

(Note: This is only a partial list.)

The Supreme Court has become a Blue Ribbon Commission for Lunatics, issuing binding edicts in 5-4 votes that Americans would never in a million years vote for. Distinguishing between Elena Kagan and any other Democratic nominee is like distinguishing between Hannibal Lecter and Vlad the Impaler.



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 or 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.


15 May, 2010

Humourist Giles Coren explains Britain's new rulers

Both of whom come from very privileged backgrounds and went to famous "public" schools. There is much truth behind the comedic exaggeration below

Look, it’s not about private education. It’s about Eton and Westminster. That’s why the leadership duo is the way that it is. I wish people would understand that. Even Matthew Parris, writing on Thursday about the Nick and Dave show in the Downing Street garden, put Cameron and Clegg’s “astonishingly confident body language” and their being “so obviously relaxed at so potentially tense a time” down to the fact that “the wind of their times was in their sails”.

It may be, Matthew, it may be. But personally I think what you saw was just an Old Etonian and an Old Wet (yup, I’m afraid that’s what they call us) lolling in the garden on a sunny day, having a lark and not really giving a damn. Because we don’t much. Not about anything.

Why on earth should they be tense or unconfident? They’re 43 and they’re going to get to play with the country. Be world famous. Everyone’s going to look at them all the time, do what they say and laugh at their jokes (even quite lame ones, where Nick pretends to walk away and Dave pulls a face). That was the plan right from day one, when they rolled up snivelling at school in their scratchy collars with their groaning tuck boxes and tried not to cry when matron grabbed their balls and told them to cough (or when Cartwright of the Remove grabbed their balls and told them not to make any noise at all).

Nick and Dave spent most of their school lives in gardens. That’ll be why they chose one for the press con. Nick, like me, will have had many of his lessons sprawled out on the grass in Dean’s Yard or on the trim lawn of College Garden in the very shadow of Parliament (or out of their shadow, if your class got there early enough to bag a sunny spot). And as for Dave, well, Eton is basically all gardens.

And then, what, they should have been nervous because of all those journalists and photographers? Come off it. Slack-bellied salarymen in rubber-soled shoes and off-the-peg suits with a “chav gap” where the jacket collar sits an inch back off the shirt? Why would one be nervous in front of them? Nick and Dave were gawped at through five years of school by hordes of tourists toting massive cameras and prepared to pay cash money to be photographed with them (and I hope they took it, I certainly did).

They looked relaxed because they were and are relaxed. Because public speaking comes naturally — they’re not like the Gordon Browns and William Hagues and Margaret Thatchers of this world who have to pretend to be Victorian statesmen when they talk in public, and speak in long, ponderous, structured phrases because they are terrified of being scrutinised au naturel and exposed as nobbut a jumped-up prole. And if there is some idea afloat that Cameron and Clegg should be nervous because they’ve got an unprecedented peacetime coalition to maintain, a £163 billion deficit to recover, and two foreign wars to wriggle out of, well, pish, matey, one can do anything if one only puts one’s mind to it.

But it’s not about private schools. It’s about Eton and Westminster. People of the Left, people with a social conscience, hell, people everywhere have been making a fuss about the public school takeover of government (and it is pretty tragic that more than half the Cabinet is privately educated) but that is not the point, and doesn’t account for Nick and Dave. Simply going to an independent as opposed to a state school doesn’t count for anything. It just means you’re a bit less likely to get stabbed. But it’s not going to make you confident or relaxed.

Only Eton and Westminster — properly impossible to get into, seriously academic, scarily ancient and hog-whimperingly elitist — can do that. And maybe Winchester, at a push.

But forget the rest. Harrow, Rugby, Marlborough, Stowe — these are just places that the rich parents of thick children send them to live because they don’t really love them. As a parent, your money doesn’t ultimately buy you anything except a quieter household in term time and a son who gradually drifts away. (For Jeremy Hunt and Owen Paterson to have made the Cabinet from Charterhouse and Rugby is as impressive as for Baroness Warsi and that red-headed Lib Dem with the glasses to have made the Cabinet from wherever on earth they went — at the taxpayer’s expense, I might add.) Even St Paul’s can’t give you the special twinkle.

Look at George Osborne. George is cleverer than the other two put together, squared and baked in a pie. But he looks no more relaxed or confident than a virgin on her wedding night whose husband doesn’t yet know she has six nipples. And that’s because he went to a school which, for all its exam successes, is a concrete building south of the river where you do 53 GCSEs and are shoo’d off the premises at five o’clock sharp. “Grange Hill without the girls”, was how we always thought of it, sitting in our Jacobean buildings, in our pink ties, with our funny words for everything, putting on plays in Latin and Greek.

And it’s not just me who thinks this. The Nazis knew it too. Himmler feared Etonians for their cunning (though he thought them “soft”), and Ribbentrop wanted to send his sons to Westminster. And if those two didn’t know about the importance of world domination, I don’t know who did. (Indeed, if there is going to be any problem with the coalition at all, it is the age-old prejudice of Westminster boys, who think that Etonians are too posh, and of Etonians, who think that Wets are too clever.) You see, if you’re an OE or a Wet then you know you’ve had it all already. The full deck. The big head start. Fluff it from here and you’re a mimsy git and no mistake.

So it’s not enough just to get into Oxford or Cambridge. The world at large will say you only got in because of your rich parents and your posh school anyway. So you have to ace it. You have to get a First, and you have to get a Blue, and then a blinding job. But that’s still not enough. Because they will still tell you you got all that because of where you went to school or because your great-great-great-uncle was Johann V, Count of Nassau- Dillenburg and you might be distantly related to the Queen. So you have to be modest about it, and you have to wear your learning lightly, and then you have to ace the job too, and then maybe, just maybe, people will think it had to do with you.

Averagely schooled individuals such as Gordon Brown, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, Harold Wilson and I’ll even include Tony Blair (because, come on, who ever heard of Fettes?) stunned their friends and families just by getting to No 10 in the first place. But Nick and Dave know that any mug with a scholar’s gown and a smattering of Latin can do that if he wants. This week they only finally achieved the bare minimum of what was expected of them when they waved their mummies goodbye at 13. Only now, if they pull it off, and actually make history, in a positive way, are they in with an outside chance of getting some respect.

But don’t expect them to be nervous about it.


Europe's fiscal Fascism brings British withdrawal ever closer

Just when you thought the EU could not go any further down the road towards authoritarian excess, it gets worse.

The European Commission is calling for EU powers to vet budgets of the 27 member states before the draft laws have been presented to the House of Commons, the Tweede Kamer, the Folketing, the Bundestag, the Assemblee nationale, or other national parliaments. It applies to Britain even though we are not in EMU.

Fonctionnaires and EU finance ministers will pass judgement on the British (or Dutch, or Danish, or French) budgets before the elected bodies of these ancient and sovereign nations have seen the proposals. Did we not we not fight the English Civil War and kill a king over such a prerogative?

Yet again we are discovering the trick played on our democracies by Europe’s insiders when they charged ahead with EMU, brushing aside warnings by their own staff economists that monetary union was unworkable without fiscal union. Jacques Delors knew perfectly well that this would lead inevitably to a crisis, but it would be the “beneficial crisis” that would force sovereign parliaments to submit to demands that they would never otherwise accept.

This is now playing out before our eyes. Club Med governments have built up €7 trillion sovereign debt under the cover of monetary union, which shut down the warning signals for borrowers and creditors alike. We are now near – or beyond – the point of no return. Eurozone states must go along with this cynical entrapment, or risk economic catastrophe. The conspirators have succeeded. The €750bn shock and awe package agreed over the weekend clearly alters the character of the European Project, crossing the line towards an EU debt union and an EU Treasury. How long will it be now before the EU acquires direct tax-raising powers?
As French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: “We have a veritable economic government”. I hope the excellent and proud French people realize what this means before it is too late, as it is for the Greek, Irish, Portuguese, and Spanish peoples. They are being forced by the logic of the economic machine to squeeze fiscal policy at a time when they are either recession or trapped in a deeper perma-slump without offsetting stimulus. A Deutsche Bank note to clients said these countries have given up all three instruments of economic control: fiscal, monetary, and exchange. They are powerless. We are under an “EU protectorate”, said Spain’s opposition leader Mariano Rajoy last week, though it was empty, useless rhetoric since he does not draw any of the necessary conclusions from this intolerable state of affairs.

In Brussels, Mr Barroso wants EU powers to monitor current account deficits and credit growth – under pain of sanctions – in order to stop booms running out of control. “We must get to the root of the problems,” he said.

Notice how one-sided this is. The entire adjustment burden falls on the people of the Club Med states – including his own nation, Portugal – though they are already trapped in debt-deflation. There is no recognition that the EMU system itself is fundamentally dysfunctional because the euro was painted on a cultural canopy that cannot possibly be deemed an “optimal currency area”, nor that these countries have been grossly violated by the entirely predictable – and predicted – perversions of EMU.

There is no hint that intrusive EU surveillance powers should be used to compel Germany to increase spending and tolerate higher inflation so that the EU’s North-South divide can be bridged by the both camps meeting each other half way. All responses are tilted in one direction: deflation, fiscal austerity. This is the Gold Bloc fallacy of Continental Europe from 1931 to 1936, the policy that led to Bruning’s destruction of Weimar, Laval’s near destruction of the Third Republic in France with his deflation decrees. It was a precursor to Laval’s fateful role as the Nazi enforcer of Vichy. He was later executed by firing squad, vomitting from a botched suicide with cynanide.

The reactionary character of the EU system is astonishing to behold. Mr Barroso – a Maoist student protester on the revolutionary barricades, turned Thatcherite, turned … what exactly – a Salazar, a son insu? – is becoming a serious danger to civil society and the survival of European democracy. Señor Barroso, a decent man, needs to step back and ask himself what on earth is going to be achieved by imposing a deflation death spiral on a large swathe of Europe.

Nor is there any recognition at all that the European Central Bank was itself partly responsible for the crisis that has now engulfed the South. We all forget that the ECB ran a persistently loose monetary policy during the bubble – Greenspan Lite, let us call it – and an overly tight policy after the bubble burst. A double whammy for the GIPS.

It missed its own inflation target every year, and by the end it was tolerating an 11pc growth rate in the M3 money supply (against a target of 4.5pc, but by then it had abandoned its Bundesbank tradition of monetarism). This was pouring petrol on the property fires of Ireland and Spain.

The ECB has since let M3 contract, doing its own part to ensure a replay of 1931, at least until Europe’s politicians read the riot act on Friday and forced it to buy Greek, Portuguse, Irish, and Spanish bonds, albeit sterilized and injecting no net stimulus into the euroland system. This resassertion of political primacy is entirely appropriate. The idea that central banks should not be accountable to democracy is monstrous and untenable. Besides, they had their chance. They showed themselves unfit for independence. Their doctrines were found to be pseudo-science.

Why did the ECB pursue policies that were so destructive for the GIPS? Because it was helping to nurse Germany through its long post-reunification slump in Phase I, and then bowed to Germany’s phobia of non-existent inflation in Phase II from 2008 onwards. ECB policy was twisted from the start to help one (mentally unhinged?) country. Let us at least be honest about this.

I do not envy David Cameron and George Osborne as they navigate these lethal waters. As Bruno Waterfield reports from Brussels, they will face their first clash next week when the new Chancellor is presented with the Barroso proposals, that is to say proposals for a reversal of the English Civil War and the re-establishment of Stuart monarchical absolutism.

The truth is that no British government can ever put Europe on the back-burner and hope it goes away. It hits you in the face, again, and again, and again. This is why so many British ministers end up feeling a visceral hatred for the project.

In my view, the EU elites overstepped the line by ignoring the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters, then pushing it through under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty without a popular vote, except in Ireland, and when Ireland voted ‘No’, to ignore that too. The enterprise has become illegitimate – iis starting to exhibit the reflexes of tyranny.

The moment of definition is fast arriving from Britain. The measures now being demanded to save monetary union cannot and will not be accepted by this Government, Nick Clegg not withstanding. The most eurosceptic people I have ever met are those who have actually worked for the European Commission, though it takes a while – and liberation from Brussels – for these views to ferment.

The outcome – une véritable gouvernement économique – will put Britain and the eurozone on such separate courses that it will amount to separation in all but name. The sooner we get the nastiness of divorce behind us, the better.


SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan is anti-justice. She will try to push America towards European-style privilege for selected groups

Her liberal defenders insist Ms. Kagan has a first-rate legal mind. She is an academic, having served as dean of Harvard Law School. This supposedly qualifies her to be on the Supreme Court. It does not. Unlike other constitutional scholars, Ms. Kagan has not written any books. Her body of written work is sparse and shallow. Besides several articles and book reviews, she has produced nothing of consequence. She is a mediocre bureaucrat, who has excelled mostly at climbing the greasy pole of academic politics.

Moreover, Ms. Kagan was a corrupt administrator, who turned a blind eye to plagiarism by prominent Harvard faculty members. Confronted by overwhelming evidence that scholars Laurence Tribe and Charles Ogletree - two leading liberals on campus - had pulled word-for-word, direct material from other authors, she effectively gave them a slap on the wrist. If students had committed the same offense, they would have been rightly suspended or expelled. She oversaw the creation of a two-tier system: one set of rules for leftist academics, another one for the student body.

As dean, she prevented military recruiters from coming on campus. The reason: She opposed the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy on homosexuals serving in the military. Her active opposition to military recruitment took place during a time of war. American troops were fighting - and dying - in Iraq and Afghanistan. They needed every soldier and official possible. Ms. Kagan's dogmatic liberalism trumped patriotism.

The real - and only - reason Ms. Kagan has been selected is that she is a partisan ideologue. She worked as a policy aide under the Clinton administration. She is Mr. Obama's solicitor general, arguing the administration's cases before the Supreme Court. Abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, school prayer, the war on terror, the constitutional legitimacy of Obamacare - she will vote the Obama line on every issue.

Ms. Kagan is not simply a traditional liberal. Like her master, Mr. Obama, she seeks to erect a European-style socialist state. She is anti-capitalist. Her undergraduate thesis discussed the glories of socialist agitation in America during the early part of the 20th century. She celebrated their goal of overthrowing the free-market system.

She is also a staunch supporter of European-style "hate speech" laws. In a 1996 article in the University of Chicago Law Review, Ms. Kagan called for the "redistribution of speech." Repeating the arguments of the European left, she called for the government to restrict or prohibit speech that might cause "harm," either directly or by inciting others to commit violence. In other words, protected classes - gays and lesbians, Muslims, minorities, women - should be given privileged status against the claims of free speech. Such hate speech laws have been used to delegitimize and criminalize conservative opinions.

In that same article, Ms. Kagan also argues that the government has the "right" to "unskew" an "overabundance of ideas" in the marketplace. In other words, if there is too much of an idea that the ruling liberal elite does not like, then speech can be "redistributed" to ensure a more "level playing field." It echoes the left's long-held goal of smashing the dominance of conservatives on talk radio.

Western liberalism is sliding towards an embrace of multicultural tyranny. In Europe, soft totalitarianism is becoming a reality - Christianity is being purged from the public square; real conservative opinion is being marginalized; statism is becoming entrenched. The Trojan horse for this assault on human freedom has been so-called hate-speech laws. Through the use of an imperial judiciary, leftist activists are engaging in a massive social-engineering experiment.

The same is now occurring in America. If Ms. Kagan is confirmed, Mr. Obama will be one step closer to reshaping the Supreme Court in his image. His first pick, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the "wise Latina," is doing his bidding. Ms. Kagan is next. Mr. Obama is slowly turning us into Europe. Once he stacks the Supreme Court with a majority of justices, his revolution will be complete. And traditional America will be no more.


Thousands Sign Petition Protesting Empire State Building's Snub of Mother Teresa

Communist sympathizers hate Christians -- as usual. Scrooge McDuck used to call it the Vampire State building. Maybe he was on to something

A nationwide petition has been launched by the Catholic League after the Empire State Building denied a request to commemorate Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.

Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic civil rights organization, submitted an application to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners in February to have the skyscraper feature blue and white lights -- the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation -- on Aug. 26 to commemorate her centennial. The request was denied without explanation last week, and more than 6,000 people have signed a protest petition in just one day, Donohue told FoxNews.com.

"I'd like to find out what's driving this," he said. "But I'm confident it's just a matter of time before we win on this thing."

Donohue noted that the iconic building in midtown Manhattan changed its colors to red and yellow last year to honor the 60th anniversary of China's Communist Revolution.

"Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people," Donohue said in a statement. "In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa."

The iconic Empire State Building is lit in white most nights, but nearly every week the skyscraper gets splashed with color to honor holidays and heroes.

Donohue called on Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, to reverse the decision.

"Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom," Donohue's statement continued. "She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world … Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building."

A spokeswoman for the building's public relations firm declined comment Thursday when reached by FoxNews.com.

Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, died in 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, a step in the path to being declared a saint.



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 or 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.


14 May, 2010

Britain's tradition of false rape claims now starts at age 8

An eight-year-old girl who claimed to have been raped by two 10-year-old boys told a court today that the attack never happened.

She said that she had told the story because she was worried about getting into trouble with her mother for being a “tiny bit naughty”. She also feared that she would not be given sweets if her mother knew that the three of them had been showing each other their genitals.

The prosecution claims that the boys raped the girl last October in a park in Hayes, West London, after taking her to a block of flats and holding her captive in a bin shed.

Giving evidence via a video link to the Old Bailey, the girl said during cross-examination that neither boy had dragged her to a secluded spot, pulled down her underwear or raped her. Instead she agreed with Linda Strudwick, defending the older boy, that she feared getting in trouble and so told her mother that they had pulled down her underwear, rather than that she had done so herself. She agreed that she had wanted to be with the boys in the bin shed because they were having fun and giggling.

The girl, sitting in an annexe to the court, sometimes patted her hands together, stroked her hair or drank from a bottle of blackcurrant juice as she gave evidence. Ms Strudwick asked: “You told your mum that the boys took your knickers down because you didn’t want your mum to know that you had been naughty. Is that right?” The girl replied: “Yes.” She then agreed that she had not been “dragged” anywhere and had not been raped by either boy.

Asked whether she had wanted to be with the boys, she replied: “I kind of did.” Asked what she was worried about, she said: “No sweeties.”

Ms Strudwick asked whether she had been naughty and she said “only a tiny bit” but she could not remember how.

Earlier, the child was taken on a virtual tour of her estate through a series of computer graphics. She identified the third floor stairwell, bin sheds and park where the prosecution claim she was sexually attacked. She agreed that her bruising and scratches could have been caused when one of the boys helped her over a fence into the park.

She yawned occasionally and often replied that she could not remember the exact details of what had happened.

At the start of her evidence she was asked questions designed to put her at her ease. She smiled as she said that she did not like school, in part because she sat next to a “naughty boy”. She had recently had a hearing aid fitted and occasionally got “muddled up” over what she heard.

After she had finished her evidence the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, noted that she appeared exhausted and thanked her, adding: “No one is suggesting you have done anything wrong. I am the judge. I know when people have done something wrong. You have not done anything wrong. Remember that.”

The two boys, one of whom is now 11, watched proceedings from the well of the court sitting between their mothers and solicitors. Neither the barristers nor the judge wore gowns or wigs.

The jury of six men and six women heard that the girl was taken to hospital with stomach pains but did not have any injuries to her genitals. She did have a number of scratches and grazes.

Both boys deny rape and attempted rape.


Pathetic British health and safety regulations again

You can't blame the shop. Prosecutions for trivial breaches of such rules do happen

A teenager was refused a repair kit for a punctured bicycle tyre - because the shop's staff feared he might sniff the glue inside. Daniel Cottrell was shopping with his father in a pound store when he was refused the set, which included a 5ml glue stick.

The keen cyclist, who is two months shy of his 18th birthday, was told by the assistant at the 99p Store in Greywell Shopping Centre he could not buy it because he was under 18 and the glue stick contained solvents. The student and his father, Simon, were left stunned as they had previously bought repair kits at bike retailers with no questions asked.

Daniel, from Havant, Hampshire, said: 'I was a bit disappointed because I really needed it to fix my back tyre. 'I'd only had the bike about a week when I rode over a nail and got a quick puncture. 'My bike is my main mode of transport, so I was really annoyed. I do about 20 miles a week and cycle to college and to meet my friends. 'I was really hopeful of getting back on the road when dad took me to the 99p Store but was disappointed when the lady refused to serve me.

'I only wanted to repair my bike and had no intention of sniffing anything. I can't imagine the 5ml that came in the pack would do very much. 'My dad was next to me and asked if he could buy it for me but she wouldn't even let him pay for it.' The student uses his bike daily to cycle to college where he is undertaking a course in motorcycle maintenance.

Mr Cottrell, 41, said: 'I could understand if he was buying a knife, but for a patch and repair kit? It's laughable.' The repair set from the 99p Store included a couple of patches, a piece of chalk, a multipurpose spanner, a piece of sandpaper and 5ml of glue.

Under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, it is an offence to sell any intoxicating substances to a person under the age of 18, such as solvent-based glues, aerosols, dry cleaning fluid, correction fluid and marker pens. But only where the shopkeeper may reasonably believe the product will be used for intoxication.

Hussain Lalani, of 99p Stores, said staff were acting within the rules. 'This product does contain a solvent, a glue, which is an age-restricted product,' he said. 'There's a risk that kids could inhale that product,' he said. 'I am sorry if any offence was caused.'

The leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said: 'Our Trading Standards would support the retailer's view if the young person was unaccompanied, but with a responsible parent to hand, perhaps common sense should prevail in such circumstances.' [When councils often show no common sense, it is a bit rich to ask it of a retailer]


Last secret court in Britain forced to open doors

A severely disabled piano virtuoso has made legal history after the country’s last remaining secret court was opened for the first time. The Court of Protection, which controls the future of adults incapable of managing their own affairs, appointed the family of Derek Paravicini to look after his welfare and commercial future yesterday.

Mr Paravicini, 30, who is thought be the most advanced autistic musical savant in the country, is blind and suffers from a learning disability. Before yesterday’s court decision the Official Solicitor from the Ministry of Justice had been appointed to look after his affairs, rather than his divorced parents, Nicolas Paravicini and Mary Ann Parker Bowles, the former sister-in-law of the Duchess of Cornwall.

Through Mr Paravicini’s case, media organisations, including The Times, had challenged the secrecy of the Court of Protection. After the partial opening-up last year of the Family Court it was the sole remaining court where hearings were automatically secret. Since being set up in 2007, it has taken control of more than £2.3billion of assets.

Last November Mr Justice Hedley overruled objections from the Government that allowing the media to attend the court’s hearings would be a breach of Mr Paravicini’s right to privacy.

At yesterday’s hearing Mr Justice Hedley called Mr Paravicini a “man of remarkable accomplishment, a musical prodigy”. He said that details of Mr Paravicini’s life were already in the public domain and the “interests of the public and media are legitimately engaged”.

Giving evidence, the pianist’s father, a 72-year-old retired private banker, said: “Derek’s life is his music. He is very disabled. He expresses himself, fulfils himself through music.”

Mr Justice Hedley paid tribute to the family’s commitment to Mr Paravicini’s welfare and said that their “independence in the teeth of the ambition of others” would work in their son’s interests. He said that they had already prevented him appearing at an event with political overtones and stopped him appearing on a well-known television show because of misgivings.

Appointing Mr Paravicini’s parents and sister, Elizabeth, 40, as “deputies” responsible for looking after the pianist’s affairs, Mr Justice Hedley said: “They have satisfied me that they were able to withstand the pressures that may come to develop Derek’s commercial career at a pace greater than is actually good for him.”

Lawyers representing Mr Paravicini had opposed opening up of the Court of Protection, arguing that the media were interested in his private affairs, rather than matters genuinely in the public interest.

The Court of Protection was created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to deal with the affairs of those who lack the capacity to make their own decisions. Officials from the Office of the Public Guardian are appointed if people do not have a living will or lasting power of attorney handing control of their assets over to family or friends.

Problems often arise, however, when someone without a living will becomes suddenly and unexpectedly mentally impaired. Relatives must then apply to the court and to the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be decided whether they are fit to run that person’s affairs.

In its first 18 months of operation the court received 3,000 complaints.


Another violent Muslim kills woman

Being a female in a Muslim family is a big risk -- even in America

A QUEENS man was sentenced today to 15-years-to-life for killing his wife by stabbing her more than 250 times and then allegedly eating her lungs and drinking her blood, all in front of their four-year-old daughter.

Mohammad Solaiman was sentenced today for the gruesome murder of his wife Shahida Sultanna in their Jamaica, Queens, New York home in December 2007.

Their four-year-old daughter was in the next room at the time of the incident and witnessed the bloody aftermath.

Ms Sultanna's sister, Ferdousi Begum, shuddered and bawled in court todday as she begged Solaiman to explain why he killed his wife. "He took out her liver and her lungs and he ate it," Ms Begum wailed. "He drank her blood. Her daughter told me that."

Solaiman's lawyer John Scarpa "categorically" denied the allegation that Solaiman feasted on his wife's remains. "He may have killed his wife but he didn't turn into a cannibal," Mr Scarpa 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 or 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.


13 May, 2010

A "Duty to Die"?

by Thomas Sowell

One of the many fashionable notions that have caught on among some of the intelligentsia is that old people have "a duty to die," rather than become a burden to others.

This is more than just an idea discussed around a seminar table. Already the government-run medical system in Britain is restricting what medications or treatments it will authorize for the elderly. Moreover, it seems almost certain that similar attempts to contain runaway costs will lead to similar policies when American medical care is taken over by the government.

Make no mistake about it, letting old people die is a lot cheaper than spending the kind of money required to keep them alive and well. If a government-run medical system is going to save any serious amount of money, it is almost certain to do so by sacrificing the elderly.

There was a time-- fortunately, now long past-- when some desperately poor societies had to abandon old people to their fate, because there was just not enough margin for everyone to survive. Sometimes the elderly themselves would simply go off from their family and community to face their fate alone. But is that where we are today?

Talk about "a duty to die" made me think back to my early childhood in the South, during the Great Depression of the 1930s. One day, I was told that an older lady-- a relative of ours-- was going to come and stay with us for a while, and I was told how to be polite and considerate towards her.

She was called "Aunt Nance Ann," but I don't know what her official name was or what her actual biological relationship to us was. Aunt Nance Ann had no home of her own. But she moved around from relative to relative, not spending enough time in any one home to be a real burden.

At that time, we didn't have things like electricity or central heating or hot running water. But we had a roof over our heads and food on the table-- and Aunt Nance Ann was welcome to both. Poor as we were, I never heard anybody say, or even intimate, that Aunt Nance Ann had "a duty to die."

I only began to hear that kind of talk decades later, from highly educated people in an affluent age, when even most families living below the official poverty level owned a car or truck and had air-conditioning.

It is today, in an age when homes have flat-panelled TVs, and most families eat in restaurants regularly or have pizzas and other meals delivered to their homes, that the elites-- rather than the masses-- have begun talking about "a duty to die."

Back in the days of Aunt Nance Ann, nobody in our family had ever gone to college. Indeed, none had gone beyond elementary school. Apparently you need a lot of expensive education, sometimes including courses on ethics, before you can start talking about "a duty to die."

Many years later, while going through a divorce, I told a friend that I was considering contesting child custody. She immediately urged me not to do it. Why? Because raising a child would interfere with my career.

But my son didn't have a career. He was just a child who needed someone who understood him. I ended up with custody of my son and, although he was not a demanding child, raising him could not help impeding my career a little. But do you just abandon a child when it is inconvenient to raise him? The lady who gave me this advice had a degree from the Harvard Law School. She had more years of education than my whole family had, back in the days of Aunt Nance Ann.

Much of what is taught in our schools and colleges today seeks to break down traditional values, and replace them with more fancy and fashionable notions, of which "a duty to die" is just one.

These efforts at changing values used to be called "values clarification," though the name has had to be changed repeatedly over the years, as more and more parents caught on to what was going on and objected. The values that supposedly needed "clarification" had been clear enough to last for generations and nobody asked the schools and colleges for this "clarification." Nor are we better people because of it.


Left Is Certain of Tea Partiers' Motives, but Finds Terrorists Inscrutable

by Dennis Prager

While it cannot be proven, there is little reason to doubt that many on the Left are disappointed that the Times Square bomber didn't turn out to be the "white male" he was originally identified as.

This allegation may be wrong, but it is made on the basis of compelling evidence.

There is a perfectly clear pattern on the Left -- the normative Left, not just the "far" Left -- that denies the obvious when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Take, for example, Maj. Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 fellow soldiers and tried to murder the 32 others whom he wounded at Fort Hood, Texas.

For days after the murders, liberal-Left commentators and mainstream media reports attributed Hasan's mass murders to everything but his Islamic beliefs -- even though it was known that he yelled out "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is the Greatest") just as he began his shooting.

As "Hardball's" Chris Matthews announced, "It's unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting," and then added, "He makes a phone call or whatever, according to Reuters right now. Apparently he tried to contact al-Qaida ... That's not a crime, to call up al-Qaida, is it?"

The New York Times "Week in Review" article on the shootings was titled "When Soldiers Snap." As I wrote at the time, "The gist of the article was that Maj. Hasan had snapped -- even though he had never been in combat. He snapped in advance. Just two sentences in the article were devoted to the possibility that his motives were in any way relatable to his Muslim faith."

NPR'S Tom Gjelten offered the novel explanation that Hasan, who had never been in combat, may have suffered from "pre-traumatic stress disorder." Again, psychology, not religion.

On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera said, "I don't know what motivates him ... He could have had a toothache and gone off because of that."

And this time, the same thing happened, with one exception: For two days, it was assumed a "white male," shorthand for non-Muslim, non-minority American, tried to blow up passersby near Times Square in Manhattan.

New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this to Katie Couric on CBS News on May 3: "If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that, somebody who's homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something, it could be anything."

It's OK for liberals to speculate that a terrorist might be a Right-wing white American opposed to ObamaCare (aka a tea partier). It is the rather more likely scenario of an Islamic terrorist that liberals not consider, let alone publicly express.

Moreover, only an individual whose politics forces him to deny the obvious can deny that people like Bloomberg hoped that the culprit not be a Muslim, but rather a conservative white American.

Even after the terrorist, Faisal Shahzad, was apprehended, and after he confessed, the liberal-Left world almost never mentioned his religion, and many tried to blame it on factors unrelated to his religious beliefs. As with Nidal Hasan, the culprit in Shahzad's case was the terrorist's psychological state. This time, it was the stress he experienced over his house going into foreclosure.

Thus the Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote on May 4: "You of course don't want to speculate on why someone 'really' did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex. But it's a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors ..."

Widely ridiculed -- in the comments section of the Washington Post itself -- for what he wrote, the next day, Klein tried to do undo the damage to his credibility: "In case there's actual confusion ... I do not believe that foreclosure leads to terrorism."

I think that most honest observers would argue that all the confusion was on Klein's part, not the readers'. But, in any event, even in his explanatory column, he made no reference to Shahzad's religious beliefs as the terrorist's motivation.

Instead, he re-emphasized that it was impossible to even speculate what Shahzad's motive might be: "Speculating about why a terrorist commits a terrorist act is a mug's game ... People who desire the murder of innocents qualify, I think, as pretty disturbed."

Klein was not alone on the Left associating home foreclosure with Shahzad's attempted mass murder. Annie Lowrey, an editor of Foreign Policy, wrote: "I think it's a bit above my pay grade to speculate on the broader sociological meaning of this. But for what it is worth, the arrested subject of this past weekend's Times Square bomb plot is a homeowner in the midst of foreclosure."

And a long background piece on Shahzad by the Associated Press -- the most widely reprinted news source in America -- had the title, "Times Square bombing suspect's life had unraveled." Not one of the article's 1,076 words mentioned Shahzad's Islamist beliefs as even a contributory factor. It was all about his economic misfortune and his walking around depressed.

This is but one more example of how Leftism permeates the upper echelons of American (and Western) society and has people mouthing sentiments that those not on the Left regard as morally absurd.

The best chance America has in retaining its greatness, let alone its exceptionalism, is to understand the Left. And the Left's explanations for what makes a Faisal Shahzad or a Maj. Hasan seek to slaughter Americans are key to understanding the Left.

A defining characteristic of the Left is its inability to identify -- and therefore confront -- evil: from Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich's expressions of support to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, to decades of Leftists around the world praising Cuba's Fidel Castro, to the mainstream media's denial of moral culpability to the arsonists, murderers and rioters in Los Angeles over the Rodney King verdict ("Understanding the Rage" was the title of the daily Los Angeles Times special section devoted to the riots), to the universal liberal outrage at President Ronald Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," to the Left's virtually unanimous hostility to Israel.

The Left's inability to identify the religious beliefs of Islamic terrorists and instead ascribe their murders of Americans to the terrorists' psychological tensions and economic problems -- while at the same time utterly certain that conservative white Americans have only the most vile motives -- is an expression of the Left's failure to recognize and confront real evil.

Just remember this: If Shahzad had not been identified as the would-be bomber, the mainstream (i.e., liberal) news media and leading Democrats would have told us repeatedly that a white male -- surely a conservative white male -- was the Times Square terrorist, and that we should therefore be looking suspiciously at our fellow Americans on the Right, especially those attending tea parties. For while liberals claim not to know the motives of Muslim terrorists, they are always certain of conservatives' motives: racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.

When, one day, the Left exits from history's stage, its epitaph will read: "Those who do not understand evil will not understand good."


Who decides what 'marriage' means?

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN CONGRESS PASSED the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, same-sex marriage did not exist in the United States. Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's 4-3 decision finding a right to same-sex marriage in the state constitution, was still seven years in the future.

But the crusade to fundamentally redefine marriage was already in progress, and Washington understood that once gay marriage was legalized anywhere, the crusaders would go to court to demand that it be recognized everywhere. So Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act to make two things clear: First, that no state could be forced to deem a same-sex couple "married" merely because another state did so. And second, that as far as the federal government and federal law were concerned, "marriage" would continue to mean what it had always meant: the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.

DOMA was not controversial. It was passed by robust bipartisan majorities -- 85 senators and 342 representatives -- and readily signed by President Bill Clinton. Moreover, it was replicated at the state level almost everywhere: 45 states define marriage as the union of male and female, 30 of them in their constitutions.

But five states and the District of Columbia do allow same-sex couples to marry, and the crusaders' strategy to redefine marriage by judicial fiat proceeds. Which is why Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the legal organization that successfully litigated Goodridge, was in federal court last week, urging a judge to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional on the grounds that it discriminates against gay and lesbian couples.

Attorney Mary Bonauto, lead counsel for the gay and lesbian group, told US District Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston that by restricting the federal definition of "marriage" to opposite-sex couples, DOMA unfairly relegates married same-sex partners to second-class status. Not only that, she claimed, it negates "the longstanding deference of federal to state law in determining the marital status" of individuals claiming federal benefits.

But neither objection holds water.

The 1996 law does not "single out" same-sex marriages for invidious purposes, as GLAD argues in its brief, nor does it "deny their existence" in order to strip same-sex partners of rights. DOMA simply does what countless other federal laws do: It defines basic legislative terms. Considering how frequently the words "marriage" and "spouse" are used in federal statutes, rulings, and regulations, it is nonsensical to claim that Congress has no right to clarify their meaning -- as nonsensical as claiming that Congress is barred from defining "wetland" or "endangered species" or "disability."

To be sure, an individual state is free to adopt an irregular definition of marriage -- or anything else -- for purposes of state law. But it doesn't have a constitutional right to impose that definition on the rest of the nation. Massachusetts could decide, if it wished, to recognize martial-arts studios as institutions of higher education, and to make them eligible for state-subsidized education loans. Plainly, that anomalous definition of "higher education" would not be binding on the federal student loan program. By the same token, Massachusetts can decide (or be required by its supreme court) to treat same-sex partners as married spouses. But it can hardly insist that its definition of "married spouses" trumps that of the federal government and 45 other states.

Bonauto argued that until DOMA came along, the federal government had always allowed the states to decide who was legally married. "The only thing that changed here," she told Tauro, "was who was going to marry."

But the overriding national interest in the fundamental meaning of marriage is a precedent Congress established long before 1996.

In the second half of the 19th century, Congress acted time and again to shut down polygamy, which the Mormon Church at the time encouraged. Beginning with the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, signed by President Lincoln in 1862, Congress moved aggressively to establish monogamy as the only lawful form of wedlock in the United States. Eventually Congress would go so far as to require voters, jurors, and public officials in Utah to take an anti-polygamy oath, and it would make a permanent ban on polygamy a condition of Utah statehood.

The Defense of Marriage Act understandably sticks in the craw of those who want marriage to mean something the vast majority of Americans have never accepted. But is the longstanding national definition unconstitutional merely because some people reject it? The federal courts have never said so before; there is no good reason for them to say so now.


Australia: Register of UNMARRIED relationships in NSW?

The man who will be the state's attorney-general if government changes at next year's election, Greg Smith, went down with the metaphorical ship late on Tuesday night, when the Legislative Assembly voted overwhelmingly to establish a register for unmarried couples.

The register is to make it easier for such couples (opposite-sex and same-sex) to qualify for de facto status but is seen by some to be a back door into a blazing world of permissiveness.

While the government voted along party lines, the Coalition declared a conscience vote on the legislation. Cue Smith: "For too long the debate about marriage … has been dominated by ideological pontificating," he told Parliament. "The passing of this bill will be another increment in the undermining and destruction of marriage and the traditional family."

After managing to get in a reference to the Alamo (!), Smith claimed: "The supporters of marriage and the family feel like the occupants of strife-torn Derry during the troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s."

Also opposing the legislation were Michael Richardson (Lib), Greg Aplin Lib), Katrina Hodgkinson (Nat), Malcolm Kerr (Lib), Wayne Merton (Lib), Andrew Stoner (Nat), John Williams (Nat) and Thomas George (Nat).

The bill, which was to be presented to the Legislative Assembly last night, is not certain to go through. Before the session, the Premier, Kristina Keneally, who has been referring to the bill on Twitter as "My Govt's Bill" (even though she herself did not vote on it), tweeted the following: "My Govt's Relationship Register Bill, endorsed by my cabinet & caucus, risks defeat today in upper house at the hands of Barry O'Farrell."

But even Keneally must see that a conscience vote hardly constitutes a concerted effort to defeat "her" - or any - bill.



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 or 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.


12 May, 2010

A fairer voting system for Britain

Britain has long used a primitive voting system that delivers very unjust results. A party (such as the Liberals) can get around 25% of the vote but only a tiny handful of seats in Parliament. The new Conservative- led government has undertaken to hold a referendun to change the system to "Alternative voting" (AV), which is fairer. The referendum will almost certainly be carried with all parties supporting it.

Such a system is already well established in Australia and Ireland. It is however nothing like the European system of proportional representation, which is also primitive in its way. An outline of how AV works generally is given below.

How it will work in Britain is an interesting speculation. The most likely outcome as I see it is that most BNP and UKIP votes will be delivered to the Tories and Liberal votes could be delivered to Labour.

As there are a lot of Liberal voters but not many BNP and UKIP voters, that would be a huge win for Labour, which is why the Labour party will support the change. The Liberal party, however, hopes it will go the other way and deliver Labour votes to them, which is why they support it. Since they have nothing to lose they no doubt see that as a worthwhile gamble and are insisting on it as the price for joining the Conservatives in government

Australia has used alternative voting – or preferential voting as it is known here – longer than any other country.

Under this system, each voter ranks the list of candidates in order of preference. If, when the ballots are counted, one candidate holds a majority — i.e. 50 per cent of the vote — that candidate can be declared the winner.

Otherwise the candidate who holds the fewest first preferences is eliminated, the ballots assigned to that candidate are recounted and the second preference of each voter is used to reassign their vote to one of the remaining candidates.

This goes on until one candidate wins a majority of votes and is declared the winner.

The system was introduced in Australia in 1918, when the rise of the Conservative Country party, (now known as the Nationals) which represented small farmers, split the Conservative vote in two.

The then Conservative government of Billy Hughes introduced preferential voting to prevent Labor gaining seats from the conservative split as they would have done in a first past the post system.

It meant that, under preferential voting, the two Conservative parties would be able to compete without putting their seats at risk as the second preference of each party would go to the other.

The system has continued to work for the Conservative Liberal/ National coalition and has been gradually extended not only to both upper and lower houses, but to the state and territory legislatures.

Traditionally, preferential voting has been seen as favouring the Conservatives because it allowed Liberal and National voters to swop preferences. But the rise of the left-leaning Green party in the 1990s has swung the balance back in favour of Labor.

While the nature of the third party can be crucial to the vote, and has allowed candidates to win seats despite coming second in the vote it has not dramatically changed the result in any federal election. However in 1990 National Party leader Charles Blunt famously lost his seat after the anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott stood against him, gaining the third share of the vote.

Although Mr Blunt had a 10,000 vote lead over his nearest rival, Labor candidate Neville Newell, when Dr Caldicott’s votes were reassigned the vast majority went to Mr Newell, who went on to win the seat despite having originally polled only 27 percent of the vote.

A similar result was seen in the Irish Presidential elections in 1990 when Mary Robinson won, despite having come second to Brian Lenihan of Fianna Fail. Ireland also uses preferential voting and while Mr Lenihan had the largest share of the vote, he did not have the majority needed to win outright. When the votes of the third candidate, Austin Currie, were recounted, Ms Robinson, being the second preference of a majority of his supporters, got 80 percent of Mr Currie’s votes and overtook Mr Lenihan to become the seventh President of Ireland.


The agreed policies of Britain's new government

Generally fairly satisfactory for conservatives but a long way from the radical reform that is really needed, Still, incremental reform is the conservative way. Failure to eliminate the death tax is disappointing but Britons are long used to "fiddling" that one anyway. The main gain is there there will no longer be far-Left madmen in charge of the various ministries

David Cameron has agreed major concessions on the length for which a Parliament sits and tax policy to strike a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats, it emerged last night.

The new Government will legislate for fixed term Parliaments - meaning that Mr Cameron gives up his historic right to choose when he goes to the polls. Senior Government sources revealed that the two parties have agreed that they hope the next General Election will be held on May 7, 2015.

That move will alarm Tory MPs who assumed Mr Cameron might try to 'cut and run' and call a snap election at which the party would hope to win an overall majority, enabling it to ditch the Lib Dems.

In the biggest concession, Chancellor George Osborne has agreed to make the Lib Dem policy of lifting the income tax threshold to £10,000 a major priority. From April next year, the parties have agreed to make the first step with a 'significant' increase in the tax-free allowance. The move will benefit millions of low and middle income families.

But the Tories will pay for it with a significant tax rise - an increase in capital gains tax for non-business assets, such as someone's second home, so that the rate is close to the level of income tax.

The Tories have also agreed to kick their plan to raise the inheritance tax threshold, which the Lib Dems bitterly opposed, into the long grass. 'Inheritance tax has had to be sacrificed as a priority,' said a senior Tory source.

But Mr Cameron has insisted on attempting to press ahead with his plan to offer to a £150-a-year tax break for married couples, despite the fierce opposition of the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem MPs have agreed to abstain on the proposal when it comes to the Commons, meaning it should be passed into law despite Labour opposition.

A pledge to reduce Britain's eye-watering deficit is at the heart of the deal struck between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Government sources confirmed that the new coalition would 'significantly' accelerate the reduction of the deficit through slashing public spending rather than tax rises. Over the course of the next year, the new Government will cut non-frontline public services by £6billion.

On electoral reform, the Conservatives have agreed to hold a referendum on an alternative voting system and to pursue plans for a partly or wholly elected House of Lords.

They have also reached 'easy' agreement on what senior Government sources described as a 'Great Repeal Bill' to reverse Labour's Big Brother state. It will scrap ID cards, the new generation of biometric passports and protect trial by jury in a 'Freedom Bill'.

The Lib Dems have abandoned their controversial proposal for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Extraordinarily, they have instead agreed to the flagship Tory commitment to impose an annual cap on non-EU migrants.

Tory plans for a benefit crackdown, which will see claimants who refuse to work denied handouts, will go ahead.

And Mr Cameron's flagship 'free schools' programme, which will smash the state monopoly on education and allow charities, groups of parents and businesses to run state schools, will proceed as planned. The two parties have also struck a deal on a new 'pupil premium' which will mean schools getting extra funding for deprived schoolchildren.

The coalition government will remain committed to the Trident nuclear deterrent, though the Lib Dems will be free to campaign for alternatives.

The Lib Dem proposal for a 1 per cent mansion tax on properties worth £2million or more has been ditched.

The two parties have agreed to break up Britain's banks so that 'casino' investment arms are separated from old-fashioned retail banks. An independent commission will be established to draw up legislation.

The capital gains tax rise - bringing rates closer to those for income tax - will mean a big increase in tax rates on second homes, shares and other assets. Currently it is levied at 18 per cent.

The Government will introduce a new banking levy, even without international agreement, Government sources said, as well as new measures to curb City bonuses. The Tories and the Lib Dems have also found common ground on moves to create an 'ecofriendly', low-carbon economy.


Muslim acid attacker jailed for 30 years in for avenging family's 'dishonour'

Is the Teflon coating wearing off Muslims in Britain?

An acid attacker who left a 25-year-old man severely disfigured in a horrific plot to avenge his family’s “dishonour” was jailed for 30 years today.

Mohammed Vakas, 26, of Walthamstow, northeast London, was found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of conspiring with his sister Sadia Khatoon and her husband to murder Awais Akram.

The victim was targeted because of his intimate relationship with Ms Khatoon, 24, a married businesswoman he had met on Facebook, the court heard. When her husband, Shakeel Abassi, and Vakas, her brother, found out about it, they made her lure Mr Akram out of his flat to the scene of the attack.

There the victim was beaten and stabbed before Vakas poured concentrated sulphuric acid over his head, leaving him with 47 per cent burns and fighting for his life. Mr Akram survived but continues to undergo treatment for his injuries. He told the court that the attack was so painful he had wanted to die.

Fellow attackers Mohammed Adeel, 20, also of Walthamstow, and a 17-year-old youth, who can now be named as Fabion Kuci, of Harlesden, northwest London, were convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. Adeel was jailed for 14 years and the youth was locked up for eight years.

Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, said that the horrifying case involved a “remorseless and heartless” plan.

“It was to punish and kill Mr Akram in the most cruel and sadistic way,” said Judge Barker. “This was a terrible crime and all right-thinking citizens reject the premise on which it was done. There is no honour, and plots and actions such as this have no place in our society.”

Describing the harrowing evidence given by Mr Akram in the trial, he said: “Few of us will have seen anything like that before and we must all hope we don’t see anything like that again.”

Mr Akram has had “innumerable” operations and has suffered permanent scarring as well as being “deeply affected psychologically”, the judge said. He continued to suffer from a fear which be believes “will be there for the rest of his life”, he added.

“He did not die but his suffering then and since is almost impossible to imagine and he is left in a living nightmare.”

Vakas was a “major and crucial part of the conspiracy” and was expecting the victim to suffer “an agonising death”, the judge said, while Khatoon and her husband “were central to this plan and should have been in the dock”.

One witness said the victim looked like a “cross between a zombie from a horror movie and the Incredible Hulk” after the attack in Leytonstone, East London.

Mr Akram did not know his attackers but realised what it was about after he heard the name “Sadia”. He told how the attack began after he heard footsteps behind him.

“Somebody hit me on my leg first from behind and then I fell on the ground and then two, three or four people surrounded me and then they all started to assault me by beating, then they threw acid before they left.

“At that time I did not know that this was acid, when they were trying to push it into my mouth, but I knew that there was something very dangerous that they were trying to force into my mouth. This is why I tried to cover my mouth, but he did throw it on me.”

Mr Akram described the excruciating pain as the sulphuric acid — a drain clearer — was poured over his head and body.

“When I started feeling this, I did not know how to understand it. I started burning, my whole body started to burn. At that point I just felt that I would be dead. Death was, I felt, a better solution than to be burning like this...

“At that time I wasn’t conscious enough to understand but whenever I think of it now I really start shaking and shivering, and I can’t believe that someone can do this to another person.”

During the plot, the men received instructions from Khatoon’s husband, Abassi, who was in a hotel room near Heathrow with his wife. She was on the phone to the unsuspecting victim who was telling her his whereabouts.

Khatoon and her 32-year-old husband have disappeared in Pakistan and detectives say they now fear for her safety.

Police hailed Mr Akram’s bravery in coming forward to give evidence against his attackers despite being deeply traumatised by what happened. One officer described him as an “incredible young man”.


Useless British police again

Hero students leap into river to save drowning woman - after police REFUSE to rescue her. The cowardly police concerned should be castrated, if there is anything there to castrate

Three students risked their lives by jumping into a river to save a drowning woman - after police refused to rescue her as it was not their 'responsibility'. The 18-year-olds took action after spotting the victim shouting for help and struggling to keep her head above the water level.

Police were at the scene, but said it was up to the Fire and Rescue Service to save the 37-year-old. Instead, officers held back the crowd from the edge of the River Clyde's bank - lifebelts were being thrown into the water, but they were out of the woman's reach.

Graham McGrath, Rosie Lucey and Reece Black, who were walking along the Clyde towards Glasgow Green, jumped into the river near Albert Bridge after it became apparent the officers were not going to.

After dragging the unconscious woman to the bank, Miss Lucey carried out CPR on the victim - whose lips were blue. They were told the woman was close to death and that they had saved her life.

Mr McGrath said: 'There was a woman in the water shouting for help. There was somebody throwing lifebelts to her, but she couldn't get to them. ‘The police were holding people back from the edge of the bridge. It became apparent nobody was doing anything else. She was getting lower and lower in the water.' Miss Lucey said: 'We realised we were watching someone drown.'

Mr McGrath and Miss Lucey jumped in and pulled her to the bank. Mr Black then waded in and dragged all three ashore. The trio, who are all first-year students at Glasgow University, yesterday recalled the rescue, which happened at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Mr Black said: ‘She was gone. She’d been under the water for two minutes. Her lips were blue and her tongue was white. She was frothing at the mouth. ‘We couldn’t find a pulse anywhere but we kept on going. She eventually started gurgling and a lot of water came out her mouth. ‘I’m still shaken up. We were told she would have almost definitely died but we gave her a 50/50 chance.’

A police spokesman said: ‘A 37-year old woman jumped into the Clyde and was rescued by a member of the public prior to the arrival of the emergency services. ‘As a matter of procedure it’s not the responsibility of the police to go in the water, it’s the Fire and Rescue service.’

George Parsonage of Glasgow Humane Society described the efforts of the students as ‘wonderful’. He told the Scottish Herald: ‘It was heroic. It was really remarkable for three youngsters to do that. I thought it was wonderful.’



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 or 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.


11 May, 2010

Man Commits Suicide Over Racism Accusation

Political correctness does not just infect the United States. It affects our entire Western family. An extreme, though revealing story out of New Zealand today: Two friends, a white man and a black man, saw some immigration officers outside their office. The white man jokingly said to his friend, "You'd better hide." A trifle indelicate perhaps, but like most normal people, the black guy didn't care and interpreted this as a joke. Both men probably thought nothing of it.

However, one of those insufferable busybodies that constantly feel the need to police our words and thoughts reported this deeply serious matter to company higher-ups. Such is the world we live in that the white man was immediately suspended from his job. Devastated, Roy Amor, 61 years old, shot himself.

See here

Who benefits from this system? Certainly, not the family of Mr. Amor, who leaves behind a wife and his grown-up son and daughter. Certainly, not the unidentified black man, who didn't care about the joke, attended Mr. Amor's funeral, and lost a friend. Certainly, not the company, which lost a good worker by all accounts and clearly someone who valued his job and held it to be an important part of his life. Has racial justice somehow been advanced by this incident? Is New Zealand somehow a better country because a this man was driven to such despair that he took his own life? Does anyone touched by this incident feel that political correctness somehow has made their country a better place?

Mr. Amor’s reaction was certainly extreme, and we have no way of knowing if there were other things in his life that drove him to take this terrible step. That said, it may have been sufficient in itself. The accusation of racism is the most serious charge that can be made in the Western world today. If you are a murderer, you will find plenty of people to explain away your conduct as the fault of society. They might even make a movie about you. Druggies and degenerates of all sorts are held either as innocent victims or perhaps even heroes, bravely transcending reactionary social norms. In the post-Christian West, where values are deconstructed with ease and all morality is held to be relative, racism is the only absolute sin and manifestation of true evil in the world. The ethnocentric white man takes over the position of Old Scratch.

Your friends and family can excuse any failing or misdeed, with that one terrible exception of racism. Regardless of the truth or falsity of the accusation, regardless of Mr. Amor’s probable protestations that it was just a joke, regardless that the “target” of the insensitive joke didn’t care, we can expect that Mr. Amor’s friends suddenly didn’t want to be associated with him, that colleagues didn’t return phone calls, that supervisors who valued his work suddenly regarded him as a liability. People who would have stood by him had he been drunk driving or addicted to heroin may have cut him off once the accusation of thoughtcrime was made, either out of self-righteousness or fear for their own careers. We don’t know all the reasons he did it, probably no one does except Mr. Amor himself. However, I am willing to bet that when Mr. Amor pulled the trigger, more than anything else, he must have felt totally abandoned and alone.

I extend my heartfelt sympathies to Mr. Amor and his family and friends. I hope whoever reported that joke feels the tortures of the damned for the rest of their miserable lives. Why do we fight? Because a society that accepts this is fundamentally sick and should not be tolerated. We are going to change this world so that we never have to see horrifying stories like this ever again.


Citizens United we stand

March 24, 2009, was a turning point in the long-running battle to restrict political speech, aka "campaign finance reform." On that day, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the conservative activist group Citizens United challenged the provisions of the McCain-Feingold law that had prohibited it from airing a documentary film, Hillary: The Movie, through video on demand within 30 days of any 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

In the course of the argument, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, an experienced Supreme Court litigator, argued that a 1990 precedent, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, gave the government the power to limit any political communication funded by a corporation, even a nonprofit such as Citizens United. Justice Samuel Alito asked Stewart if that power would extend to censoring political books published by corporations. Stewart responded -- consistent with the government's position at all stages of the case -- that yes, it would. There was an audible hush -- if such a thing is possible -- in the court. Then Justice Alito, appearing to speak for the room, merely said, "I find that pretty incredible."

Incredible or not, that was, and had been for many years, the position of the U.S. government. But until that moment, it seemed to have never quite sunken in with the justices. Americans are willing to accept far more abridgements of free speech than we sometimes like to believe, but the idea of banning books strikes an emotional chord that something described simply as "prohibitions and limits on campaign spending" does not. Americans may not always live up to the Bill of Rights, but Americans do not ban books. A stunned Court eventually asked the parties to reargue the case, to consider whether Austin should be overruled.

On reargument last September, Solicitor General Elena Kagan tried to control the damage, arguing that the government never actually had tried to censor books, even as she reaffirmed its claimed authority to do just that. She also stated that "pamphlets," unlike books, were clearly fair game for government censorship. (Former Federal Election Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky has noted that in fact the FEC has conducted lengthy investigations into whether certain books violated campaign finance laws, though it has not yet held that a book publisher violated the law through publication. And the FEC has attempted to penalize publishers of magazines and financial newsletters, only to be frustrated by the courts.) With the endgame of "campaign finance reform" finally laid out plainly, the Supreme Court's decision seemed a foregone conclusion. Sure enough, in January, the Court ruled that corporations, as associations of natural persons, have a right to spend funds from their general treasuries to support or oppose political candidates and causes -- including through the publication or distribution of books and movies.

Though this ruling is obviously a correct interpretation of the First Amendment, reaction to the Court's decision in Citizens United has been loud, often disingenuous, and in some cases nearly hysterical. President Obama used his State of the Union address to publicly scold the Court, in the process so mischaracterizing the Court's decision that he prompted Justice Alito's now famous, spontaneous rejoinder, "Not true."

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress and the states have been working overtime to come up with "fixes," ranging from the absurd (a Vermont legislator proposed forcing corporate sponsors to be identified every five seconds during any broadcast ad), to the merely pernicious (such as proposals that seek toimmobilize corporate speech by forcing corporations to hold a majority vote of shareholders before each and every expenditure). The fact that virtually all of these proposed "fixes" have been sponsored by Democrats, with the aim of silencing what they perceive to be the pro-Republican voices of the business community, merely illustrates once again the basic problem with campaign finance reform that Citizens United sought to alleviate: the desire to manipulate the law for partisan purposes.

CITIZENS UNITED IS AT ONCE both a potential game-changer and a decision whose "radicalism" has been wildly overstated. Why overstated? Well, to start, one would never guess from the left's hysteria that even prior to Citizens United, 28 states, representing roughly 60 percent of the U.S. population, already allowed corporations and unions to make expenditures promoting or opposing candidates for office in state elections; in 26 states, such corporate and union expenditures were unlimited. Moreover, while the first bans on corporate spending were enacted more than a century ago, prior to the 1990 Austin decision, the Supreme Court had never upheld a ban, or even a limitation, on independent expenditures supporting or opposing a political candidate. It was the misleading contention that the decision overturned "100 years of law and precedent," that appears to have evoked Justice Alito's "not true" response to the president's State of the Union comments.

The president also stated, again misleadingly, that the decision would open the door for foreign corporations to spend unlimited sums in American elections. In fact, another provision of federal law, not at issue in the case, already prohibits any foreign national, including foreign corporations, from spending money in any federal campaign. FEC regulations, which have the force of law, further prohibit any foreign national from playing any role in the political spending decisions of any U.S. corporation, political action committee, or association. And the Court specifically stated that Citizens United was not addressing these laws at all. So while some states may tweak their state rules in the wake of Citizens United to limit the ability of U.S. incorporated and head-quartered subsidiaries of foreign corporations to spend money in campaigns, the "foreign corporation" bogeyman is little more than leftist demagoguery.

What is much more alarming than the prospect of U.S. corporations with some foreign ownership participating in campaigns is the fact that the four most liberal justices on the Supreme Court would have upheld the Austin precedent, and with it the authority of the federal government to censor books and movies published, produced, or distributed by U.S. corporations. But by affirming the rights of citizens to speak out on political issues, even when organized through the corporate form, the Supreme Court quite rightly put political speech back at the core of the First Amendment.

After four decades in which the Court had given greater First Amendment protection to such activities as topless dancing, simulated child pornography, Internet porn, flag burning, and the transfer of stolen information than to political speech, Citizens United is a wonderful reaffirmation of the primacy of political speech in First Amendment jurisprudence. In that respect, the case has already been a constitutional game-changer. Future litigation is sure to follow, building on the success of Citizens United to free up the political system and strike down the still extensive web of regulation that envelops political speech.

Some of these challenges are already well under way. For example, under current federal law, an individual such as George Soros is free to spend $20 million to promote his favored candidates, but if two or more individuals get together to do the same thing, neither can contribute more than $5,000 to the effort. It is hard to see what anti-corruption purpose such a dichotomy serves, and in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January, plaintiffs argue that if it is not corrupting for one person to spend unlimited sums on independent expenditures, it is not corrupting if two or more people combine their resources to promote the candidates of their choice. A decision is expected soon. Expect, too, legal challenges to the federal prohibition on contributions by corporations directly to candidates -- if a $2,300 contribution from a corporate CEO or PAC is not corrupting, it is hard to see how a $2,300 contribution directly from a corporate treasury is corrupting.

MUCH LESS CLEAR is whether Citizens United will be a game-changer in electoral politics. The general consensus is that Citizens United favors Republicans, based on the widely held perception that corporations are more likely to support Republicans than Democrats. But this perception may not be true. Even before Citizens United, the federal government and most states also allowed corporations to operate political action committees (PACs), which could then solicit the corporation's managers and shareholders for voluntary contributions to the PAC, which in turn could contribute limited amounts to candidates or make independent expenditures to support candidates. But whereas corporate PACs typically gave about two-thirds of their contributions to Republicans during the 1990s and the first part of the last decade, peaking in the 2004 cycle at nearly 10 to 1 for the GOP, over the past three years corporate PACs have devoted a slim majority of their contributions to Democrats.

More importantly, there is good reason to doubt that Fortune 500 companies are going to start making large expenditures in political campaigns. As noted, even before Citizens United, 28 states allowed corporate and union spending on state and local political races, yet large-scale corporate spending was very rare in those states. Another sign that corporations are not eager to jump headfirst into political spending comes from the relatively low level of activity by corporate PACs. Among the Fortune 500 -- huge corporations that are all heavily regulated by the government -- only about 60 percent actually maintained PACs.

These PACs are subject to extensive regulation, which runs up operating costs to the point that the operating costs of PACs often total more than half of their total revenue. Corporations can, however, pay these operating costs directly from their corporate treasuries. Yet roughly half of these PACs' operating expenses were paid not by the corporations that established them, but out of funds donated to the PACs. In other words, even before Citizens United, corporate America could have roughly doubled the amount of money available in their PACs to use for political expenditures simply by paying the administrative and legal costs of operating the PAC from their general treasuries. Yet they did not. And only about 10 percent of PACs contributed the maximum legal amount in any election. All this suggests a lack of interest in political participation.

The truth is, the Fortune 500 prefer lobbying to campaigning. Even prior to McCain-Feingold, when corporations could support parties with "soft money," the Fortune 500 spent roughly 10 times as much money on lobbying as on political expenditures. As Edward Kangas, former chairman of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and of the Committee for Economic Development, said in the New York Times, explaining his support for McCain-Feingold, "We have lobbyists."

More here

A Pyrrhic victory for free speech in Canada

A nation now afraid

"In the end, the system worked." That is the re­frain still echoing across the corridors of pro­gressive academia after hate complaints against Ezra Le­vant’s now-defunct Western Standard and Maclean’s, Canada’s flagship magazine, were finally tossed out.

Levant's speech transgression was to republish some of the infamous Muhammad cartoons that had ignited Muslim rioting world wide. Maclean's close encounter with Canada's hate speech sentinels followed its excerpted publication of New York Times bestselling author Mark Steyn's thoughts on the dangers of radical Islam.

So, did the system work? That depends on how you measure success, or failure. Should we rejoice that two wrongs were finally righted? Or bemoan that they were pursued, in the first place, instead?

Long ago, in Dombrowski vs. Pfister, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan popularized the phrase "chilling effects" to describe the situation where people with controversial but legitimate things to say, self-censor themselves rather than risk running afoul of laws prohibiting certain speech. Brennan's insight, it turns out, holds the key to our answer.

Levant's and Steyn's ordeals have, for now, ended. But Canadian democracy's are only beginning. Theirs was a pyrrhic victory for public discourse.

Levant's legal vindication found him potentially answering to several human rights bodies for his alleged transgression, his good name officially sullied as a purveyor of hate, his mind legally threatened with official re-education for insensitivity and his publication finally bankrupted for crushing defence costs.

As Justice Brennan would say, the club of silencing had done its "chilling" job, without the need for a finding of guilt.

Maclean's, more mainstream and better-resourced than the niche Western Standard, survived its accusers. But to see any of this as a victory misses the point. If such wrongful accusations can be legally levelled to harass, hound and hurt even established media and renowned authors, can anyone really feel safe from rapacious censors, who may think to challenge popular wisdom or powerful censorship interests defending it?

What message is sent to malicious, or simply misguided, thought-accusers who think to silence them?

Thought persecution, not legal vindication, is the point. Legal vindication is evidence not of the absence of public harm from wrongful hate-speech complaints, but proof of its existence.

Steyn and Levant signify only the visible tip of a much larger chilling iceberg of public self-censorship lurking unspoken and unheard beneath, for ordinary Canadians' fear of reliving what happened to them. The harm of hate speech is visible, audible and measurable. The harm of public self-censorship is not. But it is no less injurious to a working democracy, for it. On the contrary, it is more insidious precisely because it is invisible, inaudible, and immeasurable. The injuries to democracy a self-governing people know, it can act to correct. The injuries it knows not, it cannot even prepare for.

If to be wrongfully accused is bad, then to be rightly vindicated is better. But it is still bad. Less worse cannot be democracy's standard for freedom to speak. Vindicating public thoughts wrongfully accused is not the same for democracy as is vindicating public acts wrongfully prosecuted.

If even a prominent person can be wrongly accused of manslaughter you may be wary of careless, not just reckless, misuse of that butcher knife. If a successful business is erroneously charged with embezzlement of funds you may pay more attention to how you manage those monies entrusted to your care. If a renowned figure is mistakenly alleged to have committed assault, you may think twice about making those casual threats.

But even undue care in the use of knives, diligence in regard for other people's property and respect for the force of ideas rather than the idea of force, hardly does democratic self-government any harm.

In contrast, wrongful legal accusations of hate speech will make you think twice, or thrice, before saying anything controversial. And that does do democratic self-government harm. Self-government, ultimately, depends on an informed not un-offended citizenry, unafraid to freely and fully speak as they think and to think as they speak on all the great and controversial issues of the day.

Dictatorships live, and often die, at the hands of publics who speak not enough for they fear too much. Democracy cannot, and must not.

It is said all great historical tragedies began with words. So, too, did great historical progress -- none greater than the idea of freedom to speak itself. It is said words can wound, visibly. So, too, can enforced silence, invisibly. It is said that the Holocaust began with words. It also began with book-burning. Words can be answered, with words. Book-burning can only be answered with more book-burning.

Where the idea is of force, there is no place for the force of ideas. The defining test of an effective dictatorship is how many rightful speakers it has wrongfully fined, jailed, or forcibly "re-educated," enforcing the politically correct line. The defining measure of a faltering democracy is how many rightful speakers it has wrongfully chilled and unknowingly self-censored, for mistaking that there is a politically correct line. Struggling democracies vindicate public speakers wrongfully accused. Strong ones don't legally accuse them in the first place.

So, did the system work, by vindicating Levant and Steyn? Only if our measure of success is the absence of dictatorship, not the pre-eminence of democracy.


Your regulators will protect you (NOT)

Story from Australia

THE Medical Practitioners Board is set to be sued for millions of dollars over Victoria's hepatitis C scandal as it emerges there could up to 100 victims.

Investigators are expanding their search for alleged victims of a hepatitis C-carrying doctor from 18 months to four years, involving thousands of patients. Detectives have told one victim they believe 100 women may have contracted the highly infectious disease.

In an unprecedented action, the medical board is facing legal action because it allegedly failed to protect patients.

Dr James Latham Peters, an anaesthetist, had a drug problem in the years before he is alleged to have infected women with hepatitis C at Croydon Day Surgery, Victoria's only late-term abortion clinic. The board registered Dr Peters despite his history of drug abuse and a 1996 conviction for falsely obtaining pethidine.

The medical board placed Dr Peters on its program for drug-abusing doctors and forced him to do drug tests for a year. It also limited his access to certain drugs until it was convinced he was clean and renewed his registration.

But his licence was suspended on February 15 after the Department of Human Services found 12 patients had been infected with a strain of hepatitis C genetically matched to the same virus carried by Dr Peters. It has also been revealed the females exposed to the doctor included teenagers wearing school uniforms when they went to the Croydon abortion clinic.

Legal sources claim the women could seek damages of about $300,000 each and if the number infected reaches 100 it would mean a $15 million damages claim.

One victim, Suzanne, said when she contacted a board member they had no explanation why Dr Peters was registered. "I wanted them to hear from a victim that the board is responsible for this," Suzanne said. "You don't give pedophile school teachers a second chance to go back into the classroom, so why do this for a drug-addicted doctor?"

Law firm Slater & Gordon is acting on behalf of seven women - three of whom have not been identified by the Health Department, suggesting there are more unreported cases. It is also investigating an eighth case.

The firm's leading medical lawyer, Paula Shelton, said: "My clients have been betrayed at a time when they have placed their trust and their health in the hands of a health professional. "Unfortunately, I think even more infections will come to light once women are contacted and tested."

She said the medical board was a statutory authority created by an Act of Parliament and any legal claim would be based on its breach of statutory duty to protect the community.



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 or 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.


10 May, 2010

Three-quarters of Britons want to emigrate with Australia the most popular destination

Badly misgoverned Britain is indeed a sad contrast with more conservative Australia. 13 years of Labour Party government have left Britain a wreck

Three in four Britons have considered moving abroad this year, research reveals. Three in ten said the poor state of the economy was their reason for wanting to emigrate, a survey found.

A quarter of those polled blamed the lack of job prospects while an eighth said a change in the pace of life was the main attraction.

The survey of 1,029 Britons, carried out for exchange brokers Currency UK, found Australia was the most popular destination, with a third of those polled saying they had considered moving down under.

Adrian Jacob, of Currency UK, said: 'Many Brits are concerned by the prospect of a hung Parliament and that the next four years will be dominated by huge tax rises, cuts in public service and inflation. 'People are concerned about the UK's economic strength and this is leading to Brits looking to get out.'


Now pin the tail on the donkey falls victim to British health and safety fears

The traditional children's party game pin the tail on the donkey is under threat because parents consider it a health and safety risk. The claim comes from retailers and parenting experts who say mothers and fathers are increasingly reluctant to put pins into the hands of youngsters.

The notion that today's children have to be wrapped in cotton wool and cannot be trusted with a pin will surprise the millions who played the game as children.

Tesco claims that sales of pin the tail on the donkey games have been outpaced by the pinata, an import from Mexico. Two years ago pin the tail on the donkey games were outselling the pinatas at a ratio of six to four. But sales of the Mexican party product have jumped 70 per cent in the past year and they now outsell the traditional favourite.

The supermarket's childrens' party buyer, Vicki Rolston, said: 'Some parents don't want to make pin the tail on the donkey games because of safety concerns.'

Nicola Lammond, of the parents' website netmums.co.uk, confirmed this, saying: 'Pin the tail on the donkey is a safety issue for some mums. If they have the game at all they prefer to make or buy versions with blue tac rather than pins.'

But some parents will wonder why the traditional game is considered more dangerous than the pinata. In the Mexican game, players have to batter brightly-coloured objects such as bulls and unicorns with a hammer until they burst open and sweets or toys fall out.


Britiain's epidemic of false rape claims continues

A young mother who falsely claimed she had been gang raped has been jailed for six months. Kay Hoofe - a mother of three, including a nine-week-old baby - lied about being attacked after police were contacted by her mother.

The court heard that Hoofe claimed she had been raped so the father of her two youngest children would get back together with her. The lies led to one of her alleged attackers being threatened by members of the community. He voluntarily went to police to give his side of the story.

A court heard that the false claims caused him problems with a contact application over his child - although they were resolved when Hoofe's lies were exposed.

The gang rape never took place and Hoofe, 24, of Briar Grove, Leigh, had consensual sex with the man quizzed about the 'attack'.

Rob Altham, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that in August, police received a call claiming Hoofe had been raped by five men. Officers visited her and she said that the previous night she had been in a Leigh pub with a friend, who left. She went to another pub to buy cigarettes.

Mr Altham said she claimed she was forced down a side street by five men who began to attack her. He said she had claimed that two of the men raped her in the street. Afterwards they called a taxi and went back with her to her home. While there, she was raped again before the men left, she claimed.

She repeated her allegations to officers and gave four names. The court heard that people in the community accused one man of raping her. He went to police to give his version of events. He was interviewed under caution but not arrested.

Officers studied CCTV footage and found nothing to support Hoofe's story, and witnesses did not support her allegation. She was interviewed under caution and initially maintained her story but later admitted she had been lying. She pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court heard that Hoofe had consensual sex with the man but claimed she had been raped so the father of her two youngest children would get back together with her.

Richard Dawson, defending, said she never intended the false allegation be brought to police attention. Her mother overheard her arguing with her partner about the rape claim and without Hoofe's knowledge rang police. 'Hoofe did not know how to extricate herself from the situation and made this ludicrous suggestion,'he said.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Rigby, of Wigan CID, said: 'This web of lies could have had dire consequences for Hoofe's alleged attackers. The stigma of being accused of an awful sex attack is not easy to shake off. 'For somebody to make up a story and falsely claim they have been raped completely undermines genuine victims.'


Tax chat could land you a £5,000 fine: British Big Brother law threatens innocent advice

Anybody who advises a friend to take out an Isa or gives them a similar tax-saving tip risks a £5,000 fine, experts warned yesterday.

They attacked proposed 'Big Brother' powers for HM Revenue and Customs which could ensnare those simply trying to help a friend, relative or colleague to cut their tax bill.

Innocent victims could include a person who mentions to a friend in the pub that an Isa is a way of saving £10,200 a year tax-free.

Even a vicar who encourages the congregation to donate money using the Gift Aid envelopes, rather than putting cash straight into the Sunday collection, may fall into the trap.

Charities could also be hit by the draconian new 'tax avoidance' law, experts claim. It will make it an offence to hold any conversation - even in private, with friends - if it offers clues on how to pay less tax.

Professor Anne Redston, a tax and legal expert from King's College, London, described the proposed legislation as 'dangerous, disproportionate and an erosion of fundamental freedoms'. She warned: 'It effectively criminalises the provision of ordinary advice on taxation by the man in the street.'

The Chartered Institute of Taxation called for the draft Bill containing the powers to be 'torn up'. Tax policy director John Whiting said the rules are 'patently absurd' and must be rewritten - or risk turning people who are trying to help into criminals.

The proposed rules are contained in the Tax Agents: Deliberate Wrongdoing draft Bill, which is trying to crack down on any 'tax agent' whose advice leads to a 'loss of tax' for HMRC. It is the definition of a 'tax agent' which is fuelling much of the controversy as it includes anybody who gives tax advice 'free of charge' and 'otherwise than in the course of business'.

This means it is not just tax professionals, such as accountants and financial advisers, but anybody who suggests ways of cutting a tax bill, even though they are completely legal.

Tax evaders such as multi-millionaires who do not pay a penny in income tax are targeted, but so is anybody who tries to make use of legal tax-saving tips.

The consequences for offering well-meaning advice such as pointing out that saving into a pension attracts tax relief could be extremely expensive, with fines of up to £5,000.

Victims could also be forced to pay a fine worth 100 per cent of the 'lost revenue' that HMRC would have got if the advice had not been followed.

Mike Warburton, of accountants Grant Thornton, said: 'This is really draconian stuff. It is Big Brother. 'It means everybody will have to tread carefully before they talk to anybody on any financial matter.'

Experts accuse HMRC of trying to grab as much tax as possible to help fill the black hole in the nation's finances.

An HMRC spokesman said: 'The draft legislation is not intended to target anyone giving fair and honest tax advice. "Deliberate wrongdoing" means the same as "fraud" or "dishonesty". 'Providing advice to clients about how they might best order their affairs, including tax planning and tax avoidance, cannot trigger the legislation in the absence of such fraud.'



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 or 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.


9 May, 2010

Obama's good luck terrorism strategy

Politically correct security policies increase risk of attack

Responding to Republican charges that Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad's plot failed only because of luck, Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat, said, "What's wrong with being lucky?"

Nothing at all - until the luck runs out.

Two potentially devastating terror attacks in five months failed only because of terrorist incompetence. Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was unable to ignite his suicide bomb, sparing the lives of passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Had Mr. Shahzad's car bomb been assembled with greater care, hundreds of people at Times Square might have been killed or wounded. They were lucky, indeed.

There was only bad luck for the victims of Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Luck also ran out for the victims of Arkansas recruiting station shooter Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. Each of these recent incidents reminds us that policies pursued by the Obama administration have made the United States measurably less safe from terrorist attacks.

Consider the contribution administration policies may have made to the near success of Mr. Shahzad's attack. It was reported last week that Mr. Shahzad was on the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Enforcement Compliance System list as late as 2008. The Obama administration removed him from that list. He also was under scrutiny of the national Joint Terrorism Task Force until the Obama administration waved it off the case.

Mr. Shahzad was being watched for very good reasons. Like Maj. Hasan and Mr. Abdulmutallab, he had ties to American-born Muslim radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He had family connections to the Mehsud clan, which plays a leading role in the Pakistan Taliban. He traveled regularly to the Pakistani frontier area, which is the epicenter of violent religious extremism in that country. None of these things automatically made him a terrorist, but they did provide a rational basis for keeping a close watch on Mr. Shahzad. The Obama administration disagrees with the rationale, apparently obsessed with downplaying the possibility that any Muslim could ever be a domestic terrorist. It is the Obama team's perverse twist on racial and ethnic profiling.

These disturbing revelations about the case of Mr. Shahzad raise pertinent questions regarding U.S. domestic security. Who gave the order to shut down surveillance of Mr. Shahzad? Who removed him from the Traveler Enforcement Compliance System list? Who else has been removed from this and other lists and why? Were they removed simply because they were Muslims and the administration believed that ipso facto they were being persecuted unfairly ? What have they been up to since being freed of government scrutiny?

A top-to-bottom review of all such actions taken by the Obama administration is in order. The public deserves to know whether policy directives given since Mr. Obama took office materially contributed to the near success of Mr. Shahzad's terror plot. There is nothing wrong with luck. With this president, America needs all the luck it can get.


Why Many Western Intellectuals Hate Their Own Countries, Want to Change a Successful System, and Idealize Third World Tyrannies

By Barry Rubin

George Orwell wrote prophetically in 1943:
“In the last twenty years Western civilization has given the intellectual security without responsibility….It has educated him in skepticism while anchoring him almost immovably in the privileged class. He has been in the position of a young man living on an allowance from father whom he hates. The result is a deep feeling of guilt and resentment, not combined with any genuine desire to escape. But some psychological escape, some form of self-justification there must be....These creeds have the advantage that they aim at the impossible and therefore in effect demand very little….The life of an English gentleman and the moral attitudes of a saint can be enjoyed simultaneously….

“The fact that the eastern nations have shown themselves at least as warlike and bloodthirsty as the western ones, that so far from rejecting industrialism, the East is adopting it as swiftly as it can—this is irrelevant, since what is wanted is the mythos of the peaceful, religious and patriarchal East to set against the greedy and materialistic West….We shall be hearing a lot about the superiority of eastern civilization in the next few years.”

In the first paragraph, Orwell was focusing on how intellectuals transfer their allegiance to their country's enemies. At the time, he was talking about the Communist USSR and Nazi Germany. But he might just as well have been talking about their resentment of the existing system. It's interesting to approach this issue from a traditional kind of socialist or even Marxist approach:

Large sectors of Western intellectuals, culture producers, and unproductive segments of the upper middle class (the kind of people who work in higher-paid government jobs and non-profit organizations included) have long been deeply resentful of the capitalist ruling class. But rather than join with the toiling masses in an alliance (the historic Marxist view), they see the masses in their own country--the contemporary working class, small businesspeople, white-collar workers, and farmers--as reactionary materialists.

They see their chosen allies instead as those who are expected to be discontented with the system: the poor (who Marxists contemptuously called the lumpenproletariat), the young, racial minorities within the country, and a huge pool of new immigrants, legal or otherwise. There are also sympathies with radical regimes or revolutionary movements (today, often radical Islamist ones) abroad. That is not to say whether or not this alliance makes sense or can work. There are many weaknesses in this conception but this discussion will be left for another time.

By the way, one interesting feature here is the dropping of women's liberation issues, which is a subject that could also be analyzed at length. It is a return of the old left and radical nationalist practice of subordinating women's interests to a "larger" cause. One aspect that is important is that issues involving women's equality in Muslim-majority states or communities can thus be ignored.

Today, the basic strategy of this movement is a statist policy to gain control of society through bureaucratic power rather than revolution. Having already seized the commanding heights of idea production (culture, education, media), they would become an effective ruling class by centralizing power in a government (or European Union bureaucracy) that provides massive employment for them (directly and through grants or payments) and governs on the basis of regulations they produce. Who needs control of the means of production directly when one has control of a government body that regulates the means of production or huge amounts of capital?

Incidentally, Orwell dealt with this issue also in an essay. See how what he says corresponds to what's going on now, most clearly through the European Union which is replacing elected governments in its control over society:
"Laissez-faire capitalism gives way to planning and state interference, the mere owner loses power as against the technician and the bureaucrat, but Socialism--that is to say, what used to be called Socialism--shows no sign of emerging." Orwell viewed this system as an enemy of democratic socialism--as he did Stalinist Communism--since it is designed to benefit a new ruling class rather than the majority of the people.

A major tenet of this strategy is to gain popular support by offering "free" tax-funded benefits to supporters funneled through the government. But the main "redistribution of wealth" is not to promote some socialist-style equality but merely a way of buying votes and ensuring the new ruling class's power.

Orwell writes: "Power can sometimes be won or maintained without violence, but never without fraud because it is necessary to make use of the masses and the masses are led on by vague dreams of human brotherhood...."

Today, this how "social justice," "multiculturalism," and "political correctness" function as slogans used by the would-be new ruling class to mobilize popular support against the old ruling class. Lenin bragged that he would get the capitalists to sell him the rope by which to hang them. Today, the equivalent goes much further: persuading the capitalists (or their offspring) that they have to give up power because they want to be good, moral, fashionable, progressive people.

Of course, the result can be seen today in countries like Greece. As the economy's unproductive sector grows, luxury policies (including excessive environmental regulations) and pay-outs become too burdensome; business is strangled and over-taxed and society inevitably heads into a downward spiral. Escape is nearly impossible because those receiving massive benefits rebel against the cuts needed to save the country, while politicians are too fearful to take the required measures.

Conservative and right-wing groups that portray these people and their strategies as socialist and Marxist--much less liberals--are missing the point, using ideas decades out of date. One result of making this mistake is that their opponents can persuasively ridicule them as inaccurate and make appeals for support to large numbers of liberals and centrists who might otherwise be horrified by what's going on.

(Here's a simple proof: If the goal was redistribution of wealth, a very large portion of the Stimulus and other money would be going for projects to rebuild inner cities, provide jobs for poor people, and train them for productive employment and to open small businesses. Why is the Stimulus and the "jobs' bill" that followed doing so much less for working people and the poorer of society than the New Deal (which provided massive employment far more effectively on far less money) and President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty campaign? True the Stimulus was designed to deal with the economic downturn but if the administration was so ideologically bent in the direction its critics think, wouldn't that have affected its design?)

Back to Orwell. Note particularly the last sentence of Orwell's first paragraph: "The life of an English gentleman and the moral attitudes of a saint can be enjoyed simultaneously."

So you can drive your SUV and save the earth; enjoy a high living standard while telling average Americans and Chinese or Indians that they cannot morally have the same thing; cheer on totalitarian regimes and movements to oppress others (it's their culture to have dictators and torture dissidents, you see [sarcasm]) while yourself enjoying freedom. Even better, you can look down on those "uneducated," "backward," and "primitive" people with whom you have to co-exist who don't recognize that you know everything and they know nothing. And given that situation, there is no reason to listen to those people at all, even to take seriously and honestly rebut their arguments.

Regarding Orwell's second paragraph, imagine the stir if Orwell made such a remark today. Yet we are indeed living in a time when the West has rejected dictatorship, intolerance, and imperialism, though we hear endlessly about its real or alleged past history as defined by such categories. Meanwhile, elements of the Third World have adapted these same things. Imperialism is now operating in a reverse geographical direction. On the basis of past misdeeds, which have been corrected, the West is asked to countenance current misdeeds which endanger its survival.

An example that bears keeping in mind is as follows. Britain and France treated Germany terribly in the immediate aftermath of World War One, demanding it admit war guilt and pay huge reparations. Yet using these past sins as a rationale for giving concessions to Germany in the 1930s, a decade later, led to disaster. The situation, to put it mildly, had changed.

On the question of industrialization, I was taught this point almost forty years ago, on my first visit to China, when a Chinese worker explained to me that the dream of everyone in that country was to have a car, a big house, and other luxuries that people enjoyed in the West. And why shouldn't they have that dream if they are willing to work to fulfill it?

Here, though, are a couple of ideas that should be at the center of serious debate today but aren't:

--The true nature of the ideology and movement currently enjoying hegemony in Europe and North America, and why has it turned against the interests of the great majority of its own people, including the working class.

Someone should do a serious study of how the views of the 1960s-1970s radicals--not Marxism but rather new working class theory, viewing the American masses as benefitting from imperialism, and revolutionary youth movement ideas--are embodied in the current ideology.

--How the West has abandoned imperialism, hatred of other groups, chauvinistic nationalism, and aggression while elements in the Third World have taken on these characteristics, using them against the West and other Third World peoples.


Six months old and a baby can tell good from evil

This confirms much previous research suggesting that some ideas of right and wrong are genetically encoded. For a philosphically-grounded discussion of the matter, see here

Mothers and fathers might think they have few higher duties than teaching a sense of right and wrong to their children. But research suggests that their offspring may already be a step ahead of them.

Scientists have discovered that babies can start to make moral judgments by the age of six months and may be born with the ability to tell good from bad hard-wired into their brains.

Infants can even act as judge and jury in the nursery. Researchers who asked one-year-old babies to take away treats from a “naughty” puppet found they were sometimes also leaning over and smacking the figure on the head.

The research is being pioneered by a team of psychologists at the infant cognition centre at Yale University in Connecticut. Their findings go against the received wisdom that humans begin life with a moral “blank slate” and are shaped by their parents and social environment.

In their research, the scientists used the ability to tell helpful from unhelpful behaviour as an indication of moral judgment. In one experiment, they tested infants less than a year old playing with cuddly animals and puppets. Babies are unable to press buttons or pull levers to show their preferences so the scientists measured the amount of time a child was gazing at one object. Typically they stare longer at things that please them.

In one test, groups of babies aged between six months and a year watched an animated film of simple geometric shapes. A red ball with eyes tries to climb a hill. At different times, a yellow square gets behind it to help push it up the hill and a green triangle forces it back down again.

The babies watched it between six and 14 times, depending on their powers of concentration. They were then asked to “choose” between the “good guy” square, and the “bad guy” triangle. In 80% of cases the infants chose the helpful character against the unhelpful one.

In a second study, a toy dog tries to open a box. One teddy bear helps him but another sits on it to stop him getting inside. After watching it at least six times, the babies were asked to choose which bear they liked. Most opted for the friendly bear.

Paul Bloom, professor of psychology who heads the study team, said the research flew in the face of psychologists such as Sigmund Freud who believed humans began life as “amoral animals” and William James who described a baby’s mental life as “one great, blooming, buzzing confusion”.

“There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the idea that perhaps some sense of good and evil is bred in the bone,” Bloom said.

To establish whether babies were really responding to niceness and naughtiness the scientists devised another test in which a toy cat plays with a ball while a cuddly rabbit puppet stands on either side. When the cat loses the ball, the rabbit on the right side returns it to him but if the ball rolls the other way the rabbit on the left side picks it up and runs away with it. This time, one-year-old babies were asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Most took it from the pile of the naughty rabbit, who also ended up with a smack on the head for his bad behaviour.

Kiley Hamlin, author of the team’s Infant Morality report, said: “We spend a lot of time worrying about teaching the difference between good guys and bad guys in the world but this might be something that infants come to the world with.”

However, Nadja Reissland, a behavioural psychologist at Durham University, cautioned that adult assumptions may have coloured how a child’s actions were interpreted by the researchers. “Everything hinges on who decides what is moral,” said Reissland. “By saying pushing the ball up the hill is helpful, the researchers are making a moral judgment. The babies might just prefer to see things go up rather than down.

“In the other test, perhaps the bear closes the box to prevent the dog from getting in there because there is something dangerous inside. It is like a mother keeping children out of an area where there is something harmful.”

Reissland added that children started being socialised into knowing good from bad as soon as they were born.

Peter Willatts, a senior lecturer in psychology at Dundee University, said: “You cannot get inside the mind of the baby. You cannot ask them. You have to go on what most attracts their attention. “We now know that in the first six months babies learn things much quicker than we thought possible. What they are born with and what they learn is difficult to divide.”


Australia treats adult video gamers like children

THE head of one of the world's largest computer game publishers has accused Australia of censoring video games.

Frank Gibeau, the head of interactive powerhouse EA Games, weighed into the debate on whether games in Australia should be granted an R18+ rating by writing an open letter to the Government criticising its lack of support for the adult rating.

Mr Gibeau's comments come on the eve of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, which begins today and is expected to address the R18+ Rating proposal.

Australia is one of the few Western nations in the world which doesn't have an adult rating for games and it will take a unanimous verdict by all seven state representatives to change the classification.

More than 90,000 signatures have been collected in a petition calling for an R18+ rating by game retailers EB Games, GAME and review website PAL GN and delivered to each state's Attorney-General.

Mr Gibeau said the current policy forcing developers to rewrite game code was "censorship". "Government policies that don't allow for the rating of mature content in video games effectively censor entertainment choices for adults," he said. "These policies show a poor understanding of today's video gaming audience.

"Existing legislation in Australia that limits age ratings of games to 16 demonstrates a distance between those policies and the reality of the video game industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today."

Mr Gibeau said adult consumers were entitled to be responsible for their own entertainment choices and the classification system for films had done a good job protecting children from inappropriate content. "The spectrum of gamers is as wide as the viewership of television, movies, theatre, and the readers of books," he said.

"Governments don't insist that all books be written for children, or that all television shows be cartoons. "Adult gamers want their governments to treat them with the same respect they get as movie-goers and book readers. "Adult Australians should be allowed to choose the games they play, including those with mature themes."

Mr Gibeau also warns the existing Australian policy towards gaming classification could also have a negative financial impact on the many talented local developers. "Policy makers should consider the environment they create for game makers," he said. "Governments that design policies hostile to game developers and their creative medium will struggle to attract investment from the global industry."



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 or 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.


8 May, 2010

Useless British police again: Library forced to hire security guards to stop staff being threatened

For most of us, it is a welcome refuge where silence is still golden. But one library has had to hire bouncers after young thugs tore through the premises, 'terrorising and tormenting' two female staff and intimidating visitors.

Security staff were also needed to deal with groups drinking near the entrance of the premises.

Hundreds of pounds have been spent on bouncers in black jackets with high-visibility armbands to watch over the town library in King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Derrick Murphy, the county councillor responsible for cultural services, said: 'It was very intimidating for staff. The police were not doing anything about it. 'Children go into the library and they run around and make a lot of noise. They were engaging in antisocial behaviour. Children were running around, shouting and screaming.

'This was not "children being children". This was anti-social behaviour as laid out in law. 'The vast majority of people going into the library act perfectly normal but unfortunately there was a small minority that were not. 'We have a duty of care and responsibility to our staff to provide a safe and secure environment.'

The 105-year-old library was opened and funded by Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist who emigrated to the U.S. as a child. But it has recently become a focal point for troublemakers. As a result, bouncers were drafted to safeguard people visiting or working in the library when it stayed open late three times a week.

The council spent £13.25 an hour on a security guard to patrol the library for three hours until 8pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. The cover was provided by Norwich-based firm EventGuard, which normally handles security at nightclubs and football matches.

Local resident George Chappell, 67, who visits the library daily, said: 'Some of the kids got a bit unruly. The security guards provided a warning hand. I don't know whether it was used as prevention rather than cure.'

Kevin Smith, a retail assistant in a nearby cycle shop, added the mayhem would have put off visitors. 'You're not going to go if you have got trouble and need security guards outside,' he said.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: 'A community support officer has been designated a patrol by the library and moved on a number of people drinking in the area.'


Evangelist defends calling Islam inferior

Salvation through 'Christ alone'

Evangelist Franklin Graham was the undisputed center of attention Thursday during National Day of Prayer observances in the nation's capital, putting in an early morning appearance outside the Pentagon, speaking to 350 people on Capitol Hill and then meeting the media at a press conference afterward.

Despite the controversy that attended his participation, Mr. Graham's message was unchanging and unapologetic - that Islam is inferior to Christianity.

"I don't believe Muhammad can lead anyone to God, but salvation is through Christ alone," he told reporters outside the Cannon House Office Building caucus room. "I don't accept this notion that all roads lead to God."

He added, "What Islam does to women is wicked and evil," he added. "It's horrid, horrid. I'll stand up for women's rights every day of the week."

The Pentagon last month rescinded an invitation to Mr. Graham, eldest son of evangelist Billy Graham, to its annual National Day of Prayer event after Muslim members of the military complained about his 2001 remarks in the Wall Street Journal characterizing Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion."

"Those were statements nine years ago," Mr. Graham told reporters Thursday. "To be prevented from speaking at a Christian gathering is a shame."

The prayer day events went forward across the city despite a Wisconsin judge's ruling last month that the event was an unconstitutional mix of church and state. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb has delayed implementing her ruling while Obama administration lawyers prepare an appeal.

Mr. Obama signed the annual proclamation last week noting the National Day of Prayer, but for the second year in a row, the president took part in no public events Thursday to mark the day. During the Bush administration, National Day of Prayer organizers held an early morning prayer service at the White House attended by the president.

The lawsuit challenging the day was brought by Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group that opposes religious expression in public places.

Despite the cancelled invitation, Mr. Graham appeared at the Pentagon early Thursday. He and a handful of supporters and relatives including his wife, Jane, gathered on a sidewalk to pray. Then he held an impromptu press conference.

When asked how he felt about being cut from the Pentagon guest list, he replied, "It looks like Islam has gotten a pass. They are able to have their services, but just because I disagree ... I'm excluded," the Associated Press reported.

At the Capitol Hill event, James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, congratulated Mr. Graham for giving "a loving response to his critics." "We have a lot of opposition," Mr. Dobson continued, "but we have a God in heaven who hears us every time we open our mouths."

After Mr. Graham took the podium, he greeted members of other faiths present by saying, "I love you but please allow me to speak today as a minister of the Gospel. I don't want to offend anyone, but I only know how to pray and preach as the Bible instructs me."


So-called ‘anti-capitalism’ – which is underpinned by a powerful misanthropy – is the main barrier to progress today

The most predominant explanations of the economic crisis have to do with individual greed, irresponsible borrowing, excessive consumption and financiers’ reckless speculation.

Time and again, bankers and their bonuses are presented as proof of greed run amok and as the cause of the crisis. Denunciation of big bonuses is meant to denote a profound understanding of what went wrong. In last week’s televised leaders’ debate in Britain there were plenty of references to Sir Fred Goodwin and other bankers. On the other side of the Atlantic, Naomi Klein says that the banks’ culture is ‘an orgy of greed’. There is a strong moralistic streak running through the discussion of greedy bankers, which is reinforced by a condemnation of the apparently decadent practices among them – spending on booze, nights out with lapdancers, and so on.

In turn, an attack on the bonus culture has easily slipped over into an attack on a materialistic culture generally. For example, home-owners also stand accused of bringing on the financial crisis, by taking on mortgages that they couldn’t afford. In his book Reset, Kurt Andersen argues that everyone is to blame. Americans developed ‘an unfettered zeal for individual getting and spending’ in the decades before the crisis. ‘For 20 years we’ve had Homer Simpson’s spot-on caricature of the quintessential American: childish, irresponsible, wilfully oblivious, fat and happy’ (for more on Andersen, see here).

From this perspective, the recession is in fact welcomed as a salutary lesson for us all. The hope is that we will now constrain our impulses: less spending, less going out, and more time spent with the family – getting reacquainted with the ‘important things in life’. Greens in particular hope that the crisis will lead us to consume less and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Devin Leonard concludes his review of the book Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution with the following: ‘If there was ever a time to ponder the long-term consequences of our spending habits, it’s in the wake of the worst economic crisis in decades, which was fuelled by rampant consumer borrowing. Is it possible that we could save the planet and restore the economy at the same time?’

In prior crises, such as the 1930s, capitalism was faulted for not meeting needs, for not providing enough growth, jobs and income. The focus was on production – specifically the lack of expanding productive capacity – and the discussion was posed in terms of structural economic issues. If critics attacked excessive consumption, they focused on the consumption of the rich.

In contrast, today’s discussion is exceptionally superficial. It is preoccupied with individual behaviour and there is very little exploration of underlying economic forces. The current attacks on bankers is a caricature of criticism: they have much in common with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century populist prejudices about financiers and Jewish people. And what is truly unique today is the fact that criticisms of consumption blame us all, not just the rich. We’re all complicit, or so they say. In the past, the lack of mass consuming power was a problem that needed to be addressed – today’s critics say the issue is that we’ve got too much consuming power.
How ‘anti-capitalism’ undermines a critical perspective

Why are the prevailing perceptions of the crisis so superficial and backward? In a nutshell, because ‘anti-capitalist’ values now predominate in Western societies. I put ‘anti-capitalist’ in quote marks because this critique is not in fact against capitalism or the market economy per se; it is really against any form of economy that seeks to promote dynamic growth and development. And it is the old left that has been at the forefront of promoting this perspective. Traditionally, the left has used a crisis to expose the limitations of the market, while the right has usually sought to defend the system. But in the past two decades the left has become anti-development, anti-consumption and misanthropic, which has had the effect of redirecting criticism away from the market itself, and towards blaming humanity in general.

The shift towards an anti-development and anti-technology outlook, especially among so-called progressives, has affected the interpretation of the recession. Prior to the financial crash, the left criticised capitalism for being too dynamic, as if it could increase production and consumption limitlessly. In this respect, the left held as many illusions as the most staunchly pro-capitalist ideologue. This excessive dynamism was said to have negative consequences in many areas, especially the environment.

Those who argued that capitalism was too dynamic were caught off-guard by the financial crisis. They were not sure how to respond, given that the downturn was a stark reminder of the pain caused by a lack of economic growth and employment. But rather than argue that the crisis showed the need for consistent development, the left pivoted to reinterpret the crisis as the result of too much growth, too fast. Their implicit ideal is ‘sustainable development’, or stasis, rather than dynamism, and the crisis was claimed to be the result of losing the proper balance.

Similarly, the common understanding of the recession has been coloured by a pre-existing anti-consumption attitude. In the years running up to the arrival of the financial crisis, the left in particular criticised so-called excessive consumption. Their attack was sometimes directed against the higher earners, such as ‘fat cat’ executives, but more often than not against the broader consumer society. The masses’ desire to purchase more was now considered a bad thing, as it distorted values and would make people unhappy.

This anti-consumer prejudice was then utilised to explain the recession. Rather than argue that the recession had revealed that capitalism could not consistently raise living standards, the crash was put down to a futile search to keep up with the Joneses, especially for bigger and better houses. The crisis was a ‘credit crunch’, and the working class in particular was now criticised for this expanding credit. The reality is that workers’ real incomes had stagnated, and many people sought to take advantage of low interest rates to borrow so as to maintain their living standards. But their critics adopted a moralistic posture and admonished people for trying to live beyond their means.

Finally, an underlying misanthropic viewpoint has also contributed to a distorted discussion of the crisis. Recent years have seen a return of the ideas of the population scaremonger Thomas Malthus and his notion of economic limits. This outlook is most clearly expressed by environmentalists, who see people’s impact on the world as one-sidedly destructive. The consequence of this outlook is to argue that there are too many people on the planet and we should stop procreating. For example, after reviewing a variety of possible individual acts that could help the environment, Lisa Hymas writes in Grist: ‘But even in aggregate, all of these moves don’t come close to the impact of not bringing new human beings – particularly new Americans – into the world.’

The stress on limits has been used to interpret the recession as coming about as the result of seeking to extend beyond natural boundaries. Moreover, this anti-human outlook has made it more readily accepted that ‘we only have ourselves to blame’. It also means that a crisis that has brought much pain and suffering can be perversely greeted as a welcome development, since austerity conditions will mean there are fewer people taking cheap flights, driving cars on vacations, and otherwise spoiling Earth.

The misanthropic emphasis on flawed humans is also expressed via conspiracy theories. Such theories hold that wicked individuals are colluding behind the scenes and that people cannot be trusted. Historically, conspiracy theories were the province of the reactionary right, but in recent times the left has adopted them in a variety of areas, including health (for example, vaccines) and terrorism (for example, the 9/11 ‘truth’).

A conspiracy of bankers is now one of the main explanations given for understanding the crisis. In the US, this has taken the form of bashing Goldman Sachs. Again, left-leaning commentators are taking the lead. Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi is the most rabidly anti-Goldman, and his description of the firm – ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money’ – is now repeated ad nauseum by others. But a vampire squid was an image used by Nazis to describe Jewish financiers, and the description of Goldman as a ‘tribe’ is also an anti-Semitic trope. Taibbi may not be consciously anti-Semitic, but he is definitely conspiratorial. (And, in common with many writers on the liberal-left, he exhibits little desire to try to understand how financial markets actually work.)

The problem with focusing on conspiracies surrounding one firm like Goldman is not only that they are they wrong, but that they also direct our attention towards supposedly wicked individuals, and in turn towards our flawed human nature. The focus on corrupt individuals suggests that what is legal and allowed, what goes on in front of us, is otherwise okay, if not for nefarious goings-on behind the scenes. In reality, what is legal and apparent is the problem. Also, in a conspiratorial account that picks on one institution like Goldman, other groups that contributed to the crisis – such as politicians – are effectively absolved, and the broader systemic problems of the economy are dismissed.

All in all, from an anti-development, anti-consumption and misanthropic perspective, an economic crisis is not really something that provokes or requires a change in how society is organised. You might, as some have, even see benefits to a recession. Such an outlook undermines an active, aggressive response to overcome economic crisis conditions.
Using the state to keep a lid on growth

Compared with the popular perceptions of the crisis – which, as I have mentioned, focus on greedy bankers, senseless borrowers and mindless consumers – the discussion among economists, government officials and other professionals appears to be much more sophisticated. And yet a closer look shows that the same low horizons and anti-humanist tendencies found in the more widely held conversations can also be found in the economic arena, albeit expressed in more lofty theoretical terms.

With the arrival of the financial crisis, liberal-left politicians and economists proclaimed a new era had arrived. ‘Laissez-faire is finished’, said French President Nicholas Sarkozy. In his book Freefall, American economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote that the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers ‘may be to market fundamentalism… what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to communism’. Such strong pronouncements, with the references to the end of the free market, suggest that the debate is about the fundamentals of the economic system.

However, these economists are, as they say in the American West, all hat and no cattle. They do not back up their words with a robust alternative. Most liberal economists would identify themselves as neo-Keynesians, and yet the worst economic crisis since the 1930s is not enough for them to put forward a solid defence of Keynesian intervention. Yes, government bailouts in the West have been influenced by Keynesianism, but these have only been introduced as short-term rescue plans and stimulus packages, not as a counter-model for the longer term. Having gone into deficit to shore up sinking ships, government officials are now resigned to just wait and hope their efforts work.

Slumps in the past tended to lead to discussions about structural, ‘macro’ issues regarding the entire economy. But in response to this crisis, liberal economists have focused narrowly on the financial sphere. Of course, it was the financial panic in 2008 that set off a chain reaction, but the job of an economist should be to understand all of the economy – both the ‘real’ and financial sectors. Instead, fixating on finance means that economists’ efforts have been mainly spent on arguing for greater restrictions on financial practices. While certain regulations may be reasonable, this approach does not address why the economies in the US and UK became ‘financialised’ in the first place – that is, so skewed towards finance relative to industry. The preoccupation with finance mirrors the popular view of reckless bankers. And, for all their high-minded theories, liberal economists can be as populist as any in denouncing greedy bankers.

Moreover, the discussion of what is wrong with finance is itself revealing. Here, liberal economists have criticised their conservative opponents’ theories of finance, such as Efficient Market Hypothesis and Rational Expectations Hypothesis. While these theories uphold the concept of a rational economic man, the liberal counter-critique emphasises that the various players in the financial world act irrationally. While the ‘rational’ theories are abstract and open to criticism, the liberal approach is even worse, because it assumes that people are essentially senseless.

Some who stress irrationality, like economic historian Robert Skidelsky and behavioural economist Robert Schiller, see themselves as following the footsteps of Keynes’ writings about ‘animal spirits’. However, this is a retro-fitting of Keynes to suit today’s concerns. Keynes was more interested in structural categories than in narrow investigations of investor psychology. The trendy discussion of irrational behaviour in economics is one of the main ways that the general anti-humanist tendency in society expresses itself in economic theory.

Liberals’ calls for greater state intervention may appear on the surface to be a return to older social-democratic ideas, but in fact they represent something new. The impulse behind them is different: whereas in the past, the state was said to be deployed as a vehicle to enhance growth, now the emphasis is on state control of the economy, trying to keep a lid on destabilising propensities of capitalism, especially in finance. In this way, this stress on state regulation is more akin to the idealisation of a static economy promoted by greens than prior notions of state intervention......

Challenging the current consensus means confronting each of these points: insisting on the importance of production (and innovation in production); resisting austerity and focusing on expansion of the economy, rather than lowering horizons; and contesting the depiction of the world as unknowable and fearful, and encouraging an active, problem-solving attitude towards economic issues.

Truly to challenge this consensus, we have to recognise that ‘anti-capitalism’ is now the biggest barrier to progress. True progressives ought now to focus on challenging ‘anti-capitalism’ and the poisonous, anti-humanist notions that underpin it, if we are to have any hope of achieving the great aim of moving society forward to a time of plenty. Against those who preach the politics of limits, we should argue that the possibilities for humanity are limitless. The good news is that the economic constraints we face are largely of our own making, and represent first and foremost a failure of imagination – which means that it is within our control to do something about all this.


Australian Federal budget spending to target Muslim radicals in bid to boost national security

One of course hopes that it will do some good but I suspect that it is just pissing into the wind. Deporting Muslim criminals at the end of their sentences would undoubtedly be a lot more beneficial

MILLIONS of dollars will be spent trying to halt the spread of radical Islam as part of a big-spending Federal Budget package to bolster national security.

Tuesday's election-year Budget will include hundreds of millions of dollars for national security as Labor tackles concerns it has gone soft on border protection following the flood of asylum seekers in recent months.

The Government will announce "preventative" measures to counter the growth of radical terrorist cells across Australia. While the Government will be careful not to demonise Muslims with its policies, it is understood new programs will target the potential spread of radical extremism in the nation's jails.

Some states already have their own programs, aimed at stopping the rise of radical Islam in prisons. But the Budget is expected to outline a national scheme, with religious classes and better contact between inmates and their families.



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 or 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.


7 May, 2010

The British elite are misleading the public about Israel

Israel is being “delegitimised and demonised” by misinformed British public opinion, the country’s ambassador to the UK has claimed. Ron Prosor told The Times that there was a discrepancy between the Westminster government’s treatment of Israel and the position adopted by members of the public, media and universities which, he argued, could result in suppression of balanced discussion.

“Sometimes we feel people from the outside are pointing fingers at us instead of giving us a big hug, which is what we need in this region,” Mr Prosor said. “We are the only democracy in this region and the challenges we have against us are enormous. People are not aware of that — or not enough aware of that.

“I think governments are more aware of the challenges — and the relations between governments are very, very strong — but I am afraid because there is a gap between the Government and the public opinion this will, at the end of the day, go against Israel in the long term.”

Last month Mr Prosor’s deputy, Talya Lador-Fresher, was forced to flee anti-Israel activists after she gave a talk at Manchester University. A previous lecture she had agreed to give was cancelled after alleged threats.

The incident was condemned at the time by Mr Prosor, who said that it was indicative of the extremism in British universities. Speaking before a lecture and question and answer session hosted by the International Politics Association (IPA) of the University of St Andrews, he praised British-Israeli economic and scientific relations.

However, he added: “There is a feeling that the government relations are much better than the perspective of public opinion as is defined in the media, at the university level and at the NGO level. We have a serious situation where Israel is being delegitimised and demonised on a variety of issues which convey Israel as if it were really not the way we really are — a democratic country.”

Defending Israel against criticism of its settlement policy, which has strained relations between the state and the US, he said that it was not only reaching for peace but making concessions for it. “This is the first government in Israel, under Binyamin Netanyahu, who has basically put a freeze on settlements,” he said. “Is it the full monty? Probably not, but it shows what Israel wants to do.”

Speaking as Israeli-Palestine proximity talks were due to get underway, he welcomed the discussions but indicated that he believed them to be an unnecessary precursor to direct talks: “I am very, very happy we are beginning them. I personally don’t believe we need proximity talks but if they are the framework to go back into negotiations then so be it. We should be talking to each other.”

Although Mr Prosor did not face the same opposition in St Andrews as his colleague encountered in Manchester, a small band of protestors, alerted by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, assembled outside the building where he was due to speak. Last month a Scottish court threw out the case against members of the campaign who had been accused of racial aggravated conduct by protesting at a Jerusalem quartet concert during the Edinburgh International Festival.

Brandon Soeiro, the president of the IPA, defended his decision to invite the ambassador to speak. “The point of our society is to provide a platform for all speakers and provide insight to all the most pressing geopolitical questions of the day,” he said. “If we are not willing to engage in reasoned debate with reasonable people in a reasoned forum, then there can really be no hope for peace.”


Muslim fundamentalists want to ban tale of One Thousand and One Nights

The epic tale of One Thousand and One Nights may soon be banned in Egypt if a group of concerned citizens gets its way. A little-known organisation calling itself Lawyers without Restrictions recently filed a lawsuit calling for the iconic story collection to be confiscated and its publishers imprisoned.

The publishers, in this case, would be the Egyptian Government’s own General Authority of Culture. Efforts to contact Lawyers without Restrictions for comment were unsuccessful.

According to local press reports, the group’s lawsuit cites Article 178 of the Egyptian criminal code, which bans publication of material deemed “offensive to public decency”. Violations of that code bring a jail sentence of up to two years.

If successful, the action will deprive Egyptian readers of one of the most enduring cornerstones of ancient Middle Eastern literature. A hodge-podge collection of stories dating back as far as the 10th century and drawn from Arab, Persian and even Indian folktales, One Thousand and One Nights has no single author and no one definitive version. The tales are framed as a series of bedtime stories told to the King Shahrayar by his new wife Scheherazade. The bloodthirsty king was in the habit of marrying a new woman every night, then executing her in the morning.

But the crafty Scheherazade avoids this fate by telling her husband a series of stories. The nights usually end with a cliffhanger, leaving Shahrayar unable to carry out the death sentence if he wants to hear the ending. She is able to string out her storytelling for more than three years.

Many of the tales certainly do contain aspects that would be objectionable to readers with delicate sensibilities. These include plenty of Canterbury Tales-style bawdiness, including premarital and extramarital sex.

“There’s lots of sex and some of it is quite descriptive depending on what version you get,” said a Cairo-based professional translator.

The suit is the latest example of the hesba phenomenon at work in modern Egypt. A long-established aspect of Islamic jurisprudence that allows private citizens to police societal values, hesba claims have had a resurgence in recent years with critics saying it has become a convenient tactic for publicity seekers and fanatics. Recent targets of hesba suits include Nawal El Saadawi, the outspoken feminist writer, Naguib Sawiris, the Christian business tycoon, and Sayed al-Qimni, the secular intellectual who was awarded the State Award for Merit in Social Sciences in 2009.

Egyptian writers condemned the complaint, calling for the Prosecutor-General to dismiss it. “Those who want to destroy our heritage are taking the same path as the Taleban when they destroyed Buddha’s statutes,” Mohammed Salmawy said, promising to file a counter-complaint.

Ultimately, the lawsuit may not get far in court. But previous hesba lawsuits have proven successful, occasionally with surreal results.

The most notorious case was in 1995 when Nasr Abu Zayd, the prominent Cairo University linguist, lost a hesba suit based on his writings. A local court declared Abu Zayd an apostate, and involuntarily divorced him from his wife.


Leftist love of destruction on show in Australia

They're happy with anything that tears down the civilization they live in

By Andrew Bolt

I am told I've engineered the sacking of The Age's most popular columnist, noted barbarian Catherine Deveny. But I'm told that for this service to the state I must now be sacked in turn. The Left demands it. To even the score.

Yes, that really is how adolescent and tribal are the howlers who, like Deveny, have drowned out so much civilised debate. But first the background.

Deveny was fired on Tuesday by Age editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge for having sent more of her spittle-flecked tweets. This time she'd been lolling on her couch on Sunday, watching the Logies, when she spotted on the screen the demure Bindi Irwin, just 11.

Cleverly using her opposable thumbs, Deveny banged out this tweet: "I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid." This, she later explained, was one of her "grown up jokes".

Here's another, also sent this same wild night after she saw comedian Rove McManus with Tasma Walton, whom he married after his first wife died of cancer: "Rove and Tasma look so cute ... hope she doesn't die, too."

Still, it wasn't until two days later that Deveny was fired, with Ramadge declaring it was because "the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards we set at The Age".

This startled me, I admit, because until then I had no idea The Age kept any standards at all. Until then, Ramadge seemed happy to pimp a woman whose one trick was to throw a tantrum with as many foul words as she could get away with, in the hope that this would be seen as "brave", "courageous" and "challenging", as she rather forlornly put it this week.

Until then, The Age had promoted as its marque columnist a woman whose fame rested on yelling "get your rosaries off my ovaries" to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on television, or calling conservative broadcasters "c---s", or Anzacs "racists", or Liberal MP Peter Dutton a "boong" hater with the "face of a rapist".

I do not wish to speculate on what drove Deveny to scream so frantically for attention. But more than six months ago I warned The Age on my blog that it was exploiting someone it should instead help, and not simply because she was trashing its brand - or, indeed, pandering to a rising tide of f--- you barbarism that threatened us all.

The cause of my warning then was that Deveny had just written of standing up at a meeting to shout at Cardinal George Pell that she'd aborted her baby and wanted to know if it would go to hell.

Any wise and compassionate adult would consider this a scream of pain, fear and rage, and not at all a "grown up joke" or exercise of reason. Yet The Age continued to employ Deveny, applying that feral abacus of our dark age - subtracting sales gained from today's educated barbarians against those lost from the truly civilised, and calculating that our modern morons were many and monied.

Only this week did Ramadge conclude that in setting fire to herself, Deveny was now scorching his paper as well, as he could no doubt judge by the scathing coverage in the Herald Sun, and on A Current Affair and Today Tonight. And, who knows, maybe he read my blog as well.

IT'S that final possibility that stuck in the craw of some tribalists of the Left - who, like all collectivists, defend not principles but sides, and decided to save Deveny, or at least not lose her without an equal sacrifice from the "Right".

I read all this in the witterings of, for instance, Jonathan Green, who edits The Drum, blogsite of the ABC, once a bulwark of our culture rather than the hole in our hull. I'll quote him at length, because he's typical in both his arguments and in two critical evasions:
Age columnist Deveny was dumped yesterday by The Age's editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge, not because of anything she wrote for the paper, but because of some off-colour gags she sent out on Twitter ...

Ramadge ... gives the appearance of acting not as an immediate response to the Sunday night tweets (would Bindi get "laid" would Rove's new partner die etc) but rather in response to the heated kerfuffle drummed up by the usual stern guardians of media probity: Andrew Bolt, Neil Mitchell, A Current Affair and Today Tonight ...

All of which presents the unfortunate impression of The Age, a once fearless champion of journalistic diversity, caving to the sort of hypocritical, faux indignant cant that propels trash talk radio and tabloid TV.

LET'S ignore the fact that my contribution to this "heated kerfuffle" was, pre-sacking, a single blog item written when the outrage was already bubbling on The Age's own website.

But here we're already brought to Green's first evasion. Many Age readers - even its editor-in-chief, perhaps - have actually shared my disgust with Deveny's comments, despite being as of the Left as Green would demand.

This alone suggests that the prime author of her downfall is not me or some other "stern guardian of media probity" but Deveny herself. She sought fame and wealth through shocking people, and cannot now complain at finding those people genuinely shocked and her services no longer thought worth the expense.

Indeed, if there wasn't an edge beyond which lay disaster, no comedian such as Deveny would be able to profit by testing where it lay. They'd be merely pretending to be teetering on the painted edge of a fake volcano, and what's the daring in that?

As for my own role, I criticise many things about The Age, but never has its editor-in-chief shown any sign of taking notice. I suspect, then, that what made Ramadge sack Deveny was, above anything else, his own judgment on what she herself had done. Deveny set out to shock, Ramadge's readers were shocked, transaction complete.

But rather than blame Deveny for yet one more catastrophic lapse of taste, Green claims that any disgust at her comments cannot be honestly felt - or, as he puts it, is mere "hypocritical, faux indignant cant".

The most damning thing he can say himself is that Deveny told "off-colour gags" - in which benign category, I guess, you'd put Benny Hill sketches.

That brings me to Green's second typical evasion. As you may have noticed, not once has he repeated in full what Deveny tweeted on Logies night.

This evasion is astonishingly common among those of the pro-Deveny media Left. Check also the articles by comedian Ben Pobjie, Meanjin editor Sophie Cunningham, or the Leftist gossip site Crikey.

I suspect none of these Deveny defenders quoted the words that were the immediate cause of her sacking because they secretly knew that almost anyone with a skerrick of moral sense reading them afresh would instinctively know Deveny indeed crossed a deeply dug line, and that any revulsion was quite likely to be genuine.

Indeed, what's most likely to be faux is a Greenish reaction of sophisticated nonchalance. He is a father, after all, and cannot be so dead to disgust, despite having himself once called the Down syndrome child of conservative politician Sarah Palin "a mongrel".

There's another reason that Green, the Meanjin editor, the comedian and the Crikey writer may have been reluctant to quote Deveny's words. To do so would have destroyed their other petulant defence of one of their own - that the other side is just as bad. Most, for instance, complain that if Deveny is to be sacked, then so must I.

Deveny herself complains of double standards and says this is "about gender". Or as Cunningham puts it: "It just doesn't pay to be a badly behaved woman in this town, but it certainly seems to pay pretty well to be a badly behaved man - just how much is Andrew Bolt paid again?"

But as any fool but these would know, had I been so vile as to write as Deveny did, I guarantee I'd be hounded out of my job, too, and by some of these very same people now defending Deveny. But, of course, conservatives like me are more inclined to maintain moral standards than kick at them.

Yet there are indeed questions raised by Deveny's sacking. She is indeed to some extent correct to say "nobody's editorial policy should be dictated by 'Offended from Balwyn'."

BUT this is not because of any high-minded principle of free speech. After all, Deveny remains free even now to say all she likes about the need for child stars to be "laid".

The issue is solely whether The Age is obliged to print them, and whether it's in its interests to do so. In fact, there are more than 20 million people in this country whose columns The Age won't run, and there's no reason Deveny has any more right to publication than anyone else.

Still, in making the specific decision not to publish her, The Age runs the risk every media outlet takes when it restricts the range of views it presents.

By not running a Deveny, The Age may now lose the support of barbarians and a certain kind of resentful arts graduate, almost inevitably female and poor, who mistakes rage for truth, abuse for integrity, and unreason for mystic insight.

So be it. Or, more seriously, The Age may lose the last shred of its reputation for publishing truly daring stuff.

But wait. This is the newspaper that some years ago let go its last on-staff conservative columnist, no doubt to placate "Offended from Fitzroy" - the kind of Leftist Age reader who is offended by opinions contrary to her ill-founded own.

That's why The Age for years rarely, if ever, published opinion articles questioning global warming, and still won't run one pointing out its sacred "stolen generations" are a myth.

No screams then from Deveny that The Age should publish "challenging voices". No demands then from a Green that it must be "a fearless champion of journalistic diversity". No hour-long debate then on Jon Faine's show on ABC 774 on the silencing of a different point of view.

No, to such folk it is now a greater scandal for The Age to fire a Leftist who wanted an 11-year-old to get "laid" than to drop the last staff columnist who wanted John Howard to get elected.

That's all. The tribe rages for the loss not of a principle, but of a fellow barbarian. And for the civilised, that's one thing to fear, and another to almost cheer.


For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa


The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n'er do wells.

In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of "Middle Eastern appearance". Well of course he was (assuming it was a he) because the only characteristics the victim could see were the burqa and the sunglasses. Now unless the sunglasses had 'made in Iran' stamped on them, it's fair to say that the 'Middle Eastern appearance' line was attributed to the head to toe veiling of the Islamic burqa.

In my mind, the burqa has no place in Australian society. I would go as far as to say it is un-Australian. To me, the burqa represents the repressive domination of men over women, which has no place in our society and compromises some of the most important aspects of human communication. It also establishes a different set of rules and societal expectations in our hitherto homogenous society. Let me give you a couple of examples.

As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station. It's a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement. However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom. Little wonder bank bandits in the UK are now becoming burqa bandits.

The same can be said for any number of areas where photographic identification is required. How many of us would ask for the veil to be dropped so we can compare the photo with the burqa wearer's face? I suspect the fear of being called bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic or insensitive would prevent many from doing what they would not think twice about under normal circumstances. Put simply, the burqa separates and distances the wearer from the normal interactions with broader society.

But there is a greater reason the burqa needs to be binned. Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.

Perhaps some of you will consider that burqa wearing should be a matter of personal choice, consistent with the freedoms our forefathers fought for. I disagree. New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left. They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.

The burqa isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from. For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned in Australia.



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 or 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.


6 May, 2010

Secret trials still common in Britain

One year after ground-breaking reforms that were meant to open thousands of hearings to the media, more family courts are now more closed to public scrutiny, it is claimed today. Media organisations and lawyers both say that the campaign to open up the family courts has largely failed.

Changes rushed through Parliament before the election was announced will also make it even more difficult than before to report on the family courts. They predict that as a result, even fewer cases than now will be reported and only then, giving the broad gist of proceedings, rather than any detail.

One family lawyer, Rachel Atkins, of Schillings, told The Times that the recent changes were “a misguided and politically motivated fudge which has understandably satisfied neither side”.

The media could not report proceedings and the public was intimidated by the “possible threat of the media in court” from seeking access to justice. “Nowhere is this more apparent than in cases involving children,” she said.

The changes left uncertain what could be reported; would increase costs as litigants sought to block press access and, in some cases, imposed new limitations on what could be reported, she said.

Last autumn Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, pledged to bring in a new reporting regime that would make it easier for the press to report family cases, name witnesses and have access to evidence. But widespread and concerted opposition from senior judges downwards and including children’s groups led to his plans being substantially diluted. Provisions that slipped through in the “wash-up” of legislation in the final days before the last Parliament was dissolved leave proceedings still subject to anonmity provisions, including witnesses.

Further reforms to allow the media access to evidence will not be considered for another 18 months and will depend on the outcome of a review of the existing regime.

Mike Dodd, editor of Media Law, said that the proposals, which give local authority officials, social workers and medical staff automatic anonymity, are so complex that they will “reduce reporting of family cases, rather than increase it.”

The changes that were implemented had achieved the opposite effect from that originally wanted by Mr Straw, he added. “Rather than open family proceedings involving children to greater scrutiny, they succeeded in producing so-called reforms which surround attempts to report cases with a complex series of caveats and conditions.”

Far from boosting public confidence in family courts, he added, the provisions would undermine it.


British Judge frees burglar facing jail term... so he can go home to look after his DOG

A convicted burglar was let out of prison so he could take care of his dog. Daniel Reaney walked free after pleading with a judge to allow him home because there was no one to look after Staffordshire bull terrier Vinnie.

The 31-year-old criminal had been remanded in custody for ten days after being accused of assault - while already out on bail for burglary. But Judge David Pugsley decided to 'break all the conventions' and bail Reaney again on Tuesday.

That decision has been met with incredulity by critics who said there were other ways to deal with the dog - named after the burglar met football hardman turned actor Vinnie Jones.

Reaney is due to be sentenced tomorrow for five offences including burglary and had been warned he was likely to be jailed.

So when he appeared in court via a video link on the assault charge this week, he pleaded for three days of freedom to take care of the dog. He told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court: 'He's a Staffordshire bull terrier. He's lovely, he's like a child to me. 'I've had to get someone to go in to feed him for me, but I need to sort something out for him. I know I'll probably be sent to prison on Friday.'

Reaney claimed to have mended his ways. 'I've turned my life around, I've been doing voluntary work,' he said.

The bail application was opposed by prosecutors, who pointed out that Reaney was already on bail at the time of the alleged attack.

Judge Pugsley released him, adding he would be sent to prison if he failed to turn up at court tomorrow. He said: 'I'm breaking all the conventions here, but I'm going to grant you bail until Friday. I will reserve any breaches to myself, but I believe you will be here.'

Peter Chadwick, a member of Staffordshire Police's Citizens Panel, said: 'I'm a dog lover, but I don't think the judge was right to let him out. I'm sure something else could have been sorted out for the dog.'

Last night Reaney, of Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, said he had made arrangements for Vinnie and was 'grateful' to the court.


Lies of the Ethics Industry

How the champions of "good government" suppress speech and sow cynicism

Our 21st century politics might be regarded as an ethical golden age—at least in contrast to the corruption of the 19th century, when senators were on railroad payrolls and urban machines pilfered public treasuries. Yet according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, only 22 percent of citizens now trust government "almost always or most of the time."

Ironically, the trust deficit is partly a result of the very transparency rules adopted to encourage confidence in government. Enacted after some idiots in Richard Nixon's White House broke into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee—apparently guided by the aphorism "nothing's too cheap to steal"—transparency laws were supposed to shine light on the influence of cash. Which they did. But they also left an even bigger impression that money is the root of all public policy evil.

Four groups now work to convince us we have the worst government money can buy: (1) an ethics industry spawned in Washington by Watergate, which features nonprofits lobbying for regulation of speech they don't like; (2) journalists who collude with ethics purveyors, writing cheap-and-easy stories fitting a corruption narrative they create; (3) politicians, especially Democratic Progressive Era throwbacks, who think evil-doing can be stopped with new and better rules and who pander to the ethics industry, the media, and (ironically) to citizens convinced that Democrats are just as sleazy as Republicans; and (4) citizens, frustrated by the budget-busting consequences of the free lunches we accept from politicians.

The usual suspects will be familiar to viewers of TV news features devoted to topics like “keeping them honest” and “it’s your money.” A self-described citizens’ lobby, Common Cause, was founded in 1970. It spawned a series of other “Goo-Goo” (good government) nonprofits, including Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen in 1971; the Center for Responsive Politics in 1982, which massages finance records from candidate and PAC reports and feeds the information to friendly journalists who repeat “follow the money” as a mantra; and the Center for Public Integrity, created in 1989 by former 60 Minutes producer Charles Lewis, who launched investigative studies that focused on money as a one-size-fits-all explanation for bad politicians and policy.

The Goo-Goos reflect the Progressive Era faith that non-partisan elites, armed with ever-expanding rules and great expertise, can serve stupid people better than greedy elected officials can. And to make matters worse, every one of their failures to legislate political morality has only encouraged ethics-mongers to propose new-and-better “reforms.” Common Cause and its sister organizations want to limit political speech that they disapprove of—i.e., speech by evil corporations. And these crusading groups all share a common cause: Goo-Goo self-perpetuation. After all, those press release writers have mouths to feed, too.

Anyone in a college journalism program during the past several decades has been advised to “follow the money” as a key to political behavior. With that limited wisdom, a young reporter quickly learns she can make the front page with a story suggesting a money-policy nexus.

Assisting journalists in these exposés of political cash are their friends in the ethics industry, ready to supply “studies” and “reports,” which often mis-aggregate donations and expenditures (figures lie just like politicians do, and liars frequently employ figures). The Goo-Goos are always prepared with sky-is-falling quotes about the dire consequences of money impinging on democracy.

What never seems to occur to journalists—especially those in the non-real world of editorial boards—is that their own publishers spend unlimited cash to speak, cash they’ve accepted from their advertisers, who usually happen to be big bad corporations.

With progressivism still their dominant theology, Democrats constantly campaign for more “reform” of money in politics, occasionally joined by “maverick” Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But just like religious Republicans who get caught in the wrong beds or bathrooms, Democrats pay the hypocrisy price when they’re discovered with cash in their freezers or embarrassing gifts from criminals.

The Democratic-progressive dream is public financing of elections, an incumbent protection racket that would allow them to wage permanent campaigns with taxpayer-funded congressional staffs—all while appearing to equalize spending for electoral opponents, courtesy of your tax dollars.

Finally, the public’s disappointment with government can be traced to the most likely suspects of all: the public itself. Dangerously armed with a willingness to suspend belief in the law of supply and demand, the people are always eager for a free lunch of entitlement spending, while for dessert they blast politicians for running up giant deficits.

The thus-embattled citizen then turns on the TV and reacts with fury to stories by cable-babblers, pandering to their audience of political spectators with pretensions of keeping those sleazy pols honest.

Lost in this televised Kabuki theater is any serious attempt to address the really big public policy problems facing the country, including massive entitlement payouts for the elderly, the bipartisan jobs program known as national defense, and gigantic interest payments on the national debt. Who actually believes that removing money from politics will help fix any of that?

It all recalls the old cartoon strip character, Pogo, who declared: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”


Tea Partiers Defined by principle, not just protest

Tea Partiers defy the descriptions of their detractors

Many pundits and pollsters are working overtime to neatly identify and package the Tea Party movement and those who participate in it. Opinions and approaches are legion, creating more of a fog than a clear picture. As commentators and reporters strive to uncover deep hidden meanings, shocking revelations or even simply interesting angles for their stories, what is being overlooked are the plainly stated, published principles of the Tea Party movement. They are simple and finite: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. This threefold purpose is the only solid foundation for grasping the Tea Party movement. It also is the source of the movement's ever-growing expansion and power.

Some, like Frank Rich of the New York Times or Dana Milbank of The Washington Post continue to paint Tea Partiers as violent, racist rednecks. Commentators such as these try to come across as offering some measure of detached observation and analysis, but their words generally betray their motives. In an attempt to control the narrative concerning the Tea Party movement, they have launched ill-conceived verbal attacks, attempting to taint the public's opinion in a negative way.

For instance, Frank Rich's unfortunate comparison of Tea Partiers' protests against Obamacare to Kristallnacht not only was baseless fear-mongering, it fabricated a historical congruity where none exists.

Others, like The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, strive to present a comprehensive picture but achieve caricature, not truth:

"A 'movement' that encompasses gun nuts, tax protesters, devotees of the gold standard, Sarah Palin, insurance company lobbyists, 'constitutionalists' who have not read the Constitution, Medicare recipients who oppose government-run health care, crazy 'birthers' who claim President Obama was born in another country, a contingent of outright racists (come on, people, let's be real) and a bunch of fat-cat professional politicians pretending to be 'outsiders' is not a coherent intellectual or political force."

As such, Mr. Robinson completely misses the nature of the political force endowed in the Tea Party Movement.

In general, the media's attempt to portray Tea Partiers as racists has fizzled. Despite the presence of multitudes of cameras and microphones at the moment of claimed racial slurs on Capitol Hill on the weekend of the health care reform vote, no audio or video evidence has been discovered. No corroboration has been offered by anyone present, including the members of Congress who were the purported victims of racial invective. The dearth of proof continues despite the fact that Andrew Brietbart has offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who steps forward with verifiable evidence. Media outlets ran with reported anecdotal evidence but appear to have done little fact-checking. One can only conclude the evidence doesn't exist and that the actuality of the event was different from what was portrayed in the media.

Likewise, attempts to identify Tea Partiers as violent also have fizzled. There have been no reports of violence at Tea Party events. There have, however, been violent acts against those protesting Obamacare by those who favor it. For instance, at a town-hall health care meeting in St. Louis on Aug. 6, 2009, Kenneth Gladney, a black man selling American and "Don't Tread on Me" flags, was assaulted by men wearing SEIU (Service Employees International Union) shirts. On Sept. 3, 2009, Bill Rice, a 65-year-old man protesting Obamacare at a rally in Thousand Oaks, Calif., had his finger bitten off by a young Obamacare supporter. It seems Tea Party types have been the victims, not the perpetrators, of violence.

In recent weeks, pollsters have turned their attention to the demographics of the Tea Party movement. This scientific approach has yielded a more reliable snapshot of Tea Party participants. The initial picture departs considerably from the long-held assertions of the pundits. Members of the Tea Party movement were nearly universally dismissed as uneducated, racist rubes. This was propagated as unassailable, gospel truth. All this changed, however, on April 14, when the New York Times published the results of a poll it conducted with CBS, revealing that Tea Partiers generally are better educated and wealthier than the general public. Since then, we have witnessed many pundits suddenly turning on a dime, now dismissing Tea Party members as aloof elites, out of touch with America's common man.

A Quinnipiac University poll published on March 24 found that 55 percent of Tea Partiers are women, dispelling the myth that most are cantankerous old white Republican men who remain angered at the results of the 2008 presidential election because of racial bias. Further, a Gallup Poll taken March 26 through 28 found that 43 percent are registered Independents and 8 percent are registered Democrats. At a combined 51 percent, these put Republicans in the minority, at 49 percent.

Other commentators also have had a more rational approach through which they have striven to find a historical or sociological perspective through which to view the Tea Party movement. In her April 18 New York Times article, "Tea Party Supporters Doing Fine, but Angry Nonetheless," Kate Zernike attempts to link the Tea Party movement to "'60s-era conservatives" ). She veers way off course, however, when she quotes Rick Perlstein: "[T]he widest gulf between Tea Party supporters and others - Republicans and the public in general - are in their responses to questions about social issues, from gay marriage to abortion to immigration to global warming." These issues are inconsequential to the movement. Although they may be personally important to individuals associated with the Tea Party movement, they are not encompassed in the movement's agenda.

The power that the Tea Party movement wields is not its influence on social issues. It did not emerge from nothingness in the spring of 2009 out of concern over these. The power of the Tea Party movement resides in the primacy of its threefold focus: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets; in its promise to elect officials that embrace these principles; and in its participants' strong resolve to remain a loose-knit grass-roots movement. The magnitude of its power will be revealed this fall on Election Day. For now, its power is mostly stored as potential energy, but we already have had glimpses of just how powerful this movement is in the election of Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, and the nearly endless delay in the vote for health care reform, finally accomplished only in classic Rube Goldberg style. After Nov. 2, its power will continue to be visible in its promise vigilantly to monitor officeholders and to keep them accountable to these principles.

One question that keeps getting raised is whether the Tea Party movement is more of a conservative phenomenon or a libertarian one. There's a good reason onlookers feel they are getting mixed signals: The Tea Party movement forms a realm in which the two easily can converge. With a focus on fiscal responsibility and limited government, absent social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, immigration, global warming, the deployment of our military abroad, gun control, etc., libertarians and conservatives have found wholehearted agreement and have formed a powerful coalition to bring about change in Washington - change our Founding Fathers would have believed 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 or 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.


5 May, 2010

Italian city fines woman for wearing burqa

ITALIAN police have fined a woman 500 euros ($A712) for wearing a full Islamic veil - the first punishment of its kind in Italy but the latest in a wave of sanctions against the burqa in Europe.

The 26-year-old Tunisian woman was walking in a street in the northwestern city of Novara on Monday when she was stopped by police. "City police ticketed her last night and she will have to pay a 500-euro ($A712) fine," Novara municipal police official Mauro Franzinelli said. "As far as I know this is a first in Italy."

The woman was stopped by police outside a post office as she was walking with her husband. The husband produced identity documents for the couple but refused demands by the male officers for the woman to lift her veil so she could be identified. Police then called in another patrol which included a woman officer to carry out the face check.

Franzinelli, who is also a local official for the anti-immigration Northern League, said the city had adopted a decree in January banning the burqa in public. He said the interior ministry was aware of the ban and its comments had been taken into account.

Novara, in the Piedmont region, is a stronghold of the Northern League, a key party in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government. "It's a security problem. In a civilised community, people cannot walk around completely covered. How do they think they are going to integrate into our community with such habits?"

Novara's Northern League mayor, Massimo Giordano, was quoted as saying by La Stampa daily. "Husbands must acknowledge that in Italy, a woman is a man's equal, freedom is fundamental and there must be mutual respect in a family," the mayor added.

The question of whether to ban the burqa is a topic that has divided the Italian government however. The Northern League has proposed a law ordering a complete ban punishable by a 2000 euro fine, but the bill has never been debated.

While there is no specific legislation on the burqa, covering the face in public - even with a motorcycle helmet - has been banned in Italy since 1975. Northern League-controlled cities have used this law in the past to ban Islamic veils.

Belgium became the first country to pass a national ban on the burqa last Thursday and France's national assembly is soon to debate a ban sought by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French debate took a new twist last month when police fined a woman in Nantes for driving while wearing a burqa. The woman is refusing to pay the fine, while the government says it is also investigating her husband, who runs a halal butcher shop in the northwestern city, over allegations of polygamy.

One minister has suggested the Algerian-origin husband should be stripped of his French nationality. The husband has said he has "mistresses" but not the four wives that media reports have claimed.

Muslim leaders and rights groups have already criticised Belgium's law.

But a senior German member of the European parliament and ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for all of Europe to follow Belgium's lead and ban the full Islamic veil in public. "I wish that Germany - and all of Europe - would also outlaw the wearing of the burqa in all its forms," said Silvana Koch-Mehrin, European parliament vice-president and a member of Germany's Free Democrats (FDP), Merkel's junior coalition partner. "The burqa is a massive attack on women's rights, it is a mobile prison," she said in a commentary for the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.


Gag on South Park makes a mockery of freedom of expression

IF you are not a South Park viewer, the US animated sitcom is biting, funny, insurgent humour that rips into everyone and every group.

Gays? "You know what they say: You can't teach a gay dog straight tricks," South Park character Chef says. Jews? Here's sportscaster Frank: "I haven't seen a Jew run like that since Poland, 1938!" Germans? "Genetic engineering is man's way of correcting God's hideous mistakes, like German people," Mr Garrison says. Hippies? Says Eric Cartman: "I hate hippies! I mean, the way they always talk about `protectin' the earth' and then drive around in cars that get poor gas mileage and wear those stupid bracelets - I hate 'em! I wanna kick 'em in the nuts!" The disabled? Cartman says this: "Attention shoppers! Outside today, we have a cripple fight. Cripple fight, outside!"

Celebrities are not spared: Tom Cruise's animated form regularly appears in a closet. Neither are religious figures: Buddha does a line of coke. When South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker celebrated their 200th episode two weeks ago, all the offended icons lined up in a two-part episode to launch a class action against the town of South Park. Cruise wondered aloud: why was it that Mohammed was the only guy spared ridicule? It was a pointed reference to the 2006 South Park episode in which, after the Danish cartoons controversy, Mohammed appeared behind a black "CENSORED" box.

The 200th episode reintroduced Mohammed, this time in a bear suit. And that reignited a familiar culture clash. A Muslim website issued a warning against Stone and Parker. Publishing their addresses, the site warned they would end up like filmmaker Theo van Gogh, slain by a Muslim extremist in 2004 for his film Submission, which explored Islam's treatment of women.

The second episode put to air was then full of audio bleeps and blackout "CENSORED" blocks. This was not more black humour from the guys at South Park. This was censorship courtesy of the bosses at Comedy Central, the channel that airs the show. The honchos at Comedy Central also suppressed a speech about intimidation and fear that made no mention of Mohammed.

Outraged by the threat and the concomitant censorship, supporters rallied to the South Park cause.

Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris suggested May 20 should be "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". What began as a joke - Norris drew the prophet as a box of pasta, a tea cup and a domino - became a viral campaign to do exactly that in a few weeks.

Others are yawning. Just another silly grassfire we should not fuel with debate, they say. But instead of sleepwalking our way towards cultural capitulation, we should debate this. Discussing the boundaries around free speech is key to defending Western values in a civil society. Start with "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". As a cartoon, it was mildly amusing. As a campaign, it's crass and gratuitously offensive. That doesn't mean resorting to the law to ban the idea. Instead, a sophisticated society can condemn and ignore it. As James Taranto wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "We would not endorse or participate in an `Everybody Shout a Racial Slur Day' or an `Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day'."

But defending those who expose, debate and even poke fun at all of our cultural faults and foibles is altogether different. Whether you like it or not, South Park offers cutting-edge commentary on Western culture. Muslims are entitled to adhere to their religious rules. No one is forcing them to draw the prophet Mohammed. But that does not mean Western societies built on freedom of expression must do the same. It's like saying atheists can't take the Lord's name in vain because good Christians choose not to.

Parker and Stone made legitimate fun of the claim for special treatment by some Muslims. Remember that the claim is not for an equal playing field. Those who want Mohammed fenced off often have no qualms about launching assaults on Christianity. That hypocrisy caught the attention of the guys at South Park. And for that they ought to be supported, not suppressed.

They also ripped into the West's cultural weakness, the supine appeasement that flows from self-imposed censorship. If we were to plot a graph representing how we defend freedom of expression, the line is heading south towards self-censorship. Each time we step down from defending Western values such as freedom of expression, our retreat signals a weary acceptance that Islamic rules apply by default.

The effect on our culture is chilling. After the South Park controversy, CNN reported that the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art decided that its upcoming Islamic art exhibition would not include any depictions of the prophet Mohammed.

As the South Park creators said in an interview before airing the 200th episode, things might have been different if in 2005 the media had rallied together and published Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. Instead, as Parker said, "that guy has to be in hiding . . . because everyone just kind of left him out to dry". Somehow it was fine for South Park to feature Mohammed in 2001, but after the Danish cartoons controversy it wasn't fine. "Now, that's the new norm. Like, we lost."

Do Parker and Stone now have to surround themselves in protection? Speaking on CNN a few days after the South Park controversy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for Submission, said van Gogh was dead and she was still alive because she was surrounded by security guards. "I still have protection," she said. That will change only when more and more of us defend those values that have served us so well. Then: "There will be too many people to threaten and at that time I won't need protection." And the West will have reasserted itself as a confident culture, capable of defending freedom of expression.


Obama admin. trying to shut down free speech

Popular speech and political dissent have proved troublesome to President Barack Obama since the very beginning of his term in office. The Obama Administration began waging war on the minority of media outlets that did not worship at his altar immediately after he was sworn in. Just three days into his presidency Obama warned Congressional Republicans against listening to radio host Rush Limbaugh.

In April, Obama responded to a sycophantic question from CBS news anchor Harry Smith by falsely claiming Limbaugh and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck labeled Obama a "Nazi." Obama responded by identifying as "troublesome" "this kind of vitriol."

During the intervening 15 months, White House officials attempted to marginalize balanced news outlets such as the Fox News Channel by enlisting the support of the heretofore compliant news media. Fortunately, competing news outlets found the backbone -- if only temporarily -- to put the kibosh on Obama's attempts to blacklist FNC from the White House press pool.

These heavy-handed actions, as well as worries about the Obama Administration reinstituting the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" for talk radio are small time when one considers what the government is capable of accomplishing if a handful of current proposals are enacted.

First is the Federal Communication Commission's National Broadband Plan. There is an overabundance of big government programs contained in the plan for Americans to dislike. These range from having taxpayers fund broadband as a universal service to developing a process by which outside entities -- including the government -- can monitor how Americans use energy at home, just to name a few.

The NBP also proposes the FCC recapture nearly half of the radio spectrum used by today's 1,600 broadcast TV stations -- involuntarily, if need be -- and designate it for broadband services. The FCC identifies the swath of spectrum that is ideal for the latest wireless services as that which falls between 225 MHz and 3.7 GHz.

TV broadcasters occupy only five per cent of that spectrum with other actors -- including the government -- sitting on much larger chunks of spectrum, some of which lies fallow. Even Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, whose company would likely be the single biggest beneficiary of the National Broadband Plan, found the FCC's "looming spectrum shortage" claims to not be credible.

"I don't think the FCC should tinker with this," Seidenberg told the Council on Foreign Relations in April. "I don't think we'll have a spectrum shortage the way [the National Broadband Plan] suggests we will."

So why target broadcast spectrum?

The answer may lie in remarks made by confidantes to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. First, a few introductions are in order.

Fifteen years ago, Genachowski was senior policy advisor to then-FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. Hundt's chief of staff at the time was Blair Levin. Now, flash forward. Hundt served as a senior member of the Obama transition team and he is in close communication with Genachowski. Levin chaired the NBP task force that reported to Genachowski. Small world, eh?

Speaking before a Columbia University audience in March, Hundt discussed the intent of the NBP. He informed his audience that the goal to disenfranchise -- if not completely end -- broadcasting was crafted during his FCC days. "This is a little naughty," he offered as an example. "We delayed the transition to HDTV [high definition television] and fought a big battle against the whole idea."

The drive to move news and information away from broadcast and similar platforms to broadband would change the paradigm of how content is created he explained. "[P]eople will be permitted to create audiences that demand content instead of waiting for content to pull them together to shape an audience [emphasis added]." Hundt did not elaborate on his remarks. However, he did admit that the NBP is a stark departure from the current way of delivering news and information.

"It has actually been an essential characteristic of the media in the United States that we have never had a plan [for communications and the media]. And we have felt that was in the nature of our democracy and our capitalism to not have a plan. It's kind of interesting to think that we now we're imitating China," he observed.

Then in December 2009, Genachowski appointed Duke University law Professor Stuart Benjamin to his staff. Benjamin let on that his duties include advising Genachowski on radio spectrum use and First Amendment matters.

Benjamin has written many papers that include proposals to end broadcasting. In a 2009 paper he wrote, "Some [FCC] regulations that would be undesirable on their own will be desirable once we factor in the degree to which they will hasten the demise of over-the-air broadcasting." Given his very influential position at the FCC, this is like the school principal trying to kill off all of the students.

Still, would moving all news, information and entertainment to the Internet be such a bad thing? It seems so. In prepared remarks before a February audience, Lawrence Strickling argued that the days of a "hands off" approach by the government toward the Internet are over. As the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Strickling is the principal advisor to the president on telecommunications and information policy.

"We need Internet Policy 3.0," he argued, "… [because] we rely on the Internet for essential social purposes: health, energy, efficiency and education." He added, "There [should] be rules or laws created to protect our interests." Strickling was advocating for more than just the Obama administration's proposed "net neutrality" rules for the Internet. He argues for government intervention to regulate content on the Internet.

Fortunately, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals stymied -- at least temporarily -- the FCC from imposing the Fairness Doctrine on the Internet when it struck down the FCC's "net neutrality" tactics in the Comcast-BitTorrent case.

In response, the FCC is considering reclassifying the Internet by moving it from the lightly regulated Title I to the heavily regulated Title II section of the federal statute that governs the FCC's activities. Title I prohibits the FCC from exercising considerable regulatory authority over information systems. In contrast, industries such as telephony that fall under Title II can be abused like a rented mule. And they are. Subjecting the Internet to the harsh regulatory environment of Title II is deeply disturbing. Only China would applaud the move.

There is still more trouble on the horizon in the form of a bill introduced by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe last year. The innocuous sounding "Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S.773)" is anything but innocuous.

There are several alarming provisions including a call to study "the feasibility of an identity management and authentication program." In other words, a national digital ID program. There is also a requirement that certain information technology professionals be licensed by the federal government.

There are relatively few professions that require individuals to be licensed by the feds. So why license IT professionals? The cynic would argue that the easiest way to control the Internet is to control the IT personnel who manage the Internet.

Even more troublesome is the provision allowing the president to designate "nongovernmental information systems and networks" as "critical infrastructure systems and networks." The president would have authority to disconnect these private systems "in the interest of national security." Further, the president could "order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic" during an undefined "cybersecurity emergency."

It would be much easier for a president to shut down the Internet than to turn-off 1,600 individual television transmitters and whose content is much more cumbersome to monitor.

For good measure S.773 allows the Commerce Secretary to "have access to all relevant data concerning [government and private] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access." Subpoenas, warrants, or court orders would be unnecessary if Uncle Sam wanted to peek at private IT system data.

All of the foregoing is enough to make one's head spin. But the Obamunists are not through. In addition to its National Broadband Plan and "net neutrality" pronouncements, the FCC has dived headlong into another topic: manipulating news and information.

The Commission launched its "Future of the Media" effort earlier this year that falls not only well-outside its statutory charter, but happens to fall squarely inside Constitutional prohibitions firmly ensconced in the First Amendment. According to an FCC Public Notice, the project "will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties."

The Commission proposes to examine subject areas in which it has zero expertise including "business models and financial trends," "journalism," "[business] debt levels," "news staffing," and even the "newspapers and magazines" industry.

The project will also examine the roles and impact of schools and libraries, voter turnout, gaming systems, social media, "development of social capital," and numerous other matters in which the FCC has absolutely no authority to snoop.

A former Newsweek reporter and current Senior Advisor to the FCC Chairman, Steve Waldman, is heading up the "Future of Media" project. He struggled to convince an audience at the National Press Club in April that the U.S. Post Office established the precedent of the government playing a major role in media. Waldman's post office argument identically matches that of Mark Lloyd, the FCC's Chief Diversity Officer and former fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress. Prior to CAP, Lloyd ran a fringe media advocacy organization funded by George Soros's Open Society Institute.

In his 2006 book Prologue to a Farce Lloyd wrote, "[M]y focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration." He also argued, "the purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance." Lloyd finds the First Amendment an obstacle to what he believes are greater social goals that can be achieved only through government action. This attitude may explain why Lloyd has been an ardent cheerleader for Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Two years ago, Lloyd stated, "In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution -- a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela." Lloyd also commented that when independent media outlets criticized Chavez's policies, the Venezuelan dictator "began to take very seriously the media in his country." Lloyd's comments came in the middle of Chavez's two-year run of closing down nearly every single privately-owned media outlet in Venezuela, thereby ending all criticism of the government.


Judicial supremacy and the Constitution

We need to reclaim the Constitution from the Supreme Court

Many Americans are puzzled and angry about the judicial assault on religion, morality, and common sense that has been going on for the past few decades. People wonder, for example, how the First Amendment (which guarantees freedom of religion as well as separation of church and state) could possibly require the expulsion of religion from public life, or outlaw prayers at high-school football games and graduation ceremonies. To answer questions like these, one must understand how federal judges got the power to make such controversial political decisions in the first place, and how the judges used that power to bludgeon the American citizenry into believing that their power was legitimate.

Plato tells us in the Republic that democracies will always succumb to tyranny. The Framers of our Constitution certainly troubled themselves to prevent that from happening here, but the anti-Federalist who wrote under the name Brutus did not believe they had gone far enough — especially when it came to the Supreme Court. Though Alexander Hamilton described the Court as the “least dangerous branch,” Brutus thought that the Court would eventually expand its own power and, in the process, enable the national government to expand its power at the expense of the states.

That Brutus was something of a prophet is beyond question. The Supreme Court is certainly more powerful than it was in the beginning. And so is the national government. In fact, during the past half-century, the Court and the country seem to have embraced the idea of judicial supremacy — the doctrine that the Court is the exclusive, ultimate authority on all constitutional issues. But the Constitution is very clear on the judicial role, and it does not authorize judicial supremacy. Judicial supremacy is an unwarranted extension of the power of judicial review — a power that allows the Court to disregard or invalidate laws in a limited range of cases. To see this clearly we need to examine some of the Constitution’s key provisions very carefully.


The Constitution establishes three main branches of government. In Article I, Section 8, specific lawmaking powers are assigned to Congress. These powers include taxing and spending, declaring war and raising armies and navies, regulating the value of money, establishing the post office and other federal agencies, and finally, making laws that are deemed “necessary and proper” for making all the other powers effective. In Article II, Sections 2 and 3, the president is assigned the power to command the Army and Navy, to appoint ambassadors and other government officials (including federal judges), to negotiate treaties with foreign nations, and to enforce federal law in general.

Judicial power is assigned to the Supreme Court (and lower federal courts that Congress chooses to establish) in Article III, Section 2. The judicial power is precisely stated to be the power to decide cases and controversies arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States. This means that the decisions of federal courts are binding on the parties to the lawsuits. What it does not mean is that the decisions of these courts become laws in their own right or policies in the legislative sense.

After establishing and assigning powers to the national government, the Constitution places some limitations on how national power can be exercised. This is done first in Article I, Section 9, where the government is denied the power to pass ex post facto laws (criminal laws that apply retroactively) and bills of attainder (legislative acts criminalizing the conduct of particular individuals), and to suspend the judicial process for incarcerated persons (the writ of habeas corpus) except in times of rebellion or invasion — just to mention three examples. The following section, Article I, Section 10, places a similar set of limitations on the state governments.

After the Constitution was adopted, the First Congress proposed twelve amendments. Ten of them were adopted and became part of the Constitution in 1791. These amendments, now referred to as the Bill of Rights, were designed to impose additional limits on the national government. The First Amendment, for example, prohibits Congress from enacting any law “respecting an establishment of religion” or abridging “the free exercise thereof.” Other provisions in the Bill of Rights guarantee certain protections for persons accused of crime in federal courts, such as the right to trial by jury, the right to counsel, and the right not to incriminate oneself.

The final article in the Bill of Rights is the Tenth Amendment. This provision reserves to the states all powers not assigned to the federal government (e.g., in Articles I, II, or III) or denied to the states (e.g., in Article I, Section 10). Certain powers, usually called “concurrent powers,” granted to the federal government are obviously allowed to the states as well. These include, for example, the power to tax, the power to enact commercial regulations, the power to govern state militias, and the power to enforce the law generally. Powers that are assigned to the federal government but denied to the states are called “exclusive” powers. These include the power to declare war and make treaties with foreign nations, and other powers that require unified policy for the entire nation. Powers that are not assigned to the national government are deemed to reside solely in the states, and these are called “reserved” powers.


When concurrent powers conflict, Article VI of the Constitution grants supremacy to the federal government. State judges are instructed to invalidate conflicting state laws. If they fail to do this, Article III, Section 2, which extends national judicial power to all cases arising under the Constitution, empowers the federal courts to overrule the state courts. This is where the power of judicial review originates.

It is very important to make note of the precise constitutional language in these provisions, because the power and extent of judicial review hinges on the presence or absence of a single word.

The judicial power granted in Article III, Section 2, extends to all “cases and controversies, in law and equity, arising under the Constitution, Laws, and Treaties of the United States.”

The national-supremacy clause of Article VI, meanwhile, reads as follows: “This Constitution, the Laws Pursuant to it, and federal Treaties are the Supreme Law of the Land, anything in the constitution or laws of a state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

“Pursuant,” in this context, means “following from,” “in accordance with,” or just plain “constitutional.” Notice that the word is absent in the clause that gives the courts the right to decide cases, but present in the clause that instructs it as to what laws to apply. Since the federal courts have the power to hear all cases arising under federal law, but only laws pursuant to the Constitution are considered the supreme law of the land, a federal court deciding a case in which a national law applies must determine whether that law is pursuant to the Constitution.

Otherwise, the courts would be forced to apply unconstitutional laws when deciding cases. This would give us legislative supremacy, a doctrine no more intended by the Framers than was judicial supremacy. It is the absence of the word “pursuant” from Article III, Section 2, that extends the judicial power to unconstitutional as well as constitutional laws, thus authorizing the federal courts to disregard or invalidate acts of the national government.

In the Judiciary Act of 1789, Section 25, the First Congress enacted this understanding of the Constitution explicitly, authorizing the United States Supreme Court to reverse or affirm any judgment of a state’s highest court in which a national law is invalidated or in which a state law is upheld against a federal constitutional challenge. In other words, if a state court refuses to enforce (i.e., invalidates) a national law, then the Supreme Court is authorized to reverse or affirm that decision. If the federal court reverses the state court’s decision, it is effectively saying that the national law in question is pursuant to the Constitution (i.e., is “constitutional”), and that state governments have no right to ignore it. On the other hand, if the federal court affirms the state court’s decision, then it is effectively saying that the national law in question is not pursuant to the Constitution (i.e., is “unconstitutional”).

We may draw some important conclusions from this brief survey of constitutional provisions. First, judicial review is authorized in the Constitution, but only in a very restrictive form. It has nothing whatever to do with policymaking. Rather, constitutional judicial review is merely the power to disregard, or refuse to apply, a law that the court believes to be unconstitutional (not “pursuant” to the Constitution) when deciding a particular case. Strictly speaking, as Abraham Lincoln said of the notorious Dred Scott decision, the court’s decision applies only to the parties in that case — not to anyone else.

Second, the limited form of judicial review established in the Constitution is not an authorization for the courts to “strike down” or exterminate laws that the judges don’t happen to like. Rather, it is a device to prevent state courts from refusing to enforce valid national laws. Without such a device, it is unlikely that national law would ever have come to be enforced on a nationwide basis, and this means that there would never have been a “United States.”


Finally, James Madison’s notes on the Philadelphia Convention reveal that the Framers had a particular understanding of Article III, Section 2. During the discussion of the phrase extending the federal judicial power to cases arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States, this power was acknowledged to be limited to “cases of a judiciary nature.”

These are cases involving laws directed to the courts themselves — for example, jurisdictional statutes or constitutional provisions directing the courts to perform particular functions in specific ways. This suggests that one important reason for judicial review is to give the courts a way to protect themselves from efforts by other branches of government to control their activities in ways not authorized by the Constitution.

One such effort took place in the 1790s, when Pres. George Washington asked the Supreme Court for advice on a legal matter. The justices declined to offer such advice, stating in a letter to Washington that becoming advisers to the executive without a case before the Court would violate Article III’s provision extending the judicial power only to “cases and controversies.” Another example of such an effort occurred a decade later, and it resulted in what is now the most famous case in American constitutional law — Marbury v. Madison.

What the Constitution does not do is establish the Supreme Court as the ultimate or exclusive arbiter of all constitutional questions, entitled to issue binding proclamations to other agencies of government on any constitutional issue whatsoever. Judicial supremacy, in this sense, was largely unknown throughout the first century and a half of our nation’s constitutional existence, and was not claimed even by the Court itself until 1958.

In that year, the Court declared for the first time in its history that its constitutional decisions were the supreme law of the land, along with the Constitution itself, national laws, and federal treaties. This declaration effectively amended Article VI by judicial fiat, giving truth to the earlier remark of Chief Justice Hughes that “the Constitution is what the Court says it is.” Since that time, the Court has provided abundant evidence for the truth of Justice Scalia’s 1992 observation that “the imperial judiciary lives.”

So if Brutus’s dire prediction of ever-expanding judicial power was right, it is not because we have followed the Constitution. He was right because we have not followed it. Judicial supremacy is not the result of anything in the Constitution. It is the result of judges’ exercising powers not granted to them in the Constitution, and of cowardly politicians’ allowing them (and sometimes encouraging them) to get away with it. If Plato’s dire prediction about democracy is not to become true for us, we need to reclaim the Constitution from the Court.



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 or 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.


4 May, 2010

Thou shalt not pray: Atheists' bid to ban prayers before British council meetings - because they breach 'human rights' of non-believers

Militant atheists are trying to ban the age-old tradition of councils starting their meetings with Christian prayers by claiming it infringes the 'human rights' of non-believers.

The National Secular Society has instructed lawyers to take a town council in North Devon to court for a judicial review of the practice.

If the test case succeeds, Christian prayers - or those of any faith - would become illegal at thousands of councils.
Councils have been starting their meetings with prayers for centuries

Councils have been starting their meetings with prayers for centuries

Religious groups called the legal move an attack by 'aggressive atheists' on Britain's Christian heritage, while one mayor described it as 'religiously correct madness'.

It follows a succession of judicial rulings seen as undermining the Christian faith.

Last week Lord Justice Laws ruled that the sacking of a Christian relationship counsellor who refused to counsel homosexual couples on religious grounds was lawful because religious views cannot be protected by law.

And yesterday the Daily Mail told how preacher Dale Mcalpine was held in a cell for seven hours and charged a public order offence after telling a gay police community support officer that homosexuality was a sin.

The vast majority of councils choose to start meetings with Christian prayers. A handful begin with those of other faiths.

A survey by the Daily Mail of 181 of the 422 largest councils in England and Wales found 118 start their meetings with a prayer - of which nearly all were Christian. Only 63 had no prayers.

The NSS - which says it works to combat the influence of religion on governments - has instructed top legal firm Beachcroft to launch a judicial review against Bideford Town Council for starting its meetings with prayers.

The council has done so since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. But the NSS argues that prayers breach Article 9 of the Human Rights Act which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion for non-believers.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the NSS, said: 'If members of councils wish to pray before their meeting they can do it, preferably in another room.

'We've no problem with that. We are not infringing anyone's rights to worship. 'It has also been suggested the non-religious should leave the room during prayers. 'But if you are elected to serve a public body, why should you leave the room? It's an old-fashioned and inappropriate thing to do. 'The council is not there to promote religion, but to carry out services for the citizens of this country.'

Bideford's annual budget is a fraction of that of larger councils, making it a soft target unlikely to engage expensive lawyers to fight the NSS.

Town clerk George McLauchlan said: 'The council is aware there is a potential judicial review. 'I don't know why they have singled out Bideford. This is a national matter not just a local matter.'

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: 'Religious freedom should be respected. In a free and civilised society, councils and public bodies should be free to open meetings with prayer. 'It's a fundamental freedom. We are not a secular state and society as a whole benefits from Christian precepts.'

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: 'It's a tradition that's gone on for hundreds of years. 'This is really a move by aggressive atheism trying to shove Christianity out of public life. 'The council shouldn't back down. It definitely isn't in breach of human rights law. Parliament has prayers, is Parliament illegal?'

Prayers before meetings vary from an elaborate ceremony at Boston Council in Lincolnshire, to prayers praising the 'creator and sustainer of all things' at Leicester and the three-word Latin prayer, Domine Dirige Nos - meaning 'Lord guide us' - at the City of London.

A spokesman for Boston Council said: 'The mace bearer will knock on the door of the meeting so we all stand to attention, and then we all stand while the Lord's Prayer is read. It is a very old tradition and it would be a terrible shame to end it.'

At Tameside Council, Greater Manchester, a spokesman said: 'We have Christian prayers by a priest. It is a Christian country after all. I can't see why there would be a problem with it.'

Eric Silver, Mayor of Harrow Council, North London, which starts meetings with a prayer read by a rabbi, said: 'All councillors of many different faiths have enjoyed the tradition of prayers at full council meetings. 'To ban this activity just seems like religiously correct madness and to go against common sense.'


The Orwellian logic that's turning the faith Britain was built on into a crime

Terrifying as this may seem, the attempt to stamp out Christianity in Britain appears to be gathering pace.

Dale McAlpine was preaching to shoppers in Workington, Cumbria, that homosexuality is a sin when he found himself carted off by the police, locked up in a cell for seven hours and charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

It appears that two police community support officers - at least one of whom was gay - claimed he had caused distress to themselves and members of the public. Under our anti-discrimination laws, such distress is not to be permitted.

And so we have the oppressive and sinister situation where a gentle, unaggressive Christian is arrested and charged simply for preaching Christian principles.

It would appear that Christianity, the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based, is effectively being turned into a crime.

Surreally, this intolerant denial of freedom is being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality - but only towards approved groups.

Never has George Orwell's famous satirical observation, that some people are more equal than others, appeared more true.

The Cumbrian arrest comes hard on the heels of last week's ruling by Lord Justice Laws in the case of Gary McFarlane, who was dismissed as a Relate counsellor because he refused to give advice to samesex couples on sexual relationships.

The judge not only upheld Relate's case against McFarlane but went even further, saying in terms that the law could provide no legal protection for Christians who wish to live according to their religious principles.

And how did he arrive at this remarkable conclusion that deprives Christians of their rights? By cherry-picking human rights law.

The judge said merely that this conferred upon believers the right to 'hold or express' religious views. In fact, the European Convention on Human Rights goes much further, giving people the right to manifest 'freedom of thought, conscience and religion' through 'worship, teaching, practice and observance'.

Yet the judge chose not to mention this right to put religious beliefs into practice. Instead, he stated that giving legal protection to Christian beliefs was 'deeply unprincipled' and 'on the way to a theocracy'.

You really do have to scratch your head at this. The protection of religious conscience is a fundamental principle of a liberal and free society.

To equate this protection with theocracy - or the imposition of religious law upon a society - displays a remarkable intellectual and moral confusion, and has resulted in a ruling that is frighteningly illiberal and intolerant.

Of course, you could say that this is merely the result of human rights law for which Parliament rather than the judges is responsible.

But the courts could interpret that same human rights law very differently.

The problem is that the judges are refusing to strike a proper balance. Instead of arbitrating fairly between competing rights by granting exemptions for religious believers from anti-religious laws, they are choosing to impose secular values and thus destroy the right to live and work Christian principles.

What seems to have particularly offended Lord Justice Laws was the idea of protecting certain beliefs specifically because they were religious.

This was wrong, he said, because religious ideas were not applicable to the whole of society, since they existed only in the hearts of religious believers.

He thus appeared, totally, to miss the point - that freedom of conscience is supposedly a right for all, including minorities. It would seem that either a tin ear or, worse, an animosity towards religion drives all before it.

This was what caused the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to protest in a statement to the court that judges were effectively damning Christianity itself as discriminatory and, therefore, bigoted.

He was so alarmed by the apparent secular prejudice of the judiciary that he suggested the establishment of a special court to deal with cases of religious discrimination composed of judges with some understanding of religious issues.

As if to prove his point, Lord Justice Laws dismissed all his arguments out of hand with the patronising observation that Lord Carey had not understood the law.

On the contrary, it is surely Lord Justice Laws who does not understand that he and his fellow judges are mistaking secularism for neutrality - confusing the secular onslaught upon religion with the need to hold the ring between competing beliefs.

There is a long and growing list of British Christians who have been harassed by the police, sacked or otherwise fallen foul of authority simply for upholding their religious beliefs.

Pensioners have found the police on their doorstep accusing them of 'hate crime' for objecting to their council about a gay pride march or merely asking if they could distribute Christian leaflets alongside the gay rights literature.

A preacher who went around with a placard denouncing homosexuality was prosecuted even though he was the victim of an assault by onlookers who threw soil and water over him.

In the field of employment, Christians have been suspended or sacked for refusing to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies or place children for adoption with gay couples and for wearing a cross or praying with patients for their recovery.

Many of these cases involve the issue of homosexuality since this is the principal area where orthodox Christian beliefs cannot co-exist with the law.

This is in contrast to other contentious issues such as abortion, where the law specifically provides exemptions for conscience.

This is because unlike the specific and limited issue of abortion, the militant gay rights agenda represents an attack on the entire value system of our society by destroying the very idea that any sexual behaviour is normal.

Anyone who says homosexuality is not normal is, therefore, thrown to the wolves as a bigot.

This is what recently happened to the then Conservative parliamentary candidate Philip Lardner.

He said churches should not be forced to have practising homosexual clergy and Christians should not be penalised for politely saying that homosexuality is 'wrong'.

He also said that he would always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated fairly and to live as they wanted in private, but he would not accept that their behaviour was 'normal' or encourage children to indulge in it.

For this expression of traditional Christian - and, indeed, liberal - values, he was not only deselected as a Tory candidate at the speed of light on the grounds that his remarks were 'deeply offensive and unacceptable', but suspended from his job as a primary school teacher.

As Lardner has angrily observed, it appears that Christian views are no longer acceptable within the Conservative party.

Far from their historic role in defending the bedrock values of this society, the Tories have thus put themselves on the side of the illiberal onslaught on freedom of conscience.

Of course, true prejudice and bigotry are wrong, whether towards homosexuals or anyone else.

But the decent impulse to protect the rights of gay people is very different from trying to destroy the bedrock values of our society.

Yet, that is precisely what it has become. As a result, Britain is turning from a liberal Christian country - whose liberalism is rooted in its religious tradition - into an illiberal, oppressive secular state with no room for religious conscience.

Under the camouflage of human rights, this is the way freedom dies.


Christianity still has great power

April 30th, was the "celebration" of the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

My friend, Win, was an officer in South Vietnam's Army... a man of virtuous character... a husband and father of 3 beautiful little girls... in Saigon.

After the progressives in America's congress ensured our defeat in spite of our victory... the American forces were forced to "cut and run" and leave South Vietnam to her fate... the progressives forsook our charge... abandoned our mission... and believe me... the Freedom Fighters of South Vietnam suffered.

Win was immediately imprisoned... his house and property confiscated... his wife and three daughters cast out onto the streets.

Win spent five years in a "re-education" camp... and an additional three years in solitary confinement. His crime? It was not that he fought with the American forces... his crime was that he was a Catholic Believer... a Christian.

The three years in Solitary were laden with torture. Win would be hung upside down in some kind of bag from the ceiling... beaten with rods... and the demand? "Win... renounce this Jesus and the Church and we will let you go!"

Win's response... always the same... through tears... "Sirs, I love you and Jesus loves you."

While in the "re-education" camp the communists would allow Win's wife to see him through the bars once a week. One day she smuggled him a little sugar cube through the bars... a valuable treasure... Win quietly hid the sugar cube in his shirt... One of the other prisoners saw the exchange... and in the middle of the night came to Win demanding the sugar cube for himself.

Win protested but the unknown man then began to beg through tears that he needed that sugar cube. Win... out of compassion gave his little sugar cube to another desperate prisoner.

A couple of years later... Win was released finally... after 8 years... to a shack with his wife and children. One night there was a knock on the door... it was the unknown man who cried for the sugar cube. Win has no idea how the man found him.

The man took Win's hand and placed a small cube of solid gold in his palm... about the size of a sugar cube... through his tears the man said it was all that he had... but it was the only way he could say thanks for that simple sugar cube that night years ago.

Long story shorter... after Win escaped on one of those refugee boats under hail of communist fire... finally making it to California 8 years later through various tests and trials... Win reached into his pocket... alone in LA... and pulled out that lone cube of gold... found a place to sell it... he traded that cube of gold for $300... and with that $300 Win began a new life... in a new nation.

In another 8 years Win was able to secure the freedom of his wife and finally his 3 daughters... a 16 year journey from the day of his escape under fire.

Win is one of my heroes... Win is my friend... he is one of the very few good things that came out of the "Fall of Saigon."


Historic British liberties have been replaced by all-embracing regulation

Leading not to individual responsibility but to irresponsibility. No set of rules can be comprehensive enough or enforceable enough to replace the good judgment and sense of responsibility that comes from being a free citizen

Nothing better illustrates the British political class’s cluelessness about freedom than the fact that they think there is a contradiction between rights and responsibilities. Every contemporary British leader, from Tony Blair to Nick Clegg, has offered some variant of the idea that rights must be carefully balanced with responsibilities, in order that people’s exercise of freedom does not turn them into selfish beings, concerned only with satisfying their own instincts, who forget or discard their responsibility to behave as decent citizens. As one New Labour document puts it, ‘responsibilities provide a balance to those who would take advantage of rights’ (1).

What is extraordinary and profoundly revealing about this idea is that, in fact, ‘rights and responsibilities’, or better still freedom and morality, are not contradictory at all. On the contrary, one makes the other: it is the exercise of freedom, and the exercise of freedom alone, which makes us truly responsible individuals, conscious of and engaged with the consequences of our actions. It is the freedom to think for ourselves, to speak as we see fit, and to develop lifestyles of our choosing which allows us to develop a true sense of moral responsibility. And it is the curtailment of our liberties by the contemporary political elite which, ironically, both makes us feel irresponsible and, in a very real way, actually makes us irresponsible....

Cameron’s Conservatives have accepted, wholesale, the Blairite idea of using the state to strike a balance between individual liberty and social stability. Herbert says that our response to ‘increasing individualism’, where some people apparently want the freedom to do whatever they please, ‘must surely be the strengthening of society and its bonds and the promotion of responsibility’ (5). This echoes Blair’s attack in 1997 on ‘narrow individualism’ and his promise to counteract it by developing ‘a new balance between the individual and collective in which liberty could coexist with community values’ (6). All our political leaders feel a need to ‘strengthen society’ and they imagine that the best way to do that is by attacking and defeating ‘narrow individualism’ (7).

New Labour brought this debate to a head with the Ministry of Justice’s publication last month of a consultation paper titled People and Power: Shaping Democracy, Rights and Responsibilities. The paper explicitly discusses codifying individuals’ responsibilities to each other, the state and society, and explores how our liberties might sometimes have to be curtailed in order to ensure that we are fulfilling these responsibilities. New Labour is also keen to introduce a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which, according to the consultation paper, ‘would go some way towards addressing falling standards of behaviour’ and would help ‘entrench the ideal of social responsibility over time’ (8).

What is striking about the ‘rights and responsibilities’ debate is that our leaders clearly recognise that there is a social malaise today, a rupture in collective identities… yet the solutions they have put forward to this problem have only made it worse. In diagnosing the problem of a social malaise caused by ‘narrow individualism’ and individuals seeking to ‘take advantage of rights’, they are effectively projecting the profound, historic social and political crises that have generated contemporary atomisation on to the alleged greed and recklessness of individuals, as if people’s desires to live freely are themselves the cause of social decay.

And more importantly, in seeking to rectify things though problematising the idea of unchecked liberty, and trying to ‘entrench social responsibility’ from above, they fatally fail to realise that only freedom itself can give rise to any meaningful form of moral and social responsibility. They fail to recognise that freedom is not merely a fairly nice thing that people should enjoy in bite-sized morsels called ‘rights’ after they have fulfilled their social duties and obligations. No, freedom is the creator of moral responsibility, it is a social and moral good, it is in fact the only basis on which a Good Society can be created and sustained.

As John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty 150 years ago, ‘The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are improved only by being used. He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation.’ (9) In short, it is through freely choosing – through acting freely – that we exercise perception and judgement and become truly moral and morally responsible beings. Under New Labour’s tyranny of ‘balanced rights and responsibilities’, we are assigned the role, not of morally responsible citizens, but of ape-like imitators of state-decided ‘standards of behaviour’. They have destroyed both liberty and responsibility.
Keeping our freedom in check

There have been two consequences of the decade-long focus on ‘balancing rights and responsibilities’. Firstly, the idea of ‘responsibilities’ has increasingly been used to undermine our freedoms, where we are effectively told that, yes, we have certain freedoms, but we must exercise them responsibly and cautiously in order not to harm other individuals or damage the fragile social fabric.

This is really a new attack on liberty, carried out not by a jealous, jackboot-wearing state that forces us to hand over our liberties, but by a disoriented elite which marshals widespread concerns about social instability as a way of encouraging self-policing and timidity amongst the public. And secondly, our era of ‘balanced rights and responsibilities’ has revealed a political elite which can only conceive of responsibility in terms of something which is codified by the authorities and then ‘entrenched’ across society – revealing their spectacular ignorance of what moral responsibility really is.

On the first point, with the promotion of ‘responsibilities’ as a necessary check on ‘rights’, what we really have is a new form of state intervention into our freedoms and choices (indeed, even the term ‘rights’, especially in relation to human rights, is not an unproblematic one – so-called ‘rights’, especially strictly checked and regulated ones, can also be used to undermine true liberty today). In the arena of rights and responsibilities, ‘social responsibility’ really means conformism to custom.

This is clear from the government’s People and Power consultation paper, which names two important British values as ‘freedom of the person’ and ‘freedom of expression’. However, it says these ‘values’ must be set against our ‘responsibilities’ – which in the instance of these two freedoms include: to ‘be non-judgemental, open and encouraging’; to avoid ‘forcing our opinions on others’; and to ‘accept the consequences of being outspoken’ (10).

In short, yes we have the freedom to be left alone and to speak our minds, but we must self-regulate these freedoms in order to avoid antagonising or even simply offending other people. We are graciously given the right to free speech, but on the condition that we do not say anything too controversial or intemperate. Here, we can see how the interplay between ‘rights and responsibilities’ is one where state-defined responsibilities pretty much eradicate our rights.

The consultation paper even floats the idea of making our enjoyment of liberty conditional on our adherence to state-defined social obligations, suggesting that perhaps ‘certain rights should be conditional on responsibilities’ (11). However, the authorities do not need to list our ‘social responsibilities’ in a new legal instrument – because the idea that we have certain responsibilities, and that these responsibilities will inevitably impact on our ability to act and speak freely, is now broadly accepted and institutionalised in all but name.

Many of New Labour’s most insidious attacks on our freedoms – to think, to speak, to gather in public spaces, to drink or smoke what we like – have been justified on the basis that we cannot have unfettered freedom and be socially responsible, and that there comes a point when we exercise our freedoms to such ‘extremes’ that our behaviour becomes irresponsible and thus damaging to society.

In the arena of speech, the authorities argue that we can have free speech so long as we do not use it irresponsibly. As a 2009 government document on rights and responsibilities put it, we have the ‘responsibility’ not to indulge in ‘abuses of the right of freedom of expression, for example extreme forms of hate speech’ (12). In the arena of ‘anti-social behaviour’, the government has justified its vast system of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders – which involve the use of semi-criminal instruments to curtail the behaviour of specific individuals or groups of individuals – on the basis of ‘restoring civic responsibility’ (13).

The ban on smoking in public places is justified by the ‘social responsibility’ not to harm others with our passive smoke. We still have the ‘right to smoke’, says one government document (in our homes, anyway), but we must also ‘accept our responsibilities to other people who do not wish to be affected by passive smoking’ (14). Even worse, in some instances the government implicitly assumes responsibility, not for protecting the social fabric, but for protecting individuals from their own behaviour. In their smoking ban, drinking restrictions and censorship of junk-food advertising, the authorities exercise ‘individual responsibility’ on individuals’ behalf, on the basis that we are too stupid or greedy to do it ourselves.

In every case, we are assured that we still have all our rights – the right to speak, gather, smoke and stuff our faces – but are told that in some instances our responsibilities to society must override our ability to exercise those rights.

Far from criticising this subtle yet far-reaching watering down of our freedoms, the government’s critics accept that ‘rights’ must occasionally be checked by ‘responsibilities’, only they make the case in slightly different language – more duplicitously still, they use the language of rights to attack our rights.

Shami Chakrabarti, the head of the civil rights campaign group Liberty, says Britain doesn’t need a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities… because the Human Rights Act of 1998 already keeps our freedoms in check (15). This is true. For example, the Act grants us freedom of expression, but it says that since this freedom ‘carries with it duties and responsibilities’, it ‘may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society’ (16).

In other words, we don’t really have freedom of expression. The government’s critics in the human-rights lobby also accept that elite-defined ‘duties and responsibilities’ can and should impede on our liberties.

The curtailment of our rights through the idea of ‘social responsibilities’ is really a new form of state denigration of liberty, and one which is well suited to our times. In earlier eras, when there was often a clearer dividing line between sections of the public demanding freedom and a confident state determined to defend its power, the denigration of liberty tended to be executed in a more explicit fashion: through a police state, brute censorship, or new laws restricting movement and association.

Today, when there is neither a widespread demand for freedom nor an elite possessed of the wherewithal or even the need to dismantle liberty root and branch, our freedoms can be bargained off in a more informal fashion. The balancing of rights with responsibilities really represents the exploitation of the fear of social instability, of a widespread perception that we are living through, in Tony Blair’s words, a period of ‘social disintegration’ (17), as a way of blackmailing people into self-policing their speech, behaviour and lifestyles in the name of preserving the status quo.

It is the atomisation of the public, and the elite’s instinct for social control as a way of offsetting ‘social disintegration’, which has given rise to this tyranny of ‘balanced rights and responsibilities’.

Codifying responsibility

The second impact of the doctrine of ‘rights and responsibilities’ has been the denigration of the meaning of moral responsibility. In both their belief that rights and responsibilities are potentially antagonistic elements that must be mediated, and their notion of a conflict between individual liberty (Blair’s ‘narrow individualism’) and social stability (Blair’s ‘community values’), the political classes demonstrate that they have no idea what freedom is, far less why it is the most important value in society.

The truth is that, far from being conflicting categories, it is only freedom that can give rise to meaningful responsibility. And far from individuals pursuing their liberties posing some kind of threat to bigger, more important ‘social interests’, it is only free individuals – engaged, choice-making individuals – who can create the basis for a stable, happy and Good society.

One of the most striking things about the contemporary elite is the way it understands responsibility. It cannot conceive of responsibility as anything other than a contractual thing, fashioned and imposed upon communities and individuals by external third parties. It doesn’t understand that responsibility – real, worth-its-name responsibility – comes from experience and engagement, from making choices and learning from the consequences, not from lists of duties drawn up in committee rooms.

New Labour has fashioned numerous ‘responsibility contracts’ to govern relations and duties between individuals and public bodies. It has sought to ‘build responsibilities into policy development’ (18). ‘Neighbourhood agreements’ are contracts ‘designed and agreed by the residents and the providers of services in an area’, which cover everything from individuals’ responsibilities in relation to their neighbourhoods (for example, to report any crime they witness) to public bodies’ responsibilities to respond to problems quickly and efficiently (19).

‘Home-school agreements’ outline both a school’s and parents’ ‘respective responsibilities with regard to pupil attendance, behaviour and homework’; here, even parents’ relationships with aspects of their children’s lives become codified (20). There are also contracts outlining individuals’ ‘responsibility to find work’, where in return for improved services from the welfare state, jobseekers agree to ‘make greater efforts to gain employment’ (21).

The government has considered further expanding these contract-style lists of responsibilities. In People and Power, it proposed, under the banner of ‘Patriotism’, codifying people’s responsibility to ‘protect important heritage sites’ and to ‘promote a positive image of Britain abroad’. Under the banner of ‘Respect for laws and institutions’, it considered codifying people’s responsibility to ‘better understand British institutions’. And under the banner of ‘Manners/politeness’, it floated the idea of introducing some form of contractual stipulation that we should all ‘treat others with respect, kindness and empathy’ and ‘employ politeness/courtesy’ (22).

(Such patronising official reminders of our social responsibilities are already at work in London, where mayoral propaganda posters on public transport remind us to avoid eating smelly food, turn down our iPods, smile at people, and use polite language such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’).

The political elite’s attempt to magic up a sense of social responsibility through contracts is a product of two things: first, its instinctive recognition that there has been a fraying of collective, social outlooks in recent years; and second, its belief that ordinary people, left to their own devices, are incapable of negotiating their relationships and interactions with public bodies, communities, each other and even their own children.

The creeping codification of responsibilities becomes a kind of crutch for society, for a real public realm, and the only way the political elite believes it is possible to create social dynamism and community interaction, so that everything from respecting the National Gallery to reporting crimes to being polite to reading to your child becomes an explicitly spelled-out responsibility. What the elite doesn’t recognise is that its codification of responsibilities, and its corresponding denigration of the ‘narrow individualism’ of liberty, is doing nothing to mend society and a great deal to damage it further.

As John Stuart Mill understood very well, we only become fully responsible beings, fully human indeed, when we make decisions and take actions freely rather than under pressure of censure, shame, or of doing ‘the expected thing’. ‘Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing’, said Mill.

Mill argued that our moral faculties – our ability to exercise reason, to learn from experience, and to assume greater responsibility both for ourselves and in relation to society – can only work properly when we are free. ‘The faculties are called into no exercise by doing a thing merely because others do it, no more than by believing a thing only because others believe it… [However], he who chooses his plan for himself employs all his faculties. He must use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision.’ (23) In short, it is only a free man who can assume true responsibility, precisely because he is free and is exercising his moral judgement rather than adhering to the pre-decided ‘standards of behaviour’ of an external force.

Yes, in exercising their moral faculties people will sometimes make mistakes. Yet Mill argued that it is better to be a free man who makes errors than a cosseted man who always does what is customarily expected of him and is considered to be ‘the right thing’: ‘[T]hough individuals may not do the particular thing so well, on the average, as the officers of government, it is nevertheless desirable that it should be done by them, rather than by the government, as a means to their own mental education – a mode of strengthening their active faculties, exercising their judgment, and giving them a familiar knowledge of the subjects with which they are thus left to deal.’ (24) Today’s elite could never countenance such a thing – leaving people to organise their lives and relationships as they and their communities see fit, in the interests of expanding their own ‘mental education’ and ‘active faculties’ – and instead draws up codes for every social possibility and interaction.

As to the idea that too much individual liberty is a threat to social solidarity, Mill argued that in fact society is vastly improved by being made up of strong-willed, determined, even self-interested members. The prejudice against what Blair called ‘narrow individualism’ is widespread today, amongst both the elite and its critics.

Human rights activists look down their noses at people who complain about not being able to smoke in pubs or drink on trains or eat what they want without feeling guilty, accusing them of having ‘petty’ demands. One human-rights campaigner says, ‘You may have the right to do whatever you want to your body – like continue drinking even when you’re drunk, for example – but what if that makes you violent towards someone else? Rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand and should not be used and abused for trivial, petty wants.’ (25)

But these ‘trivial, petty wants’ are a key part of what it means to be free – and society ultimately benefits from allowing us to decide for ourselves how to live our lives. As Mill said: ‘Whoever thinks that individuality of desires and impulses should not be encouraged to unfold itself must maintain that society has no need of strong natures – is not the better for containing many persons who have much character – and that a high general average of energy is not desirable.’ (26)

Society should not fear strong individual impulses, but allow them to flourish, said Mill: ‘The same strong susceptibilities which make the personal impulses vivid and powerful, are also the source from whence are generated the most passionate love of virtue… It is through the cultivation of these, that society both does its duty and protects its interests: not by rejecting the stuff of which heroes are made, because it knows not how to make them.’ (27)

In contrast, today the political elite seeks to neuter the individual in the name of protecting society, not realising that a society composed of weak, cosseted individuals – where ‘the mind itself is bowed to the yoke’, as Mill put it – is a society that will almost certainly lack spirit and dynamism and which few people will be interested in signing up to. ‘The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it’, said Mill.

Amongst both the political elite and its influential critics, there’s a powerful disdain today for true liberty, for the exercise of individual subjectivity, for the right of individuals to think and speak and associate in ways that they and their social networks find agreeable, useful, enlightening or simply fun. And it is this elite disdain for people’s free exercise of their moral faculties which is itself degrading society and robbing people of any semblance of moral authority and responsibility.

In many different ways, New Labour’s creation of an insidious culture of unfreedom, of external intervention into almost every area of our lives, has diminished our ability to take moral responsibility.

The system of anti-social behaviour orders actually discourages individuals and communities from resolving problems of bad behaviour and taking responsibility for their neighbourhoods. In creating a new form of punishment designed to target specific out-of-control or simply naughty individuals, the authorities implicitly invite individuals to seek external arbitration of local problems. Individual and community initiative come to be replaced by the watchful eye and heavy hand of the external arbiter.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, New Labour’s Stalinist piece of legislation requiring every adult who works with children to submit to a criminal records background check, diminishes adult responsibility in relation to the care and education of the next generation.

Today we get to work with children, not on the basis of our pluck, knowledge or determination to lead and enthuse youth, but on the grounds that we have been okayed – effectively licensed – by the authorities. Our responsibility towards, and authority over, young people is no longer based on our experience or internal drive, but on a nod from the bureaucratic arbiters of adult interaction with young people.

Even in relation to something like alcohol consumption, officialdom’s illiberalism appears to have had an impact on people’s ability to assume meaningful responsibility. It is frequently commented on that young Britons seem to drink in a more reckless and ostentatiously drunken fashion than earlier generations did. This is likely to be a result of the fact that, thanks to New Labour’s various anti-drinking initiatives, new rules and regulations in pubs, and its treatment of any young person found drinking in public as a criminal, there are fewer and fewer ways for young people to be socialised into the world of adult drinking.

Effectively excluded from the adult world of pubs, and continually warned that drinking anything more than three pints will turn them into complete and utter wrecks, it is not surprising that young people lack the moral and intellectual means through which to negotiate the world of booze today.

And on it goes. Again and again, from the home to the workplace to the public realm, our responsibility is undermined precisely because our liberties are curtailed. The more constraints that are put on our thought and behaviour, the more difficult it becomes for people to take full and proper and satisfying responsibility for their lives and their experiences.

Not a single one of the political parties in the running for our votes on 6 May understands what freedom means or why it is so important. They don’t understand that freedom is good for individuals, allowing us to live more independently and less burdensomely, and is also good for society, tying individuals together through free association, shared experience, and having to work out for ourselves what we want our society to look like.

This means that whoever gets into Downing Street, the first thing we should demand of them is that they completely withdraw the state from our personal lives, homes and pubs and reverse every single attack on freedom made by the New Labour government. Because as we know from the past 13 years, to live by their petty rules is no life at all.


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


3 May, 2010

British Christian preacher vows to fight after he's arrested for ‘public order’ offences after saying homosexuality is a sin

A Christian was arrested and treated like a 'common criminal' after saying that he thought homosexuality was a sin. Street preacher Dale Mcalpine was held in a cell for seven hours and charged with a public order offence after telling a gay police community support officer that homosexuals were going against the will of God.

But yesterday the 42-year- old said he would fight to have the charge - usually used to tackle rioters or football hooligans - dismissed.

Mr Mcalpine was talking to shoppers and handing out leaflets when he was allegedly warned he was committing an offence by PCSO Sam Adams - who introduced himself as his force's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liaison officer.

When he continued preaching, Mr Mcalpine was arrested while debating his views with a passer-by.

'I think justice will be served and this will be found to be a ridiculous charge,' he said.

Mr Mcalpine is just the latest preacher prosecuted for speaking out against homosexuality, and his arrest comes days after a top judge was criticised for ruling that Christian beliefs are not entitled to special protection by the courts.

It also follows an attack by veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who branded such police actions 'heavy-handed' and an attack on free speech.

Mr Mcalpine, who works in the energy industry, was helping a full-time preacher in the centre of his home town of Workington, Cumbria, when the confrontation took place last month.

Yesterday he told how he was speaking to a woman about behaviour that he believed the Bible regarded as sinful, including blasphemy, adultery, drunkenness and homosexuality, while being watched by two PCSOs.

After she walked away, he claimed one - Mr Adams - approached to warn him they had received complaints and that if he made any racist or homophobic comments he would be arrested.

'I told him homosexuality is a sin, and he told me "I am a homosexual, I find that offensive, and I'm also the liaison officer for the bisexual-lesbian-gay-transsexual community",' he said yesterday. 'I told him it was still a sin.'

Mr Adams last year represented Cumbria Police at the Gay Pride march in Manchester. On the social networking site MySpace, he describes his orientation as gay and his religion as atheist.

After the warning, Mr Mcalpine took over preaching for 20 minutes, although he claims he did not cover homosexuality. But while he talked to a passer-by the PCSO radioed for assistance and he was arrested by uniformed officers.

He was taken to a police station, had his pockets emptied and his mobile phone taken along with his belt and shoes, and was kept in the cells for seven hours where he sang hymns to keep his spirits up.

'They treated me like a common criminal,' he said.

He was later charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour contrary to the Public Order Act 1986 and released on bail, appearing before magistrates in the town last week.

The self-proclaimed born-again Christian, who is single, insists he has a right to express his views. 'It's not just my right I'm fighting for, it's everyone's',' he said.

'We're going down the route of a police state. Some people in the homosexual community may not like me after this. But it would be very intolerant of them to not allow me to have my say.'

Mr Mcalpine is being backed by the Christian Institute, which supported Christian hoteliers Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang after they were charged under the same Act.

A white British convert to Islam complained they had insulted her religion during a heated discussion, but they were cleared in what was hailed a victory for free speech.

Yesterday an Institute spokesman said: 'This case should be thrown out at the earliest opportunity. The police aren't doing enough to protect free speech - no member of the public made a complaint, it was the PCSO who took exception.'

Last week in the Appeal Court Lord Justice Laws dismissed pleas from campaigners to give Christians special rights.

The senior judge said Britain would become a religious dictatorship if the views of one faith were given priority over others in legal matters as he dismissed a case brought by a Christian marriage counsellor who refused to counsel gay couples.


The farce of British policing after 13 years of Leftist rule

Listen to any radio phone-in or read the comments on newspaper web forums and it is clear which three issues really concern voters: immigration, the criminal justice system and benefits.

The electorate is right to be concerned. All three issues lie at the heart of what is going wrong in our society. Yet all three parties are failing to address these issues, let alone offer solutions.

I have dubbed this policy vacuum The Great Disconnect. And for this special series, I have spent weeks examining the way it has betrayed ordinary voters.

On Saturday, I explained how Labour's open door policy on immigration is costing middleclass tax payers in services and welfare. Today, it is the turn of the criminal justice and benefit system.

In a poll held for the UK General Election 2010 website, the public ranked crime and justice second only to immigration and ahead even of the economy as their top concern.

Never has the police had so many officers, so much money or such access to technology. Yet never have the public been so dissatisfied. According to a recent poll, our belief in the ability of politicians to control crime fell from 86 per cent in 1997 to 58 per cent in 2007.

Or as one caller to a radio phone-in argued: 'Why does it take ten policemen to check fare dodgers on buses around here, but when a house is being burgled or there is a fight between youths you cannot find a policeman for love or money?'

We spend more on criminal justice than any other industrialised country. Yet when I spent a year investigating the system, I saw every aspect was failing to give people what they wanted. Is the public being unreasonable?

It starts with the Home Office. They judge each police force's efficiency by how many crimes they detect and clear up. The public want something different. They do not want the crimes to occur in the first place. Police foot patrols out on the beat preventing crime is their top priority. Actual crime detection comes way down the list.

It's clear the Government isn't listening - as shown in the excellent book The Renewal Of Government by Neil O'Brien and Ross Clark.

For every £1 spent on prevention, £80 goes on treating crime. As one constable wrote on an online Police Forum: 'I remember when it was a matter of pride to come back after a night shift to find no crimes had happened. Now all we are asked is why no one was locked up.'

Neighbourhood policing was meant to fix this, but this very good initiative is being cut back.

What does the public get instead? They get more police, but less policing. Police are spending more time in front of the computer completing the volumes of paperwork required for even the simplest conversation with the public.

Tayside police counted 1,150 different forms for various purposes.

In 2004-05, the Metropolitan Police calculated that it spent more than £100 million on the wonderfully called 'non-incident-related paperwork'. This was double what it spent investigating domestic burglaries.

A young girl recently told a radio phone-in that it had taken her two hours to report a stolen handbag - every answer painstakingly typed in by the police sergeant. 'How long would it take to report a rape?' she asked listeners.

But what really riles the public is police targets. Targets take precedence over the priorities of the local community. Police have to fulfil a certain amount every month. They admitted they often take the easy option and arrest the law-abiding citizen for a minor infringement.

At the same time they appear unable or unwilling to deal with one of the public's biggest fears - violent gangs of youths.

The public are right to be afraid. Violent crimes committed by young people and children have increased by a third over three years.

The ineffectiveness of the authorities flummoxes the public. As one radio caller said, if it is not the job of the police to arrest these people, 'then why are we paying them'? Another angrily declared: 'Time to forget meeting targets, ticking boxes and meeting diversity challenges and to re-establish authority.'

Sentencing, prison and probation raises even more passion. The sheer lack of competence and common sense baffles most members of the public. 'Five years should mean five years,' said one outraged lady. She had just learned of the practice of releasing large numbers of offenders at, or even before, the halfway point of their prison sentence.

What is the reaction of politicians? Are they heeding voters? On the contrary, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, even describes the sentencing system as a 'benign deception of the public'.

How wrong he is. The public is not deceived nor do they view a system as benign when 65 per cent of those released go on to re-offend. Indeed, some of the most horrific murders of recent years have been committed by repeat offenders on probation.

The rape, torture and murder of 16-year-old Mary-Ann Leneghan in Reading was committed by six gang members, four of whom were supposedly under the supervision of the Probation Service.

Dano Sonnex, a career criminal who robbed and brutally murdered two French students, and Damien Hanson, who murdered John Monckton in Chelsea, were also under Probation supervision when they committed their crimes.

Hanson was halfway through a 12-year sentence for attempted murder, yet was still subjected to a low level of monitoring by the Probation Service.

It is not just murder. The public sees the same incompetence and ineffectualness of the authorities when dealing with something many of us live with every day - anti-social behaviour.

The attitude of politicians and top policemen is summed up by a remark made by my then local borough commander when I complained of crime in my area. He said: 'The biggest problem is the public's fear of crime rather than crime itself.'

Or as a senior politician intoned: 'Crime is historically low.' Is that so? In 1950, there were just 6,000 recorded incidents of violence against the person. By 1995, that had increased to 213,000. By 2005-06, it had topped a million.

Reports of anti-social behaviour stand at 3.6 million a year. Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, says the true figure is more than seven million.

Take Fiona Pilkington, who made dozens of complaints to officers over several years. Nothing was done to tackle the abuse of her and her family from youths in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Finally, last year, she was driven to kill herself and her disabled daughter.

And at the 2008 trial of five teenagers accused of her husband Garry's murder, Helen Newlove described how police had failed to tackle local gangs, despite numerous complaints from residents in Warrington.

A snapshot survey by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed officers did not even turn up to 23 per cent of anti-social behaviour complaints. Understandably, almost all victims said they were unhappy with the police.

One in five victims who were repeatedly targeted described themselves as disabled in some way.

The police complain about paperwork, yet not one piece of paper refers to a crucial fact. Has that person already made a complaint for the same offence? More than half of the 43 forces in England and Wales cannot identify repeat victims, despite all those forms.

Leicester police reacted to the Fiona Pilkington tragedy by classifying repeat crimes against disabled people as 'hate offences'. 'I'm confused,' said one caller to a radio station. 'Shouldn't repeated crimes against anyone be seen as a hate offence and taken seriously?'

How out of touch the Government is on this important issue is clear. The policing the public want is very different from the policing we get.


Why Do Daily Kos and Alternet Support a Racist Program?

With the possible exception of the war on drugs and public (i.e., government) schools, it would be difficult to find a government program that is more damaging to inner-city poor people, especially blacks, than the minimum wage. Yet, liberals, who have longed claimed to love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, especially racial minorities, continue to steadfastly support this vicious and racist government program.

The first thing one notices whenever liberals advocate the minimum wage is their stinginess, for they always limit their calls for a minimum wage to no more than $10 an hour. Despite their supposed love for the poor, you never see liberals calling for a minimum wage of, say, $100 an hour. They always keep it down to the $10-an-hour area.

Let’s examine why it’s a good thing, at least for the poor, that liberals don’t call for a $100-an-hour minimum wage. It will help us to see how liberals attack the poor, and especially the poor who are black, with their $10 or lower minimum wage.

In every economic trade, people are giving up something they value less for something they value more. That’s why they trade. They aim to improve their economic well-being through the trade.

For example, suppose A has five apples and B has five oranges. Let’s say they enter into a trade in which A gives B four apples in return for one orange. Is B the winner and A the loser in this exchange? No. They’re both winners because they both have gained from the exchange. Each of them has given up something he values less for something he values more.

It’s no different in a labor exchange. In any consensual labor relationship, each side gives up something he values less for something he values more.

Suppose, for example, an employer hires a worker at a monthly pay of $1,000. Both sides have gained; otherwise they wouldn’t have entered into the exchange. The employer values the money less than he values the work provided by the employee. The employee values the money more than the other things he could do with his time.

What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that all these valuations are entirely subjective. That is, they are in the eyes of the beholder. A person’s subjective valuation of something, including an employee, will inevitably turn on an infinite array of factors, including the amount of wealth he happens to possess and how he prefers to allocate it.

An employer, for example, will place a subjective valuation on a prospective employee. He will subjectively determine how much in additional revenue that person is likely to bring to the firm, especially compared to how much the firm is paying him. How much to offer him will be based on such factors as availability of capital and how much other firms are offering.

Suppose one day in June, a company’s employment office encounters 10 teenagers who have just graduated from high school, all of whom are seeking a job. The company and the teenagers reach a deal in which the company agrees to pay each of them $15 an hour. All of them are hired.

What that means is that the company has made a subjective valuation of their work potential, one that makes it worthwhile for the company to pay them $15 an hour. It also means that the teenagers are happy with the deal, again from an entirely subjective standpoint.

The teenagers begin work. One week later, the liberals enact a minimum-wage law requiring companies to pay their workers $100 an hour.

Do you see the problem? While the company concluded that those teenagers are worth $15 an hour, it is quite unlikely that it is going to feel the same way about paying them $100 an hour. After some quick deliberation, the company decides that it’s just not worth it to pay the higher, mandated wage rate. Its subjective determination is that the teenagers are worth no more than $15 an hour and certainly not $100 an hour.

So the law leaves the employer with no effective choice. The company lays off the teenagers. They go in search of new jobs, but every company tells them the same thing: “It’s just not worth it to us to pay you $100 an hour. We don’t have that kind of money, your skills aren’t yet sufficient to bring in significant revenues, and we’d soon go broke if we paid you that amount of money.”

So what do those teenagers do? Well, they starve to death. Or they steal. Or they push drugs. What other alternative has the $100 minimum law left them? Oh, they can also go on welfare because liberals, always concerned about the plight of the poor, enact a law that taxes the company that laid them off and uses the tax money to provide a welfare dole for the teenagers. Thus, unable to break into the labor market and learn a work ethic because of the $100 minimum-wage law, the teenagers remain on the dole through adulthood and possibly through their entire lives.

You see, the $100 minimum wage has permanently locked them out of the labor market. When libertarians show up and call for the minimum wage to be repealed, liberals hoot them down with such cries as “You hate the poor! You hate welfare! You believe in exploitation!”

But nothing can change the fact that it is the liberals — with their minimum-wage law — who have locked those teenagers out of the labor market, which then causes liberals to initiate welfare-state programs that make such people helpless, dependent wards of the state.

“But the minimum wage isn’t $100,” liberals cry. “It’s only $7.25 per hour.” But the economic principles are no different, and this is where the racist aspects of the minimum wage come into play.

Everyone whose labor is valued by employers at less than $7.25 an hour is locked out of the labor market by the minimum wage law. It might well be fewer people than if the minimum wage were set at $100 an hour, but the fact remains: For all those people whose labor is subjectively valued in the marketplace at less than the legally established minimum, the minimum-wage law becomes a death sentence or at least one that leads to a life of crime or welfare-state dependency.

After all, don’t forget that the minimum-wage law doesn’t force any employer to hire anyone. It simply says that if you do hire someone, you must pay the mandated minimum. Thus, the law prevents those whose labor is valued by employers at less than the mandated minimum from working.

That brings us to black, inner-city teenagers, a group of people who oftentimes are extremely poor, not very well dressed, and not very well educated by the government schools they are forced to attend. Employers subjectively place a valuation on their work that is less than the government-established minimum wage.

Yet, in the absence of the minimum wage those black teenagers could find employment. They could out-compete their richer, better-dressed, better-educated, suburban white counterparts by offering to work for less. They simply would keep lowering the wage at which they’re willing to work until they met the subjectively determined valuation of an employer. That might be, say, $1 an hour. But at least the teenager could use the opportunity to learn the trade, thereby enabling him to acquire the skills that could help him start a business down the road, perhaps even competing against his employer. The $7.25 minimum wage law prevents him from ever getting that foothold. It keeps him entirely out of the labor market.

As George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams, who authored the book The State Against Blacks, wrote in a recent article, “The Cruelty of the Minimum Wage,” “One of the more insidious effects of minimum wages is that it lowers the cost of racial discrimination; in fact, minimum-wage laws are one of the most effective tools in the arsenals of racists everywhere....”

So why do the liberals at Daily Kos and Alternet and other liberals continue to do it? Why do they continue to support a program that is so clearly an attack on the poor, and a racist one at that?

The most likely explanation is the one I provided in my response to Sumner’s article — economic ignorance. When it comes to understanding economics, liberals have a blind spot. They honestly believe that all that is needed to end poverty in the world is passing laws.

Poverty in Haiti? Just pass a law forcing every employer to pay a minimum wage of $100 an hour, or at least $7.25 an hour. Voilà! Poverty is eliminated.

But as we all know, life is not so simple. If poverty could be eliminated by the enactment of minimum-wage laws and other welfare-state laws, poverty in the world would have come to an end a long time ago. After all, it doesn’t take much for a government to enact a law.

Instead, such laws always have terrible consequences for the very people liberals claim to help — the poor. When faced with such consequences, they always have a ready response: “Please judge us by our good intentions. We really do mean well.”

But why should we care about their good intentions? Why should the poor care about them? Why should inner-city blacks whom they have damaged so severely care about them?

All that matters are the consequences of government programs. The minimum-wage law has done untold damage to the poor, especially inner-city black teenagers. Liberals should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to support this vicious, destructive, and racist program.


Government Controlled Speech on the Internet?

Whether it is "little punk staffers," or talk radio chatter, or the various Tea Party groups, suddenly a chorus of our elected representatives on Capitol Hill is calling such comments or speakers "dangerous" or "scary." Really? Occasionally impolite perhaps, but more likely they just don't like what's being said, and then feel free to engage in their own overblown hype undergirded with hubris.

In other words, our elected officials continue to try to gain politically by bullying those who would speak freely as is their constitutional right.

This is just one of the many reasons why the schemes for government to gain control of the Internet (the overt goal of those who support so called network neutrality) are wrongheaded. Failing in their legal fight they now support the dramatic--either congressional action to hand the Federal Communications Commission control of broadband or to have the FCC reverse its own decade old precedent and suddenly decide it should heavily regulate the Internet.

And of course the desire does not stop there. As has been made clear, regulating the content of the Web, whether by support of state-operated "media" or in other ways, is the endgame.

But the real problem is "control" of any sort. Who can be certain that if broadband is subsidized, controlled by, or dependent on the government, that citizens have some guarantee of "neutrality"?

Remember that the First Amendment is not a grant of power to the government, but rather a restriction placed upon government requiring it to allow free speech. That's because the Founders, and the courts and the people since then, knew that government could not be trusted to umpire speech.

Free-marketers and others who are leery of FCC dominion over broadband--like the dominion the FCC had over telephones--are not arguing for corporate control of the Internet. Rather, control is not needed--neither government control, nor corporate control. What is needed is a balance much as we expect elsewhere, with good law enforcement making sure that good companies do not go awry.



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 or 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.


2 May, 2010

Senior British judge says 'torrent of legislation' made legal system incomprehensible

Leftists just LOVE passing more and more laws to control people

A new government should call a halt to the “torrent” of legislation that has made the legal system incomprehensible to judges and the public alike, a senior judge has said.

Judge Charles Harris, QC, president of the 600-strong Council of Circuit Judges, told The Times that the criminal law had become so complex that judges had to have it explained to them by academic experts.

As for the civil law, that was so complicated that some laws were “completely beyond the grasp of people to whom they apply”. “Law which is not readily comprehensible is unfair law, because those to whom it applies have to spend time, money and anxiety in finding out by litigation what their obligations are.”

The judge, who heads the judicial rank handling all serious cases in the Crown and county courts, said that the last three prime ministers had produced an average of 2,629 laws a year. In the past eight years there had been more than 3,000 statutory instruments a year and between 40 and 70 Acts of Parliament, he added.

“Some substantive civil law is so complex that it is wholly inaccessible to the laymen to whom it applies and not much easier to understand for lawyers.”

One example were the consumer credit laws, he said. “Academics graze contented in its thickets, while the people to whom the law applies have no choice but to sign contracts which they do not understand.”

As for the criminal laws, the editor of Archbold, the criminal law compendium, had described its state as a “disgrace”.

Judge Harris, 65, said that it was time for a bill to consolidate and rationalise the criminal laws; for a pruning out of all statues and for a halt to all legislation. “It is vital to remember that laws should not be run up in haste and flung, as a palliative reaction, at every problem which may arise.”

His comments come as another judge issued a warning that the public are “best off having nothing to do” with litigation.

Pointing to all the lawyers’ bills and complexity involved in modern court cases, Lord Justice Mummery, a Court of Appeal judge, said: “I am sympathetic to all litigants who get caught up in our legal system.” And the judge, the nation’s foremost expert on employment law, added: “The law is best kept as far away as possible; you’re best off having nothing to do with it”.

The judge made his comments when rejecting an appeal by a Devon lord of the manor against a bill for almost £15,000 his company was hit with after an Employment Tribunal hearing. David Piper, 60, who is Lord of the Manor of Warleigh, argued that the compensation award after a disability discrimination claim was “a travesty of justice”.

However, after telling him of the legal minefield and bills he faced if his appeal went ahead, Lord Justice Mummery, a former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, said that Mr Piper’s challenge to the payout had “no reasonable prospect of success”.

Mr Piper’s company, Brentegani’s Bistro Ltd, was taken before the Employment Tribunal after Jacqueline Marley, who worked at the Plymouth restaurant, had her employment “terminated” in December 2007.

She complained that no “reasonable adjustments” had been made to her working conditions to take account of her disabling back condition and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and the Tribunal awarded her £14,777 in compensation.

Mr Piper, a retired hotelier, tried to challenge that ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), claiming that it was made on an incorrect legal and factual basis, but was prevented from pursuing his case because he filed papers three days outside a six-week deadline.

Whilst expressing sympathy for Mr Piper’s medical condition, the judge said that the six-week time limit laid down by the EAT was “generous” and told him: “I am afraid this appeal does not have a real prospect of success”.


Schoolboy defends mother from maniac knifeman. Schoolboy arrested

A typical sequence of events in insane Britain. Defence against an attack is immediately believed to be criminal. And the kid's still on bail!

An assailant died in a struggle with a schoolboy who was frantically defending his injured mother from a knife attack at their home.

James Killen was in his school uniform when he raced to confront his mother’s attacker – a neighbour – after she was stabbed and left covered in blood.

The 18 year-old tried to wrest a kitchen knife from the assailant before the man died in the struggle.

His mother, Sandra Crawford, 53, an air stewardess, then staggered outside her red-brick, detached house in St Albans, Herts, before collapsing in her nightclothes. She is now fighting for her life after being flown to hospital.

Detectives initially arrested Mr Killen, an A-level student, on suspicion of murder but they released him on Friday on police bail until next month. Senior investigative sources say they now believe that Jonathan London, 46, died after Mr Killen tried to protect his mother.

A school friend of Mr Killen described him as a hero and said he had grabbed the knife from his mother’s alleged attacker before confronting Mr London.

Ben Riddell, also 18, of St Albans, spoke to his friend after the incident and said he was tearful. He said his friend was “kind and gentle” but was desperately trying to defend his petite mother.

Mr Riddell said: “James ran downstairs to Sandy’s screams when this man was stabbing her. He jumped on the back of the attacker and got the knife that the man had. It was a freak tragedy and James was a hero for getting his mum’s attacker off her.”

Last night Mr Killen and other relations were at Ms Crawford’s bedside in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where her condition was described as “critical”.

Detectives said they had no evidence of any ongoing dispute between the neighbours before the attack. Mr London was believed to have been on medication for epilepsy and had reportedly been “going through a bad time”.


Alabama candidate sparks row with English-only ad

AN "ENGLISH-only" ad by a candidate in the Alabama governor's race has drawn the state into America's national debate over immigration stoked by a tough new Arizona law.

The ad by construction business owner and candidate Tim James - viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube since its release last week - is also generating criticism from rivals and advocates that it could reverse years of economic development based on luring foreign companies, including carmakers from Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Mr James, son of former two-term Alabama governor Fob James Jr, says in the ad that he would drop the practice of giving the state drivers licence exam in 12 languages other than English.

"This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it," he says.

In 2000, according to the last US Census, there were 108,000 people in Alabama, or 2.9 per cent of the state's population, who spoke a language other than English at home.

In Mr James' view, the English-only plan will make highways safer, save the state money, and hasten the assimilation of legal immigrants into Alabama society.

But critics say Mr James' idea is counterproductive in a state that has received substantial help from 358 foreign businesses to build a manufacturing base that includes Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda auto assembly plants.

The ad comes as members of both parties in US Congress manoeuvre to either add or duck immigration as a midterm election issue and as immigration advocates file legal challenges a new Arizona law that makes being an illegal immigrant a state crime enforced by police.

Mr James' ad has resonated with voters concerned about illegal immigration and stood him apart from a crowded Republican field where all seven candidates are running on a standard Republican platform of low taxes and less government.

"We have definitely hit a nerve with Alabamians and people across the country," Mr James said. "What's happening in Washington and Arizona has only amplified the people's awareness of the issue and their wariness of government to make the right decisions."

A Republican legislator tried to pass an English-only bill in Alabama in 2008, but was blocked by Senate Democrats. Similar legislation is pending in Tennessee and Georgia, where the state Senate has already passed the measure.


Unborn babies seized from 'unfit' Australian mothers

This sounds like something out of Nazi Germany but I suppose it does make some sense as prevention. There must be early, full and open judicial review of all bureaucratic decisions, however. Bureaucratic arrogance often runs wild in child welfare decisions already

BABIES are being "seized" by the Department for Child Protection before they are even born. The Sunday Times can reveal the department has started scrutinising expectant mothers they fear may be unfit to care for a baby.

Under the radical new government policy, would-be mothers who are 20 weeks or more pregnant are being forced to give urine samples - to show they are drug free - and prove they have permanent accommodation.

If the expectant mother fails to satisfy child-protection officers, they immediately start child removal procedures. It means the paperwork is completed ahead of the birth and, as soon as a baby is born, the child can be put into state care or given to a relative.

Abortion Grief Australia is concerned the scheme could lead to a rise in early terminations and expectant mothers committing suicide.

But Department for Child Protection director-general Terry Murphy said early intervention gave vulnerable mothers a better chance of keeping their babies because they had earlier access to help.

Mothers who want to keep their baby would have to undergo routine urine testing during pregnancy to prove they weren't drinking or taking drugs, he said. Mothers would also have to prove they had permanent accommodation, would be able to feed their baby properly and were not in a dangerous domestic relationship.

The assessments conducted by the department are in collaboration with officials from the Drug and Alcohol Office and Department of Housing.

"This will work best for women who have had a number of children and they've lost them all," Mr Murphy said. "These women would usually avoid us. "But, with this approach, people are more willing to actually meet with us and try to find a solution whereby they can be supported to keep their child."

Mr Murphy conceded that for some expectant mothers the only choice for DCP officers would be to start preparations to take the baby away once it was born. "There are a whole lot of graduated outcomes, all of which are an improvement on somebody being scared, giving birth, losing the child and then running away," he said.

"There are still times when we have to take a child away. "But what we can at least be confident of is that the mum has understood fully why and that it's not just the DCP being nasty, but it generally means her family and all the other agencies that might be involved are also saying that's what should happen."



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 or 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.


1 May, 2010

British municipality threatens to fine clergyman for advertising Holy Week on a flag outside church

But Muslims are allowed to broadcast their call to payer five times a day in some localities, of course

BRITISH council officials have banned a vicar from flying a flag of Jesus Christ outside his church because it advertises christianity.

Stunned Rev Mark Binney was also warned he faced a £1,000 fine and a criminal record if he continued to fly the flag without council permission.

The 52-year-old hoisted the flag up a 30ft flag pole outside St Andrews Church in Hampton, Evesham, Worcestershire, to celebrate Easter's Holy Week.

But because the flag was not placed on roof of the 700-year-old church, it breached planning law because he had not applied in writing for 'Advertising Consent' from the council.


Grandmother forced to wear a criminal tag for selling a goldfish has sentence quashed

Yes. it can be a criminal act to sell a goldfish in batty Britain

A grandmother branded a criminal for selling a goldfish to an underage boy yesterday had her sentence overturned. Joan Higgins, 66, had been caught in an undercover sting by trading standards officers, hauled before a court, and forced to wear an electronic tag.

Her plight caused widespread astonishment, with supporters calling the case against her 'ludicrous'.

Yesterday she won her legal battle to have the electronic tag removed and an overnight curfew scrapped. A judge described the punishment as 'inappropriate' for 'a respectable lady with no previous convictions'.

Mrs Higgins declared the decision 'a victory for common sense' - and said she would celebrate by going to play bingo with her sister and attend a Rod Stewart concert she had feared she would miss because of the curfew.

She added: 'The Daily Mail has been wonderful and I cannot thank them enough for all their support. 'We have always said that it was ridiculous to tag a 66-year- old, law-abiding pensioner and I am just grateful that common sense has prevailed at last.'

Her ordeal began when Trafford council officials sent a teenager to Majors Pet Shop in Sale, Greater Manchester, to make a purchase. They wanted to test whether new laws making it illegal to sell pets to children under the age of 16 were being adhered to.

It emerged yesterday that the boy they sent was 15 years old - not 14 as first thought - and at 5ft 7in could easily have been mistaken for an older teenager. Mrs Higgins's son Mark, 44, sold him a goldfish for £1.50 without questioning his age or providing any information about the care of the fish.

Mrs Higgins, as the licence holder, and her son were charged with breaching the Animal Welfare Act 2006....

Judge Smith quashed the curfew on Mrs Higgins, as well as the community service order on her son because of his poor health. Instead he imposed a 12-month conditional discharge on both.

The tag was removed last night at Mrs Higgins's home. She and her son have already paid prosecution costs of £1,750 and these were not challenged.


An Open Letter to American Jews

by Ben Shapiro

I write to you as a charter member of the tribe. I'm not only Jewish, I'm religious. I'm married to an Israeli girl (she'll receive her citizenship next year and she is a proud soon-to-be American). I go to synagogue regularly, keep kosher, keep the Sabbath.

American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your posteriors.

I mean that in all sincerity. Your continued support for Democrats and an administration that is openly anti-Semitic is a disgrace. Your embrace of a party that seeks to hamstring Israel in the name of a wholly fictitious Middle East peace process is contemptible. Your loyalty to a president who consistently sides with Palestinian and Iranian mass murder-supporters is disgusting.

Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the worst anti-Semites America has to offer -- Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi (former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan ("I don't like the way [Jews] leech on us"), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few -- is nothing short of reprehensible. Rahm Emanuel's presence in the Obama cabinet doesn't ameliorate Obama's anti-Semitism -- it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell "house negroes"; Emanuel is a kapo.

Even as you continue to buttress a president who seeks the destruction of your co-religionists, you demonstrate your myopia by rejecting the tea party movement and evangelical Christian Israel-supporters.

The tea party movement is your ally for three important reasons. First, it supports capitalism against the forces of socialism -- and capitalism keeps America strong enough to provide Israel with a hand against its evil adversaries. Second, American Jews are, by far, the highest-earning religious group in the United States -- the tea party fights for your right to keep your money. Third, the tea party stands against government overreach -- and in an era when government overreach promotes anti-religious secularism, Jews must stand with the tea party.

Your rejection of evangelical Christians is even more idiotic. Evangelical Christians are the only major voting bloc preventing President Obama from breaking ties with Israel. When Janet Porter, an evangelical Florida talk show host, heard about Obama's anti-Israel tyranny, she responded by asking her listeners to buy dozens of yellow roses to send to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office as a show of support. The price per dozen: $19.48, in honor of the year of Israel's founding (1948). Over 14,000 flowers were delivered. Meanwhile, Adm. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser and the man who brought Jew-hater Zbigniew Brzezinski into Obama's inner circle, was busy telling anti-Semitic jokes before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"But they want to convert us!" many American Jews shout. Not all Christians do. But for the rest -- so what? Would you sacrifice the support of millions of good-hearted Christians because they want to discuss Jesus with you? If your own belief system is so fragile, the weakness is yours, not theirs. While you expend energy whining about Jehovah's Witnesses who show up at your door with a Bible, Obama supports radical Muslims who would show up at your door with a gun -- or, as in the case of Daniel Pearl, a butcher's knife.

Now, I understand, American Jews, that most of you don't care about Israel.

I understand that you're more concerned about a woman's unconditional right to abort her unborn child (which Judaism rejects) than you are about Israel. Fine. Understand that you have removed yourself from the vast river of Jewish history in favor of a chimerical morality that values libertinism over liberty.

I understand that many of you -- all of you above age 70 -- still think FDR is alive. He isn't, but Jimmy Carter is.

I understand that some of you still think that conservatives and Republicans are the same folks they were during the 1950s, when they banned you from country clubs. They aren't.

The simple fact is this: There is only one mainstream political ideology in this country that asks you to check your principles and cultural history at the door in the name of the greater good -- leftism, the same ideology that virtually exterminated Judaism in Russia and Europe. While the left exploits your adherence to bagel-and-lox Judaism by appealing to your watered-down and perverted "tikkun olam" sensibilities, you are enabling your own destruction. The same people who urge you to reach out to terrorists will be the first to sacrifice you to those terrorists' tender mercies. The same people who urge you to worry about same-sex marriage rather than religious freedom will be the first to take your religious freedoms away.

I love you, my brothers and sisters. That's why I'm writing to you. Time is running out; the clock is winding down. Pick a side.


One African dead in Western Australian street brawl

Sounds like it was a Lebanese Muslim gang versus an African gang. More of that wonderful "diversity" to make Australia proud

Police have raided a Ballajura house and are interviewing five men as they investigate a Mirabooka brawl in which one man died and another was critically injured. Police and sources in the Sudanese community have confirmed the dead man is Asamh Manyan, 20, of Mirrabooka.

Paramedics and police were called to the Mirrabooka riot about 9.50pm. Insp. Neil Blair said police found a group fighting near the corner of Northwood Drive and Australis Avenue. Insp. Blair said two people were stabbed during the violent brawl and a 20-year-old had since died.

It is understood a police officer unsuccessfully performed CPR on the victim. The other man remains in a critical condition in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

A man was handcuffed by police and questioned on the roadside.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said this morning the men were either African or Middle Eastern but the violence was not gang related and there were no racial overtones. He said five people were being interviewed by police.

Sudanese community leader Simon Dang this morning said the man who died was an honest, hard-working student and it was a sad day for the Sudanese community and the community at large. Mr Dang said he was with a group of friends walking to the shop when the attack happened.

“When you lose someone in your family, (the family of the deceased) are very hurt," he said. “(He was) an honest young man who would not be involved in any type of crime. He has died for no reason.”

Supt Mark Gilbert, of the west metropolitan police district which stretches over one-sixth of the Perth metropolitan area and is believed to be the most culturally diverse in Australia, said police had engaged with community leaders to try and identify any underlying problems between various ethnic groups. “It is completely out of character for this area to have people stabbed in a street like this,” he said.

Police raided the Ballajura house earlier this morning. A big section of Australis Avenue was closed this morning as major crime squad and forensic officers searched nearby bush.

Several backpacks remain strewn on the road and about 20 bright yellow evidence markers dot the suburban street as police continue their search.

This morning one witness told thewest.com.au how she watched the riot through a window after she heard screaming and shouting about 9.30pm. The 16-year-old Morley Senior High School student, who did not want to be named, lives on Wintersweet Ramble off Australis Avenue. "I just heard like screaming and saw people running around," she said.

She said she watched a group of men brandishing "some sort of weapon". "It was long, but it was too dark to see what it was," she said. "It was too much screaming, I couldn't understand it. It was too hard to make out what they were shouting."

She said her family had lived on the street for about five years and had never experienced anything like it before. "This is like the first time," she said. It's pretty quiet down here. It's kind of worrying ... wouldn't you find it worrying? It doesn't make you feel safe."

Another Wintersweet Ramble resident said he was watching a movie when he heard "a few pops and bangs." "I don't know if they were bottles breaking," the man said. "I had a quick gander out the window but didn't see anything."

He said there wasn't usually any trouble in the area although groups of males were known to walk the streets.

Police inquiries are continuing and the streets have been cordoned off. Motorists are advised to seek alternative routes this morning.



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 or 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.


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

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."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

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