Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another supermom high-level politician

Meet Minnesota's Michele Bachmann: High-minded and high-heeled, by Zoe Sandvig, Worldmag.com, Oct. 4, 2008 issue.

Bachmann is in the ranks of those who grew up Democrat, but switched.

Cult building 101

I agree with the people who think that this video is creepy. I agree with Bookworm that it reminds me a bit too much of the methods used by totalitarian leaders (not to mention other personality cults through the ages).

It's a shame, because the kids are really talented, especially the little girl who opens and closes. But what sort of parent plunks a child into this kind of leader-worship and applauds and hugs them for doing so well at it? (And are the grown-ups a bit blissed out for you in this video? Or is it just me?)

And why, pray tell, should I vote one way or another based upon the performance of persons too young to know what they're singing about? Why should anybody?

What is it with the Dems this year, with their repeated shift to the playground for spokesmen?

P.S. I shared this with a man I consider very wise, and one of the things he said is that he thought a bunch of those kids are going to look back on this with a great deal of embarrassment. To say the least.

I have to wonder how many of them, years from now, will look back on this project with at least a touch of resentment. I have a number of things in my youth and young adulthood that I've decided were best recanted, or apologized for, or otherwise filed under 'well-meant but ill-founded' - but they were my mistakes, not something my parents got me into. Whatever shortcomings my all-too-human parents had, using me to promote some agenda wasn't one of them, nor did they make the mistake of promoting me to an equal status with adults, when I was too young and ignorant and inexperienced and impressionable to hold my own with adults.

Added: Ed Morrissey says it better than most. And succinctly, too.

I'm with him. Leave the kids out of it, please.

Book note: Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

Uncommon Knowledge on National Review Online has a five segment video interview with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of the Roman Catholic diocese of Denver, discussing "Politics & Catholics," and also his latest book, Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. The segments were published September 22 through 26, 2008.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Friday, September 26, 2008

Book note: Do Hard Things

PalmTree Pundit is also recommending the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. (Some of you know I'm already something of a fan.) In our bookstore, we give this book primo shelf location whenever we can get it in stock (our suppliers are almost always sold out, and it's the sort of book people tend to keep or give away instead of trading in, so we're having trouble getting new or used). See The Rebelution website to follow what teens who adopt this attitude are up to.


Kim Moreland has found an institution dedicated to reviving and supporting the art of making good movies.

Speaking of movies, actor Kirk Cameron is a born again Christian and doesn't think he should kiss any woman other than his wife, even in a screen role - which means the directors of his latest starring role had to get creative during filming. Hey, when you want to do the right thing, there's usually a way to do it...

Have you seen the video from CatholicVote.com pointing out, succinctly and beautifully, that some issues matter more than others? Don't let the Catholic label frighten you off if you're not Catholic. It's for all people with a moral sense, I think.

The gentlemen over at Cafe Hayek don't seem to like the financial bailout plan. You might start at How they think vs. how I think, or Krugman gets the facts wrong, or Some bubble.

Robert at Expat Yank wishes the BBC (not to mention other news outlets) knew the difference between a bank failure and a merger. This is not to mention that he wishes reporters had a clue why laughing at someone's form of worship is not a good idea, historically speaking if nothing else.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Saturday Review of Books...

... is up and growing at Semicolon.

Short listing

Let us say, for the sake of illustration, that you visited a foreign country, and while you were there you saw a man drive his car into a park and start mowing down children. Let us say, for the sake of illustration, that the people around you told you that there was no reason to get upset about it, as long as he only mowed down people beneath a certain height. Let us say that when the cops and ambulances show up you are relieved, until you see the cops and ambulance drivers pull out tape measures, with which they measure all the people who are down. People beneath a certain height they then had thrown into dump trucks to be hauled away, whether they were dead yet or not.

Would you find this acceptable? Would it make you feel better, or worse, that the law was on the side of the driver?

Some people say that this has been the longest presidential campaign in American history. For me, it has been one of the shortest, because the Democrats these days are, officially, on the side of the driver. And I can't vote for anyone who says that individuals can be thrown away simply because they aren't deemed big enough yet.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Where I've been, where I'll be

I should know by now that when someone hands me a hard copy of a book manuscript to edit, that I should declare a blog break, because once I dive into an edit run, I don't tend to come up for air long enough to follow events, much less ponder them, much less take time to write about them. So, back on August 26, when I was handed the hard copies of three books-in-progress, I should have known I'd be essentially offline for a few weeks.

But no. I always think that somehow I will squeeze in time to blog, too. I am, it seems, endowed with more than my share of optimism, or something.

Or perhaps it's just that I've learned that every time I have declared a blog break, I have been assailed by an overwhelming obsession to blog about something...

At any rate, I am trying to polish the first three books in what should be, God willing, a four or five book fictional universe. I have changes made to the first two, and am going through them again to see how well the changes hold up. Then I have to tackle the third book. Expect blogging to be light for a while yet. You, being more organized, and probably younger, and likely more talented than me, could probably manage to blog and edit books at the same time, but I'm not too good at it.

I have also been flattened by allergies. Or we think it is probably mostly allergies. But we're not sure, so I've been in self-imposed semi-quarantine for several days, on the grounds that triggering an epidemic of respiratory malfunction is not a worthy achievement. Ugh. I feel like I'm starting to come out of it. I hope I'm coming out of it. Four hour naps put a big dent in the day. (And if anybody knows why an allergy medicine that causes me no drowsiness at all most of the time can knock me into zombieland other times, you're ahead of me.)

On the upside, I was told that I sound like Lauren Bacall now. Such a deal. (That is, of course, when I'm talking, and not sniffing, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing.)

Also on the upside, I got my marriage record today. So, once I'm well enough to tackle that chore I can try again to renew my driver's license.

Word note: maelstrom

The other day I was out for a walk just before sunset, and was rewarded with a sky full of swifts, flying as only swifts fly. Around here, I'm more used to seeing flocks of swallows with the occasional swift in it, but this was, as far as I could see, a very large flock composed entirely of swifts.

If you aren't familiar with them, swifts fly with their wings held apparently stationary for a while, and then flap like mad, and when they flap, it looks like they are using one wing and then the other, left and then right, rapidly. It doesn't look like it should work. But, of course, it does.

In with all this, they swirl and swoop and change direction a lot. So, all in all, to see a flock of them feeding is to see a wondrously turbulent sky.

I stood gaping, and tried to think of a word to describe this ballet mixed with tap dancing, done in the extra-dimensional stage of the air, and the word that popped to mind was maelstrom. It didn't seem quite right, though, because it's usually used for bad situations.

I still don't think it's quite the right word, but I looked it up when I got home, and was surprised to find that my guesses about the word origins, and therefore its meaning, were off base. Rather than being a variation on mal- something, i.e. bad something, it is (according to The Penguin English Dictionary, 2nd Edition) derived from the Dutch maalstroom, from malen to grind, and strom stream.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Undocumented citizens

I have not been able to renew my driver's license, which expires soon, because the State of Oregon wants documents from me that I haven't needed before, and I have had to send off for them. Specifically, since I changed my name when I married, I must buy a copy of my marriage record from the state, to show how I got from my birth certificate name to my married name.

"Just be glad you've only been married once," the DMV clerk told me the other day, as we shuffled through the documents I could scurry up, in (vain) hopes they'd fill the bill. "Some folks have to prove how they got from one name to the next to the next to the next."

I did not have to sign the form I sent off, which struck me as odd. Later I found I could have, if I'd wanted, spent more and made my request online. I also see online where the state is no longer issuing driver's licenses over the counter, because it has gone to face recognition technology. Oh joy. In hopes of scaring off a few terrorists and con men, we all get to be treated like criminals, and have our mugs on file with the government, incorporating the latest technological means of identifying and keeping track of people. (The Department of Homeland Security begs to reassure us, however.)

My father-in-law is not well. I might have to travel a few hundred miles to help my mother-in-law. If I don't have my marriage record when it comes my turn to help (the family's working in shifts), I can either surrender my current license and get a temporary one with no photo, or I can take my license with me and let it expire and depend on others to drive me around. Oh joy. I can be without photo ID, which has foreseeable difficulties, or I can be without a driver's license, with has an entirely different set of foreseeable difficulties. I don't even want to know about the unforeseeable difficulties. If there's a way to renew from another state, I haven't found it yet. (There are a loopholes, but none I can jump through, as far as I can see.)

I am, of course, hoping that somehow I will be properly documented in time. I am trying hard to resist popping off Comrade jokes when I make it back to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and try again. I am in my 50s. I remember when government wasn't so all-fire intrusive. Or expensive. Or big. Or bothersome.

For that matter, I like to read old books. It has not escaped my attention that old books describe a world in which governments in the United States operated, for the most part, within fences they have since busted through.

So, I was at the post office late last week, and in front of me, a woman was asking the postal clerk the best way to send a passport to her son. 'Where's he going?' the clerk asked, being a friend. 'He's not traveling anywhere. He got a job, and he's got to prove he's an American citizen. He's already got the job, but...'

Whereupon the clerk said that she'd just had to fork over $50 for a certified birth certificate for her son, who needed it to stay in college.

Whereupon I mentioned my document woes, and how the certificate issued at the wedding wasn't good enough (which is a moot point for me, because for the life of me I haven't been able to find it), and I'd had to send off $20 for the paper demanded of me.

Whereupon, with another person joining in, we jointly wondered whether the new requirements were mostly about finding a new way to rake in money from the citizenry...

I don't believe that. Not that it's the primary reason, at any rate. But I'd love to see the tallies on revenue generated at the Vital Records departments of this country, listed year by year. I'm almost willing to bet they're becoming cash cows, compared to what they used to be.

Anyway, if you live in Oregon, and are a married lady and not a feminist, you might want to plan ahead. The certificate signed after the ceremony won't help you a bit, apparently. You must buy a copy of whatever got filed with the state where you got married. In Oregon, it costs you $20 for one copy, unless you want rush delivery, which you do online and which costs you $32.50. Such a deal. I don't know how much it costs to get records from other states. I'm hoping they won't take advantage of the new rules and raise the rates. I can see some state officials doing that. "Hey, look! People have to prove how they got from one name to another now. There's no way out of it if they want to drive or have official photo ID. Heh! We got 'em now, boy! Whoo-hoo!"

Yes, I am feeling a bit cynical this afternoon. Why do you ask?

Catholic teachings on abortion

Via the Alliance Alert:

Cardinal Egan of New York issued the following statement in response to Pelosi:



Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop of New York

August 26, 2008

From the Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Statement by Bishop David A. Zubik on“Meet the Press” comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

On Sunday, August 24, on “Meet the Press,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion. She said that Church teaching condemning procured abortion is somehow new and therefore unsettled. She could not have been more wrong.

Jesus proclaimed the sacredness of human life throughout his teaching and ministry. In a Roman world where abortion was commonplace, the Church proclaimed its intrinsic moral evil. The Didache, perhaps the earliest known Christian manual of moral teaching dating from the first century, rejected abortion. Early Church councils considered it one of the most serious crimes.

That teaching has remained constant and unaltered for two millennia.

As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith re-stated in 1974, “The first right of the human person is his life. … It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not others. … From the time the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being.”

The teaching of the Church on abortion is settled. And as old as the Gospels.