Sunday, December 31, 2017

Matt Ridley is wrong on IQ and designer babies

Matt Ridley is sound on a lot of things.  He is a climate skeptic, for instance.  But he has succumbed to political correctness below and ends up with an illogical argument.

Some of his arguments may be correct.  His point that the polygenetic nature of IQ makes genetic modification to increase it impossibly difficult, for instance.  Such is the rapid pace of progress in science, however that I would not rule out it one day becoming possible.

But his final argument -- that intelligence is a collective thing -- is just plain sleight of hand.   He is using "intelligence" where he should be using "achievement". It is true that scientific progress and human achievement generally is the product of a huge collectivity but one person can sometimes make a major contribution -- Einstein, for instance. And if genetic modification towards high IQ becomes a common thing, high IQ could give us the "great leap forward" that Mao longed for. Though what its end might be one can only imagine

Christmas Day marks the birthday of one of the most gifted human beings ever born. His brilliance was of a supernoval intensity, but he was, by all accounts, very far from pleasant company. I refer to Isaac Newton.

Would you like your next child to have the intelligence of a Newton? It may not be long before this is a consumer choice, according to an ambitious new company founded in America a few months ago. Genomic Prediction initially plans to offer people who use in-vitro fertilisation the chance to identify and avoid embryos that would be likely to develop diabetes, late-life osteoporosis, schizophrenia and dwarfism. The key is the application of smart software to gigantic databases of genomic information from the population at large so as to spot dangerous combinations of gene variants. The founders also talk of being able to predict intelligence from genes, at least to some degree.

It is of course already common practice to screen embryos for terrible diseases, but only those simply caused by single genes: cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and so forth. The new idea is to extend this capability to disorders caused by the interaction of many genes, each of small effect: and that is most of them.

This is welcome and potentially ethical, but is it also, after many false starts, the beginning of the slippery slope to designer babies? No, it is not. If anything, the new knowledge will cause such a threat to dissolve.

It is true that intelligence is one of the most strongly heritable human traits, like height. In childhood, among people who get sufficient food and a reasonable education, genes account for about 40 per cent of the variation in IQ. Later in life this rises to more like 80 per cent. If this sounds puzzling, consider this friend of mine: left a bad school at 15, worked as a lorry driver for a big company, which spotted his intelligence and paid for him to attend a top university, where he got a first, rejoined the company and is now a global senior executive: his achievement at 45 better reflects his innate intelligence than his achievement at 15. As a child we don’t get to choose our environments, so clever kids often don’t get to read as many books or do as many mind-bending maths puzzles as they would like, while stupid children read more books and get more maths tutoring than they would if left to their own devices. By adulthood, we are choosing and modifying the life that suits us.

Hence it has always been possible selectively to breed for intelligence. Francis Galton in 1869 pointed out that just as it was easy to ‘obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations’.

However, human beings proved surprisingly unwilling to do this, and most governments eventually gave up trying to coerce them to do it, often with horrific eugenic policies. Then along came artificial insemination and test-tube babies, and surely now we would see a rush to have bright babies, by using sperm banks of Nobel Prize winners? But we did not. People used these technologies to have their own children, not those of Newton-like sperm donors. It is curious
how wrong most experts were about where the demand for IVF would come from: mainly from infertile couples wanting their own children, not fertile people wanting other people’s.

Strange as it may seem to academics, not everybody thinks intelligence matters all that much. They would rather have good- looking or athletic or happy or kind children than super-bright ones. And healthy comes first for almost everybody, so if there is any risk of poor health as a result of selecting an embryo for intelligence, people will, and for all we know very wisely, avoid it.

That is the first reason we will not see designer-intelligence any time soon: there will be little demand, especially if the procedure carries risks. For 50 years we have fretted about designer babies every time there is a new reproductive technology: mitochondrial donation and cloning were the most recent reason for dusting off the old canard.

The second reason is that the genes involved are too numerous and too feeble to be of any practical use. For a long time there was a puzzling gap between what studies of twins and adopted children said about the heritability of intelligence (that it was high), and what genetic surveys found (next to nothing). The first genome-wide association studies — or GWAS — came up empty when looking for gene variants associated with high IQ.

That has changed, thanks to much bigger sample sizes, such as the UK Biobank, which has looked inside the genomes of half a million people of a certain age. Thus, a recent study of nearly 80,000 people, published in May, found 40 new gene variants associated with intelligence. Another study  published in Nature of 1,238 extremely gifted intellectuals turned up more gene variants, including three in a gene called ADAM12.

But the more we find, the more ridiculous the idea of selecting for intelligence looks. Each variant seems to have a small effect, so you would need to fiddle with scores of genes to make a child bright, and fiddling with them might have unforeseen consequences for the health of the child. ADAM12, for example, is hard at work in every organ of the body.

As for the concern that genomic selection for intelligence, if it comes, will be available to the rich but not the poor — well, the same is true for good education. Opportunities to buy the best genes for your children will be dwarfed for decades to come by the ability of the rich to buy the best education for their children. If you must do something, do something about that instead: and preferably do so by making all education as good as the best, rather than as bad as the worst.

Finally, staring us in the face is a more obvious reason why intelligent designer babies will not happen soon and if they do, will not matter much. Individual intelligence is overrated. This is partly the well-worn argument that lots of other characteristics determine success, especially energy and diligence. We know people who are too bright to be decisive; or conversely achieve much in spite of their apparent disadvantages.

However, I mean something more than this. I mean that human achievements are always and everywhere collective. Every object and service you use is the product of different minds working together to invent or manage something that is way beyond the capacity of any individual mind. This is why central planning does not work. Ten million people eat lunch in London most days; how the heck they get what they want and when and where, given that a lot of them decide at the last minute, is baffling. Were there a London lunch commissioner to organise it, he would fail badly. Individual decisions integrated by price signals work, and work very well indeed.

And here is the key insight from evolution. Our brains grew big long, long before we achieved civilisation. We’ve had 1,200cc of intelligence for half a million years: even Neanderthals had huge brains. For 99 per cent of that time we were just another hard-pressed species, as bottle-nosed dolphins are today, and around 75,000 years ago we teeter-ed on the brink of extinction.

What changed was not some bright spark of a new gene being turned on, but that we began to exchange and specialise, to create collective intelligence, rather than rely on individual braininess. To put it another way, dozens of stupid people in a room who talk to each other will achieve far more than an equal number of clever people who don’t. The internet only underlines this point. Human intelligence is a distributed, collaborative phenomenon.


Seattle Public Transit Religious Ads Guideline Could Prove Model for DC Metro, Which Won’t Run Religious Ads

Last week, a federal judge denied a motion from the Archdiocese of Washington for an injunction directing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to accept and run the archdiocese’s advent advertisements on Metrobuses.

The advertisements, which featured shepherds following a star, urged people to “find the perfect gift” by directing them to a website with Catholic mass times and other religious content.

Metro previously rejected the advertisements as inconsistent with its advertising guidelines, which prohibit, among other things, “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief.” The archdiocese initiated a lawsuit in federal district court against Metro, asking that the guideline in question—Guideline 12—be declared unconstitutional.

This is far from the first lawsuit against Metro’s advertising guidelines, which it amended in 2015 to prohibit a wide array of noncommercial advertisements, including those with political or religious messages, endorsing public policies, or attempting to influence public opinion on contentious social issues.

What does this ruling mean? What are the legal arguments being raised against these guidelines? Could Metro have avoided these lawsuits by implementing more flexible policies?

The Injunction Denial Is Far From the End

The federal district court judge only declined to issue a preliminary injunction, which is different than deciding whether the guideline is constitutional.

An injunction is merely a request to make the other party to the lawsuit act or stop acting in a certain way, pending the outcome of the case. The archdiocese essentially asked the judge to require that Metro run its advent advertisements until the court rules on whether Guideline 12 is constitutional.

A preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary and drastic remedy” that is “never awarded as [a matter] of right” (Munaf v. Geren). In other words, it’s intentionally difficult for a party to obtain one.

The judge determined that the archdiocese did not establish that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its case, and that it would not suffer irreparable harm if Metro isn’t required to run the advent advertisements in the interim. On Wednesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals also declined to issue a preliminary injunction for similar reasons.

Legal Arguments Against the Guidelines

The archdiocese raises several legal challenges to Guideline 12, some of which are complicated by the fact Metro is a unique tri-jurisdictional agency, created by Congress as an interstate compact between Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. It’s difficult to ascertain whether and how this might impact the archdiocese’s claims that Guideline 12 violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal statute that the Supreme Court ruled cannot constitutionally be applied to the states (City of Boerne v. Flores).

The other major claims, however, appear fairly straightforward.

The archdiocese’s first claim is that Guideline 12 impermissibly restricts its First Amendment right to free speech. Because Metro is a government agency, this case is governed by law concerning the regulation of speech on government property. This means the restriction will be analyzed under the “Public Forum Doctrine,” which categorizes government property as either a traditional public forum, a designated public forum, or a nonpublic forum.

In traditional and designated public forums, regulations that discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint or content are almost always struck down as unconstitutional. In nonpublic forums, however, content-specific regulations may be allowed as long as they are both reasonable and viewpoint-neutral.

The archdiocese contends primarily that Metro’s prohibitions are not viewpoint-neutral and are enforced in a discriminatory manner against religious expression. It points out that Metro allows advertisements for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle charity drive and for a yoga studio, both of which arguably promote religion and religious practices. Further, it argues that Metro allows secular and commercial viewpoints on the Christmas season, while disallowing any promotion of the holiday’s inherently religious underpinnings.

The archdiocese’s second major claim is that Guideline 12 burdens its First Amendment right to freely exercise its religious beliefs.

Similarly to laws and regulations restricting speech, regulations burdening a person or organization’s religious practices must be neutral and generally applicable to survive legal challenges (Emp’t Div. v. Smith). If they are not neutral and generally applicable, they must survive strict scrutiny—that is, they must advance a compelling state interest, be necessary to achieve that interest, and be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

To be neutral and generally applicable, laws and regulations cannot single out religious speech or practices for disfavored treatment, and they cannot be enforced in a discriminatory manner against religious practitioners. (Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah).

The archdiocese argues that Metro’s prohibitions disfavor religious speech in general, and establish a preference for nonreligious institutions and viewpoints. In practice, the prohibitions silence all ideological challenges to secularism.

Although absent from the archdiocese complaint, it should be noted that at the same time Metro banned all religiously-oriented viewpoints because of their polarizing nature, it amended the guidelines to allow the advertisement of alcoholic beverages—an equally polarizing advertising topic, according to Metro’s own research.

Metro’s Guidelines Are Misguided

As the late Justice Antonin Scalia famously noted, “It is entirely possible for a law to be really, really stupid and yet be constitutional.” Here, Metro notoriously demands increased funding while simultaneously rejecting revenue streams from fairly uncontroversial advertisements that technically violate its broad advertising guidelines.

Metro’s desire to adopt more restrictive guidelines was not completely unreasonable in and of itself—they were initially amended in 2015 after a proposed advertisement picturing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad caused significant and not entirely unfounded fears of violent backlash.

Similar public outrage had occurred in 1988 after Metro allowed advertisements alleging Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians, in 1995 when it ran anti-abortion advertisements, and in 2001 over advertisements attacking the Catholic Church’s stance on the use of condoms.

It is understandable that Metro sought ways to constitutionally prohibit these types of controversial advertisements that could legitimately hamper its ability to achieve its primary aim—safely getting a D.C. area passenger from Point A to Point B.

However, there are other ways in which Metro could achieve this goal with more narrowly tailored advertising guidelines that could prohibit only those advertisements likely to be harmful or disruptive to the transit system. Had it adopted guidelines similar to those implemented by the King County (Seattle) Department of Transportation, all of this unnecessary litigation and public relations nightmare could have been avoided.

Seattle’s transit advertising guidelines offer perhaps the best example of a healthy balance between raising revenue, treating viewpoints equally, and still ensuring that inflammatory advertisements will not threaten the efficiency of the system or the safety of passengers.

Its prohibitions are limited in scope, and provide flexible but instructive guidelines for assessing whether a particular advertisement falls within a particular prohibition.

Notably, Seattle prohibits political campaign speech and speech that “demeans or disparages an individual, group of individuals, or entity.” But the most relevant prohibition bars advertisements containing “material that is so objectionable as to be reasonably foreseeable that it will result in harm to, disruption of or interference with the transportation system.”

For all of these arguably subjective standards, King County seeks to make the process more objective by employing a “reasonably prudent person” test to determine whether the advertisement would be generally understood as violating the prohibitions on demeaning or disruptive material. In Washington, as in many states, this test has developed a substantial body of judicial precedent that allows for fairly consistent and discernable outcomes.

The practical benefit of this standard is that it protects King County’s interests in passenger safety by actually focusing the prohibitions on material most likely to impact passenger safety and business efficiency. The “harmful or disruptive” prohibitions are not concerned with quashing viewpoints, either on an individual or categorical level. Rather, the concern is much more aligned with “reserv[ing] the forum for its intended purposes,” (see Perry Educ. Ass’n) which is the provision of safe and reliable public transportation.

Under similar guidelines, Metro could have allowed the archdiocese to run its advertisements, while still having an emergency fire extinguisher to eliminate the would-be flames likely to be prompted by advertisements depicting Muhammad or accusing the Catholic Church of murder.

Although this lawsuit is still in its infancy, it appears—for this Christmas, at least—the archdiocese will not be able to run its advertisements on Metrobuses. It is too early to make conclusions on how the court will rule on the merits, as many more facts about whether and how Metro enforces its policy in a discriminatory way may come to light as the litigation proceeds.

One thing, however, is abundantly clear: Metro could have avoided this problem by adopting more narrowly tailored prohibitions that don’t exclude advertisements unlikely to cause disruptions to transit service.

At the very best, Guideline 12 might pass constitutional muster (barely). That doesn’t make it any less worthy of being repealed as a bad policy.


What We Can Learn from Portugal’s Drug Policy

For more than 100 years the United States has looked to prohibition to curtail the use of drugs. Proponents argue that by making substances like marijuana, cocaine and heroin illegal, government can significantly reduce drug-related crime, prevent addiction and stop the spread of drug-related disease.

The results have been less than impressive. In fact, Michael Botticelli, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the War on Drugs has consisted of “failed policies and failed practices.”

Among alternative policies proposed to better achieve the stated goals are decriminalization of drugs—relaxed enforcement and penalties for drug offenses—and outright legalization of all drugs.

Yes, all of them.

These options may sound counterproductive, but the data tell a different story. In 2001 Portugal shocked the world and voted to decriminalize all drugs in response to a growing heroin problem.

Things like drug trafficking remain illegal, but drug users are viewed as ill rather than criminal. Instead of immediate arrest and incarceration, people caught with less than a 10-day supply of hard drugs are taken before a special court of legal experts, psychologists and social workers. The goal is a health-focused solution to drug use, with an occasional small fine or community service.

Fifteen years later plentiful data tell a drastically different story from what many predicted. Drug use among 15- to 24-year-olds has decreased dramatically and drug-induced deaths dropped from 80 in 2001 to 16 in 2012. Before 2001 Portugal confined around 100,000 drug users. Within the first 10 years of the policy’s adoption, this number halved. Today Portugal boasts one of the lowest drug-usage rates in all of Europe.

People are leaving the drug market and seeking treatment. The number of individuals registered in rehab has risen from 6,000 in 1999 to more than 24,000 in 2008. The number of heroin users who inject the drug has decreased from 45 percent to 17 percent. Injection rates are particularly important when discussing drug-related disease. Drug addicts now account for only 20 percent of HIV cases in the country, a significant improvement from the previous 56 percent.

These results can be explained with basic economics. As people get help for their drug use, the number of users—that is, the demand for drugs—falls. When the demand falls, drug suppliers find that their once-lucrative enterprise no longer bears fruit. So they exit the market.

This would explain why a 2010 study in the British Journal of Criminology found that after decriminalization Portugal saw a significant reduction in the imprisonment of alleged drug dealers, from 14,000 in 2000 to 5,000 in 2010. In fact, the proportion of people in jail for crimes committed while under the influence of drugs or to feed a drug habit fell from 41 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2008.

By redirecting resources previously allocated to arresting and jailing drug users, Portugal has not only curbed its drug problem but has created a healthier society. When asked what the global community should take away from Portugal’s policy, Alex Steven, president of the International Society of the Study of Drug Policy, said, “The main lesson to learn (is that) decriminalizing drugs doesn’t necessarily lead to disaster, and it does free up resources for more effective responses to drug-related problems.”

There is something to learn from treating drug use as a physical and mental illness. Consider the results of the Portuguese policy versus the U.S. approach. While Portugal’s rates of use, incarceration and illness have all fallen, drug use in the United States has remained relatively unchanged for the past decade. Each year 1.5 million people are arrested on drug-related charges, 80 percent for mere possession. Half of all federal incarcerations are drug-related.

Few would argue that drug use isn’t a problem. Without a doubt, drug use presents problems for public health and destroys many lives. But when examining the efficacy of drug policies, the U.S. model is nothing short of a complete failure. It’s time to look at alternatives. As the Portuguese case illustrates, so-called “radical” policies may be perfectly reasonable.


Protests Rage In Sweden After Cops Tell Women To ‘Stay inside’ To Avoid Gang Rapes

Hundreds of protesters raged against Swedish police Tuesday after the nation’s law enforcement warned women to “stay inside or walk in pairs” to avoid the slew of gang rapes that have plagued the country this fall.

Police issued the warning Sunday after a 17-year-old was gang raped early Saturday morning in Malmo, Sweden, by an unknown number of attackers, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday. The first of the series of rapes occurred on Nov. 4, followed by another just a week later. Malmo police have opened a preliminary investigation into the rape, and they have defended their comment, claiming their words are being taken out of context.

“It’s about common sense. We are not warning people not to be outside, but to think twice and maybe not walk alone late at night and instead go with others or take a taxi,” said Anders Nilsson, a Malmo police officer.

Despite their defense, however, Malmo police yielded to protesters Tuesday and retracted the statement.

Sweden’s rape rate is among the highest in the world. This summer, a Swedish music festival decided to cancel its 2018 event due to the spree of rapes that took place at the event. Attendees reported three rapes and 22 sexual assaults by the festival’s conclusion in early July, and the festival’s founder said he can no longer allow the festival to go on.

The country’s immigrant rape problem has also escalated as it has taken in more and more refugees from conflicts in the Middle East. Sweden has also shown great reluctance to deport refugees and foreigners who have been convicted of rape. Only 13 percent of foreigners registered as Swedish residents found guilty of raping children between 2010-2014 were sent home. Among those not registered as Swedish residents, only 40 percent of foreign child rapists are deported.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Friday, December 29, 2017

NZ singer Lorde talked out of performing in Israel by Leftist lies

Lorde announced on December 18 that she was going to play concerts in Moscow, St Petersburg and Tel Aviv next May as part of her Melodrama world tour. But it didn't take long for many of her fans to urge a rethink.

"Playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation," wrote two female fans in New Zealand, one an Israeli Jew and the other a Palestinian. "Please join the artistic boycott of Israel, cancel your Israeli tour dates and make a stand. Your voice will join many others and together we can and will make a difference."

The issue they were highlighting was the continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the illegal construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It has spawned the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, which in part urges artists not to appear in Israel because doing so helps "create the false impression that Israel is a 'normal' country like any other". In fact, the Palestinian-led campaign insists, Israel is an apartheid state pursuing policies that amount to ethnic cleansing.

It's powerful, heavily charged stuff, complicated further by the fact that some within the BDS movement think the state of Israel has no right to exist at all.


Christians Sign Statement of Christian Faith, Left Goes Nuts

The Bible could not be clearer that homosexuality is an abomination to God

Christians aren’t supposed to believe what the Bible teaches; Christians are instead supposed to believe what 21st century social justice warriors allow them to believe. That’s essentially the message of progressives in the wake of the signing by many prominent Evangelical Christians of the Nashville Statement.

National Review’s David French, who was among the signers, sums it up: “It’s a basic declaration of Christian orthodoxy on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Its 14 articles can be boiled down to a simple statement: We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage. It acknowledges the reality of same-sex attraction as well as the reality of transgender self-conceptions, but denies that God sanctions same-sex sexual activity or a transgendered self-conception that is at odds with biological reality. In other words, it’s basic Christianity.”

Naturally, that’s vile bigotry to many on the Left. In addition to the leftist Christians whose politics often trump their belief in the Bible’s teachings, Nashville’s Democrat Mayor Megan Barry weighed in, tweeting, “The @CBMWorg’s so-called ‘Nashville Statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.” But given the large conservative Evangelical presence in Nashville, we’d say that the statement is in fact a fair and accurate representation.

But as French notes, Barry’s proclamation, as representative of Nashville’s government, is “a declaration of state against church.” It’s the mayor telling many of her own citizens that they do not represent their city. This line of totalitarian thinking is exactly what drove the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, among other things. Americans are being told what to think by the Rainbow Mafia and its Big Media enablers. Or should we say feel? Because that’s what this is — emotion-driven, “love wins” policymaking that subjects those who disagree to disdain, mockery and even criminal penalty. Is that the kind of religious liberty the Pilgrims came here to establish?


Banning Media Mega-Mergers May Protect First Amendment

By Rick Manning

The First Amendment to the Constitution protecting the right to engage in speech is fundamental to a free country. The past few years have seen multiple attempts by the Democratic Party and their far-left supporters to create a new definition of this right - the freedom from speech that one doesn't like.

While this trend toward the left trying to redefine rights as being freedom from activity they don't like is not new, it has taken hold as the dominant philosophy of the Democratic Party in the past few years. It was just in September of 2014, that Senate Democrats voted to repeal the First Amendment and replace it with language that would end protections for political speech.

Now, violent left-wing protesters shut down speeches of those they don't agree with on college campuses and spent last year attacking Donald Trump supporters with the acquiescence of local officials and the police they direct in places like Chicago and San Jose, California.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all come under fire for restricting speech from individuals and groups on the right with which their internal political culture disagrees.

It is this new, intolerant attitude toward speech that is leading to a re-examination of the wisdom of allowing the consolidation of media outlets that control both the pipelines for distributing and the content they distribute.

Into this mix, AT&T and Time Warner attempted to merge and candidate Donald Trump warned against the creation of this corporate behemoth saying in October of 2016, "As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few."

After exhaustive review and more than a year later, the Justice Department announced that they would be filing a lawsuit against the merger writing, "As AT&T itself has expressly acknowledged, distributors with control over popular programming "have the incentive and ability to use . . . that control as a weapon to hinder competition."  And, as DirecTV itself has explained, such vertically integrated programmers "can much more credibly threaten to withhold programming from rival [distributors]" and can "use such threats to demand higher prices and more favorable terms."  This merger would create just such a vertically integrated programmer and cause precisely such harms to competition."

The legal challenge to the merger creates a new marker for big media that the Justice Department will not be a rubber stamp. But most importantly, it should force other potential mega-media mergers like the just announced Disney and 21st Century Fox acquisitions to worry about the stifling of competition inherent in behemoth companies and the new DOJ sensitivity toward media monopolies.

Disney Corporation, for instance, has been at the forefront of legally attacking VidAngel, a small Utah company, that allows movie purchasers to automatically fast forward past offensive materials. VidAngel encourages its customers to purchase Disney or other movie products and then use the filtering invention to protect their family from content that parents believe is inappropriate without having to miss the entire movie. In the wake of the new DOJ scrutiny of mega-media mergers, it is not a good look for Disney to be seeking to legally use its money and power to squash a small competitor.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' DOJ decision to challenge giant media companies seeking to harm competition may turn out to be one of the most consequential decisions of the Trump Administration. And what's more, it may be the turning point in assuring that the First Amendment does not get washed away in media merger mania.


Too bad if working mothers deprive their chidren of needed attention.  Just give them a pill

Earlier this year I reviewed various topics covered in psychotherapist Erica Komisar’s much-needed book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. The book covers the culture of motherhood in such a profound way that I’d line it up with Ina May Gaskin’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Stephen Camarata’s The Intuitive Parent in a trifecta of required reading for all new parents.

Komisar’s book is focused on the mental health of both mother and child during the first three years of a child’s life. Focusing on the mother-child relationship, Komisar delves into the reasons why ADD/ADHD, depression, and anxiety diagnoses have skyrocketed among children over the past decade. Her conclusion is simple: Culture pushes mothers away from their children long before children are ready to separate. This cultural demand puts the psychological health of both mother and child at serious, even long-term risk.

Komisar’s book became popular enough to attract the attention of the Wall Street Journal. Her profile in the paper then attracted even more attention, this time in the form of accusations Komisar originally received from publishers who rejected her manuscript, fearing feminist backlash. You’re setting women back! You’re making women feel guilty!

Komisar’s call for a child-centric culture was screamed against by feminists, the irony being twofold. One, mainstream feminists proved themselves to be the single-issue anti-child movement they’ve been accused of being since Roe v. Wade. Two, perhaps more frighteningly, these feminists favor '60s politics over current scientific data. If it is children who are being sacrificed on the altar of the former, the latter is an altar on which today’s women are being burnt alive by their own sisterhood.

The government is well aware of the toll cultural pressures have taken on the mental health of today’s mothers. So aware, in fact, that they’re right ready to step in with a new program called Healthy Steps, “ a national program designed to improve the delivery of developmental and behavioral services to young children through primary pediatric care.”

It is worth noting that Healthy Steps is managed by ZERO TO THREE, an organization that began as a pet project of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Clinical Unit in the 1970s. By the '90s, ZERO TO THREE was a corporation so intertwined with government agencies that then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was featured at their 20th anniversary gala honoring Senators Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Jim Jeffords and John Kerry, all hearty advocates of universal healthcare.

Healthy Steps is being praised in parent media as a program that allows mothers to have mental health screenings at their children’s pediatric appointments. The belief is that through these screenings maternal depression that might otherwise go ignored can be diagnosed and treated before it has a long-term negative impact on the family.

What the Healthy Steps press doesn’t dive into is the fact that most general practitioners, given a limited window with patients, will simply prescribe antidepressant medication if their patient fits the bill. Hence, “the use of antidepressants increased nearly 400 percent between 1988 and 2008, mostly among women between the ages of 40 and 59.”

Instead of seeking out the right mental health experts to address mental health issues, busy mothers are more apt to take the pill at a timely appointment and keep going. And because general practitioners have become the primary prescribers of antidepressant medication, “the increasing trend in long-term antidepressant use was almost entirely in adults who received their medications from general medical providers.” And because drugs are cheaper than therapy, insurance companies prefer you just take the medication, regardless of the dangerous side effects of taking these medications long term.

Research indicating that “ important data about the safety of these drugs — especially their risks for children and adolescents — has been withheld from the medical community and the public,” doesn’t surface in Healthy Steps literature. This, combined with current medical practices leads one to conclude that if you’re planning on using Healthy Steps to address your own maternal health issues, you’ll just be given a prescription to pop a pill.

Ironically, Komisar was driven to write her book based on the dramatic increase in mental health diagnoses among children. Now we’re learning that the government’s response to addressing the child mental health crisis is to medicate mothers. Instead of addressing the real issue, culturally forced maternal-child separation at far too young an age, we’re sedating ourselves into acceptance of a cultural norm that is anything but normal.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hate vs. Hate in the War to Whitewash History

The awful violence in Charlottesville is the inevitable culmination of the Left's goal of eradicating opposing viewpoints.

The despicable violence in Charlottesville is one predictable and inevitable outcome of the Leftist objective to eradicate opposing viewpoints. Whitewashing history (pardon the pun) and engaging in political violence are tools to that end.

As the Dallas Morning News observantly noted, “History is not easily compartmentalized. It isn’t simply right versus wrong, black versus white, or blue versus gray. But there’s an entire crowd of folks who want to do just that because they believe it is all those things, and most egregiously, they believe there is an individual right for all to go through life unoffended.”

Dr. Lee Cheek, senior fellow of the Alexander Hamilton Institute, concurred, noting, “The events in Charlottesville have no connection to understanding the political traditions of the American South, and everything to do with battles among professional ideologues without any attachment or knowledge of the historical situation.”

Millions of Southerners are proud of their heritage for reasons that have nothing to do with slavery. They revere Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who stated in 1856, five years before the commencement of the War Between the States, “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former.”

For the record, Lee was not a slave owner but was in charge of the estate of his wife’s father in 1857, who decreed that his plantation slaves should be freed in five years. In 1862, Lee did just that, and part of that former plantation is now Arlington National Cemetery. Similarly, but rarely mentioned, Union commander Ulysses Grant managed the 850-acre White Haven plantation of his wife’s father near St. Louis, and actually worked and had purchased slaves, whom he also later freed.

Lee is heralded as a brilliant military strategist who served America faithfully in the Mexican War and as Superintendent of West Point. However, when called upon by President Abraham Lincoln to lead Union forces against the seceding South, he declined, incapable of bearing arms against his family, friends and home state. He accepted the commission as commander of Confederate forces in order to defend his beloved state of Virginia. Following the war, Lee worked tirelessly to convince his fellow Southerners to seek peace and reconciliation.

None of this matters to the Left, though. There is no understanding of the complexities of history, no appreciation for context. Slavery has existed throughout human history, regardless of color or nationality. In fact, there are more people enslaved worldwide today than ever before, including slavery practiced by Muslims. Mohammad owned slaves. One wonders if American progressives will now call for banning all things Islamic.

Indeed, how far will this go? Historical monuments of the Confederacy are being removed in Memphis, Lexington, Baltimore, New Orleans and elsewhere to appease angry leftists. These fascists even desecrated an Atlanta monument dedicated to unity and reconciliation.

Violent leftists have rioted in recent years in Brooklyn, Baltimore, Chicago, Ferguson, Charlotte, Berkeley, DC, Oakland and other cities, destroying businesses, setting cars on fire, and dragging people from their cars and beating them, declaring their right to do so because of past and current “injustices” — such as hearing words they don’t like.

As detestable as the KKK and white supremacists are, they have a right to speak and to peaceably assemble. Our First Amendment was written specifically to protect unpopular speech, and we show our own intolerance by silencing those with whom we disagree. The violence in Charlottesville would not likely have occurred had not the leftist agitators shown up looking to pick a fight, though the murderous Nazi thug is obviously responsible for his own actions.

So again we ask, how far does this go?

Do we eliminate all monuments to Democrat/progressive hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who opposed anti-lynching legislation, turned a blind eye to the Nazi eradication of Jews, and imprisoned 100,000 Japanese-Americans? What about progressive icon and racist Woodrow Wilson, who re-segregated the federal workforce?

Progressives have already declared war on Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, who owned slaves but sought to prohibit slavery in the newly formed nation. They now call for taking down the Jefferson Memorial.

Even Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, is not immune to leftist hatred. The Lincoln Memorial was desecrated Tuesday. Is that because Lincoln, a staunch opponent of slavery, was willing to save it in order to preserve the Union, or because he also believed in the superiority of the white race?

If we truly want to rid our nation of its shameful history regarding racism, let’s start by abolishing the racist Democrat Party. After all, it was the Democrats who waged war to preserve slavery, founded the KKK, enacted Jim Crow laws, and fought against Republican efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act.

Democrat President Andrew Jackson owned slaves and signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

It was Harry Truman who wrote to his wife, “I think one man is just as good as another so long as he’s not a n—er or a Chinaman.”

It was the Democrat Party that praised Senator and former KKK Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd until his death a few years ago, a man who filibustered the Civil Rights Act for 14 hours. It was Lyndon Johnson, a virulent racist but a political pragmatist, who told two Southern Democrat governors his signing of the Civil Rights Act would “have those n—ers voting Democrat for 200 years.” And it’s Johnson’s “Great Society” that has yielded today’s urban poverty plantations, where blacks slaughter other blacks without too much notice from the Leftmedia.

What about Bill Clinton, whining about the upstart Barack Obama: “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags”? Oh, by the way, turns out Obama is the direct maternal line descendant of slave owners! Or the absolute devotion of Democrats to Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger for the express purpose of exterminating blacks through abortion and sterilization? According to Tuskegee University, the KKK lynched 3,446 blacks in 86 years. Planned Parenthood is a white supremacist’s dream, killing more blacks in two weeks than the KKK killed in a century. And the Democrat Party fights to ensure that $500 million a year in taxpayer funds is funneled to Planned Parenthood to kill all of those black babies.

Oh, and no small irony, it turns out that Obama, who has stoked the fires of racial hatred for his entire political career, and been the loudest voice for black supremacy, is, himself, the direct maternal descendant of slave owners. (Oops.) Hard to erase that history, though references to Obama’s family ties to slavery are sparse because, again, that doesn’t fit neatly with the Left’s race-bait political narrative.

Can we at least agree to remove the Seattle monument to Vladimir Lenin? Anyone? Anyone?

As 20th century philosopher George Santayana concluded in his treatise, “The Life of Reason”: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” English writer Aldous Huxley put it more succinctly: “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”

How far do we go to whitewash history? When do they start burning books? Will the Left accelerate the violence in order to oppress of opposing viewpoints? If so, then Charlottesville is only a whistle stop along the road to national dissolution.

Footnote: Before tearing down statues became a Leftist fad, Virginia’s Clintonista Governor, New Yorker Terry McAuliffe, characterized the Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue “parts of our heritage.” After Charlottesville, McAuliffe now characterizes them as “flashpoints for hatred, division, and violence.” And speaking of “New Yorkers,” the latest Leftist to jump on the race-bait freight train is New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has found some Lee and Jackson statues to remove in his state. Perhaps he should pick up a history book – New York is named for one of the most notorious slave traders in history, the Duke of York. Finally, on the subject of historical revision, longtime friend of The Patriot Post, distinguished George Mason University professor Walter Williams, has issued erudite warnings about the consequences of historical ignorance here and here, including the removal of historic markers to Confederate generals and the rewriting American history.


Challenging the Racist Cops Myth

The petulant NFL kneelers are protesting a racism myth.

NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem was a movement steadily gaining momentum. It suddenly exploded after Donald Trump called out the protesting players for disrespecting the American flag. Now the Leftmedia elite are blaming Trump for causing “division.” But the truth is Trump hit upon an issue that has become deeply offensive to many Americans: Multi-millionaires are protesting supposed injustice and racism in America that is simply not backed up by the facts. Those protesting are demanding that Americans concede to accepting a reality that amounts to a lie. And what is that lie? That police across the nation are systemically racist against blacks. It’s the Democrat war on cops.

Any time an issue like racism is raised, it evokes high degrees of emotion and passion, because it hits at two fundamental truths. First, an individual has absolutely no control over their race; quite literally they are “born that way.” Second, people naturally gravitate toward and relate to those with whom they share the most in common. And neither of these truths are inherently wrong or evil. When these realities are raised as ultimate delimiters and primary identifiers between people, that’s when the ugly problem of racism emerges. In other words, friction happens when people are taught to attribute everything about themselves and others primarily to the lowest common denominator of race. For example, the reason you got in trouble was because you’re black, or the reason you got into a good school is because you are Asian, etc.

It is precisely this flawed race-based mindset that has been behind the current NFL anthem protests. When objectively looking at the actual data, an honest individual can easily see the flaw in these protesters’ objections. The truth is that police are not a bunch of racists running around seeking black men to kill or imprison.

In 2015, the number of individuals killed by police was 995. That’s out of a total population of 318 million people. Obviously, the bare fact that an individual was killed doesn’t tell the whole story, but of those killed only 90 were determined to be unarmed. Of those unarmed individuals killed only 4% were black men killed by white cops. In the vast majority of all police killings (three-quarters), law enforcement officers were confronted by individuals who were armed. One statistic often left out of the conversation is the number of police killed. In 2015, 124 out of an estimated 900,000 full-time federal, state and local officers lost their lives in the line of duty.

The objective data simply does not support the protesters’ message of a pandemic of racist cops. It is merely a popular myth perpetuated by those who ply their trade by convincing people that they are helpless victims and targets of some massively unjust society, especially the police.

Why is it that none of these NFL players or owners has the courage to actually stand up and challenge the lie that is being perpetuated? The greater problem is not players kneeling during the national anthem, it’s that no one is willing to step up and challenge the lie of systemic racism.


Masculinity: Being a Man in a 'Pajama Boy' Age

Our culture has dumbed down and feminized men for decades.

One of the enduring symbols of the Obama years may be that of the “pajama boy.” In an effort to get younger people to sign up for health insurance, in December 2013 Organizing for Action tweeted out the now-infamous photo of a young hipster with the caption, “Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance.” Whether it was a present-day indication or a sign of things to come, college-age men are now told about “toxic masculinity” and warned that “the ‘three most destructive’ words a boy can hear growing up are ‘be a man.’” In terms of biology, boys have little choice but to become men, but their behavior as such is influenced by their culture and role models.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, we were told that it was time for the first female president to break the “glass ceiling” men had created. Hillary Clinton was even set up with a heel suitable for a WWE event: an opponent in Donald Trump who made headlines from decade-old remarks about his prowess in grabbing women he desired as sexual objects — remarks that were kept on ice by the Leftmedia until they could be released to devastating effect as an October surprise.

Intentionally or not, Trump has fit himself into one of the primary stereotypes Hollywood has created for male characters — that of the boorish, bigoted cad with little redeeming social value. He’s an even less sympathetic version of Archie Bunker. When leftist Norman Lear created spinoff shows from the popular “All in the Family,” he also created similar male characters like Walter Findlay (husband of “Maude”) and George Jefferson. “Seinfeld” had a different take on this with Frank Costanza, George’s dad.

From that style of behavior, we go to another Hollywood favorite: the incompetent dad who screws everything up, leaving the female lead to solve the problems. (Think Ray Barone of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Homer Simpson or “Family Guy” Peter Griffin.) Another variation of this: the complete loser. (Think Al Bundy of the ‘80s sitcom “Married With Children.”)

A second media creation about how to “be a man” comes from the hardcore rappers who endlessly work out rhymes that call women some equivalent of the b-word or another that rhymes with “so.” (Some raunchy female artists do this, too, and then richly complain about objectification of women.) Over the years that mentality has led to millions of children born to unwed mothers who have no father in their life — meanwhile, the “baby daddy” may have several other children by multiple women. It’s the virility of being “macho” but without the virtues of decency, maturity or responsibility.

With these portrayals of fatherhood, it’s obvious our mass media celebrates an era of “girl power” that leaves younger boys as afterthoughts bereft of good role models. They can’t even pretend to be a good male Disney character anymore — the media giant hardly crafts such male role models any more.

To be an acceptable man in our culture is to have those elements as a beta male, allowing yourself to get in touch with your feelings. Being a strong male — not necessarily the John Wayne caricature, but simply a man with the mental and physical strength to be a provider, husband, family leader and thoughtful Patriot — is now frowned upon, to the lament of those who recall a time when men weren’t so “vulnerable.”

Good male role models are a requirement, though, for a boy to have the best chance at leading a happy, fulfilling life. Yes, boys can have a strong single mother and succeed — and millions have done so despite the odds being against them. But in our worldly base of knowledge that shakes its fist at tradition and insists that an enlightened few know better, we’ve devolved to living like the pajama boy.

Changing that requires much more than a new president. It requires looking past those emasculating “experts” who would tell our boys how to be men and finding good role models and mentors who do it the right way every day. Fortunately, such role models are still out there — if we would only look for them.


Conservatives get canceled, liberals quit laughing: How Trump’s election killed comedy

National Public Radio host Jesse Thorn announced this year that his now 6-year-old child, who was born a biological male, is transgender and will be raised as a girl named Grace.

Some on the left praised Mr. Thorn for his openness and tolerance. Conservative comedian Owen Benjamin had different words for it: child abuse.

Mr. Benjamin said as much while performing at a college campus. In one of his routines, he quipped that he would have been labeled a girl as a child because he liked to weave and hated sports. Once puberty hit, he was clearly male because he wanted to have sex with women.

Within days, the University of Connecticut canceled Mr. Benjamin’s scheduled appearance, costing him a $7,500 paycheck. His manager and agent both dropped him. Comedy clubs canceled his appearances, and the comedian, who had been performing at nearly 20 colleges a year, suddenly had nothing on his schedule.

“I just got massacred,” Mr. Benjamin said of the backlash. “I had people telling me that I was bullying a transgender child. I was actually bullying an adult that was committing child abuse. If anything, I am the only one standing up for the child.”

Conservatives who work in comedy say his experience is not unusual. In an industry that has historically tilted left, they have been ridiculed for their views.

But since the election of Donald Trump, they have become pariahs.

“Comedy is dead, except for calling Donald Trump a Nazi,” said Rodney Lee Conover, a right-leaning comedian who got his start writing jokes for Rush Limbaugh.

The tectonic shift left is not just in comedy clubs’ brick walls but in our living rooms. Johnny Carson’s middle-of-the-road political comedy has been replaced with Stephen Colbert (host of CBS’ “The Late Show”), John Oliver (host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”), Trevor Noah (host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”) and others bashing all things conservative on a nightly basis.

Jimmy Kimmel has turned his late-night program on ABC into a seminar on health care. Although his rants have been judged as inaccurate and misleading, it doesn’t stop them from being shared across social media, where they become gospel for many Americans.

Mr. Kimmel revealed that some of his pro-Obamacare monologues were based on talking points provided by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

Mr. Kimmel told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in October that he has no problem losing Republican viewers over his political commentary. The interview occurred shortly after he abandoned another monologue to call for stricter gun control.

At the heart of the comedy is Mr. Trump, who is on pace to become the most ridiculed president ever, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

During his first 100 days in office, Mr. Trump was the subject of 1,060 jokes by late-night comedians — twice that of George W. Bush during his entire first year. Mr. Trump should easily shatter the full-year record for jokes, set by Bill Clinton in 1998 — the year of the Monica Lewinski scandal.

But the jokes go beyond Mr. Trump to include those who might have voted for him.

Samantha Bee was forced to issue an apology in March after mocking a Conservative Political Action Conference attendee for having “Nazi hair.” The target of her haircut joke had undergone radiation treatment for stage 4 brain cancer.

“There are no jokes anymore,” Mr. Conover said. “It’s just complete anger and rage.”

Steve McGrew nearly fell victim to the rage this year. The stand-up had always avoided politics in his act. But in March, he released a song parody mocking the left’s reaction to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. The song, “Friends in Safe Spaces,” featured Mr. McGrew playing “Liberal Larry,” a caricature of leftist stereotypes.

Released on social media, the song became a viral hit and was featured on Fox News. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Mr. McGrew is a regular performer, was flooded with calls and emails demanding his firing. Some of those calls even came from friends in the industry.

MGM refused to bow to the pressure, but two smaller comedy clubs said they didn’t want Mr. McGrew back.

“I was not prepared for the backlash,” Mr. McGrew said. “I’ve felt it before as a conservative comic, but it was not nearly as bad until Trump got elected. I’ve been called a racist, Nazi, hate monger — and people are trying to interfere with my livelihood.”

No conservative Colbert

Conservatives have longed to have their own version of Mr. Colbert break through, yet no one has emerged.

Some conservatives say Hollywood’s progressive gatekeepers would never allow such a show on the air, but others claim it wouldn’t attract viewers.

“Networks’ golden rule is to allow anything that makes money,” said Ned Rice, a conservative who has written for Mr. Kimmel, Bill Maher and others. “But the audience isn’t there to support a whole show.”

The numbers appear to support that theory.

Mr. Rice and Mr. Conover both wrote for the “The ½ Hour News Hour.” The show, which aired in 2007 on the Fox News Channel, was promoted as the conservative alternative to “The Daily Show.” It was canceled after 17 episodes amid poor ratings and brutal reviews from critics.

Seven years later, Michael Loftus launched “The Flipside,” a second attempt at a conservative “Daily Show.” It lasted three seasons but was distributed to small cable networks such as Family Entertainment Television and aired in the early mornings.

The comics say network censors forced them to tone down their conservative beliefs, limiting the targets of their comedy.

“When you have a view that is labeled as hate speech, you are afraid of getting sued,” Mr. Loftus said. “I played it safe, and it wasn’t as artistically rewarding.”

Trump-bashing, though, has been a recipe for success.

Mr. Colbert was trailing rival Jimmy Fallon (host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show”) in the ratings war for more than a year. There was talk of replacing Mr. Colbert with “The Late, Late Show” host James Corden before he went full-throttle anti-Trump. Mr. Colbert surged ahead of Mr. Fallon in the week of Mr. Trump’s inauguration and hasn’t looked back since.

Mr. Fallon, meanwhile, has never recovered from the critical scorn of his interview with Mr. Trump. He was blasted for asking softball questions and accused of “trying to normalize” Mr. Trump by mussing his hair.

“If you can do one-sided comedy and increase your audience size, then that is what is going to happen,” said Robert S. Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. “There was always a fear of limiting your audience, but that is not an issue anymore because the country is so polarized you can pick your audience.”

Playing to the platform

Dannagal Young, a communication professor at the University of Delaware, was studying the lack of conservatives in comedy when she noticed that both sides have different senses of humor. Her work suggests conservatives prefer more explicit kinds of humor, while liberals appreciate irony, the tool most used by late-night comedians.

Nonetheless, conservatives dominate on the radio and on political commentary shows such as Fox News’ evening lineup.

“There already is a conservative Stephen Colbert, and it is Sean Hannity,” Ms. Young said.

Liberal radio, meanwhile, hasn’t cut it.

Air America was launched in 2004 as a liberal talk-radio network. Plagued by low ratings and a lack of advertisers, it declared bankruptcy in 2006 and went off the air in 2010 after a second bankruptcy filing.

Mr. Rice said it’s tougher to do conservative comedy because it challenges commonly held views.

“If you do a show about Republicans being greedy, people will laugh because they believe that to be true,” he said. “But if you do a joke about how welfare has made poverty worse — which is a fact — people won’t laugh because they don’t know if it is true.”

But establishing a conservative late-night show is necessary if the movement wants to survive, Mr. Loftus said.

“If you are a kid and clicking around at night, you can’t even stumble across a conservative view by accident,” he said. “If a kid can’t find a different opinion and say, ‘I never thought of that,’ then the conservative movement is doomed.”

Mr. Benjamin, the comic who racked up cancellations after his transgender riff, had to change his business model. Now he asks fans in various cities to donate $20 for a ticket. Once the total donations for an individual city reaches $3,000, Mr. Benjamin will rent a theater in that town and perform for his supporters.

He doesn’t regret his comments, however.

“Now that the source of my income is the people I’m actually trying to entertain. I’m much happier for it,” he said.

Mr. McGrew said he now has fans who never heard of him until the outrage over his Liberal Larry character.

“As much as it was a horrible time because I lost friends and [was] attacked by people in the industry, it was a great time because I got discovered by middle America,” he said. “YouTube and social media has done more for me than a Hollywood executive ever could.”

Being a conservative in such a liberal-dominated industry has a special kind of allure, Mr. Loftus said.

“I became a comedian because I wanted to speak for the underdog, and conservatives are the underdog,” he said. “Being a conservative comedian is edgy, dangerous and kind of cool. I haven’t felt this way since I was in a punk band in high school.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

#MeToo and Innocent Men


John Hawkins has a post up on the #MeToo movement and  how it affects "normal" men:

Maybe all these people are creeps and everything is much worse than they are claiming it is. On the other hand, maybe they’re not. Maybe we’re just entering an era where a normal guy can have his life destroyed years or even decades later because an angry ex-girlfriend makes an allegation, a woman doesn’t like a man patting her on the back or because some woman changes her mind about what certainly must have seemed to him to be a consensual sexual encounter.

It’s great to root out the Harvey Weinstein and Russell Simmons types (if they’re guilty), but it’s not okay for legions of regular guys to lose their jobs and have their lives destroyed because they’re making an awkward attempt to find a girlfriend. If more of us aren’t willing to speak up, that seems to be exactly where all of this is going.

The problem with this hysterical movement is that it labels all men rapists, but that's the idea.

Women today and their enablers are seeking to control all men--believe it.  John is right,  men must speak up.  If more men and their allies speak up and fight back, maybe this will be a fad rather than a new era of political and social control of half the human experience. Don't stay silent.


UK: Empire-bashing National Archive backs down

For some, Britain's imperial past is a source of patriotic pride; for others, a stain on the national conscience.

However, while the official government archive might have been expected to have taken a neutral stance, it has withdrawn a series of displays at its headquarters and a blog post after it was criticised for "empire bashing".

The National Archives admitted it was presenting a view of Britain's colonial history without "due impartiality" after it was accused by a retired history lecturer of anti-British bias in an exhibition at its Keeper's Gallery, where it introduces visitors to historic moments covered by its 11 million records.


No Nativity Scene Allowed at the Beziers Town Hall

 Press release from the town of Beziers in France:

We reported last week on Robert Menard, the Front National mayor of the town of Beziers in the South of France. Mr. Menard had sinned against French secularism by setting up a Christmas creche at the town hall. The local prefect demanded that the mayor take it down, but he refused.

Now the prefect has taken action. Many thanks to Ava Lon for translating this press release from the town of Beziers, as posted on Twitter:

"For the first time in France, the state expels the Nativity Scene of a town hall

The Nativity Scene at the office of the mayor of Beziers is expelled from the Town Hall. The decision of the Administrative Court of Montpellier fell on Monday, December 18th. An aberrant decision against which the City of Beziers reserves the right to appeal. But is the most striking is that this court decision comes after a complaint. by the prefect of Herault"

It's no longer a question of some nasty secular associations determined to do our figurines in, as was the case in 2014 or 2016. No, this time it is the State which, alone, via its representative in Herault, has the Nativity Scene removed. It's a "first", whose symbolic -and historical- significance is absolutely stunning to us.

More staggering still, the judgment that has just been rendered. The judge hearing the application, who is supposed to rule on the "urgency", makes a basic decision on the Nativity Scene. The court considers that "the installation of such a Nativity Scene ... in a public place, is legally possible only when its character is cultural, artistic or festive" and that "the installation in question does not exhibit any particular artistic character, being comprised only of ordinary figurines." Thus, we learn that the judge is now competent to judge the presence -or absence - of the cultural aspects of an exhibition in the context of Christmas animations.

The court decision therefore requires the municipality of Beziers to remove its Nativity Scene from the hall of their Town Hall. Tomorrow, it will be moved. To continue to admire the traditional Christmas Nativity Scene of Beziers, we invite all Biterrois [residents of Beziers] on Thursday, December 21 to come to the lobby of the Hotel Dulac, 27 rue 4 September. The Nativity Scene of Beziers will be there and very visible too, from 8am to 7pm.

Bottom line, the city of Beziers will not let this rest. Because it knows it will be able to count on the 23,000 visitors who, last year alone, came to admire the Christmas Nativity Scene of Beziers. It knows it can count on these thousands of visitors of all faiths who have expressed their liking for our traditions in the five visitors' books filled with messages of support. It knows it can count on myriads of French people to fight at her side, to defend what they refuse us.

"They" are those who always want to ban everything, those who fight against our traditions. "They" are those who, in reality, neither love Beziers nor France. The novelty, chillingly, is that "they" are now the State.


A Frosty Reception to Trump's Prayer

If you thought tax reform terrified liberals, try praying about it! During Wednesday's historic votes, Donald Trump sent the Left into a full-on panic by pausing a moment in his Cabinet meeting to thank God for their pending success. Before he turned the floor over to Secretary Ben Carson, the president looked at the media in the room and told them they could stay if they wanted to. After all, he joked, "You need the prayer more than I do. I think you may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer, and they'll be honest then. Is that possible?"

Well, the media was honest all right - but only about their distress. Most liberal reporters were, if not alarmed, completely baffled by Carson's appeal. MSNBC led the parade of the perplexed, calling the display "unusual" and "striking." ThinkProgress's overreaction was almost comical. The group's Aaron Rupar described what has always been a normal expression of faith in the White House (until recently) as "creepy" and "cult-like." In some pockets of the press, the prayer overshadowed the real news itself: that Congress had passed the most meaningful tax overhaul in 30 years.

Meanwhile, Dr. Carson's appeal was hardly the stuff of controversy. He thanked God for our freedom and the opportunities we, as Americans, have been given, and continued:

We thank you for the president and for cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come after.

We're thankful for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand so that we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future. And we hope that that unity will spread even beyond party lines so that people will recognize that we have a nation worth saving. And recognize that nations divided against themselves cannot stand.

In this time of discord, distrust and dishonesty, we ask that you will give us a spirit of gratitude, compassion and common sense. And give us the wisdom to be able to guide this great nation in the future we ask in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Since the birth of our nation, we've had presidents who prayed and called the nation to prayer - including Democrats! Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 prayer was so significant that he put it on the White House's official Christmas card. "Not only did we have prayer in meetings like this," David Barton told me on Wednesday's "Washington Watch," "but by the time you get to 1815, there had been 1,400 government-issued calls to prayer for the nation, so that's not just prayer in Cabinet meetings. That's calling the whole nation to prayer."

And this isn't just a colonial times phenomenon. In case MSNBC has forgotten, David pointed out, "Just on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, we don't do anything in the House and Senate without having someone who is paid to pray open things up with prayer. So why they would think that's unusual in a Cabinet meeting is pretty much indicative of their lack of polish on everything else." Although, he went on, "I guess if your framework is based on the last eight years [under Barack Obama], then yes, it would be unusual and striking."

For almost a decade, Obama treated faith like a toxin that needed neutralizing. Christianity was his favorite target, and he spent eight years training Americans to treat religious expression like public enemy number one. Now, David points out, Donald Trump is "making it mainstream again. And this is really bothering [the media], because they're no longer the sole outlet for where people get their information. And so because of what happened today, it allows us to [hear] things that they'd just assume people not know."

In all honesty, the Left's reaction only shows its own hostility to faith. Liberals preach inclusion, but when it comes right down to it, they don't believe in any of it. Instead, they mock the White House, knowing deep down that the real battle isn't over Christmas or Cabinet prayers. The real war is over Christianity - and for the first time in a long time, they're losing.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Does Yes Ever Mean Yes?
I have always taken No to mean No -- sometimes in situations where I was later told that I was just meant to try harder.  I don't like games and don't think I missed much -- JR

Over the weekend, Jessica Bennett, gender editor of The New York Times -- yes, that's a real title -- wrote a piece titled "When Saying 'Yes' Is Easier Than Saying 'No'." She argued that in many cases, women say yes to sex but actually don't want to do so: "Sometimes 'yes' means 'no,' simply because it is easier to go through with it than explain our way out of the situation. Sometimes 'no' means 'yes,' because you actually do  want to do it, but you know you're not supposed to lest you be labeled a slut. And if you're a man, that 'no' often means 'just try harder' -- because, you know, persuasion is part of the game." Bennett continues by arguing that consent is actually societally defined, that "our idea of what we want -- of our own desire -- is linked to what we think we're supposed to want."

But Bennett offers no clear solutions to this issue. If it's true that women say yes but mean no, are men supposed to read minds? If a woman says no but a man seduces her until she says yes, is the initial no supposed to take precedence over the final yes?

Unfortunately, Bennett offers no guidance. Neither does Rebecca Reid, who wrote in Metro UK that she once participated in a threesome because she "didn't want to be rude." And Reid says that such experiences aren't uncommon: "There are hundreds of reasons why, but they all boil down to the same thing. We're nice girls. We've been raised to be nice." She adds: "sometimes being careful means having sex that you don't want, that leaves you feeling dirty and sad and a bit icky. It's not rape. It's not abuse. But it's not nice, either."

In the pages of The New Yorker, a similarly vague story went viral. Titled "Cat Person," it describes a woman named Margot who seduces a man and sends him all the signals that she wants to have sex with him but is internally divided over whether to go through with it: "she knew that her last chance of enjoying this encounter had disappeared, but that she would carry through with it until it was over." In the end, she cuts short their relationship, and he texts that she is a "Whore."

It's a painful story, to be sure. But it also raises a serious question: What exactly are men supposed to do in such scenarios? Because as a society, we're beyond suggesting that women are doing anything wrong in consenting to nonmarital sex; women are free to do what they want. But we are in the midst of a push to punish male aggressors. And if we water down consent to nothingness, how can we ever expect men to feel safe in the knowledge that a sexual encounter won't come with life-altering implications?

Perhaps the problem is expectations. All three articles articulate the complaint that women want to fulfill men's expectations. But none of them admit to another expectation, one created by the feminist movement: the expectation that women themselves must treat sex casually or fall prey to reinforcing the patriarchy. Ask a person of traditional moral standards whether the woman should have said no in all of these stories. The answer will be yes. But then that person will be regarded as a prude.

There are costs to societal expectations. Traditional mores ruled out the male expectation of sex in non-commitment scenarios. Yes, men had hopes of sex -- all men do, virtually all of the time. But men had no expectation that such hopes would be achieved absent serious commitment. Thanks to our consent-only society, however, in which sexual activity is a throwaway and any notion of cherishing it is scoffed at as patriarchal, men have developed expectations that too many women feel they must meet -- and men have taken up the feminist standard that consent is a goal to be achieved. The cost to such a system is borne almost entirely by women.

The healthiest system of sexual interaction is a system in which most women can be sure enough of themselves most of the time to feel decent after saying yes. That system no longer exists, thanks to the disconnect between commitment and sex. And the continuing disconnect between consent and expectation will continue to burden women in heavier and heavier ways.


Another victim of the  British rape frenzy

Any feminists care to defend what's starting to look like an epidemic of rigged rape trials? Who would have thought when you inject an ideological demand to see more rape convictions into the justice system, that it would lead to injustice?

If a Southwark Crown Court jury had decided differently this week, Samuel Armstrong would now be spending Christmas in a prison cell.

The 24-year-old former chief of staff to the Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has spent seven days on trial accused of raping a female worker at the Houses of Parliament. On Thursday, he was unanimously cleared on all charges.

Instead he will be with his parents and two younger brothers at their home in Danbury, Essex. They will visit church in the morning and enjoy a traditional lunch of famous Kelly Bronze turkey, which are farmed nearby.

But even as he describes the classic family Christmas, the pale young suited man slumped in a chair opposite me betrays little trace of the joys of freedom.

"This is not a cause for celebration but simple relief," he says. "My life has been turned upside down. I haven't slept or eaten for a year. And I was innocent."


A politically correct hunger for rape convictions in Britain at last under scrutiny

Scotland Yard has announced a review of all current rape and sex abuse investigations after a second trial collapsed in less than a week amid claims that police withheld crucial evidence.

Isaac Itiary, 25, had been charged with the rape of a child, but the case was thrown out on Tuesday after concerns were raised over the failure of detectives to disclose vital material to prosecutors and the defence.

Just days ago, 22-year-old Liam Allan had his case thrown out when it emerged police had failed to disclose thousands of text messages that would have proved his innocence.

It has since emerged that it was the same Scotland Yard detective who had worked on both cases. Detective Constable Mark Azariah, 37, who works on the Met's specialist rape and sex abuse unit, is still on full active duty.

But the collapse of two cases in similar circumstances in a matter of days has prompted senior officers to launch a review of every live rape case currently being investigated by the force.

There are warnings that police are making basic errors in their desperation to improve conviction rates in sex abuse cases. Currently 11.2 per cent of rape allegations result in a conviction.

Nigel Evans, the Tory MP who was himself cleared of rape after a controversial investigation and prosecution, accused the police of making basic -errors.

He said: "There has been an absolute systemic failure in the disclosure of evidence that might result in people not being charged ... it is putting people through a mental torture, it is a colossal admission of failure. "They [police and prosecutors] need to change practice and ensure full disclosure is given at the earliest possible moment.

"I have a suspicion there is a desire to ensure that the number of convictions increases."

Angela Rafferty QC, the chair of the Criminal Bar Association, suggested "unconscious bias" stops the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) "impartially and thoroughly investigating and scrutinising complaints in sexual offence cases?".

She added: "It should be remembered that it is not the job of the police or CPS to judge the truthfulness or otherwise of any allegation made."

David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, said police and prosecutors should not be chasing targets in sex abuse investigations but should ask themselves if the evidence is sufficient.

He expressed sympathy with the view that rape suspects should be granted anonymity until conviction, but said naming suspects upon charge, as is currently the case, often prompted more victims to come forward.

The Metropolitan Police review, announced late on Tuesday evening, will involve all rape cases currently being investigated by its specialist sex abuse unit.

It is thought scores of investigations could now be in jeopardy amid concern that police have failed to follow proper procedures.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "As a precaution, every live case being investigated by the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences [Caso] command, where the Met is in discussion with the CPS, is being reviewed to ensure all digital evidence has been properly examined, documented and shared with the CPS to meet obligations under disclosure."

Isaac Itiary was charged with the rape of a child under 16 in July and was due to stand trial next year.

He had reportedly spent four months in prison awaiting trial as he was considered to be a risk to the public.

But at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, the CPS offered no evidence after issues arose regarding the full disclosure of material.

A Met spokesman said: "In response to the defence case statement received by the officer in the case on Dec 15, all material was reviewed to identify any further relevant information likely to assist their case.

"This resulted in the identification of relevant material which was passed to the CPS to disclose.

"Given the time elapsed between the charging decision and receipt of the defence case statement, the Metropolitan Police Service will carry out a review of this investigation to ensure that all reasonable lines of inquiry were pursued at the earliest practical opportunity."

Liam Allan, a criminology student, had been three days into his trial when it emerged police had failed to disclose a vast amount of crucial information.

He had been accused of six rapes and six sexual assaults, spending almost two years on bail.

Among the text messages that were not passed to the defence, was one from the alleged victim that stated: "It was not against my will."

Mr Allan, who endured a two-year ordeal, has now threatened to sue the police and CPS, accusing them of chasing rape convictions "like sales targets".

Mr Lidington said: "The police and CPS need to look rigorously and ask themselves honestly ... whether the evidence is sufficient."


Detective Mark Azariah removed from duty after two rape trials collapse in a week

A Metropolitan Police officer involved in two collapsed rape cases was removed from active duty last night. Detective Constable Mark Azariah was stood down as a "precaution" while the force reviews all open sex abuse cases, prioritising roughly 30 alleged rapes about to go to trial.

Two cases collapsed in one week after failure to disclose material that assisted the defence. Jeremy Wright, QC, the attorney-general, described them as "appalling failures". Mr Wright is conducting a review and Theresa May told the Commons: "It is important that we look at this again so we make sure we are truly providing justice."

The Times understands that at least two other police officers were involved in the disclosure process in the case of Isaac Itiary, 25.


Ho! Ho! What?!? Children's Book Depicts Santa as Gay, Black Man
Mrs. Claus is now a mister in a new gay-themed Christmas storybook for children that has CNN and the rest of the mainstream media all aflutter.

"Santa's Husband" tells the story of a black Kris Kringle and his white husband living in holy matrimony at the North Pole.

I don't mean to curdle your eggnog, but the storybook was written for children as young as four years old.

Yes, good readers. Now you can tuck in your preschoolers on Christmas Eve and regale them with tales of Frosty and the Sugar Plum Fairy and a jolly old gay elf who slides down chimneys and stuffs holiday stockings.

"As this charming book reminds us, Santa Claus can come in all shapes and colors and sizes - just like the children and families he visits all over the world each Christmas Eve," read a description of the book on

Author Daniel Kibblesmith, a writer for "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," told CNN he was inspired to write the book to over the so-called "war on Christmas" - "pretending that there's a giant war on Christmas, and that traditional Christmas is under attack."

Mr. Kibblesmith also took exception with the generally held belief that Santa Claus is a white guy.

"We were reading all of the news about Mall of America hiring a black Santa Claus last year and me and my now wife made a joke on Twitter that if we ever had a child they would only know about black Santa Claus and if they saw a white Santa Claus at the mall we would just explain `Well, that's his husband,'" he told CNN.

Mr. Kibblesmith's politically correct version of Santa Claus is all the rage among mainstream media types - pretty much the same crowd that celebrates depictions of Jesus as a gay man.

The book is "as true and humble a Christmas tale as any Santa enthusiast could want," declared Chicago Tribune writer Rex Huppke.

"And that is the beauty of this holiday tale," he wrote. "The fact that Santa Claus is black and gay has little bearing on the story. What it's really about is accepting that every family sees Christmas in a different way." heralded the book as "war on Christmas trolling at its finest."

"The all-ages book about a black, gay Santa takes on the Yuletide zealots with a warm smile," one headline screamed.

"In a lot of ways, it was just a reaction to people who wanted to police Christmas and keep it all to themselves, without acknowledging the reality of how diverse the country is, and how diverse our traditions have become-not just with people from different religions, but just with pop culture becoming one of the driving forces behind it," Mr. Kibblesmith told Esquire.

Mr. Kibblesmith does not offer any advice for parents on how to address questions that might arise from curious youngsters. Like, for example, why does Mrs. Claus have a beard?

Well, I suppose it could've been worse. Santa could've been married to a gender fluid, androgynous elf or a non-binary reindeer with a red nose.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here