Thursday, April 10, 2008

The New Liberal Taboo

What a spectacle. It is now respectable for Democrats to assert, even to welcome, military defeat (see here). But if a Presidential campaign functionary so much as hints at support for free trade, he's banished to policy exile.

That's the meaning of Sunday's sacking of strategist Mark Penn from Hillary Clinton's campaign. In his noncampaign job with a PR firm, Mr. Penn had met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. to discuss the free trade agreement that President Bush sent to Congress yesterday. When word of that meeting leaked to a Wall Street Journal reporter last week, big labor went bonkers and Mrs. Clinton gave him the heave-ho despite more than a decade of loyal service. Maybe if Mr. Penn had called General David Petraeus a con man, he'd still have a job.

Mr. Penn's dismissal follows the previous humiliation of Barack Obama's economics adviser, Austan Goolsbee, for telling Canadian diplomats that Mr. Obama's anti-Nafta talk was merely campaign jive. Mr. Goolsbee has since all but entered the witness protection program. The grownups in both campaigns realize that free trade is good for the country, yet they must take a vow of public silence.

As recently as the 1990s, Bill Clinton's support for free trade was seen as a sign of his economic centrism and that he understood global competitive realities. In the 2008 campaign, free trade has become the primary Democratic taboo.



By Jeff Jacoby

The unfettered "right to choose" is a progressive value, we are instructed by the abortion lobby -- one indispensable to the empowerment of women. But a new study in PNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) prompts an awkward question: How exactly are American women empowered when abortion is deployed to prevent the existence of American girls?

Population experts have documented for years the use of abortion for sex selection in regions of the world where sons are more highly prized than daughters. The problem is particularly acute in Asia, and especially in China and India, the world's two largest countries. The natural sex ratio at birth is slightly male-biased at roughly 1.05-to-1, meaning that about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But in China the current ratio at birth is about 120 boys per 100 girls -- and in more prosperous parts of the country, such as Guangdong and Hainan, the imbalance has reached an even more lopsided 135-to-100.

In India, census data from 2001 show that among children younger than 6, there are just 927 girls per 1,000 boys. There too, the greater the prosperity, the greater the discrepancy: In the high-income state of Punjab, notes Joseph D'Agostino of the Population Research Institute, there are only 793 girls for every 1,000 boys. He cites a report by UNICEF, which calculates that "7,000 fewer girls are now born in India each day than nature would dictate, and 10 million have been killed during pregnancy or just after in the past 20 years." In 2006, the Boston Globe reported on the growing "girl deficit" in India; researchers, it said, estimate that 500,000 unborn females are aborted in the country each year.

There is nothing new about the high cultural premium placed on sons in developing countries. What is relatively new is easy access to cheap ultrasound scans for determining the sex of an unborn child, and the availability of inexpensive abortions for parents who don't want a baby of the "wrong" sex.

Consider Vietnam, where a decade ago the sex ratio of newborns was a normal 1.04-to-1. Today, with the rise of ultrasound and abortion clinics, the number of newborn males has surged ahead of females. "Vietnamese women who find they are carrying an unwanted female baby often head immediately to an abortion clinic," the Straits Times of Singapore reported last fall. "A walk-in abortion at a state hospital can be performed for $10, and at private clinics for about $20." The story went noted that there are now as many abortions in Vietnam each year (1.35 million) as live births, and that "the number of aborted female fetuses greatly exceeds the number of aborted male ones."

Most Americans rightly regard sex-selective abortions as odious; in a 2006 Zogby poll, an overwhelming 86 percent of Americans agreed that such abortions should be illegal. But they're not illegal -- and as economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund indicate in the latest issue of PNAS, they are now occurring in the United States, too.

Almond and Edlund examined the ratio of boys to girls among US children born to Chinese, Korean, and Indian parents. For the first children of these Asian-American families, the sex ratio was the normal 1.05-to-1. But when the first baby is a girl, the odds of the second being a boy rose to 1.17-to-1. After two sisters, the likelihood of the third being a son leaped to 1.51-to-1. This is clear "evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage," the authors write. Prenatal sex tests for pregnant women are now available earlier, more cheaply, and more conveniently than ever, "raising the prospect of sex selection becoming more widely practiced in the near future."

The destruction of unwanted daughters is appalling everywhere, but at least in places like India and China parents may have rational reasons for preferring a son. In China, for example, daughters routinely join their husbands' families and parents rely on sons to take care of them as they age. In India, families are often expected to pay crushing dowries when their daughters marry. Facing intense government pressure to have no more than one or two children, many parents resort to sex-selective abortion (or infanticide).

But nothing can excuse such abortions in the United States -- nothing except the unwavering theology of "choice," which elevates the right to an abortion above all other considerations. You don't have to be a feminist, after all, to know that being a girl is not a birth defect, or to be horrified by a practice that lethally reinforces the most benighted forms of sexism and sexual discrimination. For what kind of feminist would it be who could contemplate the use of abortion to eliminate ever-greater numbers of girls, and not cry out in horror?


Australia: Boys in blue say ditch 'small, scared' girls

A bit of realism about the dickless Tracys is long overdue

The feminising of Victoria's police force has been listed as one of its three biggest problems in a survey of serving officers. The survey - done by the Herald Sun - found two in three officers had considered leaving the force in the past year. Many respondents lashed out at the number of women in the force. "Get more males into the academy, not more females," one officer said.

More women than men graduated from the police academy last year, the first time the boys in blue had ever been outnumbered by female recruits. The percentage of women in the force has jumped from 15 per cent to almost 23 per cent in the seven years since Christine Nixon became Victoria's first female chief. That's still below the national average of 31 per cent. Victoria Police has said it intends continuing to encourage female recruits so it can reach that figure.

But frontline police are not happy with the strategy. "There are too many females who put male members at risk out on the street," one said. "I have been injured three times in the past 12 months fighting drunken idiots and getting no backup from my female partner, who is too small or too scared to help."

Another said there were too many promotions of women based on gender rather than ability. "We have this emphasis on promoting females through non-operational positions and putting them in operational supervisory positions with minimal operational experience," the officer said.

Many police also regretted there was no longer a minimum height requirement for recruits, and that the force had scrapped some aspects of the physical training to make it easier for women to pass. "They have dropped relevant components to allow below-standard persons in," one officer said. "I'm tired of carrying the workload of incompetent people. Also, bring back the physical component. Even as a female, I'm embarrassed."

A force spokeswoman defended recruiting women and their performance. She said only one other state had a lower percentage of female officers, and an Auditor-General's report in 2006 recommended attracting and retaining women should be a priority. She said of 20 police service areas with 25 per cent or higher female representation, 14 were in the top-performing half of all police service areas. On average, 77 women (0.6 per cent of the force) were on maternity leave each financial year. Men averaged more carer and personal leave.


Profoundly thuggish Polynesians

Polynesians (Maoris and Pacific islanders) have a high rate of criminality in Australia but that is normally kept from public consciousness by the customary media reluctance to make ethnic identifications. The group below seem mostly to be of Tongan origin. More background on them here. Anybody who knows Maoris well from personal experience (as I do) will be aware of their different ethical system. The whole idea of personal private property seems to be alien to most of them. If something is accessible to them they usually seem to think that they are entitled to have it

They were arrested at gunpoint but that was not enough to put fear into five teenage boys who allegedly rampaged through a school armed with baseball bats, machetes and samurai swords. The boys, aged 14 to 16, treated their arrest as a joke and even plotted further crimes while in police custody, a court was told yesterday. The allegations were made in documents tendered in Parramatta Children's Court outlining why the teenagers were refused police bail over an attack at Merrylands High School on Monday morning.

The teenagers refused to appear before a magistrate yesterday and were formally refused bail. They will face court again on May 22. A 14-year-old from Auburn, two 15-year-olds from Carramar and Merrylands, and two 16-year-olds from Merrylands and Seven Hills, face a total of 101 charges, including assault, affray, causing malicious damage of property worth more than $15,000, and participating in a criminal group. The teenagers allegedly stormed the school while an assembly was being held at 8.50am, forcing the school into lockdown before smashing their way into classrooms and assaulting students and teachers.

In the case of four of the boys - bail documents regarding a fifth were missing - police alleged each offender had treated police with contempt. "The young person has shown no remorse," police wrote on a bail form. "While in custody he treated the matter as a joke and used his time in custody to plan further criminal enterprises."

The documents alleged the teenagers showed "contempt" towards the community and police. "The premeditated actions of the the young persons were an attack on one of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Australians on a daily basis - to attend school in an atmosphere of safety and security. "The damage inflicted by the young persons will take years to repair." While the boys were being taken from the court complex, one of them gave a rude gesture to waiting media.

As authorities yesterday began a review of security at Merrylands High School, the State Government moved to shore up laws against school invaders. Premier Morris Iemma said he had asked Attorney-General John Hatzistergos to consider a new offence of damaging property "in company" in schools, carrying a much stiffer penalty.



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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