Recently, my wife approached me with the unwelcome news that our health insurance plan — which we like — will likely be cancelled next year. Her employer, a healthcare provider, generously provides benefits even for those working part-time. Due to the devastation wrecked upon the industry by Obamacare, they anticipate the need to drop coverage for all employees working less than 60 hours per pay period. My wife works 56. Since my employer’s offering proves virtually worthless, far too expensive for far too little coverage, we will be left effectively uninsured.
We may consider Samaritan Ministries as an alternative to insurance. Resembling the mutual aid societies which were common throughout America before the rise of the welfare state, Samaritan Ministries operates as a “health care sharing” service. Here’s how it works:
Each member commits to sending a set “Share” amount each month. These “Shares” are sent directly through the mail from one household to another, to the members with “Needs”. Samaritan Ministries uses a database that randomly matches Shares to Needs, so that the Sharing is coordinated and Shares go to the appropriate members with Needs.
Born to a world dominated by employee-provided health insurance, we may find the notion of health care sharing bizarre or even suspect. But is it really any more odd than our rapidly corrupting government?
It’s with some irony that a Christian ministry has essentially gone Galt. While Ayn Rand may have balked at the religious context in which Samaritan Ministries operates, she also may have tipped her hat at their defiance of convention.
The service “even satisfies the Federal health care law’s (Affordable Care Act) requirement that you have insurance or pay a penalty-tax (see 26 United States Code Section 5000A, (d), (2), (B)).”
Would you consider a health care sharing service like Samaritan Ministries? How might the business model be applied to other needs?
Will the Justice League film be able to compete with The Avengers? That was the tagline for this post, inviting readers and contributors to debate whether DC or Marvel has created the more compelling fictional universe. The formally proposed question was:
Who will ultimately triumph in the superhero battles to define the genre? Does Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men set the standard? Or does DC with Batman and Superman provide a better model for aspiring comic and superhero creators?
As a lifelong rabid fan of both Superman and Batman, I want those properties to succeed. However, if I am going to be objective about it, I have to concede that Marvel not only will win the battle to define the comic book film genre – they already have.
Some say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If we make our assessment based upon who imitates who, then Marvel leads the day. DC seeks desperately to clone the achievements of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. It can be seen in the rush to cram as many characters as possible into the forthcoming Batman vs. Superman, ramping up quickly toward the debut of the Justice League. Would DC be so eager were it not for the massive success of The Avengers? In a business where there’s one Deep Impact for every Armageddon, probably not.
This modern relationship is ironic considering that DC predates Marvel and retains the oldest characters with some of the most tried and true narrative conventions. Spider-Man creator Stan Lee has confessed that he was inspired by Superman. But today, the Man of Steel seems to follow where Lee’s creations lead.
A decent popcorn flick, Man of Steel was certainly the most entertaining Superman film in decades. But that’s not saying much. Once the comic book king of the silver screen, Superman graces scant few films on any “best of” list. Batman has fared much better, but has remained largely sequestered from other heroes. Particularly in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Batman works because he could be anybody.
What is Gotham anyway? That’s been the question surrounding the upcoming FOX series set in Batman’s hometown.
Early reports indicated the show might be a police procedural centered on the exploits of police detective and future commissioner Jim Gordon. Then came news that producers had secured the rights to the entire rogues gallery of Batman villains, everyone from Catwoman to the Penguin. Those latter reports fueled concern that Gotham may be going for a Smallville vibe where all these characters somehow know each other as kids and attend the same high school.
Now we get an “extended” trailer for the show, our first look at what we will actually get come this fall. At first glance, the producers seem to be threading the needle between a hard-nosed cop drama and comic-flavored tween soap opera. Indeed, there will be an adolescent Bruce Wayne, a teenage Catwoman, and a young adult Penguin. The future Riddler and Poison Ivy also appear in a roll call. But the focus seems to remain on Jim Gordon and his introduction to the festering corruption of Gotham City.
One thing the trailer doesn’t make clear is whether or not all these characters will necessarily interact. It may prove better if most of them do not, and we get parallel narratives showing diverse experiences of the city. Given the age range of the rogues gallery, that at least seems plausible.
What say you? Will you give Gotham a chance? How will this series fit with the new DC cinematic universe?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Pastor Kevin Erickson of Crosshill Community Church in Virgina, MN joins the program to recap his keynote address to a Republican Liberty Caucus state convention. How should Christians approach political activism?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: In this “best of” episode, first published 12/12/13, Tea Party coordinator Jake Duesenberg gives an unconventional answer to what motivates his activism. He’s doing it for himself. How you still benefit.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Walter’s reaction to learning that his family will lose their healthcare plan next year. Whose equality is served by depriving middle class children of their healthcare plan?
Editor’s Note: I’ve written about what a big influence Dennis Prager has been on me and PJ Lifestyle. I have his show on the radio most mornings while editing and his approach emphasizing the importance of talking about issues well beyond politics including pop culture, religion, male-female relationships, and the big questions of life has influenced the scope of subjects covered at PJ Lifestyle, infusing a diverse range of perspectives. The Prager blend of high-minded, challenging subject matter is only half of the formula. His warm, inviting personality and straight forward presentation make important issues accessible. His show, books, and nonprofit Prager University each model important aspects of what activists and cultural creators should be doing to try and restore this country. Especially important: reach out beyond the conservative choir to people who don’t agree with you. Reframe and recreate arguments in new ways and get beyond just politics — the issues lie much deeper than ideology.
Walter Hudson is a gifted writer-activist I’ve gotten to know the past few years whose work reinvents this inspirational approach for the new media era. In both writing and in his podcast Walter uses culture and creativity to transcend the typical Left vs Right boilerplate arguments. He’s fun to read and listen to and offers fresh arguments with wit and warmth.
Check out Walter Hudson’s podcast Monday-Friday here at PJ Lifestyle and stop by on weekends to get caught up on any you may have missed. Each Saturday we’ll expand this compilation updating it with the newest episodes. In this week’s installment I’ve decided to expand it to include links to some of his articles too, both recent commentaries and his first greatest hits collection published last weekend.
What would you like to hear Walter discuss in future podcasts? Do you have any challenges to his ideas? Please leave you suggestions in the comments. -Dave Swindle
5 Compelling Cultural Commentaries From the Past Few Weeks:
20 Podcasts on Culture, Religion, Values, and Tea Party Activism
10 of Walter Hudson’s Greatest Hits:
1. March 2, 2012:
2. May 9, 2013:
3. April 18, 2013:
4. July 17, 2012:
5. July 6, 2013:
6. July 13, 2013:
7. January 29, 2013:
8. January 31, 2012
9. September 2, 2013:
10. March 7, 2013:
Listen to Part I here.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Continuing discussion with constitutional scholar Dave Benner on the temptations and hazards of the National Popular Vote state compact.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Constitutional scholar Dave Benner joins the show to discuss a compact making its way through state legislatures which would effectively nullify the Electoral College.
We might be witnessing one of the most clever viral marketing schemes of all time. Could there be method behind the madness surrounding the casting of Star Wars Episode VII?
Lucasfilm, now a subsidiary of Disney, dropped their big casting announcement on Tuesday. Along with “the Big Three” of the original trilogy – Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford – the cast of new characters included several men and only one woman, the virtually unknown Daisy Ridley. By Wednesday, Movieplot was reporting on a wave of anti-patriarchal indignation rolling across social media. A sample:
Eliza Thompson at Cosmopolitan wrote:
There is absolutely no reason why there can’t be new characters added to account for the lack of women in the original trilogy and the newer trilogy.
Annalee Newitz at IO9 quite elegantly wrote:
Myths are powerful things, because we learn who we are by telling stories. When are we going to let little girls and kids of diverse races have fantasies as powerful as those given to white boys?
Here’s the rub. Wednesday also saw a second announcement from Lucasfilm indicating that a second female cast member was yet to be revealed. This proves noteworthy not just in light of the backlash over too few women in the cast, but because previous casting rumors indicated a very different direction than Daisy Ridley. The Huffington Post expounds:
Daisy Ridley appears to have nabbed the role that at one point had Lupita Nyong’o in talks with director J.J. Abrams, as she and Carrie Fisher are the only actresses announced for the movie. More recently, British newcomer Maisie Richardson-Sellers was also reportedly tied to the part, which was described as a “young black or mixed-race woman who may be a descendent of Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi.”
What if HuffPo has it wrong? What if the role Ridley secured was different than the one Nyong’o and Richardson-Sellers were considered for? With “Star Wars Day” approaching on May 4th, are we about to see confirmation of a young black woman in the next Star Wars?
If so, this could be one of the most brilliant viral marketing moves seen in a while. It would have been preconceived to exploit the knee-jerk reactions of progressive culture warriors. Intentionally release news of a male dominant cast. Get the headlines from the announcement. Foster buzz from social backlash. Then announce a black female cast member days later, on a Sunday no less, and dominate Monday with a fresh set of headlines. If someone’s doing this on purpose, they’re a Jedi master of earned media.
Director J.J. Abrams is well known for playing elaborate tricks on fans as part of his marketing of projects. Could he be the force binding this scheme together?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: They haven’t broken any laws. Yet their bank accounts are being closed arbitrarily. Have porn stars become the latest cultural pariahs to be targeted by the Department of Justice for unequal treatment under the law?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Police operating undercover in Madison and Pittsburg fought back against the societal scourge of rides across town. Targeting drivers of the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services, they issued citations during the “sting.” Should individuals need permission from the state to offer their services in trade?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Republicans described as relatively “mainstream and conservative” have ousted liberty activists from state party leadership in Iowa. Has the rebellion been fully routed?
As a black man active in Republican politics, I find it noteworthy that I never feel excluded or stigmatized by other Republicans on account of my race. Race never comes up at a Tea Party meeting, or a Republican political convention, or when socializing with my conservative and libertarian cohort. On the contrary, all my encounters with race-obsessed individuals have been with self-professed liberals who treat me like a freak show exhibit.
Leftists demand an explanation for my politics. How is it possible that a black man could be a Tea Partier? How is it possible that a black man could vote Republican? What’s wrong? What’s the angle? What secret deficiency or corruption explains this oddity? The curiosity is racist in and of itself, because it proceeds from an assumption about how people “like me” ought to think.
Then I see the vile treatment of personages like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In the wake of the court’s recent verdict upholding Michigan voters’ choice to ban state-mandated racial discrimination (euphemistically called affirmative action), Thomas became the target of viciously racist comments from supporters of “progressive” policy.
Most recently, we learn that long-time Democrat Party contributor and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling faces compelling accusations of racism. Prior to TMZ reporting on obtained audio which seems to record Sterling making blatantly racist remarks to his girlfriend, the NBA owner was slated to received a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP in May. Presumably, he would have accepted it eagerly.
How do we reconcile this? Why would a racist who doesn’t want his girlfriend publicly associating with black men support a political party which claims to represent the best interests of black people? How can a racist be seen by the NAACP to merit recognition for a lifetime of philanthropic achievement?
Psychological projection is “a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.” When I encounter people convinced that blacks labor under the weight of insurmountable racism, I suspect they harbor bigotry of their own. They may not express it quite like Donald Sterling, but their worldview brims with the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Editor’s Note: For years now Walter Hudson has been a perpetual inspiration and a joy to edit. His articles, lists, blog posts, and now podcasts dance across the fault lines of politics, culture, and religion with an always encouraging sense of optimism and clarity. See this compilation today here of his most recent podcasts: Ready For An Argument? 15 of Walter Hudson’s Fightin’ Words Podcasts Not To Miss. Also follow him on Twitter here. For more of of his work check out this collection of PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013, which includes several more Hudson hits. This selection of 10 articles here showcases some of Walter’s most popular and engaging pieces. Please consider adding Walter to your list of #ReadEverythingTheyWrite writers. He’s been on mine for some time now…
- Dave Swindle
1. March 2, 2012:
2. May 9, 2013:
3. April 18, 2013:
4. July 17, 2012:
5. July 6, 2013:
6. July 13, 2013:
7. January 29, 2013:
8. January 31, 2012
9. September 2, 2013:
10. March 7, 2013:
Editor’s Note: Check out Walter Hudson’s podcast Monday-Friday here at PJ Lifestyle and stop by on weekends to get caught up on any you may have missed. Each Saturday we’ll expand this compilation updating it with the newest episodes. What would you like to hear Walter discuss in future podcasts? Please leave you suggestions in the comments.
While growing up, I had the good fortune to live in two consecutive homes that were each a block away from their town’s respective libraries. From fourth grade through junior high, I had easy access to books, tapes, videos, and even video games available for check out. I spent a lot of time in the library, browsing and grazing, checking out volumes piled higher than I could ever read in the time allotted.
Among those many books were the Star Wars novels of Timothy Zahn. Now known as “the Thrawn trilogy,” they began with 1991′s Heir to the Empire. Set several years after Return of the Jedi, the Thrawn trilogy continued the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo as they fought the remnant of a collapsing Empire and confronted a new disturbance in the Force.
Zahn’s novels triggered an explosion of new Star Wars fiction spanning books, comics, video games, and more. In 1996, collaborators went so far as to develop a “movie without the movie” called Shadows of the Empire. The idea was to create merchandise around a story as if promoting a film. There was a Shadows novel, a video game, and even a fully orchestrated soundtrack for a film which was never actually produced. The story connected the events of The Empire Strikes Back with Return of the Jedi.
In later years, the timeline of this Expanded Universe became jam packed with stories detailing the fates of “the Big Three” along with their friends and offspring. Jacen and Jaina Solo, twin children of Han and Leia, joined their brother Anakin and their nephew Ben Skywalker on perilous and transformative adventures which spanned several stories across many mediums.
So when Disney acquired the Star Wars brand in 2012 and announced plans to produce Episodes VII, VIII, and IX set in a time period well covered by the Expanded Universe, obvious questions emerged. How would they work around the existing stories? How would they present the offspring of Luke, Han, and Leia? How would they tell consequential new stories without trampling upon established lore?
Lucasfilm has finally provided an answer, and it comes in the form of a soft-reboot. Precedent can be found (perhaps not coincidentally) in J.J. Abrams previous major sci-fi refurbish – Star Trek.
With Trek, Abrams and his writing team devised a way to have their cake and eat it too. They used the plot devices of time-travel and parallel universes to effectively reset the Star Trek universe, enabling future stories to take creative new directions without adhering religiously to established canon.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: By what magic do actions which would incriminate an individual or private group suddenly become legitimate when performed by government? Taxation. Eminent domain. Mandates. Regulations. What makes any of it okay?
In the above clip, Star Trek superstar William Shatner tells Jesse Ventura that Hilary Clinton could bring people together as president of the United States “so that something could be accomplished.” Shatner claims that the “fundamentalists on both ends are not where it’s at.” Instead, he points to the mushy middle of “compromise,” heralding Clinton as the leader who can get us there.
There’s a reason why the rhetoric of compromise reigns among those favoring increased government control of individual lives. If the goal is to increase control, any compromise between increasing it a lot and not increasing it at all will resolve in increasing it some. If the goal is raising taxes, any compromise between raising them a lot or not raising them at all will result in a raising them some. If the goal is increased spending… you get the point.
Obamacare emerged as a compromise between the “fundamentalist” Left, as Shatner might refer to them, and a conviction against socialized healthcare. Instead of single payer, which the radical Left would have preferred, we got a mixed system of profound cronyism designed to morally and financially bankrupt the healthcare industry as a step toward single payer. Yay for compromise! Funny how one side gets what they want, just to a lesser extent or at a slower rate.
How about it? Is Shatner right? Should compromise for the sake of accomplishing something be our goal? Or have we reached a point beyond which compromise is reasonable?
Side note: how would Kirk vote?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: An interview with Minnesota State House candidate Matthew Kowalski on his unique approach to policy. Instead of an “issues page,” his campaign website highlights “THE issue.” Which overarching concern eclipses all others?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: The Supreme Court recently upheld a Michigan law banning the practice of affirmative action in public universities. The dissenting opinion authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor reveals a twisted worldview which seeks “equal protection” through racial discrimination.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn engaged host Larry King on a recent episode of Politicking, answering questions regarding Obamacare and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Her answers were strong, but missed an opportunity to dispute false premises. Republicans must dare to be truly different.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Presenting to a Tea Party group in Minnesota, Minority Liberty Alliance president Walter Hudson explains why every human being can rightfully claim minority status.
Editor’s Note: A goal for weekends this year has been to start highlighting and promoting some of PJ Lifestyle’s tremendously talented writers. See this collection here of our Top 50 List Articles of 2013 to get a broad overview.
Now we’re going to begin focusing more on individual writers. The first in this series is my friend Walter Hudson, a gifted jack-of-all-trades writer-podcaster-political-activist-culture-warrior who continually challenges and inspires me. I included five of Walter’s list articles in the top 50 list but there are many more pieces of his in other styles and mediums those who are new to his work should read. In addition to these five I’ll select five more that showcase some of his core themes for volume one of his greatest hits collection. But to get started, I invite you to check out these installments of Walter’s addictive podcast that were featured the past two weeks at PJ Lifestyle.
Get caught up each weekend on the podcasts you may have missed as these expanding compilations grow when new episodes are recorded and released. Over the coming weeks Walter is going to continue to build on and explore these and more themes in his own monologues and in dialogues with more guests. If you have any feedback or ideas for subjects you’d like Walter to explore please leave your suggestions in the comments.
- Dave Swindle