Monday, 31 August 2009

The National Health Debate (or lack of it...)

Minette Marrin has written an excellent article for The Times this week on the low standard of nursing in the UK, after revelations of what basically amounts to patient abuse, specifically of the elderly, came to light. These revelations come after a sickly sweet month long 'We Love the NHS' campaign supported by all major political parties, perpetuating what Marrin calls the "quasi-religious belief" that the NHS is the envy of the world.

She correctly identifies these abuses as not representing all nurses, but she is not prepared to dismiss it as 'just a tiny minority', as the 'defend-the-NHS-at-all-costs' groups do. She is brave enough to look at the figures and see that this abuse represents a failure of nursing at an institutional level, and a failure to deal with it in the past. The article is well worth reading in its entirety, but she identifies a link between the structure of the NHS and these abuses towards the end of the article,
One of the problems is that the NHS is a monopoly — any patient knows there is nowhere else to be treated and any nurse or doctor brave enough to blow the whistle runs the risk of never working in medicine again; there is no alternative to the state medical monolith. Perversely, it is only for whistle-blowing that NHS staff are punished or dismissed; otherwise there seem to be no sanctions for bad practice. The unions have seen to that.
I completely agree with her in this analysis, and I would go a bit further. The problem ultimately with the NHS is that due to its nationalisation and its monopoly, patients are treated not as customers but as burdens on the system. We are constantly told that our coverage is 'free', which is not true, but the attitude that patients are getting something for nothing is what makes the NHS so popular, yet also what contributes to the abuse and poor care we have seen. When the patient is not seen as a customer in a competitive environment (and therefore someone who is welcomed and whose business is welcomed), but as a burden being given a handout, this attitude infiltrates every part of the system. Therefore we see low expectations from patients ("Without the NHS I wouldn't have been given the medicine needed to cure my illness" gushes the Twitter site in support of the NHS) who are convinced they are getting something for nothing and so should be grateful for whatever the NHS gods deign to give them in their infinite kindness. We have also seen this attitude filter to some nurses who do not see their patients as customers who deserve the very best, but instead as burdensome problems who get in the way. Tragically, this is then reflected in the care given to the very weakest in our society.

Yet, Marrin notices that these problems have not been properly confronted, and asks "Is there no-one bold enough to do something?" The unfortunate answer on the political front seems to be 'Not really.' The very silly reaction to Daniel Hannan's incisive points about the NHS on American television last month shows just how much the subject of NHS reform has become a total 'no-no' in all of the political parties, including the Conservative Party and its leader. Cameron and Brown both realise that there are a lot of votes in supporting the NHS, and both are trying to paint themselves as 'the party of the NHS' and the other as 'anti-NHS', meaning that any suggestion of significant reform is hysterically shouted down as extremist or 'eccentric' (as David Cameron described Hannan's comments last week.)

The fact of the matter is that the NHS is by no means perfect. It is not the worst system in the world, and there is a lot to recommend it, but the idea that we live in some sort of healthcare paradise where everyone is given high quality care for very little cost is simply false. Marrin correctly identifies that structural debate about the NHS is vital. Unfortunately, a political atmosphere where we must support every part of the NHS, and the unchecked funding of it at all costs, lest we be labelled 'against our doctors and nurses' and 'unpatriotic' means that such debate will quickly be stifled.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Scary 'sexuality' guidelines from the U.N for children.

The liberal politicization of children and sex education continues, my emphasis in bold and comments in red

U.N Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5 year olds.

NEW YORK — The United Nations is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence.

The U.N.'s Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a 98-page report in June offering a universal lesson plan for kids ranging in age from 5-18, an
"informed approach to effective sex, relationships" and HIV education that they say is essential for "all young people."[Notice how they avoid the word children? To some of these extreme liberals, the idea of childhood has no real meaning, they are simply younger people who must be taught their ideas. Also they say it is essential but do not say why.]

The U.N. insists the program is "age appropriate," but critics say it's exposing kids to sex far too early, and offers up abstract ideas — like "transphobia" — they might not even understand.[Not only might children not understand a term like transphobia, but the meaning of it needs to be clairified in general. To me a transphobic is someone who is fearful of or hates people who class themselves as transexual or transgendered. To others someone who has 'transphobia' means someone who does not accept the recent dogma that one is free to choose one's gender. This is an important distinction. Saying that a man who acts as a woman is still a man is not transphobia, its common sense.]

"At that age they should be learning about ... the proper name of certain parts of their bodies," said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, "certainly not about masturbation."[Stop a second and think about what Ms Turner has just said. Read it again. She is basically saying at 5 years old children should not be forced to learn about masturbation. It seems like such an obvious thing to say that it barely needs saying, right? Now remember that UNESCO disagrees with this statement. Wow.]

Turner was disturbed by UNESCO's plans to explain to children as young as nine about the safety of legal abortions, and to advocate and "promote the right to and access to safe abortion" for everyone over the age of 15. [This is a UN hobby horse and has been for many years now, this idea that unrestricted abortion is a magical right, so we shouldn't be surprised that they are trying to force the idea on children. I also wonder what exactly they would teach about abortion. If they are so keen to teach children everything about everything, will they also be teaching children just how horrific an abortion is, how much damage it can cause to women who have them? Will they be discussing the appropriate moral issues about whether what is happening is the removal of a clump of cells, or the death of a living human person? I'll tell you now that only when challenged to tell the real details about an abortion would their moral side kick in, and all of a sudden it would be "Oh no, thats much too shocking and inappropriate to teach to a young child." I would agree, but then I wouldn't teach children about abortion at all.]

"This is absurd," she told

The UNESCO report, called "International Guidelines for Sexuality Education," separates children into four age groups: 5-to-8-year-olds, 9-to-12-year-olds, 12-to-15-year-olds and 15-to-18-year-olds.

Under the U.N.'s voluntary sex-ed regime, kids just 5-8 years old will be told that "touching and rubbing one's genitals is called masturbation" and that private parts "can feel pleasurable when touched by oneself."[I can't bear to read through 98 pages of this, but I'd love to know just how they justify this one. This is only one step away from that weird book in Germany that encouraged parents to 'lend a helping hand' to children exploring themselves. Its just so creepy.]

Click here to see the report.

By the time they're 9 years old, they'll learn about "positive and negative effects of 'aphrodisiacs,"[What aphrodisiacs are these? Does this mean Mrs Cole is going to come in with a tray of oysters? Again, why does a 9 year old need to know about how to get oneself 'in the mood' for sex?] and wrestle with the ideas of "homophobia, transphobia and abuse of power."[Notice the bias? Its not about homosexuality and transexuality, but the 'phobias' - again this begs the question. Will 9 year olds be taught that anyone opposing gay marriage is instantly 'homophobic?']

At 12, they'll learn the "reasons for" abortions — but they'll already have known about their safety for three years. When they're 15, they'll be exposed to direct "advocacy to promote the right to and access to safe abortion. [Again, this isnt about 'safety' or 'health' or anything like that, this is the enforcement of a hard left political agenda on children hidden behind 'education.' If it were about education, why not talk about the moral problems with abortion? Why not expose them to direct advocacy to limit the so-called right to abortion? It is of course a rhetorical question - we know exactly why not.]

Child health experts say they are wary of teaching about the sticky topic of abortion, but stress that as long as messages stay age-appropriate, educating kids at a younger age helps better steer them into adulthood.[In what way? Who has judged that this is better? We have been teaching kids about sex education earlier and earlier for years. All we seem to have is more screwed up kids, more child abuse, the sexualisation of children, and higher rates of teen pregnancy and STI's]

"The adults are more leery of [early sex-ed] than the kids are," said Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child psychiatrist in New York. [Sorry. Since when did kids determine their own education? Surely there might be good reasons that adults are more 'leery' of sex-ed?] "Our own fears sometimes prevent us from being as open and honest with our kids as possible." [Yeah, well lets see how 'open and honest' they want to be when a teacher turns round and says that abortion is the direct killing of an innocent human being and here is a picture to prove it.]

Hartstein, however, who didn't see much harm in explaining basic concepts that kids of all ages will have questions about, was baffled by some of the ideas the U.N. hoped to introduce to kids as young as 5 years old, who will be taught about "gender roles, stereotypes and gender-based violence."

"I want to know how you teach that to a 5-year-old," Hartstein told[Oh come on Jenny, lets be more open and honest. It's really simple. Male and female gender roles - BAD! Stereotyping - BAD! 'Homophobic' 'Transphobic' anti-abortionists - SATAN!! See, easy, one lesson tops!]

Despite those challenges, the U.N. insists that "in a world affected by HIV and AIDS ... there is an imperative to give children and young people the knowledge, skills and values to understand and make informed decisions."[Woaahhh, hold up a second. Trackback! I asked the question earlier as to why all this was necessary, and I noticed that HIV/AIDS/STI's was in the title, and here they are explicit with it. Just ask the obvious question, what do abortions have to do with HIV? What does transphobia have to do with HIV? These are simple scare tactics implying that if you don't shove the Karma Sutra in your kid's faces then they will die of AIDS.]

UNESCO officials said the guidelines were "co-authored by two leading experts in the field of sexuality education" — Dr. Doug Kirby, an adolescent sexuality expert [This strikes me as odd.], and Nanette Ecker, the former director of international education and training at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Their report was based on a "rigorous review" of sex-ed literature, "drawing upon 87 studies from around the world," said Mark Richmond, director of UNESCO's Division for the Coordination of U.N. Priorities in Education, in an e-mailed statement.

Richmond defended teaching about masturbation as "age-appropriate" because even in early childhood, "children are known to be curious about their bodies." [This reminds me of an old joke where a kid walks into his fathers office and says "Daddy, what's sex?" So nervously the father begins to talk about the birds and the bees, and then there is a pause, so he moves onto the subject of masturbation. He then gets a bit more confident and realises he may as well just go for it. So he starts talking about threesomes, fetishes, orgies, prostitutes, strip clubs, bestiality, toys, the lot! After fifteen minutes of explanation, he says to his kid "So that's sex. Why do you ask anyway?" To which the kid responds, "Mum says that dinner will be ready in two secs." The point is that just because a kid says "Daddy whats that?" doesn't mean he or she needs a comprehensive lesson in self-stimulation. AND in addition, it doesn't need the government, or especially the UN to teach kids how to 'understand' themselves!! Their lessons, he added, would hopefully help kids "develop a more complex understanding of sexual behaviour" as they grow into adults. [So we aren't interested in simply making sure people are well-rounded, now they must have a complex understanding of sexual behaviour. Begs the question - WHY? Why do kids need a complex understanding of sexual behaviour?]

But Michelle Turner, of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, said that such roles should be left up to parents, [Exactly! Why does the UN want to shove its nose in with its weirdo ideas?] and worried that children were being exposed to too much information too soon.

"Why can't kids be kids anymore?" she said.

This is another in a long line of government and UN schemes to sexualise children (notice how I said children and not 'very very young people.') Liberal doctrines go in the face of common sense. Children can have a surprising amount of common sense, which goes in the face of Liberal dogma. Therefore libs need to circumvent that at an early age. Don't be fooled, this is not about HIV, this is not about STI's, this is political, and it is sick. When governments started dropping the sex-ed age, started getting more explicit etc, people said 'Oh it won't be long before we have explicit sex-ed aimed at 5 year olds, and lessons on how great abortion is etc etc.' and such people were laughed at, and dismissed as scaremongering. Unfortunately, those 'scaremongerers' were right.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Van Jones - One of Obama's many radical Czars

During the 08 election issue of Obama's previous contacts and friends came up, and there were some shifty ones indeed. Anti-Americans, anti-Semites, terrorists, communists, black liberation theologians, the list is a long one. The Obama campaign, however, managed to dodge the bullet, partly because they were quick and suave enough to dodge it, and also because the bullet shot by the McCain campaign was slow, off target, and made out of jam. Therefore with a bit of a grin, a shrug and a couple of hasty denouncements implying he didn't really know anything about these people's controversial views and even if he did, it didn't mean he agreed with them, he managed to sweep the whole thing under the carpet.

The fact that this didn't knock Obama for six was a credit to his campaign, and a real discredit to the McCain campaign. They failed to exploit the obvious inconsistency that Obama said he didn't know of Rev Jeremiah Wright's radical views for instance. If you want a sample, take this one that was recorded in 2001, and watch it until the end.

This is the man who Obama has known personally since the 1980's, and who went to his church for 20 years. Remember, this is a church where a large chunk of the service is preaching, not just a quick five minutes like in a Catholic or Anglican Church. This is the man who married Barack and Michelle, who baptised their children, and who in between spouting anti-Jewish and anti-American rhetoric, managed to write a sermon that inspired Obama so much that it became the title of a book the President wrote. You may have heard of it, its called "The Audacity of Hope." How can we possibly believe that Obama simply 'didn't know' about these radical views?

Of course, many Democrats roll their eyes when they hear these accusations. After all, the President distanced himself from Wright and Ayers and co. What more do people want? This might be a strong argument, but Obama's dodgy associations haven't stopped. More and more people are noticing some of the 'special advisors' or unelected Czars that he is putting in place have rather radical views as well, and they are in the same line as some of his previous friends. Only these guys have some serious power behind them now.

Im not a massive fan of Glenn Beck, I can't put my finger on why, but he has started to investigate these Czars in greater detail, and his first expose, an examination of Van Jones, the Czar in charge of green jobs, and a long friend of Obama, is pretty devastating. Take a look.

Now, we all have some odd friends, but Obama seems to have a lot of them, they have always been influential, but only now is he appointing them inside the government as his own special advisors. What are these people advising, and how much is the President listening? Everyone should be worried by this. Fair play to Glenn Beck.

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Modern Liberal Conservative?

Having been in America during the 2008 election, and now returning to Britain for the (probable) election in 2010, I am worried about the similarities I see between the Cameron brand of Conservatism and the McCain brand of Conservatism.

It would take more than one blog post to analyse why the McCain campaign failed and the Obama campaign won, but it can be summed up to three areas.

1. How Bush gave the Republicans a handicap.
2. How the Obama campaign won.
3. How the McCain campaign flopped.

I want to focus briefly on this final point. There is often a view that Obama was so charismatic and so popular, and people were so desperate to get away from Bush, that the McCain campaigned was doomed before it began, and it wasn't McCain's fault that he lost. While I concede on some of this (Bush certainly gave the G.O.P a handicap, and Obama certainly had a lot going for him) there are many in America, both liberal and conservative, who are convinced that this was an election not only that Obama won, but that McCain lost. The fact is that Obama was not a strong candidate for the Democrats. He is a left-wing radical who is not in tune with the majority of Americans, who does not have a great amount of experience, and who hangs around with some very shifty characters (now he simply appoints them as special advisors.) What the well-run campaign managed to do was wrap him up in spin and slogans, endlessly talking about 'change' and how 'historic' his election would be, and they got in.

Yet all the McCain campaign needed to do was wade through all the spin and bring it down to policies and principles, and they could have changed the election. As we are seeing since Obama was elected, the new President is not good with specifics. As long as he remains general, he remains popular, but now he is getting into specifics, his approval ratings are free-falling. The Stimulus package is seen as a failure, his instinct to attack the police in 'Gatesgate' shocked Americans who value their force, Cap and Trade is unpopular, and as specifics on his healthcare plan leak out, more and more protests break out. All McCain needed to do was fight on principles and specifics, and he could have really nailed him. But he didn't. Why?

It is my proposal that McCain had himself dropped many of his conservative principles in order to present himself as a reconciler, as 'bi-partisan', as someone who could step across the aisle to the other side etc etc. He wasn't a strong conservative, he didn't represent anything clear, any principles, any strong system of values that distinguished him from the swish senator opposing him. Therefore no clear message came out of the McCain camp, gave no-one a good reason to vote for him, the Conservative movement never really got behind him, and it meant that McCain could only deal in generalities, and any specific policies sounded disorientated and tacked on. He could only attack Obama on superficial things, he could never attack Obama's principles by constrasting them with his own. He could never say with convicton "I believe in THIS principle, and therefore it follows that we need to do THIS." So he fought on generalities, he failed to cut through the Obama spin campaign, and show who the Democrat candidate really was, and Obama charged through.

So nearly a year later, we turn to the upcoming British election, and take a look at David Cameron. I see a shocking amount of similarities between him and McCain. More recently the Shadow Cabinet have been declaring themselves 'more progressive' than the Labour party, a term that should send alarm bells ringing in the head of anyone who believes in Conservative principles. There does not seem to be any set of principles that unite what will end up in the Manifesto, and this is concerning. The Tory part at the moment seems to believe in doing a)what seems to be popular at the moment and b) the opposite of Labour.

There are two main risks to this. One - that people will vote for the Tories only because they hate Labour, which could give a future Tory government a false confidence, and also mean they don't really have the support of the electorate. Such a government would fall at the first hurdle and would probably drift back to a Labour government at the next election.

The second is that it could easily lose the next election if Labour manage to pull themselves together under a 'new' and 'bold' and 'fresh' leader. As I write this, I have in mind the young high-flying David Miliband. My concern is that a Conservative party based not on conservative principles, but only on spin and cynical gimmick statements and policies, could easily have its way to government blocked if Brown were to resign, Miliband take over and present the Labour party as having a 'fresh new outlook.' I don't know who would win in a Miliband v Cameron election battle, but would it matter? Would there be a great difference between the two?

What ultimately is the point in fighting for a Tory party victory if it is not a party that is particularly fond of its own founding principles of conservatism. What would there in a Cameron-Conservative goverment that people could get excited about? If we have a party that, being so keen to be elected, is prepared to drop its traditional understandings of localism, of taxation, of the role of government, of the strength of the private sector, of crime and punishment, of foreign policy - then why vote Tory at all, except for to get away from Gordon Brown? People respect people with strong principles, even if they don't necessarily agree with those principles. If the electorate detects that this is a party that has been prepared to drop its principles at the door in favour of a vague "Modern Liberal Conservatism" that amounts to nothing more than a cynical grasp for popularity, then it is not a party they will get behind with any passion whatsoever, a party that would not be strong in government, and a party that could easily be swept aside if Labour were to get their act together under a 'fresh' leader promising change.

Dropping principles at the door was one of the reasons McCain lost the 08 U.S election, and if the Tories are not careful, it could be why the Cameron ticket loses the 10 U.K election.

Welcome to the Anglo-American Debate!

Welcome to this new blog, which goes out like a drop in the ocean that is the modern blogosphere! The purpose of this blog is not as haughty as the title might seem. It is simply based on the idea that there are similarities between the American political situation and the political situation in Britain, and that both sides of the Atlantic can learn from one another. Obviously I do not intend for this blog to do that, but i intend it as a small contribution to an on-going debate. I have an interest in both sides, and feel that there is a niche which looks at both the British and the American situations, offering commentary and debate on both. So this blog is born!

I am a Politics student based in England, currently studying for my MA at the University of Manchester, and have experience of studying in America during the 2008 Presidential Election, which really intensified my interest in American politics.