Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tony Lets One Slip

As American radio talk show host Don Imus is pilloried by the usual race hustlers for a crude remark about a women's college basketball team, the Prime Minister of Great Britain has committed a racial faux pas of his own. The difference between the two incidents is that Mr. Blair's slip-of-the-tongue wasn't an offensive insult, but rather a statement of fact. And for that, he will likely be all the more vilified.

Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.

Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

The truly amazing part of this story is that Tony Blair said it. Mr. Blair has been very busy during the course of his disastrous term as prime minister writing into law politically correct multiculturalism. (Dennis Dale provides a splendid evisceration of Blair's foreign and domestic security policies over at Untethered.) It was Mr. Blair who tried very hard to steer a law through parliament that would have made it a crime to criticize religion (heavily supported by British Muslims) in just about any way. It is Mr. Blair who has pressed "anti-racism" laws directed and enforced solely against white Britons, who can find themselves taken in by the police for simply expressing a non-politically correct opinion. Mr. Blair has spent almost a decade doing eveything he could to undermine traditional British culture and national identity. Now, in the twilight (one hopes) of his time at 10 Downing Street, he pipes up - in defiance of his conduct over the past ten years - to tell the truth, just once.

Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

Mr Blair said he had been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit, who said: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" Mr Blair said there needed to be an "intense police focus" on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks. The laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders "taken out of circulation".

Naturally, the usual suspects are, as usual, OUTRAGED!

Last night, British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Mr Blair's speech. The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister.

Mr Obunge, who attended the Downing Street summit chaired by Mr Blair in February, said he had been cited by the prime minister: "He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it. What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing. ... He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."

Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youngsters, said: "Social deprivation and delinquency go hand in hand and we need to tackle both. It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech."

What Mr. Jarrett means to say is that he thinks the U.K. government isn't providing enough welfare to its black citizens, thus causing them to commit violence. One wonders, then, why other ethnic groups - say, Chinese, or Japanese - don't exhibit the same levels of violent crime even when faced with similar economic conditions. Or why those same groups rather quickly lift themselves out of poverty, while other groups seem to disproportionately reside in poverty, no matter where they live all over the world. But those are questions that Mr. Jarrett will never ask, or want answered. Better to demand more welfare and government benefits, because that prescription has worked so very well for blacks and other minorities in Britain (and America).

Apparently, Mr. Blair doesn't buy the "social deprivation argument."

Answering questions later Mr Blair said: "Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.

"I think that is to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them."

Some people working with children knew at the age of five whether they were going to be in "real trouble" later, he said.

Mr Blair is known to believe the tendency for many black boys to be raised in families without a father leads to a lack of appropriate role models.

He said: "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong - it has not - but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."

If he really means this - and with Mr. Blair it's often hard to tell - then he'd better explain that to the members of his cabinet.

Mr Blair's remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.

On a hopeful note...

The Commission for Racial Equality broadly backed Mr Blair, saying people "shouldn't be afraid to talk about this issue for fear of sounding prejudiced".

Given that the Commission for Racial Equality is itself one of the primary reasons Britons feel afraid to talk about racial issues, that statement is, well, ironic, to say the least.

Mr. Blair's comments aren't much; but it's a start.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Offer No One Will Accept...

The White House wishes to create a new "Czar" to oversee the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Strangely, it seems no one wants the job.

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

The reason these general passed on the high profile position should be entirely clear. There is no actual need for a "War Czar" to perform duties that are already (presumably) being performed by the President, his staff and the Joint Chiefs themselves. Thus, the position of "War Czar" must be meant to serve some other purpose. And the retired generals who have been solicitied for the position sniffed that purpose out quite readily. The "War Czar" is meant to be the scapegoat. The Fall Guy. The person who will be blamed when the President is forced to acknowledge what a mess he has created in Iraq, and how he has wasted hundreds of billions (we'll be lucky if it doesn't hit a trillion) of dollars and thousands of American lives in his failed crusade for democracy among the Arabs. The "War Czar" will be the carcass thrown at the bellowing war hawks when the administration or its successor finally pulls the plug on the sordid debacle.

It's a suicide mission for any general's career and reputation and they know it.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

The sudden urge to create the position shows the rising levels of desperation within the administration regarding the situation in Iraq, and its inability to navigate a road out of the mess.

The White House has not publicly disclosed its interest in creating the position, hoping to find someone President Bush can anoint and announce for the post all at once. Officials said they are still considering options for how to reorganize the White House's management of the two conflicts. If they cannot find a person suited for the sort of specially empowered office they envision, they said, they may have to retain the current structure.

The administration's interest in the idea stems from long-standing concern over the coordination of civilian and military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by different parts of the U.S. government. The Defense and State departments have long struggled over their roles and responsibilities in Iraq, with the White House often forced to referee.

The highest-ranking White House official responsible exclusively for the wars is deputy national security adviser Meghan O'Sullivan, who reports to national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and does not have power to issue orders to agencies. O'Sullivan plans to step down soon, giving the White House the opportunity to rethink how it organizes the war effort.

The mess in Iraq isn't going to get better any time soon. The ridiculous notion of a "War Czar" reveals just how clueless the adminstration is regarding the handling of the conflict, and the level of incompetence that led the nation into this disaster in the first place. America doesn't need a "War Czar;" it needs a competent Commander-in-Chief, which, at the moment, it surely lacks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When the DNA Does Not Match...

Immigration officials, seeking to prevent legal immigrants from bringing non-related people to the U.S., falsely identified as relatives, have turned to DNA testing to confirm familial relationships. Under U.S. law, legal immigrants with residency or citizenship can petition the government to allow close family members to join them in the U.S. DNA tests are voluntary, but presumably aid an applicants petition to bring loved ones here. However, in a not-so-surprisingly large percentage of cases, the DNA tests indicate the claimed family members are not who the immigrants say - or think - they are.

For 14 years, Isaac Owusu’s faraway boys have tugged at his heart. They sent report cards from his hometown in Ghana and painstaking letters in fledgling English while he scrimped and saved to bring them here one day.

So when he became an American citizen and officials suggested taking a DNA test to prove his relationship to his four sons, he embraced the notion. Imagine, he marveled as a lab technician rubbed the inside of his cheek, a tiny swab of cotton would reunite his family.

But modern-day science often unearths secrets long buried. When the DNA results landed on Isaac Owusu’s dinner table here last year, they showed that only one of the four boys — the oldest — was his biological child.

Despite the evidence that three of the boys he once thought were his sons were someone else's children, Mr. Owusu still wants them to come. Though the revelation has caused him pain.

The State Department let his oldest son, now 23, come to the United States last fall, but said the others — a 19-year-old and 17-year-old twins — could not come because they are not biologically related to him.

Isaac Owusu, who asked that only his first and middle names be published because he would like to keep his family’s pain private, is still hoping the government will allow the teenagers to join him, arguing that he has been a devoted stepfather, if not a biological parent.

But in recent months, he says, he has simply unraveled.

“Sometime when I get in bed, I don’t sleep,” said Isaac Owusu, 51, who works for an electrical equipment distributor and an auto supply shop.

“I say to myself, ‘Why this one happen to me?’ ” he asked, his eyes wet with tears. “Oh, mighty God, why this one happen to me?”

Such discoveries are not unique to immigrants. Cuckoldry is nothing new in biology, but DNA testing offers men the first real opportunity to check and see if the children they are raising (or financially supporting) are actually their own.

But Mary K. Mount, a DNA testing expert for the A.A.B.B. — formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks — estimates that about 75,000 of the 390,000 DNA cases that involved families in 2004 were immigration cases. Of those, she estimates, 15 percent to 20 percent do not produce a match.

Negative results can suggest an effort to bring in illegal immigrants or distant relatives, officials say, though they note that requests for DNA tests deter illicit activities. An official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the cases, found no indication of wrongdoing by the families interviewed for this article.

As with anything else under America's overly-permissive immigration law, a negative DNA test does not mean that the claimed relation cannot ultimately come to the U.S.

A negative result does not eliminate the possibility of reunification. New citizens can adopt children under 16 and bring them to the United States, officials say. They can also petition for stepchildren or stepparents in certain circumstances.

Well, naturally. While the use of DNA testing to identify actual genetic relationships among claimed family members is interesting in and of itself, the article raises the larger question of why the U.S. permits new legal residents to bring their entire families to the U.S. If Mr. Owusu's DNA tests had confirmed the boys to be his, all four would be here now, not just one. Thus, by permitting one legal immigrant from Ghana, the U.S. has actually gained five legal immigrants from Ghana. If Mr. Owusu's wife were still alive, she might be added to that list, making six total immigrants (and a presumably veery lively discussion with her husband). If The Owusu's had more than four children, the number of immigrants would be even higher. This loophole in American immigration law means that actual total legal immigration to the U.S. can be many times the maximum number permitted by law. Given the large, extended families that are so common in Africa and Latin America, permitting large numbers of legal immigrants from those regions means tacitly permitting many times more than the maximum number stated in U.S. law. Thus, granting amnesty to currently illegal immigrants (mostly from Latin America) will open the floodgates, permitting in turn tens of millions of more people from Latin America to flood into the U.S. legally. President Bush knows this, and as he shills for his amnesty (guest worker/path ot citizenship) program, tries mightly to hide this fact from American voters.

Unaddressed by the New York Times article is why the U.S. is admitting someone from Ghana, a country with a culture and demography so radically different from America's. Would Ghana permit a similar number of Americans to immigrate to its soil? Would any Americans want to immigrate there? If America allows the best and brightest (and most motivated) among Ghana's population to emigrate to the U.S., what effect will that have on Ghana's long-term outlook? What does racial fragmentation and balkanization as well as cultural disintegration it do to America's long term outlook? Unfortunately, no one in Washington wants to ask those questions, or answer them.