Thursday, November 30, 2006

The N-Word and Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought

The Michael Richards "Nigger"-laced rant set me to musing. Richards lost it. He stopped being funny, but there was a point where everyone waited for the punchline. As one audience member said, "It never came."

The outrage and media management and apologies happened on cue. The whole process was boring in its predictability. The only truly pained person seemed to be Jerry Seinfeld. Here, Jerry's friend, his former co-worker used words in a shockingly aggressive and abusive way. Jerry knows the strain of stand-up. Jerry knows the pain of discrimination. Besides Seinfeld's angst, the whole thing seemed to be a typically contrived circus started by one racist's words.

Alas, what did Michael Richard's outburst reveal about artistic freedom and freedom of expression in general? Some humorists have focused their acts on poking fun of and stereotyping whole segments of the population--using ugly words, to boot. In fact, Chris Rock, while not calling an audience member a "nigger" did elucidate the difference between black people and "niggers" in his stand-up routine. Wait, that's OK because Rock is the right color.

And then there is Madonna splaying herself on a cross in one scene and dry-humping a male dancer in another--all for art. She is only the most well-known purveyor of pushing the envelope. And it's OK, because the Catholic Church is Christian and deserving of contempt.

Watching CNN issue its warnings and grim-faced reporting around the Richard's rant made me laugh. Pictures of blood-splattered Israeli dance halls blown to smithereens by suicide-bombers don't receive the same overwrought fear for American's delicate eyes and ears. Why should a past-prime ranting comedian?

Dr. Sanity gets more to the point. She says this:

I am, of course, waiting to see the site champion Michael Richard's racist rant, which Gloria Alred insists isn't free speech, but is "hate speech". I will be waiting until the cows come home, I fear, because the minions of the left are incapable of making such an abstract connection. To them, "hate speech" is any speech they happen to oppose, and it most certainly does not include speech by those poor, oppressed terrorists (terrorism doesn't actually exist in their minds except as a natural response to the evil of American Imperialism, Bush, or Israeli oppression--take your pick). For them, it is only really truly "hate speech" if the hate is directed at one of their specially-designated victim groups who are deemed to require special laws to protect their civil rights. Did you know that the left is deeply concerned about religious intolerance....but only for Muslims (one of their newest addition to their special victims unit) and NOT, of course, for the pervasive and nitpicking intolerance they routinely exhibit toward any symbol, word, or expression of Christianity. Now, isn't that shocking?

This sort of cognitive dissonance and intellectual insanity is not because they are particularly ignorant of the U.S. Constitution. Rather, it is because as Duke suggests, they have a very specific political agenda that has been slowly but surely changing American society into their utopia. This "social engineering" on their part doesn't give a damn about free speech except insofar as it can be used to forward their socialist agenda. It doesn't give a damn about freedom of religion, except insofar as it can be used to forward their socialist agenda.
She goes on to say that it's perfectly acceptable to throw hate speech at certain targets--President Bush, Americans, Jews, Israel, Christians. Like the aforementioned Madonna, who tramples Catholic symbols with glee, or Andrew Sullivan who "outs" Mormon "Christianist" religious garments while extolling Madonna's praise. That's free speech. That's OK because the targets are bad.

Free Speech is just a quaint notion used to forward a political position--the "correct" position. Otherwise, everyone else is branded as using hate speech. For example? John Ridley calls out Jesse Jackson, a social engineer extraordinaire, for his hypocrisy:
The big news coming out of this meeting of minds is that Jackson, as supreme leader of all things black, has launched Operation N-word Freedom, a campaign to liberate the nation (finally!) from the dreaded N-word. Jesse now challenges all black people everywhere to "give our ancestors a present." No, not the gift of elevation though education and hard work. Jesse wants us to stop using hurtful words.

Jesse wants this?

Jesse Jackson, the same cat who once referred to Jews as "hymies" and New York as "Hymietown"? This same guy who denied it when the statement was made public, kept up the denial after the journalist who reported his slur had his life threatened, and only under immense pressure finally admitted that, well, perhaps he'd made a slip of the tongue? Twice?

And he wants to lecture us regarding the usage of hurtful words?

I am all for having open and intelligent discourse on the word "nigger." What I am wholly against are hypocrites who sling hate in private, then smile to us while they lie, telling the rest of us that intellectual debate is closed.

Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but the America I support through paying taxes in my over-inflated bracket allows me not to bow down automatically to your linguistic fatwas. Not all of us quake and quiver before mere words.
Oprah interviewed Jay-Z, I think it was, in a recent issue and begged him to stop using the "N-word" in rap. She feels that it is an offensive word and just doesn't want it used, ala Jesse Jackson. The response was tepid. He talked about reclaiming the word and artistic freedom. In the artistic world, the world she is part of by the way, a world where she bashed hamburgers or some such and found herself in the position of defending her free speech, one would think that she would be sympathetic to an artist's pushing the limits, but that all depends on what the limits are and if she agrees with them. Are they "good"limits or "bad" limits? Sounds very moral and churchy, doesn't it?

Jeff Goldstein, getting his groove back, posted today about the speech police at John Hopkins inflicting serious harm on a student for inadvertently bumbling across the P.C. Barrier:
I’ve told this story before, but while I was teaching, a friend of mine was hauled before a review board because one of his Black students found Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” both “offensive” and “harrassing”— specifically, its use of the word “nigger.”

No sanctions were leveled against my buddy, but the very fact that he was required to put on a suit and tie and go present a defense reveals all one need know about the contemporary academy: no longer a place for the free exchange of ideas so much as a place where, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, the “correct” ideas, framed in the “proper” language, are celebrated, reiterated, and reinforced.

Like a church, almost.

He continues:
In the current case, this student is, in effect, being forcibly re-educated by the Hopkins administration; and the reason for this is that nowadays, instead of teaching students how to think, universities are more and more concerned with making sure students know what to think. And to that end, they are too often willing to resort to intellectual totalitarianism to fend off any potential opportunity for giving “offense,” including restrictive pre-emptive speech codes.

Such, naturally, has the very practical effect of stifling debate and winnowing down “acceptable” intellectual positions that may otherwise find fertile ground in discussions. And without those perspectives, mere assertions, by dint of going unchallenged, become articles of secular faith.

In short, we have reached the point where we have sacrificed inquiry at the altar of appearances, polishing and re-polishing the sham veneer of utopian order that tops the entire cheap edifice. Which is funny, because I’d bet that many of the 60s leftists who brought about the transformation of eductation by introducing postmodern sensibilities into the academy would never have imagined themselves to be the second coming of the Victorians.

One commenter points out that a closer analogy would be Stalinists, but Goldstein responds (and I'm paraphrasing) that he used the church analogy because it would be more offensive to the P.C. crowd. Stalin actually ain't so bad to them.

Will the artists notice the tiny circle they've drawn around themselves? My guess is that it won't bother them at all--as long as everyone is forced into the zealous, true-believer circle with them. One sacred world where no bad words (depending on who they're said to and said by), no bad thoughts and perfect purity is wrought. I wonder if this forced conversion will come at the point of the sword.

Jonah Goldberg: Americans Hate Losing

Have you heard the comparisons yet? If you're a consumer of the TV MSM you have. You've heard about how we've been in Iraq longer than we were all over the world during WWII. In a LA Times Op-Ed, Jonah Goldberg takes on that silly argument with this (I'm taking a rather long quote, the information is important):

Let us start with the obvious. World War II may have lasted 1,347 days, but it cost the lives of 406,000 Americans and wounded 600,000 more. Losses among Allied civilians and military personnel stretched into the tens of millions. Whole cities were razed, populations displaced, economies shattered. The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq remains much less than 1% of our WWII losses.

World War II ended when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Were it not for those grave measures, the war might have lasted for another year or two and cost many more lives. So maybe those wielding the WWII yardstick as a cudgel would prefer we gave Sadr City and Tikrit the Hiroshima-Nagasaki treatment? That would surely root out even the most die-hard insurgents and shorten the war. The phase of the Iraq war that was comparable to World War II ended in less than three weeks. Remember "shock and awe"? As far as such things go, the conventional war put WWII to shame; the U.S. military victory was akin to defeating all of Italy in less than a month.

The current phase of the Iraq war — whether we call it post-occupation, reconstruction, civil war or whatever — is really a separate war. It's at once a Hobbesian nightmare in which chaos rules as well as a complex, multi-front battle between various regional factions and their proxies. But as insurgencies go, it hasn't lasted very long at all or cost very many American lives.
The Media never seems to tire of being obtuse and melodramatic. Remember all the kvetching over the 1000 lost in Iraq? The implication that Americans just don't get how bad war really is got driven home daily, hourly. War is bloody hell. Who exactly wants wasted lives? Why those Neocons, of course! They like killing people--especially their own.

This nonsense turns deadly serious when considering withdrawing from a just-begun war. There are many "regional factions and their proxies" as Goldberg says and they've all come home to wage war with the Great Satan. Iraq is a nice, central location to bring the fight to the enemy. It is also a scene of some chaos.

One point Goldberg doesn't mention, is that while the Americans fought just under 1,500 days, the Brits and Russians and Germans and French and Japanese and Italians and everyone else all around Europe had been in the throws of serious warfare for some time--since September 1939. When the Americans entered and gave the Allies the boost they needed to overcome a conventional enemy (one whose troops ostensibly didn't view dying as a path to 70 virgins) the enemy had already been beaten down to a certain extent. And in Japan, where a cultish craziness gripped an entire population, serious fire fought that ideological fire. It might take some of this kind of fire to deal with the current cultish thinking.

Goldberg concludes:
Indeed, when partisans claim that the American people are fed up and want our troops home, they're deliberately muddying the waters. The American people have never objected to far-flung deployments of our troops. We've had soldiers stationed all over the world for decades.

What the American people don't like is losing — lives or wars. After all, you don't hear many people complaining that we still have troops in Japan and Germany more than 20,000 days later.

The notion of leaving Iraq behind to the same kind of fate as Vietnam is sickening. Now there's a legacy of Vietnam that's relevant. Turning tail and leaving allies to the mercy of murderous thugs--Americans can't like that. Turning tail and leaving America's interests exposed to destruction--Americans can't like that, either. Turning tail and leaving America exposed to an emboldened enemy--Americans must at least get bothered a little bit by that.

War is hell. America needs to give the enemy a lot more hell.

Glenn Reynolds Goes Both Ways

Welcome, Glenn, to the crazy club! For my 15th Anniversary present, my hubby bought me this and I must tell you, it's so choice! We have a old pieced together PC in the kitchen and my old Dell Inspiron laptop, but I am so spoiled by the Mac that I'm currently resisting the urge to buy what you just bought. It seems so.....indulgent and excessive given my other adequate computing tools.

I had the same trouble you had with posting, and Ann Althouse gave me the advice to post in Firefox and browse in Safari. She was right.

Apple is a joy. With being able to use the Microsoft stuff and go back and forth, why oh why bother with anything else? If I was Michael Dell or at HP, I'd be very worried.

False Rape Accusations

Thankfully, the blogosphere exists. Why? Because where the MSM lacks the will, intellect, curiosity, open-mindedness, fairness, time and money to honestly investigate truly important cases, a multitude of individuals have all these traits and more. Such is the Duke Rape Case.

With a corrupt DA, a complicit local media and a callous Duke campus, three young men would be sent down the river (and they still might, heaven forbid) with no advocates whatsoever. Instead, sites like LieStoppers are doing a huge service to keep this information front and center.

Why do I think this case is so important? Well it's about race, true. It's about class, true. It's about sex, true. It's about feminism, true. But what it's really about is justice or lack thereof because of all of the above social factors together.

Rape, next to murder, is one of the most heinous crimes. Brutality in the sexual form has such far-reaching consequences to the victim. It can truly be said that a woman's life is never the same after the experience. Her sex life, her self-view, her societal view all get changed in an instant. This affects her relationships. This affects how she teaches her children about the world. It is a soul-stealing crime from which some people never recover.

When a woman falsely accuses a man of this crime, it is doubly horrendous. She knows the societal implications. She knows that rapists and sexual predators are viewed with more scorn than murderers. Her intent is to do great harm to a person's reputation and she knows that the likelihood of the man ever getting his name back is almost nil. That's one reason false accusations are so bad. The other reason it's horrendous is the damage done to all women who might face this crime. Lying, vindictive women injure not just the wrongly accused man, but also women trying to muster the courage to bring such a difficult charge to light.

The Duke Rape case is so without merit and such a miscarriage of justice, it should cause every single one of us to sit up and pay attention. The consequences of this case are enormous. Three men have their very lives hanging in the balance when it should all just be over. And yet, because of jealousy, racial vendettas, and prosecutorial malfeasance, the case marches on.

When a woman is raped, she is rendered compliant because to fight often means the threat of death. It's the helplessness, the violence and the invasion that damage her. And here these men wait--helpless, rendered compliant and experiencing violence and invasion.

Injustice for one of us is injustice for all of us. This case must be dropped.

ACLU Nativity Scene

Stop the ACLU reports on some intrepid and funny students bringing awareness to the expunge-God-out-of-the-U.S. movement headed by the ACLU. Gary and Joseph and angelic Nancy Pelosi looking over all: Why, it's a Festivus for the Rest of Us in the secular U.S.

Christian Surrender

In the midst of my lack of bliss, I read this post by Gina Cobb, liked it and then never linked it. Christian leaders now call for Christians to give up their divisive beliefs--like in Jesus.

Do you ever hear Feminist groups say,"Honey, if you just hiked up your skirt, cooked more and stopped mouthing off, maybe he wouldn't beat you like a rented mule."? And yet, Church leaders, political leaders, and every too-smart pointy-head from the venerable James Baker to Colin Powell advises us to bend ourselves into pretzels and that will stop the beatings.

I love this new direction! It's so retro! What's next poodle skirts and bomb shelters? Wait, that second one isn't even funny.

Baghdad Blah

Why do we listen to reporters who report on Iraq from their cushy hotels in the Green Zone? We shouldn't. There are actually a few reporters who are going and doing the dirty, gritty, up-close work. We should be reading them.

Read all about it at RightWingNews.

Culture of Disgustion--UPDATED Scroll Down for Vaginas!

Another UPDATE: I have gone over and read Alabama Liberation Front before. I'm adding him to my Blog Roll. His analysis is excellent. He strikes me as a guy like me! Christian, but a little underwhelmed with this kind of thing:

Britney, despite her increasingly skanky behavior, is still rather nice to look at. I am, as I have often averred, a holy-roller in my deepest beliefs, but I think some people get a bit legalistic -- yea, verily, some of our brethren in Christ tend toward being prudes and killjoys.
Anyway, I too, noticed a dirth of coverage, shall we say, about Britney's lack of coverage in the Rightosphere. But, these latest developments in Britney's world are significant. She represents more than one trend worthwhile to examine and ALF notes this, too:
But, as I said, when a star of Britney's magnitude -- and she was, just a few years ago, the most popular singer on the planet -- feels the need to do what she's been doing lately, one must realize that there is a profound significance:
Britney's decision to go with the Yul Brenner treatment, I believe, shows the triumph of the pornographic ethos in American pop culture. ...
In the porn culture, sex is not an act experienced for its own sake -- either for physical pleasure, or as an expression of emotional feeling -- but rather is a theatrical production aimed at producing an effect on the audience. ... This is the commodification of sexuality, which goes back to the very meaning of "pornography," and the Greek word for "prostitute."
Something is horribly, disastrously wrong with a society whose most wealthy, famous, beautiful and popular young women:
  • Cannot seem to maintain a stable romantic relationship for more than a few months;
  • Feel compelled to obtain plastic surgery;
  • Frequently engage in substance abuse or exhibit symptoms of mental illness; and
  • Have the poor taste to exhibit themselves naked, or nearly so.

So, I go over and read Alabama Liberation Front, he's interesting and incisive. I'll post more on Britney if you will, Ali-Bubba.
Do you keep up on the comings and goings of Paris and Lindsey and her (freaky) mom Dina and Ashlee and Jessica and their (freaky) dad and now Britney? If you don't, and I really hope you don't, there has been a new way to get press. It's better than rehab! It's better than botox! It's better than dumping a money-grubbing no-talent hanger-on hubby!

What is it? The best P.R. practice is baring one's bare nether-regions. Four times in the last few months Lindsey Lohan has been caught sans panties earning herself the nickname Fire Crotch. Four times in the last week(warning!!! not suitable for work or anywhere, but in the interest of fair linking, ugh!), Britney Spears has followed suit. It should be noted that her last child was delivered by Caesarean.

What is going on with these young ladies? Is this just the new millenium version of burning a bra?

This development repulses and dismays. It's right up there with the liberal use of the "N" word in the rapper world. Purposefully exposing oneself over and over and having it blasted all over the world seems like a major self-esteem problem. Either these girls believe that they are so exposed it doesn't matter (Britney, doesn't this matter to your mother? Or at least your divorce attorney?) or they believe they can't be exposed enough. I'd like to assure them all that there is such a thing as bad press. Or at least very disgusting press.

Ace has more.

UPDATE: Maxed Out Mama has had it with the vagina fetish. Maybe this is what's going on with Britney and Lindsey--maybe they're just exposing their brains as Eve Ensler would assert.

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Bill Gates: How to Become an Elitist Snob

A project under development by Mary Lou Jepson, a former Intel chip designer, seeks to put $150 laptops into the hands of the world's children. While I wouldn't allow my children unfettered access to a laptop, they do get the benefits of using the information highway for all sorts of research. We have learned about pirates and other important people--forget the library, we go straight to the sources.

I can see how this access to information would be an advantage to a child out in the middle of nowhere. Like books, a computer can be a tool to connect people, educate people.

Bill Gates once thought this, too. According to his biography on his website:

Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal computers. Gates' foresight and his vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.
I tortured myself and read Gate's book Business at the Speed of Thought. My distinct impression was that like Sam Walton, Bill Gates was driven by a populist urge to get power to the people.

Now, a project presents itself to get information power to all the world, and Bill Gates balks:
The detractors include two computer industry giants, Intel and Microsoft, pushing alternative approaches. Intel has developed a $400 laptop aimed at schools as well as an education program that focuses on teachers instead of students. And Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and a leading philanthropist for the third world, has questioned whether the concept is “just taking what we do in the rich world” and assuming that that is something good for the developing world, too.
How is more information a bad thing? Does he fear for the U.S.'s security, as computer networking enables the bad guys to communicate and learn bad things? Ha! If only, he had that concern.

No, I think Bill has morphed with his big bucks into a classic leftist elite. More concerned about maintaining power than innovating and a whole lot smarter than you or me, he wants to horde information.

There is this notion that people of different cultures have different fundamental needs than those of us lucky enough (would never say blessed) to live in Western society. That is just snooty nonsense. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are the same today as ever. And Viktor Frankl was right, too: Men need meaning in their lives.

After being fed, clothed, and cared for, why not feed and care for the Third World's minds, too?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cruisin' in "Paradise": A Thanksgiving to Remember

Have you noticed that I haven't blogged about my second cruise in as many months? Besides being distracted by cleaning up (my own) projectile vomiting, the cruise....lessee, how to put it.....blew chunks of deck chairs, literally.

On Sunday, the day of coming home, the day of blessed relief, I ate my mother's undercooked stuffing, prematurely evacuated from a warm-to-cool turkey in a fit of still-regretted expedience. The hubby and I drove home in our old, paid-for Chevy Malibu, bouncing along, eagerly anticipating first, our children's hugs and smiles and second, the only good meal we would get for a week. What's better than a squishy toddler and mashed potatoes? Nothing, I tell you. And that dream kept me going for the hour and half home from the port, driving as fast as legally allowed to get away, away from that wretched sea-god Poseidon.

Right now, you're asking, "But Melissa, wasn't the cruise, like, totally awesome? Sun-kissed, sex-blessed and in every other way hedonistic?" In a word: No.

Twenty foot waves buffeted us. Brisk temperatures prompted the helpful ship people to say as the hoards desperately made for the exits in Key West (a few hours late, mind you, some poor schmuck had a heart-attack and the ship had to meet the coast guard), "We strongly advise those debarking in Key West to bring their parkas and umbrellas." Did that lady just say "parka" on a cruise ship? Yes, it was that cold. And wet. And rainy.

But, what the hell! Key West was solid ground and I didn't care if a monsoon was coming through. I wanted O-F-F. We did enjoy a nice, peaceful meal in Key West. Steve dragged me back on the boat later that evening. If money were no object (is it ever not an object?), we would have gotten a flight and left from there. It would have been a good decision.

Did I mention that we started popping Dramamine? That helped take the edge off the rocking and rolling, but made us woozy and weird. No problem. The old folks we hooked up with to play Bridge took advantage of our feeble-mindedness and spanked us mercilessly three days in a row. I'd have been paying more attention to my smarting hind-quarters, except...

I broke out in hives, for the first time of my life, all over my body except for my face. The face-sparing nature of this plague was fortunate for a variety of reasons--not the least of which cruise ships are public places and if you want to eat or not lose your friggin' mind, you must leave the little rat-hole called home for a week. But, I digress. So I have hives. I'm in the horns of a dilemma here. Sick as a dirty dog with the boat's motion in ocean and no Dramamine on the one hand or covered from neck to ankle in hives. Nice.

The Dramamine got chucked. The hives thing also had another possible cause. Since my face was spared, we reasoned that I suffered some sort of allergy to the detergent ostensibly used by the sheets of our "bed". I might add here that there was no mattress cover. I might add that the pillows smelled like some dude's head. So I could have been allergic to the cooties left behind on a bed that hasn't been cleaned or changed since the boat was built sometime in the 80s.

One day, one day in Cozumel, the gorgeous Aztec sun warmed up to 83 degrees. We dared dip our toes into the ocean (invigorating!). Only one night left on the blasphemed ship, thankfully. And though, it was the calmest seas we experienced, the anticipation of home, sweet, sweet home, kept us up and agitated.

Dinner. Thanksgiving. The blessed transcendence of water pressure and a clean bathroom. My own, comfy, relatively hygienic bed. Bliss. Thank you, God, for home.

The next day, the kids back in school, the hubby back at the office and I am driving mom to the airport for our sad farewells. "Have fun in balmy Chicago!" Back home, I feed the kiddo lunch. I feed me lunch. Guess what? Why, leftovers of course! I wasn't feeling too great at this point, but what the heck? The food on the ship stunk. I was still feeling woozy. That must be it.

Why, I'm really not feeling all that great. I think I'll take a nap.

Kids home from school, wake me out of coma, by knocking on the door. What the? I slept for three hours? All I did on the ship was sleep. Man, I don't feel good.

Snack. Homework. Dinner. But no dinner for me. Hubby home. Kid's bed.

I feel like going to bed--at 8p.m. Anyone who knows me knows I haven't gone to bed at 8 p.m. for decades. This is not normal. I say to my husband, "I'm not feeling so good. You better not sleep with me. I don't want you to catch anything." He responds, "Call me if you need help."

At 1 a.m. it begins. I'll spare you the gory details. (I don't know why, I've told you everything else. Oh well, I guess I have limits after all. That would be good news for my therapist if I had one.)

I've been in a time-warp where food and internet do not exist. Nothing exists. Is this Nirvana? My brain has been crushed by a B-movie slasher headache. My joints, wrists, ankles, knees, neck, everything ache, which is really, really weird. I've never experienced this symptom before. Chills. Cramps. I'm like a horse with colic and no one will shoot me.

My eyes are still photo-sensitive. It is through great discomfort that I've written this post for you, dear reader. I suffer for my art. Hopefully, my tragedy is your comedy.

And on that cliche, I'll end my sad story. I hope you had a more traditional Thanksgiving this Thanksgiving.

American Civil War: A New One--Updated

Is a new American Civil War possible? I've mused on this notion, mostly dismissing it because it's so uncomfortable to contemplate and then Glenn Reynolds writes about it today in his TCS Column:

One question is "who's 'we' here?" I don't see much of a sign that the American public -- which, after all, overwhelmingly favored centrists in this month's elections -- is as divided as Card suggests. But -- as Card also notes -- the elites are much more divided, and the media tend to play up those divisions, because division and conflict are good story-drivers. ("We live in a time when moderates are treated worse than extremists, being punished as if they were more fanatical than the actual fanatics.") To the "activist" crowd on the left and right, people who don't share their views 100% are evil, and on the other side. This tends to backfire politically, which I think is why the elections favored centrists this time, but that doesn't stop the polarization. In a way, it tends to make it worse.
He brings up an interesting point here about the moderates in the middle. He talks about them being treated worse than the extremists. Hmmm.... I have found myself riled up by "moderates"--not because they are so philosophically far away from my views but because they seem so ignorant of their own views. Some don't know what they believe or why. This leads to places where voting comes down to "feelings" and the big picture is ignored in deference to the immediate and expedient.

What do I mean? Well, in the recent election a slew of centrists were elected, but they were Democrat. They said the right things to get elected, but the sum total of their election will mean a complete course change (leaving it behind) on fighting the War on Terror. Why? Because the newly-elected centrists will have zip to say about policy. The old extreme leftist guard will be putting forth legislation. The newbies will tow the line--or else.

I can understand the dilemmas posed by two parties so corrupt and smug and self-satisfied and utterly unconcerned about the voter's views. I can understand wanting to smack them all down. The moderates, those least likely to have a philosophy beyond "everyone should be nicer", sent a message: be nice!

But what does "be nice" mean? Does it mean be nicer to fetuses? Does it mean be nicer to terrorists? Does it mean be nicer to gay people? Does it mean be nicer to white and oriental people? (Affirmative action was smacked down in Michigan.)

I think this is what the moderates want:
  • Abortion: Make it hard to get and fewer in number, but keep it legal. It's probably a wrong, but a necessary evil. Besides, almost all my girlfriends have had one, I have too. Does that make me bad?
  • Gay marriage: Gay people are nice. They are our friends. We just feel like marriage is a word that means between man and woman and should stay that way.
  • War on Terror: We know there are bad guys out there, but do we need to have so many of our guys blown up? The notion of a long, protracted, messy war makes me queasy in the stomach. I don't know the solution, but I don't like what's happening. Can we just come home and regroup? They all hate us anyway.
  • Social Security: The trouble is fifteen years away, do we really need to think about it?
  • Affirmative Action: Racism is a rarity and wrong. It is wrong to have institutional racism, too. It's unfair to treat people differently. Racial preferences do that.
  • Taxes: Life has been good the last couple years but I'm still living beyond my means trying to keep up with the Jones. I've got lots of credit card debt. This makes me nervous. And then Social Security might not be secure. I don't want taxes to go up on me, but I think it would be okay for taxes to go up on anyone who makes more money than me.
  • Oil dependence: We know that using oil makes us dependent on other countries, but we just don't like the idea of digging holes in our tundra or ocean. That just seems bad. Let's keep things the same. I'll drive a hybrid and recycle to make myself feel better.
  • Immigration: We need a border fence for security. I really like my lawn guy and housekeeper. They are guilty pleasures, really. I wish they spoke better English, though. And I don't like subsidizing their health care costs, nevermind the bilingual program at school.
  • Media: They mostly tell the truth. I don't read the new media much. They're all so opinionated. It makes me uncomfortable.
Mostly, I see a trend of denial and ignorance. Those on the far Left and far Right have "solutions" based on philosophy driven by core beliefs. The moderates find a strongly held opinion very uncomfortable. They find finding solutions uncomfortable. They find the current political climate uncomfortable. They find the world situation uncomfortable.

We currently have a Congress who will probably come up with legislation that angers everyone--if they're capable of coming up with any at all. Negotiating compromise in this Congress will be like walking through chest-high glue. I don't expect much progress.

Maybe that's good for the country. Don't expect the philosophically motivated to see it that way, though. That's why Civil War isn't out of the question.

UPDATE: But what is happening at the edges of society?

Well, in Academia mob rule and eliminating dialogue is the order of the day. Will we come to a place where people choose their higher learning institution based on philosophy? Doesn't that work against the very notion of a liberal arts education?

The Anchoress has two very significant posts on the Media and War on Terror. How can you have moderate views on this issue? And here is a look at the enemy via Betsy. Again, I ask: how can you have moderate views on this issue?

How can you be moderate about press abuses unless you're uniformed or just plain cynical? Gateway Pundit has more about the AP bogus story.

And then, all one has to do is look around the world to see America's future should we give up the fight against Islamic terrorism. And there are some Americans who believe Sharia is a good idea in a multicultural world. How do you have a moderate opinion about this?

The problem as I see it, is that there are too many issues that require too much opinion. Moderation is likely to get one killed. So are the majority of Americans really moderate about the War on Terror?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Thanksgiving Stuffing That Keeps on Giving

Did you know that one out of four people gets food poisoning on Thanksgiving, mainly in the form of Salmonella or Ecoli. Well, Melissa has been sick for the last 48 hours due to said poisoning. She hopes to return to full time blogging as soon as this terrible ordeal passes. She hopes that you will continue to stop by and check out links in the meantime.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Mormon Mitt Romney: Religious Discrimination

Here in the USA, where a country was built on religious freedom, religious discrimination has become de rigeur among the smarter-than-thou elites. Ann Althouse talked about it over the weekend. She says this:

There is going to be a lot to monitor on this story. There's the usual way social conservatives and social liberals import religion into their struggle, but the addition of a distinctive new religion is making everything old new again. It could get really ugly. And make no mistake: Sullivan's move is an ugly one. He doesn't like social conservatives and the way they use religion, and he sees an opportunity to drive a wedge into them by raising questions about religious doctrine and prodding people to feel hostility toward Mormons. He thinks this is justified because -- he asserts -- the Republicans have won power by styling themselves as a "religious organisation." They've used religion to their advantage, so they deserve to have it used against them. But stirring up hostility toward one sect? That is a dangerous thing that goes far beyond the targets you think you're aiming at.
Here's the point: Leftists hate any form of Christian "religionist" as Sullivan likes to say. They are hoping to turn Christian's close-minded hatred against one another. The assumption is that religious people are evil, hating, close-minded idiots. That's why we've had gay Republicans pushed out of the closet with glee in the last elections. Never mind that the supposedly open-minded among us are bringing forth great personal destruction for political gain (which I don't think worked, by the way).

These purveyors of tolerance are actually purveyors of hate. It seems like it is hate toward Republicans, but it's really not. The hate is pointed at God--God's place in American society. A God who makes rules they disagree with and want banished for their own psychic comfort.

The "moral" victory to the Left will be when America is the secular belief vacuum that is Europe. Sin will cease to exist and everyone will be free--except those who believe in God.

More at Just One Minute.

AP Bogus Reporting Out of Iraq

Yet more reasons to believe less than half of what you read and all of what you see. AP has been using a bogus "reporter" for months. Gateway Pundit has it all. It's called propaganda and the press in on the other side.

Who's the other side? Any side that opposes the U.S. and Israel.

TV is Dead

Over at Techcrunch, TV has been declared dead:

The key tipping point will be when a startup is able to distribute proper television content over the Internet legally. People will begin to abandon their cable tv subscriptions in favor of Internet distribution. MobiTV is in the best current position to do this - they have a ton of cash and are only a few deals away from being able to offer the equivalent of a cable television subscription over the Internet. And The Venice Project may also win. iTunes will continue to pursue their pay per show model, and that will also take market share.
I agree. Here's why: About five years ago, we gave up TV. Recently, we got it back with the flat-screen craze. What have we done? We have watched movies and certain sporting events. Otherwise, forget it! The news I get online is better, more complete, less biased, and more varied. Plus, I can read it when I want to. TV, unless I pay an insane amount of money for cable and TiVo, must be watched at certain times--for content I pay for handsomely. What? I don't think so.

If I'm going to pay, it's going to be my way. For example, I really enjoy Battle Star Galactica (nerd alert), but don't want to waste time with commercials and story-line disruption. I buy the season at the end and watch it in order, on my time.

For extra perks and if the technology was easier, I'd download it, too. TV is dead--especially as younger people grow up relying on media content they master.

New York Times Investigation

After all the hullabaloo coming out of the Times about the Plame affair that wasn't, it's interesting how concerned they've become about revealing sources when they have essentially aided and abetted organizations being investigated by the government. After the Grey Lady leaked important terrorist-busting American intelligence gathering, they are going to have a tough time finding public, and as it turns out, Supreme Court Justices, sympathy now that the tables are turned.

Oxygen Monitor Worthless During Labor

Another intervention that does nothing:

The device, a fetal pulse oximeter, was meant to be used with fetal heart-rate monitoring, which is performed in 85 percent of births in the United States. Despite its routine use, the heart monitoring is controversial, because doctors adopted it in the 1970s without rigorous testing and then kept using it even after studies found that it led to higher Caesarean rates but not healthier babies. The heart monitors can create false alarms that lead to Caesareans.

Researchers had hoped that the fetal pulse oximeter would improve that situation — that monitoring both the oxygen level and the heart rate would help doctors do a better job of deciding when a baby was in trouble and needed to be delivered in a hurry. But it did not, the study found.

These interventions are actually harmful: they lead to more Caesareans which result in more interventions, longer hospital stays, more infections, and more complicated recoveries for mothers. In Houston, C-section rates are up to 50% and higher by some doctors.

This is absolutely insane. For ages, women have birthed babies the old-fashioned way, drug-free and without stupid interventions that impair the natural course of things. These days, women are so brain-washed that they believe birthing a baby to be a medical problem looking for a solution. And doctors decry their malpractice insurance rates. Why? They try to intervene and create an environment where birth can be "managed".

A baby is not a tumor. It will come out on its own 99% of the time. C-sections were a nice help for the 1-2% freak happenings. They have morphed into a fall-back position for mothers and doctors intent on controlling the uncontrollable. Birthing a baby is perfect preparation for parenthood--mysterious, with it's own timing and rhythm. Just like a baby's personality, the birth has it's own pace and pattern. Attempting to control it often leads to more problems.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Give Thanks

Are you an American? Are you a journalist? Michelle Malkin has a list of things to be thankful for.

Today, Sunday, I'm thankful, once again to have Gina Cobb guest posting for me. She did a fantastic job, as usual. (Gina, feel free to keep on posting whenever.)

I'm also thankful to be home, where my house is on a firm foundation. I have discovered that I could not live in a houseboat.

I'm thankful for my beautiful children.

We are making a list that anyone in the family can write on: 1000 things we're thankful for. We'll see how long it takes to fill up the list.

Medicating the Mind of a Child

From loading iPods to popping uppers, all in a day's work for a ten year old these days. The New York Times has an interesting article on the "scant" evidence for psych medication for youngsters. Well, that's not stopping the Psychiatrists I know. Who ever let evidence interfere with treatment--especially when parents want the easy out?

Many psychiatrists and parents believe that such drug combinations, often referred to as drug cocktails, help. But there is virtually no scientific evidence to justify this multiplication of pills, researchers say. A few studies have shown that a combination of two drugs can be helpful in adult patients, but the evidence in children is scant. And there is no evidence at all — “zero,” “zip,” “nil,” experts said — that combining three or more drugs is appropriate or even effective in children or adults.

“There are not any good scientific data to support the widespread use of these medicines in children, particularly in young children where the scientific data are even more scarce,” said Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

I'm going to write something very unpopular: ADHD and many other pseudo-diagnoses, are largely the results of poor parenting. Rather than continue, I'll refer you to the work of Dr. John K. Rosemond and Dr. Rogers H. Wright, specifically the chapters "The Diseasing of America's Children: The Politics of Diagnosis" and "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What it Is and What It Is Not" in the book Destructive Trends in Mental Health. It is a worthwhile read. It is no longer politically correct to look to the parents when children misbehave. It is now the standard to heavily drug children and there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that indicates any benefits. None. Zero. And yet, look what is happening:

Ms. Kehoe, who receives government financial and child-care assistance because her children are considered mentally ill, said she knew that there were risks to the drug cocktails. Both her sons are short and underweight for their age — a common side effect of stimulants — and she fears that the drugs have affected their health and behavior in other ways.

“But I don’t think the insurance would pay for it if the F.D.A. didn’t decide that children should use it,” said Ms. Kehoe, who herself takes psychiatric medication.

In fact, the drug agency has specifically warned against the use of Lamictal, one of the drugs Stephen takes, in children who, like him, do not suffer from seizures because in 8 out of 1,000 children the drug causes life-threatening rashes.

Stephen and Jacob’s psychiatrist did not reply to telephone messages left with an office secretary on three different days. Ms. Kehoe said that she asked him to speak to this reporter but that he refused. The boys have had 11 psychiatrists over the last three years, according to prescription records, and many more before that, Ms. Kehoe said.

Ms. Kehoe herself is medicated. Is it possible that Ms. Kehoe hasn't learned coping mechanisms and has taught her children the same maladaptive behaviors? Worse than this, though, are the physicians so willing to drug children when all evidence points to the fact that they simply don't work:

The use of two-medicine combinations in children is on much shakier ground. Even for single drugs, the effectiveness of some psychiatric medications in younger patients is questionable: most trials of antidepressants in depressed children, for instance, fail to show any beneficial effect. But hardly any studies have examined the safety or the effectiveness of medicine combinations in children. A 2003 review in The American Journal of Psychiatry found only six controlled trials of two-drug combinations. Four of the six failed to show any benefit; in a fifth, the improvement was offset by greater side effects.

“No one has been able to show that the benefits of these combinations outweigh the risks in children,” said Dr. Daniel J. Safer, an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and an author of the 2003 review.

If the evidence for two-drug combinations is minimal, for three-drug combinations it is nonexistent, several top experts said.

“The data is zip,” Dr. Hyman said.

No matter the med, no doctor can tell you how a two or three-drug interaction will affect an adult's body--that includes statins, beta-blockers and anti-cholesterol meds to name three commonly prescribed medications. Now, imagine a child's developing mind being subjected to powerful brain-chemical altering medications.

One of my first patients in clinic was a guy who had been on Depakote and Lithium almost his entire adult life. He was a drooling mess. Now children are routinely given tranquilizers, stimulants, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, etc. to moderate behavior.

This is a dangerous game being played on the minds of our children. No research exists supporting this invasive behavior by doctors. Children are walking experiments all to save parents and schools the difficulty of dealing with sensitive, challenging children.

Kids Growing Up Too Fast

Is 10 the new 15? Yes say parents and psychologists:

But as the limits have been pushed, experts say the stakes are also higher — with parents and tweens having to deal with very grown-up issues such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Earlier this year, that point hit home when federal officials recommended a vaccine for HPV — a common STD that can lead to cervical cancer — for girls as young as age 9.

"Physically, they're adults, but cognitively, they're children," says Alderman, the physician in New York. She's found that cultural influences have affected her own children, too.

Are you kidding me? I must be hopelessly naive. A nine-year old having sex? Where, pray tell, is a nine-year old alone to have sex?

The "adultification" (my new word) of kids is appalling. Here is an example:
Claire Unterseher, a mother in Chicago, says she only allows her children — including an 8-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter — to watch public television.

And yet, already, they're coming home from school asking to download songs she considers more appropriate for teens.

Guess what? My kids don't have an iPod (I do though) and they don't get to download music (I do though). I figure when they start earning money they can download music--you know downloading involves buying something. That takes money. Whose money?

It's subtle. Changing the argument from if it's OK to how to experience it. No one is asking if the act of going to iTunes and spending someone else's money is appropriate or not. It's assumed that it is perfectly normal for an eight year-old to navigate the web sans parent involvement--oh, except for mom and dad's bank card.

Are you kidding me? Maybe it's my excessive time spent on the web, but it's no place for a child unchaperoned. I'm not sure it's a place for teenagers unchaperoned.

I'm a fuddy-duddy. Mean, even. The TV is off-limits except for sporting events and we change the channels during commercials. All videos are filtered through boring old mom and dad. The kids do not get to watch videos in open-minded bliss. We've ruined Pocohantas for them--it's politically correct, factually incorrect (interesting how that goes hand-in-hand) clap trap. The kids know it. We don't own that video, by the way.

Even still, my seven year old daughter talks like a Valley Girl some days. She says she has to be "tough" at school. In second grade.

I feel like parents are conceding ground to the dark side. It is assumed a kid will be sexually exploited--magazines, web, peer influence. It is assumed a kid will act out on what he or she sees or hears. It is assumed that children will become little adults, celebrated even, at 10.

Well this parent concedes nothing. Parents, friends, push back. Be the bad guy. Turn off the TV. Nix the computer time. Say no to adultification and say yes to keeping kids kids.

Doesn't adulthood come soon enough?

Get Your Weekend Mark Steyn Here!

Mark Steyn never bores. Here's his latest -- a glimpse into where the world is headed.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Six Imams, Pray-Ins, and Your Safety

You probably heard that earlier this week, six imams who boarded a US Air flight in Minneapolis acted strangely enough to make their fellow passengers nervous.

It wasn't just that some of the imams prayed as a group, presumably in Arabic, before the flight -- although given that terrorists who killed innocent people on 9/11 and other dates have preceded and accompanied their murderous acts with prayers to Allah, that was disconcerting enough.

The imams also made critical comments about the war in Iraq -- not a crime in itself, but a little worrisome under the circumstances -- and asked for seat belt extensions that they reportedly didn't need. Also, some of the imams had purchased one-way tickets and had no checked baggage -- red flags for possible suspicion at times of heightened alert. All of this resulted in the imams being disinvited from the flight.

Predictable umbrage followed.

How unenlightened the passengers are! was the refrain. It's almost as if they fear that groups of Muslim men who engage in unusual behavior before boarding a flight might be up to something!

Where could they have gotten that idea?

The incident with the six imams may have all added up to nothing, or it may have been a trial run to test defenses, or it may have been an attempt to provoke a reaction, or something more. Who knows? More importantly, who knew then?

As I've pointed out elsewhere, instead of demanding that all the other airline passengers be more culturally sensitive -- i.e., willing to shut up and bet their lives that nothing was amiss -- why not ask the six imams to be more culturally sensitive? Why couldn't they pray 15 minutes earlier, preferably in a private room? If they had to pray in the airport waiting area, why couldn't they give the folks around them reassuring smiles and tell them that they would be praying now? At least one Muslim commentator at Gateway Pundit says the imams could have been more discreet.

But no. The usual victimology has begun. Some Muslims are threatening to boycott the airline.

Now we already have Muslims holding pray-ins at airports to protest the reasonable judgment call that US Airways made.

Pray-ins are fine. America could use more public prayer, especially by Christians. But when it comes to these six imams, it's not the praying per se that most people object to.

It's the veiled threat.

And there is a threat here; make no mistake about it. As Thinkinboutstuff points out, making passengers and crew members hesitant to act through repeated provocation followed by cries of discrimination could be used as a strategy to weaken our defenses.

That makes the Muslim pray-ins a threat to your safety. Don't stand still for it.

Maybe we should hold Christian counter-pray-ins right next to the Muslims and pray for, among other things, Americans with the courage to object when something seems wrong before an airline flight, and for Muslims with the courage to speak out against terrorism.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What is Going on in Russia?

Events of the last week raise the question: Is the Cold War really over, or not?

We've had a glimpse into the ruthlessness of public life in Russia this week when a former Russian spy and critic of the Kremlin was poisoned with a high dose radioactive substance.

Former spy Alexander Litvinenko has now died in a London hospital. He left a statement pointing to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his death.

According to reports, polonium-210, a radioactive element, was found in Litvinenko's body.

Before his death, Litvinenko had been investigating the death of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian investigative journalist who was gunned down Oct. 7 in her Moscow apartment building. Litivinenko had also been seeking to uncover corruption in Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB.

According to a report at, Litvinenko worked for the KGB and its successor, the FSB. In 1998, he publicly accused his superiors of ordering him to kill tycoon Boris Berezovsky and spent nine months in jail on charges of abuse of office. He was later acquitted and in 2000 sought asylum in Britain, where Berezovsky is now also living in exile.

Litvinenko's father told reporters tearfully that, "This (Russian) regime is a mortal danger to the world" and that "It was an excruciating death."

The U.K Times has an account of a final interview with Litvinenko before he died. The text of his final statement is here.

Meanwhile, Russia is selling rockets to Iran. Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defense rocket system to Tehran:

The United States has pressed Russia to halt military sales to Iran, which Washington accuses of harbouring secret plans to build a nuclear weapon.

Moscow has consistently defended its weapons trade with Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the contract for 29 rocket systems, signed in December last year, was legitimate because the Tor-M1 has a purely defensive role.

ITAR-TASS reported that the rockets were to be deployed around Iran's nuclear sites, including the still incomplete, Russian-built atomic power station at Bushehr.

It looks to all the world as if Russia is killing its critics and arming our enemies.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving and Food for Thought

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Here are some things to think about today.

What are the ten best things that happened in your life so far this year? Make a list with whatever big or small things come to mind. You may want to give it a few days of thought.

Who are you most grateful for in your life?

Who are you most grateful for in our public life?

If you prayed for anything this year, will you also say a prayer of thanksgiving today?

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. (Kahlil Gibran)

What brings you joy?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cruisin' the HIGH Seas

Besides the mid-sixty, rainy, dank, damp weather, besides the twenty foot swells, besides the cross ship winds rocking the ship from side to side, besides the smoke smell pervading the entire craft, the cruise has thus far been enjoyable. I had been feeling poorly when I got on the ship, my husband was feeling perky and hopeful. Let's just say that he didn't want me to feel left out.

At least the on-ship papparazi can't going into your postage stamp-size state room to take pictures is all I have to say.

Good grief! I'm green. Key West has never looked so good and can't come soon enough. I know, I'm on the second cruise of my life in the last two months, and I'm complaining. That should be a no-no. Alas, I complain. It's what I do. (It's genetic.)

Food sampled thus far: apple, tomato soup, lemonade, scone, crackers, frosted flakes. Bland, bland and more bland.

I just know this is going to get better. It's not fair feeling this bad and no alcohol whatsoever is involved.

Guess Who Wants to Draft You?

Hint: It isn't George Bush.

No, if you want to find support for the draft you have to look to a Democrat.

Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, who is set to head the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has announced that he wants everyone in America to be forced into compulsory national service for two years.
WASHINGTON - Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 under a bill the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says he will introduce next year.

Rep. Charles Rangel D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars. . . . .

He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, "young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

Now, does Charles Rangel actually want all of America's youth serving in the military? Is there some national security emergency that Rangel wants to address?

No! His whole idea is to take all of America's youth hostage and occupy them with whatever busywork the government can concoct (schools! seaports!) to achieve a political objective. He just wants to co-opt all the time of America's young adults to serve his political aims.

This is literally a call for involuntary servitude -- slavery if you will.

It rubs me so far the wrong way that I can't even begin to tell you.

I've written more here.

For other reaction, check out Michelle Malkin, Don Surber, Gateway Pundit, Blogmeister USA, ScrappleFace, Public Figures. . . Beware, Hot Air, and Nasty Brutish & Short

Friday, November 17, 2006

Christian Givers

Anyone who has been through a Hurricane (a Red-State phenomenon), knows that it wasn't the Federal Government who saved ordinary citizens from harm or helped them recover from catastrophe. No, other ordinary citizens, predominantly Christian citizens, from churches and business stepped in to help.

The local church-goers gave time, food, clothing, microwaves, beds, bedding, housing, nearly every concrete thing someone needs to live. They also gave money. They gave lots of money and they kept giving until, as the old Christian saying goes, it hurt. Lots of sermons about the Widow's two pennies and lot's of empathy for the pain and suffering.

Then there was the indirect giving. In Houston we have hospitals sponsored by Secularists, no by Methodists and Baptists (Baylor). There are Catholic charities. The majority of hospitals and all their affiliates are funded by church-going people...again.

Well a Behavioral Economist named Arthur Brooks has drawn attention to what most of us have observed in his new book titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism". Here are his conclusions:

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.
All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.
Well, we'll see. If my experience is any indication, it would be true. The local very conservative, very Christian community where I live, gave and gave. Our business was slow for six months and we weren't the only ones, as people gave any extra income they could to help Katrina and Rita survivors.

When the Government raises taxes and redistributes wealth it's way, I think spontaneous giving gets restricted. One, people just don't have as much money to give, so charities suffer. Two, people are less psychologically inclined to give because they feel that they are being taken from themselves. This creates resentment towards the "needy" because the giver has no direct connection--emotional, spiritual or otherwise to the recipient.

I am just curious, too. When 9/11 happened, a huge outpouring of money went from the Red States to the Blue States. I wonder, did the reverse happen during the Hurricanes?

Home for the Holidays

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, a psychiatrist, is doing a three-part series about home. They are all worthy reads. (Part III is coming.)

He talks about the phenomenon of removing material things (going camping as a family) to reveal what really matters--the haven we create together, that forms family.

Here is Part 1. How does our perspective on home shape our life?

It is from home that our most important life decisions are made. It is home that shaped many of our beliefs and attitudes, our awareness and self esteem, that feeling of worth- and in a healthy individual, that motivator to give to others. It is from our homes and families that we learn to share, to cope, to play and to forgive. We learn to be comfortable with ourselves. Most importantly, in a healthy home, we learn to laugh and be happy.
Or not.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Some people are so detached and resigned- they have no concept of what a healthy home really is. They believe that every home is like their own- broken, dysfunctional and abusive. They believe that the idea of a happy home is veneer thin, with everyone playing a role in what they know to be a farce. Beneath the surface, they believe, is the same living hell they have endured- every time they go home, history repeats itself. The fights, the anger, the humiliation, all replayed in an endless loop.
Part II:
What happens when a child has no home to go home to?

When a person grows up in an environment that is lacking in nurture, love and safety, they are in fact, incapable and lacking in the coping mechanisms they need to compensate for what was stolen from them. When a child does not experience the comfort of some cradling him or her, or someone who says, 'I'm glad you're here,' or 'I want you next to me,' that child will never cultivate the self esteem needed to go out and make a go of it. In fact, often, an unhealthy narcissism replaces that self esteem (see Dr Sanity , Neo-neocon and Shrinkwrapped for further discussion), something in no short supply nowadays.

To escape the inevitable narcissism, and I say inevitable, because a child with no anchor wonders eternally "why me"? Am I unlovable? Since my parent couldn't possibly be wrong, it must be me. So this person goes through life trying to figure out the reason, trying to prove mom and dad wrong. I AM lovable! Demanding the impossible from lovers and friends, this person must find a way to transcend the loss and only soul-searching and God-searching can do this. Otherwise, the narcissism becomes hopelessly fixed in the person's character. It will forever be "all about me" to make up for the fact that "it was never about me".

The consequences of this narcissism are exactly what the deprived child-cum-adult does not intend. Over and over, this person will be literally or figuratively abandoned because healthy people realize the impossible task eventually--to fulfill the adult-child's unmet childhood family needs. So the narcissist drives people away, proving, once again, that mom and dad were right after all--I am unlovable.

Ultimately, growing up depends on the adult child recognizing his or her parents for the fallible humans they are, that they were wrong, and that seeking validation externally won't work. If the adult child makes this difficult journey, he then must decide how to he wants to live his life now. He has no blue-print. He knows he doesn't want to do what his parents did to him, but what and how does he do for his children and family?

If a person from a dysfunctional background does not make this journey, the results will be as destructive in his own family. Unconsciously, or semi-consciously, he will make the same decisions, as if on auto-pilot and hate himself every minute, but feel helpless to stop it.

There are ways to turn this ship around:
  1. Trial and error: I remember spanking my first son and his horrified reaction, and feeling absolutely sick at myself. Not that I'm entirely against spanking, mind you, but for my autistic son (we didn't have a diagnosis yet) it was absolutely a disaster. That did not work, so I started reading about positive reinforcement--which did work.
  2. Re-education: What do "experts" say about family? I'm not a huge Dr. Phil fan, but his book on family is actually very good. Personally, I went and read Skinner, Lovaas, Maslow, Jung, etc. I also read Dr. James Dobson.
  3. Training: A good therapist, life coach, church Bible-study group, you name it, there are parenting classes and courses. The best ones challenge beliefs. I've seen people throw everything from their parents out in a fit of rebellion. They don't realize that they're still operating in their parent's context. True healing is recognizing the good, retaining it, and recognizing and letting go of the bad.
Starting your own family, creating your own traditions can be very satisfying. Like Siggy says:
Why we envy the mythical Bob Cratchit is because the values of a real home and the comforts that real home brings, are eternal. There is no later or newer model, no 'next generation.' In fact, what is real home and comfort becomes even more valuable with the passage of time- our lives, our experiences all add texture and meaning to 'home.' Those that have been fortunate enough to have had that can attest to it. Those that have not been so blessed, see it clearly- like the cancer patient who sees the healthy person. That person understands more than most, the value of the gift of health.

Understanding the Enemy

MaxedOutMama's fears about the Democrats notions of "the enemy" (I saw this early in the week and somehow didn't link it):

Nonetheless, it is this type of sentiment which is the driving force behind Pelosi's contingent. I think David of Photon Courier accurately summarized my worries:
...what scares me most about the Democratic victory is that the leadership of this party does not seem to understand that the threats we face are existential in nature--that devastating harm to this country, and to civilization itself, are well within the realm of possibility--and still less does the Democratic leadership understand the nature of those who oppose us.
He's right - they really don't. They are self-referential; they assume that everyone shares their worldview, and they believe that somehow the US is not threatened. Nancy Pelosi has been consistently against any realistic effort to bolster our internal energy sources, consistently against fighting terrorism abroad, and consistently against any real efforts to increase internal security. It's an amazing record.

Baby Naming

What's the weirdest baby name you've ever heard? I went to school with a Charmin Whipple. I kid you not. I felt sorry for her.

Betsy talks about weird baby names in England--the most egregious being "Arsenal". Can you imagine? There's also six Gandalfs. Now, don't tell my husband, that name would be enjoyed in these parts. A Peaches Honey Blossom, too. Awww......

O.J.: Making Orange Juice Out of Justice Oranges

I don't get the big deal. I mean, O.J. is innocent. Who cares if he makes a buck? His reputation was ruined, ruined! for a crime he didn't commit.

That's why I'm not worried about the Duke Rape Case, either. I trust the United States justice system--especially District Attorneys.

Oh, and that dude with nuclear plans in his suitcase and a bunch of money? It's a frame-up. I'm glad that they have assigned him a kick-butt lawyer--you know the kind that helps framed-up terrorists get off. Civil liberties are of utmost importance here.

Condi Concerned About China

Back in the day, my Western Civ course instructor said something about economic strength precedes military strength and economic aggression always precedes war.

Will China use that massive arsenal American dollars are helping to build?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Andrew's Thanksgiving

I know it's a bit early, but I'm leaving out of town for a week and don't want to bug a guest poster during the holiday and I've got to start packing one of these minutes and tomorrow is going to be filled to the brim with stuff to do (big breath), so I'm going to write something that's been on my mind.


I have been thinking of Andrew a lot lately. This is unusual for me. I have a talent for disassociation, "compartmentalizing my life" is how I like to think of it. My sister says it's one of the many benefits of having a dysfunctional family. The painful things get put in the we'll-deal-with-that-later compartment. It's cheaper than therapy and quite effective most days. Sometimes the compartment gets opened and the issues decide to crawl out and stretch their legs for a spell. One of them has been lounging on my living room sofa--metaphorically speaking.

Andrew is the son who died, on the date I cannot even name and my mind won't let me remember (at the end of June sometime), nine and 1/2 years ago. He is my oldest son's identical twin.

Over the last decade, while Andrew's twin had been struggling, my mind would stray. I would think dark thoughts like: I can barely handle this, what would I have done with two? Would Andrew be the same way (there is a 70% chance of autism with identical twins, maybe higher)? How could I have handled it? Would Andrew have been blind and brain-damaged and crippled or worse had he survived? How would I have made it? So many days, I felt as if I would break. I couldn't imagine what I would do if I had a debilitated Andrew, too.

Andrew knew ten days of non-stop pain and torment. The first time I held him was as he died. The first time I held him, I only wanted to run away and take him, have him all to myself and just rock him. Instead, I was surrounded by white walls, and a sterile room, professional, busy people, and too many sad family members. I was beyond distraught. I felt like I was floating in a void surrounded by crushing heaviness with an aching chasm quaking through my heart. I know that seems contradictory, but it's true. It's as if my essence was concentrated into one atom yet my existence had come untethered from life. My will to live hung by a tiny thread.

Now, as Andrew's twin brother emerges and develops, and I am doing better, my thoughts are different. That blanket of grief has peeled away over the years to be replaced by a sweetness and abundance of heart and spirit. My life feels like a chock-full cornucopia and I want to share it with Andrew.

Andrew would be on the top bunk with a guy who imagines turning into the Hulk and loves the X-men and Avengers and all the good guys. He would be wrestling with his father and brothers. He would be teasing his sister. He would be sitting at the dinner table encouraging his baby bro to make farting noises. He would meet Mickey Mouse and touch a dolphin, but better yet, he'd be doing it with family who adores him.

He would be watching the leaves change and fall. He would feel the wind on his face and smile, like his baby brother did just today. He'd know the pleasure of watching the neighbor's white cat saunter past the window each morning, stopping to lounge and very deliberately lick her right paw while coyly sneaking a peak through the window. He would whoop at football games and get lost in opera like his twin (or at least I imagine he would). He would be alive.

In the midst of thinking about Andrew, the breathtaking wonderfulness of just being alive sinks into me. In imagining Andrew experiencing these blessings, I've had the opportunity to take stock of my blessings. There are too many to list. Have you seen a child discover a ray of light pierce the shadow on a floor--putting his hand in, then out, crawling around it, trying to make it move, smiling with delight when it flickers. Have you seen that wonder? How do you capture all of God's blessings in a list? It's impossible.

This Thanksgiving my table is full. My life is richly blessed. Andrew is so much a part of these blessings. I wish he were here in person to touch the light--at least where I could see him.

FDA Regulation of Nutrition & Bioidentical Hormones

The AMA, the American Medical Association, represents Doctors who represent the patient's interest, right? Riiiiight. In their last session, the AMA passed a resolution asking the FDA to regulate bio-identical hormones and nutritional substances.

Now why could this be?

While the AMA hasn't offered viable solutions about how to save the over 200,000 people killed every year at the hands of doctors mis-prescribing FDA-approved medications, they are all for regulating natural, helpful food supplements and natural hormonal help with no reported deaths or demonstrable harmful effects.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), the horse-urine kind, has been proven to increase heart disease, cardiovascular accidents, strokes, and breast cancer. So doctors went from prescribing these "helpful" substances to every woman over 40 who complained of a hot flash or mood swing, to prescribing anti-depressants. SSRIs are now the drug of choice for a middle-aged woman, because we all know that hormonal women, just ain't right. Right?

Enter physicians who seek alternatives to the obvious gaps in modern medicine. Traditional medicine shines here: emergency medicine, trauma medicine, reconstruction--basically acute, life-saving procedures and treatments. If we are all lucky and take care of ourselves, hopefully we won't ever need this kind of medicine. That hospitals are all over, testifies to the fact that most likely, we'll all need it at one time or another. But another reason these hospitals have sprung up like weeds is because the doctors in them are trying to capture more of the health care market with "preventative medicine". This sounds good, but what it usually means is using statins, anti-cholesterol medication, anti-depressants, fill-in-the-blank med for marginally healthy people. These are not sick, about to die, people. These are the I-don't-want-to-die-like-Daddy-did people. So doctors medicate them and call it prevention.

Traditional medicine does not deal with true prevention very well. They are symptom-driven. A lot of people don't equate taking fifteen meds at 50 with being healthy and full of vitality. They want to truly prevent and to prevent naturally.

Where do people who want to not only remove symptoms, but build vitality go? They go to medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, Chinese medicine folks, and massage therapists (to name a few), to keep the engines humming. In our office, we have hunted around and found some of the best supplement companies in the world. In one particular instance, the company organically grows, harvests, cold processes and puts together the most cutting-edge nutrition at state-of-the-art facilities. We know the raw materials are excellent. We can guarantee the final product is excellent. And, of course, these products give phenomenal results. Do most medical doctors know how or where or when their Provera products were produced? Ha! Doubtful.

So why would the AMA want to put a stop to people having the freedom to choose their treatments? Why would the AMA want to bring food substances and natural hormone treatments (made from food substances) under the well-bought-out (by Big Pharma) FDA?

It couldn't possibly be money, could it? It couldn't possibly be the fact that the physicians using healthy, natural alternatives are getting such fantastic results that families willingly pay cash for them and the traditional doctors have results-envy, could it? It couldn't possibly be that they are losing patients because patients are healthier and happier and don't need the medications that they used to take, could it?

Nah, this legislation is for you, the dull-witted, ignorant consumer who needs a Government regulatory agency to tell you what the right thing is to do with your health and your money. You need to help keep the pharmaceutical companies and the AMA (who is in bed with them), healthy and happy. That's the real patient being "helped" by this AMA-proposed legislation.

Tell you what. When the FDA and the AMA reduce the number of deaths due to adverse drug reactions and botched procedures to the level of alternative health practitioners levels (how's zero sound) from the 200,000 annually, I'll listen to legislative efforts at making natural health care products "safe" for consumers. Until then, the AMA can figure out how to woo back the consumers they haven't killed. It's called a free market.

Americans deserve to have the freedom to choose the kind of health care services they want.