Tuesday, September 23, 2008

British bar owners told traditional sign 'encourages drink driving'

Landlords Trisha and Thomas Russell were told to remove the board, which shows an arrow beneath the words: 'The Black Dog, Chilmark, Bar and Restaurant' as it was deemed distracting to motorists. The sign, the size of a sandwich board, was erected two decades ago, as the pub is located away from the main A303 road.

The couple, who took over the tenancy four weeks ago were surprised to hear they needed planning permission for the sign and were then shocked to receive an objection from the Highways Agency for their application. A letter from the agency read: "The sign contains several lines of text and is therefore distracting to motorists. "It is also advertising the use of a public house to motorists, potentially providing the temptation to drink and drive while using a long distance trunk route.

"No alcohol is allowed to be served or consumed in service stations on motorways as a matter of principle. "We would wish to continue this principle by not encouraging drivers to break their journey in a public house."

Mrs Russell, 41, said the objection was ridiculous and the pub in Chilmark, Wiltshire, also serves a range of soft drinks and meals. She believes removal of the sign could lead to a dramatic drop in customers. "Motorists who come in only use the toilet and have a sandwich alongside a glass of lemonade," she said. "We get a lot of our business from the sign and without it I worry that our customer numbers will fall considerably. "We came here from another pub and have never experienced anything as daft as this, " she added.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the letter could be "misconstrued" and there was no implication that signs of public houses would lead to an increase in drink driving. "The decision to drink drive is a personal one and not directly the responsibility of the publican or the business." A spokeswoman for West Wiltshire District Council said the planning application was still under-review and that a decision had not yet been made.


Man and Sillyman

How the model of American masculinity became a stoner with an Xbox

Not so long ago, unmarried men were called "bachelors," but the word now seems oddly out of date. Back in the day, bachelors were a minor, outsider group populated mostly by loners of ambiguous sexuality or Hefnerian swingers with a taste for cool jazz and dry martinis. Today, as men marry well into their 20s and 30s and enjoy both a boundless pool of sexually available women and a commercial culture awash with "stupid fun," the young, unmarried male has become a far more prominent -- and more vexing -- social type. He has devolved into the child man -- or, if you like, man child, boy man or "basement boy" (a nod to his penchant for taking up residence in the rec rooms of suburban parents) -- with crude obsessions for Xboxes, "hot babes," and Will Farrell and Seth Rogen movies. The emergence of this social t ype is the subject of two timely books, "Men to Boys" and "Guyland."

"Men to Boys," by Gary Cross, a cultural historian at Penn State, offers by far the more, well, mature analysis of boy men. Putting his academic skills to good use, Mr. Cross traces a gradual devolution over three generations from the lingering Victorian ideals of masculine self-restraint, gentility and "measured deference to female culture at home" to the buffoonery of radio host Howard Stern and ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman.

Mr. Cross's early chapter on the Greatest Generation is perhaps the richest in his thoughtful journey through the male-strom of modern masculinity. Transcending the tired cliches about the era's "Father Knows Best" patriarchal conformity, he finds in the 1950s culture a complicated response toward older ideals of masculine probity and self-denial. Of course, fathers were often distant figures, organization men who marched off to work each day in their fedoras and suits. But the uniform had its purpose; it announced men's mature status and symbolized their resistance to the frivolities of fashion and consumerism. Mr. Cross also finds something to admire in the TV "adult westerns" of the period. "Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train" go well beyond simple morality tales, he finds on re-viewing them, dramatizing the experienced dilemmas of male responsibility.

Still, Mr. Cross shows, the post-World War II generation also included the Beats, the editors of Playboy and the Rat Pack, men whose antics spotlighted the tedium of domestic life and who "embraced the right to enjoy themselves." On closer examination, even the father who supposedly knew best really didn't; the iconic father, played by Robert Young in that 1950s sitcom, was a Dr. Spock-era permissive dad, not a proper patriarch. Similarly, the moral didacticism of earlier boys' stories was giving way to fatherless worlds of adventure and fun. In fact, with the emergence of the teenager at midcentury, childhood and youth were changing dramatically. Youth was no longer "a period of waiting and subordination to the whims of adults," Mr. Cross writes. It was increasingly a realm of pleasure with its own media and consumer enticements.

For all the 1950s doubts about the traditional male mensch, it was the 1960s that really did the old boy in. Mr. Cross, an antiwar activist during his college years, is unsparing about his generation, which he now believes threw out time-tested ideals of mature manhood without offering anything substantive in their place. The seriousness and idealism of the early antiwar protesters gave way to "rude defiance" and "revolution for the hell of it," in Abbie Hoffman's memorable words.

The baby boomers then coming of age viewed Dad's moral certainty as a symptom of male arrogance and conformity, fodder for Mad Magazine and, in the 1970s, sitcom characters like Archie Bunker. By attacking men's role in the family as well as in the military, the boomers -- encouraged by taste-makers in Hollywood and the news media -- corroded the foundations of the customary arenas for mature male protectiveness and duty. And by glorifying youth, the don't-trust-anyone-over-30 generation turned mature males into chumps. True, feminists proffered a new ideal of manhood: the sensitive, emotional partner. But the vision met with resistance from many men, Mr. Cross notes, including Robert Bly, with his book "Iron John" (1990) and his "mythopoetic male movement." The sensitive male turned out to be a weak alternative to the celebration of youth, excitement and the "quest for the cool."

Duly deconstructed beginning in the 1960s, male maturity was in full rout by the 1980s, when, for instance, Pepsi proclaimed itself "for those who think young." The coup de grace was performed in the 1990s by the advent of slacker culture and the "endless thrills" of elaborate videogames. Mr. Cross observes that the current generation of young men has been uniquely shaped by a popular culture in which the "celebration of the puerile" never flags: "South Park," "Dumb and Dumber," Maxim, Comedy Central. Meanwhile, a slew of "western, crime, and adventure movies" were "transformed from morality tales into spectacles of violence."

Mr. Cross, who does a commendable job of diagnosis, proposes several remedies that might drag the boy man into adulthood, such as sharpening generational boundaries and reviving a "culturally richer aesthetic." But the prescription seems woefully inadequate to the disease.


The Left's Crooked Umpires

Atlantic Monthly runs an article on John McCain. A photographer, Jill Greenberg, takes pictures of McCain for the piece. She deliberately takes awful photographs, using her skill as a professional to make the senator look as offensive as possible. Charlie Gibson, given the chance to help Americans to get to know the most interesting political figure in decades, uses that opportunity to score cheap political points to demean her instead. These are two perfect examples of the Leftist bias of the media.

But what is it, really, that offends us so much about this bias? There is nothing wrong with having an opinion or incorporating that into coverage of events. We should not apologize for the bias of Christian television stations or Rush Limbaugh. American journalism has historically been biased, but there is a profound difference between the expressed beliefs of opinionated Americans and the creepy bias of the Leftist media. Once, when newspapers were the main source of news in America, many newspapers had partisan names like the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or the Pottsville Republican. That was fine.

What bothers us about bias in the mainstream media is that the Left lies about its bias. It pretends to be an objective collegial body of neutral professionals. It conceals its opinions and pretends instead to be an honest umpire of the facts. It tries to trick us.

That was what was so very wrong about the Jill Greenberg photo sessions with Senator McCain. Ms. Greenberg pretended to be a genuine professional who would have used the camera in the same way for McCain or Obama. Instead, she used her position as an unbiased professional to fool McCain into trusting her. Then she betrayed that trust.

It is when the Leftist media pretends to be accurate, balanced, and objective that we feel outraged. Clinton taught us how politicians look right into the camera and lie, but we saw that in the Leftist media long ago. Pubic opinion polls routinely show that Americans believe that the media is too liberal. These polls show that Republicans and Independents trust the media much less than Democrats. Even Obama supporters believe that the media is out to get Sarah Palin. How, then, can an honest person look at the American people and say with a straight face that the media is not slanted to the Left? An honest person cannot, but this is precisely what Leftists do all the time: They pretend that conservative complaints about the tilt of network news, national newspapers, and weekly magazines are nutty, even when the Left knows that the bias is real.

The Left does not want to argue honestly or to win fights fairly. Leftists believe that the end justifies the means. If that means pretending to be neutral when in fact you have a distinct political agenda, that is fine (as long as you win.) The Left does not believe in honest umpires. Leftists view those umpires of our society as simply players in the grand game of ideological war.

News anchors and reporters are presented to America as objective referees of information. Healthy societies need good umpires. We expect public school teachers, psychologists, heads of nonprofit organizations, professors, and other types of referees to not have a common political agenda. We expect these societal referees to put their biases aside, to forget their party label, and to look at us as individuals. We do not expect them to abuse our trust.

Leftism, however, has politicized every aspect of human existence. The media is just one slice of our life in which ideological partisans pretend to be good umpires. Public education has become a tool for instilling "correct" value systems. The legal profession, led by the American Bar Association and purely political judges, now has policy goals, rather than process goals like justice. We no longer have systems regulated by the integrity of umpires -- reporters, teachers, judges, etc. -- because the Left has consciously striven to turn all umpires into advocates.

This is because the Left is, at its core, utterly totalitarian. It is pure theory divorced from practice and immune to the lessons of experience. It is ideology hostile to all real ideas (if you doubt this, try telling a Leftist that men and women are basically different -- just as an idea.) It is intense religious faith without the transcendent moral constraints of faith in God. A priest, a minister, and a rabbi all have definite opinions about how to live a good life, but all find their methods constrained by divine principles. Judeo-Christian morality does not believe that the end justifies the means. The zealous clergy of Leftism are constrained only by the gullibility of their audience. An NFL referee looks at a play closely to see how what happened on the field fits into the rulebook. The referees of Leftism have a rule book in which the single rule is to advance their ideology. A judge at the state fair looks at cherry pies or show pigs for defined qualities, but an activist judge in an apellate court enthralled with Leftism looks at ideology and desired outcomes.

The corruption of our referees weakens every part of our society. It is much bigger than the Leftist media, although this corruption of honor has given us the Leftist media. Everything now is political, or it soon will be, if the Left has its way. Although we need many victories for Judeo-Christian civilization to survive, perhaps the biggest victory is to bring back people we can trust. Would it bother us so much if ninety percent of the media was Democrat, if those Democrats behaved impartially? Would the Leftist media be a problem if the Left acknowledged that bias?

Leftists contend fairly when they contend openly. Once there were honorable Leftists, but when the ideology of the Left is tried and fails, as it always does, then these honorable people either change their opinions or make arguments which do not persuade -- or they stopped being honorable people trying to convince us that their ideology is good and, instead, they become the Left's crooked umpires.


U.S. military protecting a ratty feminist

On the eve of breaking new developments in the mysterious case of Jill Metzger, the female Air Force major who disappeared from her U.S. military base for three days in 2006, a deliberate cyber attack shut down our MilitaryCorruption.com website. But don't look for any major media coverage of the attack on our First Amendment right of free speech. In this case, www.MilitaryCorruption.com (MCC) was deemed a threat to undermine the credibility of someone considered to be one of the leading feminist icons in the U.S. military services.

Remember that it was Metzger's claim, not backed up by any evidence, that she had been abducted and then heroically escaped her captors. Many media organizations in the U.S. trumpeted this claim. But circumstantial evidence, some of it offered by local media in Kyrgyzstan, where Metzger was based, indicated she left that military installation for personal reasons and concocted a cover story.

If that tale turns out to be false, and there is a lot of reason to doubt it, the military top brass who have been protecting her?and the mainstream media which have refused to investigate the matter?will end up looking like fools or worse. That's why MilitaryCorruption.com was a threat, and that's why we were closed down?temporarily.

Readers of the AIM website will be familiar with the curious case. AIM editor Cliff Kincaid has written several stories about it. Referring to Metzger's status as a prominent woman in the military and two-time Air Force Marathon winner, he has called it the military scandal the media won't touch. He's referring to the feminists in positions of media power who didn't want to do anything to undermine Metzger's role as a successful model for what women can do in the military.

Like Kincaid, I have always been suspicious of Metzger's story. MilitaryCorruption.com has even offered $100,000 for documentation that will prove what really happened, as well as information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone guilty of pension fraud.

We didn't get all of the documents we needed, like a hard copy of the closely-guarded Air Force investigative report, but we did obtain inside information when we interviewed an OSI (Office of Special Investigations) agent who worked the case and contributed to that document. That information indicates that not only was Metzger's story about being kidnapped and abducted false, but that military officials have knowledge of the cover-up. And that means that military higher-ups know that she is not entitled to the "temporary disability retirement" with full benefits that she is currently receiving. If they knowingly participated in a fraudulent scheme to give her such military benefits, they can be prosecuted.

But just as we were preparing to release the new information?and we had alerted the public in a press release to what was coming?we were hit with what a member of our technical staff concluded was "a calculated DOD (Department of Defense) cyber attack." It destroyed our home page and made it impossible for many thousands of daily readers to access the site. The trail, we were told, led all the way to the U.S. Army installation at Ft. Meade, Md.

You should realize, dear reader, that your government has zillions of taxpayer dollars to equip and employ the best computer experts in the business, stick them in a uniform and put them to work in the underground rooms at Meade.

We can understand the need for cyber attacks directed at foreign and hostile sites. But www.MilitaryCorruption.com is run by a group of veterans who only want accountability and truth from the military high command....

We told of an Air Force OSI (Office of Special Investigations) agent who'd worked on the Metzger case and decided to obey his conscience, telling us the inside story of the investigation and subsequent cover-up. A "major" embarrassment, pardon the pun. No other civilian media, especially the lap-dog Air Force Times, would dare touch such a "politically-incorrect" story. But we did.

MilitaryCorruption.com has published numerous articles over the past couple years as we uncovered bits of new information about the puzzling case. Now we had the missing piece. Several senior officers could face charges if Metzger's lucrative PTSD "disability" pension (based on her so-called heroics) turned out to be a "pay-off" or "hush-money."

"We were told to lay off her, because she had somebody really big right by the balls," the agent said in one of our lengthy background interviews. The generals and Pentagon will do whatever it takes to protect their own. Rats backed into a corner always bite back. So someone with plenty of rank decided to pull the plug on us and see what we'd do.

Well, we're back on line. We've published the first two installments in the Metzger series and will post the third and final one if we have no further interference. The motto of MilitaryCorruption.com is FIGHTING FOR THE TRUTH and EXPOSING THE CORRUPT. The staff intends to stand by that and not cower before those who would attempt to censor and silence us. We are here to stay.



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

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

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


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