Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin derangement syndrome spreads to Australia

How the Left hate normal, happy people!

Just imagine what the sneering left intelligentsia, in the United States and elsewhere, would have said if a Republican vice-presidential candidate had told CBS News that "when the stockmarket crashed [in 1929], Franklin Roosevelt got on television" and informed Americans what had happened. No doubt scores of left-liberal types would have lined-up to say the Republican Herbert Hoover, and not the Democrat Roosevelt, was in the White House when the Great Depression began, and regular TV broadcasting did not occur in the US until about 1941.

Yet the Democrat Joe Biden made these howlers in an interview with Katie Couric. She did not correct the vice-presidential candidate. This is the same Couric who grilled Sarah Palin in an interview which aired a few days later. The line of this interrogation turned on the thesis that the Governor of Alaska is not well enough informed to hold the second-highest office in the US.

Biden and Palin go head-to-head in their only debate on Friday (Sydney time). Both are able performers so, in scoring parlance, a draw is the likely outcome. However, the constant criticism of Palin by large sections of the predominantly left-liberal mainstream media means Biden will go into this verbal contest as favourite. The real outcome will turn on what impact the candidates have on voters in such swing states as Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Palin has undergone fierce and sometimes personal criticism from the left-intelligentsia, primarily because she is a conservative, Christian, married mother of five from the small town of Wasilla in Alaska. The feminist Maureen Dowd has depicted Palin as "the glamorous Pioneer Woman, packing a gun, a baby and a Bible". Professor Wendy Doniger, of the University of Chicago, has gone further, declaring that Palin's "greatest hypocrisy is her pretence that she is a woman". And the NBC News commentator Andrea Mitchell has been reported as maintaining that "only the uneducated would vote for Mrs Palin".

For her part, Palin has responded as well as possible to this criticism. She pointed to her experience as mayor of Wasilla (population 7000) and, more recently, Governor of Alaska. For an Australian comparison, the position of Alaskan governor would equate with the Tasmania premiership. Tasmania is Australia's smallest state but those who become its premier are invariably politically skilled. The former prime minister Joe Lyons, who was once premier of Tasmania, comes to mind.

Moreover, Palin responded to the Couric putdown that she has travelled very little outside of the US with a matter-of-fact depiction of her life so far: "I'm not one of those who maybe come from a background, you know, kids who perhaps graduate [from] college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go travel the world. No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs until I had kids."

Unlike most media commentators, Bill Clinton has run successfully for public office. The former Democrat president had a different take on Palin when interviewed by CNN's Larry King last week. He said he could only judge Palin from how he believes she is going in his home state of Arkansas "where half the people live in communities of less than 2500 and there are people who are pro-choice and pro-life and more than half the people have a hunting or fishing licence". He added that "they like families that hang together, that deal with adversity, that are proud of all their members". Clinton described Palin as an "appealing person" and praised John McCain's political acumen for choosing her as his running mate.

The anti-Palin ethos prevalent among left-liberals in America can also be found in Australia, at differing levels of intensity. For example, on September 17, the 7.30 Report presenter Kerry O'Brien introduced a report on Palin with a reference to "the pro-gun, pro-life mother of five". For the record, O'Brien does not mention his own family arrangements on either the 7.30 Report website or in his Who's Who In Australia entry. In the subsequent report, Tracy Bowden referred to the Governor of Alaska as "the moose-hunting, evangelical mother of five". Yes, we know.

Meanwhile The Age's house leftist, Catherine Deveny, has gone overboard in her sneering. In a recent column, she described Palin as "the closest thing Republican strategists could find to a man without a vagina", a "white trash trophy wife wearing glasses so she looks intellectual" and a "white trash moron". No need for repetition here, we got the abusive message the first time.

Even so, Deveny repeated the line last week, describing Palin as "a dangerous, divisive moron". Deveny is the embodiment of that part of Australian inner-city professional left which despises those who live middle-class lives in the suburbs and regional centres. Writing on August 6, she could hardly disguise her contempt for suburban Australia: "I can't tell you how often I seriously wish I were living in some outer suburb, content with signed and framed football jumpers on the wall, no bookshelves and a coffee table covered in remote controls, happy to read romance novels over my Cup-a-Soup".

Early in the presidential campaign, Barack Obama was reported at a private function as saying that small-town voters in the US were bitter and therefore took refuge in "guns or religion". He quickly learnt that contempt for suburban and rural America would not lead to political victory in November and he has not repeated such comments. It is most unlikely that Biden will run such a line against Palin in this week's debate. By the way, I will be watching and rooting for Palin.


Inverted class prejudice among the British media elite

The film-maker whose debut movie, about bourgeois Britons in Tuscany, has filled cinemas and been lauded by critics has attacked the titans of British cinema for shunning or stereotyping the middle classes. Joanna Hogg, the director of Unrelated, castigated figures such as Mike Leigh, Guy Ritchie and Richard Curtis for their misleading portrayal of the class system. She believes many in the cinema Establishment are interested in portraying only the working class and either consider bourgeois subjects too dull to carry a film or turn them into caricatures to please American audiences.

"So many film-makers who are themselves often middle class have considered films about the working classes more exotic and interesting," said Hogg, who has spent most of the past 20 years working on television soaps. "They have presumed that middle-class people do not have as many dilemmas or problems, so their lives are thought less interesting for films and therefore taboo."

Before making Unrelated, Hogg, 47, had been contemplating a film about the English middle classes for years but held back because she thought she would never be able to raise money for the project and assumed critics would "lay into my subject matter". Reviewers have, however, given high praise to Unrelated, which tells the story of a married woman in her forties who goes to stay with an old school friend in Tuscany. "So many cinema-goers are disenfranchised, as there are not enough British films to which they can relate," said Hogg, who raised the 250,000 pounds for Unrelated through friends and contacts. She made a point of avoiding film companies and the UK Film Council, which awards lottery money.

In addition to criticising directors' approaches to the middle class, she attacked the way they portrayed the working class. "Mike Leigh [who made Nuts in May and Vera Drake] is rather patronising, while Guy Ritchie [of Madonna and director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels] exaggerates the working-class characteristics."

She also attacked Curtis's films, such as Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, even though they do have middle-class characters at their core. "They are what Hollywood thinks is the British middle class," Hogg said. She is now making two more films that focus on the British middle class.


Where "Taking Race Into Account" Is Legitimate

I have written many times that I believe it is almost always illegitimate for the state to "take race into account," to use the current euphemism for employing racial preferences. Indeed, the only acceptable (to me) exception to such a prohibition I've found is the legitimacy of assigning, say, black police officers to go undercover to penetrate a black gang. (But even that exception is not without problems; see here and here.)

But continuing reflection on the common description of Clarence Thomas, and now Sarah Palin, as affirmative action selections, as I just discussed in my immediately preceding post, leads me to conclude that more needs to be said about some nooks and crannies of our public life where the rule barring consideration of race probably does not, and should not, apply. And, where "more needs to be said," I'm always happy to say it. As I wrote in my previous post,
Thomas was ... criticized as, in effect, an affirmative action hire by people who do not object in principle to affirmative action hires ... (and defended, of course, by people who do have principled objections to affirmative action hires in most situations). Of course being appointed to the Supreme Court is not "most situations," and neither is being nominated for vice president....
I now believe, however, that there is less inconsistency here than meets the eye. That's because I believe there are certain kinds of personnel decisions where there is, and should be, no bar to "taking race into account," and appointment to the Supreme Court (and certain other appointment decisions) and the selection of a vice-presidential nominee are two examples.

Before getting to those (and other) examples, however, let me first try to establish the principle that creates these exceptions. And to do that let me begin with an extreme example: marriage. Does anyone doubt that there should be no law restricting a person's right to choose, or reject, a marriage partner on the basis of race? Another example: voting. Liberals have been telling us incessantly that if Obama loses it will be because some white voters are racist and won't vote for a black candidate. But presumably even they don't believe such "race-conscious" behavior is, or can be made, illegal. Indeed, I suspect many, maybe even most, liberals would argue that a whites-only political party, a party that excludes blacks and Jews, has a right to exist and field candidates.

In short, there are some areas of life, both public and private, where civil rights protections simply do not, and should not, apply. But this is not simply a matter of there being no "rights" involved. It is true that no one has a"right" to be appointed to the Supreme Court, or selected to run for vice-president, but that's not precisely the point. After all, no one has a "right" to be accepted to college, either. But there's a big difference between the former and the latter: prospective Supreme Court justices or vice presidents have no "rights" in the matter of their selection whatsoever; the president, or presidential nominee, has total and unreviewable discretion regarding their selection (although that decision is subject to later review by the Senate in one case and the voters in the other).

College and job applicants, by contrast, although they have no right to be admitted or hired, do indeed have, and should have, the right to be judged in a manner that does not benefit or burden them because of their race. Or at least they would if the 14th Amendment and civil rights laws were fairly and reasonably interpreted and applied.

Thus, even if Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin were selected because of their race or sex (and, as I argued in my last post, I don't believe that is necessarily the case), no colorblind principle would have been violated, because such a principle does not and should not apply to those cases. Thus there is no inconsistency in conservatives lauding those appointments, although I do believe it remains inconsistent for liberals who approve of affirmative hiring across the board to denounce these two, and others they don't like, as affirmative action hires.

Source (See the original for links)

Spanking: A small smack is not child abuse

The article from Australia below is in part a response to this story of official bloody-mindedness

The NSW Department of Community Services thinks the children would be better in foster care than with a family member who smacks the bottoms of naughty children. Has the world gone mad or am I am missing something here?

While I was reading this shocking story, my kids were in a frenzy over some altercation that had quickly snowballed out of control, the way only kids can. On and on it went, until I heard myself shouting at the top of my voice for some peace and common sense. And that's all we can do, isn't it? Shout like a maniac until someone listens, though you have to wonder whether this traumatises both parent and child to a greater degree.

Of course, it was different in our day. Certainly, it was different in the days when the grandmother in the newspaper was a child. Spare the rod and spoil the child was the mantra back then.

I feel terribly sorry for this woman. She has cared for her four grandkids on and off for the last six years as their mother battled drug addiction. Surely she deserves some sympathy, not public humiliation. But some experts say what she allegedly did was unacceptable. I say to them, walk a mile in her shoes.

Bringing up happy, healthy, polite and caring children has never been easy, but it is getting more difficult because of the push for parenting to be so politically correct that there is no room for common sense and gut instinct.

I admire the work of Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci, but I do not support his push for a national ban on smacking. He has pushed for it since a 2006 foundation survey found most people thought smacking was acceptable. Mr Tucci wanted the Government to legislate against parents doing it. But the Australian Family Association argued that laws which meant the Government decided who was and was not a good parent would go too far.

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie dismissed it, saying that a smack on the bum never hurt anybody. And I think that is the belief of many of my generation.

Mr Tucci worries that when adults use physical punishment, it's usually because they're frustrated. He believes there's a risk of hurting the child because you're not in control of yourself. Of course there are derelict parents who lash out at their kids, but let's not confuse them with the 99 per cent who only wish to impose some boundaries.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, kids knew that if they behaved badly there would be consequences. Yes, often it was a smack on the bottom. But in all honesty it did us no permanent damage.

I wonder if the same is true of yelling. Verbal abuse is as destructive as physical abuse. And, yes, in a perfect world parents wouldn't yell or smack, and all children would be little angels. It doesn't work that way. I am with John Morrissey on this. The Australian Family Association spokesman says there is a big difference between a small smack and hurting or abusing a child.

In April, there was a push in Tasmania for a ban on smacking. Children's Commissioner Paul Mason told the ABC that corporal punishment taught children not to get caught and that violence was acceptable in resolving conflict. But doesn't it also teach kids not to repeat the same offence? Doesn't it impose on the child a sense that they've gone over the boundary and need to rein in their behaviour?

Of course, I am not supporting child abuse in any form, but there is a profound difference between a reproaching smack and an out-of-control slap or something worse. Most parents understand that, and surely our authorities should as well.

Flexibility and common sense are traits of good parents. It's about time the "experts" and the authorities displayed the same attributes.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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