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The PJ Tatler


Bookworm is a writer living in Marin, California. Her personal blog is Bookworm Room.
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The Democrats’ birth control games add another parasite to the lexicon

Saturday, March 10th, 2012 - by Bookworm

Blood Fluke:  Parasitic trematode flatworm found primarily in Southeast Asia, North Africa, and other tropical areas. The blood fluke lives primarily in the tiny blood vessels of the intestines.  People infected with blood flukes become weakened and can die either as a direct result of the blood fluke or because it renders them incapable of fighting against other endemic diseases.

Liver Fluke:  Parasitic trematode flatworm that infects the livers of a variety of animals, including humans.  Another name for a liver fluke infestation is “rot.”  Liver fluke infestation causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and, eventually, liver cirrhosis, with all that cirrhosis entails.

Lung Fluke:  Parasitic trematode flatworm that infects human lungs.  In the lungs, it causes causes chronic bronchitis and may result in coughing up blood.  If it migrates to the spine, it can cause paralysis, and if it migrates to the heart or the brain, death results.

Sandra Fluke:  Parasitic leftist agent that infects educational institutions and the body politic.  Operates by demanding large financial subsidies for personal behaviors that provide no return benefit to the educational institutions or the state.  Organisms that sustain serious infections by these leftist parasites routinely suffer complete system failures, evidenced by political bankruptcy, rioting in the streets, and potential societal collapse.

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Another Light Went Out : Milblogger Neptunus Lex Died Yesterday

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 - by Bookworm

One of my friends nailed it:  “I hate, hate, hate this year.”  He said that because, in the middle of the nastiest circular firing squad imaginable, the good guys are dying.  The latest casualty is Neptunus Lex — real name Captain Carroll LeFon, USN (retired) — who died yesterday.

Those who followed Neptunus Lex know that we’ve lost one of the best and brightest bloggers, a man distinguished by wit, erudition, a knowledge base that was both broad and deep, and a ferocious and funny intelligence.  Please take a minute to remember someone who made both the conservative and milblog blogospheres brighter and richer places.

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Amy Tan and the Mental Rot of Liberalism

Monday, March 5th, 2012 - by Bookworm

Amy Tan burst onto the literary scene in 1989 with the publication of The Joy Luck Club, a novel that followed four Chinese-born mothers and their American-born daughters in San Francisco.  It was a lovely book at many levels:  Tan’s prose was lean and elegant, her characters were interesting, and the juxtaposition of old-world mothers and new-world daughters was fascinating.  Tan deserved her overnight fame.

Tans subsequent novels were less interesting and appealed to a smaller audience.  None of them, though, indicated that Tan would fall prey to the sudden onset of liberal dementia, complete with all that the disease entails:  vicious personal attacks, random obscenities, self-referential emotionalism in lieu of logic, and myriad factual misrepresentations.

Tan’s slide started with a little offensive word play:

Who among us are friends? I did a check of mutual friends and the candidates. I have 9 FB friends who like Rigid Sanctimonious. 34 like Nude Grinch, 85 like Mutt Raunchy, and 76 like Rump Pale. 1,375 of my FB friends like Barack Obama. Now that the political season is upon us, and my posts are getting more vituperative, I have a feeling some of my FB friends will be defriending me. Vote with your click!

The above certainly isn’t elegant, but I’m not going to castigate her for doodling around with politicians’ names.  After all, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin do the same.  The difference, of course, is that their word play makes sense, insofar as the names they call certain Democrats tie in with traits those Democrats display, whereas Tan is simultaneously vulgar and meaningless.  After all, whatever else one says about Romney, he’s not “Raunchy.”  And what in the world does “Rump Pale” have to do with Ron Paul?  If you’re going to be crude, at least be clever.

The word play was just a small sign of things to come.  Tan’s sudden slide from good writing and rational thought truly began when some people challenged her simplistic word play.  Here, verbatim, is Tan’s Facebook outburst in defense of the silly names she visited upon Republicans:

To those who criticize my perversion of the GOP candidates’ names, please know that name-calling is not my usual standard of response. Nor do I normally use expletives. But I make exceptions. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a line-up of candidates who want to pervert the lives of women, who want to f**k them over every which way they can think of. These perverts are men, and variously they are telling us that single women should not have sex, should not use contraceptives, should consider a baby conceived from a rape to be a blessing, and to leave all matters concerning their uterus to them. They say that contraceptives for women make it too easy for them to “do things.” They do not offer the same opinions on men and their tendencies to “do things.” Their rhetoric makes it sound like women are wanton spirits who must be controlled. I am a writer because I have strong opinions. Those opinions on women’s rights come from my grandmother, who was raped, and my mother, who was raped at gunpoint by her husband, and who was jailed when she ran away from him. My mother told me as a child and a grownup, that no one should ever tell me whether I should have a baby. How could I be any other kind of writer, any other kind of person? How could I not protest the perversion of women’s rights espouses by these candidates? The twisted names I give them may sound “hurtful” –as name-calling is. But the hurt they would give us would not be temporary slights, but permanent scars. This country is not divided because of Obama. It has been divided for a long time by the Republican Right who vote down the line on personal moral beliefs. They are out of touch with the the actual governance of this country and its relation to the larger world. Would these candidates cut off relations with China until China abolishes the one-child policy? I was born the daughter of a Baptist minister. I know how intractable religious beliefs are supposed to be, how by faith, you must carry those beliefs into the world, into all walks of life, without compromise, without listening to any other opinions. By that faith, you save who you can and smite who you can’t. To these GOP candidates who want to rule government by the divine guidance of their cocks, study the pages of history on the Inquisition and the Holocaust, and keep your hands off me, my nieces, my sisters, my women friends, their daughters and their daughters to come.

It’s amazing how political madness makes one transition instantly from elegant writer to verbal vomiter.  Deconstructing Tan’s rant requires way too much energy.  The pertinent point is that, so far as I know, none of the Republicans candidates have said that they would use the federal government to prevent single women from having sex or to ban contraceptives.  They have all suggested or stated outright that a sexually permissive society has serious downsides for women and children.  All have stated a commitment to fetal life.  And all have argued that the Obama administration is violating the First Amendment’s promise of religious freedom when it mandates that people and institutions that are morally and doctrinal opposed to contraception and abortion must nevertheless fund the cost of contraceptives and abortifacients.

Tan’s hysterical claim that Republicans insist that “babies conceived in rape are a blessing” is equally off base insofar as it posits that Republicans at large, and the presidential candidates specifically, approve of rape.  More accurately, certain Republicans do believe that the way in which a child is conceived should not determine whether it deserves to live or die.  The conditions of its conception should not be a death sentence.   Compared to Tan’s vapid inaccuracy, that’s a very different — and eminently valid — way of looking at a pregnancy born of rape.

It’s sad when a once good writer goes off the rails.  Perhaps Tan will one day find her way back because, as a writer, when she’s good, she’s very, very good.  Sadly, though, when she’s bad, she’s horrid.

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A picture about alleged Western Hypocrisy when it comes to burqas highlights the stupidity and ignorance of moral relativism

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 - by Bookworm

This picture is making its way around Facebook:

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the alleged hypocrisy that the picture highlights is the fact that Westerners castigate Muslim modest dressing, while being comfortable and non-judgmental when it comes to equally modest clothes on Christian or Jewish women.

Of course, what the person who made this image fails to understand is that all modest clothes are not created equal. In Christian and Orthodox Jewish communities, modest clothing is voluntary.  Nuns don their habit when they take their vows as brides of Christ.  Orthodox women, if they decide as adults not to accept the orthodox lifestyle, can leave the community without fear of death or other physical abuse. Neither Christians nor Jews force those who are not members of the community to don these clothes. And of course, the faithful in Christian or Jewish communities do not throw acid upon, beat, rape, or kill those who deviate from modest fashions, whether those who deviate are members of the community or outsiders.  (The exception, so far as I know, is a single ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem that verbally harasses women, throws dirt and rocks at them, and tries to keep them in the back of the bus. The larger Israeli culture condemns them roundly and soundly).

Having briefly summarized the Christian and Orthodox Jewish approach to modest clothes for women, let me introduce you to the way in which the Muslim community, worldwide, imposes its modest dress code upon women:

In Saudi Arabia, modest dress is required by law. The morality police take their job very seriously.  A few years ago, school girls who tried to escape from a burning building were forced back into the flames lest the men on the street be offended by the sight of their uncovered flesh.  Fifteen girls died.

In Iran, where modest dress is also required by law, women whose dress deviates from legal standards are subject to fines and other punishments, including whipping.

Chechnya requires that all women wear “modest” dress and, showing its enlightenment, attacks them with paint balls rather than whips if they fall afoul of the legal dress code.

In Sweden, Muslim men consider Swedish women fair game for rape and other physical abuse because they do not wear the burqa. Sweden is now the rape capital of Europe. The same trend holds true in Norway, where every single reported rape in 2010 came at the hands of Muslim men who wanted Norwegian women to understand that, if they left the house without a hijab or burqa, they were fair game. Travel to the Southern Hemisphere, and you’ll see the same pattern in Australia. Western girls — i.e., girls who don’t hew to Muslim modesty standards — don’t fair well at Muslim hands in England either.

In other words, while the Facebook image makes it seem as if the West is viewing Muslim women with hostility for embracing clothes remarkably similar to those worn by Christians and Jews, the opposite is true. Western standards are consistent (even in Europe): women can wear what they please, whether modest or less so. It is only in the Muslim world, including Muslim enclaves in the West, that women, any and all women, Muslim or not, are denied any choice in clothing and are punished harshly for deviating from these religiously imposed clothing standards.

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Rich Southern California University Teaches Nascent Social Workers Class Warfare and Law-Breaking

Friday, February 10th, 2012 - by Bookworm

The University of Southern California (“USC”), an expensive private university in Los Angeles, used to rejoice in the nickname “University of Spoiled Children.”  I’m happy to report (my tone is dryly sarcastic as I write this) that the University is doing its best to ensure that the spoiled rich kids who walk through its luxuriously appointed halls don’t forget that they are, in fact, predators who must be taught to relate to poor people on Marxist terms.  At least, that’s the case with the kids who are attending USC’s graduate School of Social Work.

It turns out that being a social worker no longer involves simply ensuring that children in the most unstable communities or homes are safe; working to make sure that those same children can do well in school, so as to break free of the snare of poverty; and generally ensuring that poverty in America does not mean starvation, chronic homelessness, or physically abusive situations.  (And yes, I know that this is a very abbreviated description of what social workers do, but it does provide a baseline.)

Nowadays, being a social worker means, among other things, learning how to protect illegal immigrants from facing the consequences of the laws they’ve broken.  It also means being able to recognize the gradations of social, sexual, economic, genetic, gender, race, nationality, legal status, etc., differences amongst those don’t rank amongst the evil, white, rich members of the 1%.

I’m not kidding.

Here is the agenda for the USC School of Social Work’s mandatory “All School Day,” which takes place next week:

All School Day: Do I Look Illegal?

USC School of Social Work

Thursday, February 16, 2012, 8:15am to 11:59pm

University Park Campus
Bovard Auditorium (ADM)



All School Day was initiated after Los Angeles’ 1992 civil unrest resulted in acts of lawbreaking compounded by existing racial tensions.

Since then, social work students, faculty and community leaders have gathered each year to celebrate diversity through an exchange of ideas and to learn how to better communicate across differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, social class and disability. This year, we look at the implications of immigration reform on civil liberties and the social work profession. Several states have passed local immigration reform acts aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants. The laws make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime, and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally simply based on appearance. Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status. The National Association of Social Workers strongly opposes such laws, which criminalize immigrants, endanger human rights and threaten the civil liberties of citizens and immigrants. The current political context of immigration makes the job of social workers much harder. We must present a united front to ensure equal protection from discrimination for all immigrants who come to live in the United States.To do nothing is to ignore the core of who we are and what our profession stands for.

Keynote Speakers

  • Gil Cedillo, California state assembly member
  • Manuel Pastor, professor of American studies and ethnicity at USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences


  • Niels Frenzen, clinical professor of law at USC Gould School of Law
  • Ange-Marie Hancock, associate professor of political science and gender studies at USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Angelica Salas, director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles

Incidentally, a year as full-time student at the USC School of Social Work will run you a little more that $42,000.

Is it any surprise that Barack Obama, who is the head of the American Diversity Racket, decided that, when he recognizes the troops who served in Iraq, he will invite to the White House only those who meet political correctness criteria, without any apparent regard for the actual merits of their time overseas?

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Somehow I doubt that “this really happened” — or at least it didn’t happen in the last 60 years

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 - by Bookworm

My liberal friends tend to march in lockstep on the “real me” Facebook page, with all of them excitedly posting the same story or news report. Today, five of my friends posted the following, each time preceding it with the ALL CAPS announcement that “this is a true story”:

A 50-something year old white woman arrived at her seat and saw that the passenger next to her was a black man.

Visibly furious, she called the air hostess.

“What’s the problem, ma?” the hostess asked her

“Can’t you see?” the lady said – “I was given a seat next to a black man. I can’t seat here next to him. You have to change my seat”

- “Please, calm down, ma” – said the hostess “Unfortunately, all the seats are occupied, but I’m still going to check if we have any.”

The hostess left and returned some minutes later.

“Madam, as I told you, there isn’t any empty seat in this class- economy class. But I spoke to the captain and he confirmed that there isn’t any empty seats in the economy class. We only have seats in the first class.”

And before the woman said anything, the hostess continued

“Look, it is unusual for our company to allow a passenger from the economy class change to the first class. However, given the circumstances, the commandant thinks that it would be a scandal to make a passenger travel sat next to an unpleasant person.”

And turning to the black man, the hostess said:

“Which means, Sir, if you would be so nice to pack your handbag, we have reserved you a seat in the first class…”

And all the passengers nearby, who were shocked to see the scene started applauding, some standing on their feet.”


I’m against racism, but I do not feel compelled to share this story. As it happens, contrary to the ALL CAPS announcement at the head of the little essay, I do not believe that, in 2012, or 2011, or 20-anything, “a 50-something year old white woman” was “visibly furious” that she “was given a seat next to a black man.” Even Obama’s grandmother wouldn’t have done that. I mean, maybe, just maybe, back in 1954, on a short-hop flight from Mississippi to Alabama in 1954, it’s conceivable that a middle-aged white woman might have displayed the kind of open aggression. Except that black people weren’t welcome on planes back then. Never mind.

In the here and now, the likelihood of this story being true is, perhaps, 0.0001%. The only thing that’s true about this story is that it is racist, in that it is a surprisingly vicious attack against middle-aged white ladies. I take it personally, and am trying to figure out which government agency to approach so that I can file a formal complaint against Facebook for hosting blatantly false and racist material.  I’m sure the Eric Holder Justice Department will be behind me all the way.

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Liberal totalitarians carve out a niche for marijuana smoke

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 - by Bookworm

Sometimes you read a news article that perfectly encapsulates a certain mindset.  When I read in today’s Marin Independent Journal about the soon-to-be enacted anti-smoking ordinance — one that excludes marijuana and herbal cigarettes — I thought to myself “That’s it!  That’s the perfect example of Progressive totalitarianism nicely packaged with the usual dollop of hypocrisy.”  Here’s the story:

Marin’s war on smoking was blunted Tuesday as a measure cracking down on tobacco and other “weed” was sent back for revision to make clear the crackdown does not include marijuana.

Although supervisors were in agreement with the policy when county staff last month asserted an ordinance outlawing smoking in unincorporated-area apartments included marijuana and other herbs as well as tobacco, the county board Tuesday abruptly called for revisions making clear tobacco was the only weed at issue.

The move came at the urging of Supervisor Kate Sears, who called for changes in ordinance language defining smoking as puffing “tobacco, weed, spices, herbal or other plant life” to make clear only tobacco products were involved.


The county law, modeled on a strict anti-smoking measure in Larkspur, outlaws smoking in private indoor spaces including balconies, carports, decks and common areas; requires landlords to set up “smoking permitted” areas; requires existing apartment complexes to be 80 percent smoke free and new complexes to be smoke free. Landlords and condominium boards could seek exemptions for up to 20 percent of units, which would then be grouped in a “smoking section.”


The law would be enforced by county health officials and violators could be fined $100 and/or five days of community service. A second violation would generate a $300 fine and/or 10 days of service, and a third violation within one year, $700 and/or 15 days of community service.

When asked why she made the exception, Sears said that marijuana is already illegal.  Of course, as Sears well knows, the fact that it’s illegal doesn’t stop anyone from smoking it.  Her answer strikes me as somewhat ingenuous.  After all, goal behind the law is to protect third parties from smoke, so that it shouldn’t matter whether the smoke is generated legally or illegally in order to achieve that goal.  Indeed, one of the supervisors, Susan Adams, understood this, since she “expressed concern about those who inhale second-hand marijuana smoke….”

I happen to loath the smell of tobacco smoke.  I’ll do anything to avoid it, and happen to benefit a great deal from the ever-increasing number of non-smoking laws.  Having said that, I still find disturbing a mindset that thinks it’s appropriate to dictate to people what they can do in their own homes if they’re unlucky enough to rent, not own.

These kinds of prohibitions are a bizarre form of redlining, one that bans poor people (who, in Marin, are more likely to be renters) from an activity in which richer people can freely engage.  More than that, this kind of policing strikes me as hypocritical when it comes from the very same people who routinely lambast conservatives for trying to impose control over people’s private lives.

Naturally, this kind of “liberal fascism,” to use H.G. Well’s peculiarly infelicitous phrase, is par for the course here in liberal Marin, which only recently banned grocery stores from offering their customers plastic bags and that forces them to charge for paper bags.  What makes the above story so delightful to those of us who enjoy the ethical tangles in which Progressives manage to trap themselves is the way in which marijuana gets thrown into the mix.

There’s good evidence that marijuana use is just as damaging, in its own way, as tobacco use — but marijuana, unlike tobacco, is a counter culture drug.  It therefore comes complete with the politically correct stamp of approval.  The net result is that Marin’s poor people are barred from engaging in Dangerous Behavior “A” because it’s associated with capitalism (i.e., Big Tobacco) while they’re free, under Marin ordinances, if not under criminal law, to engage in equally Dangerous Behavior “B”, because it comes under the pop culture/counter culture rubric.  Likewise, third parties in Marin will now be relieved from the burden of inhaling politically incorrect second-hand tobacco smoke, but must still suffer the hardship of inhaling hip, politically approved second-hand marijuana smoke.

Stories such as this one remind me that one of the best things about leaving liberalism behind is the fact that I no longer have to grapple daily with the cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy that is an integral part of the “liberal” mindset.

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Whether you’re 14, 19 or 90, you can defend your home against armed intruders

Friday, January 6th, 2012 - by Bookworm

For the past few days, the internet has been buzzing about two amazing self-defense stories, each involving young people.  The first to hit the wires was the story of 19-year old Sarah McKinley.

On Christmas Day, McKinley’s 58-year old husband died of cancer, leaving her alone with their three month old baby.  When two knife-wielding men attempted to break into her home to steal her late husband’s painkillers, McKinley grabbed her guns, called 911, and asked for help.  In a polite colloquy with the 911 operator, McKinley asked if it was okay to shoot the intruders if law enforcement, which was still several minutes away, didn’t arrive in time.  The operator said McKinley, who fortunately lives in a state giving homeowners the right to armed self-defense, could do what she needed to do to protect her baby.  McKinley did just that:

‘When I saw him come in, I saw something flash in his hand. I told 911 I was going to shoot and I did. And he just fell over the couch.

‘When someone breaks into your house with a deadly weapon, they aren’t here for anything good,’ she said, holding baby Justin on her lap.


She said that though the shooting was justified, it was by no means an easy decision to make.

‘It was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn’t going to be my son,’ she said. She added: ‘There’s nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child.’

As if that story of true grit (not the Hollywood kind, but the true kind) wasn’t enough, it turned out that shortly before, a 14-year old boy killed one of four armed home intruders.  He too engaged in a polite conversation with a 911 operator who could only promise that local law enforcement was on the way:

In the North Carolina incident, police said the 14-year-old and his sister were at home in the rural town of Henderson when four men tried to break into the house.


Investigators released a 911 call with the teen calmly describing how he shot the intruder.

In the call, the teen, says: ‘I just shot the man. He came around the corner. I shot him. He broke the whole glass out (of the back door).’

He continues: ‘I don’t know how many it was (who broke in). Just one came around the corner. I got one more in the chamber. I’m going to shoot again,’ the boy said.

‘Do not, while I’m on the phone, do not fire that firearm, OK?’ the dispatcher says

‘What if another one comes in the house, ma’am?’ he asked.

‘Let me know, OK, if you see anybody. I will let you know (when a deputy gets to the house),’ the dispatcher responded.

As the boy and his sister waited for deputies to arrive, he told the dispatcher that he was ‘perfectly fine’, but his sister was ‘really shaken up’.

I’m now happy to report that the young’uns aren’t the only ones taking to arms to defend themselves against home intruders.  In Marin County (yes, blue, blue Marin County), a 90-year old man ended up in a shoot-out with a career criminal who broke into his home and held him at gunpoint.  Unlike the teens, who fortunately did not suffer any physical injuries, Jay Leone took a gunshot to the face.  He still was in better shape, though, than 30-year old Samuel Joseph Cutrufelli, who is now the proud owner of three new bullet holes in his body:

The shooting occurred at about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday at Leone’s two-story home at 300 Via La Cumbre. Police said Cutrufelli entered Leone’s home, detained him at gunpoint and searched the residence for property.

Leone, a former member of the Marin County sheriff’s air patrol, was able to get one of several guns in his home and shot the suspect. The suspect shot Leone and fled in a car, police said.

Leone called 911 from his house, and Cutrufelli called 911 after stopping his car just over the San Rafael border. Cutrufelli said he had shot himself and needed medical attention, police said.


Cutrufelli’s criminal history in Marin includes a 2001 attempted murder charge for stabbing a pedestrian numerous times during a confrontation in Novato. He pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to a six-year prison term.

Burglars beware.  Americans are armed and they’re not afraid to defend themselves and their homes.

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The Many Ironies of a “Modest Swimwear” Advertisement

Thursday, January 5th, 2012 - by Bookworm

I’m not a fan of extremely revealing or tight clothing. Even in my younger days, when I could get away with it, it wasn’t my style. There’s something to be said for a little mystery and a lot of class. Nevertheless, an ad for “modest swimwear” managed to make my eyeballs pop a little:

The first funny thing to strike me is the fact that, thanks to the way computer algorithms process words, an ad for full coverage swimwear — something aimed primarily at the Muslim market — ended up on a Commentary Magazine blog post that talks about the repression that too often goes with mandatory hijabs in Muslim countries.

The second funny thing is that the models used are remarkably non-Muslim looking. And yes, I know that “Muslim” is not a racial classification, but demographically it trends towards non-blondes.  These models, however, look as if they come from the little known Northern European Muslim demographic.

And the third funny thing is that the ad company went overboard with Photoshopping to make the models skinny. The women in the black suit has a right arm so skeletal she looks mortally ill, while the woman in the maroon suit has stick thighs and a bizarrely large head. We know that this type of digitized airbrushing is routinely done with models stripped down to their skivvies, but there’s something ludicrous about seeing the same tactic applied to models wearing clothes that could comfortably have appeared in a Victorian fashion magazine:

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If you’re on Facebook, please take a minute to report a truly vile page

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 - by Bookworm

The truly vile page I referenced in my post title is Hundred Million Person Hate Israel. Thankfully, so far it’s only got 30,000 people (out of a 100,000,000 goal) “liking” this incitement to destructive antisemitism, but cancers like this shouldn’t be allowed to grow.

If you have a Facebook page, you can report the site by clicking the above link, which will take you to the page. On the far left hand side of the page, near the bottom, you’ll see a link saying “Report Page.” Click on the link and go for it. I submitted two reports on the page, one for anti-religious hate speech and one for racial/ethnic hate speech.

Also, if you scroll down the left hand side of the page, you’ll see two more related hate sites, one in French, and one directed against Zionism. Feel free to zap those too.

Once you’ve reported the page, please ask your friends to do the same.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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The entertainment industry once again shows its callous disregard for America’s military

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 - by Bookworm

Back in 2004, entirely coincidentally, I ended up at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the same morning that veterans of the Battle of the Bulge had gathered for a reunion. Some got there under their own steam. Many, though, were on walkers or in wheelchairs. They were so frail. And so many were weeping. It was that weeping that did me in. I seldom cry on my own behalf, but I’m a sympathy weeper. Watching these old, fragile warriors break down under the weight of their memories got my tear ducts working overtime. I still get watery thinking of those men who not only fought one of the most important battles of the war, but who then came home and honored the dead by living. They had families, held jobs, and generally gave meaning to the freedom for which they fought.

I mention this little story because there are people out there, especially in the entertainment world, and more specifically on the set of Hawaii Five-O, who do not share my reverence for these aged warriors (free registration required):

Last week, a special group of Americans made a trip to Hawaii. This was not their first trip to Hawaii. In fact, the first time all of these men were together in Hawaii was on December 7th, 1941.

Last week, these men and some of their families were back in Hawaii again for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Today, less than ten percent of those who served during World War II are still alive.

For the men who made this trip, there was also another tacit acknowledgement. This would be their last trip. The average age of a Pearl Harbor [veteran] is in the early nineties. In fact, there are now so few Pearl Harbor survivors left that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of the month.

On December 9th, 24 Pacific veterans, including 23 Pearl Harbor survivors were taken to the National Cemetery of the Pacific for a memorial ceremony honoring those who fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who fell during the Pacific campaign.

While the men were at the cemetery, the TV show Hawaii Five-O was filming at the cemetery. As the National Anthem was played and the ceremony went on, the CBS production crew was filming. At first they told the veterans and their families to hush, then repeatedly pushed them back and finally told them to hurry up. As the veterans were laying roses on the graves of their fallen comrades, a production employee walked through the middle of the ceremony telling them to hurry up.

Perhaps the ultimate insult came at the end, when someone with the veterans group asked if one of the cast members of Hawaii Five-O could come over and say hello to the group. The production crew refused.

These World War II vets are a tough bunch. They went through the first depression and then the Second World War. I can guarantee you they did not let this incident ruin their trip, though some of their family members might feel differently.


CBS has issued a carefully nuanced statement claiming they would look into the incident and throwing out some boilerplate language about how they respect the veterans of World War II.

Stefffan Tubbs, who was there, provides more details about the Hollywood thought process on display:

I decided to take a closer look at the production area from the public thoroughfare and walked closer to see catering trucks, grips, associate directors, production assistants, lighting workers, countless minions and the lead director – a Hollywood-looking middle-aged man wearing a black “AD/HD” t-shirt, a play off the rock band “AC/DC.” I stopped well behind the cameras and out of view when a local production assistant politely told me to keep moving. I was not happy and told her we had WWII vets who would likely be in the area. I was told, “Sorry, sir. We rented this part of the cemetery today.” My blood started to boil, but I remained calm and moved on. As I stood behind the tent, the director yelled at everyone to: “Get out of the line of sight! If you don’t belong here, clear out!”

I made sure to go where I was basically invisible, 40 yards from the nearest camera when the director heatedly walked to me. He was not happy.

“Can you please move?” he said sternly.

“OK,” I said. “Where would you like me to go? I have Pearl survivors who are here visiting their fallen comrades at a public cemetery.”

He couldn’t have cared less and told me that if we stood behind a tent, that would be fine. He walked away completely frustrated and yelled at a local assistant: “I am doing YOUR job! You wanna come back here again? Do your job!” I felt sorry for her. It wasn’t her fault a group of vets actually came back for a realreason to this cemetery. Having been around a few movie sets, I knew this was how they were especially if the scene was behind schedule, etc. Keep in mind at this point I was alone. It wasn’t as if our entire entourage was milling about. There was only one veteran anywhere near me and was walking toward me from up the road.

Walter Maciejowski, 90, from Massachusetts soon caught up and I quickly tried to run interference so he wouldn’t get yelled at as he stood there in his cream-colored Pearl Harbor Survivors cap. Walter was clueless and was just amazed at the technology. He whispered in my ear as the scene was about to begin 75 yards away. We both stood exactly where the director had told me to stand.


I told Walter we had to go, and we started to walk away as lead actor Alex O’Laughlin and Terry O’Quinn from Lost did their scene. As we moved out, yet another woman came up to us and with a fake smile told us Walter couldn’t take any pictures.

“Our actors get very skiddish [sic] around still cameras, sir.”

“Funny, and yet they act in front of them,” I said, ticked off because we were already leaving.

I wish he hadn’t done it, but Walter asked if they by chance had a hat for him. To his face, she said, “I doubt it but I will try.” She never did.

You can read the rest of this eyewitness narrative here.

This whole thing falls into the category of I see it, but I don’t believe it. It’s impossible for me to understand the mindset of louts who are either so callously self-involved or so Progressively propagandized (or both) that they are unable to support old men on a last pilgrimage to a defining moment in their youth — a defining moment, moreover, that was not only one of the more savage acts in a savage century, but that also paved the way for a freedom that blessed Europe (until it squandered that gift) and was the making of a very successful modern Japan (which then decided to stop having babies).

Pearl Harbor Survivor David Shoup at the 70th anniversary commemoration at Pearl Harbor (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico)

Incidentally, a friend of mine who watches television points out that Hawaii Five-O is fairly military-friendly in content, something that I respect and appreciate. I can’t figure out if that fact makes the cast’s and crew’s behavior at Pearl Harbor more or less unpleasant. It’s like discovering the worms under a rock (with all due respect to bookworms, of course). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Back in Hollywood’s golden days, the studios employed vast numbers of publicity people to make sure that people didn’t learn that the stars of wholesome, family friendly movies lived somewhat debauched lifestyles.

It’s important to add here that one of my readers, who works in the industry, believes that there are extenuating circumstances that don’t necessarily give a big pass to what happened at Pearl Harbor, but that do explain what might have happened there.  Absent more information, we probably should give both CBS and Hawaii Five-O the benefit of the doubt.

Hat tip: America’s First Sergeant

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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My mother’s war, courtesy of Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 - by Bookworm

My mother’s heading to the hospital again today. She’s not aging gracefully, in large part because of the damage done to her body and soul during WWII. I thought that this would be a good day for me to reprint what I once wrote about her war (originally part of this longer post about Japanese atrocities).

In 1941, my mother was a 17 year old Dutch girl living in Java. Life was good then. Although the war was raging in Europe, and Holland had long been under Nazi occupation, the colonies were still outside the theater of war. The colonial Dutch therefore were able to enjoy the traditional perks of the Empire, with lovely homes, tended by cheap Indonesian labor. All that changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil. Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky. Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.

In the beginning, things didn’t look so bad. The Japanese immediately set about concentrating the civilian population by moving people into group housing, but that was tolerable. The next step, however, was to remove all the men, and any boys who weren’t actually small children. (Wait, I misspoke. The next step was the slaughter of household pets — dogs and cats — which was accomplished by picking them up by their hind legs and smashing their heads against walls and trees.)

After this separation, the men and women remained completely segregated for the remainder of the war. The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did. Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.

One of my mother’s friends discovered, at war’s end, that her husband had been decapitated. This is what it looked like when the Japanese decapitated a prisoner (the prisoner in this case being an Australian airman):

Japanese execution0001

The women were not decapitated, but they were subjected to terrible tortures. After the men were taken away, the women and children were loaded in trucks and taken to various camps. The truck rides were torturous. The women and children were packed into the trucks, with no food, no water, no toilet, facilities, and no shade, and traveled for hours in the steamy equatorial heat.

Once in camp, the women were given small shelves to sleep on (about 24 inches across), row after row, like sardines. They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.

There were other indignities. One of the camp commandants believed himself to have “moon madness.” Whenever there was a full moon, he gave himself license to seek out the prisoners and torture those who took his fancy. He liked to use knives. He was the only Japanese camp commandant in Java who was executed after the war for war crimes.

Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease. Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end. Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food. If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week. My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it. Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.

By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.

Starvation wasn’t the only problem. Due to malnourishment and lack of proper protection, my mother had beriberi, two different types of malaria (so as one fever ebbed, the other flowed), tuberculosis, and dysentery. At the beginning of the internment, the Japanese were providing some primitive medical care for some of these ailments. As the war ground on, of course, there was no medicine for any of these maladies. She survived because she was young and strong. Others didn’t.

So yes, the Japanese were different. They approached war — and especially civilian populations — with a brutality equaled only by the Germans. War is brutal, and individual soldiers can do terrible things, but the fact remains that American troops and the American government, even when they made mistakes (and the Japanese internment in American was one of those mistakes) never engaged in the kind of systematic torture and murder that characterized Bushido Japanese interactions with those they deemed their enemies. It is a tribute to America’s humane post-WWII influence and the Japanese willingness to abandon its past that the Bushido culture is dead and gone, and that the Japanese no longer feel compelled by culture to create enemies and then to engage in the systematic torture and murder of those enemies.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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The military is about to become a shaggy dog (or camel or sheep) joke

Sunday, December 4th, 2011 - by Bookworm

I’ve got an old joke for you, one that my Dad heard during WWII in North Africa:

Camel (image by Ltshears)

A soldier has been serving in the desert for a long time, and has become increasingly antsy as his body craves sexual release. He notices that his fellow soldiers seem much more relaxed than he is. Finally, he overcomes his shyness and approaches one of his mates to find out why the latter isn’t sexually frustrated. “Ah,” says his mate. “The secret out here is to find yourself a nice camel. You’d be amazed at how good that can feel.”

The soldier is horrified at the thought but, eventually, his urges overcome him. He finds himself a nice camel, rather pretty and clean-looking for a camel. He then heads out into the desert with her for some privacy.

Once in the middle of nowhere, he realizes he has a small problem: he can’t reach the camel (think Chihuahua approaching a Great Dane). Eventually, our young soldier gets a bright idea. He’ll take the camel near a sand dune and then position himself on the sand dune. In his mind, the problem is solved. What he discovers, though, is that camels don’t stand still and he finds himself chasing his camel lady through the dunes.

Suddenly, he spies an exquisitely beautiful, half-clothed young woman staggering through the desert towards him. “Help me!” she cries. “If you can save me from this terrible desert, I’ll do anything for you. Anything.”

The soldier looks the young woman over carefully, and then politely asks “Would you please hold my camel for me?”

Here’s another story for you, but it’s not a joke. It’s a true story about the state of modern academia. Peter Singer holds an endowed chair at Princeton. His books include Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics),Animal Liberation and In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave. Should the Baby Live pretty much sums up the man’s philosophy: he advocates euthanizing handicapped infants. He is, of course, reviled by the handicapped community (and rightly so).

Peter Singer (image by Todd Huffman)

The moral abyss Singer creates with his euthanasia musings is highlighted by the fact that his animal liberation writings make him a founding father of the animal rights movement — a movement that’s come to full flower in PETA insanity (which analogizes the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler’s gas chambers). Singer explicitly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person. Singer has also made clear that he has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents. (I love the mental image I have here of a cow or sheep carefully perusing a written consent form, before marking an “X” on it with her hoof.) This last “ethical theory” has put Singer at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating.

If you’re wondering now why I’m waffling on about bestiality, which is not normally a subject that concerns this blog or its readers, it’s because the Senate has been busy. A few days ago, in response to the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the mandate that the military provide a welcoming environment to homosexuals, the Senate (with almost complete unanimity) passed a bill repealing the military law on sodomy. Doing so is a logical step to take given prior changes in the military code of conduct.

But one really has to ask why the Senate also repealed the law against bestiality. As far as I know, the Senate hasn’t provided any answers. Although I don’t see our young men and women in arms suddenly rushing out to enjoy carnal relationships with camels, sheep or any other convenient (and possibly promiscuous) livestock, there is still something . . . umm, what’s the word? Unseemly? Unsavory? Unnatural? Creepy? Unwholesome? Well, there’s something just wrong when one thinks about the United States Senate green-lighting behavior that is normally reserved for risqué jokes and bizarre ethical discussions held far, far out on the wacky spectrum of liberal philosophy.

Sheep (image by George Gastin)

As for me, while bestiality is nothing new, I’m hard put to think of any society, outside of Princeton University, that has ever put its imprimatur on bestiality — except, if our Senate has its way, for the United States Military.We’ll see now what the House does with this quirky little add-on to the realm of acceptable behaviors in the U.S. Military.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Newt Gingrich, poor children, and work habits

Sunday, December 4th, 2011 - by Bookworm

One of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, like Newt is because he says politically incorrect things that ordinary people think. In other words, his politically correct utterances aren’t out of the KKK playbook, they’re out of “the reasonable common-sense before 1960s Leftist education took over” playbook.

A week ago, he said that child labor laws are stupid insofar as they prevent children from getting paying jobs (including janitorial jobs) that would help them to maintain their own schools — at less cost, incidentally, than using unionized janitors. His most recent utterance, expanding on this point, was that poor children have no work ethic:

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

All the usual suspects are up in arms. I haven’t bothered to hunt down quotations from the unions that keep schools supplied with janitors, but I’m sure they’re not happy. More than that, though, Newt’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he advocates a return to 19th Century child labor, complete with seven-day work weeks, 12 of which are spent laboring in a coal mine. Take a gander, for example, at this screen shot from YouTube after I searched up “Newt Gingrich poor children”:

Charles Blowhard, New York Times opinion columnist, is horrified that Newt might look at the way in which the poor behave and conclude that their learned behavior contributes to their poverty. He also comes back with reams of statistics about the fact that the poor do work:

This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.

Gingrich wants to start with the facts? O.K.

First, as I’ve pointed out before, three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work. Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.

Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.

I’ll accept as true the fact that the poor work, but that’s too facile. We also need to look at their attitude towards work. As Shakespeare would say, there’s the rub. Let me quote from a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, describing the way in which a white liberal tried desperately to explain away the fact that large corporations find it extremely difficult to keep minority employees:

Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation. While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it’s faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.

The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It’s just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you’ll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting “good worker.” No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a “firer of minorities.”

The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).

Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc. No wonder, he said, that this child doesn’t bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.

This creates big problems for corporations. A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities. Once it’s hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it’s minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it’s accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.

My suggestion to the children was that minority employees, aware that it’s almost impossible to fire them, might be disinclined to put out their best efforts on the job. Why should they? Logic and energy conservation both dictate that a smart person should do the bare minimum to get a job done. In this case, for the black employees, the job their doing isn’t what’s in the job description. Instead, their job is simply to keep their job.

Amusingly Newt thinks exactly the same as my liberal husband does. They both blame black culture for poor black employment habits. The difference is that, while Newt thinks it’s a fixable situation, starting with the children and their attitude toward labor, my husband, like Mr. Blowhard, thinks that all one can do is accept that minorities are going to be lousy employees.

America’s black poverty culture (as opposed to the Asian or East Indian) poverty culture is handicapped by a terrible, false syllogism:

  • Slavery was work
  • Slavery is evil
  • All work is evil

Even when they’re getting paid, too many African-Americans seem to feel they’ve sold out — that any work involving the white establishment is tantamount to slavery and that they can participate in this system by participating least. It’s a principled stand, but it’s a principle that’s in thrall to terribly flawed logic and that ensures generational poverty and despair. As far as I’m concerned, Newt gets serious kudos for his willingness to state what is, to the working class, quite obvious: learn how to work well when you’re young, and you’ll be able to support yourself when you’re old.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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China’s economy is rosy only if you don’t mind that it’s shrinking, corrupt and sometimes deadly

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 - by Bookworm

Andy Stern, who led the SEIU to its current status as a statist political powerhouse, has a lengthy op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, touting the wonders of China’s economic model. His basic point: China’s recent economic surge shows that government should control the economy. To support this premise, he points, not to China’s current economic status, but to its wondrous five year plan:

I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.

Gosh! Propaganda really sounds good when it’s read out loud to an adoring, credulous audience.

Andy Stern

I’d like to introduce Mr. Stern to another article about the Chinese economy, this one by Gordon Chang, a veteran China watcher who’s actually paying attention to the details. Mr. Chang’s take, which is premised upon actual facts, not wishful thinking is a little different. With a wealth of detail, he points out that, as with all socialist experiments, China is running out of economic gas:

On Wednesday, HSBC roiled markets around the world by releasing its Flash China Purchasing Managers’ Index for November. The widely followed indicator dropped from 51.0 to 48.1, crossing the crucial line of 50 that divides expansion from contraction. Most worrisome, it appears that the factory sector is shrinking due to weakness in domestic, as opposed to export, orders.

The drop in the HSBC Index, which normally moves only tenths of a point at a time, is just another sign that the world’s second-largest economy is contracting from one month to the next. The troubling news follows October numbers, which also pointed toward a rapid falloff. There was, for instance, a sharp decline in inflation, collapsing real estate prices, and a big decrease in bellwether car sales. The wheels are coming off the Chinese economy, with indicators dropping faster than virtually all analysts—including me—predicted.

Chinese technocrats have already started to react, applying monetary measures. The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, this month cut its required reserve ratio for 20 co-operative banks to 16.0%, a reduction of a half point. Officials maintained that this move did not represent a change in their tightening policy, but, as Tom Holland of the South China Morning Post points out, the denial “stretches credulity.” PBOC watchers, therefore, see the limited relaxation as a hint that the institution will soon cut reserve requirements, now at historic highs, for all banks.

You can — and should — read the whole thing here, and then go back and compare it’s tight focus on real world economic facts and figures with Stern’s airy-fairy press release on behalf of Communism.

Let me toss one more thing into the mix here, which is James’ Taranto’s masterful take-down of Eugene Robinson’s love letter to China’s heavy-handed economic management:

You Say Tomato, I Say ‘the Usually Large Rounded Typically Red or Yellow Pulpy Berry of an Herb (Genus Lycopersicon) of the Nightshade Family’

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is in Red China, where his shoe-leather reporting has turned up evidence that . . . Republicans are stupid. Seriously, that’s the subject of the first of what he promises will be several columns filed from Beijing. Let’s examine his closing argument, which responds to a quote from Rick Perry:

But this ignores the big picture. Yes, China is governed–in an authoritarian, repressive, at times shockingly brutal manner–by a regime that calls itself communist. But communism self-immolated two decades ago. Walk down any commercial street in Beijing and you see storefronts, venders and hawkers selling anything under the sun. Communism is no longer a system in China. It’s just a brand name that officials haven’t figured out how to ditch.

I’m aware, of course, of the shameful human rights violations that the Chinese government commits every day–and of the government’s selfish, corrupt insistence on maintaining a monopoly of power. These atrocities can never be forgotten.

But I’m betting that the burgeoning middle class will find a way to cast off these shackles. The correct response would be to cheer them on.So, to recap: China’s Communist Party has already abandoned communist economics for something that looks very much like American commercialism. Politically, however, it remains a brutal and corrupt one-party state. But that can’t last. Robinson both thinks and hopes that the Chinese people will rise up and change the regime.

OK, now here’s the Perry quote: “I happen to think that the Communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history.”

Perry said the same thing Robinson did, only much more pithily and memorably. How does that make Robinson the smart one?

And just in case anyone has forgotten that the Chinese economy also runs on slave labor (a peculiar thing for a former SEIU head to laud) and criminal corruption, the links I just gave you ought to refresh your recollection.

My bottom line: Feudal, slave and communist economies all function the same way, which is to have a powerful central controls system over labor. It enriches a few, and impoverishes the many, both physically and spiritually. Even if it looks good on paper, it’s bad for the soul.

(Chinese factory photo by High Contrast.)

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Herman Cain: Things aren’t always as they seem

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 - by Bookworm

It’s an old story: A man and a woman meet at work and they hit it off. They’re both married, although not to each other. One lunch turns into two, two into three, and eventually they’ve got a pattern. For years, they get together two or three times a week as regularly as clockwork, share daily emails, and call each other frequently. Each makes the other happy because, in many ways, they are kindred spirits. During their get togethers, they do not worry about their respective spouses. Pretty sordid, huh?

Except it’s not. I’ve described my decade-long friendship with my fellow blogger, Don Quixote. Because we are each deeply committed to our own marriages, our relationship never veers from the enjoyably and respectably platonic. Indeed, one of my favorite lunch companions is Mrs. Don Quixote, who joins us whenever she’s not at work. She is a most delightful person, and I’m as pleased to count her among my friends as I am Don Quixote himself. Don Quixote and I are just best friends, in much the same way two women or two men share a purely non-sexual friendship. I know I feel blessed to have this friendship, and I’m pretty sure he does too.

Fortunately, our family and friends know us well, which means that they know our values well, so I don’t believe there’s ever been the breath of suspicion hovering about our friendship. But were either he or I to enter the public world and face the scrutiny of those who don’t know us, the evidence would be damning: regular assignations, phone calls, emails. It’s all there. Our honest, righteous protestations of innocence would certainly fall on innumerable deaf ears.

As I write these words, I’m aware of very limited solid evidence to support Ginger White’s claim that she had a 13 year long affair with Herman Cain. She’s pointed to phone calls. He’s admitted them, but claims that they are innocent. I also know that Ginger White doesn’t strike me as an exceptionally savory person. One could take her spotted history to mean that she’d have no compunction about having an affair with a married man, or one could take it to mean that she has a somewhat strained relationship with the truth. I don’t know.

And that’s the point: the only two who know based upon the slender evidence available are Ginger White and Herman Cain. One of them is lying. I, however, am loath to convict a person based upon what could be, as Cain says, evidence only of friendship. I happen to know a couple of older men, men in Cain’s age group and socio-economic stratum, who have gone out of their way for younger women, helping them financially or with work. Both these men adore their wives and there never was evidence (or accusation) of any impropriety. Both of them, however, clearly enjoyed the role of avuncular helper to an attractive, slightly younger, woman. It was good for their egos, although it didn’t involve anything sordid.

I haven’t been impressed with the way in which Cain has handled these sexually based allegations — although, if one assumes these attacks are indeed smears (and, absent better evidence, I do), it’s virtually impossible to rebut them in an impressive way. In the “he said/she said” battle that plays out over the liberal media, the conservative black man is always wrong.

Incidentally, I don’t have a dog in this fight. Although I briefly considered Cain as a candidate, he simply doesn’t float my boat. I like some of his ideas, I like his charm, I like his commitment to America, but he’s not the candidate for me. The one thing I’m not going to do, though, is turn my back on the man because of unsubstantiated allegations that I know, for a fact, can be subject to other, entirely innocent, interpretations.

(Photo of Herman Cain by Gage Skidmore)

Cross-posted Bookworm Room

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Lonely Obama begging for dinner guests again

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 - by Bookworm

If you’re on Obama’s email list, as I am, you get the feeling he’s a lonely man, just looking for a date — provided that you’re willing to pay him for his time. Sounds a little bit like the world’s oldest profession, doesn’t it?

I also love the way Barack (or, could it conceivably be a ghost writer? Perhaps Bill Ayers?) brings pure bathos to the lives of perfectly ordinary Americans. From the fevered writing, you’d think his four dinner guests slogged their way through the sands of Omaha Beach, put up the flag on Iwo Jima, cleared Fallujah, served as slaves on one of the great plantations, just missed being one of Montezuma’s sacrifices, and had a great escape from a concentration camp. Cut out the drama, and you get four ordinary people. One put her kids through college and saves for retirement; another had a sick relative; a third is a small businessman; and the fourth is, quelle surprise!, a teacher who campaigns for Democrats.

Anyway, here’s Obama’s plea:

Friend –

A few Thursdays ago, I had dinner with four Americans named Ken, Casey, Juanita, and Wendi — the winners of the campaign’s first Dinner with Barack contest.

I loved getting to know each of them.

We’re taking names for the next dinner starting now, and this time I want to add a new feature: If you win, you can bring a guest.

Chip in $3 or more today to be automatically entered to win a spot for you and a guest at the next dinner.

The folks who this election is all about tend to fall under the radar of the D.C. pundits and traditional news media.

They’re people like Juanita, who helped put her three sons through college on a teacher’s salary while saving what she could for retirement.

Like Ken, a single dad who stood by his mother as she fought insurance companies while battling two forms of cancer.

They’re like Casey, whose three young kids may not yet appreciate what courage it took for their dad to take a chance and start his own business.

And Wendi, an artist and third-generation teacher who canvassed, marched, and phone banked in Indiana in 2008, the year her home state defied the traditional electoral map.

These people weren’t just there for themselves — they were representing you, this movement, and the folks I go to work for every day as president.

These dinners are important to me because I want to spend time whenever I can with the people who sent me here. They’re proving wrong the conventional wisdom that says campaigns should cater to Washington lobbyists and powerful interests. And they’re an important reminder that this movement — and my presidency — have never just been about me.

I’m proud that we’re choosing to run the kind of campaign where a dinner like this isn’t just possible, it’s a regular thing. And next time, I don’t just want to meet you — I want to meet someone else in your life.

Donate $3 or more, and start thinking about who you’ll invite to dinner:


Thanks for being part of this,


Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Mike McQueary — Poster Child for Moral Relativism?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 - by Bookworm

I had in my car two fourteen year olds and one thirteen year old. All were familiar with the Sandusky case, so I wasn’t exposing them to sordid information they didn’t already know. None of them, however, knew about Mike McQueary’s involvement, or lack thereof. I gave them a simple multiple choice question:

You walk into a room and see a 50 year old man raping a 10 year old boy. Do you (a) attack the man and try to drag him off the boy or (b) sneak away and, hours later, ask your parents what you should do?

The roar from the back of the car shook the windows: “I’d rip him apart!” “Of course I’d attack him!” “I’d kick him the balls!” “That’s a really dumb question.”

As the response from these very young people demonstrates, McQueary’s young age (28) is no defense to his action. Young people can and do know right from wrong, and child rape is wrong.

How to explain McQueary then? I think the problem isn’t his young age, ’cause he, at 28, was no youngster. The problem was his old age. He’d been around long enough to be fully indoctrinated. All those liberal pundits who are apologizing for McQueary’s behavior by pointing to his youth, his tribal loyalties, and his lukewarm, delayed response are hiding the ball. For liberals, the uncomfortable truth is that McQueary probably didn’t act because, after a lifetime in America’s public education system, his moral relativism training had completely erased any absolute moral standards that might once have populated his pre-academic brain.

I was starting to compose a post on just that point, when jj saved me the effort. Let me quote here his astute comment, written in response to an earlier statement I’d made about the law’s “reasonable man” standard for reacting to a situation:

The “reasonable man” standard? The trouble with that particular fairy-tale is simple, obvious, and the same as it’s always been: who gets to define “reasonable?”

I’m afraid I’ll need to take a little issue with that. Since the discovery of political correctness — which in my life first reared its head in the 1950s — the law not only expects us to conform to entirely unreasonable behavior, it requires us to, all day every day.

If you’re a rancher within reach of the Mexican border, you’re not allowed to defend your property or, come to that, yourself. You can, however, be arrested for trying to do so. “Reasonable?” You not only can’t guard your property or yourself, you’re supposed to stand quietly by and watch your country be overrun, your way of life be buried and lost, and all that you believe defecated on. “Reasonable?”

Snookie, or Pookie, or Moochie — or whatever the hell his name was — Williams was a murderer and founder of a collection of organized offal who have spread everywhere, cost society millions, and murdered a good many people. Flushing him should have been a routine, reflexive act requiring no thought whatever, carried out with the same alacrity you’d flush anything else floating in the toilet. Of course it wasn’t. We — or I should properly say “you,” California — went into full coronary angst mode to spare his worthless life. This was “reasonable?”

In Scotland not long ago the cops pulled over a speeding car. The driver’s defense was that he was a Muslim, running late getting from wife #1 to wife #2. The bewigged and ball gown-equipped jackass on the bench (and if he was a High Court jackass, he gets to wear a red ball-gown, woo-woo!) decided that this made it an excusable offense and dismissed him without a stain on his character, or even a speeding ticket — thereby putting paid to a thousand years of Anglo-Scottish law and custom. “Reasonable?” Even for a judge?

We are wound about with laws and enmeshed in requirements that are antithetical to our customs, beliefs, way of life, and the way this country was set up to be that I’m afraid I have to find the “reasonable man” standard laughable. We have our own ball-gowned jackasses making it up as they go along, and referencing Bulgarian law, or Ukrainian law, or maybe Martian law to decide what our Constitution means when it suits them — Ginsberg outstandingly — and this is “reasonable?”

Instead of shunning NAMBLA spokesmen and placing them firmly beyond society’s pale, we invite their opinions on Oprah — because after all, don’t they have a right to be heard? Dr. Phil engages them earnestly for his (large) audience of the brain-damaged, and sadly regrets that while he cannot agree, he does understand. “Reasonable?”

So here we are, scrupulously multicultural, transnational, non-judgmental, standing for nothing — and everybody’s shocked when this McQueary kid doesn’t know what the hell to do when confronted by the situation that confronted him. Everybody here turns into a militant ass-kicker, in no doubt of what we all would have done in the same situation. (And if we’d done it, Sandusky would have lodged a suit for assault against us, and, win or lose, would have f***ed up our lives forever.) “Reasonable?”

We won’t — and don’t — defend our culture and way of life. We won’t — and don’t — defend the fundamental bases on which this nation was founded. You’re surprised McQueary found himself paralyzed? Why? I’m sure he had a nice, politically-correct upbringing — I’m surprised he even reported it. Who the hell knows what constitutes “reasonable” any more?

If my sampling of three youngsters has any validity at all, it shows that 13 and 14 year olds haven’t yet been infected by moral relativism, while a 28 year old man living in a university environment is utterly incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. Let’s pray, long and hard, that we regain our cultural balance before the next generation of kids turns into ineffectual, self-doubting amoral McQuearys.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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McQueary’s Age is No Excuse for His Lukewarm, Delayed Action

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 - by Bookworm

Dan Abrams, who’s some sort of ABC talking head, has weighed in about Mike McQueary. Because I’ve already flogged the topic to death in other posts, I won’t explain here why I strongly disagree with his argument that McQueary really didn’t do anything that wrong.

What intrigued me in the article was a point I’ve seen others make, but that Abrams makes with beautiful clarity (emphasis mine):

In retrospect, should McQueary have been satisfied with that? No way. Should he have done more? Yes. Could he have done more? Of course. Should he be celebrated as a hero because, as he put it, he “made sure it stopped?” No. But many have even suggested that McQueary is monstrous for having called his father for guidance before immediately reporting the incident. Is that really so hard to understand? A 28-year-old, so troubled by what he has seen in his workplace, that he calls his father for counsel?

McQueary has been described in most articles as a student (albeit a graduate student), which implies that he was very young at the time. In fact, as Abrams establishes, he was 28. Twenty-eight. Not twelve. Not ten. Not even just turned twenty-one. Ten years before witnessing his boss raping a child (and description of his boss’s activity is per McQueary’s own grand jury testimony), he’d earned as a matter of law the right to vote; to marry without parental permission; and to go off to war, with really cool weapons in his hands. Seven years earlier, he’d been given official permission to buy alcohol. He’d passed all the milestones of youth, and then some. He was not a child. By my lights, he was a man.

Now, I think it’s very nice that McQueary has a close relationship with his father. I hope to have a close relationship with my kids until the day I die. I hope, too, that they continue to see me as a source of wisdom, someone they can turn to for advice or just to kick around interesting ideas. But I also hope that, by the time my kids are 28, I will have done my parenting job sufficiently well that, if they see an older man anally raping a 10 year old child, they will intercede immediately, rather than having to sneak out of the room so that, some hours later, they can ask me for advice.

Sorry, Dan Abrams. Sorry, Mike McQueary. Mike’s “youth” is not an excuse.

And just to give you a little perspective:

Dakota Meyer, 21 when he engaged in the conduct that earned him the Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps.

Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Sal Guinta, 22 when he engaged in the conduct that earned him the Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry,173d Airborne Brigade.

Place and date: Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, 25 October 2007. Entered service at: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Born: 25 January 1985, Clinton, Iowa. Citation: Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007. While conducting a patrol as team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security. Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy. Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army.

Michael Monsoor, 25 when he gave his life in Iraq, earning a posthumous Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Master-At-Arms Second Class (Sea, Air And Land), United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

I could go on, but it will just make me cry, and I assume I’ve made my point: McQueary’s age is no excuse.

I’ll say here again that I don’t know whether I would have done any better in the same situation than McQueary. I’m perfectly willing to concede that I would have fallen prey to analysis paralysis, disbelief, denial, organizational paranoia, etc. But the fact that I too might have behaved badly does not excuse McQueary, a 28 year old man, from failing to do the right and proper thing, which was to act immediately to protect a small child.

Cross-posted in Bookworm Room

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Penn State and the slow death of American self-reliance

Sunday, November 13th, 2011 - by Bookworm

In the wake of the horrific child abuse scandal roiling Penn State, many have been trying to understand how Sandusky’s predatory behavior could have continued unchecked for so long. The focal point of this “how could this happen” question is the fact that Mike McQueary actually witnessed an assault. Rather than rearranging Sandusky’s face, McQueary slipped out quietly, called his Daddy, and than made a chain-of-command report. As far as he was concerned, he’d then done what he needed to do. Paterno did exactly the same: chain-of-command report. And so on, up the ladder, with each person punting the problem higher, and each higher level official diluting the story so that it transformed from child rape into inappropriate behavior — and we all know that inappropriate behavior needs to be dealt with tactfully and in a way that doesn’t embarrass the institution.

So, again, we have to ask why?

Because — and this is not an idle boast — I have some of the smartest readers in the blogosphere, I can take a good stab at an answer. In an open thread about Penn State, my readers chewed over the fact that in Pennsylvania, the law allows employees who witness a crime to go up the chain of command, whereas in Texas (for example) the law requires that every person has the responsibility to report to the authorities cases of suspected child abuse. In other word, the culture is different in the two states, with one allowing people to pass the buck, and the other mandating that people take independent action.

There are already demands that Pennsylvania change its laws about reporting child abuse in order to bring them closer in line with the Texas standard. While that wouldn’t be a bad idea, it would be a small bandage over a gaping wound in the American psyche: the death of self-reliance.

Agrarian and frontier societies are, of necessity, self-reliant. (Yes, even Europeans once knew how to make do.) Right up until the 1960s, what separated America from other nations was that, until very recently in historic terms, it managed to be an amalgam of Western intellectualism and frontier self-reliance. This meant that, even as increasing population density and industrialization made it unnecessary for an American family to be almost completely self-sustaining, our Judeo-Christian heritage was sophisticated enough that we nevertheless enshrines as a virtue that personal independence.

And, by gosh, if self-reliance is the standard, those pioneers were virtuous. Here, from one of my favorite books, No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, you can get a good thumb-nail sketch of how a family prepared to leave East Coast civilization to head for the Wild West:

Once a conveyance was determined, the woman cut and sewed the double-cloth wagon tops and sides . . . with muslin on the inside and heavy linen on the outside for extra warmth and protection . . . and attached pockets or “pouches” so that items such as knives, firearms, cooking pots, mother’s sewing and knitting basket and essential toilet articles could be tucked away safely. [Snip] Each item — all the food, tools, bedding, clothing, a veritable pharmacopoeia of medicinal roots and herbs, axle grease, spare wagon parts, furniture and so forth — was sharply scrutinized to make certain that it was critical to the survival of the family, the wagon and the animals both on the trail and for the first homestead. (p. 73.)

After the pioneers finally reached their destination (and truly, only the strong survived the journey), Dad (and sons and neighbors) began the backbreaking work of hunting and farming so as to tease food out of the land, while Mom (and daughters and neighbors) kept the home fires burning. In No Idle Hands, one can read in their own words how the children of these pioneers remembered their mothers’ accomplishments:

“Mother bore and cared for the babies, saw that the floor was white and clean, that the beds were made and cared for, the garden tended, the turkeys dressed, the deer flesh cured and the fat prepared for candles or culinary use, that the wild fruits were garnered and preserved or dried, that the spinning and knitting was done and the clothing made. She did her part in all these tasks, made nearly all the clothing and did the thousands things for us a mother only finds to do.”


Another mother, in addition to her regular routine of “water carrying, cooking, churning, sausage making, berry picking, vegetable drying, sugar and soap boiling, hominy hulling, medicine brewing, washing, nursing, weaving, sewing, straw plaiting, wool spinning, quilting, knitting, gardening and various other tasks,” found time to exchange work with other neighbors when they gathered together to spin and knit, skeining yarn for immediate use by simply winding it from hand to elbow and hanging it from her arm while she knit. (p. 87-88.)

I am not advocating a return to that level of self-reliance. My family and I would be dead within week if that were the case. I am pointing out, however, that this was normative for large chunks of America only a century and a half ago, and that, even more importantly, this level of competence became part of America’s self-image. We were the can-do generation. While the Roosevelt administration, in the 1930s, jump-started the notion of a comprehensive welfare system, the generation that scrabbled through the Depression and World War II did not succumb to the cultural inertia of the socialist state.

It took the 1960s and beyond to change us into a don’t-do culture. The “why” of that change would take a whole post (no, make that a whole book), but one can target lots of wealth, lots of youth, and a media and academic establishment that relentlessly propagandized both the virtues of socialism, while simultaneously denigrating traditional American culture and playing up the dangers of America’s home grown self-reliance ethos (“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”).

Whatever the root causes (I can speak Marxist-speak just fine, myself) the end result is that Americans are slowly put surely slipping into the type of passivity that characterizes people living in an excessively bureaucratized, government-heavy society. Some like this. At a recent speech to financially powerful supporters, President Obama warned that, if he’s not re-elected, Americans might have to leave the comforts of government dependence and enter a dangerous era of self-reliance:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

“If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”

Nothing could more neatly distill Obama’s hostility to the classic American dream, one that believed it was a virtue for people to make it on their own. That the reality didn’t always match this cultural image, since many failed to make it at all, while others made it with substantial government help, is irrelevant. What matters is that, for ordinary people, growing up, working, raising children, personal accomplishment was the cultural paradigm. By contrast, Obama’s American dream, the one that he desires as the overarching cultural paradigm, is one that sees people utterly dependent on the government. It’s impressive that Obama so resolutely clings to his dream, even as the Europeans actively prove that, during the waking hours, the dream is a nightmare.

As more and more people, with media and academic help, enthusiastically turn the government into their paterfamilias, and as more and more rules and regulations mandate that people abjure individual action, we get a rash of stories, culled from headlines in both England, where the dependency rot runs deep, and America. Watching people drown is getting to be an ordinary day’s work in dependency cultures. This story comes from the San Francisco Bay Area:

The Oakland Tribune (via Mercury News) reports on a tragic story of a 57-year-old man who drowned in the bay in Alameda on Monday after wading chest-high in the water fully clothed for nearly an hour before rescuers could reach him.

Witnesses told the Tribune that police and fire crews responded quickly to the scene, but because the Alameda Fire Department is not certified in land-based water rescues, they had to wait for the United States Coast Guard to arrive.

The Coast Guard reportedly responded within 20 minutes with a rescue boat, but because the man was in fairly shallow water, they had to wait for a helicopter instead. The helicopter took 65 minutes to arrive because it had been out on another mission and needed to refuel.

In the mean time, a woman in her late 20s who’s trained as a water rescue nurse, was able to pull the man out when he was about 50 yards from shore. Unfortunately, rescuers were unable to revive him, and he was later pronounced dead at Alameda Hospital.

One can argue, as a surprising number did at the time, that the guy in Alameda wanted to commit suicide, thereby justifying the fact that rescue work suddenly became a spectator sport. That’s not always the case, though. In a surprisingly similar story from England, the person wasn’t committing suicide, but rescuers again stood by, watching:

More than a dozen emergency workers refused to pull a man from a waist-deep boating lake because of ‘health and safety’ fears.

For half-an-hour charity shop worker Simon Burgess, 41, was left face down in the shallow water as they waited for a specialist rescue crew.

Mr Burgess, who had gone to the lake to feed the swans, was pronounced dead at the scene but friends claim that if rescuers had waded straight into the water he could have been saved.

The crews of two fire engines, two police cars, two ambulances and an air ambulance were told not to enter the lake, which is no more than three feet (one metre) at its deepest point, in case they ‘compromised their safety’.

That’s just two stories, right? What if I add a third, again from England?

A jobsworth ambulance boss refused to allow his staff to enter six inches of water to treat a man with a broken back – because it breached heath and safety.

Stricken Brian Bendle, 45, suffered the agonising injuries as he stood in shallow water at a leisure lake in Somerset.

He was waiting to take his £10,000 jetski out onto the water when he was hit by another rider travelling at around 50mph.

Shocked onlookers immediately ran into the lake as Mr Bendle, from Bristol, lay face down in the water.

They floated the dad-of-three in the six inch ankle-deep water, where they supported him until an ambulance arrived amid fears moving him would aggravate his back injury.

But they were stunned when a paramedic arrived and refused his pleading staff to enter the water – because they weren’t trained to deal with water rescues.

They had to slide a spinal board under him themselves and carry him to ambulancemen, who were stood on the bank just 6ft away.

At least in the story above, onlookers weren’t so shocked that they became incapable of saving the man themselves. It’s good to see that some initiative survives.

(I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t note that we here in America have a long and surprisingly honored history of an individual cavalierly walking away from a person trapped in water.)

Passively falling back on regulations when the situation demands immediate individual action isn’t just a water-related activity. Here’s a recent story about someone who watched an atrocious act, did nothing at first, and then acted in the most passive way possible. No doubt his superiors approved, as they engaged in behavior that was either just as passive or, worse, actively complicit:

[Mike] McQueary, according to his testimony in the grand jury report, witnessed Sandusky subjecting what McQueary estimated to be a 10-year-old boy to anal intercourse in the showers of a football building on campus in 2002. According to his grand jury testimony, McQueary, upset, went to his office and phoned his father, who advised him to go home, according to testimony. The next day, McQueary reported what he had seen to Paterno, according to the grand jury report. Paterno passed information that an incident of “a sexual nature” had occurred to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president of finance Gary Schultz. Curley and Schultz were charged with counts of perjury and failure to report.

I’d like to think that, had I been there, Sandusky would have received some immediate, albeit crude, facial reconstruction. I’m small, but I’m game — and a child was involved.

Looking at these few examples, I can’t help but think of another culture that allowed itself to lapse into such a bureaucratic mindset that citizens either passively watched or actively engaged in the most heinous acts. I’m thinking, of course, of the Nazis. If one subordinates people completely to the state, can one be surprised if they lose both will power and moral strength?

As many of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur martial artist. (If only my skills were equal to my enthusiasm….) I do martial arts because I really like it — but I also do it so that I can act. After a long hiatus to have children, and then to moan about how having children prevented me from exercising, I read a story in the papers that send me off like a rocket to the nearest dojo. Back in 2008, a man stomped his child to death in front of myriad witnesses, none of whom intervened. All of them fell prey to analysis paralysis, shock, denial (“this can’t be happening!”), etc. I’m willing to bet, though, that a fair number of them were waiting for someone else to take care of the situation. I go to martial arts so that I can be that someone else.

Fortunately, despite socialist government’s best efforts to mandate inaction (or, at least, to give people an excuse for failing to get involved), all is not lost. There will always be decent people who do get involved. As I pointed out above, in the case of the man hit by the jet ski, even though the bureaucratized aid workers refused to do anything, bystanders willingly rescued the injured man.

I doubt, too, that many of us have forgotten the story of the bridge crew that acted with incredible speed and ingenuity to rescue a drowning woman:

“They just harnessed me up and dipped me down in the water and I grabbed her and the crane drug her to the boat and that’s it,” Oglesbee said. “What are you going to do if she’s like that? It’s no big deal. The whole crew did it.”

So spoke Jason Oglesbee after being the last man in the chain that daringly rescued a woman who got swept into a dam. The story says so much about the ingenuity and courage that we like to see in the average American.

Recently, a motorcyclist trapped under a car was lucky enough to find himself in the presence of proactive people, unconstrained by analysis paralysis, government regulations, or career worries. At great risk to themselves, these people acted:

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Penn State is a tocsin, warning us what happens when our cultural paradigm encourages us to pass the buck. The nation, as a whole, hasn’t yet reached the moral abyss that is the Penn State athletic department, but Barack Obama has stated clearly that his goal is to create precisely the bureaucratic, dependency culture that makes Penn State’s (and Nazi Germany) possible. This is not to say that Barack Obama and his team have as their goal mass child rape, genocide, crime waves, etc. It is to say, though, that once one creates a government system that turns people into mindless, amoral automatons, the possibilities are endless for mass evil, unconstrained by individual morals.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Left conflates mob violence and random outrage with democracy

Friday, November 4th, 2011 - by Bookworm

The press, as well as random Democrat commentators and politicians, all of whom have been enraptured by the wonderfulness of the Occupy movement, keep using the phrase “democracy in action.” (You can see examples of that here, here and here.)

I find this take confusing. To me, this is democracy in action:

This, however, is merely mob violence (some NTFW language):

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(Or view the video here.)

Mob rule is by definition the antithesis of democracy, because only the loudest and most violent citizens, rather than all citizens, have a voice.

Of course, it’s questionable whether, after 40 years of Leftist education in American schools, all citizens are capable of having a voice. One Facebooker figured out what’s really go on. (If you’re a Facebook user, go here to “like” this great image.)

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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What Happened to Little Yue Yue was Entirely Predictable

Monday, October 24th, 2011 - by Bookworm

Over the past week, China has been convulsed by a video that shows a little girl — 2 years old — clad in pink trousers, struck by two vans and then ignored by over a dozen passers-by, who cavalierly stepped around her broken, bleeding body:

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Little Yue Yue has since died, but China, in an embarrassed way, is trying to come to terms with what her death means. The MSM helpfully hints that the problem is China’s burgeoning capitalism:

China’s economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism replacing morals.

The same article gets a little closer to the mark, in the last paragraph, when it suggests that China’s willingness to impose severe punishment on people makes them disinclined to get involved:

Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed. High-profile lawsuits have ended with good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.

I’d like to suggest another possible societal paradigm: China’s one child policy. This policy says that urban, married couples may have only one child. Approximately 40% of China’s population is subject to this policy. The government takes it very seriously, going so far as to force abortions of full term babies on unwilling women:

During the past week, dozens of women in southwest China have been forced to have abortions even as late as nine months into the pregnancy, according to evidence uncovered by NPR.

China’s strict family planning laws permit urban married couples to have only one child each, but in some of the recent cases — in Guangxi Province — women say they were forced to abort what would have been their first child because they were unmarried. The forced abortions are all the more shocking because family planning laws have generally been relaxed in China, with many families having two children.

Liang Yage and his wife Wei Linrong had one child and believed that — like many other couples — they could pay a fine and keep their second baby. Wei was 7 months pregnant when 10 family planning officials visited her at home on April 16.

Liang describes how they told her that she would have to have an abortion, “You don’t have any more room for maneuver,” he says they told her. “If you don’t go [to the hospital], we’ll carry you.” The couple was then driven to Youjiang district maternity hospital in Baise city.

“I was scared,” Wei told NPR. “The hospital was full of women who’d been brought in forcibly. There wasn’t a single spare bed. The family planning people said forced abortions and forced sterilizations were both being carried out. We saw women being pulled in one by one.”

The couple was given a consent agreement to sign. When Liang refused, family planning officials signed it for him. He and his wife are devout Christians — he is a pastor — and they don’t agree with abortion.

The officials gave Wei three injections in the lower abdomen. Contractions started the next afternoon, and continued for almost 16 hours. Her child was stillborn.

The above story is from a few years ago, but it could have happened last year too:

A pregnant woman in China was detained, beaten and forced to have an abortion just a month before her due date because the baby would have violated the country’s one-child limit, her husband said today.

Luo Yanquan, a construction worker, said his wife was taken kicking and screaming from their home by more than a dozen people on 10 October and detained in a clinic for three days by family planning officials, then taken to a hospital and injected with a drug that killed her baby.

Usually it doesn’t come to actual government coercion. Why not? Because the Chinese people themselves, knowing that they’re limited to one baby, and rejoicing in a culture that values only boys, take matters into their own hands, routinely aborting female babies, a disgusting practice that has earned it’s own name of “gendercide“:

By the year 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women of marriageable age in this giant empire, so large and so different (its current population is 1,336,410,000) that it often feels more like a separate planet than just another country. Nothing like this has ever happened to any civilisation before.

Yuan Quan slipped into a busy down-market establishment in a grim and basic part of town, with a flourishing market for stolen bicycles just outside, and the police looking the other way.

She asked the abortionist if he ever aborted boys. He gaped. ‘Are you mad?’ he almost shouted, ‘Nobody aborts boys unless they are deformed. Girls are what we abort.’

This cheap and squalid storefront business offers abortions from around £10. Scans, which reveal a baby’s sex, cost a fiver. True, this is a rough neighbourhood, but similar businesses flourish in more respectable districts as well.

They usually start from £20, while supposedly painless procedures can go up to about £200.

The authorities, who have no moral objection to abortion itself, have been known to force women to have abortions in their ninth month of pregnancy to keep to the one-child policy.

They cannot really complain about the huge numbers of legal, commercial abortionists. Nor can they do much to ban the cheap portable scanning machines which detect the sex of the baby and condemn so many unborn girls to death.

Once you know more about China’s attitude to girls, it is surprising that so many survive.

So was it capitalism that deadened those drivers and passers-by to the death of one little girl, or was it a culture that traditionally devalues girls and that has, for thirty years, had enforced a government policy that, inevitably, means that girls are killed in utero? If girls are so valueless in utero, why should their value increase ex utero? The message that Chinese citizens have absorbed is simple: Don’t get involved as a general matter because the government is likely to come after you — and considering the risk, you should especially avoid getting involved with a manifestly disposable citizen, i.e., one little girl in bright pink trousers.
Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Is it true that the poor ye always have with you?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 - by Bookworm

I have to admit that I don’t understand the “I am the 99%” shtick coming out of OWS. If these people are saying that 99% of the country is poor, with only 1% holding the wealth, perhaps I don’t understand poverty as well as I should. When I think of poverty, I think of this:

Slum outside Jakarta

or this:

A Favela in Brazil

or this:

East African Famine Victim

What I don’t think of when I think of poverty is this:

The computer crowd at OWS; photo by David Shankbone

or this:

Socialism is a good way to dump debt; photo by David Shankbone

or this:

Fit, bejeweled and spiritual at OWS; photo by David Shankbone

But in a peculiar way, those non-starving, non-homeless, non-refugee young people playing at being poor in cities across America have a point. They represent some very specific — and sad — types of poverty.

To begin with, there’s the sense of poverty created by utterly ludicrous expectations. We promised these kids that they were all “good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it!, that everyone would like them.” We promised them that they were all number one, and that they would never need to make any actual effort to achieve that blue ribbon status. We taught them, through MTV and computer games, that a 3 minute attention span is sufficiently long to be awesomely cool and win the game. And, God help us, we taught them that a Womyn’s Studies, or Africana Studies, or GLBT Studies, or Oppressed People’s degree from some big name university would assure them the kind of job that would enable them to pay off $25,000 or $100,000 or even $250,000 in student loans. We, the older generation, created this wealth of stupidity.

These young people also suffer from a vast intellectual and moral poverty. One of the things that shines through when we interview the people taking to the streets is that so many are woefully ignorant, and that they wallow in a sea of relativism that allows for no morality other than that gained by intense navel gazing. They are the antithesis of the original American revolutionaries, whose leaders were men of exceptional erudition and thoughtfulness, and whose followers knew at the very least their Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress. Revolutionaries of old were shaped by philosophy, known science, literature, practical life experience, and a deep sense of morality and justice. Today’s little park piddlers are shaped by an aching sense of unfairness, a terrible fear of human-kind (that would be the AGW shtick), and a morality shaped by Oprah and whichever fabulously rich Hollywood Leftist happens to grab the microphone on any given day.

These self-styled 99%-ers are not poor, not by any known standard, either today or in the history of the world. They are intellectually and emotionally bereft, but otherwise awash in material benefits.

The fact that these posers aren’t poor, as poverty has traditionally been understood, does not mean that there aren’t poor people in America. New immigrants are poor, although America quickly absorbs them and propels their children and grandchildren into the working and middle class. Elderly people whose life savings have been destroyed by the Democrat economy are poor, and deserve our help. Those who suffer from profound physical or mentally disabilities, through birth or injury, may experience great poverty, and they too deserve our help. Those are traditional kinds of poverty and, true to Jesus’ word, we will always have these people with us.

Lastly, there is a unique kind of poverty, one that could only occur in America. I know about this poverty because someone close to me dwells among these poor (although she is not quite of them), and reports back faithfully. These are not people who are poor in the old-fashioned way. They were not deprived of opportunities due to class distinctions, because we do not have a European-style class-based society. Although most are profoundly ignorant, all had available to them the basics of an American public school education. Living in the modern age, their lives have not been blighted by epidemic diseases (polio, rheumatic fever, mumps, measles, small pox, etc.), nor have their family structures been decimated by the mortality that ripped through the pre-modern world, leaving large numbers of children as half or full orphans.

What these people are is the self-inflicted poor. For example, meet my friend’s neighbors: there’s John, surviving on welfare and food stamps, who was a “tweeker” (methamphetamine user); Abby, who almost died from a month-long coma after a heroine binge, and now gets intermittent work cleaning houses, when her health allows; Ray, who is an alcoholic, and floats from one unskilled job to another; Shannon, who has three children, by three men, and has had all three children taken away by social services because of her drug habit. Oh, and let me not forget Fred, who is homeless because he fried his synapses both with drugs and with the head injury from a drunk driving accident. The only time he wasn’t homeless recently was when he spent two years in jail for statutory rape. As my friend said to him, “You’re old, ugly and homeless. The only reason a young girl hit on you was to get your drugs, and you should have known better.”

Again, Jesus was right “The poor ye always have with you.” No matter how much you perfect your society, you will still be dealing with human imperfection. You will deal with the people who came from dysfunctional homes and continue that dysfunction (with or without help from social services); and with the people who came from totally normal homes (as did my friend) but who were inexorably drawn to a dysfunctional culture. You cannot save them. They willingly embrace habits that lead inexorably to poverty. These are the HONDAs (hypertensive, obese, non-compliant, diabetic, alcoholics), who suck up a doctor’s clinic time; the over-dosers who are rushed into ER while the kid with the broken arm (and insurance) sits in the waiting room; and the drunk drivers whose irresponsibility tears apart families. They are the ones who crowd the welfare roles, live in parks, eat at the homeless shelters, and rotate through jails. They are the imperfect ones. We will always have them with us, and no amount of Leftist utopianism will change that reality.

History shows, though, that there is one solution to minimize the overall number of poor: a free, capitalist society. While there will always be the old, the sick and the stupid, our American experiment with freedom and capitalism creates sufficient plenty that even poor people, provided that they are functional poor rather than dysfunctional poor, can get sufficient calories, have housing, wear stylish clothes, carry a cell phone, watch television, etc. A rising tide lifts all boats, even the smallest dinghies.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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And What Does the Guy’s Citizenship Have to do With the Price of Tea in China?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 - by Bookworm

You’ve already heard about the horrible Southwest flight, during which Ali Reza Shahsauri screamed in Arabic: “Allahu Akbar… you’re all going to die.”

Don’t worry, though. We’ve just been assured that it’s not terrorism (although it certainly managed to instill terror). Why isn’t it terrorism? Because:

A spokesman said: ‘The FBI continues to investigate, but initial indications are that there was no terrorist intent. This guy is a U.S. citizen.’ (Emphasis mine.)

Well, that’s a relief! He’s a U.S. citizen. All of know that no U.S. citizens have ever been involved in terrorist acts against fellow Americans:

Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City bomber

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, (attempted) Portland bomber

John Walker Lindh, Taliban fighter & CIA killer

Nidal Malik Hasan, Fort Hood Killer

Anwar al-Awlaki, al Qaeda leader

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Kids in California Can Get HPV Vaccinations Without Parental Consent, But Not Tans

Monday, October 10th, 2011 - by Bookworm

This is what Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed yesterday:

The governor signed a measure allowing children as young as 12 to seek prevention treatment, such as vaccinations, for sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV without parental consent.

And this is also what he signed yesterday:

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed into law a bill that prevents children under 18 from using the popular tanning method. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

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The USS Carl Vinson Rocks!

Monday, October 10th, 2011 - by Bookworm

Let me start by saying that I am way too grown-up to say that something “rocks.” Mine is a more dignified vocabulary. Nevertheless, saying that the USS Carl Vinson rocks is the right way to start this post, because I want to discuss my visit to the USS Carl Vinson in the context of America’s youth and, in an ironic, self-referential way, my own youth. Before I get too deep, though, let me start with a linear narrative about my day, one that I’ll make more than usually girly and detail-free to ensure that I don’t inadvertently say something that is better left unsaid about an important ship that has secrets to keep.

It was sheer dumb luck that my kids and I got to enjoy an extraordinary day aboard the Carl Vinson. When the Navy League asked for ships’ greeters, I readily volunteered my services. The Navy League tries to have a greeter for every ship. The greeter’s job is to go on board, welcome the ship to the port (San Francisco, in this case), and to hand over a wonderful collection of coupons, maps, lists of free services, etc., all with the aim of making the visit as easy and enjoyable as possible for the men and women aboard the ship. From my point of view, it’s a sinecure. Navy League representatives gather all informational materials and coupons, bring it to the piers, and arrange clearance for us. All we have to do is show up and be welcoming.

This year, unlike past years, I was assigned (along with a couple of other Navy League members) to a ship that was anchored in the Bay and that would not be open for visitors. I had no assurance, therefore, that I would get on the ship. When I got permission to bring the kids with me, we were told that it was up to the ship whether to take us on board. I warned the kids that there was about a 50% chance we wouldn’t get on, and made alternate plans, just in case. I was a little more optimistic when the senior Navy Leaguer assigned to visit the Carl Vinson told me that we’d be boarding with the ship’s original Captain, Richard Martin. I still didn’t allow myself to get my (or my kids’) hopes up too high. After all, they might have whisked Captain Martin on board, and left us standing pier-side, waving good-bye. All I can say is that I did the Navy a disservice in assuming that it would behave so ungraciously.

Things were a bit slow in the morning, and we waited on the pier longer than expected, which was all to the good. While my kids were restless, I got the opportunity to meet Captain Martin; his lovely and charming wife, Anne; his delightful friends; and the other Navy League people hoping to go aboard. As I say every year around this time, Navy people are nice people: well mannered, welcoming and so enthusiastic about all things Navy. By the time the boat arrived to take Captain Martin, and his family and friends, to the Carl Vinson, there was no question but that we Navy League people would be going there too.

One of the things I always tell my children is that, while I haven’t done anything very interesting with my life, I’ve had the singular good fortune to know interesting people. In this case, a mere half hour before visiting the Carl Vinson, luck smiled on me and the children, and put us in Captain Martin’s friendly orbit. He was accorded the most splendid welcome you can imagine when he boarded the ship — and, listening to the stories he and others had to tell, I can understand why. This is where I interrupt my linear narrative and get to the point about my own youth.

I was a child of the 1960s and 1970s and, more than that, I was a child of San Francisco and Berkeley. I knew the drill: the Cold War was a farce, we Americans were bullies, the Russians were people just like us, U.S. imperialism blah blah blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. With age and experience, I’ve mercifully been blessed with some wisdom, and I’ve learned that the Cold War was not a farce, but was an existential battle between freedom and tyranny; that America was not a bully, but kept as many nations as possible on the side of liberty; and that, while the average Russian Vlad on the street might have been a person just like us, the Soviet leadership was dedicated to putting as many people as possible under the Communist yoke.

The actual facts (not the San Francisco/Berkeley filtered facts) meant that there was nothing cold about the Cold War. Instead, it was a deadly, and perpetual, cat and mouse game. While we, snug on our college campuses, sneered at the military, our military fought on the front lines, constantly tweaking the Soviet cat, all the while avoiding a direct confrontation. Captain Martin, as the first captain of one of ten Nimitz class super carriers, was one of the leading-edge warriors in this fight. The responsibilities he bore were enormous. While we now engage our enemies on the ground, in those days, the water was a major battlefield in this covert war, and he shepherded one of our biggest weapons.

The sign reads: Beware of jet blasts, propellers and rotors

Bottom line, when it comes to the USS Carl Vinson’s intersection with my own youth: I was an ignorant, thoughtless child, who inadvertently gave aid to the enemy simply by refusing to recognize that there was an enemy. I was fortunate enough, though, to be protected by people who recognized the stakes in this existential war, and who put themselves on the front line. Lucky, lucky me. And now back to today’s story….

The USS Carl Vinson isn’t a ship that exists only in a glorious Cold War past. It remains a vital part of America’s arsenal, and its vitality is apparent from the moment one steps on board. To start with, the ship is huge. The total crew numbers almost 6,000 men and women (a number that includes the air wing). Because the ship is not open to the public, we walked onto a ship churning with activity, as sailors and Marines, all of them so very young, lined up for liberty. To the kids’ (and, yes, my) delight, since we were trailing in the wake of the ship’s top officers, hundreds of them fell silent and stood at attention as we walked by. For a modern civilian, it’s impressive, to say the least, to witness young people showing this kind of respect to those who, by virtue of age, effort and wisdom, have achieved a high status within an organization.

In no time at all, we found ourselves in the Captain’s quarters. A lovely and welcome repast was spread on the table in the stateroom (I think it was the stateroom), and Capt. Bruce Lindsey urged us to eat. I’m embarrassed to say that my kids alone probably gobbled up a quarter of the food before I realized what they were doing, but I’m not surprised that they did. Aside from the fact that they were hungry (as it took quite a while for us to board the ship), the sandwiches were delicious and the cookies were outstanding.

As we ate, Captain Lindsay gave us a brief and entertaining talk about the ship’s history: about Carl Vinson himself, a man whose life spanned most of the 20th Century, and who deserves enormous credit for giving us a Navy in the 1930s that was able to help us win a war in the 1940s; about the ship’s missions, including its stellar humanitarian work in Haiti; and about the ship’s crew, a collection of dynamic, hard-working, deeply committed young people who work extraordinarily hard on a ship that has virtually no down-time.

Captains Lindsey & Martin, USS Carl Vinson

Captain Martin then spoke briefly about his years aboard the ship. He’s a very humble man, despite his high accomplishments. It says much about him that one of the things he’s most proud of is that he got the ship seaworthy 30 days early and $200,000,000 under budget. I don’t think things like that happen anymore in today’s world.

After the Captain’s spoke, and after our Navy League representative gave a short, sweet speech welcoming the ship to our fair City, and delivering a painting of the ship coming into the Bay, all of us were offered a tour of the ship. Yes! Oh, yes! But first we needed a pit stop. Captain Lindsay was gracious enough to allow us to use the restroom (uh, sorry, Navy types: head) in his own quarters. My son was impressed. When he emerged, he couldn’t contain himself: “That’s a really captainy-y bathroom!”

From the Captain’s quarters, we headed to the bridge, from the bridge to the flight deck, from the flight deck to the Admiral’s briefing room, from the briefing room to the Com. room, and on and on. I’m not telling what I saw in any detail, in part because I’ll get it wrong, and in part because I don’t want to say anything that I shouldn’t. I will say, thought, that it was all fascinating and that the crew members we ran into on this tour were helpful, informative, and had such nice manners. The ship was also in true ship shape, which is a pleasure to the eye.

Oh — about that crew. They are young. Just eyeballing them, my guess is that about 70% of those 6,000 crew members are 25 or under. What amazed me was learning that the person on the bridge handling the rudder (that is, steering this vast, nuclear powered ship) is probably 19 years old. Think about that: three years ago, he (or she) was getting a driver’s license; now she (or he) is driving a very big ship.

It’s obvious that our Navy has a tremendous respect for young people. It believes that they are capable. It believes that they are intelligent. It believes that, given the opportunity, they will act responsibly. It doesn’t coddle them. It doesn’t flatter them with false praise. It demands of them their best, and they dig into themselves and discover that they can meet that demand. These kids are America’s best and brightest because they willingly serve a harsh, but fair, task master, they grow up quickly, and they have the tools to become exemplary citizens, whatever they choose to do with their post-Navy lives.

Blue Angels, as seen from USS Carl Vinson

I want to keep this post away from politics, but I couldn’t help but contrast the young people I saw on board the USS Carl Vinson with these young people. I’ll say no more.

All it all, it was as lovely a day as one could wish. The weather was perfect, the people were delightful, and the ship was gorgeous (and surprisingly elegant, for such a utilitarian piece of equipment). Speaking of my own family, I can say without hesitation that a good time was had by all!

By the way, I’m not the only one who saw a contrast between the military and Occupy Wall Street. While I observed the two different types of young people drawn to the two different types of activities, Zombie noted that the military was, hands down, the audience favorite.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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The Genesis of Occupy Wall Street Distilled to Two Words: Student Loans

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 - by Bookworm

I hated UC Berkeley. Loathed it. Despised it. Couldn’t shake the dust off my feet fast enough after I graduated. But graduate I did, and pretty well too, if my Phi Beta Kappa key has anything to say about it. Knowing my feelings about UCB, my daughter asked a good question: “Why didn’t you transfer out?”

I had an equally good answer, although one that was virtually impossible for a well-to-do suburban kid, in a day and age of vast student loans, to understand: “I didn’t have the money.” My parents had no wealth; I had no wealth; my scholarships were real, but small; and — this is the important point — my student loans were minimal. The latter reflected the fact that, because I knew that my parents had no wealth, I had no wealth, and my career options as a history major were limited, I was unwilling to hunt around for a different school that would, inevitably, have been more expensive.

It never occurred to me to take on a debt load that I might not be able to repay. My college choice and student loans were calibrated to my expectations. I even chose an affordable (albeit marvelously wonderful) law school. By the time I graduated, after 7 years of higher education, I had only $15,000 in debt, which I paid off within three years.

For me, being prudent in my financial obligations was a no-brainer. I mean that. My brain never raised the possibility of taking on a larger debt load than I could reasonably handle. Instead, when I needed more money for pesky little things like tuition and textbooks, I got a job. Several jobs. Summer jobs. School year jobs. Evening jobs. Whatever. I also lived at home when I could, which wasn’t fun (although my Mom, bless her heart, did my laundry). My parents charged me rent (don’t ask), but I paid them less than I would have a third party landlord. All in the name of going to school the old-fashioned way: affordably.

Nowadays, of course, student loans are de rigueur. How do I know that? Because it seems as if every one of the loopy Occupy Wall Street dudes and dudettes interviewed complains about those students loans. (See here, for example.) Two out of thirteen of the demands on the Occupy Wall Street website focus on student loans:

Demand four: Free college education.


Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

It’s pretty clear that a core issue animating these protesters is the ridiculous debt obligations that they voluntarily assumed. It’s therefore almost funny to see the working class union types leaping on board to help out kids whose demands, if acceded to, will pile ever greater debt on the ordinary working stiffs in America.

Student loans started out as a good idea. The GI Bill got the whole thing started, by having the government create a program that provided higher education for those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The end result was a dynamic, educated group of former military people (trained, disciplined, seasoned and responsible) who helped sweep the country to great prosperity during the 1950s and early 1960s.

What most people forget now is that the GI Bill was payment for services rendered. In that way, it differed dramatically from student loans, which are payments for . . . what? It’s questionable whether those students currently getting “educated” at America’s top propaganda institutions . . . er, colleges and universities, will contribute anything to the economy — and we know that render any services to the American people, in the cause of American freedom, in exchange for those cash handouts.

Nor are student loans analogous to any other types of loans, all of which require security, in the form of a tangible item (your house, your car, your engagement ring) or in the form of a guarantee from someone other than the federal government. Guarantees from someone other than the federal government mean that some knows the borrower really well, and is willing to gamble on the debtor’s success and integrity.

In addition to sending a message to the lender (“this person is a good risk for loan purposes”), personal guarantees also impose a moral obligation on the debtor, who might well feel constrained to pay back a loan before the bank takes Mom’s house away. By contrast, those federal government guarantees are nothing more than debt shifting. Just as the navel-gazing student feels no obligation to pay back the bank, he doesn’t feel any obligation to pay back the government, either.

Free money for entitled young people has created all sorts of problems. First, of course, it’s driven up college tuition costs. With the government writing the check, there’s no reason not to have creeping tuition inflation.

Second, the student loan program has given young people the completely unfounded and unreasonable belief that their current economic situation and future earning potential are irrelevant to their academic choices. You can just see them thinking “So what if I’m broke now and am going on to become a womyn’s study or GLBT major and future barista. Society still owes me $200,000 to enjoy a few years at Harvard.”

Third, the loans have expanded greatly the number of young people who can be indoctrinated in Marxist crap by grossly overpaid professors at America’s “finest” schools. On that subject, the Occupy Wall Street demand I referenced above is a perfect example of the product emerging from these overpriced academies of indoctrination. The demands are unicorn and fairyland stuff, made possible only by immersion in the academic world of Marxist fantasy.

And fourth, the loans have created a self-entitled group of people who, rather than pay off their debt, feel that it’s totally appropriate for them to attack others’ financial livelihood, as they’re doing now when they try to interfere with our nation’s economic core.

Here’s something to think about when you think of those college and post-college debtors swarming America’s financial centers: Back in the 1960s, college campuses were awash with anti-War protesters. They spoke, yelled, and screamed about American imperialism, about downtrodden Vietnamese villagers, and about blood-thirsty American soldiers. These vehement, and often violent, protests ended abruptly in 1973. In a way, this was rather surprising, because American imperialism, downtrodden Vietnamese villagers, and blood-thirsty American soldiers were still topping the nightly news. What changed, though, was that the college kids no longer had skin in the game: the draft had ended.

Just as the Vietnam war protests had nothing to do with actual principles, and everything to do with a spoiled generation’s fear of the draft; so too do today’s protests in America’s financial centers have nothing to do with concerns about America’s economy, and everything to do with deadbeat kids who willingly took on an unreasonable amount of debt, and are now facing the financial consequences for their cupidity and stupidity.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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SF Chronicle assures us that the story about the teacher who banned “God bless you” was just a tempest in a teapot

Friday, September 30th, 2011 - by Bookworm

I’m growing very fond of Jill Tucker, a “journalist” at the San Francisco Chronicle who gives me lots of meat for my blogging. A couple of weeks ago, I looked at her incurious (some might say lazy) reporting about the decision the Oakland Children’s Museum’s made to cancel a controversial art show consisting of pictures that Palestinian children had allegedly drawn. (I say allegedly because people more familiar with fakes than I think it is highly unlikely that real children created the pictures.)

Tucker ignored entirely the far-Left, anti-American, anti-Israel, antisemitic nature of the group sponsoring the show, and managed to make it sound as if these works were equivalent to Jewish children’s drawings and poems from Terezinstadt. With few exceptions, those child artists died in Auschwitz’s gas chambers. They didn’t shop at local malls or swim in Olympic pools. And when doctors attended those Jewish children, their goals were malevolent, not humanitarian.

Tucker is at it again, this time with a report purporting to explain that the teacher who punished students for saying “bless you” in class had no anti-religious motivation whatsoever. To give Tucker credit where credit is due, this story starts with good spin. She announces, loudly and repeatedly, that the kids who received penalties weren’t exercising ordinary good manners when they said “bless you;” they were, instead, acting out solely to irritate their teacher:

It all started when high school health teacher Steve Cuckovich disciplined his freshman students at Will C. Wood High School last week for repeatedly disrupting class by responding to sneezes with a overenthusiastic chorus of “Bless You.”

The sneezer would then thank each giver of the blessing individually.

Cuckovich, as teachers have done since time immemorial, decided to nip that behavior in the bud by docking student grades for the offense.

See? Totally innocent. Naughty students; appropriately strict teacher. Every one of us remembers those days from our own high school years.

How in the world, then, did this story become a world-wide kerfuffle? Tucker knows who was at fault: A busy-body parent and Fox News turned garden-variety classroom discipline into a Christian-outrage cause célèbre:

A parent saw the deduction and made a phone call – not to the teacher or the principal or even an elected official, said district Superintendent John Niederkorn.

And that’s about when Cuckovich found a local Fox TV news reporter in his classroom asking why he was banning “Bless you.”

Our good soldier Tucker describes the way in which religious zealots around the world (i.e., Christians) got their knickers in a twist merely because a teacher clamped down on disruptive behavior. She explains carefully, with myriad quotations yet, that Cuckovich’s only sin was the fact that, in the heat of the moment, he punished the students for saying “bless you,” rather than focusing more generally on the fact that they were disrupting his class.

So far, I am totally with Tucker. she’s right. Absolutely right. Her damage control is pitch-perfect. Tucker starts singing badly out of tune, however, when confronted by Cuckovich’s own conduct immediately after the fact. That was when he got the opportunity to explain in his own words what happened in that classroom (emphasis mine):

Cuckovich, however, inadvertently added to the controversy by explaining to reporters that he used the situation as a teaching moment, educating students on the origins of “bless you.”

It appeared to be an effort to reason with students before punishing them, but it added fuel to the religious fury.

“The blessing doesn’t really make any sense anymore,” he told the Sacramento Fox TV news affiliate. “When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying God bless you for getting rid of the evil spirits. But today, I said, really what you’re doing doesn’t make sense anymore.”

I love that Tucker-ish word “inadvertently.” You see, the problem wasn’t what Cuckovich did. It was that he explained what he did. Tucker seems to find nothing unnerving about a public school teacher who lectures students about the fact that “God bless you” is an archaic throwback to a primitive time when people actually believed in God and evil, and then explicitly censors that term in his classroom.

So there you have it: In Tucker-world, it’s always entirely accidental when a teacher displays religious hostility in a classroom.

I don’t doubt that Cuckovich was legitimately irritated by genuinely bad behavior from his students. Had Cuckovich limited himself to explaining the ancient origins of a commonly used phrase, while reminding students that disruptive behavior is always subject to penalty, there would have been no story. What makes the whole story newsworthy, and Tucker’s spin silly, is the fact that Cuckovich launched into what amounts to a “God is dead” lecture to justify his decision and then took the extra step of explicitly prohibiting the phrase “God bless you.” You begin to get the feeling that this guy is an atheist (which is perfectly okay, as I’m periodically one myself), and that he wants to pass that belief-less system on to his health class students (which is not okay).

As it is, even thought I’m an intermittent atheist and periodic agnostic myself, I’m willing to take all the blessings I can get. We live in a tough world, and there’s a lot to be said for a little good feeling coming from both those around us and, assuming he’s not dead, from God himself.

God bless you!

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Elizabeth Warren — Mob Boss

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 - by Bookworm

I woke up this morning to find that my Leftist friends literally plastered Facebook with the above poster. (Since I grew up and still live in the Bay Area, I have lots of Leftist friends.) If the text on the image is unclear, this is what it says:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you.

But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory. [Bookworm note: Warren must have made this statement before the Gibson Guitar factory raid, when marauding bands of government agents did precisely that to a factory that forgot to pay off the Democrats.]

Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

There are so many things wrong with Warren’s statement that I really don’t know where to begin. Tonestaple sent me an email that certainly gets the tone right (which led to my post’s title):

They [meaning the middle class Leftists who applaud the above statement] seem to think it is the ne plus ultra of common sense. I think it sounds like a gangster saying, “Nice factory you’ve got here – be a shame if anything happened to it.”

As my interlineation about Gibson Guitar shows, Tonestaple perfectly nailed the reality behind Warren’s cutesy, nursery school-esque, “God blessy” statement that everybody should share with everybody else.” The reality is that, in Obama world, if you don’t make nice with the government, the government is not going to make nice with you. (The cutesy tone, incidentally, is classic Warren. She was one of my law school profs, and I found her invariably sweet in word, unintelligible in substance, and vaguely vicious in action.)

Tone aside, there are two major problems with Warren’s factory parable. The first is the assumption that the factory owner contributed nothing to roads, education, police and fire forces, etc. In Warren’s world, the factory owner is a pure parasite. Warren conveniently forgets that the factory owner pays taxes (hugely more taxes than all those people whom she posits paying for roads, education, etc.); that the factory owner provides work for and pays the salary of those employees who then pay taxes; and that a successful factory owner makes a product that provides a benefit to people.

The second problem with Warren’s statement is actually a much more profound one than her “forgetting” that it’s the employers who provide the goods, services and salaries that make all those useful taxes possible. Warren’s statement turns the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and everything else the Founders stood for upside down.

In Warren’s world, a socialist world, the government owns everything. (And don’t you love it when well paid Harvard professors advocate socialism?) The Founders would have been horrified by Warren’s pronouncement. As their writings demonstrate, they believed that natural rights, the rights that ought to govern any righteous nation, mandate that ownership is vested in the individual. The government is merely a servant of the people. We, the people, pay its salary (taxes) so that it can provide services for us. That’s all.

You don’t have to go very far to understand that the Founders wouldn’t have agreed with Warren that the government allows people to own things, provided that they then make nice with the government. Our seminal document, the Declaration of Independence, spells out the master-servant relationship, and it is the people who are masters and the government the servant, not vice versa:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

These were the principles on which our nation was founded, and they provided the guiding paradigm for our Constitution. When my children ask me what the Constitution is, I have a very simple answer: It’s a contract under which the federal government promises to provide certain limited services for the American people and, further, promises not to abuse the power that the people hand the government to enable it to carry out those services. Elizabeth Warren clearly has no use for our nation’s contract.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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Californians: Do Not Get Sick Between Thursday and Saturday, Because the Unions Are On the Move

Monday, September 19th, 2011 - by Bookworm

I’m surprised that there’s so little news about an upcoming nurses’ strike in Northern and Central California. This story should be a big deal, in large part because the nurses who are going on strike in thirty-four Northern and Central California hospitals actually have no complaint. Instead, they’re putting thousands of patients at risk because their union wants to show its sympathy to another union (emphasis mine):

Thousands of registered nurses plan to walk off the job at 34 hospitals in northern and central California on Thursday in one of the largest such labor actions here in years.

Up to 23,000 nurses could be involved in strikes at Children’s Hospital Oakland and the large Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente systems, union leaders said.


Kaiser nurses signed a contract earlier this year, but they plan a sympathy strike Thursday to support members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who will walk off the job at Kaiser facilities in a separate contract dispute.

Here in Marin County, there are three hospitals: Kaiser in San Rafael, Sutter in Novato, and Marin General, which broke with Sutter a year or two back. For up to three days, starting Thursday morning, there will be only one fully functional hospital in Marin, a county with more than 250,000 residents (emphasis mine):

Workers at all of the North Bay Kaiser facilities will be striking, but consolidated picket lines will be held in Santa Rosa, San Rafael and Vallejo, NUHW spokesman Leighton Woodhouse said. The strike would include about 220 workers across the North Bay, at facilities in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

The California Nurses Association, with some 17,000 registered nurses at Kaiser facilities, will join the union as part of a sympathy strike, according to NUHW, which will amount to the largest strike in Kaiser’s history. Workers will walk off the job for one-, two- and three-day durations from September 21 to 23.

What’s just as bad is the way in which the hospitals, which cannot take the risk of patients dying because of the strike, will have to cope with the nursing deficit. Kaiser, for example, is flying in strike-breakers, at a cost of $9,000 or so per strike-breaker. The deal with these fly-in nurses is that they insist upon receiving a five-day contract, even though this strike is projected to last only one to three days. While it would be impossible for Kaiser to have a replacement for each of the approximately 17,000 nurses on strike, the money Kaiser will be forced to pay out for this sympathy strike is outrageous.

Things are even more complicated than simply finding replacement nurses at incredible expense. Most of the hospitals involved now have very complicated computer systems that are custom designed for each hospital chain. These computer systems control everything: nurse’s notes, doctor’s notes, pharmacy, lab tests, treatments, billing — you name it, it’s all computerized. What these means is that hospitals are no longer fungible. In the old days, a chart was a chart, and that was true whether you were in a hospital in Schenectady or San Francisco. Nowadays, though, nurses have to understand computer systems that are unique to a given hospital. That nurse who’s been flown in from out-of-state doesn’t know Kaiser’s or Sutter’s computer system. For those nurses, it’s like having to fly a 747 when you’ve only flown a Piper before.

And again, let me remind you that the nurses aren’t walking off the job to improve their own working situation. This is all about union solidarity. So, my advice to you, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the northern parts of Central California is to play it safe starting Thursday. Even if your hospital isn’t one of the ones dealing with a strike, it might be feeling awfully overwhelmed. If you were thinking of doing some DIY work with power tools, hold off a few days. If you were planning on sending your kids to a park with lots of monkey bars, send them out to play on the lawn instead, or maybe just plunk them in front of the television. For the latter part of this coming week, you can’t be too safe.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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It just got more expensive to dine with Barack

Friday, September 16th, 2011 - by Bookworm

How chaotic must things be on the Democratic side of things when they can’t even keep track of how much it costs to raffle off a dinner with the president?  Two days ago, I got an email from Barack Obama himself telling me that, for just $5.00, I would be “automatically entered for a chance to join [him] for dinner.”  That’s pretty cheap at the price, I thought to myself.

Then, just a few minutes ago, Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Obama for America, sent me an email telling me that my dinner raffle ticket is going to cost me a whopping $25.00:

You got an email from the President a couple days ago, inviting you to sit down to dinner with him. Our records show that you’ve entered for that chance before and didn’t win — and I hope that’s not discouraging you from giving it another shot.

Because the fact is that someday soon, four more people who are reading this note right now will be on a plane to have dinner with President Obama in Washington, or Chicago, or wherever he might be that day.

This time, it could be you.

Donate $25 today and you’ll be automatically entered for the chance to have dinner with the President and three other supporters.

What’s up with that?  Either Barrie’s fickle or, as I suggested, his operation is so chaotic that no one really knows what’s going on.  Given reports about uprisings in the Oval Office and mismanagement in the West Wing, I’m voting for chaos.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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“In God We Trust” banned in California classrooms

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 - by Bookworm

Do you have any spare change lying around? Yes? I thought you might.

My dollar coins say “In God We Trust.”

My dollar bills say “In God We Trust.”

My quarters say “In God We Trust.”

My dimes say “In God We Trust.”

My nickels say “In God We Trust.”

My pennies say “In God We Trust.”

Every time I touch American legal tender, I touch the words “In God We Trust.”

Nevertheless, it turns out that those words are illegal — if they appear, not on a student’s coins, but on his classroom wall:

Saying a high school teacher has no right to “use his public position as a pulpit,” a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a San Diego County school district was on solid legal ground when it ordered a math instructor to remove large banners declaring “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE.”

Those inscriptions and others that longtime teacher Bradley Johnson displayed on his classroom wall amounted to a statement of religious views that the Poway Unified School District was entitled to disavow, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the appellate panel said, government employees, including public schoolteachers, have no constitutional right to express views in the workplace that contradict their employer’s rules or policies.

“Johnson took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon the impressionable and captive minds before him,” said Judge Richard Tallman in the 3-0 ruling, which reversed a lower-court decision in the teacher’s favor. (Emphasis mine.)

"Hey, you can't say that in here!"

I especially like Judge Tallman’s reference to “impressionable and captive minds.” Apparently those young minds can withstand the constant propaganda emanating from legal tender, but put it on a classroom wall and their mushy psyches are completely overcome. Under that kind of pernicious “God We Trust” influence, the next thing you know, those poor, weak-brained students are going to rush out and commit some heinous acts of morality and decency. You can see pictures of the hypnotic, over-powering banners here.

(By the way, if you’re getting old, as I am, and are trying to fix “God Shed His Grace On Thee” in your mind, it’s from “America The Beautiful,” a song that liberal media stalwart Lynn Sherr identified in her book about its creation as our “nation’s favorite song.”)

We need to stop worrying about al Qaeda and start getting seriously worried about our judiciary. For three federal appellate court judges to say that the motto imprinted on every coin in America constitutes a private statement of religious views that can be banned from the classroom crosses a line from Progressive to deranged.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room.

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Mother Earth now has legal standing in Bolivia

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 - by Bookworm

You’re thinking my post title is a joke, right? Wrong. It’s the God’s — er, I mean Gaia’s — honest truth:

With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

Once again, I’m at a standstill. I’d like to say something clever or insightful, but this reversion to a pre-Judeo-Christian primitivism has me absolutely hornswoggled.

I assume that the next law passed will be to authorize human sacrifice to assuage Mother Nature’s hunger. Any virgins in Bolivia might want to start sidling to the exit just about now.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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