Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An all-Australian issue today

Australia's new Leftist Prime Minister does not support legalising homosexual marriage

Most Australian conservative commentators are thoroughly freaked by Ms Gillard's far-Left background. But there is little of that to see in her deeds or policy positions whilst in government. Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out on the Left and a Rightward drift is in fact normal as people get older and wiser. I suspect that we are seeing quite a lot of that in Julia. It may also be worth noting that she owes her ascent to PM not to her party's Left but to its Right.

Such a drift has certainly happened before in the Australian Labor Party. Former Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon is a good example of that. Starting out as a Leftist firebrand he ended up so far Right he was almost out of sight. He even used police to crush a strike. I can't remember even the very conservative Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen doing that. The Labor party is tribal, however, so Laborites still honour him, rather incredibly. A major new hospital building in Brisbane was named after him not long ago by the State Labor government.

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia. Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show this morning. "We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples," Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

The new Prime Minister was left waiting on air while Kyle and Jackie played a song - Gettin' Over you by David Guetta featuring Fergie. "I can listen to a song," Ms Gillard said, when Kyle expressed concern it might be inappropriate to leave her waiting. The choice of song wasn't quite to her taste, however. "I'm a really kind of an eighties dag," she said.

Ms Gillard said she would do her best to be frank with the Australian public in her new role. "I think when you're doing something as complicated as being Prime Minister, there are days when people are going to look at what you're doing and go, 'That's fantastic,' and there are going to be other days when they look at what you're doing and say, 'Why on earth did she do that?'," Ms Gillard said.

"So I'm not going to try and promise people everything's going to be smooth sailing and they're going to be applauding at the end of each day because the job's too tough for that, but I'll be trying my best to be as frank as I can with the Australian people about the challenges we face."

Asked if she would be outlawing redheaded jokes now that she was Prime Minister, Ms Gillard laughed and said she would still allow them. "But expect to get a response when you do," she said.


An openly atheist Prime Minister!

This will go down a lot better in Australia than in the USA. Australians are an irreligious lot and even the small minority of churchgoers often have very vague religious beliefs. She is however not one of the hate-filled atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. See the rubric below

NEW Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared she does not believe in God, Christian or otherwise. The bold assertion risks alienating some Christians and other spiritualists, but is likely to please many others for its simple honesty.

In a morning radio blitz designed to introduce her new Prime Ministership to as many voters as possible before an election, possibly is called within weeks, she was asked if she believed in God. "No I don't. I'm not a religious person," she said bluntly to ABC Melbourne. "I was brought up in the Baptist Church. I grew up going to Baptist youth group and all the rest, but during my adult life I've found a different path.

"I'm, of course, a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."

She said she would allow people to judge her as they saw fit, but maintained she would not "pretend a faith" she did not feel. "For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine," she said.

"What I can say to Australians, broadly of course, is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives."

The sheer straight-forwardness of her comments is likely to win her plaudits for not being seen to walk both sides of the street on a question which most people regard as an essentially personal matter.

Nonetheless, her frank position is in stark contrast to most political leaders, who have often paraded religious faith as the moral underpinnings of their policies. Kevin Rudd, for example, was often criticised for his invocation of faith and his habit of holding weekly Sunday morning doorstop interviews in front of a Canberra church. Just days ago, both Mr Rudd and Liberal leader Tony Abbott, a Catholic, conspicuously courted the Christian vote at the politically conservative Australian Christian Lobby.

Ms Gillard did not take the Bible in her hand when sworn into Parliament in 1998.


The downside of Julia's living arrangements

Living as a de facto with her partner may suit Julia Gillard, but does that make her a good role model for others?

By Bettina Arndt

Julia Gillard doesn't want to move into the Lodge until she gets a democratic tick of approval. Or so she says. Maybe the real reason she is stalling is to test the waters about public reaction to moving her first bloke in there with her.

Most media commentators are relaxed about a de facto first couple. Why not, they say, everyone's doing it. What's the big deal about living together?

They are right about the fact cohabitation - what some call "marriage lite" - is changing the social map. Census figures show the proportion of adults in de facto relationships more than doubled between 1986 and 2006. With other countries showing similar shifts, many social scientists studying this trend conclude marriage lite is not a change for the better.

It's fine for Gillard - a 48-year-old woman - to live with her bloke. Yet as a popular role model for women, her lifestyle choice may influence other women into making big mistakes about their lives.

Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children - Gillard is an exception - and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships that look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.

People often drift into living together - someone's lease runs out or they get sick of running home for fresh shirts and underwear. They slide rather than decide, and frequently fail to discuss their mutual expectations for the relationship.

It's the women who end up stranded when they spend years in a succession of de facto relationships waiting for Mr Not Ready or Mr Maybe to make up his mind. Women's tiny reproductive window means they pay a high price for wasting precious breeding time in such uncertain relationships.

While the de facto lifestyle leads some women to miss out on having children, others are taking the risk of becoming parents despite these unstable relationships. A growing proportion of children is now born to de facto couples - up from less than 3 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 2000, according to data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics Survey.

It is often assumed these children will provide the glue to keep de facto relationships together, but sadly this is not so. David de Vaus, a sociology professor from La Trobe University, found cohabiting couples who have children are more like to break up than married parents, increasing their risk of the negative impacts of family breakdown.

If Gillard chooses to play house with Tim Mathieson in the Lodge, this choice sends a strong message to the huge numbers of women who rightly admire her and seek to follow her example. A lifestyle suited to her particular needs may be riskier for many women and their children.

As a Labor politician, Gillard is hardly likely to spell this out. Her brand of politician is too nervous of offending natural constituents to express concern about lifestyle choices. But it wasn't always like that.

In 1972, an intriguing discussion between Germaine Greer and Margaret Whitlam was published in The National Times. Whitlam, whose husband had just become prime minister, was outspoken in her criticism of ex-nuptial births, declaring it was irresponsible to produce children outside wedlock. When Greer confessed she was considering having a child on her own, Whitlam was forthright: "Well, I think that's just a selfish thought."

Later in the interview, she relented a little. "It may be all right for people who are well known and who have position and who can organise themselves . . . but it's not OK for everybody," she said, questioning the impact of Greer's decision on her many fans.

At the heart of this conversation was role models. People in the public eye, our influential leaders, need to think through whether others who don't share their circumstances will follow their example and get into trouble.

Every day we see well-known Australians making dubious lifestyle decisions being lauded in the media - celebrities choosing to become single mothers, unwed fathers, parents dragging children through a succession of chaotic "blended" families.

Pat Rafter was made Australian of the Year just as he was about to become an unmarried father. What did that say to his many male fans about the importance of committed fathering?

Politicians today rarely question social trends, even when all the evidence is they are having negative social consequences. John Howard was the rare exception, when he went into bat for a child's rights to a father in the debate over single mothers and IVF. But the actions of our role models speak louder than any words. The well-heeled tennis hero cheerfully embracing unmarried paternity, the feminist toying with sole parenthood, the prime minister living with her boyfriend - why wouldn't their many fans not seek to walk in their shoes?


Australia most Leftist major newspaper sinks to new low in an antisemitic attack on a Jewish businessman

The Melbourne Age newspaper has stunned and appalled the Jewish community today by confecting a scandal about the fact that the Prime Minister’s partner works for a Jewish businessman Albert Dadon.

It inaccurately describes Albert as an “Israel lobbyist” which suggests he is paid to promote Israel. That’s simply not correct and conveys a false impression. Dadon is an investor, in property and many other things and was the Chair of Melbourne’s international Jazz Festival and created the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, which we assume he modelled on the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue formed by Phil Scanlon.

We have never read Scanlon described as a “pro-American lobbyist.”

(The Age) suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel. This is about as low and disturbing as it gets.

Indeed, we understand that the editor of the Age, Paul Ramadge, has previously put much effort into duchessing Mr Dadon in an attempt to rescue that newspaper’s reputation in Melbourne’s Jewish community which increasingly regards it as an apologist for misogynist and racist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that are sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Sources tell VEXNEWS that Dadon went to some effort to encourage The Age to open its eyes to both sides of the story in the Middle East and that a member of The Age’s staff was invited to attend Australia Israel Leadership Forum events, including one in Israel.

Ramadge endorsed this and went to some trouble to undo the damage done by his predecessor Andrew Jaspan whose attacks on Israel seemed to know no decent bounds. That reputation will be confirmed by today’s breathtakingly anti-semitic attack that deems all Jews to be “pro-Israel lobbyists”.

The story was based around a letter from a retired and grouchy Arabist crank, Ross Burns which prompted a page seven story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Naturally the Age put it on the front-page and beat it up within an inch of its life.

We have previously written of the fact that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a real problem with anti-Israel bias. Ross Burns, a career diplomat who was given many sweet plum Ambassador appointments, is a perfect embodiment of this.

Burns has now retired into the comfort of superannuation and is completing a PhD at Macquarie University on archaeology in Syria. He very frequently visits Syria. He has a keen interest in its antiquities and ancient ruins.

He has a long history of blowing anti-semitic dog-whistles against Israel, with a steady stream of cranky letters to the editor, speeches, appearances on an appreciative ABC and so on.

His latest suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel.

This is about as low as it gets. Where will this obscenity end? Will The Age’s Jewish employees soon be subjected to tests to ensure they are not “pro-Israel lobbyists.”

As for Burns, he is an old crank, who is just running out his private hatreds of Israel in public view, for his private benefit. No doubt he’s prominent on the wily Syrian Ambassador’s invitation list to sip on Johnny Blue in the wee hours. He’s an angry old man who is entitled to peddle his nasty views. But The Age has a greater responsibility than that.

And when journalists wonder why we will celebrate the imminent demise of this newspaper, this is why. Many journalists worry about what most regard as the Age’s inevitable end.

Two newspapers in a city are better than one, as a general proposition. Certainly better for journalists at both publications. Competition is a force for good, for consumers too. But The Age’s sickening effort today reveals it not to be a force for good in any respect.

The newspaper’s revenues are in freefall, its employees facing further redundancies, its circulation numbers rigged, the shares of parent company the most shorted in the entire stock market. Its end is nigh. And we’ll be dancing in the streets when that day finally comes.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Violent inner-city crime in Britain, the figures, and a question of race

The reality of violent inner-city crime is indicated today by statistics obtained by The Sunday Telegraph. The official figures, which examine the ethnicity of those accused of violent offences in London, suggest the majority of men held responsible by police for gun crimes, robberies and street crimes are black. Black men are also disproportionately the victims of violent crime in the capital.

The statistics, released by the Metropolitan Police, permit an informed debate on a sensitive subject for the first time.

One prominent black politician said last night that the black community needed to face up to major challenges. Shaun Bailey, a Tory election candidate in London and a charity worker, said: “The black community has to look at itself and say that, at the end of the day, these figures suggest we are heavily – not casually – involved in violent crime. We are also involved in crime against ourselves – and we regularly attack each other.”

The data provide a breakdown of the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against for a range of violent and sexual offences in London in 2009-10. They show that among those proceeded against for street crimes, 54 per cent were black; for robbery, 59 per cent; and for gun crimes, 67 per cent. Street crimes include muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property.

Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5 million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The police figures also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims. They made up 29 per cent of the male victims of gun crime and 24 per cent of the male victims of knife crime.

The Met declined to comment on the statistics. However, some officers will see them as a justification for Operation Trident, a unit targeting black-on-black murder and violent crime. Others will see it as justification for targeting a disproportionate number of black men under stop and search powers. Figures released annually have shown black people are at least six times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

On sex offences, black men made up 32 per cent of male suspects proceeded against, and white men 49 per cent. The statistics also suggest that black women are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime committed by females.

Richard Garside, of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: “Given Britain’s long history of racism and imperialism it should not greatly surprise us that black and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately members of social classes that have tended to experience greater victimisation and to be the subject of police attention.

“Just because the police treat black men as more criminal than white men, it does not mean that they are.” Simon Woolley, speaking as the director of the Operation Black Vote pressure group, but who is also a commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Although the charge rates for some criminal acts amongst black men are high, black people are more than twice as likely to have their cases dismissed, suggesting unfairness in the system.” [or reluctance to convict blacks]

The Sunday Telegraph obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request after Rod Liddle, the writer, caused controversy last year when he claimed in an online blog published on The Spectator website that “the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community”.

The comments led to claims that Mr Liddle was racist, However, Mr Liddle said: “I cannot think of anything more vile than racism. The issue here is not racism, it is one of multiculturalism.”

The statistics suggest that Mr Liddle was largely right on some of his claims – notably those on gun crimes, robberies and street crimes. The figures suggest, however, that he was probably wrong on his claims about knife crimes and violent sex crimes.

The figures relate to those “proceeded against”. This includes those prosecuted in court, whether convicted or acquitted; those issued with a caution, warning or penalty notice; those the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge; and those whose crimes were “taken into consideration” after a further offence. Unsolved crimes are not included. The figures do not take into account that any one perpetrator may have committed numerous offences .


Bigotry against Oxford English in England

England is very accent-conscious, with "Oxford English" (Received Pronunciation) being most prestigious. In the entertainment industry it is now being discriminated against, however.

Few, if any, actors speak the Queen's English as beautifully as Sir Roger Moore, but the former James Bond star believes that if he were starting out now in his profession it would prove a handicap rather than a help.

"You have to have a regional dialect to get anywhere these days," says Sir Roger, 82. "Deborah, my daughter, complains she is always being turned down for parts because she is not regional in her speech, which is a great pity.

"I think it is probably the fault of television. You don't hear what we used to call 'West End actors' voices' on series like Holby City, Casualty and The Bill. I notice, too, on the children's programmes they are all talking 'a bit like that,' and that's encouraging the next generation to talk in this so-called 'estuary English' we have now. I think it is sad that proper English is disappearing. I don't see why it went out of fashion."

The charming actor was in London to host the launch of Masterpiece London, a collectibles fair at the former Chelsea Barracks which continues until tomorrow. It includes an auction in aid of Unicef, which Sir Roger represents as a special ambassador.


Airline pays up over insulting "all men are pedophiles" policy

An airline has been forced to compensate a traveller who said he was made to feel like a "pervert" after being banned from sitting next to a young boy. Mirko Fischer sued British Airways after an incident last year, accusing the airline of branding all men as potential sex offenders and claiming innocent travellers are being publicly humiliated.

Mr Fischer, 35, found himself next to the boy when he switched seats with his pregnant wife so that she could be next to the window. However cabin crew demanded he return to his original seat, saying that company policy banned male passengers from sitting next to children they don’t know.

Mr Fischer said the incident, which occurred on a British Airways flight from Luxembourg to Gatwick, UK, on April 20 last year, left him feeling “embarrassed, humiliated and angry”. "This policy is branding all men as perverts for no reason," Mr Fischer, who lives in Luxembourg with his wife and their daughter Sophia, said. "They accuse you of being some kind of child molester just because you are sitting next to someone.”

Mr Fischer sued the airline for “loss and damage of injury to his feelings”. British Airways has admitted sex discrimination in the case and agreed to pay him costs of £2161 ($3500) and £750 ($1000) in damages, the UK's Telegraph reported.

Mr Fischer has donated the payout, and £2250 of his own money, to two child protection charities.

The airline is reviewing the policy but has not admitted that it is discriminatory. "We had 75,000 unaccompanied children fly with us last year and it is an issue we take very seriously," a British Airways spokesman said. "We are pleased to have settled this matter with Mr Fischer and are sorry for any difficulties caused."


Fanning the Flames of Feminism

What's REALLY good (or bad) for women?

By Rich Tucker

Here’s something you don’t hear from a conservative every day: I’m a feminist. Wait -- don’t go scrambling for the emergency exit just yet. This doesn’t mean I’m joining NOW. But, having recently welcomed a daughter into the world, I want nothing but the best for her.

Of course, what’s good for an individual woman isn’t necessarily going to be good for women in general. But, by definition, a “feminist” should support policies that benefit women in toto.
For example, across the millennia humans have evolved so that roughly 105 men are born for every 100 women. Don’t ask me why that works, but it does. So, as a feminist, one ought to oppose China’s one-child policy, which has encouraged millions of families to abort daughters.

There are now roughly 120 boys born in China for every 100 girls -- a “gendercide,” as some call it. “In eight to 10 years, we will have something like 40 to 60 million missing women,” U.N. resident coordinator Khalid Malik warned in 2004. “Missing” means gone forever -- killed simply because of their gender. This fact alone ought to have feminists up in arms.

Instead, “feminism” has allowed itself to become a one-issue platform. Support abortion on demand, you’re in. Oppose it, you’re out.

Remember Bill Clinton? Sure, he took sexual favors from a vulnerable, younger woman in the Oval Office, the sort of behavior that would seem to reinforce gender stereotypes and set back the cause of women’s rights to the Mad Men-era.

Yet, “the President’s behavior, offensive as it was, does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense,” declared the National Organization for Women’s executive vice-president in 1998. “In fact, the conservative majority in Congress, with their relentless attacks on women’s rights, is a far greater threat to women and our families,” Kim Gandy added. Clinton wasn’t only the ultimate survivor, he was, apparently, the ultimate feminist. Small wonder that others are also trying to recapture the word “feminist.”

In its latest hit piece on Sarah Palin (perhaps its last such attack before it quietly folds) Newsweek magazine declares that, “Palin has been antagonizing women on the left of late by describing herself as a ‘feminist,’ a word she uses to mean the righteous, Mama Bear anger that wells up when one of her children is attacked in the press or her values are brought into question.”

This is likely to become more than a pedantic debate over the definition of a particular word. And Palin’s version seems more likely to benefit women than traditional feminism does.

For evidence, flip a few pages deeper into the same magazine. Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison (two women who are reportedly tired of being invited to weddings) take the usual liberal feminist stand. They write that “marriage is -- from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway -- no longer necessary.”

Is that so? “According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in 2008 for single parents with children was 35.6 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent,” writes poverty expert Robert Rector in a recent paper from The Heritage Foundation. “Being raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.”

Again, what works for some individual women isn’t what’s best for women in general. Yes, “In 2010, we know most spousal rights can be easily established outside of the law, and that Americans are cohabiting, happily, in record numbers,” as Bennett and Ellison write. But the majority of American women, and women in general, benefit from marriage.

But maybe not for long. The July edition of The Atlantic declares “The End of Men” on its cover. Women are, purportedly “taking control of everything.” Oh, good. Does this mean we can finally end the discriminatory Title IX that has eliminated hundreds of men’s college sports programs? Or, even better, have it applied to women, to ensure that no more than 50 percent of all college graduates are women?

In any event, assuming men stay around a bit, “To reduce poverty in America, policymakers should enact policies that encourage people to form and maintain healthy marriage and delay childbearing until they are married and economically stable,” Rector concludes. “Marriage is highly beneficial to children, adults, and society. It needs to be encouraged and strengthened, not ignored and undermined.”

That’s a good description of policies that could make more conservatives into feminists in the years ahead.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Black female cleric to be appointed as chaplain for Britain's parliament

This is just destructive rubbish from a unprincipled little turncoat (Bercow). It completely disrespects the role of a chaplain, who is supposed to be someone to whom people in trouble will feel able to talk and receive a sympathetic hearing. But everybody is most likely to feel at ease with someone like themselves. How many of Britain's politicians are going to feel at ease in unburdening themselves to a far-Left woman from an entirely different background?

She has led calls for the Church of England to apologise for its role in slavery and has lambasted racism in the clergy. Her views have been described as ‘radical, Left of centre’. How is such a person one with whom all parliamentarians are going to feel at ease? She could at most be a chaplain only to a small coterie

A row has broken out between two of the most senior figures in the worlds of church and state over the promotion of a female cleric.

In a significant step towards giving women clergy greater prominence, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has selected the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a Jamaica-born priest, to be the next chaplain to the Commons.

She would be the first woman and the first black cleric to be appointed to the centuries-old role, which is particularly prestigious as it currently also involves being installed as subdean of Westminster Abbey.

However, Mr Bercow's historic appointment was threatened by the Very Rev John Hall, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, who was strongly opposed to such a move. The dean has refused to accept her as his deputy and has insisted that the role is now broken up so that he can appoint a different candidate, understood to be a male cleric.

Last month, Mr Hall and Mr Bercow separately interviewed Mrs Hudson-Wilkin, one of the Church of England's leading female clerics, but they have only just reached a settlement in recent days, following weeks of wrangling over the appointment.

She was on a shortlist of six names that was drawn up after interviews between candidates and representatives from Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and the House of Commons.

A source close to the discussions said that the two men had differing opinions on the appointment. "The Speaker wanted someone with a strong and distinctive character who would be pastorally sensitive and effective working with a diverse group of people at the Commons," he said. "Rose appeared to fit the role perfectly, but the dean was looking for someone who would fulfil more of a ceremonial role. "He didn't think that she suited his needs at the Abbey."

As subdean at the abbey she would have been involved in many of the services of national commemoration held there, which, in the past, have included the funerals of the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the Queen's golden jubilee.

The incumbent, Canon Robert Wright – who is retiring – is subdean at Westminster Abbey, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Queen, as well as being chaplain to the House of Commons. The chaplain is based at St Margaret's church opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The abbey has also been the setting for every coronation since William the Conqueror's in 1066. It is a so-called Royal Peculiar, under the jurisdiction of its dean and chapter and answering directly to the Queen rather than a diocesan bishop.


One Brit dares to condemn Black racism

And the black racist actually confirmed her racial thinking later. Her thinking is in fact perfectly reasonable but if a white politician had said something similar, all hell would have broken loose right across the country

Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott was seething after being branded a ‘racist’ and an expenses cheat by political pundit Andrew Neil. Left-winger Ms Abbott was savaged by Mr Neil on his late-night BBC show This Week over her decision to send her son James to the £12,700-a-year City of London School.

Ms Abbott, who earned £36,000 a year as a regular guest on the show alongside Michael Portillo until stepping down to fight for the Labour leadership, had defended her stance, saying: ‘West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children.’

Mr Neil hit back by demanding: ‘So black mums love their kids more than white mums, do they?’

Furious Ms Abbott said: ‘I have said everything I am going to say about where I send my son to school.’

Mr Neil persisted: ‘Supposing Michael said white mums will go to the wall for their children. Why did you say that? Isn’t it a racist remark? If West Indian mums are as wonderful as you say, why are there so many dysfunctional West Indian families
in this country? And why do so many young West Indian men end up in a life of crime and gangs? ‘You didn’t want your son to go to a school full of kids who have been brought up by West Indian mums.’

As Ms Abbott repeatedly refused to reply, Mr Neil asked: ‘Would you like to make it clear that West Indian mums are no better than white mums or Asian mums?’

When Ms Abbott, squirming in her seat, replied, ‘I have nothing to say,’ Mr Neil taunted her: ‘You don’t want to do that – you still think West Indian mums are the best?’

The clash came after Ms Abbott said last week: ‘I knew what could happen if my son went to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd. They are subjected to peer pressure and when that happens it’s very hard for a mother to save her son. Once a black boy is lost to the world of gangs it’s very hard to get them back.’


Thousands take to the streets to mark Britain's Armed Forces Day

This would have caused some teeth-grinding among Britain's many far-Leftists. Anything that celebrates Britain is anathema to their hate-filled minds

In glorious sunshine Britain paid joyful tribute to the cream of its military on Saturday as thousands took to the streets to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

In the shadow of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, where the main parade was held, veterans of World War Two, the Falklands War and soldiers who have served in Afghanistan marched side-by-side; age and youth united by pride in service to their country.

A 50,000 strong crowd lined the route from Cardiff Castle to Cardiff Bay to watch more than 200 march past, led by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in an open topped Rolls-Royce.

It was one of 350 events which took place across the country, in cities including Glasgow, Plymouth, Nottingham and Manchester. At Wimbledon, 14 servicemen and women were applauded by the Centre Court crowd as they took their seats in the Royal Box.

In Cardiff, The Duchess of Cornwall, in bright turquoise, was clearly thrilled to be taking part. She waved and smiled happily at the crowd, many of them waving Union Flags and Welsh flags, and tapped her fingers in time to the stirring military tunes played by the band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. As her husband climbed onto the podium at the Bay to take the salute she playfully dusted down his collar, sharing a private joke.

The Prince, Royal Colonel of the Welsh Guards and Colonel in Chief of the 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards – both on parade yesterday – wore the ceremonial uniform General as he took his place beside two Royal Artillery Regimental Guns.

The day had got under way shortly before 11am when the government representatives – Liam Fox, secretary of state for defence and Cheryl Gillan, secretary of state for Wales – were introduced to old soldiers, several of whom had recently attended the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk in France.

The Queen sent a message of support, saying the troops operated in the "most difficult and dangerous of circumstances". "The men and women of our Armed Forces have always been admirable examples of professionalism and courage," she said. "Then as now, they perform their duties in often the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, both at home and overseas."

In A private speech to troops and their families Dr Fox said that Islamic extremists who disrupt the homecoming parade of British troops should be “silenced”. “Let’s silence the negative voices that attack our Armed Forces but gladly enjoy the security and freedom our Armed Forces provide,” he said.

“While those who criticise our Armed Forces have a right to do so in a democracy, we too, as the moral majority, have a right to take pride in the flag of our nation, an emblem of the freedom we hold dear as the true British patriots, and the freedom that most races, cultures and faiths will aspire to.”

Peter Featherstone-Williams, 52, a Falklands War veteran, who served as a radio officer first class on-board HMS Bristol, a type 82 guided missile destroyer, was among six veterans and members of the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 who had spent Friday night camped out on the banks of the Taff river especially to celebrate the Cardiff event.

"I cannot describe the utter pride I feel, to watch the young serving men and older veterans being clapped and cheered like this," he said as he took his place in the Bay, shortly before the Drumhead Service. "It is so important that younger generations see firsthand the unbreakable bond that unites men who have seen combat. "It doesn't matter which conflict you served in. That bond is there. And to see the public take pride in what we have done and applaud the brave squaddies of today who are still proud to wear the uniform is a wonderful thing to witness."

For Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton the highlight of the day was the fly-past by The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – comprising a Lancaster and a Spitfire. "The BBMF is a source of national pride, an example of the nation's resilience and indomitable spirit in the face of adversity and a tangible link between the modern RAF and its illustrious forefathers," he said...

In carnival spirit the crowd, many of them young families, sat spellbound as veterans talked of their memories and regaled teenagers with slightly more ribald versions of World War Two ditties....

On Saturday, Edinburgh was named as the host of next year's Armed Forces Day.


The union-only protection racket

by Jeff Jacoby

THIS IS THE KIND OF THING, Charlie Baker was saying one day last week, that "makes people crazy about state government."

The Republican gubernatorial candidate was standing near the site of the University of Massachusetts-Boston's forthcoming expansion -- a 10-year master plan for at least $750 million in new construction and renovation projects. On June 14, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority had voted to proceed under a Project Labor Agreement, meaning that only workers who pay dues to a union will be hired for one of the largest building projects now in the offing. Since roughly 80 percent of the construction workforce in Massachusetts is open-shop (non-union), the PLA amounts to naked political favoritism for organized labor -- and a raw deal for everyone else. Baker condemns PLAs as unjust, and pledges to ban them in state contracts if elected.

Governor Deval Patrick, on the other hand, openly touts his success in steering lucrative construction contracts to the politically-wired sliver of trade workers who choose to belong to a union. "Take our biggest construction project, the $300 million undertaking at Worcester State Hospital," he told the Building Trades Conference in Plymouth in March. "96 percent of the construction spending is being carried out by union workers."
Something is plainly wrong when elected officials boast of excluding the vast majority of contractors and their employees from the chance to work on public projects. If the situation were reversed -- if union members were the ones being blackballed by the administration -- voters would be outraged. Is it any less outrageous when bids are rigged in favor of unions?

There is no economic rationale for these union-only deals. They are discriminatory and anticompetitive, and thus drive up costs significantly. When Suffolk University's Beacon Hill Institute analyzed the costs of building126 Boston-area schools, it found that PLAs inflated the winning bids for construction projects by almost 14 percent, and added an extra 12 percent to the actual construction costs. When it comes to public construction, PLAs all but guarantee that taxpayers will be overcharged. As The Wall Street Journal observed wryly in April: "Boston's Big Dig, Seattle's Safeco Field, Los Angeles's Eastside Reservoir project, the San Francisco airport, Detroit's Comerica Park -- all were built under PLAs marked by embarrassing cost overruns."

Baker describes the Patrick administration's decision to require a PLA for the UMass-Boston overhaul as "arrogant." But that doesn't really go far enough.

The primary justification for PLAs is that they preserve "labor peace." Union leaders promise not to strike or otherwise disrupt a construction project in exchange for the government's guarantee that all contractors hired to do the work will operate as union shops and that all workers will pay union dues. PLAs, in other words, amount to a protection racket. To put it in Hollywood terms, unions tell government officials: "Nice construction project ya got here. Be a shame if somethin' was to . . . happen to it."

Not surprisingly, taxpayers resent such extortion. Earlier this month, voters in the southern California municipalities of Oceanside and Chula Vista handily enacted ballot initiatives prohibiting PLAs on city-funded construction. A similar measure goes on the ballot in San Diego in November.

According to a statewide Suffolk University-7 News survey taken in March, Massachusetts residents have no use for PLAs either. Asked whether private contractors working on public projects should be compelled to hire exclusively through union hiring halls, 69 percent said No. Opposition to excluding non-union laborers from work that their taxes help fund was expressed by clear majorities of both men (77 percent) and women (61 percent); of Democrats (52 percent), Republicans (88 percent), and independents (76 percent); of whites (69 percent) and minorities (67 percent). The same was true when respondents were sorted by age or geography -- strong majorities were against union-only mandates. Even among union households, 59 percent were opposed.

If support for open competition on public projects is so unambiguous, why doesn't Patrick join Baker in renouncing deals like the one effectively shutting out open-shop contractors from UMass-Boston? With voters so opposed to PLAs, what does the governor gain -- or think he gains -- from embracing them? It's that kind of thing that "makes people crazy about state government," Baker says. That's a message he should keep hammering home.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Democrats' Vision Problem

Jonah Goldberg

Head to the local big-box electronics store and buy yourself: a Panasonic home theater system ($500), an Insignia 50-inch plasma HDTV ($700), an Apple 8GB iPod Touch ($175), a Sony 3-D Blu-ray disc player ($219), a Sony 300-CD changer ($209), a Garmin portable GPS ($139), a Sony 14.1-megapixel digital camera ($200), a Dell Inspiron laptop computer ($450) and a TiVo high-definition digital video recorder ($300).

This is not an endorsement of any of these products. I don't own any of them (though if the manufacturers are keen to find out my opinion, they can send me some non-returnable demos). But you can fill your shopping cart with these items for less than $3,000. The average American worker needs to work 152 hours to earn that much money.

In 1964, however, the average American worker could buy one pricey stereo from Radio Shack after working 152 hours. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry, a University of Michigan economist, crunched the numbers.

What's the point? Well, there's a big one. We are constantly told that the American working man is so much worse off than he used to be. And if you measure income one way, you can make that case.

Indeed, the Democratic Party in recent years has become obsessed in looking at the economy only in that one negative way to justify its avocation: giving more stuff to the poor and middle class because they are "falling behind."

The wealth of nations, according to Adam Smith, the founding father of the market economy, is not measured in GDP or cash reserves. Rather, it "consists in the cheapness of provision and all other necessaries and conveniences of life."

By that standard, American wealth in general, and the wealth of poor Americans, has skyrocketed in the last half-century, and the government had relatively little -- though certainly not nothing -- to do with it. And it's not just that consumer items are cheaper than ever, they're also better than ever. An iPhone today isn't just better than yesterday's phones, it's better than yesterday's cameras, calculators, portable stereos and computers. Many of the standard features on a 2010 Honda Accord were considered luxury items 10 years ago and almost unimaginable 20 years ago.

Now, you might argue that while, say, TiVo might be a great convenience, it's not a necessity. Given the divergent TV tastes in the Goldberg household, I might disagree. But fair enough: The real necessities are food, clothing, shelter and medical care, according to most people.

Well, food has gotten steadily cheaper -- for everybody -- over the last century. For instance, Perry calculates that eggs cost about one-tenth as much as they did at the beginning of the century. Moreover, Americans, with their allegedly stingy government, pay about half as much for food as Europeans do.

So, what has gotten more expensive? According to St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz, there are only four areas that have become more expensive over the last century as measured in their "labor price": housing, cars, higher education and medical care. With the arguable exception of a college degree, all are marked with wildly improved quality. And the main reason for rising medical and college costs (and to a lesser degree housing costs) is that the government has distorted the market by "helping."

For example, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., underwent Lasik eye surgery in 2000. He paid cash, and it cost $2,000 an eye. "Since then," he told the Washington Post, "it's been revolutionized three times and now costs $800 an eye. This sector isn't immune from free-market principles." No, but it is protected from them.

Even so, the costs of housing, food and clothing combined have dropped over the last century from about 75 percent of the average family's expenditures to around 35 percent, largely thanks to the ability of the market to democratize innovation and decrease the cost of necessities and conveniences.

None of this is to say that the middle class and the poor aren't facing tough times, or that our government policies are perfectly suited to their needs.

But ever since the dawn of the Obama presidency millennia ago, the air has been thick with claims that government needs to get much more deeply involved in the private sector. According to Obama and Co., only government can provide what the working people in America need, and "doing nothing" is the only unacceptable suggestion. "The one thing I don't want to hear," as Obama likes to say, is that more government isn't the answer.

Maybe he should get his hearing checked by the same guy who did Ryan's eyes


The shallow socialism of hating Michael O’Leary

As evidenced in a new collection of his ‘wit and wisdom’, the cocky Ryanair boss both embarrasses his fellow capitalists and annoys the hell out of anti-capitalists

by Brendan O’Neill

‘For years flying has been the preserve of rich f*ckers. Now everyone can afford to fly.’ At a time when capitalists have had every drop of character wrung out of them by being forced to learn managementspeak and to rebrand themselves as ‘socially responsible’ in order not to upset the likes of Naomi Klein, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, sticks out like *** in a punch bowl. Or like a pope on a Ryanair flight. (O’Leary dressed up as the pope to preach about the wondrousness of low air fares on Ryanair’s first flight from Dublin to Rome.)

In recent decades CEOs around the world have been forced to wash their gobs out with the soap of corporate responsibility, giving rise to a generation of fat capitalist bosses who are not fat, not openly capitalistic, and not particularly bossy. Yet O’Leary, as evidenced in this new collection of his ‘wit and wisdom’, talks openly about wanting to make as much moolah as possible as quickly as possible. ‘If the drink sales are falling off, we get the pilots to engineer a bit of air turbulence. That usually spikes up the drink sales’, he says. And that’s the thing with leery O’Leary – you don’t know if he’s joking or not.

I feel torn about O’Leary, not knowing whether to like him or loathe him, mainly because I’m a Marxist. But – and this is absolutely true – I first felt the tingling of Marxist thought in the nerve endings of my brain while on one of those vomit-inducing, wailing-baby-packed ferry crossings between Britain and Ireland. I was 18 and sailing from Dublin to Holyhead, devouring Lenin’s State and Revolution in one of the ship’s corridors (because it was the only place on the godforsaken vessel where there wasn’t a drunk person singing ‘The Fields of Athenrye’) in preparation for a discussion about the book back in London. ‘The working class must break up, smash the “readymade state machinery”, and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it’, Lenin said, making me wish the ship would hurry up so that I could get back to London and start rousing for a revolution.

Yet now, courtesy of O’Leary’s exploitation of airline workers, I can get to Ireland, puke-free and feeling fresh, in two hours rather than twenty and for a tenner (if I’m lucky) rather than £100. As O’Leary himself says: ‘The alternative to progress is Thomas Hardy’s Wessex: horse-drawn carts, people living below the poverty line, and only the very rich going on Italian tours. Now we make it possible for everybody to go on Italian tours.’ What’s a modern Marxist to do?

It’s easy to see why O’Leary, who since 1985 has turned Ryanair from a tiny Irish airline with one plane flying between Gatwick and Waterford into the largest airline in Europe, winds people up. He irritates his fellow capitalists because he refuses to follow the PC rules of the new Caring Capitalism and thus exists as a constant reminder (a constant reminder known to dress as Santa for press conferences) of what capitalists are primarily motivated by: maximising profit. And he annoys the hell out of what passes for radical anti-capitalists these days because he refuses to play their game: to be meek, to apologise for making money, to make ads featuring black kids and white kids running through deserts to a soundtrack of Kiri Te Kanawa (he prefers ads featuring sexy women dressed as schoolgirls under the banner ‘HOTTEST back-to-school air fares’).

What other CEO could have a collection of his quotations published? O’Leary is un-PC. ‘Germans will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get low fares’, he says. He’s confrontational. On greens he says: ‘We want to annoy the f*ckers whenever we can. The best thing to do with environmentalists is shoot them.’ He’s unapologetic. On Ryanair’s ‘No Refund’ policy, he has said: ‘You are not getting a refund so f*ck off.’ And: ‘We are not interested in your sob stories.’ And: ‘People will say, “As the Founding Fathers wrote down in the American Constitution, we have the inalienable right to bear arms and send in our complaints by email.” No you bloody don’t. So go away.’ And: ‘We don’t fall over ourselves if you say “My granny fell ill”. What part of “No Refund” don’t you understand?’

Unlike Lord Alan Sugar, he doesn’t cosy up to politicians. ‘If I were David Cameron I would stop competing over who is better at riding a bicycle and call for a serious debate on the next generation of nuclear power stations. Sticking a windmill on top of your house is not the answer.’ He hates the EU oligarchy. ‘Sometimes it’s good to show Brussels the two fingers’, he has said. ‘Yes I have read the Lisbon Treaty. It’s a f*cking pain-in-the-arse document. I nearly died of boredom’, he said in the run-up to the first Irish referendum on Lisbon in 2008, before telling Irish voters that they should say ‘Yes’ to it anyway because that would be in his – ie, a European-based capitalist’s – interests. In a recent newspaper interview he said: ‘I’m disrespectful towards what is perceived to be authority. Like, I think the prime minister of Ireland is a gobshite.’

He saves his hottest ire for environmentalists. There is not a businessman on Earth (well, none that I know of) who isn’t currently bending over backwards to appease his green critics by drafting emission-reduction strategies etczzz – except, that is, O’Leary. ‘The BBC runs green week, ITV runs greener week, Sky runs even greener week, Channel 4 runs even bloody greener week, and each time they use a picture of aircraft taking off’, he complains (quite accurately as it happens).

When the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said in 2006 that flying is a sin, O’Leary accused the man of God of spouting the ‘usual cliched horseshit that he obviously heard at some dinner party with the chatterati’. Most eco-criminally of all, O’Leary has said: ‘The fact that our tea and coffee supplier is a Fairtrade brand is a welcome bonus, but the decision was based on lowering costs. We’d change to a non-Fairtrade brand in the morning if it was cheaper.’ And his vision for the future? ‘Let’s go nuclear… and then watch the eco-nuts go crazy.’

O’Leary’s verbal assaults on the sandal-wearing brigade (as he refers to them) captures why he is so hated, why some greens and anti-capitalists are more agitated by his capitalist company than by almost any other (apart, of course, from BP). Ours is an age of capitalism-in-denial, when capitalists are encouraged to present themselves as ethical actors rather than profit-makers and to hold back from doing too much R&D in case it leads to the further dirtying of the planet by mankind’s greedy, grubby hand. Indeed, there has been a wacky meeting of minds between capitalists and anti-capitalists in recent years, as both have reoriented themselves around the project of Making Capitalism Nicer – the bosses by investing billions into corporate social responsibility projects, and their critics by staging carnivalesque protests whose main demand can be summed up as: ‘You need to be even more corporately socially responsible and stuff!’

This bizarre political union between the fat cats and the skinny anti-caps is best captured by the fact that, in the words of Reason magazine, Naomi Klein’s anti-capitalist bible No Logo has ‘inadvertently served as the most influential marketing manual of the decade’, as big companies have incorporated its anti-branding, pro-caring message into the big consensual mission to make capitalism less fat, ugly and cocky.

And the problem with O’Leary – ‘jumped-up Paddy’ that he is (his words) – is that he’s pissing on the parade. His refusal to bend the knee to the social and responsible and green agendas serves to remind us that, actually, capitalism is still about exploitation, division, conflict. Asked how he keeps his staff motivated and happy, he said: ‘Fear.’ He doesn’t play the ‘I love my staff’ game played by other bosses (who then think nothing of sacking people), instead saying: ‘MBA students come out with, “My staff is my most important asset.” Bullshit. Staff is usually your biggest cost.’

He reminds us that the relationship between state regulation and capitalist enterprise is still often a fraught one. On the European Commission’s introduction of new rules in relation to low-fare airlines, he said: ‘There are f*cking Kim Il-Jungs in the Commission. You cannot have civil servants trying to design rules that make everything a level playing field. That’s called North f*cking Korea and everybody is starving there.’ And his loudmouthness reminds us that capitalists are more than happy to f*ck (to use O’Learyspeak) the workers when they need to: ‘I don’t give a damn about labour laws in France. We’ll break the laws in France if that’s what needs to be done.’

With his unguarded utterances, O’Leary reveals that capitalism is not – and never will be – a hunky-dory arena in which floppy-haired bosses and their ping-pong-playing workforce gather together to make the world a better place. Instead there’s tension, there’s competition, there’s self-interest, there’s fear, there’s conflict, there’s angst.

The capitalists hate him for this because he is giving voice to the kind of deep-seated issues that they have worked hard to rebrand. And because - with his undoubted impact of changing many people’s lives for the better by opening up virtually the whole of Europe to the less well-off - he reminds today’s undynamic, conservative, regulation-inviting capitalists what their class used to do as a byproduct of their drive to maximise profits: break down barriers and drive the economy and society into new areas.

And the ‘anti-capitalists’ hate O’Leary’s outspokenness because for them – obsessed as they are with the surface of capitalism rather than its inner workings and relations – there is nothing worse than an arrogant, foul-mouthed, money-making man. Indeed, the anti-O’Leary outlook in radical circles captures how shallow contemporary anti-capitalism is. Today’s rads are less concerned with the exploitation of workers and the hampering of human progress than they are with the logos and wording and cockiness levels of contemporary capitalism. Which is why they hate Ryanair but love Whole Foods.

Indeed, such is the backward-looking nature of ‘anti-capitalism’ today that O’Leary, simply by being an anti-green blusterer and wind-up merchant of epic proportions, can come across as more progressive than his anti-capitalist critics. Where they want to ground flights, or at least make them more expensive in order to make them less frequent and thus help ‘save the planet’, O’Leary says: ‘[In the past], nobody moved more than three miles from where they were born. Young people now want to go to Ibiza on bonking holidays. Let them. Ask them in downtown Afghanistan if they would like the M25 and they would bite your hand off.’ At the very least, the rise of Ryanair has allowed me and millions of others to get off those bloody ferries and into the skies, which gives us far more free time to do other things – even to continue reading Lenin and to dream of that revolution.


Boo to the Rooney-bashers

England’s finest footballer needs to be let off the leash, not lectured about his anger, language and beliefs

In England’s dismal start to the World Cup, the most depressing thing ‘for me’ (as all pundits must say these days) was seeing Wayne Rooney forced to apologise to the nation for ‘any offence caused’ by his criticism of the England fans who booed the team at the end of the Algeria debacle.

Of course the disappointed fans in South Africa have the right to boo, barrack or bollock as they see fit – free speech is the least you should expect for such an expensive trip. But then the frustrated Rooney should also be free to reply in kind. Surely the football fans of today are not so pathetic as to be mortally offended by Rooney’s rather restrained riposte, to the TV cameras, ‘Nice to see your own fans booing you’. Yet the media and self-appointed fans’ spokespersons decided this was, in the words of the BBC’s normally opinion-free Alan Shearer, ‘totally unacceptable’, with many apparently more upset about Rooney’s momentary ejaculation than by the load of wank he and his team mates served up for 180 minutes on the pitch.

Indeed it has become open season on Rooney, who has apparently gone from national hero to zero overnight, accused of insulting the nation, misleading the youth and embodying What’s Wrong With Football. You surely know you are in trouble when the execrable Piers ‘Moron’ Morgan not only demands that you be dropped from the England team but also feels free to describe you as an ‘overblown, overpaid, overhyped halfwit’ who has ‘committed that hideously self-defeating crime of starting to believe his own bulls**t’, in a contender for the pots-and-kettles remark of the year.

What’s going on? The shock-horror headlines about Rooney ought to be no more than ‘Very good footballer has couple of very bad games’. And given the goldfish-like attention span of much of the media, should he score against Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon and England scrape through to the knockout stages, no doubt he will be lauded once again.

Yet much of the recent Rooney-bashing has relatively little to do with events on the field. It shows another side of what is really ‘wrong with the game today’. Football has become so over-inflated in importance that somebody such as Rooney is now expected to carry not only the nation’s sporting dreams but also its moral welfare. Brought on as a substitute for society’s crocked public life, football has in effect become a receptacle for all of the cultural crap of the twenty-first century, from ‘role models’ and thin-skinned syndrome to political correctness and therapy culture. Rooney now finds himself in the firing line of all that.

Since he exploded on to the football stage aged 16, there has always been an ambivalence about Rooney, the brilliant Scouse ‘rough diamond’ from the streets of Croxteth – especially among the New Football crowd. He was mocked for supposedly being thick and uncultured, from a fighting Irish background – and then mocked again for going ‘posh’ when it was reported that he was studying for a couple of GCSEs (his childhood sweetheart and wife, Coleen, already has a hatful) and following the lead of his Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, by taking an interest in what Fergie no doubt calls ‘feen weens’.

The recent Rooney hullabaloo shows that he has become so elevated in the football firmament, however, that his every word and deed must be subjected to serious analysis and portentous meaning. The player who stands out for his combination of being an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent is no longer, it seems, allowed to be normal, with the normal emotions and beliefs of other people.

So when Rooney answered a press conference question about the large crucifix he wears in training by saying straightforwardly ‘It’s my religion’, he was immediately cut short by a Football Association PR man stating, Ali Campbell-like, ‘We don’t do religion’. Why? Presumably they were worried that Rooney might offend and alienate all non-Catholic England fans.

And when Rooney complained to those TV cameras while being booed off at the end of the Algeria game, it was not considered enough for the management to tell him to ‘calm down’ in the style of Harry Enfield’s Scousers. Instead he had to be put both in the stocks and on a couch by the national media, with pundits condemning him for setting a bad example while experts lined up to express their fears that Rooney is a ‘timebomb’ waiting to explode England’s campaign. The therapy culture that has forced footballers such as Tony Adams and Paul Merson to go through the public confessional in the past was now homing in on Rooney. It was sad to see the player who refused to apologise after being sent off in the last World Cup being browbeaten into bending the knee so quickly this time.

But why should Rooney or any other footballer be expected to act as a role model for anybody else? What on earth is wrong with being angry and frustrated and kicking holes in the wall when your whole World Cup appears to be going down the drain?

Some of us could not care less about the drone of the self-righteous media moralisers and the self-appointed spokesman for England fandom on the websites and radio phone-ins. Rooney is a footballer. What matters is how he performs on the pitch. He has been playing badly under the weight of expectations (and possibly of injury). And all of the excess baggage he has been loaded down with in recent weeks is hardly going to help.

As I have noted before, ‘for me’ Rooney is the finest England footballer seen in 40 years since the golden generation of Booby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves (only Paul Gascoigne in his short-lived pomp comes close). Rooney has the talent to take on the world, as he showed as a teenager in Euro 2004. There is surely a danger however of some of the spirit being knocked out of him. He has already been hobbled by being messed about by Ferguson at United, who made him act like a water-carrier for Ronaldo before finally giving him his head last season. In the first two World Cup games he seemed hidebound playing for Capello’s England, where he has so far been denied the freedom to rampage around as he does like nobody else. When your world-class striker starts coming back to the halfway line looking for the ball, you are in serious trouble.

Instead of letting Rooney loose, however, we seem intent on tying him up in yet more rules and etiquette and analysing the life out of him. Enough.

Sport is perhaps the one area of life where it is still possible for grown men and women to have heroes. If so, Rooney is my hero – a truly remarkable thing for a Manchester United fan ever to say about a Scouser. Like many others, I could not care less about his religious beliefs or language skills or his anger management issues or whatever. I do not want him to teach my children how to behave – that is my job. His is to show us things with a football that we could never dream of doing.

The boy-man wonder may be seen by some just now as, in the words of one headline ‘Rooney the loony’. But he is our loony. That is football, whether those who treat it as a national moral crusade/therapy session understand it or not.

Should England mess up again versus Slovenia on Wednesday and be eliminated from the World Cup that some foolhardily claimed they would win, no doubt Rooney will be crucified again by erstwhile worshippers in the media for his mistakes and faux pas. The same thing happened to David Beckham of course after he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup. When he was subsequently booed by some opposition supporters around the country, United fans responded with a rousing chorus of ‘You can stick your fucking England up your arse’. I would not blame Rooney if he responded in similarly unrestrained terms next time.


1948, Israel, and the Palestinians — the true Story

Far from being the hapless objects of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who from the early 1920’s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival. This campaign culminated in the violent attempt to abort the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, which called for the establishment of two states in Palestine. Had these leaders, and their counterparts in the neighboring Arab states, accepted the UN resolution, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place.

The simple fact is that the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” The words are those of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the branch of Zionism that was the forebear of today’s Likud party. In a famous 1923 article, Jabotinsky voiced his readiness “to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.”

Eleven years later, Jabotinsky presided over the drafting of a constitution for Jewish Palestine. According to its provisions, Arabs and Jews were to share both the prerogatives and the duties of statehood, including most notably military and civil service.

Hebrew and Arabic were to enjoy the same legal standing, and “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice-versa.”

If this was the position of the more “militant” faction of the Jewish national movement, mainstream Zionism not only took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the future Jewish state but went out of its way to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence. In January 1919, Chaim Weizmann, then the upcoming leader of the Zionist movement, reached a peace-and-cooperation agreement with the Hashemite emir Faisal ibn Hussein, the effective leader of the nascent pan-Arab movement.

From then until the proclamation of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, Zionist spokesmen held hundreds of meetings with Arab leaders at all levels. These included Abdullah ibn Hussein, Faisal’s elder brother and founder of the emirate of Transjordan (later the kingdom of Jordan), incumbent and former prime ministers in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq, senior advisers of King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (founder of Saudi Arabia), and Palestinian Arab elites of all hues.

As late as September 15, 1947, two months before the passing of the UN partition resolution, two senior Zionist envoys were still seeking to convince Abdel Rahman Azzam, the Arab League’s secretary-general, that the Palestine conflict “was uselessly absorbing the best energies of the Arab League,” and that both Arabs and Jews would greatly benefit “from active policies of cooperation and development.” Behind this proposition lay an age-old Zionist hope: that the material progress resultingfrom Jewish settlement of Palestine would ease the path for the local Arab populace to become permanently reconciled, if not positively well disposed, to the project of Jewish national self-determination.

As David Ben-Gurion, soon to become Israel’s first prime minister, argued in December 1947: "If the Arab citizen will feel at home in ourstate, . . . if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social,and cultural level of the Jewish community,then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge will be built to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance".

On the face of it, Ben-Gurion’s hope rested on reasonable grounds. An inflow of Jewish immigrants and capital after World War I had revived Palestine’s hitherto static condition and raised the standard of living of its Arab inhabitants well above that in the neighboring Arab states. The expansion of Arab industry and agriculture, especially in the field of citrus growing, was largely financed by the capital thus obtained, and Jewish know-how did much to improve Arab cultivation. In the two decades between the world wars, Arab-owned citrus plantations grew sixfold, as did vegetable-growing lands, while the number of olive groves quadrupled.

No less remarkable were the advances in social welfare. Perhaps most significantly, mortality rates in the Muslim population dropped sharply and life expectancy rose from 37.5 years in 1926-27 to 50 in 1942-44 (compared with 33 in Egypt). The rate of natural increase leapt upward by a third.

That nothing remotely akin to this was taking place in the neighboring British-ruled Arab countries, not to mention India, can be explained only by the decisive Jewish contribution to Mandate Palestine’s socioeconomic well-being....

Had the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs been left to their own devices, they would most probably have been content to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. This is evidenced by the fact that, throughout the Mandate era, periods of peaceful coexistence far exceeded those of violent eruptions,and the latter were the work of only a small fraction of Palestinian Arabs.

Unfortunately for both Arabs and Jews, however, the hopes and wishes of ordinary people were not taken into account, as they rarely are in authoritarian communities hostile to the notions of civil society or liberal democracy. In the modern world, moreover, it has not been the poor and the oppressed who have led the great revolutions or carried out the worst deeds of violence, but rather militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed classes of society....

In Palestine, ordinary Arabs were persecuted and murdered by their alleged betters for the crime of “selling Palestine” to the Jews. Meanwhile, these same betters were enriching themselves with impunity....

It was the mufti’s concern with solidifying his political position that largely underlay the 1929 carnage in which 133 Jews were massacred and hundreds more were wounded—just as it was the struggle for political preeminence that triggered the most protracted outbreak of Palestinian Arab violence in 1936-39. This was widely portrayed as a nationalist revolt against both the ruling British and the Jewish refugees then streaming into Palestine to escape Nazi persecution. In fact, it was a massive exercise in violence that saw far more Arabs than Jews or Englishmen murdered by Arab gangs, that repressed and abused the general Arab population, and that impelled thousands of Arabs to flee the country in a foretaste of the 1947-48 exodus.

Some Palestinian Arabs, in fact, preferred to fight back against their inciters, often in collaboration with the British authorities and the Hagana, the largest Jewish underground defense organization. Still others sought shelter in Jewish neighborhoods.

Much more HERE


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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, June 25, 2010

Grieving families left distraught after British council rules that wooden crosses are 'too dangerous' for cemeteries

A small wooden cross in a cemetery is "dangerous"? Pull the other one! It's just that Leftist hatred of Christianity again

A council is under fire for banning crosses from one of its cemeteries - over health and safety fears. Families have been left distraught after North Somerset Council started to remove wooden crosses from its graveyards.

One woman has told how her mother-in-law's grave was targeted after she died of cancer in May. Liz Maggs placed a 26-inch high wooden cross bearing a personal inscription on Rosemary Maggs' burial plot at the Ebdon Road cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, while the family waited for a headstone to be made.

But when Mrs Maggs, 43, returned to visit the grave with her husband Charles and daughters Zoe, 16, and Danielle, 14, just a few days later she found the cross had disappeared.

She reported it stolen to cemetery staff but they told her it had been removed because it did not meet council regulations.

Mrs Maggs, a carer, was told if she wanted the cross back she had to go and look in an alleyway at the back of the cemetery where items which had been removed from graves were stored.

The fact that the cross had been removed upset Danielle so much that she collapsed. The teenager has been in hospital since September for treatment for a stomach condition and is only allowed out on rare occasions.

Mrs Maggs said the family paid more than £1,000 for the triple plot. She said she was not made aware of the guidelines and decided on the wooden cross after seeing dozens of similar tributes on other graves.

She said: 'The whole incident has left us all very upset. We had a look around and saw wooden crosses on other graves so thought something similar would be appropriate.'

She added: 'When I complained to the cemetery staff I was told it was removed as it did not adhere to regulations and it could pose a health and safety hazard. 'I am very angry that it was removed without us being told.

'I think the rules are completely over the top and this incident has been very upsetting at a time when the family is distressed.' Mrs Maggs has now taken the cross home and placed it in the family's garden.

North Somerset Council said the cross on Rosemary Maggs's grave was not suitable because all the other graves in the cemetery had flat memorials, not upright headstones.

The authority said that because the cross stood about 2ft up from the ground it was a health and safety risk.

Council spokesman Nick Yates said: 'There are a number of regulations we ask people to follow and our staff did discuss with the family what could be placed in the cemetery and we do give relatives written information to this effect. 'Our staff try to deal with all situations in a sensitive way.'


Useless British police again

A once-distinguished body destroyed by political correctness and bureaucracy

A mother who accidentally locked her baby in a hot car was forced to smash her way into the vehicle with a hammer after the emergency services failed to turn up.

Leeona Woodburn, 20, from Kendal, Cumbria, phoned 999 as soon as she realised her son Logan was trapped inside the car. Almost thirty minutes later nobody had arrived to help her, so she grabbed a hammer from nearby National Tyres mechanic Steven Savage and smashed a rear car window. She was able to rescue her seven-month-old son herself but he was suffering from dehydration and had to be taken to see a doctor.

Miss Woodburn said: 'I was waiting and waiting and getting really distressed. I was told a police car would be sent straight over. 'Twenty-five minutes later I called them again and this time the woman on the other end said they weren't coming at all. 'They said it was a matter for the fire service. At that point I knew I couldn't wait any longer, I thought my son was going to die.

'Thirty minutes in that situation is a lifetime. It was a baking hot day and my son was scared, crying and started to throw up he was so hot. 'By the time I got him out he was absolutely dripping with sweat. I got him to the doctor who said he was suffering from dehydration.'

Miss Woodburn said she called 999 because that was the only number she knew and she does not understand why a fire engine was not called out on her behalf. 'If the police couldn't help, why didn't they send someone else?'

Mr Savage said: 'That baby was in a bad way by the time we got to him, because he was so hot. 'You'd expect the emergency services to rush to a situation like that. We were more than happy to help by giving Miss Woodburn the tools, but I am shocked the fire service was not sent.'

Chief Inspector Gordon Rutherford, head of Cumbria police communications centre, said: 'We are extremely sorry for the distress caused to Ms Woodburn.

'I have spoken to her to offer my sincere apologies and inform her that an investigation has been launched. 'This is not an example of the high level of service that Cumbria Constabulary routinely delivers. 'I would have expected a call handler to reassure Ms Woodburn and either inform her that officers would be with her in a set period of time or contact the fire service or AA to gain entry to her vehicle.' [Translation: We are embrarrassed to have our indifference publicized]


Jewish dance group attacked in Germany

But Muslim antisemitism is OK of course

A JEWISH dance group was attacked with stones by a group of children and teenagers during a performance at a street festival in the Germany city of Hannover.

One dancer suffered a leg injury and the group then cancelled their performance.

The teenagers also used a megaphone to shout anti-Semitic slurs during the Saturday afternoon attack, Hannover police spokesman Thorsten Schiewe said.

Police said the incident is under investigation and that they do not have an exact number of attackers yet.

Mr Schiewe said there were several Muslim immigrant youths among the attackers.

Two suspects, a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old, were being questioned, he said.

Alla Volodarska, whose Progressive Jewish Community of Hannover group held the performance, said that members were still in shock.

"What happened is just so awful. The teenagers started throwing stones the moment our dance group was announced, even before they started dancing."

Ms Volodarska said she did not attend the event herself, but had talked to several members of the eight-person dance group since the incident.

She said one dancer, a woman in her forties, was injured by several stones that hit her leg.

"There were many kids throwing stones, many of them, but we don't know the exact number," she said, adding that the community had performed Israeli group dances at many festivals in the past and never experienced this kind of hostility before.

Ms Volodarska said that the festival took place in Sahlkamp, an immigrant neighbourhood of Hannover.


More on Islamic derangement

That which a culture does not denounce, a culture promotes. Two items on the table tonight that need to get some wider play and some accompanying denunciation. First up, from Haaretz:
An Arabic children's choir has been racking up views all over the world with the new YouTube hit "when we die as martyrs, we will go to heaven."

The song was apparently recorded by the Jordanian-owned production company and television channel "birds of Paradise."

According to The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), one of the world's most comprehensive data centers on radical Islamic terrorist groups, the song is a hit on Arabic and worldwide websites and the children's choir performing it fast is becoming one of the most popular children's groups in the Arab world....

Journalist Fawzia Nasir al-Naeem wrote in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Jazirah that "[Birds of Paradise] is one of the most widely distributed children's song groups in the Arab world, and it seems to have crossed the ocean to Canada and Britain."

She added that the group represents a new wave in Jihadist youth indoctrination, as it is child-friendly, as opposed to previous Jihadist programs.

A culture that uses innocents to promote martydom is a culture that's sick. Beyond sick. It's evil. And there's nothing anyone can say that would convince me to see it differently. But wait... there's more cultural sickness:
Exactly three years ago, on May 22, 2007, an Egyptian scholar was disciplined by Al Azhar University, one of Islam's most prestigious institutions, after he issued a fatwa calling upon women to breastfeed their male colleagues. Dr. Izzat Attiyah said that his fatwa offered a way around mixing of the sexes in the work place since breast-feeding established a maternal relation even if the beneficiary was not the woman's biological son or daughter.

Now, a high-ranking Saudi, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican, a consultant at Saudi Arabia's royal court, has issued a fatwa asserting that women could give their milk to men to establish a degree of maternal relations and get around a strict religious ban on mixing between unrelated men and women. [Because] a man who often entered a house and came in contact with the womenfolk there should be made symbolically related to the women by drinking milk from one of the women. Under the fatwa, the act would preclude any sexual relations between the man and the donor woman and her relatives.

Sheikh al-Abaican thus "modernizes" Dr. Izzat's position — that the man must breastfeed directly from the teat — by suggesting that "the man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing....

At any rate, where do all these "adult breastfeeding" ideas originate? As usual: Muhammad. A canonical hadith tells of a woman who once asked Muhammad what to do about the fact that a young boy who had been living with her and her husband had grown into manhood: that a non-relative adult male was freely residing with them, seeing his wife without her veils, was upsetting to the husband. So the prophet told her to "breastfeed" the man. Shocked, she responded saying that he was a grown man; Muhammad said — according to some traditions, while laughing — "I know." The woman breastfed the man, and reportedly her husband was no longer upset, as the act of breastfeeding turned him into a kinsman. Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha — the "mother of the believers" — frequently relied on this practice to meet with non-related males (one of the greatest debates of her time revolved around how many "breastfeeds" were enough —one, five, or ten — to make a man a "family-member." See here for more hadiths).

The importance of this breastfeeding business has less to do with its sensationalist quality and more to do with what it says about the overbearing and intrusive nature of Sharia law in Muslim life. Muslims cannot escape adult breastfeeding simply because it is contained in Islam's most canonical hadiths (including Sahih Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawud and Ibn Maja). Moreover, it has been addressed — and endorsed — by such Islamic authorities as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Hazm. To reject this hadith is to reject the sources and methodology of usul al-fiqh — in short, to reject Sharia law.

Imagine for a moment with me... imagine that what you've just seen, heard and read, imagine if these things were practiced by a Christian sect... imagine if it were to become popular amongst many Christians... imagine the denunciations, how negative the press would be, how these items would be played over and over again on MSM outlets, how they'd be played again each year during Christmas and Easter... can you imagine the reaction?

But because these are Muslims, you'll only see this sort of thing if you go hunting for it... you know it's true. That which a culture does not denounce, a culture promotes.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.