Obama embraces the Bush legacy

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Though the headlines from the President's speech mostly focused on his promise to end all U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010 -- and withdraw U.S. forces fully by the end of the following year -- there was considerably more to it than that. For starters, Mr. Obama again acknowledged that our forces in Iraq had "succeeded beyond any expectation," not least his own.

Mr. Obama was also rightly generous in his praise of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, "two of our finest generals." All three men were Bush appointees, and all were instrumental in devising, advocating and implementing the surge strategy that Mr. Bush pursued amid the derision of his critics, including then-Senator Obama.

President Obama also recognized that Iraqis themselves have made significant political progress, and that "there is renewed cause for hope in Iraq." That's a far cry from his message of last July, when he told reporters, after visiting Iraq, that "So far, I think we have not seen the kind of political reconciliation that's going to bring about long-term stability in Iraq."

But more important than Mr. Obama's implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate (and the implicit vindication of Mr. Bush's position, to say nothing of John McCain's) is his decision to maintain a sizable U.S. military presence in Iraq -- in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 troops -- past the August 2010 "withdrawal" date. That "transitional force" is roughly the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea through the Cold War. And its mission, involving training of Iraqi forces, U.S. force protection and "targeted counterterrorism missions," largely describes what the U.S. is already doing in Iraq.

Most of Iraq's provinces are under full Iraqi security control, and U.S. forces will be out of all Iraqi cities and towns by this July, as stipulated in the Status of Forces Agreement that the Bush Administration concluded with the Iraqi government last year. By making it clear a sizable U.S. force will remain in Iraq, Mr. Obama is showing a commitment to Iraq's continued democratic progress and should help deter a revival of ethnic tensions. He's also making clear the strategic advantage of having a stable U.S. ally in the heart of the Persian Gulf.

More here

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Neo-Marxist English teachers trying to downgrade literature in national curriculum

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The old nonsense about the back of the cornflakes packet being just as important as Shakespeare. Literature introduces kids to diversity in thinking and we can't have that, apparently. And they are still resisting phonics! Too bad if lots of kids never learn to read, apparently.

In their own education, English teachers have had "Theory" drummed into them and they have still not unlearned that -- even though the chief protagonists of "Theory" have now abandoned it.


English teachers are seeking to downgrade the importance of literature in the national curriculum to allow the study of an expanded range of texts covering visual and multimodal forms "as essential works in their own right". The professional association purporting to represent the view of the nation's English teachers also calls for the national curriculum to recognise a whole-language method for teaching reading rather than exclusively emphasising phonics and the letter-sound relationships as the initial step.

In its submission to the National Curriculum Board's framing paper on the English curriculum, the Australian Association for the Teaching of English declares studying literature is "inherently a political action" in creating the type of people society values. The submission disputes the National Curriculum Board's definition of school English as the three elements of language, literature and literacy. "Meaning-making in, and through, language, across a range of forms, media and expressions, should be the core organiser of the curriculum," it says. "There is a need to state (that) English is the study of language, its central focus being the different processes through which meaning is made and received through different textual expressions - literary and otherwise."





It calls for the end of traditional literature as a discrete element, and for other types of English texts - which would include advertising, TV shows, signage, text messages and websites - to be viewed as essential rather than "add ons" to accompany the understanding of literary texts. "The place and role of non-literary texts in a national English curriculum needs to be rethought in terms that do not see the value of such texts as being predominantly in their potential to enhance the study of literature," it says. "The expansion of the range of texts used in English ... will necessarily mean a significant reconfiguration of the subject, including a relative reduction in the number of literary works, as the term is traditionally conceived, studied."

The AATE challenges the curriculum's view that studying literature is "a form of arts-related and arts-enriched learning experience" related to aesthetic value, saying it is only "true to a point". Rather, studying literature is "inherently a political action in that it is also about 'nation' building through the dissemination of a 'national' culture". "Studying literature also has historically had an ethical function, contributing to the shaping of a certain sort of person that societies have found desirable," it says. "It is difficult to imagine, for example, that the enduring value of works such as Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird, both widely taught in schools, rests on their aesthetic qualities."

The English framing document for the national curriculum released in October is unequivocal in mandating the explicit teaching of the basic structures ofthe English language from grammar, spelling and punctuation to phonics in the first years of school. "Explicit teaching of decoding, spelling and other aspects of the basic codes of written English will be an important and routine aspect," the curriculum says.

But the AATE submission says the emphasis on phonics "comes at the expense of the focus on a balanced reading program", which is the term now applied to whole language methods of teaching reading. It calls for explicit reference to be made to "all three cueing systems" used to make sense of the written word. Under the Three Cueing Systems model for teaching reading, the sounding of letters is the least important skill, with children first asked to use semantics, and guess the word based on the context including using pictures and then use the sentence syntax to work out the meaning.

Then children use the syntax or where the word sits in the sentence to try to work out the meaning. The third and least important cue under this model is sounding out the letters. In a separate submission, the English Teachers Association of NSW argues the national curriculum threatens to "deprofessionalise" English teachers for limiting its aims to developing literacy skills and knowledge about literature.

The ETA argues for the definition of school English to be expanded to include cultural studies, critical literacy (a sociological model analysing gender, race and class in literature to expose inherent prejudices and agendas) and personal growth of students.

SOURCE

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Commenting is down, sorry folks.

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Update - Working..... for now..

To Hamas and its leftist lackeys

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You know how leftist trash merrily burn American flags and deface them as a sign of their undying patriotism and love of the western world. Well, apparently over in a San Francisco university, some Republican college students got together and did the nasty on a Hamas flag. Someone stepped on it, some may even have thrown their shoes at the 'precious' flag, etc.

Not surprisingly [because we all know how much leftists love terrorists], the university leftists are most upset over this horrendous travesty. Heavens above, they desecrated a Hamas flag, a Hamas flag!
SFSU College Republicans [Hat tip Letters to a Dying Dream] - An anonymous source from inside the Palestinian Club and the Socialist club at SFSU has provided the College Republicans with the following information:

In response to the College Republican's anti-Hamas event (video below) held on Wednesday the "offended parties" have banded together to push the school to punish the College Republicans for throwing shoes at the Hamas Flag. Over the next few days the coalition will release a statement making the following demands:

-Authorities must drop all charges pending against Muhammad Abdullah and Jeremy Stern, the two protestors that assaulted the College Republicans and stole their property.
-The school must sanction/punish the College Republicans for throwing shoes at the Hamas flag.
-The groups must organize a forum to "educate" students about what forms of speech are not acceptable according to the offended parties, specifically the always ambiguous "hate speech."
Perhaps someone out there can provide some proof of these leftist scumbags reacting with the same outrage and passion when some other bunch of scumbags decided to burn an American flag, or is their outrage and rush-to-defend only reserved for terrorist scum?

Anyway my hat goes off to those College Republicans, good on ya, I stand with you and offer the following to all the terrorist-Hamas loving lefties out there.

hamas_flag2flickr_soles

Choke on it.

More on the instinctive nature of morality

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The origins of morality lie in the disgust that makes us avoid rotting food and other health hazards, according to research that explains why injustice is said to leave a bad taste in the mouth. Scientists have discovered that the feeling of being cheated evokes the same revulsion response as foul-tasting food and drink. The involuntary emotional reaction that keeps us away from sources of infection also prompts us to uphold moral standards and to shun those who do not.

The findings, from a team of psychologists in Canada, suggest that disgust was important to the evolution of morality, and that our sense of what is ethical is based not only on reasoning but powerful gut reactions as well. "Morality is often pointed to as the pinnacle of human evolution and development," said Hanah Chapman, of the University of Toronto. "However, disgust is an ancient, rather primitive emotion which played a key evolutionary role in survival. Our research shows the involvement of disgust in morality, suggesting that moral judgment may depend as much on simple emotional processes as complex thought."

Her colleague Adam Anderson said: "These results shed new light on the origins of morality, suggesting that not only do complex thoughts guide our moral compass, but also more primitive instincts related to avoiding potential toxins. Surprisingly, our sophisticated moral sense of what is right and wrong may develop from a newborn's innate preference for what tastes good and bad."

Disgust is a universal emotion that is thought to have evolved to promote survival. The things that we find revolting, such as rotting food, faeces, corpses and open wounds, are potent sources of germs, and the sense of abhorrence that they invoke helps to ensure that we stay away from them. The emotion is caused by similar triggers across different human societies, pointing to deep evolutionary roots. There is also a universal facial expression attached to disgust, involving a curl of the lip, a wrinkled nose and lowered eyebrows, which is recognised around the world. The study shows that the same expression is activated when people are treated unfairly, indicating that both physical and moral disgust have the same root.

The results, published in the journal Science, suggest that the powerful emotion of disgust was co-opted to drive morality, as systems of ethical standards became advantageous to human societies. A disgust response is a powerful incentive to avoid behaviour that might induce it and people who make you feel revulsion. This would have promoted fair and co-operative behaviour by making people disgusted with themselves when they transgress and by imposing a social cost on those who break moral rules. "Unfair offers may be received like a plate of spoilt food," the researchers wrote. "This turning away or rejection of unfair actions may also extend to later avoidance of transgressors."

In the study, the scientists measured movement of the facial muscles in subjects playing a game in which they were asked to accept or reject when offered shares of a sum of money. Low offers elicited an expression of disgust similar to that caused by a bad taste. The results suggest that both types of disgust stem from the same neural systems and evolutionary roots, and that moral disgust grew out of the original health-related emotion.

SOURCE

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Good riddance to worthless trash

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Telegraph.co.uk [Hat tip reader Dave K.] - A Spanish mother has taken revenge on the man who raped her 13-year-old daughter at knifepoint by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. He died of his injuries in hospital on Friday. Antonio Cosme Velasco Soriano, 69, had been sent to jail for nine years in 1998, but was let out on a three-day pass and returned to his home town of Benej├║zar, 30 miles south of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca.

While there, he passed his victim's mother in the street and allegedly taunted her about the attack. He is said to have called out "How's your daughter?", before heading into a crowded bar. Shortly after, the woman walked into the bar, poured a bottle of petrol over Soriano and lit a match. She watched as the flames engulfed him, before walking out.

The woman fled to Alicante, where she was arrested the same evening. When she appeared in court the next day in the town of Orihuela, she was cheered and clapped by a crowd, who shouted "Bravo!" and "Well done!"

Well done indeed, give that woman a medal.

Why do so many people hate Gail Trimble?

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Britain has a TV quiz show called "University Challenge", in which teams from various universities compete against each other to answer some very obscure questions. The team from Oxford's Corpus Christi college has just won. They won because one member of their team, Gail Trimble, seemed to know just about everything. As a much-published academic, I think I have some claim to being bright and knowing a lot but I would not have been able to answer a single one of the questions that Miss Trimble answered even before the question was finished.

Knowledge and intelligence are not the same but her prodigious knowledge is a byproduct of stratospheric IQ. She was reading at age one. And early language mastery is one of the best indices of IQ. Confirming the disjunction between knowledge and IQ, however, Miss Trimble failed utterly at answering "Pub Quiz" questions about film stars, TV shows and the like. She knows as little about popular entertainment as she knows a lot about academic things.

Since it is high IQ people who are responsible for the many scientific and technical advancements that have made our lives so much easier than the "nasty, brutish and short" lives of our ancestors, one would think that high IQ people would always be celebrated and admired. And they do often get recognition of various sorts, the Swedish (as distinct from the Norwegian) Nobel prizes, for instance. But I guess it will be no surprise that high IQ people also attract dislike and hatred. Envy is a very common human trait and it is not only higher incomes that are envied but many other things as well. And Miss Trimble has certainly attracted lots of dislike and abuse as a result of her abilities. See the insert below.





And that ties in with politics. The nonsensical and incoherent claim that underlies so much Leftist discourse is "all men are equal". And that is the envier's gospel. It makes not a scrap of sense and shows no contact with reality but it is something that enviers resort to as a way of soothing their envious feelings. They deny the very differences that give them so much heartburn. "Denial" was long ago indentified by Freud as a maladaptive psychological defence mechanism and "All men are equal" is a prize example of that. Whatever one thinks of his theories, Freud was undoubtedly an acute observer of people and very few psychologists today would doubt the maladaptive nature of denial as described by Freud.

So Gail Trimble by her very existence offends Leftists. Her existence pushes down their throats the falsity of their central dogma. Reality is SUCH a problem for Leftists! And because their central dogma is not rational, they can only respond to inconvenient reality by hatred and abuse. Conservative bloggers know from their email and the comments that they get on their blogs how most Leftists respond to any presentation of facts that are inconvenient to them. A rational comment backed up by facts is very rare. It is almost all assertion and abuse. If you are very lucky you may get selective attention to the facts but that is all.

Envy has always been with us and the envier's gospel has therefore had many outings throughout history. One thinks of the "Levellers" of Cromwell's day, for instance. And it also appears in the American Declaration of Independence, of course. There were enviers among the American revolutionaries too. But the declaration was of course a compromise document and Jefferson inserted into the envier's creed the word "created" ("all men are created equal"), which removed it from everyday reality and made it clear that the dogma was a matter of faith, not fact.

I think it must be because of that one word "created" in the Declaration that some Christians claim that God suffers from poor sight. They say "all men are equal in the sight of God". As the Leftist FDR said in his January 6, 1942 State of the Union address: "We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God."

That is, however, very poor theology. The Bible makes it clear that God treats saints and sinners very differently. Homosexuals are accursed and condemned to death, for instance (Romans chapter 1). All men are NOT equal in God's eyes. I have seen Galatians 3:28 quoted in support of the equality myth but that text quite clearly refers to committed Christians, not to all men.

More about the brilliant Miss Trimble here and here

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

The best thing about being blind

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Jay Nordlinger, The Free Library - Capt. Ivan Castro will tell you he’s an ordinary man, basically. You may wish to disagree. He is an officer in the U.S. Special Forces, and blind. He was blinded while fighting in Iraq about two and a half years ago. He did not then leave the military. He persevered, to an astonishing degree. He has attracted interest all over the country, as well he might.

He was born in Hoboken, N.J. (same as Frank Sinatra), in 1967. His parents were from Puerto Rico. His dad was a cook and other things, and his mother was a factory worker and other things. How he got that interesting name, “Ivan Castro,” he doesn’t know. His sister’s name is Olga! The family moved to Puerto Rico when he was twelve.

He wanted to be a policeman, a fireman, a soldier — “something with action,” as he says. He went to a military high school, and joined the Army when he was 20. He expected to stay for four years. He fought in the Gulf War — and continued in the military. “I had done so much in those four years,” he says, “it just didn’t make any sense for me to get out.”

After the Gulf War, he was in Bosnia, Colombia, and other places. And then he was back in combat, this time in Afghanistan. He was a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne. In due course, he was in Iraq. It was in September 2006 that the mortar blast came. His injuries were extensive: his right eye gone, his left eye beyond repair, his lungs collapsed, etc. There is a long list of injuries and problems. “Believe it or not,” he says, “we keep discovering things that are coming up — injuries we weren’t aware of.”

I have come to see him in his office at Fort Bragg. He is a personable, gregarious man, the kind who puts people at ease. There is also about him the air of command. He’s the kind of soldier about whom people say, “Officer material.” A white cane leans against the wall. On another wall is a picture of Captain Castro and his wife with President Bush. There is also a letter from Bush.

And Captain Castro has a specially equipped computer — one that reads him his e-mail, for example. He’ll tell you, “I used to hunt and peck. But when you’re blind, you can’t do that. So I had to learn to type.”

When that mortar round went off, “I was fighting to stay alive, fighting not to give up. That’s all I remember. I knew I didn’t want to die. I knew I wanted to come back to my wife and son.” He was unconscious for six weeks. Then he woke up and began his recovery. His wife and mother-in-law never left his bedside.

After his surgeries and rehabilitation, the 82nd was “going to send me to the Warrior Transition Battalion” — that would ease the transition out of the military and into some other kind of life. He would begin life as a disabled vet. “But that was not my intent. My intent was to stay in the Army, to continue my service. I had been doing it for more than 18 years. Why should I give it up now?” (Others might have thought of reasons.)

He told Special Operations that “I wanted to serve as long as they gave me the opportunity, and I wanted to be productive. I didn’t want to be sitting down licking envelopes and shredding paper.” They agreed. His group commander said, “I’m going to treat you like everyone else, like every other captain here. And I’m going to expect a lot out of you” — which is what this captain wanted.

Why did he not simply give up, and slink away? “My mother, my dad: They were really hard workers. My mother was a survivor. They divorced when I was five, and she worked really hard for everything she had — and she taught me to work hard as well.” Castro worked a lot as a kid, and “I was the man of the house. When something broke, I had to fix it. Had to figure it out.” His military training made him tough, too: Ranger School, the Special Forces Qualification Course. Those are not cakewalks.

Also, he feels he has an example to set: for his peers, for the soldiers who were under his command. About those soldiers, he says, “They kind of look up to me. I can’t let them down.” There is the public to consider, too: “When I don my beret, and go out with my cane, people stop and stare.” He can feel it. And “if you’re a Special Forces Ranger, everyone expects more from you. You’re never cold, you’re never hungry, you’re never tired.”

Plus, “I got a son who’s 15. I got bills to pay. I’m a husband. Just because I’m blind or injured doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay my mortgage or stuff like that.” His wife, Evelyn, was a speech pathologist in a public-school system. Now she works with injured service members in an Army hospital. Castro describes her as his hero. For one thing, “she never expected to be married to a blind guy.”

He also has laudatory words for military doctors and nurses: “We think about the soldiers that get hurt, and we don’t think of the doctors and nurses who every day have to see the trauma and suffering that service members go through. It’s tough on them. I’m pretty sure they have some post-traumatic stress as well.”

Last year, Ivan Castro ran five marathons. (Best time: 4 hours, 11 minutes. He hopes to break the four-hour barrier this year.) He also did a triathlon. And climbed Grays Peak in Colorado (14,270 ft.). He lives life with gusto, whether running a marathon or visiting a museum: “I went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton. I didn’t see it with my eyes, but they let me put my hands on the aircraft. Incredible.” At Fort Bragg, he oversees the Spanish-language lab and carries out various administrative and logistical tasks, “making sure that soldiers are ready to deploy.”

He wanted to command an A-team, but “that wasn’t meant to be, so maybe, by taking this job here, I can clear somebody from having to do this job,” and let such a person “do the things that I wanted to do: go out and lead.” (Have you heard anything nobler than that lately?) “Right now, my main focus is what I can do to help other service members, and anyone else. It’s not about Ivan.”

He speaks before groups all over the country: various associations and organizations. He does a lot of teaching, too, particularly of those who face severe challenges, physical and mental. And he wants to accept no limitations. “If someone tells me I can’t do something, I have to keep myself from punching him in the nose. Instead of saying that I can’t do something, let’s figure out a way for me to do it.”

And how are his spirits? “I’m not going to lie to you: We all have our good times and bad times. I’m just like anyone else.” When the doctors told him he would never see again, “I was extremely, extremely bitter. I was at the point where I asked the Lord above, ‘Why me?’ I was bitter with the Lord, angry with the Lord.”

One day, “my wife came in and told me, ‘Ivan, if you could only see the hospital ward: You just don’t know how fortunate we are.’ It’s sad to say, but other service members have had to make a huge sacrifice. I have to be grateful for what I have, instead of dwelling on what I don’t have. I miss not seeing, I’m not going to lie to you. But I have two legs, two arms, I can talk, I can eat, I can laugh. I have my memory.”

Further, “I’m a military guy, and I speak in military terms: God has a mission for me. A plan, an operation.”

Castro has what he calls his “demons in the darkness,” or “demons in the closet.” And “the closet is my brain. I don’t see anything. I’m totally blind. I have no light perception. And when the demons want to take over, as soon as they try to, I try to keep them out. I think about all the things I’m grateful for: my wife, my son, the Lord above, His mission for me.” There are days “when I walk into the wall, both literally and figuratively. I try to take a step back and not get angry and figure out a way to go around things.”

And “you know the best thing about being blind?” (I couldn’t imagine what the answer would be.) “I saw for 39 years. So I was able to see the world for 39 years. I’ve traveled around the world. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good thing about now is: Everything is beautiful, in my mind. The grass is always green. There’s never graffiti on the walls. There’s no trash. Everybody looks good — everybody’s in shape, everybody’s a movie star or rock star.” And race is out the window: “There’s no brown, white, or black.”

A visit with Ivan Castro will teach you, or remind you, not to complain. It will remind you what a free people owes its warriors. And it will remind you to be in awe of those who do the awe-inspiring.

Three brief notes

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ZEG

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is upset that thousands more Australian jobs have been lost and production moved to China






A great French ship visits Sydney



The Queen Mary 2 was built in the Alstom Chantiers de L'Atlantique shipyard in Sainte-Nazaire, France.

Details of the visit here






Australian economy unexpectedly strong

Thanks to business

Economists say the Australian economy may have escaped a quarter of negative growth after figures showed a surge in capital expenditure to almost $25 billion. Most economists had been expecting spending on buildings and equipment to fall in the December quarter, but today's official figures show a 6 per cent increase compared to the previous three months. It comes after figures yesterday revealed a stronger-than forecast performance in the construction sector.

CommSec had been forecasting that economic growth was flat in the quarter. But CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says it is now predicting the economy expanded by 0.5 per cent. "There's no doubt that the global economy remains on its knees, but what we're really seeing is that the business sector's really driving growth in Australia," he said. "Rather than making any knee-jerk responses and cutting spending, it's the business sector that is actually increasing investment plans."

SOURCE

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

America's Taxpayer-fed fat cats

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Last year, crippling pension and benefits costs caused the city of Vallejo, California to declare bankruptcy. In this year of compounded economic crisis, more towns and cities may follow Vallejo's lead, pushed over the edge by an accounting and financial-reporting provision known as GASB (pronounced "gaz-bee") 45. "It's a perfect storm of pension liabilities hitting us at a time when the economy is tanking and revenues are tanking," says David Edwards, the senior policy advisor to Atlanta's mayor. "It's unprecedented."

Localities that have already complied with GASB 45 have had to disclose the compromising long-term costs of lifetime health care and other retiree benefits. In New York City, which began compliance in 2007, the accounting measure has placed a new $63 billion liability on the books. Atlanta's pension- and benefit-related expenses exploded from $44.5 million in 2005 to $118 million today, even while the city cut its personnel headcount by 8.6 percent. In Vallejo's case, the city's declaration of bankruptcy last May was due to the fact that it was spending 74 percent of its $80 million general-fund budget on public-sector salaries and benefits. Police captains were entitled to receive $306,000 annually in pay and benefits, while 21 firefighters earned more than $200,000 a year, including overtime. After five years on the job, all were entitled to lifetime health benefits.

The culprit, of course, isn't GASB 45 itself but the ugly reality that it exposes. There are 22.5 million public-sector employees in the United States. The average state and local government employee now makes 46 percent more in combined salary and benefits than his private-sector counterpart does, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute-including 128 percent more on health care and 162 percent more on retirement benefits. Four out of five public-sector workers have lifetime pensions. Paying for such lavish treatment is difficult; in 2007, Credit Suisse estimated that state and local governments owed more than $1.5 trillion in unfunded health-care and non-pension benefits. Further, the market meltdown has erased $1 trillion from municipal pension funds, according to Boston College's Center for Retirement Research.

New York City now spends an average of $107,000 for each of its 281,000 current employees-a whopping 63 percent increase since 2000. At the same time, its direct pension expenses each year have increased from $615 million to $5.6 billion. And New York isn't alone. Forty states estimate that their liabilities for public-sector health-care and other benefits exceed $400 billion-more than their entire public debt, according to Standard and Poor's. New Jersey has dug a particularly deep hole for itself. Its state pension fund lost half its value in 2008 but pays out $5.2 billion each year in benefits. "The state of New Jersey is insolvent," writes bond analyst Mike Shedlock. "Bankrupt might be a better word."

More here

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Must not mention black child neglect on TV

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Reports of chronic failure by Australian Aborigines to look after their children are legion but you have to be "sensitive" about mentioning it, apparently. Background to the story is that the Australian government gives thousands of dollars to anyone who has a baby in Australia (the "baby bonus"). But do-gooders complain that many poorer parents spend the money "unwisely" on liquor, gambling, etc. That people might be entitled to spend their own money in their own way is not considered, apparently.

"A NINE Network news broadcast last year had racist overtones towards Aboriginal people in a news story, the media watchdog has found. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says the news story, which dealt with changes to the baby bonus for parents with gambling and addiction problems, "gave undue emphasis to race in a number of ways".

ACMA investigated the segment, broadcast on March 19, 2008, after receiving a complaint that it exhibited racist overtones by using the term "deadbeat parents" directly followed by footage of Aboriginal communities.

The watchdog found that in giving undue emphasis to race Nine breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. The racist overtones included "using words conveying that Aboriginal people have drinking and gambling problems and treating Aboriginal people in the footage less sensitively than other parents featured in the item".

There was no public-interest justification for the emphasis when discussing problems affecting Australian parents generally, the ACMA said.

Nine said the report was limited to a factual overview of the scheme together with an account of a new payment method similar to that operating in Aboriginal communities.

Source

That Australian Aborigines (like American Indians) have HUGE alcohol problems is the simple truth, and a truth well-known to anybody who has the slightest knowledge of Aborigines. But there seem to be some invisible limits on when and where you can mention that.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Wake up Australia, before its too late

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News.com.au - DISCRIMINATION against dominant white males will soon be encouraged in a bid to boost the status of women, the disabled and cultural and religious minorities. Such positive discrimination -- treating people differently in order to obtain equality for marginalised groups - is set to be legalised under planned changes to the Equal Opportunity Act foreshadowed last week by state Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

......Equal Opportunity Commission CEO Dr Helen Szoke said males had "been the big success story in business and goods and services". "Clearly, they will have their position changed because they will be competing in a different way with these people who have been traditionally marginalised," she said.

"Let's open it up so everyone can have a fair go."
This really pisses me off. What a bunch of worthless, loathsome vermin this Equal Opportunity Commission is. First off, I guess the irony of bleating about 'Equal' is lost on these leftist scumbags, where's the equal opportunity for white males huh?

This is state-endorsed racism, plain and simple folks. Back in the day, they would have been bleating about discrimination against people because of the color of their skin. But now these leftards are pushing the very thing they are supposed to be against.

And what about the last bit, everyone can have a fair go? Either the woman is too stupid to even know what she is saying or is just plain dishonest, which wouldn't surprise me in the least. A more accurate statement should be, everyone BUT WHITE MALES can have a fair go in Australia. If they even had a skerrick of honesty, shame or integrity, this commission would rename itself to, Equal Opportunity [for all but white males] Commission.

Wake up Australia, wake up before they take your country away from you and re-make it into one of those whitey-hating, man-hating leftist shitholes in Europe. Either you take your nation and your heritage back, or be prepared to explain to your sons that because they're born white, they're somehow nasty little bastards and therefore not deserving of a fair go.

You will have to explain to your sons that their fathers built this nation, but because they were white, they were just a bunch of bastards and so now to somehow set things right, they need to pay the price set by these here bunch of shameless, racist cowards.

There's a financial crisis on, time to act like it

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Deutsche Welle - US President Barack Obama has pledged to halve the country's federal budget deficit by the end of his four-year term in office. Speaking at the opening of a White House summit on fiscal responsibility, Obama warned that the US would face another economic crisis if it did not address its debt problems soon and with more transparency.
Excellent idea King Hussein, so good of your to look for ways to cut money. Here's one place where you can cut costs, and save lives to boot.
LifeNews - A new national campaign sponsored by the Family Research Council is targeting the taxpayer funding that goes to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion business. The group is urging state lawmakers to ditch funding saying the abortion business is flush with cash. During a difficult economic time, FRC says there is no reason for state and local governments to send public funds to an abortion business. ...... With a $1 billion budget and a $114 million operating surplus, Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs, tells Religion News Service that Planned Parenthood doesn't need the bailout.
You said you would represent all Americans, well all Americans don't quite approve of knocking off the unborn willy-willy, so how about it, give them a bit of choice as to where their hard-earned is spent. I mean it's not like you're banning abortion or something, just not forcing those who don't agree with it to pay for it. If all the pro-abortion leftists believe that planned parenthood can't survive without donations and too many babies will survive, they are more than welcome to donate money directly to them, I'm sure the abortion giant won't turn them away. I know it's not that same, but to leftists I'm sure the following should clear things up, imagine leftists' taxes being used to fund Conservative talk radio. The horror!

Moving on to transparency.
Times Online - President Obama, having campaigned on a promise to end the culture of cronyism, seems poised to appoint one of his biggest campaign fundraisers as the next American ambassador in London.
There ya go King Hussein, you talked the talk, now walk the walk too, save money and none of this jobs-for-the-boys. Put the red felt pen right through both those.

Greenfield shoots her mouth off again

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"Social websites harm children's brains". She said much the same nearly a year ago -- with a similar lack of proof. She does have a research background in brain function but she is primarily a science popularizer and can be relied on to support the wisdom of the day -- which is why she has been much honoured in various ways.

Not long ago she was selling a "brain training program" called "Mindfit" but such programs have subsequently been found to be of very questionable use and may do more harm than good. She appears unaware of the contradiction of promoting a computer-based brain training program while otherwise warning of the harm that computer use does.

She has also bad-mouthed Larry Summers for his truth telling about mathematical ability and mocks Christians. So wait for the double-blind studies of social networking websites rather than trust the mere "fears" of this attention-seeker.


Social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred. The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day. But they will strike a chord with parents and teachers who complain that many youngsters lack the ability to communicate or concentrate away from their screens. [Given the dumbed-down education they get today, that has to be expected]




More than 150million use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, share photographs and videos and post regular updates of their movements and thoughts. A further six million have signed up to Twitter, the 'micro-blogging' service that lets users circulate text messages about themselves. But while the sites are popular - and extremely profitable - a growing number of psychologists and neuroscientists believe they may be doing more harm than good. Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, believes repeated exposure could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

Computer games and fast-paced TV shows were also a factor, she said. 'We know how small babies need constant reassurance that they exist,' she told the Mail yesterday. 'My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.'

Her comments echoed those she made during a House of Lords debate earlier this month. Then she argued that exposure to computer games, instant messaging, chat rooms and social networking sites could leave a generation with poor attention spans. 'I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf,' she said.

Lady Greenfield told the Lords a teacher of 30 years had told her she had noticed a sharp decline in the ability of her pupils to understand others. 'It is hard to see how living this way on a daily basis will not result in brains, or rather minds, different from those of previous generations,' she said. She pointed out that autistic people, who usually find it hard to communicate, were particularly comfortable using computers.

'Of course, we do not know whether the current increase in autism is due more to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, or whether it can - if there is a true increase - be in any way linked to an increased prevalence among people of spending time in screen relationships. Surely it is a point worth considering,' she added.

Psychologists have also argued that digital technology is changing the way we think. They point out that students no longer need to plan essays before starting to write - thanks to word processors they can edit as they go along. Satellite navigation systems have negated the need to decipher maps.

A study by the Broadcaster Audience Research Board found teenagers now spend seven-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen.

Educational psychologist Jane Healy believes children should be kept away from computer games until they are seven. Most games only trigger the 'flight or fight' region of the brain, rather than the vital areas responsible for reasoning.

Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, said: 'We are seeing children's brain development damaged because they don't engage in the activity they have engaged in for millennia. 'I'm not against technology and computers. But before they start social networking, they need to learn to make real relationships with people.'

SOURCE


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

"Love me. I'm a liberal"

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I have often remarked how the Left side of America's politics is run by hungry egos. They crave praise and power and will do anything to get it. Basically, they all have a Stalinist hunger for there to be statues of themselves all over the place. They generally hide their real motives under a veneer of do-gooder-ism, however. They seek praise by advocating things that sound good, even if such things are ignorant and harmful in the long run and are hence avoided by more responsible politicians. The "liberal" solutions to problems are generally little better than those of their fellow Leftist in Argentina, Juan Peron. Peron's solution to rising prices was to threaten to shoot any shopkeeper who put his prices up. Since the shopkeepers had to PAY more for their goods all the time, Peron's edict simply closed most shops. Eventually, of course people see the destructive consequences of Leftist populism and turn to policies that work. It even happened in Russia and China, eventually. But even then, the Leftist loses little because people believe that "he meant well".

So it is worth taking a moment to note a case when the Leftist acknowledges his real motivations openly. And an article in "The New Republic" does just that, under the heading: "Love Me I'm A Liberal". It is written by the rather aptly-named Leon Wieseltier. The surname is German/Yiddish for "weasel animal" so that may be a hint as to why his ego needs are so pressing. I don't think I would like to identify myself as a "weasel animal" all the time. It must have pained him to have his pretentiousness often satirized in "Spy Magazine". And the reaction to frustration from the large but fragile egos of the Left is hatred. The constant outpouring of hate towards conservatives that I document from time to time on my TONGUE-TIED blog is ample evidence of that. So it is no surprise to find that even weasel's fellow centre-Leftist, Andrew Sullivan has said that 'Wieseltier is a connoisseur and cultivator of personal hatred'. A falling out between two large egos!



The essence of weasel's article in TNR is that although Democrats now hold all the political cards and will use them ruthlessly, America still is, as has often been observed, a center-Right nation. Most people do not share the values of the Left and have little respect for "liberals". Weasel overlooks that it is pretty hard to share liberal values, since they don't have any! The Left constantly tell us that "There is no such thing as right and wrong" so how could they have any values? To have a value is to say that some particular thing or policy is right! All that the Left has are postures that can be changed according to how the winds of public opinion blow. The party that once portrayed itself as the party of the worker and the little guy now hates "rednecks", for instance.

This hollow core of Leftism is often evident in their rapid turn to abuse rather than rational debate and we see that in the weasel too. He has, however, literary pretensions so we see him express his lack of real interest in actual policy in a superficially clever way. He says "The Republicans propose to bail out the economy with doctrine. Unemployment is 7.6 percent and rising, and they say: let them eat Friedman". Maybe that gets a laugh from some Leftists but it is not a serious description of anything in the real world. The central proposal of conservatives about the economic crisis is to unleash the job creators -- business -- by reducing tax and regulatory burdens on them -- but you would never know that from weasel's article.

And also in good Leftist style, weasel is not averse to lying. He says "the cause of all this misery was the market abandon that they [Republicans] promoted so messianically". Absolutely no mention there of the fact that the financial meltdown was caused by worthless mortgages -- mortgages that were forced on banks by such Democrat-sponsored laws as the "Community reinvestment act" and harassment of bank officials by such hard-Left organizations as ACORN. The fact of the matter is that "the cause of all this misery was the market suppression that they [Democrats] promoted so messianically".

So weasel ends up with a demand that Obama promote liberal policies and postures instead of being the centrist which he claimed to be in his campaign. He feebly hopes that Obama can make liberal thinking respectable -- and even "loved"! -- among the population at large. Poor old weasel! As the NYT says, his enemies (created by his own obnoxious behaviour) are legion so his last claim to be loved is that he is a liberal. How pathetic!

There is a detailed fisking of weasel here.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Brass

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Let's hear it for pure, in-your-face chutzpah.

The Sacred Sock Puppet today held a - get this! - "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" at the White House. The "community organizer" called in all kinds of wiz-kids and government wonks for a bull-session, told them to identify the problems facing America, break up into
study-groups, then get back to him THIS AFTERNOON with not only the specific problems, but the SOLUTIONS for them as well.
President Obumpersticker is promising "fiscal responsibility" - and cutting the FUTURE deficit by HALF! - THE WEEK AFTER HE SIGNED A BILL SPENDING $1.3 TRILLION WE DON'T HAVE!!!!


Of course, he's blaming it all on the Bush administration...but even THAT wasn't enough, since Congress is already preparing to send him the next budget - yeah, remember that "annual budget" thingy for all the ALREADY bloated government spending (that never gets cut) which has to be paid every year? - with a total that's over $410 billion.
And that's ON TOP of all this "stimulus" and "bail-out" spending!
...and that budget has over 9000 earmarks for over $5 BILLION IN PORK!

So the Sacred Sock Puppet stages his little PR stunt to tout "fiscal responsibility" CHANGE, the week after signing the largest "money-we-can't-even-HOPE-to-have" deficit spending bill in human history???

Gotta hand it to him, the son of a bitch has big brass ones....
If it wasn't so insulting, ya'd almost have to admire the punk.

Tasmanian health fear if climate heats up

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This would be a most amusing article if it were not so dishonest and stupid. Quite aside from the basic fact that warm weather is better for you than cold weather (a lot more people die in winter than die in summer), the article is about Tasmania, which has a cool climate. And even under pessimistic assumptions, Tasmania would warm up only to the point where its climate is like Queensland today. And, writing as I do from Queensland, I can assure you that Queensland is flourishing in every way!

TASMANIA faces an ominous and burgeoning epidemic of chronic disease in its climate change future, the State's Director of Public Health said yesterday. Dr Roscoe Taylor said the spectre of an influenza pandemic was also very real. The foreseeable risks to health worldwide had been documented, he said, but Tasmania faced its share of public health concerns brought about after events that could only be attributed to climate change.

He said the increased frequency of extreme weather would cause physical injury and psychological instability, as the population became anxious about storm, drought or extreme heat events. "With changes in Tasmania's weather patterns, we will see more severe weather events," he said. "An ageing population of people living with chronic medical conditions might not readily cope with heat stress."

Longer term, Dr Taylor said drought would threaten reliable, nutritious food sources and water supply. "There are significant threats to public health and nutrition when our natural food sources are affected with seasonal interruptions," he said.

The extreme weather would also bring social isolation and anxiety. "There will be community anxiety about the future. We have to be careful not to transfer our own fears on to our children. "We have to give them a sense that they can minimise the risks and do something about the future."

Very real evidence of climate change across Tasmania's water supply was already playing itself out, he said. "We are seeing the impact of climate change on our water supply with increased and longer algal blooms," he said. "At Ross the population has had to seek alternative water supplies because of an ongoing blue-green algae outbreak, and on King Island blooms are appearing in the water catchment dams. "There are marine coastal blooms in the Huon and Statewide they are extending and lasting longer.

"These are subtle but definite effects of climate change. "It would appear that water scarcity is likely to persist, and a range of adaptation measures will be required to ensure the viability of communities and food supplies in the longer term."

SOURCE

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here
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ZEG

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on the low standards of both Left and Right in Australian politics at the moment

Posted by John Ray.

A Nation of Cowards?

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I excerpt below an article from the NYT by a black writer in response to the much criticized speech by Attorney General Holder. The article is generally reasonable but I nonetheless add some comments at the foot of the excerpt
"Then came Attorney General Eric Holder's scathing comments about America being "a nation of cowards" because we don't have "frank" conversations about race. That got a lot of attention. I take exception to Holder's language, but not his line of reasoning. Calling people cowards is counterproductive. It turns the conversation into a confrontation - moving it beyond the breach of true dialogue and the pale of real understanding. That said, frank conversations are always welcomed. But, before we start, it might be helpful to have a better understanding of the breadth and nature of racial bias.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last month, twice as many blacks as whites thought racism was a big problem in this country, while twice as many whites as blacks thought that blacks had achieved racial equality...

What explains this wide discrepancy? One factor could be that most whites harbor a hidden racial bias that many are unaware of and don't consciously agree with. Project Implicit, a virtual laboratory maintained by Harvard, the University of Washington and the University of Virginia, has administered hundreds of thousands of online tests designed to detect hidden racial biases. In tests taken from 2000 to 2006, they found that three-quarters of whites have an implicit pro-white/anti-black bias. (Blacks showed racial biases, too, but unlike whites, they split about evenly between pro-black and pro-white. And, blacks were the most likely of all races to exhibit no bias at all.) In addition, a 2006 study by Harvard researchers published in the journal Psychological Science used these tests to show how this implicit bias is present in white children as young as 6 years old, and how it stays constant into adulthood.

So why do so many people have this anti-black bias? I called Brian Nosek, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Virginia and the director of Project Implicit, to find out. According to him, our brains automatically make associations based on our experiences and the information we receive, whether we consciously agree with those associations or not. He said that many egalitarian test-takers were shown to have an implicit anti-black bias, much to their chagrin. Professor Nosek took the test himself, and even he showed a pro-white/anti-black bias. Basically, our brains have a mind of their own.

Now that we know this, are we ready to talk? Maybe not yet. Talking frankly about race is still hard because it's confusing and uncomfortable. First, white people don't want to be labeled as prejudiced, so they work hard around blacks not to appear so. A study conducted by researchers at Tufts University and Harvard Business School and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that many whites - including those as young as 10 years old - are so worried about appearing prejudiced that they act colorblind around blacks, avoiding "talking about race, or even acknowledging racial difference," even when race is germane. Interestingly, blacks thought that whites who did this were more prejudiced than those who didn't. Second, that work is exhausting. A 2007 study by researchers at Northwestern and Princeton that was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science found that interracial interactions leave whites both "cognitively and emotionally" drained because they are trying not to be perceived as prejudiced.

More here

The major omission above is an assumption that perceived racism is due to actual racism. He omits to consider that blacks perceive prejudice against them because the Left, for their own political ends, are constantly TELLING blacks that whites are prejudiced against them and discriminate against them. Given the way whites work hard to avoid the appearance of racism, I would be inclined to say that the prejudice that blacks perceive is almost entirely a product, not of real experience but of believing what they are told.

Nonetheless the writer is certainly correct to say that negative thoughts and feelings about race ("hidden racial bias") do exist among both blacks and whites and he is also correct to say that such thoughts and feelings are the fruits of experience ("associations based on our experiences"). They are postjudice rather than prejudice. Even Jesse Jackson famously recognized that when he said: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

National pride rallies the fire survivors

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Since our ancestors rapidly transformed a wilderness into a first world country, Australians have always been quietly proud of their ability to rise to any challenge, and that traditional pride is still a source of strength. The popular song "We Are Australian" is a very compressed history of Australians and the challenges they have risen to.

How well the early British settlers built a new country after their arrival in 1788 can be gathered from a report of 1828 in "The Australian" newspaper of the day. A ship arrived from England with smallpox on board, which was immediately notified to the appropriate authorities. The ship was sent to Neutral Bay in quarantine and the Sydney population warned. Thousands of people had cowpox vaccinations as a result. After official investigations, the ship was allowed to disembark on August 5th. So Sydney was a pretty sophisticated place by that time. A "visiting English gentleman" also writing in "The Australian" around that time was surprised to find Sydney comprised of substantial brick and stone buildings instead of the mud huts and log cabins he had expected. He found it "a bustling, elegant and extensive city" with shops as good as London's but with much cleaner air. So the early settlers (many of whom were convicts) had built well in just 40 years. I personally am descended from a convict who arrived on the ship just mentioned


"We Are Australian" plays at the memorial service in Melbourne, and in Whittlesea, two Salvos stand. Slowly, uncertainly, about 300 others around them rise to their feet and start clapping. At first it is in time to the song, but soon it is applause - for themselves, for everyone.

For most of the 90-minute service, Kinglake evacuees and Whittlesea residents have listened, mostly heads down. It is respectful and expected, but they seem more bowed by the weight of thoughts. Some weep at the sight of a wreath, others at pictures of a green valley shrouded in fog, not smoke.

But a change comes near the end of the broadcast. They hold hands and smile. Behind the seating, a new mum dances with her babe in arms. The strength has come from somewhere and everywhere, from each other, Melbourne and around Australia. It is strength to go on.

From 10am, mourners at the Whittlesea service trickle in gently. One girl wears a T-shirt with the message: "Together in strength we can rebuild Victoria". Some wear wrist bands that give access to the mountain and what's left there of Kinglake. Many Kinglake residents, though, are behind roadblocks at their own service on their mount. At Whittlesea, Australian flags fly from prams and are draped over shoulders.

About 400 plastic seats are under marquees beside portable party hire cool rooms. For a fortnight life has been makeshift like that. Walker Reserve, the cricket oval, is a mass of dust and dead grass. Two Sundays earlier it was a car park for emergency vehicles and refuge from the blazes. A smoke haze still hangs over the hills and fire helicopters fly overhead.

As the many tributes end, a wiry looking bloke with a beard strokes his wife's arm. Peter Petkovski, wife Lena and boys Ricky, Paul, Tony and Mark lost their Long Gully Rd, Flowerdale, home and much more. Mrs Petkovski can't bear yet to think of returning there. She says the service was overwhelming. "This has just made me stronger," she says.

Her husband can't bear the thought of not going back. "There's too much history. A lot of my friends died there. You can't throw that away," he said after the service.

SOURCE


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Teen pregnancies - Now it's the parents fault

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Daily Mail - Parents should not tell their young teenage children that it is wrong to have sex, ministers said today. They should curb their tongues on the rights and wrongs of teenage sex for fear of discouraging youngsters from 'being open', a new campaign to involve parents in sex education said.
Heaven forbid parents were to let their own children know what they thought of teenage sex. How dare you! It's just incredible, you think you have the right to tell your 15 year-old daughter that it's not a good idea to get knocked up at 15, the nerve! Pretty soon these arrogant scumbags will turn around and tell you folks to just give up parenting, it's all too difficult for you lot. If you must have that child then once they are a year or two, just hand them over to the state, so they can be raised to be good little leftist parasites.
But while parents are warned off giving moral guidance to their children, they are encouraged to get them to use condoms and other contraception from the age of 13. Mothers and fathers should offer to go with their teenagers to their GP or a local sex advice clinic to get contraceptives, the new advice recommended.
They might come up with more and more useless ideas on curbing teen pregnancies but one thing's for sure, they'll never give up the condom. It's like a sacred object or something. Never mind setting a good example, taking responsibility and keeping your legs closed, that never worked. I'm sure that today's latte-left will make war upon the world if anything were to threaten the sacred condom.
......The effort to recruit parents to reinforce the Government's failing 'teenage pregnancy strategy' comes as ministers are braced for the release of new and damning figures on pregnancies among under-18s. They will show, as first disclosed by the Daily Mail in December, that in 2007 the teen pregnancy rate defied Government expectations by going up, not down.

Mrs Hughes and her colleagues have already tried to revamp their teen pregnancy strategy - which is based on universal sex education and wide distribution of contraception - by ordering compulsory sex education in primary schools for the first time.
And what a roaring success that has been eh. But fear not, these self-appointed social engineers have the answer, yes you guessed it, more sex-education, more and more and more sex-education. The way these miscreants are pushing sex-education, they'll soon be foisting it upon new-born babies or something. Forget learning to read and write, how to use a condom and where to get one for free [paid for by the taxpayer] is vital in these enlightened times.
The leaflets produced by Ed Balls' Children's Department said: 'Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember though, that trying to convince them of what's right and wrong may discourage them from being open.

'Try to keep the discussion light, encourage them to say what they think and reassure them that you trust them to make the right decisions.' According to the guidance leaflets, titled 'Talking to your Teenager about Sex and Relationships', 'the more they understand, the more they are likely to make the right choices when the time comes.'
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense morons, you shouldn't dare to tell them right and wrong, you judgmental bastards. Just choke your personal opinions and values down your throat, and somehow they'll make the 'right' decision, whatever the heck that's supposed to be.
......Author and researcher Patricia Morgan, who is completing a book on teenage pregnancy, said Government claims that parental sex education keeps children back from having early sex are wrong. 'All the evidence from the United States is that if parents say they disapprove of underage sex, the teenagers are less likely to do it. If parents talk about underage sex and do not disapprove of it, the children go on to do it. It is pretty basic stuff,' she said.

'Parents are not allowed to know if their child is being given contraception or getting an abortion. But they are being told to teach their children about sex in a manner dictated by the state.
Off course, as far as these social engineers are concerned, the only right parents have is to teach their children how to fornicate, that and to work so their taxes can be used to fund the sacred condom and the even more sacred, abortion.

Want your children to become successful, productive, upstanding citizens, in my opinion, keep them as far away from leftists as you can folks.

That dreaded IQ again

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I am continually amazed at people's capacity to fool themselves. And the smarter you are, the better you are at fooling yourself, it seems. Perhaps the most persistent fallacious belief is that there is such a thing as "healthy" food. Many people, particularly well-educated people, desperately want to believe that they can extend their lifespan by controlling what goes into their mouths. And what is the usual definition of "healthy" food? Low-fat food. And you cannot pick up a newspaper or magazine without seeing some comment about healthy food. Yet there is, as far as I am aware, no such thing. As you can see in the sidebar of my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog, the biggest, best and most conclusive research study of the subject found that a low-fat diet had no effect on your health whatever! But that finding was like water off a duck's back. Although the U.S. government spent $400 million on making the study the very best piece of research that could be conducted on the subject, I have yet to see a single mention of it in the popular press and middle-class people still fuss about their food as if it will do them some long-term good. It is a form of religion I guess. People just NEED to feel that they have some control over their fate.

And people's understanding of IQ also seems to be needs-driven. Just about the worst thing you can be called in the USA today is a "racist", yet IQ tests clearly show that blacks are, on average, outstandingly dumb. And their high level of dysfunctional behaviour and low level of educational and economic success is exactly what you would expect of dumb people. It is clear that the tests do not lie. Prisons are full of dumb people and huge numbers of them are black.

But what I have just said is for most people very threatening. If they accept its obvious truth, they risk being seen both by themselves and others as "racist", and that will not do at all. So there are all sorts of mental wriggles that people use to avoid accepting what I have just said. And the truth of all those wriggles has of course been extensively tested and found to be lacking. But there are whole books written on that subject (start here if you want to look into it) so I will not go into details now about it.

What started me off on that little meditation was something very simple, the strapline (subheading) given for the article excerpted below. In answer to the question "Why men are more intelligent than women", the strapline gives an answer: "They aren't". Yet that strapline does not represent the findings reported in the article at all. The article is a generally accurate summary of our current knowledge about IQ and says that women DO on average have slightly lower IQs. It then makes a start on explaining why.




So why such an inaccurate strapline? Because the article was published in a semi-popular magazine and there would have been great cries of outrage from both feminists and real women otherwise. The fact that averages tell us nothing about any one individual within a given population would be no consolation. Many women would just not WANT to believe the conclusion so they had to be assuaged. So the conclusions were slanted to deflect attention from the actual averages to theoretical averages.
Why men are more intelligent than women

The answer is: They aren't.

By Satoshi Kanazawa

The orthodoxy in intelligence research for the second half of the 20th century had been that men and women had the same average intelligence, but men had greater variance in their distribution than women. Most geniuses were men, and most imbeciles were men, they said, while most women were in the normal range. This conclusion, however, was manufactured out of political expediency. Not wanting to discover, or a priori denying, any sex differences in intelligence, psychometricians simply deleted from the standardized IQ tests any item on which the performance of men and women differed.

More recently, however, especially since the turn of the millennium, there have been an increasing number of studies that cast doubt on this politically correct conclusion. Studies with large representative national samples from Spain, Denmark, and the United States, as well as meta-analyses of a large number of published studies throughout the world, all conclude that men on average are slightly but significantly more intelligent than women, by about 3-5 IQ points. So this has now become the new (albeit tentative) consensus in intelligence research.

However, these studies do not answer the ultimate evolutionary question of why men should be more intelligent than women. General intelligence likely evolved as a domain-specific psychological mechanism to deal with evolutionary novelty. However, unlike populations in different geographic parts of the world [translation: different races], men and women within a population have always faced the same level of evolutionary novelty throughout evolutionary history, because they have always migrated together. If general intelligence is a function of the evolutionary novelty of the environment, why then are men on average slightly more intelligent than women? My LSE colleague, Diane J. Reyniers, and I offer one possible explanation in our article, forthcoming in the American Journal of Psychology.

Psychometricians have known since the end of the 19th century that height is positively correlated with intelligence: Taller people on average are more intelligent than shorter people. And men in every human population are taller than women. So one possibility is that men are more intelligent than women, not because they are men, but because they are taller.....

More here

I am not sure why Kanazawa claims that items differentiating men and women have been excluded from IQ tests in the past. It is demonstrably and grossly untrue. He must have in mind some particular instance that is well outside normal practice. It is demonstrably untrue because many items in standard IQ tests DO discriminate men and women. For instance, women tend to do better on verbal puzzles and men do better on mathematical puzzles.

Normal psychometric practice is to select test items by the extent to which they hang together (correlate) with other items -- using such criteria as factor loadings or item-to-total correlations. Doing anything else would damage both the reliability and validity of the test.

It has been suggested -- correctly -- that one could construct an IQ test that did not discriminate men and women by adding in more verbal items and deleting some mathematical items but since the difference between men and women is small, it is hard to see what would be gained by that and, as mentioned, it would detract from at least the validity (construct validity, to be technical) of the test and probably the reliability also.

It would be nice to think that one could dictate the final composition of an IQ test or any other test by the initial item pool that one starts out with before test construction begins but that is not wholly true if one is really doing research rather than just making things up. I have found, for instance, that a subset of items that are not strongly represented in the initial item pool can be quite dominant in the test which emerges from the item analyses. See here for instance. So reality tends to defy intentions and expectations. In other words, there is every reason to believe that existing IQ tests give a correctly balanced picture of IQ. What is in them has emerged empirically.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

A pox upon this vermin

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The Australian - ZIMBABWE began a week of lavish celebrations yesterday to mark the 85th birthday of President Robert Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, with a party at a luxury hotel in the capital. A crowd of 2,000 was expected to feast on beef in sauce or roast chicken, rice and vegetables last night, with serenades from a variety of musical acts at the Rainbow Towers in Harare.

The dinner was in part a fundraiser to make up a short-fall in donations for further celebrations next weekend. Organisers have complained angrily that businessmen and farmers have reneged on promised contributions. Mugabe and his family are used to extravagant birthday parties.

Last year his supporters raised £175,000. This year, with the country bankrupt, almost half the population needing food aid and unemployment at 94per cent, donations have failed to meet targets. ......The country’s bankrupt public sector used tens of thousands of US dollars – now the currency in Zimbabwe – to place large newspaper advertisements congratulating the president.

The prison service, which does not provide food or clean water for political prisoners such as Jestina Mukoko, the human rights monitor who was jailed in December, spent $2,000 on an advertisement paying tribute to “the resilient and true Son of the Soil . . . the force that binds us together”.

The grain marketing board, which cannot provide even a subsistence diet for Zimbabwe’s people, spent $1,500 praising Mugabe’s “sacrificial dedication, shrewd leadership and vision”. The defence ministry described the president, who has been in power since independence in 1980, as a “mighty crocodile” who has remained “resilient, focused and resolute” in securing the country.

Even the Zimbabwean parliament, now led by an opposition speaker, splashed out on a gushing advertisement saluting Mugabe’s “unwavering determination and commitment” to consolidate the gains of independence. The climax of the week-long celebrations will be in Chinhoyi, 63 miles northwest of Harare. Its hotels used to be filled with tourists stopping to visit nearby caves.

They are now deserted. Mugabe’s party will not provide the town with any business. His guests will stay in the town’s university, conveniently empty of students who have not been allowed to resume their studies this year. Mugabe’s daughter Bona, 20, is studying for her degree in Hong Kong where the Mugabes have a £4m house.

“There has not been one piece of maintenance, nothing, for three years at the university, but now everything is being painted so Mugabe can say it’s all modern,” said a student union spokesman. “When he goes the university will close down again.” For days thugs from the 21 February Movement, a body devoted entirely to the annual birthday celebrations, have visited farms and businesses in the area demanding contributions. Even hard-pressed small-holders have been asked for a goat or a bag of maize meal.

One said: “If I don’t contribute, I know I’ll get a visit from an angry group of war veterans.” A supporter of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party said the catering at the Chinhoyi party would be generous. “They like plenty of beef, which is very well cooked, sadza (mealie meal porridge), bread and relish. And there’s always plenty of beer and whisky, too. The whisky must be Scottish.”

ZEG

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In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG comments on the scandalous $500,000 office refit proposed for an incoming NSW government minister

Posted by John Ray.

How to protect the guilty and endanger the innocent

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Criminals allowed to hide their past in Left-run Victoria

Violent criminals and sex offenders are being allowed to change their names by deed poll, helping them hide their pasts and reduce the risk of revenge attacks. Criminals and sex offenders not listed on a registry can pay $58.80 and change their name by deed poll. And while the worst sex offenders face name-changing restrictions, they can still apply to authorities to hide their identities.

The Adult Parole Board said 21 of 25 parolees who had applied for a new name were approved. But the State Government and police have refused to say how many registered sex criminals and prisoners in total have been given the green light for new identities. All three agencies have refused to identify the criminals granted new identities, saying it would breach confidentiality.

But the Sunday Herald Sun understands some criminals are listing fears of revenge attacks from vigilantes as the reason for wanting to change their names. Laws were toughened after it was discovered notorious pedophile Brian "Mr Baldy" Jones wanted to change his name to Shaun Paddick, in an insult to his victims, whose hair he cut. Frankston serial killer Paul Denyer also announced plans to change his name to "Paula".

Crime victims' advocates have slammed the process as a free ride and warned name-changing criminals could easily strike again. The revelations came amid concerns that a serial pedophile jailed this month could be out by October. Jamie Armstrong, 28, of Mt Duneed, pleaded guilty in Geelong County Court to 30 counts of sexually assaulting seven children under 16, and two counts of assault with intent to rape. Armstrong's victims were aged two to 11 and he told police he was always in danger of reoffending, the court heard. He had previously been placed on a community-based order and completed the sex offenders' program, after admitting to indecently assaulting a girl at a pool in 1999. He was sentenced this week to four years' jail with a minimum of 18 months. But having served 10 months on remand he could be out in October.

Anti-child abuse campaigner Hetty Johnston said child sex criminals should be given life sentences on their second offence and no sex offenders should be able to change their names. Parole Board spokesman David Provan said police were notified when criminals changed their names.

SOURCE

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

Less rather than more government intervention is needed to cure the recession

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The article below is American but is applicable to Australia too

The story is told that Ludwig von Mises was once asked, "Do you mean to say that the government should have done nothing during the Great Depression?" Mises responded, "I mean to say it should have started doing nothing long before that."

I hope the story is not apocryphal, because it perfectly sums up the government's proper role in managing the economy: none. The misnamed stimulus law is now on the books. While nearly everyone believes the government has to do something to get the economy out of the recession, those who understand markets insist that we'd be better off if the government did nothing at all. Of course, politicians are incapable of doing nothing when there is harm to be done, but the "stimulus" critics intrepidly insist that anything the government does will be worse than doing nothing at all.

This is certainly true. Unquestionably, doing nothing is better than borrowing nearly $800 billion from the credit markets (to be repaid through inflation and taxation) and spending it on pet political projects, from food stamps to bridge repairs to subsidies for favored energy forms. (Remember opportunity cost!) Doing nothing is indeed is an attractive option. For example, it would avoid re-stimulating parts of the economy shouldn't have been stimulated in the first place, such as housing and autos. As economist Mario Rizzo said recently, "Trying to prop up housing prices or injecting capital into areas of misallocation is a bad idea. It prevents the market's corrective mechanisms from working. Wealth should not continually be destroyed after the errors of the bubble have been revealed. This is the proverbial practice of throwing good money after bad." (Watch Rizzo's presentation here. The written remarks are downloadable here.)



But, frankly, doing nothing is only the second-best option. We can do better. We need the government to do less than nothing. It should undo many things.

Government-Inflated Bubble

Let's remember that government created the housing bubble through a constellation of policies that made borrowing for home mortgages - prime and subprime - artificially attractive. Because of the securitization of mortgages (in itself a good risk-spreading device), the consequences of government housing policies spread far beyond the housing and banking industries. When home prices seemed to be perpetually rising, people were encouraged to refinance their homes and withdraw equity so they could spend the money on cars, trips, and other big-ticket items. Government-stimulated demand touched everything. When the bubble popped - when interest rates rose and the housing glut became apparent - things turned around. People now had costly mortgages they couldn't refinance; homes bought on the expectation of early profitable resale were now money losers. The party was over.

It was a party that couldn't have been thrown without politicians eager to do things for us and, not coincidentally, to boost their reelection prospects as well. The upshot is that if the economy is to thrive again, the reigning philosophy of government as a social service center will have to change. Many things will have to be undone.

These things will strike most people as politically impossible, but if no one ever talks about them, that's what they will remain. We have to start somewhere. The first thing we need is a monetary system that is beyond the reach of manipulative politicians and political appointees. Whatever the Fed Reserve's role in the housing bubble - even if it was only the Alan Greenspan's promise to provide liquidity to overextended lenders - the central bank has again proven itself hazardous to our economic well-being. When will we cease to tolerate this continuing threat in our midst? When will we realize that the mortals who run it cannot know how much money the economy needs or what interest rates should be? Market-rooted money - most likely gold - and free banking are long overdue. How can we afford to wait any longer?

No More Housing Policy

Also on the list of things to go is every manifestation of housing policy. In a free society there would be no such thing. The alphabet soup of agencies - from HUD to FHA to FHLB, and the rest - should be abolished at once.

The same goes for those privileged cartoon characters Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, and any I may have overlooked. They exist to circumvent the market in order to carry out the agendas of politicians, who must dispense goodies to favored constituencies in order to keep their hold on power. Because the agencies are backed by captive taxpayers, they are can do things no free-market institution can do, such as obtain special low-interest loans and guarantees. These bureaucracies have no place in a free market. If we haven't learned that by now, what will it take? (We haven't learned it. The Obama administration wants to give them more billions.)

While we're at it, let's get rid of the income tax if for no other reason than because it would end the mortgage deduction. We must stop thinking of home-ownership as something worthy of government privilege. There's nothing magic about housing. It's one more thing we need. Yet it gets special treatment in the law, and economy-watchers give it special attention. Why do news agencies report housing starts faithfully each month as though the fate of the planet hangs in the balance? They never tell us how many computers, Coca-Colas, or boxes of Cheerios were produced.

Other taxes should be cut or abolished too, including the payroll tax, which is a tax on hiring. But - this is often overlooked - tax cuts without spending cuts require more borrowing and more inflation. It's a bad bargain in the tradition of Keynes. We must cut government spending along with taxes.

If government really wants to make it easier for people to own homes, let it give up control of money and banking, divest itself of the land it holds off the market, and generally relieve society of its endless burdens. The biggest favor the state can do for us is to stop doing us favors!

Source

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here