Friday, March 31, 2017
After letting kids get sex-change surgery at 15, Oregon Democrats try raising smoking age to 21
They have no principles and no guiding theory. All they have is hatred of the status quo
Growing up can be confusing, especially if you're a kid in Oregon. You can't drive a car until 16. You can't leave home until 18. And if a new bill passes the state legislature, you can't pick up a pack of cigarettes until 21.
But Oregon offers one state perk long before any of those other milestones. With or without parental permission, the state subsidizes gender reassignment surgery starting at age 15. To reiterate, kids can change their sex with help from the taxpayer, but soon many adults won't be able to buy smokes.
The pending legislation perfectly demonstrates the skewed double standard of the Left. There's a sliding scale of responsibility in Oregon and it's calibrated specifically to liberal pieties.
Ostensibly to keep the state healthy, the smoking bill rests on the premise that young adults are too foolish to make good decisions about their bodies. "One of the best things we can do in Oregon to prevent disease," said Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, "is to stop people from using tobacco." Or put another way, limiting choice is necessary to eliminate the danger.
But while Oregon lawmakers won't let adults light up, they'll pay for kids to change gender. Suddenly public health interests go out the window in Salem. The state's Medicaid program bows blindly in front of the personal autonomy of high school freshman still too young to drive.
Never mind the risks of going under the knife and the fact that there's no real chance to go back once the change is complete. Disregard the parental concerns of the families who will care for these children. And completely ignore evidence, like this UCLA study, showing that transgender kids are at a higher risk for suicide after surgery.
No matter the risks and regardless of parental rights, Oregon lets impressionable children identify however they choose. They won't let voting-age adults identify as the Marlboro man. The nanny state has officially run amok.
Trump Signals Change in Tone for Police From Obama
President Donald Trump told the nation’s largest police union his administration will “always have your back,” a departure from what many police organizations say they felt about the previous administration.
The Fraternal Order of Police visited the White House Tuesday. Many police organizations criticized the Obama administration for being quick to criticize the officers after a police shooting before knowing all the facts.
Trump met with nine police union officials from across the country, and was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, where he asserted “there is nobody braver” than law enforcement, and thanked them for their endorsement in last year’s election.
“I made a crucial pledge,” Trump told the police officials. “We will always support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. I will always have your back 100 percent.”
Such words from a president mean a lot, noted Scott Erickson, president of Americans in Support of Law Enforcement.
Erickson wasn’t part of the meeting, but asserted this first formal meeting with Trump and the Fraternal Order of Police marks a change in tone.
“Public perception of police is slowly improving for two reasons,” Erickson, who was a police officer in San Jose, California, for 18 years, told The Daily Signal. “People got burnt out on the negativity, hearing the worst about cops. Two years ago, it hit a new low. Last year, approval for cops spiked. But what top government officials were saying filtered down to public discourse about cops. That is changing.”
During his presidency, Barack Obama verbally criticized several police departments, asserting in July 2009 that the Cambridge Police Department “acted stupidly,” when an officer stopped a Harvard professor outside his home. In December 2012, after winning re-election, Obama said some local police departments “are not trying to root out bias.”
In July 2016, after shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, Obama said while in Warsaw, Poland, “These are not isolated incidents, they are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”
That same month, during a memorial service for five slain police officers in Dallas, Obama talked about racial disparities in law enforcement, saying, “When all this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we can’t just simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.”
These were the types of comments that framed the description of police officers, Erickson said. That seems to have changed with a new president, according to Erickson.
“Police no longer feel they are going to have an administration casting a skeptical eye on them before all of the facts are in,” Erickson said.
On Feb. 9, Trump signed three executive orders to back law enforcement. The first stated the federal government is on the side of federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement. The second established a task force for reducing crime, and the third created a separate task force to determine the best way to take on transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels.
During his meeting with police Tuesday, Trump said that police must be empowered to keep the public safe.
“Sadly, our police are often prevented from doing their jobs,” Trump said. “In too many of our communities, violent crime is on the rise. These are painful realities that many in Washington don’t want to talk about. We have seen it all over.”
Trump noted, “I always ask, ‘What’s going on in Chicago?’”
Dean Angelo, president of Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, was among those who met with the president. After the meeting, the Chicago Tribune reported Angelo said, “I just mentioned that the police officers want to work, and that [they] need people to support police officers to go back to work so they can work toward stemming the violence in our city.”
Trump referenced during the meeting that Sessions on Monday talked about withholding Justice Department grants from cities that don’t cooperate with federal law enforcement on immigration, commonly known as sanctuary cities.
Fraternal Order of Police National President Chuck Canterbury said the organization backed the president on cracking down on sanctuary cities.
“We believe in enforcing the laws of the country of the United States,” Canterbury told reporters after the meeting, according to the Tribune. “We believe that sanctuary city status is not a good thing for America. We support the president on his sanctuary city initiative.”
The Leftist reliance on censorship
JENNIFER ORIEL, writing from Australia
After a long winter of stultifying centrism, Australia has regained its two-party system. The left’s political persecution of artist Bill Leak and his untimely death have shocked the Liberal Party into resurrecting its founding principle of freedom. Labor has responded to the Prime Minister’s plea for freedom by revealing its intent to censor the people and the free press.
In the fashion of 21st-century totalitarians, the left is using race and human rights as rhetorical weapons against liberty and civil society. The Liberal Party is emerging once more as the party of freedom, fairness and democracy. It begs the question: what’s left of the left?
In the midst of World War II, sociologist Robert Nisbet warned that we would not be able to detect the return of totalitarianism by searching for political absolutism in the form of an autocratic state. Rather, the rise of totalitarianism would become apparent by the gradual encroachment of the state into all areas of life traditionally assigned to society: family, friendships and secular faith.
The object of totalitarian contempt is civil society because the ties that bind us in friendship, family and faith also effect our independence from the state. The animating principle of civil society is free speech and we learn to master it by exercising public reason. As a result, the most distinctive feature of liberal democratic states is the protection of free speech and public reason from state coercion and control.
The Western left seems capable of discerning the totalitarian threat, but only when it comes dressed like an enemy. Thus, its members might criticise Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suppressing free speech, or Vladimir Putin for punishing dissidents, but celebrate the silencing of fellow citizens deemed politically incorrect by state censors.
In the modern West, the most popular and effective rhetorical device to erode free speech has been race. Communists used class as a weapon to depict state censorship of dissenters as victory for the proletariat. In the 21st century, the left uses race as a weapon to shame and silence dissenters from the PC party line.
State censorship of dissidents is marketed as victory for state-designated minority groups. In the West, however, these minority groups are rarely genuine political minorities. Under affirmative action laws, they are given superior rights to other citizens. They are usually numerical minorities granted a range of unearned privileges under law.
As a woman, I am one of the fake minorities singled out for special privileges under discrimination law and I have come to resent it. I believe in formal equality, not inequality and I dislike intensely any attempt to create hostility between people on the basis of biological traits. As history shows, a ruling class often comprises a numerical minority awarded political, legal and economic privileges that are denied other citizens. It is the meaning of systemic inequality and a reliable predictor of social unrest.
The Liberal Party seeks equality for all Australians under law. It wants to restore speech equality by reforming section 18C so that every citizen enjoys an equal right to freedom of thought and speech without fear of persecution by common slanderers, or the state. The Labor Party champions speech inequality by defending 18C. Under Labor, the people and the press are denied the right to speak freely.
Those who insist on free speech are often targeted for abuse by false accusers wielding the rhetorical weapon of race. As we saw in the persecution of Bill Leak by Islamist and PC censors, and the three-year-long case against QUT students, section 18C empowers a type of fraud. In its current form, the Racial Discrimination Act enables what I would call race fraud; the use of race to deceive/defraud Australians by means of false accusation and political persecution. The beneficiaries of race fraud include vexatious claimants, ambulance-chasing lawyers, race-baiting activists and establishment backers of 18C.
Section 18C is big business, as legal affairs editor Chris Merritt has revealed. Since 2010, respondents in race discrimination complaints handled by the AHRC have paid almost $1 million to avoid going to court. The complainant in the QUT case, Cindy Prior, sought $250,000 in damages from students over Facebook posts. Some of the biggest payouts have come from government departments, which means that once again, the taxpayer is funding the harmful PC industry.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane invited people online to complain about Leak’s cartoon. Soutphommasane was appointed in 2013 by then Labor attorney-general Mark Dreyfus. During a panel hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria last week, Dreyfus outlined plans that could result in the application of 18C to a growing list of protected attributes.
According to Merritt, Dreyfus indicated that: “A Labor government hoped to consolidate all federal anti-discrimination legislation and would consider … a general standard for the type of speech that would attract liability.” Dreyfus plans on “consolidating the five anti-discrimination statutes when we are next in government” and establishing “a standard about speech generally”.
When last in office, Labor launched the most totalitarian assault on freedom of speech I have seen in the 21st century West. The Green-Left’s attack on free speech and the independent media was categorically anti-democratic. Combined with a proposed meta-regulator of the media, Labor’s human rights and anti-discrimination bill would have ushered in state control of free speech under the guise of social justice. The bill created a raft of new protected attributes including immigrant status, nationality or citizenship, and social origin. They would have been protected from “unfavourable treatment”, defined as “conduct that offends, insults or intimidates”.
Labor’s doomed bill was supported by the AHRC. The Liberal Party warned it would reverse the onus of proof, thereby destroying the presumption of innocence in Australian law. However, AHRC President Gillian Triggs contended that shifting the onus of proof to the accused was needed because complainants were “vulnerable”.
The ethos of Australian equality and mateship is protected by formal equality. We should seek a state where speech equality is guaranteed by ensuring all Australians can speak freely without fear of political persecution under 18C.
Political correctness can't alter history
Recently the specter of "political correctness," which as I have previously stated is strictly political and not particularly correct, reared its ugly head once again. I refer to the removal of the bust/statue that commemorated former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America and Maryland native Roger Brooke Taney from the grounds of the Frederick County courthouse. This was done simply to appease those who wish to cleanse our history of anything that might make them the least bit uncomfortable by today's standards.
To be sure, the majority opinion that Taney wrote in the Dred Scott decision, if written today, would be unanimously declared unconscionable by the current standards, however it was written at a different time with much different social norms. It also must be remembered that this was a majority decision and the chief justice simply wrote the opinion with which at least four other justices agreed.
Having that statue on the grounds of a courthouse, instead of being hidden away in a local cemetery, seems to be the more proper location. It would serve as a reminder that even the best intentions of the finest legal minds of the day sometimes make decisions that could prove to be in error in future generations. Witness the decision that equates unlimited financial contributions to political parties and candidates by wealthy individuals and corporations with freedom of speech.
I wonder if eliminating every person or symbol with any connection to the practice of slavery might include removing the portrait of George Washington from the dollar bill or Thomas Jefferson from the $2 bill. Each of these Founding Fathers — and they were not alone in the practice — had slaves to till their fields and serve in their mansions. At Mount Vernon, the slave quarters are prominent displays that show the hierarchy present within the slave ranks.
In Baltimore City, there is an ongoing discussion about the removal and relocation of several commemorative statues featuring Confederate themes or people. I'm of the opinion that none of them be moved or removed. They represent the history of the United States. Although that period was unpleasant to say the least, in the end it did bring the country back together.
History is the story of what happened and to whom it happened. We cannot change the past. We can only hope to learn from it and strive to do better in the future. We cannot judge the actions and words of our ancestors through the prism of modern mores. They did what they did in their times and under the laws and customs of their day. It is simply wrong for modern man to attempt to hide from future generations the history and many conversions that this great nation has gone through.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.