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When the State Polices Parenting Choices

Posted by V the K at 12:48 pm - January 16, 2015.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Family

A mother and father in Montgomery County MD (cough… leftist Sithhole… cough) is in trouble with the police and Child Protective Services because they let their children walk one mile outdoors in a safe neighborhood in daylight hours.

On Dec. 20, Alexander agreed to let the children, Rafi and Dvora, walk from Woodside Park to their home, a mile south, in an area the family says the children know well.

The children made it about halfway.

(Related: Why are we criminalizing childhood independence?)

Police picked up the children near the Discovery building, the family said, after someone reported seeing them.

Police on Wednesday did not immediately have information on the case. But a spokeswoman said that when concerns are reported, “we have a responsibility as part of our duty to check on people’s welfare.”

The Meitivs say that on Dec. 20, a CPS worker required Alexander to sign a safety plan pledging he would not leave his children unsupervised until the following Monday, when CPS would follow up. At first he refused, saying he needed to talk to a lawyer, his wife said, but changed his mind when he was told his children would be removed if he did not comply.

Following the holidays, the family said, CPS called again, saying the agency needed to inquire further and visit the family’s home.

The parents made a choice the state does not approve of, therefore, they must be harassed, monitored, and punished.

Obviously, when a parent is really physically abusing or neglecting a child … beating to the point of injury, depriving them of food, or sexually abusing them… someone should protect the child. But what conservatives understand, and liberals don’t, is that bureaucrats will constantly push the boundaries to expand their mandate and substitute their own judgment for parents.

Do we want the State (bureaucrats) to be everybody’s parent? This is a serious question.

If you live long enough, you’ll see everything

Apple, Facebook will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc and Facebook Inc will help pay for female employees to freeze their eggs…

From January, Apple will pay both full- and part-time employees up to $20,000 for procedure and storage costs for female employees to freeze their eggs.

“We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with cryopreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatments,” Apple said in a statement.

I’m pretty sure that Apple already covered its employees’ *medical fertility problems*. (If that’s mistaken, please correct me in the comments.) Something else must be new here. What is it?

Could it be, a benefit for egg-freezing as a pure career move? Let’s see:

“We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

NBC News reported on Tuesday that Facebook recently began covering egg-freezing for non-medical reasons…

Egg freezing is a pricey but increasingly popular option for women. It enables women to delay child bearing…

A sign of the times. Now that Facebook/Apple woman can freeze her eggs at 30, work years of 80 hour weeks, and then at 50 when she’s pulling 300K a year (and naturally infertile), pay a surrogate to do that other part of her life for her – you know, having kids from her eggs.

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with it – if she’s doing it all with her own money. The issue I see here is, Apple and Facebook are choosing to engage in a form of discrimination against their employees who don’t make (or shall we say, don’t need to make) that particular, optional choice.

Remember, the money comes from somewhere: the overall “employee comp” budget. Rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars for a hugely *optional* procedure for a special category of employee, why would Facebook/Apple not raise all employees’ bonuses by (say) a thousand dollars? That would empower far more women (and men, and transgenders) and be much more fair.

The free market will (or should) ultimately decide if Apple and Facebook have done the right thing here. In the meantime, some people appear not to grasp that freezing your eggs – purely as a career move – is optional:

“Egg freezing gives women more control,” said Jennifer Tye, marketing lead for Glow, a mobile application aimed at helping women avoid pregnancy or conceive.

“When I turned 30, I had this notion that my biological clock was ticking, but I didn’t know what my options were,” said Tye.

Really? At 30, she didn’t know what her options were? I hope she was misquoted; if not, it’s mind-boggling stupidity.

If Only He Were Living in a Normal Mainstream Pansexual Transgender Wiccan Nudist Commune

Posted by V the K at 8:56 am - February 20, 2014.
Filed under: Family,Social Issues

Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise is married with a wife and a young daughter; he attends church regularly. To NBC, this constitutes an “alternative lifestyle.”

At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult. He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.

The Mainstream Media is baffled by young 20-somethings who choose to live as adults; especially when the MFM has worked so hard to ensure they can live on their parents health insurance until age 26, stay in school until their 30′s, and delay marriage and family until the front end of middle age.

Feminist Bitterly Resents How Other Women Have Found Happiness

Posted by V the K at 12:18 pm - January 25, 2014.
Filed under: Family,Leftist Nutjobs

Amy Glass hates that some women have chosen to find happiness in marriage and family life.

Every time I hear someone say that feminism is about validating every choice a woman makes I have to fight back vomit.

Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with.

Apparently, she has a lot of bitterness toward marriage and family, as evidenced by her other posts.

Studies consistently show that women who choose marriage and family life are happier than bitter feminists. Unfortunately, the dominant strain of feminism is closely aligned with left-wing collectivism; individuals achieving their own happiness through their own choices is not an acceptable paradigm. The Sisterhood (meaning the feminist leadership) will support only those choices that empower The Sistershood (meaning those who have positioned themselves at the top of the feminist leadership).

And maybe it’s just a case of turning sour grapes into bitter Feminist whine.

An Interesting Double Standard

Posted by V the K at 6:42 am - December 11, 2013.
Filed under: Family,Gay Marriage

Bitter, shrill feminist Amanda Marcotte supports same-sex marriage.

Bitter, shrill feminist Amanda Marcotte is offended by traditional heterosexual marriage and mocks those who think it’s good for both men and women. (And manages to wedge in the long discredited myth that women earn 23% less than men.)



On long discussions and gay-related policy news

Jeff’s brief post on Friday linking to a piece in The Onion has generated one of the longer discussion threads here in recent months at GayPatriot.  At the risk of mischaracterizing or oversimplifying it, much of the discussion has centered around the policy goals of gay activists of various stripes, as well as whether or not, criticizing or finding fault with some of those goals means one sympathizes with the aims of various anti-gay activists.

I think it is well-known to most regular readers that several of the contributors at GayPatriot, for instance, are either ambivalent or agnostic about the policy questions regarding same-sex marriage.  I, for one, feel that the courts are the wrong place for the argument over so-called “marriage equality” to proceed and that it is better taken up through the legislative process.  Likewise, I don’t feel that one needs to call it marriage if doing so antagonizes a significant portion of the populace who feel that marriage has a traditional meaning which they would rather not modify.  I’ve said before and I’ll say again that what we’re really talking about when we talk about same-sex marriage is a matter of  1). how the state recognizes a contractual relationship between two individuals, and 2). whether or not it has any business granting special privileges to those in a “traditional marriage” which it does not grant to others.  I’d argue that a debate that focused on the desirability of certain policy choices would be much more productive and much more worthwhile than one centered on emotional claims about “rights” and “equality.”  I’d also say that a more dispassionate debate about the implications of policy is more in keeping with both conservative and libertarian principles.

My aim today, though, is not to revisit that debate or to consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court decisions on those issues (though I’m still planning to do so in a future post), but to bring up some of the questions raised by the fact that today New Jersey became the second state (after California) to ban “conversion therapy” for gay youths.  My personal view on the issue is that “conversion therapy” doesn’t work in most cases and, to the extent that it is practiced, it should really only be viewed as an option for adults who choose to willingly commit to it.  In other words, New Jersey’s ban is in accord with my personal view on the matter, and yet, for philosophical reasons, I’m still bothered by some aspects of the legislation.

Neo-neocon expresses reservations similar to mine when she writes:

It is no use pretending that therapy—and the licensing of therapists by the state—is not at least partly a political endeavor subject to political fashion rather than a science. Nor should therapists be completely unrestricted. For example, therapists are already prohibited from sexual contact with patients—even willing patients, even adult patients—because it is considered inherently exploitative. But the most harmful practices that could be used by conversion therapists (for example, electric shock) could be banned without banning the entire enterprise. And as the articles point out, mainstream therapy organizations have already condemned conversion therapy and do not advocate it.

But apparently none of that would be enough for the advocates of this bill; the therapy itself must be defined by the government as inherently and unfailingly abusive (what’s next, taking children away from parents who don’t applaud and celebrate their gayness?) As the nanny state grows, so will these essentially political moves by the government. This bill opens the door for a host of governmental abuses in which the state dictates the enforcement of politically correct thought through the mechanism of so-called therapy, and therapists become the instruments by which the public is indoctrinated in what is currently politically acceptable and what is verboten.

Chilling, indeed.

At the risk of invoking the “slippery-slope” argument, I can’t see a way around the concerns that Neo-neocon expresses.  I’d have preferred to let the market regulate itself without getting the state involved in this way.  Once the state has weighed in on this question, though, where can we expect it to weigh in next, and will it ever stop trying to regulate the way parents raise their children?  I can’t see that it ever will.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gay kids grow up in homes that are not especially loving, nurturing or supportive.   The state, though, is none of those things, either, no matter what the expressed intentions of lawmakers might be.  Increasing the reach of the state into individual lives should not be a comfort to any of us.

The fruits of capitalism can help those in need

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:38 pm - June 5, 2013.
Filed under: Family,Worthy Causes

On matters political, I often lock horns with my sisters. In our family, the men lean Republican, the women Democratic. But, today the elder of my two sisters had a letter published in the New York Times with which I agree wholeheartedly:

I disagree with David Brooks when he says you should travel to Africa if you truly wish to save a dying child (“The Way to Produce a Person,” column, June 4).

You cannot save a dying child simply by being present. To save that child, you need a doctor as well as money to pay for that doctor and the many other components needed to save and maintain a life such as medication, food, clothing and shelter.

I laud Jason Trigg’s decision to earn large sums on Wall Street and donate that money so others can continue their direct services on the ground.

Some of us are firmly committed to helping those in need and willing to battle on the front line, but we need the money that Mr. Trigg earns and donates to continue our work.

She’s right.  Compassionate individuals can better help those in need with the resources of those who have been successful in profitable fields of endeavor.

If you want to help my sister assist the less fortunate of Westchester County, join me in making a donation to the Sharing Shelf, a program she started that provides new and gently used clothing to need children.  (Just type “Sharing Shelf” into the “Designation” Window.”)

Falling birthrates

Why do some nations’ birthrates fall? And can Big Government boost them?

[Germany] spends some €200 billion ($270 billion) on promoting children and families per year…But its birth rate, at 1.39 births per woman aged 15 to 49, remains among the lowest in Europe…

…The web of benefits is so complex that even experts don’t fully grasp it: There’s a “child supplement,” “parental benefit,” an “allowance for single parents,” a “married person’s supplement,” a “sibling bonus,” “orphan money” and “child education supplement,” not to forget the “child education supplementary supplement.”

The article suggests that the reason that German women don’t have kids is because the government isn’t funding enough daycare and preschools to make it easy for them.

I have a different theory. My guess is that birthrates fall:

  1. because living standards rise. (Kids stop being a help on the farm; start being expensive.)
  2. and because the Welfare State gives people the illusion that government will take care of them in old age.

My second point would mean that Big Government measures won’t, over time and on average, raise a nation’s birthrates. The more the State does – the more it hands out benefits and asserts its dominance in citizens’ lives – the less urgent its citizens will feel about procreating. Agree/disagree?

With Connecticut horror fresh in our minds, ’tis not the season to politicize

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:06 am - December 17, 2012.
Filed under: Family,Holidays

Like many of those who are more supportive than critical of the National Rifle Association, I have struggled mightily this weekend not to respond to friend’s Facebook posts holding the organization responsible for Friday’s shooting in Connecticut.

Horrified, as we all are, by what happened, they want to pin the blame on someone and choose an outfit of which they have long been critical.  Perhaps, it makes them feel better.  Or perhaps, it helps them make sense of actions which transcend the understanding of rational, civilized people.

As the ancient Greeks so well understood, we will never fully understand the irrational.

What makes this one so particularly painful was the murder of twenty children, none older than 7.  And that they were killed in a season where most of us celebrate with our families.  Twenty-seven families will have less to celebrate this year, feeling the loss of a child, a girlfriend, a wife, a sister, an aunt or a mother.

It is those murdered individuals and the families we should be thinking about right now.  As a nation, we are united in grief.  Yes, there is political rhetoric to criticize and media behavior to condemn, but in criticizing it, we lose sight of what really matters.

Some people get it.  I have seen numerous Facebook posts from friends on both sides of the political aisle and those about whose political leanings I know nothing who have offered touching tributes to the fallen as well as gentle reminders to cherish our family and friends. (more…)

Slower blogging/new nephew

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:16 am - September 28, 2012.
Filed under: Blogging,Family

I want to apologize for not blogging for the past two days. I have just returned from a trip to the Bay Area to meet my new nephew. And shortly after his bris, it was time to attend Yom Kippur services.

Yesterday, while still in the Bay Area, I checked the blog only briefly, had thought to write, but decided to spent more time with my Mom, my sister and her boys.

Back in LA now, and hope to get back to regular blogging soon.

The passing of Andrew Breitbart
A terrible blow to the conservative movement,
a devastating loss to his family

This past weekend, as a favor to my sister and brother-in-law, I drove up to the Bay Area so they could have an adult in the house with their three-year-old son while they shared a romantic evening at a nearby hotel.  Of course, this favor was a duty most pleasant as I had the chance to hike with my sister and spend countless hours playing trucks, running races, imitating pirates and dancing the dragatusi (sometimes known as the dragon-tusi) with my nephew.

When his parents were away, that precocious young man had a nightmare, waking in tears.  I rushed to comfort him, but he wanted his Daddy, asking me repeatedly where his father was.  I assured him that Daddy was coming back the following day.

None of Andrew Breitbart’s relatives will be able to provide a similar assurance to his children.  Today, we in the conservative movement mourn a man John Hinderaker called “irreplaceable“.  But, our loss pales in comparison to his children’s.  And his wife’s.  One hopes, one prays, that she has the strength to comfort them in this trying time.  And that she has relatives who can support her in the difficult task of raising children who have lost their father.

He was kinetic,” wrote Michelle Malkin, “brash, relentless, full of fight, the bane of the Left, and a mentor to the next generation of right-wing activists and citizen journalists.”  And a father to four children.

Other bloggers have talked about his contributions to the conservative movement, how in the words of one, he “lived large“, following “his own path” and doing what he thought to be right — “no matter whom it offended or how it affected his own personal bottom line.”  Another called him “a friend and mentor“, with his family losing “a caring husband, a wonderful father and their center of gravity.”

Indeed, as yet another put it, he was not just “a brave warrior” and a “great guy”, but also a “committed family man.”  And his family will feel his loss even more deeply than we do.

May he rest in peace and may the Holy One provide comfort to his family.

When insinuation replaces argument

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:48 am - February 8, 2012.
Filed under: Blogging,Family,Mean-spirited leftists

Perhaps I should not have offered that “personal note” I had offered yesterday.  With Bruce busy and me manning the fort, sometimes it seems I can’t meet the expectations of our readers for regular content on a variety of issues, particularly those of concern to our community.  Especially when I have other projects to complete and when there are others issues are on my mind.

When I posted the piece, I expected some understanding commentary — from our defenders and our critics, instead witnessed the return of a troll, arriving not to address the point of the post, but to attack me personally and gay conservatives in general, basing his bile not on anything I had said, but on aspects of my biography he assumed to be true, but none of which having in fact any basis in reality.

Indeed, some were in direct opposition to the facts of my life, some he might have discerned had he read my posts.  For the record, I have a very strong relationship with my father whom I see several times a year even though we live in different states.  He knows I’m gay and loves me for the man I am.

Our relationship has strengthened since I came out to him, perhaps because my coming out caused him to ask questions about an experience that was foreign to him — or perhaps because fathers and sons oftentimes become closer in adulthood.  (And that is all I will say — all, for the purposes of this blog, that needs be said.)

Why someone would want to make assumptions about my relationship to my family is beyond me.  This blog should be a forum for discussion, not insinuation.

I am grateful to ur reader Rattlesnake for not mincing words when he took our critic to task: (more…)

Slow Blogging/Economics Bleg

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:18 pm - December 30, 2011.
Filed under: Blogging,Economy,Family

I apologize for not blogging as much as I normally do, even as much as I would like, but am now on a vacation with my family in Florida and when the choice comes down to reading/writing about politics and spending time with my siblings or nibblings, well, I prefer the latter.  You could kind of say it’s not really a choice.

Anyway, in between conversations about the merits of dump trucks with my youngest nephew, his Dad, the younger of my two brothers-in-law, and I have been debating economic policy with my sister’s husband defending the “macroeconomic” policies of the incumbent Administration.  He recently shared with me this article from the Economist arguing that expansionist (i.e., big government policies) spared us a second Great Depression. I have read the article twice and, not having all the data at my fingertips, have only partially been able to refute it.

So, my bleg.  Have any of you seen any articles/blog posts taking issue with said article (linked above).  Also, I recall reading a recent blog post (with data similar to this one) showing how unemployment didn’t begin its steep upward ascent until after the Smoot-Hawley tariff and Hoover’s expansionist policies (that is, unemployment had remained relatively low for about a year after the market crash of 1929 which supposedly caused the Great Depression).  Do any of you have a link to that post?

If you have any such information, please leave it in the comments or e-mail me.

And if I were to buy my brother-in-law a book that best summarizes libertarian economics, including an explanation for how market forces could have spared us the ravages of the New Deal, please let me know.  I was thinking of getting him Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.  Is there a better book out there?

He has been very civil in his discourse, eager to listen and ever ready to respond with arguments not innuendo.  So, I want to encourage his interest — and hope to change his mind, hence wishing to provide information laid out by someone with a far greater understanding of economics than I.

On blogging & the gay marriage conversation

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:18 am - June 29, 2011.
Filed under: Blogging,Family,Gay Marriage,Random Thoughts,Travel

Sometimes, we bloggers find that our schedules do not allow us the time to write about breaking news of interest to our readers in a timely manner.  When the news breaks, we may have other plans and lack a paid staff or readily available understudies to fill in when we are away.

In the wake of the New York legislature’s vote to recognize same-sex marriages, I would have liked to have blogged more on the topic and have scribbled countless notes for a number of blog posts.  But, I had planned a trip, first to Santa Barbara for a friend’s going away party and thence to the Bay Area to spend time with some family members.  In the coming days, I will try to bring some order to my notes and write those posts, but for now, I write from the kitchen in my sister’s new house in the San Francisco ‘burbs, having just concluded a lengthy conversation with that spirited mother of a most energetic two-and-one-half year old.

For the past three days, I would have rather spent my time, dining with my mother (whose visit to SF was the occasion for my trip), hiking with my sister or playing with my nephew than organizing my notes and writing (hopefully) thoughtful posts on gay marriage.

Those three paragraphs were supposed to have served as the introduction to the first post I had wanted to write on gay marriage.  Perhaps, I should leave them as a reflection on blogging, but I do want to add one more thing.

Part of the “play” with my nephew involved a trip to Traintown, a railway-themed mini-amusement park featuring “a quarter scale railroad on 4 miles of track.”  On our twenty-minute ride, although I focused on my nephew, I did notice a (presumably) lesbian couple and their child.  One mother who had the short hair and very matter-of-fact manner of many lesbians I know and showed the same solicitude toward her daughter that my sister regularly shows her son, gently, at one time, offering her a sippy cup when the child seemed thirsty and not letting it fall when she rejected it soon thereafter, thrusting it at her Mommy (without regard to her willingness or ability to hold onto it). (more…)

Nieces & the “princess phase”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:26 pm - December 20, 2010.
Filed under: Family,Holidays,Movies/Film & TV

Last week (on the advice of a legendary Hollywood producer of kids’ television), I watched the latest (and, despite reports, not last) Disney princess movie, Tangled. It was wonderfully Disney, very sweet, very touching and often very funny (e.g., the scene in the “Snuggly Duckling”).

Perhaps, I enjoyed it more because I imagined how my soon-to-be three-year-old niece would love it, recalling how her face lit up when each of the Disney princesses came up to our table at Ariel’s Grotto in Disney’s California Adventure this past July.  I wondered that she, like her sister and each of her cousins once did, is going through this princess phase, getting all goofy over such Disney movies and dressing up in regal regalia.

It’s not just my nieces.  On Saturday, Glenn Reynolds, linking an insightful piece by Virginia Postrel wrote that his “4-year-old niece is getting a princess costume for Christmas, because that’s what she’s into these days.”  “Why,” Postrel asks, “in a society without princesses, does this archetype remain so intensely glamorous to girls with all sorts of backgrounds and personalities?”  Great question.  I’m not quite sure the answer, but I will note that it has been fun watching my nieces go through the princess phase while their brothers and male cousins invariably pass through the superhero phase.

A Reflection on the Liberals in My Family & the Critics of our Blog

I am just now returning from the second gathering of my immediate family, immediate to me at least, my siblings and their offspring (as well as at least one of our parents) in seven weeks.  In May, we gathered in New York for my third eldest niece’s Bat Mitzvah.   This past weekend, we celebrated my Mom’s 75th birthday in San Diego.

What distinguished these two weekends from past such gatherings was the near absence of political (for lack of better word) confrontations.  In our family, the partisan divide falls neatly along gender lines, with the men Republicans, the women Democrats (but the sisters-in-law tend to vote Republican while the brothers-in-law lean left, but not dogmatically so).

(The absence of political disagreements made these weekends more enjoyable, far more enjoyable, than the typical family get-together.)

Anyway, it reminded me how well we can all get along if we refrain from discussing politics.  I love my Mom and both my sisters and share much in common with all three.  My Mom and I both love art and had a wonderful day on Saturday with my third eldest nephew (her grandson) at the San Diego Museum of Art where we saw an amazing exhibit, Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. (I could see it again, even found material for the current chapter of my dissertation in the depictions on the various vases.)

My more liberal (and politically active) sister shares my passion; she is a first-rate mother.  And then there’s my San Francisco sister to whom I’ve become particularly close since I joined her in the Golden State.  She has become a good listener (and a good friend), sympathetic to my “plight” as a single man.  And her first-born is helping her learn the maternal skills her elder sister enjoys.

I say all this because I wonder if some of our critics, who often show the same passion for politics as does the elder (of my) sister(s), also have some of the qualities my liberal siblings possess, that they too are good brothers, sisters, devoted children or loving parents or like yours truly a doting uncle (or aunt).  I try sometimes to see through their harsh commentary to imagine the person beneath and hope sometimes that through posts like this one they can see the humanity behind my on-line political persona. (more…)

Gay Men Predisposed to be Good Uncles

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 11:40 am - February 12, 2010.
Filed under: Family,Gays / Homosexuality (general)

A very good lesbian friend of mine alerted me to an article proving that my affection for my nieces and nephews is natural:

A new study found that homosexual men may be predisposed to nurture their nieces and nephews as a way of helping to ensure their own genes get passed down to the next generation.

Weird that she should send this on the day before I set to spend a day with an “adoptive” niece at Disneyland.  Will make the day more enjoyable knowing that I’m only doing what comes naturally.  (Memo to self:  stop at ATM to get extra cash to make sure ice cream fund is fully replenished.)

Evolutionary psychologist Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Canada studied “group of men called fa’afafine on the Pacific island of Samoa.”  The fa’afafine are exclusively attracted to men:

The researchers surveyed about 300 fa’afafine, and found that they were significantly more likely to be altruistic toward their nieces and nephews than either single men or women, or mothers or fathers. The scientists call this behavior avuncular, or uncle-like.

Yeah, that sounds right.

And I just thought I was a nice guy.  Turns out it’s just my inherent avuncular abilities.

This is going to make Disneyland a whole lot more fun today, knowing my altruism is instinctual.

Obama’s Leadership Fail

Back when I was a lad, every summer our family loaded up the Chevy Suburban (or Ford Van which replaced it) and headed West or Northeast for a camping trip.  One year, we visited Wyoming, Montana and Alberta.  After hiking i Yellowstone National Park, our parents planned to take us to Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, but one of my younger brothers took ill. They changed the plans, we headed to Great Falls to seek medical attention.

A visit to a doctor and a few days rest at a local Holiday Inn and soon my brother was back to normal.

The lesson of this anecdote should be familiar to anyone who has found himself in a position of responsibility.  When the circumstances change, you need to change your plans.  My parents recognized that with my brother’s illness, we could not continue the trip as planned.

So too should Obama recognize that with increasing evidence of a growing terror threat and continuing uncertainty about the economy, he has to turn his attention from regulatory schemes like health care and cap and trade and focus on jobs and national security.

Sometimes, I wonder if the president pushed through such a massive “stimulus” at the outset of his Administration, assuming that releasing so much cash would be certain to create jobs.  The economy would pick up, allowing Democrats to focus on their pet big-government projects.

But, things didn’t work out as planned.

That’s why this Democrat needs to learn from FDR.  Had it not been for the wars in Europe and the Far East, had that Democrat bid for a third term in 1940, he likely would have lost the presidential contest that fall, to be known to history as an inspiring failure.  But, as the threat to Western Civilization grew, he pivoted to meet the emerging challenges.  Magazine covers notwithstanding, the latest Democrat to occupy the White House shows few signs of following in his illustrious predecessor’s footsteps.

The “stimulus” hasn’t worked.  He needs develop new and different programs to increase employment.

His national security team offered a ham-handed response to the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253.  He needs shake up that team and devote greater attention to the terrorist threat.   Obama, as Rudy Giuliani contends, may have “turned the corner” in his understanding of that threat, but he needs show that he has made countering it a priority. (more…)

You only find the perfect gifts when you’re not looking . . .

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:18 pm - December 23, 2009.
Filed under: Family,Holidays,Random Thoughts

I just returned from last minute holiday shopping, actually, even though I’m Jewish, I can actually call it Christmas shopping as I’ll be spending Christmas Day in San Francisco with my Mom, my sister, her husband and their son (the most important person in the Golden State whose adorable mug has appeared multiple times on this blog).

Given that my brother-in-law celebrates Christmas, word is there’ll be some kind of festivities at their home.  So, today, I made sure to buy presents for all and sundry.  Until this afternoon, I never fully realized how draining gift-buying and present-wrapping can be.  It may well have been that I had no idea what I was getting for anyone, save my brother-in-law, until I set out on my various errands.  The good news is that I was also able to find presents for a niece and nephew whose birthdays are coming up.

I did learn today that one should never go to Target two days before Christmas.  Farmer’s Market was manageable, but the Grove was hectic.  I did find gifts for all, things that relate to family member’s various passions, tastes and preferences, but, given how much I spent, regret that I didn’t find any “home-run” gifts.  I mean, I always try to get something perfect for someone, such that when they open it up, their face will light up, knowing that their uncle, brother or son knew what they loved, having bought something that they really wanted. (more…)

Happy Birthday, George Eliot! (Appreciating the Avuncular)

It is perhaps fitting that my youngest nephew celebrates his first birthday today (three days before the actual event) on the 113th anniversary of the birth of his great-great Aunt Ruth and the 190th anniversary of the birth of the greatest English novelist who ever lived, Mary Anne Evans Cross (AKA George Eliot).  For that great woman was particularly fond of children.  Almost all her novels end with the main character romping (or otherwise in the company of) his (or her) progeny.

Eliot understood childhood and the importance of a nurturing relationship between an adult and child.  And she even understood the importance of uncles.  At the close of Adam Bede, while Seth the brother to the novel’s eponymous hero did not marry the woman he loved, did delight in being uncle to her children.  Beckoned by his sister-in-law, Seth

. . . presently appeared stooping under the doorway, being taller than usual by the black head of a sturdy two-year-old nephew, who had caused some delay by demanding to be carried on uncle’s shoulder.

‘Better take him on thy arm, Seth,’ said Dinah, looking fondly at the stout black-eyed fellow.  ‘He’s troublesome to thee so.’

‘Nay, nay:  Addy likes a ride on my shoulder.  I can carry him so for a bit.’  A kindness which Addy acknowledged by drumming his heels with promising force against uncle Seth’s chest.  But to walk by Dinah’s side, and be tyrannised over by Dinah and Adam’s children, was uncle Seth’s earthly happiness.

Last year, at this time I watched the BBC version of Silas Marner (featuring Ben Kingsley) where Eliot tells how by adopting an abandoned child, the eponymous hero found meaning and joy in his life and a connection to his his community.

“It’s a lone thing; I’m a lone thing. . . . It’s come to me,” he says when others in the community tried to take the child from him.  Eliot so delighted in the effect of a child on an adult with an open heart:

She [that child] was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep–only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway.

In February when I was in San Francisco, my sister and her husband went for a run, leaving me to watch over my sleeping nephew.  I peered into the darkened room where he was asleep in his cradle and felt a similar awe, an awe I’ve felt in the presence of his many cousins.  Eliot had described something we grownups feel and have felt, perhaps for as long as members of our species could feel.

Such is the power of George Eliot’s prose, the images she invokes, the ideas she presents, the emotions she expresses. She helps us find words for our deepest thoughts and shows compassion for our everyday weaknesses. She seems to see into the troubles of all our lives and finds the balm in tender relations with our fellows.

Since I am borrowing from last year’s post to craft this one, this year I will once again cut and paste the piece I have posted in previous years:

There are holidays we all celebrate. And then there are the personal days, the anniversary of a wedding, the day we first met our beloved, the birthday of a friend, special relative or favorite writer. November 22 is one of those days for me. Not only does it mark the anniversary of the birth of a very dear great Aunt, my Aunt Ruth, who would have been 113 today, it is also the 190th anniversary of birth of the greatest English novelist, George Eliot.