Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Taxpayers funding a campaign to get homosexuals onto Amtrak trains (!)

Maybe they have better taste than to go on Amtrak trains

While instances of outrage — and support– continue to rage for the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, Amtrak is also capturing some attention for its ”Ride With Pride” initiative, a new campaign aimed at gay customers. While homosexual rights groups are already praising the targeted efforts, some conservatives will likely express disdain and concern, seeing as the company is tax-payer funded and clearly taking a stance on the issue.

To fully push the efforts, special ads that show same-sex couples riding the train system have been released by Amtrak, as has a gay-friendly web-site encouraging individuals to head to popular vacation destinations. So far, two ads have been released — one showcasing two mothers and the other featuring two fathers (each featuring a child).

The purpose of the ads is to promote the company’s half-price campaign for kids between the ages of two and 15, The Huffington Post reports (this deal is free for all children, not only those of same-sex couples).

In a section of Amtrak’s “Ride With Pride” web site, a “diversity” tab brings readers to an explanation of the special campaign — and of the company’s views on inclusiveness. In summation: Amtrak wants to create a discrimination-free environment.

Below, watch a fascinating CNN debate about the appropriateness of a government-owned company taking such pointed action on a controversial social issue:

“At Amtrak, diversity is not just a corporate buzzword, it’s a priority. It‘s vital and it’s a commitment we make to our customers, our suppliers, our employees, and the communities we serve,” the diversity statement reads, in part. “We understand that valuing diversity is not only a good thing to do, but a business necessity beyond compliance that plays a vital role in customer service delivery and ultimately the success of our operations.”

Naturally, because Amtrak is a publicly-funded company (in fact, it’s fully owned by the U.S. government), it’s likely that these ads — and the overarching campaign — will create some controversy.

Also, it should be noted that, at the top left of the site, a news feed featuring Huffington Post articles is featured, causing one to wonder why this was chosen as the most viable news choice on the government-owned site.


The Inequality Fetish

There is little evidence that unequal income causes economic ills

There must be something in the water in Scandinavia: Nobel laureates, from our president to Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, all agree that high levels of inequality are a serious problem, if not the problem, facing our weak economy.

According to this liberal thesis, either the 2008 financial crisis and its attendant recession, or the sluggish recovery — and maybe both — can be attributed in large part to the high level of economic inequality in the United States. Further, in this view, inequality is an economic malady on its own, even in times of prosperity. Liberal commentators, of course, assert this as if it were a truism, but worse, economists of real distinction trumpet it like scientific fact.

Joseph Stiglitz, who claims that “there is broad consensus that one of the reasons for the weakness in the economy is the huge level of inequality,” further contends that the plight of the 99 percent is of such dire economic consequence that the 1 percent can’t afford to ignore the chasm. Sounding even more empirically minded, President Obama asserts that “research has shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.”

But if there is a broad consensus in economics and social science on anything, it is certainly not this. For those who claim otherwise, ideology has taken the place of empiricism.

There are two elements of the ubiquitous thesis: Increased inequality generally slows economic growth, and it contributes to financial crises such as our current one. But there’s never been much good evidence to support either assertion. The best evidence for a causal link between inequality and economic growth, alluded to in the president’s cryptic claim above, is an IMF paper that suggests economic booms last longer and are steadier in countries with less income inequality. But this link relies on countries such as Cameroon and Colombia (two of the cases examined) — dysfunctional nations with extreme inequality that often leads to pervasive rent-seeking or political instability, causing uneven economic growth. For the question of inequality in the U.S., the most relevant study on the topic, which considers industrialized nations over the course of the 20th century, finds no meaningful link between inequality and income growth.

There is also almost no evidence that economic inequality causes financial crises. As a recent paper by Michael Bordo and Christopher Meissner argues, there is no “general relationship” between inequality and credit booms and crises — it isn’t hard to find a correlation between the two, but these two dynamics are also correlated with a huge number of other economic factors. Mark Thoma, a liberal professor of economics at the University of Oregon, has admitted, “I am not saying that the evidence stacks up against the idea that inequality contributed to the recession, it could very well be true . . . [but] the evidence I’m aware of doesn’t tell us much one way or the other.”

Scott Winship, of the Brookings Institute, explains that he finds it “amazing how willing some of the biggest names in economics are to assert that the growth in inequality has had deleterious consequences,” when “there’s little good evidence it has had important effects on opportunity, growth, stability, or politics.”


Only Israel can do wrong in the Middle East?

Imagine your local council directing bulldozers to demolish your home. You’d have something to say about that.

I expect you’d have even more to say if bumptious officials said it was because your house was built on council land and they wanted the land back.

We expect the state to uphold the lawful rights of property owners. That’s why the forcible demolition by the state of inhabited private dwellings is always an affront.

For some years, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has been demolishing Palestinian homes in the disputed, or occupied, territories. The IDF says the demolition targets are families of terror suspects.

Commentators such as the jurist Alan Dershowitz defend the IDF’s practice of what he calls ‘calibrated and collective punishment.’ Many other commentators around the world condemn the practice vigorously. Debate about the legitimacy of such collective punishment continues.

But the recent decision by Hamas, which rules Gaza with apparent indifference to the well-being of its citizenry, to demolish Palestinian homes in Gaza has been met with a deafening silence.

Middle East media analyst Tom Gross reports that 120 families are to lose their homes in the latest round of demolitions.

According to Gross, this is ‘a far greater number than the number of illegally built Palestinian homes Israel has demolished in recent years – and unlike Israeli authorities, Hamas doesn’t even claim these homes were built illegally or with dangerous structures.’

Hamas simply wants the land on which the homes stand. And most news agencies and commentators have turned a blind eye.

The story was picked up by The Australian’s Middle East correspondence, John Lyons, who asked the United Nations whether it condemned house demolitions by Hamas the way it did demolitions by Israel.

Richard Miron, from the UN Special Coordinator’s Office, said the United Nations would not be making a condemnation. ‘We appear to be dealing with a civil dispute about land,’ Miron said.

The IDF policy of demolishing homes has been extremely controversial. Critics have accused Israel of gross violations of international law.

Many of those same critics are now silent in the face of the Hamas demolitions. If they say anything at all, it is only to make the specious claim that the land grab is nothing more than a domestic legal dispute.

Self-styled beacons of moral authority such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Desmond Tutu claim to be serious about upholding human rights. Yet their lamps burn dimly when it comes to the activities of Hamas.

Meanwhile, 120 Palestinian families in Gaza are waiting for somebody to speak out and condemn Hamas for its cruel and greedy land grabs.



The Pope Strikes a Blow for San Francisco

 Terry Jeffrey

To find the heart of San Francisco, you need to head south of Market Street, not to the Castro District teeming with people who very publicly define themselves by the perverse acts in which they engage, but to the Mission District.

Here is where the most beautiful of American cities was founded -- not by 49ers, beatniks, hippies or homosexuals, but by devout and dedicated Spanish Franciscans who crossed half the world to bring their faith to a new land.

Mission Dolores is not just the heart of San Francisco, she symbolizes its soul. The Franciscans founded the mission on June 29, 1776, just as American patriots on the other side of the continent were preparing to declare their independence from England with a document that said all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Unlike some of the European settlers on the Eastern side of the continent, the priests who founded San Francisco did not bring slaves or try to rationalize human bondage. What they did bring was the best of European civilization -- teaching the indigenous people how to farm and raise livestock and what the priests deeply believed was the one true faith.

Even though these priests named their mission for St. Francis, the church building itself popularly took on the name of Our Lady of Sorrows, which the missionaries had bestowed on a nearby stream.

These pioneers completed the permanent structure of Dolores in 1791. For more than 220 years, what they built has stood strong and intact, the oldest surviving structure in a city where earthquakes and fires and changing fashions have been the ruin of virtually every other venerable thing capable of destruction by man or nature.

Though Mission Dolores itself will surely someday crumble, the truth it represents has not, will not and cannot die.

To those who did not know 20th century San Francisco, the city must have seemed a place in constant cultural flux, where in each passing generation the latest fad in lifestyles briefly took hold and was then swept away.

But under the flotsam and jetsam of the pop cultural trends that moved in and out of the city on decadal tides, the deeper culture of San Francisco remained a solid rock. Like most other American cities of the past century, it was mostly populated by working- and middle-class people dedicated to raising their children to believe in the things that made America great -- hard work, traditional morality, faith in God.

But that underlying bedrock began eroding in the late 1970s, when the homosexual movement arrived in the city.

The truth: Traditional family life cannot survive in a culture seeking to force normalization and moral approbation of homosexual behavior.

The reason: Homosexual behavior is wrong. It violates the natural law. To say two men or two women can marry one another is like saying two plus two is five: It is not the way God made things. To tell people, including children, that they must assent to the government claiming that two men or two women can marry one another is like telling them they must assent to the government telling them two plus two is five.

When a society insists that everyone must assent to the proposition that homosexual behavior is right and good and that everyone must recognize same-sex marriages are right and good, and everyone must assent to the right of same-sex couples to take custody of children who they could never, by nature, conceive, that society has declared war on the natural moral law that the Founding Fathers of this country and the founding fathers of San Francisco correctly understood to be the foundation of true human freedom.

This is not to say homosexuals should not be treated with charity. But their freedom, too, depends on society's fidelity to the truth.

Mission Dolores still stands today, but the church that built her stands forever.

And last week, Pope Benedict XVI sent a new pioneer to that frontier to stand in her defense.

His name is Salvatore J. Cordileone. He is a native Californian and a doctor of canon law, who now serves as bishop of Oakland and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on the Defense and Promotion of Marriage. On Oct. 4, he will become the new archbishop of San Francisco.

Cordileone's record shows him to be man of compassion, conviction and courage.

"In places where marriage's core meaning has been altered through legal action, officials are beginning to target for punishment those believers and churches that refuse to adapt," he said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last November. "Any nonconforming conduct and even expressions of disagreement, based simply on support for marriage as understood since time immemorial, are wrongly being treated as if they harmed society, and somehow constituted a form of evil equal to racism."

Involvement in the marriage issue, he said in a speech in May, led him to see "the erosion of the rights of religious institutions to serve the broader community in accord with their moral principles precisely because of this issue, as well the rights of individuals to have their freedom of conscience respected.

"When I saw what was happening and my eyes were opened," he said, "it made me fear that we could be starting to move in the direction of license and despotism."

The pope has struck a blow for freedom by sending this man to San Francisco.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   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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