Category Archives: life in America

An Anniversary and Some Questions

Normandy, 1944

Normandy, 1944

Today is the 69th anniversary of D-Day.  In case you are an American student and have never heard the term before, D-Day was the beginning of an operation involving over 150,00 Allied troops landing on the beaches of the Normandy region of France.  The invasion has been called the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.

Those men you see in the photo wading through the surf toward the smoky beach ahead are now referred to as the Greatest Generation.  But get this…they were Twenty-somethings.  Some were as young as 18, but many were in their mid-20s.  General Eisenhower inspired the troops before the invasion by saying: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.”  Just a little pressure, that.

Of course, that was then, and this is now.  How times have changed.  Nowadays, we refer to 18-25 year-olds as “emerging adults,” a whole new demographic group.  Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett, the brains behind this new developmental stage, argues that people in this age group don’t believe themselves to be adults yet and struggle with identity and focus.

Gee, I don’t know.  Maybe they just need a Gen. Eisenhower to help them focus.  Since I can’t think of anyone to fit that bill, I would refer Twenty-somethings to this Ted Talk (entitled “Why 30 is not the new 20”) by clinical psychologist Meg Jay.


She argues that the 20’s are actually the “defining decade of adulthood,”  rather than a continuation of adolescence.  In one’s 20’s, the brain undergoes its last growth spurt, so she argues, “Whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it.”  And I love this insight:

Leonard Bernstein said that to achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. Isn’t that true? So what do you think happens when you pat a twentysomething on the head and you say,”You have 10 extra years to start your life”? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.

Rather than spending a decade in finding one’s identity, Jay recommends doing something that develops “identity capital.”  In other words, do something that adds value.  Like liberating a continent from a genocidal tyrant.

To the ever-dwindling number of veterans of D-Day and World War II who are still with us, thank you.

NORMANDY_2582033b

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October Surprise

Surprise!  I’m posting.  And it’s not October anymore!

Think of this post as capturing the last month in the style of time-lapse photography but using words.

  • Please stop calling me.  I understand that I live in a swing state.  I am painfully aware of how important the upcoming election is.  But I’m also fed up with all of the political calls.  We went away for a weekend and returned to a voicemail box completely full of recordings from the local campaign office, various PACs, and political surveys.  Is there anyone who actually listens to these robo-calls?  I imagine that on the day after the election, our telephone will go silent.  We’ll go back to days without even one phone call.
  • Oh, Facebook.  How you disappoint.  First, there’s this: “Over the weekend, Facebook took down a message by the Special Operations Speaks PAC (SOS) which highlighted the fact that Obama denied backup to the forces being overrun in Benghazi.”  This story from Breitbart was updated to indicate that the message has since been allowed by Facebook.  Then, of course, there are all of the political posts by “friends.”  Whatever happened to politics being off-limits in polite conversation.  If it’s a no-go topic around the Thanksgiving table, then I don’t want to see it on Facebook either.  I have two or three Facebook friends who insist on linking to politically charged articles or making snide partisan comments on a daily basis.  If we were meeting in a coffee shop or talking over the fence, the conversation wouldn’t go that way.  So why does it on Facebook?  I couldn’t help myself last week and got sucked into a Facebook debate with one of these friends.  Did it make me feel better?  Nope.  It just makes me wonder how the real conversation will go the next time we meet in person.
  • What happened to the rest of them?  Why am I not hearing about more of this: “Peoria (Illinois) Bishop Daniel Jenky ordered priests to read a letter to parishioners on Sunday before the presidential election, explaining that politicians who support abortion rights also reject Jesus.”  Churches walk a fine line during election seasons.  They can’t come out and tell the faithful which candidate to support for fear of losing their tax exempt status.  But religious leaders also have a duty to instruct the faithful on how to apply religious teaching to real life.  In my parish, the closest we got to guidance about the election was a web page listed in the bulletin.  I wonder how many parishioners made the effort to check it out?  I have also seen pamphlets which, although well-written, vaguely discuss choosing a candidate according to the teachings of the faith ahead of self-interest and party loyalty.  The problem is that there is so little practical direction given from the pulpit.  How many pastors have taken the time to discuss issues in terms of Church teaching?  Of course it’s risky to do this.  Certainly some parishioners will be turned off by this type of preaching.  But how else are we to inform our consciences?  Shepherds, won’t you guide your flock?
  • Frankenstorm, Superstorm…Thank goodness someone had the good sense to stop calling Hurricane Sandy “Frankenstorm.”  What is it about our culture that is compelled to nickname everything?  Every political scandal has to have the suffix “-gate” attached to it.  Then there’s Obamacare, Romneycare, and so on.  Are we so freaked out by anything serious that we have to assign it a cutesy name to make it more palatable?

And that was October in a nutshell.

 

 

 

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America in Crisis…over Football

America has finally gone over the cliff.  The major actors dilly-dallied for months without making progress.  So now, the crisis has touched countless Americans where it really hurts.  Of course, you know I’m talking about football and the NFL referee lockout.

What else could possibly capture the headlines for 3 days straight this week alone?  The national debt, which topped $16 trillion recently?  As Mark Steyn put it, “The $16 trillion is really just the surface. We need to pay back $16 trillion, Washington does, just to get back to having nothing.”  Nope.  America doesn’t really seem too concerned about that.  Especially after President Obama went on “Late Night with David Letterman” and said that we don’t have to worry about it for now.  He couldn’t even put a real number on the debt.  That’s how nonchalant he is.

What about the war in Afghanistan?  Surely America demands to be kept informed about a conflict that has cost the lives of over 2100 service members.  Well, not so much.  You would have to dig deep to discover that on September 14, 2012, the US suffered its worst airpower loss since the Tet Offensive of 1968.  Even Fox news reported just that “Two U.S. Marines were killed, several injured in the attack on the base where Britain’s Prince Harry is stationed with his Apache helicopter unit.”  Thankfully, Prince Harry went unharmed, but American firepower wasn’t so lucky:

Under  the leadership of Barack H. Obama, though hardly noticed by the pro-Obama  mainstream media, the U.S. Marine Corps has suffered its worst air squadron  catastrophe since Vietnam, and its prized VMA-211 squadron has taken its worst  hit since its defense of Wake Island in World War II.

It happened  on September 14, 2012, northwest of the city of Lashkar Gah in southern  Afghanistan.  A team of fewer than two dozen Taliban fighters attacked the  USMC’s massive Camp  Bastion base there, killing VMA-211 squadron commander Lt. Col. Christopher  Raible and destroying or permanently disabling eight of the ten top-of-the-line  harrier AV-8B attack aircraft stationed under him.  Out of production for  more than a decade, these aircraft can never be replaced.

By  the time the smoke cleared, roughly 7% of the total harrier fleet operated by  the USMC had been wiped out on a single day by a small force of ground  combatants whose most potent weapon was the suicide vest, one of which was used  to breach the camp’s perimeter fence.

Is the average American outraged about the cover-up by our own government, starting with the President, of the 9/11 terrorist attack against our embassy in Libya?  Apparently, US intelligence agencies knew the real story within 24 hours of the attack, but as recently as yesterday, Obama was still harping on that ridiculous video as the root of all evil, embarrassing himself and the whole country in front of the United Nations General Assembly.  Still not headline worthy, though.

It seems to me–but who am I really, but just a housewife–that if Americans, and American voters in particular, were as fired up about our collapsing economy or disappearing liberties or our weakness in the world as they are about botched officiating in football games, this country might stand a chance.  Will football survive this crisis?  Who cares?!  Will the United States survive?  Meh.  As long as we get back football like it’s supposed to be, America has no complaints.

 

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Who Is the Adult Here??

School Sunscreen Ban Leaves Student Severely Sunburned

Darling Husband brought this story to my attention the other day, certain that I would want to blog about the obvious idiocy involved.  This is just one more story in which schools have come up with some ridiculous policy that defies common sense, and children are paying the price for it.  Am I heartless, cold, and without compassion for not being outraged by what happened to these 2 girls (ages 11 and 9)?  Not at all.  I’m just way beyond being surprised by such stories; in fact, I’ve come to expect them.

My response is simply this: Was no one willing to act like an adult?  The closest thing I can find to adult behavior in the incident is that of the girls, who apparently approached teachers looking for relief.  Too bad the teachers, who were busy applying their own sunscreen, provided no help to the girls.  Are the teachers the villains here?  The school administrators?  The school’s insurance company?  If you read some of the comments responding to the story, the Mom was to blame.

I ask:  How many of these stories do we have to hear before we simply say, “Enough!” and follow what common sense tells us?  What would it have cost this mom to send her kids to school with little bottles of sunscreen in spite of school policy?  What would have been the risk to the teachers to just have the girls hold out their hands and then squeeze a blob of sunscreen into their palms to put on where they needed it?  Yes, I’m calling on people to defy authority.

In more crass terms, “Grow a pair!”  Are we so afraid of lawsuits that we abandon good sense?  What is the worst thing that could have happened if the girls’ mom had sent the kids to school with their own sunscreen?  Maybe the girls would have been sent home for having unauthorized “prescription medication.”  Or perhaps the teacher who shared sunscreen with students would be suspended.  The difference, however, would be that the news headlines proclaim, “Students (or Teachers) Defy School Ban on Sunscreen.”  Notice the action word “defy?”  Less “Woe is me,” and more, “I’m taking a stand.”

I guess I’m just tired of people complaining about how silly all of these policies are without doing whatever it takes to change things.  Why do parents willing give schools so much power?  In a battle of wills concerning the well-being of your child, should you the parent win?  The news report linked above cautions parents to carefully check each individual policy on sun protection for every daycare, camp, or trip your kid participates in this summer.  Sadly, most parents have scrambled to farm out their school-aged kids to multiple “camps” during the summer months to substitute for the babysitting that schools provide.  So now they’re supposed to schedule doctor visits to generate permission slips for everything from sunscreen to personal water bottles to insect repellant.  Ridiculous.  If there will be bugs, pack bug spray.  What’s worse: the overspray from Deep Woods Off that some kids might breathe in or the Lyme disease your child contracts from a tick bite?

It’s no wonder I can never get an appointment at our doctor’s office.  They are all booked up with parents seeking notes for their kids.

Why do parents put up with this?  These are the same people who will make a restaurant server sob with apologies for daring to bring a regular soda instead of diet; or verbally crucify an umpire or coach at the Little League field; or tailgate you for half a mile while waving a vulgar gesture at you for daring to merge in front of them on the interstate.  Fear of confrontation doesn’t seem to be the problem.

Inexplicably, though, when the school crafts a policy that defies all common sense, it’s the 11th Commandment.  No sunscreen; no peanut butter; only dull, worthless scissors allowed; only plastic cutlery that can’t cut through butter.  If the school puts it in the handbook, parents become as docile as lambs.

Today, a bottle of SPF 50; tomorrow, full-size bottle of shampoo at the airport.  Oh, wait.  Tomorrow…built-in GPS to track your car’s excessive speeds and fuel consumption.  What?  We already have that?  Tomorrow…

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A Quick Look at Why Our Civilization Is Doomed

Have you seen the show on National Geographic Channel called “Doomsday Preppers?”  I’m certain that the intent of the show’s creators and the network is to portray anyone who feels a sense of dread about the direction society is headed as a certifiable nutcase.  By singling out extremists who are stockpiling food and practicing bug-out drills with their family, the show mocks anyone who fears civil unrest, financial collapse, or even the rioting and looting sure to occur after a natural disaster.

The thing is, the people featured on these shows really are not the crazy ones.  What they are preparing for –albeit in incredible ways– is bound to happen, one way or another.  How do I know that Doomsday is inevitable?  Well, there are the obvious indicators, like the national debt crisis or the concessions our regime is planning to give to Russia after the election is over (but no one was supposed to know about) or the fact that if you want to fill your car with gas, you better have a wheelbarrow full of cash these days.  But those topics are far too intellectual to capture the attention of your typical American.  Instead, let’s look at some more subtle but easier-to-relate-to indicators.  Just check out these glimpses at what passes for normal, acceptable life in America:

  • The responsibility for choosing an appropriate prom dress for teenage girls has fallen to…high schools?!  I know, it’s just too hard for a mom or dad to say “No,” to their princess when she wants to attend her senior prom in Hollywood Slut style.  Much easier to just have the schools be the bad guys.  After all, schools have nothing more important to do than prepare Power Point presentations on acceptable evening attire for 17-18 year-old girls.  Definitely better for your school principal to explain why a skirt slit up to your crotch is inappropriate rather than having your mom do it.

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  •  I’m not sure which is worse about this viral video of a grown woman who can’t comprehend the concept of miles per hour: the fact that she is such an unfortunate cliché of the “dumb blonde” who is apparently the product of our fine American education system, or the fact that her HUSBAND thought it would be appropriate to share this not-so-flattering video of his wife with the whole world.  Just your typical American young couple who want their 15 minutes of fame, I guess.  I’m sure they both vote, too.
  • If you are not already in line to buy your Mega Millions lottery ticket, you are missing you best shot at financial security.  Or that’s what millions of Americans in the 42 states that participate in the lottery believe.  Staying in school, working hard, setting aside some savings each month, spending wisely: that’s for fuddy-duddies.  Why not just toss that $100 you might have tucked away for a rainy day at the convenience store clerk in exchange for lottery tickets and wait for the $640 million check to arrive in the mail?  Fine print for all of you lotto fanatics:  Odds of winning–well you’re 50 times more likely to be struck by lightning.  If you want the lump sum, a penalty will be subtracted.  Uncle Sam will help himself to 25% before the check is even cut.  And your state will take between 3% and 10% depending on where you live.  Oh, and there’s a pretty good chance you will end up miserable and broke within a few years of your big win.  But never mind all that– this is your big chance!!

Welcome to America.  These are the voters responsible for choosing the government officials who will steer this country…right onto the express lane to Doomsday.  Watch the show.  You’ll thank me later.

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In Which the Uncommonhousewife Becomes an Activist

Occupy Someplace or Other?  Definitely not.

Boycott Apple, Disney, Whole Foods, or the target of the day?  Please.

Nope.  I attended, and indeed dragged my children to our local Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally last Friday.  Maybe you heard of it.  After all, over 140 cities across the country held one.  Hopefully, the rally near you drew a bigger crowd than the 150 or so people who appeared with me.  (A note to the rally organizers: Lots of passionate supporters cannot leave work to attend a rally during business hours–even if it occurs during “lunchtime.”)  The small group did merit an itty bitty mention in the local newspaper.  The article referred to those of us in attendance as “activists”  and “protesters.”   Really?!  We First Amendment lovers are lumped into the same category with anarchist G7 protesters and the 99% grunge crowd?

So, there were rousing speeches, clever signs, some song and some prayer.  We even got the protection of a couple of city police officers on Segways.  The crowd was made up of young, old, and folks in between.  A Google search about the rallies produces articles from plenty of major news outlets: a surprise considering how the media largely ignores the annual March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands each year.

In spite of the attention and the positive experience of gathering with like-minded people over a fundamental cause, I feel less energized and less optimistic than ever that this issue will be resolved justly.  With “American Idol” and March Madness on their minds, most Americans just can’t be bothered to consider whether their Constitutional freedoms are being stolen.  But along with that laziness and indifference, there is a strong current of Catholic hatred that makes any real discussion about the issue of religious freedom essentially impossible.  Just feast your eyes on some of these comments attached to the report of my local rally:

What they want is 2 billion Catholics in the world. More Catholics means more money and power for the church. To have a major religious organization with over a billion adherents worldwide eschew birth control is a travesty. What do they want, 1 person per square yard? Will that make the Pope and his Cardinals happy? OK, now lets house and feed that population. Luckily, most Catholics ignore the church’s stand on birth control. But what kind of religion is that? Give me a Unitarian anytime.

Since the Catholic Church in particular has failed to keep its female members from using hormonal contraceptives, church leaders are now pressuring government institutions to keep birth control pills as inaccessible as possible. That is exactly a violation of the separation of church and state, and anyone who values liberty should be outraged.

Things get really ugly when you look at the comments on the rally coverage for the Washington Post.

Before you Catholics think you can dictate the laws of the land, there is that little matter of harboring pervert child molesting priests.  Turn them all over for civil prosecution and you might have some credibility instead of being above the law.

Extreme Catholics need to grow up and realize that we are living in the real world, not a theoretical hair splitting world.  This is an instance in which Jesus would have said “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s” rather than raise a stink to get exactly what he wanted.  The Church and the members should be out “loving thye neighbor” instead of indulging in self-pity.

This article is full of lies.  The Roman Catholic Church and other religious organizations that seek to deny women control of their bodies are doing everything they can to deny women their legal and moral right to determine when and if they want to be a parent.  Because they know that direct attacks have been largely unsuccessful, they are trying to control women by making it impossible for them to find providers of reproductive health services.

At best, it seems that the dumb masses of America think this is all about sex and birth control.  At worst, the haters can use this very public stand by the Catholic Church against the Obama administration’s policy as a chance to rehash every evil ever perpetrated by a Catholic.

There is a lot of work to be done.  One of the most important tasks may be convincing whoever turns out to be the GOP nominee in the presidential election that  it can’t just be about the economy, that there are cherished liberties at stake.

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Presidential Politics and Romance Novels: A Treatise on Virtue

I’m not really on the ball.  If I were, I would have written days (weeks!) ago about the kerfuffle that erupted when an important donor for one of the presidential candidates joked about the good ol’ days when women would rely on an aspirin held between their knees for contraception.  All of the gory details can be found here.  Yes, we are still going round and round about this outrageous and offensive federal mandate for free contraception for everybody, no matter what.  Of course, the comment that raised so many eyebrows is about a long-lost period when women relied on self-control and virtue instead of pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

One of my new-found favorite bloggers, Hyacinth Girl, had a wonderful analysis of the dust-up:

I’ve been listening to the coverage of Santorum’s big donor’s Aspirin statement. Since when has it been controversial to suggest that women used to value chastity? I mean, we don’t have a universal human right to be whores. Or do we? I can never remember. I’m not calling sexually active women whores, by the way. It just isn’t a big deal that Foster Friess makes a reference to the days when sexual promiscuity wasn’t celebrated or considered inevitable…Maybe we should take an honest look at where our society has gone with all this “progress” and how empty we’ve all become. I see a lot of sad, lonely, joyless people who have everything, including anyone they desire, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Once upon a time, Western civilization used to strive toward virtue: that is, moral excellence or traits which promote moral or ethical uprightness.  In the modern era, virtue is mocked, and morality is rationalized down to nothing.  “What’s right for me may not be right for you.”  It certainly does leave a person empty.

Rush Limbaugh had some very interesting remarks about the aspirin situation:

You boil it all down, what you end up with is something very simple.  Liberals want life without consequences.  Fail at your job, no consequences, doesn’t matter, there’s all kinds of government help.  Fail at being a father, no problem, there’s no consequences.  Sex, whenever you want it, no matter the outcome, no problem, we’ve got abortion, we got birth control pills, we got condoms, ah, no consequences.  And without consequences, there’s no virtue.  And that’s all Foster Friess was talking about.  Simply talking about women with virtue, pure and simple.  And the fact that so few people understand that is shocking.  Sad, but shocking.

So, as I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been reading historical romance novels.  This is in part, I think, a reaction to the incredibly depressing, gritty high-brow fiction out there.   As a break from all of that, I’ve consumed perhaps a dozen simple, breezy romance novels.  Most of them were mediocre at best; a couple were just awful.  A handful, though, were quite compelling with characters one becomes attached to.  (I have a strong feeling at least one post about the merits of historical romance novels for intelligent women is in the making.)

Aside from some easy entertainment, the novels do leave the reader thinking about virtue, believe it or not: justice, temperance, and fortitude.  With their settings in the extreme confines of Victorian morality, the novels cast a harsh spotlight on just how far we have “progressed” from even the palest sense of virtue.  Considering the fact that the government will sacrifice Constitutional liberties so that every woman in America can have free love without consequences, I wonder how we will ever claw our way back to virtue.  Where would we start?

Here’s a crazy thought: how about with the concept of intimacy and courtship?  In the olden days, using someone’s given name (certainly can’t use the archaic term “Christian name”!), was a sign of great intimacy.  In 2 of my favorites of the fluff novels, when the heroine finally uses the hero’s name rather than his title or a polite form of address, it is a turning point in their relationship.  As an aside, the Christian names in those 2 cases were Jude and Adrian.  Sigh.  Moving on.  If you need confirmation from a more respectable source for the appropriate use of names, look to Jane Austen.  (Regency, not Victorian, I know.)  You know, “Mr. Knightley” and “Mr. Darcy.”

Such a small thing, but it really caught my attention.  You see, it really vexes me when complete strangers use my first name.  For instance, where does a sales clerk or waiter get off calling me by my name when he or she hands me back my credit card?  Once when I was driving on to my local military base, the sentry at the gate checked my ID, reading the name I suppose, and then waved me on with a, “Have a nice day, (my name inserted here.)”  A simple “ma’am” would do very nicely.  I do not want to be “Miss Suzy” or “Miss Lori” to the children in my neighborhood.  It’s Mrs., thank you very much.  I want to be the one to allow that familiarity that comes with using my name.  I want there to be a clear distinction between acquaintanceship and intimacy.

Of course, it might be awkward for a Miss Woodhouse to hook up ever-so-casually with a Mr. Knightley.

The idea is that women (and men) might consider holding something back so the other will have to work to deserve that intimacy.  Barbaric, I know, denying instant gratification.  And yet, that little bit of self-discipline doesn’t cost taxpayers anything–unlike the contraceptives the government insists are a “right.”

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