Thursday, August 23, 2007

Australia: Green/Left paranoia about the Brethren continues

The Green/Left are determined to "get" conservative Christians who campaign against them. And when the Prime Minister meets with the Elect Vessel, the paranoia becomes full-blown. I suspect that, in their heart of hearts, Leftists feel that these religious guys might really have powers not available to ordinary men

JOHN Howard has held a private meeting with the most senior leaders of the Exclusive Brethren, including a man under investigation by police over his massive spending on the Prime Minister's 2004 election campaign. In his parliamentary office two weeks ago, Mr Howard met Sydney pump salesman Mark Mackenzie, whose former company, Willmac, funnelled $370,000 into pro-Howard advertising at the last election. Willmac's spending was later investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission's disclosure arm, and then referred to the Australian Federal Police for a criminal investigation, which is continuing. Also at the August 8 meeting were the secretive sect's world leader, or "Elect Vessel", Bruce D. Hales, his brother Stephen and elder Warwick John.

A Brethren spokesman confirmed to The Age yesterday that the meeting had taken place, but emphatically denied they had asked for Mr Howard's help on the police investigation or offered him support for his campaign against Maxine McKew in Bennelong.

Mr Howard's office said only that he had met members of the Brethren, as he did with a "wide range of groups", and would "continue to do so".

The Brethren spokesman said the elders had "assured the Prime Minister that they were praying for him". "There was absolutely no dialogue concerning Willmac, just as there was no discussion about . Bennelong," he said. "The members of the church primarily assured Prime Minister Howard that they were praying for him, as the leader of the Government, and then went on to discuss the economy. "This was a last-minute opportunity that presented itself. There was no agenda or pre-arranged discussion topics, simply an opportunity to greet Prime Minister Howard. "These mysterious campaign plans being suggested are wild speculation and the reality is they aren't there."

The spokesman also said that the Brethren's private schools, which benefit from millions of dollars of federal funding, were not discussed, nor was the Government's policy to exclude unions from Brethren workplaces. The spokesman added that, in the context of Mr Howard and Kevin Rudd addressing Christians across Australia the following day, "the particular meeting with the Brethren church group seems very unremarkable".

The Age believes the Brethren are likely to be substantial donors to the Liberal Party in the lead-up to this year's election, and that some donations will help fund the Bennelong campaign. Stephen Hales ran the Brethren's pro-Howard drive in Bennelong at the last election, authorising a number of the group's controversial print advertisements using the address of the Brethren school and helping find Brethren members to campaign for Mr Howard.

One Greens campaigner in Bennelong, Matthew Henderson, told The Age the sect was already working on Mr Howard's campaign. At the Prime Minister's recent walk-through at the Eastwood Plaza shopping centre in his electorate, "there were a bunch of people I went to school with . I recognise them as Brethren - and they appeared to be more than familiar with the Liberal Party supporters' group". Greens senator Bob Brown said yesterday that Mr Howard should reveal the "full nature of not just these discussions but his whole ongoing relationship with the murkily mysterious Mr Hales and the Exclusive Brethren". "I am concerned that the Prime Minister should be so guileless and desperate that the access to potential money from this cashed-up sect should be so important him," he said.


Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege

Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory. The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

To many of Dr. Bailey's peers, his story is a morality play about the corrosive effects of political correctness on academic freedom. Some scientists say that it has become increasingly treacherous to discuss politically sensitive issues. They point to several recent cases, like that of Helmuth Nyborg, a Danish researcher who was fired in 2006 after he caused a furor in the press by reporting a slight difference in average I.Q. test scores between the sexes.

"What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field," said Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar and patients' rights advocate at Northwestern who, after conducting a lengthy investigation of Dr. Bailey's actions, has concluded that he is essentially blameless. "If we're going to have research at all, then we're going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we've got problems not only for science but free expression itself."

To Dr. Bailey's critics, his story is a different kind of morality tale. "Nothing we have done, I believe, and certainly nothing I have done, overstepped any boundaries of fair comment on a book and an author who stepped into the public arena with enthusiasm to deliver a false and unscientific and politically damaging opinion," Deirdre McCloskey, a professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of Dr. Bailey's principal critics, said in an e-mail message.

The hostilities began in the spring of 2003, when Dr. Bailey published a book, "The Man Who Would Be Queen," intended to explain the biology of sexual orientation and gender to a general audience. "The next two years," Dr. Bailey said in an interview, "were the hardest of my life."

Many sex researchers who have worked with Dr. Bailey say that he is a solid scientist and collaborator, who by his own admission enjoys violating intellectual taboos. In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake - in essence, women trapped in men's bodies. Dr. Bailey described the alternate theory, which is based on Canadian studies done in the 1980s and 1990s, in part by telling the stories of several transgender women he met through a mutual acquaintance. In the book, he gave them pseudonyms, like "Alma" and "Juanita."

Other scientists praised the book as a compelling explanation of the science. The Lambda Literary Foundation, an organization that promotes gay, bisexual and transgender literature, nominated the book for an award. But days after the book appeared, Lynn Conway, a prominent computer scientist at the University of Michigan, sent out an e-mail message comparing Dr. Bailey's views to Nazi propaganda. She and other transgender women found the tone of the book abusive, and the theory of motivation it presented to be a recipe for further discrimination. Dr. Conway did not respond to requests for an interview.

Dr. Ben Barres, a neurobiologist at Stanford, said in reference to Dr. Bailey's thesis in the book, "Bailey seems to make a living by claiming that the things people hold most deeply true are not true." At a public meeting of sex researchers shortly after the book's publication, Dr. John Bancroft, then director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, said to Dr. Bailey, "Michael, I have read your book, and I do not think it is science," according to accounts of the meeting. Dr. Bancroft confirmed the comment.

The backlash soon turned from the book to its author. After consulting with Dr. Conway, four of the transgender women who spoke to Dr. Bailey during his reporting for the book wrote letters to Northwestern, complaining that they had been used as research subjects without having given, or been asked to sign, written consent. One wrote a letter making another accusation against Dr. Bailey: she claimed he had had sex with her. Dr. Conway and Dr. McCloskey also wrote letters to Northwestern, accusing Dr. Bailey of grossly violating scientific standards "by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of the study." They also wrote to the Illinois state regulators, requesting that they investigate Dr. Bailey for practicing psychology without a license. Dr. Bailey, who was not licensed to practice clinical psychology in Illinois, had provided some of those who helped him with the book with brief case evaluation letters, suggesting that they were good candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. A spokesman for the state said that regulators took no action on the complaints.

In an interview, Dr. Bailey said that nothing he did was wrong or unethical. "I interviewed people for a book," he said. "This is a free society, and that should be allowed." But by the end of 2003, the controversy had a life of its own on the Internet. Dr. Conway, the computer scientist, kept a running chronicle of the accusations against Dr. Bailey on her Web site. Any Google search of Dr. Bailey's name brought up Dr. Conway's site near the top of the list. The site also included a link to the Web page of another critic of Dr. Bailey's book, Andrea James, a Los Angeles-based transgender advocate and consultant. Ms. James downloaded images from Dr. Bailey's Web site of his children, taken when they were in middle and elementary school, and posted them on her own site, with sexually explicit captions that she provided. (Dr. Bailey is a divorced father of two.) Ms. James said in an e-mail message that Dr. Bailey's work exploited vulnerable people, especially children, and that her response echoed his disrespect.

Dr. Dreger is the latest to arrive at the battlefront. She is a longtime advocate for people born with ambiguous sexuality and has been strongly critical of sex researchers in the past. She said she had presumed that Dr. Bailey was guilty and, after meeting him through a mutual friend, had decided to investigate for herself. But in her just-completed account, due to be published next year in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the field's premier journal, she concluded that the accusations against the psychologist were essentially groundless. For example, Dr. Dreger found that two of the four women who complained to Northwestern of research violations were not portrayed in the book at all. The two others did know their stories would be used, as they themselves said in their letters to Northwestern.

The accusation of sexual misconduct came five years after the fact, and was not possible to refute or confirm, Dr. Dreger said. It specified a date in 1998 when Dr. Bailey was at his ex-wife's house, looking after their children, according to dated e-mail messages between the psychologist and his ex-wife, Dr. Dreger found. The transgender woman who made the complaint said through a friend that she stood by the accusation but did not want to talk about it.

Moreover, based on her own reading of federal regulations, Dr. Dreger, whose report can be viewed at, argued that the book did not qualify as scientific research. The federal definition describes "a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation." Dr. Bailey used the people in his book as anecdotes, not as the subjects of a systematic investigation, she reported. "The bottom line is that they tried to ruin this guy, and they almost succeeded," Dr. Dreger said. Dr. Dreger's report began to circulate online last week, and Dr. Bailey's critics already have attacked it as being biased.

For their part, Northwestern University administrators began an investigation of Dr. Bailey's research in later 2003 (there is no evidence that they investigated the sex complaint). The inquiry, which lasted almost a year, brought research to a near standstill in Dr. Bailey's laboratory, and clouded his name among some other researchers, according to people who worked with the psychologist. "That was the worst blow of all, that we didn't get much support" from Northwestern, said Gerulf Rieger, a graduate student of Dr. Bailey's at the time, and now a lecturer at Northwestern. "They were quite scared and not very professional, I thought."

A spokesman for the university declined to comment on the investigation, which concluded in 2004. One collaborator broke with Dr. Bailey over the controversy, Dr. Bailey said. Others who remained loyal said doing so had a cost: two researchers said they were advised by a government grant officer that they should distance themselves from Dr. Bailey to improve their chances of receiving financing. "He told me it would be better if I played down any association with Bailey," said Khytam Dawood, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Bailey said that the first weeks of the backlash were the worst. He tried not to think about the accusations, he said, but would wake up in the middle of the night unable to think of anything else. He took anti-anxiety pills for a while. He began to worry about losing his job. He said that friends and family supported him but that some colleagues were afraid to speak up in his defense. "They saw what I was going through, I think, and wanted no part of it," he said.

The fog of war, which can overwhelm the senses of real soldiers, can also descend on academic feuds, and it seems to have done so on this one. In October 2004, Dr. Bailey stepped down as chairman of the psychology department. He declined to say why, and a spokesman for Northwestern would say only that the change in status had nothing to do with the book. These unknowns seem if anything to have extended the life of the controversy, which still simmers online.

"I think for me, for the work I do, honestly, I don't really care what his theories are," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, of Dr. Bailey. "But I do want to feel like any theories that affect the lives of so many people are based in good science, and that they're presented responsibly."

But that, say supporters of Dr. Bailey, is precisely the problem: Who defines responsible? And at what cost is that definition violated? It is perhaps fitting that the history of this conflict, which caught fire online, is being written and revised continually in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is compiled and corrected by users. The reference site provides a lengthy entry on Dr. Bailey, but a section titled "Research Misconduct," which posts some of the accusations Dr. Dreger reviewed, includes a prominent warning. It reads: "The neutrality of this section is disputed."


The media mob

When Karl Rove resigned from his White House job last week, to a chorus of yowling cat-calls from furious news writers around the country, some scribblers were particularly offended by a word Mr. Rove used for his good friends in the media: The word "mob." Rove was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying,

"I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."

Touche! Karl. Not just one, but two separate Washington Post staffers split the peaceful summer night with howls of outrage. Eugene Robinson and Monica Hesse tore at Mr. Rove's flesh in two WaPo columns, just for using that little word, "mob."

Their united outrage proved his point: They are a mob. Funny, because the Media Mob commonly describes itself in just those terms: as "sharks" looking for "blood in the water" to start a "feeding frenzy." "What bleeds, leads." Sounds like a classic lynch mob, doesn't it? But the victims aren't supposed to answer back. They must hemorrhage silently, while the drooling newshounds bay at the moon to celebrate yet another kill. Well, Mr. Rove didn't play along this time.

In 1991, Supreme Court Justice-to-be Clarence Thomas struck back with the words "high-tech lynching" to describe the smears hurled at him by the liberal media to kill his chances at the Senate Judiciary Committee. For a few days the white Media Mob froze in its tracks. Perhaps at that magic moment it recognized itself as a mob in a Black man's eyes. Because Justice Thomas was born in the Jim Crow South, and he knew exactly what he was talking about when it came to lynch mobs. Clarence Thomas' nomination passed the Committee within days of his verbal counter-attack. Then the Media Mob just fell back into its old ways.

The Big Media are a mob. That should be Politics 101. They are a tiny, unchecked power elite, locked into life-long careers in the remnant of a crumbling monopoly over America's national conversation. Like other unaccountable elites, they are monumentally fickle, self-indulgent, snobbish, vain, vulgar, entitled, incestuous, arrogant, ignorant, unprincipled, hysterical, and demagogic. They sound like a unified chorus for the same reasons that street mobs run as a group -- because by and large, they don't dare to stand alone. Media snobs are always looking over their shoulders to see if they are still singing from the same hymnal as The New York Times. The US media have been one-sidedly Leftist, while piously proclaiming their devotion to impartiality. Thus, they are also institutionally mendacious. Telling the truth is hardly their job. They're just not qualified.

During the Stalin era the New York Times sent Soviet boot-licker Walter Duranty to be its correspondent in Moscow, and after careful reconsideration of his genocide cover-up stories for the Times, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize, the Pinch Sulzberger mob decided that the NYT deserved to keep Duranty's Pulitzer. (As indeed it does; nothing is more revealing than the prizes these frauds keep awarding themselves.)

But we don't have to look all the way back to the 1930s. On any given day, any similarity between the headlines and the most important events of the day is purely coincidental; it's all a matter of "editorial judgment." My local liberal rag just had a page-one color cover of the earthquake tragedy in Peru, taking an estimated 500 lives. That is entirely appropriate. On the same day they blacked out the Al-Qaeda truck bombing of Iraqi Yazidi Kurds, which also took some 500 innocent lives. A natural tragedy receives page one treatment with color photos; a simultaneous mass murder by America's most threatening and savage enemies is stashed away in a dark corner. Our entire national thought process has been twisted as a result.

Who would you say has made the greatest contribution to human welfare in the world in the last half century? Was it Hillary Clinton? Rachel Carson? Bill Gates? A stronger case can be made for Professor Norman Borlaug, the scientist who started and spread the Green Revolution across the world: food plants that are well-adapted to Third World conditions. Professor Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, but sweeter than that must be the hundreds of millions of lives he has saved. Children in India whose parents suffered from repeated famines are growing up today with plenty of protein and vitamins in their diets. They are healthier, taller, and better able to learn, and therefore to educate themselves. India's take-off as an economic power is in important measure due to the Green Revolution. All because of some comparatively unknown guy at Texas A&M.

Mass killers make up the most famous names in history: Attila the Hun, Caligula, Hitler, Napoleon. But few of the famous can claim to have saved lives. Perhaps Louis Pasteur, and of course many unknown scientists and inventors in medicine, agriculture and engineering. But who is celebrated by the Media Mob? Paris Hilton. Dan Rather. Hillary Clinton. The next Democrat for president. None of them have real achievements to their credit. None of them come within miles of Norman Borlaug.

The Big Media just aren't interested in stories of profound human significance. Life-saving scientists are boring, and besides, don't we have too many people walking on the planet already? That's the vaunted "editorial judgment." It reflects the snobbish values of the vulgar Media Mob, and it's utterly subjective and selfish. Mobs don't think. They just hyperventilate at pseudo-scientific superstitions, like Global Warming.

Our country used to have an intellectually varied media. The differences between Alexander Hamilton and Tom Paine are as basic as the difference between Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal, and those views were argued out in articulate, printed articles. The US was founded by the most extraordinary intellectual elite we have seen -- Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, Paine, Franklin. They were largely self-taught, and delighted in vigorous political debate. Even when Jacksonian Democracy took over fifty years later, a rich tradition of political debate continued, in good part because thousands of small-town newspapers populated the United States. And many Americans seriously read the great works of Western civilization: Gibbon, Shakespeare, the Bible, the Federalist papers, novels, literate journalism.

There was no centralized intellectual monopoly. Political arguments were often heated, with news sheets flaming each other like the best of the blogs. The newspapers produced geniuses like Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken, both self-taught news writers. Twain may be the foremost American novelist of the 19th century, and Mencken is one of the greatest essayists in the English language. That was before anybody had a degree in journalism.

Things have not improved. The decline of quality media in America can be traced to two things, (1) professionalization of the news business, and (2) a former technological monopoly in electronic and print media. With industrialized technology it became possible for a single ideology to exercise control. Colleges were accredited by bureaucracies, which enforced liberal uniformity where diversity used to flourish. Journalists became careerists, like teachers and other bureaucrats.

Intellectual monopolies can be justified in medicine or sanitary engineering. You can really prove that doctors should wash their hands before touching the patient. Plumbers need to separate the water supply from human wastes. People end up dying if you don't to that; it's a point of fact.

But journalism doesn't thrive on a forced consensus. News conformity is always artificial, a matter of ideological indoctrination, not fact. Indeed, the average newswriter today is a shallow and gullible BA in English, with no knowledge of (or interest in) science, technology, history, economics, international affairs, or politics, nor any practical experience of real human nature. That is why we now have just one single national story line, repeated hundreds of times a day in all the major dailies. It is mental Coca Cola --without the nourishment sugar provides.

It's all very effective; with a more truthful media the Democrats wouldn't stand a chance in electoral politics. The entire American Left owes its existence and power to the Media Mob. And our national dialogue would be saner, better-informed, and more rational. We would have a much healthier world. Until then, a vigorous New Media provide our best hope.


Australia: Useless female police

Men and women are NOT equal. Female police should not be on general duties

PASSERSBY have come to the aid of two female police officers under attack from an allegedly drug-affected man in Sydney's west. The Bankstown constables attended a Woodville Road car dealership at 3pm (AEST) yesterday after receiving reports of a man causing problems. Police said the 28-year-old man became aggressive and violent towards the officers but when they tried to subdue him with capsicum spray, it had no effect on him.

The man, who police believe to have been affected by the drug ice, then allegedly assaulted them and tried to remove one of the constable's guns from her holster. He then pushed the other officer into a parked car, causing her to hit her head and drop her baton which he then picked up. The man was about to strike the officer with the baton when he was restrained by up to 10 passers-by, including one motorist who stopped his vehicle and ran across six lanes of traffic to assist police.

Police arrested the 28-year-old and took him to Bankstown Hospital for psychiatric assessment. It's expected he'll be charged when he is released.

Bankstown Local Area Commander, Superintendent Dave Darcy praised the officers involved for their courage and tenacity and thanked the public who intervened. "This was a particularly nasty incident and could have ended very differently had it not been from the brave intervention of those passers-by," Supt Darcy said. "It's very positive for us to see this courageous show of support from members of our local community."



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

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

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


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