Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans Have Better Mental Health Than Others

Remember those studies liberals like to link to that call conservatism a disease? Well, maybe liberals think it's a disease, but Republicans actually report much better mental health than others, including liberals.

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education.

Unsurprising, really.

Something That Fits My Mood Today...

And I love Rascal Flatts!

Book Review: That's Not News, That's Fark

When I first saw Drew Curtis's book at the library, I knew just from the subtitle it was going to be a great book. The subtitle is How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap as News.

Curtis runs Fark.com, a site devoted to all the garbage the networks, newspapers, cable, and radio try to pass off as news. Now Curtis has put together a book categorizing this junk into lists ranging from "Fearmongering" to "The Out-of-Context Celebrity Quote" to "Equal Time for Nutjobs."

You don't have to get far into Fark before you start recognizing the stories. Remember those stories about how bacteria is going to kill us all? Or the runaway bride (my God, she's got a Wikipedia entry!)? Or Justice Scalia's rude gesture? Yep, those are all examples of the crap media parades for us as news.

It's easy to identify the junk. Every top 10 list qualifies as well as every natural disaster, even those that didn't quite live up to expectations. And let's not even start with the how to articles.

Walter Cronkite once stated that almost everything that appears on the nightly news isn't news, it's filler. He was right when he said it, and the news has only gotten worse since then.

What Curtis points out (in his very humorous way) is that real news could be boiled down to a (roughly) 5 minute broadcast. The problem is, of course, that the 24-hour news cycle has created a need for news whether that news is real, fake, manufactured, or "fake but accurate."

Fark is a fun read and makes me remember some of my funnier moments in journalism. In fact, reading Fark is a bit like sitting in a bar nursing a beer with Curtis (I'd find that entertaining), only without the beer and, well, the bar. Very few books make me laugh out loud or say, "Honey, listen to this," but Fark has both. I'd recommend Fark to any recovering journalist (like me) or anyone interested in news. Even if you didn't learn anything, you'd be entertained. Which is a little like junk news, eh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Were We Right Not to Trust the CNN/YouTube Debate?

I originally had that title as a statement, but now that I've thought about it more, I'm not so sure. Michelle Malkin has the round-up of plants at the CNN/YouTube debate. Sadly, it was predictable that the "questioners" weren't really interested in Republican candidates at all. There were multiple Democrat candidate supporters among the supposed "independents."

Mary Katherine Ham has more.

Captain Ed thinks the questioners were suspect but the questions fine. I tend to agree that our candidates need to be able to handle the tough questions. I don't like obfuscation, though.

It's Fun Watching Liberals in a Snit

Echidne of the Snakes got her panties in a wad (yes, Echidne, that word choice was intentional. Now go make a whole post on how misogynist it is) because I pointed out that the way she gives thanks on Thanksgiving is by giving a "thoughtful" (some would say "puckered") view of life which included blasting multiple groups with which she disagrees. So exemplifies liberal "thanksgiving."

Judging from her comments, what bothered her most was that I had the audacity to criticize her at my own blog. The horror! It's not like that sort of thing doesn't happen all the time when lefty blogs have a bone to pick with me. But revealingly, she was most upset that I said I wouldn't tolerate "twisting my arguments" in my comments. Now, in classic style, challenging her arguments is twisting them.

On a recent thread, one concerning how badly women are faring in Iraq, she stated,

I was opposed to the Iraq invasion for many reasons, and especially for the reasons of avoiding unnecessary blood-letting(.)

My response was
So, the blood-letting under Saddam Hussein was necessary?

According to Echidne this was "twisting her argument." As I tried to explain, there was no twisting involved; we had a ruthless dictator who gassed his own people, invaded his neighbors, supported terrorists (by paying their families), and attempted to have the POTUS assassinated as head of state in Iraq. If there were ever "unnecessary blood-letting," I would say that qualified and that, by comparison, the pain of war was more understandable (if not "necessary").

Echidne has gone on to set up a few strawman arguments to support the contention that I was "twisting" her argument as opposed to challenging her assumption, but the point is the same. What is "unnecessary blood-letting" and who decides? Must one make a list of "World's Most Ruthless Dictators" and cross each off the list in order before one can consider action anywhere?

What I mainly noticed was that Echidne avoided my original question: was the blood-letting under Saddam necessary?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dear Hollywood

Dear Hollywood,
Have you gotten the message yet? Has the complete failure of every anti-American movie you've produced over the last two years driven home the news that Americans won't support anti-American war movies?

You'd think when Syriana tanked that those greedy Hollywood moguls would have understood. But no, they just kept producing terrible film after terrible film, portraying American soldiers as rapists and murderers. They star big Hollywood names, which is usually a box office draw. But no, Americans still refuse to watch that propaganda. And Hollywood can't even blame the writers' strike for their woes.

Maybe what you need is some therapy, Hollywood. You know, for your Bush Derangement Syndrome? For your hatred of our liberation of Iraq from a ruthless dictator? It's funny (well, not really). I thought the left cared about human rights. That's why you were so against human rights abuses (the real kind, I mean. You know, where people get stuffed into woodchippers and things like that). But no. You're too busy making stuff up and saying that it's emblematic of what Americans are doing in Iraq.

It's sad, very sad, watching Hollywood destroy any remaining credibility on its BDS. Maybe in 50 years, they can produce a movie that actually shows Americans doing something right for a change. Until then, we'll just have to keep boycotting their crap.

Bill Clinton Lies Again...Is Anyone Surprised?

Bill Clinton just flat out lies about his thoughts on Iraq in this New York Times piece.


During a campaign swing for his wife, former President Bill Clinton said flatly yesterday that he opposed the war in Iraq “from the beginning” — a statement that is more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003.

Before the invasion, Mr. Clinton did not precisely declare that he opposed the war. A week before military action began, however, he did say that he preferred to give weapons inspections more time and that an invasion was not necessary to topple Saddam Hussein.

At the same time, he also spoke supportively about the 2002 Senate resolution that authorized military action against Iraq.

It's hard to support a resolution authorizing military action then assert that you didn't support invasion, but Bill Clinton--the man who didn't know what the definition of "is" is--tries again.

Sweetness & Light has video from 1998 when Clinton ordered bombing in Iraq. Some speculated that it was an attempt to distract from his impeachment hearings (heavens, no!), but let's suppose he really meant it when he said:
Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

It's hard to square that statement--or his support of the Senate resolution authorizing military action--with the idea that he "never" supported the war in Iraq.

Remember, we'll get four to eight more years of this crap if you elect Hillary. And conservatives aren't the only ones groaning at the thought of this. Liberals are too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Do States Legalize Marriage?

Stephen Coontz asks that question in this piece at the New York Times today. His conclusions, however, are both simplistic and naive.

Coontz characterizes the origins of legal marriage accurately. Nearly anything was considered a "licit" marriage by the early church, including the simple act of living in the same house. It was only as the state started recognizing various obligations and benefits that the idea of "legal marriage" came into being. And by the 1950s and 1960s, the state was using marriage as the vehicle to determine a variety of benefits.

The Social Security Act provided survivors’ benefits with proof of marriage. Employers used marital status to determine whether they would provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information.

Coontz points out (quite correctly) that marriage was easy shorthand for legitimacy since very few people cohabited. But, he argues, marriage shouldn't be that marker any longer because so many people do cohabit these days.

The problem with this argument was that people used all sorts of shorthand to signify marriage because there was no standard available to them. And let's face it; if you were 50 miles from the nearest clergy, jumping the broomstick would seem to satisfy the bill.

But that's not true of today's cohabiting couples. They can marry any time of the day or night (if you go to Vegas) and there are nearly no restrictions on who can marry whom. There aren't even blood tests required in most jurisdictions anymore. So, why not get married?
As Nancy Polikoff, an American University law professor, argues, the marriage license no longer draws reasonable dividing lines regarding which adult obligations and rights merit state protection. A woman married to a man for just nine months gets Social Security survivor’s benefits when he dies. But a woman living for 19 years with a man to whom she isn’t married is left without government support, even if her presence helped him hold down a full-time job and pay Social Security taxes. A newly married wife or husband can take leave from work to care for a spouse, or sue for a partner’s wrongful death. But unmarried couples typically cannot, no matter how long they have pooled their resources and how faithfully they have kept their commitments.

Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep — who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.

Coontz doesn't address the real reason the state uses marriage as a determiner for benefits: the marital designation signifies a permanency (however fictional this may be in modern times) of the relationship. In other words, shacking up with someone may be nice for a few months or so, but nothing tells the state you plan to stick together like marriage. This is, after all, one of the arguments gay marriage supporters use: that they desire the government to recognize the permanency of their choices.

But above all, the state has the right to determine which relationships it will encourage and which it will simply remain neutral about. That's essentially the difference between cohabiting (or gay relationships) and marriage. The main reason the state sanctions marriage is because of its beneficial effects for children (and also adults). Because parents caring for their own children tend to be less of a burden for the state, it is logical for the state to encourage this relationship.

But cohabiting couples don't necessarily have the same beneficial effect on society as married couples do. And contrary to popular belief, cohabiting couples are less likely to get married than couples who don't live together.

It's sad that we live in a time where people genuinely don't seem to understand why marriage is an important marker, both for governmental purposes and more private ones. But then again, maybe that reinforces the argument used against altering marriage laws: marriage is supposed to mean something, not be just another "licit" act.

Taking Competition Too Far

I've heard beauty pageants are very competitive, but I never realized people resort to sabotage to win. But that's what happened in Puerto Rico:

Beauty pageant organizers were investigating Sunday who doused a contestant's evening gowns with pepper spray and spiked her makeup, causing her to break out in hives.

Beauty queen Ingrid Marie Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said.

Rivera was composed while appearing before cameras and judges throughout the competition. But once backstage, she had to strip off her clothes and apply ice bags to her face and body, which swelled and broke out in hives twice.

"We thought at first it was an allergic reaction, or maybe nerves," Rosario said. "But the second time, we knew it couldn't have been a coincidence."

Rivera's clothing and makeup later tested positive for pepper spray.

Someone also stole Rivera's bag containing her gowns, makeup and credit cards. And a bomb threat forced pageant officials to postpone the last day of competition on Thursday, said Magali Febles, director of the Miss Puerto Rico Universe pageant.

Sounds a little too competitive to me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is What It Takes Really What It Takes?

Mark Halperin questions the current political theology: that the candidate who does best in the race is the best person for president.

Halperin takes our most recent presidents (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) and uses them as examples for why being the best candidate might not make one the best president.

For instance, being all things to all people worked wonderfully well for Bill Clinton the candidate, but when his presidency ran into trouble, this trait was disastrous, particularly in the bumpy early years of his presidency and in the events leading up to his impeachment. The fun-loving campaigner with big appetites and an undisciplined manner squandered a good deal of the majesty and power of the presidency, and undermined his effectiveness as a leader. What much of the country found endearing in a candidate was troubling in a president.

I think Halperin is right about Clinton's government-by-polls approach to governing. While it sounded nice originally (who doesn't want a president that is responsive to the people?), eventually, it became very problematic when President Clinton wound up backtracking late in his presidency over issues he seemed to embrace earlier (I personally gave up on Clinton the day he said the 1993 tax hikes--which many of us had defended to family and friends--might have been too big). In short, most people aren't consistent in their opinions from day to day. Governing by those opinions is bound to lead to trouble.

This was also one of the reasons many people flocked to George W. Bush as a candidate who "said what he meant and meant what he said." It was refreshing to have someone who wasn't going to equivocate over the meaning of the word "is" or bring a trail of sordid scandals through the White House. But Halperin discusses the downside of Bush's style.
As with Mr. Clinton, though, the very campaign strengths that got Mr. Bush elected led to his worst moments in office. Assuredness became stubbornness. His lack of lifelong ambition for the presidency translated into a failure to apply himself to the parts of the job that held less interest for him, often to disastrous effects. The once-appealing life outside of government and public affairs became a far-less appealing lack of experience. And Mr. Bush’s close-knit team has served as a barrier to fresh advice.

Unfortunately, whenever we get into these "the system is broke" arguments, there never seems to be a better option than the one we already exercise. Sure, it would be nice if we could rely on the primary system to actually pick the best president, but that doesn't seem to work that well. But what is the alternative?

Archbishop: U.S. "Worst" Imperialist

Sometimes, you want to tell the clergy--politely--to spend its time dealing with some of its more pressing problems as opposed to pontificating on things it obviously doesn't understand and cannot control.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.

Really? Worse than the way Britain treated its American colonies, for example? Worse than the abuses which led directly to our third amendment or the Boston Tea Party?

Oh, the Archbishop wasn't talking about the way the British treated us. He was talking about India.
He contrasted it unfavourably with how the British Empire governed India. “It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the British Empire did — in India, for example.

“It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Iraq, for example.”

Oddly enough, I don't recall President Bush ever suggesting that we would use "a quick burst of violent action" and then "move on." I hardly think the trillions we've spent in rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure can be accurately characterized as "moving on" and letting "other people" put the country back together again.

Oddly enough, if the Archbishop had spent his time dealing with the impending split in his own church, he might not stand accused of waiting for "other people" to put it back together again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Conservatives Just Aren't Fun, According to Zogby

Want to know who to invite to your next party? According to this Zogby poll, invite a bunch of liberals and moderates. The conservatives are all a bunch of prudes.

Ok, it doesn't say that exactly, but here's how it describes conservative entertainment:

People with a “red” entertainment preference think a lot of programming is in bad taste and doesn’t reflect their values. They don’t like a lot of things on TV, but their two favorite channels are Fox and Fox News. They like sports, especially football and auto racing, and they watch news and business programming. They don’t like most contemporary music and they don’t watch VH1 or MTV. They don’t much like late-night TV. They like to go to sporting events, and when they do go to the movies – which is rarely – they seek out action-adventure films. They’re not big book readers, but when they do read, they prefer non-fiction. When they read fiction, they often select mysteries and thrillers. They are more likely to listen to country and gospel than other people, but their favorite music is classical. They don’t play a lot of video games, but when they do, Madden NFL and Mario are their favorites. They think that fictional TV shows and movies are politically biased, and they believe they can predict a person’s politics if they know the person’s entertainment preferences.

Talk about a bunch of sticks-in-the-mud! When I see poll results like this, I have to question who got polled and when. I don't find it hard to believe, for example, that conservatives don't like much of what's on TV. There's not really much there to like unless you like political brainwashing, lowbrow humor, or political brainwashing disguised as drama. It's no wonder conservatives lean toward reality shows; it's harder to get the liberal storyline into those.

I take issue with some of the other findings. For example, conservatives like classical music more than country? Maybe in New York City, but not anywhere else. And it's small wonder conservatives like non-fiction better than fiction. Conservatives tend to be analytical and reflective.

And who should wonder that conservatives think TV shows and movies are politically biased? Anyone who's looked at the box office over the last few months would notice a certain pattern. If Hollywood wants conservatives to start going to the movies, produce more movies like Bella and make movies where our soldiers aren't the bad guys.

Unlike the conservatives, who (I guess) sit around picking their toenails for entertainment, liberals love the entertainment media.
People with a “blue” entertainment preference like many of (sic) different types of programming, even if it doesn’t reflect their taste or values. They shy away from a lot of primetime programming, especially game shows and reality TV, but they like comedies, drama, documentaries, news, and arts and educational programming. They love 60 Minutes, PBS, HBO, Comedy Central and The Daily Show. They go to the movies, where they often see comedies, and they like to go to live theater and museums and galleries. They read books more often than most people – they prefer fiction to non-fiction, but their favorite genre is politics and current events. They enjoy entertainment with political themes, and they feel like they learn about politics from entertainment. Sports are less interesting to them, but football is their favorite, and they’re more likely to follow soccer than other people. They like lots of different kinds of music (except country) and they watch MTV and VH1. They play video games a lot more than other people – Mario and The Sims are favorites.

Again, I have to wonder how this poll was done. Are people simply self-identifying? When I was more liberal, I thought I liked watching, reading, and listening to a variety of opinions, too. The problem is that most of those opinions actually came from the left, whether it was watching 60 Minutes, listening to NPR, or watching a political thriller (which invariably had a conservative bad guy that I thought was just true to life, not a stereotype). And I have no doubt liberals think they learn about politics from entertainment since entertainment is full of their values and beliefs.

Finally, there were the moderates, a group Zogby called "purples."
People with “purple” entertainment preferences like all the broadcast networks and a lot of primetime programming, including police procedurals, game shows and reality programming. They watch a lot of Fox News and they like daytime and children’s programming more than other people. Moderates like to read non-fiction, including self-help books and biographies, but they like mysteries and thrillers best. Rock music is their favorite – they don’t like classical or folk music as much as other people. Their favorite video games are Mario, Donkey Kong and Madden NFL. They don’t seek out entertainment with political themes and they are far less likely to read books about politics or current events than other people. They are less likely than other people to think that they can predict a person’s politics based on their entertainment preferences.

So, moderates don't know anything about politics, like to watch children's programming and read self-help books. That pretty well sums up the stereotype of a moderate, doesn't it?

Again, I'm not sure who Zogby actually talked to for this survey. It doesn't sound like they talked to any real conservatives because almost everything stated about conservatives sounds either stereotypical (they find political bias around every corner!) or just plain wrong (they prefer classical music!). And given the widespread popularity of games like World of Warcraft and other games, I find it impossible to believe that conservatives don't play games.

I Found a Funny at Pandagon!

No, really.


This follows the rather sad defense of sex by Amanda Marcotte. Well, I'm glad she cleared that up. I've been afraid for a year that she just didn't like sex, given her opinions about having children.

Struggling to Find Bad News

Since things have been going better in Iraq, it's getting harder and harder for the MSM and moonbats on blogs to find bad news to harangue about. Pandagon tries to point out the horrific desertion rates of this war...the worst since 1980!

Nowhere in the Pandagon story does it mention actual desertion rates. It talks about the abandonment rates during the Vietnam War era as being the worst in history at about 5 percent. According to the Pentagon, about 1,500,000 soldiers went AWOL during Vietnam. "Official estimates of the actual number of service members who went AWOL or deserted run between 500,000 (Pentagon) and 550,000 (officials in the Ford Administration)."

So, what are the numbers Pandagon uses as "proof" that soldiers hate this war?

According to the Army, about nine in every 1,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared to nearly seven per 1,000 a year earlier. Overall, 4,698 soldiers deserted this year, compared to 3,301 last year.

I'm not a math person, but isn't 1,500,000 a much greater number of deserters (and it doesn't include all the ways a person can desert the army) than 7,999? And even if you add in the totals from the Navy (1,129 for 2007), the Air Force (56--yes, 56), and the Marines (744 for 2004), it doesn't come anywhere close to 1.5 million.

I guess it's hard to make the case that soldiers hate the war when, whell, the statistics don't even back you up.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Glad the French Got This One Right

French prosecutors have thrown out an idiotic lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with human rights abuses.

The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday.

The plaintiffs, who included the French-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said Rumsfeld had authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses.

The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office.

The moonbats screamed. Normal people weren't surprised.

Bad Economy? Riiight...

Saw this story on Yahoo today, headlined Despite economy, malls and stores jammed.

Malls and stores were jammed for pre-dawn discounts on everything from TVs to toys on the official start of Christmas shopping as consumers shrugged off worries about rising gas prices and falling home values.

You have to work hard to talk down the economy when people are out Christmas shopping, I guess.

I can testify that the malls were packed yesterday. I had lunch with a longtime friend at Grapevine Mills, then tried to do a little bargain hunting. The mall was absolutely packed, even though the parking lot wasn't. I guess the shoppers didn't get the message they are supposed to be unable to afford Christmas this year.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Abortion and Sterilization for a Greener Earth

The Daily Mail of the U.K. has this story of young women having abortions and wanting to be sterilized to "save" the planet.

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time.

He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery.

Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way.

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.

I've always been surprised that doctors won't perform sterilizations on young women who want them. I'd rather a woman get sterilized at 20 because she doesn't want children than to have abortions at 22, 24, 25, 29, and 34 because she was one of the women that either didn't take contraception properly or who was simply one of the oopsie statistics.

I understand, to some extent, the argument doctors make about not sterilizing young, fertile people. After all, young adults have a horrible track record for good decision-making. And there's always the chance these women could change their minds.

But there are also many doctors who make a fine living reversing these sterilization procedures. Or adoption. Don't forget adoption.

So, as aghast as the Daily Mail is about women wanting sterilizations for silly reasons (my one baby is going to destroy the planet!), I cheer them for the decision not to bring offspring into the world for which they are unwilling to care. After all, if they are so selfish that they think having offspring is selfish, wait until they expect other people's children to be paying for their social services for the elderly.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Unlike the folks at Echidne's site, I find plenty to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for family and friends, healthy and (at least) reasonably happy.

I'm thankful for one more Thanksgiving with Dad.

I'm thankful for a warm home and enough to eat.

I'm thankful that there are those willing to fight for freedom around the world, protecting us and preventing future 9/11s.

I'm thankful my kids don't go to school in Seattle. I have to do enough deprogramming as it is.

I'm thankful I'm not blind to facts presented on video like Digby, who thinks resisting arrest should be acceptable and that when an officer repeatedly explains what one is being arrested for, that doesn't constitute warning.

Most of all, I'm thankful that I live in a country where even the people screaming we don't have free speech still have free speech.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Favorite Thanksgiving Joke

A friend of mine who always sends me corny jokes sent me this a couple of years ago and it is still my favorite Thanksgiving joke. I hope everyone enjoys it!

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Way Liberals Give Thanks

Echidne of the Snakes has a series of sarcastic posts about things to be grateful for.

Personally, I'm grateful I'm not so puckered as to think such posts are a reflection of life as it really is. I'm also grateful for the fact that, for some reason, Echidne de-banned me and has allowed me for the last month to comment on her blog. We'll see how long that lasts.

UPDATE: My comment on Echidne's "giving thanks" posts has created quite the stir over at her site. The comments are particularly insightful. Echidne and I have big differences in the way we treat communications and there's clearly a gap in our memories. Recall, for example, this post, in which I pointed out the similarity between the hate mail Amanda Marcotte received and the hate mail Michelle Malkin received. Echidne contested that such hate mail comes far more from the right than the left (without any studies to back this up). I've always considered communications--whether by e-mail, post & comment, telephone, or whatever--to be fair game for comments. Apparently, Echidne doesn't feel the same way I do and didn't appreciate me commenting about a post from her blog at my site.

But the fact is, we all comment a lot about other people's posts. It's a large part of what blogging is.

She also has a different memory of what led to my original banning at her site. She claims I was blogging under another name and that that was why she banned me. But the truth is (as I said in this post), I was banned because other regular commenters didn't like my comments.

I've said before that blogmasters can put whatever rules of engagement they like on their sites. Some allow virtually any comment. Some allow comments with restrictions. Some allow no comments at all. And some blogs allow comments but will randomly ban people for unknown--and unknowable infractions of unstated rules.

Personally, I don't mind anyone commenting at my site (or commenting on my posts at Dana's site). What I do mind is when people distort or outright lie about my positions in order to make their own arguments (yes, Jes, I know you are still reading). If your argument can't support itself without such strawmen, don't bother making it. Like Patterico, I don't feel obligated to give a forum to such things. Other than that, feel free to argue, debate, and comment as much as you like...even if other commenters don't like it.

UPDATE x2: This is in no way to say I find Echidne's site uninteresting. Some of the posts are fascinating and the comments are always a good way to look into the thought processes of your average feminist. Echidne tries to be polite to people, even people with whom she disagrees. Her commenters tend to be less tolerant of differing opinions. I have noticed over time, that dissenters seem to disappear with alarming rapidity. Do they all tire of sparring with liberals so quickly? I think not.

UPDATE x3: Welcome, lurker Echidne! Feel free to comment. I won't ban you for upsetting my other commenters.

Lefty Hysteria over Fox News

Yet another lefty is foaming at the mouth over Fox News. This time, the complaint is that Fox News isn't a news outlet.

Celebrating its 11th year on the air, Fox is a breathtaking institution. It is a lock, stock and barrel servant of the Republican party, devoted first and foremost to electing Republicans and defeating Democrats; it's even run by a man, Roger Ailes, who helped elect Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior to the presidency. And yet, because it minimally adheres to certain superficial conventions, it can masquerade as a "news" outfit and enjoy all the rights that accrue to that.

It's always amusing when liberals squeal about Fox News adhering to "certain superficial conventions." I guess that's what liberals call having reporters report news (not make it up). And really. Does anyone take the media seriously after the "fake but accurate" 60 Minutes hit piece?

The breathless accusation that Fox News isn't news is bolstered in the piece by an accusation by Judith Regan.
Regan spent some portion of the dawn of the 21st century having an affair with NYC's then police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. The commissioner was recently indicted by a federal prosecutor in New York for alleged misdeeds dating from his time as a public servant. Kerik is a very close associate of presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani - so close that Giuliani once recommended Kerik to President Bush as homeland security director.

The nomination advanced far enough for Bush to stand at Kerik's side at a press conference. But suddenly, the doors blew open and the allegations against Kerik - that he'd renovated his home with ill-gotten gains, and more distressingly that he had suspected connections to organised crime - ended his nomination quickly. Ever since then, the question has loomed over Giuliani: when did he know that the man he recommended to run America's security was alleged to have mob ties? (A now deceased investigator once suggested that he warned Giuliani, but Giuliani says he has no memory of this.)

Regan, naturally enough given her special knowledge of the man, was questioned about Kerik by federal investigators. And she now alleges that two executives of Fox News instructed her to "lie to, and withhold information from" the investigators about Kerik. Regan charges that Fox executives did this because they feared the inquiry into Kerik might singe Giuliani, whose presidential ambitions, her complaint charges, Fox has long been intent on "protecting".

So, let's get this straight. News outlets don't report on Monica Lewinsky and that was good journalism. Journalists are encouraged routinely to hide facts (like names) from police in a pathetic argument over "freedom of the press" and that is considered good journalism. But Regan alleges the same thing happened to her and now that's prima facie evidence of Fox News not being a news organization?

I don't approve of anyone telling anyone to lie, whether that person is your spouse, your boss or POTUS (you hear that, Bill Clinton?). So, if Fox News executives told Regan to lie, that's wrong. But it's not really different from the obstructions of justice journalists wrap themselves in, then argue they need a federal shield law. Lying is lying, after all.

The liberal whiner continues this way:
In the meantime, Democrats should ratchet up their refusal to pretend that Fox bears any relationship to news. I've always felt they should just boycott the network en bloc. One can be pretty confident that if the situation were reversed - imagine a cable channel that was known as a Democratic house organ and run by, say, Bill Clinton adviser James Carville - Republicans would have done something like that long ago.

A coffee-spitter statement if ever there was one. The truth is, Republicans have faced this for at least the last 40 years, stretching back to the Nixon administration. The left-leaning "gotcha" journalism practiced by many White House correspondents is disgusting and, as the poll linked above shows, the American people recognize the bias of major media outlets even if numb nuts from across the pond don't.

The truth is, Fox News still only reaches a tiny sliver of the American media-viewing public. Its audience is dwarfed by viewers of the three nightly newscasts, not to mention NPR, MSNBC, or CNN. Yet leftwingers can't even allow for a different point of view without going into spasms. I guess the truth hurts, eh?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nanny State

So, it's come to this: we need warning labels of milk cartons.

We are rapidly approaching that time of year when people gather with family and friends to celebrate holidays, complete with extravagant meals that may leave some participants feeling just a bit queasy. Perhaps, some lawyers might wonder in between bites, more food warning labels are needed for the day after such festive occasions?

That thought may not be as farfetched as it seems. Only last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided an appeal from the dismissal of a class action lawsuit against nine sellers of milk. The class was defined as consisting of individuals who consumed milk before becoming aware that they were lactose intolerant. As a result, the lawsuit alleged, they experienced stomach discomfort and flatulence. The class action sought, among other things, to have the sellers put warning labels on milk containers to warn consumers that some may experience these symptoms.

The case was dismissed for a lot of legalistic reasons, but the nut graf is here:
In affirming the trial court's dismissal of the case, the D.C. Circuit ruling relied solely on the second of these two bases in dismissing the suit. According to the appellate court, "we hold as a matter of law that a reasonable consumer today would be well aware that milk may adversely affect some people." The appellate court concluded its rejection of the plaintiffs' tort claim under D.C. law by stating: "the risk that milk will cause temporary gas and stomach discomfort to lactose-intolerant individuals who do not yet know of their condition cannot support a failure-to-warn tort claim under D.C. tort law."

Ahh, yes. We have to warn people they could be lactose intolerant because not warning them is a tort. Or, at least, our litigious society has brought us to this point.

This case made me think of David Harsanyi's new book Nanny State, which discusses the do-gooders in our society hellbent on saving us from ourselves.

I was prepared to love and embrace Nanny State; after all, as a conservative, I'm against most government intervention into the lives of its citizens. The problem is that Harsanyi doesn't focus on the sorts of laws that make conservatives crosseyed; he spends only about 1/4 of the book discussing stupid laws about ridiculous warning labels or the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which essentially thinks everything is dangerous.

Nanny State spends a huge amount of time railing against anti-smoking measures and alcohol limitations. I suppose from a true libertarian viewpoint, this is a good place to start, but for the average person, drunk driving laws and nonsmoking workplaces are a good thing.

There are, of course, excesses, even in these good things. For example, a "zero tolerance" law regarding alcohol is ridiculous and preventing people from smoking in their own homes is absurd. But this seems to me to be more of a matter of degree rather than kind. A .08 alcohol level isn't snot-slinging drunk, but it lets people know that society doesn't tolerate public drunkeness and the dangers that go with it.

Harsanyi saves his greatest wrath for seatbelt laws, which he seems to absolutely loathe as the granddaddy of our nanny state woes. But this is where he and I part company; I think government has the duty to its citizens to demand reasonable safety measures in public places. This includes health inspections of restaurants, safety restrictions for professionals and behavior requirements for drivers. Harsanyi doesn't rail against speed limit laws, but he might as well; the argument would be the same. Why should the government tell anyone what to do?

I think the premise is simplistic. Citizens expect a certain degree of regulation from government regarding the safety of certain situations. We want clean drinking water and we like to know what is in the food we eat. Many of us dislike smoking and are concerned about its effects both for firsthand and secondhand users. We know that certain promotions (such as 3-in-1 drinks, which were legal until the mid-1980s) encourage irresponsibility and can harm a sizable amount of society. These are the sorts of restrictions most people consider to be reasonable regulations of behavior.

It would have been more convincing had Harsanyi spent more time on the "do not eat" labels on obviously inedible products or excessive warning labels and the reasons for these things. The reason, of course, is that, just like the class action wanting warning labels on milk, too many people are sue-happy, looking for an easy buck from a bleeding-heart judge who might give it to them. In other words, we need a warning label on our court system.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Making Stupid Leaps of Logic

Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake makes a truly stupid leap of logic when she takes David Broder's "I don't plan to talk about marriages" quote to mean he can't discuss the effect of a former president being married to a current president.

Smith has to be smarter than this. Indeed, within the first 10 comments, someone points out that the column wasn't about salacious details of the Clinton marriage (flying ashtrays, blue dresses, etc.), but was about the political influence Bill could wield.

To be fair, that wasn’t really a post about their marriage. It sounds to me like it was about a legitimate concern about having a former president essentially sharing the presidency. Hillary did have a big role in Bill’s White House; how proper is it that he has that influence again? It seems like a loophole in the two term limit. To be honest, I’m not sure that Hillary would be the strong front-runner without being married to Bill; maybe she’d still be competitive, but I think the main allure is that Bill Clinton would be back.

But Smith can't admit that she made a dumb connection, so she comes back with this:
but this quote stuck out for me: “No one who has read or studied the large literature of memoirs and biographies of the Clintons and their circle can doubt the intimacy and the mutual dependence of their political and personal partnership.” Because I’ve not seen anything like that whatsoever from Broder on Guiliani, Thompson, Romney or McCain…

Why would Broder say anything about the wives of any of the other candidates? Does Smith think McCain's wife has been POTUS? Or Giuliani's? Or Romney's?
I cannot believe that Smith doesn't see the difference between the Bill and Hillary Clinton marriage and any of the other candidates' marriages. This is just more of the disingenuous bilge of the left trying to discredit anyone who even questions the wisdom of electing a former First Lady to be president.

In the comments, there were frequent references to the idea that questioning the two-for-one is a subtle form of misogyny. In other words, the only reason anyone would question this peculiar scenario is that they don't think Hillary is up to the job. I don't know anyone who has made that argument. Indeed, most conservatives think Hillary was the person who drove much of Bill's political policies from health care reform to welfare reform and beyond. In other words, it's not that people don't think Hillary is smart enough. What they are concerned about is a return to Clintonesque behavior.

Why Doesn't the Media Cover Terrrorists' Trials?

Joel Mowbray has a column pondering why some trials get more play in the press than others.

Contrast that to the coverage afforded the recent mistrial in the government’s case against Holy Land Foundation, an alleged front for Hamas.

The mistrial was spun by most mainstream media outlets as a major defeat to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The New York Times dedicated over 1,200 words in a page one story. The Washington Post was a bit more restrained, putting its coverage on page three, but the editorial page ran a stinging criticism by Georgetown professor David Cole of supposed government overreach.

Defenders of high-profile treatment of the Holy Land mistrial likely would assert the connection to 9/11, as the Islamic charity was shut down with great fanfare in October 2001.

Seemingly, the only trials worth writing about are those which end up supporting the defendants. But if the defendants want to blow up Americans--particularly American soldiers--that's only suitable for Page 19A, along with the tire ads.

Mowbray discusses the arrest of two young Egyptian nationals (and college students) who were arrested Aug. 4. The case isn't boring; there's a YouTube video of one of the students showing someone how to turn a remote-controlled car into a detonator. There's connections between the two men and terrorism organizations. There's the fact that the suspects were caught with explosives, fuse, PVC pipe and more in their car.

Yet this case has garnered little or no coverage in the MSM. True, the Holy Land case was important, not just for the decision but for the tangled way the decision was announced, then pulled, then reannounced.

We frequently hear from the left about the Bush administration's abuse of the Patriot Act, its overreaching and disregard for civil liberties. But wouldn't coverage of actual terrorist's trials put some governmental precautions in perspective?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Had to Bite My Tongue (Or Maybe My Fingers) Not to Point Out the Inconsistency...

Over at Pandagon, Auguste has a nice post on the miracle that was his son's birth six years ago. The story contains equal parts doctor/medical community incompetence and divine intervention (regardless of Auguste's beliefs). Following the post were a hefty number of comments about other people's personal miracles of birth.

It is said that child birth is every woman's own war story and I believe it. There's nothing a woman will do that equals it in either magnitude, personal pain and sweat, or life-changing quality (sorry to all the feminists out there).

I'm lucky enough to have three such stories, each distinct and awesome in its own way. I love telling my children the stories of their births because I think it's a wonderful way to bind our hearts together over and over again, like reinforcing a button by sewing in the same spot repeatedly. And even when my stubborn teenager is busy insulting me ("You don't care!"), it is a great comfort to know that my sacrifices for her sake will eventually outweigh any of this pain.

I couldn't help, however, noticing that Auguste and every commenter is pro-abortion. Yet they considered their wanted children's births to be heroic and worthwhile. It's a pity they don't consider the births of all children to have the same value.

The Pros & Cons of Universal Care

Jonathan Cohn has an interesting article on the pros and cons of universal care and why some conservative arguments might not be as strong as we think.

I'm squishy about universal care; recent health insurance problems makes me far less keen on the current system than others might be. And watching my father--whose combination of Medicare and military health care--get the same care as other people makes me less afraid of universal care.

I'm not entirely sold. As I've stated before, I grew up a military brat and waited 12 hours for a doctor to tell me to take a Tylenol for strep throat or 5 hours for an x-ray read. I still think those problems will persist in any universal system the U.S. acquires.

Mainly, though, like most people squishy about universal care, I worry about innovation. Would universal care cause innovation to dry up? Cohn thinks not, given that many of the "innovations" pharmaceutical companies have created in the last 10 years are just repackaged versions of their old, expiring patented drugs.

Cohn thinks our greatest asset is the National Institutes of Health, our government behemoth which sponsors a variety of medical researches. I can understand why. There's just not always much incentive in the private sector for making one's product obsolete. Why cure cancer if you can manage it for 40 years and make a profit?

There are, of course, scientists more interested in cures than management. My husband told me last night about some doctors who have been working on a cure for Alzheimer's, and the cure might be available in the next 10 to 20 years. After watching the debilitating effects of the disease on my father (it's difficult to watch him not remember the house he's lived in for 20 years), any hope for a cure is welcome.

I'm not sure universal care will be as rosy as the picture Cohn creates. But, regardless of my skepticism, it seems likely to me we will head in a universal health care direction in the next 10 years or so.

"The lesson is that you never know in life whether something is going to work out to your advantage, even if it seems to be a terrible impediment."

So says Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview with law.com.

The interview is fascinating for its look into the world of law school in the 1950s and how it had changed--and hadn't changed--by the time I attended at the turn of the century.

Ginsburg was one of only 9 women out of a class of 500 at Harvard Law School. By the time I went to law school (although not at Harvard!), women made up nearly 50 percent of the class.

Ginsburg and her female colleagues faced a variety of challenges (women's restrooms only in one building where they had classes) and insults (a professor asked Ginsburg, "Why are you taking a place that should have gone to a man?"). My law school had potty parity, but we frequently faced questions of the why-are-you-here variety, especially if you weren't planning to work 100 hours a week. Basically, the staff felt you were wasting their time if you wanted to have life outside law.

Ginsburg also talked about the challenges she faced gaining employment after law school. She wound up teaching law as opposed to working in a large firm, and feels it shaped her chances to balance work and family better.

I certainly lay no claim to such an illustrious path. I chose not to pursue a career in law largely because of the huge hours expected of first year lawyers at a time when my children needed more of my attention. As time has gone on, I've also realized that I don't like what most lawyers have to do to practice; that is, lie. Prevaracate. Stretch the truth.

I still fantasize about getting my bar card and hanging out my shingle, especially after reading articles on other women who faced worse struggles and made it. Who knows? It's still a possibility.

Saddam Wanted Nuclear Weapons--Duh!

Newsbusters has a story on how Saddam Hussein wanted to "fool the U.S." and acquire nuclear weapons as soon as sanctions were lifted...just like we've been saying for five years.

On Sunday's "NBC Nightly News," correspondent Pete Williams previewed details of a new book, The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack, by Ronald Kessler, in which Kessler revealed information obtained by the an FBI agent who extensively interviewed Saddam Hussein and found, among other things, that the former Iraqi leader had deliberately tried to "fool the U.S." into believing he had weapons of mass destruction because "he wanted Iranian leaders to believe that he had nuclear and biological weapons." The FBI agent, named George Piro, also reported that Saddam Hussein "hoped the post-Gulf War sanctions on Iraq would dissolve, allowing him to pursue a nuclear capability."

Unless you are a leftwing kook (*cough*blubonnet*cough*), this isn't news. We--and most of the world--knew Saddam was a threat to his own people and to the region, if not beyond that. How many more stories like this have to come out before the left admits there were no lies about Saddam wanting nuclear weapons?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Iran Has a Right to Nuclear Capability

That's according to Tad Daley, using the logic that never worked with Mom: everybody else can do it!

This time it was not, as usual, the divergence between the rules of the game for countries like Iran (nuclear weapons permitted: zero) and for countries like ourselves (nuclear weapons possessed: 10,000+ . . . with plans to deploy new and improved models fully a third of a century down the road).

No, this time, instead, it was the double standard between our expectations for countries we like, and those for countries we don't like.

First, Khalilzad repeated the formulation about Iran that has been expressed many times by many Bush administration voices. "Given the record of this regime, the rhetoric of this regime, the policies of this regime, the connections of this regime, it cannot be acceptable for it to develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons." It was a wearyingly familiar argument. Our assessment of the character of the Iranian regime determines whether we will permit it to pursue a nuclear "capability."

Sorry, Tad. It isn't just about "countries we like" and "countries we don't like." Iran has a fresh history of threatening to use nukes if it gets them. That's sort of the difference between Iran and Egypt, the example Tad gives of a country allowed nuclear capacity.

It's always hard to understand the stupidity of the no nukes types. The argument goes that because we have a lot of nukes, everybody else should, too, to deter us from using them. But the problem with that argument is that having nukes hasn't caused the U.S. to run around using them. We haven't used them in more than half a century...to end World War II.

It would make more sense if the countries wanting nukes were seriously threatened by other countries (us) with nukes. But even the purported threat the U.S. poses to Iran isn't a nuclear one; we don't need to use nukes.

Matthew Yglesias Will Tell You What You Need to Know

Matthew Yglesias has his underwear bunched up tight that so many journalists admire Tim Russert's tough questions approach to journalism.

The crux of the matter is this reputation for being a "tough questioner" and the notion that Russert's brand of toughness is worthy of emulation. And it's true that Russert is a tough questioner. Watch any Russert-moderated debate or a typical candidate appearance on Meet The Press and you'll see that he goes way out of the way to put the politician in a tough corner -- he'll ask about some unimportant issue that's politically awkward, he'll drag up a quote from five years ago to try to trip you up, he'll ask about stuff your husband said, he'll harp on whatever recent story has most damaged your candidacy -- he's tough.

The fact that the candidate's answers don't square with either the public's opinion (say, on giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens) or with one's husband--the potential First Man--on the threat of global terror--doesn't seem to bother Yglesias at all. Don't ask a question that is potentially embarrassing unless it's about...global warming.
Climate change, for example, is a hugely important question. As a result, candidates ought to be subjected to questions about their climate change plans. And as it happens, the plans released by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards are all based on good science and good economics. So asking them questions aimed at elucidating their plans shouldn't lead to any embarrassing incidents. Shouldn't, that is, unless the candidates are unprepared to discuss their own plans in an intelligent manner which really would be worth knowing about.
John McCain, by contrast, might or might not end up embarrassed by serious questions about his plan, which moves in the right direction but on a schedule that's too slow and in a way that's too inefficient. Serious questions would give him the opportunity to make the case for half-measures and whether or not he winds up embarrassing himself would turn on whether or not he can give a convincing rationale for what he's doing -- which is at it should be. His Republican counterparts, by contrast, would almost certainly wind up embarrassed by serious questions about their views of climate change since their policies are badly at odds with reality.

Oddly enough, Tim Russert asks the sorts of tough questions voters are interested in; he asks candidates' views on immigration and terrorism. I suppose to Yglesias, these aren't areas we should be concerned about at all. Only global warming--which is still being debated among scientists as to its origins and effects--is worthy of questioning.

It's a good thing we don't have Yglesias asking the "tough" questions. He's more interested in advancing his left-leaning agenda than in finding out candidates' stances on issues Americans are concerned about.

You're Gonna Pay More for Home Day Care

It's all sunshine and roses, evidently, for the child care providers in New York who have just unionized.

New York is one of 11 states where workers like Rivera -- not day-care center employees or nannies but child-care providers working out of their own homes -- are permitted to unionize. Organizers argue improving conditions for these poorly paid workers will translate into better child care options for working parents.

The story goes on to discuss how great unionizing will be for day care providers, but, somehow, doesn't explain how this will benefit either the children or the parents. Will the in-home day care providers somehow become more intelligent? Educated? Loving? Who knows?

Many parents enjoy in-home day care for several reasons. The biggest assets in-home care has over institutionalized day care is the stability it provides and the fact that in-home care is considerably cheaper than those big day-care-in-a-box-type places.

Be prepared for costs to go up with unionization. It always does.

"The lessons that unions learned from organizing home care have been brought to bear on child care," she said.
Not everyone applauds unionization for home-based child care workers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed the idea, which he said could cost up to $100 million a year in increased wages and benefits.

Read: taxpayers will now subsidize in-home day care providers.

Unions have learned the lessons of organizing day care workers. They know that unionization rates have dropped dramatically and they have to find new sources of union workers to support the fat cats at the top. That means collecting union dues from some of the poorest paid workers.

Helen Blank, director of leadership and public policy at the Washington, D.C.-based National Women's Law Center, said that in 2002, the last year for which figures are available, the average annual earnings of self-employed child care workers ranged from $6,209 in New Mexico to $16,367 in Washington.

What this union-leaning story doesn't tell readers is that people who run day care out of their homes keep overhead low and set their own hours. Some workers only have after school care. Some only work a few hours a week. Some take kids around the clock. Some provide meals and others don't.

On top of that flexibility, there are state and federal programs for child care providers which also help pay for the costs of running a day care, such as food allowances and tax breaks on parts of one's home used for the business. In other words, the pay is low, but a combination of programs and tax breaks helps the worker keep more of his/her money.

And this isn't even talking about the people who take cash and don't pay taxes on it.

Nobody wants day care workers to be exploited. They are certainly among the hardest working people in America. And I personally preferred in-home care because it was the most like family. But unionizing these workers will increase costs and create bigger problems for the parents who need this form of child care.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Roots of Bush Derangement Syndrome

Right Wing Nuthouse discusses the roots of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Today’s nuts inhabit both the right and left sides of the ideological spectrum with the left wing paranoids more prominent if only because of their target; George Bush and his Administration.

No? How’s that military draft coming, guys? And what about that fallout from our attack on Iran? You know, the one that was “imminent” at least three separate times over the last few years? And while we’re on the subject, have you sent your Christmas cards to your friends rotting away in those concentration camps you were so sure were going to be set up to house “regime” opponents?

I could go on, of course. There is no end to the wild nuttiness of the left when it comes to their paranoia about the Bush Administration. To hear them tell it, Bush is both evil genius and incompetent clown – a dichotomy most sane people would find laughable but which the paranoids on the left blithely run off at the mouth coming up with ever more outrageous “warnings” about Bush actions. The closer we get to the end of the Bush presidency, the more we hear of the “manufactured 9/11” where Bush would cancel the election of 2008 and rule by dictatorship.

Where does he find them? In...Clinton Derangement Syndrome.
What CDS did was gather the kooks, the loons, and the nuts on the right under one umbrella with the internet as catalyst. Chat rooms and message boards acted as incubators where the latest preposterous theories about the Clintons were born.

And perhaps it’s no accident that BDS was born just when blogs began their rise to prominence. The archives of Daily Kos are full of diaries and posts that posit the most jaw dropping conspiracy theories about Bush. If the largest liberal blog could indulge themselves in such tripe, then clearly the way to fame and fortune in the leftysphere was to outdo the big guys in coming up with even more ridiculous theories of dark doings and evil abroad in the land.

It has culminated in the Rosie O’Donnell-Keith Olbermann axis of celebrity where those worthies feed hundreds of thousands of people a day a steady diet of BDS related claptrap. One wonders what poor Keith is going to do when Bush leaves office. Methinks he’s in for a fall since his “angry man” routine will be difficult to maintain if Democrats control everything.

The leaping off point is the release of Kathleen Willey's new book, in which she blames the Clintons for her husband's death.

I agree with RWN on this one. I always found the bizarre fantasies of Clinton malfeasance to be both disgusting and beneath disgust (is that possible?). The Clintons were crooked, as evidenced by the various scandals of Bill Clinton's presidency. But did he have Vince Foster killed? No, and multiple investigations--both Democrat and Republican--said so. Was Clinton involved in drug running and murder in Arkansas? Again, the answer is no.

But that doesn't mean the Clintons weren't involved in their own deals, such as Whitewater and Hillary Clinton's miraculous success with cattle futures. From the books I read (and I read several at the time), Bill Clinton, he of Rhodes Scholar fame, was smart enough to stay stupid so he could tell investigators he never knew the various dirty dealings of friends and compatriots. Basically, he remembered, at the time, what the definition of "is" is.

Unfortunately, as RWN points out, the election of Hillary Clinton will probably bring about more CDS and so it will come full cycle. It seems to me that that prospect is enough to vote for anyone but Hillary.

What Cats Are Really Like

A friend of mine sent me this cartoon and I decided I had to share it.
video

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where The Pork Is

The Democrats in Congress have been unable to do much since taking charge (I mean, other than making themselves look like fools), but one thing every politician knows how to do is bring home the bacon.
Now, The Sunlight Foundation has come up with this map showing where all the defense appropriations earmarks are going.

Remember when the Democrats claimed they were going to eliminate earmarks? I do! But I guess that's just one more promise to break.

Women Absent From Work More Than Men

I heard Rush Limbaugh mention this MSNBC article which says that women are absent from work more often than men.

And, according to the story, even women without children are absent more often than men are. There's no explanation given for why women miss more than men, but some of the usual memes are brought up: women have to take care of sick kids, women do all the housework, women are more frail. Oops. I just made up that last one.

No, the article didn't say women are less healthy than men. That might be a charge that would have feminists up in arms. Instead, it trotted out a lot of tired, unsubstantiated blather.

Making assumptions on why women call in sick can be detrimental to the advancement of women in the workplace, says Eric Patton, an assistant professor of management at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

As part of his research on how workplace absence is perceived, Patton studied a century’s worth of New York Times articles that dealt with the issue. He found 3,000 articles on the topic.

“Whenever it was an article about women’s absenteeism it was about gender. If it was about men and absenteeism, gender was not brought up,” he says.

That focus on gender, he adds, has created a situation where co-workers and managers expect women to be absent more often, and that, in turn, can creates an air of unreliability around female employees.

I doubt seriously that employers and coworkers are going to read this story and think, "Yep, that's why Mabel's out so much. She's a woman!" I think they will probably think that Mabel's out every Monday because she's skipping work.

The best part of the article came close to the end.
(Author Christopher) Flett acknowledges that women carry most of the responsibilities at home, whether caring for ill children or aging parents. But he believes women can be their own worst enemies in the workplace because they feel the need to give managers too much information. “Women will often make excuses for why they’re not coming to work, which opens them up to the alpha males that keep them out of the corner office.”

He suggested that women should keep their personal lives to themselves. “If a woman needs a sick day, take one without telling people your kid is ill, or you need to take care of your sister. It’s no one's business why you’re taking the day off,” he adds.

In other words, if women would just shut up about their personal lives while they are at work, no one would notice when they are absent. As cruel as that sounds, there's some truth to the idea that one's personal life doesn't necessarily belong around the water cooler. Sure, confide in your best friend, but leave the details of your home life at home (full disclosure: I've discussed personal stuff with coworkers, too. It still isn't a smart thing to do).

I'm certain this is all just Teh Patriarchy keeping women sick and out of work. I bet Amanda would agree.

The Real Che Guevara

The Washington Times had a story yesterday on
The Victims of Che Guevara poster being offered by the Young America's Foundation. The poster uses photos of people killed by Che to make his image.

Che Guevara has become something of an icon among Hispanic youth, the vast majority of whom know nothing about him. It's a pity so few children know or understand the bloody path of Cuba, or of communists in general. But then, they aren't being taught that, are they?

"Che is one of the heroes that the left idolizes," said Patrick X. Coyle, vice president of YAF. "But a lot of kids don't know anything about him. We thought this would be a great way to highlight his atrocities."

The occasion for the poster is Freedom Week, YAF's annual commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, which has since become the most famous event symbolizing the collapse of Soviet communism.

Conservative students on more than 100 college and university campuses will participate in Freedom Week events, and YAF has printed 10,000 copies of the Guevara poster to dramatize the fact that communism "affected real individuals," Mr. Coyle said.

"In fact, collectivist regimes, according to 'The Black Book of Communism,' murdered more than 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century," he said.

The Left loves to talk about people killed by Christians but fails to point out that far more people were killed by communism than by Christians at any point in history. For all its failings, Christianity has done far more good in the world than evil.

Can You Sue Your Ex for Alienation of Your Children's Affection?

Recently, I said (rather flippantly) that if I had it to do over again, I would have done things differently after my divorce. I would have moved far from my ex, not allowed (or encouraged) contact with the father, and basically done everything possible to exorcise him from his child's life.

Apparently, I'm not the only person to think of this and, in fact, someone has done exactly that. In frustration, the father has sued for alienation of the children's affection.

In a suit that could create a new marital tort in New Jersey, a noncustodial father is suing his children's mother for alienation of their affection for him, which he says should allow him recovery of psychological damages.

There is no legal precedent in New Jersey for an alienation-of-affection suit by one parent against the other, but New Jersey has allowed other interspousal tort actions, such as for physical abuse, and plaintiff's lawyer Steven Resnick says the facts of his case warrant such treatment.

"We've tried other remedies and are asking to set a precedent," says Resnick, a partner with Budd Larner in Short Hills, N.J.

He says his client filed suit in the Law Division on Oct. 26 because, after 14 months of litigation, he's frustrated with the usual matrimonial venue, the Chancery Division's Family Part.

"There's no serious mechanism for punishment in the family court," says Resnick. "Nobody takes alienation of a parent's affections seriously, and no one asks what kind of damage this does to the children."

The suit, Segal v. Lynch, was lodged by millionaire-developer Moses Segal, originally from Toronto, who came to New Jersey in pursuit of his girlfriend and common-law wife Cynthia Lynch, with whom he separated in 2001.

The separation caused headlines in the Canadian press, after the Ontario Court of Appeals awarded $8.3 million in property to Lynch, reportedly a small part of Segal's $100 million empire. Altogether, Lynch got $12 million, said Resnick.

Segal alleges that in June 2006, Lynch relocated to New Jersey's Morris County, changed her phone number, blocked e-mails and cut off all contact with their two children, Emily, 13, and William, 9.

A private detective located Lynch in Millington, N.J., and Segal filed suit in Morris County to resume visitation. Resnick says he also sought an enforcement of litigants' rights order, because Lynch allegedly twice attempted to change her child's last name from Segal to Lynch.

But in the Law Division suit just filed, he says the damage was done; that he no longer has the relationship with his children he had previously. He is suing for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

It's a novel argument, which is a nice way of saying there's no way he can win. But it does highlight a huge problem in the family law system. There's simply no mechanism that recognizes or handles the various ways adults can torture each other through their children. Our legal system is designed for there to be a winner and a loser, not for two people to have to work together after the suit. It's nearly impossible to work with someone after you've watched their attorney turn everyday events into heinous crimes and accuse you of every sort of malfeasance under the sun.

A tort for alienation of children's affection would be interesting. I noticed a marked change in my daughter's behavior to us, for instance, after she went to live with her father. Do I know that he intentionally did something to change her behavior to us? No, but I'm not sure that anything deliberate needs to happen for children to get the message that one parent is preferred. Children are master manipulators and pick up adults' signals easily.

The tragedy, of course, is the distortion of family life for the children. Adults frequently don't think about what all the plot twists in the family soap opera do to their kids, but from the adult kids of divorce I've talked to, those consequences are difficult and long-lasting.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Myths about American Healthcare

Is American health care really that much worse than Canada's? Lots of liberals would have you think so, but Betsy links to this column which obliterates those myths. Says Betsy:

First, we often hear that Canadians have a higher life expectancy than Americans and that should be a reason to adopt a Canadian style health care plan. But such a claim ignores what is causing those higher deaths by Americans. More Americans die by accident and homicide. That is terrible, but it is not a result of better Canadian health care. Many of problems that Americans have medically come from our trend towards obesity. Again, not a result of state health care. And we have more teenage mothers which correlates with higher infant mortality. Again, a problem, but not one caused by the differences in health care.

In other words, many of the supposed problems with American health care is related to our lifestyle, not our health care system.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Motor Voter Issue: 8 Out of 19 9/11 Hijackers Had Voter Cards

Hillary Clinton got tripped up in the debate the other night on a question of issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens. And it's no wonder. The vast majority of Americans hate the idea. Why do Democrats support it?

As Rush Limbaugh pointed out on his show the day after the debate, Democrats like giving illegals driver's licenses because then they can vote. And why can they vote? Because of the Motor Voter law passed in the 1990s, which automatically sends voter registration cards to anyone who gets a driver's license. At the time, conservatives warned that the law would lead to voting by ineligible voters, and indeed, 8 out of the 19 hijackers had voter cards.

Immigration will be a big issue in this campaign. Contrary to the hype, most Americans aren't racists, but they do believe that those wanting to come to our country should follow our laws. The idea that illegal aliens can vote is disturbing and candidates who don't answer properly won't get the votes.

John Edwards has a great ad regarding Hillary's flip-flops during the debate here (it wouldn't let me upload the video here).

University of Delaware Rescinds "Reeducation" Mandate

Chock one up for freedom of conscience as the University of Delaware has dropped its reeducation program, which was designed to force students to accept certain "right" ideas.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education first alerted the media and blogosphere to this program, which was reminiscent of communist-style reeducation systems (I wrote about the program here. Dana has more here).

This was a no-brainer to me. Universities are supposed to be places where even kooky ideas get an airing. And sometimes, schools cross the line by assigning politically correct positions which students are required to support. And some professors think supporting the Constitution qualifies students for psychological treatment. But the fact is, universities are supposed to help students learn how to think, not what to think. It's up to individual consciences as to what one should believe.

Oddly, the newest troll here and at CSPT, Donviti, seems to think reeducation programs aren't Orwellian at all. It's a distinctly odd position for a liberal to take, IMO, but yet more evidence of "freedom of conscience for me but not for thee."

Friday, November 02, 2007

NIckNews Is Brainwashing Your Kids

Army Wife Toddler Mom has the scoop on the Nick News show designed to teach your children how to protest and spit on your values.

The show, hosted by Linda Ellerbee, contained four segments, each about children displaying that great liberal art of protesting.

In one segment, the children protest a standardized test required for high school graduation. "I can pass the test," says one girl earnestly, "but many others can't. It's not fair they can't graduate." I'm surprised no one pointed out to her that if students can't pass tests focusing on basic skills, they probably shouldn't be getting a diploma anyway. Unless, of course, the diploma isn't worth the paper its written on.

The third segment is about a boy protesting elephants in circuses. He complains vociferously about the abuse elephants face while being trained to stand on their hind legs, lift their trunks, etc. "If more people knew how the elephants were treated, they wouldn't want to support the circus," he said, looking into the camera with big doe eyes. Um, no. They might request more humane treatment of the elephants, but most people love looking at elephants at the zoo and the circus. That's why they pay to see them.

The most shocking segments, though, are the second and fourth in the show. In the second segment, a boy from Berkeley (where else?) is part of The World Can't Wait, a communist group from the old school, which talks about violent overthrow of the "bourgeois state." The boy dresses up in standard protester garb--orange jumpsuit with black hood--then proceeds to lecture adults on how American soldiers are "torturing people" and that we should "impeach Bush." If I saw this pint-sized protester, I'd tell him he'd be better off reading some history (he could start with Paul Tibbets) to understand what actual torture is and why he's being a brat to spout off about impeaching the president.

The fourth segment was about an Atlanta girl who created an anti-America website, complete with video of maimed or dead children with Jesus Loves Me playing in the background. "I like to go on the web and find images of children to put on my site," she said blithely. I kept waiting for the "reporter" to ask her if she knew what "propaganda" meant, as in "our enemies love to use children as human shields and propaganda."

Fortunately, this show airs at a time my children wouldn't be watching it, but it doesn't make me happy about Nickelodeon, a staple of children's entertainment. My question for Nickelodeon is this: aren't there any children protesting for conservative causes? It might seem a bit more balanced if you bothered having segments that showed students, say, protesting teachers bashing our soldiers, along with the anti-circus segment. Just sayin'.

Enola Gay Pilot Lives Full, Happy Life With No Regrets...As He Should

Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died yesterday at the ripe old age of 92.

Most interesting about his obit was its repetition that he had no regrets about dropping the bomb.

Throughout his life, Tibbets seemed more troubled by other people's objections to the bomb than by him having led the crew that killed tens of thousands of Japanese in a single stroke. The attack marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

Tibbets grew tired of criticism for delivering the first nuclear weapon used in wartime, telling family and friends that he wanted no funeral service or headstone because he feared a burial site would only give detractors a place to protest.

And he insisted he slept just fine, believing with certainty that using the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved more lives than they erased because they eliminated the need for a drawn-out invasion of Japan...

He added: "I sleep clearly every night..."

And why shouldn't he? His heroic actions ended a dreadful war that would have cost thousands more American lives (including my father's, most likely) without his noble work. But that doesn't stop the writer from including references to the idiots who benefited from Tibbets' work but criticize it.
Author Richard Rhodes said Tibbets' feelings about the bombing he helped plan embodied public opinion at the time.

"He was so characteristic of that generation. He was a man who took great pride in what he did during the war, including the atomic bombing," said Rhodes, who wrote "The Making of the Atomic Bomb."

"It's hard for people today to think about the atomic bombings without feeling they were just out and out atrocities, but people at the time had a very different sense of what they needed to do," Rhodes said.

Translation: People today live safe and happy lives because previous generations weren't afraid to do their duty. If "people today" think dropping atomic bombs to end World War II was "just out and out atrocities," do they lose sleep over things the Japanese did?