Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stay thin, obey your man: advice in anti-feminist bestseller

A SELF-HELP guide that tells women to stay thin and follow their man's orders if they want to keep him has become an unlikely bestseller. The book, titled The Re-education Of The Female, also says women should wear sexy clothes while doing the cooking and cleaning. Despite first-time author Dante Moore's chauvinist opinions, copies have been flying off the shelves in America.

One piece of advice reads: "Men never really ask for anything. They command. And believe me, what you won't do, 10 broads around the corner will." Advising women to stay slim to attract men, Moore also writes: "When you go to the grocery store to shop, do you pick out the nastiest-looking, most rotten, smelliest fruit or meat you can find? "Oh you don't? Why not? It's the same with men when they see in New York baby elephant-sized, out-of-shape women."

Moore, a 33-year-old computer engineer, has never married but has an 11-year-old son from a previous relationship and has had a girlfriend for two years. However, he says he has never found true love. He insists he wants to help women and wrote the book to show where they go wrong in relationships.


Russia and the New Axis of Evil

With Russian tanks now presiding over the dismemberment of the Republic of Georgia, can a lame-duck Bush administration -- weary from its long drubbing by critics over Iraq and eyeing the exit door -- rise to the challenge Russia has chosen to pose to the Free World?

To understand the nature of this challenge, consider that the distance between Baghdad and Tbilisi is barely 578 miles, less than the distance between New York City and Chicago. Iraq and Georgia, both of which have democratic governments, are sandwiched between Iran and Russia, two of the most authoritarian governments in the world. Russia has been collaborating with Iran to strengthen the latter's nuclear program and its military. It is also steadily arming Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Russia's invasion of Georgia came exactly one month after Iran test-fired its Shahab III intermediate ballistic missile in order to intimidate neighbors like Israel and Iraq, and two weeks after Mr. Chavez traveled to Moscow to formalize a "Strategic Alliance" with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. Meanwhile, Iran's proxies remain the principal threat to peace in Iraq -- while on the other side of the world, evidence mounts of Mr. Ch vez's links to the terrorist group FARC, which threatens neighboring Colombia.

Coincidence? Iraq, Georgia and Colombia are battlegrounds in a new kind of international conflict that will define our geopolitical future. This conflict pits the U.S. and the West against an emerging axis of oil-rich dictatorships who are working together to push back against the liberalizing trends of globalization. One of their prime objectives is toppling or undermining neighboring, pro-Western democracies.

The term "axis" has been overused in recent years, and in misleading contexts. But Russia, Iran and Venezuela are acting very much as Japan, Italy and Germany did in the 1930s, when each took advantage of each other's aggressive moves to extend their own regional power at the expense of liberal democracy -- and, as a result, propelling the world to the brink of war.

The chessboard of traditional competitive geopolitics is back with a vengeance. Russia is the principal source for Iran's nuclear weapons program as well as the principal obstacle to international sanctions. Between them, Mr. Putin and Tehran's mullahs clearly aim to control access to every major source of fossil energy from the western end of the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea. The third player in this new axis, Venezuela's President Ch vez, hopes for an oil and natural gas monopoly over the natural resources of neighbors like pro-Ch vez satellites Bolivia and Ecuador.

All three dictatorships are flush with cash thanks to rising oil prices; all three are bent on regional domination. All three openly celebrate a model of government that is authoritarian and monolithic in opposition to Western pluralism, market-oriented economies and representative democracy. All three run economies built on mafia-style crony capitalism. All three denounce U.S. "imperialism," and evidently hope that the 2008 election will help to bolster their geopolitical plans.

And all three see themselves as natural allies. Since 2004, Mr. Ch vez has steadily strengthened his strategic and economic ties to Tehran. Last year he joined with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to push OPEC to cut production and boost oil prices. In addition to his Allianz Estrategica with Mr. Putin, Mr. Ch vez was the one international leader who publicly praised Russia's invasion of Georgia.

Finally, all three members of this axis see the emergence of pro-American, Western-oriented governments on their borders as mortal threats and are determined to hit back. In Russia's case, this means direct military force against Georgia. Iran has used its terrorist proxies to sow chaos in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Mr. Chavez wages a proxy war against Colombia through the terrorists of FARC.

What can the U.S. and a new president do? Despite Russia's nuclear arsenal, none of these states poses a military threat comparable to the Cold War Soviet Union, or even the Axis powers in the 1930s. For all their bluff and bluster, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have a relatively tenuous position in the world; for all their oil wealth their economies remain weak and unstable.

A broad strategy of targeted economic sanctions and multilateral diplomacy, backed by U.S. military power -- together with a determined effort to push down oil prices by expanding supply and strengthening the dollar -- can introduce a note of sober realism to the strategy of this new axis, and force them to realize how limited and vulnerable their source of money and power really is.

However, the most important strategy right now is to secure democracy's vital new flanks -- Iraq, Georgia and Colombia. By shoring up and strengthening, rather than abandoning all three governments, the U.S. will send a clear signal that liberty, not tyranny, is the wave of the globalizing future.


The Down with Israel Syndrome

Each year, in preparation for Israel's birthday, American newspaper editors feel an urge to invite Arab writers to tell us why Israel should not exist. Typical this year were the Los Angeles Times (Opinion, May 12 "Forget the two-state solution", by Saree Makdisi) and the Christian Science Monitor (Ghada Karmi "A One-state Solution for Palestinians and Israelis", May 30, 2008), where the elimination of Israel were advanced under the usual euphemism of a "one-state solution."

I presume this exercise gives editors some satisfaction, of the kind one would get in inviting officials of the Flat Earth Society to tell us why the earth should not be round, and do so precisely on Earth Day, lest the wisdom would escape anyone's attention.

Undoubtedly, the banalization of absurdity has its kicks. It is sporty, admirably "out-of-the-box-ish" and, if only it did not involve a dangerous experiment with the lives of millions of human beings, could be considered mighty cute.

But this practice is adult matter, and the result is a depressing Kafkaesque choreography, in which Israel is put on trial for its very existence, while less radical commentators, if they are invited, deal with Israel's future, difficulties and achievements, but leave the accusations unanswered.

There is some wisdom to ignoring insults and unfounded accusations. By answering one tacitly bestows credence, however minimal, upon the arguments that put you on the accused bench -- the last bench that a birthday celebration deserves.

So, perhaps it is wise to write chapter and verse about Israel's achievements (as Bill Kristol did May 12, and Tom Friedman did June 8) and let the "colonial" and "apartheid" accusations hang there, unanswered, as living testimonies of the Orwellian mentality of the accusers? I am not totally convinced.

I am concerned about the possibility that a non-negligible percentage of American readers, especially the novice and the hasty, would interpret the publication of opinion articles calling for the dismantling of Israel as evidence that the arguments and conclusions presented are deemed worthy of consideration in the eyes of editors whose judgment the public has entrusted to protect us from Flat-Earth type deformities.

This concern becomes especially acute when news reporters too begin touting the "one-state" slogans, with unmistaken sympathy, under the cover of "World News." (e.g., Richard Boudreaux and Ashraf Khalil "For some Palestinians, one state with Israel is better than none," LA Times, World News, May 8 )

I am concerned because evil plans begin with evil images. Once the mind is jolted to envision deviant imagery it automatically consructs a belief structure that supports its feasibility and desirability. The first phase of Hitler's strategy was to get people to envision, just envision, a world without Jews -- the rest is history.

Today we are witnessing a concerted effort by enemies of co-existence to get people to envision, just envision, a world without Israel - the rest, they hope, will become history. The American press seems to fall for it.

In fairness to the editors of some newspapers, articles calling forthe elimination of Israel are often balanced by articles discussingthe prospects for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. But, ironically, this "balance" is precisely where the imbalance cries out loudest, for it gives equal moral weight to a provocation that every Jew in Israel considers a genocidal death threat, most Jews view as an assault on their identity as people and most Palestinians view as an incentive to undermine or forestall peace negotiations.

Balance has its norms, logic and responsibilities, mirrored and shaped by sound editorial judgment. We do not rush to "balance" each celebration of Martin Luther King Day with articles by white supremacists, and we do not "balance" a hate speech with a lecture on breathing technique; a hate speech is balanced with a lecture on the evils of hate.

A true, albeit grotesque, moral balance would be demonstrated only if for every "down with Israel" writer the newspaper were to invite a "down with Palestinian statehood" writer.

But editors seem to have strange takes on morality; for some, questioning the legitimacy of Israel's existence is a mark of impartiality, while questioning the legitimacy of Palestinian aspirations is a moral taboo. Decency should somehow inform these editors that both "down with" calls are morally reprehensible and insulting to readers' intelligence, hence, both should be purged from civil discourse and marginalized into the good company of white supremacy and Flat-Earth rhetoric.

But until decency reigns, we can be sure to see them again at Israel's birthdays, the predators of peace, paraded by the press, demanding their annual prey: once more to envision, just envision, a world without Israel.

Ironically, Arab commentaries published around Yom Haatzmaut can actually be of some service to Israel, for they provide a faithful mirror of the prevailing sentiments in the elite ranks of Palestinian society and thus gauge how ready this society is to accepting a peace agreement, whatever its shape, as permanent.

This year, the LA Times (May 11), The Nation (May 26) the New York Times (May 18) the Washington Post (May 12) the Christian Science Monitor (May 30) and others lured an impressive group of Arab intellectuals into unveiling their worldview to American readers.

Highly educated, mostly secular, champions of modernity and masters of communication, these authors are keenly attuned to grass roots sentiments and, enticed by the limelight, revealed the naked landscape of the Palestinian mindset.

Sadly, what they revealed in 2008 is not what Mahmoud Abbas and public opinion polsters would like us to believe. They revealed what we feared all along but were afraid to admit: the notion of a two-state solution never began to penetrate the surface of Palestinian consciousness.

In vain would one search these articles for a shred of an idea that morally justifies a two-state solution, or that acknowledges some historical ties of Jews to the land, or that makes an intellectual investment contrary to the Greater Palestine agenda. One by one, the articles depict Israel as a temporary outpost of Western imperialism, a entity to oppose not to neighbor.

This does not mean that the two-state solution is dead - after all, it is the only proposal worthy of the word "solution" - but it means that the current efforts to reach a peaceful settlement should begin to address one key obstacle: the ideological landscape as revealed to us by our Arab brethren on Yom Haatzmaut.


Britain: A conservative approach to poverty

Last week, George Osborne made a speech about fairness in which he castigated the Government for its failure to deal with poverty. A Tory Shadow Chancellor attacking Labour's record on poverty: that really is a raid into enemy territory. In the long run, however, it could leave the Tories open to a counter-attack.

In the short run, Mr Osborne did not rely on rhetoric. His arguments were reinforced by statistics that gave them added bite. Although the Shadow Chancellor was happy to concede that many Labour MPs were sincere in their abhorrence of poverty, any Labour supporter who reads the speech will wince at the dissection of Labour's inability to realise its ideals.

But Mr Osborne was not merely trying to add to Labour's miseries: hardly necessary these days. His speech had a serious purpose. He was outlining a new Tory theory of poverty and the state. He insisted that this Government was not failing because it did not care enough and had not spent enough. It was failing because its strategy was fundamentally misguided.

The author of that strategy was Gordon Brown. His insistence that "only the state can guarantee fairness" has both underpinned and undermined Labour's approach to social policy. By stifling initiative and imposing central direction, not least through the target culture, it had ensured that much of the extra money devoted to health and education was wasted.

This helps to explain why only 176 pupils who received free school meals gained three As at A level this year and why half of all children in care leave school without a single GCSE. There is a direct relationship between that last statistic and social misery. Many of those uneducated victims of care will be busy acquiring diplomas in mugging, burglary, prostitution and drug-taking.

Instead of Gordon Brown's great clunking state, the Tories want to empower churches, charities and social action co-operatives to help the needy. They also propose a radical change in the supply of education, ending the Government's monopoly over state schooling. To improve opportunity for the poorest, argues Mr Osborne, society and the state must work together.

A dramatic programme for social reform, this is the basis of David Cameron's approach to government. Shortly after he became Tory leader, he met Nicolas Sarkozy, who told him how much he admired the Tories' economic reforms of the 1980s. Mr Cameron hopes that in the 2030s, a French president will be telling a Tory leader how much he admires the social reforms of the 2010s.

The Tory party always has two great tasks: to defend the integrity of the nation and to solve the pressing questions of the day. Apart from the economy, two intractable and related problems have now forced themselves onto the agenda: how to redeem the underclass and how to ensure that the public services serve the public. Mr Cameron will not duck either challenge.

Well and good, but enthusiasm will not be enough. Contemporary British poverty is not just an economic phenomenon. It arises from cultural demoralisation. In the EU, Britain has the highest proportion of children living in households where no adult works. Though many hereditary peers have been banished from the House of Lords, hereditary unemployment is flourishing in the inner cities.

London is one of the mightiest engines of wealth creation in the whole of history. There is no reason why any able-bodied youngster who looks willing and trustworthy should not find a job. Yet a short Tube journey from the Bank of England, there are housing estates where no one thinks in terms of finding work.

David Cameron is determined that this will change. Yet even if he succeeds, it will take years, and the middle classes will not be idle. As the economy recovers, opportunities will increase. The middle classes will take them. Economic innovation will create new, well paid jobs. Middle-class children will rush to fill them.

That should not dismay sensible Tories. As the middle classes grow richer, they create the wealth to fund social programmes. In order to clear up Gordon Brown's toxic economic legacy, the Cameron government will depend on the efforts and tax contributions of the middle classes, and those efforts will be forthcoming only if they are adequately rewarded.



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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