Trumpe-L’oeil

Trump’s campaign is the ruse of the century

It’s always risky to make assumptions only to find out later that you were completely off base in your assessment, but the prospect of a Trump presidency is so bizarre, I’m just going to go ahead and say this:

Trump is not in it to win it.

Pundits will argue that he sure as hell is in it to win it and it looks like he will, dammit.  Others will say that his unorthodoxy is part of what makes him the brilliant tactician that he is; that by making outrageous and seemingly offensive statements he is breaking the mold of the consummate politician thereby owning this election.  Another segment of the population is so offended by him and his Hitler-esque ideology (their words, not mine) that they’re predicting we’ll soon be goose stepping our way through a totalitarian dictatorship.  Still some, like me, just think he’s crazy.

Like a fox.

Do you really think Trump wants to make America great again?  Or is it something else?  When a guy’s got his name on more buildings than Sam Walton, it can’t be the fame.  Power hungry?  I get that, but there are other ways to be powerful without having to hoodwink the electorate all the way into the White House.  I know, Ronald Reagan was an outlier, too but who are we kidding:   Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

This isn’t my first assessment of the ruse of the century. In early August, and after Trump had announced his candidacy, I posted this vignette on Facebook.

august trump prediction

At this point, I’m not sure that this is exactly his motive, but I do think he has some O’Henry trick up his sleeve, you know, the surprise ending.  Because come on, you threaten to boycott a debate because you don’t like Megyn Kelly?  Really, Donald, if you can’t get along with the host of a cable news show, how are you going to navigate Putin?  Whining that you’re not coming to the party if Megyn is there rather emasculates you, don’t you think?  At the very least you sound like a petulant child who is picking up his toys and going home.

Most unbecoming, Sir.

His behavior is not logical, which is why some in the political sphere, like Rush Limbaugh, believe this is all part of his strategy.  To me, though, it appears as if he is setting himself up to be so reviled that he’ll either step aside and let someone else occupy his spot, or he really is a DNC plant.

Regardless, I both cringe and shake my head every time the guy opens his mouth, wondering what manner of cartoon character rhetoric is going to come out.  Would I keel and wail and render my flesh if he manages to get elected?  No.  Furthermore, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  This guy is too smart to resort to acting like an asshat, and he’s wily enough to fool people into thinking that he is.

If that circular logic baffles you, then guess what?  You’ve been Trumped.

Mother of the Year

I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?

Wife and mother Helena Richards Colby resides in a tony suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.   Helena lives a life that most of us dream of—she’s wealthy and reasonably attractive, with a well-appointed home that includes plenty of space for entertaining, a large back yard with a pool, and a gorgeous lake view.  But what Helena wants most is the envy and adulation of her peers, and to a greater degree (though she would never admit it) she wishes to climb the proverbial social ladder to become a select member of Cincinnati’s privileged elite.

Helena stepped on the first rung of that ladder in January 2012, when she talked her husband Will into nominating her for the title of Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, the promotional brainchild of Cincinnati City magazine.  Nominees (who pay a ridiculous fee just for the faux honor of being nominated) are fêted for an entire year at various magazine-sponsored functions throughout the city in an effort to promote themselves as the quintessential mother, giving Cincinnati’s well-heeled a chance to vote for their ultimate Madonna.  Helena never missed an event.

In September, 2012, Helena and Will were scheduled to attend an event at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center (once home to the infamous Robert Maplethorpe exhibit, but I digress).  It was a Tuesday night, and Helena’s regular sitter, her 16-year-old daughter Hailey, was unfortunately unable to watch the couple’s seven-year-old son, Christopher.  Hailey had a party to attend.  On a Tuesday night.

Never one to say no to her daughter, Helena figured that Christopher would be fine by himself at home.  Hailey would have her cell turned on, of course, and Helena and Will would each have their respective cells on vibrate but within “feeling” proximity.  Hailey assured her parents that she would be no fewer than five minutes from their house, and though Helena and Will would be downtown, Helena was certain that Christopher would be fine for the few short hours that he would be alone.  After all, isn’t teaching children the virtue of self-reliance a hallmark of a Mother of the Year?

Christopher wasn’t so sure.  He didn’t like it when Mommy and Daddy were gone at night, even when Hailey was there with him in the house (she never really was in the same room with him, but at least she was there).  He still slept with his light on in his room most nights, and he didn’t like this time of year when the leaves were starting to fall off the trees outside his bedroom window because they made scrape-y noises that were scary to him.  Christopher didn’t say much at dinner; Mommy and Daddy didn’t notice, and Hailey was busy playing on her phone.

Always in a nervous flurry before these types of events, Helena rushed through dinner and began barking orders to Will in an attempt to get him to hurry.  She didn’t notice that Hailey had already left the house and that Christopher was sulking on the sofa watching a rerun of South Park.  The couple left the house after Helena hastily scrawled hers, Will’s, and Hailey’s phone numbers in big Sesame Street-sized numbers on a piece of loose leaf paper she found in Hailey’s backpack because, well, that’s what good mothers do.  She trusted that Christopher would call one of them if there was an emergency.

Once Helena and Will arrived at the venue, all thoughts of her children were blissfully erased from her consciousness because it was here that she would be introduced to Cincinnati’s preeminent citizens.  Not for her were the hoi polloi that she ordinarily ran into at Kroger or while waiting in the carpool lane at her son’s school.  No, it was among these majestic faces she was meant to rub elbows, to mingle and chat, to exchange dinner invitations.  Helena was in her element.  So transfixed was she that she never felt the phone vibrate in her small reticule clutched in her left hand.  Will’s phone buzzed, too, but after several trips to the bar, so did he.

It wasn’t until she had excused herself to go into the restroom to check on her lipstick that she felt the phone in her purse vibrate.  It was Hailey.  She told her mother that she had had several calls from Christopher who said that he was scared and that he was hearing noises.  Although Hailey offered to go home and check on him, Helena reminded her that Christopher often made up stories about hearing strange noises, and that a good mother would teach him a lesson about crying wolf.  Besides, Helena had it on good authority that the party Hailey was attending was at the home of a board member of one of the city’s most sought after charitable foundations, and she couldn’t wait to hear from Hailey about what the inside of the house looked like.  After all, isn’t encouraging your daughter to develop relationships with influential people part of being a good mother?

Though it doesn’t really matter at this point who arrived home at the Colby residence first, it happened to be Hailey, who would, for the rest of her life, have seared into her brain the image of her little brother’s body as it lay broken, bloodied, and beaten on the cold, bare floor of the empty garage.  At this point in the story, I lack the vocabulary to describe what actually happened at the Colby home that September night—Google it for yourselves if you like.  Suffice it to say that after four armed intruders broke into the home, burgled it, and murdered seven-year-old Christopher Richards Colby in one of the most brutal attacks ever investigated by the first responders and homicide detectives on the scene, Greater Cincinnati’s candidate for Mother of the Year was down one child.

Oh, there was quite an investigation.  The family was questioned repeatedly about the events surrounding the break in and Christopher’s murder.  The day after the murder, the local television affiliate interviewed a tearful Helena who blamed the tragedy on a violent video game she had read about online and suggested that it was this that was the impetus for the killers’ vicious actions and the eventual death of her son. Days, weeks went by with the entire community both mourning alongside the Colby family and expressing outrage at the killers’ murderous rampage.  Ultimately, the killers were caught, and the community and the family could rest a little easier.  But there was nothing that would bring Christopher back.

Even in her grief, though, Helena found a way to turn this heartbreak into a triumph.  After all, she was still in the running for Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, and with a senseless tragedy to add to her repertoire of virtuous deeds, influential friendships earned, and exposure among the city’s most celebrated citizens, there was no reason to abandon her quest for social acceptance and virtual aristocracy.

The tragedy was too much for her husband, though—he put a gun to his head a month after his son’s murder.  Well, that’s how it was reported anyway.

After a socially acceptable period of quiet mourning, Helena began making the circuit of local and national talk shows, sharing her grief over the murder of her son and the loss of her husband, and used her platform to promote her new raison d’être as the new voice for all mothers out there who have lost a child.  Not surprisingly, after her well-crafted and heavily articulated year-long campaign, in January 2013, Helena Richards Colby was named Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year.  She had endeared herself to nearly everyone.

But not to me.  I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?  Why did she leave him home alone, helpless and frightened?  Even when her daughter had expressed concern over her brother’s pleas for help, this mother was more concerned with her own social position and that of her daughter’s than she was about the safety of her son.

I am outraged that anyone lacking the fundamental judgement of a parent would deign to promote herself as the arbiter of parenthood.  After she all but fed her son to the killers who ended his life, how can she even consider herself worthy of any praise or accolades, let alone the title of Mother of the Year?  I am outraged that more people, not only in the Cincinnati area but throughout the country, are not as sickened by this situation as I am.  Some are even going so far as to defend her actions and feel that those of us who dare question her motives are engaging in a 17th century witch hunt.   But I don’t care about that.  I’m more concerned about the starry-eyed boot-licking sycophants who are looking at Helena Richards Colby as the gold standard of motherhood.

Any cold-hearted excuse for a human being who can demonstrate this much arrogance, negligence, and lack of judgment and still manage to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year will stoop to the lowest level imaginable in order to further her self-serving agenda.

We’re dying to hear from you

If you are one of those good Muslims among the faithful who is angry, hurt, resentful, disgusted, or otherwise offended by the anti-Muslim rhetoric you are hearing, why don’t you speak up?

Most of the stupidity that has left Donald Trump’s pouty potty mouth in the months since he’s decided to run for king of the world president has truthfully gone in one ear and out the other.  I’ve never regarded him as a serious candidate; in fact, I once opined that his candidacy was a ruse—once he’s gained enough momentum, he’ll drop out just so he can sit back and laugh hysterically while he watches the next guy in line get his balls busted by Ursula the She-Monster.  So I guess I haven’t been too worried about ol’ Donald.

Until yesterday.

Yes, he went there.  Donald Trump made a statement to the effect that the U.S. should immediately close its borders to all Muslims, regardless of their status.  He not only went there, he doubled down when asked again if he wanted to retract anything about his most provocative statement to date.  Trump has no finesse; his sledgehammer bull-in-a-china-shop rhetoric makes me question his sanity.  Here’s a tip:  Simple solutions to complex problems make people very nervous.  Just ask the average Jew living in Germany in 1933.  Ahem.

It’s not that I completely disagree with Trump.  I think it’s only prudent to be ever-so-vigilant about who’s coming and going through the revolving door of our ports of entry, but to say that all Muslims should be locked out is going a bit too far.  Because there are good Muslims out there, right?

Before I join the millions of Donald-shamers, I think an important question needs to be asked:  If our citizenry, made up of a veritable kaleidoscope of cultures, races, religions, and ethnicities, is so concerned about those who label all Muslims as a collection of like-minded individuals out to commit jihad against the West, then help us out, good Muslims.  Tell us about your religion.  Share with us who you are, what you believe, and why your faith is being maligned all over the world.

Most importantly, state, in no uncertain terms, just us how angry it makes you that radical Islamists are ruining it for the rest of you.

I follow news; that is, I read, listen, and react, hopefully with an open mind.  But just as everybody’s baby is the prettiest, every news outlet and every talking and typing head has an agenda.  Every blogger, every columnist, every pundit is out to market their brand—themselves.  Using provocative rhetoric is how you get folks to pay attention, I get that.  But isn’t there someone out there who is in this for the greater good and can tell us the truth?

Likewise, isn’t there someone in the Muslim community who can share with us the virtues of their religion?

Allow me to put this in terms that may help you understand where I’m going with this:  I am first a Christian by faith, Catholic by denomination.  Michelle Duggar, mother extraordinaire, is first a Christian by faith, and an Independent Baptist by denomination.  We have very little in common lifestyle-wise (probably to her everlasting relief).  What we do have in common is that we have both accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.

It is ridiculously naïve to lump all people of a set religion into the same group.  I’m sure Michelle would agree.  If such benign differences exist among Christians like Michelle and me, isn’t it reasonable, then, to assume that the of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, there are some good people among the faithful who may practice their religion in different ways and in varying degrees?

In contrast, whereas the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church would like to call themselves Christians, their principles and actions, their rhetoric and practices are anything but Christ-like; ergo, they are not Christians, no matter what they’d like you to believe.  They pull scripture out of context from the Bible and twist it into evil sound bites in order to justify their sins.  In many ways, they are just as bad as radical Islamists, and their actions are reprehensible, especially when committed in the name of their warped brand of pseudo-Christianity.  True Christians would never stand up for them.  Ever.

And like the pseudo-Christians out there, isn’t it also reasonable to assume that among that 1.6 billion Muslims in the world there exist Islamic jihadists whose sole purpose in life is to destroy western civilization—radical Islamists committing terror in the name of Allah?

If you are one of those good Muslims among the faithful who is angry, hurt, resentful, disgusted, or otherwise offended by the anti-Muslim rhetoric you are hearing, why don’t you speak up?  Why don’t you tell us why you and people of your kind do not want to bring terror, death, and destruction upon the United States of America.

To stay silent will guarantee that all we’ll ever hear, see, or—worst of all—experience are the voices of the jihadists who want us all dead.

 

 

 

 

 

Open Arms

Governors of several states Monday announced that until the federal government can explicitly outline their procedures for vetting Syrian refugees, such individuals would not be welcomed to settle in their respective states.

To many (especially those on the left) this sounds rather draconian, or maybe it’s just because the governors who are pausing to take a step back to monitor the situation have that pesky ‘R’ after their names.

Are there more compassionate ways to come to the aid of Syrian refugees other than opening our country to the possibility that the very jihadists who are forcing these innocent refugees to flee their homeland are cutting in line?  There has to be.  Humanitarianism does not have to be an either / or proposition.  Especially when we already live in a country where there exists an all or nothing ideological approach to immigration.

I will concede that 99% of the refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled Syria are not terrorists, but it sure wouldn’t be hard for Mr. One Percent to weasel himself in among the crowd.  Does anyone know if the Syrian government has made available their intelligence data so that the Department of Homeland Security can properly and comprehensively vet each individual seeking asylum in the U.S.?  No, they haven’t because they can’t—Syria’s a mess.  So where is the data that Homeland Security will use to screen refugees?  Or is Homeland Security making this up as they go along?

Creating a safe haven for Syrian refugees is paramount, but creating that safe haven does not have to include laying the groundwork for another 9/11. The last time I looked at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia was pretty big, and Qatar’s GDP ranks number one in the world.  To date, neither country has accepted even one Syrian refugee.  Zero.  The doors are locked to Russia, Japan, and South Korea as well.

Western civilizations are compassionate, so compassionate that they’re willing to invite the conflict into their own countries.  Does it have to be that way?  Is there an approach whereby every sovereign nation can to do its part, whether by offering asylum or offering aid?  Does proximity and culture weigh into the question of where best to place these individuals?

Imagine the jihadist—that Mr. One Percent—who enters Indiana under the guise of fleeing his hostile homeland. He checks his Twitter feed Friday, prepares his going away present Saturday, and when you and your precious family are at the Colts game Sunday afternoon, this son of a bitch blows himself up outside the gates of Lucas Oil Stadium at the end of the game, taking countless innocent lives along with him.

Imagine the card carrying members of ISIS who evaded the strict protocol of Homeland Security (because they did not have ‘NAJ’—Not a Jihadist—stamped on their passports), came to settle in the Circle City, and in an effort to eradicate the infidels one venue at a time, storm the entrance of the Carmel Palladium while you and your family are enjoying a performance and stage a murderous rampage at the beginning of the second act.

I am compassionate, but I refuse to fall prey to the ideology that if you don’t blithely roll out the welcome mat to those who seek to harm us that you’re some kind of heartless monster.  There are other ways to be compassionate.

And finally, I find it disturbing that any sane person would be angrier at America’s governors for wanting to pause the influx of refugees—and who are seeking only to protect American citizens from death and destruction—than at the jihadists who want to destroy all of western civilization.

Ben Carson should never be president

Ben Carson should never be president

Is it because he’s a political infant? Never held a public office?  Ignorant of the delicate chess game of foreign policy?  No skill at interpreting the geo-political landscape?  Lack of business experience?

Not necessarily.

Ben Carson should never be president because he is too good.  He is elegant and eloquent.  He is stunningly articulate in the sense that he doesn’t point at you with just his thumb like every other politician since Bill Clinton (when he was lying to us about Monica Lewinsky) and tell the American people—in carefully scripted sound bites designed to be repeated, replayed, and rehashed—just why his …um …ideas are bigger and better than the next guy’s.

In short, he does not engage in a political pissing contest.

Instead, he tells you of his love for this country, his hopes for its healing, and the promises of its future just as if he were sitting across from you at the dinner table.  During his brief but powerful turn at Thursday night’s debate, I half expected him to ask someone to pass the butter. His rhetoric was poetic, not political.  Common sense never sounded so lyrical yet so, well … common.

He is a gentleman.  A gentle man.

Ben Carson should never be president because of what the media would do to him.  In case you haven’t been paying attention, the media have this curious knack for taking something that is good and pure and honest and turning it into a twisted circus of lies and suppositions, ignoring the good stuff about a person and instead finding any small rent in the fabric and ripping it to shreds.  No longer is the media about presenting opposing viewpoints; there’s no bank for them in that.  Instead, they only look for the ugly, calling it “good journalism”.  I call it muckraking.

No, Ben Carson should never be president.

Even though Ben Carson is what our country needs to bridge the massive divide between right and left, between those who want to perpetuate this country’s dependence upon our bulging and bloated behemoth of a government and those who would like nothing more than to line up the Washington elite in front of a firing squad, he should never be president.  Even though Ben Carson could heal the wounds of those who live on the fringes of society by drawing out of them the goodness that runs through their souls and the potential that lies within them, he should never be president.  Ben Carson would not bloviate like a lunatic, nor wring his hands in desperation about border security; neither would he look the other way nor look at who to blame or blame a YouTube video for the fact that Isis has come to town.  Instead, he would attack, with surgical precision, the crisis at our borders and eviscerate like a cancer the terrorism at our doorsteps, dealing with it like a man.  In matters of life and death, Ben Carson doesn’t concern himself with who he might offend by calling a spade a spade.

Even though Ben Carson is what we need he would never last long enough to make our country work again before the media would destroy him.

Maybe now is not his time.  If that’s the case, I’ll try to be patient and just pray that while we wait that we don’t end up like a fallen tree on the bank of a great river, its roots fighting to remain tethered to the earth—still living, still bearing fruit, and still able to reach its potential, but instead becoming unmoored from its tenuous anchor and floating out to sea only to become a mere shadow of its former majesty.

Planned Parenthood, how in the hell do you sleep at night?

There are myriad topics I could write about today—the bird’s nest full of robin eggs I found within my potted geraniums this morning, the group text my daughters sent me that made me laugh so hard I choked on my coffee in a crowded restaurant, the hilarious conversation I had with my son last night on the topic of dog poop, or the pictures on my refrigerator of my niece’s little girl on her first birthday smearing pink frosting all over her Kewpie doll face.

But I can’t.

Because what has been eating away at my insides this entire week are the horrifying images of unborn babies being ripped from their mothers’ wombs and sold to the highest bidder all in the name of scientific research.  That Planned Parenthood—that poor excuse for a women’s health network—was caught on video discussing, in the most detached and cavalier manner possible, the sale of human body parts is not surprising, but the fact that any human being could still support their perfectly legal and taxpayer funded genocide certainly is.

Right after the videos surfaced, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton still defended Planned Parenthood because, to her, it represents womanly empowerment—the right of every woman to own her own body and do with it what she wants.

Oh, is that the same womanly empowerment that “cleans up the mess” when women choose to have unprotected sex?  The same womanly empowerment that dupes teenage girls into engaging in bizarre and dangerous sexual practices?  The same womanly empowerment that prescribes contraceptives to young teens without their parents’ consent?  The same womanly empowerment that sells aborted fetuses—okay, maybe not the entire fetus, because thanks to the videos released this week we now know that livers are in high demand.

Yeah, so maybe not the whole baby, just the important little baby body parts.

Are you disgusted?  Think I’m making this up?  I’m pretty creative, but even I can’t make this shit up.  Even Dystopian fiction writers shy away from storylines that involve dead babies and their tiny body parts.

No woman has the right to decide to end a pregnancy simply because that pregnancy doesn’t fit into her lifestyle.  Why?  Because she lost that right when she decided to have unprotected sex.  You can argue with me from now until the cows come home that there are instances of rape, incest, and imminent danger to the mother’s life that might be cause for some mothers to have an abortion.  Those instances are the exception, not the rule.  The exception.  And while I will always argue for the sanctity of life, however it is conceived and in whatever stage it may be, or for prayer and consideration during a life-threatening pregnancy, statistically, these instances do not make up even a fraction of the roughly one million abortions performed each year.

Why not state an actual number?  Because it depends on who you ask.

Planned Parenthood will say that the number of abortions performed per year is less than half that number; right-to-life groups put the number of abortions performed per year at well over one million.  So even if we went with Planned Parenthood’s proudly proclaimed but rather suspect statistics, 327,166 abortions for fiscal year 2012-2013 is still 327,166 abortions too many.

And have fun trying to find that number—it’s buried deep in the back of their annual report as part of a small slice of a pie graph that is cleverly designed to celebrate Planned Parenthood’s other services, which, frankly, can be found at any general practitioner’s office.  Don’t be fooled by the report’s clever marketing ploy of featuring the happy, smiling faces of women who, without the health care services of Planned Parenthood, would not be able to have any access to health care at all.

Which is puzzling because I thought the Affordable Care Act was supposed to take care of the uninsured.

Here’s what they don’t highlight in their slick marketing brochure disguised as an annual report:  Planned Parenthood performs abortions.  Planned Parenthood is responsible for the deaths of between 327,166 and 1.21 million human lives in the US each year.  There is no ‘Parenthood’ in Planned Parenthood.  They have an agenda built upon the ideology of a woman who advocated the practice of eugenics, but have since then taken that ideology and run with it—taken it one grisly step further— in order to justify their practice of genocide.

Your body, your right to choose?  Wrong.  That baby who is right now tucked safely inside of you has rights, too.  You and your partner made that baby when you decided to have sex without thinking of the consequences.

For God’s sake, grow up, be a real woman, walk into a damn drugstore, and buy yourself a package of condoms.

One Man’s Trash: Doing My Part to Save the Planet

This week, in addition to trolling The Drudge Report to make sure that the anti-Christ still hasn’t made an appearance, I scored some amazing household items–thanks to one family’s need to purge and move.  Or move and purge.  Kinda like a chicken-egg thing.

Now, some may say that scavenging through another family’s discard pile is tantamount to picking through your neighbor’s garbage, but I disagree.  To me, it’s my way of keeping this planet safe from the rising mounds of trash in our nation’s landfills, albeit in a small way.  It’s also my way of filling my home with things that someone else had taken the time to research, order, purchase, unwrap, read the complicated user manual (in seven distinct languages) in order to assemble, successfully assemble, and install.  Culling through someone else’s leftovers saves me all that heartache.  You see, in this house (unless copious amounts of alcohol are involved), assembling a complicated purchase usually results in those attempting to assemble said purchase to angrily stomp away from the wreckage and to their respective computers to Google ‘divorce attorneys’.

See?  I’m also doing my part to keep the divorce rate down.  I call that a win.

It helps if you know the people from whom you are scavenging.  In my case, I did, so I trusted their combined wisdom to have made thoughtful decisions when purchasing the items they once couldn’t live without that now adorn my own home. The fact that their now empty house was once tastefully appointed is a bonus.

When I go through my house and count the number of items within that have once been owned by other people, I am pleased to note that the number is higher than the number representing items I purchased directly from a vendor, like a furniture store, or Macy’s.  That I may know the original owner makes the counting even more fun, as in, “Those wicker chairs once belonged to Marla,” or “See that end table?  It’s Duncan Phyfe, and it once graced the governors’ mansion.”

Okay, I made up that last one, but you get my point.

However, I maintain that there are some items that I refuse to buy secondhand.  Like shoes.  Ew.  Shoes, over time, conform to the wearer’s feet, and often you can look at a pair of shoes and identify to whom they belong just by the worn out shape of the shoe.  And they’re stinky.  So there’s that.

Have you ever seen underwear at a garage sale?  As in someone else’s underwear for sale?  Are you kidding me?   I don’t know about you, but when I decide to retire an undergarment, it goes in the trash.  I don’t care if that bra and knickers are from Agent Provocateur, uh-huh.

Well, unless the tags are still on them.

My point is this:  None of us should be so proud that we turn up our noses at the thought of procuring household items from a garage sale, an estate sale, a moving sale, or any other kind of sale that isn’t located in a mall or on Amazon.  If you are, but you still like nice things, then don’t tick off the names of the previous owners of your precious plunder when you have guests over.  But be smart about it.

“See my dining room table and chairs?  That’s Duncan Phyfe.  It’s been in my family for generations.”  Fine.  Now you sound like a snob, and it still belonged to someone else.  Or, “Of course, that Aubusson carpet was dreadfully expensive, but we just had to have it,” and you drive a Dodge Neon.

Get my point?

The Contemptible State of the Fourth Estate

I don’t even know where to begin with this because when I try to conjure examples of fair, unbiased, ethical, and relevant media reporting, I’m at a loss.  The past two weeks has seen everything from the anointing of the new Queen of the Big Switch-a-Roo to the lopsided reporting of a pool party gone awry in Texas.  While the world is still sanctimoniously applauding the courage and bravery of a publicity whore who has timed his transformation from a him to a her to coincide with the announcement of his E! Network reality show, police officers—regardless of what actually resides within their individual hearts—have been once again vilified for dirty deeds done to the African-American community.

bjwheaties

So a former Olympian changes his name to Caitlyn—a moniker that didn’t exist in any 1953 book of baby names—and lands on the cover of Vanity Fair looking like a woman.  What were you waiting for, Bruce?  You could have had that thing lopped off years ago, called it a day, and spared all of us this drama.

Don’t get me wrong.  In the big scheme of things (since Bruce is neither my husband, father, brother, nor son), I couldn’t care less what he plans to do with his shriveled junk once he actually does the abracadabra and makes himself into a woman.  It’s his right to do whatever twinkles his toes, so have at it, Bruce.  My objection to his transformation is that it has been shoved down our throats by none other than the liberal media as such a brave, courageous, and progressive move on his part.  To suggest or even think anything to the contrary means that you are no better than a thoughtless Neanderthal, a knuckle-dragging cretin who does not support the LGBT community.

Really?  Thank you, Thought Police for telling me what I think.

Consider this:  Maybe it just means that Bruce’s entré into the world of hot flashes, mammograms, and sagging boobs does not qualify as news, as in, maybe this should be a private affair between him and his family.  Maybe it means that most of us have an entirely different definition for the word ‘courageous’.  Or, maybe it means that I’m jealous because I will never, ever, no matter what I do, get Annie Leibovitz to take my picture and slap my swimsuit clad self on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Then there’s the McKinney, Texas pool party debacle.  Hey, news outlets, here’s a tip:  Get the story straight before you report it, like, maybe rely upon more than the adolescent narrative of the 15 year-old who shot the video clip with his iPhone 4.  Report the story in its entire context, and for once, just try to widen your perspective.  Instead, we’re fed this mudslinging, murky, and misguided medley of news stories that have resulted in a flurry of haters tweeting, posting, and yelling from the rooftops that all police are racist and that those poor children were just trying to have a good time.

Sure, they were trying to have a good time, but did anyone stop to think why the police were called in the first place?  Or did anyone bother to interview any of the neighborhood residents to get their take on the day’s events?  I will concede that a police officer throwing down a 15 year-old girl looks really, really bad–okay, it is bad no matter how you slice it–but until you’re in that particular situation (as I have been as a teacher), you really don’t know the whole story.

Note to the media:  It’s your job to get the whole story in an unbiased, non-prejudicial manner.

I will say this for the progressive media:  They have mad SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.  Just for fun google ‘McKinney Pool Party’ and observe the positioning of the anti-police stories versus the page two or page three positions of the “other side of the story” stories.

Meanwhile, in other news:

  • A river cruise boat sailing on the Yangtze River in China carrying 450 passengers capsized and sank, killing at least 97 people.
  • Vice President Joe Biden lost his son Beau, an Iraqi war veteran, to brain cancer. What makes this news particularly heartbreaking is that the vice president also lost his first wife and a daughter in a 1972 car crash.  President Obama delivered an extraordinarily stunning eulogy at Major Biden’s funeral.
  • Chinese hackers are suspected of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing the identifying information of at least 4 million current and former federal workers.
  • Ninety-two year-old two-time cancer survivor and classical pianist Harriet Thompson finished the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in seven hours 24 minutes and 36 seconds.
  • Eight of the ten men who attempted to assassinate Malala Yousafzai were set free–and may never have been convicted in the first place–by a secret Afghani military court that found that some of the evidence against the eight men might not have been solid.

Instead, we get Bruce-Call-Me-Caitlyn Jenner and the progressive media’s cockeyed coverage of a Texas pool party.

I would say that all I want is fair and balanced reporting, but to use Fox News’ tagline is somewhat preposterous given that–though it may be what I’d like to hear–it’s hardly unbiased reporting.  Everyone has an agenda.

All I need are facts.  Just the facts, ma’am.

The Insidious Nature of Hatred

Today is Good Friday.  On this day, Christians all over the world commemorate the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ and anticipate His resurrection.  It is a solemn day and a good day to remember what a tenuous grasp we have on our right to Christianity.  Today also marks the beginning of Passover, the Jewish celebration and commemoration of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt and decades of slavery.

These holy days are following a couple of quite tumultuous weeks here in Indiana.  The entire nation has been focused on the RFRA signed by Governor Pence last week, who, after the hue and cry, sent the signed legislation back to the customer service department for a refund rewrite.

I have no idea what the hell it says now.

But here’s what has happened in the meantime.  In Kenya, 147 people were murdered by radical Islamists who stormed a university Thursday in Garissa near the Somali border.  In the carefully planned and executed attack, the gunmen flung open doors asking if there were Christians inside.  Those answering in the affirmative were shot on sight.  An Al Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab has taken credit for the attack, depending upon what news outlet you watch.  I’m sure that Hillary Clinton will want to blame it on a YouTube video.

On Wednesday, a South Bend television station reporter looking to make her nut on the backs of unsuspecting small business owners trolled through Elkhart county until she found a family-owned pizzeria to ambush:  Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, a small community with a large Mennonite population, was the target of this reporter’s particular zeal for fame.  After thrusting her microphone in the face of the unsuspecting restaurant owner and asking if she would cater a gay wedding, the young lady replied that while everyone is welcome in their restaurant, catering a gay wedding reception did go against their Christian beliefs.

I submit to you that pizza at a gay couple’s wedding reception might also infringe on the gay couple’s beliefs, but that’s beside the point.

Jess Dooley, a teacher at a local high school—a TEACHER, for crying out loud—tweeted, “Who’s going with me to burn down Memories Pizza?”  Guess all those diversity workshops that Jess attended as a teacher required her to be tolerant of people who share only her particular set of beliefs.

That, or she just started tweeting and doesn’t understand how social media works.

When I was teaching my eighth grade students about the Holocaust, I began the unit with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.  That treaty stripped Germany of practically everything, and the result was that, starving and with their country in utter shambles, the German people were willing to listen to anyone who promised them an easy solution.  So they listened to Hitler.  And Hitler’s solution to Germany’s problems was simple:  Eradicate the Jews.

As an aside, if anyone ever asks why the U.S. is involved in nation building, go back and read about the history of Germany following World War I.

The persecution of Jews in Europe didn’t begin and end with the concentration camps.  It began with a more insidious cancer—suggestions, remarks, statements, and finally proclamations that painted the Jewish population in Europe as the festering sore that created all this turmoil.  Kind of like how some people are beginning to paint Christianity.

Placing ourselves in tight little boxes, surrounded only by the people who share our beliefs, is a crummy way to live life.  To wit:  I have the most wonderful neighbors across the street from me.  They are kind, generous, and helpful—the very embodiment of the word ‘neighbor’.  The most curious thing about our friendship and mutual respect is that we do not share the same political beliefs, which in today’s world most often is the difference between a polite nod and a true friendship.  Not so for us.  Every time I talk with my neighbors, I learn something new, and our friendship grows that much stronger.  No, I’m not going to suddenly become a supporter of the other side, but our friendship reinforces, for both of us, I’d like to think, the idea that we don’t all have to live in the same little box.

While it is true that we are commanded to love one another, it is also true that we are endowed with the right to choose for ourselves our core beliefs and live our lives accordingly.  How we act upon those beliefs—whether we choose to love our neighbors or hate our neighbors—is our great challenge, but it makes all the difference.

Not only has history taught us this, so have current events, which are, unfortunately, serving to reinforce the fact that hatred is insidious.

The State of Indiana Needs Olivia Pope

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Recently, I started watching Scandal, that ABC über-slick drama (and I do mean drama) about Washington, D.C. mess cleaner-upper Olivia Pope.  That woman can put a spin on an anvil.

The State of Indiana needs someone like Olivia Pope who can take what appears to be really, really crappy, bigoted, right-wing nut job legislation and put a more realistic spin on it.  Or, maybe everyone just needs to read the actual bill and try to look at it from both sides.  Now.  And up and down.  And in and out.

I really don’t know clouds at all.

But I digress.  For my non-Hoosier friends, our governor, the wooden-headed Mike Pence, is about to sign into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which has everyone here in Indiana quite agitated.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In a nutshell, the law states, ““Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”  This means a couple of things to those of us who don’t speak legal-ese:  It means that if you own a business or provide a service, it will be more difficult for individuals to take legal action against you if those individuals feel that they have been the target of discrimination.  It means that religious groups, such as the Catholic Church, are not required to provide certain health care services to individuals under their employ if those services — birth control, for example — go against their core beliefs.  It means that if a bakery owner is a devout conservative Christian whose belief in a strict Biblical interpretation of marriage doesn’t include marriage between two people of the same sex, that bakery owner reserves the right to decline to make your wedding cake.

Yep.  That’s the one that has everyone in a tizzy.

The law does not mean that Indiana will revert to “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” entrances to public buildings.  It does not mean that African-Americans will now be relegated to the back of the bus.  It does not mean that LGBT individuals are now considered second class citizens. It does not mean that any one group will become the target of hatred, discrimination, and will have all of their civil rights abandoned because they belong to a protected class.

Historically, the initial bill was introduced into federal legislation by Chuck Shumer (D-NY) and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. However, the Supreme Court deemed the law unconstitutional as it applied to individual states.  Would it make you feel any better if you knew that the law was sparked by a Native American tribe’s desire to continue smoking peyote as part of their religious rituals?

Sparked.  Get it?

Or, would it make you feel any better that the federal law, the one introduced by a Democrat and signed into law by a Democrat, was opposed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?  He stated, with regard to the Native Americans who wanted to continue with their peyote ritual, that the law “would open the prospect of constitutionally required exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind.”

For those of you not familiar with Justice Scalia, he’s about as conservative as they come. He’s so far to the right, I’m surprised he doesn’t fall off his bench.

So you see, the outrage over Governor Pence signing the RFRA into law is mostly coming from those who believe that their rights will be violated.  But what about the rights of the other side?  Why should their rights be compromised?

Back to Governor Pence.  Earlier this year, the governor launched what he called a “state-run news service”.  Really? Whose idea was it to call it that?  The Soviet Ministry of Propaganda?  It was a bad idea that was introduced to the public in the worst possible way. Luckily for him, he ditched it after a few days.  “JustIN” became “JustOUT”.

Then there was his run-in with the overwhelmingly elected “little engine that could” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.  Pence had the audacity to sign legislation that stripped Ritz of her role as leader of the State Board of Education.  Then, in a half-baked attempt to soften that blow, he truncated the ISTEP test by a couple of hours so that third graders wouldn’t have to spend 12 1/2 hours on the test–a test that measures the competency of their teachers but doesn’t do a damn thing that’s good for students.  I don’t know a parent alive who gets up the first Monday of March and exclaims, “Yippee!  My child gets to take the ISTEP test this week!”

Let’s not even mention Pence’s ulterior motives, here.

That’s why Pence needs some Olivia Pope.  Whether you agree with him or not, his delivery sucks.  I’m not asking him to be a strictly populist governor, but for crying out loud, can you at least listen to the people who elected you?  And if you feel so strongly about something, would it hurt you to take out an op-ed in the Indianapolis Star that would support your argument?  You have a captive audience; however, these days, most of that audience would like to see you captive somewhere other than the State House.  Like in the zoo.

The takeaway from all of this should be and hopefully will be this:  Hold firm to your beliefs. Be kind to everyone.  God loves all of us, regardless of who we are.  If you own a business or provide a service, examine your conscience very carefully before you deny anyone the fruits of your labor or your particular talents or gifts.  Maybe in the long run this will teach us all to be more tolerant and understand that the greatest gift we as Americans enjoy is the fact that–at least for now–we’re free to hold fast to our beliefs.

And when I say tolerant, I mean tolerant.