Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, October 31, 2008

THE BIG BBC MELTDOWN: It was once a model of high standards and decorum -- but no more

Now that the Left have got hold of it, any garbage is fine and "standards" is a stupid old-fashioned concept. Tearing everything down is what the Left are all about. After just about everyone from the Prime Minister down condemned them, the principal offenders have now been suspended and one has resigned but how the BBC allowed such a foul and hurtful programme to be broadcast is the real issue. Two articles below on the matter. One from 29th and one from 30th


The BBC is under unprecedented pressure to crack down on offensive material after an intervention by the Prime Minister and 10,000 complaints over its decision to broadcast obscene phone calls made by two of its biggest stars. Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General, maintained his silence on the conduct of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for a third day despite a growing clamour for an explanation as to how pre-recorded taunts directed at Andrew Sachs, the 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor, went on air.

The radio transmission on October 18 included Ross shouting on to Sachs's answerphone that Brand had slept with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23, and Brand joking that the actor might kill himself. Ms Baillie has called for the pair to be sacked.

Gordon Brown swung behind the flood of public outrage, saying that the incident was clearly inappropriate and unacceptable. David Cameron, the Tory leader, demanded to know who had given the green light to the broadcast. Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, described the incident as a serious breach of broadcasting standards.

The BBC has rejected calls to suspend the pair and Ross, who is paid 6 million pounds a year, was expected to record this week's edition of his chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, tonight. However, Sir David Attenborough, who was due to appear on the show, was in discussions with the BBC last night. Frank Skinner, the comedian, and the American actress Miley Cyrus were also on the guest list.

Mr Thompson has been ordered by the BBC Trust to present a "formal report" to its monthly meeting on November 20, as to how the offensive material came to be aired. The trust also demanded an interim report to be presented next week at a meeting of its editorial standards committee. Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, was also investigating the material under Section 2 of the Broadcasting Code, relating to harm and offence.

The row led every major BBC news bulletin yesterday. Tim Davie, the corporation's director of audio and music and the most senior executive to comment, admitted that the programme that went out was "unacceptable". He said that the BBC would conduct a full investigation and decide the appropriate action and that it would be wrong to apportion blame at this stage.



The suspension of the foul-mouthed Jonathan Ross and the forced resignation of his equally disagreeable sidekick Russell Brand marked an extraordinary historic cultural victory. For the first time in living memory, the BBC has signalled that there are boundaries of decency it must not cross. But, my goodness, didn't this admission take a long time coming? No one at the BBC appeared to realise that the original show broadcast by Radio 2 on October 18 was so offensive.

Ross and Brand's vulgar abuse of the actor Andrew Sachs was passed on the nod by a 25-year-old Radio 2 producer, even though Mr Sachs had refused his permission. That young man evidently did not know any better. But nor did his bosses. It took several days of mounting Press coverage, and critical remarks by David Cameron, Gordon Brown and other politicians, before the BBC's management finally responded. Even then the person whose head was pushed above the parapet was that of Tim Davie, the 'director of audio and music', of whom none of us had ever heard.

Only yesterday did Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, and the man ultimately responsible for the Corporation's output, break his holiday and announce that he was suspending Ross and Brand. His statement was certainly everything one might have wished for, referring as it did to 'a gross lapse of taste that has angered licence payers', but it had to be wrung out of him.

Mr Thompson is a deeply symbolic figure of our times. He is not a bad man. He is civilised and well-read, having taken a first in English at Oxford. As a devout Roman Catholic, he adheres to moral values that are a million miles from those of Ross and Brand. And yet he has made no attempt to stem the tide of clod-hopping filth that pours out of their, and others', mouths whenever they broadcast.

Why should this be? Perhaps Mr Thompson believes that Ross and Brand are popular figures who will attract a large audience. Although the BBC is protected from commercial realities, it increasingly conducts itself as though these are the only realities that matter. Shielded from the market, the Corporation often strives to outdo the market in offering dumbed-down programming, and appealing to the lowest common denominator.

But I fancy there is a deeper psychological explanation for Mr Thompson's indulgence of so-called entertainers against whose vulgarity and ignorance he must privately recoil. Whereas some on the Left embrace Brand for his nihilism and for what they regard as his welcome flouting of bourgeois values - he seems eager to copulate with anything that moves - Mr Thompson is a more elevated, as well as a more interesting,

Like so many modern liberal-minded intellectuals, he has a horror of being judgmental. He knows that Jonathan Ross is a coarse figure, but he reasons that if there are people who enjoy his crudeness and lavatory humour and peppering of four-letter words, he is not going to prevent them from having what they desire. There is a fissure in him that permits this moral relativism. For himself and his family he wants culture and standards of decency, but if there are others who prefer dross, he is not going to stand in their way.

Yet, more than any other organisation, the BBC should not be in the business of providing dross. It is protected from the market. It was founded on high and noble principles. It does not have to follow the worst trends - far less take the lead - and lure us into the gutter. Mr Thompson might not be fitted by background or temperament to edit the Daily Smut, but he has all the attributes to guide the BBC towards higher ground. And yet he does not do so.

The French philosopher Julien Benda famously coined the phrase 'La Trahison des Clercs' - the betrayal of the intellectuals. He was thinking of French and German 19th-century intellectuals who had become apologists for militarism and nationalism. The modern trahison des clercs is that of liberal intellectuals like Mr Thompson who can recognise goodness and truth but, out of fear of appearing judgmental or proscriptive, will not help others to find them.

This moral dereliction amounts to a fatal arrogance. Mr Thompson knows why it is wrong to scatter four-letter words on television. He can see that the kind of humour purveyed by the likes of Ross and Brand does not raise people up but often pushes them down. But, because he is terrified of being seen imposing his values - which are, in fact, almost indistinguishable from the old values of the BBC - he has so far said: let them have what they want. Then he returns to the books and music and culture of his pleasant house in Oxford....

BBC bosses were not able to see what was objectionable about Ross and Brand's outpourings, but thousands of ordinary people, once alerted, could. It was the shocking realisation that many licence-payers had had enough - that they still defended standards of decency and proper behaviour - that finally jerked Mr Thompson out of his holiday reveries....

Will this historic cultural victory stick? Yesterday's Mail reported that, in April, a BBC1 comedy drama called Love Soup showed a woman being 'raped' by a dog. The BBC still pumps out many programmes that offend against decency and taste, and are often particularly offensive to women. We should not imagine that the tap will be turned off in a trice. But, maybe the affair of those unfunny and grossly overpaid vulgarians Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand will show Mr Thompson and his senior colleagues that the BBC has become dangerously out of step with many of the people who pay its bills.

If Mr Thompson does not have the courage to act on his moral convictions, he will be wise to listen to the outrage of those who do.


Outrage as British council makes pupils stand on chairs and pledge to be nice to gypsy children

Villagers opposing plans for a travellers site have accused a council of attempting to 'brainwash' their children. Pupils aged between six and 11 were requested to stand up and promise to 'welcome newcomers' and not bully them. The incident happened at a workshop for youngsters that was part of Local Democracy Week, where talks were organised by Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council.

A large proportion of the scores of children present were from Spooners Row Primary School, near Wymondham, Norfolk. Residents there are battling plans by South Norfolk District Council to build a permanent travellers' site with eight pitches. One parent, who asked not to be named, said: 'It appears as if the council was targeting children with propaganda to try to get them on side. My first thought was that it was disgusting to target children in such an underhand way when so many people oppose the new site.'

Another parent said: 'It's out of order that the council has done this.' They added: 'If I had been there I would have stood up and said, "Stop this". It's in breach of the children's rights, surely?' Another parent complained the workshop was planting thoughts about bullying into the minds of children who had probably not thought of it.

The primary school's headmaster, Simon Wakeman, has made an official complaint to the council. He said yesterday that a council official connected with the plans for the travellers' camp had been at the workshop-The two people taking the workshop asked the children if they wanted to stand up and make a pledge,' he said. 'None of the children stood up because I suspect they felt awkward, but the pledge was read out anyway. 'They were asked to make a series of promises to be kind to gipsy and traveller children, welcome them into the community and not bully them. The children were encouraged to put their fingers in the air or their hands on their hearts to signify their acceptance.'

He added that he supported talks to 'build bridges in society', but opposed having children make pledges, particularly in light of their parents' anxiety over the travellers' site. Mr Wakeman said the workshop had left the school in an 'invidious position' as it had gone to lengths to remain objective about the proposals but parents were now questioning its neutral stance.

The talk, on October 17, was one of several on offer to schoolchildren at the council's offices in Long Stratton. Headmasters chose which ones their pupils attended. No one from the Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council was available to comment yesterday.

John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, has sent a personal apology to the school but yesterday he insisted that the council was not responsible for what the equality council told the youngsters. 'The workshop was run by the local racial equality council who are experts in this particular field and the council had no direct input in what was said.


That Leftist "tolerance" again

Vandals hit two San Jose homes with signs supporting ban on same-sex marriage

For the second time in a week, homeowners in South San Jose have been targeted for their support of a proposition that would change the California constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Unlike the previous incident where no law was broken, the culprits who spray-painted large "No on 8" messages Sunday night on the garage doors of two homes on a cul-de-sac near Monterey and Bernal roads could face jail time and a fine if arrested and convicted. San Jose police were called to the scene and filed a report, according to the homeowners.

The maximum sentencing for felony vandalism conviction is three years in state prison and/or a $10,000 fine, according to a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. For a misdemeanor conviction, the maximum punishment is one year in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The homeowners, Tom and Kelly Byrne and Frank and Evalina Ybarra, had "Yes on 8, Protect Marriage" signs posted on their front lawns on Southgate Court for about a week. The Byrnes and Ybarras, friends who live across from each other on the small cul-de-sac, had their garage doors spray-painted in large letters with the words "No on 8." The "No on 8" slogan refers to the hotly contested Proposition 8 ballot measure in next week's election that would ban same-sex marriage in California.

The rear window of the Byrnes' minivan was also hit with red spray paint. Two other homes located deeper into the cul-de-sac with Yes on 8 signs were unscathed.

"Regardless that it's Prop. 8, I'm angry that somebody would take it upon themselves to destroy my property," Kelly Byrne said. "To have such little respect for me as a person. It angers me that they would do something so extreme instead of coming and talking to me, especially if it's someone in our neighborhood. "Instead they took the cowardly way and painted our house."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Public must think we have all gone mad, says British judge left powerless to jail burglar who terrorised pregnant mother

A judge has hit out at sentencing guidelines which stopped him from jailing a burglar who terrorised a heavily pregnant mother. Recorder Shaun Smith said the public 'must think we've all gone mad or soft' as he let Dominic Wong walk free. Wong had admitted battering his way into Safa Moustafa's home and stealing cash while she cowered upstairs with her two-year-old daughter.

Trauma from her ordeal has left her a virtual prisoner in her own home, but Recorder Smith said he was powerless to put Wong behind bars because it was his first burglary offence. Instead he had to hand out a community service order. The judge said: 'This is sentencing by numbers. I want to send you to prison. The public want to see you go to prison. But I can't send you to prison because of the guidelines I have been given.'

Last night Mrs Moustafa's husband Ahmed, 31, a highways consultant, reacted with outrage. He said: 'We're the victims, but no one cares about us. The whole system is completely on its head. 'If a judge wants to send someone to prison but can't then what's the point of a judge in the first place?'

Jobless Wong forced his way into 28-year-old Mrs Moustafa's home in Loughborough, Leicestershire, on September 15 this year. She was seven months pregnant at the time. She and her daughter, who was not named, were upstairs and stayed hiding as Wong smashed his way through the front door before helping himself to money. When police arrived at the scene they discovered him lurking in the garden of the house next door, which he had also tried to break into.

In a victim impact statement read to Leicester Crown Court, Mrs Moustafa said: 'I'm now very nervous and anxious in my own home. I'm forever checking doors and windows and keep looking outside to see who's around. 'I can't even go into the garden unless my husband is here. I can't be alone in the house and have friends to sleep over.' Mrs Moustafa said her daughter had become 'nervous and clingy'. She added: 'Because of this man's actions, I hope the court sends him to prison to make him understand exactly how he has affected our lives.'

But James Weston, defending, said it was Wong's first offence and the starting point was a community sentence. The law recommends first-time burglars should be spared custody if the case can satisfy certain conditions. The sentence has to represent an effective punishment and should tackle problems such as an offender's drug addiction.

Wong, of Loughborough, who claimed he would 'turn back the clock' if he could, also admitted burgling the house next door. He was given a two-year community order with 240 hours of unpaid work and was made the subject of a six-month night-time curfew. He was also told to pay 350 pounds compensation to the mother.

Mr Moustafa said the sentence did not reflect the damage Wong had inflicted. He said: 'My wife and daughter have been mentally scarred. My wife could have had a miscarriage. 'She was screaming "I'm pregnant!", but he still kept hitting the door until he managed to get in. 'Would he have still got a community order if my wife had suffered a miscarriage? I can only assume so, if that's what these guidelines say.'

The case came as Justice Secretary Jack Straw attacked liberal justice groups who 'drive him nuts' by focusing on the 'needs' of offenders instead of punishment.


A Vote Against Homosexual Marriage is a Vote FOR Tolerance

by Frank Turek

Twenty years ago, a group of prominent homosexuals got together in Warrentown, Virginia to map out their plan to get homosexuality accepted by the general public. In the book that resulted from their meeting, they revealed a strategy that achieves its effect "without reference to facts, logic or proof . . . the person's beliefs can be altered whether he is conscious of the attack or not."

In other words, their strategy was pure propaganda. That propaganda campaign has many people today believing that denying same-sex marriage involves denying rights to a victimized minority. That belief could not be further from the truth. In fact, let me suggest what the same-sex marriage debate is not about.

It is not about equality or equal rights.
It is not about discrimination against a class of people.
It is not about denying homosexuals the ability to commit to one another.
It is not about love or private relationships.
It is not about bigotry or homophobia.
It is not about sexual orientation or being born a certain way.
It is not about race or the civil rights struggle.
It is not about interracial marriage.
It is not about heterosexuals and divorce.
It is not about the separation of church and state.
It is not even about religion.

"But that's all I hear about," you say. Of course, that's because the propaganda campaign continues to be successful. Those topics are all smokescreens designed to divert you. In fact, for homosexuals, this debate isn't even about marriage. As data from countries with same-sex marriage show, approximately 96 percent of homosexuals don't get married when they are given the opportunity. And those that do get "married" break up at a much higher rate than heterosexuals.

Since most homosexuals don't want to get married or stay married, then why are homosexual activists so adamant about government recognition of same-sex marriage? Because same-sex marriage will win them what they really want-validation and normalization. In other words, the activists want same-sex marriage because they understand that government-backed same-sex marriage will validate and normalize homosexuality throughout society.

The key point here is "government-backed." Homosexuals already can "marry" one another privately. There is just no government version of it. Nothing is stopping homosexuals from pledging themselves to one another in private same-sex marriage ceremonies. In fact, it is done all the time-there is an entire cottage industry for "gay" weddings.

But that's not enough for homosexual activists. What they want is government endorsement for their relationships. They know that such endorsement will make homosexuality and their behavior appear just as normal as heterosexuality. That's why the same-sex marriage movement has more to do with respect than rights.

Greg Koukl puts this very well: "Same-sex marriage is not about civil rights. It is about validation and social respect. It is a radical attempt at civil engineering using government muscle to strong-arm the people into accommodating a lifestyle many find deeply offensive, contrary to nature, socially destructive, and morally repugnant." Same-sex marriage advocate Andrew Sullivan understands this. He writes, "Including homosexuals within marriage would be a means of conferring the highest form of social approval imaginable."

This is the real reason homosexual activists are relentlessly pushing to get the government to endorse same-sex marriage. Most don't want to get "married," but they do want the social approval that same-sex marriage will win them.

Once they get that legal and social approval, no one disagreeing with them will be safe. Schools, businesses, churches, and charities will be bludgeoned with threats and lawsuits until they abandon their convictions and agree to promote what is pleasantly called "diversity." Ironically, the only view allowed by the coming diversity police is the narrow view that you must celebrate homosexuality. No other view will be tolerated.

In fact, this intolerance is already happening and will get worse if same-sex marriage spreads. A federal court recently denied parents the right to know when homosexuality was being discussed in their Massachusetts schools because gay marriage is now legal there. Also in Massachusetts, a Catholic adoption agency was forced to close its doors rather than provide children to homosexual couples as the state now demands. In New Jersey, a Christian ministry was investigated for refusing to conduct a same-sex ceremony. In California, a doctor was sued for refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian. Several other examples of gay intolerance can be found here, and the unbelievable forced normalization of homosexuality in businesses, schools and charities throughout Massachusetts can be found here. (Click on that link if you really want to see how bad the intolerance can get.)

Moreover, as I've shown in Gay Marriage: Even Liberals Know It's Bad, government-backed same-sex marriage also will hurt our children, our health, our economy and our nation. Thankfully, voters still have the choice to not endorse intolerance and political correctness. The good people of California, Arizona and Florida can vote for tolerance this Election Day by confirming that marriage is only between one man and one woman.


British "health & safety" Nazis obliterate an ancient right for no good reason

They want to assert their ownership of what is not theirs. Power is what bureaucrats want and ownership gives power

If you go down to the woods today, forget about disguise - you'd better wear a hard hat and a hi-viz jacket. Dingly Dell has fallen to the elf 'n' safety nazis. For the past 12 years, retired builder Mike Kamp has been collecting firewood from the forest near his home at Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. It's a right enshrined in the Magna Carta of 1215, the template for democracies around the world. Free men down the centuries have been granted the liberty to gather dead wood from common land to fuel their stoves, repair their homes and make charcoal.

That was before the Forestry Commission came along and started demanding that anyone wanting to collect wood would need a licence to forage. Now it has imposed an outright ban, stating: 'This is an area where we are subject to increasing constraints in terms of health and safety. We have a duty of care to people in our wood.' Note the use of the possessive our wood. It isn't their wood. It's common land and it belongs to everyone.

As Mr Kamp said: 'They are claiming there are health and safety issues. But people have walked through the woods collecting firewood for hundreds of years without too many safety problems.' Precisely. I doubt there is one recorded incident of a firewood-related fatality in North Wales. This, as usual, is about bureaucrats justifying their own sad existence and protecting their backs in the event of someone turning their ankle in a rabbit hole, ringing Blame Direct, and suing for com-pensayshun.

It's the same warped thinking which led to plans for an open-air ice rink in Bath this Christmas being abandoned because council officials feared it could be a magnet for paedophiles. How sick do you have to be to reach that conclusion?

And a school in Colchester has banned children from bringing in broomsticks for Halloween in case they get hurt. In fairness, they were only following official advice on the NHS website: 'Be careful with witches' brooms made from sticks. If the sticks get dislodged, they are a choking hazard. These brooms should be labelled For Adult Use Only.'

You couldn't make it up. Where is it all going to end?


Apple Computer Co. Takes a Stand Against Gay-Marriage Ban in California

Company Announces Huge Donation to Defeat Proposition

Apple has joined Google in publicly opposing a California ballot initiative that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. The company announced last week that it would donate $100,000 to the No on Prop 8 campaign, which opposes a measure to ban gay marriage that California voters will consider a week from Tuesday, CNET reports. Google has also spoken out against the ballot measure.

"Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees' same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person's fundamental rights - including the right to marry - should not be affected by their sexual orientation," the company said in a statement posted to the Hot News section of its website, reports CNET writer Tom Krazit on a network blog,

"Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8," the statement continued.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Black man has to remind Britain's Labour government that they are supposed to be on the side of the worker

Britain risks a surge in Right-wing extremism if it fails to help its white working class weather the recession, the equalities chief will warn today. Trevor Phillips will break with years of political convention to call for the law to be changed to enshrine positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged whites. His startling intervention in the race debate is a rebuke to Harriet Harman, who earlier this year trumpeted plans to make companies discriminate in favour of women and ethnic minorities.

Mr Phillips said ministers should allow councils and education authorities to introduce 'positive action' programmes aimed specifically at young whites unable to compete with highly skilled immigrants because the 'need is so great'. And he warned that immigration has fuelled 'resentments that are real and should not be dismissed - resentments felt by white, black and Asian'.

The chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission set out his thinking to the Daily Mail ahead of his appearance at a CBI event on immigration today alongside immigration minister Phil Woolas. Mr Phillips said failure to help white families hit by the downturn could drive them into the arms of far-Right parties similar to those that have brought turmoil to Austria, Belgium and Holland. He also warned that ministers needed to acknowledge the resentment by some whites over what they see as unfair help given to blacks and Asians. 'What we are seeing is that there is a whole group of people, a large proportion of whom are white, who are going to suffer from this crisis who are going to be the people we should want to help, particularly because they come from the wrong side of town,' he said.

'We are going to have to do something special for them. We are going to have to put extra resources where young people can't compete with migrants' skills. 'And in some parts of the country, it is clear that what defines disadvantage won't be black or brown, it will be white. And we will have to take positive action to help some white groups, what we might call the white underclass.'

And he warned: 'We know what the political consequences are because we have seen it on the Continent. 'If we ignore the fact some white groups are going to be disadvantaged we will end up with the same kind of conflicts we have seen in Austria, Belgium and now Holland, where the anti-immigrant racist Right-wing parties get a big boost. 'We need to do more to help those who are going to suffer and who will then think that the reason they are suffering is their colour. 'We need to pay attention to that white underclass that happens not to live in the right part of town.'

Politicians have long shied away from allowing positive discrimination, claiming it flies in the face of equality laws. But its supporters claim the system is a necessary way of helping minorities finding it difficult to get a job or housing, by pushing them to the top of the queue.

In June, Miss Harman angered business leaders by revealing plans for new anti-discrimination laws. She said she wanted to see more women and ethnic minorities promoted into senior posts and would use next year's Equalities Bill to discriminate in their favour. Under the plans, firms will be forced to reveal the salary gap between their male and female staff to shame employers into bringing them into line. But in what was seen as a clear 'white men need not apply', she made no attempt to suggest that whites could benefit from positive discrimination as well.

Mr Phillips said he wanted to see the bill used to help whites. And he added Miss Harman had been looking at the work of the commission. 'Positive action now in Britain is more likely to mean programmes for people who are poor, white and come from workless households than it is for East African Asians, for example,' he added.

Earlier this summer, Miss Harman insisted: 'It is important to encourage applications from minority groups, but we are strongly against positive discrimination so someone gets a job just because they are black or disabled.'

Mr Phillips also warned against allowing the economic crisis to trigger an outburst of anti-immigrant feeling in the UK. 'It's dangerous and it's divisive,' he said. He claimed immigrants could act as a 'buffer' against the impact of recession because they are more likely to return to their countries than stay in Britain and swell the unemployment register. 'If it wasn't for the fact that migrants from eastern Europe are now going home you would see a great many more people unemployed in this country,' he claimed.

Last week, Mr Woolas was forced to backtrack after suggesting that there should be a cap on the number of immigrants allowed into the country. Last night, Mr Phillips dismissed Mr Woolas's call for a cap, saying: 'We need to control it, we need to be tough on borders but the idea is a promise no one can deliver.'


Journalists who have been taught to hate Western civilization

What's happening in this terrifying, Orwellian US presidential race is the flip side of the madness that's been on display since 9/11 itself, when swathes of the UK population decided that `America had it coming to it' because it supported Israel, and that George W Bush was the most dangerous man on the planet. After the Iraq war started this irrationality swelled into pathological proportions on both sides of the Atlantic, when the `Bush lied, people died' narrative fuelled a hatred of Bush and `the neocons' exceeded in its hallucinatory and murderous venom only by the truly deranged way in which the media and intelligentsia systematically either ignored evidence that did not fit this narrative or, even more astoundingly, reported it in such a way that it delivered the opposite of what was actually happening or being said.

In this way not only has history been rewritten, not only have Britain and America been to a greater or lesser extent turned against themselves and demoralised by the propaganda of their mortal enemies recycled as truth by our fifth-column Big Media, but they have been incited to an ugly and dangerous level of irrationality, hatred and hysteria which history tells us presages the twilight of freedom. It is that media class which, in refusing to tell the public what it needs to know about Barack Obama, may now finally install in the White House the man who personifies the repudiation of the American power and western values that the media and left-wing intelligentsia (of which the media is the mouthpiece) have themselves spared no effort to destroy these past seven years As ABC columnist Michael Malone protests:
What I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography....

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.
So much indeed. That's why, as Mark Steyn observes, the media has had a feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin's clothes allowance while all but ignoring the evidence of criminal fundraising for the Obama campaign being facilitated by the Obama campaign:
The gentleman who started the ball rolling made four donations under the names `John Galt', `Saddam Hussein', `Osama bin Laden', and `William Ayers', all using the same credit card number. He wrote this morning to say that all four donations have been charged to his card and the money has now left his account. Again, it's worth pointing out: in order to enable the most basic card fraud of all - multiple names using a single credit card number - the Obama campaign had to manually disable all the default security checks provided by their merchant processor.
Now look at this. Back in April, the LA Times ran this story reporting on the going-away party for Rashid Khalidi, Obama's close friend, who justifies Palestinian violence against Israel and who was leaving for a job in New York. Khalidi is a deeply troubling individual, a former PLO operative and close friend of unreprentant former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers. As I have reported before, in 2000 Khalidi and his wife Mona held a fundraiser for Obama's unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, an Arab group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi received a $40,000 grant from the Woods Fund of Chicago when Obama was on the fund's board of directors. Obama has said that his many talks with the Khalidis had been
consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases... It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table, but around this entire world.'
The LA Times reported:
During the dinner a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, `then you will never see a day of peace.' One speaker likened `Zionist settlers on the West Bank' to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been `blinded by ideology.'
The paper reported that not only had Obama been present at the party but had praised Khalidi - and it actually had obtained a videotape of the whole event. Yet it has refused to make this video public - even though it would be of great interest, to put it mildly, to see who else was there. Indeed, as the now defunct New York Sun reported:
In Chicago, the Khalidis founded the Arab American Action Network, and Mona Khalidi served as its president. A big farewell dinner was held in their honor by AAAN with a commemorative book filled with testimonials from their friends and political allies. These included the left wing anti-war group Not In My Name, the Electronic Intifada, and the ex-Weatherman domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.
As Gateway Pundit comments:
It's hard to imagine that the LA Times would hold onto a video of Sarah Palin praising an antisemitic radical and former PLO operative...But, that is today's mainstream media.
But now look at what happens when the media does begin to do its job properly. As the Orlando Sentinel reported:
WFTV-Channel 9's Barbara West conducted a satellite interview with Sen. Joe Biden on Thursday. West wondered about Sen. Barack Obama's comment, to Joe the Plumber, about spreading the wealth. She quoted Karl Marx and asked how Obama isn't being a Marxist with the `spreading the wealth' comment. `Are you joking?' said Biden, who is Obama's running mate. `No,' West said. West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America's days as the world's leading power were over. `I don't know who's writing your questions,' Biden shot back. Biden so disliked West's line of questioning that the Obama campaign cancelled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate's wife.
In that interview, Biden also flatly denied that the Obama campaign was funding corrupt Acorn to deliver voter registration. But as the Investor's Business Daily has reported, it did - and then tried to hide it:
Obama paid ACORN, which has endorsed him for president, $800,000 to register new voters, payments his campaign failed to accurately report. (They were disguised in his FEC disclosure as payments to a front group called Citizen Services Inc. for `advance work.')
At NRO Mark Levin identifies a terrifying historical echo when he shudders that, such is the tide of irrationality running in this campaign, the American public appears to be falling under the cult-like spell of an authoritarian demagogue. He is surely correct. For all Obama's laid-back, attractive appearance this election is being fought in an atmosphere of menace. Menace in the way ACORN is intimidating voters into multiple registrations. Menace in the way criminal donations to the Obama campaign have been institutionalised. Menace in the serial lies being told by Obama, Biden and the campaign rebuttal team. Menace in the way the few remaining proper journalists such as Stanley Kurtz are finding sources of information shut down and themselves shut out when they attempt to probe Obama's deeply dubious associations. Menace in the smears and hysterical abuse directed at anyone who questions The One. Menace in the threat of violence if Obama doesn't win. Menace in the pre-emptive smear that the only thing that could bring about an Obama defeat is the inherent racism of the American voters - a smear that potentially identifies all those who vote against him as public enemies.

Over the past seven years, the media has created the Big Lie that America is the biggest rogue state in the world, with Israel its proxy. Now it is ensuring that a man who will act on that very premise to crush America and destroy Israel will be placed in the White House to do so. It is not just that the west's Big Media can no longer be trusted. It has become the most important weapon in the arsenal of the enemies of the free world.


Sarah Palin Talks About Her $35 Wedding Ring: "It's Not What It's Made Of... It's What It Represents"

No wonder they fear her. Sarah Palin is an American classic. Today in Florida where she was campaigning with Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Sean Hannity, she talked about her thrift store clothes and her earrings made by her Indian mother in law in Alaska. She also talked about her $35 wedding ring:

Palin told the crowd that she bought the wedding ring herself she said, "It's not what it's made of... It's what it represents." You won't hear that too often in the elitist social circles. This will just make them hate her more.


Australia: Another Muslim rapist

Shades of Hakeem Hakeem and the Skaf brothers (etc.)!

A man has been jailed for eight years for raping an unconscious woman who woke to find him on top of her and his mates laughing and jeering. The Victorian County Court was told Mohammad Khan, 28, met the woman at the 3D nightclub in central Melbourne on December 9, 2006. The woman had been drinking and had taken ecstasy during the night when she met a group of men in the club linked to Khan, the court was told.

She was described by witnesses as being happy and alert before she awoke about 5.30am the next day in an alley to find a man on top of her assaulting her. The court was told two or three other males were watching and "laughing and jeering," Judge John Smallwood said. Judge Smallwood said the woman felt bewildered and believed she had been drugged. She yelled at the man to get off her.

A jury earlier rejected Khan's contention that the woman agreed to sex, and found him guilty of one count of rape. Judge Smallwood said Khan had taken advantage of a woman in a helpless and vulnerable situation. While he accepted that Khan had fallen into the drug and rave scene, he said he was clearly intelligent and would have been aware that what he was doing was wrong. He ordered Khan serve at least 5® years' jail.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

British prisons boss toughens up

Liberals who push criminal rights drive me nuts, says Justice Secretary Jack Straw

Jack Straw will today launch a withering attack on liberal justice groups who 'drive him nuts' by focusing on the 'needs' of offenders instead of punishment. In a landmark speech, the Justice Secretary will unleash a broadside against the 'prison reform lobby', condemning groups with which Labour has forged close links and accusing them of being 'lost in a fog of platitudes' and overlooking the suffering of victims.

The tough tone of Mr Straw's speech appears to mark a dramatic turning away from the liberal consensus on prison policy. For years this has stressed the need to understand prisoners' problems and 'needs', while playing down the role of jail as a harsh deterrent to force them to mend their ways. It is likely to be seen as a bid to re-establish Labour as the party of law and order at a time when the Conservatives are pledging measures to fix Britain's 'broken society', and public concerns are growing over gun and knife crime and the crisis in the country's overcrowded prisons.

Mr Straw served as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, and resumed responsibility for prisons when he became Justice Secretary in June 2007. He will tell his audience at the Royal Society of Arts in London today that the Government is not returning to 'Victorian notions' of crime and punishment but must be 'crystal clear about what the public expect the justice system to do on their behalf: to punish those who have broken the law'.

He will lament the way concepts of 'punishment and reform' have become 'unfashionable', adding: 'We should not shy away from the fact that the sentences of the court are first and foremost for the punishment of those who have broken the law, broken society's rules.' He will go on to say: 'The criminal justice lobby today is full of people . . . who do a very good job. 'However, I am concerned that it has retreated into language that doesn't chime with the public. 'When I hear phrases like "criminogenic needs of offenders" it drives me nuts . . . I profoundly disagree that we should describe someone's amoral desire to go thieving as a "need" equivalent to that of victims or the law-abiding public.'

The Justice Secretary's focus on the central role of punishment in prisons is likely to infuriate groups such as the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, which have enjoyed close ties with the Government since Labour took office in 1997. Such reforming groups have enjoyed years of Home Office funding while senior ministers - including Mr Straw himself - have been frequent speakers at their conferences. By contrast, groups espousing much tougher approaches to law and order, such as the Victims of Crime Trust, have mostly been sidelined under Labour.

Mr Straw also risks a backlash from opposition critics demanding to know why he is adopting a tougher tone now, more than 11 years after Labour took office, and having personally overseen the Government's criminal justice policy for much of that time. He is currently under fire over his department's policy of releasing thousands of convicted prisoners before they complete their sentences, as an emergency measure to cope with the lack of prison capacity in England and Wales. Hundreds have gone on to commit further offences when they should have been behind bars.


Obama, Alinsky and the Marxist Left

The importance of this election to all Americans and the future of our country cannot be over stated. The United States has never had the possibility of a virtual Marxist in the oval office before. The Democrat Party has been taken over by the extreme left wing to the extent that earlier Democrats like Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey would not recognize it. The Wall Street Journal ran an article that should scare everyone about what will happen if Obama is elected and Democrats achieve a veto-proof majority in the Senate; it being a foregone conclusion that Democrats will have a majority in the House.

"If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.

The nearby table shows [table not shown] the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010."

Saved by Filibuster: [Bills that were passed by the House in the 110th Congress but were blocked in the Senate]

Union Card Check
Representation for District of Columbia
Windfall Profit Tax on Oil Companies
Renegotiation of Contracts in Bankruptcy
Resurrection of the 'Fairness Doctrine'

It is fair to ask how we have gotten to the point where a charismatic Marxist is within walking distance to the White House. The answer is that a perfect storm of socialism has been developed by shrewd people behind the scene, a leftist news media and careful long term planning. All major players are acolytes of communist Saul Alinski who taught his students the Rules for Radicals to take over the country by working from within.

Saul Alinsky wrote two books where he described his organizational principles and strategies: Reveille for Radicals (1946) and Rules for Radicals (1971). Rules for Radicals begins with a quote about Lucifer, written by Saul Alinsky: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky wrote: "Here I propose to present an arrangement of certain facts and general concepts of change, a step toward a science of revolution"; building on the tactical principles of Machiavelli: "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals are written for the Have-nots on how to take it away."

Alinsky's Rules are concerned with the acquisition of power: "my aim here is to suggest how to organize for power: how to get it and how to use it." This is not to be done with assistance to the poor, or even by organizing the poor to demand assistance: "Even if all the low-income parts of our population were organized ... it would not be powerful enough to get significant, basic, needed changes."

Alinsky advises the organizer to target the middle class, rather than the poor: "Organization for action will now and in the decade ahead center upon America's white middle class. That is where the power is."

Clearly Alinsky is interested in the middle class only because it is useful: "Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and the way of life of the middle class. They have stigmatized it as materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering, brutalized and corrupt. They are right; but we must begin from where we are if we are to build power for change and the power and the people are in the middle class majority."

Does this sound familiar? Obama is calling for "change" but the change Obama seeks is right out of the Alinsky Rule book.

In his Rules for Radicals Alinsky defends belief that the end justifies the means: "to say that corrupt the ends, is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles ... the practical revolutionary will understand ... [that] in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one's individual conscience and the good of mankind."

Altogether, Alinsky provides eleven rules of the ethics of means and ends. They are morally relativistic; the main one is that the Rules for Radicals "are therefore concerned with how to win. In such a conflict, neither protagonist is concerned with any value except victory. . "The third rule of the ethics of means and ends is that in war the ends justifies almost any means." "There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds, he becomes a founding father."

Rules for Radicals teach the organizer that he must give a moral appearance (as opposed to behaving morally): "All effective action requires the passport of morality." The tenth rule of the ethics of means and ends states "that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments ... Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means."

Rules for Radicals provide the organizer with a strategy for community organization that assumes an adversarial relationship between groups of people in which one either dominates or is dominated. "The first rule of power tactics is: power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have." "Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat." "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this. They can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity." "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage."

"The threat is generally more terrifying than the thing itself." "In a fight almost anything goes. It almost reaches the point where you stop to apologize if a chance blow lands above the belt." "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. One of the criteria for picking the target is the target's vulnerability ... the other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract. The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength."

Rules for Radicals stresses organizational power-collecting: "The ego of the organizer is stronger and more monumental than the ego of the leader. The organizer is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which a man can reach -- to create, to be a `great creator', to play God."

Alinsky Thought Hillary Clinton was a terrific "organizer" and wanted her to become his prot‚g‚. She and Bill Clinton have employed Alinsky's tactics probably better than anyone else, until Barack Obama came along.

Obama has followed Alinsky's Rules perfectly. Although Alinsky was an atheist, Alinsky recognized the importance of church communities as springboards for agitation and for demanding goods and services. Obama undertook his agitating work in Chicago's South Side poor neighborhoods but he was not yet a church goer although he did have an office in a Church. The people he intended to organize were Church people who were serious church-goers. Many people asked where he went to church. He evaded the question for a while but then decided to join a church.

Of course the selection of a church to join was important. He decided to join a huge Black Nationalist Church with a pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who openly preached "black" gospel. Rolling Stone Magazine had a story on Obama and his church, entitled, "Destiny's Child," which included this excerpt from one of Rev. Wright's sermons (from an article by Kyle-Anne Schiver in American Thinker):
"Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college," he intones. Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!"

"We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means! And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS S**T!"
Obama has called Reverend Wright his spiritual mentor and still claims he is his sounding board. Among some of the Black Nationalist signs hanging in this church are a list of admonishments to black solidarity, called the "Black Value System," and a sort of moral code calling for the "Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclass ness." This doesn't sound like the Ten Commandments to me nor does this seem like any church I am familiar with.

Let's see how Obama follows Alinsky's Rules to defeat John McCain and win the election. Barack Obama mocks John McCain, while urging his followers to "get in their face," these are tactics right out of Saul Alinsky's playbook: ridicule and agitation.

During a Las Vegas rally Obama joked about McCain for what he described as lauding about "how as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, he had oversight of every part of the economy." "Well, all I can say to Sen. McCain is, 'Nice job. Nice job,'" Obama said sarcastically; "Where is he getting these lines? It's like a 'Saturday Night Live' routine."

Alinsky advised community organizers like Obama to "laugh at the enemy" to provoke "irrational anger." "Ridicule," he said, "is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage."

Obama speaks in a quiet voice and almost always wears a business suit. Both are also borrowed from Alinsky's Rules. "Don't scare" the middle class. Instead, look like them, talk like them, act like them." Alinsky taught his followers to work for radical change from the inside. Obama said in his first memoir "like a spy behind enemy lines." He wrote it before entering politics, while still working with Alinsky groups and training street agitators known as "community organizers" for ACORN. In 1983 Obama wrote he became a community organizer in ACORN because of "The need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds."

Here are some other examples of how well Obama follows the Alinsky Rules (from a Yahoo News article).

"Rule: "Rub raw the resentments of the people; search out controversy and issues." In the mortgage meltdown, for instance, Obama vows to prosecute "predatory lenders" for "abusing" minority borrowers. He's also stoking class resentment by painting Wall Street and other executives as villains.

Rule: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." In an ad to woo Hispanic voters, Obama demonized Rush Limbaugh by falsely claiming he made racist statements against immigrants.

Rule: "A mass impression can be lasting and intimidating." This explains why Obama moved his acceptance speech to a football stadium and bussed in 85,000 supporters. Alinsky's son was so impressed, he praised Obama for learning his father's "lesson well."

Rule: "Multiple issues mean constant action and life" for the cause. This is why Obama never harps on one issue, as Hillary did with health care. His platform is packed with grievances from "economic justice" to "reproductive justice" to "environmental justice.""

Obama is following almost perfectly the outline for socialist revolution written by the founder of community organizing, Saul Alinsky. Not that Obama is altogether home free, but he uses his war room effectively. After Sarah Palin ridiculed Obama's community organizing in one speech, Obama surrogates quickly claimed Palin was bringing up the phrase as a racist code for "black."

Mention of "Community Organizing" is not racism, but racism is a code word used by communists. McCain should make that point instead of legitimizing such radicalism, as he did recently when he said, "I respect community organizers; and Senator Obama's record there is outstanding" -- which contradicted Sarah Palin in another example of the incompetent McCain campaign.

Alinksy could never have dreamed a disciple would be in a battle for the most powerful job in the world, let along have a good chance of winning. Nor would I have believed so many Americans would fall for the socialist claptrap of Barack Obama.


In defense of 'the rich'

By Larry Elder

So what do "the rich" pay in federal income taxes? Nothing, right? That, at least, is what most people think. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wants to raise the top marginal rate for "the rich" - known in some quarters as "job creators." A recent poll commissioned by Investor's Business Daily asked, in effect, "What share do you think the rich pay?" Their findings? Most people are completely clueless about how much the rich actually do pay.

First, the data. The top 5 percent (those making more than $153,542 - the group whose taxes Mr. Obama seeks to raise) pay 60 percent of all federal income taxes. The rich (a k a the top 1 percent of income earners, those making more than $388,806 a year), according to the Internal Revenue Service, pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 1 percent's taxes comprise 17 percent of the federal government's revenue from all sources, including corporate taxes, excise taxes, social insurance and retirement receipts.

Now, what do people think the rich pay? The IBD/TIPP poll found 36 percent of those polled thought the rich contribute 10 percent or less of all federal income taxes. Another 15 percent thought the rich pay between 10 percent and 20 percent, while another 10 percent thought the rich's share is between 20 and 30 percent. In other words, most people thought the rich pay less - far less - than they do. Only 12 percent of those polled thought the rich pay more than 40 percent.

Let's try this another way. A U.S.News & World Report blogger went to the Democratic National Convention in Denver and did an informal poll of 24 DNC delegates. He asked them, "What should 'the rich' pay in income taxes?" Half the respondents said "25 percent"; 25 percent said "20 percent"; 12 percent said "30 percent"; and another 12 percent said "35 percent." The average DNC delegate wanted the rich to pay 25.6 percent, which is lower than what the rich pay now - both by share of taxes and by tax rate!

Thirty percent of American voters pay nothing - zero, zip, nada - in federal income taxes. And, not too surprisingly, compared with taxpaying voters, they are more likely to support spending that benefits them. The majority of the 30 percent who don't pay federal income taxes agree with Mr. Obama's $65 billion plan to institute taxpayer-funded universal health coverage. But the majority of the 70 percent who pay federal income taxes oppose his health-care plan.

Non-taxpayers support Mr. Obama's plans for increased tax deductions for lower-income Americans, along with higher overall tax rates levied against middle- and upper-income households. The majority of non-taxpayers (57 percent) also favor raising the individual income-tax rate for those in the highest bracket from 35 percent to 54 percent. And the majority (59 percent) favors raising Social Security taxes by 4 percent for any individual or business that makes at least $250,000.

Mr. Obama calls increasing taxes and giving them to the needy a matter of "neighborliness." Vice presidential running mate Joe Biden calls it a matter of "patriotism." Yet when it comes to charitable giving, neither Mr. Obama (until recently) nor Mr. Biden feels neighborly or patriotic enough to donate as much as does the average American household: 2 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Liberal families earn about 6 percent more than conservative families, yet conservative households donate about 30 percent more to charity than do liberal households. And conservatives give more than just to their own churches and other houses of worship. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives, give far more money and donate more of their time to nonreligious charitable causes than do liberals - especially secular liberals.

In 2007, President George W. Bush and his wife had an adjusted gross income of $923,807. They paid $221,635 in taxes, and donated $165,660 to charity - or 18 percent of their income. Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, in 2007, had a taxable income of $3.04 million. And they paid $602,651 in taxes, and donated $166,547 to charity - or 5.5 percent of their income.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, earned between $200,000 and $300,000 a year between 2000 and 2004, and they donated less than 1 percent to charity. When their income soared to $4.2 million in 2007, their charitable contributions went up to 5 percent. Joe and Jill Biden, by contrast, made $319,853 and gave $995 to charity in 2007, or 0.3 percent of their income. And that was during the year Mr. Biden ran for president. Over the last 10 years, the Bidens earned $2,450,042 and gave $3,690 to charity - or 0.1 percent of their income.

So let's sum up. The "compassionate" liberals - at least based on charitable giving - show less compassion than "hardhearted" conservatives. The rich pay more in income taxes than people think. Voters, clueless about the facts, want the rich to pay still more.


When "Pauls" Outnumber "Peters"

For a long time, Americans have tolerated the incessant whine from a portion of their fellow citizens whose innumerable complaints can be reduced to a single idea: life is not fair. Question: why would any rational American want to put these people in charge of the country? You can dress up the rhetoric of Barack Obama any way you want, but in the final analysis it is all about government imposing "fairness" upon us-by any means necessary.

The ascendancy of Americans who believe somebody "owes" them something without regard to mitigating factors such as hard work, ambition and personal responsibility is breath-taking. Yet it is hardly surprising. Years of sub-standard education have produced Americans whose misunderstanding of reality is profound. They truly believe that none of the problems they face are of their own making. They truly believe equality of opportunity and equality of results are one and the same. They truly believe self-esteem has no relationship to accomplishment. In other words, it doesn't matter what you do, it only matters what you want. And if you don't get what you want, it's because America is a rotten country.

Barack Obama's entire political philosophy is based on the premise that America is essentially flawed. Not essentially good with some tweaking needed, but a net minus as a nation. That this essential contempt for America resonates with the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Hollywood celebrities, and the mainstream media is nothing new. Hating one's country-even as it has made you rich and/or famous-is what much elitist behavior is all about.

The rise of Barack Obama suggests that this contempt is no longer limited to the ivory towers of academe, Manhattan or San Francisco cocktail parties, the mainstream media, the aging hippies, the radicals, the misfits and the neer-do-wells. It suggests that we may have reached a watershed moment in American history: those who disdain this country may finally outnumber those who love it. Those who complain may outnumber those who achieve. Those who take may outnumber those who give.

Perhaps Barack Obama is truly a man ahead of his time. He has seemingly tapped into a wellspring of discontent as powerful as it is misguided. "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" sounds attractive-but only as as long as one has a steady supply of Peters ready,willing, and able to be bludgeoned by suffocating government. How long such people will be willing to put up with such an arrangement is anyone's guess. It is far easier to ride on the wagon than pull it-especially when those riding have the gall to suggest the pullers aren't doing their "fair share." What happens when everyone wants a free ride, aka when the "Pauls" outnumber the "Peters?" "Change you can believe in," that's what.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Tyrannical Logic of Liberalism

Jim Kalb below assumes more benign intentions among Leftists ("liberals") than I would but his point that their simple-minded rules ignore important factors and thus lead to adverse consequences is central

"The tyranny of liberalism" seems a paradox. Liberals say that they favor freedom, reason, and the well-being of ordinary people. Many people consider them high-minded and fair to a fault, "too broadminded to take their own side in a quarrel," too soft to govern effectively. Even the word "liberal" suggests "liberty." How can such an outlook and the social order it promotes be tyrannical?

The answer is that wanting freedom is not the same as having it. Political single-mindedness leads to oppression, and a tyranny of freedom and equality is no less possible than one of virtue or religion. We cannot be forced to be free or made equal by command, but since the French Revolution the attempt has become all too common and the results have often been tyrannical.

Tyranny is not, of course, what liberals have intended. They want government to be based on equal freedom, which they see as the only possible goal of a just and rational public order. But the functioning of any form of political society is determined more by the logic of its principles than the intentions of its supporters. Liberals view themselves as idealistic and progressive, but such a self-image conceals dangers even if it is not wholly illusory. It leads liberals to ignore considerations, like human nature and fundamental social and religious traditions, that have normally been treated as limits on reform. Freedom and equality are abstract, open-ended, and ever-ramifying goals that can be taken to extremes. Liberals tend to view these goals as a simple matter of justice and rationality that prudential considerations may sometimes delay but no principle can legitimately override. In the absence of definite limiting principles, liberal demands become more and more far-reaching and the means used to advance them ever more comprehensive, detailed, and intrusive.

The incremental style of liberalism obscures the radicalism of what it eventually demands and enables it always to present itself as moderate. What is called progress-in effect, movement to the left-is thought normal in present-day society, so to stand in its way, let alone to try to reverse accepted changes, is thought radical and divisive. We have come to accept that what was inconceivable last week is mainstream today and altogether basic tomorrow. The result is that the past is increasingly discredited, deviancy is defined up or down, and it becomes incredible that, for instance, until 1969 high school gun-club members took their guns to school on New York City subways, and that in 1944 there were only forty-four homicides by gunshot in the entire city.

Human life is harder to change than are proclaimed social standards. It is easier to denounce gender stereotypes than to make little boys and little girls the same. The triumph of liberalism in public discussion and the consequent disappearance of openly avowed nonliberal principles has led the outlook officially established to embody liberal views ever more completely and at the same time to diverge more and more from the permanent conditions of human life. The result has been a growing conflict between public standards and the normal human understandings that make commonsense judgments and good human relations possible.

The conflict between public standards and normal understandings has transformed and disordered such basic aspects of social life as politics, which depends on free and rational discussion; the family, which counts on a degree of harmony between public understandings and natural human tendencies; and scholarship, which relies on complex formal rules while attempting to explain reality. As a consequence, family life is chaotic and ill-tempered; young people are badly instructed and badly raised; politics are irrational, trivial, and mindlessly partisan; and scholarship is shoddy and disconnected from normal experience. Terms such as "zero tolerance" and "political correctness" reveal how an official outlook deeply at odds with normal ways of thinking has become oppressive while claiming to have reached an unprecedented level of fairness and rationality.

In a society that claims to be based on free speech and reason, intelligent discussion of many aspects of life has become all but impossible. Such a state of affairs is no passing fluke but a serious matter resulting from basic principles. It is the outcome of rationalizing and egalitarian trends that over time have become ever more self-conscious and all-embracing until they now make normal informal distinctions-for example, those between the sexes-seem intolerably arbitrary and unfair. Those trends have led to the politically correct managerial liberal regime that now dominates Western public life and makes demands that more and more people find unreasonable and even incomprehensible.

What defines that regime is the effort to manage and rationalize social life in order to bring it in line with comprehensive standards aimed at implementing equal freedom. The result is a pattern of governance intended to promote equality and individual gratification and marked by entitlement programs, sexual and expressive freedoms, blurred distinctions between the public and the private, and the disappearance of self-government. To implement such a program of social transformation an extensive system of controls over social life has grown up, sometimes public and sometimes formally private, that appeals for its justification to expertise, equity, safety, security, and the need to modify social attitudes and relationships in order to eliminate discrimination and intolerance.

The last are never clearly defined, but in practice they turn out to include all attitudes and distinctions that affect the order of social life but cannot be brought fully in line with market or bureaucratic principles, and so from the standpoint of those principles are simply irrational. "Discrimination and intolerance" are thus held to include those attitudes, habits, and ties-sex roles, historical loyalties, authoritative cultural understandings, religious commitments and teachings-on which independent, informal, traditional, and nonmarket institutions and arrangements normally rely in order to function and endure.....

Advanced liberalism has become an immensely powerful social reality. Liberal standards for human rights and government procedures are widely viewed as universally obligatory, at least in principle, and no competitor has comparable general appeal as a way of organizing social life. The technically rational organization of the world to give each of us as much as possible of what he wants is quite generally accepted as the correct guiding ideal for politics and social morality. Pluralism, the fight against discrimination, and an ethic of "caring" are accepted as political, social, and moral imperatives. And administrative and therapeutic intervention in all aspects of social life is considered the self-evident means of vindicating them. Such views are especially strong in the societies that have been enduringly successful in modern times, and among the intelligent, well-educated, and well-placed, most of whom believe them a matter of simple justice and rationality and can conceive of no other legitimate outlook. Concerns about self-government, moral traditions, and inherited loyalties do not carry anything close to the same weight. To make a serious issue of such concerns is regarded as a sign of ignorance or psychological or moral defect.

In spite of serious chronic problems that no one knows how to attack-extraordinarily low natality, rising costs of social-welfare programs, growing immigrant populations that do not assimilate-basic change seems unthinkable. No matter how pressing the problem, only analyses and solutions compatible with liberal positions are allowed in the public square. Almost all serious discussion is carried on through academic and other institutions that are fully integrated with the ruling order, and in any case antidiscrimination rules make wholehearted subscription to principles such as inclusiveness the only way to avoid legal and public relations problems that would make institutional life impossible. Genuine political discussion disappears. What pass as battles between liberals and conservatives are almost always disputes between different stages or tendencies within liberalism itself.

So dominant is liberalism that it becomes invisible. Judges feel free to read it into the law without historical or textual warrant because it seems so obviously right. To oppose it in any basic way is to act incomprehensibly, in a way explicable, it is thought, only by reference to irrationality, ignorance, or evil. The whole of the nonliberal past is comprehensively blackened. Traditional ways are presented as the simple negation of unquestionable goods liberalism favors. Obvious declines in civility, morality, and cultural achievement are ignored, denied, or redefined as advances. Violence is said to be the fault of the persistence of sex roles, war of religion, theft of social inequality, suicide of stereotyping. Destruction of sex and historical community as ordering principles-and thus of settled family arrangements and cultural forms-is presented as a supremely desirable goal. The clear connection among the decline of traditional habits, standards, and social ties; the disintegration of institutions like the family; and other forms of personal and social disorder is ignored or treated as beside the point.

Many people find something deeply oppressive about the resulting situation, but no one really knows what to say about it. Some complain about those general restrictions, like political correctness, which make honest and productive discussion of public affairs impossible. Others have more concrete and personal objections. Parents are alarmed by the indoctrination of their children. Many people complain about affirmative action, massive and uncontrolled immigration, and the abolition of the family as a distinct social institution publicly recognized as fundamental and prior to the state. Still others have the uneasy sense that the world to which they are attached and which defines who they are is being taken from them.

Nonetheless, these victims and their complaints get no respect and little media coverage. Their discontent remains inarticulate and obscure. People feel stifled, but cannot say just how. They make jokes or sarcastic comments, but when challenged have trouble explaining and defending themselves. The disappearance of common understandings that enable serious thought and action to be carried on by nonexperts and outside formal bureaucratic structures has made it hard even to think about the issues coherently. The result is a system of puzzled compliance. However ineffective the schools become, educators feel compelled to inculcate multicultural platitudes rather than to promote substantive learning. No matter how silly people find celebrations of "diversity," they become ever more frequent and surround themselves ever more insistently with happy talk....

At bottom, the problem with the standards that now govern public life is that they deny natural human tendencies and so require constant nagging interference in all aspects of life. They lead to a denatured society that does not work and does not feel like home. A standard liberal response to such objections is that our reactions are wrong: we should accept what we are told by those who know better. Expertise must rule. Social attitudes, habits, and connections, it is said, are not natural but constructed. They are continually revised and reenacted, their function and significance change with circumstances, and their meaning is a matter of interpretation and choice. It follows that habits and attitudes that seem solidly established and even natural cannot claim respect apart from their conformity with justice-which, if prejudice and question-begging are to be avoided, can only be defined as equality. All habits and attitudes must be conformed to egalitarianism and expertise. To object would be bigoted or ignorant.

But why should we trust those said to know better in such matters? Visions of an emancipated future are not necessarily wiser than nostalgia for a virtuous past. If all past societies have been sinks of oppression, as we are now told, it is not clear why our rulers are likely to change the situation. They understand the basic problems of life no better than the Sumerians did. They are technically more advanced, but technology is simply the application of means to ends. Tyrants, who know exactly what they want, can make good use of technique, and if clever they will pass their actions off as liberation.

Advanced liberalism fosters an inert and incompetent populace, a pervasive state, and commercial institutions responsible mainly to themselves. Alas, the state generally botches large-scale undertakings, commerce is proverbially self-interested, and formal expertise is more successful with small issues that can be studied in detail than with the big issues that make life what it is. Experts can treat appendicitis, but they cannot give us a reason to live. They can provide the factual content of instruction, but they cannot tell us what things are worth knowing. Why, then, treat their authority as absolute?

We should not accept the official, and "expert," debunking of ordinary ways of thought. While popular habits and attitudes can be presented as a compound of prejudice and self-interest, so can official and expert views. Both expertise and the state are immensely powerful social institutions. They have their own interests, and there is no reason to trust them any more than drug companies or defense contractors in matters that affect their own status and position. Expertise is only a refinement of common sense, upon which it continues to depend for its sanity and usefulness. Thought depends on habits, attitudes, and understandings that we mostly pick up from other people and that cannot be verified except in parts. It cannot be purified of habit and preconception and still touch our world. Ordinary good sense must remain the final standard of judgment. Good sense, however, is the business not of experts and officials but of the public at large.

In fact, advanced liberal society is reproducing the error of socialism-the attempt to administer and radically alter things that are too complex to be known, grasped, and controlled-but on a far grander scale. The socialists tried to simplify and rationalize economics, while today's liberals are trying to do the same with human relations generally. The latter involve much more subtle, complicated, and fundamental aspects of human life. Why expect the results to be better? A look at what is on television or a conversation with an older schoolteacher is likely to suggest that the attempt to reconstruct life on abstract content-free principles has actually made life worse. The test must be experience. If the people in charge of affairs are so competent and intelligent, why the increasing cynicism about politics? Why the decline in so many aspects of social and cultural life?

We need not accept, as inevitable social change, what the state and its experts decide for us. When major institutions persistently act in ineffective or destructive ways while praising themselves for unprecedented justice and rationality, there is evidently something wrong with the outlook guiding them. For a better way of life to become possible we need to free ourselves from the views that are now conventional and find a different perspective. The problems of public life today go too deep for technical fixes. A fundamental critique of the principles accepted as authoritative is necessary so that our life together can fall more in line with what people find natural, comprehensible, and satisfying. The intention of this book is to promote such a critique and to explore alternatives.


Man sacked from British counselling service because he is a Christian who refused to give sex advice to homosexuals

A relationship counsellor claims he was sacked because he admitted that his Christian beliefs could prevent him giving sex therapy to gay couples. Gary McFarlane, a father of two who has worked for the national counselling service Relate since 2003, says that it failed to accommodate his faith or allow him to try to overcome his reservations. Now Mr McFarlane, 47, is taking his case to an employment tribunal, alleging unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

The controversy follows the case in July of Lillian Ladele, the Christian registrar who successfully challenged Islington Council over her refusal to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples.

Mr McFarlane, a solicitor, said he was 'sad and disappointed' with the 'bigotry' he had experienced at the Bristol branch of Relate from 'a group of people with their own agenda'. 'If I was a Muslim this would not happen,' he said. 'They would find a way to make the system work. But Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights. Relate needs to be forced to work through stuff like this.'

Mr McFarlane, who regularly attends both Church of England and Pentecostal services in Bristol, joined Relate Avon five years ago. As a solicitor, he has specialised in resolving legal disputes through mediation, and even sits on a committee advising the Law Society. He is also a part-time tutor on relationships at Trinity Theological College in Bristol, whose Church of England principal, Canon George Kovoor, is a Chaplain to the Queen.

While training as a counsellor he had qualms about dealing with gay couples but overcame them during discussions with his supervisor. He has since helped a lesbian partnership. But his real problems arose last year after he started to train as a psychosexual therapist, treating people's intimate sexual problems. He said: 'In counselling, you are drawing the couple out, going on a journey with them, enabling them to think in more than black and white. You are not telling anyone what to do or endorsing what they do. 'But in sex therapy you are diagnosing their problems and setting them a treatment plan, not unlike a doctor.'

He said that while he believed in 'each to their own', he felt uncomfortable doing anything that would directly encourage gay sex. He had not expected to confront these issues until facing the prospect of providing therapy for a gay couple, when he planned to discuss them in confidence with his supervisor. He assumed that Relate Avon would take him off the case. He said that many counsellors had difficulties that had to be worked around. Some had been abused as children and found they could not conduct sessions with abusers, and Relate Avon would accommodate them.

But fellow counsellors complained about Mr McFarlane's views, alleging he was homophobic, and he was suspended last December by his manager. After three weeks, he was reinstated and had to promise to abide by Relate's equal opportunities policy, with the proviso, he claims, that he could raise issues in the future.

Following further complaints, however, he was told that he would face a disciplinary hearing because managers at Relate Avon no longer believed he intended to uphold the policy. He was dismissed and his appeal was rejected.

'There was a group who didn't want me there and they got their teeth in,' he said. 'I was prepared to explore my reservations but they wanted unconditional assurances that they would never become an issue for me. 'Why did they have to slam the door like that? This could force other Christians out of counselling. Some have already reacted with consternation, saying if it could happen to someone of my experience and skills, it could happen to them.'

A spokeswoman for Relate said: 'Relate cannot comment until the employment tribunal has taken place.' The organisation, originally called the National Marriage Guidance Council, was founded in 1938. By 1998 it was counselling couples in a much wider range of relationships and changed its name to Relate. It now operates from nearly 600 locations nationwide.


Liberty vs liberty

British campaign group Liberty seems more interested in proposing an alternative authoritarianism than defending freedom

This week, the UK government decided to shelve its plans to increase the period that terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 days to 42 days, after its proposal was voted down in the House of Lords. Britain's leading civil liberties group, Liberty, immediately declared the decision a `victory' for its campaign to prevent the increase. Yet the law that Liberty should really be worried about is not the Counter-Terrorism Bill but the Trades Descriptions Act - because Liberty, along with many others, doesn't seem very interested in defending liberty at all.

The government's decision to shelve the extension was simply a pragmatic one. Its Bill calling for an extension to 42 days' detention without charge only scraped through the House of Commons in June this year thanks to the support of nine Democratic Unionist MPs: bigots from Northern Ireland that no self-respecting government should cuddle up to. New Labour's whips in the House of Commons believed that if the measure went to a vote in the House again, it could well be defeated. Furthermore, even if the Bill did get through the Commons, the unelected House of Lords could continue to block it for up to a year before the Parliament Act could be used to force the law through; this would have delayed all the other measures in the Bill. The government scrapped the 42-days proposal in order to avoid embarrassment in the Commons and a potential delay by the Lords.

However, parliamentary calculation was not the only reason for a change of mind. There was also opposition to aspects of the Bill from those who should have been its keenest supporters: the police. In an article in The Times (London) a week before the Lords' vote, Andy Hayman - until recently Britain's most senior anti-terrorism officer - declared his support for the principle of 42 days' detention while denouncing the proposed mechanism by which it would be put into effect: `[T]he government's current proposals are not fit for purpose: they are bureaucratic, convoluted and unworkable. The draftsman's pen has introduced so many hoops to be jumped through that a police case for detaining a terror suspect will become part of the political game.'

Others argue that the government erased 42 days from its Bill for strictly party political reasons. In June, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown flailing about in a sea of unpopularity and desperate to appear like he had some purpose, he was keen to push through a measure that looked tough on terrorism. But the current economic crisis has given him a new lease of life. Now he is praised in the press not only for saving the British banking system (allegedly) but for providing a framework through which the US authorities and European governments might intervene in the financial arena, too. The 42-day proposal, which must once have seemed like a potential vote-winner, is now a messy and divisive idea at a time when Brown is milking the financial crisis. With all eyes focused on the economy, it was the perfect moment to drop the 42-days idea.

Liberty believes the decision to drop the proposal was a stunning vindication of its campaigning. Never mind that everyone from senior police officers to the prime minister himself was getting cold feet about the whole thing. After the Lords vote, the Liberty website declared: `Last night saw a resounding victory for Liberty's long running "Charge or Release" campaign. Common sense and common decency prevailed as the government dropped plans to detain terror suspects for 42 days without charge, following an overwhelming defeat in the House of Lords. We have consistently urged the government to drop these damaging proposals and have condemned the measures as wrong in principle, unnecessary and counter-productive.'

This is a strange kind of `victory', rather like a football manager declaring that being beaten four-nil was cause for celebration because at least it wasn't six-nil. Both are crushing defeats. The same applies to the current rules on terrorism offences. The power to lock someone up and question him repeatedly without charge for a disturbing 28 days - the victorious settlement in this civil liberty war - has no equivalent in any other democracy, as Liberty itself has pointed out frequently. Indeed, terrorism offences aside, the legal maximum for detention without charge in England is 96 hours - even in murder cases.

Worse, Liberty has argued that 28 days should be maintained and that other important principles of legal protection for suspects should be thrown out in lieu of introducing the 42-day extension. Liberty argues that the government should `remove the bar on intercept (phone tap) evidence in criminal trials', `review the way in which people that have already been charged can be re-interviewed and recharged as further evidence is uncovered' (opening up the possibility of oppressive post-charge questioning), and `bring in existing powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which enable a civil court to require an individual to hand over an encryption key (which unlocks data on seized computers)'.

These legal rules that Liberty wishes to water down or override provide protection for individuals when the overwhelming power of the state is brought to bear upon them. Yet Liberty seems willing to trade them in for the administrative convenience of the police when investigating terrorist offences. As the Labour peer Martin O'Neill pointed out in the New Statesman earlier this year, in relation to the 42-day proposal, `certain liberties - like the freedom from detention without charge - are simply too fundamental to be traded-off against gains in our personal security. This is because personal security may itself only be truly worthwhile as long as these liberties are protected. It may do us no good to be kept safe from harm if it is at the cost of living in a country that is no longer a civilised liberal democracy.' The same applies to these other pillars of civil liberty, too.

Furthermore, Liberty has remained silent - at best - on a range of recent restrictions on our freedom, from the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which requires the state vetting of 11million people who work with children and old people, through to the bans on smoking and drinking in public. Shami Chakrabarti, the head of Liberty, has even threatened to use the libel laws - England's famously anti-free speech rules - to stop malicious statements being made about her. That's hardly the instinct of someone truly interested in freedom.

Instead of declaring victory in cases where draconian government powers are reinforced, what is needed is a more fundamental defence of individual liberty in Britain, something that spiked has put forward in our `Slash 42 days to 24 hours' campaign (see The fight for individual liberty starts here, by Brendan O'Neill). We need to defend existing protections and reinstate important principles like the right to silence - but we also need to go beyond the law to re-establish the idea of the active political citizen in contemporary society. Until the authorities feel the breath of active opposition on the backs of their necks, we will be stuck with the alternative authoritarianism of legalistic wonks like Liberty.


ACLU Favors Criminals (As Always)

The usual deliberately simple-minded assertion that the proportions of everything should be the same for blacks and whites and Hispanics

A study commissioned by the ACLU of 810,000 traffic stops by Los Angeles police has found that such arrests were racially motivated. Original studies of the data showed no such results. But a Yale professor "re-examined" the data, to conclude that "driving while black" and "driving while Hispanic" were current "crimes" in L.A. The facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in eFluxMedia.com on 21 October, 2008. This writer has never heard of eFluxMedia, but based on the total lack of critical review, it is in the tank for the ACLU.

The article is on a study of racial aspects of arrests and frisks by the Los Angeles Police Department. The study was done by Professor Ian Ayres of Yale Law School as commissioned by the ACLU of Southern California. The conclusion of the article appears in its title, "LAPD Officers Driven By Racial Differences When Performing Arrests." According to the article, "Los Angeles police officers "see the world in black and white" because "African Americans and Hispanics were twice as likely to be ordered out of their vehicles than whites."

This may be true, but by itself proves nothing. Anyone familiar with police procedures knows that an investigating officer orders people out of their cars only when he is about to make an arrest, or he has reason to believe that the driver or someone else in the car may represent a threat to his safety, or may be seeking to hide contraband. The first step of every officer in every traffic stop is to run the license plate against the data base to see if it is reported stolen, and to run the drivers license against the data base to see if it is valid or has any warrants outstanding. Either of these may result in the conclusion that one of these risk factors is present.

Unless this study adjusted for this variable risk and likelihood of arrest for African Americans and Hispanics, the beginning statistic is useless. For instance, a high proportion of Hispanics in Los Angeles are illegals who do not (so far) have California drivers licenses. This fact by itself is a significant crime, and may result in the officer ordering the occupants out of the vehicle.

The study also found that "although African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be frisked, officers were also less likely to find evidence during the searches." Everyone who is about to be arrested is frisked. The purpose is to find and remove such items as weapons and hypodermic needles. Even casual watchers of TV know this; it does not take a Yale Law professor to know this fact. Therefore, if people of color are arrested more commonly than people of no color (to coin a phrase), they will also be frisked more commonly, regardless of what may be found in the course of that frisk.

No hard numbers appeared in this article, but it said that the "racial disparities seemed smaller when they involved African American officers." Possibly this could be due to the fact that white officers are more likely to be shot and killed in L.A. traffic stops. than black officers, and therefore white officers have a higher justified caution in making a traffic stop.

The study was based on an examination of 810,000 traffic stops by LAPD officers from July, 2003, to June, 2004. The article states that, "At the time, there didn't seem to be any racial disparities in LAPD officers' behavior, however, while closely re-examining the data, Ayres found that in fact, these disparities existed."

Ignore relevant variables, carefully define your categories, and the desired results can be teased out of any input statistics. Mark Twain put this in plain English when he wrote, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." Twain illustrated that conclusion by pointing out that the number of murderers and Methodists in the Nebraska territory were rising at the same rate. That indicated that Methodists were most likely murderers.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn ON the Lights?

By Orson Scott Card

An open letter to the local daily paper -- almost every local daily paper in America: I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration. It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans. What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor -- which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house -- along with their credit rating. They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them. Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefitting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate." Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

As Thomas Sowell points out in a TownHall.com essay entitled Do Facts Matter? "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout! What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae. And after Franklin Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing. If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign -- because that campaign had sought his advice -- you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign. You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.

If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama. If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension -- so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper. But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie -- that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad -- even bad weather -- on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth -- even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate. Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means. That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time -- and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing. Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter -- while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means? Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for? You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles. That's where you are right now.

It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices. Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way. This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe --and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie. If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard. You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.


Sarah Palin: a gift from God for East Coast comics

Tina Fey's zany skits on Sarah Palin unwittingly expose the anti-smalltown, redneck-baiting beliefs of America's big-city liberals.

For a while, with the Bush era coming to an end, it looked like the US would face a severe comedy crunch, a boom and bust of punchlines and impersonations. With the termination of Dubya's second term looming, cartoonists, sketchwriters, talk-show hosts and stand-up acts were losing their sense of purpose. The exit of the stoopid, monkey-faced commander-in-chief posed a long-term threat to gag writers' careers.

Enter Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate. A moose-hunting anti-abortionist whose unmarried daughter got pregnant at 17. A `hockey mom' who only applied for a passport last year, aged 43. A former beauty queen and a smalltown Alaskan who says things like `you betcha' and `I'll tell ya'. Pure comedy gold.

As actress Tina Fey's recent impersonations of Palin on the comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live (SNL) have shown, poking fun at gun-toting, smalltown-minded, redneck Republicans has not fallen out of favour. Fey, of 30 Rock fame, has become an international household name as a result of her Palin skits, and SNL has achieved its highest ratings in 14 years. In fact, Fey's impersonations of Palin may now be better known than Palin's own media appearances. True, it was Palin herself who, at the Republican National Convention, famously confessed that she is a regular `hockey mom', comparing herself to a `pitbull with lipstick'. And it was the real Palin who said that the proximity of Alaska (where she is governor) to Russia shows that she has `foreign policy experience'.

The lines `I can see Russia from my house' and `I am looking forward to a portion of your questions' are equally well known now - but they were spoken by Tina Fey spoofing Palin. Fey's impersonations have become bigger news than the real campaign. On this side of the Atlantic, Fey made it on to the front pages of both the Independent and the Guardian, who called her `the real star of the US election'.

Last Saturday, the Fey-as-Palin mania reached a climax as Palin herself appeared on SNL alongside Fey. In the skit, as her mimic addressed a mock press conference, Palin watched from backstage, together with SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels. Actor Alec Baldwin joined them, apparently mistaking the real Palin for Fey, and proceeded to scold Michaels for letting Fey join `that horrible woman' onstage. `She goes against everything we stand for!' he exclaimed. Michaels awkwardly pointed out that the woman next to them was, in fact, that `horrible woman', Governor Palin, and Baldwin mumbled an apology.

SNL has come under fire for giving Palin a spot on its programme. Some argued that it gave her unnecessary, and possibly positive, media exposure. Baldwin retorted: `If you think an appearance on SNL would sway voters. you may have more contempt for the electorate of this country than the Republican National Committee does. And that's a lot of contempt.'

Fair enough. Yet the idea that Palin stands against everything we stand for, as Baldwin put it - that's `we' as in the smug SNL world - also expresses a sense of contempt. Sure, Baldwin's comment on SNL was a joke. But the joke worked because it reflected a very real attitude, namely that the media-savvy, big-city, sophisticated Democrats (`we') are frightened that gun-loving Joe-shmos (`they') might actually choose to exercise their democratic right to vote on 4 November and put a cross next to Palin's name.

Post-Bush, bashing Palin has become a cheap way for apparently erudite celebrities and commentators to distance themselves from redneck America. For what informs the outbreak of comedic attacks on Palin is a not-so-funny snobbery towards small towns and religious people, and fear that America might lose its moral authority to boss around dodgy foreign regimes.

In an interview on CBS soon after John McCain announced Palin as his running mate, actor Matt Damon said the prospect of her possibly becoming president was a `really scary thing' - even though he admitted, in the next breath, that `I don't know anything about her'. `I know she was mayor of a really, really small town and she was governor of Alaska for less than two years', he said.

For Damon, all we need to know is that America could be a heartbeat away (if McCain croaks) from being ruled by someone from a really small town who has the audacity to go to Washington and - even worse - think she can tell big-city folk like Damon what to do. On Palin's alleged creationist beliefs, Damon went on: `I need to know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years go. I really want to know because she's gonna have the nuclear codes.'

This is an updated version of one of the key arguments deployed against Reagan: that he was a dumb, overly Christian former actor who might plummet the world into nuclear meltdown on a whim. But perhaps Damon can tell us if he really believes polar bears and penguins are dying out because of global warming, and if he really thinks that representing the planet as a naked woman is a progressive view of the female sex. Because these trendy visions of climate chaos being visited upon Mother Earth appeared in a recent nature documentary narrated by Damon.

Plenty of Prius-driving celebrity environmentalists who slam creationists for their backward views - from Damon to Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt - preach their own secular version of Kingdom Come. They tell us that we must repent for our sins against Nature or else we will be visited by floods and pestilence. Yet while they pray for Al Gore to deliver us from evil and bring salvation to those who join his `genuine moral and spiritual challenge' (2), they see Palin as a backward Bible-basher.

Palin's lack of foreign-policy experience, and her talk of how close Alaska is to Russia, is another joke that keeps on running. In a particularly funny sequence on SNL, Fey-as-Palin said that Alaskans `keep an eye on' their Russian neighbours: `Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around. And if there are, you gotta go up to them and ask, "What are you doing here?" And if they can't give you a good reason, it's our responsibility to say, you know, "Shoo! Get back over there!"`

Yet some seem to believe that this really is how Palin plans to deal with foreigners. The prospect of Palin as president is, according to Damon, `like a really bad Disney movie, a hockey mom facing down Putin'. A Facebook group called `I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin' has attracted over 240,000 members.

However, when it comes to Disneyfying foreign policy, no one - not even Palin - can beat celebrities themselves. Celebs are forever turning complex international conflicts into simplistic morality tales of good guys v bad guys, with America and the `international community' as the knights in shining armour who must rescue the destitute.

Along with stars like George Clooney (who once said of the conflict in Darfur: `It's not a political issue. There's only right and wrong'), East Coast celebrities like Damon and Mia Farrow have displayed a gung-ho attitude that would make even Palin blush. Their `Save Darfur' campaign recently parked a black military helicopter on Second Avenue in New York with a banner saying `Send me to Darfur'. Farrow has reportedly been in talks with Blackwater, the private military firm that caused so much destruction in Iraq, about sending men to Darfur. Indeed, Damon's central concern about Palin - that she is too flimsy a politician to face down the likes of Putin - shows what lies behind Palin-bashing over foreign policy: the notion that she isn't experienced enough to deal with those dodgy Russians, murderous Africans and other lunatics on the world stage.

Of course, it's not surprising that comedians have jumped on Palin - she hands it to them on a plate, with a folksy wink and a side serving of cheesy one-liners. She's easy to imitate and easy to mock. But mocking Republicans is hardly risque or controversial after eight years of Bush. A real challenge would be to take the piss out of Barack Obama.

Yet when The New Yorker magazine recently tried to mix Obama with satire on its front page - with a cartoon showing the Democratic presidential hopeful and his wife as fist-bumping bin Laden-worshippers in the Oval Office - it was greeted with outrage and disgust from Democrats and Republicans alike. Obama has been untouchable in the largely white world of American late-night comedy. When Daily Show host Jon Stewart quipped about Obama changing his position on campaign financing during his leadership race against Hillary Clinton, the audience didn't appreciate the joke. `You know, you're allowed to laugh at him', Stewart said. He later told the New York Times: `People have a tendency to react as far as their ideology allows them.' (3) For now, Obama, it seems, is untouchable. As Mike Sweeney, head writer for Conan O'Brien on Late Night, said in July: `We're hoping he picks an idiot as vice president'. (4)

Well, Biden is no Palin. But at least the Alaskan hockey mom has bought American comedians some time and given the East Coast and Hollywood celebrity set a renewed sense of purpose, someone to direct their anger at. In the process, they have provided some laughs, while exposing what lies behind cheap and easy Palin-bashing: hostility towards smalltown people, a desire to protect American prestige in humanitarian military affairs, and a blind fear of making any jokes about the main man: Obama.


The British Labour party's race prophecy may be self-fulfilling

Labour should overcome its fear of its own white working-class voters

Phil Woolas, the new Minister for Borders and Immigration, says that Labour needs "a tougher immigration policy" to reduce racial tensions. The problem, he told The Times, is that as recession looms "racial stereotyping becomes stronger".

It might help if ministers didn't reinforce the "racial stereotype" of the white working class as an ethnic pogrom waiting to happen, a racial time bomb ready to be set off by a spark from the British National Party. Mr Woolas says that he has been brought in to "be tougher and to change perceptions" that the Government is soft on immigration. He could start by changing the perception that Labour fears its own white voters.

I was struck by Mr Woolas's explanation that his "lifelong purpose" of dealing with immigration problems began when the first Asian boy at his Lancashire grammar school was called "Banana". At my 1970s Surrey grammar, everybody knew they could not call the only black boy "Nigger". So they called him "Nagga" instead.

Such stories give a glimpse of how much British society has changed in 30 years. Both Mr Woolas's Oldham constituency and my corner of northeast London have large Pakistani communities, and no doubt there are problems. Yet there is little sign of Seventies "Paki-bashing".

New Labour, however, does not trust its own people. "I don't believe we are a country of Alf Garnetts," Mr Woolas concedes, "but there's a large element that is discriminatory in its attitude." So fearful is Labour of white working-class voters that it has long sought to avoid debate about immigration. In the 2001 general election, speeches were banned at the Oldham election counts to stop BNP candidates speaking, for fear that a hateful word might start a race riot. The result was to allow the far Right to pose as champions of free speech.

Now the minister hopes to placate white voters by posturing against immigration, while patronisingly asking them "to be nice to people who do come to settle here". Against the background of communities divided by official multiculturalism, which he concedes has helped to "ghettoise" people, his warning of rising tensions could yet prove a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Back when Phil Woolas was Labour general secretary of Manchester University student union, he did not agree with us revolting Marxist students who demanded an open borders policy, but he did lead campaigns to support overseas students against the authorities. Now he would have us believe that the way to pursue his "lifelong purpose" is to strike anti-immigration poses. That seems bananas.


Learning from Stalin in Britain

Stalin regularly doctored his production statistics. What statistics does socialist Britain NOT doctor? Violent crime up 22% as Home Office admits police have been under-recording serious offences for ten years

Public trust in crime statistics has been dealt a devastating blow after ministers admitted the figures have been downplaying serious violence for up to a decade. The Home Office admitted that as many as one in five of the worst attacks has been wrongly classified in published figures. As many as 4,000 serious assaults each year were mistakenly recorded as minor incidents - and officials conceded they 'simply do not know how far back it goes'.

The tightening of the rules has seen figures for serious violent crimes rocket by 22 per cent compared to last year - and confusion over the figures makes it impossible to say how much of the rise is genuine.

Ministers blamed the blunders on police officers, who were wrongly classifying cases of 'grievous bodily harm with intent' as minor assaults. But if this is the case it is unclear why the practice was allowed to continue for so long unchecked.

Police have been placed under severe pressure by ministers to reduce the level of serious violence on the street. Critics may claim this provided an incentive for officers to downplay the gravity of assaults where - while the intent was grave - the actual injuries suffered were minimal.

In a sign of the chaos the Metropolitan Police yesterday took the unprecedented step of halting publication of its violent crime figures to check whether they meet the guidelines. Senior police chiefs admitted the problems affected all 43 forces in England and Wales.

Critics claimed the revelations were another serious blow to the credibility of Government crime figures following years of complaints of spin and statistical manipulation. The confusion makes it impossible to tell whether serious violence rose or fell last year - although there are indications of a significant increase in serious knife attacks. There are also grave questions over repeated statements by ministers in recent years stressing the minor nature of many recorded offences.

The blunder centres on the way vicious attacks are logged at police stations. Officers generally class an assault as grievous bodily harm if the victim suffers a cut to their skin or a broken bone. But the rules also state that where an attacker tries but fails to inflict such an injury police should record the assault as GBH rather than a lesser offence - in the same way that attempted murder is treated as a serious offence even if the intended victim is unharmed. Where a thug tries to smash a bottle in a victim's face but causes only a nosebleed, for example, police should recorded the incident as GBH.

It now transpires many officers had been downgrading such incidents to lesser charges of actual bodily harm or common assault - which fall outside the Home Office's definition of 'most serious violence against the person'.

In the latest quarterly figures published yesterday the category of 'most serious violence against the person' had leapt by 22 per cent year on year. It rose from 4,500 in the second quarter last year to 5,500 in the same period this year, equivalent to around 60 a day. But ministers said the startling rise was largely because police across the country were ordered earlier this year to follow counting rules more rigorously when logging crimes.

This 'clarification' by the Home Office quickly revealed that many serious assaults were being wrongly recorded. The Home Office's head of statistics Paul Wiles said: 'We simply don't know how far back this goes. The people doing the recording are constantly changing and retiring.' He said there was evidence that two-thirds of the 22 per cent increase in serious violence was caused by the new counting rules.

Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow, for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: 'This is an issue that affects all police forces to a greater or lesser degree.' Home Office police minister Vernon Coaker denied the blunders were embarrassing, saying: 'I want the statistics to be as clear as possible.'

But Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'These figures fatally undermine government spin that violent crime was getting better. Labour should now face up to the reality of their failure and realise that if you can't count a problem, you can't combat it.'



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Moral decay in Britain

My musical career came to an abrupt end when, at the age of 15, I left the school oboe on a bus. The following four days, before the call came through from the London Transport lost property office, were among the most miserable of my life. When I borrowed the instrument, I was given strict instructions that I was to take the greatest possible care of it, since it was worth 110 pounds. That may not sound a huge amount today, but to a 15-year-old schoolboy in 1969 it was an unimaginably vast sum.... If I didn't get it back, I took it for granted that I'd be expelled from school. But that was the least of my worries.

Crippled by the fees, my parents were hard up at the time. There was no way they could have found 110 to reimburse the school for my moment of criminal absent-mindedness. We'd all be utterly ruined - and I'd never be able to look any of my near and dear in the eye again.

I never discovered the identity of the kind passenger who handed it to the bus conductor (we still had them in those days), or indeed the names of the London Transport staff who made sure that it made its way to the lost property office, and then back to me and my school. All I can say is, whoever they were, they earned the undying gratitude of a 15-year-old schoolboy, who has never dared touch an oboe in the 40 years from that day to this.

Chances are I wouldn't be nearly so lucky today. The most depressing article I've read this week - more so even than the grim economic news we've all become used to of late - was yesterday's report on the conduct of railway staff responsible for returning lost property to its owners. An investigation by Which? discovered that, these days, two-thirds of station employees fail to contact owners whose property has been handed in. The consumer watchdog asked undercover agents to hand in coats, each containing a wallet and 22 pounds in cash at 16 stations across the country, saying that they had found them on a train. Every wallet contained the name and address of the owner.

Yet, shockingly, staff at only five of the 16 stations made the effort to contact the coats' owners. Furthermore, in one of those five cases, at Plymouth, the coat and wallet were returned but the 22 was missing (according to First Great Western, it had been put into a bank account for safe keeping - though the Which? researcher who picked up the coat was told that no money had been found).

It's not necessarily true, of course, that staff at the 11 stations which failed to return the lost property simply stole it. But at best, none of them did their job properly and none was prepared to make even the slightest amount of effort to do a kind deed for a fellow human being. Have these railway staff never lost their own wallets - and discovered what huge inconvenience and distress this can cause?

As I write, mine contains 35 in cash, my driving licence, Visa card, NHS European Health Insurance card, photographs of my four sons (taken about ten years ago, when I was still soppy about them), a Blockbuster video card, various friends' and acquaintances' contact numbers, a Nectar card and the electronic pass that lets me into the office and allows me to buy coffee in the canteen.

If I lost it on the train, never to see it again, my life would be in turmoil for weeks, what with all those cards to cancel and renew, no access to the cashpoint machine, no record of those vital contact numbers and no canteen coffee. That's not to mention all those modern worries about identity theft. Yet at railway stations all over the country, from Edinburgh to Brighton, there are staff either so dishonest or so indolent and downright unfeeling about other people's problems that they couldn't be bothered even to lift up a telephone to tell me it had turned up.

You'd think that dealing with lost property would be a richly satisfying job, with all the opportunities it offers for bringing joy to strangers and filling 15-year-old oboists with lifelong gratitude. But no. For many, it's just an opportunity to steal, with hardly any chance of getting caught (unless the lost property happens to have been handed in by an undercover agent for Which?)

What it all comes down to is that we just don't know who we can trust any more. I don't want to romanticise the past. There was always a strong chance, even 40 years ago, that a fellow passenger on that bus to Neasden would have picked up my forgotten oboe and walked off with it into the night. Hence my four days of panic and misery before it turned up. But back in 1968, you could be almost completely sure that once an item had been handed in to an official in charge of lost property, it would be 100 per cent safe. For the huge majority of people in positions of trust, whether they were rich or poor, it was a point of pride to show themselves worthy of the confidence placed in them.

How desperately sad that in 2008, so many more people in all walks of life look upon trust as something to be abused. They seem to think that if they can get away with it, that's all that matters. ...

More here

Evil elitists

Undercover agent Larry Grathwohl discusses the Weather Underground's post-revolution governing plans for the United States on a YouTube video. The video is taken from the 1982 documentary "No Place to Hide". The Weathermen's plans included putting parts of United States under the administration of Cuba, North Vietnam, China and Russia and re-educating the uncooperative in camps in located in the Southwest. Since there would be holdouts, plans were made for liquidating the estimated 25 million unreconstructable die-hards.

The most interesting moment of the video comes when Grathwohl asks the viewer to imagine what it's like to be in a room with 25 people, all of whom have master's degrees or higher from elite institutions of higher learning like Columbia, listening to them discuss the logistics of killing 25 million Americans.

Actually, it's easy. What's hard to imagine is sitting in a room full of plumbers discussing the same thing. The longer I live the less I believe that humanity is able to live without submitting itself to some kind of belief system. Western Civilization decided to liberate itself from a belief in Christ - whose Kingdom was not of this world - and went straight to the altars of Nazism and Communism, whose kingdom was in the camps. People like Ayers aren't atheists, they're true believers. GK Chesterton was right when he said that a man who declares he has stopped believing in God often doesn't mean he believes in nothing. It only means he's willing to believe in anything.

Jean Paul Sarte believed Che Guevara was "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age . [the] era's most perfect man", which just goes to show you can get a fancy diploma from the Ecole Normale Superieure and still graduate with not an iota of common sense. Unclogging a drain with a snake is something anyone with a little intelligence and persistence can do. Planning the death of millions of Americans takes an education.


The Dangers of a Diminished America

In the 1930s, isolationism and protectionism spurred the rise of fascism

In the face of this onrushing river of red ink, both Barack Obama and John McCain have been reluctant to lay out what portions of their programmatic wish list they might defer or delete. Only Joe Biden has suggested a possible reduction -- foreign aid. This would be one of the few popular cuts, but in budgetary terms it is a mere grain of sand. Still, Sen. Biden's comment hints at where we may be headed: toward a major reduction in America's world role, and perhaps even a new era of financially-induced isolationism.

Pressures to cut defense spending, and to dodge the cost of waging two wars, already intense before this crisis, are likely to mount. Despite the success of the surge, the war in Iraq remains deeply unpopular. Precipitous withdrawal -- attractive to a sizable swath of the electorate before the financial implosion -- might well become even more popular with annual war bills running in the hundreds of billions.

Protectionist sentiments are sure to grow stronger as jobs disappear in the coming slowdown. Even before our current woes, calls to save jobs by restricting imports had begun to gather support among many Democrats and some Republicans. In a prolonged recession, gale-force winds of protectionism will blow.

Then there are the dolorous consequences of a potential collapse of the world's financial architecture. For decades now, Americans have enjoyed the advantages of being at the center of that system. The worldwide use of the dollar, and the stability of our economy, among other things, made it easier for us to run huge budget deficits, as we counted on foreigners to pick up the tab by buying dollar-denominated assets as a safe haven. Will this be possible in the future?

Meanwhile, traditional foreign-policy challenges are multiplying. The threat from al Qaeda and Islamic terrorist affiliates has not been extinguished. Iran and North Korea are continuing on their bellicose paths, while Pakistan and Afghanistan are progressing smartly down the road to chaos. Russia's new militancy and China's seemingly relentless rise also give cause for concern.

If America now tries to pull back from the world stage, it will leave a dangerous power vacuum. The stabilizing effects of our presence in Asia, our continuing commitment to Europe, and our position as defender of last resort for Middle East energy sources and supply lines could all be placed at risk.

In such a scenario there are shades of the 1930s, when global trade and finance ground nearly to a halt, the peaceful democracies failed to cooperate, and aggressive powers led by the remorseless fanatics who rose up on the crest of economic disaster exploited their divisions. Today we run the risk that rogue states may choose to become ever more reckless with their nuclear toys, just at our moment of maximum vulnerability.

The aftershocks of the financial crisis will almost certainly rock our principal strategic competitors even harder than they will rock us. The dramatic free fall of the Russian stock market has demonstrated the fragility of a state whose economic performance hinges on high oil prices, now driven down by the global slowdown. China is perhaps even more fragile, its economic growth depending heavily on foreign investment and access to foreign markets. Both will now be constricted, inflicting economic pain and perhaps even sparking unrest in a country where political legitimacy rests on progress in the long march to prosperity.

None of this is good news if the authoritarian leaders of these countries seek to divert attention from internal travails with external adventures.

As for our democratic friends, the present crisis comes when many European nations are struggling to deal with decades of anemic growth, sclerotic governance and an impending demographic crisis. Despite its past dynamism, Japan faces similar challenges. India is still in the early stages of its emergence as a world economic and geopolitical power.

What does this all mean? There is no substitute for America on the world stage. The choice we have before us is between the potentially disastrous effects of disengagement and the stiff price tag of continued American leadership.

Are we up for the task? The American economy has historically demonstrated remarkable resilience. Our market-oriented ideology, entrepreneurial culture, flexible institutions and favorable demographic profile should serve us well in whatever trials lie ahead.

The American people, too, have shown reserves of resolve when properly led. But experience after the Cold War era -- poorly articulated and executed policies, divisive domestic debates and rising anti-Americanism in at least some parts of the world -- appear to have left these reserves diminished.

A recent survey by the Chicago Council on World Affairs found that 36% of respondents agreed that the U.S. should "stay out of world affairs," the highest number recorded since this question was first asked in 1947. The economic crisis could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

In the past, the American political process has managed to yield up remarkable leaders when they were most needed. As voters go to the polls in the shadow of an impending world crisis, they need to ask themselves which candidate -- based upon intellect, courage, past experience and personal testing -- is most likely to rise to an occasion as grave as the one we now face.


Financial crisis has a moral dimension

I cannot understand how, along with every other form of human interaction, the administration of capitalism cannot have a moral dimension. It is surely important that bankers behave ethically, that politicians behave responsibly and that ordinary people behave prudently.

I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values - the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as `rights' and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is `militant atheism' which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda -- and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.

The financial crisis was brought about essentially by a public which threw away all notions of prudence and committed itself to spending today what it could never afford to pay back tomorrow, and a banking, regulatory and political sector which ruthlessly and cynically exploited and encouraged such catastrophic irresponsibility with a criminal disregard of the ruinous consequences for the poor. The financial crisis and our social meltdown are thus combining to form a perfect cultural storm.

The link between all that and the US presidential election is - as Oliver himself acknowledges - the figure of Sarah Palin. It seems to me that the reason she has sparked such an unprecedented campaign of lies, smears, abuse and dangerously unhinged hatred (if you think that's an exaggeration, just look at the readers' posts on this very site) is because, as I wrote in the Mail on Monday, she stands against the tide of secular nihilism in the culture wars. Oliver and I dare say Hitchens (although I have not discussed this with him) may be shoulder to shoulder with me on foreign policy but they stand on the other side from me in the culture wars - what I see as nihilism, I suspect they view as progressive -- and it is no coincidence that they both stand also for militant (or in Oliver's case, rather less militant) atheism which they assume (falsely, in my view) is synonymous with rationality. Palin's evangelical Christianity, and the moral and social positions that flow from that faith, would therefore strike them as beyond appalling. That's why Oliver sees her as embodying anti-intellectualism, insularity, social intolerance and anti-rationalism.

For me, by contrast, although the nature of her faith and the churches with which she has been associated certainly make me uneasy, they do not alarm me. That's because I regard evangelicals as allies in the fight to defend authentic liberal, and thus moral, values which I believe are rooted in Judeo-Christian thinking. I'm sure that, had I been around during the Victorian era, I would not have cared either for the evangelicals then trying to convert everyone to Christianity - but the fact remains that it was through their faith that they campaigned against slavery and for just about every social reform that we now think of as enlightened and progressive. For me, `anti-intellectualism, insularity, social intolerance and anti-rationalism' have indeed been unleashed upon our society - not by Christian evangelicals but by the forces of secular fundamentalism and bigotry through such phenomena as scientism, political correctness and post-modernism.

I don't much care whether Palin believes in a hundred ridiculous things before breakfast -- because what she stands for is a defence of bedrock western moral values against the nihilistic onslaught. Although like many others I do not like the way she has used her family on public platforms, the fact remains that the reason the image of her cradling her Down's Syndrome baby Trig was so electrifying was that she was making the most explicit statement possible that, in a society which has so lost its respect for human life that it believes it is actually a progressive act to destroy unborn lives 'on demand' (and Obama actually opposed anti-infanticide legislation in the Illinois state senate) she stands for a culture of life against our culture of death, which sees no innate value in human life and will destroy it with increasing abandon if it is not deemed to be `useful' enough.

The moral relativists -- most viciously embedded on the left but represented in conservative circles too under the ambiguous banner of libertarianism which prevents such circles from grasping the threat being posed to real liberty -- understand very well indeed that, as the first culture warrior from the opposing camp to stand on the threshold of power, Palin poses a threat to the established amoral order which must be resisted with all the ferocity they can summon. That is why she has been the target of this astonishing campaign of lies and smears -- most of which have been uncritically accepted by large numbers of people who play no role in the culture wars at all, but believe that if the media say something is so with one voice, then it must indeed be so.

I do not by any means defend or support everything Palin stands for or has ever done. But I do know a witch-hunt when I see one - and when people scream that legitimate and indeed urgent questions about Obama's extensive radical profile are `deranged' and `racist' smears, while they themselves describe Palin herself as `a cancer' and even spread the calumny that she is not the mother of her own son, you can be sure that profoundly irrational forces are at work.

It is a matter of considerable regret to me that someone like Oliver, whose acumen I much respect and who would never descend to such levels, cannot see this and the fact that Obama, despite his professed Christianity, is the candidate of this cultural Marxist onslaught against western values. So much so, indeed, that in junking McCain because of his choice of vice-president, Oliver appears to overlook Obama's choice of the appalling Joe Biden, whose career has been defined by serial grovelling to and appeasement of Iran with all the disastrous consequences that have flowed from that. Not to mention the fact that Biden also revealed during his TV debate that he thinks the US president during the 1929 Wall Street crash was Franklin D Roosevelt, rather than Herbert Hoover who actually was, and that FDR talked to the public about it on TV, which was not yet possible at that time. How can such an idiot be elected to serve `a heartbeat away from the presidency'? Yet that question is asked of Palin alone - and in disgusting terms which have absolutely zero connection to rational debate.

The reason, I would suggest, is that behind this political battle lies the culture war. That is why the stakes are so high, and passions so enraged.

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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, October 24, 2008

'Police are unable to visit 40% of crime victims because of a fog of administration', says British chief constable

Four in ten victims of crime are not visited by a police officer, a chief constable has admitted. Matt Baggott, who is the country's most senior officer for neighbourhood policing, blamed a 'fog of over-supervision and administration'. The Leicestershire chief constable said: 'We do not have the time to do our jobs properly. 'There are no excuses about money. This is about leadership.' He believes every victim should receive a police visit. But critics say many forces no longer attend the scenes of minor crimes, such as theft or vandalism.

Mr Baggott is the first officer to place a figure on the number of incidents that are simply investigated over the phone, with the victim being handed a crime number to give to their insurer. He told a conference in London: 'At the moment we do not visit 40 per cent of crime victims. 'We are not dealing with the moment of misery in their life thoroughly.'

He fears that this approach will make it harder to find out how crimes were able to take place and whether there were any other problems in the neighbourhood. This has a knock-on effect on public trust in policing. According to research conducted for Mr Baggott, for every negative experience of the police, officers must do 14 positive acts locally to repair the damage to their reputation.

He urged officers to free themselves from red tape and targets by engaging in 'structured anarchy' - challenging excessive bureaucracy to persuade policy-makers to scrap it. He wants constables to have the same freedoms as GPs, who do not need permission from superiors to write prescriptions or decide how to treat patients. At present, junior officers have to check their actions with sergeants.

Mr Baggott also wants all criminals to be met at the prison gates to dissuade the 70 per cent who reoffend from doing so. He said they should be placed under such close supervision that they could not commit any more crimes. Former Police Federation chairman Jan Berry, who now works as a red tape tsar for the Home Office, backed Mr Baggott's comments. She said: 'We have got too many people complying with sets of rules that are doing nothing for neighbourhood safety.' She added there was a danger of 'losing the momentum' in tackling red tape and targets since a report into slashing bureaucracy by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, was published earlier this year.

Mr Baggott's comments follow a damning report by the Civitas thinktank warning that the middle classes have lost confidence in the police. The study found responses to crimes such as burglary were slow and statements given by victims of serious crime were often left lying idle for months.

Last month, it emerged that complaints against police officers in England and Wales had risen to record levels. Accord to the Independent Police Complaints Commission there were 48,280 complaints in the year to March, up five per cent on the previous year and the highest total since independent investigations began more than 20 years ago. Most of the complaints concerned alleged failures to investigate or record crimes properly.


Following the Rules

For some time now, we have heard news of failed economies and failed com-panies, failed markets and failed marriages, failed domestic and foreign policies, failing cities and failing states, failing students and failing institutions. Oddly omitted in this news has been mention of the primary reason for these failures: a failure to play by the rules essential to rational living.

Approximately half of the US population doesn't like these essential rules. These people call themselves liberals. They support the modern permissive culture, the culture of self-indulgent rule breaking.

The other half of the US population knows that human beings have to follow certain rules to have good lives. These people call themselves conservatives and libertarians. They defend a traditional culture of restraint. These people know the following facts of life:
* In the care of our bodies we have to obey the rules of physics, chemistry and biology. If we don't obey those rules, the result is injury, disease and death. The epidemics of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and obesity in America illustrate the point.

* In marital and family relationships we have to follow certain rules regard-ing fidelity, thoughtfulness, and responsibility. If we don't obey those rules, the result is emotional pain and family breakdown. The epidemic of divorce and broken families illustrates the point.

* In economic transactions we have to obey the laws of supply, demand, price and scarcity. If we don't obey by those rules, the result is economic failure and material loss. The current worldwide credit and financial crises illustrate the point.

* In social behavior we have to follow rules of honesty, fairness, mutuality, and courtesy. If we don't obey those rules, the result is social turmoil. The American epidemic of rudeness, vulgarity and violence illustrates the point.

* In political transactions we have to follow rules set out in our Constitution that protect individuals from harmful actions by governments. If we don't obey those rules, the result is economic chaos and political warfare. The ongoing transformation of America from a reasonably peaceful and well coordinated capitalist society into a highly conflicted collectivist battle-ground illustrates the point.
Since all of this is quite obvious (with a little reflection), the question arises as to why so many of us don't follow the rules that make our lives better. Surely, we know the risks: history tells us that any society that fails to follow the rules suffers mightily, and eventually collapses.

One answer to the question of why we don't follow the rules arises from the fact that human beings are driven by primitive appetites. We are driven by sexual and aggressive impulses, by attachment and dependent impulses, by acquisitive and narcissistic impulses.

These impulses are part of our biology. Their wired-in demands are extremely powerful. When they are not properly restrained by good enough child-rearing and strong enough cultural constraints, they push us to break whatever rules we encounter. In particular, our primitive impulses tell us to break the rules that govern economic, social, and political processes. When we do that, we suffer financial disasters, political and social conflict, broken marriages and families, ill health and premature death.

In fact, we now have an American culture dedicated to rule breaking. The second half of the 20th century witnessed the rise of the modern liberal agenda's permissive culture: easy sex, easy drugs, easy credit, easy debt, easy violence, easy lies. It is a movement committed in the name of illusory freedom to the satisfaction of human appetites -- at the expense of authentic freedom grounded in self-discipline. It is a movement drunk on unaffordable self-indulgence.

Our current economic, social, and political crises are the consequences of rule breaking; they are the wages of secular sins. In its monumental lack of restraint, its colossal sense of entitlement, its stunning mendacity, its callous indifference to destructive policies, its assault on the foundations of freedom, modern liberalism is a rule breaking juggernaut of global proportions. In all corners of the planet, the indulgence of unrestrained impulses is destroying the ethical and moral discipline essential to ordered liberty.

Friedrich Hayek described many years ago the modern liberal's fatal economic conceit: the delusion that central economic planning works. In fact, it does not and cannot work, because it violates the laws of economics and ignores human nature. But modern liberalism is now enthralled with an even grander fatal conceit: the belief that whole societies can break not only the rules that govern economic processes but also the rules that govern social, political, marital and personal processes.

The modern epidemic of global rule breaking is a form of societal insanity. Our contemporary cultural decay in every major sector of adult life is Exhibit A. The epidemic will not be broken until we stop breaking the rules.


Voter fraud

Republicans and Democrats alike should be up in arms because voter fraud is a direct threat to freedom and bedrock American beliefs. Outlets for voters to express their concern are available on both sides of the political divide - and well they should be.

As news reports demonstrate, the voters' concern over fraud is not unfounded. In Florida, we've got people registering Mickey Mouse to vote. In Nevada, they attempted to register the Dallas Cowboys' starting lineup. Ohio has unfortunately been plagued by persistent and widespread voter registration fraud this year. Stories of teenagers signing dozens of registration forms and criminals brazenly voting multiple times with fake addresses dominate the evening news coverage and fill the morning papers.

The actions of unscrupulous activists have been made easier by rulings on early voting, and an overall indifference to fraud from the state's top elections official. New opportunities now exist for widespread fraud, which could seriously compromise the accuracy of this election. For example, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner recently interpreted Ohio law to allow for people to cast an absentee ballot on the same day that they register to vote. Her edict on that issue is one of many she will have to address as concerns of voter registration and voting fraud continue to grow. Ms. Brunner's recent bombshell announcement that 200,000 of the state's 660,000 new voter registrations are in question raises the stakes. This means information provided by a person registering does not match that person's corresponding information on file at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration.

Ms. Brunner then took the extraordinary step of refusing to provide the mismatched voter data to county election officials. After vigorous objections by Ohio Republicans and the free-market think tank the Buckeye Institute, a federal district court and its appellate court ordered her to make the information available. The matter made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that federal courts lacked jurisdiction. Republican lawyers are now arguing the case before Ohio's Supreme Court.

Ohioans, I suspect, find Ms. Brunner's protestations curious. They want Ms. Brunner to make sure the voter rolls are correct and fraud free. In fact, voters across the country want that too. They do not want to be embroiled in months of post-election litigation and uncertainty. Imagine a repeat of Florida 2000 occurring in Ohio or in multiple states across the country, with disputes over who was properly registered, where fraud occurred and which votes should count. It will make the "hanging chad" debacle look like a walk in the park.

This, however, can be avoided by closely examining suspicious registration and voting activity now, while there is still time to prevent these fraudulent votes from entering the system. Fraudulent activity undermines the fundamentals of democracy. Voter fraud contaminates the integrity of our election system.

The right to vote is one of our most basic rights, and it is subverted whenever a qualified voter's ballot is denied or when a legal vote is nullified by a fraudulent vote. Our election process must therefore receive the most vigorous protection possible, to ensure that all legal votes are counted, while all illegal votes are not. To protect the integrity of their vote, citizens can go to websites like www.DefendMyVote.com and give added voice to a national effort to stop fraud.

To their credit, many states have initiated investigations into voter fraud, and some courts have acted to force officials to examine or adjust their voting practices. But leaving the future of our country in the hands of others is never a wise idea.

A clear message from the voting public is the most effective way to ensure that secretaries of state and other authorities vigorously protect voters - and this country - from unsavory activists who are looking to subvert the election.


Hate shortage

Not on the Left, of course

The New York Times headline seems a candidate for bottom story of the day: "Hate Groups Mostly Quiet in Election":
So stands the state of organized racism in 2008, paralyzed and at a crossroads in what would presumably be a pressing moment of action--the possibility that Senator Barack Obama will become the first black president--but has so far not been. . . .

"What we really haven't seen is white supremacists really rallying over an Obama presidency," said Mark Potok, the director of intelligence at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. "Hate groups are in a more or less stunned position right now; they haven't been able to figure out how to proceed just yet."
Could this be because "hate groups" are something of an urban legend? Obviously white supremacists exist, but the Times was able to find only one to interview: the delightfully named Bill White, head of the American National Socialist Workers Party.

The report details the recent activities of a few other putative white supremacists, although they do not seem all that devoted to their putative ideology. The notorious David Duke, the Times reports, "has, in fact, written positively about the prospect of Mr. Obama's being elected," and he is not alone:
In one sign of shifting mores, James Knowles, a former Ku Klux Klan member who was convicted in a 1981 lynching, said in a Discovery Channel documentary by Ted Koppel that Mr. Obama was a potentially acceptable candidate. "People need to vote for him because of his ideas and the veracity that he displays in what he does, and not because he's African-American," Mr. Knowles said.
We live in an era in which not only is a black man heavily favored to become the next president of the United States, but former Ku Klux Klan members use the term "African-American." It seems reasonable to surmise that hate groups have been more than "stunned," as the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok says. They have been all but eradicated.

So why does anyone pretend otherwise? Well, cui bono? Mark Potok for one, who gets paid to "track" these groups. If they no longer exist, neither does his job. Also Barack Obama pals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who, as blogger Steve Bartin notes, have a new book coming out bearing the odd title "Race Course Against White Supremacy." The belief that white supremacy remains a significant force in American life also entails psychic and political rewards for liberal Democrats, who get to feel morally superior to putatively bigoted GOP voters and scare blacks into remaining in the Democratic fold.

Source (See the original for links)


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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opposition to California Proposition 8: The usual hatred coming from the Left

But they project their own hatred onto others

Next to the presidential election, California Proposition 8 is the most important vote in America. It will determine the definition of marriage for the largest state in America, and it will determine whether judges or society will decide on social-moral issues.

In 2000, 61 percent of the voters in California, one the most liberal states in America, voted to retain the only definition of marriage civilization has ever had -- the union of a man and woman (the number of spouses allowed has changed over time but never the sexes of the spouses). But in May 2008, four out of seven California justices decided that they would use their power to make a new definition: Gender will now be irrelevant to marriage.

As a result of this judicial act, the only way to ensure that we continue to define marriage the way every religious and secular society in recorded history has defined marriage -- as between men and women -- is to amend the California Constitution. It is the only way to prevent the vote of one judge from redefining marriage, as was also done in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Which is why Proposition 8 exists.

But even though California voters decided by a large margin to retain the man-woman definition of marriage, passing Proposition 8 will be a challenge. First, the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, unilaterally renamed the proposition as it appears on California ballots. It had been listed as "Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Brown, a liberal Democrat, changed the proposition's wording to: "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment." The reason for this change is obvious -- to make the proposition appear as a denial of a basic human and civil right.

Marriage has never been regarded as a universal human or civil right. Loving and living with anyone one wants to live with are basic human rights. But marriage is actually a privilege that society bestows on whom it chooses. And even those who believe that any two unmarried people who want to get married should be given a marriage license should regard as wrong an attorney general changing a ballot proposition's language to favor his own social views. What Brown did was attempt to manipulate people who lean toward preserving the definition of the most important social institution in society -- people who have no desire whatsoever to hurt gays -- to now think of themselves as bigots.

According to Sacramento Bee columnist Margaret A. Bengs, "a recent Field Poll analysis found" that the new wording by Brown "had a 'striking' impact on those newly familiar with the measure, with a 23-point swing against it."

What we have here is truly manipulative. Four justices create a right, and then a sympathetic attorney general renames a proposition so as to protect a 4-month-old right that no one had ever voted to create. And the left accuses the right of imposing its values on society.

The second hurdle for Proposition 8 is even greater: the multimillion dollar campaign to label proponents of Proposition 8 "haters" and to label the man-woman definition of marriage as "hate." Or as they put it: "Prop 8 = Prop Hate."

It is apparently inconceivable to many of those who wish to change the definition of marriage that a decent person can want to retain the man-woman definition. From newspaper editorials to gay and other activist groups, the theme is universal -- proponents of traditional marriage are haters, the moral equivalents of those who opposed racial equality. As The New York Times editorial on the subject put it, Proposition 8 is "mean-spirited."

But it is the charge of hate (along with bigotry, homophobia and intolerance) that is the primary charge leveled against supporters of Proposition 8. That's why one major anti-Proposition 8 group is "Californians Against Hate."

Any honest outsider would see that virtually all the hate expressed concerning Proposition 8 comes from opponents of the proposition. While there are a few sick individuals who hate gay people, I have neither seen nor heard any hatred of gays expressed by proponents of Proposition 8. Not in my private life, not in my e-mail, not from callers on my radio show.

It is the proponents of same-sex marriage who express nearly all the hate -- because in fact many of them do hate, loudly and continuously. But hate in the name of love has a long pedigree. Why should our generation be different?

These charges of "hate" against proponents of retaining the man-woman definition of marriage do not speak well for those who make them. I, for one, find it easy to believe that most opponents and most proponents of Proposition 8 are decent people. There are millions of decent people who think marriage should be redefined. I think they are wrong, but I do not question their decency.

Why won't those who favor redefining marriage accord the same respect to the millions of us who want gays to be allowed to love whom they want, live with whom they want, be given the rights they deserve along with the dignity they deserve, but who still want marriage to remain man-woman?


You Know You're An Elitist If...

This election cycle has exposed an enormous divide across the country. It's not the divide between black and white; it's not even the divide between liberals and conservatives. It's the divide between elitists and the rest of us.

Elitism is a state of mind. Not everyone in New York and Los Angeles is afflicted by it, and not everyone from Jackson, Mississippi is free from it. Elitism is the feeling of superiority enjoyed by certain people based on their income, education, and nuanced value system. Elitism carries with it a strong hint of "sophisticated" Europeanism, as well as a large helping of atheistic skepticism. Worried that you're an elitist? Here's how you can tell if you are.

You're an elitist if you love Brokeback Mountain, but think that John Wayne movies are jingoistic expressions of outdated American machismo.

You're an elitist if you worry that Sarah Palin hunts moose, but aren't worried that Barack Obama wants to meet personally with dictators.

You're an elitist if you think Colin Powell was less "authentically black" than Barack Obama until Powell endorsed Obama.

You're an elitist if you think that only bitter people unhappy with their lives cling to the Bible.

You're an elitist if you quote the Book of Matthew to justify socialism, cite the Book of John to defend Bill Clinton, write off the Book of Romans as "obscure," or deride the Old Testament as a collection of antiquated messages about shellfish and animal sacrifices.

You're an elitist if you think that President Bush is stupid because he says "nucular," while Joe Biden is a genius even though he thinks the word "jobs" has three letters.

You're an elitist if you think Joe the Plumber's income and license status are more important than the question he asked Barack Obama.

You're an elitist if you believe that anyone who supports the standard of a married man and woman raising a child is a bigot.

You're an elitist if you think Bill Ayers is just a professor of English.

You're an elitist if you believe Bill Maher's new movie, Religulous, accurately depicts religious Christians and Jews.

You're an elitist if you love watching soccer and you're not a recent immigrant.

You're an elitist if you declare that no one's patriotism ought to be challenged - unless they're questioning why they should pay higher taxes.

You're an elitist if you think George Clooney is a great artist.

You're an elitist if you think Sean Penn is a great diplomat.

You're an elitist if you think Madonna is great at anything.

You're an elitist if you think it's unfair to question Barack Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright, or if you think that Obama's association with Wright is akin to his association with Tom Coburn.

You're an elitist if you worship John F. Kennedy.

You're an elitist if you're excited at the prospect of government intervention in the banking system in the aftermath of the subprime meltdown.

You're an elitist if you think Nixon/Reagan/Bush was the nation's worst president but Jimmy Carter is the nation's best ex-president.

You're an elitist if you hate Whittaker Chambers but love Arthur Miller.

You're an elitist if you believe Jon Stewart is non-partisan, but Fox News is an outlet for the Republican National Committee.

You're an elitist if you don't mind Sarah Silverman's language but can't stand James Dobson's.

You're an elitist if you worry what the Europeans think of us.

You're an elitist if you think public school teachers are qualified to inform your children about sex, but parents aren't qualified to teach their children basic math.

You're an elitist if you think the government should manage the health care system even though it can't manage to keep the tax code within a 10,000 page limit.

You're an elitist if you think transgenders ought to have their own bathrooms for privacy reasons, but public distribution of pornography is fine.

You're an elitist if you think that pro-life folks are fascists unmotivated by true sympathy for the unborn.

You're an elitist if you know what arugula is but don't know who Jimmie Johnson is.

You're an elitist if your name is Barack Obama. Chances are that you're an elitist if you support him and you aren't being hired by ACORN to do so, too.


British homeowners ordered to pay $100 to use their own garden gate by council

Nasty Leftist envy at work again.

Residents of a cul-de-sac have been ordered by their council to pay a $100 charge to use their own garden gates. Families living in Tyning Park in Calne, Wiltshire, have been told that they must pay the annual fee for access to the woods behind their homes even though hundreds of people pass through it free of charge every day using a public right of way.

Up to 300 children and their parents use the small strip of trees known as Bentley Wood, which are maintained by the town council as a public amenity, each day going to and from the adjoining John Bentley School.

Although the wood has open access at both ends, several houses in the street have gates backing onto to it to make access easier. But officials at Calne Town Council have resurrected a previously forgotten covenant allowing them to levy a charge for the access. Residents have been told their access will be blocked off if they do not pay. The rule dates back to when the 12 houses were first built in the 1980s but was only recently implemented.

It has left residents decidedly unimpressed. "I don't use the gate very much anyway, hardly at all, but the principle of thing is what gets me," said John Watkins, a resident who is leading opposition to the charge. "The other thing is that it could be a very important emergency access in the event of a fire, for example. "I believe it to be unjust, we need the gate to access the fence for maintenance."

He added: "What gets me is that the council don't maintain the trees in the wood. "A couple of years ago a branch fell on my shed causing a lot of damage. "In all the years the house has been built - we moved here in 1989 - we've never been asked to pay and it seems ridiculous."

Helen Plenty, a member of the town council as well as the local Conservative representative on the District Council, said the situation was "laughable". "The woods are open top and bottom, it is a very small patch of land," she said. "On a regular school day the children are up and down there from school to the main road and nobody bothers about that, it just seems that if you have a property that backs on to the woods apparently the law says you have to pay for it. "It is a bit of a joke really."

Blaming the previous Liberal Democrat administration in the town for the decision to begin levying the charge, Mrs Plenty she called for the council to step in and either scrap the charge or make reduce it to a nominal sum. "The point is that many of the residents bought their homes with the gates already there," she said. "This has been a row going on for a year now, and it really is a daft stalemate."


U.N. Anti-Blasphemy Resolution Curtails Free Speech, Critics Say

Religious groups and free-speech advocates are banding together to fight a United Nations resolution they say is being used to spread Sharia law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam. The non-binding resolution on "Combating the Defamation of Religion" is intended to curtail speech that offends religion -- particularly Islam. Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 1999. It was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since.

In 2005, Yemen successfully brought a similar resolution before the General Assembly. Now the 192-nation Assembly is set to vote on it again. The non-binding Resolution 62/145, which was adopted in 2007, says it "notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001." It "stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular."

But some critics believe the resolution is a dangerous threat to freedom of speech everywhere. The U.S. government mission in Geneva, in a statement, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in July that "defamation-related laws have been abused by governments and used to restrict human rights" around the world, and sometimes Westerners have been caught in the web. Critics give some recent news events as examples of how the U.N. "blasphemy resolution" has emboldened Islamic authorities and threatened Westerners:

-- On Oct. 3 in Great Britain, three men were charged for plotting to kill the publisher of the novel "The Jewel of Medina," which gives a fictional account of the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. FOXNews.com reported U.S. publisher Random House Inc., was going to release the book but stopped it from hitting shelves after it claimed that "credible and unrelated sources" said the book could incite violence by a "small, radical segment."

-- An Afghan student is on death row for downloading an article about the role of women in Islam, FOXNews.com also reported.

-- In December 2007 "a court reportedly sentenced two foreigners to six months in prison for allegedly marketing a book deemed offensive to Aisha, one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives," the U.S. government said.

-- A British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in jail in Sudan for offending Islam by allowing students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad in November 2007.

-- In February 2007 in Egypt an Internet blogger was sentenced to four years in prison for writing a post that critiqued Islam.

-- In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered after the release of his documentary highlighting the abuse of Muslim women.

"It's obviously intended to have an intimidating effect on people expressing criticism of radical Islam, and the idea that you can have a defamation of a religion like this, I think, is a concept fundamentally foreign to our system of free expression in the United States," said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Passing the resolution year after year gives it clout, Bolton said. "In places where U.N. decisions are viewed as more consequential than they are in the U.S., they're trying to build up brick-by-brick that disagreement with this resolution is unacceptable."

Kevin "Shamus" Hasson, founder and president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm in Washington that opposes the resolution, said it is a slap in the face of human rights law. "The whole idea of the defamation of religion is a Trojan horse for something else," Hasson said. "When you talk about defamation, you talk about people being defamed and people being libeled, but ideas can't be defamed. Ideas don't have rights, people have rights."

He said the resolution is a shield for Islamic fundamentalists who retaliate against perceived offenses and want to make Islamic Sharia law the law of the land. He said the resolution passes under the guise of protecting religion, but it actually endangers religious minorities in Islamic countries. "Who could possibly be in favor of defamation?" Hasson said. "God may well punish blasphemy in the hereafter, but it's not the government's job to police in the here and now."

Paula Schriefer, advocacy director for Freedom House, a member of the Coalition to Defend Free Speech, agrees. "You have to remember that many of the governments that are pushing forward this idea are not democratic governments," she said. "Citizens of Pakistan or Egypt, who have been two of the ringleaders of this movement, are frequently put in prison or arrested. Even if they're not arrested, the fear of being arrested creates an environment of self-censorship."

Floyd Abrams, Visiting Professor of First Amendment Law at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said that while Americans are protected by the Constitution at home, the U.N. resolution could affect those who travel to countries with anti-free-speech laws and isolate Westerners who oppose restricting religious dialogue.

Neither the Pakistani, the Indonesian nor the Egyptian missions to the U.N. responded to requests for comment. All three are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Britain you now need a licence to dispose of your sandwich wrappings

Britain is beginning to make the Soviets look libertarian

Today's edition of Warden Hodges' Britain comes from Liverpool, where war has been declared on the illegal disposal of industrial waste. Every firm in the city is getting a visit from enforcement officers working for a public-private agency set up by the council. Last week it was the turn of Frank Hughes, who runs a small scaffolding hire company. The inspector asked him how he disposes of his waste.

Frank said he doesn't. He explained that scaffolding is a relatively simple business which doesn't generate waste. But you must eat lunch, the inspector retaliated. I bring sandwiches, Frank told him. And before you ask, I take the wrapping home with me. In which case, you're breaking the law, the jobsworth informed him. Sandwich wrappings are classified as industrial waste within the meaning of the Act. You need a licence to dispose of them.

And since you don't have one, you are committing a criminal offence. Frank would be hearing from the litigation department in connection with this heinous crime and could expect a minimum fine of $600. With that, the official ticked all the relevant boxes and goose-stepped his way out, another job well-done. Frank wrote to me in despair. 'I am not making this up,' he assures me.

I don't think you are for a moment, guv. It wouldn't have surprised me if the inspector had produced a roll of CSI-style crime scene tape, cordoned off the building, declared the whole business off-limits, called for armed police back-up and ordered Frank to cease trading immediately. 'Enviro-crime' is the new 'hate crime'. All must be punished, all the time.

Many councils have already hired teams of environmental crime enforcers. In Salford, they have started patrolling the streets looking for any emptied dustbins still on the pavement at 11am. Offenders are issued with fixed-penalty fines. This is particularly distressing for pensioners and for mothers with young children who return from shopping trips to discover they have been nicked. How are people out at work expected to bring in their bins before 11am? Has that occurred to the morons at the Town Hall?

I shouldn't have thought so for a moment. And even if it did, it would be considered a bonus, increasing the potential for punishment and revenue-raising. These are just two, tiny examples of the perverted manner in which those we pay to perform straightforward duties go out of their way to persecute us. By tonight, my inbox will be full of dozens more.

Prevention of illegal dumping is a noble pursuit. No one wants chemicals poured away in suburban gutters, or asbestos casually chucked over the fence of the local children's playground. Too many country hedgerows and city side-streets are besmirched by fly-tipping, an unpleasant but inevitable side-effect of scrapping weekly rubbish collections in the name of saving the polar bears.

But that's no excuse for the Sandwich Stasi. It takes a pedantry bordering on extreme mental illness to define greaseproof paper used for wrapping a round of cheese and pickle as 'industrial waste' - let alone demanding that someone has to possess a licence to dispose of it. Similarly, having the pavements cluttered with empty dustbins isn't particularly desirable. But fining people for not bringing them in by mid-morning is outrageous. What are they supposed to do - take an hour off work or stay at home until the dustmen have been?

Of course, none of this would be necessary if councils hadn't ended the traditional method of rubbish collection. Some of us can remember when dustmen came round to the back of your house, carried your bin to the cart, emptied it and then returned it to whence it came. Now you are expected to wheel your own bin to the front gate - and woe betide you if you don't leave it in exactly the place designated by the council. Even a few inches out and they'll refuse to empty it. Then the 'environmental crime' wardens will come along and issue you with a fine.

Those charged with waste disposal in Britain have taken leave of their senses. They have forgotten that they are public servants. They see themselves as evangelical environmental warriors and the rest of us are their enemy. They now exist purely to bully, fine and punish us.

It is nothing short of monstrous that hard-working, law-abiding small businessmen like Frank Hughes - the backbone of the nation - can be treated in this fashion. While he is doing everything he can to battle through a recession not of his making, his taxes are going towards paying the salary and pension of a jumped-up, otherwise-unemployable twerp who proposes to fine him $600 for 'illegal disposal' of a sandwich wrapping.

For two decades, this column has made a career out of exposing the unbending lunacy and sheer bloody-mindedness of British bureaucrats, but the monster marches ravenously on. At a time when we can least afford it, we are being bled white to finance the Sandwich Stasi and hundreds of thousands of index-linked, spiteful, self-righteous parasites. In another life, these are the very people who would have been loading the cattle trucks to the concentration camps. To the scaffold with the lot of them.


Republican rallies: the myth of a crazed mob

The liberal media's depiction of McCain supporters as a Weimar-like gang of rednecks shows their own fear of the white working class

Republican John McCain's campaign made clear at the start of last week that it would raise questions about Democrat Barack Obama's character. Trailing in the polls and unable to make up ground on the issue of the economy, McCain was looking for a way to turn the contest around - and `going negative' on Obama was his answer.

His vice-presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, kicked off the new message in a speech in which she criticised Obama for `palling around with terrorists' - that is, Bill Ayres, one-time member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. McCain made similar criticisms at a rally on Monday, but didn't touch the topic when he was face-to-face with Obama during the primetime debate on Tuesday, and then resumed the character attacks the next day.

But the McCain-Palin approach didn't work. The week's discussions were not really about Obama's ties to Ayres or any other questionable associations or views he might have. Instead, all of the talk in the media was about angry crowds at Republican rallies, allegedly stirred up by McCain and Palin's `hate campaign'.

At a rally in New Mexico on Monday, McCain asked the crowd `Who is Barack Obama?', and video footage shown afterwards suggests that someone shouted the reply: `Terrorist!' (1) At a Palin rally in Florida on the same day, as the VP candidate was describing the Obama-Ayres link, a member of the audience reportedly yelled `Kill him!' (though it wasn't clear whether `him' referred to Obama or Ayres) (2). The next day, while Palin was criticising Obama on the issue of Afghanistan, a rally-goer called out `Treason!' (3)

What began as media coverage of a few cases of anti-Obama ranting turned into an all-out game of `find a freak' - especially by amateur video camera operators. One video of Republicans entering a McCain-Palin rally in Ohio highlighted an individual referring to Obama as a terrorist because of his `bloodlines' (4). Another featured a man on his way into a Pennsylvania arena holding up a monkey doll with an Obama hat (5). One video showed people from Kentucky - `drunken rednecks', as the video-maker called them - saying `we do not need an Arab president'; it quickly did the rounds in the media last week, even though it was originally posted on YouTube in June (6). All three videos became viral and received far more attention than the McCain campaign's `Obama is risky' advertisements.

Of course, all of these expressions are obnoxious and any one is one too many. But they were fairly isolated instances: thousands of people attended the rallies, but the media chose to focus on the few individuals shouting out insults and threats. Worse still, these individuals were presented as being typical of the entire audience. White working-class people at the rallies were now portrayed as members of an angry, crazed mob. Greg Sargent of the website Talking Points Memo referred to `the unhinged frenzy gripping crowds at McCain-Palin gatherings' (7). Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote about `Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies' and warned that `each day the mob howls louder' (8). Apparently, all it takes is a few nutjobs sounding off to declare that we're witnessing the rise of a fascist movement.

What's more, these relatively few cases led many to express their fears that one from this mob would go beyond an outburst of violent rhetoric, and actually try to assassinate Obama. Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates calls it `the unthinkable', and says the attacks on Martin Luther King's character before his assassination are `the ghost that the McCain campaign is summoning' (9). John Lewis, civil rights veteran and congressman from Georgia, also referred back to the Sixties. He said McCain and Palin are `sowing the seeds of hatred and division', and likened the atmosphere at Republican events to those featuring George Wallace, the segregationist former governor of Alabama and 1968 presidential candidate: `George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.' (10)

Frank Rich argues that `the McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism' (11). And pro-Obama blogger Andrew Sullivan writes that: `This is a moment of maximum physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.' (12)

Obama himself has, for a long time, dismissed such fears, citing his Secret Service detail: `I've got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying.' (13) That hasn't stopped talk of assassination from being an undercurrent among his supporters (see Please kill this Obama `assassination porn', by Brendan O'Neill). Now this discussion is more out in the open.

But these fears are not expressions of reasonable concerns about Obama's security: as Obama himself notes, he has presidential-like security, and the odds of anything happening remain extremely low (although, of course, it is always a possibility, as with any candidate). Instead, his supporters' worries really represent their fears of the white working-class population. The Democrats - once seen as the party of the mass of working people - are cut off from, and suspicious of, what once was their base of support. Rather than living among the working class and representing its interests, they are distant and live in fear of it.

Even the criticisms of McCain and Palin for using inflammatory rhetoric that could ultimately result in violence are, at bottom, condemnations of the working class. Critics are essentially saying: don't McCain and Palin know that they are playing with a dangerous group that is easily led to violence? Liberals know that the idea that Obama is a terrorist is absurd, that most people don't believe it to be true, and even that the McCain campaign is not explicitly saying such a thing. But some of them worry that there is a mob out there that is stupid enough to take McCain's and Palin's criticisms of Obama as a cue to become violent.

You can blame the McCain camp for many things, including running a lacklustre campaign that has very little to say about the key issues of our time, such as the financial crisis. You can also say that McCain's decision to `go negative' and attack Obama's character smacks of desperation (if this was such an important issue, why wait until the last few weeks to bring it up?). But it's not true, as many have suggested, that he and Palin seek to incite violence against Obama. Yes, Palin does use the word `terrorist' when she tells her line about Obama and Ayres, but there's a very long way from that to saying `Obama is an Islamic terrorist'.

At the beginning of the week many wondered how the Obama campaign would defend itself from the McCain attacks. In the event, they did not have to answer direct challenges, because all of the focus was on the Republican rallies. With allies from the media, they have managed to depict any McCain and Palin reference to Ayres or Obama's qualifications in general as being tantamount to inciting violence. But in reality, the Obama campaign and its supporters are the ones who have incited fears - fears of a dangerous, reckless white working class. This may work to get their man elected in November, but it comes at the price of further alienating a group that is sceptical about, if not outright hostile, to the Democrats. Thus the Democrats may find that they win the election battle, but, in doing so, they have damaged their chances of winning the governing war.


There's a God-shaped hole in Westminster

Today's politicians - whose favourite summer reading was The God Delusion - have never been more fearful of faith

The Archbishop of Canterbury likes to say that religion is getting increasingly political just as politicians become ever more interested in subjects that have traditionally been the domain of religion. For once, he has never been more right. This week the House of Commons will vote on government proposals to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for scientific research. At the same time, MPs are pushing for changes to the law on abortion. The assisted suicide of the rugby player Daniel James has reopened the debate about euthanasia. The rows over headscarves, the blasphemy law, science education and Lords reform all show how the boundaries have been blurred.

Meanwhile, in the City, Mammon has been exposed as a false god whose worshippers seem to have been sacrified on the altar of the credit crunch. There is a yearning for answers that go beyond interest rates, targets and the public sector borrowing requirement. The bishops have started bashing the bankers. Yet politicians, of all parties, have never been more fearful of faith. It was Alastair Campbell who famously told a journalist: "We don't do God." He forbade Tony Blair to end his television address to the nation in the run-up to the Iraq war with the words: "God bless you."

Certainly, politicians find it easier to "come out" as atheists than to profess that they have a religious faith. Nick Clegg, David Miliband and George Osborne have all said recently that they do not believe in God - something that would be unthinkable in the United States, where presidential candidates compete to win over religious voters. Although David Cameron sends his daughter to a church school, he describes his faith as being "like Magic FM in the Chilterns", something that fades in and out, as if he is rather embarrassed by the whole idea.

There is a curious mismatch here. MPs place their hands on a Bible when they swear the Oath of Allegiance on taking up their seats; prayers are said every day in Parliament - and yet the favourite book for politicians on holiday last year was The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins' atheist tract. It would be hard to find an MP who prefers the God-fearing C.S. Lewis to the divinity-baiting Phillip Pullman.

There has been a believer in Downing Street for the past 11 years. Tony Blair, the first prime minister since Gladstone who slept with a Bible beside his bed, once said that his Christianity and his politics "came together at the same time" - he even claimed that "Jesus was a moderniser". Gordon Brown, who keeps a moral compass under his pillow, regularly cites his father's sermons in his speeches. He wants the markets to rediscover the importance of ethics.

But the cynical hothouse of Westminster is dismissive of the idealism of faith. Most Labour MPs agree instinctively with Karl Marx, that religion is the opium of the masses. As for the new Tories, it is just not right for their Converse trainer image if the Church of England is still seen as the Conservative Party at prayer. It is as if the end of ideological divides has weakened the wider power of belief.

The creeping secularisation of politics was one of the factors that pushed Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic, into resigning her Cabinet position. It was not only that she disagreed with the Government's proposals on stem-cell research - and as a backbencher she will be able to vote against them tomorrow. She was also disturbed by the way in which her membership of Opus Dei was seen as something weird and even rather dangerous; and she disliked the way in which Mr Blair's Christianity was mocked during the war in Iraq. "The debate in Britain has become incredibly secularised," she explained earlier this month. "Religion is seen as something a bit strange, in the margins. Politics is much the poorer for that because you want people who believe in things to go into politics."

In policy terms, the assumption in Whitehall is that it is bad to believe. The Government's "statement of British values" is unlikely to make any mention of faith; the Department for Communities and Local Government guidelines for councils on what to tell new residents include lots about queuing but nothing on Christianity. A report published by the Church of England earlier this year accused the Government of "deep religious illiteracy" and of having "no convincing moral direction"

When Alice Thomson and I interviewed Phil Woolas last week, his comments on immigration hit the headlines - but it was his suggestion that the Anglican Church would be disestablished that got Downing Street in a jitter. The minister's claim that the link between Church and State would be broken within 50 years because "a modern society is multi-faith" was potential dynamite, with implications for the monarchy, the armed forces and the judiciary as well as Parliament. In fact, Mr Brown has already started to break the link between Church and State - he has given up the power to appoint bishops and is considering a plan to abolish the Act of Settlement, which ensures that only a Protestant can succeed to the throne - but he had hoped to move to the point of disestablishment by stealth.

It would be wrong to suggest that Britain is any longer a Christian country in terms of the population - only 7 per cent of people regularly attend an Anglican church. Yet neither is Britain a secular State like France. Its history, culture and constitutional settlement are based on the link between Church and State. Earlier this year, Nicholas Sarkozy criticised the French republic's obsession with secularism and called for a "blossoming" of religions. "A man who believes is a man who hopes," he said. It is ironic that politicians in this country have abandoned belief - at the very moment that the people need hope.


Racial Preference on the Ballot

Well-funded opposition moves against efforts to ban preferences

While choosing between tickets featuring Barack Obama or Sarah Palin this November, voters in Colorado and Nebraska will also be able to bury the idea that blacks and women in America still need special help to get ahead. In those states, the ballot will carry civil rights initiatives to end race and gender preferences in public hiring and education. Led by Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Institute, the measures would take a chip out of racial preferences that have committed the same kinds of discrimination they were designed to prevent.

If passing laws to ban discrimination sounds like a triumph for civil rights, you wouldn't know it from the heckling of opponents, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the measures off ballots around the country, using tactics from lawsuits to voter deception to defeat the plans. Efforts in Missouri and Arizona were blocked by challenges to signature gathering. In Missouri, a dispute with Secretary of State Robin Carnahan over the ballot language left the Missouri initiative with only 90 days to collect 200,000 signatures. In Arizona, signatures went uncounted or were declared invalid on questionable grounds. Offending signatories were nixed for offenses as grave as writing the wrong date, or signing "Jim" instead of "James."

In Nebraska, the measure made the ballot despite activist groups funded by four heavy hitters, including Warren Buffett, ad-exec Richard Holland, attorney Dianne Lozier and financier Wallace Weitz. The quartet provided a hefty portion of the bankroll for Nebraskans United, a group that ran ads trying to scare voters away from signing petitions by suggesting the signers might be subject to identity theft. The group also challenged the ballot initiative in court, claiming its language ("The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group . . .") amounted to "dirty tricks" that would confuse Nebraska voters. According to the group's Web site, the initiative "appears to be civil rights friendly -- but it actually works against civil rights."

The front-loading of efforts to keep the initiatives off the ballot wasn't an accident: Opponents know they probably can't win in the voting booth. In Nebraska, a poll done for the American Civil Rights Institute found that 71% of Nebraskans say they support the amendment. The support easily gets a majority across party lines as well, with 65% of Democrats indicating support.

In Colorado, activists tried to qualify nearly identical initiatives for the ballot in order to confuse voters on which was the real one. A measure that would have preserved affirmative action narrowly failed to qualify for the ballot. Despite the hoopla, supporters of the initiative to ban preferences expect it to pass comfortably in November.

Similar initiatives have passed in recent years in some of the country's most reliably Democratic states like California and Washington, to good effect. In California, Proposition 209 hasn't resulted in the reductions of minority enrollment that many predicted. While the number of black students declined at the Berkeley and UCLA campuses, systemwide minority enrollment increased between 1997 and 2007 while graduation and retention rates improved.

Defenders of group-based preferences have long warned that minorities couldn't succeed in a system that doesn't give them special advantages. But far from turning back the clock for African-Americans and women, ending preferences will allow minorities and women to take the full credit for their accomplishments. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin have shown the roads are open.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frenzied Raceocrats

I have written a number of times about the absurd lengths, or depths, Democrats, liberals, journalists, editorial writers (but I repeat myself) will go to in order to find racism in the Republican campaign. I believe many of these examples will live on, after this campaign is over, in the annals of political derangement, or perhaps collections of unintended political humor.

Thus David Gergen, former confidential advisor to just about everybody and the very icon of establishment rectitude who often sounds like a schoolmarm correcting the rubes for their uncouth attitudes, actually argued with a straight face (but then his face is always straight) that criticizing Obama for his lack of experience, his lack of achievement, and his far left notions was in effect calling him "uppity," which is not-so-coded racism. This "uppity" claim became a ubiquitous trope on the left, i.e., in the mainstream media (such as this OpEd in the Los Angeles Times). As I pointed out here,
So, for Republicans to criticize Obama as "elitist" is really accusing him of being "arrogant," and that in turn is really nothing more than the old racist slur of calling him "uppity." This view strikes me as so bizarre that I would say the nation's media elite has race on the brain ... if I thought it had a brain.
In a similar vein of unintended humor, the director of digital media at National Public Radio wrote that McCain ads poking fun at Obama as an empty-suited celebrity were "subliminally racist" because they contained comparisons to Paris Hilton, thus "subtly playing on racist impulses that fear black men with white women, or that preyed on the idea that black men succeed only in celebrity arenas like sports and music...."

More recently Sarah Palin has been widely and loudly denounced as a racist for pointing out that Obama has maintained a long-standing friendship (has been "palling around," is how she put it) with a white former but unrepentant terrorist. And Congressman Barney Frank, of Fannie Mae fame, through his supersized analytical abilities has been able to determine that Republican criticism of the role the Community Reinvestment Act played in bringing on the current financial crisis (by requiring banks to lend to unqualified borrowers) was no more than "a veiled attack on the poor that's racially motivated." This charge, of course, is simply another example of the frequent Democratic litany that Republican efforts (there are efforts, aren't there?) to oppose ACORN's fraudulent registration of thousands of "voters" (or maybe its tens or hundreds of thousands) is an effort to suppress the vote by intimidating upstanding, legitimate voters.

In the past week or so, however, the thundering herd of independent minds making these risible charges has become even more frenetic, becoming, it seems to me, almost clinically deranged, delusional, as I called one recent example. Thus E.J. Dionne has McCain leading "the reemergence of the far right as a power in American politics," his campaign "playing with extremist themes to denigrate Obama." (Dionne better be careful and choose his words more wisely, or the Obama campaign and its journalistic minions may turn on him with the accusation that "denigrate" is really a coded, sub-textual racist slur.)
McCain and his campaign do not pick up the most extreme charges. They just fan the flames by suggesting that voters don't really know who Obama is, hinting at a sinister back story without filling in the details.

Apparently Dionne does know who Obama really is, though he hasn't told us. Dionne's belief that concern about a potential (and now likely) president's associates, friends, mentors is no more than a racist version of McCarthyite "guilt by association" also found expression in a recent Time column by Peter Beinart (last encountered making an "egregiously dumb" argument here). To Beinart, when Palin describes Obama as palling around with terrorists and says of him that "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America," she is - you guessed it - "injecting race" into the campaign.
In 2008, with their incessant talk about who loves their country and who doesn't, McCain and Palin are doing something different: they're using race to make Obama seem anti-American.
Exactly how they're "using race" to criticize Obama's associates views and associates is never explained. One can be forgiven for thinking that just about any criticism of a black candidate's position on anything is impermissibly "using race."

By far the most offensive of these recent accusations of Republican racism came, however, from perhaps the only widely recognized saints in American politics, the civil rights veteran and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Or I should say, someone who was formerly widely recognized as a saint, for Lewis's recent comment has permanently tarnished his halo and soiled the angelic white robes in which an adoring press (and not only the press, as demonstrated here) always clothes him. The Wall Street Journal nicely captured Lewis's descent into the depths of race-baiting:
By raising questions about Barack Obama's relationship with terror-bomber William Ayers, the Republicans are "sowing the seeds of hatred and division," Mr. Lewis said. "During another period, in the not-too-distant past, there was a governor of a state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their Constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."
Mr. Lewis's over-the-top analogy is nastier by far than anything the GOP nominees have said during this campaign. In any case, Mr. Ayers is white....

I can't say I knew George Wallace (though I knew some of his cousins), but I did see him up close, as did John Lewis. To compare McCain and Palin with Wallace and say they are creating a climate of violence comparable to the one that resulted in Birmingham church bombing is not just ridiculous; it's nothing short of despicable.

Now that Lewis has discarded his halo for vitriolic partisanship, other examples have begun to surface. Thus Red State reports an example from 2006 where Lewis drew upon his iconic status to bash racist Republicans:
In 2006, John Lewis cooperated with a radio ad for John Eaves, the present Chairman of the Fulton County Commission in Georgia. The ad played on black radio stations. In it, Lewis said this:
On Nov. 7, we face the most dangerous situation we ever have. You think fighting off dogs and water hoses in the '60s was bad. [Now we] sit idly by, and let the right-wing Republicans take control of the Fulton County County Commission.
This was followed with Atlanta's current mayor Shirley Franklin claiming the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr. might be undone and of former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young saying they couldn't afford to turn the clock back. Lewis, though, got the last word, saying:
Your very life may depend on it.
The message is clear: Vote Republican and you go back to slavery.
Moving now from a (formerly) secular saint to a Catholic priest, Andrew Greeley is even less subtle than Lewis, describing Sarah Palin as, like Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, "an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House." Greeley, with the impressive ability to peer into the hearts and souls of ordinary Americans that fortunately is so widely shared among liberal pundits, tells us that when people say they don't know enough about Obama to make a decision about him ("as if there were not two books about his life"!), what they are really saying is
that they don`t know enough about him to accept his strange name or his skin color. It is, of course, impossible that they could ever know enough. He isn't one of us.
At this point Greeley slides, still with no evidence, from what he knows doubting Americans really believe to what the McCain campaign is purposefully and knowingly doing:
Playing the race card explicitly merely guarantees what I have thought from the beginning -- racism in this country precludes the possibility of a sepia-colored man becoming president. However, the last-ditch attack on him guarantees that McCain and Palin will be blamed as the candidates who were content to hear crowds calling for the death of Obama....

McCain increasingly acts like an angry, befuddled cancer survivor and treats his rival like a field n----- who is just barely human. He does not talk to him, will not shake hands with him, will not even look at him, walks behind him when he is speaking to distract the audience....
Crowds calling for the death of Obama? In the same vein Greeley describes McCain as "a shallow man who is running on the basis of his skin color."

At this point I'm prepared to believe that Greeley really does see visions and hear inner voices speaking to him, but it's not the voice of God. Greeley sounds like a Rev. Jeremiah Wright who decides to abandon tact and say what he really believes.

Some questions these guys ask, however, can be easily answered. When Palin brought up Obama's relationship with Ayers, accusing him of "palling around with terrorists," E.J. Dionne asks, "What other "terrorists" was she thinking about?" Easy. Bernadine Dohrn.


Britain: Parents get the blame for naughty children

Loss of standards has wide-ranging effects

Poor parenting is to blame for a major deterioration in the behaviour of primary school pupils over the past five years, a study suggests today. Classroom disruption is a significant problem for teachers, according to researchers at Cambridge University. In interviews with teachers, Professors Maurice Galton and John Macbeath found that many blamed their pupils' unruly behaviour on the inability of parents to control children at home.

Many pupils lacked the social skills required to get on in class, said the researchers, commissioned the National Union of Teachers. "Teachers describe 'highly permissive' parents who admitted to indulging their children, often for the sake of peace or simply because they had run out of alternative incentives and sanctions," the authors added.

Examples included a mother who, after great effort, succeeded in getting her five-year-old to bed at 1am instead of 3am, and a boy of seven who smashed his Sony PlayStation in a tantrum, then would not behave for a week until his mother bought him a new one.

Professors Galton and Macbeath were also told of parents who would do anything to shut their children up "just to get some peace". Their report says schools face "formidable challenges" - particularly in poor areas where there has been "an increase in the incidence of confrontation and conflict".

The researchers, who visited schools they studied five years ago, added: "There appeared to have been a significant and inimical impact on school life from a rapidly changing social scene. "Motivating certain children, it was claimed, had become more difficult because by the time they came to school many of these children had become expert in manipulating adults."

According to Galton and Macbeath, the top five obstacles to teaching are poor pupil behaviour, lack of time for reflection, large class sizes, too many initiatives and an overloaded curriculum. "Children arrive at school knowing too much and not enough," they said.


The 'how-to' plan to criminalize Christianity

'Homosexuals know they must silence the church and that's what's behind this'

A growing movement that experts believe could end up in the criminalization of Christianity in the United States is being exposed in a new documentary being prepared for airing on October 26, officials at Coral Ridge Ministries have announced. "Hate Crime Laws" is a half-hour expose that shows how Christians in America, Canada, Australia, and Sweden have been arrested and prosecuted for expressing opinions that are rooted in the Bible regarding homosexual conduct, Islam or other topics about which Scriptures express clear teachings. "On the surface, hate crime laws might sound like a good idea," said Jerry Newcombe, of Coral Ridge, who hosts the special. "After all, none of us advocates hatred or violence against another person. But if you look below the surface, suddenly you realize that these laws are really thought crime laws." The program will air on The Coral Ridge Hour time slot and local airing times are available online.

WND has reported previously on hate crimes plans at the local level. In Colorado, for example, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law earlier this year a plan that analysts believe effectively bans publication of the Bible in the state. The gender "anti-discrimination" law bans publication of statements that can be perceived as being negative toward those individuals choosing alternative sexual lifestyles.

WND also has reported when family groups with alarm have warned constituents about pending plans in Congress to institutionalize nationwide such laws. Pro-homosexual advocates long have sought such a law, but opponents fear it would be used to crack down on those who maintain a biblical perspective that condemns homosexuality as sin. Observers note it would criminalize speech and thought, since other criminal actions already are addressed with current statutes.

Canada already has an aggressive "hate crimes" law, and there authorities have gone so far as to tell a Christian pastor he must recant his faith because of the legislation that bans statements that can be "perceived" as condemning another person. Some states already have similar statutes, too, and in New Mexico, a photography company run by two Christians was fined $6,600 by the state for declining to provide services to a lesbian couple setting up a lookalike "marriage" ceremony. The documentary cites the New Mexico case, as well as others.

"Canadian youth pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the editor in 2002 criticizing homosexual activism and offering compassion and hope for people trapped by homosexuality. A human rights tribunal took notice and slapped him with a $5,000 fine, ordered him to apologize in writing, and snuffed out his free speech rights by placing a prior restraint on his public expression of any 'disparaging' opinions about homosexuality," Coral Ridge officials said.

"In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green spoke out against homosexual conduct in a 2003 sermon and was prosecuted for 'hate speech,'" the announcement continued.

In Australia, all it took to bring two ministers into a courtroom on charges of vilifying Islam was a seminar in their own church about Muslim beliefs.

The late Coral Ridge founder D. James Kennedy repeatedly had warned such developments would endanger Americans' civil rights. "This will silence churches, which is their great desire - that churches ... may not be able to say anything negative about homosexuality," he said in an earlier presentation.

An online presentatiion on the issue features Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Homosexuals know they must silence the church in this country, and that's what's behind this," he warns.

Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, also appears. The goal, he said, is the "criminalization of Christianity. If you say traditional morality is now a form of hate and bigotry, and bring the full weight of the government, you have criminalized basic Christian moral doctrine."

Other guests include Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel; and Tristan Emmanuel, a Presbyterian minister who resigned from the pulpit to found the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre.

Opponents of such actions note the deceptiveness of some of the proposals. In Colorado, for example, "Section 8 of the bill makes it a crime to publish or distribute anything that is deemed a 'discrimination' against the homosexual and transsexual lifestyle," according to the Christian Family Alliance. Mark Hotaling, executive director for the Alliance, said initially supporters and even some opponents of the bill explained that there was an exception for churches and church organizations. However, lawmakers then attached to the bill a state "safety clause" which is supposed to deal with laws that are fundamental to protecting the lives of residents.

That, he said, simply stripped away any potential allowances for churches and church groups. "Anyone who claims that there's an exception for churches really doesn't know the ins and outs of the bill," Hotaling told WND. "So the religious exemption is purely window dressing and very deceptive," he said. "The Word of God literally now is banned, and that's a legitimate slam-dunk First Amendment issue there."

President Bush has fended off at least one federal plan by deciding it was unnecessary and promising a veto if Congress would pass it.


BOOK REVIEW of "Patronizing the Arts" by Marjorie Garber. Review by Joseph Epstein

After reading Marjorie Garber's Patronizing the Arts, I conclude that the ideal arts patron is a shy, retired Mafia don without the least interest in art: in other words, a rich man who prefers not to discuss the source of his wealth, would never wish to push himself forward for publicity, could not care less about what an artist does with his money, and is content to walk away quietly with his tax write-off in his suitcoat pocket just above his shoulder holster. Professor Garber, chairman of something called the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard, and the author of books on cross-dressing and bisexuality, concludes otherwise.

Professor Garber describes all but the last few pages of her book as a chronicle of "patronage and its discontents." As her book makes clear, no perfect patronage exists, certainly not in the arts, which offer special problems to any patron and not a few to artists. Patronage in the arts tends to illustrate the cynical proverb that holds no good deed goes unpunished. Although generally sucked up to, by artistic institutions and by artists, patrons, in the restricted sense of men and women who come up with money to help make the creation or performance or display of art possible, have been mocked at least since the days of Samuel Johnson. After his rocky experience with his own patron, Lord Chesterfield, Johnson in his Dictionary famously defined the patron as "commonly a wretch who supports with indolence, and is paid with flattery."

Professor Garber's general view of the arts, like her language, is that found in most humanities departments in the contemporary American university. She finds "paradigm shifts" and spreading "commodification," avails herself of such hideous words as "contestation" and "misprision," and makes little jokes that only students, that most hopelessly captive of audiences, might find amusing. As for her taste in art, she likes it, in good academic fashion, hot and edgy, challenging and confrontational. She even continues to believe, quaintly enough, that there still exists something called the avant-garde, unmindful that, as Paul Val,ry long ago said, "everything changes but the avant-garde."

Owing to her entrenched views, Professor Garber's survey of the history of patronage in the arts is perforce tendentious. In her book the required contempt for government support for the arts under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is nicely in place. The fear of being left behind by art--to end up one of those dunces who scratched at Matisse's early paintings or broke chairs at the first performance of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps--haunts her pages, so that she appears to feel that nearly everything in art that is new is, ipso facto, also to be applauded. She takes the opinion of the world ("that great ninny," as Henry James once called it), or at least that of the art world, as the final arbiter on aesthetic matters. Andy Warhol, for example, is for her a great artist, case long ago closed.

Because of these general views, Patronizing the Arts has a cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys quality. As in a low-grade Hollywood movie, with Professor Garber, you always know for whom to root and whom to boo. Some figures who cross her screen are, to be sure, worth booing, or at any rate being suspicious of. She is perfectly correct, for example, to question the depth of love for art on the part of such corporations as Philip Morris, Absolut Vodka, and ExxonMobil in sponsoring the various artistic projects and events they do. The question here, obviously, isn't what's in it for the talent but what's in it for the corporation. The answer, just as obviously, is high-sheen public relations for companies that feel themselves much in need of it.

But more often Professor Garber's cowboys and Indians approach merely coarsens a richly complex subject. Not least among its complexities is the real relation between patron and artist. When patron meets artist, artist patron, what does each think? Does the patron, if only to himself, ask, "If you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" And does the artist, in his turn, ask, "If you're so rich, how come you're not smart?"

We know what the artist is getting out of the relationship: First and foremost, funds to begin, carry on, or complete his work. Not uncommonly, taking the funds comes with strings--even ropes, on occasion handcuffs--attached. My friend Samuel Lipman, who grew up as a piano prodigy in San Francisco, had as his patroness the daughter of the woman who was the patroness of Yehudi Menuhin. For her monthly stipend, which Sam's parents used for his piano instruction and out-of-classroom tutoring, she put him through his paces, having him over regularly to play for the amusement of her friends and never hesitating, in brusque fashion, to correct his table manners.

The patron's rewards are more subtle. They run from acquiring a reputation for generosity and, possibly, for artistic sensitivity, to the cachet of what passes for culture in capital-S Society, to perhaps moderate relief from guilt for wealth ill-got, to the obvious, frequently overlooked motive of simple honorable altruism. Professor Garber does not seem much interested in the complexities of this relationship.

Neither is she much aware of the ironies with which her subject is so heavily laden. A few years ago Mrs. Ruth Lilly, of the Lilly pharmaceutical family, died and left a bequest to Poetry magazine of more than $100 million, a fact Professor Garber mentions without further comment. Yet this testamentary piece of wildly extravagant patronage could well end in setting the traditionally modest and historically significant Chicago journal well off course. Poetry and the Poetry Foundation, I think it fair to say, don't know what to do with so much money--an actual embarrassment of riches. I have myself received mailings--sent, I gather, to a great many people--surveying me on how best it might be spent.

Everyone is stumped, and with good reason. The undirty little secret here is that it will take more than enormous infusions of money to make even quite well-educated and bookish people care about contemporary poetry, for the only people who do currently care are those who write or teach it. What is needed are great poets, and nobody knows how to make them; mountains of cash, fairly safe to say, won't do the job.

Upon emerging from the old Museum Theatre in Boston after a ballet, Ralph Waldo Emerson is supposed to have said to Margaret Fuller, "This is art!" Miss Fuller is said rapturously to have replied, "Ah, Mr. Emerson, this is religion!" And so art is, for many people, religion by other means.

Professor Garber appears to be one of the parishioners of the good Church of Our Lady of Art. For her art is a purely approbative word, and not merely a noun that permits many adjectives to reside beside it, among them: trivial, highly politicized, wretched, dreary, and simply crappy. Nor does she seem keenly aware that all these latter kinds of art appear to be in exceedingly great supply just now, with almost no demand for any of them, even though such art wins prizes and its creators are solemnly wreathed in honors and weighted down with gold.

Not only contemporary poetry but most contemporary serious music has failed to find an appreciable--let alone appreciating--audience. Much new visual art has attracted market attention, some of it selling for prices that can only puzzle those of us who fail to see anything in it other than the comic contradictions that arise when culture meets capitalism.

When other explanations are wanting, one can't go wrong blaming America. Professor Garber points out that the Dutch, the French, and the Germans, among other European countries, spent greater sums per capita on state-sponsored patronage of the arts than does the United States. But then, traditions of art patronage in American life had, until the Depression, been thought mainly a private matter; the guardianship of high culture--masterpiece paintings and sculpture, orchestral music, ambitious architecture--was assumed to be among the responsibilities of the rich. This was, let it be said, a responsibility that, in the years between the 1870s and 1890s, the American rich did not eschew, building and stocking the country's great art and scientific museums and symphonic halls, and starting many of its important universities.

Only with the Depression, which brought into being the Works Progress Administration, whose function was to invent work for artists--allowing painters to do murals in public buildings, writers to indite state guide books--did the United States government get into the arts in a major way. The WPA ended with World War II. In 1965, with the advent, by act of Congress, of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the relationship between artists, the arts, and the government became complicated.

The tendency of the National Endowment for the Arts has not been at all to Professor Garber's taste. In recent years it has ceased giving grants to artists--with the exception of writers--and has expended its funds chiefly on institutions and programs, many of them bringing Shakespeare, ballet, and other traditional artistic wares to rural communities and other places where they are not usually available. The agency's modus operandi, Professor Garber finds, has been to seek consensus; its goal is, in her words, "to do no harm." She prefers harm, lashings and slashings, with ample money going to artists who don't in the least mind sticking it in the ear of the public, not least their patrons, the United States government.

I was a member of its National Council, or policy setting body, for six of the stormiest years in the NEA's history, from 1984-90. This was a time when the counterculture had become, in the arts at least, the mainstream culture. The result was that much art was of the in-your-face kind, especially in the visual arts and performing arts. These were the years of performance artists smearing their naked bodies with chocolate, photographs of men with plungers stuck in their rectums, crucifixes set afloat in bottles of urine, paper-towels smeared with HIV-positive blood sent skimming out on pulleys over the heads of audiences--all done either directly with the aid of NEA money or under the roofs of institutions funded by the NEA.

How very different from the old avant-garde--that extending from the French impressionists through Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Arnold Schoenberg--a movement having chiefly to do with changing technique in the arts. But the avant-garde in the 1980s had turned largely political: It was about one form or another of ethnic or sexual liberation, of protest and leftwing politics. Its chief message tended to run: I'm an outraged gay or lesbian--or an angry black man, or an aging sixties radical--and I've had it with this detestable bleeping country, with its middle-class respectability, its vaunting of the family, its organized religions, its censorship, and hideous capitalist system. And by the way, nice to learn that I've been awarded an NEA grant, and when do you suppose I might receive my check?

Art is a house with many mansions, also garages, grease pits, small but real slums. Art can be wild, extravagant, offensive, obscene, vile, exhibitionistic, sado-masochistic, filled with political rage, outrageous--it can be all of these things and more. And no one is saying it shouldn't be what the artist feels the need for it to be, though none of this is my particular idea of a good time. But once artists take federal or state--that is, taxpayers'--money, they are under an obligation to be, at a minimum, not directly insulting. If they feel the need for their art to go on the attack--against the customs and institutions of their country--then logic and decent manners suggest they are under the obligation to create it on their own nickel.

The other problem the NEA encountered was that of democracy itself. Art isn't about democracy; it is an elitist activity. Place the word "mediocre" before the word "art" and it isn't any longer art. Yet so much in the funding arrangements of the NEA encouraged mediocrity. Affirmative action was, of course, a great blow for mediocrity in the arts--even NEA peer panels, which recommended grants, were put together along affirmative action lines--for the NEA was committed to helping the disadvantaged, which meant awarding grants to all putative victim groups.

Then there was the grubby political element to consider. A fellow member during my days on the National Council was a Florida state senator who couldn't tell a Picasso from a puffin, but saw it as his mission to make sure that Florida got its fair share of federal arts money, whether or not genuine artists or serious artistic institutions existed in the Sunshine State. And why not? Tax dollars come from taxpayers, so why shouldn't everyone get his fair demographic share?

Late in Patronizing the Arts, Professor Garber compares federal spending on the arts with current funding for science, or Big Science, as it is now sometimes called, next to which spending on the arts is of course puny. She argues that much science is artistic and art is itself becoming more scientific.

But the comparison doesn't hold up. The difference between science and art is that science is progressive, art is not; science is a collective activity, one generation building on the ones that came before, with a generally agreed upon agenda of what are the great problems that need solving. Artists don't solve problems; they work out their visions. And every artist is in business for himself and sets his own agenda. Scientists will tell you that, though Galileo, Newton, and Einstein were of course great geniuses, if they had never been born other scientists would have come along and eventually made their discoveries. But Marcel Proust, and with him all other major artists, was sui generis; no one else could have written A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.

Professor Garber is attracted to the analogy of art with science in part because so much of science is done in universities and her book's closing argument is that the best possible patron for the arts is now the contemporary university. She makes the point that, increasingly, much training in the arts is done in universities in departments of theater and acting, visual art, film and photography, music, dance, and creative writing. (When one thinks of all the would-be poets and novelists being churned out by university creative-writing programs, one begins to understand what Degas meant when he said that "we must discourage the arts.") Professor Garber argues that the arts would be good for the university, but the greater question is whether the university is good for the arts?

My sense is that it would not. Professor Garber writes that "freedom of expression, the toleration of difference, and the high value placed on originality and imagination" are all found in the university. Wonder how, in my 30 years there, I seem to have missed it, and found instead deep conformity, beginning with political correctness and extending outward into anti-Americanism and a hardy loathing for anyone not aligned with all the okay causes.

This conformity cannot be good for artists or for their arts. When one thinks of the powerful critics of the arts in the past century, the best among them--Edwin Denby in dance, Virgil Thomson in music, Clement Greenberg in visual art, Edmund Wilson in literature--almost all came from outside the university. Apart from actors and a few playwrights, most serious novelists, poets, composers, and painters did not acquire their training, or their inspiration, from the university, and fewer still found their subject matter there. The great world, not the university, will always be the ultimate training ground for artists, at least for those who wish to go beyond the academic in their ambitions.

Even with the great good luck of generous patrons, the artist is left where he has always been: attempting to master his craft, trying to narrow the gap between his talent and his ambition, alone with his mad passion, ill-rewarded if rewarded at all--a grant here, a small prize there--hoping to make a little dent in the world's great yawning indifference.

Think of his travail from time to time, and pray that your son or daughter doesn't come to you to announce that he or she wishes to be an artist.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

British senior citizen ordered to stop mowing grass because it's too tidy

Brian Hubbard has regularly cut and weeded the small patch of grass outside his three-bedroom home since he moved in four years ago. He also picks up any litter, rakes the leaves and cleans up after the council contractors have left their grass cuttings.

But he has received a letter accusing him of "encroaching" on council land and been told that he must stop tending to the grass and "return the area to its original state within 28 days" or the work would be carried out at his expense.

He said: "I like the place to be tidy and attractive and I know the council's contractors cannot do it all so I decided to help out. "I find it grossly irritating that just because I have taken pride in the area where I live and made it more attractive I have had this threatening letter. "Whoever would have thought that cultivating the grass, cutting it regularly and raking the leaves off could be described as encroachment? Do they want me to put daisies and dandelions in?

"The other day there were people smashing glass over the road. I got a broom, went over and swept it up. Is that encroachment? "This is a perfect example of an overzealous council wasting taxpayers' money. I'm going to ignore the letter and carry on."

Mr Hubbard, a former parish councillor who is retired and in his 70s, lives in the house in the Belmont area of Hereford with his wife, Mary. He received the letter from Herefordshire Council's parks, countryside and leisure development service last week. The letter, which is dated September 8, orders "the removal of garden tools and furnishings and all vegetation not in keeping with the surrounding area". It also accuses Mr Hubbard of "blocking gate way access", "undertaking maintenance" and gives him "28 days to return the area to its original state". The letter warns: "If there is still an encroachment issue with the property further action will be taken which may result in the above works being carried out at your expense."

Heather Davies, councillor for the Belmont area, said the Hubbards should be congratulated and not punished for taking pride in their local area. She said: "When I was on my way to see them the road looked a mess because the grass had been cut but the cuttings left. Mr Hubbard always picks his cuttings up. "If more people were like that the area would look really nice. We should be supporting him because it's brilliant what he does - not sending him letters like this."

Yesterday a spokesman for Herefordshire Council apologised for the tone of the letter and suggested a meeting to discuss the situation. He said: "We are aware of Mr Hubbard's endeavours to tend the land next to his home in Dorchester Way and commend him for his public spiritedness. "We apologise if he feels the letter he received from us is heavy-handed. We are happy to meet Mr Hubbard to discuss the issue." [Big backdown under the searchlight of publicity]


Muslim danger in America right now

(From Muslim critic Robert Spencer) Spencer speaking tonight at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which may no longer be in America

I got off the phone a little while ago with one of the student organizers of my address tonight at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He told me that I would be led to and from the stage via secret passageway; that thirty security personnel would be on hand (in addition to my own); that attendees would have to pass through metal detectors; and that a bomb-sniffing dog would also be on hand.

It is rather amazing to me that all this would be necessary anywhere in America today -- and all because I am saying things they don't like. MSA students have been accusing me this week of fostering an atmosphere of hate that leads to innocent Muslims being victimized. This is a preposterous charge to make to anyone who is trying to defend human rights, but it is also a noteworthy case of projection: it is they who are fostering an atmosphere of hate and thuggery, with all their lies, smears, and hysterical rhetoric, which combined with the way they and their allies have behaved at talks by previous speakers they disliked has made all this security necessary.

The Left and the MSA's on campuses all across the country are fostering a very dangerous atmosphere that is completely opposed to the classic spirit of the university. The increasingly apparent fact that all too many universities have become nasty little propaganda camps suggests that the principles of free inquiry, of honest and open discussion and dissent, and of the old adage, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," are far more endangered than most people realize.


British government retreat on "metric martyrs"

Another victory for publicity over power-mad bureaucrats

Fruit and vegetable traders who sell their produce using imperial measures will not be prosecuted, under guidelines being drawn up by the Government. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said that it was updating advice to councils to ensure that action against so-called metric martyrs was "proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest".

John Denham, the Innovation Secretary, is expected to issue his proposals within months. They will mean that traders who insist on selling goods in pounds and ounces, despite European Union laws, will not be taken to court by local authorities. It is understood that the decision was prompted by the case of Janet Devers, 64, the East London market trader who was made to pay nearly $10,000 in costs and received a criminal record this month after a prosecution brought by Hackney council. She was found guilty of using imperial weighing scales without an official stamp and of selling vegetables for one pound a bowl rather than counting them out individually.

Mr Denham, who has responsibility for weights and measures as part of his science brief, said: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences. I would like to see an end to this kind of prosecution, which is why I have asked for new guidance to be introduced."

Neil Herron, director of the Metric Martyrs campaign group, said that the decision was a "spectacular victory for people power" and dedicated the victory to Steven Thoburn, a greengrocer from Sunderland who died in 2004 at the age of 39 while fighting a conviction for selling bananas by the pound. Mr Herron said: "Finally we have a government minister with an ounce of common sense."

In 2001 Mr Thoburn became the first man to face prosecution for using scales that could not weigh in metric units. He was given a six-month conditional discharge but his case, along with three others, went to the Court of Appeal, where the convictions were upheld. He took his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, where it was rejected. He died of a heart attack three years later. Mr Thoburn's widow, Leigh, said: "This is absolutely fabulous news, but it is a tragedy that it had to come to this in the first place."

John Gardner, director of the British Weights and Measures Association, said that he "warmly welcomed" the guidance. He said: "The proper role of Trading Standards is to check whether customers are receiving what they pay for, not persecuting shopkeepers and stallholders whose only crime is selling apples in pounds and ounces, not grams and kilos."

Metric measurements were introduced in Britain in the 1970s. Under legislation that came into force on January 2000, all goods sold loose by weight are required to be sold in grams and kilograms. Traders can still display weights in imperial but a conversion must also be given.

A spokesman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said: "While individual enforcement decisions are rightly a matter for Trading Standards, we are keen to encourage action that is proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest, which is why the National Weights and Measures Laboratory is updating guidance with local authority bodies for Trading Standards officers. We are reviewing the current legislative framework with a view to making it easier for everyone to understand, business to comply with and Trading Standards officers to enforce."


"Peacenik" chimps not always so nice

Leftists have often idealized Bonobos

They're sometimes called "hippie chimps"prolific lovers, inhabitants of femaleheaded societies, relatively peaceable toward their neighbors.

Except that last part isn't always true, according to a new study that puts in dent in the "makelovenotwar" image of bonobo chimps. The study's authors say they've seen several cases of wild bonobos hunting down the young of other primate species for food.

Bonobos were thought to restrict their modest meat diet to forest antelopes, squirrels, and rodents. That had put them in stark contrast to closely related species such as chimpanzees, where males often band together to hunt and kill monkeys. Humans, too, are closely related to both chimps and bonobos.

The unexpected predatory lusts found among bonobos challenge a conventional theory that male dominance and aggression must be causally linked to hunting, said Gottfried Hohmann, one of the study's authors. It's "relevant for the discussion about male dominance and bonding, aggression and hunting," added Hohmann, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "In chimpanzees, male dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos."

Bonobos live only in the lowland forest south of the river Congo. Along with chimpanzees, they are humans' closest evolutionary relatives. Bonobos are perhaps best known for their promiscuity: sexual acts both within and between the sexes are a common means of greeting, resolving conflicts, or reconciling after conflicts.

Hohmann's team made its observations while studying a bonobo population living in LuiKotale, Salonga National Park in Congo. The researchers said they saw three cases of successful hunts in which bonobos captured and ate their primate prey, and two failed hunts. Both bonobo sexes seemed to play active roles the hunts, unlike the case with chimpanzees, according to the scientists.

The study appears in the Oct. 14 issue of the research journal Current Biology.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Green light for 'doggers': British police told to ignore homosexual couples having sex in public places

Police chiefs are being urged to turn a blind eye to some of the more extreme forms of public indecency. Guidelines circulated to senior officers encourage them to ignore 'dogging' and 'cottaging' offences unless enough members of the public complain. The draft rules issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers say prosecutions should only be considered as a last resort for fear of having an 'extreme impact' on offenders' lives. But last night family campaigners reacted angrily, insisting that the laws against public indecency were there for a good reason.

The document on 'policing public sex environments' has been sent to all forces in the UK by Michael Cunningham, deputy chief constable of Lancashire and ACPO spokesman on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 those who take part in ' dogging', where couples meet up for exhibitionist outdoor sex, and cottaging, where men meet for sex in public lavatories, face arrest for outraging public decency, voyeurism and exposure. But the guidance cautions officers against 'knee jerk' reactions. Instead police are told to concentrate on dealing with organised outdoor meetings at known hotspots - by researching sex forums on the internet - and only to prosecute as a 'last resort'.

In the report Mr Cunningham writes that current policing methods 'have adversely affected the relationship between the police and communities' and 'have discouraged users of public sex environments from reporting crime'. Where isolated complaints are made, officers are told 'it may be decided that they should take no action'.

Even where there are persistent problems they should 'inform and dissuade' users of the site before arranging for extra lighting or CCTV cameras to be installed. If that fails police can put on extra patrols, but the guidance stresses that this is only a deterrent and is 'not to detect offences'.

Arresting and prosecuting men for cottaging - some of whom may be married, and living a double life - can have a 'severe' impact on them without solving the problems, Mr Cunningham says. He added: 'The impact can be extreme and can include humiliation, breakdown of relationships and the "outing" of men living in an opposite sex relationship being perceived as "gay".' He refers to cases of 'suicide and self-harm by people who may have been arrested or come into contact with the police'.

ACPO stressed yesterday that the document was a draft being circulated for discussion among police chiefs and the proposals had not been officially adopted.

Hugh McKinney of the National Family Campaign said: 'There is a good reason that we have laws against these types of sexual behaviour in public, namely that they are deemed to be beyond what is acceptable to most reasonable people. 'Is it too much for us to expect the police to enforce the law? After all, they're the only ones who can.'

One serving police officer who patrols gay hotspots in Brighton, said: 'Frankly it seems outrageous that we are effectively being told to turn a blind eye to these sorts of activities, which can cause real distress to most right-thinking people.'


The insane British welfare state again

Families of 12 with a difference: One lives on Dad's 15,000 pound wage... their neighbours get 32,000 benefits (yet still complain)

It is a story which crystalises the dubious values encouraged by the British welfare state. While hardworking Sean and Anne Tate scrimp to afford a few little luxuries for their ten children on his 15,000 lorry driver's salary, a family of the same size two miles away take things a little easier. Harry Crompton, 50, has been out of work for 15 years and his wife Tracey, 40, has never had a job. Yet thanks to the generosity of the welfare state they receive 32,656 a year. The Cromptons have been nicknamed 'Britain's Biggest Freeloaders' by their neighbours in Hull.

Mrs Tate, 43, a stay-at-home mother, could barely believe what she was reading when she saw media coverage of the Cromptons' situation earlier this week. 'I am absolutely furious,' she said. 'The Government want shooting for allowing people to get away with scrounging like this. 'We have worked hard all our lives to provide for our kids, and when you see families like this it makes you wonder why you bother. 'But we have pride in ourselves and would never scrounge like this family. It makes me sick. Gas, water, electricity, council tax has all gone up - we don't get any help with that.'

The Tates bought their three-bedroom house from the council four years ago and built an extension with two extra bedrooms. The Cromptons, by contrast, were provided with two semis knocked together by the council at a cost of 20,000. The couple's only income from paid work is 20 pounds a week from eldest son Michael, who has a factory job. They receive a further 628 a week in income support, disability allowance, carer's allowance, child tax credit, plus 120 a week rent on their seven-bedroom house. A working parent would have to earn 46,500 a year to match their income. The only state handouts the Tates receive is child benefit - which is available to all parents regardless of how much they earn.

Life is cramped to say the least in their home in Hull's Bransholme district. Michael, 23, has moved out, but Gary, 20, Leanne, 18, Brandon, 12, Shaunnah, 11, Mercedes Rose, seven, triplets Madison Rae, Porschia Lillie and Poppie Marie, five, and Jayden, three, still live there.

Over at the Cromptons', the walls are dirty and the floor is covered in videos and magazines. Mrs Crompton says she 'doesn't have much time for cleaning'. The Tates' home and garden are immaculate. Mr Tate, 44, recently installed a new kitchen and designed and built a new marble fireplace in the living room. Mrs Tate said: 'You don't have to live like a tramp. People think you do if you have big family. Everything we have got you work hard for and look after. 'There is a lot of love in any house. In our house. because there are more of us, it goes around. 'We have a lot of fun. We always have a house-full and the children bring their friends as well.'

The Cromptons seem to be less happy with their lot. Earlier this week Mrs Crompton said she would have to be 'very well paid' to make it worth her while getting a job. She added: 'I'm not satisfied with the benefits we get - I want more.' Mr Crompton says he is unable to work due to angina and irritable bowel syndrome. The couple have children Michael, 20, Robin, 19, Matthew, 17, Sarah, 16, Samantha, 14, Harry Andrew, 12, Alex, 11, Kristian, nine, Jesse Lee, seven and Joshua, six.


Homosexual marriage issue back on the boil in Australia

Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull has carpeted one of his own backbenchers as tensions flare in the Coalition over changes to same-sex laws. In a key test of Coalition partyroom unity, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has slammed the proposed changes as "offensive". He said they would make same-sex couples "virtually identical" to conventional marriage.

Amid concerns the Liberal leader is taking the party too far to the Left, several Coalition MPs claim Mr Turnbull's support is driven by concerns about a voter backlash in his inner-Sydney seat. "Malcolm views everything through the prism of how it will play out in Wentworth," one Liberal MP said.

The proposed changes to same-sex laws are designed to ensure these couples enjoy the same financial and work-related entitlements as opposite-sex families. But a Senate committee has raised concerns over the legislative changes, which refer to children as a "product" of a relationship. This has incensed some Coalition MPs who claim the laws will undermine traditional marriage. Senator Bernardi claimed the changes suggested mothers were "little more than an incubator".

Mr Turnbull has been a long-standing advocate of gay rights -- his electorate has the largest gay population of any electorate in Australia. He spoke to Senator Bernardi after his parliamentary spray and sources claimed the talks were robust. Senator Bernardi refused to comment last night. He had claimed the draft laws would undermine traditional marriage, which had taken a "beating" during the past 30 years. "We do not expect the RSL to broaden their membership to include bohemian peaceniks, we do not ask the Country Women's Association to include men and we do not ask the National Rugby League or the AFL to include women in their teams," Senator Bernardi said. "Why is it then that we defy the same sort of logic when it comes to marriage?"

The Liberal senator said he knew he would be called a "homophobe" but other Liberal MPs also worry the Coalition is racing to back the Government's reforms before proper debate. Former Howard government minister Chris Ellison blasted the Coalition's shadow attorney-general George Brandis during a lively partyroom debate this week.


Most Australians say crime sentences are too lenient

People have been saying this for years but governments would rather hire more clerks than build more prisons. The bureaucrat below tries to spin his way out of the obvious but my own study of the matter is not suceptible to the evasions which are possible when interpreting the simple-minded survey reported below

Two thirds of NSW people surveyed on public confidence in the legal system believe criminal sentences are too lenient, a new report claims. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research's first report on public confidence in sentencing and knowledge of the legal system says 66 per cent feel sentences are either "a little lenient" or "much too lenient".

However, BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said many of the 2000 people surveyed were also misinformed or "seriously mistaken" about crime and the criminal justice system. "When we analyse the data we found that those most dissatisfied with the justice system are also the most mistaken about crime conviction and sentencing," he told reporters today.

Dr Weatherburn said the high level of dissatisfaction could not be simply dismissed as a case of "public ignorance", as some concerns might be justified. But he said the media, and particularly talkback radio and tabloid newspapers, were responsible for misconceptions. "Most of the influential sources of information about the criminal justice system is the media, that's why it's so important for the media to get the facts right," Dr Weatherburn said. "That's something which I think in my experience increasingly is not happening."

Retired Supreme Court judge John Dunford, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Sentencing Council, told reporters more needed to be done to educate people about the sentencing process and dispel the myths.

Dr Weatherburn said if people did not have faith in the system there was a risk they would take matters into their own hands. "I think it's dangerous for people to lose confidence in the justice system when there isn't sufficient ground to do so," he said. "I think that's the worry, when people start thinking the justice system is not doing its job and they start thinking they should take justice into their own hands."

The survey found 72 per cent of people are "very" or "fairly confident" the justice system respected the rights of accused persons and treated them fairly. Just over half were "confident" or "very confident" that the criminal justice system brought people to justice.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Muslim problems in France again

For 24 hours, the top story in France has not been the slumping markets or President Sarkozy's crusade to rebuild the world economy. It has been the fit of indignation, led by Sarkozy, over the fans who jeered the national anthem before the start of the match at the Stade de France on Tuesday night. (News story in today's paper). The crowd that demonstrated contempt for the Marseillaise with loud whistling were mainly youngsters from immigrant families from Tunisia and the other two former colonies Algeria and Morocco.

Their behaviour was certainly deplorable but it was also entirely expected because the same happened when France played Algeria and Morocco in 2001 and 2007. The Stade de France is in the heart of the "93", the d‚partement of Seine Saint Denis, which has some of the worst race-related problems and was home to the ethnic rioting of 2005.

The Government, the Socialist opposition, sporting bodies and almost everyone else in authority has piled in to condemn the spectators. A quick opinion poll by le Parisien found that 80 percent of the country is "shocked". Sarkozy has ordered all matches to be halted immediately if the anthem is booed. The police have been told to arrest the flag jeerers and charge them under a 2003 law that outlaws insults to national symbols. Bernard Laporte, the Sports Minister, upped the ante, saying that France should play no more games against Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in Paris until the crowds stop dishonouring national symbols.

The Communist leader was one of the few eminent politicians to break ranks with the cross-party outrage. As well as condemning the jeering, people should ask why thousands of young French people boo the national anthem, she said. "Perhaps it is because they are suffering a lot. That they have the impression that they are stigmatised although they are in France, study here and work here."

Everyone knows that the malaise of the second and third generation immigrants leads some of them to act like the fans did on Tuesday night. Sarkozy's hard line plays well to the electorate that admires his zero-tolerance policies but it just makes the kids from the banlieue estates all the more determined to vent their loathing in the stadium. It was after one such incident that Sarkozy, then Interior Minister, introduced the 2003 law on protecting the Marseillaise and the flag.

The acts of collective contempt are of course stupid and counter-productive. The fans spoiled the match (which France won 3-1) and they humiliated two Tunisian-French stars on the pitch -- Laam, the singer who performed the solo anthem and Hatem Ben Arfa, a France player whose parents came from Tunisia. Ben Arfa said that he was not upset by the hostile crowd. "I'm not really angry with them," he said. "They need to exist, you have to understand them."

We have had another example of stupid counter-productive behaviour in the '93' zone this week. Luc Besson, the movie producer, has suspended work on a film that he is shooting there with John Travolta and other stars, after local youths burnt ten vehicles that are being used on the set.


Victory! CA Appellate Court Says Excluding Men from Domestic Violence Programs is Unconstitutional

California attorney Marc Angelucci scored a tremendous victory today as the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that California's exclusion of men from domestic violence violates men's constitutional equal protection rights. The taxpayer lawsuit -- Woods. v. Shewry -- was initially filed in 2005 by four male victims of domestic violence.

In 2007, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly dismissed the case, ruling that men are not entitled to equal protection regarding domestic violence because they statistically are not similarly situated with women. Today the Court of Appeal reversed that decision and held:
The gender classifications in Health and Safety Code section 124250 and Penal Code section 13823.15, that provide state funding of domestic violence programs that offer services only to women and their children, but not to men, violate equal protection.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Marc E. Angelucci (pictured above left), said:
We've been through the daisy wheel of judicial activism on this issue. Now the courts have finally addressed the injustice, but the struggle is not over. Many taxpayer-funded programs, especially in Los Angeles, still deny men services such as counseling, advocacy, shelter or hotel vouchers, which is endangering their children.

Men pay at least half of the taxes that fund these programs and they should be entitled to services regardless of sex. I have seen the damage this does to men and kids and I will never stop fighting to end it, even if it means filing more lawsuits.
Numerous experts submitted sworn declarations supporting the plaintiffs and explaining that Domestic Violence against men is a serious but hidden problem. Children are being emotionally harmed as witnesses of the violence while their fathers are unable to get help.

Experts in the Case explained that although men report it less than women, empirical survey data consistently shows women are at least as violent as men in relationships, and that men suffer one-third of injuries.


Sarah Palin's campaigning is infused with contagious joy

I'm watching Sarah Palin address a campaign rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, live on Fox News, and I can't recall ever seeing a GOP rally like this. The crowd is genuinely pumped, which is rare enough. But what's particularly amazing is watching and listening to Gov. Palin. I can't recall ever seeing a politician who so clearly relishes campaigning. She's animated and enthused. I know she's speaking from a teleprompter, and she's probably delivered large chunks of this same speech before many times, but she's tuned in on every line.

She is simply infused with joy. And it flows off the stage, and it's picked up quite powerfully by the TV cameras.

On his best occasions, Reagan had this same quality, but it was more muted, more of a twinkle from behind his carefully maintained stage presence. With Gov. Palin, it's nearly continuous and much more obvious. And I think that's a big part of why she inspires the same harsh counter-reactions from political opponents that Reagan did - the same desperate need to ridicule and belittle, to delegitimize. (You'll see it in the comments to this post within minutes after it goes up, of course.) She has to be shouted down and scorned, because if people are allowed to listen to her, that damned joy might turn out to be ... contagious!

It's a quality that was almost entirely missing from the speeches of, for example, Hillary Clinton, who turned every speech into a siege and whose grim purpose was impressive but slightly scary. Bubba, however, could work himself into joy at the drop of a hat.

Sarah Palin is just haviing a grand old time. If she's afraid of looking foolish, or of her elitist critics, or of her ticket's chances on November 4th, then she's entirely suppressed those fears. I freely admit that with me as a listener, and probably most of the folks at this rally, she's preaching to the choir. But so, too, are lots of politicians, in most of their speeches. And they just don't come across with this same zest.



By Dr. Jack Wheeler

Historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) remarked that often, history seemed to be "just one damn thing after another." Anyone who has studied the history of cultures and nations over the last few thousand years can easily get overwhelmed by the constantly recurring episodes of mindless insanity. This is not metaphorical, nor hyperbolic. I mean bouts of literal insanity, where entire cultures and nations actually go nuts. It is not something rare. Often, it seems the norm.

We need not recount this through the millennia, but just look at our recent past. Western Civilization, the highest cultural achievement of humanity, gave birth to two horrifically murderous insanities, Nazism and Communism. Western Civilization's greatest historical enemy, Islam, has become infected with the pathology of suicidal terrorism.

Two modern insanities have infected much of the entire world. The world-wide ban on DDT is criminally insane, responsible for an on-going holocaust of malaria deaths - most of them children - of 88 million. Over 2 million will die this year. The Malaria Clock continues to tick.

The belief that human-produced carbon dioxide- a trace of a trace gas - causes global warming is simply nuts. There is no evidence for it whatsoever.

There is no experiment, there is no historical data, showing that an increase of carbon dioxide precedes an increase in warming. It's always the other way around. The only "evidence" is in GIGO (garbage in-garbage out) computer models which can't predict the weather next week.

We Americans like to believe that our country is immune to such historical insanities. We were blessed at our founding with the greatest triumph of rationality the world has ever known. The inertia of that moment, the echo of the principles of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, have propelled us to being preeminent among all nations ever to exist on earth.

But we are not immune to insanity. Anyone old enough to have experienced the 1960s is well aware of this. America yet to recover from the cultural and political destruction of the Sixties Radicals.

And so we come to the insanity of Barack Hussein Obama. Let's dispense with all the blather and get to the bottom of it: anyone with a 3-digit IQ (2 digits means mentally defective) and loves America who is even considering voting to place his country's national security and economy in this man's hands should be institutionalized. He or she is clinically crazy and a public health hazard.

Again, this is no exaggeration. This man's candidacy is insane, no ifs or buts. So the only question right now is, is this a spasm of insanity from which a majority of American voters will recover in time, or not?

If the former, then all his incredible inadequacies, all the incredible associations with hate-America racists and terrorists, all the incredible vote fraud by the Communists of ACORN, on and on and on and endlessly on, will finally register with voters who will sweep him into the dustbin of history.

If the latter, then my greatest personal fear will come true. What I fear most is that if Obama is elected, I will lose my patriotism for America. He will not be my president, I will owe no loyalty to him nor his government. I will move out of America, physically live elsewhere, where I will remain until my country regains its sanity. I will not live in a land gone mad.

To The Point is, we say, "the oasis for rational conservatives." But an oasis from what? From insanity, cultural, political, social, and economic. And what happens when the insanity becomes overwhelming? The oasis must become an insurgency.

In response to my Albania in America last week, the TTP Forum's most profligate poster, Cephran, after imbibing a six-pack of Red Bull before noon, wrote: "Americans deserve the type of government and economy that mirrors them; honest, decent and hardworking." Evidently, these Americans are now in the minority.

Maybe not. It's not over. Maybe a miracle will occur tonight (10/15) and McCain will actually kick Obama's ass like he's supposed to. Maybe the Nobama Hillary supporters at Hillbuzz are right when they say most national polls showing Obama far ahead are way overpolling Dems, and that "the internal numbers we see coming out of NC, VA, PA, OH, IN and FL show McCain wins in all of those states (there is no mathematical possibility for Obama to win without taking PA, OH, or FL)." (TTP hat tip to Forum poster "gitrdone57.")

But the very fact that Obama is the Dem candidate, that he might be elected is clear evidence of the capacity for American insanity.

Should he win, we will be denounced as traitors and all the fascist potential of the Patriot Act will be used against us. So be it. To The Point will be a rebel insurgency that will not stop fighting for a rational and free America.

The damage this man will do if elected is vast. Yet the wreckage will be cleared, and America will be sane once more. How far off that day is will be up to us.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, October 17, 2008

How 25 years of homosexual activism in Hollywood have paid off

This season, a record number of broadcast television series are featuring sympathetic homosexual characters

If you're noticing your TV screen turning pink, it's not just your imagination. The new broadcast TV season includes 22 series featuring a total of 35 openly gay characters, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). GLAAD, which rides herd over all Hollywood scripts dealing with homosexuality, says the number of series with homosexual characters is a record. These series are on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the CW networks. The total figure does not include shows on cable, like The L Word on Showtime, or MTV's all-gay LOGO network.

A new Eye on Culture report from the Culture and Media Institute, "Lavender Propaganda," reveals the depth and breadth of the current media campaign to promote homosexuality to average Americans. But Hollywood became a uniformly pro-gay industry well before Will & Grace or the slew of 2008-9 network shows.

In 1996, the year before Ellen DeGeneres "came out" as a lesbian on Ellen, Los Angeles magazine writer David Ehrenstein boasted in a May cover story, "More than Friends": "There are openly gay writers on almost every major prime-time situation comedy you can think of . In short, when it comes to sitcoms, gays rule."

Here is an excerpt from my book The Age of Consent: The Rise of Relativism and the Corruption of Popular Culture about the gay influence on TV:

"Ehrenstein, a professed homosexual, cheerfully admits that gay writers are attempting to influence viewers with a homosexual agenda: `The gay and lesbian writers of today have been pushing the envelope any chance they get. In fact, they're encouraged to do so. Since current comedies are positively obsessed with the intimate sex lives of straight young singles, who better to write them than members of a minority famed for its sexual candor . as a result of the influx of gay writers, even the most heterosexual of sitcoms often possess that most elusive of undertones - the "gay sensibility"-`Frasier' being a case in point.' "The `gay sensibility consists, according to two homosexual writers, of `a very urban, very educated, ironic, detached, iconoclastic attitude.' Plus, a deliberate overdose of sexuality."

In her 1989 book Target: Primetime: Advocacy Groups and the Struggle over Entertainment Television, Kathryn Montgomery explains why homosexual activists have been particularly effective in Hollywood: "Gays had one important advantage over other groups. They referred to it as their `agents in place.' According to gay activists, there were a substantial number of gay people working in the television industry who were not open about their life-style. Some held high-level positions. While unable to promote the gay cause on the inside, they could be very helpful to advocates on the outside, especially by leaking information. These `agents in place' became one of the linchpins of gay media strategy."

In January 1973, Ron Gold, the New York-based Gay Activist Alliance's Media Director, wrote to all three networks, requesting meetings. Gold, who had been a reporter for Variety, also helped stage a hostile confrontation at ABC that was strikingly similar to the strong-arm tactics employed at the American Psychiatric Association convention in 1971, when gay activists openly threatened psychiatrists who viewed homosexuality as a treatable disorder.

As Montgomery reports: "Before a meeting had been scheduled with ABC, GAA members were smuggled a script by one of their agents in place. It was for an upcoming episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., entitled `The Other Martin Loring' and it concerned a married man who asked Dr. Welby to help him with his homosexual tendencies. Welby assured the man that as long as he suppressed his homosexual desires, he would not fail as a husband and father.

"As Gold remembers, GAA leaders `blew a cork' when they read the script. ..Instead of waiting for an appointment with ABC executives, the activists - with the help of another network insider - `took over' the network executive offices. Recalls Gold: `We knew somebody who worked there who gave us a kind of place of the place and we did a little scouting in advance and we managed to sneak into the offices. The confrontation at ABC headquarters was hostile and explosive."

It ended with the arrests of several activists. Montgomery notes that although the program in question still aired, "it did have an impact on later decisions..ABC executives decided to invite gay activist comments on any new scripts dealing with homosexuality. Since gays had their own ways of getting scripts anyway, this approach was even more essential than with other groups."

The other networks soon followed, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation now routinely vets all TV scripts dealing with homosexuality to make sure that the public sees only what the activists want. That means, among other things, no programs showing "ex-gays," people who have overcome homosexual temptations, unless it is to mock them. Montgomery summarizes: "In time, the gay activists gained a reputation within the industry as the most sophisticated and successful advocacy group operating in network television."

The stakes go far beyond television. A September 2008 fundraising mailer from GLAAD proclaims: "History proves that social change drives legal and political progress. To succeed as a community, we must transform the way millions of Americans feel about us."

With a record number of homosexual characters on television, and only pro-gay story lines, it's not surprising that polls show that Americans are becoming increasingly accepting of homosexuality. The activists are well on their way toward their goal of recasting traditional sexual morality as a form of bigotry. The next step will be to bring government muscle down on traditionalists - just like they're doing right now in Canada and Europe.


The Rage That's Not On Your Front Page

by Michelle Malkin

When a few unruly McCain-Palin supporters show their anger at campaign rallies, it's national news. It's an epidemic of "Weimar-like rage" and "violent escalation of rhetoric," according to New York Times columnist Frank Rich. It's the "re-emergence of the far right as a power in American politics," according to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. It's a mass movement of GOP crowds "gripped by insane rage," according to newly minted Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.

Too bad they don't give out global awards for the Blindest Eyes in Punditocracy. We've just hit a trifecta.

Are a few activists on the right getting out of hand? Probably. Between massive ACORN voter fraud, Bill Ayers' and Jeremiah Wright's unrepentant hatred of America, and John McCain's inability to nail Barack Obama on his longtime alliances with all of the above, conservatives have plenty to shout about these days.

But a couple of random catcallers do not a mob make. And there's an overflowing abundance of electoral rage on the left that won't make it onto your newspaper's front page.

Last month on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a small, brave contingent of McCain supporters marched through the streets with campaign signs. They were met by a menacing horde of New Yorkers who displayed their disapproval with a barrage of jeers and vulgar gestures. ("The number of middle fingers in the 'progressive crowd' is directly proportional to the number of Ph.D. degrees in the 10-block radius," one of the witnesses wryly observed.) A YouTube video of the confrontation now has nearly half a million views (www.youtube.com and search "Pro-McCain March in Manhattan"). But don't expect to find it on the nightly news. It doesn't fit the Angry Right narrative.

Neither does the near-riotous reaction of Obama supporters to a McCain-Palin sign in Democrat-dominated Prince George's County, Md. Buried in a back local section, The Washington Post reported this week that "pandemonium" broke loose when an unsuspecting businessman erected a "Country First. McCain/Palin." message on the marquee at his Colony South Hotel & Conference Center.

"Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a common venue for Democratic events," the little-noticed article reported. A black professor called the sign "a stink bomb in the middle of the living room" of Obama land. The poor hotel manager, Alan Vahabzadeh, surrendered. "I didn't even realize it was going to be like this."

Can't blame him for missing the fiery hint from Portland, Ore. -- where two deranged vandals were arrested after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a McCain yard sign in the middle of the night. Nope, that didn't make it into the columns of Rich, Dionne or Krugman. Doesn't fit the Angry Right narrative.

Speaking of "violent escalation of rhetoric" you never hear about: Obama supporters in Philadelphia sported "Sarah Palin is a [disgusting vulgarism referring to female genitalia]" T-shirts and yelled, "Let's stone her, old school" over the weekend.

An Internet artist has designated Palin an "M.I.L.P." -- "Mother I'd Like to Punch" -- and published a drawing of a man's fist knocking a tooth out of the Alaska governor's mouth and the glasses off her face.

"ABORT Palin" graffiti has sprouted on the sidewalks of Seattle, and "Abort Sarah Palin" bumper stickers are spreading in Web stores.

-- Palin-bashing Madonna performs before an audience of thousands, screeching and threatening to "kick her a**."

-- Getty Images publishes a photo of a man pointing a fake gun at the head of a cardboard cutout of Palin on display at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition building.

And no one blinks. Not a peep from the Obamedia. But when Palin simply spotlights Obama's longtime relationship with Weather Underground terrorist Bill "We Didn't Do Enough" Ayers? "Inciting violence," frets NBC reporter Ron Allen. "Concerned for Sen. Obama's safety," agonizes ABC reporter Terry Moran. "Beyond the pale," cries Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. As if the no-holds-barred Obama campaign has ever had a rhetorical pale to stake.

All the world's a Kabuki stage for the selectively outraged over rage.


The reaction to Sarah Palin reveals feminists for the nasty, intolerant, hate-filled bitches that they are

Judging by the opinion polls this week, the Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, probably will not get to be the US vice-president. But in her brief starring role on the global stage she has been a powerful psychic enema, flushing out the poison at the heart of establishment feminism for all to see. No more sheathed claws or pretence about "tolerance" and "diversity". From Madonna to Sandra Bernhard, Pamela Anderson, Naomi Wolf, Lindsay Lohan and Kathy Lette, a certain type of influential progressive woman has been driven to insane rage by Palin's very existence.

Bernhard, a comedian in America, reportedly said Palin would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" if she entered Manhattan, a comment she later denied making. In a deranged concert performance posted on YouTube, Bernhard calls Palin a "turncoat bitch [and] Uncle Woman . who jumps out of the shed and points her fingers at other women . You whore in your cheap f--king . cheap-ass plastic glasses and your hair all up. [You'll get] a bikini-waxed fresh Jewish t--t in your face".

Lette, the Australian expatriate author, described her as "very, very dangerous. There's something wrong with her . She's a post-feminist - she's kept her Wonderbra and burnt her brain."

The violent sexual language used against Palin would be intolerable, possibly criminal, from a man. Yet these women think nothing of describing the 44-year-old mother of five as a MILP: "A Mother I'd Like To Punch".

From the moment Palin emerged, the effect on some women has been like this, from an editor of online feminist magazine Jezebel: "My head almost exploded from the incandescent anger boiling in my skull. Many friends . said things like . 'This feminist wants to murk that idiotic c--t.' "

Not that Palin is a favourite of males of the left-leaning entertainment establishment, with Matt Damon last week damning her as a "scary thing". But the intemperate reaction by women to Palin flags something beside ideological differences - a weird, visceral rage, with its roots in some entrenched psychic pain. There is an echo of bitchy high-school jealousy of the popular queen bee from the snarling, self-mutilating nerd and goths who vainly lusted after the cute boys she snared.

The consolation for the losers is that homecoming queens are meant to get married, get pregnant, get fat and lose their looks so the self-made strugglers such as Bernhard and Madonna can patronise them at school reunions. Palin, by having it all, has cheated. Not only was she Miss Wasilla 1984, but she married her childhood sweetheart, Todd Palin, kept her figure, had five attractive, seemingly well-adjusted children and was successful in her career.

If she made any sacrifices or compromises they were not apparent. And she had won the marriage jackpot: a hunky house-husband who is able to take a back seat without losing his cojones. She juggled home and family, even breast-feeding in the office, without any angst, middle-class welfare, or even bags under her eyes. How did that work?

Instead of lauding the aspirational quality of Palin's achievements, establishment feminists despised her for showing up their inadequacies. There is much more than high school angst to Palin hatred. Her ideology is 180 degrees wrong - evangelical Christian, hunting, oil-drilling and, most important of all, anti-abortion. There is even a bumper sticker, "Abort Sarah Palin", and no diatribe against her fails to mention abortion.

Abortion is the emotional peg on which Palin-haters hang their hatreds and justify their intemperance. The touchstone issue which makes both sides hyperventilate has become such a bedrock article of faith for establishment feminists that they question it as little as their born-again Christian nemeses question the existence of God. Even in light of medical advances in foetal surgery, premature baby medical care and prenatal imaging, it is unthinkable that progressive women would rethink abortion, even late-term abortion. For them "choice" is not about choice at all, which is why Palin is such a threat.


John Lewis's Race Grenade

A former civil-rights leader fans racial tensions.

Georgia Democrat John Lewis was a brave civil-rights leader, but that doesn't give him moral license to fan racial tensions today. Yet that's precisely what he did on Saturday by suggesting that John McCain and Sarah Palin were inciting violence a la segregationist George Wallace.

By raising questions about Barack Obama's relationship with terror-bomber William Ayers, the Republicans are "sowing the seeds of hatred and division," Mr. Lewis said. "During another period, in the not-too-distant past, there was a governor of a state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their Constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."

Mr. Lewis's over-the-top analogy is nastier by far than anything the GOP nominees have said during this campaign. In any case, Mr. Ayers is white. The angry shouts last week at a couple of McCain-Palin rallies were ugly, but Mr. McCain earned boos himself by correcting supporters about Mr. Obama's ethnicity and calling him an honorable man. The Arizona Senator has also declined to make an issue of Mr. Obama's 20-year association with radical black preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright, though that association is also about Mr. Obama's honesty, not race.

Mr. Lewis later tried to clarify what he called "misinterpretations" of his statement and that he never meant to compare the GOP candidates to Wallace, but the damage was done. Because of his civil-rights record, Mr. Lewis gets a pass from the media and his fellow politicians even when he makes incendiary comments. But with remarks like those on Saturday, he deserves to be seen less as a racial healer and more like any other politician who uses race as a sword.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Ethics and Sarah Palin

As I read about the report on Governor Palin's alleged violation of ethics laws and rules, I started getting the strangest sense of deja vu -- that I had read pretty much the same story, but with somewhat different details. And that I had read it more than once. Here was the story of someone with a stated agenda of reform getting tripped up by their political foes over a technical violation of ethics rules, being roundly denounced as corrupt and venial and selfish far and wide. And it had played out before. But I could not remember where.

Then I heard a news account on the world credit crisis, and they mentioned the World Bank. That triggered it: Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz had left the Bush Administration to head up the World Bank, but was forced out after it came out that he had authorized a significant raise for his paramour, a longtime World Bank Employee.

Wolfowitz had his defense ready -- before he accepted the position, he had fully disclosed their relationship to the directors. Further, he put in steps to make sure that she would not come under his direct authority, and isolated himself from any part in her career. Until it came time for her annual raises. All the underlings passed the buck upstream until it reached his desk, saying that her position had risen to the point where no one short of the head of the bank -- Wolfowitz himself -- had to sign off on the matter. He consulted the ethics board, and they punted the issue back in his lap. So he signed off on it without comment. Then they had him. Someone else within the bank filed an ethics complaint over Wolfowitz giving his girlfriend a healthy raise, and that was that. Wolfowitz was out.

And, oddly, I was reminded -- tangentially -- of former Representative Tom DeLay. DeLay had the misfortune of crossing the path of a very enthusiastic prosecutor in Texas with a history of going after his political rivals and opponents. This prosecutor was convinced that DeLay was corrupt, and started investigating. He thought he had found some fundraising irregularities in DeLay's campaign, so he brought the matter to a grand jury. They refused to indict DeLay.

So he waited for a new grand jury, and tried for another indictment. This time he got it, but there was one slight problem: the deeds that DeLay was charged with had occurred the year before the law banning them was passed. In brief, the prosecutor had charged DeLay with breaking a law before it was a law -- and that is a violation of the United States Constitution. The indictment was dismissed.

But the third time is the charm, it sees. The prosecutor took his digging to a third grand jury, won a second indictment against DeLay, and finally won his conviction. Now, I'm not saying that DeLay was any kind of a saint. Indeed, it's long been a belief of mine that when it comes to members of Congress, the presumption should be "guilty until proven innocent," and I never had any great respect or affection for DeLay. But when a prosecutor has to go to these great lengths -- one grand jury refused to indict, and a second that has to violate the Constitution to hand up its indictment -- I'm convinced that it's more likely of a prosecutor with a vendetta than a flagrantly corrupt politician. And that, to me, is far more dangerous than a pol who takes some money than he should.

But back to Sarah Palin. What exactly does that report say, and what does it mean? First off, it's not any official, final report. It's just the report of the investigator to the legislative committee that hired him. Second, the two conclusions come across as somewhat contradictory:

* Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides: The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

*Although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.

So, Palin had the "proper and lawful" authority to fire Monegan, because she "likely" had his refusal to fire Trooper Wooten as part of her motive, she violated the law which said that public officials must not act in any manner where they might have a personal interest.

That law is so poorly crafted as to be essentially useless. If applied literally, then Palin has violated it countless times. Her husband works for an oil company. Therefore, every single time she has dealt officially with oil companies, she has violated it. He also works as a commercial fisherman. Therefore Palin should have nothing to do with any sort of laws governing the fishing industry. Her teenage daughter is pregnant. Therefore she cannot act on any law helping pregnant teens. Three of her children attend public schools. Therefore she must recuse herself from any matters dealing with education. Her youngest child has Down Syndrome. She has to avoid any issue that deals with children with special needs.

What's more entertaining is to take the same standard and apply it to her current rivals. Of course, Alaskan laws have no legal standing on the actions of Senators from Illinois and Delaware, but it's a fun little exercise.

Barack Obama steered a one-million-dollar earmark to his wife's employer, shortly after she received a raise that more than doubled her salary. And Joe Biden voted in favor of several companies after they had hired his son to lobby on their behalf. Were they Alaskan officials, those would be open-and-shut cases of ethics violations.

But let's get serious once again. Palin's failing here is not in trying to get Wooten fired, but in not stopping members of her family from doing that. In brief, Palin is being held responsible for her husband's pursuing Wooten's dismissal.

First, is that such a bad thing? Wooten, it is clear, is a bad cop. The Alaskan state police investigated the allegations made by Palin's family and upheld most of them. He was found to have violated numerous laws and regulations, laws he was charged with upholding -- and was given a slap on the wrist for them. Wooten drank while on duty, in his cruiser. He shot a moose without a license. He used his taser on his 10-year-old stepson. And he threatened to kill his father-in-law if he helped Wooten's wife get a lawyer for a divorce Any one of these would get an average person arrested and fined, if not jailed. Instead, Wooten's superiors gave him a ten-day suspension from his job. And when his union protested, it was reduced to five days.

This is the situation Todd Palin found himself in. Here was a man who was threatening to kill Palin's sister-in-law and father-in-law, who had used a taser on Palin's nephew in front of Palin's daughter. And not only was he allowed to stay on the job as a law enforcement officer, but as his wife became governor, that very same agency was charged with protecting the physical safety of his wife and their immediate family. In those circumstances, what sort of person would not pursue every legal option to protect his family? Apparently, the kind of person who has the great misfortune to be married to an elected official.

As far as I can tell, once she became governor, Sarah Palin should have sat down with her husband and said "now, honey, I know this guy's a bad guy, I know he's abused our nephew, I know he's threatened to kill my dad and my sister, I know he's driven drunk in his cruiser and broken hunting laws, I know he's unstable enough to have racked up four marriages and divorces before he's 40, but I'm the governor now. That means that we have to give up a lot of our legal rights and expectations. I'm now in charge of the state police, and that means that you can't do anything at all -- not even the things that every other citizen of the state can do -- that might be perceived as benefiting me in any way. And that includes protecting my family from this nutcase. We just have to live with the fact that we're going to be surrounded by armed men who very well could be buddies of this psycho, and just hope for the best."

That, in a nutshell, is nuts. That, in a nutshell, is what the report of this investigator (an old buddy of Monegan's) says. And that, in a word, is bullshit.

The report clearly states that Sarah Palin's ethical lapse was in not preventing her husband from exercising his legal rights in seeking redress, for not pursuing legal remedies against an individual who had not only threatened, but actually harmed Todd Palin's family, and had been given less than a slap on the wrist for his misconduct. Under any reasonable circumstances, the report would be seen as an exoneration of Sarah Palin. Unfortunately, we're not in any reasonable circumstances. We're in the middle of a presidential campaign.


ABC TV Denies Second Pro-Life Ad After Rejecting Obama Abortion Expose'

After rejecting a radio commercial exposing Barack Obama's pro-abortion position, the ABC network has rejected a second ad. This one, sponsored by the Caring Outreach, has nothing to do with politics but is a 30-second television ad that features information on fetal development. The group put together an ad entitled 85 Days that depicts intrauterine photos of an unborn baby in the first months of life. The group tells LifeNews.com that the ad was slated to air on the Oprah program this month, but it has yet to appear during the program.

Jean Synovic, a representative of the Caring Outreach, tells LifeNews.com that ABC, without citing any scientific or medical sources, claimed that the images used in the commercial were not that of an unborn child at 85 days gestation, as the ad states. Synovic says her group directed ABC officials to medical documentation that verifies the accuracy of the images and informed the network that the ad was aired on three other ABC affiliates in Wisconsin and Maine.

"The ad was rejected by the Vice President, Law and Regulation for ABC, Inc. in New York," she explained. "The decision to pull the ad was made, even though the same commercial has been airing for months on ABC affiliates in other markets."

Synovic says her group has requested a fairness check to make sure that the "accuracy" of those commercials meet the same standards to which ABC holds other commercials. If the analysis comes back in the group's favor, she says the group will consider suing the network.

However, Synovic says ABC is making that process difficult. "ABC has refused to supply approved commercials running within the Oprah program so that a fairness check can be conducted to see if a different standard is being applied to keep this pro-life commercial off the air," she said.

LifeNews.com contacted ABC for comment and has yet to receive a response.


Australia: A Charter of Rights that is a blow to democracy

IT HAD to happen. Sooner or later, the Victorian Charter of Rights would be revealed as the weapon of first resort for those opposed to laws duly enacted by the elected representatives of the Victorian people.

Having so far lost the democratic debate over the Abortion Law Reform Bill which passed through the Victorian Upper House on Friday, Catholic Health Australia has signaled its intent to head off to the courts to overturn Parliament's decision. The CHA claims that the law breaches the human rights of doctors who are conscientiously opposed to abortion by requiring them to refer women elsewhere.

Whatever your views about abortion, there is a much larger issue at stake. Since its introduction in 2006, this is the first - but it will by no means be the last time - that the Charter of Rights will be used by litigants who ask unelected judges to overturn the democratic decisions of Victorians.

Abortion is an emotive issue on both sides of the divide. Last week, thousands of people rallied outside the state's Parliament to oppose Victoria's new abortion laws which removes abortion from the Crimes Act and allows women to abort their babies up to 24 weeks during their gestation. And there are many reasons for objecting to the new laws. Former Treasurer, Peter Costello told The Australian a few weeks back that making abortion legal as a matter of course up to 24 weeks - given that many babies born at less than 24 weeks survive to live healthy lives - will mean that "in one part of a hospital babies will be in humicribs being kept alive and in some other part it will be legal to be aborting them."

Doctors have also expressed their alarm. In an open letter to upper house MPs, IVF pioneer John Leeton, psychiatrist David Clarke and bionic ear inventor, Graeme Clark, have called for a panel to decide late-term abortions and for the cut-off time to be reduced from 24 weeks to 20 weeks gestation. Supported by the Australian Medical Association, the three doctors also say that the new abortion law forces doctors to act against their conscience by demanding that doctors opposed to abortion refer women to other doctors.

These same concerns over conscience were raised by Catholic Health Australia. Writing in the Herald Sun, Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, objected to the same anti-conscience provision. It is indeed an odd situation where MPs are given the right to vote according to their conscience on abortion but doctors who are conscientiously opposed to abortion are required to refer women to doctors with no such objections.

But whatever your views on the abortion laws, the vexed issue has so far been settled democratically. There is a third and final vote but if the bill passes into law unamended then the people have finally spoken. And that is as it should be. However, the debate has also exposed the Achilles heel of Victorian democracy. Having lobbied MPs - and lost - Catholic Health Australia can have another shot at killing off this law - via the courts. As Laverty says, section 14 of the Victorian Charter of Rights protects every Victorian's "right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief" and says that a "person must not be coerced or restrained in a way that limits his or her freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching." And CHA has signaled its intent to use the Charter to strike down those sections of the abortion law which offend Catholic beliefs.

Few should be surprised. The Charter sits there as a hyper-law, ready to be activated by litigants unhappy with democratically enacted laws. Perhaps Victorians understood that the Charter would be used to second-guess decisions of their Parliament. If so, they will have no problem with Victoria's new democratic deficit which gives unelected judges the final say on controversial social issues.

More likely, Victorians were misled by Charter advocates who have long denied the Charter would transfer of power from the legislature to the state's courts. That now stands exposed as a blatant and deliberate deceit. That transfer of power to courts is the real purpose of the Charter of Rights. While those who have championed the Charter - sections of the judiciary, the law associations and human rights activists - have long expressed disdain for the ability of Australia's democracy to deal with human rights abuses, their motivations are not always pure.

As alluring as it is to hear smart men and women promote the protection of our human rights, it always pays to follow the power, the money and the winners. Judges who support a charter of rights are also supporting the wholesale transfer of power to make laws to them.

As US academic, Jason Pierce, has demonstrated in his ground-breaking interviews with senior members of the judiciary, many judges think politicians are too stupid to be left to decide important issues. Depicting themselves as guardians of the greater good, they see a charter as the perfect mechanism for them to legislate their preferred social agendas from the bench. Great if you share their views. But a lousy deal for those of us who don't and prefer that contentious social issues be settled by a democratic institutions.

Lawyers love charters of rights for one simple reason. Money. While you won't find mention of a human right to income anywhere in the Victorian Charter, it's there in the subtext. As one senior prosecutor told The Sunday Age earlier this year, Charter litigation will flood the courts and provide many defence lawyers with "a lifelong right to an income that they probably don't deserve."

And that brings us to the Charter's other winners. Those behind bars love a Charter of Rights. Former NSW premier Bob Carr has canvassed the growing body of perverse rulings in the United Kingdom. Heroin-addicted prisoners have claimed thousands of dollars in compensation by claiming that cutting short their drug rehabilitation treatment was a breach of their human rights. Police refused to remove gypsies who illegally occupied the private property of a factory owner for fear of breaching their human rights. And on it goes.

Charters are championed most passionately by those on the Left side of politics. It's no coincidence. They would prefer the easy task of finding a sympathetic judge ready to implement their progressive agendas from the bench rather than doing battle with tedious democratic processes and the common sense of the people.

But how sweet is this? Conservatives in the Catholic Church may be the first to use the Charter to bypass democracy and challenge the abortion laws so dear to the progressive agenda. This is exactly why Young Labor delegates voted against a charter of rights at their annual conference in June.

They were concerned about a charter being used by conservatives claiming a right to property overturning environmental laws. Or the right to life being used to undermine abortion. How prescient of the Young Labor men and women if the CHA uses the right to freedom of belief in the Victorian Charter to challenge the new abortion laws.

While I'm firmly in the camp that regards the new Victorian abortion laws as abhorrent because they legalise the killing of a baby that could survive outside the mother's womb, the Victorian Charter is nearly as bad. It kills democracy.


Stupid porn laws in Australia

You can be charged if just one image on your computer APPEARS to be of a young person. No proof of age needed and any cop can make that judgment. And a jury cannot decide for itself

A PROMINENT Townsville businessman has been cleared of a charge of possessing child pornography. "I'm angry, but I'm also frustrated because I really just don't know who to be angry with," John Dooley, a car dealer, said last night. Mr Dooley's three-year legal nightmare ended in the District Court yesterday. Crown prosecutor Nigel Rees advised Judge Bob Pack that the Crown would not proceed with a charge that Mr Dooley had knowingly had child pornography images on his computer.

Mr Dooley has always insisted he is innocent. When first advised of the charge in July 2005, he told the investigating officer `I'm not a sick bastard'. He echoed the same sentiment yesterday, when he told the Townsville Bulletin `I'd rather have cancer than look at, or have people think I look at, child pornography'.

The whole sorry saga, which Mr Dooley estimates has cost him `tens of thousands of dollars, possibly up to $80,000', and which he will never be able to recover, is a frightening cautionary tale of this technological age. The charge arose when Mr Dooley sent his computer in to be repaired in 2005. Computer repair companies are obligated to inform police if they find any pornography involving people who look under 16, and technicians looking at Mr Dooley's hard drive reported one suspicious image.

Police obtained a copy of the suspect material and eventually decided to charge the high-profile car industry businessman with knowingly possessing five child exploitation images. But to this day, Mr Dooley insists he still has not seen the images at the root of his turbulent three and half years. "It was explained to me that the person in the image need only `appear' to be underage," Mr Dooley said. "But throughout the committal, and if this matter had gone to trial, the jury only had to decide if I possessed the images, they would not even see the images, because it would not be their role, or the committing magistrate's, to make a judgement about the age of the people in the pictures."

Mr Dooley said he had the images described to him `one was apparently taken at a nudist camp, and there was some hazy images of children in the background', but he refused to look at them because there was no point. And he said he knew they weren't his and he'd never seen them. "I knew very little about computers back then, and I mainly used it to download music, up to 6000 to 7000 tracks," he said. "I have never visited any porn sites on that computer, let alone downloaded anything from them."

"It appears that the material that the police were interested in could have been downloaded with some of the music from share sites. I found some fighting footage and some mainly soft porn attached to the occasional download, but never anything that remotely appeared to be child pornography," he told the Townsville Bulletin. Mr Dooley said `about 10 or 12 people' had access to the computer, and the password was no secret in his household.

Mr Dooley, who had spent thousands of dollars rearranging his business situation because of the publicity, said if there was an upside to it all, it was the truth in the comment from a police officer that `this will show you who your friends really are'. He said his family had stuck with him throughout the whole matter, accepting his assurance at the outset that he had not had anything to with child pornography.

He had special praise for his legal team, led by local lawyer Anderson Telford. "Anderson never wavered and it's now been proved he gave me the best advice, particularly not to accept any deals, anything else than a nolle prosequi (dropping of the charge). Through all this, he became as much a friend as he was a professional legal adviser," he said.

Mr Dooley is philosophical and appears to take an overall view about laws that he supports and believes are necessary. If he is resigned to accepting his expensive victimhood, he urges caution on those who download material much as he did, or suffer the accidental consequences. "Just be very careful, because the technicians, the police and the courts are just doing their jobs. I'm not angry with them, but there must surely be some better or more just yardstick before things go as far as they did with me". "I'm simply a victim of a law that is, sadly, necessary to protect our kids."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More judicial tyranny: CT courts overturn state law to recognize homosexual marriage

In Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, over the protests of three members of the court (as expressed in three dissenting opinions), a four-member majority of the Connecticut Supreme Court has overturned as "unconstitutional" a statutory system whose long-standing components were passed by Connecticut's lawmakers and signed into law by its governors over many years, and has instead decreed that henceforth in Connecticut, "same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry." Here's the majority's own summary of its reasoning:
We conclude that, in light of the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm. We also conclude that (1) our state scheme discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, (2) for the same reasons that classifications predicated on gender are considered quasi-suspect for purposes of the equal protection provisions of the United States constitution, sexual orientation constitutes a quasi-suspect classification for purposes of the equal protection provisions of the state constitution, and, therefore, our statutes discriminating against gay persons are subject to heightened or intermediate judicial scrutiny, and (3) the state has failed to provide sufficient justification for excluding same sex couples from the institution of marriage.
Because the court relied upon its interpretation of the equal protection provision in the Connecticut state constitution rather than upon the comparable provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, there is effectively no chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will review today's decision. That decision is now the law of Connecticut, subject only to being overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court itself or by an amendment to the state constitution.

The judges who made up the majority in this ruling are precisely the kinds of judges whom Barack Obama and Joe Biden want to appoint the the federal bench. That's why Obama and Biden voted against confirmation of both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. Instead, they want judges who will make law from the bench - and especially laws on the most controversial subjects (like gay marriage) that couldn't possibly gather a majority vote in Congress and a presidential signature. It's worse than meaningless, but rather a complete fraud, for Obama and Biden to tell voters that they oppose gay marriage when they will appoint judges who will bring about gay marriage by judicial decree.

This decision will alarm and dismay two partially overlapping groups of people: (a) those who believe that recognition of single-sex marriage will ultimately destroy the traditional institution of marriage and foster other bad effects in society, and (b) those who decry unrestrained judicial activism as a tyrannical seizure of political power by rogue judges in a manner that undercuts the legislative and executive branches of government, thereby rendering impotent the political decisions made by democratic majorities.

Personally, although I understand and respect the views of those in the first group, I count myself only among the membership of the second. I think that government is much to blame for the often-tragic status of the traditional family in today's America, and there is much I would do to change those policies to promote stronger families. Were I a state legislator or governor, I would not cast my voe to deny gay couples the right to marry. But no combination of a state legislature and governor in America has yet agreed with that position.

Rather, the consistent decisions of those branches of state governments - which are regularly and directly elected by majorities of the voting public in their respective states - has been to adhere to the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. And although I ultimately find them less persuasive, there are legitimate arguments to be made for that position that are not based on revulsion toward homosexuality or a desire to penalize homosexuals. I therefore would not demonize or seek to de-legitimize those who disagree with me on this issue. And I would continue to try to work toward obtaining majority support for what I believe to be pro-family changes in the law, and to persuade the majority to the view that pro-family isn't necessarily anti-gay.

But I'm very definitely a member of the second group: As a matter of constitutional law and basic principles of civil government, this is another well-intentioned but awful decision - one that may, ironically, end up frustrating rather than advancing the ultimate goal of its proponents. Using courts to cram this sort of policy down people's throats - without majority support, and in fact in defiance of majority opinion - is a very bad plan.

Those who follow, or much care about, the constitutional law here will quickly note that the Connecticut Supreme Court has played fast and loose with its equal protection clause. In equal protection analysis, the outcome is almost always determined by the framework in which the courts choose to analyze a government classification. If the government is classifying people on the basis of race, for example, long-standing precedent from both federal and state courts typically use a "strict scrutiny" approach, under which the government must offer up a "compelling purpose" to support its decision to treat people differently from one another because of their respective races.

Classifications based on other distinctions, however, traditionally were treated as valid so long as they have a "rational basis" - a vastly easier standard to satisfy. The state discriminates, for example, against the sightless when it requires people who get drivers licenses to pass a vision test. But because sightedness - unlike, for example, race - is not a classification that has traditionally been subjected to "strict scrutiny" analysis under the constitutional precedents interpreting state or federal equal protection guarantees, the state merely need show a rational reason for treating the sightless differently. They meet that requirement by showing that people who can't meet the vision requirements are more dangerous drivers. And as for whether someone with an uncorrected vision of 20/100 is or is not permitted to drive without corrective lenses, that sort of fine calibration of the state's classification system the courts generally leave to a combination of state legislatures and state agencies, upholding their decisions unless they are so genuinely arbitrary as to have no correlation to reality.

In same-sex marriage cases, therefore, the constitutional equal-protection decision often is compelled by the initial question: What kind of scrutiny will the courts apply to the state decision to deny marriage to same-sex couples? If that decision is subject to an ordinary level of scrutiny, then the state may meet the "rational relationship" test merely by asserting its belief, whether correct or not, that traditional marriages promote societal interests like child-rearing - and the courts won't further second-guess that assertion.

The Connecticut Supreme Court today, however, decided that the decision to deny the right to marry to same-sex couples ought to be judged by a an intermediate standard, a "heightened-scrutiny" analysis like that sometimes (but not consistently) used by the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving gender discrimination. Many law review articles - containing hundreds of case citations and millions of words of argument - have been, and will continue to be, written on whether this is a legitimate approach as a matter of constitutional law.

Ultimately, however, the decision to apply this standard, and the results reached once a court decides to use it, has no greater constitutional legitimacy than the individual judges' own personal views on any given policy question. It boils down to saying, "On really controversial subjects that provoke the greatest passion among the voters, we judges are going to declare ourselves smarter and wiser than the legislature and the executive whom the voters have elected, and our decisions trump all of theirs." And thus is your democratic vote - and those of your representatives in the state and federal legislative and executive branches - cheapened, even eviscerated, by judicial tyrants.


British legislators demand non-party vote on spanking ban

A new attempt to ban smacking will be launched tomorrow by a cross-party group of MPs, as more than 100 Labour backbenchers demand a free vote on the issue. MPs, led by Kevin Barron, the Labour chairman of the all-party Commons Health Committee, are attempting to stop parents from smacking their children as a "reasonable punishment". They will table amendments to the Children and Young Persons Bill, due to be debated by the Commons tomorrow, to give children the same protection against assault as adults.

Campaigners said that 111 Labour MPs had signed a private letter demanding a free vote on smacking, with some backbenchers warning they are prepared to defy Government whips if ministers do not back down.

The last attempt to impose a full ban on smacking was defeated in 2004 when a compromise was agreed, tightening the law by outlawing punishment which left physical marks or caused mental harm. But campaigners say they want action to give children protection against all physical punishment.

Mr Barron said: "We must act now to end the legal approval of hitting children. It is the responsibility of Parliament to ensure that the physical integrity and human dignity of every person is respected. The current law allowing so-called 'reasonable punishment' of children is unjust, unsafe and unclear, and must be abolished once and for all."


Destroying Liberty

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." The freedom of individuals from compulsion or coercion never was, and is not now, the normal state of human affairs. The normal state for the ordinary person is tyranny, arbitrary control and abuse mainly by their own government. While imperfect in its execution, the founders of our nation sought to make an exception to this ugly part of mankind's history. Unfortunately, at the urging of the American people, we are unwittingly in the process of returning to mankind's normal state of affairs.

Americans demand that Congress spend trillions of dollars on farm subsidies, business bailouts, education subsidies, Social Security, Medicare and prescription drugs and other elements of a welfare state. The problem is that Congress produces nothing. Whatever Congress wishes to give, it has to first take other people's money. Thus, at the root of the welfare state is the immorality of intimidation, threats and coercion backed up with the threat of violence by the agents of the U.S. Congress. In order for Congress to do what some Americans deem as good, it must first do evil. It must do that which if done privately would mean a jail sentence; namely, take the property of one American to give to another.

According to a Washington Post article (6/22/05), there were nearly 35,000 highly paid registered lobbyists in Washington in 2004 who spent $2.1 billion lobbying the White House, Congress and various agencies on behalf of various interest groups. Political action committees, private donors and companies give billions of dollars to political campaigns. My question to you: Do you think that these people are spending billions of dollars to assist presidents and congressmen to better perform their sworn oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution? If you do, you're a fine candidate for a straitjacket. For the most part, the money is being spent to get politicians and government officials to use their coercive power to create a favor or special privilege for one American at the expense of some other American.

If we Americans didn't give Washington such enormous control over our lives, I doubt whether there would be 10 percent of the money currently spent on lobbying and campaign contributions. This enormous control that Congress has over our lives also goes a long way toward explaining much of the government corruption that we see in Washington.

If the average American were asked whether he wishes to return to mankind's normal state of affairs featured by arbitrary abuse, control and government dictates, I am sure he would find such a suggestion repulsive. But if you were to ask, say, the average senior citizen whether Social Security, Medicare and prescription drug subsidies should be continued, he would probably answer yes. The same would be true if you asked a college professor whether higher education should continue to be subsidized, or a farmer or a dairyman whether their products should be subsidized, or a manufacturer whether there should be tariffs and quotas on foreign products that compete with his product. The problem with congressmen producing favors and privileges to all interest groups is that it creates what none of us wants: massive control, numerous dictates and micromanagement of our lives.

There is no question that if one were to ask whether we Americans are moving towards more liberty or more government control over our lives, the answer would unambiguously be the latter -- more government control over our lives. We might have reached a point where the trend is irreversible and that is a true tragedy for if liberty is lost in America, it will be lost for all times and all places.


Political Blame and the Myth of Government-Sponsored Salvation

It frightens me to hear politicians play the "blame game." Those who blame others for national problems are attempting to focus the hatred of their listeners against a particular person. Most often the person targeted is already unpopular. It is therefore safe to lay everything at this person's door, saying that he is at fault, that he should be punished, that a particular odium should attach to his name. The salvation of the country, therefore, is promoted by vilification. Such is an absurd course which prepares the way for disastrous policies. At the moment we see that President Bush or Vice President Cheney are the scapegoats of the hour. When the Great Depression was underway, several decades ago, President Herbert Hoover was singled out for blame. In Germany the Nazis liked to blame the Jews, who are still blamed for the world's ills by Islamic leaders. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin likes to blame the United States for the world's economic problems, though the Kremlin has always embraced economic stupidity as a matter of state principle.

In the current financial crisis involving Wall Street, people tend to blame "greed." Those who take this position may have a point, but they are also in danger of committing an error; for it is the individual desire to accumulate wealth that has created so much wealth to begin with. It is the "greed" of Wall Street that has made Main Street so prosperous. If not for speculators and the system of "financial greed" currently excoriated, most Americans would be dirt farmers.

According to Adam Smith's notion of the "invisible hand," financial selfishness (a.k.a. greed) is a positive force in a free economy. In one of the most celebrated passages in Smith's book, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, we read: "[the businessman] intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."

Smith further explains that politicians cannot promote a country's welfare as we might imagine. Attempts to intervene in the market are hazardous at best. "The statesman," wrote Smith, "who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capital, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it."

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson suddenly comes to mind. He is the man who would be Wall Street's savior, sitting atop a huge pile of government money with which to buy up the "toxic debt" of the financial system. We ought to think it unlikely that anyone should deceive himself so thoroughly as to imagine that he is the market's "savior." It is a fundamental axiom that the government cannot save the market because the government does not possess adequate knowledge. The market works precisely because economic knowledge is decentralized and the market allows this decentralized knowledge to become effective. When market actors commit errors, only the market can correct the errors. Only by allowing the market to function can the real solution appear. Central decision-makers who imagine a solution, who think they know what is happening in the economy, are fooling themselves. The economy is too large for their resources. They cannot achieve what they propose. The error we entertain today is along the lines of wishful thinking. We simplify the problem of the economy in such a way that we envision a particular bailout scheme. But notice the lack of specifics in the scheme. Where is the economic science? There is only, first and last, a functionary with a several hundred billion dollar mandate - and typically ignorant organs of "oversight."

Our financial leaders committed egregious error upon error with the haughty self assurance that they could disregard economic teachings and escape the greatest cycle of boom and bust yet seen. And now, this same generation imagines that government can stop the boom from turning bust. They point to the case of Sweden, where the government intervened to save the Swedish economy from ruin. While it is true that the Swedish government stemmed the tide of panic, the country's economy was ultimately floated by the decentralized decision-making of the market. A government may be lucky enough to stem panic in an otherwise healthy economy. It cannot, however, stop a financial contraction when bubbles begin to burst at the outset of a global recession.

One has to remember that America is the great market, the great nexus of the global economy. The U.S. dollar is the world's reserve currency. There is no global prosperity that can refloat America's sinking economic fortunes. If America's economy suffers blow upon blow, then the global economy is forced to adjust. It is not a question of stopping panic. The psychology of Americans has long been fortified against panic. The consumer is going to adjust his budget despite Secretary Paulson's best efforts. The consumer is going to cut back his purchases. We can see this already happening, and no bailout package is going to persuade the consumer that he can continue his consumption on credit. He simply cannot do it, and the realization has dawned. There is no turning back. The decentralized knowledge of the economy, which is the key to future prosperity, has begun to make its own correction. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained. The government can only cloud the issue by moving money from the taxpayer into the market, by transferring wealth from one set of actors to another.

The error of blaming specific actors for problems carries with it a great danger. It is the danger of crediting specific actors with a solution. Those who blame President Bush are the flip side of those who credit Treasury Secretary Paulson with a solution. In reality, the problem occurred because of false market valuations that occurred during a period of credit inflation. No single individual person or agency can solve the problem. No individual possesses the knowledge required. Only the market possesses the knowledge, if only the market is allowed to function without the obfuscation introduced by inappropriate government regulation and the myth of government-sponsored salvation.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Change" is Coming - Socialism

By Dick McDonald of Rise up America

You don't have to guess that the "perfect storm" is coming - Democrats of all stripes are telling you that McCain has no plan to make America better whereas Obama is going to lower taxes on 95% of the people and build up our roads, bridges and infrastructure. Now to the uninformed the Democrats are selling the taxpayers of America down the river.

They are proposing the same failed policies of FDR. He too tried but failed to solve the Great Depression with massive government work projects like building roads, bridges and infrastructure. It didn't work then and it won't work now. Democrats want to build government at the expense of the people (the private sector) and small business.

This time around they are using the words "green jobs". Democrats are going to create "green jobs". You see they and their allies in the media have sold Americans on the fallacy of "global warming" and the since disproved "hole in the atmosphere". They just ignore the warnings of NOA and NASA that we are entering an era of global cooling. They promise that government will lead the way ($$$$$) and finance "green jobs".

Now you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that massive government projects and the creation of a "green jobs" industry will cost money and that Democrats, once elected, will not cut taxes but increase them to pay for these immense new government costs. Outside of John Kennedy no Democrat in the last century has kept his word to lower taxes. Obama's web site has more ways to tax the voter than any candidate for president has ever proposed in the history of the Republic.

There is a real possibility that this community organizer through organizations like ACORN and radicals in the Democrat Party set out to destroy America's capitalist system by legislating NINJA loans they knew would bankrupt the financial sector. That has been a success and Obama is now trading on that success to move the country toward more socialism. Unfortunately for all socialists the people will eventually catch wind of his "perfect storm" and restore freedom and reject the unachievable utopian equality he is peddling.

Is America on the Albanian path?

Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler

Tirana, Albania. I had a private dinner with an extraordinary man last night (10/09) - just the two of us with one of his key advisors. Albania is very fortunate to have Dr. Sali Berisha (he's a physician with a specialty in heart surgery) as its Prime Minister. He's a man of immense erudition and learning who is street wise in the ways of the world, having dealt with every major leader on the planet for years. The country he admires above all others is America. In this, he speaks for the great majority of Albanians. Albania is probably the most pro-American country on earth today.

Yet it was a strange and scary experience to hear him relate the recent history of Albania - for at one point he seemed to be describing that of America's instead. What I really hoped he wasn't describing was the history of America's immediate future.

This rugged land of mountains north of Greece and along the Adriatic Sea (Italy is only 45 sea miles away) has been inhabited by Illyrians (ancestors of today's Albanians) for thousands of years. In all that time it has fought for its independence, against Alexander, the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottoman Turks.

Its national hero is Skanderbeg (1405-1468), who fought off the Ottomans, rejected their religion of Islam, and befriended the Popes of Rome, who named him Athleta Christi (Champion of Christ) for his protection of Christians.

After his death, the Ottomans finally overwhelmed Albania, forced its people to convert to Islam, and ruled it with Moslem tyranny for over 400 years. With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Albania declared independence - which lasted until Mussolini invaded and took it over in 1939.

After the Fascists were kicked out at the end of World War II, the Communists took over, led by a devotee of Stalin, Enver Hoxha. Pathologically paranoid, Hoxha turned Albania into Europe's North Korea, a hermitized hell-hole of medieval poverty and despotism sealed off from the world. Hoxha finally died in 1985, the Soviet Union dying six years later, and free Albania had its first-ever democratic elections in 1992. Sali Berisha was elected president.

Berisha took over a country a quarter-inch off the ground whose utterly poverty-stricken people had no familiarity whatever with private property or capitalism in any form. He instituted free market reforms and privatized both land and state-owned businesses. There were few banks, however, so informal lending companies arose to provide credit and loans.

Some of them began investing on their own account rather than making loans. (Did the term "investment banker" just occur to you?). They began offering higher and higher returns, escalating to 30% a year. ("Flipping houses," anyone?) They were, of course, paying such interest to previous investors with principal from newer investors - the classic Ponzi scheme.

It grew completely out of hand so fast because almost no Albanians had any familiarity with markets or investing. Two thirds of the entire population invested their life savings in the schemes. By early 1996, companies were paying out 8% a month or over 100% a year; two of the biggest, Xhafferi and Populli, had two million depositors between them - out of a total population of 3.5 million.

By the fall of 1996, Populli was offering 30% a month, and Xhafferi promising to triple depositor's money in three months. People sold their homes, farmers sold their livestock. The Ponzi companies' liabilities were equal to half of the country's GDP, $1.2 billion. They began going bankrupt in January of 1997. The economy collapsed in total chaos.

Berisha took the blame and his government resigned. An impoverished and enraged people elected the old Communist Party - now renamed the Socialist Party - in his place. The country descended into crime and corruption, into a loss of freedom and economic hope that lasted eight years.

Does this saga ring any bells? Do any headlines in our own newspapers over the last weeks come to mind? At least the Albanians have some excuse, coming out of Communism illiterate, uneducated, and ignorant. We're supposed to be a little more sophisticated, aren't we, the smartest guys in the world's room? Evidently not.

Everybody wants to blame somebody else - Bush, greedy Wall Street, crooks like Franklin Raines, corrupt Dems like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank (and yes, I loved it when Bill O'Reilly unloaded on Frank and called him a "coward" on national television).

But the bottom line is that in a country as free as ours, people get not only the government they deserve, they get the economy they deserve. Too many Americans went nuts with trying to make easy money, flipping homes, et al. Too many Americans elected politicians who encouraged or allowed it. And now we have Albania in America.

The real question at this moment is will Americans be stupid and suicidal enough to lash out in frustration and place a Marxist Messiah in the White House? It certainly was what the Albanians did. The Communist-Socialists demonized Berisha and made him the fall guy. And he'll be the first to admit he was on too steep a learning curve to handle the situation. It took him eight years to regain the voters' trust and for the voters to accept what they did to themselves.

Berisha was elected Prime Minister in 2005. The economy was still in ruins. You wouldn't recognize it today. There are explosions of new prosperity everywhere - and this time the economy has a solid foundation. Albania now has a 10% flat tax on personal and corporate income, a 15% payroll tax (down from 30% with the goal being 10%), and 11% GDP growth, by far the best in all of Europe.

Foreign investment is pouring in, the rule of law becoming firmly dependable, public safety vastly improved with crime rates plummeting. It's a country of breathtaking beauty with spectacular mountains and beaches. The tourist potential alone is vast, as are so many other business opportunities.

Should the Marxist Messiah win 25 days from now, 26 days from now money is going to start pouring out of the US in search of safe offshore havens. One of those havens will be here in Albania. For Albania - Albania! - will be more pro-freedom, more pro-capitalist, and more pro-America than Obama's America.

I must confess I'm glad I'm here, watching a gorgeous Adriatic sunset and enjoying a sip of raki Albanian firewater in this fascinating place than amidst the insanity enveloping my country. But I also must confess that I can't make myself believe the insanity is real, that my countrymen will actually ruin themselves on November 4.

I can tell you that all of Eastern Europe is holding its breath and praying for a McCain victory. This part of the world has a nightmarish familiarity with Marxist tyranny and recognizes it when it's on the horizon. People here see it in Hussein Obama and desperately want him to lose. They want America to leapfrog over a return to Marxism like Albania experienced after a terrible economic collapse to the political and economic freedom Albania has now. That's the kind of Albania they want in America.

It sure is what Sali Berisha wants. He has met John McCain many times and has a very high regard for him. "I am looking forward to congratulating Mr. McCain on his victory, and inviting him to come to Albania" he told me. "I am a low-tax guy, and I want to show him what low taxes have done for Albanians. I want to tell him that low taxes can do the same for Americans." He raised his glass of raki. "God bless America, Dr. Wheeler," he toasted. "America is the hope of the world. May it always be."


After Two Weeks of 40 Days for Life - 114 Babies Saved from Abortion

Excitement continues to rise among pro-lifers across North America -- and distress among Planned Parenthood advocates -- as the number of rescued babies rises to a total of 114 throughout the 170 communities participating in the 40 Days for Life. David Bereit, national campaign director for the 40 DFL, writes that peaceful protesters with California's San Fernando Valley chapter of the 40 DFL had some "very encouraging news" to relate. An absent abortionist, unusually low numbers of scheduled abortions, and 40 DFL pilgrims from far and wide were mere preliminaries to the day's excitement, during which at least one woman "changed [her] mind" and left the abortuary smiling. "When one woman changes her mind about abortion, it creates a ripple [effect]. Heartbreak is replaced by joy -- many times over," says Bereit.

Similar stories are starting to emerge in Canada, where two cities, Ottawa and Halifax, are participating in the 40 DFL. Suzanne Atkinson, a peaceful protester outside the Morgantaler abortion center, records that on Wednesday October 8 she "looked up to see [a] young girl going into 65 Bank St." Reliving the moments intensely, Atkinson says, "My heart sank. I prayed that the Lord would move in her heart... that the guardian angels of her and her unborn baby would intervene." Some time passing before the young woman emerged, Atkinson "assumed that she had had an abortion," but in a brief conversation with the protesters, the young woman admitted to having "changed her mind." She looked "quite happy," said Atkinson.

The widespread success of the 40 DFL is proving a threat to abortion providers, who run a multi-billion dollar industry in North America. (The first half of the 40 DFL has seen successes in more than 50 cities. Find their stories here: http://40daysforlife.com/blog/?p=25.) "Despite the increasingly shrill rhetoric of the abortion industry, the simple truth is that business is off," says Bereit. "Abortion numbers have dropped so significantly that several states are now down to only one or two remaining abortion centers."

Planned Parenthood, which, as the largest supporter and provider of abortion, is a special target for the 40 DFL, is particularly anxious. "Emily X," a Planned Parenthood activist, writes "the things we take for granted - that you can afford to get your birth control each month, or that your doctor will give you all your options when you come to him or her in need - are quietly slipping away. It's an important time. And it's not the time to sit idly by." Emily X attempts to compensate Planned Parenthood for its financial loss throughout the 40 DFL campaign by gaining sponsors for each encounter she has with a 40 DFL protester. Clearly, Planned Parenthood is feeling a pinch.

In anticipation of this autumn's 40 DFL last August 25, Bereit said "We may be on the verge of a turning point in the battle against abortion," and "response to our call for communities to participate in this fall's 40 Days for Life has exceeded our wildest expectations...The growth of this outreach is a reflection of the excitement that people are expressing about the many ways 40 Days for Life impacts a community."



By Jeff Jacoby

What does "Election Day" mean? Once, the answer was obvious: It signified the date -- the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November -- when Americans came together in public to choose their political leaders and reaffirm their common stake in democratic self-government.

But tens of millions of Americans no longer wait until November to vote. In much of the country, voters are permitted to cast their ballots a month or more in advance, either in person at designated early-voting polling places or by mail as "absentees." Over the course of just a few election cycles, one of our oldest political institutions has been all but overturned. In 1980, notes political scientist John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute, some 4 million ballots were cast before Election Day. In 2004, there were 27 million. That number will go even higher this year; there are estimates that as many as one-third of all votes will be "banked" before November.

Not every state has abandoned the communal tradition of Election Day. Massachusetts does not open polling stations early, and voters requesting an absentee ballot must have an excuse for not going to the polls in person. But the momentum, regrettably, is in the other direction. Oregon has done away with polling places entirely; 100 percent of its elections are conducted by mail. Close behind is Washington state, at more than 70 percent. Ohio jumped on the bandwagon for the first time this year, inviting residents to vote as early as Sept. 30 -- even letting individuals register to vote and cast a ballot in the same visit if they showed up by Oct. 6.

The trend away from a unitary Election Day has long been cheered by those who want voting made more "convenient." Bill Clinton endorsed early voting during his reelection campaign in 1996. "A lot of people are busy," he said, "and it's hard for them to just get there and vote." BeAbsentee.org, a website created this year to encourage voting by mail, offers 10 reasons to embrace absentee ballots. Among them: "You have better things to do on Election Day," "You do not have to stand in line," and "It might rain on Election Day."

For voters truly unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, due to illness or travel, absentee ballots are a reasonable accommodation. But for most of us, getting to a local polling place once a year is far less onerous than getting to work or to school every day, or to the supermarket once a week. Anyone who can manage to take in an occasional ball game, or go to the movies now and then, or periodically go out to dinner can manage to vote in person on Election Day.

Are some citizens so uninterested in political affairs that they won't bother to cast a ballot unless they can do it from their living room couch, or are given a month-and-a-half to get around to it? Yes. But what is gained from encouraging such lazy or apathetic people to vote?

Especially pernicious is another of BeAbsentee.org's reasons to vote early: "You can make your decision and move on. Enough with this election already!"

In an age of instant gratification and "have-it-your-way" convenience, it may seem unreasonable to expect voters to wait until November to help choose a president, senator, or city councilor. Why not encourage them to vote in October or September -- or even in August, for that matter -- if they've made up their minds?

Here's why: Because voters who cast early ballots do so without benefit of all the information, analysis, and discussion that bloom in such profusion during the last weeks of an election campaign -- the debates, the endorsements, the voter guides, the candidates' speeches, the heightened media attention.

What is significant about Election Day isn't so much the date itself; it's the focus that date provides for the process of democratic decision-making. No one thinks jurors should be allowed to render a verdict before seeing the final witnesses and hearing the closing arguments on each side. Theater critics don't skip the play's final act in order to write their review. For the same reason, Americans should vote on the first Tuesday in November, not whenever they're ready to "move on."

What does "Election Day" mean? It used to refer to the pinnacle of our civic religion, the gravely eloquent day when voting in America took place. Now it's just the day when voting comes to an end. Many changes are for the better, but this isn't one of them.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Just When You Thought You'd Heard It All ...

... regarding America's racist white voters and how they'll never elect a black president, here comes Penn Prof. John L. Jackson, Jr., the Chronicle of Higher Education's anthroblogogist (as an anthropologist he "spends a lot of time, "he modestly tells us, "listening to people talk about their hopes and dreams, their complicated pasts, and uncharted futures") to report that the increasing likelihood Obama will be elected is making some blacks "more - not less - cynical about how race operates in contemporary America." Really. I promise, I'm not making this up. Jackson continues:
Some black folks are describing the potential inauguration of this country's first black president (no offense, Bill) as the epitome of America's traditional version of racial prejudice and scapegoating, not its ultimate repudiation. In other words, they see it as another reason to be skeptical of America's newfound capacity to elect a person of color to the highest office in the land
His, or "some black folks'," argument, comes down to this:
As people follow roller-coastering stock prices and feeble attempts at an adequate governmental response, it seems ironic, at least to some, that America appears most likely to pass the executive baton to its first black presidential candidate just as the country teeters on the edge of economic collapse, which (the argument goes) will allow many Americans to blame "the black guy" for all of it, especially if things continue to get worse in 2009. "See what happens when you give a black person a country to run. They turn it into a version of Africa and its failed states."
So, America is racist if it fails to elect Obama ... and racist if it does.

You'll have to read Jackson's article to decide for yourself whether Jackson is nuts, the "some black folks" to whom he attentively listens are nuts, or both. In his defense (and in defense of the Chronicle's otherwise odd decision to award him a regular platform), I suppose it could be said that the views he expresses tarnish the reputation of anthropological insight only marginally more than those expressed in his other columns that we've encountered here, here, here, and here.

Source (See the original for links)

Counting Islamists

by Daniel Pipes

The recent distribution of some 28 million copies in the United States of the 2005 documentary Obsession has stirred heated debate about its contents. One lightening rod for criticism concerns my on-screen statement that "10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council declared this estimate both "utterly unsubstantiated" and "completely without evidence." Masoud Kheirabadi, a professor at Portland State University and author of children's books about Islam, informed the Oregonian newspaper that there's no basis for my estimate. Daniel Ruth, writing in the Tampa Tribune, asked dubiously how I arrived at this number. "Did he take a poll? That would be enlightening! What does `support' for radical Islam mean? Pipes provides no answers." Actually, Pipes did provide answers. He collected and published many numbers at "How Many Islamists?" a weblog entry initiated in May 2005.

First, though, an explanation of what I meant by Muslims who "support militant Islam": these are Islamists, individuals who seek a totalistic, worldwide application of Islamic law, the Shari`a. In particular, they seek to build an Islamic state in Turkey, replace Israel with an Islamic state and the U.S. constitution with the Koran. As with any attitudinal estimate, however, several factors impede approximating the percentage of Islamists.
How much fervor: Gallup polled over 50,000 Muslims across 10 countries and found that, if one defines radicals as those who deemed the 9/11 attacks "completely justified," their number constitutes about 7 percent of the total population. But if one includes Muslims who considered the attacks "largely justified," their ranks jump to 13.5 percent. Adding those who deemed the attacks "somewhat justified" boosts the number of radicals to 36.6 percent. Which figure should one adopt?

Gauge voter intentions: Elections measure Islamist sentiment untidily, for Islamist parties erratically win support from non-Islamists. Thus, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 47 percent in 2007 elections, 34 percent of the vote in 2002 elections, and its precursor, the Virtue Party, won just 15 percent in 1999. The Islamic Movement's northern faction won 75 percent of the vote in the Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm in 2003 elections while Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization, won 44 percent of the vote in the Palestinian Authority in 2006. Which number does one select?

What to measure: Many polls measure attitudes other than the application of Islamic law. Gallup looks at support for 9/11. The Pew Global Attitudes Project assesses support for suicide bombing. Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi security specialist, focuses on pro-Osama bin Laden views. Germany's domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz, counts membership in Islamist organizations. Margaret Nydell of Georgetown University calculates "Islamists who resort to violence."

Inexplicably varying results: A University of Jordan survey revealed that large majorities of Jordanians, Palestinians, and Egyptians wish the Shari`a to be the only source of Islamic law - but only one-third of Syrians. Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists "is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population." In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting off the hands of thieves) and 52 per cent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.
Given these complications, it is not surprising that estimates vary considerably. On the one hand, the Islamic Supreme Council of America's Hisham Kabbani says 5 to 10 percent of American Muslims are extremists and Daniel Yankelovich, a pollster, finds that "the hate-America Islamist fundamentalists . averages about 10 percent of all Muslims." On the other, reviewing ten surveys of British Muslim opinion, I concluded that "more than half of British Muslims want Islamic law and 5 percent endorse violence to achieve that end."

These ambiguous and contradictory percentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists. Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists. Subsequent evidence generally confirmed that estimate and suggested, if anything, that the actual numbers might be higher.

Negatively, 10-15 percent suggests that Islamists number about 150 million out of a billion plus Muslims - more than all the fascists and communists who ever lived. Positively, it implies that most Muslims can be swayed against Islamist totalitarianism.


Scoundrel Country

Further evidence campaign-finance 'reformers' muzzle free speech

If you're wondering why business groups tend to stay neutral in elections these days, take a look at the Building Industry Association of Washington. That trade group's liberal opponents continue to harass it with lawsuits because it won't stay mute.

The BIAW recently won a court battle over whether it could continue to use profits from its workers' compensation program to support Republican Dino Rossi for Washington state Governor. Attorneys allied with Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire filed a class action suit that was nakedly aimed at robbing the BIAW of its free-speech rights. State Judge Christine Pomeroy refused to bar the BIAW from spending.

The same lawyers are now back for another go, and this time they aren't even hiding behind the workers' comp fig leaf. The activists have filed suit on behalf of two former state Supreme Court justices who support Mrs. Gregoire and who claim the BIAW illegally coordinated with the Rossi campaign in developing a multimillion-dollar spending effort. What makes the suit more outrageous is that only recently the state's Public Disclosure Commission dismissed these accusations, claiming the evidence was "vague" and that there was no "smoking gun."

The lawyers' aim is, once again, to shut down BIAW political spending in the final weeks of the election. At the very least they hope to turn this suit into a media circus, forcing Mr. Rossi to submit to a deposition and suggesting malfeasance in the heat of a close election. The losers are voters, who are stuck reading about frivolous lawsuits, and, should the Gregoire activists succeed, will lack the information that the BIAW's ads provide. Mark it down as further evidence that the goal of campaign-finance "reformers" is to muzzle political speech.


Australia: Must not dispute claims by homosexuals?

TENS of thousands of taxpayers' dollars are being spent on a legal fight about a 30cm Barbie doll. The State Government has angered gay rights campaigners by disputing a bisexual firefighter's claim he was harassed by co-workers and given a Barbie doll at a Christmas party. Lawyers for the Government argue the controversial doll was given not because of the claimant's sexuality, but because he has the same name as Barbie's boyfriend - Ken. But claimant Ken Campagnolo said none of the other Kens at the party received dolls.

Mr Campagnolo is suing the Department of Sustainability and Environment for workplace sexual harassment. He says co-workers shouted "poofter" at him and put dolls on his locker, as well as presenting him with a Barbie doll.

At a tribunal hearing lawyers for the Government argued there was an innocent explanation. "The presentation of a Barbie doll to the complainant was just a friendly play on his Christian name - a Barbie doll for a 'Ken'," the tribunal heard.

Gay rights campaigner Rob Mitchell, of the RJM Trust, said it was outrageous the Government was fighting Mr Campognolo's complaint. "It makes me shudder to think what amount of taxpayers' money they've spent so far," he said. A DSE spokesman declined an opportunity to disclose how much the Government had spent.

The "Barbie barney" case has been running in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for six months. A formal hearing is due on December 5.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Comments | Trackback

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Colorado's Bible ban faces court challenge

Tim Gill, the secretive Colorado software multi-millionaire and behind-the-scenes "gay" activist who has boasted of his strategy to buy up campaigns for pro-homosexual candidates, soon may be learning he cannot buy the First Amendment. Gill, whose strategic campaign donations in 2004 largely are credited with turning the GOP majority in the Colorado statehouse into a Democratic bastion and whose work in 2006 helped install Democrat Bill Ritter, a vigorously pro-abortion campaigner, in the governor's office, has been blamed by Christian organizations for the success of a new Colorado law that bans the Bible in the state.

But the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado and Liberty Counsel are teaming up on a soon-to-be-filed lawsuit expected to highlight the apparent First Amendment violations of SB200, the state law that bans references to homosexuals that could be perceived as "discriminatory" and raises the issue of whether the law applies to the Bible's label of homosexuality as an "abomination."

The protection for homosexuals is wrapped up in a "gender" discrimination ban that widely was publicized as the "bathroom bill," because it also allows adults who say they are a particular sex to use public restrooms designated for that sex, whether their physical characteristics match that sex or not. Such laws also have been adopted locally in Florida and Maryland, too.

But within the bill are the much more drastic provisions addressing the Bible. "Section 8 of the bill makes it a crime to publish or distribute anything that is deemed a 'discrimination' against the homosexual and transsexual lifestyle," said a statement from the Christian Family Alliance.

Mark Hotaling, executive director for the Alliance, said the work of Gill and his homosexual lobby has been evident since Democrats took the majority position in the state legislature in 2004. "But this is just so over the top," he said of the latest attack on biblical values. He said initially supporters and even some opponents of the bill explained that there was an exception for churches and church organizations. However, lawmakers then attached to the bill a state "safety clause" which is supposed to deal with laws that are fundamental to protecting the lives of residents. That, he said, simply stripped away any potential allowances for churches and church groups. "Anyone who claims that there's an exception for churches really doesn't know the ins and outs of the bill," Hotaling told WND. "So the religious exemption is purely window dressing and very deceptive," he said. "The Word of God literally now is banned, and that's a legitimate slam-dunk First Amendment issue there."

Also a horror is the provision for adults to be provided access to restrooms of their choice, he said. The law "gives increased access for predators and cross-dressers to go into any bathroom they choose," he said. "The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says predators prey on children where they have their greatest access." What could better suit predators' purposes than the closed doors of public restrooms, he suggested.

He said his organization is working with Liberty Counsel to document the impact of the law, its provisions and what constitutional authority may be usurped by the state law. "We're going to fight this thing," he said. "We're very confident that at least some aspects of SB200 will be thrown out, and perhaps the entire bill."

There have been no reports of prosecutions under the law yet. "But it will happen," Hotaling said, "The danger is this legislation is not necessarily an individual complaint, but how it is weaved into the fabric of society. I heard . there are school districts in the state where elementary schools are trying to figure out how to implement unisex bathrooms."

The most important issue, he believes, is that churches keep preaching the Bible. "If we're yelling anything from the rooftops, it's that pastors and churches should not stop preaching the Word of God and not to temper the Word out of fear," he said.

Mathew Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, said he's had staff members researching the law, checking other states for similar provisions and doing other preparation for a lawsuit. "Colorado is by far the most restrictive," he said.

Gill, in a report carried by the Christian Broadcasting Network, boasted recently about his strategy to infuse specific campaigns with the money they need to "eliminate the anti-gay state legislators." "The Republican Party is controlled by a bunch of bigots, and the only way the bigots are going to learn is if we take their power away from them," he said in the CBN report. He also urged donors to be selective in their targeted campaigns. "Just a little bit of money goes a long way. I'll tell you that $500 or $1000 in Wyoming goes a lot farther than $500 or $1000 in L.A., where it probably doesn't even buy a bottle of wine," he said.

Last spring, shortly after Ritter signed SB200 into law, state Rep. Kevin Lundberg told WND it was written with intentional vagueness. "This is so loaded. It's written in an open-ended fashion that anybody can take just about any part of it and grow it into a huge monstrosity," he said. His comments came in conjunction with a news conference at which a number of groups announced their intention to challenge the law. Lundberg cited Section 8, which is titled, "Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden."

Others represented at the news conference were WND columnist and national syndicated talk show host Janet Folger, author of "The Criminalization of Christianity;" Steve Curtis, president of the American Right To Life Action and former chairman of the Colorado GOP; Kevin Swanson of Christian Home Educators of Colorado; Hotaling and Colorado for Family Values.

WND reported that one of the supporters of the bill, Cathryn Hazouri of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the state House Judiciary Committee: "One may practice one's religion in private; however, once a religious person comes into the public arena, there are limitations in how the expression of their religion impacts others." The Christian publishing house Focus on the Family has called the law a payback by the Democrat-controlled legislature and Ritter to homosexual activists such as Gill


Britain's candyfloss garbage collectors

"Health and safety" again. Just an excuse for an arrogant bureaucracy that cannot be bothered to do the work that people have been forced to pay for

A council is refusing to empty wheelie bins if they are left on gravel driveways - in case they injure binmen. Bosses at West Wiltshire district council fear stones could become trapped in the wheels and cause the bins to topple over. Only months ago the same council refused to empty wheelies which its binmen could not pull using just two fingers.

The latest policy came to light when binmen repeatedly refused to touch the bin left out by Mark Birkett, 38, in Trowbridge, because the wheels were on his gravel drive. Mr Birkett said: 'I can pull it 30ft down my drive but they cannot pull it just a few inches over gravel. 'They only have to pull the bins literally a couple of inches over the gravel and it is downhill. 'But I was told they would not be pulled across the gravel for health and safety reasons', Mr Birkett said.

'I laughed at first. I just could not believe it. I think these health and safety rules are bonkers.' 'I have to submit to these rules or else my bins are not emptied.'

Councillor Ernie Clark, who took up the case, said: 'It is health and safety gone mad. It is lunacy. It is not really even gravel. It is gravel compacted into a hard surface.' Following complaints, the council says it will now collect bins from loose driveways so long as they are the other way round with the wheels on the pavement.

In June, binmen in Warminster refused to empty a green bin because they could not lift it with two fingers.


Bureaucratized Britain again

Good Samaritan threatened with arrest after organising whip-round for oldster's $230 penalty fare. The conductor should be fired for sooling the police onto a kind man

Lena Ainscow was forced to hand over 115 pounds after a train conductor said she boarded the wrong train. Mr Wrigglesworth, a 32-year-old stand-up comedian from East London, intervened to help the pensioner and pleaded with the train guard for leniency. When he was told he should not interfere, he started a whip-round among fellow passengers.

He said: 'I couldn't sit there and let this helpless woman deal with it on her own. I got a paper bag from the buffet car and told the other passengers that if we all gave 50p or one pound we would get the money in no time. 'Everyone was happy to help and someone even put in 30 pounds.'

The ticket was duly bought, but when Mr Wrigglesworth got off the train at Euston he was met by transport police officers. He said: 'Thankfully a couple of the other passengers helped to explain. Once the police had been put in the picture they walked away.'

Mrs Ainscow said: 'Tom really spoke up for me - he was marvellous. The train was only half full. I don't know why the manager had to make me buy another ticket. 'It was a simple mistake - and not mine either.' Her daughter added: 'Tom has restored my faith in mankind. He was an angel. I dread to think what would have happened to my mother if he hadn't been there.'

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: 'We apologise for the distress caused to both passengers and have launched an investigation into the incident.'


The bogus charges of racism

John McCain is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. He could never mention Jeremiah Wright and ensure his campaign aides don't either, and he'd still be accused of running a racist campaign.

Have his tactics against Obama in recent days gotten more personal and hard-edged? Yes. Are his top surrogates, including his running mate, suggesting that the Democrat is a terrorist sympathizer who is not a patriot? Yes.

But is McCain doing anything overtly racist? No.

As Harold Ford Jr. told me in Nashville: "If Barack were not African-American, they'd be doing this."

Indeed they would. Just look at some of the GOP tactics questioning how much John Kerry, a white Vietnam veteran, cared about the troops.

That doesn't matter, though, to the outrage industry, ever on the lookout for any sign of racism and quick to pounce even when it's not there.

I was reminded of McCain's quandary when I got an e-mail touting the expertise of a college professor. Now, reporters get such pitches from PR shops and college publicity departments all the time. But this one stood out:
Lester Spence, an assistant professor of political science at The Johns Hopkins University, is available to discuss with reporters his belief that racial overtones are becoming part of Sen. John McCain's campaign rhetoric as Election Day approaches.

"Sen. John McCain's recent attacks on Barack Obama, accusing him of being a terrorist, combined with GOP columnists and bloggers arguing that Obama supports 'painting the white house black' and 'racial reparations' represent an embrace of the problematic 'Southern Strategy' that the GOP has historically used to increase white racial resentment," said Spence, who is African American. "But as can be seen in the most recent presidential debate, he is employing this strategy selectively, only among the GOP faithful."

McCain has not called Obama "a terrorist."

And those "GOP columnists and bloggers?" Spence is apparently referring to Peter Wallsten's LA Times story on Sunday that drew much liberal outrage. In the piece - a well-reported and fascinating look at Obama's racial challenges in Appalachia - Wallsten alluded to a Republican activist in Southwest Virginia who wrote a racially offensive column for a local paper.

From that - one isolated piece from a low-level party activist in a rural paper that only got noticed by the good reporting of a journalist who delved deep into the coalfields - Spence infers "an embrace of the problematic 'Southern Strategy' that the GOP has historically used to increase white racial resentment?"

This publication and others have been vigilant for any signs of Republicans using Obama's race against him. But let's be candid - McCain has done no such thing, nor is there any evidence that he's instructed GOP allies to go there.....

The purpose of these bogus charges of racism is to chill political speech that is critical of Obama. I think they are being made in obvious bad faith. By crying wolf over none racism these Democrats are cheapening the offense making real racism less of an offense. This reverse race baiting is big mistake.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Only in Britain

Gardener Ordered to Remove Barbed Wire Fence on Grounds It Could 'Wound Thieves'

A British gardener's local council has ordered him to remove a 3-foot high barbed wire fence around his property in case thieves hurt themselves on it, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. Bill Malcolm, 61, installed the wire at his Worcester property after burglars robbed his tool shed and vegetable plots three times in four months, stealing more than $500 worth of hardware.

But Malcolm's local council told him the wire was a health and safety hazard and warned him they would remove it by force if he did not do it himself, the Mail reported. "The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves," Malcolm told the Mail. "They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologized and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief."

The council said that a fence on the property must be a post or rail fence, not barbed wire. "With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds to the general public as this is a liability issue," a council spokeswoman told the Mail.


British council workers fired over giving mother $340,000 a year in welfare benefits

Publicity works (See here): Three council workers have been sacked after an Afghan mother was given $340,000 a year in benefits to live in a $2.4 million home

Ealing Council was paying mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi housing allowance of 12,458 pounds a month, nearly five times the rent for a similar property in the same road. She also received 400 pounds a week in benefits. The sacked housing officers, David Lewis, Gemma Calliste and Salma Khan claim they have been made scapegoats by Ealing Council.

Mr Lewis, 37, said: "We are shocked and stunned that we've lost out jobs as we were just doing what we were told. "We were just doing our job, but it's a stupid system. I thought 12,000 a month was a lot but it was agreed by Rent Services so it was OK. "We have basically been sacked with no notice. We were about to get permanent contracts and all of that has been taken away from us."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell has now called for a review into housing benefits. Mr Purnell said: "It was never intended that the Local Housing Allowance could result in a payment of this magnitude and I am shocked and concerned by this situation. "I have already asked my officials to carefully examine this issue as part of our current Review of Housing benefit and expect them to report to me as a matter or urgency."


Churches vs. Cities

A church building's doors forced shut. Its members not allowed to meet in their own building. Sounds like something missionaries report from foreign countries unfriendly to Christians-like from behind the Iron Curtain. But not this time.

This time, once again, it's happening right here on our own turf. Carlinville Southern Baptist Church planned to renovate a former Wal-Mart building in their central Illinois city. They met resistance from the start. City officials attempted to block the congregation's purchase, renovation, and use of the structure. Because that move violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - a federal law which was enacted to protect churches from discrimination in land use disputes with local governments - the church sued. They did so with the assistance of Alliance Defense Fund Allied Attorney Daniel P. Dalton.

Thankfully, Dalton was able to secure a settlement with the City of Carlinville for the church's renovation project to continue. In return, the church agreed to drop its suit. Dalton negotiated that settlement with members of the city council, including the mayor. Then, shockingly, the mayor vetoed the agreement. The church had already commissioned volunteers to remodel the structure for ministry use and ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of building supplies.

This seemingly hopeless cycle went around and around at least three times this summer. The city would propose terms of agreement to the church, only to add more restrictive terms in an apparent attempt to drive the church and its pastor out of town. After the church publicly took a stand against the impasse, the city proposed a better settlement, and the church accepted.

"It's simply wrong for a city to keep a church from using property because officials would rather see it used to generate commercial tax revenue," said ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco. "And forcing a church to endure bureaucratic nightmares over the matter is even worse. We're pleased that this settlement clears the way for the church to begin preparing the property for worship services."

Unfortunately, members of the Carlinville congregation are not the only ones facing city restrictions for wanting to worship in the building of their choice. ADF attorneys, right now, are fighting a similar situation in Yuma, Arizona.

Churches bring life, charity, and healing to communities. Restricting where they choose to meet is not only a violation of federal law, it is wrong. Please pray as we continue to represent, free of charge, churches across the country who are simply trying to gather to worship our Lord.


"Jews are the most religious people in America -- but their religion is not Judaism"

Note that the proprietors of the NYT are of Jewish background but clearly have another loyalty

In honor of the Jewish New Year, which reaches its culmination on Yom Kippur, a solemn day of fasting and repentance that falls this year on Oct. 9, I'd like to take a moment to recognize the open Jew-baiting that is enthusiastically enjoyed by our nation's leading newspaper.

The Oct. 7 edition of the New York Times featured a cheerful article about a video that is circulating on the web called "The Great Schlep." It stars (if that's the right word) a comedienne named Sarah Silverman. The Times identifies Silverman as having "created an Internet sensation" back in January with a video that "declared, in the starkest possible language, that she was having a torrid affair with the actor Matt Damon." That's New York Times speak. If you look it up, the video is called "I'm F-ing Matt Damon." Ms. Silverman is all class. But hey, she's obviously mainstream. Her video won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. That's 21st century American popular culture folks. Didn't "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" win an Oscar?

Silverman's new video is equally sexually vulgar but adds a new dimension. She begins her little romp by offering that if Barack Obama loses the election in November, she plans to blame the Jews (picture of a hooked nose in background). Yes, says Silverman, she's aware that Jews are the most "liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsey people there are" but some Jews, specifically those in Florida otherwise known as grandma and grandpa, are not planning to vote for Obama because he has a "scary name." She then proposes that younger Jews persuade their grandparents to vote for Obama by showing them how much blacks and Jews have in common. They all love "Cadillacs," and "things and bling and money and jewelry." Younger Jews can swing the election by threatening not to visit their grandparents unless they pull the lever for The One.

The Times finds it charming: " to Ms. Silverman these provocative comedy bits are all reflections of a consistent sensibility, one that trusts her audience will know when she is totally kidding and when is only sort of kidding." And if Barack Obama "emerges victorious on Election Day, with the swing state Florida in his win column, a modicum of credit may be due Sarah Silverman."

As Silverman admits in the Times profile, she isn't really Jewish. Though she comes from a Jewish background and can pronounce a few Yiddish words, she is not a Jew. "I have no religion. But culturally I can't escape it. I'm very Jewish."

Maybe from the point of view of the Times she is. And certainly because she claims Jewish ancestry, she gets a blanket immunity from the charge of anti-Semitism -- and apparently from the charge of racism as well.

Silverman may think of herself as edgy and new, but she is actually a stereotype herself -- the non-Jewish Jew who substitutes liberal politics for religion. For at least a century, large numbers of nominally Jewish Americans have demonstrated far more attachment to liberal politics than to actual Judaism. They declare that Judaism demands social justice, equality, gun control, liberal abortion laws, and an increase in the capital gains tax and they adhere to these tenets, well, religiously. Columnist and radio personality Dennis Prager likes to say that Jews are the most religious people in America -- but their religion is not Judaism. (This does not include observant Jews.)

Judaism does command social justice of course -- just start with the prophets. But normative Judaism is not the Democratic Party at prayer. Abortion, for example, is traditionally forbidden except to save the life of the mother. The Ten Commandments take a dim view of open marriage. Capital punishment is sanctioned for some crimes. And above all, Judaism demands that human beings worship God, not themselves.

It's a free country and secular Jews can believe and say whatever they like. But it is tiresome as well as false for them to parade their liberalism as the authentic expression of a great faith.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, October 10, 2008

How the hippies turned into their parents

They were the generation of free love, mind-expanding drugs and a contempt for all things conventional. Yet as old age approaches for the hippies, rebellion now tends to be the last thing on their mind. Their retirement years are likely to be spent pursuing home improvements, saving for holidays and going for long walks, a study suggests.

They will be richer than their parents were because of decades of rising house prices - but much of their extra money will go on subsidising children and grandchildren.

The main thing which sets them apart is that they will still be playing the same old music they liked when they were young, according to the Government- funded research. The paper, published by the Economic and Social Research Council, suggests that the baby-boom children born between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1950s still think of themselves as young. But they are beginning to behave in much the same way as did their parents.

'Most members of the baby-boom generation - once the first teenagers of a more affluent consumer society - have modest ideas for their retirement,' said the report. 'Most maintain a traditional pattern - watching films and television, playing records or going for long walks.' The study, based on evidence from existing large-scale surveys and detailed interviews with 150 people approaching retirement age, was led by Dr Rebecca Leach of Keele University. It said there was 'only limited evidence that first-wave boomers are developing new third-age lifestyles'.

Dr Leach said: 'Most have fairly modest aspirations, hoping at best to maintain current lifestyles and activities provided health and finances permit them to do so. 'The range of lifestyles is greater than would have been the case with previous generations but there is little evidence of alternative models of consumption.' She said the surveys showed that only around one in 20 of the hippie generation now uses the alternative medicines which were the height of fashion in the 1970s.

Rather than following alternative lifestyles, the baby boomers are the generation obsessed with their houses, the report said. The explosion in home ownership since the 1950s means a third own their homes outright, half have mortgages and one in six have second homes. 'Home improvements form a significant part of boomer lifestyles,' the report said. 'So does increasing value of homes, especially in terms of using housing to fund retirement.'

The harm done to expectations of income from their homes by the credit crunch adds to other financial pressures that early generations did not have. Four out of ten of those in their late 50s still have children living at home. More than a third are also supporting grandchildren, for example by paying for childcare, and around half spend some time or money caring for their own parents.


Vicious metric law enforcement in Britain

Market trader gets a criminal record for selling fruit and veg by the pound

A market trader was convicted yesterday of selling fruit and vegetables using imperial measures - even though the EU says it should not be an offence. Metric martyr Janet Devers, 64, said she had been made a 'scapegoat' after being sentenced for selling goods on her market stall in pounds rather than kilos. The mother of two fought back tears as she was ordered by magistrates to pay almost $10,000 in costs and told she would have a criminal record after being found guilty of eight offences under the Weights and Measures Act.

As part of the landmark case, the greengrocer was also convicted of selling vegetables for $2 a bowl rather than counting them out individually - a practice commonplace amongst Britain's 40,000 market traders who use bowls to help customers baffled by grams and kilograms. Now the pensioner, from Wanstead, East London, faces financial ruin as the costs of fighting the case could see her lose her market stall in nearby Dalston. It has been in the family for more than 60 years since her mother Irene Hunt became one of the first woman to run a stall in the East End during the Blitz.

The verdict, which has outraged campaigners, comes a year after EU said it would no longer force Britain to adopt the metric system of weights and measures. It became illegal to sell any goods in Britain in non-metric weights and measures under the EU's compulsory metrication policy in 2000. In September last year, Gunther Verheugen, European Commission vice president for enterprise and industry, said Brussels never intended to criminalise those who sold in pounds and ounces. But the laws under which Mrs Devers was prosecuted are still on the UK statute books.

Just a few days after Mr Verheugen made his remarks trading standards officials from Hackney Council, supported by two police officers, arrived at Mrs Devers's market stall to confiscate two sets of imperial, non-metric scales.

Today, at Thames Magistrates' Court, in the first UK prosecution since the EU ruling, she was convicted of using imperial scales without an official stamp and selling scotch bonnet peppers, okra, pak choi and peppers in bowls for $2 without giving the quantity or weight of produce in the bowl.

The pensioner was given a two-year conditional discharge, although magistrates accepted that she was only trying to offer customers value for money. Dr Patrick Davies, chairman of the bench, said: 'We note that you said you were doing this in the interests of your customers, although you ought to have known you were breaking the law in doing so.'

Outside court Mrs Devers said: 'I'm incredibly worried about my financial future. I can't believe they prosecuted me for something that every market trader in London - in the UK - is doing. I've been made a scapegoat. 'The fact that they have given me a conditional discharge just shows that they think it is a big mistake to take me to court. 'Having a criminal record means I can't go and see my cousins in America. My daughter wants to go and live out there which means I might not see her. It's farcical.'

A spokesman for Hackney Council said: 'We are satisfied with the outcome of this case, but regret that legal action is required. It would have been much better if Mrs Devers had complied with the law 18 months ago.'


$340,000 a year is spent on an Afghan single mother... A story that sums up the howling insanity of modern Britain

One person who will not be losing any sleep over the impact of the financial crisis is Toorpakai Saiedi, an Afghan mother of seven living in West London and receiving $340,000 a year in benefits. While millions worry about the prospect of losing their jobs, their homes, their savings and their pensions, she is luxuriating in a $2.4 million double-fronted, seven-bedroom Edwardian villa - her staggering rent of more than $24,000 a month picked up by the British taxpayer. Ealing Council has a statutory duty to find accommodation for the family. But because it didn't have anything big enough on its books, it approached a private letting agent - and then agreed a rent five times the going rate.

Saiedi says: 'It's like winning the lottery. It's a lot of money but the council pay it.' This incredible 'Local Housing Allowance' was calculated under new rules introduced in April and is supposed to reflect the market rate, the claimant's income and the number of people living in the house. It's all explained in a leaflet printed in English, Polish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and scribble. I can't even understand the one written in English. Nor work out how they arrived at a rent of 12,458 pounds - when a comparable property in the same street was recently let for 2,500 pounds.

But Mrs Saiedi isn't complaining and neither is her lucky landlord, Ajit Panesar, who is getting the same kind of return from a refugee living in a scruffy suburb as the Duke of Westminster would receive from a maharajah leasing a mansion in Mayfair.

If ever a single news story summed up the howling insanity of Brown's Britain, this surely has to be it. It's difficult to decide on what precise level this lunacy is most outrageous. After the Afghan aircraft hijackers landed at Stansted in 2000, I wrote that in five years' time, they'd still be here. Who could have guessed then that eight years on there would be an estimated 75,000 Afghans in Britain. That's just those we know about. It is not recorded how many of them are working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy and how many, like the Saiedi clan, are living off the State.

Around the time of the hijack, I even invented a spoof game show called ASYLUM!, which is still doing the rounds on the internet. The premise was that all you needed to do was turn up in Britain, utter the magic word 'asylum' and you would be shown directly to a council house and showered with benefits. It was supposed to be a joke, not a template for government. But that is pretty much what Labour's open- door, no-questions-asked immigration policy has amounted to.

We all accept that Britain has a responsibility to take in some of the world's genuine refugees. But the reason we get more than our fair share is because we are both a soft touch and an international laughing stock.

Let me make it clear, I don't blame anyone for coming here to make a better life. But I can't help wondering: if it were not for the lavish benefits on offer how many would bother, when they would clearly be happier in a country with which they were more culturally aligned. It's not the fault of immigrants, or even those international terrorists who set up shop here, that they are allowed to take advantage of our perverse welfare and legal system. It is the fault of those who make the rules and decide how they should be enforced - or not, as the case may be.

Mass immigration is one of the main reasons we have a housing crisis. Council stock has run out. And with local authorities prepared to pay $25,000 a month to private landlords to house an eight-strong family of Afghans, what chance has a local young couple got of ever finding reasonably-priced accommodation?

Given that the explanatory leaflet is printed in so many different languages, it is probably right to assume that the council expects the overwhelming demand for housing benefit to come from foreign nationals....

I sometimes think there are two Britains - one where most of us live and another which the government runs. In this parallel public sector universe, the party never ends. I'm sure the benefit office didn't think twice about doling out $2,500 a month to house the Saiedis. After all, it's not their money. And there's never been any indication that the tap is going to be turned off. The public sector is awash with money. Gordon Brown has hosed them down with our hard-earned cash. Government spending has more than doubled in the past ten years.

And when it looked as if the money was going to run out, Gordon just went on a borrowing spree - which is one of the reasons the International Monetary Fund says Britain is uniquely ill-equipped to cope with the credit crunch.

Officially, there are another 800,000 on the public payroll under Labour, but add in those 'working' for quangos and you can bet it's well over a million. The Guardian jobs supplement yesterday was again offering the usual exciting range of opportunities for 'cluster managers' and 'support facilitators' - salaries up to 86,000 pounds and one for yourself. One in five now works for the State. Not for them the harsh economic realities of the private sector, protected as they are by their taxpayer-funded, gold-plated pensions and index-linked pay packets.

While firms go to the wall every day, there's never any suggestion of clearing out the inefficient, eye-wateringly expensive, unproductive legions of supernumeraries cluttering up town halls and government offices. They spend their days dreaming up new ways to interfere in our lives and waste our money. Any hint that there may have to be economies and Labour, the unions and the BBC start screaming about ' schools'n'ospitals' and 'Tory cuts' and the proposals are quietly abandoned.

At the Conservative conference, George Osborne said that to help people out in difficult times, increases in council tax - which has doubled under Labour - should be capped at 2 per cent. Capped? It should be cut by at least 50 per cent. Councils, predictably, went berserk and said they wouldn't co-operate. They have become addicted to spending and have been encouraged by a profligate government which thinks that at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty it's a good idea to pay an Afghan family $340,000 a year in benefits so they can live in a house way beyond both their means and their wildest dreams. Your best bet for beating the credit crunch is getting a job in government or claiming to be an Afghan asylum seeker.

In the words of Toorpakai Saiedi: 'It's like winning the lottery.' And she didn't even have to buy a ticket. We are all going to hell in a handcart.



By Richard Rahn

Are all too many in the global political class doltish, or do they just appear that way? The current financial meltdown has revealed an amazing number of revelations from people who were surprised by the obvious.

For years, liberal Democrats in Congress and some Republicans pushed for banks and other institutions to make home loans to unqualified borrowers, and suddenly we find many of these people cannot repay their loans.

The reaction from members of Congress, like the "surprised" Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is to demand investigation of "greedy bankers," while ignoring the fact that it was her left-wing colleagues who created the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) that required the banks to lend to people who were poor credit risks in the name of "housing rights." A Chicago "public interest" lawyer named Barack Hussein Obama was active in this movement.

A majority of members of Congress seemed to be surprised that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became insolvent when many of the subprime mortgages they had been pressured to buy (by members of their oversight committees such as Barney Frank and Chris Dodd) became nonperforming.

Some members of Congress (including John McCain) did try to pass legislation to limit the size of Fannie and Freddie, but it was blocked by - surprise, surprise - Rep. Frank and Sens. Dodd, Charles Schumer, Barack Hussein Obama, who just happened to have taken major contributions from Freddie and Fannie.

Mr. Obama was particularly surprised when some charged that his nonsupport of the reform legislation might have had something to do with the fact he was the second-largest recipient of campaign donations from Fannie Mae over the last three years. Oh my, how could we possibly think such a thing?

It only gets worse. Most members of Congress seemed surprised that voters think the huge campaign contributions many of them received from Fannie and Freddie might have something to do with the now all too apparent lack of congressional oversight of the two mortgage giants.

The endlessly surprised Mrs. Pelosi ranted against the "privatization of profits and the socialization of costs" in Fannie and Freddie. She must have forgotten that Fannie and Freddie was created and overseen by Congress, and staffed by political appointees (former Fannie CEO Franklin Raines was Bill Clinton's budget chief), and had an implicit (and now explicit) guarantee from the federal government.

Alan Greenspan seems to have been surprised to find out that when he kept interest rates below the rate of inflation, banks over-borrowed and were less careful as to how they lent or invested the money. This "surprise" occurred despite the fact many warned of the consequence.

Former and thoroughly disgraced New York Attorney General and Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his political supporters seemed to have been surprised to learn the company would run into difficulty when they forced out the very able and highly regarded Hank Greenberg as head of AIG (the world's largest insurance company) - on bogus charges of criminality (which have now been dismissed by the courts) - and saddled the company with less competent management and unwarranted huge fines.

Rather than protect AIG stockholders, the government raped them.

Political officials outside the United States are also endlessly surprised. For instance, the Russian prime minister seems to be surprised that the Russian stock market has fallen to half its value in May - just because Vladimir Putin has eroded the legal and property rights of private firms, invaded Georgia, and threatened other countries and outside investors.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems surprised that businesses and international business people are fleeing London just because he increased their taxes. He also seems to be surprised the flight has hurt the British economy.

The French, German, Italian and leaders of other high-tax states seem to be endlessly surprised that their citizens will go to great lengths to put their money in less punitive and higher growth economies elsewhere, despite increasing attempts to punish them for looking out for their own self-interest.

Predictable surprises to come: Mr. Obama, if elected, will be greatly "surprised" that his increased taxes on capital gains, businesses and higher-income individuals result in less revenue for government because of the downturn in economic activity and job loss that results from his tax increases.

Michigan's Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and his colleagues, including Mr. Obama, who are supporting greater restrictions on U.S. investment abroad and higher taxes on U.S.-based international companies, will be very "surprised" when their actions cause not less but more capital flight from the United States and more businesses to move or be formed outside the United States.

Some politicians are "surprised" at the obvious because they are ignorant. However, many more are "surprised" because immediate gratification, whether applause or votes, is more important to them than being responsible, and others are "surprised" because they are just plain corrupt.

Being "surprised by the obvious" happens in democratic countries because the media are too fearful, ignorant or biased to ask the tough questions beforehand, and because the population doesn't understand the second-order effects of political actions.

In the private sector, those with fiduciary responsibilities can be fined or even sent to jail if they are surprised by the obvious. Given the great suffering caused by the fiscal mismanagement by the political class, should not the private sector penalties apply to them?



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, October 09, 2008

California brings back 'bride' and 'groom' on marriage licences after gender neutral drive fails

Marvellous what publicity does. It's just about the only defence against arrogant bureaucrats

The bride and groom are back in California. State health officials say the traditional words "bride" and "groom" will reappear on all marriage license applications issued in California starting next month. The change is being made because many couples still wanted the option of identifying themselves in such terms - even after same-sex marriages were legalised in the state, the California Department of Public Health said.

When same-sex marriage became legal on June 16, the health department issued new gender-neutral marriage forms with the words "Party A" and "Party B" where "bride" and "groom" used to be. The latest paperwork, which county clerks will be required to use starting November 17, will have blank spaces for applicants' names and personal information next to the words "First Person Data" and "Second Person Data" and boxes for checking "bride" or "groom." Because "bride" and "groom" appear in both sections, couples could check the same title twice to reflect a union between two men or two women.

Eliminating "bride" and "groom" from marriage certificates was a step the department thought it had to take to comply with the California Supreme Court decision in June that legalised same-sex marriage, spokeswoman Suanne Buggy said yesterday. But in the time since, state officials have looked for alternatives to satisfy couples who did not like the ring of "Party A" and "Party B," she said.

California and Massachusetts are the only U.S. states that allow gay marriages. Some other states let same-sex couples enter into civil unions offering some of marriage's legal advantages. California has an initiative on the November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage


Turning Sarah Palin into a twenty-first century witch

In our era of lifestyle politics, the PC moral crusade against Palin exposes the cosmopolitan elite's contempt for the common people

So, Sarah Palin or her vicious, spiteful critics - who is worse? As a libertarian humanist, I find Palin's prejudices about creationism and family life troubling. And I am always disturbed when politicians cynically pretend that they are just `regular guys' or `hockey moms'. Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to picking a candidate for the vice president of the United States, I am less interested in the individual's mothering identity than in her policies.

That is also why I find the attacks on Palin for her role as a mother so nauseating, too. As an advocate of choice in reproductive matters, and in the conduct of personal morality, I strongly disagree with Palin. However, I find myself in the strange position of disagreeing even more with her critics, who seek to dehumanise her and cast her in the role of a twenty-first century witch.

Feminists used to complain that in medieval times it was mainly women who were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. Now many of them have signed up to a vicious internet-driven witch-hunting club against Palin. In their obsessive desire to expose the `real' Palin, they have even tried to crucify her for `wanting it all'! She `returns to work three days after giving birth', exclaims one feminist, adding that Palin is `living the life of a caricature of the feminist who "wants it all"'.

`After the birth of her fifth child, she was back in the office after a few days', complains Sally Quinn of the Washington Post. Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, asks: `How does [Palin] square her role as a mother and a politician?'

When did the aspiration to combine motherhood with a successful career become a focus for the hatred of so-called progressives and feminists? In their opportunistic denunciation of Palin, many of her critics reveal their own barely concealed sense of envy. Take the good Reverend Debra W Haffner, who finds it `hard to imagine how a new mother of a five-month-old baby, no less one with special needs, is running a state, no less a national campaign'. In a distinctly mean-spirited tone, she adds: `Maybe it's gotten a lot easier since I had mine.' This woman of the cloth, who describes herself as a `minister and a sexologist', has no problem with denouncing Palin for putting her career ahead of her family. `My family values - and the decisions I've made throughout my career - have always put challenging times in my family first', Haffner boasts. From Haffner's perspective, a mother pursuing a serious career means putting children and family second.

It seems that even fervent advocates of women's rights will adopt outdated and chauvinistic moral rhetoric when targeting a woman they do not like. Jane Smiley castigates Palin for her `bitchy and arrogant point of view', which is apparently a `characteristic of all conservative women'. `The bitch is in there', observes this signed-up member of the otherwise sophisticated American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The reaction to Palin suggests that many supporters of the pro-choice lobby have adopted a radically new definition of choice. It now means `choose what we think is good', otherwise you will be denounced as a feckless breeder or an irresponsible mother. Jane Smiley took it upon herself to question Palin's right to have a child at the ripe old age of 44. Smiley the prescriptive inquisitor asks: `If she produces a child at 44, I want to know if she believes in birth control.'

Other pro-choice commentators find it incomprehensible that a 44-year-old woman would choose to give birth to a child in the first place. `I think getting knocked up when you're 44, at the peak of your career and [when you] already have four children, is more than slightly narcissistic', writes the blogger Molly Lambert. Lambert also seems to believe that Palin has only herself to blame for the fact that her youngest child has Down's Syndrome. `I am not saying that being old gets you a retarded baby, but it certainly doesn't help', she observes helpfully.

In its `Top Ten Most Disturbing Facts and Impressions of Sarah Palin', the popular liberal magazine AlterNet seems adamant that Palin `takes unnecessary risks with the health of her child'. Progressive America, it seems, is now in the business of moralising about how a mother ought to manage her pregnancies. Palin apparently has `taken unnecessary risks in the delivery of her child', and as far as AlterNet is concerned she is not fit to be a mother, never mind a serious political candidate.

This sentiment is echoed by Bonnie Fuller on The Huffington Post, who asks if Palin is `ready to take the mantle of the worst mother of the year'. For AlterNet, Palin's `uber-motherhood' is a fa‡ade since she is the `right's version of what a strong woman should look like'. Evidently, right-wing women can be treated as white trash by an otherwise morally refined and `progressive' online publication.

Others condemn Palin for allowing her 17-year-old daughter to get pregnant and for not being embarrassed by this `family secret'. For Bonnie Fuller, one of Palin's crimes is her attempt to `normalise' her daughter's pregnancy. `She opposes sex education and her daughter is pregnant', writes the Democratic Party's favourite academic George Lakoff. As far as he is concerned, that alone is proof of Palin's moral inferiority.

America's cultural elite sometimes expresses its contempt for simple-minded ordinary folk - yet when it comes to circulating rumours and conspiracy theories, this elite can outdo the most gullible, poorly-educated of America's `trailer trash'. Spreading the rumour that Palin's youngest son (Trig) is really the offspring of her daughter (Bristol), one reproductive advocate employed by the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in Pittsburgh writes: `My own sicko scenario: Trig is Bristol's baby.' Others speculate that Palin has cynically encouraged her 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy in order to use her as a poster child for her own anti-abortion and abstinence-only education policies.

The virulence of the language used by the anti-Palin crusaders reflects the contempt with which the American cosmopolitan elite regards common people. Such explicit denunciations of ordinary people's morality and lifestyles by self-confessed progressive or liberal commentators are rare today, at a time when American culture professes to be non-judgmental and tolerant - certainly such vicious stereotyping would be condemned if it was directed at minorities or any other section of society apart from `rednecks'. That is why, normally, such top-down contempt is expressed through euphemisms and nods and winks.

In the US, terms such as `Nascar Dads', `Valley Girls', `Joe six-pack' or `redneck' have become codewords for the white working classes or the `underclass'. In Britain, commentators use different phrases for undesirable sections of society: `chavs', `white van man', `Worcester Woman', `tabloid readers'. These are the kind of people who do not write for The Huffington Post and whose lifestyles are looked upon as alien by the very high-minded cultural elites. The very fact that `these people' breed, are unashamedly carnivorous, are not on a diet, sometimes drink beer, sometimes smoke and sometimes partake in even cruder pleasures of life means they cannot be treated as the moral equals of their cosmopolitan superiors.

The invective hurled at Palin is directed not at her politics, but at her lifestyle. This shows that the real dividing line in the American election is not between left and right, but between competing lifestyles. Indeed, the politicisation of lifestyle has become one the most distinctive features of American public life today. Some seem to take their lifestyles so seriously that they do not simply disagree with people who have a different outlook to them - rather they heap contempt and loathing on those who possess different manners, habits and values.

What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms. These passionate denunciations suggest that some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel that their very identity - as expressed through their lifestyles - is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, sexual behaviour or any other issue. That is why the denunciation of Palin has assumed such an intensely personal and bitter character. When lifestyle becomes politicised, the new breed of politically-correct moral crusaders cannot help but embrace the language and approach of the witch hunters of old.


Poll: Young Voters in CA opposing homosexual "marriage"

A new CBS 5 poll finds that California's Proposition 8 has picked up support in the wake of a television ad campaign that features footage of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaiming same-sex marriage is here to stay "whether you like it or not." The poll conducted for CBS 5 by SurveyUSA indicates that support for the measure to ban gay marriage has grown among voters in the state over an eleven day period -- most especially among young voters.

According to the poll, likely California voters overall now favor passage of Proposition 8 by a five-point margin, 47 percent to 42 percent. Ironically, a CBS 5 poll eleven days prior found a five-point margin in favor of the measure's opponents. The only demographic group to significantly change their views during this period were younger voters -- considered the hardest to poll and the most unpredictable voters -- who now support the measure after previously opposing it.

It should be noted that the poll, conducted statewide Oct. 4 and 5 among 670 likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent, and the pollster continued to label the race too close to call -- just as it did eleven days ago. "Polling on ballot measures in general is an inexact science, and polling on homosexuality in general is a tricky business. So, not too much should be made of the 5 points that separates 'Yes' and 'No' today," concluded a summary of the results prepared by SurveyUSA.

Unchanged from the two recent polls: Those in the Inland Empire and the Central Valley continue to back Proposition 8, while those in the Bay Area remain opposed. Those in the greater Los Angeles area also remained largely split.

Not surprisingly, support for a gay marriage ban was strongest among those who considered themselves conservatives and identified themselves as regular churchgoers. Opposition was strongest amongst liberals and those who are less religious.


Unending attempts to appease Iran have failed

Just as they failed with Adolf. Democrats have been "talking" to Iran since Carter

In response to a casual question, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dropped a historical bombshell, an offhand remark telling more about how the Middle East works than 100 books. And a former Marine commander adds an equally big revelation about long-ago events quite relevant for today.

Almost thirty years ago, President Jimmy Carter tried to show what a nice guy he was by pressing the Shah not to crush the revolutionaries. After the monarch fell, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski met top officials of the new Islamist regime to pledge U.S. friendship to the government controlled by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. At the time, I wrote that by approaching some of the milder radicals, the administration frightened the more militant ones. U.S.-Iran relations must be smashed, they concluded, lest Washington back their rivals. In fact, as we'll see in a moment, the Carter administration offered to back Khomeini himself.

Three days after the Brzezinski meeting, in November 1979, the Islamist regime's cadre seized the U.S. embassy and its staff as hostages, holding them until January 1981. This was our introduction to the new Middle East of radical Islamism. Carter continued his weak stance, persuading the Tehran regime that it could get away with anything.

So we've long known that undermining U.S. allies, passivity toward anti-American radicals, and inaction after a massive terrorist act against Americans didn't work. The hostages were only released because Iran was suffering desperately from an Iraqi invasion and feared Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, as someone likely to be tougher.

The lesson of being strong in defending interests and combating enemies has not quite been learned. Today, the opposite is the mainstream prescription for success and the United States may be about to elect a president whose world view parallels the way Carter worked.

Here's where Gates comes in. On September 29, while giving a lecture at the National Defense University in Washington DC, someone asked him how the next president might improve relations with Iran. Gates responded: "I have been involved in the search for the elusive Iranian moderate for 30 years." Then Gates revealed what was actually said at Brzezinski's meeting, in which he participated, summarizing Brzezinski's position as follows: "We will accept your revolution....We will recognize your government. We will sell you all the weapons that we had contracted to sell the Shah....We can work together in the future."

The Iranians demanded the United States turn over to them the fugitive Shah, who they would have executed. Brzezinski refused. Three days later Iran seized the embassy and forever changed the Middle East. The road thus paved led to the Iran-Iraq and Iraq-Kuwait wars, the power of Hamas and Hizballah, September 11, 2001, and a great deal more. Many thousands would die due to American timidity and Iranian aggressiveness.

Had the United States been a mean bully in its treatment of the new Islamist Iran? The On the contrary, Washington did everything possible to negotiate, conciliate, and build confidence. We'll do almost anything you want, Carter and Brzezinski offered, just be our friend. Far from being appeased Iran demanded such a total humiliation--turning over the fatally ill, deposed Shah for execution--even that administration couldn't accept it.

Far from persuading Khomeini that the United States was a real threat, the U.S. government made itself appear a pitiful, helpless giant, convincing Tehran--as Khomeini put it--America couldn't do a damn thing. His revolution and ideology was too strong for it.

So why should we expect such a tactic could work today? How long does it take to get the message: this is an ideological revolution with huge ambitions to which America is inevitably a barrier. Appeasement, talks, apologies, confidence-building measures won't convince Tehran that America is its friend, only that it's an enemy so weak as to make aggression seem inevitably successful.

The only U.S. precondition has been that to get a high-level dialogue, Iran must first stop its drive for nuclear weapons, at least temporarily. Gates understands what happened: "Every administration since then has reached out to the Iranians in one way or another and all have failed....The reality is the Iranian leadership has been consistently unyielding over a very long period of time in response to repeated overtures from the United States about having a different and better kind of relationship."

This situation is quite parallel to efforts to have reasonable preconditions with the Palestinians--stop terrorism, incitement, clearly accept a two-state solution--or with Syria--stop sponsoring terrorism, cease trying to take over Lebanon, and accept normal relations with Israel as the outcome of peace. Similar bargains have been offered Hamas and Hizballah. Yet even this is too much for the other side and too much for those who continue trying to undermine any Western leverage on radical forces.

If the other side won't give anything, they insist, merely offer more. And if the other side takes those concessions, pockets them, gives nothing in return, and continues their behavior, this merely proves you have to give still more.

Here's more evidence why that's wrong. Former U.S. Marine Colonel Timothy Geraghty was Marine commander in October 1983 when suicide bombers attacked the barracks of U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut, killing 242 Americans. He now reveals that a September 26, 1983 U.S. intelligence intercept showed Iran's government ordering the attack through its embassy in Lebanon. The timid response to that operation set a pattern leading directly to the September 11 attack.

Three decades after the miserable failure of the make-friends-with-Islamist-Iran policy--including offering Khomeini continued U.S. arms' supplies for goodness sake!--isn't it time to learn this simple lesson?



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Religion can spur goodness, but it depends

While allegedly about religion in general, I get the impression that the data below in fact stem from studies of Judeo-Christian religions. Many non-Christian societies are however co-operative and orderly, Japan, for instance. But treating all religions as the same seems quite crass. I think the only really interesting question is which religions have what effects and why

Belief in God encourages people to be helpful, honest and generous -- but only when religious thoughts are fresh in their minds or when such behavior enhances reputation, researchers say.

Those are the conclusions of a study based on an analysis of research spanning the past three decades. The study, by Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff at the University of British Columbia in Canada, appears in the Oct. 3 issue of the research journal Science.

The paper first reviews data from anthropology, sociology, psychology and economics. The authors then explore how religion, by encouraging cooperation, contributed to the rise of large, stable societies of unrelated individuals. Among the findings:

Anthropological data suggests there is more cooperation among religious societies than others, especially when group survival is threatened.

Economic experiments indicate that religiosity increases trust among participants.

Psychology experiments show that thoughts of an omniscient, morally concerned God reduce levels of cheating and selfish behaviour. "Religiouslymotivated `virtuous' behaviour has likely played a vital social role throughout history," said Shariff, a doctoral student. "One reason we now have large, cooperative societies may be that some aspects of religion such as outsourcing costly social policing duties to allpowerful Gods made societies work more cooperatively in the past."

Across time, observe the authors, the notion of an allpowerful, morally concerned "big God" usually begat "big groups" large-scale, stable societies that successfully passed on their cultural beliefs.

Today, religion has no monopoly on kindness and generosity, the researchers noted: in many findings, non-believers acted as helpfully as believers. The last several centuries have seen the rise of non-religious mechanisms that include effective policing, courts and social surveillance. "Some of the most cooperative modern societies are also the most secular," said Norenzayan. "People have found other ways to be cooperative without God." [I think it remains to be seen how effective that is. Crime levels in socialist Britain are not encouraging, for instance]


Christianity growing in China

ZHAO XIAO, a former Communist Party official and convert to Christianity, smiles over a cup of tea and says he thinks there are up to 130m Christians in China. This is far larger than previous estimates. The government says there are 21m (16m Protestants, 5m Catholics). Unofficial figures, such as one given by the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in Massachusetts, put the number at about 70m. But Mr Zhao is not alone in his reckoning. A study of China by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an American think-tank, says indirect survey evidence suggests many unaffiliated Christians are not in the official figures. And according to China Aid Association (CAA), a Texas-based lobby group, the director of the government body which supervises all religions in China said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130m in early 2008.

If so, it would mean China contains more Christians than Communists (party membership is 74m) and there may be more active Christians in China than in any other country. In 1949, when the Communists took power, less than 1% of the population had been baptised, most of them Catholics. Now the largest, fastest-growing number of Christians belong to Protestant "house churches".

In a suburb of Shanghai, off Haining Road, neighbours peer warily across the hallway as visitors file into a living room, bringing the number to 25, the maximum gathering allowed by law without official permission. Inside, young urban professionals sit on sofas and folding chairs. A young woman in a Che Guevara T-shirt blesses the group and a man projects material downloaded from the internet from his laptop onto the wall. Heads turn towards the display and sing along: "Glory, Glory Glory; Holy, Holy, Holy; God is near to each one of us." It is Sunday morning, and worship is beginning in one of thousands of house churches across China.

House churches are small congregations who meet privately-usually in apartments-to worship away from the gaze of the Communist Party. In the 1950s, the Catholic and main Protestant churches were turned into branches of the religious-affairs administration. House churches have an unclear status, neither banned nor fully approved of. As long as they avoid neighbourly confrontation and keep their congregations below a certain size (usually about 25), the Protestant ones are mostly tolerated, grudgingly. Catholic ones are kept under closer scrutiny, reflecting China's tense relationship with the Vatican.

Private meetings in the houses of the faithful were features of the early Christian church, then seeking to escape Roman imperial persecution. Paradoxically, the need to keep congregations small helped spread the faith. That happens in China now. The party, worried about the spread of a rival ideology, faces a difficult choice: by keeping house churches small, it ensures that no one church is large enough to threaten the local party chief. But the price is that the number of churches is increasing.

The church in Shanghai is barely two years old but already has two offspring, one for workers in a multinational company, the other for migrant labourers. As well as spreading the Word, the proliferation of churches provides a measure of defence against intimidation. One pastor told the Far Eastern Economic Review last year that if the head of one house church was arrested, "the congregation would just split up and might break into five, six or even ten new house churches."

Abundant church-creation is a blessing and a curse for the house-church movement, too. The smiling Mr Zhao says finance is no problem. "We don't have salaries to pay or churches to build." But "management quality" is hard to maintain. Churches can get hold of Bibles or download hymn books from the internet. They cannot so easily find experienced pastors. "In China", says one, "the two-year-old Christian teaches the one-year-old."

Because most Protestant house churches are non-denominational (that is, not affiliated with Lutherans, Methodists and so on), they have no fixed liturgy or tradition. Their services are like Bible-study classes. This puts a heavy burden on the pastor. One of the Shanghai congregation who has visited a lot of house churches sighs with relief that "this pastor knows what he is talking about."

Still, the teething troubles of the church are minor compared with the vast rise in the number of Christians. After the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 many disenchanted democrats turned to Christianity: six of the 30 or so student leaders of the protests became Christians. China's new house churches have the zeal of converts: many members bring their families and co-workers. One Confucian Chinese says with a rueful smile that most of the pretty girls at university were Christians-and would date only other Christians.

Christianity also follows Chinese migration. Many Christians studied in America, converted there and brought their new faith home. Several of the congregation of the Shanghai house church studied abroad, as did Mr Zhao. In 2000, says one Beijing writer and convert, most believers were in the countryside. After 2000 they brought their faith into the cities, spreading Christianity among intellectuals.

All this amounts to something that Europeans, at least, may find surprising. In much of Christianity's former heartland, religion is associated with tradition and ritual. In China, it is associated with modernity, business and science. "We are first-generation Christians and first-generation businessmen," says one house-church pastor. In a widely debated article in 2006, Mr Zhao wrote that "the market economy discourages idleness. [But] it cannot discourage people from lying or causing harm. A strong faith discourages dishonesty and injury." Christianity and the market economy, in his view, go hand in hand.

So far, Christianity's spread has been largely a private matter for individual believers. The big question is whether it can remain private. The extent of its growth and the number of its adherents would suggest not. But at the moment, both Christians and Communists seem willing to let a certain ambiguity linger a while longer.

"Christians are willing to stay within the system," says Mr Zhao. "Christianity is also the basis for good citizenship in China." Most Christians say that theirs is not a political organisation and they are not seeking to challenge the party. But they also say clashes with public policy are inevitable: no Christian, one argues, should accept the one-child policy, for example.

Formally, the Communist Party forbids members to hold a religious belief, and the churches say they suffer official harassment. The president of the Beijing house-church alliance, Zhang Mingxuan, was thrown out of the capital before the Olympic games and told he was unwelcome when he returned. In early June, the state government of Henan arrested half a dozen house-church members on charges of illegally sending charitable donations to Sichuan earthquake victims. CAA claims harassment of house churches is rising.

In fact, the state's attitude seems ambivalent. In December 2007, President Hu Jintao held a meeting with religious leaders and told them that "the knowledge of religious people must be harnessed to build a prosperous society." The truth is that Christians and Communists are circling each other warily. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Christianity will have a political impact one day. "If you want to know what China will be like in the future," concludes Mr Zhao, "you have to consider the future of Christianity in China."


The Great Boomer Comeuppance

My cohort, the sainted Boomer generation, now rules this country and its institutions. The elite of this generation, graduates of the finest schools, cosmopolitan in taste and sensibility, and left-liberal in political and cultural allegiance -- have always been counted the smartest people in the room (just ask them).

Now these new Masters of the Universe have made a shambles of the US and world financial system. This is, to be sure, not the construction put upon things by the main stream media, but it is plainly the case. The current market turmoil is a product of every bad trait the Boomer Elite has long exhibited in other social and political contexts: unbridled greed and hubris, exorbitant self-regard, breathtaking recklessness, insatiable appetite for immediate gratification, and a rollicking sense of entitlement.

We are seeing in the Wall Street implosion the inevitable result of the Boomer Elite outlook and the behavior it spawned. Storied investment banks were being run on 40 to 1 leverage. Fancy new securities were designed and widely disseminated whose terms are opaque even to highly knowledgeable and experienced hands. Mortgage securitization techniques were developed which, our bettors assured us, would magically spread risk and thus stabilize the financial system. However, simultaneously with these brilliant innovations, lenders were being forced -- by Boomer Elite congressmen with an aching love of the poor and oppressed unique to themselves -- to loan to uncreditworthy borrowers at subprime rates and without adequate documentation. These loans, packaged into securities together with standard, performing loans, rendered unknowable the value of the securities, leading to mandatory write downs and drastic capital impairment or outright insolvency for many very large firms. Given the high degree of integration of the international financial system, critical destabilization was the real result of this confluence of Master of the Universe genius and Boomer Elite turpitude.

The unwillingness of the rest of us to underwrite the moral excesses of the Boomer Elite perfectly enrages them. So, today, the rest of us are being screamed at. In fact, the barrel of a gun is being pressed to our temple. It is demanded that we play our accustomed role of sheep to the slaughter. We are told we must funnel the better part of a trillion dollars to the fantastically imprudent, self-dealing Wall Streeters that gave us the mess, and that we must also chip in the odd tens of billions more on pet lefty projects with which the Boomer Elite, with characteristic cynicism, lard up the package.

Our efforts to be responsible citizens in this crisis are ridiculed and shouted down: exclude from the bail-out the pork and the payoffs to interest groups? How dare we! Include measures that might actually spur badly needed growth in the tough times now surely coming, like cuts in capital gains and corporate taxes? Leave the room!

This is all merely typical of the smug, cocksure Boomer Elite. This is a group that breaks things. It has set the wrecking ball to institutions that are the essential glue of our society (marriage and the family), the basis of our political system (federalism and the separation of powers), the engine of our prosperity (the free market), the guarantor of our freedom (the military), and the glory of our history (the Constitution, participatory democracy).

Although our Masters of the Universe insist we credit them as moral paragons, they are among the most luxury loving, wealth flaunting population ever seen in the world. Whenever a Hollywood celebutard mouths some perfect imbecility in front of a camera, it is sure to be done from a five star resort hotel or on the red carpet of one of those absurdly frequent self-congratulation festivals. The silk tie, moussed hair crowd on Wall Street is no better. If the extent of the naked short selling, self dealing and market manipulation that has actually gone on these last few years were ever to become generally known, it would indict this crew all by itself. And it cannot be said enough: this crowd is heavily on the left and mostly in the Democratic Party. The cigar chomping, pin-striped caricature of a GOP money man has been false to the Wall Street facts for some time, though the left continues to furiously peddle that image.

The Boomer Elite's tired liberal nostrums are continually falsified by reality but, more and more embittered by the refusal of the world to conform to their dictates, they double down, trying to impose more lefty palliatives upon us, measures sure to be flatly unconstitutional, un-American, and disastrously counterproductive all at once. This is a blindly and viciously destructive cohort. They have degraded our common culture, warped our constitution to suit their purposes, and stand ready to subvert our very nationhood to the pipe dream of the Euro-left. Now they have brought our economy to the brink.

This crisis is, at bottom, about self government in two senses and the Boomer Elite is against both. On the macro level, they don't want the American people to govern themselves under the terms of the Constitution of 1789, preferring to rule over us by anti-democratic means wherever possible, and to the full extent possible. On the micro level, being Rousseau's children, they abjure governing their own appetites, and bid everyone act likewise. The Boomer Elite ideal is a sort of Directorate in the political system and economy, moral anarchy in personal conduct, and a quasi-totalitarian PC regime in societal relations. It is bad character as a manifesto, and tsarism as a mode of governance.

Some of the sane knew it all along, but for many others a stunning realization is only now dawning. Much of the vaunted wealth creation of the last 20 years was a mirage, and the ballyhooed processes of wealth creation were themselves largely a scam, no more than the discounted cash flow of the borrowed future.

We must shudder to think how little of our civilization may remain standing when the Boomer Elite finally, mercifully, passes from the scene.


Muslim lies retracted

Following his earlier apology to Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, Irfan Yusuf has a second time retracted his defamatory statement about Mr. Pipes.

On August 18, 2008, the New Zealand Herald, published Yusuf's "Karadzic trial gives chance to rein in Muslim hardliners." In it, Yusuf mentioned a speech Mr. Pipes delivered to a dinner hosted by Quadrant magazine earlier this year which was subsequently published as "Europe or Eurabia?" in the Australian newspaper. Yusuf incorrectly stated that in his speech, Mr. Pipes had

* predicted Europe's next Holocaust victims would be Muslim migrants.

* Frighteningly, Pipes suggested that Muslims thoroughly deserved such slaughter.

Upon receipt of Mr. Pipes's protest against this disgusting distortion, Irfan Yusuf and the New Zealand Herald agreed to issue a public correction, retraction, and apology, which appeared on p A3 of the newspaper's print edition and also in the online version, both as a stand-alone correction and accompanying the amended article by Yusuf:

* The author, Irfan Yusuf, and the Herald accept that Mr Pipes has never predicted nor has he ever endorsed a Holocaust of European Muslims and they unreservedly apologise to him for the errors.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Britain's heartless and rigid socialist bureaucracy again

Not a hint of any human kindness, decency or fellow-feeling: Politicized police refuse to allow mother to lay flowers at death scene of her young sons

The mother of two young children killed in a fire at their family home has been marched away by police after trying to lay flowers on her own doorstep. Denise Goldsmith, 29, said she wanted to pay tribute to her sons Lewis, seven, and Taylor, five, who died when a blaze broke out at their house in the coastal town of Eastbourne, Sussex. The mother was locked out of the property on Saturday afternoon while her children were trapped inside as the flames tore through the house.

She returned to the scene yesterday, and witnesses said that she became hysterical when police told her she could not pass a cordon while forensics teams worked at the property. She pleaded: "Let me in, I need to leave these flowers for my boys. I need to get through, this is my home."

Mrs Goldsmith and members of her family then hit out at officers, according to witnesses, and were led back to their car and advised to leave. A forensic investigator finally retrieved the bunch of flowers, which had been dropped on the road, and placed it on the doorstep behind the cordon.

Jason Maynard, 35, who attempted to save the children, revealed their "devastating" last moments. He said that Mrs Goldsmith had run out of the house to seek help tackling the fire - leaving the children inside - but had locked herself out when the front door slammed behind her. The boys were left trapped inside. Mr Maynard, who was in a neighbouring house when he heard shouting and went outside, said: "The mother was outside on the path, just screaming the place down. She couldn't get back in. "She told me her kids were playing inside, under the stairs. She was screaming, please save my kids, get them out, my kids, my kids, my kids. "The kids wouldn't have been able to reach the door latch to let themselves out. They were just trapped."

The witness said that attempts to break into the house were futile. "The kitchen had already caught fire. The house was just full of flames and there was a huge amount of smoke. "There was nothing we could do. When the fire brigade turned up they battered the door down and went inside, then brought the kids' bodies out and laid them on the pavement. "It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Linda Carey, a friend of the children's father, Stuart Jenkins, said: "Both Stuart and Denise absolutely doted on those boys. I have no idea how she must be feeling right now. "Doctors have put her on sedatives to calm her down. But she must be absolutely torn apart."


Cultural pride

This month we celebrate the achievements and history of Hispanics and Hispanic-Americans and next week we celebrate the culture and music of hip-hop. Throughout the year we celebrate different cultures and different people. But I feel that there are so many kinds of people that year in and year out get no accolade and no celebratory month or week.

Why can we not have a week where we celebrate the achievements of country music or blues music, or maybe jazz or rock and roll music? All of those types of music have had a great cultural impact on society, and they deserve a period of time for their celebration.

And why can we not have weeks or months dedicated to those people from other parts of the world? How about German-American history week or Russian-American history week? What about other people from India, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Greece; the list could go on of countries we could celebrate.

But I think that one month that we are missing, in terms of celebrating the heritage and achievements of, is white-American history month. It seems like every year that goes by I feel more ashamed of being white. We are told to take pride in the history and achievements of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans. What about the rest of us who are not part of any of the current celebrations of heritage?

Can we not celebrate it because of racism or sexism in the past or because whites are the majority of the population of this country? If we can celebrate all of the other people of this country, then why not a celebration of the achievements of white Americans too?

We should all be proud of who we are and where we come from. But if the current idea is that white Americans should not be proud of themselves or that the achievements of those that come from, then why would we even acknowledge that we even exist as people?

I am proud that I am white and that my family heritage comes from Germany and Scotland, and I want to celebrate the fact. But I feel the moment I say something or celebrate to that effect, then I will be automatically counted as a racist or a bigot.


Letting the Al Qaeda Myth Go Unchallenged

During last Friday's debate, John McCain - whose performance was otherwise very strong - failed to debunk the falsest charge of the evening. According to Obama, "from a strategic national security perspective, Al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001." This is the one meme of the anti-war left that the success of the surge has most decisively put to rest. But after the debate - and after eight years of an administration that long ago stopped trying to defend its policies in Iraq - the prospect that McCain will more competently ward off critics is far from certain.

Critics like Obama carp that had there been no invasion, there never would have been al Qaeda in Iraq. This is difficult to either prove or disprove. We know that Iraq harbored and very likely supported Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the suspected bomb makers involved in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. A series of memos from the spring of 2001, uncovered after the U.S. invasion, shows that the Iraqi Intelligence Service funded Abu Sayyaf and Ansar Al Islam, Al Qaeda affiliated groups; that Osama bin Laden requested Iraqi cooperation on terrorism and propaganda; and that in January 1997 the Iraqi regime was eager to continue its relationship with bin Laden. Other documents indicate that Hussein was a sponsor of Al Qaeda activities in the Sudan. Still, an exhaustive Pentagon study concluded in 2006 that there was "no operational" relationship between Sadaam and Al Qaeda.

But what is not in dispute is that thousands of jihadists are dead, Al Qaeda has suffered a major loss in Iraq, its self-declared "central battlefield," and the movement is largely discredited on the Arab street and even within Islamist circles. Not even the war's strongest supporters could have predicted this in 2003.

In May of this year CIA Director Michael Hayden told the Washington Post that Al Qaeda is essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the world. Pointing to the series of mostly low level terrorist attacks in European countries since 2003, former CIA official Robert Baer backs this view, telling Reuters last month that what "Al Qaeda's left with is a bunch of Sunni radicals in various capitals who get their orders and technology on the Internet. But their contact with home base is not very strong and they're not very disciplined."

This shouldn't surprise anyone: it makes sense that an Arab-led terrorist group like Al Qaeda would suffer more from a defeat in a strategically critical country in the heart of the Arab Middle East than from a defeat in a primitive backwater in Central Asia, like Afghanistan. The rugged hills on the Pakistani Afghan border may be dangerous, but they are not conducive to organizational command and control.

It is for this reason that Osama bin Laden would state in 2004, "The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."

Indeed, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman recently told reporter Michael Totten, "[Abu Musab al] Zarqawi invented Al Qaeda in Iraq . . . Then he blew up the Samarra mosque . . . Then the Al Qaeda leadership outside dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province. They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost."

Government experts are not the only ones who have made this diagnosis. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, research fellows at New York University's Center on Law and Security, write in the June 11th issue of The New Republic that an open letter to Osama Bin Laden's number two man Ayman al Zawahiri in November of 2007 by Noman Benotman, a Libyan jihadist and close associate of Osama Bin Laden, which called on Al Qaeda to end all operations in Arab countries and in the West, represents a turning point in the Muslim world. "In repudiating Al Qaeda," they wrote, "Benotman was adding his voice to a rising tide of anger in the Islamic world toward Al Qaeda and its affiliates, whose victims since September 11 have mostly been fellow Muslims. He was also joining a larger group of religious scholars, former fighters, and militants.who are alarmed by the targeting of civilians in the West, the senseless killings in Muslim countries, and Al Qaeda's barbaric tactics in Iraq--have turned against the organization, many just in the past year."

Experts of all stripes agree that Al Qaida has been crippled, and the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq was crucial to this development. But Iraqis aren't the only ones who have soured on Al Qaeda. Last year the Pew Research Center surveyed Muslims in 16 different countries. Support for suicide bombers has declined in nearly every country that was also surveyed in 2002, and the decline is dramatic almost everywhere. The only Muslim communities surveyed where support for suicide bombers remains at greater than 50 percent are, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

If we had been told immediately after 9/11 that our invasion of Iraq would ensure that a majority of Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East would despise Al Qaeda, that no terrorist attacks would take place on American soil at least through 2008, that the world would, after having removed the Taliban, be rid of a second major terrorist supporting regime, I suspect most Americans would have taken that deal, even with the loss of life and injuries our armed service men and women have suffered.

Here is the important point: by bringing the war to their turf, to the heart of the Middle East, the United States forced the Muslim world to witness the barbarity of the jihadist movement that many of them supported only from a distance, and has thus mid-wifed into existence a steady and inexorable change in the Muslim world. That has always been the war's most important foreign policy goal. It was deeply discouraging that McCain didn't clarify the record.


Big media will never be fair

Conservatives have to realize one simple truth: the Big Media is not the enemy's ally who can be won over; it is the enemy itself. The U.S. Big Media is every bit the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party's left wing as Dr. Goebbels' organization was the propaganda arm of the Nazi regime.

Attempts to shame the Big Media into objectivity will go nowhere, it will not be moved by gentle rebukes and reminders of the precepts supposedly taught at journalism schools. The Big Media's vitriolic campaign to vilify and destroy Sarah Palin, unprecedented in its sheer viciousness, is not primarily driven by the elite's perception of her as an alien life form (although there is that, too), but by the plain fact that she endangers the prospects of their idol, Obama, and hence has to be removed by any means necessary. It's that simple, but until conservatives realize what's going on and resolve to fight the enemy every step of the way, they have no hope of effectively countering its stratagems.

Incidentally, it is only conservatives who insist on treating their opponents fairly, and speak of "our liberal friends", "our friends on the left." Such conservatives never forget to carefully spread the blame on both sides of the political divide, trying mightily to be objective and avoid accusations of bias. (The few exceptions, such as the redoubtable Ann Coulter, only sharpen the distinction). Other than the unctuous Lanny Davis, I have never heard any liberal return the favor. Instead, they miss no opportunity to castigate, sometime quite boorishly, their conservative or Republican opposite numbers. A minor, but telling detail.

Pessimists would say that the fight is hopeless anyway. I don't buy it. There is every reason to believe that once conservatives start pushing back, they can count on at least some measure of success. Remember the budget battles of the mid-nineties? The Big Media was driving Congressional Republicans to distraction by gleefully depicting a planned reduction in the rate of increase of entitlement spending from nine percent to seven as a "cut in benefits." Finally, Speaker Newt Gingrich decided that it was time to fight back. He declared that any journalist engaging in this distortion would have his or her access to the Republican lawmakers totally cut off. It worked like a charm; the media, unaccustomed to resistance, caved immediately and dropped the insidious lie like a hot potato.

I am particularly incensed by the latest example of the limp-wristed attitude of conservatives who are only too willing to accept the rules of the game imposed on them by the enemy: the ready acceptance by some conservative pundits of the d term of opprobrium, "swiftboating", meaning an outright smear without any basis in fact. Don't they remember its provenance? After all, it's of very recent vintage, going back merely four years.

Let's recall: In 2004, over 250 Vietnam veterans of the Swiftboat Division, including nearly the entire chain of command, attacked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as unfit for the highest office in the land, offering overwhelming evidence that his "heroic" military biography was actually a tissue of lies and exaggerations. Some media outlets and Kerry sycophants desperately tried to refute the accusations but failed miserably -- not least because the most damning piece of anti-Kerry material was a video recording of the Democratic candidate's testimony before the Senate where he solemnly recited a propaganda tract, and likened our soldiers to Genghis (as pronounced by him, "Jenjis") Khan. How can you refute documentary evidence?

The big guns of the liberal press kept silent for a few weeks. Then the Big Bertha, The New York Times, sallied forth with a tentative formula: "the largely discredited Swiftboaters' accusations". Some time later, the qualifying "largely" was quietly dropped, and the final talking point emerged to be picked up by the rest of the Big Media: the Swiftboaters' accusations are outright lies. From there it was only a short step to developing a new pejorative: "swiftboating". That the left appropriated the opposition's term and adapted it to its needs is hardly surprising. But for conservatives to meekly acquiesce in the opposition's blatant propaganda ploy by bleating about "attempts to swiftboat Sarah Palin" is nothing short of shameful.

It is a truism that to fight on a battlefield not of your choosing is to concede an enormous advantage to the opposition. The sooner the conservatives abandon their delusional belief in the innate goodness of the liberal heart and realize that the Big Media is their bitter enemy that has to be fought tooth and nail, the better their chances will be. Enough is enough. It's time for the conservatives to wake up and smell the coffee.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, October 06, 2008

British politician who spoke the truth about Muslims is put in charge of immigration policy

Muslim groups expressed anger last night after a Labour politician who has been at the centre of a series of race controversies was made Immigration Minister. Phil Woolas, previously an Environment Minister, was handed the brief despite infuriating the Pakistani community earlier this year by warning they were fuelling birth defects by inter-marrying. He also caused anger following the Oldham race riots by calling for 'the reality of anti-white racism' to be acknowledged.

Last night, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee condemned his appointment. A spokesman said: 'Phil Woolas has a track record of insensitive, inappropriate outbursts that have verged on Islamophobia. 'He is a Minister clearly out of his depth. We will monitor his work for any more signs of his all too obvious antipathy towards British Muslims.'

His appointment was part of a raft of junior ministerial changes announced by Gordon Brown yesterday, including rewards for MPs who led the famous 'curry-house' plot against Tony Blair....

Mr Woolas, the Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, embarrassed Downing Street in February by arguing that marriages between first cousins are a factor in birth defects and inherited conditions. 'Part of the risk, I am told by the health service, is first-cousin marriages,' he said. 'If you are supportive of the Asian community then you have a duty to raise this issue.' It is estimated that 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins. The likelihood of unrelated couples having children with genetic disorders is about 100-1, but it rises to one in eight for first cousins. British Pakistani children account for as many as one-third of birth defects, despite making up only three per cent of all UK births.

After Muslim groups accused Mr Woolas of 'flirting with Islamophobia', Downing Street was quick to stress that he was speaking in his capacity as a constituency MP. It followed a series of outspoken remarks in defence of the white working class which began when he warned after the Oldham race riots in 2001 that Labour would lose out to the British National Party unless it did more to 'create a country at ease with itself'.

Last year, in an article for The Mail on Sunday, he said: 'Among the groups who are missing out and who suffer genuine discrimination is the white teenage underclass. 'Such people are fashionably dismissed as "chav scum" or "trailer trash". 'But to say such things is to be as guilty of stereotyping as those who say that all Muslims support terrorists.'


Comedy show about Muslims in Denmark?

This strikes me as "courageous"

Osama is a businessman who classes terrorism as a profit centre, selling terrorism-themed T-shirts, caps and pens. Abdul, a convert to Islam, acts as if he cannot kill enough people, or make bombs big enough. Ali, a Pakistani, has won a competition for the honour of avenging the cartoons published in Denmark that disparaged Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

Despite the threat they seem to present, the four men are not on the radar of Danish police - not because they run such a sophisticated operation but because they are the principal characters in a situation comedy The Terror Cell. The program, about a bunch of losers in a gang that can't shoot straight, is scheduled to debut on Danish television next year. Its creator, principal writer and star is Omar Marzouk, a Muslim and one of Denmark's best-known comedians. "There's a lot of interest, but at the same time it's Danish - there are the cartoons," Marzouk, 35, said. "It's not about being blasphemous, though. It's about things that make both sides have a laugh. That's more difficult than being provocative."

The show's terrorists lurk in an apartment in downtown Copenhagen. Their closest neighbour, a polite and elderly lady, will not betray them. She believes that World War II has not yet ended, and the boys are hiding from the Germans. Every episode ends with the terrorists blowing up themselves and their apartment, after which Allah sends them back to Earth, so they can prepare better next time.

Marzouk's show, which will be broadcast on Kanal 5, the Danish channel of a German network, is not the only recent entry in the developing category of disarming prejudice towards Islam with a laugh. The Little Mosque On The Prairie, which follows the antics of a Muslim community in Saskatchewan, was taken to Canadian television in 2006. In the United States, the CW network's series Aliens In America is based on the relationship between a Muslim exchange student and a Midwesterner.

What gives The Terror Cell its edginess are the cartoons that first appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005, provoking violent protests across the Middle East and Asia. The cartoons were republished in 2006. In June this year, six people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on the Danish embassy in Pakistan.

Marzouk, who was born in Copenhagen in 1973, is a self-made man. In addition to Danish, he speaks fluent English and Arabic, yet was dismissed from a private school for supposedly being dyslexic, so he skipped university and opened a business importing computer parts. In the mid-1990s he learned that the European Union was sponsoring a competition to combat racism. He decided to enter with a stand-up comedy routine. "Until then, understanding between Danes and Muslims meant: 'Come on, eat some hummus and see some belly dancing,' " he said. "I thought stand-up was a great way to talk about these things. "At first I just wanted to get laughs," he said. "Later, I started thinking about what I wanted to do or say."

In 2004, he entered the Edinburgh Comedy Festival with two other Danish comedians. "The first two weeks were awful," he said. "The last two weeks, I started to get the hang of it."

He went to London the following year with a routine called War, Terror And Other Fun Stuff. Marzouk acknowledges his debt to British comedy and says The Terror Cell owes much to popular British sitcom The Young Ones, about four university students rebelling against Thatcher-era reforms. "[The Young Ones] was crazy," he said. "They were always blowing each other up."

Like his first foray into comedy, The Terror Cell was in part the result of a competition, organised by the European Union to promote public service programming. "We didn't want to make a political manifesto, we wanted to make good entertainment," said Jesper Jurgensen, spokesman for Kanal 5, which was awarded $1.2 million in the competition to fund the series.

It was Marzouk's even-handedness that so impressed the judges, he said. "The funny thing is [that] he's able to make fun of Muslims and Danes, priests and imams, and others," Mr Jurgensen said.

More recently, Marzouk produced a program for Danish state television called Omar And The Axis Of Evil, which, he said, tongue in cheek, was "investigating my potential for being a suicide terrorist". He travelled to Washington to interview members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby, and members of the Christian Coalition. And then he went to Israel and the occupied territories, where he spoke to Israeli soldiers and leaders of the Islamist Hamas movement.

In Tel Aviv, Marzouk performed at the Camel Candy Club. Within five minutes he had connected with the audience, despite "me being prejudiced, and they being prejudiced", he said. He chides the Danes for avoiding hard questions about immigration - Denmark has some of Europe's toughest anti-immigration laws - and the country's role in the Middle East, where it has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and where the cartoons make the Danes targets. "We are in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we had the cartoons, yet we haven't discussed it," he said. "Nobody asks, 'What if there is an explosion, what if there is a bomb in Copenhagen?' "

Marzouk answers his own question: the far-right Danish People's Party "will rocket in the polls". He gives the People's Party credit at least for asking the right questions. "They started with legitimate questions. 'Can we integrate the immigrants? How many can we absorb?' They actually had a legitimate goal when they started out," he said. "Now they have turned to ignorance and prejudice."

Anticipating attacks, Marzouk had a death threat feature put on his web site, by which visitors could choose among eight different ways of having him assassinated, for example by firing squad, car bomb or beheading. "A majority chose beheading," Marzouk said.


A licence to be offended

The case of The Jewel of Medina shows that the real threat to free speech comes not from Islamic radicalism but from elite cultural cowardice

Martin Rynja of Gibson Square publishers should be congratulated for saying he wants to publish The Jewel of Medina after Random House bottled it. The novel by Sherry Jones tells the story of the prophet Mohammed's relationship with his 14-year-old wife Aisha. Random House had it lined up for publication, but, feeling nervous, it first sent the book to academics for advice. One responded: `You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft-core pornography.' (Why can't you? Who says so? Novelists can do what they like.) Random House got cold feet, and in August it announced that it was pulling the book because it `might be offensive to some in the Muslim community' and could `incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment'.

It was a grey day for free speech. One of the biggest publishers in the world had held back a book on the basis that there are some things novelists `can't' or shouldn't say and because it feared a possible irate reaction amongst a small minority of Muslims. After the precautionary principle, we have pre-emptive censorship: the metaphorical burning of books by publishers themselves on the grounds that their content might, just possibly, offend someone.

Thankfully, though, there are some small publishers with cojones. Gibson Square of London, headed by Martin Rynja, said it would publish The Jewel of Medina in the UK. And this week it paid the price of Random House's gutless transformation of the novel into an internationally infamous tract that Muslims are bound to be riled by: Rynja's home-cum-office was firebombed and he is now in hiding under armed police guard. His plans to publish The Jewel of Medina are in `suspended animation'.

Rynja may once have publicly denounced me as `Glenda Slagg's twin' after I wrote a scathing review for the New Statesman of another of his books, Londonistan by Melanie Phillips (perhaps he is more tolerant of dangerous books than he is of damning book reviews?). But I would now like to declare myself Martin Rynja's twin: someone who also passionately believes that there's no such thing as `can't' when it comes to creative writing and that no book should ever be banned, burnt or bullied out of existence.

Yet we shouldn't allow the ongoing battle of The Jewel of Medina to blind us to the wider war over free speech. Reading the coverage of the Medina controversy, one could be forgiven for thinking that the main threat to free speech today comes from a handful of Islamists wielding firebombs. The novelist Sherry Jones said `you have to ask whether a thug with a gun or a petrol bomb should be allowed to censor the people of Great Britain', as if censorship is the work of a handful of weird-beards rather than the state or powerful publishing corporations (3). Others claim that `fear' and `intimidation' of the sort executed by the men who attacked Gibson Square is leading to censorship.

This gets things entirely the wrong way round. And it seriously underestimates the top-down cultural trends that have nurtured a new form of censorship over the past 10 to 20 years. The Medina episode shows that the true threat to free speech today comes not from Islamists but from a cowardly cultural elite, and from a political climate that positively encourages people to take offence and to campaign against words that `hurt' them.

To claim that a few thugs are giving rise to censorship is to miss a trick - the trick, in fact. In reality, it is the already-existing fear amongst the cultural elite that gives rise to the thugs. Never mind Mohammed's prophecy and a few individuals' desire to protect it from ridicule; we should be far more concerned about the self-fulfilling prophecy that was the violent assault on Gibson Square. It was Random House's caution, fuelled by the doubts of one non-Muslim academic, which transformed Sherry Jones's book from what sounds like a fairly run-of-the-mill novel into an internationally talked-about possibly violence-inducing text. It was their safety-first, censorious instincts which guaranteed the book would become a flashpoint issue for Islamists whose Offence Antennae are permanently switched to overdrive.

Some have said, quite rightly, that those who threw the firebombs this week were acting out of ignorance; they haven't even read the book, far less thought about it, evaluated it, debated it. Yet such ignorance is legitimised by Random House, whose attitude to The Jewel of Medina sent a clear message to the world: some material is so dodgy, so potentially dangerous, that it should be kept out of the public realm. A major publisher, backed by serious academics, elevated ignorance - `the condition of being unaware' - over knowing, just to be on the safe side. If this week's firebomb-throwers executed their action because they believe certain things about Mohammed `can't' be said, and that this book should never see the light of day because it `might be offensive' to Muslims, then they were given a green light by the elite guardians of culture itself.

There have been numerous incidents in recent years where cultural institutions in Britain have pre-emptively censored content that `might be offensive' to Muslims. The identity of terrorists in an episode of the BBC's flagship hospital drama, Casualty, was changed from Islamists to animal rights extremists after pressure from BBC chiefs. A play called Up on the Roof, due to be performed by the Hull Truck Theatre Company, was rewritten after the Danish cartoon controversy in 2005; its Muslim character was changed to a Rastafarian.

The Barbican in London cut out sections of its production of Tamburlaine the Great for fear of offending Muslims. And the Royal Court Theatre in London - so often the home of daring new theatre - cancelled a reading of an adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata which was set in a Muslim heaven.

As with Random House's reneging on The Jewel of Medina, the decisive factor in each of these bouts of self-gagging was not hard evidence that mass Muslim outrage is brimming under the surface of British society, waiting to burst forth, but rather caution amongst elite elements. In our deeply censorious climate, where the government has outlawed expressions of `religious hatred' and city councils such as Brighton ban art that `incites hatred', arts bodies are beginning to self-censor anything that might be construed as hateful. As I argued on spiked last year, where the Stasi controlled art in Soviet-era East Germany, `such an intrusion is not necessary in contemporary Britain; instead, arts institutions have a "Stasi of the mind", a censorious official in their brains telling them to err on the side of caution and ditch anything that might cause a fuss' (see How a Sensitivity Stasi is eroding artistic freedom, by Brendan O'Neill).

It is wrong to see Random House, major theatres, newspapers and other institutions as `capitulating' to radical Islamism. This is the argument put forward even by those who recognise that cultural cowardice, rather than Islamist thuggery alone, plays a key role in the new censorship. This assumes that there is a coherent and active body of outraged Muslims that can be capitulated to. In truth, in every instance of public Muslim anger in recent years - from the Danish cartoon riots in the Middle East to the protests over Pope Benedict XVI's comments about Mohammed - the disturbances have occurred after handwringing debates in the West about whether certain images should have been published or certain words spoken. Time and again, it is cultural self-doubt at the top of society that inflames an occasionally thuggish (and always shortlived) reaction on the streets.

Cultural bigwigs are not capitulating to anybody. Rather, the concern about what `might be offensive' to Muslims is better understood as an externalisation of their own internal doubt about the role of art today: about the boundaries of art; what is sayable and unsayable; the relationship between artistic freedom and new notions of words-that-hurt. An already-existing, deeply ingrained lack of confidence and vision amongst our rulers is being projected on to the post-9/11 discussion of Muslim sensibilities. Strip away the exaggerated fear of a Muslim reaction against offensive art, and the coded concerns about `acts of violence by small segments', and you will see an art-and-publishing world struggling to make sense of issues of sensitivity, PC, offensiveness, a world in such disarray and so unsure of its mission that it errs on the side of nurturing ignorance over pursuing enlightenment.

If the sometimes angry reaction against `offensive' art is a product of the cultural elite's own predictive fantasies, then it is also inflamed by the politics of complaint that underpins multiculturalism. At a time when we are continually told that words and disrespect can hurt fragile communities - and that it is up to the government to protect them through censorious legislation such as the Religious Hatred Act - it is not surprising that some self-serving Muslim leaders and radical Islamists leap upon any `anti-Muslim' statement as something outrageous that mush be crushed. The firebombers in London this week, like the anti-Danish and Pope-mocking protesters before them, are better seen as the militant wing of mainstream multiculturalism rather than an alien institution that is `censoring the people of Great Britain'. They got their licence to be offended from the authorities.

The struggle to publish The Jewel of Medina is only one small battle in a far larger war, and the three alleged firebombers at Gibson Square are a mere symptom of a widespread culture of cowardice and ignorance. If we are serious about defending artistic integrity, completely free speech and the fullest public debate possible, then we should start by launching an intellectual firebombing of contemporary censorious trends.


A road paved on reality

By Caroline B. Glick

Listening to the news in Israel these days, it is hard to escape the feeling that the Israeli political discourse has become dangerously irrelevant. Take Iran for example. On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the heads of UN member states, "The dignity, integrity and rights of the European and American people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner." Ahmadinejad then promised that Israel will soon be destroyed - for the benefit of humanity. For these remarks, he received enthusiastic applause from the world leaders assembled at the UN General Assembly.

And how has Israel responded? It hasn't done anything in particular. And it has no intention of doing anything in particular. This point was made clear to the public on Wednesday when Israel's new UN Ambassador, Gavriela Shalev gave an interview to Army Radio. While bemoaning Ahmadinejad's warm reception, she said that the world leaders were probably just being diplomatic. She noted that many of their ambassadors say nice things about Israel to her in private. Israel's woman at the UN devoted most of her interview to defending the UN. In fact, she said she believes it is her duty not simply to defend Israel to the world body, but to defend the UN to Israelis. As she put it, her job is "correcting the UN's image in the eyes of the people of Israel."

Shalev's appointment to the UN was the work of Foreign Minister - and would-be prime minister - Tzipi Livni. And her view of her role as Israel's ambassador is strictly in keeping with what Livni perceives as the job of Israel's top diplomats. They are the world's emissaries to Israel. Livni has spent the better part of the past three years at the Foreign Ministry telling us that the UN is our friend, the Europeans are our friends and that the Americans and Europeans and the UN will take care of Iran for us. The Palestinians are also our friends.

As anti-Semitic forces grow throughout the world, Livni has not communicated one single policy for defending Israel abroad that doesn't involve the kindness of strangers. Her response to Ahmadinejad's speech was case in point.

The one thing the woman who believes that she has the right to lead the country without being elected by anyone thinks that Israel should do in response to Ahmadinejad's call for our physical destruction is to object to Iran's bid to join the UN Security Council. Livni's only concrete response to Ahmadinejad's promise to annihilate us was to issue a directive to Israel's embassies abroad telling our diplomats to ask their host governments not to support Iran's bid for Security Council membership.

Livni doesn't actually think Iran is Israel's greatest challenge. The Palestinians are. And as far as she is concerned, giving the Palestinians a state by handing over Judea and Samaria (and Jerusalem, although she never says it outright), as quickly as possible is Israel's most urgent task. We need a two-state-solution and we need it NOW, she says. Neither Livni nor her colleagues in Kadima, Labor and Meretz, nor her supporters in the Israeli media ever bother to acknowledge the troublesome, inconvenient fact that the Palestinians don't want a state. They want to destroy our state.

This basic fact was made clear - yet again - on Tuesday. Tuesday Livni took time out of her busy schedule of political meetings with Labor, Shas and Meretz leaders with whom she is attempting to build a government without being elected by anyone, to meet with Fatah's chief negotiator Ahmad Qurei. Although Livni refused to tell us what she talked about, she promised that progress was made towards the urgent imperative of forming a Palestinian state.

But Qurei was not so enthusiastic. In fact, he was contemptuous of Livni and of the very notion of peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel. After the negotiating session Qurei told Reuters that if the talks towards an Israeli surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem collapse, the Palestinians will renew their terror war against Israel. In his words, "If the talks reached a dead end, what do we do? Capitulate? Resistance in all its forms is a legitimate right." Just to make sure he understood Qurei properly, the reporter asked whether that meant that the Palestinians would renew their suicide bombing campaign against Israelis. Qurei responded, "All forms of resistance."

We have been here of course, a million times before. This is the same threat that Yassir Arafat and his men have made - and implemented - repeatedly since signing the Oslo accord with Israel 15 years ago. They use terror and negotiations in tandem to squeeze Israel into giving away more and more of its land. And it works.

When Livni heard about Qurei's remarks, she called him and reportedly told him that they were unacceptable. So he said he was taken out of context. No skin off his back. He knew Livni wouldn't do anything. At the same time that Livni said his remarks were unacceptable, she pledged to continue negotiating Israel's surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem with him for as long as she remains in power.

Today Livni and her colleagues in Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Shas are working fervently towards forming a new government that will continue holding irrelevant but dangerous negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians and pretending that Iran's nuclear weapons are not going to be used against Israel. They argue that we need the "political stability" that they can provide us in this dangerous time.

The Israeli media gives these fantasies their full support. Indeed, anyone who notices that the world is sitting back and allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons or points out that the Palestinians don't want a state is immediately shot down as an alarmist and an extremist.

This national discourse - which has been the only one permitted in the country since the advent of the "peace process" with the PLO 15 years ago -- is Israel's Achilles heel. Until the general public is set clear on the reality of the world confronting the country, there is no chance that Israel will take the necessary steps to defend itself and ensure that it survives.

Understanding this basic fact, former IDF chief of general staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon has taken it upon himself to tell the Israeli public the truth about the world we live in. Ya'alon is a rare bird among Israel's pantheon of current luminaries. He is an honest man who lives by his principles, and he doesn't bend them, ever.

Last week Ya'alon published a book called The Longer Shorter Road in Hebrew. Ya'alon, whose tour of duty as chief of staff was unceremoniously cut short by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in June 2005 due to his trenchant opposition to Sharon's planned withdrawal of IDF forces and Israeli civilians from the Gaza Strip, has written a book that sets out the facts of life clearly, credibly and passionately. The book's title is derived from a speech that Ya'alon's commander Yoram Ya'ir gave to his officers during the first Lebanon War. Ya'ir explained that short-cuts are not necessarily better than long roads. In fact, it is often better to take the longest route. As Ya'ir put it, "There is a long road that is short and there are short roads that are long."

Ya'alon uses Ya'ir's point to demonstrate that the Israeli Left's insistence on peace "now" and a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict "now," has placed Israel on a strategic trajectory that has brought it, and will continue to bring it only bloodshed and danger. Israel's enemies in the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria and Iran view Israel's insistence on finding immediate solutions to the threats it faces as a sign that Israeli society is collapsing. As a consequence, every step that Israel has made towards appeasing its neighbors -from recognizing the PLO and bringing Arafat and his legions into Judea, Samaria and Gaza; to retreating from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005; to failing to properly prosecute the Second Lebanon War in 2006; to doing nothing to combat Hamas's regime in Gaza since 2007; to embracing the false paradigm of peace at Annapolis last November - has strengthened their conviction that Israel can and will be destroyed.

Ya'alon also dwells on the moral collapse of Israel's political and media elite and that collapse's adverse impact on the senior command echelons of the IDF. The abandonment of Zionist values and public and private integrity by our politicians and media has cast and kept Israel on a path of self-delusion where the only thing that matters is immediate gratification. Politicians promise the public "hope" based on illusions of peace-around-the-corner to win their votes. The media support the politicians' lies both because of the media's post-Zionist ideological uniformity and due to their refusal to acknowledge that their populist demands for peace "now" have brought Israel only war and danger.

Ya'alon's book is part memoir and part polemic. He reminds Israelis of what it is about us that makes us a great people worthy of our land and privileged to defend it. At the same time, he chastises our failed leaders who have tricked the public into following a strategic path that endangers us. His book's greatest contribution is not in providing a set path forward, but in courageously and unrelentingly explaining the reality that surrounds us today and in showing the public how it is that we have arrived in our current predicament.

In exposing himself, his values and his beliefs to the public, and juxtaposing his own leadership experience and personal integrity with the corruption and weakness of our political and intellectual leaders, Ya'alon is telling the public in a very clear way that there is an alternative to defeatism and self-delusion, and that he - and we the public -- represent that alternative, that "longer shorter road."

Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and their colleagues on the Left in the Knesset and the media insist that we not take that longer road to security and peace. In fact, they deny that it even exists. They attempt to convince us that elections are unnecessary by arguing that there is no difference between political parties today because their short cut to defeat is the only path available to us.

It must be fervently hoped that Ya'alon will soon enter the political fray. Like the Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu, Ya'alon is proof positive that Livni and her cronies are lying. There are great differences between those that would lead us and the paths they would take. And the only road to safety is the long road that is paved on reality.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, October 05, 2008

'Bride,' 'groom' can't marry in California

'We thought we couldn't go any lower. We discovered actually we can'

A man and woman have had to go to court in California because they want to be recognized as married after officials rejected their marriage license because it listed "bride" and "groom" instead of "Party A" and "Party B."

After the state Supreme Court in May expanded the rights enumerated in the state constitution and found same-sex couples couldn't be denied marriage rights, "Many thought we couldn't go any lower," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working on the case. "We discovered actually we can."

Gideon Codding and Rachel Bird recently were married in Placer County, near Sacramento. However, surprised by new marriage license forms created by state bureaucrats with "Party A" and "Party B," they jotted an explanatory "Groom" and "Bride' next to "party" designations. The couple soon discovered the strength of the pro-homosexual lobby in the state: The application was returned to Pastor Doug Bird, who officiated, with a form letter stating the license "does not comply with California State registration laws."

The couple now is filing a lawsuit in Placer County asking the court to order county officials to process the license, since without the form's registration, "the Coddings are not legally married and have been prevented from accessing the many benefits available to married couples." "Being labeled by the state as 'Party A' and 'Party B" is demeaning," said PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. "It's shocking that we have to litigate over whether newlyweds can call themselves a bride and groom."

Said Dacus, "Already, we are seeing the negative effects of gay marriage in California, as the state is changing centuries-old traditions to accommodate homosexuals. Unless the Protect Marriage Initiative, Proposition 8, is approved in November, we expect a tidal wave of new restraints and limitations to be imposed on people of faith."

Dacus told WND the right for a one-man, one-woman couple to be married "was in no way invalidated by the state Supreme Court's ruling respecting homosexual marriage." "This is an outright act of hostility towards the established rights of people to be married as husband and wife, bride and groom," he said. "It's one thing for the state Supreme Court to cram homosexual marriage down the throats of people who voted for Proposition 22, it's quite another for the state of California then to go so far as to make it impossible for a man and woman to be married as husband and wife in the state of California," Dacus continued.

Bird, pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship in Roseville, said he was told by officials in the county office that "Bride" and "Groom" amounted to "unacceptable alteration" to the form. "What's next?" Bird wrote in a Sept. 4 letter. "Will the State of California force [ministers] to use the terms "Party A" and "Party B" in the ceremony itself?"

The state Supreme Court in May, in a 4-3 decision, declared that legal definitions of marriage as a union between a man and a woman were unconstitutional. Since the ruling, the generic designations were added by bureaucrats to legal documents.

Voters several years ago under Proposition 22 approved limiting marriage to one man and one woman. But the measure was a statute, which the Supreme Court simply disregarded. The Proposition 8 proposal would establish the definition in the state constitution, putting it beyond the reach of judicial activism.


Prosperity Gospel helps bankrupt America?

These Leftist theological amateurs show the usual Leftist ignorance of history. The prosperity gospel goes all the way back to Calvin, one of the founders of Protestantism. Instead of being destructive, it was instrumental in helping to create the modern world. Peter Berger has some in-depth commentary

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants - and hence, victims - of the current financial crisis? That's what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise - that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life - had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you - if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'" Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house. And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy." If so, the situation offers a look at how an native-born faith built partially on American econoic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat, and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, it can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are "worthy of having more and doing more and being more." In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade's worth of ever-easier credit acted like drug in Prosperity's bloodstream. "The economic boom 90's and financial over-extensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the prosperity message," he wrote recently. And not positively. "Narratives of how 'God blessed me with my first house despite my credit' were common. Sermons declaring 'it's your season to overflow' supplanted messages of economic sobriety," and "little attention was paid to.. the dangers of using one's home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations."

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks that some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants' fortunes. Says Walton, "You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology." But he predicts they will perservere, since God's earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recently posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation - it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on scriptural promises of God. But the believer's note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. "Last Sunday," it read, "You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace."

And pray that the credit market doesn't tighten any further.


Nine-year-old Muslim girl in Britain rescued from forced marriage

The disclosure comes as official figures show that nearly 60 children aged 15 or under have been rescued by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit in the past four years. The cases are feared to be the tip of the iceberg. They will fuel concerns, first raised earlier this year, that large numbers of children are disappearing from British schools to be forced into wedlock overseas.

A charity which runs a national helpline on forced marriage and "honour"-based crimes, Karma Nirvana, revealed that in one incident a nine-year-old girl from a Pakistani family in the east Midlands was taken into council care after her parents told her she was to wed. Jasvinder Sanghera, director of Karma Nirvana, said that on average four children a month aged under 16 have contacted its helpline since it launched in April. "The youngest child we have dealt with was nine years old," she said. "The girl told her teacher she was going to be forced to marry someone and initially she was not believed. "Ultimately, with the help of the Forced Marriage Unit, she was dealt with through child protection procedures. She was assessed and, thankfully, taken into foster care."

Ms Sanghera called on ministers to make sure primary school children are taught about forced marriage and given advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The Forced Marriage Unit has helped rescue 58 underage children since it was set up in January 2005, including 11 under-16s so far this year. The youngest victim this year was 13, one was 14 and nine were 15. The unit deals with 5,000 inquiries and 300 cases of forced marriage a year. A third of inquiries come from under 18s. The youngest victim repatriated by the unit, which is jointly funded by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, was an 11-year-old girl who was flown back to Britain from Dhaka, Bangladesh, last year after her parents had agreed to marry her to a local man.

Ms Sanghera, who herself fled home after being threatened with forced marriage at the age of 15, said: "I currently have cases involving four children aged 11 to 14 who were forced to marry or were at risk, and have now been made wards of court. "You don't just get forced into a marriage at 16 or 17; this is happening to very young children. We certainly have had cases of minors being sexually abused. "If you are forced into marriage as a minor you will be multiple-raped, because as a child you are legally unable to give consent. "But we have no idea how many children under 16 are at risk, and this is compounded by a reluctance of schools to engage with the issue. Many schools shy away due to supposed cultural sensitivities." She went on: "There will be children sitting in our classrooms this week who have already had identified for them a husband or a wife. "These marriages can be prevented by identifying the signs in school or teachers believing pupils when they raise it."

The problem is particularly prevalent in Pakistani communities, where betrothing offspring to their first cousins is common practice, said Ms Sanghera. "It happens across all races but there is a disproportionate number of cases within the Pakistani community, and we need to recognise that," she said. "At Karma Nirvana we have noticed a significant trend of young people aged 14, 15 and 16 coming forward for our services. "We need reassurance from schools, especially headteachers, that existing Department for Children, Schools and Families posters giving advice about forced marriage are displayed in primary and secondary schools. "We also believe there should be proper headcounts of pupils after the summer holidays, so that steps can be taken if any children have disappeared from the register. I think what the schools discover will alarm them." She estimated there could be a dozen cases a year in some medium-sized comprehensive schools with significant numbers of Asian children.

A nine-month study by Karma Nirvana in 2006 followed the fortunes of 15 girls aged 10 to 18 in Derby, where the charity is based. By the end of the study, four had been taken abroad including a 17-year-old who had subsequently returned to the UK after being wed to a 35-year-old man.

Earlier this year a report by the Commons' all-party Home Affairs Select Committee said 2,089 pupils were unaccounted for in just 14 local council areas of England and Wales. A proportion of these are believed to have been children removed from education and forced into marriages overseas.


A courageous Australian broadcaster

A law that puts the interests of pedophiles ahead of protecting the community is sheer madness

DERRYN Hinch was defiant after being told by police he would be charged for publicly identifying two sex offenders. The man known as the Human Headline expects to be charged with five counts of breaching a suppression order - three times on his website and twice at a crime victims' rally on the steps of Parliament in June. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months' jail and a $12,000 fine.

It is not the first time Hinch has faced the prospect of jail for naming sex monsters. In 1985, Hinch was jailed for identifying a pedophile priest on criminal charges. Hinch told the Herald Sun yesterday news of the latest charges came as no surprise. On air during his afternoon radio program, he went further, maintaining serious sex offenders should be named after their release from jail.

"Six months ago, I launched a campaign to have a law overturned. A law which thousands of people think is a bad law," he said. "It actually helps sex offenders hide their identities after they are released back into society. "There's a postscript concerning that law and my campaign to have it repealed. A short time ago, I was told by police I would be served a summons to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on five criminal charges for allegedly breaching County Court suppression orders by identifying two offenders. "I've been asked did I think I was morally and legally in the right? My answer is I know I was morally right. Whether or not I was legally right is for the courts to decide."

In 1985, he was convicted of contempt of court for identifying pedophile priest Michael Charles Glennon, who was on criminal charges at the time. Hinch was jailed for 12 days and fined $15,000. "I felt I had a bigger responsibility to the community at large than I did to Father Glennon," Hinch said during that contempt hearing."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Geert Wilders Speaks to the Hudson Institute about Islam

Thank you very much for inviting me. Great to be at the Four Seasons. I come from a country that has one season only: a rainy season that starts January 1st and ends December 31st. When we have three sunny days in a row, the government declares a national emergency. So Four Seasons, that's new to me.

It's great to be in New York. When I see the skyscrapers and office buildings, I think of what Ayn Rand said: "The sky over New York and the will of man made visible." Of course. Without the Dutch you would have been nowhere, still figuring out how to buy this island from the Indians. But we are glad we did it for you. And, frankly, you did a far better job than we possibly could have done.

I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The danger I see looming is the scenario of America as the last man standing. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe. In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe? Patriots from around Europe risk their lives every day to prevent precisely this scenario form becoming a reality.

My short lecture consists of 4 parts.

First I will describe the situation on the ground in Europe. Then, I will say a few things about Islam. Thirdly, if you are still here, I will talk a little bit about the movie you just saw. To close I will tell you about a meeting in Jerusalem.

The Europe you know is changing. You have probably seen the landmarks. The Eiffel Tower and Trafalgar Square and Rome's ancient buildings and maybe the canals of Amsterdam. They are still there. And they still look very much the same as they did a hundred years ago. But in all of these cities, sometimes a few blocks away from your tourist destination, there is another world, a world very few visitors see - and one that does not appear in your tourist guidebook. It is the world of the parallel society created by Muslim mass-migration.

All throughout Europe a new reality is rising: entire Muslim neighbourhoods where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen. And if they are, they might regret it. This goes for the police as well. It's the world of head scarves, where women walk around in figureless tents, with baby strollers and a group of children. Their husbands, or slaveholders if you prefer, walk three steps ahead. With mosques on many street corner. The shops have signs you and I cannot read. You will be hard-pressed to find any economic activity. These are Muslim ghettos controlled by religious fanatics. These are Muslim neighbourhoods, and they are mushrooming in every city across Europe. These are the building-blocks for territorial control of increasingly larger portions of Europe, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, city by city.

There are now thousands of mosques throughout Europe. With larger congregations than there are in churches. And in every European city there are plans to build super-mosques that will dwarf every church in the region. Clearly, the signal is: we rule.

Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim: just take Amsterdam, Marseille and Malmo in Sweden. In many cities the majority of the under-18 population is Muslim. Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim neighbourhoods. Mohammed is the most popular name among boys in many cities. In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be mentioned, because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that would be an insult to Muslims.

Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to all pupils. In once-tolerant Amsterdam gays are beaten up almost exclusively by Muslims. Non-Muslim women routinely hear "whore, whore". Satellite dishes are not pointed to local TV stations, but to stations in the country of origin. In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot; the same is increasingly true of Darwin. The history of the Holocaust can in many cases no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity. In England sharia courts are now officially part of the British legal system. Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves. Last week a man almost died after being beaten up by Muslims in Brussels, because he was drinking during the Ramadan. Jews are fleeing France in record numbers, on the run for the worst wave of anti-Semitism since World War II. French is now commonly spoken on the streets of Tel Aviv and Netanya, Israel. I could go on forever with stories like this. Stories about Islamization.

A total of fifty-four million Muslims now live in Europe. San Diego University recently calculated that a staggering 25 percent of the population in Europe will be Muslim just 12 years from now. Bernhard Lewis has predicted a Muslim majority by the end of this century.

Now these are just numbers. And the numbers would not be threatening if the Muslim-immigrants had a strong desire to assimilate. But there are few signs of that. The Pew Research Center reported that half of French Muslims see their loyalty to Islam as greater than their loyalty to France. One-third of French Muslims do not object to suicide attacks. The British Centre for Social Cohesion reported that one-third of British Muslim students are in favour of a worldwide caliphate. A Dutch study reported that half of Dutch Muslims admit they "understand" the 9/11 attacks.

Muslims demand what they call `respect'. And this is how we give them respect. Our elites are willing to give in. To give up. In my own country we have gone from calls by one cabinet member to turn Muslim holidays into official state holidays, to statements by another cabinet member, that Islam is part of Dutch culture, to an affirmation by the Christian-Democratic attorney general that he is willing to accept sharia in the Netherlands if there is a Muslim majority. We have cabinet members with passports from Morocco and Turkey.

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behaviour, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus. Some prefer to see these as isolated incidents, but I call it a Muslim intifada. I call the perpetrators "settlers". Because that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies, they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they are settlers.

Much of this street violence I mentioned is directed exclusively against non-Muslims, forcing many native people to leave their neighbourhoods, their cities, their countries. Politicians shy away from taking a stand against this creeping sharia. They believe in the equality of all cultures. Moreover, on a mundane level, Muslims are now a swing vote not to be ignored.

Our many problems with Islam cannot be explained by poverty, repression or the European colonial past, as the Left claims. Nor does it have anything to do with Palestinians or American troops in Iraq. The problem is Islam itself.

Allow me to give you a brief Islam 101. The first thing you need to know about Islam is the importance of the book of the Quran. The Quran is Allah's personal word, revealed by an angel to Mohammed, the prophet. This is where the trouble starts. Every word in the Quran is Allah's word and therefore not open to discussion or interpretation. It is valid for every Muslim and for all times. Therefore, there is no such a thing as moderate Islam. Sure, there are a lot of moderate Muslims. But a moderate Islam is non-existent.

The Quran calls for hatred, violence, submission, murder, and terrorism. The Quran calls for Muslims to kill non-Muslims, to terrorize non-Muslims and to fulfil their duty to wage war: violent jihad. Jihad is a duty for every Muslim, Islam is to rule the world - by the sword. The Quran is clearly anti-Semitic, describing Jews as monkeys and pigs.

The second thing you need to know is the importance of Mohammed the prophet. His behaviour is an example to all Muslims and cannot be criticized. Now, if Mohammed had been a man of peace, let us say like Ghandi and Mother Theresa wrapped in one, there would be no problem. But Mohammed was a warlord, a mass murderer, a pedophile, and had several marriages - at the same time. Islamic tradition tells us how he fought in battles, how he had his enemies murdered and even had prisoners of war executed. Mohammed himself slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza. He advised on matters of slavery, but never advised to liberate slaves. Islam has no other morality than the advancement of Islam. If it is good for Islam, it is good. If it is bad for Islam, it is bad. There is no gray area or other side.

Quran as Allah's own word and Mohammed as the perfect man are the two most important facets of Islam. Let no one fool you about Islam being a religion. Sure, it has a god, and a here-after, and 72 virgins. But in its essence Islam is a political ideology. It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the life of every person. Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life. Islam means `submission'. Islam is not compatible with freedom and democracy, because what it strives for is sharia. If you want to compare Islam to anything, compare it to communism or national-socialism, these are all totalitarian ideologies.

This is what you need to know about Islam, in order to understand what is going on in Europe. For millions of Muslims the Quran and the live of Mohammed are not 14 centuries old, but are an everyday reality, an ideal, that guide every aspect of their lives. Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam "the most retrograde force in the world", and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran.

Which brings me to my movie, Fitna. I am a lawmaker, and not a movie maker. But I felt I had the moral duty to educate about Islam. The duty to make clear that the Quran stands at the heart of what some people call terrorism but is in reality jihad. I wanted to show that the problems of Islam are at the core of Islam, and do not belong to its fringes.

Now, from the day the plan for my movie was made public, it caused quite a stir, in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. First, there was a political storm, with government leaders, across the continent in sheer panic. The Netherlands was put under a heightened terror alert, because of possible attacks or a revolt by our Muslim population. The Dutch branch of the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir declared that the Netherlands was due for an attack. Internationally, there was a series of incidents. The Taliban threatened to organize additional attacks against Dutch troops in Afghanistan, and a website linked to Al Qaeda published the message that I ought to be killed, while various muftis in the Middle East stated that I would be responsible for all the bloodshed after the screening of the movie. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the Dutch flag was burned on several occasions. Dolls representing me were also burned. The Indonesian President announced that I will never be admitted into Indonesia again, while the UN Secretary General and the European Union issued cowardly statements in the same vein as those made by the Dutch Government. I could go on and on. It was an absolute disgrace, a sell-out.

A plethora of legal troubles also followed, and have not ended yet. Currently the state of Jordan is litigating against me. Only last week there were renewed security agency reports about a heightened terror alert for the Netherlands because of Fitna.

Now, I would like to say a few things about Israel. Because, very soon, we will get together in its capitol. The best way for a politician in Europe to lose votes is to say something positive about Israel. The public has wholeheartedly accepted the Palestinian narrative, and sees Israel as the aggressor. I, however, will continue to speak up for Israel. I see defending Israel as a matter of principle. I have lived in this country and visited it dozens of times. I support Israel. First, because it is the Jewish homeland after two thousand years of exile up to and including Auschwitz, second because it is a democracy, and third because Israel is our first line of defense.

Samuel Huntington writes it so aptly: "Islam has bloody borders". Israel is located precisely on that border. This tiny country is situated on the fault line of jihad, frustrating Islam's territorial advance. Israel is facing the front lines of jihad, like Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines, Southern Thailand, Darfur in Sudan, Lebanon, and Aceh in Indonesia. Israel is simply in the way. The same way West-Berlin was during the Cold War.

The war against Israel is not a war against Israel. It is a war against the West. It is jihad. Israel is simply receiving the blows that are meant for all of us. If there would have been no Israel, Islamic imperialism would have found other venues to release its energy and its desire for conquest. Thanks to Israeli parents who send their children to the army and lay awake at night, parents in Europe and America can sleep well and dream, unaware of the dangers looming.

Many in Europe argue in favor of abandoning Israel in order to address the grievances of our Muslim minorities. But if Israel were, God forbid, to go down, it would not bring any solace to the West. It would not mean our Muslim minorities would all of a sudden change their behavior, and accept our values. On the contrary, the end of Israel would give enormous encouragement to the forces of Islam. They would, and rightly so, see the demise of Israel as proof that the West is weak, and doomed. The end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only the beginning. It would mean the start of the final battle for world domination. If they can get Israel, they can get everything. Therefore, it is not that the West has a stake in Israel. It is Israel.

It is very difficult to be an optimist in the face of the growing Islamization of Europe. All the tides are against us. On all fronts we are losing. Demographically the momentum is with Islam. Muslim immigration is even a source of pride within ruling liberal parties. Academia, the arts, the media, trade unions, the churches, the business world, the entire political establishment have all converted to the suicidal theory of multiculturalism. So-called journalists volunteer to label any and all critics of Islamization as a `right-wing extremists' or `racists'. The entire establishment has sided with our enemy. Leftists, liberals and Christian-Democrats are now all in bed with Islam.

This is the most painful thing to see: the betrayal by our elites. At this moment in Europe's history, our elites are supposed to lead us. To stand up for centuries of civilization. To defend our heritage. To honour our eternal Judeo-Christian values that made Europe what it is today. But there are very few signs of hope to be seen at the governmental level. Sarkozy, Merkel, Brown, Berlusconi; in private, they probably know how grave the situation is. But when the little red light goes on, they stare into the camera and tell us that Islam is a religion of peace, and we should all try to get along nicely and sing Kumbaya. They willingly participate in, what President Reagan so aptly called: "the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom."

If there is hope in Europe, it comes from the people, not from the elites. Change can only come from a grass-roots level. It has to come from the citizens themselves. Yet these patriots will have to take on the entire political, legal and media establishment. Over the past years there have been some small, but encouraging, signs of a rebirth of the original European spirit. Maybe the elites turn their backs on freedom, the public does not. In my country, the Netherlands, 60 percent of the population now sees the mass immigration of Muslims as the number one policy mistake since World War II. And another 60 percent sees Islam as the biggest threat to our national identity. I don't think the public opinion in Holland is very different from other European countries.

Patriotic parties that oppose jihad are growing, against all odds. My own party debuted two years ago, with five percent of the vote. Now it stands at ten percent in the polls. The same is true of all smililary-minded parties in Europe. They are fighting the liberal establishment, and are gaining footholds on the political arena, one voter at the time. Now, for the first time, these patriotic parties will come together and exchange experiences. It may be the start of something big. Something that might change the map of Europe for decades to come. It might also be Europe's last chance.

This December a conference will take place in Jerusalem. Thanks to Professor Aryeh Eldad, a member of Knesset, we will be able to watch Fitna in the Knesset building and discuss the jihad. We are organizing this event in Israel to emphasize the fact that we are all in the same boat together, and that Israel is part of our common heritage. Those attending will be a select audience. No racist organizations will be allowed. And we will only admit parties that are solidly democratic. This conference will be the start of an Alliance of European patriots. This Alliance will serve as the backbone for all organizations and political parties that oppose jihad and Islamization. For this Alliance I seek your support.

This endeavor may be crucial to America and to the West. America may hold fast to the dream that, thanks to its location, it is safe from jihad and shaira. But seven years ago to the day, there was still smoke rising from ground zero, following the attacks that forever shattered that dream. Yet there is a danger even greater danger than terrorist attacks, the scenario of America as the last man standing. The lights may go out in Europe faster than you can imagine. An Islamic Europe means a Europe without freedom and democracy, an economic wasteland, an intellectual nightmare, and a loss of military might for America - as its allies will turn into enemies, enemies with atomic bombs. With an Islamic Europe, it would be up to America alone to preserve the heritage of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem.

Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts. My generation never had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver platter, by people who fought for it with their lives. All throughout Europe American cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made it home, and whose memory we cherish. My generation does not own this freedom; we are merely its custodians. We can only hand over this hard won liberty to Europe's children in the same state in which it was offered to us. We cannot strike a deal with mullahs and imams. Future generations would never forgive us. We cannot squander our liberties. We simply do not have the right to do so.

This is not the first time our civilization is under threat. We have seen dangers before. We have been betrayed by our elites before. They have sided with our enemies before. And yet, then, freedom prevailed.

These are not times in which to take lessons from appeasement, capitulation, giving away, giving up or giving in. These are not times in which to draw lessons from Mr. Chamberlain. These are times calling us to draw lessons from Mr. Churchill and the words he spoke in 1942: "Never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy".


Justice Department sues Dayton, Ohio, over fireman hiring practices

Because black applicants cannot pass a basic test, it must be "discrimination". I guess all the schools in America that graduate a far lower percentage of blacks than whites must be "discriminating" too

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the City of Dayton, alleging the city has discriminated against blacks through its hiring practices for police officers and firefighters. The lawsuit, filed Friday, Sept. 26, has been expected since Dayton Law Director Pat Bonfield received an Aug. 29 letter from the justice department. The city was notified about the lawsuit on Monday. Bonfield was not available for comment Tuesday morning. The city has 20 days to file an answer to the filed complaint.

The lawsuit states that the city's civilian labor force is about 36.8 percent black. Of the 440 police officers in all ranks, only 9.1 percent is black. Only 2.4 percent of the city's 332 firefighters are black, the lawsuit states.

At issue is a written test the city gives to applicants. Those who pass are placed on an eligibility list in descending rank order of test scores. The city set the passing score for the 2006 police test at 70 percent. The pass rates for whites was 68.1 percent, while the pass rate for blacks was 28.7 percent. "While African Americans constituted 16.2 percent of all applicants who took that examination, African Americans constituted only 7.6 percent of the applicants who passed that examination - a result that reduced the proportion of African American applicants under consideration by approximately 50 percent," the lawsuit states.

Another issue is the new classification of "professional firefighter," which the city started using in 2004 instead of "firefighter recruit." At that time, the city started requiring applicants to have Emergency Medical Technician-Basic and Firefighter 1 and II certifications to take the test. Before 2004, applicants obtained these certifications after hire at the city's firefighter academy. As a result, the lawsuit states, the number of black firefighter applicants dropped from 25 percent in 2002 to 6 percent in 2005.

Neither the test nor the heightened qualifications are "job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity" and do not meet the requirements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the lawsuit states.


British street cleaner attacked by Muslim mob

A COUNCIL street sweeper was racially assaulted as he cleaned a Westhulme subway. The 48-year-old was cleaning the Featherstall Road subway close to the Martha Street entrance at 9.20am on Tuesday when a gang of six Asian youths smashed a wooden post through the side window. They then rained blows on the sweeper with clubs, posts and bats and hit the victim's leg as he tried to get out of the vehicle.

As the attack took place, the gang shouted, "Asians rule supreme" and "get out of our area white scum". They ran away when the victim called the police. The victim, who has worked for the council for four years, was left shaken and had to take the rest of the day off work.

Oldham Council's service director for Streetscene. Mark Odell. confirmed that a member of the road sweeping team was involved in an incident while cleaning the subway at Featherstall Road roundabout. He added: "The worker reported the incident to the police who attended the scene and took a statement. "As a result of the incident we have reviewed our risk assessments and made some changes to the way our road sweeping staff operate in future. "Thankfully incidents where our staff are abused or worse by members of the public are rare."

Police say they are treating the matter as a racially aggravated incident and are investigating.



By Jeff Jacoby

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United States last week was everything he could have hoped for. At the United Nations, the Iranian president delivered a speech laced with undiluted anti-Semitism, denouncing "people called Zionists" who dominate the world's "financial and monetary centers" and control "the political decision-making centers" in the West through "deceitful, complex, and furtive" means. His remarks were greeted not with jeers or stony silence, but with lusty applause from the delegates and a hug from the president of the General Assembly.

Then CNN provided the hatemongering head of state with another high-profile soapbox -- an interview with Larry King, who warmly shook the Iranian president's hand and tossed him a series of fatuous softballs: *Where in the US would you like to travel? Would you like to meet Sarah Palin, since you're both former mayors? You don't wish the Jewish people any harm, do you?*

On Thursday, at New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel, Ahmadinejad was the guest of honor at a dinner and "dialogue" hosted by several left-wing Christian organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, and the World Council of Churches. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom had urged the organizers not to honor someone who "has manipulated such dialogues repeatedly into a platform for spreading hatred," and warned that lionizing Ahmadinejad would only "burnish the Iranian leader's legitimacy." To no avail. The dinner went ahead despite the protests, amid pious invocations of "engagement" and "discussion." Intoned Mark Graham of the American Friends Service Committee: "You can't just engage with people with whom you agree on all issues. That leads to a very myopic view of the world."

But the high point of Ahmadinejad's week must have been Friday night, after his return to Iran. That was when John McCain and Barack Obama met in Mississippi for their first debate, and Obama reiterated once again his determination to meet Ahmadinejad "without preconditions" if he is elected in November. "We . . . have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran," Obama insisted. "And this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain. This notion -- by not talking to people we are punishing them -- has not worked."

Obama first adopted this stance in July 2007, when he was asked in a Democratic Party debate whether he would agree to meet the rulers of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea without preconditions and promptly answered: "I would." His website reinforces that message, promising "direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." During Friday's debate, Obama claimed that even Henry Kissinger, a McCain adviser, "just said that we should meet with Iran -- guess what -- without precondition." Obama was wrong about Kissinger, who rejected Obama's view in a statement after the debate. And he is wrong on the broader issue, for at least three reasons:

First, as McCain argued, an American president's unconditional willingness to negotiate with the head of an outlaw regime gives that regime "more credence in the world arena." The more Ahmadinejad and the mullahs who back him flout fundamental standards of civilized behavior -- by fomenting terrorism, by murdering US peacekeepers, by convening Holocaust-denial conferences, by threatening Israel's extermination -- the more they crave international legitimacy. "You'll sit down across the table from them," McCain told Obama, "and that will legitimize their illegal behavior." Face-to-face talks with the US president can only enhance Ahmadinejad's stature at home and bolster his authority abroad.

Second, far from persuading international villains to end their barbaric behavior, presidential negotiations would embolden them to prolong it. After all, if such behavior can lead to a coveted presidential invitation, it stands to reason that even more rewards can be reaped from behaving even worse.

Third, no-strings-attached negotiations consume time -- an invaluable asset to a government like Iran's as it pursues a nuclear bomb. "After five years of negotiations with the Europeans," John Bolton wrote last May, "the only result is that Iran is five years closer to having nuclear weapons."

As a general rule, talking with critics and competitors makes sense, in diplomacy as in daily life. But Obama, like the UN delegates who applauded Ahmadinejad and the Christian groups that invited him to dinner, seems to believe that the welcome mat should always be out. That more dialogue is always called for. That no regime or head of state is ever so abhorrent as to deserve only ostracism. On the campaign trail, such naivet‚ is distressing. In the Oval Office, it would be alarming.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, October 03, 2008

Plenty of cultural self-assertiveness in Austria (The Ostmark der Deutschen Reich, as an infamous Austrian called it)

History's most notable Austrian carried cultural self-assertiveness way too far but there is a middle way in all things. The golden mean was a popular concept in ancient Greece and it lies behind the Anglo-Saxon predilection towards compromise too. Leftists, however, seem incapable of anything but simplistic black-and-white thinking in their political utterances. I guess you don't have to be too subtle when all you really want is to tear things down

The far Right has made a grand return in Austria, emerging from yesterday's elections as the second biggest parliamentary block, according to preliminary results. The two parties that campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union ticket have captured about 29 per cent of the vote, pushing the country's traditional conservative party into third place. Heinz-Christian Strache and his Freedom Party, who were accused of xenophobia and waging an antiMuslim campaign, won 18 per cent - a rise of 7 per cent compared with the last elections. Mr Strache's former mentor, J”rg Haider, won 11 per cent of the vote with his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria.

The mainstream parties recorded their lowest share of the vote since the Second World War, with the Social Democrats dropping 7 per cent to 29.7 per cent, while the conservative People's Party won 25.6 per cent of the vote - a decline of 9 per cent compared with 2006. The far Right block could still nudge ahead of the Social Democrats when the final result is published after all the postal votes are counted on October 6.

A throaty roar filled the Freedom Party's election tent in Vienna when the results flashed up on a screen. The crowd - mainly young and middle-aged men drinking beer - punched the air in triumph. They cheered more when Mr Strache announced that his party would only join a government that was led by himself.

Many Viennese were horrified by such a prospect, however. "It is disappointing that so many Austrians agreed to what was basically a xenophobic campaign," said Adelheid Mayr, 39. "I am ashamed of the results and I hope none of the far Right parties will be allowed to rule the country."

The elections, held two years early, were precipitated by constant squabbling within the grand coalition of the Social Democrats and the People's Party. Austrian voters seemingly punished both parties for their inability to govern together.

Analysts believe that the surge of the far Right reflects the voters' dissatisfaction with the failure of the two mainstream parties to provide a functioning government. Their success also owes much to rising anxieties over immigration and the influence of the European Union. Anton Pelinka, one of the country's most prominent political analysts, told The Times: "In Austria there has never been a clear distinction between the far Right and the mainstream political parties. Unlike in other countries, there has never been a cordon sanitaire. Extreme positions have become more and more socially acceptable over the years." In 2000 Mr Haider's Freedom Party was invited into a coalition government after winning 27 per cent of the vote. The move sparked EU sanctions against Austria.

According to Professor Pelinka, the far Right could enter government again. He said that the most probable outcome was another grand coalition, but the Social Democrats could try governing with Mr Strache's Freedom Party. Another alternative is a minority government of the Social Democrats with support from the Freedom Party and other smaller parties.

Mr Strache, 39, the biggest winner of the day, had sought to exploit fear of foreigners and Islam during his campaign. Speaking at his final election rally in Vienna's working-class district of Favoriten on Friday, he said that people were scared to see women in burkas running around "like female Ninjas", and added: "Many decent people have come here and they integrated: Poles, Hungarians, Croats and also Serbs. We are all European brothers because we do not want to become Islamised." His disdain for Islam extends to culinary matters. "One should not roast mutton in council flats. I would also not grill a wild pig in Istanbul," he has declared.

Mr Strache has attacked the EU with equal venom, railing at "the capitalists and the neo-liberals" who were turning common people into "slave workers of the European Union". Mr Strache's rally in Vienna last week was marred by a violent confrontation between hundreds of left-wing opponents and his far Right supporters, some of whom were jackbooted skinheads. The police had to separate the two sides.


Hey! Australia's new Prime Minister is not such a Leftist bleeding heart after all!

Kevin Rudd calls Bali bombers cowards who deserve 'what's coming'. Kevvy does after all come from my home State of Queensland and we do tend to be pretty forthright here. Queensland attitudes are not quite Alaskan but it gets close at times -- particularly as you go further North. I originally come from the Far-North and my views are pretty mainstream there. I am at home in my home

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd says the convicted Bali bombers are mass murderers and cowards who deserve what's coming to them. Three convicted bombers Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, face execution for their role in the october 2002 Bali terror bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. Yesterday, they were allowed out of their cells at their island prison off Central Java to mark the Islamic holiday Idul Fitri, with Amrozi telling reporters others would take revenge if they were executed.

Mr Rudd said the bombers could make whatever threats of retribution they liked. "The Bali bombers describe themselves as holy warriors. I say the Bali bombers are cowards and murderers pure and simple and frankly they can make whatever threats they like," he told Fairfax Radio in Perth. "They deserve the justice that will be delivered to them. "They are murderers, they are mass murderers and they are also cowards."

The Bali bombers were associated with terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, which conducted a series of terror attacks across Indonesia. JI has been hard hit by Indonesian counter-terrorist forces and conducted no significant attack since October 2005.

Mr Rudd said his government and its predecessor had ensured anti-terrorism policies were in robust order. "That means cooperating very closely with the Indonesian authorities on every matter concerning terrorism," he said. "It means also cooperating very closely with all of our intelligence agencies to make sure we have the best information out there on travel advisories for Australian tourists."

Mr Rudd said anyone travelling anywhere in the world should keep track of travel warnings. "Things can change quite quickly and I would urge everyone to go quickly to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website and to check the most recent and up to date travel advisory. It is very important," he said.


Challenging the politics of passivity

Whether lecturing parents or exaggerating security threats, both Obama and McCain see Americans as helpless victims

The American presidential race is now supposed to be the `change' election. On one side, Democrat Barack Obama has used the `change' slogan since he first emerged as a viable candidate, and he now argues that his policies represent a break from President George W Bush's. And on the other side, Republican John McCain has recently sought to make `change' the central theme of his campaign too, claiming that his maverick, corruption-fighting posture means that he is the candidate who can shake up Washington.

In fact, neither represents real, substantive change. Both Obama and McCain offer only shallow versions of change: all they have in mind is distancing themselves from the Bush regime, mostly in superficial ways. And both of their `change' agendas are small-minded: both lack any Big Idea about how to change politics, the economy or society fundamentally.

But there's another important indication that this election is not really about sweeping change: the candidates do not view their fellow Americans as agents of change. Instead, both Obama and McCain conceive of people as essentially passive. Both exaggerate the dangers of the world, and both view people as weak and vulnerable in the face of these dangers. In this mindset, people are not working confidently to attain the American Dream; they are victims in need of support.

This point is by no means an obvious one. But if you take a closer look at the candidates' policies, you will see that both Obama and McCain share negative assumptions about the capacity for people to effect change. Here are some of the debilitating themes that underlie their positions:

The politics of fear. Many associate the `politics of fear' with the Bush administration's war on terror, but it's more pervasive than just that campaign (1). Both McCain and Obama, like Bush, hype the threat from terrorists, but more significantly both candidates attempt to utilise fear as a means of generating support for their positions.

McCain's world is one of seemingly endless threats: contaminated water supplies and vulnerable chemical plants; internet predators and sex offenders; even `major accidents and nature itself' is a homeland security concern. Obama also plays by fear: he holds out the threat of environmental catastrophe to argue for climate change initiatives, and justifies his healthcare plans in terms of the threat of rocketing health insurance costs.

But rather than being a clever motivating tool, fear-mongering tends to paralyse people, turning them into frightened individuals. A fearful public is more likely to hunker down than seek ambitious change.

Vulnerable Individuals. Both McCain and Obama refer to people as essentially isolated and weak, and offer themselves as support. This can be clearly seen when the campaigns discuss the economy: both candidates' convention speeches, for example, contained call-outs to individuals, citing the hardship those folks had endured. Some lost their jobs, others their homes, but the overriding impression that McCain and Obama give is of sad victims who can't cope with a complex and harsh world, and not, say, people who are mad as hell and won't take it any more. This low-expectations outlook reinforces passivity.

Trust no one. As noted, McCain has made fighting corruption a main plank in his campaign. It's hard to think of a presidential candidate in modern times who thought that cleaning up Washington was the most important issue. Obama, too, has made a name for himself in this territory: he proposed federal ethics reform measures in Congress (that were eventually incorporated in the final bill) and claims that he is `in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.'

But an obsession with sleaze and corruption only encourages pre-existing cynicism about politicians and other authority figures - and ultimately supports the prevailing prejudice today that no one (even fellow citizens) can be trusted. Cynicism is not a motivation for change; it is a criticism from the sidelines that concludes that real resistance is futile.

Personal behaviour modification. Traditionally, Washington politicians would not see it as their place to discuss personal matters such as diet, health, sex and parenting strategies. But Obama has taken it upon himself to get up on the bully pulpit and lecture parents about how they raise their kids; earlier this year he told parents to `turn off the TV, help their kids with their homework and stop letting them grow fat eating Popeyes chicken for breakfast.' (2)

McCain has a lower profile in this regard, but he's also joined in; his education plans state that programs `will be focused on educating parents on the basics of preparing their children for a productive educational experience. These programs will place an emphasis on reading and numbers skills, as well as nutrition and general health' (my italics). This focus on behaviour modification is condescending and treats adults like children. It also encourages people to focus on personal matters rather than public life.

Identity politics. This election may be remembered most of all for the recurring invocation of identity politics. The Obama campaign charges Republicans with racism (for trying to `scare' voters, because Obama `doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills'), while the McCain campaign accuses Democrats of sexism (for criticisms of Sarah Palin).

But in the hands of these two campaigns, the discussion of identity politics has exploded into competing lifestyle tribes, dividing us even further (3). A focus on identity is problematic because it says what's important is who you are, rather than what you think; and it emphasizes where you have come from, not where you might go. Identity is passive rather than transformative.

All in all, the pessimistic worldview shared by Obama and McCain assumes that people do not bring about change. Change is something that happens to them, and not in a good way.

In one sense, this is not really about Obama and McCain. Their gloomy visions of the human potential merely reflect the prevailing views in Western societies today. But their campaigns are influential and serve only to reinforce these negative outlooks.

The election discourse reveals the need to challenge today's common-sense politics of passivity. In contrast to Obama and McCain, we should argue for the capacity for people to make a difference, both in their personal and public lives. We need a new type of politics that assumes individuals are robust, not victims in need of help; looks forward to social advancement, rather than be immersed in issues of personal behavior in the present; engages in rational assessment of risks rather than indulge in fears about the worst-case scenarios; and emphasizes universal values and our ability to transform situations, rather than be reduced to handed-down particularist identities.

The candidates can talk about `change' all they want. But the change that's worth its name requires a politics that assumes people are strong enough and smart enough to sort out their problems, and that includes the political and social problems facing us.


Australia: A Leftist State government subsidizes homosexuality

Maybe this will inspire the New Zealand government to subsidize sheep-shaggers! How about a sheep 'n shagger Mardi Gras? Should be good for the NZ lamb industry.

TAXPAYERS will for the first time be forced to fund the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras after the State Government last night came to the financial aid of the debt-plagued event. Mardi Gras organisers and new government body Events NSW confirmed the deal last night after it was leaked to the gay media yesterday. A major Sydney attraction, it is claimed the new funding deal would boost the $30 million the parade injects into the state each year.

"This is really a tactical investment to allow them to build a platform that they haven't been able to build in the past, to drive more money into the state," Events NSW CEO Geoff Parmenter said last night. "We're investing in the development of the plan that will allow them to develop more visitors and more investment than the event's able to do now." Until now the Mardi Gras has struggled on the volatile income of fundraising and membership fees to stay afloat. Government support has included help with policing and public transport, and financial exemptions.

The new funding arrangement, which follows months of negotiations, will involve taxpayer dollars going directly into the colourful parade for the first time. The extent of the financial lifeline was not revealed last night. Terms of the deal were kept secret but the parties confirmed the Government would put up a portion of the several hundred thousand dollars it costs to hold the parade each year.

"It is injecting a considerable and significant level of support with reference to the Mardi Gras parade which is going to enable us to sustain and grow, increase production values and creativity, and to assist us in bringing more tourism into the state," New Mardi Gras chair David Imrie said. "It is now going to be self-sustaining and grow. We are going to see higher production values now. "It's really exciting because we're going into the 31st year now and it enables us to start a new generation with a strong foothold."

The financial turnaround was already underway before the deal, with New Mardi Gras reporting a $500,000 profit this year. Despite its massive popularity, organisers of the festival faced debts of $700,000 in 2002 after a voluntary administrator found they had been trading while insolvent. New Mardi Gras emerged from its ashes and now the financially healthy - and government-backed - event, which started as a protest in 1978, draws an estimated 500,000 spectators each year. Mr Parmenter said the decision to fund the parade was the result of studying existing successful events and "seeing where we can assist to get them to work a bit harder".



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

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

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


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Thursday, October 02, 2008


Justice for the Gurkhas at last

It's a disgrace that the Gurkhas had to fight the leftist British government for this. Only reality-defying and military-hating Leftists could argue that the Gurkhas "did not have strong ties to the UK"

I remember once when I was in Britain, probably in 1977, seeing these small Asian men in green caps on guard at Buckingham palace. I expected tall men in red jackets and bearskin hats. It was very surprising to see until one realized that the guard that day were Gurkhas. It is only the great affection felt towards the Gurkhas by most British people that gave them the honour of standing guard at Britain's most important ceremonial post. The one thing that we can be grateful about in the disgraceful affair described below is that the Gurkhas saw very clearly that the British government was the problem, not the British people.

It is difficult to imagine a more racist policy in this day and age than the British government claim that it OK for Gurkhas to die for Britain but not OK for them to live in Britain

Former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal won the right to settle in Britain on Tuesday, in what their lawyers hailed as an "historic victory" for the veteran fighters. Ending a two-year legal battle, the High Court in London ruled in their favour in a test case affecting some 2000 Gurkhas who retired from the British army before 1997.

"Today is a wonderful, terrific victory day for the Gurkhas of Nepal," said their lawyer, Martin Howe. "It's a victory for common sense. It's a victory for fairness. ... It's a day that will go down in history for the Gurkhas." Until now, only Gurkhas who retired after 1997, when their base was moved from Hong Kong to England, had the automatic right to settle in Britain. All other foreign soldiers in the British army have a right to settle in Britain after four years of service anywhere in the world.

Around 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World Wars I and II, and about 3500 currently serve in the British army, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 45,000 have died serving Britain. Judge Nicholas Blake underlined the "moral debt of honour" and gratitude which Britain has to the Gurkhas for their long military service, wounds sustained in battle, conspicuous acts of bravery and loyalty to the crown.

Howe said the case had seen "a torrential outpouring of affection and concern" from ordinary British people - and called on the government to allow the affected Gurkhas in immediately. "We call today on our government to respect the views of the people of Britain, to respect this judgment fully and immediately allow the men and women affected by this judgment to come into this country," he said.

Subas Gurung, 47, a former staff sergeant in the Gurkha Transport Regiment, told AFP outside court that the British government's stance was "very unfair." "I'm very, very happy to hear the verdict," said the Gulf War veteran who was decorated with the British Empire Medal for his service peacekeeping in Cyprus in 1991. "All the soldiers who retired before 1997 who were badly affected now can join with us which is very, very good news for me and people like me who are back in Nepal. "We joined together, we worked together, we should be able to get the right treatment together as a group," he said. He added: "The British people really supported this case. If they had not supported so well, this day probably would not have come. "I would really like to thank the British public supporting us and recognising the value of the soldiers who have been in service over 200 years."

British actress Joanna Lumley, who has been a key supporter of the campaign, welcomed the judgment but called for a change in the law to cement it. "It gives our country a chance to right a great wrong, and to wipe out a national shame that has stained us all," said the actress, whose father fought alongside the Gurkhas. "It's not over yet. Until the laws are changed, fundamentally rewritten, it's not over yet."

The Gurkhas, who are renowned for their bravery and ferocious fighting skills, have also struggled for many years for pension rights equal to those of their British army counterparts. Three Gurkhas who lost a court challenge on pensions in July are taking their case to the Court of Appeal in October.


British local government tyranny


CAMPAIGNERS have condemned a council's plan to fine residents $10,000 for leaving wheelie bins out, branding it an "abuse of power" and "blatant moneymaking". Under the scheme residents would face a penalty of $200 if their bin was still on the street the day after it had been emptied. But if householders fail to pay up within 14 days they could face court action - where they may be fined 50 times more.

East Staffordshire Borough Council has been given permission to issue the notices to those who persistently leave bins out. They will be introduced in Burton-on-Trent in the coming weeks.

Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "This is quite staggering and completely over the top. "It is a blatant attempt by the council to make money rather than enforce a law reasonably. "I am sure there are many scourges in communities which would be better addressed than leaving a wheelie bin outside your home for more than 24 hours. "This is just the kind of abuse of local authority power that makes people resent councils."

Christine Melsom, founder of council tax campaign group IsItfair, said: "A lot of people find it hard to stick to a deadline, especially if they are going out to work. "People are trying hard to be responsible with their rubbish. This is heavy handed."

A council spokesman said: "The starting date for the scheme is imminent. We have everything in place and wardens will be the eyes on the streets to enforce it. "Bins should only be put out on the evening before refuse collection is due and returned to private land on the same day." Town hall bosses say left-out bins present a danger to pedestrians, especially those with impaired vision or disabilities.


More stupid and uncaring bureaucracy

Stalker Barry George has been living at a run-down hotel used as a hostel for vulnerable women, The Sun can reveal. The weirdo tried to strike up friendships with battered wives and destitute single mums he met there.

George, 48, was cleared at a retrial of murdering BBC Crimewatch star Jill Dando after serving eight years for her killing. He stalked hundreds of women in the past - and has convictions for attempted rape and indecent assault. Yet he was placed in the hotel by a council while waiting for more suitable accommodation.

Last night Women's Aid branded the move "absolutely appalling". The charity - which works to end domestic violence - added: "These women should be put first and that does not seem to be happening."

Loner George approached women residents inside the hotel and chatted to them in the street. One said: "I can't believe a man who has been convicted of trying to rape someone and stalked lots of women would be housed in a place like this.

Another source said of the hotel: "It is mainly full of single mums on the waiting list for a council home. They want to be somewhere they feel safe, not in a hotel next to a stalker." George was put up at the bed and breakfast joint in Hackney, East London, despite allegedly being paid $100,000 for his story by a Sunday newspaper. He is also in line to receive up to $1,500,000 in compensation.

It was reported he had been staying with a relative but Hackney council placed him in the $608-a-week hotel - now being refurbished. He was one of only three men in the 40-bedroom establishment. George was put there under a Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement, designed to supervise violent and serious sex offenders.

As well as fears he might start stalking women again, there were concerns for his safety. He was moved from the hotel last Thursday after a worried resident spoke to the manager. Neither Hackney council nor the Ministry of Justice - responsible for MAPPAs - would comment.


Britain's Keystone Kops again

Police confiscate walking stick from retired teacher, 78, because it is an 'offensive weapon'. And then they can't even find it when they want to give it back! They are as incompetent as they are lacking in commonsense

They must have known he was a troublemaker the moment they saw him. With his white hair, wax jacket and glasses, 78-year-old Philip Clarkson Webb clearly ticked all the boxes any eagle-eyed policemen would mark as 'danger'. And as he shuffled along the pavement towards them there was one thing above all they deemed to pose a threat - his walking stick. The officers surrounded the retired classics teacher and informed him the 3ft wooden cane was an 'offensive weapon' and had to be confiscated. Mr Clarkson Webb duly handed it over, but the farce did not end there.

When he later went to collect it from his local police station in Southborough, Kent, with his police receipt, he was told it had been misplaced. It took a string of phone calls for Kent Police to finally admit they had lost it and to offer to buy him a brand new one.

Mr Clarkson Webb was caught up by overzealous policing at a climate camp environmental demonstration in Kingsnorth last month. He was not one of the activists at the climate camp but merely paid a visit to attend a seminar on trade energy quotas. The police stopped him and confiscated his walking stick as he approached the site where dozens of policemen, some in riot gear, were stationed.

Mr Clarkson Webb said: "At the bottom of the lane Kent Police officers confiscated my stick as an offensive weapon but gave me a receipt and promised to return it. "But later when I produced my receipt and asked for the stick it was curtly refused. "Since that date there have been three different telephone conversations. They've lost the stick even though it had a numbered receipt."

Mr Clarkson Webb, who is currently using his spare stick, said: "What this shows is that the efficiency of the police leaves a lot to be desired. "In total the policing for this climate camp cost the taxpayer 6 million pounds. It was a disgraceful waste of taxpayers' money."

Medway MP Bob Marshall Andrews criticised the police for being "provocative and heavy handed" and said the vast majority of the people at the climate camp were "thoroughly decent people".

Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas has apologised. He said: "We are sorry we have not been able to return Mr Clarkson Webb's stick and we have apologised to him directly. "During the climate camp there was a considerable amount of activity and our officers and others from around the country who supported Kent Police had to make swift decisions as part of policing the protestors. "Any complaints that are made will be looked into thoroughly."



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

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

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


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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin derangement syndrome spreads to Australia

How the Left hate normal, happy people!

Just imagine what the sneering left intelligentsia, in the United States and elsewhere, would have said if a Republican vice-presidential candidate had told CBS News that "when the stockmarket crashed [in 1929], Franklin Roosevelt got on television" and informed Americans what had happened. No doubt scores of left-liberal types would have lined-up to say the Republican Herbert Hoover, and not the Democrat Roosevelt, was in the White House when the Great Depression began, and regular TV broadcasting did not occur in the US until about 1941.

Yet the Democrat Joe Biden made these howlers in an interview with Katie Couric. She did not correct the vice-presidential candidate. This is the same Couric who grilled Sarah Palin in an interview which aired a few days later. The line of this interrogation turned on the thesis that the Governor of Alaska is not well enough informed to hold the second-highest office in the US.

Biden and Palin go head-to-head in their only debate on Friday (Sydney time). Both are able performers so, in scoring parlance, a draw is the likely outcome. However, the constant criticism of Palin by large sections of the predominantly left-liberal mainstream media means Biden will go into this verbal contest as favourite. The real outcome will turn on what impact the candidates have on voters in such swing states as Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Palin has undergone fierce and sometimes personal criticism from the left-intelligentsia, primarily because she is a conservative, Christian, married mother of five from the small town of Wasilla in Alaska. The feminist Maureen Dowd has depicted Palin as "the glamorous Pioneer Woman, packing a gun, a baby and a Bible". Professor Wendy Doniger, of the University of Chicago, has gone further, declaring that Palin's "greatest hypocrisy is her pretence that she is a woman". And the NBC News commentator Andrea Mitchell has been reported as maintaining that "only the uneducated would vote for Mrs Palin".

For her part, Palin has responded as well as possible to this criticism. She pointed to her experience as mayor of Wasilla (population 7000) and, more recently, Governor of Alaska. For an Australian comparison, the position of Alaskan governor would equate with the Tasmania premiership. Tasmania is Australia's smallest state but those who become its premier are invariably politically skilled. The former prime minister Joe Lyons, who was once premier of Tasmania, comes to mind.

Moreover, Palin responded to the Couric putdown that she has travelled very little outside of the US with a matter-of-fact depiction of her life so far: "I'm not one of those who maybe come from a background, you know, kids who perhaps graduate [from] college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go travel the world. No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs until I had kids."

Unlike most media commentators, Bill Clinton has run successfully for public office. The former Democrat president had a different take on Palin when interviewed by CNN's Larry King last week. He said he could only judge Palin from how he believes she is going in his home state of Arkansas "where half the people live in communities of less than 2500 and there are people who are pro-choice and pro-life and more than half the people have a hunting or fishing licence". He added that "they like families that hang together, that deal with adversity, that are proud of all their members". Clinton described Palin as an "appealing person" and praised John McCain's political acumen for choosing her as his running mate.

The anti-Palin ethos prevalent among left-liberals in America can also be found in Australia, at differing levels of intensity. For example, on September 17, the 7.30 Report presenter Kerry O'Brien introduced a report on Palin with a reference to "the pro-gun, pro-life mother of five". For the record, O'Brien does not mention his own family arrangements on either the 7.30 Report website or in his Who's Who In Australia entry. In the subsequent report, Tracy Bowden referred to the Governor of Alaska as "the moose-hunting, evangelical mother of five". Yes, we know.

Meanwhile The Age's house leftist, Catherine Deveny, has gone overboard in her sneering. In a recent column, she described Palin as "the closest thing Republican strategists could find to a man without a vagina", a "white trash trophy wife wearing glasses so she looks intellectual" and a "white trash moron". No need for repetition here, we got the abusive message the first time.

Even so, Deveny repeated the line last week, describing Palin as "a dangerous, divisive moron". Deveny is the embodiment of that part of Australian inner-city professional left which despises those who live middle-class lives in the suburbs and regional centres. Writing on August 6, she could hardly disguise her contempt for suburban Australia: "I can't tell you how often I seriously wish I were living in some outer suburb, content with signed and framed football jumpers on the wall, no bookshelves and a coffee table covered in remote controls, happy to read romance novels over my Cup-a-Soup".

Early in the presidential campaign, Barack Obama was reported at a private function as saying that small-town voters in the US were bitter and therefore took refuge in "guns or religion". He quickly learnt that contempt for suburban and rural America would not lead to political victory in November and he has not repeated such comments. It is most unlikely that Biden will run such a line against Palin in this week's debate. By the way, I will be watching and rooting for Palin.


Inverted class prejudice among the British media elite

The film-maker whose debut movie, about bourgeois Britons in Tuscany, has filled cinemas and been lauded by critics has attacked the titans of British cinema for shunning or stereotyping the middle classes. Joanna Hogg, the director of Unrelated, castigated figures such as Mike Leigh, Guy Ritchie and Richard Curtis for their misleading portrayal of the class system. She believes many in the cinema Establishment are interested in portraying only the working class and either consider bourgeois subjects too dull to carry a film or turn them into caricatures to please American audiences.

"So many film-makers who are themselves often middle class have considered films about the working classes more exotic and interesting," said Hogg, who has spent most of the past 20 years working on television soaps. "They have presumed that middle-class people do not have as many dilemmas or problems, so their lives are thought less interesting for films and therefore taboo."

Before making Unrelated, Hogg, 47, had been contemplating a film about the English middle classes for years but held back because she thought she would never be able to raise money for the project and assumed critics would "lay into my subject matter". Reviewers have, however, given high praise to Unrelated, which tells the story of a married woman in her forties who goes to stay with an old school friend in Tuscany. "So many cinema-goers are disenfranchised, as there are not enough British films to which they can relate," said Hogg, who raised the 250,000 pounds for Unrelated through friends and contacts. She made a point of avoiding film companies and the UK Film Council, which awards lottery money.

In addition to criticising directors' approaches to the middle class, she attacked the way they portrayed the working class. "Mike Leigh [who made Nuts in May and Vera Drake] is rather patronising, while Guy Ritchie [of Madonna and director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels] exaggerates the working-class characteristics."

She also attacked Curtis's films, such as Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, even though they do have middle-class characters at their core. "They are what Hollywood thinks is the British middle class," Hogg said. She is now making two more films that focus on the British middle class.


Where "Taking Race Into Account" Is Legitimate

I have written many times that I believe it is almost always illegitimate for the state to "take race into account," to use the current euphemism for employing racial preferences. Indeed, the only acceptable (to me) exception to such a prohibition I've found is the legitimacy of assigning, say, black police officers to go undercover to penetrate a black gang. (But even that exception is not without problems; see here and here.)

But continuing reflection on the common description of Clarence Thomas, and now Sarah Palin, as affirmative action selections, as I just discussed in my immediately preceding post, leads me to conclude that more needs to be said about some nooks and crannies of our public life where the rule barring consideration of race probably does not, and should not, apply. And, where "more needs to be said," I'm always happy to say it. As I wrote in my previous post,
Thomas was ... criticized as, in effect, an affirmative action hire by people who do not object in principle to affirmative action hires ... (and defended, of course, by people who do have principled objections to affirmative action hires in most situations). Of course being appointed to the Supreme Court is not "most situations," and neither is being nominated for vice president....
I now believe, however, that there is less inconsistency here than meets the eye. That's because I believe there are certain kinds of personnel decisions where there is, and should be, no bar to "taking race into account," and appointment to the Supreme Court (and certain other appointment decisions) and the selection of a vice-presidential nominee are two examples.

Before getting to those (and other) examples, however, let me first try to establish the principle that creates these exceptions. And to do that let me begin with an extreme example: marriage. Does anyone doubt that there should be no law restricting a person's right to choose, or reject, a marriage partner on the basis of race? Another example: voting. Liberals have been telling us incessantly that if Obama loses it will be because some white voters are racist and won't vote for a black candidate. But presumably even they don't believe such "race-conscious" behavior is, or can be made, illegal. Indeed, I suspect many, maybe even most, liberals would argue that a whites-only political party, a party that excludes blacks and Jews, has a right to exist and field candidates.

In short, there are some areas of life, both public and private, where civil rights protections simply do not, and should not, apply. But this is not simply a matter of there being no "rights" involved. It is true that no one has a"right" to be appointed to the Supreme Court, or selected to run for vice-president, but that's not precisely the point. After all, no one has a "right" to be accepted to college, either. But there's a big difference between the former and the latter: prospective Supreme Court justices or vice presidents have no "rights" in the matter of their selection whatsoever; the president, or presidential nominee, has total and unreviewable discretion regarding their selection (although that decision is subject to later review by the Senate in one case and the voters in the other).

College and job applicants, by contrast, although they have no right to be admitted or hired, do indeed have, and should have, the right to be judged in a manner that does not benefit or burden them because of their race. Or at least they would if the 14th Amendment and civil rights laws were fairly and reasonably interpreted and applied.

Thus, even if Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin were selected because of their race or sex (and, as I argued in my last post, I don't believe that is necessarily the case), no colorblind principle would have been violated, because such a principle does not and should not apply to those cases. Thus there is no inconsistency in conservatives lauding those appointments, although I do believe it remains inconsistent for liberals who approve of affirmative hiring across the board to denounce these two, and others they don't like, as affirmative action hires.

Source (See the original for links)

Spanking: A small smack is not child abuse

The article from Australia below is in part a response to this story of official bloody-mindedness

The NSW Department of Community Services thinks the children would be better in foster care than with a family member who smacks the bottoms of naughty children. Has the world gone mad or am I am missing something here?

While I was reading this shocking story, my kids were in a frenzy over some altercation that had quickly snowballed out of control, the way only kids can. On and on it went, until I heard myself shouting at the top of my voice for some peace and common sense. And that's all we can do, isn't it? Shout like a maniac until someone listens, though you have to wonder whether this traumatises both parent and child to a greater degree.

Of course, it was different in our day. Certainly, it was different in the days when the grandmother in the newspaper was a child. Spare the rod and spoil the child was the mantra back then.

I feel terribly sorry for this woman. She has cared for her four grandkids on and off for the last six years as their mother battled drug addiction. Surely she deserves some sympathy, not public humiliation. But some experts say what she allegedly did was unacceptable. I say to them, walk a mile in her shoes.

Bringing up happy, healthy, polite and caring children has never been easy, but it is getting more difficult because of the push for parenting to be so politically correct that there is no room for common sense and gut instinct.

I admire the work of Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci, but I do not support his push for a national ban on smacking. He has pushed for it since a 2006 foundation survey found most people thought smacking was acceptable. Mr Tucci wanted the Government to legislate against parents doing it. But the Australian Family Association argued that laws which meant the Government decided who was and was not a good parent would go too far.

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie dismissed it, saying that a smack on the bum never hurt anybody. And I think that is the belief of many of my generation.

Mr Tucci worries that when adults use physical punishment, it's usually because they're frustrated. He believes there's a risk of hurting the child because you're not in control of yourself. Of course there are derelict parents who lash out at their kids, but let's not confuse them with the 99 per cent who only wish to impose some boundaries.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, kids knew that if they behaved badly there would be consequences. Yes, often it was a smack on the bottom. But in all honesty it did us no permanent damage.

I wonder if the same is true of yelling. Verbal abuse is as destructive as physical abuse. And, yes, in a perfect world parents wouldn't yell or smack, and all children would be little angels. It doesn't work that way. I am with John Morrissey on this. The Australian Family Association spokesman says there is a big difference between a small smack and hurting or abusing a child.

In April, there was a push in Tasmania for a ban on smacking. Children's Commissioner Paul Mason told the ABC that corporal punishment taught children not to get caught and that violence was acceptable in resolving conflict. But doesn't it also teach kids not to repeat the same offence? Doesn't it impose on the child a sense that they've gone over the boundary and need to rein in their behaviour?

Of course, I am not supporting child abuse in any form, but there is a profound difference between a reproaching smack and an out-of-control slap or something worse. Most parents understand that, and surely our authorities should as well.

Flexibility and common sense are traits of good parents. It's about time the "experts" and the authorities displayed the same attributes.



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

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

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


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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