Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First, let me thank my family for the present of this computer, without which this post wouldn't have been possible (or at least probable).

Secondly,I'd like to wish my Christian friends a Merry Christmas. I'd also like to wish my other friends a Happy Channukah, Saturnium, and Ramadan.

On to the Faux outrage o' the day. Apparently the President sent out a Christmas Card that did not include a Christmas Tree. Instead it featured his dog reclining in front of the fireplace.

Of course, this proves that our President is a Secret Muslim.

As Sarah Palin puts it, ""It's odd," Palin said, wondering why the president's Christmas card highlights his dog instead of traditions like "family, faith and freedom."

Just for historical perspective, let's explore what past presidents have issued on this austere occasion.

Greeting cards didn't really come into play until the 19th century, but our first president, George Washington, spelled out in his contract of 1787 with a new gardener the amount of time for Christmas celebrations:

"In Consideration of these things being well and truly performed on the part of the sd. Philip Bater [or Bates], the said George Washington doth agree to allow him…four Dollars at Christmas, with which he may be drunk 4 days and 4 nights; two Dollars at Easter to effect the same purpose; two Dollars also at Whitsontide, to be drunk two days…"

Not exactly "family, faith and freedom", eh, Sarah?

Fast forward to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, who commissioned this 1863 depiction of Stuntz Toy Shop located at 1207 New York Avenue in Washington, D.C. as his Christmas greeting for that year:

Nary a reference to "family, faith and freedom." Obviously also a Secret Muslim.

Moving into the more modern era, here is Ronald Reagan's card in 1983:

Or George W. Bush's 2005 Christmas card, also featuring the First Dogs, incidently:

In honor of "family, faith, and freedom", I offer this simple Christmas wish. In the words of our current president's Christmas message:

"From our family to yours, may your holidays shine with the light of the season."

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Politics of Fear: 2nd Amendment Edition

According to Tea Party fave Senator Rand Paul, President Obama just banned a million American rifles. Although I couldn't find anything in recent news regarding this issue, I did find references to it dating back to September 2010, raising my suspicion that there might be some twisting of the facts here (such as "just" meaning "within the past year") to support an ulterior motive. And I was right.

Senator Paul's call to sign a petition (and of course make a donation) is a bit lengthy, so I'll just touch on a few of the twisted, or completely fabricated, "facts".

First of all, it's not a ban. The rifles in question are the M-1 Garand and the M-1 Carbine rifles loaned to South Korea in the 1960s after we pulled out of the Korean War as part of our Military Assistance Program (MAP) due to increased aggression and infiltration by North Korea. The U.S. State Department blocked the sale of the weapons by South Korea last year, as it has for the past five years, because the weapons do not belong to South Korea. They belong to us. By rights, the weapons should be returned to the U.S. Army, and then sent on to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) for inspection, grading, and eventual sale to collectors and American shooting clubs.

From the fourth line in Paul's appeal: "In a move unprecedented in American history, the Obama Administration secretly banned the re-importation of nearly one million American made M1 Garand and Carbine rifles." Besides not being "unprecedented" (The Clinton administration blocked sales of M1s and other antiquated military weapons from the Philippines, Turkey, and Pakistan.), the so-called "ban" was not done in secret; Fox News reported on it in September 2010.

Senator Paul refers to President Obama’s "deep seated hatred for gun rights", although reality seems to indicate otherwise. In 2009, President Obama signed two bills that allowed concealed weapons in national parks and permitted passengers with guns on Amtrak trains, and I have yet to see reports of any anti-gun legislation that he has either signed or vowed to sign. Last year the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence graded Obama an "F" on gun control.

HR 2159, which Senator Paul refers to as The Disarming American Citizens Act (as opposed to the actual title of Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act) was a non-starter and never made it out of committee, yet Paul wants you to fear it (and send money).

"In fact, on top of banning American citizens from owning these historic firearms, Obama’s State Department is arranging for the destruction of nearly one million of them -- ironically, at a time of ballooning federal deficits."

First, no one is banned from owning these historic firearms. You can buy an authentic, historical M-1 today at the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which is where the weapons in question would end up if they were imported. Second, there are no indications that the U.S. plans to destroy them, and third, is a time of "ballooning federal deficits" the time to spend our tax dollars to inventory, catalog, grade, and ship these weapons from South Korea just to sit in a warehouse waiting to be sold? Most of the people who are screaming loudest wouldn't be either willing or able to shell out $850 - $1,000 for an historic collectible.

Don't get me wrong. The M-1 is a beautiful weapon. The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon uses them in their precision exhibition drills, as does the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard. I wouldn't mind owning one myself, although I couldn't justify shelling out up to $1,000 for one (personal responsibility, living within my budget, and all that).

My point is that Senator Paul is creating a tempest in a teapot in order to stir up fear among his base and persuade them to send money to an organization whose purpose is to stir up more fear.

I realize Senator Paul is new at his job, but that's all the more reason he should focus on the job he was elected for - creating jobs and fixing the economy - and lay off the fearmongering, at least until he starts running for re-election.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Flip-Flopping Politician? Who'da thunk it?

The latest fabricated outrage has Fox News up in arms over the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of the President of the United States being seen in public wearing rubber footwear.

In response, I have but this to offer:

I guess the difference is, the former president's footwear is accessorized with official presidential socks, so that makes it okay.
I'm just glad Fox didn't call them thongs, because I suspect if I did an image search for "presidential thongs", I probably wouldn't want to to see the results.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The War on the War on Christmas

It's that time of year again. Time for snow to fall, LED mini-light nets to go up on houses, and neo-conservatives to begin caroling about how the lefties, communists, socialists, gays, and Jews are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. The first salvos have been fired, naturally by Fox News. Apparently, a school in Florida has outlawed red and green in their Christmas decorations .

Never mind that it's a story based on one parent's opinion, and that Fox didn't solicit the school's input. Because we all know that the school is a madrassa beholden to a politically correct liberal leftist agenda. Needless to say, the story was foundless, and Fox News has since printed a retraction.

Fox News notwithstanding, I can only assume that the hungry have been fed, the sick have been healed, and the homeless have been sheltered, since churches are crusading about how they're greeted at places of business. Take the case of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, who have posted on the web their annual Naughty and Nice list.

Now, a naughty and nice list is okay, as far as it goes. if a business chooses to be inclusive by trying to appeal to other than Christians-only, then you have a right to not give them your consumer dollars. But when a church bases their naughty/nice list solely on submissions from the internet, it opens the way for abuse.

The FBC in Dallas basically gives businesses a red (naughty) or green (nice) background to comments it receives. What's to stop a dissatisfied customer from adding a business to the naughty list because an associate didn't "look right" to him or her? Or from those Dogless Libruls from lying about whether someone who could have been on the nice list by claiming they, horror of horrors, wished them a Happy Holidays instead of a Merry Christmas?

What I find amusing is that, even though over 75% of Americans associate themselves with the Christian failth, so many followers of that faith see themselves as a victimized minority. My opinion is that if you're strong enough in your faith, you shouldn't have a problem with businesses including non-Christians in their holiday greetings.

Of course, everyone knows that nothing on the internet can be taken at face value, and this is apparent in the statement by the American Family Association, which states that Staples issued a press release saying ""We use the term Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. We do this because it does not offend any other religions and to remain politically correct." However, a simple Google search shows that Staples sells plenty of goods labeled clearly as Christmas items. Sure, they also sell holiday cards, but their largest customer base is businesses, and businesses tend to send generic holiday cards so as not to offend their non-Christian customers.

It all boils down to this: businesses tend to cater to the general public, not specific consumers. If your feelings are hurt because someone who wants to sell you something wants to sell to others besides you, then you should take your business elsewhere.

It doesn't mean that they are trying to bring down your way of life, or that they are attacking your beliefs, or that they are trying to impede your right to free speech. It just means that they want to appeal to a larger segment of the buying public. Your rights have not been violated, and you have the right to shop elsewhere. Please do so, just don't whine about how "political correctness" is infringing on your right to worship as you wish.

If you really want to put Christ back in Christmas, you need to throw out all the lights, trees, decorations, Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty, and get back to the real "reason for the season". Never mind that the actual "season" would have been in the spring or early summer, rather than during the winter soltice. Just keep in mind that all of the trappings that are associated with Christmas are based upon pagan rituals, and if you really want to get back to the roots of the celebration, abandon all the trappings of the holiday and follow Jesus' teachings on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, etc. rather than how your feelings are being hurt by the marketplace by hawking their wares to anyone other than you.

The pilgrims didn't celebrate Christmas because they considered it a hedonistic holiday. The Founding Fathers didn't celebrate Christmas, other than to perhaps participate in the drunken debaucherie.

It wasn't until 1870 that Christmas was actually recognized as a holiday in the United States. In the 1850s the American media portrayed Christmas as a personal family tradition, and this is the image that I suspect most anti-Happy Holidaysers want to idealize as Christmas. However, in the early 20th century the media changed tactics and commercialized it into what it is today - an opportunity to sell product to the masses that they don't really need and/or can't afford. And that is the Christmas that pastor Jeffress and his ilk are trying to preserve by pressuring businesses to cater to their ideology and no one elses.

As far as political correctness goes, ABC didn't think Charles Shultz's A Charlie Brown Christmas would go over well because it quoted Scripture on the real meaning of Christmas back in 1965, yet that cartoon continues to air every year, including this year. So much for the PC main stream media - today's argument didn't hold water 45 years ago, and it still doesn't make sense today.

So, Happy Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, and Mele Kalikimaka to all, and to all a Gute Nacht.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Geography lesson for the day:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today is the Day

I’ve been blogging here since about a year into Bush’s first term. During the run up to the invasion of Iraq, I began to see a dangerous trend in the direction our country was heading, and became increasingly political. I lobbied for change in the 2004 election season, and was appalled that Bush had been elected for a second term, thinking, “How could so many people be so stupid?’

Since then, our country has gone downhill. Our economy is in shambles, we are stuck in a war we had no business being in in the first place, and our constitutional rights have been trampled in the name of “national security”. Basically, we are reaping the consequences of handing our government to crooks, cronies, and power-hungry theocrats.

Today, that changes. The American people have finally woken up and realized that we cannot continue down that path and survive. No more giving preferential treatment to large corporations that send jobs overseas. No more ostracizing anyone who has a dissenting view of what the government should and should not do. No more waiting for opportunities to “trickle down” from those have no intention of, or interest in, sharing those opportunities.

It’s a new day, America. Let’s get it right this time. Our children depend on it.

Friday, October 24, 2008


[shahd-n-froi-duh] – noun: satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

Origin: 1890–95; G, equiv. to Schaden = harm + Freude = joy
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

I'm not one given to pleasure at others' misfortune, but I've been waiting for this day for a long, long time. After 8 years of arrogance and showboating from this C student, George W. Bush cast his absentee ballot in the presidential election uncerimoniously from his desk today.

As you may recall, he cast his ballots amidst great fanfare in the last two presidential elections. This time: No bluster, no smirking, just quietly and humbly filling out his absentee ballot at his desk and putting it in the mail.

I will proudly cast my ballot at my local polling station, in constrast to this broken shell of a president, and I will enjoy it immensely. And chances are, I will actually cast my vote for the winning candidate this time.