Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Which Democrat to swoon for?

American Digest tickles my funny bone and my angst with a view of the Democratic field:

Hillary's like the weird ex-spouse who wants back into your world 8 years after the crackup; her phobias only exacerbated by age. You don't wish her ill, but you don't want to ever let her have another hour of power over your life. A Clinton? Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt.

At least Obama's fresh. At least he's good looking. At least he pulls at the heart strings. At least he looks and sounds and dresses like a leader even if where he will lead is not at all clear. For Obama the road ahead leads to the sunny highlands, leads to, as Matthew Arnold wrote, a

"world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new."

That's the promise and in politics, as in Dr. Johnson's estimate of advertising, 'promise, LARGE promise" is the soul of it.

The common criticism of Obama is that he "doesn't really say anything concrete;" that he has "no clear policies." True enough, but the only honest answer to that is....

" So WHAT?"

That's right. The good old American answer we have not heard nearly enough of in the last few decades....

"So WHAT?"

Read the whole awesome thing.

And then read the adjacent essay on propaganda artists at work in the Presidential race.

God, we live in a weird country. So much privilege, wealth, and freedom; so much flawed human nature running wild, protected from dire consequences only by the foresight of our Founding Fathers and the heroism of brave men and women who understand duty, discipline, and sacrifice.


Settling on Romney

As Neal Boortz says, "the presidential beauty contest has been pretty much narrowed down to Clinton, Obama, Romney and McCain. There is only one conservative in the bunch, and that would be Mitt Romney."

I happened to watch the Republican Presidential candidates' debate last night. If you didn't, Michelle Malkin pretty much sums up my reactions. McCain came across as the flip-flopping (think shamnesty), disingenuous "jerk" he is; as Michelle says, and as was evident last night, Romney has much more class. I think Romney persuaded me last night that he does deserve my vote, despite his flaws (as all of the candidates are flawed, in my book). But some people think it's better to vote for a conniving, dirty-fighting, two-faced cheater for President than an honest, perhaps too-trusting, businessman. Maybe they're right, but I've had enough of people who will say anything to get elected, and I won't start supporting them now.

UPDATE: Protein Wisdom puts a thumb on the gist of the matter for conservatives like me: "Unlike Romney, McCain has built his political fortune on kicking people right of center in the teeth." (Via Ace.) McCain, "Mr. No Earmarks," is also taking $5,812,197.35 in Federal matching funds for his election campaign straight from the taxpayers. None of the other remaining Republican candidates are taking any such subsidies from the taxpayers.

So I know who I am going to vote for in the Republican primary of my state.

I also know who I would vote for in November, if it came to this:

I take McCain at his word that—once chastised on immigration—he will close the border. Ending illegal immigration, restoring fiscal sanity, cutting spending, and insisting on victory in the war are the essential issues, and on all he is far preferable to Hillary. There really is a difference between “suspension of disbelief” and “no substitute for victory.” That is why a number of conservatives have and will continue to hold their noses and endorse McCain.

UPDATE: Mark Levin (via Instapundit) says: "The only one left standing who can honestly be said to share most of our conservative principles is Mitt Romney. I say this as someone who has not been an active Romney supporter. If conservatives don’t unite behind Romney at this stage, and become vocal in their support for him, then they will get McCain as their Republican nominee and probably a Democrat president. And in either case, we will have a deeply flawed president."

Read the whole thing.

And here's more thoughts about my real favorite candidate, the one who said: "I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them."

UPDATE: "Why I'll Vote for Romney" (and not McCain). Sums up my reasons for casting my early ballot for Romney.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's zen meditation

Consider this paradoxical question:

Why do Americans of the Left who, citing moral principles, abhor the human rights violations of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, to the point of using such examples as a rallying point for indicting America itself and pulling out of a war--

Why do Americans of the Left who decry (to the point of calling for the impeachment of a President and Vice-President) the invasion of privacy and erosion of Constitutionally protected rights supposedly brought on by the Patriot Act--

Why do they then call for, approve of, and embrace social programs and mandated health care programs nowhere contained in or supported by the Constitution that reduce the freedoms, invade the privacy, and increase the intrusive nose of government for themselves and their fellow Americans? Is it because coercion masquerading as charity (decided by whom? and involuntarily paid for by whom?) makes the violation of human and Constitutional rights okay?

If it is wrong to coerce prisoners of war, and wrong to wiretap U.S. citizens' phone calls, why isn't it wrong and an invasion of privacy and Constitutional rights to force the purchase of health insurance and force employers to provide it? ("Is John Edwards going to criminalize your choice to opt out of health care insurance?") Why isn't it wrong to become a monopolistic dispenser of health care?

For the first time, the word "no" would come into our system. Do you need open heart surgery? Are you a poor risk because of smoking or diabetes or age? No longer would the bureaucrat at the other end of the phone say "we won't pay for it" or "you don't need it" or "we can't fit you in at our facility." The answer would simply be no — even if you pay for it yourself, you may not have one. It is this type of coercion that drives Canadians over the border to the U.S. in search of medical options denied them at home under their socialized medical structure. Now it would operate on both sides of the border.

Talk among yourselves.


"If you listen to recent Democratic presidential debates, it is clear that American attitudes toward economic liberty are being Canadianized"

So Mark Steyn asks the logical question: "Is Canada's Economy a Model of America?" And is post-war Canadian history really "summed up by the old Monty Python song that goes, “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK”?

If you go back to 1945, the Royal Canadian Navy had the world’s third largest surface fleet, the Royal Canadian Air Force was one of the world’s most effective air forces, and Canadian troops got the toughest beach on D-Day. But in the space of two generations, a bunch of tough hombres were transformed into a thoroughly feminized culture that prioritizes all the secondary impulses of society—welfare entitlements from cradle to grave—over all the primary ones. And in that, Canada is obviously not alone. If the O’Sullivan thesis is flawed, it’s only because the lumberjack song could stand as the post-war history of almost the entire developed world. Today, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much every party in the rest of the Western world are nearly exclusively about those secondary impulses—government health care, government day care, government this, government that. And if you have government health care, you not only annex a huge chunk of the economy, you also destroy a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher, and you make it very difficult ever to change back. Americans don’t always appreciate how far gone down this path the rest of the developed world is....

Read the whole bloody, funny, true thing (and weep).

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Islamic banking"

A 300 million dollar deception?

In the name of Islam, deception and dishonesty is being practised while ordinary Muslims are being made to feel that their interaction with mainstream banks is un-Islamic and sinful. As Mr. Saleem asks, "If Islamic banks label their hamburger a Mecca Burger, as long as it still has the same ingredients as a McDonald's burger, is it really any different in substance?"

Read the whole article (via Michelle Malkin).

UPDATE: "Canadian Muslim Group Sounds Warning on Sharia Banking"


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

If Davy Crockett could figure it out, why can't the Democrats?

Davy Crockett (1786-1836), made famous to current Americans by the 1950's Disney television shows and song featuring him and his legend, served in the U.S. Congress from his home state in Tennesee from 1826 to 1834. It was said that at one time he got up and gave a speech in Congress against a congressional appropriation of money for a Navy widow, soundly defeating an appeal to pity among his fellow Congressmen. It seems Davy Crockett had a little Constitutional quibble with Congress's right to give away any money not their own personal funds for charitable purposes. He had been schooled by then in the Constitution by a farmer he met, who refused to his face to vote for him again, after Crockett had earlier voted in favor of appropriating $20,000 in taxpayer funds for citizens rendered homeless by a fire near Washington, D.C. The farmer had asked him:

"Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity!"

The conversation went on, with Davy Crockett replying:

"Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did."

The answer:
"It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the Government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the Government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right: to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive, what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution." [my bold]

Every time I watch the Democrat candidates (and too many Republicans), especially the millionaires vying for political office, debating and promising to throw out bucketfuls of the people's money for their own pet charitable causes and favored special interests--even good charitable causes and good special interests, that they could easily donate their own and their friends' and their fundraisers' millions to--I remember that even clodhoppers and backwoodsmen once understood the principles this country was founded upon, which seem to escape our best and brightest. And I marvel at those long-ago days when ploughboys and hillbillies had the understanding and the guts to stand up for Constitutional principles in the face of ignorant do-goodism and craven political pandering. As Crockett said, most politicians, until they learn better, are happy to be charitable with other people's money: "Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people." Crockett challenged his fellow Congressmen to donate their own money to the Navy widow; none of them took him up on it.

Crockett was eventually defeated in an attempted re-election, and saying "you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas," he ended up at the Alamo and bravely gave his life in a final sacrifice for the freedom and independence of the Texans.

I can understand his sentiments in leaving Washington, and I venerate his character expressed by his lifetime of truly charitable deeds and service.

Where are such heroes in Washington today?

Michelle Malkin also featured this poignant reminder of Crockett's speech, in connection with politicians quick to offer handouts to people who've made bad choices in the sub-prime mortgage market.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Important revelations about Hillarycare and Hillary

Betsy gives one of the best, most concise sum-ups of the Clinton library's release of paperwork on Hillary Clinton's task force on (universal) health care:

So they had a plan that they weren't quite sure would actually work but they were contemplating making personal attacks on leaders of interest groups who dared to oppose them. And Jay Rockefeller knew exactly what the relationship was between the media and the Clinton administration. The media “are anxious and willing to receive guidance (from the Clinton administration) on how to time and shape the (news) coverage.” I remember that rollout of her plan and how she appeared on all the morning news program and testified before Congress and got lovely coverage. And then conservatives launched what became an ultimately successful campaign exposing all the weaknesses in her plan and were able to bypass the MSM. Remember Harry and Louise? And ultimately, despite all the Clinton strategizing, the Democratic Congress didn't even bring it up for a vote.

This is the same woman now running for President. Do you think she will be answering any questions about this? Do you think the media will be asking any?

How stupid are the voters of this country anyway? And how eager is the media to keep them that way? Do the majority of Americans want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? We will find out in November.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fred Thompson in South Carolina

It's anybody's guess how Fred will fare in today's Republican primary in South Carolina. Byron York (via Instapundit) quotes Fred's most recent speech in that state, which highlights exactly why I hope he wins there so I will have the chance to cast my vote for Thompson in my own state primary on Super Tuesday:

“The Founding Fathers had it right from the very beginning,” Thompson said. “The wisdom of the ages, the fact that our basic rights come from God and not from government, the notion that a government big enough and powerful enough to give you anything is big enough and powerful enough to take anything away from you…respect for the rule of law…the institution of the market economy…[the belief] that if a person earned a dollar, that dollar belonged in the person’s pocket…” Those should be our guiding principles, he said.

“We’re having a little discussion in the party nowadays about what that means for the future,” Thompson told the crowd. “Some people think we need to get away from the Reagan coalition, because it doesn’t exist any more.” The audience erupted into boos. “Some people seem to think that we need to be a little bit more what they called progressive…Well, I reject that concept with every fiber of my being.”

After walking through a few issues — “a nation that cannot secure its own borders will not remain a sovereign nation”; “our principles mean that we don’t let a federal government that can’t even chew gum and tie its own shoelaces half the time take over our health-care system”; “the security of our people underlies everything else” — Thompson hit again on the main argument for his candidacy: Unlike some other candidates, he’s always been a conservative, and he always will be. “I’ve always been there,” he said, “I’m proud of my record, what you see is what you get, where I was yesterday, I am today, is where I’ll be tomorrow. I wear no man’s collar, and I’ve never been accused of changing my political opinion about something because of a political consideration.”

I also agree with Powerline's evaluation of how conservative voters feel about the field of Republican candidates--that's how I feel:

A consideration of the extent of the damage any one of the leading candidates might do to the conservative movement and to the Republican Party as its partisan level lies beyond the scope of Kristol's editorial. This is a factor that conservatives rightly take into account in viewing the field, especially in the aftermath of the damage done by the Bush administration and the late Republican Congress to the idea of limited government. None of the leading Republican candidates harkens to constitutional principles in addressing the issues before us, but some are worse than others on this score.

and I agree with this too:

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson continue to trail by considerable margins. Thompson's support has increased, but there's no hard evidence that the increase has been dramatic. In fact, according to the polls the combined support for Thompson and Romney does not exceed McCain's number. If the two candidates running as traditional, across-the-board conservatives can't do appreciably better than this in South Carolina, the result will constitute an even more resounding rejection than has already occurred in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Even if real limited-government, free-market, individual-rights conservatism can't win a viable base in this country any longer, I hope I will get the chance to register my vote for it by voting for Fred Thompson before it goes down for good.

Meanwhile, it is obvious to me, in watching the media's political coverage that almost always slights or excludes Fred Thompson, that we won't know for certain how he's really doing with the "conservative" South Carolina citizens until the voting is over and the votes are counted. Nor will we know until later tonight, what they think of Rev. Huckabee or the media's darling, Senator McCain.

UPDATE: Now that Fred Thompson has pulled out of the Presidential race, Carl Cameron tells the backstory (via Maggie's Farm). Seems to me that the pro-military, anti-amnesty, fiscally conservative, small-government, individual rights, laissez-faire conservatives are really hungry for a candidate who actually agrees with them. And there he goes.

UPDATE: I agree with Betsy. Goodbye to Fred; now who's next? For me, the top contenders for my vote are Romney and Giuliani, but I have plenty of time to see how things develop before I decide. But one thing's certain: "None of this staying home in a snit for me."

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Has it really been 10 years since Monica Lewinsky became an elementary school name?

I'd say "household name," but we didn't talk about her much in front of our kids, who were little at the time the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal broke. I began turning off the television news when our kids were around. Unfortunately, kids (and adults) everywhere else were talking about her, and about our President acting like an animal and then lying about it, and then being impeached, etc., etc., ad nauseum. The whole long national nightmare. Has it really been ten years already?

That was the year I realized the quote-unquote "mainstream media" had to, and was, reporting on national "news" in such prurient detail that it outstripped the National Enquirer as being unsuitable fare to allow into our home for my young children to see. It was the beginning of the end of my getting my daily news fix from the local metropolitan rag, and from evening network news. It was the beginning of the Drudge Report (as Ace sums up) and the blogosphere, and unhinged Liberals and "right-wing conspiracy" theories.

My kids are older now, we can talk about these things. I am starting to watch "Fox News" with Brit Hume in the family room in the evenings now, to get them back into a habit of being current on national and world events. But oh, how those ten years have changed things. And all things considered, not for the better.

I still rank Bill Clinton as next to Richard Nixon as the two Presidents most hurtful and damaging to the nation's international prestige and self-image in my lifetime. Except that at least Nixon had enough inate class (and enough moral ballast, despite his "crook" tendencies) to know when to resign for the good of the country. The Clintons wouldn't know class if it bit them, and in a fight between themselves and the country, always choose themselves. We are still reaping the noxious whirlwind that is Bill Clinton's (and Hillary Clinton's) legacy of tenacious antisocial pathology funneled into politics.

UPDATE: Anniversary retrospectives at Slate and The Wall Street Journal (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: Steve Boriss sez: "The Monica Lewinsky affair is a root cause of the recent, dramatic losses in Old Media audiences, and a key reason they may never reemerge as leading New Media brands." Didn't I just say that?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Today's links

Christopher Hitchens pens "The Case Against Hillary Clinton," which is excellently argued as well as acerbicly witty (via Instapundit). Just one taste:

What do you have to forget or overlook in order to desire that this dysfunctional clan once more occupies the White House and is again in a position to rent the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors and to employ the Oval Office as a massage parlor? You have to be able to forget, first, what happened to those who complained, or who told the truth, last time. It's often said, by people trying to show how grown-up and unshocked they are, that all Clinton did to get himself impeached was lie about sex. That's not really true. What he actually lied about, in the perjury that also got him disbarred, was the women. And what this involved was a steady campaign of defamation, backed up by private dicks (you should excuse the expression) and salaried government employees, against women who I believe were telling the truth. In my opinion, Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth; so was Monica Lewinsky, and so was Kathleen Willey, and so, lest we forget, was Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says she was raped by Bill Clinton. (For the full background on this, see the chapter "Is There a Rapist in the Oval Office?" in the paperback version of my book No One Left To Lie To. This essay, I may modestly say, has never been challenged by anybody in the fabled Clinton "rapid response" team.) Yet one constantly reads that both Clintons, including the female who helped intensify the slanders against her mistreated sisters, are excellent on women's "issues."

Victor Davis Hanson continues to drop his perfect descriptions along the campaign trail:

Bill will do his dadburn negative part. But he’s so narcissistic that his stump speeches usually end in angry riffs on himself. They’d be better to confine him to a boardroom rolodex, and let him work the zillionaires for money in the fashion he did with his library....

The 90’s Clinton rat pack will return, but they have a problem with Obama—how to destroy him without appearing racist or condescending, a sort of destroy the village to save it dilemma....

I think Edwards is getting tired of the new personna. He is a very glib and smart guy, so hides it well. But in the end he doesn’t seem comfortable with his false-populist role. It means constant blue-jeanning and talking up his mill roots, when his natural inclination is to go into his mansion and hit one of the fifty remotes, or get back into the tie and suit circuit, or hang with guys in the hedge-funds or big law firms, or pick up 20K here, 40K there for giving a speech. A guy who has those multi-hundred dollar haircuts simply can’t plop down like most into a barber’s waiting chair, pay $15, listen to gossip, and get out with a good enough lopsided cut....

And no one believes that trial—especially personal injury—lawyers in mansions are populists. I’ve dealt with a few the last thirty years, and, to indulge in stereotypes, they are the most cynical in the world—fine to have a cigar and drink with, and entertain you with stories of courtroom antics, but their business precludes taking ideology very seriously, since the client is always right, especially the one who pays off the most....

Read the whole thing, including his take on the Republican candidates.

Walter Williams writes about California's energy Nazis "testing how much intrusiveness Californians will peaceably accept" (probably a lot, since the independent-minded folks are leaving the state):

Say you're preparing a big dinner. The energy czar might decide that you don't need so much heat in the rest of the house. Or, preparing a big dinner might mean the energy czar would turn off the energy to your washing machine and dryer while the electric stove is on.

There's no end to what the energy czar could do, particularly if he enlists the aid of California's Department of Health Services. Getting six to eight hours sleep each night is healthy; good health lowers health costs. So why not make it possible for the energy czar to turn the lights off at a certain hour? California's Department of Education knows children should do their homework after school rather than sit playing video games or watching television. The energy czar could improve education outcomes simply by turning off the television, or at least turning off all non-educational programs. Of course, there could be a generous provision whereby if an adult is present, he could use a password to operate the television.

Or not. California's energy Nazis and all the rest of the "progressives" who think they know best what other people should do would not hesitate to use government power to limit what adults could watch--or do--either.

It makes them feel so needed and useful.

At least it's still not a crime to do this (via Neal Boortz).

Finally, for my son, who owns a top hat and who has long pined for a smart frock coat, this dizzying blog, (I especially enjoy the paens to Fred Astaire) (via Maggie's Farm).

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm endorsing Fred Thompson

And my 80-year-old mother's voting for him, too.

Seems to be a Fred Surge going on (via Instapundit). Yippee! I might actually be able to vote for someone who reflects my values and philosophies. I've added his icon to my sidebar.

Revisiting Fred (a look back to John Fund's interview of Fred Thompson last March).

Learn more about Fred.

Is it too late for Fred Thompson to possibly win the Republican nomination--or the Presidency? Or is this just more ignorant mush gushing from the mouths of pundits, media "experts" and pollsters who get it wrong? Can a man as laid-back (or reticent) as George Washington was about being President ever become President in this day and age? And really how laid-back is Fred, and how ignored has he been by the media?

Besides agreeing with most of what Fred Thompson stands for, I would love to prove the pundits, pollsters, and mainstream media mouthpieces wrong one more time...

Let's give it a shot. I'm voting my convictions.

UPDATE: Eric Klien is optimistic (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: Another endorsement of Fred as the only conservative to vote for and a more depressing, wider view from Jonah Goldberg.

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Amen, Sister

Betsy says, "Sometimes my gender appalls me" -- and she's speaking of Hillary Clinton, who was evidently attempting to speak for all women when she said:

"Maybe I have liberated us to actually let women be human beings in public life."

Betsy's right: "Yup, I owe my liberation to that moment on Monday. I feel so liberated. Yech."

Other women can also think for themselves beyond the "inevitability attitude."

And here are some other so-called feminists at Ms magazine who appall me:

According to the press release, the powers-that-be at Ms. provided advice on the kind of ad that might pass muster with them:
A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher's office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine "would love to have an ad from you on women's empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this." Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what "this" is.

Fortunately self-styled feminist "leaders," "spokeswomen," and "arbiters" like these have little to do with real womanhood, real sisterhood--or real brains.

I'd like to hear some real women candidates and leaders talking about this, this, and this, when it comes to liberating women and letting them be human beings in public life. These realities make Hillary and Ms-style feminists look as ridiculous, unserious, marginalized, and ultimately irrelevant as they are, not only in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of other American men and women.

UPDATE: Bookworm's appalled too:

I have been incredibly embarrassed by the fact that so many women (a) are voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman and (b) were more likely to vote for her because she cried. It makes me want to hand in my gender identity card. Are women really so stupid that they can’t rise above their self-involved narcissism and look at the candidates’ actual qualities — his or her experiences, policy beliefs, abilities, etc? Apparently they are. It’s just humiliating to share the same chromosomes with these females....

I also liked this dichotomy she highlights which I think is absolutely accurate:

To people on the Left, blacks are nothing more than black — it is the prism through which everything is filtered. Women are solely women, although it becomes problematic when women also happen to be black. Gays are defined by their sexuality, and nothing more (which is why, once they’ve figured out their sexuality, it becomes imperative to teach them how to live like good little gays). Once you’re gay or black or female, you can never again be a doctor or a lawyer or a truck driver or a manager. You are a gay lawyer, or a female truck driver, or a black manager. So what are you to do, as a good liberal, when you’ve got two oppressed people vying for the Presidency?

On the Right, we ask what is their experience? What are their skills? What policies do they advocate? Are they effective people? Are they reasonably honest? Will they advance American interests in security and economic matters? Who are their associates? On the Left they ask, is he black enough? Is she female enough? Is he black but the wrong type of black (Sidney Poitier instead of Malcolm X or Martin Luther King)? Is she female, but not sufficiently in touch with her femininity? Interesting questions all to the racist or feminist, BUT WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNING THE COUNTY?

I urge you to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon supplies the back story of the Ms magazine stink.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The case for Fred Thompson

After watching last night's debate, the first such debate among this crop of Republican candidates I've watched in toto, I find myself in agreement with Human Events when they endorse Fred Thompson, "as someone who has a strong commitment to limited government, free enterprise and federalist principles."

May the conservatives of South Carolina and other states step up to the plate and vote their convictions so that the rest of us will have a chance to do the same on Super Tuesday.

Via Instapundit, who also points out these two zingers:

Meanwhile, a lame response from Huckabee -- in response to being asked about raising taxes: "I raised hope." Who knew hope could be so expensive? . . .

Earlier, Ron Paul said he defended Israel's strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor. Nice that he supports Israel's defending itself with preemptive attacks. Too bad he doesn't support the same thing for the United States . . . .

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Okay, now they've got my attention

I will finally (for the first time) be purposely tuning in to watch the GOP Presidential candidates debate tonight (this time it's in South Carolina, on Fox News, at 9 p.m. Eastern). I haven't paid that much attention before, but now it's 2008, the Presidential election year has begun, and I am interested in seeing for myself how each of the candidates responds to some real questions, so I will know how to cast my vote on Super Tuesday.

Michelle Malkin poses some real questions, and I hope the Fox News people will pick up on her suggestions. What a service Fox News can provide if it really will sponsor, mediate, and produce some real, substantive debate. I don't want and can't stomach any more fluff and rhetoric (that's why I don't watch the Democrats debate; they deal only in platitudes about "hope" and "change," and "corporate greed," etc.). I want to listen to people not afraid to field tough questioning and take stands on specific issues, ideas, and policies.

I don't know yet who I will cast my vote for. At various points I have felt swayed by various factors in favor of, or against, all of them. At this point I can rule out ever voting for Huckabee or Paul. And at this point I consider McCain to be a good man, but also essentially a pro-war Democrat, in everything but name. My dilemma is, do I vote for Fred Thompson as representing the conservative, free-market policies and ideas I most agree with, or do I "vote defensively" for Romney, Guiliani, or McCain, whom I trust less, but who may have a better chance at winning the nomination? Or are the polls and the media's focus misleading us yet again, and masking (and depressing) an unnoticed groundswell for Fred?

Is it worth voting for someone who looks like a probable loser just to send a message? Would anybody hear the message if I did?

And why is the surest conservative a loser in this race?

And should I worry about voting "strategically"--with an eye toward who might most easily win against the Democrat candidate in November? If so, how does one forecast the best "strategic" candidate?

Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Of course, for Fred Thompson it seems to be "do or die" in South Carolina. If the Republicans there don't respond to his call, I won't have the chance to vote for him on Super Tuesday.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Brits living higher but want to leave

According to an article in the Sunday London Times (via Drudge), the standard of living in the U.K. has now surpassed that of the U.S.:

LIVING standards in Britain are set to rise above those in America for the first time since the 19th century, according to a report by the respected Oxford Economics consultancy.

The calculations suggest that, measured by gross domestic product per capita, Britain can now hold its head up high in the economic stakes after more than a century of playing second fiddle to the Americans.

It says that GDP per head in Britain will be £23,500 this year, compared with £23,250 in America, reflecting not only the strength of the pound against the dollar but also the UK economy’s record run of growth and rising incomes going back to the early 1990s....

Thatcher economic privatization policies at work, perhaps. But then there are the caveats:

The Oxford analysts also point out that Americans benefit [more] from lower prices than those in Britain. With an adjustment made for this “purchasing power parity”, the average American has more spending power than his UK counterpart and pays lower taxes. (In the run-up to Christmas many Britons travelled to New York and other American cities to take advantage of the strength of sterling against the dollar and those lower prices.)

However, the British typically have significantly longer holidays than Americans as well as access to “free” healthcare.

The figures may be of small comfort to Britons worried about house prices and facing a severe squeeze on their incomes this year as a result of record petrol prices and rising energy bills.

It all depends on how you tout up "income." Evidently lower taxes, etc. do not enter into the equation in this article. Personally, I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for the U.K.'s scandalously inadequate and rationed "free health care." I wouldn't be surprised if some of those British Christmas shoppers weren't stopping in for a little Manhattan surgery while on U.S. soil. Can't blame them, either.

Plus, that's a significant gap in purchasing power parity, when it is more cost-effective for Brits to fly to New York and buy Christmas gifts (including the costs of the air fare) than it is to buy them at home! As one economist I know points out, the recent weakness of the dollar has something to do with this. And eventually, such buying opportunities for foreigners will push the value of the dollar back up.

Meanwhile, Cal Thomas points out that that all is not happy in the United Kingdom, despite the supposedly rising average income:

A poll conducted by the respected YouGov organization and published in the Dec. 30 London Times found that more than half of all men and four in 10 women said they would rather live abroad if given the choice. The main reasons are antisocial behavior among a growing underclass and immigration. The "state of the nation" poll of more than 1,500 people found that concerns about immigration topped the list of issues of six out of 10 of those questioned. Among self-identified Conservative voters, three-quarters consider immigration among their top concerns.

Wish I could welcome all those Brits who want to "live abroad" here in the U.S., in the spirit of "Give me your tired, your poor," etc. But U.S. immigration policies for legal immigrants have gotten much tighter and more complicated here since 9/11, with evidently no reforms expected any time soon from Congress. Too bad, because we could always use more citizens (especially English-speaking ones) fully appreciative of and contributing to our unique culture, our advantages, and our liberties.

And I love to hear a Scottish or Irish brogue. Maybe some of these would-be refugees could try the Craig Ferguson technique for gathering U.S. citizenship.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What we've been watching over Christmas-New Year's break

The Adventures of TinTin, Vols. 1-5. My son and husband are big fans of the retro-stylish French boy-adventurer. These cartoon episodes, which aired on Nickelodeon circa 1995, are well done. They are watching the French-Canadian language version, with English subtitles, just to be snooty!

Popeye the Sailer, 1933-1938. Says one reviewer at Amazon:
This is it, Popeye cartoon fans! We have dreamed about it, wished for it, and hoped for it. Warner Brothers Video, by arrangement with King Features Syndicate, is issuing here the first 60 ORIGINAL Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons. Wonderful! These fantastic cartoons are being released in chronological order of their theatrical release, FULLY RESTORED from the original negatives in beautiful black and white, UNCUT, with all Paramount titles restored. ...
The bonus "Popumentaries" and early experimental animations "From the Vault" are of excellent quality. The cartoons are of excellent, stirling, and stirring quality. Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl reseen through these refreshening and appreciative DVDs are amazing, bizarre, and funnier than ever.

Leave It To Beaver, The Complete First Season (1957). Wally and the Beave have never been cuter or funnier; Ward and June have never been nicer parents. Yuks for both kids and grownups watching these old episodes which have aged surprisingly well and still entertain.

Tokyo Mew Mew. My daughter watches these animated manga episodes in Japanese, with English subtitles, on YouTube.

Mystery Science Theater 3000. We've seen "The Wild Rebels (1967)," most recently, thanks to Netflix, over Christmas break, but we like almost all of the MST3K episodes, especially the Joel seasons. We also highly recommend "I Accuse My Parents (1945)" and "Manos Hands of Fate (1988)" as just two of many that have made us laugh ourselves right off the sofa.

Star Trek: The Original Series. We are working our way through the early episodes. Those women's skirts were just too darn short! But Hilarity Ensues as William Shatner chews the scenery.

The Twilight Zone. Adventures in early television history. A few of these go a long way, but my kids are semi-fascinated by how weird this television show used to be.

West Side Story. Love the music. We now sing the songs anytime we go somewhere in the car. My daughter burst into tears at the end of this movie because the Romeo and Juliet story was "so sad!"

A Christmas Story. Always makes three generations of our family laugh. I love how the visual/literary "nostalgia" of this movie combines stuff from my Mom's childhood (cast-iron stoves, coal furnaces, Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Rings) and stuff from my childhood (cowboy air rifles, department store windows and Santas) and even a weird 1970's-era lamp in one big funny bundle. Jean Shepherd was a genius.

My daughter and I wiled away New Year's Eve watching the delightful Gay Divorcee (1934) and Shall We Dance (1937) on Turner Classic Movies, while my son watched old episodes of The X-Files on DVD and The Office on (and my husband, giving in to a seasonal flu bug, went to bed).

One thing's for sure: 2008 will be another year filled with screens and pixelated entertainment.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Federal do-gooders stick noses into light sockets, electrocute citizens

--and every ordinary U.S. man, woman, and child will have to pay the bill.

Brian Carney writes the obituary for Edison's incandescent light bulb:

Just like that--like flipping a switch--Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

The new rules phase in starting in 2012, but don't be lulled by that five-year delay. Whether it's next week or next decade, you will one day walk into a hardware store looking for a 100-watt bulb--and there won't be any. By 2014, the new efficiency standards will apply to 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs too....

Read the whole story (via Betsy, who shares my dismay at the high-handed, over-reaching interference in free-market forces displayed by our elected representatives). I don't think the power to legislate what showerheads, toilets, or light bulbs U.S. citizens are allowed to buy lies within the U.S. Constitution, although it was certainly something no Soviet Five-Year-Planner would ever back away from.

And where will they stop? What next will they be telling us that we can't--or have to--buy? And based on--what evidence? Or which industry's special-interest lobbying efforts?

Rush Limbaugh had this to say on his radio show recently:

I'll tell you what makes me mad about this. The government is taking away the need or drive for companies to produce products that are so good that people want to buy them -- you know, capitalism? What instead now is going on, is the government telling us what products we have to use, what products we have to buy, and what products we can't because they're not going to be available. Not even a peep! Nobody said a word....How long have we been using the incandescent lightbulb? When did Edison invent the incandescent lightbulb, in the 1800s, right? We've been using the incandescent lightbulb over a hundred years. Will somebody tell me how much the temperature went up in the world because of incandescent lightbulbs? Zilch, zero, nada! In fact, I have from our official climatologist, Dr. Roy Spencer, the latest globally averaged satellite temperatures, and I hate to tell you that the globally average temperature of the planet has not warmed in six years, and it is still well below 1998....

Not only is the government's mandating what appliances and technology private citizens can and can't buy (and what products companies can and can't produce) a raw deal in itself, but unfortunately, we won't know for quite some time how much the real "balance due" for this environmental do-goodism will amount to. This is the scariest part of the tale, because since it's the Feds doing the do-gooding at the force of a gun, in an area of a relatively new and untested technology, we can expect the bill for unforeseen damages to amount to much more than what the silly legislators who passed the law will ever consider (or admit).

Bookworm Room brings up the unexamined, unintended consequences of the new Federal mandate outlawing incandescent light bulbs in the U.S. Health issues (the flickering of the new bulbs causes migraines and seizures in some people) and environmental issues (mercury in the watershed from improperly recycled bulbs) are two of the most sobering questions in my mind. The quality of the light from the bulbs and the danger of mercury contamination in my home or around my children also bother me. I have already written about this here. And I have yet to hear any legislator ever talk about the Peltzman Effect.

Last year, when we heard the favorable buzz about compact fluorescent bulbs, we bought a couple and brought them home. They didn't fit in our overhead light fixtures. Our house has 32 interior light bulb sockets where the compact fluorescent swirly bulbs will not fit. Who's going to pay for putting new light fixtures in our home at, say, an average of $50 per fixture and $30 labor each? We can pay this extortion, but what about the people who can't?

I can't say if the whole process will ultimately be more energy efficient, but I can start to understand what special interests might have been eager to see this bill passed.

And who will be paying me for the extra gasoline I use in hauling the mercury-laden light bulbs to the recycling center? Or should I, along with some unknown portion of the 303,000,000 people in this country, just toss them in the trash (no one will ever catch on, unless the bulbs break and somebody inhales the mercury--or years later, ingests the mercury-laden water).

Congress and President Bush--why have you gone beyond the confines of your bully pulpits to stick your Federally unfunded mandating noses into something you will only make worse? Especially when the free market can come up with more timely, better solutions on its own, properly vetted for all such environmental and health considerations, by letting the most useful solutions flourish and the most stupid ideas fail.

Should-be required reading for all legislators: Nobody knows how to make a pencil.

Reactions to last night's Republican debate

I didn't watch it, but can read the reactions of others who did. Betsy points out a telling moment (telling to me, anyway):

8:01 Score one for Romney. John McCain started a rant on the pharmaceutical companies and how they're overcharging Medicaid and how we should reimport drugs from Canada. And Romney jumped in and said "Don't make the drug companies the bad guys." McCain said "Well, they are the bad guys." And Romney said basically that the drug companies are doing important work in the free market. McCain sounds like Hillary Clinton with his attacks on the drug companies. It is one more piece of evidence that McCain isn't at in his heart a free market conservative. Perhaps with his wife suffering from MS, Romney has more concern for allowing pharmaceutical companies to do research into new drugs. Without the profit incentive, why would they continue to do that research?

Another moment of remembering why I really don't ever want to have to vote for McCain. He doesn't understand the power of the free market, and he obviously doesn't understand the sanctity of free speech, having never repudiated McCain-Feingold.

Powerline offers a nice post mortem of the debate, and shares my overall view that we are faced on the Republican side with a relative raft of relatively good choices, while the Democrats seem to be nanny-statist, antiwar, appeasement Johnny one-notes.

Michelle Malkin was liveblogging:

Thompson succinctly shoots down oil company demagoguery from WMUR anchor. What about their profits? Fred: I take note of their profits. I take note of their losses. It’s supply and demand.

Thank-you, Fred, for offering Econ 101 for an ignorant nation--it's an uphill battle.

Then the candidates disagreed with Ron Paul's anti-war, isolationist stance:

Romney: Unfortunately, Ron, you need an understanding of radical Islam. The president is not arrogant. He’s acted to keep America safe. He did the right thing responding to the attack.

Thompson: This is a different world. Preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances. We should only go in where we should and where we’re able to.

Giuliani: Ron’s analysis is really seriously flawed. The idea that we got attacked because of our foreign policy? It’s because of what they’ve done. Refers to returning money from Saudi prince. If you bother to listen to what they say, it comes out of their own perverted thinking.

Paul. Try to visualize how they would react if they did this to us.

Romney: I read their writings. Cites Sayyid Qutb.

Paul: We were occupying…

Huckabee: Takes heat off of Paul. Attacks Romney for criticizing his use of “arrogant.” I’m not taking cheap shots at the president. I’m going to be president of the United States on my own terms. Says the policies were arrogant, not the president.

When there is a serious threat to our country…in the heart of the radical Islamic faith, this is a jihadist problem…if you read the writings…Qutb…they are prompted by drive to establish a worldwide caliphate.

Romney: I disagree with Huckabee’s Foreign Affairs article. I did support the surge.

McCain: Did you read mine? [Laughter.]

Giuliani: *Very strong.* Answers Paul’s American occupiers line with attacks on Bali, Leon Klinghoffer, Munich Olympics…

Giuliani, McCain, Thompson, and Romney understand what Islamofascist jihad is all about. That is a must for any candidate to win my vote. I don't think Huckabee is playing in the same league as those other big boys.

Sunday uplift

As we head out to church this morning, I checked several emails sent to me by my daughter. She Googled "cuteness" and found this website: The Cute Project. Check it out for all the "Awwww!"s you can stand.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Books I read in 2007

Just for the record. I like to remind myself that I did accomplish something in 2007.

1. Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing Up in the 1970s by Margaret Sartor

2. A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue by Wendy Shalit

3. Clever Maids: The Secret History of The Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz

4. Bluewater Gold Rush: The Odyssey of a California Sea Urchin Diver by Tom Kendrick

5. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy

6. Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That’s Gone Stark Raving Mad by Rebecca Hagelin

7. Neighbors from Hell? English Attitudes to the Welsh by Mike Parker

8. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

9. Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marriage Age by Kay S. Hymowitz

10. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

11. On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov

12. Somebody’s Gotta Say It by Neal Boortz

13. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

14. A Student’s Guide to U.S. History by Wilfred M. McClay

15. Smokestacks Allegro: The Story of Solvay, a Remarkable Industrial/Immigrant Village (1880-1920) by Rita Cominolli

16. Tiny Dancer: The Incredible True Story of a Young Burn Victim’s Journey from Afghanistan by Anthony Flacco

17. Eminent Victorians (The Illustrated Edition) by Lytton Strachey

18. Moody: A Biological Portrait of the Pacesetter in Modern Mass Evangelism by J.C. Pollock

19. Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus by Dinesh D’Souza

20. Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student by Miriam Grossman, M.D.

21. America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. 1 by William J. Bennett

22. Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century Woman, Caroline Healey Dall by Helen R. Deese, editor

23. One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel Fick

24. Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality by Olaf Gersemann

25. Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders: Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children by Anna C. Salter

26. Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

A few less than last year. But more than in 2005. My stacks (plural) of books waiting to be read are still falling over. It's a wonderful life!


Watching Iowa's vote

I was too busy enjoying home and family life to tune into the non-stop airwave-filling, speculative media blather before the Iowa caucuses. But I tuned into Fox News on TV late that night, around 10 p.m. (while polishing off the last of the Christmas cookies) after the kids and Dreamboat went to bed, to see what the Iowa caucus results were. I watched Hillary and John Edwards and Huckabee give their speeches, then I went to bed.

My reactions:

--glad to see Hillary get the trouncing and rejection she deserves (and amused by how her speech afterwards seemed determinedly unhinged from both authenticity and reality while she spewed the usual tired platitudes);

--amused to see John Edwards the Golden Boy millionaire, standing on a barrel among the downtrodden middle-class dockhands, pledging his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to vanquishing greedy capitalists. How much less ridiculous and more admirable he would be if he used his brains, talents, and money for actually, effectively helping people instead of pushing himself as top kingpin in the Golden Boys Social Club known as the Nanny Government sweet-teat. (It's the mean-spirited and economically-ignorant class warfare he espouses that I really abhor. If he suffers from "liberal guilt" about all of his money that his honorable forebears didn't have, why doesn't he found a school, a scholarship fund, hospital, or foundation, start a policy institute, or eradicate a disease, like other fortunate sons of America have done over the last 200 years, where a free and robust capitalist system makes amassing, investing, and distributing such personal fortunes possible and most effective?)

--surprise and dismay to see Huckabee leading the Republican pack (and his speech afterwards was too long and rambling);

--mystification that Fred Thompson's surprising showing (he of "no fire in the belly," "snoozing" his way through the Iowa campaign) in tying for third place with McCain got scant-to-no mention all evening; the big news angle there seemed to be that McCain appeared at all. Maybe so, news-wise, but as a conservative/libertarian type (not a Republican) I personally would still vote for Fred Thompson (or Duncan Hunter) before I'd vote for John McCain. What's up with that, you Iowa conservatives? As Fred said, “It looks like someone’s gonna have to carry a strong conservative message, and it looks like it’s gonna be me.” (Via Maggie's Farm)

--And it is no surprise the likeable, lightweight Obama has captured the emotional attention of so many likeable, lightweight, leftward-looking voters. That's America for you. Or at least, that's Iowa. For the rest of America, stay tuned.

Mark Steyn does a great, and accurate sum-up of what the Iowa voters wanted, I think (via Jack at Ace of Spades HQ) (read all of both, they're good). Here's just one excerpt, re why "they" voted for Huckabee, and why he isn't a conservative:

There is a potentially huge segment of the population that ... [is]... tired of the artificial and, indeed, creepily coercive secular multiculti pseudo-religion imposed on American grade schools. I'm sympathetic to this pitch myself. Unlike Miss Noonan, I think it's actually connected to the jihad, in the sense that radical Islamism is an opportunist enemy that has arisen in the wake of the Western world's one-way multiculturalism.

In the long run, the relativist mush peddled in our grade schools is a national security threat. But, even in the short term, it's a form of child abuse that cuts off America's next generation from the glories of their inheritance.

Where I part company with Huck's supporters is in believing he's any kind of solution. He's friendlier to the teachers' unions than any other so-called "cultural conservative" – which is why in New Hampshire he's the first Republican to be endorsed by the NEA. His health care pitch is Attack Of The Fifty Foot Nanny, beginning with his nationwide smoking ban. This is, as Jonah Goldberg put it, compassionate conservatism on steroids – big paternalistic government that can only enervate even further "our culture."

So, Iowa chose to reward, on the Democrat side, a proponent of the conventional secular left, and, on the Republican side, a proponent of a new Christian left. If that's the choice, this is going to be a long election year.

I'm afraid so.

Betsy starts getting ready.

Voting "defensively"?

You can also read Peggy Noonan's article, "Out With the Old, In With the New," here.

I like keeping my eye on the Democratic and Republican nominations graphs at the Iowa Electronic Markets website, as well as the Intrade Prediction Markets (based in Ireland).

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A belated Happy New Year (suitable for all ages)

After keeping up this blog for over two years now, I have been AWOL, taking a little Christmas-New Year's vacation from public punditry. In fact, my family and I had planned to be out of town on a road trip, leaving on New Year's Day, but the utter lack of cooperation by the big continental weather systems ultimately discouraged us from leaving home, day by day. Instead, we sat home in warmth and electronics and relaxed instead of gallavanting abroad to brave chilly motel rooms and outdoor hiking and animal-watching in near-snowy conditions (call us wimps, but there you have it). The gators and manatees will still be there if we go to see them in February, I'll bet.

Meanwhile I have been cleaning up around the house, the yard, and my computer after the holidays. Have also started teaching my 16-year-old son how to drive. He can now drive around the biggest local church's empty parking lot, avoiding curbs, in first gear, and I have only screamed "Stop!" once. I think. It's gone better than I expected, and has brought back many fond memories of my Dad teaching me to drive on the stick shift in his 1967 red VW Bug.

Cue "The Circle of Liiiiiiife......"

Speaking of Disney songs, the best mass-media entertainment we enjoyed over the holidays was going to see Disney's latest movie release, the clever and charming, fun and funny "Enchanted." My daughter, age 12, and I saw it for the first time with her friend and her friend's mom; we went a second time with my son, and then on Christmas Day both kids and I felt like seeing it again, and we persuaded my 80-year-old mother to go with us. She was understandably jaded about enjoying any modern movie that would interest her and not offend her "Casablanca"-era movie sensibilities (which I share). She came out of the theater marveling, "Now that's a movie even I liked!" We drove home from the theater singing and humming the tunes--how often nowadays does that happen?! I cannot remember the last time I paid to see a movie in a theater three times. Probably not since my Tiger Beat days of Haley Mills adoration, if ever.

I asked my son why he liked it and he said the obvious: because "it's funny" and "the music is good." My daughter was continually turning to me during the movie, with a big smile on her face. She loved the humor and the big song scenes. Mom and I especially appreciated the fact that the actors were great, and the main protagonists are likeable, attractive, sweet, decent, kind, and good (how surprising in a modern movie!). The "forces of evil" were suitably campy and were defeated or reformed in the end; the self-parodies and referential humor were delightful.

Only two bad notes appeared as "low" so-called comedy and offended me: the dog urinating on the prince's foot, and the chipmunk passing gas--hey, the staples of appealing to kids of all ages, in Hollywood executives' minds. (I was grateful they showed such remarkably high-minded restraint in not throwing in the ever-fashionable belching, spewing, and butt-wiggling.) Someday I'll watch a great modern family movie without any such vulgar, unfunny, gratuitous distractions, and I'll know I've died and gone to heaven.

By the way, am I the only one who's noticed that running the gauntlet of the movie trailers (for coming attractions for kids) before the main feature is like sitting in an unruly Kindergarten held hostage by vulgar little boys and girls enamored of loud noises and their own bodily functions? That's not entertainment to me or to my kids. After the gross "Alvin and the Chipmunks" trailer, my daughter hid her face in her hands and said, "I hate that trailer and I don't want to see that movie." My son was equally offended by it, but said he actually might've gone to see the movie anyway, if only they had cast David Duchovny as Dave. Hmm, maybe me too.

In the meantime, "Enchanted" is definitely entertainment, and an 8-thumbs-up hit for ages 12 to 80 with us. My daughter got the "Enchanted" soundtrack CD with the likeable Alan Menken score and songs for Christmas from her brother. Thanks, Disney, for doing something right.

"Enchanted" at Wikipedia: everything you ever wanted to know and more (includes spoilers)

Check out the parents' ratings and opinions at Kids-in-Mind and Common Sense Media (both sites always include spoilers, because they tell parents everything they want and need to know in advance about how the movie might/will affect their kids). I always check these websites before taking my kids (and my mother!) to the theater.