Saturday, February 28, 2009

Protest of New York Post's Chimp Cartoon is an Attack on Rupert Murdoch, Black Activist Says

Three apologies were offered by New York Post editors and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, for an editorial cartoon said to compare President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee. None of these apologies were accepted. Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie says it is time to recognize the protests for what they are: revenge and an attempt to silence conservatives.

"When Al Shaprton was investigated for tax evasion, it was the New York Post that broke the story. Now Sharpton seems to be blowing this cartoon out of proportion to get even. I also think others are using ambiguous allegations in a larger attempt to punish Rupert Murdoch and his media empire for not toeing the liberal line," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "There is a tenuous link, at best, between this cartoon and Obama."

In a February 18 editorial cartoon in the New York Post, drawn by Sean Delonas, two policemen have shot a chimpanzee. One cop says to the other: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Al Sharpton calls the cartoon proof of the paper's "racism" and has led two protests at the Post's headquarters. He is now asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a waiver awarded to Rupert Murdoch - who as also owns the Fox News Channel - to own more than one newspaper and television station in a city.

A petition circulated by the NAACP claims: "Your publication sadly reminded me of the reality that even in 2009, when an African-American man holds the highest post in the nation, racism is alive and well in the United States." The NAACP petition also implies that the cartoon itself could encourage an attempt on Obama's life. Murdoch offered an apology to those who were offended, but noted that "[t]he only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation."

The cartoon specifically recalls a recent chimpanzee attack in Stamford, Connecticut. The depiction of the chimpanzee bears no physical resemblance to Obama. Furthermore, Obama is not the author of the economic "stimulus" legislation referred to in the cartoon. In his address to Congress on February 24, Obama noted: "I asked Congress to send me a recovery plan... I am grateful that this Congress delivered."

Project 21's Massie noted: "If these critics had tried to tie the cartoon to black congressmen such as James Clyburn or Charlie Rangel, they might have had a leg to stand on. They aimed bigger, and this misfire exposes them. Sharpton is now asking the FCC to investigate the validity of Murdoch's media holdings. It's just another step along the path to their true goal of silencing conservative speech. This is just a battle in a larger war to reinstate the so-called 'Fairness Doctrine' so liberals can impose their political agenda on a free-market-driven talk radio."

"The criticism of cartoonists and parodies is also selective," added Massie. "Why aren't Sharpton and the NAACP complaining about much more blatant Where was the outrage when syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall called Condoleezza Rice 'Aunt Jemima' and depicted her calling herself a 'house nigga'? How about when Jeff Danziger portrayed Rice as Prissy from 'Gone With the Wind'? Their failure to condemn those blatantly racist acts exposes the petty political motivations of their current attack on Murdoch and the Post."


Fear Of Massive Deficits And Tax Increases Is "Insensitive"

Hauling out the most overworked and overheated rhetorical weapon in the Democrats' arsenal, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and others accused the Republican governors who are threatening to refuse some of the "stimulus" funds for their states as, you guessed it, insenstive. Other Democratic critics weren't so, well, sensitive.
Critics such as Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina say the Republican resistance is a political, even racist, ploy to withhold critical help from the nation's poorest and most hard-hit communities.
Indeed, Clyburn, the Democratic Majority Whip in the House, seems to view the Republican opposition as almost a racist conspiracy:
The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition. Has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina. These four governor's represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that.... All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans.
Here's an example of the racist slap, as administred by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (did I mention that he's not white?), as quoted on Bloomberg (linked above):
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he is rejecting $100 million in unemployment assistance in the stimulus plan because it would force the state to raise business taxes to pay for the extra aid once the federal dollars run out. "It requires us to make a permanent change in our law," he said. "It's like spending a dollar to get a dime."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said the same thing. But that just proves Clyburn's case: everybody knows that whatever Southern Republicans do is racist, no matter what they say.


Triumph for human rights and psycho jihadists

Comment from Britain by Rod Liddle

This has been an excellent week for Muslim psychopaths. First, Abu Qatada - "Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" - has been given leave to stay in Britain by the European Court of Human Rights - and has also been bunged some money to compensate him for having been banged up in the first place.

And no sooner have we cleared the champagne flutes away and banished our hangovers after this celebration than it is reported that Binyam Mohamed is on his way back too. Binyam has been in Guantanamo Bay for a while, having been accused by the Americans of wandering around the Hindu Kush looking for infidels to murder, like a sort of well-armed Norman Wisdom with a grievance. He says he's innocent and has been tortured by America's flunkeys.

Binyam is an Ethiopian who was never awarded full citizenship here, so it's a real stroke of luck that we end up with custody of the man. Old Abu, meanwhile, is wanted on terrorism charges in half of Europe and Jordan as well, but the European Court has decided in our favour: we can keep him while it mulls things over for a while.

Qatada was the supposed inspiration and spiritual guide for the fabulously inept shoe bomber Richard Reid, the chap who tried to blow up an aeroplane with explosives hidden in his trainers but forgot to take a lighter with him and couldn't manage to strike a match properly. Qatada also believes that Muslim states should have no truck with infidel cockroach western democracies, although he seems to have quite enjoyed living here these past few years, denouncing the Jews and playing jihadist war games on his PC.

In this he is a little like the giggling, bearded Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who railed against our filth and decadence for years until he was peremptorily deported to Lebanon, whereupon he immediately pleaded to be allowed to return home to his semi in Edmonton, in case he was blown to pieces by an Israeli shell. No, mate, you stay where you are: should have been a bit nicer while you were here, shouldn't you? There is a certain train of thought that insists all these people should be either imprisoned indefinitely or deported to one or another dusty Middle Eastern satrapy, where their views might accord with those of a greater proportion of the population. My own view is that they shouldn't have been allowed into the country in the first place.

In almost all cases we knew they weren't the sort of people with whom you might share a convivial weekend, but were implacable Islamists who loathed us even more than the countries from which they fled. But in most cases we couldn't send them back because those countries might treat them in an uncivilised manner - pulling out their fingernails, shooting them in the back of the head and so on.

The fact that each arriviste yearned for regimes in their native countries even more unpleasant than the ones from which they had escaped, and also to blow us up at the same time, cuts no ice with international law. International law, then, must change. It was constructed in less barbarous times - the times of Hitler, Stalin, people like that.

Once here, though, and granted citizenship, they should be given due process. Treating people decently and with due process is about our only trump card in this wearying and debilitating battle against the jihadists. They, of course, think our adherence to the letter of the law is a weakness to be derided, which is why it is such a propaganda coup when they really are transgressed against, when they are treated differently from how we would treat any suspected criminal. So much for your democracy, they say.

Abu Qatada should not have been allowed into the country, but once here he should not have been imprisoned indefinitely when there was clearly insufficient evidence to convict; the same applies to Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, still incarcerated in Belmarsh while the Americans cobble together evidence against him by fair means or foul. If we are stupid enough to let them in, then we should be stupid enough to treat them like normal human beings too.


Black Fatherhood In The Age Of Obama

Former rap producer and family policy advocate Bill Stephney asks President Obama to consider a comprehensive analysis of fatherhood in America, not just the "Deadbeat Dads," but also the "Denied Dads."

In his Father's Day speech of 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama decried the state African-American fatherhood: "Too many fathers. are missing," Mr. Obama said, "missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."

Mr. Obama's speech focused on those fathers not "stepping up." This "deadbeat dad" characterization winds its way effortlessly through political discourse and news coverage. Yes, there are too many fathers who have been unsupportive of their families. But what about those fathers who, while putting forth efforts to be responsible parents, are discouraged from doing so? What about the other side of the "deadbeat dad" phenomenon: the "denied dad"? What about the fathers who've had to turn themselves into a multi-tasking blend of Dr. King, Thurgood Marshall, Mahatma Ghandhi and Suge Knight just to obtain a meaningful presence in their children's lives?

Men like Chris Gardner, who transformed the challenges of being a homeless single father into tremendous success as a millionaire stockbroker and motivational speaker, inspiringly portrayed by Will Smith in the box office smash "The Pursuit Of Happyness."

Or men like Wesley Autrey, the New York construction worker - dubbed the "Subway Hero" - who jumped onto tracks to save a man from an oncoming train because he didn't want his two nearby daughters to witness a tragedy.

The president, despite growing up without his own father, the late Barack Obama, Sr., is no stranger to positive fatherhood. One needn't be too intrusive into the personal affairs of the First Family to observe from afar, the warm, mutual love between two precious daughters and a doting, devoted father.

In that Father's Day speech last year, the president missed an opportunity to discuss those fathers who do make every attempt to fulfill their moral, spiritual, ethical and financial obligations as parents. These fathers have been rebuffed by the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, harmful government family policies, a faulty family law process, too many mothers conditioned to be indifferent and sometimes hostile to father relevance, and a popular culture that often parodies fatherhood literally into cartoonishness. My friend Donald is one of those "denied dads."

One Father's Story

Donald is currently married to a wonderfully supportive wife, and they have a precocious two-year-old boy. But Donald is also divorced. After a brief marriage, he separated from his ex-wife, with whom he had a daughter. My friend Donald did not spend any time with his daughter this past Christmas. In fact, since 2004, Donald has not spent a Christmas - or any day, for that matter - with his daughter, despite paying child support, attending court-ordered parenting classes, retaining court-ordered therapists and law guardians, and obtaining contempt orders and awards of lawyer reimbursement fees against his ex-wife. For all the lip service paid to encouraging responsible fatherhood, actually facilitating it has been another story.

Donald is a hard-working family man, an African-American father who has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees (mostly with lawyers indifferent to his family's welfare or the law) attempting to remain a meaningful presence in his daughter's life. A judge last year opined over Donald's fight to co-parent his daughter: "Affirmative action needs to be taken to ensure that she is permitted to love and have a relationship with her father as well as her mother." Donald's struggle for his daughter was even featured in the July 2008 issue of Ebony Magazine. He was lucky. Most "denied dads" don't get that kind of exposure.

Thabiti Boone, a Brooklyn-based community and family activist (chosen as a "CNN Hero" in 2007), who raised his now-adult daughter alone as a struggling single father, tells stories of being turned down for support by New York social service agencies because he wasn't a mother. Harlem educator Kevin Williams was denied court-enforced child support while he was a custodial parent. In the tragic case last year of Long Island mother Leatrice Brewer, who stabbed and drowned her three young children to death, the fathers of her children had petitioned local family courts to award custody to them, citing Ms. Brewer's obvious mental illness and instability. The courts rebuffed the fathers, cementing a horrific fate for their children.

The Problem of Missing Fathers

For many African-American families and communities, father disengagement and marginalization has become not a cultural shame, but a cultural norm. According to a recent Child Trends DataBank report, 69.5% of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers, in comparison to 47.9% of Hispanic children, 25.4% of White children, and 16.2% of Asian/Pacific Islander children. Most Black, two-parent families with children don't break up - they never form to begin with.

So, when we examine the severe disparities in educational outcomes between, let's say, African-American and Asian-American children, why are we so reluctant to consider the radical difference in how families are structured?

How Public Policy Made It Worse

These problems were brewing back in 1965, when a little-known Assistant Secretary of Labor (and later New York senator), Daniel Moynihan, issued a study titled "Crisis of the Negro Family: The Case For National Action." In the report, Moynihan argued: "At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family. It was by destroying the Negro family under slavery that white America broke the will of the Negro people. Although that will has reasserted itself in our time, it is a resurgence doomed to frustration unless the viability of the Negro family is restored."

The condition of the Black family, and of absent Black fathers, was called within the report "a tangle of pathology." Moynihan's clumsy use of the term "pathology" to describe family formation (or lack thereof) for 1960s African-Americans created a political firestorm, and undermined the harsh but incredibly accurate family observations in the report.

Responding to the Moynihan report, sociologist Herbert J. Gans declared: "The matriarchal family structure and the absence of a father have not yet been proven pathological, even for the boys who grow up in it." The theory that held sway from the 60s through the 80s - presumably from experienced sociologists, thinkers and analysts - was that Black families were more "resilient" than even their White, two-parent, middle class counterparts because of "larger-than-life" single mothers. These views may have seemed complimentary to some African-Americans at the time, but it obscured the reality - a reality that saw families drawn into deeper forms of social disconnection, poverty and violence. What soon developed was a malady not in existence even during slavery and Jim Crow: fatherless Black housing projects and neighborhoods. As communities became fatherless, they also became man-less. The removal of Black adult males from these areas (due to homicide, incarceration, unemployment, military service, drug treatment, mental institutionalization and divorce) occurred at a rate usually reserved for high-casualty wars.


In the 1992 best-selling book, "Two Nations: Black, Separate, Hostile and Unequal," author Andrew Hacker quoted the now-infamous observation of Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin, stating that the problem with so many black single mother families was "not the lack of a male presence, but the lack of a male income."

In essence, in Cherlin's view (and that of many others of that generation), fathers served no particular purpose to families other than to monetarily fund single mothers and their children. It was the "Daddy-as-ATM" theory. This "theory" served as the engine that still drives public policy to focus on aggressive child support collection from fathers, rather than encouraging strong, comprehensive relationship (moral, spiritual, ethical and financial) connections between fathers, mothers and children.

It has been nothing short of amazing how the 30-year campaign that essentially promoted single Black motherhood and "fathers-are-not-necessary" policy (see the Diahann Carroll/James Earl Jones classic 70s film, Claudine, for cinematic example), has almost been obliterated from our present-day discourse on family responsibility. To paraphrase the adage: Failure doesn't have a single-parent. It indeed is orphan.

For all the criticism flung directly at hip-hop (some of it valid), many rappers have revealed through song and statement, how far off the mark the social scientists of the 60s and 70s actually were. From Tupac and Biggie, to Jay Z and Juelz Santana, the "had to grow up my own `cause Pops bounced" rhyme composition has become an album staple in the genre. Tupac told MTV News shortly before his death that "growing up without a father is what made me cold and bitter."

What President Obama Can Do

Next year will be the 45th Anniversary of the Moynihan report. President Obama should consider revisiting and updating it. One highly effective move by the president would be to recruit the First Lady, Michele Obama, to lend her status legal experience and credibility to a re-examination of the report, along with a current assessment of the critical issues that have so divided many families, such as the high out-of-wedlock birthrate, and radically fatherless African-American and urban neighborhoods.

Mrs. Obama currently commands a respect that has been generally reserved for cherished figures such as Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz. Not only did she evidence unflagging support for her husband, she was critical to his success during primaries. (Do we truly believe that Mr. Obama dominated Black women's vote during the primary because of his smooth jumper from 15 feet out?) Their daughters, Malia and Sasha conduct themselves with a grace that seems sampled from their parents. Michelle and her brother Craig were raised to exemplary success on Chicago's South Side by her mother and late, cherished father. According to a 2008 New York Times piece, Mrs. Obama loved her father so much "that she would curl up in his lap even as an adult."

By engaging her own personal story, her advocacy on family issues could be incredibly crucial in stressing the ways in which connected fathers can positively impact the lives of their daughters, especially for communities where the majority of girls are raised fatherless - leaving them highly vulnerable in so many ways. Let the campaign for healthy family development emerge with someone who knows well the value of responsible parenthood.

Donald and Me

Back to Donald. He has more legal hearings coming up, with the hope that the courts in his area will one day commit to their statutory and compelling public interest responsibility to enforce his parenting rights, and his daughter the right to benefit from his involvement.

How do I know Donald? Well, the ex-wife denying him access to his daughter is also my ex-girlfriend, with whom I have a wonderful son, born unfortunately without the benefit of his parents being married. After several years of being denied court-ordered access to my son, I petitioned for custody in 1998. Donald and I encountered each other during those custody hearings, within which all of us were mired. He had just married my ex. At the time, we only shared an occasional, stoic glance. Yet, we held the door open for each other in the courtroom a couple of times, in a quiet attempt to show that even under the most difficult of circumstances, sometimes brothers just have to put it all behind us and cooperate. In 1999, I was awarded residential custody of our son by an African-American judge. By 2000, the court declared me my son's "permanent sole custodial parent." Donald and I would occasionally see one another when he would drop my son off after a visit. In 2003, we met up and made a pact to continue to work together for the benefit of our children, who are brother and sister. I hadn't spoken to Donald for four years when we reconnected in 2007 - only to find out that we were kindred spirits in circumstance more than even I had imagined.

I had been our son's custodial parent for nearly ten years when our mutual ex, after many legal attempts too numerous to quantify here, regained custody of him some six months ago. Despite my having a court order to split summer vacation time and the holiday season with our son, our mutual ex, once again, has refused to allow him to visit me. My entire family, which also includes his ten year-old brother and six year-old sister (who only know life with him living with us) were crushed not have him around during the holiday season for the first time in their lives. Needless to say, Donald and his young daughter were not allowed to enjoy and part of the holiday together, either. Like Donald, I'm on my way back to court, too. There are moments where I get the feeling that some would rather see us do drive-bys on one another than cooperate for the best interests of our children.

The next time the holidays roll around, hopefully Donald and I will be able to celebrate with our children without difficulty. But another lovely gift I'd like to see under our tree from our new president would be an honest and fair reform of family policy in this nation, and a return to healthier, more cohesive families and communities. Now that's a Santa you can believe in.



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.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Diversity is the last thing we need

To be in favor of diversity as the modern liberal defines it is to be intolerant of opposing views. The case of Ben Stein and the University of Vermont.

UVM President Dan Fogel announced that [Ben] Stein, whom Fogel had invited to address UVM's commencement in May, would not be coming after all. Fogel said that his selection of Stein generated an intense protest, that he received hundreds of angry e-mails over the weekend, and that after he shared these "profound concerns" with Stein, Stein "immediately and most graciously declined our commencement invitation."

- Burlington Free Press, 2-3-2009
If President Fogel were to receive thousands of e-mails protesting Stein's withdrawal, what do you suppose he would do? Modern liberals wield the mighty shield of diversity to deflect all manner of criticisms regarding their intentions and their results as they seek to redefine accepted behavior and speech. Liberalism's interpretation and subsequent de facto enforcement of what they call diversity has condemned some opinions and has advocated and defended others. But how can speech be limited in the name of diversity?

Obvious contradictions compel me to analyze how liberals define diversity and by what ways and means they are prone to use to enforce it.

Quite often liberals condemn the expression of dissenting opinions in the name of diversity. That's like an opponent of the death penalty sentencing those who disagree with their view to death. If one values diversity, then those who oppose should be welcome. If all parties share the same opinions, there is no intellectual diversity.

Consider colleges that resist ROTC programs and military recruitment on campus. They believe that the use of military force to settle disputes is barbaric. They prefer diplomacy and compromise. They fear that a strong military will tend to encourage imperialism and insensitivity to the needs and opinions of less powerful nations. They claim to value diversity. They believe that diversity exposes people to disparate customs and opinions that broaden one's perspective and allow for a deeper understanding of the human experience.

Liberals believe that those who lack exposure to diversity are at an intellectual disadvantage when presented with complex problems involving people with disparate backgrounds and values. They are mentally rigid and shallow because they have been sheltered by an environment with no variety of opinion and that does not value new ideas. They are less able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment because they have no experience coping with new ideas and situations because they have only associated with people who are just like them. They have lost the capability to adapt because they have never had to. They are considered the intellectual equivalent of a herd of stampeding buffalo; they travel together as a herd and dare not stray. They are regarded as souls who are more likely to be dismissive (and seemingly intolerant) of those not like them because they simply cannot see things from any perspective except their own.

Having made the case for diversity, why do they seek to silence those on campus who want to participate in ROTC or would like to encourage young people to join the military? These are people with different perspectives born of different experiences and customs; the very definition of diverse, they should be welcome, but they are not.

If something doesn't add up, check your premise. In this case we assume that liberals are being genuine when they advocate diversity. In fact, liberals have redefined diversity to mean the enforcement of a strict code that has well-defined acceptable views and behaviors, and the vigorous opposition to all those who do not comply. To advocate diversity as the liberals define it is to accept certain beliefs as untouchable. If you want to know if you meet the criteria to be defined as an advocate of diversity, you need only check your opinions against the accepted views that modern liberalism has mandated that an enlightened person must hold.

Consider what often happens when controversial conservatives such as Stein are scheduled to appear on a liberal campus; often students and faculty insist that the invitation be retracted, and at the very least they protest and disrupt the event. It's almost funny; those who believe in diversity should protest only when someone with controversial views is silenced, not when they are allowed to speak. In this case Stein is guilty of holding controversial views regarding intelligent design. Look at how this slice of academia has responded to a diverse opinion.

Take another example. Liberals believe that America is the source of most of the ills in this world. They believe that America is an imperialist nation that has unfairly dominated the world by means of violence and political oppression. They believe that had it not been for America's caustic effect on the earth, all nations would be living in harmony with each other and with nature.

Now, with this in mind, imagine that someone disparages America, admonishes it, insults it - how would a person that values diversity react? That's easy. He would agree; he would then make some statement to separate himself from America proper by using words like "they" and "it". He would not feel insulted because he does not consider himself part of the "bad" America. As a liberal, he considers himself part of the solution to the "America" problem. He would then feel a sense of superiority to those "bad" Americans who are causing the rest of the world such a problem.

How would he react to someone who instead defended America? Well, if America is bad, and a person is defending it, then he must be bad too. The diversity-acceptable response would be to disparage the America defender and express indignation at such cave-man like thick-skulled backwoods ignorance, after which the proper feeling would be one of superiority; since you get it and he doesn't.

The acceptable response is not to recognize that his opinions have just as much right to be heard as yours, it is not to use logic and reason to examine the validity of his statements, it is not to accept his views into the community of ideas, nor is it to feel pride that you live in a country where a man can speak his mind. In short, the politically correct response is to be rigid, subjective, and dismissive.

So to be in favor of diversity as the modern liberal defines it is to be intolerant of opposing views. Diversity now requires the acceptance of myriad positions regarding topics ranging from A to Z. Modern diversity demands that the only acceptable viewpoints are those that have been approved by the powers that be.

Think of the last time you heard a liberal institution announce a policy advocating diversity. Doesn't that really mean that there are certain viewpoints that are taboo? Doesn't that mean that opposition to certain accepted beliefs will not be tolerated? If a diversity policy were legitimate, the only way to be in violation of it would be to prevent someone from expressing a diverse opinion. How can someone violate a diversity policy by disagreeing with the powers that be? One can violate a diversity policy in such a manner only if said policy statement is simply a euphemism for the oppression of dissent.

What we need is the open and free exchange of ideas. When the liberal powers that be step in to be the arbiter for proper speech, they also become the oppressor of those who dissent. As the modern liberal defines it, the last thing we need more of is diversity.


Some wisdom from a man who escaped the Bolsheviks in 1919

At the Tiflis railway terminal, where Ouspensky stopped (or rather was halted) on his way from St. Petersburg, Bolshevism manifested itself as "terrifying cries and shouts. heard on the platform, quickly followed by several shots." A soldier told passengers that he and his comrades had executed a "thief." By morning they had executed three more thieves. The abuse of language is characteristic. In any case, shooting summed up Bolshevism, which, having "no constructive program," could only destroy and did so prodigiously and gleefully. Ouspensky anticipates Solzhenitsyn in identifying Bolshevism (Marxism) as a pernicious German invention seized on by Lenin and his followers to justify their orgy of violence against a world they hated because it had the temerity to exist apart from their desires and wishes. "As a general rule," writes Ouspensky in the fourth letter, "Bolshevism based itself on the worst forces underlying Russian life."

Ouspensky repeats a refrain in all five letters that Bolshevism, being barbarism with a fancy vocabulary, constitutes a threat not only in Russia, but anywhere, hence also everywhere, because it is a destabilizing condition of ordered life, so arduously achieved, always to carry with it "barbarian forces existing inside [the] society, hostile to culture and civilization." I could not help connecting a recent remark made by Sean Gabb in a Brussels Journal entry with the foregoing words by Ouspensky.

In a discussion of "hate speech" laws and their selective enforcement, Gabb notes that, "the soviet socialists and the national socialists kept control by the arbitrary arrest and torture or murder of suspected opponents," but that these methods are currently "not. acceptable in England or in the English world." Nevertheless, writes Gabb, censorious speech-legislation involving intimidating criminalization of certain words or verbal attitudes "has nothing really to do with politeness," but is, rather, "about power." So it is as well in the United States and Canada. Wherever governments and elites seek to control expression, whether or not as Gabb observes it has to do ostensibly with "diversity and inclusiveness," the real agenda is to achieve "the unlimited power to plunder and enslave us, while scaring us into the appearance of gratitude for our dispossession."

I would say that "hate crime" and "hate speech" laws represent a trial balloon of totalitarian methods. Such methods are barbarous. They betray the basic decency of the Western achievement. They take root in "the worst forces," as Ouspensky says, "underlying our life." Now "ought" is a counterfactual word. But it strikes me that if history taught only one lesson to the civilized it would be that as soon as any visibly power-hungry group succeeds in an agenda of intimidation, no matter how minor, sensible people dedicated to their own freedom ought to respond with all necessary resistance until the aggressors have themselves been intimidated into a retreat. Better indeed to quash such attempts before their first success, but that is a more difficult proposition. Ouspensky's book explains what happens when timidity rather than vigor is the keynote of response to internal barbarism. So does a great library of other books, all of which came later, however, than Ouspensky's.

Ouspensky's invocation of "The Law of Opposite Ends" also has relevance to our condition and invites meditation. The economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere has an ideological taproot - the same one that gives rise to laws that punish conscience. Whatever President Obama and Speaker of the House Pelosi think their so-called stimulus plan is going to do, it is a certainty that its measures will deepen the misery and destroy even more wealth. Ominously, the promulgation of the plan requires, to borrow Ouspensky's phrase, "loud and fierce denunciations" of those who oppose it, after due analysis, on reasoned arguments and positive principles.

"Letters from Russia" gives us a snapshot of what turned out after all to be but the beginning of Russia's long woes - and Eastern Europe's and to this day China's and North Korea's and Cuba's. Letters from Russia stands not only among the objective documents of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War; it also stands among the library of books that discuss the nature of ideology - and the practice of propaganda as the verbal aspect of terrorist coercion. One can detect certain phrases in Orwell - in his essays and in 1984 - that suggest he might have read Letters from Russia. Of direct references to the Letters, except in a biography of Ouspensky, I have seen, as best I recollect, precisely none. It is a pity.

More here

United States of Argentina: How inflation turned a rising power into a pauper

By Philip Jenkins

Anyone not alarmed by the state of the U.S. economy is not paying attention. As our Dear Leader begins his term, the theory of very big government has the support of an alarmingly broad political consensus. Despite the obvious dangers-devastating inflation and the ruin of the dollar-the United States seems pledged to a debt-funded spending spree of gargantuan proportions.

In opposing this trend, critics face the problem that the perils to which they point sound very theoretical and abstract. Perhaps Zimbabwe prints its currency in multi-trillion units, but that's a singularly backward African dictatorship: the situation has nothing to do with us. Yet an example closer to home might be more instructive. Unlike Zimbabwe, this story involves a flourishing Western country with a large middle class that nevertheless managed to spend its way into banana-republic status by means very similar to those now being proposed in Washington.

The country in question is Argentina, and even mentioning the name might initially make any comparison seem tenuous. The United States is a superpower with a huge economy. Argentina is a political and economic joke, a global weakling legendary for endemic economic crises. Between them and us, surely, a great gulf is fixed. Yet Argentina did not always have its present meager status, nor did its poverty result from some inherent Latin American affinity for crisis and corruption. A century ago, Argentina was one of the world's emerging powers, seemingly destined to outpace all but the greatest imperial states. Today it is . Argentina. A national decline on that scale did not just happen: it was the result of decades of struggle and systematic endeavor, led by the nation's elite. As the nation's greatest writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once remarked, only generations of statesmanship could have prevented Argentina from becoming a world power.

For Americans, the Argentine experience offers multiple warnings, not just about how dreadfully things can go wrong but how a nation can reach a point of no return. Not only did Argentina squander its many blessings, it created a situation from which the society could never recover. Argentines still suffer from the blunders and hubris of their grandparents without any serious likelihood that even their most strenuous efforts will make a difference. A nation can get into such a situation easily enough, but getting out is a different matter. A corrupted economy can't be cured without being wiped out and started over.

It is hard, looking at the basket case Argentina has become, to imagine what an economic powerhouse the country was before World War II. From the 1880s, Argentina was, alongside the U.S. itself, a prime destination for European migrants. Buenos Aires was one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, in a select club that included London, Paris, Berlin, and New York City. Argentina benefited mightily from foreign investment, which it used wisely to create a strong infrastructure and an excellent system of free mass education. It had the largest and most prosperous middle class in Latin America. When World War I began, Argentina was the world's tenth wealthiest nation.

Right up to the 1940s, American and European economists struggled to explain the glaring contrast between booming Argentina and slothful Australia. As many studies pointed out, both countries had begun at a roughly similar point, as agricultural producers dependent on fickle world markets. Yet Australia remained stuck in colonial status while Argentina made the great leap forward to the status of an advanced nation with an expanding industrial base and sophisticated commerce.

So what happened? Certainly the country was hit hard by the depression of the 1930s, but so were other advanced nations that ultimately recovered, and Argentina profited from intense wartime demand for primary products.

The country was killed by political decisions, and the primary culprit was Juan Peron. He dominated political life through the 1940s and ruled officially as president from 1946 to 1955, returning briefly in the 1970s. Although he did not begin the process, he completed the transformation of Argentine government so that the state became both an object of plunder and an instrument for plunder.

Peron came from a fascist and corporatist mindset, which became more aggressively populist under the influence of his second wife Eva. They aimed their rhetoric against the nation's rich, a designation that was swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated. To equalize the supposed struggle between the rich and the dispossessed, the Perons exalted the liberating role of the state. The bureaucracy swelled alarmingly as nationalization brought key sectors of the economy under official control. Government bought loyalty through a massive program of social spending while fostering the growth of labor unions, which became intimate allies of the governing party. Argentina came to be the most unionized nation in Latin America. Peron also ended any pretense of the independence of the judiciary, purging and intimidating judges about whom he had any doubts and replacing them with minions.

The Peronist model-a New Deal on steroids-evolved into an effective clientelism, in which party overlords and labor bosses ruled through a mixture of corruption and violence. Clientelism, in effect, means the annexation of state resources for the benefit of political parties and private networks. Right now, both the word and the concept are not terribly familiar to Americans, but this is one Latin American export that they may soon need to get used to.

As high taxes and economic mismanagement took their toll, the Perons blamed the disasters on class enemies at home and imperialism abroad, but the regime could not survive the loss of the venerated Eva. After attempting briefly to swing back to the center, Juan Peron was overthrown and driven into Spanish exile. Later governments tried varying strategies to reclaim Argentina's lost splendors and some enjoyed success, but Peron's curse endured. Even when his party was driven underground, its traditions remained: demagogic populism, a perception of the state as a device for enriching supporters and punishing foes, and a contempt for economic realities. Utopian mass movements inspired by Peronist ideas and charisma segued easily into the far-left upsurge of the 1960s, when Argentina gave birth to some of the world's most dangerous terrorist and guerrilla movements. By 1976, the military intervened to stave off the imminent collapse of the state and launched the notorious Dirty War that killed thousands.

Since 1976, Argentine economic policies have lurched from catastrophe to catastrophe. The military junta borrowed enormously with no serious thought about consequences, and the structures of Argentine society made it impossible to tell how funds were being invested. Foreign debt exploded, the deficit boomed, and inflation approached 100 percent a year. Economic meltdown had disastrous political consequences. By 1982, like many other dictatorships through history, the Argentine junta tried to solve its domestic problems by turning to foreign military adventures. And like other regimes, they found that their control over military affairs was about as weak as their command of the economy. Military defeat in the Falkland Islands destroyed the junta. By 1983, a civilian president was in power once more. But nothing could stop the nosedive. Inflation reached 672 percent by 1985 and 3,080 percent by 1989. The disaster provoked capital flight and the collapse of investor confidence, not to mention the annihilation of middle-class savings. In the words on one observer, Jose Ignacio Garc-a Hamilton, the nation became "an international beggar with the highest per capita debt in the world."

Another civilian president, Carlos Menem, took office in 1989, and despite his Peronist loyalties he initially tried to restore sanity through a program of privatization and deregulation. But events soon proved that Menem was only following a familiar pattern whereby a new regime would speak the language of reform and moderation for a couple of years before facing a showdown with the underlying realities of Argentine society. Menem could not overcome the overwhelming inertia within the country, the juggernaut pressures toward the growth of the state, to bureaucratization and regulation, and the destruction of private initiative and free enterprise. Between 1991 and 1999, Argentine public debt burgeoned from 34 percent of GDP to 52 percent. During the same decade, government public debt more than doubled as a percentage of GDP. These burdens stifled private investment so that productive sectors of the economy languished.

Economic disaster led inevitably to a collapse of social confidence and the evaporation of loyalty to the state. The more heavily the country was taxed and regulated, the more Argentines took their transactions off the books, creating a black economy on par with that of the old Soviet Union. In terms of paying their taxes, Argentines are about as faithful as the Italians to whom most have blood ties. Tax evasion became a national sport, second only to soccer in the Argentine consciousness, and provided another stumbling block to fiscal integrity. The collapse of respect for authority also extended to the law: courts are presumed to operate according to bribes and political pressure.

Systematic corruption has had horrifying implications for national security. After all, once you establish the idea that the state is for sale, there is no reason not to offer its services to foreign buyers. One spectacular example of such outsourcing occurred in 1994, when Islamist terrorists blew up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85. The investigation of the massacre was thoroughly bungled, reportedly because the Iranian government paid Menem $10 million. It is trivial to list the many other allegations of corruption and embezzlement surrounding Menem: what else is politics for, if not to enrich yourself and your clients?

In 2001-02, Argentine fortunes reached depths hitherto unplumbed. A debt-fueled crisis provoked a run on the currency, leading the government to freeze virtually all private bank accounts for 12 months. At the end of 2001, the country defaulted on its foreign debt of $142 billion, the largest such failure in history. With the economy in ruins, almost 60 percent of Argentines were living below the poverty line. Street violence became so intense that the president was forced to flee his palace by helicopter.

Since 2002, yet another new government has presided over an illusory economic boom before being manhandled by the ugly ghosts of Juan and Evita. Those specters were on hand to whisper their excellent advice to a new generation: if you face a crisis caused by excessive government spending, borrowing, and regulation, what else do you do except push even harder to spend, borrow, and regulate? Over the past two years, new taxes and price freezes have again crippled the economy, bringing power blackouts and forced cuts in production. Public debt stands at 56 percent of GDP, and inflation runs 20 percent. Last October, the government seized $29 billion in private pension funds, hammering the final nail in the coffin of the old middle classes. Judging by credit default swap spreads on government debt, the smart money is now betting heavily on another official default before mid-year. The Argentine economy may not actually be dead yet, but it has plenty of ill-wishers trying hard to finish it off.

We all know that deficits drive inflation, which can destroy a society. Less obvious is the political dimension of such a national suicide. Debts and deficits must be understood in the context of the populism that commonly entices governments to abandon economic restraint. No less political are the probable consequences of such a course: authoritarianism, public violence, and militarism.

The road to economic hell is paved with excellent intentions-a desire to save troubled industries, relieve poverty, and bolster communities that support the present government. But the higher the spending and the deeper the deficits, the worse the effects on productive enterprise and the heavier the penalty placed on thrift and enterprise. As matters deteriorate, governments have a natural tendency to divert blame onto some unpopular group, which comes to be labeled in terms of class, income, or race. With society so polarized, the party in power can dismiss any criticism as the selfish whining of the privileged and concentrate on the serious business of diverting state resources to its own followers.

Quite rapidly, "progressive" economic reforms subvert and then destroy savings and property, eliminating any effective opposition to the regime. Soon, too-if the Peron precedent is anything to go by-the regime organizes its long march through the organs of power, conquering the courts, the bureaucracy, the schools, and the media. Hyper-deficits bring hyperinflation, and only for the briefest moment can they coexist with any kind of democratic order.

Could it happen here? The U.S. certainly has very different political traditions from Argentina and more barriers to a populist-driven rape of the economy. On the other hand, events in some regions would make Juan Peron smile wistfully. California runs on particularly high taxes, uncontrollable deficits, and overregulation with a vastly swollen bureaucracy while the hegemonic power of organized labor prevents any reform. Thankfully, the state has no power to devalue its currency, still less to freeze bank accounts or seize pension funds, and businesses can still relocate elsewhere. But in its social values and progressive assumptions, California is close to the Democratic mainstream, which now intends to impose its ideas on the nation as a whole. And at over 60 percent of GDP, U.S. public debt is already higher than Argentina's.

When honest money perishes, the society goes with it. We can't say we weren't warned.


In batty Britain, a BALLOON is now a health & safety risk!

Alex Pearson was thrilled with the balloon she had been given while having a meal at a restaurant. She was happily carrying it as she walked into a nearby Tesco store with her mother. But the nine-year-old girl, who has learning difficulties, was left bewildered when a security guard told her she could not come inside with the helium-filled balloon because it was a health and safety risk.

Alex's mother, Marion, said: 'This whole health and safety thing is just getting silly. You keep hearing more and more reasons why you can't do this or that. 'This is just another ridiculous rule that we have to follow. Why is it that Tesco sells balloons if they are such a risk?'

Alex had been given the balloon by staff at the Chiquito Mexican restaurant on the Tower Park retail park in Poole, Dorset. She had been having a meal there with her mother and grandmother, Martha Talbot. Afterwards, Alex wanted to spend her pocket money in the Tesco superstore, which is also on the retail park. Mrs Pearson tied the balloon to her wrist so it would not blow away. As the family tried to enter the store at 5pm on Monday, they were told it was 'company policy' that the balloon could not come in.

Mrs Pearson, 44, a carer, from Upton, Poole, said: 'Alex loves balloons and she was desperate to keep it. The security guard stopped us and told us we couldn't come in because of it - some idiotic reason about security. 'Alex didn't understand why she wasn't allowed in and I told the security guard to explain it to her. He couldn't even look her in the eye - I think he was too embarrassed. 'She would have been so upset to let the balloon go, so we had to go home. I won't be using the shop again.'

A Tesco spokesman said: 'A restaurant near the store was handing out helium balloons. A number of children had come into the store and released them inadvertently or on purpose. 'Unfortunately they were getting trapped on the ceiling and blocking the sprinkler system, and they are pretty difficult to retrieve. The managers decided to use their discretion. 'There is not a set policy on helium balloons at the store - it's just common sense really.'



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.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Senior citizen trying to report burglary turned away from British police HQ... as all the officers were playing POKER

They take very little interest in burglaries anyway. It takes insults to blacks, Muslims or homosexuals to get them moving

A pensioner trying to report a burglary was turned away from a police headquarters - even though officers were inside playing poker. Retired financial adviser Graham Hall, 69, walked to the head office of Thames Valley Police after discovering thieves had broken into a rental property he owns nearby. But after first asking Mr Hall if he was there for a card game involving 14 officers that was about to start in the social club, a security guard on the front desk told him no one could help.

Instead he was informed that the station was not open to the public and was handed a fridge magnet with the force's non-emergency telephone number, which he was told to ring. Mr Hall spoke to an operator who promised that a police officer would get in touch - but he was still to hear back from them, nearly a week later. The father of four said: 'When I got there a security guard popped up from behind the desk and said, "Good evening, are you here for the poker?". 'I said, "I've got it wrong. I thought this was a police station, not a casino". 'I told him I had come to report a crime, but he said I couldn't do that here. I said, "I'm sorry I wasted your time" and left.

'I was flabbergasted - you can't even report a crime at the police headquarters. 'The fact is that a crime had been committed on their doorstep but not one person could be bothered to come out and talk to me because they were gambling. At first I thought it was a joke but it really is no laughing matter. I've got no confidence in the force whatsoever.'

Mr Hall, of Oxford, discovered the break-in when he visited a rental property he owns in nearby Kidlington at 6.45pm last Wednesday. The thieves had smashed into a games room annexe and made off with hundreds of pounds' worth of snooker equipment. The semi-detached house was empty at the time after his daughter Joanna, 38, who had been letting it, moved out a few weeks earlier.

Mr Hall first went to Kidlington police station but a sign on the door said it closed at 5pm every day, so he went 150 yards down the road to Thames Valley Police HQ. The pensioner - who will have to fork out 150 pounds to replace both doors and a padlock - is furious. He said: 'Not only do I have to pay for new snooker balls and cues as well as the two doors but no one from the police has even bothered to contact me. 'I was going to leave the doors for the police to examine but it doesn't look like they're bothered. 'I feel extremely let down by the police who would rather play cards than catch criminals.'

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley police has confirmed that a poker game had taken place with a maximum stake of 2.50 a game. But she said that players at the regular event were off-duty. As for reporting a crime, she said the headquarters was not an 'operational police station' and that this was stated on a sign below the entry buzzer, along with directions to the nearest stations and opening times. The spokesman added that officers had not been dispatched to the scene as a matter of urgency because the incident is classed as a 'non-dwelling burglary'. However, an officer will now be in touch with Mr Hall as soon as possible, she added.


British policeman hauled before court and suspended for 20 months for defending himself against yob who headbutted him

Another example of British prosecutors being on the side of the criminal

A police officer told of his anger yesterday after being taken off front-line duty for a year and hauled before a court for defending himself against a suspect who he thought was about to headbutt him. Sergeant Bob Woodward spoke out after the case against him collapsed at the start of his trial when it emerged the supposed victim would not appear - because he was on the run after skipping bail over a separate violent attack.

The officer, a married father of three with 30 years' unblemished service, retires in April but said the episode had soured his last year in the force. Condemning the criminal justice system, he claimed his experience - the second time he has been wrongly accused of assaulting a drunken suspect - would make other officers think twice about confronting violent individuals.

Sergeant Woodward, 52, said Ashley Pearson had lashed out at him in July 2007 as they stood together in a custody suite at Cannock police station in Staffordshire, where Pearson had been taken after being arrested for an alleged breach of bail. The 6ft 8in policeman said he blocked the blow and pushed his attacker on to a desk, chipping Pearson's front tooth.

Pearson did not make a formal complaint but Staffordshire Police launched an investigation following an anonymous tip-off. Details were passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided to prosecute Sergeant Woodward. He was taken off front line duties early last year when formally summonsed for assault and has since been doing other work or been on sick leave. The officer has now been fully reinstated after the case against him collapsed at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

Sergeant Woodward had previously been acquitted over an incident in July 2002 when he tried to stop a drunken yob spitting at him by pushing his face away. On that occasion, he had to endure seven months of anxiety before he was cleared.

The sergeant, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, said yesterday: 'There is something wrong when police officers end up in the dock for doing their job while thugs are left free to laugh at the justice system. They were ludicrous prosecutions. When they told me I was being charged I could hardly believe my ears. 'I had to keep it secret from my 80-year-old mother or it would have worried her to death.'

Announcing the CPS would offer no evidence against Sergeant Woodward, Zaheer Afzal, prosecuting, told Judge Sean Morris on Monday: 'Regrettably our main witness is not here today, and we have not been able to find him.'

David Mason, defending, said he found it ' staggering' that the case had taken so long to get to court, telling the judge: 'The officer thought he was going to be headbutted and was using reasonable force to protect himself from a clearly drunk, violent and aggressive man.' Pearson, from Cannock, Staffordshire, ended up in jail for an unrelated matter. He was released and has been on the run since February after being bailed on suspicion of being involved in a pub 'glassing' attack.


Review: Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted

Big Hollywood was given an exclusive first look at John Ziegler's latest documentary covering the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election. In journalistic terms it's called a "tick-tock." This is when the media crafts a news story that takes you behind the scenes of an event and breaks down, piece by linear piece, the individual acts which led up to that event. With "[1] Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted," director [2] John Ziegler ("[3] Blocking the Path to 9/11") turns the art of the tick-tock around and aims it, with damning effect, squarely at the news media. The result is not a documentary, at least not for anyone who believes in truth, fairness or journalistic integrity - the result is a horror film.

If you expect Ziegler to build his case using easy targets like Keith Olbermann [5] aping David Strathairn playing Edward R. Murrow, think again. Olbermann's a bit player in this cinematic indictment, a clown. The real conspirators run the gamut of every network (cable and otherwise), and most of the major print and online publications. Maybe it's not a horror story, after all. Maybe it's something closer to an Agatha Christie mystery where everyone's the murderer. The victim, of course, is American journalism.

Even for those of us who obsessively followed every twist and turn of the 2008 presidential election, watching Ziegler's autopsy of the grisly affair, starting with the primaries and ending with the days immediately following Barack Obama's securing of the Presidency, is to experience in a comprehensive way the breadth and scope of American media corruption.

Watching election coverage in real time last year was often frustrating to the point of outrage, and for the first half-hour of "Media Malpractice" the old outrage returns. But what Ziegler does is summarize his case like a prosecutor delivering a closing argument, bringing the disparate pieces together into something much more important than a narrative. What we see is the media's behavior in full blown context, and as the entire story comes together your outrage slowly evolves into something much more disturbing.

The real genius behind the film is in the wise choice not to use talking heads. Other than pieces of [7] an interview with Governor Sarah Palin (the full interview is included as a DVD extra) that pop up in the opening and then later during the coverage of her bid for Vice President, Ziegler understands that no matter how smart or insightful, no analyst could make as damning a case against the participants as the words and actions of the participants themselves.

Other than the director's narration to fill in the gaps and frame the context, the filmmmaker gets out of the way and allows us to witness first hand as Campbell Brown, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Wolf Blitzer, Major Garrett, Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson and a troubling legion of familiar others summon audacious amounts of hypocrisy, ignorance and dishonesty to blunt any piece of news that could hurt Obama and destroy any individual who could stop him - and that includes Hillary Clinton, Palin, and an unlicensed plumber who dared to ask a question the media wouldn't.

This compelling first person approach more than makes up for the film's few flaws. The first and last ten minutes are sluggishly paced and the soundtrack is frequently intrusive and unnecessary, but once the film's narrative takes hold these issues are of little consequence. And with a run-time of 115 minutes the overall pacing is deliberate. This is a necessity, though, in order to fairly and fully make the case for an expansive and darkly effective media conspiracy.

So trained are we for the few second clip that it took a while for me to understand that the reason some clips feel longish is because the film is more interested in being fair than fulfilling the needs of our national ADD. We're not "told" what anyone said. No shady editing techniques are employed to make a subject look bad. Ziegler let's them talk. Full quotes. Full context. He knows it's not necessary to play the drive-by game on the drive-byers. They step into the noose and jump all on their own.

It's worth pointing out that "Media Malpractice" is not anything close to an anti-Obama screed. Obviously within the mission of the film, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and other cuts from our current President's Not So Greatest Hits get some play, but for you reasonable Democrats who were horrified by the media corruption even as it benefited your guy, there's nothing to fear here.

Palin haters will be disappointed. Included in the DVD is Ziegler's full 45-minute interview with the Governor, [9] snippets of which were released earlier in the year [10] to great media uproar for her daring to criticize the likes of Katie Couric. Ziegler has the Governor watch and comment on the harshest coverage she received, some of it for the first time, and her impressive poise, good humor, and graciousness, while witnessing the lies and attacks on her family, remains intact. Whatever effect this vicious and partisan coverage may have had on her future is yet to be seen, but that she hasn't allowed it to get under her skin is obvious.

Narrative or documentary, all good films have a moment that stay with you long after the credits roll, and there's one here that put a chill down my spine. Directly after Palin's triumphant acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, which, in effect, made complete fools of all those involved in the coordinated three-day media attempt to destroy her beforehand, NBC anchorman Brian Williams took to the air and read, word for word, a manifesto written by Time magazine's very partisan Joe Klein demanding the media not relent in their destruction of her. His piece was littered with lies, including the scurrilous one furthered by Charlie Gibson about Palin claiming God was on our side in Iraq, even though a videotape of the event proves otherwise.

Watching Brian Williams, who up to that point had always come off as a slightly befuddled Dad right out of a 50's sitcom, trumpet a partisan character assassination and call to arms his media cohorts is a revealing look at the rancid heart that beats beneath the blow dry. It's also a warning.

In the production-values department, "Media Malpractice" may feel a bit rushed in spots but as of right now it's the most important post-election analysis released and couldn't be more timely or necessary. We're less than 20 months away from the next election and you only think you understand the magnitude of media corruption.


This is the sort of bureaucracy that the Left want to run the world

In 2001 in southern Sudan, it was a time of peace between wars. It was a time ripe for treating diseases that kill thousands of children every year. It was an opportune time for measles vaccination to halt outbreaks of one of the world's most preventable diseases. The Measles Initiative, founded by the WHO, UNICEF, the CDC and the American Red Cross, was created to address this significant challenge.

In the rural county where I ran an NGO, over 1,200 young children died of measles over four months in early 2001. The death toll was devastating to our school children and their families: local villagers did not have the resources to combat the outbreak except to bury the dead.

When we reported the outbreak to the WHO, the officials we corresponded with expressed shock and dismay that our communities had no access to a vaccination program to stop the spread. But the WHO was caught in a Catch-22 of their own devising: they were unwilling to allocate resources and send doctors unless they could be certain the outbreak was measles, but they couldn't be certain it was measles without a clinical diagnosis by qualified medical personnel.

Our NGO shipped out videotape of the infected children to one of the Measles Initiative partners. A medical doctor and global measles expert said the video was some of the best footage of children with measles he'd ever seen, but unfortunately Sudan wasn't on the list to have a measles eradication program that year and he couldn't be certain without seeing the patients. Even with the clear video footage, a senior WHO official still wouldn't attribute the children's deaths to measles nor send an investigative team. So, as far as we know, the children who died in eastern Upper Nile state in 2001 were never counted in the WHO's official measles statistics.

Worse yet, the WHO wouldn't supply vaccines to inoculate children and stop the outbreak without a refrigerator to store them, and the remote communities where we worked had no refrigerator and no reliable power source. UNICEF, we were told, would provide a fridge if the number of diagnosed deaths from measles was significant. But with no qualified medical personnel to diagnose a "significant" number of deaths in our area, we didn't qualify.

In cooperation with Save the Children (US) and funded by USAID, our NGO set up a medical clinic and put qualified African medical staff in place. Training on running a vaccination program was provided and record-keeping started. The communities waited impatiently for the vaccination program as more children died in subsequent outbreaks. There were hundreds more deaths diagnosed from measles each time. Our NGO was repeatedly told it was "near the top" of the waiting list, but years passed with no refrigerator and no vaccines.

Another outbreak of measles started in mid-2008. In desperation, our NGO raised private funds to purchase a refrigerator and fly it into the isolated area where we worked. Within a few months, our new refrigerator was in place and ready to hold the free vaccines that the Measles Initiative promised to qualified organizations. We have found that "free" is a relative term in Africa, however. We quickly learned that a small number of vaccines were available to us at a regional distribution center, a $5000 air charter flight away.

Just last week, a second refrigerator was delivered, this time courtesy of Save the Children (US), nearly seven years after the original request was made. According to locals, thousands of children have died of measles in the mean time, but the major aid agencies still cannot work together to provide truly free vaccines. Seven years later, this community has two empty refrigerators and still no means to keep their children dying from measles. The refrigerator excuse is gone but the vaccines are effectively out of reach.

Even a time between wars is not the best of times for the poor in rural Sudan. As it turned out, it has been a time of bureaucratic "defer and delay" from the UN aid agencies who failed to provide the vaccines needed to save vulnerable children dying from a preventable disease. After seven years, Save the Children (US) is making the most progress, which is disappointingly slow.

It makes me wonder if the 90% drop in measles infection rate between 2000 and 2006 claimed by the WHO is accurate, or if the children who are dying are just too much trouble for them to count.



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.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Leftist speaks out against Islamic barbarism

About time. The writer is Ed Brayton. If it is the "fat guy from Michigan" whom I have previously mocked, I am pleased to see that he is more objective than at first appeared

On last week's Declaring Independence I had the privilege of doing a brief interview of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the extraordinarily brave Somali-born woman who works diligently to fight against the barbaric practices of radical Islam. You can listen to that interview here.

Hirsi Ali's story is a remarkable one. She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, into a Muslim family. At the age of 5, she was forced to undergo a clitorectomy, sometimes called a female circumcision. She was later pledged in an arranged marriage to a distant cousin, which she objected to and fled to avoid. She eventually made her way to the Netherlands where, unsurprisingly, she became a powerful advocate of women's rights.

She ran into controversy when it was revealed that she had lied on her application for political asylum in that country, which she fully admits to doing. It was necessary, she says, to make her already bad situation seem even worse at the time in order to ensure that her application for asylum would be granted. After the resulting fallout, she emigrated to the United States, where she now lives and works as a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.

One of the issues that we discussed in our interview was the need for the left in this country to take the lead in advancing a strong and coherent critique of radical Islam. I have long detected a split on the left over this issue, a split between what I call the rationalist left and the relativist left. The relativist left often downplays the barbarism of radical Islam or fails to speak out against it as strongly as, for example, it does against the actions and beliefs of the religious right in America.

Let us start with a few indisputable facts. First, let us acknowledge that radical Islam is the most anti-liberal ideology in the world today. This ideology demeans women in a thousand different ways, denying them an education and anything like freedom or equality. It demands the public stoning of gays and lesbians. It inflicts the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy. It is hard to imagine an ideology more contrary to the ideals of freedom and equality.

Second, let us make very clear that this is not an indictment of all Muslims. Like any large religion, there is not one Islam but many Islams. Some forms of Islam have been humanized by the acceptance and integration of liberal democratic ideas into the larger religion, just as the Enlightenment did the same to most forms of Christianity in the West.

Some of the most powerful voices against the barbarism of the radicals come from Muslim scholars like Muqtedar Khan and Louay Safi of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. And they speak to and for a larger Muslim community that is really no different from the rest of us in seeking a peaceful and just society. Their work is important, and we must embrace it rather than ignore it.

Third, let us recognize that there are voices on the left making this case and that this is not a criticism of all liberals by any means. Christopher Hitchens, for example, has been outspoken both in his attacks on radical Islam and his embrace of moderate Muslims fighting against that radicalism. And while I did not agree with his support of the war in Iraq, which I think fueled the very radicalism that we both oppose, I think he is correct in recognizing both the philosophical and practical danger of that twisted ideology.

But there are others who downplay that threat in various ways. We saw it, for example, in the reaction of author John Le Carre to the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing "The Satanic Verses." He declared that "there is no law in life or nature that says great religions may be insulted with impunity" and that "there is no absolute standard of free speech in any society." He further claimed that Rushdie was being "colonialist" by portraying himself as an innocent victim of the fatwa on his life.

We saw it also in the reaction of some on the left to the publishing of those infamous caricatures in a Danish newspaper. One of the most popular liberal bloggers wrote that the publishing of those cartoons was nothing more than "an insult to inflame a poor minority" and that he didn't have "any sympathy for a newspaper carrying out an exercise in pointless provocation."

But this is muddled relativism at its most silly. Those caricatures were pointed criticism of the tendency of radical Islam to respond to such criticism with violence; the fact that the response from radical Islamists was to threaten the lives of the artists and firebomb embassies around the world shows both the importance and the accuracy of such criticism.

Unfortunately, the loudest and most prominent voices in critiquing radical Islam in this country are primarily from the right. Indeed, that is where Ali, who describes herself as a liberal, has found most of her support in this country and why she is employed by a right-wing think tank. This is not a good thing, in my view.

The left must take the lead in making a strong critique of radical Islam and a strong defense of liberal democratic ideals because if we allow the right to do so, that critique will inevitably be intertwined with notions of Christian chauvinism, American exceptionalism, and, in some cases, with imperialism, xenophobia and racism as well. We can and must make those arguments because we can do so in a coherent manner, not bundled up with other noxious views that present their own danger to liberal ideals.

There is no need for any mushy relativism here. The ideology and practice of radical Islam is morally repugnant. The abuse of women and the opposition to freedom and equality are nothing short of barbaric, and we need not mince our words in opposing them. The ideals of a society that respects freedom and equality really are better, they really are worth defending, and progressives should be on the front lines of that battle.


Leading British Labour party politician to attack political correctness

Hazel Blears is to attack the "creeping tendency" of political correctness which has led to Christians being targeted for practising their beliefs. In a hard hitting speech, to be made in the last week of February, the Communities Secretary will suggest that the pendulum has "swung too far" in favour of not offending minorities. Her remarks will be seen as a thinly veiled attack on Harriet Harman, the Commons leader, who has made a series of left wing speeches and announcements in recent months about equal rights for minorities. Ms Harman has faced accusations of manoeuvring herself for the leadership if Labour loses the next election.

It comes after a community nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended from after offering to pray for a patient. The story led to widespread criticism of her employer, North Somerset Primary Care Trust, who later offered Mrs Petrie her job back.

Ms Blears, who last week called on jostling cabinet minsters to "get a grip", will say that public policy-makers are too anxious about offending people and need to be more robust in their approach. She will point to a number of judgements recently which she feels were spurned by an overzealous commitment to political correctness. A text of her speech, released to this paper, said: "This country is proud of our tradition of fair play and good manners, welcoming of diversity, tolerant of others. This is a great strength. "But the pendulum has swung too far. It seems that every week we hear a new story - the nurse suspended because she offered to pray for a patient, the school banning Christmas decorations, the town hall reluctant to fly the Union flag - about people getting into a panic because someone, somewhere, might get offended.

"Worse, at times leaders have been reluctant to challenge absolutely unacceptable behaviour - forced marriage, female genital mutilation, or homophobia - because they are concerned about upsetting people's cultural sensitivities. "This flies in the face of another of our traditions - open debate, rational inquiry, and plain old common sense. "We would do well to be a little less anxious and a little more robust."

Ms Blears will say that minority beliefs and traditions should not go unchallenged in Britain when they break the law or harm others. "There is a line when respect for other cultures is crossed and a universal morality should kick in."

The tough stance from the former Blairite comes as a number of female ministers are said to be considering standing against the left wing Ms Harman if she does go for the leadership. Yvette Cooper, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was said to be one minister approached to be a "stop Harman" candidate. However some Labour insiders believe this rumour may be an attempt to disrupt Ms Cooper's husband Ed Balls, a likely candidate in a leadership contest.


British Tories pledge to end police 'caution culture'

The Conservatives have pledged to end the "caution culture" in Britain's police forces and to ensure that all youths who carry out violent attacks are prosecuted. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said he will stop the practice of simply warning youths who are involved in assaults and then sending them on their way. In his first announcement since taking over in the role, Mr Grayling said all those involved in violent attacks or found with knives in city centres would end up behind bars as part of a radical shake-up of policing planned by the Conservatives.

The pledge comes after it emerged that the number of young people given cautions by the police for indictable crimes, including robbery and other violent offences, has increased by 28 per cent in the last five years. Despite Labour promises to crack down on violent attacks, the number of assaults using a knife has risen starkly. Last week, two teenagers were stabbed to death in separate attacks within hours of each other in London.

Mr Grayling said: "If you are found carrying a knife, if you attack a stranger in the street, you should end up in the courts and then behind bars. You should not get a caution, or as I heard recently, a o65 penalty notice for carrying a three foot Samurai sword around. That must stop." Mr Grayling will outline plans this week to give police charging powers of their own so that they can charge youths in custody with offences such as carrying knives rather than referring the cases to prosecutors.

The Tories are also looking to change the police targets system so that issuing someone with a caution does not count as a crime solved, and a case taken to court counts as a bigger success than a caution. Currently, cautions and prosecutions are deemed equally successful outcomes to investigations. Mr Grayling said it was "madness" that cautions for violent attacks had more than doubled since 1998.

In 2007, 60 per cent of under 18s cautioned or convicted for an offence received only a caution, up from 56 per in 2003. There were 75,300 youths cautioned in 2007 compared to 58,600 in 2003. The cautioning rate has increased in all age groups. In 2007, 90 per cent of 10-11 year old offenders dealt with by police were cautioned, compared to 84 per cent in 2003. The rate of 12-14 years olds being cautioned is up by 29 per cent while the number of 15-17 year olds cautioned has increased by 10,000.

Mr Grayling said police were issuing cautions because it meant "case closed, a tick in the box, a crime solved for the official figures to be sent to the Home Office. "That's just not good enough. Giving someone a caution should not be a way of scoring an easy win in the case closed league table. "No wonder young offenders think they can get away with it. That must become a thing of the past."

Despite claiming that there has been an overall fall in the number of people caught carrying knives and that those found guilty of possessing knives were receiving longer sentences the Government has been unable to support this with official figures. The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith apologised to Parliament two months ago for the premature release of data suggesting that police were making headway against knife crime.

In October last year, the Home Office was forced to admit that serious violent crime is much worse than they had been claiming because police forces had been failing to record offences properly. A Home Office spokeswoman said: "As the Home Secretary announced last year, anyone over the age of 16 caught carrying a knife should expect to be prosecuted. Those using knives can expect to go to prison."


An old, old story

Every now and again, some members of the Green/Left try to practice what they preach. It always ends up the same way

They thought they could change the world but what came of their dreams has haunted them ever since... The Universal Brotherhood was Australia's most celebrated alternative community attracting hundreds of young idealists who gave up everything to follow their very own New Age guru. Now 30 years later they're hosting a reunion to confront the sect's surviving leader about the paradise they created. and lost.

Compass on Sunday at 9.30pm on ABC1 charts the rise and fall of this uniquely Australian `cult' through rich film archive and the testimonies of Linda Moctezuma (nee Ward) and others as they prepare for a reunion, 30 years after it all fell apart.

The Universal Brotherhood was a home-grown spiritual movement that became Australia's most successful alternative community. Born in the early 1970s it flourished on a 300 acre farm near the small country town of Balingup, south of Perth. The movement attracted hundreds of young idealists who turned their backs on jobs, mortgages and a safe life in the suburbs. Instead, they cashed in their savings to follow their very own guru, 80-year old Fred Robinson - a self-styled eco-prophet who wanted to pioneer a model community that could save the planet, and mankind!

Robinson espoused a mixed bag of mystical teachings, New Age philosophies and old-fashioned Christian values. He'd also developed his own cosmic vision of the future involving `elder brothers' from outer space coming in UFOs with Christ to take them away if and when catastrophe destroyed the world. "They even bought a property that had an airstrip on it so that the elder brothers would have somewhere to land, and rescue us.

Now, there's only one thing more amazing than him saying that - and that's us believing it!" says Moctezuma who at 18, desperate to escape the insular world of Sydney's northern beaches, became one of the Brotherhood's first converts.

From a handful of pioneers, the Universal Brotherhood quickly grew. Within a year, it was almost completely self-sufficient: its young `disciples' putting into practice all Robinson's principles of biodynamic farming and holistic living. "And we really believed that it was a turning point for mankind. And we were going to be the spearhead, the leaders of this new age. We were creating the model that the whole world was going to be built on. And so we had this great responsibility to do it properly," says Moctezuma.

Among the followers was a young rock star, Matt Taylor. He'd just released a hit record, but sold everything to join the Brotherhood. "Because number one records weren't as important as finding out how the universe worked," says Taylor. On the farm the Brotherhood took care of everyone's food, shelter and clothing. Everything was shared, and everyone ate, played and prayed together. Life in the Brotherhood was deemed "safe and pure". The world outside increasingly viewed as dangerously corrupt.

Believing they had all the answers, the Brotherhood began cutting itself off from the rest of society. TV and radio were banned. And increasingly, control of the group was left to its governing council, a small group of advisers known as the `Centre Core', made up of Robinson's wife Mary and the Brotherhood's young co-founder, Stephen Carthew, a 23-year old from Sydney. "Mary had her belief that she slept at night and she had dreams and God spoke to her, and we then had to follow what God had said to her," says Susan Allwood who'd walked out of a promising fashion career in Melbourne to join the Brotherhood.

As time passed the Centre Core became more hardline, scrutinising the young followers' behaviour, and punishing them for minor misdemeanours or perceived weaknesses. Few dared to confess any doubt, anger or distress. The Brotherhood's utopian dream was only six years old when cracks appeared. The cult's leadership began to turn on some of its most faithful adherents.

By 1978 the New Age dream was all but over. The mood of the times had changed. Triggered by events like the Jonestown massacre, public opinion swung sharply against religious cults. "When Jonestown happened there was a moment where I thought, if Mary had said to us, `We've reached the right vibration; we don't need our bodies any more. We're all going to drink cyanide.' I wonder if we'd have done it?" asks former member Anita Chauvin.

The film follows Anita, Matt, Susan, Linda and others as they prepare for the reunion, searching for resolution to the years they put into the Brotherhood dream; years many have kept hidden, until now. Founder and former leader Carthew will also be at the reunion. He knows he has a lot to answer for and the scene is set for a dramatic showdown.



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.