Culture Archives

Friday Link Wrap-up

Starting with Occupy Wall Street:

  • If the Tea Party had been shown to have done just a few of these things, if would have run on the nightly news for days. (Just recall how unsubstantiated accusations of racism were reported), and they would have been (rightly) castigated. When OWS does it, the press is mute.
  • Richmond charged the Tea Partiers $10,000 to have a rally. OWS, nothing. The Tea Party is going to ask for their money back on the grounds that the government is playing favorites.
  • It looks like even those who oppose the fat cats on Wall St. can act just like them. For a group upset at how the wealth has been spread around, they don’t do such a good job at spreading it themselves.
  • When Lech Walesa, Poland’s former President, said he support OWS, the AP was all over it. But when he got more details about what was really going on and what the demands were (such as they were), he decided not to support it, saying "American is sliding towards socialism."  All of a sudden, the AP website didn’t seem to think that Walesa existed. Oh, that liberal media.
  • Vagrants started to take advantage of the free food at the OWS protests, and all of a sudden the 99% started acting like the 1%. One protestor was quoted as saying, “It’s turning into us against them. They come in here and they’re looking at it as a way of getting a free meal and a place to crash, which is totally fine, but they don’t bring anything to the table at all.” It got so bad, the folks manning the kitchen staged their own protest against providing food for free to those who weren’t there to support the cause, aka freeloaders.
  • Take a look at these headlines. If they described Tea Partiers, you just know they’d be the top story on the nightly news. OWS gets a pass. A lot of passes, actually.

Folks who support assisted-suicide claim they just want to stop suffering. Today’s slippery slope defines "suffering" as "loneliness" and financial troubles.

James Taranto starts out by describing what sounds like the housing bubble. But he’s not. What other bubble is out there, inflating as we speak, and is ready to burst?

With a Democrat in the White House, the "no blood for oil" chant has gone on hiatus. Imagine if Dubya had gone into Libya.

And finally, speaking of OWS, here’s a graphic to help the media tell Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party apart. (Click for a bigger image.)

What About the 1% in Hollywood?

It would be easier to take the Occupy Wall Street crowd more seriously if they did something like Occupy Hollywood. How many multi-millionaires live there? Quite a few, actually. But not a peep from the OWS folk to them. Even though, as John Hayward notes, they do the same sort of things that the OWS accuse the Wall Street folks of doing.

Liberals are strangely incurious about why their betters never instruct them to hate Hollywood during their class-warfare lectures. I mean never. Movie stars, singers, producers, directors, and star athletes are the millionaires you’re never told to envy. Their “fair share,” and the methods they use to avoid paying it, are not topics for discussion.

Liberals are even willing to extend this consideration to a grotesque caricature like Michael Moore​, the greedy millionaire who made a fortune by making his fans look stupid, and refused to employ union labor while doing it. He walked right past union operatives to receive a warm welcome from the Wall Street protesters. He moved out of a luxurious New York City penthouse to avoid paying his “fair share” of New York taxes on his immense movie profits, celebrated the release of a movie lambasting capitalism with a posh party at another swanky penthouse, and filled in a wetland to put the finishing touches on his million-dollar Michigan estate.

Of course, most in Hollywood support the same liberal talking points that the OWS crowd is pushing. Which exposes this as a political movement, intent on pushing a socialist agenda, but under the guise of being an economic movement, concerned about spreading the wealth around. If it’s wealth that needs to be spread around, shouldn’t it also come from political allies? If you don’t care about that — if your friends can keep their money but your perceived enemies can’t — that’s just envy and covetousness, not concern.

Thou Shalt Not Covet the 1%’s House

One of God’s top 10.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Contrary to what some think, coveting is not just wanting something. Coveting is wanting something that belongs to someone else. God made it pretty clear about not coveting that which is your neighbor’s. (And of course, Jesus explained to us that our neighbor is essentially anyone else.)

But right now, in cities and countries all over, there are protests going on, getting rave reviews from liberals and the media, where the key ingredient is precisely this; covetousness. Much of what you hear from videos and their own website, even the whole 99% thing, is out of a want, not for money, but for the money of the “1%”. (But, because these things would be paid for by taxes, they’re really aiming for the wealth of the 53%.)

“You, cancel my loans!”

“You, pay me even when I’m not working!”

“You, finance my healthcare!”

And the target of their protests must pony up the cash. No, not “the 1%”, but the 53%, and their children. These protestors want their money; no their own. That is not at all to say that cancelling loans, unemployment benefits or subsidized healthcare are, in and of themselves, a bad thing in moderation, and when circumstances may warrant. But the method these “99%” suggest — more power to a government that got us into this situation in the first place — is both ironic and sad at the same time because they propose we keep digging the hole we’re in rather than get out of it.

(And, by the way, the folks who say they are 99% of the country? Not so much.)

We have some modicum of socialism in this country already — Social Security, Medicare, for examples — but these programs are going bankrupt. Social Security is now paying out more than it is taking in, and has been for a year now, because the socialized method used to pay for it couldn’t handle a Baby Boom. And yet these folks want the 1%/53% to finance yet another iteration of this.

The blame is misplaced, and the solution follows the direction of failed policies. So what’s a country to do?

Brett McCracken writing at his blog The Search sums things up well, both the issues and the solution.

As a “movement,” Occupy Wall Street doesn’t reveal an organized grassroots agenda as much as it represents a general climate of anger, frustration, and antagonism against the “haves”–a suspiciously narrow (1%), heartless, no good very bad group whose entrepreneurial success and capitalistic success apparently oppress the 99% of us have-nots who are being unfairly kept from sharing in the 1 percent’s riches.

Mostly, though, Occupy Wall Street represents the natural discontent of an entitled generation raised on the notion that we deserve things, that the government owes us something, that everything we want should be accessible, and that somehow we are not responsible if we don’t end up quite as successful in life as we’d hoped. It’s a blame-shifting problem. It’s an inability to delay gratification or go without that which we believe is our right or destiny. And it’s a problem both on the micro/individual and macro/government level.

McCracken suggests that the blame is one that we all share, not just some tiny slice of us, from whom we need to extract our pound of flesh.

The thing is, “sharing blame” is hard for us humans to do. We’re infinitely averse to admitting our own culpability. In almost anything. Whether it be our own financial hardships, or those of our communities, or the high taxes under which we suffer… We have to lash out against someone. We have to go occupy something.

As Christians, though, I think we must first and foremost look within for the blame. We must own our share in the mess. Beyond institutions and hegemonies and Wall Street tycoons, how are we responsible for the trouble we’re in? True revolution begins here. True change begins with what we can actually control: our own lives, an awareness of our weaknesses and potentials, and a commitment to working to improve.

If we have to occupy something, let it be the dominion of our own culpable Self, the guiltiest of all institutions and the one we are likeliest to spur toward positive change.

I dare say that should this particular philosophy suddenly grip the Occupy Wall Street crowd, things might disperse rather quickly. Is there injustice in America? Yes, there is. But Jesus didn’t storm the house of Zacchaeus, among the “1%” of his day. Jesus didn’t complain that the government in Rome was unfair and make demands of it. He spoke truths to individuals, even the 1%ers. He changed hearts, which then changed the culture. Let’s follow that example instead.

The Latest "Believers Are Stupid" Study

Not being as good at math proves religious people don’t think. No, really, that’s what a Harvard study is saying it proves. Lisa Mill tears it down for us.

Just Kidding

The same people who will make excuses for Roseanne Barr’s call for the beheading of the rich — who say she’s a comedian and was just joking — also seem to be the same people to reject the idea that Rush Limbaugh is a satirist and take 100% of what he says seriously. Just sayin’.

September 11, After the Fact

The 9/11 memorial services came and went yesterday, with the appropriate solemnity and words for those who lost loved one, and for the rest of us who were also affected by the terror attacks. I talked again with a couple of my kids of their memories of that day, and mine, and of a family member who watched it happen live from the roof of the building where he worked in downtown New York. I think it’s good, and cathartic, to relive that occasionally and really remember how strange and terrible it was.

But it’s September 12th today. It’s after. The past decade has been one of conflicting ideas of how our country has gone and should have gone following those events. Over the weekend, I read an article that got me thinking; we’ve actually done pretty well.

With the headline “9/11: the decade since the September 11 attacks has been one to celebrate”, Richard Fenning (CEO of Control Risks, a firm advising on political, security and integrity risks), writing in the London Telegraph, reminds us that the past 10 years, while having its own set of concerns and political arguments, has actually been good for the US.

Al-Qaida and its affiliates continued to plan attacks. Some succeeded, others were frustrated by massive international counter-terrorism efforts. But we became conditioned to the inevitability of future attacks. This anxiety was used to justify forms of intelligence-gathering – extraordinary rendition, water-boarding – we had previously preferred not to know about.

Public support fractured. Moral clarity was partly replaced by cynicism in the West as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq became less about building shiny new nations and more about bringing our troops home with a modicum of dignity intact. Western opinion seemed to oscillate between aggressive defensiveness from the political right and hand-wringing contrition from the left. There seemed little space for consensus.

In the Muslim world, responses varied. In countries like Saudi Arabia, pragmatic support for the US remained firm, founded on shared animosity to Iran, and fear of local, radical Islamism. In Pakistan, the Afghan spillover ruptured fragile political stability, culminating in the killing of bin Laden by US Special Forces a few miles from a top military establishment. The prospect of an enduring peace between Israel and Palestine remains pretty much where it was ten years ago: nowhere.

But to everyone’s surprise – including a deflated al-Qaida – the decade ends with the ‘Arab spring’ dispatching rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya. Syria hangs in the balance. Theirs is an unfinished story in which unpredictability is the only certainty.

Fenning’s business is one of managing risk, so he obviously stresses those situations where things are shaky. But I would point out the good news:

  • There have been no major terrorist attacks in the US in the past 10 years. Say what you will about the measures that have been taken, if anyone, during the year after 9/11 that we’d be completely safe from anything close to that for 10 years, they would have certainly hedged any bet on that.
  • It’s the Arabs that are having a “spring”. It is they who are overthrowing their longtime dictators. Indeed, as Fenning notes, what’s to come is still uncertain, but the upheaval that bin Laden was hoping to cause here was very short-lived, relatively speaking. Instead, the Middle East is busy tearing down its autocrats, while Israel and the US are as stable as ever (economic self-inflicted wounds here notwithstanding).
  • And speaking of bin Laden, he’s no longer with us.

There are still those out there that wish to harm us, and have succeeded, on occasion, to a very small extent. But we have emerged from this ordeal with, I think, a more sober view of the world and of our “untouchableness”. The realization of who the major enemy is has been understood to varying degrees by most people.

And the feared mass persecution of Muslims never materialized. There may have been an uptick in violence, and there are those now who (fairly or not) still regard Muslims in airports with additional scrutiny, but the fact remains that the trend worldwide is still that Christians are the ones most persecuted (75% of incidences in a recent report).

I believe we’ve taken this tragedy and turned it around. Granted, as fallible human beings, not all the lessons to be learned were, and not all the changes made were for the better. But in the big picture, I think we’ve done pretty good with the hand we were dealt in 2001.

And that’s worth remembering, too.

Friday Link Wrap-up

Got to catch up on the wrap-up. The past two weeks have been dizzying.

Warren Buffet said he’d be more than happy to pay more taxes. First of all, if he’d be that happy about it, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from just writing a check to the US Treasury. Second of all, he wouldn’t be fighting the IRS over unpaid taxes. How happy, really, do we think he’d be?

Evan Sayet is getting confused trying to keep track of all the different kinds of beliefs that cause the Left to label you "racist". The list keeps growing. (Note, this is a link to a Facebook post. If you don’t have an account, I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it.)

Another instance of where private, protected, Christian speech will get you suspended. (Note, this is too much even for the ACLU.)

You need an ID to get a job, fly on a plane, or buy liquor. But showing an ID to vote? Why, that’s a poll tax, says Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

Planned Parenthood styles itself as a "family planning" service (at least, it does that when it’s trying to protect its government funding). But by their own numbers, 97.6% of pregnant women who went to PP in 2009 were sold an abortion. And that’s up from the year before. It’s an abortion mill, plain and simple. Follow the money. On top of that, would you consider "safe" a procedure that caused 28% of its patients to attempt suicide afterwards? Or one where patients had an 81% increase in mental health issues?

When the NY Times calls you liberally biased, you really need some self-examination. And yet this same "news" organization was chosen to moderate the recent Republican debate.

The government gives breaks from taxes and some laws based on religious affiliation. However, that determination seems to be getting rather politicized under Obama. When the National Labor Relations Board can decide if you’re "religious enough" (and claiming it based on specious authority), it’s chipping away at religious liberty.

The Washington Post’s "On Faith" section recently asked its contributors, "After millennia of religious studies, is it time for universities also embrace secular studies?" Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission answers with the obvious, "They already are."

A recent WikiLeaks document dump did not redact the names of informants to the US State Department. Now these people must fear for their lives. Is this what Assange supporters really want from their idol; pronouncing death sentences?

Civility Watch: New web-based video game lets you kill well-known Republicans. If a Republican is shot anytime soon, will the Left allow anyone to blame liberal incivility? (Hint: No.)

James Pethokoukis makes a strong case for the idea that what Obama did made the economy worse, not better.

In Obama’s jobs speech the other night, he claimed that all his spending would be paid for. No, sir, not based on your speech it won’t.

And finally, a thought on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. (Click for a larger picture.)

Civility Watch

Here’s a reminder of why I started this semi-irregularly scheduled feature. When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, liberals fell all over themselves blaming conservative rhetoric, graphics with targets, and of course talk radio for supposedly creating the environment for such an assassination attempt. It was clear that they had contributed just as much, if not more, themselves prior to the shooting. "Civility Watch" came about to show how little they really would even take their own medicine. It’s been made clear, since then, that uncivil discourse is really only uncivil if it’s a Republican saying it.

The most recent cases in point: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) told Tea Partiers that they can go "straight to hell". Now you know what they think of responsible spending. And liberal columnists, even those that have other issues with Waters, praise that outburst and wish for more, and excuse that incivility by saying, "They started it!" Yeah, right.

Also, Rep. Andre Carson (D-MI), a leader in the Congressional Black Caucus, claimed that Tea Partiers would “love to see us as second-class citizens” and “some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree.” This is not only incredibly over the top, but also has the added benefit (to him) of being believed simply because he said it, lacking a shred of proof or naming names. He can say it with impunity, and the audience just accepts it as The Truth.

The Left simply cannot sell themselves as the ones who are for civil discourse, at least to those who are truly paying attention.

Representative, or Least Common Denominator?

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg had this to say about who will be allowed to be in the official memorial of the 10th anniversary of 9/11: "Everybody would like to participate, but the fact is that everyone cannot participate." An understandable position to take, except that, for they type of "everybody" he was referring to, he’s excluding over 80% of the country.

At a time when family and friends will gather at Ground Zero to commemorate the loss of thousands murdered in the nation’s worst terrorist attack, the remembrance likely will be even more painful for many.


Mayor Bloomberg says the city will not permit clergy – any clergy – to participate at the 10th anniversary of 9/11. No public prayer. Period. From the Mayor: "Everybody would like to participate, but the fact is that everyone cannot participate."

The fact is that the vast majority of the country is religious. By excluding any form of religion from the memorial is to be completely tone-deaf to the people of his own city and what their religion means to them, never mind the rest of the country. This is political correctness gone way too far, to where it becomes the tyranny of the minority. The even this memorializes touched people of all different faiths, and no faith at all. The memorial should be more representative of that, rather than just a "least common denominator" event.

Quick, hide those beams that were in the shape of a cross.

Friday, er, Monday Link Wrap-up

There have been more casualties in Afghanistan under less than 3 years of Obama than we did under 8 years of Bush. Additionally, in the first 3 years of the Iraq war, we had fewer casualties than two and a half under Obama. This is not to criticize Obama for these deaths; that’s what happen in war. But Reason magazine notes that this raises 2 questions. "First, where are the antiwar protests? And second, where is the press?" The "anti-war" protestors are, as I’ve said before, more anti-Bush (or anti-Republican) than anything else. And the press are tied up trying to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin. It’s a full-time job, y’know.

Unions hand-picked 6 of the most vulnerable Republican state senate districts to target for recall. They just needed 3 wins to take control. They could only manage 2. Granted, recall elections have been notoriously difficult to win over the years, but if Democrats and the unions that sponsor them can’t get their base energized over their own referendum on alleged "anti-worker" sentiment in hand-picked districts, that doesn’t say much about how the public views them.

Atheists seem to believe that if humanity would just get rid of this archaic religion thing, violence would drop and peace would reign. Just ask Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, or even John Lennon. Yeah, well, how did that work in the Soviet Union, where atheism was essentially the national religion? Or in Europe today, especially Britain, where religion is on the decline?

And speaking of ideas not working, how’s that gun ban in Britain working out for those store owners in the middle of the riots?

Remember the spontaneous "You lie!" outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson of S. Carolina during an address by President Obama about his health care bill? Joe said that after Obama said, "There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." Well guess what? Turns out Joe was right.

Why do we need voter ID laws? To keep this from happening; overenfranchised Democratic voters. And how about this bit of irony: "While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme."

Dale Franks of Questions & Observations has some great points about our economic situation. A couple of paragraphs, from one post talking about the hole we’re in:

And don’t come back at me with some lame "Our GDP:Debt ratio was 120% at the end of WWII" silliness.  Yes it was. And you know how we fixed it? We cut Federal spending from $92 billion in 1945 to $38 billion in 1949. For 2011, 40% of the federal budget was financed with borrowed money: We’ll spend  $3.818 trillion, of which  $1.645 trillion is borrowed. If we funded only defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security, and interest on the debt, we’d still have a deficit of $673 billion. Just to balance the budget this year—forget paying off any debt—we’d have to cut an additional ~25% from Health, Defense, and Pensions. Follow the link and download the CSV file, open it up in Excel, and run the numbers yourself. The magic number to balance the budget this year is the revenue of $2.174 trillion.

That’s $2 trillion this year, not over 10 years.

And from another post, noting that tax increases alone, even historic tax increases and an incredibly rosy set of other assumptions, aren’t going to do it. Spending cuts, substantial cuts, must happen.

In order to pay off this year’s share of the $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the government will have to collect $4.261 trillion in revenues.  With an estimated 2011 GDP of $14.922 trillion, that comes to 28.6% of GDP. If we assume government revenues rise to the historical average, the we’ll need the government to take 31.6% of GDP in tax revenues. Happily, because we’re assuming a 3% rise in GDP and revenues for every year over the next 30 years, that percentage will decline slightly every year, until, in 2041, we’ll only need to collect 20.5% of GDP in tax revenues to pay off the last installment, assuming, again, 14.8% of GDP covers the operation of government.  If we go back to the 17.8% figure, then we’ll have to collect 23.5% of GDP in revenues.

Either way, for the next 30 years, we need to collect substantially higher tax revenues than we have collected at any time in the nation’s history, and we have to do it every year for 30 years.

The point being, this is probably not possible, economically or politically. This is how bad our situation is, and how much action we need to take now on spending.

And yet, who gets blamed for trying to bring sanity back to the budget? (Click for a larger version.)

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