The missing Obama resume

A month ago, I had published at American Thinker a long rumination about the fact that most of the Democratic candidates, whatever else they are, are not responsible adults. Of Obama, I said:

Barack Obama, of course, is a Senator squared. This is a man who has never taken on solo responsibility (although I’ll agree that he had a charmingly eclectic childhood). After a short career as a junior associate at a law firm (a position singularly devoid of primary responsibility), he went on to become a lecturer (an important job, but not a particularly brave or patriarchal one), then an Illinois State Senator and for the past two and half years, he’s been a United States Senator. This is a Peter Pan career, one in which Obama has managed to garner a lot of face time without ever actually assuming responsibility for anything or anybody.

Perhaps others are also starting to figure out that Obama has absolutely no experience, but is merely a man onto whom liberals project their wishes. Thus, John Dickerson, writing at Slate, has an article entitled “Obama’s Achilles Heel,” with the subtitle “What’s he ever done?” As part of a longer article discussion about the relative strengths of Hillary and Obama, Dickerson has this to say about Obama:

What Obama can’t grow on the campaign trail is a different life experience. And Hillary Clinton and her campaign are going to be relentless in raising the experience issue. To fix this problem the Obama team is insisting that Obama has a different kind of what they call “real” experience. They’re running television commercials highlighting his years as a community organizer and state senator. “A lot of people think that Barack Obama was born at the DNC convention in 2004,” says his communications director Robert Gibbs. (That’s probably because the campaign uses the clip so often to promote him.) The ads start with chapter headings for each of the stages of his career and plenty of black-and-white photos to suggest he has had an epic life. On the stump and in debates, Obama is also stressing his past. When he spoke about his urban agenda, he pointed out that poverty was “the cause that led me to a life of public service almost 25 years ago.”

***

By claiming a special judgment in foreign policy, Obama exposes himself to uncomfortable follow-ups. He made dramatic claims that Clinton’s conditional views on negotiating with rogue nations meant her approach was merely “Bush-Cheney light,” but Obama had expressed a nearly identical view just before the big spat. He says he wouldn’t be afraid to tell leaders like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hard truths face to face. On what past experience will he draw for these high-wire negotiations? What high pressures has he endured to prepare him for the appealing, but risky, diplomacy he promises? Obama supporters are fond of comparing him to John F. Kennedy, but they have forgotten that Kennedy’s first meeting with Khruschev didn’t go so well and his first foreign-policy adventure, the Bay of Pigs, was a disaster because of the new president’s inexperience and naiveté.

UPDATE:  Pay attention to the last words in the quotation above:  “his first foreign-policy adventure . . . was a disaster because of the new president’s inexperience and naiveté.”  With those words fixed firmly in your mind, go over to this post at the Captain’s Quarters, and read carefully as the Captain slices and dices Obama’s most recent foreign policy proposal, this one about Pakistan.  In one second, Obama has gone from being a stupid choice to being a dangerous choice for President.

Worshipping killers

The Left (both at home and abroad) likes to revile the infamous American President “Chimpy-BusHitler,” but they seem to be taking a pass on some people that even the Left would have to concede have a bit more blood on their hands. Mike Adams and the American Thinker take on the results of that, shall we say, imbalance in beliefs.

Mike Adams’ target is the Che Guevara worship that infects the self-styled “intelligentsia,” who like to swan around in Che shirts, purses and (my personal favorite), darling little clothes for their babies. Che, after all, say the intellectuals, was a “sincere, “Christ-like” “martyr.” Adams’ suggestion is that his University (UNC-Wilmington) acknowledge all this Che worship and build a Che memorial on campus. He further suggests that the University use the Jefferson Memorial as its guide, and that it cover the walls with Che’s own words:

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” Che Guevara.

“If the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City.” Che Guevara.

“We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims… We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm.” Che Guevara.

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial bowl.” Che Guevara.

“Don’t shoot! I’m Che, I’m worth more to you alive than dead.” Che Guevara.

“(T)o execute a man we don’t need proof of his guilt. We only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him. It’s that simple.” Che Guevara.

Wasn’t it Jack Nicholson who blasted Tom Cruise with the words “You can’t handle the truth“? I wonder what the Che faithful will do when confronted with their hero’s blood-soaked feet of clay.

In Britain, they’ve done away with that problem altogether, according to a letter republished at the American Thinker, by simply coming up with an alternative history when it comes to teaching about Hitler:

So waiting for the Dolphin swim at Discovery Cove in Orlando, my daughter Nikki and I were seated with a Brit family–mom, daughter and son. After small talk about the great value of the pound vs the dollar etc, I mentioned that Churchill was one of my heroes. The son, no more than 16 countered that he really liked Hitler, and his sister Gandhi. I was stunned and sickened.

According to him, Hitler was a great leader and did great things for the German people. He brought them out of depression. His quest for land was only to provide “living space” for the German people. The reason for the London bombings was because Britain “carpet bombed” German cities. Hitler had to attack France, for they were a treat to his effort to gain land for living space. The atrocities of the Holocaust were attributed to the fact that he was “mad”, so it wasn’t his fault. In general, his intentions were noble.

In speaking privately with his mother after my discussion, she stated that this is the new curriculum in the British schools to combat “prejudice” against Germans. They teach the children not to “judge” Hitler.

Of course, this won’t be a problem much longer in England. The British have decided to do away with Hitler altogether, along with such iconic British figures as Queen Elizabeth I and Winston Churchill. Makes you wonder how much longer America’s Europe loving intellectuals can continue to pretend that Europeans out pace us educationally.

Hiring woes

When my kids were at their old preschool, the school hired a very pleasant teaching assistant. At the end of a year, she suddenly showed up at school in a headscarf. The school was in a quandary. A lot of the parents, especially the mothers of the little girls, were very unhappy to see a young women come to school wrapped up like this, especially as her clothes got more voluminous and shapeless with time (although she never went to the full burqa). The school eventually did nothing. The young woman did her job up to all reasonable standards, and the school could only get in trouble for firing someone for religious expression.

It begins to appear that this was not an anomalous occurrence. Gerry Charlotte Phelps writes that some employers in Canada may be getting the feeling that they’re being set up. Young Muslim women apply for jobs in full Western mode. They continue in full Western mode up until the probation period passes and then, when they can no longer be fired without cause, “go sharia”:

One of my best-friends works in a govt-subsidized daycare centre in northern Montreal. Last year they hired a new worker originally from Lebanon. She was dressed in a western manner albeit conservatively, her head was bare, and she aced the interview very well. Their new employees have a probation period for three months. She was very good with the kids, very friendly with the co-workers, etc. So after three months, she was hired with full-benefits.
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All of the sudden, everything changed. She started to wear a abaya (not the veil, she was wearing the full black coat like in Saudi Arabia and Iran) all the time. She stopped chatting with the co-workers like she used to, etc. Once she threw a major public tantrum because at a parents and kids potluck there were not enough hallal sausages or some reason like that.
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So my friend talked to her supervisor. She said that the daycare centre has got to be more careful because it seems like a lot of Muslim women are getting hired because they seem well integrated into our society but then they do a switcheroo. Once they have the job for sure their real selves come out.

Read the rest here.

To my mind, if these women want to go veiled to work, that’s their decision. What’s objectionable is the fact that, rather than taking the potential downside risk of their religious conviction (more limited workplace choices), they engage in this duplicitous behavior.

It’s also interesting that these women can engage in this behavior. If full Muslim wear is so important, how are they avoiding that obligation for the hiring and probationary period? From my experience, absent extraordinary circumstances no Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, no matter the reason, would appear with her head bared, nor would a religious chew dine in style on shrimp, because doing so violates a fundamental precept of their religious belief. (The rabbis, in their great wisdom, have held that it is okay to violate such rules in life and death situations, which enabled many Jews to survive the death camps despite the absence of kosher food.)

This on again/off again clothing policy that some Muslim women are adopting makes it seem as if the abaya is much more of a political statement, either to be removed when expedient or donned to make a point, than a sign of true religious conviction.

“He’s not my President.”

There’s been a lot of talk in today’s blogosphere about the way in the Left has responded to Chief Justice Roberts’ seizure, with the perfect example showing up at Wonkette’s website (h/t Independent Women’s Form):

Chief Justice John Roberts has died in his summer home in Maine. No, not really, but we know you have your fingers crossed. [Talking Points Memo]

Many who read the above were surprised by the political venom that wishes for a fellow American’s death. I’m not. I’m not surprised for two reasons: (1) my own personal experiences growing up on the Left and (2) bumper sticker insights into the liberal mind.

First, my own story. I was a student at Berkeley in March 1981, when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan. The mood on the campus was jubilant once word got out. I remember sharing the feeling. It was simply marvelous that this horrible President, this simple-minded man who actually believed that those nice, cosmopolitan Communists were actually a bad thing, might have been struck down. No waiting for and worrying about the outcome of the next election, which wouldn’t take place for another 3 1/2 years. Instead, one wacky guy (no troubling Democratic party affiliations), and all our problems were solved. After all, no one was foolish enough to believe that George H. W. Bush would go on to take the White House on his own. He was a pale simulacrum of Reagan, and he was sure to go the way of Gerald Ford when the 1984 election rolled around. It took a lecture from my parents when I talked to them that evening to make me suddenly realize that I was gleefully hoping that another human being would die. I was unimpressed, though, by their argument that I should be shocked that the American President would die. “He’s not my President,” I said.

And now for those bumper stickers. It may depend on where you live, but I daily see cars go by with bumper stickers that say “He’s not my President.” Now that I’m 26 years older and wiser, I’m able to recognize how profoundly anti-Democratic, not to mention how ignorant, that sentiment is. Of course he’s your President. Ours is a “winner take all” system, and has been since Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution took effect. We don’t create wobbly little coalitions, or try to share out power between the top parties. Indeed, although the Founders originally were okay with the fact that the President and Vice President might come from different political parties, they quickly realized that this was a recipe for political instability (not to mention, for anyone thinking about it, the fact that it created an incentive to assassinate a President). If you’re an American, your President, for at least four years, is the person who gets the majority of votes in the Electoral College. End of story.

The offset to the “winner take all” approach, which does vest a great of power in a single party, is the fact that political parties get to fight it out every four years, with the incumbent President and Vice President attempting to show their worthiness to continue in office, while the opposing party/parties get a chance to strut their stuff, while simultaneously denigrating the current Administration’s effectiveness. It is an intelligent approach, that provides both stability and flexibility, and that keeps the voters aware of and engaged in the political process.

That last is an important point. This system is about the voters. Every four years, the voters get to give the thumbs up or thumbs down to any given person or political party, and the majority of voters get four years of what they wanted. If they made a good choice, great. If they didn’t, just wait four years.

But if you’re a liberal, this is a lousy system. In your mind, most of the voters are ignorant yahoos from the flyover states who regularly show their lack of intelligence by voting for such horrible people as Ronald Reagan or George Bush. Even though they can’t, and shouldn’t be, trusted with the vote, they still have it, and this terrible majority system means that the wiser people among them keep getting stuck with their ill-informed choices. What’s worse is that this same winner take all systems means you also get stuck with the fallout of those same dreadful choices, such as Supreme Court Justices who reflect the President’s viewpoints and, by extension, the viewpoints of those same ignoramuses stupid enough to vote for the President.

Looked at this way, even if you don’t believe in God, there’s an element of divine providence when a wacko tries to assassinate one of these evil Presidents or a seizure fells a Supreme Court justice. These outside influences neatly leapfrog over an unfair system that gives equal weight to the vote of an ignoramus, versus your sophisticated and humane vote, and that then leaves you stuck with the ridiculous results — results that are often very humiliating when you talk to your European friends.

Going back to my original premise, I’m therefore entirely unsurprised by the Wonkette’s tactless, but completely honest, wish for Justice Robert’s death. Democracy doesn’t work for people who genuinely believe themselves intellectually superior to the vast majority of American voters. And if Democracy has failed, all you can believe in, no matter how secular you are, is a divine providence that does away with such silly things as regular elections.

UPDATE: Here’s a perfect example of what happens when the Blues underestimate those “inferior” Reds.

UPDATE II: We all know that judicial activism is another manifestation of an anti-Democratic impulse. Thomas Lifson puts that little vice under the magnifying glass in connection with the NYT’s unseemly haste to dramatize Roberts’ affliction in what seems to be a crude attempt to lay the groundwork for his removal for the bench.

On the subject of judicial activism, if you’re wondering just how bad it can get, and what profound damage it can do to a democratic society, don’t forget to read Melanie Phillips’ wonderful and depressing Londonistan. Although it’s been out for a year, I didn’t read it immediately because our liberal library didn’t get it immediately. (Hmm. Wonder why?) It’s been in stock for about six months now and I first got it six months ago — and didn’t read it then because it was sure to be like watching a slo-mo deadly car wreck. I’m finally reading it now, and it is just as horrible as I feared, describing a Britain, unrecognizable from that I once knew, that’s headed down a suicidal path, perhaps irreparably, set for it by an activist judiciary.

Last of the random comments

I’m back and have a few more (and last) random comments.

I love my computer.  I realized when I was struggling with a rinky-dink tablet computer that part of why I’m able to blog as I do is that I’ve got things set up so perfectly for my needs and abilities.  This is easy; that wasn’t.

No one gives a welcome like a dog.  She squealed all the way home from the very nice kennel and now won’t let me out of her sight.  I think she missed us.

There are two types of control freaks.  Those who believe in controlling themselves, and those who believe in controlling others.  The former often make themselves miserable, the latter often make everyone else miserable.

The world doesn’t stop when you go away.  It just seems to because you’re not looking.  A lot of people take this to mean that, as long as they don’t look at issues and think about them, nothing important is taking place.  It is taking place, but we all have a responsibility to pay attention and to care.

I have some really great friends in the blogging community.  I wasn’t going to stop blogging even if all of you said that what we bloggers, blog readers and commenters, do is meaningless — I seem to be drawn rather compulsively to the whole blogging thing.  Nevertheless, your intelligent, kind, interesting comments were hugely helpful, since they stoked my engines beyond mere personal compulsion.  I especially enjoyed the idea of a huge dinner table, where people of like interests (or even unlike interests) get to come together, and share ideas and viewpoints.  For those of us who live in Blue enclaves, this type of interaction is especially important — and, I suspect, for the uncounted number of Reds isolated amongst the Blues, blogging really does make a difference, because it keeps the intellectual excitement alive.

I’m still catching up — 50 million loads of laundry, shopping, household organization, and all the other stuff that comes with plopping a family back into day-to-day life after a prolonged sojourn.  Still, part of that catching up includes reading the news and reading the blogs, so you can expect to hear substantive stuff from me soon.

And the last random thought, but the most important, is a big THANK YOU to Don Quixote for taking the time to post some wonderful things.  I’m always impressed by how thoughtful he is, and by the way in which his posts stimulate some of the most interesting dinner table conversations this blog sees.

Preaching to the choir?

I’m packing up stuff now, ready for a full day’s travel (home) tomorrow, so this  will be my last post for 24-32 hours.  I have a question for you, though.  Do bloggers like me matter?

I think that the big bloggers, whether Right (Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs, Power Line, American Thinker, etc.) or Left (Daily Kos, et al.) matter a great deal and have the heft to affect the political process.  I’m wondering, though, about politically oriented  blogs like mine, and like many of those in my blogroll.  We’re blogs that probably get between 200 and 2000 hits per days, depending just how popular we are, but we’re definitely not  in the big league.  Instead, we’re often preaching to a core group of the choir, which is a delightful feeling, but I wonder if it matters when the rubber hits the road.

In other words, do you think that all of these little political forums affect the political process?  I’d very much like your opinion on this.

Pocketbook environmentalism

I’ve mentioned before that the home page on Mr. Bookworm’s browser is the New York Times, which very much affects his outlook on things.  I’ve therefore been unsurprised that, in the past year or so, my husband has been mouthing a lot of “green”  stuff.  “Turn  off the lights, to help stop global warming.”  “We don’t need the heater on; it’s creating global warming.”  “I want a new energy efficient car to help stop global warming.”  The kids, who already get the sermon at school  (usually in the form of endless pieces of paper reminding us in a sentence or two per page to recycle), get a repeat from  Mr. Bookworm at home.

What did surprise me, though, was Mr. Bookworm’s behavior on this vacation.  We’re staying at a very nice hotel,  which is generous with the towels — and Mr. Bookworm more  than takes advantage of that generosity.  He goes through at least five per day.  He also showers for a half hour at a time and leaves all the lights on in the room.  When I task him with this, not on green grounds, but simply because I hate waste, he says it’s part of what he’s paying the hotel for.  In another  words, he’s not green at all.  He  just mouths it to justify what some  might call cheap (and I call “waste not, want  not”).

I suspect my husband’s skin deep, pocket book  environmentalism is not  unique.  Indeed, nothing shows that more clearly than the Gore-ish, and foolish, reliance on carbon offset credits, which are nothing  more than a way to be profligate with energy sources, while at the same time denying  any responsibility.

How to instill a sense of personal responsibility

I’m very glad Bookworm is back and will leave the blogging to her, but I did want to throw out one more topic that came up in a prior comment stream.  The question was what our society can/should do to instill a sense of personal responsibility.  Mike Devx was kind enough to start things off with the following:

1. Throw out government no-smoking laws over businesses. If you want to avoid smoking, don’t frequent establishments where it is allowed. Restaurants, apartment complexes, etc, should be free to establish their own rules.

2. Throw out criminal penalties for businesses that allow their patrons to get drunk. If they get drunk, it’s their problem.

3. Set driving speed limits based solely on safety, for each particular road.

To those suggestions I would add turning our schools into places of merit.  No more social promotions.  To graduate from high school, students would have to master 12ths grade work and demonstrate on a test that they have done so.  In fact, I’d add tests to graduate from grade school and junior high.  At home, allowances should be earned, not just given.  All children should be given age-appropriate tasks around the house that are their sole responsibility.

What other suggestions do the Bookwormroom readers have?

And yet more random thoughts

I’m finding it hard, this vacation, to do any sustained blogging. And to those of you wondering, I like blogging sufficiently that it’s a pleasure, not a chore I willingly leave behind when I turn off my familiar office computer. So, here come a few other random observations, which are easier to pack into a single post than to spin out into individual posts.

First, Hal G.P. Colebatch, writing at The American Spectator, thinks Brits have finally had enough of the multi-culti game their government has been playing for the last 25 years, and are starting to holler for a new Britishness:

Islamicists may be about to find out, as others have before, that Britain, given sufficient provocation, is not as soft and decadent a society as it sometimes looks.

Although the Tories under David Cameron are still apparently paralyzed with fear over the possibility that they might be called nasty if they show any awareness of a clash of civilizations, it seems that the recent failed car-bomb attacks at London and Glasgow have marked a paradigm shift in British attitudes. Perhaps the fact that those involved were doctors and other professionals was the tipping-point, being taken by many as showing in unmistakable terms what the clash of civilizations is all about. As far as the Internet is any guide to popular opinion — and it is — the mood now is of that sort of rage that doesn’t go away.

John Smeaton, the Glasgow airport baggage-handler who tackled the terrorists, and who when interviewed issued the memorable warning, “Coom ta Glasgie an’ we’ll set aboot ye!” is a popular hero throughout Britain, quite transcending the English-Scottish divide that has been coming to look menacing and ominous lately.

The endlessly promoted slogan of “celebrating diversity” (a few years ago the head one regional police force claimed the enforcement of this was part of police duties) is looking very sick. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George, Lord Carey, has recently publicly urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to control immigration. Carey, who as Archbishop was notably gentle and conciliatory, said pretty forthrightly that he hoped the new Prime Minister “will not forget the importance of Christian identity at the heart of being a part of the United Kingdom.” So it’s not the influx of Catholic Polish workers that he is referring to. A few years ago, probably even a few months ago, any public figure, Archbishop or not, who made such a statement would have declared a pariah and hounded out of public life. Such was the fate of Enoch Powell once upon a time. Today the main criticism of Carey’s statement is: “Why didn’t he say it sooner?”

I hope Mr. Colebatch’s optimism is well-placed.

The Democratic Senate’s attack on AG Gonzales, which has now morphed into a full  scale attack on the White House  may well be part of the reason Americans  are so disgusted by congress.  You can hear the ordinary man in the street thinking, “Yo, Dudes, there’s a war going on, a market wobbling, the usual crisis in the Middle East, etc., etc., and you’re expending all your visible energy playing gotcha political games.”

I  thought of this very strongly when I read two  opinion pieces today about the recent criminal  contempt  charges the Senate brought against  Meirs and what’s his name.  The  first is in  the Times, which spews forth an utterly fact-less “it’s not  fair”  diatribe, demanding White House blood.  The second  is Kimberly Strassel’s WSJ opinion piece carefully analyzing the separation of powers, talking about the options available to the Senate, and discussing  the politicization of the option the Senate chose.  Pretend  you’re a visitor from Mars, without any knowledge of  any of this, and without any biases, and see which you find to be the more intellectually compelling argument– and decide which branch is veering more  wildly from its Constitutional limitations.

And that’s enough randomness for now.

The politics of movie reviews

I’ve been reading the New York Times’ movie reviews for decades now. I don’t know if they were always so politicized and laden with PC instruction, and I just didn’t notice, or if they’ve gotten more and more liberally pedantic with the passage of time. I do know, though, that today’s set of reviews was as much about the reviewers’ political beliefs as it was about the movies themselves.

Take the review for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a silly sounding Adam Sandler movie that has as its premise the fact that two heterosexual fire fighters marry to ensure a stable home for one man’s children. The review, rather than really being about the movie, is about how the movie is wrong about PC issues, despite the GLAAD seal of approval (and I did you not about the latter):

Fear of a gay planet fuels plenty of American movies; it’s as de rigueur in comedy as in macho action. But what’s mildly different about “Chuck & Larry” is how sincerely it tries to have its rainbow cake and eat it too. In structural terms, the movie resembles a game of Mother May I, in that for every tiny step it takes forward in the name of enlightenment (gay people can be as boring as heterosexuals), it takes three giant steps back, often by piling on more jokes about gay sex (some involving a priceless Ving Rhames). Into this mix add the stunningly unfunny Rob Schneider, who pops up brandishing buckteeth, glasses and an odious accent in apparent homage to Mickey Rooney’s painful, misguided turn as the Japanese neighbor in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” has been deemed safe for conscientious viewing by a representative of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media watchdog group. Given the movie’s contempt for women, who mainly just smile, sigh and wiggle their backdoors at the camera, it’s too bad that some lesbian (and Asian) Glaad members didn’t toss in their two cents about the movie. If Mr. Sandler dares speak in favor of gay love in “Chuck & Larry” — at least when it’s legally sanctioned, tucked behind closed doors and not remotely feminine — it’s only because homosexuality represents one type of love among men. Here, boys can be boys, together in bed and not, but heaven forbid that any of them look or behave like women.

Frankly, I think the movie seems dreadful, but I’m not a teenager. My sense, though, is that the reviewer is offended, not by the movie itself, but by the movie might actually not be as fond of gays as its premise implies. That’s a valid position, but it’s not the stuff of movie reviews.

But that’s just an “N” of one. How about the review for No Reservations, which is praised, not for its qualities as a movie or the virtues of its acting, but for striking the politically correct tone about working mothers:

What’s unexpected and gratifying, though, is the film’s enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie’s publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it’s the story’s driving force.

***

Modern Hollywood movies often genuflect toward feminism while implying that a woman isn’t truly a woman until she has gratefully surrendered to motherhood. While watching “No Reservations” you keep waiting for the other high-heeled shoe to drop, but it never really does. The director, Scott Hicks (“Shine”), and the screenwriter, Carol Fuchs, respect Kate’s ambition, skill and drive. Throughout, they imply that Kate’s biggest hurdle isn’t a lack of aptitude for motherhood but her credulous acceptance of society’s one-size-fits-all definition of good parents.

***

It isn’t easy for Kate to process her sister’s death — she returns to work too quickly, and won’t take time off until her boss (Patricia Clarkson) orders it — and the challenge of mothering Zoe is even more daunting. Yet the film dares to present Kate’s stumblebum early efforts — subcontracting child care to a chain-smoking goth babysitter, then to a flirty single-dad neighbor (a charming and woefully underused Brian F. O’Byrne) — as proof not that she needs to quit her job, but that she’s fallen for the false dichotomy of work versus parenting.

I haven’t seen this movie, but I have seen Mostly Martha, the German movie that it copies. Maybe I read it wrong, but the German movie was about a horribly uptight woman who was humanized by having a child — which is quite a traditional message. I wonder if No Reservations has actually changed that message, or if this reviewer is just seeing things through the PC lens.

By the way, I don’t recall any movie advocating that a single Mom should just quit her job. However, anything with even a tidge of reality says that a woman (or man) suddenly responsible for a child must make changes and, possibly, sacrifices, for that child’s well-being. Only people in thrall to the ugliest feminism would say a helpless child has to be completely subordinate to a single woman’s desires.

There would be more, but I’ve gotta run….

UPDATE: I know that, sooner or later, someone is going to point out the obvious, which is that such sites as National Review Online or American Spectator also make political points in their reviews. That’s true. But the overt purpose of those reviews is to tell how they fit into the conservative world view. “If you are offended by movies encouraging out-of-wedlock babies, you won’t like this one” kind of stuff. Just as movie sites warn parents off of movies inappropriate for kids, these sites serve the function of warning conservatives off of movies that will make them heave.

The Times, however, holds itself out as an objective reviewer of movie quality, into which it then sneaks lectures telling its readers “If you are an evil person (i.e., not liberal), you’ll think these jokes are funny” or “all decent movie goers will recognize the political wisdom of this movie.” As always, for me, it’s not the agenda, it’s the hidden agenda.

UPDATE II: Just today, Jonah Goldberg, writing about the Simpsons, has something to say about politicizing reviews:

But, as I’ve often tried to point out, scrutinizing everything on a political calculus is often pointless and, worse, it sucks the marrow of joy out of the bone of life (Hmmmm bone-sucked joy-marrow). The Simpsons is funny because it’s funny. The politics of the show are a very small part of the equation, because politics are — and should be — a very small part of life, in Springfield and everywhere else.

UPDATE III:  I read movie reviews, but seldom go to movies.  I don’t read book reviews; I just read lots of books.  It turns out that, if I’d been reading the latter reviews and not just the former, I would have discovered that this same bias may well permeate the book review industry too.  Why am I not surprised?  I recall a year or so ago someone leaving a comment here saying that all books published by Regnery were bad, across the board.  There’s an  open mind.

The renaissance of anti-Semitism

I missed it a year ago, but Mark Steyn has republished a year old article he wrote about the renaissance of anti-Semitism:

But all the hoo-ha about Holocaust denial (and granted, from President Ahmadinejad to Mel Gibson’s dad, there’s a lot of it about) has obscured the fact that the world has re-embraced, with little objection, an older form of anti-Semitism. Israel is, in effect, subject to a geopolitical version of the same conditions endured by Lazarus the Jew in Anthony Hope’s Strelsau.

The Zionist Entity is for the moment permitted to remain in business but, like Aaron Lazarus, it’s not entitled to the enforceable property rights of every other nation state. No other country – not Canada, not Slovenia, not Thailand – would be expected to forego the traditional rights of nations subjected to kidnappings of its citizens, random rocket attacks into residential areas, and other infringements of its sovereignty. This isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong: there are regional flare-ups all over the map and, regardless of the rights and wrongs, for the most part the world just sits back and lets them get on with it. There are big population displacements – as there were, contemporaneous to the founding of Israel, in Europe and the Indian sub-continent – but one side wins and the other makes do with what it can get and the dust settles.

The energy expended by the world in denying this particular regional crisis the traditional settlement is unique and perverse, except insofar as by ensuring that the “Palestinian question” is never resolved one is also ensuring that Israel’s sovereignty is also never really settled: it, too, is conditional – and, to judge from recent columns in The Washington Post and The Times of London, it’s increasingly seen that way in influential circles – the Jew is tolerated as a current leaseholder but, as in Anthony Hope’s Ruritania, he can never truly own the land. Once again the Jews are rootless transients, though, in one of history’s blacker jests, they’re now bemoaned in the salons of London and Paris as an outrageous imposition of an alien European population on the Middle East.

About Harry Potter

I wouldn’t normally be in a bookstore at midnight, even for Harry Potter, but I was boarding a plane early Saturday morning and worried that I wouldn’t have the book on vacation. It was kind of fun at the store — lots of positive energy — but I was tired and I knew I’d have to get up early. In any event, I got the last book, only to discover it at the airport terminal next morning. C’est la vie!

I finished the book by Saturday evening. It’s both very good and somewhat mediocre. The last first: the writing is sometimes clunky and labored. You can feel Rowling’s fatigue as she ploughs her way through the last volume of her magnum opus. “Must get plot point out. Must move story forward.” Some chapters drag.

Having said that, though, I forgive her. As Meghan Cox Gurdon says in her excellent WSJ review, Rowling pulls it off, tying together every loose end in a most satisfactory way:

The answer (with a friendly, we’ll-talk-about-it-later nod to the critics who doubt the literary merits of the series) is that Ms. Rowling does indeed pull it off, and beautifully. Hints and clues and partly developed plot lines from the preceding books come together in “Deathly Hallows” so successfully that it is clear, as fans hoped, that Ms. Rowling always knew where Harry’s story would end. She has said that the idea of the Harry Potter epic simply fell into her head one day; “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” confirms how amazingly complete her vision was.

Ms. Gurdon also points out that the Harry Potter books, in keeping with the Narnia and Ring books that clearly inspired them, are Christian in their message:

It has been widely observed that J.K. Rowling owes a creative debt to Christian fantasists J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (apart from their fondness for initials). It’s odd now to remember that, at the same time, some parents have objected to the magic depicted in the Harry Potter books as a glorification of satanic practices. For “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” confirms something else apart from the well-thought-out-ness of Ms. Rowling’s moral universe: It is subtly but unmistakably Christian.

The principal Hogwarts holidays have always been Christmas and Easter, but it took five books before Ms. Rowling really began tipping her hand. In Book Six, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” she addressed concepts of free will, the power of love, and the sanctity of the soul. But in the final volume she gently lays it all out. The preciousness of each human life; bodily resurrection after death; mercy, forgiveness and redemption; sacrificial love overcoming the powers of evil–strip away the elves, goblins, broomsticks and magic wands and these are the concepts that underpin the marvelously intricate world of Harry Potter.

There are clues throughout. At one point, Harry is led to a weapon that will enable him to destroy the Horcruxes when he finds them: “The ice reflected his distorted shadow and the beam of wandlight, but deep below the thick, misty gray carapace, something else glinted. A great silver cross . . .”

Two unattributed New Testament quotations recur in the story after Harry sees each on a tombstone in the village where he was born and his mother and father died. He discovers on the Dumbledore family tomb “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” from Matthew. And on the grave of his own parents, he finds this, from I Corinthians: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” On seeing it, Harry feels momentary horror: Does it imply a link between his parents and Voldemort’s followers? Hermione gently sets him straight: “It doesn’t mean defeating death in the way the Death Eaters mean it, Harry. It means . . . you know . . . living beyond death. Living after death.”

There’s even more Christian  imagery, but I suggest you read the book yourself to  find out  what it is.  I’ll go back to my old point that these conservative Judeo-Christian themes still resonate in our Western culture and trump so much of the pap that’s out there.