Thursday, October 09, 2008

California brings back 'bride' and 'groom' on marriage licences after gender neutral drive fails

Marvellous what publicity does. It's just about the only defence against arrogant bureaucrats

The bride and groom are back in California. State health officials say the traditional words "bride" and "groom" will reappear on all marriage license applications issued in California starting next month. The change is being made because many couples still wanted the option of identifying themselves in such terms - even after same-sex marriages were legalised in the state, the California Department of Public Health said.

When same-sex marriage became legal on June 16, the health department issued new gender-neutral marriage forms with the words "Party A" and "Party B" where "bride" and "groom" used to be. The latest paperwork, which county clerks will be required to use starting November 17, will have blank spaces for applicants' names and personal information next to the words "First Person Data" and "Second Person Data" and boxes for checking "bride" or "groom." Because "bride" and "groom" appear in both sections, couples could check the same title twice to reflect a union between two men or two women.

Eliminating "bride" and "groom" from marriage certificates was a step the department thought it had to take to comply with the California Supreme Court decision in June that legalised same-sex marriage, spokeswoman Suanne Buggy said yesterday. But in the time since, state officials have looked for alternatives to satisfy couples who did not like the ring of "Party A" and "Party B," she said.

California and Massachusetts are the only U.S. states that allow gay marriages. Some other states let same-sex couples enter into civil unions offering some of marriage's legal advantages. California has an initiative on the November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage


Turning Sarah Palin into a twenty-first century witch

In our era of lifestyle politics, the PC moral crusade against Palin exposes the cosmopolitan elite's contempt for the common people

So, Sarah Palin or her vicious, spiteful critics - who is worse? As a libertarian humanist, I find Palin's prejudices about creationism and family life troubling. And I am always disturbed when politicians cynically pretend that they are just `regular guys' or `hockey moms'. Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to picking a candidate for the vice president of the United States, I am less interested in the individual's mothering identity than in her policies.

That is also why I find the attacks on Palin for her role as a mother so nauseating, too. As an advocate of choice in reproductive matters, and in the conduct of personal morality, I strongly disagree with Palin. However, I find myself in the strange position of disagreeing even more with her critics, who seek to dehumanise her and cast her in the role of a twenty-first century witch.

Feminists used to complain that in medieval times it was mainly women who were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. Now many of them have signed up to a vicious internet-driven witch-hunting club against Palin. In their obsessive desire to expose the `real' Palin, they have even tried to crucify her for `wanting it all'! She `returns to work three days after giving birth', exclaims one feminist, adding that Palin is `living the life of a caricature of the feminist who "wants it all"'.

`After the birth of her fifth child, she was back in the office after a few days', complains Sally Quinn of the Washington Post. Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, asks: `How does [Palin] square her role as a mother and a politician?'

When did the aspiration to combine motherhood with a successful career become a focus for the hatred of so-called progressives and feminists? In their opportunistic denunciation of Palin, many of her critics reveal their own barely concealed sense of envy. Take the good Reverend Debra W Haffner, who finds it `hard to imagine how a new mother of a five-month-old baby, no less one with special needs, is running a state, no less a national campaign'. In a distinctly mean-spirited tone, she adds: `Maybe it's gotten a lot easier since I had mine.' This woman of the cloth, who describes herself as a `minister and a sexologist', has no problem with denouncing Palin for putting her career ahead of her family. `My family values - and the decisions I've made throughout my career - have always put challenging times in my family first', Haffner boasts. From Haffner's perspective, a mother pursuing a serious career means putting children and family second.

It seems that even fervent advocates of women's rights will adopt outdated and chauvinistic moral rhetoric when targeting a woman they do not like. Jane Smiley castigates Palin for her `bitchy and arrogant point of view', which is apparently a `characteristic of all conservative women'. `The bitch is in there', observes this signed-up member of the otherwise sophisticated American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The reaction to Palin suggests that many supporters of the pro-choice lobby have adopted a radically new definition of choice. It now means `choose what we think is good', otherwise you will be denounced as a feckless breeder or an irresponsible mother. Jane Smiley took it upon herself to question Palin's right to have a child at the ripe old age of 44. Smiley the prescriptive inquisitor asks: `If she produces a child at 44, I want to know if she believes in birth control.'

Other pro-choice commentators find it incomprehensible that a 44-year-old woman would choose to give birth to a child in the first place. `I think getting knocked up when you're 44, at the peak of your career and [when you] already have four children, is more than slightly narcissistic', writes the blogger Molly Lambert. Lambert also seems to believe that Palin has only herself to blame for the fact that her youngest child has Down's Syndrome. `I am not saying that being old gets you a retarded baby, but it certainly doesn't help', she observes helpfully.

In its `Top Ten Most Disturbing Facts and Impressions of Sarah Palin', the popular liberal magazine AlterNet seems adamant that Palin `takes unnecessary risks with the health of her child'. Progressive America, it seems, is now in the business of moralising about how a mother ought to manage her pregnancies. Palin apparently has `taken unnecessary risks in the delivery of her child', and as far as AlterNet is concerned she is not fit to be a mother, never mind a serious political candidate.

This sentiment is echoed by Bonnie Fuller on The Huffington Post, who asks if Palin is `ready to take the mantle of the worst mother of the year'. For AlterNet, Palin's `uber-motherhood' is a fa‡ade since she is the `right's version of what a strong woman should look like'. Evidently, right-wing women can be treated as white trash by an otherwise morally refined and `progressive' online publication.

Others condemn Palin for allowing her 17-year-old daughter to get pregnant and for not being embarrassed by this `family secret'. For Bonnie Fuller, one of Palin's crimes is her attempt to `normalise' her daughter's pregnancy. `She opposes sex education and her daughter is pregnant', writes the Democratic Party's favourite academic George Lakoff. As far as he is concerned, that alone is proof of Palin's moral inferiority.

America's cultural elite sometimes expresses its contempt for simple-minded ordinary folk - yet when it comes to circulating rumours and conspiracy theories, this elite can outdo the most gullible, poorly-educated of America's `trailer trash'. Spreading the rumour that Palin's youngest son (Trig) is really the offspring of her daughter (Bristol), one reproductive advocate employed by the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in Pittsburgh writes: `My own sicko scenario: Trig is Bristol's baby.' Others speculate that Palin has cynically encouraged her 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy in order to use her as a poster child for her own anti-abortion and abstinence-only education policies.

The virulence of the language used by the anti-Palin crusaders reflects the contempt with which the American cosmopolitan elite regards common people. Such explicit denunciations of ordinary people's morality and lifestyles by self-confessed progressive or liberal commentators are rare today, at a time when American culture professes to be non-judgmental and tolerant - certainly such vicious stereotyping would be condemned if it was directed at minorities or any other section of society apart from `rednecks'. That is why, normally, such top-down contempt is expressed through euphemisms and nods and winks.

In the US, terms such as `Nascar Dads', `Valley Girls', `Joe six-pack' or `redneck' have become codewords for the white working classes or the `underclass'. In Britain, commentators use different phrases for undesirable sections of society: `chavs', `white van man', `Worcester Woman', `tabloid readers'. These are the kind of people who do not write for The Huffington Post and whose lifestyles are looked upon as alien by the very high-minded cultural elites. The very fact that `these people' breed, are unashamedly carnivorous, are not on a diet, sometimes drink beer, sometimes smoke and sometimes partake in even cruder pleasures of life means they cannot be treated as the moral equals of their cosmopolitan superiors.

The invective hurled at Palin is directed not at her politics, but at her lifestyle. This shows that the real dividing line in the American election is not between left and right, but between competing lifestyles. Indeed, the politicisation of lifestyle has become one the most distinctive features of American public life today. Some seem to take their lifestyles so seriously that they do not simply disagree with people who have a different outlook to them - rather they heap contempt and loathing on those who possess different manners, habits and values.

What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms. These passionate denunciations suggest that some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel that their very identity - as expressed through their lifestyles - is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, sexual behaviour or any other issue. That is why the denunciation of Palin has assumed such an intensely personal and bitter character. When lifestyle becomes politicised, the new breed of politically-correct moral crusaders cannot help but embrace the language and approach of the witch hunters of old.


Poll: Young Voters in CA opposing homosexual "marriage"

A new CBS 5 poll finds that California's Proposition 8 has picked up support in the wake of a television ad campaign that features footage of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaiming same-sex marriage is here to stay "whether you like it or not." The poll conducted for CBS 5 by SurveyUSA indicates that support for the measure to ban gay marriage has grown among voters in the state over an eleven day period -- most especially among young voters.

According to the poll, likely California voters overall now favor passage of Proposition 8 by a five-point margin, 47 percent to 42 percent. Ironically, a CBS 5 poll eleven days prior found a five-point margin in favor of the measure's opponents. The only demographic group to significantly change their views during this period were younger voters -- considered the hardest to poll and the most unpredictable voters -- who now support the measure after previously opposing it.

It should be noted that the poll, conducted statewide Oct. 4 and 5 among 670 likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent, and the pollster continued to label the race too close to call -- just as it did eleven days ago. "Polling on ballot measures in general is an inexact science, and polling on homosexuality in general is a tricky business. So, not too much should be made of the 5 points that separates 'Yes' and 'No' today," concluded a summary of the results prepared by SurveyUSA.

Unchanged from the two recent polls: Those in the Inland Empire and the Central Valley continue to back Proposition 8, while those in the Bay Area remain opposed. Those in the greater Los Angeles area also remained largely split.

Not surprisingly, support for a gay marriage ban was strongest among those who considered themselves conservatives and identified themselves as regular churchgoers. Opposition was strongest amongst liberals and those who are less religious.


Unending attempts to appease Iran have failed

Just as they failed with Adolf. Democrats have been "talking" to Iran since Carter

In response to a casual question, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dropped a historical bombshell, an offhand remark telling more about how the Middle East works than 100 books. And a former Marine commander adds an equally big revelation about long-ago events quite relevant for today.

Almost thirty years ago, President Jimmy Carter tried to show what a nice guy he was by pressing the Shah not to crush the revolutionaries. After the monarch fell, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski met top officials of the new Islamist regime to pledge U.S. friendship to the government controlled by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. At the time, I wrote that by approaching some of the milder radicals, the administration frightened the more militant ones. U.S.-Iran relations must be smashed, they concluded, lest Washington back their rivals. In fact, as we'll see in a moment, the Carter administration offered to back Khomeini himself.

Three days after the Brzezinski meeting, in November 1979, the Islamist regime's cadre seized the U.S. embassy and its staff as hostages, holding them until January 1981. This was our introduction to the new Middle East of radical Islamism. Carter continued his weak stance, persuading the Tehran regime that it could get away with anything.

So we've long known that undermining U.S. allies, passivity toward anti-American radicals, and inaction after a massive terrorist act against Americans didn't work. The hostages were only released because Iran was suffering desperately from an Iraqi invasion and feared Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, as someone likely to be tougher.

The lesson of being strong in defending interests and combating enemies has not quite been learned. Today, the opposite is the mainstream prescription for success and the United States may be about to elect a president whose world view parallels the way Carter worked.

Here's where Gates comes in. On September 29, while giving a lecture at the National Defense University in Washington DC, someone asked him how the next president might improve relations with Iran. Gates responded: "I have been involved in the search for the elusive Iranian moderate for 30 years." Then Gates revealed what was actually said at Brzezinski's meeting, in which he participated, summarizing Brzezinski's position as follows: "We will accept your revolution....We will recognize your government. We will sell you all the weapons that we had contracted to sell the Shah....We can work together in the future."

The Iranians demanded the United States turn over to them the fugitive Shah, who they would have executed. Brzezinski refused. Three days later Iran seized the embassy and forever changed the Middle East. The road thus paved led to the Iran-Iraq and Iraq-Kuwait wars, the power of Hamas and Hizballah, September 11, 2001, and a great deal more. Many thousands would die due to American timidity and Iranian aggressiveness.

Had the United States been a mean bully in its treatment of the new Islamist Iran? The On the contrary, Washington did everything possible to negotiate, conciliate, and build confidence. We'll do almost anything you want, Carter and Brzezinski offered, just be our friend. Far from being appeased Iran demanded such a total humiliation--turning over the fatally ill, deposed Shah for execution--even that administration couldn't accept it.

Far from persuading Khomeini that the United States was a real threat, the U.S. government made itself appear a pitiful, helpless giant, convincing Tehran--as Khomeini put it--America couldn't do a damn thing. His revolution and ideology was too strong for it.

So why should we expect such a tactic could work today? How long does it take to get the message: this is an ideological revolution with huge ambitions to which America is inevitably a barrier. Appeasement, talks, apologies, confidence-building measures won't convince Tehran that America is its friend, only that it's an enemy so weak as to make aggression seem inevitably successful.

The only U.S. precondition has been that to get a high-level dialogue, Iran must first stop its drive for nuclear weapons, at least temporarily. Gates understands what happened: "Every administration since then has reached out to the Iranians in one way or another and all have failed....The reality is the Iranian leadership has been consistently unyielding over a very long period of time in response to repeated overtures from the United States about having a different and better kind of relationship."

This situation is quite parallel to efforts to have reasonable preconditions with the Palestinians--stop terrorism, incitement, clearly accept a two-state solution--or with Syria--stop sponsoring terrorism, cease trying to take over Lebanon, and accept normal relations with Israel as the outcome of peace. Similar bargains have been offered Hamas and Hizballah. Yet even this is too much for the other side and too much for those who continue trying to undermine any Western leverage on radical forces.

If the other side won't give anything, they insist, merely offer more. And if the other side takes those concessions, pockets them, gives nothing in return, and continues their behavior, this merely proves you have to give still more.

Here's more evidence why that's wrong. Former U.S. Marine Colonel Timothy Geraghty was Marine commander in October 1983 when suicide bombers attacked the barracks of U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut, killing 242 Americans. He now reveals that a September 26, 1983 U.S. intelligence intercept showed Iran's government ordering the attack through its embassy in Lebanon. The timid response to that operation set a pattern leading directly to the September 11 attack.

Three decades after the miserable failure of the make-friends-with-Islamist-Iran policy--including offering Khomeini continued U.S. arms' supplies for goodness sake!--isn't it time to learn this simple lesson?



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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