Friday, March 06, 2009

Leftist support for drug abusers

Our public policies are indeed founded on the liberal notion that drug users need support, but the opposite view prevails in the country. The result is an underlying tension that, for the most part, we successfully ignore. Just occasionally, however, the moral issues surrounding drugs, and our inability to deal with them, are painfully exposed.

Where, one wonders, does Jake Myerson fit as a drug user? When he was 17, his mother, the novelist Julie Myerson, ejected Jake from home because of his abusive and occasionally violent behaviour. As a teenager in South London, Jake, now 20, became a user of the addictive and powerful form of cannabis known as skunk; on the receiving end, many would say, of peer pressure. His parents, worried about their younger children, gave him a chance to reform and when he didn't, they changed the locks. Jake was taken in by a friend's parents.

Did the Myersons do the right thing? Was it a child they threw out, a victim of drugs; or an abusive young man who needed to be shown the consequences of his behaviour? Jakes's father is Jonathan Myerson, also a writer, magistrate and former councillor. The couple are educated middle-class people - very smug, in Julie Myerson's own words - who saw themselves as good parents. Were they confused about where the boundaries lay?

Plainly, they suffered private agonies. So much so, in fact, that Ms Myerson's new book, The Lost Child, a candid version of events, with Jake's name removed, is due out shortly. We cannot pass judgment on its contents, but we can, I think, observe that misery literature, in all its forms, is still a bestselling genre.

Victimhood, however, is a crowded town to live in. Jake condemned the book this week, saying that he did not want it published. He resents that his mother has been writing about him "for the past 16 years". He's not an addict, he says, describing his parents as naive, insane and emotional about his use of drugs. And there we have it: a man-child who feels rejected, exploited, his rights abused, who says that the drugs are no big deal. A victim, in other words. And a mother who feels understandably violated by her child's drug use, and who has, probably brilliantly, turned private trauma into literary victimhood.

Everyone is on ambiguous moral ground. The Myerson case is, in many ways, a classic example of how confusing it can be when a comfortable, creative lifestyle rubs up against the harsh realities of drug use.

In the case of Brandon Muir there was no cosy lifestyle, but the same questions about a drug user's rights and the fallibility of liberal attitudes are raised. How far must we consider the drug user as the victim? Sometimes, until they kill someone other than themselves.

The story of Brandon, 23 months old when he died at the hands of his mother's heroin addict boyfriend in Dundee, is as ghastly as that of Baby P. His mother sold her body for drugs while her son was dying from a fatal blow that ruptured his duodenum. The toddler, who had 40 injuries to his body, was then taken to a squalid drugs party, where he vomited brown liquid while, all around him, young addicts partied. They laughed at him being sick. Hours later he was dead. His killer was convicted on Tuesday.

Brandon was not on any at-risk register. Why should he have been, when social policy emphasises that drugs users be supported in their lifestyle, not told to wise up? From top to bottom in the existing system, that ethos rules.

Addicts are official victims. They are not regarded as people with a choice. The presumption, therefore, is on keeping their children at home with them, not removing them. Suggestions that contraception be a condition of receiving methadone for addicts caused an outcry in Scotland, with accusations about eugenics.

Which take precedence? The human rights of the infant born to the junkie, or the right of the junkie to have both lifestyle and children? At the moment, it is firmly the latter. Social policy remains studiously non-interventionist; non-judgmental; passive. Hence the confusion. Hence the increasing number of babies raised in addict households; and hence - if you like- the increasing number of screwed-up middle-class teenagers.

According to an Audit Commission report today, children's services deteriorated last year and remain the least good area of councils' work. We should not be surprised. Among both families and professionals, only confusion and lack of confidence will reign until we begin to address the moral status of drug taking.


The useless British police again

Guess which of the two above is the thug

Two catastrophic errors by police allowed the convicted knife offender Karl Bishop to be free on the streets to murder Rob Knox, the Harry Potter actor. Bishop, 21, is facing life in jail after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of killing Mr Knox outside a bar in Sidcup, Kent, last May. Two months before the murder, he had been named as a suspect to police twice in two days over an alleged burglary and a knifepoint robbery. Inexplicably, officers investigating the claims failed to speak to Bishop or question him, despite his long and violent criminal record going back to his early teens. The inquiries were still "live" in May last year when Bishop, who had only been recently released from jail for slashing two men across the face, stabbed Mr Knox and four of his friends with two kitchen knives, in a 90-second frenzy.

Mr Knox, 18, who had just finished filming for the new film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, had confronted the killer after he had earlier threatened his younger brother Jamie at knifepoint. Scotland Yard admitted that the blunder would cause "concern" to the public and the victim's family. When police chiefs learned of the mistake, they called in the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate and launched a force wide review of all outstanding knife offences.

Two police officers, a constable and a sergeant, have been given written warnings. They were based at Plumstead, the same station recently revealed to have failed to identify Robert Napper before he killed Rachel Nickell in 1992, despite him being named by his mother as a rape suspect years before.

Bishop, "a habitual knife carrier" was well known in the area and had two previous knife convictions, one of them for slashing two men in the face in 2005. He served two years of the four-year sentence and nine months after his release, he murdered Mr Knox on May 22 last year. The killing followed a series of incidents, including one at the same Sidcup venue, the Metro bar, the previous week in which Bishop made a "chilling'' prediction. After a row with Mr Knox and his friends, which ended with a fight, Bishop said: "I'm going to come back and someone's going to die".

When he did return as promised, he was armed with two kitchen knives, 11 and 12 inches long. On his way back to the bar he ran across Jamie Knox, 17, and his friends, and threatened them with the blades before continuing on to the bar. Rob was alerted to what had happened by a phone call and came out of the bar to confront Bishop just as he arrived. The knifeman was soon surrounded by a semi-circle of youths and Rob had to be held back as Bishop goaded them, shouting: "Who's going to make my ****** day?"

As well as the murder charge Bishop, who refused to leave the cells to hear the proceedings in the dock yesterday afternoon, was found guilty of wounding Rob's friend Dean Saunders, 23. He was found guilty on majority verdicts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Charlie Grimley, 17, and Nicky Jones, 20. He was also found guilty by a majority of wounding Andrew Dormer, 17, but cleared of wounding another friend, Tom Hopkins, 19. Bishop will be sentenced tomorrow

Asked about the blunders, a spokesman for the Met said: "Lessons have been learned from what happened in this case and measures have been taken, including the introduction of a new system to monitor centrally the progress of action to arrest suspects for all violent crime offences, including knife crime".


"What happened to that America Dad?"

I am "Old School". In a previous era I may have been considered macho. I prefer combat sports (boxing and mixed martial arts) to team sports (baseball and basketball). I prefer outdoor activities (rock climbing, whitewater rafting and camping) to video games. I prefer competition to cooperation, and may the best man win. All too often today, macho self-confidence is confused with "a*shole", "arrogant", or "pig-headed" particularly when it entails any interface with the gentler gender. I believe that in this era of feminized, emasculated, gender-neutral, neutered, politically-correct, "my right to not be offended, trumps your freedom of speech" era, many men who would otherwise voice their opinions have chosen instead to be quiet and pine for a better yesterday. Yet, straight shooters who opt to solve problems rather than wring their hands over them, is exactly what we need.

One method of compensation I have adopted is to collect movies of a John Wayne, Chuck Norris variety. I prefer a simple life where problems can be dealt with head on. The other night, my family was deciding on a movie to watch, and I suggested, that because my son was studying American history and WWII that we watch Patton. The monologue at the beginning is famous and parts bear repeating. "Americans traditionally love to fight." "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser." Within five minutes, of the beginning of the movie, my son turned to me with wonder and admiration in his voice and asked, "Dad, what happened to that America"? I suddenly got tears in my eyes, I hadn't realized how far off the path we had gotten. My response was as accurate as it was politically incorrect, "Son, the last two generations in power have pissed away that America and I fear that if my generation doesn't do something to reverse the slide, there won't be anyone who remembers what was once noble and admired about cowboys and firemen and soldiers".

It has become common in business literature and B School classes to deride the "charismatic leader". To portray the team as paramount and the lone wolf as dangerous, this in the face of all of the facts. Some things to consider, Steve Jobs has saved Apple not once but twice. Microsoft has gone nowhere since Bill Gates backed away from his day to day responsibilities. When Dell got into trouble several years ago, the first thing they did was bring Michael Dell back. In Organizational Behavior they stress the fact that group decisions are often better than what an individual leader will come up with. This is after discussing "sub-optimization" and "group think" and failing to discuss at all, the time cost associated with group dynamics. Give me a decisive, informed, engaged, ethical visionary to a group anytime.

It is interesting to note the difference between Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address and Barak Obama's. Both inherited an America on the ropes. In each case unemployment was high and getting higher. Arguably in Reagan's case the scenario was worse, interest rates were MUCH higher, and inflation was higher. I don't know for sure, but is suspect in Reagan's first thirty days he never claimed that they were in the worst economy since the Great Depression and I suspect he never used the terms "catastrophic", "crisis" or any other similar panty-waste, hand-wringing, pussy whipped, "I feel your pain", BS for what he saw, as a job that needed doing with an outcome measured in the quality of people's lives, NOT in how many poll percentage points a certain stance was worth. What we need in America today is more Patton's and fewer Powell's, more Apple`s and fewer Lehman Brothers, more leadership and fewer focus groups.


The Devil Made LBJ Do It

J. Edgar Hoover is the scapegoat for past Democrat excesses

Don't blame President Lyndon Johnson for digging up salacious gossip on future Motion Pictures Association President Jack Valenti. The devil made him do it. "Previously confidential FBI files show that [J. Edgar] Hoover's deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer," a page-one Washington Post story revealed last week. "Johnson initially blocked the FBI from obtaining a sworn statement from Valenti or approaching the photographer, asserting that Valenti was 'attracted to the women and not to the men,' files show. But under FBI pressure, the president relented and approved an investigation of his close friend."

The investigation evidently concluded that the ad-man-turned-Johnson-aide-turned-Hollywood-lobbyist was not a homosexual. "Even Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members," the Post further reported. "Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover."

The Washington Post's scoop, and Moyers's non-denial denial, regurgitates a familiar excuse: Hoover did it. In this time-worn script, the FBI director plays the role of Mephistopheles, with various liberal presidents cast as the innocent with the pesky devil upon his shoulder.

Don't blame President John Kennedy, or his attorney general brother Bobby Kennedy, for sleazily bugging Martin Luther King's hotel rooms. The devil made them do it.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. contended in Robert Kennedy and His Times that tapping King's phone "had been on Hoover's agenda for some time." "The Bureau kept up its pressure," Schlesinger wrote, and "Kennedy finally assented." Schlesinger pled with the reader to understand "the dilemma in which Hoover had placed the Kennedys": "If Robert Kennedy refused a tap on King and anything went wrong, Hoover would have a field day. On the other hand, a tap might end the matter by demonstrating King's entire innocence, even to the satisfaction of the FBI." The Kennedys' motives, Camelot's court historian implied, were entirely benign. "The Kennedys authorized the taps for defensive purposes-in order to protect King, to protect the civil rights bill, to protect themselves."

Don't blame Harry Truman for ordering suspected Communists out of federal government jobs. The devil made him do it.

Biographer David McCullough noted that Hoover had pushed for more stringent measures weeding out loyalty and security risks from federal jobs, claiming that the "whole concept troubled" Truman and the "political pressures bore heavily" upon the 33rd president. Truman didn't want to do it. Alas, the devil made him do it: "On Friday, March 21, 1947, nine days after his address to Congress, Truman issued Executive Order No. 9835, establishing an elaborate Federal Employees Loyalty and Security Program. And he did so with misgivings." As a postscript to the affair, the Truman biographer notes: "Truman's concern over J. Edgar Hoover continued to trouble him."

Don't blame Woodrow Wilson for jailing (e.g., Eugene Debs, Kate Richards O'Hare, and "Big" Bill Haywood) and deporting (e.g., Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman) radicals. The devil made him do it.

A 2007 book by Kenneth Ackerman places much of the blame for the first "Red Scare" on J. Edgar Hoover, despite being just 24, fresh out of law school, and a low-level bureaucrat, and makes excuses for Woodrow Wilson, despite being president of the United States. "J. Edgar Hoover had been [attorney general A. Mitchell] Palmer's special assistant when the raids began on November 7, 1919, and he had his fingerprints all over them," contends Young J. Edgar: Hoover, The Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties. How did the young mastermind escape notice from contemporaneous chroniclers? "Edgar carefully kept his name out of the all the press releases and news accounts of the day; Palmer wanted all the headlines for himself. But no one could deny this was Edgar's job from start to finish." Tying Woodrow Wilson to the policies of the Wilson administration proved more problematic for Ackerman. "And what did Woodrow Wilson think? Nobody quite knew, because the president never quite said." As Ackerman would have it, "the president's mind was elsewhere," making it difficult to connect him to his own policies.

J. Edgar Hoover is necessary to square the soaring liberal rhetoric on civil liberties with the atrocious civil liberties records of liberal presidents. With an ideology extolling civil liberties crashing into its record of smashing civil liberties, ideologues reshape the facts to fit the ideology. The blame-Hoover template asks readers to believe that the president takes orders from the director of the FBI rather than the reverse. It portrays the world-class arm-twister Lyndon Johnson as a man prone to crying uncle, Woodrow Wilson as secretly opposing his administration's policies, and the Kennedys acceding to electronic surveillance on Martin Luther King only for his own protection.

The familiar narrative of the FBI director making liberal presidents go against their better judgment is convenient but false. J. Edgar Hoover's posthumous ability to make liberal academics and journalists to go against their better judgment, on the other hand, grows ever more powerful with every revisionist biography and page-one scoop.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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