May 12, 2015
(This post will remain at the top until Tim returns See New Content BELOW.)
Due to a major eye surgery and some other issues this website will be a bit sparse over the next month. We will continue to post on a bit of a hit-or-miss basis. Please check back regularly.
I had to have a major eye surgery to save what vision I have left in that eye. I had the same surgery on the other eye which restored sight in that particular eye, but this one will likely not restore sight because the problem is too close to the retina. The best I'm hoping for is a stabilizing of the eye, which is currently at twice the legal definition of blind (20/400, while 20/200 is legally blind.) As long as I can retain peripheral vision in that eye I can continue to drive, so it is critical that the eye be stablized.
The surgery is called a vitrectomy, and they remove the vitreous from the eye. The vitreous is the jelly-like substance that helps to give the eye definition. They remove the vitreous and insert an air-bobble to hold it's shape while the eye heals. The bubble fills with fluid and eventually is stable. Unfortunately it is extremely delicate in the recovery phase - where the incisions made by the doctor (three of them) have to heal. You have to be VERY careful for a month after the surgery, and I will be sitting or laying most of that time. No bending over. No stresses of any kind. Going to the bathroom is problematic; I'll use laxatives to keep myself from having difficult bowel movements. Oh, and I'll probably gain a lot of weight.
It is no fun.
But it will hopefully be worth it in the end.
So while I won't be doing much here, our regular writers will be submitting and we should keep this updated more or less. My wife will do some posting for us.
May 26, 2015
By Alan Caruba
"Woe to the land that’s governed by a child.” - Shakespeare, Richard III
Leftists are upset about what they view as a double standard with respect to the Baltimore/Ferguson affair and the recent Waco gang shootout. They’re right, too – there sure is a double standard.
And, as usual, it’s their own.
Consider, for example, an Associated Press piece by one Jesse J. Holland titled "Differing perceptions of Waco, Baltimore bothering some.” http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_WACO_SHOOTING_PERCEPTIONS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-05-20-15-06-09 Holland starts out writing that the "prevailing images of protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over police killings of black men were of police in riot gear, handcuffed protesters, tear gas and mass arrests. The main images of a fatal gun battle between armed bikers and police in Waco, Texas, also showed mass arrests – carried out by nonchalant-looking officers sitting around calm bikers on cellphones.” The idea is that while the black thugs in Baltimore and Ferguson received harsh treatment and coverage, the primarily white thugs in Waco were, relatively speaking, handled with kid gloves.
Pardon my tongue, but this brings us to another complaint. Holland cites people who say that while Barack Obama and other politicians called the Baltimore miscreants "thugs,” no such descriptive is applied to the white Waco punks. He mentions in particular radio and TV commentator Roland Martin, who tweeted, "So the mainstream media refuses to talk [hashtag]WacoThugs, huh?” And Martin has a point: while the black Baltimore rioters and looters were called thugs, no white Waco rioters and looters were thus characterized. I wonder, why might that be?
Oh, yeah, that’s right: there are no white rioters and looters in Waco.
Minor details such as this seem to escape the notice of two-brain-cell journalists in search of a story, but a prerequisite for having "police in riot gear” is actually having, you know, a riot. The incident in Waco was an unforeseen event, meaning the cops had no time to don any kind of special gear.
Perhaps they don’t teach proper analogizing in journalism school, but the Waco biker thugs aren’t analogous to the Baltimore rioter thugs; rather, they’re analogous to the person the latter were rioting over: drug dealer Freddie Gray. And no one went out of his way to call Gray a thug.
Martin also lamented that we won’t have a "panel discussion on their [the bikers’] childhood” or on "fatherless homes,” no doubt, as the media will soon drop the story. This is largely because they don’t have a black-on-white racial angle to play up, but also for another reason:
Whites won’t be rallying to the defense of the biker thugs.
Matters are proceeding as they should. The police went to the scene of the crime, fired on the thugs when necessary (perhaps killing some), brought matters to a conclusion, and made arrests – 170 of them. Moreover, all people, including whites, want to see justice done. In fact, no small number of whites would no doubt say that more of the thugs should have been shot.
Oh, as for the descriptors, it’s self-evident that the Waco criminals are thugs. The reason why the point had to be made in Baltimore is that politicians, media propagandists, and race-baiting activists had euphemized the rioters as "protesters” who cared about Freddie Gray and had legitimate grievances. So even Obama, in a rare and fleeting moment of lucidity, pointed out the obvious: get off it – they’re just thugs.
The irony of the Lamestream Media’s reporting on what’s a flawed conception of a double standard is that it was created by their own exercise of a true double standard. As black pundit Larry Elder reported, police shootings of black suspects are down 75 percent over the last several decades, but you wouldn’t know it from cherry-picked reportage that seems designed to incite racial unrest. Consider the following list of perspective-lending realities the media refuses to cover: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/12/18/racial_cop_stories_that_didnt_make_the_cut_125004.html
* As Elder also wrote, "n 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops – and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops.”
* Of course, blacks are only 13 percent of the population. So far more significantly and as this recent Washington State University study shows, police are actually more willing to shoot white than black suspects. Why? Because police know that, as Ferguson officer Darren Wilson’s experience illustrates, shooting a black criminal can mean media crucifixion, career destruction, death threats, and, basically, the end of your life as you know it.
* Black suspects are as likely to shoot at police as to be shot at.
* Relative to whites, black are shot by police at a lower rate than their involvement in crime would suggest. As sociologist and ex-cop Professor Peter Moskos writes, "[a]djusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks [to] die at the hands of police. Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.” http://spokane.wsu.edu/admissions/Criminal-Justice/faculty-staff/Racial&EthnicBiasDFJDMStrongerLens_ExperimentalCriminology_JamesKlingerVila2014.pdf
* According to FBI statistics, 46 percent of those who’ve murdered police officers during the last decade have been black. http://www.aim.org/special-report/black-criminals-white-victims-and-white-guilt/
* Blacks commit approximately more than half of all murders nationwide. And 93 percent of all black homicide victims are murdered by other blacks. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/21/family-secret-what-the-left-wont-tell-you-about-bl/
* Stories of generally "unarmed” white suspects being shot by minority police abound but are never reported nationally. There was 20-year old white man Dillon Taylor, who was shot by a Hispanic cop last year; Iraq military veteran James Whitehead, shot by off-duty black police officer Robert Arnold in Texas in 2011 after a verbal altercation; white teen Gil Collar, shot by a black officer at the University of Alabama in 2012; and 46-year-old white man John Geer, shot with his hands up (according to four police officers on the scene) by a Hispanic cop with "anger issues.”
This isn’t to imply that all the above shootings were unjust, but such a standard is hardly necessary for the media to play the race card when reporting the rare white-on-black shootings. In fact, the media will trumpet the causes of obvious thugs, such as Ferguson’s Michael Brown, Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin, even in the face of evidence that thugs are precisely what they are.
Speaking of which, what do you think about the coverage of that unarmed 17-year-old shot by that grown man?
No, not cute little Trayvon.
Seventeen-year-old white kid Chris Cervini, shot by black martial artist Roderick Scott in Greece, NY in 2009. Scott is built like a brick outhouse and admits Cervini never laid a hand on him, but he says he thought his life could be in danger. He was acquitted by a mostly white jury, and I don’t question the verdict. But the verdict on the media is clear:
Guilty of using lies that have evoked hatred, fomented racial unrest, sparked riots, caused property destruction, and led to innocent people’s deaths.
Guilty of gross malpractice and, by proxy, murder.
Guilty of being destroyers of civilization.
May 25, 2015
The crowd applauded the Vietnam veterans today as they marched under their own banner. It was at the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which started just over the county line and then proceeded into the City’s Borough of Queens. Even New York Mayor de Blasio was there – and on time – although he didn’t get as much applause as the Vietnam veterans. The Grand Marshall of the Parade, Army Brigadier General (ret.) Loree Sutton, M.D., New York City’s Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, got more.
Along the parade route on Northern Boulevard, there was a man who showed me his old World War II small military truck, the size of a pickup, parked in a gas station. Last night his daughter had painted "Air Engineer, 310th Bomb Wing” just above the front grill in honor of someone he knew who served in that unit in World War II. He explained to me how the truck had later been given to the Dutch in Europe and he had seen an ad for it after it somehow came back to America. He bought it and explained how he had restored two of the old wooden compartments along the outside border of the flatbed and had painted the old Dodge which he was able to drive to the parade because it was still in good (enough) condition.
What makes a man want to go to such efforts? I didn’t ask him, as the parade was starting, but I suspect if we had had a couple of beers together, he would have told me that he didn’t want the memory of what the Air Corps veterans did in that war to be forgotten. Similar vehicles can be found at museums, but he was holding on to his for now. He had also persuaded the widow of the air engineer from the 310th Bomb Wing to give him a bunch of old photos of the war that she wanted to throw out. This is a man who clearly wanted to preserve a piece of the history that this truck represents. The 310thBomb Group, based in the blazing heat of North Africa, flew to the Naples, the beaches of Anzio and the freezing mountains of Northern Italy – and also attacked Axis shipping in the Mediterranean. They were the first American bomber group to complete 500 missions in Europe during World War II. http://57thbombwing.com/310thHistory.php
There were a number of first responder units that marched in the parade. The bagpipers from both the NY City Fire and Police Department marched in this parade. There were a string of fire trucks from the nearby town of Manhasset, Long Island. Although their fire department is all volunteer, it looked like half or more of their vehicles were in the parade. A woman from that town, sitting next to me on the running board of an old Army vehicle, explained to me that they had left some fire units behind – and I remarked that it was also just a short ride if the trucks in the parade were called to a fire by radio dispatch. I’m sure that a number of all the first responders were veterans continuing their service, now to their communities. In fact, one man who stood in front of the gas station on Northern Boulevard watching the parade had on the uniform of a Long Island Fire Department – and a Vietnam Veteran’s cap.
A number of school groups, including high school bands and ROTC units were in the parade. One high school group marched with a flag that had flown over the USS Cole, the Navy destroyer that was badly damaged by a small boat-borne bomb blast in Yemen in the year 2000, a blast that killed 17 and injured 39 crew members. The USS Cole was able to be repaired and is still under sail today, having come into the Staten Island Homeport for last year’s New York Fleet Week. And today those high school students honored the dead and wounded from the attack almost fifteen years ago.
And I want to briefly say something about the ethnic composition of the parade. They weren’t all Celtic bagpipers. There were groups representing those of Korean, black, Italian and Native American heritages who marched this Memorial Day in Little Neck. And there were individuals, both in the march (as officials) and along the parade route, coming from many of the other groups that make up the New York area population.
The Parade ended roughly a mile and quarter from the start with a ceremonial folding of an American flag in the St. Anastasia’s Church parking lot and the presentation there of awards and the acknowledgement of honorees.
Walking from the Little Neck Long Island Railroad station the twelve blocks or so to the parade, I saw every private house along the street had a small American flag placed in the ground at the curb, probably put there by some volunteer organization. Some houses also had their own large American flag flying from their porch. In other parts of Queens, I’ve seen American flags but not on every single lawn or apartment house.
In a far northern corner of New York’s borough of Queens, a group of dedicated organizers, marchers, and spectators kept the memory of what our veterans have done – and sacrificed – alive. They didn’t fix the VA Hospital System this day – but they inspired citizens and their families to value the cause of our military and our veterans. And that helps to keep the flame alive.
Dana Mathewson has this addition:
In the Memorial Day parades in our town, there was one veteran who was a returned POW, almost (but not quite) totally blind due to the treatment our "boys" received at the hands of the Japanese, who marched alongside the others in the parades and kept position by virtue of holding one end of a rod, the other end held by another veteran. This man ran a hobby shop in town and my father bought for me a number of model airplanes there over the years, getting excellent advice on them from the owner. He knew where everything was in the shop and the only help he needed from customers was for them to tell him the denomination of the currency they handed him. In the 1950's even people of both political persuasions would have been basically honest, except for the labor union officers -- a far cry from today!)
Yes, it's true; "Official" (mainline) Christianity is dying, or at least it's not growing. If you don't believe me, go into almost any representatve "standard denomination" church on a normal Sunday and sit through a service. Especially, listen to the sermon, or whatever goes on during the time normally earmarked for a sermon. You might get an actual sermon, but you might be more apt to get a feel-good speech -- or even a Ted Talks video.
May 24, 2015
Why Official Christianity Is Dying
Moses declared that it is man alone who can and must merit his own salvation. - Outreach Judaism
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. - Federalist Paper #51
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. - Mark Twain
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – John Adams
Christianity is not dead. If the churches will not teach grace, home churches will. Hopefully, the Republic will prosper as a result.
I should just like to add that my wife's and my music ministry often takes us into black churches, where none of this appears to be a problem. And no, we have never encountered the equivalent of "Rev." Jeremiah Wright. In my humble opinion, if Christianity is to be saved, it will be the black pastors and their churches who will be in the forefront leading the charge.
May 24, 2015
The websites are full of the news that Ann Meara, the wife of Jerry Stiller (and his comedy act partner for many years), and also the mother of Ben Stiller recently passed away.
In the 1980s, I used to go sometimes to Catch a Rising Star in New York to see comedy acts. Even established stars like Stiller & Meara tried out their new material there. One night Ann Meara, a tall, strong woman, was walking out of the club and hit me hard with her hip causing me to stumble to the side. A few weeks later, I saw her husband, Jerry Stiller, in the club and complained to him.
Me: "Jerry, your wife was here and walking by, she nearly knocked me on my ass."
Jerry: "She does that to me every night."
And then I laughed.
Rest in Peace, Ann. And may your mourning not be too painful, Jerry and Ben.
May 22, 2015
I sent the following email to the RNC and also by USPS to Reince Priebus. Of all the absurdities involving the GOP, the failure to understand that Obama allowed Iraq to become the ISIS disaster of today and should be so recognized both historically and politically is beyond imagination. I now know of three key conservative leaders who have openly stated the same position contained in the following email being Krauthammer, Hannity, and Ann Coulter.
On my part, next is a USPS letter to the Washington offices of the Pennsylvania nationally elected officials. I WOULD ENCOURAGE ANYONE WHO IS WILLING TO CONTACT ANY AND ALL GOP LEADERSHIP CONCERNING WHAT APPEARS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT BLUNDERS IN GOP HISTORY.
From: Bill Been
Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2015 7:57 PM
Subject: Megan Kelly Question to Jeb Bush
To: Anybody That Will Listen
From William E. Been
What is wrong with the Republicans at all levels that are tripping all over a question asked about whether "knowing what you know now" would you have gone into the war with Iraq? I have been waiting for someone to give the correct answer for two days before sending this email. The answer is very simply NO, and anyone who knows what has transpired would also say NO! But of greater importance than the answer, the reason for the answer is blatantly clear and has nothing to do with WMD, George Bush, or any of the other activities leading up to the Iraq war. The reason is that we now KNOW that the President following George Bush withdrew ALL MILITARY TROOPS from what was clearly a fledgling government rather than providing whatever support that was necessary to grow on the success of the surge as experienced in the 2008-2009 years. Instead, a fledgling government has been allowed to fail along with the potential for developing an Iraq nation that would act as a blockage to Iran and any other form of Islamic militancy that would threaten peace in the Middle East, Israel, and the rest of the world including our homeland.
The answer is No! No! No! because Barrack Obama destroyed the success of the surge, wasted the significance of the sacrifices within our brave military, and totally squashed the hopes of the Iraqis who so proudly displayed their purple thumbs when given the opportunity to vote. Given what we know today, nobody in his right mind would start such an endeavor if the expectation were known that a subsequent American President would destroy whatever success was accomplished.
Are all Republicans afraid of Barack Obama? Afraid of the Democrats? Afraid of the Islamists? I don't want to be negative but I am starting to lose confidence in the Republicans at all levels of national leadership.
William E. Been
May 21, 2015
I wish I didn't have this scoop and things had gone somewhat differently this day, but here's what happened.
As part of the Fleet Week New York events, there were displays set up on the Hudson riverfront at Clinton Cove Park on 55th Street in Manhattan. The displays honored veterans of World War II and featuring Army veteran and famous longtime L.A. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. Competing with Lasorda for public's attention were some Navy SEALs, the gorgeous American Bombshells (www.americanbombshells.com) who perform at military bases and veterans hospitals and have even traveled to Japan, member Stephanie told me. Also there were displays of typical World War II equipment and people (I believe possible active duty service members) dressed in the uniforms of that time.
One of the set up tables belonged to Sgt. Brett D'Alessandro (ret.), US Marine Corps, who started the charity Backpacks for Life (www.Backpacksforlife.org) when the New Jersey native got back from Afghanistan and saw homeless vets on the street and wanted to help. In Sgt. D'Alessandro's own words from his website, he says:
"After returning from a 7-month tour in Afghanistan with the US Marine Corps I worked at my unit in Providence, RI for a month. One day on my way to work I saw a homeless man holding a sign that read ‘Vietnam Veteran’ and I couldn’t help but think of that man for the rest of the day. Later that afternoon I returned to my hotel and filled my backpack from my tour with warming layers, socks and t-shirts. I went back to find that man and gave him the backpack. The next morning on my way into work, I saw the man but this time with a small child wearing the backpack proudly. I stopped to say hello and the homeless man explained to me that his wife had become very sick and the warming layers were helping her tremendously. It was in this moment that I knew I wanted to help others get back on their feet and give them a second chance at life.”
END OF QUOTE
This one year old veterans' charity also gets homeless vets a temporary room where they can clean up and helps them find work.
I was hearing the Sergeant tell me all this and I showed him some of my own outreach, the half page of veterans helping veterans phone numbers I hand out on the street to homeless vets I see. http://tbirdnow.mee.nu/meeting_two_homeless_veterans_vs._mostly_just_writing_about_ptsd As we spoke about this and other related matters, a few people came up to us to talk. One person, a very old short man who I first didn't recognize, lit into Sgt. D'Alessandro, peppering him with questions about why he doesn't have a full time job. The Sergeant politely replied that he worked part time in his dad's business and did some carpentry. Standing near the old man (who I did not recognize) - and the Sergeant's mother - I found this negative pep talk to be unfair and just too much. Using my familiarity with political stories, I challenged him by saying, "Ninety-three million Americans are out of work" and "This isn't 1956 (when America had a strong industrial based economy. Come to think of it, it isn't 2007 either). It isn't that easy to get a job." The "1956" remark was also a thinly-veiled reference to the old man's age.
The old man walked about twenty feet away and I continued to talk to Sgt. D'Alessandro about how mean he was and the Sergeant said that he didn't want to fight with "the baseball coach." In that instant, I realized the old man was, in fact 87 year-old Tommy Lasorda, whose voice I recognized but whose face was more thin and haggard than in his Dodger manager days. The Dodgers website in 2008, pointed out that Lasorda was present at a Veterans Day event in Los Alamitos, California, where he said:
"I've spoken to the Air Force Academy nine times, the Naval Academy twice, to West Point twice and to the National War College," said Lasorda, proudly. "But I always feel that much better when I can talk to veterans."
END OF QUOTE
Lasorda thinks that the people serving at the service academies aren't veterans or veterans of combat? That seven year old remark, when Lasorda was around 81 years old, is an indication of ill-formed words, perhaps even ill-formed thoughts. Come to think of it, the Dodgers would have done well to edit his remarks before posting them.
A friend of mine from Los Angeles says that Lasorda was always known as a bigmouth. Yes, and you could also say that about myself. Lasorda looked very, very short. He has gone down in stature, in both senses of the word. It is easy for older people to compare veterans of today with World War II veterans. What they conveniently leave out is that a lot of brain injuries that were certain death in 1944 can be saved by a quick helicopter evacuation (not available in WWII) to a modern hospital with advanced methods of treatment.
And veterans came home to a country where everyone had someone in the services so the whole country was involved in the war effort, from serving to gathering scrap metal and aluminum foil. This was further detailed in another article of mine in 2013.
I hope this article will bring some understanding of the accomplishments and challenges of serving in the military - and the challenges to civilians to understand and respect the full dimensions of what that service can involve this Memorial Day Weekend. Sergeant D'Allesandro, when talking to Tommy Lasorda, mentioned that in the Marines, he was taught to help other Marines - and he has extending that now to all the homeless service people he met. Well Done, Marine.
May 20, 2015
American Thinker today has a story called "In Texas, black race hustlers throw white liberal under the bus" by David Paulin.
It is an account of an idealistic white liberal woman student at the University of Texas having her front door banged on and her and her black roommate encountering a belligerent black man who actually, somehow was able to show her that he had a key to the young women's apartment and, claiming to be a lawyer, he proceeded to inspect the apartment claiming a woman from South Africa would be moving into the complex within months. This lead to the police being called to the apartment - by the black roommate. At no point did the young white liberal student mention the race of the bullying party involved, as the issue was his character. Months later, the black man involved wrote an Op-Ed that ran in several newspapers that decried the blonde woman's "racism."
This crossing of normal accepted behavior - in anyone's home, be they white or black - led me to recall two incidents. The first on is detailed in the comments section after the article.
This ironic story recalls another one - somewhat less belligerent - that actually happened to me and my aging, liberal next door neighbor when a short, young black man (non-threatening and civil) was soliciting on our floor for a utility service cheaper than the main New York City Con Ed utility. Since no salespeople or charity solicitors are allowed into our apartment house, his gaining entry caused some consternation by the tenants down the end of the hall where I live. My consternation was directed largely at the young man's employer, a phone card company that had expanded into offering utility services. A while before, I had one of this company's phone cards and they "automatically," against my wishes, refilled my card with $10 or so. That resulted in me cancelling their service.
The owner and founder of this company was white and I had a lot more anger against him for now again crossing the line of allowable business practices than I did for this 20ish young man appearing on my floor and ringing doorbells.
But the takeaway was my elderly neighbor, a staunch Democrat liberal, mentioning specifically that the young man was black and sounding like a 50s Alabama woman who worked for the Bull Connor election campaign, not ashamed to voice her true feelings about a young black salesman who was a bit slick but far from being belligerent or physically threatening. She didn't have to remind me of his skin color, as I could see it as easily as she could. She, like all "good" liberals, wanted me to reinforce her prejudices which went along the lines of "separate but equal Utopias."
P.S. In my case, the police were not called but building security was tightened.
END OF QUOTE
The second personal story involves another liberal I knew who didn't appear to live up to their stated political positions.
I had gone to a neighborhood chiropractor for a number of years. At times, I had given her articles I had written with the biting conservative paragraphs removed, but this woman was fully capable of reading between the lines. I once gave her an American
Thinker piece written by someone else who lamented "Where her Democratic Party had Gone?" as it expressed shock at the recent years anti-Israel turn of her beloved old Jewish liberal institution. I also joked with her about Anthony Weiner wanting to run for Mayor and getting ready to throw his underpants into the ring.
Anyway, one day during a visit to her office, my chiropractor pointed out at the window that a restaurant across the street had a small rainbow gay rights flag in its window. She was asking me for a comment and the first thoughts that came to mind were a) if you had objections to a gay rights flag, then why did you vote for the political party that pushed for the normalization of gay culture and marriage all these years and b) so you want me, the opinionated writer, to express here objections that you have, to do your dirty work for you, as it were. What I said in reply to her pointing out the gay rights flag was the neutral statement, "They are pro-gay rights and are expressing their opinion." Apparently she believed in gay rights - just as long as she didn't have to see their signs in her neighborhood or her life. Kind of like the woman the late New York Mayor Ed Koch used to talk about who was in favor of forced busing but sent her children to an exclusive private school.
I played as coy as my chiropractor did that day. However at the end of the year, I finally expressed what I thought of her attempt to get me to crack wise about the gay rights sign. Using the (political) excuse of Obamacare raising my health insurance policy's costs, I informed my chiropractor that I would no longer be her patient.
From the conclusion of Ben Shapiro's "Barack Obama's 'Lottery Winners.'"
America does not need wealth redistribution. It needs a values conversion. No poor person has a child out of wedlock thanks to the evils of rich people. No poor person drops out of high school because a rich person forced them to do so. Poverty can sometimes be chalked up to luck on an individual level, but it can't be chalked up to luck on a mass scale. And wealth can't be chalked up to luck, either. To do so is to impoverish our own values at the expense of our future.
May 19, 2015
And by "unwarranted,” I mean in both senses of the word.
Connor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic Magazine details the problem in "How the DEA Harasses Amtrak Passengers.”
The lowlights include:
Earlier this year, Aaron Heuser of Eugene, Oregon, had to travel to Washington, D.C. The trip had two purposes: The 37-year-old mathematician was officially leaving his job at National Institutes of Health and starting a new position at a private firm. Since he is terrified of flying he booked himself a sleeper car on Amtrak. Upon reaching Reno, Nevada, there was an unexpected knock at his door. "There was a DEA badge on the window,” he said. "Having a good reason to be making this trip and being a law abiding citizen, I opened the door and politely asked if there was a problem. The officer asked if I was Aaron Heuser, and then asked to see my ticket. He then told me that there were many red flags on my trip, mainly that I had a sleeper car, was traveling alone, and did not check my luggage.”
A sleeper car is a main Amtrak product! Plenty of people travel alone! Why would anyone with a whole sleeper-car compartment to themselves go through the hassle of checking luggage?
Yet the harassment isn’t surprising.
For decades, law enforcement has tried to intercept drug couriers on Amtrak trains. These efforts have utterly failed to stop the easy availability of marijuana, cocaine, and other narcotics. Meanwhile they’ve violated the rights of countless Americans. Earlier this week, I highlighted the story of Joseph Rivers, a 22-year old black man who left his hometown in hopes of becoming a music-video producer. En route to L.A., the DEA boarded his Amtrak and seized his life savings, $16,000 in cash, even though there was apparently no evidence he’d committed a crime or possessed any drugs.
After reading my article Heuser contacted me to share his story…
"He told me that his partner could tell someone was hiding in my bathroom and wanted to check if anyone was in there,” Heuser recalls. "I told them that no police are allowed to enter, but if the conductor wants to enter and let them know that there is no one in the bathroom, it would be okay.” Minutes later, while Heuser was on his way back to his room, a DEA agent looked him in the eye and said, "You Oregonians may think that the green leafy stuff is harmless, but I know from my job that it kills people every day."
…"I found my backpack moved and open, and my wallet, which was set down on the room table, had $60 missing,” he said. "I told one of the dining car attendants that I felt Amtrak and the DEA violated my rights. She told me that Amtrak is forced to give passenger info to Feds, that the DEA comes on every trip, usually arresting someone in the sleeping car or taking all their money. When I asked for her name in case I needed it later she refused and told me Amtrak would fire her.”
END OF QUOTE
The Conclusion is the best part, from a Civil Liberties point of view:
"Some people really do try to smuggle drugs by train. Last year, for example, the DEA caught a young man concealing cocaine in a fake cast. How many innocent Americans were harassed to make that cast-sized dent in the national cocaine supply? No one knows. But if you’ve been bothered by police while not smuggling drugs aboard an Amtrak train you’re encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.”
I guess New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer doesn't realize there actually are pro-life, anti-gay marriage religious Democrats still in New York City's borough of the Bronx. Maybe Stringer has seen the 1981 movie "Fort Apache the Bronx" one too many times. And maybe he thinks Ed Asner is still a Captain in a South Bronx police precinct in State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.'s home district.
The New York Post reports that:
Bronx state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. claims city Comptroller Scott Stringer retracted a job offer to Diaz’s wife because she opposes same-sex marriage.
The accusations of intolerance and religious bias follow complaints from Leslie Diaz of her failure to secure a job in the Comptroller’s Office last year.
"After being interviewed on three different occasions by Mr. Stringer’s office, she was offered a position which she accepted, resigning from the job she held in the Bronx,” Sen. Diaz said in an e-newsletter.
"Two days before her expected start date for her new position, she got a phone call informing her that Scott Stringer had just received a copy of a video that shows Leslie standing and participating with me — her husband — at a peaceful demonstration that we held in opposition to same-sex marriage,” the state senator, who is a Pentecostal minister, added. "During that phone conversation, my wife was informed that because of that video, where we were expressing, as US citizens, our religious beliefs and our constitutional right to assemble, the comptroller rescinded his job offer.”
Diaz accused Stringer of hypocrisy for not practicing what he preaches by not respecting the rights of all New Yorkers.
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Puerto Rico-born State Senator Diaz is absolutely right. Stringer, a good limousine liberal who believes in tolerance of everyone - except those that seriously believe in Judeo-Christian values. Mr. Stringer is the former Borough President of Manhattan. His last primary election as Comptroller was against disgraced former Gov. Elliot Spitzer, a bit of good fortune for Stringer. But Mr. Stringer's years in the State Assembly did not cause him to appreciate the civil rights and employment anti-discrimination laws of New York State actually apply also to ministers' wives with strong religous convictions. To top it all off, Senator Diaz and his wife are both dark skinned and Mr. Stringer is white.
Even though Stringer is not a Republican, there are no shortage of people in New York City willing to accuse him of racism and anti-Hispanic prejudice - including. Si se puede, as Obama supporters say. Apparently Mr. Stringer thinks that he can dismiss the emotions, votes and resentments of the Hispanic community just like one of his (probable) idols, Bill Clinton, did when he sent Elian Gonzales. Maybe he should talk to President Al Gore about that.
Scott Stringer, back in 2009, was considering running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator against Kirsten Gillebrand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Stringer#United_States_Senate_consideration but Stringer reconsidered and withdrew. But that probably means he still has ambitions to run for higher office. Because of this irreconcilable conflict between elite liberal dismissal of religious values and working Hispanics embracing their faith, Mr. Stringer apparently hasn't realized he just may have to consider that U.S. Senate seat once again and perhaps take a job as an Albany or Washington lobbyist. And, like Hillary Clinton, going to eat at Chipotle won't do him much good. Besides, I believe Chipotle doesn't serve fried plantains.
Trevor Thomas has written a thoughtful piece about the latest scare headlines in the mainstream press claiming Christianity is in decline in America. I urge anyone interested in American religious life to read the entire article. Here is the link and some major quotes.
May 19, 2015
How to Kill Christianity
Much has been made of the recent Pew poll that highlights America’s religious landscape. What has drawn the most attention is the apparent decline of Christianity in the U.S. "The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining,” began the piece. Many liberals took gleeful notice. The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Mark Tooley noted, "Secularists and their fellow travelers are ecstatic. The secular utopia about which John Lennon crooned is impending. Christianity is finally dying!”
Of course, this is far from the case, as Tooley later reveals. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, points out that it’s not Christianity that’s dying, but rather "near Christianity” that is teetering. "Good riddance,” Moore concludes.
The denominations that have lost the most "near Christians” are Catholic and Mainline Protestant. According to the Washington Times, "for every person who joined the Roman Catholic Church, six others were departing.” Additionally, in the last 50 years, the proportion of Americans belonging to one of the "Seven Sisters of Mainline Protestantism” has plummeted from one in six to one in sixteen...
So this begs the question, why have the Catholic Church and Mainline Protestantism seen such a collapse? Moore reveals the answer when he notes that, what the Pew poll really reveals is that we have "fewer incognito atheists” in America. "Those who don’t believe can say so -- and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of ‘Christianity’ that is a means to an end -- even if that end is ‘traditional family values’ -- is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called ‘liberalism,’ and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.”
Of course, it would be the denominations most infected with liberalism (Is there anything liberalism can’t corrupt?) that have seen the most decline. As Tooley put it, "Mainline Protestantism lost its way when it forgot how to balance being American and being Christian, choosing American individualism and self-made spirituality over classical Christianity. Nearly all mainline seminaries had embraced modernism by the 1920s, rejecting the supernatural in favor of metaphorized faith integrated with sociology and political revolution.”
...Unsurprisingly, it’s heretics such as these who’ve overseen such a precipitous decline in their denominations. After all, who wants to attend a church that rejects the supernatural and offers little more than worn-out platitudes and self-help advice? Who wants to attend a church that doesn’t talk about the forgiveness of sin (much less the existence of sin) and the hope of eternal life? Instead of pointing people to eternal truths, these liberal congregations have concerned themselves with "social activism.”
To a significant extent, the same thing has happened to the Catholic Church in the U.S. Though the American Catholic Church, unlike most of her liberal Protestant counterparts, has (for the most part) opposed abortion, same-sex "marriage,” and the rest of the radical sexual agenda of the left, sadly many Catholics have been all too willing to use big government activism as a substitute for charity...By and large, the churches that are growing in the U.S. are those that unapologetically present the truth. Of course, a large or a growing church isn’t always a measure of a healthy and holy church, but when one is sincerely seeking the spiritual truths that we all at one time or another crave, most of us "seekers” know the truth when we hear it and see it. This doesn’t mean that the majority of us will embrace such truths. Jesus Himself warned us that this would not be the case.
Don’t be surprised to see the decline of Christianity continue. As it becomes more difficult and dangerous to be a follower of Christ, more and more people are going to find the "wide road” described by Jesus quite appealing. This is especially the case when so-called "Christians” are pointing the way.
Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
May 17, 2015
Yes, here's the biggest non-surprise of the year. Gateway Pundit has just begun to uncover this situation.
And an interesting quote:
It’s widely known thatFerguson activists were flown to New York City, Wisconsin, and even the West Bank to spread racial hatred.
By Alan Caruba
It looks like the White House is finally going to announce policy recommendations from the Pollinator Task Force it appointed a year ago. The lengthy delay appears to result from inconvenient facts getting in the way of its "bee apocalypse” and "dangerous pesticides” narrative. A growing body of research has found that the honeybees which pollinate so many crops have recovered from the various diseases that had been decimating some colonies … and are actually doing quite well now. Other research demonstrates that the neonicotinoid pesticides are actually very safe to use – for honeybees and other beneficial insects, as well as for humans and the environment, though not for harmful insects that feed on food crops.
But environmentalist have been clamoring and campaigning for years to get tough restrictions, or an outright ban, on using neonics. They are not about to let facts get in the way of their agenda. So they have invented a new "looming crisis.” Now they claim the pesticides could be a threat to WILD bees. This con might work, because there is so little data about population trends among the many species of wild bees, though what information is available suggests that wild bees are doing OK too.
My article presents the facts on these fake crises.
Bee facts changed – green agendas did not
Activists and White House appear ready to present new justifications for unjustified policies
The White House finally appears ready to announce conclusions and policy recommendations from the Pollinator Task Force it appointed a year ago. Environmentalist groups eagerly await the decision. After clamoring and campaigning for years for government action, they hope to get tough restrictions on using innovative new insecticides called neonicotinoids.
Agricultural interests await the decision with trepidation. A ban or broad restrictions would cost billions of dollars annually, force them to employ pesticides that are more difficult to use and more toxic for beneficial insects, and compel them to confront more secretive government "science” and faulty justifications for policies that are not supported by the evidence.
The deadline imposed by President Obama’s task force memo passed months ago, and yet the White House has been strangely silent on the issue of pesticides and honeybee health. What initially looked like an easy lame-duck giveaway to green groups has turned out to be factually complicated.
Long before the White House weighed in, anti-insecticide activists promoted claims that honeybees were headed for extinction because of pesticides, specifically neonics – unless the government banned them. Time magazine picked up their refrain, devoting a long cover story to the scary prospect of "a world without bees.” Other news stories uncritically repeated the end-of-bees assertions. One-third of the food we eat could disappear without bees to pollinate crops, they proclaimed. But there was a problem.
The narrative turned out to be false, extensive evidence now demonstrates – and inconvenient truths had gotten in the way of another slam-dunk Executive Branch edict.
Neonicotinoids are actually much less toxic for bees, other insects, humans and animals than alternative pesticides, in part because they are primarily used to coat seeds. The neonics become part of the plant’s tissue structure and defense system, affecting only pests that feed on the protected crops. Farmers can greatly reduce pesticide spraying, especially with older, more toxic chemicals.
Field studies have repeatedly shown that bees are unaffected by neonics at real-world exposure levels. In fact, bees thrive in canola (oilseed rape) fields and other crops grown with neonic-treated seeds, and the number of bees has been rising steadily worldwide the past few years, even as neonic usage peaked.
U.S. Department of Agriculture annual beekeeper surveys reveal that the number of honey-producing hives in the United States has held steady at about 2.5 million since 1995. Indeed, the numbers increased four of the last five years and are actually higher now than when neonics first came on the market in the mid 1990s. Most beehive problems now involve less experienced hobby beekeepers.
A similarly hyped issue, "colony collapse disorder,” turned out to be a cyclical problem going back centuries. Recent large-scale die-offs of domesticated bees appear to be caused primarily by Varroa mites (which feed on bees and can transmit bee viruses and diseases), parasitic phorid flies, Nosema intestinal fungi, and tobacco ringspot viruses. Beekeepers have accidentally killed entire hives trying to combat these problems.
Honeybee habitat loss from urban, suburban and even agricultural development has also taken a toll. Just removing fences, to improve agricultural efficiencies and let cattle roam and feed, reduces bee forage and nutrition, increasing bees’ susceptibility to mites, disease and stress, entomologist and professional beekeeper Randy Oliver told me.
But facts like these never stopped organizations like Beyond Pesticides and the Natural Resources Defense Council from claiming America and the world faced a "bee-pocalypse” – never because of a convergence of problems; always because of their newest bogeyman: neonicotinoids. The facts likewise never stopped the White House from telling the EPA to scrutinize neonics intently, in the name of protecting pollinators.
Eventually, though, the facts caught up with the fear-mongering. As journalists wrote articles exposing the environmentalist falsehoods, the "honeybee Armageddon” justification began falling apart.
The White House and Big Green pressure groups did not want egg on their face. What to do? The preferred tactic: postpone the task force report and stall for time to concoct a new fable. It had worked before on other issues. A compliant, allied media and gullible public should make it work again.
The anti-pesticide groups used the postponement to switch their rationale for restricting neonics. Instead of critical threats to managed honeybees, they now say it is native or wild bees that need help. The shift reflects a shrewd, cynical calculation.
Since there are far fewer studies on the status of wild bee populations, activists can make any claims they like. As the NRDC’s Jennifer Sass said in November 2014, environmentalist groups can only "presume” that wild bees are in decline. But they sure know how to get ample press coverage for their presumption.
They, the White House and EPA need to check their facts this time. U.S. Geological Survey wild bee specialist Sam Droege says scientists still don’t know which species are declining or flourishing, but he believes most are doing fine. (There are some 4,000 native species of wild bees in North America.) Similarly, a 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed U.S. native bee populations over a 140-year period and echoed that assessment. Of 187 native species analyzed, only three showed steep declines, and they were likely due to pathogens.
This may be why anti-pesticide activists are simultaneously employing another new tactic. By combining summer and winter bee losses, they can make it look like the honeybee crisis is worsening, as a May 14 Wall Street Journal article put it. This stratagem also benefits from the fact that summertime loss data go back only five years, so there is no way to look for historical trends or patterns.
The White House would do well to leave science to experts, rather than activists with an ax to grind. If bee numbers are increasing, it is much harder to justify restricting a pesticide that is needed by farmers – and that would be much better for honeybees, wild bees and other beneficial insects.
As Randy Oliver emphasizes, it is important to let science do its job, figure out and address what is really happening to bees, use all insecticides carefully and responsibly, and not stigmatize neonic seed treatments on ideological or junk science grounds.
Otherwise, bee problems are likely to get worse, while neonic bans cause crop losses and a return to spraying pesticides that really can cause significant environmental problems.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: To save the world from the save-the-earth money machine.
© May 15, 2015
May 16, 2015
Here's the answer to Democrats charges that the crash was the Republican Congress's fault for not giving more money to the "wisely spending" Amtrak. He left some Obama temp flunkie in charge, a woman with no railroad experience, a former Facebook executive. And Obama just might decide to Unfriend her if the political heat gets to strong.
The country "hobo" singer Boxcar Willie would make a better railroad commissioner than this Sarah Fienberg.
Obama Failed to Appoint Railroad Chief
President Barack Obama has failed to nominate a leader for the Federal Railroad Administration for 127 days and counting, a vacancy that experts say could hamper the federal response to the accident that killed eight people and injured more than 200 others...
The agency’s acting chief, Sarah Feinberg, is a former Facebook executive and ex-aide to Rahm Emanuel who has close ties to the White House and much popularity on the Hill — but little substantial railroad experience.
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