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.

Too nice to be effective?

I met a retired Air Force vet today, and he was just the nicest guy.  Kind, thoughtful, enthusiastic.  In that, he resembled all of the other career military people I’ve met over the years, whether currently serving or retired.  I’ll admit  that my sample is small, since I don’t move in military circles, but it’s still a 100% hit rate for the 20 – 30 I have met:   nice people.

In many countries — mostly military dictatorships — the military is to be feared, not  just by the enemy, but by the citizens at home.  They are lethal weapons at home and abroad.

The question that floated into my mind was whether the fact that our military demands decency, and that really nice people  seem  to serve, impairs our fighting strength.  Let me phrase this another way:  Are our guys and gals too nice to be truly effective?

This is not a new thought for me.  I  remember during the First Gulf War watching the news with my parents, and hearing U.S. soldiers saying that they didn’t hate the Iraqis.  My Dad, who had seen fighting all  over the  Mediterranean during WWII was stunned:  you  have to hate to fight, he said.

Your thoughts?

What is the effect of disbelief on war?

Thank you as always for your insightful and thoughtful comments.  I always love throwing out topics and seeing the wonderful places you take them. 

Today, I’d like to ask another question that relates to faith.  One thing that cannot be denied about the Islamists is that they have a deep faith.  It is hardly surprising that young men who truly believe they have 70 virgins waiting for them in heaven can’t wait to blow themselves up and take as many innocents with them as possible.  I suspect, though, that a person who does not believe in the afterlife, who believe that life is a one-shot deal, will be a lot less ready to sacrifice that life for any cause.

This difference might also account for some of the strangeness of the liberal viewpoint.  By and large, liberals do not have an abiding faith in God and an afterlife and they simply do not understand (and are a bit suspicious of) those who have a deep faith, be they Chriatian, Jewish or Islamic.   They can’t imagine sacrificing their lives for anything, and they act as if they can’t imagine anyone else doing so either.  How can they possibly have anything intelligent to say about the war against Islamists if they have no understanding of their foes?

So what effects do Bookwormroom readers think the loss of faith of so many in the West will have on the battle against the Islamists?  Also, those of you who don’t believe in an afterlife, who believe this life is a one-shot deal — what do you believe is worth dying for?  What would you give your life for, if you thought you were giving up everything for all eternity?

More random thoughts

I’m still on vacation, and still working with a microscopic keyboard that has a space bar that is dysfunctional in  two directions.  Either no spaces at all, or too many.  Forgive the messy typing.  It’s too  difficult to fix.

Question for  you?  What is it with the radical  left and nudity?  Zombie caught a Breasts not  Bombs protest at Hillary’s San Francisco campaign  headquarters, and I really had to ask myself what the breasts had to do with things.  Also, if we’re going to have exhibitionists, why can’t attractive people be the ones doing it?

We pulled over to a park today to have a picnic.  There was a large covered area, filled with picnic  tables and there were lots of picnickers — only none of them  were using the tables, they were all crouched the  wind  on the spikey grass.  Why?  Because  two  extremely drunk homeless men had set themselves up in  the middle of the picnic area.  They were loud, smelly and, to anyone with sense, potentially dangerous.  They double-handedly managed to turn  a whole area off-limits.  I thought of them when I read about Gavin Newsom’s travails with the homeless and the druggies  in Golden  Gate Park.  What no good liberals want to admit is that a few smelly winos or  druggies can  ruin a park, library or neighborhood  for hundreds or even thousands  of people.  Their impact is far disproportionate to their numbers.

D.M. Giangreco warns us that we can expect the Islamists to create a Tet offensive just in  time for  General  Petraeus’ report.  While the  military will understand  what is  happening, the media won’t, and will surrender just as they did  with  the original Tet offensive.

With regard to the two border guards convicted for committing  a crime using a weapon, even though the  weapon is part of his job, Earl has done a good job of defending  his belief  that the prosecutor was overly zealous and that his tactics  are dangerous  in  terms of prosecutorial  decency and honesty.  Earl directed me to a post  that  examines  reforms that would  end prosecution power  plays and potentially clean-up  our criminal justice  system.

And on that note, I’m  signing  off for another  24 hours or so.  Having read DQ’s  great question about the Judeo-Christian God and Jihad, I know you’re in good hands.

What would God say?

I have a quick question for the Bookwormroom readers.  Do you believe in the Judeo-Christian God?  If you do, what do you think He thinks about the holy war declared on His people by the Islamist extremists and His people’s reactions to it?  I am not a believer, but I have this picture in my head of God looking down from heaven, watching His people demonstrate they have no stomach for a protracted war and saying to Himself, “why are my followers such wimps?” 

Or maybe I miss the point, and this is all a part of God’s plan.  Anyway, what do you folks think the real story is?

Update:  Lulu asked me to clarify the question and she’s right.  I should.  I started with the assumption, perhaps incorrect, that Jews & Christians believe that there is a Judeo-Christian God and that, in a battle between Jews & Christian on the one hand and Islamists on the other, He’d want the Jews & Christians to win.   And that He’d be quite upset, or at least sad, that they give every appearance of not being up to a long and difficult struggle. 

Perhaps this stems from my upbringing.  I was raised in maintream protestantism with a very personal, not tribal, view of God.  I was taught that if I do right I will go to heaven and if I do wrong I will go to hell.  I was further taught that God rejoices for every saved soul and mourns for every lost soul.  How much more, then, would He mourn the loss of all, or a large portion, of the Jews and Christians that worship Him.   I was also taught that Jews and Christians share the same God (the Jews are just wrong about Christ) but that other religions, including Islam, worship false Gods.  This view is probably less popular today; it seems that most people now believe that we all worship the same God in different ways.   

Anyway, the Islamists have declared a Holy War.  In nearly all wars in the past, both sides have believed that God is on their side (the comments on the Nazis in this thread illustrate the point nicely).  The Islamists clearly believe that God is on their side.  But I hear very little about what role the Jews and Christians believe their God has in this fight.  So, what do you think?  I’ve learned from the comments so far and would very much like the discussion to continue.  I’d especially like to hear from those of you who believe deeply in God and have a strong belief in what His role is in the affairs of mankind.

Random stuff

I’m enjoying a very nice vacation right now, helped by the fact that DQ has been  writing such interesting stuff (as I knew he would).  I’m anticipating checking in every couple of days, but it really is a relief  to  know I left things in good  hands.

I discovered what will get your baggage searched:  a suitcase full of books.  Because we’re doing a resort, rather than a sight-seeing, vacation this year, we brought lots of books (I can see more than 30 from  where I sit, although many are skinny children’s books).  Apparently the suitcase felt too weird because,  when I unpacked, there was a polite preprinted note from the TSA telling me they’d checked it out.

I wanted to tip you off to updates about the Scott Thomas story that I blogged about right before I left.  It’s beginning to sound more and more like  a fake.  See here and hereMichael Goldfarb guesses as to why The New Republic, a magazine  burned a decade or so  ago by false  reporting, would get into this morass  again:

The important thing to remember here is that this isn’t a story about shoddy fact-checking or a regrettable lapse of journalistic ethics over at TNR, rather this is indicative of how the left views the American warfighter. To them, he’s capable of such savagery that the far-fetched stories related by “Scott Thomas” are not only credible on their face, but “exceptionally mild.”

Obviously American troops are every bit as capable of criminal behavior as their civilian peers, and perhaps more so owing to the stress and violence of daily life in Iraq, but misconduct by U.S. servicemen in Iraq has been the exception, not the rule. If the New Republic and its political kin weren’t predisposed to view American soldiers as barbaric, than the “Scott Thomas” story would have struck them, as it did everyone else who has since commented on it, as implausible at best. (I think it’s worth noting that while the Internet will present two sides to almost any issue, no matter how absurd the opposing view may be–i.e., the charge that it was Bush that brought down the Twin Towers–best I can tell, not a single person has stood up to defend this piece other than Foer, not a singly lefty blog, not a single reader.)

American Thinker also has an update to Ray Robison’s piece speculating about the possible identity of Scott Thomas.

I’m working on  one of those computers with a mini-keyboard, and  it’s wearing out my wrists.  I’ll  end by saying that it’s lovely to  vacation within  the U.S.  We enjoy things that are different from  home, but still appreciate things that are the same.  Pleasure and ease — what could  be better?

Michael Vick — Why all the fuss?

Assume he’s guilty (as most people do, “innocent until proven guilty” being for the court fo law, not the court of public opinion.  What is all the fuss about?  Granted, he did a terrible thing, as I’m sure anyone who has a dog will tell you.  Dogs are man’s best friends and they deserve better treatment.  But really.  Is this really worse than domestic abuse, to name just one example?  Athletes beat their wifes and we tsk tsk.  They cheat on their wifes and we yawn.  Heard it all before.  But abuse animals and people take to the streets in protest.

Speaking of which, how many football fans do you think there are in PETA?  Sorry, I just can’t get excited about any cause PETA advocates.  Let’s fix the way we treat human beings before we start marching in the streets over how we treat our animals. 

 What am I missing?

Legalize drugs?

DQ here.  I’ll be dropping in while Bookworm is on vacation.  Danny L. picked up on one of my earlier comments and suggested I make a topic out of my belief that we should legalize drugs.  Good idea.  I’d also legalize gambling, prostitution, and other “victimless” crimes.  I take this stand on principle — what I do in the privacy of my own home, what I put in my body, what two consenting adults do in private (and whether money changes hands), whether I gamble my money away, etc., is none of the government’s (or anybody else’s) business. 

But there are many practical advantages as well.  The prison population would be cut in half, making prisons much more manageable.  A whole drug underculture would be eliminated, since the profits would be drastically reduced and drugs would be available through legitimate sources.  Police resources could be redirected to stopping real crimes.  The government could tax drugs as it does cigarettes, and tax gambling in a way that would make the lottery revenues look like chump change.  Addicts could seek treatment freely, without fear of arrest.  

Best of all, people would be forced to take responsibility for their own actions.  Rather than relying on the government telling them what they can and can’t do, people would have to make their own decisions.  Many will make the wrong decisions, and they will learn from those mistakes.  But all of us will grow up stronger from having to make our own decisions.

So, what do the Bookwormroom readers think?  What would you legalize and why?  What would you continue to prohibit people from doing and why?  How far should government go in regulating our behavior?  Why are conservatives not all libertarians on all social issues?  I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.

It makes the head spin

Tell me honestly — how are the state prison systems supposed to deal with the following true scenario?

The person at issue was born a man, and started taking hormones to feminize his appearance. At some point, he committed a crime and ended up in California’s state prison system. He continued to be given access to those hormones while in prison but, because he still had male genitalia (i.e., no surgery), he was assigned to a men’s prison. While in prison, he “initially was in a consensual sexual relationship with [his] cellmate in violation of prison policy, did not report specific rape claims and refused offers to be moved to a different cell. Once []he made it clear [his] cellmate was sexually assaulting [him] and prison staff found strangulation marks on [his] neck, []he was removed to protective custody, the state maintains.”

As a result of the assaults committed against him by his former cell mate, the person at the heart of this story is now suing the California prison system (and, by extension, the California taxpayers) for an undisclosed sum of money. Here is how the AP story opens, and please note that the person at issue, although biologically male, with a full set of male equipment, is referred to throughout using feminine pronouns:

Alexis Giraldo was born as a man and takes hormones to feminize her appearance, a fact she says prison officials didn’t care about even as her male cellmate repeatedly raped and beat her.

Giraldo is suing the state prison system and several guards over the state’s policy of assigning inmates like her to men’s or women’s prisons depending on whether they have had a sex change.

“Prisons are violent places, and male prisons are especially violent places,” said Greg Walston, a lawyer who took Giraldo’s for free and asked a jury this week for unspecified damages. “You take that boiling cauldron and you put one woman in there — which is exactly what happened here — and it’s like throwing a fresh piece of meat into a lion’s cage.”

Giraldo, 30, claims Folsom State Prison guards ignored her complaints and returned her to the same cell until she was assaulted again, then placed in protective custody and moved to another facility.

Giraldo is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for emotional distress and violating her constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. She has asked Superior Court Judge Ellen Chaitin to order prison officials to come up with a new system for housing transgender inmates.

Several counties in California, including San Francisco, have created separate units specifically for transgender prisoners. But like other states and the federal Bureau of Prisons, California assigns inmates to prisons based on their genitalia rather than physical appearance.

Biological men who dress and act like women but have not had sex reassignment surgery can be assigned to a psychiatric prison like the one to which Giraldo eventually transferred or the general population of a regular men’s prison.

This story really bothered me, because so many of the lines that define ordinary biology, ordinary sexual identity, and ordinary common sense are blurred.  I’ve got a whole bunch of questions, and you can answer them at your leisure, since I’ll be traveling tomorrow and won’t be able to blog:

1.  Why is a prisoner wearing long hair, girlie clothes and make-up in the first place?  (See the picture in the AP story for my take on the hair and make-up.)  Why not just prison orange and a short haircut, with no make-up?  Isn’t part of the punishment of prison to remove your chance to indulge in individual self-decoration?

2.  Why is Giraldo referred to as “she” and “her”?  Giraldo can take as many hormones as he wants, but he still has external male genitalia and lacks internal female plumbing.  I’m willing to concede that, once you have the surgery and look entirely like a woman from the outside, you’ve made the shift from one gender to another, but should a pill’s effect (breasts, less body hair and a higher voice) be sufficient to justify a news report that makes it sound as if a woman somehow wandered into a men’s prison facility?

3.  I assume the taxpayer’s are paying for Giraldo’s hormones.  I may be wrong, of course, but if I’m right, why are we?

Although you wouldn’t guess it to read this, I’m sympathetic to men and women who were born with the wrong wash of hormones.  In my years as a parent, I’ve known both boys and girls whose hormonal make-up, from the toddler phase up, was completely out of synch with their body’s sex.  Nevertheless, they were still boys, albeit feminized, or still girls, albeit masculinized.

Having said all this, if the state’s version of the story is true, the state stepped in as soon as it knew something was wrong, and rescued a very peculiar, mixed-up person from an untenable situation.  And if the inmate’s story is true, the state certainly waited too long to step in and correct the situation.  And no matter which story is true, I don’t like the way the news report keeps referring to Giraldo using feminine pronouns.

Where to go for info about a possible media myth

If you’ve been thinking that I haven’t been blogging very vigorously the last couple of days, you’re right. I’ve had a big work project, that started out grim and got rather interesting, and I’ve been getting ready for a trip. I’ll probably blog during the trip, so I’m not signing off here, but blogging will inevitably be lighter. The upside, though, is that Don Quixote has valiantly offered (no, the truth is that I bullied him to volunteer) to take over some blogging duties while I’m away. Since DQ’s posts are invariably interesting, intelligent, thought provoking, and trigger the highest numbers of comments this blog sees, please don’t take the lighter number of posts as a reason to drift away. (I’m begging here. I always feel abandoned when my numbers drop dramatically, even if I’m the one doing the abandoning by going away for a while.)

Anyway, since this is a busy day, I haven’t had much time to post. I’ve still been reading, though, and the most interesting story I’m reading about is The New Republic‘s report “Shock Troops,” written under the nom de plume Scott Thomas, and purporting to be a soldier’s first hand description of various uncivilized acts by American troops, ranging from the schoolyard (teasing someone scarred by an IED), to the cruel (using large fighting vehicles to kill dogs), to the macabre (wearing a child’s skull as a decorative hat).

The story has the smell of propaganda about it, no matter how you look at it. Each story, on its face, is illogical. Considering that all troops face the daily risk of severe IED injuries, the likelihood that they would tease someone who falls into the “there but for the grace of God go I” category seems small. While fighting vehicles are powerful, if they’re big, they lack maneuverability. What are the odds, then, that they could be used as effective kill weapons against swift, agile dogs? And the wearing a child’s skull story as a decorative hat? I’ve heard of whistling past the graveyard, but it would be one sick puppy with too much time on his hands who would take a smelly, dusty, broken skull, work hard to affix it to his headgear, and then dance around it. That’s Marilyn Manson, not U.S. Military, kind of stuff.

But don’t take my sense of logic as your guide on this one. A lot of people with actual knowledge about the situation in Iraq, about wounded troops and contractors, about tanks, about provocateurs, etc., have been writing. Here are four of my favorite links:

Michael Goldfarb’s The New Republic’s “Shock Troops”: Fact or Fiction?

Ray Robison’s Who is TNR’s mysterious author ‘Scott Thomas’?

Power Line’s Fact or Fiction : An Update

Also, as always, Michelle Malkin is completely au courant, and keeps adding more and more links to debunking stories.

I really wonder if The New Republic is having another Stephen Glass moment. If so, this is more reprehensible than any of the silly things Stephen Glass did, since it libels all of our military forces and, with the baby skull story, puts them at ever greater risk of animus from the local Iraqi population.

I know that I blog anonymously, but I’m just advancing my opinions. It seems to me that if you put forward those types of inflammatory facts, you need to come out and face those you’ve accused, so that they have a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves by challenging your facts and understanding your motives.

Bay Area women, beware!

This is very bad news:

The Lincoln Avenue rapist is free to walk Lincoln Avenue again, or anywhere else he pleases – without a tracking device.

Patrick Henry Ghilotti, the notorious San Rafael serial rapist, was released from state supervision Thursday and may travel wherever he chooses.

Although living at home in Vacaville with his wife since his release from prison three years ago, his movement has been monitored by two tracking devices and his travel restricted by limitations including a curfew.

Ghilotti served five years in prison for seven rapes in San Rafael in the 1970s, then 12 more years following his conviction in 1986 for four rapes in Ross and Corte Madera.

Ghilotti, 51, was granted the release despite misgivings of the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and the Vacaville Police Department.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Mitchell told the court that her office hired a psychologist to evaluate Ghilotti’s suitability for discharge from the conditional release program. In the doctor’s opinion, Ghilotti, who underwent voluntary castration, was unlikely to resume sexual crimes.

“I do not agree, but my opinion is not evidence,” Mitchell said. “Absent any evidence other than the history of Mr. Ghilotti, there is no evidence I can produce that is counter to the conditional release.”

Marin Superior Court Judge Stephen Graham said under the law there was nothing he could do to block the release. He offered Vacaville police officers the opportunity to speak but said their statements would have no impact.

Although rape uses sex as the means of committing the crime, it’s not really about sex — it’s about power.  I therefore have my doubts about the effects his castration will have on Ghilotti.  He’s a perfect candidate for recidivism, and certainly most experts who have examined him feel that he’s a real risk.

Watcher’s Council time

Another week, another vote over at the Watcher of Weasels. I’m very proud of the fact that I won on the Council side, because I think my post was good on its own merits, and because I’m pleased (in a kind of sad way) by how prescient I was when I wrote it. The post I’m talking about is Harry Potter and Ostrich Syndrome, which has a little history. I wrote it in May 2006 as an article for American Thinker, right after I’d amused myself by rereading the Harry Potter books and after we’d bought the DVD of the Narnia movie.

With these big media (publishing and movie) successes in mind, I was impressed by the fact that the books and movies present messages totally at odds with those currently being peddled in Hollywood and Democratic conference rooms. They say that good and evil are real forces, and that evil can and must be challenged. I was also struck, as I have been since 9/11, by Harry’s constant battle against institutional powers that refuse to acknowledge the evil in their midst (i.e., “He Who Must Not Be Named”). So I wrote way too long post that Thomas Lifson, American Thinker’s editor, was kind enough to publish as an article.

Last week, with the new Harry Potter movie out, the last Potter book on the horizon, and the new British Prime Minister announcing that Islamism is now an enemy that “Must Not Be Named” I felt that I had to republish my original article. The timing was just too good. I’m therefore very pleased that my fellow council members appreciated my post enough to vote it into first place.

There’s another American Thinker connection for one of the three posts tied for second place post at the Watcher’s Council: Right Wing Nut House’s Are Conservatives Really Hoping for Another 9/11. It’s a marvelous rumination about the charge that Conservatives are praying for another 9/11 so that they can consolidate political power. Instead of just brushing that charge off, because it’s an exceptionally mean-spirited one, Rick Moran examines it closely and decides that conservatives (a) want political power (of course); (b) that another attack on Americans probably benefit the conservatives because Americans understand that they are better on defense; but (c) that conservatives, while recognize the benefits of an attack, don’t want one — instead, they fear that, because of liberal attitudes, we’re going to get one regardless, and we’d better be prepared. Oh, I mentioned the American Thinker connection, right? Rick Moran is now associate editor there. Congratulations!

The other two second place posts are A President’s Legacy Quick Fix Playground — The Middle East, by Soccer Dad, and Pangloss, by Done With Mirrors. Soccer Dad tackles the morass every American President feels obligated to enter — the challenge of bringing peace to the Middle East. Done With Mirrors examines what frightens liberals (nature) and what frightens conservatives (terrorists who want to kill us), and ruminates about the difference between those two fears. They are both excellent posts.

On the non-Council side, the article I voted for won first place, so I’m pretty pleased about that too. It’s TCS Daily’s Myths and Realities of the Bush Presidency, written by a guy who characterizes himself as a fairly lukewarm Bush fan, but a big supporter of the truth. The article doesn’t state anything new, but it gets big points for being a really lucid summary of some of the worst lies circulating about the Bush presidency, including the charge that he stole the 2000 election. Second place went to All Things Beautiful’s Politics of Terror Reign Supreme, an angry (but eloquently controlled) rant against the same ostrich syndrome I attacked in my post: as the terrorists explicitly state their desire to kill, kill, kill, the powers that be in the West deny, deny, deny.

As is so often the case, the winners were good, but the ones that didn’t win were equally good. This is especially true on the Council side, so I’m going to do something I’m usually too lazy to do: list all the nominated Watcher’s Council posts that I haven’t already discussed above. Without exception, I enjoyed reading them, voted for some of them, and learned from all of them.

5. Pope Reaffirms Teachings of Vatican II (UPDATED), by Rhymes With Right

6. Bush Muzzled Sturgeon General — Thank God!, by Big Lizards

7. What’s Wrong With This Story?, by Cheat Seeking Missiles

8. Mutants, Civil Rights and Fundamentalism, by The Colossus of Rhodey

9. Another One That Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by The Education Wonks

You mean it’s NOT from global warming?

If this guy is correct it’s really good news, both in terms of saving the world’s vanishing bee population and in terms of taking some of the heat off of global warming (if you’ll pardon the pun). If he’s wrong, that would be a shame, because the culprit he’s identified can apparently be treated cheaply and easily:

A parasite common in Asian bees has spread to Europe and the Americas and is behind the mass disappearance of honeybees in many countries, says a Spanish scientist who has been studying the phenomenon for years.

The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain’s honey industry.

He and his colleagues have analysed thousands of samples from stricken hives in many countries.

“We started in 2000 with the hypothesis that it was pesticides, but soon ruled it out,” he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Pesticide traces were present only in a tiny proportion of samples and bee colonies were also dying in areas many miles from cultivated land, he said.

They then ruled out the varroa mite, which is easy to see and which was not present in most of the affected hives.

For a long time Higes and his colleagues thought a parasite called nosema apis, common in wet weather, was killing the bees.

“We saw the spores, but the symptoms were very different and it was happening in dry weather too.”

Then he decided to sequence the parasite’s DNA and discovered it was an Asian variant, nosema ceranae. Asian honeybees are less vulnerable to it, but it can kill European bees in a matter of days in laboratory conditions.

“Nosema ceranae is far more dangerous and lives in heat and cold. A hive can become infected in two months and the whole colony can collapse in six to 18 months,” said Higes, whose team has published a number of papers on the subject.

***

Treatment for nosema ceranae is effective and cheap — 1 euro (US$1.4) a hive twice a year — but beekeepers first have to be convinced the parasite is the problem.

Another theory points a finger at mobile phone aerials, but Higes notes bees use the angle of the sun to navigate and not electromagnetic frequencies.

Other elements, such as drought or misapplied treatments, may play a part in lowering bees’ resistance, but Higes is convinced the Asian parasite is the chief assassin.

Hat tip: Drudge

The BBC in freefall

I used to admire the BBC. It’s role during WWII was stellar. In the 1960s, it brought us Monty Python and other cutting edge, very silly comedies. In the 1970s, it began making a series of marvelous historic dramas, many of which still represent the finest viewing TV has offered. But it’s been downhill lately. Some of us, of course, believe that the BBC is reprehensibly biased in its coverage about Israel, and that it is anti-Semitic and anti-American. You can see my short series of posts cataloging the BBC’s integrity-free conduct here.

But don’t just take my word for it. The BBC itself has acknowledged that it’s a left-wing, biased entity (although it refuses, irrationally, to believe that the bias that permeates it from top to bottom might, just might, leak into its news coverage).

And just the other day, the BBC got into trouble for insulting the Queen (how dare they?!), an insult that proved to be based, not on fact, but on media manipulation. (Hmmm . . . I wonder where they got the idea that media manipulation was a workable tool?)

You’d think the BBC’s travails would have bottomed out about now, but new depths of corruption just keep emerging. The latest report is that the BBC has had to stop phone-in competitions because of rampant institutional dishonesty:

The BBC is to suspend all its phone-in competitions after the Corporation’s Trust expressed concerns about “significant failures of control and compliance”.

An editorial review revealed viewers had been misled in shows including Comic Relief and Children In Need, some of which featured fictitious winners of phone-in competitions.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, said the failures within the corporation and by its suppliers, have “compromised the BBC’s values of accuracy and honesty”.

“There is no excuse for deception,” he said.

“I know the idea of deceiving the public would simply never occur to most people in the BBC.

“It is far better to accept a production problem and make a clean breast to the public than to deceive.”

The Trust said the additional editorial failings showed “further deeply disappointing evidence of insufficient understanding amongst certain staff of the standards of accuracy and honesty expected, and inadequate editorial controls to ensure compliance with those standards.”

It added: “We have made clear that we regard any deception or breach of faith with our audiences as being utterly unacceptable.”

All phone-related competitions on BBC TV and radio will cease from midnight tonight, while interactive and online competitions will be taken down as soon as possible.

(You can read the rest of the story here.)

I wonder if Britain’s famous betting shops are making book on the specific date of the Beeb’s ultimate demise.  If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on an early date.

Incidentally, it’s worth keeping in mind the rampant bias and dishonesty you see at the Beeb the next time you hear someone trumpeting a renewal of the Fairness Doctrine.  I know that the Left has always loved the BBC:  to them, it’s so pure, uncorrupted by those nasty market forces.  And it’s true, as I noted at the beginning of this post, that the ability to ignore the market meant that the BBC could broadcast wacky, experimental comedy, and that it could create historical costume dramas that appealed to the elite, rather than the masses.  Certainly when I lived in Britain, on the rare occasions I had access to a TV, I was charmed by the complete absence of commercials, and did appreciate that there were certain high quality shows that would not then have found an outlet in America other than taxpayer funded PBS.  There was also a lot of drek on British TV, but I was so delighted by the “British-ness” of it all, that I let it pass.

But those silly comedies and high dramas come at a high price.  Without serious competition, and without the need to respond to the public needs, the BBC has had no restraints on it.  This is quite different from what happened in America, where the free market revealed that Americans were hungry for conservative commentary.  And while it’s true that American network television has hewed to the Left, the nagging fear of the conservative market has kept network TV from becoming quite as biased and unhinged as the BBC.   Insert a Fairness Doctrine, though, and we’ll be BBC’d all over here, with all the bias and corruption that flows from a powerful organization having a stranglehold on the marketplace of ideas.