October 9, 2014

No more boys and girls

School Told to Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’ Because ‘Boys and Girls’ Is Not Inclusive to Transgender

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead….

Despite controversy, Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with the training documents.

What idiocy.  I completely understand why homeschooling is booming. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2014

"The Banishment of Useful Hypocrisy"

Adam Garfinkle  in American Sex and the Middle East points out that foreigners listen to America's constant public talk about sex and the consequences are not trivial

All the American culture-war topics surrounding variable human sexuality—same-sex rights and marriage, abortion, surrogacy, and, lately, campus sexual assaults as a sub-category of generic violence against women—attract great buckets of ink on a regular basis. Most of these buckets are the property of the post-bourgeois salon Left, which has rendered the American Left as a whole so drunk on culture-war juice that it spends almost no effort on the political economy issues that used to be its raison d’etre. The country is arguably much worse off as a result.

Let me put my cards on the table before we go any further: I’m sick of it all, especially the obsessions of the Sunday New York Times Magazine, whose editors seem to have great difficulty getting their heads out of their, or other people’s, crotches. I am unashamedly old-fashioned: I think public discussion of intimate sexual matters is unseemly, a word that has become as quaint as outlandish mass-culture fare has become hideously sexualized. I don’t care if the subject to hand is essentially heterosexual in nature, or homosexual, transsexual, omnisexual, multisexual, interspecies-sexual, or all the other kinds of sexual that I’m sure exist but know nothing about. I could not give a damn what consenting adults do with their genitalia in private, but I don’t need or want to hear about it in public—and these days you nearly have to hole up in a mountain cave somewhere to escape it.

For similar reasons I don’t like “acclaimed” television shows like Law and Order, because the relentless focus on pedophilia and other disgusting para-sexual behaviors is coarsening, just as all the over-the-top, gratuitous violence on offer 24/7 in the American electronic sewer is coarsening….

By “norming” such behaviors through ceaseless discussion and fictive depiction, many people come to believe that they are not only more prevalent but also less morally deviant. The net result of more coarsening images is more coarsening behavior; life does indeed imitate art, even very bad art.
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Without hypocrisy we are sunk, for the alternative to high standards is not low standards; it’s eventually no standards at allwhich in matters sexual is pretty much where we are now, it seems to me. (As Mary Eberstadt argued already some years ago, we seem to have transferred our moral taboos from sex to food—as in homosexuality is fine, but transfats are sinful.)
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To one extent or another, all Muslim Middle Eastern societies (to include those of North Africa, the Sahel and Southwest Asia), Arab and non-Arab alike, maintain traditional attitudes toward human sexuality and to how that subject in its various manifestations may and may not be discussed in public. …
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This raises a weird but telling paradox. Many young Middle Easterners admire American political institutions but not the wiles and ways of American society. And they have a point. Their countries’ political institutions are mostly pathetic or worse, but their societies generally are not.
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The favorite rhetorical question asked here after 9/11 was “Why do they hate us?” The answer to this question is that it was and remains the wrong question. The typical tradition-minded Middle Easterner does not hate America. But rather a lot of tradition-minded Middle Easterners are disgusted by America. There is a difference.
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The rise of “gay rights” discourse and especially of the gay marriage controversy to the pinnacle of American politics—all the way to the Supreme Court—befuddles and disgusts most of them. The immodesty and downright salaciousness of American “low” fashion, especially for women, repels and disgusts them, too. The manifest disrespect shown to elders and teachers alarms and disgusts them. The now deeply embedded linguistic obscenity in American culture, whether in some forms of popular music or just in overheard speech, repulses and disgusts them. And not that violence against women and homosexuals is unknown to them in their own societies—again, very much to the contrary—but the casual pervasiveness of it in Americans’ own depictions of American society shocks and disgusts them, too.

Above all, the deafeningly public character of all this—the banishment of useful hypocrisy, in other words—puzzles and disgusts to the point that many of them think we have simply gone mad.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:31 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2014

"Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature."

Camille Paglia talks sense again.  Will young women listen?

The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil

Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.

The disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham two weeks ago is the latest in a long series of girls-gone-missing cases that often end tragically. ...

Wildly overblown claims about an epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses are obscuring the true danger to young women, too often distracted by cellphones or iPods in public places: the ancient sex crime of abduction and murder. Despite hysterical propaganda about our “rape culture,” the majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault are not felonious rape (involving force or drugs) but oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.

Colleges should stick to academics and stop their infantilizing supervision of students’ dating lives, an authoritarian intrusion that borders on violation of civil liberties. Real crimes should be reported to the police, not to haphazard and ill-trained campus grievance committees.

Too many young middleclass women, raised far from the urban streets, seem to expect adult life to be an extension of their comfortable, overprotected homes. But the world remains a wilderness. The price of women’s modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense….

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.

Liberalism lacks a profound sense of evil ….Misled by the naive optimism and “You go, girl!” boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2014

Intolerance of Christians in the U.S.

Princeton Professor Robert George, Cultural Elite Can No Longer Tolerate Christians  in a message he wished he didn't have to deliver

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” says George, 59, director of the James Madison program at Princeton University. Citing the political witch hunt that forced Brendan Eich’s departure as CEO of Mozilla for a small contribution to a conservative political cause, George said politically correct mobs “threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil, good. They command us to confirm our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.”

His practical advice to the embattled faithful is "to hold these elites to their principles"

But what if those elites don't hold these principles anymore?  As Roger Kimball writes In The Fate of Free Speech,

Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid, had actually introduced a bill to challenge key provisions of the First Amendment.  Yes, you read that aright. Democratic senators have proposed to gut the First Amendment. If passed, the provision would enable Congress to ban movies, books, and other forms of expression that bore on political controversies. Breathtaking, is it not? As far as I can tell from here, public response to this outrageous attack on free speech has been muted
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It is extraordinary, is it not, that various Islamic groups, often with the collusion of Western politicians, including Hillary Clinton, are proposing to resurrect blasphemy laws , making it illegal — illegal —  to “insult” Mohammed or criticize Islam? The end of their efforts is a “global censorship regime.”  We’re not there yet, not quite, but we’re well on the road.  One sign of the success of this campaign is the systematic reluctance of Western leaders to describe Islamic terrorism as, well, Islamic terrorism.
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Perhaps the overarching condition that threatens free speech is the spread of political correctness. This has sharply curtailed candor about all manner of contentious subjects.  It is no longer possible, in polite society, to speak frankly about race, about differences between the sexes, or a hundred other topics — so-called “climate change,” for example, or the relationship between Islam and free speech….A reluctance to speak the truth instills an unwillingness or even inability to see the truth. Thus it is that the reign of political correctness quietly aids and abets habits of complacency and unfreedom.
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It took several centuries and much blood and toil to wrest freedom from the recalcitrant forces of arbitrary power. It is a melancholy fact that what took ages to achieve can be undone in the twinkling of an eye. It seems to me that we are at a crossroads where our complacency colludes dangerously with the blunt opportunism of events.  Courage, Aristotle once observed, is the most important virtue because without courage we are unable to practice the other virtues. The life of freedom requires the courage to recognize and to name the realities that impinge upon us.


Last month, with the courage of a man who is dying, Francis Cardinal George wrote A Tale of Two Churches

The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.
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It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.


Harvey Silvergate writes in the Wall St Journal about A Campus Crusade Against the Constitution Limiting First Amendment rights for Christians undercuts rights for everyone else.

Thus the current controversy surrounding evangelical Christian organizations on college campuses is a test of our commitment to liberal and constitutional ideals.  Earlier this month the California State University System "de-recognized" 23 campus chapters of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). This decision stems from a December 2011 chancellor's executive order stating that "No campus shall recognize any . . . student organization unless its membership and leadership are open to all currently enrolled students."
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The new policy has insidious implications. Any student may attend IVCF meetings or participate in its activities regardless of belief. But because IVCF asks its leaders to affirm their adherence to evangelical Christian doctrine—a "belief" requirement—California state-university administrators have deemed the group discriminatory. IVCF chapters will no longer have use of certain campus facilities and benefits available to other groups. This policy guts the free association right that was enshrined in the First Amendment precisely to protect minority or unpopular views.

It is obvious why IVCF would want to restrict leadership to true believers. It would be anomalous for a conventional religious group of any kind to open its top leadership to, say, atheists who would want to change the group's beliefs and activities. The pope has to be Catholic, after all.

Rod Dreher is following the story of a California charter school that "removed from its shelves The Hiding Place,

the fantastic memoir of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Christian woman who was sent, along with her father and sister, to a concentration camps for the crime of hiding Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland …..Reading The Hiding Place as a kid dramatically affected me. The moral heroism of the ten Booms sensitized me to the effects of anti-Semitism, and taught me what Christians must do if ever we are in a situation where persecuted people rely on us for protection. And, crucially, the fact that Corrie survived the concentration camps and emerged to exhort others to forgive and be reconciled with the barbarians who did this evil, staggered me.
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The nation of Israel, in the name of the Jewish people, bestowed upon this Dutch Calvinist woman the highest honor the Jewish state can give to Gentiles, in grateful recognition of her service. Yet this secular charter school in California finds her story too offensive to tell to American schoolchildren.

In Part 3, despite the report that  "One of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company" and another that a recording of Bach's
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" was not allowed because it was Christian, the real problem may lie in "an overly bureaucratic system tied in knots as it tries to be all things to all people."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

September 27, 2014

Jihad in America UPDATED

When Colleen Hufford woke up, she never could have imagined she would be beheaded at work.

Alton Nolen, who now goes by Jah'Keem Yisrael, a convert to Islam, decapitated Hufford and was stabbing Traci Johnson  with the intent of beheading her when he was shot and wounded by Mark Vaughan, CEO of Vaughan Foods and a reserve deputy sheriff carrying a concealed handgun

In a statement, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said:  "Mark put an end to the threat by shooting the suspect and saving the life of a second victim who was being actively attacked by the suspect.  There is every reason to believe that the lives of untold others were saved who would have been targeted by the suspect if it hadn't been for Deputy Vaughan’s actions."

Fired Muslim convert store-worker who beheaded female colleague lost his job 'in argument over stoning women'

The Muslim convert who allegedly beheaded a female co-worker was arguing with his colleagues about whether it is acceptable to stone women to death the day he launched his attack, it has been claimed.

Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was trying to convince workers that Islam teaches that the punishment is acceptable on Thursday, shortly before he was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, according to local media. He returned the same day and lashed out at colleagues Colleen Hufford and Traci Johnson with a knife, police said.

He allegedly beheaded Ms Hufford and stabbed Ms Johnson - and would have continued his rampage had he not been shot by the store's CEO. According to Truth Revolt, a family told a local Oklahoma paper Nolen was telling co-workers about an unspecified Islamic teaching which - Nolen claimed - said women should be stoned for committing certain offenses.

He survived the injury and was hospitalized, while Ms Johnson remains in stable condition in hospital.

Now, it has emerged that Nolen apparently celebrated terrorism, promoted Islam and disparaged non-Muslims in a series of posts on Facebook in the months leading up to the alleged killing.  Under the name Jah'Keem Yisrael, the suspect posted an image of Pope Benedict XVI to the social networking site, accompanied by the caption: 'SHARIA LAW IS COMING!!'…..  Other posts saw Nolen reading the Koran, donning Muslim religious clothing, praying in a mosque and seemingly performing the one-figure salute of the Islamic State terror group.

Earlier this year, Nolen, whose Facebook cover photo appears to show several Taliban fighters, posted a photo of the 9/11 attacks, writing: 'A future prophecy revelation 18.8. She (the Statue of Liberty) is going into flames. She and anybody who's with her',

 Facebookbeheader Nolan posted this picture of himself on his Facebook page on Sept 5  standing in front of the gates of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.  His caption read “At The Masjid (Mosque)Today For Jumar 9/5/2014 & Peforming Wudu!!!”

Roger Simon asks Have Our Prisons Become Jihad Factories

Was Nolen motivated by jihad or workplace revenge or a cocktail of both?  Probably both. He had a checkered past.  He had been convicted in January 2011 of “multiple drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escape from detention,” according to state records.  He was released from prison in March 2013.

We don’t know the extent to which Nolen’s conversion to Islam occurred in prison, although it is highly likely most of it did.  This is surely worth investigating. Such conversions are a monumental powder keg in the process of going off.  From Wikipedia:

J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17-20% of the prison population in New York, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam.[1] These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority.[2] Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism….

Just last June, Homegrown jihadist shoots N.J. teen 8 times, calling it a ‘just kill’

Brendan Tevlin, of Livingston, was stopped at a red light driving home from a friend’s house on June 25 when Ali Muhammad Brown allegedly walked up his car and fired 10 rounds, striking him eight times.

Mr. Brown then drove the car, with Tevlin’s lifeless body still in it, to a parking lot in West Orange and left him there, Fox News reported.

….Mr. Brown had undergone extensive Jihad training in California and that he’s suspected of additional murders throughout the country, a local Fox affiliate reported.

Mr. Brown allegedly called Tevlin’s death “a just kill” for Muslim deaths at the hands of Americans in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Who can forget the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan.  A former United States Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer, Hassan shouted Allahu Akbar! before fatally shooting 13 people and injuring more than 30 others at Fort Hood  on November 5, 2009. Prior to the shooting the Army and the FBI concluded that his many emails to the late Anwar al-Awiaki were in the nature of 'research' and that he was not a threat.  The Department of Defense called the mass shootings 'workplace violence.'  In 2013, after a court marital, he was convicted of 13 counts of murder and sentenced to death.

Nassan has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State, Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State.”

UPDATE:  Ben Shapiro on seven other recent cases of lone wolf Islamic attacks inside the United States in recent years:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

September 24, 2014

Our Paper of Record

The New York Times

Correction: September 23, 2014
An article on Sept. 11 about President Obama’s speech to the nation describing his plans for a military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies’ support for his plans and President George W. Bush’s efforts on such backing for the Iraq war. The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took; it is not the case that, “Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners.”

Truth Revolt comments

It only took the Times two weeks to correct this basic factual error. But the error has a point: to differentiate good, wise, holy and just Obama from evil supervillain George W. Bush. The New York Times is simply fulfilling Obama’s central life function: not being George W. Bush.

In point of fact, Barack Obama had a total of nine allies in his battle against ISIS as of September 5. George W. Bush’s original “coalition of the willing” had 48 countries as members.


Bush also got authorization from Congress for the use of military force against Iraq, something President Obama has failed to do before bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq.    Congress passed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution by Congress, on March 18, 2003.

In yet another egregious error for which the New York Times has yet to issue a correction appeared in a travel article published on September 16, 2014 entitled Hoping War-Weary Tourist Will Return to Israel

…"Nearby the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried ……"

 Nyt Jesus Is Buried

Surreptitiously, they changed the tense from  "is" to "was" in a new version of the story.    Mollie Hemingway asks Will Someone Explain Christianity to the New York Times?

Are you smarter than a New York Times copy editor? Did you know that Christians do not believe Jesus is buried in a tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre because they believe he rose from the dead? Oh you did know that basic teaching of the world’s largest religion? Congratulations.

A hint that’s good for journalists confused on the matter is to consider the church also goes by the name “The Church of the Resurrection.”

Or to visit the tomb for yourself and note that it does not contain the relics of Jesus Christ. Or to read Scriptural accounts of what went down on that first Sunday of the Resurrection. Here are relevant links to the account in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ — which is tied to the empty tomb — is arguably the most influential event in human history. It’s really something one should know about.

No wonder a recent Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans don't trust mass media

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2014

Snapshots of America

1 in 4 Americans open to succession according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Americans ‘surprisingly uncertain’ what their branches of government are, new survey reveals
In the relatively short survey administered to 1,416 adults and published on September 17, 2014 (Constitution Day), the APPC [Annenberg Public Policy Center ] found that 35% of respondents could not name even one branch of government in the US. Only a little more than a third of respondents (36%) could name all three branches of government.

For the first time, there are more single American adults than married ones   50.2% (30.4% never married while 19.8% are divorced or widowed.  Link has map of the U.S. showing where the singles are

Young people's trust in government drops sharply

They're often pegged as the civic-minded, do-gooding generation. But while they're still optimistic about their own personal prospects, a new study finds that today's youth are often more skeptical of the country's institutions than the young generations that preceded them.

In the mid-1970s, when baby boomers were coming of age, about a third of high school seniors agreed that "most people can be trusted."  That dropped to 18 percent in the early 1990s for Gen Xers — and then, in 2012, to just 16 percent of Millennials.
The researchers also found that Millennials' approval of major institutions — from Congress and corporations to the news media and educational and religious institutions — dropped more sharply than other generations in the decade that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

American Kids Are Really Bad at Handling Money

Score another one for Chinese teenagers, who leave U.S. kids in their dust when it comes to knowing how to handle money. That's the latest anxiety-producing statistic (for American parents, anyway) to emerge out of a newly released international study of the financial habits of roughly 29,000 teens from countries as far flung as Australia, China, Colombia, France, Israel, Russia, Spain, and the U.S……

Many teens still fall woefully behind in understanding financial instruments, institutions, and the best basic ways to build wealth.

Poll: Most Americans no longer think a college education is ‘very important’

Amid a national debate about the worth of a college education, a respected annual poll about the education views held by Americans has found that only 44 percent of Americans now believe that getting a college education is “very important” — down from 75 percent four years ago.

Insty comments

That’s a brutal decline. Add to this the threat posed by the campus rape panic — chasing women away with exaggerated claims of rape, and men with quite realistic fears of the Sex Police — and college recruiting will be increasingly difficult, I expect.

Insty, aka Glenn Reynolds, a law professor in Tennessee, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

War on Poverty: Successful or Flop?

The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop

Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)
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But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The answer is it isn’t possible.  Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.
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The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.
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the War on Poverty has not succeeded according to Johnson’s original goal. Johnson’s aim was not to prop up living standards by making more and more people dependent on an ever larger welfare state. Instead, Johnson sought to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid. Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.”

Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop. The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage. When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage. Today, 42 percent of children are. By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.

Economies Thrive On Hope, Not Jealousy

According to the World Bank, researchers found that the aspect of poverty that most concerned the poor was “fear, shame, [and] helplessness” Oddly, they did not mention income inequality or lack of material things. They wanted to be empowered and prospered by their own initiative.

Opportunity provides self-sufficiency, along with respect and pride. This, in turn, removes fear, shame, and helplessness while creating income growth and more wealth for everyone. Inversely, focusing on income inequality means government must redistribute wealth after people create it, thus creating dependency, which creates ultimately what the poor consider poverty: a perpetual state of helplessness. This also leads to resentment against those able to succeed without the condescending paternalism of government.

Focusing on income inequality does not help the poor long-term. Instead, it helps political entities that provide virtual patronage and distracts from bureaucrats’ poor handling of economic forces that require real skill to address. It’s not hard to write a check with someone else’s money. It is harder to empower growth with reasonable policies that do not punish success.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2014

"What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn't know it yet?"

The Anchoress Do The Rapes of Rotherham Tell a Tale of Conquest?

What Rotherham puts me in mind of is the behavior of the conqueror. One of the terrible after-effects of invasion and war has been the subjugation of the women, the rape of wives and daughters, the seed of the conqueror, inserted into a culture and a society — yet another tactic meant to subdue and eradicate.

And yet, there has been no old-fashioned “invasion” and no “war” in the southern part of Yorkshire. This conquering was invited, and it was invited throughout Europe, where Rotherham will be discovered to have been replicated. Why wouldn’t it be? Who in Europe would dare to prosecute?
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Rape and subjugation is one way to conquer a people. Getting them to destroy themselves is another. A conquest is a conquest. For that matter, one needn’t use a blunt knife to behead a culture; you just blunt their thinking as much as possible.

What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn’t know it yet, because a painless coup happened while the West was naval gazing, or buried in its twitter feed?

Mark Steyn on the Reformation of Manners

the individuals who presided over this regime destroyed the lives of 1,400 people in their care, and have paid no price for it. Indeed, some have been promoted, and put in charge of even more children: Sonia Sharp, who was head of child services in Rotherham, is now in an equivalent position Down Under for the entire state of Victoria.

Meantime, the fear of being perceived as "racist" prevails even in the news stories about how terrible it is that nobody did anything. As James Delingpole explains, if you have to get specific about the perpetrators, the preferred euphemism is "Asian", a word that in Fleet Street doesn't mean Chinese or oriental but persons deriving from the Indian sub-continent. This is, apart from anything else, grossly unfair to Hindus. The men who raped and tortured these girls were, in Rotherham as elsewhere, mostly Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. And their victims were not.
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So now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity - along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn. The solutions to the internal contradictions of multiculturalism are (a) David Cameron's expanded security state; (b) Afsun Qureshi's universal prostration before Islam; or © an end to mass Muslim immigration. The last is too obvious for any viable western politician ever to propose it.
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That leaves Wilberforce's "reformation of manners" - on a scale he never contemplated, and with a self-segregating community extremely resistant to outside influence. Meanwhile, leaders such as David Cameron keep hoping that somehow all these excitable young men with their surplus energies will embrace "British values", without ever being able to say what these "British values" are, other than the stuff Yorkshire schools teach as the source of all the evils in the world - imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc. And even as we dither, in Rotherham and elsewhere, Islam is already reforming our manners. As I wrote the other day, slowly, remorselessly, we are becoming them.


Yet the reporting in the New York Times, the so-called 'paper of record' fails to mention

what for many other mainstream news reports is the key issue: the investigation traced the local government officials’ inaction primarily to fears of offending the Muslim community. […]  The religion angle is completely absent from the Times article. 
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This story points to the problem of Muslim integration in Europe (and elsewhere). Policy elites have authorized mass immigration without much public discussion or consent, and the cultures and values aren’t mixing well (exacerbated by horrible economic problems in much of Europe, thanks also to the elite’s euro fiasco). These factors combine to create a potentially explosive situation on the ground. Readers of the Times won’t understand this very well and will miss one of the key issues driving European, and therefore world, politics.

Rebecca Hamilton  Rotherham and the Cowardly Act of Offering Up Young Girls to the Dragon of Misogyny

We are being told that the local police and the rest of the community were so fearful of being called out by the forces of political correctness that they offered up their city’s young girls to avoid it. This echoes tales of heretofore mythical villagers, offering up their daughters to appease the dragon. Only this is real life.
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I’ve been reading for months about ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, kidnapping Christian girls, and raping them and selling them into sex trafficking. Boko Haram kidnapped almost 300 school girls for the express purpose of selling them into sex slavery. In other news, we have the Sidney gang rapes of Australian girls by Australian nationals of Lebanese Muslim descent, and the gang rapes in Holland by men of Turkish and Moroccan descent.

Does anybody see a pattern here?

The politically correct crowd can yak about “racism” and “Islamaphobia” all they want. What we are dealing with is violent and vile misogyny of almost mind-boggling proportions. And it’s not just the rapists who are misogynists. Whole countries — entire nations — are willing to sacrifice their girls to the dragon of politically-correct lies.  The Rotherham police can now join the cops of Juarez who allowed young women to be kidnapped, raped and tortured to death and would not lift a finger.
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We also have a pattern of one particular group of people — of whom the Rotherham rapists are a part — engaging in terror tactics against helpless civilians in a number of places around the world. Not only do they kidnap/rape/enslave and sell young girls, they burn, behead and annihilate whole populations.
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We justify it with self-righteous claims that anyone who speaks against it is a racist who hates Muslims. The obvious response to that is Who is the racist here? Who is raping whom?

I, for one, do not hate Muslims. I believe that there are a lot of Muslims who feel trapped between these rapists and the larger society. But we do those people no good by allowing the savages among them to run free and terrorize all of us, including them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

"It fell on my ears as a ludicrous scheme"

Published in 1970, the book Sexual Politics by radical feminist Kate Millet was required reading in the nascent women's movement.  So influential was she that Kate Millet was inducted into the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame in 2013.

Her sister Mallory Millet after living in Southeast Asia with her American executive husband, filed for divorce and relocated to New York City with her young child to join her sister Kate where she became "an unwitting witness to history".  In Front Page magazine Mallory writes about the devastating legacy of her sister in Marxist Feminism's Ruined Lives.

It was 1969. Kate invited me to join her for a gathering at the home of her friend, Lila Karp. They called the assemblage a “consciousness-raising-group,” a typical communist exercise, something practiced in Maoist China.  We gathered at a large table as the chairperson opened the meeting with a back-and-forth recitation, like a Litany, a type of prayer done in Catholic Church. But now it was Marxism, the Church of the Left, mimicking religious practice:

“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
“How can we destroy monogamy?”

Their answer left me dumbstruck, breathless, disbelieving my ears.  Was I on planet earth?  Who were these people?

“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.

They proceeded with a long discussion on how to advance these goals by establishing The National Organization of Women.  It was clear they desired nothing less than the utter deconstruction of Western society. The upshot was that the only way to do this was “to invade every American institution.  Every one must be permeated with ‘The Revolution’”: The media, the educational system, universities, high schools, K-12, school boards, etc.; then, the judiciary, the legislatures, the executive branches and even the library system.

It fell on my ears as a ludicrous scheme, as if they were a band of highly imaginative children planning a Brinks robbery; a lark trumped up on a snowy night amongst a group of spoiled brats over booze and hashish.

How could twelve American women who were the most respectable types imaginable — clean and privileged graduates of esteemed institutions: Columbia, Radcliffe, Smith, Wellesley, Vassar; the uncle of one was Secretary of War under Franklin Roosevelt — plot such a thing?  Most had advanced degrees and appeared cogent, bright, reasonable and good. How did these people rationally believe they could succeed with such vicious grandiosity?  And why?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

September 2, 2014

The real "rape culture"

These are the Rotherham councillors who presided during the child abuse scandal

 Rotherham Councillors

They were willing to let Muslim gangs rape and torture at least 1400 young white girls in Rotherham, a city the size of Buffalo, and do nothing lest they rock the boat or appear racist.  The majority of them were women.

When a whistle-blower came forward in 2002 and informed the Council that 270 girls had been sexually exploited in the previous year primarily by British Pakistani men who are called Asians though they are not Asian but Muslim, the Council's response.

They said you must never refer to that again, you must never refer to Asian men,” she said.

“And [the] other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues.”

The researcher also says that before her report could be published, someone stole her data from her office. Because there was no evidence of a break-in, she says the thief must have been a council employee. The report was never published, Holt reports, “and the council even tried unsuccessfully to get the researcher sacked.”

“I was subjected to the most intense personal hostility,” says the researcher. “There were threats made from a range of sources. I’ve never seen back-covering like it, and I still feel extremely angry about that.”

Ian Tuttle calls out feminists for their failure to say anything, Feminists see “rape culture” in nail polish (and everywhere else) but now remain silent about real abuse.

The U.K. Mirror, for instance, reports that “Emma,” a Rotherham-area girl, was raped once a week beginning when she was 13 years old. When she provided to police the names of 250 men she claimed had raped her, police ignored her. Hundreds, if not thousands, of girls in Rotherham and throughout England probably experienced the same.

In Rotherham there is a real-life “rape culture.” But you will not learn anything new about it from Salon, the Daily Beast, Jezebel, or Slate. It has gone unmentioned at Feministing, Bitch Media, or the Feminist Majority Foundation. There have been no outraged op-eds from Jenny Kutner, Jessica Valenti, or Samantha Leigh Allen.

These are, apparently, not the rapes they are looking for.

It is hard not to interpret the feminist blogosphere’s silence on Rotherham as an indication of the movement’s ultimate lack of seriousness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2014

"‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age"

From Rotherham , a large town in South Yorkshire of about  258 thousand comes the horrifying, appalling report of police, councilmen and social workers allowing mainly white girls as young as 11 to be raped, threatened with death and turned into sex slaves by Pakistani gangs so no one could accuse them of being racist.    A grotesque sacrifice of young girls on the altar of political correctness.

You can be sure that none of them will be punished and taxpayers will bear the cost of damage awards of the civil suits that are sure to follow.

Rotherham sex abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited by Asian gangs while authorities turned a blind eye

More than 1,400 children were sexually abused over a 16 year period by gangs of pedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorized as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.

In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.

Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.  Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.

New York Times 

A report released on Tuesday on accusations of widespread sexual abuse in the northern England city of Rotherham found that about 1,400 minors — some as young as 11 years old — were beaten, raped and trafficked from 1997 to 2013 as the local authorities ignored a series of red flags.

Some children were doused in gasoline and threatened with being set on fire if they reported their abusers, the report said, and others were forced to watch rapes and threatened with the same fate. In more than a third of the cases, the victims appear to have been known to child protection agencies, but the police and local government officials failed to act……

The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case. Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out. The report accused officials of ignoring “a politically inconvenient truth” in turning a blind eye to men of Pakistani heritage grooming vulnerable white girls for sex.
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Some officials were apparently ordered by their managers to withhold information on the ethnic origin of the abusers, the report said. As a result, no contact was made with local Pakistani leaders for help in identifying gangs that continued to assault and abduct teenagers.


Some Pakistani councillors in Rotherham 'blocked attempts' to tackle child abuse… and some 'tried to force social workers to reveal the refuges where domestic violence victims were staying'

Sue Reid 'I was called a liar and a racist for exposing this sex gang abuse horror'

Even those of us who warned for years of young girls being traded in provincial towns as sex slaves were shocked at yesterday’s revelations of the scale of the crimes.  Particularly shameful was the silence of police, councillors and senior social workers. For crucial information about the crimes that had been given to the authorities — often by parents frantic about their daughters going missing or turning up drunk and dishevelled late at night — was either suppressed or ignored.

And so the brutal street-grooming and sexual abuse went on for 16 years. One girl quoted in the report says she thought ‘gang-rape was a usual part of growing up’.
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It is vital to stress two important things. First, that the great majority of Asian men are law-abiding citizens with strong family values. Second, that rape and pedophilia are problems across all sectors of society and have nothing to do with race and ethnicity.
Yet the responsibility for these crimes to continue unpunished for so long lies with the weakness of those authorities whose duty it is to care for the vulnerable.
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Speaking on conditions of strict anonymity because she fears for her safety even though she has now left the town, one of the early victims of the Rotherham gangs told me that she was at primary school when she was first attacked. ‘One minute I was playing with dolls, the next I was a sex slave.’

'I saved all my clothes I was raped in but the police lost them and said it was my word against his': Shocking claims of Rotherham sex abuse gang victim whose parents sent her abroad when authorities failed to protect her

The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards

White experts and officers have for too long been reluctant to confront serious offences committed by black and Asian people. Such extreme tolerance is the result of specious morality, that credo that says investigating such crimes would encourage racism or enrage community activists and leaders, or, worse, make the professionals appear racist. So, instead of saving children who were being gang raped, drugged, assaulted, threatened and terrorised, they chose to protect rapists, abusers, traffickers and drug dealers. And themselves.
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The perpetrators are not pedophiles in the normal sense of the word. Racial and cultural odium as much as ugly lust and power drives them to abuse. Most of them are also irreversibly misogynist. It is a lethal mix, this sexist psychopathy.

I partly blame their families and communities. Too many Asian mothers spoil their boys, undervalue their girls, and demean their daughters-in-law. Within some British Asian circles, the West is considered degenerate and immoral. So it’s OK to take their girls and ruin them further. Some of the most fierce rows I have ever had have been with Asian women who hold these disgusting views.

Ann Althouse “I’d like to see more detail about this ‘fear of being thought as racist.’ It sounds like a confession of deliberate law enforcement paralysis, a choice to permit thousands of children to be raped for decades on end, because of befuddlement about how on earth to begin to do anything without looking bad or because of a sense that your community is already hopelessly overwhelmed by evil forces that will only become more aggressive and violent if opposed.”    Perhaps they need to consider the possibility that there are worse things than being thought racist. Of course, if that idea were to spread, a powerful tool of social control would vanish.

"Political Correctness is Fascism Pretending to be Manners"  Bookworm Room

‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age writes Ed West in the Spectator

How could this have happened? A clue is given by the report’s authors, who state that ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist’.

Racism has become so hysterical a subject that it has crowded out all other moral concerns, including in this case the concern to look after children…..

Political correctness was supposed to make us nicer, but in reality it just makes people stupider. As anyone who has done any sort of online test will tell you, much of human intelligence comes down to pattern recognition; the whole purpose of political correctness is to stop us noticing patterns even when they stare us in the face.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

Jihad in America

For two bloody months, an armed jihadist serial killer ran loose across the country. At least four innocent men died this spring and summer as acts of "vengeance" on behalf of aggrieved Muslims, the self-confessed murderer has now proclaimed. Have you heard about this horror? Probably not.

That would be Ali Muhammad Brown of whom Ace writes What if There Was a Coordinated Group Terror and Murder Campaign Against Gays Living In America, and The Media Didn't Report It?

a group of men, led by a Ali Mohammad Brown, used the hook-up phone app "Grindr" to arrange liaisons with gay men, before Brown murdered them. (I do not know the extent of the accomplices' involvement.)

Ali Mohammad Brown is a "strict Muslim," according to one press account, and according to prosecutors, was murdering people for terroristic motives, as part of a "bloody crusade" against the US government as vengeance against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Apparently he chose gay men as among the most unrighteous of all possible terror-murder victims.

Robert Spencer 10 Acts of Jihad in America That Americans Haven’t Heard About

While the world’s attention is focused on the Islamic State, and its jihadis tell Americans that they will “drown all of you in blood,” jihad activity continues in the United States – although hardly anyone notices through the fog of mainstream media obfuscation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2014

"Sex change is biologically impossible"

Dr. Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, writes in the Wall Street Journal,  Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution

Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
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With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one's maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.
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You won't hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.
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We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"….stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.
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At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

"Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here"

Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.  Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.  You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values.  If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.

Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil  source

In the NYT, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress writes Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

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Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene…..

The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

Thinking past ourselves, 'more than me, more than now'

Ryan Dobson Get Over Your Selfie  Gazing in the digital mirror, we lose the habit of seeing ourselves as part of a bigger story.

A Facebook  timeline goes back to 2007. The timeline for my father, James Dobson, goes back four generations to his great-grandfather. My great-great-grandfather was on his way to kill a man when he was diverted to a tent revival in a small Texas town. Instead of taking a life that night, M.V. Billingham gave his life to God. He left his gun on the altar.

M.V. was unarmed, but after that he habitually deployed a secret weapon. For most of his adult life, he routinely prayed for his son, for his son's children, and for their children to the fourth generation . . . all the way to my dad.  Whatever a "selfie" says about a person, this man was the opposite. With a strong sense of "more than me, more than now," more than a century ago, he prayed for people he'd never meet.

Did it make a difference? My family says yes. Among other things, my dad grew up aware of his place in a bigger story. He knew the next leg of the race was his to run; the baton was his to hand off.  Who's going to drop out of a relay like that? Not me. ….

We're losing the habit of thinking past ourselves. As we do, we lose our best selves and our best chances to help shape what comes next. We drop the baton.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2014

"Politics is becoming about identity all the time"

Richard Fernandez  in Man Without a Country poses questions we all can ponder.  Where do our loyalties lie?  To God and country or to our primary affinity group?

The Left for its part, has done its level best to multiply the hyphens while simultaneously trying to increase the size and power of the central state. They little realized or perhaps they realized all too well, that a program of cultural fragmentation combined with growing central power is the high road to dictatorship. You can have cultural diversity and a strong central government but not both — not unless it’s headed by a Sultan or an Emperor….

Tribalism is trending.  The End of History world is over. All of a sudden it matters again whether you’re Yazidi, Kurdish, Sunni, Shi’ite, Druze or Christian. It apparently matters whether you’re Russian or non-Russian, at least in Eastern Europe. And as Tolu Ongulesi in Nigeria notes, tribalism is alive and well in Africa, especially now that Ebola is running rampant…..

History may be evolving away from the Westphalian State, with its unitary national culture, flags and traditions and moving towards affinity groups whose allegiance is primarily to themselves;  which only form temporary alliances based on expedience in competition with other affinity groups.

The evidence is suggestive. Nobody is just an “American” any more. Anyone who insists on the plain identifier must be a secret bigot. You are a [modifier][-][American]. In fact, Forbes noted that “the number of Americans renouncing United States citizenship or terminating long-term residency is on a record pace.” And why not? The unadorned term “American” is being drained of meaning; what value there is lies in the prefix, not in the suffix…..

Politics is becoming about identity all the time….

There are affinity groups which cut across ethnicity based on sexual orientation, religion, level of disability, age and degree of dependence on one industry or the other, including government. This creates a bewildering landscape of interests and competing loyalties. The Democrats believe that the key to understanding the wilderness they’ve created is Big Data and its interface, social media. But if hyphenation — indeed multiple hyphenation — is the future, then Washington may be in the past.

What if nations’, as traditionally defined, are now passe? Suppose we are moving to a future where Westphalian nationality is nominal and operational identity is associated with a primary affinity group (PAG)? The most obvious candidate PAG is money. The tribe of the executive airport lounge, first class seating and the non-motel hotel. Some believe it is now possible to speak of a transnational elite whose real citizenship is money.

Or perhaps the PAG will be defined by values, religion, or membership in a mutual protection association into which you pay dues, like the military, police or ISIS. If this is the future then the dominant attractor of 21st century will be self-identification. Then we are not watching the last religious or ideological wars, merely the first.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

August 4, 2014

"It would be lawless, reckless, a leap into the antidemocratic dark"

Ross Douthat in Obama's Impeachment Game

SOMETHING rather dangerous is happening in American politics right now, all the more so for being taken for granted by many of the people watching it unfold….. the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.
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It would be lawless, reckless, a leap into the antidemocratic dark.  And an American political class that lets this Rubicon be crossed without demurral will deserve to live with the consequences for the republic, in what remains of this presidency and in presidencies yet to come.

Attorney John Hinderaker: Is Barack Obama Plotting a Coup?

That seems like an awfully strong word, but it is the term that distinguished law professor Glenn Reynolds, no hysteric, uses to describe the Obama administration’s oft-reported plan to issue executive amnesty to five or six million illegal immigrants in violation of federal law. Glenn’s characterization is a fair one. When a tyrant asserts the right to rule by decree in a state that has formerly been subject to the rule of law, he is commonly described as carrying out a coup d’etat.

That is just what the Obama administration has done, and reportedly will continue to do. ….

When Obama changed the Affordable Care Act by decree–to name just one example, substituting “2014″ for “2013″ in a critical provision of the statute–he acted as a tyrant. In his refusal to enforce the immigration laws, contrary to the Constitution which requires him to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” he has acted like a tinpot dictator, asserting the right to change or ignore the law by fiat. If he now directly nullifies Section 274(a) of the Immigration and Nationalities Act by legalizing, and issuing work permits to, five or six million illegal immigrants, thereby repealing federal law by decree, how else can we describe his action but as a coup? The Obama administration openly takes the position that the rule of law no longer applies.

The Washington Post admits that Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama's worst issue -- definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency -- when it comes to public perception.  Three to one Americans are opposed to his immigration policies in general.

And no wonder given the border stories reported in the past weeks about human trafficking, drug cartels, terrorists, children used as pawns and unknown health risks.  For me to begin to realize that this crisis was planned leaves me gobsmacked.  In what sane or rational world would a government plan chaos? 

Report: Obama Administration Ignored Border Crisis to Win Re-Election and Push Amnesty Bill

According to a report in the Washington Post, "top officials at the White House and the State Department had repeatedly been warned of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago," and the White House was reportedly even "directly involved in efforts in early 2012 to care for the children when it helped negotiate a temporary shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio."

In 2013, "a team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government’s capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse" and "the researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years." A "former senior federal law enforcement official" told the outlet that immigration, law enforcement, and border patrol officials were raising "red flags" and "ringing alarm bells" for years. Texas Governor Rick Perry even wrote a letter to Obama in 2011, which Perry has repeatedly been mentioning during the crisis….Was the White House told there were huge flows of Central Americans coming? Of course they were told. A lot of times,’’ a person involved in the planning told the Post.
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The Obama administration also increased funding for resettlement programs, signaling they had anticipated a much greater number of illegal immigrants than the administration made public. For instance, the Health and Human Services Department's $149 Office of Refugee Resettlement budget increased to $376 million in 2013, "and the Obama administration requested $495 million in its fiscal 2014 budget proposal," as the Post noted. This year, "the line-item for the refugee office had increased significantly from Obama’s initial request of $495 million to $868 million — based on the larger projections of minors."

Border Tsunami

There is a single simple cause behind the human tragedy at the border: Obama’s refusal to enforce the immigration laws. The steady flow became a tsunami after Obama implemented childhood amnesty (DACA) in 2012. This lawless immigration policy gave legal status to young illegal aliens by Obama edict. But Obama’s lawless leniency went even further. The president publicly and proudly announced that he will not enforce other immigration laws. His presidential invitation spread like wildfire throughout Central and South America, and the lawless invasion grew worse.

White House Hid Huge Spike Of Families Crossing Border

New data shows the White House has painted a false picture of the Central American migration by hiding a huge spike in “family units” who are illegally crossing the Texas border. The data, which was dumped by the U.S. border patrol late Friday afternoon, shows that inflow of youths and children traveling without parents has doubled since 2013, to 57,525 in the nine months up to July 2014.  But the number of migrants who cross the border in so-called “family units” has spiked five-fold to 55,420, according to the border patrol’s data, which came out amid a storm of news about the shoot-down of a Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine, delays in failed U.S. nuke talks with Iran, and on Hamas’ continued war against Israel.

In the Rio Grande area where most of the migrants are crossing the border, the number of so-called “unaccompanied children” was actually outnumbered by the inflow by adults, parents and children in “family units,” according to the data. The much-faster growth in “family units” has been hidden by White House and agency officials, who have tried to portray the influx as a wave of children fleeing abuse and violence.

The border invasion was, by all evidence,  been planned by the Obama administration.  Make no mistake, the president has instigated the present influx of illegal aliens.
writes Andrew McCarthy in  An Obama-Caused Border Disaster

The president has spent nearly six years giving effective legal immunity to millions of illegal aliens already here. His administration, meanwhile, hooks them on the government gravy train and fights state efforts to detain them, deny social services to them, and prevent them from fraudulently voting. Under those circumstances, the rolling out of a federal red carpet for teeming masses of illegal aliens must be understood as intentional.
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Make no mistake: President Obama has instigated this crisis — a two-fer that advances the project of remaking the country while crowding the IRS, the VA, Benghazi, Bergdahl, the Taliban, ISIS, Hamas, the EPA, Obamacare, Ukraine, and other debacles out of the public’s finite attention span. The invasion was invited by a systematic campaign to gut the immigration laws.
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Judge Hannen went on to recount that this was the fourth case in as many weeks that followed this fact pattern. In each case, illegal-alien parents funded criminal conspiracies to smuggle their illegal-alien children into the country; in each case, Obama’s DHS stopped the smugglers and the children at the border, yet — instead of arresting the illegal-alien parents behind the scheme — willfully perfected the conspiracy by doing what the smuggler had been illegally recruited to do: deliver the children to their illegal alien parents. “The DHS,” the court concluded, “has simply chosen not to enforce the United States’ border security laws.”

Business is booming! Child migrant smugglers tell how they make $4,000 profit per person on treacherous clandestine journey from Central America to the US

Vast majority of migrants who enter the U.S. illegally do so with the help of a network of smugglers known as 'coyotes'. Business generates $6.6 billion a year for smugglers along Latin America's routes to the U.S.. Migrants pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 each for the illegal journey across thousands of miles in the care of smuggling networks. Some of the money is used to pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains and drug cartels controlling the routes north. The profit made by the coyotes can be as much as $4,000 per person

Human Smuggler: ‘Business Is Very Good’

Casillas, the migration expert, said the migrant smuggling business is a complex corporate structure. Guides at the border usually work for honchos who run the operation from afar and only pocket a fraction of the price charged to the migrants. One of the most important coyotes moving immigrants from El Salvador lives in Texas, he said.  “It’s a criminal chain that has two segments. The invisible segment … is dedicated to administration, organization and finances,” he said. “They don’t necessarily even see the migrants.”  The guides often don’t know who they are working for, he added. The big guys rarely get caught. While federal officials along the U.S. border seem to roll out cases against human smugglers almost on a weekly basis, the targets are largely drivers and stash house operators.

Former Border Patrol Deputy Chief: ‘All of the Good That Was Done after 9/11 Up to Now Has Been Reversed Singlehandedly’

Colburn, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the resulting national-security risk has to do with the “clutter” of people at the border. He says all of the gains made since 9/11 came as a result of reducing the number of people crossing the border. The Border Patrol’s task is to sort through the haystack of people as they come across, he says. “What this situation on the border is doing is growing the haystack, is adding clutter, so that those dangerous needles get through because we’re tied up capturing, instead, juvenile children from Guatemala and El Salvador,” he says. “When you see the cartels — the Zetas and MS-13 and the Gulf Cartel — laughing about this on the Internet, you know what’s behind it.”

BORDER PATROL: "We need help!"; Cartels lay down .50-cal suppressing fire to help illegals invade U.S.

Shots rang out Friday night in Rincon Peninsula, Texas, forcing U.S. border patrol agents to take cover. The shots originated from south of the Rio Grande River and according to Border Patrol sources they came from a high-powered .50 caliber rifle. Based on what agents witnessed next, according to Texas State Representative Louie Gohmert, this wasn’t just random fire.

“When the shooting stopped, about 40 to 50 people came out on the U.S. side and turned themselves in. So clearly the rounds were being fired to suppress every effort to stop anybody intervening with anyone or anything coming across,” Gohmert added. “We have no idea what or how many or whom came across with the other illegal immigrants.”

Sources said they believe the gunfire came from members of Mexican drug cartels, which include former military members trained in shooting that type of weaponry.
Border Patrol sources said the rounds were clearly identifiable because .50- caliber weapons make a distinctive noise when fired. Sources said they also believe this is the first time that Border Patrol agents have taken direct fi

Judicial Watch Mexican Cartels Help Hezbollah Infiltrate U.S.

Hezbollah’s business relationship with Mexican drug cartels is a driving force behind this phenomenon, according to the analysis that quotes alarming excerpts from the book. For instance in 2009, a former Chief of Operations for the DEA said that Hezbollah uses “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”

A year later a man (Jamal Yousef) arrested in New York admitted stealing weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah and told authorities of a Hezbollah stockpile in Mexico that included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons. That same year a Hezbollah terrorist was captured in Tijuana and a senior Mexican military officer confirmed the group was conducting explosives training for members of Mexican drug cartels.

In the U.S., law enforcement officials across the nation’s Southwest region report a rise in imprisoned gang members with Farsi tattoos that experts say express loyalty to Hezbollah, the book analysis reveals. One U.S. law enforcement official is quoted as saying this: “You could almost pick your city and you would probably have a [Hezbollah] presence.”

This is not surprising considering that for years a number of reports have exposed the connection between Mexico and Middle Eastern terrorists. In 2010 a veteran federal agent in the U.S. immigration system exposed a government cover-up of Middle Eastern terrorists entering the country through Mexico. The 30-year agent confirmed that thousands of SIAs (Special Interest Aliens) from terrorist nations like Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan—classified as OTM (Other Than Mexican)—were captured along the southern border.

Leaked report from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), marked sensitive shows the entire world is exploiting open southern US border with individuals from  Syria, Pakistan, Albania, China , Egypt, Yemen, Somalia  and the small nations currently suffering from the largest Ebola crossing the border.

'A lot of people die out here' and 'all this blood…is on Obama's hands': Shocking images show corpses of illegal immigrants left to die after border crossings

Rancher shares grotesque photos with MailOnline, saying Obama bears the blame for a rising death toll among illegal immigrants
Volunteer patrol network in south Texas has found 259 bodies in one county alone, maybe 20 percent of the actual body count
Border Patrol source concedes the agency has no idea how many are perishing between the border and official government checkpoints

‘Potential for a Public Health Disaster’: Illegal Immigrant Surge Leaves Officials With ‘No Idea’ Which Diseases Are Coming Across

“There is really no hard stop at the border, and we have no idea health-wise what diseases are coming across,” a health official who works in the McAllen border area told TheBlaze. ”There’s no real medical screening either. Basically if [an illegal immigrant] tells a Border Patrol agent or law enforcement official they feel sick, or if they look sick, then they’re checked. If they don’t say anything, that’s it, they’re cleared.”
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“It’s a rough situation for the Border Patrol agents and the illegals immigrants as well,” Cabrera said. “We can only do so much and we’re not doctors. We can’t be sure that some of the people who’ve already left our facility aren’t carrying something contagious. This is a situation the federal government should have already prepared for but they didn’t.”

Former Border Patrol Agent Warns What’s Coming

Zach Taylor is a 27 year veteran Border Patrol agent with supervisory experience. He has testified before Congress as an expert witness on criminal activity in wilderness areas. His message is credible. He accuses the federal government in a coverup that is deliberately shielding critical information from the public.

Taylor says that whoever is perpetrating the border crisis is engaged in a perfect asymmetrical military tactic. While the American people focus on “the children,” he points out that they are actually only a tiny proportion of the people crossing the border. That we are apprehending about 10 percent of the illegal border crossers, and that the other 90 percent are not children. Since only 10 – 15 percent of those apprehended are children, that means we are focused on about 1 percent of the problem. The adults that we are missing are bringing in weapons, personnel and supplies while our attention is diverted by the needs of the children.

How to Think About Immigration writes  Kevin Williamson. The U.S. government is generally expected to act in the interest of the people of the United States.

1. Borders are a fundamental aspect of national sovereignty. They are, in part, what defines a country —
2. Where the national government acts to establish rules and standards for immigration, it must first establish the controlling criterion, answering the question of what it intends to accomplish through its immigration policies.
4. Immigrants often serve our national economic interests by bringing skills and resources to the service of the U.S. economy.
5. Immigration from nearby countries — and, to some extent, all modern immigration — presents absorption problems that were not present with, say, European immigrants in the late 18th and early 19th century.
6. The United States of America is not the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federal Register. It is not a legal entity, and it is not an abstraction. It is a particular people, with a particular culture and particular institutions.
7. We write our laws down for a reason. The point of having general, enforceable rules is that they are generally enforced. There is, as Andrew C. McCarthy likes to point out, room for prosecutorial discretion. There is not room for refusing to enforce the law in tens of millions of cases, and then creating a post facto regime of non-enforcement. That is simple chaos.

Even  in the Ellis Island days the US never accepted unaccompanied children as legal immigrants.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:16 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2014

One hundred years ago, the Great War began

It is impossible to overestimate the effect of World War I.  This summer and for the next four years we will learn what we didn't know about the Great War and its disastrous effects on millions of lives across the world

The War That Broke a Century  Peggy Noonan

A king, a kaiser, a czar—all were undone as they realized what they had unleashed with World War I….. It was the great disaster of the 20th century, the one that summoned or forced the disasters that would follow, from Lenin and Hitler to World War II and the Cold War. It is still, a century later, almost impossible to believe that one event, even a war, could cause such destruction, such an ending of worlds.

History still isn't sure and can never be certain of the exact number of casualties. Christopher Clark, in "The Sleepwalkers" (2013), puts it at 20 million military and civilian deaths and 21 million wounded. The war unleashed Bolshevism, which brought communism, which in time would kill tens of millions more throughout the world. (In 1997, "The Black Book of Communism," written by European academics, put the total number at a staggering 94 million.)

Thrones were toppled, empires undone. Western Europe lost a generation of its most educated and patriotic, its future leaders from all classes—aristocrats and tradesmen, teachers, carpenters and poets. No nation can lose a generation of such men without effect. Their loss left Europe, among other things, dumber.

Ghosts of the First World War: Century-old photos of soldiers marching down our streets superimposed on modern-day images
The new photos by Getty Images photographer Peter Macdiarmid have been matched up with archive shots from various image banks.

 Wounded Wwisoldiers Beach
Indian soldiers who were wounded fighting at Flanders recuperate on Bournemouth beach in 1917, while modern-day visitors are also seen there

In the National Geographic, an  Interview with British historian David Reynolds on his  book  The Long Shadow
The Great War, as it came to be known, lasted four years, from 1914 to 1918. But its aftereffects haunted Europe and the rest of the world through the 20th century—and are still felt in our own times.  It helps explain today's bloodshed in the Middle East

Rapunzel-like display outside the Tower of London launched as more than 800,000 ceramic poppies will be planted over the summer to commemorate the First World War

A ceramic poppy will be planted in the Tower's moat for each allied victim.  More than 800,000 poppies will be planted before Armistice Day in November

 Poppies Londontower

In the Atlantic World War I in Photos: Introduction  by Alan Taylor

 Archduke Ferdinand+Sophie

In 1914, Austria-Hungary was a powerful and huge country, larger than Germany, with nearly as many citizens. It had been ruled by Emperor Franz Joseph I since 1848, who had been grooming his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the heir to the throne. In this photo, taken in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, a visiting Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Czech Countess Sophie Chotek, are departing a reception at City Hall. Earlier that morning, on the way to the hall, their motorcade had been attacked by one of a group of Serbian nationalist assassins, whose bomb damaged one car and injured dozens of bystanders. After this photo was taken, the Archduke and his wife climbed into the open car, headed for a nearby hospital to visit the wounded. Just blocks away though, the car paused to turn around, directly in front of another assassin, who walked up to the car and fired two shots, killing both Franz Ferdinand and his wife. (AP Photo)

How the Peace Pope Almost Put an End to the First World War

Under Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922), the Vatican became a center for effective Christian peace activism. Benedict took office on September 3, 1914, a nightmare moment in European history. …..

In November 1914, he protested, “There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain. Who would imagine, as we see them thus filled with hatred of one another, that they are all of one common stock, all of the same nature, all members of the same human society? Who would recognize brothers, whose Father is in Heaven?”    In 1916, he famously lamented “the suicide of civilized Europe.”
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Benedict also offered strictly practical plans for limiting the conflict…..In retrospect, though, Benedict’s ideas impress by their practicality. If his principles sound familiar, that is because they were substantially incorporated into Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points of the following year, which supplied the terms on which the defeated Germans finally accepted an Armistice. Carried out on the lines Benedict envisaged, his 1917 scheme might well have avoided the disasters of the post-1918 world, and even the Second World War.

Life on the eve of war

We’ve delved into the Telegraph’s archives and read the newspapers of 1914. They show just how unaware we were of the horrors ahead. This is the life Britain unwittingly left behind…..What is so unnerving reading the Telegraph in those days after the assassination was the way life carried on as normal. People continued to browse dress patterns, plan weekend drives, tear out recipes and queue at cinemas, quite oblivious to what was coming. This is the life they were about to leave behind forever.

….Fashion -Outfits called “ready-mades” had arrived in the West End shops and women began daring to go hatless,
…..Cars and planes -There are fewer fatalities on the roads now than there were before the First World War, despite there being eighty times more motor vehicles. Danger seemed dashing, and brakes could be a little tricky, back then.
….Food -Tinned food was all the rage, as were cookery books and new home refrigeration devices. But we still hadn’t learned to prepare vegetables properly.
….Art & Culture.  Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford reigned supreme at the cinema, Serge Diaghilev was a sensation at Drury Lane and the works of a young Pablo Picasso shocked the nation.
….Women’s Rights - The Telegraph called it “a hopeless exercise” but the suffragettes were bolder than ever in their fight for women's right to vote in 1914.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:49 PM | Permalink

July 23, 2014

Widespread animal mutation

Widespread Animal Mutation: Legacy of the Pill

News report from Trenton Times : ‘Intersex’ fish found in Delaware, other rivers a result of hormone-disrupting chemicals……The fish’s endocrine system, which regulates hormones and reproductive systems, is being thrown off by the estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals being dumped into the water through both agricultural and human waste, such as manure and human waste water, along with synthetic chemicals coming from plastics and pharmaceutical chemicals that act like estrogens, such as the ones found in birth control pills.
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So, in addition to reduced libido and increased risk of venous thrombosis, depression, and breast, cervix, and liver cancer, women taking oral contraceptives are also radically altering the environment. But, c’mon, y’know: sex!

If any other chemical was causing widespread and proven mutations in wildlife, the environmentalists would be going ballistic. But from them, not a peep because: seriously, guys: sex! It’s totally worth it!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2014

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

Atheists and secular humanists consistently make the claim that religion is the #1 cause of violence and war throughout the history of mankind. One of atheism's key cheerleaders, Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”1
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An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature  which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

 Wars-Pie-Chart

The truth is, non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for nearly all of humankind’s wars. Lives lost during religious conflict pales in comparison to those experienced during the regimes who wanted nothing to do with the idea of God – something showcased in R. J. Rummel’s work Lethal Politics and Death by Government:

Non-Religious Dictator Lives Lost
  • Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000
  • Mao Zedong - 37,828,000
  • Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000
  • Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000
  • Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000
  • Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000
  • Pol Pot - 2,397,0003
Rummel says: “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.”

The historical evidence is quite clear: Religion is not the #1 cause of war.  via Tea at Trianon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2014

When people simply forgot how to build things

In Aeon Farming the apocalypse by Keith Farrell

"When my life came crashing down I took shelter on my farm, surviving with 11th-century tools like the sickle and scythe"
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Only gradually did I realize that I had far more in common with a post-apocalypse survivor – and chronic illness, not to mention financial challenges, are apocalyptic in their way – than with an 11th-century farmer. Those farmers, after all, knew what they were doing; their whole lives would have been spent doing it. They were far more prepared for a post-apocalypse life on the land than me or almost anyone I knew

Rod Dreher comments in Livin' The Medieval Dream,

When you have to preserve skills and methods from generation to generation simply to survive, traditions develop, and they become critically important, even after people may have forgotten why they came about. Then along comes technology to free you from traditions, and you discard them. Eventually you come to believe that anything you will is possible. And you forget that we all live on a soap bubble.

Historian Brian Ward-Perkins says that the retreat of material culture after the Western Roman Empire fell was catastrophic; people simply forgot how to build things — and that with the disappearance of the relatively complex economic networks under imperial Rome, intellectual life also shriveled. I interviewed Ward-Perkins about this once in his Oxford University office, but I don’t know that I understood so intimately what he meant by that until I read Ferrell’s essay.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

The Unhappiest Worker

Psychology Today offers a profile of the unhappiest workers in America today.  She is female, in her forties, unmarried with no children, earning less than $100k a year and in a professional position such as doctor or lawyer.    --

A more comprehensive analysis of trends in subjective well-being across several decades came to similar conclusions regarding female happiness. In The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness published by the American Economic Journal, researchers Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that although women's life circumstances have improved greatly over the past few decades by most objective measures, their happiness has declined—both in absolute terms and relative to men's.

This is so sad.  I know many women who fit this profile. They ignored their biological nature, postponed marriage and swallowed the feminist ideal of being a self-sufficient super achiever, unburdened with children.  So, they have no one to love, no one to care for, no one to give them emotional support.  Except for cats.

By contrast, the profile of the happiest worker is a married male, with a young child, in a senior management position, earning between $150k - $200k and a wife who works part-time. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 AM | Permalink

July 16, 2014

Networks are not communities. We live in a global network, not a global community

An important article from The Art of Manliness: Communities Vs. Networks: To Which Do You Belong?

In making his newest documentary, Korengal, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger wanted to explore the answer to the question of why — despite its dangers and deprivations — men actually miss war when their tour of duty is over. A large part of the answer is the intense camaraderie created in combat — a brotherhood that they lack when they return home. In a recent interview, Junger posits that this absence of camaraderie is often at the root of why soldiers sometimes struggle so acutely to adjust to life after deployment. They come home, Junger says, and realize for the first time what an “alienated society” they truly live in. What they need, he argues, is a country that “operates in more of a community way.” He then adds: “But frankly, that’s what we need.”

Unfortunately, true community in our modern world is hard to find for soldiers and civilians alike. Instead, we increasingly live out our lives as members of networks. This transition from community to network life is truly at the heart of the increasing feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and anomie that many people experience in the modern age. We’ve never been so “connected” — and yet so isolated at the same time.

Networks Are Large and Anonymous; Communities Are Small and Intimate
Because networks are so large, anonymity reigns. Members do not meet face-to-face, do not know if the people they interact with digitally are even who they say they are, and may have no idea who also belongs to the network. Because of the lack of physical intimacy, a culture of honor and shame cannot function, necessitating the erection of numerous rules and regulations to check and control members’ behavior.

In contrast, communities have inherent limits on size. Unlike networks, if communities don’t stop growing, they’ll die. According to Dunbar’s Number, most humans can’t maintain more than around 150 meaningful relationships. Anthropologists have found that hunter-gatherer societies hover around 150 members before they split. In Western military history, the size of a military company — the smallest autonomous and fully functioning unit — has been around 150 members.

Networks Are Artificial, Top-Down; Communities Are Organic, Bottom-Up
Networks are typically artificial; they rarely form organically. And they’re invariably created, and then governed, in a top-down fashion. Policies and regulations are decreed from on high with little or no input from the majority of the people who make up the network. Because those at the top are so removed physically and psychologically from those at the bottom, the solutions ultimately proffered are often out of touch and highly ineffective.

Communities, on the other hand, are organic and autonomous. They’re made up of a collection of real families that are bound together by geography and shared values. When facing a problem, individuals within a community band together to come up with a solution that will work for them. Because the people trying to address problems within the community — including its leaders — are familiar with the group’s unique needs, the solutions that are generated are typically more effective.

Networks Encourage Passivity and Consumption; Communities Require Action and Contribution
Because there are so many people in a network, members assume someone else will take care of problems that arise. But because that’s what everyone else is thinking, nothing gets done. People will step around someone in distress on the street in a big city, or pass the collection plate at a giant church, figuring other people will help. The anonymity of the crowd allows the passive bystander to escape shame.

Networks not only breed passivity, but encourage consumption. They’re all about what you can get, rather than what you must give.

Networks Can Be Location Independent; Communities Are Attached to a Place….

Networks Divide a Person Into Parts; Communities Nurture the Whole Person……

Is This Group I’m Part of a Network or a Community?
….In our modern age, intimate, face-to-face communities are hard to come by; while exceptions exist, networks have almost completely taken over how Americans socially organize themselves. So in evaluating the groups you belong to, it’s perhaps better to ask if they are more like a network, or more like a community. The following questions can help you think through where your group falls on the spectrum:

Do the rules, regulations, and culture of my group come from top leaders that I have never met personally, or do they originate from the group itself?
Do I know the names of every person in my group and interact with them face-to-face?
Does my group have a physical meeting place?
If I left the group, would anyone know I was gone? Would there be any repercussions for doing so?
If I got sick, or needed a favor, how many members of my group could I count on for visits and assistance?
Am I required to contribute to the communal pot, or can I utilize the benefits of the group without making any contributions beyond dues/fees/taxes?

Beware of Networks Wearing Community’s Clothing
But networks can never be a fully satisfying replacement for communities. They’re not designed for social intimacy and fulfillment — they’re designed for efficiency and growth.

the idea of a “global community” has been much ballyhooed in our time (see The World Is Flat), but running it through the above requirements quickly reveals the idea to be an utter farce. If your only obligation to helping other members involves texting a $10 donation to aid tsunami victims every now and again, what you’re part of is a network, not a community.

Another perfect example of networks masquerading as communities is when giant corporations claim that they consider their employees and customers to be “family.” Except in the corporate version of “family,” members are charged for basic services and can be fired if another “brother” or “sister” will work more cheaply from India.

The façade of community quickly disappears when emergency strikes in your life and you really need somebody. Is the Apple community going to rally behind you and help you out? Of course not

Learning How to Live in a Community Again
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 AM | Permalink

July 8, 2014

When gangs replace families

Social chaos is what happens when families break down.  It's happening in Chicago which has the strictest gun laws in the nation.  Over the 4th of July weekend, 80 people were shot and 14 killed.

  Rich Lowry explores What's behind Chicago's carnage

Chicago is a running illustration of the cliché that if you ban guns, only criminals will own them. Not surprisingly, if you are willing to shoot someone in a meaningless gang dispute, you are willing to disregard laws for the purchase and possession of firearms.
Gun laws are beside the point. The tony Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park could have the same laws as gun-friendly Vermont and it would still be extremely safe. What Chicago is suffering from is not a random citywide phenomenon, but a specific, highly concentrated one.

Overall, according to Chicago magazine, the rate of nonfatal gunshot injury in Chicago was 46.5 per 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. But it was only 1.62 per 100,000 for whites. For blacks, it was 112.83 per 100,000. For black males, 239.77, and for black males aged 18-34, 599.65, or “a staggering one in 200.”.....

Chicago is grappling with the profound social breakdown of certain neighborhoods, where the two-parent family has been obliterated and where, too often, young men consider lawlessness the norm.

It is here, as Heather Mac Donald of City Journal writes, that gang members define themselves not by “family, or academic accomplishments or interests, but ruthless fealty to small, otherwise indistinguishable, pieces of territory.”

This breakdown is “the root cause,” to use that old catchphrase, of Chicago’s violence. It blights the lives of countless young men, hundreds of whom end up in the morgue every year.

You would think that trying to find ways to combat it would be an obsession of liberals who profess to care about the welfare of our cities, but all their energy is devoted to income inequality, global warming and other fashionable causes.

And the drumbeat of murder in a great American city goes on.

As Jason Riley points out in Chicago and Black Criminality

The problem is not our gun laws. Nor is it our drug laws, or racist cops, prosecutors and judges. The problem is black criminality, which is a function of black pathology, which ultimately stems from the breakdown of the black family. The late James Q. Wilson put it this way:

"If crime is to a significant degree caused by weak character; if weak character is more likely among the children of unmarried mothers; if there are no fathers who will help raise their children, acquire jobs, and protect their neighborhoods; if boys become young men with no preparation for work; if school achievement is regarded as a sign of having "sold out" to a dominant white culture; if powerful gangs replace weak families—if all these things are true, then the chances of reducing by plan and in the near future the crime rate of low-income blacks are slim."

Wilson wrote that in 2002, but it was true 20 years before then and may still be true 20 years from now if we don't confront the problem head-on. And it's awfully difficult to confront something that most people, especially on the political left, don't even want to talk about.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2014

Quote of the Day

From the Tax Prof Blog,  the IRS Scandal, Day 404 quotes Peggy Noonan and Tale of Two Scandals

But the IRS scandal is different, because if it isn’t stopped—if it isn’t fully uncovered, exposed, and its instigators held accountable—it will suggest an acceptance of the politicization of the IRS, and an expected and assumed partisanship within its future actions. That will be terrible not only for citizens but for the government itself.

The IRS scandal will also have disfigured government in a new and killing way. IRS scandals in the past were about the powerful (Richard Nixon) abusing the powerful (Edward Bennett Williams). This scandal is about the powerful (Lois Lerner, et a.) abusing the not-powerful (normal, on-the-ground Americans such as rural tea-party groups). If it comes to be understood that this kind of thing is how the government now does business, it will be terrible for the spirit and reality of the country.

So many of those who decide what is news cannot, on this issue, see the good faith and honest concern of the many who make this warning. And really, that is tragic.

What are the implications of this claim? It means no one can see any emails Lerner sent to or received from other agencies and individuals, including the White House and members of Congress.

And what is amazing—not surprising, but amazing—is that if my experience of normal human conversation the past few days is any guide, very few people are talking about it and almost no one cares.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

"Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse" "

Sultan Knish writes in Twilight of the Family of the horrifying future when the state takes over the functions of the family

Governments have come to serve as undying guardians of human society, ushering new life into the world and ushering old life out of it. New parents are as likely to turn to the government for help as they are to their extended family. When their child is old enough to look around for a career, it is the government that they expect to provide the education and the jobs. And when they grow old, the child can keep on working at his government job and paying off his student loans knowing that the government will be there to make all the difficult and expensive decisions about their care.
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The family has been displaced and replaced. In some places it is even repressed. Like an old station wagon, it idles by the side of the road, while its former owners drive away in their new sleek electric government compact car built for two or a micro-car built for one into a wonderful childless future of unfunded pensions, social collapse and death panels.
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Modern society has made the price of children extremely expensive and many couples have found it easier to end the family with their own deaths.  The future of the West has been aborted or never conceived. It has been broken up, divorced and never married.

The state gave its citizens the impression that it could fulfill all the functions of a family far better than the real thing. Its appeal was the power of bigness, the stability of a system too big to fail and rooms full of experts working night and day to improve on the fallible family. With its vast industrial social services bureaucracy, the state would be able to provide a more stable social safety net, save everyone money on health care, educate their children, care for their elders, perpetuate their values, protect their income, safeguard their way of life and usher in a bright new future.
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Unfortunately the state is more like an actual pyramid scheme …And nowhere has the pyramid scheme of the social state schemer proven more disastrous than in the collapse of the family. The state has usurped the family, but it depends on the family to crank out industrious little taxpayers, small men and women who will work the shops and factories, toiling night and day, paying their fines and fees dutifully while raising the next generation of taxpayers. Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse.
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The spectre of Communism is no longer haunting Europe. It has come and gone. Under Socialism, it is the spectre of demographics that haunts Europe. It is the dead children, no longer killed in factories or protests, but in clinics and for convenience's sake, that float aimlessly through the streets of Munich, London and Paris. Europe is no longer haunted by its dead, but by those who were never born.
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Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country. The elderly are losing their generous benefits, the men and women of middle age worry for the future and the youth no longer believe in the future at all.

The future is rapidly approaching.  In Scotland, they are racing to undermine parents with a sinister 'Named Person" scheme

Children  have all been assigned a 'Named Person' to oversee their welfare, supervise their upbringing and intervene where they deem it to be appropriate, even when this conflicts with the will of the parents.
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Holyrood has effectively passed a bill which nullifies parental rights and endows the state with higher baby-sitting authority: Scotland has become the progenitor and guardian of all her children - not ultimately or in extremis, but right from the beginning. …parents will be reported to the state for trivial family incidents, such as forgetting a child’s doctor's or hospital appointment.

Parents are not allowed to know who the 'named person' for each of their children is.  Nor is the 'named person' available for consultation or discussion.

At the same time, a proposed "Cinderella Law"  in the U.K.  would make it a crime to deliberately harm a child’s ‘intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development’ and sits alongside the physical or sexual abuse of children. Its definition of abuse includes “controlling or coercive behavior” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”

Those found guilty would face up to ten years in jail. The change will update existing laws in England and Wales.  Currently, adults responsible for a child can only be prosecuted if they have deliberately assaulted, abandoned or exposed a youngster to suffering or injury to their health.

This may be a well-intentioned law, but it will be a disaster in its implementation.  It is vague, overbroad and underspecific,  How will religious families trying to pass on their traditions far ?  Just what is 'controlling or coercive behavior' anyway?  Already parents have been arrested because their child was too fat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 AM | Permalink

750 couches and a 700" TV

I've never understood why most of the world goes crazy about the World Cup while Americans by and large ignore it.  Some of the craziness is funny.

Stadium in Berlin Gets Turned Into Giant Living Room with 750 Couches and 700″ TV

For the duration of this year’s World Cup, Berlin’s Stadion An der Alten Forsterei (home to FC Union Berlin) will be transformed into a gigantic living room. The field will be outfitted with 750 couches (brought in by fans), complete with side tables and lamps for each along with a massive 700″ TV surrounded by cheesy wallpaper.  Admission is free and the giant living room, known as WM Wohnzimmer will offer a capacity up to 12,000 people. Couch seats are assigned by application/lottery.

 Stadium-In-Berlin-Turned-Into-Giant-Living-Room-People-Bring-Own-Couches-5

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2014

IRS Lies and Stonewalls; NYT ignores

How convenient.

According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS has “lost” two years of emails belonging to former head of tax exempt organizations Lois Lerner. The IRS doesn’t have a record of her emails from January 2009 through April 2011, conveniently encompassing some of the same time when tea party groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS says the loss of emails is due to a “computer crash” and claims emails from or to Lerner from the White House, Democratic members of Congress, the Treasury Department and Department of Justice cannot be located.  They do however have emails belonging to Lerner that she sent to other IRS employees.
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Emails belonging to Lerner that were not "lost" have shown that she was in contact with Democratic members of Congress and the Department of Justice about prosecuting tea party groups. Just this week, emails surfaced showing Lerner sent confidential tax information belonging to conservative groups to the FBI for investigation just before the 2010 midterm elections.

IRS Now Claims It Has ‘Lost’ Lois Lerner’s Emails

Yet we’re to believe that it just lost two years’ of emails to and from the central figure in the agency’s worst scandal? The way to bet on this is that the administration stalled on turning over those emails long enough to locate them all and all copies of them and destroy all of them. If that’s what happened, that’s destruction of evidence.

The total hypocrisy of the New York Times  18 ½ minutes vs. 2 years: which is worse?  asks Roger Kimball.

When the Nixon White House found that 18 ½ minutes of audio tape missing as the Watergate scandal unfolded around the President,  …Day after day, week after week, month after month, the front pages and editorials pages of our former Paper of Record were full of stern admonitions about that egregious abuse of executive power. You could not look at the paper without a synesthetic shudder: Reading it, you could almost hear them licking their chops as their prey—the dastardly Richard Nixon—came ever closer to his doom.

So how does The New York Times handle this extraordinary loss of two years’ worth of Lois Lerner’s emails?  (“Really, they were here just a minute ago. We were just about to hand them over to Congress when, gosh darn, they just vanished.  Damndest thing.”)

This will amaze you, I know, but it is true: The New York Times  today devotes zero words to the story. Take a look at the front page here:  Nothing….. .What about the missing emails?  Nary a word on the front page. Or the next page. Or the next or the next. 
….. But about the missing emails in one of the most disgusting political scandals in recent times, the deployment of the IRS with its virtually unlimited powers, against political opponents of the administration? Nothing. Nada. Rien.

But here we have a former senior official from the IRS who deliberately harassed hundreds of conservatives groups.  She has taken the 5th Amendment—why? What sort of self-incrimination is she worried about?  A look through her emails would have the answer. But those emails are, according to the IRS, unavailable because of a hard disk failure. Do you believe that? Do you believe that that the agency charged with tax gathering for the United States does not have multiple back ups of its business correspondence? Do you? Imagine what the IRS would have to say to a (conservative) business it decided to audit if a response for electronic records was met with, “Gosh darn, we had a hard disk failure, and they’re just plum gone.”  Imagine.  And why have there not been instant calls for the data recovery folks to get involved? Why?  The public, I’d wager, would find all this keenly interesting—if only the people charged with reporting the news would tell them about it.

Byron York tweets Readers with IT backgrounds not buying the Lois Lerner IRS 'lost' emails story.

Ace: Liar! Liar! Pants on fire

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: posts video of IRS commissioner  testifying  that Lois Lerner’s emails were archived.  Here's the video

Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them writes Ron Fournier in the National Journal.

Blaze: IRS Rules Say Lerner Was Required to Keep Printed Copies of Those Supposedly ‘Lost’ Emails

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2014

Our ever-increasing surveillance state - Updates

New federal database will track Americans' credit ratings, other financial information

As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives -- including their Social Security numbers -- in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.
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FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.  FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress.

The rational for such a huge and unprecedented database is weak..  They want it for simple reporting purposes to Congress.  Given what the IRS has done in illegally accessing and transferring personal information of political opponents, this is a step way too far.

The mortgage database is unprecedented and would collect personal mortgage information on every single-family residential first lien loan issued since 1998. Federal officials will continue updating the database into the indefinite future……The Chamber of Commerce said that while Congress did ask for regular reports, it never granted FHFA the authority to create the National Mortgage Database.

Let's not forget the potential of data breaches that have doubled in the past 3 years.

The GAO reported in December that  breaches containing personally identifiable information from federal databases shows unlawful data breaches have doubled, from 15,140 reported incidents in 2009 to 22,156 in 2012.

Even the White House reported in May on the cybersecurity of federal databases and warned, "if unchecked, big data could be a tool that substantially expands government power over citizens.”

 Surveillance3  NSA Intercepts Millions Of Photos For Massive Facial Recognition Database

The National Security Agency intercepts "millions of images per day" for use in a previously undisclosed facial recognition database, James Risen and Laura Poitras report in The New York Times, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Are you on the FBI's Facial Recognition Database

The FBI has begun using a facial-recognition surveillance system that will store millions of mug shots - and could even use driving license pictures.  FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers 'We’re piloting the use of mug shots, along with our fingerprint database, to see if we can find bad guys by matching pictures with mug shots.  Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed the system is capable of processing 55,000 faces a day - and that it will have 52 million faces by 2015.

US pushing local police departments to keep quiet on cell-phone surveillance technology

The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

Interviews, court records and public-records requests show the Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. That pushback has come in the form of FBI affidavits and consultation in local criminal cases.

"These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. "If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

June 9, 2014

Violent crime down, police militarization up

At a time when violent crime in the US is the lowest in a generation why is there an epidemic of police violence?   Or in the words of John Whitehead, why have so many police search warrants turned into violent death warrants, and why have SWAT teams turned into violent death squads at a time when violent crime is in free-fall?
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How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts, complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?
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The latest incident comes out of Atlanta, Georgia, where a SWAT team, attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night, launched a flash bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded in the baby’s face, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. He is currently in the hospital in a medically induced coma.
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each time we as a rational, reasoning, free-minded people fail to be outraged by government wrongdoing—whether it’s the SWAT team raids that go awry, the senseless shootings of unarmed citizens, the stockpiling of military weapons and ammunition by government agencies (including small-town police), the unapologetic misuse of our taxpayer dollars for graft and pork, the incarceration of our fellow citizens in forced labor prisons, etc.—we become accomplices in bringing about our own downfall.
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SWAT teams are no longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day
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Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.

Throwing a grenade into a house!  At the link, there are some more appalling stories. Outcries have come from all sides of the political spectrum. 

Cops Kill 8 Times More Americans Than Terrorists

Since 9/11, and the subsequent militarization of the police by the Department of Homeland Security, about 5,000 Americans have been killed by US police officers. The civilian death rate is nearly equal to the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq. In fact, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

 Police-Militarized

The Growing Epidemic of Police Violence: Is It Time to De-Militarize Police Forces?

The problem with all of these incidents, as one reporter rightly concluded, is "not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it's that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone."

4 shocking examples of police militarization in America’s small towns  Research shows that the number of SWAT teams in municipalities smaller than 50,000 is up more than 300 percent.

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:55 PM | Permalink

June 5, 2014

"I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has

Kirsty Allsopp is a Brit and a property expert.  What she has to say will either infuriate you or sound like common sense;

'I don’t want the next generation of women to suffer the same heartache’

On her mother's death

We don’t get it right in this country. We don’t get it right by any stretch of the imagination. In fact,” says Allsopp, gathering pace, “we may get it more wrong than any other country in the entire world. And so I think that there is a moment to just do something and say: 'OK, this is how it’s done in Turkey,’ for example. They are buried immediately in the Muslim and Jewish traditions. And then for 30 or 40 days you stay at home, everyone comes round and they all talk about the person who has died. I think you need that.”
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Then there’s the funeral, where people either do or don’t come. And then that’s it. It’s over, not discussed. We are supposed to move on, except of course we can’t. It’s a slammed door which you cannot reopen, and it’s a huge door. So we do get it wrong. We don’t have the traditions in place. Whatever the traditions are in other faiths, they’re better.”

On young women

“Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward.

“At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.”
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“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying 'Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”
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You can do your career afterwards. We have to readjust. And men can have fun after they have kids. If everyone started having children when they were 20, they’d be free as a bird by the time they were 45. But how many 45-year-olds do you know who are bogged down?

“I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has. At the moment we are changing the natural order of things, with grandparents being much older and everyone squeezed in the middle. Don’t think 'my youth should be longer’. Don’t go to university because it’s an 'experience’. No, it’s where you’re supposed to learn something! Do it when you’re 50!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

There are two groups of people

The Tranny Wars

That said, the tranny has become the dividing line between two groups of people. One the one hand we have liberal white people who engage in all sorts of magical thinking about the world, including things like biology and physics. They think someone can change their sex if they choose to do it. They think evolution stopped 50,000 years ago and that all humans are exactly the same. They think putting a dumb person in school long enough will make them smart. These things not only contradict accepted science, they contradict objective reality. They disbelieve and curse their lying eyes.

On the other side of the line is another group of believers. These folks believe in conventional religions, nationalism, fraternity and so forth. In the case of religion, they accept it may contradict science, but not in important ways that alter the functioning of society. In the case of nationalism, they know there’s no good reason to feel the way they do when the national anthem is played, but they accept it and relish it. In other words, these folks believe in things because they appear to make life more pleasant, their societies more successful and the future more palatable.

That would be the end of it if the first group of people did not hold the second group in such contempt that they wanted to kill them. The magical thinking crowd has not committed to the actual killing of the latter group, but they do want to kill all the stuff they believe. They want to stamp out Christianity, love of country and all of the things normal people think are important.

The great battle between these two camps of believers is what shapes our times.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:06 PM | Permalink

"Our culture has become a minefield of linguistic taboos"

Tolerance is Dead Nathan Hardin

We are at the dawn of a new age of illiberality in the West. It is not enough, any longer, to simply tolerate the beliefs and lifestyles of others. You must agree to actively participate and even celebrate their lifestyles. Or else they’re coming for blood.

Our culture has become a minefield of linguistic taboos. At all times, someone, somewhere is waiting to be offended. And these taboos are enforced by increasingly frightened media companies who fear boycotts and lawsuits. Liberal activists, emboldened by their success at silencing opposing viewpoints, are growing ever more tyrannical, ever more intolerant, and ever more powerful.

Tolerance is dead in this country, or almost dead. We have allowed a small minority of oppressive victim hustlers to effectively neuter the First Amendment. As a result, freedom of speech is something we Americans, in truth, no longer effectively posses.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:03 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2014

The Great Loneliness

The Loneliness of American Society  Janice Shaw Crouse writes this modern condition isn't improving. To the contrary.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in its General Social Survey (GSS) that unprecedented numbers of Americans are lonely…More than a quarter of the respondents — one in four — said that they have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences. Sadly, the researchers noted increases in “social isolation” and “a very significant decrease in social connection to close friends and family.”
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Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests that “we are raising a generation of children who are orphans in time.” He laments that today’s generation of young people is “incapable of integrating their past and their future … [living] instinctively in an almost animal-like fashion only in the present.” He notes that it is virtually impossible, then, to connect time and space in a way that enables them to build their “present.” Thus, they wander aimlessly about without connections — physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
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The self-centeredness that results from a culture dominated by the values of radical individualism is not a pretty thing; it does not contribute to the maturing of individuals, the strengthening of family, the growth of friendship, or the development of communities.

This quote from Mother Teresa came to mind.

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 PM | Permalink

Biological Facts Are Not Subject to Our Feelings

Kevin Williamson wrote Laverne Cox Is Not a Woman to say that biological facts are not subject to our feelings.

As a matter of government, I have little or no desire to police how Cox or any other man or woman conducts his or her personal life. But having a culture organized around the elevation of unreality over reality in the service of Eros, who is a sometimes savage god, is not only irrational but antirational. Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

He then wrote about the response to his article in Rage, Rhetoric and Reform

The content of the responses on Twitter and elsewhere was a useful reminder that the Left, including its sexual-liberationist faction, is inarguably totalitarian. Critics suggested not only that I be fired for my views but that I should be prosecuted for them, and that the government should ensure that such views are not published. Live-and-let-live is not the Left’s way, never has been, and never will be. It is not sufficient that transsexuals should be free to act on their delusions — the rest of us are expected to participate in them with unreserved enthusiasm, and the Left is willing to use the state to compel us to do so. To simply believe otherwise and to share those views in print is in the minds of many on the Left not only a social transgression but something that should be a crime. The belief that members of minority political tendencies should be jailed for their views is very much in vogue for the Left at the moment. Democrats in the Senate are seeking to repeal the First Amendment. All of us — conservatives and whatever traditional liberals there still may be on the left side of the spectrum — should fully appreciate the sobering fact that there is a nascent, popular, authoritarian movement among members of the Left that supports everything from censorship to literal, non-metaphorical gulags in which to imprison people for their political beliefs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2014

Shadow over Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the federal holiday to honor those service men and women who have sacrificed their lives to defend this country.  We remember that there are men and women who died so that you and I can live with greater security and peace. As Jesus Christ said ,  “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address spoke of the undying gratitude we should have for those who made the ultimate sacrifice:

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."

The motto of the Veterans Affairs is a quote from Abraham Lincoln, "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."

The shadow over this Memorial Day are the daily revelations of appalling government behavior and treatment of the men and women who deserve the best of care.  Worse, the government deliberately falsified data to hide its scandalous behavior.  The department's inspector general says 26 VA facilities are under investigation, including the Phoenix VA hospital, where a former clinic director says as many as 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment.

The VA is an island of socialism in American health care writes Rich Lowry

It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has long been plagued by scandal. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months….. The existence of the VA isn’t politically controversial. No one is trying to repeal it, or “sabotage” it. What we’re seeing is simply unaccountable bureaucracy in action.

It's with shame that we learn that Al Qaeda terrorists at Guatanamo are treated better than our veterans.

The VA and Gitmo eligible patient-to-health care provider ratios speak volumes.  While the Gitmo ratio is 1.5 to 1, for America’s 9 million veterans receiving VA health care and 267,930 VA employees, the ratio is 35 to 1.

Illegal aliens are treated better than our veterans writes Michelle Malkin

In New York, doctors report that nearly 40 percent of their patients receiving kidney dialysis are illegal aliens. A survey of nephrologists in 44 states revealed that 65 percent of them treat illegal aliens with kidney disease.

In Memphis, a VA whistleblower reported that his hospital was using contaminated kidney dialysis machines to treat America's warriors. The same hospital previously had been investigated for chronic overcrowding at its emergency room, leading to six-hour waits or longer. Another watchdog probe found unconscionable delays in processing lab tests at the center. In addition, three patients died under negligent circumstances, and the hospital failed to enforce accountability measures.
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In 2013, the Obama Department of Homeland Security released 36,007 known, convicted criminal illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The catch-and-release beneficiaries include thugs convicted of homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and thousands of drunk or drugged driving crimes.

The same Department of Homeland Security issued a report in 2009 that identified returning combat veterans as worrisome terrorist and criminal threats to America.

Fraud should not be “punished” with paid vacations — the criminals should go to jail. writes Deroy Murdock in VA Hospitals Are Now Crime Scenes

At this writing, the Veterans Administration scandal has engulfed 16 states and 26 hospitals. In Atlanta, widespread mismanagement caused the preventable deaths of at least three veterans. In Columbia, S.C., six vets died because of delayed colorectal-cancer screenings. And in Phoenix, some severely ill vets urinated blood and endured searing pain from cancer. At least 40 of them dropped dead before getting life-saving treatment.

Instead, hospital officials allegedly doctored appointment books to “comply” with VA scheduling rules, maintained secret wait lists that confirm this deception, and destroyed this evidence when the watchdogs barked. This ugly picture quickly devolves from lassitude into lawlessness. VA hospitals have become crime scenes.
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As much as possible, VA hospitals should be privatized and coverage voucherized. Compensation in what remains should reflect patient satisfaction. As the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon explains, this means “veterans benefits vs. veterans hospitals.”

Jim Geraghty reports in Another Day, Another Series of Horrific Stories Out of VA Facilities that Veterans Affairs

Secretary Eric Shinseki apparently is going to institute a new lengthy waiting period before action to address the problem of lengthy waiting periods.

Ace reports Networks Devote More Time to Christie's "Bridgegate" Pseudoscandal in Four Days Than They Devote to the VA Scandal In an Entire Month

The Senate Just Blocked Legislation to Speed Up VA Firings.  The bill that would have held VA officials accountable by making it easier to fire incompetent VA officials passed the House but was blocked in the Senate by Democrats.

They are not even burying the bodies.  The LA County Morgue has been holding bodies of as many as 60 veterans over the past year and a half. because they were unclaimed   They  blamed the VA while the VA claims they were never notified.  On Friday, 28 bodies were finally moved to Riverside National Cemetery for burial.

I am pro-choice when it comes to health care for veterans and i support the Call by GOP leaders and a whistle-blower join to privatize veterans' care

"Let our veterans choose the health care that they need and want the most, and not have to be bound to just going to the VA,” said Senator John McCain.

Today, the VA turns to private hospitals for help

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will let more veterans obtain health care at private hospitals, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced Saturday.

Shinseki, who faces calls to resign amid reports of lengthy waiting lists and preventable deaths in the VA’s healthcare system, said the agency is "increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care," according to the Associated Press.

The Most Important War Memorial Is One You Probably Will Never See
It wasn’t constructed by an architect or an artist. The memorial didn’t have tourists coming through it like Arlington Cemetery or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It was a closed site, built and maintained by Marines. Hundreds of rocks had been carried there. Each week, Marines would carry lawn mowers up and groom it.

Above all, treat veterans with respect, not pity. Too many Americans assume that troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan must be traumatized.  Phil Klay writes

War subjects some of its participants to more than any person can bear, and it destroys them. War makes others stronger. For most of us, it leaves a complex legacy. And though many veterans appreciate the well-meaning sentiments behind even the most misdirected pity, I can't help feeling that all of us, especially those who are struggling, deserve a little less pity and a little more respect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2014

The Surveillance State and Society

You would think that, after the exposure of the NSA spying on American citizens, federal agencies would hesitate before collecting even more data, but you would be wrong.

Look at what the Department of Education wants to do.  New technology pushed by the feds allows for data collection on every child

A new study released by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute finds that new technology development that has been encouraged through the use of federal grants has served to threaten children’s privacy by allowing the collection of data on every child.
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Pioneer Institute notes the connections between the Common Core standards and the student data collection.
“Any information from the data initiatives mentioned above that is given to the two federally funded national assessment consortia aligned with the Common Core State Standards will be made available to the USED,” Pioneer observes.
The national standards will also create a unified “taxonomy” that facilitates creation of common instructional materials and data-collection technology. Because Common Core focuses not on academic knowledge but rather on “skills” that involve attitudes and dispositions, it paves the way for national assessments and digital platforms that measure such attributes.
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The U.S. Department of Education (USED), however, in its report published last year and titled "Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance," expressed a strong interest in monitoring students’ “beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, values and ways of perceiving oneself” and to measure non-cognitive attributes such as their “psychological resources.

And HHS wants access to all your medical records. Federal ‘Biosurveillance’ Plan Seeking Direct Access to Americans’ Private Medical Records

The federal government is piecing together a sweeping national “biosurveillance” system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans’ private medical information in the name of national security, according to Twila Brase, a public health nurse and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom.
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“Health situational awareness includes biosurveillance and other health and non-health inputs (e.g., lab/diagnostics, health service utilization, active intelligence, and supply chain information), as well as systems and processes for effective communication among responders and critical health resource monitoring and allocation,” the draft states.

But Brase warns that the NHSS proposal would allow the federal government to monitor an individual’s behavior before, during and after any government-defined health “incident” – which could be anything from a local outbreak of the flu to a terrorist anthrax attack…..

It’s very clear to us that really the government is moving toward real-time access, toward close collaboration of government and doctors for ready access to the electronic medical record and then to conduct research and analysis.”

Soon, the federal government will want to implant computer chips and cameras in our bodies just to keep tabs on what we're doing.    Wait, they've already started.  'Smart pills' with chips, cameras and robotic parts raise legal, ethical questions. 

But it's not just the government.  Facebook Launches NSA-Style Auto-Eavesdropping Feature

As The WSJ reports, starting Wednesday, the app has the ability to recognize music and television shows playing in the vicinity of users. Read that again… 'in the vicinity of users'. In other words, Facebook is unveiling its own NSA-style eavesdropping feature (on you and all your friends).
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The feature is designed to make it easier for users to share. When users begin to write a post, the Facebook app will offer to include information about music or shows playing in the background.
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Don't worry though… even if users decide not to share what they’re hearing or watching, Facebook will hold onto the data in anonymous form, keeping tabs on how many users watched particular shows. Sound familiar?
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We are sure this will not be abused or hacked by the NSA… and we are sure there will be plenty of small digital print that users will understand… One wonders though, is there any way for non-Facebook users to know that they are being eavesdropped upon?

Even your TV will be spying on you.  Cameras in the cable box to monitor TV viewers

The technology includes cameras and microphones that are installed on DVRs or cable boxes and analyzes viewers’ responses, behaviors and statements to various ads — and then provides advertisements that are targeted to the particular household. Specifically, the technology can monitor sleeping, eating, exercising, reading and more, AdWeek reported.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2014

The Evolution of Marriage and Having Kids Makes Parents Happier

The Evolution of Marriage

‘A girl for every boy, a boy for every girl”: That’s the main thesis of William Tucker’s engaging new book. With polygamy, you see, there isn’t a girl for every boy, and the leftover boys must find some other — usually disruptive and frequently violent — way to pass their time. But the “unique social contract of monogamy — a male for every female, a female for every male — lowers the temperature of sexual competition and frees its members to work together in cooperation. It is at this juncture that human societies — even human civilizations — are born.”

Tucker is not himself an academic, but he is a smart journalist, and Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human is the result of some 20 years of reading through the scholarly literature on marriage and thinking through the implications. It’s written for “the average reader,” and covers some “subjects that many scholars and academics in the field seem to find uncomfortable.” Indeed, Tucker comes to some rather politically incorrect views. His work is a clear-headed presentation of a “biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society” — and by monogamy Tucker doesn’t simply mean any old union of two people, but an exclusive and more or less permanent union of a man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother.
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Monogamy so understood doesn’t happen by chance. In a certain sense, “human monogamy — the pair-bonding of couples within the framework of a larger social group — is not entirely a natural institution.” After all, “monogamy does not sustain itself ‘naturally.’” And yet, when monogamy is lived out, human civilization flourishes. As Tucker puts it, “The rule is: those who form traditional families succeed; those who don’t fail.”

Because monogamy doesn’t grow on trees, “it requires rules — rules that must be continuously enforced by the members practicing it.” So, while “monogamy is manifestly a more equitable and successful way to organize a society, it is always under siege and forever fragile.” And if a society “becomes lax or indifferent about upholding its norms, the advantages will quickly unravel — as we are plainly witnessing in the America of today.”
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In 1965, when the Moynihan Report was issued, the concern was that the out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks was 25 percent. Today 40 percent of all children, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of African Americans are born outside of marriage.

And this breakdown of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent. The reason is simple: Marriage attaches a child’s father to his mother, and then attaches that committed pair to the child. As Tucker notes: “Children without fathers are more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of school, depression, delinquent behavior, crime, early sexual activity, and having illegitimate children in the next generation. They are more at risk for abuse, molestation, and incest.”

The art of fatherhood,” however, “does not come naturally but is a skill that must be passed on from generation to generation.”


In the Atlantic, Having Kids Makes Parents Happy After All.  New research overturns the decades-old belief that having children is a downer.

“What we believe is going on is that there is a general negative trend in happiness among adults—[but] that negative trend is not happening for parents.” Adults seem to be getting grumpier as a whole, but parents are bucking that general trend.
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Herbst and Ifcher offer three theories why parents are becoming happier—and what that means for American society.

First, there’s the phenomenon that Robert Putnam identified in his 2000 book Bowling Alone—that Americans were becoming increasingly isolated from community and family. Herbst and Ifcher argue that families are the “last vestige of community life in American society.”

“Parents are more likely to spend time with friends, get the news, be interested in politics, think people are honest, have faith in the economy, be trusting,” Herbst said. “We think that parents remain better attached to society, and we think the linchpin of that attachment is kids.”

Second, the financial hardship brought on by children has lessened over time. The U.S. now has a more generous earned income tax credit and childcare tax credits, which means parents have more of a financial cushion than they used to.

“The social safety net has begun to favor parents more over time than non-parents,”….

Finally, who is having a kid these days is different than who had children in previous decades…parents are probably becoming parents because they want to be parents, and less because of societal pressure. These adults are more likely to be a self-selected group, desire their children, and therefore derive more happiness from having the children they wanted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2014

Most Commonly Spoken Language in Each State Besides English and Spanish

A fascinating map of the Most Commonly Spoken Language Other than English or Spanish from Ben Blatte in Slate

Commonly-Spoken-Languages-Besides-Spanish

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2014

De Tocqueville as Prophet

Michael Barone who has read far more of deTocqueville than I have writes  Tocqueville Said This Would Happen

The eminent political scientist Harvey Mansfield has called Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835) “the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America.” And with good reason. Tocqueville was eerily prescient. He foresaw the possibility of civil war. He mused about the possibility that the world in the twentieth century would be dominated by two great powers, one democratic and one despotic, America and Russia: the Cold War. He also foresaw that a democratic nation could descend into what he called a “soft” despotism. In that respect he anticipated the conservative critique of the growth of the federal government and many of the public policy initiatives of the past hundred years.
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Tocqueville’s vivid picture of soft despotism appears almost abruptly, at the end of the second volume of Democracy in America (1840). Up to that point, his depiction of democratic America is mostly (though not entirely) positive.
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"I do not fear that in their chiefs [Americans] will find tyrants, but rather schoolmasters. . . . I think therefore that the kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that has preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I cannot name it.

I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

"Coercion dolled up as civil rights"

Brendan O'Neill, the editor of Spiked , who describes himself as "an atheistic libertarian" writes

Same-sex marriage: coercion dolled up as civil rights


This is the thing no one in the gay-marriage lobby, or in political and media circles more broadly, seems to want to talk about - the fact that in every jurisdiction in which it has been introduced, gay marriage has been heavily attended by authoritarianism and coercion.
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As the National Review said, ‘refusal [to celebrate gay marriage] is now considered tantamount to a crime’. Eich’s treatment only made more explicit this creeping criminalisation of opponents of gay marriage. In Britain, too, one of the first things secularist supporters of gay marriage did when it became clear that their new institution was going to come into being was to agitate against Catholic schools for failing to promote it. They accused Catholic schools of ‘politically indoctrinating’ their students by teaching them only about traditional marriage, and said such ‘encouragement to bigotry’ shouldn’t be allowed.
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Anyone who over the past few years has paid attention to the moral delegitimation of critics of gay marriage, to the state attacks on anti-gay marriage protesters, to the social ostracism of those who favour traditional marriage, to the attempt to force religious schools to teach about gay marriage, and to the Orwellian airbrushing from history of the words and identities cleaved to by the already married, cannot have been surprised by what happened to Eich. His fate wasn’t the product of a handful of zealous campaigners going too far on Twitter - it was the end result of an intolerant culture, sometimes mob-like, sometimes state-enforced, that has been gaining ground for years, and which showed long before the elbowing aside of Eich that it was more than happy to ostracise, punish, criminalise and censor anyone who dared raise a peep of opposition to gay marriage. Coercion is built into gay marriage. They used to say love and marriage went together - in the gay-marriage movement, it’s authoritarianism and marriage that are bedfellows.
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The sacralisation of homosexuality corresponds precisely with the growing denigration by the state and others of the sphere of the family and the ideals of lifelong commitment, because celebrating gayness has become the main and most PC means through which traditional values might be dented and traditional identities called into question, even thrown open to heightened official scrutiny.

This is what explains both the peculiarly speedy and strikingly authoritarian way in which gay marriage has been adopted by governments across the West who otherwise care little for freedom and choice - because officials recognise in it the opportunity to push further their instinctive hostility towards traditional communal and familial ideals that to a large extent exist outside of the purview of the state. ….
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2014

The Shame of Benghazi

Andrew McCarthy makes a devastating summary of what we now know about Benghazi in The AWOL Commander-in-Chief

Outnumbered and fighting off wave after jihadist wave, Americans were left to die in Benghazi while administration officials huddled, not to devise a rescue strategy, but to spin the election-year politics. The most powerful and capable armed forces in the history of the world idled, looking not to their commander-in-chief but to a State Department that busied itself writing press releases about phantom Islamophobia. The president of the United States, the only constitutional official responsible for responding, was nowhere to be found.

We are left with four dead Americans, an emerging paper trail of dereliction stretching from Benghazi to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The following was published in the U.K.  I have seen nothing in any American papers that has even mentioned  this damning report.  Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn't 'switched sides in the War on Terror' and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, reveals damning report

The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn't been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.

'The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,' Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.  She blamed the Obama administration for tacitly approving the diversion of half of a $1 billion Qatari arms shipment to al-Qaeda-linked militants.

'Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,' Lopez claimed. 'They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..

'The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.'

The weapons were intended for Gaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamist opposition.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:21 PM | Permalink

May 1, 2014

The saddest words I read this month

LIZ JONES: Hooray for sexual liberation! Now I can die lonely and poor

I am a feminist, I really am (I’ve never let a man pay for anything), but feel the current generation of women in their 60s, the first to abandon the way of life of their mothers, which meant they pursued careers, married and had children late, had affairs then got divorced, all in the name of liberation, are now imprisoned in debt, alcohol abuse and loneliness, wishing they could die, and do it soon.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 PM | Permalink

April 8, 2014

Tidbits

Good for them.  US Navy reveals 'game changing' fuel created from seawater that already has fueled a radio-controlled plane.  A game-changer indeed.

Dr Heather Willauer, an research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, said:
'For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously, that's a big breakthrough,' she said, adding that the fuel 'doesn't look or smell very different.'


Cui bono? Who benefits from the myriad government programs for the poor.  The Poverty Hoax

As much as 75% of the money allocated to the poor is consumed by the vast bureaucracies that administer this aid.  These agencies are actually job programs for college graduates who would often find it difficult to find employment in the private sector.

James Delingpole British schoolchildren are being brainwashed by a deep green environmental curriculum which fills their heads with "confusion, ignorance and fear", says a new study by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

After Illinois finally passed a concealed carry law, Chicago's murder rate declined to levels not seen in 50 years.
In fact, All crime is down 25 percent from 2013 There were reportedly 90 fewer shootings and 119 fewer shooting victims compared to last year. There have also been 222 fewer shootings and 292 fewer shooting victims compared to the first quarter in 2012.

Early retirement may be a very bad idea.  A new Brookings study  analyzed data on subjective happiness and work taken from the Gallup World Pull data.

Late-life workers (i.e., those working past retirement age) working full-time or voluntarily employed part-time were typically happier and more satisfied with their health than their retired counterparts. The positive effects were greatest, meanwhile, in those countries where more flexible labor market arrangements were more common (and thus publicly acceptable).

Thomas Sowell, Campaign-finance laws are a scam to protect incumbents.

Americans on Medicaid Exceed Population of UK

During Cold War, CIA used ‘Doctor Zhivago’ as a tool to undermine Soviet Union

Books were weapons, and if a work of literature was unavailable or banned in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe, it could be used as propaganda to challenge the Soviet version of reality. Over the course of the Cold War, as many as 10 million copies of books and magazines were secretly distributed by the agency behind the Iron Curtain as part of a political warfare campaign.
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“Pasternak’s humanistic message — that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state — poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the Communist system,” he wrote.

Margaret Sanger's ultimate goal

 Margaret-Sanger Goal

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

April 7, 2014

Older and poorer

As a country, we're getting older and poorer with far fewer identifying as middle class, but we've got Facebook.

Richard Fernandez writes this is No Country for Young Men

The Western Left’s biggest lie is that it represents a movement of the young, but it really represents the very old. Their very concerns are geriatric: Marxism, trash recycling, health and safety, public transportation and gossip.

The big giveaway is we as a civilization don’t want to go to the planets any more, because the old don’t want to go anywhere. Imagine clambering into spaceships! The very idea gives us the shivers.
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[T]he future, rather than beckoning to us, envelops us like a shroud. America which was famous for optimism, has sold its birthright for a mess of Obamacare and Obamaphones, like an old couple that have given up sweeping and tending a house that grew too big now that the kids have left. And the general consensus it seems is that the Mexicans can inherit what’s left if only would they promise to bury us when we’re done.
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If any nation might be considered “old” in years, it is Israel and China. Both go back almost to the dawn of civilization.  Untold generations of Chinese and Jews have died. But their culture remains young in that it looks forward to posterity; at least they have not yet turned everything over to some nice young man with the big smile and the natty creases.  Maybe the secret of ancient cultures which survive is that they can continue to care about the future.  And so the Chinese and the Jews still do canals. They do space exploration. The West does Facebook because you don’t have to get up from the chair to work it. 

More Americans see middle class status slipping

Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53 percent to 44 percent. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25 percent in February 2008.  According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they're middle or upper-middle class fell 8 points between 2008 and 2012, to 55 percent.

And the most recent General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that the vast proportion of Americans who call themselves middle or working class, though still high at 88 percent, is the lowest in the survey's 40-year history. It's fallen 4 percentage points since the recession began in 2007.

Christopher S. Rugaber of the AP reports:

[N]early five years after the Great Recession ended, more people are coming to the painful realization that they're no longer part of [the middle class.]  They are former professionals now stocking shelves at grocery stores, retirees struggling with rising costs and people working part-time jobs but desperate for full-time pay. Such setbacks have emerged in economic statistics for several years. Now they're affecting how Americans think of themselves.

Since 2008, the number of Americans who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53% to 44%. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25% in February 2008.

Thomas Lifson comments Self-identified 'middle class' radically shrinks under Obama

Put this another way, the number of people self-identifying as lower and lower-middle has expanded 60%. That, of course, is a Democrat constituency, for people in that class see government assistance (food stamps, earned income tax credit, ObamaCare subsidies, and the like) as their ticket to a level of comfort within shooting distance of the middle class – whom they see as better off than they.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2014

American Witch Hunt or American Inquisition?

Ritual Sacrifice in Silicon Valley

The one thing all sides can agree on is that Eich, on paper, is very well suited to the job. His most notable technical achievement is the invention of the Javascript programming language, and while some of us might sniff at the poor design decisions which made that language notoriously unpleasant to work with, it is incontestable that it forms the underpinnings of much of the modern web.

Mozilla: No Dissent Allowed. The NR editors on Corrosive Conformity

In 2008, Barack Obama and Brendan Eich both were against gay marriage. Senator Obama averred his support for the one-man/one-woman view of marriage, while Mr. Eich, a cofounder of the Mozilla web-browser company, donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8 — a California ballot initiative that had the effect of making Senator Obama’s avowed marriage policy the law in California.

This is, of course, pure poison. This is not a matter of law but one of culture, and not a question of means but of ends….The nation’s full-time gay-rights professionals simply will not rest until a homogeneous and stultifying monoculture is settled upon the land, and if that means deploying a ridiculous lynch mob to pronounce anathema upon a California technology executive for private views acted on in his private life, then so be it.

Brendan Eich and the New American Totalitarian State By Sally Zelikovsky

Brendan Eich, a highly-respected tech guru in Silicon Valley and co-founder of Mozilla Corporation, after he was appointed CEO in late March.  In less than a week, he was forced out of this position for no reason other than that he had a made a $1000 contribution to the Prop 8 initiative in 2008.  His own money.  On his own time.  In his private capacity.  Mozilla had nothing to do with it.  Nor did he discuss gay marriage at work.
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forced out he was after a huge outcry from thousands of employees and Silicon Valley residents,  after half of the Mozilla Foundation board resigned -- yes, resigned! -- and OKCupid blocked web surfers from accessing their site through the Firefox portal.
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It now seems that anyone can be punished for his or her religious, moral or political beliefs by well-funded mobs that can exert economic pressure on one’s employer.  These are the tactics of closed societies behind the Iron Curtain; not the shining city on the hill.

The Anchoress holds nothing back, A Gay CEO with Balls Needs to Hire Eich and Halt this Crap

and speak truth to a growing, and most illiberal new power. He or she needs to hire Brendan Eich in some sort of corporate leadership capacity for the sake of the most fundamental of freedoms — the freedom to think what you want to think, even if your thinking is unpopular or deemed “mistaken” — and in so doing boldly declare that our society has no truck with inquisitions.
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Let me be clear: I hold out absolutely no hope that this chill wind will be checked or reversed — too many people with money and influence and no individual courage at all find totalitarianism an alluring idea…..it is an execrable, detestable trend that, if unchecked, will affect every facet of our lives as “correct” thoughts and “correct” ways become ever-narrower and trap more and more people in its stinking and miserable gullies.

Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay columnist

The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists. After an OKCupid decision to boycott Mozilla, the recently appointed Brendan Eich just resigned under pressure:
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Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

The WSJ on Mozilla's Intolerance quotes the New York Times

"In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself….

The Times adds that "there is no indication that Mr. Eich behaved in a biased manner at work." So it appears that simply holding a private belief that was shared by a majority of Californians in 2008 and by President Obama until May of 2012 is no longer tolerated by the extreme wing of the movement to redefine marriage—or by the Silicon Valley technology community. Has a culture that once prided itself on its openness and inclusiveness become so bigoted that it cannot accept anyone who holds traditional Christian, Jewish or Muslim beliefs?

The Prop 8 donor list now functions essentially as a blacklist, and Eich isn’t its first or only victim.

Remember, people who gave to Prop 8 have been harassed and had their property vandalized; the Heritage Foundation issued a report chronicling cases of intimidation back in 2009…..
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[T]he LA Times obtained a list of people who gave, for and against, to the fight over the Prop 8 referendum in 2008. They put the whole database online and made it searchable. Search it today and, sure enough, there’s Eich with a $1,000 donation in favor. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal: The state is authorized to provide certain personal information about anyone who donates more than $100 to a ballot measure. Why the state is allowed to do that, I’m not sure. The reason you want transparency when donating to a candidate is to prevent an elected official, who’s supposed to serve the public interest, from being secretly co-opted by huge sums of money provided by a special interest. In a ballot measure, though, the money being spent is designed to influence the public itself. They’re the final arbiter of the public interest, no?
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Jonathan Last seizes on the significance of Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker admitting that “I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” If that’s the case, says Last, why exactly was Eich ousted?……. the problem isn’t with how he comported himself. It’s with what he thought…

Ace. Brendan Eich is out at Mozilla.

His crime: Giving $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign which was passed by a majority of Californians in 2008. And having the same views on gay marriage that Obama publicly stated circa 2007. Therefore he must be shunned and kept unemployed….

Mozilla in the midst of self-congratulation is blind to the beam in their own eye as it  tweets "We believe in openness &  that no one should be persecuted for the beliefs they hold, no matter what they are."

Roger Simon  Although not held by me,

Eich evidently has beliefs shared by literally billions of people of faith throughout the world.  Those  demanding his head like junior Robespierres should be ashamed of themselves.  Not only are they violating the spirit of the Bill of Rights and freedom of religion, they dishonor their own cause and embarrass themselves no end.  They move things backwards when the think they are moving things forwards….
This is no more than political correctness gone berserk. It is totalitarianism flying under the banner of marriage equality.  How reactionary, how fascistic, and, yes, how darkly comic is that.

Bryan Preston

If one’s position on a personal-religious-cultural issue as same-sex marriage becomes a hiring or firing offense, then we have truly moved into dangerous new territory. Illegal territory too, as such questions are not supposed to be part of the employment process.

Rod Dreher If Brendan Eich Isn't Safe

What you may not know, as someone not in the tech industry, is that Eich is not just some suit who has done some engineering. He is credited as literally the inventor of the JavaScript programming language. This is the scripting language that more or less operates the browser and allows a web page to interact with the user as opposed to be a static display. You might think that would be pretty relevant for the CEO of a freaking browser company. But apparently not as important as the fact that the guy had the same opinion on SSM as Barack Obama in 2008.
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If they can knock off a guy like Eich, one of the co-founders of the company and one of the most important figures in the tech industry, because of his belief in traditional marriage, who is safe?
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this is a clear shot that no orthodox Catholic, Evangelical, or Orthodox Christian, or Orthodox Jew, or faithful Muslim, is welcome at Mozilla — nor, it is safe to assume, in Silicon Valley at all. ….They would rather throw one of the founding fathers of the Internet down a well than tolerate him, because of his expressed belief on traditional marriage.

Chilling

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

March 31, 2014

We are all screen people today

 Screen-People.This Is Progress 2-28-14

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2014

Some shocking quotes from feminists

"Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites" - Gloria Steinim

"No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one." - Simone de Beauvoir

"[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife. " Betty Friedan

Quotes sourced by Genevieve Wood via Stuart Schneiderman who asks Who Are the Real Misogynists?

Sunshine Mary has sympathy for a victim, a baffled spinster who wonders why she can't find a husband despite being in shape and making $100k a year who wrote "I just wanted to make things clear I didn’t “sleep around.” Most of my relationships have been long term I have only been with 18 guys”

Feminists have sold young women a bill of goods, that they can live like men, work like men, have sex like men, and then turn back into women when they feel like it.  We laugh at a woman like this sometimes and make fun of her and say, “Didn’t she know that she’d end up like this?”

No, she didn’t know that.  That’s because when you are 17 years old, you don’t know much, especially in this culture of extended adolescence.  And when you have been told from a very young age that, as a girl, it is your destiny to Have It All exactly When You Want It, I’m sure it is very baffling to find yourself in your thirties with no husband and none in sight, with the dawning realization that your job and lonely apartment are not nearly as fulfilling as being a wife and mother would have been…..

However, what most of us don’t seem to understand is that young women make the terrible choices that they are making because they are told from an early age that these are actually good choices.  Some girls are able to resist that message, which saturates every aspect of the media and schools, but most girls aren’t, and they don’t develop the necessary wisdom until it is too late.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2014

"I’m not big into the ‘America’ thing.”

Neo neocon writes Keeping the younger generation dumb and happy—it’s working! 

The success of all of these efforts relies in large part on keeping the young voters dumb as well as happy with their pleasures. The “dumb” part apparently isn’t all that hard to do if you take over the educational and entertainment systems, weaken the family and other institutions that use to teach values, and control the press.

Here’s some strong evidence that the efforts to do this have been hugely successful. Read it and weep:

Last week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph went to American University to give the student body a little general knowledge quiz.

When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked. Also, very few knew that each state has two senators. The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.

The students passed the pop culture part of the exam with flying colors, as one might expect. This wasn’t a scientific survey, of course, and there were a few who knew the answers, but how many senators each state has is the sort of thing that not a single college student should be missing. However, as one of the interviewees said, “I’m not big into the ‘America’ thing.”
--
One of the foundations of liberty is an informed electorate, and if that is lacking, tyranny will almost undoubtedly emerge. No accident, either.

These college students give us a glimpse into America's future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:43 PM | Permalink

The Fantasy of Gender Liberation

1974's 'Free to Be… You and Me' feels like an eternity ago writes  Christina Hoff Sommers

And, amazingly, kids and adults have yet to morph into mutually respectful, non-gendered human persons.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of an event close to the hearts of gender activists everywhere. On March 11, 1974, ABC aired Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be…You and Me” — a musical program celebrating gender-free children. Thomas and her fellow co-neutralists envisioned a world where the sex distinction would melt away. Instead of “males” and “females,” there would be mutually respectful, non-gendered human persons. The project resulted in a platinum LP, a best-selling book, and an Emmy. More than that, the idea of gender liberation entered the national zeitgeist. Parents everywhere began giving their daughters trucks and sons baby dolls. Like so many dream boats floating on the utopian sea, this one crashed and sank when it hit the rocks of reality.
--
But, after 40 years of gender activism, boys and girls show few signs of liking to do the same things. From the earliest age, boys show a distinct preference for active outdoor play, with a strong predilection for games with body contact, conflict, and clearly defined winners and losers. Girls, too, enjoy raucous outdoor play, but they engage in it less. Girls, as a rule, are more drawn to imaginative theatrical games — playing house, playing school — as well as exchanging confidences with a best friend. Boys playing kickball together in the schoolyard are not only having a great deal of fun, they are forging friendships with other males in ways that are critical to their healthy socialization. Similarly, little girls who spend hours in deep conversation with other girls or playing theatrical games are happily and actively honing their social skills. What these children are doing is not only fun but developmentally sound.
--
One of the largest and most persistent differences between the sexes is children’s play preferences.” The female preference for nurturing play and the male propensity for rough-and-tumble hold cross-culturally and even cross-species. Researchers have found, for example, that female vervet monkeys play with dolls much more than their brothers, who prefer balls and toy cars. Nor can human reality be tossed aside. In all known societies, women tend to be the nurturers and men the warriors.
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Of course, we can soften and shape these roles, and that has been, in every epoch, the work of civilization. But civilization won’t work against the grain of human nature, and our futile attempts to make it do so can only damage the children that are the subjects of the experiment.
--
The writer Andrew Sullivan is right when he describes the sex difference as “so obvious no one really doubted it until very recently, when the blank-slate left emerged, merging self-righteousness with empirical delusion.” That delusion was jumpstarted in 1974 with the advent of “Free To Be… You and Me.” Today, an army of gender scholars and activists is marching in support of the genderless ideal. But these warriors forget that ignoring differences between boys and girls can be just as damaging as creating differences where none exist. “Free to Be” is a cautionary example of how an idealistic social fantasy can turn into a blueprint for repression.

Why is it so hard for some people to accept human nature?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:26 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2014

A few miscellaneous links

Hotel hermit got $17M to make way for 15 Central Park West

Stepping-stones to safety: A family flees Syria's war - and finds refuge in Italy's islands  When war demands you flee, the Italian government  mobilizes to save your life.

Ron Suskind writes in the NYT Magazine Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney

He giggles under his breath, then does a little shoulder roll, something he does when a jolt of emotion runs through him. “You know, they’re not like the other sidekicks.”

He has jumped ahead of me again. I scramble. “No? How?”

“All the other sidekicks live within their movies as characters, walk around, do things. The gargoyles only live when Quasimodo is alone with them.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because he breathes life into them. They only live in his imagination.”

Everything goes still. “What’s that mean, buddy?”

He purses his lips and smiles, chin out, as if he got caught in a game of chess. But maybe he wanted to. “It means the answers are inside of him,” he says.

“Then why did he need the gargoyles?”

“He needed to breathe life into them so he could talk to himself. It’s the only way he could find out who he was.”

“You know anyone else like that?”

“Me.” He laughs a sweet, little laugh, soft and deep. And then there’s a long pause.

“But it can get so lonely, talking to yourself,” my son Owen finally says. “You have to live in the world.”

Neoneocon, The bell tolls not just for D’Souza

Thomas Lifson on Culture of corruption in federal bureaucracy

Theodore Dalrymple, Wicked, Wicked Heroin Addiction is a matter of persistence, not fate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 PM | Permalink

March 18, 2014

"There are three things keeping society from tearing itself apart: religion, organized sports, and the Internet."

From Cracked, 5 Ways the Internet Steals Your Soul

#5. The Internet Makes You … Only Smart Enough for Apathy

Instead of using the Net as a tool to cut more deeply into data, most of us have become part of a culture interested in knowing just enough. Indeed, most people use the Internet to find out what they don't need to know.

#4. The Internet Makes You … Only Strong in the Dark

People like to be terrible, and the Net makes it easier to be terrible. It lets them put their cruelty out into the world without the burden of being tethered to it. They are released, and they sprint happily across the World Wide Web dropping little nuggets of awful without consequence.

#3. The Internet Makes You … Only Calm Enough to Do Nothing

But online, you can always find your own quiet corner where people are talking about nothing. And it's easy to stay there because look how many millions are also doing nothing with you. A…... A place where you can pretend to do things, whether it's tweeting the weather, tagging some photos, or building a collage. It's work. The kind that leaves you with a slower pulse, but no other tangible reward, and one more day lost.

#2. The Internet Makes You … Only Kind When It's Easy

A study from the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business found that the more public the primary show of social-media endorsement, the less likely people were to provide meaningful support later. Conversely, if they supported a cause in a more confidential way, they were more likely to give money later. Essentially, the appearance of charity becomes its own reward, instead of a desire to make a difference or cause a personal effect in the world.

#1. The Internet Makes You … Only Content Enough to Keep from Rebelling

I fully believe there are three things keeping society from tearing itself apart: religion, organized sports, and the Internet.

Like sports, the Internet can be a huge distraction, helping you ignore the 50 hours a week you spend in a cubicle for increasingly awful health insurance and diminishing prospects of sending your children to college….

As long as you've got enough money for some Wi-Fi, you can enjoy the Internet in the same way as the power elite. In a weird way, the Net makes you feel rich. …We have comforts just like the ruling class. So, for all its power, for all its possibility, the Net succeeds most in promoting apathy. In fostering stagnation. That's not the Internet's fault. It's ours.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:26 PM | Permalink

I never knew about the cold Romans

The Romans didn't know how to heat their homes without getting smoke inside.  They only avoided asphyxiation because their buildings were so drafty and their windows had no panes.

The Technologically Backward and Cold Romans

“If the Caesars huddled against the cold and endured the smoke coming from their kitchens, medieval Europeans – peasants as well as the nobility – soon learned to live much better. They invented the chimney and the fireplace, whereupon even roaring blazes did not smoke up the room. Nor was it any longer necessary to have drafty homes. With the smoke rising harmlessly up their chimneys, folks in the Dark Ages ate better-prepared food, breathed far better air, and were a lot warmer in winter” (

Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2014

State of American Well-Being

Via Miss Cellania at Neatorama in The States of Happiness  comes this gorgeous and informative chart from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,

For the sixth consecutive year, global well-being improvement leader Healthways and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their analysis of the state of well-being across the United States.

More than 178,000 interviews nationwide fueled the 2013 analysis, which examined Americans’ perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare to create a composite well-being rank for each state.

 Chart States Of Happiness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2014

Moral and Cultural Inequality

In First Things, R.R. Reno on Inequality and Agency.  Moral and Cultural Inequality, Not Income Inequality, Are the Real Problems Facing Society.

What is inequality? It’s the unbalanced distribution of power and control over wealth and innovation, government and culture, society and neighborhoods—over our lives. That distribution is changing in our society. We can all feel it. At this point the conversation is focused on income inequality. But that’s too narrow. The economic top 20 percent has gained a near monopoly on social capital. This moral and cultural inequality is a deeper problem, and more explosive.
--
For most of American history, the Bible and the Judeo-Christian ethic had currency. In addition, we shared a common patriotic vocabulary anchored in our founding documents: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This shared moral and civic vision empowered ordinary people to participate in the great conversation about how we should shape our common life. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged his racist adversaries with a two-pronged weapon: the Declaration of Independence and the teachings of Scripture, both of which the common man could engage, understand, and respond to.

In the past, elites did their part to sustain this civic, moral, and religious consensus. Predominantly liberal, the newsmen of the 1950s and 1960s nevertheless expressed their moral passion in the same classic, high-minded public vocabulary King used. They operated within our encompassing civil religion even as they took critical stances.

The effect was to include a wide range of people in the public conversation and promote an equality of moral imagination. Religion, morality, and civic myths: These are not the opiates of the masses, nor the mystifications the powerful use to ensure their dominion. On the contrary, they provide us with an inclusive common language of duty, responsibility, and accountability.
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To an unpre­cedented degree, our secular elites have a monopoly on culture that cannot be challenged by ordinary people. The same people who are falling behind in the global economy also find themselves culturally disempowered. That’s why Fox News can build a brand around populist resentment.

The relentless critiques of traditional moral wisdom have led to a personal loss of agency as well, one that gives rise to today’s most profound inequality: marriage inequality. As David and Amber Lapp painfully detailed in the last issue (“Alone in the New America”), stable marriage is desired by many young working-class people but seems inaccessible…..

The editors of the New York Times intuit the deepest basis of their power. They are willing to pay higher taxes—or at least volunteer others to pay them. But a redistribution of cultural power? Not a chance. The same goes for faculty at universities. They’ll rally round the call for greater economic equality, but God forbid that a social or religious conservative should receive an appointment. That tells us a great deal about the inequalities and equalities that matter.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2014

Science vs feelings

After a meta analysis of 23 years of research, scientists from Cambridge University confirm that men's and woman's brains
develop differently

Scientists have found that men’s brains are bigger overall than women’s - by up to 13 per cent. But some individual parts of the female brain are denser.  Amber Ruigrok, a Phd student who worked on the study, said: “For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females.
--
Prof John Suckling, who led the research, said: “The sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression.” “This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions.

Of course, everyone knows men and woman are different in their biology and that biology extends to the brain. Similar studies confirming the difference between men and women make the headlines every few months like this one from December, 2013, Why Men’s and Women’s Brains Work Differently: It’s All About the Wiring

The latest imaging data reveals gender-based differences in the way brain networks are connected. …..

That pattern, which remained throughout adulthood, showed that the women’s brains were wired to better integrate emotion and reason— while the  men’s brains had stronger links between coordinated action and perception. For men, that translated into brains more highly connected from front to back, so perceptual and action-focused areas enjoyed stronger networks, while women’s brains had more left to right wiring. That matchup strengthened the connections between intuitive and emotional regions with those involved in rationality and planning.

But I'll leave it to How Stuff Works to explain simply what we've learned about the differences between men and women's brains.

So when I saw the headline that Facebook now offers you fifty different genders to choose from to describe yourself, I could only laugh at the absurdity of it all.  It's not based on science, but feelings, about making people feel good about themselves.  That's what Facebook is all about.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

Snapshots

D.C. No. 1 in broken homes; just 17 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds live with parents

In their “Fourth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection,” the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Institute focused on homes of married biological parents. Families in the Northeast are the most intact in the country while those in the South are the least intact.

Utah has the highest “belonging and rejection” index, with 57 percent living in traditional homes. Regionally, the northeast was best at 50 percent, and among races, Asians topped all with 65 percent, with blacks the lowest at 17 percent.

Prof corrects minority students’ capitalization, is accused of racism

From a paper by James Lindgren, Northwestern University School of Law  Who Believes that Astrology is Scientific?

 Table Belief In Astrology

 Table-10-Earth-Around Sun

Poll: 71% of Obama voters, 55% Democrats 'regret' voting for his re-election

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2014

Blacklisting, lies and political correctness

Andrew Cuomo is a blacklister—in the moral, if not literal, sense of the term writes George Weigel.

Blacklisting is obviously bad business. What’s worth noting today, though, is that the ugly habit of blacklisting has migrated on the political spectrum. Ask a lot of people the first thing they think of when they hear “blacklist,” and the response will likely be “Joe McCarthy” or “HUAC.” The proper response would be “Andrew Cuomo.”
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….turning to his own Empire State, he announced that such extremists, among whom he listed “right-to-life” people, “have no place in the state of New York.”

Cuomo defined “extreme conservatism” as being “anti-gay” by opposing same-sex marriage rights, opposed to abortion rights and favoring legalization of assault weapons.

Angelo M. Codevilla in Live Not by Lies

Being human, politicians lie. Even in the best regimes. The distinguishing feature of totalitarian regimes however, is that they are built on words that the rulers know to be false, and on somehow constraining the people to speak and act as if the lies were true. Thus the people hold up the regime by partnering in its lies. Thus, when we use language that is “politically correct” – when we speak words acceptable to the regime even if unfaithful to reality – or when we don’t call out politicians who lie to our faces, we take part in degrading America.

Solzhenitsyn showed that totalitarianism works by leading people to take part in the regime’s lies, and that it does so mostly by a host of petty incentives. Then he wrote: “the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.” The lies that hold up corrupt regimes, he noted, like infections, “can exist only in a living organism.” Hence whoever will live in freedom “will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.”

Abraham Lincoln wrote in a  Letter to Erastus Corning and Others (12 June 1863)

The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed,
can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy.

Among the definition of politically correct in The Urban Dictionary

1. The laws of moral and ethical relativism; all systems of cultures and thought are equal in value, stemming from a perceived guilt from white liberals who believe that the Western Civilization is the root of all evil to the exclusion of all else.
2. A powerful form of censorship.

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
~ P.D. James.

I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.
~ Hal Holbrook.

My objection to political correctness, as a Christian, is that it is diabolic; as a conservative, that it is Marxist; as a philosopher,  that it is not merely untruthful but openly nihilistic and irrational; as a practical man, that it makes rational conversation about any controversial topic all but impossible; as a gentleman that is substitutes political fashion for true courtesy; but as a writer my objection is that Political Correctness lacks drama.
  John C. Wright

The origins of political correctness - Political Correctness is cultural Marxism.

"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."

Theodore Dalrymple

Whether you call it linguistic fascism, cultural Marxism or communist propaganda, political correctness is totalitarianism internalized.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:11 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2014

The Bible

Christina Odone wrote in the Telegraph that the Bible has disappeared from our children's lives

Almost a third of children do not know their Adam from their Noah or that David slew Goliath. The Good Samaritan is a stranger and the Nativity just a Christmas play.

The latest Bible Society findings prove that the West has erased its Christian heritage from public life. I'm not surprised – only saddened that No God Zone, my e-book on the subject, has been vindicated. After decades of concerted efforts by secularist zealots, the Bible is a truly alien subject. Future generations will look on "the greatest story ever told" and think it is a 1965 movie starring Charlton Heston and Max von Sydow.

Even Richard Dawkins, our God-hater-in-chief, thinks this a pity. In a very amicable exchange three years ago, we agreed that the Bible represents a precious part of our legacy. I agreed with Prof Dawkins that you don't have to be a believer to delight in its literary merits and recognise its historical value. A few faith schools still teach "the Good Book"; but they are under fire from the atheist brigade, and many feel that they will only survive if they promote a multicultural syllabus that stars Gandhi and Mandela rather than Abraham and Jesus.

The extraordinary, subversive book, with its lessons on charity, compassion and respect for others inspired generations to rebel against tyrannies of all kinds – dictators, addictions, vices. Men and women dedicated their lives to its teachings – and were ready to die for it. But today it seems that a host of martyrs lost their lives in vain: the Bible is just another book that sold more than the Hunger Games trilogy at some point.

The recent poll by the Bible Society in the U.K. revealed that more than half of the adults who responded believe “The Hunger Games” are biblical and one in three say “Harry Potter” could be a storyline from the sacred text.

“While these statistics may appear surprising at first glance, they are symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories.” ….. Of the parents questioned, 46 percent did not recognize that the account of Noah’s Ark comes from the Bible, according to the results of the January survey of 800 children ages eight to 15 and 1,000 parents.

The survey was taken in preparation for the launch of the organization’s “Pass It On” campaign which is intended to raise the level of knowledge about the Bible.

More from the poll

  • more than 43 percent of parents feel it is important for kids to have read, heard or seen Bible stories.
  • three in 10 secondary school pupils, aged 12 to 15, did not realize the Nativity was from the Bible
  • one-third of the parents “were unsure or did not recognize the stories of David and Goliath and Adam and Eve as being from the Bible.
  • 27 percent thought the storyline from “Superman” was or could be in the Bible.

“It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom,” wrote Horace Greeley (1811-1872), publisher and journalist

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

"America is too sensitive about race"

'Northern liberal elites treated me worse than the segregated South':

America is too sensitive about race says Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas who spend his childhood in a a place and time in which businesses and government services were legally segregated.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a group of college students on Tuesday that race and gender relations are worse now than when he was a kid.  Speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida, Thomas, the second black justice to serve on the court, lamented what he considers a society that is more 'conscious' of racial differences than it was when he grew up in segregated Georgia in the days before — and during — the civil rights era.

The conservative justice who, among other things, has written opinions supporting limits on Affirmative Action, added that 'the worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.'
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Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.'  'That’s a part of the deal,' he added.

More people need Insensitivity training.

The Onion: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist

“It would be so much easier if I could just write him off as a bigot, but as far as I can tell he harbors no resentment or disdain toward people of color. For God’s sake, we argued every issue from states’ rights to income disparity but nope, he didn’t say anything even tacitly racist. Not once.” Hardwick later concluded that her acquaintance’s opposition to most of President Obama’s policies meant he was probably “close enough” to count as a racist.

Me, I want to live in a post-racial world like the one Naomi Schaefer Riley describes:

it would be filled with people like Jerry Seinfeld, going about their business, doing what they do best, without the slightest concern for the color of another person’s skin. It would be filled with people who walk into offices, schools and social events without doing a racial headcount to make sure every group was proportionately represented.

“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”
Thomas Sowell

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2014

"They are men as we are, not savages."

There’s Equality, and There’s Equality by Anthony Esolen  "They are men as we are, not savages."

We professors at Providence College have for two years now been working in the midst of invisible men, men who once might have been like Gwilym Morgan, but who in these times are almost as insane and as morally blinkered as the professors they serve.  The men have built a large and handsome Center for the Humanities, out of brick and stone.  They have had to transform a hill and a parking lot to get the project started.  They have turned an old field into a new facility for soccer, field hockey, and track, complete with bleachers and a press house, and eighty foot tall lights for events at night.  They have laid hundreds of yards of concrete pathways.  They have cleared out a useless hill thicketed with scrub trees and made it into a decorative border for the campus.  They have built temporary parking lots and torn them out again and replaced them with sod.  They have dug out stumps and planted trees.  They have worked with jackhammers, drills, chisels, backhoes, saws, scaffolding, trowels, wheelbarrows, sledges, and the indispensable hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and back.  They have done all this while remaining as quiet and unobtrusive as they could be.

They work hard, at work that takes its toll on their bodies, in all seasons and in all but the filthiest weather.  Yet I doubt that the feminist professor – and most professors are feminist – gives them a passing thought. Without men like them, we would have nothing; nothing to eat, no metal for our cars, no bricks, no stone, no wooden planks, no houses, no roads, no public buildings, no clean running water, nothing.  They do work that is more than desirable.  It is absolutely necessary.  I teach English poetry; that is not necessary.  I will not trouble to discuss sociology, feminist or otherwise.
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We are looking for equality as men, so that we can say what Mr. Morgan said.  And the common laborers enjoy no such thing.  ….. Our need for these fathers is total, yet their authority is minuscule even in their own localities, and their influence upon national politics is zero
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2014

"This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”

Down and Out in Vermont by Geoffrey Norman in the Weekly Standard

Drive-bys. Dealers dropped in the act of going for a gun. Lawn signs warning the druggies to stay away. It doesn’t seem right—not on these leafy streets in this little city with its splendid views of the mountains a mile or two distant.

“Tell me about it,” Prouty says.
---
“They steal anything they can sell. Copper. The catalytic converters out of cars. Electronics, of course. They’ll walk into Walmart and pick up a flat-screen television and just walk out with it.”

He and the rest of Baker’s officers do what they can. They make their presence known. They make arrests. But the numbers are not on their side. The state can lock up only so many and keep them only so long.
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If you live in the state, you feel a certain undeniable pride in the way that they, like Jim Baker and Matt Prouty, are taking on the problem. There is a measure of the old Vermont spirit of yeomanry about it….This heroin invasion, though, is a different kind of fight. The enemy is an alternative sensibility, one that is exactly contrary to that older spirit. Heroin is the agent of total surrender. The drug of demoralization.

“There are so many programs. So much assistance. This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”….This woman works for the paternalistic government, after all, and her clients are welfare mothers. Her words are spoken out of a deep frustration. And it is shared, around the table, as women nod ….
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The trend is not unique to Vermont, as the example of places where methamphetamine abuse is rampant makes plain. Vermont, so far, has mostly been spared that vector of the plague. But not the idleness, dependency, and demoralization.

Still, the police are willing to stand up to the gangs, and the women at Mandala House are not afraid to tell an addicted mother to hang up her clothes.  So there is hope.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

February 6, 2014

'Tired and irrelevant, 'boring and dull'

Reporters from the New York Times finally confess, albeit anonymously, their dissatisfaction with editor Andy Rosenthal and the editorial and op ed pages which they describe as 'tired and irrelevant,' 'boring and dull'.

The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page Reporters in ‘semi-open revolt’ against Andrew Rosenthal

IT’S WELL KNOWN AMONG THE SMALL WORLD of people who pay attention to such things that the liberal-leaning reporters at The Wall Street Journal resent the conservative-leaning editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. What’s less well known—and about to break into the open, threatening the very fabric of the institution—is how deeply the liberal-leaning reporters at The New York Times resent the liberal-leaning editorial page of The New York Times.
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The blame here, in the eyes of most Times reporters to whom The Observer spoke, belongs to Andrew Rosenthal, who as editorial page editor leads both the paper’s opinion pages and opinion postings online, as well as overseeing the editorial board and the letters, columnists and op-ed departments. Mr. Rosenthal is accused of both tyranny and pettiness, by the majority of the Times staffers interviewed for this story. …

“He runs the show and is lazy as all get-out,” says a current Times writer…

“Andy’s got 14 or 15 people plus a whole bevy of assistants working on these three unsigned editorials every day. They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual….

“Tom Friedman is an embarrassment. I mean there are multiple blogs and Tumblrs and Twitter feeds that exist solely to make fun of his sort of blowhardy bullshit.” ….

“I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin. They aren’t getting any less dull….

"The fact of the matter is the Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page’s ass. "

Some of us have known that for years.  That said, some of the NYT reporters are great.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2014

"They call it rage. But it feels more like grief"

Peggy Noonan in a must-read piece, Meanwhile, Back in America expresses  what half or more of the country is feeling these days.

All these things—the pushing around of nuns, the limiting of freedoms that were helping kids get a start in life, the targeting of conservative groups—all these things have the effect of breaking bonds of trust between government and the people. They make citizens see Washington as an alien and hostile power.

Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know.

They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you'd lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.

While In Forbes, Obama's Weaponization of Government

Everyone in the House Chamber knew something that the American people have yet to fully grasp and Republicans have yet to demonstrate an ability to combat – that their government has grown so large, so complex, so involved in virtually every aspect of their lives, that it is now being used as a weapon to by a small segment of the ruling political class.
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There is a dangerous arrogance of power among the President and senior-level Democrats that should concern every American.

Last week a senior United States Senator gave a speech stating that the IRS should be used to target and punish groups that disagree with the Democratic Party’s political agenda.  Sen. Chuck Schumer stated, “…there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately.”
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The IRS scandal is well-known and the misuse of the agency by the Democrat Party machine is still apparently going on.  However, the IRS is just one of dozens of other agencies under the control of this White House, many of which go unnoticed by the public and are virtually ignored by elected officials.

There are the new revelations about the Administration intimidating banks to prevent them from doing business with a number of legitimate businesses…..Operation Choke Point….

The Administration is refusing to answer any Congressional inquiries about Operation Choke Point….

Then there’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau… a key cog in the Obama Administration’s effort to regulate industries and personal decision-making.  ..

Unfortunately for Americans, this little-known agency is housed as part of the Federal Reserve so it exists outside of the direct pervue of Congress.  How convenient for the President.

As the Washington Examiner’s Richard Pollack recently reported, “they assume all businesses are predatory,” which allegedly gives them the ability to collect up to 96 separate data points from more than 1 billion credit cards.  That’s right – your government is now keeping tabs on how you spend your money.
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In just the last two weeks more EPA emails showed the coordinated effort between Administration policy-makers and environmental groups over the stalling of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The Agency’s most recent ridiculous regulatory announcement actually banned the production and sale of 80 percent of the country’s wood-burning stoves.

And on and on

Our system of government is based on checks and balances.  Ever since the beginning of the 20th Century, the Executive has, to one degree or another, been the dominant branch of government in large part due to the explosion of the Federal bureaucracy.  Hundreds of agencies, departments, programs, task forces, and commissions are an arsenal that in the wrong hands can be used against the very freedom the government is supposed to uphold, protect and defend. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

January 22, 2014

"A relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics"

Heather MacDonald, The Humanities and Us in City Journal
Don’t listen to today’s narcissistic academics—the West’s cultural inheritance is indispensable.

In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major……Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
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The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.
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It was not always so. The humanist tradition was founded not on narcissism but on the all-consuming desire to engage with the genius and radical difference of the past. The fourteenth-century Florentine poet Francesco Petrarch triggered the explosion of knowledge known today as Renaissance humanism with his discovery of Livy’s monumental history of Rome and the letters of Cicero, the Roman statesman whose orations, with their crystalline Latin style, would inspire such philosophers of republicanism as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
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This constant, sophisticated dialogue between past and present would become a defining feature of Western civilization, prompting the evolution of such radical ideas as constitutional government and giving birth to arts and architecture of polyphonic complexity. And it became the primary mission of the universities to transmit knowledge of the past, as well as—eventually—to serve as seedbeds for new knowledge.

What college students today would understand The dreams of readers?

In an essay published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1858, the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson chose the adjective to describe the experience of reading: “I find certain books vital and spermatic, not leaving the reader what he was.” For Emerson, the best books — the “true ones” — “take rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences, so medicinal, so stringent, so revolutionary, so authoritative.” Books are not only alive; they give life, or at least give it a new twist.
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Psychologists and neurobiologists have begun studying what goes on in our minds as we read literature, and what they’re discovering lends scientific weight to Emerson’s observation…..A work of literature, particularly narrative literature, takes hold of the brain in curious and powerful ways…Making sense of what transpires in a book’s imagined reality appears to depend on “making a version of the action ourselves, inwardly.”

One intriguing study, conducted a few years ago by research psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis, illuminates Oatley’s point. The scholars used brain scans to examine the cellular activity that occurs inside people’s heads as they read stories. They found that “readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative.” The groups of nerve cells, or neurons, activated in readers’  brains “closely mirror those involved when [they] perform, imagine, or observe similar real-world activities.”…

The reader’s brain is not just a mirror. The actions and sensations portrayed in a story, the researchers wrote, are woven together with “with personal knowledge from [each reader’s] past experiences.” Every reader of a book creates, in Oatley’s terms, his own dream of the work — and he inhabits that dream as if it were an actual place.

We gain a special trance-like state of mind in which we become unaware of our bodies and our environment,” explains Holland. “We are ‘transported.’” It is only when we leave behind the incessant busyness of our lives in society that we open ourselves to literature’s regenerative power. That doesn’t mean that reading is anti-social. The central subject of literature is society, and when we lose ourselves in a book we often receive an education in the subtleties and vagaries of human relations
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

The Rockabilly culture

The people who are STILL living like it's 1951: Captivating portraits take a look inside America's Rockabilly community

Photographer Jennifer Greenburg, an assistant professor of photography at Indiana University, has been photographing the Rockabilly culture for 10 years.

People that not only dress like it’s the Fifties, but also drive perfectly preserved Cadillacs and decorate their homes with furniture to rival the retro sets of Mad Men.

'At first I thought the culture was about fashion,' the 36-year-old photographer told MailOnline. 'Then I realized it was much, much, more than that. I realized that this was a culture of people who functioned as a community.'

 Young Rockabilly -Cowboy

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The community of people Ms Greenburg has documented, she believes, usually have a desire for this kind of joyousness that was lost in the 21st Century. 'Happiness, I believe, is everyone’s primary full-time job. And living a life that resembles, visually, the 1950’s helps make that just a little easier,' she said.

From re-wiring a lamp, to re-sewing the seams of a Fifties cocktail dress, Ms Greenburg added that most true participants of the culture are skilled at repairing and restoring most of their possessions.
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'I realized what a special and lovely thing I found myself a part of,' she said. 'I have a friend in every city in America that I can call today and go visit tomorrow. That friend will open up his door to me,  and, help me with anything that I need -- a laugh, a drink of water, a shoulder to cry on -- just like only the best of friends do.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink

"The undeniable fact is that nearly a third of my generation is missing."

Politico, Snow doesn’t hinder March for Life

Every January for the past 40 years, a large group of anti-abortion advocates has gathered on the National Mall and then marched to the Supreme Court to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Organizers say their participants in the past few years have numbered from 200,000 to 400,000, a large part of whom are young people, and yet they remain perplexed why one of the largest demonstrations in Washington, D.C., gets little of the attention they feel it is due.

“It is sort of frustrating when you’re downtown freezing your tail off with hundreds of thousands of people, it’s the biggest you can imagine you’ve ever taken part in, and you go home and you watch the news or you pick up the paper and … you’re lucky if you get on the news 20 seconds of coverage,” said Kevin Bohli, director of youth outreach for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. “You might have 10 people camped out in a park for Occupy getting news for weeks on end, but hundreds of thousands of people from all of the nation coming together and almost nothing.

Despite cancelled flights and stopped D.C. bound tour buses, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.  will trudge through the snow in D.C. to March for Life.

The theme this year is adoption. …."We want to encourage women facing the option of abortion to choose adoption," said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund. "Adoption is at the center of motherhood. Motherhood is all about sacrifices. This is an ultimate sacrifice for the good of the baby."

 55Million Abortions Since Roe V.Wade

I Am Overwhelmed by 55 Million Babies Killed Since Roe v. Wade, Kristan Hawkins

The undeniable fact is that nearly a third of my generation is missing. We are missing brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, husbands and wives…….

You see, Miss Weddington’s generation got it wrong. In attempting to correct gender inequality in the workplace and in our society, they set into motion the ultimate act of discrimination – abortion. Instead of glorifying motherhood, they pitted the mother against her child, creating an endless cycle of selfishness, pain, and deceit.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Child Sacrifice.

We are a people who sacrifice babies.  The logic of child sacrifice in primitive societies was simple: the gods provided the peace, prosperity and power you wanted, and to please them you gave them the most valuable thing: a human life. Likewise we offer  the products of our unrestrained pleasure–sacrificing them to provide prosperity and a peaceful life.

The entire interview with Cardinal Sean O'Malley on abortion, buffer zones, Project Rachel, Pope Francis and adoptions. is worth reading

“The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion once a year. They’ll never hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll never hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed? Now, the Church’s positions are very clear and very consistent. For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings. Life is precious. It is a mystery. It must be nurtured, protected, the transmission of life is sacred. And our defense of human life is a great service to society. When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic.

The good news. Report: Abortions Drop 32 Percent From All-Time High as Roe Turns 41

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, “Abortion remains widely available. But after years of being told that abortion was ‘the best choice’ or ‘their only choice,’ women are learning that there are alternatives to abortion that affirm their lives and the lives of their children,” added Tobias. “The bottom line is simple: the right-to-life movement is succeeding because even after 41 years and more than 56 million abortions, the conscience of our nation knows that killing unborn children is wrong.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

December 31, 2013

Data Milestones

From the Pew Research Center, 13 data milestones for 2013

1. Just over half (51%) of the public now favors same-sex marriage, while 42% are opposed.

2. A majority of Americans (52%) now favor legalizing the use of marijuana.

3. A majority agrees the U.S. should mind its own business internationally, the highest measure in nearly a half century of polling.

4. The share of Americans saying they do not want their own representative in Congress reelected – 38% – is at its highest point in two decades.

5. For the first time, a majority of the public (53%) says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

6. 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the so-called Millennial generation— now live in their parents’ home, the highest share in at least four decades.

7. A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.

8. The U.S., which has a total population of 317 million, is now home to a record 40.4 million immigrants.

9. A record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts.

10. The percentage of Americans who say the U.S. plays a more important and powerful role as a world leader than it did 10 years ago has fallen to a 40-year low of just 17%.

11. The percentage of American Catholics calling themselves “strong” Catholics is at a four-decade low.

12. For the first time since Pew Research Center began tracking smartphone adoption, a majority of Americans now own a smartphone of some kind.

13.  50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 PM | Permalink

December 17, 2013

Americans are losing trust in each other as we hunker down in more diverse communities

Two-thirds of Americans no longer trust each other says poll conducted last month

We're not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy - trust in the other fellow - has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question. Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say 'you can't be too careful' in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.
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Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists.

What's known as 'social trust' brings good things. A society where it's easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher.  'It's like the rules of the game,' Clark said. 'When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.'
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In fact, some studies suggest it's too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person's lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war.

People do get a little more trusting as they age. But beginning with the baby boomers, each generation has started off adulthood less trusting than those who came before them.
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How can you make sense of  Americans' loss of trust ?

The best-known analysis comes from 'Bowling Alone' author Robert Putnam's nearly two decades of studying the United States' declining 'social capital,' including trust.

Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the 'long civic generation' that came of age during the Depression and World War II.

University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, puts the blame elsewhere: economic inequality.
Trust has declined as the gap between the nation's rich and poor gapes ever wider, Uslaner says, and more and more Americans feel shut out. They've lost their sense of a shared fate. Tellingly, trust rises with wealth.

After 30,000 detailed interviews, the guru of social capital, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam found The downside of diversity 

Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.
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In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.

"Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."
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"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2013

Boy trouble, male friendship, the daughter theory and Harry Potter vs the Hunger Games

In City Journal, Boy Trouble by Kay Hymowitz

Family breakdown disproportionately harms young males—and they’re falling further behind.

Whatever Happened to Male Friendship?  and a gorgeous ad for Irish whiskey

these four young men represent i a challenge to the common portrayal of male friendship in our popular culture.  It is difficult to find, especially on television, an example of male friendship (outside of the military or law enforcement) that is neither transactional nor idiotic.  For cheap beer, it’s the wingman trope.  In sitcoms, it’s stupid men doing stupid things in stupid attempts at liberation from wives or girlfriends.  Male friendships, we’re taught, are about finding or fleeing women; they are not valuable in themselves.
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The implicit promise that is so appealing is not that this whiskey will bring you a beautiful wife, but that it will bring you worthy friends to see you off on that marital journey.

And most men desire this friendship—this tender, warm, (dare we say it?) loving friendship—but that desire receives no affirmation in our culture. 

The Daughter Theory by Ross Douthat

“Study: Having daughters makes parents more likely to be Republican.”
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Things are more complicated than you thought, liberals! You can love your daughters, want the best for them, and find yourself drawn to … conservative ideas! Especially if you’re highly educated, which is where the effect was strongest!
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But as a father of girls and a parent whose adult social set still overlaps with the unmarried, I do have a sense of where a daughter-inspired conservatism might come from, whatever political form it takes.

It comes from thinking about their future happiness, and about a young man named Nathaniel P.

This character, Nate to his friends, doesn’t technically exist: He’s the protagonist in Adelle Waldman’s recent novel of young-Brooklynite manners, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.”

But his type does exist, in multitudinous forms, wherever successful young people congregate, socialize, pair off. He’s not the worst sort of guy by any means — not a toxic bachelor or an obnoxious pick-up artist. He’s well intentioned, sensitive, mildly idealistic. Yet he’s also a source of immense misery — both short-term and potentially lifelong — for the young women in his circle.

“Contrary to what these women seemed to think,” Waldman writes of Nathaniel P.’s flings and semi-steady girlfriends, “he was not indifferent to their unhappiness. And yet he seemed, in spite of himself, to provoke it.”

He provokes it by taking advantage of a social landscape in which sex has been decoupled from marriage but biology hasn’t been abolished, which means women still operate on a shorter time horizon for crucial life choices — marriage, kids — than do men. In this landscape, what Nate wants — sex, and the validation that comes with being wanted — he reliably gets. But what his lovers want, increasingly, as their cohort grows older — a more permanent commitment — he can afford to persistently withhold, feeling guilty but not that guilty about doing so.

“Remember Who the Real Enemy Is” by Peter Blair

There’s a popular feeling in the air that America has become decadent. Contrasting Harry Potter to the Hunger Games shows what a difference a decade can make.
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The moral universe of Harry Potter might best be summed up by a quote from the movie version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. In that movie, one of the characters say that some believe “it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.”
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The political system is broken in Harry Potter, and only by working as renegades outside it can our heroes ultimately save it. But revolution or rebellion is never seriously considered; the state isn’t the enemy to be fought as much as it is an impediment to achieving righteous goals.
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With the Hunger Games, we’re in a much darker and more complicated universe. Harry Potter features scenes of torture and death, but in the Hunger Games the violence has systematic, state backing from beginning to end. The state isn’t just hidebound and inefficient; rather, it’s the very actor that sets up and sustains structures of violence (the eponymous “hunger games,” deadly contests in which children are forced to fight to the death in order to remind defeated rebels of the government’s power).
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In the larger context of the series, the real enemy isn’t just one particular tyrant, but political authority in general.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

December 14, 2013

"Faith is the great life-giving force, and the loss of faith is death-dealing"

David Warren writes about demography and faith and the Blessed Virgin Mary in  Cherchez la femme

….the extraordinary role of faith itself in the sequences of history . Faith is the great life-giving force, and the loss of faith is death-dealing. By this we do not mean only Christian faith, for the same principle applies in all cultures, and has applied since time out of mind.

The classical example is “the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.” As the pagan Romans lost faith in their own civilization, they stopped having babies. They rehearsed almost all the features of our modern West in their own later decadence: the sophisticated rejection of religious observances; the confident smugness of the half-educated; the degradation of family life; the acceptance of public pornography, and openly perverse liaisons; couch-potato obsessions with circus and professionalized gladiatorial sports; the shift from pride in productivity, to a shameless consumerism; the aesthetic decline in all manufactures; the spread of dishonorable trade practices; the inflation of money, and in all other kinds; debt crises; the growing dependence upon immigrant slaves and other cheap labour for all unpleasant work, including everything required of the Roman armies; the appeasement of enemies, and extravagant buying off of the tribal savages, now being let inside their frontiers. In a word, “individualism,” or in another, “atomization.” Stage by stage, we watch the implosion, until finally we have that wonderful spectacle conveyed in the painting of Delacroix: “Attila the Hun, followed by his hordes, trample Italy and the Arts.”

A more careful historian would not present this decline as continuous, however. As we focus, we see the Roman hesitation. After taking steps back, they take steps forward. There were decades of recovery, when one could imagine the sage pundits of Rome saying, “What were we so worried about?” and boasting of the new Roman hyperpower after winning obscure bush wars. The sense of invincibility would seem to be returning, along with faith in Roman institutions. Then it falters again, because in prosperity the old Roman chests had been emptying out. They no longer believed in their own future, let alone in their gods. They had no mission any more, and could barely cope with even minor disasters. Still, they put off their fate for centuries, until the last legions scattered or ran home.
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He concludes by referencing, an mass apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary  in Zeitoun, Egypt  beginning in 1968.  Zeitoun is on the path the Holy Family took when visiting Egypt.

And again, it strikes me, cherchez la femme. A woman comes into this in the figure of Mary, commonly venerated by the grace of God not only through what remains of Christendom, but also what remains of the Dar al-Islam. I think on Fatima, but more especially upon Our Lady of Zeitoun (near Cairo, 2nd April 1968, and multiple subsequent apparitions, before immense crowds, photographed and video-recorded from so many angles and by so many cameras as to obviate any possibility of a hoax). It is she, above all, in her own light as “Our Lady of Light,” upon the roof of her own church at Zeitoun — along with those “bursts of diamonds” and “explosions of incense” to which hundreds of thousands of witnesses attested — who calls upon this world. Before Muslim and Christian alike, she was seen standing, and kneeling, alone; then again and again, presenting the Child, cradled in her arms. It is she, to us all, who, I believe, points the only viable way forward.

 Our Lady Zeitoun

I would bet that most readers never heard of Our Lady of Zeitoun.    Here is a YouTube video that tells the story in 8 ½ minutes.  Here is another page on the apparitions of Zeitoun

Thousands of people from different denominations and religions, Egyptians and foreign visitors, clergy and scientists, from different classes and professions, all observed the apparitions. The description of each apparition as of the time, location and configuration was identically witnessed by all people, which makes this apparition unique and sublime.  Two important aspects accompanied these apparitions: The first is an incredible revival of the faith in God, the other world and the saints, leading to repentance and conversion of many who strayed away from the faith. The second are the numerous miracles of healing which were verified by many physicians to be miraculous in nature.
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Report of General Information and Complaints Department, Cairo, Egypt, 1968

"Official investigations have been carried out with the result that it has been considered an undeniable fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing on Zeitoun Church in a clear and bright luminous body seen by all present in front of the church, whether Christians or Moslems."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

December 13, 2013

" Attention, perhaps, is the antidote to narcissism"

is the Distracted Life Worth Living?

Philosophy is something close to a national pastime in France, a fact reflected not just in the celebrity status of its big thinkers but also in the interest its media show in the subject.  So perhaps it’s not surprising that several French publications recently sent correspondents, interviewers, and even philosophers to the Richmond, Va. motorcycle repair shop of Matthew Crawford, mechanic, philosopher, and a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.
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Jean-Baptiste Jacquin of Le Monde… pressed Crawford on what specific things people might do to counter the endless demands being put on our attention.  Having a fuller cultural consciousness of the problem is one thing that may help, Crawford suggested.  And engaging in activities that structure our attention is another:

I think manual work, almost any form of manual work,  is a remedy.  Cooking, for example. To prepare a fine meal requires a high level of concentration.  Everything you do at each stage of preparation depends directly on the activity itself and on the objects, the ingredients.
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In a dialogue between Crawford and French philosopher Cynthia Fleurry arranged by Madame Figaro , Crawford got into the question of autonomy and its connections with attention:

We have a vision of autonomy that is overly liberal,  almost a caricature of itself, in that we take it to imply a kind of self-enclosure. Attention is precisely the faculty that pulls out of our own head and joins us to the worldAttention, perhaps, is the antidote to narcissism….

The ironic and toxic result of advertising and other information saturating the environment is, Crawford explained, to isolate the self, to flatter it with delusions of its autonomy and agency.  Children grow up pressing buttons and things happen, he elaborated, but they never acquire real mastery over the world of things.  They can only make things happen by clicking buttons. ”And there you have it,”  said Crawford , “an autonomy that is autism. ”

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In the November issue of Philosophie Magazine,  Crawford exchanged thoughts with philosopher Pascal Chabot,…

Crawford nicely summed up what might be lost to all those symbol-manipulators who think of themselves as master of the universe even as they lose a fundamental knowledge of their world:

What anthropology, neurobiology, and common sense teach us is that it’s difficult to penetrate to the sense of things without taking them in hand. …It is not through representations of things but by manipulating them that we know the world.  o say it another way, what is at the heart of human experience is our individual agency:  our capacity to act on the world and to judge the effects of our action….

But the organization of work and our consumerist culture increasingly deprive us of this experience. American schools,  beginning in the 1990s, dismantled shop classes–which for me had been the most  intellectually stimulating classes—in favor of introductory computer classes, thus fostering the idea that the world had become a kind of scrim of information over which it was sufficient to glide.

But in fact dealing with the world this way makes it opaque and mysterious, because the surface experience doesn’t require our intervention but instead cultivates our passivity and dependence.  That has political consequences.  If you don’t feel you can have a real effect on the world, then you don’t believe you have any real responsibility for it. I believe that the depoliticization we are witnessing in the modern world comes from this sense of a lack of agency. The financial crisis is another alarming symptom of the problem:  A trader makes a choice that will have an effect in three years and thousands of miles away.  The consequences of his action are a matter of indifference to him.

By contrast, repairing a motorcycle doesn’t allow you to have that kind of detachment.  If it doesn’t start, your failure jumps out at you and you know who is responsible.  In teaching you that it is not easy to ignore consequences, manual work provides a kind of moral education which also benefits intellectual activity. 

I am very much looking forward to his new book on the political economy of attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:56 PM | Permalink

Chivalry and Husbands

Is Chivalry Dead?

Not to be excessively glib, but codes of behavior are one of the better ways to show respect. Obviously, chivalric codes involve gender identity: they are a way for men to show respect for women, but also to show that they want to protect and provide for women.

 Modern Chivalry

In many cases today’s independent woman finds this notion repugnant. But, what is the alternative? In the absence of a code of gentlemanly behavior men have learned how to disrespect women. No longer wanting to be gentlemen, they become scoundrels.

Perhaps that is not the message that feminists wanted to convey, but that is the message that has been received.

Why women still need husbands

According to Pew Research, “Dads are much more likely than moms to say they want to work full time. And when it comes to what they value most in a job, working fathers place more importance on having a high-paying job, while working mothers are more concerned with having a flexible schedule.”

That women prefer part-time work is simply irrefutable. It was true back in 2007, and it’s even true among Ivy League graduates! Study after study, both here and abroad (the majority of women in the UK, Spain and other countries seek some combination of paid work and family work) shows women as a whole (the Sheryl Sandbergs notwithstanding) want multifaceted lives. They want balance.

And there’s only one way to get it: rely on a man’s more linear career goals. Unlike women, a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck. That’s how most men feel a sense of purpose. Indeed, research shows men see it as their duty to support their families even when their wives make as much money (or more) as they do!

Perhaps that’s because men can’t produce life the way women can—let’s face it: those are some serious shoes to fill—but they can produce the means to make a child’s life secure. As a nation, we dismiss this integral part of masculinity. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

December 12, 2013

" No husbands and wives, only baby-mothers and baby-fathers"

In Some to Misery Are Born Theodore Dalrymple in TaKi's Magazine describes the horror of a girl born to a drug addict and abused for years by live-in boyfriends and whose education never equipped her with even basic skills that would enable her to get a job.  He concludes:

These questions would at least reflect the reality of the terrible world in which the woman lived. This is a world which is quite extensive in England, where it is normal for a woman’s grandchildren to be older than her children, where uncles and aunts are often younger than their nieces and nephews, where practically all siblings are half-siblings and have different surnames, where when you try to understand the family relationships of the children it makes you dizzy, and where there are no husbands and wives, only baby-mothers and baby-fathers.

There is no new thing under the sun, and no doubt there are historical precedents for all this. Yet the sheer extent of this world in England is new, if by “new” we mean something that has happened in the last half-century at the most. It has been created with the blessing of intellectuals who saw the destruction of conventions as a blow against hypocrisy and with the encouragement of politicians who saw in social breakdown an opportunity to remain permanently important.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

December 10, 2013

Hooking Up

Intercollegiate Review Why Hooking Up Is Letting You Down  by J. Budziszewski

In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. They still live like libertines, sometimes they still talk like libertines, but it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists. My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, but theirs is paying the price.

I am not speaking only of the medical price. To be sure, that price is ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. Consider, for example, broken childhoods. What is it like for your family to break up because dad has found someone new, then to break up again because mom has? What is it like to be passed from stepparent to stepparent to stepparent? What is it like to grow up knowing that you would have had a sister, but she was aborted?
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We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that term in the broadest sense: not merely mechanical design (this part goes here, this part goes there) but also what kind of being we are. Because the design is not merely biological but also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual, the languages of natural law, natural design, natural meanings, and natural purposes are intertranslatable, and most of the time interchangeable. Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t.

The problem with twenty-first-century Western sexuality is that it flouts the embedded principles and the inbuilt meanings of the human sexual design.
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Mutual and total self-giving, strong feelings of attachment, intense pleasure, and the procreation of new life are linked by human nature in a single complex of meanings and purpose. For this reason, if we try to split them apart, we split ourselves. Failure to grasp this fact is more ruinous to our lives, and more difficult to correct, than any amount of ignorance about genital warts. It ought to be taught, but it isn’t.

The problem is that we don’t want to believe that these things are really joined; we don’t want the package deal that they represent. We want to transcend our own nature, like gods. We want to pick and choose among the elements of our sexual design, enjoying just the pieces that we want and not the others. Some people pick and choose one element, others pick and choose another, but they share the illusion that they can pick and choose. Sometimes such picking and choosing is called “having it all.” That is precisely what it isn’t. A more apt description would be refusing it all—insisting on having just a part—and in the end, not even getting that.

Time magazine 9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too  Boys get hurt as much as, if not more than, girls

Rosalind Wiseman, the mother of two boys, spent two years of research for her new book, Masterminds and Wingmen, delving into the world of boys.

she interviewed hundreds of boys across the country — individually, in groups, over the course of extended e-mail correspondences — and their stories are really quite striking.

As Wiseman writes, we assume that boys are the perpetrators and beneficiaries of hookup culture — and thus we tend to ignore its effects on them. But those effects, it turns out, can be rather rough.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink

Mistaking Words and Movies for Reality

Ace on The MacGuffinization of American Politics

In a movie or book, "The MacGuffin" is the thing the hero wants.  Usually the villain wants it too, and their conflict over who will end up with The MacGuffin forms the basic spine of the story.
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Alfred Hitchcock noted -- counterintuitively, when you first hear this -- that the specifics of the MacGuffin don't really matter at all to a movie. He pointed out that the audience doesn't care at all about the MacGuffin. The hero in the movie itself cares, but the audience doesn't.
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A MacGuffin only has one requirement: That it be important-sounding, so that the audience understands he hero isn't engaged in some trivial matter, but that the Stakes Are High
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And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama.

For Obama's fanbois, this is not politics. This isn't even America, not really, not anymore.  This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions -- and Obama's myriad failures as an executive -- are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
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As with a MacGuffin in the movie, only the Hero's emotional response to the MacGuffin matters.  Again and again, Matthews and his panel focused not on weighty questions of state, but on what toll these important-sounding MacGuffins took upon the Star of the Picture, Barack Obama.

Matthews was not terribly interested in hearing about the problems with Obamacare, or how Obama planned to address them.  But he was very interested in learning how Obama was coping with the challenges.

Peggy Noonan made a similar point in Low Information Leadership

It’s a leader’s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, that’s a conservative leader’s job. It is a liberal leader’s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.

And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.
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Here I will say something harsh, and it’s connected to the thing about words but also images.

From what I have seen the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar…
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

The Root Sources of Inequality

Walter Russell Mead hits the mark again with Obama Flubs Inequality Message

Obama, and those who think like him, focus so much on socio-economic causes of inequality that they tend to overlook the impact of cultural factors like the breakdown of the family and the decline of strong community institutions.
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Actually, there’s plenty of evidence that unwed childbearing, father absence and fraying kinship and community networks exacerbate the problems of low-income people and make it incredibly hard for them to gain a foothold in the middle class. These are thorny problems that aren’t easily solved by the kinds of government measures Obama champions. So his speech says very little about the ways that strong marriages, family stability, or a robust role for churches in helping struggling Americans improve their lives can all improve economic mobility in this country. These social and cultural factors are arguably root causes of inequality, and it’s a pretty conspicuous omission to ignore that in a presidential speech on the subject. We’re glad people are talking more about about the yawning gap between rich and poor, but this troubling reality deserves a better treatment than Obama gave it.

Obama can't solve the jobs problem  Glenn Reynolds

Last week, President Obama gave a much-touted speech on "income inequality." But while inequality is a valid concern, it's not so clear that unequal incomes are the biggest problem America faces.

More troubling -- as figures as distinct as Slate's Matthew Yglesias and National Review's Mark Steyn both noted -- is the growing divide between an America where people have jobs, and an America where people live off of government benefits.
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So why is President Obama less interested in the shortage of jobs and more focused on mere "income inequality?" I think there are two reasons. First, while expanding the dependency class might be bad for America (and for the dependents), it's good for the political party that passes out the pork. And second -- and this is more troubling -- I think that Obama has no idea how to address the underlying jobs problem.

Mark Steyn on The Post-Work Economy

Consider Vermont. Unlike my own state of New Hampshire, it has a bucolic image: Holsteins, dirt roads, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Howard Dean . . . And yet the Green Mountain State has appalling levels of heroin and meth addiction, and the social chaos that follows.  Geoffrey Norman began a recent essay in The Weekly Standard with a vignette from a town I know very well — St. Johnsbury, population 7,600, motto “Very Vermont,” the capital of the remote North-East Kingdom hard by the Quebec border and as far from urban pathologies as you can get. Or so you’d think. But on a recent Saturday morning, Norman reports, there were more cars parked at the needle-exchange clinic than at the farmers’ market. In Vermont, there’s no inner-city underclass, because there are no cities, inner or outer; there’s no disadvantaged minorities, because there’s only three blacks and seven Hispanics in the entire state; there’s no nothing. Which is the real problem.  Large numbers of Vermonters have adopted the dysfunctions of the urban underclass for no reason more compelling than that there’s not much else to do. Once upon a time, St. Johnsbury made Fairbanks scales, but now a still handsome town is, as Norman puts it, “hollowed out by the loss of work and purpose.”


“Work” and “purpose” are intimately connected: Researchers at the University of Michigan, for example, found that welfare payments make one unhappier than a modest income honestly earned and used to provide for one’s family. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray in a speech in 2009. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors — even more to the lives of janitors — as it does to the lives of CEOs.” Self-reliance — “work” — is intimately connected to human dignity — “purpose.”

So what does every initiative of the Obama era have in common? Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security disability expansion, 50 million people on food stamps . . . The assumption is that mass, multi-generational dependency is now a permanent feature of life. A coastal elite will devise ever smarter and slicker trinkets, and pretty much everyone else will be a member of either the dependency class or the vast bureaucracy that ministers to them. And, if you’re wondering why every Big Government program assumes you’re a feeble child, that’s because a citizenry without “work and purpose” is ultimately incompatible with liberty. The elites think a smart society will be wealthy enough to relieve the masses from the need to work. In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2013

Kennedy was killed by a communist

JFK was assassinated 50 years ago today by the left-wing, self-confessed communist Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who had been court-martialed twice and who, after his discharge, traveled to Russia where he  appeared at the US Embassy in Moscow to declare his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship.  He was given a job and a state-subsidized apartment in Minsk but found life in the Soviet Union so dull, he wanted to return to the U.S . After marrying a Russian woman, they  both returned to the United States and settled in Texas where he became active in the pro-Castro 'Fair Play for Cuba' committee in New Orleans.  He traveled to Mexico City to get a visa to visit Cuba but was turned down. He then returned to Texas where he got a job in the Texas Book Depository in Dallas and the rest is history.

It is pernicious and utter tripe to argue as James McAuley did in a NYT op-ed entitled The City with a Death Wish In Its Eye, that Dallas was "the city that willed the death of the president."

People on the left can not face the fact that a left-wing commie killed Kennedy.  They will do anything to shift blame to conservatives.    One way that has proven very successful is to encourage conspiracy theories involving the right wing..  61 percent of Americans still insist the JFK assassination was a conspiracy.

Dan Greenfield  writes  "Sometimes a conspiracy theory exposes a conspiracy. Sometimes the conspiracy theory is the conspiracy".

There was never really any disagreement about Lee Harvey Oswald's politics. The media has avoided the issue by not talking about it while characterizing him as a screwball who wasn't happy anywhere. That much is true, but Lee Harvey Oswald was a militant Socialist screwball who defected to the Soviet Union and plotted the murders of people he considered "right-wing".

The piles of conspiracy theories shove him to the side as an excessively convenient killer. But Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a continuum of left-wing terror in America. The murder of JFK was a bridge between the explosions of violence in the twenties by anarchists and by the Weathermen in the seventies. Oswald was part of the leading edge of left-wing violence in America.
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JFK was not killed by a military-industrial complex or a vast right-wing conspiracy. No group of men in suits sat around a table plotting his death. The forces that killed him were the same political ideas of the left that led young American men and women to cheer for the Viet Cong, plant bombs and wage war against their own country.
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The real Kennedy conspiracy was an effort to suppress the basic truths of what had happened and to replace them with a recursive loop of conspiracy theories that could never resolve anything while convincing everyone that the basic truths of what happened could be safely ignored.

The conspiracy did not cover up the work of the secret organization that killed JFK, but the secret organizations of the left whose ideas led to his murder. The real JFK conspiracy concealed the deeper secret that the left is destructive and that its ideas carry a dark wind of chaos and violence.

Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West.  He offers New Proof of the KGB's hand in JFK's Assassination

According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”

In the WSJ James Piereson writes JFK—Casualty of the Cold War 

Why does the Kennedy assassination still provoke so much controversy?

A large part of the answer can be found in the social and political climate of the early 1960s. Immediately after the assassination, leading journalists and political figures insisted that the president was a victim of a "climate of hate" in Dallas and across the nation seeded by racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, fundamentalist ministers and anticommunist zealots. These people had been responsible for acts of violence across the South against blacks and civil-rights workers in the months and years leading up to Nov. 22, 1963. It made sense to think that the same forces must have been behind the attack on Kennedy.
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Ironically, U.S. leaders adopted a line similar to the one pushed by the Soviet Union and communist groups around the world. They likewise blamed the "far right" for the assassination.
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The assassin's motives for shooting Kennedy were undoubtedly linked to a wish to interfere with the president's campaign to overthrow Castro's government. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy pledged to abandon efforts to overthrow Castro's regime by force. But the war of words between the two governments continued, and so did clandestine plots by the Kennedy administration to eliminate Castro by assassination.

Castro, however, was probably aware of these plots against him, thanks to information thought to have been provided by a Cuban double agent. In early September, Castro declared in an interview with an American reporter that U.S. officials wouldn't be safe if they continued efforts to assassinate Cuban leaders. A transcript of the interview was published in the local paper in New Orleans where Oswald was then living; and it may have been Castro's remarks that sent him on his trip to Mexico City a few weeks later. Oswald was attentive to the smoldering war between the U.S. and Cuban governments and to the personal and ideological war of words between Castro and Kennedy.

The JFK assassination was an event in the Cold War, but it was interpreted by America's liberal leadership as an event in the civil-rights crusade. This interpretation sowed endless confusion about the motives of the assassin and the meaning of the event. The vacuum of meaning was filled by a host of conspiracy theories claiming that JFK was a victim of plots orchestrated by right-wing groups.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2013

“We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist”

 Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe on How Many Are Following the "Worst Advice in the History of the World", i.e. ““the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”

Rowe’s motivation for the work largely began with what he described as “the worst advice in the history of the world” – a poster he saw in high school challenging students to “work smart, not hard.”  The picture of the person working “smart” was holding a diploma, and the person working “hard” looked miserable performing some form of manual labor.

“Today, skilled trades are in demand. In fact, there are 3 million jobs out there that companies are having a hard time filling. So we thought that skilled trades could do with a PR campaign,” he said with a smile. “So we took the same idea, went ahead and vandalized it. Work smart AND hard.’”
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Rowe said he wanted to make something clear.  “I’m not against a college education. I’m against debt,” he said. “That was the only four letter word in my family…”

What he’s against, Rowe added, is that we started promoting college “at the expense” of the vocational training that, in many cases, is what’s actually needed for the career.

Mike Rowe unveiled last month a new scholarship program to get high school seniors ready to enter the workforce with the skills they need to land jobs that are available in the U. S.    From his website

Personally, I think it’s insane to start a career thirty grand in the hole, especially when there are no jobs in your chosen field. The fact is, the vast majority of jobs today do NOT require a four-year degree. They require training, and a truly useful skill. I think we’ve confused the cost of an education with the price of a diploma. That’s why I started The mikeroweWORKS Scholarship Fund. I want to challenge the idea that an expensive four-year degree is the best path for the most people, and call attention to thousands of real opportunities in the real world that real companies are struggling to fill.
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To qualify for a mrW/MTI Scholarship, you have to be a high-school senior who is willing to learn a skill at MTI. You’ll need to write an essay. You’ll need to provide attendance records and references. You’ll also need to submit a short video and post it on Facebook. In short, you’ll need to make a case for yourself, because the public is going to vote on who gets the money. And the money at stake is significant – on average, $15,000 per scholarship. And something else – you’ll need to sign The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (Skills & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo).

This is great advice for many, many young people.  He knows what he's talking about.  He's had more dirty jobs than anyone. 

As the creator and executive producer of Discovery Channel's Emmy-nominated series Dirty Jobs With Mike Rowe, Mike has spent years traveling the country, working as an apprentice on more than 200 jobs that most people would go out of their way to avoid. From coal mining to roustabouting, maggot farming to sheep castrating, Mike has worked in just about every industry and filmed the show in almost every state, celebrating the hard-working Americans who make civilized life possible for the rest of us.

No one is better suited to the role of good-natured guinea pig than Mike — mainly because it's not a role. Dirty Jobs is entirely unscripted, and Mike doesn't cheat; he actually does the work, with a sense of humor rarely portrayed in such professions. In fact, the notion of depicting hard work as noble and fun is central to his personal mission.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 PM | Permalink

November 11, 2013

Why we honor all veterans today

Today we honor all veterans day, living and dead.

 What Is A Veteran

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2013

Complacency and Cognitive Bias Can Blind

What ties these four articles together is the pernicious effect of complacency and cognitive bias that blinds minds .  Atheists think they know what believers mean by God; Theology is only for the devout.  Peer-reviewed scientific studies are all true.  Automating tasks makes us smarter

Father Robert  Barron on why Atheists Don't Get God

It is not so much that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins disagree with Thomas Aquinas on the existence of God; it is that neither Hitchens nor Dawkins has any real grasp of what Aquinas even means when he speaks of God.

To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of "being." But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual -- however supreme -- among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas's pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.
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I often tease the critics of religion who take pride in the rigor of their rationalism. I tell them that, though they are willing to ask and answer all sorts of questions about reality, they become radically uncurious, irrational even, just when the most interesting question of all is posed: why is there something rather than nothing? Why should the universe exist at all?

Study Theology, Even If You Don't Believe in God  writes Tara Burton in the Atlantic

While the study of history taught me the story of humanity on a broader scale, the study of theology allowed me insight into the minds and hearts, fears and concerns, of those in circumstances were so wildly different from my own.
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If history and comparative religion alike offer us perspective on world events from the “outside,” the study of theology offers us a chance to study those same events “from within”: an opportunity to get inside the heads of those whose beliefs and choices shaped so much of our history, and who—in the world outside the ivory tower—still shape plenty of the world today. That such avenues of inquiry have virtually vanished from many of the institutions where they were once best explored is hardly a triumph of progress or of secularism. Instead, the absence of theology in our universities is an unfortunate example of blindness—willful or no—to the fact that engagement with the past requires more than mere objective or comparative analysis. It requires a willingness to look outside our own perspectives in order engage with the great questions—and questioners—of history on their own terms. Even Dawkins might well agree with that.

I have to remember when I quote from scientific studies that  Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity  writes Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times.

A  few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology.  The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test — that the original results couldn't be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches.

But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid.

"Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research," observed C. Glenn Begley, then Amgen's head of global cancer research, "this was a shocking result."

Unfortunately, it wasn't unique. A group at Bayer HealthCare in Germany similarly found that only 25% of published papers on which it was basing R&D projects could be validated, suggesting that projects in which the firm had sunk huge resources should be abandoned. Whole fields of research, including some in which patients were already participating in clinical trials, are based on science that hasn't been, and possibly can't be, validated.
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The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole. NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines by Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic
We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That's all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?

Automation has become so sophisticated that on a typical passenger flight, a human pilot holds the controls for a grand total of just three minutes. What pilots spend a lot of time doing is monitoring screens and keying in data. They’ve become, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say, computer operators....Overuse of automation erodes pilots’ expertise and dulls their reflexes, leading to what Jan Noyes, an ergonomics expert at Britain’s University of Bristol, terms “a de-skilling of the crew.”
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Psychologists have found that when we work with computers, we often fall victim to two cognitive ailments—complacency and bias—that can undercut our performance and lead to mistakes.....The way computers can weaken awareness and attentiveness points to a deeper problem. Automation turns us from actors into observers. Instead of manipulating the yoke, we watch the screen. That shift may make our lives easier, but it can also inhibit the development of expertise.
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Whether it’s a pilot on a flight deck, a doctor in an examination room, or an Inuit hunter on an ice floe, knowing demands doing. One of the most remarkable things about us is also one of the easiest to overlook: each time we collide with the real, we deepen our understanding of the world and become more fully a part of it. While we’re wrestling with a difficult task, we may be motivated by an anticipation of the ends of our labor, but it’s the work itself—the means—that makes us who we are. Computer automation severs the ends from the means. It makes getting what we want easier, but it distances us from the work of knowing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

October 25, 2013

What is going on in the Army? UPDATED

What in the world is the Army thinking?  Does Army consider Christians, Tea Party, a terror threat?

Soldiers attending a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood say they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A soldier who attended the Oct. 17th briefing told me the counter-intelligence agent in charge of the meeting spent nearly a half hour discussing how evangelical Christians and groups like the American Family Association were “tearing the country apart.”
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“My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church,” the evangelical Christian soldier told me. “Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who is a part of the Tea Party movement?”

Another soldier who attended the briefing alerted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. That individual’s recollections of the briefing matched the soldier who reached out to me.

“I was very shocked and couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” the soldier said. “I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from family to fight for, were being taken away.”

And while a large portion of the briefing dealt with the threat evangelicals and the Tea Party pose to the nation, barely a word was said about Islamic extremism, the soldier said.

Breitbart news has uncovered a Military Training Document: Anti-Christian SPLC a Trusted Source to Define 'Extremism'

For months, the Obama-Hagel Pentagon has promised that reports of military trainers teaching troops that traditional Christian groups are extremists akin to terrorists were isolated incidents by rogue instructors. Now an official Army document contains evidence to the contrary.
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This is just the latest outrage in a long train of disgraces. Just days ago, soldiers at Camp Shelby in Mississippi were instructed that the Christian conservative American Family Association is a domestic hate group. A month earlier, a security presentation portrayed the Founding Fathers as extremists. Before that, Breitbart News reported on a Christian chaplain who was officially censored by military commanders for talking about the importance of religious faith. And several months before that, Lt. Col. Jack Rich at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, instructed soldiers that traditional Christian beliefs are incompatible with “Army values.”
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All along, the nation was told these were a series of isolated incidents, not authorized by military leadership. Now military documents suggest otherwise…..

Let's not forget that  the Defense Department told Catholic priests  they would face possible arrest if they celebrated Mass at any military facility around the world during the shutdown even on a volunteer basis.

DOD took this action because Hagel determined--after consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department--that civilian Catholic priests, working under contract as chaplains, did not, among other things, “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of service personnel.
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At Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the DOD went so far as to lock up the chapel and sequester the Holy Eucharist inside it. -….“The doors to the Kings Bay Chapel were locked on October 4, 2013, with the Holy Eucharist, Holy water, Catholic hymn books, and vessels all locked inside,” said Father Leonard’s lawsuit. “Father Leonard and his parishioners, including Fred Naylor, were prohibited from entering.”

UPDATE:  the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, sent an Army-wide memorandum ordering a halt to all briefings classifying Christian groups as domestic hate groups.

For now, McHugh ordered, Army leaders are “to cease all briefings, command presentations, or training on the subject of extremist organizations and activities, pending promulgation” of a uniform instruction and training program.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2013

Children bought and sold for sex, organs or forced labor. Modern day slavery

Girl smuggled into Britain to have her 'organs harvested'

The first case of a child being trafficked to Britain in order to have their organs harvested has been uncovered.
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The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant…..The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
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According to the World Health Organization as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.  While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.

2.4 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, says UN
The United Nations has called on the international community to strengthen efforts to combat human trafficking,

Yuri Fedotov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said at a special General Assembly meeting on trafficking that 80 per cent of trafficking victims are being exploited as sexual slaves.
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Actress Mira Sorvino, the UN goodwill ambassador against human trafficking, said: "Modern-day slavery is bested only by the illegal drug trade for profitability."

She said: "Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs."
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M. Cherif Bassiouni, an emeritus law professor at DePaul University in Chicago, told the assembly: "There is no human rights subject on which governments have said so much but done so little."

Irish people 'buying' Indian children in rescue effort

IRISH business people are "buying" babies and young girls in order to rescue them from brothels in an infamous Indian red-light district where they are kept in cages and auctioned off for sex to the highest bidder, the Sunday Independent has learnt.
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"Babies only a few months old, right up to young girls aged 11 and older, are kept in tiny dark cages for years on end. The cages are locked from the outside and manned by armed gangsters.

"You have to go down man holes and secret trap doors to get to them. Their spirit is broken and they are sold for sex for as little as €5. Virgins are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"They are taken from families at such a young age that they can't even talk, they have no education, and they don't know the meaning of the word 'escape'. When they are older they are let out to work because the pimps know they have no means of existing on their own.

"They have children who are reared in the brothels too. The mothers are raped while the children lie beside them on the floor, or hide under the bed. Suicide and HIV is a big problem there."

Inside the brutal and hopeless world of Mumbai's trafficked teenage sex slaves
Hazel Thompson has spent 11 years investigating the red light district of India's biggest city. In a new book she gives a voice to girls who were taken from their homes, raped, caged and sold for sex

Suddenly I was face to face with a "box cage". I knew what I was looking at. The prostitutes had told me of the caged rooms and boxes they had been held in for months, even years, when they were first taken and trafficked to the red-light district. The madams would keep the girls like slaves in the cages until they were "broken", to the extent that they would not try to run away. The girls told me they never knew if it was night or day. They were only taken out to eat or to be given to a customer for sex. For years I had wanted to photograph these cages, to prove that these places actually exist.

British photographer Hazel Thompson has published an ebook about the sex trade and trafficking in Mumbai entitled Taken

 Taken Cover

Watch her 10-minute video on Slavery Now and Then

A new report by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation declares that 29.8 million people are living in slavery today.  Max Fisher at the Washington Post reports.

This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership. Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every single one. But the practice is far worse in some countries than others.

The country where you are most likely to be enslaved is Mauritania. Although this vast West African nation has tried three times to outlaw slavery within its borders, it remains so common that it is nearly normal. The report estimates that four percent of Mauritania is enslaved – one out of every 25 people.
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A few trends are immediately clear from the map up top. First, rich, developed countries tend to have by far the lowest rates of slavery. The report says that effective government policies, rule of law, political stability and development levels all make slavery less likely. The vulnerable are less vulnerable, those who would exploit them face higher penalties and greater risk of getting caught. A war, natural disaster or state collapse is less likely to force helpless children or adults into bondage. Another crucial factor in preventing slavery is discrimination. When society treats women, ethnic groups or religious minorities as less valuable or less worthy of protection, they are more likely to become slaves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

October 17, 2013

Camille Paglia on Gender

Camille Paglia is fresh, bracing and badly needed to wake up college students.    Would that she could speak at every college and university

Christine Hoff Sommers was there and reports

Last week I attended a debate at American University between dissident feminist Camille Paglia and AU gender scholar Jane Flax. The topic: “Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?” Flax gave a polite and respectable defense of an exhausted idea: “gender is a social construction.” But Paglia stole the show. She deftly reminded the audience that Mother Nature tends to get the final word—and is not a feminist. I watched the faces of astonished and fascinated undergraduates as Paglia shattered the sacred icons of contemporary gender studies. By the end of the evening, even three sullen hipsters sitting next to me seemed to be won over.

Here is the Full text of her remarks at American University.

Women’s studies programs were rushed into existence in the 1970s partly because of national pressure to add more women to faculties that were often embarrassingly all-male. Administrators diverting funds to these new programs were less concerned with maintaining scholarly rigor than with solving a prickly public relations problem. Hence women’s studies was from the start flash-frozen at that early stage of ideology, which might be described as militant social environmentalism. In my view, biology and endocrinology should have been built as required courses into the curriculum of every women’s studies program in the country

…..No deviation was permitted from the party line, which was that all gender differences are due to patriarchy, with its monolithic enslavement and abuse of women by men.
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Male academics, sensing which way the wind was blowing, were reluctant to challenge the new power structure and shrank back out of fear of being labeled sexist and retrograde. History will not be kind to their timidity and cowardice. There was a kind of contemptuous indifference in it.
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A volatility in gender roles is usually symptomatic of tensions and anxieties about larger issues. That is, sexual identity becomes a primary focus only when other forms of identification and affiliation—religious, national, tribal, familial—break down. Furthermore, while androgyny or transgender fluidity is currently regarded as progressive, such phenomena have at times helped trigger a severe counter-reaction that could last for centuries.
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Our present system of primary and secondary education should be stringently reviewed for its confinement of boys to a prison-like setting that curtails their energy and requires ideological renunciation of male traits. By the time young middle class men emerge from college these days, they have been smoothed and ground down to obedient clones. The elite universities have become police states where an army of deans, sub-deans and faculty committees monitor and sanction male undergraduate speech and behavior if it violates the establishment feminist code. The now routine surveillance of students’ dating lives on American campuses would be unthinkable in Europe.
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there is something fundamentally constant in gender that is based in concrete facts.
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Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany. Like late Rome, America too is an empire distracted by games and leisure pursuits. Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force. I close with this question: is a nation whose elite education is increasingly predicated on the neutralization of gender prepared to defend itself against that growing challenge?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2013

Online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today and as addictive as heroin

Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today: by ex-lads' mag editor Martin Daubney

The moment I knew internet pornography had cast its dark shadow over the lives of millions of ordinary British teenagers will live with me for ever.  I was sitting in the smart drama hall of a specialist sports college in the North of England with a fantastic reputation.  Before me were a group of 20 boys and girls, aged 13-14. Largely white, working class children, they were well turned-out, polite, giggly and shy.

As the presenter of a Channel 4 documentary called Porn On The Brain, airing next Monday at 10pm, I'd been invited to sit in on a forward-thinking class led by sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, who is regularly asked into schools to discuss sex and relationships. To establish what these kids knew about sex - including pornography - he had asked the children to write an A-Z list of the sexual terms they knew, no matter how extreme.

Most of these children had just hit puberty and some were clearly still children: wide-eyed, nervous, with high-pitched voices….These were clearly good children, from good homes. So far, so very, very ordinary.

But when Jonny pinned their lists on the board, it turned out that the children's extensive knowledge of porn terms was not only startling, it superseded that of every adult in the room - including the sex education consultant himself.

Nugget, what's that?' asked Jonny.
'A nugget is a girl who has no arms or legs and has sex in a porno movie,' chortled one young, pimply boy, to an outburst of embarrassed laughter from some, and outright revulsion from others.

The adults in attendance were incredulous at the thought that not only did this kind of porn exist, but that a 14-year-old boy may have actually watched it.

By the end of the hour-long class - and three others that followed with other children - I was profoundly saddened by what I had witnessed. While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what's now considered 'normal' by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.

It seemed as if the children's entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn. The conversation was horrifying enough, yet there was worse to come.

New neurological research reveals that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine.  The New Narcotic

In a statement before Congress, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physicist, and former Fellow in Psychiatry at Yale, cautioned:

"With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus [internet pornography] has become nearly resistance-free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.
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Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD, a practicing neurosurgeon and a clinical associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas, observes:

"Pornography is a visual pheromone, a powerful 100 billion dollar-per-year brain drug that is changing sexuality even more rapidly through the cyber-acceleration of the Internet. It is “inhibiting orientation” and “disrupting pre-mating communication between the sexes by permeating the atmosphere.”

Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed.
Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography."

Dr. Hilton argues that sexual images are “unique among natural rewards” because sexual rewards, unlike food or other natural rewards, cause “persistent change in synaptic plasticity.” In other words, internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:24 PM | Permalink

Anti-bullying programs teach bullies new and better ways to bully and how to get away with it

Anti-bullying programs promote bullying

Everyone knows that bullying is bad. Everyone also knows more and more children are being bullied. The pusillanimous leaders of our educational institutions have failed to take direct, punitive action against bullies. Thus, it continues, unmolested.

You will certainly not be surprised to learn that these same administrators have decided to fight bullying with increased self-awareness and consciousness-raising. They have instituted anti-bullying programs that make bullies feel bad about themselves and tell their victims how best to defend themselves. They seem to believe that empathy will solve the problem.

It’s almost as though they are trying to cure bullying through group therapy.

The result: more bullying. Not only that, more effective bullying.

A criminologist from the University of Texas at Arlington  did a national survey. He was shocked by the results:

University of Texas at Arlington criminologist Seokjin Jeong analyzed data collected from 7,000students from all 50 states.

He thought the results would be predictable and would show that anti-bullying programs curb bullying. Instead — he found the opposite.

Jeong said it was, “A very disappointing and a very surprising thing. Our anti-bullying programs, either intervention or prevention does not work.”

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In anti-bullying videos children are shown different types of bullying—presumably you don’t know you are being bullied until you’ve seen a video—and constructive ways to respond.

The result: the bullies are learning new and better ways to bully.

Amazingly the videos also teach bullies how better to get away with it:
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Consider this: if you show victims how they can respond, sensitively, you are telling the bullies that you, as an adult are not going to protect their victims. You are saying that no adult authority will intervene forcefully to stop the bullying. It's open season for bullies.

The moral of the story: as long as there are no real sanctions against bullies they will continue to do as they do. Appealing to their empathy for their victims just makes things worse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2013

Whatever Happened to Freedom?

For some time I've been puzzling over the fact that liberals no longer value freedom as they once did.  Two articles I read over the weekend began to explain to why.

In his essay  The Anglosphere and the Future of Liberty, Roger Kimball explains some of the unique attributes of the Anglosphere including  the English language itself.

Why is it that English-speaking countries produced Adam Smith and John Locke, David Hume and James Madison, but not Hegel, Marx, or Foucault? “The tongue and the philosophy are not unrelated,” the philologist Robert Claiborne writes in Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English Language (1983). “Both reflect the ingrained Anglo-American distrust of unlimited authority, whether in language or in life.”

Andrew Roberts stresses the element of pragmatic skepticism that speaks English as its native language. “The unimaginative, bourgeois, earth-bound English-speaking peoples,” he writes,

refuse to dream dreams, see visions and follow fanatics and demagogues, from whom they are protected by their liberal constitutions, free press, rationalist philosophy, and representative institutions. They are temperamentally less inclined towards fanaticism, high-flown rhetoric and Bonapartism than many other peoples in history. They respect what is tangible and, in politics at least, suspect what is not.”
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So how did the huge change in core values come about?

To what extent have the epicenters of the Anglosphere—Britain, North America, Australia—abandoned their allegiance to the core values Alan Macfarlane descried in English society three-quarters of a millennium past: individual liberty and its political correlative, limited government? Take Britain. In a melancholy passage, the critic Anthony Daniels writes that

The huge change in British society, from a free and orderly but very unequal society to a highly regulated but disorderly and rather more equal society, came about because the ruling political passions and desiderata, particularly among the ever-more important intelligentsia, changed from freedom and equality before the law to equality of outcome and physical well-being and comfort. If freedom failed to result in the latter, so much the worse for freedom: very few people in Britain now give a fig for it. The loss of their double-glazing would mean more to them than the loss of their right to say what they like.

The second essay by  Joseph Backholm explains Why the Left Abandoned Religious Freedom

When it passed in 1993, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was supported left-leaning Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. President Clinton, who signed it into law, called the bill one of his greatest accomplishments as President. A decade later they are now opposing religious liberty laws they themselves wrote. What changed in the last decade? Joseph Backholm explains how the value system of liberalism has changed:

While a belief in individual rights used to be the hallmark of liberalism, it has since been replaced by a commitment to amorphous concepts like “equality” and ending “discrimination”. While they never define those terms in a way they could be held accountable for, what is obvious is that their pursuit of those values leaves no room for people to disagree. After all, how can we have a tolerant world if people are allowed to do things that are intolerant?
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This begs the question, what exactly has changed since 1993 that makes a formerly uncontroversial proposal suddenly so controversial?  If RFRA was supported by Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, why can’t they support it today?

In 1993, the left still cared about individual rights.
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The new left wants government to officiate all of our interactions to make sure no one “discriminates”.

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So in pursuit of a more tolerant world, they ironically seek to arm government with the power to decide which ideas are acceptable and which are not. That puts them in historically uncomfortable company where typically everyone’s ox is gored.
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In the process of looking for religious freedom protections, we don’t need to convince everyone to see the world like we do. What we are really doing is asking liberals to be liberals again.

UPDATE: Well, this summarizes it:  When the bleeding heart becomes the iron fist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

October 2, 2013

The chart that explains the world

It's called The Lewis Model and explains the national norms of various cultures around the world.

A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided he was qualified to plot the world's cultures on a chart.

He did so while acknowledging the dangers of stereotypes.

"Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception," Lewis wrote. "There is, however, such a thing as a national norm."

Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:

Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.

Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.

Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side's proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.

He says that this categorization of national norms does not change significantly over time:


  The Lewis Model
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2013

Take back August

Whatever Happened to August? by David Shribman

It used to be the perfect peak of idleness, but we've ruined the month with work, school and calendars run amok.

It's the month when the summer nights have a consistent, delicious crispness to them unknown at any other time of the year. It's when the corn is sweet, the plums are purple and pungent, the baseball pennant races are mature, the ocean temperatures are warm. It is the very best month of the year. And we have ruined it.

Not so long ago—well within the memory of half the American population—August was the vacation month. It was a time, much anticipated and much appreciated, of leisure, languor, lassitude and lingering at the beach well into suppertime. Unlike July, it had no holiday disruption, no grocery-store rush, no rituals, no reason to hurry, except maybe to get to the ice-cream stand before closing time, and even that was flexible, depending upon the length of the line. Hardly anyone got married, and no one went to class. Congress barely met, and then it departed for most of the month, a great relief to them and an even bigger one for the nation. It was an idyll of idleness, a time of pure ease—and now it's gone.

We've made August a horror of back-to-school and blinding activity, a time when offices are open late and summer camps close early.
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August is America at its best. Let's take it back.

Hear, hear.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2013

Hollywood and Hitler

 Hitler At The Movies

How Hollywood bowed to the wishes of Hitler: 1930s studio bosses censored and dropped films at the requests of Nazis - and one MGM exec even agreed to divorce his Jewish wife

A Harvard film scholar has revealed in terrifying detail how Hollywood was at the whim of the Nazis throughout the 1930s - censoring films and dropping others in a sinister collaboration with Hitler.

In one particularly extreme case, one non-Jewish MGM executive divorced his Jewish wife at the demand of Germany's Propaganda Ministry - and she ended up in a concentration camp

In his new book, Ben Urwand has revealed how studios including MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox failed to stand up to Hitler and painted his regime as heroic and desirable.

'I want to bring out a hidden episode in Hollywood history and an episode that has not been reported accurately,' the Harvard scholar said.

Although other film historians dispute it, Urwand said studio chiefs were happy to work with Nazi censors to change or cancel productions so that they could keep access to the German film market.  From 1932, Nazi laws meant studios could have their licenses revoked if they produced films, shown in Germany or abroad, that were considered offensive to Germans.  Urwand believes that filmmakers not only wanted to continue working during the build up to the war, they also thought Hitler may win the war and wanted to safeguard the future of their businesses.

In his book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler, which has been excerpted in the Hollywood Reporter, in Urwand said that Hollywood was happy to bow to Hitler's demands.

For example, when All Quiet on the Western Front was released in December 1930, Joseph Goebbels told protesters to set off stink bombs and release mice in the movie theaters.  It caused such disruptions throughout theaters that the films were stopped and it was eventually banned from the country, due to how Germans felt they had been depicted.
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In the mid-1930s, relationships between studios and prominent Nazis grew and Paramount hired a manager for its German branch, Paul Thiefes, who was a member of the Nazi party.  It was at the time that the head of MGM in Germany, Frits Strengholt, divorced his Jewish wife at the request of the Propaganda Ministry.
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They paid attention to workers too; German composers dubbed music originally created by Jewish musicians, while names were slashed from credits if they had dealt with anti-Nazi films in the past.

Bill Donovan of the Catholic League comments in Hollywood and Hitler

Standing against the Hollywood moguls, Urwand says, was Joseph Breen, the Irish Catholic official who worked for, and eventually succeeded, Will Hays of the so-called Hays Office; the private association monitored Hollywood movies for objectionable fare. Looks like Breen’s commitment to decency trumped Hollywood’s commitment to cash.  Breen was not a fan of the way Hollywood conducted itself, but he did not balk when asked by the two authors of the Hays Code, Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Father Daniel Lord, to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism in 1939.
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When the Catholic League merely criticizes a movie, we are tagged a censor. When Hollywood studio chiefs cooperate with Chinese government agents by altering their films, they find ways to congratulate themselves. For example, Steven Soderbergh welcomes the input of Communist censors: “It’s fascinating to listen to people’s interpretation of your story.” He must have learned his obsequiousness from those who collaborated with Hitler.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

Oprah says millions of people were lynched

In an interview in Parade magazine, Oprah Winfrey decries Americans' Ignorance on civil rights and laments the 'millions' of blacks lynched.   

How embarrassing for her that

Historians at the Tuskegee Institute estimate that approximately 3,446 African-Americans were lynched from 1882-1968.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

"It's better to hold the door for a woman than to let it slam in her face."

There may be a chance now that it's being touted in the New York Times which has discovered, Chivalry Is a Virtue We Should All Aspire To  by Emily Esfahani Smith.

Ordinary people are seeing that chivalry contributes to healthy relationships. A recent study in the academic journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that chivalry is associated with greater life satisfaction among men and women. An initiative called the Gentlemen’s Showcase, led by college women on campuses across the country for the past few years, rewards young men for helping out others in need. And perhaps most important, a major study of more than 10,000 people from around the world — one of the largest studies of its kind — found that the No. 1 attribute that both young men and women seek in a mate is not money or beauty or intelligence, but kindness, which lies at the heart of the chivalrous act.
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Being good — being noble — is also at the heart of chivalry. As a society, we can agree that certain types of behavior are better than others. It is, for instance, better to hold the door open for a woman than to let it slam in her face; it is better to give up your seat to someone in need rather than let that person stand in your stead; it is better to forgo a late-night cab when a stranger with young kids needs it more.

Chivalry is, as Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield might say, a manly virtue, but that does not mean that women cannot be chivalrous too. The essence of chivalry is self-sacrifice. Whether or not we name that selflessness chivalry, the compassion that stands behind it is something we should celebrate.

 Live With Chivalry

Glenn Reynolds comments "Chivalry was a system, and one that made demands on women every bit as much as on men." 

One commenter said, "Women were expected to behave in a chaste manner and be loyal to their husbands and supportive (in the traditional woman's role sense) of the warriors who were sacrificing for them."

Reynolds replied, "Precisely. It was a system involving mutual obligations; with one set deemed obsolete, it's absurd to expect the other set to continue as before."

I looked up the first reference in the article in the Psychology of Women Quarterly where chivalry is described as "benevolent sexism", Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing? Associations With System Justification and Life Satisfaction.    The authors make this astonishing conclusion:

Our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.

The major study referred to in the article, published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1989  is entitled  Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures by David M. Buss Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, but I had to search through almost impenetrable language for what is indeed  the most important conclusion which was almost an aside in the main text and discussed no further.

Both sexes rated the characteristics 'kind-understanding' and 'intelligent'  higher than earning power and attractiveness in all samples, suggesting the species-typical preferences may be more potent than sex-linked preferences.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

"Christianity, bad; Islam, good."

Michael Barone Obama administration: Some religions are more equal than others

The Obama administration “strongly objects” to a proposed House amendment to the defense authorization bill which would require, in the words of its sponsor, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., “the Armed Forces to accommodate ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the member...

Fleming points to evidence that Christian service members and chaplains are being penalized for expressing their faith. Examples:

•  The Air Force censored a video created by a chaplain because it include the word “God.” The Air Force feared the word might offend Muslims and atheists.
A service member received a “severe and possibly career-ending reprimand” for expressing his faith’s religious position about homosexuality in a personal religious blog.

A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email officially instructing officers to recognize “the religious right in America” as a “domestic hate group” akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.

• A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because, consistent with DOMA’s definition of marriage, he could not allow same-sex weddings to take place in the chapel.
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There’s a tension between this policy–arguably suppressing expressions of Christian faith–with the White House’s assurance, according to Investor’s Business Daily, that FBI surveillance not including any investigation of mosques.

So, it appears, Christian religious expression must be suppressed, while Muslim religious expression cannot even be monitored. … But it sure looks like a double standard to me: Christianity, bad; Islam, good. I seem to remember, from some ancient reading, the phrase, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2013

Unspeakable connections to the world of jihad

Andrew McCarthy lays out the more disturbing side of Huma Abedin Weiner in Huma's Unmentionables, "the elephant in the room goes unnoticed, or at least studiously unmentioned"  While she was Hillary Clinton's aide, the State Department became remarkably cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ms. Abedin’s connections to prominent Islamic-supremacist figures and groups are deemed unsuitable for public discussion – Egyptians may be able to eject the Muslim Brotherhood, but in today’s Washington it is raising questions about the Muslim Brotherhood that gets you run out of town.
Diana West asks Why Won't the Media Cover Huma Abedin's Ties to the Global Jihad Movement?
It is not enough to analyze Huma Abedin as a "political wife." Abedin is also a veritable Muslim Brotherhood princess. As such, the ideological implications of her actions -- plus her long and privileged access to US policy-making through Hillary Clinton -- must be considered, particularly in the context of national security.

But talk about paradoxes. In an era when the most minute and lurid descriptions of her husband's anatomical and sexual details are common talk, Huma Abedin's familial and professional connections to the world of jihad are unspeakable.

IBD Under Sequester, U.S. Giving Islamists $500 Million

Circumventing Congress and with no fanfare, President Obama last week issued an executive order enabling him to send an additional $500 million directly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — much of which you can bet will wind up going to the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization.

According to Obama, "it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions of" Congress' legislative restrictions "in order to provide funds . .. to the Palestinian Authority."

At the beginning of his first term, Obama promised close to $1 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledging none of it would reach Hamas.

But there's not enough money to open the White House to tourists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2013

More on Detroit

Michael Barone When people ask me why I moved from liberal to conservative, I have a one-word answer: Detroit.

Daniel Hannan in London Statism is turning America into Detroit

The Observer, naturally, quotes a native complaining that ‘capitalism has failed us,’ but capitalism is the one thing the place desperately needs. Detroit has been under Leftist administrations for half a century. It has spent too much and borrowed too much, driving away business and becoming a tool of the government unions.

Of Detroit’s $11 billion debt, $9 billion is accounted for by public sector salaries and pensions. Under the mountain of accumulated obligations, the money going into, say, the emergency services is not providing services but pensions. Result? It takes the police an hour to respond to a 911 call and two thirds of ambulances can’t be driven. This is a failure, not of the private sector, but of the state.

He quotes Mark Steyn on the Downfall of Detroit

Like Detroit, America has unfunded liabilities, to the tune of $220 trillion, according to the economist Laurence Kotlikoff. Like Detroit, it’s cosseting the government class and expanding the dependency class, to the point where its bipartisan “immigration reform” actively recruits 50–60 million low-skilled chain migrants. Like Detroit, America’s governing institutions are increasingly the corrupt enforcers of a one-party state — the IRS and Eric Holder’s amusingly misnamed Department of Justice being only the most obvious examples. Like Detroit, America is bifurcating into the class of “community organizers” and the unfortunate denizens of the communities so organized.

Charles Krauthammer responds to leftist who claim GOP policies led to Detroit's ruin

Detroit is not really an example of the failure of GOP economic policy. It’s been run by the Democrats for 60 years, and you can cite all the studies about how bad austerity is, all you have to do is look at Detroit and you get an idea of how bad the absence of austerity is, it’s a city in ruin,”

Tyler Burden at ZeroHedge has compiled  25 Facts About The Fall Of Detroit That Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.

16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.

17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.

19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.

20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2013

"Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family"

Rhetoric, race and reality in America  The biggest threat to black youths is other young blacks, not white bigots.

During the week since the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the responses to the tragic event, the trial and the verdict have been predictable.
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What isn't reasonable or appropriate is the hysterical response of some civil rights leaders and advocates who have peddled a dishonest and hyperbolic analysis of the tragedy. Unfortunately, their message has been repeated ad nauseam and has become the settled wisdom for some: Young black males are at physical risk in this country, and it is the bigotry of whites that has put a target on their backs.
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What is so insidious about this message of victimhood and division is its dishonesty. Despite the tragic death of Martin under circumstances that no one will ever know the true nature of, there is no "big business" of killing blacks in America. There is no wave of bigotry directed at blacks. All this talk is demagogic posturing, and it's dangerous…..

These leaders know, even if many of their adherents might not, that the biggest threat to the lives of young blacks is other young blacks, not white bigots. Between 2000 and 2010, 4,607 black murder victims 17 or younger were killed by other blacks (4,441 of the killers were 17 or younger), according to the Wall Street Journal. There were 340 black victims 17 or younger killed by (non-Latino) whites. That means black youths were 13 times more likely to be killed by a black person than by a white one.

The more recent data haven't changed much. In 2011, according to the FBI, 2,695 blacks (of all ages) were killed, and the killers were nearly 13 times more likely to be black as white (2,447 to 193).
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It is clear that the Sharptons and Jacksons have a vested interest in keeping tension alive. Their relevance, audiences and fundraising are contingent on there being a perception that racial barriers remain, that fears persist and that their role as firemen is needed. The biggest threats to their continued viability is tolerance and an acknowledgment that inter-group relations are improving, that there is no war on black youth and that the country that elected Barack Obama to the presidency twice isn't demonizing kids who look like the first family.

Shelby Steele, The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment    Black leaders weren't so much outraged at injustice as they were by the disregard of their own authority.

Today's black leadership pretty much lives off the fumes of moral authority that linger from its glory days in the 1950s and '60s. The Zimmerman verdict lets us see this and feel a little embarrassed for them. Consider the pathos of a leadership that once transformed the nation now lusting for the conviction of the contrite and mortified George Zimmerman, as if a stint in prison for him would somehow assure more peace and security for black teenagers.
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One wants to scream at all those outraged at the Zimmerman verdict: Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family? Today's civil-rights leaders swat at mosquitoes like Zimmerman when they have gorillas on their back. Seventy-three percent of all black children are born without fathers married to their mothers. And you want to bring the nation to a standstill over George Zimmerman?

There are vast career opportunities, money and political power to be gleaned from the specter of Mr. Zimmerman as a racial profiler/murderer; but there is only hard and selfless work to be done in tackling an illegitimacy rate that threatens to consign blacks to something like permanent inferiority. If there is anything good to be drawn from the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy, it is only the further revelation of the corruption and irrelevance of today's civil-rights leadership.

 Shelbysteele (125X140)  Shelby Steele is the author of A Dream Deferred in which he argues

that blacks have been twice betrayed: first by being oppressed by slavery and segregation, second by government-mandated group preferences that rob blacks of their self-esteem. Such programs he sees as rooted more in white guilt than in a desire to help blacks become more competitive in our society. He points out that blacks relying on their own initiative have managed to excel in music, sports and literature. On the other hand, he sees programs of affirmative action, set-asides, group preferences or welfare payments as the product of white assumptions of black inferiority. Steele's solution to problems such as inner-city joblessness, teenage pregnancy and high crime rates is devotion among blacks to principles of personal accountability, hard work, delayed gratification and other forms of individual effort.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2013

Why the Rise of Zombies in Our Culture

Spengler on The Zombie Apocalypse

Sometime in 2011 the total number of film plots with the keyword “zombie” passed the number of film plots with the keyword “cowboy,” according to the Internet Movie Database. One might argue that the zombie has become the great American archetype of the postmodern era, as the cowboy was the American archetype a century ago. With the release of Brad Pitt’s $200 million zombie epic World War Z, what used to be the stuff of low-budget shockers has entered the American cultural mainstream. Therein lies a lesson.

“The history of the world is the history of humankind’s search for immortality,” I argued in my 2011 book Why Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too). Human beings can’t tolerate life without the hope of some existence beyond our brief mortal span of years. Cultures that know they have made it past their best-used-by date tend to die for lack of interest.
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Dying cultures are the living dead. Half of the world’s 6,000 languages will disappear by the end of this century. They are zombie cultures. But we Americans are gestating a zombie culture inside what used to be a “country with the soul of a church,” as G.K. Chesterton put it. The hedonistic narcissism that took over popular culture during the 1960s produced a spiritual deadening like nothing in American history. That’s why we are so fascinated with zombies. We identify with them.
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We think of ourselves as rational folk. And yet we find almost 10 million pairs of eyes glued to the television screen each week when a new episode airs of “The Walking Dead,” enthralled by the same images, but in reverse: the walking dead in place of the dead awaiting resurrection, animated corpses instead of wholesome priests or uncorrupted saints, a terrified band of survivors huddled against encroaching death instead of the happy procession of God’s people to the source of eternal life.

Father Barron on the hand liked World War Z..  Brad Pitt's Story of Salvation

First, it was a competently made thriller and not simply a stringing together of whiz-bang CGI effects. Secondly, it presented a positive image of a father. In a time when Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are the norm for fatherhood in the popular culture, Brad Pitt's character, Gerry Lane, is actually a man of intelligence, deep compassion, and self-sacrificing courage.

But what intrigued me the most about World War Z is how it provides a template for thinking seriously about sin and salvation.
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But if it [sin] is more like a disease, then sin can be fully addressed only through the intervention of some medicine or antidote that comes from the outside. Moreover, if sin were just a bad habit, then it wouldn't reach very deeply into the structure of the self; but were it more like a contagion, it would insinuate itself into all the interrelated systems that make up the person. The fathers of Trent specify that sin causes a falling-apart of the self, a disintegration of mind, will, emotions, and the body, so that the sinner consistently operates at cross-purposes to himself.

Do you see now why the zombie -- a human being so compromised by the effects of a contagion that he is really only a simulacrum of a human -- is such an apt symbol for a person under the influence of sin?

Richard Fernandez The Rediscovery of Monsters

Dylan Charles says zombies are what we have instead of Homer. “Myth and metaphor play an important role in constructing our culture and creating purpose in our lives. They are tools that help the subconscious mind to digest the happenings of a world that is too complex for our five senses alone. … When we hear tales of Homer and his Odyssey we also receive cues we need to uncover the strength and perseverance required to face personal challenges.”

Today these challenges are mostly posed by ourselves. Charles enumerates them: nearly Unconscious Plebs on the Loose, an army of nearly undead pharmaceutical users, media hypnotized automatons, violence as the solution for everything and every man for himself. These are what we mean by ‘zombies’. In that sense we’re in World War Z already and have been for a long time. And no, the smooth flow of mental traffic will not return momentarily.

The Atlantic Wire, writing in a much more sober vein, says: “The zombie apocalypse has emerged as the metaphor of the decade for all sorts of things, from emergency preparedness to estate planning, and for good reason: It’s a catch-all for the end of humanity and an uninhabitable world, with none of the political ramifications of real scenarios like terrorism or global warming.”
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It sounds like a survivalism that has gone mainstream. But more importantly it suggests  the authorities and even Hollywood secretly agree with the Tea Partiers: yes we do have a reason to worry. Yes there is a crisis. And Zombies and Kaiju are our way of sending you this subliminal signal even if on the talk shows we’ll tell you that the sun is shining, the birds are singing, employment has never been so good and traffic will return to normal in a few hours
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2013

The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks To Solve Modern Day Problems

Who knew that cognitive behavioral therapy was based on the philosophy of the Greek Stoic Epictetus?

Anxious? Depressed? Try Greek philosophy
Crippled by social anxiety and burnt out after a decade of hedonism, Jules Evans eventually found inspiration from the ancient Greeks. Here he tells how 2,000-year-old words of wisdom transformed his life and equipped him to help others solve their modern-day problems.

Growing up in the Nineties, my friends and I were amateur neuroscientists. Every weekend, we conducted experiments on our brains with various chemicals, to see what happened: marijuana, LSD, MDMA, amphetamine, mushrooms, all tossed into our system like ingredients in a cauldron. We had some hilarious, beautiful, even spiritual times. Then I noticed my friends beginning to burn out.

My best friend had a psychotic breakdown when he was 16. He’s been in and out of mental care homes ever since (he’s now 35, like me). Other friends developed paranoia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. In my first year at university, I started to get panic attacks, too. My body would be filled with mortal terror, in the most un-mortal of situations. I lost confidence in my ability to know myself or to steer a coherent course through life. I started to distrust myself, to avoid social situations. I was terrified that I had permanently damaged myself before the age of 21.
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I investigated these disorders on the internet, and found they could apparently be treated by something called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT….. I also found there was a CBT support group for people suffering from social anxiety … For 10 weeks, we listened to the course, practised the exercises, and did the “homework”. And for me, it worked. The panic attacks stopped after a few weeks, and I gradually got back my confidence in my ability to steer a course through life. I steered a course to Russia, where I worked as a foreign correspondent for four fun, vodka-soaked years.

When I came back to the UK in 2007, I decided to research CBT. I went to New York to interview the psychologist who’d invented it, Albert Ellis, and asked him where he’d got the idea for it. He told me he’d been directly inspired by ancient Greek philosophy, particularly by a line from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus: “Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinion about events.”

 Epictetus

Ellis, like the Greeks, suggested that our emotions always involve beliefs or interpretations of the world. Our interpretations may often be inaccurate, irrational or self-destructive, and this will make us emotionally sick.
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The Stoics were aware of how little we control in life. None more so than Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher of the first century AD, who grew up a slave in the Roman Empire (his name means “acquired”). He divided all of life into two categories: the things we control and the things we don’t. We don’t control the economy, the weather, other people, our reputation, our own bodies. We can influence these things, but we don’t have complete control over them. The only thing we do have control over is our own thoughts and beliefs, if we choose to exercise control.
Epictetus suggested that emotional problems arise when we try to exert complete control over something external. When I had social anxiety, for example, I rested all my self-esteem on others’ judgments of me. This made me feel very helpless, anxious and paranoid.
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The good news is that we can change our habits. Epictetus said “there is nothing more malleable than the psyche”, and contemporary neuroscience agrees. Every day, we have a choice to either reinforce a habit, or challenge it. The Greeks understood the importance of habits to the good life – their word “ethics” comes from “ethos”, meaning habit – and they developed some great techniques for habit-formation.
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Today, CBT is available free on the NHS. It has brought some of the Greeks’ ideas to millions of people. Many people have used it to learn to “take care of their souls”, as Socrates put it – which is where the word “psychotherapy” comes from. I hope some of them might go back to the original source in philosophy, because CBT leaves a lot out – Greek philosophy wasn’t just a feel-good therapy, it was also a road map for the good life, and the good society.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

Science, Fate and Free Will

Brendan O'Neill Standing up to the white-coated gods of fortune  Science has replaced Fortuna in fancying itself as the revealer of men's fates.

We use and abuse neuroscience to claim certain people are ‘born this way’. We claim evolutionary psychology explains why people behave and think the way they do. We use phrases like ‘weather of mass destruction’, in place of ‘gods’, to push the idea that mankind is a little thing battered by awesome, destiny-determining forces. Fate has been brought back from the dead and she’s been dolled up in pseudoscientific rags.

The intellectual challenge to the idea of fate was one of the most significant things about the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. There had always been an inkling of a belief within mankind that it was possible for individuals to at least influence their destiny, if not actually shape it. The Romans, for example, believed Fortuna would be kinder to brave, virtuous men. If you did good and took risks you had a better chance of being smiled upon by Fortuna. ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ But it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the idea that men could make their own fortunes really took hold. It’s then we see the emergence of the belief that by exercising his free will, a man can become master of his fate.
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But the new determinism isn’t religious or supernatural, as it was in the pre-Enlightened era - it’s scientific determinism, or rather pseudo-scientific determinism.

There’s neuro-determinism, the idea that we’re fundamentally products of the accidental shape or chemical liveliness of our brains. Everything from our criminal instincts to our musical giftedness to our political orientation is now said to have been bestowed on us by the grey matter in our heads. A recent study on the ‘neurobiology of politics’ claimed that whether a person becomes a liberal or a conservative depends on his ‘brain circuits’, particularly the circuits that deal with conflict. So now, we can’t even choose our political outlook, apparently; we’re not even in control of our voting destinies.

Then there’s evolutionary determinism - the idea that we’re compelled by what one author calls our ‘evolutionary wiring’.
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These modern determinisms are far worse than the old pre-modern belief in fate. At least ancient communities, like the Romans, believed that by being brave and virtuous an individual could offset the harshest judgements of the gods of fortune. The new determinism offers no such scope for the exercise of bravery or autonomy. Instead it demands that we be meek and apologetic in the face of awesome powers like angry nature. It demands that we accept that tiny cliques of experts – whether brain-scanners, parenting gurus or climatologists – are the only ones who can reveal to us our fate and advise us on how to prepare for its inevitable playing out. It tells us we’re not really the subjects of history, but the objects of history, tossed about by this and that powerful force.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Shocking news from France

French restaurants acknowledge serving factory-frozen food

In a survey conducted for the National Union of Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe Operators, a third of French restaurants acknowledged serving such factory-frozen products to clients. Restaurant owners estimated that the real number is substantially higher, as many chefs were embarrassed to admit the short cuts that, in effect, hoodwink their customers.

Aside from the element of fraud, serving factory-prepared dishes, chefs pointed out, amounts to betraying the national heritage of fine eating and undermining one of the main reasons that France is the world’s top tourist destination. After all, they recalled, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared the classic French meal part of the world patrimony.

At Had Enough Therapy? Stuart Schneiderman explores The French Malaise

Approximately, 33% of France’s best educated young people are leaving their native land in search of fame, fortune, and most especially, unemployment elsewhere.
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It happens that a sclerotic French economy has nothing to offer France’s young:

… a country that has tolerated a youth unemployment rate of 25 percent for nearly 30 years isn’t a place where the rising generations can expect to rise to much of anything.
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Dowd offers an historical perspective that deserves serious attention. After World War II, France was counted among the Allies, but in fact most of the country was occupied by Nazis during the war. Many French citizens actively collaborated with the Nazi regime.

The dissonance meant that the French were never quite sure whether they had won or lost. This produced a feeling of dislocation and disconnection, a sense of not knowing where the nation belonged. I would call it a pervasive anomie.
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Often, a nation or a community suffering from anomie will turn to psychoanalysis. ….Psychoanalysis seemed to offer a way to understand France’s problems. And, to some extent it did. Unfortunately, it did not offer a solution. It could only offer another way to get in closer touch with one’s anomie.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2013

"Wow, it's a really different conversation when you're talking with someone and listening to them"

"Wow, it's a really different conversation when you're talking with someone and listening to them"  -Students at Hofstra University

The New Illiteracy

There is some evidence that young people are even starting to lose the ability to accurately read facial expressions and tone of voice in their fellow man because they primarily relate through screens and texting than through interpersonal communication.  This shouldn't be too shocking, you've probably seen groups of young people all face down in their own device and shut off from speech by ear buds.  They might be communicating with each other, but smiley faces and so on only work in text.  It takes a different skill set to learn, display, and read facial expressions and tone of voice.
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It isn't that technology is all bad, its that our use of it tends to find the most comfortable, immediately rewarding, personally beneficial, and selfish results.  And in this case, its causing serious problems with the basic ability of humanity to communicate.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:04 PM | Permalink

July 8, 2013

Zealotry in the Government

zealotry: fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of religious, political or other ideals.

The HHS Mandate Fraud Exposed James C. Capretta Obama’s phony “accommodation” on contraception.

The administration’s final rule on the subject exposes the fraudulence of the entire “accommodation” exercise. In response to the concerns expressed by insurers, the rule drops the fig leaf of a separately issued insurance plan and instead simply requires insurers and third-party administrators to provide the items and products covered by the mandate for free to workers and their families, even if a religious employer elects to exclude those products and services from the insurance contract.  In other words, these products and services are covered in every insurance plan sponsored by employers (with the exception of a narrowly drawn list of churches and houses of worship), whether or not it says so in the insurance contract. Amazingly, the administration asserts that this is an “accommodation” to take seriously.
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As usual, the administration issued this rule when it hoped to generate the least media attention, on a Friday before a congressional recess. The irony — undoubtedly lost on the administration — is that this recess is devoted to the nation’s birth, which was motivated heavily by the pursuit of genuine religious toleration.

The fight is not over, and can still be won. Those opposed to the mandate are exercising their constitutional rights and are suing the administration. And there’s reason to believe the courts will ultimately defend and honor the religious-liberty traditions of this country in a way the administration would not.

Moreover, this issue can and should be contested in the political arena. There is no public-policy rationale for the HHS mandate, because the products and services covered by it are already widely and readily available, and heavily subsidized by the government for those with low incomes. The administration is imposing this requirement for entirely ideological reasons.


In Spiked, Gay marriage's echoes of the Cultural Revolution by Sean Collins.

The campaign for gay marriage in the US is starting to resemble the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China. Politicians denouncing their own prior beliefs, people hounding others to recant, the young being upheld as morally superior to the ‘backward’ older generation… it all feels worryingly familiar.

According to the new orthodoxy, we will not have a gay-marriage debate, because you don’t argue with bigotry and homophobia. The most prominent supporters of same-sex marriage (SSM) in the US today - establishment voices from the New York Times to Democratic Party politicians - do not engage with views from the other side; they dismiss them as hateful. Pro-SSM campaigners are trying to make expressions of support for traditional marriage, or the questioning of full marriage rights for gays, appear as beyond the pale as Jim Crow and Holocaust denial.

With its decisions last week, the US Supreme Court added its considerable weight to the movement to silence those who uphold the historical understanding of marriage. In striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court’s 5-4 majority divined that the only motive for the act was a ‘bare… desire to harm a politically unpopular group’. In other words, in passing this act Congress was driven by irrational hostility to gays, nothing more.

In addition to quashing dissent, what makes the gay-marriage campaign a dark kind of Cultural Revolution is its white-washing and distortion of history. SSM advocates face an obstacle in their attempt to make ‘traditional marriage equals bigotry’ an unquestioned dogma: it flies in the face of the historical record and experience. It was not so long ago that many reasonable people espoused a conventional view of marriage, and in no way could they be said to be animated by hatred towards gays. And so today’s gay-marriage campaigners are forced, like Maoists of the past, to rewrite history to have it conform with today’s new party line.

The Anchoress, Antonin Scalia, Bad Person

Scalia spends part of his Windsor dissent arguing in defense of what used to be considered a most “liberal” notion: that human beings have a right to express their point of view without fear of reprisal; a right to dissent from conventional wisdom; a right, even, to be wrong. It is a sentiment that free-thinkers (of even the recent past) would often express by quoting Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s summary of Voltaire’s thinking: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Kennedy’s opinion makes it clear that the days of defending the freedom of others to think and speak outside of the ever-narrowing corridors of what is permissible are numbered; the line of delineation he sketches out is stark, bare, and singular: there will be one (correct) thought or there will be Bad People.

What an illiberal notion!

From Scalia's dissent in Windsor 

The majority concludes that the only motive for this Act was the “bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” … Bear in mind that the object of this condemnation is not the legislature of some once-Confederate Southern state, but our respected coordinate branches, the Congress and Presidency of the United States. Laying such a charge against them should require the most extraordinary evidence….. 
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In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. [It is to] “dis-parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it...enemies of the human race. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:31 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2013

Who's Racist Today

Best of the Web's James Taranto, Who's the Most 'Racist'?

When Rasmussen Reports asked some of its polling subjects to conduct an odd exercise in racial stereotyping, the results were counterintuitive, or at least counterstereotypical:

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of American Adults think most black Americans are racist, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 15% consider most white Americans racist, while 18% say the same of most Hispanic Americans.
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Among black Americans, 31% think most blacks are racist, while 24% consider most whites racist and 15% view most Hispanics that way….And blacks are 3 points less likely than liberals to think most whites are racist.

All of which suggests that the people likeliest to believe most whites are racist and most blacks are not are those who are both liberal and white. Which reinforces a point we've made often in this column: that a lot of what drives the futile debate over race in America is white liberals' psychological need to feel morally superior to other whites.

Saxophone player attacked in the street by three black women 'who said a white girl shouldn't play an old jazz song'

Cassandra Struve, 26, was performing in the street outside the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin around 11pm on June 26 when the three women approached her.  'I was playing Minnie the Moocher, classic Blues Brothers song,' Struve told WITI. 'A lady with a child in her hand came up to me, smacked me in my face and said, "Don’t play that".'

They added that a white girl could not play the song, she said. After she was hit, she said she was 'instantly upset' and broke down in tears. As a reaction, she pushed the woman who had hit her away, but was then punched twice in the side of the face by a second woman, she said.

'As they walked away, they were saying" white saxophone playing B word",' said Struve. 'I was upset and crying instantly because I knew that when she hit me, she hit me with only racial hate.'

Just Don't Hire the White Guy

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina commissioner Kim Ratliff, the board’s vice chair, told a local television station in Charlotte that when it comes to replacing the current manager (a black man), it can be a “black female or a Hispanic female or a Hispanic male”—“just someone who is not a white male.”

In Minding the Campus, Diversity After Fisher

Anyone living in the real world knows that those admissions policies are nothing but racial balancing schemes. The coral reef of "diversity" happens to be where, under force of legal circumstances, they are forced to play out this game, but achieving a vibrant intellectual community on campus in which diverse ideas are welcome is the last thing on the minds of campus administrators.  If they were concerned about actual viewpoint diversity, we would have campuses in which conservative ideas are robustly represented, where gay marriage is debated and not just acclaimed, where doubts about racial preferences themselves could be openly expressed, where those who have reservations about the current "climate change" models could present their case, etc.

Higher education is cemented into orthodoxies of its own devising that leave students ill-prepared for the actual diversity of views in the larger society. These orthodoxies are pernicious in a number of ways, but let's stick with just one of them:  they breed in students contempt for those who depart from the "consensus" on any given topic.  The ideals of open-mindedness and tolerance are reduced to merely slogans.
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Americans overwhelmingly hate the preference regime that our colleges and courts have created. When the public gets a chance to vote on the matter, it typically gives an emphatic "NO!" to preferences.  Even preference supporters these days often pivot to class-based rather than race-based preferences. The louder the higher education establishment asserts that "DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION REMAINS AN ESSENTIAL NATIONAL PRIORITY," the more we should wonder "Why?"  Asking that simple question will go a long way towards ending the preference regime.

Investors Business Daily.  While Supremes Downplay Race, Obama Mandates It in Decision-Making

His race-obsessed administration is bringing racial preferences and affirmative action back with a vengeance.And it's doing so outside the legislative process, largely behind the scenes, through executive orders, regulations and prosecutions, effectively expanding existing civil-rights law.
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To boost minority hiring, the EEOC recently warned employers they could be considered guilty of "race discrimination if they choose law-abiding applicants over applicants with criminal convictions." The predictable result: hiring quotas for felons.
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The agency also advised that all FDIC-insured banks must develop and implement an "affirmative action program" for hiring.
The administration, moreover, has adopted an interagency "Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending" that makes it "permissible" (and strongly advisable) for banks to apply more favorable lending terms for minority borrowers "to address past discrimination."
It has also formalized the use of a lower standard of proof — "disparate impact" liability — for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in housing and lending.
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For the first time, disparate impact is woven through all civil-rights enforcement of the federal government.
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The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.  Yet this president is injecting race into just about every decision made in our merit-based society.

Most depressing read of the day.  Before It's Deleted, Essay by a teacher in a black high school

Once I asked my students, “What do you think of the Constitution?” “It white,” one slouching black rang out. The class began to laugh. And I caught myself laughing along with them, laughing while Pompeii’s volcano simmers, while the barbarians swell around the Palatine, while the country I love, and the job I love, and the community I love become dimmer by the day.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:39 PM | Permalink

Getting in on the spying game

White House collecting personal financial records of 5 million Americans without warrants or due process

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealing that the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with "additional government entities."
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The panel shall include 5 million consumers, and joint borrowers, co-signers, and authorized users [emphasis added]. The initial panel shall contain 10 years of historical data on a quarterly basis [emphasis added]…

The CFPB data collection program has been highly controversial since the April 2013 hearing, when Cordray disclosed elements of the venture at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. At the time, the US Chamber of Commerce accused the CFPB of breaking the law by demanding the account-level data without a warrant or National Security Letter.

Motorola Is Listening  Ben Lincoln

In June of 2013, I made an interesting discovery about the Android phone (a Motorola Droid X2) which I was using at the time: it was silently sending a considerable amount of sensitive information to Motorola, and to compound the problem, a great deal of it was over an unencrypted HTTP channel.

Now TWITTER wants to start tracking you on the web

Twitter has announced it plans to start tracking users and the websites they visit.
The site plans to use browser cookies - small files that are placed on people's computers each time they visit a web page  - to track online movements.
Advertising partners will then be able to target customers by either anonymously matching email addresses of users, or by using the cookies collected, to serve more personalised adverts.

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The Twitter tracking will be turned on by default, but users will be able to opt out.
It site also said that users who have the Do Not Track (DNT) feature enabled on their browsers will not be affected by the plans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2013

Amazing old photos for the 4th of July

 Oldtime Firecracker Boy
18 Vintage Photos of People Celebrating Independence Day

Popular photography began in the early 1840s, just in time to capture the images of old men who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

Faces of the American revolution: Amazing early photographs of the heroes of the War for Independence in their later years

 Images Men In Revolutionary War

The majority have been compiled by Utah-based journalist Joe Baumam, who spent three decades researching and compiling the images.
Digging through a myriad of sources - 18th and 19th century battle accounts, muster rolls, genealogical records, pension files, letters, period newspapers, town and county histories - he was able to flesh out the stories of these veterans.

Bauman found and bought eight daguerreotypes, plus five paper prints from the era - considered the largest known collection of Revolutionary War veteran daguerreotypes to date.  The men included a shoemaker, two ministers, a doctor who later managed a vast mercantile empire, a tavern-keeper, a settler of the Ohio frontier, a blacksmith and the captain of a coastal vessel.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 PM | Permalink

Still revolutionary

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,……

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes….

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-…

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…..

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good...

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance….

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice….

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance…..

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:….

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:….

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2013

Growing trend of baby-hating

At special session of the Texas state legislature. Pro-abortion protestors chant 'Hail, Satan' to drown out pro-life protestors singing Amazing Grace. 

The Anchoress comments

“Amazing Grace” is a psycho-spiritual weapon. When it is deployed, people cannot be shocked at what weapons others will use in response.

The Anchoress writes, "Simcha Fisher speaks truth" ( in The Earth is a Nursery )    "Only Bad Guys Hate Babies"  Succinct.  To the point. 

increasingly people feel entitled to publicly demonstrate their hatreds, not just for people who think differently (“enemies of the human race!”), or on political issues (“I hope your daughter gets raped!”); they feel okay about hating little kids.

Active baby-hating is not a sign of a healthy society.

And in another post, on the growing trend of adults expressing displeasure at the public  existence of children and their parents

— as one contributor to the New York Times Magazine put it — “These wan goons. . .bringing their squealing offspring to brunch or for clogging up the sidewalk…”

[The New York Times Magazine] featured this letter to the editor, written by “Carolyn” in Maryland:

Five years ago I faced an unwanted pregnancy. At the time, I had a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, and I was working full time as a college professor and living an upper-middle-class life. When I found out I was pregnant at eight weeks, I consulted with my husband (who supported either decision) and we scheduled an abortion the following week. I was overwhelmed at the thought of caring for another child. Had I been turned away, I’m sure that I would be able to report that I loved that third child, that our family was doing well and that there were no notable negative impacts or issues as a result of bearing and raising the child from an unwanted pregnancy. I can, however, say the same thing now, having not had that child.

The blood runs cold. Break it down to its essentials, and it’s “Yeah, I could have had the kid and we’d have still been fine, but what’s the difference? This way I wasn’t inconvenienced.”

Or, put another way: “I just sacrificed my child to the idol of I. The idol of myself. I can’t even claim he was sacrificed for the idol of future plans, or that she was sacrificed to the idol of a career. No, I just sacrificed my child to me. To the idea of me: Ms. Personal Autonomy. I am like a god! I decide who lives and dies; didn’t feel like having another baby, so I killed it. Because I could. My other two kids only breathe and live by my grace, alone.”
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It is precisely because a baby brings the unconditional love of God to us in a renewed way that evil cannot abide it, and works so desperately to prevent it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

June 26, 2013

What about same sex spinster sisters?

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, gay spouses may not only file joint taxes, they will be entitled to the same survivor benefits as straight spouses.

Are there other classes of people who ought to be afforded the same?  What about same-sex spinster sisters?  The push for the same treatment for relatives who live together for decades is beginning to happen  in the U.K.

Spinster sisters could win legal right to be treated as married couples,

The introduction of same-sex marriage could finally open the way for carers and relatives such as unmarried sisters who live together to be given the same legal status as married couples.

Baroness Deech, the leading lawyer, told Peers that, once the change in the marriage laws is enacted, the European Court of Human Rights would be likely to support a challenge to the current civil partnership restrictions unless they are opened up to those not in a sexual relationship.

Such a change would mean that relatives who live together for decades would not risk losing their home because of inheritance tax if one of them died, she said.

She highlighted the case of Joyce and Sybil Burden, two elderly sisters who lost their legal fight for the right to be treated as civil partners at the Strasbourg court six years ago.
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“Civil partners and married couples, gay or straight, will be treated in law far better than, for example, two elderly sisters who share a house or an elderly father and the daughter who cares for him.”

She added: “Why should consanguinity be any less important than the relationship between married and civil partners?

“The state should not prefer sexual relationships, which may be short-lived and serial, over blood relationships that have proved to have endured decades.

In their 2006 tax battle, two elderly spinster sisters argued, Treat us like lesbians

Inheritance tax concessions discriminate against some heterosexual couples, lawyers for two elderly sisters told the European Court of Human Rights yesterday.  Joyce Burden, 88, and her sister Sybil, 81, claim that they should enjoy the same tax advantages as a lesbian couple.  The sisters looked after their parents and two aunts at their home near Marlborough, Wilts, until their deaths.

They now care for each other. But when one of the sisters dies, the other will face a hefty bill for inheritance tax.  They fear that the home they inherited from their parents will then have to be sold. Inheritance tax is not payable on property passing on death from one spouse to another.

They lost their battle in 2008 when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that they do not face unfair discrimination under British inheritance tax rules

After losing the first case in 2006, Joyce Burden commented: “If we were lesbians we would have all the rights in the world. But we are sisters, and it seems we have no rights at all.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

Stereotype accuracy

Psychology Today  Why do so many psychologists emphasize stereotype inaccuracy when the evidence so clearly provides evidence of such high accuracy?

There may be many explanations, but one that fits well is the leftward lean of most psychologists.  If we can self-righteously rail against other people's inaccurate stereotypes, we cast ourselves as good, decent egalitarians fighting the good fight, siding with the oppressed against their oppressors.

Furthermore, as Jon Haidt has repeatedly shown, ideology blinds people to facts that are right under their noses.  Liberal social scientists often have assumed stereotypes were inaccurate without bothering to test for inaccuracy, and, when the evidence has been right under their noses, they have avoided looking at it.  And when something happens where they can't avoid looking at it, they have denigrated its importance.  Which is, in some ways, very amusing -- if, after 100 years of proclaiming the inaccuracy of stereotypes to the world, can we really just say "Never mind, it's not that important" after the evidence comes in showing that stereotype accuracy is one of the largest relationships in all of social psychology?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2013

How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

""We are living through a profound crisis of the institutions that were the keys to our previous success—not only economic, but also political and cultural—as a civilization"

writes Niall Ferguson in his new book, The Great Degeneration, which is reviewed by George Melloan who calls it A Jeremiad to Heed.

Doomsayers are never popular, but sometimes they're right….That maxim applies to the writings of the economic historian Niall Ferguson.
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With a focus on the United States, "The Great Degeneration" warns that Western civilization has entered into a period of decline due mainly to the strangling of private initiative by the ever-encroaching state. "….

The threatened institutions are representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society. Mr. Ferguson is dismayed at the explosion of public debt, the destruction of markets by excessive regulation, the replacement of the rule of law by "a rule of lawyers," and the decay of civil society as represented in part by the decline of thousands of private, voluntary organizations (Rotarians, Elks, et al.) that have contributed so much to social order and progress in America.
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The most worrisome evidence of decline, he believes, is the "crisis of public debt," with government budgets out of control in the U.S. and Europe. He sees outsize debt as a symptom of the "betrayal of future generations: a breach of Edmund Burke's social contract between the present and the future."
[U.S. future obligations exceed future revenues by $200 trillion, and state and local governments face $38 trillion in unfunded obligations.]
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The French author Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the scope of American civil society in the 19th century, the many associations that owed their "birth and development" not to law but to individuals freely joining forces. Mr. Ferguson agrees with Tocqueville that "the state—with its seductive promise of 'security from the cradle to the grave'—was the real enemy of civil society."

Earlier this month, Ferguson wrote two op eds in the Wall Street Journal based on the premises of his new book.

How America Lost Its Way  It is getting ever harder to do business in the United States, argues Niall Ferguson, and more stimulus won't help: Our institutions need fixing.

If poor countries can get rich by improving their institutions, is it not possible that rich countries can get poor by allowing their institutions to degenerate? I want to suggest that it is.
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We used to have the rule of law. Now it is tempting to say we have the rule of lawyers, which is something different.
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The decline of American institutions is no secret. Yet it is one of those strange "unknown knowns" that is well documented but largely ignored.
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Each year, the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Competitiveness Index. Since it introduced its current methodology in 2004, the U.S. score has declined by 6%. (In the same period China's score has improved by 12%.) …In only one category out of 22 is the U.S. ranked in the global top 20 (the strength of investor protection). In seven categories it does not even make the top 50.

Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America  Tocqueville saw a nation of individuals who were defiant of authority. Today? Welcome to Planet Government.

In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. ...Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."
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Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington.
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As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly…..The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that's on top of the federal government's $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

Here are three recent examples of what Ferguson is talking about.

Department of Labor vs. me

What started as a small family business operating out of our home has grown to 22 states. Now, though, it might all turn out to be illegal, thanks to the bureaucratic thinking of the Department of Labor.

The business model that parents thought was an innovation, but that Labor sees as a menace, is simple but effective. You might have heard of it: cooperation.

Then there is the struggle to start  a charter school in Maryland using a classical curriculum and science that Charles Murray talks about in A case study in the government as enemy.   

Or the harassment experienced by one man who tried to start a non-profit to challenge the imagination of the rising generation by engaging them with the great books and America's moral and constitutional order.  The IRS targeted my organization.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 AM | Permalink

The State of the Nation is Depressing

We don't trust the government to serve us, the schools to teach our children, the media to tell us the truth, churches are emptying out, families are breaking down, most workers hate their jobs or have 'checked out', no wonder so many of are on anti-depressants or pain-killers.

Most workers hate their jobs or have 'checked out', Gallup says.    There are 100 million full time workers in the U.S.

30% or 30 million are engaged, involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their workplace
50% or 50 million are not engaged.  They are just going through the motions
20% or 20 million are actively disengaged and hate going to work.

Gallup estimates that workers who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. as much as $550 billion in economic activity yearly. The level of employee engagement over the past decade has been largely stagnant, according to researchers.

The report found that different age groups and those with higher education levels reported more discontent with their workplace. Millennials and baby boomers, for instance, are more likely to be "actively disengaged" than other age groups. Employees with college degrees are also more likely to be running on auto pilot at work.

Majority of Americans Don't Trust Newspapers and Television News says Gallup

Continuing a decades-long downward trend, fewer than one-fourth of Americans have confidence in newspapers, according to a recent Gallup poll.
The percentage of Americans saying they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers dropped to 23 percent this year from 25 percent last year, according to a report on the poll, which was released Monday….Confidence in television news has also been slipping — it's tied with newspapers this year at 23 percent, which is slightly up from last year's all-time low of 21 percent.
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College graduates are less likely to trust the media than those with only a high school diploma, for example. The poll also found that women are slightly more confident than men in both television news and newspapers….Conservatives remain the most critical of newspapers and television news, while liberals are the most supportive.

Boomer Victory: The Young Are Poor and Ignorant

Americans entering the workforce are less educated than those exiting it, according to a new report by the Council on Foreign Relations
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No other developed country in the world has dropped so many places. To go from first place to tenth place in high school graduation rate in one generation is serious and alarming…But the long term effects could be even scarier: a society that does a poor job educating its citizens is going to pay the price for decades to come. As a less educated workforce slowly replaces a more educated one, skilled labor decreases and the entire economy suffers:

Report: Too Many Teachers, Too Little Quality

The National Council on Teacher Quality review is a scathing assessment of colleges' education programs and their admission standards, training and value.
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The review finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms" with an ever-increasing diversity of ethnic and socioeconomic students,

Study: 70 Percent Of Americans On Prescription Drugs

Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions.

Mayo Clinic researchers report that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids are the most common prescriptions given to Americans. Twenty percent of U.S. patients were also found to be on five or more prescription medications.

“Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” Dr. St. Sauver stated in a Mayo Clinic press release. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on. And the third most common drugs were opioids, which is a bit concerning considering their addicting nature.”

According to the CDC, the percent of persons using at least one prescription drug in the past month increased nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2010.

Zerohedge.  Rotting, Decaying And Bankrupt – If You Want To See The Future Of America Just Look At Detroit

Eventually the money runs out. …But what Detroit is facing is not really that unique.

In fact, Detroit is a perfect example of what the future of America is going to look like.  We live in a nation that is rotting, decaying, drowning in debt and racing toward insolvency.  Already there are dozens of other cities across the nation that are poverty-ridden, crime-infested hellholes just like Detroit is, and hundreds of other communities are rapidly heading in that direction.  So don't look down on Detroit.  They just got there before the rest of us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:25 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2013

A Great Speech

Yuval Levin's great speech

Gratitude and Seeing the Best Intentions of Your Brother Voicing an Opposing View

To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on it, while liberals tend to begin from outrage at what is bad and broken and seek to uproot it.

You need both, because some of what is good about our world is irreplaceable and has to be guarded, while some of what is bad is unacceptable and has to be changed. We should never forget that the people who oppose our various endeavors and argue for another way are well intentioned too, even when they’re wrong, and that they’re not always wrong.

But we can also never forget what moves us to gratitude, and so what we stand for and defend: the extraordinary cultural inheritance we have; the amazing country built for us by others and defended by our best and bravest; America’s unmatched potential for lifting the poor and the weak; the legacy of freedom—of ordered liberty—built up over centuries of hard work.

We value these things not because they are triumphant and invincible but because they are precious and vulnerable, because they weren’t fated to happen, and they’re not certain to survive. They need us—and our gratitude for them should move us to defend them and to build on them.
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Conservatives often begin from gratitude because we start from modest expectations of human affairs—we know that people are imperfect, and fallen, and weak; that human knowledge and power are not all they’re cracked up to be; and we’re enormously impressed by the institutions that have managed to make something great of this imperfect raw material. So we want to build on them because we don’t imagine we could do better starting from scratch.

Liberals often begin from outrage because they have much higher expectations—maybe even utopian expectations—about the perfectibility of human things and the potential of human knowledge and power. They’re often willing to ignore tradition and to push aside institutions that channel generations of wisdom because they think we can do better on our own.
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The American idea of progress is the tradition that we’re defending. It is made possible precisely by sustaining our deep ties to the ideals of liberty, and equality, and human dignity expressed in our founding and our institutions. The great moral advances in our history have involved the vindication of those principles—have involved America becoming more like itself.

And in any society, the task of sustaining those kinds of institutions for the next generation is the essential task—the irreplaceable precondition for everything else. That is the work first and foremost of families, and of communities. It can also be the work of educators, and of legislators. The work of democratic capitalism and of our constitutional order.

They are all connected by the need to sustain the great gift that is our country, and when we fail to see them as connected—when for instance we think we can advance our economic agenda at the expense of our concerns about the culture—we risk losing that gift altogether.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2013

"A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil."

In When Your W-2 Meets an AR-15  Mark Steyn first quotes Politico

As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, [Jeff] Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said.

“When I left there, it’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability,” Duncan told POLITICO. “Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability..?

Then Steyn writes

A bureaucracy is bad. A politicized bureaucracy is worse. A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil.

There is no reason in a civilized society why the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Paperwork should have his own SEAL Team Six.
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As I wrote in the magazine last year:

By the way, I use the word “agents” rather than “officials” because, in the developed world, the paramilitarized bureaucracy is uniquely American. This is the only G7 government whose education minister has his own SWAT team — for policing student-loan compliance. The other day, the Gibson guitar company settled with the feds over an arcane infraction of a law on rare-wood importation — after their factories were twice raided by “agents” bearing automatic weapons. Like the man said, don’t bring a knife to a guitar fight. Do musical-instrument manufacturers have a particular reputation for violence?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2013

Scandalpalooza

There are so many scandals in Washington now coming to light, it's a scandalpalooza.  Beyond the scandals we know of, Benghazi, IRS, the DOJ and NSA, other scandals are erupting.    The common thread to all is abuse of power and the chilling of opposition to the party line by the bullying of the government.

There would probably be more if the Inspector Generals were appointed for State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and the Agency for International Development but the President has failed to appoint them.   Obama's Inspector General Negligence

All told, an IG has been missing in action at each of those cabinet departments and the AID agency for between 18 months and five years.

In the State Department

CBS:  U.S. State Department Cover-Ups Range from Prostitution Charges to Drug Rings
including allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” with foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”
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investigators were told to stop probing the case of a U.S. ambassador who was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park. The memo states that the ambassador was permitted to return to his post despite having, “routinely ditched…his protective security detail” in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

 Howard-Gutman-Belgium-Ambassador Howard Gutman, Ambassador to Belgium, identified as the U.S. diplomat accused of "soliciting sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children" denies the charges.

After being called back to Washington, he met with Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, but kept his job.    Gutman raised $500k for Obama and helped finance the inaugural.

DSS agents told the Inspector General's investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is "very" upsetting.

"We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing," she said.

At the EPA.  Four separate scandals going on at the EPA  including making conservatives pay a fortune for FOIAs to be granted while waiving fees for liberal groups  and leaking confidential information on farmers and cattle facilities to environmental groups

At the FHA.  Yet Another Obama Cover-Up: FHA Bailout Fear

Subprime: For years, the administration has denied FHA troubles. But emails reveal it not only knew of them, but also withheld evidence of projected insolvency from Congress.
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The agency is letting lower-income borrowers get loans just three years after foreclosure with as little as 3% down and subprime-low credit scores. In fact, 40% of newer FHA-backed loans are subprime.

The risky lending has led to higher delinquencies. Now at 17%, delinquencies on FHA loans are so high the administration has extended the grace period for repayments on troubled loans to a full year.

Last year, the FHA secretly conducted a Fed-style stress test that found agency losses could hit $115 billion. Because the results were politically embarrassing, FHA chose to not disclose them.

At the GSA  According to the IG, Feds in the GSA Threw Contracts to Crony Companies

The stunning report shows that GSA managers routinely overruled contracting officers on certain accounts, including Carahsoft and two large IT contracts with Deloitte and Oracle. The contracts amounted to $900 million in 2011 alone. The IG found, according to the Federal Times, that “After GSA managers intervened in contracting officer decisions, the result was higher-than-appropriate prices for federal customers and a demoralized acquisition staff for GSA.”

At  HHS.  At least 436 Department of Health and Human Services employees Had Insider Tip of $8 Billion Medicare Decision that set private health insurers' stock soaring.  The Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have launched a probe to investigate possible insider trading.

In the Army  Soldier Who Read Conservative Books Now Faces Charges

A member of the U.S. Army Band who said he was reprimanded for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party and reading books written by conservative authors like Sean Hannity is now facing Article 15 charges – which cropped up shortly after he went public with his complaints. 

Last summer he was reprimanded for reading David Limbaugh and Mark Levin  privately and silently backstage at a U.S. Army Band concert.  A superior officer told him he was causing "unit disruption" and offending other soldiers

At the Energy Dept.  Nepotism ‘open and widely accepted’ at Energy Department.    Despite the fact that Federal law prohibits  public officials from appointing, employing or even advocating for their children or relatives to work within their agencies

At NSA  Pat Cadell on the sordid revelations .  The Fuse Has Been Lit:  Seven Critical Points on Uncle Sam's Spying Program

If the IRS was so willing to share confidential information with favored private groups, we shouldn’t be surprised, in the end, to learn that NSA/PRISM material ended up in the hands of Obama friends and allies outside of the government.
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These communications companies put peepholes into all of our private lives, through which Uncle Sam could sneak a peek.  Every e-mail, every phone call, every text-message--the government knows about them all.  It’s now evident that all these wonderful digital services--many of them, such as Google’s Gmail, given away for free--were, in fact, a kind of Trojan Horse.

More at the IRSHouse panel to probe alleged seizure of medical records by IRS

A top House committee launched another probe of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tuesday after a lawsuit alleged that the agency improperly seized millions of personal medical records in California.

The IRS seized 60 million records of 10 million people  without a search warrant or subpoena

Why the IRS is not answering questions about who did what.  Wow: IRS Claims Law Protecting the Privacy of Taxpayer Information Also Protects the Privacy of Those Who Violate Taxpayer Privacy

When everything is a crime, government date mining matters  especially in a flourishing culture of intimidation directed at the Tea Party, traditional marriage supporters, conservatives and other opponents of Obama and his agenda

Losing America by Peter Kirsanow

The “fundamental transformation” of America proceeds apace. The erosion of our freedoms and traditions, once incremental and barely perceptible, accelerates daily.

Armies of bureaucrats commanded by political ideologues remarkable mainly for their galactic incompetence intrude on ever more aspects of our lives — aspects both large and small. They tell us what light bulbs we’re allowed to use and how much water we may flush. They stick swabs in our mouths to collect our DNA and order us to buy health insurance we don’t want. They can seize our land if they think they know how to use it better, or stop us from using our land because a favored amphibian might live there too.
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Trust us, they say, it’s for your own good; a sovereign imperative, essential for national security. This from a government that freely lets millions cross our borders illegally without bothering to find out even the slightest detail about them.

Roger Kimball  writes

the transformation of us citizens — formerly the employers of all those “public servants” (it sounds funny now, doesn’t it: “public servants” forsooth!) swanning about in Washington on our money — the transformation, I say, of us citizens into serfs, i.e., slaves working for a feudal master.

Via American Digest is  finem respice

If you live in the United States it may finally be dawning on you that you have something of a problem in the government to which you are now a Subject….In fact, given the manner you have quashed the opportunity- almost unique in the history of the species- created by an impossibly rare coexistence of liberty, private property, free markets, the rise of scientific method, and freedom of expression (to name just a few) there is more than a passing argument to be made that your society has squandered one of the greatest intellectual and individualistic fortunes in history.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2013

What the Middle Ages were really like

From Prager University with one of my favorite writers, Anthony Esolen

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

"When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well"

Mark Steyn on The All-Seeing State and the inevitable corruption of the permanent bureaucracy

So we know the IRS is corrupt. What happens then when an ambitious government understands it can yoke that corruption to its political needs? What’s striking as the revelations multiply and metastasize is that at no point does any IRS official appear to have raised objections. If any of them understood that what they were doing was wrong, they kept it to themselves. When Nixon tried to sic the IRS on a few powerful political enemies, the IRS told him to take a hike. When Obama’s courtiers tried to sic the IRS on thousands of ordinary American citizens, the agency went along, and very enthusiastically. This is a scale of depravity hitherto unknown to the tax authorities of the United States, and for that reason alone they should be disarmed and disbanded — and rebuilt from scratch with far more circumscribed powers.
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When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”
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When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 PM | Permalink

June 7, 2013

Political correctness idiocies

Army Reprimands Soldier for Serving Chick-Fil-A at a Private Party

A soldier who served Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party he threw to honor the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and his promotion to Master Sergeant has received a letter of reprimand.
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According to a Fox News report, the invitation to the soldier's party read: "In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party."

In response, the military went so far as to put a letter of reprimand in the soldier's file and "an investigation was initiated to see if he had violated any policy." Chaplain Alliance Executive Director Ron Crews said there was even "talk of bringing judicial punishment against" the soldier for a time.
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DOMA is the law of the land, and has been since it was enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1996. For honoring that law and serving sandwiches from a business that supports it, a Master Sergeant's career has been imperiled.

In order not to offend Muslims, schools in the U.K  are dropping the teaching of the Holocaust from history lessons

In an effort to counter ‘Islamophobia’ in British schools, teachers now are required to teach ‘key Muslim contributions such as Algebra and the number zero’ in math and science courses, even though the concept of zero originated in India.
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Muslim leaders are demanding that Islamic preachers be sent to every school in Scotland to teach children about Islam, ostensibly in an effort to counter negative attitudes about Muslims.
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In London, 85 of 90 schools have implemented “no pork” policies, reflecting a nationwide trend toward banning pork from lunch menus, all once again to avoid offending Muslim students.

Boy suspended from school just because he said the word 'gun'

Bruce Henkelman says his son was talking about the Sandy Hook shootings on the school bus and the driver immediately alerted his middle school principal and the sheriff. ….."

My son said 'I wish I had a gun to protect everyone,'" Henkelman said. "He wanted to be the hero." The boy was suspended for a day, and Henkelman had to fill out a four-page questionnaire issued by the sheriff's office. "My son was very scared," he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2013

How the French eat out

Fast Food Accounts for 54% of Restaurant Sales in France

As NPR reports, food consultancy firm Gira Conseil conducted its annual survey on restaurant spending in France and found that 54% of total sales belong to the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway. The new fan favorite increased 14% in consumption in the past year, shattering any notion that the French, known for world famous chefs and sophisticated palates, look down on the cheap and easy alternative to traditional restaurant dining.

McDonald’s racks up more than 1,200 locations in France, Subway has opened hundreds of stores in the past 10 years and Burger King, which shuttered its French locations 16 years ago, recently returned to the market.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2013

"It is not Islam that makes young converts violent; it is the violence within them that causes them to convert to Islam"

Theodore Dalrymple's thoughts on the brutal beheading of Lee Rigby.  I should note he is a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist.

What these cases show is that it is not Islam that makes young converts violent; it is the violence within them that causes them to convert to Islam. The religion, in its most bloodthirsty form, supplies all their psychological needs and channels their anger into a supposedly higher purpose. It gives them moral license to act upon their rage; for, like many in our society, they do not realize that anger is not self-justifying, that one is not necessarily right because one is angry, and that in any case even justified anger does not entail a license to act violently. The hacking to death of Lee Rigby on a street in Woolwich tells us as much about the society that we have created, or allowed to develop, as it does about radical Islam preached by fat, middle-aged clerics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

“The soldier is not respected because he is doomed to death, but because he is ready for death; and even ready for defeat.” G. K. Chesterton.

 Flags Boston Common Memday

Boston Common is a sea of flags placed by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Civil War to the present.

A Tradition of Sacrifice, From Yorktown to Ramadi

Memorial Day is deeply personal—to me, as it is to any veteran, to any military family. It is a time of mixed emotion: solemn reflection and mourning, honor and admiration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
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Let's remember on Memorial Day—and every other day, for that matter—that America did not become a nation without a fight…..It was not the Declaration of Independence that gave us freedom but the Continental Army. America was born from conflict, delivered by soldiers willing to pay with their blood the tremendous cost of freedom.

The dead did not wish to be martyred. They no doubt longed to return to their homes and families. But they believed in the "glorious cause," something far greater than themselves. Despite knowing the dangers before them, they followed Gen. Washington into the fray even when victory seemed hopeless and the cause all but lost.

Why do we honor those who have sacrificed their lives?

Not because they have secured our ability to seek our individual good, but because they have given their lives in pursuit of a common, intrinsic, and greater good.

-Kelly Mixon Widow Afghan Ied
The sacrifice is felt most deeply by the women and families left behind.  Amy Mixon kneels before grave of her husband Kelly who was killed by an IED in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.

The fighting Irish. The Irish have won the Congressional Medal of Honor far more than any other ethnic group. 

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Henry Steele Commager called it "the one great song to come out of the Civil War, the one great song ever written in America". writes Mark Steyn

Whether or not that's true, most of us understand it has a depth and a power beyond most formal national songs. When John F Kennedy was assassinated, Judy Garland insisted on singing it on her TV show – the producers weren't happy about it, and one sneered that nobody would give a damn about Kennedy in a month's time. But it's an extraordinary performance. Little more than a year later, it was played at the state funeral of Winston Churchill at St Paul's Cathedral. Among those singing it was the Queen. She sang it again in public, again at St Paul's, for the second time in her life at the service of remembrance in London three days after September 11th 2001. That day, she also broke with precedent and for the first time sang another country's national anthem – "The Star-Spangled Banner". But it was Julia Ward Howe's words that echoed most powerfully that morning as they have done since she wrote them in her bedroom in Washington 140 years earlier:

As He died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.


The US Army Chorus sings at the White House in 2008 before President Bush and Pope Benedict on his visit to the U.S.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2013

Why doesn't Planned Parenthood Report Pedophilia?

Man forces pre-teen rape victim to abort at Planned Parenthood

A Washington state man who impregnated a 12 year-old girl forced her to have an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in order to cover up his sexual assault on the girl.

The Bellingham Herald reports that Luis Gonzalez-Jose, 31, of Everson, Washington must serve a sentence of six years in jail, then leave the United States, after raping the young girl in her home while her mother was in the shower, according to documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.
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The documents indicate that, six weeks after the abortion, the girl told a police detective the truth--that Gonzalez-Jose had impregnated her and had insisted that “it would be best for her” not to have the baby.
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Mark Crutcher of pro-life organization Life Dynamics told LifeNews that it is not unusual for Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics to serve as places where sexual predators can hide the evidence of their crimes, when sexual assaults on minors end up in pregnancy.

“The abortion lobby is engaged in a pedophile protection racket and protecting pedophiles who rape underage girls,” Crutcher said. “These abortion clinics receive money from the federal government. We are literally paying for the rape of our young daughters.”
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Crutcher’s analysis of several hundred circumstances in which older men were convicted of sexual crimes against minor girls showed that, in an alarming number of these cases, the victims were taken for birth control, pregnancy tests, STD treatments, and abortions--usually by the perpetrator himself--with no mandatory report made by those who provided the service.

In almost every case, according to Crutcher, the sexual abuse resumed after the “service” at the clinic, and would often go on for years afterward.

“You have to remember what’s happening right there,” Crutcher added. “You have an adult in a state talking to what they perceived to be a 13 year-old child who was a victim of sexual abuse by an older man and telling that child to lie about his age in order to conceal the crime. If you’re a parent, especially if a father and you’re not outraged then you don’t have a pulse.”

New Way to Stop Planned Parenthood et al from Abetting Pedophiles?

Now Jill Stanek is reporting that another prolife organization, Life Dynamics – upon conducting research of their own, and discovering that in many cases of convicted sexual abuse the victim had been taken to a Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinic at some point — is trying a new tactic.

After contacting more than 800 clinics and finding that 91 percent were willing to conceal the age of a sexual partner for an underage girl, Life Dynamics then contacted 53,000 personal-injury lawyers to apprise them of this illegal activity.

Life Dynamics’s president Mark Crutcher told Stanek that his phone has been ringing off the hook. He said, “I’m spending night and day talking to these people, and they’re catching the vision about what this is about and the hundreds of thousands of potential clients.”

Pro-life group Life Dynamics has launched an ambitious campaign to educate all of the nation’s personal injury attorneys of an enormous opportunity to file civil lawsuits on behalf of child sex abuse victims and their families against abortion clinics that did not report the crime.

Abortion clinic personnel in all 50 states are mandated reporters who must notify designated state agencies of suspected child sex abuse.

A minor girl coming to a clinic for an abortion, contraception, or STD testing/treatment is evidence that a potential sex crime has been committed against that child. Abortion clinics are not to investigate themselves, they are simply to report.

If it turns out abortion clinics did not comply with the mandatory reporting statute, and the abuse continued afterward, they and individual employees are liable, as are any and all who caused the girl to go there – school districts that gave a referral, relatives, etc.

Life Dynamics has mailed this dvd to 53,000 personal injury attorneys across the country explaining the law and opportunity…
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2013

A Woman of Valor and Courage

In the horrific beheading today of a British soldier in London, a Mum talked down Woolwich terrorists who told her: 'We want to start a war in London tonight'

 Ingrid-Loyau-Kennet

A mother-of-two described tonight how she put her own life on the line by trying to persuade the soldier’s murderers to hand over their weapons.
Cub scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett selflessly engaged the terrorists in conversation and kept her nerve as one of them told her: “We want to start a war in London tonight.”

Mrs Loyau-Kennett, 48, from Cornwall, was one of the first people on the scene after the two Islamic extremists butchered a soldier in Woolwich, south east London.  She was photographed by onlookers confronting one of the attackers who was holding a bloodied knife.

Mrs Loyau-Kennett was a passenger on a number 53 bus which was travelling past the scene, and jumped off to check the soldier’s pulse.
“Being a cub leader I have my first aid so when I saw this guy on the floor I thought it was an accident then I saw the guy was dead and I could not feel any pulse.

“And then when I went up there was this black guy with a revolver and a kitchen knife, he had what looked like butcher’s tools and he had a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives and he said 'move off the body’.

“So I thought 'OK, I don’t know what is going on here’ and he was covered with blood. I thought I had better start talking to him before he starts attacking somebody else. I thought these people usually have a message so I said 'what do you want?’

“I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British soldier and I said really and he said 'I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there.”

Moments earlier, the killers had hacked at the soldier “like a piece of meat”, and when Mrs Loyau-Kennett arrived on the scene they were roaming John Wilson Street waiting for police to arrive so they could stage a final confrontation with them.

She said: “I started to talk to him and I started to notice more weapons and the guy behind him with more weapons as well. By then, people had started to gather around. So I thought OK, I should keep him talking to me before he noticed everything around him.

“He was not high, he was not on drugs, he was not an alcoholic or drunk, he was just distressed, upset. He was in full control of his decisions and ready to everything he wanted to do.

I said 'right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?’ and he said I would like to stay and fight.”
The suspect in the black hat then went to speak to someone else and Mrs Loyau-Kennett tried to engage with the other man in the light coat.
She said: “The other one was much shier and I went to him and I said 'well, what about you? Would you like to give me what you have in your hands?’ I did not want to say weapons but I thought it was better having them aimed on one person like me rather than everybody there, children were starting to leave school as well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2013

"We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us." More on the IRS scandal

When entire classes of people have been targeted by the most powerful agency in Washington, the system of government has become corrupted..

The Enemies List more sinister that Nixon's or LBJ's

Many have compared the recent scandals to past presidential trespasses, such as Richard Nixon’s wiretapping of political “enemies” or Lyndon Johnson’s having the IRS audit them to silence or otherwise intimidate them. Those analogies are important, but mostly because understanding them properly teaches us what is new, and potentially more alarming, about the current IRS scandal.
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The enemies list à la Obama, which targets entire classes of people or organizations, is more dangerous to a free and open society because it paves the way for more systemic and widespread abuses by government. It is spawned by an insidious philosophy that discounts the intrinsic value and uniqueness of individuals. Group traits such as ideology, religious beliefs, occupation, military status, and even gun ownership trump individual qualities and come to define the citizen in the eyes of the increasingly intrusive government.

James Tarento writes.  …. the IRS scandal was a subversion of democracy on a massive scale. The most fearsome and coercive arm of the administrative state embarked on a systematic effort to suppress citizen dissent against the party in power.

Is the IRS scandal the worst political scandal in American history?  Bookworm says Yes.

Why? Because you, the People, became the targets of a comprehensive federal government effort to stifle dissent, one made using the government’s overwhelming and disproportionate policing and taxing powers.

All of the other scandals, going back to Andrew Johnson’s post-Civil War scandals, Warren G. Harding’s 1920s Teapot Dome scandal, Nixon’s Watergate, Reagan’s Iran-Contra, and Clinton’s Oval Office sexcapades have actually been narrowly focused acts of cronyism, garden-variety political chicanery, or personal failings. It’s been insider stuff.
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Once a government gets the bit between its teeth and starts targeting special interest groups, that is the end of freedom, not just for those first groups targeted, but for everyone.
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the IRS, an agency that has the power to destroy every person in America, did all of this on its own initiative. What we’re seeing in that case is the fall-out of a complete Leftist takeover of American institutions. We will have become a tyranny by bureaucracy (in no small part due to the fact that federal agencies are heavily unionized, and always with a Leftist slant), with the entire federal government irredeemably corrupt.

Just how egregious the conduct of the IRS was is best understood by looking at some of the victims. The True Scandal can be seen in the story of  Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote and was targeted by the IRS, the FBI, the Texas OSHA and the Texas Commissission of Environmental Quality and the ATF.

 Catherine Engelbrecht

Other Tea Party groups decided not to form nonprofits at all after learning about her experience, she says. “They were scared,” she explains, “and you shouldn’t be scared of your government.”

Catherine says the harassment has forced her to seriously reconsider whether her political activity is worth the government harassment she’s faced.

“I left a thriving family business with my husband that I loved, to do something I didn’t necessarily love, but [which] I thought had to be done,” she says. “But I really think if we don’t do this, if we don’t stand up and speak now, there might not [always] be that chance.”

John Kass writes in the Chicago Tribune that the IRS Scandal is a reminder of how he learned about The Chicago Way

This scandal is about more than partisanship. It's bigger than whether the Republicans win or the Democrats lose.
It's even bigger than President Barack Obama. Yes, bigger than Obama.

It is opening American eyes to the fundamental relationship between free people and those who govern them.

This one is about the Republic and whether we can keep it.

And it started me thinking of years ago, of my father and my uncle in Chicago and how government muscle really works.
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I couldn't understand how we could argue about politics over baklava and watermelon and coffee, but not put it into practice.
We could support a political candidacy, we could donate or work for one or another politician that we agreed with.
This is America, I said.
"Are you in your good senses?" said my father. "We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us."

And no one, not the Roosevelt Democrats or the Reagan Republicans, disagreed. The socialists, the communists, the royalists, everyone nodded their heads.

Of Sarah Ingram, the manager of the IRS office that targeted these organizations, was promoted to head the office of the IRS that is implementing Obamacare.  Deroy Murdock says

It is beyond outrageous that this secret policewoman — whose actions were at least execrable, if not illegal — would get within three time zones of any American's health-care data. She should be sacked before lunch and seriously considered for prosecution.

The Stasi IRS? Where have we seen this sort of intensive scrutiny and record keeping before? Where have we seen the use of detailed records used to repress opposition to government?

We saw it in Eastern Germany before the fall of the infamous Wall in 1989 in the form of the Stasi, the arm of the secret police, which kept voluminous information on every individual and every organization within that hapless and oppressed nation.

Congress needs to give the IRS a dose of its own medicine, an audit from top to bottom.  I see no other way to clean up the "IRS rat's nest" than an Independent Special Counsel with subpoena power and so does Larry Kudlow

The IRS was taking the Tea Party out of play for the 2012 election, as it looked to avoid a repeat of 2010 and another Tea Party landslide.

If the IRS wasn’t politically targeting conservative groups, why did its leading spokespeople lie? This was not even cognitive dissonance. It was outright lying before Congress. Lois Lerner, a key player in the IRS’s tax-exempt division, is being accused by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of no fewer than four lies. The inspector general’s report shows that she knew about the targeting problem in June 2011, but wouldn’t admit to it in correspondence with Congress over the next two years.
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Of course, Obama charged Treasury secretary Jack Lew with straightening this out. But Lew’s an Obama political operative.
By the way, a special counsel will have to do a special investigation, since we’re already learning the inspector-general investigation was a very superficial operation. And an independent special counsel can investigate any possible White House connections with senior Treasury officials, connections that could lead to the Oval Office.
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[The IRS] is a massively important government agency. And now we know that it is fraught with corruption and a liberal-left political agenda.

Only an independent special counsel could possibly straighten this mess out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2013

The case for "trickle down" values

William Tucker writes about  The Coming Cultural Disintegration  and neatly summarizes Charles Murray's thesis in his latest book, Coming Apart.

THE CULTURAL EARTHQUAKE that Murray has brought to national attention in Coming Apart goes as follows: Whatever the causes, the social disintegration that once seemed to apply only to African Americans has now engulfed blue-collar, white working-class communities as well. Men are dropping out of the workforce, single motherhood has risen to nearly 50 percent, crime has skyrocketed, religious faith is declining, and the chances for upward mobility are rapidly diminishing. As Murray concludes: "The absolute level [of social cohesion] is so low that it calls into question the viability of white working-class communities as a place for socializing the next generation."
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Murray identifies what he calls the "founding virtues"—marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity—that were once shared by all Americans and held us together in a common culture. That culture was still intact on November 21, 1963, the day before the Kennedy assassination that Murray chooses as his benchmark. In graph after graph drawn from the sociological literature, he shows how these four qualities have deteriorated—not among the college educated, who spend most of their time disparaging those virtues, but in blue—collar communities where people are rarely educated beyond high school.  By way of illustration, he applies this data to two real places, Belmont, an upscale suburb of Boston dominated by college graduates, and Fishtown, a working-class neighborhood on the fringe of Philadelphia where the once strong ethic of marriage and family is now falling apart.
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If you rather, you can watch Peter Robinson of Uncommon Knowledge interview Charles Murray in 45 minutes at Powerline
Daniel Greenfield reviews Charles Murray's book in Coming Apart, Coming Together

A marriage rate below 50 percent would have been considered a severe social problem in a nation that had not abandoned, what Murray calls, its “Founding Virtues”, but progressive socialists operating in the haze of an economics centered view of social problems would tend to say that the only social problem is insufficient subsidies for single parent families.
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Though packed with data, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” is less a call for social policies and more of a call for a moral awakening. Beyond trickledown economics, Murray would like to see trickledown values replace the disintegration of the national founding virtues that occurred when culture met counterculture. The segregation of the two Americas has created two cultures, both decaying in their own ways, the effete culture of Belmont and the decaying culture of Fishtown, one wrapped in its own insularity, the other drowning in popular culture with no moral center to cling to.

Teen parents are not the real issue in unwed childbearing

In fact, while teen births have gone down, the unwed birthrate has climbed by more than 45 percent since 1990. In 1990, 28 percent of births were to single mothers, whereas in 2010 that number exceeded 40 percent.

While less than 8 percent of unwed births are to girls under 18, nearly 75 percent are to women between 18 and 29. Rather than a teen issue, the majority of unwed childbearing is a result of the breakdown of marriage relationships among young men and women in lower-income communities.

The breakdown of marriage and the subsequent growth of unwed childbearing should be of major concern, considering its strong association with poverty. Children in single-parent homes are more than five times as likely to be poor as their peers in married-parent homes, and not surprisingly, single-parent families are also much more likely to be dependent on government welfare. Additionally, children raised outside of married-parent homes are at greater risk for a variety of negative outcomes.

Yet, despite the major growth in unwed childbearing and the problems associated with it, there has been a “pervasive social silence” on this matter. While there is much chatter about teen birthrates, the overriding issues of marriage breakdown and unwed childbearing are too often ignored.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 PM | Permalink

The IVF industry - "human manufacturing on an industrial scale"

IVF may have brought joy – but it’s also brought misery and ended lives

With Sir Robert Edwards’s death we should still remember that ‘playing God’ brings problems

'I wish IVF had never been invented' It's brought joy to so many. But, as the scientist behind IVF dies, SAMANTHA BRICK says it's given her nothing but heartache…

For every woman lucky enough to fulfil her dream of motherhood, there are many more disillusioned women like me who remain childless.
Lives have been destroyed as well as created. Frequently, marriages do not survive the turmoil unleashed by IVF. There are also those who, years after their IVF has failed, are still paying off the cost of their extortionately-priced treatment.
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Let’s not forget that it is an industry — one which in the UK alone is worth at least £500 million, with 59.7 per cent of IVF cycles paid for privately in 2011. Today, it is a business first and foremost — and one which has depressingly low success rates.
At best, IVF offers a one-in-four chance of having a baby — a rate which rapidly diminishes with a woman’s age.
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Yet I also believe that there are some things we simply shouldn’t meddle with — and artificially creating life is one of them.

The Human Egg Rush

Thanks to tremendous advances in biotechnological prowess, living human bodies—or rather their constituent parts and biological functions—are increasingly being looked upon as valuable commercial commodities. Human eggs (oocytes) are a prime example. Ounce for ounce, ova are surely the most valuable product in the world, with some young women receiving $50,000 and up for twenty or thirty microscopic eggs for use in eugenic in vitro fertilization (IVF). There is a catch: Sellers have to risk their health, fecundity, and lives to earn their paycheck.
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one out of one hundred women experiences ovarian swelling that can enlarge her ovaries to the size of a grapefruit, a condition that often causes the belly to fill with fluid, requiring hospitalization. Some women even suffer ovarian rupture. Other potential health hazards include infection, pulmonary and vascular complications (including life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome), blood clots, and future cancers. In rare cases, hyper-ovulation results in death.
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The growing demand for eggs also opens up the possibility of abortion becoming a remunerative activity. In order to increase the egg supply, Dutch and Israeli scientists are experimenting with ovaries taken from later-term aborted female fetuses. The ovaries are kept alive after the abortion and the fetus’s immature eggs extracted. If the eggs can ever be matured, the scientists theorize, they could be used in infertility treatments and biotechnological experiments.

The Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, has already argued that women who want to abort should be paid to gestate longer in their term before undergoing termination. “If a woman has the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy,” he asks, “why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit? Many women would likely use the proceeds of such sales to finance college educations or to help raise their children.”

Bad Catholic asks Why the Church Would be so Ridiculous as to Oppose IVF

The child is not owned by his mother, father, community, or state. He is a unique human subject, a universe unto himself, an unfathomable subjectivity — a being who finds himself free, existing for his own sake.  In the glare of this freedom, it occurs to me that I cannot own a child any more than I can own an adult. I can only care for him, and care is an action of love.

The child is cared for by the duty, responsibility and desire of love, because love is the only category in which one human being can say to another “you are mine” without meaning “I own you.” Love is the only category under which the child can blossom, because under its star he is taken care of, with a care that does not infringe upon the fact that he is a human person who ultimately belongs to himself
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Outside of love, there is only economy.
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In the practice of IVF, and the act of procreation amounts to a process of 12,000 dollars, egg-harvesting, masturbation, and the subsequent laboratory work of trained specialists (with some obvious differences depending on the procedure). The creation of children is performed by the cost-counting fingers of economy, not by an act of mutual self-gift.

The evils and difficulties that result from IVF are not the reason IVF is wrong, they are the natural result of separating life from the act of love, indicators of something rotten at the core of this scientific procedure that holds high the banner of compassion. The manipulation and abuse of women who donate ovums, the “disposal” of unique human lives, the inability of the reproductive technology industry to keep the multiple-conception rate at normal levels and the subsequent abortions that compensate for this inability — these are problems of economy. The commodities trafficked are life and death.
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The Church is simply saying the method of creation is sin against love and that subsequent repentance and love must overcome this origin
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The Church is not saying that couples suffering with infertility should not seek to overcome their infertility.
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The success of natural methods of treating infertility has been shown to rival IVF, and they do so without the abortions, elevated risk of birth defects, price, and all the rest. Two recent studies have shown that the live birth rate of women treated with Natural Reproductive Technology is entirely comparable to the live birth rate of women treated with IVF, though larger cohort studies are required. For women diagnosed with “subfertility” or “unexplained fertility” there’s actually no conclusive evidence that IVF is more helpful than any other treatment. In fact, a 2012 study published in Infertility suggests that couples diagnosed with subfertility have as good chances of conceiving in three years of just having sex than in having an IVF procedure.  The Church, by sticking to the principle of love, has created a demand for medicine without the taint of economy, death and manipulation, and thanks the heroic, rebellious doctors and scientists who meet that demand, the entire culture has been elevated: The natural, healthy, ethical treatment of infertility is now a reality.

The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward

As I began my career and worked in cutting-edge biotech laboratories, there was always a nagging question: How can my Church, so rooted in the past, have something relevant to say about modern technologies like stem-cell research, cloning and genetic engineering that are coming in the future?

Then I began researching these technologies and discovered something that changed the way I viewed my Church and my faith. Elbow deep in the latest biotechnology news, I discovered that the Church was far from backward, out of touch and irrelevant.  It is the most forward-thinking institution I have ever encountered — and more relevant today than ever.
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The Church warned us that severing the natural ties between sex and procreation would turn our own offspring into objects instead of the God-given gifts that they are. The Church told us that IVF was an ethical nightmare. If only we as a society had listened.

Back in the 1970s, no one could imagine that IVF would become human manufacturing on an industrial scale, complete with tracking and "quality control." The enormity of human lives created and lost is staggering. Numbers recently released by the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has been keeping records on IVF since 1991, are horrifying.

Of the 3 million-plus embryos created in the U.K. with IVF, more than half — about 1.7 million — have been discarded. The numbers are likely similar elsewhere, meaning that IVF has become a manufacturing process with little regard for the massive loss of human life involved.
HFEA numbers also reveal that, for every live birth through IVF, as many as 30 embryos are created.

With estimates now that as many as 5 million IVF children worldwide have been born, it may mean that as many as 150 million lives have been created by IVF. Many of those have been lost, discarded or destroyed by research. Some of those 150 million human lives are still on ice waiting for a chance to finish their lives. Many will die waiting.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 PM | Permalink

What do the children say about same-sex parents

Raised by a same-sex couple and bi-sexual himself, Robert Oscar Lopez delivers another searing attack on same sex marriage based on the effect on the children.

children deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents or how much they love us. Children feel the loss keenly because they are powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother, and the absence of a male or female parent will likely be irreversible for them.
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I cannot speak for all children of same-sex couples, but I speak for quite a few of them, especially those who have been brushed aside in the so-called “social science research” on same-sex parenting.

Those who contacted me all professed gratitude and love for the people who raised them, which is why it is so difficult for them to express their reservations about same-sex parenting publicly.

Still, they described emotional hardships that came from lacking a mom or a dad. To give a few examples: they feel disconnected from the gender cues of people around them, feel intermittent anger at their “parents” for having deprived them of one biological parent (or, in some cases, both biological parents), wish they had had a role model of the opposite sex, and feel shame or guilt for resenting their loving parents for forcing them into a lifelong situation lacking a parent of one sex.
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I support same-sex civil unions and foster care, but I have always resisted the idea that government should encourage same-sex couples to imagine that their partnerships are indistinguishable from actual marriages. Such a self-definition for gays would be based on a lie, and anything based on a lie will backfire.
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But I am here to say no, having a mom and a dad is a precious value in its own right and not something that can be overridden, even if a gay couple has lots of money, can send a kid to the best schools, and raises the kid to be an Eagle Scout.

It’s disturbingly classist and elitist for gay men to think they can love their children unreservedly after treating their surrogate mother like an incubator, or for lesbians to think they can love their children unconditionally after treating their sperm-donor father like a tube of toothpaste.

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Putting aside all the historical analogies to civil rights and the sentimental platitudes about love, the fact is that same-sex parenting suffers from insurmountable logistical problems for which children pay the steepest lifelong price.
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That’s why I am for civil unions but not for redefining marriage. But I suppose I don’t count—I am no doctor, judge, or television commentator, just a kid who had to clean up the mess left behind by the sexual revolution.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

May 14, 2013

Bits and pieces

105-Year-Old Texas Woman Reveals Bacon as her Secret behind Long Life    She outlived 3 of her 7 children and her husband and attributes her long life to eating bacon every day.  Bacon.

$763 billion.  The One Number You Need to Know in O’s Budget.  That's the amount we'll be paying in interest payments in 2023 if Obama's budget is enacted.  According to Kevin Williamson,

Under Obama’s budget, in 2020 interest payments alone would amount to more than national-defense spending in that year. By 2023, interest payments alone would amount to more than all nondefense discretionary spending in that year.

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Politically and economically unsustainable.  Not one person in Congress voted for it.   

It does not stand a chance of being ratified into law, but it is worth noting the fact that the president of the United States has just proposed a budget that amounts to a national economic suicide pact. And he couldn’t even be bothered to do that on time. There may be a political case for his having done so, but as national economic leadership, this budget is grossly irresponsible.

Pew research reports US gun homicide rate down 49% over last 20 years 

Two takeaways from the WSJ piece on The Crucial Years for Protecting Your Eye Health:  By age 40, the lens of the eye gradually loses the ability to focus.  If you're buying off-the -shelf reading glasses, don't select the ones that appear to make things clearest.  It's probably a stronger prescription than your eyes need which can encourage their loss of focus to go faster.    Don't wear your reading glasses while using the computer because it may encourage your eyes to weaken faster.

Insurers predict 100% to 400% Obamacare rate explosion

New regulations, policies, taxes, fees and mandates are the reason for the unexpected "rate shock," according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which released a report Monday based on internal documents provided by the insurance companies. The 17 companies include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Foundation.

Iran is now chairing the UN Council on Disarmament.  Tossup as to whether that's more outrageous than Syria as chair of the UN Human Rights Committee

Americans are ditching driving Young people no longer see driving as freedom because they've only known driving as congestion.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2013

Has Democracy Had Its Day in the U.S.?

We are not passing on what we have been given.  The boomer generation never foresaw the consequences of "Never trust anyone over 30" that we are now living.  Little by little, we have betrayed the trust of the unwritten social compact between generations.  Everything has been politicized and our popular culture has become toxic.  There's been a cultural revolution and our general response has been indifference.    It all makes me want to weep.

Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, reflected on American education and What Our Kids Aren't Taught in a recent speech reflected  on ….

...the failure to impart our history and culture to our kids. He noted that only 22 percent of students scored proficient on a recent NAEP test on civics, and only 18 percent scored proficient in history. There are Americans, he said, with long bloodlines in this country who are nonetheless strangers to it, because no one had taken the time or the trouble to teach them that “In the long story of inhumanity and misery that is human history, the American achievement stands high and unique, and it’s worth knowing.

Donald Kagan, the 80 year old scholar of ancient Greece, in his farewell lecture at Yale University,"uncorked a biting critique of American higher education"  'Democracy May Have Had Its Day'

Democracy, wrote Mr. Kagan in "Pericles of Athens" (1991), is "one of the rarest, most delicate and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience." It relies on "free, autonomous and self-reliant" citizens and "extraordinary leadership" to flourish, even survive.  These kinds of citizens aren't born—they need to be educated.
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The Kagan thesis is bleak but not fatalistic. The fight to shape free citizens in schools, through the media and in the public square goes on. "There is no hope for anything if you don't have a population that buys into" a strong and free society, he says. "That can only be taught. It doesn't come in nature."

Students today are afraid to say anything that's politically incorrect.

Christina Hoff Sommers, author of “The War Against Boys,” explains how political correctness in our culture seeks to silence opposing views. Whether someone is making an argument that contradicts the prevailing doctrines of feminism, or that challenges the “victim culture” that permeates the educational system, Sommers says free speech is constantly being challenged on campus. But if students are afraid to express views that are unpopular, critical thinking is stifled and the nation suffers.

The genius of America is the rising above ethnic and religious identities with everyone sharing a national identity based on the values of individual liberty, dignity and equality as articulated in the Declaration of Independence.    Identity politics and political correctness are putting an end to that.  Higher education in America has become an " intellectual monoculture dedicated to identity politics."   

We need look no further than the report on Bowdoin to see

how progressive ideology has altered the character of American higher education. By focusing on just one college in detail, the authors capture the full context of how advocacy and ideology have significantly displaced the pursuit of truth and the cultivation of character.

The full report makes fascinating if discouraging reading.

We wouldn't have such an in-depth report if it were not for  The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World The tale of a teed-off philanthropist and the head of Bowdoin College, where identity politics runs wild.    Thomas Klingenstein, the teed-off philanthropist

commissioned researchers to examine Bowdoin's commitment to intellectual diversity, rigorous academics and civic identity. This week, some 18 months and hundreds of pages of documentation later, the project is complete. Its picture of Bowdoin isn't pretty.
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Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college's principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school's history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin's character changed dramatically for the worse…. the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
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The school's ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There's the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity.
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The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper's true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has "no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation." Even history majors aren't required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.

One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: "Affirmative Action and U.S. Society," "Fictions of Freedom," "Racism," "Queer Gardens" (which "examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces"), "Sexual Life of Colonialism" and "Modern Western Prostitutes."

Bit-sized Bowdoin report

Bowdoin, however, is presented as the stand-in for the whole category of highly selective old-line colleges that in recent decades have abandoned rigorous education in favor of winning over students to a progressive worldview. Lots of people, of course, have described and complained about this swap. But the NAS report is something brand new. No one until now has exposed the politicization of higher education in this kind of breadth and depth — by examining how it plays out at a single college. Nor has anyone before authors Peter Wood and Michael Toscano thought to mine a college’s own archives to substantiate charges of bias. With some thoughtful help from Wood and Toscano, Bowdoin virtually indicts itself.

Subverting Bowdoin

In late 60's or early 70's a great shift took place in American higher education. The idea that the students should all receive a basic grounding in history, government, social science, arts, and languages was discarded. Bowdoin abandoned its general education requirements in 1969. A deeply subversive and frankly weird ideology has become dominant in the trendier colleges. The ideology doesn't have an accepted name because the colleges deny that they have fundamentally changed their practices and beliefs. Sometimes it is described as an obsession with race, gender, and sex. It is characterized by political correctness. Orwellian misuse of language is practiced. An example is use of the word "diversity" to characterize aggressive discrimination in favor of certain racial groups and against others. Since racial discrimination is supposedly frowned upon or is illegal, they have to pretend it is something else. Many colleges suppress freedom of speech when the speech in question violates the canons of political correctness. The president of Harvard was fired for speculating out loud that women may be worse at math than men. Some things are unmentionable in academic company. At Hampshire College the speech code prohibited "psychological intimidation and harassment of any person or pet." Many colleges have speech codes that prohibit speech that might make someone else, especially members of favored minority groups, feel bad. However Hampshire seems to have been unique in attempting to protect the psychological well being of pets.
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Rather than bread and circuses, Bowdoin keeps its students occupied with alcohol, drugs, and sex.
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History majors at Bowdoin are not required to take any course in American History. Yale professor David Gelernter in his book America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture suggested this:

Teaching American history, aside from a few marvelously evil incidents out of context, is dangerous to a basic tenet of the cultural revolution and must accordingly be stopped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink

April 22, 2013

Is it as bad as all this?

Millions Of Americans Can't Handle The Stress Of Work Anymore

Think about how our culture is now structured for the average adult: STRESS, everywhere you look--commuting in horrible traffic, as you want to scream in frustration--money stress, to pay rent/house note, tuition, utilities, gas, insurances, vacations, cable bill, rising food costs, and on and on and on--stress from family problems, divorce, delinquency, drugs, crime, infidelity, keeping up with the Jones, etc.

People have too high an expectation of what they should have out of life, and get overly stressed over it all. How does all of this manifest itself? A prescription drug culture (Zoloft, Xanax, etc.) that tricks people into thinking a pill will knock back the stress, when these drugs, in my opinion, only make things worse.

I am hearing more and more that people just want to drop out from it all, as they are reaching a breaking point, and have decided less income and dependency on entitlements will reduce their stress, and is not so humiliating, so giving up working becomes more acceptable, to KEEP ONE’S SANITY.

Via Drudge, Americans "Snapping' by the Millions

Terrorism. Chaos. Fear of the future. In the age of Obama, America is undergoing a “fundamental transformation” – that much everyone knows.

But what few seem to realize about this transformation is that the sheer stress of living in today’s America is driving tens of millions to the point of illness, depression and self-destruction. Consider the following trends:

Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of injury death for Americans. Even more disturbing, in the world’s greatest military, more U.S. soldiers died last year by suicide than in combat;

Fully one-third of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.
Shocking new research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in five of all high-school-aged children in the United States has been diagnosed with ADHD, and likewise a large new study of New York City residents shows, sadly, that one in five preteens – children aged six to 12 – have been medically diagnosed with either ADHD, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder;

New research concludes that stress renders people susceptible to serious illness, and a growing number of studies now confirm that chronic stress plays a major role in the progression of cancer, the nation’s second-biggest killer. The biggest killer of all, heart disease, which causes one in four deaths in the U.S., is also known to have a huge stress component;

Incredibly, 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming correlation with school shooters. Women are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23 percent of all American women in their 40s and 50s – almost one in four – now taking antidepressants, according to a major study by the CDC;
Add to that the tens of millions of users of all other types of psychiatric drugs, including (just to pick one) the 6.4 million American children between 4 and 17 diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin or similar psycho-stimulants. Throw in the 28 percent of American adults with a drinking problem, that’s more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, and pretty soon a picture emerges of a nation of drug-takers, with hundreds of millions dependent on one toxic substance or another – legal or illegal – to “help” them deal with the stresses and problems of life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

The genius of America threatened

In Seeing Things Clear Jay Nordlinger reviews Bruce Bawer's new book, The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.”

For two centuries,“America accomplished something that would have previously seemed impossible: the creation, as Schlesinger put it, ‘of a brand-new national identity by individuals who, in forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives, melted away ethnic differences.’”
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To point out the “miraculous nature” of the American accomplishment, says Bawer,

is not to deny, among other things, the mistreatment of Native Americans and the blight of slavery and racism. It is simply to note that, in a world where violent intergroup enmity and conflict have been the rule rather than the exception, America found a way for increasingly diverse groups of people to live together not only in peace but with a strong sense of shared identity — an identity founded not on ethnicity but on a commitment to the values of individual liberty, dignity, and equality articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

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“The most disastrous by-product of the civil rights movement was multiculturalism, a philosophy that teaches, as Schlesinger put it, ‘that America is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups.’

The problem, to be sure, is not simply a pathological fixation on group identity, but a preoccupation with the historical grievances of certain groups, combined with a virulent hostility to America, which is consistently cast as the prime villain in the histories of these groups and the world at large. If you or I had set out to invent an ideology capable of utterly destroying the America of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the melting pot, we could scarcely have done better.

Bawer has compassion — probably more than I can muster — for those who peddle multiculti nonsense: “I find my heart going out to them. They’ve been trained to parrot jargon, to regurgitate bullet points about Western imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism — and to think that this is what it means to be educated.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Keeping track of the French Resistance

Nearly 15,000 French Mayors Will Refuse to Perform ‘Gay Marriages’

“It is foolish to think that the mobilization of the elected mayors would stop if the law is passed,” said Franck Meyer, spokesman for the association Mayors for Children. “As citizens, we elected officials will not give up,” he said in statements to the media.

Meyer, who is mayor of Sotteville-sous-le-Val in northern France, observed that some of the mayors in the group have said they “would resign if the law is adopted,” while others “have said they will refuse” to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.  On April 12, the French Senate passed the measure sponsored by President Hollande, but it has yet to go before the French National Assembly.

The Senate adopted the measure despite massive opposition from the public, including a demonstration attended by an estimated 1 million French citizens through the streets of Paris calling for the measure to be voted down.

Nathalie de Williencourt, a French lesbian and founder of one of the largest homosexual associations in France, said in January that most homosexual individuals in the country do not want “gay marriage” or the right to adopt children.

I am French, I am homosexual. The majority of homosexuals do not want either marriage or adoption, and we especially don’t want to be treated the same as heterosexuals because we are different,” she said. “We don’t want equality but we do want justice.

The French Resistance

And today, Tiberge writes:

It’s interesting how everyone feels that this time the protesters will pursue their goal until they have achieved what they want. I think it’s because for once we have a massive protest movement composed primarily of conservative people with moral and religious principles, a sense of pride in their great heritage and above all an awareness of the dangers hovering over France, not merely gay marriage, but the entire Socialist agenda. Usually the protesters in the street are the Socialists themselves demanding more gifts and creating mayhem. This time they are largely Catholics demanding justice for the primary human institution: the family. The winds have changed completely.

Galliawatch is keeping close track of the French protests.  In France Has Awakened At Last, she quotes a writer called Nemo

My word, they've gone mad! Marriage for everyone, the Cahuzac Affair, the ministers' bank accounts, family subsidies, Europe, judicial policies, crime, taxes… all fiascos, stink bombs, decisions made by people about whom one wonders if they escaped from an insane asylum….The result is that in less than a year, President Normal, through his dogmatic and imbecilic decisions, his petty plots, and his obvious lack of breadth, has led France to a clearly insurrectional state! Never, no matter how far back you go in French history, have we seen such chaos, and above all, above all, never have the French had to such a degree the feeling that the captain, with his entire crew, had abandoned ship, and that only passengers bound for perdition remained on board.
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both Left and Right surreptitiously reduced us to moral and spiritual bankruptcy by systematically destroying, in the name of a laïcité that no one understands and a "social model" that no other country wanted, the moral and national values that have fashioned the identity of France and Frenchmen for almost two thousand years

French gay marriage opponents stage last-ditch protest in Paris before vote

 French Protest April 21 2013
Thousands of gay marriage opponents waving pink and blue flags marched through Paris on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed on Tuesday.

Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.

Tim Stanley at the London Telegraph writes  French police assault a priest protesting gay marriage.  This debate is bigger and uglier than the mainstream media admits

A video surfaced yesterday of a confrontation between police and Catholic protestors that began when the latter refused to vacate the space they were using for their demonstration. Around 4 minutes in a young man is thrown to the ground. A priest appears to come to his aid and refuses to let go of him. The cops drag the couple apart and pull the priest towards their vans. Around 4.41 you can clearly see one of the policemen kick the cleric in the head. Blink and you’ll miss it, but I’m sure he felt it all the same. Sadly, this scene has not been unique. This newspaper has reported the use of tear gas on crowds and I’ve received anecdotal reports of children maced and protesters beaten. Much of it can only be found on Catholic blogs and ultra conservative websites – but it’s there in blood red for all to see.
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Why has the French resistance to same sex marriage been bigger and smarter than its British counterpart? It might have something to do with the lingering influence of Catholicism in France or the relative rate of decay of the family structure in the UK. But I suspect it’s mostly down to the French passion for ideas. In Britain, the debate over gay marriage quickly descended into one side wheeling out anecdotes about love and companionship and the other side resorting to barely concealed bigotry. By contrast, France is seriously debating the social and legal revolution that gay marriage represents. The law will doubtless pass, but at least it has been contested with emotion and intellect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2013

Thank God he was still a smoker

At the six 'o' clock presser of the FBI and law enforcement teams, the chief of the state police admitted “Unfortunately we don’t have a positive result at this point."

Governor Patrick Deval lifted 'stay-in-place' lockdown, saying "You can go back out as long as you are vigilant"

So Dave Hanneberry from Watertown went outside for a smoke

 Dave Henneberry

Henneberry was quietly smoking when he noticed the tarp that covered his 22-foot pleasure cruiser — a white Seahawk with blue trim and a fiberglass hull — was askew and walked over to investigate, said his stepson Robert Duffy.

“He went over and saw the tarp was dislodged and then he saw that one of the straps was hanging loose. He picked it up and saw it had been cut. He found it incredibly odd,” said Duffy.

Henneberry got a small ladder, climbed up to reach the boat deck and flipped back his tarp, said Duffy.

“He lifted it up and saw a pool of blood. And then he saw what he thought was a body,” said Duffy.

He jumped off the ladder and ran inside, dialing 911 as he went.

Within minutes, cops descended on Franklin St

 Franklinst. Watertown

 Cops Watertown-1

Then capture!

 Captured

Jubilation

 Police Jubilant

Celebration

 Celebrate Boston Capture-1

Nightmare over.  Except for the dead and maimed and their families.

 Bglobe Nightmare's End

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

April 17, 2013

Feminist mugged by reality

A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast
Unsubstantiated accusations against my son by a former girlfriend landed him before a nightmarish college tribunal.

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice's looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

What did she find in this world turned upside down and inside out?

Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence .
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These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as "a preponderance of the evidence."
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the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?
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my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room.
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The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant.
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witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.
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I  fear that in the current climate the goal of "women's rights," with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2013

Kermit Gosnell trial finally getting attention of more people

Unexpectedly, the trial of Kermit Gosnell and his house of horrors is finally breaking through to widespread coverage, at least in the alternative media.

For reporters who are stuck on how to approach the story, The Anchoress offers a Media Assist: Easy, Logical, Fair Angles to Pursue on Gosnell Story .  Here are a few:

***Nail salons and Tattoo shops are inspected twice year; Gosnell’s practice had not been inspected in 17 years. Why were inspections suspended? Is it common for abortion clinics to be bypassed? Does that not encourage unsafe, unsanitary conditions to flourish?

***Would Gosnell have severed baby feet and kept them like trophies if he had any fear of surprise inspections? Could regular inspections have saved women’s lives? Did political pressure from abortion advocates precipitate end of inspections, limited regulations?

***Poor, minority women were anesthetized by untrained 15 year-olds, and frequently delivered their late-term (often living) babies into toilets, with no doctor present. At trial testimony we hear, “white women got more and better treatment”. How does this speak to the treatment of underprivileged women. Could this sort of treatment every be ignored if it touched monied white women? If there is a “war on women” isn’t this a trench worth fighting in?

***How does Gosnell’s apparent disregard for minorities connect to Margaret Sanger’s genocidal desires to decimate minority populations?

Dr. Dwight Longnecker writes in America's Holocaust Deniers

Here is the thing which worries me even more deeply. If the media can stay silent about this, what else are they staying silent about? What else do we not know? If they can stay silent on this, what else will they stay silent about in the future? When people are taken away in the night who will say anything? When there are legal detention camps who will object? When people start to disappear who will say anything at all? Who will know?

Journalists used to report news. Now they have become mouthpieces for the ideologues who are running this country. The secular mainstream press in the USA are now no different than the government owned propaganda machines in the Soviet Union. If the mainstream media cannot report on the Gosnell case then shame, shame, shame on them. They are a disgrace to their profession–cowards and holocaust deniers.

David Weigel writes in Kermit Gosnell: The Alleged Mass-Murderer and the Bored Media

If you're pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report. "DOH could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before," write the investigators. Why wasn't it? Were state regulators nervous about igniting a political fight about abortion? Is the regulatory system incompetent or under-funded? And are there other states where the same could be said? Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story. Maybe it's not a raw political story. It's just the story of a potential mass murderer who operated for decades as government regulators did nothing.

It's Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic who makes the biggest turnaround in one day.  Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story

Until Thursday, I wasn't aware of this story. It has generated sparse coverage in the national media, and while it's been mentioned in RSS feeds to which I subscribe, I skip past most news items. I still consume a tremendous amount of journalism. Yet had I been asked at a trivia night about the identity of Kermit Gosnell, I would've been stumped and helplessly guessed a green Muppet. Then I saw Kirsten Power's USA Today column. She makes a powerful, persuasive case that the Gosnell trial ought to be getting a lot more attention in the national press than it is getting.

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He goes to some length in detailing just what was in the Grand Jury Report

The grand jury report in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I've read. "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors," it states. "The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths."

He finds many stories, any one of which would be a blockbuster news story

For this isn't solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines?

But it isn't even solely a story of a rogue clinic that's awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions!

Jonah Goldberg reads the The Gosnell Grand Jury Report too.

Having now read the Gosnell grand-jury report, I must say I’m extremely impressed with how well-written it is. Yes, the underlying facts are horrifying and disgusting. But it reads like some of the best journalism. Is that typical?  Here’s the opening overview:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.
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The “Women’s Medical Society” - That was the impressive-sounding name of the clinic operated in West Philadelphia, at 38th and Lancaster, by Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D. Gosnell seemed impressive as well. A child of the neighborhood, Gosnell spent almost four decades running this clinic, giving back – so it appeared – to the community in which he continued to live and work.

But the truth was something very different, and evident to anyone who stepped  inside. The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.


Even Buzzfeed reports on the Shocking Revelations From The “House Of Horrors” Trial

Make no mistake, Kermit Gosnell Is Not an Outlier

The horrible truth that the National Abortion Federation or Planned Parenthood or any other abortion apologist wants to hide is that Kermit Gosnell is not an outlier. Earlier this year, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher died when “something went wrong” with an abortion of her unborn child. The woman was reportedly 33 weeks pregnant. And the doctor who performed this abortion, a full two months after the 24-week viability line, was the celebrated — and I do mean celebrated — Dr. Leroy Carhart.
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There’s very little difference between what Carhart does on a regular basis and what Kermit Gosnell stands on trial for. In one federal trial on the federal partial-birth-abortion ban, one abortionist testified (under a court-imposed cloak of anonymity) that his regular practice in late-term abortions was to decapitate a partially born child.
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While the pro-abortion industry appears embarrassed by the Gosnell trial, they’ve held Carhart up as their hero. Carhart was awarded the 2009 William K. Rashbaum, MD, Abortion Provider Award by Physicians for Reproductive Health — because there’s nothing like dying on the table to advance a woman’s health. Oh, and NARAL Pro-Choice America (which no longer stands for National Abortion Rights Action League, given that some people might think that name icky) gave him its Hero Award in the same year. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink

Gosnell trial and the "Monster of Bureaucratic Neglect"

The latest news from the Gosnell trial is that a 15-year-old intern at the  Gosnell clinic administered intravenous medication,  assisted in abortions and her mother helped get her the job.  Teen intern at Gosnell clinic recalls hearing aborted fetus 'screeching'

Baldwin also told the jury about seeing at least five aborted babies moving, breathing, and, in one case, "screeching" after late-term procedures at the clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.
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Baldwin said one baby was so big that Gosnell joked that "this baby is going to walk me home."
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Ashley Baldwin said she assisted Gosnell in abortions, applying pressure to the mother's abdomen, handing the doctor instruments and equipment.
She said she also saw Gosnell use scissors to "snip" the neck of newborns who were moving after the procedure.

Although she sometimes felt uneasy about what she saw, Baldwin said, Gosnell always had an explanation: "He told me that's how it was supposed to go."
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She said he told her she was working legally because, as a doctor, he had "grandfathered her in."
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Ashley Baldwin has not been charged with any crime. Tina Baldwin, 47, has pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, and corrupting a minor - her daughter.


From Get Religion is this photo of seats reserved for the media in a post about a Washington Post reporter who explained she doesn't cover 'local crime'.

So when a private foundation privately decides to stop giving money to the country’s largest abortion provider, that is somehow a policy issue deserving of three dozen breathless hits. When a yahoo political candidate says something stupid about rape, that is a policy issue of such import that we got another three dozen hits about it from this reporter. It was so important that journalists found it fitting to ask every pro-lifer in their path to discuss it. And when someone says something mean to a birth control activist, that’s good for months of puffy profiles.

 Gosnellmediaseating

The picture above, for what it’s worth, is of the reserved media seats at the Gosnell trial. It was taken by JD Mullane, a news writer and columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times, The Intel and the Burlington County (NJ) Times. He says:

Sat through a full day of testimony at the Kermitt Gosnell trial today. It is beyond the most morbid Hollywood horror. It will change you.
I was surprised by the picture and asked “really?” He responded “Local press was there, Inky, PhillyMag, NBC10 blogger. Court staff told me nobody else has shown up.”

Ace comments

This story exposes faultlines between Democrats, who are by political necessity abortion absolutists, and Independents, who may lean somewhat pro-choice but sure the hell aren't on board for infanticide. But to report this story at all would put the Democrats in the difficult position of angering its an element of its hardcore single-issue leftist coalition, or alienating independents.

Thus, the media -- which just "wants to report the facts" and "takes no positions on policy questions" and which has no partisan leaning at all -- simply doesn't report the story at all.

After all, if the public hears of it, they may make The Wrong Decisions.

You don't trust children with matches and you don't trust the American public with information. It's that simple.

Horrifying Illegal Abortion Clinic Wasn't Inspected For 17 Years Due To Pro-Choice Policy

72-year-old Kermit Gosnell has been charged with killing seven babies and accused of killing hundreds in gruesome and illegal late-term abortions.
Prosecutors claim Gosnell "snipped" the necks of viable babies and exploited low-income, immigrant women who couldn't get abortions anywhere else.
Gosnell — who wasn't licensed to practice obstetrics and gynecology — is also accused of giving women venereal diseases by using dirty instruments, and of causing the death of a 41-year-old immigrant from Nepal.

The clinic was not inspected from 1993 to 2010, when FBI agents finally raided the place. They found moaning women covered in blood-stained blankets and jars with severed fetus feet, according to the 281-page grand jury report.

The grand jury report that lays out allegations against Gosnell has an entire section called "How did this go on so long?" The simple answer is politics.

The "monster of bureaucratic neglect"

Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society might still be in operation today had the doctor’s lucrative side practice — dispensing “fake prescriptions” for painkillers such as Oxycontin — not brought him to the attention of prosecutors in the first place.

Here’s some of what I wrote in “A Philadelphia Story”:

In the years since Roe, as the Philadelphia grand-jury report exhaustively details, a bureaucratic double standard on abortion policy spawned layers of “official neglect,” amounting to “utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable.” Why was this allowed to happen? “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion,” the jurors concluded. (The occasional white student or woman from the suburbs who found her way to Gosnell’s clinic, however, got special attention from the doctor himself and “did not have to wait in the same dirty rooms as black and Asian clients.”)

The “grand jury report is scathing about the failures of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.” Section VI, titled “How Did This Go On So Long?” and running 80 pages, is indeed a scathing indictment: of the state’s health department, which, it charges, “has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers”; of Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which ignored complaints about Gosnell and “failed to investigate a 22-year-old patient’s death caused by [his] recklessness”; of Philadelphia’s Health Department, whose employees “ignored the serious — and obvious — threat to public health posed by Gosnell’s clinic”; and finally, of “fellow doctors who observed the results of Gosnell’s reckless and criminal practices,” when his injured victims sought treatment at nearby hospitals, and “failed to report him to authorities.”

Curiously, while the grand jury recommended indictments for Gosnell and several of his staff, it did not do so for any public employee, despite adducing that “the [state] Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design” (their emphasis).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

The Return of Eugenics

"In vitro eugenics" straight from Brave New World.  Creative Minority Report

After reading "In vitro eugenics" by Dr. Robert Sparrow in the Journal of Medical Ethics, I have to agree. Dr. Sparrow explores the possibility of creating embryos in the lab, then using the stem cells from those embryos to create egg and sperm cells, and then using those gametes to create more embryos. Essentially, this would take human reproduction into the laboratory not just for one generation, but for generation after generation. These embryos would be "orphaned at conception." They "would have no genetic parents: there would be no living individual—or indeed individual that had ever lived—who could be described as the genetic progenitor of such embryos." Sparrow calls this "in vitro eugenics":

The Return of Eugenics - Crisis magazine

Events have since made the word eugenics distasteful, but not the notion. The idea of human perfection via managed procreation is back and stronger than ever, at least in the academy. Now instead of forcible sterilization, the call is for fetal genetic testing and selective abortion. Race is no longer the marker of unfitness; having incorrect thoughts or unwelcome moral attitudes and genetic unworthiness are.

Early eugenicists embraced contraception. In 1921 Margaret Sanger argued birth control was “not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal, with the final aims of Eugenics.”
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David DeGrazia, tenured at George Washington University, who in the Journal of Medical Ethics recently advocated creating a master race via programmatic “moral bioenhancement.” ….

He disfavors letting emerge from the womb those whose DNA codes for “moral cynicism” (he cites tax cheats), those not wanting to contribute “one’s fair share,” those with “defective empathy,” those who suffer “a failure of insight or motivation,” including those not wanting to donate more than 1% of the USA’s GDP to foreign governments (yes, truly). Who decides on the list of desirable and therefore allowable traits? Well, people like DeGrazia, though he concedes “it might make sense to permit parents to adopt more debatable visions of morality—among reasonable alternatives.”
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As is plain, the leading new-eugenics organ is the Journal of Medical Ethics, edited by Julian Savulescu (tenured, St Cross College, Oxford), self-appointed champion of genetic tinkering. … He claims, “We now know that most psychological characteristics are significantly determined by certain genes,” like, the “COMT gene” which selects for altruism (new-eugenicists really go for altruism). If you want your child “to be faithful and enjoy stable relationships” then abort him if he has “a variant of AVPR1.” Kill him, too, if he’s saddled with “a certain type of the MA0A gene” which is “linked to higher levels of violence in children who often suffer abuse or deprivation.”
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New-eugenicists aren’t claiming definitiveness, however. They know that gene-behavior connections are correlational and that behavior is difficult to unambiguously define. They know they’re using the “loaded-dice” argument such that aborting those with or without approved genes only increases the chances of desired behaviors, but doesn’t guarantee them. They know the correlations are weak, but they claim they’re good enough.

Scientists Want to Scavenge Aborted Fetal Eggs

By the way, it isn’t IVF for which the eggs will be required, but human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning requires a human egg for each try and eggs are in short supply. Indeed, I have frequently noted that the technology has been held back by what I call the “egg dearth.” 
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But if they can get unlimited eggs from dead fetuses and women, cloning will not only be successfully performed (which, I predicted, will happen this year) but eventually perfected and put to concerted use. Then, it is on to all the Brave New World technologies–such as genetic engineering–that require cloning to develop.

Killing the fetuses and keeping their ovaries alive. That makes the scientists complicit in the abortions. Think about what we are becoming.

Eugenics Threat Growing in IVF Industry

Dr. Robert Sparrow, of Monash University in Australia, who wrote last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics that the time has come to open a debate on “in vitro eugenics”
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Dr. Sparrow, who is broadly in favour of the idea, suggested that artificial gametes could be used to speed up the rate at which human generations turn over, producing two or three generations of improved human beings, free of “unsatisfactory genes,” in a single year.

“In effect,” he writes, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”

Such a breeding program, he said, “would give future eugenicists a power undreamed of by governments and would-be genetic reformers of the past.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

I didn't know that

Progressive Racism - the hundredth anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the civil service

One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to the North
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Wilson, our first professorial president, was a case in point. He was the very model of a modern Progressive, and he was recognized as such. He prided himself on having pioneered the new science of rational administration, and he shared the conviction, dominant among his brethren, that African-Americans were racially inferior to whites. With the dictates of Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement in mind, in 1907, he campaigned in Indiana for the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded; and in 1911, while governor of New Jersey, he proudly signed into law just such a bill.

Prior to the segregation of the civil service in 1913, appointments had been made solely on merit as indicated by the candidate’s performance on the civil-service examination. Thereafter, racial discrimination became the norm. Photographs came to be required at the time of application, and African-Americans knew they would not be hired. The existing work force was segregated. Many African-Americans were dismissed. In the postal service, others were transferred to the dead-letter office, where they had no contact with the general public. Those who continued to work in municipal post offices labored behind screens — out of sight and out of mind. When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Independent Political League objected to the new policy, Wilson — a Presbyterian elder who was nothing if not high-minded — vigorously defended it, arguing that segregation was in the interest of African-Americans. For 35 years, segregation in the civil service would be public policy. It was only after Adolf Hitler gave eugenics and “scientific racism” a bad name that segregation came to seem objectionable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 PM | Permalink

"We have forgotten what belongs on Page 1"

We have forgotten what belongs on Page 1 by Kirsten Powers

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven't heard about these sickening accusations?
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Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, "described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body." One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his "snipping" technique to use on infants born alive.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified "It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place."
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none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months….The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial's first day. They've been silent ever since,
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You don't have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being "pro-choice" or "pro-life." It's about basic human rights.

The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

The New York Post editorializes on Dead Silence

Which makes the media blackout of one ongoing trial a mystery. Or maybe not.

In Philadelphia, Kermit Gosnell is on trial on eight counts of murder: seven for babies he’s accused of killing with scissors after they were born, and one for a pregnant refugee who died after receiving an overdose of drugs. If true, Gosnell was running a slaughterhouse out of the Middle Ages.
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The reason seems obvious: Much of our press corps skews to one side on abortion. So even though what Gosnell is charged with is closer to infanticide — an unlicensed abortionist profiting mightily by killing the newborn babies of poor, minority women — somehow it’s not news.

What Dead Kids?

There used to be a formulation of cynical news editors to determine American news priorities for mass murder. It ran something like: 1,000 dead Bangladeshis = 100 dead Italians = 10 dead Americans.

So how many dead American babies does it take to make the news?…The U.S. media’s unanimous agreement to see no evil is sick and totalitarian.

I have been following the trial on the London Daily Mail where I learned about one of the workers who testified snipping babies' spines after they were born was 'standard procedure' to bring about 'fetal demise'.   

She said she took a baby that had been delivered in a toilet in the second trimester - between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy - and saw its arm move before she snipped its spine, ….'I only do what I’m told to do,' she told the jury. 'What I was told to do was snip their neck.'
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Gosnell, 72, is charged with murdering seven babies at Philadelphia Women's Medical Society and with the death of a woman, who suffered cardiac arrest after she was given too much anesthesia.
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Like many of Gosnell's employees, Williams was desperate for work when he gave her a job.  She had a poor education and had not even finished eighth grade, although went on to work as an instrument sterilizer. During this job, she met Gosnell who performed abortions at the clinic.

But her life began spiralling out of control when her husband was murdered in 2008 and she was diagnosed with bipolar and depression. She asked Gosnell if he had any work for her.  He hired her to sterilize instrument and soon asked her to carry out ultrasounds, administering intravenous medication and anesthesia to patients.
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She told the jury that Gosnell changed paperwork on patients that were too heavily pregnant to undergo an abortion so that they appeared to be less than 24 weeks - the legal time limit.

She added that pain medication was sometimes out of date or did not work - and she would see Gosnell 'smack' the legs of women who squirmed, leaving his hand print behind.
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Other employees have described how they saw about 100 babies born alive and then 'snipped'.  Some told the court of gruesome scenes at the clinic which was allegedly found dirty and rundown with rusting surgical instruments.

A Grand Jury report said the clinic was crawling with cats and reeking of animal urine and feces. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood and instruments were not properly sterilized.  Disturbingly, the report alleged that fetal remains were stuffed into: 'cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs'.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:46 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2013

Perpetuating America's Ruling Class

Ross Douthat stirred up a hornet's nest when he revealed The Secrets of Princeton and how our elites continue to perpetuate their status and all the privileges and perks that result from being 'the best and the brightest.'

SUSAN PATTON, the Princeton alumna who became famous for her letter urging Ivy League women to use their college years to find a mate, has been denounced as a traitor to feminism, to coeducation, to the university ideal. But really she’s something much more interesting: a traitor to her class.

Her betrayal consists of being gauche enough to acknowledge publicly a truth that everyone who’s come up through Ivy League culture knows intuitively — that elite universities are about connecting more than learning, that the social world matters far more than the classroom to undergraduates, and that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class.

Every elite seeks its own perpetuation, of course, but that project is uniquely difficult in a society that’s formally democratic and egalitarian and colorblind. And it’s even more difficult for an elite that prides itself on its progressive politics, its social conscience, its enlightened distance from hierarchies of blood and birth and breeding.

Thus the importance, in the modern meritocratic culture, of the unacknowledged mechanisms that preserve privilege, reward the inside game, and ensure that the advantages enjoyed in one generation can be passed safely onward to the next.

The intermarriage of elite collegians is only one of these mechanisms — but it’s an enormously important one. The outraged reaction to her comments notwithstanding, Patton wasn’t telling Princetonians anything they didn’t already understand. Of course Ivy League schools double as dating services. Of course members of elites — yes, gender egalitarians, the males as well as the females — have strong incentives to marry one another, or at the very least find a spouse from within the wider meritocratic circle. What better way to double down on our pre-existing advantages? What better way to minimize, in our descendants, the chances of the dread phenomenon known as “regression to the mean”?

That this “assortative mating,” in which the best-educated Americans increasingly marry one another, also ends up perpetuating existing inequalities seems blindingly obvious, which is no doubt why it’s considered embarrassing and reactionary to talk about it too overtly.

Walter Russell Mead  Elites Close Ranks Around Ivy League Intermarriage

The first rule of the meritocratic elite is: you don’t talk about the meritocratic elite.

Today’s blue meritocracy, the degenerate descendant of the upper middle class Progressives of the early 20th century, has a problem: it is formally committed to ideas like equality, social justice and an open society, but what it really wants to do is to protect its own power and privilege. The Ivy League system of elite colleges is a key element in the system of exclusion and privilege that helps perpetuate both the power of the American elite and its comforting delusion that because elite status is based on ‘merit’ it is therefore legitimate.

At Via Meadia, we strongly believe that this elite needs its wings clipped and that America needs to become a more open society with more power at the grass roots and less concentrated among a small group of smug narcissists from the “right” schools with the “right” ideas. We think some kind of “national bac”, a set of exams that could allow students from all over the country to compete on the basis of what they actually know as opposed to which admissions officers they were able to impress at age 17, would help reduce the Ivy League bias that is poisoning American society. The kid who goes to Princeton and “networks” for four years sucking up to famous professors and polishing the “right ideas” and making the “right” friends currently has an almost infinite advantage over the poor schmuck who goes to Ohio State and studies hard; there ought to be a way that the Princeton kid can be exposed as an empty polo shirt and the Ohio State kid get recognized as a serious person.
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Our elite is broken and our system of recruiting and training elites is broken. If something doesn’t change, the ruin will spread..

As a graduate of an Ivy League college with many friends also Ivy League grads, I can personally testify to the appalling sense of privilege many have and the disdain they have for other Americans. 

No one has better decoded our elites than Angelo Codevilla in his  brilliant 2010 essay entitled America's Ruling Class- - - And the Perils of Revolution , 

Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust…..Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct.

Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation’s paradigm that “all men are created equal”?

Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. .Our ruling class’s standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government — meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class’s solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

April 2, 2013

"What's wrong with wanting to be happy sooner?"

Hard-core feminists are on the decline, even on the run and not soon enough for me.  I'm tired of the scolds and their plan for how women and men should live their lives.  I'm sick of the way so many will insult and denigrate women who refuse to follow the feminist orthodoxy.  The women in revolt against a toxic, sexualized culture who don't want to be 'empowered sexually' but value modesty and chastity in themselves and others.  The women who want to get married and have children and sacrifice for their welfare.  The women who don't want to juggle a high-paced career anymore, but want to stay home with their young children.    The women who don't see a successful career as the be-all and end-all of life.  The women who don't believe that sexual differences are culturally determined, but are inherent in biology, even in the wiring of the brain.  The women who love men, want them to flourish and glory in the difference between the sexes. 

Of course, I'm happy that women who want to have successful careers can do so.    But overall, the advice feminists give young women is bad advice.  Too many young women do not know just how important love and family is to a 'successful' , fulfilling, well-lived life.  That sleeping around for a decade or two does serious psychological damage and impairs a woman's ability to give and receive love.  That their choice of  a mate is the most important decision they will ever make and that it's much better to marry and have children earlier than later.  That having a child outside of marriage just because you want one is far too often detrimental to the child and to the greater society.

Just a couple of weeks ago, New York magazine ran a piece by Lisa Miller called The Retro Wife  that attracted an enormous amount of attention because it signaled a major shift in the way people speak about feminism.  They are talking like reasonable adults and questioning feminist dogma.

Feminism has fizzled, its promise only half-fulfilled.
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The revolution that Friedan helped to spark both liberated women and allowed countless numbers of them to experience financial pressure and the profound dissatisfactions of the workaday grind. More women than ever earn some or all of the money their family lives on. But today, in the tumultuous 21st-century economy, depending on a career as a path to self-actualization can seem like a sucker’s bet.
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Now Kelly is 33, and if dreams were winds, you might say that hers have shifted. She believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men, and that no amount of professional success could possibly console her if she felt her two young children—­Connor, 5, and Lillie, 4—were not being looked after the right way. The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Even The New Republic has  Sympathy for the Stay-at-Home Mom: It's about work hours

To reject a high-flying career, as this man did and so many women have done, is not to reject aspiration; it is to refuse to succumb to a kind of madness.

Christina Hoff Sommers in the Atlantic asks in  What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences

What if difference between men and women turns out to be a phenomenon not of oppression, but rather of social well-being?

Dr. Janice Fiamengo (an English professor at the University of Ottawa and former radical feminist) denounced women’s studies and said “The women’s studies crowd looked constipated”

She referenced the male to female death ratio on the Titanic, and declared that “self sacrifice and heroism are not exclusive to men,” “but they are distinctive to men.” Students scowled behind their wayfarers. She railed against affirmative action, a family court system skewed unjustly to favor mothers over fathers, and the deep vein of anti-Western sentiment running through academic feminism that makes it okay to decry gender inequality in the West, and keep quiet about vaginal mutilation and honor killings in the East.

James Taranto  wrote a couple of weeks ago,

Feminism was in part a failure of wit. It mistook fiction for reality and thought men really were dominant. Now, increasingly, men are redundant, women are overburdened, and what pass for families are producing fewer and worse-developed children. It's gotten so bad that even the New York Times and Third Way are beginning to notice. Alas, the situation probably will have to get worse still before it can get better.

He was referring to the NYT article, Study of Men's Falling Income Cites Single Parents  reporting on a new Third Way study

A new gender gap has emerged--one where girls and young women outperform boys and young men in both education and key aspects of the workforce. This gap could be as much about social family structure as it is about economic forces like the demise of labor unions, globalization, and rapid changes in technology. Authors David Autor and Melanie Wasserman make the case that the decline in male achievement is almost exclusively reserved for males born into single-parent households; while females in single-parent households do OK, boys seem to suffer.

The latest reasonable adult to speak out is Susan Patton, the "feminist pioneer that today's feminists hate".  James Taranto writes  Susan Patton Told the Truth 

In 1973 she was admitted to Princeton University as part of only the fifth coeducational class in the school's history. It took some bravery for the young Miss Patton to go to Princeton, for she was not a legacy and was anything but a daughter of privilege. As she explained in a 2006 article for Princeton Alumni Weekly, her mother was a survivor of Auschwitz, a German death camp in Poland; her father, of Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany. After the war they settled in the Bronx.

On Friday this feminist pioneer found herself transformed into a feminist hate object after the Daily Princetonian student newspaper published her letter to the editor. The paper's website has been overwhelmed by traffic, so with Patton's permission we're reprinting the letter in full:
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Here's what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.
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Smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again--you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Stuart Schneiderman writes Susan Patton Threatens the Hookup Culture

Her advice went viral. True believing feminists were horrified. They threw themselves into such high dudgeon that you thought they had seen a witch.  If you had ever been tempted to believe that contemporary feminism is about giving women the freedom to choose the way they conduct their lives, this episode will hopefully cure you.

If demonstration were needed, the Patton kerfuffle shows unmistakably that feminism wants to dictate the way women live their lives. In less flattering terms, they want to own young women’s lives.  Feminists are happy to allow young women to participate in all manner of self-destructive behavior as long as they do not commit  the greatest crime against the feminism. That would be: marrying young.

Patton addressed herself to the daughters she never had and told them that their years at Princeton were a golden opportunity to snag a great husband. To her mind, Princeton men were great husband material. Nearly all of them are available.  A bright and nubile young coed should take advantage of the fact that the younger she is the more choice she will have. Thus,  the younger she is the more power she has in the dating marketplace.    Suggesting that as women age the pool of eligible men shrinks, Patton recommends that these women make Princeton a happy husband hunting ground.

Even the Boston Globe has this Princeton Alum Susan Patton Might Be Crazy, But Her Advice Isn't -

Why are we so reluctant to admit that it is hard to find eligible men (and women?) to marry? Why are people afraid to admit that, OK, the world of dating is sometimes thrilling and fun … but quite often, horrible and lonely? What's wrong with wanting to meet someone in college, presumably someone with whom you have shared experiences and stuff in common, and opt out of dealing with the crappy dates, the mystery texts, and the questioning looks from Auntie Mildred at the Thanksgiving table? And more to the point: What's wrong with wanting to be happy, sooner? -
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Sometimes you really do have to be strategic in the hunt. That isn't retro; it's calculating, practical, maybe protective


Jane Austen knew that.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2013

Tech roundup: intelligent goo, Google Glass, Perforene and privacy no more

The blob of virtual goo that can calculate the quickest travel routes… and could help your online deliveries arrive faster

'Intelligent' goo created by scientists at University of the West of England is placed in a petri dish with dots representing destinations and cities
The Goo clings to the dots as it shrinks - revealing shortest connecting routes.  This simple system could be used to help configure delivery routes in the future

From Earth and Sky, an amazing time-lapse video of auroras as a coronal mass ejection from the sun hits Earth's magnetic field.

Japan breaks China's stranglehold on rare metals with sea-mud bonanza

Japanese scientists have found vast reserves of rare earth metals on the Pacific seabed that can be mined cheaply, a discovery that may break the Chinese monopoly on a crucial raw material needed in hi-tech industries and advanced weapons systems.


How the Internet is Making Us Poor
by  replacing knowledge workers with software.

Sixty percent of the jobs in the US are information-processing jobs,….Economist Andrew McAfee, Brynjolfsson’s co-author, has called these displaced people “routine cognitive workers.” Technology, he says, is now smart enough to automate their often repetitive, programmatic tasks. ”We are in a desperate, serious competition with these machines,” concurs Larry Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University. “It seems like the machines are taking over all possible jobs.”
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Web pioneer and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen describes this process as “software is eating the world.” As he wrote in an editorial (paywall) for the Wall Street Journal, “More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense.”

Lockheed Martin Says This Desalination Technology Is An Industry Game-Changer.  Uses graphene  (Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material).

The film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply "pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind," John Stetson, the chief technologist at Lockheed for this initiative .
Lockheed anticipates that their filters will be able to provide clean drinking water "at a fraction of the cost of industry-standard reverse osmosis systems," their press release says. Water-poor regions of the world will be the first to benefit.

The perforated graphene is aptly called Perforene which  has a smoky grey-color film that is translucent, even though its carbon, because it is so thin. It's also about 1,000 times stronger than steel, but still has a permeability that is about 100 times greater than the best competitive membrane out in the market, said Stetson.
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The great news is that this technology is not just limited to desalination plants. It can potentially be used for pharmaceutical filtration, dialysis, and gas separation, to a name a few other uses.

Google's sinister glasses will turn the whole world into search giant's spies

But of all the promised features of these spectacular specs, it is the glasses’ ability to take pictures and shoot video footage and upload it instantly to the internet that is proving most disturbing.  Some fear candid camera snooping will become all too easy when no one realizes that the person simply looking in their direction is actually filming them.
And it gets worse.

According to Google  co-founder Sergey Brin, the company plans to have Google Glass fitted with an automatic picture-taking mode, snapping photos at pre-set intervals. This could be as often as every five seconds.  While people may rightly worry about being photographed without their knowledge or permission, such fears pale into insignificance when you consider the true extent of the insidious reach of Google Glass.

Time and again, Google has proved that it has no time for that quaint old concept called ‘privacy’.

No more passwords! Smartphones could soon be unlocked by face and fingerprint recognition

Apple is preparing to abolish passwords in favor of fingerprint recognition.  The Technology could also be used to access bank accounts and email accounts

The Internet is a surveillance state by Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN

The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.
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This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.
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And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant.

Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:45 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2013

Sex Abuse at the BBC and in Public School System

Walter Russell Mead on the Sex Abuse Scandals Rocking the BBC

A massive sex scandal has just hit the BBC with the publication of a new book accusing two former Doctor Who producers of using their power to take advantage of underage fans throughout the 1980s. ….. this story is emerging shortly after accusations that longtime BBC television host Jimmy Savile molested as many as 450 people in his lifetime, making him one of the UK’s “most prolific sex offenders,”
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The more we hear about what was going on in the era of sexual liberation, the more the Catholic  scandals look like a symptom of the times rather than a special pathology of the Church. The BBC was apparently a hotbed of abuse for underage female and male fans, and revelations about abuse in schools, the Boy Scouts, Jewish organizations and other institutions in which adults regularly interact with youth keep coming to light.

It’s almost enough to make a person think that when a society casts sexual restraint and self control to the winds, the young and the weak become victims of a culture of exploitation and gratification. It’s almost enough to make someone wonder if unbridled and socially glorified libertinism rather than celibacy is the leading cause of the sexual exploitation of minors.

What if the Press Covered the Public School System in the US the Way it Covers the Catholic Church?

Sexual abuse is far more rampant in public schools than in the church, citing that The figures suggest “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,” said Shakshaft, according to Education Week.  Read the full report issued in 2004.

teachers guilty of sexual misconduct who can not be terminated from their lucrative contracts  at a time that so many local municipalities struggle to make budgetary ends meet.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:02 PM | Permalink

March 26, 2013

We spend more on Disability Insurance than food stamps and welfare combined

An astonishing fact.  The federal government now spends more on disability than food stamps and welfare combined.

In 2009, DI began paying out more in benefits than it took in from payroll taxes. By 2016, it is set to run out of money.

Two factors are driving the program's explosive growth: first, newly liberalized eligibility standards. …heart disease was the top cause of DI awards in 1961. Today, with the new eligibility standards, back pain and mental illness top the list. As a result, the share of all adults receiving DI benefits doubled from 2.3 percent in 1989 to 4.6 percent in 2009.

The second reason for the exploding disability rolls and continued record-setting is the continued weakness of President Obama's economic recovery. It has been thoroughly established that DI applications correlate not with worker health but with worker employment prospects.

Once a worker qualifies, he or she possesses an asset producing a guaranteed income of $13,000 a year for life, plus free health care through the Medicare program. (Compare that with the average minimum-wage job, which offers only $15,000 a year without health care.) The benefits are far from extravagant, but they can offer older workers a bridge to the Social Security retirement age, and an early start on Medicare. Fewer than 1 percent of workers who go on DI ever leave the rolls. Don't blame the applicants or the beneficiaries -- they are just responding to the incentives the government creates through the DI program. The only way someone can lose DI is by working SEmD which is one reason most never try. Instead, for many who were perfectly able to work a few months ago, DI has become a voluntary life sentence to idle poverty.

Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt uncovered a “disability industrial complex” fraught with fraud that churns out 14 million checks every month to citizens the government has deemed disabled. 

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Disabled workers do not get counted in the unemployment figures. If they did, the numbers would be far higher.
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The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program—which covers kids and adults—has exploded.  SSI is now seven times larger than it was 30 years ago.
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The report suggests that the much-touted Welfare to Work policies of the 1990s that appeared to successfully move welfare recipients off the public dole may have been a mirage. States have figured out that shifting people from welfare to disability frees up substantial funds, as states have to pay the costs of welfare, but the federal government picks up the tab for disability.

“That’s a kind of ugly secret of the American labor market,” said MIT economist David Autor.  “Part of the reason our unemployment rates have been low, until recently, is that a lot of people who would have trouble finding jobs are on a different program.”

Joffe-Walt says disability has “become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2013

Why another Gay opposes same-sex marriage

I'm Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

While religion and tradition have led many to their positions on same-sex marriage, it’s also possible to oppose same-sex marriage based on reason and experience.
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I wholeheartedly support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but I am opposed to same-sex marriage. Because activists have made marriage, rather than civil unions, their goal, I am viewed by many as a self-loathing, traitorous gay. So be it. I prefer to think of myself as a reasoning, intellectually honest human being.
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To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.

There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week. Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch “deprivation” on their hearts.
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Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, recently said, “I think you can have social stability without many intact families, but it’s going to be really expensive and it's going to look very ‘Huxley-Brave New World-ish.’ So [the intact family is] not only the optimal scenario … but it’s the cheapest. How often in life do you get the best and the cheapest in the same package?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

"Many American cities are being run more like criminal conspiracies than anything else."

Walter Russell Mead looks at the " pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day -[that] is devastating minority communities throughout the country."

An Important Day for Detroit

Disgraced ex-Mayor and shameless identity politician Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted on twenty-four counts of extortion, racketeering, and bribery. The stunningly corrupt politician, who looted from Detroit’s poor and needy to pay for a life of luxury he never earned, is going to jail. His life is ruined, and his family has been shamed.
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It’s only fitting that today, a must-read piece in the NYT (co-authored by Mary Williams Walsh, one of the country’s most careful, thoughtful reporters on state and local pension issues) details the social and fiscal nightmare Detroit’s thugocracy has bequeathed to the young and vulnerable who still inhabit the ruined city. The latest bit of misery was unearthed by a financial consultant brought in to dig through Detroit’s books. He found “an additional $7.2 billion in retiree health costs that had never been reported, or even tallied up.” Until 2008, Detroit was not required to keep track of its workers’ lifetime health care bills. Now, of course, it’s the people who are least able to pay who will bear the brunt of this.

The report follows Detroit’s descent from one of America’s greatest cities into a Third World-style wasteland of incompetence and corruption where streetlights are dark, police don’t respond to calls, and the poor are left to fend for themselves. The process of ruin took decades and is the work of more than one generation of a degenerate political class. But Kwame Kilpatrick’s story is a reminder that the hyenas are still picking at what little is left of the city’s corpse.

Detroit Dems Enrich Wall Street As City Goes Bust

Ever since the long death spiral began, Detroit has relied on periodic bond sales to keep its bills paid. The thinking was clear: borrow now, pay it back later when the city’s finances recover. Of course, Detroit’s finances never recovered, and now it’s on the hook for much of this borrowing, in addition to the fees that these banks charged.  And these are serious fees. Bloomberg reports that since 2005, Wall Street banks have charged the city a whopping $474 million. As a comparison, that’s about as much as the city’s current entire police and fire budget for this year:
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As Detroit is learning now, in many cases they weren’t. And Detroit is not alone: In city after city, struggling pension funds have turned to exotic Wall Street investments claiming high returns and minimal risks. In some cases this is working out, in many more it isn’t, but either way, Wall Street is collecting its fees and leaving taxpayers and pensioners to pick up the pieces when it falls apart.
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If our so-called ‘progressives’ today weren’t so intellectually decadent and, well, historically challenged, they would be leading the charge to clean up American cities. Instead they are mostly silent — and sometimes even defend the machines.
It’s a terrible shame because reformers and progressives really can fight the rot and help the poor — if they can get past their messed up ‘political correctness’ illusions long enough to recognize the basic facts of the case.
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The best way to stop future tragedies like this is to enforce the law. From voting fraud to corrupt relations with contractors and financiers to fraudulent accounting on pensions, many American cities are being run more like criminal conspiracies than anything else. And the cost isn’t just the money the politicians steal, or the inflated profits that those doing business with a crooked city can earn or even the sweetheart deals with public sector unions who function as part of the machine. It is the shambolic education offered to generations of poor kids, the lack of protection for person and property, the burden of a government that is both costly and ineffective and the enterprises and jobs such a government kills or drives away: corrupt big city machines may be the most important single civil rights issue in America today.
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This is the pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day and is devastating minority communities throughout the country. Our political establishment, our university faculties and fashionable intellectuals, our newspaper editorialists, our legal profession and our clergy stand essentially silent; it is the silence of shame.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

March 11, 2013

"Merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life." ?

Man sues sperm bank and ex-girlfriend after she 'bluffed her way into getting two vials of his semen and used it get pregnant as punishment for dumping her'

A Louisiana man is suing his ex-girlfriend for allegedly stealing his sperm from a Texas facility and using it to get pregnant with their son without his knowledge years after the two had broken up.

According to Layne Hardin's attorney, his client's former paramour, 27-year-old Tobie Devall, of Sulphur, Louisiana, somehow 'bluffed' her way into obtaining two vials containing the 44-year-old’s sperm wrapped in a brown paper bag.

The lawsuit, which names Devall, the sperm bank and a fertility clinic in Houston, states that the woman then inseminated herself and later gave birth to a boy, who is now two years old.

Israeli sperm donor wants his stuff back

A fascinating case is unfolding in Israel pitting a anonymous sperm donor against a woman who demands his sperm.
As reported in Haaretz, Galit (not her real name), a 39-year-old single mother living in Florida, has conceived a daughter with the sperm of an Israeli donor. She purchased five more samples and stored them in a sperm bank. However, when she decided to conceive another child, she was told that the man had withdrawn his consent. After a religious conversion he felt remorseful about allowing his sperm to be used by a woman he did not know to conceive a child he did not love.

So-called 'Ethicists' in Australia Call for “After-Birth Abortions”

Giubilini and Minerva say that merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2013

Thou shalt report, not distort.

Elizabeth Lev has done a smash-up job in The Ten Commandments of Reporting on the Vatican

Make no mistake, information is power and those who wield it are accountable.

1)    Thou shalt leave your personal prejudices at the door. I have often seen Al Qaeda treated with more respect than Pope Benedict and the Roman Catholic Church. While you may disagree with the Church’s teaching on any number of things, there is no excuse to let your personal agenda define your coverage. In reporting on other world events, it is unthinkable to insert one’s personal ideas, so why is it acceptable when reporting on the Church? If all you can focus on is birth control, gay marriage and abortion and how the papacy should change its teaching, you should probably just go home. Whether you agree or disagree isn’t really the question. Your job is to understand and to report, to give background and help viewers and readers to get a sense of the bigger picture. Pope Benedict XVI has led the 1.2 billion members of the Catholic Church for 8 years, drawn crowds of millions in gatherings worldwide and brought a message of hope and love to the farthest reaches of the earth. The Pope’s CV is impressive to say the least, and he deserves respect.
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4)  Thou shalt report, not distort. Millions are unable to follow these events in person, many more will not have the option of channel surfing or perusing myriad blogs for news.  It is the responsibility of those who are present to report with clarity and accuracy. Many people deeply care about what is going on, and would be grateful for an unbiased account of this event.
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8)    Thou shalt not resurrect anachronistic terminology. …. Constant reference to a sex abuse “crisis” is another expression that now makes no sense. Crisis is a critical event or a turning point. The crisis in  clerical sex abuse took place in 2001, over 10 years ago. Since then the Church has instituted guidelines and screening so that from an average of 50 cases per year in the 70s and 80s there were only 7 credible accusations of abuse in 2010 out of 39,000 priests in the US. If any institution has shown the world how to turn things around, it is the Catholic Church.  Talk of a “crisis” can only stem from disingenuousness or lack of imagination.

9)    Thou shalt not apply ecclesiastical affirmative action. The Church is universal but doesn’t need to fill quotas. There are Catholics all over the world. Just walk into a Pontifical University and the colors, languages and cultures are as numerous and varied as Raphael’s pigments. The Church elected popes from Africa (Milziade 311-314), and Asia (John V from Syria 685-686) long before the Americas were even discovered. The idea that the Church should select a new pope merely based on skin color or somatic features is absurd and unnecessary.

10) Thou shalt not dismiss age or beauty. The Church has been around for a very long time and has weathered arrested, disgraced and murdered popes, invasions, persecutions and the complete loss of their lands. It has survived a reformation and a Risorgimento and is still here. For every disaster, the Church has produced something beautiful to show for it, whether it be a work of art, a spectacular structure or the glorious life of a saint. St Peter’s was made during the reformation, the Pietà carved during one of the most corrupt reigns of the Renaissance, and St Maximilian Kolbe flowered in the Holocaust. The Church knows that hardships come to an end, but in the moments of greatest pressure our finest diamonds are forged.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

Washington Post openly confesses bias in reporting on social issues

The Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton is leaving and will not be replaced.  His column Is the Post 'pro-gay'? reveals the astonishingly bigotry of an anonymous reporter when it comes to social conservatism in a three-way dialogue including a reader who wrote in to say

that Post stories too often minimize the conservative argument: “The overlooked ‘other side’ on the gay issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. … Is there no room in The Post for those who support the male-female, procreative model of marriage?”
Replied the reporter: “The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the ‘view of the world’ that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.”
The reader: “Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.

Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion gives the Post what-for in WPost: Yes, we fear and loath religious traditionalists.

Why, we all know how much the Washington Post cares about civil rights, right? I couldn’t even begin to quantify how much ink has been spilled advocating for an entire class of humans deemed not deserving of even the most fundamental right to life. Why, sometimes I think the Washington Post almost cares too much about the scourge of abortion, don’t you? Oh wait, that’s right, they actually don’t care about that civil right at all. What’s more, they don’t even agree that the unborn human’s right to life *is* a civil rights issue — at least for the unborn children involved.

And guess what, unnamed reporter and your army of close-minded scribes: Whether or not there *is* a civil right to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples or other groupings is precisely — precisely — the debate at hand.
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Refusing to learn the arguments of those who oppose changing the law must end. It simply must end. The ignorance and bigotry with which reporters have covered this topic is a scandal. It’s destroying civil political discourse, it’s embarrassing and can’t continue.

Reporters don’t need to change their deeply-held biases in favor of changing marriage law. But they do need to learn even a little bit about the arguments of those who oppose such a change.
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Failure to understand the basic (and, frankly, not even that difficult to understand) arguments of those who oppose redefining marriage is inexcusable bigotry, particularly after years of witnessing what happens in the coverage of this debate. Reporters close their eyes, slam their fingers in their ears and shout “racist!” anytime a traditional marriage defender opens his or her mouth. -
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Pexton’s column becomes something of an embarrassment, too. He reveals himself as blind as the reporter to any angle on this story other than the one advanced by advocates of redefining marriage. The only “fairness” story he can see is from the perspective of same-sex couples wanting to change marriage law. He can’t even imagine how redefining marriage law would affect marriage norms, business law, religious liberty, the rights of children, or any of the other myriad “fairness” stories that a truly diverse and open-minded press might be able to stumble upon in the midst of the cheerleading for change.
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Pexton’s statement reveals just how blind he and his colleagues are to how changes in law have many intended and unintended consequences that affect everyone’s freedom.

To sum up then, Pexton and the unnamed Post reporter refuse to hear the arguments of those who oppose redefining marriage, make incorrect claims as to what those arguments are, issue slurs of racism and religious zealotry against those who disagree. 
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George Neumayr comments in Equating Christians with Racists

Last Sunday, the Washington Post’s ombudsman casually revealed that the official policy of reporters at the paper is to treat opponents of gay marriage as the moral equivalent of racists.
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In other words, reporters don’t cover debates but decide them. On the basis of their notions of “justice and fairness,” they tailor all coverage and determine in advance the winners of debates. This admission—that there is no difference between the paper’s front page and editorial page—would have been bad enough on its own. But then the reporter dug the hole deeper by telling the reader that opponents of gay marriage are no more legitimate than segregationists: “As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?”

Rod Dreher sums it up.  WaPo: ‘Error Has No Rights’

In a nutshell, when it comes to reporting on the debate and events around the same-sex marriage issue, the Post feels it has no responsibility to report fairly and accurately on people who oppose same-sex marriage, because they are morally wrong.
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To the extent this opinion informs the Post‘s coverage — and I would bet my paycheck it does — it is a gross abdication of professional responsibility. The reader isn’t asking the Post to take the side of traditionalists; he or she is simply asking the Post to report the news in an evenhanded way. And the reporter refuses to do so……the reporter lays it right out there, saying that bigotry in news reporting against orthodox Christians and other marriage traditionalists is an act of virtue.
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The contempt with which so many within newsrooms hold social conservatives and traditional Christians is real. Stories like this one temper my sorrow over the demise of my profession. They really do hate people like me, and consider us not worthy of the basic fairness they would use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2013

"No one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind."

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face. The danger is that reason – so-called Western reason – claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom. I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.”
Pope Benedict XVI

In Massachusetts, the Department of Education has issued a directive on the handling of 'transgendered' students and Students Who Refuse to Affirm Transgender Classmates Face Punishment.

Last week the Massachusetts Department of Education issued directives for handling transgender students – including allowing them to use the bathrooms of their choice or to play on sports teams that correspond to the gender with which they identify.

The 11-page directive also urged schools to eliminate gender-based clothing and gender-based activities – like having boys and girls line up separately to leave the classroom.
Schools will now be required to accept a student’s gender identity on face value.
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The new rules would also prevent teachers and administrators from telling parents with which gender their child identifies.
“School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent or guardian,” the directive states.
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The Massachusetts Family Institute denounced the new rules calling them a violation of privacy.

“Fundamentally, boys need to be using the boys’ room and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” said Andrew Beckwith, the institute’s general counsel.

Beckwith told Fox News the new policy has a “very broad standard that is ripe for abuse.”
The policy allows students to have one gender identity at home and another at school,” he said. “And it refuses to let teachers and administrators tell parents what gender their child is at school.”

Another part of the directive that troubles parents deals with students who might feel comfortable having someone of the opposite sex in their locker room or bathroom.
The state takes those students to task – noting their discomfort “is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

And any student who refuses to refer to a transgendered student by the name or sex they identify with could face punishment.

For example – a fifth grade girl might feel uncomfortable using the restroom if there is an eighth grade transgendered boy in the next stall.
Under the state guidelines, the girl would have no recourse, Beckwith said.  “And if the girl continued to complain she could be subjected to discipline for not affirming that student’s gender identity choice,” he told Fox News.  “It should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline,” the directive states.

Gunner Scott, of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, praised the directive – and said punishing students who refuse to acknowledge a student’s gender identity is appropriate because it amounts to bullying.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2013

" 'Downton Abbey' and 'Girls' serve as bookends in an era defined by a growing cult of the self"

 Downton V Girls

In the New York Times , Freedom has its own constraints

“Downton” and “Girls” serve as bookends in an era defined by a growing cult of the self. “Downton” is about the flourishing of selfhood in a rigid, early-20th-century society of roles. “Girls” is about the chaos and exhaustion of selfhood in a fluid, early-21st-century society that says you can be anything but does not show you how.
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What begins on “Downton” as a new liberty to follow your heart, to dare love that others find unwise, has culminated in “Girls” in romantic pursuits that are dully mercenary and often unwise.
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What begins on “Downton” as a welcome questioning of age and status roles has snowballed by the “Girls” era into grave role confusion: parents who cannot teach their children how to live because they feel guilty about parenting, or want to be friends more than guides, or still dress like teenagers and call their offspring “prude.”

Nowhere is this overshooting truer than with the roles of the sexes. If “Downton” shows a world in which women are starting to claim their own sexuality, “Girls” portrays a sexual dystopia in which those women seem to have negotiated poorly: Men now reliably get what they want, while women must often content themselves with scraps, as when the character Hannah celebrates “almost” satiation in bed as the best she is likely to get.
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“Girls” is about atoms that desire in vain to form molecules; about sex lives that breed more confusion than excitement; about people with the liberty to choose every day, on various dimensions, whom to be — and who grow very tired of the choosing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2013

"Deference to presumed feelings has prevailed for a long time"

How do you change the culture?  Family Ties


Mitch Pearlstein, founder and president of the Center of the American Experiment, is the author of From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation.

PEARLSTEIN: My guess is that for every person like me in public or publishing life who dwells on reviving marriage, there are dozens who see the quest as Quixotic and instead focus precisely on making single parenthood work better than it routinely does. How else, for instance, can you explain why government devotes infinitely more money — by way of TANF, SNAP, WIC, and the like — to making single-parenthood a viable proposition than it does to helping low-income men and women achieve healthy marriages? How else can you explain how a person can attend day-long academic conferences on families and never once hear the word “marriage” uttered? Or how else can you explain why it’s considered some kind of success whenever the importance of fatherhood is publicly acknowledged, even if accompanying words are never spoken about fathers actually being married to the mothers of their children?

As for “making single mothers feel bad,” it’s essential that both courage and grace be watchwords whenever talking or writing about single parents. But given the state of the debate, it’s clear that deference to presumed feelings has prevailed for a long time.
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Millions of American kids growing up in fatherless families are doing great, and millions of American kids growing up in seemingly perfect homes are doing poorly. The problem is that, generally speaking and on average, young people coming of age in fragmented families do less well than other young people by every conceivable measure.
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PEARLSTEIN: My aim in From Family Collapse to America’s Decline has been to focus on what I see as the biggest threat to marriage, family stability, and child well-being in the United States: nonmarital birth rates and divorce rates that are much too high.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

Not Since the French Revolution Have the Bells at Notre Dame Rung in Harmony

Ever since the French Revolution,  the bells at Notre Dame have been discordant, out-of-tune, but that is about to change.

 New Bells2 Notre Dame

The chimes they are a-changin': Nine new bells arrive at Notre Dame cathedral to mark its 850th anniversary

The Hunchback of Notre Dame would be jumping for joy at the news.

Nine new enormous bronze bells have arrived at the Paris cathedral to replace the old ones that had been discordant for decades, and to help the landmark rediscover its historical harmony.

The bells, named after saints, and prominent Catholic figures, will be on display at Notre Dame from Saturday until February 25 when they will be hoisted to its iconic twin towers.
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The old bells, which dated from different periods throughout Notre Dame's history, were out of tune with each other and with Emmanuel, which has hung in the cathedral since the 17th century, according to cathedral officials.

 New Bells Notredame

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The arrival of the bells ‘is historic precisely because since the 18th century, we haven't experienced such an event,’ said the cathedral's rector, Patrick Jacquin.  ‘During the French Revolution, they (the bells) were all brought down and broken except the great bell, Emmanuel, which is here and four other bells that were recast in the middle of the nineteenth century…. This will complete in a definitive manner the entire set of 10 bells as conceived … in the Middle Ages.’

The €2 million (£1.7 million) bell-casting project was funded via donations, cathedral officials say.

‘Historically the idea of this project was to recreate the old bells of Notre Dame in terms of power, in terms of tune, which means that there will be again 10 bells ringing into the cathedral as it used to be in the Middle Ages and up until the French Revolution,’ said Paul Bergamo, president of the Cornille-Havard Foundry in Villedieu-les-Poeles.

The new bells will be installed in time to ring out for Palm Sunday (March 23) and Easter.  If you want to hear the clear tone of one of the bells, watch this short video of the blessing of the bells.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2013

"I will take this burden to my grave"

Dr. Francis Beckwith

“From a strictly scientific point of view, there is no doubt that the development of an individual human life begins at conception. Consequently, it is vital that the reader understand that she did not come from a zygote, she once was a zygote; she did not come from an embryo, she once was an embryo; she did not come from a fetus, she once was a fetus; she did not come from an adolescent, she once was an adolescent.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams writes So what if abortion ends life?  The Anchoress responds Here Be Monsters

Just take a look at this totally creepy video produced by one pro-choice group, Happy Anniversary Baby indeed.

Janice Shaw Crouse on What Hath Roe Wrought

On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade abortion advocates have plenty of reason to be frightened and pessimistic. During 2012, an average of 7 abortion clinics closed each month. No wonder Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider is frantic about securing federal funding --70 percent of abortion clinics in the U.S. have closed over the past 22 years. By their recent abandonment of the "pro-choice" rhetoric, it is obvious that they, too, recognize that pro-life forces are prevailing with the American public….The pro-life movement is getting increasingly more sophisticated and effective. Plus, science and technology are on the pro-life side. As sonograms get higher definition and more parents-to-be post them on social media the pro-life cause strengthens. One study tracked seventy-five patients and all but five changed their minds about an abortion after seeing a sonogram of their baby in the womb.

We have many millions of women who have undergone abortions and are now at increased risk for suicide,  breast cancer, and mental health problems.

Abortion has hurt all women in other ways as Ross Douthat points out

While the frequent use of abortion can limit out-of-wedlock births, that is, the sudden mass availability of abortion almost certainly had the opposite effect — mostly by changing the obligations associated with pregnancy, and by legitimating male irresponsibility where sex and its consequences are concerned.

This was the conclusion that George Akerlof and Janet Yellen reached in a mid-1990s Brookings Institution analysis. ”Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of-wedlock births,” they wrote, “in fact the opposite happened,” mostly because the availability of abortion dramatically undermined the expectation that a man would marry and support a woman he impregnated. “By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother,” they concluded, “the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father” — which in turn has made it much easier for fathers to choose non-involvement in cases where the mother decides not to use abortion as a birth control of last resort.

China Renews Commitment to One-Child Forced Abortion Policy

The tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Two Women are Behind Legalized Abortion in America: Now Both of Them Want it Reversed. 

That would be Jane Roe and Mary Doe, the plaintiffs in the companion 1973 Supreme Court cases that legalized abortion in the country.
Both say their cases were based on lies.

Doe v. Bolton extended the right to abort through all nine months of pregnancy.  But Cano has since claimed that the whole foundation of Doe v. Bolton was a lie: that she never actually wanted nor requested an abortion and that she was tricked into signing an affidavit about abortion in the process of filing for divorce from her husband and seeking to regain custody of her other children.  According to Cano she actually fled the state when her mother and lawyer tried to force her into getting an abortion.
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Though McCorvey worked as an abortion activist for years after Roe v. Wade was handed down, she announced a conversion to the pro-life cause in the mid 1990s. The conversion came after the pro-life group Operation Rescue moved in next door to the abortion clinic where she worked, and she came personally to know several pro-life leaders.

“I was persuaded by feminist attorneys to lie; to say that I was raped, and needed an abortion,” Norma stated in last year’s ad. “It was all a lie.”

Since then, over 50 million babies have been murdered. I will take this burden to my grave,” she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2013

"I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appalls me

"I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appalls me  writes A.N. Wilson.

The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex. We were saying goodbye to what Larkin (in that poem) called ‘A shame that started at sixteen / And spread to everything.’
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In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried out, a small rise on the previous year, and about seven per cent more than a decade ago.
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But even if you concede that a little less than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that more than 90,000 fetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way inconvenient.
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In the past few years, sexually transmitted diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and other diseases,
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The divorce statistics tell another miserable story. About one third of marriages in Britain end in divorce. And because many couples do not marry at all before splitting up, the number of broken homes is even greater.

I hold up my hands. I have been divorced. …I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the marriage bed.    There were long periods when they found marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching irritation and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply dependent upon one another in old age, and in an imperfect but recognizable way, an object lesson in the meaning of the word ‘love’.
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Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinion Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.  In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling.

More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles.
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The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings.
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The wackier clerics of the Church of England, the pundits of the BBC, the groovier representatives of the educational establishment, the liberal Press, have all, since the Sexual Revolution began, gone along with the notion that a relaxation of sexual morality will lead to a more enlightened and happy society.  This was despite the fact that all the evidence around us demonstrates that the exact opposite is the case.
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Our generation, who started to grow up ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP’ got it all so horribly wrong.
We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason.
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Two generations have grown up — comprising children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and impulses before family stability and the needs of their children. …The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive rethink.  At least, let’s hope so.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

"The rights of children trump the right to children"

It was a "March for All" in Paris  by an alliance of secularist, straight, gay, rightist, leftist and non-partisans, Catholics,  Jews , Evangelicals and Muslims, all  against gay marriage being imposed by the federal government without public debate.

Estimates of  the numbers of participants who came from all over France to converge on Paris range from 360,000 to 1,000,000 with most settling on 800,000.

“This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”

 France-Same-Sex-Protest-March-For-All

Robert Oscar Lopez writes in The Public Discourse, Lessons from France on Defending Marriage.

In France, a repeating refrain is “the rights of children trump the right to children.” It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor “Jean-Marc” to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him. For most of France, LGBT rights cross the line when they mean that same-sex couples have a “right” to children—something that both France’s grand rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, and Louis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have refuted as a right at all.
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The right to a child, according to Bernheim and Barret, does not exist; it would mean changing children, as Bernheim says, from “child as subject” to “child as object.” Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:

I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (Article 3, section 1).

"We love homosexuals but a child must be born from a man and a woman, and the law must respect that,” said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest.

Carl Olsen comments

there are many Americans who believe they have a right to "have children", and to treat children like projects or even experiments, as if they are blank slates that can be filled up with the whims of their parents (and others). In this perspective, children are objects that exist because we wish them to and make them so, not because they are gifts from God who come to us through the marital embrace, to be raised by a mother and father, who are also the primary educators of their children.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told Vatican Radio the church supports cultural and social progress, but not "at the expense of nature."  He said he wondered why so many people were so committed to protecting the environment from manipulation, but "not very concerned about manipulation against the inner workings of anthropology."

"The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children," said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest..  Their efforts appear to have had an impact. Surveys indicate that popular support for gay marriage in France has slipped about 10 points to less than 55 percent since opponents started speaking out. Fewer than half of those polled recently favored giving gay couples adoption rights.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

January 13, 2013

Can lead be linked to violent behavior?

This is a most intriguing study.

Did outlawing leaded gasoline cause the crime rate to drop? Researchers link toxic element to violent behavior

A new study links leaded gasoline to violent crime rates in six cities.

High lead levels have long been known to cause birth defects, lower intelligence and hearing problems - but now researchers are beginning to find that it also causes high levels of aggression.

Tulane University toxicologist Howard W. Mielke says high levels of lead exposure in children in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a dramatic uptick in crime two decades later.

When the use of leaded gasoline declined in the 1980s, crime rates dropped off at corresponding rates.

Mielke found that in all six cities - Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and San Diego - every one percent increase in the number of tons of lead released into the atmosphere resulted in a half percentage point increase in the aggravated assault rate 22 years later.
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Dr Herbert Needleman, a University of Pittsburgh researcher, conducted a 1996 study that showed that children with high lead levels were much more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than those with normal levels.

A 2002 study showed that youths had been arrested had far higher levels of lead in their bones, on average, than their non-delinquent peers.

Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum reports that the leaded gasoline theory is the only explanation for the dramatic rise and fall of violent crime across the country.
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General Motors developed a lead additive for gasoline to prevent engine knock in the 1920s. The most popular additive was tetraethyllead, which soon became nearly universal.

By the 1970s, cars were being made with catalytic converters, which were incompatible with leaded gasoline.

Leaded gas was quickly phased out by the 1980s. It was banned for use in vehicles on U.S. roadways in 1996.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 PM | Permalink

January 10, 2013

A Generation of Deluded Narcissists?

We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing
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Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.

Keith Ablow comments

This data is not unexpected.  I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”

We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.
Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.

When they finally confront reality, they will be stunned as they realize the falsity of their lives.

Ablow again

Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface.  I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too. 

We laughed at and scoffed anyone like this when I was in high school.  We called them "conceited" which is about the worse thing you could call anybody.      Ridicule is a powerful weapon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:03 PM | Permalink

December 21, 2012

How Charles Dickens Saved Christmas

Why Dickens’ ‘Carol’ is the most important Christmas tale in The Capital Hill Times via Deacon Greg.

I'm also using the same image he did because Alistair Sims in the 1951 production of The Christmas Carol directed by Brian Desmond Herst was the very best Scrooge.  You can watch the entire movie on YouTube

 Alistair Sim Scrooge

Dickens came to write “Carol” while at a low ebb. His pervious book had not been popular and he was struggling. He was working on nonfiction pamphlets about the horrendous working conditions of children in Manchester. But the visions of Ignorance and Want that he saw on the faces of the starved, overworked and ragged children inspired him, and he worked backwards from the scene in which the Spirit of Christmas Present shows Scrooge those children to compose the whole tale.

He “laughed and wept and laughed again” as he walked 15 to 20 miles a day in the streets of London, composing the story in his head, then locking himself away from friends and his family for weeks.

It was an immediate hit. Instantly plagiarized onstage and sold in bootleg editions, the story made Dickens little money in its fancy first printing. But it made him famous. When he died decades later a little girl was heard to say, “Mr. Dickens is dead? Is Father Christmas dead as well?”
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Dickens invented the Christmas tale with “A Carol,” and it has been played on by many subsequent authors, but what makes it the best of all the Christmas tales is its thesis: Stop and think about your life. Live in a thoughtful fashion, filled with compassion. Have hope and love your fellow man. Christmas Day is just the focus of this spirit.

Some historians believe that this story, and this story alone, is responsible for our continued observance of Christmas. It revived very old customs that had been on the verge of dying out. But there is an urgent subtext that drives this tale, and it is in the mouth of Scrooge when he says to a group of businessmen who came to him for a donation to the poor, “If they had rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
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This was a popular contention spurred by the influence of Thomas Malthus, a pernicious science essayist of the late 18th century, who argued that poor people were a social burden to all and should die. This is partly why so many Irish died in the Irish Potato Famine a few years after “A Carole” was written. The English government, which had controlled and occupied Ireland for centuries, took the position that these poor and starving people were surplus and a burden. Millions of Irish died by inches of starvation, even as their country was exporting food. The English government stopped charitable organizations from helping the Irish.

This story was Charles Dickens’ rebuke of this kind of thinking. He shows the reader the Cratchet family, with many children and one, Tiny Tim, dying by inches because he did not get enough food or medical attention.
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Let us be compassionate to each other, see past the blinding and thick commercial haze that covers this holiday, celebrate our affection for each other and open our hearts to all. As Dickens wrote, “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:50 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2012

Older parenthood brings significant risks before and after birth

I've come across more than a few significant articles in the past few days on why having children early in life is better for children and parents which runs counter to the prevailing conventional wisdom.  Over the next week, I will post about several of them. 

The first is an article In The New Republic by Judith Shulevitz who warns us of the scary consequences of the grayest generation.     

How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society

We might even change the course of our evolutionary future. For we are bringing fewer children into the world and producing a generation that will be subtly different—“phenotypically and biochemically different,” as one study I read put it—from previous generations.
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In the scientists’ study, published in Nature, they concluded that the number of genetic mutations that can be acquired from a father increases by two every year of his life, and doubles every 16, so that a 36-year-old man is twice as likely as a 20-year-old to bequeath de novo mutations to his children.

The Nature study ended by saying that the greater number of older dads could help to explain the 78 percent rise in autism cases over the past decade. Researchers have suspected links between autism and parental age for years.
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That old wives’ tale about hot baths or tight underwear leading to male infertility? It’s true. “
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[T]he odds of bearing a schizophrenic child moved up in a straight line as a man got older.
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Clomid, or clomiphene citrate, which has become almost as common as aspirin in women undergoing fertility treatments, came out particularly badly in the recent New England Journal of Medicine study that rang alarm bells about ART and birth defects. “I think it’s an absolute time bomb,” Michael Davies, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told me
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A feminist triumph?  Shulevitz goes on to write

A REMARKABLE FEATURE of the new older parenting is how happy women seem to be about it. It’s considered a feminist triumph.
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Study after study has shown that the children of older parents grow up in wealthier households, lead more stable lives, and do better in school.
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the unpopular but fairly obvious point that older parents die earlier in their children’s lives. (“We got a lot of blowback in terms of reproductive rights and all that,” the gynecologist told me.
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There’s an entire body of sociological literature on how parents’ deaths affect children, and it suggests that losing a parent distresses young adults more than older adults, low-income young adults more than high-income ones, and daughters more than sons. Curiously, the early death of a mother correlates to a decline in physical health in both sexes, and the early death of a father correlates to increased drinking among young men.
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WHEN WE LOOK BACK at this era from some point in the future, I believe we’ll identify the worldwide fertility plunge as the most important legacy of old-age parenting.
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If you’re a doctor, you see clearly what is to be done, and you’re sure it will be. “People are going to change their reproductive habits,” said Alan S. Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University medical school and the editor of an important anthology on the origins of schizophrenia. They will simply have to “procreate earlier,” he replied. As for men worried about the effects of age on children, they will “bank sperm and freeze it.”

The Anchoress writes about the same article in Older Parents, Weaker Children, Future America and zooms in on the IVF and other "outside practices that are messing with design."

Another popular procedure coming under renewed scrutiny is ICSI (intracy to plasmic sperm injection). In ICSI, sperm or a part of a sperm is injected directly into an extracted egg. In the early ’90s, when doctors first started using ICSI, they added it to in vitro fertilization only when men had low sperm counts, but today doctors perform ICSI almost routinely—procedures more than doubled between 1999 and 2008. And y et, ICSI shows up in the studies as having higher rates of birth defects than any other popular fertility procedure. Among other possible reasons, ICSI allows sperm to bypass a crucial step in the fertilization of the egg—the binding of the head of the sperm with the coat of the egg. Forcing the sperm to penetrate the coat may be nature’s way of maintaining quality control.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

December 6, 2012

Decadence and Darwin

More Babies, Please by Russ Douthat

Beneath these policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.


Boy did that set off a storm.  What most bothered people was the term decadence.

Douthat responded to his critics, Don't Mention the Decadence 

Or to put it another way, if we have moral obligations to future, as-yet-unborn generations, as almost everyone seems to agree, surely those duties have to include some obligation for somebody to bring those generations into existence in the first place — to imitate the sacrifices that our parents made, and give another generation the chances that we’ve had? And if that basic obligation exists in some form, then surely there comes a point when a culture in which it’s crowded out by other goals, other pursuits and yes, other pleasures can be aptly described as … what’s the word I’m looking for … decadent?
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Is replacement-level fertility really so much to ask, morally speaking, of people graced with wealth and entertainments and diversions beyond the dreams of any previous generation? If conspicuous consumption is morally dubious when it substitutes for sacrifices on behalf of strangers, as most good progressives seem to think, why isn’t it morally dubious when it substitutes for the more intimate form of sacrifice that made all of our lives possible in the first place?
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Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate?
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And what Yglesias calls nuttiness still looks like moral common sense to me — a view of intergenerational obligation that human flourishing depends on, and whose disappearance threatens to sacrifice essential goods and relationships on the altar of more transient forms of satisfaction.

Mollie Hemingway ways in Admit It: We're a Decadent People

How denigrating the practice of childrearing is viewed as a feminist triumph is beyond me.

But why can't we admit that our lack of childbearing is due to luxurious self-indulgence? Seems to me that even for those who support our current self-centered way of life, this is viewed as a feature rather than a bug of our birth control culture. Why do we have to pretend otherwise?

Megan McArdle has this to say about Our Demographic Decline

Our whole economy and social system are designed for a growing economy, and a growing population.  Without future growth, savings and investment become more necessary, but less attractive.  Without growth, people become less generous towards strangers and more unhappy about their own circumstances. And without the growth around which all of our modern welfare states have been structured, the modern safety nets that governments have spent the last century establishing may not be politically or economically sustainable. 

In a less decadent age, Darwin foreswore the self-indulgence we've come to take for granted.  The private life of Charles Darwin

In the notes – made in April and July 1938 when he was 29 years old – Darwin weighs the options, listing the positive and negative points for matrimony with a pragmatic and analytical detachment that doubtless served him well in his scientific inquiries. When choosing a soulmate though, Darwin's approach comes across as – how can I put it – a little less than romantic.

On the plus side of the ledger he cites "Children (if it Please God)" and companionship, "[an] object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow". He also approves of the health-giving benefits of the "charms of music & female chit-chat".

But he then turns to the many freedoms he worries he will miss out on – "Conversation of clever men at clubs"; "cannot read in the evenings"; "less money for books". There will also be the anxiety and responsibility of fatherhood, "fatness and idleness" and above all, "loss of time"……"How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife.  Eheu!! I never should know French, – or see the Continent – or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales – poor slave."

In the end, he decided he would be happier married.

"It is intolerable to think of spending one's whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all.  No, no won't do – Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London."

He later married and described his wedding day as "the day of days" 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink

December 4, 2012

Human nature has become politically incorrect

Charles Murray The bad news is that gentlemanly behavior makes people happy.  Feminists call it benevolent sexism and its "dangerous nature" findings emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.  To which Murray replies:

When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn’t they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens?

Feminists often seem to be at war with human nature.  How else can you explain the furor surrounding Suzanne Venker's article on The War on Men?

According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.
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So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.

The Plight of the Alpha Female  Women remain scarce in the most elite positions. And it’s by choice writes Kay Hymowitz

This just in, Boys like sports, the politically incorrect finding of a new study that tells us what we already know.

Proposed school ban on  books portraying traditional images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work because they  contribute to gender stereotyping recommends EU report.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

November 29, 2012

Why are white men, especially old white men, held in such disdain

Target: Old White Men

You could roughly say that old white men built the whole modern world.

You can precisely say this if you include in the category the budding old white men known as younger white men. Who were all the great inventors, innovators, and philosophers from ancient Greece and Rome up through medieval and modern Europe and the United States? Who forged the West? Who birthed democracy? Who improved upon it, giving us our Constitution and modern republican government? There is a reason why most of the busts and pictures of legendary figures portray old white men.

We might also note that while old white men probably weren't the first to practice slavery, they were the first to eliminate it. The same can be said of human rights: old white men had lots of company trampling them. They were alone in crafting the modern conception of them.
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Demonizing white men old or dead keeps the young and alive disconnected from them and hence from the past. This gives us a civilization of children, just the kind of people a pied piper can lead.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:44 PM | Permalink

November 13, 2012

The dismaying evidence of voter fraud in the election

-Hmmmm

Hmmmmmmm

I'm not a conspiracy nut, but nothing troubles me more than voter fraud because tampering with the electoral process undermines the very nature of our democracy.    I and most people want fair elections.  It should be easy to vote, but hard to cheat.  It's more like, easy to vote, easy to cheat.  If people don't have trust in the integrity of electoral system, they won't trust their leaders.    As of this morning, petitions seeking White House approval to 'secede' from the nation now come from 47 states.  In Texas and Louisiana both, the petitions have gathered more than 25,0000 signatures, triggering White House review.  It is very dismaying to see the nation fracture when we have so many enormous problems that require both parties to solve.  Thankfully, neither Romney or Ryan are contesting the results.

The presidential election was decided by a mere 407,000 votes in four states reports Jim Geraghty

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Below are the articles I came across while reading about the election result that questioned the integrity of the voting process.

COLORADO

Colorado counties have more voters than people
Using publicly available voter data and comparing it to U.S. Census records reveals the ten counties having a total registration ranging between 104 to 140 percent of the respective populations.

OHIO

Obama won county in Ohio with 108% voter registration

What Luck! Obama Won Dozens of Cleveland Districts with 100% of the Vote

One out of five registered Ohio voters is bogus reports the Columbus Dispatch in September

“in two counties, the number of registered voters actually exceeds the voting age population: Northwestern Ohio’s Wood County shows 109 registered voters for every 100 eligible, while in Lawrence County along the Ohio River it’s a mere 104 registered per 100 eligible.”

Odd?  Romney got zero votes in 59 precincts in Philly, and 9 precincts in Ohio
Two Election Judges Replaced after Illegal Activity in Ohio
In Hamilton County, the area that houses Cincinnati, two election judges — one Republican and one Democrat — were replaced after illegally allowing unregistered voters to cast their ballots.

FLORIDA

St. Lucie County, Florida Had 141.1% Turnout; Obama Won County
Out of 175,554 registered voters, 247,713 vote cards were cast in St. Lucie County, Florida on Tuesday. Barack Obama won the county.

In Florida: Obama Got Over 99% in Broward County Precincts

More ballots turn up in Broward: Seven days after the election ended, and two days after the results were unofficially certified.
Broward elections workers Monday said they had found 963 unaccounted-for ballots in a warehouse. They were put in the wrong place, members of the Broward County Canvassing Board were told on Monday.

"How can you lose them? This is terrible,'' said Dania Beach candidate Chickie Brandimarte, whose close race won't be called until at least Tuesday.

VIRGINIA

Police investigating Rep. Moran's son over possible voter fraud
"The Arlington County Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation of this matter."

Released Wednesday by Project Veritas — a conservative organization headed by the Republican activist James O’Keefe — the video showed Patrick Moran perusing ways to help a man he thought was a campaign volunteer cast ballots on behalf of 100 people the operative said weren't planning to vote.

Fraud: Some told they already voted, others brag about voting multiple times

Obama Lost in Every State With Photo ID Law

A list of closely contested state elections with no voter ID, which narrowly went to Obama include: Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5) and Pennsylvania (20). This amounts to a total of 66 electoral votes.
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Romney also likely had the states of Florida and Ohio stolen from him, which don’t require photo IDs. Ohio requires a non-photo ID. Would a library card do? Florida “requests” a photo ID, but doesn’t require it.

John Fund writes Voter Fraud Is No Myth

We should clean up our voter rolls, require those casting absentee ballots to provide a driver’s license or Social Security number and make photo ID mandatory at the polls. Photo ID will not just stop the voter impersonation liberals claim doesn’t exist, but will cut down on multiple voting, non-citizen voting, people voting in the wrong precinct, out-of-state voting and voting in the names of fictitious people.

Those states that do want a voter id, that do want to clean up their voting rolls have met opposition from the Department of Justice.

I agree with the U.N election observers who were amazed that voter ID isn't a national requirement.

The most often noted difference between American elections among the visitors was that in most U.S. states, voters need no identification. Voters can also vote by mail, sometimes online, and there's often no way to know if one person has voted several times under different names, unlike in some Arab countries, where voters ink their fingers when casting their ballots.

The international visitors also noted that there's no police at U.S. polling stations. In foreign countries, police at polling places are viewed as signs of security; in the United States they are sometimes seen as intimidating.

Which puts me in the company of nearly 75% of Americans who believe the same thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:20 PM | Permalink

November 11, 2012

Veterans Day: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Born in England, Wilfred Owen, a soldier in World War I and a poet, was killed in action on November 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice.  He is one of 16 of the Great War poets commemorated in Westminster Abbey's Poet Corner.  The inscription on the slate is Owen's, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Pat Barker's novel Regeneration, the first of a trilogy of novels on the First World War, describes the experience of British army officers being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.  Dr. William Rivers, an army psychiatrist, treats the traumatized officers so they can be returned  to battle, among them Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, both poets.

In an interview referenced in the Wikipedia article about the book,  Pat Barker said, "The trilogy is trying to tell something about the parts of war that don't get into the official accounts".

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Barker states that she chose to write about World War I "because it's come to stand in for other wars, as a sort of idealism of the young people in August 1914 in Germany and in England. They really felt this was the start of a better world. And the disillusionment, the horror and the pain followed that. I think because of that it's come to stand for the pain of all wars." 

The book was made into a fine film, titled Behind the Lines, which you can find on Netflix.  It closes with this stirring rendition of a poem Wilfred Owen wrote.

 
The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in the thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Using IVF/Surrogacy to Create Anchor Babies  Wesley J. Smith

What a scam. IVF clinics connecting Chinese couples with American surrogate mothers to create new U.S. citizens.

Move to grant personhood rights to great apes, cetaceans, and elephants  while denying personhood rights  to developing humans.

"Plant rights" on NPR

The environmental movement is growing increasingly radical and anti human.  Taking a beat from the animal rights movement, we have seen increasing advocacy for human-stifling agendas such as “nature rights” (now the law of two countries and nearly 30 U.S. municipalities) ”plant dignity” (in Switzerland’s constitution), “river personhood” (recently enacted in New Zealand) and “ecocide,” which would make any and all large scale human uses of the land and exploitation of resources a “crime against peace” akin to genocide and ethnic cleansing. These are not promoted in odd Internet sites, but rather are discussed earnestly and with great respect in such liberal outlets such as the New York Times. Latest example, on NPR:
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I have been pounding the drum that plant rights, nature rights, etc. are inimical to our thriving and liberty because they undermine human exceptionalism and treat rights as something that are ubiquitous and common.  I mean, if everything has rights, really nothing does.

Lesbian TV producer loses custody of her biological daughter in legal first after judge rules ex-lover is 'more responsible parent'

Brook Altman and Allison Scollar had a child six years ago after a friend donated sperm.  When couple split, there was a bitter battle over who should have custody.  Altman fled with daughter to California and accused Scollar of child abuse.  Judge ruled Scollar was more responsible and had child's best interests at heart.

Man sues wife over ugly baby and wins, then a DNA test proved the baby was his and his wife confessed to $100,000 worth of plastic surgery in Korea before they met.

"I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues," he told the Irish Times. "Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me."

Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

“Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.
Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
in California, their sense of siege grew more intense in September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning use of widely discredited sexual “conversion therapies” for minors — an assault on their own validity, some ex-gay men feel….But many ex-gays have continued to seek help from such therapists and men’s retreats, saying their own experience is proof enough that the treatment can work.

Scientists Turn Stem Cells into Sex Cells

This week, researchers working with mice reported in the journal Nature that they had successfully used stem cells to create oocytes (egg cells) for the first time. A similar approach could presumably be developed eventually for human oocytes.
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Employing adult stem cells to treat infertility and avoid the use of donated eggs could actually be a way to restore the integrity of the family and of human reproduction. Ensuring that technologies like this are used in ways that serve the human good rather than demean human dignity is a central task of bioethics, a task that calls for not just a clear understanding of the science but also public deliberation and, if necessary, regulation.


'Three people, one baby' public consultation begins 
after UK scientists created "designer embryos" containing DNA from a man and two women

California Multiple Parents Bill: Proposed Legislation Would Allow Children To Have Three Or More Parents

The measure doesn't expand the current definition of what qualities as a "parent." It simply allows for that definition to apply to three or more people--something that could easily become an issue in cases of surrogate parents or if a non-blood relative voluntarily signs a legal statement of parenthood.

Making babies to make ends meet

I’ve given birth to three girls. I cannot imagine carrying a child for a stranger. When people say, “That’s so much money!” I say, “This is not a job where you take a break, lie down and rest, go on vacation for a week. She’s pregnant 24-7. Oh, and there’s the part where she could die.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

October 15, 2012

Compare the Persecution of Christians elsewhere and the treatment of Muslims here

In just one month Muslim Persecution of Christians: August, 2012

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Jihad Killings and Christian Displacement in Iraq, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria and Syria

Church Attacks in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and Syria

Punishment for Apostasy, Blasphemy and Proselytism In Egypt, Pakistan, Tanzania and Tunisia

General Abuse, Debasement and Suppression of Non-Muslims in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan

Here in the United States, another cause for shame. Muslims Offended--Soldier's Career Destroyed--Official Army Records Show Loss to Nation

During a Pentagon press conference on May 10, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly excoriated Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a highly decorated combat veteran. His reason: The course on Islamic Radicalism which LTC Dooley was teaching at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) of the National Defense University was offensive to Muslims.

General Dempsey characterized LTC Dooley's course as "totally objectionable," and ordered all material offensive to Islam scrubbed from military professional education within the JFSC and elsewhere. But that's not all. LTC Dooley was fired from his instructor position and given an ordered negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER) -- the death-knell for a military career.

The actions against LTC Dooley follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 signed by 57 Muslim organizations demanding that all training materials offensive to Islam and Muslims be purged and the trainers disciplined.

Our state department sent Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was picked to represent the United States government at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual 10-day human rights conference, a representative who is anti-Israel, a sympathizer with Hamas and Hezbollah and a 9/11 truther.

The ACLU is hard at work protecting terrorist funding and Sultan Knish  reports on the  Muslim Takeover of the ACLU.

The ACLU now counts at least eight Muslims on its national executive staff alone. In fact, a Muslim runs the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, while another heads its National Security Project.  The irony is not lost on Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“The ACLU was founded on the basis that there shouldn’t be any blasphemy laws,” said Emerson, who’s airing a new documentary, “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.” “Yet in the last 10 years, they’ve appointed (to their boards) members of the Muslim Brotherhood who believe in blasphemy laws.”

One brave journalist tells the truth Lara Logan on "the Taliban Are Losing" and Other Lies the Administration Tells

“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . . The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban. There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!” She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.” Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.

Michael Coren on  The Tale of Two Religions

The West may hate Catholicism and be too intimidated or seduced to stand firm against Islamic extremism, but one day it will discover just how different those religions are, and feel the consequences in a manner it cannot even imagine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

October 10, 2012

Shinya Yamanka's Nobel Prize

 Shinya Yamanaka

The Healer

Shinya Yamanaka, a scientist at Kyoto University, loved stem-cell research. But he didn’t want to destroy embryos. So he figured out a way around the problem. In a paper published five years ago in Cell, Yamanaka and six colleagues showed how “induced pluripotent stem cells” could be derived from adult cells and potentially substituted, in research and therapy, for embryonic stem cells. Today, that discovery earned him a Nobel Prize, shared with British scientist John Gurdon. But the prize announcement and much of the media coverage missed half the story. Yamanaka’s venture wasn’t just an experiment. It was a moral project.

In the introduction to their Cell paper, Yamanaka and his colleagues outlined their reasons for seeking an alternative to conventional embryonic stem-cell research. “Ethical controversies” came first in their analysis. Technical reasons—the difficulty of making patient-specific embryonic stem cells—came second. After the paper’s publication, Yamanaka told a personal story, related by the New York Times:
Inspiration can appear in unexpected places. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka found it while looking through a microscope at a friend’s fertility clinic. … [H]e looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka. … “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
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Yamanaka transformed that debate forever. He tore down the wall between preserving embryos and saving lives. He did what only a scientist could have done: He made it possible for both sides to win. In the words of Julian Savulescu, an ethicist and supporter of embryonic stem-cell research, Yamanaka “deserves not only a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but a Nobel Prize for Ethics.”

Bravo!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2012

Richer than Romney and still on the dole

Big Bird makes more money than Mitt Romney, but is still on the government dole.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about $450million from Congress each year. About $280million goes to PBS and the local stations.
Federal funding makes up about 12 per cent of the PBS budget.
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Shows like Sesame Street are multi-million dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market. According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 -- nearly a million dollars -- in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, "Sesame Street" made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.

If you break that down, it works out to over $50 million a year "Sesame Street" is taking in from all that merchandising.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2012

UN Head: Free Speech a 'Gift'

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson said yesterday in a press conference, Free Speech a 'Gift'

Free speech is a “gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights,”  It is “a privilege,” Eliasson said, “that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations.”
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Eliasson’s boss Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last month that using “freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs” was not worthy of protection. Rather, Ban Ki-moon indicated that such freedom only deserved protection when “used for common justice, common purpose.”
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I agree completely with Mark Steyn, Behead All Those Who Insult Free Speech

Free speech is a gift given to us in 1948 by U.N. officials? Who knew?

The only appropriate response of free-born peoples to such a statement is: **** off, ******. Free speech is not in the gift of minor Swedish timeserving hack bureaucrats, either to grant or withdraw…… In the end, the one-way multiculturalism of craven squishes like Eliasson will destroy our world. Nuts to him and to the U.N.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

September 20, 2012

Sin in Breaking Bad. UPDATED

Sin, the very word sounds archaic.  Yet, Kyle Roberts at Patheos makes a convincing case that society still needs 'sin' language.

He explores Breaking Bad, the TV drama that just showed its mid-session-finale.  Like Roberts and millions of others, I am hooked on the drama but all of us will have to wait until next summer to see the second half of the fifth season and the final conclusion of the story of the corrosion of one man's soul and its devastating effects on the people around him.

 Walter White-1

For those of you who haven't seen it Roberts provides a quick summary:

the drama about Walter White, a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer. When Walt learned he had a severe case of lung cancer, and was given only months to live, the scramble was on for a way to provide for his family. He fell in with Jesse, a former student turned meth dealer, and discovered he could apply his chemistry skills to make crazy powerful meth (and loads of cash). Of course, along the way Walt finds himself in all sorts of trials and tribulations–doing and seeing things a reserved, educated “family man” with a Ph.D. in chemistry could have never anticipated…

Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, has affirmed that his goal is to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface. Gilligan has noted that the problem with most television shows is the “stasis” of its characters. They don’t change much, because consistency secures longevity. Breaking Bad is going to end after season five, and it’s not going to be pretty.

One of the geniuses of this show is that it seems to highlight the necessity for the theological category of “sin.” The show doesn’t so much dance around questions of moral ambiguity as it does put the viewer face to face with our potential for unabated moral depravity and for the inane ways in which we might try to “justify” that depravity. That conscientious, highly educated, high school teacher and family man could make a series of existential choices that lead him down a path of dramatic, moral and personal transformation (through which he contributes, directly or indirectly, to the personal destruction of others), seems outrageous to us. But empirical observation (and recent, tragic news events) confirms this is an actual possibility. As theologian Reinhold Niebuhr famously noted, “The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.”
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as Kierkegaard believed, sin is an absurd “position,” in which one refuses to accept the basic limitations of our finitude. Sin is the refusal to submit ourselves to God and to embrace the weaknesses of our humanity. Sin is, for Kierkegaard, when anxiety turns to despair and when, in despair, one refuses to give oneself over to God. Sin is Walter White refusing to accept his death and trampling on others in order to secure an inheritance for his family–and to do it “my way.” “I earned this,” he says.

As a society, we cannot interpret the immoral actions of human beings solely by reference to neurology gone haywire, nor can we belittle the consequences of sinful actions by a empathetic deference to the sacredness of personal choice.

Only the language of sin adequately describes the way of life Walter White chose, a disordered way of thinking and behaving.  One commenter adds:

We simply are lost for words adequate to describe our experience in this world without a deep understanding of sin, and particularly, the Augustinian one of prideful reaching, the idolatrous rejection of limits that we see displayed in Walter White. The one thing I would add to it, is that it is not just the rejection of our finitude that characterizes our sin. The other problem is the deification of a finite good such as family, relationships, money, security, etc. so that it replaces God within the moral landscape we inhabit. Once that is done, we will inevitably follow its commands, (because all gods have commandments to obey), and be transformed into the image of what we worship. This component, the making ultimate of non-ultimate things, is the idolatry that Augustine, Kierkegaard (Sickness Unto Death), as well as H. Richard Niebuhr spoke of that gives sin its forward propulsion.

UPDATE:  Jack Thornton at Word on Fire compares Breaking Bad to Paradise Lost

Sin exists, sin matters, and “Breaking Bad” confronts this reality head on.
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The fear of death and the driving desire to provide for one’s family are very powerful, and one can at least sympathize with these emotions even while one condemns his decision to create a dangerous narcotic. But as the show continues it is clear that the central motivation for his actions is not something so noble as the desire to provide for his wife and children. It’s pride. He wants to feel powerful and influential. He wants to be in control of both his own fate and the fate of others. He wants to use his chemistry talents to be the best at something. He wants to be feared. And so, when he is offered a way out, a way to pay for his treatment and legally, safely provide for his family for the rest of their lives, he rejects it because he considers it charity and, in his arrogant opinion, charity is a bad thing.

So, driven by pride, Walter sets out into the world of drug trafficking and with each step falls deeper and deeper into sin and crime.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:58 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2012

"The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality"

A quote worth pondering via Rod Dreher from political philosopher J. Budziszewski taken from his book on the natural law, "What We Can't Not Know".

We are passing through an eerie phase of history in which the things that everyone really knows are treated as unheard-of doctrines, a time in which the elements of common decency are themselves attacked as indecent. Nothing quite like this has ever happened before. Although our civilization has passed through quite a few troughs of immorality, never before has vice held the high moral ground. Our time considers it dirty-minded to treat sexual purity as a virtue; unfeeling to insist too firmly that the sick should not be encouraged to seek death; a sign of impious pride to profess humble faith in God. The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality. We call affirming it “being judgmental” and “being intolerant,” which is our way of saying it has been judged and will not be tolerated.

From the Booklist review at Amazon:

According to the natural law, a concept Christianity adopted and modified from Greek and Roman philosophy, knowledge of God's existence and of fundamental moral principles constitutes humanity's universal common sense. It isn't innate, however, but must be inculcated through traditional moral systems, such as the Tao, the dharma, and the Ten Commandments. Budziszewski invokes the last as best known to most of his potential readers and cites Judaic and Christian scripture, yet this is no religious tract but a philosophical exposition and a disputation on current moral attitudes and issues, especially abortion. Framing the entire presentation in terms of a lost world of moral consensus, Budziszewski says the natural law grounds a rational worldview that has been discredited by sin and guilt, and displaced by world views grounded in sensation  (he is particularly cogent on the varieties of modern atheistic or agnostic feelings). But the natural law weltanschauung could be reestablished, and Budziszewski concludes his superb "guide" with broad advice on how to do so
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2012

Remember When Art Was About Beauty?

The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism by Mark A. Signorelli'

Whereas earlier traditions of artistic creation embraced symmetry within complexity, modernism has embraced extreme simplicity, dislocation, and imbalance. Whereas earlier traditions sought to bring pleasure to an audience — “to teach and delight,” as Horace’s famous dictum would have it — modern art attempts to “nauseate” or “brutalize” an audience (the terms are from Jacques Barzun’s The Use and Abuse of Art). Whereas pre-modern architecture employed scale and ornament, modern architecture aggressively promotes gigantisms and barrenness. Whereas classical literature was grounded in regular grammar and public imagery, modern literature routinely resorts to distortions of syntax and esotericism.
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This is how the farce of modernism ends, with the anti-bourgeois rebel revealed to be a money-grubbing little fraud.
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Nothing is so important to the spiritual and mental flourishing of a people as its art. The stories they tell, the buildings they inhabit, the public spaces in which they gather, the songs they sing, the fashioned images they gaze upon — these things shape their souls more permanently and effectively than anything else. We live in a time when the art all around us accustoms men to, and insinuates into their souls, the most erroneous and degrading ideas imaginable about themselves and their world. A humane society can hardly be expected to grow out of such an adverse cultural environment.

You can read about the multi-millionaire artist Jeff Koons at Wikipedia and be dismayed to learn that he holds the record for the most expensive piece of art created by a living artist ever sold at auction.  His Hanging Heart sold for $23 million.

 Jeff Koons Hanging Heart

His balloon flower beat that by selling for $25 million.

 Jeff Koons Ballon Flower

Here's another example, Acrobat Popeye

 Jeff-Koons-Acrobat-Popeye-001

And he doesn't even do his own work!  He's the 'idea' person and how banal his ideas are.

I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf

“I’m basically the idea person,” Jeff Koons once told an interviewer. “I’m not physically involved in the production. I don’t have the necessary abilities, so I go to the top people.” He paid me $14 an hour, doubling my previous salary as an undergrad shelf-stocker at the Columbia library.
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My job was simple: Paint by numbers. The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes.

When you see this, does beauty even enter your mind?  Are you inspired in any way?  Or do you realize how fraudulent it really is?

 Jeff-Koons-Sculpture-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2012

September 11 now long ago and far away

 911 From Space

Even from space, this view of 9/11 cries out

Station Commander Frank Culbertson…wrote in his diary…"It's horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are."

The Miracle of Human Goodness

The following account, written by a nameless flight attendant in the wake of 9/11 and released into cyberspace like a note in a bottle thrown into the sea, is just one of such rays of sunshine, an uplifting and heartwarming story that restores, if only for a while, one's belief in mankind.
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Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75-kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the "guests." Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes. A young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.  Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools.  People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered great meals.  Everyone was given tokens for local laundromats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.  In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.  The generous hosts also tried their best to entertain the stranded passengers, offering them all kinds of excursions.  Some guests were taken on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors.  Some went for hikes in the forests.  Finally, when U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late.  The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane each needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving.

Read to the very end.

 Tribute-In-Light

The Problem with Moving On From 9/11

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the crime, is dead, as President Obama and his supporters constantly remind us and for that we are thankful. But Al Qaeda is far from destroyed. The Islamist terrorist war against the West is not over and those who act as if it is are doing the country a disservice.


Americans are, we are constantly told, weary of the wars that followed 9/11 and it is hard to blame them for that. The United States has left Iraq and the mess that our exit is causing may undo the victory that President Bush’s surge made possible. We are soon to leave Afghanistan, a decision that may eventually lead to power for Al Qaeda’s Taliban allies. Throughout the Middle East, terrorists loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda persist. So do others that call themselves by different names. In Gaza, the Islamists of Hamas have created an independent terrorist state in all but name. In Lebanon, the Islamists of Hezbollah now dominate the government. In Iran, an Islamist state funds terror throughout the region and works to build a nuclear bomb as the West pursues ineffectual measures to stop them.

It is true that more than a decade of hard work by American intelligence services has prevented another 9/11. Given that most experts thought a second tragedy was almost inevitable, this is no small achievement. But the problem with this battle is that it needs more than constant vigilance from those tasked with protecting the country. It also requires the sort of patience that the citizens of democracies rarely possess.

NBC’s ‘Today’ Skips 9/11 Moment Of Silence For Kardashian Interview

The cable networks all carried it, with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” carrying it as well. The only national general news program to not carry the moment of silence was NBC’s ‘Today,” which, in an odd bit of counter-programming, opted to air an interview with “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Kris Jenner, who talked about the new season of the reality show, and her breast implants.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2012

Signs of the Times

Some of today's news would have been unimaginable just 25 years except in the most dystopian science fiction.

Biological father denied access to child Canadian Sperm Donor Father Denied Access to Son Being Raised by Lesbians.
From the judge's opinion:

"Citing arguments that introducing the child to his father would cause the boy confusion and insecurity, "

Mom gives birth to her own grandson

Newborn Madden Hebert became his own uncle when his grandmother gave birth to him last week, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Madden’s mother, Angel Hebert, 25, was unable to have children due to a heart condition that made it unsafe for her to get pregnant.
According to the Herald, Hebert’s mother, 49-year-old Linda Sirois, had offered for years to be a surrogate mother for her daughter in case she could not get pregnant.  Hebert and her husband, Brian, got the news last summer.
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Sirois reached out to fertility clinics around New England. Many rejected her because of her age, but the Reproductive Science Center in Lexington, Massachusetts agreed to impregnate her by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) using Hebert's egg fertilized with Brian's sperm.

Protestors greet delegates to the RNC dressed as giant vaginas

Women across the country took off their tops and exercised their right to bare breasts

Men, Who Needs Them? In the New York Times, an op ed columnist with very strange ideas about biology, says men are not necessary for human reproduction.  You were you before there was a you.

Think about your own history. Your life as an egg actually started in your mother’s developing ovary, before she was born; you were wrapped in your mother’s fetal body as it developed within your grandmother.  After the two of you left Grandma’s womb, you enjoyed the protection of your mother’s prepubescent ovary.

Hannah Rosin's much discussed essay in the Atlantic, Boys on the Side, claims female success and equality is due to the hookup culture

To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.

The New Eugenics.  An Oxford academic states that creating designer babies could be considered a moral obligation as it makes them grow up into ''ethically better children".  Professor Julian Savulescu, an 'expert' in practical ethics  and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics said

that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to "harm themselves and others".
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He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality – with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.  By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out.

In the end, he said that "rational design" would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future. "If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should."

Does that include the "Gay Gene"?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2012

"Something that contains great truths has been almost universally reviled"

Mary Eberstadt:  I was ‘blown away’ by Pope Paul VI’s accurate predictions about the sexual revolution

BJ: It certainly underscored the importance of everything you’re talking about. Your book does not discuss health care but renders a more valuable service, which is to talk about the ramifications of widespread recreational sex and its effects. You pick up the baton from none other than Pope Paul VI, as you mention. You flesh out the predictions of his encyclical Humanae Vitae in your book’s last chapter very well. What did you find prophetic about it, and were you surprised it was as indicative as it turned out to be?

EB: I was indeed surprised. I did not read Humanae Vitae until just a few years ago, just a few years shy of its 40th anniversary, and when I finally read the document through I was just blown away by its understanding of what the world would look like if the sexual revolution proceeded.

The main thing that surprised me was its understanding of what would happen to the relation between the sexes. Humanae Vitae predicted that in a world of contraceptive sex, men and women would not get along as well, that once you sever procreation from recreational sex men would look down on women. He also advanced the idea that there would be a lowering of standards of conduct between the sexes. All of this, I argue, has come true, and yet the secular world has refused to acknowledge its truth. That to me is a paradox, because if you were to ask which document of modern times was the most unwanted and reviled document it would have be Humanae Vitae, right? Across the world, it is seen as a laughingstock in some places, as a profoundly undesired testament in others, yet this document contains more truth about the sexual revolution and the world it would usher in than any other document. We’re left here with a great paradox – I really believe that – that something that contains great truths has been almost universally reviled. And that in itself was justification enough to undertake this book.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 PM | Permalink

Jonathan Chait fesses up and tells the truth

Jonathan Chait, a liberal, writes in New York magazine, The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Is on Your Screen

The more uncomfortable reality is that the culture war is an ongoing liberal rout. Hollywood is as liberal as ever, and conservatives have simply despaired of changing it.

You don’t have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television (I’m not) to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism
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In short, the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. That shared reality is the cultural assumptions, in particular, of the younger voters whose support has become the bedrock of the Democratic Party.
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Set aside the substance of the matter and consider the process of it—that is, think of it from the conservative point of view, if you don’t happen to be one. Imagine that large chunks of your entertainment mocked your values and even transformed once-uncontroversial beliefs of yours into a kind of bigotry that might be greeted with revulsion. You’d probably be angry, too.
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By now, conservatives have almost completely stopped complaining about Hollywood, even as the provocations have intensified. What passes for a right-wing movie these days is The Dark Knight Rises, which submits the rather modest premise that, irritating though the rich may be, actually killing them and taking all their stuff might be excessive.
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For the most part, your television is not consciously attempting to alter your political beliefs. It is mainly transmitting an ethos in which greed is not only bad but the main wellspring of evil, authority figures of all kinds are often untrustworthy, sexual freedom is absolute, and social equality of all kinds is paramount.
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We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 PM | Permalink

Religion Roundup: In Egypt, call to kill Christians, Pakistani Christians flee, Pope Pius XII framed, quality of Israeli sperm plummeting

Murder of Copts Begins After Genocide Call

Hours after leaflets from Egypt’s jihadi organizations were distributed promising to “reward” any Muslim who kills any Christian Copt in Egypt, specifically naming several regions including Asyut, a report recently appeared concerning the random killing of a Christian store-owner.

A 12-year-old Pakistani girl who is retarded has been arrested for blasphemy.  She either burned a Koran deliberately or inadvertently and she's now in jail facing the death penalty and her family is in protective custody.  As many as 600 Pakistani Christians Fearing Backlash Flee the Area.

The Framing of Pius XII - From Skepticism to Belief

Professor Ronald J. Rychlak is an expert on the “Hitler’s Pope” controversy surrounding Venerable Pope Pius XII.  But despite being a defender of Pius XII’s wartime record in saving Jewish lives from the Holocaust, the American law professor at the University of Mississippi was initially skeptical of claims, first disclosed by former Romanian intelligence chief General Ion Mihai Pacepa in 2007, that efforts to blacken Pius’s name were driven by a Soviet plot.

Yet after two years of research and regular contact with Pacepa, his perception changed, and he is now convinced that the KGB played a key role in framing Pius XII by promoting The Deputy – Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 play that gave birth to the “Black Legend” of Pius as a Nazi sympathizer.

'I can still see the horror that made me flee Pakistan - in the haunted eyes of girls raised HERE': Nadira Naipaul exposes arranged marriages and honor killings in the UK

When I married V.  S. Naipaul and moved to England in 1996, I thought I had left the horror behind.  Pakistan had drained my resolve, and I was tired of fighting a losing battle. To me, England, for all its ills, was the promised land.

Instead, I have found the horror I fled has followed me here. It is all around, eroding the very core of everything Britain believes in.

Israeli sperm banks find quality is plummeting

But finding such super sperm isn't as easy as it used to be. Only 1 in 100 donors makes the cut. A decade ago, it was 1 in 10….
Simply put, the quality of Israeli sperm is falling at an alarming rate, and no one's sure exactly why.

Fertility is a major issue in Israel, where memories of the Holocaust genocide are fresh, and having children is an entrenched part of Judaism.
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"People in Israel are getting quite a load of estrogen," said Laurence Shore, a retired hormone and toxicology researcher at the Kimron Veterinary Institute near Tel Aviv. "I don't think it's a good idea to expose children to such high levels of estrogen."
He said that no studies so far have determined that estrogen levels in Israel are harming humans, adding that exposure may be too low for that. But he said it might be a factor in the sperm decline.  His research has found Israeli milk and associated products such as butter and cheese can contain 10 times as much estrogen as products from other countries because of Israel's aggressive milk-production practices.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink

"Men took to changing wives with the same zest which they displayed in the consumption of the recently restored forty-per-cent vodka."

This Atlantic article sounds remarkably like the arguments in today's culture wars is from 1926, The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage - A Woman Resident in Russia.

The question whether marriage as an institution should be abolished is now being debated all over Russia with a violence and depth of passion unknown since the turbulent early days of the Revolution. Last October a bill eliminating distinctions between registered and unregistered marriages and giving the unmarried consort the status and property rights of the legal wife was introduced in the Tzik, or Central Executive Committee. So much unforeseen opposition to the proposed law developed that the Tzik decided to postpone its final adoption until the next session, meanwhile initiating a broad popular discussion of the project.

Since that time factories, offices, clubs, and various Soviet organizations and institutions have passed resolutions for and against the bill, and the halls have not been able to hold the eager crowds that thronged to the meetings in city, town, and village. One must live in Russia to-day, amid the atmosphere of torment, disgust, and disillusionment that pervades sex relations, the chaos, uncertainty, and tragedy that hover over the Russian family, to understand the reasons for this heated discussion, for these passionate pros and cons.
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At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage. Chaos was the result. Men took to changing wives with the same zest which they displayed in the consumption of the recently restored forty-per-cent vodka.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2012

Poverty or squalor, encounter in a coffee shop, 'start doing', you already have enough

Some worthwhile longer reads

Theodore Dalyrmple What is Poverty

What do we mean by poverty? Not what Dickens or Blake or Mayhew meant. Today, no one seriously expects to go hungry in England or to live without running water or medical care or even TV.
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Certainly they are in squalor—a far more accurate description of their condition than poverty—despite a threefold increase in per-capita income, including that of the poor, since the end of the last war.
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Every few months, doctors from countries like the Philippines and India arrive fresh from the airport to work for a year's stint at my hospital. It is fascinating to observe their evolving response to British squalor.
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Before very long, though, they start to feel a vague unease. A Filipina doctor, for example, asked me why so few people seemed grateful for what was done for them.
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I asked the doctor from Madras if poverty was the word he would use to describe this woman's situation. He said it was not: that her problem was that she accepted no limits to her own behavior, that she did not fear the possibility of hunger, the condemnation of her own parents or neighbors, or God. In other words, the squalor of England was not economic but spiritual, moral, and cultural.
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I tell the doctors that in all my visits to the white households in the area, of which I've made hundreds, never—not once—have I seen any evidence of cooking. The nearest to this activity that I have witnessed is the reheating of prepared and packaged food, usually in a microwave
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By the end of three months my doctors have, without exception, reversed their original opinion that the welfare state, as exemplified by England, represents the acme of civilization. On the contrary, they see it now as creating a miasma of subsidized apathy that blights the lives of its supposed beneficiaries. They come to realize that a system of welfare that makes no moral judgments in allocating economic rewards promotes antisocial egotism. The spiritual impoverishment of the population seems to them worse than anything they have ever known in their own countries

Joel Runyon tells the story of An Unexpected Ass Kicking and then goes on to write the 7 Things I Learned from My Unexpected Encounter with Russell Kirsch

Most of all. Stop reading. Start doing. There’s a lot of things that haven’t been done yet that need you to go do them. Go.

What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'.

Because of her child's problems, the author will never have a tidy, peaceful life. But none of this keeps her from being happy -- as long as she asks herself the right questions.
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When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, "Can we have it all?" -- with "all" being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, "Do we have enough?"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2012

A Range of Astonishing

Astonishing.  Harvard Researchers Can Store All the Data Humans Make in a Year on 4 grams of DNA

Forget that hard drive humming inside your computer – the most efficient memory storage device on the planet might be locked up in each and every cell in your body…The result is a method of storing data so dense that it makes most modern tech seem like wasted space.

The team estimates that the every piece of digital information humankind produces in a year could be stored in about four grams of DNA.

Astonishing. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has begun crucifixions

The Arab Spring takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood has run amok, with reports from several different media agencies that the radical Muslims have begun crucifying opponents of newly installed President Mohammed Morsi.

Middle East media confirm that during a recent rampage, Muslim Brotherhood operatives “crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”

Astonishing. Incredible shot of US swimmer that perfectly shows the phenomenon of surface tension

 Us Swimmer Surface Tension Water
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2012

Why persuade and convince when you can browbeat

Some comments on the HHS mandate now in effect.

George Weigel writes

The administration has not made any serious effort to address the concerns over the mandate that have been vigorously pressed by Catholic bishops, Catholic employers, pro-life Americans of all religious persuasions and none, and civil-society advocates. The administration’s alleged “accommodation” of these concerns — after the White House appeared to have been blindsided by the ferocity of the response to the original mandate — was quickly recognized for the accounting shell game it was and is. As such, it was rejected as an unacceptable governmental intrusion into the unique mission of religious bodies, even by religious institutions and associations that had supported Obamacare.

Speaker John Boehner issued a statement

The administration’s mandate stands today not because it is sound policy; not because it reflects the will of the people; not because it is consistent with the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.  The mandate stands today because the Democratic-controlled Senate preemptively blocked legislation that would have reversed this attack on religious freedom.  And it stands because the President of the United States has refused to listen to the people and institutions that built a great nation.

David French in Self-Indulgence as a Foundational Virture

The imposition of the HHS mandate combined with the continuing — and inane — campaign against Chick-fil-A demonstrates how we’re replacing our founding virtues of industry, honesty, marriage, and religiosity (as described in Charles Murray’s invaluable Coming Apart) with a new prime virtue — self-indulgence. What is remarkable about the Chick-fil-A controversy is the extent to which the company’s entire portfolio of work, its excellent food, welcoming environment, extensive charitable interventions with at-risk families and youth, are nothing but ashes and dust unless Chick-fil-A gets on board with a sexual revolution that places self-indulgence (and defense of that indulgence) over every other cultural value.

He makes another valuable point, Stigma Beats Dogma.  Why persuade and  convince when you can browbeat.

In the battle of ideas, stigma always beats dogma. In other words, through stigmatization, one can defeat a set of ideas or principles without ever “winning” an argument on the merits.
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Here’s a question for conservative parents and teachers: Are we really equipping young people to face the challenges of college if we teach them arguments? Or should we instead be primarily preparing them to face scorn and hate with inner toughness and good cheer? After all, when a professor calls you a “fascist bastard” for defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, what is he doing if not trying to defeat dogma with stigma?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2012

Potpourri of interesting articles you may have missed

Some interesting articles that you may have missed.

When Hyphen Boy Meets Hyphen Girl, Names Pile Up  "We had the potential of being the McKenna-Thomas Camera-Smith household. Which sounded too much like a law firm, really."

PJ Tatler  What Obama could learn from  West Wing

The president’s speech calls to mind a second-season West Wing episode, in which speechwriter Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) explains to the staff of some liberal house members why he won’t insert a line in President Bartlet’s upcoming speech. They want the president to attack Republican tax cut proposals as financing “private jets and swimming pools” for the wealthy. As Seaborn argues:

Henry, last fall, every time your boss got on the stump and said, “It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share,” I hid under a couch and changed my name. I left Gage Whitney making $400,000 a year, which means I paid twenty-seven times the national average in income tax. I paid my fair share, and the fair share of twenty-six other people. And I’m happy to ’cause that’s the only way it’s gonna work, and it’s in my best interest that everybody be able to go to schools and drive on roads, but I don’t get twenty-seven votes on Election Day. The fire department doesn’t come to my house twenty-seven times faster and the water doesn’t come out of my faucet twenty-seven times hotter. The top one percent of wage earners in this country pay for twenty-two percent of this country. Let’s not call them names while they’re doing it, is all I’m saying.

The Big Mistake

The CEO of Peregrine Financial, a futures trading brokerage firm in Iowa, is accused of stealing over $200 million of the customers' money over a 20 year period.  This is one mistake that Russ Wasendorf made.

The bigger mistake was trying to commit suicide and leaving notes for his business partners and his wife. That leaves no question he was trying to commit suicide.  He made the mistake of hooking his tailpipe exhaust to a hose into his car as his suicide method.

Being a successful CEO he undoubtedly has a new car. In order to asphyxiate yourself with carbon monoxide you must use an automobile dating before 1992. Since then catalytic converters have been so successful that there is not sufficient carbon monoxide to commit suicide.

The Washington Post admits that Dan Quayle was right 20 years ago about Murphy Brown; single parenthood should be discouraged.

Why you should 'grin and bear life's problems - it's good for the heart.  Your grandma was right again.

Ed Driscoll, Reality, What a Concept .  For example, what the liberal Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam discovered about ethnic diversity.

...as communities become more ethnically diverse they in fact become socially frayed. In a survey that included interviews with over thirty thousand people, Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. People tend to “hunker down,” in Putnam’s words banding together with a shrunken and shrinking group of friends or alone in front of the TV. Trust in political leaders, the political process, and even voting decline precipitously. Volunteerism, from charitable giving to carpooling, deteriorates. Political activism increases as people look to government to solve problems that once might have been solved by a simple conversation across a coffee table or a shared fence between neighbors.

Note: Putnam did not find that diversity fuels racism; the vast bulk of the people interviewed for the study were not bigots. What he found was that diversity promotes alienation, disengagement, and social isolation. This all runs counter to a host of prevailing clichés and pieties.

In Nature, The mind reader

Adrian Owen has found a way to use brain scans to communicate with people previously written off as unreachable. Now, he is fighting to take his methods to the clinic.

Walter Kirn Confessions of an Ex-Mormon.  A very affecting  personal history of America’s most misunderstood religion.

IPCC Admits Its Past Reports Were Junk

Hidden behind this seemingly routine update on bureaucratic processes is an astonishing and entirely unreported story.  The IPCC is the world's most prominent source of alarmist predictions and claims about man-made global warming.  Its four reports (a fifth report is scheduled for release in various parts in 2013 and 2014) are cited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. and by national academies of science around the world as "proof" that the global warming of the past five or so decades was both man-made and evidence of a mounting crisis.
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In 2010, we learned that much of what we thought we knew about global warming was compromised and probably false.  On June 27, the culprits confessed and promised to do better.  But where do we go to get our money back?

Diesel won't save you money.  Great diesel myth: They DON'T save you money and petrol models 'are more economical for most makes of car'

"Totally re-writing" fashion history is the discovery of medieval bras and bikini panties from the 15th century

Doctors hail jab that can stop Alzheimer's in its tracks for three years.  Bad news: it won't be on the market for years.  Extensive human trials are next

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

July 31, 2012

"Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry"

Cardinal George, a native of Chicago, responds to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's statement that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in Chicago because it does not share 'Chicago values'.

I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval.  Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?  I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.”  Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus
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People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life.  The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage.  This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages.  Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6).  Was Jesus a bigot?  Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan?  Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society?  One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free.

Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.  Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice.  The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

Confirm thy soul in self control

Anthony Dalrymple on Diluting Self-Restraint

First there has been a profound cultural shift in the direction of the abandonment of self-control as a virtue. Thanks to the cultural revolution of the 50s and 60s (of which I am a product), people have fewer self-patrolled boundaries than they once would have had. Managers who once would have felt ashamed to deprive shareholders of their funds no longer do so. One sees this loss of self-control in all walks of life. In the public sector, for example, in which I have spent much of my adult life, the public purse is now shamelessly looted by those who work in it in a way that was inconceivable when I started my career (inefficiency is another question entirely). I could give many other examples, from obesity to gambling to drug-taking and binge-drinking.

Paul Kengor , "Confirm thy soul in self-control"

George Washington, knew the necessity of governing one’s self before a nation’s people were capable of self-governance. As Washington stated in his classic Farewell Address, “’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
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A forgotten philosopher who had an important influence on the American Founders was the Frenchman, Charles Montesquieu, whose work included the seminal book, The Spirit of the Laws (1748). Montesquieu considered various forms of government. In a tyrannical system, people are prompted not by freedom of choice or any expression of public virtue but, instead, by the sheer coercive power of the state, whether by decree of an individual despot or an unaccountable rogue regime. That’s no way for human beings to live. There’s life under such a system, yes, but not much liberty or pursuit of happiness; even life itself is threatened.

Montesquieu concluded that the best form of government is a self-governing one, and yet it is also the most difficult to maintain because it demands a virtuous populace. As noted by John Howard—the outstanding senior fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, & Society—Montesquieu noted that each citizen in a self-governing state must voluntarily abide by certain essential standards of conduct: lawfulness, truthfulness, honesty, fairness, respect for the rights and well-being of others, obligation to one’s spouse and children, to name a few.
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Sadly, becoming virtuous has indeed become a monstrous chore in a society not only lacking virtue but eschewing virtue—fleeing virtue like a vampire fleeing a cross. Living life in a good way—what Benedict Groeschel calls The Virtue Driven Life—becomes so alien that the people prefer darkness over light. When virtues are not taught—whether at home, at school, or by America’s educator-in-chief, the TV set—they become unknown and ignored and unfulfilled, desiccated and dead upon the national landscape.

And perhaps saddest of all, as John Howard notes, virtue is something that can be acquired, like learning to speak a culture’s language. Once inculcated, however, it needs to be continuously reinforced by the cultural elements of the society. Virtue needs nourished, like fruitful plants need water and sunlight. Says Howard emphatically: “I want to repeat…. Virtue must be continuously reinforced by the culture.”
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Consider this line from one of our sacred political hymns, America, the Beautiful:

America, America,
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

That’s the ticket: Confirm thy soul in self-control. Our liberty is enshrined in our laws, but liberty should not be license for opportunities for the flesh. Our liberties, protected and permitted as they are, should not be exploited to do anything and everything we want, including things harmful to oneself, to one’s family, to one’s neighbors, to one’s culture, to one’s country. That misunderstanding and abuse of freedom is what Pope Benedict XVI calls a “confused ideology of freedom,” one that can engender “the self-destruction of freedom” for others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Happy Birthday Milton Friedman

Today is the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman, The Man Who Saved Capitalism

Well over 200 million were liberated from poverty thanks to the rediscovery of the free market. And now as the world teeters close to another recession, leaders need to urgently rediscover Friedman's ideas.

I remember asking Milton, a year or so before his death, during one of our semiannual dinners in downtown San Francisco: What can we do to make America more prosperous? "Three things," he replied instantly. "Promote free trade, school choice for all children, and cut government spending."

How much should we cut? "As much as possible."

Thanks to YouTube, Milton Friedman can be watched in all his glory. All ten episodes of his PBS series Free to Choose are there.
Here is a short except on what he has to say about  Greed.

 

The editors at the National Review extol Professor Freedom

His work in the end was not about numbers, data, or equations, but about the alleviation of unnecessary human suffering and the removal of barriers to human flourishing. As he put it: “The only cases in recorded history in which the masses have escaped grinding poverty is where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.”
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He was unstinting in his criticism, but he was a famously happy warrior. His wit was one of his great pedagogical tools. Inspecting a government-run canal-building project in Asia, he noted that the workers were using shovels and wheelbarrows instead of bulldozers and earth-moving equipment, and was informed by his guide that using shovels meant more jobs for the workers. “Then why not use spoons?” Friedman asked.
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Capitalism, Friedman argued, was good not because we need not protect the worker and the consumer, but because capitalism actually protects the worker and the consumer, while government merely makes proclamations about doing so.

Kevin Williamson on Freidman's Economics of Love.

Friedman’s libertarianism was based on an economics of love: for real human beings leading real human lives with real human needs and real human challenges. He loved freedom not only because it allowed IBM to pursue maximum profit but because it allowed for human flourishing at all levels. Economic growth is important to everybody, but it is most important to the poor.

Thomas Sowell calls Friedman

one of those rare thinkers who had both genius and common sense. Most people would not be able to understand the complex economic analysis that won him a Nobel Prize, but people with no knowledge of economics had no trouble understanding his popular books like Free to Choose or the TV series of the same name.
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As a professor, he did not attempt to convert students to his political views. I made no secret of the fact that I was a Marxist when I was a student in Professor Friedman’s course, but he made no effort to change my views. He once said that anybody who was easily converted was not worth converting.  I was still a Marxist after taking Professor Friedman’s class. Working as an economist in the government converted me.
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Although Milton Friedman became someone regarded as a conservative icon, he considered himself a liberal in the original sense of the word — someone who believes in the liberty of the individual, free of government intrusions. Far from trying to conserve things as they are, he wrote a book titled Tyranny of the Status Quo.

Milton Friedman proposed radical changes in policies and institutions ranging from the public schools to the Federal Reserve. It is liberals who want to conserve and expand the welfare state.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

We need more cowboys

A combination of causes has led to " a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization": the destruction of the California rural middle class, illegal immigration, terrible governance and a coarsening of the popular culture.

Victor Davis Hanson says in California: The Road Warrior is Here

Like Road Warrior, again, what frightens is this mishmash of violence with foppish culture, of official platitudes and real-life chaos: the illiterate and supposedly impoverished nonetheless fishing through the discounted video game barrel at Wal-Mart; the much-heralded free public transit bus zooming around on electrical or natural gas power absolutely empty of riders, as the impoverished prefer their Camrys and Civics; ads encouraging new food stamp users as local fast-food franchises have lines of cars blocking traffic on the days when government cards are electronically recharged; the politician assuring us that California is preeminent as he hurries home to his Bay Area cocoon.

Meanwhile Peach growers in California say their crops are rotting because they can't find enough workers to pick them despite unemployment figures breaking nearly 19 per cent in parts.

Both Mr Gill and his nephew Gurpreet, a business specialist who helps his uncle on his days off, say it's not that there aren't people available; it's that they would rather work idle hours at a fast food restaurant despite less pay.

In Philadelphia, urban cowboys tackle gang violence and drugs in The Wire meets the Wild West

Describing themselves as 'ghetto fabulous', the 'black cowboys' of Fletcher Street take great pride in their status as they fight to ensure that the next generation of young men and boys in the neighborhood do not fall into a life of crime.

One of the last remaining urban riding clubs in the city, the Fletcher Street cowboys are encouraged to care for their horse like it is a family member.
...With names such as Red Pony, Champ, Power, White Chick, One Eye and Easy Like Sunday Morning, the horses are the explicit responsibility of each cowboy. Each steed is 'rescued' from a livestock auction in New Holland in Pennsylvania, which the owners of the club like to think mirrors the second chance that a lot of the cowboys of Fletcher Street have taken.
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'We have a business license. We keep our horses looking good. We may not have the best facility, but we give them the best food money can buy and we love them,' said Lee Cannady, a Philadelphia police officer and lifelong patron of the riding club.
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The urban cowboys of Fletcher Street count discipline, responsibility and accountability as necessary for joining their ranks. 'Once a kid comes around here, it's hard for them to detach themselves,' said White. 'They look at this as another part of the world. You don't have anyone cursing, doing drugs, shouting. 'The kids must bring their report cards. If they get bad grades, they can't ride until they bring their grades up.'

'There's not one murder, not one drug dealer, not one knifing or other crime here,' said White.  'A couple of blocks away, that's not the case.

'When they see us riding around the neighborhood, they follow us. 'We encourage them to come around and see what it's like.'

For some young riders, membership of the club confuses their friends. 'When I first told them they thought it was kind of weird,' said one young cowboy.

'I got one girlfriend. She thinks its adorable.  'On a horse you got people looking at you rather than you looking a people.

'It's ghetto fabulous." 'On the horse we are black cowboys.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2012

"It keeps out fat people with bad taste"

Virginia Postrel, How the Elites Built America's Economic Wall

As I have argued elsewhere, there are two competing models of successful American cities. One encourages a growing population, fosters a middle-class, family-centered lifestyle, and liberally permits new housing. It used to be the norm nationally, and it still predominates in the South and Southwest. The other favors long-term residents, attracts highly productive, work-driven people, focuses on aesthetic amenities, and makes it difficult to build. It prevails on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in picturesque cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first model spurs income convergence, the second spurs economic segregation. Both create cities that people find desirable to live in, but they attract different sorts of residents.
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Finally, there’s the never-mentioned possibility: that the best-educated, most-affluent, most politically influential Americans like this result. They may wring their hands over inequality, but in everyday life they see segregation as a feature, not a bug. It keeps out fat people with bad taste. Paul Krugman may wax nostalgic about a childhood spent in the suburbs where plumbers and middle managers lived side by side. But I doubt that many of his fervent fans would really want to live there. If so, they might try Texas.

Read the article for the economic argument she makes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:12 PM | Permalink

The New McCarthyism on display. Regnerus and Chick-fil-a UPDATED

The new McCarthyism is damning people for what their thoughts or beliefs no matter how offensive they may seem to you.  They were called Thought crimes in George Orwell's prophetic book, Nineteen Eighty-Four .  It is a corrosive virus that threatens our social fabric and is the height of intolerance.

What I call the new McCarthyism is on display in two current news stories.

First, the story of sociologist Mark Regenerus, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who reported in a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Social Science Research that children in traditional families do better than those raised in non-traditional settings.    Regnerus is now under investigation after complaints have been made to the President of the University that

his research is unethical because it is “a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory.”

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, An Academic Auto-da-Fe

Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.

Regnerus's offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That's it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.
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What is at stake here? First, fair treatment for Regnerus. His antagonists have already damaged his chances of being promoted to full professor. If his critics are successful at besmirching his reputation, his career may be seriously damaged.

But something bigger is at stake: The very integrity of the social-science research process is threatened by the public smearing and vigilante media attacks we have seen in this case. Sociology's progressive orthodoxy and the semi covert activism it prompts threaten the intellectual vitality of the discipline, the quality of undergraduate education, and public trust in academe. Reasonable people cannot allow social-science scholarship to be policed and selectively punished by the forces of activist ideology and politics, from any political quarter. University leaders must resist the manipulation of research review committees by nonacademic culture warriors who happen not to like certain findings.

The second story is Chick-fil-a,    CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press

Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
"We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,"

Terry Mattingly in Get Religion has the full context and points out that CEO Cathy never said anything about gay marriage.

That isn’t what CNN, and others, did in their reports. They reported that Cathy made comments, that he spoke words directly addressing gay-rights issues, that he delivered a series of negative, anti-gay remarks. In effect, Cathy is being quoted saying words that he said, as well as words that he did not say.

The company closes on its 1600 stores on Sundays and has for decades and has never been charged with discrimination of any sort.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino vowed to block the company from opening a restaurant in Boston near the Freedom Trail. Menino  said

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.  “That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

The Jim Henson Co., best known for its namesake's work in creating the Muppets and Kermit the Frog, said it was cutting business ties with the chain. "Our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage,"

According to a statement  issued by the Company, saying it has a history of applying “biblically-based principles” to managing its business, such as closing on Sundays, and it insisted it does not discriminate.

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the statement read. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

The Chicago way.  Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said

There are consequences for freedom of speech (and) in this case the consequences are… you’re not going to have your first free-standing restaurant in Chicago.’’  until the Company comes up with a written policy against discrimination.
Chicago values
  Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed Moreno’s ideological viewpoint, saying the city does not share the values espoused by Dan Cathy, president of the family-owned Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant chain.

I note again there are no charges of discrimination at any of the Company's 1600 restaurants.

Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit

What I think is funny is that if you have the same view on gay marriage that Obama had when he was elected, now you’re an enemy of humanity or something. It’s some sort of, I don’t know, Liberal Fascism or something. . . .

The Boston Globe editorializes with  some common sense
But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.

Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.

I agree with the Anchoress, If you're not sure this is how fascism works

This is not about being “right” or “wrong” on an issue. This is about menacing and bullying people into conforming or paying the price. It’s about the bastardization of the word “tolerace” in our society, to the point where the word no longer means “live and let live” or “let people be who they are”; the word has become distorted in a very unhealthy way. Someone’s a bigot? Let him be a bigot; like it or not, a man is entitled to his damn bigotry. Someone’s a curmudgeon? Let him be a curmudgeon. Someone’s a misogynist (or, conversely, a male-hater?) let them be! People are entitled to be who they are — just as a church is entitled to be what it is — free of government compulsion to be what they are not. We cannot “make” people be more loving. We cannot “legislate” kindness. A bigot, or a hater (of any sort) will eventually find himself standing alone, will have to figure things out for himself. Or, not.

If people are no longer entitled to their own opinions, or to think what they think, then we are not free people, at all. Period. Full stop. That’s a fundamental as it gets

UPDATE:  Rod Dreher, Bonfire of the Chick-fil-a

This is all about some fake-journalism scheme dreamed up by a few extremely parochial, bourgeois anti-Christian bigots who work in the Newsweek/Daily Beast building in lower Manhattan. It’s not about reforming a great social wrong. It’s about destroying the reputation of a restaurant whose owners are traditional Christians who share the views on marriage of half the country. This has happened before.

To be clear, if someone wants to boycott a business for any reason, that’s their right. The media’s distortion of this story, and Newsweek’s egregious and sleazy advocacy journalism, is what especially ticks me off.

Listen, pro-gay folks: this kind of thing is why many Christians and other social conservatives fear what’s coming. It is not enough for many on your side to achieve your goals of legal equality. You seek to destroy anybody who dissents, including ruining them professionally. And you have the mainstream media on your side.

I will continue to patronize businesses whose owners support gay rights, as long as the products and/0r the service is high quality. Why? Because I can live in a society in which good people can disagree on things, and still get along, and trade with each other. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2012

"We're brutalizing the audience. We're going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum."

Today, there's a general numbing of the audience. There's too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it's not so terrible. Back in the '70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, "We're brutalizing the audience. We're going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum." The respect for human life seems to be eroding.

Director Peter Bogdanovich says Movies are part of the problem

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2012

America's Cultural Revolution

I was educated in the 60s before the "Cultural Revolutions" so I remember the way we were.  Gelernter is harsh but right.

Dismantling of a Culture

DAVID GELERNTER: The Cultural Revolution itself began right after World War II (when our leading colleges were still in the hands of the generally centrist WASP elite) and culminated around 1970, when intellectuals were in control, and preparing to use these universities as platforms for imposing their worldview throughout the schools’ establishment and cultural elite.

So America went lite starting around 1970. The big change was complete by the 1980s: In ’83, “A Nation at Risk” described the mediocrity of our schools; in ’87, Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind described the intellectual corruption of our universities. Both times, these disasters had (of course) already happened. And Bill Bennett, secretary of education under Reagan from ’85 to ’88, repeatedly drew the nation’s attention to this cultural disaster.
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LOPEZ: Is it a bit dramatic to call what’s happened here an actual “cultural revolution”? Was there blood? Mandates?

GELERNTER: American culture had its throat slit and bled to death at our feet. Isn’t that revolutionary enough? The blood is only metaphorical, but to the 40 percent of [all] infants [who are] born to single mothers this year, the consequences will be real.

In a piddling few decades, the world’s most powerful, influential cultural establishment happened to get demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. What had been basically a Christian, patriotic, family-loving, politically moderate part of society became contemptuous of biblical religion, of patriotism, of the family, of American greatness. The American cultural elite used to resemble (more or less) the rest of America. Today it disdains the rest of America. That’s a revolution.
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LOPEZ: You write that we are “facing a terrible problem with a fairly simple solution. But the problem must be solved soon, or we lose a crucial advantage. There are still plenty of people around who were educated before the cultural revolution and remember the way we were: our schools, colleges, the press and the civilized world generally striving — with partial success at best, but fine persistence — to tell the truth. Principled conservatives and liberals remember it all fondly. They don’t want to go back in time. They don’t want to restore an old world; they want to build a new one that we can be as proud of as William DeVane was proud of America in 1957. We want a country whose national leaders are known for ‘integrity, idealism and skill’; where our college teachers are ‘learned and devoted’; where America herself is ‘the wonder and envy of other nations.’” You add: “In short, we want to go back to telling the truth.” But whose truth, Professor?

GELERNTER: Everyone’s truth. Mankind’s. Truth transcends time, place, and cultural tastes. This is a revealing, sad question for what it says about the pervasiveness of deconstruction, post-structuralism, and other games we play with the truth, all so much easier and more fun than actually finding the truth. Who does Leviticus 19 belong to, or the Ten Commandments? To mankind, and they are true for all mankind. A whole generation has been taught that truth is just a matter of taste. This is false.

Sure, we disagree about evidence. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions. We might be the jury at a murder trial, with twelve different opinions among us and no sure way of knowing who is right. But one thing we do know for sure: The truth exists, whether we can find it or not.
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GELERNTER: This was and remains a religious country. There is nothing hypothetical (barring some unthinkable catastrophe) about the survival and success of Judaism and Christianity in America. Many left-wing religious brands are out of business or flailing helplessly as they take on water, but up-to-date religion never did make sense, because religion is our lifeline and a sort of love letter to our families, our ancestors, and our better selves.

David Brooks struck a similar note when he wrote Why Our Elites Stink

Over the past half–century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.

Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It’s not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys’ network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.
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The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2012

Loneliness and Friendship

It's a sign of just how lonely many people are that one woman chose to keep her the death of her companion Charles Zigler secret for 18 months.

She kept him in his chair after he died, keeping him dressed and cleaned. His body did not stink, she said. She would talk to him and watch NASCAR races on television with him.
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Chase kept Zigler's body around for more than NASCAR races, however. She's admitted to cashing his social security checks, saying "I'm probably going to prison." She's currently being investigated. When family members, with whom Zigler did not have a close relationship, tried to contact him, Chase would tell them that he was gone. She told the paper that "It's not that I'm heartless. It's just that after so many bad things happen to you, I don't know.

"I didn't want to be alone. He was the only guy who was ever nice to me."

In the New York Times, Alex Williams asks Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.
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External factors are not the only hurdle. After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with, said Marla Paul, the author of the 2004 book “The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore.” “The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita,” she said.

Metafilter opens the discussion, We the People ….Are Lonely  and offers links to social sites with the explicit goal of platonic matchmaking and a political take as well.

For a more political view of friendship, you might want to look for Giles Slade's forthcoming book, "The Big Disconnect." Writing in the Times Comments Section, he sees the demise of friendship as a result of late-stage capitalism: "Life has become increasingly isolated for more than a century now. This happened when we left the large extended agricultural family and community for the economic competition of our growing urban centers.

 We are increasingly encouraged to live single lives and the single life has become a growing trend. Romantic coupledom and lifelong unions are decreasing radically in favor of serial monogamy. We are alone more often than ever before.

 This is simply an economic condition of consumerism. Solitary consumers need more goods than family groups which shares its appliances, cars, housing…." And "[a]s everything in our lives becomes commodified (time, leisure and relationships) we become less generous and less skillful with others."

The loneliness that characterizes the lives of so many Americans is not  new.  From  Emailed Conversations with Four Trappist Monks

Mother Theresa, visiting the U.S. for the first time in the 70s, said she had never seen poverty like what she saw here and she meant the loneliness of Americans. The breakdown and relinquishment of shared value systems and traditions, has left individuals adrift in a private search for God and meaning. This is a terribly lonely way to live. In America, loneliness can become like the blueness of the sky. After a while, people don't think about it anymore.  Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

Mother Theresa knows what she is talking about. 

One of the most surprising consequences of my reversion back to the Catholic faith  after 40 years living a secular life with occasional bursts of spirituality was the number of friends I've made.  By being part of a parish community of practicing Catholics, I see many of them every Sunday and others at parish events and concerts.

At every Mass in the Confiteor each person acknowledges before God and our brothers and sisters that  'I" have greatly sinned in  what I have done and what I have failed to do and together  we ask the angels and saints and brothers and sisters to pray for us before the Lord, Our God.  In the most diverse community I have ever been in, our unity comes from the faith we share and want to grow in.  I now have several people that I can confide in and they in me.  iBeing part of a faith community over time satisfies all three conditions of friendship.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:05 PM | Permalink

July 6, 2012

SlowTech

Are you addicted to your smartphone?  Do you find yourself constantly distracted?    Does technology fill up all the gaps in your day?

Then you should watch Joe Kraus on Slow Tech

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2012

The 'Pathologization of Life'

Katherine Sharpe, author of "Coming of Age on Zoloft"  talks about teenagers and antidepressants in The Medication Generation

Lacking a reliable conception of what it is to feel "like themselves," young people have no way to gauge the effects of the drugs on their developing personalities.
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For adolescents, who are already struggling with these questions, medication can distort the development of self-awareness. "Because teens are presented with the question of 'Who am I?', being a person who takes medication gets included in that quest," says Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist in Walnut Creek, Calif. Sometimes they do it in a negative way, she says, either by dwelling on the idea of being a person with a sickness or focusing on their inability to know whether their feelings are "real."
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Finally, there are the consequences of teaching young people to think about their problems in biomedical terms. In the past 25 years, antidepressants have helped to move us from a culture that viewed emotional problems as products of personal psychology, to one that views at least many negative feelings in terms of faulty biology—a chemical imbalance.
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When I first began to take antidepressants, I understood that doing so meant I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I knew that, arguably, I should find that comforting—it meant that what I was going through wasn't my fault—but instead it made me feel out of control. I wanted my feelings to mean something. The idea that my deepest emotions were actually random emanations from my malfunctioning brain didn't uplift me; it just further demoralized me.
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Looking back, it seems remarkable that I had to work so hard to absorb an elementary lesson: Some things make me feel happy, other things make me feel sad. But for a long time antidepressants were giving me the opposite lesson. If I was suffering because of a glitch in my brain, it didn't make much difference what I did. For me, antidepressants had promoted a kind of emotional illiteracy. They had prevented me from noticing the reasons that I felt bad when I did and from appreciating the effects of my own choices.
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"There's been a kind of pathologization of life itself," said David Ramirez, a clinical psychologist and the head of counseling and psychological services at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

The 'pathologization of life' seems to be everywhere.    If you've lost someone very close to you and you're still grieving a month later, the American Psychiatric Association will classify you as depressed, Grief is not Depression.

In this post-modern world, people have lost sight of what it is to be human.

"No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa,"  Eugene Ionesco.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2012

Mother and Father Families Best for Children

Study, Children fare better in traditional mom-dad families

“The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,” Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in his study in Social Science Research.

Using a new, “gold standard” data set of nearly 3,000 randomly selected American young adults, Mr. Regnerus looked at their lives on 40 measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes.

He found that, when compared with adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.

Children of gay couples are disadvantaged because of family instability.

Regnerus found that children in the study rarely spent their entire childhoods in the households of their gay parent and partner. Only two of the 175 subjects who reported having a mother in a lesbian relationship spent their whole childhood with the couple, and no children studied spent their entire childhood with two gay males. The numbers drop off pretty sharply as time progressed, too: For example, 57 percent of children spent more than four months with lesbian parents, but only 23 percent spent more than three years.
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One deficit is particularly worrying: Less than 2 percent of children from intact, biological families reported experiencing sexual abuse of some nature, but that figure for children of same-sex couples is 23 percent. Similarly disturbing is that 14 percent of children from same-sex couples have spent some time in foster care, compared with around 2 percent of the American population at large. Arrest, drug experimentation, and unemployment rates were all higher among children from same-sex families.

In the LA Times,  The Single-Mom Catastrophe

The embrace of "lone motherhood" — women bringing up kids with no dad around — has been an American specialty.  "By age 30, one-third of American women had spent time as lone mothers," observed family scholar Andrew Cherlin in his 2009 book, "The Marriage-Go-Round." "In European countries such as France, Sweden and the western part of Germany, the comparable percentages were half as large or even less."  The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women.

Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.
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Women and their children weren't the only ones to suffer the economic consequences of the single-mother revolution; low-earning men have lost ground too. Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own, unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get. Scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money and get fewer promotions than do married men.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2012

Congratulations to the Queen on her 60 years

I missed the whole of the Queen's Jubilee, so I caught up over the weekend with a few articles from the London papers.    She is a paragon of duty and responsibility, old-fashioned qualities that have become even more valued as they are lost in the greater society.

What the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said

When you looked at the crowds on the banks of the Thames yesterday, you saw that they get the point the republicans miss. They know why she is so valuable, and that it is nothing to do with her politics or her lifestyle or the many houses or racehorses she owns.

She not only incarnates the history of the country in her DNA. She provides a focus for their own love of their country: and in that sense the monarchy fulfills a function that Left-wingers should fervently support. She collectivizes the nation. In a selfish and atomized age, she gives people a way of thinking not so much about themselves, but about everyone; not me, but us. She has done it brilliantly for 60 years, and that is why they cheered for such hours; because no one in history has fulfilled that role so skillfully and so successfully.

And some fine photographs of the Queen's reign chosen by the Royal Historian  from the TV coronation to the first walkabout including this splendid portrait by Pietro Annigoni which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

 Queenii.Nationalportraitgallery

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2012

"Culture is a precious inheritance, immeasurably more difficult to achieve than to destroy "

Future tense, XI: The Lessons of Culture by Roger Kimball in the New Centurion.

Last month, Charles Murray asked whether “a major stream of artistic accomplishment can be produced by a society that is geriatric [as ours, increasingly, is]? By a society that is secular? By an advanced welfare state?” We do not know the answers to those questions, Mr. Murray observed, because “we are facing unprecedented situations.”

We have never observed a great civilization with a population as old as the United States will have in the twenty-first century; we have never observed a great civilization that is as secular as we are apparently going to become; and we have had only half a century of experience with advanced welfare states.
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When it comes to cultural activities, Pericles said, Athenians had learned to love beauty with moderation—the Greek word is euteleias, “without extravagance”—and to pursue philosophy and the life of the mind “without effeminacy,” aneu malakias. The lessons of culture were to be ennoblements of life, not an escape from its burdens.
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Another lesson concerns the fragility of civilization. As Evelyn Waugh noted in the dark days of the late 1930s,

barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come merely from habitual hooligans; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment, however beneficent. Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on. . . . The work of preserving society is sometimes onerous, sometimes almost effortless. The more elaborate the society, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat. At a time like the present it is notably precarious. If it falls we shall see not merely the dissolution of a few joint-stock corporations, but of the spiritual and material achievements of our history.

It is a prime lesson of culture to acquaint us with those facts. “History,” Walter Bagehot wrote in Physics and Politics, his clear-eyed paean to liberal democracy, “is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.” Culture is a precious inheritance, immeasurably more difficult to achieve than to destroy, and, once destroyed, almost irretrievable. It’s not at all clear that we have learned the lesson, though wise men from before the time of Pericles have sought to bring us that sobering news.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink

The Makings of a Cast Society

So the single-mother revolution has left us with the following reality. At the top of the social order is a positive feedback loop, with kids raised in stable, high-investment, and relatively affluent homes going to college, finding similar mates, and raising their own children in stable, high-investment, and relatively affluent homes. At the bottom is a negative feedback loop, with kids raised by single mothers in unstable, low-investment homes finding themselves unable to adapt to today’s economy and going on to create more unstable, single-mother homes.

Not only do we have more poverty, inequality, and immobility; we have the makings of a caste society, with an inherited elite and an entrenched proletariat. That’s not an America that anyone finds very attractive.

In City Journal,  American Caste by Kay Hymowitz

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2012

Why you should read more novels

Jonathan Gottschall  writes Why Fiction is Good for You

Does fiction build the morality of individuals and societies, or does it break it down?
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Until recently, we’ve only been able to guess about the actual psychological effects of fiction on individuals and society. But new research in psychology and broad-based literary analysis is finally taking questions about morality out of the realm of speculation.

This research consistently shows that fiction does mold us. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally, and this seems to make us rubbery and easy to shape.
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So those who are concerned about the messages in fiction — whether they are conservative or progressive — have a point. Fiction is dangerous because it has the power to modify the principles of individuals and whole societies.

  Ship Of Books

But fiction is doing something that all political factions should be able to get behind. Beyond the local battles of the culture wars, virtually all storytelling, regardless of genre, increases society’s fund of empathy and reinforces an ethic of decency that is deeper than politics.

For a long time literary critics and philosophers have argued, along with the novelist George Eliot, that one of fiction’s main jobs is to “enlarge men’s sympathies.” Recent lab work suggests they are right.
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Reading narrative fiction allows one to learn about our social world and as a result fosters empathic growth and prosocial behavior.”
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While fiction often dwells on lewdness, depravity, and simple selfishness, storytellers virtually always put us in a position to judge wrongdoing, and we do so with gusto. As the Brandeis literary scholar William Flesch argues, fiction all over the world is strongly dominated by the theme of poetic justice. Generally speaking, goodness is endorsed and rewarded and badness is condemned and punished. Stories — from modern films to ancient fairy tales — steep us all in the same powerful norms and values. True, antiheroes, from Milton’s Satan to Tony Soprano, captivate us, but bad guys are almost never allowed to live happily ever after. And fiction generally teaches us that it is profitable to be good.
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Fiction is often treated like a mere frill in human life, if not something worse. But the emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:14 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2012

Racial Progress in America

The Good News About Race in America by Abigail Thernstrom

"Did you hear [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder the other day say how much he loves Al Sharpton?" she asks as we park ourselves at the breakfast table in the suburban Washington, D.C., home that she shares with her husband and sometime collaborator Stephan Thernstrom, a Harvard historian. "This is a very poisonous message. The black leadership is suggesting that George Zimmerman is a typical white. That they're all alike. Yes, he calls himself a white Hispanic, but they're suggesting that inside the breast of every white is a willingness to kill a Trayvon Martin. It's ridiculous, it's sad, and it's destructive."

Ms. Thernstrom currently serves as vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Throughout her lengthy career as a public intellectual, she has distinguished herself as someone willing to speak truth to a civil rights establishment that regularly puts its own needs before those of the black underclass that it claims to represent.
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The objective of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was to ensure black access to the ballot, especially in the South, where violent white resistance was not uncommon. In 1961, the year President Obama was born, most Southern blacks were still disenfranchised. But that was then, and the goal of the law has long since been realized. In 1964, fewer than 7% of eligible blacks in Mississippi were registered to vote. Two years later, it was 60%, the highest in the South. Today, Southern states have higher black voter-registration rates than states outside the region.

"Sometimes good legislation works precisely as initially intended," writes Ms. Thernstrom in her 2009 book, "Voting Rights and Wrongs." The problem, she contends, is that amendments have turned "the law into a constitutionally problematic, unprecedented attempt to impose what voting rights activists, along with their allies in Congress, the Justice Department and the judiciary, view as a racially fair distribution of political power."
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What suppresses minority turnout, she says, is not voter-ID laws but racial gerrymandering. "Turnout is very low in these safe black and Hispanic districts. And why shouldn't it be? There's no real competition."
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After the passage in 1996 of California's Proposition 209, which banned the use of race and ethnicity in public university admissions in that state, "the system as a whole did not lose blacks, and minority graduation rates went up. Nobody wants to talk about that. All that counts as far as these schools are concerned is what the freshman class looks like. They don't care what the senior class looks like."

"America in Black and White," the masterful 1997 tome that Ms. Thernstrom co-wrote with her husband, is by and large a good-news story of racial progress in America. It bothers her deeply that so many black leaders have a vested interest in playing down the socioeconomic advancement that has occurred among blacks over the past half-century.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2012

The largest army in the world

Via American Digest comes this astonishing fact from Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, There were over 600,000 hunters this season in Wisconsin.  Allow me to restate that number in another way

Over the last several months, Wisconsin's hunters became the eighth largest army in the world. More men under arms than in Iran. More than France and Germany combined. These men deployed to the woods of a "single" American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, and no one was killed.

That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of "Pennsylvania" and Michigan's 700,000 hunters, all of whom have now returned home safely. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world. And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states. It's millions more.

The point? America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower. Hunting… it's not just a way to fill the freezer. It's a matter of national security. That's why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2012

'Loathsome corruption' Destroying American Cities

Walter Russell Mead, a Democrat,  writes  Rogue Democrats Loot Detroit As Nation Sleeps

Detroit doesn’t matter all that much to the New York Times and many of its readers for the same reasons that Albany, Queens, Buffalo and Schenectady don’t matter. The new American elite wants to live and think as if it has transcended all that dreary provincial mess and lives on high in a world of Big Ideas and Global Issues. Mrs. Jellyby is much more interested in visionary programs to uplift the inhabitants of Borrio-Boola-Gha than on making sure her own children are well dressed and well cared for.
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There is something profoundly wrong with an American political culture that accepts chronic misgovernment in major cities as OK. It is not OK; the people who do these things may call themselves liberal Democrats and wear the mantle of defenders of the poor, but over and over their actions place them among the most cold blooded enemies and oppressors of the weak.

American cities have been festering pits of graft and bad governance since at least the early 19th century, but there is a difference between the “honest graft” of Tammany Hall and the nihilistic destruction practiced by some of today’s urban machines. Today’s situation, in which some city machines are so dysfunctional that the parasite is literally killing the host (and not just in Detroit), is new and, again, the most vulnerable in our society suffer the worst consequences. Minority children are the greatest ultimate victims of this loathsome corruption: they attend horrible schools and grow up in decaying, unsafe urban landscapes where there is no growth, no jobs and no opportunity for the young.

 Detroit's-Decline
Ballroom of Les Plaza Hotel by Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre

Featured a few weeks ago in the MailOnline was  Dying Detroit Haunting photos of crumbling neighborhoods highlight the terrible  decline of America's once-great Motor City

The population of devastated Detroit has dropped by 25 per cent in the past ten years and is now at its lowest since 1910.

Empty factories, burnt-out homes, silent banks and even derelict police stations litter the place once known as the 'Motor City' - where Henry Ford built his first car.

Almost a third of the city's 140 square miles is vacant or derelict.

Portraits by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre show the breathtaking decline of once-proud buildings - allowed to rot and crumble from a former glory.

It looks more like a Hollywood film's futuristic vision of a post-apocalyptic world, than a 21st century American city.

The decay does not discriminate, public entertainment venues such as cinemas lie in ruins alongside banks and medical centers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2012

Break-ups and the 'love myth'

I think is probably hardest for those in their 20s and 30s.  Settling on the right mate and right career is not easy.  Nor is losing friends which is what happens when people break up.

 Breaking Up Couple

The REAL cost of a break-up: We lose EIGHT friends when a long-term relationship ends

A typical adult loses eight friends when a long-term relationship ends, a study found today.

Researchers found the taking of sides and the rights and wrongs of the circumstances of the split are the biggest reasons for broken friendships.

Around one in ten people said their fed-up friends had stopped speaking to both them and their former partner after the break-up.

More than 27 per cent of people even admitted to staying in a relationship longer than they really wanted to because of their fears about the impact it would have on their friendships.
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The eight friends who will be lost are likely to be three friends of the ex-partner and three mutual friends made during the relationship.

The other two were known before the relationship even started, but either ended up siding with the other half - or got fed up hearing about the conflict.

Of the 2,000 people polled - who have recently split from a partner - 31 per cent now regret their actions during the break-up because of the effect it had on their friendships.

Could all these false starts and break-ups have something to do with The 'Love Myth' in Pop Culture?

[There is]  a deeply embedded belief in our pop culture that the experience of being in love must meet a very specific set of criteria. This is the "love myth."

Haidt explains:

As I see it, the modern myth of true love involves these beliefs: True love is passionate love that never fades; if you are in true love, you should marry that person; if love ends, you should leave that person because it was not true love; and if you can find the right person, you will have true love forever. You might not believe this myth yourself, particularly if you are older than thirty; but many young people in Western nations are raised on it, and it acts as an ideal that they unconsciously carry with them even if they scoff at it. (It’s not just Hollywood that perpetrates the myth; Bollywood, the Indian film industry, is even more romanticized.)
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Companionate love is less exciting, but more lasting: “the affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply intertwined.”

The problem with passionate love is that it eventually fades. And that creates major problems for the person who decides to marry someone based on the expectation that passionate love will last forever--the most major of the problems being, of course, divorce.
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So does true love exist? Haidt thinks that it does:

True love exists, I believe, but it is not—cannot be—passion that lasts forever. True love, the love that undergirds strong marriages, is simply strong companionate love, with some added passion, between two people who are firmly committed to each other.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2012

"Don't try to be great"

Commencement season begins with Charles Whelan writing in the Wall St Journal about the 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You

6. Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.

7. Your parents don't want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn't always the same thing. There is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort, and therefore to urge safe choices. Theodore Roosevelt—soldier, explorer, president—once remarked, "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." Great quote, but I am willing to bet that Teddy's mother wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.
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10. Don't try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn't, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:51 PM | Permalink

End of the world

Boy is the mood of the country in a bad way.

22% of Americans believe world will end in their lifetime (and 10% think the apocalypse is coming this year)

Worldwide, 10 per cent believe the Mayan calendar on December 21  signifies the apocalypse will happen in 2012, according to a new poll.

Ipsos Global Public Affairs carried out the poll on behalf of news agency Reuters.

Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos said: 'Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming.

The French, typically, are most relaxed about it all, with only six per cent believing in Armageddon in their lifetime in contrast to 22 per cent in the US and Turkey.

In the UK, eight percent feared apocalypse during their lives.

Globally, around 10 people fear there will be no 2013, with the highest percentage in Russia and Poland and the fewest in Great Britain.

People with lower education or income, as well as those under 35, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:32 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2012

Obamacare and Pope Leo XIII, the handwriting on the wall

Recommended by the Scrapbook. here are a couple of very good articles to read over the weekend

The most intelligent article I've read about How to Replace Obamacare by James Capretta and Robert Moffit in National Affairs .

The Handwriting on the Wall by George Weigel

the words on the wall at this moment in history speak of the results of a negation — a deconstruction — of the deep truths on which the civilization of the West has been built. And one of the main things that the "handwriting on the wall" in the early 21st century is telling us is that the secular project is over.

By "secular project," I mean the effort, extending over the past two centuries or more, to erect an empty shrine at the heart of political modernity.
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In both its hard and soft forms, the secular project was wrong. Above all, it ignored the deep truth that it takes a certain kind of people, living certain virtues, to make democracy and the free economy work properly. People of that kind do not just happen. They must be formed in the habits of heart and mind, the virtues that enable them to guide the machinery of free politics and free economics so that the net outcome is human flourishing and the promotion of the common good. There is no such formation in the virtues of freedom available at the empty shrine.

A glimpse of what the empty shrine does produce was on offer late last summer in Great Britain, when packs of feral young people rampaged through city after city in an orgy of self-indulgence, theft, and destruction. The truth of what all that was about was most powerfully articulated by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that had been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people…[who are the products of] a tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West, saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality, and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
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That false worship of the Self — the worship of that which is not worthy of worship — has led to a severe attenuation of the moral sinews of democratic culture: the commitment to reason and truth-telling in debate; the courage to face hard facts squarely; the willingness to concede that others may have something to teach us; the ability to distinguish between prudent compromise and the abandonment of principle; the very idea of the common good, which may demand personal sacrifice.
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Taking a cue from that great philosophical celebrant of irony, Richard Rorty, Colgate University's Robert Kraynak has neatly described the net result of all this as "freeloading atheism": Like Belshazzar's lords, wives, and concubines, those formed by the empty shrine and the worship of the imperial, autonomous Self have been drinking profligately out of sacred vessels, freeloading on moral truths that they do not acknowledge (and in many cases hold in contempt), but which are essential for sustaining democracy and the free economy, which the freeloaders claim to honor. But as Lord Sacks pointed out last summer, that jig is up.
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What I have called the "empty shrine" at the center of political modernity was, for Leo XIII, the result of a dramatic revolution in European intellectual life in which metaphysics had been displaced from the center of reflection, thinking-about-thinking had replaced thinking-about-truth, and governance had therefore come unstuck from the first principles of justice. Science, which had replaced metaphysics as the most consequential of intellectual disciplines, could provide no answer to the moral question with which all politics, in the Western tradition, begins: How ought we to live together? Worse, when science stepped outside its disciplinary boundaries and tried its hand at social and political prescription, it let loose new demons, such as Social Darwinism, that would prove astonishingly lethal when they shaped the national tempers that made possible the great slaughters of the First World War.
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Leo XIII insisted that freedom is not sheer willfulness. Rather, as Leo's successor John Paul II would later put it, freedom is the human capacity to know what is truly good, to choose it freely, and to do so as a matter of habit, or virtue. According to this line of argument, a talent for freedom grows in us; we cut short that learning process if we insist, with the culture of the imperial autonomous Self, that my freedom consists in doing what I want to do, now.
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"The handwriting on the wall" at this moment in history is telling us that a political culture detached from the deep truths embedded in the human condition eventually yields traits of selfishness and irresponsibility that ill befit citizens of a democracy. "The handwriting on the wall" is telling us that a democratic politics that ignores those deep truths eventually dissolves into thinly disguised dictatorship — the dictatorship of relativism. And if that is the message, then our duty comes into clearer focus, too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

April 25, 2012

"The Constitution is wrong" How about the People's Rights Amendment?

The Constitution is your patrimony.  Be very aware of the people who want to amend it out of existence. 

Abraham Lincoln said,
"Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."

George Washington said,  “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon”

Sam Adams, “"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."

Patrick Henry said,  “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

Henry Clay,  “The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity

Enter Jim McGovern, (D) US Representative from Worcester, MA., “The Constitution is wrong.”

Now he is sponsoring the People's Rights Amendment in what Jeff Jacoby calls a 'flawed war'

McGovern’s problem, it turns out, is with the Bill of Rights. He objects to the way it safeguards fundamental rights — such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances — not only when citizens act as lone individuals, but also when they unite as corporations in order to pool their assets and act more efficiently.

Like many on the left, McGovern has gone batty on the subject of “corporate personhood.” This is a perfectly commonplace, centuries-old legal construct that makes it possible for individuals organized as a group to carry out their affairs effectively. Because corporations are legal “persons,” for example, they can rent property without requiring the signature of every shareholder on every lease. They can be sued in court as single entities, without obliging plaintiffs to go after tens of thousands of individual defendants. They can be taxed. They can enter into contracts. They can register patents.

What infuriates many liberals is that corporations can also express political views, spending money to take sides in contested elections.  . “Corporations are not people,” scowled McGovern at a Democratic forum last week…..So the congressman proposes to strip corporations of all constitutional liberties and guarantees.
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Under McGovern’s proposal, corporations — for-profit and nonprofit alike —would have no more rights than legislators chose to give them. Congress could ban ExxonMobil and R.J. Reynolds from commenting on any public issue, and they would have no recourse to the First Amendment. But it isn’t only Big Oil and Big Tobacco that could be censored with impunity. So could Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association. So could the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Museum of Fine Arts. So could innumerable universities, charities, churches, small businesses, and government watchdogs. And so, of course, could most newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and book publishers. Corporations of every kind would lose their constitutional defenses. Vast swaths of American life would be permanently vulnerable to the whims and vendettas of politicians.

And what is true of First Amendment rights would be true of all the others: Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, due process under law, the right to trial by jury — corporations could be stripped of them all.

McGovern and Pelosi may honestly imagine that mutilating the Constitution in this way will make American democracy more wholesome and less corrupt. What it would really do is empower the political class to a degree never before seen in our history. Far from reinvigorating the dream of the Founding Fathers, the People’s Rights Amendment would transform it into a nightmare.

The National Review editorializes, Keep the First Amendment

The phrase “stunning development” is used far too often in our politics, but here is an item that can be described in no other way: Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats, frustrated by the fact that the Bill of Rights interferes with their desire to muzzle their political opponents, have proposed to repeal the First Amendment.

That is precisely what the so-called People’s Rights Amendment would do. If this amendment were to be enacted, the cardinal rights protected by the First Amendment — free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances — would be redefined and reduced to the point of unrecognizability. The amendment would hold that the rights protected by the Constitution are enjoyed only by individuals acting individually; individuals acting in collaboration with others would be stripped of those rights.
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The so-called People’s Rights Amendment would have some strange consequences: Newspapers, television networks, magazines, and online journalism operations typically are incorporated. So are political parties and campaign committees, to say nothing of nonprofits, business associations, and the like. Under the People’s Rights Amendment, Thomas Friedman would still enjoy putative First Amendment protection, but it would not do him much good inasmuch as the New York Times Company, being a corporation, would no longer be protected by the First Amendment. In short, any political speech more complex than standing on a soapbox at an intersection would be subject to the whims of Nancy Pelosi.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 PM | Permalink

April 24, 2012

“It’s scary, isn’t it?”

Egg-Producing Human Ovarian Stem Cells Concern Ethicists

Human eggs apparently now can be produced in a lab dish from stem cells derived from adult women’s ovaries.

That is the promise of groundbreaking research by Harvard Medical School professor Jonathan Tilly.

The finding raises possibilities such as a limitless supply of lab-grown human eggs for experimentation and fertilization from one woman, as well as some sort of embryonic stem cell-derived, anti-aging elixir.

Tilly’s research team at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology published their findings — which turn a half century of embryology orthodoxy on its head — in the March issue of Nature Medicine.
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[E]mbryo researcher Tilly is flush with the possibilities from his discovery of ovarian stem cells — from bottomless egg banks to youth-restoring ovarian stem-cell transplants. When maintained outside the body, he told Nature Video, the cells “are more than happy to make eggs on their own. And if we can guide that process correctly, I think it opens up the chance that some time in the future we might get to the point of having an unlimited source of human eggs — that a woman could come in, have a small biopsy taken from her ovary for us to retrieve these cells, and once we get these cells out, we can take 100 of them and make a million of them.”

But what purpose could a million human eggs in a laboratory serve?

None good,
thinks Father Alfred Cioffi of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. “There is one word for this: eugenics. Europe is reverting to the blinding fever that led to the Second World War.”

Even researcher Anderson sees the import. “It’s scary, isn’t it?” he said.

I'll say.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:45 PM | Permalink

“Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”

Sherry Turkle muses on The Flight from Conversation

Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile connection and talked to hundreds of people of all ages and circumstances about their plugged-in lives. I’ve learned that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are.

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.
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A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”
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A senior partner at a Boston law firm describes a scene in his office. Young associates lay out their suite of technologies: laptops, iPods and multiple phones. And then they put their earphones on. “Big ones. Like pilots. They turn their desks into cockpits.” With the young lawyers in their cockpits, the office is quiet, a quiet that does not ask to be broken.

In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay.
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Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this.
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WE expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2012

Collapse of Civility -UPDATED

Theodore Dalrymple on The Ugly Brutishness of Modern Britain

The people who want to flee Britain are not economic migrants. It is not high taxes that they object to (many want to move to France, where taxes are not low), but barbarism. They are cultural refugees in search of a more civilized homeland, where fewer people are uncouth or militantly vulgar.

What has caused this collapse of civility in Britain, which was, within living memory, a civil country? In my view, it is a demotic version of egalitarianism, allied with multiculturalism.
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Multiculturalism is damaging because it denies that, when it comes to culture, there is a better and a worse, a higher and a lower—only difference.
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Incivility in Britain thus has a militant or ideological edge to it. The uncivil British are not uncivilized by default—they actively hate and repudiate civilization.

Peggy Noonan thinks something seems to be going terribly wrong from flash mobs to the scandals of the GSA, Secret Service, the banks etc etc and it's a Crisis of Character

This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.

In the National Journal, In Nothing We Trust - Americans are losing faith in the institutions that made this country great.

And this extraordinary graphic.

 Cdn-Media.Nationaljournal.Com

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2012

Middle-Aged People Rule the World

Evolution has given humans a huge advantage over most other animals: middle age

The evidence from skeletal remains suggests that our ancestors frequently lived well into middle age and beyond. Certainly many modern hunter-gatherers live well beyond 40.

The probable existence of lots of prehistoric middle-aged people means that natural selection had plenty to work on. Those with beneficial traits would have been more successful at nurturing their children to reproductive age and helping provide for their grandchildren, and hence would have passed on those traits to their descendants. As a result, modern middle age is the result of millennia of natural selection.
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We lead an energy-intensive, communication-driven, information-rich way of life, and it was the evolution of middle age that supported this.
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Gathering sufficient calories is crucial for the success of a human community, especially since young humans take so long to grow up. …. a recent study of two groups of South American hunter-gatherers suggested that each couple required the help of an additional 1.3 non-reproducing adults to provide for their children. Thus, middle-aged people may be seen as an essential human innovation, an elite caste of skilled, experienced super-providers on which the rest of us depend.
--
The other key role of middle age is the propagation of information. A... Humans have taken this second form of information transfer to a new level. We are born knowing and being able to do almost nothing. Each of us depends on a continuous infusion of skills, knowledge and customs, collectively known as culture, if we are to survive. And the main route by which culture is transferred is by middle-aged people showing and telling their children — as well as the young adults with whom they hunt and gather — what to do.
--
These two roles of middle-aged humans — as super-providers and master culture-conveyers — continue today. In offices, on construction sites and on sports fields around the world, we see middle-aged people advising and guiding younger adults and sometimes even ordering them about. Middle-aged people can do more, they earn more and, in short, they run the world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

April 16, 2012

"The fundamental political question is, 'Do you believe things are getting better or worse?' "

Daniel Greenfield on change, "Better or Worse?"

All politics are the politics of the future. The one cause that we all champion, regardless of our political orientation, is the cause of the future. All that we fight for is the ability to shape the future.


The fundamental political question is, "Do you believe things are getting better or worse?"
Ruling parties tend to answer, "Better", opposition parties tend to answer, "Worse". The deeper answer to that question though lies in our perceptions of the past and the future.
---

The left romanticizes chaos, while the right romanticizes order. But the left's chaos necessitates a harsher order as the chaos it unleashes is managed with higher and higher levels of social authorities that enforce their perfect plan for change on the formless society bubbling under them. The right's order allows for less authority because it depends on empowering organic social institutes and mores, rather than enforcing a detailed plan that goes against the grain.

The right's organic order allows for freer societies because it stems from how people actually live. It is rooted in the past, rather than an ever-changing plan for the future. The left's artificial order makes for societies that are fundamentally repressive, even when they allow for a limited degree of autonomy, because the hand of the planners is always on every man and woman.

Repressive societies on the right are bottom up, they represent the preferred order of the people, but while the left chants of the will of the people, their repressive societies represent only the master plan of an elite. The right builds such societies to foreclose change, the left builds its societies to implement change, but once that happens, their societies freeze, turn reactionary and fall apart as they no longer have any reason to exist, but to perpetuate the power of the elite
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

April 13, 2012

"The age we mark as modernity began with grand, exhilarating gestures'

Jason Jones, Of Human Dignity and Shoes

The age we mark as modernity began with grand, exhilarating gestures: discourses on method that would set us free from the dead hand of tradition (Descartes); declarations of the rights of man (the French Revolutionary Assembly); manifestos rejecting the tyranny of mere economic laws over the lives and labor of men (Karl Marx). The grand progression of the movement Henri de Lubac dubbed “heroic humanism” was full of such golden moments, which moved through the dark night of history like torches leading us forward, ever forward, to a glittering future that would make life at long last worthy of man. At the end of all the struggles, after the next (surely final!) conflict, or the next, we were promised without any irony a brave new world, an earthly paradise.
--
And we did. That’s what we spent the 19th and 20th centuries doing, energetically. We broke up historic empires into nation-states, where men forgot their loyalty to tiny village or global Church, and learned to think as members of ethnic tribes or aggrieved social classes. After these collectives had done their work, and proved themselves too dangerous (in 1945, and 1989, respectively) we set about smashing them, too. We broke down the ramshackle, inefficient structure of the old extended family to its minimal, nuclear core—and then when that didn’t prove as economically useful, we split that into atoms. When we learned that families have no economic use or political import, we redefined them at last as consensual, temporary alliances of adults—to whom the State contracts the duty of caring for children overnight, in the hours when schools and daycare facilities aren’t open. We have very thoroughly accomplished the job modernity’s founders set us: liquidating every barrier to the assertion of the Self, short of the laws of physics. We have killed all the fathers. We are free to make of ourselves exactly what we will, no less and no more. And here we sit with the treasure we’ve won: this pile of shoes.
--
The only support, it turned out, for having a high opinion of other people’s lives (our own are sacred by definition) lay not in the shiny new laboratories or libraries we were building, but in the drafty, candlelit houses of worship we had to bulldoze to make room.
--
The old sacred books that old men quoted to thwart the free play of our desires, which we piled in bonfires or smirked at as curiosities, were more important than we realized. They held crucial information, the shibboleths needed to make men treat each other a certain way—a way we had come to take for granted. That way of treating people—respecting the weak, sacrificing for the young, venerating the old—emerged in human history as the side-effects of specific assertions about the world. We didn’t want to believe this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:26 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2012

The End of Women

Carolyn Moynihan on The End of Women

The great gift of the sexual revolution to women is not that it has taken them out of men’s power but that it has made them over as the new men. They can pursue their careers just like men. They can have sex without getting pregnant and having to get married, just like men. They can ignore the emotional consequences of uncommitted sex (“And how bad are heartaches, anyway?” asks Rosin) as men tend to do.

When the ache for a baby gets too strong, today’s macho woman can go get herself impregnated with donor sperm at a fertility clinic. And since there’s really no difference between men and women any more she could just settle down with a lesbian partner and save herself any further trouble from the officially male of the species.

The truth is that, if men have become redundant, so have women. One makes no sense without the other. What we have instead is humanoids who come in a range of genders and can make use of their sexual endowment (or someone else’s) in a variety of ways. They can generate or acquire children as the case may be; they can saddle the kids with two “moms” or two “dads” or with other combinations of “parents” if it suits them. What that means for the children simply doesn’t matter. Nothing that comes from the sexual revolution can really be bad for anyone. Get used to it.

Isn’t this the insane world we see taking shape before our eyes? There may have been a lot wrong with marriage and the status of women in the America of young Mrs Adrienne Conrad (Rich’s married name), but cutting sex adrift from babies and marriage was patently not the solution. It has made nonsense of the body and made men and women strangers to themselves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

April 9, 2012

Writing off the old

In the much touted national health service of Great Britain, life-saving treatment is denied to the elderly.    Even palliative surgery!

Sentenced to death for being old: The NHS denies life-saving treatment to the elderly, as one man's chilling story reveals

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.

Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.

‘You could call his recovery amazing,’ says Michele, 51. ‘It is certainly a gift. But the fact is that he was written off because of his age. He was left to suffer so much, and so unnecessarily.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

Generational tax

Too many abortions, not enough babies and too generous pensions put Germany in the position where it now must levy a special tax on the young.  And so, extra burdens are added to those who are just starting out in adult life.  This is not the way it should be.   

This is the first, not the last, of generational taxes we will see.

Germany set to tax young

GERMANY is proposing to levy extra taxes on the young to pay for the costs of the country's growing numbers of old people, under government plans for a ''demographic reserve'' levy.

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have drafted proposals that, if law, would require all those over 25 to pay a proportion of their income to cushion Germany against a looming population crisis.

... officials are considering a special levy of about 1 per cent of income.

Estimates from Germany's federal employment agency predict that the workforce will be reduced by 7 million people by 2025.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2012

The modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."

Western Survival Depends on Western Pride writes David Rusin

Due to “post-modernism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism, the West has lost all self-confidence in its own values, and seems incapable and unwilling to defend those values,” argues Ibn Warraq, author of Why the West Is Best. “By contrast, resurgent Islam, in all its forms, is supremely confident, and is able to exploit the West’s moral weakness and cultural confusion to demand ever more concessions from her.”

Warraq declares that if their system is to endure, Westerners must acknowledge that “the great ideas of the West — rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy — are superior to any others devised by humankind.” Likewise, it is critical to compare Western ideals to those of the Islamists, which are antithetical to liberty and increasingly threaten it. A glance at how women and minorities are treated by strict Islamic law is sufficient to expose multiculturalism’s “lie that all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom and democracy,” to quote reformist Muslim Salim Mansur.

Astonishing isn't it, that people who point this out are often vilified and politicians who do so are raked over the coals for daring to declare the superiority of Western culture.

This decline in Western confidence was apparent 25 years ago when Alan Bloom first wrote, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.    It was a book that drove them crazy

The crisis was​–is​–​a crisis of confidence in the principle that serves as the premise of liberal education: that reason, informed by learning and experience, can arrive at truth, and that one truth may be truer than another.
--
He asked readers to consider contemporary students as he encountered them. They arrived ill-equipped to explore the large questions the humanities pose, and few saw the need to bother with them in any case. Instead, he said, they were cheerful, unconcerned, dutiful, and prosaic, their eyes on the prize of that cushy job. They were “nice.” You can almost see him shudder as he writes the word. “They are united only in their relativism,” he wrote. “The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate.”

Relativism, in fact, was the only moral postulate that went unchallenged in academic life.
---
a professor at Carleton College, Michael Zuckert, told of canvassing the students in his class on American political thought. He asked whether they agreed that the truths in the first lines of the Declaration of Independence were indeed “self-evident.” Seven percent voted “yes.” On further conversation, he wrote, it turned out “that they were convinced there is no such thing as ‘truth,’ self-evident or otherwise, in the sphere of claims of the sort raised in the Declaration.”

An admirer of the book writes

The goal of Bloom’s book was to show how Americans of all political persuasions, social backgrounds and economic conditions are debating within a narrow modern world-view and have simply accepted as fact a mushy blend of modern theory that repeatedly contradicts itself and stands in sharp contrast to an almost entirely forgotten world of opposing thought: that of the ancients.
--
Where the purpose of higher education once was to enable the student to find truth, the modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."
--
Bloom simply wanted to make students think, to make them understand that there are different ideas of what man is and that they must confront these ideas if they wish to lead a meaningful life.

Andrew Ferguson writes another appreciation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

The Nationalization of the Family

"The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years.  Old age, ill health, single motherhood — everything is the responsibility of the state."

Professor R. Vaidyanathan, Indian Institute of Management, as quoted by Mark Steyn.

The nationalized family is the key to understanding why the West's economic "downturn" is not merely cyclical. Like any other nationalized industry, the nationalized family prioritizes more and more perks for its beneficiaries, is unresponsive to market pressure, and revels in declining productivity. Literally: The biggest structural defect in the Western world is its deathbed demography, the upside-down family tree. When 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren (as in Greece), it is a societal challenge under any circumstances. When 42 grandchildren have to pay off the massive debts run up by 100 grandparents, that's pretty much a guarantee of disaster
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

April 2, 2012

Where Academia fails

Following up on the difference in the moral view of  liberals and conservatives that Jonathan Haidt  uncovered in my post "The Sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand",  let's turn to
Timothy Dalrymple who writes  if you Want to End Rabid Partisanship, Reform American Academia

But the problem is not merely ignorance. Liberals are also alienated from core conservative values. Liberals are trained to believe that many of the traditional American ideals and values that conservatives inherit in their families and churches are cruel and intolerant, imperialistic, and implicitly racist, sexist, and classist…Liberals consistently misinterpret what motivates conservatives because they really cannot see the world from the conservative perspective

Thus, the Theory of the Missing Motive applies. Unable to see a rational and noble motive at the center of the Tea Party movement, liberals supply a darker and more convenient motive instead. Just as ancient cartographers wrote “there be dragons here” beyond the bounds of the world they knew, so liberals write “there be racism here” because the mind of the Tea Partier is undiscovered country in their map of the world.
---
When you look at the three values that conservatives (according to Haidt) honor but liberals do not — loyalty, respect for authority, and sanctity — these are precisely the values that are flouted in the precincts of American academe.  The result is a more impoverished moral imagination amongst students, a stubborn inability to understand the beliefs and the motives of conservatives, and thus the imputation of nefarious motives to those irrational conservatives who do not see things in the ways the illuminati do.


I believe it all began with Woodrow Wilson who before he was elected President of the United States was President of Princeton College.  He was asked what the function of a liberal education
was.
  Wilson replied, "To make a person as unlike  one's father as possible."

As one conservative put it, “it has taken modern science to remind liberals what our grandparents knew."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2012

"The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand"

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt reviewed by David Goodhart in Prospect.

Elite colleges produce WEIRD people: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

[see Science Daily report: Psychological research conducted in 'WEIRD' nations may not apply to global populations]

...[i]n the formulation of a group of North American cultural psychologists, WEIRD—,,, from a sub-culture that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. They are, as we have seen, universalists, suspicious of strong national loyalties. They also tend to be individualists committed to autonomy and self-realization. Balancing that they are usually deeply concerned with social justice and unfairness and also suspicious of appeals to religion or to human nature to justify any departure from equal treatment—differences between men and women, for example, are regarded as cultural not biological.
--
Haidt is a liberal who wants his political tribe to understand humans better. His main insight is simple but powerful: liberals understand only two main moral dimensions, whereas conservatives understand all five. (Over the course of the book he decides to add a sixth, liberty/oppression.
---
Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.

As Haidt puts it: “It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.” This does not mean that liberals are necessarily wrong but it does mean that they have more trouble understanding conservatives than vice versa.
--
The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand. This isn’t necessarily about religion but about the idea that humans have a nobler, more spiritual side and that life has a higher purpose than pleasure or profit. If your only moral concepts are suffering and injustice then it is hard to understand reservations about everything from swearing in public to gay marriage—after all, who is harmed?

In the New York Times, Haidt himself writes "Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness"  to better understand what the cultural wars are about.
 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

March 20, 2012

Babysitting

I was happy when I turned 12 because it meant I was old enough to babysit.  How things have changed.

Law Prof. David Pimentel in "Criminal Child Neglect and the 'Free Range Kid'" in Notable and Quotable.

Even one generation ago, the norms were different for determining the age at which a child no longer needed a babysitter. The expected minimum age for babysitters has gone up as well, although in the few states that have legislated specific ages, the thresholds vary widely. In Illinois, it is illegal to leave a child under 14 unsupervised for an "unreasonable period of time"; in Maryland, in contrast, a 13-year-old is considered old enough not only to care for himself, but to babysit infants. The days when 11- and 12-year-old neighborhood kids were considered competent babysitters appear to be long gone. This development is all the more marked considering that mobile phones have created a virtually instant line of communication between the sitter and the parents, something unheard of in earlier eras, when younger sitters were considered acceptable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2012

Get what you can while you can. The hell with what's best for the client

Get what you can while you can, the hell with what's best for the client  seems to be the moral of Goldman Sachs says Greg Smith, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.

I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
---

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
--
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.
---
No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

Trust is the most important thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:17 AM | Permalink

"Generation Why Bother"

Young Americans have become more risk-averse and sedentary in what is described as a "most startling behavioral change"  as they believe luck counts more than effort.

The Go-Nowhere Generation

AMERICANS are supposed to be mobile and even pushy....

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary. The timing is terrible. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes.

The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees.
--
For about $200, young Nevadans who face a statewide 13 percent jobless rate can hop a Greyhound bus to North Dakota, where they’ll find a welcome sign and a 3.3 percent rate. Why are young people not crossing borders?
--
In the most startling behavioral change among young people since James Dean and Marlon Brando started mumbling, an increasing number of teenagers are not even bothering to get their driver’s licenses. Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent.
--
Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother. The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk aversion worse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2012

Twitching teens

When the story of the teen age girls who suddenly developed a mysterious twitching disorder, some  thought environmental contamination of some sort was the cause, others thought it was a classic case of mass hysteria or mass psychogenic illness.  Or maybe even mirror neurons.

Susan Dominus went to Le Roy to unravel The Mystery of 18 Twitching Teenagers.

Before the media vans took over Main Street, before the environmental testers came to dig at the soil, before the doctor came to take blood, before strangers started knocking on doors and asking question after question, Katie Krautwurst, a high-school cheerleader from Le Roy, N.Y., woke up from a nap. Instantly, she knew something was wrong. Her chin was jutting forward uncontrollably and her face was contracting into spasms. She was still twitching a few weeks later when her best friend, Thera Sanchez, captain of one of the school’s cheerleading squads, awoke from a nap stuttering and then later started twitching, her arms flailing and head jerking. Two weeks after that, Lydia Parker, also a senior, erupted in tics and arm swings and hums. Then word got around that Chelsey Dumars, another cheerleader, who recently moved to town, was making the same strange noises, the same strange movements, leaving school early on the days she could make it to class at all. The numbers grew — 12, then 16, then 18, in a school of 600 — and as they swelled, the ranks of the sufferers came to include a wider swath of the Le Roy high-school hierarchy
---
A common thread emerged among the five girls I interviewed extensively: none had stable relationships with their biological fathers. --

When the subject of the girls’ personal backgrounds came up — the biopsychosocial factors that might be affecting their health — Trifiletti said he had not had the time to ask them about those kinds of things. The abuse, the troubling family circumstances — much of it came as news to him. “Jeez, I didn’t realize the extent,” Trifiletti said. “These aren’t things people want to talk about."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2012

"Political correctness is cultural Marxism"

Science fiction writer John C. Wright on Thought Police and the Poets

My objection to political correctness, as a Christian, is that it is diabolic; as a conservative, that it is Marxist; as a philosopher,  that it is not merely untruthful but openly nihilistic and irrational; as a practical man, that it makes rational conversation about any controversial topic all but impossible; as a gentleman that is substitutes political fashion for true courtesy; but as a writer my objection is that Political Correctness lacks drama.
---
Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, that is, the Marxist analysis of all human history into a single factor: the Darwinian war between oppressor-class and oppressed-class. Everything is a power struggle; all human relations are power relations. In the case of Political Correctness, it is culture rather than economics which is said to be determined by power struggles.
---
Political Correctness is not merely false, it is moonbat-barkingly, outrageously, openly, in-your-face false.

It is so false that conservatives cannot understand why or how anyone believes it, even its supporters. As best I can tell, the supporters both believe it and do not believe it at the same time and in the same sense, with a hypocrisy that is breathtaking in its insouciant insolence. By no coincidence, hypocrisy is the main charge leveled by PC-niks against conservatives.

But it is deliberately, knowingly false. That is the significant fact to grasp.

Because it is false, it naturally lends itself to totalitarianism, that is, to the policing of every aspect of thought and life, and this for two reasons: first, normal people will not utter endless falsehood about everything and anything unless they are forced or pressured; second, normal people, once they yield to the force or the pressure and utter lies they themselves know to be false, naturally tend to lack the will to resist further impositions, and lack the strength to repent of the practice.

A third factor which also plays a role is that once everyone in your environment is a liar, and repeats whatever lies the Big Brother demands, the bonds of faith between individuals are severed, and a man has no family, no Church, no brotherhood, no community to whom he can turn for support. He is alone and naked before the stark power of Big Brother.
---
Drama requires a moral compass, and that political correctness lacks it.

At Accuracy in Academia,  The Origins of Political Correctness

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms.
---
just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good – feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be “victims,” and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.
--
both have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, it’s Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it’s deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2012

The Spanish rebellion against the EU has begun

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes Spain's sovereign thunderclap spells the end of Merkel's Europe

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.
---

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.


What is striking is the wave of support for Mr Rajoy from the Spanish commentariat.

This one from Pablo Sebastián left me speechless.

My loose translation:
"Spain isn’t any old country that will allow itself to be humiliated by the German Chancellor."
"The behaviour of the European Commission towards Spain over recent days has been infamous and exceeds their treaty powers… these Eurocrats think they are the owners and masters of Spain."

"Spain and other nations in the EU are sick and tired of Chancellor Merkel’s meddling and Germany’s usurpation – with the help of Sarkozy’s France and their pretended "executive presidency" that does not in fact exist in EU treaties."

"Rajoy must not retreat one inch. The stakes are high and the country is in no mood to suffer humiliations from a Chancellor who is amassing all the savings of Europe and won’t listen to anybody, as if she were the absolute ruler of the Union. Merkel and the Commission should think hard before putting their hand into the sovereignty of this country – or any other – because it will be burned."
This then is the fermenting mood in the fiercely proud and ancient nation of Spain in Year III of depression, probably the worst depression the country has seen since the 1640s – or have I missed a worse one?

As for the "Fiscal Compact", it is rendered a dead letter by Spanish actions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

March 1, 2012

Unthinkable thoughts on birth control

Quite apart from the encroachment on religious freedom that the government mandate that all employers must offer free birth control, abortifacients and sterilization to their employees, comes the issue of birth control.    The way Democrats are talking about it, birth control is an unqualified good and ought to be given away free.    They call it a "women's health issue" but let's take a look at just how healthy birth control pills are.  Not that I would outlaw birth control pills, but I believe that just as we put warning signs on cigarette packages,  women should know the truth about the risks they take when they begin taking the pill.

The Pill Is Not Good for Women

Women on the whole disproportionately bear the burden of the new sexual regime. They are expected to dose themselves with a Group 1 carcinogen for approximately two-thirds of their fertile years. They sustain greater emotional costs from casual sex. They are at greater risk of contracting STDs and disproportionately suffer from their long-term consequences, such as cervical cancer and fertility loss.And even after 50 years with the Pill, as many as half of all pregnancies are still unintended. Women, not men, must make the heart-wrenching choice between abortion, reckoned a tragic outcome even by its supporters, and bearing a child with little to no paternal support. After all, since children were negotiated out of the bargain by the availability of contraception and abortion, men have secured a strong rationale to simply ignore or reject pregnancies that result from uncommitted sexual relations. Nobel-laureate economist George Akerlof predicted nearly two decades ago that this would lead directly to the feminization of poverty, as it ruefully has.

Poisoned by the Pill

hormonal contraceptives have been declared a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO).  A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer, by causing changes in the DNA structure of cells.  Estrogen-progestogen contraceptives have achieved the dubious distinction of sharing this carcinogenic ranking with such toxic substances as arsenic, asbestos and plutonium.  But unlike arsenic, asbestos, plutonium this is one carcinogen the government will recommend for perfectly healthy women.
--
The carcinogenic information about the pill is itself a bitter pill for doctors to swallow.  Dr. Lanfranchi said:“25 years down in my career, when I hear that I’ve been handing out a Group 1 carcinogen for the last 25 years, I’m going to be resistant to that."

Killer Compromise

Since 1975, there has been a 400 percent increase in breast cancer among pre-menopausal women. This mirrors the increased use of birth control over these same years.

A Mayo Clinic study confirms that any girl or woman who is on hormonal birth control for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her breast cancer risk by 52 percent.

Women who use hormonal birth control for more than five years are four times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, classifies all forms of hormonal contraception as Group 1 carcinogens. This group of cancer-causing agents also includes cigarettes and asbestos. How is it that the Food and Drug Administration can require cigarette manufacturers to place warning labels and photos of corpses on cigarette packages to warn consumers of the health dangers while they take the equally harmful substance of hormonal birth control and force companies to give it away free to women of all ages?

No religious organization, Business Insider writes Time to Admit It.  The Church Has Been Right on Birth Control

Here's the thing, though: the Catholic Church is the world's biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It's given us some of the world's greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to René Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it's not that they're a bunch of crazy old white dudes who are stuck in the Middle Ages.

The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That's it. But it's pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it's probably never been as salient as today.

Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
• General lowering of moral standards
• A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
• The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
• Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Does that sound familiar?  Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years.

So why are these facts so little known?  James Taranto writes about  Unthinkable Thoughts or how feminism deforms intellectual culture.

Rick Santorum's view that advances in birth control have had deleterious social consequences, most notably in contributing to the breakdown of the family. To our surprise, a not-insignificant number of our readers have pushed back against this idea, which some find counterintuitive and others downright unthinkable.
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The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill for contraceptive use in 1960. Over the next half-century, the marriage rate declined and the illegitimacy rate skyrocketed,
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Santorum's argument is not really all that counterintuitive. It posits that the availability of birth control changed the culture in ways that encouraged illegitimacy. There is scholarly support for this hypothesis, in the form of a 1996 study in The Quarterly Journal of Economics
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Santorum is doing a service to American intellectual culture by giving voice to ideas the feminist elite would like to decree unthinkable.
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But when a decent young man professes a desire to marry an old-fashioned girl and take financial responsibility for his family, Yoffe treats him as a deviant. She denounces him as "sexist" even though he is careful to affirm that women have every right to work outside the home if they choose to do so. He mentions nothing about politics, yet she feels compelled to bring Santorum, the feminists' Emmanuel Goldstein, into the mix.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

The cynical, bogus birth control lie and the Bishops

Breaking.  The Senate voted 51-48 to kill an amendment which would have restored a conscience exemption in the Obamacare on a generally party-line vote.    I've read in various places that Obama was losing support of women.  What better way to get them back on board than "to change the narrative" from the First Amendment of Freedom of Religion to those awful Republicans who want to take away your birth control.

As the Anchoress wrote

The frankly false ideas are being served up by the mainstream media and others who evidently believe women are staggeringly stupid. The GOP, they maintain, is after their ladyparts, and colluding with Christians who suddenly wish to outlaw contraception.
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This lie is another distraction, and an exceedingly cynical one. Prior to that debate no one was even thinking about contraception bans as a public issue; even now, the only people actually doing so are assorted Democrat operatives and their allies in the media. Time will tell whether American women are as stupid and susceptible to baseless fearmongering as the Democrats clearly believe them to be.

No one has proposed outlawing birth control.  Not even the Bishops.  What the Democrats are proposing is a new welfare program to provide free birth control to every woman no matter how rich they are.  At the same, the Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. 

There is no problem with access to birth control.  The question is who is going to pay for it.  For the poor, free birth control is provided by state and federal funded family planning clinics.  Even Planned Parenthood gives away free birth control to anyone who wants it.

What is most upsetting to me is that the keystone, the crown jewel of the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion, fought for, preserved by generations of Americans is now being scuttled by this Administration and Democrats for a  bogus birth control argument designed to win women back to the Democrat side come the 2012 election.    If allowed to go into effect, this mandate will create chaos across the country as Catholic hospitals, schools and charities close down.

Kathleen Sebelius says she's working on a compromise plan on contraceptive coverage under the HHS mandate and she's talking to Catholic health leaders, union leaders, and "our partners at labor"  to figure out a strategy.  Every one but the bishops.

We don't need no stinking Bishops!

Amazing. I wonder how much longer the charade goes on. We’ve known since early 2009 that the concept of conscience means nothing to this president who is much more interested in asserting power, sidestepping the constitution and acquiring more power.

This thing has been a game from the start, one put in play last November when Mrs. Pelosi let slip about “this conscience thing” that Catholics bother the government with. It’s a game, but it’s one they want to win, and one we can’t afford to lose.

And this is why they’re not interested in talking to the Bishops:

Only in the post-mandate world might it be considered ‘liberal’ for the government to coerce people into violating their religious beliefs; to justify that coercion based on the minority status of those beliefs; to intrude into the internal affairs of religious organizations; to crush out religious diversity in the private sector; and to incentivize religious groups to serve fewer of the needy.”

Investors' Business Daily Chicago's Cardinal warns of Obamacare Gulag

The ex-head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops compares the administration take on freedom of worship to the Soviet Union's and says its contraceptive mandate will force church hospitals to close.
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Cardinal George essentially rejected the administration position that you can have freedom of conscience as long as you don't act on it and that Catholics can run hospitals believing what they want as long as they don't act on those beliefs.

Cardinal George responded that what Catholics and others do is what they believe and the two cannot be separated.

"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the constitution of the former Soviet Union," Cardinal George wrote in a column in the Catholic New World. "You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship — no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."

Francis Cardinal George publishes his letter to parishioners

Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.
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What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
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The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.

Ed Morrrisey on the significance of Catholic hospitals  and why it would be a disaster if they are forced to close

The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.
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Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear.

Then there's the schools. 

The Catholic Church runs over 7500 primary and secondary education schools in the US (where over a third of students are non-Catholics), educating more than 2.5 million students.  Thanks to a near-blanket moratorium on vouchers, taxpayer money doesn’t get used in teaching these students in a system that has a 99% graduation rate and a 97% success rate at placing students in college.  Based on an average student cost of $8000 in public schools, Catholic schools save taxpayers about $20 billion dollars a year.

And the charities

In 2003, the latest data available, they provided emergency food services to 6.5 million people, temporary shelter to over 200,000 people, and a range of other assistance to another 1.5 million people, including assistance in clothing, finances, utilities, and even medication.  Those efforts would disappear overnight, along with schools and hospitals.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

February 29, 2012

"Morally irrelevant" babies

I find this appalling and chilling and profoundly wrong. 

Ethicists call for killing of newborns to be made legal

A leading British medical journal has published an article calling for the introduction of infanticide for social and medical reasons.

The article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” states in its abstract: “After-birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

The article, written by Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva of Melbourne University, argues that “foetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and consequently a law which permits abortion for certain reasons should permit infanticide on the same grounds.
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Lord Alton, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said that infanticide was the “chilling and unassailable” logical step for a society that permits killing a baby one day before birth.

He said: “That the Journal of Medical Ethics should give space to such a proposition illustrates not a slippery slope, but the quagmire into which medical ethics and our wider society have been sucked.

“Personal choice has eclipsed the sacredness, or otherness, of life itself. It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the traditional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.

“It has been said that a country which kills its own children has no future. That’s true. And a country which accepts infanticide or the killing of a little girl or a little boy because of their gender, the killing of a baby because of a disability, or the killing of a child because it is inconvenient, the wrong shape, or the wrong colour, also forfeits its right to call itself civilised.”

But Julian Savulescu, the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, has defended the publication of the paper on the British Medical Journal website. He said: “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”

We know what's next - euthanasia or assisted suicide.  Even further down the slope, anyone sick or in a coma or disabled  or whose care costs too much for the government. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

Stone Age wanderers across the Atlantic Ice

For as long as I can remember people have wondered about the Clovis people, the first human inhabitants of the New World and why they disappeared leaving their stone spear points all over the the country, mainly in the Southwest.

Everybody thought they came, like the Indians, from Asia over the Bering Strait and down the coast.  So I was flabbergasted to learn  that the Clovis people may have come across the Atlantic ice from Europe during the Ice Age.  That at least is the conclusion drawn from the archeological evidence of Clovis type tools found along the East coast at six different locations.

That find is being called one of the most important archaeological breakthroughs in several decades

 Clovis Migration

Three of the sites were discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware, while another one is in Pennsylvania and a fifth site is in Virginia.

Fishermen discovered a sixth on a seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast, which in prehistoric times would have been dry land.
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But the age of the newly-discovered tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago and are virtually exactly the same as western European materials from that time, reported The Independent.

Professor Dennis Stanford, of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and Professor Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter, were the two leading archaeologists who analysed  the evidence.

They have argued that Stone Age humans were able to make the 1500 mile journey across the Atlantic ice and suggested that from Western Europe, Stone Age people migrated to North America at the height of the Ice Age.

About three million square miles of the North Atlantic was covered in thick ice for all or part of the year at the peak of the Ice Age.
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However, beyond the ice, the lure of the open ocean began would have been extremely rich in food resources for hunters.

The two archaeologists have just published their book Across Atlantic Ice.

 Across Atlantic Ice-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:40 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2012

Perverse incentives

This has gone viral over the net and I don't where it started.  I found it at Maggie's Farm

The food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, has announced that is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals" because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.

It's funny and true except for the part about the National Park Service being part of the Department of Agriculture.  It's not.  It's part of the Department of the Interior.  But yes, the indeed, the NPS tells that to all park visitors.

It reminded me of Vodkapundit's comment to the chart below which shows that you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working a $60,000 -a-year, full-time, high-stress job.  The chart originated with Wyatt Emerich of the Cleveland Current and then picked up by Zero Hedge which verified all the numbers.

 Entitlement-Nation

Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit, commented, "The safety net is becoming a barcalounger. Who’s got the remote?"

Seems to me that we do very well for the poor and very poorly for the middle class who work and pay taxes.  A society built on such perverse incentives and unsustainable entitlements can not last. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:23 PM | Permalink

February 21, 2012

"Anti-Catholic and Un-American"

Father Barron on the HHS mandate.  Clear, calm and considered as always.

Added bonus Where are the women?

Bonus No. 2  Soft tyranny via Maggie's Farm

..."taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrial animals of which the government is the shepherd."

Alexis de Toqueville,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2012

"Rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment"

The Audacity of Power: President Obama Vs. The Catholic Church by Charles Kadlec in Forbes via The Anchoress

In one of the boldest, most audacious moves ever made by a President of the United States, President Barack Obama is on the brink of successfully rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). If he forces the Catholic Church to comply with the Health and Human Services ruling to provide its employees with insurance that covers activities the Church has long held sinful — abortion via the morning after pill, sterilization and contraceptives — then the precedent is clear: when religious beliefs conflict with government decrees, religion must yield.
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Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.

The fundamental question is whether the Catholic Church, and by extension, individual Americans have to engage in activities according to the rulings of this and future Presidents, or are we free to live our lives as we choose as long as we do not harm another. Are we free to engage in long standing religious practices that have never before been deemed unlawful, or has the federal government established a de facto state “religion” that it is prepared to enforce through the full coercive power of its financial resources and the imposition of financial penalties.
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I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty

Paul Ryan on Meet the Press

“What we’re getting from the White House on this conscience issue, it’s not an issue about contraception, it’s an issue that reveals a political philosophy the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they were revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights from our creator,”

David French

Religious employers are asserting rights of conscience and free exercise of religion grounded in the First Amendment, arguably the single-most important constitutional provision protecting individual liberty from state power. Competing against this 200-year-old foundational legal principle is . . . an executive branch regulation (not even a statute) establishing a “right” that has never before existed in the history of the Republic — a “right to contraception coverage at no additional cost”

David Warren, a Canadian, in Matters of Conscience

Americans do not yet fully realize that ObamaCare is a "work in progress." What they see now is only the thin end of the wedge, and the current controversial HHS Mandate is modest compared to what will arise farther down the road.

A "Preventive Services Task Force" has been empowered to "prioritize" (thus effectively decide) everything to be covered by private health insurance - and with perfect Kafkaesque serenity, for it makes all decisions behind closed doors, need not announce decisions in draft, and is under no obligation to consider any external suggestions. Its decisions cannot be directly appealed, and it cannot be sued for the consequences of them.

If the Americans fail to repeal ObamaCare, they will soon learn it was a stalking horse for the full "socialization" of their health-care system.

Obama Deceives Catholics on Compromise, J. Christian Adams

Give the Obama administration their due, they sure are great deceivers. In an effort to escape the firestorm engulfing them because of the ObamaCare mandate that forces churches to violate their theology, the president announced a “compromise” on February 10. The details of this compromise demonstrate that President Obama simply cannot be believed.
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Lies, all.

First, nothing was changed from the original rule.  The Department of Health and Human Services, Friday night, hours after Obama’s big “compromise,” issued the final regulation in exact form as the regulation first issued in August 2011 “without changes.”  Church-affiliated entities, such as Catholic hospitals, were still not exempted in the issued final regulation.

This is Not Just a “Culture War,” It’s An Attack on The First Amendment by Ron Futrell

This is also a fight much larger than “culture.” Culture is something that defines art and common belief. Culture is something that changes with the times and can actually be defined as you wish. Much of our culture today is not what it was 50, 100, or 200 years ago.
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For the media to call this a “culture war” greatly diminishes its value, this is a battle over the First amendment of the US Constitution. Obama wants the Constitution circumvented to pander to his base, I would hope that most of us would be united with the Catholic Church in wanting it protected.

It Isn't Just Catholics Mad About ObamaCare Mandate

This week, two non-Catholic Christian colleges are proving that Obama-Care's contraception-sterilization requirement isn't just a Catholic concern. They are suing for their religious freedoms, too.
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The two schools argue that the "compromise" President Obama announced earlier this month, forcing insurers themselves instead of religious institutions to provide the controversial services — and for free — "is entirely fictitious."


Memo to Jews: After They Come for the Catholic Church, They Will Come For Us
  David Goldman

Today it is contraception and the morning-after pill. Tomorrow it will be kosher slaughter, or matrilineal descent, or circumcision, or other matters of existential importance to Jewish observance. If the Obama administration gets away with forcing Catholic institutions to step across lines of life and death in the name of “health,” the federal government will have a precedent to legislate Judaism out of existence — as several other countries have already tried to do.
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Open the door to “scientific” determination of matters of life and death, and America’s Orthodox Jews — a minority within a minority — will be vulnerable to a new Inquisition. On this issue, there can be no compromise. Agudath Israel is right: Jews should stand by the right of the Catholic Church to determine what is acceptable by its standards, just as we one day will ask the Catholic Church to stand by our right to determine what is acceptable by our standards. To its credit, Britain’s Catholic Church stood by us in 2009 when the English courts shamefully and wrongly ruled that our most basic religious criteria were “racist.” Shamefully and wrongfully, some Jews have failed to stand by the Church under the Obama administration’s persecution. I appeal to these Jews: Don’t be naive. We’re next.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:50 PM | Permalink

The effect on the Japanese people of the radiation leaked from the Fukusima nuclear plant

A year after the great Japanese earthquake and resulting damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant and it's not what many people think.

So far no one has died from radiation leaks as a result of the plant's damage. No one has even been reported as becoming sick. In fact, no one has required decontamination except plant workers. In other words, the leak was minimal and not problematic. There wasn't a huge meltdown, there wasn't a Chernobyl style disaster.

In fact, as Andrew Bolt links, even Chernobyl wasn't as bad as people thought:
As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.

The new numbers are presented in a landmark digest report, “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts,” just released by the Chernobyl Forum. The digest, based on a three-volume, 600-page report and incorporating the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and health experts, assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history.
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And so it is with nuclear power. Plants are better built now, better understood, and safer. If a massive quake and tsunami did so little damage to a plant, shouldn't we be a little more willing to give these clean, abundant power sources a chance?

This is extremely good news,  And for the vast majority of us unsuspected and surprising.  After all, we all read stories along these lines. 

"The Japanese crews will slough their skin and muscles, and bleed out internally under the full glare of the world's media"

That was Guy Rundle last March in the Australian Crikey.

Another case where what the media's propagation of fears is completely divorced from what has been shown by scientists seeking truth, making careful observations, collecting and analyzing data and then drawing careful conclusions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2012

"You're trying to ban bacon!!!!"

Instapundit

It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying “What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!”
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Expect more effort to gin up social-issue hysteria in order to distract people from the real story, which is this:
Obama spent us into bankruptcy, most of the money went to cronies, and the job situation got worse. That’s the real story, not a question of who pays for birth control, which doesn’t cost that much anyway.

Mark Steyn on Contraception Misdirection

According to CBO projections, by mid-century mere interest payments on the debt will exceed federal revenues. For purposes of comparison, by 1788 Louis XVI’s government in France was spending a mere 60 percent of revenues on debt service, and we know how that worked out for His Majesty shortly thereafter. Not to worry, says Barry Antoinette. Let them eat condoms.

This is a very curious priority for a dying republic. “Birth control” is accessible, indeed ubiquitous, and, by comparison with anything from a gallon of gas to basic cable, one of the cheapest expenses in the average budget. Not even Rick Santorum, that notorious scourge of the sexually liberated, wishes to restrain the individual right to contraception.

But where is the compelling societal interest in the state prioritizing and subsidizing it? Especially when you’re already the Brokest Nation in History.

Right to insurance trumps right to religion for Pelosi, Boxer

The House Minority Leader says self-insurance is no protection against the government's contraceptive mandate, while California's junior senator says people have a right to be insured but no right to practice their faith
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Lost in the phony "compromise" on the Health and Human Services mandate on religious institutions being forced to pay for contraceptive services was the fact that many such institutions are self-insured. So making insurance companies pay instead is a distinction without a difference. Sometimes these religious institutions are their own insurance company.
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On MSNBC's Politics Nation with Al Sharpton Tuesday, where the two discussed a bill to protect freedom of religion and conscience, Pelosi agreed that you cannot "make a law where an employer can decide his own religious beliefs violate your right to be insured."

Funny, we thought the First Amendment trumped everything, including the nonexistent right to be insured.

It’s Not About Contraception

How exactly was the liberty to use contraception jeopardized by the Catholic exemption? In no way would a woman’s freedom in this respect be infringed simply because her employer was free to choose not to pay for her contraceptive products and services.

Yet advocates of Obamacare insist on conflating these issues. They repeatedly portray opposition to forced financing of contraception as opposition to contraception itself.
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Women have the right to contraception (and any other product) in the sense that they have a right to spend their money on it or to try to persuade someone else to do so. There can be no right to force (or have the government force) others to pay.

Charles Krauthammer on The Obamacare Trifecta

Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth-control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless.
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Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries?

This is government by presidential fiat. In Venezuela, that’s done all the time. Perhaps we should call Obama’s “accommodation” Presidential Decree No. 1.


Consider the constitutional wreckage left by Obamacare:

First, its assault on the free exercise of religion...Second, its assault on free enterprise......Third, the assault on individual autonomy.
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This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies, and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.

Kulturkampf (culture struggle) as Public Health

About a month ago, people who thought religious institutions shouldn’t be forced to pay for things they morally oppose were unremarkable, boring even. Now, they are waging a heinous War on Women.

Through the twisted logic of statism run amok, opposition to a new Health and Human Services mandate forcing employers to buy insurance covering contraceptives becomes opposition to access to contraceptives altogether.
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Never mind that a vast government apparatus exists to provide poor women access to contraceptives, from Medicaid and community health centers to Title X. There are roughly 4,500 Title X–funded clinics around the country. They are required to provide free birth control to the poor and subsidized birth control to people with incomes between 100 percent and 250 percent of poverty. They serve about 5 million people a year.

By any reasonable standard, we are one of the most lavishly contracepted societies in the