Thursday, January 26, 2006
A Big Family Life Lesson
Mrs. Dadmanly wanted to share a recent life experience, relating to her having a very large extended family. The following is a post I thought others might appreciate.
In the past two months, two of my Aunts on my Mom’s side have died. I am very grateful for memories, because as more and more of my family is no longer with us, memories are all that is left to hang onto. (Along with a few forks and spoons that I kept from Babci’s house, my polish Gramma, that every time I use them to eat or cook with, I feel like she is right there with me.)
I’ve explained it lately to others that we are a “Blessed Family” to have had so many wonderful Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, but it is also a mixed blessing because it is extremely painful as they are not with us anymore (especially my sister and cousin). All the holidays, summers at
I went to my Aunt’s Wake this past Sunday evening. How strange it was that my Aunt was lying there and we were all talking and chatting and laughing and sharing our memories, and knowing that if she was alive she would be one that would be laughing right along with us.
I remember many years ago on Easter Sunday at Babci’s, my Aunt was laughing so hard that her belt popped right off (remember those stretchy belts in the 70’s). It let loose and went flying and I can still hear that funny noise it made echoing in my ears, lol. That is one of so many memories and that is only one of my Aunt’s.
Eight Aunts and Uncles on Moms side and Six Aunts and Uncles on Dads side, WOW! So all this brings me to why I’m writing this today.
Last night my sisters invited me to join them in visiting my Aunt (on my Dad’s side) at the
Part of me was thinking how nice it would be and a larger part was saying, I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS. I do not want to go to the nursing home, everyone is sick, dying, life less, it’s not the same to see them like this, it makes me uncomfortable, what will she be like, what will she look like, how can I get out of this!
Even yesterday, up until an hour before we were to go I said to my husband, I don’t want to go, I just don’t want to go. We have too much to do when we get home, Little Manly will get to bed too late, etc. etc.
We went. Everything timed out. We picked up our son, ate dinner, arrived with time to spare, even got lost, but kept going. I was anxious, uncomfortable, and wanted it over.
As I entered the nursing home, I prayed for God to remove any and all of my “issues,” you know having it be “all about me.” As we approached her room I could hear laughter, was that her? There sat my Aunt on her bed, and my two sisters next to her.
I was toting a 2 lb. box of candy (isn’t that what you bring someone that is in a nursing home?) She hugged us and kissed us, she was SO happy to see us, and the candy. She has trouble speaking, she gets nervous, excited and then cannot talk. It did not matter.
Little Manly sang her a song, we talked about memories, and we laughed and we laughed. Why did I wait so long? I got to experience again the love of my family, the times we would all be together. Our lives are so short. We wait and then we regret. We are too busy. Things that are not that important become more important than relationships, and what is life about if not for people.
I left the nursing home with peace, joy, and a smile on my face. Someday could that be me? Someday will be here eventually, will I have more regrets, or peace?
Some words of wisdom: Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because tomorrow never seems to come.” “The things of this world will pass away,” will I be left with the blessing of memories, or the pain of regret? Thanks for letting me be a part of YOUR day.
A Sister’s Postscript:
This I know to be true, as I fall into one of these categories. Elderly people, people with illnesses, teenagers and single people just don't receive enough physical touch. So when you encounter any of these folks, whether it be friends or family, make it a point to physically touch them. And, don't forget to make it "real," whether it be a hand-hold, kiss, or hug. We really don't know how long we will have each other in this life; and the present is so "precious."
A Dadmanly Postscript:
I am forever grateful that God arranged for a soul-mate, who brought with her an extended family of over 100 souls. My extended family can be numbered on my hands (no need for feet).
Sure, they can drive any of us crazy at one time or another, but this mass of humanity, who thinks I am important if only because I am part of their family, taught me as well, that each one of them is important, too. Because there is no better classroom for the human heart to learn that each of us, warts and all, are a unique gift from God.
It is sad, that the bigger the family, the more grief we are certain to experience. But I also know that, for each moment of grief, there are a dozen more of laughter, excitement, love and enthusiasm. More of everything, but grief too. But how much less grief, than those poor unfortunates, for whom there are no great big globs of family there, to lift their arms in a great big hug of welcome home.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The Ugliest of Things
Joel Stein dropped quite the incendiary device in Tuesday’s LA Times. He claims that he meant it to detonate on the flanks of his anti-war fellow travelers, but, since he commenced his tantrum with “I don’t support the troops,” the collateral damage potentially spreads to anyone in uniform. (That is, if we even bother to concern ourselves with what an LA Times opinion columnist thinks about anything military-related.)
Stein and his choice of protest weapon can be faulted for many things, not least of which the arrogance from which this piece emanates. Anyone in the military who volunteered since 9/11 is morally culpable for the actions taken by leadership, and as we are part of Imperial Amerika imposing it’s will on a peaceful world, we are to blame, and can be held responsible for supporting evil.
Could it be any more obvious that Stein has not a clue? Stein remains completely divorced from any “reality” that includes meaningful contact and relationship with anyone in the military or any knowledge of military affairs.
Stein admits this in an extensive interview with Hugh Hewitt yesterday. I am in awe of the detachment, poise and calm with which Hugh interviewed Stein. He continued to explore the degree to which Stein would admit to 1) knowing anyone in the military, 2) what he thinks of those who serve, under a range of scenarios, and 3) whether Stein has any idea what the words duty or honor (or even civic responsibility) mean. Extremely revealing. My hat’s off to Stein, for deftly exposing the hypocrisy so pervasive within the yellow-belly underbelly of the anti-war movement. (And a hat’s off to Hewitt for facilitating.)
But of course, such a position relies on an intellectually dishonest and repeatedly resisted framing of the GWoT as it has been officially and strategically outlined by our twice-elected CiC, one that wishes to bracket out all but reactive retaliatory measures—and even then, the preferred method to do so is international tribunals and UN paperwork—and to insist that a large, and largely covert, nationless threat spread over the globe, whose members are joined by purpose, tactic, ideology, and leadership structure (and who, let us not forget, has also declared open war on us, and has a plan for the defeat of the west) is nothing but a series of small, disparate potential mini-battles that can be handled without any but the most cosmetic military intervention.
But Iraq was never envisioned as an isolated action under the current war strategy; it was considered a battle in a larger war, and was prompted out of intelligence fears, the decision not to play defense and wait for a threat to become imminent or for more towers to fall, and out of a belief that when murderous tyrants threaten the safety and security of your country, it is high time—in an age of such instantaneous global communication and travel—to take them at their word.
Stein’s essay, therefore, can be viewed as just another in a long line of attempts to assume a position of virtue through the sophistry of gilded cowardice masquerading as idealism.
And Commenter Mojo, quoting John Stuart Mill:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
What weak beer, what consummately revealing piffle. I could spend hours popping the man’s comfortable and self-reverential balloons before beating him into the dust for practice’s sake, just for being deeply, criminally stupid. Except that, holding three jobs at the moment, I haven’t got the time.
Sadly, all of this attention is no doubt the primary reason Stein took his “courageous stand” for the sake of the LA Times. We can only hope the subscription fallout from his little try at carpet bombing can repay the LA Times for their support for his assault.
LINKS: Mudville Gazette
UPDATE: Other great posts on Stein’s column:
Fuzzilicious, American Thinker, Soldiers Angel Holly Aho
Friday, January 20, 2006
The Problem of Iran
Joe Katzman, writing at Winds of Change, presents a highly logical if chilling analysis of various Iranian scenarios. Some commenters offer more hope for more viable options to avert the catastrophes Joe articulates. Armed Liberal promises some brighter options this weekend. Grim, difficult, seconds to midnight fare. All too probable.
Like the question posed by Scrooge, confronting the visions of Christmases future:
Are these the visions of what will be, or what might be without an altered course for the present? Must we be condemned to an inevitable future, or is there time to change the outcomes that look all so certain now?
The fierce opponents of the Bush Administration’s policies on Iraq and the Global War on Terror have long used North Korea and Iran as the strawmen for a “there are greater dangers” line of political attack. Where are they now?
Does President Bush and his team have the strength of will to take on yet one more challenge in the face of the inner opposition? Can they overcome the fifth column? Can they eliminate the nuclear threat yet preserve the Iranian people’s hopes and dreams for democracy for them, too?
Can they even move fast enough now, or is it already too late? Must an
I’m afraid I agree with commenters who warn there is no way near enough time to use a “topple from within” strategy of aiding and enabling democracy movement within Iran. I do think someone in the last day or two suggested sponsoring a military coup that deposes the mullahs and turns power over to a civilian authority (in time). (Unless of course, those who might have led such an effort died in the recent suspicious Iranian military plane crash.)
Many of us long suspected Iraq was selected after Afghanistan in large part due to its potential as the tipping point in destroying the Middle East as it was, and creating the conditions to thereby unleash the natural and long suppressed aspirations of people in the Middle East for freedom and democracy, to work in concert with military and diplomatic efforts.
Yet this takes place within a very fractured and insubordinate coalition. No, I’m not talking the insubordination of allied nation states, but the almost traitorous rebellion of agencies and agents within the Federal Government. Department of State, the CIA, FBI, members of Congress – all have seen their share of counter-counter insurgency efforts. For political gain, for turf, to exact vendetta, for partisan advantage, for policy control or supremacy. Not to mention a very divided and sometimes ambivalent public, made increasingly skeptical beyond reason by a hostile media.
The battle of our times is upon us, greater than we have ever known in our history, greater perhaps than the twilight years of fascist ascendancy in the 30s and 40s, or the threat of encroaching communism in the 60s and 70s. Nuclear weaponry and global destructive capability has final devolved down to the logical endstate of technical capability. In the hands of madman, surely.
We could stand by and see what happens, we could, and in the face of great uncertainly, fear, and the potential costs of action and mistake, we possibly will.
The problem is, with this technology, it won’t mean that everyone around the world will have to deal with noxious American syndicated television or culturally abusive motion pictures as a consequence. Or a bar on every corner, or earplugs in every ear.
Rather, we’ll all be faced with the kind of nuclear exchange that many of us who lived through the Cold War thought we had averted. And as the mushroom clouds expand, and the world as we know it ends, will we be prepared for what is left?
Not just the damage to our allies or our cities. But to ourselves? To the nation we will and must become, to finally, completely, for once and for all, really fight back against this enemy and vanquish them from the face of the Earth?
For at that point, as we in anguish mourn the extermination of the Israelis or Iranians or Iraqis or whoever else gets caught in the carnage, we will finally have the will to act, and act with extreme violence. And in the killing and the conquering and the elimination of this enemy, we may in the end pay a higher price for victory than ever we imagined.
But fight we will. Now, or later.
Links: Mudville Gazette, Jo's Cafe, Outside the Beltway
Thursday, January 19, 2006
At Play in the Fields of Propaganda
Glenn Reynolds, Austin Bay and others cite the recently publicized Bin Laden statement as evidence that we’re winning. I think we are, too, and Bin Laden’s press release is surely a piece of evidence of our success.
As Bay humorously paraphrases, Bin Laden begs, “Please don’t wage war on our turf, but let us wage war on yours.”
Reynolds draws the proper conclusion:
The offer is insincere, of course, but that he (or his designated al Qaeda stand-in) is making it at all tells us everything we need to know. I guess that "intelligence failure" in
Tigerhawk and the many links he points to reflect that there are some people who will be very unhappy that that may be the case. Readers of conservative media, and especially conservative blogs, have seen clear and convincing proof that BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) has widely infected the Democratic Party and others in the liberal elites. Though even they, I suspect, like Sullivan, are going to hedge their bets as to the significance of Bin Laden’s offer to parlay.
So why would Bin Laden make a public request for a “truce?” He can’t seriously think that President Bush or the other members of the coalition would be foolish enough to take him up on it. Clearly, this message is for another audience altogether. But who? His supporters in the Arab world? The American public? Peace activists? The press? All of the above?
Hugh Hewitt links to transcription of Bin Laden and some excellent analysis by Walid Phares in National Review Online. Phares transcribes Bin Laden’s opening as "Our situation, thanks to Allah, is better than yours,” and notes that this would be standard fare for his Arab audience. Per Phares, Bin Laden then goes on to say,
“Your polls indicate that your people want a withdrawal from
The remaining of Bin Laden’s threats and admonitions are meant to convince his audience that Americans will come to know how big a mistake
I know military analysis is a skill largely vacant in mainstream media, and we all see demonstrated regularly that most Democrats don’t have a clue (except those few other Democrats despise), but just a thought from a practitioner.
If your enemy doesn’t want you to do something, that usually means it’s a good thing to do. (That’s just for the novices.)
More importantly. None of this is really intended for public consumption, and Bin Laden doesn’t really give a crap what the American people think, nor does he care what’s better for them. (Like that needed to be said, after 3,000 Americans dead at his “Saudi Dissident” hands. Don’t get me started on that.) This is for the Western Press, his unwitting allies. It will get press. It is part of occasional efforts to “mainstream” and rehabilitate the pubic standing of terrorists for political ends. (Hey if it can happen to Yassar Arafat, it can work for Bin Laden, right?)
Which I think points to the dimension of this Information War with Al Qaeda that doesn’t get enough attention at all. Most regretfully, those who are Al Qaeda’s unwitting allies in this fight, who we should desire to be on our side, are those who distrust us more than they distrust the enemies who exploit them.
Instapundit today also links to a report at Defense Tech that observes that the media’s near-obsessive desire to remain “objective” and impartial leads them to dispense credulity with every press release from our enemies, yet cynically dismiss or disparage any effort by the U.S. Military or the Bush Administration to highlight successes or other positive news.
NOTE: This was an excerpt from the piece by David Axe at Defense Tech, linked by Glenn Reynolds but later temporarily pulled as it was to appear within an upcoming Salon.com article.
Whether there is much progress in Arab
There is a workable solution, and it's called embedding. No one protects journos as well as the
Glenn also mentions an oft-quoted comment by Pam Hess on CNN Reliable Sources that makes much the same point.
Dave Price, writing at Dean's World adds an additional insight, that of the “decency” difference between our enemies and our coalition:
In addition to the aforementioned problem of disproportionate media distrust of our military, it seems to me this is another example of our "decency disadvantage": because the
One might hope that at some point the media as a whole will ameliorate that disadvantage by noticing one side is murdering them while the other is protecting their right to speak freely and start reporting the situation with that in mind, rather than ignoring the gaping moral chasm in the name of an effectively pro-fascist "objectivity," but I'm not holding my breath.
I am not asking for the miracle of full self awareness for the press, and I don’t want a press of sycophants or boosters (although with their own civilization and lifestyles under threat, they might think about that). But objectivity shouldn’t just mean being neutral or on the other side. Objectivity should mean first seeing things for what they are, not confirming your own biases, and then trying to ensure some kind of balance if there are multiple viewpoints.
There is no way in God’s Green Earth that the bastions of the mainstream media have any kind of balance to their reporting. This aids our enemy propaganda effort, and
Links: Mudville Gazette
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Some Thoughts on Hitchens
Andrew Sullivan quotes Christopher Hitchens on his decision to join the ACLU lawsuit against NSA surveillance of suspected terrorist international communications with persons (possibly US citizens) in the
Scott Johnson at Powerline has characterized the motivations of the plaintiffs, including Hitchens. It makes thoughtful reading. Shame on Hitchens for joining this fight, at this time, against so effective a weapon in the arsenal. That he has been as resolute as he has, in seeing the threat and calling it by name, makes the sudden reluctance of this warrior all the more troubling. Perhaps we will come to see his logic, or his retreat from the argument. I doubt I’ll come to terms with his conclusion, that this President takes too much liberty with his explicit and implicit powers, as I am in the camp of those who say we could do so much more, and with more vigor.
I am no lawyer, but it strikes me that some of the parties involved have no real legal standing in the suit, and the others are actively involved in a struggle to defeat the
Some in the suit are prominent and active in defense of accused terrorists. That may give them reason to think their efforts to defend their clients in legal proceedings might be damaged. It should also strongly suggest, that at least for some of these plaintiffs, their effort to enjoin this suit is no more than another tactical move in the Al Qaeda playbook. That’s a known and widely reported strategy of the Jihadist, to use our legal systems against the infidel. Honest critics of Administration policy should be very cautious indeed at discounting such motivations and stratagems as McCarthyite paranoia.
Congress voted to give President Bush as Commander in Chief broad powers to wage war, even if in doing so they evaded (and failed in) their Constitutional responsibilities to declare war and direct spending (not to wage war, I might add, which is a power and responsibility of the Executive Branch). They did so because we are at war, and yet the war is very different from any we have fought in the past, and the enemy difficult to define, aligned with rogue nations, but not defined by nation states.
Hence the illogic and fruitlessness of diplomatic or law enforcement solutions to the problem.
Surely the NY Times will never be convinced in the logical inconsistencies of their own reporting (and biases), then and now. But I retain faith that thoughtful liberals such as Hitchens, ones who can reach common ground with conservatives, who likewise remember the older liberal (and truly progressive) tradition, can be won over.
Beyond that, I want to answer the concluding question posed by Sullivan in his post:
why are there not more conservatives skeptical of a newly intrusive government power? Has it occurred to them that these powers may one day be deployed by a president they don't trust?
As very well documented by now, the Clinton Administration, led in the fight by Jamie Gorelick of “Wall of Separation” fame, early and often sought, took, and defended
And deployed they were, by a President that in fact was broadly distrusted and despised by many of the supporters of the Bush Administration’s War on Terror. William Jefferson Clinton, to be precise. And an administration for which there were some non-trivial accusations of political dirty tricks with multiple Presidential powers, despite few convictions.
It seems to me that conservatives not only survived two terms of
Hitchens has been a solid soldier in the Global War on Terror, and perhaps we can overlook his sudden change of heart on an important tool of counter-terrorism.
Nobility of Purpose
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette passes on a letter from a new Marine, and how he and his wife came to the decision for him to join.
In so doing, Greyhawk also posts a portion of Teddy Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena speech.
For all the naysaying, for all the criticism, for all the 20/20 hindsight, backbiting and carping about how poorly planned was this or that aspect of the War on Terror, maybe in the end it all comes down to this.
I always remember Jenny’s idiot lefty boyfriend in Forrest Gump, who, in excuse of his own bad behavior, blames “that damned Johnson.” Versus the idiot savant Gump, who knows only that he cares for Jenny and he does his best, with duties as forced upon him, or that he undertakes out of love.
You can sit on the sidelines. You can bitch and moan and crank and curse as you sit in Starbucks drinking your Latte. You can spin enormous webs of societal prescription for all the ills of man, and if you ever get the chance again, cheer as well-intentioned champions continue to increase of Government (and thereby decrease liberty).
Beware those critics who stand back and abandon the fight:
A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.
Yet for those who see the fight, know an enemy, recognize the threat, not only to lives and limbs, but to our very way of life, something more. To Western civilization, and what it has and yet can achieve, despite it’s many annotated failings, a calling. And in the end, a nobility of purpose:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Follow the link to Mudville Gazette. Read
Monday, January 16, 2006
A Whiff From 1984
Michael Barone, writing in The Beautiful People vs. The Dutiful People at RealClearPolitics, introduces his essay with Judge Samuel Alito’s opening statement to the Judiciary Committee. Following his oft-quoted reminiscence of growing up in
"But this was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community."
Barone expands on this same dissonance between the function that University communities used to fulfill in some distant past, with a now dysfunctional academia that can achieve such nobility of purpose only in the fanciful imaginings of aging hipsters. Barone’s assessment of the dissonance:
The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of cultural conflict, a battle between what I have called the beautiful people and the dutiful people. While Manhattan glitterati thronged Leonard Bernstein’s apartment to celebrate the murderous Black Panthers, ordinary people in the outer boroughs and the far-flung suburbs of New Jersey like Hamilton Township were going to work, raising their families, and teaching their children to obey lawful authority and work their way up in the world.
That was 30-40 years ago, and the coming of age of those who were educated within the confines of the two Americas (as Senator Edwards might want to remark) brought an even greater gulf between the University and the rest of America:
Our universities today have become our most intellectually corrupt institutions. University administrators must lie and deny that they use racial quotas and preferences in admissions, when they devote much of their energy to doing just that. They must pledge allegiance to diversity, when their campuses are among the least politically diverse parts of our society, with speech codes that penalize dissent and sometimes violent suppression of conservative opinion. You can go door-to-door in
Barone is exactly right. It occurred to me reading his indictment, that elite Universities today resemble nothing more than the world of 1984 that George Orwell warned of in 1948. Orwell based his warning on the power and corruption of the super state, where government became the grave threat to individual civil liberties.
I happen to think that threat is real, and that our government, in its growing excess of power and spheres of influence over every aspect of modern life, needs to be watched, closely.
Orwell might not agree, but in terms of a case study of doublethink, black is white, all views must conform, and the complete intolerance of dissent, the best examples we have are our institutions of higher learning. Our elites graduate with established disdain for their fellow Americans who are so stupid as to not see things which their privileged minds have long taken for granted.
Forced to confront a government they despise, and a Red State America they caricature but don’t understand, Bush animus is their motivator and every argument an opportunity for criticism and compliant. And they are nowhere more satisfied with themselves and their opinions than in the cloistered world of liberal Academia.
And to think, it is the inheritors of the tradition of liberalism who have met the enemy, and it is their best intentions.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Through the Prism of Bush
First, the money quotes form Beinart:
Yet, if Lieberman's view is one-dimensional, so is that of his critics. If he only sees Bush through the prism of war, they only see the war through the prism of Bush--which is why they can muster so little anger at
What both Lieberman and the Lieberman-haters have lost is what the great social democratic critic Irving Howe called "two-sided politics." Liberals are engaged in two different struggles--one against illiberalism at home, the other against an even more profound illiberalism abroad. Both must be fought with passion. Neither can be subsumed. Each must be sometimes compromised for the sake of the other. It is that moral tension--more than Bush-hatred, and more than wartime unity--that defines the liberal spirit. Let's hope both Lieberman and his critics recapture it in the days ahead.
A vain hope, if ever there was one, at least from on eof the sides in question. Kurtz quotes hyper-partisan Kos:
I don't like Lieberman because he carries water for the GOP. He reinforces right-wing frames. Because he rolled over during the recount in 2000 without fighting for the victory Gore had earned. Because he is the go-to guy whenever the press needs a Democrat to bash another Democrat. He thinks it makes him a maverick or something. In fact, it makes him a tool of the GOP.
Of course, it doesn't help that his views on
“I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about
Remember, for the KOS, Kennedy, and Pelosi Democrats, Lieberman’s views are “colored by fantasy and wishful-thinking,” because presumably he spends too much time talking to military leaders and soldiers, rather than those sole-purveyors of “realities on the ground,” such as the Time’s Baghdad Bureau Chief, safely ensconced in his cocoon in the Green Zone.
Note also the reference to the election “victory Gore had earned” in 2000. The Commander in Chief is wrong, wrong, wrong, because at root, he’s still illegitimate. Far too many in positions of responsibility – in the Democratic Party and Government – can “only see the war through the prism of Bush.”
While there’s probably no better testament to the moral courage and commitment of our President, that’s a pretty sad commentary on any opposition party that seeks preeminence.
Links: Mudville Gazette
It IS Child Abuse
Thomas Hibbs, writing Hostel Territory in National Review Online, reviews Quentin Tarantino’s latest evilfest, Hostel.
Go read the review if you’re even remotely tempted to see the film. What struck me was the damning indictment at the end of Hibb’s withering review:
Yet, the most depressing and horrifying thing about these sorts of films is, alas, not the explicit gore. It is the fact that at nearly every screening of a gruesome horror film I attend (from
That reminded me of the times I’ve seen parents drag children along to similar fare. I once saw a woman bring two children, one about 3 or 4, into a screening of one of the Scream movies.
I’m with Hibbs, allowing children to watch movies that involve extreme violence and gore goes beyond just poor parenting. It’s child abuse.
Our society goes to extraordinary lengths to try to legislate away any conceivable risk from daily life – completely divorced from any cost benefit or proportion – and yet be so utterly blind to the real risks our culture imposes on our children.
I know James Lileks makes a good living, rightfully lampooning bad parenting of the past, but I think the parents of today, by willful neglect, are worse than any in history. We do backflips to monitor and guide nutritional choices, fall prey to every claim towards healthfulness or organics, but cultural effects?
A powerful societal norm assumes parents are now responsible for their children’s college expenses, and keeping the home open for returning adults well into the twenties. And yet, this is paired with an almost complete ambivalence about a wide range of cultural influences upon even our youngest children.
Friends gets labeled family fare, despite how many episodes involving graphic, promiscuous, or otherwise deviant sexual activity. Most grade school children routinely watch R rated movies rented by their parents and viewed as a family in the home. Kids sit for hours at Playstations and X boxes, engaged in virtual violence, tearing on screen enemies apart or bathing their screens in blood.
Industry apologists will say that parents retain the responsibility for protecting their children from such adult themes, and can properly explain difficult content to their children. This is of course true. But it becomes almost impossible to protect your children, when the culture eliminates any constraints that would have served to marginalize sources of exposure or make our job easier. And doubly hard, when the parents around us so completely shun their responsibilities. We can’t even trust the neighbors or the parents of our children’s friends to even pay attention to such negative influences.
For these neglectful parents, it’s as if some stranger comes into their homes, and teaches their children about every nuance of sexual expression, and the graphic realism or every possible form of mutilation, horror, or abuse. And those kids try to share it with mine. So even when we’re vigilant, we find the defenses of our neighbors go completely unattended.
People, it’s time we wake up to the real threat our children face: our own neglect.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
NOTE: Now before any of my erstwhile MILBLOGGER friends recoil in horror or pummel me senseless for my admission that I voted for Hillary, let me say in my defense that I thought her Republican opponent was inept and incapable, and for a unrepentant Blue State electorate, a politically ambitious Hillary would 1) move rightward, 2) support the military, and 3) have greater influence than the average junior Senator. (If that’s not enough of a defense for you, color me full of remorse, and swearing it all off on a moment of non-partisan weakness. If my friend Norm can forgive me, perhaps you can too.)
As one of your constituents, a veteran of OIF III, and someone who actually voted for you, I must strenuously object to your recent public statements on body armor for the U.S. Military, and the grossly offensive conclusions you have publicly drawn of competence of the Commander in Chief, the Vice President, and what you describe as their isolation "from different points of view."
You remain isolated from different points of view, yourself, Senator. Despite your many transparent efforts to portray yourself as a supporter of our military, on this issue in particular you reveal yourself as out of step with the majority of soldiers.
Body armor, as armor generally for military equipment as well as personnel, involves tradeoffs. The heavier the armor, the more energy and slower speed of movement. Increasing difficulty moving, and slowing soldiers down, gets them killed as well.
The study you site cannot yield any information about how many lives existing body armor saved. Nor, can one rightly conclude that more body armor would have resulted in fewer deaths. (Because, of course, there is a potential cost in lives to HAVING more and heavier body armor. For every lived safed with more armor, two more might have been lost.)
That you use the findings of the study to which you refer, to bludgeon your political opponents for political gain, makes your behavior all the more reprehensible.
If you want to support the military -- and I grow increasingly dubious of your motivations -- drop the partisan posturing and learn something about the military, our way of life, what we care about, and our values.
We don't demand that you share ours, but you need to show more respect for them. First and foremost of those values, is partisanship goes by the wayside when we're at war.
You'd have to clean up your act a darnsight to gain my vote in future.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I am a Milblogger just back from Iraq, who had to go without Vioxx that I had been prescribed for polyarthritus for the year of my deployment. I next moved to Bextra, likewise taken off the market.
I first wrote my frustrations in a post from August.
I would love to see a lawyer with some juice frame the proper case for a class action style counter-suit against those who sue Pharmaceutical Companies (particularly class action law firms) for exorbitant damages from unproven correlations to "harmful side effects."
It stirkes me that I am deprived of a drug my Rheumatologist and I know to be effective for my condition, directly due to their greed and the unrelenting drive towards eliminating perceived risks, whoever remote, unproven or relatively inconsequential in comparison to benefit.
A Letter of Thanks
I recently was honored by a dinner out from many of my co-workers at Keane, Inc. (www.keane.com). I abandon my normal reticence from revealing actual identities, and mean to refer to the company by name, if only to emphasize my pride and appreciation. They’ve been great to me, and the generosity of spirit and commitment of support from local, as well as corporate decision-makers, has been overwhelming.
They are an international consulting company, headquartered in
As a publicly traded entity, company leadership needs to pass any change or increase in benefits passed a Board of Stockholders, who would ordinarily be expected to maintain a strong focus on a healthy bottom line. That this company continues to improve Guard and Reserve employee benefits to better offset lengthy activations and deployments, is a testament to company leaders and their stockholders. My hats off to all.
I make mention of my gratitude to underscore another blessing that came my way via my employer, but from a very special person. A staff member happened to have a very young daughter, let’s call her Lisa, visiting the Corporate Headquarters, and she found out that the Company President was sending me a letter welcoming me back from
On the evening of the dinner with my colleagues, I was presented with both messages. I was touched profoundly. This has happened so many times, with the overwhelming support we who serve have received from our neighbors, our friends, our local businesses, even strangers who so often express such gratitude for our service.
Our Admin Specialist, herself a woman of great generosity who helped Mrs. Dadmanly and I in so many ways, told me that the girl’s Mom said Lisa often wonders if the soldiers to whom she sends her notes of encouragement receive them, or enjoy their contents.
I know the answer to that. Our failures to repay these many kindnesses more often reflect fatigue, or lack of time, or even a natural reluctance to acknowledge all the praise that so often accompanies each card from a stranger or package from afar. Some of us never developed good habits of saying “thanks,” at least not in any formal way with a card or letter in reply. I think now on what it might have meant to send a little card to some of the more tender hearts that sent a simple greeting my way.
And yet, I can be so lazy with what I mean to do, and let my good intentions slumber. When I finally worked my way around to send a note of thanks to Lisa, I felt this rush of feeling about all of it, the outpourings, the gratitude, the gifts, the praise, all that we’ve been heaped with in the past 18 months. I first wrote her the following, which sounded a lot more like a message for all the adults who are part of this great American embrace of her men and women in uniform.
(I sent Lisa a much simpler, less adult, and perhaps less political note of thanks, based on some very wise feedback from Mrs. Dadmanly. But I send along this note of thanks to everyone else, because it really speaks about all of you, as well.)
I was very surprised and pleased with the card you sent along for my welcome home from my employer. At the same time I received your card, I also received a very nice letter from our company President. Do you know something? As nice as it was to get a letter from the President, it meant ever so much more to receive your very nice message. Thank you very much!
Your Mom must be very proud of you. I don’t think very many young women your age are as attentive and concerned about our service men and women overseas.
Lauren, even if I am the first soldier to write you, you need to know what a wonderful blessing you give to a soldier so far from home with every note or card you send. It is hard being away from home, but something that definitely makes it easier are the lovely cards and letters we get from so many wonderful people at home. There are sometimes so many, that we don’t have much time to answer each and every one.
Don’t worry, though. You are part of a tremendous outpouring of love and support, and we who are in harm’s way are reminded with each letter, what a great country we serve and what a proud and heroic people are our fellow Americans. Know for sure that by your efforts, you help boost the spirits and lift the hearts of all the lives you touch with your kindness.
And something more. No matter what you hear, no matter how much anger and upset are a part of what people say about Iraq, the men and women who serve in the armed forces don’t make the decisions about where they go or what they do. They follow orders, they serve, they do their jobs, they say goodbye to their families for a time, and they put their lives on the line for their nation and its people. Good people like you and your Mom.
They do this because, even if it’s hard sometimes to understand the why, they want a world where people can be free, and safe, and not have to worry about dangers that are real or bad people who do wrong things to get what they want. We don’t always know how we’ll be asked to serve, or what will happen, but we know that freedom isn’t free and that we all need to do our part to help preserve the greatest country on earth. You are a very important part of that effort, too.
God bless you and your family,
P.S. If you or your classmates are ever looking for additional ways to help our soldiers, I encourage you to ask your Mom to check out Soldiers’ Angels, a non-profit organization that has sprung up to provide a clearinghouse for supporting our soldiers. They can be found online at http://soldiersangels.com/.
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