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Eric at Big Hollywood writes about real beauty – the kind Susan Boyle has, and real ugliness, the kind Janeane Garofalo has.

I won’t say much more – it’s worth reading the whole thing.

But I share his frustration at the view expressed by Garofalo and others that the only possible reason any one could disagree with Barack Obama about anything is because he is black.

Worried about tax policy? No you’re not. You’re a racist redneck.

Worried about where money for massive ‘stimulus’ spending is going to come from? No you’re not. You’re a racist redneck.

Worried about Obama’s foreign policy? No you’re not…. You get the idea.

One of the convenient things about that kind of thinking is that you never have to bother engaging with people’s concerns or answering their questions. You can just dismiss them because they are, you know, racist rednecks. But given the kind of nonsensical nastiness Garofalo apparently believes, a lack of further engagement with her is probably a good thing.

And aren’t rednecks ordinary working people, the kind the Democrats were supposed to represent?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and described the Holocaust as a “myth” — arrived in Geneva late on Sunday as one of the few heads of state attending the conference.

Setting off for Switzerland, Ahmadinejad , who is seeking re-election in June, was quoted by Iran’s state broadcaster as saying ‘The Zionist ideology and regime are the flag bearers of racism.’

Various UN and human rights organisations have claimed that by not attending the Durban II conference the US, Australia and others are ‘turning their backs on victims of racism.’  Rubbish.

They would have a lot more credibility if they told Imanutjob to shut up and tidy up his own back yard.

How can anyone with a shred of decency or intelligence attend a conference where Imanutjob and others dominate proceedings, whose countries routinely hang or behead gay men, stone women who have been raped, and permit the marriage of girls as young a six to much older men, or, as in the case of Burma and Sudan, are carrying out systematic murders of any of their own citizens who are not the right race or religion?

The whole thing is just an bloody, expensive, embarassment.

Or else.

Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton won the Miss USA title earlier today. Good for her.

But trouble started after runner-up Carrie Prejean (Miss California) was asked this question: ‘Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalise same-sex marriage … do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?’

Carrie said: ‘We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.’

Some in the audience obviously agreed. But many others booed her.

She was asked her opinion. What was she supposed to do – lie?

But no, it’s not good enough. No one is allowed to doubt the all encompassing beauty of gay marriage, far less actually voice such a repugnant opinion.

‘It’s ugly,’ said Scott Ihrig, a gay man, who attended the pageant with his partner. ‘I think it’s ridiculous that she got first runner-up. That is not the value of 95 percent of the people in this audience. Look around this audience and tell me how many gay men there are.’

Yes there are lots of them, so they must be right, and no one is allowed to think any different.

Fights then broke out in the lobby. Something is ugly here, but it isn’t Carrie.

Because both global warming alarmists and creationists care more about defending their entrenched positions than they do for the evidence.

In comments on another blog I was recently accused of being a denialist because I pointed out that the world was not getting any warmer, and that there was no correlation between human production of CO2 and changes in global climate.

Science is about asking questions. It is not denial to look at the evidence.

Saturday’s Australian has another surprisingly fair story about Professor Ian Plimer – Australia’s best known geologist. A couple of excerpts below:

While an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide theoretically may contribute to temperature rise, Plimer says there is no evidence to show this and plenty of proof, if you choose to look for it, to the contrary.

Climate changes are cyclical and driven by the Earth’s position in the galaxy, the sun, wobbles in the planet’s orbit, ocean currents and plate tectonics. When he peers back in time, there were periods when atmospheric CO2 was much higher than it is now yet produced no disastrous shift in the climate.

To reduce climate change to the single variable of carbon emissions abandons “all we know about planet Earth, the sun and the cosmos”, Plimer says, and that is a leap of faith no self-respecting scientist should take.

“The science is now based on consensus, and we have thousands of scientists who have got everything to gain by saying the world is going to end. We have lost the tie to evidence. So I make a great comparison … between the way creationists operate and the way some of the rabid environmentalists and global warmers operate. The parallels are quite similar.”

Whew!

Everything transferred over quickly and easily.

The new layout needs some tidying up. I will do this over  the next few days.

If you notice any bugs or have any suggestions, let me know. Comment, or email me (address is on the profile page).

Posting back to normal this afternoon.

Qohel has been experiencing growing traffic. We are not yet up with Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair, but we are within sight of becoming Australia’s leading independent conservative blog.

Thank you!

Over the next day or so (Monday in Australia) we will be moving to a new server, and making some changes to our site layout to make it easier to read.

The transfer should be painless. But it probably won’t be. There may be few new posts, and older posts, pictures and files may get lost for a while.

The whole process should only take a couple of hours. I hope.

I wrote about the effect of condom use on HIV infection rates in general terms about three weeks ago, but Andrew Bolt’s post this afternoon titled Pell’s Killer Argument has prompted me to add some more detail.

I noted last time that the only people whose behaviour is likely to be influenced by Catholic theology are Catholics. It is simply silly to suggest that the Catholic Church does not have a right, indeed an obligation, to advise the faithful on morality.

Second, I pointed out that the more likely people are to disobey the Church’s teaching in one area, the less likely they are to be troubled by breaking the rules in others. In other words, encouraging Catholics to ignore Catholic teaching on the use of artificial contraception is also likely to encourage them to ignore Catholic teaching on chastity. And that, of course, will encourage, not discourage, risky behaviour.

Finally I suggested that it is simply silly to believe that someone who is deliberately going to commit a mortal sin by stealing from his family to pay a prostitute or by having sex with another man in a public toilet is at the same time going to be so constrained by his conscience that he will refuse to wear a condom out of a desire to act in accordance with the faith.

All of the above seems to me to be simple common sense. Common sense may be mistaken. But as Cardinal Pell has noted, actual research seem to confirm that the Pope and the Catholic Church are right.

For example, Edward Green, writing in the Washington Post on March 29th, said:

In theory, condom promotions ought to work everywhere. And intuitively, some condom use ought to be better than no use. But that’s not what the research in Africa shows. Why not? One reason is “risk compensation.” That is, when people think they’re made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.

He also noted that when early studies found this to be so, organisations like United Nations’ AIDS programme simply refused to acknowledge or publish them. But more recently, a succession of studies published in journals such as Lancet, Science and BMJ have confirmed that promoting the use of condoms simply has not worked as an AIDS prevention programme in Africa. This is despite millions and millions of dollars being spent on publicising condom use and making condoms easily and freely available.

Note that Edward Green is not a Catholic, and supports the use of condoms. He believes that condoms have worked in places other than Africa (I do not – there are other factors at work in the Asian countries he mentions, and very low HIV infection rates in the Catholic Philippines is a strong counter-argument). But he acknowledges that what works best is faithfulness.

So when Pope Benedict, Cardinal Pell and the wider Catholic Church say that chastity outside of marriage and faithfulness within marriage is right for spiritual reasons and is also the healthiest choice, the evidence is on their side. It is not on the side of the wholesale condom sellers.

At the last possible moment, Australia has been done the right thing and said it will not be sending delegates to the UN’s Geneva Conference for Racism and Anti-Semitism (commonly called Durban II).

The conference is due to start on the 120th anniversay of the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

This means our illustrious leaders will miss words of wisdom from planned speakers like Iranian President Imanutjob.

Australia will join the US, Italy, Germany, Canada, and a number of other countries.

Some in the US have complained that by not going, President Barack Obama is losing a chance to show leadership. The truth is exactly the reverse.

Well done Obama. Well done Kevin.

Despite the extraordinary vindictiveness of the attacks against her and her family during the presidential election campaigns, Sarah Palin kept her dignity throughout.

She spoke in Illinois a few days ago. On the stimulus programme, no shots at Obama, just : ‘This isn’t free money folks.’

That’s common sense. We need more of it.

But I am still gobsmacked by the suspended sentence and sympathetic hearing given to Iranian refugee Kayvan Zarei after he punched a woman in a car park and then splashed a witness with petrol and tried to set fire to him.

Zarei pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one count of endangering life. He was given a two year suspended sentence. In other words, there was no punishment for his behaviour at all.

In his non-sentencing remarks Judge Rauf Soulio (Silly-O to his mates) said the incident had a “significant impact” on the witness and was also a “frightening experience” for the woman.

But all of that was outweighed by the fact that some people might not have been quite as nice to Zarei as he expected since he had been in Australia. Some people might even have gone so far as to ask him where he was from, or whether he was a Muslim. As a consequence he had become a depressed drug addict.

Refugee Council of Australia chief executive office Paul Power said racial discrimination was built on fear and misunderstanding. It was crucial for people to learn about other groups. Pardon?

If society is given the message that refugees (or anyone else for that matter) who behave threateningly or violently will not be given any appropriate consequences for that behaviour, and therefore no incentive to stop that behaviour, then it is perfectly reasonable to be mistrustful and afraid.

Are these do-gooders completely nuts?

Another good reason not to use commuter trains and buses, besides the fact that they are inconvenient, inefficient, dirty and generally poorly run.

South Australia’s Minister for Road Safety Tom Koutsantonis has a good record for saying the right things: `Extreme behaviour on our roads, such as speeding, is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.’ and ‘Unfortunately, you can’t legislate to avoid stupidity.’

You may not be able to legislate to avoid stupidity, but you can surely avoid appointing idiots to executive positions in government.

Mr Koutsantonis has been fined at least twenty-seven times for speeding, three times for running red lights, and once for driving while using a mobile phone. This is not just one or two incidents – careless moments which were out of character. This is a record of long term disregard for the law and for the safety of other road users. Tom Koutsantonis is dangerous and irresponsible.

As at this date he has unpaid fines of nearly $1000 dating back to 2007.

If the Rann Labor Government in South Australia has the slightest regard for road safety, and any respect for the people of South Australia, Tom Koutsantonis must be sacked.

Update:

As of about midday on Monday 20th, Tom Koutsantonis has resigned as Minister for Road Safety.

‘I probably should have resigned earlier,’ he said. ‘My past transgressions mean that I can’t go out and do my job properly.’

No kidding.

But we’ll still have the benefit of Mr Koutsantonis’ wisdom in other areas:

‘I will continue to my work in the areas of Correctional Services, Gambling, Youth, Volunteers and assisting on Multicultural Affairs.’

This was recorded ten years ago for a CD produced for a local charity. There’s no video, but her clarity, expression and accuracy of pitch make this something I will listen to over and over again.

In other Susan Boyle news, Elaine Paige, whom Susan said was her model, has offered to sing and record a duet with her.

According to Elaine, Susan is ‘a role model for everyone who has a dream.’

Very cool indeed.

Well, what was he supposed to do?

Some of the criticism seems a little unfair – he couldn’t very well have refused to shake Chavez’s hand. He just didn’t have to look so jolly pleased about it.

Especially after Chavez’s recent remarks about the US during his very chummy visit to Iran:  “It’s a policy of permanent aggression, of war, of terrorism by the US empire. That’s the great guilty one, the great Satan, as they call it here,” Mr Chavez said. He also has been critical of Mr Obama, including calling him “ignorant” last month after the US president accused Mr Chavez of “exporting terrorism” and being an obstacle to progress in Latin America.

The problem is, you just can’t be chummy with everyone. You can’t be friends with everyone. And sometimes it is wrong to try, because if you are happy to be friends with the bully and the dictator, that sends a message to the bullied and downtrodden. It is not the message the US should be sending.

And Obama did look happy. Certainly happier than Bush when he met Rudd at last year’s G20.

Bush Greets Rudd

It is not clear yet whether Swiss Red Cross worker Andreas Notter was released, or left behind after police chased a group of terrorists who tried to break through the cordon surrounding their camp. The military has been drawing closer over the last few days after months long talks failed to produce any results.

One more (Eugenio Vagni) of that group to go. Still another twenty or so being held elsewhere in the Southern Philippines.