Thursday, January 31, 2013

Political correctness hasn't blinded the French public to Muslim realities

A survey in one of France’s largest newspapers has found that the country holds largely positive views of Jews and a generally negative opinion of Islam.

The study, published Jan. 24 in the left-leaning Le Monde, reported that a decisive majority of French citizens consider Judaism and Christianity “tolerant,” while an even larger number consider Islam “intolerant.”

According to the survey, carried out by the Ipsos polling institute, 72 percent of the French consider Catholicism either “completely” or “fairly” accepting of other groups, with 66 percent sharing similar attitudes toward Jews. Seventy-four percent see Islam as intolerant.

Published Jan. 24, the survey also found that eight out of 10 French people believe Islam is trying to impose its views on others, with 74 percent describing the religion as “incompatible” with French values.


Dawkins causes Twitter row with Islamic barbarian jibe

Not content with upsetting the Jewish religion, Professor Richard Dawkins, the celebrated atheist, has now annoyed some Muslims.

Speaking about the damage caused to the library in Timbuktu, in Mali, he described those who burnt it down as Islamic Barbarians.

His comments have been interpreted as being derogatory to Islam and insulting to followers of the religion by some on the social networking site Twitter.

The best selling author of The God Delusion and Oxford Professor, Tweeted that “Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu's priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians”.

His comments were met with a backlash with many people condemning him of unfairly attacking Islam and ignoring the many acts of vandalism carried out by Christians.

But he hit back saying: “Some people (perhaps 1st language not English) think I was calling ALL Muslims barbarians. No. I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians.”

The row is reminiscent of a storm he caused last year when he was accused of making a “profoundly anti-Semitic” remark by criticising the Old Testament.

Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, claimed that a remark in Prof Dawkins’s The God Delusion, likening God as portrayed in Jewish scriptures to a fictional villain, was based on centuries of prejudice.

He said that although Prof Dawkins does not believe in God, he was nevertheless a “Christian atheist” as opposed to a “Jewish atheist”.

Prof Dawkins, an Oxford evolutionary biologist, dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous” and said he was not “anti-Jewish” just “anti-God”.


We must shine a light into the dark corners of Britain's  secret state

The Coalition should ditch the Justice and Security Bill, which would cover up Britain’s complicity in torture

When I worked on the City pages of The Daily Telegraph a quarter of a century ago, we young reporters were advised by Christopher Fildes, the paper’s legendary financial columnist, to take note of three corporate sell signals.

The first concerned the chief executive. If he purchased a string of racehorses, it meant that he wasn’t concentrating on the job and had got ideas above his station. The second was the appearance of a fountain in the head office foyer, a sure indication of extravagance and frivolity. Finally, Mr Fildes urged us to view with distrust all companies that shifted to a lavish new headquarters. Too often for comfort, he asserted, such a move presaged disaster.

When I moved to cover politics, I soon realised that the same rule applied in the public sector. The textbook case concerns the Home Office, which notoriously descended into a dysfunctional shambles after it moved from its headquarters in Queen Anne’s Gate to gleaming new offices in Marsham Street eight years ago. Likewise, the government Whips Office lost all purpose after being shifted from its historic 12 Downing Street base.

Something went wrong with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) shortly after it moved into its hideous new HQ, whose rear end overlooks the Thames with the same elegance and charm as the stern of an expensive cruise liner. I am not talking about the operational errors, of which one of the most recent has been the failure to grasp, despite warning signals, the role played by al-Qaeda in the Syrian uprising until too late. Far more troubling have been the structural problems that emerged after the existence of SIS was formally acknowledged in 1994 – by curious coincidence the same year as the building in Vauxhall was opened.

The first of these has been the propinquity between the intelligence and political establishments, a normal state of affairs in authoritarian states but always very troubling in democracies. This became manifest after 1997 under New Labour, when for a time SIS and the Blairite machine in effect merged. New Labour spin doctors travelled to Vauxhall to brief intelligence chiefs on how to conduct their public relations. Meanwhile, SIS shockingly tolerated New Labour’s use of secret intelligence as political propaganda.

This process reached its apotheosis in the notorious Iraq dossier of September 2002. Ten years have passed since the start of that catastrophic conflict and still questions remain to be answered. The Chilcot Inquiry, which was supposed to answer them (then again, perhaps it wasn’t) appears to have sunk without trace.

The second problem involves British complicity in torture. Like the repudiation of traditional intelligence methods that led to the Iraq fiasco, this had its origins in the merger between the security elite and the political class after 1997.

Bear in mind that Margaret Thatcher, when prime minister, had refused to countenance the use of evidence gathered under torture. This doctrine was turned on its head by Tony Blair’s government. After 9/11, though under pressure from the United States, British intelligence officers (from both SIS and the domestic intelligence agency MI5) were still barred from carrying it out themselves. But a new convention permitted them to seek evidence gathered under torture.

In particular, Britain became heavily complicit in what is known as extraordinary rendition, or the kidnap and subsequent torture of individuals as a matter of state policy. It goes without saying that this activity is against the law, and wholly contrary to our international obligations as a signatory of the United Nations Convention against torture.

Reports of British involvement leaked out at an early stage, but for a very long time were denied by ministers. Foreign secretary Jack Straw exploded in indignation when Britain was accused in 2005 of being party to the CIA extraordinary rendition programme: “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also, let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there is simply no truth that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition, full stop.”

Mr Straw has since gone quiet in the face of a mass of overwhelming evidence. This silence brings me on to the Justice and Security Bill, whose committee stage will today be debated in the Commons. A superbly researched Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet titled Neither Just nor Secure, by Anthony Peto QC of Blackstone Chambers and the Conservative backbencher Andrew Tyrie, argues that the Bill may stop the truth ever emerging about British involvement in torture. It enables government secretly to present evidence in civil cases, without allowing the other party or his or her lawyers to see it. The other party can never even know, let alone challenge, the evidence presented against him. A judge will decide whether the evidence should be heard in open court.

Second, the Bill blocks the courts from using the information-gathering legal principle known as Norwich Pharmacal. “This would make it harder,” argue the authors, “to uncover official wrongdoing in matters such as extraordinary rendition.”

Third, the authors demonstrate that the mechanisms set up by John Major in the Intelligence Services Act of 1994 to make the security services accountable have failed. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is beyond incompetent. It is supposed to oversee the security services. In 2007, the hapless ISC found no evidence of complicity in any extraordinary rendition operations in a notorious report from which, it has now emerged, 42 vital documents had been withheld. The Gibson Inquiry into rendition, set up by David Cameron in 2010, was just as useless and has now been abandoned.

Successive ISC chairmen (the former foreign office minister Kim Howells has been the worst) have been bossed around by government, and shown a feeble-minded naivety. “In recent years,” the authors note, “a string of appointees have come out of Government to chair the Committee only to return to the front bench afterwards.” Nothing in the Justice and Security Bill remedies this toothlessness.

John le Carré once wrote that “the only real measure of a nation’s political health” is the state of its intelligence services. For much of the last century (as readers of Mr le Carré’s novels can surmise) they have manifested a distinctive British integrity, ruthlessness, tolerance, eccentricity, and breathtaking heroism when required.

But, if Mr le Carré is right, something must have gone wrong with 21st-century Britain. Few sensible people would deny that we need effective security services, nor that the great majority of people who work for them are highly capable and patriotic, condemned by the nature of their work to stay quiet about their achievements and the bravery of what they do.

But the best intelligence officers admit that British complicity in torture has amounted to a thoroughgoing betrayal of our values, acted as a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, and made intelligence gathering more difficult. Deepening the secret state is a step in the wrong direction. The objective of any decent government should be to expose as much of the truth as we can about British involvement in torture, not to hush it up. It’s time for the Coalition to ditch its shameful little Bill.


State funding for political parties leads to arrogance, corruption and authoritarianism

One of the saddest consequences of the Westminster expenses revelations is that sensible people are now wondering whether there might, after all, be something in the idea of state funding for political parties. Perhaps you are one of them. Perhaps you imagine that, for all its disadvantages, it would at least take some of the sleaze out of the system. Perhaps you have reluctantly concluded that it would be a lesser evil than making parties dependent on trade unions and wealthy donors. If your thoughts are trending that way, my friend, look at what is happening in Brussels.

Since 2003, the European Parliament has paid for pan-European political parties. There are currently 13, and each is funded in proportion to the number of MEPs who support it. The little ones might get a couple of hundred thousand euros a year. The behemoths – the Party of European Socialists and the European People's Party – qualify for several millions.

Europe's various fascist movements recently buried their mutual loathing for long enough to set up such a party, which means that they qualify for, by my reckoning, a little under €300,000 a year.

Most MEPs have reacted with drooling horror. But, under the current system, there is no question that the BNP, Jobbik and the rest are eligible for their share. The best legal brains in the European Parliament examined the matter, but could find no loophole. Shaven-headed losers who spend their time trolling blogs from their mothers' basements are as entitled to representation as anyone else, and their representatives can't be distinguished in law from other duly elected MEPs.

When the law doesn't serve their purpose, Euro-integrationists are quick to discard it. They are currently amending the rules so that a party can be deprived of funds if it fails to uphold 'European values'. Who will determine whether it meets the criteria? In the last analysis, a plenary vote of the European Parliament. In other words, the question of whether a party qualifies will be in the hands of its political opponents, who will have a direct financial interest in barring it since, if it is dissolved, its share of the funding will be divided among the other parties.

If that doesn't alarm you, it should. The de-registration of opposition movements is the favoured tactic of dictators the world over. Most autocracies now hold regular elections: Iran, China, Zimbabwe. But participation in those elections is restricted to approved parties. A Polish MEP, shocked by the current proposal, told me: 'This is exactly what the Communists did. They didn't ban elections. They just banned the people they didn't like from contesting the elections'.

Depriving a party of funds is not the same as preventing it from fielding candidates, of course. But the principle has now been established that some parties, in effect, get to sit in judgment on others. ‘Ah, but this is aimed only at the far Right,’ say supporters. This is not the moment to rehash my argument about how the parties in question might just as well be designated ‘far Left’: they subscribe to an ideology called ‘Third Positionism’, whose roots lie in Strasserism and National Bolshevism, describe themselves as ‘beyond Left and Right’, and want authoritarian governments, high tariff walls, regulated economies, confiscatory taxation and the repatriation of immigrants.

That, though, is a discussion for another day. I really shouldn't have to distance myself from the parties in question. It is surely enough to note that we are abandoning a law-based system for an arbitrary one. Who is to say which parties might are 'anti-European'? Today, it's the BNP. Tomorrow it might be UKIP. The day after, perhaps, the Conservatives.

Yet people are afraid to complain because they know that their objections, however phrased, will be caricatured as sympathy with the fascists. Here, for example, is Nick Lowles from Hope Not Hate commenting on UKIP’s principled opposition to the system: 'It's bad enough that almost £400,000 of taxpayers' money is going to line the election war chest of Nick Griffin and his extremist chums. But what really sticks in the throat is that Nigel Farage and his party are prepared to sit back and let this happen.' Here is the almost unbelievably small-minded Labour MEP Mary Honeyball: 'UKIP shows true colours by refusing to oppose EU funding for far-right parties.'

For the sake of full disclosure, let me declare an interest. I am involved with running the trans-national conservative alliance, the AECR. I like to think that we are doing useful work spreading free-market doctrines in Europe, and encouraging the rule of law in the former Soviet Union and the Arab Spring countries. But, obviously, I would much rather that there were no such things as state-funded parties. Conservative MEPs voted against their establishment, and would vote for their abolition. If there were way of returning our funds to the taxpayer, we would do it tomorrow, but there isn't: if we didn't exist, our share of the budget would simply be divided up among the other parties. That's how state funding works: everyone is, in effect, forced to take part.

As for the idea that subsidies are an antidote to corruption, look at the countries in Europe which rely on it most heavily: Greece, Italy, Belgium. I'm afraid that, human nature being what it is, once people know that there is a subsidy to be claimed, they start arranging their affairs around qualifying for it. And, of course, being able to compel donations by law, rather than having to solicit them politely, does nothing to make politicians more modest.

To present the choice as being between plutocratic donations and state funding is quite misleading. The Internet has made it possible for parties to raise large sums in small denominations. More than three million Americans contributed financially to the recent Obama election fund. The average donation was $85. British and European parties should try to do the same. And if they can't manage it, well, they'll just have to learn to get by with less.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

British government is forced into a "secret justice" U-turn after protests in House of Lords

Kenneth Clarke will today perform an embarrassing U-turn over his plans for secret courts.

The former Justice Secretary will announce that judges will be given full control over when to hold secret hearings – overturning the original legislation which would have allowed ministers to take these decisions.

He will also introduce changes to enable judges to revoke secret courts at any point in proceedings.

A source last night confirmed that the Cabinet minister will lay down amendments to the controversial Justice and Security Bill to ‘reflect concerns’ made when the legislation was discussed in the Lords in the autumn.

Despite Mr Clarke’s capitulation, critics including Tory MP David Davis are likely to argue that the proposals are still a threat to centuries-old liberties.

And yesterday it emerged that another MP is planning to lay down further amendments after calling the Bill ‘neither just nor secure’.

The Government argued that plans to allow some courts to sit in secret to hear evidence from spies were vital for national security.

It said the moves were essential to allow the state to defend itself in civil cases – notably against accusations of being complicit in torture – without having to disclose sensitive intelligence material to claimants.

But in November, the Lords inflicted a series of defeats as rebel Tories and Lib Dems joined Labour to oppose the changes.

Today Mr Clarke, who despite being no longer Justice Secretary  is still guiding the Bill through Parliament, will lay down a series of amendments giving in to the peers’ main concerns.

The main changes are that judges, not ministers, will have the right to decide what is heard in secret – even in cases of national security – and will be given the power to revoke ‘closed material proceedings’ at any point.  And plaintiffs in civil trials will be granted the right to request a secret hearing, not just the Government.

The proposals have come in for serious criticism from many Conservatives worried about the implications for civil liberties.

A report published on Monday by senior Tory MP Andrew Tyrie and leading QC Anthony Peto said the plans would undermine centuries of open justice.

They said that, unless the Government rewrites its proposals to hold court cases covering national security behind closed doors, it risks eroding Britain’s moral standing in the world.

‘The Government must make major changes to the Bill or risk prejudicing both Britain’s system of open justice and our moral standing in the world,’ it added.

MPs will scrutinise the legislation line by line this week and are expected to report to the Commons by mid-February. Mr Tyrie, who also chairs the Treasury Select Committee, is planning to table amendments of his own, including restricting the powers of judges to order secret hearings.

He also said the Bill should have a clause limiting the life of the legislation to five years and said parties excluded from the hearing should receive a summary of the national security-sensitive material.

He added that, when secret hearings are approved, judges should be able to use their discretion in balancing justice and national security to determine whether evidence should be disclosed.


"High speed rail" coming to Britain  -- very slowly

A sad comparison with the past

Should ministers have been expecting acclaim yester- day following the announcement of the high-speed rail link extension, they will have been sorely disappointed.  For instead of praise, they were greeted by a chorus of disapproval.

Some critics complained that the £33 billion HS2 project — which aims to carry fast trains between London, the Midlands and the North — is too costly for a time when the Treasury is mired in debt.

Others worried about the environmental damage and the blight on property values near the proposed route.

The Government’s claim that the line will re-balance the economy between the North and South has also been met with angry scepticism.  Indeed, some say that it could have precisely the opposite effect, enabling the capital to draw in more commuters from further afield.

But there is a fundamental problem with the planned North-South rail link: why on earth is it going to take so long to build?

According to the Government’s timetable, the first section, running from London to Birmingham, will not open for at least another 13 years.

And the second section — connecting the Midlands to Leeds and Manchester — will not be ready until 2033, two decades hence. Britain won two world wars in less time.

This lack of urgency dramatically contrasts with the dynamism shown by our Victorian forefathers, who first built the railways in the 19th century.

With a sense of boldness that is too often absent today, they constructed a vast network of lines, viaducts, bridges, embankments and stations that was the marvel of the world and helped to cement Britain’s position as the leading global economic powerhouse.

The creation of the Great Western Railway is a classic illustration of this innovative Victorian spirit.

The project was masterminded by the brilliant Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He was only 27 when he was appointed to the job of chief engineer for the railway, yet in just five years, beginning in 1835, he constructed a new line from London to Bristol — undaunted by any obstacle in his path.

At Maidenhead, his railway crossed over the Thames on a viaduct of brick arches whose vaults were so shallow that, according to his detractors, they were certain to collapse.  The bridge still stands as solidly as ever, easily bearing the weight of inter-city trains.

Similarly, at Box Hill in Somerset, he was confronted by the problem that his proposed route had to go through solid stone.

With typical enterprise, he used gunpowder to blast his way through part of the hill, then assembled an army of men equipped with picks and  shovels to excavate the rest of the tunnel.

Unlike today’s high-tech engineers, the men had to work by candlelight and relied on steam pumps to remove the water that sometimes threatened to engulf them.

It is said that a tonne of candles and a tonne of gun-powder were used every week in the construction of the Box Hill tunnel, the longest in the world when it opened in 1840.

For all Brunel’s astonishing gifts, which were also reflected in his construction of the pioneering Clifton suspension bridge over the river Avon, he was not a unique figure, but  part of a truly wonderful  19th-century culture of drive and innovation.

Compare the leisurely programme for the construction of HS2 with the zeal shown by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the chief engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works in London, at the height of the Victorian era.

Deeply concerned about the spread of cholera through the capital because of primitive, stinking drains, he embarked on the creation of a huge network of sewers.

In just six years, from 1859 to 1865, he built 450 miles of sewers under the capital (the proposed HS2 route covers just 350 miles). It was a tremendous feat that involved the use of 320 million bricks.

Bazalgette insisted on approving every design himself, even down to the diameter of individual pipes. It is a tribute to his diligence that the system still works so well.

The same flair and energy can be found in Thomas Telford, whose masterpiece was the magnificent suspension bridge over the Menai straits. Opened in 1826, the bridge linked Anglesey to North Wales for the first time.

It can be found in epic structures such as the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland, designed by Sir Benjamin Baker. With its unique design of huge cantilever arms supporting the span of the 1.6 mile-long railway, it was the first major structure in Britain to be built of steel. Yet it still took less than seven years to construct.


Antisemitism in Ireland

Sarah Honig, a recent Israeli visitor to Cahersiveen, a charming little town in County Kerry, wrote yesterday in the Jerusalem Post of being asked in its main street for a donation by three teenage boys carrying large signs saying "Free Palestine".  When asked from whom Palestine was to be freed, they replied "The Jews". "Are you sure", she asked, "that this money wouldn’t fund terrorists and murderers?" She was thrown by the response: "What do you have against Palestinians? What have they done to you? They are only against Jews. Jews are evil." One of them helpfully added that the Jews "crucified Our Lord".

Honig then met the teacher, who explained he had brought them out during school hours as part of a class project "to further a humanitarian goal" by inculcating a commitment to charitable work. He "nodded in agreement without a word of objection" when she told him of the children’s remarks about Jews.

Those of us who publicly address the one-sidedness of the Irish take on the Middle East are used to ill-informed and/or bigoted politicians and activists (particularly but not exclusively republican or of the Left), but the Catholic Church has been having a pernicious effect too, particularly through its official overseas development agency, Trocaire, an Irish word meaning compassion.

The charity was launched in 1973 by the Irish bishops laudably to "give whatever help lies within its resources to the areas of greatest need among the developing counties", while domestically making "us all more aware of the needs of these countries and of our duties towards them." Nowadays it is more fashionable and majors on gender equality, Aids, climate change and human rights, with particular emphasis on the rights of Palestinians.

Trocaire’s blatant bias on Israel was addressed in an article a week ago by Richard Humphreys, a Dublin Labour councillor and one of the few dissenting voices . He discussed its relevant on-line educational pack for secondary schools, which had a Palestinian flag on the front page and inside two harrowing stories of Israeli wrongdoing through Palestinian eyes. There was no mention of rocket attacks on Israel: the blocade of Gaza was designed "to punish Hamas". "The more I read of the Trocaire pack, the more it seemed to be a case of four legs good, two legs bad. Palestinian victims and Israeli oppressors."

When he made contact with Trocaire he was told they had withdrawn the resource for review and had decided not to revise it but instead to focus on the issue of boycotting produce from Israeli settlements. Because there is nothing on labels to distinguish settlement goods, this in effect means a boycott of all Israeli produce.

Why, asked Humphreys, should Israel be singled out? "Do Trocaire really believe that Israel is the worst human rights offender on the planet?" Did the country get no credit for its record on the rights of women and gays, on free speech and on religious freedom, which so contrast with the Palestinian regime. Now Christians are under attack in the Arab world, he suggested, "you would have thought that persecution of Christians would be a bigger issue for the Catholic bishops and their aid agency".

I don’t know if the Carersiveen school had made use of the Trocaire educational pack, but it’s a fair guess that they had. Certainly, its pupils’ campaigning zeal can only be heightened by the charity's call to lobby retailers to boycott Israeli goods. The Irish bishops, who are mostly punch-drunk since the child abuse scandal and few of whom seem brave, either approve of their charitable funds being spent on anti-Israeli propaganda rather than saving Christians from persecution, or are hiding under their collective duvet.

It’s no wonder that the Israeli Foreign Ministry sees Ireland as the most anti-Israeli and, indeed, anti-semitic, country in Europe.  The bishops should be ashamed that – in the name of compassion – they allow their charitable arm to disseminate hatred.


The 'Pansi-fication' of the Male Left

Leftist, liberal, and progressive men are ushering in the greatest pansi-fication and weakening of our nation in the modern era.

Awkwardly refusing leadership in times of real crisis, the men of the left, are allowing women and children to literally be the mouthpiece and driving force behind the cause. They do so dishonestly, disingenuously, and they do so without discernment.

In recent days the president hid behind the letters of four children that he claimed, "were really smart" to help shape his approach to reforms he claimed constitutional authority over, to implement in response to recent shootings. (Not ever having it cross his mind that perhaps the co-equal legislative branch of government was designed for such purposes.)

The letters asked him the penetrating policy questions like, "Will you please stop all gun violence?" Or, "Please get rid of guns, 'no guns, no guns, no guns, no guns.'"

Yet the executive order wand he waived will likely increase gun violence, at least on law abiding people.

Also this week Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta--no doubt acting on behalf of the President--decided unilaterally to push the women of America into front line combat roles in our nation's wars. Note that it is a man who unilaterally makes the decision, without input of military leaders, or the vote or voice of women in America at large.

I spent hours of broadcast time this week, on my daily radio show, (that reaches in excess of 300 cities) asking the women of America their thoughts on the decision. Of the hundreds of email, phone calls, tweets, and facebook messages returned I could not get one woman--not one--who would personally say she was willing to go. And in overwhelming ratios--last count close to 29 to 1 women believed it was not even proper for women to be put into combat scenarios. I might also add that amongst the responses included, were a large percentage of active duty women.

This week also noted the 40th commemoration of the historically laughable piece of adjudication known as Roe v. Wade. A case so thoroughly debunked on its grounds that law schools across America poke mockery at it's existence. Nonetheless the fraud of judicial activism that it is, continues to be celebrated as an important step for women... but mostly by men.

"Reverend" Harry Knox of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice, being foremost among them.

"Reverend" Knox claimed this week, "The right to abortion has given women enhanced spiritual development and more joy in life." He added, "That by supporting legal abortion, the RCRC is picking up the mantle God is calling us to carry."

That's right folks, the good "reverend" is saying abortion makes life peaches for the lady-folk, and that by advancing the killing of the pre-born he's doing God's work.

Evidently the "reverend's" perspective as a man, runs fairly counter to women in general. On Friday, with no prearrangement at all, I opened up my phone lines and allowed any woman the right to say anything they wished to the "reverend" directly. Over three hours, all but one woman had actually had an abortion. None who had, confirmed Knox's assertions. Only one supported Knox--but not in the literal meaning of what he said--but by claiming that he must have been taken out of context. (That woman later admitted that she supports abortion on demand, though she has never had one.) You can hear the stories of these women here: Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3. (They include women whose husband had forced them to get an abortion, and a woman who had been twice raped by her father at 13 and 14 and was forced to have consecutive abortions by the same father.)

It was a heart-breaking reality to see this man, "Reverend" Knox, lie about how women truly feel about abortion--especially given the reality that in 98% of all abortions women indicate that a man in their life is the primary reason they are choosing abortion as opposed to welcoming an innocent child into this world.

Also publicly defying Reverend Knox's absurd, distorted, deceptive, lies were the ladies of "Silent No More." These are post-abortive women who led the more than half-million throng in this week's March For Life. It is also important to note that the March For Life this year, at close to 600,000, out paced the 400,000 who turned out for President Obama's inauguration.

I am not sure why they are doing so, but it is clear that the men of the political, theological, and cultural left have become weak of mind, will, and temperament. Hiding behind the legitimate but uninformed voices of children to put anti-consitutional reforms into place on the issue of keeping our society safe, hiding behind political correctness that argues for sameness instead genuine equality to protect our nation from its worst enemies, and claiming God would be pleased, when women themselves know God's truth otherwise, in the killing of their own children--the men of the left resemble nothing like men at all.

Rather they most strongly resemble a strange effeminate characteristic. Weak when God made them strong. Dumb when God designed them to discern. And dishonest when our culture needs them to be truthful.

They are in short very little of anything God made them to be, and it is the women and children in our nation and in our future who will suffer most!



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

37 jailed killers walk out and flee: Alarm over security at Britain's open prisons as figures reveal 175 inmates absconded last year

Dozens of dangerous criminals including murderers, rapists and paedophiles are simply walking out of prison.

Last year 175 inmates left open prisons or disappeared while on day release, the equivalent of one every other day. The list of violent offenders who have absconded over the last three years includes 37 murderers and five rapists.

Among them is rapist Ivan Leach, a predatory paedophile and ruthless robber whose criminal record stretches back three decades. The tattooed thug is suspected of breaking into a woman’s home and raping her while on the run.

Others include a man who stabbed a teacher to death while high on lighter fuel and a teenager who killed a ‘Good Samaritan’ who tried to stop a robbery.

Last night the MP who uncovered the figures asked how criminals guilty of such serious offences could be allowed to roam free.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: ‘People will be astonished that it is possible for about 40 murderers and rapists to have absconded in three years.

‘The public expect to be protected from serious offenders, and the fact that so many can abscond is outrageous and unacceptable.

‘These are the most serious of offenders and, as far as I’m concerned, those guilty of murder should be behind bars for life, not put in a position where they can abscond at will.

‘People who have been convicted of rape simply should not be just walking the streets.’

He added: ‘What is frightening is that we don’t know how many of these committed offences while they were absconding. We don’t even know whether they are still at large.

‘It shows that far too many people are not being properly punished for their crimes. The public will be shocked and appalled.’

The vast majority of the convicts disappeared while in relatively relaxed institutions after serving a long period in prison.

Many of them were allowed to leave during the day to undertake work placements or work in charity shops in an attempt to prepare them for freedom.

According to the Ministry of Justice figures, 679 prisoners absconded between 2009/10 and 2011/12.  They included 149 robbers, four kidnappers, 15 guilty of grievous bodily harm, and three of attempted murder.

A further four were convicted of manslaughter, 22 of possession of firearms or knives, and two had threatened to kill. In Government terminology, ‘absconding’ is different from ‘escaping’ as it does not require climbing a wall or digging a tunnel.

Mr Davies mocked the distinction, adding: ‘It’s like Yes Minister. The public will be delighted to know that these people haven’t escaped – they’ve just absconded.’

The figures prompted claims that officials are failing to get the balance right between protecting the public and rehabilitating criminals.

David Green, of think tank Civitas, said: ‘These figures simply reaffirm that the Government does not attach the weight it should to the safety of the public. ‘These are people who are given day release in preparation for ultimate release, and then go missing; or people who are put into open prisons where they should not necessarily be.

‘It is concerning that murderers are contained in these groups.’

The figures show that the number of ‘absconders’ has fallen from 269 in 2009/10 to 175 last year.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: ‘The annual number of absconds has reduced significantly over the last several years with the number in 2011/12 being at the lowest levels since central records began.

‘Of those prisoners who do abscond, the majority are quickly recaptured, returned to closed conditions and referred to the police for prosecution.’

A spokesman for the Prison Service admitted that a small number of those who abscond are never returned to jail.


One in four violent criminals gets just a CAUTION as police wrongly let off sex offenders and burglars

One in four violent criminals is cheating justice by escaping with a caution, magistrates warned yesterday.  They are among tens of thousands of crooks, including sex offenders and burglars, wrongly let off with a 'slap on the wrist' by police.

New figures showed one in five sex offenders are also cautioned as well as an astonishing one in 20 of offenders with more than 10 previous convictions.

Experts fear officers are widely misusing cautions because they cut down on paperwork and improve crime detection figures.

The criminal justice sanction was originally aimed at first-time offenders caught committing relatively low level offences.

But there are concerns that police under pressure to deal with offences quickly are handing out cautions in the wrong circumstances.

The proportion of proven offences dealt with outside the court has more than doubled over the past decade, from 15 per cent to more than 30 per cent.

More than 112,000 cautions were given in 2011-12 for indictable offences, which are serious enough for trial in the crown court.

These included 14,137 cautions for violence against other people and 1,419 cautions for sexual offences.

John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, said: 'Cautions are being misused and there is no transparency.

'It is alarming that so many offences which impact so seriously on victims are being dealt with behind closed doors.'

'The line is quite clear. We are responsible for sentencing offenders, and the police are responsible for catching them. It seems to us the police are extending their powers.'

The latest figures show half of all cautions are given to offenders who have committed previous crimes.

Among them are six per cent of cautions handed out to career criminals who have committed at least 10 previous crimes.

Magistrates are concerned that cases dealt with by cautions and other out-of-court sanctions are not open to public scrutiny.

It is also impossible to make defendants pay compensation if the case is not brought before a magistrate.

It emerged last week that serial burglar Jason Dernbach, 24, from Woking, Surrey, was given a caution despite admitting 113 burglaries and car break-ins over a three-year crime spree.  He was already serving a four-and-a-half year sentence for six burglaries when he admitted the new offences to the police while behind bars.

Other high-profile cases include that of Carl Bielby, 25, a sex offender from Hull who targeted schoolchildren using Facebook.  He was given a warning when he was caught suggesting the use of sex toys to an 11-year-old. He went on to target other schoolchildren and was jailed last year.

In Birmingham, Junior Mohammed Oakes, 28, was cautioned for assault and possessing a knife.  He was convicted this month of murdering the mother of his three children in a 'savage and prolonged' knife attack.

In 2011, a joint report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was 'disquiet' over the use of out-of-court sanctions.

It revealed that in some police force areas, more than 40 per cent of all offences brought to justice were dealt with outside the courts.

It examined 190 cases dealt with outside the courts and found inappropriate decisions were made in a third of cases.

It said the most common problem was that cautions and other out-of-court sanctions were being used for prolific offenders.

Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall, who has national responsibility for cautions, said the use of cautions and similar sanctions has declined.  He said: 'The vast majority of those who receive a caution for a first-time minor offence do not go on to commit further offences.

'Officers need to ensure a caution is appropriate to the offence [and that] it is in the public interest.'

Theresa May, the home secretary, has said she wants the victims of crime to have more say in how perpetrators are punished when they are dealt with outside the courts.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'I am already looking into how police cautions are being used.

'We shouldn't remove the right for police officers to exercise discretion but the public are right to expect that people who commit serious crimes will be brought before a court where very tough sentences are available.'


Why feminism is a dirty word, by Bake Off star

It is unlikely she would ever be mistaken for a radical firebrand. And now Mary Berry has made her traditional views on gender equality absolutely clear, with the pronouncement: ‘Feminism is a dirty word.’

The star of The Great British Bake Off said she does not want women’s rights and is ‘thrilled to bits’ when men offer to look after her.

Although the 77-year-old has never made any secret of her traditionalist family values, her comments have been seized upon by some women, who accused her of being ‘ignorant’ about feminism’s achievements.

But Mrs Berry, who has published  70 cookbooks in a 46-year career and had three children, said: ‘I would always stand up for women but I don’t want women’s rights and all that sort of thing.

‘I love to have men around and I suppose if you’re a true feminist you get on and do it yourself. I love it when someone says, “I’ll get your coat” or, “I’ll look after you”, or offers you a seat on the bus. I’m thrilled to bits. I’m not a feminist.’

Mrs Berry, who was praised for her elegance last week when she wore a blue silk gown and pearls at the National Television Awards, has been married to retired bookseller Paul, 80, for 46 years. She has two surviving children – one son, William, died in 1989 – and four grandchildren.

Asked if she believed feminism means ‘shouting at men’, she said: ‘I don’t like that at all. I respect them, I don’t like shouting.’

She added: ‘Feminism is a dirty word. You’ve got to persuade them [men] gently to do things and, of course, when they come back they say, “Oh, wasn’t that fun?”’

Mrs Berry, who with her daughter Annabel Bosher, 40, runs Mary Berry And Daughter which sells a range of sauces and dressings, appeared to criticise female employees who take their full maternity leave entitlement, saying: ‘I had about five weeks off and now I think, gosh, they haven’t half cottoned on to it.

‘You have a year off, and you don’t have to tell them whether you’re coming back or not.  ‘It makes it terribly difficult for the small employer to employ young women, young married women or [women] with children.  'You’ve got three in the department and they all go to have children and you’ve got to leave the job open.’

Mrs Berry’s comments have been attacked by some women.  Writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who has described herself as a ‘leftie liberal, anti-racist, feminist’, said: ‘They show an ignorance of the power relationship between men and women.

‘They also show an ignorance of what feminism is.  ‘I am a feminist and I cook for my husband every night – and I make very good cakes.’


Why do you need pliers to open a toothbrush packet? Difficult packaging afflicts people of all ages

Terry Wogan only tells the half of it below.  I need a Stillson wrench to open some things!  -- JR

Standing in the bathroom with a new toothbrush still in its packet, I think: ‘Ah, I will restore my dentures to their pristine glory.’ But can I remove the toothbrush from its packaging? I cannot.

I bend it this way and that. I squeeze it and I pull it. I wrestle with it. I would need pliers to make any progress. The plastic packaging is moulded solid.

Indeed, it is almost soldered at the back. It has, in short, defeated me. I’m 74, and it is true that as you get older, your aged fingers begin to lose their strength.

But this problem with packaging is not confined to old geezers like me. It is universal — it afflicts people of all ages. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 85 per cent of consumers experience frustration with modern packaging.

Of the 500 people who took part, 425 said they found packaging difficult to ‘open, tear or rip easily’.

And I received a big round of applause earlier this month on the BBC series Room 101 when I nominated packaging to be consigned to oblivion.

Consider the tinned sardine or the pilchard, for example. You squeeze your finger into the ring-pull, dis-locate your digit, break your nail… then the damn ring-pull snaps off and you have to use a tin opener anyway — all for a sardine.

The humble tin of beans is exactly the same. Another ring-pull mechanism. It should be simple but it can take your finger off.

At home we have a little plastic yoke that you insert in tins with ring-pulls — but it doesn’t always work.

Then there are bottles. I can remember when it was easy to open a bottle of medicine or a jar containing tablets. Then someone invented the child-proof bottle. Child-proof? Adult-proof more like. They are the bane of modern life.

You read the label and follow the instructions to the letter. There is an arrow showing you the direction in which to twist. You press, you twist. It won’t come off. Press, twist. Nothing. You keep doing it. It doesn’t work. You are red in the face from trying — hot tears of frustration streaming down your blazing cheeks.

I tend to hand the thing to my wife, Lady Helen. She has stronger fingers than me.

And what about milk cartons? No matter what I do, for some reason I always end up with a bit of milk down my shirt front. In fact, Tetra Pak cartons in general are problematic. I gather they’ve made a fortune for the family that invented them. Think how much more money they could have made if they had ever found a way of getting the things to open properly.

Do you remember those little plastic triangles of milk they used to have on aeroplanes? I use Aer Lingus frequently and I could never get the triangles to open properly to put the milk in my tea. I’d struggle to tear off the cap and then cover a nun on the other side of the aisle with milk.

When I was a boy there was less fuss about packaging — probably because there was less packaging, and what there was mostly just good old-fashioned plain brown paper.

My late father had a shop and it seemed that everything then was more accessible and easy to get at. Life was less complicated. Bottles were used and returned. Four pounds of potatoes came in an open paper bag, not a sealed plastic one. They were happy days.

But recently I heard about plans to sell individually wrapped bananas. Has the world gone mad?

Bananas come in their own distinctive yellow packaging, thoughtfully provided by Mother Nature  herself. It is packaging, I might add, that I am actually capable of removing. Bananas don’t need to be shrink-wrapped, heat-sealed or otherwise interfered with. What next I ask you? Coconuts encased in  Perspex? Individual eggs in tins?

The temptation, of course, is to take a penknife to packaging. Or a machete even. But most packaging is so fiendishly contrived as to defeat even a blade. And you have to be very wary or you’ll take a finger off. In my declining years I keep away from the penknife.

Try breaking into a leg of lamb or a joint of beef. Pressurised jars of jam or preserves? Forget it. Confectionery? You would need the strength of an ox to open a packet of sweets. Nuts are no different. How many times have you scattered them near and far as you struggle to prise them open?

Personally, I am fond of a crisp but gaining entry to a pack of salt-and-vinegar requires the skill and dexterity of the master safe-cracker.

Many people over Christmas will have suffered from the ordeal of attempting to open presents. I say attempt because, like toothbrushes and razors, toys seem to come encased in plastic that has been moulded for eternity.

And as if the plastic isn’t enough, toys are often secured with twine of such tensile strength that you could make a zip-wire of it. The poor child has not a hope of getting access to the gift — leading to an infernal ballyhoo and tears before breakfast.

As for my toothbrush, I did get it open eventually. I had to use scissors, though. If they had failed I would have resorted to the garden shears.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Monday, January 28, 2013

Promiscuity OK in homosexual marriage, says BritGov

A touch of realism?  Homosexuals are notorious for promiscuity

Plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in Britain could pave the way for the concept of adultery to be abolished in law, experts have said.

Under the Government's draft Bill only infidelity between a man and a woman constitutes adultery.

So while the law would give same-sex couples the right to wed, they would not be able to divorce their partner on the basis of adultery if their spouse went on to be unfaithful - unless they cheated with somebody of the opposite sex.

It also states that a straight person who discovered their husband or wife had a lover of the same-sex could not accuse their unfaithful partner of adultery in a divorce court.

Lawyers and MPs have argued that the distinction over adultery - which arose after Government legal experts failed to agree on what constitutes sex between same-sex couples - would cause confusion.

They warned it would create inequality between heterosexual and homosexual married couples who found themselves in the divorce courts, and said it would likely result in adultery being abolished altogether as a grounds for divorce.

The lawyers who drafted the Government's Bill managed to swerve the contentious question of what constitutes sex between homosexual couples by adding a clause which states that only 'conduct' between a married person and a person of the opposite sex would constitute adultery.

Leading divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag told the Daily Telegraph the impact of the clause could lead to the concept of adultery to being scrapped from law altogether.

She said abolishing the act of adultery as a basis for divorce would be the only 'appropriate and balanced' way to deal with the distinction between same sex and straight couples arising from the new Bill.


Why can't we laugh at the old jokes any more?

A 'racist' joke in Fawlty Towers has been cut because it might offend. Well, it might - if you didn’t get the joke

John Cleese and cast in Fawlty Towers. Lines like the major’s might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk, and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t

Strange place, the past. It appears to have been full of people who had next to no understanding of 21st-century mores. For some reason, they all seem to have carried on as if it didn’t remotely matter how their 20th-century attitudes and language would be judged by us, their descendants and superiors, in 2013.

This week the BBC was confronted with this problem when airing a repeat of Fawlty Towers. The episode had a scene with the words “wogs” and “niggers” in it. The old major, played by Ballard Berkeley, is explaining the difference between the two. The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. Or it used to. This time, the BBC cut the line out.

The reason given was that it contained language that might offend. Well, I’m sure it might, if you didn’t get the joke. The joke's on the major. At first it looks as if he’s about to scold someone for being racist – but then he turns out to be racist himself. So we laugh at him. The joke’s actually quite PC.

But still it was cut, because these are words the BBC now feels uncomfortable airing, certainly at 7.30pm. It’s happened before. In 2007, a joke about gay men being sticklers for cleanliness was removed from a repeat of Porridge. It makes you wonder what’s next for the cutting-room floor.

Take Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In 1979, Life of Brian was thought shocking because it mocked man’s weakness for superstition and doctrine. Today, I suspect a broadcaster would be more shocked by the scene in which a male character is ridiculed for his desire to change sex. “I want to be a woman,” he says. “From now on, I want you to call me Loretta… It’s my right as a man… I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them… Don’t you oppress me…” Plainly, we’re meant to find him absurd, and to agree with the male colleague who grumbles about the man’s “struggle against reality”. (“What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?”)

Given the outrage this month when the columnist Suzanne Moore joked about transsexuals – and the even noisier outrage when another columnist, Julie Burchill, used the phrase “chicks with d----” – I doubt such a scene could be written today. Lynne Featherstone, a Lib Dem minister, demanded that Burchill and her editor be sacked. What would she do with John Cleese? Hang him by his tonsils from Tower Bridge?

Soon, we’ll start to find Nineties comedy failing the 21st-century rectitude test. For some, this process has already begun.
Last year, Word magazine ran an article claiming that the “Scorchio!” sketches in The Fast Show – first broadcast in 1994 – were xenophobic. “Humour born of bored English comedians sat in luxurious holiday villas,” it growled. “Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish people all sound the same! How hilarious.” Maybe if the BBC repeats The Fast Show it could edit those sketches out. I’m pretty sure the Ralph & Ted ones were OK. Hang on, though – the joke is that a man has an unspoken crush on another man. Is that homophobic? Oh dear. Future generations are going to be very cross with us.

Lines like the major’s in Fawlty Towers might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk (it’s how quite a few people still do talk), and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t. Because that’s what this type of editing is: a pretence.

George Orwell, incidentally, used to write disparagingly of “the pansy Left”. He was, by 2013 standards, homophobic. Should publishers erase his prejudice from his essays? Or would that be a little, well, Orwellian?


Diversity With Conceit

 Suzanne Fields
The diversity warriors, with no sense of humor and short on irony, keep looking for victims in all the old places. President Obama, advertising his inaugural address as a call to unity and a "coming together as one people," rounded up the usual suspects as if nothing in America had changed since Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall.

The suffragettes at Seneca Falls in 1848, the marchers at Selma in 1965 and the resisters at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 all led the way toward tolerance, but the president spoke of their sacrifice as if frozen in a time warp of old grievances and tribulation. Even elevating the barroom brawl at Stonewall to landmark status with voting rights for women and the civil rights revolution is a few inches over the top.

Obama's frantic search through his binders of women, looking for names to fill low-level positions for women to make it look "more like America," veers from the ridiculous to the theater of the absurd.

The search for such phony diversity is of a piece with the culture. Consider, for example, the HBO hit "Girls." Lena Denham, its creator, was scolded for not casting a black actor as one of the show's characters.

Since her characters -- college-educated, privileged young women with rich parents -- are drawn from the writer's own personal experiences, they're logically all white. But the chastened Denham responded with satire, intended or not: This season begins with Hannah, her leading character, taking a black boyfriend who is a conservative Republican. She criticizes him with cliches, assuming he prefers friends with guns. She says she never noticed he was black.

When the spoiled liberal white girl discovers how awful it is that two out of three men in prison are black, the Republican boyfriend thanks her for tutoring him in the difficulties faced by black men. She's not sure if he's being sarcastic.

Making fun of white liberal condescension is rare on screens small and large, and hasn't been done with flair since Tom Wolfe satirized the "radical chic" of composer Leonard Bernstein, who served Roquefort cheese balls wrapped in crushed nuts to the revolutionary Black Panthers, who ran through his luxury Manhattan penthouse in leather pants and tight black turtlenecks, titillating his guests like a "rogue hormone." Like the lumpen proletariat, "victims" must be brought together for "collective action."

The president who gave his inaugural address on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was in no mood for good humor or challenging cliches and bromides. Nor did the man who invented eloquence inspire with the soaring rhetoric of the prince of the civil rights movement. He echoed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and quoted a few lines from Abraham Lincoln, but he was determined to make the day more political than presidential, more prosaic than poetic, more pompous than patriotic and proud.

He suggested that our mothers and daughters are still unable to earn a living equal to the pay of men, even though statistics make clear that whatever gender gap remains, it's a gap created mostly by women making choices and trade-offs that are different from those of our fathers, husbands and sons. Historian Jay Winik observes that the president's speech was one that "could have been given 50 years ago."

The president continues to appeal to separation, to division, to littering the national landscape with regiments of straw men and women in the name of the politics of polarization. Intolerance and prejudice certainly remain in the culture, but no longer as a national attitude and not without corrective appeals to public exposure and legal remedies.

The visual trumped the verbal at this inauguration. If the speech failed to express unifying commonalities, the television camera surveying the crowd in Washington told the real story, of children raised to the shoulders of their parents, of beaming black, white and brown faces of young and old, of the gorgeous harmony of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir lifting the music of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the sky, and of the beautiful Beyonce belting out "The Star Spangled Banner" (even if she did lip-synch it).

A grace note was provided by Richard Blanco, the young Cuban poet, speaking of the "many prayers, but one light breathing color onto stained glass windows."

They made it a day to be proud of America. Only an authentic grudge could not see the idealism that brings us together beyond political partisanship. This was the real and natural diversity that animates Lincoln's "mystic chords of memory," reaching out to "the better angels of our nature." Not even a president stuck in a time warp could spoil that.


A Religious Taboo

Can we at least agree that reports of al-Qaeda’s death have been greatly exaggerated? You’ll recall that Peter Bergen, a director at the New America Foundation and the national-security analyst for CNN, began pronouncing AQ dead last summer. At the Aspen Institute, he even gave a speech titled “Time to Declare Victory: Al Qaeda Is Defeated.” He defended this thesis repeatedly, including in a debate with me on Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN.

President Obama has not gone quite that far. Prior to the election, in stump speeches round the country, he said al-Qaeda had been “decimated.” And even in his inaugural address this week he claimed that “a decade of war is now ending.” (He also spoke of “peace in our time” — a phrase made infamous by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Munich in 1938. Is it possible Obama did not know that? Worse, is it possible that he did?)

The evidence that AQ is alive and lethal is abundant. To cite just a few examples: the French ground war in Mali against AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and associated forces, the hostage-taking in Algeria by self-proclaimed jihadists closely linked to AQ, the surge of AQ-connected fighters in Syria, and, of course, the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi by AQ-affiliated groups.

I do not stress this to disparage anyone. Nor do I intend to pat on the back those of us who have maintained that AQ and other jihadist groups are neither dead nor dying but rather evolving in ways that merit both study and concern. Serious analysts sometimes arrive at wrong conclusions. But serious analysts acknowledge their errors, attempt to determine what data or misassumptions led them astray, and work to reshape their narrative in conformance with reality. Serious analysts are acutely aware that no strategic mistake is more dangerous than telling yourself you are winning when you are not.

Last weekend, I spoke with someone I’ll identify only as a senior American military official. It required no prompting from me for him to express his frustration over top officials in the Obama administration’s continuing to insist that the global conflict is “receding.” Challenging that notion is difficult because within the administration it is forbidden to speak or write openly about the ideology of those fighting us. To do so, the official said, would be “inflammatory,” requiring discussion of the role of fundamentalist Islamic theology. In a sense — the literal sense — what we have here is a religious taboo.

The irony is glaring: American officials can kill our enemies (mostly with drones). They just can’t analyze, criticize, or challenge the beliefs that motivate them. Fighting a kinetic war is permitted, but waging a cognitive war is prohibited. If we are to avoid defeat, we need to be fighting both.

Closely related to the “AQ is dead” thesis is the “Muslim Brotherhood is moderate” thesis. The most recent contradictory evidence: videos of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi three years ago, when he was a leader of the MB, urging parents to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them, for Zionists, for Jews. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshipping him.” In addition, he called Jews and Israelis “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Here in Israel, where I’m spending a few days reporting, few people were surprised by those remarks. And, to be fair, vicious and even genocidal Jew-hatred has echoed throughout the Middle East at least since World War II, when Arab lands were barraged by Nazi propaganda (as meticulously documented by historian Jeffrey Herf) — and within secular as much as Islamist regimes. That fact, however, can hardly be reassuring.

Among the reasons for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s (narrow) reelection victory this week: A majority of Israelis have come to the conclusion that at this moment no Palestinian who wields power is willing to negotiate with them, much less make peace with them. That situation will not change as long as so many Arabs and Muslims deny Israelis both their history (Israelis are, unquestionably, living in a part of their ancient homeland) and their humanity (which is what is intended when Morsi talks of “apes and pigs”).

Perhaps you’ll object that Morsi has not broken Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and that he helped broker a ceasefire in the most recent battle between Hamas and Israel. I would respond: Morsi is not stupid. He is not prepared to win a war against Israel today or tomorrow. He is desperately in need of financial aid from the U.S. He is putting his interests ahead of his values — for now.

At the same time, he’s working to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, the factions that rule Gaza and the West Bank respectively, and to create a united Palestinian government. Hamas, of course, is committed to the elimination of Israel — and to the elimination of as many Israelis as possible. Hamas is not planning to moderate that position. On the contrary, it expects Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to more openly support “resistance,” which means the use of terrorism and other violent means to weaken and eventually annihilate Israel. (Abbas recently told a Lebanese television station that before World War II, the Nazis and the Zionists collaborated.)

Can we at least agree that reports of the death of the peace process have not been exaggerated — and that Israelis’ constructing apartment buildings in and around Jerusalem, their capital, is not the reason why?



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Sunday, January 27, 2013

More antisemitism from the British Left

A Liberal Democrat MP faces expulsion from the party for saying ‘the Jews’ had not learned from the murder of six million in the Holocaust, in their treatment of the Palestinian people.

David Ward, MP for Bradford East, wrote on his own website that he was ‘saddened’ that they ‘could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians…on a daily basis.’

He defended his comments in interviews saying they were a ‘just a statement of fact and said ‘it appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.’

His remarks were made ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, although Mr Ward who said he had attended events to remember its victims and had visited Auschwitz twice.

He has been summoned to a meeting with party whips on Monday, but today insisted he did stood by the statement and its timing and claimed it was ‘regrettable’ he had been reprimanded.

Mr Ward wrote yesterday: ‘Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.’

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: ‘This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.’

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than one million people, mostly Jews, were killed – many shot, starved or victims of the gas chambers. Homosexuals, political dissidents and the handicapped were also victims.

The MP, who said he had attended a Holocaust memorial event in Bradford yesterday which was ‘extremely moving’ said he hoped the chief whip would respect his views.

In an interview yesterday he said: ‘What better day to raise the issue of learning from one of the worst examples of inhumanity.’ He told The Commentator website: ‘It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.’

On his website, Mr Ward said he had ‘signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day’ and describes Auschwitz as ‘the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history.’

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: ‘I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence - these comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics.’

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: ‘We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience.

‘For an MP to have made such comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is even more distasteful, and we welcome the fact that the Liberal Democrats have sought to disassociate the party from David Ward's comments.’

Tory MP Robert Halfon said his comments were ‘a tragic trivialisation of real evil.’ He said ‘It should be remembered that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely and yet has faced a barrage of 7000+ missiles from Hamas and been the victim of hundreds of terrorist suicide bombers and been attacked by all its neighbours in 1948, 1967 and 1973.’

Mr Ward has previously described Israel as an ‘apartheid regime.


British teachers may face dismissal under human rights laws if they refuse to promote gay marriage in schools

Teachers could lose their jobs if they express views that they oppose gay marriage, it has been revealed.  It is feared that they could be sacked for refusing to promote same sex weddings despite reassurances from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

A senior source in Mr Gove's department said that the ultimate decision over whether teachers could lose their jobs would be down to the European Court of Human Rights rather than the Government.

News of the Mr Gove's fears come as the Coalition prepares to publish a bill legalising same sex marriage today.

Opponents to the proposed law say that those who take a stand over the issue could face the sack under law.

In a report compiled by the Coalition for Marriage campaign group, human rights lawyer Aidan O'Neill QC said that schools may have the right to sack staff who refuse to promote gay marriage in class, according to the Daily Telegraph.

But legal advice given to Equalities Minister Maria Miller suggested that staff would not be forced to act against their beliefs.

A Department for Education spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: 'Schools will not acquire a power to dismiss teachers who refuse to teach views about gay marriage which are against their conscience.'

But a DfE source added: 'These (decisions) are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain and Britain isn't in control of this.'

Mr Gove is said to be fully in favour of the gay marriage bill but is also said to oppose teachers being forced to endorse it.

He is expected to tell schools and councils that the Government will oppose attempts to discipline teachers for their views.

David Cameron has fast tracked the bill which could allow gay marriage from as early as next year.

It would see exemptions for the Churches of England and Wales, and other faiths, to opt out if passed.

Ministers have insisted they will ensure no discrimination claims can be brought against faith groups which choose to opt out. It is understood the 2010 Equality Act will be amended to do this.

The Church of England will get a ‘quadruple lock’ of measures to prevent legal challenges, under which it will be illegal to allow same-sex weddings on CofE property.


The Blood-Smeared Glass Ceiling - Women in Combat

For cowardice beyond the call of duty, Leon Panetta has shamed himself and his country.  In one of his last acts as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta today will revoke the last of the policies that prevent women from serving in combat arms.

Make no mistake about it: this action isn’t about civil rights, equal opportunity, or any of the laudable things America has done in the past fifty years to remove false barriers within the military. This is different. It’s a purely political act that will make our military — and the military families liberals claim to venerate — much weaker than they are today.

Panetta is acting in response to feminists’ demands that women be able to serve in any capacity men do because they will be denied promotion to the higher ranks if they lack combat experience. It’s true that there is a huge number of women of flag rank among the services, some at the top four-star rank. But there surely is a “glass ceiling” in the combat arms that women haven’t broken through.

The problem with this statement of the issue is that the military “glass ceiling” is streaked with blood. If women are to be warriors — and thus earn the right to command other warriors — they have to train like men, live like men, and be able to survive the intense dangers of the modern battlefield as many men do. If they don’t, they cannot gain the respect and admiration that commanders of warriors must have to be effective. Should they be permitted to do that?

There are two components to the question. First and foremost is whether the presence of women will add to or detract from the readiness and capability of the unit to perform its mission. The second is a moral question: Will having women serve in harm’s way benefit our military and society at large?

The question of benefit to society has been mooted politically. To even suggest that women are different from men in important ways — such as the instincts for motherhood and nurturing — is to be outside the realm of permissible political thought. To ask whether those natural instincts should be subordinated to the skills of war is unthinkable, at least to those who want to “gender neutralize” the military.

So we are left with the first question, which has to be answered with a resounding “no.”

Even the Clinton administration had sense enough to keep women out of most of the combat arms. In 1991, legislation lifted the historic ban on American women serving in combat. Congress, under pressure from feminists, declared that women should be able to serve on combat ships and in combat aircraft and told the Defense Department to come up with a scheme to implement it and other criteria for women in combat.

In 1993, Clinton Defense Secretary Les Aspin promulgated DoD policy that allowed women to serve in all but a few categories. First, from assignments at lower than brigade level in units whose principal purpose was combat. Next, where the cost of providing women privacy (in berthing on ships, for example) was prohibitive. In addition, they could be prohibited from serving in units co-located with combat units.

Women were barred, under Aspin’s policy, from long-range reconnaissance and special forces and where job-related physical requirements would necessarily exclude the vast majority of women. Note that all women were barred: there was no exception made for those few who could meet the tough physical and mental standards it takes to qualify for spec ops.

Over the intervening twenty years, women have served in more and more combat roles. They serve as fighter pilots in the Navy and Air Force, and were aboard every Navy warship except submarines until, just a little over a year ago, they were allowed to serve on subs as well. The Army has gradually — and in contravention of Aspin’s directives — allowed women into more and more combat roles.

Panetta’s action will probably complete the destruction of the warrior culture on which the success of our military depends. That culture, developed over the past two thousand years or so, is not uniquely American but our brand of it is. Our warriors take pride in what they do because they do it for America and because they do it better than anyone else. Thus, one of the most important parts of that culture is the objective standards someone has to meet to qualify to join the combat arms.

Every Marine in a rifle platoon, every pilot in a squadron, every special operator has had to meet the standards set for all the others. At least they did until the services began to cave under political pressure to enable women to join combat units.

Perhaps the worst example is what happened to the Navy after the 1990 “Tailhook Convention” scandal in which naval aviators acted like, well, every fighter pilot who ever lived. They drank too much and did dumb things such as publicly shaving the legs of some too-willing ladies they’d invited. It was a frat party worthy of Animal House, but no worse.

Liberals — led by California’s Babsy Boxer and a few others — raised a media feeding frenzy and the Navy’s pusillanimous leaders caved in to their demands. The result was that the Navy let its standards slip in order to shove women into combat roles. Lt. Kara Hultgreen was pushed through training and certified for combat, the first female naval aviator to reach that qualification. But she was certified despite the fact that her superiors knew she wasn’t ready. Hultgreen was killed when she lost control of her aircraft attempting to land on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 1994. The Navy learned its lesson, and its standards were restored.

Eleven years ago I wrote about the danger of “gender neutralizing” the objective tests for entry into combat arms. That article reported on a British Ministry of Defence study authored by Brigadier Seymour Monroe. In that study, Monroe reported that when the British were trying to fit women into combat roles, they “gender neutralized” — i.e., lowered — their standards so that women who couldn’t qualify under the men’s standards did so under their own.

Who can doubt that the Obama Pentagon will do exactly the same? Why should the men accept anyone — woman or man — who can’t make the same grade they did? They shouldn’t, and they won’t. It will destroy unit cohesion and pride.

That is the principal objection to what the Obama Pentagon is up to. And it will have two effects, both of which are a threat to our national security.

First, by pushing standards down to enable women to qualify, Obama’s Pentagon will reduce the units’ ability to fight. Our guys — and I use the term with malice aforethought — win because they’re better trained and more capable than the enemy. Whenever you reduce the qualifications, you reduce the level of capability and the unit’s ability to win. To lower standards is to increase the risk of defeat.

Second, whether or not standards are relaxed, allowing women into combat arms will break the spirit of many of our warriors whether they be ground pounders, airmen, or sailors.

Our guys do what they do — and do it so well — in part because they’re guys who are members of the most exclusive club in the world: the warriors, the real 1%’ers. Their club’s membership has been 100% men since before Thermopylae. These men understand that they are different — mentally and physically — from women and want to stay that way. They have wives and girlfriends at home. They don’t have them as fellow warriors who they train and fight alongside.

To put women among them would force them to break with their ancient customs, traditions, and beliefs. In short, it would fundamentally change what they are and how they function in combat. The price will be paid in resignations, in declining re-enlistments, and in lives and battles lost.

There’s one more aspect to this, which is the strain Panetta’s act will put on military families. When he decided to allow women to serve on submarines, a lot of Navy wives were really angry. They know their men, and they know that our elite submarine force would become a fleet of submersible Love Boats, and, in too many instances, they have.

What higher price will more military families pay when women are allowed into the rest of the combat arms, serving in remote places in tough conditions with the men beside them?

Panetta’s decision has to be stopped by House Republicans. They can do it if they bar the use of any authorized or appropriated funds for DoD to implement the Panetta policy, a provision that should be in every bill they pass until it becomes law. If they don’t, we should throw the lot of them out.

That’s so short and clear that not even the House can muck it up. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.


Somewhere over the rainbow in a utopia called Europe

"The genie is out of the bottle: the fight for our country's liberty starts today," said Nigel Farage this week. He is the leader of the UK Independence Party, a party whose members British Prime Minister David Cameron once dismissed as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists".

Well, they are running the asylum, now. Cameron's speech on Europe finally promised what Farage had long been seeking, and what was once unthinkable: a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

It is amazing what some decent polling will do. The UKIP has surged lately, claiming as much as 16 per cent support - in some polls even sitting above the Tories' coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats.

Cameron has a problem with conservative voters jumping ship and Conservative backbenchers jumping down his throat. The forces of populism and party have finally cornered him.

This isn't really about policy. It's not even about the EU's failings, which are undeniable. It's about a pervasive sense of British alienation from the European project; a sense that belonging to the EU denies Britain its sovereignty. It forces it to do things like accept European immigrants. That's why Farage can speak with a straight face of Britain reclaiming its "liberty" as though it's the beginning of World War II. What is Britain if it can't deny the invading hordes from Poland?

Beneath every argument Britain will now have about Europe is an unstated, but essentially important fact: that deep down, most Britons don't feel very European. They do not see a continent of fellow European citizens. They see a continent of foreigners who now have an unwelcome claim on their lives and their space.

Britons have long had a reputation for that separateness. The trouble, though, is they are far from alone. In fact they are a mild case. Head east to Greece, where the financial crisis is really biting and you'll meet Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party, which has claimed parliamentary seats and now consistently sits third in polling. There has been a spike in anti-immigrant violence, much of it ignored by sympathisers in the police force. But beyond the violence, this is a solidarity movement. Hence Golden Dawn's "solidarity projects": food for the poor, employment services, blood drives - available to Greeks only. Yes, Greeks don't feel especially European either.

The EU can talk all it likes about better economic integration. Indeed, it is right to do so. But there's a problem here that is being laid bare in different extremes in Britain and Greece. Economic integration rests ultimately on social commitments. Economies work because the people within them feel connected enough to make sacrifices for each other; to redistribute wealth within them, perhaps even to bail each other out of trouble. This relies on something that Golden Dawn in its crudely violent way understands instinctively: solidarity. Economics, like politics, is very much about identity.

Hereabouts Europe has a problem that might just be insurmountable: it doesn't exist. It never really has. It's a term with no clear story and no clear meaning. To see this, you need only take a moment to examine a euro note and consider the artwork. Note the series of generic, non-descript arches and bridges. This is a continent with some of the world's most stunning, iconic architectural landmarks, all of them instantly recognisable symbols, and yet none of them symbolise Europe. The exquisite architecture of Westminster has no business being on any legal tender used in Paris. The Colosseum is an awesome monument with an awesome history, but to tell its story properly you would have to spend much of the time talking about Africa.

However you approach Europe, its identity is elusive. It can't be geographic because it simply becomes Asia at some entirely arbitrary point. It's not ideological because, depending on where you are, it is the wellspring of both communism and market liberalism. Christianity seems a good candidate until you consider that most Christians aren't European and that so many of Western Europe's churches are empty (and that's before you worry about any Catholic-Protestant complications). It could almost be secularism, but you would have to pretend Orthodox nations like Greece with strong establishment churches are the same as France with its staunch anti-clericalism. And on it goes.

This is precisely the appeal of parties like Golden Dawn. Neo-Nazism is not just about racial or ethnic supremacy: it's about returning to some imagined natural, organic way of being. It's an attempt to reclaim something real in an environment that seems contrived and imposed. Europe, by contrast, is never described as "us". Europe is them - distant bureaucrats who do things to you rather than for you. Europe doesn't run blood drives. Europe doesn't feed poor people in your area.

These are the consequences of deformed globalisation, where economics globalises out of step with sociology. If Europe wants to command the genuine commitment of its members, with all the sacrifice that entails, it needs to offer its people an identity. Currently, there's no telling what that would be, or who exactly is willing to fight for it. It's dead easy, though, to say who'll fight against it.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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