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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Kathy and I cared for foster children over a number of years, including babies and toddlers.

I well understand the diffculties of blending work and the responsibilities of caring for children. There are a number of worksplaces and public facilties which are not supportive of people with children. Whether it is appropriate to expect that they should be or need to be is another question.

The Australian Federal Parliament is not a child-unfriendly place.

The work that senators do is serious. They review legislation which potentially affects the lives and well-being of every Australian. They are paid well to do so. Parliament is set up so they can do their work in an atmosphere free from distactions and unnecessary annoyances.

Senators come from all walks of life. I am glad that amongst the business men and women, unionists and career politicians, there are some people with young children.

As well as personal staff, members of parliament have access to tax-payer funded child care services, and quiet rooms where they be with their children without disrupting discussion in the house, where they can hear any debate, and from where their vote can be recorded.

So with all this support, and other options available, why did Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young insist on taking her two year old daughter Kora into the Senate chamber?

As Wendy Hargreaves pointed out in yesterday’s Herald Sun:

Infantile screaming is nothing new to our Federal Parliament. Political bawlers come in all ages and political colours.

But this week’s wah-wah effort by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young takes political mewling to an all-time low …

It’s not enough that they make us feel guilty for turning on a heater. Now they’re sending the Senate into a guilt trip for refusing infants.

This isn’t a play centre. This is the Upper House of Australia’s Federal Parliament.

Australian parents know the difficulty and the cost of arranging child care, and the pain of leaving a child to be looked after by someone else. They do it day after day without complaining.

By all means let Senator Hanson-Young take her daughter to Canberra. And to parliament if she cannot organise anything else.

But please Senator, don’t tell us you are hard done by if you don’t follow the rules, and won’t use the resources we pay for to help you do your job.

Senator Steve Fielding says he believes it would be irresponsible for any member of parliament to vote for the Australian Federal Government’s carbon emission trading scheme, given that it will cause substantial damage to the economy, and that the environment minister and her chief scientific advisor are unable to answer simple questions about the causes and extent of climate change, and the effect on climate of the proposed legislation.

In related news, local councils are saying that a carbon tax of $20 per ton will add $344 million per year to their operating costs. If that money cannot be raised from rate-payers or additional government grants, there will be drastic reductions in council services.

That will bite hard. Local government is the level of government in which most people are least interested, but which arguably has the greatest impact on day to day life – provision of local roads, community facilities, parks, street lighting, libraries, etc.

This Cap and Tax Maze from the Carbon Sense Coalition illustrates the questions that would need to be answered before the legislation could responsibly be enacted:

Cap and Tax Maze

Cap and Tax Maze

Added to all this is the fact the proposed legislation won’t even come into effect until 2011. There is plenty of time to do more research, to ask more questions, to consider the costs of the scheme and other options more carefully.

So why is the government in such a rush to ram it through before the end of this week?

In another article from Townhall, Chuck Norris draws on an open letter from Lou Pritchett, a former vice president of Procter & Gamble, to list a few scary things about Obama and his administration.

He starts with the obvious, something I have mentioned a number of times, that the man who is now running the largest economy and the most powerful nation in the world, has never run or managed anything before in his life. Quite frankly, on his record, I wouldn’t give him a job running my little shop on Kangaroo Island.

Here’s more, some from Pritchett, some from Chuck:

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll. …

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you really do believe that going into massive amounts of debt can remedy our economy in the long run.

You scare me because you repeatedly still play the blame game with the Bush administration but never blame the Clinton administration, even though it was responsible for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subprime fiasco via the proliferation of loans to unqualified borrowers.

You scare me because you claim to be a fighter for minorities and the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness yet do not defend the unborn. What greater minority is there than those in the womb, against whom you already have enacted more pro-abortion laws than anyone since the Roe v. Wade decision?

John Hawkins has written a great article at Townhall about five myths liberals believe about themselves.

Here they are, in summary form:

1. Liberals are pro-women. Liberals are pro-women as they as women know their place and have the right opinions. If they don’t, it is perfectly OK in liberal society to belittle and abuse them, and make jokes about their teenage daughters being raped.

2. Liberals are concerned about blacks. And how do they demonstrate this? By encouraging blacks to see themselves as victims, and funding them to remain in places and lifestyles which ensure they will remain outside the mainstream of economic and political life.

3. Liberals are compassionate. Conservatives give consistently more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in church, or as volunteers intheir communities.

4. Liberals are brainier. Pardon? Anyone who has ever engaged in debate with a liberal knows how quickly ad hominem arguments or cruel humour are  likely to be used. In my experience, liberals are far more likely to be driven by feelings, especially about what seems to be right, while conservatives are more likely to be influenced by evidence about what actually works.

5. Liberals are tolerant. Well, yes. Of people who agree with them. Just ask Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin, or Ian Plimer.

Find common ground in their concerns about Obama’s speech to the Islamic world in Cairo.

I wrote  a few days ago that the big omission from that speech was any reference to the real reasons for the foundation of the state of Israel, and any truthful relating of the history of Israel.

There were some good and brave things in Obama’s speech, and they should be recognised and honoured. But that does not mean that the speech should be immune from criticism, and in some respects it was a  major opportunity lost.

Ann Coulter responded with her typically ascerbic insight:

Obama bravely told the Cairo audience that 9/11 was a very nasty thing for Muslims to do to us, but on the other hand, they are victims of colonization.

Except we didn’t colonize them. The French and the British did. So why are Arabs flying planes into our buildings and not the Arc de Triomphe? (And gosh, haven’t the Arabs done a lot with the Middle East since the French and the British left!)

In another sharks-to-kittens comparison, Obama said, “Now let me be clear, issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam.” No, he said, “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life.”

So on one hand, 12-year-old girls are stoned to death for the crime of being raped in Muslim countries. But on the other hand, we still don’t have enough female firefighters here in America.

Delusionally, Obama bragged about his multiculti worldview, saying, “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.” In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, women “choose” to cover their heads on pain of losing them.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali also points out that it is not simply being polite, but a massive untruth, to claim a moral equivalence between the treatment of women in Islamic societies and the roles and choices available to women in the West.

Obama, she says, should speak the truth to Islam:

That poor girl in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, who, after seven men raped her, was sentenced to flogging, had succumbed to the novel idea of flirting by mobile phone. In Saudi Arabia, every Friday, cruel and unusual punishment is perpetrated, far worse than anything John Adams saw in his time. The hands of those suspected of stealing — mostly poor, immigrant workers — are amputated.

The more one is dark-skinned in Saudi Arabia, the bleaker his circumstances, not to mention hers. For in Saudi Arabia, black is still considered to be inferior. Men and women convicted of adultery, apostasy, treason and other “offences” are beheaded. Thousands of women are rotting in Saudi jails, waiting to be flogged, or are flogged daily for acts such as mingling with men, improper attire, fornication and virtual relationships on the internet and mobile phones.

Promotion of literacy for girls, which the President wants to help pursue, is a noble cause. But, unless sharia laws are repealed, more girls will find themselves in flogging pens rather than rising up the career ladder.

Someone who is winning an argument with a liberal.

That one has been around for a while. But that doesn’t stop it being true.

Michael Coren at the National Post points out that if mainstream parties continue to ignore the often reasonable conerns of ordinary people, and continue to demonise those who express such concerns, they ought not to be surprised when parties like the BNP begin to make inroads into mainstream politics.

The British National Party does not goose-step. It has worked diligently to expunge the Nazi image of previous rightist parties, claiming to be nationalist rather than Fascist. It’s both true and false. Almost every believing right-wing extremist supports the BNP, but most BNP supporters are not right-wing extremists. Indeed, while the party is not trusted by the vast majority of minority groups, it does has a Jewish municipal councillor and some support in elements of the black, Hindu and Sikh communities.

Most of all, it has support within a white working-class that has been taken for granted by the Labour Party for half a century. These are the unheard, the anonymous, the ordinary. The sort of people who fight the wars, build the cities and hold the country together. When, however, they complain of the disappearance of their culture and values and speak of inner-city crime and decay, their collective cry is dismissed as racism by a political and social elite that can afford not to understand.

The new number in the equation is Islam, and the number is growing. While there is an expanding and quintessentially English Muslim middle class and a strong resistance to fundamentalism, Islamic isolationism is a major factor now in dozens of British cities. Entire self-imposed ghettoes resembling Mecca Road rather than Coronation Street make routinely tolerant, moderate British people feel excluded, afraid and irrelevant.

This is not mere fantasy. There are honour killings, Muslim gang crime aimed at the white community, young Muslim men dealing drugs and prostitution. There is also a political fanaticism that culminated in the 2005 terror attacks which killed 52 people and injured 700.

The response of the traditional parties, the churches and the BBC is to try to silence the already largely powerless with lectures about Islamophobia. It’s disingenuous, patronizing and counter-productive. A new conversation has to be formed, and sensitive yet difficult questions have to be asked of everybody concerned, including British Muslims and their new left-wing comrades. Otherwise the laughter might stop and the marching begin. Even in good old England.

And in good old Australia.

And drilling for oil in Alaska.

Sounds sensible. Nuclear reactors are a cheap, clean way to produce vast amounts of power, and they produce no greenhouse gas emissions.

Taking oil from the massive reserves in Alaska will reduce dependence on foreign energy, a significant vulnerability not just for the US, but the whole of the West.

I’m just waiting for the squeals of horror.

From Australian Conservative.

John Styles points out that just as escalating violence against visiting students was back in the news in in mid May, the vast resources of the Victorian Police Department were focussed on catching …  jay walkers.

And Miranda Devine notes that the Prime Minister and senior police are reprimanding overseas students who are no longer willing to sit back and be robbed and beaten.

In Victoria, a police spokeswoman said Indian students doing their own security patrols at crime-ridden western suburbs railway stations should “leave and let police do their jobs”.

Well, if the police had done their jobs in the first place Indian students wouldn’t feel like they have to escort each other home from railway stations late at night. Nor would 1000 Indian students have gathered on Sunday at Town Hall and this week in Harris Park to protest about the lax policing.

But now that Australia’s not-so-secret suburban law and order problem has become an international scandal, it’s remarkable how vigilant the police can be.

I have been a police chaplain, and know how difficult and thankless the task of effective community policing can be. I doubt very much that the fault here lies with ordianry police men and women.

I agree with David Goldman that the most significant omission from Obama’s Cairo speech was reference to the long-standing ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

Israel was not founded because of European guilt over the Holocaust. It was wrong to suggest this – not only factually wrong, but morally wrong.

In 1922 the League of Nations gave the British Empire a mandate over the former Palestinian region of the Ottoman Empire, with the purpose of establishing a  Jewish homeland.

The present day Palestinian people have no such long standing connection to the land. They are not descendants of the Philistines after whom that region was named. They are Arabs. There has never been an independent state called Palestine.

Nonetheless, in the end, the largest area of that mandate went to form the Palestinian Arab kingdom of Jordan. What was left was partitioned again, until the Jewish homeland was whittled down to one sixth of one percent of the Middle East.

Long before Christianity and Islam appeared on the world stage, the covenant between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel was entrenched and unwavering. Every day we prayed in our ancient tongue for our return to Zion. Every day.

Two interesting articles from FrontPage Magazine.

The first is an interview with Coptic priest Fr Zakaria Botros. He has been denounced as Islam’s public enemy number one, and Al Qaeda has said they will pay $60 million for his head.

From the FrontPage article:

I am a Copt. In my early 20s, I became a priest. Of course, in predominantly Muslim Egypt, Christians—priests or otherwise—do not talk about religion with Muslims. My older brother, a passionate Christian learned that lesson too late: after preaching to Muslims, he was eventually ambushed by Muslims who cut out his tongue and murdered him. Far from being deterred or hating Muslims, I eventually felt more compelled to share the Good News with them. Naturally, this created many problems: I was constantly harassed, threatened, and eventually imprisoned and tortured for a year…

Ibn Taymiyya, who happens to be the hero of the modern mujahid movement, explained the prerequisites of prophet-hood very well.  One of the things he stressed is that, in order to know if a prophet is in fact from God, we must study his sira, or his biography, much like the Christ’s statement that “You shall know them from their fruits.”  So, taking Ibn Taymiyya’s advice, I recently devoted a number of episodes analyzing the biography of Muhammad, which unequivocally proves that he was not a prophet, that his only “fruits” were death, destruction, and lust.  Indeed, he himself confessed and believed that he was being visited and tormented by a “jinn,” or basically a demon, until his wife Khadija convinced him that it was the angel Gabriel—which, of course is ironic, since Muhammad himself later went on to say that the testimony of a woman is half that of a man.

And from an article about Fr Botros on National Review Online:

The result? Mass conversions to Christianity — if clandestine ones. The very public conversion of high-profile Italian journalist Magdi Allam — who was baptized by Pope Benedict in Rome on Saturday — is only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, Islamic cleric Ahmad al-Qatani stated on al-Jazeera TV a while back that some six million Muslims convert to Christianity annually, many of them persuaded by Botros’s public ministry. More recently, al-Jazeera noted Life TV’s “unprecedented evangelical raid” on the Muslim world. Several factors account for the Botros phenomenon.

Another reason for Botros’s success is that his polemical technique has proven irrefutable. Each of his episodes has a theme — from the pressing to the esoteric — often expressed as a question (e.g., “Is jihad an obligation for all Muslims?”; “Are women inferior to men in Islam?”; “Did Mohammed say that adulterous female monkeys should be stoned?” “Is drinking the urine of prophets salutary according to sharia?”). To answer the question, Botros meticulously quotes — always careful to give sources and reference numbers — from authoritative Islamic texts on the subject, starting from the Koran; then from the canonical sayings of the prophet — the Hadith; and finally from the words of prominent Muslim theologians past and present — the illustrious ulema.

Typically, Botros’s presentation of the Islamic material is sufficiently detailed that the controversial topic is shown to be an airtight aspect of Islam. Yet, however convincing his proofs, Botros does not flatly conclude that, say, universal jihad or female inferiority are basic tenets of Islam. He treats the question as still open — and humbly invites the ulema, the revered articulators of sharia law, to respond and show the error in his methodology. He does demand, however, that their response be based on “al-dalil we al-burhan,” — “evidence and proof,” one of his frequent refrains — not shout-downs or sophistry.

More often than not, the response from the ulema is deafening silence — which has only made Botros and Life TV more enticing to Muslim viewers.

The second FrontPage article is by David Horowitz. Horowitz points out that despite the distortions of history, and the failure to mention terrorism or Islam’s history of vicious conquest of Christian and other countries, there were some good things in Obama’s Cairo speech.

I certainly agree that ather than simply condemn Obama’s failures, we should applaud what he gets right – and amidst the jumble, he got a lot right in Cairo.

Here is a substantial chunk, but the whole thing is worth reading:

As for the Middle East conflict, Obama  began – began – by telling the Muslim world that the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable, and by opening the wound of the Jews that made a homeland for them a moral imperative: “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

And then he characterized Holocaust deniers like Ahmadinejad as despicable, and identified them as a cause of war in the Middle East, and announced that he was going to Buchenwald the next day (clearly to underscore that fact): “Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

And while Obama made false parallels between Jews and Arabs as contributors to the intractability of the Middle East conflict and rewrote some history, he also said in no uncertain terms that it was Palestinians who had to renounce violence (and here he drew no parallels and no moral equivalence) and had to recognize the Jewish state — something even the “moderate” terrorist Abbas refuses to do.

And to underscore this point he drew a parallel between the struggles of American blacks for civil rights and Palestinians. But unlike Condoleeza Rice who not too long ago drew the same parallel to aggrandize the PLO terrorists as civil rights activists, Obama drew a sharp and revealing line of distinction between them: “Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.“

And that was really the core of Obama’s speech. It was a defense of America’s founding and America’s mission. We are a tolerant nation and a peaceful nation Obama told 1.5 billion Muslims and we will accept and embrace you if you reject the violent and hateful among you and walk a peaceful and tolerant path. And this tolerance must extend not only to the Jews of Israel, and other infidels, but to Muslims among you who are oppressed, specifically Muslim women:  “The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights. I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the Wes that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.”

Of course the good things do not excuse the distortions. Robert Spencer points out in a careful, step by step review of Obama’s speech, also on FrontPage, that those distortions are substantial and damaging.

From 8.9% to 9.4% in May.

US Unemployment Rate

US Unemployment Rate

Former White House spokesman Tony Fratto is less than impressed with the current administration’s claim that thousands of jobs created have been created by the stimulus plan:

After nearly twenty years in Washington I thought I’ve seen every trick ever conceived, but the White House claims of “jobs saved” attributed to the stimulus bill is unrivaled. What causes the jaw to drop is not just the breathtaking deception of the claim, but the gullibility of the Washington press corps to continue reporting it.

News stories from President Obama’s event last week hailing the 100-day mark since the stimulus was passed typically repeated the assertion that the stimulus has already “created or saved 150,00 jobs.” (“And that’s just the beginning,” the President crowed.)

Here’s an important note to my friends in the news media: the White House has absolutely no earthly clue how many job losses have been prevented because of the stimulus bill. None.

Forget that only a trickle of stimulus spending has yet made its way into the real economy. Set aside your views on whether or not the stimulus has any job-saving or -creating impact. And leave for another day the White House’s failing to account for changing macroeconomic conditions and seasonal adjustments.

There is only one necessary data point to make the “jobs-saved” claim: an accurate measure of expected employment levels in the future. That baseline data is critical to measure what the employment level would be in the absence of the stimulus. Unfortunately for the White House, they cannot possibly know that measurement within any degree of confidence — and they know it …

A self-respecting press corps would vigorously question the White House on their claims. We’ll see if we have one.

Anyone want to put money on it?

From Quadrant Online:

From the editorial of Island magazine, Autumn 2009 edition:

Ruth Sunderland discusses the gender issues she feels are being ignored in the endless analysis of our current economic crisis. She writes: ‘This mess was made by men’ and goes on to argue that women should be vitally involved in the development of solutions. In this issue of Island I have invited activists and radical thinkers, Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh, to engage in a conversation about this very dilemma. It seems timely for us to listen seriously to those who think outside the square, especially when it is clearly inside-the-square thinking which has precipitated these disasters.

Extracts from “Thinking Beyond, Thinking Deep” by Susan Hawthorne and Ariel Salleh in Island magazine, Autumn 2009 (not available online):

… in a time of global warming it’s crucial to spell out the links between ecology and women, North and South.

Australian commitments under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism may cause Indonesian women to lose their communal livelihood as forests are turned into externally financed carbon sinks. This kind of policy is neocolonial and regressive.

The European study on men’s consumption choices causing more global warming than women’s, reminds me of very fine US research by Pat Hynes in which she found that when men spend, they buy luxuries – cigarettes, alcohol, petrol, pornography and women’s bodies for their individual use. Whereas when women spend they buy survival goods – food, shelter, medicines and schooling for themselves, their children and others who depend on them, including male partners.

This, of course, is why women’s personal items, fashion, perfume, make up etc, typically occupy seven times more space in shopping malls and retail centres than men’s personal items. And women don’t drink, smoke or drive.

Sad, really, because the Defence Department is  notoriously difficult, and department staff and military personnel both seem to have respected Joel Fitzgibbon’s abilities.

The trigger for his resignation was a lack of clarity about contact between Mr Fitzgibbon and his staff, and his brother Mark, head of Australian health insurer NIB, and US health insurance giant Humana. In particular, Mr Fitzgibbon failed to declare accommodation paid for by NIB.

This was the last in a long series of failures to declare gifts including accommodation and travel.

Defence Department staff again affirmed they had no knowledge of any departmental investigation of links between Fitzgibbon and possible Chinese spies. This was reported in the Australian as PURE FICTION: Media reports of spy affair inaccurate, which is hardly the same thing.

As I have said before, Fitzgibbon is either totally brainless (and he’s not) or he lied repeatedly about his relationship with Chinese/Australian business woman Helen Liu. People who think they need to lie usually have something to lie about. Fitzgibbon had to go.

Two soldiers have been shot, one killed, at a military recruiting centre in Arkansas.

The suspect, Abdulhakim Muhammad, a person of no particular appearance or religious views, has been arrested.

Police found a small arsenal of weapons in Mr Muhammed’s car, including an assault rifle, a .22 calibre rifle, a .380 calibre automatic pistol and ammunition.

Leaders of the pro-life movement have always called for peaceful protest against the horror of abortion, and have consistently denounced the use of violence in any form. They also consistently condemmed the murder of George Tiller.

Some on the left have openly called for violence against members of the military, and especially military recruiters.

So where are the voices from the left, raised in condemnation of the murder of a young man whose job was to welcome new enlistees back to their home towns?

So says Piers Ackermann. And so say all of us.

A couple of excerpts:

One of candidate Kevin Rudd’s big selling points other than that he was not John Howard was his experience as an Australian diplomat.

We now know that his experience was limited and it is now blindingly apparent that he is not in the least diplomatic. In his meetings with President Obama, Rudd has behaved like a star struck schoolgirl. Waving and pushing to be included in the camera shot, he looks like a kid with a crush, but that hasn’t cut much ice with the US which is yet to appoint an ambassador to replace Robert McCallum, who left in January…

According to Zhu Feng, one of China’s most influential experts on security, Beijing is finding it hard to deal with Rudd and was more comfortable with John Howard than this prime minister…

With such inept skills, Rudd shows himself to be admirably equipped for the top UN job, which he is said to covet. Given the general dysfunctional nature of the UN, and its myriad global failures, let no-one stand in his way.

I am not sure that Julia Gillard really has left behind her student socialist ideology, but she has done some interesting things in education, and she would be a lot less embarrassing as Prime Minister than Rudd.

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