Friday, 23 November 2012

From Chris Kahui to Rush Limbaugh via Christine Rankin

On the Yahoo Xtra news poll recently, the question was 'should Chris Kahui be given a clean slate?' 87% of respondents, more than 15000 people, voted NO.  This was three times the total number who responded to an earlier news poll on climate change. I do not know why there seems to be so many members of the Amygdala Brigade who subscribe to the oh so aptly named Yahoo Xtra.  

For those not living in NZ, Xtra is the country's largest ISP and it runs a daily news poll which they claim is an accurate indicator of public opinion, and Chris Kahui was charged with the murder of his twin baby sons, Chris and Cru in 2006. He was found not guilty in 2008 but Police said after the trial that they would not be looking for anyone else in connection with the murder  - in other words, they still think he did it.

In an extraordinary move earlier this year (2012) in an inquest into the twins' death, the Coroner pointed the finger of blame directly at Kahui. However, because no new evidence was available to the Coroner in arriving at his decision, Kahui is unlikely to be retried in a criminal court because of the double jeopardy principle.

Kahui is subject to controls, imposed by Child Youth and Family, on his contact with children. He has a daughter from a new relationship but he is not allowed to be alone with her. His challenge to these conditions is what the Yahoo Xtra poll referred to.

Christine Rankin, Child Advocate, Chief Executive of For the Sake of our Children Trust and former Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Work and Income said that alot of people in NZ think someone got away with murder and they are angry about that and think Kahui should never have anything to do with children. 

Unfortunately the sort of people Rankin is referring to often do not think, they suffer various forms and degrees of knee jerk reactions which deliver killer blows to even robust things like facts and logic. More delicate concepts like humanity and natural justice don't stand an earthly.

Ms Rankin is used to skirting the boundaries of what is acceptable conduct in a public servant and is sticking with her MO when she used her celebrity to promote Ian Wishart's new book about the Kahui case by urging all New Zealanders to read it.

Rankin was a controversial appointment to the Families Commission in 2009, with MP Peter Dunne being especially opposed to it because he said, Rankin is such a divisive figure.

The Trust, of which she is CEO, appears to be a politically neutral organisation but appearances can be deceptive. The Trust's website states that it believes 'every child is precious and entitled to safety, care, and access to health and education' and that 'strong families are the best environment for preventing child abuse and neglect'   In a foot note they clarify what they mean by a family - ie 'two parent homes consisting of a mother and a father'.

It's interesting how the modern nuclear family is offered up as the natural child rearing arrangement and no doubt any questioning of the ahistoricism or ideological nature of such claims would be met with outrage and counter accusations of PCness and left wing bias.

Of course this depiction of the monogamous, heterosexual, nuclear family and the 'strong communities' in which that family should be embedded is very precious to right wing 'think tank' The Maxim Institute. You remember the MI - got its knuckles rapped over plagiarism of articles written by 'conservative' organisations in the US - like the Heritage Foundation. 

The MI continues to maintain its close links with the Heritage Foundation the aims of which are: 'to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, indiviudal freedom, traditonal American values, and a strong national defence.' 

Like the Right in the USA, the Right here seeks to mobilise (aka exploit) the 'grass roots' by pushing its own profoundly political  agendas under the guise of 'common sense' and 'traditional values' and the establishment or support of what seem to be grass roots organisations like the Sensible Sentencing Trust.  

They are also busy on talk radio. Although there appears to be a balance of political opinion on talk radio it is in fact heavily biassed towards the Right, a fact which does not stop the Right from ritually attacking the 'liberal media'. 

In the US, the funding of influential Right Wing talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin by powerful Right Wing lobby groups is well documented.  

The Heritage Foundation (HF) sponsors schlock jock Rush Limbaugh who is the most listened to talk radio host in the US.  Limbaugh is responsible for coining phrases like 'feminazi' and is so over the top so often that sensible Republican strategists have spoken  about the need to 'muzzle' him. I can think of other things to do with him that involve leaky boats and deep water - preferably oil-polluted deep water.

"Obama's America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,' and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he's white." 

Welcome to Limbaugh's world.

The HF also sponsors schlock jock Sean Hannity who sagely opined 
'it doesn't say anywhere in the Constitution this idea of the separation of church and state.'  

I'd imagine that few of his listeners would register the hypocrisy inherent in his question 
'is the president purposefully using propaganda and hyperbole to garner the American public for support?' and his statement, 'why wouldn't anyone want to say the Pledge of Allegiance, unless they detested their own country or were ignorant of its greatness?'

But of course that's not propaganda or hyperbole - that's good old common-sense and traditional values.

Lawyer and talk show host Mark Levin has an endorsement deal with Americans for Prosperity which claims its aim is to educate citizens about economic policy and mobilize citizens as advocates in the public policy process. In pursuit of that aim it was instrumental in the emergence and promotion of the tea party and was a major player in the Republicans' take over of Congress in 2010.

Levin is a mate of Hannity and Limbaugh and no doubt they all spend a lot of time stroking each others egos which obviously require a lot of tactile stimulation to remain so inflated. Examples of Levin's wit and wisdom may be found in his analysis of the state - and for those who cannot be bothered wading through its verbose, ahistorical nonsense, there are such delights as 'Liberalism is mind-boggling and stupid'. Well, he would know quite a bit about mind boggling stupidity given he practices it on a daily basis.

Glenn Beck 
is another one who appeals directly to the Amygdala Brigade. 

"Not a single time have we gotten a right from Congress or from the President. We get them from God." 

Yes Glenn, of course we do. 

Would this be the same God who told George Bush Junior "to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them"? 

Beck has a sponsorship deal with FeedomWorks which originated in a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy that was set up by David Koch of Koch Industries.  CSE underwent a sort of political mitosis and one part became Americans for Prosperity and the other merged with Empower America and was renamed FreedomWorks

It might seem a loooong way from these charmers to Christine Rankin, Garth McVicar and whoever heads u
p the Maxim Institute these days but give them time and enough astroturf support and who knows? Meanwhile, here's  a collection of some of the thoughts of the American Taliban, all chronic sufferers of Over-active Amygdala Syndrome. 

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