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The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

What ‘Food Deserts’?



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I’m happy to see the New York Times report on two new studies about food deserts that, as the Times put it “have found something unexpected.” 

Um, yeah, they don’t exist.

If you’re not familiar with the term “food desert,” I’ll refer you to this page on the White House website, which is dedicated to discussing these “nutritional wastelands.” Or you could visit the first lady’s Let’s Move website where you can find information on the $10 million in federal grants available to local governments that want to find a solution to this non-problem. 

Two separate research organizations — the Rand Corporation and the Public Policy Institute of California — have recently found that food deserts don’t actually exist. In fact, individuals living in these so-called food deserts have more, not less, access to nutritious food and fresh fruits and vegetables.

According to the Times story:

It was difficult to design a study that could rigorously answer the questions: Do poor urban neighborhoods lack places to buy fresh produce and is that contributing to obesity? But Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, found a way. . . .

Poor neighborhoods, Dr. Lee found, had nearly twice as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as wealthier ones, and they had more than three times as many corner stores per square mile. But they also had nearly twice as many supermarkets and large-scale grocers per square mile.

Similarly, the Rand study found so-called food deserts are not responsible for obesity or poor diets among children. The Times reports (emphasis mine):

Dr. Sturm [lead author of the Rand study] found no relationship between what type of food students said they ate, what they weighed, and the type of food within a mile and a half of their homes.

He has also completed a national study of middle school students, with the same result — no consistent relationship between what the students ate and the type of food nearby. Living close to supermarkets or grocers did not make students thin and living close to fast food outlets did not make them fat.

As I said, I’m glad the Times is reporting on these new studies. It’s important that we focus on the real reasons kids are suffering from obesity rather than wasting time (and taxpayer dollars!) on make-believe (yet politically expedient) issues such as food deserts. 

But the Times couldn’t help itself in absolving the Obama administration of all guilt in perpetuating the food-desert myth. The Times writer actually states that “it is unclear how the idea took hold that poor urban neighborhoods were food deserts.” 

Yeah, it’s a real mystery how this “food desert” myth was perpetuated. Here’s a clue for the New York Times: Take a look at some of the first lady’s speeches on obesity. Take a look at the Let’s Move campaign’s website. Or just spend 30 seconds Googling food deserts. 

It doesn’t take a journalism degree to find out who’s been pushing the food-desert canard on the American public.

Let’s just hope she stops. 

Liberal Reporter Gets Transvaginal Ultrasound for an Article



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Details here.

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P & G Honors Moms in Olympics Commercial



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End of the World Watch: The ‘Feeding Tube’ Diet



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Sad. Video from the Good Morning America segment on what these brides-to-be are putting themselves through here.

A Day in the Life of a Mom Who’s Never Worked a Day in Her Life



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Yesterday, at my dentist’s office, I reflected on the terrible “boo boo” committed by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. As the mother of four, and as someone who uses the word “boo boo” in everyday conversation, I know this much: Moms understand economic realities better than anyone, and we work very hard.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been one for 17 years. When I work, it’s usually from home. My six-year old asked me the other day, “Mom, when are you going to have a ‘take your son to work’ day?”

“Babe,” I told him, “You are there now. I am at work, and you are with me. Welcome to my world.”

So as the dentist jabbed my delicate gums repeatedly with a needle and revved up his drill to carve away at my teeth and jangle my nerves for the next hour, I sighed. Root canal is “me time” for this busy mom. I settled in for what would be the most relaxing 60 minutes of an average day.

The day had begun six hours earlier.

6 a.m.:  Wake up to help eldest and most responsible child get to all girls’ high school on 6:47 train. Prepare a peanut butter and banana sandwich for her commute.

7 a.m.: Wake three boys, first attempt.

7:05 a.m.: Wake boys, second attempt.

7:10 a.m.: Start yelling and pulling off covers and threatening consequences if boys do not get up and get out the door to school.

7:15 a.m.: Assist partially comatose boys with breakfast preparation and clothes acquisition, occasionally from floor of bedroom.

7:20 a.m.: Make three bag lunches.

7:30 a.m.: Push high-school and middle-school boys out the door in the general direction of their schools.

7:53 a.m.: Walk to corner with first-grader to meet bus.

That’s just the kickoff of the day. Once showered and dressed (yes, I wear my pajamas to the bus stop), I fuel up the minivan at $4.25 a gallon, pick up $100 worth of groceries (just the bare necessities), and wash, dry, and fold (sort of) six loads of laundry.

Soon the calls and texts from the kids begin to come in.

“Mom, forgot it’s pizza day! Can you bring me $5? J”

“Practice after school. Need shorts and cup.”

“My teacher needs that permission slip and check. Did you already give it to me?”

I drop off the forgotten lunch at the elementary school, the needed gym accoutrements at the high school. I scan and resend the permission slip that I’d already put in a backpack once but apparently never made it to the teacher. The check will have to wait.

I take a moment to plan the 21 meals for six I will prepare this week. The kitchen stays open 24/7 including weekends and holidays, and that doesn’t even include daily, individual feedings for one chubby dog, a peckish cat, two scaly fish, and an apathetic turtle.

On the “to do” list for the day:

Buy

Band-Aids

hair gel

watermelon-flavored gum

SpongeBob toothpaste

a replacement jump drive

a replacement lunch box

a replacement graphing calculator

a replacement retainer

replacement sports goggles

and Tums for Mom

Pay bills

for SATs

pediatrician

overdue library fines

college-application fees

summer camp deposits

yearbook ads

plumber

electrician

and chiropractor for Mom

Just this month, on the calendar, we’ve got bat mitzvahs, school plays, band concerts, track meets, Little League games, trigonometry tests, family-fun night, coffee with the principal, a deadline for the first-grade hermit-crab-habitat project, parent-teacher conferences, sports physicals, classroom-help days, prom-dress shopping, a food-bank collection, and a cleat swap.

Welcome to the lap of luxury.

Susan B. Konig is author of the upcoming Teenagers & Toddlers Are Trying to Kill Me.

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The Feminist War on Women



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Ann Romney doesn’t need an apology from Hilary Rosen for claiming the mom of five children has “never worked a day in her life.” Mothers at home are secure in the knowledge that notask is more vital to the health and well-being of this nation than the one they perform each day. But to understand this bit of wisdom, you have to actually do the work of motherhood — not just have children.

Ten years ago I wrote a book entitled The Work of Motherhood. My goal was to support and honor at-home mothers and to demonstrate the value of this thankless yet rewarding job to society as a whole. To my dismay, my then-editors retitled the manuscript Seven Myths of Working Mothers — and before it hit the shelves, Glamour dubbed it a “don’t” in its do’s-and-don’ts section. Next thing I knew, I was thrust into the mommy wars. It was my first foray into the reality of media bias.

Of course, getting involved in a war was not my intention. But I learned the hard way that if you speak out on this issue, war is inevitable.

#more#Yet speak out we must. For the inconvenient truth is that if there were more women like Mrs. Romney in this country, we could solve many of our nation’s problems. The chronic absence of mothers from the home is at the core of countless social ills.

We routinely ask ourselves these types of questions: Why are kids not doing well in school? Why are they overweight? Why are they getting into so much trouble? Why are they sleep deprived? Why are they on Ritalin? Why are they so disrespectful? Why are they spoiled? We simply refuse to connect the dots between the problems that exist among today’s children and the mass exodus of mothers from the home.

Just what did we think mothers were for?

Life is about sacrifice. Adults can’t always do things in a way that suits them. This does not mean, as feminists have claimed for years, that if a mother curtails her career goals to accommodate the needs of her family she invariably loses her identity. What it means is that she gets it. She understands she’s one piece, albeit a large piece, of a very large pie.

Feminists think they are the pie.

For decades they’ve been carrying on a long-running campaign to tear down the traditional family, and they get away with it because they hold so much power. Why do they hold so much power? Because unlike most women, feminists have chosen not to focus on — or in many cases even have — husbands and children.

Instead, they choose to perform a different kind of work — the kind that offers a paycheck, a pat on the back, and in the meantime, fundamentally transforms America.

And they do it, they say, because they have no choice. As Ms. Rosen tweeted to Mrs. Romney: “Most American young women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children? You know that don’t u?”

I’m afraid it’s Rosen who doesn’t get it. The two-income family is not, in fact, a fait accompli. Yes, there are some mothers who either “MUST” work or feel they must work. But let’s understand why they do.

Any woman part of the 41 percent of single mothers in America clearly needs an income. I believe Ms. Rosen falls in to that camp. But if we concede the single-mom phenomenon is a negative one — and we do: the majority of Americans believe children need married parents; and according to the Public Agenda, 70 percent of parents with children under age five agree that “having a parent at home is best” — then the proper response is to honor women like Mrs. Romney, not tear them down.

Moreover, the degree to which a married mother “must” work depends on various factors. Feminists make it sound as if women are victims of the economy — as if it happened to them. It’s actually the other way around: Women created an environment that demanded it. “All the income growth in the U.S. since 1970 has come from women working outside the home,” writes Bridget Brennan in Why She Buys.

In other words, when American women joined the workforce in spades, their incomes created “a new norm.” “The economic necessity argument hits home with a nice solid thunk. Yet ultimately it makes no sense: as a nation we used to be a lot poorer, and women used to stay home,” writes David Gelernter.

Moreover, if it were true that “most women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children,” why aren’t most women doing so? Once we remove single mothers from the equation, most mothers are not employed full-time. Most mothers with children at home are either unemployed like Mrs. Romney or they work part-time, around the needs of their children.

Put another way: Most women make clear and purposeful choices — regarding sex, whom to marry (that’s a biggie), work, geography, etc. — that allow them to be the primary caregiver in their children’s lives. Others learn the hard way that it costs to have both parents work. The money from a second income — unless it’s a six-figure salary — is usually eaten up by commuting costs, child care, eating out, work attire, dry cleaning, convenience foods, and, of course, taxes. By the time you add it all up, there isn’t much left.

So why don’t we ever talk about this stuff? Because the mainstream media is in charge. “The elite journalists in network television don’t report the really big story — arguably one of the biggest stories of our time — that this absence of mothers from American homes is without historical precedent, and that millions upon millions of American children have been left to fend for themselves with dire consequences,” writes Bernard Goldberg in his bestselling book Bias.

The media elite believe most Americans think the same way they do about motherhood, as Ms. Rosen’s tweet demonstrates. Those in the media see their views as “sensible, reasonable, rational views.” According to them, a good and just society would simply accept working mothers — or a nation full of single mothers, for that matter.

When people hear something repeated over and over again, eventually they cave. That’s what feminists bank on.

There’s no GOP war on women. The only war on women is the one that was waged more than 40 years ago. Motherhood escapes feminists. That’s why they’ve spent the better part of half a century trying to rewrite laws that make it easier for women to fly the coop.

But choosing whether or not to raise one’s children is not like choosing whether to have vanilla or chocolate. It’s a serious choice with lasting ramifications. In the past, parents weren’t burdened with such a choice — not because we were richer and thus able to have a choice (in fact we’re richer now and insist we don’t have a choice!), but because we were wiser. I think we’d all benefit from having fewer choices and more obligations.

So to all the at-home mothers and future at-home mothers, I say thank you. Thank you for doing the most important job in the world. Thank you for your blood, sweat, and tears.

Most importantly, thank you for sticking with it in a culture that just doesn’t get it.

— Suzanne Venker is co-author of The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can’t Say. Her new book, How to Choose a Husband, will be published in February 2013. Suzanne’s website is www.suzannevenker.com.

A Katniss Barbie and Standing Up to PETA (not Peeta)



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Rebecca Cusey writes:

Tired of overly pretty, brainless, wimpy Barbie? Feel like reenacting the struggles of Panem with Katniss? Want to relive the Hunger Games?

Apparently, Mattel is introducing Katniss Everdeen as a doll!  (The toy-makers somehow captured her look and essence, didn’t they?)

On an unrelated note, the actress who played Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence, recently fought back against PETA in a Rolling Stone interview. The animal-rights organization has criticized the actress for her on-screen depiction of hunting and squirrel skinning. (After all, the movie could’ve been a lot shorter had she just starved to death!) 

This was her refreshing response:

“I should say it wasn’t real, for PETA. But screw PETA.”

Congress Should Make Secret Abortions Illegal



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Parents are protective of their children. This is not a learned behavior; it is innate. So when a parent learns his or her daughter has had major surgery, say, an open-heart operation or removal of a cancerous growth without being told — and has been transported across state lines to have it done — indignation and concern are fully warranted.

But some on the left want to keep parents and guardians in the dark regarding just such a significant procedure: abortion. Why? Because for abortion absolutists, access to abortion trumps the health of young women and the rights and responsibilities of parents.

Currently, transporting a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion is legal in the United States, but if enacted, new legislation would protect young women from these scenarios, which frequently involve secret and coerced abortion.

Last month, the House Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing about the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA, H. R. 2299). The measure was introduced by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) and has a companion bill in the Senate authored by Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

This is not just about abortion: it’s about women’s health. For example, a mother from Pennsylvania testified before Congress a few years ago that her 14-year-old daughter became pregnant by an older boyfriend. The young teenager wanted to have the baby, but found herself in a horrific situation where she was pressured by the boy and his family into aborting the baby.

Pennsylvania requires that a parent provide consent prior to an adolescent having an abortion. Rather than inform her mother however, the boyfriend’s family picked up the minor from her school-bus stop and transported her to New Jersey, a state where she would not need her parents’ signature to obtain an abortion. When the young woman expressed hesitation and second thoughts about the abortion, the boyfriend’s family threatened to leave her in New Jersey with no money for her safe return.  Lacking the support necessary to make a truly free decision, the young woman acquiesced and aborted her baby.

According to University of St. Thomas law professor Teresa Collet, many adolescent pregnancies are the outcome of statutory rape and coercion. In recent congressional testimony, she cited numerous studies revealing that most teenage mothers become pregnant by men over the age of 20. For example, in the state of California men who are 25 and older have fathered more children born to teenage mothers than males under the age of 18.

Sadly, abortion advocates claim that such a law is about limiting access to abortion. Yet, in reality, the bill does three things, all in the best interest of young women:

1) CIANA makes illegal the transporting of a minor from one state to another without parental involvement as required by the young woman’s home-state law.

2) CIANA would compel abortion providers to comply with the young woman’s home-state laws related to parental notification or consent.

3) In the case that the abortion is being performed out of state, CIANA would require that the parents of the minor receive 24-hour notice prior to the procedure.

CIANA also includes two exceptions for situations when the pregnancy is the result of sexual abuse by a parent as well as when the teenager’s life is at risk due to the pregnancy. Most agree that CIANA is a commonsense law and will protect and benefit female minors and their families.

Fully 45 states have passed laws related to parental consent or notification, and these states have the support of the public. A Pew poll from 2009 revealed that even among those who support abortion, 71 percent support parental-consent laws. Similarly, a more recent Gallup poll from July 2011 reported that 71 percent of Americans support parental-consent laws.

In a country where anyone under the age of 18 needs to obtain parental permission to have his or her ears pierced, our legislators should easily pass the commonsense CIANA through both the House and the Senate, and the president should sign the bill into law.

No parent should ever have to learn of a young woman’s being coerced into having an abortion. And our young women deserve more protection than a seat belt and a late night car ride into another state.

— Jeanne Monahan is director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. Robert Schwarzwalder is senior vice president of the Family Research Council.

Look Who’s Defending Monogamy



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Monogamy.

How important is it to the well-being of society? Is it merely a personal preference? Is it merely a Western ideal driven primarily by Christian belief? Or does it have larger, broader importance for a culture? This is a fascinating topic to examine for general students of the family and culture. Anthropologists tell us that around 85 percent of known societies through time have permitted multiple-partner marriage. Celebrated Rutgers anthropologist, Helen Fisher, tells us that only 0.5 percent of all polygamous cultures permit a woman to take many husbands. Men are the collectors of mates in both secular and biblical histories. But is monogamy, rather than a mere social construct, a greater social virtue and value?

A fascinating and brand-new multidisciplinary study conducted by a small group of psychologists, economists, and anthropologists from the University of British Columbia, UCLA, and UC Davis explores this very question. Their interest is why monogamy as a “historical rarity and apparent ill-fit with much of our evolved psychology” has spread so successfully throughout the world in recent centuries. A good question, especially since, they note, “the very men who most benefit from polygamous marriage — wealthy aristocrats — are often the most influential in setting norms and shaping laws.”

So why, as these authors ask, is monogamy “now enforced in most of the world’s highly developed countries”? Their answer? Sheer pragmatics. Normative monogamy — cultures enforcing exclusive, coupled marriage through law and social mores — provides dramatic and essential benefits for adults, children, and society. They offer four main benefits of keeping the bumble bee on one flower.

First, these scholars explain that monogamous marriage reduces sexual competition among men, reducing social violence and crime for many reasons. Most basic is that marriage itself tends to reduce the likelihood of men being violent and committing crime, reducing a man’s overall criminal likelihood by 35 percent. It reduces the likelihood of property and violent crime by males by 50 percent. This shows up time and again in the literature. This is because wives tend to socialize men, and monogamous marriage reduces a man’s testosterone levels, while polygamy has no such effect.

But polygamy shrinks the marriage pool for all but the wealthiest of men. This limits the socializing effect of having a wife, as well as creating greater anger, bitterness, and competition among the maritally shut-out men. In India, going from a male-to-female ratio of 1.12 to a more equalized 0.97 was shown to cut the societal murder rate in half! In China, increasing the ratio of men to women doubled their overall crime rate between 1988 and 2004. Not insignificant.

Second, monogamous marriage tends to increase relational equality, increasing female influence and standing in the relationship. When there is more competition for available women, men must seek younger and younger wives, securing them before their competitors do, creating more of a father-daughter, rather than a truly spousal relational balance. A 14-year-old girl being pressured to marry a 30-something man is no one’s idea of female empowerment. And a woman who has to compete with other women in a marriage is a less powerful party to the marriage. Most dramatically, a woman who is a commodity to be collected and controlled — as polygamy nearly always demands — has no standing at all.

Third, monogamy reduces conflict within the home because it doesn’t create competition and jealousy among co-wives, which the authors describe as “ubiquitous” in polygamous homes, even if Sister Wives tells us differently. And a comprehensive, cross-cultural review of psychological studies found that children from polygamous homes experience significantly greater amounts of conflict between their parents, household violence, and family instability than children being raised by monogamous parents. This is because monogamy creates a higher rate of relatedness — a tighter biological connection — between the members of the home. Polygamy creates more non-biological connections between various wives, their different children, and the increasing non-biological siblings. This naturally creates more family competition, resentment, and instability. As a result, these scholars explain that “living in the same household with genetically unrelated adults [sans adoption] is the single biggest risk factor for abuse, neglect and homicide of children.” (emphasis in original).

Fourth, monogamy increases paternal investment, significantly improving child-well-being outcomes as well as the lives of the fathers. Polygamy actually tends to reduce the paternal work of all men in two ways. It reduces the opportunity for middle and lower-status men to become fathers by shrinking the pool of available women. And the more wives and children a father has, the less time and energy he has to invest in each. This is really eroded when harem-dad’s child-rearing time and energy competes with his wife-procuring time. Wealthy, highly polygamous men often don’t know each of their children’s names because they can range in the 30s, 40s, or higher. Boys and girls in polygamous cultures are shown to have lower nutritional health and poorer overall survival rates, even though their fathers are wealthier.

Monogamy is sexual and familial democracy. Our authors explain without the slightest bit of apology or reticence that monogamy has been adopted by an increasing number of developing societies because “the supernaturally reinforced set of beliefs propounded by Christianity” found in monogamy lead to a “positive statistical relationship between the strength of normative monogamy with both democratic rights and civil liberties.” They continue, “Historically, we know that universal monogamous marriage preceded the emergence of democratic institutions in Europe and the rise of the notions of equality between the sexes.”

It’s nice when science pounds the pulpit for sexual restraint and commitment.

— Glenn T. Stanton is the director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family and the author of (most recently) The Ring Makes All the Difference (Moody, 2011) and Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity (Multnomah, 2011)

An Open Letter to President Obama



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Dear Mr. President:

Last week you announced plans to fight so-called discrimination against working women by highlighting the fact that “3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women” and “fewer than 20 percent of the seats in Congress are occupied by women.” In light of this supposed problem, you pledged legislation to close the pay gap. “Right now women are a growing number of breadwinners in the household, but they’re still earning just 77 cents for every dollar a man does.”

The 77-cents mantra is provocative, to be sure. But stating that women in America earn less than men — without explaining why — either shows a marked ignorance on your part or it demonstrates your willingness to lie to the American people. What I can’t figure out is which one applies to you.

The pay gap in America is not between men and women at all but between married women and other men and women who spend their lifetimes in the workforce. According to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data, women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no children earn a median $27,000 a year — 8 percent more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas. Women without children do just fine. Since we’ve been talking about her as of late, think Virginia Rometty.

As for most women — those who do have children — there’s a perfectly good explanation why they don’t make as much money as men. The vast majority of women’s career choices involve a balance between work and the rest of life. That’s why most mothers with children at home are either unemployed or work part-time, around the needs of their families. It comes down to time and how to spend it.

Certainly there are women who attempt to balance full-time, demanding careers with motherhood; but they are not the norm. The average woman has no desire to live the life required for most high-pay positions — such jobs demand well over 40 hours per week. There are fewer female politicians for the same reason.

Your statement that women make less than men do for the same job is a throwaway line to promote the feminist myth that women are victims of employment discrimination. But equal pay for equal work has been U.S. law since 1963, and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is an aggressive federal agency that will take the case of any woman who feels she’s been discriminated against in the workplace. If what you said were true, then bosses would hire only, or mostly, women, wouldn’t they?

The bottom line is that the pay gap exists because of a voluntary division of labor, not discrimination by a conspiracy of male chauvinists. Men simply work more hours than women. And people who work more hours — or work at more difficult, unpleasant, or riskier jobs, earn more. And they should.

You’re wasting valuable time and money, Mr. President. There will never be male-female pay parity so long as most women spend part of their lives caring for their children. And thank God they do.

The proper role of government is to provide equal opportunity, not preferential treatment. In America, each of us is paid a compromise between what we want and what someone is willing to pay. Those millions of decisions add up to what we call the private-enterprise system.

Perhaps you missed that class at Harvard.

— Suzanne Venker is co-author of The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say. Her new book, How to Choose a Husband, will be published February 2013. Suzanne’s website is www.suzannevenker.com.

More Trouble at Trayvon Martin’s High School



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Whoa. A student from the same high school as Trayvon Martin (Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High) has confessed to killing his mother . . . and then throwing a party with her dead body in the next room:

The family of a 35-year-old mother whose teenage son stabbed her to death then threw a party were searching for answers Friday, and finding none.

Kit Darrant, 16, who lived with his mother and 3-year-old brother in a Northwest Miami Dade apartment complex, faces a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the March 27 slaying.

His mother, Renette Emile, was found Wednesday night — nine days after police said Darrant attacked her in her bed, stabbing her 14 times. He confessed to police that he killed his mother after an argument over him staying out late on a school night.

“She was a good, hardworking mother,” said Emile’s sister, Rena Emile.

The Emile sisters were born in Haiti and came to this country when they were young. They have four brothers, three who still live in Haiti and one who lives in Miami.

Emile said the family grew up in Miami Shores, and Renette Emile graduated from Miami Edison Senior High School.

“She wanted to be a nurse,” Emile said.

At the time of her death, Renette Emile was going to nursing school and up until recently, supporting her family by working as a security guard in her apartment complex, Jade Winds, 1720 NE 191st St. in Miami-Dade.

Before that, she worked as a hairstylist, her family said.

Emile had been struggling with her son’s behavior problems in recent months, said Jeanine Jolicoeur, another relative.

“She was talking about putting him in a boot camp in Miami,” Jolicoeur said.

But family members had no inkling that the mother-son relationship had deteriorated to the point that Darrant would do something so violent.

The deeper reasons for his acts are a mystery, they said.

“You can’t kill your mother for no reason,” said Jolicoeur who, along with Emile, were making funeral plans Friday. The arrangements were still being worked out.

A Miami-Dade police report into a domestic disturbance call at their apartment earlier this year was not released.

Darrant, a student at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, had not been in trouble with the law, other than a criminal trespass charge two years ago. School acquaintances on Thursday said he was well liked.

The rest here.

It’s a Good Day to Think about Bella, and Those Like Her



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The Palin family knows what it’s like to be in the public eye while tending to a child who needs special love and care. This is what Bristol Palin wrote about Rick Santorum’s suspending his presidential campaign. And may we all remember Bella — and those like her — in our hearts and prayers.

Abortion in China: ‘Backseat’ Ultrasounds



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Sad:

Police in China have arrested a woman for performing ultrasound tests in the back seats of cars and illegally telling mothers the gender of their fetus, state media said Tuesday.

It is forbidden in China to tell expectant parents which sex their child will be because the practice has encouraged parents with a traditional preference for sons to abort female fetuses, skewing the ratio of boys to girls. Sonograms are allowed but gender identification is forbidden.

The official Xinhua News Agency said a woman surnamed Hu was arrested last month in Wuhan and is suspected of being part of a group of three people and a network of middlemen who provided gender testing across the city of 4.5 million.

Women usually paid around $110 for the service, it said.

The report said a pregnant woman reported the roving ultrasound gang and was attacked by Hu’s husband and four other men as she left the police station. It didn’t say if she was injured.

Gender testing, although banned, is rampant and usually takes place in clinics.

Perpetrators can face fines and jail time. The report said Hu had been imprisoned for six months for past gender identification offenses.

October Baby Star John Schneider Says Movie Is Not about Politics



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Suzanne Venker wrote a great piece about why we should all see the new movie October Baby, a flick about a college freshman who finds out she’s the adopted survivor of an attempted abortion. Suzanne writes:

Any movie that’s considered off-limits to the media elite should make you want to see it all the more. We have two options when it comes to assessing matters of a moral nature: We can be told how to think or we can think for ourselves.

Rebecca Cusey also recommends the movie and interviewed Dukes of Hazard star John Schneider, who plays the main character’s loving but flawed father Jacob. Rebecca writes:

And Baby focuses a lot on honesty and integrity but this isn’t simply the message movie that some make it out to be, according to Schneider. While many see Baby as strictly a pro-life film, Schneider disagrees. He doesn’t see the movie as being either for or against abortion. “I see it as a forgiveness and healing film,” he said.

But he says that the movie offers up “a different perspective.” “I’d never heard of abortion survivors” before reading the script, he said. And he was so surprised by the concept that he had to reread the page where the concept was introduced.

Schneider didn’t discuss the politics of the movie with me but he told me that those who would automatically reject the concept because of its focus on an abortion survivor should keep an open mind about seeing the film. Schneider—who said that he doesn’t believe that “there’s anything such thing as a Republican or a Democrat anymore”—was quick to note how much he enjoyed debating politics with Bill Maher on the show Politically Incorrect and hopes that people continue to engage in thoughtful discussions, even about controversial subjects and he hopes that Baby can lead to such a conversation.

“I would love to be privy to the conversations in the car on the way home” after seeing the movie, he said.

Read the whole interview here, and see the trailer here.

And Speaking of Adoption . . .



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My daughter Naomi didn’t begin life with many advantages. She was born in one of the poorest countries in the world and was one of its most destitute members. She was as starved as one can be and still survive, weighing only 12 pounds as a two-year-old toddler. When we picked her up from the orphanage, she didn’t even own the clothes on her back.

But two years after her adoption, there she was, eating bacon-wrapped scallop hors d’oeuvres and jumping into the arms of who I firmly believe will be the next president of the United States. Although she doesn’t look thrilled in this photo, it’s only because there were trees outside the window which had been draped with lights and which were infinitely more interesting than any politician. However, now when she sees Governor Romney on television, she says, “Why can’t Naomi see Romney and the trees?” 

America, the land of opportunity!

(Disclaimer: I’m an evangelical for Mitt Romney.)

Adoption: Where Beliefs Meet Real Life



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Adoption is one of the bedrocks of the pro-life position, where philosophy and political beliefs meet real life. Instead of arguing about the moral ramifications of “the morning after pill,” adoptive parents are up all night rocking their little one suffering from a head cold. Instead of picketing, adoptive parents might be at their kid’s school program. Instead of delving into the nuances of all the GOP candidates’ various pro-life positions, they might be trying to teach their child how to tie shoes.   

Adoption is a wonderful, lovely, intimate experience. It’s also hard. That’s why, as pro-life advocates, we ought to celebrate people such as Ron and Andrea Ferrell, who have adopted two children from Russia. Andrea writes beautifully about her experiences here:

My third child, a son, has a diagnosis looming in his future.

We carried him out of a Russian orphanage nine months ago. He just turned two and is delayed. We have been immersed in the strange underworld of therapy. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, speech therapy – It’s a creative world where everyone has ideas, many disagree, no one has answers. Lots of trial. Lots of error. It’s a grand experiment. Everyone keeps telling me early intervention is key. So, we work. My little man works hard. Most days I don’t want to be his therapist; I want to be Mama.

Therapists tiptoe around me, afraid to use words like “diagnosis” and “neurological.” I ask for candor. I gently remind them we signed up for this. This son is the biological sibling to my first son (adopted six years ago). We adopted him knowing the birth-mother’s history. Yes, it’s ugly. It’s as ugly as it gets. Those diseases you fear? She’s got them. Those behaviors on the no-no list for pregnant mothers? She’s done them all. No, it doesn’t scare me. I’m on my third kid. I’ve been six months pregnant in the middle of Siberia. I’ve seen Nelson in concert. It’s gonna take a lot more than this to scare me.

Read it all here, say a prayer for their little one, and perhaps put that parental fear you’re feeling in the right perspective.

Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light and Hope



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It’s always discomforting to hear the news of a public person’s death, and I was truly saddened to hear of Thomas Kinkade’s death. As a Southern Christian, I see his work everywhere — in friends’ homes, in public businesses, and on Christmas cards. In fact, he’s so popular among evangelicals that he’s “the Christian’s artist,” just as Tim Tebow is “the Christian’s football player” and Chick-Fil-A is “the Christian’s fast food.” Kinkade successfully franchised art galleries, sold $100 million worth of art and replicas annually, and had art on the walls of roughly 10 million homes.

However, I’ve always felt bad that I’ve never enjoyed his work. When my friends showed me their newly acquired paintings, I would feign appreciation while trying to come to terms with what exactly made me dislike the piece. What’s not to like? Idyllic cottages, sunsets, vibrant flowers, chimneys emitting a smoky trail into the beautiful mauve sky…

Yes, the artistic elite (which celebrated Christ submerged in a bottle of urine) despised him. However, the “the enemy of my enemy” feeling couldn’t even propel me to like Kinkade’s ubiquitous work.

Upon his death, I’ve gone back and looked at his pieces, hoping for a spark of appreciation. Yet I’m still left with that same uneasy feeling. Tonight, I came across an article which helped me understand my feelings about the amazingly successful commercial artist:

Let’s be very clear here right at the outset. Thomas Kinkade was not a bad artist. Thomas Kinkade was an exceptionally talented artist with excruciatingly bad taste. He was a hack, and a tremendously successful one. A hack is someone who sells his talent to the highest bidder, with little concern for niceties like artistic integrity. I’m a hack myself, and let me tell you something: if I found a way to create the writing equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting, and make as much money as he did, I’d do it in trice.

Writer Thomas McDonald is the self-described “hack,” and he definitely had my attention, especially when he quoted Simcha Fisher:

By showing light in the form of exaggerated highlights, fuzzy halos, and a hyperluminescent shine on everything, regardless of where they are in the composition, he [Kinkade] isn’t revealing the true nature of — anything. It’s a bafflingly incoherent mish-mosh of light: an orange sunset here, a pearly mid-morning sheen there, a crystal-clear reflection in one spot, a hazy mist in the other — all impossibly coexisting in the same scene. This picture:

makes sense only as a depiction of an oncoming storm, with heavy smog in some spots and total visibility just inches away (blown by what wind, when the chimney smoke rises undisturbed?), several cordless Klieg lights, possibly a partial eclipse, and that most cheerful of pastoral daydreams: a robust house fire. This is a lovely fantasy in the same way as it makes lovely music when all of your favorite instruments play as loudly as they can at the same time. Listen, and go mad.

Where is the source of light? This isn’t just clumsy execution, this is an artist who cannot see — who knows nothing at all about light, what it is for, or whence it comes. (Or, more frightfully, an accomplished artist who has discovered that it’s much more lucrative to quash his understanding of these things.)

Kinkade isn’t content with shying away from ugliness: He sees nothing beautiful in the world the way it is. He thinks it needs polishing. He loves the world in the same way that a pageant mom thinks her child is just adorable — or will be, after she loses ten pounds, dyes and curls her hair, gets implants, and makes herself almost unrecognizable with a thick layer of make-up. Normal people recoil from such extreme artifice — not because they hate beauty, but because they love it.

Kinkade-style light doesn’t show an affection for natural beauty — it shows his disdain for it. His light doesn’t reveal, it distorts. His paintings aren’t merely trivial, they’re a statement of contempt for the world. His vision of the world isn’t just tacky, it’s anti-Incarnational.

The entire article is worth reading, especially for those of you who avert your eyes when looking at one of the tranquil paintings but can’t put your finger on exactly why. McDonald concludes:

Kinkade’s most successful work was crass and unappealing, but at least he was trying to create something beautiful that evoked a good feeling in people, no matter how badly he went about it. The modern art most praised by the art establishment is nasty, ugly, pointless, dehumanizing garbage with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Crap artists like Tracy Emin are lionized by critics and showered with cash for turning out un-art that shows nothing but contempt for humanity.

The cosmic joke is that, technically, Kinkade’s skills are so far superior to Emin’s that it’s almost comical, but he made the mistake of peddling hope instead of despair, and that’s an unforgivable sin in the post-modern world. If his cozy cottages were splashed with blood and sheathed in condoms, he’d have his own wing in the MOMA by now. And that, not Kinkade’s comforting kitschy fantasies, is the real crime of modern art.

In any event, may he rest in peace, and may God grant comfort to those who loved him.

Read all of McDonald’s article hereclick through to see some fantastic earlier Kinkade paintings! And, if you’re one of those friends who proudly showed me your new painting, I’m sorry I mumbled something about loving the colors. 

The Grinches Who Stole Easter



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On Easter morning, my husband and I will watch our three young children tear into their Easter baskets overflowing with small toys and all sorts of delicious, colorful candy. They will have a breakfast of hollow chocolate bunnies, peanut-butter-filled eggs, jelly beans, gummy bears, and, of course, Peeps. This jolt of sugar will help fuel them as they run feral around our backyard competing to find hidden Easter eggs.

This is a cherished once-a-year tradition in our family. Yet to some, my husband and I will be doing nothing less than poisoning our children. One prominent doctor, now supported by the mainstream media, argues that two ingredients in candy, soft drinks, juices, and other much-loved treats — sugar and high-fructose corn syrup — are toxic.

Just in time to ruin everyone’s favorite candy-filled holiday, the Grinches who stole Easter over at 60 Minutes ran a story last week on Americans’ consumption of sugar and asked, “Is sugar toxic?” But 60 Minutes and guest reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta weren’t really interested in examining that question. They’d already accepted the emphatic “yes” provided by Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist and a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who has a particular interest in childhood obesity.

In 2008, Lustig delivered a lecture on obesity that blamed sugar consumption not only for obesity, but for a variety of other deadly diseases (the lecture was eventually uploaded on YouTube and has received over 2 million views). Lustig bases his theory on the fact that while sugar consumption is down 40 percent, Americans consume more high-fructose corn syrup than ever before, and this rise in corn-syrup consumption has gone up in conjunction with rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, Lustic believes sugar and corn syrup are the silver bullets — the things killing Americans. In Lustig’s opinion, eradicating these products from our diets will cure cancer, heart disease, type-II diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

60 Minutes usually at least tries to present itself as practicing investigative journalism, but this segment barely allowed time for another point of view. In fact, the nearly 14-minute segment dedicated just one minute and 16 seconds to Louisiana sugar-cane farmer and Sugar Association board member Jim Simon’s perspective, and within that time frame, Simon actually spoke for only 18 seconds.

This is no surprise. The mainstream media has colluded with would-be government regulators for years — scaring the wits out of Americans about everything from tuna fish to eggs, salty snacks, conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, milk, soft drinks, ground meat, and even red M&Ms, just to name a few items that have been in the food nannies’ crosshairs over the last decade.

It’s perfectly appropriate, of course, for the medical and research fields to examine sugar and other food items’ impact on the human body. Yet Americans should be warned that Lustig and his allies don’t just want to raise awareness about potential health concerns. They want to solve America’s sugar “problem” through increased government regulation and taxes on sugar, sweeteners, and the food that contains them.

We’ve seen how this government meddling works. In fact, as Gupta reminded his 60 Minutes audience, it wasn’t always sugar that was the bad guy. In the 1970s, fat was the boogeyman, and Congress, led by Senator George McGovern, held multiple hearings on the need for Americans to reduce fat intake. As a result, Congress issued guidelines to the general public and pressured the food industry to reduce fat in their products. Industry complied, and, as one researcher admitted in the 60 Minutes piece, the food tasted “like cardboard.” To improve taste and texture without violating government’s new dictates, food manufacturers increased other ingredients, such as salt and sugar.

Fast forward to today. According to Lustig and many other doctors and researchers, fat was never really the problem. Oops! But don’t worry; sugar has taken fat’s place as the great toxic ingredient.

Before Americans buy into this latest food scare, they should ask themselves: In 20 years, will this “sugar is toxic” narrative be revealed as another scientific oopsie? And just how far are we going to allow government to go in encouraging us to cut out the sweet stuff? How about higher taxes? Or should they just outlaw candy, sugar, and other sweeteners completely?

Reasonable people understand that they need to make food choices all the time, and not every day should be treated like a holiday. Losing weight and living a healthy life have a lot to do with making good food decisions, limiting portion sizes, getting a moderate amount of exercise, and practicing self-control. Yet demonizing one ingredient over another is a recipe for diet disaster — and a pretty boring Easter morning.

— Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Ryan Gosling’s Thankless Save



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The recent story about actor Ryan Gosling’s saving a woman from being hit by a cab is a fantastic illustration of all that is wrong with the modern generation — at least in America and Great Britain.

A Brit named Laurie Penny was crossing Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and looking the wrong way. A taxi was headed directly toward her when, lo and behold, heartthrob Ryan Gosling came to her rescue, grabbing Penny and pulling her out of the way. It was a classic “man saves woman” story. Who doesn’t love that?

Apparently, Penny. A self-described feminist, Penny was insulted by the media’s response. “I really do object to being framed as the ditzy damsel in distress in this story,” she wrote online. “I do not mean any disrespect to Ryan Gosling, who is an excellent actor and, by all accounts, a personable and decent chap. . . . But as a feminist, a writer, and a gentlewoman of fortune, I refuse to be cast in any sort of boring supporting female role.”

Good grief.

If Western women want to know where all the good men have gone, they need only look in the mirror. Not only can men no longer hold the door open for women or pay the check after dinner, they can’t even save a woman’s life and get a simple thank you.

Feminists have totally destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Not all women seek the feminized version of the American male. Most women like big, strong, sexy men. They want men who are willing to put out fires, fight in combat, and, yes, even save damsels in distress. But in post-feminist America, Marlboro Man is a rare breed. We can thank women like Penny for that.

If Americans don’t wake up to the evils of feminism, the next time a woman walks down the wrong side of the street, the men of America will simply walk right past her and let her get hit.

And we’ll have no one blame but ourselves.

— Suzanne Venker is the author of The Flipside of Feminism. Her new book, How to Choose a Husband, will be published in February 2013. Suzanne’s website is www.suzannevenker.com.

Ben & Jerry’s ‘Apple-y Ever After’



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Greg, I understand why parents would protest this kind of ice cream, which was made to show solidarity with gay marriage.

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