I have recently finished my book on modern feminism, called Sexless: How Feminism Is Failing Women. Continue reading this entry »
I have recently finished my book on modern feminism, called Sexless: How Feminism Is Failing Women. Continue reading this entry »
WANTED: President of large country on the verge of adopting socialism. Need to take country over the top. Rudimentary knowledge of economic terms and foreign policy preferred, but not required. Ability to articulate grandiose ideas in English language a plus, but not mandatory if applicant can fake it sufficiently to impress ignorant voters. Must look good in a suit, and be willing to shamelessly pander to desperate, needy people.
Ahhh, so that’s how we ended up with President Obama.
I have often reflected that there is little actual reason for Americans to place their trust, faith, or hope in any President of the United States. Here is why: in reality, the President exercises both too much and too little power. Too much, because the Executive Branch has stepped far outside of its legitimate constitutional role. But in the world of perception, he also exercises too little power: the degree to which most Americans believe that the President controls what happens in both our government and our economy is laughable. So the individual who serves as the President of the United States should not matter to Americans as much as it does.
But not enough Americans even question this. Few point out the reality of this great deceit, least of all the President himself. And of course, our Senators and Congressmen happily go along with this perception: it gives them good cover. Yet if Americans really took a good look at the despicable collection of charlatans who are controlling our national purse-strings, they would all be dumped quite justifiably. It is an incestuous and dangerous relationship that we are witnessing. Rather than acting as a check on Executive Power as our Founding Fathers intended, our current legislature is handing the President control of the United States on a silver platter. So much for checks and balances. So much for the United States Constitution.
As a relatively new Twitterer, and as an observer of new Twitterers learning the ropes, it has become clear to me that there is a definite Twitter Metamorphosis. While some people seem to be hopelessly stuck at the caterpillar stage (indeed, this seems to be terminal for some Twitterers), I offer this analysis of the Five Stages of Twitter Metamorphosis to encourage newbies to persevere:
Huh, What? is the first stage. You have just signed up, and about all you can think to do is enter some pathetic update like: “I just joined Twitter.” That’s okay. You have no idea what you are doing. You stare at your own profile page with its lone statement, or you look at the entries of a general conversation, and you are not sure what to do. Who are these people? Why are they writing and who is bothering to read what they write? Big deal.
Yeah, Whatever is the second stage. Now, you have actually started to follow some people, and maybe a few people have followed you. You respond now and then, and maybe some people respond to you. But so what? You still don’t know why anybody is bothering. Twitter seems like a bunch of people making disjointed statements to no one in particular, and you begin to suspect a lot of Twitterers are friendless hermits sitting in front of their computers stuck in their own little Twitter worlds. That, or Twitter fanatics with 20,000 followers who are Web 2.0 geeks. And at least one quarter of your followers are people who clicked on your name so that they could sell you on some online MLM business that you have absolutely no interest in. You join in conversations now and then, but you still don’t quite see what all the fuss is about.
I usually write all my own blog material, rather than quote others or cite some other source just to fill space and keep current. However, today I am making an exception, for reasons that will be clear when you read this. While I have not verified this independently, I understand that this is a real letter that a small businessman wrote to his employees. It expresses more eloquently and poignantly than I can the crossroads we are at as a country: whether we will continue to encourage in the human spirit those values and ideals that made America great and prosperous, or whether we will sacrifice those virtues in exchange for the mediocrity and pudgy, starch-fed lethargy that have become the hallmarks of the citizens of the semi-socialist European countries. The choice is before us.
To All My Valued Employees,
There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.
Why must the United States government come up with the most convoluted ways of wasting our taxpayer dollars? They always seem to risk our welfare with a Hail Mary play when a simple hand-off would do the job.
When the Big Three Automakers found themselves in trouble and wanted $15 billion, an idea immediately sprang to my mind that would have solved the problem simply, elegantly, and effectively. It would not have increased taxes for Americans one penny. In fact, I could have made money for the government. And I would have helped the environment, too, and saved a lot of jobs. Let me explain.
First, the U.S. loans me $15 billion. I agree to pay it back with 10% simple interest return.
Second, I buy 600,000 hybrid vehicles from GM, Chrysler, and Ford, at $25,000 per vehicle. I will even buy through a wide swath of U.S. dealers, so the dealers get their cut. The U.S. Government provides that no taxes will be owed on these vehicles, since they will be making 10% interest. First benefit: This means that the UAW, auto company execs, and dealers actually have to work for the money, which is what they should do in order to get any money and stay employed.
Third, I start a nationwide lottery. I will only sell 180 million tickets, or 300 tickets per vehicle, at $100 per ticket. Granted, that is a lot of tickets at a high price, but every ticket will have a 1/300 chance of winning an automobile; that’s pretty good odds. There would be no limit on the number of tickets a person could buy, and every ticket would provide a chance at any car, but an individual could not win more than one car. Second benefit: purchase of the tickets, unlike a tax, is completely voluntary, meaning that no one is required to support this program.
Continue reading this entry »
The New York Times recently published an editorial by Nicholas Kristof citing several studies showing that conservatives not only give more money to charity overall, but give a greater percentage of their income to charity (“Bleeding Heart Tightwads,” Dec. 20, 2008). And lest anyone makes assumptions that people with more money need tax write-offs and are more likely to be conservative, let me add that the studies also concluded that: the working poor give a greater percentage of their income to charity; conservatives more often volunteer to help charitable causes than liberals; and conservatives donate more blood than liberals. Thus, the amount of money one has is not an accurate proxy for calculating how charitable one is.
To anyone but a conservative, these findings are probably a surprise. That is because there is a world of difference between what political conservatives and political liberals regard as “compassion.” In a nutshell: to the conservative, compassion is simply helping a poor person in need; to the liberal, it is telling someone richer than he is to help a poor person in need.
For many years now, the liberals have been able to bank, politically, on the notion that you can be “compassionate” simply by wanting to help the poor—whether or not you actually help them. Thus, the liberal Congressman casts himself as compassionate because the liberal wants to give one person’s money to another person under the mistaken notion that the other person deserves it more than the person who had it in the first place. In comparison, the conservative politician is cast as a stingy, greedy, heartless individual simply because he does not see why the government should be allowed to take one person’s earnings and give it to another person.
An American taxpayer is walking down the street. Suddenly, out of nowhere and without warning, a smelly, dirty, ragged, homeless thug hopped up on drugs steps out in front of him, hits him in the face, grabs his wallet, and then proceeds to kick and beat him just shy of senseless before running away. The poor taxpayer is left lying on the sidewalk, all bloody and bruised.
Immediately afterward, Eric Holder comes walking by, and sees him. He stops and asks what happened. The taxpayer tells him, and Holder says:
“Gee, I’d like to help you, but, see, I’m the Attorney General, and if you decide to pursue any legal action with regard to this incident, there’s a chance that my office may be involved in the case. So I’m sorry, but if by any chance you pull through, it really is in everyone’s best interest that I remain personally uninvolved in anything having to do with your situation. I’m only thinking of you. Good luck.”
Eric Holder continues walking down the street, pleased that he has avoided any conflicts of interest.
Next, Tom Daschle walks by, sees the poor taxpayer, and also asks what happened. So the taxpayer tells him, and he responds:
“Well, that is interesting. You do look to be in bad shape, and as the Director of Health and Human Services, let me just say that it is a really good thing that we now have nationalized healthcare to take care of people in your situation. Here, take this stack of forms and fill them out in triplicate. And especially make sure you read and sign the forms having to do with forgoing most of your rights. Then, make a copy for yourself, mail one set to the Office of National Healthcare in Washington, D.C., then bring the other copy to a medical facility approved and certified by our office of national healthcare. They’re all over the place: at least one in every state. Then, when they have checked your paperwork, if it is all correctly filled out, they will send you a form that allows you to request an appointment. Don’t worry, in a situation like yours, I am sure that you will be seen by an approved doctor or other medical professional within six to eight weeks. I’m just glad I could be here to help.”
Tom Daschle continues walking down the street, satisfied that he has, once again, been of tremendous service to the American taxpayer.
For some reason, I receive Parenting Magazine. I have never subscribed to it. I know that for a fact—this is not some, “Gee, I subscribe to so many, I don’t remember” things. The reason I know is that I have only ever subscribed to two magazines in the last 10 years. Who has time to read magazines? Besides, the two I do subscribe to I only subscribe to because they were ridiculously cheap offers, and I was hoping to find a few recipes in them. That’s all I want. If a year’s subscription nets me at least five recipes that the family likes and that I know will be keepers, I feel the whole effort has been worth it. Believe me, finding a recipe for a meal that the whole family will eat—with six individuals ages 50 down to 1 year—is a major accomplishment.
But getting back to this magazine: the problem is that I feel like I have to at least give each issue a quick perusal before I toss it out. Now, to be fair, there are some useful things in Parenting magazine. But for some reason, the whole tone of the magazine sticks in my craw. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but I think it is the assumptions the magazine makes about the parents who may be reading it. There’s this whole presumption that you’re, well . . . kind of an idiot. It is amazing how many things in the magazine are things that should not have to be said to a parent if that parent has any sense. I don’t mean everything, of course; but overall the editorial perspective seems to assume things about the modern American household that are entirely foreign to our own modern American household. I suppose that is why the people who read Parenting magazine are having all the problems that Parenting magazine talks about: they need someone to save them from their own foolishness.
Well, over Christmas I was doing a run-through of the back-issues stacked up here, and I came across an article from the October issue that just cements the whole problem for me. It is an article about a book called “Eat This, Not That,” and the book is billed as a guide for kids. Across the top of the book is a bright yellow banner stating “Be the Leanest, Fittest Family on the Block!” Sounds okay so far, right? Only the book is not a guide to teach kids about basic nutrition, or about which foods you can eat to address specific health issues or concerns. Instead, it is a book about which menu items are better choices at fast food franchises and chain restaurants, and which pre-packaged processed foods are better for you. No . . . I’m not kidding. Continue reading this entry »
It may seem uncharitable during this Christmas season to write an essay that is basically a rant, but I cannot help it. I went to the store to buy a traditional Christmas card—not a box of cards, but just one card, a special Christmas card—to hold some movie passes we bought as a gift for our babysitter. Our babysitter, like us, is Catholic. Or, shall we say, we are all practicing Catholics, as it seems that in this modern world, there is a not-so-small distinction between practicing and non-practicing Catholics.
And in this store, which shall remain unnamed, I could not find a single card that was remotely reminiscent of, well, Christmas. The card section was overflowing with Santas, snowmen, reindeer, trees, ornaments, stockings, snowy villages, wrapped gifts, and so on. Now, I do not want to be too presumptuous here, but doesn’t Christmas have something to do with a very special baby being born in a manger in Bethlehem? You would never know from the card selection.
To make matters worse, the Christmas card section had a separate heading for “religious” cards. I understand when there are separate “religious” headings for birthdays, mother’s day, or even weddings, but putting up a separate heading of “religious” for Christmas is incredibly irritating, as though Christmas is first a secular holiday, and only incidentally related to religion. After all, the day is named after Christ, in case anybody cared to notice. I mean, how come the Hanukkah cards did not have a separate “religious” section? This, to me, is like having a “religious” section for baptism cards.
A lot of people talk these days about how much they care about one cause or another. They are plastered all over the covers of magazines. Some people want to save the planet, others want to help all the starving children in Africa, or to free the people of Tibet, or oppose the atrocities in Darfur. I do not want to make light of these things; they are serious matters, (that is, all but the first one). But I’m not sure all this caring about the whole world is actually making the world a better place.
In particular, I am bemused by people who seem to make a contest of simply caring. They will say and do anything to prove that they care. They study what they care about; rarely do they question what they study, but they study, anyway. And when you run into those people, let me warn you: do not try to compete. They care about everything more than you do. They care so much that they buy T-shirts, bumper stickers, jeweled brooches shaped like ribbons, rubber bracelets, and baseball caps. This way, you can see that they care by what they wear, even if they have never been within 1,000 miles of what they care about. Apparently, their willingness to wear obnoxious fashion accessories is intended to demonstrate to the rest of the world how selfless they are. Continue reading this entry »