Brilliant, Hollywood!

I am continually baffled by the lack of education there seems to be on the left. Not only that but the apathy that they have for not being educated. To hear the hard-lefties say it, they have it all figured out – conservatives are all racists, homophobes, and biased against the poor. Conservatives don’t ever want to help anyone as evidenced by our aversion to approving endless unemployment and welfare that poses few questions about the person receiving said government handouts. I mean, anyone who doesn’t want to just throw money away to help the poor must be a total hatemonger, right? Anyone who doesn’t like President Obama is a racist; there’s no other excuse. And if you’re black and you don’t worship President Obama, woah! You are a total Uncle Tom!

What’s worse? Their leaders preach from a bully pulpit in Hollywood. In July 2012, actress Ellen Barkin went on a Twitter rampage that began with her saying, “I love everyone, except u right wing f**kin morons.” She later went on to make crass remarks about “how many village idiots” there are in Texas (she must mean the people who a Yale professor discovered were measurably more intelligent than her liberal choir), the Second Amendment never being meant to cover “semi-automatic machine guns” (there’s no such thing as a semi-automatic machine gun…a machine gun is fully automatic, whereas a semi-automatic only fires one round with every single pull of the trigger), strict Constitutionalists are “2 dumb and dangerous” (which, I suppose, is why all of the mass shooters over the past decade have been liberals who hated President Bush), and had the nerve to suggest that we be knocked down and dragged the f**k out.

First of all, if anyone in Hollywood or any of their minions among the unwashed masses really thinks they can knock us down and drag us out, you are welcome to try. Since you have already established that we believe in and exercise our Second Amendment rights and we’re therefore dangerous, I get the feeling even you don’t believe you’d be able to drag us out. Since most of us also did military service, you’d best be served by leaving us alone. How’s that sound?

Second, shut up and sing. I mean, who the hell is Ellen Barkin? Oh, that’s right – she’s the broad who spread her legs for Dennis Quaid in “The Big Easy”. What exactly is your expertise in? You’re the court jester. I don’t wanna hear you talk about how evil I am for not agreeing with you. I don’t even want to hear what your political bent is. I’m not going to waste time and money going to see something with you in it if all you do when you’re not acting is going on a rant about how hateful you think I am.

Third, this is how you sound: “I hate you, you hatemonger! YOU NEED TO BE MORE TOLERANT OR I’LL BEAT IT INTO YOU!!!” Do you ever stop and think before you speak? Where the hell is all this tolerance you say you have? Take a Xanax and calm yourself. I don’t hate you. I certainly don’t like you, but I don’t think you’re worth spending that kind of energy on.

What’s even more mind-boggling is that in the wake of the death of child superstar Shirley Temple, even more hatemongers have come out of the woodwork. Despite there being no other proof than the fact that she was a Republican and served as an ambassador to Ghana under President Nixon in 1974 and later as the ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989 under President Bush Sr., an unbelievable number of people have branded her as a racist in death. Twitter lit up with hateful liberals lamenting the fact that she was a Republican. Still more openly hated her for her supposed racism. Not one celebrity has come out to defend her.

These are the people who are supposed to be setting the example. When you lie about another group simply because you do not like them (and let’s face it, kids, when someone asks you what proof there is that all conservatives are racists and all you can come up with is “they just are,” you’re lying to smear them), you are doing the same thing the Nazis did. You cannot point the finger at us and call us hatemongers when you’re the ones spewing the hate.

Oh, and by the way, Ms. Barkin…you weren’t all that hot in that movie. Get over yourself.

Equality Is Coming (UPDATED)

I am finally able to say it: I’ve been in the loop on the first initiative of its kind here in Arizona. Currently, 12 states have legalized gay marriage. Now, Equal Marriage Arizona – helmed by conservatives and libertarians – has come out with amendments to the Arizona constitution that would legalize gay marriage for the first time in a Red State.

Today I joined a meeting that began with people from both ends of the political spectrum to begin coming up with strategy and attempting to enlist gay rights groups in an effort to bring marriage equality to the state I currently reside in. The tension was palpable; I could almost say there were some who exuded animosity at certain times. During our discussions, some could not help but bring up the fact that they’ve been working on equality for a long time. I couldn’t help but wonder whether that was their way of saying they knew better than the conservatives leading the charge what to do or if it was their ego coming out to say, “we want credit” – either way, I felt a sense that we had taken a big step forward in achieving something that no primarily conservative state has been able to accomplish yet.

A good friend and the chair of Arizona Log Cabin Republicans Caucus, Erin Simpson, had let me in on it and asked me to keep it on the down-low since nobody was sure if it would make it off the ground. I was excited to meet some of the other people behind the initiative and get the chance to hear everyone’s concerns, and I was particularly excited to finally be able to say publicly that we could actually win this.

I have said many times before that I would never support any marriage equality bill that did not also include specific provisions to reinforce religious freedom. Any law I got behind would have to explicitly protect the right of any church or religious organization to refuse to assert their freedom of religious expression and refuse to marry a couple, whether gay or straight. This initiative does exactly that. It is exactly two sentences, changing the language of the bill that was voted into law in 2008 that declared marriage as being between one man and one woman. It changes the language from defining marriage as between “a man and a woman” to being between “two persons”. Also added is the following phrase:

“A religious organization, religious association, or religious society shall not be required to solemnize or officiate any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its Constitutional right to free exercise of religion.”

No church will ever be forced to marry a gay couple if they choose not to. The doomsday predictions that churches will be sued for such refusals are shut down before they even begin. Gay and lesbian couples get their right to marry and Evangelicals are protected – which was exactly what I was personally after. And – bonus! – it’s been started by right-leaning leaders in the Arizona political scene. Erin is also a lesbian, a successful retired lawyer, and a wonderful woman with a lot of experience and wisdom to add to the debate on equality. The co-chair, Warren Meyer, is a successful businessman and libertarian. Others who are on board now once didn’t believe in marriage equality. That they are so honest is inspiring to me. It gives me hope that we can live in peace.

Equality is coming. It’s inevitable. I would simply prefer to have a say in all the other issues that come with it, and I am happy that things are changing.

UPDATE: after re-reading this post, I am aware that I didn’t explain something very well. I was never aware before the day of the meeting that this legislation was coming. I knew that SOMETHING was about to happen, but I did not know what until the day of the first meeting. When I finally got to the meeting and found out what it was, I had a very hard time not whipping my phone out and sharing the news with everyone. Someone that I know and respect was helping to get this initiative off the ground and I did not want to say anything until I had the green light from them. I apologize that this was not clearer when I first posted this.

Tragedy, Made Easy

It’s hard to think about what Jovan Belcher may have been thinking early Saturday morning when he shot his girlfriend at his home (in front of his mother, no less). In the past two days he’s been described as laid-back, jovial, hard-working and dedicated. It has even been reported that while he played for the University of Maine he joined the Male Athletes Against Violence Initiative. After shooting Kasandra Perkins, though, he drove to Arrowhead Stadium for Chiefs practice – only to thank his coach and general manager for what they’d done for him and later turn the gun on himself.

As tragic as this is, people can’t simply take in the gravity and mourn what’s happened. It wasn’t even 48 hours before leftists in the media were calling for an end to the “gun culture” in America. Bob Costas spoke of the issue during halftime on the broadcast of the Cowboys/Eagles game, agreeing with a Kansas City writer that “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News declared that “Murdering this young woman, 22, and then killing himself in front of his coach and his general manager was made easy by a gun, because a gun always makes it easier.” It hasn’t even been two days and too many people have pinned this on guns.

Costas quoted KC writer Jason Whitlock, who also wrote, “Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.” While I agree with his remarks that Roger Goodell should have cancelled Sunday’s game in KC, I could not disagree more with one of his final statements: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”

Here again, we see the phenomenon of those in a position of high visibility using a senseless tragedy to try to push an agenda. Rather than take a deeper look at society’s problems, they are quick to blame the gun. It’s easier that way because we don’t have to look at ourselves or ask what really does need to be changed – and how we got here in the first place. Blaming the gun absolves us of having to do or say anything that really might make a few heavy-hitters remarkably uncomfortable.

Sorry, Mr. Whitlock. It’s not the “gun culture” that drives young men to pull out the gats and start spraying rival gang members with bullets. “That gun was just irresistable, it made me feel like a man!” said no murderer, ever. I’ve been a corrections officer, and I know exactly what the problem with our culture is – but you don’t want to hear it. That’s why you’re so quick to blame a culture that really doesn’t exist in your quest for an answer.

When I was a kid, rap was just coming into the mainstream. Back in the 80′s, rap wasn’t nearly as violent as it is now. It wasn’t exactly peacenik music, but rap took an extremely dark turn in the 90′s when Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (among others) came onto the scene. Suddenly, we had a new brand of “music” (if you could call it that) that glorified gang membership, selling drugs to get rich, flaunting illegally-gotten gain and being extremely violent. It carried the objectification of women to an entirely new level, even glorifying rape. Shakur was killed in 1996, but as of last year has sold 75 million albums. The man had the words “thug life” tattooed across his abdomen. Snoop Doggy Dog has sold more than 30 million albums to date. He’s a declared member of the Crips, was in and out of prison before making it big. As a convicted felon, he’s barred by federal law from owning a handgun but has been very proud in flaunting the fact that he has guns and has been arrested on multiple weapons violations. Dr. Dre founded Death Row Records, has sold tens of millions of albums and has launched the careers of some of the biggest names in rap, including Snoop, 50 Cent, Eminem and The Game. I won’t even bother trying to quote rap lyrics because most of it would be blurred out and the editors would still need me to apologize.

Video games are also vastly different than when I was a kid. I had Pong and Frogger when I was little, followed by Super Mario Bros. and Kid Icarus as a teenager. Nowadays? We have the Grand Theft Auto series, a wildly popular game that has the player building a criminal empire from knee-breaker to high-roller – usually while getting revenge on another double-crossing bad guy. That series alone has sold 114 million copies across five versions.

Does anyone really still labor under the delusion that guns, and not pop culture itself, are to blame for the rise in violent tendencies? I started off in juvenile corrections. If they hadn’t taught us the statistics of youth involved in crime in the academy, we certainly would have learned the common denominators while walking the beat – the overwhelming majority of kids who have been adjudicated as delinquent and sentenced to real time come from single-parent homes, and those that knew both of their parents had one (usually their father) who was a convicted felon. Most of them were woefully undereducated; in fact, I lost track of how many were completely illiterate. They couldn’t have told you the difference between a noun and a verb, but they could have excused their glorification of the thug life so eloquently that they could almost make a believer out of you.

We were once a society that frowned upon having a child out of wedlock. Now we’re seeing astronomical rates of illegitimacy coupled with rapidly dwindling interest in education (and when someone tries to say, “hey, I made a mistake, don’t do what I did,” they’re derided by the press – Bristol Palin comes to mind). Whereas education was once important to America, we’re now at the bottom of the global pile and we’re trying to defend the educational system that has been an abysmal failure since my childhood. We have so-called experts telling teachers not to grade with red ink and teachers who don’t believe in homework or giving a student a failing grade because it’s too negative – then we expect these ill-prepared children who have no idea how to grow up to go out into the world and make something of themselves. All of this while they listen to violent music, play violent games, and glorify the lives of hardened criminals who get featured on VH1 for writing music while in prison. Discipline has all but gone the way of the dinosaur as liberals have managed to blur the lines between discipline and abuse. All of this in the name of self-expression – a purely emotional concept that teaches extremes that children should be learning to control, not vent.

I don’t believe for an instant that Jovan Belcher was violent. I think he may have had head injuries common to NFL players that contributed to his tragic end. Let’s not kid ourselves, though – all of these people now claiming that the ease with which he obtained his gun and the supposed gun-loving culture we live in made this happen are deluding themselves. Rather than look inward to see what we could change, they’d rather find another culprit so they don’t have to question all of their other beliefs about life and society. It’s unfair to the families of Belcher and Perkins to shift that blame. It’s tragic for future generations that we’re not willing to be honest.

It’s The Economy, Stupid! (Part I)

We all remember when Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign came out with that ridiculous line, but liberals are having some serious issues grasping rudimentary economic principles these days. Economics can grow into a complex subject, for sure, but there are some rules that remain very simple. The simplest of them all:

People go into business to turn a good profit.

I’m not talking pennies-on-the-dollar kind of profit. The type of person who goes into business for themselves spends a lot of time, money and effort on their education. They put substantial investments into their companies. Every entrepreneur takes a huge risk by starting a business, because they stand to lose quite a bit in the process. Most business owners do experience some failure before they become successful. Some owners lose everything and never find success. Those who do create jobs and pump money into the economy.

With that in mind, I’m struggling to understand how liberals are coming to the conclusion that major restaurant chains are cutting employee hours and other big businesses are starting mass layoffs solely to get revenge on Barack Obama.

I’m reading so many opinions about this thing that I’ve gotten lost in the madness. There are a wide range of expressions, ranging from the well-intentioned (“I can’t spend money with a company that would cut back on employee hours to avoid paying more”) to the breathtakingly stupid (“he’d only have to pay 14 cents per employee for their health insurance!”). I’m afraid I’m all out of patience for the misinformed.

What on Earth did any of you expect? You just had to pass that healthcare monstrosity. It was the most important thing in the world to you. Did you stop to think before pushing and then passing that legislation that there may be consequences? Did you not think that by forcing businesses to provide health insurance to all employees working 30 hours or more per week you might be increasing their cost of operating and, in turn, force them to find savings somewhere? It really is a simple concept, and you not only miss it, you assign blame to the most whimsical thing you can come up with.

I have the exact same health policy that I had in 2005. It’s the best policy my employer offers. In 2005, though, it literally cost me less than half what it costs now. As much as it costs me, my employer pays three times what I do for the policy – that’s on top of my salary. I used to pay $19 a paycheck. NOW I pay $52 a paycheck after three years of steep hikes. The health insurance bill you insisted must be foisted upon all of us is the reason.

Liberals had decided that health care costs were out of control and that something had to be done. Their brilliant idea was to force everyone to get health insurance, force insurers to cover all kinds of things that weren’t required before, eliminate annual spending caps and offer the Jersey salute to anyone even breathing the words “tort reform”. How is this supposed to help us? I still haven’t figured it out.

You said it was unfair for insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, so now the law bars all of them from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. The college kids who studied underwater basket weaving and couldn’t find decent jobs, along with the ones who didn’t go to college at all (particularly those who didn’t even finish high school), wanted to be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until at least age 26. Now the law requires that all insurers offer coverage to “dependents” up to that age, even if they don’t live with their parents. The hippies wanted their insurance to cover alternative therapies, including spiritual healing and acupuncture – things we’ve paid for out of our own pocket for eons. The feminists wanted their birth control for free because they forget to take the pill half the time, so they insisted on forcing coverage for much riskier forms of birth control (ever hear of pulmonary embolism?). And just to make sure we’re all being responsible citizens, you’ve banned insurers from charging co-pays for services that fall under the “preventive care” category.

You weren’t willing to enact tort reform to dramatically scale back the constant abuses on medical malpractice suits, but you just had to have all this other crap in the bill. The federal government is supposed to subsidize some 30-odd million people getting health insurance now, too – and it’s supposed to be paid for by massive cuts to medicare (that aren’t supposed to exist) and higher taxes on the very same business owners we’re forcing new costs on in the first place.

It’s no wonder our costs have gone up. Ostensibly, this was dreamed up for two reasons: first, making sure health care coverage is affordable. Because you insisted on forcing insurers to cover everything but a trip to the moon, fat chance of it ever being affordable again. Second, you wanted to control the price of healthcare due to those who are uninsured. The uninsured go to the ER for everything under the sun, from hangnails to the sniffles (thereby negating the purpose of an EMERGENCY Room), and when they stiff the hospital on the bill the costs supposedly get passed on to patients who ARE insured, right? So this new bill is supposed to cure that – the problem is that it drives up the cost of my premiums and gives more incentive for my employer to tweak my plan to include deductibles (meaning I pay more out-of-pocket – I didn’t have a deductible back in 2005). I’m now paying a lot more than I was paying before.

Anyone who really thought this would not be the end result of enacting the steaming pile of excrement that is the health insurance bill was either lied to or willfully ignorant. The worst part about the whole thing is that they did it “because it’s the right thing to do”, implying a moral need – the very same thing they castigate conservatives for.

Next, in Part II – how it all affects businesses