Category Archives: America

I think I just threw up on my mouth a little

Taco Bell is coming out with a new breakfast drink, Mountain Dew A.M., made up of Mountain Dew and orange juice.

My favorite drink was Mountain Dew until I reached my late 20s when I had to stop drinking caffeine. Even animals like it. When I was a teenager, I had a cat that liked Mountain Dew. She would drink it out of my glass if I didn’t keep an eye on her.

The only problems with the Dew, as the Consumerist points out, is that it doesn’t make for a good mixer (much like Kool-Aid, which I found out during unfortunate night of running out of Coke with some Johnny Walker Red left in the bottle. Bad, bad night. Even worse following day).

On the other hand, Mountain Dew fans are hard core. They’ll give anything with Mountain Dew a try. Maybe it works, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

America hating conservatives, or not.

I was sent this in an email today:

Why do conservatives hate Americans?: Given the Right’s recent lurch toward Ayn Rand-style Objectivism, it seems that an intelligent journalist would put the following facts together:

1. 80% of Americans own only 7% of America’s wealth.

2. The new mainstream in conservatism maintains that the poor are only poor because of laziness and lack of initiative.

It’s not exactly a leap in logic to point out that mainstream conservatism now maintains that 80% of Americans are simply ungrateful, lazy bastards who need tough love to do better.

In that context, trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare makes sense for them. But shouldn’t someone start asking, then, why conservatives have such contempt for the vast majority of Americans, and their work ethic? It’s not a hard question to ask. The politics of it may be controversial, but the logic isn’t.
(source)

The problem with the leap of logic is that both premises are flawed.

1. The statistic that 80% of Americans only control 7% of the wealth is based on studies that exclude much of the wealth of the “80%” including their cars and household items. Even more striking, these studies do not include “non-home wealth” (i.e. home equity) like a UCSC study did.

No wonder the figures looks so out of balance. They exclude the majority of wealth of the middle class, while including a majority of the wealth of the “rich”. The comparisons are apples and oranges, but that is what you do when you want to incite class warfare.

2. Conservatism does not claim that being poor only derives from laziness and lack of initiative. It does suggest that taking initiative and hard work are solutions to poverty, but that is not to say the inverse of those traits are the causes.

No, poverty in America is generally the result of poor personal choices such as dropping out of school, single parenthood, or drug/alcohol abuse. The best ways not to be poor are to avoid those decisions. Most of all get married; there are very few children in poverty who live with both biological parents and married men tend to have higher employment and higher income. Children from intact families are more likely to graduate high school, and less likely to have a teen pregnancy or abuse drugs or alcohol, and not continue a cycle of poverty.

Basically, our economic problems have more societal causes (the decrease of marriage and increase of out-of-wedlock birth) than they do economic causes.

From the mouths of babes

One night last week, Honeybun was watching a TV show about 9/11 while I got Bailey ready for bed. When Bailey went in to give her mommy a hug and kiss goodnight, Honeybun paused the show. We try to be careful about what we let Bailey see. This show was more than we want her to see right now, but it just so happened that she paused the show as there was a picture of the remains of FDNY Ladder 3 on screen. The firetruck had been crushed when the World Trade Center towers fell. All 12 firefighters who rode the truck that morning were in the North Tower and died when it collapsed.
Remains of Ladder 3
Bailey noticed the picture on the screen and asked why the firetruck was broken. Not really a conversation you want to get into at bed time, but these situations never occur when you are ready for the discussion, but talking about a damaged firetruck doesn’t seem like the stuff of nightmares. So, I explained that some bad men made a building fall down on the truck.
“Did people die?”
Great. I didn’t really want to go there, but I’m not going to lie about it either. Best to just say the truth and not go into detail.
“Yes, people did die that day.”

“Did a lot of people die?”

(Sigh) “Yes, a lot of people died.”

“And they broke the firetruck. Will it ever work again?”

“No. It will never work again.” At least we got off the idea of so many deaths.

After that, we said our good night prayers and said a special prayer for the people who died that day.

She didn’t really seem to be bothered about the conversation and didn’t bring it up again the following week. But that wasn’t the end of deep topics.

This past Sunday, I took Bailey to church. I decided to take my copy of Magnificat. She saw it and was mesmerized by the cover. This month’s cover is Marco d’Oggiono’s The Archangels Triumphing Over Lucifer.
The Archangels Triumphing Over Lucifer
She began by questioning about who the angels are. That led to the more menacing figure.
“Who is the man being put in the ground?”
“That is not a man. That is the Devil.”
“Why are they putting him in the ground?”
“He is bad.”
“Does he want to hurt and kill people? Is that is why they are putting him in the ground?”
“Yes. God told the angels to put him in the ground so that he can’t hurt anyone.”
After a bit more questioning, she was satisfied. (And yes, I realized the picture depicts an event that is generally considered to be a prophecy, but that whole conversation is a lot more than she is ready for at 4 1/2 years old).

That night I was putting her to bed and she brought it up again after her prayers.
“Daddy, why is the Devil bad?”
“He was an angel and he wanted take God’s place. But no one can take God’s place. Wanting to do that is disobeying God.”
“Is that why he is bad and wants to kill people?”
“Yes.”
She was silent for about a minute.

“Daddy, Daddy! It was the devil who knocked down those buildings and killed all those people and broke the firetruck.”
I was stunned at that statement.
“Well actually it was some bad men who knocked down the buildings.”
“But the Devil told them to do it.”
I couldn’t find the hole in her conclusion that time. “I think you’re right.”
“We need God to protect us from the Devil.”

Right on Sunshine.

Is “violent political rhetoric” the problem?

This past Saturday, a shooter attacked U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords that left 6 people dead and 14 injured. In less than an hour after the shooting left-wing pundits were blaming the shooting on Sarah Palin and the right wing while erroneously reporting that Giffords had been killed.

There is no evidence that any political rhetoric – left or right – had an influence on the shooter (may his name be blotted out). It is appalling that less than an hour after the shootings, left wing pundits were blaming Sarah Palin without knowing anything about the shooter or his motives employing a classic version of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy while ignoring the same rhetoric that comes from the left.

Now that more is coming to light, we know that the shooter had no definable political views – he even counts The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf among his favorite books. Furthermore, the shooter held his grudge against Rep. Giffords since 2007, long before Pailn (the supposed catalyst) was on the national stage.

The attack of a politician by a politically ambiguous mentally ill person follow is a long established pattern in this country that goes all the way back to the assassination attempt of Andrew Jackson by an unemployed painter. One of the reasons the attacker gave for his attempt on Jackson life was that “money would be more plenty” with Jackson dead. Noticeably similar, the shooter in this case also fixated on currency issues in his writings and statements.

John Hinkley was no more incited by Jimmy Carter’s warnings of Ronald Reagan being a “radical” and “hawk” that would endanger peace than the shooter on Saturday by any conservative rhetoric.

But what if the rhetoric was less heated? Michael Medved reminds us what happened in times where that was the case:

Killings often occur in placid political climates of consensus – as with the assassinations of popular, young centrist presidents, Garfield and Kennedy, following elections in 1880 and 1960 when major candidates largely agreed on issues. Fierce rhetoric doesn’t cause shootings, any more than consensus politics guarantees safety for our public figures.

Already the left is resorting to attempts to restrict speech. Attacking the wrong problem is worse than doing nothing at all by condemning those who were not culpable for any crime. Overt threats are one thing. Restricting speech that we don’t like because it is ambiguously “inflammatory” only serves those who want to silence those with whom they disagree.

What is a “Holiday Tree”?

Whole Foods Market near my house is selling so-called Holiday Trees.

What is a holiday tree?
What is a holiday tree?

And be sure not to forget your “Holiday Wreath”.

I have noticed that there is only one holiday for which retailers sell fresh cut trees. I have never met any Jewish people who decorates for Hanukkah by erecting and decorating a tree in their home. I have also not met any Muslims who prepare from Eid al-Adha by making sure there is enough space for their prayer mats next to the newly trimmed tree in their living room.

I also cannot help but notice that there are no trees for sale during the times leading up to Hanukkah or Eid al-Adha when those holidays do not fall during the Christmas season. For example, Hannukkah was on December 5 in 2007 and Eid al-Adha was on December 8, 2008. I did not see any “Holiday Trees” lots in front of Whole Foods for sale in early November the last two years. In fact, Whole Foods Market only stocked trees right after Thanksgiving, just in time for the Christmas season.

That tells me that Whole Foods Market knows that the only people who buy trees during the “Holidays” are people who buy them to celebrate Christmas. Sad that Whole Foods Market wants to profit from selling Christmas products but refuses to acknowledge the reason its customers by those products.

Hey Whole Foods. Americans celebrate Christmas, not generic holidays. If you are afraid of promoting Christmas, then don’t sell the products at all.

Holiday Trees? Come on. Really?

Criminal babysitting

Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett are detective constables (that translates to “police officers” in English) in the U.K. They job share so their hours are split. Shepherd has a 2-year old daughter, Jarrett a 3-year old daughter. The job sharing allows them trade babysitting with each other. Perfect arrangement, right?

Not so fast. These two police officers are breaking the law. According to a U.K. government agency, neither is registered with the government as a “child-minder” and therefore they are not lawfully allowed to babysit each others’ child. And really, one does have to question how responsible a constable could be. Clearly, no one can simply assume that someone able to exercise the authority of a detective constable would be qualified to care for another person’s child.

Thankfully we live in America where this kind of thing would never happen. Oh wait. Lisa Snyder in Middleville, Michigan has a school bus stop in front of her house. Some of her neighbors need to leave for work before the bus arrives so Lisa Snyder watches their children for 15 to 40 minutes until the bus arrives. She does this for free. Er…that is, she did it for free until Michigan’s Department of Human Service received a complaint that she was running an illegal child care center. Now the state is threatening her with jail time and a $1000 fine. All in the name of “protecting the children”. Because we all know that forcing children into a faceless day care center is much better than allowing parents to make decisions about who is able to watch their children.

Instead of “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” we are fast becoming the land of the regulated and the home of the government.

(Hat tip: Overlawyered)

Maine fining Christian organization

Three is a pattern. Add Maine to the list.

Elaine Thibodeau of the State of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation has sent a letter to the Christian Action Network (CAN) in which they were told to pay a fine totaling $4,000 for not being properly registered in the state as a fund-raising organization and for improperly using the name of Maine’s governor in its fund-raising letter. http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/maine-fines-group-for-inflammatory-anti-muslim-message/.

CAN says they were properly registered and have the canceled checks that Maine cashed to prove it. As far as using the governor’s name, telling people to write the governor does not imply the governor supports CAN’s position.

Most telling is that Thibodeau claims that CAN’s fund-raising letter “contained an inflammatory anti-Muslim message.”

Think about what that says. The state of Maine says that CAN (or anyone else) is not allowed to send a letter that contains an inflammatory anti-Muslim message. Certain Islamic sects and the U.N. agree with that, but it is not consistent with our constitutionally protected rights in this country. We have the right to make inflammatory anti-anything messages.

If there was any doubt there there is a trend to erode our rights in this country, there should not be any doubt now. First Connecticut, then California’s speaker, now Maine. Christians are a special focus in this trend. We must not be intimidated into being silenced.

What Bill of rights? (II)

The LA Times published an interview with the Speaker of the California Assembly last Saturday. One response with from her is particularly telling:

How do you think conservative talk radio has affected the Legislature’s work?

The Republicans were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: “You vote for revenue and your career is over.” I don’t know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it’s about free speech, but it’s extremely unfair.

Again we see a Democrat who does not understand democracy. She refers to free speech as terrorism. More importantly, she does not even understand that what she is actually bemoaning is the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. That means if we don’t like the government raising our taxes, we are constitutionally protected when we contact our legislators and tell them we will not vote for them if they raise those taxes.

We are in danger of losing our freedoms when people like California’s Speaker keep getting put back into office. Thankfully, she is up against a term limit and cannot be re-elected next year. This is why term limits are necessary.

(Hat tip: Hot Air)

What Bill of Rights?

This afternoon I was talking with someone about faith and work. I told him I thought this was an interesting time in our country. I see Catholics and Christians in general being more vocal about their faith and their right to participate in the public sphere. At the same time, I see more opposition than ever against people of faith in this country, specifically Christian faith.

I considered that a bit more and realized that trend of Christians being more outspoken is in response to the trend of trying to deny Christians their right to participate in public affairs. I found the proof of that a few hours later. The state of Connecticut has taken the lead in trying to disenfranchise Catholics. Earlier this year some Connecticut legislators introduced a bill to force the Catholic church, and only the Catholic church, to change its organizational structure. The bill was unconstitutional as the first amendment prohibits government from interfering with the exercise of religion. A state mandating the organizational structure of a church is so obviously the exact kind of interference that the first amendment prohibits that the sponsors were forced to withdraw the bill after attention was drawn to it. The archdiocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut was instrumental in leading the opposition.

Not content to just violate one clause of the first amendment, the state of Connecticut has upped the ante. Its Office of State Ethics has launched an investigation into the archdiocese’s actions in opposing the unconstitutional bill last March. The government claims that the archdiocese acted as a lobbying organization for higher buses to take people to protests and using its web site to encourage church members to contact their legislators about the bill. The government is claiming the archdiocese was required to register as a lobbying organization.

Bridgeport’s Archbishop William Lori calls the investigation a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. I says that it is also a violation of the right to petition the government. Requiring people or organizations to register as lobbyists, especially when they are targets of proposed legislation prohibits those organizations from exercising their right of petition.

Who would have thought that in 2009 there would be overt government action in this country to suppress a churchi? Yes, Christians are being more vocal because they must if they want to preserve their own rights.

Clinton accepts award named in racist’s honor

Last night Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood. The award is the organizations “top honor” and is named after their founder.

I find some irony that the Secretary of State serving the first black U.S. President is accepting an award named in honor of Margaret Sanger considering her racist views.

“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The mostsuccessful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if
it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
— Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon’s Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America . New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

“Today eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.”
— Margaret Sanger. “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda.” Birth Control Review , October 1921, page 5.

Sanger advocated forced sterilization of African-Americans (among others). She believed African-Americans were “unfit”. Not only would she have not voted for Barack Obama, she believed he should not have even been born. Yet President Obama’s Secretary of State accepted an award in honor of her.

Why there is no outcry over this racist award is scandalous.