Friday, October 29, 2010

Stomping on the First Ammendment

While Paul Joseph Watson condemns the "thuggery" of the two men who shoved a supporter to the ground during a Rand Paul rally, and admits they should be prosecuted, he also contends that the woman tried to assault Rand Paul. A video posted at Prison Planet shows Lauren Valle, in red hoodie and blonde wig, breaking ahead of the crowd surrounding his vehicle as it pulls to a stop. She was portraying a corporate executive as part of a satirical campaign. In the video, Valle holds her Rand Paul sign very close to Paul's open passenger window before he exits the vehicle. This is when an actual Paul supporter grabs her and pulls her away from the vehicle.
Watson even states that Valle's actions were "clearly more aggressive" than the actions of the man who shoved her to the pavement and the man who jammed his foot into her shoulder to help prevent her from getting to her feet.

This is an attempted assault? Holding a sign up to someone's face? While I question Valle's judgement in getting so close to the vehicle, it doesn't look to me like she was threatening Paul, nor was she in any position to harm him. Both of her hands are on the sign.

Watson also wrote an article about an incident that occurred the same night, pointing to it as evidence that the "establishment media" selectively covered the night's events. It seems a woman with an injured foot was also stomped on by a supporter of Rand Paul's rival, Jack Conway. But I think there could be other explanations for why this other incident received little coverage:

- The woman's name is unknown.
- The alleged perpetrator's identity is unknown.
- The circumstances of the alleged stomping are unknown.
- Having your foot stepped on in a crowd could be an accident (though the woman is reportedly pressing charges).
- The encounter was apparently not recorded, as the assault on Valle was.

As further supposed evidence that the media turns a blind eye to leftist violence, Watson mentions that an Obamacare supporter had his finger bitten off by a activist at a rally last year. This case is more complicated than that, however. First of all, Bill Rice punched the unidentified man in the face and knocked him to the ground. The man got up and the two struggled before Rice's finger was bitten. In other words, we're not talking about an unprovoked assault. Capt. Ross Bonfiglio, a public information officer with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, said that while Rice was certainly a victim, he was also the "primary aggressor". Also, because the biter remains unidentified (he fled), there is no way of knowing for certain that he was a supporter.
The mainstream media did not ignore Rice's story, either. He was interviewed by a sympathetic Neil Cavuto on CNN.

Thuggery is thuggery. It should be unconditionally condemned regardless of who perpetrates it, and it should not be exploited for political ends. Alex Jones routinely castigates law enforcement for thuggery, but when it comes to thugs connected with a political candidate who has been a guest on his show, the tune changes. Then the thuggery, while still deplorable, becomes acceptable - even justified.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

CPS Kidnapping and Persecution of Oath Keepers?

Not so fast....

Update (Oct. 15/10): According to an article posted at Infowars yesterday, Jonathan Irish has informed Jones that his infant daughter has been returned. He says he can't divulge any details due to a gag order, but he now claims that CPS investigated him only because he was confused with another man with a similar name who actually does have a record of domestic violence. As with everything else in the case, I don't know what to believe because there simply isn't enough information being provided from which to draw firm conclusions.

Jones has an intense hatred for social workers, particularly those employed by Child Protective Services (CPS). He has stated that social work was invented merely as a front for eugenics and racism (which would have been quite a shock to Dorothy Day, Jane Addams, and the other early social workers who did so much to help impoverished immigrants and their children). He has stated that most family court judges are sadistic pedophiles. He has stated that half of CPS workers are pedophiles.

His experiences of CPS must be quite different from mine. When I was growing up, several friends were abused or neglected by their parents, and CPS turned a blind eye. One girl was raised by a mother who would make Joan Crawford look like a freaking saint, but after one weekend in a foster home, CPS decided that because the girl wasn't a complete train wreck yet, her mother must not be so bad. She was returned to her own home, and never received another visit from a social worker. In other words, she was condemned to several more years of hell. In another family, three siblings were allowed to remain with their mother even though a social worker knew there was no food in the house. Another family plagued by alcoholism and incest never even received a visit from CPS. If social workers are really the crazed Stormtrooper thugs Jones portrays them to be, they have a strange way of showing it in certain parts of the U.S.

On Friday's show, Jones' guests were a New Hampshire couple who claim that their newborn was removed from their care solely because the father, Jonathan (John) Irish, is a supporter of the group Oathkeepers. His fiancee claims the CPS began investigating them after finding a gun in their car, even though she had a concealed carry license for it. They were told Irish belonged to a militia.

If accurate, this would be disturbing story. But the problem is, we don't have enough information to judge its accuracy. As one commenter at a Snardfarker site, Patty Kearon, pointed out: "The most important information is missing from this case. Nobody has posted any of the most important information needed to draw any conclusions. We all need to see the petitions that brought the older children into CPC custody. CPS had already taken their first 2 children into custody. We need to see the disposition reports, permanency reports and other documents such as police reports. And are the case plan requirements based on some documented substantiated abuse? We no [sic] nothing about these things which are very important pieces of information. Somebody get this needed information on the web, and then after reading it all, then I will give you my honest opinion. And anybody who makes a judgement without this information is just as bad as the people you are making judgements about".

Other commenters mention that Irish's Oath Keepers affiliation was only one of several reasons listed for the intervention, that Irish has a history of domestic violence, that Irish may not actually be affiliated with Oath Keepers. Irish himself mentioned to Jones that the CPS report lists reported abuse of his fiancee, but denies he is abusive.
Undoubtedly, many babies have been born to Oath Keepers, yet there are no other reports of newborns being removed from these families.

A Concord Monitor article has this to say: "Court records show an ongoing investigation into charges that Irish abused Taylor and her two-year-old child", and "according to an affidavit provided to Irish by the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, state officials took the child because of Irish's long record of violence and abuse."
The affidavit also says that Rochester, New Hampshire police have documented a "lengthy history of domestic violence" between Irish and his fiancee, that a judge determined Irish abused his fiancee's two older children, that he failed to complete a court-ordered domestic violence course, and that a hearing was held last month to terminate the fiancee's parental rights over the other two children for these reasons.

It seems there's much we're not being told by the New Hampshire couple. Jones didn't ask the couple any questions; he accepted their story at face value, even referring to the social workers as "wolves", "fascists", "monsters", and "kidnappers". When Irish made a vague, confusing statement indicating that his fiancee's husband (not ex-husband, as Irish calls him) is listed as the baby's father, Jones instantly interpreted this as some sort of ploy on the part of CPS - without seeking any additional information. Any other interviewer would have asked some tough questions at this point, if only for clarification. Instead, Jones solicited donations for the couple's legal defense.

The mislabeling of Oathkeepers as a "militia" can probably be straightened out in court later this month. But what about the other issues that Jones did not address? It strikes me as irresponsible to give unconditional support to this young couple when we have no idea what's going on in this case. It's not a good idea to hold them up as examples of "persecution against Libertarians and conservatives" until more is known. As the Monitor article points out, many of the supporters rallying around Irish and his fiancee heard about the case at second or third hand, and know nothing about the abuse allegations.

At the end of his interview with Irish and his fiancee (I have not used her name here because it is given variously as Taylor and Janvrin; I don't know which is her real name), Jones admits that CPS has also failed to intervene in clear-cut cases of abuse and neglect. Strangely, though, he seems far less concerned about this than about the alleged persecution of a small number of allegedly innocent parents, and what he sees as widespread corruption in social work and the "adoption racket".

Addendum: Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oathkeepers, has a much more balanced and rational take on the case, as an article re-posted at Infowars shows. He realizes that Irish's Oath Keepers affiliation was not necessarily the dominant reason why the child was removed, and acknowledges that other issues were presented in the affidavit.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Still Waiting for That Race War

So it's been 30 days since the release of Machete, and though border violence has not abated, there seems to be no escalation in Mexican-on-American violence thanks to the movie. I saw it, and it's the usual zany, over-the-top Rodriguez fare. There's a political undertone, but it's hard to take seriously with lines like, "The bullet in his head was stopped by another bullet!". Anyone who takes Machete as a call to arms is seriously disturbed, and could just as easily be swayed by secret government messages in the Sunday comics or something.

I can recall many similar manufactured controversies. Years ago, Christians fretted that The Bridges of Madison County could give the green light for housewives to screw every traveling salesmen they met. Didn't happen. Then they worried that their kids might hook up with vagrant artists on cruise ships, because of Titanic. This probably did happen, but who cares? At least they didn't get tanked and fall off the damn boat like that one moron did on his honeymoon. More recently, there have been concerns that Avatar will usher in some kind of global eco-religion, though I really can't picture millions of people modeling themselves after Ferngully Smurfs.
In New Zealand, Reservoir Dogs came under heavy fire after a policeman was tortured and his house burned by a "Satanist". Turned out the guy did it himself, partly to get out of his marriage and partly for the insurance money.
The only movies that did seem to influence some already unbalanced people are Natural Born Killers and River's Edge (allegedly a favourite of the kids who murdered Elyse Pahler, though Slayer got the blame). Both of these films are heavily satirical, but not as zany as Machete. Hence, a few idiotic kids actually took them at face value. But we can't seriously argue that controversial films should be shelved to prevent a handful of dolts from being influenced by them. If we banned every film that could concievably encourage bad behaviour, we'd be left with very few. Maybe The Sound of Music, movies about talking animals, and some PG comedies would squeak by. That's not the kind of world I want to live in.

"The Health Ranger" on Cancer Charities

I have heard Jones admonish his listeners not to donate to cancer research, because science isn't really looking for a cure (or has already found it, but won't tell us). Today, Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams said essentially the same thing. When you donate to cancer charities, a lot of the money goes toward cancer screening in poor neighborhoods.
So this is a bad thing? According to Adams, it is. He says that public health workers deliberately target low-income neighborhoods occupied by racial minorities in order to kill them. The example he used was of mobile labs offering free mammograms to poor black women. The women may think this is a sensible health precaution, but the radiation will end up killing them, he and Jones agreed.

Current research indicates that "mammography has an average lifetime risk of inducing 1.3 fatal breast cancers per 100,000 women aged 40 at exposure", according to an August New York Times story on the risks of imaging tests. In other words, mammograms can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer for women over 40. But of course if your breast cancer goes undetected, the chance of survival is low indeed. Screening is recommended for women over 40, and I see nothing sinister about offering free exams to women who could otherwise not afford any screening at all. The level of radiation used in mammography is lower than that used in other X-ray exams. It's highly unlikely that THEY give some free mammograms every year just to minutely increase the risk of breast cancer in a very small number of minority women. There are far more effective ways to eliminate a population, and THEY surely know that.

Cancer research funds do, believe it or not, go into actual cancer research. The notion that THEY will withhold a cure when/if one is discovered is absurd, because whoever makes that discovery is going to make himself and a lot of other people very, very rich. A cancer cure will be just as lucrative as cancer treatment, if not more so.

But cancer research doesn't focus solely on a cure; improved treatments, a higher standard of care, and more effective screening are all goals of cancer researchers. We've seen astonishing improvement in all these areas in the past decade alone. When I was a child, even the lowest doses of chemotherapy were a guarantee of terrible sickness, hair loss, and fatigue. Today, it is not. My grandfather recently underwent chemo without suffering more than a few minor side effects like constipation. Five years ago, my brother-in-law reached his fifth year with multiple myeloma. Thanks to state-of-the-art treatment in Toronto, he was active and independent until the very end of his life (in contradiction of what you'll hear about Canadian medicine from those who would prefer the more lucrative, privatized variety). It is worthwhile to donate to cancer research and cancer charities, if that's what you want to do. Don't let bizarre scare tactics and conspiracy speculating (I can't even call it theorizing) stop you.

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I'm a 30ish housefrau living in Canada