This Says It All, And Then Some.

Palin: The Undefeated

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“I want to be the one to walk in the sun,” Cyndi Lauper explains in “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” a pop cultural artifact that mystically embodies the spirit of Sarah Palin’s fierce determination and authentic American voice that captured the hearts and minds of so many of us burgeoning Tea Partiers way back when. Or so we think.

Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jedediah Bila: “Elitism is what’s eating away at our country”

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Like many of her admirers, we first came upon leg-chair lovely Jedediah Bila early one morning in the “take-no-prisoners” parry and thrust of Greg Gutfeld’s “Red Eye” on Fox.

By Sissy Willis of sisu

“I always have thought that elitism — on the left and the right — is what’s eating away at our country,” writes “Hot Conservative American” columnist and commentator Jedediah Bila in her new book, Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative, an album of anecdotal moments in the making of a “conservative girl with a twist.”

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“I followed my heart — as always — and have held dear the wise words of my former college professor to “sit down, trust it, and write” when I feel lost. It never disappoints me,” Jedediah explains the eureka moment in March of 2009 when “my focus on writing political commentary was born.”

It’s a fun and easy read — sweet and savory — and sticks to the ribs. We downloaded Outnumbered onto our desktop Kindle app yesterday morning and finished before cocktail hour, devouring tasty morsels amongst the usual multitaskings of a busy day. Arranged as a series of vignettes based upon everyday encounters with the politically correct multiculturalists of the upperclass milieu she moved in as a Spanish teacher at a Manhattan private school, Jedediah’s story is full of aphoristic quotable quotes suitable for promulgating on Twitter. A sampling:

Kids are supposed to go to school to learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

I learned that what people say about you has a lot more to do with them than with you.

It’s incredible how a mind prone to collectivism will quickly try to impose that same branding on you.

I treasure people who come to this country with big goals, loads of ambition and an inspiring work ethic.

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“They felt the need to ‘remind’ me that Obama is a ‘genius,’ Palin is an ‘idiot,’ and anything and everything is George W. Bush’s fault,” Jedediah recalled sitting through lockstep faculty-lounge chatter in the aftermath of President Obama’s election.

Back to that quote in the title to our post:

I always have thought that elitism — on the left and the right — is what’s eating away at our country.

Jedediah’s insight resonates in a series of eureka moments of our own dating back, perhaps, to those early days in early spring of 2009 when we found our voice as an anti-statist Tea Party activist. As we wrote last year in “Gramsci’s long march through the institutions ends at the water’s edge“:

Then came Angelo Codevilla’s palate-cleansing revelation that neither statist democrats nor nominally limited-government republicans gave a darn about the electorate. It was the Ruling Class vs the Country Class. Enter stage right the Tea Party and Barbara Bush’s unmasking when she revealed her contempt for you and me. And now the cascade of outrageous intrusions on our Bill of Rights.

“I thought the academic elite were supposed to represent the pinnacle of sophistication?” notes Jedediah in mock surprise:

Oh, wait. That’s only when they agree with you.

William Staneski observed the phenomenon — a case of “epistemic closure‘ in the trendy parlance of the day — as it applies to another of our cultural institutions, the media — in an American Thinker piece awhile back:

It is said that a fish is not aware of the water in which it swims since it is totally immersed in it. This is the way cultural Marxism is taking over our world in its inexorable Gramscian march. We swim in it. It enters every pore of our existence. It is everywhere. We can’t escape it. Many people accept this world without even realizing it, just as the fish accepts the water in which it swims. They don’t realize it as the left creates new conventional wisdom and new intuitions about truth …

Curiously, whereas the conservative media know they are conservative, much of the liberal media believe themselves to be neutral.

Their constant support for Democratic views has nothing to do with bias, in their minds, but reflects the fact that Democrats just happen to be right about everything. The result is the same: for much of the media, the fact that Republicans keep winning can only be due to the backwardness of much of the country.

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“Perhaps Mark Levin said it best when speaking of his dog Sprite in his touching book, Rescuing Sprite: ‘But the truth is, Sprite did more for us than we ever could have done for him.’ I feel exactly the same way about Emma,” Jedediah wrote at her blog a few months back about her precious Maltese Emma, featured in a portfolio of images in the final pages of Outnumbered. “She has taught me more about trust, loyalty, commitment, and honesty than I could ever have dreamt of teaching her.”

Crossposted at sisuRiehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

The supporting role of political spouse did not suit Ms. Taylor

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“When a man loves a woman . . . Sen. John Warner has no shame, as his absurd marriage to Liz Taylor in 1976 (above) and his pathetic attempt at intimidating Lt. General David Petraeus yesterday attest,” we captioned this image of Liz and her sixth back in January of 2007. (©2005 TopFoto / AP)

By Sissy Willis of sisu

Chelsea, March 23, 2011. In recognition of the splendiferous, eminently quotable — “I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotions” — Elizabeth Taylor’s passing from this vale of tears this day, a republication of our January 2007 post confirming her sensible decision to divorce Husband #6 John Warner when she realized it was all about him:

Many regarded Ms. Taylor’s glamour as a chief reason for the relatively unknown Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, getting a Senate seat in 1978. The supporting role as political spouse did not suit Ms. Taylor, and she returned to a life where she was undoubtedly the main attraction.

Our four-year-old post resonates. Plus ça change:

Chelsea, January 24, 2007.Addressing the crisis in leadership among American boys and young men” was the topic of pc-lite Esquire author Tom Chiarella’s brave new article last summer, “The Problem with Boys.” The soon-to-be commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, Lt. General David Petraeus, was one of the earnest author’s expert witnesses. We stumbled upon the thoughtful if somewhat annoyingly naive piece as we were getting up to speed on the man of the hour that Thomas P.M. Barnett in another Esquire article called “the closest thing the Army has to its own Lawrence of Arabia.” Chiarella skirts delicately around the edges of the insidious Marxist feminist anti-boys-will-be-boys movement of the last few decades that has turned Mother Nature’s “snakes and snails and puppy dogs’ tails” into carriers of a “disorder” that must be kept at bay by the administration of Ritalin and other inadequately tested drugs that kill the soul and may precipitate murderous acts [see Columbine]. Speaking of a young, rudderless friend named Gerald, Ciarella — seemingly channeling John “Stuck-in-Iraq” Kerry — writes:

He’s got no way to grab on to the culture of work. Nowhere to go, except Iraq maybe. They keep raising the bonus for enlistment; they keep tempting him to put himself in the mix. I always think he’s a bag of flesh to them, a bullet stopper.

Reading that military-culture-challenged bit of drivel, we gagged and nearly clicked away in disgust, but remembering that Lt. General Petraeus had brought us to the site, we read on and were duly rewarded with Chiarella’s reportage of the General’s take:

I tell him about the boys I know, about how I’m concerned that the Army may be the only option for a kid like Gerald. “That’s the problem,” he says. “It may not be an option for him. We have a profile we’re looking for; we need high school graduates who are physically fit and driven by the desire for self-improvement. We need men who are prepared to be better soldiers.

“I see the same things you do. The numbers are declining among boys,” he says, clearing his throat. “I always call them men.

“What boys need,” says Petraeus, “are role models, parental supervision, encouragement to pursue excellence in all that they do, especially in education, where we must do whatever is necessary to keep them in school.” Old stuff, but tried and true and often lost amidst today’s multiculti pc cacaphony:

They need direction to stay on the straight and narrow, a push to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities, help to pursue a healthy lifestyle, recognition that they must be accountable for their actions, and reinforcement of good performance.

We couldn’t help but think of those aging Peter-Pan boys — and girls — in the Senate who made such fools of themselves yesterday when they bypassed the opportunity to ask General Petraeus to educate them — and us — with his vast store of knowledge about the subject at hand, the “way forward” in Iraq. Instead they used the opportunity of Petraeus’s confirmation hearing to — what else? — grandstand at will. Our favorite exchange came after Sen. Lieberman asked Petraeus whether Senate resolutions condemning White House Iraq policy “would give the enemy some comfort”:

Petraeus agreed they would, saying, “That’s correct, sir.”

Liz Taylor’s ex, Sen. John Warner, went ballistic, warning Petraeus not to step on prima donnas’ toes:

We’re not a division here today of patriots who support the troops and those who are making statements and working on resolutions that could be translated as aiding and abetting the enemy. We’re trying to exercise the fundamental responsibilities of our democracy and how this nation has two co-equal branches of the government, each bearing its own responsibilities.

I hope that this colloquy has not entrapped you into some responses that you might later regret. I wonder if you would just give me the assurance that you’ll go back and examine the transcript as to what you replied with respect to certain of these questions and review it, because we want you to succeed.

We expect intimidation from the left and from campaign finance “reform” types like John McCain. How disappointing to see John Warner going wobbly when the going gets tough. As Gen. Petraeus told Esquire author Tom Chiarella, “We have a profile we’re looking for.” Would that our fellow citizens who vote these people into office had such standards.

Crossposted at sisu,  Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Palin Envy, a freudian diagnosis for our cojones-challenged GOP establishment?

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I’m interested in the gratuitous disparagement of men whose looks and personal style fail to track the masculine stereotype,” Ann Althouse (above) took Rush Limbaugh to task this morning over his sissy-laced rant about Wikileaker Julian Assange: “I like Rush Limbaugh and have defended him many times, in front of people who tend to hate you if you say anything good about him, so I think my opinion on the subject has special weight … And let me invite Rush to … diavlog with me about the so-called chickification problems that plague our world today.” Video here.

“Loved this that you told the Big Guy,” we wrote in the comments of Althouse’s incandescent, must-experience video-post “Here I am listening — for the first time — to Rush Limbaugh talking about me“:

“To say men are like women when they’re being cowardly and weak. I don’t like it … Also, some chickification is a good thing. Women have a lot to offer. Think about it.”

Exactly. As we wrote a few months back about the so-called feminization of our culture:

It isn’t “feminization” at all, but, rather, postmodern, identity-politics “feminism” — one of a cascade of unfortunate byproducts of the Gramscian march through the institutions — that has given us an increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses of both sexes.

Twittering this morning about the latest effluence from that impotent chattering class — MSNBC’s “house conservative” Joe Scarborough’s Journolist/Cabalist temper tantrum about Sarah Palin’s “anti-intellectual”‘ and “dopey dream” of being president, and how come nobody’s paying attention to me!? (h/t Dan Riehl) — we stumbled upon this seductive metaphor from Lisa B:

Now we have a new psychological disorder in addition to Palin Derangement Syndrome. Palin Envy is rampant! Paging Dr. Sigmund Freud! 🙂

As we said in response:

Your Freudian “PALIN ENVY” is brilliant, by the way, given the cojones-challenged state of our GOP establishment. 🙂

Crossposted at sisuRiehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Gramsci’s long march through the institutions ends at the water’s edge

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The naked truth: The conservative Swiss People’s Party “has produced a provocative anti-immigration campaign in which a photograph of naked young models wading into Lake Zurich is contrasted with an image of headscarf-wearing Muslim women bathing in filthy water.” Arresting imagery meant to warn what will happen to the country if immigration is left unchecked. In our view they could have skipped the secondary image of the covey of covered crones and let the lake-wading lovelies stand alone as an in-your-face message to those who would impose Sharia law on a free society.

By Sissy Willis of sisu

Oh, the irony. Antonio Gramsci turns out to have been right all along, but not in the way he envisioned. The slow statist creep of the Marxist philosopher’s “long march through the institutions” that was to have empowered the great unwashed at the expense of the powers that be seemed to be going so well, as we wrote five years back in “The Tocquevillians strike back“:

While America slept — or rather, while it was going about its business — Gramscian thinking, like sewage leaking out of a cracked drainpipe into the surrounding soil, has seeped into major sectors of our civil society — the law, foundations, universities and corporations among others. Fonte provides horrifying examples of how “major American social policy has come to be based not on Judeo-Christian precepts nor on Kantian-Enlightenment ethics, but on Gramscian and Hegelian-Marxist concepts of group power.

The grievance industry and its handmaiden political correctness, enabled by big-government initiatives from both sides of the aisle, had zombified great swathes of the electorate to enable the forces of darkness to enter the temple:

The theory claims that the ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.

Then came Angelo Codevilla’s palate-cleansing revelation that it was neither statist democrats nor nominally limited-government republicans who gave a darn about the electorate. It was the Ruling Class vs the Country Class. Enter stage right the Tea Party and Barbara Bush’s unmasking when she revealed her contempt for you and me. And now the cascade of outrageous intrusions on our Bill of Rights.

Crossposted at sisuRiehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Message to Peggy Noonan: Girls just wanna have fun

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Today we completed one pledge and we began another,” says Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee: “Many months ago House Republicans committed and pledged to listen to Americans all across this country… We kept that pledge, and it allows us to make another. The Pledge to America starts with the preamble that reminds us that every American citizen is endowed with certain rights from their creator. When our government charts a course that endangers those rights, the people have the right to demand a new agenda from their government.”

By Sissy Willis of sisu

“This election is more and more shaping up into a contest between the Exhausted and the Enraged,” writes Northeast Corridor Conservative Peggy Noonan, once again almost grasping the spirit that animates this Army of Davids. As we wrote last summer, “Tea Party to Peggy Noonan: It’s not rage, but disgust!” This time, the former Reagan speechwriter and author of the transcendent “thousand points of light” decided to listen instead of pontificate. Her telephone conversation with Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is a revelation:

But Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggests I have the wrong word for the Republican base. The word, she says, is not enraged but “livid” …

There are two major developments, she says, that are new this year and insufficiently noted, but they’re going to shape election outcomes in 2010 and beyond.

The question is which is to be master,” as we blogged the other day, and Blackburn is taking no prisoners:

First, Washington is being revealed in a new way.

The American people now know, “with real sophistication,” everything that happens in the capital. “I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time response,” Ms. Blackburn says. “We hear about it even as the vote is taking place” …

The Internet isn’t just a tool for organiztion and fund-raising. It has given citizens access to information they never had before. “The more they know,” Ms. Blackburn observes, “the less they like Washington.”

It’s that effervescent disintermediation of the powers that be via the internet that we are forever flogging here. Blackburn closes in for the kill:

Second is the rise of women as a force. They “are the drivers in this election cycle,” Ms. Blackburn says. “Something is going on.” At tea party events the past 18 months, she started to notice “60% of the crowd is women.”

She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to her, she was holding him. “I said, ‘How many of you are grandmothers?’ The hands! That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political events now are women. I saw this in town halls in ’09 — it was women showing up at my listening events, it was women talking about health care.”

Blackburn casts the “rise of women as a force” in terms of “the Rage of the Bill-Paying Moms,” and she’s right as far as what Noonan calls “a change in national thinking regarding the role of the individual and the government.” But don’t discount what may be an even more fundamental dynamic at play: “Girls just wanna have fun.”

Update: Instalanche! Thanks for the spelling correction, Professor. 😀

Message To Peggy Noonan: Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

Want to, want to

Update II: Michelle Malkin “Buzzworthy” link! They just want to, that’s all!

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

TIME magazine ends debate on the war in Afghanistan?

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Leaving Afghanistan: “Zohal Sagar lost her father and two brothers in the war. Her mother hopes they can leave Afghanistan and find a new life in Canada,” TIME captions this bitterweet image of one of the innocent victims of war. But it gets oh so much worse. Their cover image will haunt you forever unless you’re a moral relativist like Editor Peter Stengel, who makes a fine point of assuring us he isn’t taking sides (see below).

By Sissy Willis of sisu

We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it,” protests TIME Managing Editor Peter Stengel, sending the moral relativist’s “secret signal” even as he has decided to go ahead and publish what’s got to be the best argument ever — the image itself — for staying the course in Afghanistan:

Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years. Her picture is accompanied by a powerful story by our own Aryn Baker on how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival.

Asked for comment on the plight of women in Afghanistan — presumably not yet having seen TIME’s cover portrait of Aisha — former National Organization for Women President Ellie Smeal had this to say, according to a Washington Times report:

The future of Afghan women “has just dropped out of all public discourse. What happens with females over and over again is we’re forgotten.”

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Caption from our June 2 post “An increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses“: “Palin isn’t a feminist — not in the slightest,” huffs card-carrying postmodern feminist Jessica Valenti of the blog Feministing, stumbling inadvertently onto the truth that will soon send her and her sob sisters tumbling into the dustbin of history: “What she calls ‘the emerging conservative feminist identity’ isn’t a structural analysis of patriarchal norms. It’s an empty rallying call to women who are disdainful of or apathetic to women’s rights.”

Try telling that to Sarah Palin and her Army of Mama Grizzlies, Ms. Smeal. Woman as victim? That’s SO yesterday. “She’s playing the “woman card,” notes Tuck. Yet more proof if needed that postmodern feminists are on the wrong side of history.

Our friend Peter Ingemi of Da Tech Guy’s Blog has action steps:

That TIME magazine cover … should be put up every time the debate on the war takes place.

Note. Despite its bad press under the recent ramming down the nation’s throat of ObamaCare, the best medicine in the world is still being practiced in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as TIME Managing Editor Stengel acknowledges, in spite of himself:

To learn more about Aisha, and how an NGO is helping her get reconstructive surgery in the United States, go to Women for Afghan Women.

Update: This just in on Twitter as we were about to publish, from twitterfriend Paul Levitt:

A friend spent several months in Afghanistan last year teaching traditional songs to women and kids … Told me of people crying at being able to sing again — the Taliban killed anyone who sang, played music.

It isn’t just for the women. It’s for our very humanity that we must win the war in Afghanistan.

Update II: Trending on Memeorandum.

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Cedra Crenshaw vs King Samir Shabazz: The hand that rocks the cradle?

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I am up against the same machine that put Barack Obama in office. The machine came in, they wiped all of his competitors off the ballot, just like they’re trying to do to me,” grassroots Illinois state senate candidate Cedra Crenshaw told an Independence Day audience Saturday,” drawing her secret weapon: “They can’t call me a  racist, white, evil man.” You can donate to her legal defense fund here.

By Sissy Willis of sisu

“You hear so much about conservative women leading this conservative movement in this country, and I really believe that conservative women are the most persecuted figures in politics right now,” says Dana Loesch in a refreshingly candid Dana Show radio interview — crossposted at BreitbartTV — with “mama grizzly” Cedra Crenshaw. Does the hand that rocks the cradle still rule the world? More about that in a moment, but first a few excerpts from the interview:

She’s a wife, she’s a stay-at-home mom, she’s an education reformer, she’s an accountant, and she was fed up, and so she threw her hat in the ring.

She has enormous support from the grassroots movement, and she has terrified the Chicago Machine, who is trying to move heaven and earth to get her off the ticket.

The Tea Partiers love her. Listen to the Dana Show interview and her Independence Day speech, and you will understand the smart, common-sense appeal of this authentic American voice. Fellow Illinois Republican Adam Andrzejewski at Big Government has more:

Why is the machine afraid? Because a new class of leadership is starting to develop. These new leaders threaten to end the shell game of taxes, politics, and patronage. Cedra Crenshaw is one of those new leaders, and she’s is running for state senate against one of the Chicago Machine’s rubber-stamp apparatchiks.

She’s an accountant who wants to spearhead a forensic audit of Illinois state government. A former auditor at Deloitte and Touche, Cedra supports an audit of the half a trillion dollars of Democrat-controlled state spending during the blow-off historic corruption of Blagojevich/Quinn. The Democrat Machine — contractors, politicians, and patronage army — stand in naked fear of the result that such an audit would bring.

“The mainstream media is completely ignoring you,” Loesch notes, “because you defy their narrative of what conservatism is.” Crenshaw agrees, but with new-media avenues like the Dana Show itself, Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, fire-breathing bloggers and twitterers and Tea Party energizers, she’s been able to disintermediate the media powers-that-be to get her narrative across loud and clear:

People in this state, they want jobs. They want economic growth. They’re not interested in more handouts and more promises … My opponent, he’s got no solutions except more tax increases.

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While uniters like Cedra Crenshaw are pursuing the American Dream, dividers like New Black Panther Party Philadelphia chapter leader “King Samir Shabazz” (at 2009 street festival above) pursue the nightmare part of Myron Magnet’s The Dream and the Nightmare: “I hate white people. All of them! Every last iota of a cracker, I hate him! You want freedom? You’re going to have to kill some crackers! You’re going to have to kill some of their babies.” Whatever gets you on the evening news. Shabazz was caught on tape intimidating voters at the polls in November of 2008, but in his infinite and inscrutable wisdom, Attorney General Eric Holder is dropping charges.

Contrasting the public faces of Cedra Crenshaw and King Samir Shabaz, the words of William Blake’s The Tyger” come to mind: Did he who made the Lamb make thee? We found a timely interpretation of the riddle in Juliette Akinye’s provocative and insightful blogpost “Scarred Souls: More About Abortion” (h/t twitter buddy King Shamus of Blog de KingShamus), where the blogger AKA Baldilocks casts the old-fashioned notion of women as civilizers of men in a contemporary light:

There might be a little preaching. That’s an essential part of me. He’s a part of me…

All women should stop creating the exterior and — more importantly — the interior conditions under which abortion is an option. And by that I mean that all women should stop giving themselves to men who they are not sure will love, cherish and protect them and any prospective offspring they may create by having sex with each other …

You see, there’s this thing about women, a thing that makes us different from men, aside from the physical aspects. When we lie down with a man, we are giving him more than physical pleasure and doing more than gaining physical pleasure for ourselves.

When a woman has sex with a man, she joins her soul with him [For those of a more scientific bent, it’s a matter of chemistry — oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone“] …

Think about all the illegitimate black children there are in America and think about the fact that black women have the highest rate of abortion of any women in America. That statistic says that there are very many black women who are giving themselves to men who don’t care about them.

Here’s the kicker that illuminates the disjunct between Cedra Crenshaw’s and King Samir Shabazz’s American dreams:

And, on top of that, we can take these effects and mirror them onto black men, too many of whom are angry at the world, angry at black women, and angry at themselves (black-on-black crime). That anger almost always stems from observing or experiencing the spiritual, moral and worldly failure of their mothers.

It’s the nanny state, stupid! The unintended consequences of the debilitating dependency fostered by those handouts Cedra Crenshaw’s supporters want no more of.

Update: Related thoughts and video from Ed Morrissey:

“Mama grizzlies” actually fits better in the Tea Party movement, which I’ve argued is driven in the main by activist women. These are women with families who aren’t focused on what government can do for them, but what government should be doing, period. They’re defending their turf rather than looking for handouts, and defending their children from expansionist government and the massive spending that their children’s children will have to repay. It’s a good brand to stake out for Palin, but she’s been doing that all along with the Tea Party movement (as has Michele Bachmann). This just puts a label on it, and one that sounds much more assertive than “soccer moms” did.

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

“She Has Had No Role in My Life Except…”

. . . to keep me sane, fed, housed, amused, and protected from unwanted telephone calls. Also to restrain me fairly frequently from making a horse’s ass of myself in public, to force me to attend to books and ideas from which she knows I will learn something; also to mend my wounds when I am misused by the world, to implant ideas in my head and stir the soil around them, to keep me from falling into a comfortable torpor, to agitate my sleeping hours with problems that I would not otherwise attend to; also to remind me constantly (not by precept but by example) how fortunate I have been to live for fifty-three years with a woman that bright, alert, charming, and supportive.

Wallace Stegner, who died in 1993 after a car crash, on his wife of almost 60 years, Mary Page, who died last week at 99.  Perhaps fittingly for someone who so self-effacingly played the helpmeet role —

[Their son] Stuart Page Stegner said that while his mother was an accomplished violinist with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, most of her attentions were lavished on her husband and marriage.  “She quite deliberately decided that his gifts and talents were so great, the best role she would play was to be his helpmate,” he said [in her Salt Lake Tribune obit].  “She wouldn’t win any points in the modern women’s movement for that, but that’s what she did, and did deliberately.”

— Mary Stegner is represented in her brief L.A. Times blog-obit by a photo of her husband!

But she outlived him by almost two decades!  What did she do, who was she, for those 17 years?  Only a living memorial to him?

An occasion to ponder the costs and gifts of the helpmeet role, without which the helpee’s great work might never have fully seen the light.  It’s not exclusive or “natural” to women — Leonard Woolf comes to mind — but for most of history, it’s been overwhelmingly a woman’s job, and until fairly recently, her identity.

Discuss.