Recently in Culture Category
[In case you think you've accidentally stumbled onto some sort of frilly women's blog, you have have not; you are in the right place. As a public service to my wife's blog, which is experiencing technical difficulties, I am publishing a recent post of hers here to ensure the cause gets adequate public attention and to allow her to point to the images from her blog until it is fixed. WARNING: This post contains no vitriol, sarcasm, personality destruction or raucus hoo-hawism such as our readers have come to expect here, and therefore I will not be held responsible if you become dizzy and fall off your chair while reading it. If you find you enjoy this sort of thing, please remember there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I encourage you to spend more time at my wife's blog which, at the end of the day, is probably doing the world much more good than this one.]
What a pleasure to "cap off" the first full week of blog posts for the Robert's Snow snowflake benefit auction with this feature of Matthew Cordell's darling contribution, "Snow Caps."
First, the snowflake:
Check out the front:
And the back:
Next, the bio:
Matthew Cordell is an illustrator of children's literature, newspapers, magazines, and many things in between. Though he spent most of his life in small town South Carolina, in 1999 he migrated midwest to set up shop in Chicago. It was there that he met his soon-to-be bride, his passion for children's books and deep-dish pizza.
Matthew's children's books include: Toby and the Snowflakes, Righty and Lefty, and The Moon is La Luna. Currently he is working hard on forthcoming picture books with Candlewick and Feiwel and Friends. Matthew now lives in the burbs of Chicago with his exceptional wife, picture book author and YA novelist Julie Halpern, and their squeezably soft Siamese cat, Tobin.
And, the self-portrait:
Julie Halpern and Matthew Cordell (as illustrated by Matthew):
Now, onto the Q&A:
Sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy, but then sometimes I think that regardless of what people think of me, they need at least a seed planted.
What would it take to convince you? Convince you of what, would be a good question. The answer though is startling: What would it take to convince you that your pet view of the world is wrong? For some, it might be what would it take to convince you that what you think the Bible says is not what it says. For others, what would it take to convince you that your view of civil rights in not what the constitution says.
Many of the "pet views" of people can be challenged in many ways. I'm going to address two categories, and for one, I'll address two different radical points of view.
One of the things as a country we generally approve is that competition breeds excellence. Competition between Firefox and Internet Explorer has made both better (well, okay, it has made IE better as the copy Firefox features and look and feel). Competition made Harley Davidson do better at making motor cycles; Japan finally got quality on the radar of American auto makers; telephone prices have come down, and telephone services have gone up (I remember $4 a minute for phone calls to California from Maryland before competition).
What about education? What choice do most people have for education? If you are rich, you can afford the taxes you already pay, and then the tens of thousands it costs for separate tuition. (Just one non-sectarian school charges upwards of $27,000/year Burke and there are others just as expensive.)
Another day, another rant. I'm getting frustrated with the concept that "we are trying to define ourselves". I can understand that whole-heartedly! We are a nation that pledges allegiance to a flag that law says can be desecrated as is our first amendment right. I see. If the flag means nothing to some of our citizens then an oath to it and the republic for which it stands also falls by the wayside. The logic follows that an oath of office holds no consequence as upholding the Constitution of the United States is just that....an oath that is hollow. So where do we focus on acceptability and accountability? Let's look.
Sounds like the tightening of border security is working! You know how you can tell? Just count the dead bodies!
This came to mind just before Independence Day and I was really feeling good about it. Then the computer went down for a week. Now I read a blog that elicited much comment and debate about God, liberals, conservatives, democrates, republicans, even the idiosyncrasies of our founding fathers. Although viewpoints are a wonderful thing and that free speech is one of our must cherished laws, I saw much disconnect and no commonality. Then I read a piece today from Ronald Maxwell and I felt good again. I think our commonality is civic duty.
I heard this term frequently growing up in the 50's and 60's but at the end of the 60's it seemed to die out. I would get it from scouting, teachers, parents, policemen, firemen, politicians; you name it. Now I never questioned my civic duty as it was told to me because common sense has always been my motivation (with God's help, of course). But recently I wondered why I don't here it anymore and I think it is because people don't understand what it is or how to perform it. If you don't know what your civic duty is, well, I'm going to tell you.
Can a homosexual change his orientation?
I'm sure the homosexuals, socialists, and atheists will say, "No, it's impossible; he's either lying, or was never really homosexual."
"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" (Luke 18:27)
The comic and tragic diverge on the point of whether the subject is I or thou.
Congratulations to the current graduates from Loudoun County schools. I hope you continue in your pursuit for knowledge and obtaining a quality life. I am very concerned, though, for what is being taught to our children and whether we are creating a better environment for them to build upon. Let me explain to you why I am worried about this countrys' future.
Religious intolerance and bigotry here in Loudoun county? You have to wonder. While most of the time people think of this in terms of the KKK, I have to wonder if the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. I hope not, and I hope our friend Loudoun Insider is wrong about the people of Loudoun. I hope we are collectively not a bunch of bigoted sods that would look at someone's religious views as disqualification from office. I cannot believe we have become so intolerant that we would take someone who is sincere about their faith--someone that is consistent--and pronounce them as unqualified for political office.
I personally believe all people would appreciate integrity; all people would appreciate consistency of belief. One of the things presently so distasteful to so many is the inconsistency of those that have signed pledges as delegates or candidates for the Republican convention here in Loudoun, and then reversed their position when they lost. We have all rightly said that is not acceptable behavior to say one thing, then do another. Would someone that is outwardly that religious do this? It certainly would not be in character.
For example, suppose I had decided that Gary Clemens should not have another term, and that even though he beat me in the convention, I felt I could beat him in the election. If I had run as an independent, I would expect that just mentioning that my position was contrary to my stated Christian beliefs would have me turning back to what is truly important (honoring God with all I do!) I have to put the election in God's hands; I have to live by my principles.
It appears those who do not value their word as bond could change what they do, or at least allow others to persuade them. I still hope for repentance on their part, but I have to believe they are not the "outwardly religious" people that LI states cannot be elected. Perhaps instead of deriding those that have character as unelectable, he should be pushing for more outwardly religious people to be running. It would suit his views on honoring signed pledges at the very least.
As one of Jack's commenters noted the other day, it is absolutely sinful for anyone to make money on "health" related work.
It therefore warms the cockles of my heart to learn that leftist auteur-provocateur Michael Moore is finally able to put his money where his mouth is by giving away the fruit of his labors.
Some things are just too important to be sullied by the profit motive.
[Continuing Loudoun Insider's worst nightmare, we have another great post from Brian Withnell as a comment on this post about whether it is appropriate to be paid for work in religion, health or education.]
I have only one major disagreement with this. A pastor is someone that cannot do any other task because God has called him to be a pastor. If someone could do anything other than be a pastor, they should not be a pastor. If someone thinks of being a pastor as a way to make money, they need to leave that "job" and get out of the church. The worker may be worthy of his wages, but those wages should be the median wage of the people attending his church.
As to teaching, I can say only that while I agree in principle, I find that I am constrained in much the same way. When I ran for Clerk, I actually had a strong hope that I would not win. I love teaching. It doesn't pay. (I paid more in taxes as an IT Director than the gross pay I receive now as a teacher.) But there is a reward in getting nearly every one of my students to pass the SOL this year. There are students that I tutored long into the evening, and other I came early to help in the mornings. And when I see those students passing what they thought they would not pass, it makes my day, week, month and year! I am sure that if things were different, I would be back to IT in a heart beat, but as it is, as long as I can stand the negative cash flow of being in teaching, I will. (I'm hoping that the increases in my taxes will eventually stop outpacing the yearly increases in salary, and that could eventually make it a "break even" proposition.)
Money is fun to have, seeing a student grasp a difficult concept (that is, seeing "the light bulb go on") is truly rewarding.
While that is true, I also understand that I'm the exception. Not many of the teachers I meet are converts from industry. Few in fact. I've not met any successful industry "convert" that wasn't dedicated to teaching. Having pay related to subject has been done in some areas, and from what I understand, it has had success. That said, I am still in a place where I'm paying forward what was given me, and more satisfied doing it than what the obvious lack of money would explain.
-- Brian Withnell
One of our socialist readers from Across the Pond posted an interesting comment yesterday. He concluded:
Three things should be eternally free from commercial interests - religion, education and health. Making money from any of those is morally contemptible.
-- Har Noah Neemus
I would like to address these seriatim.
'"Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and then detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them 'enemy combatants'," the court said.'
Article below the fold
I never thought I would live to see the day when Larry Flynt is the class act in the crowd. Flynn is a social uber liberal, a smut peddler, a member of the Democrat party and about as partisan as they have come. I do not like him, one bit. I recall him threatening to 'out' Senators who voted to convict Clinton during his trial. Yet here we are today, and Flynt is the voice from the left that actually sounds reasonable:
I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends.
A statement that while recalling the differences still gave the recently deceased the due dignity. Which is in sharp contrast to the following ...
he was such an unctuous, smug, obnoxious blowhard that it's really difficult not to celebrate his death. I'm trying, but it's .... so .... HARD
or the following two ...
No loss. It came 20 years too late.
First class *ssh*le..now worm food...the world finally makes sense.or elsewhere at the DU the following movie . Go see it for yourself.
This, alas, could be trouble, but my previously very private wife has now launched herself into the blogosphere with her own web log. I do not know if this is a reaction to the hellstorm I have stirred up as a bona fide local troublemaker but by the "vows" I am compelled to support it.
Such is life, as the French among us say.
I assume she won't spill any inside information about my continuing political black ops but will only talk about her girly writer stuff there.
UPDATE: Uh, yeah, upon further review my wife's blog IS probably a few notches higher than this one in terms of the "intellectual" factor. So we're obviously dealing with different audiences.
If you are not apprised of the free speech meltdown taking place at Tufts, click here for the whole story.
The Hot Air guys just did a serious, three-part interview with Stacy McCain and the good folks at the local paper of record. Enjoy.
'"I can't speak for white people, but that's crazy," said Adoma Adjei-Brenyah, a Columbia University student with college-educated parents from Ghana.'
The entire article by CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer is reprinted below. It was published 4/30/07:
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets site has photos from Wednesday's funeral of Cadet Matthew La Porte, one of the students murdered last week.
Interesting linked article and opinion by the Times' Stacy McCain:
Social criticism cannot explain Cho's violence for the simple reason that such violence is so extremely rare. There are millions of American college students, and only one of them has ever committed such a horrific massacre..
Read it all.
As a recent victim of online credit card theft and an overall scam aficionado, I take a special interest in the following note which just came across via e-mail from a friend.
Somehow, there's a way people are getting hold of credit card records minus one or two pieces of info. Maybe some careless Web site database was recently hacked? If so, the proprietors should be taken out and shot because you aren't supposed to store customer credit card info anymore unless you're using security and encryption measures out the wazoo. You're supposed to use a third-party like VeriSign to do the validation. In my case they had almost all of the needed info to place an order, and if not for the fact a flag went up when a large order of motorcycle parts under my name was getting "shipped to" Indonesia, I might not have known until long after my money had purchased some happy Indonesians a bracing ride through the Indonesian countryside. Which I hear is lovely this time of year.
But I digress. Get a load of the following. It would be VERY easy to be taken in by this one.
New Credit Card Scam
This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want.
Inside this little treat that showed up in the mail today from the Aquaculture Development and Seafood Marketing Program of Maryland are 7 recipes for Striped Bass, 4 recipes for Perch, and 1 recipe for Oyster Dressing. If I can figure out how to edit posts without deleting them, I'll list them all. For now, though, find the Free State Baked Stuffed Rockfish below the fold:
I don't know about you, but when our family went about the college search for our young'uns, we always kept a wary eye out for nefarious influences around campus: dope dealing, graffiti, toy dog clubs, and anything at all that reeked of Christianity.
So I had no small amount of sympathy for the College of William and Mary's brave decision to remove the terrible, anachronistic, 18-INCH Wren Cross from the property. Our children did not end up attending the school, but the wife and I occasionally enjoy a visit to the historic town. And heaven help me if I'm going to allow the missus to set foot in a place with actual CROSSES out in public display - and 18-inchers, no less!
And if I did have a kid enrolled in William and Mary, I sure as heck wouldn't want to mosey down there for the weekend expecting a nice ongoing tete-a-tete with the local reenactors, perhaps a spicy sex show or three, these types of things - and suddenly walk around a corner to have a friggin' cross arm poke us in the eyes. GHAA! Can you even imagine?
The College of William and Mary's removal of a cross from a campus chapel has won the Virginia school this year's "Campus Outrage Award" from a conservative student group...
William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol said he asked for the 18-inch cross to be taken from Wren Chapel in October because of concerns about offending non-Christians, and that he had received complaints about it. The removal of the cross -- to make the chapel "equally open and relevant to all," Mr. Nichol said -- made headlines and stirred protests by students, faculty and alumni of William and Mary, the nation's second-oldest college after Harvard.
An online petition to reinstate the cross garnered 18,000 signatures. Threats by an unnamed donor to withdraw $12,000 of funding from the college forced Mr. Nichol to change his decision on March 7. Mr. Nichol has established a committee to study the role of religion at public universities.
Just goes to show: money talks, even though our children's very souls hang in the balance.
May Morgan have mercy on them all.
I hope regardless of all our squabbling over peripheral issues here we can join together and declare Vote For The Worst is the funniest thing so far in the current millennium.
While there is still, admittedly, a long portion of the millennium to go, I'm guessing by the end this will still rank in the top five comedic events, alongside Al Gore's 2024 "New Ice Age" mea culpa speech atop the Michigan glacier, and various and sundry culinary pratfalls.
When Fox created this seemingly bulletproof formula of cranking up millions of teenboppers and evening slackers to "buy in" and jam the telephone lines twice a week, they did not consider the gargantuan bounty of the free market was, well, free.
Free to do the opposite.
This episode presents a case study for ascertaining the precise timeline for onset of cynicism regarding truly silly stuff among the American populace. The time table for pop culture has been set, I think we can all agree, at just about four years.
The only big question now is how many millions of dollars will Fox throw at this guy to just make it go away.
This is what I call blogging. Seriously, these periodic posts by Kevin are excellent primers which truly add to the national discussion.
And a fine day it was! Daytime beer and a walk through the neighborhood are such agreeable concepts.
Ok let's try it this way:
While most of you were still on the tail end of your Friday night festivities, trying to decide whether to go up to bed or just crash in the barco-lounger with a now-warm Budweiser and a colon-cleanser infomercial serenading, I was awake, relatively clean-shaven and on the road.
Photos at Digital Camel (click on each for larger images).
Sunday was the Paul Cebar show at Wolf Trap - another complete humdinger. Cebar manages the band like a conductor - which is important when the repetoire varies from 12-bar blues in 4/4 to zydeco to African- and Caribbean-infused funk in time signatures I am certain have Frank Zappa looking down from heaven with approval. He was in control. Cebar is one wild, funky dude, and when he smiles in the midst of some particularly intense section everyone present knows that all is right with the world. Such it was Sunday night.
Much of the material was from the latest album, "Tomorrow Sound Now For Yes Music People" (unfortunately not yet available at the online store, but here is a nice oldie if you want an immediate taste). Good stuff!
He brought down from B'more a generous supply of the legendary Superman Was Black batch from January and all I can say is WHOA people. That is one kick-butt brew. Kevin was already near the top of my list of favorite liberals, but this skill of his has pushed him toward the pinnacle.
If anyone out there has contacts in the brewing profession, perhaps with a highly-paid apprenticeship position available, you tell them they could do a lot worse than to give young Kevin a call. Superman, indeed.
The Ann Coulter remarks from Friday have created quite a to-do and resulted in some unfortunate confusion which I herewith intend to clear up.
Here is the exact quote from Ms. Coulter's address at CPAC:
I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.' So I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards, so I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions.
First, some initial points that need to be made:
Let me state for the record that I do not recommend anyone use the word "faggot" under any circumstances. It upsets people such as the folks at Equality Loudoun, who became quite agitated and unwittingly added to the confusion by making a number of misinformed claims - such as that this was Ms. Coulter's biggest applause line of the afternoon, when in reality it was about 5th. Furthermore, "faggot" is inarguably a pointed epithet which can evoke strong negative emotions from listeners and, as a general rule, for the sake of one's well-being, it is prudent to avoid doing this in the course of everyday life. It is also goes without saying it is a VERY rude thing to say in reference to gay people, in the same class as the n-word, although as will be noted I think such usage is about as common as the n-word nowadays.
Also, it is important to note that Ms. Coulter did not call John Edwards a faggot. The sentence structure is a combination of the pluperfect and future subjunctive forms and yields a hypothetical statement regarding both Mr. Edwards and the term in question. There is no reason to assume she did not choose her words carefully, because regardless of whatever else one might say about Ann Coulter few accuse her of being a poor writer. Her actual statement concerned what happens if you use a particular word. Considering that the public response to her statement has precisely confirmed what she said, there is a simple factual accuracy to the remark. In addition, as John Hawkins observes in the course of denouncing the remark, she was without doubt referencing an incident several weeks ago in which an actor went into rehab after publicly using the word 'faggot'. Ms. Coulter simply took a joke that was already half-made and plugged herself and Mr. Edwards into it.
Finally, before the false idea that Ms. Coulter's remark was representative of the outlook of "conservatives" in any degree goes any further, it must be noted that the universal "conservative" reaction has been negative. As noted in both the New York Times and Washington Post, the major Republican candidates have denounced it. In addition to Hawkins, every major right-of-center blogger I've found to have commented on the remark has denounced it: See Michelle Malkin, Ace, Captain's Quarters, American Mind, Right Wing Nuthouse, American Spectator, The Corner. I spoke with several bloggers at the conference and to a person they also denounced it.
The contention of this essay is that Ms. Coulter's remark is undeserving of the degree of opprobrium that has been heaped upon it and that conservatives, such as they are, do not need to be sprinting away from Ms. Coulter with such knee-jerk haste. In order to prove this point, we will focus on the word in question, Mr. Edwards, Ms. Coulter, and the context in which the word was used.
In another example of classic left wing hypocrisy, Ann Coulter is cited in the NYT, the SF Chronicler, and the Washington Post (WP) for her remarks regarding Edwards. Personally, I don't like the remarks. Comparing Edwards to gays via the old term 'faggot' is cruel to gays. The word 'faggot' was always used as a pejorative and the Edwards comparison is itself really nasty. Edwards is an opportunistic money grubbing, girlie-man, shyster-lawyer who claims to commune with the dead. The left wing mob (Dean, Kos, the DU) one and all denounce Coulter and demand that she apologize. If you go the the Kos, the DU or to any Democrat convention you will hear far more nasty things said about Republicans but MSM will simply not report it. How typical.
Note however the Bill Maher's remarks wishing that the vice president had died in the bomb blast has not received any attention from the NYT, or the WP. The SF Chronicler also has decided that Maher's murderous (and treasonous) death-wish is not news worthy. Nope, wishing the VP of the US to be killed by someone who is at war with the US is just a normal everyday occurrence. ABC understandably did not make a big deal out of this event and NBC did notice. Ann made the news on the three networks, but not Bill. UPI and Rueters carried the Coulter story, but not Mahers. No left wing bias here; its just what is news worthy. Nothing to see move along.
Our resident moon-bat, Zimzo, came out of his cave to denounce Coulter. We all were entertained by his usual spew. He is shocked and appalled that Ann could say such a thing; poor dear, hope he does not blow a gasket. I was worried he had 'movedOn'. But did Maher's wishing the enemy could score a victory in this war against us cause zimmzo any outrage? Nope.
Conservatives are a bigger threat in Zimzo's eyes than Al Qaeda. More tellingly the conservatives are a bigger threat in the eyes of the liberal press than is Al Qaeda. The enemies of this country are always given the benefit of the doubt. Note the interviews CBS had with Hussein, or with the Iranian President. On the other hand, the interviews Dan Rather had with either Bush, were hit jobs. No such clean slate for conservatives, their actions are always impugned with negative intentions.
Hypocrisy is on display. Bill Maher is given a pass, Ann Coulter is pilloried. She may need it. But some public scorn for Maher is way overdue. Will it happen? Don't hold your breath.
This started as a comment in singleton's smoking entry. You are in part responsible, for I started off writing a reply to YOU. There, now that I have shirked responsibility in a manner that would make any Democrat Senator proud, I shall continue...
We need to go back to the slide rule. We went to the moon with the slide rule. We cannot even determine a spacecrafts altitude correctly with these confounded 'confusers' (a.k.a computers). Have you noticed that people today cannot do addition and subtraction WITH computers? In case you are wondering what am talking about, does the name Ken Lay ring any bells?
This is an ongoing trend. Have computers have made us lame? Maybe. Have spell-checkers made us lame? Probably. Does 'not' smoking stop us from being lame as a nation. Nooooo.
Have you noticed the playgrounds got real lame? What happened to the teeter totters, swings and monkey bars. We now have crap that causes kids to stay inside and play x-box, eat twinkies and get fat.
I see the general level of lameness is growing with each generation. Allow me to explain, we went from:
A. Possibly the greatest generation. They lived through the great depression. They fought and won WWII. They built the Hoover Dam. They created the foundation for all the wealth we have today. They took us to the Moon. They flubbed raising their children, which is why they only get the "possibly" appellation. In case you are wondering what I am talking about here, see sections B&C below.
B. The 'me' generation. These are losers who brought us hippies, Bill Clinton, and the leisure suit. They claim responsibility for the computer boom and the internet, a la' Al Gore, when all that came of the Apollo program (see part A above). This is the original bed-wetter generation. They are the bozos who started the cattle drive into the psychiatrist's office and made it a status symbol (Along with screwing your neighbors spouse). With the greatest generation dying off like flies, we are running out of adults in a hurry. The 60 something's from the 'me' generation don't qualify. Considering they invented 'Depends' it all becomes clear. Soon they all will be back in diapers, a fitting end for them.
C. Then there are the Gen-X-ers. Possibly an improvement over the hippie-yahoo generation, but, after you hit bottom where else can you go? Face it, these clowns wished they had been old enough to have gone to Woodstock, (so they could have done 'what' when they got there?). They have by and large lived by sucking off the tit of the land. No innovation with possible exception of "junk-bonds". They did not experience sacrifice with the possible exception of having been children under the reign of President James Earl Carter. In the old days any chief, of a tribe with any self respect, would have lost these guys in a dense fog (preferably near a deep crevasse).
D. The Y generation. They are also known as the 'Y-me' generation. Whiney little snot nosed buggers. These are the spawn of the hippies. Amazing how much damage weed and LSD will do to an embryo. This bunch is good for getting body piercings, tattoos and high on either ecstasy or crystal-meth. The Y-me generation actually believes the propaganda from Green Peace, and, PETA. Many pine for the 60's. When a generation of people is reduced to wishing they were the 'me' generation, it's time to drive the bus over a steep cliff and leave nothing to chance.
Can we start climbing back out of the primordial ooze now?
A good story in yesterday's Times by NVTH's favorite Times editor, Stacy McCain:
"The Republican Party was founded specifically to abolish slavery," says Mrs. May, a writer who lives in McLean. "The first nine planks for the Republican Party dealt with civil rights for blacks. Republicans fought for the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments ... [against] total opposition from the Democrats."
Her quest to bring that history to life has resulted in a documentary, "Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution," which will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at McLean Bible Church and is available on digital video disc in time for Black History Month.
Here is a portion of the seared-into-our-memory late night panel discussion with Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn and Rob Long, from the NRI Summit, January 27, 2007. Enjoy.
Steyn: "I was the Islamophobe of the year ... I believe it's the only journalism award I've ever won."
Long: "Piece of advice: Don't go the award ceremony."
UPDATE: Whoa - welcome Michelle Malkin readers! We'll have some audio from Michelle's session up later tonight, Jack Bauer permitting.
UPDATE II: And welcome visitors from John Hawkins' 'Conservative Grapevine'! This has been a fairly decent spike in traffic, I must say.
Just got back from the Vegas trip after a delightful day hosted by the fine folks at TSA and United Airlines, and I must say I have not experienced such wonderful customer service since being marched to the lunchroom in elementary school, circa 1968.
It was all capped by an even more sublime level of delight, almost an unbearable level, when we landed in Dulles tonight and I realized I'd lost the parking ticket for Daily Lot 2. In the end this only added a little time to the trip, because it turns out they have the license plate number digitally filed, and after you fill out some minor paperwork the person in the booth looks you up and you get charged the same amount you would have paid anyway.
But the upshot is I'm a bit worn out so all we'll be talking about here is dinner, and that not so well. Here's how it all went down: After eating nothing but pretzels since noon, we arrived home to an empty refrigerator except for some select items. "Honey," I said, "I think this meal will be of the bachelor pad variety."
The wife quickly found a frozen dinner, and left me a cooking party of one.
My priorities being A) to eat, and B) quickly, I efficiently assembled four key components, to wit: tortilla chips, goat cheese, canned chili and jalapenos. After baking at 350 for 15 minutes, the final result looked like this:
This was exactly the result I'd been hoping for ... though I'd have accepted pretty much anything. Well, I hope this has been as edifying for you as it has for me, and that you enjoy the rest of your evening.
Click the link below for my official serving suggestion for this dish.
Here in the midst of the road trip I need to take a moment to jot down some random observations before I fall asleep and they are lost to history.
--24 has now nuked Southern California twice (several seasons ago it was the Mojave desert, remember?) I read an interview a couple years ago where the writers were discussing how they realized they couldn't just sustain the ominous threat of "nuclear blast on American soil" forever, and that there would be many opportunities to play "small ball" in future plots. Small ball, I'm guessing, means something like nuclear explosions all over the place and then Jack Bauer chews off the head of Beelzebub while the heavens part and continents sink into the sea. Also, probably, a Death Star comes into the picture at some point. Or terrorists have managed to get control of a comet which will split the Earth in five pieces, which occurs within the first two hours, leaving CTU spread dangerously thin and without functioning comm between the five severed chunks of planet now in gravitational orbit around the moon.
--Possible new 24 taglines: "We don't diddle around talking about 'nuking LA.' We nuke LA, and so much more."
"24: Nuking LA repeatedly before most Americans have had their first cup of coffee."
--I went into a "bar" recently for the first time in quite a while. What struck me most, apart from the fact that bar talk has still not evolved to the Firing Line level, is the amazing proliferation of Absolut Vodka flavors. I tried "Absolut Jerky" - the martini is called the "Rawhide - and it was pretty zesty.
--Driving home from PA this afternoon I took a calculated gamble to take the "western" route rather than go back down I-95. Boy, was that a smart move. Apart from the fact the PA Turnpike to Route 15 is a pretty beautiful drive in parts, there was very little traffic. It's probably further as the crow flies, but the crow does not drive, now does he. The key trade off is, you might drive a little further, but at 4:00 pm on a weekday would you rather be just south of Frederick, MD going south on 15, or just south of Beltsville about to go west on 495. Heh. No contest. I highly recommend the western route.
--The hotel was nice but with no restaurant, so they give you chits to redeem at the Starbucks next door. I went over this morning and ordered a "large coffee" (I refuse to use their ridiculous terminology) and a tuna sandwich. As I'm paying I hand him the chit and the guy tells me, "Oh, this is for a "grande" coffee and a bagel or muffin" and sort of looks at me expectently to see if I would change my order to get the free items. "Ah, so it does not apply to these at all?" I asked ... and put it back in my pocket. I had a reason to order THOSE things. But maybe there are people who, faced with the prospect of losing out on the free lunch, would say "Yes, in that case I'll have the Orange Crush and Necco Wafers or whatever it is I get for free."
--Because this next trip is only three days and I only have to dress like a business person for two of the days, I am determined to go carry-on only. I roll up the shirts and ties and one pair of pants, wear the blazer and other pair of pants, and throw in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and wear the shoes - and it all easily fits in a duffle bag. I should be able to cover for any accidents even if it involves spilling red wine over much of my torso and thighs (happened once). BUT: I'm bringing shaving cream, after shave gel, travel sized Head and Shoulders, and mousse. Will I get through security or end up in Guantanamo Bay? I honestly don't know, as I haven't tried this since the summer. If this blog goes dead for several days, it's safe to assume I will be expecting care packages, preferably containing nicotine gum and porn, and candlelight vigils whenever practicable.
--Reading for the trip is Steyn's America Alone (yes I'm very late to the game). I read Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept last year on like the day after it came out and a friend said this new book gives the big picture of the same reality. I'm looking at about 12 hours in airports and planes so I should get through it unless I get sidetracked, as sometimes happens. I think I need a vacation.
--Sometimes I get no leisure time on these trips, but if I can the next venue might lend itself to some saucy, spirited photos, the kind that make you say "Yarrgh!"
This post and conversation were greatly in danger of being buried by my rantings about the finest television program the world will ever know, so I think it worthwhile to bring it back to the front page.
Here is my response:
You realize, of course, the Chinese were WAY ahead of us on the wall business ... I'm guessing if they had millions of people crossing over each year they'd simply mine the border (if they haven't done so already).
From my admittedly limited perspective I think the article is dead on.
Obviously, gauging the "mood" of a country or continent is a somewhat subjective undertaking: There is the risk of over generalizing. Having only really spent much time in, er, one of the areas discussed, it would be hugely presumptuous of me to contradict Moisi's observations about Europe, China or India.
But there are a couple observations we can make from our armchair of distant, exalted omniscience:
Today is my birthday (technically, yesterday, the 24th) and per the annual family custom my wife bought me a big pile of crack, so I'm a wee bit discombobulated right now.
It was fun while it lasted.
You remember when you stopped picking up hitchhikers? It was likely in the 80s, right? For me, as late as 1985, I was still feeling that tinge of guilt driving past one (making the "turn" sign with my finger to signal I was, er, turning shortly, anyway).
Hell, I went through some periodic stretches between 1974-1980 when hitching was my chief means for getting around. But by 1992 or so, only a complete freaking idiot would hitchhike or stop for a hitchhiker. A bunch of "bad news" happened - hitchhikers hurting drivers and vice versa - and that was the end of that. Nobody of sound mind hitchhikes anymore - it's just the way it is.
Nowadays, seeing a hitchhiker along the road is more exotic than seeing a family of deer or a caravan of gypsies.
My salad days also began in the carefree 70s: after I'd outgrown my puerile dislike of vegetables enough to appreciate the newfangled "salad bar," which coincided with my early teen years and subsequent appreciation of cheap food. The first one I recall was the Village Inn, a pizza place in Alexandria. For a ridiculously low price you could load up a plate with vegetables, dressing, and bacon bits, and sometimes even pizza slices. Many a day's festivities, or late night sessions, ended up at the salad bar, chowing down.
Needless to say, fast-forwarding 30 years, a lot of lettuce has gone under the bridge. I not only learned to appreciate my veggies, but to treat the salad as de rigeur. Whether in dive diners or places where a meal costs as much as three college credits, my typical agenda has been a caesar salad and steak, medium rare. On the home front, the bag o' salad phenomenon which made life so immeasurably more convenient the past five years, has been the centerpiece of the family's vegetable intake.
We were at Glory Days in Sterling tonight. The waiter brought our drinks and asked "Are you ready to order?" The wife ordered chili, I ordered quesadillas, and she said, "Do you want to split a salad?" I said, "I don't think we should EVER have salad again." She said, "Oh. Yeah."
And that was that. This is how cultures change.
Following a plethora of bad prepared-fresh-food news over the past year, and then bad stories about hundreds of people getting sick from eating at Olive Garden, Taco Bell, and "Taco John's" the past two weeks, I'm fairly certain my fresh-veggie-trusting days are over. There are obviously structural problems with the mass-production model for fresh produce.
In the aforementioned cases e-coli has been named as a suspected cause of the problems.
"E-coli" means someone, somewhere along the line, is violating the wall of separation that should exist between excrement and human rations. Obviously, that breach is now happening on a large scale. Once that divide has been bridged, there is really no going back in the trust department. Is it the workers? Is it the equipment? We don't care. We're going to drive right on past without a hint of apology for not stopping. Goodbye.
I don't want commercially produced fresh vegetables served raw. I want vegetables cooked, or brined and salted, or otherwise heavily infused with chemicals - or I want them home-grown. Rather than buy a Big Mac or Burrito Whatever on a road trip, I will grab eight or ten Slim Jims from the gas station. When the waiter asks which dressing I prefer with my salad, I will say, "None please, but I do want that caesar salad boiled."
Closer to home, we are going to have a garden next year, but in the meantime we have also decided to get much more focused on having steamed green vegetables with our meals in place of salads. Steamed cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. provide all you need healthwise. Anything we eat "fresh" will be vetted - and that means goodbye to the bagged lettuce.
Hey, it seemed too good to be true, did it not? Well, it was.
If you don't have a trusted local source for fresh vegetables, here's how you use commercially produced vegetables: Get yourself a simple steamer set up, which is a metal or bamboo grate that you put vegetables in, and then put in a large sauce pan. Put an inch of water in the pan and boil the whole deal, covered, for 8 minutes. That's your vegetables.
When you go out to eat, forego the salad, and order a nice, cooked appetizer, and have steamed vegetables with your meal. "Salads" should be viewed as skeptically as you would view sushi. It's just the way it is.
1: "That's what I'm tellin' you man, I'm a contract worker. A day laborer in construction."
1: "So that's what I'm tellin' you. All you need to tell her is what you do. You don't need to be goin' into this and that, tellin' her something that you' not."
2: "I can tell her Ima spot welder making $25 an hour, what difference is that gonna make," he turned to me and flashed a smile of gold teeth. Looking at me, "She gonna see her money, I could be a spot welder makin' $25 an hour, how she gonna know?"
1: "But that's what I'm sayin' man, don't be stupid. Why would you tell her you something that you not? That's what I'm sayin'. Listen, the woman is a creature of God, right?"
In my travails across the 'internets' I've come across some interesting links. The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan study group by Wiki standards (and actually by their own self-proclamation) did a report, of which a summary was "Posted to Web: June 30, 2000", entitled "Illegal Aliens in Federal, State, and Local Criminal Justice Systems" Quite interesting, in fact, though a little outdated. But then that makes this an interesting topic for debate:
The increase in prosecutions and convictions of illegal aliens appears to have significantly affected both the number and the estimated costs of incarcerating and supervising of defendants convicted in federal courts. Since a substantial share of the increase in illegal aliens convicted appears to be due to increased border enforcement, this increased burden on the federal criminal justice system can be seen as a secondary cost of such border enforcement. If border interdiction efforts successfully reduce attempted illegal entry, this negative impact on the federal criminal justice system may be short-term.
More below. . .
85% of the 400+ people that bothered to watch Fox45, and bothered to sit down and send in a reply, responded "Yes" to this question. I guess it was a "hot button issue".
Blogging is a man's game, and all the best bloggers are men: On these notions there is little disagreement. What interests me is, why is this so?
After all the contentiousness we've had at this site, I believe it is high time to seek some common ground, which I think this post will achieve in the minds of all good men. Brothers, if there be any disagreement among us, let us remember that we share a bond. Though our politics may differ at times, we will always share the noble vision of a male-dominated blogosphere.
We who have an eye for quality know that some jobs can only be filled by the right man. Women are great, but they can only take you so far.
In the midst of this fine new world, however, I think we are all committed to the principle of respect for our sisters in blogging.
Some of the latter, such as Melanie Phillips, American Daughter, and A Moderate Voice, admittedly might challenge us and rise above us at times. These are conundrums. But we must always remember that three pears accidentally dropped in the apple-barrel do not transform it into a barrel of pears.
Others, such as Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, might on the face of it present a similar conundrum, but in reality they are to NOVA TownHall as Venus is to Plymouth Rock: in another dimension on which we are not qualified to comment. So our worship can continue unabated, with no objections of conscience.
But these are clearly the exceptions.
The best thing about men, which I think we've demonstrated here, is how they can take a bloody bruising, pick themselves up off the ground, throw a gratuitous roundhouse kick to the groin, and then sit down with their erstwhile opponent to share a twelve-pack or three and hash over the great questions of the day.
Women bloggers more often seem to hold a grudge. To their shame, I might add.
Finally, despite the hundreds of reasons I love women, I think they come up just a little bit short in the agressiveness department. While men are smacking each other in the head with two by fours, women never seem to rise above the level of catcalls. It's a death-match. ladies: Did you not get the memo?
Well, anyway, I imagine some will take issue with this post. More so, I expect the men among us will need to decide with whom we each stand. That's all fine.
But make no mistake: Complacency is death, especially for a blog. We need to build alliances, and we need to energize the masses. If we can't do those things, we might as well be just sitting at home typing the occasionally snarky comment.
I, for one, want to bring all men of good bearing into our fold. If that means alienating half the population, then I will sleep soundly knowing that THIS half is on the right track.
I look forward to opinions from both sides and I think this post pretty much innoculates me against ever holding public office. Which is nice.
And I know what you're thinking: "Hey, I've got to try that." Yes, you do have to try that.
For all the fiery exchanges that go on here I think I can probably still accurately say that many individuals likely are giving of their time and hearts to help those in need. And while giving to Project Angeltree or tossing some coins in the Salvation Army tin are both grand ideas, few experiences work on creating a change in you so much as actually meeting the people you are hoping to help, talking with them about what is important to them, and understanding their needs enough to meet them adequately. It's one thing to dump an extra 10% into the offering plate and never have to leave your comfort zone. It's another thing to sign up to work, regularly throughout the year, alongside of the people you hope to serve. Get enlisted. Ability to speak Spanish is a plus!
To all those who believe that homosexuality is not a choice, but is genetic, please explain why there are so many homosexuals in prison. And why there are not more homosexual Greeks?
Is bestiality also genetic?
Compare and contrast.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in
one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Our esteemed yet oftimes perplexing commenter Zimzo has snagged me again, pointing out the harm my puritanical instincts might have wrought on one of the brightest lights in modern literature. But is he overreaching?
Does Jim Webb's Lost Soldiers merit the same obeisance we give Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita?
There are a couple tests we can apply.
One, would you mind if your 8-year old heard it read over the radio?
Lolita: No, because the writing is exquisite and the risque bits would go right over their heads.
Lost Soldiers: Well, NOT THAT ONE PASSAGE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY!
Two, would a literate reader admire the wordsmithing to the point of repeating passages over and over in the mind?
Lost Soldiers: Hard to say, but certainly NOT THAT ONE PASSAGE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY!
I know, I know: One is literature and the other is cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology excuses a LOT. If Jim Webb had been more artful in conveying that scene ("....turned him upside down, and said 'hello, Sonny' in the only way he knew how...") the narrative might have lost some of its impact and strayed too far from the hard-as-nails tone of the rest of the book. But Webb could have given it a try.
I bet any 15 of today's AP English students could take a good stab at rewriting that passage in a more allusionary manner - if not for the fact we could be thrown in jail for showing it to them in most U.S. jurisdictions.
I mean, I imagine you can find illustrated books on how to roast a cat in various foreign countries, but if you tried to sell such books here you'd find the process a little prickly. Same principle.
But, hey, that's culture. Jim Webb's seen things none of us want to see and HE probably didn't want to see, and he's come back to tell us what it's like.
The question for Virginians is: Since he ain't Nabokov, should he at least have been more sensitive to the good-taste-o-meter?
End of short vacation. Here's about the coolest thing I saw (mildly cooler things to follow):
Sign in The Range Cafe:
With a few days to kill before returning to the ol' Beltway mosh pit, we decided to drive around New Mexico. Missing out on the mother of all abortion discussions is a burden I must bear, but nature made up for it by allowing us to experience the wettest this state has been in a generation or two. Prior to our arrival there was a month of massive precipitation, and the past few days have seen over three inches.
Looking out the window during the flight in I thought Alburquerque looked depressingly brown, but a resident I mentioned this to (a transplant from Shenandoah, VA) said this is as verdant as she'd ever seen it.
That's probably the most incisive, factual observation you're going to get in this travelogue, being as how I've been working the whole week and am not very observant anyways. But I promise some cool pictures. If you've never been to northern New Mexico, you should find it mildly interesting.
(Note: The Balloon Festival has been grounded since Saturday - tough luck for those who came in specifically for that - but today they appear to be all systems go. The morning news just showed the Intel balloon is up and away.)
To the uninformed eye (i.e., me), the biggest natural difference between New Mexico and Arizona is the grass. Where Arizona, like Las Vegas and Palm Springs, has zero outside of the landscaping, New Mexico's undeveloped areas are pretty thick with it, reminiscent more of the Midwest than the desert Southwest.
Our excursion was up to Santa Fe: one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and, like so much of this part of America, a place imbued with Indian culture.
(Click below for the rest and give the page a second to load as it has a few photos, eh?)
[Editor's note: I am un-posting this for Kevin. He should have the opportunity to fine-tune his posts. Kevin, repost and kill this editorial if you wish.]
I think part of the reason I am so open-minded is because of where I was raised. A few blocks over from our neighborhood in New Jersey, literally on the "other side of the tracks," there was a community of lefties that I had to walk past every day going to and from St. Agnes Catholic School.
"Who are all the people who live in those funny houses?" I remember once asking my mom - I was probably in first grade at the time - "with the front doors right NEXT TO the car ports and the downspouts all feeding off to the left?"
"Those are the left-handed peoples' houses, honey," she said to me, "They build them that way because it's easier for them to get around in."
Then my dad called in from the other room "Don't you go talkin' to any of them 'Lurches' on your way home, you just walk straight home from school, y'heah?"
My mom scolded him as she often would and said to me, "Don't ever use that word. Just because people favor their left hand doesn't mean they're any different than you or me. They can go on to lead remarkably productive lives. President Coolidge was left-handed: Don't ever forget that."
Now, so many years later, I still live by those words.
Just a few years ago I even hired a lefty. I walked into the conference room where he was completing the aptitude test and quickly averted my eyes (like I always do).
The rest of the interview was barely strained at all, save for me consciously trying to avoid using the words "right" or "left" and ultimately I hired the fellow. After we bought the appropriate furniture for his office he worked out just fine.
I have found that giving directions is my biggest challenge when interacting with lefties. I just hate to use the words, I don't know why. So I tend to say things like "when you get to Blossom Boulevard turn towards the big water tower on the far side of town" or "go to the first traffic light and take a turn in the direction of your gas pedal." It works out pretty good, I must say. But sometimes I just have to break down and give the directions in Spanish.
If anyone has any edifying or heart-warming stories about your personal interactions with the "differently-handed" folks, please pass them along. I think there are some lefties in the world feeling a little bit left out and who could use a little love right about now.
Ah, I've been too busy to really blog, as most of you know, and the result has been a bunch of slap-dash posts with a serious mini-essay or two inserted on the very rare occasion. I try to give my best when I can and, when not, to at least give some food for thought which may be from another person's picnic basket.
The day job's a killer, but it's all that's keeping me from the hoosegow.
Tonight, I'm working on a bigger project which with the clock already reading "hour of the wolf" probably won't be completed before my face crashes, as usual, into the keyboard until daybreak.
But I feel the NOVA TownHall Blog is about one post short of its weekly quota, and I have therefore summoned all my strength and will to deliver the final capper to the week. After scouring the Internet far and wide - scaling the heights, plumbing the depths, dropping into the bottle clubs and circumambulating the journeymen philosophers - I finally got something.
In deference to my good buddy Zimzo, I will once again grab the reliably trenchant top story from the number one news service on the Web.
Via Life News:
A Florida abortion business in a Miami suburb has closed after it appears a baby was born alive following a botched abortion. Police in Hialeah are investigating the abortion facility after reports surfaced that a dead baby's body was located there.
According to witnesses, an unnamed young woman who was 23 weeks into her pregnancy went to the A Gynecologists Diagnostic Center abortion facility for an abortion.
Police say the 18 year-old woman went for the abortion on Thursday and came back the next day complaining of severe stomach pains. Abortion facility staff told her the abortion practitioner was not available and that she would have to wait.
After being taken to a waiting area, the woman allegedly gave birth to the baby that she thought had been aborted the day before. The teenager was sent home after a brief examination.
''Employees cut the umbilical cord, put the baby in a bag and walked away with it," Hialeah Lt. Ralph Gracia told a local CBS television station.
Officials say an anonymous caller, who they believe is an employee at the abortion business, alerted them to the birth and the infanticide of the child afterwards. However, when police arrived at the abortion facility, the baby's body was missing.
Absolutely sickeningâ€¦ but not altogether shocking given the industry. I imagine it is necessary to become desensitized to innocent human life in order to abort unborn children day in and day out.
UPDATED: Some in the comments section below seem to discredit the source (Life News) due to the fact that they unashamedly value human life from the moment of conception to natural death... So here is another source for the story, WSVN Channel 7 News- Miami. From this story:
Police located the woman who said she was 22 weeks pregnant when she went to the clinic for an abortion. The 18-year-old told officials she ended up giving birth to a live baby boy instead but did not know what happened to him afterwards. [Emphasis mine]
Again, absolutely sickening (and sadly the inevitable result of the "No Fault Freedom" pro-abortion crowd's own twisted logic that devalues innocent human life).
...Sorry, that should have read:
AL GORE IN STERLING!!
I wandered down to the local Costco to wile away a few minutes in the air conditioned aisles piled three storeys high with glistening merchandise, as is my wont, and here's what greeted me.
"Al Gore book signing! Vice President Al Gore is signing books in the store right now! Get a signed copy of Al Gore's new book! Al Gore book signing! Get your peanuts and cold drinks heah!"
Ok that last phrase was made up, but that Cosco guy was yelling to drum up interest, and the former VP was there at lunchtime today, all right. The line to get An Inconvenient Truth signed by the author was a couple hundred shoppers long, but as a dutiful citizen journalist I knew what I had to do. So I got in line and spent about 15 minutes thinking of some witty repartee I might have with the Inconvenient One himself.
As it turned out, the line moved real fast, because Al's handlers permitted no first names for personalization and in fact all you got to do was say "hi" before being wisked past. I didn't rock the boat, because the only thing I could think of to say was: "If global warming is eventually proven NOT to be a crisis for the Earth, I still think all the work you're doing is great."
Such a line doesn't work at all unless it gets to set in for a moment or two.
If I got a follow-up I would also have asked: "I heard you mention purchasing verifiable reductions elsewhere to offset your travel via private jets and large vehicles. Where can I get some of those for my SUV?"
Al did a nice job interacting with the line of folks, with a bare minimum of actual interaction but pleasant enough.
Yes, I did get myself a signed copy. So I've learned that if you want to convey a looming crisis, satellite photos of hurricanes in full color make a KILLER visual. Also good are floods, fires, deforestation, hockey-stick graphs, ships grounded in the middle of the desert, atomic bomb blasts - and I think there's even a shot of a kitten stuck in a tree. Stuff o' nightmares, I tells ya.
All of that is juxtaposed with some really nice pictures of Al. And let me tell you, the message works: Given a choice between Hurricane Katrina and the former VP sitting in a field, I'm a Gore man all the way.
And I'll gladly plunk down the $12.49 Costco price to get a prop for a blog post. We should all be prepared to sacrifice a little.
My civil rights bona fides go back for years and I challenge anyone to go toe to toe with me on empathy for my fellow man. Life is tough, and the curveballs it throws some of us can be quite different from what others among us face.
I've been there for the downtrodden; I give to the poor; I've advocated for the unjustly accused; I've personally sought to liberate those under the heel of discrimination; and I've led the war on clowns.
...because the bastards just keep showing up...
The organisers of a rock festival have abandoned a circus theme for the event after complaints from people suffering from a fear of clowns.
Would-be festival-goers e-mailed to say they would not attend because they suffered from coulrophobia.
Let's be clear about one thing: We all love the circus. It's as wholesome as the day is long.
But whoever started the insidious tradition of inviting these freaky painted evil goons into a celebration of humanity and furry creatures surely intended to undermine western civilization, and I for one will not permit it. Here I draw the line. Here, I take my stand.
Some may argue for inclusion. Not I.
I say, I am a humanitarian. I don't want the people to suffer from the uncertainty and fear. I don't want the children to suffer nightmares. I die a little each day for those who must confront the evil clowns. That's how much I care.
All I want is a circus with little midget guys and trained animals and contortionists and carnies like the Founding Fathers intended - and I want the conspiracy of clowns BUSTED, people.
While Pat Robertson has made himself more and more of an embarrassment nationally, Jerry Falwell has been working hard to make himself somewhat more legitimate. The following is from one of his emails:
Throughout our nation an effort is afoot to eradicate our religious freedoms. This isnâ€™t an idle claim. To illustrate how our religious freedoms are being attacked, I want to highlight just a few of the many cases in which our religious rights are under fire.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, businessman Tim Bono was told by the Arlington (Va.) County Human Rights Commission that he must duplicate pro-homosexual videos even though doing so would counter the Christian standards he had established for his business. Thankfully, with the help of Liberty Counsel, Mr. Bono filed a complaint with the commission and the complaint filed by a lesbian activist was dismissed this week. Liberty Counsel will now proceed with the suit that challenges the commissionâ€™s authority to recognize â€œsexual orientationâ€ as a civil right.
In San Diego, a threeâ€“judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to stay a federal district judgeâ€™s order to remove the Mt. Soledad Cross, meaning the city must remove the historic cross by August 1, or face fines of $5,000 per day. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been fighting to save the cross since 2004. Richard Thompson, the Law Centerâ€™s president and chief counsel, said, â€œIt is an outrage and insult not only to Christians, but people of all faiths, that this memorial site to our veterans and fallen war heroes would be desecrated by removal of a universally recognized symbol of sacrifice just because one atheist was upset about it.â€
A federal judge in Sacramento this week dismissed atheist Michael Newdowâ€™s lawsuit against the national motto, â€œIn God We Trust.â€ In the present case, Newdow v. Congress, Newdow argued that having to use money inscribed with the national motto offends him and is unconstitutional. While this is an encouraging win, the effort to purge even innocuous references to God from the public square continues. Barry Lynn of the high-profile Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has admitted that his organization wants to eliminate phrases like â€œIn God We Trustâ€ from our currency.
In Henderson, Nevada, a high school senior had her microphone unplugged by school officials after she mentioned her Christian beliefs and quoted the Bible in her valedictory address a few days ago. The Rutherford Institute says it will file a First Amendment lawsuit against the school district for violating Brittany McCombâ€™s constitutional right to free speech and equal protection under the law. â€œThis is yet another example of a politically correct culture silencing Christians in order to not offend those of other beliefs,â€ said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. (Similar occurrences have taken place in other American high schools.)
In Atlanta, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have filed suit in defense of FAA employee Larry Dombrowski who was suspended without pay for expressing his religious beliefs and views on homosexual behavior at work. â€œReligious employees, including those of the federal government, are not second-class citizens,â€ said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. â€œNo government employer is permitted by the Constitution to silence speech in the workplace just because it expresses religious views.â€
In Whittier, Calif., elementary school officials backed down after earlier telling Christian students they could not sing a religious song in a talent show. After saying the song was â€œnot appropriate,â€ the school backed down after receiving a legal demand letter from the Pacific Justice Institute. The students represented their schoolâ€™s Good News Club, a nationwide after-school program which encourages kids in their faith. PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds, who wrote to the school on the studentsâ€™ behalf, said, â€œThe Supreme Court has said this isnâ€™t all that complicatedâ€”schools donâ€™t endorse everything they fail to censor. Student-initiated _expression, including talent shows, is clearly protected by the First Amendment and cannot be excluded just because itâ€™s religious.â€ Still, education officials across this nation continue to target Christian students who attempt to voice their beliefs at school.
I could quite literally write all day giving examples of religious persecution in our nation. Our Founding Fathers would be disgusted with this effort to exterminate religious _expression in the public square. Thank God there are courageous individuals like those listed above who are willing to fight for their rights. And thankfully the organizations listed above, and many others, are working to preserve our rights. Without them, America would be lost in a sea of abject secularism.
REMINDER: All Falwell Confidential readers are invited join us in Lynchburg, Virginia for Thomas Road Baptist Churchâ€™s Golden Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, July 2. The service will feature the Grand Opening of the new 6000-seat TRBC sanctuary and the one-million-square-foot educational, worship and recreational facility. The Grand Opening service will be held from 10:30 a.m.â€“noon, and will feature the music of Charles Billingsley, Guy Penrod (of the Gaither Vocal Band) and the seven Penrod boys. I will bring a special message. An old-fashioned Independence Day Celebration will follow, from 2 p.m.-10 p.m., on the adjacent grounds of Liberty Universityâ€™s Williams Football Stadium. There will be a host of rides and games for all ages, lots of great food and fellowship, as well as tours of the campus and the new TRBC. Then at 10:00, we will launch Central Virginiaâ€™s most magnificent fireworks display on Liberty Mountain. Join us for this special very day!
Anyone need more proof that there is religious persecution of Christians in this country?
This is interesting... I wonder if this will become commonplace in the tens of thousands of condos in Northern Virginia.
So our National Anthem has been translated and recorded in Spanish.
I'm with Bush on this one, although for different reasons. If the translation was true to the original, and the intent was to help spread American heritage and pride to those who have not yet learned English, I suppose I wouldn't have a problem. This, however, is not the case. This translation changes the meaning of the anthem and is being used for protest reasons. I can't support it.
The current issue of the Weekly Standard has a phenomenal article by Allan Carlson titled Indentured Families: Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved. It provides a comprehensive overview of the "pro-family" cause from its temporary political home in the GOP under Teddy Roosevelt and then with the Democrats from 1912-1964. Carlson describes the most recent realignment when the family voters shifted back to the Republican Party:
The broad transformation continued with the rise of the "pro-family movement" during the 1970s, behind early leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly and Paul Weyrich. It ended in 1980 with the solid movement of northern Catholics and southern evangelicals into the Republican party, and the counter-movement of feminists and the new sexual revolutionaries into the Democratic fold. Ronald Reagan, a proud four-time voter for Franklin D. Roosevelt and a lifelong admirer of the New Deal, explained his 1980 victory to a group of Catholic voters this way:
"The secret is that when the left took over the Democratic party we [former Democrats] took over the Republican party. We made the Republican party into the party of the working people, the family, the neighborhood, the defense of freedom. And yes, the American Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to One Nation Under God. So, you see, the party that so many of us grew up with still exists except that today it's called the Republican party."
Carlson believes that this marriage of pro-family forces and the pro-business GOP, consummated under Reagan's watch, is in serious trouble. Social Conservatives were the key to the GOP's success in the last 25 years but the relationship seems to be moving closer and closer to the point of declaring irreconcilable differences.
Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention, they were virtually confined to the party's attic, kept off the main stage, treated like slightly lunatic children. Republican lobbyist Michael Scanlon's infamous candid comment--"The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right [and] Christian radio"--suggests a common opinion among the dominant "K Street" Republicans toward their coalition allies.
In Virginia members of the pro-family GOP are increasingly subject to ridicule and attack from moderates/liberals who have little interest in advancing the cause of the family. The 2005 election results may have been a warning sign that social conservatives aren't going to tolerate being ignored or insulted any longer. A winning strategy is the commonsense pro-family strategy of hope and values pioneered by Reagan, and the GOP would be ill advised to discard it from the meaningless mush often presented as an alternative. As Carlson points out:
Contemporary Republican leaders need to do better--much better--toward social conservatives. They must creatively address pressing new family issues centered on debt burden. And they must learn to say "no" sometimes to Wall Street, lest they squander the revolutionary political legacy of Ronald Reagan.
Caution: This story is somewhat graphic and very disturbing. Hat Tip to Dawn Eden.
I wonâ€™t provide details here, but the Real Choice blog has an absolutely tragic story of a young mother who had a chemical abortion. She later discussed it on her Live Journal blog (now inaccessible) and posted pictures of her aborted child saying she was giddy and â€œholy crap this thing is freaking awesomeâ€ before she flushed her child down the toilet.
A Catholic friend of mine recently forwarded me this fantastic National Review Online article by Fr. Thomas Williams (Dean of Theology at Romeâ€™s Regina Apostolorum). In the article Fr. Williams absolutely pummels the absurd â€œCatholic Statement of Principlesâ€ released a few weeks ago by pro-abortion Congressional Democrats. Everyone should definitely read it, here is my favorite section:
More â€œprogressiveâ€ Catholics have often had recourse to the image of â€œbig tentâ€ Catholicism, appealing for a broader acceptance of heterodox opinions within the Church. The image is apt, in that Catholicism does embrace a rich and varied array of opinions, emphases, schools of thought, theologies, spiritualities, and apostolates. At the same time, even the most enormous of tents has its boundaries, beyond which it is possible to stray. The statement makes a feeble attempt at defending the claim that the â€œbig tentâ€ of Catholicism can cover abortion.
That is a tough case to make. Just as you donâ€™t have the polytheistic wing of Islam or the seal-clubbing wing of Greenpeace, you donâ€™t have the pro-abortion wing of the Catholic Church. Certain non-negotiable moral standards define Catholicism just as surely as doctrinal beliefs do. We all advocate a big tent, but it can stretch only so far until it rips asunder.
One canâ€™t help but think of Tim Kaineâ€™s opportunistic use of his Catholicism as a shield for his years of secular anti-death penalty work while simultaneously refusing to stand up and protect the unborn as the Catholic Church demands. Itâ€™s good to see folks hold these folks accountable for their selective application of Catholic faith.
Is anyone else becoming a fan of the new NBC game show Deal or No Deal ? I am not one who usually watches game shows but this unique yet simple show based on managing risk is extremely addictive. A recent USA Today article succinctly describes the game's premise:
The way it works is simple: A contestant chooses a briefcase from the models posed on stage. But the inside cash amount is not revealed. As each round progresses, host Howie Mandel (who has a shaved head) offers the contestant a choice of staying with the original briefcase or making a "deal" with the bank for cash in exchange for whatever amount is in the chosen case, as other briefcases are opened, their values revealed.
I know where I'll be at 8 p.m. each Monday.
I'll let this article speak for itself. This sort of thinking seems to be becoming more typical in our neighbor to the north. (found via www.drudgereport.com)
I became sick to my stomach when I read this story in today's RTD.:
A Suffolk woman who lost her unborn baby after suffering a bullet wound to the abdomen was arrested yesterday and charged with shooting herself to "illegally induce an abortion."
If deliberately shooting an innocent 7-9 month old unborn baby that is fully able to survive outside of his or her mother isn't murder, I don't know what is. Absolutely tragic that a mother would do this to her own child... although it is no different than paying some doctor to partially deliver the live baby before sticking scissors in his or her head and suctioning the brains out to collapse the skull.
Authorities studied several possible charges against Skinner but decided not to charge her with murder because the fetus had not been born...
South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds is showing some real courage in standing up and fighting the holocaust of abortion. Many moderates have been pressuring him to avoid signing (or to outright veto) the recently passed abortion ban (which is obviously designed to bring the full issue of Roe before SCOTUS) because they fear political fallout among suburban women. However it appears Governor Rounds refuses to cast aside this effort to protect innocent pre-born children for partisan political reasons or to advance his own career. CQ Politics has this great quote that sums up the Governor's perspective:
â€œBut, any movement which we can make [toward] that ultimate goal would save lives,â€ he said. â€œAnd thatâ€™s what I use as my ultimate determining factor as to whether or not we are making progress is: Are we saving lives?â€
In Virginia weâ€™re lucky to have folks like McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli who arenâ€™t ashamed or afraid to vocally support the most innocent among us. But we need more folks like these who are pragmatic leaders willing to advance all the concerns of their constituents while remaining true to their fiscal conservative principles and remaining willing to support the matters of life and family which affect us all. It will be a great day when the humanity of the child in-utero is no longer denied but to get there we need more men and women of courage and conviction in public office.
UPDATED: I just saw this great article on the South Dakota situation at Life News. I didn't realize Governor Rounds had vetoed a previous ban to protect other pro-life legislation. He's dedicated and clearly this isn't just some political move, rather it is a serious effort to save lives.
When the state legislature previously sent him the abortion ban, Rounds issued a veto because the measure would have wiped all of South Dakota's pro-life laws off the books while the legislation was tied up in court. Rounds has indicated that staff attorneys are checking to make sure that isn't the case this time and that there aren't any other unintended problems that could occur. Both sides expect Rounds to sign the bill and lawmakers say the problems he cited last time have been corrected.
This just in via the Family Foundation, Attorney General Bob McDonnell has overuled the Warner-Kaine Exexutive Order giving sexual orientation a special protected status. Below is the Family Foundation press release.
UPDATED: There is also an AP story on McDonnell's action, to see it click here.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell today issued a legal opinion stating that Executive Order No. 1, which included sexual orientation as a protected class in the Commonwealth's nondiscrimination policy, is unconstitutional. The executive order was one of Governor Warner's parting actions and Governor Kaine's first act as governor, signed immediately after taking the oath of office on January 14.
General McDonnell issued the opinion in response to a query by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) on the constitutionality of the executive order. The opinion states that the executive order aims to change public policy, which constitutionally, can only be changed through the legislative process.
McDonnell wrote in his opinion that the executive order was "permissible to the extent the Governor is ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed," but that the addition of protected class status to a particular group "was intended to, and in fact did, alter the public policy of the Commonwealth. It is further my opinion that changing the public policy of the Commonwealth is within the purview of the General Assembly; therefore, that portion of Executive Order No. 1 is beyond the scope of executive authority and, therefore, unconstitutional."
It was the third stinging rebuke to the homosexual lobby and their allies in state government in less than a month. Previously, the General Assembly defeated a bill to add sexual orientation and expression to the protected class in nondiscrimination policy not only for the state, but for local governments as well. The General Assembly also stripped similar sexual nondiscrimination language out of the state budget submitted in January by former Governor Mark Warner before his term expired. The insertion of such language into the budget by Warner was unprecedented, as he tried to get policy passed into law through the budgetary process where he could not through normal legislative means.
Reversing the Governor's actions and working to prevent similar legislastion has been a high priority for The Family Foundation this session.
While anticipating such an issue was impossible during his campaign, McDonnell's action today was consistent with his campaign platform of strictly interpreting the Constitution and of limited government. McDonnell's office also played a role in the recent debate on the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage by defending the amendment's language amid attempts to water down its meaning and to delay the process of getting the amendment on the ballot.
Absolutely fantastic news and further proof that elections do matter. Imagine if radical pro-abort Kerry was president and he had just placed two pro-abort ideologue activist-judges on the Supreme Court... Let's all hope and pray the new court restores Constitutional order and ends the barbaric practice of Partial Birth Abortion in the United States once and for all.
Equally exciting is the fact that Attorney General McDonnel has apparently filed a request on behalf of Virginia asking the Supreme Court to review the Appeals Court ruling that placed an injunction on Virginia's Partial Birth Infanticide ban. We can be sure Deeds certainly would have failed to step up to protect Virginia's nearly-born children. Again, elections matter and this is why we need true conservatives in office.
More below the fold...
Now I am sure British historian David Irving is an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi lunatic and the twisted view of history he supports in his literature is downright disgusting and painful to the millions of victims of the evil of National Socialism during WWII. By all accounts Irving is a scum-of-the-earth slime-ball.
Even with that said this seems pretty absurd, especially given the debate over freedom of expression that is raging across Western Europe after the printing of the Muhammad cartoons:
VIENNA, Austria â€” Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty Monday to denying the Holocaust and was sentenced to three years in prison, even after conceding he wrongly said there were no Nazi gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
It really seems that Western Europe, the mother of the Enlightenment and the concept of individual liberty is imploding on itself- now egregious thoughts can earn you a prison sentence and Islamo-Facists are burning flags and instigating deadly protests across Europe because of a cartoon. Wow.
The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have announced that they have stripped the sexual orientation language outgoing Governor Mark Warner cowardly inserted into the 2006-2008 budget language just hours before leaving office as a shameful political play to boost his presidential hopes among the hard-left constituencies in the Sociocratic party.
Warner also put the language immediately into effect for state agencies via Executive Order, something Governor Kaine has signed onto as well- but this is only a temporary situation that is far easier to reverse than codified budget language passed by the GA. Hearty thanks to the House and Senate committees for standing up and opposing this unnecessary language ultimately designed to silence those who hold any opposition (religious and/or secular) to the radical normalization of the homosexual lifestyle in American society.
I'd be remiss if I failed to point out that those homosexual activists arguing in favor of this now failed push to add the sexual orientation language can provide no examples of when the state has discriminated against homosexuals or the tangible existence of any real problem... rather they argue it is a preventative measure and employ the same logic that they then in turn deny when it is used to support the VA Marriage Amendment (designed to prevent utter redefinition of marriage by judicial fiat).
This sexual orientation language was not only unneeded but dangerous- as we can see in Maryland where similar laws are now being used to attack those who advocate for a healthy procreative heterosexual lifestyle and oppose the homosexual activist agenda. Good to see some common sense action from the House and Senate.
Lindsey Jacobellis has gotten nailed (repeatedly) for messing up what would have been a gold medal run.
But she does have character: Soon after the fall, she went on TV with Bob Costas:
Your body's just tired and your mind's somewhere else...
The Olympics is a pretty unforgiving, one-and-done, venue. When a mental mistake takes you down, you find yourself in the great wheel of life.
Keep trying, kid. Life has a way of turning things around.
Pat Robertson says Sharon's stroke is God's punishment for giving up Israeli territory.
I wonder if Pat Robertson might actually be God's punishment on America for making CSI the top-rated television show.
May I remind you separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. This is a construct of the â€œChurch of Progressive Secularismâ€. By the way Atheism is a religion, Agnosticism is a religion, Environmentalism is a religion and diversity is a religion, as are Islamism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc, etc.
Citizens of this country have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This country was founded on Christian principles and values. These are not only still valid today, they are needed more than ever.
I heard a quote the other day that rings true to me. â€œLaws do not make Good people. Laws only control Bad people. The Gospel can make Bad people Good!â€
Back to the fictitious separation of church and state. It was only mentioned in a letter from Thomas Jefferson years after our Constitution was ratified.
Our government was designed to be run by â€œGodlyâ€ people. Remove God from the government and the public square and we will then get the arbitrary bureaucratic anarchy we then deserve.
Why this sudden fear of religion? All the religions I mentioned above thrived without government imposed rules for religion. Now the enemy is within and cheered on (and probably supported) by the enemies beyond our borders.
Why are we allowing this to happen? Under the guise of diversity, we are constricting religion so we do not offend anyone!! There is no right in this country to not being offended!!
Pay attention to who is tearing down our countryâ€™s culture. What is their background? What is their heritage? Who is supporting them and why? Tearing down our culture is not the way to improve it.
God Bless America, please.