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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rolling Stone Magazine- New Media's BFF

  Newspaper readership and viewership of mainstream news continues to plummet. Many will tell you it is because of the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that more and more people, especially young people get their news and information from the Internet. But could it be more than that? Could it be that more than ever, mainstream media makes themselves part of the story? Could it be what appears to be a lack of research, the already formulated narrative of any given story, or the complete and transparent bias shown by most mainstream media journalists? Rolling Stone Magazine may be best equipped to answer those questions.
  A recent article in Rolling Stone chronicled the story of "Jackie". Jackie claimed to have been gang raped by several men at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia. The story was very graphic and detailed. The incident took place in 2012, when Jackie said she was attending a party at a fraternity house with someone named "Drew". She says she was lured into a darkened room and raped by by five men. She later claimed it was seven men. Understandably, Jackie's life has not been the same since. She has been traumatized by this incident. When the story came to light however, a lot of questions began to surface, not just about Jackie's actual story, but the reporter behind the story, and her less than conventional way of writing it.
  So many young idealists enter into Journalism School each year with the goal of "changing the world", or something equally cheesy. That is a lofty goal, but it is not your job as a journalist. Contrary to what today's J-school students believe, it is not exactly rocket science to just report the facts of who, what, when, how, and why, which is your job.
  The author of the Rolling Stone piece, Sabrina Rubin Erdely failed to do quite a lot of those things in her piece. She obviously developed a great rapport with her subject, granted, very important. But she left a few things out, like the entire other side of the story. Erdely claims at Jackie's request, that she not contact the men accused of this crime. Even citizen journalists know that is an absolute game changer. What reporter worth their salt does not get both sides of the story or make such an agreement? Apparently, Erdely did not find this necessary. So now, you have a very gripping tale, but when do the accused get to tell their side?
  Other parts of the story began to unravel as well. As stated earlier, the number of assailants changed from five to seven. The fraternity in question said that no party or function was held on that weekend. Jackie also claimed that her date for the evening, "Drew", worked as a lifeguard at the campus pool and aquatic center. The fraternity's records indicate that none of their members held such a job. Even some of Jackie's close friends began to question her version of the evening's events.
  One might ask, where is
justice for Jackie? If this assault did indeed occur, will these men be held accountable? The sad truth is, more than likely not. There is certainly no forensic or DNA evidence left, Drew remains a mysterious character, if that is even his real name, and Jackie did not know the names of any of the other men involved.
  But there are other parts of the story looming. The first one being the perpetuating of the stereotype of the drunken horny frat guy. They are on every college campus in America for sure. But as with most stereotypes, it is a small percentage, and does not represent the majority. Then there is the much bigger question of shoddy reporting, and preconceived narratives. It is stories and journalists like this that are prompting more and more people to turn to alternate and new media sources. The moniker of Citizen Journalist is still no doubt mocked and snickered at in all of the Left Wing media circles. The advent of websites like Matt Drudge, The Blaze, and Breitbart are comedic fodder at all of the proper Manhattan cocktail parties that appear to be mandatory gatherings for media/political types. What happens though, when the mainstream media is totally preoccupied with their own sense of arrogance and grandeur, that all of a sudden they find that no one is watching anymore? That no one cares what they have to say before they even say it because, well, it will just be so predictable? That they have been replaced by the New Media? The one without an agenda?
  Sadly, there are more "journalists" out there like Sabrina Rubin Erdely, all ready to emerge from Journalism School to "change the world".
  It might just be that New media is already beating them to it.
             

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Days of Infamy

  Seventy-three years ago to the day, on a lazy Sunday morning in December, America was jolted awake by one of the most horrific attacks in its history. Naval and Air forces of the Empire of Japan destroyed the U.S. Military Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The intensity and brutality of the attack prompted many young men to immediately enlist in the military to defend America. Today, senior citizens in their 80's and 90's can tell you where they were and what they were doing on that morning. President Franklin Roosevelt would describe it as "a day which will live in infamy".
  Twenty-two years later, on an autumn day in November, a young, popular, vibrant President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a car through downtown Dallas Texas. It was not the first time in American history that a president was assassinated, but it was the first time that Americans heard and saw first-hand accounts on television. Once again, ask anyone, even those in elementary school at the time, where they were when they heard the news.
  In 2001, on a beautiful sunny September morning, Americans watched in horror as two planes dove into the World Trade Center in New York City, another into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and still another into the fields of the Pennsylvania countryside.
  America has endured many days of infamy. For the generations who are unfortunate enough to have one, often it defines who they are. Sometimes it defines what happens following that day. For those whose day will forever be December 7, 1941, it was a jolt out of a crippling depression. It sounds odd, but suddenly there were much bigger things to deal with than a job, a meal, or a place to stay. There would be none of those things if there was no America. She had to be defended at all costs. So the greatest generation went to work to defend her.
  After the death of John Kennedy, many say that America lost her innocence. Soon after, things like hippies, drugs, and violence in American cities began. Other assassinations followed, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. America was turned upside down in what seemed like every aspect of life. Did people wonder if it was ever going to end?
  On September 12, 2001, on what was the saddest day in recent American history, might also have been the day that united Americans the most in recent history. Yes, there was Congress on the steps of the White House singing "God Bless America", but it went so much deeper than that. Flags were flown on almost every single house. Some people even attached flags to their cars. For a brief moment, there were no white or black Americans, no Mexican, Chinese or Asian Americans, just Americans. We had all been attacked and we would, as a people, answer those attacks. We would survive, yet again, a day which would live in infamy.
  Today, we remember that first day of infamy, December 7, 1941, and the men and women of that greatest generation who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. There are those that say we are living in days of infamy right now. Will we allow those days to define us, or the day after?
   

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Dark Side of Racism

For the past three weeks, the citizens of St. Louis have been able to see themselves and others in a completely different light. It is not a good one. Oh sure, the recent shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown, a black teenager by a white police officer, has had many people, black and white, calling for peace and waiting for all of the facts to come in for a full and complete investigation. They have helped each other clean up after days of looting and rioting. They have sat in church together and tried to heal their community.
  But it has brought out the very worst as well. Not just the obvious in looters and rioters, but the subtle, the unseen, the things people don't like to own up to.
  We know that bigots come in all shapes, sizes and yes, colors. They will usually train their vitriol on others who don't look like them, or have differing opinions and views. But whenever a high profile case, especially of a racial nature is front and center, a special brand of hate is unleashed at black conservatives.
  This time however, was different. It hit much closer to home. Why? Because the object of so much venom was my dear friend Martin Baker. Martin is certainly no stranger to the political landscape that is reserved for black conservatives. Having run for office a few times, and being on the front lines with various conservative groups, Martin is well prepared for the name calling, the smears, and all of the usual tactics used by liberals, especially black liberals, against other blacks. When he attended a rally recently in support not so much for Officer Darrin Wilson, but for law and order, for transparency, and for the fair and impartial carrying out of justice, a picture of Martin showed up on Twitter, and it was open season on anything and anyone Martin Baker holds dear.
  He was viciously attacked in any way a person can be, but it was all really aimed in only one direction, his political beliefs. For some reason, most black liberals don't know that groups like the KKK were started by Democrats. They don't know that every single piece of civil rights legislation passed in the 1960's passed because of Republicans. Democrats blocked it every way they could. But conservatives, Frederick Douglass conservatives like Martin Baker know the true history of the Democrat Party.
  But never mind the facts. Facts are pesky things sometimes. So not wanting those pesky facts to get in the way, those brave
champions of civil rights lurking behind anonymous Twitter handles went to work. Decorum prevents this Blogger from repeating most of them here, but you get the idea:
  "@Afrocentricity", (is that even a word?) said, "How U gon support Darren Wilson? U a clown, all u missing is the red nose. U no longer black". Mr. Centricity, apparent self-arbiter of all things "black", was the most polite of the bunch. "@A.Pink", could that be short for pinko or communist? Perhaps. He at least made it to the spelling portion of grade school, but unfortunately, he does not get an "A" for originality. "People can you believe this Uncle Tom? He's a lead supporter of the criminal cop that murdered Mike Brown." With random folks with law degrees running around like Mr. Pink(o), who needs a jury? Of course the usual Shakespearean wannabes who like to scribble "sell out" and the n-word all over anything that doesn't move made their presence known as well.
  Why is it that all black people are required to think alike? Why is it that when black conservatives dare stray from the "Audacity of Hope" bandwagon, and form their own thoughts and opinions, they are deemed, "not officially black"? Doesn't freedom not only mean physical freedom, but intellectual freedom as well? Is this not what black people and many white people have fought and died for?
  Men like Martin Baker are a rare breed. They march to the beat of their own drum. Their beliefs are unbending, never wavering, because they know those beliefs to be the truth. They stand up for those beliefs when it is not cool, and even dangerous to do so.
  If that is the definition of "sell out", America is in desperate need of them.     

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fashionable Hatred

  The conflict between the terror group Hammas and Israel rages on with no clear end in sight. Cease fires last no more than a few days, and once again the silence is shattered by exploding rockets. The usual sequence of events seems to be Hammas doing the rocket firing. It is a complicated case to most Westerners, its origins dating back thousands of years.
  As the fighting continues, many people around the world are quick to take sides. Israel is firing on innocent women and children say one side. Hammas is storing their weaponry in schools and residential areas and using their citizens as human shields says the other. There may be more evidence of Hammas using human shields than anything else. But what is also becoming very apparent is the rise of anti-Semitism in a big fat global kind of way.
  The incidents started out sort of few and far between in Europe. In a heavily Jewish section of Paris, crowds could be heard yelling, "Gas the Jews". In Frankfurt Germany, there were signs that read such things as, "The Jews are beasts". In Great Britain, mainly in London, over 100 anti-Semitic incidents have been reported. The violence has now spread to the United States. In Miami, a synagogue was vandalized, and in Boston, angry mobs of people chanted anti-Jewish slogans.
  In a somewhat bizarre twist, some rather loud bursts of anti-Semitism have come from Hollywood. It seems the place to go for anything overly weird seen on Twitter is Twitchy.com. There, you will find any foolish nonsense tweeted out by any foolish celebrity on any given day, and the Gaza-Israel conflict seems to bring out the best, or worst in a whole bunch of them.
  Not that all Hollywood celebs are dumb, some are actually pretty smart despite their chosen profession, but the ones who may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer keep displaying their "talents" to the tweeting public. Actress Selena Gomez recently tweeted, "#PrayForGaza". She is of course entitled to her opinion, but could she find a place called Palestine on a map? Even if it actually existed, most likely not.
  Singer Rhianna also felt compelled to tweet out, "#FreePalestine". But perhaps the most egregious was actress Penelope Cruz and husband Javier Bardem, who signed a letter accusing Israel of genocide. The best part? All of these global events experts had to walk back their silly uninformed comments.
  Ironically, Jewish celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Liberal poster child herself, Barbara Streisand have been silent on the whole situation. It certainly is not like either one of them would not find work if they did choose to speak out. Why the silence?
  But possibly the biggest question, why is it all of a sudden, almost cool, to be an anti-Semite? In the case of Spielberg and Streisand, their ideology is no doubt second to their ethnicity. It has often been said Liberalism is a religion, so perhaps their conversion is complete. But one has to wonder at younger performers like Gomez and Rhianna. Is it that they have never been taught anything about the Middle East in school? Maybe. At least in the case of Selena Gomez, she spent much of her formative years on a Disney set. But why be so quick to comment on something that they clearly have no knowledge of, and know that their many fans may decide that this also is their view? Do kids of their generation know the evil history of anti-Semitism? Given the watered down state of American education, it is a safe bet they do not.
  Fortunately, the older generations of Hollywood, like actor Jon
Voight are trying to make sure that anti-Semitism in Tinsel town does not become the norm. But will it filter down to the younger set? That remains to be seen.
  During World War II, Hollywood was the biggest supporter of American soldiers. In 2014, will it be the biggest supporter of bigotry and hatred?
  The tolerant Left, at work again.             

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Miss Celebrating Father's Day

Wow. I have not been here for a while. Been busy with a million other projects. I am glad about that. Guess I will just sleep when I am dead. All of a sudden, it's Father's Day. Well that crept up on me!
  I don't do much on Father's Day anymore. I tell other Dads I know to have a great day. I truly hope that they do. I wish I could tell the young children of dads I know to appreciate and savor every moment.
  I thought about what we would have done today as a family. My parents and my brother would have come over to our house. We would have barbecued. My husband and my brother, both of them guitar players and frustrated rock stars, would have proceeded to discuss a new tune, band, or guitar just out by Gibson, Les Paul, or another guitar maker, and it would have been kind of fun to sit and watch my dad watch them talk about something they both love, and not know what the hell either one of them was talking about. But he would make sure he looked interested.
  In case no one has figured it out by now, we are a political family. My brother and I were taught to pay attention to what was going on around us, and in the rest of the world. It has made us care. We would talk about things like the Middle East, health care, and just the President in general. My dad was a Conservative from the Reagan/Buckley school of Conservatism. He was never afraid to let that be known.
  He would ask about our jobs, how our cars were running, and my husband would have at least one household repair that needed the knowledge and expertise of somebody who had been self taught in the ways of do it yourself home repair. That knowledge was usually spot on, and I know was invaluable to a guy whose first talent is not being a handyman.
 After dinner, we would gather in our family room, around the TV. We would have channel surfed, and no doubt would have stumbled on an old movie, or TV show. The musicians in the family might have commandeered the remote before anyone else, and promptly switched to VH1 Classic, just to make my dad, an old school jazz man in every sense of the word, listen to Led Zeppelin, RUSH, or some obscure 80's hair band that has been forgotten. I think they just liked to torture him.
  I was always sad to see the day end. Like everybody else, I was always busy with work, or something else that would make me put off just stopping by to shoot the breeze with my dad. But instead of feeling bad or guilty about that, because he would not want that, I think I will just remember the warm summer Saturday afternoons of my childhood. I was 7 or 8 years old, my dad would spend the day working on cars. When you could actually still work on your own car. Cars were his passion. He would wash his or my mom's car, change the oil, or do what ever it was that needed to be done. The garage door would be up all day, and strains of the late Jim Bolen's Saturday afternoon jazz show, "Jazz Comes Calling", live from "Jazz Central" could be heard on his garage radio.
  Those Father's Days, and those Saturday afternoons only live in my memory now. I wouldn't trade them for the world. I think about my dad every day. Maybe that makes, at least for me, every day Father's Day.


  Happy Father's Day Dads, from The Conservative Cauldron!    

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The First Casualties

  The so called "war on women" is a phony ginned up controversy that Democrats hope to ride to majorities in the House and Senate all the way to November. They will say it is all the evil doings of those rascally Republicans. They just don't like women! They don't want them to get an education, don't want them to get jobs, they certainly don't want them to be paid the same as men for doing those jobs. They don't want them to own their own homes. Blah blah blah.
  Liberals would have you think that this war on women is a recent invention. But is it really? Could it have started just a bit earlier? Could it have started in 1998? Could the first casualties be women that have been largely forgotten about? Well, yes.
  Last week saw the resurgence of someone named Monica Lewinsky. Sixteen years have passed since the 24 year old White House Intern became a household word. An ugly, household word. Lewinsky is featured this month's issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine. She says it is time to "burn the beret and bury the blue dress".
  The relationship between President Bill Clinton and Lewinsky surfaced during an investigation into a sexual harassment claim by Paula Jones. Jones had been a state employee during Clinton's term as Governor of Arkansas. As soon as the story became a national scandal, the Clinton search and destroy spin machine went into overdrive. Lewinsky was portrayed as a stalker who was obsessed with Clinton and would not leave him alone. First Lady Hillary Clinton characterized Lewinsky as a "narcissistic looneytoon". Everything about Monica Lewinsky's life and character was put into the Clinton shredder. Now 40 years old, she has not been able to be employed, had to go to Great Britain to earn a degree, and maintains that even though she regrets the relationship, it was entirely consensual.
  Monica Lewinsky became known to the world however, because there was a pattern being established. A pattern of women who came in contact with Bill Clinton, and ended up being groped, molested, and in the case of Juanita Broaddrick, possibly raped. Bill Clinton had quite a dubious track record during his days as Governor. State Troopers told stories of how they procured what would be commonly known today as "hook ups" for Clinton.
  So was it Hillary's job back then, not only to appear as the doting First Lady of Arkansas, but to make sure that if any of these women, any of these "procurements" decided to go to the press with their tales of exploits with the Gov, that they would be summarily destroyed, their lives ruined just so Bill Clinton's horn dog status was not discovered? And just so we are  all on the same page, it is the Republicans who are waging a war on women?
  The answer of course, is yes. Hillary Clinton may be a whole lot of things, but one thing she is not is stupid. She and her husband are the poster children for calculating politicians. But even before Bill's political career began, she knew just exactly what kind of man she was marrying. Was her own ambition so great that she was willing to take charge of any and all "bimbo eruptions" that went on? That answer also appears to be yes.
  So the question remains, is Hillary Clinton a willing participant in this war on women? It seems pretty incredulous that a woman, especially one who is a member of the Party who claims to champion the rights of women everywhere, would be so quick to destroy the women who were the unfortunate victims of her husband.
  Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and ultimately, Monica Lewinsky may very well have taken the first shots fired if there is a "war on women". Certainly their lives have never been the same since their encounter with the Clinton machine.
  Maybe the Democrats should rethink this whole war on women. When you think about it, it might even go further back than the Clintons.
  Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.       

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ugly Face of Racism...and Hypocrisy

  I don't follow basketball. But I know who some its star players are, like Shaq, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett. But I like a lot of the planet; I had no clue who Donald Sterling was, until Saturday. On Saturday, the website TMZ released an audio tape of Los Angeles Clippers owner Sterling, and a girlfriend discussing who she brought to the games. By now, the same rest of the planet who had no idea who Sterling was, now know that, well, he does not exactly have warm fuzzy feelings for minorities. The audio tape reveals some very disturbing and racist comments being made by Donald Sterling.
  Let's start from the beginning. Number one, the comments made by Donald Sterling were ugly, gross, and appalling to decent people everywhere. There is no place for these kinds of comments in civil society. Luckily, guys like Donald Sterling are a dying breed. That should make Oprah happy. She did wish death on old white bigots. Wow, she is good. What is also a positive take away is the collective disgust at what was said. It proves that among Americans in 2014, this is the exception, not the norm that guys like Jesse and Al would like us all to believe.
  We will come back to Jesse and Al. This is their story too, as you will see. Now, let's talk about what no one else will. Glaring, in your face hypocrisy. Fact, Donald Sterling is an old bigot. he comes from a long ago time in America. He is eighty years old, and is not going to have some sort of racial epiphany any time soon. However, he is also an American citizen. Last time I checked, in America, at least for now, no matter how vile and despicable his words and thoughts may be, he has the right to think them and even say them out loud if he wishes. Sometimes liberty and freedom of speech are messy things.
  Number two. This is not Donald Sterling's first time at the bigot rodeo. In 2009, after the Department of Justice filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against him, alleging that he tried to keep blacks and Latinos from renting apartments in buildings he owned. He was forced to settle the suit for around $2.7 million dollars. Guys like Magic Johnson and others in the basketball community knew of his dubious track record. Why did this not attract the outrage that an audio tape has? Donald Sterling was also surely paying a lot of the same people who are so appalled today that he was in 2009. What exactly is the difference?
  Number three. Johnson, Charles Barkley, and any former NBA star on any given ESPN panel, seem to pick and choose their outrage carefully. Comments like Jesse Jackson's famous "Hymie town" quip, the vile and yes threatening bilge that has come out of the mouth of Al Sharpton, and let's not forget, in Al's case, he is all but responsible for a murder during a riot in Crown Heights Brooklyn, don't seem to warrant a raised eyebrow. For years, Louis Farrakhan has made some of the most incendiary anti-white and anti-Semitic remarks by anyone. The reaction from members of the black community? Silence.
  Perhaps one of the most egregious things that Magic, Barkley, and the rest forgot to be "outraged" about, is the fact that in Chicago, practically every weekend, black people are brought to slaughter by the dozens. On Easter weekend alone, 40 people were shot. At least 8 of them died. Surely an opinionated guy like Charles Barkley would have something to say about that. No? Hmmm.....
  No one is going to defend Donald Sterling. That old saying, "no man is an island"? Not true anymore. The free market will take care of Donald Sterling's financial status. If you don't like what he said, don't go to Clippers games or watch them on TV. Don't buy Clippers merchandise. The message will be sent loud and clear. After all, money talks. We will see that soon enough when big fat checks are written to the Rainbow Coalition, National Action Network, United Negro College Fund, and the NAACP.
  Everyone stands up and cheers when the Thought Police come to destroy someone they think needs destroying. But we need to look beyond race for just a minute, so we can see that something much deeper and way more chilling is going on.
  We all have at least one thought, view, or opinion about something that more than likely, society might not deem acceptable.
  Who will be cheering when they come for you? 
              

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We the People-1 Federal Government-0

Even though it is not taught very much anymore, America was founded on the backs of ordinary citizens who had had more than enough of big government reigning down upon them. In those days, big government had a name, King George. But now? It seems to be too gigantic for a name. But the boiling point that today's ordinary citizens seem to be rapidly approaching looks a lot like the one from 1776.
  Over the past several weeks, Conservative media has focused on the plight of rancher Cliven Bundy. The Bundy family has been raising cattle on the same piece of land since right after the Civil War. But beginning in 1993, in an attempt to save the desert tortoise, the Bureau of Land Management began to drive the Bundy herd off of the federal land it had been grazing on for over a century. Long story short, the BLM showed up on the Bundy ranch with four wheel drive vehicles, snipers, and what amounted to their own personal army. All in an effort to seize the cattle.
  Well, people heard about Mr. Bundy's government problem. So they came to help out. A lot of people came to help out. They came by car, by truck, even by horseback. They came to help Cliven Bundy get the federal government off what amounts to his front yard. And they succeeded.
  The whole story of the Bundy ranch has been told countless times. There is plenty of debate on all sides as to whether Cliven Bundy is in the right or wrong. The real story here is the story of average Americans.
  In 2010, average Americans found their voice and made it loud and clear how they felt about Obama care. They showed up in droves to Town Hall meetings and Tea Party gatherings. They showed up at the district offices of their Congressmen and Senators. They made it clear what would happen if they supported any part of the Affordable Care Act. In some cases, bluffs were called. All of a sudden, what average Americans said made a great deal of difference to Congressmen and Senators. Job security has a way of getting one's attention.
  When November came along, Republicans gained the largest number of seats in the House since the 1930's. Washington D.C. was put on notice that the people meant what they said. Average Americans were reminded that when their collective voice is raised loudly enough, they can remind the government just exactly who is in charge. This time around could be a lot like 2010.
  The showdown at the Bundy ranch is not an ending, Not just because Harry Reid said it wasn't, but because it is a beginning. A beginning of the realization that average Americans have more power than they know. 2014, like 2010 is an election year, and potentially, a very pivotal one. This is the first incidence of muscle flexing in this election year, and the people won. They feel empowered, they feel emboldened, and they feel like if they can tell the government to go pound sand in this case, where else can they be victorious? Where else can they push back the blob of federal government that keeps prying into every corner of their lives? Are there other cases such as these where the government threatens to trample freedom and liberty where the people can stop it dead in its tracks and say, ENOUGH!
  The answer is unfortunately yes, there are other cases. The people, average Americans, have another seven months of push back time. Once again, the people will show up at Town Hall meetings and district offices. They might have a Tea Party rally or two. 2014 is an election year. We the People, average Americans have the power.
  Time to party like its 2010.     

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Follow The Leader

  Football coaching great Vince Lombardi once said, "Great leaders are made, they are not born...". Most of us have been fortunate enough in our lives to meet and interact with someone that we not only consider a great leader, but we also know that they did not arrive at that position instantaneously. Maybe we know something of their lives, who their parents were, where and under what conditions they were brought up.
  Recently, Fortune Magazine compiled a list entitled, "The World's 50 Greatest leaders". It is quite an extensive list. It is made up of people from all over the Globe, from every background, from every walk of life. They are businessmen and women, religious leaders, even rock stars.
  Top of the list is Pope Francis. Almost a no-brainer, he is the leader of approximately 700 million Catholics around the world. Some might go as far as to say that he is a bit of a free spirit . He has addressed issues that the Church appears to have been trying to push under the rug for quite some time. He even recently told Mafia leaders to cease their murderous ways.
  Bono, front man for one of the world's most popular rock bands, U2, comes in at number eight. Not only is Bono an accomplished musician and singer, he has been a tireless advocate for AIDS relief and research, and helping impoverished nations. One of the most deserving to be on this list, 16 year old Malala Yousafzai. In October of 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban as she got off a school bus. In spite of this, she continues to be an outspoken champion of education for girls and women in Islamic countries. An activity that can be life threatening in that region of the world.
  The rest on the list, certainly are deserving members of this elite club for all of their contributions. But these three people, who could not be more different, have developed very similar traits of leadership. Those tasked with the formulation of this list at Fortune Magazine are Americans. As citizens of this country, what was it that stood out to them about this group of people that made them want to bring them together on this list?
  Maybe the most common reason for most of these people is that they became leaders out of necessity. For some, it could simply be that they saw a need for leadership and fulfilled it. Most of these folks are not household names, and that is perfectly OK with them. They did not become leaders to be famous. Some are leaders because they saw something that was ignored, neglected, or just not right. Do the people on this list have a drive, a passion that everyday people do not? Were some just in the right place at the right time? The answer could be yes for some. However, the 50 greatest leaders would most likely be the first to tell you just how ordinary they are.
  The answer just might be that there is no definitive answer. People are moved to action by what they see and feel in different ways. Maybe the one common thread is, they are all willing to think beyond the norm. They are all willing to step outside the box. They are all willing to risk quite a lot, if not all, for what they believe and for what they dream.
  Americans seem to have an uncanny knack for spotting leaders. Maybe that is because we have produced so many among us. The Americans who work at Fortune Magazine saw many things that jumped out at them about the special people on this list. In a world where it seems that so many people are so easily led, let's hope that Coach Lombardi was right.       

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WWW.GivingUpControl.com

  It's an idea that should make Internet inventor Al Gore shake in his Ugg boots. U.S. officials recently announced that there is talk of giving up control over administration of the Internet. It is a move that brings up plenty of speculation as to why. The story being floated about is that jumpiness abroad over last year's NSA security scandal is the major reason for the push to give up any final pieces of U.S. authority of the World Wide Web.
  This major change would end a long held contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. So is this latest step taken by the Obama administration an attempt to strive to be better global citizens than American? Is it a decision that, like so many others, is entirely politically driven?
  No one will deny that there is an infinite amount of money to be had and to be made in and off of the Internet. But far more sinister activities than just plain old capitalism could be at the heart of this. Many, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga), question just exactly what sort of global village the web could be turned over to. Exactly who would be put in charge? Cuba? China? North Korea? There are plenty of these sorts of candidates that are no doubt at the top of the Obama Internet Turnover list. Maybe Syrian president Bashir al Assad will like us just a little bit more if we let him control ITunes. It will give him and Diane Sawyer so much more to talk about.
  The biggest and most frightening aspect of this is the global threat of censorship. No other nation on Earth was founded on the concept of free speech in quite the way that America was and still is. Oh, there are western European countries where free speech is alive and well, but that was not always the case. And how will the Saudis react to female bloggers who are not afraid to say what they think? In places like Iran, the Internet is already heavily censored. How much more will be enough? And then there are the fees and regulations that are sure to follow such a move. Small businesses rely heavily on the web for advertising. It is a free and easy way to get their products and services out there in front of the public. How much more can American small business take?
  The reactions are mixed. Critics say this decision is "hasty and politically tinged". They also doubt whether ICANN can operate within the bounds of U.S. law. Fadi Chehade, president of ICANN, promises an open and inclusive transition. Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, a group that promotes open Internet access, says "it is a step in the right direction".
  Then, there is of course, the Obama administration's track record on the issue of free speech. One need only utter three words, or to be more specific, letters, to make that argument stick, I. R. S. Barack Obama and his supporters, be it in the media or otherwise, have been trying for years to find ways to shut tight the mouths of Conservatives. First it was the Fairness Doctrine, and then there was all the talk of Net Neutrality. Could Liberals have finally found the path to Conservative censorship that they think they can slip under the radar?
  An international meeting to discuss the possible transition of Internet control is to take place in Singapore on March 23. Let's hope that Kim Jong Un and Raoul Castro will not be unveiling their Facebook pages at this extravaganza.       

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Boss Lady

  It might not be the best example, but back in the 70's, when cigarettes were still advertised, the tag line for Virginia Slims, billed as a "woman's" cigarette was, "You've come a long way Baby!" We have indeed, come a long way Baby. When your humble Blogger came along in 1965, I wonder if my Mom in her wildest dreams, ever imagined the opportunities that would be available to me as a young woman twenty years later. In those days, even with a college degree, teaching, nursing, or something out of the secretary pool was a girl's dream job. More than likely, she only kept that job until she got married.
  Look at us now. We still are teachers, nurses and secretaries, still promising career paths. But we are also doctors, lawyers, stay at home moms, CEO's, and even astronauts. We have to thank all of the women who made those trailblazing moves back in the days when a male boss could call his female employees "honey", and all anyone would do about it was laugh. As women, we have met and surpassed the dreams of those early Suffragettes. We have gained basic dignity and human rights, and yes, we have become the Boss. So now why, all of a sudden is the word "bossy" bad?
  Recently, a group of the usual suspects of Liberal women have started a move to have the word "bossy" banned. They claim that this is a word of negative connotations, and double standards. Is it just another word for bitchy or controlling?
  One of the definitions of bossy is "inclined to domineer". Being domineering is not a great quality to have, but the definition of the root of the word, boss, means " a person who exercises control and authority". Those can be very desirable qualities.
  Girls and women since the beginning of time have been taught to be demure, quiet and gentle. Being assertive, strong, and in control were not things that were going to score a girl a husband. As women entered the workforce, and in fact did become the Boss, they discovered that they they could be strong and in control without the negative implications. Just maybe, a word like bossy was coined to make women be forced to make a choice. A choice between being liked or being the Boss.
  So is there a way to take back the word bossy without the word police breaking down the door to the library and just arbitrarily banning words that are offensive to them? There is. We must teach our daughters that being strong, confident, in control, and asserting themselves is a good thing, one that will empower them and take them far in life. Granted, it is close to impossible to convince teen age girls that there are more important things than being liked, but strong confident women tend to find each other and usually, those are the friendships that last a lifetime.
 Banning words is a dangerous thing, and just because we ban a word does not make the attitude and the idea behind the word just go away. If we ban a rather small word like bossy, what next? And what about this roving band of Liberal P.C. police women? Do they think they are advancing the cause of feminism?
  If we have done our job, the word feminism has many meanings for strong confident women in 2014. We have worked very hard to become "The Boss". Being called bossy is not negative, it is a reward for a job well done.   
 

Monday, March 3, 2014

American Might and other Fairy Tales

  When newly elected President Barack Obama traveled the world in 2009 on what is now known to most Conservatives as "the apology tour", we knew there was trouble brewing. Feverishly bowing to Saudi Kings, and bemoaning America's arrogance, what could possibly go wrong there? In the wake of escalating violence in Ukraine, we are seeing just exactly, what could go wrong there.
  Roughly 2000 Russian troops entered Ukraine on Saturday in what amounts to an invasion of a sovereign nation. Despite pleas from the United States and other western nations, Russia's Parliament voted unanimously for the deployment of troops to Ukraine. Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly spoke by phone for approximately ninety minutes. President Obama says he voiced deep concerns over Russia's clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and urged Putin to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing Russian troops back to bases in Crimea, and not to interfere elsewhere in Ukraine. Putin and the rest of the Russian leadership all had a good chuckle over that one.
  Ukraine is not the only place in the world where political tensions are on the rise. On Sunday, thousands of anti-government demonstrators marched through the streets of Caracas Venezuela. The protests stem from the arrest of a government opposition leader on February 18, and frustration over the lack of four things, justice, shortages, freedom and censorship. North Korea continues to sabre rattle, and today fired two short range missiles off its eastern coast. Iran continues to build up its nuclear arsenal. And what about those consequences and that red line drawn in the sand just for Syrian President Bashir al Assad?
  So why now, is all of this going on simultaneously? Maybe we have to go back to that long ago meeting between President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah. We could give President Obama the benefit of the doubt for a millisecond, and say perhaps he was just trying to show respect to another head of state. What he really showed was weakness. That bow, and subsequent bowing to other heads of state, and retreating to the golf course when it came time to do something about the crossing of that line in the sand, spoke volumes to the rest of the world. The message sent was, American might and muscle, at least for the time being is non-existent. All of you third world tin-pot dictators have nothing to fear from the United States until at least 2017. Oh we will speak loudly enough, but forget about that big stick.
  There have always been people on the right who have suspected that part of the "transformation" Obama spoke of five days before the election in 2008, was to bring America's position in the world down a peg or two, a possible dream of his father, embittered and angry about British imperialism in his native Kenya, and may have felt that America should get the same treatment.
  Is it fair to ask the question, if a Republican President were in the White House today, would this many rogue nations have the nerve to poke fingers in the eye of the United States all at the same time? That depends, is the President Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush? One would venture a guess that the answer to that question is, we want the response we got in 1981. Thirty minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President, American hostages were released by Iranian "students", a.k.a., terrorists, who had been held for 444 days under a similar president to Barack Obama. Bad actors the world over knew at that moment, there was a new sheriff in town, and that new sheriff was not going to toy with them.
  Unfortunately, it seems to be a pretty sure bet that America will suffer many more unanswered pokes in the eye before the next new sheriff comes a-ridin' into town. And with each new snicker by another guy like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un makes it that much harder to win back the muscle and the respect you lost.
  Might be a long ride until 2016 Buckaroos.       

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Power of People

  I have to be honest. For some reason, I always feel like I have to write some hard core political piece, or else no one will want to read what I have to say. But consciously I know that is not true. So this week, I have a personal experience. I am told that everyone likes a personal story.
  Last week, I took part in a focus group. It was the first one I had ever been a part of and did not quite know what to expect. Since I signed a non-disclosure agreement, I am not at liberty to talk about what was discussed. But that is not the story.
  I went into this thinking that it might be something interesting to write about. It did not disappoint. I decided I would be an observer of people. An observer of people who walk into a room of strangers, sit down, and begin to interact with each other.
  I entered a room with just one person there before me. We were invited to have a sandwich and a beverage before things got started. So I did. And as I did, I watched the room begin to fill up. I noticed that women tended to sit together. I noticed that African-Americans tended to sit together. Eventually though, everyone put away their phones and began to mingle.
  We were then ushered into the room where the actual focus group work would be done. People were sat in a specific fashion. I began to realize what a science this really is. The room was filled with a very even and balanced cross section of regular ordinary folks. Men and women, young and old, black and white, and surely every economic level. It had to be an almost picture perfect cross section of Americans.
  Now, granted, when you put a group of people in a room and present to them a hot button topic like race, religion or politics, tensions run high and people will get passionate and vocal in their views. We were given the subject of technology. A pretty harmless and tame topic, but something we all use in some capacity every day. Technology can be a truly amazing thing. Performing surgery on unborn babies, or people who have been blind or deaf since birth seeing a reflection of themselves in a mirror for the very first time, or hearing the voices of their children that they never have before is a miraculous feat, and those kind of stories
 never leave a dry eye in the place when they are heard.
  The flip side of that can be summed up in just one scenario. How many times have we called a customer service number, all we want is a little help to get whatever it is working again, and the person on the other end? Well, let's just say that English is not their first language, and we really don't know what language they happen to be speaking to us at that particular moment. We get frustrated and hang up.
  It might sound funny, but I witnessed something pretty interesting during that harmless discussion about technology. I saw people readily agree with each other, and when they did not agree with each other, they explained why. They supported each other's ideas and concepts. They got along.
  We see so much of us versus them. This group versus that group, that when the element of discord is taken out of the equation it seems foreign to us. It seems kind of sad that just maybe, that really is human nature at work, and that the division is the artificial.
  As the session drew to a close, everybody was obviously tired and ready to head home, myself included. But as they left the room, it was almost as if people had made new friends in that short amount of time. They laughed and talked, and I even heard some talk about what was ahead for them the following day. No one called anyone else a racist; no one said Republicans or Democrats suck. They just were.
  It was a great experience, one I would definitely be open to do again. I am sure the focus group people got some great data that they will be able to use, and ya' know, so did I.    

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Cult of Conservatism

  People love to root for their team. As a die hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, few things are more fun than watching one of our guys knock one out of the park and round the bases to home plate and be greeted with high fives from his team mates. But when your team is not playing well and making costly mistakes, you also have to call them on it. This would be one of those times.
  Conservatives, it is time for an intervention.
  We have come a long way. A long way from those days of just three major news networks, no Internet, and the closest thing to Conservative talk radio was the great Paul Harvey. Now, we have Fox News, we hold our own quite nicely online, and we own talk radio. With all of these outlets, we have developed our own "stars". People who have worked their way up the ladder of print, radio, even Internet, to become influential voices of the Conservative movement.
  To be very clear, our standouts have worked their behinds off to get to the positions they now occupy. That's great, and it is inspiring to those on the way up. It is proof that a basic Conservative tenet, to aspire to be better than you are, at whatever it is you do, works.
  But something is happening. Something that may be an unfortunate side effect of being human, but it is something that could be damaging to all we have achieved. I have written about it before. The condition of Conservative elitism.
  I will not name names here. The names are not important, and it is not what I do. However, a certain few have been chosen, and elevated to almost super human status. Every word they utter becomes gospel. Every radio show or TV appearance is golden. Everyone hangs on their every word, and the world appears to be their oyster. But as we Conservatives well know, few of us shy away from saying what we think, even if it is do disagree with one another. And like everything else, we don't all like or dislike the same Conservative pundits. But to voice a dislike for any of the "chosen few" out loud or on social media, and one had better be prepared for the slicing and dicing that almost surely awaits them by, believe it or not, other Conservatives!
  So what causes Conservative elitism? Perhaps a number of things. Factions? Egos? Maybe all of the above. One thing is certain. It is not healthy. It is reminiscent of the old high school clique. You remember, the group that seemed to contain all of the "cool" kids, or at least the kids that were mysteriously deemed "cool". Some of the other kids dressed like them, even talked like them. They just wanted to fit in and be one of them. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but aren't we all out of high school? And who gets to decide who the "cool" kids are anyway?
  At the risk of being guilty of the very thing I am pointing out here, I would like to ask just one question. This past Saturday, Andrew Breitbart would have celebrated his 45th birthday. We all miss him terribly, and sorely miss him on the front lines of our battle. What would he have to say about Conservative elitism? Would he tell us that no one person, be it the most popular of Conservative commentators or radio personalities, to the lone blogger, is more important than the movement itself? Would he tell us all to grow up, stop being high school kids, and get our heads out of our butts, in that in-your-face way that only Andrew could pull off? My guess is that yes, he would.
  This year's mid-term election and the 2016 presidential election could truly be turning points for Conservatives. Pretending that some of us are more important than others and attacking each other for not liking this person or that does three things. It takes us away from what the real focus should be. If we do not stop it now it makes us no different than the Left, and worst of all it makes us hypocrites.
  Conservatism is something that requires group participation. Not group think. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reward and Punishment-Chicago Style

  It is certainly no secret that President Barack Obama learned the art and style of politics in the most notorious place possible, Chicago. The man who would be King...I mean President, began his rise to fame in the home of a domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers. Even prior to that, as a boy growing up in Hawaii, Writer, Poet, and known Communist sympathizer Frank Marshall Davis was a heavy influence on young Barack. Some of the Obamas Windy City neighbors include Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, and let's not forget every one's favorite man of the cloth, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Barack Obama sat for some 20 years in Trinity United Church of Christ, but never once heard Wright preach about social justice, and the teachings of James Cone, one of the early pioneers of Black Liberation Theology.
  Friends and enemies are a big theme in the Obama Whitehouse. During the 2010 election cycle, in a radio interview, President Obama talked about Latino voters "punishing their enemies and rewarding friends" over the immigration debate. Perhaps the most famous of such quotes comes from Presidential Advisor extraordinaire Valerie Jarrett, who made no bones about standard operating procedure Obama style. "After we win this election, it is payback time. For those who supported us, there will be rewards, for the ones who opposed us; they will get what they deserve. There will be hell to pay...".
  Enter Conservative Author and Film Maker Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza was arraigned on federal charges on January 24 that he violated campaign finance laws by donating $20,000 to the campaign of a friend who ran unsuccessfully for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat in 2012. D'Souza's movie, "2016: Obama's America", became the second largest grossing documentary in history. The movie does not portray the president in a flattering light, touching on his sketchy relationship with his father, his father's political leanings, and how they influenced the younger Obama.
  Coming on the heels of Dinesh D'Souza's troubles, a group known as "Friends of Abe", a group of Hollywood Conservatives who are actors, writers, directors, producers, etc., is apparently being targeted by our old friends the IRS after filing for tax exempt status. The group fiercely protects the identities of its members, as they believe their political beliefs could hinder their chances for work in Tinsel town. The IRS is pushing Friends of Abe for lists of names of its members. So far, they are refusing to do so.
  Let's let that idea sink in for just a moment. A group of people, Americans, fear that if their beliefs become known, they will have trouble finding work. In America, in 2014. It boggles the mind.
  Now let's let the other idea sink in. A writer, who makes his living celebrating free speech, and the beauty of words, a naturalized citizen, someone who chose to come here and become an American, is now possibly being targeted by his adopted homeland's government, for his political beliefs.
 
Have we officially arrived at an ominous place in our history that the founding fathers tried to warn us of? A short 90 mile trip south of Florida will offer glaring examples of what happens when one is publicly vocal in their disagreement with the government. Many a Cuban immigrant can verify such stories, regardless of what Jay Z and BeyoncĂ© say they saw.
  Have we come down to just a handful of us left who are paying attention to the slow erosion of our liberties? If so, is there enough of us to combat it? Those of us with the power of words say yes. The battle plan is more speech. More blogs, more writers, more talk radio, more online presence. If we do not believe this to be true, then the very ideas our nation was founded upon are in greater jeopardy than we know.
  A government with the power to control what you say will also have the power to control what you think.
  Time to man the battle stations.     

Monday, January 20, 2014

Are We There Yet?

  Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. It is a day that has become a celebration of freedom, equality, and hope that people all over the world may one day have the chance to celebrate that idea who do not today. We hear stories every day of the abuse of women in the Middle East. We hear horrific stories of executions of Coptic Christians in Egypt. We hear about anti Semitism being on the rise in Europe. But what is taking place here in America? It is only fitting that the birthplace of liberty and freedom for all from oppressive government, would also be there at the beginning of the push for Civil Rights. Many people ask the question, are we there yet? Has the dream that Dr. King envisioned for not just his own children, but every American child become a reality?
  Like a lot of things, it depends on who you ask. The race hustlers, Jackson and Sharpton will say absolutely not. Institutional racism is alive and well they would tell you. Let's look at the facts, the black unemployment rate is twice the national average, black teen unemployment is nearly 50%. The out of wedlock birth rate for African Americans hovers around 70%. In the 1960's when the "war on poverty began, the Johnson administration began to float the concept in the black community that the government would take care of them all of their lives. One of the most infamous and telling quotes of the time came from President Lyndon Johnson himself. Speaking about his "Great Society" plan, Johnson stated, " I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years." How has that worked out? Thanks to the war on poverty and the Democrat Party, the disintegration of the black family is nearly complete.
  Fortunately, there is another side to this story. African Americans are successful in every walk of life. Even for those who vehemently opposed Barack Obama and his Liberal agenda, the election of the nation's first black president was truly a momentous and meaningful event. It verified the evolution of Americans and how we see each other, not by skin color, but simply as fellow Americans. From Oprah Winfrey to Dr. Ben Carson to Dr. Thomas Sowell to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, these great Americans have started out from humble beginnings and have gone on to be great role models not just for black Americans, but for all Americans.
  Gone are the ugly days of slavery and segregation. But what does remain is the way that black Conservatives are treated. Because they have chosen not to participate in the group think that Liberals and the Democrat Party expect of them, they are treated as pariahs, outcasts, often by their own families. They are called ugly vile names, Uncle Tom, Sellout, and worse. Wouldn't part of Dr. King's dream include the freedom to think for oneself? It seems pretty basic.
  The question of are we there yet may not be completely settled. But there is no doubt that America has bettered herself since those dark ugly days. That should absolutely be celebrated by all Americans. Let's even take one step further, and ask ourselves what we can do to make even bigger strides.
  There may be just one more thing about that dream that Dr. King held so dear. Fighting against racism and inequality all over the world is a noble calling. But, note to Jesse and Al, creating an industry and becoming a multi-millionaire perpetuating it was not part of it.

                   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Things That Are Worse Than "Bridge Gate"

  The mainstream American media is a curious animal. Back in the days of Walter Cronkite, journalists did not make their political biases known. Journalism was different. There were only three major networks. No cable, no Internet. We trusted Walter. We knew that he would tell us "that's the way it is", and we didn't know whether he was going to an anti-war protest, complete with tie dye shirt and a tambourine, or having drinks with William F. Buckley after the news show.
  Fast forward 50 years. Journalists, if you really want to call them that, make no effort to hide where their loyalties lie. Because of this new found transparency, a word we know they love, they have the ability to make a story the biggest thing since Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, or seeing to it that it gets swept under the rug, where they think whatever "it" is belongs.
  The latest example, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that crippled the small town of Fort Lee, and forced thousands of drivers to spend hours trapped in traffic. The story is that Christie wanted to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing him for re-election. Christie has since fired his Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly for her involvement in the scandal.
  About ten minutes into this, New Jersey Legislature Democrats immediately demanded a full scale investigation. How nice that they insist on being so thorough in this matter. What else is lurking under the Democrat rug that a "full and immediate investigation" would have been a great idea? Wow! Why didn't we think of that?!
  So what is worse than Bridge Gate? Well, a few things. Let's see if they ring a bell. Presently, a little program known as The Affordable Care Act is being shoved down the throats of the American people. Roughly six million people have been kicked off health insurance plans they were perfectly happy with, some with very serious chronic health issues, some of them children. If you wish to sign up for the circus that is government health care, you must go to a website that may or may not work, and you may or may not wait for quite a while to log on to it if it does work. You will then need a doctor to help relieve your case of sticker shock when you see the cost of the plans offered and the deductibles. Stories abound about what Obama administration officials knew and when they knew it about the website's workability, canceled plans, and less than "affordable" plan costs. No one has been fired, there has been little accountability. No story here folks, nothing to see, move along!
  Almost a year and a half has past since four Americans, including an Ambassador, were murdered in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Libya. The State Department, including its face, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tried to float a story about a video and a spontaneous protest. To this day, the State Department, Justice Department, and any other agencies involved have stonewalled Congress, lied, or have not been entirely truthful during hearings into the attack. They have resisted releasing crucial documents, and generally thumbed their noses at the families of those killed in the attack. The best description of the attitude of the journalists and the Party trying their best to shove this nightmare under the rug, came from Hillary Clinton herself, "what difference at this point does it make?"
  In May of 2013, reports came to light of the IRS targeting several Tea Party groups who had applied for 501c3 status. They asked extremely probing questions about the members of these groups. Questions that had nothing to do with their tax exempt filing. Very simply, ordinary average Americans who love their country, and are concerned with its direction, were targeted by a government with whom they disagree because of their political beliefs. Democrats on Capitol Hill's answer, double down and call these people, many of whom were their constituents, "dangerous". The media's answer? Roll the tape of people dressed in colonial garb wearing tri-corn hats so the "kook" angle was quickly established. End of that story!
  We all know that if Chris Christie had a "D" after his name, this would have been a regional story at best. The fact that Christie is a possible presidential contender against the once again anointed Hillary Clinton does not help him either.
  Fortunately or unfortunately, the media has a short attention span. You can bet
 they will find another Republican to bat around, and another Obama scandal to ignore. After all, that's the way it is.               

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Devil in Oklahoma

  Many people have said it many times. Sometimes freedom and liberty are messy. America is a big place with many different people of many different backgrounds and beliefs. Some of those beliefs are championed by the people; some of those beliefs are reviled. But again, in America, you don't have the right not to be offended. In some recent cases, we seemed to have forgotten that.
  As someone who is a member of a minority faith, maybe I am a bit more sensitive to this story than most. Or maybe it is the fact that I seem to be writing a lot more about the first amendment and free speech.
  This past Monday, January 6, a New York based group known as The Satanic Temple, submitted an application to a panel that oversees the State Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City. The application was for the design and placement of a statue, a monument of Satan, depicting the ultimate occult deity complete with horns, wings, and seated on a throne with a giant inverted pentagram. Two smiling children are standing on either side of him.
  The idea apparently came to this group after a monument depicting the Ten Commandments was placed on the north steps of the Capitol in 2012. The Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU is suing to have that monument removed; however there is no proof that they are doing so on behalf of the Satanic Temple. Other religious groups have also petitioned for statues in honor of their faith, and the Satanic Temple says that the Ten Commandments monument "opens the door" for Oklahomans of other faiths to be represented.
  We all know that religious persecution and the desire to practice their chosen faith was one of the primary reasons that the Pilgrims first stepped onto the shores of the New World. Back in England, the Pilgrims were seen as the extremists of the day, cult-like, and perhaps dangerous. They were not wanted in many places.
  Satanists are the furthest thing from Pilgrims true. One might say that they are the anti-Pilgrim. No one wants them around. Many times they appear a little scary. Not many people consider Satanism to be a religion. But as Americans, do they have a right to practice their faith? Do they have a right to have that faith represented in a public place? Yeah, they do.
  The Ten Commandments statue was privately funded, and according to The Satanic Temple website, they are almost half way to the $20,000 needed for their statue. Will they be able to raise the rest of the funds? Only time will tell. Will they be able to actually build it? Definitely a we-will-see scenario.
  Oklahoma is a tough stage to play when you are a Satanist though. State Rep. Don Ames, R-Faxon may have put the whole irony in a nutshell when he said, "I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that's not going to fly here." Huh?
  Maybe Satanism is not attractive to the average Oklahoman. But rule number one for things like free speech and the freedom to practice one's faith is that not everybody has to like it. As a Wiccan, I have been blessed. My family, friends, and co-workers accept me and my choice of faith. I encourage them to ask questions, and I try to answer them as best as I can. I know that my choice may be disturbing for some, but I also feel blessed to know that I live in a country where I am free to practice my religion; also one that some might not call a "real religion".
  The saga of the Satan statue in Oklahoma is no doubt over. The Satanic Temple's application will get the same treatment in its trip through the maze that is state government bureaucracy that everyone else receives. Even for Satanists, the Devil is in the details.      

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

 We all began 2014 in different ways. Some of us went to a big flashy party, some of us went to someone's house and rang in the new year with a few close friends, while still others worked later than they would have liked, and were home and in their PJ's by 6:30. I would not know who the latter are (OK, I am lying, I do). We all woke up to the first day of 2014 in different ways. Some of us were up bright and early, ready to take on the new year, some of us were ready to get going and take on the new year, just not at the crack of dawn, and still for others, their first act was to reach for the aspirin, and pray to the drinking and debauchery Gods that if they could just stop that
endless pounding going on in their heads, they would promise to never drink again (also, been there, done that).
  But what we may have all had in common this morning....or afternoon, was waking up with that feeling that you only get on 1/1/20__. Maybe I can explain. I woke up this morning with that sense of newness. It is a brand new year. A chance to begin anew, make changes, set goals, and just hit the reset button. It is a time to toss out any negative feelings, emotions, or thoughts. With a clean slate comes a world of endless possibilities! I know I have a whole list of them! I hope that in 2014, The Conservative Cauldron will continue to grow in readership. I am so proud of what I have done with The Conservative Cauldron, and I hope that I can continue to make it even better. Conservative Cauldron Radio will be moving to 1 hour on January 10. I had wanted to do it sooner, but there have been some technical glitches, but we will be raring to go, bigger and better at 10pm on January 10! I have not talked too much about the website, but look for TheConservativeCauldron.com to be up and running very soon!
  2014 will be very important for one reason. It is an election year. We may not be electing a President, too bad. But we will hopefully be sending many new faces to Washington D.C. in the form of new Representatives and Senators. Maybe they will pay more attention to their constituents than the current crop. Maybe the will of the people they represent will remain more important than re-election.
  Many Americans are so frightened by the challenges our nation faces, not just in 2014, but beyond. They are keenly aware that so many more Americans just don't seem to give a damn. As long as they are getting that check in the mail every month from Uncle Sam, and getting that "free" Obama phone, life is good for them, and they can continue to tune out, and let someone else pull the wagon, let somebody else pay for it.
  But today is not the time to deal with all of that. For one day, we should all be optimistic, hopeful, and maybe this sounds funny, but it is the best way I can think of to describe that New Year's Day feeling, shiny. I just feel new and shiny today! It will no doubt wear off when the alarm sounds tomorrow morning, so I want to enjoy the "shininess" today!

  A very Happy New Year from The Conservative Cauldron! 2014 is here! Let's roll!