Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'I couldn't think of anything worse than being brought up by two dads'

Homosexual actor Rupert Everett's stinging attack on homosexual parents sparks outrage

He was seen as a champion for gay actors when he decided to come out of the closet two decades ago.  Now Rupert Everett finds himself in a somewhat less enviable position.

The 53-year-old actor has been rounded on by gay rights groups after saying: ‘I can’t think of anything worse that being brought up by two gay dads.’

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said: ‘Rupert should get out  a little bit more to see the facts  for himself.  ‘There is absolutely no evidence that the kids of gay parents suffer in the way they are being brought up or in how they develop.’

In a provocative interview, Everett – who played a gay father opposite Madonna in 2000 comedy  The Next Best Thing – said his mother Sara, 77, wishes he had a wife and children.  ‘She has met my boyfriend, but I’d imagine she still wishes I had a wife and kids,’ he said.  ‘She thinks children need a father and a mother and I agree with her.  ‘Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion.

The only community I belong to is humanity and we’ve got too many children on the planet, so it’s good not to have more.’

In the same interview, Mrs Everett said she wished her son – who came out in 1989 – was not homosexual.  In the past I have said that I wish Rupert was straight and I probably still feel that,’ she said. ‘I’d like him to have children. He’s so good with children.  ‘He’d make a wonderful father. But I also think a child needs a mummy and a daddy.  ‘I’ve told him that and he takes it very well.’

She added: ‘From what I’m told, Rupert can be a little outspoken, but I don’t think he tries to upset anyone on purpose. He just says what’s on his mind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.’


Shouting “liar, liar, pants on fire!” is not serious politics

The rise of a tyranny of fact-checkers in the US election, who constantly call out politicians on their ‘lies’, is a very unhealthy development

The election season in America has brought about two new and related developments: constant accusations of ‘lies’ and the rise of ‘fact checkers’ as the arbiters of political debate.

For the past two months or more, both the Obama and Romney camps have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations of lying. At the outset, both sides claimed the election posed a clear ideological choice. But instead of a debate over ideas, all we’ve heard is talk of lies, lies and more lies. Romney says the Obama team’s advertisements about his activities at Bain Capital aren’t true; Obama says the Republicans have taken his comment telling entrepreneurs ‘you didn’t build that’ out of its context. Then when Romney selected the strident Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate a few weeks ago, we were told the campaign would get away from petty arguments and now become focused on ideology, on small versus big government. But no, the mind-numbing cries of ‘you lied!’ have rolled on.

Combatants in this battle of lies express shock and outrage when they hear something they deem false. They make it seem as if this election campaign is a radical break from the past in its reliance on lies. Of the two sides, it is clear that the Democrats are most vocal in their denunciations of what they regard as new lows in political discourse. Some liberals have taken to calling the Republican approach ‘post-truth’ politics.

But there is nothing new about dishonesty in politics: it’s been going on for thousands of years (just check out Quintus Tullisu Cicero’s advice to his brother Marcus in the newly re-published How to Win an Election). And this year’s round of supposed lies (like prior years’) are rarely outright lies; there are many variations of evasion and economies with the truth. It is not a ‘lie’ to have a different political interpretation of facts. Screaming ‘liar!’ is just a way of saying ‘I don’t have to argue you with you, because you’re just a liar’.

This is where the fact-checkers come in. When accusations of lying emerge, the media turn to these fact-checkers to pass final judgement on the dispute. Almost out of nowhere, organisations such as PolitiFact and Factcheck.org have risen to new heights. The major newspapers have also given new prominence to their fact-checkers, such as Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post and Michael Cooper at the New York Times. Fact-checkers used to be obscure librarian types toiling away in backrooms, sharing space with the proofreaders, some of them aspiring to be journalists some day. But now they gather more attention than the journalists themselves. Today you have bizarre cases of journalists becoming fact-checkers – for example, Kessler at the Washington Post – because they know they will have more clout in that role.

In its new role, fact-checking has become a pseudoscience. PolitiFact’s worst rating is ‘pants on fire!’, a childish phrase we now hear all the time. Kessler’s most damning is ‘Four Pinocchios’, which he wields in all seriousness, as in: ‘This highly inaccurate Four Pinocchios claim is at the centre of what the Romney campaign considers its most effective ad.’ Knowing the distinction between a Three Pinocchio and a Four Pinocchio is a skill that only Kessler possesses.

Fact-checkers really reached the big time during the Republican national convention, following Paul Ryan’s speech. Democrats said Ryan’s speech was full of lies, and the fact-checkers went into overdrive. For the most part, the fact-checkers agreed with the Democrats – Ryan told lots of fibs, they concluded. But the fact-checkers’ response to Ryan’s speech shows how they overreach.

The most contentious issue was Ryan’s reference to the closing of a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan said that Obama, on his campaign trail in 2008, had promised the workers at that plant that he would save their jobs but then the plant was closed under his watch. Fact-checkers called this false, because the announcement that the plant would be idled occurred in late 2008, before Obama had entered the White House. But Ryan was accurate in that the plant was still producing trucks in 2009, and there were still attempts occurring during 2009 to try to have it re-open. Ryan was not 100 per cent forthright, but you can see that it is not a black-and-white issue. Furthermore, Ryan was not saying it was Obama’s decision to close the plant (although some may have mistakenly reached that conclusion from his speech); he was pointing out that Obama made unrealistic promises that he did not deliver on.

Another controversial Ryan reference was his point that Obama did not accept the findings of Simpson-Bowles, the independent commission the president set up to review America’s long-term debt problem. The fact-checkers said no, this was false. Why? Because Ryan had failed to mention that he was on that commission, and he himself voted against its final report. But calling that a lie is a distortion in itself; Ryan may have been silent about his role, but it remains a fact that Obama has not accepted Simpson-Bowles.

All of these points in Ryan’s speech are open for debate; that’s why we have debates. But the turn to the fact-checkers is made precisely to shut down debate. Moreover, the fact-checkers are providing their own interpretation of the facts – in other words, they are expressing an opinion, dressed up as pure fact. The fact-checkers’ opinions are supposedly given special status, because of they come from non-partisan, above-the-fray sources, but they typically end up supporting one side or another. (And not always in favour of the Democrats - see how the liberal Daily Kos website complains about AP’s supposed Republican bias. Live by the fact-checker, die by the fact-checker!)

Underlying all of this talk of lies and the turn to fact-checkers is a low opinion of the voters, especially working-class voters, who are apparently at risk of being duped into supporting one party because they are not smart enough to detect a lie. As it happens, we are all capable of sifting through political arguments and determining what is true and compelling. We shouldn’t let constant accusations of lies distract us from demanding answers to the real concerns of today, nor should we outsource judgements to fact-checkers who pose as the supreme arbiters of all political arguments. That’s our job.


The Democrat’s War of Women against Women

“I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.” The words came from Democrat and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The words are part of a great lie being spun out in this election season: Democrats are pro-woman. Indeed, the lie has become a main theme of the Democratic assault on Republicans, who are cast as anti-woman. Is it accurate to say that Democrats are advocates for women? (In fairness, we should note that Republicans are far from laudable on women’s rights, but they do not claim to be the “woman’s Party.”)

Democrat’s claims to be pro-woman

Reproductive choice is the most prominent area in which Democrats make this claim. Certainly the Democratic National Convention (DNC) placed tax-funded abortion and birth control front and center by virtue of its choice of speakers. The list included Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood; Nancy Keenan, head of the National Abortion Rights Action League; and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University contraception activist who rose to fame by being attacked by conservative notables.

A common factor among the speakers was the demand, not merely for reproductive choice, but also for tax-funded choice. In other words, they want to force people to pay for strangers’ reproductive care even if those people have deep moral or religious objections to the type of care.

According to a May 2012 Gallup poll, 44 percent of women are pro-choice, and 46 percent are pro-life. This means the Democrats are forcing approximately 50 percent of women to pay for medical procedures that may be deeply repugnant to them. It is more accurate, therefore, to label Democrats as 50 percent pro-woman and 50 percent anti-woman; they are pro-choice depending on whether the woman agrees with their choice.

And yet the Democratic Party’s platform reads, “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.” How is coercing a woman into paying for policies that violate her religion anything other than government getting in between her and “her clergy”?

The demand for tax-funded abortion is so strong, however, that even women within the Democratic Party who disagree become non-persons. An aggregation of Gallup polls from 2008 through 2011 indicates that 30 percent of Democratic women are pro-life. How are they treated? Eva Ritchey, president of the North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats, explains,
I think politically as far as a pro-life Democrat goes on the part of my party, I’d say the war’s on us. I think it’s pretty inaccurate to say we’re a big tent party. I’ve thought about this a lot and we’re really more of a big bus party — and pro-life Democrats are sitting in the back.

It seems that even Democratic women do not quite exist if they hold the “wrong” opinions. (Ironically, at the same time, the larger North Carolina Democratic Party rails against the GOP for trying to “turn back the clock” on women.)

The Democratic Party is using tax-funded abortion and birth control as a filter through which it determines who should be considered a “woman” in a politically meaningful sense. Conservative Meghan Clyne comments in the Weekly Standard (Sept. 10),
By the Democrats’ logic, to oppose abortion on demand and taxpayer-funded contraception is to be ‘anti-woman.’ Womanhood is thus defined by the desire for unrestricted abortion and free birth control; women themselves are reducible to ovaries.

As a result, Democrats champion only liberal women and either demean or ignore the existence of conservative ones — except, of course, to tax them.

And to regulate them. The imposition of radical feminism became more pointed with the implementation of Obamacare’s birth-control mandate, which came into effect on August 1. The mandate forces business owners (including women) with more than 50 employees to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-related drugs, and sterilization. The mandate helped cement votes from President Obama’s feminist base — at the expense of every businesswoman who objected on moral or financial grounds.

In case reproductive rights appear to be the only area in which Democratic policies aid some women at the expense of others, consider just one other and unrelated policy. On January 29, 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first bill signed into law by President Obama. The act made it easier for women to sue their employers on the grounds of salary discrimination by effectively removing the statute of limitations for such suits.

Every dollar an employer spends on litigation is a dollar removed from production and profitability. In a Heritage Foundation report entitled “The Ledbetter Act: Sacrificing Justice for ‘Fair’ Pay” (Jan. 7, 2009), Andrew Grossman explains how the act could harm some women, rather than protect them, by pushing down their wages and employment. Businesses may shift their practices to avoid lawsuits. Grossman observes that the act “could actually put women, minorities, and workers who are vocal about their rights at a disadvantage if employers attempt to reduce legal risk by hiring fewer individuals likely to file suit against them or terminating those already in their employ.”

Although the act is likely to depress employment opportunities for women, it will not do so for all women across the board. Clyne explains another probable result of the act. It
curtails women’s options: Many women, after all, have their own reasons for taking jobs at lower pay. They might want to price themselves competitively when trying to reenter the job market after raising children; they might take a lower salary in exchange for more flexible hours or working conditions. Lilly Ledbetter restricts their ability to do so.

In short, women who want a job but intend to focus on family will be harmed by the Ledbetter Act; such women tend to be working class. On the other hand, those women who have a career, such as business executives and lawyers, are more likely to benefit (or at least avoid harm), because they are less likely to trade off money for flexibility of time; such women tend to be better educated and upwardly mobile.


The Democratic Party is not pro-woman. It advocates for some women while ignoring the 30 percent of Democratic women and the 46 percent of all American ones who are pro-life. The Democratic Party does so in order to champion a specific type of woman who embodies its vision of a liberal society. (Republicans do the same with their vision of a conservative society.)

The Democrat’s advocacy is rife with contradictions. For example, they decry any restriction on reproductive choice, while, at the same time, they restrict the choice of women who object to participating in abortion.

In the workplace, they penalize female business owners in order to give female employees mandatory insurance coverage for reproductive care. Working-class women are hindered by employment policies that benefit professional ones. Abortion and the workplace are merely two examples of how Democrats take liberty away from some women in order to privilege others.

Democrats have created internal warfare within womanhood itself. In implementing radical feminism, they have forged a war of women against women, in which the interests of some are in direct conflict with the interests of others.

What the DNC needed was a Sojourner Truth moment. Sojourner was an emancipated slave who became a powerful speaker against slavery and for women’s rights. Her most famous speech is “Ain’t I a Woman?” delivered at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In it, Sojourner reiterated and defeated the demeaning statements from some men at the convention. For example, she cried out, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain’t I a woman?”

The DNC stage sorely lacked a representative of the women who are being dismissed, demeaned, and harmed by Democratic policies and attitudes. That representative needed to cry out, “Ain’t I a woman?” And the DNC needed to provide an honest answer.


Racial Preferences in ObamaCare

Though there seem to be no other news organizations covering the topic, it is nonetheless true that ObamaCare includes racial preferences, called "priorities" in the law.  When the first version of ObamaCare appeared in a bill, I wrote about the racial preferences in it here for American Thinker on July 21, 2009.  Now that we have a final version of the law, it is reasonably safe to elaborate how those preferences have evolved.

(All 906 pages of ObamaCare, officially known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148, 111th Congress, can be read here.)

Under ObamaCare, if a medical or dental school wants to increase its chances of receiving many different kinds of grants and contracts from the federal government, it should "have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities."  This is because ObamaCare requires the secretary of health and human services to give priority to the entities that have demonstrated such a record in the awarding of these grants and contracts to medical and dental schools and other entities.

ObamaCare does not state what would qualify as a "record" of such training, so we can expect medical and dental schools and the other entities to do whatever they think they can get away with to train as many "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities" as necessary to have a better "record" in this regard than their competitors.  ObamaCare creates a significant financial incentive for medical and dental schools and other entities to lower admission standards for "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities" if that is what it takes to have the winning "record" of such training.

In Section 5301, ObamaCare states that the HHS secretary:
    ... may make grants to, or enter into contracts with, ... [a] school of medicine or osteopathic medicine ... which the Secretary has determined is capable of carrying out such grant or contract --

    (A) to plan, develop, operate, or participate in an accredited professional training program, including an accredited residency or internship program in the field of family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics for medical students, interns, residents, or practicing physicians as defined by the Secretary[.]

ObamaCare then states that the "[s]ecretary may make grants to or enter into contracts with accredited schools of medicine or osteopathic medicine to establish, maintain, or improve ... programs that improve clinical teaching and research in" the fields defined  above, or "programs that integrate academic administrative units in" the fields defined above "to enhance interdisciplinary recruitment, training, and faculty development."

In a subsection entitled "Priorities in Making Awards," ObamaCare states: "In awarding grants or contracts under" the paragraphs quoted above, "the Secretary shall give priority to qualified applicants that ... have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups[.]"

ObamaCare's race-based "priorities" extend to dental education as well.  Section 5303 of ObamaCare states that the "[s]ecretary may make grants to, or enter into contracts with, a school of dentistry, public or nonprofit private hospital, or a public or private nonprofit entity" for the following purposes:
    (A) to plan, develop, and operate, or participate in, an approved professional training program in the field of general dentistry, pediatric dentistry, or public health dentistry for dental students, residents, practicing dentists, dental hygienists, or other approved primary care dental trainees, that emphasizes training for general, pediatric, or public health dentistry;

    (B) to provide financial assistance to dental students, residents, practicing dentists, and dental hygiene students who are in need thereof, who are participants in any such program, and who plan to work in the practice of general, pediatric, public heath dentistry, or dental hygiene;

    (C) to plan, develop, and operate a program for the training of oral health care providers who plan to teach in general, pediatric, public health dentistry, or dental hygiene;

    (D) to provide financial assistance in the form of traineeships and fellowships to dentists who plan to teach or are teaching in general, pediatric, or public health dentistry; ...

    (F) to meet the costs of projects to establish, maintain, or improve predoctoral and postdoctoral training in primary care programs[.]

In a subsection entitled "Priorities in Making Awards" ObamaCare states: "With respect to training provided for under this section, the Secretary shall give priority in awarding grants or contracts to the following ... [q]ualified applicants that have a record of training individuals who are ... from underrepresented minorities."

Apart from the legality of such "priorities" under the U.S. Constitution and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the unfairness to those who are not "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities," ObamaCare will foster the racial preference or "priority" climate that continues to stigmatize and demean those individuals who receive the preferences or "priorities."  For example, if you know nothing else about two university students, except that one was probably admitted under a program where intellectual standards were reduced and the student received a preference for being the child of an alumnus, and the other was admitted under more rigorous intellectual standards without receiving any non-merit-based preference, what are you going to think about these two students?  Is the answer any different when the preference is based on race rather than an alumni relationship?

A non-merit-based preference program based on an individual's physical appearance or surname is no less a "badge of inferiority" than the one condemned in Brown v. Board of Education.  Thanks to ObamaCare's racial preference or "priority" program, which provides a financial incentive for medical and dental schools to lower admission standards for "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities," those individuals at these medical and dental schools and other entities, including those who deserved admission without the racial preference or "priority," will wear that badge.



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


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