“What’s particularly disappointing is that the authors are clearly trying to understand people with a perspective different from theirs and are simply unable to pull it off. “

That’s Glen Reynolds (better known, of course, as the Instapundit), reviewing Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s book Red Families v. Blue FamiliesThis seems right on point with my frustration with many liberals recently.  I often feel like I can’t tell if they are being willfully dense or are really living in such a closed world that they simply cannot understand anything else. 

Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast reviewed this book a few weeks ago, and their understanding of “red states” (aka The South) seemed to be based on nothing further than the movie Deliverance.  They literally had no concept and no idea what life in the south is like (it’s pretty close to life in the north, but with different accents and buildings are further apart); their descriptions involved rampant shotgun weddings and teen brides.  Not that those things don’t exist (well, I’m skeptical about the shotgun weddings), but they don’t exist any differently from the way they do in other states.  There are cultural differences, but they are no where near as simplistic and downright cartoonish as the Slate gabbers seemed to think they were.  The differences between individual families are far broader.  (I’ve lived in New Jersey, Georgia, and Tennessee.)
It’s not even that they are not trying to understand; it’s that they are and they simply don’t understand that life is not a stereotyped cartoon outside of the world that they know.  

When everyone wins, why to liberals still have to find something wrong?

A letter writer to Slate’s do-gooder dilemmas column writes:

What is the deal with the main New York Public Library building now being called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building? This is a beloved landmark, not some brand-new college science building. Schwarzman basically bought this honor by giving $100 million. So is this a good or a bad thing?

Well, let’s see: the library gets more money, which it can use to share more books with the people.  An evil rich person has less money.  No one had to give up anything except a meaningless symbol.  You’re seriously considering that these benefits may not be worth the fact that some rich guy might get his ego stroked a little bit?

“Family Responsibility Discrimination” is not the same as Sexism

I’m all for equality, but for equality of opportunity, not some feel good, “let’s move all the targets around so that everyone in the special groups gets a prize” equality, so things like this from a Slate article about Working Mother Magazine’s list of best places to work, frustrate me to no end:

Novartis isn’t alone in having serious dissonance between its official policies and the experiences of its female workers. Thirty-six companies that have been on Working Mother‘s 100 Best Companies list have faced “family responsibilities discrimination” suits filed by employees who are pregnant or care for young children, sick family members, or aging parents, according to Calvert. Plaintiffs prevailed in 15 of those cases, including in suits against Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young, two accounting firms often heralded for their efforts to retain women by instituting family-friendly policies.

In many ways, Novartis fits right in with patterns observed in this emerging legal area. With more than 2100 family responsibilities discrimination cases having taken place so far, lawyers in the field have begun to make classifications among them, coining terms like “maternal wall discrimination” to describe cases involving working mothers, “new supervisor syndrome,” in which a working parent doesn’t run into trouble until a new boss comes along, or “second child bias.” (Ditto, except it’s a second baby that comes along.)

I”ve done a lot of research on employment discrimination, but I have to admit that I have not seen the term “family responsibility discrimination” before.  I don’t understand why, if an employee has other responsibilities, whether they be to family, a second job, a hobby, or anything else, that interfere with the job that the employer needs done, the employer is somehow wrong for taking that into account.

Women will never get ahead as long as they keep claiming the mantel of family responsibility for their own, because an employer who needs an employee in a high level position needs that employee’s responsibility to be work.  Obviously, in most families with small children, there are going to be important responsibilities that must be attended to, and those responsibilities will sometimes have to come before one person’s job.  This is why it is foolish to think that a two people can both be full service parents and high achievers in their career as well.  One member of the family must put his or her career on pause occasionally, which may mean, and should mean, that you will be less important to your employer.  Unless you happen to be married to a senator, an employer simply isn’t going to pay big bucks for a job in which the employee is not vital to the organization. 

Individual families must work out which party will carry this role, or find a way to divide it, with both the family positives and the career negatives going to each party.  Someone’s career must suffer if there are family responsibilities to attend to.  Women do themselves a sexist disservice to assume that that person must always be the woman, and to expect employers to simply ignore and absorb the resulting costs.

Who is in charge of the White House here?

Slate’s John Dickerson has a good article questioning Obama’s assertions that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has a “special understanding of ordinary people” given her extraordinary background.  I have no real critiques of the thesis, but this paragraph really jumped out at me:

The talking points the White House sent to their elite supporters also cite Kagan’s Harvard Law Review article “Presidential Administration” as proof that she understands how the law affects people’s lives. It was honored as the year’s top scholarly article by the American Bar Association‘s Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. After reading some of the article, which addresses the structure of the White House, I asked for some clarification about how that article addressed issues related to regular Americans. A White House aide suggested I Google the host of legal experts who had said so. (I did. I couldn’t find them.)

So, let’s get this straight.  The White House puts out as talking points a justification that is, on its face, makes absolutely no sense.  When questioned about it, the White House gives a brush off response that is barely a step above linking to justf*****ggoogleit.com, and even that response was, as it turns out, completely made up. 

These are our leaders?

Abortion is Just Another Medical Procedure, Right?

If that’s true, why do women receiving one need someone to hold their hands while having one done?  Slate writes:

A recent Bust magazine article on the pregnancy assistants known as doulas contained this description of their duties: “Sometimes the doula will hold a woman’s hand or rub her scalp to calm her; other times, she may crack corny jokes or trade dating stories.” Except the article wasn’t about a doula entertaining a woman in labor—it was about a doula helping a woman during her abortion.

Assisting a woman during her vacuum aspiration was not always part of a doula’s job description. Most doulas serve pregnant women in the last few months before and during her delivery….

Abortion doula services were unheard of until three years ago, when pro-choice activists within the birth community decided that they should serve the full spectrum of pregnancy choices, whether it’s birth, adoption, or abortion. Mary Mahoney and Lauren Mitchell created New York City’s Doula Project, a volunteer-based service that provides free doula services to women in New York City. They work with pregnant women who can’t afford doulas, expectant birth-mothers at a pro-choice adoption agency, and provide abortion doula services in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Now, I can understand having a doula for a birth- there’s something pretty darn awesome, and stressful!, about bringing a life into the world.  But these services, as pointed out in the article, cost from $300 on up- no one’s arguing that a patient should have one for an appendix removal or hysterectomy.  What’s different about abortion?  A person can deny what’s going on, and some even succeed at it, but there’s going to be a lot of stress from trying to convince yourself that the thing that you are having “removed” is not a person.  We all know that abortion is not just another medical procedure.

Related: Why can’t we just say it?

OMG! An Attractive Woman!!

That’s a pretty accurate summary of Troy Patterson’s (Slate’s TV writer) “review” of Megyn Kelly’s new FoxNews midday show. 

First of all, it’s a mid-day show.  Which means that we’re not supposed to care about it.  Which he explains, but never provides any explanation (other than the obvious pointed out above) that he (or his readers) should care about it. 

The program itself is not anything special, nor does it need to be. As a midday show, its sole purpose is to keep a stream of information—meaningless and otherwise—flowing at a decent pace. As a Fox News offering, it just needs to throw out some red-state red meat, U.S. commercial grade or higher, every other block.

While he does throw in a few notes about her being an “up and coming” star (although she’s been a FoxNews regular for years, so I’m not sure what that’s all about), it’s pretty clear that his only reason for bringing her show to our attention is so that he can write stuff like this:

Megyn’s Manhattan studio offers a view of Sixth Avenue by way of a video screen and of her legs by way of a clear plastic desk. The desk is positioned atop a map of the 48 contiguous states such that Kansas City would seem to have a good view up her skirt. If it is less than gallant to make such an observation, it is more than fair to believe that Kelly would be OK with that.

My understanding of the concept of “post-feminist,” which Mr. Patterson insists that her show demonstrates, is that a woman can be a woman, including being attractive and feminine, and not have that limit her from being intellectual and reliable. Mr. Patterson’s understanding appears to be “she asked for it by wearing that skirt.”

Whoa . . . Science

Slate has a really interesting article about antibiotic resistance and what can be done about it.  Here are some of the things that the writer says are on the horizon:

A little creativity might end this game of microbial Whac-A-Mole. Some underfunded, underappreciated researchers have dreamed up truly innovative strategies for stopping genetic transfer—even turning the phenomenon against our enemies. In vitro studies have shown that chemicals like ascorbic acid shut down the movement of antibiotic resistance between cells. (Right now it’s effective only at concentrations that a person couldn’t tolerate, but it’s a start.) Because almost all antibiotic resistance relies on genetic transfer, this technique might be the solution we’ve been seeking since the very first colony of bacteria solved penicillin in 1944. In the best-case scenario, coupling antibiotics with anti-genetic transfer agents could eliminate the need to ration antibiotics.

Others studies have suggested that we can “infect” bacteria with genetic instructions that cause them to waste their resources copying useless genes, leaving them no time to eat and reproduce. Another possibility is to train bacteria genetically to coexist with us peacefully. For example, some bacteria survive by releasing a toxin that helps them consume our intestinal material, causing disease. If we can develop a gene that enables these strains to eat our food instead of our flesh, they’ll have been effectively disarmed. Antibiotic resistance wouldn’t even be a concern.

Fascinating.  I only hope that ObamaCare doesn’t bring this research to a halt.  At least with cancer and heart disease, we could be OK just staying where we are.  Blood pressure and tumors don’t mutate and resist; antibiotic resistance is not a battle in which we can stay where we are.