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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 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!