Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hating Mexicans: The New American Pastime

As a descendant of immigrants, like most every American, I am thankful for much. To be sure, my prosperity came at the expense of this continent’s original occupants, and I am mindful of the theft, but as selfish as it sounds I am grateful there was something like this country for my German and Italian ancestors to come to, avoiding the fate of those two countries in the 20th century. The stereotypes against the early Italian arrivals were hardly complimentary. Most were seen as, “dirty,” “criminal,” “lazy,” and “swarthy.” The fact that many of the early gangsters in the US were of Italian ancestry did not help the cause.

Today, we are seeing a replay of these same stereotypes, except on a more massive scale. To be a Latino, especially someone from Mexico, today is almost like being a member of a marauding horde. Sounds crazy? Look at these quotes from popular radio host Michael Savage (a descendant of Eastern European Jews allowed into this country by a people much more tolerant than himself):

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"If I were more than one man--and I'm not, I'm only a radio host --I would organize a march this week where we would burn Mexican flags in the street. Then I would like to see how our hard-working brethren would react, our friends from the south. Let's see how they would react."

“If you study the history of human evolution, and I realize this is quite a jump, you will see that throughout history there were various species that arrived on planet Earth prior to homo sapiens, current man, modern man. And as one group came along, it displaced the previous group. We, the people, are being displaced by the people of Mexico. This is an invasion by any other name.”

“Twenty-nine percent of all inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens. No, Mr. Bush, they do not all come here to work, they do not all come here to work. They come here to work the system, sell drugs, rape, and kill on contract.”

http://mediamatters.org/items/200603310008
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Talk radio has always been a lightning rod for this type of bigotry. Back in the ‘90s, they were the angry white men worried about the federal government taking their guns and turning our Constitution over to the UN. Today, their new ZOG is Mexico. The saddest part is that Savage is not the only or even the most vitriolic of the bunch.

Here is talk show host Doug McIntyre about a Mexican-American school in Los Angeles that he took exception to.

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“[The administrator wants to] keep his school, his madrasa school, open so they can train the next generation of Aztec revolutionaries. Again, I want to make sure that we emphasize this: This school should close.”

“Aztecs butchered and ate Spanish invaders. I wonder if they're teaching that at ASDP.”

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20070419-0236-ca-schoollawsuit.html
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Here is radio host Brian James advocating the murder of Mexican immigrants who cross the border.

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“What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border,” James said in the March 8 broadcast. “Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun.”

He said he would be “happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope” and kill people as the cross the border. He also suggested that the National Guard shoot illegal immigrants and receive “$100 a head.”

http://www.hispanic.cc/kfyi_right-wing_radio_host_advocates_murdering_border_crossers.htm
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Here is right-wing talk show host Neal Boortz advocating the nuclear contamination of Mexico.

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“I already have received at least one brilliant email today about the immigration problem, because apparently out on the West Coast they're having a problem -- they're having some demonstrations over the disposal of nuclear waste. You know how the left loves to -- 'Ah, you're poisoning.' This person sent me an email, said when -- when we defeat this illegal alien amnesty bill and when we yank out the welcome mat and they all start going back to Mexico, as a going-away gift let's all give them a box of nuclear waste. Give 'em all a little nuclear waste and let 'em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell 'em it can -- it'll heat tortillas. Or something like that.”

“You see, folks, you need to take a problem like this, and you can combine several problems and come up with solutions just by combining them, can't you? I love it. I love it. OK, go home. Here is a lovely parting gift. A home tortilla warmer. Yeah, ‘Media Myrmidons’ will have that one by tomorrow.”

“I mean, it's clear. There is no intent to shut the border down. None. If there was, they [Congress] would do what the American people want them to do: pass a law, appropriate the money, and fund it -- to build a double fence along the Mexican border, and stop the damn invasion. I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. Let 'em. You know, then just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line, and somebody's gonna be a millionaire out of that. But there's no intent in this -- what, taco truck -- OK -- I gotta -- I gotta tell you why that's a -- back in a moment.”

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2106
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Amazingly, those are not even the worst statements. I deliberately do not listen to talk radio for a reason, but when I did recently I was surprised at the level of hatred vented towards Mexicans (I recall one local radio host this last year claiming we should just put IEDs from Iraq along the Mexican border).

The first question I ask myself, why is this happening? Historically, this is not unusual. When the Irish first arrived into this country in large numbers in the 19th century, it encouraged a nativist backlash, leading to the creation of the Know Nothing Party--designed for the sole purpose of expelling all Irish Catholic immigrants from the US. When Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Jews began immigrating to the US in large numbers in the late 19th century, it incited the eugenics movement, which purported to show that Anglo-Saxon peoples were racially superior to non-Anglo whites, as well as blacks and everyone else outside of the accepted group. This culminated in the racial immigration quotas (or the Immigration Act of 1924) implemented under President Calvin Coolidge, which installed a cap on allowing immigrants from non-Anglo backgrounds, particularly Jews, Slavs, and Italians. Those laws remained in place until after World War Two.

The targeting of Mexicans fall along the same lines, but there is one big difference. White people in the 19th and 20th century were never threatened with becoming an ethnic minority in America. There were never so many Jews, Poles, Russians, Irish, and Italians that they threatened the white race of this country. Indeed, over time, they were adopted into white circles following World War Two, when it became clear that the Eastern and Southern European immigrants were not going to perform ritualistic sacrifices on the blonde-haired, blue-eyed maidens.

The problem with Mexican immigrants, in the minds of those whites who are critical of their presence, is that they are much greater in numbers. There are more of them and they are right next door. They are not even European. They are also part of a wave that will contribute to the cumulative effect of making whites a numerical minority in this country by the middle part of the 21st century (for the first time since the early colonies nearly four centuries ago). This is why there is such a concentration on language, culture, and the loss of those norms by whites. To that extent, the hatred of Mexicans is much worse and potentially more dangerous than the historical antecedents of anti-Irish, Jewish, and Italian sentiments expressed over a century ago. Ireland, Israel, and Italy never had half of their countries invaded and annexed into the US.

Thus it is why even members of the intelligentsia, political scientists like Samuel Huntington, will write texts (a chapter from the Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity) dedicated to the proposition that the acceptance of Mexican immigration will inevitably lead to conflict and dissolution of the southwest to Mexico. It never occurs to people that the average Mexican has no concept of these ideas. They are coming here for much more practical reasons, like getting jobs, making money, and trying to provide for their families. Even amongst the less savory lot, there are no crime syndicates expressly seeking the destruction of the US. No, instead, Mr. Huntington, an Anglo-Protestant himself, expounds that the problem with Mexicans is that they are culturally incongruent to American society, because Hispanics are prone to have a “lack of ambition” (the “tomorrow” culture) and “acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entry into Heaven.” Those are the words of a man who is supposed to be one of the luminaries of my discipline.

Ultimately, whites are fighting a battle they will not win. Whether we like it or not, we will be a minority, regardless of whether we mine the entire border with Mexico. It is simply a matter of time. And how we behave will dictate our future relations with the people we dehumanize today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reason #2,142 Free Speech is a Myth on American Campuses

Contrary to the screeds of David Horowitz, the quickest way to get yourself prosecuted or thrown off a campus is not to be a right-wing racist (which Horowitz proudly flaunts when issuing collective invectives against Arabs and African Americans), but to be one of those brave souls who dares to challenge our government's foreign policy mandarins, many of whom support such wonderful and loving acts like dropping nuclear bombs on Iran. No, to give any verbal advise to a victim of slap-happy university fuzz (who spend about 95% of their time giving themselves carpel tunnel writing parking tickets), and you can face prosecution (on the condition you do not think like Mr. Horowitz when attending a campus speech given by believers in democratization through Tridents). Such has been the sad misfortune of Dr. Wilkerson in Ann Arbor (the home of the University of Michigan).

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Welcome to the Jackboot State, Ann Arbor Division

The Ordeal of Catherine Wilkerson, M.D.

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Welcome to the jackboot state, not to mention the jackboot campus, anno domini 2007. A doctor gives verbal advice to protect the life of an unconscious man and she duly gets hit with attempted felonies by vindictive campus cops, with the connivance of the University of Michigan. Jury selection for her trial starts on Monday in a county courthouse in Ann Arbor.

This case began with an on-campus talk about Iran last November 30 by Raymond Tanter, a former Reagan administration foreign policy advisor and nutball cofounder of the Committee on the Present Danger. More recently he's co-founder of the Iran Policy Committee. Tanter has said publicly on more than one occasion that nuking Iran wouldn't be a bad idea.

The audience at November 30 event was lively and contentious. On the campus that Columbia's Lee Bollinger once ran there's an elaborate policy about free speech, but those precepts were promptly flouted. As is now the fashion at many universities, the U of M campus guards are gun-toting goons who decided to wade in aggressively at the behest of the event's organizers.

Here's how Dr. Catherine Wilkerson described what happened next, on this site on March 13 of this year.

I heard a commotion in the hall and stepped out of the room. In the hall I saw the same huge cop on top of the second protester who'd come to the first victim's aid. The cop had the man, a relatively small guy in his forties, pinned down, arms pulled behind his back, getting handcuffed. The cop used PPCT against this person also, not once but twice. The man writhed and cried out in pain.

The cop used his far-greater strength and body weight, along with the force of his knee on his victim's back to press his chest against the floor. It would be impossible for a person to inflate his lungs pressed against the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back like that. Asphyxiation being a well-known cause of death of people in custody, when the man started calling out that he couldn't breathe, I approached, identified myself as a doctor, and instructed the cop to turn him over immediately. The victim went limp. The cop turned him onto his back. I saw that the victim had a wound on his forehead and blood in his nostrils. He was unconscious. Reiterating numerous times that I was a doctor, I tried to move to where I could assess the victim for breathing and a pulse. The cop shoved me, until finally, after my imploring him to allow me to render medical care to the victim, he allowed me to determine that the victim was alive. But he refused to remove the cuffs despite my requests. A person lying with hands cuffed beneath his body risks nerve damage to the extremities and, moreover, cannot be resuscitated. I continually re-assessed the man, who had now become my patient, and who remained unconscious.

Eventually an ambulance arrived, along with the fire department and a contingent of Ann Arbor police officers. While the paramedics went about their business, the first thing being to have the cop un-cuff the patient, I tried to fulfill my obligation to my patient. I tried to oversee what the paramedics were doing, which, contrary to protocol and the normal relationship between physician and paramedic, was all that I was allowed to do. I was forced to stay away. What I witnessed in the course of their treatment appalled me. When the patient didn't respond to a sternal rub, one of the paramedics popped an ammonia inhalant and thrust it beneath the patient's nostrils. If you're interested in what's wrong with that, google Dr. Bryan Bledsoe, foremost authority on paramedicine, and read his article condemning this dangerous practice. That it's "just bad medicine" is sufficient to make the paramedic's actions unacceptable, but what happened next made my blood curdle. He popped a second inhalant and a third, then cupped his hands over the patient's nostrils to heighten the noxious effect. "You don't like that, do you?" he said.

At that point I issued a direct medical order for him to stop, but he ignored me. "What you're doing is punitive," I said, "and has no efficacy." Then as the patient retched, rather than rolling him onto his side to avoid the chance of his choking on his own vomit, a firefighter held his feet down and yelled, "don't spit." In thirty years of doctoring, I have never witnessed such egregious maltreatment of a patient. Again I spoke up, "this is punitive." I hoped to shame the paramedical into stopping his unethical behavior."

Please note that at no point did Wilkerson do anything other than offer verbal advice.

The police--by now not just campus but also city cops were on the scene -- ordered her to leave. As she was doing so, a city cop seized her and put her under arrest. His superiors soon determined there were no grounds for arrest and she was released without having been handcuffed or requested to produce ID.

Wilkerson has made her career serving low-income patients. For the last 5 to 6 years she's worked at a community medical clinic. She takes the U.S. Constitution seriously and filed a complaint about the incident alleging police misconduct. It took seven weeks for the cops to answer the charges, which they did by the expedient of filing a report plump with mendacity about Wilkerson's conduct the night of the arrests. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor, Brian Mackie, at the apparent request of the UM police, charged her with two attempted felonies based on "attempted interference" with the police officer who had seized her.

Her attorney, civil rights lawyer Buck Davis, tells me that that county judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines recently threw out two subsequent charges, claiming that Wilkerson had tried to interfere with the campus police as well as the police officer.

This coming week Wilkerson faces jury trial at the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. Wilkerson's lawyers will bring in eyewitnesses to the events on November 30, 2006, plus expert witnesses including Brian Bledsoe, a Texas attorney who has testified in cases across the country on the use of ammonia. (Ammonia was involved in the death of Martin Lee Anderson at a juvenile 'boot camp' detention facility in Florida.)

Buck Davis tells me that "ten or fifteen years ago this case would have been a slam dunk, on First Amendment and medical privilege arguments, with no physical contact with the cops, all in liberal Ann Arbor." Wilkerson would have been swiftly acquitted.

"But now people are scared to death. They know the social system is falling apart. They no longer have a generous spirit. I've learned that the erosion of the economic and social fabric means people want to believe the cops. They're frightened. So I'm not as arrogant about 'slam dunk' cases as I once was."

The case will probably run all week, except Thursday. If you can, show up in court to support Catherine Wilkerson.

http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11242007.html
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It should be observed that Mr. Tanter is not just an ex-Reagan aide, and advocate of nuking Iran, as a means of eliminating its nuclear capabilities (as well as several million of its people), but is also a robust supporter of "regime change" of the Iranian government. To give him some credit, Tanter at least has a plan on how to do this, unlike the Muravchiks of the world (who seem to think that dropping a couple of bunker busters will do the trick). For Tanter, the US government should arm an anti-Iranian government terrorist group called the People's Muhahideen of Iran (or its acronym MEK/PMOI) to conduct cross-border attacks and formally invade Iran at our behest. The MEK is a self-described "Islamic socialist" organization, founded in 1965, on the twin principles near and dear to all neoconservatives, the Quran and Karl Marx. The group was suppressed after the Islamic revolution, even though the MEK initially supported Khomeini, before being sent into exile in France and eventually Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Apparently, the MEK is hard-up for cash and guns, and is now crawling to the American taxpayer for help, with the assistance of Raymond Tanter (who lobbies on the behalf of the MEK through the aforementioned Iran Policy Committee).

This is the one thing you have to love about America. We have the shortest memories of any nation. For those who want to support someone that deserves your time, this is the main site for Dr. Wilkerson's defense. This case is beyond outrageous, so like with the anti-hugging educators, I will take the unusual step of showing the lead prosecutor's contact information, so you can tell this fine public servant what you think of him. I am sure he would love to hear what you have to say. Presenting Mr. Mackie.

Prosecuting Attorney for Washtenaw County, Michigan
Brian L. Mackie
200 N. Main, 3rd floor
P.O. Box 8645
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Phone: 734-222-6620

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Empire's Whore: The Long March of Joshua Muravchik

Most neo-conservatives, like their Marxist forebears, have similar ways of expressing themselves, especially when they are calling for the new "liberation" by force of arms of their target of the hour. Usually, this includes invocations against the regime's "extremists," always compared to Hitler (for those who are old enough to remember, we even made the same comparison with Manuel Noriega), the state's "evil acts," requiring a bombing or invasion. Not infrequently, they will claim that failure to act will lead to greater harm to our security, our allies' security and, if all else fails, shows the lack of resolve on the part of anyone who disagrees (typically following by comparisons of the offending disbeliever to being an apologist for terrorism). Such is what passes for scholarship from Joshua Muravchik. Josh is a longtime propagandist from the American Enterprise Institute, and a leading advocate of the Trotskyite tactic of permanent revolution by means of cluster bombs. You see, when you advocate an invasion that turns into a disaster, the best way to confront its lessons is to expand the failure.

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Opposing view: Iranian bomb 'intolerable'

Tue Nov 20, 12:21 AM ET

By Joshua Muravchik

Our choice is stark. Accept Iran with an atom bomb or cripple its nuclear program by force. Nothing else will stop Tehran.

States rarely get talked out of instruments of power, especially notfanatic ones. China and Russia will veto sanctions that might reallybite, but those would not work anyway. Neither India nor Pakistanabandoned their bombs in response to sanctions. The ouster of Iran'shard-liners might change things, but under President MahmoudAhmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei, extremists seem morefirmly entrenched than a decade ago.

The dangers an Iranian bomb would present are intolerable. Iran is the pre-eminent sponsor of terrorism. Iranian weapons are responsible for a large share of U.S. casualties in Iraq. Our forces in Afghanistan have intercepted Iranian arms shipments to the Taliban. Argentina has indicted Iranian officials for blowing up a Buenos Aires Jewish center. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Tehran was behind Hamas' armed takeover of Gaza. Iran provides haven to fugitive leaders of al-Qaeda. The list goes on.

A nuclear attack by terrorists would be almost impossible to deter. Against whom would we threaten retaliation?

Iran also might launch a nuclear missile at Israel, which Ahmadinejad wants "wiped off the map." Israel could strike back, but so what? Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani boasted "the use of an atomic bomb against Israel would totally destroy Israel, while (the same) against the Islamic world would only cause damage." And he's the "moderate" alternative to Ahmadinejad.

Even without initiating an attack on us or an ally, Tehran would use its nuke as an umbrella over its drive to dominate the Middle East and beyond. Like Lenin and Hitler, Admadinejad has a grand vision. "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution ... will soon reach the entire world," he crows. Bolstered by nukes, Iran's aggressive ambitions would not be stopped without a big war.

Only strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities can forestall these terrible scenarios. This would not require a "declaration of war," an antiquated concept that has not been employed since World War II and rarely before. We would send no troops, conquer no land. Rather, we would act in pre-emptive self-defense.

At stake are supreme issues of national safety. The president alone, as Alexander Hamilton said, is positioned to operate with "decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch." Of course, Congress can block presidential action, but in this case, most members will be satisfied to stand clear and let the president do what must be done.

Joshua Muravchik is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20071120/cm_usatoday/opposingviewiranianbombintolerable;_ylt=Aqbqjqj1S.X3y6Xj7PhXKGqs0NUE
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Putting aside that fifteen out of the nineteen people who attacked the US on 9/11 came from our beloved ally Saudi Arabia, as well as bin Laden and virtually the entire leadership of al-Qaeda, not Iraq or Iran, I will assume Muravchik's argument on the legitimacy of the claim that Iran is really pursuing nuclear weapons (which under the circumstances, seeing how this country is filled with people like Muravchik, would actually be an argument for the Iranian government to attempt to obtain a nuclear bomb as a deterrence). In the entire opinion piece that Muravchik penned, notice, there is absolutely no analysis or scenario anticipation as the consequences of the attack he proposes. For that matter, there is no attempt to explain how such an attack would actually succeed, seeing how Iran's nuclear sites are all underground and dispersed in multiple locations (learning the lesson of the Iraqis, whose reactor was bombed by the Israelis in 1981).


What makes Muavchik's oversights all the more inexcusable is that he has a Ph.D in international studies from Georgetown (a program I am acquainted with). I know for a fact, since my degrees are in the same discipline, that you never go forward with any proposition without first testing the outcome and impact of the implementation of such a policy. These scenarios usually have between 5-7 outcomes, controlling for certain external, intervening variables. The most important of those considerations of an attack on Iran are twofold. One, the response in neighboring Iraq, where the US is heavily dependent on the cooperation of the Shia-led government under the spiritual leadership of al-Sistani, as well as the more militant Mahdi factions controlled by al-Sadr (whose militias stood down during the US counterinsurgency this past summer). How could it not occur to anyone that an attack, no matter how successful, will expose our position and our troops throughout Iraq? Two, the ideological and political consolidation such an attack would bring for the clerics and Admadinejad, who are in a precarious position in Iran (where the clerics and mullahs remain unpopular in a youth-oriented and more secular Persian culture).

I suppose if you did not care what the rest of the world thought, the latter objection would be of no consequence. After all, they are not Israelis or Americans. Nevertheless, there is no rationale for ignoring the first, the strategic and tactical exposure of our military forces in Iraq. This is not a fanciful perspective that I am purporting. It is common sense that anyone who pays attention could and should see. Save tell, how would Muravchik answer this quandary? A nuclear attack on Iran or even Iraq (after our troops were removed)? What are the alternatives under these circumstances? These questions are of importance because we have so tied ourselves conventionally to Iraq that we do not retain the resources to repel the Taliban in Afghanstian, not alone reasonably project our power, or the threat thereof, on Iran (who, after expanding their response to Muravchik's proposed attack by sponsoring and likely participating in attacks on our military positions inside of Iraq, would demand some type of retaliatory action). Would we have a military draft? Sadly, these are questions that go unanswered, because for Muravchick they are not worth writing about. The most vital aspects of the proposal are not even worth considering.

These omissions might make one wonder why it is so, but it should not. Like so many of his brethren at the American Enterprise Institute, Muravchik spent his youth in the 1960s as a part of the socialist and Marxist movements in this country. Needless to say, when the time came for Mr. Muravchik to answer the call, he was nowhere to be found. Indeed, he was an opponent of the Vietnam War, the one war he could have fought in to show his belief in American national security. It was only after he could afford to be a good capitalist (and was too old to fight) that he threw off his socialist chains and threw in his struggle against primitive accumulation to the side of the accumulators. Too old and educated to actually show he had something other than a college degree, Muravchik dedicated himself to the cause of bombing Third World countries with a glee (all under the guise of democracy, naturally). Accounting for Muravchik's upbringing, past, and his adulthood years spent advocating policies he never had the gumption to pursue (actually, steadfastly opposed) during his youth, which should illuminate on why the Kennedyesque advancement for making any sacrifices to "preemptively prevent" (oh, how that went so well with Iraq) another Middle Eastern country from obtaining nuclear weapons is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The details on what that price may entail when the policy blows up in our faces remains conspicuously absent from Muravchik's writings.

A perfect example of Muravchik's vague avoidance of the minutia of probable policy outcomes is the 2005 open letter he signed calling for a "radical increase" in our forces of at least 25,000 a year for the next seven years (meaning, we need to augment our military forces with 175,000 new troops). How are we to do this? Well, apparently, by magic, because nowhere in the letter does it entail how this is to be done. How can anyone that works as a scholar on these very issues not address the practical application of one's theoretical propositions? No, all that is needed, according to the church of democratization, is to drop a few bunker busters on the underground sites in Iran, assume they will completely debilitate Iran's nuclear capabilities, and worry about the outcome later, in which we are to fuzzily dedicate ourselves to another endless open commitment from the same crowd who claimed that Iraq was going to be a cakewalk. It is a long march for the ex-'60s leftists, indeed, from the streets, coffee shops, to the halls of power. Unfortunately, their reductivism and ideological observance over empirical reality remains the same.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Wages of Sin: Church Concubines and a Clear Mind

This should surprise no one who is used to the scandals over the past several years from the ranks of the clergy and certain members of Congress. Thus it is the price of feigned altruism, which is to say you are more likely to be a liar, cheat, and all around sanctimonious, self-rationalizing hypocrite.

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Do-gooders can become the worst cheats

Study: Sense of moral superiority might lead to rationalizing bad behavior

By Jeanna Bryner


Morally upstanding people are the do-gooders of society, right? Actually, a new study finds that a sense of moral superiority can lead to unethical acts, such as cheating. In fact, some of the best do-gooders can become the worst cheats.

Stop us if this sounds familiar.

When asked to describe themselves, most people typically will rattle off a list of physical features and activities (for example, "I do yoga" or "I'm a paralegal"). But some people have what scientists call a moral identity, in which the answer to the question would include phrases like "I am honest" and "I am a caring person."

Past research has suggested that people who describe themselves with words such as honest and generous are also more likely to engage in volunteer work and other socially responsible acts.

But often in life, the line between right and wrong becomes blurry, particularly when it comes to cheating on a test or in the workplace. For example, somebody could rationalize cheating on a test as a way of achieving their dream of becoming a doctor and helping people.

In the new study, detailed in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers find that when this line between right and wrong is ambiguous among people who think of themselves as having high moral standards, the do-gooders can become the worst of cheaters.

The results recall the seeming disconnect between the words and actions of folks like televangelist and fraud convict Jim Bakker or admitted meth-buyer Ted Haggard, former president of the National Evangelical Association, an umbrella group representing some 45,000 churches.

"The principle we uncovered is that when faced with a moral decision, those with a strong moral identity choose their fate (for good or for bad) and then the moral identity drives them to pursue that fate to the extreme," said researcher Scott Reynolds of the University of Washington Business School in Seattle. "So it makes sense that this principle would help explain what makes the greatest of saints and the foulest of hypocrites."

Why cheat? Why not?

Why would a person who thinks of himself as honest cheat? The researchers suggest an "ethical person" could view cheating as an OK thing to do, justifying the act as a means to a moral end.

As Reynolds put it: "If I cheat, then I'll get into graduate school, and if I get into graduate school, then I can become a doctor and think about all the people I'm going to help when I'm a doctor."

A competitive playing field, whether at a university or business, can also motivate cheating behaviors.

"Cheating is a way to get ahead in a competitive environment where there are rewards for winning or getting ahead of others," said Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the current study. "It seems like there is an increasing desire and expectation in our society to 'be the best.' "

Even if a person doesn't justify his unethical behaviors, "cheating can save lots of time and energy and take advantage of the knowledge and reasoning of others who are more adept, but could be disastrous if one is caught," Kruger said. He added, "I am not surprised that some of the extreme examples of cheating — ripping the relevant pages out of library books so other students cannot see them — happen in intensely competitive environments, law school in this example (of ripping out book pages)."

Cheating basics

Reynolds and University of Washington colleague Tara Ceranic surveyed about 230 college students with an average age of 21 who were enrolled in an upper-level business course. The survey measured moral identity with 12 questions about the importance of certain characteristics — such as generosity, willingness to work hard, honesty and compassion — and whether things like clothing, books, activities and friends were associated with the moral characteristics.

Students were also asked whether they had engaged in each of 13 cheating behaviors, including using cheat sheets (crib notes), copying from another student and turning in work completed by someone else.

Overall, cheating was rampant.

  • More than 90 percent reported having committed at least one of the 13 cheating behaviors.
  • More than 55 percent reported saying nothing when they had benefited from an instructor's grading error.
  • Nearly 50 percent reported having inappropriately collaborated on an individual assignment.
  • Nearly 42 percent indicated copying from another student during a test.

Students who scored high on moral identity and also considered cheating to be morally wrong were the least likely to cheat. In contrast, the worst cheaters were the "moral" students who considered cheating to be an ethically justifiable behavior in certain situations.

"If they think it's wrong, they'll never do it," Reynolds told LiveScience. "If they think it's OK, they do it in spades."

The researchers found similar results when they surveyed 290 managers, asking them whether they had engaged in 17 workplace "no-no's," including using company services for personal use, padding an expense account and taking longer than necessary to do a job. The managers with moral identities were also most likely to engage in the sketchy office behavior.

"When people have a strong moral identity, they think of themselves as great moral people, their behavior tends to go to the extremes," Reynolds said.

Cheat-proof tactics

In order to encourage students and managers to forego cheating in exchange for ethical behaviors, Reynolds suggests ethics education. Classes, newsletters and other means of communication should help organizations to communicate which behaviors are morally acceptable and which are not.

The old-school method of rewards and punishments could help. "We learn through rewards and punishments so to the extent that schools crack down when they need to crack down, we'd all be better off," Reynolds said.

For managers recruiting new employees, just because a person identifies himself or herself as honest doesn't mean they won't cut corners.

"If you can recruit people with a moral identity and then train them appropriately, you'll get some of the best behavior you can imagine," Reynolds said.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21820808/wid/11915773?GT1=10613

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For those who have been paying attention to the recent foibles of our Evangelical brothers and sisters, none of this is new. The most recent incarnation of this phenomenon is Evangelical leader Earl Paulk, pastor and bishop of the megachurch Chapel Hill Harvester Church in the heart of Jesusland, Decatur, Georgia. Ole Rev Paulk has made a living lying and fornicating virtually his entire ministerial career. When not telling us that we are going to burn in hell for our sins, he took to side projects like porking his interns, choir girls, and his brother's wife, ultimately impregnating the latter (who bore him a son, which until recently was considered the good pastor's nephew).

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Sex scandal hits Atlanta-area megachurch

By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press Writer Mon Nov 19, 4:09 PM ET

DECATUR, Ga. - The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.

Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

In truth, this is not the first — or even the second — sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.

"I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago.

D.E. Paulk said he did not learn the secret of his parentage until the paternity test. "I was disappointed, and I was surprised," he said.

Earl Paulk, his brother, Don, and his sister-in-law, Clariece, did not return calls for comment.

A judge ordered the test at the request of the Cobb County district attorney's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which are investigating Earl Paulk for possible perjury and false-swearing charges stemming from a lawsuit.

The archbishop, his brother and the church are being sued by former church employee Mona Brewer, who says Earl Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation. Earl Paulk admitted to the affair in front of the church last January.

In a 2006 deposition stemming from the lawsuit, the archbishop said under oath that the only woman he had ever had sex with outside of his marriage was Brewer. But the paternity test said otherwise.

So far no charges have been filed against Earl Paulk. District Attorney Pat Head and GBI spokesman John Bankhead would not comment.

The shocking results of the paternity test are speeding up a transformation already under way in the church after more than a decade of sex scandals and lawsuits involving the Paulks, D.E. Paulk said.

"It was a necessary evil to bring us back to a God-consciousness," said the younger Paulk, explaining that the church had become too personality-driven and prone to pastor worship.

The flashy megachurch began in 1960 with just a few dozen members in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. Now, it is in the suburbs on a 100-acre expanse, a collection of buildings surrounding a neo-Gothic cathedral.

For years the church was at the forefront of many social movements — admitting black members in the 1960s, ordaining women and opening its doors to gays.

At its peak in the early 1990s, it claimed about 10,000 members and 24 pastors and was a media powerhouse. By soliciting tithes of 10 percent from each member's income, the church was able to build a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry and a $12 million sanctuary the size of a fortress.

Today, though, membership is down to about 1,500, the church has 18 pastors, most of them volunteers, and the Bible college and TV ministry have shuttered — a downturn blamed largely on complaints about the alleged sexual transgressions of the elder Paulks.

In 1992, a church member claimed she was pressured into a sexual relationship with Don Paulk. Other women also claimed they had been coerced into sex with Earl Paulk and other members of the church's administration.

The church countered with a $24 million libel suit against seven former church members. The lawsuit was later dropped.

Jan Royston, who left the church in 1992, started an online support group for former members to discuss their crushed faith and hurt feelings.

"This is a cult. And you escape from a cult," she said. "We all escaped."

These days, Earl Paulk has a much-reduced role at the cathedral, giving 10-minute lectures as part of Sunday morning worship each week.

"My uncle is 100 percent guilty, but his accusers are guilty as well," D.E. Paulk said, declining to talk further about the lawsuits.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071119/ap_on_re_us/preacher_paternity_1
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For the readers who know the Bible, there is a Biblical precedent for this type of behavior. There was the Old Testament's Lot, who survived (if one believes in any of this) the sulfur at Sodom and Gomorrah, only to be inebriated and raped by his daughters (who thought after the destruction of the cities that the earth had come to an end, they were the last survivors, and needed to repopulate the earth). From this act, Lot bore himself two sons, who were also his grandchildren (sounds like a nice episode for Jerry Springer).

Then there was the story of Judah and Tamar. Judah was the founder of the ancient Israeli tribe of Judah, and he also was an incestuous stooge, getting busy with his daughter-in-law Tamar (who initially tricked Judah into the relationship by pretending to be a prostitute [you see, in the Bible, it is OK to act this way, so long as you think you are with a hooker]). According to the text, when Judah "confessed" his guilt over knocking up his daughter-in-law, God, Yahweh, or Whoever, became so impressed by Judah's sincerity that he not only forgave Judah but rewarded him with his own tribe and guaranteed he would have his "share in the future world." Knock up your daughter-in-law, while thinking you are with a prostitute, and go to heaven. Is it any wonder why Reverend Paulk behaved the way he did?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Lash for Rape Victim

One of my biggest problems with organized religion, other than the ideological brainwashing, and the fact it is usually an ideational front for the most violent and reactionary elements of our species, is the manner in which it dehumanizes women. Women have always been the greatest threat to organized religion, because the population depends on their wombs for our reproduction. This is why every major religion, at least those that are more than a thousand years old, tends to view women as breeding cattle (and why they prescribe gender roles, with women typically playing that of the obedient hausfrau).

I have always had a dichotomous attitude about Islam, because I am inclined against criticizing religions that are not a part of my own heritage (although it is a religion I have spent my entire adult life studying and nearly was the subject of my dissertation many moons ago). In addition, I am aware, more so than most non-Muslims, that Islam receives some unfair depictions in the West, particularly when it comes to terrorism (it would surprise people to know the Quran commands Muslims, even in war, never to kill civilians). Be that as it may, its attitude towards women is no better than the Book of Genesis after The Fall and Original Sin. In Saudi Arabia, the oldest, sustained Islamic state in existence, being an unrelated female while raped is a crime.


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Saudi Court Ups Punishment for Gang Rape Victim

(CNN)-- A court in Saudi Arabia increased the punishment for a gang-rape victim after her lawyer won an appeal of the sentence for the rapists, the lawyer told CNN.

The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs. The seven rapists, who abducted the pair and raped both, received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison.

The victim's attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, contested the rapists' sentence, contending there is a fatwa, or edict under Islamic law, that considers such crimes Hiraba (sinful violent crime) and the punishment should be death.

"After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants," al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. "However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim's sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes."

The judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media," according to a source quoted by Arab News, an English-language Middle Eastern daily newspaper.

Judge Saad al-Muhanna from the Qatif General Court also barred al-Lahim from defending his client and revoked his law license, al-Lahim said. The attorney has been ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Justice next month.

Al-Lahim said he is appealing the decision to bar him from representing the victim and has a meeting with Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh on Monday.

"Currently she doesn't have a lawyer, and I feel they're doing this to isolate her and deprive her from her basic rights," al-Lahim said. "We will not accept this judgment and I'll do my best to continue representing her because justice needs to take place."

Al-Lahim said he wanted the Justice Ministry to take "a very clear standing" on the case, saying the decision is "judicial mutiny against reform that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz started and against Saudi women who are being victimized because of such decisions."

Women are subject to numerous restrictions in Saudi Arabia, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and the need for a man's permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote.

The Saudi government recently has taken some steps toward bettering the situation of women in the kingdom, including the establishment earlier this year of special courts to handle domestic abuse cases, adoption of a new labor law that addresses working women's rights, and creation of a human rights commission.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/17/saudi.rape.victim/index.html
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And remember, this is the country we choose to be allies with, a friend in the Arab world in our "war on terror," including the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq (an Iraq which was until 2003 an expressly non-Islamic state that would have reserved its punishment for the gang rapists, instead of beating the victim). This is also the home of fifteen out of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, as well as virtually the entire leadership of al-Qaeda (including bin Laden and almost half of the foreign fighters that migrate to Iraq to martyr themselves at the expense of our soldiers). I guess even "friends" like these are of little worry, when you need their oil.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Church to Flock: Vote the Tissue


Whenever I think of why I so despise the church of my parentage and youth, this story exemplifies it. It is impossible on these Vatican declarations to not notice that there is a gaping hole in addressing the issue of allowing its priests to rape little boys, or the fate of bishops like Bernard Law (who continues to be in hiding, protected at the Vatican by his boy toy Pope), who permitted his priests to rape and molest children without fear of recrimination or punishment. No, it is all about life, namely, of the fetus (of which none of these priests are ideally supposed to be responsible for creating anyway). And if you do not vote on this issue the way our friendly bishops tell us, supposedly, your soul will be in danger.

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Catholic bishops instruct voters

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer 2 hours, 6 minutes ago

BALTIMORE - Roman Catholics voting in the 2008 elections must heed church teaching when deciding which candidates and policies to support, U.S. bishops said Wednesday.

And while the church recognizes the importance of a wide range of issues — from war to immigration to poverty — fighting abortion should be a priority, the bishops said.

"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the bishops said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly adopted the statement, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," as they ended the public sessions of their fall meeting.

The document does not recommend specific laws or candidates, and it emphasizes that "principled debate" is needed to decide which policies best promote the common good.

But "that does not make (moral issues) optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore church teaching," the bishops said.

American bishops have been releasing similar recommendations for Catholics before every presidential election since 1976. However, in recent years, some independent Catholics groups have been distributing their own voter booklets.

Among them are Priests for Life and California-based Catholic Answers, which distributed material on five "nonnegotiable" issues: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which formed last year, issued a guide emphasizing church teachings on war, poverty and social justice.

But the bishops urged Catholics to only use voter resources approved by the church.

The document makes clear the broad concerns in Catholic teaching that make it difficult for parishioners to feel fully comfortable with either the Democrats or Republicans.

The bishops say helping the poor should be a top priority in government, providing health care, taking in refugees and protecting the rights of workers, and the bishops highlight the need for environmental protection.

However, they also oppose same-sex marriage, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, in addition to their staunch anti-abortion position.

The prelates say torture is "always wrong" and they express "serious moral concerns" about "preventive use of military force." But at the last minute Wednesday, they added a sentence acknowledging "the continuing threat of fanatical extremism and global terror."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071114/ap_on_re_us/catholic_bishops
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To give you a better idea of the hypocrisy of the organization, in 2002 this same US Conference of Catholic Bishops responded to the pedophile sex scandals of their pro-life priests by passing a resolution called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. In this charter, you are not allowed to have a priest de-frocked after molesting children. The priest can be "removed" from ministerial duties, but is offered (at the expense of the Church and the laity that subsidizes them) "professional treatment" for their child-diddling ways. That is because they are Christians and believe in forgiveness and love, even for child rapists.

These are the same people who then turn around and tell me that I will burn in hell if I ever wear a condom while in the act of enjoyment with a spouse. The process of life creation cannot be interfered with, explaining the Church's view on such matters, including masturbation. Not surprisingly, starting this process while in the throes with children during the commission of priestly orders is inconspicuously absent. I suppose the kids just had it coming. And now I must vote their way based almost exclusively on the issue of abortion. These same men, who probably would not know what to do with a woman if one ever had the notion to try to be in the act of enjoyment with them, are going to dictate my afterlife status on whether or not I vote for opponents of abortion (i.e., Republicans).

What will be most interesting is to see what happens if Rudy Giuliani receives the Republican nomination for the Presidency. It goes without saying that our boyfriends from the USCCB will never endorse Hillary Clinton, but what about a GOP ticket with a pro-choice candidate and anti-choice running mate (such as, say, Mike Huckabee)? Will they forget their principles, like they did their inhibitions with the altar boys, and tell us that Almighty God wants us to temper our vote on future potential Supreme Court nominees? I suppose time will tell.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time for a Poem

One of the ways I relieve my time is to write poetry. I wrote this one not too long ago (for all of my religious friends). In the same tradition as Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts from SNL, enjoy:

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Mighty God

Oh, what a mighty God we serve
What a mighty God we serve.
Killin’ n’ destroyin,’
floodin’ n’ burnin.’
What a mighty God we serve.
He gave us all his love,
you see.
If you don’t accept,
you’ll die.
Rot in hell for eternity,
if you reject his son,
you see.
What a lovey God we serve.

© TA (aka, moi)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Drug Ed, the Chinese Way

In between all of this talk about the kids getting sick after sucking on Aqua Dots, we forget the irony in the recent tainted toys scandal from China--this time with the properties that go into GHB. The oddity of all this is that if you are caught dealing or possessing large amounts of elicit drugs in the PRC (and GHB is on the list), you can be executed (typically with a hallow tip bullet to the head). This is the price you pay when the owners (i.e., the stockholders and executives) of your affluent society no longer want to pay the bills for the first world country they live in.

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Toys linked to a date-rape drug recalled

Mom describes 48 hours of 'horror' after her toddler ingested Aqua Dots

updated 1:25 p.m. ET, Thurs., Nov. 8, 2007

WASHINGTON - A mother said Thursday she knew something was terribly wrong when her 20-month-old son began to stumble and started vomiting. He had just ingested a popular toy that contains a chemical that turns into a powerful “date rape” drug when eaten.

It was the latest Chinese-made toy pulled from shelves in North America.

Shelby Esses, 30, said her son Jacob fell and went limp after getting into his older sister’s Aqua Dots set, which was recalled Wednesday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“That’s when we knew what he had eaten and that things were pretty bad,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Aqua Dots, a highly popular holiday toy sold by Australia-based Moose Enterprises, are beads that can be arranged into designs and fused when sprayed with water. The toy was pulled from shelves in North American and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into the so-called date rape drug when eaten. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

Scientists say a chemical coating on the beads can metabolize into the drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound — made from common and easily available ingredients — can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Dr. Matt Jaeger, of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, treated Jacob and said he was very worried when he saw him.

“It was pretty dramatic,” he told ABC. “He was unconscious in this coma for about six hours. And then over the course of just a few minutes, went from being completely asleep to wide awake and playing like nothing ever happened.”

Before the toddler was released from the hospital, his military pilot father crawled around his Jacksonville home, near Little Rock, making sure every Aqua Dot was gone. Buying the toy, popular this Christmas season, turned into a 48-hour “horror” for the toddler and his family, they said.

Meanwhile, toy sets seized in Hong Kong were being tested Thursday, a customs official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of policy. If the tests come back positive for the chemical, suppliers in Hong Kong could face a year in jail and fines of $12,877, she said.

A spokeswoman for the CPSC said Thursday that parents should keep the toy out of children’s’ hands.

“If a child ingests them the glue turns into a toxic substance and it’s very serious,” Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the CPSC, said on CBS’ “Early Show.” “We want parents very much to heed this warning.”

Vallese said two U.S. children had fallen into “comatose” conditions from the Aqua Dots. The children have since recovered, she said.

In Australia, the toys were ordered off store shelves Tuesday when officials learned that a 2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were hospitalized after swallowing the beads. A 19-month-old toddler also was being treated.

China’s toy industry came under closer scrutiny earlier this year when Mattel Inc. recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide. Products including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars were pulled off shelves because of concerns about lead paint or tiny detachable magnets that could be swallowed.

Aqua Dots, which are called Bindeez in Australia, were named toy of the year at an industry function in that country.

Retailer Toys “R” Us Inc. said it issued a “stop sale” on the entire Spin Master Aqua Dots product line Tuesday in its North American stores and on its Web site. “We understand that Spin Master and U.S. regulatory authorities are investigating this product and we have asked Spin Master to fully explain what it believes happened,” it said.

Toys “R” Us also pulled the toys in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia after officials in Australia ordered them off shelves.

A company spokeswoman for Moose Enterprises’ Hong Kong office said the production of the toy was outsourced to a mainland Chinese factory. She refused to elaborate and referred all further requests for comment to the company’s head office in Australia.

“Our Hong Kong office is only responsible for operations such as logistics and shipping arrangements, we don’t have any firsthand information,” the employee, who would only give her surname, Lo, told The Associated Press.

Moose Enterprises said Bindeez and Aqua Dots are made at the same factory, which is in Shenzhen in southern Guangdong province. Last week, the government announced an export ban on more than 700 toy factories in the region because of shoddy products.

The company said the product is distributed in 40 countries.

The toys were supposed to use 1,5-pentanediol, a nontoxic compound found in glue, but instead contained the harmful 1,4-butanediol, which is widely used in cleaners and plastics.

The Food and Drug Administration in 1999 declared the chemical a Class I Health Hazard, meaning it can cause life-threatening harm.

Both chemicals are manufactured in China and elsewhere, including by major multinational companies, and are also marketed over the Internet.

It’s not clear why 1,4-butanediol was substituted. However, there is a significant difference in price between the two chemicals. The Chinese online trading platform ChemNet China lists the price of 1,4 butanediol at between about $1,350-$2,800 per metric ton, while the price for 1,5-pentanediol is about $9,700 per metric ton.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21678196/
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It is easy to blame China for all of this, but remember these toys are being made at the behest of Western investors and companies, who relocated/subcontracted in China primarily because of its decreased cost to overhead (and fewer regulations on their businesses and/or subsidiaries that produce, manufacture and/or distribute their products). Not only that, it is wrong to insinuate that this is across the board for every product or industry in China (the textile industry is certainly worse than, say, high tech or financial services). Still, this is not the only industry with quality control difficulties. Here is the Chery Automobile company's top-of-the-line product (and its crash test results in Europe); this first one tested was nearly imported in the US a year ago (before the Chinese government smartly nixed the proposal).







For those in the know, Chery is the standard for mediocrity in the Chinese automobile industry (sort of like where the American auto companies were in terms of quality back in the 1970s), but this illustrates the limitations and weaknesses of Chinese economic growth, particularly for those who think the US is going to be replaced by the PRC as the next world's superpower. I cannot count the number of times I purchased locally-made products during my trips and studies in China, only to find out that they were either fake or diluted (everything from phone cards that contained a quarter of the advertised minutes to alcohol that tasted like mouth wash). It is not the case for most products (well over 90% are perfectly legitimate), but when you run into enough counterfeit or damaged goods, you start to become more guarded about your purchases.

We sometimes ignore the history and have to be reminded that newly industrializing countries are not quality havens, at first. In the US, American steel in the 19th century was considered inferior to the steel being produced in Europe at that time. In the 1960s and '70s, cars from Japan were considered second and third rate products that you could never rely on. The same applied with exported products from South Korea in the 1980s. It typically takes at least a generation or so for a developing economic late comer to advance in terms of quality in its products that is on par with industry and consumer standards in the US. Until then, or until Mattel decides to start making its toys elsewhere (or having US customs officials oversee manufacturing operations in the PRC), which of course will never happen, we are going to be periodically treated to such instances.