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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The "Right" of Spring

  On Wednesday, May 1, Wiccans and Pagans will celebrate their second most important holiday. Beltane is a celebration of several things. It is a celebration of the end of the dark days of winter, and the return of the warmth of spring. It is a celebration of the renewal of the Earth and the season of fertility and growth. In ancient times, the people would have great feasts and light bonfires. Cattle and other livestock would run between two bonfires as a rite of purification, and in the hope that the animals would reproduce and there would be food for next winter. The farmers would spread the ashes of the great bonfires throughout their fields in the hopes that it would ensure a bountiful harvest. A great feeling of confidence could be felt, and a positive sense that the coming growing season would be a good one.
  It might sound kind of strange, but when you think about it, the attitudes and feelings of those ancient people are rather Conservative. They had a firm belief in their Gods and Goddesses that they were watching over them, and would see them through until the warm weather returned.
  Conservatives in general are positive, upbeat people. We know that we live in a land of endless opportunity, and if we are willing to work hard, there is no telling where it will take us. In those days, success meant survival. There was no doubt a beggar in every village. The world's first Liberals? Maybe, but the ancient people knew their success lied in their willingness to work for a bountiful harvest.
  For today's Conservatives, that harvest may come in the form of new ideas, new concepts, new plans and strategies. We love to share the notions of small government, entrepreneurship, and free markets. We are always eager to pass on the prospects of freedom and liberty to all. A bumper crop for Conservatives is young people who realize that Liberals will only try to break them down into groups, and attempt to pit those groups against each other. A bountiful growing season for us is when someone who has spent their whole life being told that they are a victim, and in America, they can never expect to be anything else, finally see that idea for what it is, a lie that has been perpetuated for generations.
  Our Liberal friends would not have fared well in that ancient time. They would have starved waiting for someone to hand them a loaf of bread. They would have angered all those around them by expecting the fruits of other's labor. And today? It just seems as if they are always angry, sullen, and victimized.
  The joy and rejuvenation of Beltane is a reminder of the optimism and certainty of a bright future that Conservatism holds. That is something that Wiccans and non-Wiccans alike can celebrate.
 It is an American celebration.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

  Last week, I was watching local TV coverage of flooding in nearby areas after a heavy day of rainfall. Storm sewers were over-flowing, not designed to handle a month's worth of rain in a 12 hour period. And, as is usually the case, here in the Midwest, along and around the mighty Mississippi, river towns brace for the river to overflow her banks.
  The report began in East St. Louis. A city already struggling with chronic unemployment, crime, and single-parent households, now the streets and people's homes were filling with water. Two, possibly three people were interviewed. They each had similar problems, and they all said the same thing. "Who is going to fix this? Who is going to help us"?
  The story then switched to tiny Clarksville Missouri. Springtime flooding is nothing new to Clarksville residents. So maybe, because it is something that goes hand in hand with life along the river, they were doing what they usually do at this time of year. Filling sandbags. The reporter interviewed a young woman in her twenties. She was sweaty and looked tired. The reporter asked, "It's hard work isn't it?" The girl replied, "Yes it is, but everyone in the community is coming out to help, and we will just do what we gotta do."
  Even though they will anyway, but before anyone says it, this is not a story about race. It is not about class or income. East St. Louis and Clarksville do have similarities. Median income in East St. Louis is approximately $24,000 a year. Median income in Clarksville is $29,000 a year. The percentage of people living below the poverty line in East St. Louis is around 35%. The below poverty line in Clarksville is roughly 22%. But is that where the similarities end?
  Both are river towns. Why is one that is so much smaller, willing to roll up their sleeves and fling sandbags, while the other waits for government assistance? Granted, there are two different types of flooding involved, but couldn't the people in Clarksville just as easily wait for a team from the Army Corps of Engineers, or the National Guard? Are the people of East St. Louis victims of decades of government bureaucrats promising to take care of their every need? Again, this not about race. The black population in Clarksville is 7%. In a city of just 450 people, that is a sizable portion. They are no doubt pitching in to help their community. If the white population in East St. Louis is waiting for help to come along, they are also the victims of the bureaucrats and crooked politicians that have strung along poor Illinois residents like those in East St. Louis for years as well.
  Could it be that the biggest difference is attitude? One town doing what needs to be done, and the other, just never learned how because the government told them they didn't need to?
  We all hope that both communities weather the storms and get through the flooding. All the storms. The ones that Mother Nature dishes out, and the ones that Uncle Sam tends to create.    

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Praying For Timothy McVeigh

  The hideous tragedy in Boston yesterday at the finish line at the end of the Boston Marathon shook our nation, and the world to our very core. Innocent people, enjoying the day, cheering on friends and family members as they reached the end of a grueling 26 mile race. Even if they did not win, many of those runners reached a personal goal in just finishing the race.
  Two explosions, we now know were basic kitchen pressure cookers filled with ball bearings, nails, glass, anything that would inflict the most damage on the human body, and in the most grotesque ways. Three people are confirmed dead and at least 170 people wounded. The thoughts and prayers of people around the world are with the people of Boston who have lost loved ones.
  In the midst of mind boggling horror, comes one absolute predictability. The usual suspects in the mainstream media, and their comical, were it not so sinister, acrobatics to blame Conservatives.
  The blood had not even been washed away on street corners before MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the army of Lollipop Kids claiming to be "journalists", dragged in their "experts", to explain to the unwashed masses, that this had to be the work of "right wing extremists."
  This is a phenomenon like no other. Anytime there is such an act of unthinkable violence such as this, be it Newtown, Aurora Colorado, Virginia Tech, the list, sadly enough, seems to always be growing, those hard-nosed gum shoes attempt to be the ones who break the story wide open, finding the deadly attack to be the work of a Tea Party group, maybe the NRA, or even better, some camouflage wearing Militia group tromping around in Idaho somewhere. If they believed in it, one would think that they are literally praying for a Timothy McVeigh wannabe. An anti-government, white supremacist type, intent on taking down those he feels are responsible for destroying his country.
  The most brazen example of course, after the terrible shooting in Colorado, when ABC's Brian Ross, on live television, accessed the Colorado Tea Party's online list of members, and just by sheer coincidence, found a member with a name that matched the shooter. Fantastic! Now we've got 'em! There is just one problem. The man on the Tea Party member list had no link to the shooting what so ever.
  It is painfully clear, that with each tragic incident, the mainstream media will become more and more aggressive in their attempt to link Conservatives to acts of violence. So the question must be asked, just how far are they willing to go? We know that they are willing to destroy lives, and then leave the destroyed to pick up what pieces they can, prime example, accused Olympic Park bomber Richard Jewell. But in the advent of Social Media, cameras recording every person's every move, and what is surely becoming a media favorite, the art and science of Photoshop, do they really have to do anything? Can't they just make up what is needed to complete the story and fill in the narrative? The answer may very well be yes.
  Fortunately, each time one of these sophomoric attempts, like Ross's is tried, it is usually quickly dis proven, and dropped. Especially when it is found out that the perpetrator has copies of "The Communist Manifesto" in his apartment, or shockingly, has ties to the Democrat Party.
  For the aging hippies now running news divisions, there might be a line somewhere. But for the newbies, beginning their illustrious journalism careers in the age of cyber bullying,
you be the judge.        

Sunday, April 7, 2013

To Love, Honor, and...Tax?

  When Edie Windsor and Thea Speyer met at a restaurant in the 60's, being gay was not only something to be hidden, even to the closest family and friends, in many places it was illegal. Edie and Thea began what would be a 44 year relationship. In 2007, they went to Canada, and were married. Edie lost Thea in 2009 after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Thea did what most people do, she left her assets and possessions to her spouse. There was just one problem. In the United States, their marriage was not recognized as legal. No sooner had Edie lost her lifelong partner, but she was hit with a massive estate tax bill, $363,000 to be exact. Edie also soon found out that, had she and Thea been a straight couple, there would have been no massive estate tax bill. So Edie sued the United States government.
  Oral arguments were heard just a few weeks ago at the Supreme Court on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay marriage has become a hot button topic with heated arguments on both sides. But this is not about whether or not Gay people should or should not be allowed to marry. The question for Conservatives should be, why is the federal government in the business of anybody's marriage?
  So what's in it for the federal government if they engage in the business of deciding who gets married and who doesn't? The first obvious answer is, they can issue a license and charge you for it. There is a nice racket right off the bat. The second obvious answer is that one's marital status can determine how much or how little you can be taxed. But is marriage a secular or a religious institution? The website,, argues that a marriage is "a set of religious ceremonies and regulations", and if the federal government dictates
 who can get married and who cannot, it violates the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution.
  Conservatives by definition are small government people, and having the federal government meddle in such things as marriage goes against those Conservative ideals. There is also a huge debate right now over the protection of our second amendment rights. Conservatives maintain that the government has no right to know how many and what kinds of guns one might own. Perhaps the biggest impending threat of government infringement in our lives, Obama care. Government health care will invade our daily lives in ways still unknown.
  Americans will have an opinion on Gay marriage based on a lot of things. More than likely, it will be an opinion based on their moral and religious beliefs. But if you are truly a small government Conservative, is this just another intrusion into daily life?
  Regardless of your feelings about Gay people or Gay marriage, Edie Windsor could probably use a little less intrusion.