Are enough Catholics still pro-Life for Obama’s game-playing to matter?

I have some familiarity with Church history and doctrine, owing to my background as a European history major.  I am woefully ignorant, however, about modern Catholicism — or, more specifically, modern American Catholicism.  I therefore have a question for those of you who are Catholic:  Does it matter to a critical mass of American Catholics that Obama is sponsoring a health care plan that requires Americans to pay for abortion and that he is lying about that fact?  Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks it matters a lot:

[T]he loss of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most prominent Catholic politicians in the United States, a leading proponent of the president’s health-care-reform push, should not obscure a pivotal fact: Barack Obama has put himself at war with the Catholic Church.

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

I agree with everything Lopez says — and I believe that Catholics who hold to the tenets of her faith will agree with her. I just wonder how many of those Catholics are left in America. I’m not talking about people who just say they’re Catholic, but people who actually believe this issue matters. Can you tell me how many of those people there are?  I know there were a lot in the 60s and 70s, but are they still around?  Or are the majority of Catholics people who pay lip service to these doctrines but don’t really belive that they apply to life in America?

The problem with the Left is that they’ve been inhaling

I’m too much of a self-control freak ever to have been attracted to recreational drugs (or even alcohol, for that matter).  Add to that the fact that my first childhood memories involve the Haight-Ashbury after the Summer of Love fell apart, when the neighborhood had turned into one giant, drug-ridden tenderloin district, and you’ll appreciate that I have little patience for drug use.  I’m especially hostile to marijuana, because its users commit the ultimate sin — they become boring.  Indeed, I remember one of our family friends, who had been a total hippie in the 60s and 70s who turned her back on the whole scene precisely because that fact — marijuana’s profound boringness — was shoved in her face.

It seems that, one day, she and a friend got seriously stoned and started having a very important and meaningful conversation about world peace and other exciting subjects.  So profound were their insights that they determined to preserve them for posterity.  To that end, they dug out her tape recorder, hit the record button, and let themselves talk.  The next day, play-back revealed what really happened:  “Man . . . that is so, like, deep, you know?  ‘Cause, like, if you do that, everybody would have a giant love fest, you know?  Yeah.  .  . .  Awesome.  . . . Totally . . . awesome.”  After realizing that she had recorded over an hour of this mindless crap, she swore off pot forever.

I thought of my friend’s long ago experience when I read Leigh Scott’s brilliant insight about the Left:  They’re all stoned.  As Scott explains:

Stoners always think that they are smarter than they really are. Copious amounts of THC trick the brain into thinking that the most banal thought is somehow a stroke of genius. Just watch a bunch of stoners debate philosophy and metaphysics. The most ridiculous comments take on the gravitas of a Stephen Hawking thesis. Morons think that they are Michio Kaku after a towering bong hit.

Stoners live for the moment. They are all about feelings, not facts. They possess a detached sense of cause and effect.

That rather perfectly sums up both the stoner and the liberal world view.  You should definitely read the whole thing.

Disheartening times — by guestblogger Lulu

I have felt a great heaviness and sadness this week. Five separate news stories have been an unpleasant reminder about how depraved and amoral the human being can be and how elusive is justice.

Like many others, the death of Ted Kennedy has reminded me of his culpability in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. I read about what happened — something I really had never done thoroughly before — and I was disgusted by his actions, by his apparent disinterest in her terrible suffering, and by the media covering up of it all. I was revolted at the passing mention of the event by the MSM as if he was responsible for causing an inconvenience, not a slow death of an innocent person. Mary Jo had no justice and people forgot her because her negligent and indifferent companion was a protected elite.

The next horrible story concerned the verdict in the sadistic and beyond horrific murders of the young, carjacked couple in Knoxville. Tennessee. The known details of their torture and suffering are too awful to recount. What is worse is how the media chose to under-report this story. Usually they lap up extreme tragedies involving young and attractive white youth, but apparently not when their rapists, torturers and murderers are among the oppressed. So, very few know about this true modern-day southern lynching while the completely fabricated Duke Lacrosse story was everywhere. It is not a hate crime and Obama doesn’t “meddle” here about race relations. And life in prison with the possibility of early release is no justice. If this crime doesn’t deserve the death penalty I don’t know what does. The torturer/murderers were spared because they belong to a persecuted minority underclass protected group.

Third is the awful tale of Jaycee Dugard kidnapped at her bus stop and held for 18 years by her mentally ill captors as a sex slave while the police department and justice system utterly failed her. Why was a known high-risk rapist who told police he preferred forced sex ever released from prison early? Those who made this decision are culpable in Jaycee’s ordeal. One can only imagine the psychological horrors that kept her there all these years and the nightmarish life she and her daughters were subjected to. I cannot imagine the long journey to some semblance of normalcy they will face. I wish them all good therapy and loving family. It is hard to fathom what evil and cruel indifference is necessary to steal and rape a child and to hold her captive.Here is another case in which the death penalty is deserved in my opinion, but will never be carried out. Will this monster ever be freed again?

Fourth is the tale of Gilad Shalit. Who knows what kind of condition he has been kept in all these years and under what circumstances, The world doesn’t expect civilized behavior form the Palestinians yet they demand Israel show a super-human restraint. The International Red Cross is indifferent, the Palestinians are pitied, and there is no justice for Gilad.

Finally, what started the whole week; the despicable release of the Lockerbie bomber by Scotland and the UK for “humanitarian” reasons, and if it could be worse, now it seems that a deal was struck with Libya for oil. No justice for the victims and their families.

Too many stories of innocents suffering the unspeakable, the guilty are treated with a compassion the victims didn’t receive, and a misguided sense of compassion makes change so difficult.

And this email doesn’t even mention the Kennedy treason issue

Kennedy’s treasonous conduct in the 1980s is finally getting some play (see here and here, for example), but this email is a sufficient indictment of the “liberal lion” even without the treason. Honest to God, you’d think that Democrats would want to elevate a different standard bearer for their party:

As soon as his cancer was detected, I noticed the immediate attempt at the “canonization” of old Teddy Kennedy by the mainstream media. They are saying what a “great American” he is. I say, let’s get a couple things clear & not twist the facts to change the real history.

1. He was caught cheating at Harvard when he attended it. He was expelled twice, once for cheating on a test, and once for paying a classmate to cheat for him.

2. While expelled, Kennedy enlisted in the Army, but mistakenly signed up for four years instead of two. Oops! The man can’t count to four!  His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England (a step up from bootlegging liquor into the US from Canada during prohibition), pulled the necessary strings to have his enlistment shortened to two years, and to ensure that he served in Europe, not Korea , where a war was raging. No preferential treatment for him! (like he charged that President Bush received).

3. Kennedy was assigned to Paris, never advanced beyond the rank of Private, and returned to Harvard upon being discharged. Imagine a person of his “education” NEVER advancing past the rank of Private!

4. While attending law school at the University of Virginia , he was cited for reckless driving four times, including once when he was clocked driving 90 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood with his headlights off after dark. Yet his Virginia driver’s license was never revoked. Coincidentally, he passed the bar exam in 1959. Amazing!

5. In 1964, he was seriously injured in a plane crash, and hospitalized for several months. Test results done by the hospital at the time he was admitted had shown he was legally intoxicated. The results of those tests remained a “state secret” until in the 1980′s when the report was unsealed. Didn’t hear about that from the unbiased media, did we?

6. On July 19, 1969, Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts . At about 11:00 PM, he borrowed his chauffeur’s keys to his Oldsmobile limousine, and offered to give a ride home to Mary Jo Kopechne, a campaign worker. Leaving the island via an unlit bridge with no guard rail, Kennedy steered the car off the bridge, flipped, and into Poucha Pond.

7. He swam to shore and walked back to the party, passing several houses and a fire station. Two friends then returned with him to the scene of the accident. According to their later testimony, they told him what he already knew – that he was required by law to immediately report the accident to the authorities. Instead Kennedy made his way to his hotel, called his lawyer, and went to sleep. Kennedy called the police the next morning and by then the wreck had already been discovered. Before dying, Kopechne had scratched at the upholstered floor above her head in the upside-down car. The Kennedy family began “calling in favors”, ensuring that any inquiry would be contained. Her corpse was whisked out-of-state to her family, before an autopsy could be conducted. Further details are uncertain, but after the accident Kennedy says he repeatedly dove under the water trying to rescue Kopechne and he didn’t call police because he was in a state of shock. It is widely assumed Kennedy was drunk, and he held off calling police in hopes that his family could fix the problem overnight.. Since the accident, Kennedy’s “political enemies” have referred to him as the distinguished Senator from Chappaquiddick. He pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and was given a SUSPENDED SENTENCE OF TWO MONTHS. Kopechne’s family received a small payout from the Kennedy’s insurance policy, and never sued. There was later an effort to have her body exhumed and autopsied, but her family successfully fought against this in court, and Kennedy’s family paid their attorney’s bills… a “token of friendship”?

8. Kennedy has held his Senate seat for more than forty years, but considering his longevity, his accomplishments seem scant. He authored or argued for legislation that ensured a variety of civil rights, increased the minimum wage in 1981, made access to health care easier for the indigent, and funded Meals on Wheels for fixed-income seniors and is widely held as the “standard-bearer for liberalism”. In his very first Senate roll, he was the floor manager for the bill that turned U.S. immigration policy upside down and opened the floodgate for immigrants from third world countries.

9. Since that time, he has been the prime instigator and author of every expansion of an increase in immigration, up to and including the latest attempt to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Not to mention the pious grilling he gave the last two Supreme Court nominees, as if he was the standard bearer for the nation in matters of “what’s right”. What a pompous ass!

10. He is known around Washington as a public drunk, loud, boisterous and very disrespectful to ladies. JERK is a better description than “great American”. “A blonde in every pond” is his motto.

Let’s not allow the spin doctors make this jerk a hero — how quickly the American public forgets what his real legacy is. Let’s keep this going for truth, justice and the American way!

Will the Black Panthers, encouraged by Eric Holders’ decision to dismiss charges against them, go to new levels of intimidation?

During the November 2008 election, Black Panthers appeared on video standing in front of polling places with billy clubs:

Eric Holder, however, was unconcerned, and dropped the voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers.  Having learned that they get a free pass for egregious behavior antithetical to democratic government gets a free pass, I wonder if, in 2010, the Panthers will take the whole thing to the next level.  In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban has voter intimidation down to an art:

Lal Mohammad was determined to stand against Taliban threats and exercise his right to vote in Afghanistan’s presidential election.

But he now regrets his defiance.

These horrifying pictures show a fearful Mohammad recovering after he was ambushed by Taliban fighters as he walked to a polling station last week.

The 40-year-old farmer was beaten and mutilated. The Taliban cut off his ears and part of his nose in the shocking attack.

To date, the Panthers have been pikers.  With the Obama wind at their back, though, who knows how far they’ll go?

A graphic argument regarding health insurance

The original video says that socialized medicine is great:

The rebuttal interlineated video shows all the errors in the argument:

I want to throw two more things into the mix:  First, the fact that, in a head-on comparison, the government is vastly more inefficient, dollar-for-dollar, than private business — and that’s despite the dreaded profits.

Second, in the September 2009 issue of Commentary Magazine (not yet available online, even in bits and pieces), there is a marvelous articulate about the perverse result from too much insurance and government protection:  People take greater risks.  For example, an economic study shows that insurance that is not tied to weight control causes increased obesity in consumers.  Likewise, another study shows that the safer the car, the more reckless the driving.  Universal health, which takes away the natural market tension between the insured and even the most decent insurer, will give people a no harm, no foul approach to their own health management.  As for me, I saw this when I lived in England.  People treated themselves cavalierly, because they knew ever foul thing they did to their body would ultimately be treated, for free, even if they had to wait days, weeks or months for that treatment.

Hollywood patriotism circa the 1940s

Apropos my post about patriotism during Hollywood’s golden age, Bruce Kesler sent me this great video showing both Jimmy Cagney and Mickey Rooney doing their George M. Cohan impressions:

Since I’m an avid fan of old musicals, I may, for a few days, scatter throughout my posts video links to patriotic songs and dances from Hollywood’s old days.

Jimmy Cagney, by the way, was an ardent, some might say extreme, Democrat.  It’s no coincidence that in two of his films — Footlight Parade and Yankee Doodle Dandy — Franklin Roosevelt made cameo appearances.  Still, Cagney’s movies never deviated from showing a true love of country, warts and all.  My earlier post wasn’t meant to pretend that there weren’t Leftists in Hollywood or that Hollywood didn’t crank out a few pro-Communist, pro-Soviet movies.  These were the minority, though, and did not reflect the overarching trend in movies, which was affection for America.

Controlling the budget

If I ran for office, whether state or federal, my promise to my constituents would be to cut one government program per month for my entire term of office.  The New Editor reminds me that another useful promise might be to cut wages as well, to make them commensurate with the market sector.  Of course, unlike the private sector, which cuts wages or the number of employees instantly in response to market forces, the government is completely inflexible and unadaptive.  Because of the bureaucracy behind every hiring and wage decision, what’s done cannot be undone.

Vera Lynn — a hit again

I am extremely fond of Vera Lynn’s music.  I was therefore delighted to read that (a) she is still alive and, at 92, looking wonderful and (b) she is still a chart topping hit in England:

Dame Vera Lynn yesterday became the oldest living artist to make it into the Top Twenty.

At the age of 92, she entered the albums chart with We’ll Meet Again – The Very Best of Vera Lynn.

The album was released to coincide with the 70th anniversary on Thursday of the declaration of war.

Entering the charts at number 20, she overtook U2, the Stone Roses and Eminem.

A spokesman for her record company Decca said: ‘She has proven that music of this vintage and significance can still resonate with the British public.’

The forces sweetheart kept up the spirits of millions of Britons with her songs and personality during the Second World War.

Read the rest here.

Here’s We’ll meet again, which is one of her best:

Hollywood’s perverted patriotism

Hollywood and the media establishment as a whole are inescapable parts of American and, indeed, world culture.  It’s fascinating, therefore, to think about the type of patriotism our American media now espouses and that which it embraced in the past.   Depending on how one defines patriotism, whether as love of country or love of a particular political leader, American media has always done its best to lead the way.

Typically, there are two types of patriotism, one of which I think is healthy and one of which is scary.  The healthy one is love of country.  I’m talking true love of country, the one that sees a citizen believing he is singularly blessed to live in his country.  Your citizen recognizes that his country has had — and still has — failings, but nonetheless thinks it’s the best game in town — and this is true whether he focuses on his personal freedoms, the economy, national security or social mores.  This patriot is completely distinguishable from those who have nothing good to say about their country, but can only recite an endless litany of its moral failings.  When the “patriots” focuses obsessively on his countries wrongs, periodically stopping to make that rote statement that “I love my country,” you see someone akin to the chronic wife beater, who always excuses his abuses by claiming that he’s doing it for his wife’s own good.  That’s not about love.  It’s about power and hatred.

The other type of patriotism is one that attaches itself to a leader.  These are the cults of personality, and I can’t think of one that hasn’t occured in the context of a totalitarian dictatorship.  (If I’m wrong, please enlighten me.)  Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in German, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Mao in China, Kim Jong Il in Korea, Castro in Cuba, and Qaddafi in Libya are all perfect examples of this scenario.  In each case, a leader ascended to absolute power and the people, who may have been at first seduced by his demagoguery, ended up at sword-point being forced to worship him completely, to their own detriment and that of the state.  That is why it is always frightening when someone ascends to office based upon a personality cult, rather than based upon past accomplishments.

The early movie makers were, without exception, patriots who truly believed America was the best nation on earth.  This was true whether they were immigrants who escaped from oppression in other lands (e.g., Louis B. Mayer or Jack Warner), or came from America’s heartland (Walt Disney).  Even as they recognized America’s flaws — and recognize them they did, especially because flaws tend to make for good drama — their love for this country came through loud and clear in every movie they made.  MGM, especially under Louis B. Mayer, loved to present an idealized country in which an honest and free people would triumph, whether to music, laughter or tears.  Warner Brothers tended to focus on America’s noir nitty-gritty, but the good guys were the cops who saved decent citizens from those lowlifes who rejected the American dream in favor of crime or the soldiers who protected Americans from enemies abroad.  And then there’s Disney, with every movie somehow serving as the backdrop to a subliminal national anthem.

Early Hollywood’s deep love for country was never more clearly seen than during World War II, when every studio in Hollywood willingly bent its efforts to helping America win the war.  Whether churning out movies about the home front, about our Allies or our evil enemies, or about the bravery and sacrifice of our troops, each picture had a single goal:  to help Americans support the war effort so that America would achieve an absolute victory.  The same held true for written media and even popular song.  Women were reminded not to sit under the apple tree with anyone but their overseas love; soldiers were assured that, with a little praise for the Lord and a lot of ammunition, they would prevail; and every citizen was reminded to remember Pearl Harbor.

Early American TV also celebrated American virtues.  Family shows weren’t about dysfunction, with snotty kids putting inept and helpless parents firmly in their place.  Instead, no matter the show’s name (Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch, The Ozzie and Harriet Show), the truth was that, in TV Land, Father (and Mother) always knew best.  And while these shows, in both tone and racial representation, may not have accurately reflected many of the homes in America, they nevertheless helped Americans aspire to be part of stable and loving families, with respectful, moral children.  As with early movies, TV shows through the early 1970s saw the nitty-gritty of America (again, it makes for good drama), but the American people, the ordinary families, the police officers, and the military, were the heroes, not the enemies.

Only in one area did old Hollywood deviate from the purer form of patriotism, and that was when it came to Roosevelt worshipo.  Generally speaking, old Hollywood movies shied away from blatant political statements, recognizing, no doubt, that their audience encompassed both Roosevelt lovers and haters.  Sometimes, though, a little propaganda was just too good to resist.  So it was that, in 1933, when Warner Brothers made Footlight Parade, starring James Cagney, neither Cagney, the studio, nor choreographer Busby Berkeley could resist including an homage to the WPA and Roosevelt in the wonderful grand finale, Shanghai Lil.  (The politics come in at about 2:15.)

Looking at this musical pièce de résistance now, over a distance of 76 years, the effect is not only visually spectacular (it is Busby Berkeley, after all), but tinged with an almost wholesome nostalgia.  I wonder, though, whether the more sophisticated crowd in 1933, who watched with horror as Roosevelt threw an already fragile economy into absolute chaos, was quite so charmed.

The years since John F. Kennedy have presented the spectacle of a media that entirely lacks the old-fashioned love of country that characterized early Hollywood.  Instead, modern media professes a wife-beater’s love for country, with films, magazines, books, television shows and songs that have been relentlessly hostile to American values, whether those values relate to economics, national security or old-fashioned societal morality.

On the economic front, in film after film after film, America is painted as an exploitative imperialist power, in thrall to shadowy corporations headed by evil white men.  A perfect example of this is 2005′s Syriana, a muddled mess with mega-watt star power.  If you have the stamina to try to sift through the inchoate plot, you learn that evil oil interests control the world.  The same year saw an equally muddled film with almost exactly the same plot:  The Constant Gardener. These movies, with their focus on the effect evil American corporations have on exploited Third Worlders abroad, were the natural successors to the two decade run of movies about the effect evil American corporations had poor Americans at home (think Norma Rae, Silkwood, and Erin Brockovich).

On the war front, Hollywood has been relentless in its attacks on American forces.  They are painted as brutish, stupid murders or innocent pawns, rather than people of intelligence, patriotism, bravery or integrity.  Again, examples abound.  The staggeringly dull and mean-spirited In the Valley of Elah (2007) is a case in point.  The IMDB plot summaries pretty much say it all.  One sums up the film as an example of “dirty little secrets with an impressive case of dehumanization caused by the invasion and consequent war in Iraq.”  The other explains that the movie shows “the failings of the military to adequately look out for the well-being of its soldiers.”  Valley of Elah is such a perfect example of Hollywood’s antipathy to the American military that I’ll stop here.  I know, though, that you can easily summon to mind other examples.

And then there are Hollywood’s most insidious attacks, those against mainstream American morality.  In 1999, the Hollywood establishment gave its best picture award to American Beauty, a bleak look at the depravity, ennui and despair that is, in Hollywood’s jaded eyes, Middle America.  That movie at least had the virtue of being up front in its challenge to American values.  As most parents will attest, though, the real problem is the dozens of movies coming out assuring America’s children that it’s totally okay to take drugs, drink, screw around, drop out of school and lie to ones parents.  Do this, and you will be amusing and very cool.

Even apparently innocuous movies such as The Sure Thing, which was ostensibly a remake of the delightful It Happened One Night, celebrate college drinking.  Its stars do it — so why shouldn’t you?  Then there’s one of my least favorite movies of all time, the one that left me with an abiding dislike for the heterosexual Tom Cruise:  Risky Business. It is almost impossible to imagine a more sordid movie than this tale of a high school student (played by a known teeny-bopper magnet) who turns his house into a brothel to raise cash, and then suffers (a term I use lightly) an eventual comeuppance that is minimal compared to his complete moral collapse.

Watch enough Hollywood movies — and people at home and abroad do — and the message you will receive is absolutely clear:  America is a despicable place, filled with despicable people who use its economic freedoms and its vast arsenal to enslave and destroy, both at home and abroad.  This is wife-beater patriotism.

While the entertainment world may show a wife-beater’s love for country, the opposite it true when it comes to Democratic presidents.  They are accorded a type of worship that skates eerily close to the state-mandated worship people in totalitarian regimes are required to show for their various “Dear” or “Great” leaders.  In Hollywood and Manhattan (the two geographic centers of American media) John F. Kennedy, a hawk and a fiscal conservative, has morphed into a Progressive politician who would have put his political life on the line for a socialist economy and a pacifist national security plan. Bill Clinton, a self-indulgent, sexually debauched leftist (although he had the good sense to move to the center when attacked) was portrayed on America’s TV screens as the innocent victim of sleazy attack politics launched either by white, male, corporate monsters or by white, male, Christian fanatics. And while he was never president, wannabe Teddy Kennedy on his death has been treated as a secular saint.  His unfortunate contretemps — cheating scandals, murder, treason, sexual debauchery and alcoholism — are presented as “flaws” and “mistakes” and “failings.”  The message to Americans, especially the young ones, is clear:  Feel free to kill, lie and cheat.  If your politics are pure and Progressive, we’ll always forgive you.

As for Barack Obama, I don’t even know where to begin with him.  Every mainstream TV show, whether news or gossip; every big time magazine, whether news, fashion or family; and every major newspaper, has focused relentlessly on the Obama personality cult.  The obsession with Obama’s wonderfulness has always been, of course, a necessary offset to the fact that his record, when not absent entirely, showed the kind of Leftist political extremism that would have frightened every ordinary American in flyover country (not to mention those in a few states and counties on either coast).  There is no better way to avoid his missing transcripts, his radical friendships and affiliates, his complete lack of executive experience, and his failed political initiatives than turning him into a cutting-edge red, white and blue poster; raving about his physical beauty (although I’ve always thought he looked more like Dopey than Depp); and announcing, based on the evidence of a single (possibly ghost-written) book that he was the second coming of Einstein in terms of intelligence.

Just as with Jesus, the secular faithful in the American media, those who hate the country but love the man, repeatedly told us that we could atone for our grievous sins as Americans by “coming to Obama.”  The Dear Leader would wash away our collective failings.  With this in mind, do not expect Hollywood to come out any time soon with Obama movies comparable to Nixon, The Reagans or W.  A movie about Obama is likely to be closer in emotional tone to The Passion of the Christ.

As always when it comes to Hollywood and television, it’s tempting to slough off its failings by say “it’s just entertainment.”  That’s the lazy way out, though.  With its spectacular reach, a reach that now extends around the world, and with its trained ability to drive messages home in the most entertaining way possible, what Hollywood does matters.  It shapes both foreign and domestic views of America (America is greedy and evil, and its own citizens hate it), and it warps our youth culture by assuring them that the most demeaning and debauched behavior is the surest way to popularity and success.

We can fight back, though.  Despite its chronic demonization of capitalism (the bad capitalism, of course, in the form of oil and manufacturing), the entertainment world is all about money.  We can vote with our feet.  Turn off shows or don’t pay for movies that offend your patriotism and your sense of values.  Also use social networking, such as twitter or facebook, to give your opinion of movies.  Just today, one of my facebook friends gave a succinct and very ugly review to Taking Woodstock, the latest Hollywood fairy-tale about the wonders of dirty hippies, mud, drugs and loud music.  His facebook friends may think twice about shelling out their hard-earned money on that movie.  We’ll never see Hollywood’s golden age again, but we don’t have to sit back silently and let the wife-beating, demagogue worshipping modern media have the last world.

I’ll write as soon as the straight-jacket comes off

I’m still recovering from a day spent running errands with the kids and taking care of my mother’s health needs.  (Mom’s okay but, after a brief hospitalization, needed some help sorting out meds.)  The straight-jacket reference isn’t to my mom’s situation, though, it’s to being the sole target of unrelenting kid energy.  I’m still shaking.  If we could bottle that stuff, we’d be off foreign energy sources forever.

I’ll be around later tonight or tomorrow.

Let’s pretend the first lady isn’t a klutz

Tell me honestly that this video wouldn’t have been the butt of a thousand MSM jokes and video replays if it showed either George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Dan Quayle, Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, or any other Republican White House occupant doing precisely the same thing:

I am, of course, sorry for any pain Mrs. Obama suffered — but then again, maybe it will have knocked some sense into her.

The price to free Gilad Shalit

This month marks the third anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s long imprisonment with the Palestinians who kidnapped him.  Although it doesn’t seem to show up in American press, German and Israeli outlets are reporting that the Germans (!?) have brokered a deal for his release.  Here’s Der Spiegel:

Three years ago he was kidnapped by Hamas. Will Israeli solder Gilad Shalit soon be freed as a result of negotiations conducted by Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service? Under a proposal forwarded by the Germans, at least 450 Palestinians would be released in exchange for the soldier. The deal must still be approved by Hamas.

Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, has put forward a concrete proposal in negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, Israel would release at least 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. After his release, the Israeli government has expressed a willingness to release further prisoners.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the prisoner releases be done as a humanitarian gesture and without any time pressure. Hamas has been given until the beginning of September to respond to the proposal.

The same story has been picked up in Israeli media sites, such as the Jerusalem Post and YNet news, although neither offers independent Israeli corroboration for the story.  The only corroboration comes from Palestinians, and I don’t count them as an historically reliable source.  According to the JPost:

Asked to comment on reports in some Arab media outlets about a breakthrough in the negotiations, [Hamas legislator] Bardaweel said: “It’s premature to talk about a deal. The German mediators are still in the process of gathering information.”

Bardaweel said that reports to the effect that a deal was imminent were aimed at exerting pressure on Hamas regarding the case of Schalit.

He added that the ball as still in the Israeli court and that if Israel really wanted to reach a deal, it could do so quickly by accepting the demands of Schalit’s captors.

Bardaweel said that despite the involvement of German mediators in the negotiations, the Egyptians were continuing to play a role to bridge the gap between Hamas and Israel.

Sources close to Hamas said that Ahmed Ja’bari, commander of the movement’s armed wing, was still in Cairo for talks with Egyptian General Intelligence officials about the prospects of reaching a deal with Israel.

YNet news expands upon the reference in the JPost article to Palestinian newspapers touting a deal:

Prisoner swap’s details have been finalized, sides await Netanyahu government’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reports; Shalit expected to be transferred to Egypt in first phase of deal

Coming back home? A swap for the release of IDF captive Gilad Shalit has been finalized and awaits Israel’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reported Saturday.

According to the report, all details of the deal have been worked out and the parties are now waiting for the Netanyahu government to endorse the agreement.

The United States and Syria played a key role in finalizing the deal, the paper said, nothing that this involvement prompted both Israel and Hamas to show more flexible positions.

According to the newspaper, the first phase of the deal will see Shalit handed over to Egypt following the release of Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank and Gaza. Sources in the know are quoted as saying that Israeli officials have expressed great reservations over the heavy price to be paid by Jerusalem in exchange for Shalit. Hence, the sources said, both PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak wish to see a broad public campaign that would pave the way for the deal’s approval.

As for me, I don’t trust either source, whether German or Palestinian.  The Germans have never been power brokers in the modern Mid-East, and their sudden emergence now is suspect.  And as for the Palestinians, I already mentioned their dubious history with regard to truth.

In any event, the story only says the Palestinians have agreed — and it may have been an easy agreement to reach because it’s a no lose for them.  If the agreement reaches fruition, they get 450 fighters return to them to kill another day.  If the agreement fails, they can boast that they agreed, and Israel refused to cooperate.

On Israel’s side, I’m ambivalent.  Gilad’s captivity is one of the great unsung human rights abuses in an area that comes under the media’s (and the UN’s) obsessive watchfulness.  Had an Arab been held captive in Israel for even three months without the due process Israel routinely accords such prisoners, it would have been a cause celebre in every paper in the world on a daily basis.  I want Gilad to come home.  On the other hand, setting a price on his release of 450 prisoners creates a huge incentive for the Palestinians to kidnap again and again.  For a small effort — securing one Israeli — they get a huge return.

Ignore Obama’s eulogy. Mark Steyn gives Teddy the eulogy he deserves

Obama spouted a maudlin mess about Kennedy today.  He didn’t even bother to mention by allusion to Kennedy’s “flaws” that little problem at Chappaquiddick:

Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate—a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself.

But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.” I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, a friend.

Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child, who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail.

[snip]

This spirit of resilience and good humor would see Ted Kennedy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen. He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible. [This would seem to be the appropriate point to at least reference his car accident -- although I guess "personal failings and setbacks" in "public" counts.]

[snip]

And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause—not through dealmaking and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor.  [Thanks to Ed Klein, we know all about the wonderful Kennedy humor.]

While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect—a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.

I can’t quote any more of this saccharine pap.  It’s warping my keyboard.

For a more accurate eulogy for the man who died, as opposed to the political operative, Mark Steyn has a few choice words — words made necessary by the fact that our American media resolutely refuses to recognize that this was not merely a “flawed” man who enacted legislation they liked, but a cheater, a traitor, and a murderer (and Steyn doesn’t even touch upon the first two attributes):

In this case, the unmentionable corpse is Mary Jo Kopechne, 1940–1969. If you have to bring up the, ah, circumstances of that year of decease, keep it general, keep it vague. As Kennedy flack Ted Sorensen put it in Time magazine: “Both a plane crash in Massachusetts in 1964 and the ugly automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 almost cost him his life.”

That’s the way to do it! An “accident,” “ugly” in some unspecified way, just happened to happen — and only to him, nobody else. Ted’s the star, and there’s no room to namecheck the bit players. What befell him was . . . a thing, a place.

[snip]

We are all flawed, and most of us are weak, and in hellish moments, at a split-second’s notice, confronting the choice that will define us ever after, many of us will fail the test. Perhaps Mary Jo could have been saved; perhaps she would have died anyway. What is true is that Edward Kennedy made her death a certainty. When a man (if you’ll forgive the expression) confronts the truth of what he has done, what does honor require? Six years before Chappaquiddick, in the wake of Britain’s comparatively very minor “Profumo scandal,” the eponymous John Profumo, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for War, resigned from the House of Commons and the Queen’s Privy Council, and disappeared amid the tenements of the East End to do good works washing dishes and helping with children’s playgroups, in anonymity, for the last 40 years of his life. With the exception of one newspaper article to mark the centenary of his charitable mission, he never uttered another word in public again.

Ted Kennedy went a different route. He got kitted out with a neck brace and went on TV and announced the invention of the “Kennedy curse,” a concept that yoked him to his murdered brothers as a fellow victim — and not, as Mary Jo perhaps realized in those final hours, the perpetrator. He dared us to call his bluff, and, when we didn’t, he made all of us complicit in what he’d done. We are all prey to human frailty, but few of us get to inflict ours on an entire nation.

[snip]

When a man is capable of what Ted Kennedy did that night in 1969 and in the weeks afterwards, what else is he capable of? An NPR listener said the senator’s passing marked “the end of civility in the U.S. Congress.” Yes, indeed. Who among us does not mourn the lost “civility” of the 1987 Supreme Court hearings? Considering the nomination of Judge Bork, Ted Kennedy rose on the Senate floor and announced that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution . . . ”

You can read the rest here.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Penguin Press elevates Obama to an oratorical pedestal he is ill-suited to occupy

My friend Zhombre was at the bookstore perusing the shelves when he came across a Penguin Press book entitled “The Inaugural Address, 2009.”  That’s well and good.  I’m sure there are some in America who want to clutch this banal speech as tightly to their chest as Chinese citizens were forced to do with Mao’s Little Red Book.  The only problem for Penguin was that the Address on its own doesn’t even make an adequate pamphlet.  Clearly, more material is needed.  Penguin’s obvious choice would have been to include the other speeches made at the Inauguration.  You remember this one:

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around. When yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.” (The Rev. Joseph Lowry.)

Oh, yeah!

But it’s just so pedestrian to pair the great orator with ordinary living mortals.  How much better to look into the past and give Obama the oratorical equivalent of a place on Mount Rushmore.  So now you can buy from Penguin Press a book that boasts this full title: “The Inaugural Address, 2009 : Together with Abraham Lincoln’s First and Second Inaugural Addresses and The Gettysburg Address and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance.

The publishing company explains its thinking, which is all about inspiring people because Lincoln and Emerson inspired Obama and Obama will inspire you, or something like that:

Tying into the official theme for the 2009 inaugural ceremony, “A New Birth of Freedom” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Penguin presents a keepsake edition commemorating the inauguration of President Barack Obama with words of the two great thinkers and writers who have helped shape him politically, philosophically, and personally: Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Having Lincoln and Emerson’s most influential, memorable, and eloquent words along with Obama’s historic inaugural address will be a gift of inspiration for every American for generations to come.

Well, yes. But let’s actually look at the paired rhetoric for a moment.  I’m not too, too familiar with Emerson’s writings, so I’ll just stick to a straight Lincoln/Obama comparison.  Here’s one of my favorite parts from Lincoln’s second inaugural address (which you can get for free on line):

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Nice.  Beautifully balanced clauses, a firmly stated moral principle, and a vision of a coherent national purpose.  Nor was this aberrant.  One only needs to read the most famous speech in American history to appreciate the Lincoln’s oratory had an elegance matched by very few since his time (Churchill, MLK, and who else?).  Here, in its entirety, is the Gettysburg address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

That is a truly exquisite piece of rhetoric.  It is also antithetical to everything the statist Obama stands for.  In the very first sentence, it speaks of liberty and the equality of opportunity.  Obama craves state control and forced “equality of outcome.”  In the swelling final paragraph, aside from truly honoring the war dead (in stark contrast to our current president who wouldn’t visit the war wounded in 2008 because his entourage couldn’t witness his beneficence), Lincoln states with absolute clarity his belief that a God’s guiding hand shall ensure that the people — all the people — have a say in their destinies:  “[W]e here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

You and I are grown-ups, and we understand that, in a representative democracy, the fact is that people do not get a vote on every single issue facing the government.  Instead, they vote for their representatives who are supposed to, well, represent them.  It is not “government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people” when our elected officials refer to us as “evil-mongers” or try to label ordinary Americans as card-carrying Nazis for opposing Congress’ will.  Obama, the one Penguin claims was “shape . . . politically, philosophically, and personally” by Lincoln’s stirring words, is no better:

“We’ve got some work to do. I don’t mind, by the way, being responsible. I expect to be held responsible for these issues because I’m the president,” Obama said. “But I don’t want the folks that created the mess — I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.

“I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking,” Obama said.

Of course, the above statement was just an off-the-teleprompter moment before a friendly crowd. Obama can be forgiven for failing to soar to rhetorical heights or even ordinary human decency. Let’s be fair to him and get back to the whole point of this article, which is Penguin’s easy assurance that Obama’s first (and, we hope, only) Inaugural Speech deserves to be bundled with Lincoln’s tight-composed, visionary rhetoric.

I’m going to play it straight here and ignore the speech’s policy wonkery (which drags the speech down) and instead look for the most elevated passages, passages that boast either beautiful prose or national vision, or both.  That’s a little unfair to Lincoln, whose speeches were very tightly written, since this approach sheers off the laundry list of interest groups to which Obama had to pander during the speech.  Nevertheless, it’s more fair to Obama, in that it lets us look without blinders at the best rhetoric our new President has to offer.  I’ll let you decide if they belong in the same book as Lincoln’s speeches:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

[snip]

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.  [I include the whole paragraph, although only the first part deserves rhetorical note.  The second part is just a laundry list of Democratic grievances.]

[snip]

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. [The preceding sentence takes on a certain ironic charm in August 2009, doesn't it?] We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn. ["Khe Sahn"?  I know.  We already went over this sop to the anti-War Left back in January.]

[snip]Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.  [This is an "almost" in the oratory category.  There's some soaring rhetoric, but basically it's an attack against Obama's perpetual bugaboo -- the strawmen.]

[snip]

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. [Ugly language, but strong sentiments -- all of which he immediately abandoned, although that's another story.]

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

That’s enough. The rest of the speech is a laundry-list. It’s dull, uninspired and has the vision only of someone who sees his own nation as an endless to-do list that must be accomplished to whip this national bad boy into shape.

So I’ll just ask you again:  Did Penguin package Obama appropriately, or has he been elevated far above his natural oratorical station?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Rep. Diane Watson probably isn’t that into toilet paper anyway

This morning, I sort of glossed over the story of Representative Diane Watson (a Dem, of course), singing Castro’s praises to high heaven, as part of a broader attack against all of the One’s racist enemies, who are trying to destroy America just to destroy a black man:

Here’s the money quote:

It was just mentioned to me by our esteemed speaker did anyone say anything about the Cuban health system?  Now let me tell you, before you say “Oh [uintelligible]“, you need to go down there and say what Fidel Castro put in place.  And I want you to know now you can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met.  And you know, the Cuban revolution that kicked out the wealthy, Che Guevara did that.  And then after they took over, they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation.  And they found, well, just leave it there (laughs) an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro.

(Hat tip:  Hot Air)

As I said, I ignored the story because it was just another far Left Dem bad-mouthing America by praising Castro.  I would have continued to ignore it if Sadie hadn’t sent me an email that left me wondering if Ms. Watson would be quite so impressed if found herself in a Cuban hospital, wiping her butt with old newspaper:

There’s good news and bad news in Cuba.

The bad news: There’s a shortage of toilet paper, and officials in Havana say it will not ease until the end of the year.

The good news: Day-old copies of the Communist party’s newspaper Granma, a traditional substitute, are available for less than a U.S. penny. And that’s six to eight full, if rough, pages per day.

Cuban officials say the shortage is the result of the global financial crisis and three devastating hurricanes last summer, which forced cuts in imports as well as domestic production because of reductions in electricity and imports of raw materials.

But CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria says that “at the bottom of this toilet paper shortage is Cuba’s continuing commitment to its bizarro world of socialist economics.”

[snip]

The toilet paper shortage is no joking matter for Cubans.

Toilet paper is not included in the ration card that covers basic goods at highly subsidized prices, so Cubans have long been forced to buy their supplies at so-called “hard currency stores” or use alternatives — Chinese and North Korean magazines have been a favorite because of their soft paper.

I, for one, am betting that, if Ms. Watson visits Cuba, she’s put in a luxury, party-run hotel with lots of Charmin, and taken to the same beautiful, shiny clinics that treat Castro, his buddies, and just about no one else.

The media is out of love with the man, not the agenda

The American people and the media are both souring on Barack Obama, but there’s a very different tone to the changed attitudes.

American people were promised, and voted for, a post-racial, post-partisan black man who was politically moderate and sufficiently brilliant to handle an executive job (tho’ he’d never had one before).  (And it helped that he was not George Bush.)  While those of us who were paying attention knew that every one of those attributes — but for the “not Bush” one — was false, ordinary people were stunned to discover that they’d been lied too.  Obama is, in fact, a racially obsessed, anti-American, political extremist who, thank goodness, is a fairly inept executive.  They dislike what he stands for and the policies he pushes.  And so the poll numbers fall.

The media’s disillusionment is quite different.  Media members knew that Obama wa not post-racial and was not moderate.  They truly believed, though, that he was competent.  Unlike members of the American public, media members liked Obama’s well-hidden agenda.  Their problem isn’t that they’ve discovered Obama is a racially obsessed, anti-American political extremist.  Their problem is his executive incompetence, which means he currently does not seem capable of passing the secret agenda that media members so desired.

Because the media’s and the public’s disappointment in Obama stem from two radically different sources — with Americans upset that the agenda was a lie, and the media upset that the ability to carry out the agenda was a lie — I wonder how that will affect (a) news coverage and (b) Americans’ response to that coverage.

“It ain’t [America] no more” *UPDATED with video*

This is an interesting video, in which a police officer tells a protester to remove his anti-ObamaCare sign from public school property.  A “helpful” bystander explains that the Supreme Court has barred this type of speech.  Frankly, without doing even minimal research, I do not know what the rules are for protest when you’re on public school property.  I understand that public schools cannot be used for prayer and that principals can control student clothes, lockers and publications, but it’s a new one to me that, during non-school hours, all political protest is barred on public property, especially protest with pictures.

Regardless of what the specific laws are, what is unpleasant about this video is the cop’s closing line:  “It ain’t [America] no more.”

It’s entirely possible that the officer’s final statement was just a harassed, non-obscene version of a “f*** you” to an irritating member of the public, but it still sounds appalling to hear him say it.

UPDATE:  Here’s the video:

An old Jewish joke and Kennedy’s Catholicism

The news lines are aflutter with the fact that the Vatican has kept mum about Kennedy’s death.  This is scarcely surprising given that Kennedy, although raised a Catholic, took (and sought to use his political power to impose on America) political positions that are anathema to the Church:

Edward Kennedy, it can be said, was not cut out for the priestly life. His first marriage to former model Virginia Joan Bennett, ended in divorce in 1982, with the marriage annulled by the Roman Rota more than a decade later. And there are the infamous episodes in his life that showed a man not quite in control of his demons. But ultimately, beyond his personal travails, Kennedy’s relationship with the Church hierarchy was destined for conflict because of politics. The Senator became both the face and engine of the liberal wing of the Democratic party that has long led the battle for abortion rights, stem cell research and gay marriage, all of which Catholic doctrine strictly forbids.

So really, considering that Kennedy rather brutishly pushed aside moral and doctrinal issues central to the Catholic faith, one has to wonder just how much of a Catholic he really was.  Which leads me to my Jewish joke:

Sammy Goldberg made it big in business, and the first thing he did was to go out and buy a very big yacht.  The second thing he did was to invite his mother on board so that she could see him in all his glory.  He met her in a lovely uniform he’d designed himself, complete with stripes on the sleeves, gold buttons and captain’s hat.

As his mother boarded, Sammy said to her, “Look at me, Ma.  I’m a captain!”

To which his mother replied:  “Sammy, by me you’re a captain and by you you’re a captain.  But tell me, by captains are you a captain?”

One can easily say the same of Kennedy’s affiliation with the faith of his childhood — and one can forgive the Vatican for its studied silence.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

With regard to bike helments and Obama, it’s do as I say, not as I do

It’s such a little thing, but it’s such a big reminder that Obama, hectorer in chief, really does feel that he is above all the things that he tells the little people to do:

President Obama took a bike ride with his family today in Aquinnah, on Martha’s Vineyard. The First Family cruised along Lobsterville Beach on a gorgeous sunny day but there was one glaring omission in an otherwise picture perfect tableau – the president was not wearing a bike helmet.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said he did not know why the president was not wearing a helmet because he generally does.

“He supports the wearing of bicycle helmets,” Burton said.

Go here to see the accompanying video.

Perhaps Obama was worried that the helmet would mess with his hair.  I learned today at the New York Times that African-Americans are obsessed with their hair, which they see not merely as protein product emerging from their scalp that needs to be groomed, but as a deep political issue.  Thus, they think white people are perpetually judging their hair.  They remind me of the 14 year old who is convinced that everyone is looking at her.  That’s almost never the case.  It’s just that, in the adolescent’s fevered world view, she’s convinced that she is the center of the universe, and that she’s managed to set out from the house with her fly unzipped.

Message to all people about their hair:  everyone is not looking at you.  If you like what you see in the mirror, and you’re not spending more time and money on your hair than you can manage, stop worrying about other people.  (As for Obama, of course, people are looking at him, but he has a wonderfully easy hairstyle.)

By the way, I’m a big fan of bike helmets, something beautifully demonstrated when my daughter, in a spill from her bike, ended up with a small bruise on her forehead, rather than a huge concussion on her brain.

Stephen Hawking’s health care and the NHS

I used Stephen Hawking as an example, not of Britain’s failed health care, but of the fact that, under socialized medicine, famous people and politicos always get the gold standard.  Charlie (Colorado) kindly pointed out that I’d erred.  In fact, Hawking got sick before he got famous.  That is an interesting point, since it implies that, even when he didn’t get gold standard care, his treatment under the NHS was still sufficient to keep him alive despite his ALS.  It turns out that the Hawking health story is even more complicated than that.  It doesn’t stand for my argument that he got nomenklatura treatment, at least in the beginning of his illness, but it also doesn’t put a very good face on the NHS either:

Hawking biographers Michael White and John Gribben, in the second edition of their 2003 book, “Stephen Hawking, A Life In Science,” found that back when Hawking was less well-known, NHS wasn’t nearly as good to him.

In the mid-1960s, Hawking’s father became disillusioned with the care Hawking was getting from NHS and took over his son’s treatment himself, doing his own research and prescribing vitamins.

On his own Web site, Hawking recalls that private help was also critical. “I caught pneumonia in 1985,” he says. “I had to have a tracheotomy operation. After this, I had to have 24-hour nursing care. This was made possible by grants from several foundations.”

White and Gribben describe what that meant: “The best the National Health Service could offer was seven hours’ nursing help a week . . . They would have to pay for private nursing. It was obvious they would have to find financial support from somewhere.

“Jane (his wife) wrote letter after letter to charitable organizations around the world and called upon the help of family friends in approaching institutions that might be interested in assisting them.

“Help arrived from an American foundation aware of Hawking’s work and international reputation, which agreed to pay £50,000 a year toward the costs of nursing. Shortly afterward several other charitable organizations on both sides of the Atlantic followed suit with smaller donations.

I hope you caught the irony there — it was Americans who stepped in and saved Hawkings’ life when the NHS was willing to abandon his care.