Monday, December 24, 2007

Encroaching regulation in Britain

Canada has Mark Steyn, America has Ann Coulter -- writers who use comedic exaggeration as a powerful way of making serious points. Their British equivalent is Jeremy Clarkson. A sample below:

WHILE away last week, someone came in the night and put up a couple of hand-made road signs on the grass verge outside my house. They advertise a new website that encourages road users to report fellow citizens for dangerous or antisocial driving. I think it may be called The idea is simple. If you are annoyed by someone's driving, you simply post the numberplate and a brief description of the crime in the hope the offender will log on and be so ashamed he or she will turn over a new leaf and become a vicar.

For example, a chap with the username StephenHarrison, who has made 157 posts so far, quotes the numberplate of a car that, he claims, positioned itself in the left/straight-on lane, then turned right at the roundabout in Birmingham city centre on July 9. And Kev627 tells us that in Hampshire, a man driving a Ford Fiesta indicated about 100m before the exit prior to the one he used to leave the A342.

I'm surprised to find someone in Glasgow didn't tell members that he had seen two Muslim men drive right over the pavement and into the terminal at the city's airport in a burning Jeep Cherokee.

Sadly, I don't know if I appear because I don't know my numberplate. But I do know that we are talking about the dullest site in the entire web, and also the most terrifying.

The problem is that we now have so many laws in Britain and so few police officers to enforce them all, that the slack is being taken up by an army of bitter and twisted busybodies in beige clothes and upper lips puckered so badly by rage they look like one of Mr Kipling's cakes. Think about it. When we were growing up it was illegal to murder someone, and er ... that's it. Now it is illegal to eat an apple while driving or use a mobile phone. It is illegal to smoke a cigarette in a bus shelter or use more than two dogs to kill a fox.

To enforce all these new laws is a police force of 140,000, most of whom do four days a week of ladder training and one day a week arresting doctors for attempting to explode. To get around the problem, the British Government has introduced new tiers of policing, such as speed cameras and Highways Agency teams on motorways in chequerboard 4x4s, which look like police vehicles and have "traffic officer" emblazoned in the back window, but their main job is to clear up the mess after an accident. Which means, technically, they are Wombles.

Then you have community support officers, who have few powers and are really nothing more than neighbourhood-watch wardens in hi-viz jackets. If they see a Brazilian fox eating an apple in a bus shelter they must call for a proper police officer, who can't get there because it's night time and the station is shut, or because he hasn't had any fox training or because he's otherwise engaged on the top deck of a bus arresting a doctor for having a backpack full of baking powder and hair gel.

The fact is the British Government is churning out the laws and the only way they can be enforced is if ordinary people start shopping their fellow citizens. How long will it be before we will confide only in our oldest friends, and then only in a whisper, in case an agent of the state is listening? Today we are being reported for indicating a bit too early in our Ford Fiesta. Tomorrow, when they get around to making climate change scepticism a crime, and they will, the equivalent of StephenHarrison and Kev627 will shop you for leaving your TV on stand-by.

It all flies in the face of what I learned at school: you never shop anyone to the teachers. And it's all the wrong way around. Instead of setting up websites where people are exposed for breaking laws that shouldn't exist, I suggest we set one up that reveals the names and addresses of those who call for such laws to be imposed in the first place. I even have a name for such a thing:

In the meantime, though, I must thank the people who put up the signs outside my house. On these chilly summer evenings they came in very handy. As firewood.


The Ultimate Vindication of Joe McCarthy

Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy died 50 years ago. For a half century, elite establishmentarians-echoed (to some extent led) by the media-have moved heaven and earth to make certain succeeding generations swallowed their portrait of him as villainous.

Finally, America has the most thorough scholarly examination of his career in Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight against America's Enemies. This volume results from years of painstaking research by M. Stanton Evans-longtime journalist and author. Unsnarling the errors, distortions and deliberate falsehoods that have been spread regarding McCarthy's stormy five-year expos, of Soviet agents is nothing less than a full-time job.

Why is it necessary to set the record straight on so-called "McCarthyism" at this point? First and foremost, we have a mainstream media which go along with or are cowed by the "political correctness" police. Attempts to deal with today's deadly threat are met in many media quarters with charges of "Islamophobia." One radio talk-show host was driven off the air in Washington because he dared to lean on the Islamic community to speak out more clearly against suicide bombings and terrorist attacks.

Many in the "prestige" media seem quite comfortable with an airport security system that-for fear of arousing the ire of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-will wand an 85-year-old grandmother from Keokuk, Iowa and let an angry young male from Saudi Arabia zip through. And this despite an attack on our own soil-something that had not happened in McCarthy's time.

Senator McCarthy violated all the "political correctness" taboos of his day-long before that Orwellian term was invented. In that era, "political correctness" meant that almost anyone nailed as a Communist traitor was the victim of a "witch hunt."

Much of the mainstream media sympathized with Alger Hiss-even after that Soviet agent had gone to prison for lying about his treason. The late Newsweek correspondent Ralph de Toledano found that many of his colleagues stopped speaking to him after he blew the whistle on Hiss. Just days after Hiss's imprisonment, Joe McCarthy charged that the Hiss case was not an isolated scandal and that the State Department routinely hired and covered up the records of Communists and their friends....

The Facts

Media errors on McCarthy abound, even on such basics as which body of Congress of which he was a member. Evans identifies the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post as having carried articles mentioning "Senator Joe McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee. [HUAC]" One, McCarthy was a senator, never a member of the House. No senator can be a member of a House committee, let alone chairman of it. Two, if writers for the "prestige" media don't know that Congress is a bicameral legislature, how can we expect them to understand much else, including the difference between 205 and 57? Even the popular TV show "Touched by an Angel" in 1997 ran an episode imputing the Hollywood "blacklist" of Communist actors (portrayed as innocents) to HUAC which-it was implied-was run by Joe McCarthy.

The New York Times (the "newspaper of record") ran an obituary on an 88-year old professor named Oscar Shaftel who had refused to answer questions about Communist connections by "the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee headed by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy." The reality: That panel was headed by Senator William Jenner, not by McCarthy whose Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations had nothing to do with Shaftel.

After Evans persisted for six weeks (to no avail) in demanding that the Times do a correction, he went to AIM founder Reed Irvine, who wrote directly to the Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Sr. That did the trick. The correction finally appeared on a Labor Day Friday next to a correction on the identification of birds in Brooklyn.

It would be hard to find a more savage anti-McCarthy journalist than the gossip-mongering sensationalist Drew Pearson. No single member of the media of that time was more hell-bent on ruining lives of good Americans and smearing the reputations of those getting in his way.

On the floor of the Senate, McCarthy cited a Civil Service Commission security memo and sworn testimony of an ex-communist identifying David Karr-a legman for Pearson-as a Red agent, Communist Party member, a former reporter for the Communist Party's Daily Worker, and a writer for the Communist-front publication Fight. McCarthy said Karr's Red background manifested itself in Pearson's columns, which directed much of their venom at the senator.

A howl of protest went up from Senator Clinton Anderson (D-N.M.) and others that an "upstanding newsman" had been besmirched by McCarthy. But in more recent times, the release of decoded "Venona" Soviet documents revealed Karr as "a competent KGB source" and "a prominent Western financier," the latter because of what Evans calls "his linkage to the bizarre Moscow front man Armand Hammer."

But Pearson's choice of "ultra-left" legmen did not stop there. Blacklisted by History recounts the notoriously-infiltrated World War II agency-the Office of War Information (OWI). Among its employees, Evans reports, was Julia Bazer, who took the Fifth Amendment when asked if she were a Communist Party member. Bazer was the sister of Pearson reporter Andrew Older. Mr. Older had been identified by undercover operative Mary Markward as a Communist agent. His wife also had been so identified.

The most focused media smear on Senator McCarthy was Edward R. Murrow's totally distorted profile of the Wisconsin senator on his televised "See it Now" broadcast (See Aim Report "Looney Clooney Smears Senator McCarthy" - January-A, 2006). Murrow's attack on McCarthy included a film clip wherein Democrats on McCarthy's committee-in McCarthy's absence-poured sympathy on Annie Lee Moss. This despite the fact that Moss had been identified by undercover operative Markward as a member of the Communist Party of the District of Columbia. The FBI had become concerned that Moss had suddenly been shifted to the position of code clerk for the Army Signal Corps. McCarthy's not illogical question: Why would an Army cafeteria worker-a Communist-with no known background in this highly sensitive work be offered that job seemingly out of the blue? This came to McCarthy's attention when his panel was probing the remnants of the (Julius and Ethel) Rosenberg spy ring at Ft. Monmouth, where lax security procedures remained after the Rosenbergs were executed.

Evans notes that neither in the 2005 George Clooney film "Good Night and Good Luck," nor in the original 1954 Ed Murrow presentation is any evidence cited to indicate that Mrs. Moss was an innocent victim. In Murrow's case, the failure to tell the whole story might have been more excusable since many facts in the case were not publicly known then, "though had Murrow and Co. been the crack journalists they professed to be, they could have dug out the facts" from hearing transcripts. "In the case of the Clooney film, there is no excuse whatever, as the truth about the case is fully available to anyone who bothers to review the SACB [Subversive Activities Control Board] reports and archives of [the FBI]," writes the author. Clooney even admits he knew Annie Lee Moss was a Communist. The issue, he insists, was that "she has a right to face her accuser."

"If Clooney was indeed aware of the copious evidence on the case, as he should have been in presuming to inform the world about it, he certainly disguised this knowledge in his movie," Evans retorts. Evans' intrepid shoe-leather sleuthing unearthed an FBI report showing that days before the Senate hearing shown in the Murrow/Clooney shows, the Bureau had fully briefed the Democrats on McCarthy's committee that Annie Lee Moss was in fact a Communist. Yet these same committee Democrats sympathized with her at McCarthy's expense. Evans says by then, committee Democrats were aiding the Eisenhower administration's effort to bring down Senator McCarthy. Eisenhower was surrounded by elitists and Wall-Streeters who played on the generals' concern that the Monmouth probe would give the Army a bad name.

Much more here

A new threat to free speech

The comments below are from a worried Leftist but would seem to have potential applicability across the political spectrum

Under media radar, the Democrat-sponsored "Prevention of Violent Radicalism and Homegrown Terrorism" bill (H.R. 1955) passed the House at the end of October by a vote of 404 (including the entire Minnesota delegation) to 6. The bill was tagged as noncontroversial by the House leadership and is pending before the Senate. For those senators and citizens who remember history, the bill should be controversial, indeed.

Promoted as a relatively innocuous public safety measure, the bill directs money to the Department of Homeland Security for research on homegrown terrorist-Americans in our midst. While this may seem to make sense, the way the bill describes the "hidden enemy," and the powers inherent in the 10-member investigative commission it establishes, should raise concerns among Americans who remember history, no matter what their political leanings.

According to the bill, "homegrown terrorists" can be anyone who "... intimidate(s) or coerce(s) the United States government, the civilian population ... or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social belief," a definition broad enough to include Americans who organize mass marches on Washington to "coerce" changes in government policy.

The bill defines "violent radicals" as Americans who "...promot(e) extremist belief system(s) for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change..." - in other words, Americans who have not yet done anything illegal but who, commissioners believe, have thoughts that might lead to violence.

The bill does not target all thoughts (belief systems) that might result in violence, but only thoughts leading to "... force or violence ... to promote political, religious or social beliefs," which is exactly the kind of violence that might result whenever people gather to demonstrate for or against important issues, such as the Iraq war or abortion.

For at least 18 months this "Homegrown-Terrorism and Extremist Belief Commission" will be required to hold congressional hearings around the country, to uncover Americans with "political, religious or social" concerns who commissioners think might be "extreme" and/or potentially violent, whether any of these Americans has committed a crime or not. Virtually any politically, socially or religiously active person or group could be targeted by the commission to find out who is, and who is not, one of the "hidden enemy" among us.

Witnesses who refuse to testify can expect to be held in "contempt of Congress," as former members of the Bush administration like Harriet Myers have learned recently, and jailed. Witnesses who do testify but say things that commissioners or their staff think are not true can be charged with perjury, or lying to a federal official, as "Scooter" Libby found out. Either way, noncooperative witnesses can face up to a 10-year sentence.

Members of suspect political, religious and social groups, or Americans who might even know people the commission suspects - which certainly will include nonmainstream political parties, certain public advocacy groups, some churches and many mosques - can expect the "commissioners" will want to know ... "are you now, or have you ever been ... associated with extremists, violent radicals or homegrown terrorists?"

For those who do remember history, this should sound uncomfortably familiar. These are the kinds of questions Americans were compelled to answer when testifying before another "legislative commission" during the anti-communist McCarthy-era witch-hunts.

In 1938, the House set up the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to find the dangerous Americans among us, which provided the model for Sen. Joe McCarthy's ideological purges based on accusation and innuendo. But HUAC lasted long after McCarthy passed from the scene, and it was busily investigating anti-Vietnam War and civil rights activists when it was disbanded as part of post-Watergate reforms in 1975.

During its 40-year life, HUAC was used by Richard Nixon to catapult himself into national prominence in the Alger Hiss case. Noncooperative HUAC witnesses like the "Hollywood 10" were jailed for contempt of Congress. Others were blacklisted from employment, including Arthur Miller, Paul Robeson, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett, Clifford Odets, Pete Seeger, Richard Wright and many others. In Minnesota, the brother of J. Robert Oppenheimer (the "father" of the atomic bomb) lost his faculty job at the U for failing to "come clean" before HUAC.

HUAC-inspired "terror," that one's ideas or political associations would come under HUAC scrutiny, swept the country. And, once targeted, witnesses knew there was no escape except to accuse one's friends and colleagues, and many did. The careers of thousands of Americans were ruined.

Is it possible that the members of Congress have forgotten or don't know their own history? If this "Son of HUAC" becomes law, any political, religious or social activist is fair game for HUAC-like congressional hearings. And, we can expect that any person or group preparing to do anything other than watch TV during the upcoming Republican Convention in St. Paul will be hearing from the commission ... and will have to be prepared to answer the famous question ... "are you now, or have you ever been...?" And also be prepared to face jail for refusing to answer, or for getting the answer "wrong."


Politically correct swimming pools in Melbourne, Australia

Political correctness has made a splash at swimming pools - instructors have been told not to touch their students. Several swimming teachers have told the Sunday Herald Sun of the edict that came after parents complained their children's personal space had been invaded. One instructor from Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre said: "It's ridiculous. How can you teach someone to swim without occasionally touching them?"

"Sue" did not want to be identified for fear of losing her job. "I used to enjoy teaching swimming classes, but now I'm not so sure. Some of the magic has gone out of it," she said. Another teacher, "Mark", said: "The bottom line is that the parents are paying for these lessons and if they want their kids to learn to swim they need to let us hold and guide them occasionally."

A spokesman for Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre confirmed a complaint had been received from a parent and had been acted upon by staff at the centre. Mr Sahil Bhasin, operations manager at Melbourne City Baths, said it was ridiculously impractical to try to teach a child to swim without physical contact. "You're asking for a drowning if you try this," Mr Bhasin said. [The neurotic parent should have been told that they were unable to help her kid in the circumstances]



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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