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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New York Times: Logic=Fail

Since it started nearly two months ago, the media has been scrambling to label the Occupy "movement" as sort of a left-wing Tea Party. (At this point, I hesitate to even use the word movement - thus far the Occupiers have been fairly sedentary. The only movements actually attributed to them have involved police cars and burning American flags.) While I have conceded in earlier posts that it is true that Occupy and the Tea Party share a few similar grievances, that is their only similarity. Their respective police records (well, OWS' police record and the Tea Party's lack of one) paint a pretty clear picture of that. However, that has not stopped the media and even the President from trying to draw the comparison, no matter how ludicrous it may be.

So imagine my surprise when I hear that the New York Times has published a book review that now draws a comparison between the Tea Party and the Ku Klux Klan...
"Imagine a political movement created in a moment of terrible anxiety, its origins shrouded in a peculiar combination of manipulation and grass-roots mobilization, its ranks dominated by Christian conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots, its agenda driven by its members’ fervent embrace of nationalism, nativism and moral regeneration, with more than a whiff of racism wafting through it."
Hmm. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are the same. And the Tea Party and the KKK are the same. Is anyone else mentally solving that proof? If A=B and A=C, then B=C... 

Occupy Wall Street and the KKK are one and the same! (which actually seems quite a bit more likely than the Tea Party being linked to either one.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Economically sound, morally bankrupt.

Black Friday. That term strikes a nerve with just about everyone. Whether it gets your blood pumping with the thrill of getting that great deal or it makes you slightly nauseous, it usually gets a reaction. And this Black Friday was no exception.

With sales starting as early as 10pm Thanksgiving Day, stores like Walmart were overrun before the clock even ticked to Black Friday proper. Sales were up an estimated 6.6% from 2010, and foot traffic increased by over 5%. Those are numbers that bring a welcome wave of relief to a nation that has been economically crippled over the last few years. But are those the numbers that really matter?

What about the multiple shootings over purchases? What about the multiple arrests for fighting over video games and toys? What about the 20 people who had to be treated after being doused with pepper spray by a woman who "just wanted to get to the front of the line" without people getting in her way?

To those willing to stand out in the cold and wait for a store to open, I say "good for you." To those willing to stand in line for hours on end waiting for that perfect deal, I say "good for you too." To those willing to throw down in the middle of Walmart in order to save $50, I say "it's going to cost your friend more than that to bail you out."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving with family

There are things that I thank God for every day. The fact that He loved me when I was most unlovable. The fact that He forgave me when I was unforgivable. The fact that although I deserve none of it, He has seen fit to bless me daily with friends and family who remind me every day of His great love for His children.
Today I'd like to take a minute to mention those that I am most thankful for.

My son Kevin, who made me a proud mommy nine years ago. Every day he reminds me that there are truly considerate people in the world. Whether he is cleaning the bathrooms without being asked or begging me to pull over so that he can give his lunch to the homeless veteran standing on the corner, he never ceases to make me proud that I had a part in bringing him into this world.

My daughter Suzy, who arrived two years later. When she was an infant, everyone thought she looked serious. After seven years, I am convinced that she was absorbing everything. Her intelligence and sense of humor are truly impressive, and she surprises me with something new every day.

My daughter Brooklyn, the five-year-old who thanks me after every meal for the vegetables that she just spent thirty minutes trying to avoid. The blonde, blue-eyed Dakota-Fanning-look-alike who begged to go to preschool when her temperature hit 101, but smiled and said "That's okay, Mommy," when I dropped the ball and forgot about her field trip to the pumpkin farm.

My daughter Evie (Olivia), the three-year-old whose giggle can light up any room. She eats my Greek salad when I'm not looking, and she has long, in depth conversations with her stuffed Rapunzel doll. When it's nap time and Brooklyn is at school, she cons me into letting her curl up with me on the couch while we watch old movies. "Nick and Nora" (The Thin Man) is her favorite.

My stepson Jimmy, who drives me insane whistling in the house and humming the Star Wars theme over and over. He burns more energy in an average day than I have in a week, and he almost always has a cheeky smile on his face. The cuteness factor is immeasurable.

My extended family - to include the Greenplates, the Krutas, the Stephens - for keeping me entertained throughout the years and for taking me with a grain of salt when I was less than entertaining.

But mostly, my husband Jim. He took on four children who weren't his own (and treats them as if they are) in order to be with me. He takes time every day to remind me that I am loved. Sometimes he says it with flowers. Sometimes he says it by thanking me for making dinner or picking the kids up after school. Sometimes he says it by laughing at my jokes even though he's heard me tell them before. But he never fails to say it.

Prepping for dinner*
Jimmy (duh)*
Jim battles the mighty bottle...*
Jimmy and Aunt "Cake" (Kate)*
Aunt Valleri. And gingerbread cookies courtesy of my mother.*
Did someone say pie?
The kids' table.*

Another year has passed, and there is so much to thank God for that I could easily bore you to tears. Instead, I leave you to your comfy pants, your football games and your early morning shopping sprees. Happy Thanksgiving, all, and God Bless.
*photos courtesy of Catherine Kruta

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't that Trump all...

Months ago, Donald Trump was all over the news talking about a possible run for the Presidency. Some thought he was doing it to gain additional publicity for his television show, The Apprentice. Most people dismissed the thought out of hand because no one believed that Trump would consent to the personal financial disclosures necessary for such a campaign. His recent book begs to differ, releasing all of the financial information required in what could be a precursor to a legitimate run.

Trump himself has been outspoken about the fact that he hasn't completely counted himself out. He has talked openly about what he might feel compelled to do if the Republicans "pick the wrong candidate." He has also been quite transparent in regards to his opinions of the current administration and its disastrous policies.

But here's the problem: he really can't afford to wait and see if the Republicans "pick the right guy." If he waits until after the primary, entering the race would be a crap shoot at best - since he would most likely have to enter as a write-in or an independent. Running as an independent is risky, since given his personal leanings he is most likely to split the Republican ticket. That could result in basically handing the election to Obama. As for the write-in idea, if anyone could pull off the massive advertising coup required to fund a successful write-in campaign it would be the Donald.

Regardless, the best thing he can do (if he is indeed serious) is watch and wait and jump in right before the primary. He has the name recognition already, and he has been vocal enough up to this point that at least the educated voters (and that's who will be showing up at the primary polls anyway) have a good idea where he stands.

Whatever happens, I still say that I would pay to see Trump debate Obama with no teleprompter, no phone-a-friend, no lifeline.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hindsight is 20/20

I'm starting to wonder if time spent in the Army has contributed to my intolerance. Not intolerance of other viewpoints, but intolerance of willful ignorance and laziness. I spent most of my time at Fort Leonard Wood working in the Troop Clinic, or the CTMC. We saw hundreds of patients each day in the x-ray department, and most of them had no business being there. They didn't want to go to PT (Physical Training), their best friends were sick and they were tagging along, or they wanted to see if they could get their hands on some free cough drops or painkillers.

Those trainees are what I see every time I drive past Kiener Plaza in St. Louis. People who are mad at "predatory lenders" even though they didn't sign their student loan paperwork at gunpoint remind me of the trainees who want to go home after two weeks because "no one told me it would be this hard."

Suck it up, people. If you signed your name to something without reading it first, you should be blamed twice. First for signing a bad deal, and second for being dumb enough to do it without questioning it first.

Hindsight is 20/20, but now that you're in the situation you have two options. You can be these guys:

Or you can be these guys:

Any questions?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stupidity escalated to an art form.

I thought the OWS protesters had done a pretty good job of marginalizing themselves when they tried to make what may have been at one time a legitimate point by defecating on a police car.

I stood corrected when I heard about a man whose "capitalist pig of a boss" ruined his life because he fired him for excessive absences accrued during his attempt to arrange sexual reassignment surgery. For that reason, the man became a Maoist and joined the protest, proudly carrying a Chinese flag
Further correction came when Occupy Denver elected a 3-year-old border collie to act as their representative in civil negotiations. And still more with the 2500 arrests (and still counting), the 250 plus violent offenses, and hundreds of allegations of sexual assault - including one in St. Louis that police say could easily have been prevented with more decisive mayoral action.

But yesterday took the cake. In what was supposed to be an organized day of action, protesters once again went on the march in New York City. They peacefully blocked traffic. They peacefully flipped the hat off a policeman. They peacefully jumped over law enforcement barricades. They peacefully threw vinegar in peoples' faces. And then they peacefully marched to the Department of Education Building (which they apparently thought was City Hall) and chanted "Bloomberg must go!" until they realized their mistake.

Um, guys? You looked stupid enough already. But now you have made it clear that you don't even know the city you claim to "occupy." The only thing you stand a chance of occupying (other than possibly a jail cell) is a place in history as one of the worst jokes ever pulled off in a public place.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A day off for pampering?

Bear with me, as I am suffering from a dry socket following the removal of a tooth last Thursday. So far this week I have written a paper under the influence of narcotics and assembled nearly 100 pairs of earrings. (No, I'm not kidding about the earrings. You'll understand in a minute.)

Tomorrow I take my first major step in a new business venture. For the last year or so, I have been experimenting with chain maille jewelry. And tomorrow my whole collection goes on display for public consumption for the first time.

It all started with Jim. He made a few large pieces a few years ago - more armor than jewelry - and a beautiful banner for a friend from the Kansas City Renaissance Faire. When he took me out to Kansas City, I met a woman who made chain maille jewelry and was immediately interested. So one night after Jim crashed, I started playing with his stuff...

Since then, I have used patterns modified from traditional armor chain maille and some patterns that I have improvised for particular pieces. 

A friend who owns a day spa asked if I would like to bring some of my jewelry out to her next open house and set up a display. So...

If you're in the St. Louis area, come out to Elegant Designs Day Spa (15648 Manchester Rd in Ellisville) from 5-8pm tomorrow (Thursday, November 17). They are hosting their annual open house, which includes free gifts, food, free chair massages (and Amanda is AMAZING), free paraffin hand treatments, and several other vendors besides myself.

If you are headed out to the next STLTPC After Party, come in and relax on your way there. It is just 2.6 miles from the Sky Music Lounge, so it's on your way anyway!

Monday, November 14, 2011

What the Prof *really* means by "great student debate"...

Yesterday I got dismissed from a student discussion group. It was a Facebook discussion group for current and former students in anthropology at SIUE, where I currently attend. I took the course last spring, and occasionally browsed the page and commented. 

Last week, someone posted the following picture with the comment. "I couldn't agree more."
I read on to see some of the student comments, and as I have seen in so many other forums, a correlation was drawn between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tea Party.

At this point, the professor chimed in with "Great student debate! I am truly enjoying watching you all think critically about the social criticisms going on in the world today."

I took the opportunity to point out a few of the fundamental differences between Occupy and the Tea Party - namely the fact that Occupy has a complicit mainstream media, the endorsement of many politicians and a stunning arrest record - while the Tea Party boasts none of those things. 

The professor responded with allegations of "misinformation presented by the Tea Party" and "discriminatory signage."

My response? I demanded examples of the "misinformation', as in my personal experience, Tea Party activists generally understand the Constitution and the way government is supposed to work better than the politicians who are supposed to be representing them.

As it turned out, she didn't have many examples of the misinformation. (The only specific things she mentioned were the "birther" issue and the rumor that Obama was a Muslim.) What she did have was a handful of links to articles that backed up her position. First up, a hit piece from the Washington post that was propaganda and race-baiting wrapped up nicely and labeled objective journalism. Next was a link to a CBS story which she prefaced by saying "I hate to use CBS because they are so conservatively biased." And finally, a story about Sheriff Joe Arpaio from the Huffington Post referencing "birthers." (That last included no warning concerning possible bias.)

I called her out on tossing a hit piece like it was fact. I cited a study on Media Bias that not only identified CBS as left of center, but specifically labeled some CBS affiliates as "far left" even in comparison to NBC. I then pointed out two very important things: First, the "birther" rumor was started during the 2008 primary by a friend of the Hillary Clinton campaign in order to hopefully disqualify Obama before he could even win the nomination. And second, more than one nationwide poll has concluded within the last two years that nearly one-fifth of all Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim. 

Within hours I was kicked out of the discussion group and blocked from the page. No challenge. No rebuttal. No "great student debate." Just the simple split-second (cowardly) push of a button to remove my name from a list.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Memorial Wall

I don't have much to add, as this list really speaks for itself. 

I grew up hearing my Grandpa Stephens (Noel) tell funny stories about his time on Guam, how seasick he was on the boat ride there, the horrible sunburn he got collecting shells when he got a day off, and the B-29 unit he was with that only lost one plane while he was with them. He told us that he only joined the Army in the first place because he was inspired to do so while watching the film Mrs. Miniver. He talked about marching up and down the Atlantic City Boardwalk in a gas mask during Basic Training, and a year spent studying engineering at University of South Dakota (where he met my Grandmother, Shirley). He talked about infantry training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, back when it was still mostly farmland. He talked about the Air Force Base in Nebraska that was rumored to be under increased threat, and the crazy guy who freaked out on guard duty and shot the plane he was supposed to be guarding because he thought it was an intruder. From drunk men counting their way to their beds at night to coffee and two eggs for $.24, he had stories about all of it.

My Grandpa Greenplate (William F. Sr.) didn't tell stories. When we asked, he talked about the Christmas he spent in a Belgian family's basement eating C-ration canned spaghetti. He didn't tell us that he had left his wife and three young children (Alvin, William F. Jr., and Liz) back in Delaware. He didn't tell us that his unit got surrounded in Bastogne with the 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge, one of the most brutal campaigns in the European theater. He didn't tell us about the railroad tracks that stood perpendicular to the ground after the bombings, looking like ladders to nowhere. He didn't tell us that he was part of the self-named "Team Snafu," a mismatched group comprised of those who had survived the constant onslaught of Germans. While Team Snafu did have a few soldiers like my Grandfather, who was a tank mechanic and an expert marksman, they grabbed anyone who could handle a rifle. These men were thrown together into a makeshift combat unit as a last desperate attempt to keep the Germans from taking Bastogne. He didn't tell us about marching in to liberate the concentration camps. He didn't tell us about the carts overloaded with the emaciated bodies of those they were too late to save. We pieced all of those things together from photo albums and documents found in his home after he passed away in 1994.

In our house, America was sacred. My little sister got yelled at for intentionally singing the National Anthem off-key. We were taught the Pledge of Allegiance before we ever set foot in a classroom, and sang the music of George M. Cohan in our car. 

Flash forward to college: after three semesters at Truman State University in Missouri, I still felt like I had no direction. Then one morning I walked into the Student Union Building, and my life changed. An Army Reserve Recruiter invited me to sit down, and I did. The rest, as they say, is history. My history. My family's history. America's history. 

Nathaniel Greenplate: PVT – 166th PA Infantry 1862-1863
John Greenplate: PVT – 9th PA Cavalry 1864-1865 fought in Carolinas

Guy A White – USN WWII
William Morris – US Army Europe WWII
Frank Morris – US Army Europe WWII
Norris Greenplate – USN South Pacific WWII

William F Greenplate Sr: SSGt– 12th Armored Group, 9th Armored Div. Europe (Longvilly, Bastogne) 1944-45 (my grandfather)
William F. Greenplate, Sr, far right
William F. Greenplate, Sr, left

Alvin E Greenplate: NCO – Delaware National Guard 11 years (50s & 60s)
William F Greenplate Jr: Spec 5– 577th Army Combat Engineer BN, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam, 1967-1968 (Tet Offensive)

Benjamin Greenplate: SSG - Huey Mechanic, killed 17 June 1989 in a crash during a training mission.
Jimmy Greenplate: MSG – Delaware National Guard – Construction Engineers Deployed to Iraq at least once.

John Greenplate: CPT – 1863rd Medical Detachment, 44th Medical Command, Kandahar Afghanistan 2002-2003 (my father)
John T. Greenplate, right
John T. Greenplate with Afghani children
Proud Grandpa, weeks prior to deployment
Same Grandpa, same baby, post deployment

Virginia (Greenplate) Kruta: SPC - US Army Reserve 1999-2005, US Army Medical Command (Active Duty) 2005-2010 (me)
Xray school graduation with Brooklyn, now 5
Veteran's Day program at Good Shepherd Lutheran School, 2011
My husband Jim, who by my standards qualifies as a veteran 
for all he did for me while I was still enlisted.

Noel C. Stephens: SSG Army Air Corps, 1944, Guam. Received Bronze Star for meritorious service. 2LT US Air Force Reserve, 1948(my grandfather)
Noel C. Stephens, 2nd from right
Noel C. Stephens, circa 1944

William Stephens: Air Force, post WWII
Fritz Stephens: USN
Wayne Stephens: 100th Infantry Division, wounded in France. 

Charles (Casey) Kruta: captured during the Battle of the Bulge and executed by the German Army
Joe (Peppy) Kruta: USN
Frank Kruta

Pete Dochwat: WWII
Joseph Kuhach: buried at Jefferson Barracks

Arlen Edmisten: USMC, 1947-1949
Charles Edmisten: Army, Vietnam
Thomas Edmisten: USMC
Donald Edmisten: died in Giessen, Germany
James Edmisten: Army

Philip Hicks: SPC, Army. Currently serving in Okinawa, Japan.
Phil and Becky Hicks
Phil in full gear.

Thanks to my family for instilling in me values that are worth protecting. Thank you to all those who went before me, who stood with me, and who will come after me. America is better because of your sacrifice, no matter how small.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank an Army Wife

She is trivialized. She is marginalized. She is constantly taken for granted and parodied on television. And she is recognized only when in her darkest hour, she is handed the folded flag that once draped her husband's coffin.

Soldiers sacrifice things everyday. They miss family gatherings, birthdays, and the important first steps of their children while they live in tents with one ear open for the next rocket attack. Unit commanders do not schedule field training exercises to accommodate school Christmas Pageants, and deployments are not delayed to allow soldiers to witness the birth of a child.

While I don't ever intend to diminish the sacrifice of the soldier, I do think it is important that we recognize - especially on Veteran's Day - the sacrifice of the soldier's wife and family.

After all, it is the soldier's wife who holds the family together when he can't be there. She is a single mother who isn't truly single, a dependent who has no choice but to be entirely independent. She alone makes sure the kids get to school and church, takes them to the park, cooks them dinner. She alone bears the burden of explaining to them, sometimes daily, why Daddy has to be away for such a long time. Her heart breaks when he returns and the children are afraid of their own father. And just about every day, there is that thought lurking in the back of her mind that the next time the doorbell rings she will open it to her husband's commanding officer.

She truly "leaves her family and cleaves to her husband," following him to duty station after duty station. Each time, she leaves friends, family, and a job of her own. Each time, she has to box up everything she owns and decide what is important enough to keep. Often, she goes through all or most of a pregnancy and even the birth of a child alone and in an unfamiliar place. She may have friends and a good doctor, but the one person she cannot have by her side is the only person who would make the experience complete.

Don't just thank a soldier this Veteran's Day. Thank his wife. Thank her husband. Thank their children and their parents. Because every day, they sacrifice something for your freedom as well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

St. Louis Veteran's Day Parade: a Sad Referendum on the Priorities of Americans

This past Saturday, my husband and I took the kids downtown to see the annual St Louis Veteran's Day Parade and ceremony. We arrived just as things were getting started, and were surprised that we were able to park less than a full city block from the event. As we walked toward Soldiers Memorial, we saw drill teams straightening their uniforms. We saw older gentlemen wearing hats that identified them to certain military units, naval ships/submarines or battles. We saw people wearing gold stars denoting a family member killed in action. What we didn't see were fellow spectators.

We made our way into the museum, and in rooms that should have been lined wall-to-wall with Americans paying their respects, we were able to move freely - we even had to caution the children more than once not to run, though they easily had room to do so. My nine-year-old was fascinated by the torpedo models and the large caliber bullets on display. His eyes grew to saucer-size as I explained to him what a depth charge was designed to do, and he exclaimed, "I saw those in Finding Nemo" when we came to the nautical mine. When we passed the current Army uniform hanging in the case, my three-year-old pointed and said, "That's what Mommy weared at the hoppable!" (I was stationed at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.)

The ceremonies began shortly after we arrived, and we stood on the street while the St Louis Women's American Legion Post gave a tribute to POW/MIA/KIA's. I was holding it together until they played Taps, and I was suddenly reminded again why I had made it a point to be inside at 9pm when I lived on base. The tears threatened again when they played God Bless America, and I was secretly grateful that we had been in the bathroom (thanks to tiny five-year-old-bladders and a surprise baby tooth falling out in a donut) when they had played the National Anthem.

By the time the parade began, there were maybe 100-150 people gathered along the visible parade route. As the parade began, they were cheering and waving flags. It became unfortunately clear within the first ten minutes that there were more people actually *in* the parade than watching it. If you had removed those spectators who were themselves veterans and left only those who came to support them, the audience would have been barely noticeable.

It made me sad to think that in the face of fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much, the average American can't be bothered to spend one Saturday morning dedicating their time to the honor of those who have served. Saturday morning was a sad referendum on the priorities of the American citizen.

My husband said it best: "If Americans had their priorities straight, there would have been more people at that parade than there were in St. Louis last week for game 7 of the World Series."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hello, Nero.

America is burning.
Because of the ridiculous "Occupy" movement, some places are quite literally in flames. Just yesterday in Oakland a Men's Wearhouse was vandalized - even after they had closed the business for the day November 2nd leaving only a sign in the window expressing the company's support for the 99%.

Also in Oakland, a Whole Foods Market was vandalized as well. The windows were smashed and the property was thoroughly doused in spray paint.
This adds to the growing list of acts of vandalism and violence perpetrated by the Occupy movement in various cities, and much of it still goes unreported by the mainstream media. Rapes, assaults, and other crimes are being "handled internally" by the groups of protesters. Police are being actively prevented from acting in their legitimate capacity, both by protesters and local bureaucrats, and then being maligned and ridiculed when they do what little they can to maintain some semblance of order. The media, instead of covering the actual story - the violence, vandalism and threats - encourages the insanity by echoing the protesters' cries of "police brutality!"

Meanwhile, the GOP nominees are playing "Gotcha Last" with the recent allegations against candidate Herman Cain.  Cain blames the Perry campaign. The Perry campaign blames the Romney campaign. And then the Cain guys start to waffle on the accusation... The public wonders if it might be an attack from the Obama camp, and most of the right wing pundits are sure that it was an inside job. The irony of the situation is that no one can actually find any hard evidence against Herman Cain to substantiate the claims. And even if they could and he is guilty, he is guilty only of making a completely nonsexual statement that may or may not have made someone uncomfortable fifteen years ago. As Dana Loesch said today on her show, this is the first sex scandal in American political history that doesn't in any way involve sex.
The media aggressively covers this "nontroversy" (thanks for the new word, Dana) as if it will suddenly sprout wings and become the vehicle they need to bring down a GOP contender, and their unfair coverage has even people who didn't support Cain up to this point in a spin over it.

While Rome burns, what do you suppose Nero is doing? 
Another multi-million-dollar taxpayer-funded luxury vacation? (maybe) Hot wings from the private chef at 1am? (maybe) Whining incessantly about the NBA's inability to come to an agreement and start the season already? (probably)

Passing executive order after executive order while no one is looking at him? DING!DING!DING! Thank you for playing...

Executive orders of every stripe are making their way out of the Oval Office. Some are meant to curb drug shortages, but most seem to be aimed at making an end run around Congress and their failure to jump up and down and wring their hands in excitement over Obama's "jobs bill," a.k.a. New Stimulus Same as the Old Stimulus... The media and leftwing bloggers seem intent on blaming Congress's inaction on roadblocks thrown up by Republican legislators, but the reality is that the two Democrats who spent most of the last two years in Obama's pocket are the ones holding things up. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, has vocally criticized parts of the jobs bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid flat out refused to even bring the measure to a vote. Yep, sounds like Republican obstructionism to me.

The real problem is the nature of the executive order. The executive order is the simplest way for the President to enact his will unilaterally, and there are only three ways for anyone to get rid of those orders once they are in place. First, the President (or a subsequent President) can repeal the measure himself. Second, Congress can pass a law that supersedes the measure. And third, the Supreme Court can declare the measure unConstitutional - but the Supreme Court is restricted, since someone must first file a lawsuit that addresses the issue before they can issue a ruling.

So while Rome burns, Nero is acting unilaterally and unchecked. And the media (with the help of a few useful idiots)is generously providing enough cover fire for him to get away clean.

Remedial Literature, Lesson 1

In the spirit of Occupy Wall Street, I would like to offer an educational opportunity free of charge and equally available to everyone. The course is entitled "Remedial Literature 101," or "Classics for Dummies."
Throughout the duration of this course, we will be discussing the liberal misinterpretation and misapplication of several well-known pieces of literature. Let's jump right in, shall we?

Today's lesson is over the classic story of Robin Hood, a tale that dates back as far as the 15th century and has been retold hundreds upon thousands of times. The recurring theme, according to liberals, is the layman who outsmarts the system in order to "rob from the rich in order to help the poor." They then apply that theme to governance, claiming that by instituting a progressive tax scale and forcing the rich to pay "their fair share," they are in effect becoming modern day Robin Hoods. "Take from the rich to feed the poor!" is their rallying cry, and they pat each other on the back each time they implement a new government program at taxpayer expense.

To find the misinterpretation here, one does not need to read the Robin Hood legends or even the Cliff's Notes. One needs only to go as far as Walt Disney's animated feature of the same name. 

Prince John - evil, greedy Prince who taxed the people unfairly to further his own ends
Sheriff of Nottingham - corrupt government official who ensured that taxes were collected
Robin Hood - saves the people by taking back their own tax money from the corrupt government

In the story, there is a corrupt government represented by a greedy Prince and his Sheriff enforcer. (It's not too  great a stretch to see the federal government and the IRS in these roles.) With the help of the Sheriff, the Prince unfairly and excessively taxed the people - much like in the United States where the "rich" can expect to pay up to 35% of their income in federal taxes alone (total tax rates of the top 1% of earners can easily exceed 50%) while others pay no taxes at all. Last year the top 1% of earners had 19% of the income and 37% of the tax burden. The top 10% of earners shouldered 68% of the tax burden.

Enter Robin Hood, the savior of the people. But instead of robbing from the rich to help the poor as liberals like to claim, he does something quite different. He robs the government of its unfairly accrued tax revenues and returns the money to the poor. The poor who are only poor because of the unfair tax burden placed upon them by the corrupt and greedy in the first place...

Rather than a large government with plenty of tax revenue (which is, in theory, to be used to take care of the poor), Robin Hood advocates the money and the power remaining in the hands of the people. Progressive taxes and liberal policies fly in the face of Robin Hood, and yet progressives and liberals still insist on claiming his motto as their own. This is clearly a misapplication of the original story.

The real Robin Hoods are the people advocating the rewriting of the United States tax code and the implementation of a fair tax, not the ones trying to take more from those who are already paying the lion's share.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I did not have a benign conversation with that woman

Over the last month or so, after an unexpected and massive surge in the polls, the media has been tripping over itself to vet GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain

His biography speaks to the classic American rags-to-riches story - a family with parents working multiple jobs, barely scraping by and saving everything they have in order to buy a home, two boys graduating from college because their parents wanted them to have a better life... When you add in the fact that it was a black family doing all of these things in the still segregated deep south, the story become that much more powerful.

Herman Cain applied his home-acquired work ethic to his Morehouse and Purdue-acquired education and thrived in the business world. He spearheaded major turnarounds in both a poorly-run region of the Burger King Corporation and Godfather's Pizza (which he brought back from near bankruptcy). He brushed with the Clinton Administration over healthcare reform at a townhall meeting, raising enough questions for Newsweek to subsequently name Herman Cain the "primary saboteur" of Hillarycare.

In the last few days, however, Cain has found himself under fire for 15-20 year old allegations of harassment. Of course, the media has had a field day with the story. Greta van Susteren accused Cain of having a "roaming eye" in a live interview, and rumors have swirled following his initial denial of any sexual harassment charges. The fact is, that the Restaurant Association settled the issues without really involving Cain in the cases at all. It is likely that until he did some research following the media coverage, he was completely unaware of many of the details.
That being said, Cain did recall one incident in which he gestured to indicate height (without touching the woman with whom he was speaking) and casually mentioned that she was about the same height as his wife. Now, I could be wrong, but to me that doesn't pass the reasonable person test (the test used to determine harassment based on whether most reasonable people would feel harassed by the action or words). I realize that there are all kinds of bizarre things that men find attractive - uneven ears, cankles or unibrows just to name a few - and I am sure that some men prefer their women to be tall or short or of some particular build, but the idea that Herman Cain was coming on to a woman simply because he related her height to someone he was attracted to (his wife) is ludicrous. That would be like me saying to someone I just met, "Hey, you're a baker? No kidding, my husband is a baker too!" and then spending the rest of my life terrified that he had thought I was trying to put the moves on him.

Incidentally, if "hey, you're the same height as my wife!" is the best pick up line Herman Cain can come up with, we have nothing to worry about when it comes to possible presidential dallyings... And when you consider Bill Clinton's spotty record when it comes to women and harassment, if the allegations turn out to be true then Cain is shaping up to be remembered by liberals as one of the great ones.