Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Act Of Kindness, An Overreaction And The Social Justice Warriors Go Wild

This is a story that will by tomorrow, if not later today, that will gain national attention as it involves a restaurant, a woman doing a good thing and a homeless panhandler caught in the crossfire of the Social Justice Warriors and the rest of us.
This past Saturday, Florentina Albert, and her husband went to have a family breakfast at a local Pasadena, California family restaurant, Conrad's. It is been a fixture on the northeast corner of Lake and Walnut Avenue for decades. Neither Mrs. RVFTLC or I have ever been there. Every so often, we are thinking about going there, but do not.
Mrs. Albert saw a homeless man named Michael. The man asked Mrs. Albert if she could but him French Toast. She said sure. Her and her husband and Michael all went in. According to Mrs. Albert's account, she said that she would like to buy Michael a meal and to make sure that he would sit at the counter to eat his meal. A seemingly decent request.
It went downhill from there.
Mrs. Albert says that the owner gave Michael the food and asked him to take the food to go. And she was not happy with that and her husband saw Michael waiting to cross the street. She chased him down, told him to come back and confronted the owner. His response clearly was one of frustration:

"We don’t want him here. Why not? Michael sits outside and panhandles, bothering our customers asking for food.”

Does anyone doubt this?
Save that thought for later.
After a little more conversation, the owner relented and let Michael eat his meal. But not without the warning, "Today is the last time">
Mrs. Albert originally shared all of this on Facebook on a Pasadena page. But she also took photos. Of the receipts and a note she wrote of her displeasure.

I will assume that the first receipt is that for Michael's meal. It is not for French Toast, but hey, he changed his mind. And Mrs. Albert didn't care and wanted to willingly pay for it.
If anyone reads this blog with any regularity, I am not very sympathetic to the homeless because we as a society are allowing them to be out there and in most cases not getting the proper help that they need.
In this case, I actually side with both people.
I do get where the owner is coming from. I don't like going somewhere and before I get in the door, I am accosted by a homeless person. Most will ask for change, but there are many that ask for dollars. Not just a buck but dollars. Usually its a buck or five bucks. I always say no and that is no matter what. And I am usually not a happy camper to be accosted in the first place. Mrs. RVFTLC is more open to being sympathetic and has helped me at least try to have compassion about the homeless. But the problem has grown a lot here in Pasadena. I have lived here for 13 years and it is clear that there is a larger problem. Ask any member of the Pasadena police department. They will not speak on the record and it is like anything else there is some variance of opinion but they all will admit that the problem has grown, especially since the Gold Line light rail train from Los Angeles to here opened up. While most are not overly aggressive, many are. As I noted, they want more than the change you may have in your pocket. And many of these homeless are addicts, mentally ill or just plain not wanting to deal with life. The families that may get to a terrible condition of homelessness are much, much lower than we are led to believe by homeless advocates.
So, the unidentified owner of this family restaurant deals with Michael, or someone like Michael, almost every day. And there is no doubt that they scare a fair share of customers off.
But the unidentified owner could have dealt with the matter differently.
He did not need to be abrupt for after all, Mrs. Albert was taking responsibility for Michael by paying for his bill and I am sure watching for him to see how he would be in regards to the other customers. Now I do not know what Michael looked like. How he was dressed. Whether or not he was somewhat clean or dirty and smelly beyond belief. He should have taken the initiative to personally go to where Mrs. Albert was sitting with her husband and explained that although a nice gesture, Michael is a "regular" and does this all the time and that he will let Michael have his meal at the counter but it's probably not a good idea to do this again. If Mrs. Albert is a regular, I have no doubt she is, the owner should be more thoughtful.
As Mrs. Albert was actually doing something that many homeless advocates recommend. Offering to buy a meal, or in this case she was asked by Michael, instead of giving some loose change or dollars. It is a way to test if a homeless person is really hungry or just wanting money for other things. She had a moment of compassion for Michael and decided not just to pay for the meal but told him to come in with them and have the hot meal at the counter of the restaurant. She gave a down and out man a moment of dignity.
I don't question either person's motive.
The restaurant owner is doing two things. Looking out for his customers and, like it or not, trying to make a buck the way that he best knows how.
Mrs. Albert wanted to do something awesome for a man that needed a lift up. Even if it is for a few moments of time on a Saturday morning.
What is irritating about this is the Social Justice Warriors, who have no clue what it is like to run any business let alone a family restaurant, are leading the charge of condemnation against Conrad's. As I noted, this story will get bigger as the local ABC television station had this story on the 11pm news last night. It will be nationwide before you know it.
The SJW crowd loves to show how much they care for the cause they are fighting for, but how many really get both sides of such a story? I get Mrs. Albert being upset and not wanting to eat there again. But here is an opportunity for a businessman to show some good will and reach out to Mrs. Albert and at least try to make things right. Maybe they can do something good together.
I don't think that the owner is getting it, however.
In the aforementioned story on the 11pm news, an attorney spoke for the owner of the restaurant. Not dissing an attorney, but at this point the owner needs to show his face and explain his side of the story. It just is bad optics.
Here's something the SJW crowd does not get or care in reality.
Homelessness is one of those problems where there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are varying degrees of how to deal with the different kinds of homeless. Mentally ill. Addicts. A combination of both. Transients. And the few but very sad cases of families caught in this economy.
Neither they or businesses can look at the issue and offer anything beyond the bromides. It does not help when people who have probably never set foot into Conrad's use social media to diss the restaurant and give it poor ratings on outlets like Yelp. The owner feels cornered and that he is convinced he did nothing wrong.
An act of kindness and an overreaction by a frustrated businessman should not be so blown out of proportion but some cooler heads should prevail and maybe, just one time something good can come out of such a situation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Starbucks "Encourages" Baristas To Discuss Race Relations; What Can Go Wrong?!

Good Lord, I swear that Starbucks is doing everything in it's immeasurable power to discourage me from remaining a customer.
Really, I mean I don't care that there about 50 Starbucks in my hometown of Pasadena, California. For if the latest attempt at feasting on a festering social issue as race relations by having baristas write a message, "Race Together" and encourage customers to discuss their views on race relations continues, many customers will finally say enough is enough with the fricken social activism.
OK, OK, I get it. Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, is a big liberal. And this is not his first foray into using Starbucks not just to make a buck but to do so on the back of controversial issues.
One thing we can all agree on is that race relations in the United States is at the lowest it has been in my 50 years of God's Green Earth.
Blacks against Whites.
Whites against Blacks.
Hispanics against Blacks.
Blacks against Hispanics.
Whites against Hispanics.
Hispanics against Whites.
And so on, and so on and so on.
So Mr. Schultz seems to think that if his mostly White, hipster crew of baristas (also known as coffee makers for the regular folks) just write a smarmy, sentimental message of "Race Together" and encourage people to talk about their "race journey" then he is in for a rude awakening.
Picture this scenario.
Some Black gal steps into a Starbucks in Urbanville, USA. Let's say her name is Azelia Banks. You know who she is, right? She is a a rapper. In an interview with Playboy magazine, she made it clear what she hates about the United States. It's us eeeeevvvvviiiiilllll WHITE Americans! Here is the inflammatory comment:

"I hate everything about this country,"Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma -- that's really America."

Yeah, so Miss Banks steps into the Starbucks and makes her request. The young, White hipster with his beard and horned-rimmed glasses gets her order, probably all wrong, and writes the requisite "Race Together". Miss Banks reads it and, well I'm sure there will be an intellectual discourse that probably would include the police department of Urbanville, USA. And probably see the hipster dude carted off to jail for his trouble.
Somehow, I see this happening all across the United States. Not necessarily angry, but with many customers saying that their views on race relations are not the business of some barista at Starbucks.
You know what those customers care about? The barista getting their order right. They don't care if said barista is name the race group. The average customer is shopping their for a specific service.
COFFEE. And COFFEE related products. Maybe some FOOD to go with that.
The average customer is not going there for discussion on current events with a server and fancy title. Really, we are not.
I like Starbucks coffee. Yeah, so sue me. And I just want to get a large coffee most of the time when I partake going there. Maybe I want a  large Frappacino. Oh, and since I am a simple guy, it's small, medium and large. Not Tall, Venti and whatever large is. I don't care who provided the coffee. I don't care if it is "fair trade", free trade or whatever. I do not care what Starbucks does in the community. I don't care what cause their management thinks I should care about.
I am there for a product. I am there to use the free wi-fi while I am enjoying me drink. If I have time to stick around.
It is so pretentious  people like Mr. Schultz to use his angst and self-flagellation about race relations to all but force employees to start a "conversation" with someone on race relations.
What would happen if a Black employee wanted to start a race conversation with a seemingly nice White guy? What if it turned out that he was the local chair of the Ku Klux Klan and used this tender moment to explain to said Black employee why he and all Blacks are sub-human and if he had his way, they would all be shipped back to the African continent.
How about an Asian employee starting the conversation with a tatted-out, shaved head Hispanic customer? Yeah, somehow I don't think it would go all that well as there is already resentment in the area I live among non-Asians about their seemingly strong economic power over other race groups including Whites and, and ethnic Jews.
Oh, that would also be an awesome conversation. Any group suggesting that Jews have unfair advantages and that really, they control everything.
Do you see how such an idea is so bad? Do you, Mr. Schultz?
There is a place and time for any discussion. But not in such a way at a business that depends on goodwill to all people. All potential customers. To bring up such a alienating issue is beyond asking for trouble.
If this goes as well as I expect it will, Starbucks may lose a lot of customers. Customers that they should be listening to and not disrespecting.
What can go wrong with a Starbucks barista wanting to discuss race relations? Everything and anything.

GOP Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns From Congress

Embattled GOP Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) announced today that he is resigning from congress as questions have embroiled the congressman over using taxpayer and campaign funds for remodeling his Washington office, taking trips that were questionable.
The fact is that evidence was mounting that Rep. Schock was fast and loose with money for himself. In the linked article are other stories about a clear pattern of Rep. Schock taking plane trips with heavy-hitting campaign contributors. Also, the cost and Downton Abbey style of his office remodel was exorbitant, even by Washington standards.
One of the youngest members of congress, Rep. Schock was emerging as a foreign policy hawk. But getting fast and loose with money is not a good thing and it is clear that he saves having the Republican majority in the house of representatives from doing an investigation from the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee. But he still could face potential charges as the Federal Election Commission and the Justice department could continue investigating Rep. Schock.
Good that Rep. Schock resigned.
Look, the GOP can not claim to a party of reform and have a potential major league crook be the face of the party. We can not say we are fighting corruption while having a member all but stick his middle-finger in the face of the taxpayers.
We conservatives must hold our people to the high standards we set for them. No excuses. If we do not then there truly is not one difference between the Democrats and Republicans.
This is a message to other Republicans who think that they can pull off this kind of corruption and think that they can get away with it. They can not. Not in this age of social media. A social media that the narcissistic Rep. Schock used and ended up being the albatross that brought him down.
One less Corruptican like Rep. Aaron Schock in congress is better for all.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How Does A Conservative Vote And Participate In A Liberal City?

I know, I know; why would a conservative even live in a liberal city, right?
Well, unlike many on the other side, we conservatives can appreciate a good city despite it's politics. We can even find some agreement with political opponents if it serves the interest of the city on the whole. And some on the other side will work with those of us who self-identify as conservative to reach such a goal.
This past Tuesday were the municipal elections for my hometown of Pasadena, California. The Crown City. Home of the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl football game on New Year's Day.
We had elections for mayor, several city council seats and two school board seats.
And let me be clear that there was no self-identified conservative running for anything. Yes, there was a Republican who ran for mayor, Bill Thomson. But in the six-candidate field, he was the only one. And because in this election the winner must win 50% plus one, that did not happen. And in one city council race, it did not happen either. Thus we move onto round two on April 21. Here are the election results.
The leader of the mayor's race is a city council member, Terry Tornek. He is an establishment type as he really has not many new ideas and is fine with the status quo. Sure, he pays lip service to some liberal issues such as raising the minimum wage to a "livable" wage of $15 an hour. And he speaks of supporting public safety employees (fire and police), a more conservative issue, yet offers no ideas to fully fund and staff such departments.
But I assure you that the second place finisher, another city councilman, is much more of a true-believer liberal.
That is Jacque Robinson.
She is totally down with the $15 "living" wage scam. She is one of those that does not think we have a problem in staffing and compensation for public safety employees. And she is definitely anti-police. But worse is, like Mr. Tornek, she has a large role in the $6,400,000 embezzlement scandal that is gripping our city. If you are interested in comprehensive coverage, there are numerous stories about it here.
Make no mistake, Miss Robinson will definitely move Pasadena even further to the left.
Since I am extremely concerned about public safety, I think that Mr. Tornek will address the problem much more favorably than Miss Robinson.
And if one does not believe that there are problems with the police and fire departments, one should read this article as well as this article in the Pasadena Weekly. The Weekly is not exactly pro-police so if they are disturbed enough about things in the department as well as the fire department, one should take it seriously.
Like I said, there are issues that neither candidate will address that I think are important as a conservative. So it is a tough one for me. But in having conversations with neighbors and police personnel, public safety is the issue I will focus on like a laser beam and as such, I will end up voting for the lesser of two evils.
I will vote for Terry Tornek for mayor of Pasadena in the runoff election.
For conservatives, we have to narrow down to one major issue that can unite the community. We can't go on some esoteric approach and run campaigns that are guaranteed to be losing efforts. Since conservatives can get behind support for public safety, we have to find candidates that will offer strong support for the most important services a city must provide.
Another way to determine who to support is to go to the website of a candidate and see who endorses the candidate.
In the case of Miss Robinson, it is a veritable who's who of every left-wing group one can imagine. And to be honest, a lot of endorsements are from a lot of people and groups outside of the city. And it should be noted that while she does have union support, two unions not supporting are the police and fire unions.
Looking at Mr. Tornek's endorsements, it is clear that he is focusing on people within the city and not any particular group or party. To me, a good sign. It shows that Mr. Tornek is more focused on Pasadena and our unique issues.
And while at the website, see what issues a candidate wants to discuss their position on. For instance, Mr. Tornek addresses that there are new kinds of crime and wants to work with the police department to address those crimes. And while overall crime has gone down, there has been a very recent uptick in crime including shootings and murders. On the other hand, Miss Robinson looks at the police as glorified social workers rather than the last line of defense between reasonable order and anarchy. And Miss Robinson thinks that she is also on the local school board as she wants the city to partner with the public schools in a way that is frankly out of the purview of the city council.
Before any conservative or Republican says why does it matter, a liberal Democrat is going to win anyway, we have to recognize we will not be taken seriously if we do not engage in the process. Also, in California all elected officials are supposed to be non-partisan up to state assembly and further up the chain. Thus a winning candidate can be held accountable to issues of importance to conservatives/Republicans who participate by voting and or even volunteering for the candidate closest to what we stand for.
That is how a conservative and or Republican participates and votes in a liberal city.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Is President Obama A Christian? Yes, But . . .

Let me get this out of the way right now with the affirmation that the Dear Leader, President Obama, is a Christian as he has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; or if you prefer Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.
The reason I come to this conclusion is simple.
Not just because he says that he is. There is knowledge that indeed, then Messiah Barack, was baptized at Trinity United Church of Christ. He has spoken of his faith. He does use his understanding of Christianity to be the King Social Justice Warrior.
The latest reason I have to write this piece is that two Washington Post "reporters", Dan Balz and Robert Costa asked the now GOP 2016 presidential front-runner, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, if he believes that the Dear Leader, President Obama, is a Christian. Gov. Walker did the right thing and said that he does not know, nor does he care, if the Dear Leader, President Obama, is a Christian or not. In fact, Gov. Walker said that the question itself was not really all that worthy or important in terms of the political direction of the United States at this time.
But the Dear Leader's defenders thought that Gov. Walker's answer was weak because it was not a full-throated defense of his belief in Christianity.
Of course, they are wrong as those on the other side who have gone so far as to suggest that the Dear Leader, President Obama, is in fact an atheist.
It does not help the Dear Leader, President Obama, that his once trusted top political aide, David Axelrod, wrote in his recent book that the Dear Leader, President Obama, was really always for same-sex marriage and that, essentially, lied about it during the 2008 presidential campaign. Needless to say, there is this on the internets that show how far then Sen. Messiah Barack went to affirm traditional marriage. Of course those of us paying attention knew that it was kinda sorta, well a lie.
Running for the Illinois state senate in 1996, Messiah Barack was given a questionnaire by a left-wing newspaper, Outlines, that he was for same-sex marriage, "unequivocally". Follow this timeline here and one sees that he went all over the place on the subject. But it must be noted that he was for chipping away at government recognition of traditional marriage only. Had the Dear Leader, President Obama, not said on national and by extension international television, at Saddleback Church, to the face of Pastor Rick Warren that he was for traditional marriage, may these questions would not dog him and make many wonder is the Dear Leader, President Obama, a Christian.
Another area is the Dear Leader, President Obama, seemingly going out of his way to all but defend radical Islam. In these remarks before the National Prayer Breakfast, the Dear Leader, President Obama, seemed to try to draw an equivalence between the Crusades and the Islamic State. And his going out of his way to not make a reference to radical Islam or Islam as the leading force in international terrorism and indeed war.
Again, this does not mean the Dear Leader, President Obama, is not a Christian.
But I alluded to his brand of Christianity above.
It's Social Justice Warrior Christianity.
To me, it's no secret that the Dear Leader, President Obama, found his way to Trinity United Church of Christ and the "Rev." Jeremiah Wright. The "Rev." Wright was all about the social justice. Why he even believes and supports the concept of Black Liberation Theology. The "Rev." Wright is one of those that likes the Social Justice Warrior Jesus up against the deity of Christ. That Jesus Christ was sent to earth by God himself to bring all the world to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and thus with God and the Holy Ghost. What Trinity did was affirm what the Dear Leader, President Obama, was pursuing as a "community organizer" and that he could cite God himself as to why it was all good.
In fact, the United Church of Christ is the most liberal/modernist Mainline Protestant denomination around. Why the UCC makes The Episcopal Church look like a bunch of slow-moving right-wingers.
Social justice can be secular and religious. But the religious component is more of a earthly rather than a spiritual response as to what God supposedly wants in the world. And yes, some social justice is good and has already been done in history.
But understand that SJWC has a component of a more Unitarian approach to God. In fact, in The Episcopal Church, one of the "heroes" is an absolute heretic and, sadly, a former bishop by the name of John Shelby Spong. Why is Bishop Spong a heretic? Among some of what he believes is that there was no virgin birth of Jesus Christ. And no bodily resurrection. They are kinda some of the main beliefs of the Christian faith, no matter what denomination one belongs to. One can say that, essentially, Bishop Spong pretty much rejects the Nicene Creed, which is the statement of belief for most Christians. At best, Bishop Spong is a Unitarian. At worst, he reduces the Christian faith to being a glorified social service agency.
Again, when one understands the version of Christianity that the Dear Leader, President Obama, believes, it explains why he would go out of his way to defend Islam. To be for same-sex marriage. To see everything in terms of the haves and the have-nots. It is in some ways a celebration of victimology.
If one takes the time to understand SJWC, then one can understand where the Dear Leader, President Obama, is coming from. Why he commits self-flagellation that is so common among the SJWC. Why he easily takes up the side of the underdog.
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I consider myself a traditional, somewhat conservative Christian. Sure, I belong to The Episcopal Church, but there are many like myself that want to see the denomination move away from what I believe is destructive modernism.
I believe in the Nicene Creed as the simple statement of faith. Sure there were a lot of politics behind  a lot of the wording, but it has stood the test of time. I'm standard Protestant that there are two outward signs of being a Christian. Bapitsm and partaking of the Holy Communion. I believe that the Holy Bible (King James Version, of course) is the inspired word of God and necessary for all salvation.
That is the simple version of my faith in Christ.
Yet in my denomination, I might as well be a multi-horned fundamentalist.
Which is to show how far the Mainline Protestant denominations have strayed.
So yes, the Dear Leader, President Obama is a Christian. Just not a traditional Christian. Once people get that, one will understand his world view.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Prop. 14 Not Exactly Working Out Says . . .The Los Angeles Times?!

A few election cycles ago, the voters of California passed Proposition 14, which changed the primary elections statewide to a total open primary, regardless of party, and the top two go on the general election.
What Prop. 14 did was change how state and federal legislative districts were drawn and made a total open primary, regardless of party, in which the top two finishers go on to the general election. The first two also applies to federal senate elections It also includes elections for all the state constitutional offices starting with governor.
Add that to Proposition 11, passed by California voters in 2008, which took the redistricting of said lines from above and put it in the hands of an "independent" commission, and the so-called good government folks had their orgasm.
See, some folks are worried that people are just not voting in elections. Save for the presidential elections, voter turnout in California does not really break records. Except going the other way. So the same folks figured, lets see if taking redistricting out of the hands of the legislature. Get a group of non-partisan types and regular folks together and figure it out. And of course there is the terrible partisanship that goes on in Sacramento and Washington. Why let's get the parties out of the way and just have an open primary. Sure, we will put on the ballot what party each candidate belongs to. But it does not matter because it will be the top two. Period.
Without partisanship in the redrawing of lines and essentially the primaries, a slew of "moderates" would be nominated and win elections and harmony would reign in California.
I am now inserting the laugh track here.
According to this post over at HotAir.com, it appears that voters, those that even bother nowadays, are not all that happy with the current system we have in place.
But the biggest surprise is that in this past Sunday's Los Angeles Times, writer Mark Barabak wrote that Prop. 14 is not exactly working out as the proponents thought.
Shock of all shock!
Remember, all of this reform was to boost voter turnout because after all  there would be this wave of middle-of-the-roaders and all would be well once again.
Let's take a look at the last primary election last June. As I noted in this post shortly after the primary election, a grand total of 18%, yes you read that right, 18% of voters bothered to cast ballots. And it did not vastly improve in the November general election as 31% bothered to vote in that election.
Folks, that is not exactly a positive for a process that was supposed to improve everything in voting.
In the HotAir link, the "independent" reapportionment commission was essentially hijacked by, you guessed it, Democrat activists. The Democrats in California had been the primary drawers of all district lines for decades. They were not going to let a pesky little "independent" commission get in the way. Hell, they openly violated the rules and had people, including a Democrat hack from Idaho and lives in Sacramento to testify before the commission. As the saying goes, read the whole thing.
The reality is that the Democrats worked the new system like a Stradivarius while the Republicans, as usual, looked and acted DUH.
So, strong Democrat districts, a Democrat incumbent governor that built a huge war chest and enjoys, mystically, high approval/popularity ratings and a Republican party still trying just to pay off bills from the 2010 campaign and having no serious candidate for governor and you get . . .low turnout and an even more who cares type of electorate.
In regards to the open primary of Prop. 14, the reality is that there are really more partisan districts. There are more general election races that are between two Democrats or two Republicans. Many districts at all levels, state assembly, state senate, congress and the state constitutional offices have no primary or general election,opponent. The whole point, supposedly, was to get more moderate candidates eventually elected and that the two big parties would work together. The reality is that in heavy Democrat or Republican districts, the other side would not support a candidate in the top two not in their party.
Say, what about third parties?
Another reality that I think is the main thrust of Prop. 14 was it completely shuts out the minor parties recognized in California except in the Presidential election.
The American Independent, Greens, Libertarians, Natural Law, Peace and Freedom, will almost never ever finish in the top two. Thus eventually they will shrivel up and die and the voters will be stuck with twiddle dee and twiddle dum.
One thing that has not happened but very well might is in a high-profile race such as governor or senate, the two general election candidates could be from the same party. It could very well happen in 2016 in the race to replace Sen. Barbara Ma'am Boxer. Already the Democrat state attorney general, Kamala Harris, has announced her candidacy. It is expected that the former Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villar, aka Villaraigosa, will also run. Unless the Republicans can muster up a very, very credible candidate, that could be your two finalists for the general election.
Will more people really come out to vote for two candidates that are essentially the same but from different ethnic groups?
No, no and nope. Not. Gonna. Happen.
I had been against an open primary and am totally against this system. But I will concede that a semi-open primary would be a better alternative.
It was tried earlier and the Republicans did not open their primary to non-Republicans. It's time we did.
Let all political parties be represented and voters can go to the polls and vote in the party primary they choose. If Democrats want to vote in the GOP, fine. If Republicans want to vote in the Democrat primary, fine. If one wants to vote minor party, fine. And the winner in each primary goes to the general election. Thus minor parties are represented and the two big parties also will have more candidates and voter interest.
The "independent" commission in charge of drawing the lines must be willing to solicit information from all parties about the lines. They must be able to know what interest any person or group has regarding testifying before the commission. It must have multiples maps to vote on. It must weigh multiple factors including and especially legal factors. It must make the lines as least partisan as possible.
And one last thing.
All parties need to realize that if they want to have higher voter turnout, have compelling candidates. Candidates willing to go out of their comfort zones. Candidates willing to break free from the interests of their party. To say what they think and how they would govern.
I think that these are better ideas than the continuing reinventing the wheel.
When you lose the Los Angeles Times on election reform, you have to realize that so far, all reform has made it worse.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Can The Dear Leader Stop Lecturing Long Enough So We Can Fight The Radical Islamics?!

OK, I get the feeling that the Dear Leader, President Obama, does not really think we are in a long term struggle to defeat radical Islamics and or their allies.
The National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, pretty much said so this past Friday in a speech regarding long-term national security goals of the United States.
But it was the Dear Leader, President Obama, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast this past Thursday that rankles me and many who disagree about the most pressing long-term national security struggles of the United States.
In the speech, as he is wont to do, the Dear Leader, President Obama, found the need to remind the Christians assembled that hey, we did some pretty gnarly things in the name of Christ many a moon ago. And even in that portion of his remarks, the Dear Leader, President Obama, conveniently left out some pertinent facts to make the case that really, Christians are no better than the radical Islamic conflagration gripping the Middle East especially, but many other nations as well.
Here is the exact part of the speech that has many of us scratching our collective heads:

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

Where, oh where to begin?!
Of course he started where all moral equivalency advocates start and that is The Crusades.
The Crusades as bandied about these days never, ever, tells the whole story and reasons of The Crusades in the first place.
One of the most suppressed, yet important, reasons of The Crusades was to restore safety for European Christian pilgrims making their way to the Holy Land. The reason that pilgrims' safety was at risk is because of the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. By 1076, when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, travel to and from was extremely dangerous.
Thus in 1096, Pope Urban ordered what is now referred to as the First Crusade. By 1100, Jerusalem was in the hands of the Crusaders.
But of course it did not occur without bloodshed.
As this link notes, the monk, Fulcher, is the one that chronicled the bloodshed that occurred. Basically the Christian Crusaders killed anyone and everything that they could. The fact is that the Muslims are the ones that claimed upwards of 70,000 people were killed. Those that survived got the pleasure of taking the dead, rotting bodies out of the walls and gates of Jerusalem. As far as the Jews were concerned, they through their lot with the Muslims and fought along side of them to defend Jerusalem. Needless to say, when the Crusaders went on their blood lust, there was no difference to them regarding Jews and Muslims and anyone else.
Yes, there was a conquest and irrational bloodshed. This was a time where might was right. And once the Crusaders defeated the Jews and Muslims, they made the most of their might.
Again, most observant Christians know about this history. And yes, we are talking about 800 years ago.
Another aspect was the Inquisition that the Dear Leader, President Obama, made a very similar passing reference to.
Since he said inquisition with a broad brush, most people, Protestant and Roman Catholic, knew the reference is to the Spanish Inquisition.
No question that the Spanish Inquisition is the one of the numerous inquisitions that the Roman Catholic church had over the years. Looking at this link, it is clear that there were many others. But it is the Spanish Inquisition that was the most brutal and longest lasting.
If you note the timeline, the Spanish Inquisition began under the reign of Kind Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It was shortly after the Christian unification of the Spanish peninsula. Before that, Spain was an Islamic foothold in Western Europe. Not unlike the Crusades, this was a case of the might makes right gone off the rails. One difference between the Spanish and numerous other inquisitions of the day is that Spain and the monarchy totally controlled it. It was as much a political as well as spiritual set of actions.
One of the reasons for the eventual decline of the inquisitions is the rise of Protestant Christianity. Not to say that Prostestants did not have problems as well, but no where near the extent of the inquisitions.
So, in the short and very sorry attempt for the president to lecture us on the eeeeevvvvviiiiilllllsssss of historical Christianity but made it to Christianity in the United States.
Of course we were lectured as to the fact that many Christians supported and defended slavery and the Jim Crow laws.
Major face palm and headshaking.
What the Dear Leader, President Obama does not mention that in the two subjects he brought up, the church was at worst divided. What the president does not point out is those who would be referred to today as Evangelical Christians, were some of the most ardent abolitionists. The leader agaisnt the Jim Crow laws and the horrible indignities that black Americans suffered was a Christian minister by the name of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Christians have evolved from the Crusades. The Inquisitions. Slavery. Jim Crow. Really, we have. We are not perfect and can always do more.
So lets come to today, Monday, February 9, 2015.
The most brutal religious force in the world today is Radical Islam. It is the Wahhabi's of Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda. And the most awful of all, the Islamic State.
There nothing, not one thing in modern Christendom and or Judaism. In fact, one of the great debates in modern Christendom is the death penalty in general. Do we see that in any form of Islam?
What is happening in the Middle East especially has far reaching implications. No matter what our Lecturer In Chief says.
Say all of Iraq and Syria fall to the Islamic State. How long will Jordan last? Lebanon? The Arabian peninsula? And Northern Africa?
Even though we are told that the Islamic State and all Islamic terrorists are not all that worrisome, it is that attitude that led to 9/11. And yes, it was bipartisan inertia that pervaded.
Today there is not one bit of credible numbers as to the size of and the strength of the Islamic State. It is the most successful of all the groups because they have actual territory. They are setting up the paradisaical Islamic governance right before our eyes. They are scarring several generations of young people with it's meting out of "justice". And while they may be stalled in taking more territory now, they have no problem in throwing hundreds of thousands of fighters as little more than cannon fodder.
The game the Dear Leader, President Obama, is playing is that of moral equivalence.
In other words, look we Christians have not been all that great in our history. We have done some bad things. So now it's Islam's turn one supposes. But you know, the overwhelming number of Muslims just want to live in peace and be left alone. This is but a few at most. Maybe not even a percent of all the Muslims in the world. If we give them credibility, well we make them more than they are.
Actually, in poll after poll in the Muslim world, even among Muslims in the United States, the percentages of those that have at least sympathy with terror groups is much higher than a percent. Anywhere from 10 to 20%. Of course any poll can be skewed especially in the way questions are asked and in context. But it is almost constantly those numbers.
The reason the Dear Leader, President Obama's logic is flawed is because he has to go back really far in religious history to make the case that we should not get on our high horse about this radical Islam. Islamic radicals are running roughshod all over Northern Africa and especially Nigeria. It is so bad that the government recently announced that is has to postpone elections scheduled for this Saturday until next month. And yes, Christians in the Central African Republic have been committing atrocities. In reaction to Muslim atrocities. When there is a civil war and religion is one of the main reasons, there are going to be bad things that happen to the innocent people in the middle. The CAR violence is used by some modernist Christians as a moral equivalency. But there is not one here. It is simply a breakdown of law and order and religious groups have taken advantage of the situation.
What I would like to see our president, no my president, do is not lecture us about some events that happened eons ago. Most Americans know of the Christian atrocities. Most Christians today do not look to all Muslims as evil. We can really tell the difference between the radical extremists and the people just wanting to live in peace and practice their religion.
What I want to see the president have is  a basic blueprint as to how we are going to defeat the radical Islamics. And I want him to say the fateful words. Radical Islam. By not saying that and trying the lecture about historical Christian evils, it makes many Americans wonder more about whether or not all of Islam is some bad deal. And is that not what we want to avoid?
To be blunt Mr. President, you need to stop lecturing and start planning to defeat radical Islam. Period.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Unintended Consequences Of Minimum Wage Hikes In San Francisco

I saw this article from the local San Francisco ABC news and immediately chuckled for it proves a point that governmental hikes in the minimum wage has the consequence of driving small businesses out of business.
The result of a minimum wage hike, voted by the residents of San Francisco takes the current city minimum wage from $11.05c an hour to $15 an hour in 2018.
Of course when minimum wage proponents talk about the wonders of this, they often fail to point out that there will be some businesses that can not absorb such a hike, especially in a city such as San Francisco.
As I noted in a Facebook debate with my sister, who supports the wage hike, larger businesses will be able to, grudgingly, pay that minimum wage. And they will just simply pass the cost to the very people that are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the wage hike in the form of higher prices. One way or another, this proposal will hurt more people in the long run than help.
And here is where Borderlands bookstore comes in.
It is a small, independent bookstore. Again the kind of business that many of the minimum wage hikers claim to love. It has been essentially a money loser but did turn in a rip-roaring $3,000 profit for the whole of last year. According to store founder and owner Alan Beatts, that one-time profit will eventually turn into a $25,000 a year deficit. Something that is totally unsustainable for a one-man operation.
Of course it is not a one-man operation in total. Mr. Beatts has six employees. Who will be facing the unemployment line soon.
Some people, who do not believe that Mr. Beatts is being totally honest, think that it is more of a case of incompetency and or bad decisions on his part. That could be a possibility. But Mr. Beatts points out that even in the most difficult times, he and his workers were able to overcome almost everything by "working our asses off" as he said.
But he can't overcome, by force of law, even a gradual hike in the minimum wage. By May of this year, the city minimum wage will be $12.25c an hour.
Mr. Beatts explained that in his business, he can not raise the book prices because the prices of books are usually imprinted either on the inside of the book cover or on the book flap. It is possible to have a sale, but again Borderlands books is an independent bookstore and can't afford to have sale prices constantly. The overall change in the minimum wage would be a 39% hike in payroll. The total operating expenses would rise 18% according to Mr. Beatts. And to offset the two things, sales would have to increase 20%. Something that just is not going to happen.
Many cities, counties and states have hiked their minimum wages more than the federal mandate of $7.25c in recent years. Many very Democrat-dominated cities have rallied around the concept of the "living wage" and have done what San Francisco has done and deemed that $15 an hour is a "living wage".
Of course there is a problem with the idea of a "living wage".
It is by nature undefinable.
Let me give you an example where the market is actually dictating how pay works in a strong economy.
The state of North Dakota is in the middle of a huge economic boom due to oil and fracking. The many small towns that make up the state are growing very fast. There are not enough places like WalMart, McDonalds and many other retail establishments needed for the rise in population. Thus these very places are offering salaries starting at $17 or even higher. Thus even a worker in what is a minimum wage job someplace else is making a lot of money at such places throughout North Dakota. Of course there is the factor of whether or not people are going to want to move to a state in which winter is about nine months a year. Where temperatures often are -30 degrees below zero on a good day. There is also the fact that one needs a very reliable form of transportation for North Dakota is not exactly an urban landscape with strong, reliable mass transit. So of course the establishments I mention and others have to offer a high salary to get any kind of workers.
Urban areas are different and the thought is hey, jobs are much more plentiful and people can find more opportunity.
Another thought is what does the minimum wage mean? Is it something that most people are at? Or is it still traditionally young people, some retirees seeking extra income? Or is it an entry-level way to work one's way up a company? Or take the skill learned at such a job and go somewhere else for higher pay and or more opportunity?
Well, by and large it still is yes to all. But it is true that many of those who are still victims of the current economy find themselves having no choice but to take such jobs. Some are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. There is no doubt that because of that, it is squeezing out many of those who would be perfect minimum wage candidates. and justifying the push for a "living wage". No doubt people are making very difficult job choices because of a variety of factors.
But one thing a hike of the minimum wage takes away is incentive. Incentive to move up the ladder in a company. Incentive to learn new responsibilities. Even the incentive to work hard. It is especially hard to give people who are either in high school and or starting college a high starting salary for what will their expectations be later in life?
Alan Beatts says that he is for the the concept of a "living wage" in principal, and it could even be good for San Francisco, for his particular business, it just won't work. And he has to close the doors.
How many other San Francisco businesses like Borderlands books will face the same fate? The unintended consequences of a "living wage".