March 29, 2016
In the â€˜70's British sci-fi comedy "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" the interstellar government was ruled over by a two-headed alien named Zaphod Beeblebrox. http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Zaphod_Beeblebrox Beeblebrox was elected President not because of his serious mind or his experience or capabilities but because the Presidency of the Galaxy was decided on popularity, rather like a prom-king, and Beeblebrox, a rather dull-witted "extreme" screwball, captured the imagination of a majority of voters. One of his acts as President was to steal an experimental starship he was christening.
Advanced technology had turned politics into purely a form of entertainment.
Now. this was a work of fiction, but Douglass Adams, creator of the Hitchhiker series, clearly saw the way the wind was blowing; modern technology was elevating the cult of celebrity, making positions of high profile such as the Presidency increasingly about appearances and media savvy to a happily ill-informed voting public.
It should come as no surprise that the types of people going into public service today are quite different than a hundred years ago. The 20th century saw huge leaps in the way people get their information, with first radio then television and now the internet replacing the old ink-on-paper and public speaking. Couple that with the increase in pure democracy, where more and more people have the vote and are encouraged to exercise it - whether they know anything about the issues or not - all but guaranteed the rise of the "celebrity politician", the public servant who looks good on camera, whose life is interesting and exciting, whose views on issues can best be described as variations on those held by the crowd. As Rush Limbaugh says, politics is show biz for the ugly.
Except that really isn't true anymore, either; politics is as much about looks as anything. We saw that in the election of 1960 where the eminently qualified former Vice President Richard Nixon lost to a less qualified pretty boy named John Kennedy largely based on his physical appearance during the debate. Appearances matter, and with the coming of the 24 hour news cycle and the endless analysis on the internet they matter more now than ever. So, too, does celebrity appeal, being "cool". Politics has turned into hipster theatre.
Many of our greatest presidents would never be elected today. Would toothless George Washington? Tiny little James Madison? Abraham Lincoln, who, when accused of being two-faced made the plaintive rejoinder "If I had another face would I wear this one?" None of these men had the glamour of celebrity about them.
America's first truly Beeblebrox President was William Jefferson Clinton. He was young, hip, cool, unserious. He played the saxophone and went on popular entertainment shows. He loved the camera and the microphone (indeed, he had to be virtually dragged off stage at the 1988 Democratic Convention http://www.salon.com/2012/07/30/when_bill_clinton_died_on_stage/ leading to an appearance with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.) He admitted to smoking doobies. He was notorious for his sexual misconduct; his own wife had to head up a "bimbo eruption squad" to silence women Bill had used and discarded. Most of his supporters could not tell you what his policy positions were; they loved him because he was the national prom king http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/The-nation-s-prom-king-3051946.php. Clinton's appeal came through the popular culture.
One of the puzzling things about Clinton was that his poll numbers rose when he was at the peak of his many scandals. It was no coincidence that Clinton's popularity grew when he did stupid or embarrassing - even criminal - things. He went from a job approval of 50% in his first term to an average of 61% in his second, with his high peaking at 73% in December of 1998, the peak of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The more degenerate and flawed Clinton was shown to be the more popular he became. http://www.gallup.com/poll/116584/presidential-approval-ratings-bill-clinton.aspx
This was the era of Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer, and other ugly parodies of American life. Television was riddled with deviancy, and the public could not tell the difference between what the President was doing and what they saw on "reality" television. What they did know was that Bill Clinton made them comfortable with their own sins.
You could never have had Bill Clinton prior to the era of wall-to-wall electronic media.
Which brings us to the election of 2016. On the one hand the public is furious with the elites from both parties, who made an unspoken deal with them decades ago; they would be allowed to run things provided they did so fairly well and remembered the people who allowed it. The increasingly insular nature of the ruling class and the declining fortunes of the flyover public under the current tutelage of those elites has infuriated people on both sides of the political divide. The elite grow richer and more powerful these days while the flyover people find themselves poorer and less respected. The elites, determined to liberate themselves from the plebeian class, are bringing in hordes of immigrants to take jobs and form new voting blocks. (One in five people in the U.S. were born outside of the country if you count illegal aliens, and 20% of households do not speak English at home. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/6/one-in-five-in-us-dont-speak-english-at-home-repor/?page=all) Job growth is taken entirely by aliens, meaning that unemployed and underemployed Americans cannot find good jobs. All of this has led to an election cycle driven by anger, and there is a strong push to find someone outside of the power structure, someone who will make a fresh start.
Enter Donald J. Trump. Trump is actually very much an insider in the power structure, but he has his own money and so is not beholden to the political machine. More than that, Trump is the equivalent of a Kardashian or Paris Hilton; a celebrity who has become famous for, well, being a celebrity. Trump is well known for, uh, somewhat sleazy undertakings. He builds casinos and brothels. He makes dubious land deals, often stealing the property of those of modest means through eminent domain. He has been married multiple times. He has fame from his reality television show. He is, in short, the perfect candidate for 21st century America; a man not of substance but of image, a man who can make Americans comfortable with their own shortcomings.
In short, Trump's appeal is very much like that of William Jefferson Clinton's. People are eager to hear what will come out of his mouth next, as they were eager for the next Clinton scandal. As with Clinton they were willing to excuse almost everything because "that's our boy!" Like Clinton, Trump is forgiven his mistakes because he reminds the public of their own weaknesses. He's the creation of the modern electronic age, as surely as was Bill. Even his bad hair can be forgiven, a cosmetic blemish to remind us that we ourselves have little flaws we want to hide.
That Trump is saying the right things helps a lot. Trump, like Clinton, is ready to fight to the death. He is not one to roll over.
Americans love a fighter.
Oh, and did I mention Trump is saying the right things? People are desperate for what Trump is peddling. People are sick of political correctness, and Trump is smashing that. They are sick of studied, careful politics. They want a regular guy, not a carefully crafted CGI image. Trump speaks extemporaneously. Trump is promising what politicians have become too worldly to offer; he wants America to be great again, to win.
His appeal is across the spectrum.
"clever, imaginative, irresponsible, untrustworthy, extrovert, nothing you couldn't have guessed".
That was the description of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the Big Z, Galactic ex-President. It could easily fit Bill Clinton, or Donald J. Trump, could it not? By the way, the purpose of the Galactic President was to draw attention away from the true rulers. It makes one wonder if Trump is really as despised by the Establishment as they would have us believe. Certainly Trump has stopped Ted Cruz - an even more despised candidate - from walking away with this and the Establishment has railed against Trump despite the fact that his support grows with every attack. If Karl Rove and company REALLY wanted Trump to disappear they would have simply ignore him. I think they are smart enough to know that.
I am not saying we will be getting a second Bill Clinton; Trump appears to be faithful to his wife until he is not, unlike Mr. Clinton whose infidelity was the cornerstone of his marriage. He may be shallow, vain, vulgar, but at least he won't be dropping trou in the Oval Office or using those newly available Cuban cigars in a manner never intended by God or Fidel Castro. And one never knows; perhaps he will find something noble within himself. He is, at any rate, a better man than Hillary.
Read more from Tim at www.tbirdnow.mee.nu
Georgiaâ€™s Republican governor stunned the stateâ€™s religious community Monday by vetoing legislation that would have protected preachers who refuse to perform LGBT marriages.
A NOTE FROM TIM:
The Republican governor is Nathan Deal. If he won't protect the First Amendment I say Deal him out! This guy should be primaried.
A NOTE FROM JACK:
This is serious stuff. This is an attack on the First Amendment.
This could result in a case going to the Supreme Ct. It is totally like Mexico in the 1920s when the socialists tried to outlaw Catholicism, as seen in the 2012 movie "For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada."
AND THIS FROM fAY vOSHELL
Matt Walsh on the subject:
Pay Attention, Christians. Theyâ€™re Coming After The Churches Now.
March 28, 2016
Apparently the Hadron Super Collider breeds homophobia. Enough so, in fact, that many liberal news outlets are calling it the Large Homophobic Collider. I didn't know physics or research tools were either gay or discriminatory.
From The Reference Frame:
To make the story short, the reason is that at least one employer of CERN â€“ Aidan Randle-Conde (whose name has appeared on TRF many times, e.g. here where I couldn't agree about his tirade against combos) â€“ has been whining that not every other employee of CERN has been taking his posters promoting assorted sodomy festivals seriously. Someone wrote "Schwein" (or a logo of a pig) and even a quote from the Bible on his posters. It's an unacceptable campaign of hate and intolerance, Aidan whines.
You know, there is a question whether any solidly non-scientific posters (posters promoting any parties, for example) should be allowed at places that belong to the whole CERN, a research organization. But if organizers of LGBT parties such as Aidan are allowed to add posters, it's obvious that those who think or realize that LGBT is a deviation â€“ and the Christians in particular â€“ must be allowed to do the same. It's imaginable that people agree that Aidan has the right to place LGBT posters on the CERN notice boards. But he clearly can't have a monopoly over these notice boards.
Organizing LGBT parties and inviting the CERN community to them is a highly controversial thing. If you're not capable of dealing with the controversy, with the fact that billions of people on Earth and thousands of CERN employees consider you a pig â€“ and most of the latter just politely stay silent as long as you avoid active provocations â€“ then you simply shouldn't do such things. You shouldn't provoke because by the third Newton's law, actions produce reactions.
Surely quotes from the Bible, a book defining our civilization, haven't become less kosher than festivals of sodomy, have they? Sometimes, I am not sure about the answer anymore. A black Christian graduate student who wrote the same verse from Leviticus ("If a man lies with a male as with a womanâ€¦ they shall surely be put to death") on his private Facebook page was recently expelled from Sheffield University. I agree with 90+ percent of the British commenters over there who think that this terror against the Christian is unacceptable. Some of them point out that even the fact that the university was apparently checking his personal Facebook page is absolutely sick.
Funny how this sort of thing goes one way; if you oppose promoting something that is protected by political correctness you are a bigot/homophobe/Nazi whereas you can insult a Christian or devout Jew all day long.
Like most environmental scares, the controversy over honeybees, neonicotinoid pesticides and a potential "bee-pocalypseâ€ has always sounded at least somewhat plausible. But like most, in the end, this one too turns out to be highly exaggerated, if not manufactured out of thin air and of course promoted to drive the usual anti-pesticide, anti-technology agendas â€“ while generating more income, power and influence for Big Green activist groups.
My article this week explores recent scientific findings on large-scale beehive die-offs. It delves deeply into the complicated pantheon of pests that are actually affecting bee health â€¦ explains why environmentalist claims still dominate many news stories â€¦ and underscores why honest, replicable science needs to replace the politicized version that has been driving public policy for too many years.
What happened on Oahu didnâ€™t stay on Oahu
Scientific detective work stopped cholera â€“ now it needs to separate myths, mites and neonics
If modern activist groups held sway in the mid-nineteenth century, countless multitudes would have died from typhoid fever and cholera. The "miasmaâ€ paradigm held that the diseases were caused by foul air arising from putrid matter â€“ and only dogged scientific work by William Budd, John Snow and others finally convinced medical and health authorities that the agent was lethal organisms in drinking water.
Ultimately, the investigatorsâ€™ persistence led to discoveries of Vibrio and Salmonella bacteria, the use of chlorine-based disinfectants for drains, water purification and hand washing, programs that kept sewage away from drinking water supplies, and steady advances in germ and virus theories of medicine.
Parallels exist today, with activist politics driving the science, rather than solid science guiding informed public policy decisions. One such arena is neonicotinoid pesticides and large-scale bee deaths.
Europeans introduced domesticated honeybees to North America in the early 1600s. They helped foster phenomenal growth in important food crops like tomatoes and almonds. Indeed, over 60% of all U.S. beehives are needed each spring just to pollinate Californiaâ€™s extensive almond groves. By contrast, staples like wheat, rice, corn and most citrus fruits do not require animal pollination at all (by bees, hummingbirds, hover flies, butterflies and bats); these crops are self-pollinating or wind-pollinated.
Commercial beekeeping grew steadily, and today about 1% of all beekeepers manage nearly 80% of the 2.7 million U.S. honeybee colonies. The system generally functioned well until 1987, when a vicious new pest arrived. As the appropriately named Varroa destructor mite spread, beekeepers began reporting major to total losses of bees in Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin hives in spring 2006, and later in Florida, the Dakotas, southern states, both U.S. coasts, Europe and elsewhere.
Dubbed "colony collapse disorderâ€ (CCD), the problem led to scarifying news stories about a "bee-pocalypseâ€ and the imminent demise of modern agriculture. However, inexplicable bee colony losses had been reported in 1898, 1903, the 1960s and 1970s â€“ even as far back as 940 AD in Ireland!
Explanations included an undefined "disappearing disease,â€ organophosphate pesticides, cell phone towers, GM crops that embed Bt insect killers in their genetic makeup, climate change (of course), and even a lack of "moral fiberâ€ in bees http://paradigmsanddemographics.blogspot.com/2014/12/presidential-pollinator-protection.html, Paradigms and Demographics blogspot editor Rich Kozlovich notes. A psychic, he adds, claimed she was communicating with domesticated bees, who told her they were tired of being enslaved by humans and were leaving their hives to protest their crowded, inhumane conditions!
Mounting evidence suggests that todayâ€™s die-offs are primarily due to Varroa mites, along with parasitic phorid flies, Nosema fungal parasites, the tobacco ringspot virus â€“ and even beekeepers misusing or over-using pesticides in hives to control disease outbreaks, by killing tiny bugs on little bees.
However, anti-pesticide activists and some news stories continue to blame colony deaths and other bee problems on neonicotinoid insecticides. This new class of chemicals protects crops primarily (97% of the time) by coating seeds, letting plants incorporate the pesticide into their leaves and stems, to target insects that feed on them, without harming beneficial bugs. The regular rotation of different neonic products is also the only means currently available to kill the Asian psyllids that spread "citrus greening diseaseâ€ (HLB), which is decimating citrus groves in Florida and is now spreading to Texas and California groves.http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-citrus-industry-epa-102715-20151026-story.html
This is where solid scientific detective work becomes vital. Without it, the wrong conclusions are drawn, the wrong "solutionsâ€ are applied, and the unintended consequences can be serious. For example, banning neonics will likely mean farmers are forced to use insecticides that truly are dangerous for bees.
Over the past 50 years, Varroa mites have killed off millions of honeybee colonies around the world, scientists note. Among the diseases the mites carry is deformed wing virus, which results in short, twisted or otherwise deformed and useless wings. Like many other viral infections, DWV had long been present in hives, but was generally considered harmless before Varroa became ubiquitous. Disease-carrying mites bite through the beesâ€™ hard shell (exoskeleton) and inject viruses and infections directly into the bee blood (hemolymph). The mitesâ€™ saliva also carries an enzyme that compromises the beesâ€™ immune systems, making the diseases far more toxic. Modern transportation methods disperse the problems far and wide.
Making the beekeepersâ€™ challenge even more daunting, female Varroas often lay eggs in the same hexagonal beehive cells where the queen lays newly fertilized eggs, before worker bees "capâ€ the incubator cells. New honeybees then emerge with an infected mite already attached. And to top it off:
Trying to kill vicious bugs you canâ€™t even see, in a box filled with some 40,000 buzzing bees that you donâ€™t want to hurt, using chemicals that could easily become toxic â€“ and that the Varroa mites quickly become resistant to â€“ is a devilishly complicated business, beekeepers like Randy Oliver attest. In fact, they are already on their third generation of miticides, and Varroa have become resistant to all of them. So the battle rages on, as pesticide companies again try to gain the upper hand against the crafty pests.
Varroa was discovered on Oahu in August 2007. By spring 2008, 274 of 419 honeybee colonies on Oahu had collapsed, and wild bees had disappeared from its urban areas. Despite quarantine measures, by late 2010 the mite spread throughout the island of Hawaii. Now even effective Varroa control cannot eradicate DWV, since the disease is in their hemolymph and transmitted through feeding and sexual activity.
Studies in the United Kingdom and New Zealand found similar mite, DWV infection and CCD patterns.
Another nasty plague on honeybee houses involves parasitic phorid flies, which have now been found in California, Vermont and South Dakota hives. The flies stab bee abdomens and lay their eggs inside. When they hatch, fly larvae attack the beesâ€™ bodies and brains, disorienting them and causing them to fly in circles and at night â€“ giving rise to stories about zombie bees, or "zombees.â€ As the larvae mature into new flies, they exit the bees at their necks, decapitating them. Not surprisingly, phorid flies also carry DWV, Nosema parasites and other bee diseases.
Meanwhile, in the real world where bees interact with nature, agriculture and pesticides (rather than with artificial laboratory conditions and egregious over-exposure to those pesticides), multiple studies in Canadian and other countriesâ€™ canola and corn fields have concluded that neonicotinoids do not harm bees when used properly. https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/03/01/bee-health-update-latest-field-studies-conclude-neonicotinoids-not-key-problem/ And in equally good news, U.S. Department of Agriculture, StatsCanada, EU and UN data show that bee populations have been increasing over the past several years, with American and Canadian colony totals reaching their highest levels in a decade or more.
And yet, news stories still say neonics threaten domesticated and wild bees with zombee-ism and extinction. Thatâ€™s partly because anti-pesticide groups are well funded, well organized, sophisticated in public relations, and aided by journalists who are lazy, gullible, believe the activist claims and support their cause, or simply live by the mantra "if it bleeds, it leads.â€ A phony bee-pocalypse sells papers.
The activists employ Saul Alinsky tactics to achieve political goals by manipulating science. They select and vilify a target. Devise a "scientific studyâ€ that predicts a public health disaster. Release it to the media, before honest scientists can analyze and criticize it. Generate "newsâ€ stories featuring emotional headlines and public consternation. Develop a Bigger Government "solution,â€ and intimidate legislators and regulators until they impose it. Pressure manufacturers to stop making and selling the product.
Too often, the campaigns are accompanied by callous attitudes about the unintended consequences. If banning neonics means older, more toxic pesticides kill millions of bees, so be it. If a DDT ban gives environmentalists more power and influence, millions of children and parents dying from malaria might be an acceptable price; at least they wonâ€™t be exposed to exaggerated or fabricated risks from DDT.
When activism and politics drives science, both science and society pay dearly. The stakes are too high, for wildlife and people, to let this continue. The perpetrators must be outed and defanged.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power â€“ Black death.
March 25, 2016
This is what happens when the liberals take over.
Colorado School District to Begin Distribution of Satanic Materials to Children
After coming under fire from atheist groups for the distribution of free Bibles, the Delta County School District (DCSD) has approved the circulation of atheistic, secular and Satanic literature to middle and high school students. Several atheist organizations, including The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) and the Satanic Temple, applied to distribute their literature as a challenge to the school districtâ€™s "open forumâ€ policy
What ARE we coming to?
A 12-year-old girl was arrested and booked into juvenile detention after she allegedly pinched a boyâ€™s butt in school during what she called a popular game at her Florida school.
America to Establishment: Who the hell are you people ?
By David Lightman
The people who spend two bucks for chili at the Courtesy Diner at Laclede Station Road canâ€™t fathom why anyone would pay Hillary Clinton $225,000 to make a speech.
Nor can they understand why the U.S. Senate is taking a 17-day break for Easter after spending much of their time last week fuming over the Supreme Court vacancy. Somehow, people all over America are saying loudly and clearly this election year, Washington and its enablers â€“ the media, the political pros and Wall Street â€“ donâ€™t understand us.
Thatâ€™s why, all over this slice of middle America, exasperated people got up before dawn on a cold, 37-degree morning recently to spend four hours in a line so long that from its end people couldnâ€™t even see the Peabody Opera House, where they would hear Donald Trump. And it wasnâ€™t just Trump. In the next two days, other folks nearby lined up to hear the outsider talk from Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt.
They share the same grievance. In 2016 America, the deepest divide is not between Democrats and Republicans. Itâ€™s not even between conservatives and liberals. Itâ€™s between Us and Them â€“ the people versus The Establishment.
In dozens of interviews, in a cross section of the country, the sentiments were the same.
"Theyâ€™re political bureaucrats who would like to control the people,â€ said Sandy Garber, a St. Charles real estate agent, when asked to define the establishment.
John Hackmann, a Fairview Heights, Ill., retiree, labeled it a "Washington cartel.â€
"They just let the government do whatever they want,â€ said Jim Walker, an Arnold, Mo., businessman.
What is the establishment? Nationally, eight in 10 people told a McClatchy-Morning Consult poll this month it includes members of Congress. Similar numbers cited the Democratic and Republican parties, political donors, Wall Street bankers and the mainstream media.
END OF QUOTE
A NOTE FROM TIM:
I OUGHT to be able to comment on the Courtesy Diner. The one in Maplewood just opened about a year ago; it's the third store in the chain. The first is only about a mile from my house in South St. Louis, and it has been there since I was a child and would visit my grandparents, who lived just a block from the restaurant. Oddly I've never been there, even though Cathy and I have always spoke about going. Everyone loves it, so I have no good excuse for not going.
It was and is an old-fashioned place, with the old drive in setup, counter and stool seating, the works. No drive up at the newer ones, but it has the same retro flavor from what I see. Granted, I have never been inside one, but they are usually pretty crowded, and have a fine reputation.
Maplewood is a trendy suburb just outside of the south city limits. It's where the hipsters go now, so I'm not surprised if this writer visited that particular Courtesy Diner. People who have been drinking at the Schlafley Brewery likely go there to feed the late-night munchies. It was Schlafley that revitalized the crumbling, decayed old city of Maplewood, opening their bottleworks and starting a renaissance. Schlafley is a downtown brewery, the second largest in the state of Missouri (behind A-B) and owned by the nephew of Phyllis Schlafley, and the first microbrewery to open when they changed state law. Interestingly, they have to brew one keg of barley wine per year to fall under the winery laws, allowing them to brew "small batches" of beer (to get around the law that A-B pushed through to keep out competition.) I'm not sure if they still have to do this, but it was the law for years.
By the way, Maplewood used to be called "Maplehood" and was a run down part of town, immortalized in the novel/move The White Palace where the protagonist - a rich yuppie - went slumming. The huge success of revitalization led to other areas making great strides, places like Ferguson, which was called "the New Maplewood" until rioters burned it to the ground.
I actually agree with this writer; the public is mad as hell on both sides of the political fence, and for the same reasons, although we have very different ideas about what the problem is and what the solution entails. When Occupy Wall Street raised a fuss about big banks and the American plutocracy, we didn't listen to them because they were using the old, tired anti-free market rhetoric, but were they wrong? The "donor class" is driving the Establishment GOP, and they are the very same people the OWS have been bellyaching about - and the Tea Party likewise. Both of our sides see freedom being sucked away by a monied class. Of course their idea of freedom is childish and demanding; freedom to liberals is the right to behave in any manner you see fit, and to dip your grubby paw in the pockets of "the rich" who usually wind up being those in the middle class who choose to take on civic and fiscal responsibilities. The liberal campaign against "the rich" never is against the rich but against the productive. Tea Party types see an alliance between the liberal rich and government against the working class and the enterpreneurs. In a fascistic economic system, a crony capitlalism where government chooses winners and losers based on who can grease the political skids, those without insider connections are doomed. That is what WE don't like, and it dovetails with what the footsoldiers of OWS and the like are protesting. Of course they are dupes, often being funded by men like George Soros, penultimate insiders and crony capitalists. Sadly, the OWS crowd is more interested in schadenfreude, in punishing the haves rather than in reorganizing things to reduce the power of the big money brokers.
Of course, in the end our dreams for society are very different. They want a word where everything is shared, which sounds nice but ends in disaster because people no longer are motivated to produce. We want the old America back, which is a place where you may fail but you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams too. The Progressives want stability, or as they now call it "sustainability" which is no growth, an economic order where everyone lives at about the same level. But such a world means you can have no dreams, not goals, no real ambitions. Man was not made for a life of sustainability. People need to be able to dream of a better tomorrow. Even the poor can dream of a better life in the old America, but there can be no such dreaming in the world fantasized by the Progressives. We are all equal. Nobody has more, nobody has less, and all of our hopes and dreams are equally dead.
The Progs hope to substitute human lusts for dreams and ambitions. Sex is high on the totem pole, and the idea of unrestricted sexual fantasy is the intended replacement for freedom and self-reliance. No rules of human behavior and heavy guardrails to keep people from hurting themselves. Quite the opposite of our thinking, which promotes the removal of societal chains in favor of restrictions that are self-imposed. THEY think freedom is being able to do whatever you wish provided you do not overstep the boundaries set by the wise philosopher kings (who, the OWS crowd has now learned, are the Establishment). WE want few laws, few restrictions, no philosopher kings, but rather self-government, the individual acting rightly because it is the moral and decent thing. They want a pro-wrestling cage match; WE want a friendly game of Bridge.
History shows our way is the better.
But they are misguided because they were misinformed by the Establishment, who have run the educational system. They realize something is wrong but have been told their entire lives a lie. It's a shame, because in many ways we are fighting the very same battle. It's ultimately about what we believe. Liberals believe in the inherent goodness of Man and the possibility of perfecting the human condition. We believe in the flawed nature of Man and the degeneracy of the human condition. They have to believe in what they do, since so many of them do not believe in God or an afterlife, and those who do see only the social gospel, the works on this Earth as important while we believe in a final accounting and see the spiritual works as the more important of the two. Christianity is first and foremost about the salvation of souls, not the providing of corporal needs. That second is a duty, but it is secondary to spiritual salvation. That's why liberals tend to hate Christianity. It's also why they love Islam, which is a religion firmly rooted in the mud of this world.
At any rate, if the folks at the Maplewood Courtesy Diner are unhappy, then it is a universal unhappinesss, as many of them are likely hipster liberals.
Consider this from the article:
"Thatâ€™s why many cheer when Sanders complains that no one was punished harshly for the financial meltdowns of 2008. His lament touches directly what distresses people about the New York-to-Washington axis. People lost their jobs and homes in that recession. The nation teetered on the brink of an historic financial meltdown. Banks and institutional investors had let the mortgage market run amok.
"No senior banker tried for crash-related frauds,â€ said Bartlett Naylor, financial policy advocate at Public Citizen and former Senate Banking Committee chief of investigations.
Goldman Sachs, a major Wall Street and Washington player, did agree in 2010 to pay $550 million and change its business practices in order to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges it had misled investors in mortgage dealings as the housing market began to wobble. The company neither admitted nor denied the allegations.
In January, the company also agreed in principle to a $5 billion settlement that resolved both actual and potential civil claims by the Justice Department, New York and Illinois attorneys general and others "relating to the firmâ€™s securitization, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007.â€
But why should they be tried for fraud when the government has been doing this sort of thing for decades? Isn't deficit spending an act of fraud? Aren't environmental regulations that declare puddles a "wetland" and trigger draconian environmental regulations that stop someone from building their dream home a fraud? If bankers should go to jail for finding ways around crazy laws, then how much more should the writers of the crazy laws be punished? The Progressives can never understand that the real fraudster is the government, which takes money from everyone whether they want it taken or not. Private business, even the big banks, must provide for their customers. They cannot tax. They can manipulate government with money, but the government has more money and can manipulate THEM. What do liberals think actually happened with the mortgage meltdown? They blame the banks, but who set the terms that the banks operated under? The Democrats used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as campaign piggy banks, and it was THEIR laws against redlining and other fiscally prudent but politically unpopular practices that forced banks to bundle bad loans into good; the banks were not going to give loans to people on welfare and whatnot because they knew they would lose their investor's money. So they found a way to profit and obey the law set down by government. Government has the power and yet so many Progressives want to restrict the power of business with government authority. It's absolutely crazy.
It's like the movie Goodfellas where Joe Pesci's character was harassing the restaurant owner. The poor man feared for his life so went to the local Mafia Don for protection, bringing him into his business as a partner. As the movie pointed out, now the Don was his partner. He could go to the Don if there were trouble with the cops, or someone was trying to muscle him. But now he had to cough up the money every month, and the Don's people were stealing everything that wasn't nailed down. In the end the restaurant got torched to collect the insurance money. That is what putting the government in a role of regulator of business gets you. Government people are people, and they can be bought. Likewise, government, with far more money than any business, can buy those same businesses. If you hate corporate greed you should REALLY hate governmental greed. They are kissing cousins.
I would heartily recommend to Aviary readers the book "Masters of Audacity and Deceit" by our very own William Been; he explains the mortgage meltdown of 2008, going over the roots of it with a fine toothed comb. Bill shows how careful manipulation by key players profited the Establishment and badly injured the average American. Buy it on Amazon here or check out Google Books here.
March 23, 2016
March 22, 2016
Fully a quarter of all French youths identify as Muslims. And of the 33% that identify as Christians only 22% say religion is important to them. 83% of Muslim youths are devout.
Looks like Islam has finally done what it has wanted since the Middle Ages; conquered the Franks.
Where is Charles Martel when you need him?
March 21, 2016
The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving Federal regulations (read laws) banning firearms in post offices and other federal facilities.
According to ABC News:
" The Supreme Court wonâ€™t hear a dispute over a U.S. Postal Service regulation that bans guns from post office property and adjacent parking lots.
The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not extend to government buildings or the parking areas that serve them.
The case involved Colorado resident Tab Bonidy, who has a permit to carry a concealed handgun. He sought a court order striking down the regulation after learning he would be prosecuted for carrying his gun while picking up mail at his local post office or leaving it in his car.
The Obama administration argued that the Second Amendment does not restrict laws forbidding guns in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."
Private property owners have the right to ban firearms, but does the government? Government property is not really private, after all, as it has been bought and paid for by the taxpayers, and restricting rights of any sort on ppublic land requires extraordinary justification. Will this lead to restrictions elsewhere? What about on interstate highways? Can the Feds ban people from legally carrying firearms in their cars on the roads? If a Constitutionally protected right may be enfringed on a post office parking lot what other rights may be infringed? Can you ban, say, Catholics from setting foot inside a post office? Can you stop someone from making anti-transgendered statements to another patron? Ban copies of The American Spectator from being brought on the parking lot? An infringement is an infringement. The Administration has to have a solid reason for it. Yes, a national security facility may infringe such rights, but not the USPS.
Oh, and what happens when one of the postal workers "goes postal"? THEY aren't going to refrain from entering with a firearm, and now everyone has been disarmed thanks to a stupid policy that the Obama Administration has no right to impose in the first place.
This illustrates the importance of the next President. Would this case have been rejected were Scalia still alive?
Maybe. But maybe not. The Constitution is very clear on this matter "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be enfringed". Petty bureacrats do not have the authority to ban people from legally carrying firearms just because they own the parking lot.
Maybe the Post Office should worry more about delivering mail and less about what is in the possession of their customers.
An anti-Trump agitator slugged a police horse in the face at a protest in Kansas City. According to Law News:
"So, what in the world happened?
Well, according to the police, the mounted patrol was dispatched to an area outside the Midland Theater to help with crowd control after a group opposed to Trump began moving into the streets in an apparent effort to block traffic.
After refusing to obey repeated police commands to return to the sidewalk, police say Foster, 29, approached a mounted officer and his horse, Dan, and began screaming and yelling in the horseâ€™s face in an effort to spook the animal. After those efforts failed, Foster reportedly became increasingly agitated. Police say she then struck the horse in the face with in open hand, before she fled and disappeared into the larger crowd.
"When this tactic [screaming] did not work she attempted to push my horse with no success. I observed this to only make her more angry and violent and in a last attempt she struck my horse in the face with an open hand,â€ the officerâ€™s police report said."
PETA has condemned the actions of this woman.
But, strangely, this is a non-story to the mainstream media, who is more concerned with claims that Donald Trump is causing violence instead of with those who actually are committing the violent act.
Pril J. Foster, a 29 year old who describes herself as:
"aprilfosterrr April KC, worker, writer, commie, feminist, music, books, trans, go Royals. twitter.com/aprilfosterrrâ€
apparently fails to appreciate animal rights as much as many of her commie associates. Oh, and why does she root for the Royals when baseball is so bourgeouis? At least she should be a booster for the Detroit team, or some other underprivileged area.
Leftists are such huge hypocrites.
So this trans commie goes full Mongo on an innocent horse so she can enjoy the thrill of faux revolution. What a princess!
Or maybe the people who talk to the park board. Anyhow, this is a bit different from the stuff I usually send. Been having fun reading the comments, which are WAY more literate than those found on most blogs.
Astrophysicists say "dark matterâ€ and "dark energyâ€ make up some 95% of the universe. It is what we cannot observe directly, as opposed to the sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies and gas clouds that we can see.
CEI policy vice president Clyde Wayne Crews says this description of the cosmos applies just as accurately to our federal regulatory Leviathan. His new report, "Mapping Washingtonâ€™s Lawlessness,â€ suggests that "regulatory dark matterâ€ forms an equal proportion of the rules and edicts that govern our lives, livelihoods and living standards.
To cite just one example, while Congress enacted "onlyâ€ 226 new laws in 2014, Executive Branch agencies officially issued a staggering 3,554 new rules â€“ and of the 53,838 final regulations in the Federal Register from 2001 through 2014, only 160 received a "cost-benefitâ€ analysis. Infinitely worse, this tip of the iceberg does not include the tens of thousands of decrees issued in forms that receive virtually no notice or scrutiny.
Washingtonâ€™s despotic lawlessness
Weâ€™ve had a "try and stop meâ€ president. Now we need one who will invalidate those actions.
Washington is out of control. Legislators, judges and unelected bureaucrats want to control our lives, livelihoods and living standards, with no accountability even for major errors, calculated deception, or deliberate, often illegal assaults on our liberties and on citizens who resist the advancing Leviathan.
These themes animate Republican and conservative politics because they are happening â€“ regularly.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is renowned for its annual Ten Thousand Commandments reports on federal rules. A scary but mesmerizing new analysis now maps how the Washington bureaucracy lawlessly imposes agendas that all too frequently contravene or disregard what We the People support, what is best for the nation, and even what Congress has enacted or refused to encode in legislation.https://cei.org/sites/default/files/Wayne%20Crews%20-%20Mapping%20Washington%27s%20Lawlessness.pdf
The studiesâ€™ author, CEI policy vice president Clyde Wayne Crews, analogizes the situation to the "dark matterâ€ and "dark energyâ€ that astrophysicists say makes up some 95% of the universe: the portion that we cannot observe directly, as opposed to the sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies and gas clouds we can see.
"Regulatory dark matter,â€ he concludes, forms an equal proportion of all the rules and edicts that govern our lives. But it is "hard to detect, much less measure.â€ Indeed, his "mapâ€ is akin to early explorersâ€™ depictions of North America â€“ incomplete, but the best cartography possible with information currently available.
No one even knows how many Executive Branch agencies there are â€“ estimates range from 60 to 438 â€“ much less how many new rules they implement and impose each year. Officially, Crews says, they issued a staggering 3,554 new rules in 2014, while President Obama signed "onlyâ€ 226 new laws enacted by Congress. Worse, of the 53,838 (!) formal final regulations included in the Federal Register from 2001 through 2014, only 160 (0.3%) received a "cost-benefitâ€ analysis; we have no idea how the rest affect us.
Infinitely worse, this tip of the iceberg does not include tens of thousands of decrees issued in the form of:
* notices, bulletins, proclamations, circulars, guidance memos, and new or revised interpretations, policy statements and procedures;
* investigations, inquiries, warning letters, negotiated settlements to legal actions (often involving collusion between agencies and activist groups), explicit or veiled threats of legal action, armed agents raiding homes and businesses, or adverse publicity, coordinated with activists and the media; as well as
* blog posts, news releases, and emails or telephone calls to citizens or company employees.
All these actions have the force and effect of law. But few or none are covered by Administrative Procedures Act "public notice and commentâ€ requirements, so they often escape scrutiny by courts, watchdogs and Congress. Many are supported only by "homogenized,â€ manipulated data; elaborate, imaginative or imaginary regulatory benefits; cavalier dismissal of costs; and no mention of benefits from the activity, chemical, energy source, industry or jobs being regulated, sometimes into oblivion.
EPAâ€™s Clean Power Plan assumes that shutting down Americaâ€™s coal-fired power plants â€“ a tiny fraction of such facilities worldwide â€“ can somehow stop climate change that is actually governed by numerous powerful natural forces over which humans have absolutely no control. The plan also assumes any global warming will be dangerous and ignores the many thousands who will be rendered jobless.
A "social cost of carbonâ€ scheme concocted by a multitude of federal agencies makes the same faulty assumptions. It then hypothesizes every imaginable and illusory "costâ€ of carbon dioxide emissions â€“ to forests, agriculture, water resources, "forced migrationâ€ of people and wildlife, human health and disease, coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands. But it completely ignores every one of the obvious and enormous benefits of using fossil fuels â€¦ and of CO2â€™s immense fertilizing effects on forest and crop growth.
President Obama imposed both of these programs because Congress refused to enact almost 700 different cap-tax-and-trade and other climate bills. Rather than working with Congress to achieve at least some of what he wanted, Mr. Obama simply had his agencies issue decrees, as another way to "skin a cat.â€
Where Congress has enacted legislation that the president dislikes â€“ on illegal immigration or the Affordable Care Actâ€™s employer mandate, for example â€“ he simply tells his agencies not to enforce the "offensiveâ€ provisions. Meanwhile, Endangered Species Act rules are enforced with an iron fist against ranching, oil and mining operations, but ignored in the case of wind turbines and solar installations.
Under collusive sue-and-settle lawsuits, parties impacted by decisions never have an opportunity to speak or present evidence, or even be notified that a suit has been filed or adjudicated, until it is too late.
The entire system allows unelected, unaccountable government officials to decide winners and losers, and reward cronies and allies with taxpayer-funded grants and subsidies, while punishing critics and enemies. "Progressiveâ€ judges defer to "agency discretionâ€ and give bureaucrats free rein to do as they please, even when the rules, decisions and decrees do not comply with legal, constitutional or scientific requirements.
No citizen, small business or even large corporation can possibly even know all these edicts exist, much less understand or comply with them. Moreover, at least 4,500 carry criminal penalties, many regardless of any intent to violate a rule or commit a crime â€“ and "ignorance of the law is no excuse.â€ http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/06/revisiting-the-explosive-growth-of-federal-crimes
Astrophysics explains the consequences. A black hole in the cosmos has squeezed so much matter into a small space that the unfathomable pull of gravity prevents even light from getting out.
The Washington, DC regulatory black hole exerts such centralized gravitational force that federalism, statesâ€™ rights, state and local laws and customs, and personal liberties increasingly cease to matter.
The federal Goliath now costs US families, businesses, hospitals and organizations over $1.9 trillion a year! https://cei.org/studies/ten-thousand-commandments-2014 That is twice the entire federal budget in 1981. Itâ€™s equal to the entire budget in 1986, nearly half the incomprehensible Obama budget for FY-2017, more than the budgets of all other countries except China.
"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they [resist] every kind of improvement,â€ economist and political analyst Ludwig von Mises observed 72 years ago. "They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent.â€
Americaâ€™s "soft despotismâ€ is light years from the atrocities and gulags of its infamous predecessors. But it is highly effective nonetheless. The same agencies write, impose, enforce and adjudicate the rules, and impose punishment for infractions. They work tirelessly and imperiously to "fundamentally transformâ€ our nationâ€™s legal, energy, economic and social systems â€“ and keep our fossil fuels "in the ground.â€
They impose edicts that would never be supported by the People or enacted by Congress, and that they rarely if ever apply to themselves. They lavish billions on allies, while denying funding and legitimacy to critics, siccing IRS dogs on opposition groups, and threatening civil and criminal "racketeeringâ€ actions against anyone who "deniesâ€ the alleged "realityâ€ of dangerous manmade climate change.http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/26/sen-sheldon-whitehouse-reacts-to-torquemada-essay/
They seek to ban fossil fuels, biotech crops and insecticides â€“ even from Third World families suffering from abject poverty, rampant malnutrition and disease, and a near total absence of electricity. They do all they can to silence and punish alternative views, and even the notion that there can be alternative views.
For seven years, our "Try and stop meâ€ president and administration have used and abused their powers to impose their agenda. What we need now is a "Try and make meâ€ president, who will refuse to enforce their edicts. Who will use his pen, phone and power to review them, root out any fraud and abuse behind them, and defund and bury them. Who will work with Congress to restore the rule of law and our Constitution, economic growth, and the role of personal liberties, opportunities and responsibilities.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power â€“ Black death.
The Obama Administration's made a video claiming the Polar Vortex - huffing and puffing America to a bitterly cold winter - was caused by, drumroll please - Global Warming! But their data was fanciful, to say the least, and there were those who wanted the hard copy. Naturally, the Gang Green refused to surrender this data, so the Competetive Enterprise Institute filed a Freedom of Information Act request, which our government duly ignored. A judge has just ordered the Feds to surrender their data.
Hans Bader has the story:
"On January 8, 2014, the White House posted a controversial video claiming that global warming causes more severe winter cold. Called "The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes,â€ it featured the director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), John Holdren, claiming that a "growing body of evidenceâ€ showed that the "extreme cold being experienced by much of the United Statesâ€ at the time was "a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.â€
This claim was questioned by many scientists and commentators. (See, e.g., Jason Samenow, Scientists: Donâ€™t make "extreme coldâ€ centerpiece of global warming argument, Washington Post, Feb. 20, 2014 (linking to objection by five well-known climate scientists in the Feb. 14, 2014 issue of Science magazine); Patrick J. Michaels, Hot Air About Cold Air, Jan. 16, 2014 (former state climatologist of Virginia rejected Holdrenâ€™s claim))
In April 2014, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sent a request for correction of this statement under the federal Information Quality Act, citing peer-reviewed scientific articles debunking it. In June 2014, OSTP rejected this request, claiming that Holdrenâ€™s statement was his "personal opinion,â€ not the agencyâ€™s position, and that it thus did not constitute "informationâ€ subject to the Information Quality Act, which excludes "subjective opinionsâ€ from its reach.
In response, CEI filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents related to the video, its production at taxpayer expense, and OSTPâ€™s rejection of its correction request. Despite having earlier claimed that the video was just Holdrenâ€™s personal opinion, not the agencyâ€™s, OSTP withheld portions of emails about it as privileged "agency records.â€ It also refused to produce drafts of its letter rejecting CEIâ€™s request for correction. It withheld two drafts even though they had been shared with an outside professor (and initially even concealed their very existence), and sharing a document with someone outside an agency usually waives any privilege to keep it secret."
"In February 2016, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that OSTP must produce these records, since the emails did not involve privileged agency policymaking, and the drafts of OSTPâ€™s rejection letter had lost their privileged status by being shared with a non-agency employee. OSTP had claimed the professor it was shared with was a neutral consultant, and thus, functionally an agency employee. But the judge ruled that the professor, who is the principal exponent of the idea that global warming is causing more winter cold, was an interested party, not a neutral consultant. Thus, none of the records were privileged under FOIAâ€™s Exemption 5 deliberative process privilege.
When OSTP produced the records on March 4, 2016 (they are at this link), they showed inconsistency in OSTPâ€™s position over time. Although OSTP told CEI in June 2014 that Holdrenâ€™s claim was just his personal "opinion,â€ not "informationâ€ that is subject to the Information Quality Act (IQA), this was not the position it originally took in its draft response to CEIâ€™s request back in Spring 2014.
Instead, OSTP described Holdrenâ€™s claim in these drafts as "information provided by the government [that] meet
"One of the two newly disclosed drafts of the June 6 letter also contains disparaging allusions by its author to some of the respected climate scientists who criticized Holdrenâ€™s statement. That draftâ€™s text claims the criticism included "attacks by a few of the usual suspects from the climate-change contrarian/confusionist community.â€ In response, a comment to the draft from Rutgersâ€™ Jennifer Francis suggested characterizing them as the "disinformationâ€ community. (See pg. 4 of the draft, found at pg. 17 of the 24 released pages.)
The court also ordered OSTP to produce emails without redacting any of their content (as opposed to recipientsâ€™ private email addresses and contact information). These emails are odd in light of OSTPâ€™s subsequent position that Holdrenâ€™s claim was merely his "personal opinion,â€ since they show taxpayer resources being used to produce the video that broadcast his statements, since a government "contractorâ€ was used to produce the video in question. They also were exchanged among 17 federal employees working in multiple agencies (including NASA, the OSTP, and other White House offices).
The once-redacted material ]now released suggests that Holdrenâ€™s position was shared by at least one other White House employee, whose email advocates that "we should make sure www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change [which they link to at the end] has something on extreme weather events like polar vortex.â€ (See Jan. 8 email at 9:34 a.m.) It also shows efforts to try and round up scientists to weigh in on this topic. (See Jan. 8 email at 9:32 a.m.)
The released material is not highly sensitive. So one wonders why the government bothered to redact it in the first placeâ€”and fought its release in court for over a year. Upon assuming office, Holdrenâ€™s boss, President Obama, and his attorney general, Eric Holder, issued guidance telling agencies not to withhold information just because they can, or based on technicalities, and to err on the side of disclosure, rather than secrecy. As Holder once noted, "On his first full day in office, January 21, 2009, President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies
This Administration has been as transparent as a block of granite for two terms now. And they aren't going to give anything to their opponents. These people are liars, plain and simple, and the Truth is an enemy to be resisted at all cost.
Remember that, people!
March 20, 2016
Try this on Hillary next time she has to testify.
Researchers have successfully activated feelings from lost memories among mice genetically engineered to have early-onset Alzheimerâ€™s disease by using a light stimulation therapy developed in 2012.
March 18, 2016
Despite high precipitation bringing California back to normal water levels, that NOAA Count agency is still claiming a massive drought.
From Cliff Mass:
And streamflows over most of the state are at or above normal (way above normal in the northern half). Snowpack in the Sierra is well above normal.
Yet the torrents from the sky are not over. Not even close. The worst (or best) is yet to come! Here is the forecast cumulative precipitation for the next 7.5 days. Wow. The West Coast gets hammered, particularly California, with up to 10-15 inches in the Sierras and mountains of northern CA.
And the extended model forecasts beyond that show even more!
So with massive precipitation, restoration of soil moisture in the northern 2/3rds of the state, above normal streamflow, and above normal snow water content in the mountains, what is the NOAA Drought Monitor showing over California?
Exceptional drought....the absolute worst...over half of the State, with the rest in extreme and severe drought. Can you imagine if California wasn't floating away with heavy rain? What would drought monitor show then? One shudders just thinking about it.
Is this just normal beauracratic inertia or are they slow because they need to figure a way to spin this to advance global warming propaganda? You be the judge.
Hillary: We didn't lose a single person in Libya!
Press: What about Ambassador Stevens? And Glen Doherty? Or Tyrone Woods? Or Sean Smith?
Hillary: That's four people! I said we didn't lose a single person!
Overwhelming concensus on Global Warming in the scientific literature? Think again.
Over 500 papers have been published in peer reviewed journals that disagree with anthropogenic global warming claims. The No Tricks zone has the story.
March 17, 2016
From a musician friend of. This message should go to the Council(s) of Churches too. Sports analogies are popular and this one really fits.
Donâ€™t Widen the Plate
In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.
While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment â€” "John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.â€
Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung â€” a full-sized, stark-white home plate.
Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since heâ€™d gotten on stage.
Then, finally â€¦
"Youâ€™re probably all wondering why Iâ€™m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,â€ he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. "No,â€ he continued, "I may be old, but Iâ€™m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what Iâ€™ve learned in my life, what Iâ€™ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.â€
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?â€
After a pause, someone offered, "Seventeen inches,â€ more question than answer.
"Thatâ€™s right,â€ he said. "How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?â€
Another long pause.
"Seventeen inches?â€came a guess from another reluctant coach.
"Thatâ€™s right,â€ said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?â€ Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.
"How wide is home plate in high school baseball?â€
"Seventeen inches,â€ they said, sounding more confident.
"Youâ€™re right!â€ Scolinos barked. "And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?â€
"Seventeen inches!â€ we said, in unison.
"Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?â€
"RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?â€
"SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!â€ he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. "And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who canâ€™t throw the ball over seventeen inches?â€ Pause. "They send him to Pocatello!â€ he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.
"What they donâ€™t do is this: they donâ€™t say, â€˜Ah, thatâ€™s okay, Jimmy. You canâ€™t hit a seventeen-inch target? Weâ€™ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches.
Weâ€™ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you canâ€™t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'â€
â€ â€¦ what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?
The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coachâ€™s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. "This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We donâ€™t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!â€
Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.
"This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?â€
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.
"And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!â€
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.
"If I am lucky,â€ Coach Scolinos concluded, "you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to â€¦â€
With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside. "â€¦ dark days ahead.â€
Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.
His message was clear: "Coaches, keep your playersâ€”no matter how good they areâ€”your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches
March 16, 2016
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