Friday, January 31, 2014

"The Drive"

Don't watch this if you're from Cleveland.

This is what Coloradans hope to accomplish again Sunday

What did you get out of watching this?

Nancy's jewelry severely damages Jon's desk.

No words

Ready for the Superbowl ads?

Tim Tebow won't be quarterbacking the Broncos Sunday, but apparently he is still doing pretty well.

Benghazi warnings were clear. Hillary apologizes, but does not take responsibility.

I subscribe to Dick Morris's videos. He did one today on Hillary. He does not like that woman at all. He knows her very well, having been an adviser to Bill during the Clinton presidency. In today's video Morris explains Hillary's tactics in apologizing but not taking responsibility for the lack of security in Benghazi. Morris also explains that the warnings were clear as can be about al Qaeda's presence in Benghazi. Go here to watch the video.

Defeat them on substance

When it comes to the issue of the alleged war on women, Charles Krauthammer thinks Republicans should stop trying to be amateur psychologists, and instead, challenge Democrats on substance. For example, he recommends challenging infanticide abortions in the third- and late second-trimester, in which the infant's head is crushed by the abortionist in mid-delivery before the head leaves the birth canal.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How much history do you know?

Six trivia questions to see how much history you really know. Be honest, it’s
kinda fun and revealing. If you don’t know the answer make your best guess.
Answer all the questions (no cheating) before looking at the answers.

And no, the answers to these questions aren’t all “Barack Obama.”

Who said it?

1) “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

A. Karl Marx
B. Adolph Hitler
C. Joseph Stalin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

2) “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few…… And to replace it with shared responsibility,
for shared prosperity.”

A. Lenin
B. Mussolini
C. Idi Amin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

3) “(We)…..can’t just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people.”

A. Nikita Khrushev
B. Josef Goebbels
C. Boris Yeltsin
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

4) “We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own … in order to create this common ground.”

A. Mao Tse Dung
B. Hugo Chavez
C. Kim Jong Il
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

5) “I certainly think the free-market has failed.”

A. Karl Marx
B. Lenin
C. Molotov
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

6) “I think it’s time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched.”

A. Pinochet
B. Milosevic
C. Saddam Hussein
D. Barack Obama
E. None of the above

Scroll down for answers

(1) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
(2) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
(3) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
(4) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
(5) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton
(6) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton

found here.

Are you a Republican, or a Democrat?

This is straight forward country thinking.. by Jeff Foxworthy

*Which side of the fence?*

If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great

If a Republican doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.

If a Democrat doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.

If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for

If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.

If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his

If a Democrat is down-and-out he wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Republican doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.

A Democrat demands that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a Republican is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.

A Democrat non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for
it, or may choose a job that provide it.

If a Democrat wants health care, he demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a Republican reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good

A Democrat will delete it because he’s “offended.”

Thanks to My Underwood Typewriter for posting this.

Looking back in history

Found here.

Crossing the line

Rear Admiral Lee speaks out against those in the government who would require him to hide his light under a basket. He is "not going to run from my religious freedoms," from his right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is Hope. "The best book of leadership is the Holy Bible, which teaches you first and foremost how to be a follower." He does not want to have to put aside his Constitutional rights. He wants to take a stand, and not run.

thanks to My Underwood Typewriter for posting this video.

1.2 billion rounds of ammo only for police and military

The Mr. Conservative website writes that
There is a new round going around called the G2 R.I.P (Radically Invasive Projectile). The round is an extremely devastating projectile that separates at the tip upon hitting its mark. As the, now spider-like, round now decelerates, the separated “legs” then fragment sending projectiles throughout the body of the intended target.

Of course being the decimating round that it is, Obama has signed an executive order allowing for the ammo to only be purchased and used by police and military personnel. Since that time, the DHS has ordered the 1.2 billion rounds of the ammunition through the Chinese company, NORINCO.

Forged documents

Have you been following the work of attorney Orly Taitz? She has alleged that Obama is using a Connecticut man's Social Security number. Of course, Obama has never lived in Connecticut. A judge has given Taitz 21 days to file a brief alleging that the Social Security Administration improperly hid records Taitz was trying to get through the freedom of Information Act. Read more here.

Parents need to know, then speak out!

Some bloggers are writing here and here about a book that has been approved nationally for Common Core. It is Toni Morrison's book entitled "The Bluest Eye." It is about a pedophile raping a young black girl, and it is told with sympathy for the pedophile!

Patriarchy invades the Vatican

Did you hear about the crisis in the Vatican? The Pope has stated that Jesus is the Son of God. Such a lapse into patriarchy must mean the Pope is in danger, perhaps held captive. I turned to Manhattan Infidel to find out what is really happening. Don't worry, M.I. reports that
In Washington it is rumored that President Obama is considering air strikes on the Vatican to free Pope Francis from the grips of conservative patriarchy.

White House press secretary Jay Carney had this to say about the crisis:

The President is monitoring the situation very carefully from the golf course. He is concerned that the Vatican may clamp down on religious freedom. If a surgical strike becomes necessary we will first align ourselves with Muslim rebels in the Vatican. But we will not be putting boots on the ground. Except for the Muslim rebels of course.

Republican minority leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell said:

If the Democrats want to bomb the Vatican that’s okay with me. I always do what’s best for the Democratic party.

President Obama is expected to call an emergency cabinet session to address the crisis after he finishes his 18 holes.

Go to the llnk above to read the whole scary business.

Analysis of our income inequality crisis

Have you heard? We have an income inequality crisis in America. What should we do about it? Manhattan Infidel, as always, has the answer. First, he gives some historical background:
During our Civil War it was the South, not the North that had moral superiority on their side. After all, slavery is a perfect socialist system. The plantation owners used their excess income to provide food and shelter for their beloved and well-treated slaves. It was the capitalistic north, led by the money-grubbing pig Abraham Lincoln that invaded the sacred soil of the South and destroyed their perfect economic system.

Next, he addresses the present crisis:
Never in the history of America has there been a wider gap between the haves and the have nots. *****

The rich are getting richer. And unless it’s Steve Jobs (who was cool) or our favorite athletes or rap stars the pursuit of riches is evil.

And so with morality and social justice on my side I now present my ideas on how to solve the Income Inequality Crisis™ Which is Threatening to Tear America Apart.

Finally, he gives us the solution:
As I see it the way to solve income inequality it to punish individual initiative (which we all know is racist.)

Read much more at the above link.

Tips for surviving the post-Apocalptic world we now live in

Did you know that we are already in the post-Apocalypse age? As usual, Manhattan Infidel is the first to report the story, and to give us some survival tips:
Toni Tennille, one half of the singing duo of The Captain and Tennille, best known for their hit single, “Love Will Keep Us Together” has announced that she is seeking a divorce from the Captain, her husband of 39 years.

The Worldwide Headquarters of Manhattan Infidel has been expecting this news for some time now. As the social fabric of this once great nation continues to unravel the divorce of the Captain and Tennille can only mean that the last strands of civilization left are gone.

Loyalty. Tradition. Custom. Morality. These are words from a bygone age. And now that we have officially entered the post-apocalyptic world I will give my readers a few tips on how to survive.

Trust no one.

But Manhattan Infidel, you say, I have friends. I have family. I have a spouse. Surely I can rely on them?

Civilization has broken down and you still cling to this? The only way to survive the post-Captain and Tennille divorce apocalypse is to kill or be killed. Find a weapon. A knife. A shovel. A gun if you can find one (which might be hard with all the gun control laws). A cat. A blowtorch. Cherish your new-found weapon. Keep it close to you. And when the post-apocalyptic hordes come for your stuff, deal a quick, brutal, lethal blow. Then eat their brains.

His other tips for survival involved using the internet sparingly, mud, and rudimentary lathes. He also has some tips for what to do if you see Toni Tennille.

Before you diagnose yourself...

I had never gone to Pinterest before today. I was trying to find an image Ann Voskamp linked to this morning. I finally found it, and I also found two or three others that I really liked.

This one makes me think of someone I know at work. She is a very nice young woman, but she has very little confidence in herself. One day she told me that as a young girl she had been sexually abused by an uncle. She has had much therapy, and sees herself as depressed, bi-polar, you name it, and is taking lots of medications.

The other day we had a cashiers meeting, something we have not had in years. Right away she got paranoid, thinking she was going to get fired because she had called in sick a few times. She was a nervous wreck as the meeting started. Soon, though, it became apparent that the person conducting the meeting was only there in a supportive role, available to answer questions and give tips about how we can improve our work performance.

She visibly relaxed and asked many good questions designed to learn more about how to do her job well. Methinks her main mental health problem was being raised around assholes who saw her as someone to exploit, rather than to love and cherish.

Focus on God's love, not your neighbor's imperfections

In my last post I quoted from Ann Voskamp who writes that God's
arm will go anywhere, to redeem anyone, from anything.

That changes any temptation to judge or reject.

A man came in the store the other day, and as I was putting his groceries in the bag I found myself getting bad vibes from him. He seemed right full of himself. Then he pointed to a colleague of mine. "See that woman over there on register three? She gives me a tongue-lashing every time I go to her register! I don't think she likes men!"

I replied, "Mary? Oh, Mary likes men. She is very nice to me always." I know Mary to be as conscientious and kind as they come. This customer then starts spouting Bible verses at me and asks me if I know Christ personally. I thought to myself, yes, mister, that is why I just came to Mary's defense and avoided judging her as you just did so piously.

Do you have a temptation to judge or reject some other people? Can we learn how to avoid doing that? Ann believes that the answer is in beholding His Glory:
Behold His glory — and your raging heart will be held.

In other words, when we are tempted to judge another person, maybe we should instead focus on our Redeemer. If that man was truly in fellowship with Christ, would he have been obsessed with judging and criticizing someone on the other side of the store? I think not. We surely do fool ourselves, don't we?

Ann writes,
I once saw a picture of a girl.

She’d taken chalk and drawn a picture on the concrete of her mother, so she could see her mother right there.

And then she’d taken off her shoes, like she knew it’s all holy ground, and she’d crawled up to where the heart would beat — and she’d fallen asleep next to a love like that.

Her mother drawn all around her.

Is there a way to live so that a person can see how Christ is drawn all around you, holding you in His arms with His redeeming love?

Practice, practice

Ann Voskamp observes,
Seems there are a whole lot of men who see more glory in ESPN and superbowls than in Christ, in supernatural hope. They prefer pigskins.

I would just add, Ann, living here in Colorado, that there are at least an equal number of women who share that enthusiasm. Number 18 is being worn everywhere by all genders and ages in these parts, just like John Elway's number 7 used to be worn everywhere at the end of the last century, when the Denver Broncos last tasted the peak of earthly glory.

People are worshipfully amazed that Peyton Manning, he of the number 18, has a well-practiced, experienced arm that can throw the ball in all directions, over long and short distances, to sure-handed receivers who catch the pigskin and run to glory with it.

But, Ann is talking about a different arm and a different Glory.
His arm will go anywhere, to redeem anyone, from anything.

That changes any temptation to judge or reject.

That keeps you over the egg crud on the stove praying for your own blurry scales to fall off.

So what is the life of a Christ follower all about?
“Grace then — that is what the full life is full of, what God’s glory is full of.

To see His glory, name His graces.

Retune the impaired senses to sense the Spirit, to see the grace.

Couldn’t I do that anywhere? Why is it so hard? Practice, practice.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Next in line

Joe Biden was at the State of the Union speech last night. He is the one on the left, a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Thanks to Ace of Spades.

Forgotten Heroes

Guest post
Suzann Darnall

My husband and my grandson both have denim vests with a patch on the back honoring our Fallen Heroes. In the center it shows an American eagle head with the emblems for our five military services underneath, all imposed over a portion of the American flag. Above and below are the words. "In memory of our troops . . . Defenders of our freedom". In a circle around that center portion is the phrase, "The nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten." At the center bottom of the patch are the words, "Fallen Heroes".

My husband found those patches and I sewed them onto the vests. I thought about the message with each stitch. I am an Air Force wife AND an Air Force brat, so the words and pictures mean something to me. Something important. It is why wounded warriors, returning veterans, and old soldiers should be thanked for their service. It is why we must keep faith with our military. We must support our troops. We must give them the tools they need and help them care for their families. We have an obligation to them for what they give for us. Their time, their service, their sacrifice, and sometimes their life.

So, as I listened to the State of the Union address and came away with many questions about much of what Obama proposes, there was one thing in particular that jumped out at me: the military once again being given the short end of the stick! Our troops and their families again being treated as second class citizens by a president who espouses equality and fairness with almost every other breath he takes. But, it is once again something he says which is not true. He only extends his version of equality and fairness to those he believes deserves it. While I was not surprised that Obama once again breaks faith with a portion of our population, I was once again dismayed that our defenders will be shortchanged and denied what they have earned.

Oh, Obama gave much lip service to our military. He praised our troops . . . as well he should! But, much of it is just empty rhetoric to make political points. The uniforms in the room at the State of the Union are just window dressing for Obama to try to fool people into thinking he has respect and concern for our troops. When push comes to shove, his actions speak ever so much louder than his words!!!

If you doubt that he really does not care about our military, just consider the following actions he has taken or intends to take. Actions that show his lack of consideration for the military versus the civilian population.

Obama is planning to increase the federal worker minimum wage. One of the reasons he states is "because if you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty". My main question is, "What is he doing to improve economic conditions for our military troops, veterans, and retirees"?

Will those who are serving and have served be given a cost of living increase? Will they again receive their promised benefits? Will base housing availability be increased so servicemen have decent places for their families to live? Will veterans and retirees have adequate access to free healthcare as originally promised? There are many more questions of this type, but I simply cannot list them all.

Obama and the Progressives have, over the past decades, eroded so much of the military "benefit package", as well as denying the military the simplest of pay raises to keep pace with the cost of living and/or inflation rates. I cannot remember how many times I watched Congress deny the military a pay raise or only allow a 3.5% to the troops while giving themselves a 35% pay raise!

While I realize that Obama, his administration, and his Congress are not responsible for all that has been taken from or done to the military, I do take offense at him stressing the need to do more for others while ignoring the deficiencies the military and their families face! He cannot just drag out the occasional wounded warrior as a showpiece or mention the Joint Chiefs of Staff and get a pass for his lack of effort to improve the overall military condition.

One thing that has happened recently is that ObamaCare allows civilian parents to keep their adult children on their medical insurance until the age of 26. However, military parents are denied this option. Military families' adult children are kicked off their sponsors' insurance coverage at age 21, unless they are full-time college students, in which a case they can be covered until age 23. Not only are the ages 3 to 5 years lower than the civilian option, but there is no college requirement for the civilian coverage. Where is the fairness in that? Are our military dependents less deserving of consideration than civilian families?

When my husband was on active duty we knew numerous families who qualified for food stamps, free school lunches, WIC, and the like. Most of the enlisted families lived below the poverty level. And, this situation has not improved in the years since my husband retired.

A lot of the troops Obama "praised" are earning less than the minimum wage he proposes for federal workers. Some active duty military have adult children who are struggling to go to college full-time, work part-time, and cope with health issues while not having the safety net of medical insurance coverage under their parents' policies. This does not seem like it falls in line with Obama's stated support of our troops.

Wounded warriors and veterans are often facing unconscionable delays in getting the medical care and benefits they were promised and deserve. Frequently the widowed spouses and orphans of our fallen warriors have to jump through endless hoops and fill out ridiculous amounts of paperwork to gain the benefits to which they are entitled. Does this seem like Obama is truly honoring our troops and our obligations to them? Despite promises to slash through the backlog, there are actually steps and requirements being implemented into the process that slows it all down even more. Some requirements seemingly geared at denying benefits to those most entitled to be cared for by their government. A government that should be grateful for the service and sacrifice rendered by military members and their families. Sacrifices that all too often include the loss of life, limb, or loved one.

Even retirees are having their benefits cut, through a back room deal done in Congress. Despite the fact that they essentially made a contract with the United States when they swore their oath. If a civilian company tried to do to their employees and retirees what the US government does to their military, veterans, and retirees, it would be unlawful. And, Obama did not take this opportunity to stand with the troops and speak out against the cut. Even more disturbing, while military pensions are being affected by the budget cuts, federal retirees are exempted. But, again, it is apparently okay to screw the troops . . . past, present, and possibly future!

While I agree with Obama praising our military, I want to see him actually live up to his words and the government's promises. I want to see him extend the same economic concern to our military as he wants to extend to federal workers and civilians. I want to see him show the same concern for military families as he does for others. I want him to live up to his fairness and equality policies in regards to the military. And, by military, I mean active duty, veteran, and retired!

Our military literally puts life and limb on the line to protect and defend. Even those who do not go in harm's way pay a price just because of the military way of life and relatively low wages. Our troops pay the true cost of freedom. Does their sacrifice not buy them right to have the promises made to them be honored?

I think so. I only wish Obama and the Progressives did, too!

© Suzann C. Darnall, JANUARY 2014

Forecasting the next 25 years

What are Stratfor's forecasts for the world in 2039?
The United States will continue to be the leading economic power.
Conflict in the Middle East will continue, but the United States will take a much more hands-off approach in the region.
German and Russian interests will align, trading natural gas and technology, and could potentially threaten Washington's global strategy.
Mexico will become an industrial powerhouse by taking low-level production from China and monetizing its energy sector.
China will continue to face more internal tension and slower economic growth.

Where do cashews come from?

Ever wonder where cashews come from? You might think they grow inside a shell like any other nut, but their true origins are far more bizarre.

First of all, cashews are not actually nuts, but rather fruits from the cashew tree, a large evergreen tree that thrives in tropical climates. The tree produces red flowers, which in turn produce yellow and red oval structures resembling apples. These so-called cashew apples are very juicy and pulpy, and their juice is often added to tropical fruit drinks.

The cashew apple and fruit.

However, cashew apples are not actually fruits in a scientific sense; the real fruit of the cashew tree is the kidney-shaped formation growing at the end. These fruits, also called drupes, are harvested and become what we know as a cashew nut.

In their raw form, the outer layer of the fruit contains multiple toxins including anacardic acid, a powerful skin irritant similar to the toxin found in poison ivy that must be removed prior to eating.

Roasting the cashews destroys the toxins, but roasting must be performed carefully outdoors because the smoke can irritate the lungs, sometimes to a life-threatening degree. When they are roasted, cashews change from their natural greenish-gray color to the light brown nut sold in stores. Next time you crack open a tin of cashews, take a moment to appreciate the long journey those little c-shaped nuts took from the tree to your table!

Thanks to Curt Dale for passing on this information.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Give back habitat, restore habitat

A man who raised lions in the wild.

Tyrant? Dictator?

Making something with what you have been given

Ann Voskamp reminds us that
You don’t have to know if you have what it takes.

You just have to know that you will take what you’ve been given and make something of that.

Which generation are you?

Thanks to Floyd Ciruli

Some things change; others don't

CNN has a poll which shows how young adults and older adults agree and differ in their views of the morality of certain practices in America.

Hat tip to Floyd Ciruli

Maybe it's time we fight all addictive drugs!

Chuck Norris speaks out on marijuana legalization:
Maybe it's time we fight all addictive drugs instead of making excuses for using them. Maybe it's time we teach and model for young people that life can be good enough on its own merit without altering reality by drug use.

I'm not here making a case for or against the medicinal use of marijuana. However, it's very difficult for me to believe that America, average healthy Americans and particularly our younger generations are going to be better off with pot's legalization.

I'm all for freedom, but when liberty turns into licentiousness, it's time to reconsider why we're doing what we're doing.

State of the Union

You don't have to listen to Obama tonight to find out the state of the union. Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos has already told us:
Weak. Divisive. Fractured. Politically controlled but morally deregulated.

The left likes to say that Obama is a "constitutional scholar," by which they really mean that he thoroughly cased the joint before taking office. He studied the Constitution the way a counterfeiter studies money.

Limited government offers few ways for resentment and envy to be fungible to political power, since there is little surplus power to redistribute, only the powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. And those are no fun for a political opportunist on a satanic mission.


What happened?

Thanks to Jason Worley.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy on the ears...and eyes

Bach Sonata No. 2 in A minor – fugue – BWV 1003 beautifully played by Tatyana Ryzhkova

Found here.

Words of wisdom from the deep south

Once more from Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated:
I watched the hoopla around New Jersey Governor Christie. I liked him, in his place. It’s a matter of perspective: When you consider that he’s Governor of New Jersey, anybody to the right of Josef Stalin looks good. But not on the national stage. What passes for ‘conservative’ in the Northeast comes off as a flaming commie in the piney woods of Texas or the rice fields of south Louisiana.

Sorry… If he does make the “It’s his turn” list of the Republican Party in 2016, we’re just adding to the string of mediocrity that brought us the likes of Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney, wherein we take a country club Republican and try to pass him off as an alternative to whatever the Left throws up.

Second thing: The mainstream media has spent more time over the Christie administration’s maliciously shutting down the exits off a major traffic artery than they did over Benghazi. Or the disappearing red line in Syria. Or the re-taking of Fallujah by Al Qaeda. Or Holder’s DOJ. Or the IRS shutting down conservatives before the last election. Or anything else.

But you know what? I can see them shutting up soon, making noises like ‘Yeah, that’ wasn’t Christie. That was people below him. He didn’t know…” Like they all of a sudden decided to play nice. Until the election. Then you can bet they’ll crank this and everything else back up.

Amateur Hour

Super Bowl XLVIII

Do you remember when the first Super Bowl was played? Who won? 1967 – The first Super Bowl is played in Los Angeles, California. Green Bay Packers defeat Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. I remember it well, as I was living in Kansas City at the time.

Next week we will cheer for the Broncos. Do you know what the "L" stands for in Super Bowl XLVIII?

Who fears armed citizens?

"Only criminals, dictators and Democrats fear armed citizens."

Found at Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated


January 27

On this day in history,
1973 – Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde falls, becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty. “Peace” comes after North Vietnam invades and subdues South Vietnam, overrunning Saigon in April of 1975. A million Vietnamese died after we “gave peace a chance”.

Found here.

Lawyer explains how the Obama rule makers are attempting to silence Tea Party groups

Do you want to learn more about how the IRS is attempting to silence Tea Party groups? Here is a link to a video by an attorney for Tea Party groups.

You can't do it, my friend

John McCain has been formally censured by the Republican Party in Arizona.

Thanks to Dave Blount for linking to this You Tube audio.

CBS edits out this exchange with Senator Ted Cruz

Thanks to Newsbusters and Moonbattery for showing us what CBS edited out of the Face the Nation interview with Ted Cruz.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baptists and Catholics unite!

We have an issue in which the Baptists and Catholics are in agreement! The Becket fund represents
Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, GuideStone, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College
in cases before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday on their behalf against the Obama administration on the issue of the Obamacare mandate.
The mandate requires nearly all Americans -- businesses and individuals -- to carry health insurance that offers contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without co-payments, regardless of potential religious objections.

Thanks to CNS for reporting on the Court's injunction.

Does the government need to be in the marriage business? - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Thanks to Memeorandum for linking to the Oklahoma video and story.

A doctor who cared

Do you hide your impairments by joking around? Caleb Gardner writes at Lapham's Quarterly about a doctor named George. George cared deeply about his patients, and had a wonderful ability to communicate with them.

Gardner writes,
Comedy thrives on contradiction, and the absurdity of life is particularly refined in the hospital. Doctors discuss breakfast as they open someone’s sternum with a bone saw, a delirious patient demands green Jell-O, and an old man dying of neurovascular disease smiles longingly at the woman drawing blood from his arm while his son watches hopefully for those very mannerisms that inflicted silent damage throughout his childhood. Laughter, it seems, is one of the few genuine reactions one can have to such a paradoxical world. But it can be deceiving.

As he spoke to us that day, I thought more about his blunt humor. “Humor is not resigned,” Sigmund Freud said, “it is rebellious.” To me, it seemed that George cared more strongly about other people than anyone else on the team. His humor, sharpened by rage, was a rebellion against an environment where tests and imaging take the place of physical contact, and where computer screens replace human interaction. It was a rebellion against a powerful industry that hides its pettiness and hypocrisy under a thin but seemingly impenetrable veneer of euphemism and empathy. And, to some degree I felt, it was a self-defeating struggle against his own inability to embrace a system that may well be taking patient care, however stumblingly, in the right direction.

The affect he was thus sparing himself was sadness. For it is often easier to be angry than sad, and beneath George’s satire I saw a wound that, even then, I felt might be opening in myself. But on this day he allowed himself some sorrow. “I should have seen it, Caleb,” he said to me in the hall outside of our patient’s empty room.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to Gardner's article.

Technology and gender equality

Are we socially hobbled by our little screens? Digital technology has changed our lives, but for better or worse?

When I look up at a line forming at my cash register, I breathe a sign of relief when I see a customer occupied with her cell phone. I know she will be less likely to be impatient.

Do we idealize the past? Are public spaces less communal than they used to be? A sociologist named Hampden has found that we are actually interacting more with other people than we used to. He actually got the bright idea to look back, and compare now with previous years. One of his most notable findings is that there are more women in public than there used to be.

Go read this article by Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times to find out more about Hampden's work.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to Oppenheimer.

Huckabee the latest GOP notable to be smeared in the media

Gail Collins writes a sarcastic column today in the New York Times about Mike Huckabee. She says he used to be Mr. Nice Guy, but now has become raw, angry, and mean, just like all the other Republicans. She says
he used to fry squirrels in a popcorn popper when he was in college. That has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but I couldn’t resist bringing it up.
Yes, Gail, but that is the problem: ridicule and sarcasm are all you've got!

Defenselessness mandate succeeds in Maryland

Another shooting, this time at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. The mall is another place that mandates defenselessness. No one is allowed to carry firearms. Three people are dead, including the shooter, who shot himself after shooting two employees of a skateboard shop. The shooter was a young adult, as were the two victims.

What should he have to go through?

"It was no wonder he’d become frustrated trying to exist in media sound bites. Who among us can keep a message on fire in 30-second bursts — for good or bad — before having to lie down in the straw, exhausted, demoralized or forgotten?"

A college professor had a student in his class who was a leader in a movement with which the professor disagreed. Nevertheless, the professor was "one of the only ones who treated me (the student) as a human being." The professor had learned to respect the student as a person of integrity and diligence, while the student was undergoing hateful oppression by the politically correct crowd.

“I’m sorry,” I said to him. “You shouldn’t have to go through that.”

What should he have to go through? I still had no idea.

Read more about the student and professor here.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to this article.

Which words should we outlaw?

Some leaders of Israel's Knesset are proposing a new law which would outlaw the use of the word "Nazi." If you were found guilty of uttering the word, you would be subject to a lengthy prison term.

However, Edgar Keret writes in this New York Times piece that such a law would be a terrible mistake. Sometimes Nazi is the right word. Keret writes,
Many years ago, my father, who had to hide in a damp pit for roughly 600 days during World War II, told me that there were only two lessons to be learned from that war. The first was that the Jewish people, who have suffered so much, must do whatever it takes to be strong so that they never again find themselves at the mercy of others.

The second was that the Jews, who have suffered from racial discrimination and inhumane conduct, must be more careful than any other people to avoid the slightest hint of racism and persecution in their own conduct.

My father, may he rest in peace, tried to live by these sometimes contradictory values throughout his 83-year life.

More than three decades ago, he once found himself at a train station in Norway, where a group of local drunks were harassing two Chinese tourists. The drunks called the tourists “slant eyes” and “yellow dogs.” My father stood between the drunks and the Chinese and demanded that the hooligans leave. In response, he was also showered with curses and threats.

When the Norwegians called him a “kike,” he called them “Nazis.”

What my father did, according to the Knesset members who support the “Nazi” ban, was a criminal act that justifies a prison sentence. And in their Brave New Israel, it’s worth noting, the racist Norwegians would have been well within their rights.

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to this article.

Friday, January 24, 2014

One more cover up

Guess how many threats by students have been investigated in Colorado's five largest school districts so far this year. 400. Guess how many of those were deemed "the highest level of concern." 40. So, how about Karl Pierson the recent killer at Arapahoe High School who made a threat in September against the debate coach. Was that threat considered "the highest level of concern?" Arapahoe High School administrators won't say. Why won't they? Who is covering for whom? They won't even release threat numbers to the Denver Post, although all their neighboring districts have done so. Law enforcement is also silent. To me, it smells like one more cover up.

Zahira Torres of the Denver Post is on the story. She writes,
Earlier this year, the federal government released guidelines intended to limit strict school discipline policies that may disproportionately push minority students into the criminal justice system.

That would be our friends Eric Holder and Barack Obama, once again.

Torres writes an excellent piece here about the threat assessment process and its history. I am glad a reporter is on the case. One of the security guards at Arapahoe is blowing the whistle on the bureaucrats who run the school.

It can't harm them; it's just marijuana!

Police say two students at Olathe High School have been hospitalized after eating marijuana-infused edibles. Oh gee, isn't that a hilarious trick? I wonder where the 14-year-old got the marijuana to put in the edibles? You'd think he was in Colorado or something. Oh, wait; Olathe is the place in Colorado where they grow delicious apples.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Weiners go apartment hunting

You may have read that Anthony Weiner and his wife, Hillary Clinton's gal pal Huma Abedin, are looking for a less expensive place to live.

Manhatten Infidel notices Weiner's dejection, and offers his services to the couple. To begin, Weiner showed M.I. some pictures of apartments on his phone. They weren't actually pictures of apartments, if you follow what I'm getting at. Read the whole thing here.

Watching the money

Money is really tight these days. In order to avoid running into credit card debt, customers are paying partially with cash, then putting as little as possible on their credit cards. Today a woman was fumbling through all her pockets for cash, then she apparently remembered she had stuffed some cash in her bra, which only partially covered her ample breasts. She pulled out the money and handed it to me. I thanked her for the experience, er, I mean, for her purchase, and was very proud of myself for not offering to help her find the cash.

Getting through dark places

Ann Voskamp has the amazing story of a 61-year-old Australian who won a 544 mile ultra marathon wearing his work boots covered up with galoshes over top in case it rained. It is a remarkable story.

Obama shares some of the negative side effects of marijuana

Scott Ott, otherwise known as Scrappleface, reports on Obama's recent remarks about marijuana:
(2014-01-20) — A recent New Yorker interview with President Obama has left parents struggling to explain to their children why they should not smoke marijuana, as it becomes legal in more and more states.

In the interview, Obama said marijuana use was “less dangerous” than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

In an effort to clarify, the White House this morning released a list of potentially-negative side effects of the drug Obama admits he used in his youth.

“The president doesn’t want to give the impression that his historic experimentation with marijuana implies he condones it for young people,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “He has told his own daughters he thinks it’s a ‘bad habit,’ and has said that if he had a son who looked like Trayvon Martin, he would counsel his boy that pot smoking is ‘a waste of time,’ and ‘not very healthy.’”

Critics suggested the president was less than clear and forceful, so this morning the White House released the following list of potentially harmful long-term side-effects of recreational marijuana usage.

“President Obama wants American kids to know that frequent marijuana usage can lead to…

Lethargic reactions to dangerous situations behind the wheel or when your consulate is attacked.
Feelings of immortality, omniscience and omnipotence, leading to attempts to “do the impossible,” or take over entire economic sectors.
Cravings for foods that are on the First Lady’s ‘no-no list’
‘Running with the wrong crowd,’ including petty law-breakers, communist dictators, Islamist warlords and even political consultants.
Irresistible urges to flee responsibility, and spend countless hours at places where there’s ‘lots of grass’.
Inattention to detail in written instructions, like laws or the U.S. Constitution.”

The White House retracted the list later in the morning, noting that the president didn’t recall approving its release.

Senator Cruz speaks out on Ukraine

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released the following statement today regarding the ongoing violence and civic unrest in Ukraine:

"Over the past few days, at least three members of the political opposition have been either shot or beaten to death by forces under the control of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for protesting his new restrictions on the freedoms of speech and assembly that had previously been guaranteed by their country's constitution.

"The tragic loss of life in Kiev is a further demonstration that Yanukovych has abandoned the democratic principles on which that constitution is founded. Deplorable violence against the peaceful protests of Yanukovych’s unilateral decision to reject a popular trade agreement with the European Union and instead embrace closer ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia has already occurred on November 30, December 1 and December 11, 2013. Now this grim pattern is repeating itself.

"The United States must not turn a blind eye to the struggle for freedom in a country where we have such a clear strategic interest. Putin’s proposed Eurasian Customs Union, of which Ukraine would be a cornerstone, is a thinly veiled attempt to re-assimilate the territory of "greater Russia" that made up the old Soviet Union. His offer of economic assistance is a first step in binding Ukraine to this new bloc. Given Ukraine’s economic and security significance to both the U.S. and our NATO allies in western Europe it would be a mistake to allow this expansion of Russia’s sphere of interest, especially given the tenacity with which Ukrainians have fought against it in recent months.

"The President and Congress should unite in a coherent and sustained program to support the opposition and encourage Yanukovych to both rescind his restrictions on the rights of the Ukrainian people and renounce violence against those engaged in protest. I was pleased to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 319 introduced by Senator Chris Murphy on December 12, 2013, which includes the important clause: “in the event of further state violence against peaceful protestors, the President and Congress should consider whether to apply targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against individuals responsible for ordering or carrying out the violence.” The Department of State should be commended for implementing visa bans against Ukrainian officials this week. We should follow-up swiftly with targeted economic sanctions as well, including freezing the assets of those responsible for the violence.

"The people of Ukraine should know that the United States stands with them during this difficult time.

It's not parenthood

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Extreme Conservative . . . and Proud of IT!!!

Guest post
Suzann Darnall

I guess I am one of the Extreme Conservatives who sends Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) into a tizzy. Since I am not welcome in New York, guess it is a good thing I live in Texas!

Actually, I generally refer to myself as a Radical Conservative or a Conservative Radical, 'cause although I am mostly Conservative, I do have some views on a few topics that lean more towards Libertarian. Though, some might actually call that Constitutional Conservative, so labels can get a little confusing at times. However, I am pretty sure Governor Cuomo deserves the label "jerk"!

How do so many of these politicians get that out of touch with their constituencies? I know Liberal media feeds them the constant idea that US citizens all lean left, but are the politicians completely unaware that there are media sources which show it is otherwise? And, do all the politicians ignore the extensive feedback people send through mail, email, polls, rallies, protests, town halls, and other venues, to show that WE THE PEOPLE are displeased with them and their Progressive policies???

I am especially confused by the idea that being pro-life makes us extremists. I mean, really??? In a supposedly civilized society which is more extreme?

#1 - Considering each unborn child to be a treasure who should be cherished and nurtured as our future.

- - - OR - - -

#2 - Considering unborn babies to be disposable and allowing them to be killed even up to the last moment before birth.

I know I am pretty darn sure it is not the pro-lifers that are extreme! Any more than those of us who believe in the Second Amendment are extreme for wanting to protect our right to defend our lives, homes, and families with firearms!!!

I consider it kinda extreme and crazy that the politicians and celebrities who speak out the loudest against gun ownership are among the elite class that has body guards and protective details . . . who ALL carry guns!!! Sooo, I guess it would be okay for me to own a gun if I also hired someone else to carry it for me?

All in all, I find the majority of the views expressed by the Left to be extreme . . . as in extremely silly! I listen and read time after time trying to make sense of some of their ideas. I keep coming up with nuthin'! A big fat zero for the logic column. Now, I am not saying they are stupid, but they are certainly not making much sense.

The problem is that silliness or stupidity can be dangerous and even deadly. Have any doubts about that, just think about some of the dumb things done by people that result in disastrous outcomes. I know many of them start off with the words, "Look at me" or "Y'all ain't gonna believe this"! Stupid is as stupid does. Dumb and dumber do walk among us. But, even if idiocy is common, it still makes no sense.

Just like Andrew Cuomo's anti-Conservative rant made no sense. But, hey, if there are any Conservative New Yorkers feeling unloved and unwanted in New York, come on down to Texas! We like Conservatives and even accept Liberals . . . just check out Austin! Plus, we even got some New Yorkers that have already made the move. So, y'all come!

© Suzann C. Darnall, JANUARY 2014

Rand Paul now overtaking Chris Christie as the GOP frontrunner?

Peter Beinart likes Rand Paul's chances in the early primaries for the 2016 Republican nomination. He thinks he would finish no less than second in both Iowa and New Hampshire, thus making him the leading anti-establishment candidate.

Alone, yet not alone

Read the background story here.

I knew it; I just couldn't remember

The brains of older people only appear to slow down because they have so much information to compute, much like a full-up hard drive, scientists believe.
Older people do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe.

Much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so to do humans take longer to access information, it has been suggested.

Researchers say this slowing down it is not the same as cognitive decline.

“The human brain works slower in old age,” said Dr. Michael Ramscar, “but only because we have stored more information over time

“The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.”

If only football was played with the mouth

This man has anger management problems. Don't worry, though; Peyton Manning, Julius Thomas, Jacob Tammy, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker have the cure!

Calling for impeachment

Add Nat Hentoff's name to those who have called for an investigation into whether Barack Obama should be impeached. World Net Daily is keeping track. Here are the legislators who have so far called for an impeachment investigation:
Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa; Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich.; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.
Read more here.

Someone named Steven Baldwin has already written a book entitled "The Case For Impeachment."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Psychopathology, brain development, genetics, and the effects of family life on human development

How profoundly does our early environment affect us? Neuroscientist James Fallon says,
I found out that I happened to have a series of genetic alleles, "warrior genes," that had to do with serotonin and were thought to be at risk for aggression, violence, and low emotional and interpersonal empathy—if you're raised in an abusive environment. But if you're raised in a very positive environment, that can have the effect of offsetting the negative effects of some of the other genes.

Fallon tells an interviewer for the Atlantic,
The jump from being a "prosocial" psychopath or somebody on the edge who doesn't act out violently, to someone who really is a real, criminal predator is not clear. For me, I think I was protected because I was brought up in an upper-middle-class, educated environment with very supportive men and women in my family. So there may be a mass convergence of genetics and environment over a long period of time. But what would happen if I lost my family or lost my job; what would I then become? That's the test.

There are some critical periods in human development. For the epigenome, the first moment is the moment of conception. That is when the genetics are very vulnerable to methylation and, therefore, the effects of a harsh environment: the mother under stress, the mother taking drugs, alcohol, and things like that. The second greatest susceptibility is the moment of birth and, of course, there are the third and fourth trimesters. After that, there is a slow sort of susceptibility curve that goes down.

The first two years of life are critical if you overlap them with the emergence of what are called complex adaptive behaviors. When children are born they have some natural kinds of genetic programming. For example, a kid will show certain kinds of fear—of certain people, then of strangers, then it’s acceptance of people—that’s complex-adaptive behavior at work in social interactions. But even laughing, and smiling, and making raspberry sounds are all complex-adaptive behaviors, and they will emerge automatically. You don't need to be taught these things.

One idea is that over the first three years there are 350 very early complex adaptive behaviors that go in sequence, but if somehow you’re interrupted with a stressor, it will affect that particular behavior that’s emerging or just about to emerge. It could be at a year and half, 3 months, or 12 months. After that, the effects of environment really start to drop; by the time you start hitting puberty, you kind of get locked in. And during puberty your frontal lobe system does a switch.

There are some critical periods in human development. For the epigenome, the first moment is the moment of conception. That is when the genetics are very vulnerable to methylation and, therefore, the effects of a harsh environment: the mother under stress, the mother taking drugs, alcohol, and things like that. The second greatest susceptibility is the moment of birth and, of course, there are the third and fourth trimesters. After that, there is a slow sort of susceptibility curve that goes down.

The first two years of life are critical if you overlap them with the emergence of what are called complex adaptive behaviors. When children are born they have some natural kinds of genetic programming. For example, a kid will show certain kinds of fear—of certain people, then of strangers, then it’s acceptance of people—that’s complex-adaptive behavior at work in social interactions. But even laughing, and smiling, and making raspberry sounds are all complex-adaptive behaviors, and they will emerge automatically. You don't need to be taught these things.

One idea is that over the first three years there are 350 very early complex adaptive behaviors that go in sequence, but if somehow you’re interrupted with a stressor, it will affect that particular behavior that’s emerging or just about to emerge. It could be at a year and half, 3 months, or 12 months. After that, the effects of environment really start to drop; by the time you start hitting puberty, you kind of get locked in. And during puberty your frontal lobe system does a switch.

Then, there’s a switch that occurs late in adolescence. For some people it could be 17, 18, 19, or 20-years-old. What happens is that the upper part of the brain, the frontal lobe and its connections, start to mature. That's a critical time because that’s usually when you see schizophrenia, some forms of depression, and those major psychiatric disorders emerge. For personality disorders it’s not really known when they will emerge because it’s very understudied. People will say, you can’t do anything about it, it’s locked in and there seems to be almost no treatment. Whereas, for things like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, you can do something about it. There are drugs, or things you can do with brain stimulation and talk therapy, so that's where Big Pharma and the whole industry goes.

You start to really see personality disorders emerge around puberty, but for some children who might be primary psychopaths—that is, they have all the genes and their brain sort of set in the third trimester—this can start emerging very early, around 2 or 3-years-old. That is why we have to have more trained eyes—because that is where this becomes important for society.

A primary psychopath won't necessarily be dangerous, but if we can see that in a kid, we can tell parents to look for certain kinds of behavior. And if those behaviors emerge, we can safely discuss, protecting the privacy of that family and of the kid, how to have the child interact with a nurse practitioner or a trained professional. At that point, we can say: Make sure this kid is never bullied in school; keep them away from street violence, on and on.

Not a dream

Some excerpts from several essays by David Warren:
How many people have said, “I am basically a good person,” without noticing that no one ever asked? And it is true that real monsters are a small minority, though I often think they are closer to being saved.

What we haven’t confronted, is that very emptiness, that loneliness, that hopelessness — together with the self-pity that explains it all away. For the modern man is a childless orphan, and the modern woman is a modern man, and this goes double when they are married to each other.

An example would be the sanctity of human life. Once it is grasped that it is wrong to kill people, as a way to solve your problems, and that a human is human from the moment he is conceived, opposition to abortion naturally follows. That is why it is incumbent on every faithful Catholic to oppose abortion, as he would otherwise oppose murder. This can’t be optional. It is incumbent, too, on every other one of us: on every Christian, and as it happens, on every decent human being regardless of religious affiliation. For in every other religious tradition of which I am aware, the sanctity of life is in some way affirmed. Even the Dalai Lama will tell you that abortion is evil, and against divine law.

Similarly, once some notion of the connexion between sex and babies has been grasped, it is no longer possible to dismiss moral guidance. Nothing so elemental to the condition of human life than our means of reproduction could be otherwise than shouting with moral significance; and far from being a side issue, sexuality is at the heart of all human relations.

The contemporary teaching that it is merely a source of pleasure — so incredibly crass — has consequences that are unambiguously evil. Consequences that can be spelt out rationally, step by frigging step. Which were in fact spelt out, very rationally, in Humanae Vitae, by the late Pope Paul. (I know this because as a clever young atheist, I read it through repeatedly, with the intention of mocking it; and could find in it not one connective that was logically unsound, and became thereby convinced, even as an aspiring young Helot, that contraception could not possibly be correct.) A rule remains a rule, and continues to be a rule, until someone can show an internal contradiction.

And in the depths, likewise, the principle of marriage must still be affirmed, no matter how many of the mad may oppose it. One woman and one man must be courageously vindicated. Deep, and deeper than that.

While it has entirely escaped media attention, the most massive public demonstrations on this continent are pretty much invariably the various annual marches against abortion — in which I have observed that females outnumber males, and the young outnumber the old, often by quite large margins. For the mainstream media, ten sign-waving feminist old crows can be important breaking news. But ten thousand marching young women, proclaiming Christian truth to their indifferent surroundings, does not quite rise to sending a junior reporter. This is how things are, and it is that craven media that impinges on public consciousness hour by hour, and day by day, de-moralizing and corrupting.

From my own experience on the pro-life “front line,” for instance walking along with fifteen thousand or more mostly young people in Ottawa a couple of years ago — and past e.g. the CBC television stand, whose cameras were trained on a small handful of old-crow feminist counter-demonstrators for the footage they would actually be using — I should like to make an observation.

First, a joyous observation, of how invigorating it was, to be in the company of so many ebullient and purposeful young. These were, in the main, the products of the catechism classes I was mentioning above: bright and cheerful young faces in contrast with the grim and cheerless I pass on the sidewalks every day. The same comment for events such as the Papal Youth Days, when quite literally millions of the children of good Catholic homes, or converts, are assembled. I wish to say about them nothing snide, but rather how much I love them.

At the Rose Dinner, in Ottawa, in the evening after the spring pro-life march, I had the opportunity to speak with quite a few of my much younger companions in arms. And again: they were impressive, case by case, as I was coming to see them not as a mass, but as many fine and particular faces, each already with a complex life story, and not one an interchangeable happy-clap zombie, of the sort the media stereotype portrays — though not entirely from malice. (In my experience, the overwhelming majority of journalists belong to a self-consciously brahmin, “progressive” social class, which eschews contact with those it considers “lower,” i.e. the worker bees and water-carriers of the “flyover country,” whose views could hardly matter to them.)

They were young, very young to my now ageing eyes, but in their ebullience we are all made timeless. Not only did I converse, I overheard them chatting about what “young people” chat about, as everyone chats: from out of the fodder of their daily lives. And in this mush, I heard so many of the clich├ęs of the media also being mindlessly repeated, and saw the flip gestures that go with them. They, too, had inherited the wind from a godless society, and blew the wind on without even thinking. They had thought through their principles, and were basically obedient, as most young people are — whether it is to authority or to fashion. Still, do they have the deeper instinct, and the fortitude with the instinct, sometimes not to obey? To stand alone, under real and excruciating peer pressure, without external support, against the overpowering Zeitgeist?

And it was more in overhearing little unthinking remarks that I inwardly wept for them.

To be sure, they had the rules down. I did not meet one who could not articulately expound why he (or more usually she) was “protesting” against abortion. Yet that very word “protesting” gave part of the game away.

Nor really do I think that there was one whose firm belief was not rooted in the connexion between sex and babies. Nor, possibly, even one who did not therefore follow the connexions on through a range of other Christian teachings. They’d been taught, well enough.

Yet still there was something that seemed missing from them; something that curiously had not yet gone entirely missing, even from the hippies who were my own contemporaries in youth — self-conscious “fashion hippies” who had inherited many more of the “social conventions” and “unquestioned beliefs” of their “square” post-war parents than they could ever realize.

“Rules” were being “questioned,” way back then. And yet, viscerally, they were still being followed. The profound idea of “one man, one woman” was often outwardly rejected, even volubly rejected, but it was still viscerally there. It would take another generation of media indoctrination, lewd commercial advertising, and the ministrations of Nanny State, to root the very instincts of Western Civilization out of their souls and bowels. All that my own generation had lost, in the first instance, was the power of resistance, founded ultimately on those old unquestioned rules that told one through one’s conscience when one was doing wrong.

But more than this: told one through the same conscience when one was doing right. And sometimes, filled the soul with some distant echo of a pleasure, that was our Lord’s pleasure in the creation of His world.

Conscience still exists, however poorly formed, or twisted. The propensity to guilt will always be there, so long as we are human. As well, the propensity to moral satisfaction, however twisted that becomes. But what one ought to feel sorry for, or badly about, or thoroughly ashamed by, can be quite substantially altered by the intervention of ceaseless propaganda, and ruthless fashion, and the inversion of a system of reward and punishment through the social engineering of the State.

We have faith, of a kind, shaken sometimes even by minor earth tremors. We have faith vested essentially in a political order; in the belief that, where problems arise, they can be solved, and our “human spirit” (which is incidentally no material thing) will ultimately rise to the occasion. We are, in the voice of every political commander, “the people of this great nation,” and we are repeatedly assured that we will prevail.

Failing which, we fall into utter despair. For we have no other faith to fall back on, when the earth indeed trembles and our artificial tower comes tumbling down. And, whether or not it is in our strictest modern sense “historical,” the story of Babel in Genesis tells us what will be our fate.

If there is one use for the calendrical New Year, it is provided, unintentionally, through the media, and through the accidents of social life. Towards the end of the old year, and bleeding into the new, we are exposed to a higher density of “signs of the times” than at any other time of year. Partly this is a by-product of the media habit of looking backward and forward: precisely twelve months back and twelve months fore. It is an arbitrary thing, but usually their cycle is twenty-four hours, or less with the advance of consumer electronics. Christmas, now for many years an essentially secular holiday, with little pretense of Christian thanksgiving but a modicum of “traditional” good cheer, adds more to this density. In some moments, even for those whose Christian affiliation evaporated before childhood, there are juxtapositions, contrasts.

In the media, or if you will, at a Christmas Party, or on New Year’s Eve, a lot of human experience can be compacted into a very small space, and much quickly passes before our eyes and ears. One has glimpses of the radical opposition between good and evil, beauty and ugliness, the true and the false, exhibited as if on signboards that anyone can read.

There is, especially in cold northern countries, a kind of post-partum depression that sets in after the holidays have passed. The weather plays some part in this: we who live in the vast conurbations do not look with relish on the next few months. In the countryside, a fresh snowfall can be uplifting; can be the making, for instance, of a “white Christmas”; in the city it can only mean service delays, traffic hell, dangerous sidewalks. The let-down after excessive eating and drinking comes into this, too: the sense that the party is over, and it is back to work for us.

But I think something deeper also contributes to our sense, however mildly it is taken, of emptiness, loneliness, hopelessness.

I had a dream like this, the other evening. A baby was lying in the snow and slush. He’d been left there, accidentally discarded. People were busy, they were passing him by. I thought, he is cold, he has fallen on the sidewalk. Some woman must have dropped him on her way home. She’ll want to have him back, I must get him to her. But it was Christmas, there were legs on all these shoppers; the baby on the sidewalk kept sliding out of reach. I was trying to tell them, but no one could hear me; I could not even hear myself. Why can’t these people see there is a baby? A living baby, right at their feet? Why does no one stop for this baby, why doesn’t someone pick him up? And I awoke, thinking, “Jesus!”

But what I refer to is not a dream.

Can birds be photographers?

Egg cam belongs in the penguin colony. However, a big caracara bird grabs it and flies away, inadvertently producing the first film taken by a bird of a penguin colony.

Woman confronts abuser and uploads the conversation onto You Tube

You go, girl! The perp was her teacher when the woman was a 12-years-old girl. The perp is now an assistant principal. I wonder how many more will now come forward. These perps never "help" just one or two.

The geopolitics of the Syrian civil war

Tomorrow in the Swiss town of Montreux international diplomats will meet to discuss ending the three year civil war in Syria. The meeting almost didn't happened, because the Syrian rebels objected to the UN inviting Iran to be a participant. Reva Bhalla writes at Stratfor that
there is little incentive for the regime, heavily backed by Iran and Russia, to concede power to its sectarian rivals at the behest of Washington, especially when the United States is already negotiating with Iran.

Moreover, Bhalla writes that
Unlike the Nile Valley, Syria's geography lacks a strong, natural binding element to overcome its internal fissures. An aspiring Syrian state not only needs a coastline to participate in sea trade and guard against sea powers, but also a cohesive hinterland to provide food and security. Syria's rugged geography and patchwork of minority sects have generally been a major hindrance to this imperative.

The demographics of this land have fluctuated greatly, depending on the prevailing power of the time. Christians, mostly Eastern Orthodox, formed the majority in Byzantine Syria. The Muslim conquests that followed led to a more diverse blend of religious sects, including a substantial Shiite population. Over time, a series of Sunni dynasties emanating from Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and Asia Minor made Syria the Sunni-majority region that it is today. While Sunnis came to heavily populate the Arabian Desert and the saddle of land stretching from Damascus to Aleppo, the more protective coastal mountains were meanwhile peppered with a mosaic of minorities. The typically cult-like minorities forged fickle alliances and were always on the lookout for a more distant sea power they could align with to balance against the dominant Sunni forces of the hinterland.

The fate of Lebanon and Syria remain deeply intertwined. In the mid-19th century, a bloody civil war between Druze and Maronites in the densely populated coastal mountains rapidly spread from Mount Lebanon to Damascus. This time around, the current is flowing in reverse, with the civil war in Syria now flooding Lebanon. As the Alawites continue to gain ground in Syria with aid from Iran and Hezbollah, a shadowy amalgam of Sunni jihadists backed by Saudi Arabia will become more active in Lebanon, leading to a steady stream of Sunni-Shiite attacks that will keep Mount Lebanon on edge.

The United States may be leading the ill-fated peace conference to reconstruct Syria, but it doesn't really have any strong interests there. The depravity of the civil war itself compels the United States to show that it is doing something constructive, but Washington's core interest for the region at the moment is to preserve and advance a negotiation with Iran. This goal sits at odds with a publicly stated U.S. goal to ensure al Assad is not part of a Syrian transition, and this point may well be one of many pieces in the developing bargain between Washington and Tehran. However, al Assad holds greater leverage so long as his main patron is in talks with the United States, the only sea power currently capable of projecting significant force in the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt, the Nile Valley power to the south, is wholly ensnared in its own internal problems. So is Turkey, the main power to the north, which is now gripped in a public and vicious power struggle that leaves little room for Turkish adventurism in the Arab world. That leaves Saudi Arabia and Iran as the main regional powers able to directly manipulate the Syrian sectarian battleground. Iran, along with Russia, which shares an interest in preserving relations with the Alawites and thus its access to the Mediterranean, will hold the upper hand in this conflict, but the desert wasteland linking Syria to Mesopotamia is filled with bands of Sunni militants eager for Saudi backing to tie down their sectarian rivals.

And so the fighting will go on. Neither side of the sectarian divide is capable of overwhelming the other on the battlefield and both have regional backers that will fuel the fight. Iran will try to use its relative advantage to draw the Saudi royals into a negotiation, but a deeply unnerved Saudi Arabia will continue to resist as long as Sunni rebels still have enough fight in them to keep going. Fighters on the ground will regularly manipulate appeals for cease-fires spearheaded by largely disinterested outsiders, all while the war spreads deeper into Lebanon. The Syrian state will neither fragment and formalize into sectarian statelets nor reunify into a single nation under a political settlement imposed by a conference in Geneva. A mosaic of clan loyalties and the imperative to keep Damascus linked to its coastline and economic heartland -- no matter what type of regime is in power in Syria -- will hold this seething borderland together, however tenuously.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A total corruption of the justice system

Another whistleblower comes forth. This one claims we are living in a police state. He ought to know, since he was the NSA executive who
created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Bill Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.

Binney says
the government is spying on virtually everything we do.

All of the information gained by the NSA through spying is then shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally “launder” the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges.

Binney says,
This is a total corruption of the justice system not only in our country but around the world.

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding freely given to us

Thanks to Liz Curtis Higgs, who asks us,
What is God asking you to do with his free gift of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding?

The President of the United States cannot remake our society

Did you know that Barack Obama "furtively chews on Nicorette?" Did you know that Michelle Obama is already working on her memoir, which is expected to earn her around twelve million dollars? Did you know that Jimmy Carter is trying to eradicate the Guinea worm in Africa? Did you know that Obama's Secret Service handle is "Renegade?" His favorite alcoholic beverage is the Martini. He is a night owl. He has a "great relationship with Magic Johnson." Those are a few of the things I learned in reading this post by David Remick in the New Yorker.

Of course, Remick portrays the Republicans as
the reactionaries who claim Reagan’s banner display none of his ideological finesse. Rejection is all. Obama can never be opposed vehemently enough.
He completely overlooks Obama's role as a divider, choosing instead to remember Obama's great speeches where he pretended to be a uniter.

Remnick alleges, without citing any factual basis,
The popular opposition to the Administration comes largely from older whites who feel threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized economy and in an increasingly diverse country. Obama’s drop in the polls in 2013 was especially grave among white voters. “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Has Remnick talked to any of these people who are opposed to Obama? There is no sign that he has.

Obama says he pushes federal government power, rather than power to the states, because that is in line with the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Does he not know that it was the Democratic Party that traditionally fought against Civil Rights, while the Republicans were on the side of the Civil Rights Movement? It was Dwight David Eisenhower who sent the troops in to Little Rock. It was Richard Nixon who integrated the public schools. It was Lyndon Baines Johnson who greatly expanded the welfare state and dependency.

Remnick writes,
One of the enduring mysteries of the Obama years is that so many members of the hyper-deluxe economy—corporate C.E.O.s and Wall Street bankers—have abandoned him.
Then, without even acknowledging his blindness, he tells about the 27,000 square foot home Obama goes to in Medina, Washington to fundraise with 70 donors who paid $16,000 apiece to have dinner with Obama!

Remnick says Obama is open-minded and not ideological.
Like a seasoned standup comedian, he has learned that a well-timed heckler can be his ally. It allows him to dramatize his open-mindedness, even his own philosophical ambivalences about a particularly difficult political or moral question.

Unlike Lyndon Johnson or what we have recently been learning about Chris Christie, Obama disdains political hardball, according to Remnick. Obama said this to Remnick about LBJ,
“When he lost that historic majority, and the glow of that landslide victory faded, he had the same problems with Congress that most Presidents at one point or another have.”

On Obama's foreign policy, Remnick writes,
he has extended a hand to traditional enemies, from Iran to Cuba. And he has not hesitated in his public rhetoric to acknowledge, however subtly, the abuses, as well as the triumphs, of American power. He remembers going with his mother to live in Indonesia, in 1967—shortly after a military coup, engineered with American help, led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. This event, and the fact that so few Americans know much about it, made a lasting impression on Obama. He is convinced that an essential component of diplomacy is the public recognition of historical facts—not only the taking of American hostages in Iran, in 1979, but also the American role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, in 1953.

What about Iran? Remnick writes,
the White House is prepared to accept a civilian nuclear capacity in Iran, with strict oversight, while the Israelis and the Gulf states regard any Iranian nuclear technology at all as unacceptable. Obama has told Netanyahu and Republican senators that the absolutist benchmark is not achievable. Members of Obama’s team believe that the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states, who are now allied as never before, want the U.S. to be their proxy in a struggle not merely for de-nuclearization in Iran but for regime change—and that is not on the Administration’s agenda, except, perhaps, as a hope.

Remnick actually believes
Obama has every right to claim a long list of victories since he took office: ending two wars; an economic rescue, no matter how imperfect; strong Supreme Court nominations; a lack of major scandal; essential support for an epochal advance in the civil rights of gays and lesbians; more progressive executive orders on climate change, gun control, and the end of torture; and, yes, health-care reform.

Remnick met several times with Obama and traveled with him on Air Force One. Obama's last words to Remnick were,
The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” He paused yet again, always self-editing. “Not ‘probably,’ ” he said. “It’s definitely a good thing.”

Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf for linking to this article.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

God is with us

Thanks to Leslie Leyland Fields

Ending hate, giving love

Lesley Leyland Fields writes here about forgiving her father.

Bitcoin accepted here

Do you know about the digital currency called Bitcoin? Here are some things you can buy with it.

More revelations about Christie's abuse of power

You thought you had heard the end of abuse of government power by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? Think again! The New York Post has a story today about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, a Christie supporter getting only $200,000 in Sandy recovery funds, when she had asked for $127,000,000. Why? Because she refused to go along with a Rockefeller development project in Hoboken. Two different Christie emissaries pressured her and told her the funds she requested would start flowing if she approved the project.

Do you agree with Joan?

Interview with The Hollywood Reporter, 2013
I’ve learned: When you get older, who cares? I don’t mince words, I don’t hold back. What are you gonna do to me? Fire me? It’s been done. Threaten to commit suicide? Done. Take away my show? Done! Not invite to me to the Vanity Fair party? I’ve never been invited! If I ever saw the invitation, I’d use it as toilet paper. My gardener Jose is invited—he asks me to bring him his sombrero to clean it for him.

I’ve learned to have absolutely no regrets about any jokes I’ve ever done. I got a lot of flack for a joke I made about Heidi Klum and the Nazis (“The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens”), but I never apologized for it. I said Justin Bieber looked like a little lesbian—and I stand by it: he’s the daughter Cher wishes she’d had. You can tune me out, you can click me off, it’s okay. I am not going to bow to political correctness. But you do have to learn, if you want to be a satirist, you can’t be part of the party. Meaning, you can’t go horseback riding with Jackie O in Central Park if you’re going to make a joke about her that night.

Placating his base

Instapundit had the quote of the day yesterday: "Don’t worry. He’ll stop the spying like he closed Gitmo."

"Victim" has some explaining to do

What was Asef Mohamed doing in this water treatment pipe?

“This was a person that purposely climbed a six-foot fence with three or four layers of barbed wire on top.”

Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this article.

"Unmistakeable scent of cover up"

Brit Hume: Obama was told from the outset that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Instead, he sent Susan Rice out to tell a whopper on five Sunday talk shows. We'll never wake up elements of the news media. They have never been interested.