Sunday, October 31, 2010

Centrist British Prime Minister won’t make me a Minister... I’m a white, married, Home Counties Christian, says Tory MP

A new Tory MP has made a scathing attack on David Cameron for pro­moting women and people from the ethnic minorities over ‘white, Christian, married’ men.

John Glen, the party’s former head of research, said his background effectively ruled him out for a min­isterial job under Mr Cameron. He said: ‘I don’t anticipate any early calls to Government. I’m a white, Christian, married bloke from the Home Counties so I probably don’t fit the description of what the leadership wants at the moment.’

The Salisbury MP, one of 147 new Tory MPs elected in May, should on paper be a potential high-flier in the Commons after running the respected Conservative Research Department following the 2005 General Election.

Previous Tory research chiefs who have gone on to top posts include Andrew Lansley, now the Health Secretary, and Chris Patten, who served as Conservative Party Chairman under John Major’s Government.

Mr Glen, 36, also accused Mr Cameron of ‘vetoing’ his bid to be Tory ­candidate three years ago and complained how he was initially left off the party’s controversial ‘A-list’ of fast-tracked candidates. And the Oxford-educated MP appeared to lash out at new Tory colleagues trying too hard to get noticed and ‘racing around and annoying everyone’.

Mr Glen said: ‘What is important is that you don’t lose your soul along the way. I’d rather be a damn good constituency MP and be known to speak the truth than someone who has got on the ladder too soon and is not experienced or able enough to deal with the pressure. I’ve noticed some colleagues out to make a name for themselves.’

His remarks, in an article for the Commons in-house journal The House Magazine, will revive the rows over Mr Cameron’s determination to rebrand his party by fast-tracking women and ethnic-minority parliamentary candidates over traditional Tory ‘pin-striped’ men prior to May’s General Election.

It led to the famous ‘Turnip Taliban’ revolt when Tories in South-West ­Norfolk unsuccessfully tried to ­deselect candidate Liz Truss over her failure to declare an earlier affair with married Tory MP Mark Field.

After the Election, many local activists who resented the ‘A-list’ priority candidates felt vindicated when a number failed to win. Five openly gay candidates were not elected, two of whom – David Gold in Eltham and Mark Coote in Cheltenham – were standing in seats pencilled in by Tory high command as easy wins.

Mr Glen complained that his political career suffered a ‘blow’ when he failed to be included on the first round of A-list candidates.

But even after he got on to a later priority list, he said the Tory leader blocked his bid to be the party’s candidate in Henley in 2008 – the safe seat vacated by Boris Johnson when he became London Mayor. Mr Glen said he was rejected even though his wife-to-be lived in the Oxfordshire town. Mr Glen wrote that ‘to his immense credit, David Cameron later apologised for what happened’.

However, he also complained that after Mr Cameron became party leader in December 2005, his career at Tory HQ ‘started to go wrong’ and that he was not appreciated by Steve Hilton, the new leader’s director of strategy and image guru.

‘I sensed that my days would be numbered, and in my early encounters with Steve Hilton and members of David Cameron’s office, I sensed a lack of esteem for what I could bring to the table,’ he said.

The MP also attacked the decision by close Cameron ally Francis Maude, now a Cabinet Office Minister, to ­abolish the Conservative Research Department as ‘very short-sighted’.

Last night, a fellow Conservative MP privately accused Mr Glen of ‘sour grapes’, saying that out of more than 100 Ministers in the Coalition, only 19 were women and only ‘a handful’ were from ethnic minorities.


The three-page health and safety form which is paralysing Britain's police

The questionnaire is only three pages long yet nothing illustrates more effectively how health and safety regulations have blighted the emergency services.

Last week, former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner David Gilbertson wrote about the corrosive effect of the ‘risk avoidance’ culture that now takes precedence over public duty. As Mr Gilbertson explained, the problem lies with the RA1, the emergency services’ risk-assessment form which is used to identify potential dangers of any operation.

And two episodes this week illustrate his point. At the inquest into the 7/7 London bombings, in which 52 people died, firefighters were forced to defend their decision not to enter a Tube tunnel until ‘protocols’ had been observed.

And at another inquest in Kettering, Northants, last Thursday, it was revealed that two men drowned in an icy lake as firefighters stood by, unable to help because they had only ‘basic water awareness training’. The fire services have a version of the RA1 form, as do each of the different police forces.

The Metropolitan Police’s RA1 requires officers to assess a checklist of 238 possible hazards before conducting any sort of planned operational activity, such as security at a football match, or any operation that is spontaneous but requires the intervention of a senior officer, such as a bombing or a riot.

The Mail on Sunday has obtained one of these forms, which is not made available under the Metropolitan Police Freedom of Information Publication Scheme. It is an astonishing document which covers every conceivable eventuality – and more.

The potential hazards are divided into 13 categories including the place in which the operation will take place (Access and Place of Work), the means by which officers will travel to their operation (Transport) and even the threat posed by the required uniforms (Work Equipment).The senior officer must tick the relevant boxes, fill out an inventory of ‘risk activities’ (RA2), calculate levels of risk (RA3) and submit their recommendation (RA4) for the assessment to be confirmed and signed.

According to the RA1 form, potential dangers of ‘uncomfortable seating’, ‘slippery surfaces’, ‘sunburn’ and ‘passive smoking’ must all be considered. One senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘The thing is they have thought of every possible danger you could ever imagine.

‘With uncomfortable seating, for instance, it might be that an officer is on an operation which will require hours of watching and staying in the same place. With sunburn, if you are policing something like the Notting Hill Carnival for 12 hours it could potentially be a problem.

‘There’s nothing they haven’t thought of so the risk of “fluid injection” or “HIV” – which is very real if you are raiding a drug den – is on the same form as “traffic equipment/cones etc”. It’s the same with equipment, if you haven’t got access to the right transport, officers might have to take their riot gear on the bus with them, which is very heavy and could potentially hurt their back.’

Every department in the police force now has a risk assessment advisor. Every operation has a file opened, every file should have an RA1, two, three and four. The forms must be kept for ten years in case of any legal action.

The unnamed officer added: ‘There is an entire department processing the RA1s. Every one has to be signed off by a commander or chief constable. Technically, if you have got bombs going off you should complete these forms before sending your officers in. However, it’s a grey area. The line would be that you must complete one “wherever practicable”.

‘The difficulty is that it’s a question of judgment. Are you likely to save lives without one of the forms being completed? In a situation like that, you would probably not fill in the form and account for your actions in your subsequent report.

‘For instance, if a bomb goes off in the Tube, you would send in your officers but fill in the form before sending in forensics. But the thing with these forms is that it places the onus on the senior officer to fill it out. And if you don’t, you will have to explain why you haven’t.’

If it is deemed that a senior officer has not done enough to identify potential risks they face legal action. In 2003, then Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John (now Lord) Stevens and his predecessor Lord Condon faced prosecution for alleged breaches of health and safety rules after two incidents in which officers fell through roofs while pursuing suspected burglars. Both were acquitted.


Sixty-Five Years of Circling the Drain: Happy Birthday, UN!

Its founders would be disgusted at the undemocratic cesspool the UN has become

This week, 65 years ago, the United Nations officially came into existence. It has experienced ups and downs, but never has looked to be a greater a failure than it does today. Its founders would be amazed at the Frankenstein creation that now sits on Manhattan’s East River.

The horrors of World War II had led statesmen from countries great and small to devise a council of nations to prevent the worst excesses of international conduct. An admirable ideal, but it has not worked out that way. The world body has built-in flaws which a changing world has made worse.

First: the General Assembly is not a democratic body. Member states represent not people, but governments, many of them squalid dictatorships. As a result, lack of democracy and human rights is no barrier to UN membership and participation.

At its founding this mattered less, since most UN members then (other than the Soviet and Arab blocs) were democracies. But democracies have been a minority within the UN since 1958. The democratic wave in Eastern Europe and Latin America following the Cold War has not only receded in some cases, but was in any case too small to alter this fact.

Second: the UN system is organized into blocs, of which the largest is the so-called Non-Aligned bloc. The policy of this bloc is largely determined by the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, which includes the 22 member states of the Arab League. Very few of the OIC’s members can be considered functioning democracies. This bloc, and subsets within it, connive to render the UN impotent.

For example: no discussions are held, resolutions passed, or action taken on China’s obliteration of life and culture in Tibet. The UN General Assembly cannot even muster a simple majority merely to condemn the slaughter of Christians and animists in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Third: the Security Council is beholden to the veto power of five very different permanent members. Undoubtedly, this prevents the UN from doing much that’s wicked, but also most that’s decent. The rare occasions on which the UN came to anyone’s rescue — South Korea in 1950 and Kuwait in 1991 — were made possible by a Soviet boycott (never repeated) in one case, and a rare abstention by China in the other.

Otherwise, little else of serious import gets passed — or even discussed. Russia and China shield Iran from serious sanctions over its illegal nuclear weapons program. China and Arab blocking of action over Sudan’s depredations in Darfur, which have killed hundreds of thousands over the past decade, prevents any movement there.

Even when the Security Council decides on something — like disarming Saddam Hussein — action to achieve this aim can still be frustrated by subsequent vetoes.

Other UN bodies, like the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), reflect these adverse conditions. Established in 2006 to replace the corrupt and ineffective Human Rights Commission, the HRC has proved no better, and is arguably worse. Non-democratic African and Asian regimes exercise an unbreakable controlling majority of 26 of its 47 seats. It is these dictatorships that set the Council’s agenda and determine its vote. In four years, the HRC has closed off investigation of the worst human rights abuses in Belarus, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

In these circumstances, democracies can change the UN only so far. The Reagan administration, for example, pressured the UN through the purse-strings by withholding dues, and withdrew from corrupt bodies like UNESCO. But such efforts need to be sustained when the UN reverts to worst practice. In any event, joining the jackals, as if that could somehow tame their appetites, is worse than useless. It merely lends legitimacy that would have been better denied. The Obama administration took the U.S. into the HRC last year in the declared hope of effecting change. It didn’t. One month after the Obama administration joined the HRC, it terminated investigation into human rights abuses in Congo. In May, Libya joined the HRC. The Obama administration’s objections were simply ignored.

There is another way. The U.S., which provides a quarter of the UN budget, should consider some options. It could hold the UN to performance standards before disbursing funds. It could withdraw from irredeemable bodies like the HRC. It could back a new caucus of democratic nations. It could reallocate funds to external initiatives that actually do some good. But who expects the Obama administration to do any of these things?


Tea party candidates versus Democrat sleazebags

"Those who live in glass houses ...." Comment below by Ann Coulter

With the media sneering about the Tea Party candidates being a bunch of nuts, how about we take a look at some of the Democrats running this year?

We've got Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who personally presided over the housing crash after getting that gay prostitution business behind him. Of course, Frank's actions are nothing compared to Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul's alleged participation in a college prank. Now, THERE'S a scandal!

California Sen. Barbara Boxer refuses to say whether a newborn baby is a human life. When Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., asked her on the Senate floor a few years ago whether she believed a baby born alive has a constitutionally protected a right to live, Boxer was stuck for an answer. Her nonresponsive replies included these:

"I support the Roe v. Wade decision. ...

"I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born -- and the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights. ...

"Define 'separation' ...

"You mean the baby has been birthed and is now in its mother's arms? ...

"The baby is born when the baby is born. That is the answer to the question. ...

"I am not answering these questions! I am not answering these questions!"

(Also, I think she said: "Please call me 'senator.'")

That's not Patty Murray-stupid, but it's still pretty stupid. How many late-term abortions are you planning to get, Californians, that it's worth being represented by such a cretinous woman?

Even if you are under the misimpression that Boxer's Republican opponent, Carly Fiorina, is somehow going to outlaw abortion in California, Carly will cut your taxes so much that you'd be able to fly to Sweden for all your abortions and still come out ahead!

Liberals are indignant that Sarah Palin writes speech notes to herself on her hand. This week, Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, was slipped a debating point by her makeup artist, texted by a campaign aide in violation of the rules during a debate with her Republican opponent, Rick Scott.

Oh, those thick Tea Party candidates!

Last weekend, Illinois governor Pat Quinn -- Rod Blagojevich's running mate -- stood silently as his supporter, state Sen. Rickey Hendon, blasted Quinn's Republican opponent, Bill Brady, as "idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic."

Hendon has repeatedly made headlines over the past few years for his inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues. Once -- during a Senate debate -- he asked Sen. Cheryl Axley if her hair was naturally blond and then publicly propositioned her.

Another time, Hendon tackled Rep. Robin L. Kelly, knocking her to the ground after a House-Senate softball game she had come to watch in office attire.

Of the impeccable Brady, Hendon wailed: "If you think that women have no rights whatsoever, except to have his children, vote for Bill Brady. If you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head, vote for Bill Brady."

Even the Chicago press was shocked by this, calling on Quinn to apologize. Quinn has "renounced" Hendon's remarks, but refused to apologize.

But watch out for the Tea Party candidates! There are some real loose cannons in that bunch.

Also last week, Rep. Ron Klein, Democrat of Florida, hysterically claimed he had been "threatened" by one of the Vietnam Veteran bikers supporting his Republican opponent, Allen West.

The man who had allegedly "threatened" Klein is 60 years old and goes by the terrifying name of ... "Miami Mike." Mike told the Miami Herald that he had simply e-mailed Klein, saying that he deserved to be voted out of office and, in addition, he needed "a good ass-kicking, which I'd be more than happy to do even though I'm a lot older than you."

As Miami Mike said: "A threat? Give me a break. He cannot be scared of what I wrote. If he is, he is just a real baby."

Apparently so. Klein turned Mike's e-mail over to the Capitol police, where they promptly burst out laughing and then ordered framed copies of the e-mail.

Speaking of little girls in pink party dresses, Keith Olbermann has repeatedly claimed that Allen West "disgraced his uniform." Weirdly, he never gives details of how he thinks West did that. (Maybe Olbermann could check on war-zone protocol with fake-Vietnam War veteran Dick Blumenthal, who's running for the Senate from Connecticut by lying about having served in Vietnam.)

As a colonel in Iraq, West was interrogating an Iraqi terrorist who knew about a planned ambush. Unable to get him to talk, West shot a gun near the terrorist's head, whereupon the frightened but unharmed detainee spilled the beans.

Because of that, West's men were able to capture a potential attacker and identify future ambush sites. There were no further attacks on West's men.

As West later told The New York Times, "There are rules and regulations, and there's protecting your soldiers." He said, "I just felt I'd never have to write a letter of condolence home to a 'rule and regulation.'"

When the Army considered court-martialing West, thousands of letters poured in defending West and thanking him for what he had done. Ninety-five members of Congress signed a letter to the secretary of the Army in support of West. No court-martial was ever convened.

Liberals won't say that John Phillip Walker Lindh disgraced his country. Washington Sen. Patty Murray thinks Osama bin Laden is a swell guy for building "day care centers" in Afghanistan. But they say a hero like Allen West "disgraced his uniform" by saving the lives of American soldiers.

Yeah, the Tea Party candidates are a real embarrassment.



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, October 30, 2010

At last Britain's woken up to the grotesque irony that so many on welfare are better off than hard working families...

Boris Johnson wants David Cameron’s job, and there is almost nothing London’s ­Mayor will not say or do to get it. On Thursday, he ­delighted Labour and enraged fellow-­Conservative ministers by declaring on BBC Radio ­London: ‘We will not accept a kind of ­Kosovo-style ­social cleansing of London. ‘On my watch, you are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have put down roots.’

This was Johnson’s response to the ­Government’s plans to cap housing ­benefit for every family in the land at £21,000 a year (or £400 a week).

He has since sought to fudge his views, blathering that he ­supports the Government’s benefit reforms. But no one ­seriously doubts that the Mayor has ­chosen to defy Downing Street in order to appease his own constituency.

Even by understated official statistics, more than a third of today’s Londoners were born in another country, ­so Britain’s ­capital has become an international city or a ­foreign one, according to your point of view.

Many of its lower-paid residents receive welfare payments including housing ­benefits. If the Government imposes its planned cuts, such people will become implacable foes of the Tories, if they are not already.

Implausibly, Boris Johnson is making common cause with the Left-wing ­commentariat, who are spitting with rage about housing benefit. ‘Do they know what they are doing?’, Polly Toynbee fulminated in the Guardian this week. Under a headline of ­grotesque hyperbole which disgustingly referred to a ‘final solution’, she asked of the Coalition: ‘Are they incompetent bunglers or do they mean to clear low-earners out of the ­country’s prosperous districts? ‘This will become a cut that brands this Government… so extreme and random as to who will be evicted that the political noise will rise to ear-splitting decibels.’

In the case of housing benefit, the ­Toynbee-Johnson argument is that ­London is an extraordinarily expensive city, in which the poor must have ­assistance to live, unless we want to expel them.

This is where the Mayor’s ‘Kosovo’ taunt springs from. Humanitarian ­considerations aside, many relatively humble jobs, from bus-driving to street-cleaning, must be done by somebody. Since their wages will not cover private-sector ­London rents, it is in the public interest for the public purse to help with their housing costs.

Some of this is true. But the foes of reform ignore a critical truth: like all things, housing benefit must stop somewhere. The numbers have gone crazy. Some families are costing the taxpayer not £20,000 a year, but £30,000, £40,000, even in one supreme case £104,000 a year.

Any working citizen willing to pay even £20,000 to rent a ­property — which is not a deductible expense — would need to be a higher-rate ­taxpayer and commit almost £40,000 of his income to do so.

Do Boris Johnson and Polly Toynbee want us to house those who cannot afford their own accommodation at a cost which no middle manager or police superintendent or even junior banker could afford? Yes, they do, and their view is — to borrow a favourite Boris word — bonkers.

The £21 billion national cost of housing benefit for people of working age has risen by ­£5 billion in the past five years. David Cameron says the budget is out of control. Most of ­Britain, the hard-working families whom Gordon Brown so often cited but cynically pillaged, wholeheartedly agrees.

When the Exchequer pours money into the private market on this scale, it fuels demand, inflating still further the shocking cost of homes in Britain. Unless the Chancellor ends the state’s unlimited liability to house people wherever they choose to pitch camp, as part of his crusade to roll back the ­welfare system, there is no ­prospect of reducing our awesome national deficit.

We know that bankers’ follies triggered the financial crisis, but these merely exposed the scale on which Britain has been living beyond its means. The Exchequer has been ­giving sums of money to less well-off people, the underprivileged as they used to be called, that are far greater than the country can afford. Now the compassion racket has hit the buffers.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt received a barrage of abuse from the Left, and was denounced on the airwaves for a supposed ‘gaffe’, for suggesting last month that before ­having large families, people should consider whether they can afford them. Yet to most people not living on benefits, Hunt was stating the obvious.

Why do most mothers confine themselves to two or three ­children? Because they do not think they can afford decently to rear more. This is honourable as well as sensible.

Yet the entire welfare system, including housing benefit, is run on the basis that almost unlimited assistance is ­provided in accordance with the size of a recipient’s family. If you have four, five or six children, you will be allocated more generous accommodation or larger private rental subsidy than if you have only one or two. This may be humane, but removes the smallest incentive towards responsible family planning.

In every supermarket we see teenage mothers — many of them single women — with pushchairs, for whose lifestyle choice we pay the bills.

Most of us warmly applaud a government which, at last, is telling beneficiaries of welfare: your rights are not unlimited. Your actions will have consequences. If you choose to have a large family on a small income, you will pay a price for doing so which may include missing out on a new flat-screen TV.

Under the terms of the ­Government’s proposed new housing benefit rules, subsidy will be capped at £400 a week for a four-bedroom house; £340 for a three-bedroom one; £290 for a two-bedroom; £250 for a one-bedroom dwelling.

In the eyes of most of us, these are still very large sums of money. They may not make it possible for people to live in Westminster or Chelsea, but few of us regard it as a civil right to be handy for Harrods.

Moreover, the cap applies only to accommodation provided in the private rental market, and not to publicly-owned housing — of which there is still a large stock in London.

Social lobbyists claim that imposing these new limits next April could result in 82,000 evictions from central London, imposing special hardship on children obliged to move school. I shall be astonished if such a large enforced migration proves necessary. But in any event, most of us take for granted the necessity to move home if our circumstances change.

Most of London’s young ­middle classes now live south of the Thames or east of the City, because they ­cannot afford the sort of homes in which their parents lived, closer to the ­centre. Nobody seriously ­suggests this is a social injustice. The new generation is ­simply adjusting to economic realities.

Leftist hysteria about the Coalition’s spending cuts, which may spill over on to our streets if union leaders and Guardian columnists have their way, is founded upon a demented belief that Britain can continue indefinitely writing open-ended cheques to the less well-off.

They ignore the fact that, even if George Osborne achieves his full programme of spending reductions, in 2015 Britain’s budget will be ­marginally higher than it is today, albeit without taking account of inflation.

The proposed half-million shrinkage of the state workforce — which causes relentless hand-wringing on the BBC — will remove only half of the extra million public sector employees recruited by Gordon Brown over the past decade.

There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Polly Toynbee and her kind in their concern for Britain’s underclass, though the charge of champagne socialism sticks pretty hard on anyone who, like herself, owns a villa in Tuscany and ­educated her children at private schools.

But David Cameron’s Government is surely right to fight such people to a finish in the battle to curb the excesses of the Welfare State. We need more competition at every level of society and a stronger link between effort and reward....

There are bound to be cries of anguish from the losers and their Labour Party shop stewards. But it is dismaying to see a prominent Tory such as London’s Mayor ­lending comfort to the other side.

The wife of one of his old school headmasters said to me some years ago, when first he gained fame: ‘Boris Johnson will never get to the very top, because he is always playing to the gallery.’

Boris is a ­brilliant ‘turn’, beloved by many people who do not have to live or work with him. But he is not, never has been, and never will be a serious person like David ­Cameron. Johnson’s cleverness is devoted to the single purpose of manic self-promotion.

He is a chancer, albeit a witty and talented one. That is why he broke ranks with the Prime ­Minister on Thursday’s Radio London ­programme, and why he may well lob more such grenades in the future.

Cameron is taking a huge political risk in the national interest, while London’s Mayor seeks to advance, or at least protect, his own career. I know which of the two I want to run Britain, and it is not Boris.


The retired nurse who was the mastermind behind a vicious and ruthless IRA-style gang of animal rights fanatics

To her neighbours in Littlehampton, Sarah Whitehead was a pleasant, if slightly dotty, former nurse. While surrounding homes in the West ­Sussex town were well-kept, the 52-year-old let her garden become overgrown — providing ­private sanctuary, she said, for all manner of unwanted pets, from guinea pigs to rescued dogs.

By day, the dark-haired woman was often seen out walking her dogs with a younger, blonde companion — her lesbian partner. By night, she was heard talking to her assorted animals in the garden.

‘She was always polite and would nod hello,’ says one neighbour. ‘We knew she kept loads of creatures in her back garden, but she really did try to keep herself to herself. She was a bit odd — but no odder than half the folk you meet.’

To add to the impression she gave of being a harmless, ­quintessentially English eccentric, she was also known by the nickname ‘Mumsy’ to her wide circle of young friends, who ­visited from around the country.

But all this was a cynical, well-rehearsed sham. For there was ­nothing remotely maternal about Sarah ‘Mumsy’ Whitehead. From her home, where she used sophisticated computer technology to plan attacks, Whitehead was one of the key figures behind a ­shadowy group of animal rights fanatics who waged a campaign of terror against anyone connected — however tenuously — to any forms of testing on animals.

In a network that stretched from southern England to Europe and the U.S., Whitehead was part of an ­alliance of extremists who dug up human remains, smeared enemies as paedophiles and even targeted ­couriers and caterers supplying Home Office-licensed laboratories.

This weekend, as Whitehead begins a six-year jail sentence for the ­campaign of terror (and she is already complaining to prison officers about being made to wear leather shoes) the full details of her double life can be revealed for the first time.

Whitehead’s capture — along with the jailing of former tailor Greg Avery, another leading activist — has ­provided an unprecedented insight into the secret world of these fanatics, who for years have evaded arrest by operating in ‘cells’ and undergoing extensive training in how to avoid police surveillance.

‘They studied the structures of the IRA and also held regular training sessions at safe houses, where they were told how to spot undercover officers and ensure they weren’t being followed,’ says Andy Robins, the dog-loving detective who arrested Mumsy and her followers after a five-year undercover operation, codenamed Achilles.

‘Sarah Whitehead was a corrupting influence on younger members,’ adds Robins. ‘She was a mother figure to some of the others, hence the ­nickname. But she was also utterly committed to her cause.’ All the youngsters worked alongside Whitehead in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), a seemingly respectable pressure group formed in 1999. SHAC volunteers even became a feature of the British High Street, where Whitehead and her fellow ­volunteers collected funds and tried to recruit new members.

Up and down the country, volunteers also distributed shocking ­pictures (later found, in fact, to include material from illegal labs in the Middle East) of alleged cruelty at Huntingdon Life Sciences, the ­subject of SHAC’s increasingly aggressive campaign.

Employing 16,000 people, Huntingdon is the largest private company involved in testing medicines and chemicals on animals, with its global headquarters in Cambridgeshire. The company says that its research breakthroughs have saved and enhanced the lives of countless human beings.

Publicly, Whitehead and other ­members of the group preached non-­violent protests against Huntingdon. But privately, they were secretly ­plotting ‘operations’ — including fire-bombings and acid attacks — on all aspects of its business, with the aim of forcing it to close down.

The strategy was straightforward: any businesses with any connection to Huntingdon, including even sandwich delivery men and cleaning firms, were warned in telephone calls to sever all ties.

If the warnings went unheeded, anonymous letters were sent to the neighbours of these ordinary businessmen and women, warning that they were convicted paedophiles and could pose a threat to children. Mud stuck. Some Huntingdon employees were forced to leave their homes. In what amounted to blackmail, the targets were offered a deal: stop working with Huntingdon and your name will be removed from ­websites and the attacks will stop. Facing ruin, many local businesses did just that.

The violence worked. SHAC was raising £3,000 a week in street ­donations alone, meaning Mumsy Whitehead and leaders of the group could be full-time activists.

Huntingdon was in meltdown, with staff leaving and suppliers refusing to deliver. The share price collapsed — from £300 in the 1990s to 3p in 2001. Even banks refused to lend money to Huntingdon, fearing violent ­repercussions and attacks on staff.

But with the exception of a handful of arrests during demonstrations, the people behind the campaign remained elusive, as Mumsy and her confederates were using computer encryption programmes to communicate and co-ordinate attacks.

With the attacks escalating, ­culminating in the case of a guinea pig breeder having a relative’s remains dug up from her grave, a ­special police unit — led by Andy Robins, a veteran investigator of ­serious crimes — was set up in 2005 to try to penetrate the group.

Surveillance of a safe house in East Peckham, Kent, provided the first ­tantalising breakthrough: this was the venue for secret meetings of animal rights fanatics from around the world. Police were astonished as they recorded more than 300 activists arriving at the building, which was surrounded by open Kent countryside.

There, the activists — from the U.S. and throughout Europe — pooled their resources, sharing knowledge about the latest police tactics as part of a global strategy to keep ahead of the authorities.

Then, crucially, further surveillance led police to the secret hideout of the group’s inner sanctum — and the place where ‘strategy meetings’ were held every three months to plan attacks on the latest targets. These took place at a secluded ­cottage in Little Moorcote, near Fleet in Hampshire, which was owned by Greg Avery, the founding member of SHAC who was convincted last year for his part in the ­conspiracy and is now serving a ten-year jail sentence.

Under cover of darkness, police experts installed ­bugging devices and video cameras to ­discover whether the group was as non-­violent as they publicly ­professed to be. Liaising with the FBI, who were also investigating American activists funded from Hampshire, the UK police team then sat back, watched their video screens — and waited.

The breakthrough came on Easter Sunday, 2008 — the date of a crucial strategy meeting. As well as ­hearing details of attacks being discussed, encrypted emails were also decoded.

One, which referred to the ­activities of related animal rights group the Animal Liberation Front, read: ‘Last night a team of ALF ­volunteers offered their “free vehicle servicing” to a farm situated in a small Dorset village. A large and fairly new animal transporter used for taking animals to their deaths was given a complete makeover.’

The email continued: ‘All tyres slashed, sand poured into the gas tank, locks glued, windscreen ­wipers glued to windscreen, door mirrors covered in black spray paint, windscreen covered in the word “scum” and the rest of the lorry left with ­messages such as “killers” and “ALF watching you”.’

While the involvement of Avery was known to the police — he had ­previously been arrested with bomb-­making equipment — this was the first time Mumsy’s importance became clear. They discovered the other leaders refused to make any decisions unless she was present.

And her view was straightforward: that all methods, including violence and intimidation, should be deployed to drive Huntingdon out of business. In one taped conversation, Whitehead described the ­people working there as ‘animal abusers with blood on their hands’, adding that she was happy to put the welfare of ­animals ahead of people.

Nor did she confine herself to attacks against Huntingdon. In a recent case, she stole Freddy, a Beagle puppy, from a nearby back garden, claiming the animal was being abused by his owners. In reality, the complaints about the dog were from a neighbour who hated animals. The RSPCA had even checked on Freddy, declaring him a healthy and happy puppy, after he was bought as a pet for a little boy and his twin ­sister. Whitehead, who was ­convicted of that theft, refuses to this day to say what she did with Freddy.

As well as plotting attacks with other members of what police call SHAC’s ‘secret inner sanctum’, Mumsy was also given a crucial role in recruiting ‘fresh skins’ — new activists, many of them teenagers in search of a cause. At recruitment stalls set up across the country, Mumsy’s age and unthreatening appearance were ­useful in reassuring recruits that the campaign was entirely legal and respectable.

Among them was Alfie Fitzpatrick, the wealthy son of a company ­director who had studied at private schools in Switzerland and lived in a sprawling home with his parents near Solihull.

After agreeing to give money to the cause, 21-year-old Alfie often met Mumsy and other leaders of the group at their secret headquarters in Hampshire. He was one of five younger activists sentenced this week with Whitehead.

While he was not part of the violent attacks plotted by the leadership, which also involved fire-­bombing homes of those connected to Huntingdon, Alfie was part of a sophisticated system that groomed the next generation of urban terrorists. Indeed, when police raided the safe house, they removed so many boxes of files and computer equipment that they had to open a mothballed police ­station to store all the evidence. The records detailed plans to recruit the next generation of ­activists and even revealed that the funding for U.S. operations has all come from Britain.

So is Mumsy contrite? Hardly. In a letter to supporters, Whitehead — now prisoner number VM7684 of Ashford Prison — writes: ‘Prison life very easy. We get vegan toiletries and treats on the canteen, making life very good. ‘But I hate every second that is wasted in here when I could be out fighting for the animals, but every day is a step nearer to joining you all.’

As for Andy Robins, the detective who finally nailed Whitehead and the other members of the gang, he refuses to get drawn into the ­politics of animal testing. ‘This is nothing to do with animal rights — this was a criminal ­conspiracy, involving blackmail and violence, designed to ­create a climate of fear among their victims.’

He added: ‘There’s no problem with peaceful protests, but we can’t tolerate people who use crime to force their targets into submission. That just cannot be right, and I’m pleased to see Whitehead and the others behind bars.’


An indictment of the anti-war movement

Demands for the prosecution of Tony Blair only legitimise the use of international courts against weak states

When he was the UK foreign secretary, the late Robin Cook famously said of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it was ‘not a court set up to bring to book prime ministers of the United Kingdom or presidents of the United States’. Yet, as former British prime minister Tony Blair finds whenever he makes a public appearance these days, it is now quite the fashion to call for Western leaders to be indicted for war crimes by the ICC.

Denouncing Western leaders as war criminals certainly sounds radical, but an accusation of criminality is a poor substitute for political argument. Worse, it obscures the negative role played by international war crimes trials, and even lends legitimacy to the thoroughly undemocratic idea that heads of state should be subject to some ‘higher’ judicial power.
Indict Blair?

War is now routinely treated as primarily a legal, rather than political, issue by both sides of the debate. Western politicians make the argument for war on legal grounds, claiming that intervention is necessary to halt crimes against humanity or to enforce compliance with UN resolutions. Anti-war campaigners, on the other hand, call for those same politicians to be indicted for war crimes.

Blair, of course, is the paradigm case. His government championed the 1998 Rome Statue, the treaty inaugurating the ICC, and within two years the UK had launched military operations – in Kosovo and Sierra Leone – that ended with leaders from those states standing trial in international courts. Now Blair has to cancel public appearances, as happened in London last month, because of protests by anti-war activists who say that he is ‘the real criminal who should be jailed’.

One such activist tried to perform a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on Blair during a recent visit to Dublin, and thereby became eligible for a prize – offered by Guardian columnist George Monbiot – for anyone attempting this sort of stunt and gaining media coverage. Other, similar campaigns appear to be pressing charges in earnest: the Blair War Crimes Foundation, for example, petitions both the United Nations and the ICC for Blair to be indicted. Over the summer, it even appeared for one, mad moment that this position might have accidentally become government policy, after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg - standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions - described the Iraq war as ‘illegal’. Commentators and lawyers rushed to offer their opinions on whether ‘Clegg’s gaffe…could strengthen [the] case for involvement of the international court’.

Are they serious? In 2007 the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, reportedly claimed that he could envisage a scenario in which Blair and former US president George W. Bush could one day face charges at The Hague. It is difficult, however, to match Ocampo’s powers of imagination: the court’s rules make such a prosecution virtually unthinkable.

There are three sets of circumstances under which the ICC can launch a prosecution: it can be invited in by a government which has ratified the treaty setting up the court (as in the ICC’s current prosecutions in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic); it can have a case referred to it by the UN Security Council (as with its prosecution of Sudanese president Omar al Bashir); and it can launch an investigation on its own initiative (as it has done in Kenya), but only in relation to states which recognise its jurisdiction and only where national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute.

There is also a further catch: the UN Security Council can halt any investigation it does not wish to see proceed (initially for a year, but renewable indefinitely). Permanent members of the UN Security Council – such as the United States or Britain – are never likely to face prosecution, and could stop any investigation dead in its tracks.

No doubt many of those calling for the indictment of Western leaders are fully aware that this is never going to happen; they seek only to make a point about the double standards of Western governments. Given that the foreign-policy rhetoric of Western politicians has been laden, in recent years, with grandiose claims about rights, justice and a ‘rules-based system’ of international relations, it is important to point out that these politicians blithely flout international law when it suits them.

Unfortunately, however, endorsing the idea that political leaders should be held to account by the ICC actually strengthens contemporary justifications for military intervention.

A legal licence to intervene

Perhaps surprisingly, advocates of the ICC are themselves quick to denounce the double standards it embodies. The prominent human-rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, for instance, describes it, in his book Crimes Against Humanity, as ‘a court of a curious sort, where superpowers pull the strings (through the Security Council) yet at the same time…refuse to support it’. What needles the court’s supporters is that the US has so far refused to ratify the Rome Statute, on the grounds that it recognises no higher authority than its own national sovereignty. The US ‘refuses to be bound by international human rights law’, complains Robertson, but it ‘demands the prosecution of foreigners who violate it’.

Protestors who call for the indictment of US or British leaders echo this complaint, yet the problem is not that powerful states overvalue their national sovereignty, but rather that they devalue the sovereignty of weak states. Instead of calling, entirely unrealistically, for the ICC to prosecute Western leaders, anti-war critics would do better to challenge the idea that the court should be able to override any state’s national sovereignty.

One of the great myths about the ICC is that it represents a step toward a more peaceful and orderly world. What it actually represents is the overthrow of the principles that underpinned the post-1945 UN system: sovereign equality and non-interference in a state’s internal affairs. These principles did not, of course, eliminate conflict or remove real inequalities of power, but they did mean that external intervention was widely understood as illegitimate. Despite limitations, the recognition of formal equality was a tremendous advance for countries that had previously been mere colonial possessions of the Great Powers. This historic achievement is now dismissed by the likes of Robertson as ‘the petty notion of sovereignty’.

Since the early 1990s, the presumption has instead been of sovereign inequality, whether justified in terms of a ‘right to intervene’ or a ‘responsibility to protect’ – rights and responsibilities that in practice belong exclusively to those powerful states able to exercise them. The legalistic tenor of the discussion masks what is really at stake: it is notable that many of those who became sticklers for the law in 2003 (including some of those now calling for Blair’s indictment over Iraq), were eager to support the equally illegal Kosovo war in 1999. Blair’s government is long gone, but its talk of human-rights enforcement and an ‘end to impunity’ is unfortunately still with us.

War-crimes courts effectively provide a legal licence for intervention: during the Kosovo conflict it was the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that gave NATO a judicial seal of approval, by indicting the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, at the height of the bombing campaign. Now, the ICC’s supporters see the potential for this sort of thing to go much further. Robertson has argued, for example, that instead of justifying the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in terms of national self-defence, the US should have invoked the ‘more permissive legal justification’ of ‘action to prevent and to punish “crimes against humanity”’. Similarly, he advised that, instead of all the flannel about weapons of mass destruction, the coalition’s cause in Iraq ought to have been Saddam’s crimes against humanity. It is not clear how either war would have been any better if carried out within this ‘permissive’ framework of human-rights enforcement.

Equally, it is not clear how imposed ‘regime change’ would somehow be acceptable if carried out in line with an ICC prosecution – yet that is what enforcement of the court’s arrest warrant against Sudan’s head of state would amount to. Indulging in fantasies about the indictment of Blair and Bush concedes the idea that international courts should rule on the legitimacy of national leaders. While that is a remote prospect for Western countries, it is a very real proposition for states on the receiving end of ‘international justice’.

Rather than hiding behind the law, we need to develop political arguments against war and intervention. A good place to start would be to oppose the ICC and other international war crimes tribunals in facilitating interference in sovereign states.


The mythical requirement to separate church and State

Thomas Sowell

Politics is not the only place where some pretty brassy statements have been made and repeated so often that some people have accepted these brassy statements as being as good as gold.

One of the brassiest of the brass oldies in the law is the notion that the Constitution creates a "wall of separation" between church and state. This false notion has been so widely accepted that people who tell the truth get laughed at and mocked.

A recent New York Times piece said that it was "a flub of the first order" when Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate for senator in Delaware, asked a law school audience "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" According to the New York Times, ?The question draw gasps and laughter" from this audience of professors and law students who are elites-in-waiting.

The New York Times writer joined in the mocking response to Ms. O'Donnell's question, though admitting in passing that "in the strictest sense" the "actual words 'separation of church and state' do not appear in the text of the Constitution." Either the separation of church and state is there or it is not there. It is not a question of some "strictest" technicality.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about a "wall of separation" between church and state, either directly or indirectly.

That phrase was used by Thomas Jefferson, who was not even in the country when the Constitution was written. It was a phrase seized upon many years later, by people who wanted to restrict religious symbols and has been cited by judges who share that wish.

There was no mystery about what "an establishment of religion" meant when that phrase was put into the Constitution. It was not an open ended invitation to judges to decide what role religion should play in American society or in American government.

The Church of England was an "established church." That is, it was not only financed by the government, its members had privileges denied to members of other religions.

The people who wrote the Constitution of the United States had been British subjects most of their lives, and knew exactly what an "established church." meant. They wanted no such thing in the United States of America. End of story-- or so it should have been.

For more than a century, no one thought that the First Amendment meant that religious symbols were forbidden on government property. Prayers were offered in Congress and in the Supreme Court. Chaplains served in the military and presidents took their oath of office on the Bible.

But, in our own times, judges have latched onto Jefferson's phrase and run with it. It has been repeated so often in their decisions that it has become one of the brassiest of the brass oldies that get confused with golden oldies.

As fundamentally important as the First Amendment is, what is even more important is the question whether judges are to take it upon themselves to "interpret" the law to mean whatever they want it to mean, rather than what it plainly says.

This is part of a larger question, as to whether this country is to be a self-governing nation, controlled by "we the people," as the Constitution put it, or whether arrogant elites shall take it upon themselves to find ways to impose what they want on the rest of us, by circumventing the Constitution.

Congress is already doing that by passing laws before anyone has time to read them and the White House is likewise circumventing the Constitution by appointing "czars" who have as much power as Cabinet members, without having to go through the confirmation process prescribed for Cabinet members by the Constitution.

Judges circumvent the Constitution by reading their own meaning into its words, regardless of how plain and unequivocal the words there are.

The Constitution cannot protect us and our freedoms as a self-governing people unless we protect the Constitution. That means zero tolerance at election time for people who circumvent the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Freedom is too precious to give it up in exchange for brassy words from arrogant elites.



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, October 29, 2010

Diversity is Not a Military Necessity

Diversity as defined and used by the professional left is complete unmitigated horse crap. It is s cudgel they use to bash the racist, sexist neanderthals who stand in the way of their crusade. You see until every group of people in every possible human condition is equally represented by every available color or chromosome combination, we have failed.

This is an idiotic idea that is the last resort of the professional victimologists who arose from the civil rights movement. The idea that diversity is an unalloyed good has become far too accepted for a concept with absolutely no factual basis. If you are a fuzzy-headed lefty then it is self-evident that unless we have all the colors we don’t have a rainbow. The rest of us nurture this quaint notion that since associations are voluntary and organizations have an innate need to promote the best they can, that merit ought to be the basis for upward mobility.

Sadly, No. And so we have situations like this where the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs makes this promise to decrease the readiness of our military and sacrifice lives on the altar of political correctness.

When he became chief of Naval Operations in 2005, Mullen said, he made diversity a priority. “When you’re taking on a very, very difficult challenge like this and trying to change your institution, you can’t go fast enough,” he said. Mullen said he focused his diversity goals for the Navy on two areas: minorities and women.

You can’t go fast enough? You are undertaking a basic change to what is valued in the military. Currently it is competence and experience, under the Mullen PC Protocols it will be melanin and genitalia. This is hardly good for readiness or morale or esprit de corps and it will guarantee that lesser-qualified officers will rise in the ranks based more on characteristics that have nothing to do with skill and leadership. The reason that there are not more minorities and women in senior positions has little to do with institutional white racism and a lot to do with who in our country decides to devote their life to military service.

“We know how to make [general officers],” he said. “We’ve been doing it a long time, and it’s actually pretty simple. You put them in the right jobs, and if they do well, they get promoted.

Now most people would have no trouble with that simple concept- do well, get promoted. But you see that wasn’t churning out the correct number of non-white and baby-capable officers so it must be the system that is broken. Mullen blamed the fact that the officers making career placements weer too white. So he injects purposeful racism into a system that before had this archaic notion that you put the best people in the best jobs to get the best result. He attempts to cover himself by saying all of a suddent after they put minorities who were told to promote minorities in these positions that tons of qualified recods started showing up. Yeah right. Or maybe if you decide to change the standards then you can pick and choose who you want to match your quotas.

I did a lot of executive search and one of the most disgusting, yet lucrative, things we did was diversity search. My client was a top three defense contractor and they always need more minorities. They basically had a standing order for any “diverse” talent, period. So we would scour the ranks of their competitors and would take any minorities we found and offer them a step or two up the ladder, regardless if they were actually qualified. If we had a specific position that had been designated to be filled by a minority then we would actively screen highly-qualified candicates out simply for being white. In the course of a normal search that would mean discarding and discriminating against 95%+ of the best people available in order to promote someone from an accepted victim class.

If the problem was actually that talented minority candidates were being ignored by the military or industry then perhaps this fixation on diversity would make sense. But they are not and they have not been for almost my entire adult life. In fact the military and related defense contractors have been under the gun to push affirmative action for decades now.

The problem is that equality of opportunity doesn’t lead to equality of outcome and that is what burns the victimologists. So they will tweak the system to discriminate in a way that gives them the diversity they want. In the college admissions system there is such an insane fight for non-whites that the sons and daughters of African plutocrats and elites push American blacks and whites out of the way since they have good grades and check the African- American block. And let’s not even begin to talk about the blatant and wholesale discrimination against Asians in this racial re-distribution game.

Racial discrimination is evil and that is true no matter who does it and for what reason. If you want more black kids to get college degrees, then you need to get more of them to stay in school. You can’t just magic the process and print them pieces of paper you have now devalued. The same applies to the military and it has that added focus factor that lives will ride on the process. If we decide that having the a beautiful rainbow for an officer corps is the right answer, then we will see more of the one color they all share in common- The blood of our troops shed on the battlefield.


Are you a sexual terrorist? New York worries about “street harassment.”

Crime, taxes, sanitation, schools, parks…. these are the issues the residents of most cities worry about. But New York is too cool for that, according to gawker: “A substantial crowd comprised of all genders, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and ages gathered today at the first City Council hearing on street harassment. Armed with suggestions on how the city can combat the problem, one expert said, “Street harassment is a form of sexual terrorism” and an activist called it a “gateway crime, creating a culture in our city that makes other forms of violence against women okay.”

Forget rape, forget assault, forget your boss touching your ass. If you engage in “Cat-calling,” “hollerin’ at a girl,” and “being a huge douchebag” you might be a sexual terrorist.

“One street harassment expert says 90% of women have experienced some sort of harassment on the street, and by 19 3/4 have been followed by creepy guys, according to Gothamist. Panelists speaking to City Council today recommended establishing “harassment free” zones around schools. While it’s a nice idea, it’s hard to see exactly how you could enforce this without seriously infringing on Americans’ hard-won right to be absolute shitbags in public. Maybe we can start with Joe Francis-free zones and go from there?” See here

Yes, the purveyor of Girls Gone Wild is the next Osama Bin Ladden. Seriously, do these people understand the First Amendment? Whistling at a person you find attractive is not sexual terrorism, it’s a compliment! Seriously ladies, if you’re looking for chivalry New York is not the place for that. The rotten apple is famous for being rude, someone insults you and you insult them back. That’s not sexual terrorism, that’s reality.

What’s next? Visual terrorism? Tattoos & Piercings Free Zones to avoid offending squares? How ‘bout Meat Free Zones to avoid offending vegans? Listen New York, if you want to worry about something, worry about bedbugs. They may not be “sexual terrorists” but they are destroying your $30 billion dollar industry.


Now the British government is trying to get its hands on the internet

With the best of motives of course

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP, will today call for an investigation into the collection of personal data by Google during its Street View mapping service. The MP will also call for an internet bill of rights to protect the privacy of web users.

He will tell the House of Commons that a legal framework is necessary to "protect ordinary people" from having private information collected by commercial companies.

Mr Halfon requested the parliamentary debate following Google's confession in May this year that it had collected "fragmentary" data belonging to UK citizens while compiling information to use on its Street View application. This data included passwords, email addresses and Wi-Fi addresses.

Google has since apologised for collecting the data, claiming it did so unintentionally.

But Mr Halfon will say: "Google's invasion of privacy is not a few isolated mistakes. It is starting to look like a pattern." The MP is expected to criticise the internet search engine for impinging on people's civil liberties saying: "Either our home is our castle, or it is not."

He will warn against the use of private information "on an industrial scale for commercial purposes" and MPs will be told: "There is a real risk that we are sleepwalking into a privatised surveillance society."

Mr Halfon will claim that the UK's response to the infringement of the general public's privacy has been inadequate when compared with other countries.

In Greece and the Czech Republic Google Street View has been banned while the Candian privacy commissioner gave the company an official reprimand.

He will conclude: "When it comes to internet companies, the question of civil liberties is much murkier and less defined. That is why we need a robust commission of inquiry - with teeth - into the role of the internet and its relationship to individual liberty."

Google has insisted that the collection of the data was an accident caused when code left in a production system kept the content being broadcast over the Wi-Fi networks as the Google Street View car drove past.

A spokesman said: "'As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks. As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all WiFi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the UK authorities. We want to delete the data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns.

"Over the past several months we have been working to strengthen our internal privacy and security practices, as well as talking to external regulators globally about possible improvements to our policies. We are making three types of changes: more people, including a new post of Director of Privacy, more training, and better procedures and compliance. For example, in terms of compliance every engineering project leader will be required to maintain a privacy design document for each initiative they are working on. This document will record how user data is handled and will be reviewed regularly by managers, as well as by an independent internal audit team."

Google has admitted to accidentally intercepting data in 30 different countries and deleted information collected in Austria, Denmark and Ireland in June. In July the UK Information Commissioner concluded there is no evidence of any "individual detriment".

In August this year police raided Google's South Korea headquarters, seizing computers and questioning company officials, following concern over alleged privacy violations.


France: A “revolution” to preserve the status quo

In the past, youthful rebels were heroically indifferent to their long-term security. The French protesters are obsessed with theirs

Throughout history, young people have been in the forefront of protest. Revolutions have relied on the idealism and the energy of the young. Even during periods of stability and social peace, the adult world expects youth to kick back against conventions and rebel. Indeed, acts of defiance and rebellion are an integral part of young people’s development, of their transformation into mature adults. So, do the children currently protesting on the streets of France represent yet another example of generational defiance and rebellion? Yes and no.

In one sense, there is nothing peculiar about young people marching on the streets and chanting radical slogans. However, in one fundamental respect the French protesters’ movement is very different to conventional forms of youthful rebellion. For a start, this isn’t really much of a rebellion. Historically, the youth are animated by an aspiration to change the world, so that the future will look very different to the present. By contrast, the French schoolchildren and students are protesting to preserve the status quo; in fighting to retain the current age of retirement and the pensions system, their concern is to make sure that the present state of affairs continues indefinitely into the future.

Of course, there have been numerous examples of defensive protesting that is aimed at preserving the existing state of affairs. However, the young protesters in France express a caricature of that kind of defensive protesting. There is something very strange about young people becoming preoccupied with the age of retirement and old-age pensions. Listening to the statements made by the protesting youth, one gets the impression that they are all speaking from the same tired script written by an exhausted old-age pensioner.

Perhaps they cultivated this very sensible, defensive demeanour in order to reassure the public, through the media, that their protests are not a threat. However, when one Parisian high-school student expressed her fears that if people had to work for an extra two years then there would be a million fewer jobs for the young, it was clear that this very young person was giving voice to the preoccupations of her grandparents. Numerous other young protesters expressed concern about ‘l’insecurite’. Historically, the young rebel partly because they are heroically indifferent to their long-term security; in contrast, today’s French rebels show that adopting a very old mindset can come at a surprisingly early age.

From the outset, these modern-day ‘children of the revolution’ were thoroughly infantilised by their elders. Time and again, the French cultural elites and media assured the youngsters that their protest resembled the student rebellions of the 1960s. Courtesy of a severe historical amnesia about what really occurred in the 1960s, an imaginary revolution has been constructed. With a wink and a nod, French adult society has communicated its approval of the youth’s pension protests.

In reality, there is a fundamental difference between the real thing, those protests of the Sixties, and its impoverished imitation today. One sought to change the world; the other wants to preserve it. The youth of the Sixties challenged the old France, whereas today’s youth have been self-consciously sanctioned by the old to hit the streets and stir up a storm.

Bereft of a political project or any vision for the future, French grown-ups have resorted to inciting the young to give President Nicolas Sarkozy – or ‘Sarko’ – a hard time. The French are not alone in this. Only a few years ago, schoolkids in England were celebrated by crusty grown-ups for going on strike and protesting against the war in Iraq. Hiding behind children has become a widely practised activity amongst twenty-first century adults, who parasitically feed on the energy of the youth.

Back in 2003, Britain’s Stop the War coalition could rely on groups of schoolteachers and university lecturers to instruct their students to protest against the Iraq War. In such circumstances, taking time off from school was not so much an act of defiance as a demonstration of responsible behaviour, which was likely to gain the approval of the citizenship studies teacher. These are modern-day versions of a medieval children’s crusade. The concerns and actions of these young protesters are not really the outcome of a generationally inspired radicalism. Rather, the youth is behaving in a way that is expected of them by their society. And indirectly, what this radicalism really expresses is the emptying out of adult identity.
Adult fantasies about youth

Society’s interest in and representation of youth are invariably driven by an adult agenda. So, what is truly interesting about many protests today is not so much the activities of the protesters themselves, but the way in which youth are perceived and represented. For a long time now, Western culture has tried to make sense of its hopes and fears through its interpretation of youthful behaviour. Often, youth are presented as having qualities that elude the old. Young people are endowed with characteristics like innocence, idealism, altruism and bravery. On a bad day, however, adult fantasies about young people focus on their depravity; youth are cast in the role of undisciplined, decadent and easily corrupted delinquents.

When adults are confident of their status and their authority, they can live with and reconcile their often conflicting fantasies about the young. For example, in classical antiquity the elders had no problem living with the cult of youthfulness. ‘Youth meant a healthy physique, beauty, and sexual attraction’, notes one fascinating study of the subject, before adding that, unlike today, the old in ancient times were ‘not goaded’ into being young (1). The line separating the generations was underwritten by a belief that only the old had the moral authority to run society. Indeed, in Ancient Greece and Rome, it was widely believed that ‘the young were not to be trusted with public affairs, that they were easily “corrupted” intellectually and morally and therefore a threat not only to themselves but to society at large’ (2).

For a variety of reasons, since modern times adult perceptions of the young have changed in Western society. Although the metaphor of youthful depravity still persists, the idealisation of youth has steadily gained momentum over the past three centuries. In the nineteenth century, radical and nationalist movements self-consciously adopted the word ‘Young’ to describe their parties. From the Young Italy movement to the Young Turks, a self-conscious emphasis on age conveyed an aspiration for change. Nineteenth-century Italian nationalist leaders demanded that the movement put youth at the head of its rebellion. This fantasy was carried on by Mussolini, who projected Youth as the ‘man of the future’ or, as he put it, a ‘young man not corrupted by the bourgeois and liberal past’.

In the interwar period, adult fantasies about a youthful vanguard became more powerful still. This was an era in which there was an intense concern about cultural decadence and decline. Cultural pessimism, it seems, is one of the driving forces behind the modern apotheosis of the young. In the interwar period, youth were cast in the role of a generation that would put right the mess created by their elders. It was in this era that the platitude about the young fixing adult problems gained influence in popular culture. Numerous publications predicted that the ‘revolt of the young against the old’ would help to save civilisation from the terrible damage inflicted on it by a generation steeped in the ways of the old.

The emptying out of adult identity

In recent decades, grown-up fantasies about the young have acquired an unusually desperate and confused character. So, what has changed? The main thing is that the identity of being an adult has lost much of its cultural weight and validation. Consequently, adult society often attempts to resolve the emptying out of its identity and authority by living through its young people.

Adults have become confused about how to conduct their relations with children. And this confusion is compounded by cultural trends that dispute and challenge the idea of adult authority (3). Since the 1960s glorification of youth culture, many parents have felt uncomfortable with their role as responsible adults. For some time now, parents, teachers and other adults involved with children have gone out of their way to cross the generational divide and become young people’s friends rather than mentors. Uncertainties about adulthood are invariably linked to changing ideas about childhood. In a world where maturity is disparaged as being ‘past it’, and the older generation is seen as having no special claim to wisdom, parents feel increasingly awkward about exercising authority.

Contemporary culture continually presents parents in a bad light. Popular culture portrays them as out-of-touch deadbeats who are insensitive to the needs of young people. In contrast, children are represented as essentially smart, streetwise and resourceful. This depreciation of adulthood, alongside the elevation of the child, is strikingly conveyed through TV shows and popular films. Children are regularly depicted as being morally superior to grown-ups, while their parents and other adults are depicted as craven fools. The depreciation of adulthood coincides with the idealisation of childhood and of young people.

Until the twentieth century, calling into question the power of elders focused on the manner in which authority was exercised. Youthful critics pointed to the failures, betrayals and cowardice of their elders – but they did not question the right of elders to possess authority. By contrast, over the past century the criticism of adult authority has acquired a more ideological and cultural dimension, leading to what has been described as the ‘de-authorisation of elders’. The elders no longer possess moral or cultural authority. Indeed, in recent times it is not only the authority of the old that has been called into question, but the authority of all adults.

It is this de-authorisation of adulthood that has encouraged the current tendency to defer to the youth. Time and again politicians lecture the public to ‘listen to the youth’; parenting experts have deified the ‘children’s voice’; and of course we are told that ‘children never lie’. In such circumstances, the claim that you are speaking on behalf of children or expressing the interests of the youth – or better still, getting a group of kids in front of the camera to mouth your message – is a way of legitimising your particular outlook. Speaking through the mouths of babes is now a popular pursuit amongst the European cultural elite. In France they have done it big time, with the old sanctioning the young to go out and pursue a ‘revolution’ dedicated to preserving the status quo.



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.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Odyssey of Islamism in America

By Amil Imani

Islamism is a mutation of Islam and is rapidly advancing on two fronts. In every Islamic country, it is cowing the non-radicals while recruiting more and more radicals into its own ranks. In non-Muslim lands, flush with Petrodollars, Islamism is establishing itself as a formidable force by enlisting the disaffected and attracting the delusional liberals with its promises. For the faithful, there is the added incentive of Allah’s heaven and its irresistible attractions.

Wherever Islam goes, so goes its ethos. Throwing acid in the face of women who fail to don the hijab or just by going to school, flogging people for sporting non-Islamic haircuts, and stoning to death violators of sexual norms are only a few examples of a raft of daily barbaric acts of Islamists in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and many Islamic lands. Other forms of Islamic brutalities such as Honor Killing have already found their way to America, Germany and other European countries with the ever-burgeoning Muslim populations

Reading about these religiously mandated horrific acts and even seeing them on television or the Internet may momentarily repulse, but does not terribly concern many Americans. After all, those things are happening on the other side of the world, and those people deserve each other; we are safe in fortress America, so goes the thinking.

But “Fortress America” is a delusion that even the events of 9/11 seem to have failed to dispel. Many prefer to believe that the assault of 9/11 was an aberration, since nothing like it has happened again, and it is unlikely that anything of the sort will ever happen again, so goes the wishful thinking. The reality portrays a vastly different picture. America is far from a fortress given its vast wide-open borders. It is a nation of laws where all forms of freedom are enshrined in its constitution; it’s where Americans live by humane ethos diametrically different from those of Islamist savagery. Sadly, these differences confer great advantage to the Islamists and place America in imminent danger.

The breach of “Fortress America” from the air on 9/11 is only the first installment of many more forthcoming heinous assaults, unless we abandon our complacency, stop relying on the invincibility of the law-enforcement people and willingly make the sacrifices that would protect our way of life.

Knowing Islam intimately and having experienced its systemic savagery, has compelled me to warn repeatedly of the deadly imminent threat it poses to all non-Muslims (Why Confront Islamism) attempting to present a comprehensive treatment of the evil precepts and practices of Islamism. I am listing a few facts that should be enough to alarm anyone who cherishes liberty and freedom and awaken anyone who is comforted by the belief that all the Islamic mayhem is limited to an illiterate gang of primitive Middle Easterners and has no implications for America. Sorry, bad news is here already.

* Some 26 percent of American Muslims, ages18-29, support suicide bombings "in defense of Islam," according to findings of a recent Pew poll.

* According to Pew, there are 2.35 million Muslims in America, 30 percent of whom are in the 18-29 age range. Some claim that the number of Muslims is in fact much larger. Even using the conservative Pew numbers, over 180,000 Muslims in America are bomb-approving. This is an alarmingly large number, given that Muslims, as an article of faith, practice dissimulation in dealing with infidels and under-report their true intentions. How many human bombs and bomb-approving people does it take to wreak havoc on our country?

* The 180,000 Muslims living among us don’t define what “defense of Islam” is. It could be anything that they feel constitutes an attack on Islam and Islamic values, such as the reported flushing of the Quran down the toilet, the Danish Cartoons, Rushdie’s book, a newspaper article, an Internet posting, or even women not donning the hijab.

When religious fanatics unreservedly advocate wanton acts of mass murder, they are not likely to shy from coercion and intimidation measures to impose their will on the larger society. In tandem with the cold murder of Van Gough in Holland, for instance, Islamists had been striving to supplant civil laws with the Islamic Sharia in the country. In other lands such as France, England and Canada, Muslims have also been waging serious campaigns for adoption of the Sharia or some of its provisions, just for starters.

In 2001, ISNA published a brochure that is sent to public school teachers and administrators. "You’ve Got a Muslim Child in Your School" spells out some of the basics of Islam and specifies some of the restrictions. One section reads:

“On behalf of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest organization of Muslims in the United States and Canada, we would like to request that in view of the above teachings of Islam, Muslim students in your school system should not be required to:

1) Sit next to the opposite sex in the same classroom;

2) Participate in physical education, swimming or dancing classes. Alternative meaningful education activities should be arranged for them. We urge you to organize physical education and swimming classes separately for boys and girls in accordance with the following guidelines:

• Separate classes for boys and girls in a fully covered area
• Only male/female instructors for the respective group
• Special swimming suits that cover all the private parts of the body down to the knee
• Separate and covered shower facilities for each student

3) Participate in plays, proms, social parties, picnics, dating, etc. which require free mixing of the two sexes;

4) Participate in any event or activity related to Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Valentine’s Day. All such occasions have religious and social connotations contrary to Islamic faith and teachings. We also urge you to ensure that the following facilities are available to Muslim students in your school:

5) They are excused from their classes to attend off-campus special prayers on Fridays (approximately 1:00 to 2:00 P.M.).

6) They are excused for 15 minutes in the afternoon to offer a special prayer in a designated area on the campus. The prayer is mandatory for all Muslims and often cannot be offered after the school hours.

7) All food items containing meat of a pig in any form or shape, as well as alcohol, should be clearly labeled in the cafeteria.

8) At least one properly covered toilet should be available in each men’s and women’s room.

9) Muslim students are excused, without penalty of absence, for the two most important festivals of Islam: Eid Al-Fitr and Edi Al-Adha, in accordance with the lunar calendar.”

Ever since 9/11, and possibly before, America has been concerned about terrorists coming from Islamic lands. For this reason, some people advocated profiling as a safeguard against the 9/11 type mass murderers. But how do you profile hundreds of thousands of Muslim Americans who are already here and look and act like other Americans? How can an open free society such as ours safeguard the individual freedom we so greatly value and protect the safety of its citizens?

The immensely difficult task of safeguarding our freedom while ensuring our safety is seriously and repeatedly undermined by Islamist apologists, pontificating academes, vote-hungry politicians, and the mainstream media, each for their own reasons. Here are some of the comfort pills dispensed by the mainstream media’s polls: “Most Muslims seek to adopt American lifestyle" (U.S. Today); "Muslims assimilate better in U.S. than Europe, poll finds" (New York Times); Poll: “US Muslims Feel Post-9/11 Backlash Despite Moderate Outlook" (Voice of America).

It is said that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. The mainstream media’s manipulation of statistics goes beyond selective reporting and qualifies as outright disinformation. Is the U.S. Muslims’ outlook moderate? All U.S. Muslims? What about the self-reported outlook of hundreds of thousands who support mass murder in the “defense of Islam?”


Israel: Oath's emphasis on a democratic nation state is soundly based

There is considerable misunderstanding about the proposal in Israel to change the oath for new citizens. This involves adding a few symbolic words referring to Israel's constitutional status as "a Jewish and democratic state" to an already mandatory oath for many new citizens.

That oath is not dissimilar to the pledge new Australian citizens recite and, following a sensible change to the original cabinet proposal, would be administered, if passed, in a non-discriminatory way to all newly naturalised citizens of Israel. Yet, the change may never occur - recent reports indicate it probably lacks the parliamentary majority it needs to become law.

Nonetheless, there are good reasons on balance to regard the citizenship oath proposal as counterproductive and unnecessary. The timing was clearly dictated by coalition politics, and the proposal does risk engendering undesirable feelings of discrimination and inferiority among Israel's Arab minority.
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However, the broader argument often heard that there is something inherently contradictory or racist with Israel defining itself as a Jewish and democratic state is evidence of ignorance, sloppy thinking or discriminatory malice.

Let's go back to basics. The UN's 1947 Partition Plan called explicitly for the creation of a "Jewish state", as well as an Arab state, more than 30 times, urging both to be democratic. Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence described Israel as both Jewish and democratic while insisting all minorities have full and equal rights.

The whole point of Zionism was, and is, to create an internationally recognised democratic Jewish nation state, fulfilling the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the Jewish homeland.

Such an identity is internationally unexceptional, with many democracies defining themselves based on their ethnic majority. These states express, utilise and preserve a particular people's history, language, culture, religion and group symbols, but without giving members of the majority superior rights.

Many democracies have ''established'' religions, including Britain, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

Every country in the Middle East identifies itself ethnically, religiously or both. The Palestinians give Islam, as well as Arab ethnicity, official status in their constitution.

Contrary to false claims that Israel is considering instituting some sort of overt legal discrimination against Arab Israelis, this would be absolutely forbidden by Israeli constitutional law (as embodied by Israel's Declaration of Independence, Basic Laws, and court precedents).

Israel does have some ongoing social equity problems affecting its Arab minority, not dissimilar to inequities confronting ethnic minorities in many democratic countries. However, despite undoubted room for improvement, Arabs in Israel have more rights than Arabs in any other Middle Eastern country. For example, in terms of the gaps between the minority and the majority in health, education and income, Arab Israelis are significantly better off than the children of Pakistani immigrants in Britain or indigenous Australians.

The guiding principle underlying the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for almost two decades has been to create two states for two peoples so both can achieve self-determination. Which ''two peoples'' do those who query a "Jewish state" think peace processors had in mind?

It seems indisputable that for a lasting peace based on this principle, both sides should recognise the right to self-determination of the other.

Yet Palestinians, including much of Israel's Arab minority, overwhelmingly reject this idea, even while insisting on their own right of self-determination. This rejection is explicitly tied to the demand for the Palestinian right of return - a demand that the descendants of Palestinians who fled or were pushed out of what became Israel in the 1948 war be allowed to immigrate to Israel, not the Palestinian state.

Implementation of this legally baseless demand would demographically destroy the Jewish state, as some of its advocates candidly acknowledge.

Thus, even if the oath proposal is ill-advised, the Israeli government's emphasis on seeking international and internal recognition of Israel's status as the democratic nation state of the Jewish people is soundly based.

The reality at the heart of the ongoing conflict is that until both Israel's enemies and peace partners accept a Jewish nation state, barriers to achieving true peace will remain.


Democrat propaganda incites hatred of Catholicism to attack Protestant minister!

They obviously just hate Christianity generally and too bad about who gets hurt

A political mailer sent by the Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party depicting the body of a priest wearing a button that says "Ignore the Poor" is an attempt to exploit anti-Catholic sentiment for political gain, the Catholic League said Wednesday.

The DFL insists the image is part of an effort to criticize a particular Republican candidate, not Catholics. A spokesman said the mailer is directed at Dan Hall, a Protestant minister and CEO of non-profit Midwest Chaplains, who is running for state Senate against DFL Sen. John Doll.

"Dan Hall is willing to enlist God and religion in his campaign when it helps him, but in fact, his views hurt the poorest and sickest among us, and this mailing holds him accountable for those views," DFL spokesman Donald McFarland told Fox News.

But Catholic League President Bill Donohue says the DFL would never have dismissed the criticism if it had used an image of an imam. "The DFL deliberately exploited Catholic imagery to make a political point," Donohue said. "If the DFL wants to paint Hall as anti-poor, then do it. But don't do it by hijacking Catholic imagery."

The mailer, which is one of two, went out under the DFL banner, and is an independent expenditure not endorsed by Doll. The second mailer has an image of an angel holding a scroll that says "Blessed are the Rich." The tagline reads: "Preacher Dan Hall: Pushing Politics from the Pulpit."

Doll issued a statement Wednesday saying his campaign had "nothing to do" with the mailing, calling the imagery "unfortunate."

"I have run a positive campaign based on my record of accomplishment for the district and have asked the DFL to refrain from sending any future mailings of this nature into my district. I call on all third parties engaged in negative campaigning, whether in my district or elsewhere, to cease these activities for the benefit of Minnesota voters," he said.

But McFarland said the two-piece mailer aims to highlight Hall's decision not to criticize Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state Republican lawmakers who cut funding to a state health care program in order to balance the budget.

The funding cut resulted in moving thousands of low-income recipients from one program to another that isn't on-budget, but critics say the alternative offers fewer services and costs medical providers more.

"Some Republican bloggers have taken one image from the first piece, and claimed that the mail is somehow anti-Catholic. But the text explicitly criticizes Preacher Hall for distancing himself from policy views that have been taken by the Catholic Archdiocese, by the Lutheran Synod and other leaders in Minnesota's faith community," McFarland said.

Hall, who called the mailer a slight against Catholicism, said he was surprised by the "extreme" imagery. He also questioned the point of using a priest in the depiction. "I've never worn a collar so that is way out of line," he said.

Hall added that he's spent 30 years ministering to the poor. "I think it's really terrible that we have all of this negative campaigning but this one is really below the belt. I think it affects a lot of people, churchgoing people," Hall said. "They just don't like that I've got a religious background."


Condescension and comeuppance

by Jeff Jacoby

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE with the sound of liberal Democratic contempt for the electorate. So are the valleys, the prairies, and the coasts. For months, voters have been signaling their discontent with the president, his party, and their priorities; in less than a week, they appear poised to deliver a stinging rebuke. Yet rather than address the voters' concerns with seriousness and respect, too many Democrats and their allies on the left have chosen instead to slur those voters as stupid, extremist, or too scared to think straight.

At a Democratic fundraiser in Newton this month, offering what he called "a little bit of perspective from the Oval Office," President Obama gave this diagnosis of the American political scene:

"Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared."

The smug condescension in this -- We're losing because voters are panicky and confused -- is matched only by its apparent cluelessness. Does Obama really believe that demeaning ordinary Americans is the way to improve his party's fortunes? Or that his dwindling job approval is due to the public's weak grip on "facts and science" and not to, say, to his own divisive and doctrinaire performance as president?

Perhaps he does. Or perhaps he just says such things when speaking to liberal donors. It was at a San Francisco fundraiser in 2008 that Obama described hard-pressed citizens in the small towns of Pennsylvania as "bitter" people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them . . . as a way to explain their frustrations."

Obama is far from alone in looking down his nose at the great unwashed. Last month, Senator John Kerry explained that Democrats are facing such headwinds these days because voters are easily swayed dolts: "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth."

Meanwhile, the rise of the Tea Party movement, one of the most extraordinary waves of civic engagement in modern American politics and a major driver of the 2010 election season, has drawn no end of scorn from Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media.

In Massachusetts, state Senate President Therese Murray calls Tea Party members "nutcases," while ABC's Christiane Amanpour is aghast that the grassroots movement has "really gone to the extreme" and is "not conservatism as we knew it." Rob Reiner even smears the Tea Party as Nazi-esque: "My fear is that the Tea Party gets a charismatic leader," the Hollywood director said on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" last week. "All they're selling is fear and anger and that's all Hitler sold." And the crop of citizen-candidates running for Congress this year, many of them with Tea Party backing? A "myriad of wackos," sneers the influential liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas.

Trashing conservatives as "nutcases" and "wackos" -- or worse -- is par for the course among left-wing pundits and politicos. But the electorate isn't buying it. "Likely voters in battleground districts," reports The Hill in a recent story on a poll of 10 toss-up congressional districts across the country, "see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP." Among likely voters, 44 percent think the Democratic Party is overpowered by its extremes (37 percent say that about the Republicans). Even among registered Democrats, 22% think their party is too beholden to its extremists.

Heading into next week's elections, Americans remain a center-right nation, with solid majorities believing that the federal government is too intrusive and powerful, that it does not spend taxpayer's money wisely or fairly, and that Americans would be better off having a smaller government with fewer services. Nearly halfway through the most left-wing, high-spending, grow-the-government presidential term most voters can remember, it shouldn't come as a surprise that so many of them are rebelling. The coming Republican wave is an entirely rational response to two years of Democratic arrogance and overreach. As the president and his party are about to learn, treating voters as stupid and confused is not a strategy for victory.



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.