Sleepy Easter round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI thought my day would be busier, but it’s settled into a relaxing mode that makes enticing just a wee bit of blogging.  So that’s what I’m doing here — a wee bit of blogging.

First on the agenda is a freaky “pigs flying” moment from MSNBC.  NewsBusters caught a panel on the Chris Hayes show, including a writer from the far-Left Nationexpressing some queasiness about the way in which gay rights activists have been targeting individuals.  I’m sure the MSNBC/Nation crew will recover quickly from this brief lapse into sanity, but it sure does make for interesting reading.

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Pat Sajak has his own subtle comment about pressure from gay right’s activists.

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Sultan Knish on the moral vacuum of Progressive morality.

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I cited David Archibald this morning for his chilling look at the potential famine dogging Egypt’s heels.  I’m citing him this afternoon because of his trenchant post about solar activity and the scientific community’s resolute refusal to acknowledge the data lest it clash with their anthropogenic global warming narrative.

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I think there are few students of Tudor history who don’t prefer Queen Elizabeth I to Mary I.  Elizabeth was charismatic, beautiful, witty, and one of the first people in history to hold that a person’s religious beliefs should be private.  By contrast, Mary, although personally kind and warm, was lumpy, unattractive, often pitiable, and religiously fanatic.  It was she who brought auto de fe to England in her effort to turn back the Protestant reformation.  She succeeded only in creating martyrs and died knowing that her attempts to reinstate Catholicism had failed.  For her sake, though, I hope that there is a conscience afterlife and that she is enjoying the spectacle of a liberal Church of England denuding itself of parishioners even as the more stringent Catholic church witnesses an increase in its numbers.

My personal history helps me understand why the C of E is failing, despite abasing itself ever more before every Leftist social and political trend.  Although I grew up in a non-religious household, when it came to Passover, my family went all out.  We did the entire Passover in both Hebrew and English, complete with every ritual.  Even as children, we were expected to participate fully.  When I was an adult and far from home, a friend invited me to her family’s Passover.  They were reform.  The ritual was conducted in English, although the language wouldn’t have mattered, because no one was paying attention.  There was no reverence for this ancient celebration of the world’s first slave revolt.  I was bored and dismayed.  My feeling then, as it is now, is “If you’re going to be religious, be religious.  Unless you invest religion with meaning, why bother?”

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Occasionally, the New York Times shows why people still respect its writing.  At the very bottom of a movie review, where it sums up the reason the movie is given a specific rating (e.g., PG or R), the Times has this to say about Make Your Move:  ”‘Make Your Move’ is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Language, drug and sexual references, brief violence and prurient tap dancing.” “Prurient tap dancing?” Is that Fred Astaire I hear rolling in his grave?

A short, sweet Easter afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s Easter Sunday, and that means all family all the time.  No complaints here, though.  It’s been a lovely day so far and I anticipate an equally pleasant afternoon and evening.  Full blogging will not happen today, but here are a few (a very few) links that intrigued me:

I’ve long known in a vague sort of way that Egypt is one grain of wheat away from a famine.  Having read David Archibald’s article, though, I now know in a very specific way precisely what kind of famine may be facing the world’s most populous Muslim nation.  While the Western world seems to have managed to stay one step ahead of Malthus, that’s not the case in Egypt, where bad things — overpopulation, underproduction, lack of diversification, political upheaval, and probable drought — are coming together to create a Perfect Storm of advanced hunger.

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One of my favorite non-fiction books is Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. In authoring the book, Cahill has no ego. To the extent that he’s vastly well-informed, he wants to share his knowledge with people, not overwhelm them with his erudition. The result is a book that is simultaneously scholarly and accessible. I mentioned it here because Shmuley Boteach has written what could be the short version of that same book, describing how the Jews have contributed to the world’s well-being.

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Two very specific things in the early 1980s taught me that socialism cannot work. The first was the fact that, when my father visited his sister in East Germany, shortly after she retired from her decade’s long career as a high level Communist Party functionary, he discovered that she had lived for nine years with a broken and unusable kitchen sink. Not to worry, this true believer told my father.  She was “on the list” and was confident that the glorious Communist Party would one day get around to fixing her sink.  I suspect that it was still broken when the wall came down.

The second thing that taught me that socialism cannot work was the story of two hip replacements. Back in 1974, my father got his hip replacement two months or so after he was told that it was the only way to keep him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He walked, albeit with pain for the next twenty years of his life, until his death.

Meanwhile, in 1981, while I was living in England, I met a woman who had been told back in 1979 that a hip replacement was the only thing that would keep her out of a wheelchair. When I met her, she’d been barely functioning for two years, although she’d avoided the wheelchair. After I left, she went into the wheelchair. I lost contact with her about two years after a left England (i.e., four years after the referral for hip surgery), at which time she was still in that wheelchair. I don’t know whether she ever got that hip.

Keep those realities in mind when you read about Sweden’s socialized medicine, which works wonderfully only if you live long enough to benefit from it.

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The DiploMad may not be in the State Department any more, but he has friends who are. He’s learned from these friends that the State Department has a new initiative to ensure that something like Benghazi never happens again. Let me just say that I’m with the DiploMad in thinking that the movers and shakers in State are delusional — and to despair that they’re pursuing their delusions using our dollars and American lives.

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A lawyer friend of mine is brilliant, informed, and an incredibly good writer.  I hope those are adequate reasons for you to check out his post about the Free Speech (and Association) implications of the attack on Brendan Eich.

Does Progressive atheism drive the hostility to guns and self-defense?

Sistine-Creation-DetailHqMike McDaniel is one of the best and most knowledgeable thinkers and writers when it comes to guns and the Second Amendment.  That’s why it’s worth sitting up and taking notice when he revisits one of his own posts to discuss reader objections.  I’ll run you through what Mike has to say and then tell you why I agree with him.  This is a long post, but I hope it’s engaging enough to sustain your interest all the way through, so that you’ll take the time to weigh in with your own opinions.

It all started with a post entitled “Why It’s So Hard To Discuss Guns Rationally With Some People,” which Mike published at The Truth About Guns (“TTAG”), one of the internet’s premier Second Amendment sites.  Mike’s starting point is the same problem I had when discussing guns with liberal friends in the wake of Sandy Hook: Progressives cannot move beyond emotions and get to actual facts.

Mike, though, didn’t stop with my facile conclusion about how frustrating it is to talk about guns with Progressives.  Instead, he looked beyond the emotional drivel and honed in on the core ideologies driving Progressive or, more accurately, statist thinking.  These ideologies are

(1) the Progressive’s belief in the state’s ability to solve every problem and its corollary,  which is that every individual other than the Progressive holding this thought is incapable of knowing what’s best for him;

(2) the Progressive’s refusal to acknowledge that there is a Higher Power or Being, reinforcing the belief in the all powerful state and further diminishing an individual’s standing; and

(3) the Progressive’s belief that the state is both infallible and unfalsifiable.  This belief allows Progressives to argue that, if a specific law fails — say, that a law specific guns fails to stop or even slow gun crime — the answer is to pass the same law, only to make it more far-reaching and consequential.

Mike’s article garnered 355 comments.  To Mike’s surprise, the point in his article that got the harshest criticism was his second argument, the one holding that rejecting a Higher Being is what allows Progressives to deny the right to armed-self defense.   Here’s Mike’s argument in that regard:

The second factor: a refusal to acknowledge the existence of any power higher than themselves. In essence, they refuse to acknowledge the existence of God. For some, this lack of belief is nothing more than being made uncomfortable by the idea that there is One greater than themselves, than their current maximum, cult-of-personality leader, than the state itself. For others, progressivism/statism takes on all of the characteristics of a religion; it become a matter of unquestionable faith. For such people, believing in God is essentially apostasy.

As it relates to the Second Amendment, these two factors make it not only possible, indeed, mandatory for the progressive/statist to deny the unalienable right to self-defense. If there is no God, the individual human life has only the value recognized by the state at any given moment. The individual exists only in service to the state, and the value of their life is measured by the individual’s adherence to the state’s goals and their usefulness to the elite ruling class. That being the case, there’s nothing particularly unique or precious about any individual, therefore an unalienable right to self-defense is nothing but an annoying impediment to the larger, more important goals of the state.

Indeed, God need not even be involved for the committed statist to deny the existence of any right of self-defense. Any unalienable right is an inherent limitation on the power of the state, and no such limitation can be acknowledged. Whether such rights are bestowed by God or invented as a result of human philosophy matters not. The power of the state cannot be diminished, and if the individual is allowed control over their own existence — if that control is bestowed by God which is far more powerful than the state — the power of the state becomes illegitimate and unquestionably hampered.

In any case, if there is no unalienable right to self-defense, there can be no right to keep and bear arms, or as progressives/statists often argue, such “right” guarantees nothing more than the privilege to carry arms in the military—in the service of the state and its ruling elite—and perhaps for hunting or sport shooting under highly restrictive circumstances.

To such arguments, conservatives and others commonly point to the Constitution and particularly, to the Bill of Rights. This is why progressives/statists argue for a “living Constitution,” which is another way of saying that the Constitution says what they want it to say and means what they want it to mean at any given moment. The better to legitimize whichever progressive/statist policy they wish to implement. This is also why progressives/statists labor to install judges who reflect the “living Constitution” frame of mind. Politics are too fickle; better to have true believers legislating from the bench when it’s not, for the moment, possible to impose progressive orthodoxy through the legislative process when the masses are temporarily rebelling against the elite.

To summarize:  For varying reasons, true Progressives cannot simultaneously hold a belief in God and state, so God goes out the window.  Without God, the individual has neither innate dignity nor inherent rights.  He is, instead, just a cog in the state’s workings and his value can never be greater than that which the state assigns to him.  Indeed, inalienable rights are antithetical to an all-powerful state.  They cannot exist simultaneously.  The moment that the individual is subordinate to the state, the state can make whatever rules it wants regarding arms and self-defense.  Usually, these rules benefit the ruling class to the detriment of everyone else.  To the extent the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights indicate otherwise, they must be ignored, interpreted out of existence, or amended to make explicit the state’s control over guns and, by extension, self-defense.

To Mike’s surprise, several TTAG readers took umbrage when he argued that Progressives’s elevation of the state over God (or denial of God altogether) is inextricably intertwined with their rejection of guns and the inherent right to self-defense.

Take, for example, “joleme’s” objection:

I was with him until the god comment.

I’m not sure why some pro-gun people need to split pro-gun supporters by making such statements.  It’s one of the reason’s [sic] I tend to feel uncomfortable around some large groups of gun supporters.  I myself am very pro-gun.  I see no reason to limit the 2nd amendment.  Inevitably however, it seems like someone always has to start a religion talk and ends up being a “only us god fearing men are in the right”.

I think you need to assess your own religious discriminating views.

Mike was quite disturbed that he could be considered as someone who would discriminate against fellow Second Amendment supporters on religious grounds.  He went back through his original TTAG post to see if he came across as a Fire and Brimstone preacher.  I can assure him that he did not.  And since he’s my friend, I want to assure him further that (a) he didn’t insult atheist gun owners and (b) he was right about the “godly aspect” of America’s constitutional right to self-defense.

As to the first point (that he wasn’t insulting atheist gun-rights supporters), Mike needn’t worry.  He definitely wasn’t waiving a discriminatory Bible at people who support the Second Amendment but don’t believe in God.  Those readers who took offense seem to have missed the fact that Mike was entirely unconcerned with pro-Second Amendment people.  Instead, he was trying to understand how America’s self-defined Progressives can deny an individual’s right to self-defense.

It was in that context — why true Progressives cannot accept self-defense, armed or otherwise — that Mike advanced his theory that rejecting a Higher Being’s existence inevitably means living and dying at the state’s whim.  Significantly, that conclusion does not imply its corollary.  That is, while Progressives’ collective atheism drives the hives’ hostility to self-defense, one doesn’t need to believe in God as a predicate to believing in self-defense.  They are not mutually exclusive ideas.

I can easily believe in armed self-defense for non-theistic reasons:  (1) the lesson of history, which is that the greatest number of deaths in the last 150 years have invariably followed a government’s move to disarm its citizens; (2) the fact that mass shootings always happen in “gun free” zones; or (3) the fact that crime goes up when gun control goes up and crime goes down when concealed carry goes up.  All three of these are inarguable facts and it’s impossible to maintain a reasonable gun control stand when faced with these facts.

Since the above facts are the arena in which most gun control discussion are carried out, arguing with gun control fanatics invariably ends with them calling you names.  Indeed, calling Second Amendment supporters blood-crazed, murderous, child-killing Nazis is the only appropriate response when the facts show that, within the confines of a free society (as opposed to, say, Yemen), guns advance individual safety, rather than destroy it.

None of the above facts rely on God.  Both theistic and atheistic individuals can cite them to justify gun rights.

But let’s be honest:  Mike wasn’t talking about a specific individual’s understanding of facts or rights.  Instead — and this is the second issue Mike raised — he was asking a fundamental question:  Why, in America, unlike all other nations, do we have a Constitutional right to bear arms?  Answering this question, at a societal rather than an individual level, requires looking at rights inherent in all men, rather than preference among both theistic and atheistic individuals.  In this larger context, Mike is absolutely right that the Founders’ belief in God was a prerequisite to their drafting the Second Amendment and the Progressive’s collective belief in the State is the overarching justification for their denying the Second Amendment.

Many of the Founders disdained traditional religious worship, but all were theists.  They believed that there was a higher power that created man and elevated him over all other beings on earth, complete with inherent rights that flowed from God, not the state.  That belief is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The state is subordinate to these rights, as the Declaration makes clear in the sentence immediately following that affirmative of rights inherent in all men, irrespective of the state:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

The hierarchy is clear:  First, God; second, His creation (man); and, third, man’s creation (the state).  To ensure that the state retains it’s place at the bottom of the hierarchy, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights.  As I’ve argued (often), the entire purpose behind the Bill of Rights is to ensure that government is subordinate to each individual, and not vice versa.  It is within this context that the Second Amendment makes sense:  First, it exists to ensure that the state cannot become tyrannical as to the collective of all; and second, it exists to ensure that each individual is protected from the state and that each individual has the right to defend the sanctity of his own life, separate from the state’s needs or power.

On the pro-gun side, incidentally, you can also say that you only need the second and third elements of the above hierarchy to justify guns:  man comes first, the state second, and men get guns to keep the state in place.  That’s a valid, non-theistic, pro-gun argument too.

But now look at it the other way, from the Progressive’s point of view, which was Mike’s point.  The Progressives also have an ideological hierarchy underpinning their conception of man’s relationship to government:  First comes the state.  Then comes man.  There can be no God, because God would, by definition, have to supersede the state in the hierarchy.  Man must therefore be subordinate to the state.  This means that the state gets to make all the rules and rule number one is:  NOTHING CAN THREATEN THE STATE.  Moreover, statists fully understand that nothing threatens the state more (as we see on this, the 71st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or as we saw with the Bundy & Co. stand against the BLM) than an individual with a gun.

So Mike is right:  both the godly and the godless (and yes, that last is said with a light laugh and not meant as an insult) can support an individual’s right to bear arms.  However, the only way to deny an individual’s right to bear arms is to deny man’s inherent value vis a vis the state — and that requires a world in which there is no God.  The Progressive hive (as opposed to the individual Progressive who attends his leftist church or synagogue) must deny God both as man’s creator and as a counterweight to the state’s absolute primacy in order to justify denying the Founder’s conclusion that each of us is endowed with an inherent right to self-defense through arms.

And think about it:  Back in the day, Americans didn’t just call communists “communists.”  They called them “Godless communists,” understanding that the Godless part was an intrinsic aspect of the state’s absolute, unfettered power, a power that was and still is invariably accompanied by gun control and the refusal to recognize self-defense as a valid individual right.

My own personal Cloward-Piven breakdown — and request for your ideas about uniting the base

System overloadI haven’t written much in the last two days.  It’s certainly not because there’s been an absence of material, both serious (just about everything) and ridiculous (“Oh, my gawd!  Hillary’s going to be a grandmother!”).  Instead, my problem is that there’s too much to write about.  I’m overwhelmed, and all I can think of is the Cloward-Piven strategy.

I know that you all know what I’m talking about but, to keep the record clean, here’s the Wikipedia summary:

The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”.

While those delightful Leftists were focused solely on destroying the American economy, I’ve always seen the strategy as one that has much larger implications:  if you overload the circuits of anything, the system will blow.

Five years into the Obama administration, the headlines indicate that all the chickens are suddenly coming home to roost.  America and the world are balancing on the knife’s edge.  The checks and balances have broken, the very same checks and balances that kept stability both at home and abroad.

We’re looking into the abyss and I have no idea what to say.

More than that, when I look at what conservatives have to offer, I’m not sanguine about our ability to walk America delicately back from the edge on which it’s poised and bring it to firm ground.  For decades, conservatives have been keeping their heads down and doing the economic work that’s been channeled into filling Leftist coffers and funding Leftist policies.  Now that we’re finally raising our heads from our desks, we’re shattered by the damage strewn about, but don’t have the faintest idea how to regroup . . . no, not regroup, but group in the first place.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Trevor Loudon’s proposal to have conservatives come together immediately to present a united front to appeal to all conservative bases.  As you know, it appealed to me strongly.  But a lot of people whom I respect (yourselves included), immediately pointed out profound flaws with the idea.  Right off the bat, there were profound flaws with each of the people named (Ted Cruz’s Canadian birthplace; Rand Paul’s peculiar ideas about money and Iran, not to mention his father’s icky affiliations; Allen West’s problems while in the military, and so on).  People also disliked the un-democratic smell behind preparing an entire slate without the necessity of primaries, although primaries in California and in other “open primary” blue states are officially a joke.  Some people were worried that naming a full slate early would give the MSM a head-start on digging up dirt, destroying lives, and preparing campaigns.  And those are just some of the problems people had with Trevor’s out-of-the-box idea for getting the base excited before the GOP vacuums up the big money to promote another almost-certain-to-lose RINO.

The one thing that everyone agreed on, though, was that there needs to be some grand strategy to unite the conservative base in 2016, or else we may as well go home now, stock up on our survivalist supplies, and wait for Armageddon.

So here’s a challenge for you, given that my circuits are fried:  What grand strategy will unite the base?

Computer restored Open Thread

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556

My computer was giving me problems all this week, which slowed me down and, eventually, stopped me altogether.  The computer finally is back up and running now, thanks to an old friend who’s a very good tech guru.  Now, though, I have to run, since my Mom has a doctor’s appointment.  I’ll be back in a few hours and  I hope that, by then,  I have something interesting to say.  If not, well . . . I guess we all get our mental “down” days.

Watcher’s Council nominations for April 17, 2014

Watcher's Council logoGood stuff.  Very, very good stuff.  Dangerous times make for good writing, I guess.  Also, please check out the forum, which asks if ethnic or religious sensibilities should limit free speech?

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

IRS correspondence seems to reveal conspiracy to criminalize conservative speech

Obama-IrsThe IRS’s job is to collect the taxes that Congress demands the American people pay. Under Lois Lerner’s guidance, though, the IRS’s job, apparently, was to identify potential conservative targets for Department of Justice criminal investigations. Hmmm.

PJMedia currently has running two excellent posts on the subject. The first is J. Christian Adams’ “A new, more sinister IRS scandal.” The second is Bryan Preston’s “The terrifying implications of the IRS Abuse-DOJ connection.”

Preston opens his post with this compelling paragraph:

Thank God for Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. His investigation of what turned out to be the IRS abuse scandal may well have saved the Constitution and the nation.

I hope Preston is correct.

Adams closes his post by saying, “Just wait until the American people learn more about the modern American version of history’s speech regulators.”

Sadly, I think Adams is wrong. The ones who never pay attention will continue not to pay attention. As for the man-in-the-street Democrats, the ones who are unthinking, not activist, Leftists, I’m sorry to say that they won’t suddenly think, “Oh, my God! What have we become? This has to stop.”

Instead, when you try to convince knee-jerk, unthinking Democrats that their party is using the most powerful government agency in America to shut down political debate and imprison political dissent, you’ll get a shrug, along with mumbled remarks about “conservative wackos are paranoid,” and “these people were obviously breaking the law,” and “the IRS saved us from turning into a Christian Fundamentalist Nation, kind of like Iran.”

Government is the last place in which the war is fought.  The initial battles are for people’s hearts and minds, and the Left started fighting and winning those battles in the 1960s.  Now, as the old saying goes, “it’s all over but for the shouting.”

Barack Obama, in his own words, on Islam and Christianity

obama-churchBarack Obama self-identifies as a Christian.  He seems, though, to find Christianity troubling.  Meanwhile, although he denies being a Muslim, he obviously finds it an emotionally and aesthetically attractive belief system.  Why do I say this?  Because someone was good enough to assemble a list of his statements about both religions, and to put them side-by-side:

Obama on Islam:

1. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”

2. “The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer”

3. “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”

4. “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.”

5. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”

6. “Islam has always been part of America”

7. “we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities”

8. “These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.”

9. “America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

10. “I made it clear that America is not – and will never be – at war with Islam.”

11. “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.”

12. “So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed”

13. “In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.”

14. “Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

15. “Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality”

16. “The Holy Koran tells us, ‘O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’”

17. “I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month.”

18. “We’ve seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants – farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities, the Muslim innovators who helped build some of our highest skyscrapers and who helped unlock the secrets of our universe.”

19. “That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

20. “I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”

Obama on Christianity:

1. “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation”

2. “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”

3. “Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith?”

4. “Even those who claim the Bible’s inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages – the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ’s divinity – are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.”

5. “The American people intuitively understand this, which is why the majority of Catholics practice birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage nevertheless are opposed to a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.”

6. From Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope: “I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex—nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”

7. Obama’s response when asked what his definition of sin is: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

8. “If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn’t have to keep coming to church, would they.”

9. “This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.”

10. “I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.”

11. “I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.”

12. “I’ve said this before, and I know this raises questions in the minds of some evangelicals. I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know … I do not believe she went to hell.”

13. “Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will–they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.”

14. On his support for civil unions for gay couples: “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount.”

15. “You got into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

16. “In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology”

17. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

18. “We have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own”

19. “All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra— (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)”

20. “I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

The list doesn’t mean that Obama isn’t a troubled, doubting Christian, or that he’s a closet Muslim.  As Queen Elizabeth I said, it’s not up to us to make windows into men’s souls. But the list of those statements, all of which I remember him making in real-time, strongly indicate that, whatever his actual beliefs, Obama’s affinity (which is different from his faith) seems to hew towards Islam, rather than to the Judeo-Christianity that has for so long underpinned our nation.

Currently, you can find the list here and here.  I found it at American Thinker.

 

Gay marriage, taxes, and the law of unintended consequences

Gay-flowerLast year was a triumphant year for gay marriage in California.  That means that this year, for many newly wed gay couples, April 15 was the first time they filed their taxes as married couples.  I have it on very good authority that many of these newly nuptialed couples are extremely unhappy now that they’re dealing with the infamous marriage penalty.

Considering how politically powerful gay men have become, could gay marriage lead to lower taxes?

And while we’re talking about taxes, Bill Whittle offers a sensible tax policy, one that would give all citizens a stake in America, while ending the current policy of taxing the producers right out of existence:

Flat taxes, once I understood how they worked, were one of the stepping stones on my way to conservativism. Twenty years ago, a brilliant conservative managed to explain to me how an across the board 10% sales tax would work. When he first told me about it, I got ruffled, pointing out that this was regressive tax that would hurt poor people. He shook his head sadly at my ignorance and explained that the most that poor people would get taxed, if they spent every penny they had, would be 10%, which is a reasonable amount to pay to have a stake in this country. (This was 20 years ago, before 51% of Americans paid nothing at all.) Moreover, he said, the bulk of taxes would come from those who aren’t poor, because middle class and rich people buy more. Everyone buys staples, but it’s the classes above the poverty line who have always — as a practical matter — bought into the American dream.

A 10% tax wouldn’t be high enough to deter high income spending, especially if there were no other taxes, so middle and upper class Americans would have an incentive to invest in the economy through purchasing goods. In the meantime, a 10% sales tax might be high enough to encourage a poor person to save more, rather than to buy inessential products, helping the poor person to stay solvent.

Certainly, a flat sales tax (or any flat tax) would be cheaper to administer than our current tax system. If it unleashed a rising tide of prosperity, it would bring in more revenue. On the other hand, if it brought in less revenue, it would stop rampant government spending (this was also before debt ceiling wars).

Bottom line:  Anything more simple and more fair than what we have now is a better tax system.

Why Bundy’s legal position vis a vis the federal government probably doesn’t matter

Charles C.W. Cooke is almost certainly correct that Bundy doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on when it comes to his fight with the feds.  While its disgraceful that the feds own most of Nevada, the fact is that they do, and they get to right the ownership rules for that land.  Nevertheless, Cooke acknowledges why Bundy’s plight makes him a sympathetic figure and these posters (h/t Caped Crusader) pithily sum up what really has people outraged:

America

compare Bundy and Sharpton

When it comes to selling Obamacare, Democrats are certain that it’s not the steak, it’s the sizzle

juicy-steakThe old advertising adage holds that “It’s not the sizzle, it’s the steak.”  Rightly or wrongly, I’ve understood this to mean that, even if a brilliant advertising campaign gets a product into consumer’s homes, if the first purchasers end up not liking the product, you’re not going to get a second wave of purchasers.  Instead, you’ll get a second little swell, followed by a trickle, followed by nothing but a dead-in-the-water product.

Eugene Robinson, however, who has been one of Obamacare’s most stalwart cheerleaders, thinks sizzle is all one needs when it comes to evaluating Obamacare’s merits and popularity.  In a rah-rah column celebrating Obamacare’s triumph, Robinson boasts about how the numbers of uninsured have decreased by millions.  (For purposes of this post, we’ll ignore that when it comes to Obamacare most of the millions who bought Obamacare on the exchanges were the previously insured who were kicked off their beloved policies by . . . Obamacare.  We’ll also ignore the fact that people didn’t voluntarily step up to buy this sizzling new government product; they were forced to do so.  And lastly, we’ll also ignore that the largest number of new insureds are now covered under Medicaid, which isn’t real insurance.  Picayune details, right?):

new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, despite all the problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site launch, 12 million people who previously lacked insurance will obtain coverage this year. By 2017, the year Obama leaves office, the CBO predicts that an additional 14 million uninsured will have managed to get coverage .

And so it goes for another 14 boastful paragraphs:  The numbers don’t lie!  More people have insurance!  Republicans are mean-spirited idiots!  (Robinson is writing for the WaPo, so his language is more refined than that, but the point is the same.)  What I didn’t see anywhere in Robinson’s victory dance was a discussion about the steak behind the sizzle.

Yes, people have dug deep into their pockets to buy mandatory sizzle.  But by pretty significant numbers, these purchasers don’t seem thrilled with the product.  The previously insured, having been forced into the system as official subsidizers, have come face-to-face with the Obamacare steak behind the sizzle and learned that Obamacare is a maggot-ridden, rotten piece of gristly meat.  Their insurance premiums and deductibles have sky-rocketed and their doctors have waved them goodbye.  The really sick ones, the ones who used to survive thanks to a carefully-built, delicate infrastructure of special doctors and hospitals, have found themselves flung, communist-style, back into the general ward.

Nor is there any indication that America’s poverty-stricken sick people are benefitting from the middle-class subsidizers’ downgrade to Castro-style medical care.  I pointed out a few weeks ago that the word from the trenches is that the really poor have no intention of changing their ways.  They like that they pay nothing per month (as opposed to a low, subsidized fee), and they’d rather get the best doc at the ER instead of the worst doc at the regular clinic.  In other words, nobody wins, but the middle class loses.

Robinson seems quite convinced that the American people will be so happy that they have insurance that they won’t care that they don’t have the health insurance to go with it.  The Obama administration, having forced upon them the sizzle, can go home happy without providing the steak.

Is Robinson right?  Have our American expectations become so low that we’re happy merely to own a product, never mind that it doesn’t work as promised?  Are we so desperately afraid of being castigated as some sort of “ist” or “phobic” (racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic) that we will no longer protest when our representatives provide us with fraud and bad service?

Currently, the greatest threat to small government is the rising numbers of illegal immigrants who Democrats hope will create a permanent lock in the Democrat vote.  (And the RINOs go along because the Chamber of Commerce wants cheap labor.)  The current guesstimate seems to be that, if amnesty passes, Democrats will get about 8 million newly-minted, locked-in-Democrat formerly illegal alien voters.  This 8 million number works, though, only if other Americans continue to stay home.

Think about it:  As of 2012, America had around 313 million people, of whom about 126.5 million turned out in 2012, a presidential election year.  In 2008, best estimates were that there were about 227 million Americans who could have voted.  (I couldn’t find 2012 numbers on potential voters, but I assume they’re similar.)  In other words, around 100 million people stayed home in 2012.

Are all of these “stay at homes” Democrat voters?  Or are there tens of millions of latent Republican voters staying home?  (We know Evangelicals retreated to their homes on election days after the 80s ended.)

If the majority of non-voters like our country as it was (individual freedom, not government servitude), and wish that it could be that way again, are the events we’re facing sufficient to rouse them?  If that giant can be awakened, the 8 million “bought and paid for” illegal immigrant votes will be as nothing.

Or more cruelly, are the 100 million silent Americans silent because they truly don’t care?  Are they are so sedated with their  continuous pop culture diet (a la the proles in 1984), that nothing can rouse them.

When I heard Trevor Loudon speak, he correctly said that Republicans don’t win votes by trying to convince Independents to side with them.  Instead, they win votes by exciting their base, because an excited base becomes a parade, and others want to join in.  That’s why he suggested that whoever wins the Republican primaries, or — even better — whoever’s even thinking of entering the primaries, boast a full ticket, from president down to the last cabinet member, that offers something to everyone in the base.

I continue to think that’s a brilliant idea, although I’m not invested in the ticket he proposes.  It’s enough that we offer a package, not a lone man whom the drive-by media will savage.  I do wonder, though, whether an exciting package, coupled with a hunk of fetid, rotten, maggoty Obamasteak, will rouse the sleeping 100 million Americans who can’t usually be bothered to get to the polling booth.  And if those two things — a dynamic ticket and a horrifying “fundamental change to America” — are enough only to sway the malleable independents, rather than to reach the stay-at-homes, will the independents’ numbers be sufficient to beat back, not just the 8 million illegals, but the predictable votes from dead people and those with multiple personalities.

All of which gets me back to Robinson’s article:  Is his confidence that sizzle is enough to declare Obamacare a success the result of cognitive dissonance and denial, or does Robinson have a much more accurate reading of the American people than conservatives do?

 

These feet were made for dancing: Charlie and Jackie, still doing the “Shag” after 30 years

Clearly, I’m in a video mood today, as well as a dance mood.  It therefore seemed entirely appropriate when this video appeared on my Facebook feed.  Before you watch, you might want to know what you’re seeing:

The type of dance they are performing is called Shag. This phenomenon was found in the 1950s by Billy Jeffers and “Chicken” Hicks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Shag clubs have sprung up from Baltimore to Miami totaling in over 100 clubs. ShagAtlanta, the club Charlie and Jackie belong to, was established in 1989 with the merger of two metropolitan Atlanta shag clubs, the North Atlanta Beach Club and the Atlanta Beach Club. Each year thousands of shaggers get together for the Shag Festival to celebrate Shag.

Monday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWe always hear about countries or communities that are suffering from brain drain.  I’m not sure if brain drain can ever be defined down to an individual level but, if it can, I’ve got it.  Insomnia always leaves me with fewer brain cells the next day.  Still, there’s interesting stuff out there, and here I am to share it with you.

I’ve never been a fan of ostentatious wealth.  I’m happy shopping at Target and Costco, and I find embarrassing the lavish annual vacations we take.  Having said that, I find even more embarrassing this San Francisco-based guy who apologized for his ostentatious display of Google glasses, which was, he believes, the root cause for his being mugged and the glasses being destroyed before his eyes.

Thomas Lifson says it will be interesting to see this Progressive civil war play out, and posits that conservatives might be able to take advantage of it.  Certainly, it will be good if they neutralize each other.  My only comment is to ask why, in Progressive-land, it’s okay for a mugging victim to say that it was his fault — he was asking for it — by wearing ostentatious technology, but it’s not okay tell young women that it’s stupid to get sh*t-faced on alcohol, which is often a predicate to morning-after regrets that are then reclassified as rape?  

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Ron Christie points out that crying “race” is the last refuge of a failed Democrat party.  Failed, yes, but still mighty powerful, especially when its opposition is strong on ideas, but weak on organization.

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Yes, the economic sky is falling.  We’ll all be speaking Greek soon.

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More to follow so check back in a while….

The way “Saving Mr. Banks” ought to have gone

I didn’t like Saving Mr. Banks, which I thought could more accurately have been called “Walt Disney’s Revenge.”  It’s obvious that, by the early 1960s, P.L. Travers was a deeply disturbed woman.  Contemporaneous records (including the tapes that Travers insisted be made of her talks with the Disney people) reveal that Walt Disney showed great charm and kindness in dealing with her, so that reflects well on Walt.  However, a movie that has Emma Thompson, a talented mimic, portraying the damaged Travers wasn’t my cup of tea.  I think I would have liked this version better:

My annual Passover post, updated for 2014

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.  God, he says, is a serial killer, because he unilaterally escalated a situation to the point where thousands had to die.

Some people have tried to explain away this part of the Passover narrative by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. No one will get spiritually or intellectually excited if Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s a narrative without much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. Narrative tension, according to this explanation, demands an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind God’s approach to the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: there was surely consternation at Pharaoh’s court, which led Pharaoh to think about freeing the pesky Jewish slaves, but once life returned to normal, Pharaoh’s tyrannical instincts again kicked in.  As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about the risk to him from a populace starving and frightened, but that possible risk was immediately irrelevant as long as that same populace still proved willing to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his power over the land and his ability to maintain that power. It was only when the price became too high to Pharaoh personally — when Pharaoh’s laborers, and money men, and soldiers, and slaves, and courtiers, and perhaps even his own family members died — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, that his own survival required that he alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear of Hitler’s reprisal or because its members were caught in the grip of their own insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see Germany country overrun and her Aryan citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, when  it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, and when the guns were aimed directly at their own heads, did the German high command surrender.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate end to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.) The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly. The same holds true for ordinary Germans (among whom was my dear cousin from the goyishe side of my family), whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime.

The German and Japanese examples make manifest the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

I wrote the above words several years ago during Iran’s green revolution, when Iranian citizens took to the streets to rebel against their brutish, oppressive regime.  Aided in part by our own President Obama’s tight-lipped silence, the mullahs were unmoved by their own people’s suffering.  As long as the mullahs could retain power, their people’s suffering was irrelevant and, indeed, had to increased to reinforce the idea that the only return on rebellion is pain, not freedom.

Iran may be quiet now (although people are pushing at the regime more and more, not by suffering, but through joy, which is anathema to sharia’s overwrought puritanism), but we have so many other examples of tyrannical leaders who are willing to preside over a growing mountain of bodies as long as the leadership remains isolated from the physical and emotional consequences of its action.  Syria’s Assad doesn’t care that more than 100,000 of his people have died or that polio is killing a generation.  He still lives in his palace.  North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un will commit any atrocities against his own people provided that he can retain his power.  They are the modern-day Pharaohs.

Even here at home, one can argue in less apocalyptic tones that our president, who is one of the wealthiest men in America, doesn’t care that his actions have ensured the longest recession since the Carter years, the highest unemployment since the Carter years, the most unstable world in terms of national security since the Carter years or even the 1930s, the most serious divisiveness amongst the American people since the Civil War, etc.   Sheltered in the White House, listening to the adulation of the glitterati in Hollywood and the New York/D.C. media, he is unaffected by the plagues affecting ordinary Americans.  And as long as he is unaffected, he will harden his heart to the cries of his people begging for relief from perpetually failed economic policies, weak national leadership, porous borders, socialized medicine, militarized government agencies, etc.  If Obama seems as if he doesn’t care about the people’s suffering . . . it’s because he doesn’t.

When power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, small plagues are utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover. Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Hashem yinkom damo/Hashem yinkom dama (May Hashem avenge the blood of the three killed in Kansas City today) *UPDATED*

We’re fortunate in America that anti-Semitic violence is not the norm (although it is the most common anti-religious violence in America), but it still happens.  Evil doesn’t need a reason, but so often evil finds its justification in antisemitism.  Today, an elderly man, his 14-year-old grandson, and an unrelated woman died violently solely because they were Jewish.

I hope that they rest in peace, and I very much hope that there is some divine retribution, not just for the man who carried out those acts, but for all the people around the world who remain wedded to violent antisemitism.  You don’t have to like the Jews — just as I don’t have to like you — but you don’t get to kill the Jews just because you don’t like them, just as I do not get to kill you, whoever or whatever you are, just because I don’t like you.  In a righteous world, we’re allowed bad feelings, but not  bad acts.

UPDATE:  Irony seems like the wrong word for the fact that neither William Lewis Corporon, nor his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, was Jewish. The style of their deaths still makes them martyrs to antisemitism and the fact of their deaths still makes for a painful, incomprehensible tragedy for their family and friends.

The Leftist obsession with gender roles extends even to stain removal

Dirty laundryI know you’re desperately curious to get to the stain removal part of this post, but you’ll have to bear with me as I first work my way through the Leftist obsession with gender roles and the Leftist denial about biologically programmed gender roles before I finally get to the dirty laundry.

Although I’m trained as a lawyer, for the last few years, I’ve mostly been a stay-at-home Mom.  I worked part-time as a lawyer through 2008, but the recession caused my clients to go away and they haven’t come back.  Last year, I spent a few months blogging full-time, but that was very difficult because I’m married to a man, who regardless of whether I earn money, wants me to be entirely responsible for the traditional feminine role in the house.  In other words, he wants a June Cleaver.  That’s not quite accurate. What he really wants is a life partner who is both a Ward and a June. I tried to do that for several years (and again last year), I decided I didn’t want an early grave that badly. Fortunately, my husband is a very hard worker (which is why I don’t mind being June to his Ward), and we are able to live on his salary.

My husband is rather extreme in his sexual role stratification, insofar as he won’t do any work related to the house.  Throughout our neighborhood, though, even amongst the working families, it’s the women who do the laundry.  They’re also the ones who cook on a regular basis, although the man may cook periodically, cook for special occasions, or help clean up.  The neighborhood women also do the bulk of housecleaning, although the men are more likely to take out the garbage and take care of the garden and garage. Those women who can stop working and focus solely on home and children have done so (as I have).

Part of the reason for the men’s lesser contribution to the house in my neighborhood is that they tend to work longer hours.  Yes, ours is the classic neighborhood in which working women earn less per hour than the men, because they’ve made the conscious decision — invariably because of children — to work part-time, flex-time, or “merely” full-time (40 hours, compared to the men’s 60, 70, or 80 hour work weeks).

I’ve heard grumbling from both men and women in the neighborhood, all of whom occasionally feel as if they’ve gotten the short end of the deal. On the whole, though, everyone recognizes that their various accommodations, although they may not be personally satisfying, work best for the family unit.  More specifically, they work best for the children.  I do know of two house husband situations that have been extremely successful, but they’re the exception, not the rule. From what I see, the average family falls in the traditional roles if at all possible:  mom at home, dad at the office.  That’s just the way it is.

The reason for this long rumination is twofold.  First, I’m thinking about these things because of the ridiculous Claire Shipman-Jay Carney puff piece in Washingtonian magazine, which has been roundly, soundly, and appropriately targeted because of the Soviet propaganda wall art; the ludicrously Photoshopped books, clearly intended to make the Shipman-Carneys look intellectual; and a carb-loaded diet that would have heads exploding among Michelle Obama’s food police.

At Power Line, John Hinderaker points out one other thing that lies in the text, not the images:  the article’s main point is that Shipman and Carney have such a wonderful partnership because she made the decision to put her career on the slow burner, so that he could work 12 hour days.  Of course, the way this is written, it’s not about a beleaguered little lady staying home, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, because of male chauvinism.  The focus, instead, is on Shipman’s empowerment:

“Balancing Act” is written with the usual cloying feminist slant. The news hook, to the extent there is one, is a book that Claire Shipman has co-authored called The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know:

Their book posits that while confidence—rather than competence—plays a key role in female success, particularly in the workplace, many women lack this critical ingredient. …

Many women possess a deep-seated fear of being wrong or embarrassed, which prevents them from taking risks. Risk-taking is important, in part because it can lead to failure—and surviving failure, they say, is essential to building resilience and confidence.

“How often in life do we avoid doing something because we think we’ll fail?” the pair ask. “And how often might we actually have triumphed if we had just decided to give it a try?” They advocate “failing fast,” a tech buzzword that is the ideal paradigm for building female confidence. Take a small risk, fail, learn from it, and move on. Men are more comfortable taking risks, and tend to more easily shrug off failure. Women, on the other hand, stew, worry, ruminate, and second-guess themselves.

Men, of course, don’t mind being embarrassed at all. They don’t worry, they just plunge ahead, full of self-confidence. And failure? It doesn’t bother us a bit! We shrug it off! As a man, you don’t know how easy you have it until you read feminist tracts.

[snip]

And yet Carney’s own experience illustrates how silly the Democrats’ claims are. Shipman has worked part-time for the last five years to spend more time with her young children. Carney, meanwhile, leaves for the White House at 7:25 a.m. and tries to get home by 8:00 in the evening. As in most families, it is his wife who takes time out from her career to focus on children, and who devotes more time to her family: “Flexibility, she says, is what most working mothers really want.”

Even Obama’s closet associates put the lie to his blatant, hackneyed canard about women earning 77 cents on the dollar, as well as explaining the reasoning behind women’s slightly lower earning power:  given the choice, women want to be home caring for the children and men want that too.  It’s the triumph of biology over experience.

So that’s one article that got me thinking about gender roles in my home and my computer.  The other one was an NPR Fresh Air interview with a gal who has advice for getting stains out of things.  Her advice is very good.  If you’re in charge of keeping things clean in your house, I highly recommend it — but do be prepared to laugh as guest Jolie Kerr and host Terry Gross try desperately to assure any men listening that they’re not going to lose their man-card if they don’t immediately turn off the interview.

Before I get to their rhetorical contortions, let me assure you that Kerr isn’t writing like some coy 1920s “advice for the housewife” columnist.  That is, she’s not saying, “When you clean your husband’s clothes, you’re telling the world you love him.  You don’t want him to head off for work with ring around the collar and sweat stains under the arms.  Every woman needs to know these laundry tricks to take care of her man.”  Instead, Kerr just says “for X stain, do Y treatment.”  Gender-neutral, stain-killing advice.  Apparently, though, both Kerr and Gross were pretty damn sure they needed to reassure the male listeners in their audience — college educated Democrats who must have a sneaking suspicion that, notwithstanding the amount of sex the hook-up culture has given them, they’ve somehow sacrificed their core masculinity at the feminist altar:

GROSS: And I should say you address the column to men and women. You are not making the assumption that it is women who do the cleaning.

KERR: Absolutely I am not, no, no, no. I write for both men and women. It’s very important for me to that. It was actually one of the reasons that I moved my column away from its original home into a place where I could be writing for both a male and a female audience. I personally view cleaning as a human problem, not a gendered problem. I would not be interested in only writing for a female audience and to continue to reinforce the notion that cleaning is women’s work. I just don’t see it that way at all.

[snip]

GROSS: OK. Now in talking about these stains you mentioned underarm stains from sweat and deodorant, and we have two people on our show who wanted to know about that. One is a woman, Heidi Saman, and the other is a man, John Myers, and they’re especially interested in white T-shirts and white shirts. So what advice do you have for getting out sweat and deodorant underarm stains?

KERR: Sure thing. Well, the first thing I want to say is that I love that both a man and a woman asked that. It’s actually probably my number one question, both from men and women, total equality when it comes to pit stains.

(LAUGHTER)

KERR: Which is great. I think that that is a wonderful, wonderful thing when we can start showing that…

GROSS: Equality at last.

Yes!  ”Equality at last.”  Exactly what I was thinking . . . NOT.