Sunday, April 13, 2014
Good God, does Britain still have a Minister for Women? What is this, the 1950s?
Surely we don’t still have a “Minister for Women” in 2014? Maria Miller has resigned and part of her role (“Minister for Women and Equalities”) has just been handed to Nicky Morgan MP. How disappointing. Cameron should have been brave enough to do away with it altogether.
Morgan is, as many are pointing out, opposed to gay marriage (only a fan of straight women, then?) and anti-abortion (unlike the vast majority of women in this country). But let’s be honest here, it doesn’t really matter what her views are, because “Minister for Women” isn’t a real role, is it?
Maria Miller certainly didn’t do much with it. But, and I know I’m going against the grain here, I don’t think it’s really her fault. “Minister for Women” is a token role – a Minister for Low Government Priorities to be palmed off on female (we’re very pro-female here!) ministers, with the actual effect of making them look fluffier and less powerful.
The Government is not serious about women. What it is serious about is making a fuss over being seen to be pro-women.
There’s a great anecdote in a recent sketch by Michael Deacon which sums it up.
"The first time I attended one of Mr Cameron’s Q&As, a woman complained to me that he only seemed interested in taking questions from men. I mentioned this in my sketch. Ever since, Mr Cameron has not only made an effort to take questions from women, but made sure everyone notices he’s making an effort to take questions from women.
He scanned the room keenly. “We need some – ah!” he said. “Here we are!” A woman had raised her hand.
Another small but crucial victory in the war on condescension."
Of course this is the opposite of helpful. When it is constantly implied that your USP is simply “being a woman”, nasty things happen. You might, for example, view your female juniors as threats and set about squashing them.
Anxious for your position, you might stand on boards of feminist organisations and preach the importance of “reaching out” to women, while penalising your female employees for wanting to work part time.
And then there is the clumsy promotion of young women into visible roles they are clearly not ready for. Remember the director of the government coding initiative who couldn’t code?
Minister for Women may have been a small step forward in the Fifties, but it’s a giant leap back in 2014. Come on, Cameron: ditch it.
The Meltdown of the Obama Genderhawks
I have created a new species designation for the female Democrats who play hypocritical gender politics on behalf of Barack Obama. They're genderhawks.
You remember the term "chickenhawk," don't you? During the Bush years, anti-war activists and journalists hurled the ad hominem epithet at anyone who supported military action against our enemies but hadn't personally served.
I say let's give 'em a dose of their own tactical medicine.
Genderhawks are feminist chickenhawks. They demand "equal pay" for women, practice militant identity politics based on chromosomes and purport to wage an all-out government war on gender inequity. Yet, they personally refuse to hold themselves and their lousy male bosses accountable for their own gender-based failures and delinquencies.
Meet genderhawk Jennifer Palmieri. The Clinton administration veteran faithfully defended a lecherous philanderer-in-chief against what his sexist operatives called "bimbo eruptions." Then she served as spokeswoman for adulterous crapweasel John Edwards. Now, she is Obama's communications flack and chief social media gender warrior. On Tuesday, which Team Obama and its feminist pals dubbed "Equal Pay Day," Palmieri took to Twitter to call out the sexist White House press corps:
"Love all these guys, but note that 6 of 7 news orgs in front row sent men to ask @presssec abt the problem of gender pay inequity," Palmieri tweeted.
Oooh. Get it? Palmieri was womansplaining, gender-shaming and upside-the-head-smacking the mainstream media for sending tone-deaf men to ask about women's issues. She really zapped and zinged 'em, didn't she?!
Well, only in her Beltway bubble-wrapped head.
Palmieri humiliated just one person: herself. In her faux-minist fog, she forgot that her own boss, the president, is a man . His vice president is a man . Their labor secretary is a man . In fact, 12 of 15 Obama cabinent members are dastardly men. And White House press secretary Jay Carney, sent by her male managers to answer questions about gender equity from the men Palmieri deemed insufficiently sensitive to women's issues, is a man.
Thankfully, sane journalists of both genders pushed back against Palmieri's identity politics run amok. Fox News reporter Ed Henry fired back: "WH sent man to podium, right?" Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Salena Zito retorted: "In your line of (thought) Jennifer, a woman should have taken the question for the White House not a man." National Review's Charles W. Cooke quizzed: "Would the answers have been different if the questions had been asked by women?"
Forced to respond, Palmieri grudgingly acknowledged that the press secretary carries XY chromosomes, but she rationalized that he's a man "who advocates for policies to reduce gender pay inequality and appreciates seriousness of problem." See, gals? Jay Carney feels your pain — unlike those chauvinist pigs in the press corps asking pesky questions about bogus White House wage inequity stats! See, guys? If you pay lip service to caring, you can be honorary genderhawks, too.
Obama and his femme-a-gogue flock aren't fooling anyone. It's not just evil men and right-wingers raising questions about the Democrats' Equal Pay Day theater. Reporters bombarded Carney about a new American Enterprise Institute study that found that the salary for the median female White House staffer is 12 percent lower than for a male staffer. Carney meekly replied that at least the White House pay gap is not as bad as the national average.
Both the left-wing Daily Beast and the free-market Wall Street Journal opinion pages debunked the "77 cents on a dollar" myth, which inflates the gender gap by failing to account for education, occupation and marital status. When challenged on the White House promotion of junk science, Carney sneered at a Reuters reporter that he "would expect something a little more precise."
While Palmieri runs interference for Carney and Obama, the cloud of sexism charges hanging over the White House hasn't gone away. It's liberal media outlets including The New York Times and Time magazine that have noted the "boys' club" climate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, epitomized by the glaring absence of women in featured Oval Office photos of Obama's meetings with senior advisers. (Well, except for that one photo that showed a sliver of Valerie Jarrett's leg.)
And it was a top female aide, Anita Dunn, who very precisely told author Ron Suskind on tape that the Obama White House "actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."
Meanwhile, Obama genderhawk Jennifer Palmieri thinks squawking about male reporters is the way to achieve feminist social justice. Whatever we're paying this unhinged, selective, man-hating lady is way too much.
Nigel Evans case: The police and British prosecutors have to stop dragging innocent people through the dirt
The police have done it again. They’ve tried, and failed, to nail a senior politician.
Yesterday, Nigel Evans was acquitted of a shopping list of sexual offences brought to court by Lancashire Police and the CPS. The former deputy speaker was charged with 10 separate offences, including rape, sexual assault and indecent assault.
It took a jury at Preston Crown Court precisely four and a half hours to throw out every one of those charges. On average they were forced to deliberate for just 27 minutes over each “offence”.
I’m amazed it even took them that long. It’s difficult to imagine a more blatant and disgraceful abuse of the British legal system than the one Nigel Evans has just been subjected to.
I have no formal legal training. But it seems to me that any criminal prosecution requires two things: a perpetrator and a victim.
When the case comes to court, it then follows a simple process. The perpetrator protests their innocence, and the victim attests to their guilt. Or, if the victim is unable to do so, other witnesses attest to the defendant’s guilt on their behalf.
All the while this process is underpinned by a set of basic rules. They are known as the law. It’s therefore quite important that all those involved in the case – the prosecution, the defence, the judge, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service – actually know what the law is.
For some reason, when it came to the Nigel Evans case, the police and Crown Prosecution Service decided to take these basic principles of justice, rip them up, and scatter them to the winds.
Lets take that first important concept, the victim. As the case unfolded, it became clear that there were problems with the prosecution's case. Quite a fundamental problem, actually. Three of the alleged “victims” said that they weren’t victims at all.
The first described the supposed crime against him as “a big joke”. When asked by Nigel Evans’s barrister if he’d believed the incident might end up in court, he replied, “Never in a million years”. When the second “victim” was interviewed by the police, he said: “I do not wish Mr Evans to be charged as a result of what happened to me. I have absolutely no intention of making a complaint to the police and I am making this statement as a witness and not as a victim seeking justice.” The third “victim” told the police, “I do not wish to pursue any kind of complaint against Nigel because I do not believe he has committed any offences.”
Given the insistence by the “victims” that they weren’t actually victims, the police then proceeded do to what any sensible investigative body would do in these circumstances. They tried to find witnesses who could convince a jury that those “victims” were wrong.
One of them was Tory MP Conor Burns. He had been present at one of the alleged incidents, but could barely recollect what, if anything, had happened, and said he didn’t feel that he could provide a meaningful statement. At which point he was told he would be forced to attend court and treated as a “reluctant” witness.
The police presented their evidence to the crown prosecution service. Given the absence of victims – and the absence of independent witnesses – the CPS came to the only sensible conclusion that could be reached. They decided to prosecute.
At which point, not surprisingly, the case fell apart. Victim after victim stood up and said that they weren’t a victim. Witness after witness stood up and said they hadn’t witnessed anything. Almost all of them attested to Nigel Evans's good character. This farce reached its nadir when the judge was forced to step in and explain to the prosecution that one charge they had filed was not actually an offence in law, given the evidence they had presented.
By the end there was one complainant who alleged that he had been raped. But his allegations quickly crumbled under cross-examination. As the prosecution always suspected they would, hence their desperate attempts to “bundle together” a string of other “offences” to bolster their case.
As Lancashire Police stood amid the smouldering ruins of their investigation following Nigel Evans's acquittal, they issued a statement in mitigation. It said: “Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to investigating allegations of this nature, no matter how historic, and no matter what the role, position and status of the alleged offender.”
That statement was false. Lancashire Constabulary did not treat the allegations against Nigel Evans as if they would any other case. As Evans's solicitor, Daniel Berk, explained: “I have dealt with cases involving allegations of rape and sexual assault before. Normally there would be a couple of detective constables investigating it and perhaps a middle-ranking barrister prosecuting. In this case there was a large police team. It came out in evidence that the police had gone out of their way to find complaints – two of which dated back 10 years and both of whom said in evidence that they were somewhat surprised to find themselves in court. They also instructed senior Treasury counsel – a QC – which, again, would not be typical in a case like this.”
The unusual zeal with which the police pursued Nigel Evans was underlined by an additional – and staggering – statement made by Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley following the verdicts. “[The] personal impact on an individual and their families of sexual abuse, as we know, is significa,nt” he said. “It cannot have been easy for those that have done so to provide evidence to the investigation and court proceedings. We have recognised and considered the views and needs of the victims throughout this case, while ensuring we provide support to them and the witnesses through what has no doubt been a very difficult and challenging ordeal.”
But no one in this case had been subjected to sexual abuse. There were no victims. That had just been conclusively proved in a court of law. By the time Lancashire Constabulary’s formal statement appeared on the forces website, the word “victim” had been changed to “complainants”. Even though, as we’ve seen, almost all of the “complainants” weren’t complainants at all.
This morning the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders appeared on the Today programme to defend the handling of the case. She said the CPS basically worked on a 50 per cent evidential threshold, which needed to indicate any prosecution would have a “realistic prospect of conviction”. On what basis can anyone expect a realistic prospect of conviction if almost all of the alleged victims themselves claim no crime has been committed?
How much longer and we going to tolerate the current situation where the police and Crown Prosecution Service are able to persecute innocent men? Time and time and time again, high-profile prosecutions are brought. And time and time and time again, they are thrown out.
There is misconception that a miscarriage of justice only occurs when an innocent person is jailed, then subsequently found to have been not guilty of the crime. But the truth is a miscarriage occurs every time an innocent man like Nigel Evans finds himself in the dock, publicly accused of the most heinous crimes.
It’s no good everyone patting themselves on the back and saying “Oh well, the system worked”. The system isn’t working. The police and the CPS are dragging the names of decent, honest, innocent people through the dirt on a weekly basis. And it has to stop.
Child rearing: Europe vs. Israel
A friend posted a commercial, supposedly rated number one in Europe. It shows a father and son shopping. The boy wants a bag of treats and while the father isn’t looking, he slips it into the shopping cart. Already at this moment, there is something wrong. You can see it in the eyes of the child – anger, testing, daring the father to react.
The father puts the treat back on the shelf; the boy puts it in the cart again. This has happened to most parents. But soon comes the difference between what should have been and what the morale of the commercial is for its creators.
Without saying a word to the son, the father once again returns the treat to the store shelves. At this point, the child becomes enraged and begins the “mother of all tantrums.” He screams, throws things off the shelves and finally lays on the floor screaming and kicking. The only “word” the father ever says in the commercial is “sh!!!!” as he tries to stop his son from screaming.
As the father looks in despair and confusion at his son, the words, “Use Condoms” comes across the screen. And in this one commercial, much of what is wrong with European society came into my mind.
Is the answer really to not have children, to wish they had never been born? Or is the answer to invest the time to properly raise them, to communicate, to explain?
I have been blessed…yes…blessed…with five amazing children and truly believe my country and the world are better for their having been born. The oldest is 28 years old and in the 28 plus years since I gave birth to her, I have never, ever, never, not once thought it would have been better had any of my children not been given to me.
In thinking (okay, over-thinking) about this commercial, I remembered an incident that happened to me in New Jersey exactly 24 years ago. My third child was a few weeks old (he just turned 24 a few weeks ago). I was going to pick up a replacement stroller and I had my infant in a sling-like carrier and was walking my two older ones by hand so that I could leave the store with one stroller. My second child started to cry – I don’t remember why (maybe his shoe lace was untied?). I remember bending over to talk to him to see what was wrong, and then the baby started to cry.
It was an overwhelming feeling – to have your arms stretched to either side holding a child in each arm; trying to console one child while your baby starts to cry. You didn’t want to let go of either child and yet you need a third hand to console the baby. I remember having a diaper bag slung over my shoulder and with the baby and all, I could barely move.
In Israel, people would have come to help…in America, as a woman was passing me, she said, “if you can’t handle them, you shouldn’t have had them.”
My very first thought, as I looked at her, wasn’t the most reasonable and yet it was…”that’s America.” I felt more pity for her than the contempt she had earned by her callous remark.
And, if that wasn’t enough, that incident had come only days after I met up with a high school friend who, after hearing that I had just given birth to my third child in five years, responded with, “jeez, don’t you guys ever sleep?”
At the time, I had thought how little he understood the blessing of a child and later how little that woman outside the store understood. Now, seeing this commercial, I remember those feelings of misgiving, of anger that instead of greeting the birth of a child with joy, that friend and that woman at the store, thought three children (or five, or two, or one) was anything other than the amazing gift it is.
Why didn’t the father communicate with the boy, explain and perhaps compromised, “that snack is very bad for you, but come, we’ll pick out something else.”
Or, “we bought you a snack last week and we still have some at home. When we finish that, we’ll buy more.”
Or, “I’ll make you a deal – you help me get the rest of the groceries and if you are a very good boy, we’ll come back and get you a treat before we leave.”
So many potential responses, so many opportunities to educate the child – all lost with the ridiculous thought that he should have used condoms and avoided bringing this child into the world. And yes, that was the purpose of the add – pushing the use of condoms…but the deeper message is one which, if it defines Europe in any way, only succeeds in leaving a negative impression.
Yes, I’m sure I am over-analyzing this but still, there are several issues that astound me. First, that people think this is funny and share it on Facebook. What is funny about watching a young boy lose control and trash a supermarket? What is funny about watching an obviously distressed parent even wonder if he should have used condoms rather than brought this child into the world?
Second, I would never think watching a child throw a vicious temper tantrum like this one is funny and yet it was rated a top commercial in Europe. Why? What does that say about European society and the value it places on a child’s life?
No, it isn’t funny. Not for the father who is clearly embarrassed and doesn’t know how to relate to his own child; and not to the child who is clearly angry, upset, and feels the need to test the relationship. It isn’t funny for the other people in the store who clearly exhibit several emotions – embarrassment, even fear.
I can tell you how this scene would have played out in Israel. First, few people would stand by and allow the child to run around throwing things from the shelf to the floor and screaming.
A father who doesn’t know how to handle a child, would quickly find other mothers and fathers who would bend towards the child and ask what the problem is and offer other solutions. A dozen “grandparents” would move in to defuse the situation and the store manager would likely appear as well.
If a child falls in a playground in Israel, the mother often has to muscle her way through a crowd of other mothers who have run to pick the child up and soothe away his scrapes.
The old lady on the bus will offer advice about keeping a hat on a baby because of the wind; people will help a mother on and off a bus and she will take that assistance because it will never occur to her that anyone would run off with her child.
Life is so different here than in the US or in Europe. Here, every child is precious and is raised to know they are cherished. Each is a blessing. Always. Forever.
Condoms aren’t the answer here and while as a parent I can relate to the temper tantrum…for the life of me, I don’t see how this commercial was funny. The kid is suffering (and likely spoiled); but is that enough to have the father wonder if it would be better if child hadn’t been born?
In what world could this suffering be funny? The answer, apparently, is Europe where it is, apparently, better to avoid having children than learn how to educate them properly. Better to avoid a problem than face it. Better to give in, than face the conflict and handle 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 POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.