In a radio address Saturday, Senator McCain took Barack Obama to task over his unwillingness to defend the life of children born alive after abortion attempts. Key quotes from the address follow:
The week began with a debate of sorts between Senator Obama and me at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In case you missed it, the discussion yielded the line of the week, and maybe even of the campaign, when Pastor Rick Warren asked my opponent a very serious question. He wanted to know at what point, in my opponent's view, does a baby have human rights? Senator Obama thought about it for a moment, and came back with the reply that the question was, quote, "above my pay grade."
Here was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, asked for his position on one of the central moral and legal questions of our time, and this was the best he could offer: It's above his pay grade. He went on to assure his interviewer that there is a, quote, "moral and ethical element to this issue." Americans expect more of their leaders.
Listening to my opponent at Saddleback, you would never know that this is a politician who long since left behind any middle ground on the abortion issue. He is against parental notification laws, and against restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortions. In the Illinois Senate, a bipartisan majority passed legislation to prevent the horrific practice of partial-birth abortion. Senator Obama opposed that bill, voting against it in committee and voting "present" on the Senate floor.
In 2002, Congress unanimously passed a federal law to require medical care for babies who survive abortions - living, breathing babies whom Senator Obama described as, quote, "previable." This merciful law was called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Illinois had a version of the same law, and Barack Obama voted against it.
At Saddleback, he assured a reporter that he'd have voted "yes" on that bill if it had contained language similar to the federal version of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Even though the language of both the state and federal bills was identical, Senator Obama said people were, quote, "lying" about his record. When that record was later produced, he dropped the subject but didn't withdraw the slander. And now even Senator Obama's campaign has conceded that his claims and accusations were false.
I can assure you that if I am president, advancing the cause of life will not be above my pay grade.
Lights Out on Liberty
By Mark Steyn
On August 3, 1914, on the eve of the First World War, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey stood at the window of his office in the summer dusk and observed, "The lamps are going out all over Europe." Today, the lights are going out on liberty all over the Western world, but in a more subtle and profound way.
Much of the West is far too comfortable with state regulation of speech and expression, which puts freedom itself at risk. Let me cite some examples: The response of the European Union Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security to the crisis over the Danish cartoons that sparked Muslim violence was to propose that newspapers exercise "prudence" on certain controversial subjects involving religions beginning with the letter "I." At the end of her life, the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci-after writing of the contradiction between Islam and the Western tradition of liberty-was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland, and most other European jurisdictions by groups who believed her opinions were not merely offensive, but criminal. In France, author Michel Houellebecq was sued by Muslim and other "anti-racist groups" who believed the opinions of a fictional character in one of his novels were likewise criminal.
In Canada, the official complaint about my own so-called "flagrant Islamophobia"-filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress-attributes to me the following "assertions":
America will be an Islamic Republic by 2040. There will be a break for Muslim prayers during the Super Bowl. There will be a religious police enforcing Islamic norms. The USS Ronald Reagan will be renamed after Osama bin Laden. Females will not be allowed to be cheerleaders. Popular American radio and TV hosts will be replaced by Imams.In fact, I didn't "assert" any of these things. They are plot twists I cited in my review of Robert Ferrigno's novel, Prayers for the Assassin. It's customary in reviewing novels to cite aspects of the plot. For example, a review of Moby Dick will usually mention the whale. These days, apparently, the Canadian Islamic Congress and the government's human rights investigators (who have taken up the case) believe that describing the plot of a novel should be illegal.
You may recall that Margaret Atwood, some years back, wrote a novel about her own dystopian theocratic fantasy, in which America was a Christian tyranny named the Republic of Gilead. What's to stop a Christian group from dragging a doting reviewer of Margaret Atwood's book in front of a Canadian human rights court? As it happens, Christian groups tend not to do that, which is just as well, because otherwise there wouldn't be a lot to write about.
These are small parts of a very big picture. After the London Tube bombings and the French riots a few years back, commentators lined up behind the idea that Western Muslims are insufficiently assimilated. But in their mastery of legalisms and the language of victimology, they're superbly assimilated. Since these are the principal means of discourse in multicultural societies, they've mastered all they need to know. Every day of the week, somewhere in the West, a Muslim lobbying group is engaging in an action similar to what I'm facing in Canada. Meanwhile, in London, masked men marched through the streets with signs reading "Behead the Enemies of Islam" and promising another 9/11 and another Holocaust, all while being protected by a phalanx of London policemen.
Thus we see that today's multicultural societies tolerate the explicitly intolerant and avowedly unicultural, while refusing to tolerate anyone pointing out that intolerance. It's been that way for 20 years now, ever since Valentine's Day 1989, when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie, a British subject, and shortly thereafter large numbers of British Muslims marched through English cities openly calling for Rushdie to be killed. A reader in Bradford wrote to me recalling asking a West Yorkshire policeman on the street that day why the various "Muslim community leaders" weren't being arrested for incitement to murder. The officer said they'd been told to "play it cool." The calls for blood got more raucous. My correspondent asked his question again. The policeman told him to "Push off" (he expressed the sentiment rather more Anglo-Saxonly, but let that pass) "or I'll arrest you." Mr. Rushdie was infuriated when the then Archbishop of Canterbury lapsed into root-cause mode. "I well understand the devout Muslims' reaction, wounded by what they hold most dear and would themselves die for," said His Grace. Rushdie replied tersely: "There is only one person around here who is in any danger of dying."
And that's the way it's gone ever since. For all the talk about rampant "Islamophobia," it's usually only the other party who is "in any danger of dying."
War on the Homefront
I wrote my book America Alone because I wanted to reframe how we thought about the War on Terror-an insufficient and evasive designation that has long since outlasted whatever usefulness it may once have had. It remains true that we are good at military campaigns, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our tanks and ships are better, and our bombs and soldiers are smarter. But these are not ultimately the most important battlefronts. We do indeed face what the strategists call asymmetric warfare, but it is not in the Sunni triangle or the Hindu Kush. We face it right here in the Western world.
Norman Podhoretz, among others, has argued that we are engaged in a second Cold War. But it might be truer to call it a Cold Civil War, by which I mean a war within the West, a war waged in our major cities. We now have Muslim "honor killings," for instance, not just in tribal Pakistan and Yemen, but in Germany and the Netherlands, in Toronto and Dallas. And even if there were no battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if no one was flying planes into tall buildings in New York City or blowing up trains, buses, and nightclubs in Madrid, London, and Bali, we would still be in danger of losing this war without a shot being fired.
The British government recently announced that it would be issuing Sharia-compliant Islamic bonds-that is, bonds compliant with Islamic law and practice as prescribed in the Koran. This is another reason to be in favor of small government: The bigger government gets, the more it must look for funding in some pretty unusual places-in this case wealthy Saudis. As The Mail on Sunday put it, this innovation marks "one of the most significant economic advances of Sharia law in the non-Muslim world."
At about the same time, The Times of London reported that "Knorbert the piglet has been dropped as the mascot of Fortis Bank, after it decided to stop giving piggy banks to children for fear of offending Muslims." Now, I'm no Islamic scholar, but Mohammed expressed no view regarding Knorbert the piglet. There's not a single sura about it. The Koran, an otherwise exhaustive text, is silent on the matter of anthropomorphic porcine representation.
I started keeping a file on pig controversies a couple of years ago, and you would be surprised at how routine they have become. Recently, for instance, a local government council prohibited its workers from having knickknacks on their desks representing Winnie the Pooh's sidekick Piglet. As Pastor Martin Niemoller might have said, "First they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character, and if I was, I'd be more of an Eeyore. Then they came for the Three Little Pigs and Babe, and by the time I realized the Western world had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes, it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer, `Th-th-th-that's all folks!', and bring the nightmare to an end."
What all these stories have in common is excessive deference to-and in fact fear of-Islam. If the story of the Three Little Pigs is forbidden when Muslims still comprise less than ten percent of Europe's population, what else will be on the black list when they comprise 20 percent? In small but telling ways, non-Muslim communities are being persuaded that a kind of uber-Islamic law now applies to all. And if you don't remember the Three Little Pigs, by the way, one builds a house of straw, another of sticks, and both get blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. Western Civilization is a mighty house of bricks, but you don't need a Big Bad Wolf when the pig is so eager to demolish the house himself.
I would argue that these incremental concessions to Islam are ultimately a bigger threat than terrorism. What matters is not what the lads in the Afghan cave-the "extremists"-believe, but what the non-extremists believe, what people who are for the most part law-abiding taxpayers of functioning democracies believe. For example, a recent poll found that 36 percent of Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 believe that those who convert to another religion should be punished by death. That's not 36 percent of young Muslims in Waziristan or Yemen or Sudan, but 36 percent of young Muslims in the United Kingdom. Forty percent of British Muslims would like to live under Sharia-in Britain. Twenty percent have sympathy for the July 7 Tube bombers. And, given that Islam is the principal source of population growth in every city down the spine of England from Manchester to Sheffield to Birmingham to London, and in every major Western European city, these statistics are not without significance for the future.
Because I discussed these facts in print, my publisher is now being sued before three Canadian human rights commissions. The plaintiff in my case is Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, a man who announced on Canadian TV that he approves of the murder of all Israeli civilians over the age of 18. He is thus an objective supporter of terrorism. I don't begrudge him the right to his opinions, but I wish he felt the same about mine. Far from that, posing as a leader of the "anti-hate" movement in Canada, he is using the squeamishness of a politically correct society to squash freedom.
As the famous saying goes, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. What the Canadian Islamic Congress and similar groups in the West are trying to do is criminalize vigilance. They want to use the legal system to circumscribe debate on one of the great questions of the age: the relationship between Islam and the West and the increasing Islamization of much of the Western world, in what the United Nations itself calls the fastest population transformation in history.
Our democratic governments today preside over multicultural societies that have less and less glue holding them together. They've grown comfortable with the idea of the state as the mediator between interest groups. And confronted by growing and restive Muslim populations, they're increasingly at ease with the idea of regulating freedom in the interests of social harmony.
It's a different situation in America, which has the First Amendment and a social consensus that increasingly does not exist in Europe. Europe's consensus seems to be that Danish cartoonists should be able to draw what they like, but not if it sparks Islamic violence. It is certainly odd that the requirement of self-restraint should only apply to one party.
Last month, in a characteristically clotted speech followed by a rather more careless BBC interview, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that it was dangerous to have one law for everyone and that the introduction of Sharia to the United Kingdom was "inevitable." Within days of His Grace's remarks, the British and Ontario governments both confirmed that thousands of polygamous men in their jurisdictions are receiving welfare payments for each of their wives. Kipling wrote that East is East and West is West, and ne'er the twain shall meet. But when the twain do meet, you often wind up with the worst of both worlds. Say what you like about a polygamist in Waziristan or Somalia, but he has to do it on his own dime. To collect a welfare check for each spouse, he has to move to London or Toronto. Government-subsidized polygamy is an innovation of the Western world.
If you need another reason to be opposed to socialized health care, one reason is because it fosters the insouciant attitude to basic hygiene procedures that has led to the rise of deadly "superbugs." I see British Muslim nurses in public hospitals riddled with C. difficile are refusing to comply with hygiene procedures on the grounds that scrubbing requires them to bare their arms, which is un-Islamic. Which is a thought to ponder just before you go under the anaesthetic. I mentioned to some of Hillsdale's students in class that gay-bashing is on the rise in the most famously "tolerant" cities in Europe. As Der Spiegel reported, "With the number of homophobic attacks rising in the Dutch metropolis, Amsterdam officials are commissioning a study to determine why Moroccan men are targeting the city's gays."
Gee, whiz. That's a toughie. Wonder what the reason could be. But don't worry, the brain trust at the University of Amsterdam is on top of things: "Half of the crimes were committed by men of Moroccan origin and researchers believe they felt stigmatized by society and responded by attacking people they felt were lower on the social ladder. Another working theory is that the attackers may be struggling with their own sexual identity."
Bingo! Telling young Moroccan men they're closeted homosexuals seems certain to lessen tensions in the city! While you're at it, a lot of those Turks seem a bit light in their loafers, don't you think?
Our Suicidal Urge
So don't worry, nothing's happening. Just a few gay Muslims frustrated at the lack of gay Muslim nightclubs. Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you'd suggested such things on September 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn't seem such a big deal, nor will the next concession, or the one after that.
The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith. More to the point, who are you relying on to "hold the line"? Influential figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury? The politically correct bureaucrats at Canada's Human Rights Commissions? The geniuses who run Harvard, and who've just introduced gender-segregated swimming and gym sessions at the behest of Harvard's Islamic Society? (Would they have done that for Amish or Mennonite students?) The Western world is not run by fellows noted for their line-holding: Look at what they're conceding now and then try to figure out what they'll be conceding in five years' time. The idea that the West's multicultural establishment can hold the line would be more plausible if it was clear they had any idea where the line is, or even gave any indication of believing in one.
My book, supposedly Islamaphobic, isn't even really about Islam. The single most important line in it is the profound observation, by historian Arnold Toynbee, that "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder." One manifestation of that suicidal urge is illiberal notions harnessed in the cause of liberalism. In calling for the introduction of Sharia, the Archbishop of Canterbury joins a long list of Western appeasers, including a Dutch cabinet minister who said if the country were to vote to introduce Islamic law that would be fine by him, and the Swedish cabinet minister who said we should be nice to Muslims now so that Muslims will be nice to us when they're in the majority.
Ultimately, our crisis is not about Islam. It's not about fire-breathing Imams or polygamists whooping it up on welfare. It's not about them. It's about us. And by us I mean the culture that shaped the modern world, and established the global networks, legal systems, and trading relationships on which the planet depends. To reprise Sir Edward Grey, the lamps are going out all over the world, and an awful lot of the map will look an awful lot darker by the time many Americans realize the scale of this struggle.
Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair
U.S. media outlets are historically strong defenders of press freedoms. But there has been near-total silence about the UK-based legal threats to public discussion of the Rezko affair. Why aren't the American media investigating the role of British billionaire businessman Nadhmi Auchi in supplying loans to Barack Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko? Some point to media bias, but there is another factor. Working for Auchi, who was born in Iraq, attorneys from London law firm Carter-Ruck have for several months been flooding American and British newspapers and websites with letters demanding removal of material they deem "defamatory" to their client.
In its June 28 edition, British satirical magazine Private Eye explains: "Until Carter-Ruck and Partners and England's stifling libel laws got to work, the few American journalists not caught up in Obama-mania were turning to the archives of the British press to answer an intriguing question: who is Nadhmi Auchi?"
What is so "stifling" about English libel law? In the U.K., as Carter-Ruck explains on its own website, "A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed."
The Obama campaign recently issued a non-denial denial in response to claims that Obama met with Auchi?contained in Jerome Corsi's bestseller, The Obama Nation. They cited only two references. One is, "Mr. Auchi's lawyer" who told the February 27, 2008 London Evening Standard, "As far as he can remember he has had no direct contact with Mr. Obama." Another is, "A lawyer for Auchi, Alasdair Pepper" who says, according to the April 16, 2008 Washington Post, "Auchi Had `No Recollection' Of Meeting Obama or Michelle." Alasdair Pepper is the attorney whose name appears on the Carter-Ruck demand letters.
The Secret Loan
A secret $3.5 million loan from an Auchi company to key early-money Barack Obama fundraiser Antoin Rezko was exposed while Rezko was awaiting trial on fraud and money-laundering charges earlier this year. Rezko's bail was revoked and police showed up banging on the doors of his Wilmette Chicago mansion to drag him off to jail early in the morning of January 28th. Auchi's loan to Rezko had come on May 23, 2005 but had not been disclosed to the Court as required in his bail agreement. Three weeks later, on June 15, 2005, Rezko's wife assisted the Obamas in the purchase of their South Chicago mansion by purchasing a next-door undeveloped lot being sold with the house.
According to the Times of London, "Mr. Rezko's lawyer said his client had `longstanding indebtedness' to Mr. Auchi's General Mediterranean Holding (GMH). By June 2007 he owed it $27.9 million. Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, M. Auchi lent Mr. Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as $3.5 million transferred in April 2007. That agreement provided for the outstanding loans to be `forgiven' in return for a stake in the 62-acre Riverside Park development."
Rezko's relationship with Barack Obama goes back to at least 1990, when Obama's law firm did work relating to thousands of now-decaying Rezko apartment units in South Chicago. Rezko was a key early-money fundraiser in Obama's state Senate campaigns and his failed run at the U.S. Congress.
According to The Times of London, "Mr. Auchi first met Mr. Rezko after the 2003 Iraq war and they have a business relationship." At the time Auchi was facing the possibility of extradition to France. The Times of London explains: "Mr Auchi was convicted of corruption, given a suspended sentence and fined o1.4 million in France in 2003 for his part in the Elf affair, described as the biggest political and corporate scandal in post-war Europe. He, in a statement from his media lawyers, claims he is appealing against the sentence."
In 2003, Nick Cohen of the UK Guardian wrote: "Allow me to introduce you to Nadhmi Auchi. He was charged in the 1950s with being an accomplice of Saddam Hussein, when the future tyrant was acquiring his taste for blood. He was investigated in the 1980s for his part in alleged bribes to the fabulously corrupt leaders of post-war Italy. In the 1990s, the Belgium Ambassador to Luxembourg claimed that Auchi's bank held money Saddam and Colonel Gadaffi had stolen from their luckless peoples. In 2002, officers from the Serious Fraud Squad raided the offices of one of Auchi's drug companies as part of an investigation of what is alleged to be the biggest swindle ever of the (British National Health Service). With allegations, albeit unproven, like these hanging over him, wouldn't you think that British MPs would have the sense to stay away?"
But after threats from Carter-Ruck, Cohen's "defamatory" article became one of six Guardian and Observer articles scrubbed from the Internet this April. Blogger "A Jacksonian" received a similar demand on or before June 24. His article is still up. It details much of the information contained in the six deleted Guardian/Observer articles.
Auchi in 1967 began an Iraq Oil Ministry career eventually rising to be Director of Planning and Development under the Baathist dictatorship. He formed GMH in 1979 and then left Iraq. A key source of weapons procurement for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, GMH became the largest single private shareholder of Banque Nationale du Paris (BNP) which later merged with Paribas to form BNP-Paribas. BNP and BNP-Paribas, at Saddam Hussein's insistence, handled all Oil-for-Food transactions until 2001 when the incoming administration of George W. Bush demanded change.
Investigative journalist Bill Gertz explains: "A 2004 Pentagon report obtained by The Washington Times identified Auchi as a global arms dealer and Iraqi billionaire `who, behind the facade of legitimate business, served as Saddam Hussein's principle (sic) international financial manipulator and bag man.'
"The report to the Pentagon inspector general stated that . `significant and credible evidence has been developed that Nadhmi Auchi has engaged in unlawful activities working closely with Iraqi intelligence operatives to, Bribe foreign governments and individuals prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom to turn opinion against the American-led mission to remove Saddam Hussein.'"
The web scrubbing did not stop with the six Guardian/Observer articles. New Statesman writer Martin Bright reports that Auchi lawyers "have written to ask us to remove the names of the articles concerned." Removed, the six titles are now available for reading only in difficult-to-find independent web archives.....
U.S. media outlets are historically strong defenders of press freedoms. But there has been near-total silence about the UK-based legal threats to public discussion of the Rezko affair. While Auchi's interference may explain part of the media's lack of interest, the attitude of the New York Times and New York Review of Books goes a long way towards explaining the rest.
If elected President, Obama will be required to swear to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Will Senator Obama now join in co-sponsoring S-2977, the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, and call upon his fellow Democrats to bring the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote? If not will Obama explain why the Free Speech Protection Act is not necessary to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution?"
Will reporters covering the campaign ask Obama whether, if elected, he would approve a request for U.S. residency from Auchi? Are the media now cooperating in their own silencing? The attitude of the New York Times does not bode well.
Australia's centre/Leftists are pretty conservative on welfare
HOW very un-Laborlike, said one Labor MP in response to the Rudd Government's proposal to introduce legislation this week that would tie welfare payments to the responsibility of parents to ensure their children attend school. Not all Labor MPs are on side, it seems. The Rudd Government is about to discover that tough love is a tough policy. Nay-sayers wedded to the failed idea that compassion comes in the form of unconditional welfare will be out in force to kill off Labor's embrace of mutual responsibility.
Where, one must ask, have these Labor MPs been? Welfare reform that matches rights with responsibilities was endorsed long ago by the Centre-Left in the US under Democratic president Bill Clinton and in Britain under Labour prime minister Tony Blair. They proved that linking rights to responsibilities was not some nasty conservative agenda to punish those most in need. It is an idea that crosses the political divide for the simple reason that it works, whereas past policies of passive welfare have failed.
So credit where it's due. Kevin Rudd is right to point out that an education revolution depends on children attending school. Education Minister Julia Gillard says there could be up to 20,000 Australian children who are not at school, with Families Minister Jenny Macklin suggesting that at least 2000 children are not enrolled at school within the Northern Territory.
Though it's a case of Labor-come-lately for some in the ALP, the Rudd Government's plan to tackle the problem of truancy by setting up trials in six NT communities and in Western Australia before a national roll-out deserves unequivocal praise.
For too long, welfare has been seen as an unfettered right, without any attendant responsibilities. The rights-based culture that emerged in the 1960s and `70s failed, in particular, an entire generation of indigenous people. Many of them are lost. Uneducated and untrained, relegated to the dysfunctional fringes, they will never have a chance of entering mainstream society. Now, the children of that generation risk being lost too unless policies encourage parents to accept responsibility for their children. Accordingly, Labor's belated acknowledgment of past policy failures is to be applauded.
But let's also pay tribute to those who got us to the point where a Labor government in Australia is ready to instil responsibilities into the welfare equation. Howard haters, shut your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears. Here it is. By tackling the old orthodoxy of no-responsibility welfare, John Howard fundamentally realigned our thinking on this issue.
Sure, we watched welfare reform unfold in the US and Britain. But in Australia the Rudd Government is proposing to link welfare to parental responsibility after a decade of conservative rule that did the hard yards on welfare reform.
Encouraged by The Australian, which provided an early and continuing platform for genuine debate about these critical issues, what was once the accepted left-wing orthodoxy has been challenged and found wanting by a more questioning mindset. Not so long ago, if you raised questions about welfare you would be labelled as mean-spirited. If you raised those questions about welfare in relation to indigenous people, you were mean-spirited and racist. Back then, orthodox thinking was framed around the virtues of Aboriginal welfarism, apologies, treaties and separatism.
By tackling that PC-infected entrenched orthodoxy, the Howard government legacy is one that has paved the way for Labor's present policy. Under Howard, the first steps to address indigenous disadvantage were premised on practical reconciliation: on outcomes, not politics. Symbolism was eschewed as demonstrably counterproductive to solving disadvantage and passive welfare uncovered as poison. When critics shouted about racism, Howard did not flinch. His government challenged mindless policies such as the Community Development Employment Program, which allowed able-bodied indigenous people to work for a few hours a week in return for full welfare.
As a reminder of that fundamental shift, it's worth remembering that Noel Pearson once derided the Howard government as "racist scum" and said Howard was "totally useless to the nation". That was before Pearson's epiphany that greater individual responsibility, not indigenous victimhood, was the way to address disadvantage and dysfunction within indigenous communities.
Today, indigenous leaders such as Pearson and former ALP federal president Warren Mundine are daily pushing the frontiers for more sensible indigenous policies that promote education, training and work as the solution to Aboriginal dysfunction. They recognise that welfare reform must escape the shackles of left-right labels. After all, as The Australian said last Friday in an editorial, Ben Chifley's vision of a Labor light on the hill did not involve "putting an extra sixpence in somebody's pocket". Chifley's 1949 call was about empowering people.
Rudd is on that path. His proposal for a 13-week suspension of welfare as a last resort for parents who do not ensure their children attend school is premised on the state providing the right signals to encourage parents to do the right thing by their children. As Gillard said, a child who misses large slabs of schooling is set up for failure for the rest of their lives.
Sadly, so many on the Left remain cemented to past policies predicated on the role of the state rather than the power of individuals. Critics immediately labelled Rudd's plan as a "blunt instrument". They prefer to point the finger of blame at anyone except parents. Blame the system. Blame the schools, they say. Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert described Labor's policy as "crazy thinking in the 21st century from a government that's supposed to be committed to social inclusion".
Yet genuine social inclusion must mean encouraging people to take responsibility for their own lives. Those who view individual responsibility with suspicion necessarily view human potential with equal suspicion. Their paternalism is based on an inherently defeatist view of human ability and aspiration. It entrenches social exclusion and human misery, and ensures the only outcome of their paternalism is the continued existence of their own handout-premised industries.
The importance of the Rudd Government finally confronting the unprogressive consequences of the so-called progressive mindset cannot be underestimated. The Howard government was always going to be attacked by so-called progressives as launching a right-wing ideological crusade in its efforts to encourage greater personal responsibility.
The Rudd Labor Government can, depending on the strength of its conviction, bring many of these critics to a quiet halt by following Howard and showing courageous leadership aimed at moving the national conversation on disadvantage in more sensible directions.
The fear is that this will be some will-o'-the-wisp Labor policy that flickers with hope but can never be realised, either because Labor is not serious about the policy or because it falls victim to old Labor types still wedded to the past.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.