What’s Wrong with Harris County?


A few days ago I called it the biggest under-reported news story of 2015.

I was referring to the damning series of stunning undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood as a house of abortion horrors and as a key supplier/source for research labs eager to obtain intact baby parts.

Since then, the story has taken an Orwellian turn. First this:

Grand jury in Texas indicts activists behind Planned Parenthood videos.

How could this be? Perhaps this can explain the inexplicable:

Planned Parenthood Board Member Works in Office of D.A. Who Indicted David Daleiden

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah,

Palin BookIt’s been almost six years since my colleague Stephen Mansfield and I researched and wrote our book about you—The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin.

We wrote it in a publishing environment in which nearly all profiles of political personalities were either hagiographies crafted to praise them to the heavens; or hit pieces hoping to make the target look like the spawn of a love connection between Josef Mengele and Caligula.

Both types of books lie in the space somewhere between PR and propaganda.

That is not the kind of book we were interested in writing. To their credit, Frontline Books allowed us to write a thoughtful, objective exploration of your faith journey and worldview from an unapologetically Christian and conservative perspective.

We weren’t out to promote you. Nor were we out to tear you down. We were neither fanboys nor haters.

In a season in which many were speculating about whether you might choose to run for the presidency in 2012, we were out to give open-minded readers the fairest, most sensitive understanding possible of what shaped you and what drives you. Or, as the title promised—your faith and values.

In researching your life, words, and actions we found much to admire, and I believe this comes through in the book. For me, three of your strengths stood out as being especially impressive and praiseworthy.

u-s-constitutionThe first was your tenacious and passionate commitment to constitutional constraints on the power of government. We described the way you consistently pointed to Alaska’s constitution as a candidate; and we cited numerous instances in which you courageously stayed true to those principles while in office.

You have always seemed to understand that fallen, fallible, corruptible, humans require iron-clad restraints of constitutional limitations when they exercise political power.

The second was your seemingly clear understanding that our nation had too many individuals and corporations gorging themselves at the government trough. In numerous speeches you’ve rightly pointed out that the welfare state fosters dependence; and that when corporations and whole industries become recipients of taxpayer money, it results in something very unhealthy for our republic.

Thirdly, we admired your unapologetic commitment to Christian values and the pro-life cause.

palin-trumpAll of which makes your recent endorsement of Donald Trump not only disappointing but baffling. And I’m not the only one struggling to reconcile your ethusiastic cheerleading for Mr. Trump with the principles you’ve articulated and lived in public over the last ten years.

In an effort to solve this mystery, numerous cynics have opined that you, after several years of declining relevance, have tossed aside your principles for an opportunity to share a very bright spotlight once again.

I’ll not try to guess your motive. I personally think presuming low motives of those with whom we disagree is a very low and nasty form of argumentation. Even so, it is one of Mr. Trump’s favorite devices—along with name calling, crass insults, and schoolyard taunts.

I will say that it is highly ironic that your joining yourself to the traveling Donald Trump circus coincides with two events that the old, principled Sarah Palin would have found worthy of cheering.

The first is Ted Cruz’s refusal to bow his knee and kiss the ring of the Corn Growers Lobby in Iowa. In the past, most conservative candidates campaigning in Iowa have felt it necessary to toss their principles aside and pander to the powerful corn grower/ethanol industry. But not Cruz. Cruz is standing on principle even though it is almost certainly damaging his prospects in strategically important Iowa. (Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is in full blown pander mode, praising ethanol subsidies left and right.)

The Sarah Palin I used to admire would have found some nice things to say about Mr. Cruz’s courage.

Secondly, only one presidential candidate was present in snow-buried Washington, D.C. at the annual March for Life event a few days ago to show solidarity with the pro-life movement.

Carly Fiorina stood before a throng of pro-life activists and sent a message out to the pro-abortion activists who show up and try to shout her down at every campaign stop:

“You can scream and throw condoms at me all day long.  You won’t silence me. You don’t scare me. I have battled breast cancer. I have buried a child. I have read the Bible. I know the value of life.”

That’s the kind of full-throated, warrior-woman battle cry that used to earn an “amen” and an “atta girl” from you. But it didn’t. It couldn’t.

It could not because you’ve hitched your wagon to the wrong horse. And I can’t help but find that sad. You’re better than this.


David A. Holland








The Biggest, Under-Reported News Story of 2015

Media Self-Censorship

In the 1850s and ’60s, courageous writers exposed readers to the horrors of slavery and the Abolitionist Movement was born.

In the early 1900s, Upton Sinclair pulled back the curtain and gave America a horrifying look at the meat-packing industry, triggering a public outcry that produced significant reforms.

In the same era, other journalists, who Teddy Roosevelt admiringly dubbed “muckrakers,” went undercover to expose other festering societal cancers to the light of day.

Fast-forward to 2015. As I pointed out in this blog post, journalism is largely dead.

Today the the entire news gathering, news reporting apparatus in the United States is wholly dedicated not to keeping the powerful accountable but rather keeping liberals/Progressives in power and advancing the liberal/Progressive agenda.

Some journalists now take talking points directly from the White House. Many others participate in large email listservs that allow them to shape coverage and therefore shape narratives. (See the JournoList Scandal for example)

Media bias doesn’t just manifest in the way stories are covered. It’s most insidious manifestation is in the way certain stories are ignored (see: Benghazi/Hillary/”What difference, at this point, does it make?”)

The American deaths and heroics at Benghazi, and the subsequent government cover-up, was the most underreported story of 2013. So what about this last year—2015?

That would be the explosive exposé by The Center for Medical Progress of Planned Parenthood’s gruesome harvesting and marketing of baby parts. Over the course of six months in 2015 the courageous group released  a series of videos of clandestinely taped conversations with various Planned Parenthood officials.

The released videos included:

Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts

Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods

Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen

Human Capital – Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site

Human Capital – Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product

Top Planned Parenthood Exec: Baby Parts Sales “A Valid Exchange,” Can Make “A Fair Amount of Income”

Planned Parenthood TX Abortion Apprentice Taught Partial-Birth Abortions to “Strive For” Intact Baby Brains

“PROFIT” – Planned Parenthood’s Illicit Moneymaking From Baby Body Parts

“HARVEST” – Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Better Baby Parts

In a fairer, more just world the content these videos would have unleashed a firestorm of media attention so ferocious that Planned Parenthood would have been fully defunded and no donor this side of Josef Mengele would have given it a penny.

Obviously, that is not the world we’re living in. The mainstream media completely ignored the first few videos. In fact, the first time most of the major news outlets even acknowledged the existence of the bombshell exposé is when Planned Parenthood issued an official response.

The truth about Benghazi could not be suppressed. Americans are finally learning the truth. Hopefully the horrifying truth about Planned Parenthood’s barbarism will not stayed buried either.

However, as I write, Planned Parenthood, with deep pockets from fat-cat donors and taxpayer dollars, is suing The Center for Medical Progress.

On Bad Luck

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

—Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)

Vocal Fry, UpTalking & Stuff You Should Know

{Welcome to Cranky Blog Theater, I’m your host Geezer McCrotchety.}

sysnSo . . .

“Stuff You Should Know,” hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, is consistently one of the most widely downloaded podcasts on iTunes. I dialed up an episode while working out at the gym recently—an October episode titled “Vocal Fry and Other Speech Trends.

I didn’t make it to the three-minute mark of the presentation before my eyes were rolling so hard they almost shot out of my head. I’ll explain why in a moment.

If you’re not familiar with the “vocal fry” trend, here’s a two minute introduction to the now ubiquitous affectation among younger women:


The “Other Speech Trends” mentioned in the title of the SYSK episode included something called “uptalking.” What is “uptalking” you ask? Read the previous sentence out loud and take note of how your inflection rises at the end of the sentence. When you’re an uptalker? You pretty much end every phrase? With a question-y inflection? Even when it’s not a question?

I’m hearing it everywhere these days. In fact, I work around enough younger people that I frequently hear it coming out of my own mouth. It’s infectious.

I’ve noticed several movies and sitcoms recently where they use excessive uptalking in a character as a device to quickly show the audience that this person is un-smart, shallow and a little ridiculous. It’s an effective device.

To be fair, uptalking can actually serve a function in communication. When a speaker ends with a questioning inflection a sentence that is structurally a statement, he or she is essentially saying, “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Or, “Do you follow?” But a little uptalking goes a long way.

Nevertheless, the video above is just one example of many pieces currently in print and in media where women attempt to warn other women that they are undermining their credibility and damaging their career/business prospects through these affections. For example, here’s this video from a woman coaching public speakers to avoid up talking,

And here’s militant feminist Naomi Wolf in The Guardian with a piece titled, “Young Women, Give Up the Vocal Fry and Reclaim Your Strong Female Voice.” I could provide a hundred more examples, but you get the point.

So, imagine my surprise when I encountered the following thesis from the co-hosts of “Stuff You Should Know.” It’s right there in the synopsis of the podcast episode:

You’ve heard lots of complaints about vocal fry, mostly from older white men. But it’s not exclusive to the Kardashians. Learn all about vocal fry, upspeak and other quirky speech trends in today’s episode.

That’s right. In the face of an Internet full of evidence to the contrary, Josh and Chuck are absolutely convinced it’s us “older white men” doing the bulk of the grumbling about vocal fry. This, of course, is demonstrably false. Wildly inaccurate. Embarrassingly wrong.

The criticism is coming almost exclusively from professional women valiantly trying to help younger women not sound like imbeciles.

But wait, there’s more.

Six-and-a-half minutes into the podcast, Josh and Chuck decided to double down and build something awesome on the imaginary foundation of their false premise.

They hypothesize  that the  reason we “older white men” hate hearing 20-somethings croak-talking and using “like” every  fourth word as a crutch is . . . wait for it . . .  we’re “afraid.” And super sexist, apparently. Here’s a snippet:

“So . . . I think those people [older white males]  are just . . . they’re feeling like they’re not relevant any longer. And no one wants to be a dinosaur.”

“Yes. Yes.”

“And so . . . ‘I don’t understand this language these young women are speaking . . .‘”


“Which is B.S. because a lot of young men and women speak that way.”


“It’s just called the way the younger generation speaks. And it’s not like you old man!”

“Right. So just go off to pasture and . . . chew some cud.”

/ /

“I don’t think anybody is trying make to the older, middle-aged, white man feel irrelevant . . . But I think you have nailed it on the head, though, like, like, I think it’s a form of contempt for being replaced by something new.


(Heavy sigh.)

This, dear reader, is what had me sputtering and muttering in disbelief on the stair climber.

These two darlings of the NPR crowd asserted—earnestly—that guys like me are complaining about uptalking teens and vocal frying twenty-somethings (we’re not) solely because we resent the fact that they are (supposedly) taking over the world. (And by this I think they mean a handful of young women are selling a lot of records and cashing in on reality TV.)

That’s right. According to the SYSK guys, there’s a vast, pasty, geezer-y conspiracy to defend our shrinking patriarchal prerogatives by bewailing vocal fry.

Where to start?

Again, their entire tiresome, PC thesis is built upon a false premise—namely that it’s men doing most of the complaining about these faddish speech patterns. (They cite NPR’s Bob Garfield as their sole example of this. In fact, I suspect Bob Garfield is the sole data point for this assertion.)  But, as I’ve already pointed out, virtually all of the coaching and advising and warning against these vocal tics is coming from women.

(For example, see here, here, here, and here.)

For the noblest of reasons, professional women in the real world of jobs and paychecks (as opposed to the surreal world of reality television and the entertainment industry) are trying to help younger girls do better in this world.

Please note: This blog post isn’t an example of an “older white male” complaining about vocal fry in young ladies. No, this is an older white male complaining about the mindless identity politics and ignorance of two “younger white males” who, ironically, have a show called “Stuff You Should Know.”

Hand to God, I don’t care about vocal fry. Or uptalking. And Bob Garfield notwithstanding, I’ve never heard or read any fellow pale geezer who does.

Unless your last name is Holland and you call me “Daddy,” I sincerely don’t care how you talk or present yourself. Undermine your career prospects all you want, boys and girls. Get a neck tattoo while you’re at it. Me and my fellow dinosaurs are indifferent. Or tired. Maybe both. Where was I? Oh yeah . . .

Which brings me to the second flimsy  premise in Josh and Chuck’s searing indictment of imaginary old guy vocal fry bashers. It is their assertion that young, twenty-something females are such an emergent, runaway juggernaut of economic power that we patriarchs have been reduced to bleating in fear and rage about the way Katy Perry talks.

None of that is grounded in reality.

A Trifecta of Wrongness

The Stuff You Should Know guys misread this phenomenon in a third key way. They seem to believe this surge of interest in the silly way young folks are talking is the first instance of its kind in the history of Western Civilization.

The fact is, telling young people—male and female—that it will enhance their success prospects if they avoid talking like nincompoops is not new at all. Younger people have always tended to take on speech affectations that undermine their credibility. And individuals from the grown up world of paychecks and promotions have always pointed out that they would be well served to cut it the heck out.

Was it anti-male sexism thirty years ago when mothers suggested their sons should probably stop talking like these guys . . .


Jeff Spicoli, of Ridgemont High. Gnarly.


Bill and Ted. Excellent dudes.

. . . if they hoped to ever get a decent paying job? Or were they actually saying this merely because they were afraid of our awesome emerging power in the popular culture and didn’t like “feeling like a dinosaur?”

The 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s all featured their linguistic equivalents of uptalking and vocal fry-ing. There’s a great scene in the 1947 Cary Grant movie, The Bachelor and Bobby Soxer, in which Grant encounters and mimics some of the ridiculous ways young people were talking in the Post-war period:

No, Chuck and Josh, your psychoanalysis of us “older white males” of America needs some work. And all of the above is some stuff you should know.