We on the Right may find ourselves tempted at times to look at the failures of Obama’s presidency and think that we’ve won. We may think that we’ve proven, once and for all, that stifling statism and stealth socialism cannot prevail in America.
Have you stopped to think that what we think of as failures may instead be part of a grand radical strategy? Former Florida Congressman Allen West has, and he shared his thoughts on Fox News:
West, a Republican, said he recently reread the Cloward-Piven strategy, proposed by two sociologists and political activists in 1966. The purpose of the strategy, offered to Democrats at the time, was to overload the welfare system so that people could be given “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”
Obama’s economic policies may be intended to do something similar, West hinted during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News Channel’s ”On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“We’re seeing an incredible growth of the welfare nanny state; we’re seeing the poverty rolls explode; we’re seeing the food stamp rolls explode; we’re seeing more dependency on government largesse and programs,” he said. “We’re seeing a desperation and a despondency out there that’s being created by this administration.”
Authors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven proposed a plan to end capitalism quickly by overloading bureaucracy with dependents so that the system would collapse under its own weight.
They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.” Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces for major economic reform at the national level.”
Their strategy involved a radical tactic known as community organizing (sound familiar?) to whip the poor into a frenzy and drive them on to welfare rolls. Voting-rights drives and a push for a “living wage” factored in to the Cloward-Piven strategy as well. Cloward and Piven were also reportedly behind the controversy in the 2000 presidential election.
Does all of this sound far fetched? Bear in mind that, like President Obama, Cloward and Piven were disciples of Saul Alinsky.
I sure hope I’m wrong, but if Obama’s policies thus far are part of a Cloward-Piven styled strategy, 2014 is more crucial than ever in terms of stemming the tide of stealth socialism.
Over the years, I had made halfhearted attempts to lose weight and get in better shape and never seemed to have much luck. I had spent money on fat burners and tried diets that I couldn’t keep. I even joined the new gym in town hoping it would be the answer to all my problems. But on September 13 of last year, I made a commitment. I was going to lose weight no matter what it took, and I set some goals to try to prevent losing weight from becoming another losing battle.
As of last Friday, I’ve lost 25 pounds, reaching my first goal. (I wish I had before-and-after pictures, but I didn’t take one at the beginning.) I managed to lose this weight during a period that included vacation, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, so it wasn’t always easy. I can tell a definite difference in the way I look. My clothes fit better, and I feel great. Several people have asked me what I’ve done, and my answer turns into a long one, because it’s a combination of factors that have helped me.
The caveat to my weight-loss strategy — I refuse to run. My sister and brother-in-law began training around the same time for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and while I’m proud of them for it, running just isn’t my thing. So, here are three actions I’ve taken that have contributed to my weight loss.
My childhood is ruined. Well, not ruined, but I have to admit a little part of me is disappointed at the findings on fruit flavored cereals. The folks at Relevant broke the news:
Your favorite breakfast cereal is nothing but one, big lie. The crushers of childhood dreams over at Foodbeast.com recently conducted a blind taste test to determine if consumers could distinguish the difference between the brightly-colored rings of sweet goodness found in Froot Loops (note: most likely for legal reasons, they can not be referred to as “fruit” loops), and found that each color was actually the same flavor. Not content on just ruining Froot Loops for generations to come, they also used the same methodology to discredit the disguising colors behind Trix and Fruity Pebbles. All of those glorious blues, eye-catching greens and bright-like-the-rising-sun reds are nothing but sugary lies …
My first post for PJ Lifestyle nearly two and a half years ago dealt with the nanny state mentality in the league office of the NFL. Back then, I wrote about the ideas that stem from Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office that don’t always sit well with players and/or fans. This week, in an interview with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Goodell mentioned an idea that is sure to generate controversy: getting rid of the extra point.
“The extra point is almost automatic,” Goodell said. “I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.
Extra points — with a 99.1 percent success rate since 2004 — have become an afterthought. Unless you’re up against Lawrence Taylor in Tecmo Bowl, there’s virtually zero drama attached to the point after.
Goodell has an ally in New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who has argued for abolishing the extra point for years:
I would be in favor of not seeing [extra points] be an over 99 percent conversion rate. It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do… I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.
Now, I know what some football fans are asking: what about two point conversions? Goodell brings them up:
“There’s one proposal in particular that I’ve heard about,” Goodell went on. “It’s automatic that you get seven points when you score a touchdown, but you could potentially go for an eighth point, either by running or passing the ball, so if you fail, you go back to six.”
With a two-point conversion success rate of 47.9%, it’s an interesting perspective. But what do kickers think? My friend Rex Robinson, former New England Patriots (and University of Georgia) kicker, weighed in on Facebook:
I would move the PAT back 10 yards before I eliminated it…it is a gimme play now-a-days.
What do you think? Should the NFL eliminate the extra point attempt? Should teams get a choice of an automatic seven point touchdown or “going for two” and risking losing a point? Should the league make the PAT more challenging? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
Twenty-eight years ago next week, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded a little more than a minute after launch. I’ll never forget that day. I was in 7th grade, and we were out of school because of an extreme cold snap. The Teacher in Space program which put Christa McAuliffe made this launch special. As the day unfolded, we recorded news reports and tributes on the VCR, and my parents still have the tape even though they threw their VCR out years ago. For my generation, the Challenger disaster held the same sort of legendary status as the Kennedy assassination did for my parents – at least until 9/11.
As we get ready to mark another anniversary, new photos of the disaster have emerged from an unlikely source.
Last week, Michael Hindes of West Springfield, Mass., made a timely discovery: Twenty-six previously misplaced photos of the disaster. To his knowledge, the photos had never been published before this past Tuesday.
While searching through the belongings of his grandmother, who had recently passed away, Hindes was looking for photos to display during the memorial service. Lo and behold, an amazing find. “I just happened to get the box with the Challenger pictures at the bottom, which was kind of special for me because I am the biggest NASA fan in the family,” Hindes wrote in the Reddit post where he first displayed the photos.
“As I [went] through them, I’m watching the shuttle go up and up and up,” he told KTAR. “Then I see that iconic cloud.” Hindes said his heart sank when he realized what the photos depicted.
Hindes’ asked his grandfather, who had worked as NASA electrician, about the photos. His grandfather explained that another electrician, one of his coworkers, had taken them and given him a set. Unfortunately, in the three decades that have past, the photographer’s name is, sadly, lost to history.
Honestly, the photos don’t reveal anything more that the hundreds we’ve seen since the day of the explosion, but the sequence shows the explosion unfolding in real time. Hindes has reached out to NASA offering to donate the photos, but he has not heard back from them. You can see the gallery in a slideshow on weather.com.
Just days after Meryl Streep’s brazen attempt to smear the name and legacy of Walt Disney with disinformation, the three time Oscar winner has backup from an unlikely source – Walt’s great niece, Abigail Disney.
That morning, Abigail, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney was Walt’s older brother and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, posted: “I hadn’t heard a word about this Meryl Streep/Walt Disney flap till this morning. Funny how no one mentioned it to me…. Like I was living in some kind of information bubble and nobody wanted to hurt my feelings or something. But if anyone is going to have mixed feelings about a cultural icon, wouldn’t it be a member of the family??? More than anyone else???
“And if you are going to have mixed feelings about a family member (and we all do) take it from me, you really need to be as honest as possible about those feelings, or else you are going to lead yourself into many a blind alley in life!! … Anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C’mon he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay ‘with your own kind’ at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the ‘King of the Jungle’ number wasn’t proof enough!! How much more information do you need? But damn, he was hella good at making films and his work has made billions of people happy. There’s no denying it. So there ya go. Mixed feelings up the wazoo.”
(Let’s face it, nothing lends credibility to your statement quite like the use of hella and wazoo.) But she wasn’t done.
Abigail posted again 10 hours later: “I feel I have to clarify. I LOVED what Meryl Streep said. I know he was a man of his times and I can forgive him, but Saving Mr Banks was a brazen attempt by the company to make a saint out of the man. A devil he was not. Nor an angel. That’s the point and if you read ALL her remarks you’ll know that’s exactly what she was getting at. She said exactly what I said about how in spite of it all, his vision was amazing and he brought joy to so many around the world. So I say Brava Meryl. I don’t believe in bashing for bashing’s sake but whenever we see a misplaced attempt at hagiography we need to speak our minds!”
We’ve all seen the type, or maybe we’ve been it at one time or another. You know the one — the teenager who spends hours in front of video games, seeming to alienate himself from the real world for hours on end. Now imagine if you or your teen lived that lifestyle for many years, refusing all contact with the outside world, dependent on parents for everything. Welcome to the world of the hikikomori.
Over the last couple of decades, a new phenomenon has emerged in Japan — the emergence of the hikikomori (“withdrawn”). Psychiatrist Tamaki Saito discovered the phenomenon in the early 1990s, and he has pioneered treatment of these young men.
[Saito] was struck by the number of parents who sought his help with children who had quit school and hidden themselves away for months and sometimes years at a time. These young people were often from middle-class families, they were almost always male, and the average age for their withdrawal was 15.
It might sound like straightforward teenage laziness. Why not stay in your room while your parents wait on you? But Saito says sufferers are paralyzed by profound social fears.
“They are tormented in the mind,” he says. “They want to go out in the world, they want to make friends or lovers, but they can’t.”
The Japanese government has estimated the number of hikikomori at between 200,000 and 700,000, but Saito believe the number could exceed one million. What makes these teens and young men withdraw from society?
The trigger for a boy retreating to his bedroom might be comparatively slight – poor grades or a broken heart, for example – but the withdrawal itself can become a source of trauma. And powerful social forces can conspire to keep him there.
One such force is sekentei, a person’s reputation in the community and the pressure he or she feels to impress others. The longer hikikomori remain apart from society, the more aware they become of their social failure…
A second social factor is the amae - dependence – that characterizes Japanese family relationships.
Hikikomori are different from another Japanese subgroup — the otaku (“geeks” or “nerds”). Otaku, like many American teens, immerse themselves in video games or cartoons/anime, but they associate with peers outside the home. Hikikomori remain reclusive for months or years.
My first car was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, a semi-automatic in a sort of blue I called “electric powder blue” (clearly not a factory color). It was far from the perfect car – the heat ran constantly, so I had to disconnect it during warmer months and reconnect it when the weather turned cold. The parking brake didn’t work, so I had to carry a chock block with me everywhere I went. When it finally died, it left me stranded on a pretty remote stretch of Highway 78, and I had to hitchhike to the nearest pay phone. But it was a Beetle, and I was proud of that car and look back on it fondly even now.
When Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle in 1997, the company brought out a car that was funky and fun, but it just didn’t exude the same cool as the original Beetle that became an institution. (I honestly thought the car was a bit girly.) The 2011 reintroduction came closer, but it still wasn’t the same.
Now it looks like Volkswagen may be ready to make the Beetle cool again. This week VW has unveiled a concept car they’re calling the “Beetle Dune.”
VW calls the Beetle Dune Concept a “Baja Bug for the 21st century”. Of course, real Baja bugs were heavily modified rear-wheel-drive Type 1 Beetles, fortified for desert racing in Mexico’s Baja California. The front-wheel-drive Dune Concept is an aesthetic statement only, with no desert-strafing aspirations.
The car on the show stand wears a desert-hued paint VW calls Arizona – a yellow-orange metallic – with matte-finished two-part fender cladding on the wheel arches intended to convey a bolder stance than the base Beetle musters. The larger, 19in wheels have increased offset to visually fill the fender openings and push the wheels to the corners of the car, while a custom raised hood and rear spoiler that doubles as a ski rack round out the appearance changes. The Dune does sit two inches higher than the 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line, on which the concept car was based.
Unsurprisingly, VW says the Dune “looks production ready”, since it is basically an appearance package, but the overt hint suggests a production version may come along.
Doesn’t that car just scream “badass”? The Beetle Dune looks muscular, edgy, and much less feminine than the late 90s Beetles, yet it retains that distinctive funkiness that’s always been appealing. This is a new Beetle I could get excited about, and I bet plenty of other Beetle enthusiasts could too.
Bill and Hillary have a notorious reputation for maintaining enemies and holding political and personal grudges. Now, a forthcoming book reports that Hillary Clinton kept a spreadsheet with a list of enemies on it following her loss in the 2008 presidential campaign. HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen is set for release on February 11, and its authors reveal the details of the “hit list” in the book.
The so-called “hit list” reportedly was entered into a Microsoft Excel document at the end of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. In one draft, Democrats in Congress were even given a rating, from 1 to 7, with 7 being the worst.
The list of who’s naughty and who’s nice — in their eyes — was largely based on who endorsed then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, who endorsed Clinton and who sat out the race.
The list was made not just to keep track of those who betrayed the family, but also to keep track of those who did right by them, for the purpose of returning political favors.
An excerpt from the book goes into detail as to who made the list and why:
“We wanted to have a record of who endorsed us and who didn’t,” said a member of Hillary’s campaign team, “and of those who endorsed us, who went the extra mile and who was just kind of there. And of those who didn’t endorse us, those who understandably didn’t endorse us because they are [Congressional Black Caucus] members or Illinois members. And then, of course, those who endorsed him but really should have been with her … that burned her.”
For Hillary, whose loss was not the end of her political career, the spreadsheet was a necessity of modern political warfare, an improvement on what old-school politicians called a favor file. It meant that when asks rolled in, she and Bill would have at their fingertips all the information needed to make a quick decision—including extenuating, mitigating, and amplifying factors—so that friends could be rewarded and enemies punished.
Back in the summer, I wrote about the rumors that Disney has plans in the works for a Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So far, we haven’t seen anything more substantive than those rumors. But since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, fans and theme park experts alike have speculated how the company would fold its new acquisition into the theme parks. Now, rumors have begun to swirl that Disney is planning a rehab of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland influenced by the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.
The typically reliable MiceChat recently offered up a full update on Disneyland’s traffic numbers during the Christmas season (up!) and the park’s plans for the future. For those who like change, there’s apparently good news. Some of it is definitely coming, but it may not happen as quickly or be as drastic as Star Wars fans may have hoped. On the bright side, however, much of it may involve specific details from Episode VII, as the Disneyland crew recently was given a rundown on the plot and new characters that will be introduced to incorporate into their designs.
Apparently, the Tomorrowland remodel has been split into two phases… The first phase will involve relatively simple cosmetic alterations. The Astro Orbitor, [sic] that giant eyesore little kid’s ride pictured above, will be ripped out, along with the deserted track from People Mover. The buildings will also all be redone to look like a giant space port. Then, down the road, phase two will involve scrapping Autopia and replacing it with a speeder bike ride, putting some kind of spaceship walk through on the People Mover track, installing a new Astro Orbitor [sic] closer to Space Mountain and more, all positioned in the backhalf of Tomorrowland.
For Star Wars fans, this rumor (sorry, regardless of the source, it’s still just hearsay) could generate some excitement, and hopefully it will lead to changes at Walt Disney World as well – whether the changes be to Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom or to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Adding a long popular franchise that just happens to be part of the Disney family into the parks is a wise move for both the creatives and the business people.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the comments at the end of the article, where commenters complained that a Star Wars patina is a bad addition to Tomorrowland, since the films take place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Of course, these folks have lost sight of the fact that Tomorrowland at both American parks isn’t exactly futuristic today. Imagineers have given Tomorrowland in both California and Florida – along with portions of Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea – a charming retro-futuristic vibe, influenced by science fiction from Old Hollywood as well as the works of Jules Verne. Art Deco flourishes abound throughout both lands, and other touches show a decided 20th century sense of style. It’s not strictly futuristic, but it is a distinct feel for these lands.
The bottom line is that Disney knows what it’s doing. The success of the Star Tours attraction and the Star Wars Weekends events demonstrate that Disney’s partnership with Lucasfilm paid off handsomely long before Disney bought the studio. I can’t help but believe that adding a bit of Star Wars influence to Tomorrowland (and a Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios – please, please, please) can pay off even more.
Meryl Streep has proven once and for all that she should stick to acting and stay away from speechifying.
This week at the awards for the National Board of Review, the organizers tapped Streep to give an award to Emma Thompson for her portrayal of P. L. Travers in the delightful Saving Mr. Banks. Instead of merely lauding Thompson for her masterful performance, Streep chose to aim daggers at the memory of Walt Disney, whom Tom Hanks portrayed in the film. Streep managed to trot out all the old saws of disinformation against Disney:
Disney’s reputation has long been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism, but Streep focused most of her attention on Disney’s treatment of women, calling the legendary impresario a “gender bigot” and quoting longtime Disney animator Ward Kimball, who said his boss “didn’t trust women or cats.”
Streep also accused Disney of supporting “an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group,” believed to be a reference to the Motion Picture Alliance, and quoted a letter purportedly written by Disney’s company to an aspiring female animator which read, in part “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men.”
Of course the antisemitism charge has been repeated over and over by the Left. In Streep’s case, if she is referring to the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, she is sadly mistaken. That organization consisted of conservatives in Hollywood who were committed to stamping out Communist influence and, well, preserving American ideals.
Of all the food options available at Disney Parks, many guests swear by the Jumbo Turkey Legs. I’ve never had one myself, but according to some guests, the Turkey Legs are a sure bet for a savory treat.
Like other famous Disney Parks snacks – the Dole Whip and the Mickey Ice Cream Bars – the Turkey Legs have spawned a merchandise industry all their own. The Turkey Legs made their debut in the late 1980s and have increased in popularity over the years – so much, in fact, that the New York Times featured the treats in a recent front page article.
Disney parks are about selling memories, and a spokeswoman, Angela Bliss, noted that foods like turkey legs play “an integral part in the storytelling.” For instance, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, they have been sold as “dinosaur bones.”
Disney is also in the business of making money, of course, and a jumbo turkey leg sells for up to $11.79.
Naturally, something that so many guests enjoy is going to generate some controversy. On one side, Disney executives fear that the Jumbo Turkey Legs steer guests away from more healthy snack options. (Because we all spend our vacations seeking out health food.)
Still, some executives at Disney’s corporate offices worry that the craze is starting to obscure their efforts to improve overall food offerings and nudge customers toward healthier items. Of the 12 million children’s meals Disney serves annually, for instance, more than 50 percent now come with milk, juice or water instead of soda. Disney has also sharply reduced salt in its children’s meals.
Each leg is roughly 720 calories with 36 grams of fat, according to a supplier, Yoakum Packing.
On the other hand (or leg, if you prefer), some poultry industry watchdogs and other assorted killjoys have expressed their concern about the sheer size of the Turkey Legs. In a response to the Times piece, Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns wrote:
Why are these Disney theme park turkey legs so big? Turkeys have been artificially bred to grow so large that their legs, big as they are, cannot support their body weight.
The disability of turkeys bred for the meat industry is well documented in the scientific poultry literature.
Clearly Ms. Davis didn’t read the whole article, because if she had, she would have read that the legs come from tom turkeys, which are much larger than the hens we see around our Thanksgiving tables.
Despite the frenzy, it looks like Jumbo Turkey Legs are here to stay at Disney Parks. Any item that sells in the millions (Disney projected that they would sell two million of them in 2013) is bound to withstand controversy.
As much of the nation finds itself gripped by frigid weather, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear of people doing dumb things in the cold. Maddie Gilmartin of East Kingston, NH, discovered firsthand what happens when someone sticks his or her tongue to a flagpole in subfreezing temperatures. Needless to say, it’s a stunt she won’t try again.
“It just kind of popped into my head, hey what would happen if I stuck my tongue to a flag pole. At the moment I was like it will come right off,” Maddie said.
“I’m stuck here in the middle of our yard just trying to get help,” Maddie said.
With her dad snow plowing at the end of the drive way here mom inside, Maddie tried pulling herself free.
“I see her standing at the flag pole her arms are waving and I’m not sure what’s going on until I got closer,” said Shawn Gilmartin, Maddie’s father. “She tried to pull her tongue off of it as soon as it happened and that’s what made it bleed. I had my hands cupped I was blowing, breathing on her lips and tongue.”
“I was just like, did I really just do that to myself, like did I really do just do that?” Maddie said.
Maddie was stuck on the flag pole for a full 15 minutes before being freed and then taken to the ER. Fortunately, she is going to be OK.
Gilmartin admitted she had never seen A Christmas Story, so she didn’t know about the infamous “sinister triple dog dare” scene. Cold compresses and ibuprofen will cure her sore tongue.
Her father is glad she wasn’t hurt worse and that she learned her lesson. What advice does she have for anyone who might be inclined to try a similar stunt?
“Just think before you do something,” Maddie said.
I have a confession to make: I know far too little about the Vietnam War. My dad served in the Air Force in Libya in the mid 60s, so I don’t have any firsthand accounts of what life was like during the war, and I’m aware of enough to know that most of the films and TV specials I’ve seen were produced from a certain point of view. So, when I received the opportunity to review the new novel The Forest of Assassins by my PJM colleague David Forsmark and Dr. Timothy Imholt, I jumped at the chance to learn something new while enjoying a different kind of literary experience.
The year is 1964. The war in Vietnam is in its infancy, and the top secret Navy SEAL program is new enough that hardly anyone serving there has heard of it. Lieutenant Hank Dillon commands a unit of the elite SEALs in a dangerous area known as the “Forest of Assassins.” Dillon and his men trust each other with their lives, and Dillon believes he knows who else he can trust. We follow Dillon and his team from mission to mission, each one with increasing complexity and precision and greater danger. Dillon leads his men admirably and heroically, but inwardly he expresses his fear for their safety and his worry about the future of the Vietnamese people for whom they are fighting.
I know it sounds like a cliche, but as I read The Forest of Assassins, I felt like I was right there in the jungles of Southeast Asia with Dillon and his men. The violence and bloodshed are vivid and memorable, yet rarely gruesome. The authors’ attention to detail adds so much to the story, and their depiction of life in country kept the plot from feeling like battle after battle after battle.
Immigration policy remains a topic for heated debate, but what most people don’t know is that thousands of “unaccompanied alien children” attempt to enter the United States every year. Officials have seen a surge in the number of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally over the past few years. The federal government recently released statistics showing that an increase from an average of 6,775 children intercepted yearly by the Department of Homeland Security prior to 2012 to an astounding 24,668 this year.
Chris Crane, who heads The National ICE Council immigration officer union, said agents are being “overrun” with children crossing the border.
“We can’t keep up with it,” he said.
According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, most of the minors come from Central America — largely Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Some critics of current immigration policy blame the surge in underage aliens on Obama administration policies like 2012′s DREAM Act, which granted asylum to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. Though new immigrants do not fall under such legislation, critics hold that such policies encourage more Mexican and Central American families to send children across the border.
Children who can demonstrate abuse or abandonment can petition for legal status, and non-profit organizations exist to help such minors. But most children wind up in federally-funded child care centers, while federal officials reunite some children with their families – who are also in the country illegally.
Andrew Hanen, a federal judge in Texas, says that the practice of reuniting children happens far too often:
He accused the government of effectively aiding the drug cartels which play a big role in human smuggling rings and claimed the practice is “encouraging” more smuggling.
Hanen wrote that his court is “not blind to the needs of a minor child,” and recognizes the right of prosecutors to use their “discretion” in such cases.
However, he wrote, “those who hear that they should not fear prosecution or deportation will not hesitate, and obviously have not hesitated, to [violate immigration law].”
Regardless of the reason for the influx of children crossing the border, politicians and pundits on both sides of the immigration debate should address the littlest aliens and devise a workable solution for their plight.
On the surface, the Original OKRA Charity Saloon may look like a typical bar, with patrons eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. But the Houston bar is remarkably different in that its owners donate all of its profits to charitable organizations. Every month, four charities compete for the funds, and customers choose the winner.
By the end of the year, Original OKRA Charity Saloon will have donated about $300,000 to a dozen different charities – three times the owners’ expectations.
“It was a good year. It’s pretty amazing,” said Mike Criss, the bar’s general manager. “It’s just the community coming together.”
The charity saloon is one of several bars around the country using that business model as a way to give back. There are similar bars or concepts in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore.
The Oregon Public House, a similar bar in Portland, has also had success — donating more than $15,000 to charities in its first six months of operation.
“I believe in this model, not just for us but for my city, for our state, for our country,” said Ryan Saari, director of The Oregon Public House’s board. “I think there is a lot of good that could be done, stepping outside of the box a little bit in terms of how we support and fund our nonprofits.”
Proceeds from Original OKRA have benefited organizations for the homeless, as well as a group that reaches out to veterans. Owners and customers alike get to see the good they achieve right in their own communities – an idea that may spread to other cities.
Criss and Saari said they believe charity bars will be embraced by other communities. They’ve already received calls from people in Canada, England, France and India interested in the concept.
“We never thought it would be this big, where it is right now,” Criss said. “I’m still amazed.”
Bars that do good for their community? I’m sure plenty of people would drink to that.
This post contains an image from ShutterStock.
On a picture perfect day in April 2010, 20-year-old Air Force veteran C.J. Twomey killed himself after an argument with his mom, Hallie.
Twomey regrets rolling her eyes at her son instead of hugging him as he stormed out of their home after an argument. A few minutes later, C.J. shot himself in his car in front of the home, she said.
C.J., who thrived on adventure like jumping out of airplanes, was upset about not making a special forces team with the Air Force, she said. After being honorably discharged, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, she said. But she never thought he would do what he did that day.
For three years, C.J.’s ashes remained in an urn on a shelf in his parents’ home in Maine, until Hallie devised a unique and touching way to honor her son’s memory.
It started with a simple request on Facebook to help C.J. — who was only 20 when he died — “see the mountains that he never got to climb, see the vast oceans that he would have loved, see tropical beaches and lands far and away.”
The post was shared by nearly 100 of her friends, and soon even strangers started offering to scatter C.J.’s ashes in their hometowns, on family vacations or just somewhere beautiful. She started a separate Facebook page called “Scattering C.J.,” which now has more than 1,000 likes.
As of this writing, the page is up over 2,000 likes. C.J.’s ashes have now traveled across the United States, to Haiti, Jamaica, and India – and someone has offered to scatter some of his ashes on Mount Everest. The response to Hallie Twomey’s quest has caught her by surprise.
“Really, why would a complete stranger want to help us?” she said. “I really think people are doing whatever they can, even if it’s a small thing, to ease our burden or to embrace life.”
“I want to find peace in this. I want to feel better, but my guilt is so intense so I haven’t yet. I don’t know if it will,” she said. “I hope. I just have hope that maybe this will help in some way, because for 3 1/2 years, nothing has.”
Well, here we are at the end of our series exploring Judeo-Christian ideas and themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 album Oceania. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, Throughout this series, we’ve dug into the concepts of the seeker, the sacred Name of God, wisdom, unfaithfulness, hope, unfailing love, repentance, the way, faith, contentment, and the parable of the Lost Son. Last week, we delved into Track 12, “Inkless,” and the notion of being in the presence of God.
This week to close out the series, we’re looking at the album’s 13th and closing cut, “Wildflower.” This song has a subdued, hymnlike quality – vocals and strings dominate, along with a lead guitar line. The image of a wildflower itself conjures up ideas of a certain type of freedom, and the lyrics suggest freedom in their own way as well:
I trim the wick so fine
To carry forth your light
What will leave will leave
Wildflower in the wilderness outside
Take your chance with love and laughter
And every word I write, yeah
Of course, the concept of freedom shows up throughout the Bible. The Old Testament book of Exodus tells how God gave the Israelites literal physical freedom from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Centuries later, God allowed other nations to subdue Israel and take His chosen people into exile as discipline for their disobedience and turning away from Him. However, He released them from exile and paved the way for their return to the land He promised them.
Saving Mr. Banks opens nationwide today, and for the first time Disney has allowed an actor to portray Walt Disney. It’s the role of a lifetime, even for an iconic actor like Tom Hanks, and he told an audience at the Los Angeles Times’ Envelope Screening Series how he landed this plum part:
“I had all these people telling me that I was going to get a call from Bob Iger,” Hanks said. “And then one day the phone rang, and they said, ‘Yes, Bob Iger for Tom Hanks.’ And I said, ‘Yes, speaking. Go ahead and put him on.’ [And they said,] ‘One moment, please.’ ” [Hanks then hummed Iger's hold music: "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."]
After exchanging pleasantries, Hanks said, Iger’s pitch went something like this, taking on a mile-a-minute monotone:
“Oh, great. How are you, how are the kids, how’s lovely Rita? Give her my best, will you? … Hey, listen, Tom: If you could help us out here, we’ve got a tough position here. A movie came in based on Walt Disney — we didn’t develop it — and we feel as though we sort of have to make this thing. We can’t just let it go because somebody else would make it, and then what kind of schmucks are we that somebody else makes a Walt Disney movie? And if we just shut it down, then we’re going to come off as the evil version of Walt Disney, and we certainly don’t want that happening. So we’re in kind of a tough position here; we don’t know what really to do about it. It’s a lovely script, we’re all in favor, but if there’s any way at all you could just come in — it’d be nice if somebody famous played somebody famous. You know how that is. So if you’d take a look at it and just let me know if you’re interested in doing it, I’d really appreciate it.”
Hanks didn’t need much more convincing. “And that’s how I came to play Walt Disney,” he said.
Thousands of people spend their Christmas vacation at Walt Disney World each year. Nearly 40 years ago, one of those vacationers was John Lennon – and that trip included a historic event.
In 1974, John was in the midst of his 14 month separation from Yoko Ono – a period he called his “Lost Weekend” – and he decided on a whim to take son Julian and assistant/girlfriend May Pang to the Magic Kingdom. He booked a room at the Polynesian Village Hotel, now called Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
Meanwhile, in London and New York, attorneys had finally put the finishing touches on the contractual paperwork that would solidify the Beatles’ breakup. The contract was four years in the making, and the other three Beatles were ready to sign.
After years of red tape and millions of dollars spent, the official dissolution papers were drawn up and ready to be signed off on at the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1974. George and Paul had arranged to fly in and be present, while Ringo signed the necessary documents at an earlier time, while still in England.
So as George, Paul, Apple lawyers and business managers grouped around a large table to dissolve the partnership, Ringo was on the phone to confirm that he was alive. Meanwhile, everyone in the room was curious about John’s whereabouts. This seemed especially ironic, given Lennon lived within walking distance of the Plaza Hotel.
The attorneys furiously worked to determine John’s whereabouts. May Pang picks up the story:
On December 29, 1974, the voluminous documents were brought down to John in Florida by one of Apple’s lawyers.
“Take out your camera,” he joked to me. Then he called Harold to go over some final points.
When John hung up the phone, he looked wistfully out the window. I could almost see him replaying the entire Beatles experience in his mind.
He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history by simply scrawling John Lennon at the bottom of the page.
And that’s how Walt Disney World bore witness to rock history.
Last week Fox preempted one of my favorite shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, to show the American Country Awards. About a month before, another favorite show – Nashville, ironically enough – didn’t air because of the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards on ABC. The preemptions made me think that there’s a country music awards show on the air somewhere at any given time.
OK, I may have exaggerated a bit there, but the country music industry does love to give out awards. Looking at the 2013 awards show schedule, we find:
- The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards on April 7 on CBS
- The 2013 CMT Music Awards on June 5 on CMT (of course)
- The 47th Country Music Association (CMA) Awards on November 6 on ABC
- The CMT Artists of the Year 2013
- The 2013 American Country Awards on December 10 on Fox.
Add to that list something called 2013 CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock, which aired in August on ABC, and there are more than enough specials and trophy nights for country music. I’m not alone in thinking that the country music industry has too many awards shows. Writers Jennifer Bowen and Allison Scott made a similar point the night of the CMA Awards:
We could forgive you for not knowing tonight is country music’s “biggest night,” AKA awards night.
Because, didn’t country music’s “biggest night” already happen in April? Or June? Or isn’t it coming up in December? Weren’t the nominees for the “biggest night” released just last week?
Is it the CMA’s? Or the CMT’s? Or the ACM’s? Or the ACA’s?
(We have too many country music awards shows, for real.)
Don’t get me wrong – I like some country music, though I’m not too crazy about what’s popular right now. And I appreciate how the country music industry is just about the only group of folks in the entertainment business promoting traditional American values. I just tend to think that the industry is a bit too self-congratulatory.
What do you think? Are there too many country music awards shows?
On Saturdays in the fall, Chris Conley puts on a uniform and goes into battle, where his legs and arms serve as weapons. The wide receiver at the University of Georgia will finish up his junior season on January 1 at the Gator Bowl, but once the season ends, Conley will don a different uniform and brandish a different type of weapon. He is organizing a light saber duel for friends at UGA to film:
Other than his No. 31 jersey he wears for the Georgia football team, the junior receiver has a Star Wars Jedi costume he will break out on special occasions. Like when he wore it to the Gym Dogs’ meet against Alabama on Feb. 2.
“It was pretty epic,” Conley said. “I was dressed as a Jedi and we had two Storm Troopers.” But he is hoping it’ll come in handy again sometime soon.
Conley is trying to organize lightsaber duels on UGA’s campus with other fellow Star Wars fanatics. His campaign to get production of the fan film going began on Twitter.
“I’ve actually had a lot of response,” Conley said. “A lot of people really want to do this. It’s something I’m kind of spearheading. It’s been a goal of mine before I graduate. This is just for me, just for fun. All of the people who are involved like that sort of thing and we accept our nerdiness.”
Conley began tapping into all of his possible resources. He recruited a Georgia football videographer — Frank Martin, who has overseen the production of the Bulldogs’ pregame hype videos, such as A Letter for Larry and Awaken The Nation — has been out shopping for props to build lightsabers and has continued to build his production team.
Conley doesn’t yet have a timeline for his project, but he and Martin are scouting locations, designing props, and recruiting participants.
The Bulldog star admits to being a fan of the Star Wars franchise since he was a kid – along with the rest of his family – and he freely admits his geekdom:
“My brother and I got into the games and into the some of the Star Wars history outside of the movies and I’ve just been a fan of it ever since,” Conley said. “I’ve been a big guy who prides myself on remaining who I am regardless of who I’m around or how old I get. It’s something that I like and regardless of what people tell me, if it’s frowned upon or not. It’s me.”
Here we are in Week 12 of my series exploring Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ album Oceania. Over the last 11 weeks we’ve explored the concepts of the seeker, the sacred Name of God, wisdom, unfaithfulness, hope, unfailing love, repentance, the way, faith, and contentment. Last week we looked at Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son in Track 9, “Pale Horse.”
Track 12, “Inkless,” is the shortest song on the album, and it is the one that sounds most like the Smashing Pumpkin’s 1990s output. The title conjures up images of a blank page with plenty of possibilities – or, to better suit our purposes, “Inkless” sounds like a description of someone whose sins have been washed away by a sacrifice. Some of the lyrics suggest a journey with God:
The stars are out for us
And what you feel for me rides beside you
Just take me home, take me home
But drive me home the right way
We’ll uncover there’s no other faith but us
A faith in love unseen
Trace the face of love unseen
Don’t shadow up what we mean
Uncover what were meant to be
And come unlace your light
The stars are out tonight
Throughout the Bible, we read about different people who experienced God’s presence directly. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve encountered God directly in the Garden of Eden, but their sin drove God to separate mankind from his perfect presence. In Exodus 33, Moses had direct conversations in God’s presence:
8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Cade Foster had a rough night on November 30. The place kicker for the Alabama Crimson Tide missed two field goals in their game against in-state rival Auburn, while the Tigers blocked another of Foster’s kicks. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis actually returned the last missed field goal 109 yards for a fluke, game-winning touchdown.
Some Alabama fans displayed a complete lack of class, sending hateful tweets and even death threats to the senior kicker. However, just a few days after the game, Foster received a letter of encouragement from someone unexpected:
Now he has the support of a former president.
Foster showed off this note from George W. Bush on his Instagram account Wednesday.
The note says: “Dear Cade (#43), Life has its setbacks. I know! However you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best- Sincerely- another 43 George Bush.”
Foster said he will definitely frame this keepsake.
If a surprise letter from a former president (and true class act) doesn’t lift Foster’s spirits, nothing will.