Friday, March 05, 2010

"The Guardian" says that Rupert Murdoch is the reason why Conservatives don't like the BBC

The fact that the BBC is for the most part a Leftist propaganda outfit is not mentioned. Conservatives don't need Rupert to make them hostile to the Beeb. The Beeb is its own worst enemy. If it had stuck to its charter it would be beyond criticism

Like a man who fears he's about to get knifed in the heart, so plunges the blade into his own leg instead, the BBC has decided. its best strategy for self-preservation is to suffer a little pain now to avoid a lot of pain later. The strategy review unveiled this week offered up a couple of radio networks and half its web pages by way of a sacrifice.

The latter sounds like a smart decision. The core business of the BBC is broadcasting - it's there in the name - and if it has to choose between radio, television and an uncountable number of web pages, then radio and TV should always come first. The review should have held firm on the principle that underpins the universal licence: that everybody in Britain should get something from the BBC.

So why has BBC director-general Mark Thompson proposed closing the Asian Network, the teen cross-media brands BBC Switch and Blast!, as well as halving the size of the BBC website? Because he feared that if he didn't jump from the second-storey window, an incoming British Conservative government would push him off the roof. He is right to be anxious.

The Tories have indeed signalled a hostility to the BBC that is rare, if not unprecedented, in an opposition. Why might that be? Two words: Rupert Murdoch. People often speak of the unique influence of the media magnate, with his combination of economic and political muscle, but ''influence'' doesn't quite capture it. Instead, Tory leader David Cameron has simply allowed News Corporation to write the Conservative Party's media policy.

Start with the BBC. Murdoch, with son James, can't stand it - regarding it, a senior figure in broadcasting tells me, as ''like the ebola virus: they can't destroy it, so they try to contain it''. They dress up their opposition in pseudo-intellectual free-market blather, but the reality is much earthier: the BBC is a rival, and therefore an obstacle to News' commercial ambitions. The smaller and weaker the BBC becomes, the more money News Corp can make.

So the Murdochs constantly demand a cut in Britain's licence fee. Last year Cameron nodded dutifully and called for an immediate freeze in the fee. That would have marked an unprecedented break in the multi-year financial settlement that is so integral to the BBC's independence - preventing it from constantly having to make nice to the politicians to keep the money coming in.

More HERE. Also here

The Intolerance and Bigotry of Openly Gay Military Service

In early February, I published a column and a blog post at the American Spectator, urging retention of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I argued that giving lesbians and homosexuals a specially protected legal status would inevitably lead to infringing upon the First Amendment rights of religious believers and cultural traditionalists. This is true, I noted, for several reasons. First, the gay lobby demands not just tolerance of lesbians and homosexuals, but explicit affirmation of the same. Consequently, the gay lobby will litigate against religious believers and cultural traditionalists who do not acquiesce to its agenda. This, in fact, already has happened — and is happening — in the civilian world.

Moreover, the litigious nature of American society almost will require that these issues be fought out in the courts, where cultural traditionalists and religious believers have very few allies. Finally, as a practical matter, the hierarchical nature of the military tends to suppress free thought and intellectual dissent.

In fact, intellectual uniformity and compliance tend to be enforced within the military and sometimes in a rather heavy-handed manner. (The Marine Corps is the notable exception to this rule. The Corps actively encourages intellectual exploration and dissent; however, the Marines are a unique and special breed.)

All of which argues, I wrote, for maintaining the current policy: because the current policy allows gay men and women to serve discreetly and without conflict, and to do so without making a legal issue of their sexual status and sexual orientation. The American Spectator’s Philip Klein then wrote a thoughtful blog post in which he took exception to my case. Philip said my concerns were exaggerated and overblown. “To me, it’s hard to see what the fuss is about,” he wrote.

Well, it should be less hard now in light of recent Air Force censorship. The censorship occurred last week and involves the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins. Mr. Perkins had been invited (last October) to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base. But two days after the State of the Union Address, in which President Obama called for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Air Force rescinded Perkins’ invitation. The reason: Perkins had spoken out in support of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; and this, he was told by the Air Force, made his views “incompatible [for] military members who serve our elected officials and our Commander-in-Chief.”

Perkins is a veteran of the Marine Corps and an ordained minister. He expressed his dismay at being censored in two separate documents, a policy update and a press release, both published last week by the Family Research Council:
As one who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms, I am disappointed that I’ve been denied the opportunity to speak to members of the military, in a non-political way, solely because I exercised my free speech rights in a different forum.

It’s ironic that this blacklisting should occur because I called for the retention and enforcement of a valid federal statute…

Unfortunately, this is just a precursor of things to come in a post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military. This legislation would more than open the armed forces to homosexuals; it would lead to a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone who disapproves of homosexuality…

Military chaplains would bear the heaviest burden. Would their sermons be censored to prevent them from preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin?
Moreover, according to CNSNews, which, together with the Washington Times, broke the story:
“The [Air Force] Chaplain’s Office retracted Mr. Perkins’ invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable,” the Andrews base public affairs office said in a statement issued late Thursday, [February 25].

Censoring military veterans, ordained ministers, religious believers, cultural traditionalists, and civic-minded leaders like Tony Perkins is dismaying; however, it is, sadly, not surprising. It is, in fact, the inevitable end result of a series of statements made by key political and military leaders to the effect that being gay is on a par with being black or Asian. Never mind that being gay is, as Colin Powell pointed out back in 1993, a behavioral characteristic, whereas being black or Asian absolutely is not a behavioral characteristic.

Nonetheless, say key political and military leaders, gays must be accorded a specially protected legal status; and all those who don’t agree better shut up, resign or retire, and get out of the way. Twenty-year Navy veteran J.E. Dyer explained why this must be so at Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog.
Gays can already serve in the U.S. military; repealing DADT [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] isn’t about allowing them to [serve]. It’s about endorsing their sexual orientation in military operations and culture.

The course of hands-off neutrality is not an option in these realms; their unique character is to require affirmative policy. Civilians should start by understanding this.

The quiescent tolerance they think of in relation to their own lives must translate, in the military, into endorsement and administration of an explicit position.
Philip Klein discounts Dyer’s concerns as far-fetched hyperbole. I wish Philip were right; but alas, he is mistaken.

Straight firefighters in San Diego, for instance, were forced (in 2007) to march in a gay pride parade. The firefighters later sued and won a lawsuit for this infringement of their First Amendment rights; but most military personnel are neither inclined nor able to sue their military supervisors.

Most military personnel, in fact, quietly suffer whatever injustices they are forced to suffer at the hands of their superiors. Indeed, as Dyer observed:
There is no “neutral zone” in the military as there is in civilian life. The military operates on affirmative policy. It will administer open gay service on the basis that homosexuality must be acceptable to everyone in the service.

There is no basis for trusting in any quiescent barriers to the full implications of that, as the current plethora of legal issues arising from gay advocacy lawsuits makes clear.
Why, then, is the military considering a policy that purports to solve a problem which doesn’t exist (because lesbians and homosexuals can and do serve now, albeit discreetly), will infringe upon the First Amendment rights of military members, and likely will drive valuable personnel out of military service altogether?

These are good but politically inconvenient questions, which is why they escape the lips of the Big Media.


History's oldest hatred

by Jeff Jacoby

ANTI-SEMITISM is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds, so it is strange that it lacks a more meaningful name. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" -- a term coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a scientific-sounding euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred -- is particularly inane, since hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with Semites or being Semitic. (That is why those who protest that Arabs cannot be anti-Semitic since "Arabs are Semites too" speak either from ignorance or disingenuousness.)

Perhaps there is no good name for a virus as mutable and unyielding as anti-Semitism. "The Jews have been objects of hatred in pagan, religious, and secular societies," write Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager in Why the Jews?, their classic study of anti-Semitism. "Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as 'racists.' Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless cosmopolitans and ethnic chauvinists. Jews who assimilate have been called a 'fifth column,' while those who stay together spark hatred for remaining separate."

So hardy is anti-Semitism, it can flourish without Jews. Shakespeare's poisonous depiction of the Jewish moneylender Shylock was written for audiences that had never seen a Jew, all Jews having been expelled from England more than 300 years earlier. Anti-Semitic bigotry infests Saudi Arabia, where Jews have not dwelt in at least five centuries; its malignance is suggested by the government daily Al-Riyadh, which published an essay claiming that Jews have a taste for "pastries mixed with human blood."

There was Jew-hatred before there was Christianity or Islam, before Nazism or Communism, before Zionism or the Middle East conflict. This week Jews celebrate the festival of Purim, gathering in synagogues to read the biblical book of Esther. Set in ancient Persia, it tells of Haman, a powerful royal adviser who is insulted when the Jewish sage Mordechai refuses to bow down to him. Haman resolves to wipe out the empire's Jews and makes the case for genocide in an appeal to the king:

"There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among ... all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different from those of other peoples, and the king's laws they do not keep, so it is of no benefit for the king to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed." After winning royal assent, Haman makes plans "to annihilate, to kill and destroy all the Jews, the young and the elderly, children and women, in one day . . . and to take their property for plunder."

What drives such bloodlust? Haman's indictment accuses the Jews of lacking national loyalty, of insinuating themselves throughout the empire, of flouting the king's law. But the Jews of Persia had done nothing to justify Haman's murderous anti-Semitism -- just as Jews in later ages did nothing that justified their persecution under the Church or Islam, or their expulsion from so many lands in Europe and the Middle East, or their repression at the hands of Russian czars and Soviet commissars, or their slaughter by Nazi Germany. When the president of Iran today calls for the extirpation of the Jewish state, when a leader of Hamas vows to kill Jewish children around the world, when firebombs are hurled at synagogues in London and Paris and Chicago, it is not because Jews deserve to be victimized.

Some Jews are no saints, but the paranoid frenzy that is anti-Semitism is not explained by what Jews do, but by what they are. The Jewish people are the object of anti-Semitism, not its cause. That is why the haters' rationales can be so wildly inconsistent and their agendas so contradictory. What, after all, do those who vilify Jews as greedy bankers have in common with those who revile them as seditious Bolsheviks? Nothing, save an irrational obsession with Jews.

At one point in the book of Esther, Haman lets the mask slip. He boasts to his friends and family of "the glory of his riches, and the great number of his sons, and everything in which the king had promoted him and elevated him." Still, he seethes with rage and frustration: "Yet all this is worthless to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." That is the unforgivable offense: "Mordechai the Jew" refuses to blend in, to abandon his values, to be just like everyone else. He goes on sitting there -- undigested, unassimilated, and for that reason unbearable.

Of course Haman had his ostensible reasons for targeting Jews. So did Hitler and Arafat; so does Ahmadinejad. Sometimes the anti-Semite focuses on the Jew's religion, sometimes on his laws and lifestyle, sometimes on his national identity or his professional achievements. Ultimately, however, it is the Jew's Jewishness, and the call to higher standards that it represents, that the anti-Semite cannot abide.

With all their flaws and failings, the Jewish people endure, their role in history not yet finished. So the world's oldest hatred endures too, as obsessive and indestructible -- and deadly -- as ever.


A jaundiced Leftist view of the world's most politically incorrect politician

Silvio is very Italian -- with the disrespect for rules that is characteristic of Italians. He just does and says what he thinks. Comment from Australia below

On and on through the centuries Italian culture, design, art, style, food and wine have uplifted our lives. Surely we can forgive them one or two excesses, such as Silvio Berlusconi, the grinning former cruise ship crooner, who amassed a media fortune and wound up as Prime Minister.

YouTube has plenty of Silvio's excesses on display. One piece of footage has him about to enter his official limousine when he sees a female parking officer bent over the bonnet of a car writing a ticket. He does the unthinkable, stepping right behind the auto della polizia femminile to make some pelvic-thrusting gestures. Hilarious stuff - well at least Silvio thought so. One shudders to think of the consequences if ever Kevin Rudd thought this might be a fun thing to try.

Most Italians seem immune to their Prime Minister's bizarre behaviour. That is not to say everyone is happy. Silvia Greco, a freelance journalist living in Sydney, visited her homeland only to find apathy and docility about Berlusconi.

She wrote about her experiences for The Australian Financial Review last November under the headline ''Via Dolorosa, Italia''. Greco was amazed so few people protested about Berlusconi's affairs with prostitutes, his system of patronage for the most eye-catching of women and the allegations of corruption which see him ducking and weaving through the courts and denouncing the judiciary. She wrote: ''Undoubtedly Berlusconi used his television channels to bewilder the country, crushing opposing voices and creating a grotesquely vulgar society full of naked girls and arrogant politicians.''

Her relatively short article was accompanied by an illustration from the artist Michael Fitzjames. It was a map of Italy, renamed Berlusconia, with the main towns and cities also renamed into places such as as ''Necappi'' and ''Ponzi''.

This was not greeted in a docile fashion by sections of the Italian community in Australia and the Italian government. The AFR has received hundreds of letters protesting at this ''national vilification''. There is now an online petition for Silvia Greco to be stripped of her Italian citizenship. Inviolable values have been transgressed.

Last month La Fiamma, one of the large Italian-language newspapers published in Australia, reported that the Italian Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Stefania Craxi, had replied to a question from the Melbourne-based Italian senator Nino Randazzo. The senator wanted to know what action has been taken by the government over the ''insulting article and cartoon''? La Fiamma said the ''offensive episode [is] unprecedented in the annals of Italo-Australian relations''.

Importantly, La Fiamma revealed a bustle of diplomatic activity over the crisis. Craxi said ''the Italian Embassy in Canberra reacted immediately''. There was a meeting in Canberra with the man at the Europe desk in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Richard Maude. Craxi added the embassy ''set in motion a campaign promoted by the Italian-language newspapers Il Globo and La Fiamma, for the collection of signatures and letters of protest''. According to this report, the Italian government precipitated the protests.

It didn't end there. In Rome, gaskets were being blown at the Farnesina, home of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The director-general for Asia and Oceania met the Australian ambassador Amanda Vanstone. Craxi reported Vanstone ''briefly recalled the excellent state of bilateral relations'', nonetheless was ''sorry for what had happened … then emphasised that the contents of the article in no way reflects the sentiments of the Australian government and people''.

The Human Rights Commission has received 145 complaints. They have asked that the newspaper publish each month an article extolling the beauty of Italy, apologise and pay compensation of $2000 each for the time, grievance and expense this trauma has caused.

Last October The Guardian reported that Berlusconi plans to establish a taskforce to fight bad international press about his sexual and corruption woes. ''An emergency taskforce is to be established within a month to monitor airwaves and newsstands the world over for coverage of Italy and bombard foreign newsrooms with good news about the country.'' The plan was announced by Italy's tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, a former TV journalist with Berlusconi's Mediaset group. Well, it seems to be up and operating at full tilt. Berlusconi seeks to extend his control of the media to the far nooks of the globe.



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 or 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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