Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?

By Charlotte Allen

Wowee! Here's a lady who is really letting the "sisters" down! I love it! Mainly because there is much truth in it

Here's Agence France-Presse reporting on a rally for Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Maryland on Feb. 11: "He did not flinch when women screamed as he was in mid-sentence, and even broke off once to answer a female's cry of 'I love you, Obama!' with a reassuring 'I love you back.' " Women screamed? What was this, the Beatles tour of 1964? And when they weren't screaming, the fair-sex Obama fans who dominated the rally of 16,000 were saying things like: "Every time I hear him speak, I become more hopeful." Huh?

"Women 'Falling for Obama,' " the story's headline read. Elsewhere around the country, women were falling for the presidential candidate literally. Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at Obama rallies since last September. And I thought such fainting was supposed to be a relic of the sexist past, when patriarchs forced their wives and daughters to lace themselves into corsets that cut off their oxygen.

I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?

I'm not the only woman who's dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It's a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can't believe that there's this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.

We exaggerate, of course. And obviously men do dumb things, too, although my husband has perfectly good explanations for why he eats standing up at the stove (when I'm not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I'm not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. When men do dumb things, though, they tend to be catastrophically dumb, such as blowing the paycheck on booze or much, much worse (think "postal"). Women's foolishness is usually harmless. But it can be so . . . embarrassing.

Take Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. By all measures, she has run one of the worst -- and, yes, stupidest -- presidential races in recent history, marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex. As far as I'm concerned, she has proved that she can't debate -- viz. her televised one-on-one against Obama last Tuesday, which consisted largely of complaining that she had to answer questions first and putting the audience to sleep with minutiae about her health-coverage mandate. She has whined (via her aides) like the teacher's pet in grade school that the boys are ganging up on her when she's bested by male rivals. She has wept on the campaign trail, even though everyone knows that tears are the last refuge of losers. And she is tellingly dependent on her husband.

Then there's Clinton's nearly all-female staff, chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy. Clinton finally fired her daytime-soap-watching, self-styled "Latina queena" campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, known for burning through campaign money and for her open contempt for the "white boys" in the Clinton camp. But stupidly, she did it just in time to alienate the Hispanic voters she now desperately needs to win in Texas or Ohio to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.

What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental? Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list. At the top of the paperback nonfiction chart and pitched to an exclusively female readership is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." Here's the book's autobiographical plot: Gilbert gets bored with her perfectly okay husband, so she has an affair behind his back. Then, when that doesn't pan out, she goes to Italy and gains 23 pounds forking pasta so she has to buy a whole new wardrobe, goes to India to meditate (that's the snooze part), and finally, at an Indonesian beach, finds fulfillment by -- get this -- picking up a Latin lover!

This is the kind of literature that countless women soak up like biscotti in a latte cup: food, clothes, sex, "relationships" and gummy, feel-good "spirituality." This female taste for first-person romantic nuttiness, spiced with a soup¨on of soft-core porn, has made for centuries of bestsellers -- including Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel "Pamela," in which a handsome young lord tries to seduce a virtuous serving maid for hundreds of pages and then proposes, as well as Erica Jong's 1973 "Fear of Flying."

Then there's the chick doctor television show "Grey's Anatomy" (reportedly one of Hillary Clinton's favorites). Want to be a surgeon? Here's what your life will be like at the hospital, according to "Grey's": sex in the linen-supply room, catfights with your sister in front of the patients, sex in the on-call room, a "prom" in the recovery room so you can wear your strapless evening gown to work, and sex with the married attending physician in an office. Oh, and some surgery. When was the last time you were in a hospital and spotted two doctors going at it in an empty bed?

I swear no man watches "Grey's Anatomy" unless his girlfriend forces him to. No man bakes cookies for his dog. No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club." No man contracts nebulous diseases whose existence is disputed by many if not all doctors, such as Morgellons (where you feel bugs crawling around under your skin). At least no man I know. Of course, not all women do these things, either -- although enough do to make one wonder whether there isn't some genetic aspect of the female brain, something evolutionarily connected to the fact that we live longer than men or go through childbirth, that turns the pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat.

Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women. The only good news was that women tended to take fewer driving risks than men, so their crashes were only a third as likely to be fatal. Those statistics were reinforced by a study released by the University of London in January showing that women and gay men perform more poorly than heterosexual men at tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness, both crucial to good driving.

The theory that women are the dumber sex -- or at least the sex that gets into more car accidents -- is amply supported by neurological and standardized-testing evidence. Men's and women's brains not only look different, but men's brains are bigger than women's (even adjusting for men's generally bigger body size). The important difference is in the parietal cortex, which is associated with space perception. Visuospatial skills, the capacity to rotate three-dimensional objects in the mind, at which men tend to excel over women, are in turn related to a capacity for abstract thinking and reasoning, the grounding for mathematics, science and philosophy. While the two sexes seem to have the same IQ on average (although even here, at least one recent study gives males a slight edge), there are proportionally more men than women at the extremes of very, very smart and very, very stupid.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I myself am a classic case of female mental deficiencies. I can't add 2 and 2 (well, I can, but then what?). I don't even know how many pairs of shoes I own. I have coasted through life and academia on the basis of an excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men. (An evolutionary just-so story explains this facility of ours: Back in hunter-gatherer days, men were the hunters and needed to calculate spear trajectories, while women were the gatherers and needed to remember where the berries were.) I don't mind recognizing and accepting that the women in history I admire most -- Sappho, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth I, George Eliot, Margaret Thatcher -- were brilliant outliers.

The same goes for female fighter pilots, architects, tax accountants, chemical engineers, Supreme Court justices and brain surgeons. Yes, they can do their jobs and do them well, and I don't think anyone should put obstacles in their paths. I predict that over the long run, however, even with all the special mentoring and role-modeling the 21st century can provide, the number of women in these fields will always lag behind the number of men, for good reason.

So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.


Egregious anti-Israel bias in the media

Keep repeating to yourself what the media institution's spokespeople tell us: Coverage is fair, coverage is fair, coverage is fair. But as you do so be sure not to look at the actual articles. Journalism has changed. It is a tool for advocacy. For a lot of reporters, writing articles is what they do instead of demonstrating or lobbying for a cause, and against another one. Behavior that twenty years ago would have been quickly condemned and resulted in either editorial changes or summary firings is accepted and defended routinely. Just look at the texts. They are so skewed that even while being horrified one wants to laugh at the clumsy and obvious tricks employed.

People's Exhibit 1: Steve Weizman, "Israel Keeps Palestinian Offices Shut," AP, February 22, 2008. This is a long article by AP standards, counting over 20 paragraphs. And like "Seinfeld," though with considerably less entertainment or moral value, it is about nothing. Why should Israel keeping shut "Palestinian Offices" be a story. After all, basically nothing happens? Because of the story's theme, that it is doing so "despite its pledge to reopen them under a recently revived peace plan...." Oh, I left out the rest of the sentence: "...Palestinian officials said Thursday." Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that Israel has violated a pledge. It is only, because Palestinian officials say so.

A few days ago, the Australian Broadcasting Company ran a whole story accusing Israel of facilitating drug smuggling into the West Bank to undermine Palestinian society. There was no proof, only the assertions of Palestinians. Aside from resembling historic antisemitic blood libels, this story makes no sense, as any reporter should be able to ascertain in sixty seconds. After all, Israel is trying to keep the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) government in power, not destroy it. Israeli government officials never criticize Fatah or the PA; it is a matter of official policy. But who cares?

And you might remember the claim that some years back Israel committed massacres in Jenin. Even the UN eventually discounted that tale. But what people forget is that the original stories were based on one Palestinian being interviewed, not even an official but a man who no one had ever heard of and who afterward seems to have disappeared.

Most recently, Israel was falsely accused of cutting off almost all of the Gaza Strip's electrical power at a time when there were virtually no reductions. But an official of the Hamas regime was the only source needed to make this assertion.

So the reporters and editors can defend themselves: they did have a source after all. The problem is their wilful intention to believe sources that have every interest in lying, have a track record of doing so, and offer no proof or make illogical and unsupported claims.

Regarding the Weizman article, I have read it over and over and over again. There's one problem: there is no mention of any Israeli pledge to open the offices. Let me say that again: not only do the Palestinians (or the reporter) not prove there was any such pledge, it isn't even mentioned. If the system operated properly, the article would be withdrawn, a correction would be issued, and how such things happen would be investigated. This won't happen. Here is what the article says:

"With the resumption of peace talks, the Palestinians say these places should reopen. The U.S.-backed ``road map' peace plan, the basis for negotiations, calls on Israel to "`reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem.'"

And the road map also says that Palestinians should stop terrorism but we are not seeing long articles about that fact. Of course, the plan is in several stages and implementation has not really started. No pledge was made; no pledge has been violated. Oh yes, a few lines before the bottom, deeply buried under a headline and weighty paragraphs that state how terrible is Israel's violation the article sticks in a little sentence: "Neither side has met its obligations."

Why not bother to write an article saying both sides haven't met obligations. Let's see, Israel allows some settlement construction; the Palestinians incite and allow terrorist attacks, don't punish terrorists afterward, and incite in official media for killing Israelis and wiping Israel off the map. Yep, the problem is definitely Israel closing the east Jerusalem offices.

What the article also doesn't mention is that the Palestinian side promised in the 1993 Oslo agreement, the basis for everything that has happened since, that the PA would notA engage in political activity in east Jerusalem. The Orient House, the most important office closed, was owned and run by Faisal Husseini who when he died was PA minister for Jerusalem affairs. In other words, the Palestinian commitment was openly violated. Readers are not at all told about this factor. Why? So that Israel's actions seem arbitrary and unreasonable.

Yet despite that violation, in order to help along the peace process Israel allowed the place to function most of the time in the 1990s. Only in 2001, when the PA went to war with Israel, was the office closed. Having an official office in your capital used by the party waging terror attacks on you to recruit people and gather intelligence doesn't seem a great idea. These points are alluded to generally but not explained in the article. Thus, the article actually states, but does not analyze, this amazing paragraph:

"`As the PLO Headquarters in the occupied city, the Orient House aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state,'" the center's Web site says.

Note that the institution itself doesn't even call itself a PA but a PLO institution. But you have to read almost 20 paragraphs down to find that out. So why should Israel reopen the offices? Here's where you need a sense of humor because the article is so blatant it doesn't even see the absurdity of its own language:

"When Orient House was shut down, Israel said it would only withdraw if the Palestinian Authority, today headed by Abbas, promised not to operate there. [Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem] Abdel Khader said the Palestinians had given the necessary assurances."

So why should Israel reopen Orient House? Because Palestinian officials have promised they would not use it as an official PLO (then why haven't they changed the website?), PA, and Fatah headquarters. Oh, they promised. But they repeatedly promised and broke those promises in the past, though the article does not hint at this.

Is this article and issue important? No, but the same principles are being applied in writing dozens, nay, hundreds of articles. And they add up to slandering and demonizing Israel on a daily basis, as well as debasing the noble profession of journalism. Let me just mention one more example very briefly to show how this process could continue at length. Mohammed Daraghmeh, "Palestinian Gunmen Swap Arms for Amnesty, February 25, 2008. While this is a pretty factual article, there is still at its analytical core an article in keeping with the usual narrative. While it cites a number of statistics, the key paragraph is this:

"....A skeptical Israel says gunmen from [Fatah's] Al Aqsa [Brigades] and other groups still pose a real threat. Dismantling armed groups is at the center of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attempt to control the West Bank and gain credibility as a leader who can implement a future peace deal with Israel."

What the article doesn't say is something significant regarding each of these two points: First, Israel has released specifics about many amnestied gunmen who have returned to terrorism. It isn't just skeptical, it has reason to be and the reader could have been told this. Second, dismantling armed groups may be "at the center" of Abbas' claimed policy. He just never does it and this can easily be documented.

This kind of critique is not nit-picking. The same emphases are repeated over and over again, always pointed in one direction and always against the other. Generally, the media ignores such criticism. It must do so, assuming an abandonment of historic responsibility and ethics, because on examination of the evidence this case cannot be refuted. By the way, didn't the media pledge to at least strive strenuously to be fair?


Republic of Fear: Welcome to Germany

Germany invented socialism and it wants more

Your heart rate sinks, muscles stiffen, you lose control of bodily functions: You're frozen with fear. This primal reflex to danger is a familiar phenomenon in nature but it's less common for it to strike nearly all of a political class in a democracy. Barely 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall -- an event that was celebrated at the time as a triumph of freedom and hope over despair -- the united country today is frozen with fear. It's as if the East Germans have exacted a delayed revenge on their brothers and sisters in the West: Your political model may have won, but we'll infect your society by reviving militant antimilitarism, a yearning for security at all cost, and a craze for distributive justice -- until the whole country is paralyzed.

Four electoral shocks in the recent past have made a deep impression on Germans. First of all, the 2002 Bundestag elections. At the time, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder looked all but defeated. His coalition of Social Democrats and Greens had been unable, despite their firm promises, to lower the unemployment rate. But then they saved themselves with thunderous anti-Iraq war propaganda, playing upon strong anti-American resentments. They laid the groundwork for a new, left-wing German national consciousness that had not previously existed because of the country's Nazi past. "For the first time, I'm proud to be a German," went the refrain -- proud to have resisted a war that no one had asked them to join in the first place. Mr. Schroeder ultimately won the election.

Since then the Bundeswehr has nevertheless been deployed abroad, but it's taboo to publicly defend these missions -- let alone give them some teeth. Just don't talk about it. In Afghanistan, for example, German soldiers are not allowed to fight in the dangerous south, which has rightly caused displeasure among other NATO members. But no German government would ever change this; the shock of 2002 has silenced all reasonable debate. Better to sacrifice NATO and give up on the fight against terrorism than advocate such unpopular notions as solidarity with one's allies.

Then came the Bundestag elections in 2005. This time, a resounding victory for the Christian Democrats, led by Angela Merkel, was practically assured. But Mrs. Merkel made the mistake of overestimating her countrymen's sense of reality. She announced economic reforms, which were urgently necessary, but was consequently accused of neo-liberalism. On the German scale of negatives, that one comes right after fascism. For no matter how bad the Germans have it, they may want energetic action, but no change. "Two souls live in my chest," Goethe's Faust complained about the two-sided nature of his personality. Mrs. Merkel's comfortable lead melted away. Instead of a reform-minded coalition with the Free Democratic Party, she was forced into a "grand" standstill coalition with the Social Democrats. So the preliminary result of these two electoral shocks: No more war. No more reforms.

The third dramatic election happened at the state level in late January of this year. In Hesse, the incumbent governor Roland Koch ran as the Christian Democrats' last prominent conservative: strongly principled, polarizing, rough in speech. He ran his campaign accordingly. He fulminated about the high crime rate among immigrant youth and revived the old conservative slogan: freedom not socialism. The result? Mr. Koch's campaign collapsed and he lost 12 percentage points compared with his showing in 2003. So the third lesson: No more freedom. Anyone who asks Germans to choose between freedom and socialism risks their choosing the latter.

Which brings us to the fourth and final electoral shock that's paralyzing the German political class. It's actually a number of smaller shocks. Next to the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and the Free Democrats, a fifth party is establishing itself in Germany, apparently inexorably: the Left Party. Various forces cavort in this party -- communists, socialists, pacifists, protest voters, disappointed Social Democrats. In East Germany, the Left Party has been firmly established since 1990, and surveys even show it to be the strongest party there today. Now they have also entered every regional parliament in the last four elections in West Germany.

In other European countries, radical leftist parties are nothing special. In Germany, however, their representatives inherit the traditions of East Germany: the Wall, shoot-to-kill orders, dictatorship. This makes a coalition with them particularly distasteful. Should yesterday's victims once again be governed by their former tormentors? On the other hand, the Left Party's slogans are extremely popular: Out of Afghanistan! More justice! Better protection from layoffs! Across-the-board minimum wages! No university fees! No privatization of state-owned companies! On all these points, surveys show the ultraleft in sync with a majority of Germans.

What to do? Frozen in fear, the Social Democrats are helpless. They stare at the radical left like a rabbit at a snake. No recipe seems to work. Give the Left responsibility, in order to take the shine off its demagogy? A mistake, as can be seen in Berlin's city hall. In the German capital, the Left Party has for years now unabashedly shared local government powers with the Social Democrats, without reducing their national attractiveness.

Isolate the Left Party and reject coalitions with it? Also a mistake, as its recent successes in West Germany prove. So the Social Democrats hem and haw and swing back and forth between the two strategies. In the meantime, they are taking on the Left's themes, becoming more similar in substance. Germany's Social Democrats are abandoning any sort of "Third Way." They have broken with the Schroeder legacy. But because the original is always more authentic than the copy, this doesn't do them any electoral good, either.

This will not be without consequences for the federal government. The more the Social Democrats drift to the left, the more quickly the Christian Democrats push into the now wide-open center. There they act demonstratively unconservative, cuddly, impartial. In order to be identified with any content at all, Chancellor Merkel has fled into the ideologically safe subject of climate change. Germans and environmental protection: That always works. And it is the only gap left in the ultraleft's program.

It's been said that grand coalitions strengthen the margins. This rule also applies to Germany, though as a paradox. Although the government follows leftist policies (from a three-percentage-point increase in the value added tax to minimum wages for postal workers), it is the ultraleft that has become stronger.

Germany's political class is stunned by this effect. Those who become rigid with fear hope they won't be discovered by their predators. But this instinct designed to ensure survival can quickly spell their doom. Once discovered, motionless as they are, they become very easy prey.


Christians ordered to pay big bucks - for praying!

Lawyers for a team of Christians convicted of disorderly conduct for praying at a "gay" fest in a public park in Elmira, N.Y., are promising an appeal of the verdict that left them with $100 fines. Joel Oster, of the Alliance Defense Fund, said an appeal will be filed in Chemung County court for Julian and Gloria Raven, Maurice Kienenberger and Walter Quick, all of Elmira, who were ordered to pay $95 apiece in court costs in addition to the $100 fines. Oster told the Star-Gazette newspaper that the police in the United States simply are not supposed to arrest people if someone else may be upset by their message.

The Supreme Court has ruled in cases involving "sit-in" protests, he said, that authorities cannot arrest blacks just because they were making white people angry. "The police have a duty to protect the speaker," he told the court, according to the Star-Gazette. "Choosing to exercise your First Amendment rights in a public place is not a crime," Oster said just before going into the trial.

At issue is the arrest of seven Christians at a "gay pride" event in Wisner Park in Elmira in 2007. Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior. Charges against three later were dropped, and only the four went to trial. Officials with the ADF noted that the materials advertising the event said everyone was invited and it was open to the public. "The group did not draw a disorderly response from event participants," the ADF said.

According to the newspaper report, Police Sgt. Sharon Moyer told the court she warned Julian Raven that his rights at the event were limited. He earlier said she had told him not to cross the street, go into the park or talk to anyone. "He said he was there to preach the word of God," Moyer told the court, the newspaper reported. "I explained he was welcome to be there (at the festival), but he would not be allowed to confront the participants." She accused the street preacher of being antagonistic.

Raven, however, said it was Moyer who was "aggressive from the get-go" and said her orders amounted to a deprivation of his rights. "It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace," Oster said of the case earlier. "From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places."

The ADF said the issues are no less than the freedoms of speech and religion. "If this violation of these Christians' rights is allowed to stand, the First Amendment rights of all people of faith are in jeopardy," the ADF said.

When the Christians were arrested, officials with Elmira justified their actions to WND. Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson told WND that the members were accused of a "combination" of allegations, including the "intent" to cause a public inconvenience, a "disturbance" of a meeting of persons and obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic. He also said at the time that the accusations would include taking part in "any act that serves no legitimate purpose." Elmira City Judge Thomas Ramich's conclusion found that in order to prevent participants in the "gay" festival from being upset, the city was correct to arrest the Christians. The newspaper reported he called Raven reckless for even going to the park.

The prosecutor, Robert Siglin, said the city was concerned for public safety, and that's why the Christians were arrested. During closing arguments he said speech freedoms don't matter when "public order" is an issue.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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