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Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Top Ten Reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist," Radio Interviews, and Copies of "Save Send Delete."

I've been a writer my entire conscious life. Nothing I've written has caused such a reaction as "Top Ten Reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist."

The essay has received one hundred thousand page hits. I received three, unsolicited offers to talk about it on the radio. Amazon sold out of its stock of copies of "Save Send Delete." (I have copies; please buy from me.)

Why this reaction? I have no idea.

This morning I was interviewed by WGAN in Maine. I'm scheduled to appear on the WABC radio show "Religion on the Line" tomorrow, Sunday, July 27. Wish me luck, and thank you. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Top Ten Reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist in The American Thinker

The American Thinker today features my essay entitled "Top Ten Reasons I Am No Longer a Leftist." You can read it here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Star Tattoo in Blue Lyra Review

source
"Star Tattoo," a non-fiction story by me, appears in the current issue of the Blue Lyra Review. You can read it at the Blue Lyra Review website here or below.


Star Tattoo

I descended my neighbor's outdoor, concrete flight of stairs, as I always do on Food Bank Day. I descended from bright August sun and stifling Indiana heat to the basement's cool, dank dark. My neighbor had a new tenant; this tenant had cats; the basement, where the twice-monthly Food Bank was held, would reek. The aluminum shelves of canned food and cereal boxes would be lit by one overhead, sixty-watt bulb. There would be people like me there: poor, but decent. At last, I'd get to feel at home. As we filled our bags – even, on a bad week, with just five boxes of breakfast cereal and one can that had lost its label – we'd rejoice that we were receiving the weapons with which we could defeat hunger for the next two weeks, till the next Food Bank Day.

As I pulled back the screen door, I was happy with anticipation. But something had gone wrong. Three sweating white males crowded the readily available space and monopolized the air. In opposite corners were two women. The only sound: the scrape-scrape panting of a hound.

The younger, slutty woman was a stranger. I studied her. She was looking, alternately, absent and then focused and then absent again, like a black-and-white, rabbit-eared TV, oscillating between clarity and static.

I know the small woman in the other corner. She is a food bank regular. I don't know her name. I know her enough to like her and care about her looking cornered and scared. She's tiny. She wears worn but conservative skirts and blouses, even in this heat. She has neatly cut and permed hair. She has stopped me in the street, downtown, and told me that angels have informed her that she must relocate to Minneapolis.

She was snarling like a weasel trapped someplace rectangular and domestic; she was shooting looks and balling her fists. One of the guys, sleekly bare-chested, like the others, but with tattoos, was smirking. This guy was maybe in his early 20s. He was like a human razor: economically designed for mental or physical assault. He stood out as the leader of his own pack: another, blonde boy, the substantial hound, and the slutty blonde teen.

I'm big. Taller than the average woman, big-boned, and I walk a lot so I look sturdy. Before I got sick, and came to need food banks, I had been a teacher. I demanded, just with my body, "What's going on here?" and I announced, with my body alone, "Whatever it is, it had better stop." I created a passageway. The Small Woman took it, sliding behind me, bolting out the door and up the steps. I glared at the tribe of Smirkers. They deemed me unworthy of eye contact. But I knew that they had "heard" me. The Smirkers shot challenging looks at the third man. The third man suddenly seemed very alone, under their stare. He's an organic farmer, another food bank regular, a man I know, and a new father, but I'm not sure of his name. Taking their cardboard boxes and their time, the Smirkers sauntered out, one by one. Even their hound was surly.

I was now alone with the Farmer in the basement. I looked at him. He volunteers his truck and his back to gathering food at drop-off points – restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets – and bringing it here. He was sweating from his exertion. He was fuming with righteous rage.

"What was that all about?" I asked.

"It's not worth talking about," the Farmer announced. He knows that this food bank, that materializes every other Wednesday, is as much my place as his. I, too, have unloaded the trucks full of expired soymilk and day-old loaves for our vegetarian, low-impact, food-bank-cum-lefty-political-powwow. I've put in hours in the dim light and cat-piss smell and instructed newcomers to sign the waiver (the back of a recycled sheet of paper, usually some political flier) stating that they won't sue if they get sick from spoiled food. I, too, have adjured patrons to donate (into a coffee can with a slotted plastic lid) and begged them to volunteer (to carry stuff in off the trucks; to watch the many toddlers that accumulate underfoot like dust under a dresser, so that they don't fall on the concrete stair). The Farmer doesn't know my name, but he's seen me do this work; he wasn't dismissing me or being unkind. It's just that he is a farmer, and his idea of what is worth talking about and my idea of what is worth talking about, are two very different ideas. But I was frustrated, and I was curious. My route back to serenity out of such a frightening stand-off is words. His route is silence.

We opened some boxes and stacked some shelves. We greedily pocketed some goodies for ourselves alone – I grabbed the lone can of mandarin oranges. We set some goodies aside for others: "Cashew butter! Jed will love that. His kid's allergic to peanuts." I love cashew butter, too, but I did the math in my head: added my hours of volunteer work, subtracted the mandarins, multiplied by Jed's kid's allergy, and found my balance could not cover the cashew butter.

Eventually, the Farmer did speak. The head Smirker, the dark haired one, with the tattoos, had once beaten up a woman friend of the Farmer's. That Smirker – that batterer – had yet to repent. The Farmer wouldn't have that. He needed the guy to publicly state, "I did it. It was my fault. I'll never do it again" before he'd allow him back into the community.

The Smirker, fresh from prison following the battering, had showed up this morning at the food bank, surprising everyone. The Farmer, apparently thinking, at that moment of the Smirker's arrival, that it was worth talking about, had dropped a comment about the Smirker's rap sheet. "You smell like prison," he had said. The Farmer repeated the line to me. He had meant this as an open door, he explained. The Smirker could apologize, and lose that smell.

The Smirker had been bending over a box. He stood up straight. He did not apologize. Rather, he stated, loudly and clearly, "Takes two to tango." The Farmer was infuriated. But, he decided to just let it go. Some things are not worth talking about.

The Small Woman, as far as I could make out, had never even seen the Smirker before, and knew none of his story before she arrived. She's just a food bank regular. She just walked in on it all. She just overheard. She just wanted to brain the Smirker, the batterer, the bare-chested man/boy ex-con with the tattoos – I never learned his name. She just itched to torpedo her small, marginal, girly body, which had maybe never done violence to anything more threatening than a pack of tofu, and make him, just, just, make him sorry, just show him what it's like, make him know, make him … just, make him. The Farmer had had to hold her back. Everyone had been staring their challenges when I walked in.

"Mmm." I nodded. I went back up the stairs and outside.

I found the Small Woman hyperventilating in front of a sun-drenched, bee-thick patch of Jerusalem artichoke growing in my neighbor's yard. Careful of the bees, I approached. The sun was punishing. I squinted. I had no idea what the appropriate thing to say would be. I didn't have much vocabulary here. The tough looking Smirkers in the basement hadn't actually said anything after I'd entered – had they? The Small Woman had merely muttered. Had I understood everything the Farmer just told me? Had he told me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Whatever had just happened was something I was feeling, not reading. I didn't even know the Small Woman's name, either, though I'm sure that at one point she had told it to me. It was something Midwestern, like "Betty," "Sue," or "Jane," not the kind of coastal name associated with those who speak with angels that you'd expect in Berkeley or The East Village. Not knowing what else to say, I settled on, "Do you want me to stick around?" My large body will never make a man fall in love with me, or land me the lead role in just about anything. But I have known, since kindergarten, that I can use it to make smaller people safer, when that is needed and I like the smaller people.

"No, no. That's cool. I'm fine. I'm leaving Indiana soon anyway. I think I'm supposed to be in Minneapolis. That's where my fate awaits me. But you know…no, no. I'm fine. That's okay. You don't have to stick around. That son of a bitch." She was still hyperventilating.

I stuck around without calling it "sticking around," until the Small Woman got into her rickety, perforated compact car and drove off.

If it's a good haul, I get two weeks' worth of food, or at least two weeks' worth of something – bread, soy milk, cereal – on a given Food Bank Day. But then I need to transport the boxes back to my room. I usually do this by stationing myself next to my boxes of food and gazing hopefully at other food bank patrons as they pass me, returning to their jalopies. I never have to ask. They ask me. And they do go out of their way.

The Smirker approached. I could smell his sweat. I could hear the air bruising the thick, dry sycamore leaves above my head. He sized up my load. "Come on," he said to me, with a jerk of his head toward his rusted Caddy. "Get the dog in the backseat," he directed this to the younger, blond guy, the deputy Smirker. "Get her boxes in the trunk. Get that shit out of the way," he said to the blonde girl. "Here. Sit here. Where you going? Okay. I know the way."

I sat next to him in the front seat. I was afraid.

I wasn't afraid of physical assault. I've been there and done that so many times, from both ends, that maybe nothing scares me less than flying fists, which I know is not a healthy or normal response. I was afraid of being awkward. I was afraid of saying something stupid. I was afraid of being struck dumb, indicting him with a silence so icy it could only be understood as, "I'm a woman and I've been beat up and I think scumbags like you should have your balls cut off and shoved down your throat. You hillbilly gangsta geek, you'll never get a decent job in your life, ever; I'm better than you, and I'm taking your ride, but I will not talk to you." I was afraid of saying something school teacher-y, Politically Correct, "Oh, so you are a batterer, how nice, and do you have other hobbies? Everything is beautiful in its own way." I was afraid of failing, of not being equipped, of not being cool. I was so focused on adrenaline and ego that if a Hoosier had cartwheeled naked in front of the car, I would have missed it.

Then I realized that my focus was pathetic. So I drew my focus away from my fear. Lacking any other handy targets for my racing brain, I folded my hands in my lap, as our nuns used to encourage us to do when we prayed silently at our school desks, and, just, sat, quiet, listening, seeing, and waiting, making myself ready for the voice of God.

It was the Smirker who spoke. "I am not seen."

Someone nodded ascent; maybe the deputy smirker, the out-of-focus girl, or the hound jammed into the backseat with three-people-and-a-dog's-two-week haul of foodstuffs. I thought I heard some kind of "Amen" back there. I looked at the man/boy holding the steering wheel.

"I'm seen as a label. I refuse to be a label."

His biggest complaint was not that the Farmer rejected him, pretty much ensuring that his post-prison readjustment would have to proceed without benefit of the only food bank in this small, tightly-knit town. His biggest complaint was not that I was stiff and silent while sitting next to him. His label metaphor impressed me.

He asked, "Is a person the worst thing he has ever done?"

I gasped and stared really hard. I resisted the urge to dive in and lead a discussion analyzing this very question.

"They don't react to me. They react to the image inside their heads. They never say anything about us, and we were 'us.' But forget her. I'm more than that. When you turn a person into a label, you're not talking about a human being any more. I'm not going to participate in that."

The Lead Smirker, the Bare-Chested Tattooed Man Who Has Done Time, melted. The unlabeled struggled to communicate himself to me during our timed car trip. Apparently, he, too, had been trying to find the right thing to say. He looked younger. He looked human. Same species as I, as the Farmer, as the Small Woman, as the girl he had battered.

There was another long silence. Tossing out the hope of saying anything pertinent, I tilted my head and asked what seemed most immediately pertinent to my curiosity, "How does your mother feel about all those tattoos?"

"Pfft. My mother? I would not know. I ran the fuck out of there when I was fifteen." The way he pronounced this suggested that he was unaware of the full dimension of the dictionary definition of the word "mother." I immediately lunged at the clock of our time, trying to slow it down, so that things could be said and done that would expand the world and make it better.

I saw where we were. "Yeah, that's it, right there. That's what I call 'home.'" He pulled up. Our journey was ending.

They insisted on carrying my boxes of food inside and putting them on the table, though I could have easily done so, and usually do. I was confined in my room with two scary, bare-chested men; the dog and the girl were out in the car. As they had in the basement, they did take up space, these men/boys; no, they throttled it, with their muscled bodies claiming the sole possession of limited things like the space in a room, or the dignity.

I was no longer afraid. I knew I wouldn't say the stupid thing. It was a hot day. They had worked hard. I said the obvious thing. I offered them some juice, or water, and homemade cookies. They took water. I plopped in some ice cubes. The Lead Smirker had a five-pointed star tattooed on his back. It was solid and dark blue.

"Why a star?" I asked.

"Five points," he told me. "Like a human being." Demonstrating, he slapped his head, point one; his hands, points two and three; and, lifting them, the soles of his feet, points four and five. Ah, of course, a human being. "It's not satanic," he insisted. "That's bull cooked up by the officials." As he explained, he seemed tall, though he hadn't, before. Suddenly I realized that I was looking up at him, which I hadn't realized, before, either. He seemed a professor, with worthy knowledge he was happy to pass on. "In prison, they strip you; they penetrate you; they take everything. They give you a number instead of a name. They can't take away your tattoo." It was time to go. He left.

Before their departure, the younger guy, the deputy Smirker, hesitated – stalled – not the right words at all – took time, made time, to stand at my door, make eye contact with me, and shake my hand.

Home Invasion


Please imagine this:

You are a parent, and a homeowner.

Your home is modest. You worked really hard, for many, many years, to put this home together. You love the color scheme. You love the carpets. You love the couch, even though you bought it at the Salvation Army. You like your neighbors. After years of walking on eggshells and negotiations, you've hammered out a modus vivendi with the folks next door and in back. You love your pets. You've got a walk schedule worked out where you take them to the park at the right times.

Your kid is chronically ill. Your kid needs expensive medication every day. Because of some fluke in the insurance, you have to pay for those meds out of pocket.

One night, you hear a rasping noise. Someone is using a file to jimmy your door lock and sneak into your home. You hear more voices. There's a whole bunch out there. They're coming in.

Home invasion. You've heard about this in the news. These gangs are breaking into homes. Stealing whatever drugs are on the premises. Eating all the food. Throwing trash around. Disrupting lives.

Your child, your offspring, the person for whom you are responsible, needs drugs every day. These home invaders might steal the drugs, leaving your kid without necessary medication.

You have a gun in your nightstand. Do you use it?

Me? I'd use the gun.

This imaginary scenario helps me to understand why some can disagree so violently on the question of mass illegal immigration to the US, and our current president's incompetent non-response.

Some of us see America as our home. We assess America as valuable. We realize how very much hard work went into creating the country we've been blessed with. We don't take America for granted. We realize that like any human creation, America could be destroyed by human hands.

We recognize the concept of "limited good." We get it that scamming the system leaves less for everyone. Some American suffering from a chronic illness is going without needed medication right now. I know because I am one of those people. The system can't support everybody, and our needs are eliminated in the triage.

Some of us live in Murrieta, CA – literally or metaphorically – Murrieta is the town that the government wants to dump illegal immigrants in. We don't live on Martha's Vineyard. We don't live in a rich enclave where illegal immigrants are merely the landscaper or the nanny. We don't have landscapers and we don't have nannies. We know how disruptive mass illegal immigration can be.

Read Robert Putnam. Look at crime statistics. Look at schools, hospitals, the general sense of civility and safety. All suffer thanks to mass illegal immigration and system scammers. That isn't an opinion. It isn't racism. It isn't xenophobia. It's a statistical reality.

George Borjas is himself an Hispanic immigrant. He was born in Cuba. He has shown through his research that poor, less well educated Americans, including African Americans, suffer from mii&ss. No getting around it. If Jose will take that job for less than minimum wage, Joe, who must be paid on the books and be paid minimum wage, is screwed.

Robert Putnam has written about how a sense of civility suffers when large segments of the population do not assimilate. People feel disconnected from others who don't share their language. Language is basic to creating community. Populations in the US who resist English language acquisition erode community.

Mass illegal immigration is not a victimless crime; the victim is the quality of life in communities that support large numbers of illegal immigrants. Scholars like George Borjas and Robert Putnam demonstrate this unequivocally.

So, those of us who see America as a valued and beloved home that we have poured work into and that needs protection, a home with "limited good," oppose mass illegal immigration and system scamming.

We aren't xenophobes; we value immigrants who come legally and learn English and respect America and support its institutions before attempting to benefit from those institutions. 

Some people support mass illegal immigration and system scamming, though. I think they see America very differently than how those of us who oppose mii&ss.

I think these people see America as guilty. As needing to be punished. As a big, fat, ATM machine that should be milked for all its got, and then milked some more. I think they see America not as their home at all. Not as something that they worked on. Not as something they hold dear. I think they see America as something outside themselves, just a big, bad bank whose vaults should be emptied out and then burned. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Son of Hamas" Hamas Violates Human Rights of Palestinians

I posted the review, below, on Amazon in 2010, shortly after "Son of Hamas" first came out.

I'm posting it again now because Hamas is very much in the news.

I have Facebook friends who say "I'm not anti-Semitic but I am concerned about how Israel treats Palestinians."

I invite my Facebook friends who say this to be concerned about how Hamas treats Palestinians.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a founder of Hamas, reports in his book, detailed below, that Hamas tortured innocent Palestinians.

Further, Hamas openly exploits Palestinians as human shields. This risks innocent Palestinian lives. See more at this link.

"Son of Hamas" is a fast-paced, sensational, heartbreaking read. Mosab Hassan Yousef's story is unique and important, and he tells his story with frankness, tears, and outrage. He is the son of a founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas; he himself was a prisoner, an Israeli spy, and, eventually, a convert to Christianity. The book is an easy read; you can finish it in a couple of sittings. It's really more of a long magazine article than a book, though. Neither MHY nor his co-author, Ron Brackin, delves deeply into the many complexities of the story. Rather, the book's focus is on recounting of this or that spy activity. From this book, I didn't gain deep insight into what it's like to be an undercover agent, to betray one's beloved father's ideals, or to convert from Islam to Christianity.

MHY's description of Hamas is scathing. The most memorable passages in the book describe Hamas members torturing other Palestinians in Israeli prisons. MHY worked as the torturers' scribe. He wrote their fastidious accounts of what the tortured inmate confessed to. These files read like pornography. Inmates confessed to unbelievable acts, acts that included cows and cameras. It was clear to MHY that these victims were making up stories to satisfy their torturers' twisted appetites, and to, thereby, make the torture stop.

The Hamas torturers focused on men who did not have outside protectors to avenge their torture. One poor soul, Akel, was targeted for torture because his only living relative outside prison was a sister who would not harm anyone in revenge for Hamas shoving needles under Akel's fingernails. Too, Akel was a "simple farmer" "never accepted by the urban Hamas" who took advantage of him. MHY describes a Palestinian prisoner throwing himself against a boundary of razor wire. An Israeli guard was about to shoot him. The man explained that he was not trying to escape the Israeli prison, but, rather, his fellow Palestinian inmates.

The bulk of the book consists of journalistic accounts of this or that spy operation. Clever ways are devised for MHY to meet with his Israeli handlers. Other clever ways are devised for MHY to avoid being detected as a spy, even as he meets with top figures like the PLO's Yasser Arafat. MHY thwarts suicide bombings and tries to make sure that terrorists are imprisoned, rather than killed. Fans of espionage may find these passages intriguing.

By chance, MHY runs into some Christians and begins to discover Jesus in the pages of a gift Bible. MHY left Islam and became a Christian. This made life completely impossible for him among his beloved home and family. He had to leave Israel for the US. Even that departure had to be orchestrated by Israeli intelligence.

The intense heartbreak MHY has experienced in his life is suggested in this book, but never plumbed. I wonder if he'll ever write a more probing, confessional book that will explore what must have been a very tough life. MHY's love for his father and his family is obvious. His family has disowned him; they have to. Islam mandates the death penalty for apostates. MHY was born into an impossible situation for an ethical being. He loves his father; his father supports terror. He loves his family; his family must renounce him for leaving Islam. He loves his homeland and his people; too many of his people are committed to pointless violence and are rigid in their resistance to any alternative point of view. I suspect that many readers reading this book will be moved to pray for MHY and his family as well. Readers will pray for his safety, of course, but also for peace for the many heartbreaks he has experienced, heartbreaks not of his own making. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

America: Imagine the World Without Her

If you don't cry while watching "America: Imagine the World Without Her," I don't want to know you. "America: Imagine the World Without Her" is a slickly produced and entertaining documentary that attempts to fill a need in the US for a counter to hegemonic anti-American voices on the left in academia and media. It's a sober, responsible, and fact-based documentary, not at all sensationalistic or exaggerated. If anything, it is more low-key than it should be. It could have used more fireworks.

"America" features dramatic reenactments of historic personages and events. In this respect it is more like a feature film and less like a documentary. Much of the time you are not watching talking heads; you are watching fully costumed actors and fully realized sets. In the opening scenes, General George Washington is killed by the British. No, that never happened; that's the whole point. Imagine if the colonists lost the Revolutionary War. Other reenactments include the landing of Columbus' ships, life on a Southern planation, Lincoln's assassination, Madame CJ Walker giving a speech, and Hillary Clinton working in a soup kitchen.

D'Souza opens with interviews with prominent anti-American spokespeople, including Charmaine Whiteface who wishes America did not exist, Prof. Michael Eric Dyson, a race baiter, and Prof. Ward Churchill, who advanced his own career and enjoyed many privileges and perquisites by falsely claiming Native American ancestry. Churchill is especially grotesque, arguing that he would like to nuke America.

D'Souza includes clips of Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers and Elizabeth Warren, yet another professor who advanced her own career by falsely claiming Native American ancestry. The anti-American voices outline the indictment: American stole land from Native Americans, enslaved Africans, colonized the world, and destroys its own people with capitalism.

D'Souza then responds to these charges. He points out that conquest was not unique to the conquistadors, that disease, not genocide, killed most Native Americans, and that similar population crashes occurred in Europe when the plague entered Europe from Asia. Slavery was not unique to the US. The US is unique in fighting a war to end slavery. Capitalism uplifts more people than any other system, while communism causes famines and shortages.

D'Souza veers from his own main thrust when he devotes a lot of time to identifying Hillary Clinton as a disciple of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky didn't start anti-Americanism. His book "Rules for Radicals" is an excellent primer in non-violent change. Demonizing Saul Alinsky is a dead-end.

I wish "America" were on the curricula of every student in America. It's a stirring corrective to the anti-American venom students are typically force-fed. 

"Jersey Boys" Juicy, Schmaltzy Biopic with a Fake NJ Accent


"Jersey Boys" is a sudsy, juicy, schmaltzy music biopic with a fake New Jersey accent. I'm from New Jersey and nobody here talks like that. The movie is fun and heartwarming but I liked it and didn't love it.

John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli is the heart and soul of the movie. Early in the film the film focuses on Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza). DeVito is more of a small time hood than a musician and this part of the film plays like a goofy Mafia movie. Tommy wants to give a new band member one left shoe, telling him that he will be able to give him a right shoe later. Tommy gets these shoes by pilfering from transported goods.

There is a scene of Italian-American parents eating spaghetti and that feels clich├ęd. I grew up among New Jersey Italians and this aspect of the movie, to me, felt more as if it were inspired by Clint Eastwood watching films about Italians from New Jersey rather than his actually attempting to depict real people.

I wish there had been more focus on ethnicity in the movie. How did it feel to four Italian guys from New Jersey with Mafia ties and criminal records to become number one musicians? There is a scene where a producer tells them, "Come back when you are black" and slams the door in their faces. In another scene, Frankie's soon-to-be wife advises him on spelling his last name in a way that will lead to success. Yes, he should shorten his name, but he should be sure to end it in a vowel, because Italian last names must end in a vowel, unlike WASP last names. In still another scene she ridicules him as a WOP from NJ who never finished high school. There are hints of what it meant to be Italian in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, but the movie doesn't flesh out this aspect of the story.

The movie really came alive for me through Frankie's relationship with his daughter Francine, and his taking the reins after Tommy DeVito's shenanigans cause too much trouble for the group. John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli is poignant. He is physically small, as is Frankie Valli in real life, and he plays Valli as a relatively quiet guy, while Tommy is played as more flamboyant. It's rewarding to watch Valli come into his own.

Christopher Walken is simply wonderful as Gyp DeCarlo, a member of the Genovese crime family whom Valli identifies as a father figure. In real life, Gyp DeCarlo was a loanshark and murderer. The film romanticizes him.

For a movie that depicts the rise of a pop group, "Jersey Boys" doesn't pay as much attention as it might to music. The early part of the movie focuses more on petty crime, and later it's more about the dynamics of the band member's petty squabbles with each other and the women in their lives.

I wish more attention had been paid to doo-wap and other social and musical influences. The Four Seasons era, from the 1950s to the 1970s, is one of the most creatively fertile times in American pop music. None of that is addressed in any serious way. And I wish there had been more start-to-finish musical numbers, rather than song snips.

All in all, though, I really liked this movie. It's the kind of movie that makes you want to go home and google this or that strand of the story to see if the film is true to life. Apparently, yes, "Jersey Boys" is a very accurate bio-pic. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Israel. Questions. Answers?

Some of my Facebook friends are very upset that a Palestinian boy is dead, and that another Palestinian boy was mistreated by police. I have a question for these same Facebook friends. 

If this upsets you


Shouldn't this upset you, too? 


Aren't all four boys innocent victims? If you care only about the loss of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and not about the loss of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, why is that? 

Is it because Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali were 


and Mohammed was 


???

But weren't all four boys

???

And isn't that the real tragedy? The loss of innocent youth, of any nation? 

Shouldn't we be looking for the route to 

so that no more innocents have to die? 

And isn't it true that 


wants

but

wants 

and

???

If we really 



shouldn't we, just like

choose 

for 


???

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Islam, and the American Left

It's as if your boss could tell you what to wear to work!!!!
The rabid backlash against Monday's SCOTUS decision in Burwell v Hobby Lobby is frightening and depressing me.

I am told that "morons" penned the first amendment that grants me religious freedom, a religious freedom that I did not have when I visited relatives in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia and Poland, countries that tortured and murdered Catholic priests. Religious freedom I did not enjoy when I worked in Nepal, where I was told in no uncertain terms that voicing my Christian faith out loud could get people imprisoned.

I am repeatedly reminded that if I have a vagina – yes it's all about words and attitudes like that – if I have a vagina, a twat, a c---, a hole – speak these words proudly and often if you are a real feminist!!! – if I have an innie rather than an outie, I must side with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and she must be my heroine, rather than the mean and unattractive old lady she strikes me as being. (I am unattractive. I am old. I am capable of being mean. Please be sure to call me a mean old lady if you disagree with me. I can dish it out, and I can take it.)

I am a Catholic, member of a church whose leaders are men. Yes, I wish we had women priests; no, I don't wish that because I think that men and women think differently. Brains think, not gonads.

The insistence on sexing cognition is primitive and backward. I frequently read Vatican documents, all I assume, written by men, and I love them. I love their eagerness to follow Christ's commands. I don't want people telling me that I'm a lesser being because I follow leaders who happen to be male.

Why don't my sisters who insist on vaginas as granters of wisdom and virtue get it that their argument can be turned around? It could just as well be argued that penises are granters of wisdom and virtue. Neither sex organ is. Feminists defy logic when they argue for equality of men and women and the negligible importance of gonads to thought and ethics, and then, when it is convenient, argue that being a biological female makes you superior and that it is your vagina that performs that trick.

The first amendment to the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

There you have it. The first amendment grants the Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby, a crafts store chain, the right to practice their religion as they see fit. They believe that their religion prevents them from paying for four birth control methods. They have no objection to sixteen other forms, and they provide them to their employees, whom they pay generously and treat very well, and they did so before Obamacare.

The same cannot be said about leftwing employers like universities; please have a look at how adjunct professors are treated. Similarly see organizers, fund-raisers, and other employees of leftwing organizations. Benefits? Health insurance? Pay? Are you kidding?

And yes I do speak from experience. Experience I am living right now as I work for a leftwing university and do so without health care. No health care coverage from employer. No health care coverage from Obamacare. No one protesting in the street in my name or in the name of thousands of others like me, similarly screwed by leftwing employees. No outraged op-ed pieces. No absurd analogies, either.

No one cares about employees being screwed over by leftwing atheists.

Anti-Hobby-Lobby arguments tend to run into false analogies: "The Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision means that Hobby Lobby can deny women birth control!!!"

No, it doesn't mean that at all. Birth control, including abortion, remains available, and Hobby Lobby has done nothing to impede access to birth control for anyone.

"The Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision is just as if the court ordered you to have an abortion!"

No. It's not like that at all. The Hobby Lobby decision doesn't order anyone to do anything against his will. (There. I just used the male pronoun to identify an unknown person. I must be going to Politically Correct hell!!!)

"The Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision is just like if the court decided that your boss can make you wear a BURKA!!!!!"

Now, this last is very interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, are those upset by this decision so blindly elitist that they have never had a job where they had to wear something not of their choosing? I had such a job when I was still in my teens: I worse a nurse's aide's uniform because it was a requirement of the job. Similarly, Hooters waitresses, letter carriers, MacDonald's burger flippers, and Disneyland cartoon characters all wear uniforms, uniforms their boss requires them to wear.

That leftists are unaware of this population of workers says much about their cluelessness about everyday life.

But there's another feature of this analogy that tells us much about the left.

Again and again, in Burwell v Hobby Lobby posts and parodies, the "Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision is just like ___insert Islamic analogy here___ …" analogies spring up.

Why?

Why have the Politically Correct suddenly discovered Islam?

The Politically Correct have long maintained a cordon sanitaire around any critique of any aspect of Islam. Anyone who, for example, mentioned the word "jihad" in a discussion of the terror attacks of September 11, or in relation to the rise of ISIS in Iraq, or in reference to the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, or as a factor that should be considered in attempts to list possible causes for the disappearance of MH370 – anyone who mentioned Islam or jihad in relation to any of these news stories is immediately verbally crucified by the Politically Correct as an Islamophobic monster, unworthy of admittance to public debate.

So, why have Politically Correct people, who have been telling us for decades that there is nothing noticeable about Islam, suddenly discovered Islam?

The Atlantic tells us that the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision explains the rise of ISIS in Iraq. You can read that here.

The Daily News tells us that Hobby Lobby is the equivalent of those who make women wear burqas and stone them to death here.

Daily Kos plays the racism card and demonizes "White Christians," opposing them to "a Muslim" here

The Raw Story quoted George Takei scaring his readers with equations of Christianity to Islam here.

There are hundreds if not thousands of similar comparisons out there. Their general thrust is this: the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision is a bad thing, and we know it is a bad thing because of this analogy: It's just as if Muslims were allowed religious freedom, or religious power, in America.

Now, this is a really, really interesting analogy for our Politically Correct friends to make. Because, for decades, our Politically Correct friends have not allowed anyone to breathe one word of criticism of Islam; they have not allowed anyone to say that any aspect of Islam poses any problem for anyone.

And all of a sudden, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, our Politically Correct friends let loose the floodgates they have kept more tightly clamped than the legs of a woman who buys her own birth control (No, I really couldn't resist, and I'm not sorry.)

But, suddenly, our Politically Correct friends have decided that Islam / hijab / burqas / sharia are all bad things, and they are bad things because you can use them in analogies to condemn Hobby Lobby.

"Truth is that which serves the party." When it was convenient for American communists to say so, the Hitler-Stalin pact was a very good thing and America should stay out of World War Two. When it served American communists to say so, America really should have joined World War Two much sooner.

Week before last, Islam was a religion of peace and hijab was just another clothing choice of women choosing freely. This week Islam is scary and hijab is scarier. So say our friends on the left. Because it is convenient for them to say so.

I have always been open with the criticisms I have of Islam. I have Muslim friends and I love them. They know exactly what I think about Islam because I tell them.

One of the things I repeat to my Muslim friends over and over is this: do not trust the "love" you get from American leftists. They will befriend you for as long as it is convenient for them to befriend you. When you no longer serve their needs, they will drop you suddenly and thoroughly and they won't even acknowledge you in public.

What have we learned from the disgraceful hysteria on the left regarding the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision?

That employers who pay their employees twice what comparable employers pay, and who offered their employees healthcare before it was mandated, are to be demonized and ruined, thus driving their working class employees out of work.

That no one deserves the protections of the first amendment. Huffy leftists get to decide what religious beliefs you may espouse or not.

That women who think with their brains are doing it all wrong. Women, remember. You are nothing but your gonads. Any aspirations to rise above your reproductive anatomy will not be allowed by the Party.

That Islam is suddenly scary. Actually, the Left always found Islam scary; they're just letting their fear out now, and they are doing so because it is helping them to bash Christianity.

That men and women aren't really equal. Except that they are equal. Except when it serves a leftist's argument to say that they aren't equal.

That spiteful ruination of a company owned and operated by Christians who treat their workers well is a really good thing, even if the workers are driven out of their jobs.

That leftist, atheist employers are excused from all demands to provide any health care for anyone and are free from protest.

It's an ugly, cognitive train wreck.

Yes, these are some of the reasons why I left the left. 
Source

Hobby Lobby Unintended Consequences of the Supreme Court Decision

Source: Wikipedia 
A little known unintended consequnce of the HOBBY LOBBY Supreme Court Ruling deserves greater attention.

Yes, of course I'm celebrating that Hobby Lobby won its court case Monday. But Iet's discuss a little known side effect of this ruling.

Thanks to Burwell v Hobby Lobby docket number 13-354, our sun will soon morph into a red giant. The parameters of our sun, formerly our friend who brightened our days, made summer possible, and ripened our crops, will expand into those of a hideous, fiery destroyer that will scour all life from our planet. Cute little puppies will be incinerated. Even the keens of mourning will be drowned out by eternal silence. Death will stalk the land. Time itself will cease to exist.

This is what happens when you let Christians win a court case.

Otherwise, though, I'm happy with the decision.