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Monthly Archives: July 2013

John Wayne, Socrates and Me!

July 31st, 2013 - 11:46 am

I was pleased the other day to receive a copy of Rick Johnson’s new book in the mail:  A Man in the Making:  Strategies to Help Your Son Succeed in Life. I was also honored to find myself quoted in the book’s frontispiece — especially honored since my quote was there with two others, one from Socrates and one from John Wayne. Now I’ll go toe to toe with Socrates any day, but Wayne? That’s pretty impressive company. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Rick, but I emailed him to say I was so flattered that I was going to spend the next few days wearing a toga and a cowboy hat. Until, you know, the wife started to complain.

Rick is the founder of Better Dads, a program to teach fathering skills and advocate for more and stronger fathers in the home. He’s written a number of books, and travels through North America lecturing on manhood and its positive effects on the home. It’s an urgent subject, and a difficult one.

Manhood is a very tough thing to talk about because an essential part of manhood is not talking about it — but not talking about it leaves the field open to the rabid leftist feminists who all but monopolize the field of psychology. These often well-meaning clownettes take it as given that masculinity is a Bad Thing. Despite the massive amount of information showing the damaging effects on children of not having a strong father in the home, they continue to both preach and practice against the beneficent power of manhood and against the urgency of fatherhood. A man who sought individual or couples counseling from one of these Knucklehead Girls would, I believe, find them quite insidious and damaging.

Guys like Rick provide a needed voice of opposition — a needed voice for men. Rick’s point of view is a Christian one — something with which you may or may not disagree — but his main point about the desperate necessity of good, strong fathering is indisputable.

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Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

The Sad Fate of Democrat Women

July 28th, 2013 - 7:05 am

“I’m for abortion and free birth control!”

It’s always a little galling (not to mention hilarious) for those of us on the right to reflect that the Democratic Party — the party of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and family-destroying social programs — the party of Detroit, New Orleans, Newark, and Baltimore — the party that facilitates a black abortion rate that would bring a smile to the face of Planned Parenthood’s genocidally racist founder — has somehow managed to sell itself to African Americans as the friend of black people!

But it’s beginning to be equally galling (and equally comic) to reflect that the Democrats have also contrived to present themselves as the party of women.

This is the party whose most powerful senator left his probable mistress to drown after a car accident; the party whose most popular living president is a serial philanderer and accused rapist; the party whose most prominent woman rose to that prominence by virtue of her stand-by-your-man loyalty to a louse; and now the party of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, two men who have humiliated their wives with truly creepy behavior and yet seek to continue their political careers regardless.

We all make mistakes and it’s not that the GOP hasn’t got its share of sexual shenanigans, but the Republican establishment doesn’t routinely make excuses for its recidivist miscreants or make icons of their victimized spouses. The Dems…? They seem to think their political agenda somehow excuses their personal behavior. I joked on the Ricochet podcast last week that the party’s new slogan should be, ”Women — We Treat You Like Dirt, But At Least You Can Kill Your Unborn Children!”

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Reclaiming California

July 25th, 2013 - 7:06 am

If California were not paradise, it would be empty. This great and beautiful state has been so badly governed for so long, it is on the brink of creative stagnancy and economic ruin. Fortunately, some brilliant folks at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal have excellent ideas on how the state can be saved. Watch this video, featuring many brilliant people (and me), then buy The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It, featuring essays by many brilliant people. And me.

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In the wake of the Zimmerman-Martin case, Attorney General and Corrupt Political Hack Eric Holder has taken aim at Stand Your Ground laws because they had nothing to do with the Zimmerman-Martin case but are a distraction from the issue of racism, which also had nothing to do with it.  So… that makes sense.

Stand Your Ground laws allow a person to defend himself against attack without evading the attacker, running away, begging for mercy or freeing prisoners from Guantanamo so they can return to the battlefield. Without Stand Your Ground laws if, just for instance, a teenager trained in mixed martial arts techniques and stoned on cough syrup and watermelon soda found himself smashing your head into the pavement for some reason, you would not be allowed to rush to judgement and automatically take this amiss just because the attacker happened to be African American. Instead, you would be required to say something like, “Excuse me, young man. Pardon me. I say, I understand your people have suffered from discrimination, but would you mind terribly not smashing my head into the pavement?” If he refused and went on to kill you, you would then be permitted to come back to life and shoot him.

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President Barack Obama has already increased our national debt somewhere between five and six trillion dollars and shows no sign of stopping. Maybe that’s why women clutch their purses when he gets in an elevator.

Or, who knows, maybe it’s because he’s black.

I mean, United States Attorney General and corrupt political hack Eric Holder has called for a “national conversation” on race, and hey, that’s exactly how I like to spend my weekends, but shouldn’t we ask some questions first so we’re all sure we’re talking about the same things?

For instance, President Obama said, “If I’d had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Now I assume when he said that he meant “he’d look like Trayvon except for the private school uniform my son would be wearing,” but leaving that aside — why is it important that Trayvon looked like the son Obama never had, but not important that he looked like the people who were committing acts of vandalism in George Zimmerman’s neighborhood? Why is it okay for the president to make assumptions and generalizations based on skin color, but not the rest of us?

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Save Our Celebrities!

July 18th, 2013 - 7:41 am
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With everything going on in the news these days — I mean, didn’t Jennifer Aniston recently get a haircut or something? — this seems like a goofy thing to get annoyed about, but I have to confess it got to me. I saw this originally on Big Hollywood: Tom Cruise’s ex-wife Katie Holmes was walking with her 7-year-old daughter Suri and they were surrounded by paparazzi. And Suri both rightly and kind of cutely was telling these photog thugs to get out of her way and one of them — a grown man — started calling the child names! Another more human photographer tries to remonstrate with this lowlife — but the guy insists he’s in the right! Watch the video — I’m not making this up. The pap doubles down, explaining that no, the 7-year-old actually deserves to be catcalled and by golly he’s just the he-man to do the job! So help me, I’ll retire to Bedlam.

Hey, no one can accuse this blog of being soft on celebrities, but I’ve never subscribed to this idea that just because someone desires to win renown he therefore sacrifices every ounce of his privacy. I know we can’t really restrict the actions of photographers without compromising our First Amendment rights, but is it too much to ask we be allowed to tie them up in canvas sacks and toss them into the Hudson River? Or maybe with Eric Holder re-examining Stand Your Ground laws (for some reason), we might look into extending the meaning of self-defense to include confrontations between the rich and famous and these annoying lens-termites. We could even make special categories for those particularly afflicted. For instance, whereas someone like Tom Hanks — not usually hunted by swarms of paps — could only open fire on one when actually being hounded, someone like Angelina Jolie would be allowed to break into a photographer’s home, creep into his bedroom and smother him in his sleep without facing any legal consequences.

All right, I said it was silly. But really, how far do you have to sink before you start screaming insults at children? Yuck-o.

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Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

Journalism Beneath Contempt

July 16th, 2013 - 2:46 pm

The Democratic Party is a machine for inciting grievances in order to consolidate its power. The Republican Party is also just such a machine, but poorly run. Incompetence and stupidity are its only saving graces. Journalists who cast a hostile and suspicious eye equally on both would be…  well, they would be journalists, wouldn’t they? How can you suspect the stratagems of those who seek power and go far wrong?

Instead, what we have in our news media is a cabal of over-educated but under-smart elites under the hilarious impression that one power-hungry party is out for the good of mankind and the other staunchly opposed. It’s such a stupid thing to think — such a blitheringly naive proposition — that reacting to them with outrage seems almost unkind, like slapping a child for believing in Santa Claus.

And yet one feels one has to say something. Take a look at the mighty John Nolte’s timeline of journalistic lies about the Zimmerman-Martin affair. From CNN falsely attributing a racial slur to Zimmerman, to NBC’s actionable editing of audio to make Zimmerman seem racist, to the New York Times‘ invention of a unique racial category (white Hispanic) useful for nothing but the ginning up of public hostility, there is a childlike insistence that the world be as Democrats claim it is, rather than as it really is, a willing suspension of disbelief in a political distortion. It really is so infantile that it would be kind of sweet and silly if it weren’t so dangerous. I mean, it’s all fun and games until somebody puts out an eye — or burns down a city.

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The Call

July 12th, 2013 - 5:30 am

I’m in New York for the International Thriller Writers ThrillerFest. My Young Adult novel If We Survive is nominated for best YA Thriller of the year. I won’t have time to post while I’m gone, so I’ll leave behind some mini-reviews:

Brad Anderson wins my award for most bad films by a really, really talented director. His best film — his one good film — is The Machinist, a small but powerful ghost story. It probably would’ve been a bigger hit if star Christian Bale hadn’t starved himself for it, making it difficult to watch. His first film Session 9, also a small ghost story, is okay.

On TV, he directs episodes of classy shows like The Wire and The Killing so you know he’s good. But his movies are either just-misses or worse. Which is a shame. The guy definitely has the chops to do much, much better. And while you never know who’s responsible for what goes wrong (or right) in a movie, there’s a quality about all of Anderson’s films that makes me suspect he just won’t let a story tell itself.

The Call, for instance, is built to be a riveting, unpretentious programmer. That’s its Buddha Nature. It can be that, or something worse, there’s no third choice. Halle Berry is her usual appealing movie star self as a 911 operator who blows a call and then has a chance to redeem herself when a teenaged girl is kidnapped and calls for help. For an hour of its hour-and-a-half running time, it’s as exciting as any thriller you’ve seen in a while. Just a phone call on film, nothing else, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense.

Then it falls off the table, dropping faster and faster into crapiness until it reaches terminal velocity in a final two minutes that are so bad they’re nearly hilarious. Spoiler alert here — I didn’t mind a few coincidences in the beginning. I was even willing to follow along through some of the late-in-the-day implausibility that followed the wrong but typical decision to “open the story up” when it should’ve stayed on the phone. But really, whose bright idea was it to turn our lovable and identifiable heroine into a sadistic, vengeful monster in the final scene? Doesn’t matter. Anderson’s the director. He should have stopped it. It’s an awful storytelling choice. Kills the picture dead.

Anderson has the talent to make powerful, thrilling pictures, but so far, he hasn’t come through. My suggestion here: Watch The Call for an hour, then turn it off and write your own ending. It can’t be any worse.

New York’s Creep-Off Election

July 11th, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Here’s me in City Journal on the Weiner-Spitzer affair in NYC:

It’s never a good idea to judge another person’s sexual peccadilloes too harshly. Illicit sex is a crime for which, given the opportunity, all of us have the motive. Thus today’s fire-and-brimstone preacher of morality is often tomorrow’s guy-arrested-in-a-Motel-6-handcuffed-to-a-male-stripper. Better to follow the great wisdom of the West in these matters: let he that is without sin—namely no one—cast the first stone. Or, if you prefer Shakespeare: “Shame to him whose cruel striking/kills for faults of his own liking.”

Having said all that: What kind of creep-fest are New Yorkers staging this election, for crying out loud? As I’m hearing it out on the West Coast, the lead candidate for mayor is a guy who tweeted pictures of his dingus to various women and then publicly lied about it, and the comptroller race is between a whoremonger and the madam who supplied him. Really? The YMCA used to have a slogan: “Character counts.” In New York from now on, you ought to add, “For nothing.”

Read the rest here.

Side Effects

July 10th, 2013 - 5:30 am

I’m off to New York for the International Thriller Writers ThrillerFest. My Young Adult novel If We Survive is nominated for best YA Thriller of the year. I won’t have time to post while I’m gone, so I’ll leave behind some mini-reviews:

Side Effects — Watch this. It’s good. Steven Soderbergh returns to his semi-mockumentary Contagion mode to deliver what we only slowly realize is a thriller in the classic vein. The picture is wonderfully acted, most especially by Jude Law, who delivers a subtly flawless performance as a subtly flawed man. Law has been getting better and better and he’s just terrific in this. Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones fill out a fine cast.

The story tells of a shrink (Law), who prescribes an anti-depressant for a troubled patient only to find it has some very dangerous side effects — to tell more would be to give the game away. But Law’s character is so well drawn that we’re not sure whether he’s the hero or the villain or something in between until a wonderfully low key moment in which his integrity is tested. In keeping with Soderbergh’s style, the moment passes virtually without comment. You have to be paying attention to realize what Law did and what it means about him. So pay attention.

But the whole picture’s like that. Quiet, intense, smart. And it happens to deal with a subject that’s a real pet peeve of mine: the over-prescription of anti-depressants. The way these things work: doctors discover that depression involves a certain action in the brain and that, in a small number of people, this action happens more or less without cause. That is, it’s an illness. They cure that illness with a drug then, slowly, begin expanding the drug’s use until it’s prescribed to just about anyone who’s every felt sad for twenty minutes in a row. It’s a disgusting and abusive practice and has reduced a large segment of the psychiatric profession to the level of street drug dealers. Again, I’m not saying the drugs have no appropriate uses; I’m saying they’re way, way, way overused.

The movie captures some of the machinations behind that, but most importantly, it tells a good story about interesting people. A very solid thriller. Really worth a look.