Playing the Indian Card

Monday, September 29, 2008

Save 100,000 Canadian Lives a Year

In July a new “safe haven” law took effect in Nebraska. According to a recent AFP story, confirmed by a similar story in USA Today, Nebraska is the last state in the US to pass such a “safe haven” law. These laws allow parents to anonymously abandon children in a hospital or police station without being prosecuted for any crime.

The intent is to allow any mother who dies not want a child to simply abandon the baby, with no repercussions.

This is, all things considered, a good idea. With a shortage of children available for adoption, these abandoned babies have an excellent chance at a good home and a happy life. And what this means is that in the US, abortion now does no more for the mother involved than allow her to avoid the trouble of carrying a child for nine months.

This much inconvenience to the mother is worth killing the child?

There is simply no excuse, with such a law on the books throughout the US, for abortion on demand.

We need such laws in Canada as well. There is an online petition here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Dominion

The Dominion Institute asked a few thousand Canadians five questions last spring, about Canadian national identity.

I hated the answers they got: Trudeau was voted Canada's defining person, Niagara Falls was Canada''s defining place, Canada Day was the defining event, the Canadarm the defining accomplishment, and the maple leaf the defining symbol.

Okay, I have no problem with the maple leaf. But my Canada was around well before Trudeau and the Canadarm. Niagara Falls is mostly in the US. And if the defining moment for Canada is its national day, nothing but a calendar date distinguishes Canada from any other country.

My answers to their questions:

1.Who is Canada's defining person?

Anne Shirley--”Anne of Green Gables.” She is the model for all subsequent Canadian heroes and heroines, literary and real-life.

Kateri Tekakwitha. In a supernatural way, her story is the story of Canada.
Laura Secord. An ordinary person who, through diligence and loyalty, achieved something extraordinary.

2.What is Canada's defining event?

The War of 1812. It decided that Canada would be an independent nation, not a part of the US.

The Chanak Crisis. It decided that Canada would be independent, not a province of a united British Empire.
The Plains of Abraham. It decided that Canada would not be a province of France.
Together, these three led to the existence of Canada as an independent country.

3.What is Canada's defining place?

The North Pole. We are “the True North, strong and free”; that is the core of our identity.

The Northwest Passage. It was in seeking it that Canada was discovered and explored.
The St. Lawrence River. Canada was built around this entrance-way into the continent. We are a river people; Canada was originally linked by canoe.

4.What is Canada's defining symbol?

Survival—Margaret Atwood nailed it. It's all about living through another winter.

Winter: “Mon pays, C'est l'hiver.”
The beaver. It is an uncommonly good symbol of the values Canadians treasure: quiet diligence. The beaver is also genuinely a crucial part of Canadian history—through the fur trade.

5.What is Canada's defining accomplishment?

Peace, order, and good government. Quite literally, this defines Canada.

The CPR. Historically, it was a sine qua non. Canada was about the CPR.
Survival. It is a remarkable thing that we are not a part of the USA. It is a remarkable thing that French is still the lingua franca of Quebec. It is a remarkable thing that Gaelic is still spoken in Cape Breton.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate Notes

My take on the presidential debate: McCain won.

Of course, I start out being biased. And yes, Obama was very smooth, very well-spoken, and sounded knowledgeable. I was even prepared to think he was matching McCain point for point, until what seems to me the defining point of the debate: the moment he seemed to look at his wrist bracelet to get the name of the soldier he was supposed to be commemorating with it. And that crystallized something for me; perhaps for others as well. It was the thought that OBAMA DOESN'T CARE. He doesn't care about ordinary soldiers. He doesn't care about ordinary people. He quite possibly doesn't care what happens to America.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that gesture seemed to telegraph this. And, in the light of that insight, his very coolness and smoothness seemed to work against him. It too said he did not care. By contrast, McCain seemed passionate; he seemed to care very much. His voice at times seemed to break with passion.

McLuhan used to say that television was a cool medium, and everyone thinks Kennedy beat Nixon by seeming calm. If so, Obama won. He was perfectly cool. But that is not how it came across to me. I actually stopped hearing what he had to say; it seemed to be just words. I ended with a feeling of real fear over the consequences of putting such great power in the hands of someone who seemed to care so little about others and about the country.

Other notes: McCain wrongly identified Iran's Revolutionary Guard as the “Republican Guard.” Obama could have had a slam dunk there, correcting him, given that McCain is supposed to be the foreign policy expert. Instead, he immediately repeated the mistake, showing not only that he does not know any better than McCain, but that he instinctively defers to McCain on foreign policy. It also suggests that his instincts are those of a follower, not a leader.

Obama said that some had called him “naive” for wanting to talk directly with hostile leaders. McCain repeated the charge, but missed a good comeback there—he could have pointed out that among them was Joe Biden.

At one point, Obama interrupted McCain, so that you could not hear McCain's answer. I found that cringingly rude, disrespectful, especially since McCain is much older. It seemed to me to fit with the theme that Obama does not care about others.

Obama made the point repeatedly that al Qaeda is resurgent. McCain never disagreed, but I think he is quite wrong. Yes, they've been bombing recently, in Yemen, in Karachi, and in Islamabad. But this seems to me a sign of weakness, not strength. They used to be able to bomb in London and New York. Is this now the best they can do? They are bombing in their own back yards: Yemen is where the bin Ladens originally came from, and has almost no effective government. Pakistan is where bin Laden is thought to currently reside, and has also for the last few years been in a state of near-chaos.

It is bad politics to bomb your neighbours. It does little to increase your popular support. This is evident in a sharp drop in support for al Qaeda in opinion polls across the Muslim world.

We may be watching their death agony.

What Caused the Crisis in Sub-Prime Loans

What caused the financial crisis.

As I said, I'm no expert, but I believe this to be true.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Murders on the Rue Trans-Canada

Sadly, someone else has been stabbed on a Greyhound bus, near White River, Ontario.

Unlike the more famous earlier incident near Brandon, though, this time we know immediately the ethnicity of both perpetrator and victim. The man stabbed was Asian. CanWest reports the fact in paragraph 2. The perpetrator was white—paragraph 8.

I don’t know that any major news organization has yet admitted that the Brandon perpetrator was Asian and the victim white. Certainly the present article, in referring to the earlier incident, does not.

Why? It does not fit the media stereotype. Whites bad. Non-whites good.

It will be interesting to see if this more recent incident is prosecuted as a “hate crime.”

Stormy Weather in the Markets

I’m out of my depth in talking about Wall Street finance. THis is not my area of expertise. But it seems to me, FWIW, there is no alternative to the US government stepping in with some hard cash, fast.

This is not, as it has commonly been called, a “bailout.” We face a credit crunch; we face bank failures. There is a sudden, dramatic shortage of capital. Right—that means an opportunity for anyone who has capital. If, then, the government can step in with the needed capital, given reasonable management, it could be and should be entirely in the taxpayers’ interest. They will not be losing the money. They will be making a decent profit on it.

Basic market strategy: buy when everyone else is selling. Sell when everyone else is buying.

Should the government be doing this? Should the government get involved in the markets? Maybe not, if you are a strict free-marketer. But they already are; government regulation arguably created this crisis. At worst, this is not the time to suddenly find religion and pull out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Zionist Entity

One can understand the Arab perspective on Israel.

Israel is not a particularly noble thing done by Europe. Feeling guilty for their historical treatment of the Jews, and most especially for the Nazi holocaust, Europe gave them—someone else's land.

Not a big chunk of land, agreed. But still not theirs to give. One cannot blame the Arabs for missing it, just as France missed Alsace-Lorraine, or Germany missed Danzig. It is a legitimate casus belli.

Granted too, Arabs in Israel have full rights to practice their religion and full civil liberties. The only thing that really distinguishes Israel from any other state is its Right of Return—that anyone proving Jewish ancestry has the automatic right to residence and citizenship.

One can understand why this might be important to the Jews—they know, in any future worst case, in case of future persecution, that there is a safe haven available to them. The Right of Return ensures that.

But here's a thought—might it be at least a valuable gesture, to set things right, if the EU included, as part of its own constitution, that all its member states must extend to the Jews the same right of return as does Israel?

That would be fairer than asking the Arabs to do it. It would make the Jews yet more secure—if Israel itself was ever overwhelmed, as it indeed might be, the Jews would still be assured a safe haven.

Indeed--dare I say it?--it might obviate the need for Israel. Even if one or more states of the EU became oppressive to the Jews, having the right to move instantly to another would protect them. With 27 nations, the odds are extremely good that any Jews in danger could escape. More, surely, than with just one. One might hope, indeed, that extending this right of return might appeal to some other nations as well: immigrant nations like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, and so forth. After all, a sense of guilt is not the only reason to do it: the Jews, as an ethnic group, are highly educated and skilled. Jewish immigration, looked at without prejudice, would probably be of net benefit to any country.

Some might argue that this is just not good enough—the tie of the Jewish people to the land often called Palestine is just too culturally deep. It must be this land, and no other.

But that, I would argue, with many devout Jews, is a cruel idolatry. That Israel, that Jerusalem, is the metaphysical one. The real history, and the real mission, of the Jews, is to be “a light unto the nations.” To be like the leaven in bread. That can only be accomplished through diaspora, and there has hardly been a time in the history of Israel when it has not been in diaspora—in the time of Abraham, in the time of Moses, in the time of Daniel, in the time of Maimonides. It is residence in Judea/Palestine/Israel that has been the anomaly. It is the proper fate of prophets to wander in the desert. The true Israel and the true, heavenly Jerusalem, are reserved for the end of time.

I leave you, too, with this thought: if Israel is the answer, then Hitler was right. This was Hitler's own plan, to segregate the Jews out into some other nation. He thought of Madagascar, not having Palestine available, after the fall of France. He resorted to annihiliation only once this proved impractical.

And Israel, as a state based on ethnicity, is to that extent, as the Arabs indeed argue, rather uncomfortably itself like Nazi Germany.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anne of Green Gables Committed Suicide

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s granddaughter has just gone public with the information that the Anne of Green Gables author—and, I would argue, the true founder of Canadian literature—suffered from chronic depression and ultimately committed suicide.

One of these days we will acknowledge openly the obvious but never-acknowledged truth that every significantly creative person the world has ever produced, and most highly intelligent people, suffer either from what is called “depression,” or “manic depression” (aka “bipolar disorder”). Robertson Davies once said he had never met a writer in his life who did not know “the black dog” well.

This being so, it is hard to buy into the currently prevailing notion that depression is a physical illness. It would be odd to find an illness that disproportionately afflicted creative or very intelligent people. Writer’s cramp, possibly?

Much more likely, depression is simply a byproduct of being highly creative and highly intelligent. Bertrand Russell described Periclean Athens as the only place ever known where one could be both intelligent and happy.

That might have been wishful thinking on his part. Socrates was given hemlock, after all.

There are several problems necessarily faced by the brightest among us. Most notable is that the world is necessarily designed for those of normal intelligence. To be much brighter than average is awkward, rather like being much taller than average. John Steinbeck played on this analogy, I think, in Of Mice and Men. One must develop a permanent stoop to converse with others, or to cross thresholds, or even, at some extreme, to go indoors. It becomes, in practical and especially in social terms, a handicap.

The common world-view, too, is naturally designed for the average intelligence. It must be difficult, for bright children or adolescents, when they realize the general consensus makes no sense, and there is nobody around to talk to about this. In fact, everyone else is frightened if you mention this. They may even decide you have gone mad.

That’s a lot for a kid to handle.

And then there are the Pharisees of the world, those who succeed by conning others, who have a vested interest in no one noticing their intellectual nakedness. To them, the highly intelligent and creative are a clear and present danger. And they are, most often, in positions of power.

This same week, my wife heard that the brightest boy in her year at high school, the class valedictorian, had committed suicide. He hanged himself from a tree.

Most distressing, perhaps, is the waste. The best minds of every generation, destroyed, hysterical, naked, searching for an angry fix, or hanging from a tree. Imagine if we could instead apply their minds to a cure for cancer, to world peace, or just to painting a million more Sistine Chapels.

Someday this will become possible.

In the meantime, the least we can do is to talk about it honestly

Monday, September 15, 2008

Equal Pay for Equal Risk

In 2002, over 5,000 US men died on the job.

No, I do not mean “persons.” In the real world, ninety-two percent of those who die at work are men.

That’s something to consider when you hear calls for sexual equality at work: from time immemorial, it has been up to men to do any work that is “dirty, difficult, and dangerous”—the same work that, in developed lands like Japan, Korea, and Western Europe, is now often assigned to “guest workers,” too poor to have other options; or simply sent offshore. If women in developed countries are now flooding into the workforce in greater numbers than ever before, this may have much to do with a higher proportion of jobs available in developed countries that are clean, pleasant, and safe. There is less hewing wood and hauling hay and more chatting on the phone and comfy chairs than there once was.

But even when a man and a woman are nominally doing the same job—never mind who makes the coffee. If there is occasional heavy lifting to be done, who does it? If there is question of physical risk, even minor, who takes it?

If we are going to truly have equal pay for equal work, we must also seek equality in the “three D’s.” Failing this, there is every reason to pay men more, and “pay equity” calculations must consider this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Republican Advantage

Here’s another reason why Obama is in trouble.

In a two-party race, you need over 50% of the vote to win. The Democrats have managed more than 50% of the vote for their Presidential candidate only twice since 1944. Clinton never got there. He won, twice, because Ross Perot split the Republican vote.

The two Democrats who managed the feat were Lyndon Johnson in 68, and Jimmy Carter in 76. Both elections involved exceptional circumstances: the Kennedy assassination in the first case, Watergate in the second.

This year, there is no significant split in the Republican vote, and there are no exceptional circumstances.

Why do the Republican presidential candidates have such an advantage? For one thing, because the Democrats are the party of the professional classes—fewer of their leaders have executive experience. And the presidency is an executive position. For another, the Democrats tend more than Republicans to appeal to special interests and specific client groups; and the President is, as head of state, a symbol of the unified nation.

The other side of this coin: the Democrats, the party of lawyers, are naturally dominant in the legislative and judiciary branches. This being so, it is wise of the public to vote Republican for President.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Read My Lipstick!

Now it looks as though the Obama campaign is getting a knack for making horrible blunders. That's the risk when you must try anything. Following the “lipstick on a pig” bit, they've now put out an ad claiming John McCain is out of touch because he cannot send an email.

Bad move. It turns out he cannot use a keyboard because of the results of torture.

It's probably not good politics to mock someone for his war injuries. Fellow Canadians might recall the fallout from Kim Campbell's ads mocking Jean Chretien for his partial facial paralysis.

By the way, the McCain campaign should put out a version of those ubiquitous arty posters of Obama with lipstick added to his lips, and the tag line “lipstick on a (male chauvinist) pig.” Or just “Sweetie!”

Above are my own humble attempts, courtesy of the free GIMP software.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Who Ran for the Democrats in 2008?

I'm glad I'm not Obama's campaign manager.

This commentator has taken the trouble to try to rank all US presidents, plus the current contenders, for relevant experience.

John McCain would, by his calculation, be the second-most-experienced president in US history, after John Quincy Adams and just ahed of George Washington. Obama would rank 37 out of 44—notably underqualified. He would still be ahead of Sarah Palin, who would be less qualified than all but two presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland. But she in turn is still ahead of Hillary Clinton.

Either Obama's or Palin's election would plainly be a case of affirmative action. Palin is where she is because she is a woman. Obama is where he is because he is black.

I fear that Palin's inexperience came through in her recent interview with Charles Gibson, and it was slightly sobering. Still, she is running for VP, not president.

Obama's campaign is saddled with a plainly unqualified candidate. He was a one-trick pony, and the Republicans learned the trick. “Change” was all he had. As a theme, that is too easily trumped. It was inevitably beaten by a fresher face than Obama's. Obama is now yesterday's fad, and suddenly boring.

Now what does the Democratic campaign have left? No surprise if they are thrashing about. They have tried to attack the Republican ticket for inexperience, or for corruption, or for flip-flopping, or for extremism, or for being “out of touch with ordinary Americans”—but this cannot work. Obama is probably more vulnerable than McCain on any of those points, and raising any of them is against his interests.

The latest idea the Obama campaign has come up with is that McCain-Palin would not be “real change,” because they are still, like the incumbent president, Republicans. Hence the infamous “lipstick on a pig” comment.

Two problems:

1.Ideological change is not the change the public really wants. Republicans probably score better than Democrats on the issues, and most people actually vote, quite reasonably, not on issues or ideology, but on personalities.

2.Obama is more vulnerable than McCain on that charge, too—of being cosmetic rather than real change. What evidence can Obama offer that he will deliver real change? What change has he ever delivered? Only his choice of running mate. On the one big opportuinity, Obama chose continuity over change. McCain's choice of Palin throws that fact into stark relief.

What can Obama's campaign come back with? Darned if I know.

The one thing that might still happen is a serious gaffe by the inexperienced Palin. The Gibson interview reminds me of that possibility. But who cares? Even if it did happen, would it hurt McCain? Or would it remind us all that Obama, too, is terribly inexperienced to be president? All Palin needs to do is to show that she can learn quickly.

It looks like game, set, and match. It looks like it is the Obama campaign that is stuck trying to put lipstick on a pig. It looks like Obama who is fit now for nothing but wrapping fish.

He is yesterday's news.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quotes of the Day

"Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV."

--line from an item of legislation voted for by Barack Obama.

“The hags of the Hamptons speak as one on this issue. Snow White Palin must be stopped. Anybody got a poisoned apple?”

- Howie Carr, Boston Herald.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Madonna Barracuda

Jim Geraghty of the National Review finds it “very strange” that Catholic voters are flocking to the McCain-Palin ticket ever since Palin was chosen VP candidate. After all, Palin isn’t Catholic. Biden is.

I have noted before one reason why Catholics are less inclined to warm to Obama: his speaking cadences are those of a Protestant preacher. Nothing wrong with that, to a Catholic ear, but it is bound to resonate more strongly with Protestants.

This does not, however, explain the present phenomenon. This has something to do with Palin, not Obama—because it happened once Palin was added to the ticket.

Or rather, it has something to do with women—because before Obama took the nomination, Catholic Democrats also strongly favoured Hillary Clinton. Who is also not Catholic.

The key, I think, has to be that Catholics are more inclined to vote for female candidates than are Protestants.

And this makes perfect sense. Women hold a much more honoured place in the Catholic than in the Protestant world view. For Catholics, The ultimate image of the feminine is Mary. For Protestants, it is Eve.

Accordingly, Catholic countries have had no problem, historically, with women taking positions of authority outside the family—as nuns. Protestant nations until recently allowed no such outlet.

Any woman probably has an advantage with Catholic voters. But, with five children, including a babe in arms, Sarah Palin in particular plays a very good Madonna. Why wouldn’t Catholics warm to her?

A tip to the McCain campaign: make sure her campaign wardrobe favours blue.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It's Over

Frankly, I don't think this US presidential election is even going to be close.

Bottom line: people vote for candidates they warm to personally—at least, the voters who swing elections do. Who do you want appearing on your TV screens for the next four years? That's what really matters, and it is reasonable that it should—in the US system, a president is a symbol of the nation, and his primary power is the “bully pulpit.”

In the likeability stakes, Obama looked good at first, but he does not seem to wear well. “Where's the beef?” applies more aptly to him than it ever did to Gary Hart. He has now run out of interesting things to say. Biden was never there—amiable in a way, but audibly full of helium.

McCain is hard not to like. Because of his ability to improvise, used so effectively in town hall meetings, he remains interesting to listen to more or less indefinitely. Television is, in the end, an intimate medium, and this works better for him than for a set-piece orator like Obama.

And Palin? Sorry, but every magazine editor knows that both men and women would rather look at an attractive woman than any man. Not any woman, perhaps, but a babe, certainly. Who isn't going to want to see her on their TV screens for the next four years? Sexist, perhaps, but true, and it will work for her. At this point, everybody wants to see more Palin.

One More Historic First

This just occurred to me: on top of all its other firsts, this year's Republican ticket, if it wins, will mean the first Pentecostal in the White House—Sarah Palin.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Organize This

The Democrats are taking offense at what they consider slams against “community organizers” in both Rudy Giuliani's and Sarah Palin's speeches at the RNC. sent out an email saying Palin “told us that she can be condescending and dismissive of the real work Barack Obama did helping real people on the South Side of Chicago." Obama himself sent out an email of protest. The Democrats feel strongly that community organizers do not deserve jibes like “a mayor is kind of like a community organizer—but with responsibilities,” or Giuliani's “he was nothing, nada, zero. He was a community organizer—what's that?”

I can't speak for others here. I imagine community organizers are really a huge constituency who would, otherwise, have voted solidly Republican. But nothing could be more perfectly calculated to make me want to support the Republicans. What the hell, after all, is a community organizer, but a social worker? When has a social worker ever done anything but harm?

A professional community organizer, as opposed to a volunteer, an elected official, or a pastor, is alomst necessarily a Pharisee. They pretend to be doing out of the goodness of their heart what they are really doing for money; or for ego; or for a political agenda. By not being elected, they avoid the ordinary scrutiny. But a professional community organizer is a person, an outsider, who thinks he knows better than the people of the community itself what is good for them, and believes they need not be consulted on this.

What could be more profoundly anti-democratic? It has to mean that the community organizer considers himself or herself intrinsically superior to the people around him. He or she wades in uninvited to “improve” them.

All the best and biggest empires were built on the basic principle of community organizing.

Good intentions may well mix here with huge ego—but it is the huge ego, not the good intentions, that is certain. Ego might as easily be mixed with a bullying instinct, an instinct to control, or an instinct to make money off the less fortunate. Condescending and dismissive indeed.

Having been a professional community organizer ought to disqualify anyone from the Presidency.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The MSM's Palindrone

Even Peggy Noonan now apparently believes that the media attack on Sarah Palin and her family has been over the top. The mainstream media as a body now risk having their credibility destroyed, just as Dan Rather’s was last cycle.

Why? Why do they feel the need to act so recklessly?

It can only be taken as a measure of just how dangerous Sarah Palin is to the left. She is too perfect: young, intelligent, honest, principled, beautiful—and conservative. She is not a role model they want hanging around for the next generation or two. She could change everything, in the way Margaret Thatcher, or Ronald Reagan, or Teddy Roosevelt, did.

This ism ultimately, because Sarah Palin looks a lot like America; or at least, like America’s best self. She is a self-made woman; not the descendant of some great family. A small-town girl next door, born as far away as she could be from the centres of power. She did not go to the right schools, did not attend the right parties (that’s probably what they partly mean by calling her “inexperienced.” What that really means—and they sometimes say as much--is “we don’t know her. She is not one of us.”). She got no help from the old boys’ and girls’ network on her way up; instead, she challenged the party establishment. She is, in sum, the personification of American democracy, as it is supposed to work.

She is also a woman of the frontier; Margaret Atwood has argued, convincingly, that the frontier is the central image of American culture.

She is from a small town. Most Americans no longer live in small towns, but it is still where “American” culture runs most true and most distinct. Ask Walt Disney, who made “Main Street, USA” the centerpiece of his theme parks. The soul of France is in Paris; the soul of America has always been in Peoria.

As Peggy Noonan says, the left’s only hope is to kill her, and kill her quickly. Hence their illogical, self-defeating attacks: that she is “too inexperienced” (not a concept Obama supporters should want to highlight); that she is neglecting her family (not a concept feminists should want to promote), that she is a “hypocrite” because of the actions of her daughter (essentially opposite to the meaning of the term).

We will see if they succeed. My gut says they won’t.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Historic Ticket

Much has been made of the current Democratic ticket being historic—since Barack Obama, although raised by a white mother and white grandparents, would be the first American president of part-African heritage.

Real change: a historic ticket.

But in fact, electing the Republican ticket would involve a good deal more historic firsts. Most obviously, the oldest president at time of election, and the first woman vice president. But also the first president from Arizona, the first president or vice president from outside the continental USA, the first president or vice president from Alaska, the first person in the White House of Eskimo ancestry (Todd Palin), the first of South Asian ancestry (the McCains' adopted daughter Bridget), the first Vietnam vet in the White House, and one of the few presidential tickets not including a lawyer.

And just to kick the last slats out from under the “historic” Democratic ticket, some historians argue seriously that Barack Obama would not be the first president to claim African ancestry.

The argument is simple: in America's youth, there were often more men than women. Many of these men owned African slaves. Slaveowners were ultimately free to have sex with their female slaves—only personal morality could stand in the way. But social pressures and self-interest required families not to acknowledge any resulting African blood.

Odds are fairly good, therefore, that Warren G. Harding, of West Indian ancestry, president from 1921 to 1923, was part black—on both sides, more than can be said for Barack Obama. This was a common rumour in his day, and Harding himself said only that he did not know.

Cases can be made for at least four other presidents having some African blood: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Calvin Coolidge.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Feminist Hypocrisy

The feminists are howling that Sarah Palin doesn't count as a woman, because she holds the wrong political views.

This is revealing—as I have always argued, feminism is not pro-women, but anti-women. Sally Quinn and Susan Reimer, for example, argue that picking Sarah Palin is actually an “insult to women,” because she is, unlike, say, Hillary Clinton, not actually qualified for the job. Reimer writes, “He [McCain] seems to think that my girlfriends and I are so disappointed that an utterly qualified woman is not going to be president that we will jump at the chance to vote for an utterly unqualified woman for vice president.”

Right. Let's compare Sarah Palin's experience with that of Hillary Clinton, remembering here too that Palin is auditioning for understudy, Clinton for lead role:

Sarah Palin – born 1964

1992 - first elected to public office—Wasilla City Council.
Since then, she has run for office seven times, counting her VP run, winning five of these elections, with a sixth still to be determined.
Eight years' executive experience.

Hillary Clinton – born 1947

2000 - first elected to public office—US Senate.
Since then, she has run for office twice, counting her presidential run, and won once.
No executive experience.

In fact, Palin has eight years more political experience than Clinton; and eight years more executive experience. People keep confusing Hillary Clinton with her husband--obviously helping her political career. Palin did it all on her own.

But let's not stop there. We have already seen that Palin has more experience than Barack Obama too. How about the last major Democratic presidential contender, good old John Edwards?

John Edwards – born 1953

Six years in public office (US Senate).
Since then, he has run for office three times, counting his presidential run—and lost every time.
He has no executive experience.

Sarah Palin has more qualifications to be Vice President than any of the major Democratic contenders--for President.

Next, the feminists accuse her of hypocrisy because her daughter is pregnant. Let's have a look at what hypocrisy actually would be in this situation: hypocrisy would be pressuring her daughter to have an abortion. Had the Palins done that, in all probability, nobody in the national press would have been the wiser. There would have been no story. Instead, they stuck to their principles—by keeping the child, as they did with their Down's syndrome daughter—despite the very public, and national, embarassment. This is the opposite of hypocrisy. This is living one's principles.

The hypocrites are those who support abortion for themselves, and yet condemn Palin and her young daughter for a decision they would never have had the ethical courage or the selflessness to make.

Now let's recall that Barack Obama was raised by a single mom, who gave birth to him at age 18 (some documents suggest 17). Should he too have been aborted? Is he responsible for what his mother or father did? How about John Edwards? No—let's not even go near John Edwards. And we'd better not mention Jesse Jackson either. Or Ted Kennedy.

Allan Combs suggests that Sarah Palin was irresponsible in continuing her duties as Alaska governor when pregnant with her most recent child, implying that she might have been responsible for the girl's Down's syndrome. With regard to her daughter's pregnancy, Sally Quinn asks “whether Sarah Palin has been enough of a hands-on mother.”

Idiotically enough. Down's syndrome is a genetic condition. It cannot be picked up during pregnancy. And anyone who has either raised or actually ever been a teenager knows that parents are just not responsible for what their teenage children do. The minister's daughter is always the worst behaved; the professor's son is always the worst student. It's called teenage rebellion.

But if Sarah Palin should have been in the kitchen with her shoes off instead of holding a job outside the home, why doesn't the same apply to Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton? Neither put aside their legal careers for motherhood, though they hardly needed the money. For that matter, why doesn't it apply to Joe Biden, who did not after all resign his Senate seat for the five years that he was a single parent to two seriously injured sons?

I wonder—wouldn't it be wonderful if the Palin candidacy ended up killing off feminism altogether, by showing how dishonest it really is?