Monday, February 03, 2003

OK, OK, call me picky, but I could not help take notice of this little snippy comment by Liz Smith:

Ben Affleck thinks there is something besides the combined stellar light of himself and Jennifer Lopez that makes us all sit up and take so much notice. Ben tells Vanity Fair for March: "I think it has to do with race and class, the fact that I'm white and she's Puerto Rican. That's what's underneath, although nobody says it, because it's not politically correct."
Hmmm . . . I can only speak for myself, but the racial mix between Ben and Jen had never occurred to me. ... I've never heard one word, or even a veiled allusion to race when it comes to these two. For that matter, I never heard a racial remark one way or the other when Jennifer was dating Sean Combs. (Maybe I run with an elevated crowd.)

Now, I can see taking exception to Ben's attempt to claim an ethnic angle to the celebrity buzz about him and J-Lo. Affleck, a major disciple of Howard Zinn, seems to be trying to play some liberal racial martyr trip here.

But to say that the ethnic difference between the whitebread Affleck and Jenny From the Block "never occurred to me"? That no one ever said "one word" about the ex-Fly Girl getting jiggy with WASP-y Ben?

And then the real kick-in-the-head: "Maybe I run with an elevated crowd."

J-Lo is Puerto Rican. Ben Affleck is white. Puff Daddy is black. These are observable facts. The sequential liaisons of Ms. Lopez with Combs and Affleck are equally observable facts. Why does Ms. Smith think it is "elevated" not to notice facts which are plainly obvious? Would there be such an "elevated" insistence about not noticing ethnicity in a romance between, say, an Italian and an Englishman? A Brazilian and an Irish lass? Does the "elevated crowd" ever hestitate to notice that certain fashion models are Russian?

Affleck is right to say that it is not "politically correct" to make mention of ethnicity -- but this is only true in certain cases, i.e., when the ethnicity involved falls within the "protected" categories. If Affleck were dating a Lithuanian or French girl, people might mention it. But because J-Lo is Puerto Rican -- a person of color, member of a designated victim group -- "elevated" people aren't supposed to notice.

Ah, well. No one I know gives the Affleck-Lopez romance more than nine months. Not because of the inter-ethnic nature of the romance, mind you, but because, in the words of one friend, "J-Lo is a ho." Rather unchivalrous, that. But she sure does have great glutes.

Karen Peterson of USA Today -- whose previous writings about divorce struck me as rather soft-headed -- goes squishy for The Hours, the Virginia Woolf-inspired chick flick. Peterson's article boils down to: Men are so insensitive. You just don't get it. Here:

For many men, the film is a tough sell, says Stuart Fischoff, a media psychologist at California State University-Los Angeles. "Men will balk" at going to this film, he says. "They do not respond to character-driven performances by women. A woman's world is not a world they want to enter. It is emotional. And the movie does not move fast."

Ugghh. Man frightened by emotion. Not respond.

Men love solutions, says Lee Beckerman, 41, of Woodbridge, N.J. "Women like to discuss their feelings. It's all right to have feelings, but men really like to have an answer. 'If you feel that way, then do this.' " A woman's approach can be "hard for men to grasp."

Attaboy, Lee! Welcome to the cave!

Laurie Young, the executive director of the Older Women's League, based in Washington, D.C., was "enraptured" with the movie. "I just thought it was incredibly powerful."
Women respond to the suggestion that in the 1920s and the 1950s, women's roles were often limited, says Young, 52. "There was a lack of choice, an inability to direct their own lives" and control their reproductive choices. Women react to "the pain women suffered," she says, including society's mandate to marry and have children.

Oh, shut up you silly crone -- "an inability to direct their own lives," indeed! And while my heart is just breaking for "the pain women suffered" because of "society's mandate to marry and have children," I'm trying to keep it in proportion to the pain suffered by (off the top of my head here) the immigrant workers incinerated at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the millions of Ukrainians who died in Stalin's terror-famine, the Pennsylvania coal miners who died in explosions ... need I go on? I mean, to hell with the existential angst experienced by affluent women intellectuals, when there is so much real pain and suffering in the world.

This whole bit about women's emotional needs -- what a crock! OK, it's 1843 and you're on the Oregon trail. Six people in your wagon train die of typhoid, four more are killed by hostile Indians, a couple of kids are attacked and killed by coyotes. Now ... how do you feel about that? What the hell does it matter how you feel? You are either going to survive and make it to Oregon, or you are going to die on the trail like the others. You don't have the luxury of indulging your emotions. The wagon train has got to keep rolling, OK?

Where did we get the idea that feelings -- mere subjective emotions -- possess a meaningful reality? Yes, yes, everyone feels happy, feels sad, feels confused from time to time. But how we feel is far less important than what we do. We cannot always control our emotions, but we can all control our actions. So stop dwelling on how you feel, and start thinking about what you should do.

And as for the horrible oppression because "women's roles were often limited" in the past -- don't believe a word of it. America's supposed oppression of women is a myth created by feminists as a justification for their radical agenda. The American housewife in 1955 was the most affluent, most secure, most protected creature on the planet. In no other country on earth did women enjoy more true freedom and opportunity. While feminists rant about this putative "oppression," let it not be forgotten that men's "roles were often limited" in the past. Eighteen-year-old boys were drafted into the Marines and sent off to die on some frozen Korean mountainside or in some malarial Vietnamese swamp. Were women craving those "roles"?

A big Axis of Weevil thanks to John Ray for linking my rant about left-wing ideas of "economic justice."

Sunday, February 02, 2003


The word out of NASA makes it pretty clear that the shuttle's left wing -- perhaps damaged by insulation that fell off the external fuel tank at launch -- was the cause of the Columbia disaster.

The temperature of the left wing increased 60 degrees in 5 minutes before the explosion. Automatic flight systems tried but failed to compensate for extra drag on the left wing. At the time the signal was lost, the shuttle had banked left until its wings were 57 degrees off horizontal.

In other words, this is a freak accident, the cause of which can be easily discovered and fixed. The disaster is not due to the shuttle design itself -- contrary to what Gregg "I Hate SUVs" Easterbrook argues. While updating, expanding and improving the U.S. space program is a good idea, there is no reason to scrap the shuttle simply because of the Columbia disaster, which is what Easterbrook wants.

One post was not enough to exorcise my rage over Robeson's "economic justice" nonsense. What I can never understand in the reasoning of the Left is: What have the poor done to deserve the fruits of redistribution? What is it about being poor that entitles people to handouts at the expense of taxpayers?

Americans have so long been bludgeoned with liberal propaganda that most never ask this basic question. Let's see: You goof off in school, don't bother to get a job, develop a substance abuse problem, get pregnant out of wedlock -- CONGRATULATIONS! You are now entitled to lifetime subsidies, paid for with money extracted from the pockets of your fellow citizens!

That there is no moral justice in socialism is fairly easy to demonstrate. The architect or engineer, making $125,000 a year, is in no way responsible for the poverty of the dope-addled high-school dropout who might earn $18,000 a year if he would get off the sofa and go to work. Had the dropout sought advice from the engineer, the engineer might have counseled him to apply himself in school. The architect might have told the bum to stay off the pipe. The loser, you see, has chosen his own course in life, and would greatly resent any career counseling from his betters. So the loser is wholly responsible for his misery; and his successful countrymen are not to blame.

But leftist economics begins with the premise that the poor -- by virtue of their mere poverty -- are entitled to subsistence at the expense of the taxpayers. And that goes hand in hand with the premise that the affluent are -- for the sake of their very affluence -- obligated to pay for such subsistence. Where is the proof of these assertions? Stripped of emotional rhetoric, how are these ideas to be called "economic justice"? Where is the "justice" in taking money from the man who earned it and giving it to a man who has done nothing to deserve it? If this weren't being done by government, we wouldn't call it "economic justice," we'd call it armed robbery.

Somewhere planted firmly inside the sick minds of socialists are two fallacious notions:

1. The Virtuous Poor -- There are many decent, honest, hard-working people who fall substantially below the media annual household income. No one would argue otherwise. But socialists believe that the poor are uniquely virtuous merely because they are poor. Poverty thus becomes a virtue of its own. And if you should dare to point out that many poor people are deficient in certain virtues -- thrift, diligence, sobriety -- then you are accused of "blaming the victim." (It is curious, though, that the same limousine liberals who plead the case of the poor manage to avoid socializing with the poor. One would think, if the poor were so wonderful, that liberals would enjoy their company. Alas, however, vagrants and welfare mothers are seldom invited to ski weekends at Vail with Streisand and Spielberg.)

2. The Vicious Rich -- In the rhetoric of the Left, "the rich" are evoked in such a way as to suggest that they have become wealthy through sheer malice. The rich are construed as "the wealthiest 1 percent" or "corporate America" -- a populist trope that allows 99 percent of "us" to conceive of the rich as "them." The rhetoric encourages us to think of the rich as born that way -- Richie Rich, in his baronial mansion with servants and polo stable, riding in a limousine to his elite private academy. Of course, extremely few people fit this description, forming a social class so tiny as to be statistically irrelevant to discussions of "economic justice." Constituted as "corporate America," the rich supposedly plot and scheme to defraud and impoverish John Q. Public, not to mention corrupting government and inciting imperialist wars of conquest. Nonsense, of course: The executive suites of American corporations are populated largely by guys from middle-class backgrounds with management degrees whose chief concern is how to improve productivity and increase market share. They are not mustache-twirling melodrama villains; they are not J.R. Ewing.

But this is the kind of lazy thought, full of stereotypes and unexamined premises, which fuels the rage for "economic justice." It makes you want to kick somebody's ass, or at least have your butler kick somebody's ass.