New on NewsReal – Television Turned Against Women’s Rights in Afghanistan. Where’s Cultural Imperialism When You Need It?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Television can be a force for liberty in totalitarian and theocratic societies, but it can be used to thwart liberty, as well. Case in point: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s Daily Beast report on disturbing events in Afghanistan:

In the past several weeks, controversial television presenter Nasto Naderi has stepped up a campaign he began this year accusing women’s shelters of supporting prostitution and other behavior considered immoral. In December, Naderi showed footage of a family guidance center run by the organization Women for Afghan Women, followed by pictures of family guidance and women’s shelter staff entering their offices. According to Naderi, women’s shelters encourage behavior that violates Islam, though he has yet to offer any evidence to support his allegations.
The unwanted attention has sent a chill through women’s rights supporters in Kabul and created an environment of both fear and defiance among shelter workers. In a conservative country with little history of providing safe havens for domestic-violence victims, the concern is that Naderi’s charges could do great harm—and put shelter workers at risk.

“By these kinds of programs, people’s minds may be swayed, and they may think negatively about these kinds of safe houses,” said Selay Ghaffar of the organization HAWCA, which offers legal aid and temporary shelter to Afghan women seeking to escape domestic abuse.

Naderi makes no bones about what’s really driving his propaganda campaign, boasting that his people “have fought 30 years to put the word ‘Islam’ in front of Afghanistan […] But some NGOs come and want to make another way for our country.” It certainly isn’t concern for the shelters’ quality—“Mr. Nadiri says he hasn’t visited any of the 17 shelters officially registered with the government.”

Women’s defenders fear the legitimization of the Taliban could mean the end of the shelters:

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

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Another Year, Another Scandalous CPAC

A considerable number of conservative organizations – Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, National Organization for Marriage, and Media Research Center – are planning on boycotting CPAC 2011 over the participation of gay Republican lobbying group GOProud.

To me, the question of whether or not CPAC should be boycotted over this is kind of pointless – as Ed Morrissey says, CPAC is an awfully diverse bunch, even without ’em:

The conference includes social conservatives, Ron Paul groupies, isolationists, interventionists (the dreaded neo-cons), libertarians, religious organizations (including Muslims), atheists, several flavors of fiscal conservatism, and even the John Birch Society.

Unlike Morrissey, I don’t think the presence of Paulites, isolationists and Birchers at CPAC is necessarily something to celebrate. Where do we draw the line? When have we brought in so many dilutions and mutations of conservatism that it ceases to be conservatism?

GOProud’s defenders are also deluding themselves if they think all GOProud’s interested in is ensuring that gay Americans feel welcome in the movement (a questionable mission in any case – when did the NRA, Club for Growth, or National Right to Life Committee start checking for sexual orientation at the door?). After all, these are the same guys who demanded that the new Congress abandon social issues by dishonestly claiming to speak for the entire Tea Party movement, all the while denigrating their so-called conservative “allies” as “special interests.”

At this point, GOProud’s trustworthiness is in doubt. Their true intention seems to be to drive the Right socially leftward. Here’s another simple test that would reveal a great deal about their real values and priorities. GOProud is in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So they should answer this question: do you believe Congress gave sufficient consideration to the judgment of American servicemen and military leaders prior to repeal? Spoiler alert: the correct answer is no.

(Oh, and to the Frum-types who couch their apologetics for groups like GOProud with pragmatic arguments about the “politics of addition” and such, just ask yourself: which organizations do you think represent more conservatives? Which organizations’ and their constituencies’ alienation do you think will have the more detrimental effect on the movement?)

On the other hand, Morrissey points out a not-insignificant distinction: while GOProud is attending, they aren’t an invited sponsor, meaning CPAC isn’t endorsing their platform, and neither are groups who participate in CPAC. And as he says, CPAC presents “the best possible forum for engagement and debate of the competing agendas of these groups.” If CPAC is going to indulge such wildly varying groups and ideologies, hopefully they’ve planned a series of candid, spirited debates and roundtables about these disputes. Ignoring unconservative views and agendas on the right weakens conservatism, but debating them can only strengthen it.

New on NewsReal – Michael Vick is A-OK; So Saith President Obama

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Among the many divergences from the theories and principles of the American Founding wrought by progressivism is the very nature of the presidency. Originally conceived as a limited office chiefly concerned with (domestically, at least) little more than the fair and effective execution of the laws, progressives such as President Theodore Roosevelt transformed the nation’s understanding of the presidency into an office charged with “bound actively and affirmatively to do all he could for the people,” free to do anything not explicitly forbidden by the Constitution.

If anything, President Barack Obama sees his job in an even more expansive light than Roosevelt. At the Daily Beast, Mansfield Frazier opines Obama’s injecting himself into, of all things, the redemption of football player Michael Vick:

“So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,” Obama reportedly told the owner of Vick’s football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. “…It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out.”

The Eagles signed Vick after he served 19 months in prison for running a dogfighting operation, and by praising the team’s owner for giving the quarterback a second chance, the president is broaching a subject that’s sure to be polarizing. As states across the U.S. struggle with looming budget deficits, Obama perhaps realizes the timing may be right to address what he has called the country’s “incarceration and post-incarceration crisis” and remove barriers that inhibit successful prisoner reentry by offering former offenders an opportunity to reclaim their lives and a modicum of dignity.

 Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Hawaii Governor Revives Birth Certificate Wars Because He Wants to End the Controversy. Yeah, Right

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Thankfully, TV and the blogosphere haven’t suffered any major Birther eruptions in a while, but Hawaii’s new Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, is poised to reignite the dumbest of Barack Obama’s scandals…in the name of putting a long-overdue stop to it. Abercrombie intends to settle the question of Obama’s citizenship status once and for all by releasing more previously-undisclosed birth records:

[T]he governor made clear in the CNN interview that he will push forward on this matter regardless of whether the White House is privately worried that it may bring more attention to the so-called “birthers” who continue to deny that Obama was born in America – despite evidence showing that he was.

“We haven’t had any of those discussions,” Abercrombie said of the White House. “It’s a matter of principle with me. I knew his mom and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already.”

Asked if one option is to ask Obama to waive his privacy rights so that a copy of his actual birth certificate can be released publicly, Abercrombie cut off a reporter’s question.

“No, no, no – it’s not up to the president,” he said.  “It has nothing to do with the president.  It has to do with the people of Hawaii who love him, people who love his mom and dad. It has to do with respect the office of the president is entitled to. And it has to do with respect that every single person’s mother and father are entitled to.”

All the evidence we have overwhelmingly indicates that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii and is constitutionally eligible for the presidency. The facts are on Abercrombie’s side, as far as the question of Obama’s eligibility goes, but his dramatic talk of standing up to “a political agenda not worthy of any good American” reeks of partisan posturing.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Around the Web

Herman Cain for President: the real deal?

Not all pro-lifers fit the profile you’ve probably been given.

Traitor Bradely Manning has gripes about the room service in the brig. Boo freaking hoo.

Michelle Malkin takes on the ACLU for taking on Catholic hospitals.

John Bolton explains how to deal with China; American Power has the video.

Cuban healthcare’s not so bad…PBS says so!

New on NewsReal – Yet Another Reason ObamaCare Is Even Worse Than You Think

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

I don’t think this is quite what outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted the American people thinking about when she said we needed to pass ObamaCare to “find out what’s in it,” but a new Daily Beast column by Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation is a perfect example of why that statement rightfully scared people half to death. Dalmia takes a look at aspects of the “reform” that haven’t gotten much attention thus far, but threaten to transform American healthcare into “one big entrapment scheme”:

[I]n an effort to offset [the “doc fix’s”] $20 billion price tag, it has included a little twist to squeeze working families called “exchange recapture subsidy.” Under this provision, the government will go after low-wage families to return any excess subsidies they get under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

When the government hands out subsidies, it will use a household’s income in the previous year as the basis for guessing what the household is qualified to get in the current year. But if the household’s income grows midyear, the subsidy recapture provision will require it to repay anywhere from $600 to $3,500, compared to the $450 that the law originally called for.

This will make it very hazardous for poor working families to get ahead. In the original law, the loss of subsidy with rising income already meant absurdly high effective marginal tax rates—the implicit tax on every additional dollar of income earned. How high? The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon puts them at 229 percent for families of four who increase their earnings by an amount equal to 5 percent of the federal poverty level or $1,100. In other words, a family that added this amount to an income of $44,700 would actually see its total income fall by $1,419 due to the loss of subsidies.

The subsidy recapture provision—essentially a tax collection scheme—means that low-wage, cash-strapped families will have no escape from these perverse tax rates. Many of them will find themselves owing the government thousands of dollars in back taxes. Since it is unlikely that they will have this kind of money sitting around, they will face a massive incentive to either fudge their returns or work for cash to avoid reporting additional income. Either way, Uncle Sam will come after them, just as it does with recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the negative income tax scheme that is the inspiration behind Obamacare’s subsidies. In 2004, EITC recipients were 1.76 times more likely to be audited than others, no doubt because it is easier for the government to recover unpaid taxes from poor people than “lawyered up” rich people.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Leftist Lie of the Day

From Ramesh Ponnuru, here’s a takedown of the new study going around that claims to show that Fox News viewers are especially misinformed:
Tom Maguire and Aaron Worthing have already pointed out that the study counts as “misinformation” beliefs that are really matters of opinion or arguably true claims.
For example, the study says the “correct” view is that most economists estimate the stimulus to have created several million jobs; but the study’s own proffered sources for this claim, which are not impressive, suggest that it is exaggerated. In the absence of an actual survey of American economists–and I am not aware of any–how would we know which belief is correct? If we take most respondents to be offering their views on the effects of the stimulus rather than their views on the results of polls of economists, the “incorrect” view is even more defensible.
But leave this problem aside. The other defect of the study is that it tested for false (or supposedly false) views that conservatives were more likely to have than liberals. It tested for only one false view that anyone could have said in advance would be disproportionately held by liberals (the view that it had been proven that the Chamber of Commerce used foreign money to finance political ads). Meanwhile it tested for several myths with distinctive appeal to conservatives.
A more balanced look at widespread myths would have yielded different results. What if the survey had asked whether air pollution had gotten worse over the last three decades? Or whether Americans’ life expectancies are worse than other peoples’ when differences in lifestyle and crime rates are taken into account? Or whether education spending had gone down during the Bush administration? It would be very easy to construct a survey in which MSNBC viewers turned out to be less informed than Fox News viewers. And just as pointless.