How I met Michael Medved

As you may recall, a couple of days ago I notified my Marin readers that Michael Medved would be giving a talk at Book Passage to promote his new book, The 10 Big Lies About America: Combating Destructive Distortions About Our Nation.  His talk was so good I actually supported my independent book seller by buying the book on site, rather than coming home and buying it at Amazon for a lower price.  I thought both Medved and Book Passage deserved the custom, so I cheerfully parted with that extra $12.00.

For those of you who’ve listened to Medved’s shows, what I’m about to tell you won’t surprise you.  He’s a clear speaker, a very organized thinker, optimistic, and has a tremendous grasp of historic and statistical information.  This last especially impressed me, because, while much of the data he recited was familiar to me, I could never, in a million years, have remembered and recited it with such ease.  For me, all those factoids would have been vague remembrances that I would have been afraid to state, since my grasp of details is so hazy.  He is, in a word, smart.

Considering that this was a Marin venue, the turnout was impression.  I’m not good at estimating crowds, but I’d say about 70 people were there — which is no shabby showing for a conservative talk reading at a small Marin bookstore.  The crowd was enthusiastic and respectful.  Only one man was somewhat challenging, since he rattled on about statistics regarding infant mortality, mass poverty, and minimal health care in America, as opposed to Europe, but Medved dealt with him factually and politely.

Medved pointed out correctly that America’s statistics are always skewed because we have such a vast influx of immigrants, and they, in the first generation, tend to have higher infant mortality, shorter life spans, and greater poverty.  He also pointed out the corollary to those immigrant based statistics:  In America the majority of those in the lowest 20% economically will leave poverty behind and move up the economic ladder, shedding their infant mortality rates along with their poverty.

In that, America is distinctly different from Europe, which provides its immigrants with basic services that are better than those here, but that also leaves them trapped and alienated forever in banlieus, slums, ghettos, and other stagnant immigrant communities.  (Medved didn’t make that last point about Europe, but I did.)

The ability to rise up, of course, has always been America’s promise.  Long time readers will recall my post about the New York Tenement Museum and Iving Berlin, in which I noted that census documents from the Tenement Museum revealed that all of the residents’ descendants, without exception, had moved up the economic ladder.  Irving Berlin, of course, was the quintessential (although definitely not the only) American immigrant success story, and a story of the type that simply does not appear in other parts of the world.

As I noted above, since I was impressed with the book, I actually bought it (no waiting for Goodwill or the library this time) so that Medved could sign my copy.  Also, because I’m not opposed in the least to a bit of self-promotion, I forced on Medved a slip of paper with my blog information  — and he was kind enough to say he’d check it out.  Of course, on the way home, I realized that for the past few days, my blogging has been somewhat inconsequential.  I’ve been tagging other things of interest in the blogosphere, but haven’t been doing any original writing.

So, Mr. Medved, if you’re checking out this blog, lest you think the last few days represent the entire scope of my work, let me direct you to some of my favorite posts, not only at my own blog, but also at American Thinker and Pajamas Media.

On my blog in the last few weeks:

1.  Is Barack Obama evil? (To which I answer “no.”)

2.  Understanding that Obama seeks a statist government

3.  The New York Times takes off the mask

4.  A couple of thoughts about the American Revolution

Pajamas Media posts:

1.  A San Francisco Bay [Area] Military Recruiter in “Harms Way”

2.  Euro-Snobs Slight American Literature

3.  The Pulitzer Prize Enters the 21st Century (Sort Of)

And a few of my favorite American Thinker articles (with the whole archive list here)

1.  Economically flexible morality

2.  Harry Potter and the War on Terror

3.  Confession of a Crypto-Conservative Woman

To Mr. Medved, I ask that you read my blog.  To my readers, I ask that you read Mr. Medved.

Who would you vote for as the next President?

An email friend of mine advanced the notion of General Petraeus running in 2012.  The man has shown himself to be incredibly competent, but I don’t know much more about him.  He certainly has executive experience.  My friend, who knows (or knows of him) quite well says that he has many of the virtues that would make both a good candidate and a good president.  I have no knowledge of whether he wants to run, but it’s an interesting concept.

Since 2012 is coming upon us quickly (thank goodness), I was interested in your preferences and created a poll. Since I’m new to poll creating, the “none of the above” option is unanchored, and drifts, but I trust you’ll figure it out. Also, if you don’t see a potential candidate you like in my poll, leave a comment with the person’s name.

This is evil *UPDATED*

The other day, I wrote a post in which I concluded that Barack Obama was not evil — he was a politico whose plans could be bad for America, but who hadn’t stepped beyond the pale of ordinary human behavior.  Rick, at Brutally Honest, found an example of something that is chillingly evil.  It’s a Kuwaiti man (cleric? civilian? who knows) joyfully describing the death of more than 300,000 Americans in an “easy” anthrax attack, as his audience gleefully laughs along with him.  People like this are truly sub-human.  They’re Orcs.

UPDATE:  And, to give you nightmares, a reminder of how little our current administration is doing about the Orcs.

Don’t fall into the BDS trap with Obama

At the end of my “Is Barack Obama evil” post, I issued this warning:

Conservatives devalue their arguments against Obama’s policy if they start throwing the word “evil” around.  While that may work with the converted, it frightens the vast middle.  Rather than looking like wise men (and women) with a better plan, conservatives start looking like wild-eyed street corner prophets.  We may be right, but no one will listen.

One of the most important things young lawyers learn (or, at least, should learn), is not to use ad hominem attacks against opposing counsel.  If your opposing counsel is indeed dishonest (which is usually the direction ad attacks take), you get much further with the Court if you provide proof of that dishonesty, and then let the Court draw the obvious conclusion itself.  Calling opposing counsel names denies the Court the necessary proof and merely makes you look bad.

In our discussions about Obama and the Democrats, we should make sure that we lead our readers to the truth.  Let them draw the ultimate negative conclusions.  As Socrates knew, a lesson is always learned better if the student has his own epiphany, rather than having a point, no matter how good it is, forced down his throat.

I’m not the only one sounding this tocsin.  David Horowitz makes the same point:

Conservatives, please. Let’s not duplicate the manias of the Left as we figure out how to deal with Mr. Obama. He is not exactly the anti-Christ, although a disturbing number of people on the Right are convinced he is.

[snip]

In other words, while it’s reasonable to be unhappy with a Democratic administration and even concerned because the Democrats are now a socialist party in the European sense, we are not witnessing the coming of the anti-Christ. A good strategy for political conflicts is to understand your opponent first – not to underestimate him, but not to overestimate him either.

The beauty of our democracy is that we can ride Obama hard for what we perceive as his failings.  We must keep him in perspective, however, so that don’t weaken either our power or our credibility, both of which we’ll need as we pick our battles in the ordinary fights of a two party system.

Bio friendly products

So much of what Progressives seek for us is a return to the less than lovely and easy parts of the past.  For example, in the greenie world, who needs warm, efficient, useful incandescent light bulbs?  How much better if we bathe the environment in love by using light bulbs that would have been familiar in the 1920s:  buzzy, weak, ugly light, unreliable and, as an added 21st century bonus, filled with toxic mercury.

And pity the poor people in Washington state, forced by law to use dish washing liquids that don’t actually wash dishes.  Woo-hoo!

The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don’t work as well. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation’s strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.

But it’s not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green.

Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe’s left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.

In addition to the CFL light bulbs peppering my house (buzz, buzz, buzz, to the point where I’m thinking of making an aluminum helmet because I’m beginning to think the Martians are trying to talk to me), I’ve had yet another irritating brush with bio-friendly products.  This time the culprit is paper towel made from recycled materials, a binge buy by Mr. Bookworm who takes very seriously every global warming column written by that well-known scientist Tom Friedman, of the New York Times.  (What?!  You’re telling me Friedman isn’t a scientist?  I’m shocked!  Shocked!  I heard he was a top ranked graduate of the Algore School of Boiling Frogs.)

Anyway, paper towel.  Since Mr. Bookworm shopped at Costco, he didn’t just get one or three or four rolls of recycled paper towel, he got 24.  My cupboards are packed with the stuff.  The only consolation is that I’m going through the rolls of towel at warp speed . . . BECAUSE THEY DON’T WORK! A spill that would have taken one standard paper towel takes me five or six of these earth friend towels.  They have no absorption, they fall apart at the lightest touch, and they’re so poorly perforated that, even when I try to rip small, I end up getting big.  They remind me very much of the Soviet era toilet paper I suffered through during a long-ago trip to Czechoslovakia.  In other words, they’re a completely regressive product that offsets any “earth friendly” virtues by being completely useless and functional only if used in vast and wasteful quantities.

All of which allows you to get a little insight into the average Progressive family’s green home:  They don’t have flush toilets, creating the risk of disease and uncontrolled waste pollution; they have Soviet era paper products, that are not just unpleasant but have to be used to wasteful quantities to work; they have light bulbs that self-destruct so quickly they’re essentially landfill, except for that toxic mercury problem;, and, if they live in Washington state or are simply committed greenies, their dishes emerge from the dishwasher so dirty that they require vast amounts of water to offset the “green” detergent’s inefficiencies.

Given that so many of the “green” products “progressives” tout (or mandate) are so inefficient that they are a throwback to a less comfortable past and are vastly wasteful, it’s obvious that, for a “progressive greenie,” cognitive dissonance is a way of life.

A reminder about how lucrative Democratic politics can be

I’m always amazed that the Democrats can, with a straight face, present themselves as the party of the little people and as opposed to big business.  I guess their deal is that, as long as a corrupt capitalist system exists, they should exploit it to the max, all the while working hard to destroy it so that no other poor sinners in society will be corrupted as the Dems were.  Anyway, it’s slightly old news, but I still thought you’d be fascinated by how much Rahm Emanuel profited during his short stint in the private sector, especially considering how little he did and how much unethical conduct he oversaw (all emphasis mine):

Though just 49, Emanuel is a veteran Democratic strategist and fundraiser who served three terms in the U.S. House after helping elect Mayor Richard Daley and former President Bill Clinton. The Freddie Mac money was a small piece of the $16 million he made in a three-year interlude as an investment banker a decade ago.

[snip]

He was named to the Freddie Mac board in February 2000 by Clinton, whom Emanuel had served as White House political director and vocal defender during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board’s working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate.  [In other words, because he served for only 14 months, Emanuel managed to pull in more than $57,000 per board meeting, assuming 7 meetings during those fourteen months.]

On Emanuel’s watch, the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass.  [So Emanuel was a steward for Freddie Mac during one of its most corrupt periods.]

[snip]

During his brief time on the board, the company hatched a plan to enhance its political muscle. That scheme, also reviewed by the board, led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago.

The board was throttled for its acquiescence to the accounting manipulation in a 2003 report by Armando Falcon Jr., head of a federal oversight agency for Freddie Mac. The scandal forced Freddie Mac to restate $5 billion in earnings and pay $585 million in fines and legal settlements. It also foreshadowed even harder times at the firm.

Many of those same risky investment practices tied to the accounting scandal eventually brought the firm to the brink of insolvency and led to its seizure last year by the Bush administration, which pledged to inject up to $100 billion in new capital to keep the firm afloat. The Obama administration has doubled that commitment.

If you were naive, you might think that the drive-by media would be all over this story, which shows a political official profiting mightily, and turning a blind eye to, a hugely corrupt enterprise that helped bring down the American economy.  Those of us with a little more media sophistication, however, are unsurprised to hear nothing but the sound of crickets chirping.

Ow!

Muscle spasm in lower back, which usually means I collapse, kind of like this, only with pain attached.  Took valium.  Helped muscle spasm.  Wiped out brain.  Sitting up still painful, but do-able, but brain so defective, can’t hold on to coherent thought.  Still can’t understand why people take drugs recreationally.  This feeling really freaks me out.

Recapturing lost moments in our lives

Sometimes, when I hear a song, I’m catapulted back, not to some era in my life, but to a very specific moment in time, sometimes mere minutes long.  Running carpools today, I heard two songs that turned me into a very young 20-something all over again.

The first, the Thompson Twins’ Hold Me Now, transported me to a small, neighborhood shoe store (of all places) where I was admiring some very frivolous little sandals.  I was waffling, and was convinced to buy them only because the sales clerk flirted with me so outrageously, I suddenly realized I was the most gorgeous woman in the world and absolutely deserved those shoes to complement my wonderfulness.  Hold Me Now was, of course, playing in the background.  The shoe store is gone, and those feelings with it.

The second, Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out sees me walking into a small, neighborhood music store.  It’s a meaningless vingnette.  Nothing happened.  But I spent a lot of happy years in that music store and the shopping trip I made to that store the day Joe Jackson’s song played in the background was, I think, one of the last times I went into the store before they tore it down and built a mega-mall in its place.