I had a bowl of delicious Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast today, but those two scoops of raisins cost me dearly, thanks in part to a federal price-fixing scheme dating back to the Great Depression. That could all change soon.
Today (4/22), the U.S. Supreme Court is called upon to decide, in Horne v. USDA, whether a farmer’s raisin crop belongs to her, or if the federal government may seize it “for public use without just compensation.”
Constitution geeks (a remnant surely remains of what used to be called simply “American citizens”) will recognize the snippet in quotations drawn from the 5th Amendment, which says, in part:
No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes that according to the Raisin Administrative Committee, created in 1949 under the authority of the 1937 Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, Marvin and Laura Horne, of Fresno, California, must surrender large chunks of their crop to the government each season.
In 2002, their “offering” on the altar of Uncle Sam amounted to 47 percent of their bounty, for which they received less money than it cost to produce the raisins. They refused to submit to what they viewed as a violation of rights ostensibly secured by the 5th Amendment.
The Horne case is one of the most significant property rights cases in years—probably since the Court’s infamous 5-4 ruling in 2005 in Kelo v. New London, which allowed the government to take Susette Kelo’s home so a developer could replace it with condos and stores near a Pfizer Corp. office. The majority Justices in Kelo have a lot to answer for. This is a chance to make partial amends.
– The Wall Street Journal, 4/20/2015
It’s anyone’s guess how the court will rule.
Why should you care? What if the federal government decided to treat smartphones the same way?
For my part, I think I’ll start stockpiling Raisin Bran Crunch.
What are Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most obvious character traits?
If you said humility and willingness to learn rapidly from past mistakes, you’re correct, as we find in Wednesday’s edition of the New York Times. But under the surface one can’t help but hear a tinge of sarcasm, even from the official organ of the DNC.
If [Mrs. Clinton's] latest reinvention seems forced, that could be beside the point. The line between genuine regret and conveying contrition for the purposes of political rehabilitation may be blurred for the Clintons. But the impulse is unmistakable: Do what it takes to correct flaws, real or perceived.
Throughout the Times‘ chronicle of Clinton reinventions, the former and future presidents appear as two pluripotent peas in a pod, glad to morph from legume to squash to pulled pork if needed.
But news analyst Jonathan Martin can’t bring himself to come right out and say that Hillary and Bill Clinton will do anything to seize, and to cling to, power. No principle too precious. No friend too dear. No boot too filthy to lick.
You may have noticed an undercurrent, even in the obsolete media, that despite Barack Obama’s assertion to the contrary, Hillary Clinton is not, in fact, “likeable enough.” But because she’s the only game in town at the moment, the sycophants and hawkers of centralized remote-control government dutifully mouth the rebranding message emanating from the Clinton camp.
She changed her name to help her husband make a comeback in Arkansas. In the Senate, she made nice with Republicans, and even with untouchable House members. She voted to authorize President G.W. Bush’s use of force in Iraq, and co-sponsored a bill to criminalize flag burning. She swallowed her pride to accept Obama’s appointment as secretary of State, and then graciously endured her virtual banishment from American soil as she logged nearly a million flight miles and returned with nothing to show for it (but four flag-draped caskets and the U.S. Benghazi consulate in ashes. Of course, “what difference at this point does it make?”)
Her maiden campaign video is all about YOU, as is her road-trip from New York to Iowa, in what looks like an NSA mobile surveillance unit. She is now of the people, for the people and, for the first time in decades, among the people.
At first glance, the New York Times seems committed to putting democratic lipstick on a self-serving autocratic pig. But a careful reading shows the cosmetic applied rather sloppily — perhaps intentionally so.
In an exclusive to Salon.com, comic Sarah Silverman has apologized — sort of — to former New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin for naming and shaming him in a video meant to advance the cause of equal pay for women.
And while she acknowledges that her story about being cheated out of equal pay had nothing to do with sexism, equal pay or cheating, she indicates that that was not her main mistake.
SILVERMAN: My regret is that I mentioned Al [Martin] by name- it should have been a nameless, faceless anecdote and he has always been lovely to me.
SILVERMAN: This is also HARDLY an example of the wage gap and can only do that very true reality a terrible disservice if I were trying to make it one. When I was interviewed by Levo, they asked me “Do you remember a time you were paid less for the same job” and this story, being just that, popped into my head. To Al, I truly am sorry to bring you into this as you employ women and pay them the same as the men I’m sure.
While she offers this public written online apology to Martin, as of 2:40 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, she had not contacted him personally. But notice that we can be sure the “wage gap” issue is legit, despite her false story, because she calls it a “very true reality.”
But that’s not the end of her story telling. In her public “apology” Silverman offers a new account of that night in 2002. Today (Tuesday), I asked Al Martin about the shifting story. Turns out that Silverman’s new account is no more accurate than her old one, even as details change.
SILVERMAN: I didn’t expect to get paid, that’s not why I was there, but when I got off stage Al, the sweet club owner, paid me 10 bucks and I signed the payment sheet. I was like, oh, nice. I inferred from that that this was a paid spot not a guest spot. Either way I would have been fine.
Martin says he didn’t pay Silverman anything when she got off the stage, as is the custom with guest spots. He gave her $10 cab fare only after she came back inside the club to complain that Todd Barry was paid and she was not. The tale continues…
SILVERMAN: Then when Todd pointed out that he received 60 dollars for the same spot I went back inside and asked Al why Todd got sixty dollars and I got ten. That’s when he certainly could have said “Because it was a guest spot, Sarah. I was just being super nice and gave you ten dollars for cab money.”
Actually, Martin stands behind his original version: He did tell her it was a guest spot when she complained, and then gave her $10, but openly admits he was not “super nice.” He just wanted the conflict to end.
SILVERMAN: But instead, (and I will always remember this exactly how he said it because it was unbelievably hilarious) he said, “Oh- did you want a $60 spot?”
Martin flatly denies this: “I never said the $60 line.”
Despite the inaccuracies, Al Martin said Silverman’s apology is adequate. The married father of three daughters has previously noted that he agrees with the equal pay for women cause and conducts his business accordingly.
One final note of insincerity: Sarah Silverman’s apology comes with this proviso.
To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t. Because that would be super shitty. Feel free to aim your vitriol at me but leave this issue of working women out of it, K?
And that’s the moment where the alleged “apology” turns into an attack against “the maniacs” — Silverman’s term of endearment for those who disagree with her. Despite their anti-woman stand, however, she does ask “the maniacs” nicely: “please don’t.”
To sum up, let’s follow the Leftist logic.
1) Silverman was recruited because her notoriety might help the cause.
2) She fabricated a story to identify with the cause, and ostensibly with its female victims.
3) She is unmasked as a liar, and now wants you to disassociate her from the cause to which her notoriety and personal identification brought more than 166,000 viewers.
4) If you insist on disagreeing with the cause, you’re a “maniac.”
Chris Murphy says he was there on the night that comic Sarah Silverman said she got $10 for the same work for which a male comic earned $60. Murphy says Silverman’s story of sexism, told for a video campaign (see below) that champions equal pay for women, is not accurate. He backs then-New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin’s claim that comics — male or female — who just drop in and ask to do a set, like Silverman did that night in 2002, don’t get paid anything.
Murphy, in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, says even Bill Hicks and Rodney Dangerfield, who were big names back in that day, didn’t expect compensation for guest spots at comedy clubs.
“There has been some He said she said things going on about the night in question between her [Silverman] and Al Martin. I feel I’m qualified to write about it since I was there.
I can confirm Sarah was not booked on the show, because I remember being excited she stopped in. Sarah rarely if ever played The New York Comedy Club. It could be because she was under the impression Al never paid comedians.
I gather this because when she came outside after her set she said, “Wow that was a great crowd. The place is packed. Al should be paying comedians”. The hilarious Todd Barry and I informed her he does. She went inside and asked to be paid. The rest is social media history.” — Chris Murphy on Facebook, April 13, 2015
After writing about Silverman’s comedically sketchy story last week, I reached out to her. She responded with a direct message on Twitter. Silverman said, “What are you fighting for or against exactly. It’s true. He [Al Martin] took advantage of someone he assumed wouldn’t say anything. That’s the point.”
Actually, that’s not the point of the “wage gap” video Silverman made for Levo.com, nor is it the reality of events as we’ve now heard from two other witnesses.
Like many Leftists with a cause, Silverman tries to identify with victims — in this case, women who purportedly get paid less than men for the same work. But even though she went back 13 years to find a personal example, her victim-tale won’t bear scrutiny. She makes it sound like Martin withheld from her the ordinary pay for a comedy set, but ponied up fully for male comic Todd Barry.
Martin maintains that Barry was scheduled for that night, and thus budgeted, but Silverman asked to do a set when she saw the great crowd. When she came back and asked for equal pay because she did the same work as Barry, Martin gave her $10 for cab fare. So, she was actually paid something when the standard expectation for guest spots is $0.
Chris Murphy added…
“I’m not sure why Sarah believed she was taking [sic] advantage of that night because she was a woman. Perhaps she was out of the loop so long she forgot the guest spot policy. Or it could be that in some circles it’s hip to crap on Al Martin.”
If Martin and Murphy are right, then Silverman’s story is not merely a mis-remembering or misunderstanding. She says she went back into the club after learning Barry got paid, and she asked Martin for $60. Silverman says that he sheepishly said, “O, did you want a $60 spot?” — as if he were caught in the act of cheating her, ostensibly because she’s a woman. She calls his behavior “pretty shitty.”
In other words, in the video, Silverman calls out Martin for sex discrimination and deception. I have repeatedly attempted to ask Silverman about these challenges to her narrative, but have heard nothing in response since her direct message on Twitter. At this writing, that video has been viewed more than 162,000 times, but apparently many viewers aren’t buying her story either. Check out the lopsidedly negative thumbs up-to-thumbs down ratio: 379-to-4,828.
If equal pay for women is a real problem, why can’t celebrity Leftists tell a real, true story about it? If there are real victims, these fake stories can do nothing but harm them.
Here’s the script for the “Scott Ott Thought” video above.
SCOTT OTT: I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
I support Hillary Clinton’s latest White House run because we owe her. That’s right, we the People of the United States of America owe Hillary Clinton. Let me explain.
Think about what we’ve done to Hillary over the years.
First of all, Bill Clinton never would have met Monica Lewinsky if it were not for our votes that put him in the White House and thus in a position to be sexually tempted by an intern at the White House, and, therefore, to cause Hillary to throw lamps and obscenities at him. That’s on us.
And Hillary never would have lost those boxes of records from the Rose Law firm about her involvement in the savings and loan failure because of the Whitewater land scandal. Keep in mind: She lost those records in the White House where she would not have been if we had not put her there. Our bad. And she never would have botched the universal healthcare task force if she weren’t appointed to that position of leadership by the President of the United States we elected. And of course, she would never have secretly fired those employees in the White House travel office if she had not been there in the first place.
Remember, when you’re pointing your finger at Hillary, you’ve got three fingers pointing back at you.
It was our elected President Obama that nominated her as Secretary of State and our elected Senate that confirmed that nomination.
Without us, she never would have presented the Russian foreign minister with a “reset” button that said “overcharged” in Russian. And so, it wouldn’t have seemed so ironic when Russia later charged over the border of Ukraine while the Obama administration watched helplessly.
So, now I think you can see how it’s our fault that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was left so vulnerable on the night of September 11, 2012, when four Americans were slaughtered. And how can we escape responsibility for the fact that Hillary later blamed that attack on a satirical video that no one had ever seen?
Can you really, with a straight face, deny complicity in the fact that Hillary destroyed tens of thousands of emails that she kept in her own house on her own email server, erasing public records from her time as Secretary of State? Can you?
I know you’re probably thinking, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
But I, for one, think we’re deeply indebted to Hillary Clinton and as partial payback the least we can do is elect her president in 2016.
Hillary Clinton has endured all of these missteps, lies and scandals, and has virtually no accomplishments to show for her many years of public service. And all of that time, you were the public she was trying to serve. You, my friend! Own it.
It’s time for you to man up, and take responsibility for the damage you’ve done to Hillary Clinton and thus, by extension, to this great country.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
[Scott Ott then sings "Don't Stop (thinking about tomorrow)," made famous by Bill Clinton when he chose the Fleetwood Mac song for the theme of his 1992 campaign. You've never heard it sung like this, accompanied by a list of reasons why we owe Hillary Clinton the presidency.]
Blood Money: CIA Director Reveals Obama-Iran Nuke Deal Is a Bailout, Funding the Slaughter of U.S. Troops
CIA Director John Brennan certainly didn’t mean to say it this way, but he clearly implied that the Obama nuclear deal with Iran will boost funding for the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism — a terror sponsor that was apparently “too big too fail,” so Obama ordered a bailout for the Islamic Republic.
By lifting sanctions, the U.S. kickstarts the failing Iranian economy, and provides blood money to a nation whose shrapnel is embedded in the brains and torsos of innumerable U.S. troops who left their shattered limbs scattered in the desert, a nation whose activity and weapons are the cause on countless American death certificates, and whose armed agents today work to conquer U.S. influence — from Yemen, to Syria and Iraq, to North Africa and beyond.
I deduce this from two Brennan quotes in today’s New York Times – remarks he made Tuesday night at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. First, the CIA chief notes that Iran was on the brink of economic collapse.
“I think over time [Iranian President] Rouhani was able to explain to [Grand Ayatollah] Khamenei just how challenging the economic environment was in Iran right now, and it was destined to go down,” he said. “The only way they were going to address” the problem was to get sanctions lifted.
Then, at the end of the Times story, Brennan acknowledges that since the deal was about nukes and sanctions only, the Islamic Republic is free to continue its vigorous work as state sponsor of terrorism.
Mr. Brennan hinted he had little expectation that the agreement would change Iran’s behavior in the region, including its sponsorship of terrorism. And he acknowledged that the increased revenue Iran would receive as sanctions are lifted could bolster those efforts.
“I don’t think this is going to lead to a light switch and the Iranians are going to become passive, docile,” he said.
So, whether you believe that the aggressive nuclear monitoring and reduction of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,000 will increase or decrease Iran’s “breakout time” to a nuclear weapon, or the likelihood of war with Iran, one thing you can know for sure: Lifting the sanctions will increase cash flow to the Iranian terror network.
American troops — as well as noncombatants — will pay for Obama’s nuclear deal with their flesh, their blood and their lives.
I should have known. Just this morning, I praised lefty standup comic Sarah Silverman for a new video where she encourages underpaid women to “ask for more.” It’s the perfect free-market antidote to perceptions of unequal pay.
In the video, from the Levo League, Silverman tells of a male comic being paid six times what she was on the same night, in the same club, for the same amount of work.
But the comedy club owner who allegedly underpaid Silverman back in 2002 tells a significantly different story about that night. He says Silverman actually got paid a little for what 99% of standup comics do for free.
Here’s the tale as Silverman tells it, in a video from the Levo League (below):
“I was doing stand-up, you know, just around town. And I did a show — I was out with my friend Todd Barry and we were doing sets around town together. And you know I was pretty well known already, and we both did back-to-back 15-minute sets at this club, the New York Comedy Club, and he paid me 10 bucks.
It was a Saturday night. I didn’t think anything of it, you know. And we were outside talking and Todd somehow brought up, you know, mentioned that he got 60 bucks. He just got $60, and I just got $10. We did the exact same time back-to-back in the same show.
And so I went back inside and I asked the owner, Al Martin, and I said “Al, you why did you pay me $10 and you gave Todd Barry $60?” And he, you know, it was so perfect: He goes, “O, did you want a $60 spot.” It was symbolic. I didn’t need $60. But it’s … um … you know, it’s pretty shitty.”
On the phone Tuesday afternoon, Al Martin — who sold the New York Comedy Club about eight months ago, but still owns the Broadway and Greenwich Village Comedy clubs — said he and his wife remember that night about 13 years ago, because it was the start of a longstanding “grudge” he’s heard that Silverman still holds against him.
In Martin’s telling, comedian Todd Barry was booked, in advance, to perform a set that night, for which he would be paid $50. Barry arrived with Sarah Silverman, who Martin knew from their early days doing open-mic standup.
“We have a budget and he [Todd Barry] was included in the deal,” Martin said. “Sarah came in, saw we had a good crowd, and asked to do 10 minutes.”
The common practice in comedy clubs, said Martin, is if you ask to perform, you do it for free. Even big names never expect to get paid for guest spots.
Afterward, Martin said he looked outside: ”I see her [Silverman] outside talking to Todd Barry,” he said.
Martin assumed they were talking about how well they did with the crowd. He was wrong. Silverman came back into the club, and here’s what Martin remembers (written as dialogue so it’s a bit easier to follow.)
SILVERMAN: You didn’t pay me.
MARTIN: Pay you? It was a guest spot.
["So I gave her 10 bucks," Martin said. "I didn’t want to piss her off."]
SILVERMAN: What the f— is this?
MARTIN: What do you mean what the f— is that? It’s cab fare.
SILVERMAN: You paid Todd $50.
MARTIN: Todd had a booked spot.
SILVERMAN: I did the same amount of time he did.
MARTIN: If you did the same time, you went over your time.
“Ever since then she’s had a grudge,” Martin said. “My intention wasn’t to pay her less because she was a woman. My intention was to shut her up so she would come back.”
Martin said Silverman never came back.
“At the time that this even occurred,” he said, “she would not have been on my regular roster of people that I would have booked for a full-paid spot. She was a very different comedian back then.”
However, he added that later, as Silverman’s career took off, he would have booked her.
Martin said that on Monday when he saw the wage gap video, “I was shocked. I don’t get why she took things the whole wrong way. I didn’t think she equated this with a man-woman thing. She comes out with this video and turns it into a whole gender thing. It’s not believable. Everybody knows what the going rate is.”
Martin said he’s married to a woman, has three daughters, and he has hired many female comics at the full-pay rate over his 20+ years in the business.
Coincidentally, just last night his Broadway club served as the venue for an all-female comedy show, produced by a woman, called “Broadly Funny.”
NOTE: I reached out by email, Twitter, Facebook and phone today to Sarah Silverman, the Levo League, and Todd Barry, but have not yet heard from any of them. I’ll update this story if they respond.
Sarah Silverman, the left-wing standup comic, just did a serious video about equal pay for women (see below), and started with a personal story about how a male comic friend played the same club back-to-back with Silverman’s set one night, yet he received six times as much money for the gig as she did.
Sarah, upon learning this, returned to the club and asked the owner why. She asked for more.
What an incredibly beautiful, free-market, capitalistic, meritocratic thing to do. Bravo, Sarah Silverman!
“I think the best person for the job should get jobs. I’m all for women having to work harder to prove themselves at this juncture, if that’s the way it is in the world. But if you work a job and a man is working the same job you should be getting paid the same. I mean there’s lots in variables like, you know, how long you been there — this or that. We’re not…I don’t think anyone’s asking for something that’s more than fair.” — Sarah Silverman, standup comic
Asking: This is exactly what is required to ensure that women get at least equal pay for equal work in those instances where it’s not already happening.
What Silverman describes is a market functioning as it should. Just as every shopper for every product or service seeks to pay the least for the best, so every employer seeks to minimize her expenses, while recruiting and retaining great people. It’s a constant balancing act, with innumerable variables to determine the appropriate price at the moment.
Silverman seems to intuitively understand this. In fact, in the course of her five-minute video, the leftist entertainer never says that the government should mandate that women get equal pay. She says women should ask for more. She then takes it further and suggests that a woman’s own low opinion of herself and of her talents may be the primary restraint upon her paycheck. She uses her own personality as an example, so she’s not slamming anyone.
Most men know that this phenomenon is not unique to one sex. Men often do equal work compared with a colleague or the market, but earn less pay, usually because they fail to ask.
Every once in a while, however, we put our big pants on.
Years ago, I had a part-time job at Wal-Mart and by all accounts, including the manager’s and the assistant managers’, I was doing a great job as a people greeter. When review time came, the assistant manager told me that I was excellent in every way, and that she was awarding me the second-highest pay increase within her authority to confer.
I thanked her, and then asked what I would have to do in order to get the highest pay raise. She seemed flummoxed, and told me that it just didn’t happen. Even she had never received the highest pay raise possible. I suggested that if no one ever gets the highest raise, then it doesn’t really exist. She probably had deserved the highest pay, I said, but a mysterious unspoken tradition had denied it to her. We talked about the importance of rewarding good work, and retaining excellent employees. After a minute or so, she nodded and said she could think of no reason to withhold the best from me, and so, my wage was raised 25 cents to $6.25 per hour. I just asked. I was happy, but she seemed even happier.
(The three percent of Silverman’s video where she diverges from me has to do with abortion — although she never uses the word. Her analogy on that issue misses the mark. It’s worth overlooking that, for now, to praise her overall point.)
If you’re a woman — scratch that — if you’re an employee doing good work that produces excellent results, with an attitude that makes you a joy to customer and colleague alike, then perhaps the only obstacle to larger compensation is that you don’t realize what a treasure you are, and your false humility restrains you from asking.
This conservative writer joins with leftist comic Sarah Silverman to say: “Go ahead. Just ask.”
Students Rally ‘Round High School ‘Girl’ in Revealing Yoga Pants Forced to Change to Conceal Manhood
In what may be the most shocking civil rights violation since Memories Pizza announced it would not do something for gays that it has never been asked to do, a high school student in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, was compelled to change out of yoga pants which the school deemed too revealing.
The student, a physiological male who prefers to be treated as a female, was required to put on a pair of gym shorts and a polo shirt, because the principal apparently determined the clingy yoga pants displayed too vividly the form of “her” male genitalia.
The Emmaus High School principal will meet with students amid an outcry of discrimination that arose after a transgender student was told to change out of yoga pants that administrators felt were inappropriate.
Even the Allentown Morning Call complied with the student’s desire to be identified as a girl despite obvious evidence to the contrary.
The student said the amount of support she’s receiving from her classmates has been overwhelming.“About 30 people, most of them I don’t even know, hugged me today and told me I’m so strong,” the student said. “At one point, I just broke down crying.”
If We Can Cure Poverty, Why Can’t We Put a Man on the Moon? After All, the Government’s in Charge of Both
SCRIPT FOR VIDEO ABOVE
SCOTT OTT: I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
If we can cure poverty, why can’t we put a man on the moon…or land a probe on the surface of Mars?
After all, it’s my understanding, that in the last half-century or so, the U.S. federal government spent less than $900 billion to almost completely eradicate poverty.
Yet in those same 50 years despite spending $22 trillion — more than the cost of all U.S. wars combined — we still haven’t made a moon landing let alone probed the Martian soil.
The federal government was in charge of both of these efforts, so why are the outcomes so starkly different?
Today, cities like Detroit, Michigan offer a glorious tribute to the federal entitlement programs that have lifted the inner cities out of squalor, filled the nation’s universities with urban scholars, and virtually shuttered America’s prisons due to lack of criminals.
But the U.S. space program — during that same period of time, while spending that $22 trillion — has made virtually no measurable signs of progress.
By this time, America should have seen a dozen men walk on the moon, hundreds of astronauts in space, a floating space laboratory in earth orbit, resupplied by dozens of space – O, what do you call them? Let’s say “shuttles” coming in each year to dock with that space laboratory.
We should have been able to ring the planet with satellites, send an unmanned voyager beyond our solar system, or even lift a super-telescope up into orbit so we could look into deep space.
And yes, we should have launched a rocket to Mars and landed a probe right on the Martian surface.
But those kinds of accomplishments, I suppose, will have to remain in the realm of science fiction fantasy.
Meanwhile, the federal government has managed to virtually eliminate the category that used to be know as: “below the poverty level.”
Our once-gloomy and desolate inner-city neighborhoods now bloom with flowers, gleam from paint and elbow grease, bubble over with the joyful sound of children’s laughter, exult in artistic expression, and veritably hum to the music of free-market commerce.
Come one, Washington DC: if we can cure poverty, why can’t we put a man on the moon?
You know, our conquest of poverty happened so long ago now that some younger Americans don’t believe it ever happened.
They look around at all the prosperity and can’t imagine a time when it wasn’t so.
Even if you show them photographs of dingy cities, cluttered with garbage, dotted with prostitutes and drug dealers in housing unfit for human habitation, they think you staged those kinds of photos on some Hollywood backlot.
They simply can’t fathom a time when public officials lined their own pockets, and those of their union cronies, while streets buckled, pipes leaked, garbage drifted, high schools became abortion factories and drug bazaars, while rats and criminals squatted in condemned row homes.
“How could that ever happen in America?,” the kids say. “And if it had, how could the federal government ever put a stop to it?”
“After all, they can’t even put a man on the moon.”
Well, perhaps the federal government is good at doing some things, and not so good at doing others.
I’m Scott Ott, and…
[PAUSES, FINGERTIPS TO EAR] Wait a minute, I’m now being told that I may have reversed some of the numbers I mentioned earlier in the video.
[LISTENING] And…I “may have” “misstated” “some” of the “facts.”
But nevertheless, you get my point.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
The Huffington Post headline screams:
Indiana’s Memories Pizza Reportedly Becomes First
Business To Reject Catering Gay Weddings
Memories Pizza is a nine-year-old shop in downtown Walkerton, Indiana, just a few blocks from John Glenn High School. It’s owned by an openly-Christian couple, the O’Connors, who decorate their shop with mementos of their faith in Christ. So how does a small business in a small town wind up making headlines around the world as the new avatar of Christian bigotry?
Perhaps, you say, they brought this upon themselves, seeking out publicity for their strict biblical views.
Some cursory internet forensics shows how it happened…or rather, how it was made to happen.
ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino’s editor sends her on a half-hour drive southwest of their South Bend studio, to the small town of Walkerton (Pop. ~2,300). According to Alyssa’s own account on Twitter, she “just walked into their shop [Memories Pizza] and asked how they feel” about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Owner Crystal O’Connor says she’s in favor of it, noting that while anyone can eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicts with their biblical beliefs. Alyssa’s tweet mentions that the O’Connors have “never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.”
What we have here is — as we called in journalism school jargon — “no story.” Nothing happened. Nothing was about to happen.
If I were forced to mark out a story line, it would be this: A nice lady in a small town tries to be helpful and polite to a lovely young reporter from “the big city.”
In other words, Memories Pizza didn’t blast out a news release. They didn’t contact the media, nor make a stink on Twitter or Facebook. They didn’t even post a sign in the window rejecting gay-wedding catering jobs. They merely answered questions from a novice reporter who strolled into their restaurant one day – who was sent on a mission by an irresponsible news organization.
Next: ABC-57 anchor Brian Dorman leads the evening newscast dramatically with this:
Only on ABC-57 News tonight. We went into small towns looking for reaction to the Religious Freedom Act. We found one business, just 20 miles away from a welcoming South Bend…with a very different view.
Notice that his city of South Bend is “welcoming,” but that small-town business is not. It’s very different. That’s why ABC-57 “went into small towns,” as if embarking on a safari to aboriginal lands.
“Our Facebook page has been blowing up with comments after we aired that story last night,” said Woods.
At this point, even my old Leftist journalism professors would be grinding their teeth and rending their garments.
You see, not only did ABC-57 manufacture the story with an ambush interview, it then doubled-down by making the reaction to the story into another story to give the sense of momentum, as if it were growing at its own impetus. Yet, everything about it is a fabrication.
Memories Pizza didn’t “publicly vow to reject gay weddings” as HuffPo says it. The O’Connors were just, quite literally, minding their own business.
Back in the ABC-57 studio, Rosie Woods read three negative social media comments attacking the pizza shop owners, and then said, “And that’s just one side of this debate that’s heating up as more people and business owners speak up about the law.”
She then quotes one (1) person, the owner of another business, who agreed with the O’Connors. Seems that “just one side of this debate” deserves more attention than the other.
The unnamed ABC-57 editor then sends another reporter door-to-door on Walkerton’s rather depressed-looking main drag, trying to get reactions from other business people about the pizza shop owners. And the story inexorably snowballs onward, with only man’s yearning for truth to propel it.
All of the blog traffic and social media activity led to about 36,000 Facebook shares at ABC57.com on the original Alyssa Marino story less than 24 hours after it aired.
BuzzFeed posted its own inaccurate headline, with the kicker: ”The Internet has unleashed its wrath.”
All of those eyeballs benefit the TV station, which sells advertising on its website. It also helps several young, minor-market reporters who hustled and stumbled their way into the national spotlight. But don’t blame them. Blame the editor.
Meanwhile, over at Yelp.com, more than a thousand “reviews” of Memories Pizza rapidly accumulated, quickly overwhelming the positive comments from actual customers who like the pizza, the hospitality and the small-town charm. Folks who never heard of Walkerton attacked Crystal O’Connor’s business, her morality and her Lord. Many of the remarks included racially charged descriptions of genitalia and sex acts. “Reviewers” also posted pictures of naked men, of Adolf Hitler shouting “Ich habe ein pizza” (I have a pizza), and of Jesus gesturing with his middle finger. Over on Facebook, the restaurant’s 5-star average rating rapidly plunged to one star, as non-customers slammed away at Crystal’s little business.
In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a manifesto of political power, Rule No. 12 says, in part:
Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
The Left doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as they get what they want. They’re willing — no, they’re eager — to sacrifice a small-town business, and it’s owners.
Lest you think I’m being too dramatic. Late Wednesday, word comes that Jess Dooley, a female coach at Concord High School 45 minutes away in Elkhart, has been suspended after tweeting:
Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?
In news that must have shocked the vast majority of New York Times subscribers, columnist Nicholas Kristof this week divulged that he has seen evangelical Christians doing selfless, crucial service in the world’s most dangerous places among the most desperately poor, even though liberals know evangelicals are religious bumpkins.
Today, among urban Americans and Europeans, “evangelical Christian” is sometimes a synonym for “rube.” In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.
Yet the liberal caricature of evangelicals is incomplete and unfair. I have little in common, politically or theologically, with evangelicals or, while I’m at it, conservative Roman Catholics. But I’ve been truly awed by those I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it, and it is offensive to see good people derided.
Surprisingly, Kristof doesn’t urge readers to develop a more complete and fair caricature of such “rubes,” but actually suggests liberals pause and reflect “the next time you hear someone at a cocktail party mock evangelicals.”
As an evangelical Christian, I don’t get to as many cocktail parties as I used to, and I didn’t realize that folks at such parties mock people like me with enough frequency that a columnist for “the paper of record” feels duty-bound to deal with the subject.
I do, however, spend a lot of time with other Christians, and it is not an extraordinary thing at church to meet folks who have traveled the world on medical missions, provided food and clothing to those in need, or helped in a variety of other personal ways. It’s also not surprising in my church to see married couples who have adopted or foster-parented multiple children whose delightful faces reflect a rich palette of human hues. I know a Christian couple from a tiny midwestern town who had more the 60 foster children over the years. Last I heard, they were living in Oaxaca, Mexico, serving people in the name of Christ. I’ve known Christians who would quietly slip cash into the hand of a needy person at their moment of greatest need, or who would let a stranger use their vehicle or their spare bedroom for as long as necessary — or who would drop everything to drive hundreds of miles to help someone.
When it seemed I didn’t have a friend in the world — but I did have a case of bronchitis that was blooming into pneumonia — a pastor and his wife took me into their home, fed me, did my laundry and nursed me back to health, without being asked and without asking for anything.
As odd as it sounds to me to hear Kristof’s surprise at the love and grace I see around me daily — I don’t want the moment to pass without recognizing Nick for recognizing it.
I must say that a disproportionate share of the aid workers I’ve met in the wildest places over the years, long after anyone sensible had evacuated, have been evangelicals, nuns or priests.
Likewise, religious Americans donate more of their incomes to charity, and volunteer more hours, than the nonreligious, according to polls. In the United States and abroad, the safety net of soup kitchens, food pantries and women’s shelters depends heavily on religious donations and volunteers.
The brothers and sisters in Christ I described above don’t need praise from men, not even from impressive liberal columnists for the New York Times. They hear the applause of heaven, and feel the joy of Jesus as they work in the power of his Spirit.
Nevertheless, I think it’s good for the country, for Times readers and even for Nick, whenever anyone gets a glimpse at the absurdity of his own bigotry.
A pilot I know once told me he tried to pass through security to fly a plane across the ocean forgetting that he had a pen knife in his pocket. The TSA said he couldn’t take the small blade on the plane. The irony was rich, since the pilot would soon have several hundred souls aboard his incendiary-laden missile, the path of which he controlled from inside a locked flight deck.
Every crime show, or terror drama, portrays the villain using the good guy’s reasonable safety protocols to enhance the chance for success of his nefarious plot. But what screenwriters and novelists take as second nature, governments, and many people, have yet to learn.
A predictable safety regimen presents opportunity and simplifies planning for the wicked. A shield becomes a weapon.
So, it’s not surprising that French authorities now believe the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentionally flew his incendiary missile packed with 149 other souls into an Alpine hillside at some 430 miles per hour. . . AFTER electronically barring the safety door, locking the captain out of the flight deck.
The door did its job. It prevented a flight deck breach. All of the engineering worked to prevent access to the most dangerous place on the plane. And thus, the best laid plans of engineers and regulatory officials actually helped the wicked man to carry out his murderous scheme.
The very security device instituted after the 9/11/2001 attacks to deter evil-doers from turning a passenger jet into a weapon became the ideal tool for allowing an evil-doer to do just that.
With the touch of a button — really no effort at all — one person can absolutely foil millions of hours of planning devoted to preventing the very act that he’s determined to commit.
The most effective deadly weapon a man can carry is a non-networked three-pound supercomputer called the human brain. It takes instruction only from an intangible, non-geolocatable command apparatus sometimes called “the heart.”
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick.
Who can understand it?
First Lady Michelle Obama’s playful, cute, “girlie” outfits on her “Let Girls Learn” tour of Asia sparked the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman to reevaluate what she has always believed about empowering women through fashion.
The Obama dresses, for Friedman, conjure the 1950s, bringing the baggage of rigid roles and female subjugation, clashing with the first lady’s mission to promote education and career options for girls.
As a woman, and one who spends a lot of time thinking about the messages women’s clothes send about their identity, I found the apparent clothes/context disjunction to be jarring. Even for a first lady who is known for her affection for a print and a dress, even in countries where color and nature are celebrated.
Shouldn’t she have worn a sharp-shouldered suit to talk about achievement?
But, oddly enough, the fashion expert doesn’t admonish Michelle Obama to pay more attention to visual elements of her message. Instead, Friedman decides that her own long-held convictions must be wrong, and that the first lady is not only right, but she’s on the vanguard of a woman-buttressing fashion revolution.
How do you erase a stereotype? You confront it, and force others to confront their own preconceptions about it, and then you own it. And in doing so you denude it of its power.
In a word, Mrs. Obama has become the avatar of “Girlie Power.”
In the midst of her eureka moment, Friedman delivers a gentle backhand to women who dress the way Friedman always believed they should, before Michelle Obama put on her playful party dress.
We live in the era of the Merkelization of female political dress, which has seen women like Ms. Merkel, the German chancellor, and Hillary Rodham Clinton adopt what is effectively the male uniform in softer, brighter colors to remove the topic from the conversation. (It’s a pantsuit. It’s a beige/orange/teal pantsuit. Enough said.) Another way to explain the strategy is “bore them into talking about the issues.”
But that testosteronian costume now seems so…February 2015.
In choosing to meet young women in clothes that, perhaps, make her look like them — or how they may want to look if they didn’t have to wear school uniforms — Mrs. Obama was implying: You can dress like a girl and dream about getting a Ph.D. (or a law degree, if we are being picayune), too.
Meanwhile, that frumpy drudge, Hillary Clinton, waddles about swaddled in her Maoist conformity to old feminist man-aping tropes.
I would suggest that you picture Hillary in a bright and winsome party skirt, festooned with newly-empowering 1950s patterns, but as you know, what has been seen cannot be unseen.
[Original script may vary slightly from video.]
SCOTT OTT: I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
He was born a slave with no last name, to a woman known only as Jane.
Emancipated when he was nine, he moved to West Virginia and worked at salt furnaces and coal mines.
Between shifts, he taught himself the alphabet, and then how to read. He scrubbed his way through college on his hands and his knees. He started a school for poor, Black people in the deep South, and it grew as he worked it, and prayed it, all out.
He taught them with books and taught them with toil. They built their own college, making bricks from the soil.
Although he died at just 59 he became a friend of presidents, and generals and the wealthiest then alive. Yet, he never forgot the value of working the dirt, and by the virtue of your labor, earning the praise of your neighbor.
He left, in his wake, nearly 5,000 schools, hundreds of teachers’ homes and shops full of tools.
And so, if anyone knows how to navigate in a society plagued with racial hate, it’s this boy with no last name, who grew to be a man of accomplishment, honor and fame.
His step-father’s first name was Washington, and young Booker adopted it as his own.
The man’s last name was Ferguson, but Booker took instead the name of the father of this nation — the former slave boy binding himself forever to the lifelong slave owner.
Somehow through poverty and bigotry, Booker kept his eyes on the future, and drew strength from the past.
He built the schools from sharecroppers nickels and the fat checks of millionaires, from former Confederate warriors, and retired Union officers. He earned trust and love and respect from, and for, all of them.
I just read his book, Up from Slavery. I wish I had read it 40 years ago. I wish my school had taught it.
This is what Booker T. Washington wrote in 1901, after 35 years of living in the post-Civil War South:
If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.
Here’s what Booker T. Washington said about white Southern men:
With God’s help, I believe that I have completely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race…I pity from the bottom of my heart any individual who is so unfortunate as to get into the habit of holding race prejudice.
And here’s what Booker T. Washington said about how to change hearts and minds:
I early learned that it is a hard matter to convert an individual by abusing him...
These United States of America were built by men like Booker T. Washington — at first by their muscles, under compulsion, then later by their minds and hearts, freely given.
His legacy of learning transformed the South. His legendary love, faith and hard work, transformed a nation.
“I have learned,” he said, “that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”
The smoldering ember of our God-given potential should fan into flame at the mere mention of the name: Booker T. Washington.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
Perhaps the biggest, most persistent and successful lie about Barack Obama is that he’s a nice guy who cares.
But the last place one expects to hear this myth eviscerated is the New York Times.
Mr. Obama’s strained association with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, who has clashed with other American presidents as well, has been difficult from the start. But the absence of any real connection between them underscores the rule, not the exception, for Mr. Obama, who has only occasionally invested time in cultivating foreign leaders.
Even his opponent in the last presidential race bought into the lie, choosing to label Obama as nice, but incompetent. Mitt Romney apparently convinced many. Among voters who most valued a candidate who “cares about people like me,” 8-in-10 picked Obama in 2012. Majorities of people who prioritized a candidate who “shares my values,” “is a strong leader,” or “has a vision for the future” all voted for Romney.
If there’s one area of the president’s job where being a “nice guy who cares” matters most, and holds the greatest consequences for failure, it’s international diplomacy. Building trusting relationships with allies requires personal engagement, concern about the needs of others, and genuine warmth. The mythical Obama that we were sold embodies all of these qualities.
But the Times admits that President Obama’s foreign relations display a distinct lack of actual relationships.
It is a cool, businesslike approach, similar to the way Mr. Obama deals with members of Congress, donors and activists at home. But historians and some of the president’s former foreign policy advisers say the distance the president keeps from foreign leaders leaves him without the durable relationships that previous presidents forged to help smooth disagreements and secure reluctant cooperation.
I’ve long argued that Obama’s preeminent personality characteristic is aloofness — a seeming ignorance of social cues, a self-absorption that blinds him to the needs of those who, in his mind, orbit him like the planets the sun. This is why we hear few stories from longtime friends about his warmth and generosity — as we did from many who know Mitt Romney, for example. It’s why Obama seeks fleeting, flattering encounters with celebrities that give him the patina of popularity without the grind of emotional investment.
Politics is, above all, a people business, but Obama has been insulated from the devastating effects of his cold, self-centered nature, by a cluster of handlers from Axelrod, to Plouffe, to Messina to Jarrett, who have manufactured — out of little more than a diamond smile — the perception of a winning personality for an anti-social auto-pariah.
Other world leaders don’t buy the Obama sham, and so, even Obama’s flatterers struggle to find a single nation where his “smart diplomacy” wins friends and influences people. Even when he tries to connect, he can’t pull it off.
Mr. Obama’s own efforts to get closer to prime ministers and his fellow presidents have ended with largely disappointing results.
American foreign policy doesn’t require a president to have pajama parties where he paints the toenails and braids the hair of foreign leaders, but all successful relationships and negotiations require one quality of which Obama seems utterly bereft; empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
It’s good see the New York Times waking up to our president’s besetting character flaw — he doesn’t really give a damn about anyone but himself.
The North Texas area where I live is one of the safest places in America for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the high percentage of concealed handgun licensees. But that doesn’t mean Texas cops and sheriffs don’t have to take down a perp from time to time. In a dog-eat-dog world, police sometimes have to use deadly force to prevent it from becoming a dog-eat-cop world.
They shoot dogs, don’t they?
Yes, not often, but just enough to trigger a bill in the state’s part-time legislature.
Three North Texas representatives, Helen Giddings, D-Dallas, Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, have filed bills requiring animal encounter training for peace officers after several controversial fatal canine shootings. Giddings’ and Collier’s bills are scheduled for public hearing in the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas support Geren’s bill. Of course, who could oppose a bill to teach police how to de-escalate conflicts with any species — especially since everyone agrees that cops don’t want to shoot? After all, some of their best friends are dogs. Yet the line that struck me strange was this:
[Rep. Helen] Giddings said she’s pleased that law enforcement organizations overwhelmingly support legislation for mandatory training.
So, if police and sheriff departments across the state want more training on canine encounters — and the municipalities would pay for it under the terms of the bill — why do we need a state law to tell local law enforcement to do something that they already want to do, and that some have already begun to do?
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I’m going to say: Because it sounds good in a political ad.
Only one question remains after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s epic speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress Tuesday, and it has nothing to do with Netanyahu, nor with U.S. President Barack Obama. The question is this:
Do you trust the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
The question is not “Do you trust Khamenei to keep any deal on non-proliferation?” As Netanyahu pointed out, Iran is a danger if it breaks an agreement, but it’s an even great danger, albeit longer term, if it keeps its end of the bargain for the supposed 10-year compact. That’s because, freed from sanctions, it would emerge at decade’s end as a more prosperous nation, with long-range missiles and the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from its mothballed, but not destroyed, centrifuges, in less than 12 months.
As Bibi reminds us, we’re negotiating with Iran about nukes, but NOT about long-range missile development. Iran can already hit Israel, but it lacks transoceanic launch capabilities. Try not to think about that. It will only cloud your mind with thoughts of self-preservation.
In the speech to Congress, Netanyahu respectfully and forcefully answered all significant objections to his opposition to what he called “a bad deal” with Iran. In addition, the Israeli leader proposed a common-sense peace process that would give Iran the opportunity to prove that it really wants to join the community of nations, while safeguarding Israel, the Middle East, Europe and the United States from Iranian nuclear attack, on the off chance that the Islamic Republic turns out to be a jihadist revolutionary apocalyptic regime committed to destroying some or all of the above.
You see, while the media has focused on the supposed personal spat between the Israeli and U.S. leaders, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you like or trust Bibi Netanyahu or Barack Obama.
According to Wikipedia, Khamenei , like his nearly homophonic predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has allegedly issued a fatwa against production, storage and use of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Khamenei has presided over the construction of 19,000 nuclear centrifuges designed to purify uranium and plutonium to weapons grade. Officially (and laughably), Iran’s government purifies nuclear material to produce electricity, as it sits atop one of the world’s three largest petroleum reserves.
So, do you trust Khamenei to idle not only his known centrifuges, but also his hidden sites? Do you trust the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic to suddenly become entirely transparent with the inspectors who will monitor the terms of the agreement?
If you said, “Yes,” do you know that Khamenei …
- has repeatedly referred to Israel as “a cancerous tumor which should and will be cut out,”
- has referred to Jewish leaders as subhuman,
- leads a government that sponsors rallies to chant “Death to America” the “Great Satan,” and “Death to Israel,”
- has supplied the weapons to kill thousands of U.S. troops, and that
- Khamenei has said “the Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened”?
Do you think the Islamic Republic of Iran, which in 1979 threw a modern Persian society back to the days when Muhammed was teaching camel wranglers how to wash their hands with sand after scraping the excreta from their keisters with stones — do you think these people now wish to find common ground with the civilization that they find immoral, repugnant and Satanic?
Remember, it’s not actually enough to trust Khamenei to keep his word, as Netanyahu points out, because Iran is a danger if it breaks the agreement, but it’s a potentially greater danger if it keeps the agreement.
What you have to believe is that Khamenei has undergone a personal revolution, back to the future, and that he will lead his peace-loving Islamic Republic to do the same.
Do you believe?
Hillary Clinton’s Charity Took Major Donations from Dirt-Poor Nations That Received U.S. Taxpayer Aid
Embattled presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is taking some rhetorical sniper fire for her charitable foundation, which received large contributions from several nations while she was secretary of State.
1) A potential presidential candidate becomes beholden to certain foreign nations.
2) A Secretary of State whose private foundation grows in prestige from foreign donations, while those same nations lobby the State Department for special treatment on human rights.
Both questions merit vigorous exploration, but for two of the Clinton Foundation’s “donor nations” there’s a third, perhaps more troubling, specter: taxpayer money laundering.
Algeria and the Dominican Republican each contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and both are recipients of U.S. development aid.
In the year 2010, Secretary Clinton’s foundation received $500,000 from Algeria designated to help Haiti in the aftermath of an earthquake. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that Algeria received from U.S. taxpayers a total of $8.58 million in development assistance that same year — three-quarters of it as “emergency response” money.
At the same time, as the Post reports, Algeria spent another $422,097 lobbying the U.S. government, largely to take the heat off for human rights abuses in the 99% Sunni Islamic North African country.
So, in effect, U.S. taxpayers gave Algeria money to pressure us to stop hassling it about human rights, and we also gave Algeria money to curry favor with Madame Secretary by buffing the global reputation of Hillary Clinton’s private foundation. (This is not to minimize any good work that the Clinton Foundation may have done in Haiti. That’s irrelevant to this question.)
The real issue: Should needy nations like Algeria make contributions to other needy nations, channeled through the charitable foundation of the sitting U.S. secretary of State, while needy nation #1 is also lobbying us over human rights abuses — all with U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Meanwhile, the perennially impoverished Dominican Republic (DR) also donated to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s stint at State. Meanwhile in 2010 the DR received $35.52 million in U.S. development aid.
No matter what kind of accounting gymnastics one might perform, the fact of the matter is that U.S. taxpayers gave the DR and Algeria money that they then channelled to, or through, the Clinton Foundation.
There are, certainly, more troubles soon to emerge for a presidential hopeful with a foundation laid on such shifting sands of geostrategic relationships.
For example, Ukraine’s second-richest billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, a steel king whose wealth flows from trade with Russia, is also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. When President Hillary Clinton takes the 3 a.m. phone call from Mr. Pinchuk, how will she tell him that the United States stands with those who want an independent Ukraine, rather than a Russian puppet?
Sending a signal to oppressed women of the Muslim world in one photograph.
The only way to save the planet is to cull the herd of humanity.
That’s the threat facing a band of super-secret modern-day British knights in The Kingsman, an epic parody/tribute to (old) James Bond movies.
I’m not going to review the film, just note this: Despite its over-the-top brutal comedic violence, and dialog brought to you by the letter “F” and the number 3,723 (my estimate of F-bomb drops) — it may be the most effective take-down of the global climate-change cabal ever. I left the theater marveling that The Kingsman had survived the Hollywood development, funding and casting process.
In the story, a tech genius billionaire villain, played by a lisping Samuel L. Jackson, acknowledges to Harry Hart (Colin Firth) that no amount of environmental regulation can save the doomed planet, and so the only solution is to nearly wipe the planet clean of humans and start again.
“Mankind is the virus, and I’m the cure,” Jackson’s character says. World leaders, including a certain black American president, sign on to his final solution.
This is a most succinct statement of Leftist doctrine regarding man-made climate change. The final solution won’t be found in international carbon-reduction agreements, or even taxes, but in the reduction of carbon dioxide exhalers among our own species.
I don’t know, or care, about the politics of the film’s creators, but what they have wrought does more to expose the anti-AGW movement than a stack of National Review magazines, a subscription to Rush 24/7, or 713 hours of programming on PJTV.
I saw an interview with Mr. Jackson in which the reporter noted that he plays the villain. Jackson takes mock umbrage at the suggestion, and notes that his character is “just a guy who’s got a different agenda than everybody else.”
It’s a reminder that those who pose the greatest threat to us, typically believe that they yearn to perform a great service.
(Although I’m not contending anything about the ideology of the filmmakers, some might argue that a gleefully-violent scene that eliminates all of the members of a Westboro-like “church” is a slap at conservative Christians. I disagree. True Christian conservatives are more eager than most to witness the swift end of that vitriolic bolus of heretical idol worshippers — albeit by actually coming to Jesus, rather than by having Colin Firth smite them vigorously.)
It’s practically a national anthem on the political Right these days. A Jeb Bush presidential candidacy is a non-starter because his Dad flip-flopped and raised taxes, or his big brother twisted conservatism to justify bigger government, or twisted “the common defense” to justify military adventurism and to breach the 4th Amendment in that Orwellian place now called “the Homeland.” Or, you can supply whatever it is that you didn’t like about 41 and 43.
However, some folks don’t oppose a Jeb candidacy on the basis of his kin’s presidential performance, but simply on the precept that the American republic has no place for political dynasties. We fought a revolution to escape that, they say.
I’ll grant you that, if George W. Bush had chosen Jeb as his running mate then resigned in order to cede power to his brother, I would join you at the White House gates, aggressively hefting my pitchfork.
If George H.W. Bush had re-assembled his old CIA buddies to execute a clandestine coup d’etat to place his youngest son on the throne, I’d come to the gate with a tool whose efficacy is measured in fps and stopping power.
And if Barbara Bush had ordered the executions of Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Nikki Haley, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, John Kasich, Rick Santorum and The Rent is Too Damn High Guy, I would join you in your doomsday bunker with a backpack full of freeze-dried, hollow-point and bullion to wait out Armageddon.
But none of that happened, nor will it.
If Jeb Bush ever becomes the GOP nominee for president of the United States it will be because he earned it at the ballot box. If he gets elected as president, it will come as a result of garnering at least 270 electoral votes.
Of course, you may be one who believes that any electoral outcome with which you disagree was accomplished through extraordinary, extralegal, or even extraterrestrial skullduggery. If so, I’d like to meet with you personally offline to discuss this. Let’s have coffee on the movie set where NASA faked the moon landing. In particular, I’ll want to know how the candidates who you like occasionally get elected.
One of the great benefits of leaving the Old World — with its patrimony and primogeniture — and coming to America was that the second son, and the third son (and beyond) each had equal opportunity to test his mettle in the arena of commerce and ideas, and to soar has high as his industry, character, intellect and perseverance would take him.
You can hate/reject/ignore Jeb Bush for his ideas, for his track record, for his vision, for his bland personality, for his flat elocution and for his hipster horn rims, but in an American meritocracy we don’t judge a man by the “sins” of his family.
Most of all, in these United States, we have kicked down the age-old barrier of genetics, so that no man is damned to live in the shadow of his father or his brother.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who served as chair of the Democrat National Committee during the final 16 months of the Clinton administration, leaps to the defense of the Commonwealth’s legally- and ethically-troubled attorney general this week. In the process, he reprises a common Republican criticism about former Senator Barack Obama.
The gratuitous slap at Obama in the pages of the New York Times is hard to see as anything but a shot in the arm for Hillary 2016.
First a bit of background: The Rendell-Clinton ties are deep and wide and long. Then-Gov. Rendell endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination on January 24, 2008, and became an enthusiastic campaigner for her, until she flamed out. Years earlier, President Bill Clinton appointed Rendell’s wife, Marjorie (“Midge”), first to the U.S. District Court (1994), then as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit (1997).
Fast forward: Attorney General Kathleen Kane was a political Helios whose chariot reached its zenith in the heavens in 2013. That was before a grand jury showered her with accusations in its presentment this January.
“Last year, a special prosecutor charged that Ms. Kane, a Democrat, had violated secrecy rules by leaking information to a newspaper concerning an investigation by her Republican predecessor into the finances of a Philadelphia civil rights leader. Late last month, a grand jury recommended that Ms. Kane be charged with perjury, false swearing, official oppression and obstruction concerning that case.” (NY Times, 2/4/15, A13)
Deep in the New York Times piece that chronicles Kane’s “fall in fortunes,” Rendell attempts to shield her with a version of the Sandy “Sloppy” Berger defense, not only suggesting that a bit more OTJ experience would have stood Kane in good stead, but that her lack of preparation for the AG office was akin to Barack Obama’s for the Oval Office.
“Would it probably have been better if she’d had some administrative experience before this job? Yes. But so could have President Obama.” — Ed Rendell
This may be merely damning Kane with faint praise, but more likely Rendell introduces Obama into this legal and ethical morass to remind Democrats of the cost of hiring the incompetent, and the un-trained.
Of course, the pitch for Hillary in 2008 was her readiness for the Oval Office, in stark contrast to Obama’s rookie-ness. Advocates now claim we’re “Ready for Hillary,” but she was ready for us years ago.
In his 2012 book, A Nation of Wusses, Rendell implies that his own campaign savvy delivered Pennsylvania to Hillary in the 2008 primary, and he backhands Obama, noting that Hillary actually won the nationwide popular vote. Then he adds…
“Since Obama went on to win the national election handily, many people may forget that this game [the primaries] went into extra innings and that Hillary lost by only a run. But this was as close as any election gets, and I won’t forget that. Perhaps when President Hillary Clinton is sworn in in 2017, everyone will be talking about it again.
I said that I fell in love with Hillary during those seven weeks [the Pa. campaign], and I did…Hillary is a great person…I have told her that I would be her  campaign manager and not even take a salary, that’s how important it is for her to run….Run, Hillary, run. This country is so screwed up it needs a brilliant, charismatic, non-wuss lawyer to turn it around.” (Excerpted from pages 147-149, A Nation of Wusses)
Non-wuss lawyer, indeed. Such a contrast, eh?
He ends the book with another affirmation of his zeal to see Hillary Clinton elected as the first woman president.
By contrast, Rendell hardly mentions Obama’s 2008 campaign, except to note that the Illinois senator barely showed up in Pennsylvania, while Hillary and Bill Clinton exhaustively canvassed the state. (Slap!)
And while he periodically defends Obama against Republican attacks, Rendell also confirms the verdict of pundits who put the blame for the 2010 Democratic Party mid-term election massacre “mainly at the doorstep of the Obama administration.” Rendell critiques the tactics Obama used to pass the stimulus and Obamacare, the flaws of the bills, and the administration’s communication failures. (Pow!)
“The first rule of political messaging is that if you have the ‘bully pulpit’ and you are introducing a new program, take the initiative and explain it first to your constituents as directly and clearly as you can. Define the plan and the issues it presents before anyone else does. The Obama administration never did that with either bill, and as a result the Republicans defined them for the American people.” (pages 152,153, A Nation of Wusses)
Rendell then devotes several pages to chronicling the Obama administration’s mistakes, and laying out what he — a seasoned, experience politician — would have done instead.
So, here’s the upshot: Self-promoting Democratic shills like Ed Rendell don’t insert the Democratic president into seamy stories by accident. He did it to remind Democrats of the awful price of electing incompetence, and to prepare the battle-space for Hillary for 2016.
The New York Times Monday attempted to take down the man that it, and the left-wing media, has built up to be the most hopeful Republican White House hopeful since Maverick McCain — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor, a Republican now preparing a run for president, shot to national prominence as a cheese-steak-on-the-boardwalk Everyman who bluntly preached transparency and austerity as the antidote to bloated state budgets. But throughout his career in public service, Mr. Christie has indulged a taste that runs more toward Champagne at the Four Seasons.
He has also quietly let others pay the bills.
Naturally, if you’re going to attack a Republican, it must be on moral grounds, since only Republicans are susceptible to charges of hypocrisy.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that Gov. Christie has treated himself like royalty on the public dime, and has allowed royalty to treat him like royalty (his buddy, the lately-late King Abdullah, picked up his family-travel tab), I feel compelled to defend Gov. Christie against aspersions designed to thrust him from the GOP field, perhaps even forcing him to run as a Democrat.
There’s a perfectly reasonable, even praise-worthy, explanation for the international charter flights with family, 5-star hotels, stadium box seats next to team owners, and the $236 four-mile car rides, as well as for the celebrity leg-humping with Bono, Jamie Foxx, Howard Stern and others.
Think about it: A main complaint about Barack Obama is that he wasn’t prepared to be president. But 18 months before the presidential election, Gov. Christie has done much to ready himself to live in a palace, fly private charter, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and, as he reportedly says, “squeeze all the juice out of the orange.” All of this he does either at public expense, or, more frequently, through the generosity of well-connected, well-heeled friends. Chris Christie has that je ne sais quoi that voters seek — he already “looks presidential.”
In addition to assiduously becoming accustomed to the presidential lifestyle, Gov. Christie has also set an example for millions of Americans. He’s a solid conservative who is prudent with his own money, and will not splurge on luxury unless it’s fully paid for by others.
To quote the economist John Cougar Mellencamp: “Ain’t that America, home of the free?”
Furthermore, Christie explains that he relishes the foreign travel “experiences and exposures, especially for my kids,” as he dabs a drop of orange juice from his chin. Everyone loves a president who understands that everything we do is “for the children.”
As for the celebrities, we all know they they’re the most frequent visitors to the White House, so it’s good that Gov. Christie gets to know them now. On Day One, he’ll already have a prioritized list for the Lincoln bedroom.
I would venture to say that no Republican candidate is better prepared than Chris Christie to accept the mantle of responsibility, along with the scepter and the diadem.
Of course, I could be wrong. We’ll have to wait for future New York Times stories about the other candidates to know for sure.
Here’s the script for the “Scott Ott Thought” video above.
SCOTT OTT: I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
People often ask me, “Scott Ott how can anyone be miserable during the greatest era of health and opportunity that America has ever seen?”
Well, it really isn’t very difficult. In fact, I can teach you how in fewer than 5 minutes. Here are Scott Ott’s seven secrets for getting, and staying miserable in the midst of joy and plenty.
First, read the New York Times.
You know, many of the secrets of success — like diligence, hard work, and honesty — are necessary, but not sufficient, to produce prosperity.
However, to achieve misery, The New York Times, is, in fact, sufficient.
It’ll have you fondling a revolver within just a few paragraphs.
This kind of misery-inducing work doesn’t just flow from the facts and the news. It takes the efforts of hundreds of reporters and editors in order to look at the numbers in a way that makes you wonder whether that ceiling fan can support your full weight.
Number two, replace the word “description” with the word “destiny.”
You see The New York Times describes what’s happening in the economy — for example, the middle class is shrinking. But you’ll fail miserably at being miserable if you don’t manage to translate that news into a personal belief that you are destined to fall from the middle class into poverty.
If you’re already in poverty, the key to getting and remaining miserable in the midst of it is to believe that the middle class is now squeezed so tight that you can’t get in. Misery is your destiny.
Third, you must control your mental focus.
You know, it’s so easy to slip out of that misery-thinking and into the belief that the plenty that you see around you could be yours. Don’t do it, my friend. You’ll never achieve sustainable misery if you start believing that you could change your current circumstances.
If you find your mind wandering toward opportunity, or goal-setting, or even enjoying the situation that you’re currently in, you must take immediate action. First, read The New York Times.
Fourth, it’s important to believe that the way you perceive things to be now, is the way they really are, the way they’ve always been and always will be.
If you even start to think that there’s a sunny side of the street, it’s a slippery slope, my friend.
Next thing you know, you’ll start to fantasize that life could be better than it is now, and then you’ll start to plan for that better future life, and you know what that will lead to?
I guarantee you, it won’t smell like misery.
You run the very real risk of rushing headlong into opportunity. Then you just might find out that all your preparation has primed you for a time such as this. And then, how are you going to remain miserable?
Fifth, if you have a job, hate your job.
O, you don’t have to go out and get a terrible job. You can start right here, right now, by simply hating the job you already have.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make at that job — I know folks making minimum wage who hate their jobs, and I know people earning six figures who don’t like what they do. The content of the work is irrelevant.
I’ll admit that hating your job is difficult, because it’s an intentional decision, but you have to make it seem like a natural consequence of your birth.
Number six: Worry. [SING] “Don’t happy. Be worry.”
Worry is easy because there are only two things to worry about:
1) things you can change, and
2) things you can’t change.
You see, there are problems and there are facts of life. Problems can be fixed. Facts of life can’t be fixed but they can be worked around. But the secret to a worriful life is to see problems as facts of life, and facts of life as problems.
This will help you worry about the problems you might otherwise solve, and it will worry the quinoa out of you as you try to fix human nature.
Hey, did you notice: We’re not even done this course yet, and I bet already you’re beginning to feel a little miserable. Good for you.
Finally, number seven: Demand that government make you happy.
Whether it’s money, or health insurance, child care or child disposal, or the need to make something legal that was illegal when you did it — put your hopes in government and politicians.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican who wants smaller government, lower taxes and fewer Democrats, or a Democrat, who wants larger government, higher taxes on Republicans, and larger government.
Hoping that politicians and government will change the world in ways that make you happy is, perhaps, the most foolproof way to getting and staying miserable in the midst of joy and plenty.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
Harvard University, best known for its former, albeit laconic *, Law Review president, has now distinguished itself in another way. Last year, Harvard received gifts in excess of $1.5 billion — that’s Billion, as in “you didn’t Build that.”
The president undoubtedly Tweeted Harvard’s Dean of Donations this week to remind him that “at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” and that, while he doesn’t want to punish Harvard’s success, “when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”
Obama probably urged his Crimson comrades to consider the egalitarian generosity of Charles and David Koch, who recently contributed $25 million to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to help needy students at historically-black schools. President Obama almost certainly encouraged his alma mater to emulate this field-leveling behavior, even if doing so might cause a backlash from AFSCME, the union of government employees, which cut ties with the UNCF in protest over the Koch donation.
With only 106 historically-black colleges and universities, many of them struggling financially, Harvard could simply divide up that $1.5 billion in equal shares of $14 million (with Harvard also receiving its fair share.) What could be a more equitable way of addressing such savage income inequality?
It was, after all, a $37.5 billion record year for giving to America’s 4,800 colleges and universities, but $6.75 billion of that went to just 10 schools. In other words, the top two-tenths of one percent got 18 percent of the money.
As a millionaire, living in a palace, with servants meeting his every need, security watching his every step, becking and calling limousines and luxury aircraft, vacationing in posh resorts, and golfing his days away — Barack Obama clearly has the prestige, and the leisure time, to petition the captains of Cambridge, Mass., to redress this lingering injustice.
However, you may contend, the donors to Harvard did not intend their wealth to be spread around so liberally.
Yes, but what is Harvard, if not an educational institution? Should that education stop after a few years of undergraduate work, a master’s or a doctorate? No, I say, let the learning continue for a lifetime, as Harvard teaches its wealthy capitalist alumni the vanity of greed and the surpassing value of selfless giving.
May Obama’s elite friends in academia experience the full blessing of his legacy of leveling.
I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.The latest statistics from the FBI on hate crimes paint a disturbing picture of Islamophobic bigotry in America.Of course, you’re well aware of the Islamophobic pandemic backlash that innocent Muslims have experienced as a result of a few overachieving radical jihadists — who are not really Muslim, even thought they say they are, and draw their inspiration from the Koran, and do pretty much what Muhammed did, all the while shouting “Allahu akbar.”
I’m sure you’ve heard America leaders warn us about taking out our anger on people who don’t look like us, or don’t pray like us, and who put far too much clothing on their undoubtedly-comely women.
Well, first of all, the FBI report shows that Muslims are severely underrepresented as a hate-crime victims. Only 2.3 percent of hate crimes were anti-Islamic — that means only 135 out of 5,928 hate crimes were even aimed at Muslims.
Even Jews, on a per capita basis, received more attention from hateful criminals than Muslims did; twice as much. Clearly, President Obama has work to do if he hopes to address this savage inequality that Muslims experience as second-class hate-crime victims.
Beyond the basic unfairness to Muslims, perhaps the overriding concern about the hate-crimes statistics is the very small number of crimes that are motivated by hate at all.
About 9.8 million crimes were committed in the United States in 2013, but fewer than 6,000 were classified as hate-crimes.
This means that only one out of every 1,652 crimes is even motivated by hate.
All the rest are driven by greed, lust, boredom, or even personal hatred of a non-discriminatory nature.
Well, the psychological toll on non-hate-crime victims is perhaps anecdotal, but no less real in the absence of data.
In the words of one beating victim: “I’ve got a broken jaw, and bruised ribs, but my attacker said nothing against my religion or race — not a word. How am I gonna explain this to the kids. It’s just senseless.”
Well, I’m sure you join me in calling on President Obama to restore hate to its proper place in crime, and to elevate Muslims at least to the status of Jews.
But above all else, it’s important that we don’t let the current shortage of anti-Muslim hate crimes deter us from raising the alarm about Islamophobic bigotry in America.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
It may seem like a small thing, but the lead sentence in this Dallas Morning News story nicked a nerve somewhere in my jaw.
Newly sworn in Sen. Don Huffines said Thursday the Texas Legislature would approve a bill that allows Texans to carry guns without a permit.
You saw it too: “that allows Texans to carry guns without a permit.”
Most Dallas Morning News readers will think nothing of it, and instead ponder whether they think it’s a good idea to “allow” so-called open carry (if they do any thinking at all).
Of course, some might wonder why I quibble, after all, they’d say, our U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment allows individuals “to keep and bear arms.”
It clearly does NOT. It does not ALLOW us to do anything.
Rather it forbids the U.S. government from infringing on our natural, God-given right to self-defense. We don’t need permission from the government to protect ourselves from hoodlums, from foreign invaders, or from even the U.S. government, if it should breach the constitutional wall.
The 14th Amendment applies this constitutional protection of natural rights to all citizens against encroachment by any state.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (from Amendment XIV, Section 1)
So, when Texas, or any other state, passed laws forbidding us “to keep and bear arms,” it overstepped its constitutional bounds. Sen. Huffines’ legislation will put the state government back inside the constitutional walled compound. (My beef is not with the senator, who understands that we don’t need a permit to exercise natural rights.)
The legislation, which Governor Greg Abbott says he will sign, does not “allow” anything. It restores a right that the government was not “allowed” to infringe in the first place.
There now, I feel much better. How about you?
Jewish Emigration from France to Israel 1994-Present
Some say the bad European economy, high French taxes and the inviting business atmosphere of Israel are behind the veritable exodus of French Jews from their country to Abraham’s promised land.
But it’s hard to discount Jew-hatred and the threat of violence reminiscent of 1930s Germany, as radical Islam burns with rage and is not quenched.
The surge of French Jews emigrating to Israel is unprecedented in the post-World War II era. Last year, for the first time, France exceeded the United States for Jews making aliyah — the Hebrew term for “going up” to Israel, a core element of the Zionist movement.
Pretending economic factors have driven this pattern denies decades of history, when European economic downturns did not produce such an outflow. Last year, Jews from France emigrated to Israel in numbers that exceeded the peak of 5,292 set in 1969, in the wake of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War.
The Jews have seen this story before, and they will never forget. They know that “noble” world leaders will quibble and equivocate as Jews are surrounded “for their own protection,” and then slaughtered to satisfy the bloodlust of evil men.
But there’s open debate about whether Jews should stay or flee. Watch the Trifecta episode below to learn more about that, and hear the story of the ship St. Louis, which left Hamburg loaded with Jews on May 13, 1939.
Charlie Hebdo, the magazine attacked this week by heavily-armed Hell-bound Muslim jihadists, was run by Left-wing atheists who reveled in lampooning all religions and politicians who aren’t sufficiently socialist.
Yet despite the heathen commie content of Charlie Hebdo, those of us in the Right-wing echo chamber have offered full-throated support for their right to express their despicable views, even if they do it with tasteless, often ribald, satire. (The fact that I use the word “ribald” proves that I’m the kind of stick-in-the-mud who should despise Charlie. What’s worse: I write ScrappleFace.com, which I bill as “family-friendly satire.” Ick.)
But you see, Right-wing evangelical wackos like me tend to be people of principle. True principles, by definition, must enjoy universal application. We believe in a free marketplace of ideas where, ultimately, the truth will come to light — if not in this life, then in the one to come.
So, while one of President Obama’s press secretaries clucks his tongue about Charlie Hebdo’s poor judgement – using the bully pulpit to pressure them to still their Muhammed-mocking pens — we stand by the cartoonists’ right to lampoon the Prophet Muhammed and his morality-bereft, blood-besotted groupies. (Carney’s parsing of “right” vs. “judgment” is fine for parlor prattle, but not from the president’s spokesman standing before a global camera in the White House.)
We did not support Charlie because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It’s not because we were glad to see someone stick it to the pedophile “prophet” of the scimitar “scriptures.” After all, Charlie mocked Christians too.
We support free speech rights unconditionally — regardless of what we think of the message. If we disagree with the viewpoint or method of expressing it, the remedy for bad speech is more speech, not censorship by statute or scimitar (or presidential bullying).
The Leftist is in a quandary, because many of his movement’s brightest lights, or at least loudest speakers, want us to believe that slim difference lies between the Muslim gunmen of Paris and the average Southern Baptist.
To Lefty, we’re all dangerous religious bigots.
Yet even the “progressive” journalists and politicians know in their hearts that if they showed up at a baptist church potluck, uninvited, and started to spout their Utopian collectivism, they’d get nothin’ but love, strange looks, and perhaps some awkward but sincere attempts to share Jesus with them.
At the Baptist potluck, Lefty would be allowed to run his fool mouth until the peach cobbler ran out, signaling time to go home.
Next Sunday, someone would ask Brother Mike to pray for Lefty’s commie, heathen soul…bless his heart.
The goat-goading Muslim swineherds who emptied their AK-47 magazines into the bodies of French satirists today, send a message to you: Shut up. Sit down. Be afraid, and stand aside as we take over the world in the name of our slavemaster. Shaitan Akbar. Praise Satan. (I don’t care if they pronoun Shaitan as “Allah,” we all know whom they serve.)
Years ago, a Jewish friend asked me about my newfound faith in Jesus Christ. After hearing my salvation story, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said quite sincerely, “Is there really a God?” It was a combination of hope and disbelief. After years of rehearsing the rituals that tell the story of the one true God who saves and redeems, she seemed taken aback that He might really exist, care, love, send the Messiah to deliver the broken and needy from oppression, as she knew He had promised.
Years later, in a phone call, another friend confessed, with profound shock, that she had begun to believe that there might actually be evil in the world — not just mistakes, or misunderstandings, or bouts of misguided passion, but pure evil that lives, and moves, and strikes.
What my friends were reluctant to believe, history cannot disguise.
Yes, there is a God.
Yes, there is evil.
Though God loves us, we fear the Lord, in the sense that we are overwhelmed with wonder at his power, his love and his faithfulness toward us. We stand in awe of him, and bow before him, offering praise and thanks. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Shall we also fear Satan, and those who act in his name?
No, because the power of God within us is greater than the power of evil.
An ancient Hebrew song says that when evil men rise up — men who think they’re gods, or who follow them – God mocks them.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
– Psalm 2:4
And this is why we will not be afraid of the latest evil manifestation of the pig-god of the jihadists — the one that used to be called Beelzebub: the lord of the flies.
Therefore, we should and many already have, rejected the tyranny of Satan over us, even with the small gesture of sharing a picture of the Prophet Muhammed, whom Islamic jihadists worship as fervently as they do the nominal deity.
Here’s my own, hand-drawn, contribution to the rebellion against evil, along with a link to a satirical story I wrote about today’s slaughter of fellow satirists at Charlie Hebdo. I hope you’ll share it, or create your own.
In the wake of the embarrassing revelation that Rep. Steve Scalise, the new House majority whip, has apologized because he very nearly spoke with a racist group 12 years ago, I feel that it’s time for me to confess a similar transgression — although, perhaps more serious, since I actually spoke with the group in question and I knew what I was doing at the time.
The group I addressed has devoted decades to advancing discriminatory policies that treat blacks and other minority groups as substandard, inferior and virtually handicapped compared with whites. What’s more they’re unrepentant, even proud of it.
Worse, the group has been responsible for racially segregating schools and neighborhoods, by literally funneling taxpayer dollars into substandard housing zones that become generational poverty traps for poor racial minorities.
In addition, the group has coordinated money, manpower and strategy with kindred organizations to block minority children from receiving a decent education, and to box out independent minority entrepreneurs from lucrative contracts that could lift them and their neighborhoods up from the bottom.
Worst of all, the group before which I spoke has successfully promoted and funded race-selective “medical procedures” which have resulted in the deaths of millions of black infants.
Yes, that’s right: I, Scott Ott, confess that some years ago, I spoke before a group of Democrats.
Also from Scott Ott:
I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
Lost in the vitriolic effluent of recent political news, was a story of surpassing hope for peace on earth, and a better tomorrow.
It was news of a breakthrough agreement at a global climate change conference.
For the first time in history, all of the nations of the world agreed to agree on a plan to be agreed upon at a future date.
This will, of course, halt the deadly spread of climate change, or at least to slow it down enough to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
This historic agreement to agree to agree-upon didn’t just happen over night.
Initially, environmentalists, climate experts, great thinkers and Al Gore wanted the world to just agree on a plan to reduce man-made atmospheric carbon before we all burn up under the rising ocean.
This would be accomplished by rapidly substituting solar, wind and other clean energy sources, for dirty coal and petroleum.
Essentially, it means switching from underground to above-ground energy sources. And you don’t have to be a climate scientist to like the sound of that.
After all, underground is dark, filled with worms and probably where Hell would be, if it existed, which I’m pretty sure it does not, because I don’t want to go there.
Above-ground is sunny and windy and wet and wonderful, and probably like Heaven, which is where I’m going because, I don’t want to go to Hell, which doesn’t exist anyway.
Not only is above-ground renewable energy better for the planet, but it creates millions of jobs and ushers in a new era of renewable prosperity.
However, poor countries objected to that first plan.
Poor countries — or at least the handful of wealthy politicians and academics who came to the resort conference from poor countries — said they couldn’t survive under this new renewable prosperity, since their people still need to eat food, drink clean water and try to sleep indoors at night…and eat food.
The new renewable prosperity provides mostly research grants, charter jet flights to climate conferences at resort locations, and medals and trophies for Al Gore — most of which, with the possible exception of Al Gore himself — are not edible.
The rich countries said they understood the plight of the poor — which is why they worked so hard to stop being poor countries— and they recommended that the poor countries also stop being poor too, by investing billions of dollars in renewable energy which creates millions of jobs, and keeps poor people from burning up under the ocean.
But the poor countries said, “You became rich countries by burning coal and oil. We want to do that too, because even if we could eat Al Gore, most of us are vegetarians and Al Gore is made of meat.”
So, AT the climate conference in the South American resort town of Playa Sans Swimsuit — instead of a specific plan to reduce deadly atmospheric CO2, the nations agreed to let each nation come up with its own plan and then have another in conference in Paris next year.
This is a huge breakthrough. Previous conferences would dissolve with nothing but vague promises, and a plan to get together in a lovely vacation hotspot next year.
By the way, before the conference a couple of Google engineers recently announced that they had spent several years and lots of Google money to find a way to replace coal with renewable energy for power generation.
Their research showed, that even though renewables are expensive, inefficient, and difficult to transport, we COULD use them to reverse global climate change if…magic.
Of course, research like this will never hinder global climate agreements.
Because global agreements are based on the kind of science that reinforces the known facts that previous scientists predicted might exist, under certain theoretical computer simulated conditions…along with the proper mix of research grants, resort conferences and Al Gore back bacon.
I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.
Script for Scott Ott video above…
I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.
The magic of Christmas is how it’s all so effortless. You wake up in the morning and the tree is surrounded by colorful boxes and bags and all you have to do is open the gift.
Well, it probably hasn’t been like that for you for a few decades.
We lived in a country house that was built in the 1700′s. The wooden floorboards upstairs were thin and a bit creaky. Near one of two bedrooms shared by four boys was a small knothole in the floor. I don’t recall if we punched the knot out, but it was gone, leaving a dime-sized hole in the floor through which one might peer into the living room below.
But you had to practically get down on your belly and press your cheek against the pine to see through the knothole. And more than one of us boys did that, more than once, especially on Christmas morning.
We four boys were brought up by our grandparents, Jim and Jessica McMaster, who rose before dawn every day–Pop to drive to Philadelphia to making steel railcars and Nan to do more difficult work, managing a household full of four boys.
But despite their clockwork pre-dawn rising habit, on Christmas morning, they pulled the covers up tight to their chins and they slept in. We pleaded and whined for them to arise, and take us to the gifts, because we couldn’t go without them. That’s the rule. But we practically had to roll them out of bed, such was the extent of their yuletide lassitude. They seemed oblivious to the fact that just below these pine boards lay unimaginable treasure for the taking. It was all so effortless. How could they be tired at a time such as this?
Making things look effortless is exhausting isn’t it? They sacrificed time, and money, and sweat, and sleep, and busted knuckles to make Christmas effortless for us.
I have a Jewish friend who jokes about how easy it is to become a Christian–just believe in Jesus. Whereas, to become a Jew, he says, you need to strive to comply with a bunch of rules, and to get circumcised. The latter requirement, he says, really cuts down on the adult male recruiting pool.
But he’s right–Christianity is effortless. All you have to do is be perfect. That’s what Jesus said,”Be perfect, as your Heavenly father is perfect.”
This morning I read President Obama’s to-do list under the “normalize relations with Cuba” project.
I’m a big to-do list guy. I have an app on my computer and smartphone to list tasks by project, create dependent sub-tasks, prioritize, and track accomplishment. The sub-task and prioritize features are great, because they help me not just to get things done, but to get them done in a logical sequence. Often, that means completing prerequisite tasks before attempting dependent ones.
Near the bottom of the official White House task list for Cuba Normalizar, we find this:
Initiating a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism —
The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch such a review, and provide a report to the President within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism. Cuba was placed on the list in 1982.
Now this comes after setting up a new embassy, facilitating travel to-and-from for certain people, opening up financial pipelines, and helping 95 percent of Cubans get on the Internet.
So, just as you’re thinking, “Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1961,” we find that we’re doing all of this for, and with, a nation we currently classify as a state sponsor of terrorism. Furthermore, we’re doing all of this BEFORE determining whether that classification still applies.
Of course, Secretary of State John Kerry and his staff will assiduously investigate all of the Cuban government’s potentially-suspicious international activities. And, no doubt, Cuba’s communist government will throw open the books on their clandestine affairs so we can fully vet where the money, weapons and ‘advisors’ go and what they do. If we discover that Cuba still sponsors terror, then the normalization deal is off, right Mr. President?
That has to happen, otherwise, President Obama has just committed the United States of America to linking arms with a communist dictatorship that, for all we know, is Iran in the Western Hemisphere.
Funny, you’d think that the CIA would already have a pretty good feel (in espionage jargon) for what Cuba is doing regarding international terrorism, but The Agency has been pretty busy lately, defending itself from attacks by Democrats in Congress and the White House. So, we’ll just have to wait six months and see what Kerry finds out.
Maybe it’s just me, but if I had a “Normalize Relations with Cuba” project in my to-do app, “Determine if they sponsor terrorism” would be the number one priority task, with all others dependent upon, and awaiting, the outcome of its accomplishment.