As I write this I am perched on the edge of a Christmas “celebration” threatening to become a cross between Christmas with the Cranks and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (complete with a Something-of-the-Month-Club gift for my husband, purchased online tonight due to my procrastination). My in-laws will be arriving in a matter of hours and the turkey is taking a leisurely candlelight bath in the kitchen sink right now because I neglected to take it out of the freezer 3-4 days before Christmas Eve as recommended and it is currently suitable only for bowling. The ham is in another county, caught in an internecine family “misunderstanding” which may result in the turkey flying solo on the big day. The presents are unwrapped, not a single cookie has graced my oven, and I am seriously considering punting on my one contribution to Christmas Day with my own family — the dessert.
In addition to the food and gifts and unsent Christmas cards — okay, no, I did not even purchase cards, let alone address and mail them — and while we are on the subject, I cannot even bear to open another one of those braggy Christmas newsletters to hear about everyone’s perfect life — and now I’ve lost my train of thought. This is what the Christmas “festivities” can do to a person.
As I was saying, add to all of this the heaviness in my heart for friends and family members who are struggling during what should be a joyous time of year — grieving lost loved ones, dealing with parents in the hospital and in nursing homes, struggling with health issues and marital difficulties. And then there is the migraine monster that battles for control of my head and my life. Will this second round of steroids knock out this 2-week cycle?
When my husband walked in the door, sans meat, and announced the ham embargo, I lost it. By lost it I mean I completely checked out. I ran to the pharmacy before it closed and then came home and sat in the car in the cold garage on my own personal pity pot for a very long time. I let calls about tomorrow’s plans go to voice mail and then shut my phone off.
So, Merry Christmas, right?
As I desperately worked on an attitude adjustment tonight, I realized that the problems are not Christmas cookies and syrupy family Christmas letters or even a ham that is MIA.
On Wednesday I wrote about SB 248, an offensively intrusive bill introduced in the Ohio Senate by Senator Capri Cafaro. The bill, named Teddy’s Law for 14-year-old Teddy Tedesco who was brutally tortured and murdered by his mother’s boyfriend, would require all homeschooling families to submit to background checks and interviews with social workers before being permitted to homeschool or enroll in an online school in the state. Parents and children would be separated for interviews and any finding by a social worker that homeschooling was not “in the best interest of the child” would be grounds for denial of the right to homeschool or enroll in an online school.
In a stunning reversal, Cafaro, the bill’s sponsor, announced on Thursday that she intends to withdraw the bill. Declaring that the bill was never meant to provoke a policy debate on homeschooling, Cafaro said,
After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system.
Ohioans for Educational Freedom (OEF), a statewide PAC that supports homeschooling, began telling Ohio homeschoolers and other supporters of freedom in education about the bill at 10:35 p.m. on Monday night. By Thursday afternoon the bill was dead.
The evolution of SB 248 from the time the Ohio education community first learned about it until the moment Cafaro announced she was abandoning it is an excellent example of what the grassroots can accomplish when they speak with one voice and work with laser-like focus on a single issue. Mark Stevenson from OEF reported:
By Tuesday morning, we sent around to all the Facebook home school groups we were in contact with. By Tuesday afternoon, the news had traveled so fast and furious that all the typical e-mail lists were sending out our RED ALERT quicker than we could keep up with.
CHEO [Christian Home Educators of Ohio] put out a thorough Alert of their own and it seemed most of the Ohio home school population became fully aware that this was the biggest encroachment of home schooling rights in Ohio.
By Tuesday afternoon Mike Donnelly from HSLDA [Homeschool Legal Defense Association] put out a statement saying ”This is the biggest over reach I’ve seen in a very long time if ever in the area of imposing regulation on home schoolers.” Later that evening, HSLDA sent out their evening e-mail that announced a headline of ”Worst-Ever Homeschool Law Proposed”. We were receiving intel reports that Cafaro’s office had been overwhelmed and inundated with phone calls all day on Tuesday and it was continuing through Wednesday.
In response to the “indefinite hiatus” of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for his straightforward (if inelegant) comments to GQ expressing his personal belief that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, Democrat Party political pollster Bernard Whitman appeared on Megyn Kelly’s show on Wednesday night. Whitman said, in essence, that Christians no longer have the right to publicly express their views on homosexuality unless they only express agreement with the homosexual lifestyle. Whitman made the following statements:
“He is not entitled to be on TV spouting hate.”
“It’s time that we stop agreeing that religion can be used as a weapon to spew hate and cause people to feel bad about themselves and who they are and who they love.”
“If he wants to go out and have hate speech…if he wants to go out and have hate speech all over America — and hate speech conventions — by God, let him do it, but it shouldn’t have to be in the public square where people have to tune in and see that sort of thing.”
“You can have your private beliefs but they don’t have to be aired on public networks.”
“I think that he can’t hide behind the veil of Christianity or any religion and use that as a weapon to indict people, to condemn people or make them feel ‘less than.’”
“I think it’s a matter of first understanding what the true meaning of spirituality is or Christianity is or Judaism is or Islam is and that is, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ As Pope Francis recently said about gay people, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Clearly, the Duck Dynasty guy, Robertson, is judging. There’s just no place for that in religion, I think.”
I have a few questions for Mr. Whitman and others who want to silence Phil Robertson and millions of other Americans who agree with his sincerely held and constitutionally protected religious beliefs:
Why are you entitled to be on TV spouting hate toward the views of Robertson?
When are you going to stop using your lifestyle as a weapon to spew hatred toward Christians, causing them to “feel bad about themselves and who they are” and the God they love?
What gives you the right to determine that Robertson’s comments are “hate speech” while your accusations of bigotry are not? And if you shouldn’t “have to tune in and see” the sort of thing that Phil Robertson expressed (note: Robertson expressed his views on homosexuality in a magazine article, not on TV), why should Americans who disagree with your lifestyle have to tune in to Megyn Kelly’s show to see the “sort of thing” that they find offensive?
Why should your beliefs alone be represented and permitted on the public airwaves and in the public square while the beliefs of Robertson are silenced? What makes your beliefs superior to or more correct than his?
Why are you permitted to hide behind the veil of “no matter who they love” and use that as a weapon to condemn people and make them feel ‘less than’?
Who are you to judge? What gives you the right to judge Phil Robertson or any other Christian — let alone define and decree what their personal religious beliefs should be. As a self-proclaimed Jew, I don’t think you really have a lot of jurisdiction over Mr. Robertson’s statements of faith and doctrine.
Do you not see that you are guilty of the very accusations you level against Roberson?
If a bill introduced by four Democrats in the Ohio Senate last week becomes law, it would be the most radical homeschooling law in the country, stripping parents of their constitutionally guaranteed right to direct the education of their children and requiring interrogations by social workers before homeschooling is permitted. Home School Legal Defense Association’s Michael Donnelly said SB 248 is “breathtakingly onerous in its scope” and called it the “worst-ever” homeschool law that has been proposed.
Sponsored by Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard), SB 248 — Teddy’s Law — was proffered in reaction to the very tragic death of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco in January 2013. Teddy and his 10-year-old twin brothers were abused by Zaryl Bush for at least five years while the boys’ mother, Shain Widdersheim, stood by and allowed the torture and beatings to continue. Teddy ultimately died from a severe beating by Bush, who was sentenced to 33 years to life for the murder while the mother received a sentence of 15 years for allowing the abuse.
Widdersheim had withdrawn the boys from school — allegedly teaching them at home — after teachers began to suspect abuse. Relatives and neighbors say they reported the abuse to the children services board (CSB) on repeated occasion but were rebuffed. Widdersheim’s sister was one of them. “We called, multiple times we did,” she said, sobbing. “They wouldn’t do anything. They told us we were lying.”
If you have a phone that’s equipped with a camera, you’ve likely noticed how easy it is to lapse into observing life vicariously, through the lenses of our cameras, instead of truly savoring the moment. Afterward, we regret that we were passive observers and we didn’t fully immerse ourselves in the experience. Be honest, who hasn’t let their food get cold while they scrolled through Instagram filters or “staged” the corned beef sandwich in an attempt to share the goodness with friends and family on Facebook? Even if you have decided to eschew participating in this Brave New World of head-nodders milling about, you will find yourself accosted on all sides by serial selfie-snappers at family events, restaurants — even at funerals!
In a new video, Buick teams up with “intertainers” Rhett and Link, asking us to take a step back to evaluate our relationships with our phones through the parody song, Get Off the Phone:
Get off the phone now!
It’s gonna be okay
There’s no need to be afraid.
It doesn’t love you
Its gonna die one day.
The government is probably
Spying on you with it anyway.
Rhett and Link’s song, and the accompanying #IntheMoment campaign, turns the camera lens back on those of us with our heads buried in our smart phones — those of us watching virtual life on four-inch monitors while the real world transpires around us — sometimes without us. In one scene, a young dad is shown missing his son’s first taste of birthday cake as he’s busy Facebooking — about his son’s birthday. This hits a little too close to home for some of us.
There’s something tangentially related to a Buick in the ad/PSA/parody (Rhett and Link drive a Buick Regal in the video), but it’s mostly a secondary, subliminal message. As we continue down this road of smart technology and on to Google glass and whatever the Silicon Valley geniuses think up next, Buick asks us to consider some boundaries going forward. Technology shapes us — the way we work, play, and relate to one another as human beings. It’s important to pause now to consider how our increased dependence on technology wreaks existential changes to our relationships and our daily lives.
Should we dial it back at this point? Is that even possible or have we crossed the technological rubicon from which there is no return?
Chief David Oliver put Brimfield, Ohio — population 3343 — on the map with his epic Facebook rants that have gained national attention. The Brimfield Police Department’s Facebook page currently has more than 93,000 “likes.” The police chief started the Facebook page three years ago, hoping to engage with his tiny community, but his blunt opinions mixed with offbeat humor have resulted in a much wider audience and even a book, No Mopes Allowed (“Mopes” is an old-fashioned cop term for criminal types).
Today, Kanye West became the target of Oliver’s acerbic pronunciations when Chief Oliver reacted to an interview in which Kanye compared his career as a rapper to the perils faced by U.S. soldiers and police officers. Kanye told Saturday Night Online,
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally,” West said to host Garrett, referring to his tour performances of songs during which he stands on top of a moving mountain.
“That mountain goes really, really high,” he continued. “And if I slipped … You never know. And I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like ‘Wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.’”
Chief Oliver put Kanye’s flippant statements in perspective with surgical precision:
Dear Kanye West,
I am honored to be writing such an important star. I am a mere Internet sensation. I’m not sure I am worthy to address you, although the Huffington Post did say I was “Humorous and Insanely Popular.” I don’t pay much attention to those things. Anyway, please excuse my interference in your life for a quick second.
I read your interview and also watched it on video. You said:
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally.….and I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like, wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.”
I want to thank you for putting your life on the line for all of us every day. I know that being a rapper is tough work. I have tried to rap, and it is very difficult to keep up with the pulse of the rhyme flow…although when Ice Ice Baby comes on the radio, I can usually keep up with ol’ Vanilla. Anywho, your job is just some very dangerous work. Most people don’t consider… if you rap really fast, without a chance to inhale, you could pass out and hit your head.
That last paragraph was covered in sarcasm. I’m letting you know, just so you do not think I agree with your very ignorant assessment of your career (or any other performer)as it relates to a person in the military or a police officer’s service. You sir, are as misguided as they come. I do have a suggestion for you. Since you are accustomed to danger, from your life as an international rapper, I am strongly encouraging you immediately abandon you career as a super star and join the military. After joining, I would like you to volunteer to be deployed in Afghanistan or one of the numerous other forward locations where our men an women are currently serving. When the Taliban starts shooting at you, perhaps you could stand up and let the words flow. It could be something like “I’m Kanye West, wearing a flak vest.” I’m sure they would just drop weapons and surrender. You could quite possibly end all wars, just from the enemy being star-struck.
Your line of thinking is part of the problem in the world today….which include entertainers thinking they are something more than just entertainers. I know it is supply and demand and the demand for your services is high. I get economics. What I do not get is you EVER comparing what you do for a living to our heroic military members, who are always in harm’s way… and my brother and sister police officers who have to go to work carrying weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect themselves.
Check yourself, before you wreck yourself….Chief Oliver.
Well done, Chief Oliver. Keep up the good work.
I realize that Melissa Harris-Perry’s little stunt on MSNBC, comparing the word “Obamacare” to the “N” word, was just that — a feeble attempt to get anyone with a pulse to watch her network and click on the website. After all, most of the network’s anchors have been banished to broadcast outer darkness for crimes against human decency and the channel’s longstanding tradition of desperation is quickly devolving into pathological, endless mortification.
But I wonder if there isn’t some merit to the point Harris-Perry was making before she launched into a prurient soliloquy on Obama Her Savior. After all, in any honest word-association test, most rational Americans would think first of words like debacle, disaster, and fraud when confronted with the realities of Obamacare. Aside from the failures of the website, it is an attack on 1/6 of the economy, the results of which we have not yet seen, and it is also in the process of destroying and dismantling the best, most innovative healthcare system the world has ever known. Not only that, it has eroded Americans’ faith in government and attacked the fundamental structures of our constitutional republic, destroying religious liberties in the process. Not to mention the coming Medicaid timebomb. As Harris-Perry said, “The Affordable Care Act will loom large in the president’s legacy as the singular accomplishment of his two terms,” adding that he is “playing to win.”
Harris-Perry said the term Obamacare was meant to “shame and divide and demean.” I say that Obamacare itself shames and divides and demeans. And so I call on the FCC to force all broadcasters to bleep the word Obam#!@$e from now on. No one should be permitted to speak this treasonous word on the airwaves from this day forward. The FCC bans “profane” language between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., defining profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” I’d say that “Obamacare” undoubtedly fits within the boundaries of that definition. We should also vow to stop using Obam#!@$e in its original form in print and online media.
If Ohio Governor Kasich could issue a proclamation banning the letter “M” in the state due to the rivalry between the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines — Kasich noted that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is considering adding wolverines to the threatened species list — the FCC ought to be able to ban the word that is threatening our health care and our very liberty, which amount to far more than a “grossly offensive nuisance.”
The United Nations estimates there are as many as 200 million girls missing from the world today — killed, aborted or abandoned, simply because they are females. India and China alone “eliminate” more girls than are born in the United States every year.
In India, the desire for male children has led to widespread sex-selection abortions targeting females. On average, one girl a minute is aborted in India just because she is female. Infanticide — the murder of baby girls who survive birth — is also widely practiced in some areas. According to The Invisible Girl Project, “Infanticide is so widely practiced in some areas of India, that the mortality rate for girls between the ages of 1-5 is 75% higher than the mortality rate for boys of the same age.” Girls and women also die from neglect, lethal violence, and dowry killings. There are 37 million more men than women in India, a statistic that has contributed to widespread human trafficking; women and girls are regularly sold in India’s brothels.
In China, the country’s one-child policy has led to 18 million more boys than girls under the age of 15. One out of every six girls is lost to gendercide. All Girls Allowed says that, “Gendercide, defined as ‘the systematic extermination of a particular gender,’ has become widespread in China. With the use of illegal ultrasound equipment, couples can determine the sex of their child and choose to abort the female fetus. In other cases, midwives have been reported to deliver “stillborn” girls by strangling the female infant with the umbilical cord as she is delivered.”
New York Times contributor Mai Jian described the brutality of the forced abortions and forced sterilization, particularly in rural villages in China: “Village family-planning officers vigilantly chart the menstrual cycle and pelvic-exam results of every woman of childbearing age in their area. If a woman gets pregnant without permission and is unable to pay the often exorbitant fine for violating the policy, she risks being subjected to a forced abortion.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said that China’s one-child policy “causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth.”
Human rights advocate Markus Redding from Columbia University has called gendercide “our generation’s holocaust — a systematic extermination of millions just because they are females.” He said, “Most people can’t believe it. They can’t believe the numbers. When you talk about a Nazi holocaust occurring right now, people are in denial about it.” Redding said it’s a direct violation of human rights and against international law and we must mobilize the international community to end this abuse of women.
It’s A Girl, a feature-length documentary that focuses on gendercide and forced abortion in India and China, was recently presented to Amnesty International’s film series against gender violence by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. The documentary is part of the group’s “Save a Girl” campaign that includes providing monthly support for women at risk of aborting or abandoning their baby girls and emergency help for women in danger as a result of oppressive coercive family planning policies.
Littlejohn says we must “stop the violence” and end the war on women.
You can watch the trailer for It’s a Girl below:
Kathy Shaidle did a fine job of Raining on the Nelson Mandela Parade in advance back in July, documenting the former South African president’s history of violence and associations with Marxists and communists. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to continue raining down a little more actual history to mix with the messianic fervor continuing to build around Mandela’s legacy:
I tell you, sir, it will not be 40 years from now and people will question your humanity for legalising abortion.
Those were Peter Hammond’s words to Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela during a 1996 meeting at the South African president’s official residence.
Hammond was born in Cape Town and went into Christian ministry after his service in the South African National Defense Force. According to his biography, he launched ”Frontline Fellowship as a mission of Christians from a military background to serve persecuted churches in communist countries” across the South African border. In the years since they have smuggled hundreds of thousands of Bibles and Christian books into Marxist and Muslim countries. “Peter has been ambushed, come under aerial and artillery bombardments, been stabbed, shot at, beaten by mobs, arrested and imprisoned,” as he has taken his Christian faith into hostile territory.
Upon learning that F.W. DeKlerk’s government intended to legalize abortion, Hammond helped to organize African Christian Action, perhaps the first pro-life movement begun before the legalization of abortion in a country. In the spring of 1996 Hammond was leading marches to parliament, some estimated at 30,000 people. In May of 1996 Hammond was summoned to meet President Mandela at his official residence. Hammond gives a stunning account of their meeting:
Here’s the latest chapter in The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.
According to Forward Progressives:
There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t win, cheat like hell” and it’s apparently the motto that the GOP has taken to heart across the country in their latest attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
What does their newest attempt involve? Creating fake websites with misinformation that look like state insurance exchanges in order to confuse consumers trying to find out what their new insurance options are under Obamacare.
Forward Progressives cites three websites recently shut down by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, including kynect101.com, which, according to the Kentucky AG, was “deceptively similar to kynect.ky.gov, Kentucky’s official health insurance exchange website….[S]ome consumers attempting to locate the site through search engines were being deceptively steered to the kynect101.com website instead of kynect.ky.gov, where they were provided false information about their options under the federal Affordable Care Act, including being informed that there were no plans with federal subsidies available to offset a portion of their insurance premiums.”
In a conspiratorial whisper, Forward Progressives blames Republicans. And what passes for proof with this crowd?
“f you were running a sabotage campaign, why not run it in a state with a fully functional health insurance exchange site and (not coincidentally) a GOP Senator who is facing a battle for re-election both from Democrats as well as from within his own party?
So apparently, as this conspiracy theory goes (if I’m following it correctly), because Kentucky is operating one of the only (mostly) functioning state exchanges in the country, Republicans, wishing to protect Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s immense Power to Control Everything have been running around creating bogus websites that would not only give Kentucky residents misinformation about their insurance options under the exchanges, but would also potentially leave their personal data in the hands of hackers. (Which, thank goodness, is totally unlike the actual Democrat-created marketplace website that gives Americans misinformation about their insurance options and leaves their personal data in the hands of hackers.) And Republicans have been doing this “across the country” according to Forward Progressives.
And you thought Bush Derangement Syndrome was bad? Progressives, usually content to wait a few years to start their revisionist history, are now revising on the fly. In their alternative reality, they’ve found a way to blame Republicans for (arguably) the most epic website failure in the history of the internet.
[Note to Sen. McConnell’s campaign: After the site was banned by the Kentucky AG, http://kynect101.com is once again available on Go Daddy for the low, low price of $69.99 plus commission.]
On Wednesday, Piers Morgan continued his anti-gun crusade, interviewing Neil Heslin, whose son Jess Lewis was tragically killed in the Newtown shooting, and also author and Pastor Rick Warren, whose son committed suicide in April after a long struggle with mental illness.
Warren was there, purportedly, to pitch his new book, The Daniel Plan, which focuses on weight loss and healthy eating. However, Morgan couldn’t resist trying to pull Warren, whose son killed himself last April with a gun he purchased on the internet, onto his ban-the-guns-bandwagon, asking him to react to the release of the 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook massacre.
Morgan asked, “We’ve seen so many incidents since then — the naval yard shooting and the Virginia senator, Creigh Deeds, and so on. A lot of incidents come back, it seems, to this lethal cocktail of mental illness and the ready availability of guns. No one seems to be tackling this. How do we get to grips with this?”
Warren, conceding that there are almost as many guns as people in the United states, said he couldn’t foresee a future where guns could be taken from law-abiding citizens. “First of all, the Constitution allows them to have it.” Warren then turned the conversation to the issue of mental illness, saying that we should focus on what we could do to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. “I don’t care whether you’re conservative or you’re liberal or anywhere in between…everyone’s going to agree. Guns do not belong in the hand of mentally ill people,” Warren said.
Undeterred, Morgan tried a second time to enlist Warren in his anti-gun movement:
What does it say, though, that a great country like America, the greatest superpower of the world, that here we are a year after twenty elementary school children were literally blown to pieces in their classrooms, and the president stood there a few days later and literally said, “I will take action,” and here we are a year later and absolutely nothing has been done. Nothing. No background checks brought in. No ban on assault weapons. No ban on high capacity magazines.
“Nobody in Washington has done anything to try and prevent this happening again. What does that tell you about the state of the debate about all this?” Morgan demanded of Warren.
Warren again deflected and for a second time turned the discussion to the problem of mental illness.
One of the casualties of the Common Core standards may be that this generation of children will never learn cursive handwriting because the new standards emphasize keyboard skills and fail to include cursive. Currently, at least 41 states do not require that students learn to read and write in cursive, with many states leaving the decision up to individual school districts. In Ohio, prior to the implementation of the Common Core standards, the state recommended that children learn cursive in grades 3 to 4. Now, it’s optional. Between the emphasis on keyboard skills in the Common Core and the fact that it will not be included in testing (tests are administered via computer), schools are likely to continue to de-emphasize what once was a mandatory skill for all school children.
To be fair, the decline in cursive began before the onset of Common Core. In 2006 only fifteen percent of students taking the SAT wrote their essay answers in cursive and in 2007, ten percent of teachers said their schools no longer taught it.
Proponents of cursive handwriting point to the benefits: improved fine motor skills, development in thinking, language and working memory and increased speed and efficiency. But perhaps the greatest loss will be the ability to read original historical documents. Students who are not taught to read in cursive will miss out on both important documents like the Declaration of Independence and more trivial pieces of the American story, like signed photographs from celebrities.
Below are some examples of what the Common Core generation will miss if we neglect to teach them cursive:
1. The U.S. Declaration of Independence
Though Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration of Independence, master penman Timothy Matlack was recruited to put a feather quill pen to parchment on the original document. In those days, elegant penmanship was a considered a sign of social status and master penmen like Matlack were commissioned to copy important documents like deeds, birth and marriage certificates. Future Americans who visit the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence won’t have the thrill their predecessors experienced of squinting at the faded cursive words and John Hancock’s signature — they’ll have to rely on the printed transcript.
From the recently released report by the Connecticut state attorney’s office in Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
[Nancy Lanza] was concerned about him and said that he hadn’t gone anywhere in three months and would only communicate with her by e-mail, though they were living in the same house. … The mother did the shooter’s laundry on a daily basis as the shooter often changed clothing during the day. She was not allowed in the shooter’s room, however, even to clean. No one was allowed in his room. The shooter disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays. He would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree. The mother explained it by saying that shooter had no emotions or feelings. The mother also got rid of a cat because the shooter did not want it in the house.
When I read this, my first inclination was to think that it was a case of bad parenting — Adam Lanza, who shot and killed twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was obviously a kid in need of discipline. There was clearly a breakdown in the authority structure in the home. My husband and I would not have tolerated our children dictating what we were “allowed” to do in our own home. Indeed, we probably would have had to suppress our laughter if they had ever attempted to launch such a coup d’état. When one of our sons went through a bedroom door-slamming phase, out came the screwdriver and down came the bedroom door until he understood that there would be no door-slamming while he was living under our roof. If one of our kids had ever tried to use the silent treatment as a weapon he would have been met with the loss of privileges and electronics — the car, the computer, the internet, the cell phone.
It seems like these behaviors would be easy enough to solve with a little tough love, right?
Except that Adam Lanza wasn’t like my kids.
Yesterday I missed being crunched in the middle of this sandwich of cars by ten seconds. I was at the front of the line waiting to turn left when the pile-up happened. I glanced into my rearview mirror before making my turn and couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing — a car perched almost vertically atop another. The airbag in the blue car did not engage and although he was able to climb out of it, the driver was extremely disoriented. He kept asking where he was and wondering where he had been heading. I convinced him to hand me his cell phone because his incoherent rambling was surely terrifying his wife on the other end. I explained to her what had happened as paramedics loaded him into the EMS unit. After examining him, the paramedic shouted to his partner that they needed to go — immediately.
Though I wasn’t involved in the accident myself, I realized after I got home that I was feeling a bit shaken by the ordeal. In moments like that, one gets a clear view of how fleeting life is and how quickly it can end. I don’t worry about that — as a Christian, I’m sure that the moment I die I will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). But the accident reminded me how seldom I’m thankful for God’s mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Obviously, I’m very thankful that I wasn’t hurt in the accident. And I’m thankful my son wasn’t injured when his car slid off the road in the snowstorm on Tuesday. And I’m thankful that a dear friend left work to help the coatless boys who had also managed to lock the keys in the car.
But beyond that, I take a lot for granted. Breathing, for example. When I stop to contemplate that my lungs inflate and deflate and do their oxygenating business without me ever having to consciously think about it, I am speechless. They just go in and out and in and out day after day after day, despite the fact that I barely ever think about my breathing. By decree of the God who knows the number of hairs on my head I will draw 17,280 breaths today, even though I rarely ever thank Him for his goodness.
And my hands. I’m staring at them now as I type and I consider my fine motor skills. I can feel my yellow lab’s smooth fur when he puts his head on my lap. They were stiff and freezing at the scene of the accident as the blood vessels constricted so that blood (and oxygen) could be diverted away from my extremities to my vital organs to keep my body alive in case I was stranded out in the frigid weather for an extended period of time. Awesome (awe·some – adjective: causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe).
I think about my sons, those two precious little boys that I rocked and changed and cuddled just a few minutes ago. At least it seems like it was a few minutes ago. Somehow, they’ve grown into these big, hairy men celebrating No Shave November. Somehow, they survived their childhood with imperfect parents and, by God’s grace, avoided most of the mistakes we made when we were their age. What a miracle to watch them growing in their faith, despite the frailties of their parents.
Last week I went through my collection of old 45 records (LMGTFY if you’re under the age of 40) and ended up taking a trip in the Wayback Machine — back to the beloved songs of my childhood in the 1970′s. I wasn’t old enough then to understand the cultural implications of the songs and I was largely sheltered from the tumultuous cultural shifts of that era in my family’s suburban community. Listening to those songs now, knowing the history and the context (and also seeing parallels to today’s cultural conflicts), it’s interesting to see how these battles were both reflected in the music of the time and affected by it.
The year 1972 was a heady time for women’s rights. The first woman was admitted to Dartmouth, the first female FBI agents were hired, Sally Priesand became the first female U.S. rabbi and perhaps most significant, both houses of Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. Opponents of the ERA warned that if it passed, we’d see women in combat, the disappearance of single-sex bathrooms, and women losing custody of their children in divorce cases. (It seems ironic now that all of those warnings have come to fruition, despite the failure of the states to ratify the amendment.)
That same year, the Supreme Court heard Roe v. Wade, which became the law of the land a year later when the Justices of the nation’s high court discovered a previously unknown right to privacy in the Constitution. The ruling effectively invalidated most state and federal laws that placed restrictions on abortion.
Also in 1972, Australian-born singer/songwriter Helen Reddy won the Grammy award for Best Female Performance for her song, “I Am Woman.” In her acceptance speech, Reddy thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.”
Secretar of State Kerry: “We have created the time and the space in order to be able to pursue an agreement that would finish the work that President Obama began on his first day in office…blah, blah, blah…”
I can hardly stand to listen to this.
On Saturday, Kerry — and by extension, our president — shook hands with the leader of the country near the top of the list of the world’s human rights abusers. And Kerry waxed eloquent about “mutual respect.” During the press conference the reporter from Bloomberg News cheerily said, “Congratulations to you and your team.”
Without getting too deeply into the weeds of the deal with Iran, it appears that we are going to hand over billions of dollars to Iran — removing sanctions — because Iran pinky-promised to stop making nukes. Did anyone check to see if Hassan Rouhani had his fingers crossed when he shook hands with Kerry and agreed to “provide the most far-reaching insight and view of Iran’s nuclear program that the international community has ever had.” Fox New’s Judith Miller chirped on Saturday about how wonderful it is that Iran has finally come to the table, saying, “I’m stunned that we got this much!”
President Obama spoke like a man who really, truly believes that the the Iranians are going to let his inspectors come in and snoop around at will, like Michelle ferreting out hamburgers and nachos from the White House pantry.
The problem is that Iran does not have a stellar track record on the “far-reaching insight” front.
A U.N. report published in late October has criticized Iran’s recent human rights record. Compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Islamic Republic, the report focuses on executions and violations of freedom of expression.
The article notes that the UN’s Special Rapporteur had to rely on interviews submitted by human rights groups because “Shaheed has not been allowed to visit Iran since his appointment as Special Rapporteur.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
If Iran has barred a UN human rights inspector from having access to the country, what makes anyone think nuclear inspectors will fare any better? It’s dangerously farcical.
Recently, in response to Martin Bashir’s segment on Sarah Palin, I wrote that the MSNBC host had “taken Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria” and called the attack vile and despicable.
This week, Bashir issued an apology that many found shocking because of its apparent stark sincerity and lack of caveats or blame-shifting. The oft-heard “if I offended anyone” was absent, as Bashir simply said, “I wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘sorry’ to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate nor fair.” He said he was deeply sorry and added, “I deeply regret what I said.”
Whatever you think of Bashir and his often liberal political posturing, this is the blueprint for an excellent apology. When I heard it, my first thought was: “This is how you apologize.”
In many ways this does not seem like the same man who viciously attacked Palin and regularly attacks and mocks conservatives on his show, which is why it caught many off guard and engendred accusations of less-than-honorable motives on Bashir’s part, despite the forthrightness of his apology.
While I will not presume to ascribe motives to Bashir, I would like to add a bit of context that may perhaps shed some light on how it’s both plausible and possible that he may have gone from harsh, ugly vitriol on Friday to humility and repentance just a few days later.
Last night I was searching YouTube for a video of someone interesting reciting the Gettysburg Address to post on a Facebook page I manage. I was hoping to find a recitation done by someone who would be non-controversial and could convey Lincoln’s message without irritating anyone’s sensitive political nerves. (As it turns out, that’s a rather tall order).
I figured YouTube would be overflowing with videos of school children reciting Lincoln’s famous speech, which he delivered 150 years ago today. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for school children to memorize it. I made my kids learn it as part of their homeschooling education and I figured it was still common for children to memorize it. (One son was very glad we did this when he was asked to recite it in a college interview!) Unfortunately — and much to my surprise — there aren’t nearly as many videos of children reciting the Gettysburg Address as I expected to find online. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum made a valiant attempt, creating walk-up videos of people reciting the speech in honor of the 150th anniversary, but sadly, many of the children and adults who participated struggled to even read the cue cards, so unfamiliar were they with Lincoln’s words.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon an absolute gem that restored my faith in Western Civilization (at least for today). The video shows Clara, a 96-year old grandmother and resident of Willow Falls Senior Living Community in Crest Hill, Illinois, reciting the Gettysburg Address from memory. The video’s description simply says:
Clara memorized the Gettysburg address in 7th grade…83 years later she still knows it by heart.
I predict this will be more inspiring than all of the professionally produced Gettysburg Address videos you’ll see today! Maybe it will inspire you to learn it yourself if you don’t already know it and hopefully, you’ll teach it to your children. (Confession: I never memorized the speech until I learned it with my kids.)
Oh, and after a bit of searching, I did find some children reciting the speech. It turns out hundreds of Utah school children memorized the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary. Way to go, Utah!
We know you were surprised when we decided to homeschool your grandchildren. We were the first in the family to ever consider doing something so preposterous and it’s understandable that you would have doubts and suspicions about our ability to educate our children at home, without the help of the government schools. After all, generations of children in our family have attended public schools and they turned out just fine — well for the most part (except for the ones who didn’t). You wonder if we think the education that we received was somehow inferior or harmful. You hear us complaining about the dangers of public schools and you think perhaps we are judging you for the decisions you made as parents. We recognize that you might feel a bit hurt or defensive about our decisions.
Beyond our initial decision to homeschool, you interact with our children and realize that they’re “different.” Perhaps they’re more mature than their peers and they don’t understand current pop culture references. You wonder how they’ll ever make friends or interact in the “real world” if they can’t even name a single Kardashian and they don’t know how to “twerk.” Or you have concerns that they’re not “socialized” because they don’t get to spend six hours a day, five days a week in a school classroom. And what about the prom?
You question whether there is any way we can provide for the academic needs of your grandchildren. How can we possibly duplicate the myriad of experiences our children would receive in the public schools? After all, the schools have millions of dollars to spend on faculty and state-of-the art facilities. We have a 3-bedroom home — and we can barely manage to keep the bathrooms clean! How absurd to think we can provide these kids with a 21st-century education.
We understand that it doesn’t seem right that our 9-year-old isn’t reading yet and the 10-year-old is doing algebra. And how can we manage to educate them when we’re running around town all day or letting the kids run wild in the backyard? Surely, we must be doing something wrong.
Martin Bashir, a soldier in the left’s War on Women, dropped a stink bomb on Sarah Palin at the end of his show on Friday. Bashir took Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria this week when he viciously attacked her for a comment she made at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event last weekend.
During his “Clear the Air” segment, Bashir called Palin America’s “resident dunce,” accusing her of “scraping the barrel of her long-deceased mind, and using her all-time favorite analogy in an attempt to sound intelligent about the national debt.” Calling Palin a “world class idiot” Bashir went further, saying she deserved the same punishment as slaves — specifically, that someone should defecate and urinate in her mouth. Claiming she would be an “outstanding candidate” for such torture, the misogynistic Bashir said Palin is “qualified for a dose of discipline.”
Bashir described the diary of a Jamaican plantation overseer named Thomas Thistlewood, who tortured and brutalized the slaves in his care. “What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime,” Bashir said. “In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’”
“This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity.”
One of the more interesting shows on television is Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown on CNN. Sunday was the season finale, where host Bourdain traveled to Detroit to explore the food and culture. After the episode — “The Last Bite” — Bourdain gathered with friends in a Las Vegas bar to discuss the season, which included a segment filmed in New Mexico that featured “gun culture.” CNN host Don Lemon joined Bourdain, along with Roy Choi (author of L.A. Son) and actor Wendell Pierce.
Bourdain, an avowed “New York lefty,” admitted that he likes guns and expressed his respect for American gun owners:
These people in the segment, as many people in red state America — in gun country America — these are nice people. They like guns. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotta admit, I like guns. I like holding guns. I like shooting guns.
He explained more in a blog post about the New Mexico episode:
In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun—anywhere—is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing. I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where—at end of dinner—Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.
Bourdain described author Roy Choi as a peace-loving leftist, recalling that his family had defended Koreatown during the ‘92 riots with semi-automatic guns and shotguns with no support from the city government or the police. He asked Choi if Americans should be able to get AR-15s easily.
Choi said, “I’m from Los Angeles, so the numbers and the semi-automatics are, for us, it’s more about protection, whether it’s the Korean community or down in the inner cities. It’s really about — the guns are a part of the culture in Los Angeles, whether or not we want to agree with it or not and they — in the Korean community a lot of times they existed in stores. They existed as protection.” Choi said we should be talking about jobs and human rights instead of guns.
Lemon admitted that he had once owned an AR-15. “Listen, similar to you, I did own an AR-15. After covering [the Aurora shooting] I bought an AR-15 in Colorado because I wanted to go through the process of seeing how quickly — took me 20-30 minutes to get an AR-15 and I wasn’t even a resident of Colorado.” Lemon has since sold the gun but said he has “evolved” on his gun stance over the last year. “I don’t want to be a sitting duck. If other people have guns and they’re not going away, I’m wondering, should I be armed myself if everyone on the block is armed and I’m not?”
Bourdain said we shouldn’t compare the United States to Europe or Great Britain and said doing so didn’t help the discourse. “It doesn’t help. We’re not them.”
Lemon agreed, adding that comparing all gun owners to those who shoot up shopping malls isn’t helpful, either. “Those people who you were out shooting with — those were law-abiding citizens who were trained for guns and respect them. They’re not the people going into malls and shooting people. So there are two different ways to look at this. Yes, it’s mental health. But for the most part the people who have guns and who carry AR-15s, most of them are not shooting up people.”
My little brother — they shot him in the chest. His name was Gideon and he died at the age of ten. I saw my father bleeding seriously from the attack. He’s always kind, always telling us to read the Bible and be close to God. And that was the last time I saw him. He is not dead. Definitely one day we are going to meet again.
—Victoria, age 13
That day last year, eighteen people were shot and twelve died when Muslim extremists attacked Deeper Life Church in Gombe, Nigeria, during a church service. The Christian community in Nigeria has been under attack by Boko Haram, which has committed shootings, kidnappings, and bombings of schools and churches. Boko Haram seeks to eradicate Christians in their quest to enforce their strict version of Sharia law on Nigeria.
In September, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a refugee processing center in Norway. “If you don’t return to Islam, we will kill you,” his attackers told him.
Another Afghan Christian, Aman Ali, fled Afghanistan in 2010 after a video of his baptism was leaked to the press. “Someone had reported my activities to the secret police of Afghanistan and they were looking for evidence to arrest me, but I was so careful and had to stop my work,” Aman told International Christian Concern. “After the television showed pictures from a baptism ceremony, the Afghan government started arresting believers from different parts of Kabul… Most Afghan believers were scared… and left the country. So did me and my family.”
Ali and several others fled to India, seeking refugee status with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), but his application for status based on “well-founded fear of persecution by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion” was rejected. Ali said the UNHCR did not view his conversion to Christianity as a legitimate threat to his life. Nearly a dozen other Afghans from the baptism video have been turned down by the UNHCR, including Ratimullah, who said, “I cannot return to my country because I will be arrested and executed by the Afghan government.” Ratimullah wrote in an appeal to the UNHCR, “A definite death is waiting for me in my homeland.” Most are now in hiding, fearing they will be sent back to Afghanistan. Some have fled to other countries, including Turkey, where they languish in refugee camps, often facing persecution from Muslim refugees.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In 2011, at least two Christians in Afghanistan were imprisoned by the Karzai administration, another was brutally beheaded by the Taliban, and nearly all Afghan Christians lived in fear of persecution. There is no evidence to suggest that the situation for Christians is improving, but every indication that it is only getting worse.”
In the Sinai Peninsula, controlled by Egypt, Bedouin Muslims abduct Christians from Africa, holding them in torture camps, demanding that their families pay ransoms of $40,000 to $50,000, which most cannot afford. “They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBNNews. Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians are fleeing their homelands, seeking refuge in Europe and Israel from the kidnappings and brutal torture. “They hang us the way [Jesus] was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours.”
On Friday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno, allegedly in his last season as host of the Tonight Show, has not been known as a particularly partisan entertainer, so it was surprising to see him go “Candy Crowley” on Ted Cruz. You may recall that CNN’s Crowley, who moderated a debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, became part of the debate when she began reciting (false) White House talking points on Benghazi. Some on Twitter compared Leno to a prosecuting attorney as he interrupted Cruz and accused him of everything from shutting down the government to wanting violent psychopaths to have guns.
Cruz, for his part, used the appearance to his advantage, clearly understanding both the venue and the audience. Although Cruz is certainly more than capable of holding his own in a debate with Leno, he chose mostly to keep his powder dry, defying the media-generated image of him as a hostile aggressor. He was relaxed and laid back, despite the tough questioning. It seemed to go over well with the audience, which erupted into cheers after several of Cruz’s points.
It’s interesting to go back and watch Leno’s interview with President Obama from this past August and compare the questions and tone with Leno’s interview with Cruz last night. The most obviously noticeable difference is how often Leno interrupts Cruz compared to Obama. Leno lets the president finish nearly every answer. Even when Obama lapses into “um…uh….uh…,” Leno patiently waits for Obama to continue.
There is a stark contrast in how often Leno uses the pronoun “you” when questioning Cruz. Also, Leno speaks about policies and events as if the president has nothing to do with them.
On the following pages you can read the questions side-by-side. Where a question is preceded by dashes (- – ), it means Leno interrupted the interviewee.
The Rittman Indians have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. A poem read in class by disgruntled Indians football player Nick Andre – an ill-conceived English assignment — lambasted the head coach, his teammates, and the team’s losing record and sloppy play. When the 16-year-old Ohio player was suspended and kicked off the team for what the school principal called “hazing and harassment,” the story went viral, even making the national news. After serving part of his 4-day suspension, Andre was allowed back on the team, but not before the head coach resigned in the wake of the controversy. Suffice it to say that it’s been a bad year for the Indians with little hope of redeeming the season.
But with the help of coaches from the Waynedale Golden Bears and the officials, the Indians season ended on an remarkably positive note on Friday. The Daily Record’s Aaron Dorksen reported:
Coaches on the Rittman and Waynedale sidelines were both thinking the same thing in the final minutes of what would turn out to be a 49-6 Golden Bears’ win Friday: “Let’s let ‘Big Mike’ score a touchdown.”
The players and even game officials all got in on it, too.
So with less than a minute left in the season finale for both teams, the spotlight and the football were given to Rittman senior Michael Halliwell, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder with autism who was seeing his first varsity action of the year on that drive.
For the first few plays, Halliwell had lined up at left tackle and the PA announcer congratulated him for a good block.
Indians coach Lane Knore used his final timeout to set up a handoff from quarterback Matt Evans to Halliwell, who ran it 31 yards with 22 seconds left for the most heart-warming touchdown anyone in Indians Stadium is likely to ever see. A Rittman assistant had run over to Waynedale’s sideline just prior to the play to ask Bears coach Matt Zuercher and his staff if it would be OK, to which Zuercher responded, “We were already thinking the same thing.”
Waynedale’s coaches, including defensive coordinator, Todd Barkan, who is a special education teacher, had taken the players to a local children’s home earlier in the week to perform community service. “We talked about giving back and helping others, but who knew we’d be able to do something like that in our game Friday? It was a special night for our team to be a part of, too,” Coach Zuercher told the Daily Record.
Mike’s father, Allen Halliwell, told the Daily Record that to “Big Mike” the touchdown was real. “He ran as fast as he ever has, all 6-5, 300 pounds of him clutching the ball with two hands until teammates mobbed him in the end zone.” He said the Golden Bears congratulated him as well. ”Mike is proud to be a Rittman Indian,” Allen Halliwell said. “He knows he’s part of something bigger than himself.”
“I finally got to do something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little boy — make a touchdown,” Mike said.
Read the whole story here.