Friday, March 30, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell Is A Loon

What I find disturbing about The View, isn't just the dull-witted hosts; the more disturbing aspect of The View is that thousands of women watch that forsaken show. These very uniformed women spout nonsense day in and day out and it is hardly challenged. Elizabeth Hasselback is the foil for the ugly, dumber girls who can't get a date. By pounding on her incessantly, all the women live out their young, blond and beautiful loathing fantasies. What's even more galling to them is that Elizabeth is more intelligent than them, too.

So Rosie blithely spouts off a series of conspiracy theories: the U.S. and England let the sailors get caught to start a world war for MONEY! and Tower #7 went down in a controlled demolition, but controlled by who? Hmmmmmmmmmm? Cue the scary music. And the audience claps enthusiastically and Joy Behar nods sagely. Ugh. And American women watch that garbage and feel smugly smart and informed.

Jeff Goldstein has more.

Perfect Totalitarianism

Freedom and capitalism account for human nature's base proclivities and channels them productively. In contrast, totalitarianism attempts to suppress man's base nature--except, of course, the supreme leader and his oligarchy. They are free to express all aspects of themselves. Totalitarian fantasies abound among those who are convinced that their way would be best for everyone--if only everyone would submit to their betters.

Dr. Sanity has the best essay on the genesis of totalitarianism. She finds a seed being sown in Seattle by public school teachers removing Legos from the classroom. Here's just a tidbit:

Human nature is what it is. This is not at all tragic; it is a simple truth. The biological fantasies of the leftist utopians; and the delusional fantasies of communists and socialists and all their 21st century heirs, have lead to incalculable levels of human suffering all over the world, as the proponents of these theories have tried to force humans to evolve into some sort of "ideal" state.
All such systems have failed the real-world tests in the last century; and all current versions of these ideologies will also eventually fail and fade away. To the extent that they attempt to incorporate some aspects of "human nature" into their failing system, they may last a bit longer as they slowly chip away at the human spirit and work to extinguish it; but it is actually much more likely that human nature will transform the perverse ideology than that the reverse will happen.

Politically Correct Light Bulbs--UPDATE

Righteous people buy fluorescent light bulbs. If people more righteous have their way, they'll mandate super special energy saving light bulbs for the masses. But what if incandescent bulbs turn out to be better? And fluorescent bulbs turn out to be worse. (This last link has very important information.)

UPDATE: I want to make clear here that I'm all for energy saving technologies but I fundamentally distrust group think and "conventional wisdom" and everyone know that, blah, blah, blah. There is a reason, besides flickering that makes one look like a resurrected Zombie, that fluorescent lights haven't been the standard besides in the DMV, hospital psych wards, and other institutions intent on casting average humans in a bad light. (Couldn't help myself.) Innovations continue and there probably end up being more than one choice for perfect light. And I for one, look forward to fluorescent alternatives.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Six Flying Imams May Get Spanked Yet

Blue Crab Boulevard, reports of a moderate Muslim who is fighting back against radical Islamists whom he hates. Go check this link. If all American Muslims looked like this and took this tack, there would be less anger at what is perceived as silence in the face of terrorism and brutality that some Islam believers condone.

Suddenly Jasser is a sought-after radio and TV commentator. His new role is taking lots of time, a scarce commodity for Jasser, who practices internal medicine and is president of the Arizona Medical Association.

But he believes that a Muslim voice is critical in response to the imams' charges, which include one that they were discriminated against for praying in the airport gate area. "Americans are so worried about offending religious sensibilities," he says. "We as Muslims must step forward and say, 'This is not about prayer, it's about airline security.' "

"I believe I represent the views of the large majority of Muslims in this country," says Jasser. "They are repulsed by political sermons, by apologetics for terrorism. The vast majority do want to separate their spiritual identity from their political identity."

I would say that Dr. Jasser is right. We do need to hear more of these voices. Unfortunately his opposition is very vocal and exploits the American love of Freedom of Religion and non-discrimination. Yet, if they had their way, there would be no freedom for anyone else.

Over at Jihad Watch there is this about the notion that Islam may reform:
As I have said many times, there are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. That fact must be faced by both reformers and those who place high hopes upon them. And in fact, on the Bennett show this morning I explained why Islamic reform faced monumental obstacles, and said that we should not kid ourselves about its prospects for large-scale success.
Well, there might not be wholesale reform, but at least Americans can support those Muslims who believe in a church-state concept, who do not embrace violence (jihad/struggle) to conquer the world, who value freedom for all people. Dr. Jasser is one such Muslim.

More about him here.

HotAir has a nice video of Dr. Jasser.

Go After Rove

Joe Conason calls for casting off Democratic restraint. It's safe to say his definition of restraint and the Right's definition of restraint are completely different. Then again, it is expected that the Left is childish, self-serving and utterly without shame. There is no "going too far". How can one step over a line that doesn't exist?

Global Warming Attacks Jeff Goldstein's Teak Patio Furniture

At least the furniture hasn't been subjected to Al Gore himself....yet.

Anger: What's Wrong With Women?

Are women angry because women are born angrier than men or are women angry because of society's unfairness? And are women's expressions of anger a sign of health or does expressed anger just create more of the same? Some researchers say keeping anger in may be okay. Others go further and say that contrary to popular belief, expressing anger is bad for your health. This seems to be supported by Martin Seligman's work. Are you angry?

What's wrong with women? Heck, what's wrong with men? Men seem to take pleasure in someone getting hurt, if they believe the person deserves it. On the other hand, men are more altruistic than women , especially working women.

I don't like these generalizations, although gender trends obviously exist. And while end-around, passive-aggressive (how 'bout we leave out the "passive" part) ways of dealing with conflict are irritating, men seem as inclined to this modus operandi as women--especially on the internet. On-line bullying seems to be gender blind. Anonymity to cloak nastiness is a huge problem and I know plenty of women who have used this instead of bringing a forth-right argument under their own name. Same goes for men, though, and there are far more men commenting around the internet than women.

Could it be that women are the biological protectors and because this role (they still give birth and ostensibly desire to protect their young) is defensive, rather than offensive, found ways to be passively aggressive? In addition, women are physically smaller than men. Overt verbal violence (yelling, protesting, confronting) can lead to physical violence and a woman is smaller giving her a disadvantage during conflict. Her weapons had to be more subtle to protect herself and her young. While this method ensured survival back in the day and even now to an extent, in a gender-neutral environment like the internet, it makes women look weak and petty when they refuse to directly engage.

Women are also less altruistic. This, too, makes sense to me. When it comes to protecting young, all young are not created equal. My young are more equal than your young. When it comes to caring for children, mothers are notoriously biased. Again, this to me ensures survival. If every kid has a protective, fiercely loving mom, he has a mom willing to defend him. Mothering turns a woman inward toward her children, her home. It would be unnatural for a woman to be any other way, don't you think?

These traits taken to their pathological extreme are not pretty, but neither is the manly trait of trying to heroically save someone or something for stupid reasons. And some people with mental problems try to create ways to be heroic to display their altruism. And while it could be argued that "taking it outside" is an effective way of dealing with conflict, it very much impairs a woman's ability to have an even fight. And while some women are empowered and possess that "you go girl" sensibility, if push comes to shove, she loses, even when she starts it (and she often starts it).

Bottom line, with technology like the internet, women can be equal. Women need to express themselves clearly and forthrightly without resorting to anonymity and personal attacks. And men need to express themselves without resorting to objectifying and sexualizing women who disagree with their position and opinion. And women who resort to the latter, too, are the worst. Not only do they fulfill the worst sort of female stereotypes, they exhibit the worst sort of male stereotypical behavior. Certainly, this can't be what feminism aspires to--to serve up stereotypical female passive aggressive with stereotypical male objectifying.

The Christian Litmus Test

James Dobson doesn't like Senator Fred Thompson for President because "he's not a Christian." He was baptized into the Church of Christ some time back, but that doesn't cut it. My brother sent my an article about this, boiling. This is why he hates the Republicans.

You know, this simple-Simon approach can get a person into lots o' trouble. An acquaintance just had a "Christian man" botch a breast reduction surgery. Breast reductions weren't his specialty and his Christianity didn't kick in to mention that salient fact. His actions don't indicate a strong Christian, do they? Or they indicate a Christian with a greed problem, or whatever. Christian or not, his fruits demonstrated weakness, but he sold himself as a "Christian surgeon." For me, it's between God and the surgeon if he worships Albert Einstein and nematodes. Is he a good surgeon?

Maybe it's my midwestern upbringing, where religion wasn't openly talked about like it is down here in Texas, but I have a reflexive distaste for anyone who talks about their Christianity. A guy I know has a bumper sticker that says, "I love my wife" and is a too-much-talkish Christian. A couple years ago, we saw the guy with two other women at two other times (weird coincidence) in the same week. They were more than friendly, if you know what I mean. Back at church, he was teaching a women's bible study. Well, he certainly did like women. But please, spare me the Jesus talk.

My opinion is that unless I know a person is purposefully trying to worship the Devil, the merit-based system is best. Interestingly, Jesus taught the same thing. "You shall know them by their fruits." Someone who talks the talk and leaves destruction in their wake should raise warning flags. Someone whose actions have lead to good results should receive respect whether they are a Christian or not. So en lieu of the Christianity litmus test, here's my tests for candidates:

  • What kind of policies does the person have--are they all messed up? One could argue that Giuliani's pro-abortion stance is "messed up", especially if one is a Christian. I would agree, but that would have to be balanced with his ability to do anything about it. And Presidents don't have much to do about this issue. Nevertheless, policies must be looked at--war, economy, diplomacy, and even abortion.
  • What kind of actions does the person take when stressed? Some people stink under pressure and the Presidency is one big pressure-filled position. I really don't know how the leaders handle it. Society has changed so much. Everything comes so fast that a leader must be guided by over-riding principles and be able to make a good decision on the fly. Giulliani demonstrated his ability to handle this pressure after 9/11. McCain obviously handled pressure as a Prisoner of War. Sometimes, though, McCain slides too close to the edge of crazy and his policies cause distrust. Barack Obama seems like a smooth customer but he's untested--so how would I know? I don't like unkowns. Hillary Clinton seems to need to have every detail controlled in order to succeed. She's very disciplined, there's no question about that, but can she handle the surprising, shocking and unexpected? I'm not so sure. And on through the list of candidates.
So how Christian is Christian enough? How can anyone know the heart of another person? All that can be done is to look at a person's actions. What have they said? What do they believe about America and the economy and our place in the world? But most importantly, how do they act? And does their actions line up with their words and beliefs?

Claiming Christianity means nothing if the actions are empty. Clay Ginn says this:
This brings us back around to Fred Thompson. He may or may not be a Christian. I'm willing to overlook that in an election. We aren't voting for Senior Pastor here, we are voting for President of the United States. Fred Thompson has a good background as a lawyer and Senator. He's a strong conservative on most all issues, and is an extremely good speaker. We need a statesman right now. Someone who can make the American people feel comfortable with the Presidency. He's connected to Hollywood through Law and Order. And since he was the head of air traffic control when John McClane killed all those terrorists...oh wait. That wasn't real was it? Never mind. (But, if it was real, we could call in John McClane to be the real-life Jack Bauer.)

I think he's a good, viable candidate and would be happy to vote for him, Christian or not. Dr. Dobson needs to realize that he's not the conscience of the entire Christian community. We can make our own choices for president.

H/T Instapundit

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Christian Gated Community

LaShawn Barber has a "fantasy" about living and working exclusively with Christians. Her sister called it heaven.

I look forward to heaven where I know everyone will be perfect. In this world, some Christians annoy me as much as non-believers, some more. Sinners abounded at the Christian college I went to. Shocking, I know (not just the fact I went to a Christian school, but that sin was there, too). Who would have thunk it? People generally tried to be and do better, but there was a sordid underbelly. What would have passed for normal behavior at a regular college--drugs, sex, rock-n-roll--got the offender expelled at the Christian college, which was a good thing. On the other hand, when administrators looked the other way (especially for their own transgressions), a foulness pervaded the environment.

The main problem with contained Christian anythings is that disagreements often get characterized as "spiritual problems" so real change or improvements can be difficult to execute. Any difference with a person of authority is an "attitude problem" which negates the concerns or ideas. It's the attitude that matters more than the rightness or wrongness of an issue. Lots of rot thrives under the God-loving veneer because the hierarchical nature of religions and their institutions.

Don't get me wrong, at least in Christian environments people are trying. The bar is set higher on beliefs and behavior. In an idealistic environment though, disenchantment can quickly enter the milieu. Ironically, that can be a stumbling block for fragile believers.

So no, I'm not interested in the gated Christian community. Not in this life, anyway. I hope to be included when in the next one, though.

Iran Hostage Crisis

Blair is provocative for implying a military conflict might occur if the kidnapped sailors aren't returned. Cap'n Ed asks is Blair Carter or Thatcher?

Every moment that passes, Iran wins. What the hell was a woman doing out there? A mother, no less. Nothing like giving the Iranians perfect propaganda fodder. There is a reason women shouldn't be in combat situations. Would people worry as much if it were a bunch of guys? Some worry, yes, but it takes a different tenor when a mother is involved and then the humiliation of the head covering. It just pisses me off.

American Idol Results Live-blogging

Last night was a waste, but tonight at least one bad performer is going home. So, I'll start soon.

UPDATE: Well, a medical building is burning here in Houston. Wow, are those fire fighters brave. The whole building is melting and they are going in floor by floor, closet by closet.

Here we go. Will tonight be anti-climatic? I'm already irritated by Gwen Stefani. Ryan is doing Sanjaya's hair. Simon and Randy both look aghast.

Phil is so dang creepy. His eyes, his awkward moves. Something is wrong with him.

Commercial time. Did you hear about the website that says to vote for Sanjaya and that's why he's getting all the votes? You know, I felt at the beginning when they were choosing people for the final 24, that they were making some ode to multiculturalism and that at least half of them they knew wouldn't last no matter what. They should choose the best singers, singers they'd be happy with if they succeed. That guy who won last year looks fifty years old and is dull. Taylor Hicks. Ugh.

What the heck is this? Mustangs, huh. Chris is actually riding, I think. That was weird.

Three Lowest: Freaky Phil Stacey in the bottom three. No surprise. Hallelujah! Haley is in the bottom three!!! Please be Chris, please be Chris. Aww, Gina is left hanging.

Safe: Blake and LaKisha safe. After being at the bottom, Chris is safe. Melinda, of course. Jordin safe.

Here comes Gwen. I actually like this song, but she cannot sing. See how she's very tight with her moves on the stage? She should have given the singers advice about using the stage, stage make-up, creating a persona, that type of thing. That's her strength, it's certainly not carrying a tune.

Chris and Gina. Gina is safe. Yay! I'll be happy if any of the bottom folks go. Phil is safe. Please, send Haley home. Argh!!! Haley stays. Chris is going home. Well, the song did stink as his singing it again demonstrates.

Generally snoozy.

Serenity NOW!

Have you watched these yet? The best show that never made it is sparking rumblings that it might come back. Man, I would love a serenity series.

Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction Found

Somehow I missed this little noteworthy tidbit:

"They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) units out of uniform, that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence," he said.

Shaw has dealt with weapons-related issues and export controls as a U.S. government official for 30 years, and was serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security when the events he described today occurred.

He called the evacuation of Saddam's WMD stockpiles "a well-orchestrated campaign using two neighboring client states with which the Russian leadership had a long time security relationship."

It has been my belief that something like this happened. Why isn't this front page news considering that "Bush lied" has been the mantra forever? And the Bush administration gets strung up because of spy agency politics that the administration obviously allows even at great American intel harm:

But when Shaw passed on his information to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and others within the U.S. intelligence community, he was stunned by their response.

"My report on the convoys was brushed off as ‘Israeli disinformation,'" he said.

One month later, Shaw learned that the DIA general counsel complained to his own superiors that Shaw had eaten from the DIA "rice bowl." It was a Washington euphemism that meant he had commited the unpardonable sin of violating another agency's turf.

The CIA responded in even more diabolical fashion. "They trashed one of my Brits and tried to declare him persona non grata to the intelligence community," Shaw said. "We got constant indicators that Langley was aggressively trying to discredit both my Ukranian-American and me in Kiev," in addition to his other sources.

But Shaw's information had not originated from a casual contact. His Ukranian-American aid was a personal friend of David Nicholas, a Western ambassador in Kiev, and of Igor Smesko, head of Ukrainian intelligence.

What a den of vipers the intelligence agencies are these days. If Valerie "I don't know if I was covert or not" Plame is the best and brightest, we are definitely in trouble. Politics and jockeying and the luxury of pointing the finger at Bush if He gets the intelligence wrong when the intelligence agencies ignore worthwhile intelligence because they play politics or protect turf.

There is a lot more at the link--Saddam's on-going nuclear program up through 2000, for one important example. The problem with these agencies is that they spend too much time marking territory and not nearly enough time learning everything about the territory they need to know. Intelligence does not equal smart.

Of Weaning and Whining

Little Toot and I face an impasse: he wants unfettered access to my breasts 24/7 and I want to reassert my boundaries. That is to say, I want him to get his nourishment and sustenance and nurturing from food. It's time that he starts eating emotionally. I'm literally and figuratively drained.

Breast-feeding came back in vogue after two generations of smoking to keep the baby small, getting knocked out for birth, propping a bottle so as to not distract from feather dusting and the resulting reduced I.Q. and a host of other negative side effects that resulted from the neglectful baby experimentation. Explains a lot, doesn't it? Anyway, this generation has decided to do Everything Better Than the Stupid Boomers and tries to comply to the Boomer's and feminism's competing standards: breast feed until the kid's voice changes, while simultaneously going back to work within 36 hours of popping the inconvenient lump of tissue out. How to reconcile these issues has yet to be adequately addressed (but good news! the Equal Rights Amendment is making a come back and history is already being rewritten, as David Frum notes, he calls it "fascinating strangeness"). Oh well, troopers like me try to span the expectations divide.

While I despise the woman on woman best mother competitions associated with this topic, I'm still an unapologetic nurser. Rare ear infections, no tubes, rarer antibiotics (associated with Breast Cancer in women), smoother sailing when the kid does get sick, and of course, the emotional closeness and kid confidence that results from nursing. This last assertion is difficult to test without double-blinded study. My kids might be just the same had they been bottle-fed, that we'll never know, but I do know that a frazzled kid, a kid with a boo boo, a kid who is having a bad day calms down with nursing. It's not just the nutrition as a baby that nursing helps, it's the toddlerish difficulties that get smoothed out, too.

At a certain point, though, the child asserts his will and starts to proactively open the store for business. This can lead to uncomfortable situations. Nothing like a kid yanking up a t-shirt and trying to pull off a bra during a card party, hypothetically speaking. Weaning must commence.

But how to do it with a kid who seems so happy? I'm a little gun shy after weaning my daughter on her second birthday and her taking up thumb-sucking the day after. Maybe I should have nursed her longer. Maybe she wouldn't have been so traumatized. Maybe I have had every brain cell sucked out and can no longer think rationally. Who am I kidding? The kid is two. And kids will do whatever they can to extend infancy. Heck, most people are still trying to extend infancy.

Whining. That's what will be happening in these parts for a good long while. Whining to go with the weaning. Happy Birthday Little Toot!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Senate Betrays Troops and America

Wow. Shocking.

Cute Knut the Murderer

It was bound to happen. Nature taking it's course and all.

Jesus' Tomb--Yeah, Right!

I paid no attention to the whole Jesus' tomb non-discovery. It seemed like self-promoting silliness foisted by non-believers looking for any reason to discredit Jesus. Call me skeptical of the skeptics.

Fauxhawks, Stefani Snoozer & American Idol Liveblogging--UPDATED

I'll live-blog it tonight on my brand new, super spectacular MacBook. Yeah, it's pretty cool!

UPDATE: Here we go.

Gwen Stefani will be helping the Idol wannabes this time.

LaKisha goes first. Gwen's "blown away" by her. Donna Summer here we come. '70s again. Okay, the problem that Simon mentioned last week about not making the song her own, is true again tonight. She needs to do a better job of making a song her own--reinterpreting it. This is hard to do. She's technically great. Cute dress. Looks the youngest she's ever looked, while singing old.

"Fly Diva", says Randy. Paula says she "did Sommer proud". Simon loves the boots. "You're 30 years younger this week. Love the big note at the end. Great vocal." She's back in the fold.

Spiderman looks good based on the commercial, don't you think? Steve was meh on Spiderman II. Save the gratuitous violence (I don't like implied almost-rape scenes in movies an 8 year old might see), I liked it.

Chris Sligh is up. "How much downtime do you have during the competition?" He knits, crochets and plays the bongos in his undies. Mostly, he just sleeps. He looks like he's lost weight. Singing Police. Wow, he sounds pretty good. Don't like how he's tugging on the notes in the chorus. I like it punchier. (Oh, he's singing Everything She Does Is Magic.) He's got a nice strong voice, I just like more variability during the tune. Weird end. Abrupt.

"Good song," says Randy. Rhythmically "you could never get in the pocket" and "Gwen was right". Paula says "the audience wants to groove with you." "I thought it was a mess," says Simon. "It just didn't feel right."

Gina is emotional. This is a big day for her. "It's all about the lyrics," says Gwen. Good song. Excellent choice, Gina! I can't help wonder if her diction would improve if she got rid of that tongue ring. I get that it's her schtick. Wow, it's hard to sing Christy Hines, Pretenders. She gives it a good go, though. Crowd loves it.

Randy: He says it's one of her best performances ever. Paula loves that she's improving each week. Simon toys with her: wasn't one of the best, it was the BEST. Best performance tonight, enthuses Simon. Audience loved it. I like her. She has spirit. Brendan Loy wants to do naughty things with her. Those boots, honey. I can see why.

Sanjaya--Bathwater by No Doubt. Gwen says, "Good luck to him. It's a tough song." Oh, good grief. What has he done this week with his hair? Dude, he has a mop on his head. He's actually doing a decent job on the song. "You're my kind of girl." Oh, boy.

Randy's laughing. "I'm speechless every time. You can actually sing. Go out there and do it." Paula, "If you had the gumption to really go for it, go for it. You can do it." Simon, "I presume there was no mirror in your dressing room. I don't think it matters what we say anymore. If people like you, good luck." Seven pony-tails for good luck.

Haley is singing True Colors. "Go back and tone it down." Uh oh. One of my most favorite songs. Don't wreck it Haley. Man the girl can't hang on to the melody. She looks gorgeous. I'm guessing that Simon will like that. She can't sing, though. I want her to go home. Didn't take the advice from Gwen. I hope she gets smacked for it.

Randy's not "grabbed". Paula says it requires nothing but the melody. Simon says "sweet, but forgettable." They are all being far more generous than I would have been. Yuck. Her song sucked. The way Ryan is in to her makes me think he's not gay. Have you noticed how he moons over certain artists and kind of acts annoyed with others? It's subtle, like how a newscaster delivers the news with small smiles or barely-there winces but the audience is subtly being manipulated. Ryan wants you to like Haley.

Phil Stacey. More questions, how's it feel to be a household name? He's too busy. Every Breath You Take--Police. Gwen thinks he should stick to the melody. Something bugs me about this guy. Can't put my finger on it. He's doing pretty good--honey voiced--with the song. Nice back up help. Nice transition. I'll be watchin' you. Makes me think of the Stalkers Skit on Saturday Night Live.

Randy thought it was solid. Kinda liked it. Paula thinks that his voice has some color. They all seem blah on it. But Simon says it is a great choice of song. He feels that this is the first time Phil is taking it seriously. Hmmmm.... I don't know. Does he just think he won't actually make it so is playing it safe? I've wondered where his head is about this. He always seems somewhere else. Maybe he misses his family or the military family? Don't know.

Melinda is "mind-blowing, your voice is crazy" says Gwen. Melinda in her lower register. She's got control. Oops! First flat note I've ever heard. Typed too soon. Hair looks cute. She shouldn't go sleeveless.

Randy: Interprets the feeling of the song--that was the bomb again! He loves her. Paula says she tells a story and has charisma. Simon sez...I don't think this is the performance you'll be remember for, hate the outfit. I agree with Simon, actually.

Blake singing The Cure. I like Blake. Smoky. He is the most Idol-worthy, I think. He should get a contract no matter what. He knows how to work his way around a beat. Sounds nasal in parts and then goes Chris Martin Coldplay-ish. He looks tired. Still, on his worst day, he's better than the other guys and most of the girls, too.

Not perfect song choice, Randy says. Paula loves it. You're taking risks and she wants to see him in the finalé. Simon calls him the front-running guy.

Jordin singing Gwen Stefani. Gwen calls Jordin "refreshing". More boots, bad skirt and she's trying to go little girl with the outfit. She's actually singing it. Gwen yells this song. Of course, Gwen can't really sing. Ha! She's a showman, though. I like Jordin. She's young and can sing.

Randy thinks it was risky and says it was great. Paula calls her "adorable, young and hip". Simon calls her "the most improved".

Chris doing Don't Speak by Gwen. Gwen says he likes to do "the vocal olympics. Focus on the song and emotion." I find it interesting that all the contestants can sing better than Gwen. Funny. Chris needs to wear something brighter and more fun. He's young. Taking off with it now. Nasal finish. I don't think he's the worst. I was surprised he was second from the bottom last week.

Paula says, "You're good." Simon not crazy about the vocal. He feels that Chris is struggling with the vocals. I haven't watched Idol before this season, but it seems that all the contestants really get along. They seem truly pained when someone is voted off.

This week: #1 Gina, #2 Blake, #3 Melinda, #4 Phil, #5 Jordin, #6 Chris Richardson--the rest is a toss up.

Who would I vote off? No Doubt: Haley or Sanjaya. Who will get voted off? Who the heck knows.

UPDATE II: There is some discontent about Gwen Stefani apparently phoning it in for last night's show. Ann Althouse says this:

Gwen Stefani was the lamest celebrity mentor they've ever had on the show. For a while, I had the theory that she's just an idiot, but I think what it was was that she wouldn't put any time into the show. So they had fake shots with her and each contestant, and we never saw any interaction.
Personally, I think Gwen revealed herself right away when she said that a lot of her favorite singers weren't actually very good singers. Gwen herself can't carry a tune in a bucket. She rivals Madonna when it comes to form over substance. I think Gwen was intimidated by the talent of the singers. She said as much. What advice do you give people who sing better than you? Gwen's strength is rhythm and she did give good advice to Chris about that. Otherwise, what can anyone expect from her? Remember her Superbowl performance? That's what I thought. Here's a reminder, try to not cry:


I haven't written anything about John and Elizabeth Edwards because there hasn't been much to say. Cancer sucks. It always comes at an inconvenient, important time, because life is always important.

Now, Tony Snow announces the horrible news that the cancer has metastasized to his liver. Most people know what this news means. It's not good. My heart goes out to all these families.

Cancer touched my family, my husband, nearly five years ago. He was 33 at the time. A year and half later, my friend, at the ripe old age of 36 was diagnosed with breast cancer. Both my husband and friend are doing well, but cancer changes your life. Every cold, every unexplained pain, and most of all, a day or two of fatigue cause unspoken, forced nonchalant worry.

We determined that cancer would be "a bump". Steve was back at work within the week after surgery. He's a doctor. What's he going to do? As it was, patients stopped coming to the office, the exact opposite of what we needed at the time, not wanting to cause him trouble.

I'm tired of cancer. It eats away at the body and it destroys lives. Is it just my experience or does it seem like more young people are getting cancer?

Even still, it's important to keep perspective. Heart disease kills more people than cancer. Diabetes is almost wholly preventable and afflicts millions. This last weekend our healthy, kind next door neighbor had a heart-attack at age 50. He received stellar emergency care, but could have been dead just that quick. He would have looked very healthy in his coffin.

We don't know when our last moment on this earth will be so we have to live life now. It's easy to life like we will never die and live in tomorrow, "Oh, I'll take care of that, do that, hug her, later." It's easy to live in the past cursing the unfairness of life. Well, both ways of living are really ways of ignoring today. Today is important. It's a gift for each of us. Living in gratitude is the only way to live.

Control is an illusion. Cancer reminds us of the truth of this.

UPDATE: I hate to even include this. What is wrong with people?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Curse and Damnation!

This last weekend, a circular conversation spiraled into nihilism: lamenting the lamentable corporations, the lamentable and corrupt leaders of said corporations, the lamentable co-workers, the lamentable George Bush (well, duh!), the lamentable conservatives, the lamentable oppressors everywhere. Curse and damnation, society is utterly and irretrievably despicable!

In exasperation I said, "Light a candle, man!"

No question worrisome worries worry people. The economy feels fragile, the white man is oppressed, teachers suffer, and all sorts of maladies stoke righteous rage these days. Marches and protests aren't nearly as fun, either, what with counter protests and whatnot. What's an angry person to do?

Rage on, man. Rage on!

Germany: Most Evil Woman Criminal Released

Besides New Orleans, if I were a criminal, I think I'd commit my crimes in Germany. This woman received five life sentences for various and sundry murders and only served 25 years. And she was released early so she didn't have to speak to the press. Yup, crime pays in some places.

H/T Betsy Newmark

Iran Can Just Try American Hostage Taking

Americans can shoot the scum in self-defense. Excellent.

Day Care Bad for Baby Behavior

In the kid eat kid world of Day Care, is it any surprise that a child who has been part of that system has more behavior problems than kids who are at home, relaxed, with mom or dad?

And then, as the kid gets older and exhibits the bad behavior in school, he gets doped up on Ritalin and denied recess until his behavior gets better and he starts submitting and obeying and oh, yeah, learning. The obvious solution? Extend the school day, of course. Ann Althouse notes the irony of extending the school day:

Is lengthening the school day the solution for failing schools? I think not. In fact, I think it is a morally wrong solution. It's bad enough that children are cooped up and physically restrained for as long as they are to get through a school day. To justify that physical restraint, adults owe children a lot. If the adults are now failing to do what they owe children to justify physically restraining them, it is outrageous to attempt to make up for their own failure by increasing the restraint. What makes it worse is that the solution is inflicted disproportionately on minority kids. Oh, but it's a benefit! It's not as if we're proposing to put them in jail during those long afternoons when they might otherwise be roaming the streets.
I don't think it's a race issue. It's a gender issue. Sure, girls might be more aggressive with years of Day Care, too, but it's the boys that are being drugged and dragged indoors. When I was in third grade, (my son's grade) we had a 1/2 hour recess in the morning, 1/2 hour in the afternoon and 45 minutes to one hour at lunch time, plus gym class twice a week. And the boys were still rowdy! And in the same breath, educators and government officials and doctors will kvetch over fat kids. Good grief! Let them run around and be kids.


Medical "accepted practice" turned on it's ear. Changing lifestyle makes the best long-term difference for heart patients.

I know, boring. Not nearly as sexy as heart surgery.

Duke (non) Rape Update: Three Million Reasons This Prosecution Was Wrong

Are you rich enough to defend yourself in a false prosecution, because the accused Duke lacrosse players have accrued over three million in legal fees. There's a way you can help with the legal fees at the link. How many people, even so-called "privileged" ones can afford millions in legal fees? Imagine being the parent of a falsely accused son and then having to pay those bills.

Speaking of worn out clichés, Newsbusters shines a light on The New York Times sports reporter Selena Roberts. Even after all the evidence of both the Duke players innocence and Mike Nifong's guilt, she manages to see the miscarriage of justice as beneficial.

Roberts seems to think the false rape charges were worth it in the end, if it opens up Duke to "change," and seems to think that partying and misbehavior on campus (not to mention "public urination") is the exclusive realm of spoiled white athletes.

"What’s new? Nothing really. But the opportunity to change this chronic campus dynamic is up to Duke. For now, administrators and faculty members seem earnest in giving it a college try.

"That would be a welcomed development to citizens who had long complained about the raucous partying and misbehavior of athletes in their neighborhoods. There were red flags about the Duke lacrosse team, including a history of off-campus conduct problems.

"Apparently, no player could hold his own beer because public urination was an issue."


"But if you take on the athlete culture that was exposed, not the alleged crime, there can be one healthy legacy to a scandal.

"A dismissal doesn’t mean forget everything. Amnesia would be a poor defense to the next act of athlete privilege."
It's not shocking that a Times reporter is biased against white men. Unfortunately, it's not shocking that "men of the cloth" would judge a matter before it's heard, either. KC Johnson catalogs the sins of the clergy and it's discouraging. He concludes with this anecdote:
One lacrosse parent who attended the service approached Fr. Vetter afterwards, reminded him of the presumption of innocence, and said that part of the priest’s job was to minister to Catholic players on the team.

Vetter’s response? “Tell them to confess their sins first.”
This case laid bare the bias that pervades institutions supposedly dedicated to truth: the press, the clergy, the law, the academy. Too many American bastions of learning are infected with a pernicious case of political correctness. It changes the mind and blinds one to justice or even critical thought. Unfortunately, innocent people have suffered as a result.

On a positive note, Barack Obama calls for an Department of Justice investigation into Mike Nifong's actions. As KC Johnson notes, Obama is uniquely qualified to make this call--he was a law school professor.

On a sad note, Reade Seligmann's attorney died of a sudden heart attack and will not get the satisfaction of seeing his client fully exonerated.

Bible Class at a Public School Near Me

Interesting developments. I love the Time article, implying that "liberals" need to know their bible better if only to argue against conservatives more effectively. The idea used as an example:

HERE IS ONE OF PROTHERO'S FAVORITE stories of Bible ignorance. In 1995 a federal appeals court upheld the overturn of a death sentence in a Colorado kidnap-rape-murder case because jurors had inappropriately brought in extraneous material--Bibles--for an unsanctioned discussion of the Exodus verse "an eye for eye, tooth for tooth ... whoever ... kills a man shall be put to death." The Christian group Focus on the Family complained, "It is a sad day when the Bible is banned from the jury room." Who's most at fault here? The jurors, who perhaps hadn't noticed that in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus rejects the eye-for-an-eye rule, word for word, in favor of turning the other cheek? The Focus spokesman, who may well have known of Jesus' repudiation of the old law but chose to ignore it? Or any liberal who didn't know enough to bring it up?
This argument is even more nuanced than suggested. The "turn the other cheek" retort carried to its absurd end creates anarchy--no punishment for any crime is the often sophomoric reading of the New Testament. Jesus also said to "render to Caesar, what is due Caesar, render to God, God's", which implies that Jesus fully understood that there needed to be a law in the land and that it needed to be complied with, too. In fact, had Jesus been staunchly anti-war, anti-law enforcement, surely He would have mentioned that salient fact to the Roman Centurian, but he didn't. He also wouldn't announce his second coming with Trumpets alerting the world to war. He'd be dropping flower petals and singing Imagine.

The confusion suggests that the solution is Bible learning. People need more religious education. I've made the argument before that one can hardly be considered educated without a firm biblical understanding. Christians, especially need to get their noses in the Good Book. We can hardly share the "hope that lies within" if we don't the truth of God's word.

I'm all for this new development. Since kids aren't getting educated in church, they need to at least have an understanding of the Bible as literature.

Naughty Naps

Being a night-owl in a day-driven society can be tough on a girl. For whatever reason, I'm wired to think bigger, better (or maybe it's just medium-sized, barely average) thoughts from the hours 10 -1 a.m. Drives me crazy, really. As much as I'd like to conform to societal expectations, it's been a futile effort thus far and napping is the least of it.

So, I'm a big fan of the perfect nap. There are perfect naps, you know. The kind where you lay down, feeling a little naughty and slip into sweet, stolen slumber. For me, waking refreshed and getting a good second wind for the afternoon and evening, makes for a wonderful day. According to research, it contributes to my gut-butt issues (less sleep after my compensatory nap). This makes napping that much naughtier. I'm short on naughty in my life; it's pathetic, actually, that my nap qualifies as naughty, but that's the state of my 1950s life. Watch out! I could be sipping martinis at 5:00 p.m. soon. And feather-dusting. And wearing pumps and cone bras. Probably, not. Naps will have to be the naughtiest I get, those and Coca-Colas.

Well, another napper, someone whom I respect immensely (no, not Winston Churchill, though he was a big napper, too) James Lileks, naps without guilt.

I used to sleep in until noon. Those were the carefree college days – or, more accurately, the carefree college days in which I had stopped going to classes. (A small but important distinction.) Oh, I had spent a few years getting up for early classes, sitting half-awake in dark rooms with a cup of cafeteria coffee until Prof. Canedy jolted everyone awake with another exceptional lecture on the miracles of Renaissance Art, but towards the end of my college career I took one afternoon class, wrote a lot, waited tables at night, played a lot of pinball, and argued over The World in a booth at the Valli after bar rush. I’d go home, listen to Larry King in the dark, drift off, and wake on the cold, shame-draped steps of Noon.

Sleeping 'til noon, "shame-draped". Now I nap, shame-draped and naughty. Well, I'm due a naughty nap. We'll see if I get one this week.

Anna Nicole "Accidental" Death

Anna Nicole died from an "accidental overdose" and fanatics now have a new Elvis, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, name your self-destructive, beloved star. What does it say about our society that this generation's tragic star was really an untalented woman who used her body to succeed? Elvis could sing. Princess Diana served. Marilyn Monroe could act. What did Anna do?

She stripped, she sold her body, she used drugs and alcohol, she enlarged her breasts. I guess she's just the post-modern feminist. Well, with her "accidental" death, there's plenty of room to keep the conspiracy alive.

Saying the Acceptable, Filtering the Incorrect

Those who are always in step with the "moral fashion" might not actually be thinking-- just reflexively barking out the "accepted" world view.

These two points remind me of many liberal people I know in New York (and elsewhere): they get their ideas from liberal opinion leaders, and they hardly realize it, and they believe they're open-minded, even though they won't brook disagreement with their adopted views.
H/T Glenn Reynolds

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tolkien's New Book

Now this is why I read blogs. VITAL information must get out!

Redistribution of Wealth

It makes sense to me that money would go from the biggest taxpayers to those who don't pay taxes--ostensibly these are the people who need it.

Overall, we find that America's lowest-earning one-fifth of households received roughly $8.21 in government spending for each dollar of taxes paid in 2oo4.

Some argue that the tax system should be fair. Good think it isn't.

Chimera: Human-Sheep

I'm worried about this for this reason, quoted at the bottom of the story:

But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God, with the possibility of silent viruses, which are harmless in animals, being introduced into the human race.

Dr Patrick Dixon, an international lecturer on biological trends, warned: "Many silent viruses could create a biological nightmare in humans. Mutant animal viruses are a real threat, as we have seen with HIV."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Duke (non) Rape: Is It Almost Over?

I hope so. Here's good news, if true.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Democrats Should Be Ashamed

Pork-laden, craven and troop-undercutting, that's the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi was positively jubilant during her press conference. She's the perfect Speaker for the Democrats: she knows no shame. How many promises can you break and look yourself in the mirror? And do the Democrats believe the military feels supported by them? And will Americans approve of this nonsense in the face of a successful start to a new war strategy?

Glenn Reynolds has a round-up.

Oh, and here's the General who is giving Michael Yon crap in Baghdad. You know, General Brooks, your war has enough enemies from without and within, as Congress proves. Do you really want to make life hard for an patriot and fair reporter?

Sanctioning Iran

"It's a difficult situation in which we find ourselves," said Nana Effah-Apenteng, the ambassador from Ghana. "I think it would be better for them to wait and get consensus."
That's the problem with the U.N. in a nutshell--waiting for consensus.

Paying Women to Keep Babies Instead of Aborting Them

Would this work?

Has Iran Declared War on Great Britain or Iraq?--UPDATE Scroll Down

Iran operatives in Iraq's territorial waters have kidnapped fifteen British sailors. Does Iran have a death-wish or are do they believe the international community will be forced to negotiate about the nuclear thing?

With Ahmadinejad in the U.S. to address the U.N., perhaps the U.S. should seize him. Isn't it permissible to capture the enemy commander during war?

The President and Congress have more important things to deal with than subpoenas and testifying.

UPDATE: Well, I'm not alone in my thinking, but I'm surprised how nonchalant some appear to be about this development. Andrew Cochran notes that oil hasn't shot up in response (always a delightful outcome for rogue states in dire financial straits).

Brendan Loy has a nice round-up. His wife and I are on the same page, evidently. He points to Dr. Rusty Shackleford who says this:

Isn't this an act of war?

Another update: Given that embassies in Tehran were making evacuation plans, I hate to place the tinfoil hat on here, but what are the chances that this was a planned operation?

Allah provides video of the last time Iran took British personell hostage and says:
Iran can’t have meant to do this, not with Ahmadinejad set to address the Security Council tomorrow about the nuclear program and not to the British, who’ve been adamant in opposing any military action on Iran.

Maybe, and in my heart of hearts I'm a Realist--which posits that nations are rational actors that act in their own interests. But rationality is constrained by culture and what may seem rational in Tehran may seem crazy-insane to the rest of us. Case in point: all of Iranian history since 1979.

Anyway, I agree that they'll probably be let go unharmed. And it's far more likely that Allah is right and that this is probably nothing more than a bunch of Iranian sailors working from the cuff and egged on by years of propaganda, but never completely write off the crazy. Especially when you're dealing with Iran.
Allah has more.

And the Brits are brave. May they come back whole and well. Right now, they're blind-folded and being paraded around.

: Ahmadinejad cancels trip. Awwww..... Wonder what he's going to do with his 15 British visitors? Each hour that passes bodes ill.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Michael Yon from Iraq: Threatened..... UPDATED a General. Good grief! You'd think his biggest concern would be an IED or sniper fire, but no. Here's what's going on:

The great difficulty in filing stories from Iraq is leading me to experiment. We are into the fifth year of the war Iraq, yet no comprehensive system exists to help media communicate to people at home. Raw information only trickles back from Iraq because the flow is strangled. That we are into the fifth year of war here, yet there is no filing center on even the larger bases is telling. Telling, perhaps, that information flow to America has never been a priority, or perhaps the priority has been to squelch it. The system of elaborate excuses is the only part of it all that is well-refined.

There is no joy in being here. Nothing to laugh about. For every drop of information conveyed, a bucket is spilled. Folks say to me, “I hope you are saving all that for a book when you get back.” Fact is, now is the time that the information can be most important.


But considering all the planning, organization, logistics and resources that went in to putting up what amounts to a food court in a surburban mall, how hard would it be, really, for there to be a clean, well-lit press trailer, open 24-7, with some desks, chairs and lockers, wired for the internet? Not on every base, but on enough of them so that stories from everywhere else could get out on a regular basis. For a military that is the first to gripe about not getting enough press–in a kind of war where the press can determine the outcome–it seems fairly obvious that the first step would be to at least make sure there is a place for the press to work. If this were a few months into this war, I could understand it, but to not even be at square one this far in?

A general emailed in the past 24 hours threatening to kick me out. The first time the Army threatened to kick me out was in late 2005, just after I published a dispatch called “Gates of Fire.” Some of the senior level public affairs people who’d been upset by “Proximity Delays” were looking ever since for a reason to kick me out and they wanted to use “Gates of Fire” as a catapult. In the events described in that dispatch, I broke some rules by, for instance, firing a weapon during combat when some of our soldiers were fighting fairly close quarters and one was wounded and still under enemy fire. That’s right. I’m not sure what message the senior level public affairs people thought that would convey had they succeeded, (which they didn’t) but it was clear to me what they valued most. They want the press on a short leash, even at the expense of the life of a soldier.
Argh! This man is absolutely vital to getting information on the other, MORE IMPORTANT, front of the war. If Americans lose heart, there is no soldier in Iraq for long. Guys like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio help inform and encourage Americans. They give a soldiers point-of-view, they don't candy-coat and they're fair. What more would a General want?

Austin Bay, a fellow Houstonian (although, technically I'm a Woodlands resident--close enough), says this:
This is stupid. Michael Yon and Bill Roggio are the best out there. Telling Michael Yon to exit the theater is the WWII equivalent of telling Ernie Pyle to quit filing dispatches.

Everyone knows the PAO system has never been much more than mediocre — I’ve met some very smart public affairs officers and non-coms, but the system is inadequate, at times inept. Now Yon says someone wants to kick him out of Iraq. Tut. At a Pentagon lunch last fall General Pace mentioned to me the importance of milblogs. I then told him the word circulating the blogosphere was that the Army wanted to limit milblogs. Yes, there is an OPSEC argument, but read the milblogs. The soldiers posting know about OPSEC. Pace told me he would look into the rumor. No, I never heard back. I suggest that General Pace look into this report from Yon.
Winning in Iraq is crucial, but the war will be lost if it's lost at home. The reporters, especially the independent blog-journalists, in Iraq are critical to winning the war at home. They need to be helped to do their job.

[All emphasis my own.]

UPDATE: More from Michael. Caught between watching his gear, getting moved to cots in rooms with no privacy, being denied a desk and adequate internet connections, Michael is in Iraq but can't exactly write from Iraq in these conditions.

General Petreaus are you reading what's happening in your command?

Ann Althouse: The No Impact Lifestyle

A book is being written, of course. Althouse says,"I hope that book isn't going to be printed on, you know, paper."

I have an idea: Why don't Americans go back to the good old days? Be Amish. I bet they have a "no impact" lifestyle. No computers, though, so people couldn't write (on a computer anyway) a book about their "no impact" lifestyle. They'd just have to, you know, live it.

Do the Amish have printing presses?

Xylitol Poisonous to Dogs

Thought this was important. Makes me wonder what it's doing to humans. H/T Gina Cobb

300 Versus TV: What kind of violence is it OK to glorify?

For the hubby's birthday, I bought a three month digital cable deal for him so he could get crazy with March Madness. It's been a Mad March and well worth the obscene price the cable companies charge to flip a switch in the ether somewhere. What a racket. But I digress.

So we've spent the last month getting reacquainted with pop culture. I've become a big fan of Melinda and Blake on American Idol. The kids have enjoyed the Little Einsteins show on Disney. And of course, there is ESPN and basketball--like a new drug for an old addict. But there is a nasty side of TV, too and it seems to me it just gets nastier and nastier. Just last night, while flipping through the channels, this is what I saw:

  • A serial arsonist who got off on watching people burn alive, and the burning was shown in graphic detail--three different times
  • A Joseph Mengele like Jewish identical twin serial killer who branded his victims and carried out experiments on them who then gets caught by a victim's mother who is stopped before she bull-whips him to death while tied to the front of his car
  • A mother and father who held their daughter down and stabbed her to death for dating a boy
  • A daughter who stabbed her mother to death for not believing her, "You never listen to me!"
  • A foreign bride agency who killed a bride who "didn't work out" and whose bones were buried in some weird Chinese ritual (this was the least weird story believe it or not)
  • A father who killed his daughter's high school friend with whom he was having an affair and gets found out when his daughter takes the police to the crime scene after admitting taking the dead body and burying it in a cemetery because she didn't want to be found out for prostituting herself for money and booze.
The shows were various crime shows: CSI, CSI Miami, Law & Order: SVU, and a host of copy-cat shows. All of them had inane dialogue, attention to minute details that were graphic and explicit in their crime scene depictions. They were gruesome. All the shows displayed this forensic-science-is-magic quality where the criminals get nabbed by the tiniest of details; the magic clue that gives them away.

Humans possess a morbid fascination with the psychological pathology that drives abusive murderous actions. Just yesterday Drudge had a story about a sadistic English woman who tortured (and not in the supposed Gitmo flush-the-Koran-down-the-toilet context--real, horrendous, malicious nastiness) her three foster children. Evidently, she didn't think they'd grow up and tell anyone of her vile behavior. She fits the picture of evil--central casting couldn't have done better. She is real. And disturbing. And well, terrifying. She makes everyone wonder: who else seems normal but is psycho behind the veneer? It's one thing to marvel at, it's another thing to indulge in the sick voyeurism over and over. It's bound to change a person and not for the better.

While the TV shows leave no doubt about who the villain is, the overall message of these shows glorifies not only the heroes but the criminals, too. And that is my problem. These shows enable the criminals. Bad guys watch these shows and figure out ways around the system, but more than that get educated in weird, bizarre and awful ways to hurt, maim and murder their fellow man. And I just can't bear to think of a child watching these shows, yet you and I both know that they do. With bedtimes of 11 o'clock (you wouldn't believe how many kids around here stay up that late on school nights, no less) and TVs and computers in their bedrooms, kids can switch between violence and porn depending on their morbid fascination.

Being away from TV for years increases my sensitivity to the images and ideas, I guess. I've never had much of a stomach for gratuitous violence. In college, twenty years ago, I dragged my husband-to-be out of a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Lionheart, I think the name was, and the first scene was some guy getting set on fire. That was Rated "R" then, I think. And now similar images are on TV all the time? How does Hollywood get away with this garbage?

There is no question in my mind that shows like this, aggressive violent music, and all the other garbage filling the airways hardens the culture. In fact, I find the critics outrage at 300 humorous after spending some time watching the bilge that passes for adult TV entertainment. Critics worry that a fantastical period piece glorifies violence and a war culture. Are they kidding? What is glorified day in, day out and comes into American's homes (at least with an R rated movie a kid has to convince a parent to take them to it) makes 300 seem like a cartoon--which it kind of is. Meanwhile, these crime shows glorify the sick, the twisted, the lurking beast in men (and women). The ubiquity of these messages make it seem like America is filled to the brim with psychopathic killers--held barely at bay with cutting edge technology and gritty crime fighters.

But wait, that's just the message Hollywood wants to send. America portrayed as an immoral cess-pool, the stink reeking underneath the shiny veneer of civilization. Given the wrong upbringing, the wrong trigger, the wrong situation, Americans are all brutish beasts--just like the so-called "terrorists".

So long as America is portrayed like a big bunch of freaks (see Little Miss Sunshine here and here), the critics are fine. Don't make America look like self-sacrificing, willing-to-die-for-a-big-idea bunch of strong-spined winners, though. That would be gratuitous violence and distorting the truth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Time For Impeachment

Would there have been an anti-war leftist progressive movement if Al Gore had won in 2000 and again in 2004? Would we have gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq at all? Would there be any war to potentially protest?

I actually believe Al Gore would have started down the same path as George Bush. Everyone was looking at the same intelligence, everyone worried about these threats that had been left unchecked for years and needed to be addressed. No one wanted to face another 9/11. And a Leftist in power would never want to be perceived as weak in the aftermath of the worst act of terrorism on American soil in history. With a Republican or a Democrat, we would have been at war. Does anyone believe the war waged by Gore would have gone faster, smoother, with less loss of life? That we'll never know. In fact, all these hypothetical scenarios are really neither here nor there, but I can't help but wonder if Gore would be facing impeachment rumblings had he followed Bush's course as I believe he would have.

And now, would Gore face impeachment with these facts backing him?:

But look at what todays Left, joined by the terrorist regimes around the world (do a Google search for "Bush Impeachment", it's impossible to ignore the results) pushes for today. Here's what people are saying:
The Left want Bush to pay now and political expedience is beneath them (it is not, however, beneath those facing political considerations like reelection):
If Democrats wanted to end the war, they could do so immediately by refusing to pass a supplemental funding measure to support it, but they don’t want to do this. It’s not that they fear being called unpatriotic--hell, with 70 percent of the public wanting the war to end immediately, nobody would fault Congress for pulling the plug. Even the troops who are stuck over there wouldn't be upset to see the funding that keeps them there terminated. But ending the war would leave the Democrats without their best issue going into the 2008 national election: Bush’s war. So instead of ending the war, they vote to oppose it, but then continue to fund it. (Rep. Emanuel has actually said publicly that it would be good for Democrats if the war were to continue through November 2008.)

It’s a supremely cynical campaign ploy, and it’s also behind the strategy of keeping impeachment “off the table.” If Bush were impeached, and witnesses began getting called in under oath to expose his and Vice President Dick Cheney’s lies and deceit in tricking the nation into war, his illegal NSA spying activities, his obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame outing investigation, his authorization of torture, his obstruction of efforts to combat global warming, his criminal failure to provide troops with armor or to plan for an Iraq occupation or to respond to the disaster in New Orleans, and his usurpation of the powers of Congress and the Judiciary in invalidating over 1200 laws passed by the Congress, it would almost certainly lead to his (and Cheney’s) removal from office and to a prompt end to the war. Then where would Democrats be?

They’d have to stand on their own merits.
Well, I have to agree with Lindroff about one thing: the decision to not impeach is political. If the Democrats go forward with an impeachment hearing for President Bush, they will sink their chances of winning just about any election again in the near future in all both the most Blue of Blue districts. I suspect that Nancy Pelosi knows this. While she would be crowned Queen Forever in San Francisco, the rest of the country would beat the rest of the Democrats to a red, bloody pulp--electorally speaking.

As for the Leftist concerns about Bush, he's wrong. First, Bush didn't deceive anyone. Everyone was privy to the same intelligence, worldwide, and everyone was wrong, or late, depending on your view. I'm one of those people who believe the convoy going toward Syria was actually carrying something. Second, show me where 70% of Americans want our soldiers out of Iraq, now. I don't believe it. If that was the case, I think even George Bush would change his mind. Third, the NSA program is legal. And it's not a big sell to the American people. It might be a tougher sell if we were get hit by terrorists every day. (What's the point of survellience if plots aren't stopped?) And "no one would fault Congress for pulling the plug" is wishful thinking. Congress would be exactly who would get blamed and everyone in Congress knows it. As for torture, Americans are against it, but if Sheikh Mohommad gives up info that saves my kids, guess what? Americans will look the other way, but they would sure as heck blame the President if we suffered another attack which could have been prevented with some judicious use of water-boarding. Global Warming--the President would be impeached for obstructing Global Warming ending efforts? And as the list goes on and on, Americans ignore all of it.

Impeaching President Bush would be a Democrat disaster of monumental proportions.

And as for the genuineness of the Leftist Progressive outrage, I don't believe for an instant that Gore would be facing impeachment in these circumstances. The Progressive Left is on angry auto-pilot. The notion that there actions against a President during a time of war would undermine the United States everywhere escapes them. They believe the opposite is true.

The only problem with this Impeachment talk is that Americans don't want the President impeached and everyone in Washington knows this. But the leftist progressives won't be stopped, if they have their way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What's Love Got To Do With Marriage?

A lot. And nothing. Ace quotes Garrison Keillor who gets why gay marriage is such a queer idea.

Just to offend absolutely everyone in one blog post: abortion should be banned because it is unfair (obviously) to the child and to the father who has no say in the matter. Likewise he should pay mandatory child support whether he got deceived and donated his sperm or whether he thought he loved the lady and now doesn't. He will support that child through college based on his financial ability. Period. Yes, everyone suffers. That's what parenthood is all about. Adults sacrificing for their children. It's about the children.

Likewise marriage is about the children. It is not about the romance or the intellectual stimulation or the companionship or the shared activities or self-realization or even about the love; if all of those are a part of the relationship, that's a bonus. Marriage is about a solid foundation for a child. The love for the child should keep the marriage intact. The only time a marriage should be broken up is when the child is harmed. (And yes, children are harmed when mom gets tuned up. And it is abusive for her to subject her children to that.)

All the people running around living out self-actualization fantasies and believe fulfillment comes through getting needs met and achieving and finding that place, man, should leave parenting to the grown-ups. The downside is that means leaving sex to the grown-ups, too, 'cuz ya never know. Know what I mean?

Aside: How far have we slid as a society, that this even needs to be spelled out?

Would You Kill Bambi? I Mean Knute?

Knute is a polar bear and if animal rights activists get their way, they'll go pro-choice on his soft, white, fuzzy butt. Knute isn't being raised by the "right" kind of family. His adoptive family is a different race, I mean species, and that's just not normal. His mother didn't want him, and when the abortion (okay food and love) failed, the activists say, "Kill 'im". Death is better than the pathetic, limited, deprived life at a zoo. It's like a life sentence, man! That's way worse than the death penalty.

Well, Knute wouldn't be the first adopted kid to survive, a bit scarred maybe, a bit weird possibly, but okay and at least, alive. And he could have a future as a "stud". How bad is that?

Iraq: What Everyone Knows

There is an essential sadness to all war writing. A good war day can still be filled with death, after all. Michael Yon continues his Iraq coverage. His posts are tinged with that sweet sadness and reminded me, I've noted before, of Ernest Hemingway. Others hear Ernie Pyle in Yon's voice. No matter, Michael Yon should be on your reading list. It's essential to hear his voice to get perspective on Iraq. Yon brings up a good point about the difference between Pyle's war and Iraq:

Where Pyle and I share closest ties is in our knowledge of the value our work has for troop morale, for strategic gains, and for ensuring the support of Americans back home. But in Ernie’s day, it seems that more of the military leaders knew this as well, and they made it their business to act on that knowledge. Military leaders made it possible for Ernie Pyle to do his best work, something I wrote about more than one year ago. But Ernie said it best when he wrote about the 9th Infantry Division in his book “Brave Men.”

Lack of recognition definitely affects morale. Every commanding general is aware that publicity for his unit is a factor in morale. Not publicity in the manufactured sense, but a public report to the folks back home on what an outfit endures and what it accomplishes. The average doughboy will go through his share of hell a lot more willingly if he knows that he is getting some credit for it and the home folks know about it.

As a result of this neglect in the Mediterranean, the Ninth laid careful plans so that it wouldn’t happen again. In the first place, a new censorship policy was arrived at, under which the identities of the divisions taking part in a campaign would be publicly released just as soon as it was definitely established that the Germans knew they were in combat. With that big hurdle accomplished, the Ninth made sure that the correspondents themselves would feel at home with them. They set up a small Public Relations section, with an officer in charge, and a squad of enlisted men to move the correspondents’ gear, and a truck to haul it, and three tents with cots, electric lights and tables.

Correspondents who came with the Ninth could get a meal, a place to write, a jeep for the front, or a courier to the rear—and at any time they asked.

Of course, in spite of all such facilities, a division has to be good in the first place if it’s going to get good publicity. The Ninth was good.


Back then, everyone seemed to know that the Germans were hopeless followers of fanatics, who were only emboldened by appeasement overtures. And that the Japanese were so aggressively fanatical that they would fly airplanes full of fuel and bombs into our ships, knowing they were going to die. But for the unlucky raise of his head, Ernie Pyle never saw how Germany ended up being America’s ally, or how the collective focus of Japan was harnessed as an economic force that birthed the notion of globalization. Having covered the war so close to the ground, could Pyle have predicted anything beyond the outcome of victory for allied forces?

Is there anything about Iraq that "everyone seem(s) to know"? Are there universal truths that drive this fight? Is there a rightness of action, everyone agrees upon and coalesces around?

I yearn for days I have never known, where America solidly backs a course of action and without doubt marches unified. My life began during the "peace movement", free-love, licentious late 60s and since then the United States has essentially been divided. It was divided soon after 9/11. The Leftists of this country simply had to cork it because to say what they believed would be political suicide. Even still, their anger bubbled under the surface and is fully on display these days.

What so riles them? Global Warming passes for the moral crisis of our times and it's infuriating that everyone hasn't come to the obvious conclusion: civilizations is bad. It is most definitely not agreed that Islamofascists present an existential threat to the Western world. It is most certainly true that terrorists are good people too, and for just a little Western love, would be accepted instead of being misunderstood. It is known that all (illegal) "immigrants" are just trying to help their families and that those who oppose illegal immigration are racist. It is presumed that Gay Marriage is a right conferred by the constitution and anyone who opposes it is a close-minded bigot--certainly not someone with the weight of thousands of years of social and cultural history never mind nearly every world religion on their side.

Universal truths in this post-modern era are the inversion of any sort of truth anyone during the World War II era would be familiar with. Americans can't even clearly identify the enemy. Outrageously, the choice of enemies is between George Bush and terrorists. At least that's the way the press puts it forward. No mention of the other, bigger enemies: apathy and moral equivalence. Or heaven forbid real, physical enemies with explicit anti-American and anti-free people rhetoric: Iran, Wahhabists, an oppressive Russia or enigmatic China. And what about the desperation foisted by failed ideologies like socialism? This ideology can't be labeled an enemy of freedom though it surely is our enemy.

It will be difficult to win any war for America if the enemy can't be identified, if the ideology isn't deemed destructive. And that's the biggest difference between Yon's Iraq theater and Pyle's WWII theaters, or rather, that's the difference between America then and now. Americans have changed. And the politicians Americans elect have changed. And American society has changed. And American morality has changed. We are, these days, rather like 18th Century England, as Mark Steyn pointed out.

We shouldn't be surprised if the outcomes of our wars change, too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Criminalizing Conservatives

This has gotten insane.

True Religion

I haven't been blogging as much or with much depth when I have blogged recently. It's been a whirlwind around here. Spring Break with the kids home. House painted. Workers hither and thither. Family in town. A toddler who cries every time he sees me sit at the computer. Every. Time. Unless, I'm doing something frivolous like playing a video game on my daughter's Webkinz website. Yes, children under ten have community websites where they play, learn, care for their Web pet (she has a pink pony and a white, long-haired cat) and can hang out with friends. They also play games and I'm addicted to one of them. Little Toot delights in watching it--it's simple, really. You line up three balls of the same color and they explode and you get points. You earn "kins kash" the more points you get and can feed your pet and buy cool stuff.

Anyway, not much time to blog and not much interested in blogging. The news is always the same: Republicans accused of some nefarious plot, much time spent dodging and weaving the silliness, all meant to distract from real issues. The media truly is a disgraceful bunch. So, yeah, I'm tired of seeing the same thing over and over.

Other people are dealing with real problems--not just media fatigue. So I stopped over at the Anchoress and she finds this gem. Where does she find them? You absolutely MUST go read this post. It's heartening and encouraging and reaffirming.

This is a challenging time of year--or it often is for those who adhere to Judeo-Christian faiths. It is a time of reflection and analysis. The more Orthodox Jews remove leavening from their homes--the leaven a symbol of sin. Lent serves the same purpose for Catholics. They give up physical attachments to point out how physically attached frail humans are to things. We physical beings need tangible symbols to make our spiritual walk real. As we catalog all the ways our short-comings precipitated the necessity of a Savior, we are humbled and small. Often, physical pain, trials and tribulations hit at this time of year. They are opportunities to recognize, again, our smallness in the face of the bigness of God.

I think much of the hopelessness in the Western world correlates with the decline of faith. A person who believes their actions, their influence, their decisions are the only things that count can succumb to desperation in short order. A person whose world shrinks to their own realm of influence is the king of a tiny and impotent domain.

And this is where the non-God fearing get angry. They believe that because those of faith trust the Maker of us all to guide the big picture, the faithful disregard the small picture. That's not true. Those who practice true religion make sure to serve their fellow man. Those who practice true religion "dress and keep" their corner of the world. Those who practice true religion love their neighbor as much as they love their own life. True religion is feeding and dressing the needy. And those who practice the truest religion lay their lives down for their fellow man.

It's a paradox that those who value life the most would die to protect it. Jesus died so that we could live. Those who die on the battlefield die so that we live, so that those hopeless and helpless in the Middle East might live. Many Iraqis have sacrificed themselves so that their neighbor could live. Every sacrifice counts.

This big idea, willing self-sacrifice to serve seems so antiquated. It's old-fashioned to imagine doing servile work to lift someone else up. It's good work. It's God's work.

What is Your Job?

People answer this question: banking or medicine or framing or writing or whatever their profession happens to be. That's correct technically, but wrong practically. A person's job is the same no matter the profession: make the boss happy.

Well, it's impossible to make someone happy if they choose to be unhappy. But an employees job is to try to make the boss's life easier, to solve problems not create them, to simplify rather than complicate. Too often, people get hung up on the stated purpose for a hiring or promotion or lateral move: you have a great ability to innovate. So, as new employee, the attempt to innovate informs every decision. No, the real goal should be to find out what the boss wants and exceed the delivery of the desired product.

Do you cling to noble notions of changing the world when all the boss wants is the TPS report delivered on time? Maybe you need to recalibrate your job description. It's not selling out to make the boss happy, it's your job.