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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, April 29, 2013

COMMON KNOWEDGE: Watergate

"Suppose Watergate had not been uncovered? I'd still be on the City Desk."
-Bob Woodward

Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States is notorious in US history as being the only one to ever resign from office.  The scandal surrounding Nixon catapulted leftists into power in the Democratic Party, emboldened them in culture, and made "Watergate" a world-famous term.  From that point on, pundits have tacked "-gate" at the end of every political scandal, trying to relate the events to Nixon's decline.
Watergate was a sordid tale of a president working behind the scenes to destroy enemies and block their political power.  President Nixon's office, probably Nixon himself, told men working for him to put bugs in the Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, Washington DC.  The men bungled the job and someone spotted them, then the story began to leak out.  As time went on, the Nixon administration ordered men to lie to investigators and police, but the men caught planting bugs were being paid by money from the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
President Nixon had taped all conversations and dealings he had without knowledge of people involved and those tapes recorded more than he wanted people to know.  The president, or someone at his command, edited the tapes of all conversations in the Oval Office that were seized by subpena by the justice department, leaving gaps covering much of the events.  However, enough was discovered that  43 people were indicted, tried, convicted, and incarcerate, including men such as Attorney General John Mitchell, White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, and advisers Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, John Dean, and investigator G. Gordon Liddy.
The bulk of these convictions were based around the cover-up, attempting to shield the president from the break in and bugging attempts.  The break-in its self would have been very embarrassing for the president but was separated enough that he personally was unlikely to have been directly connected. Politically damaging, but not enough to depose President Nixon.
Facing impeachment and probable removal from office, President Nixon decided the country would be better off without the trial and the battle, and resigned from office, leaving Vice President Ford his successor.  President Ford soon pardoned President Nixon, stating it was better for the country to not go through any more legal proceedings against a president.
And behind it all, we're told it was the work of crusading journalists, primarily from the Washington Post, who took down President Nixon through meticulous reporting, defying the power base in government.  they faced official pressure, wiretaps on their phones, even death threats and feared for their lives, we ere told.  Woodward and Bernstein became reporter heroes, with books and movies praising their intrepid investigative journalism.  They won awards, and became classic examples in journalism school held up for students to emulate.
Woodward and Bernstein took down a president, that's the line.  President Nixon was forced to tell the truth and retire because of heroic Washington Post reporters who defied the odds, the pressure, and the establishment to find the story at all costs.  That's what we've been told, but is it true?
Not really.
Read more »

Friday, April 26, 2013

RIP GEORGE JONES

They put  a wreath upon his door

George Jones is a legend in country music for good reason, he was an amazing singer and songwriter and when he would do a cover of a song he made it better than before.  I know people think of country singers as hicks who sing through their nose, but George didn't just have an amazing voice, he had a huge range that he was more than willing to use to best effect to the song.
And his songs were pure country gold, about mama, losing love, hard luck, beer, and so on.  Each one had its own charm and rarely did he dip into the "play on words" easy country writing style - but when he did it always worked well.  Many of George's songs were sad, but always uplifting, and he sung them very well.
George Jones had a very wild youth, and you can read about his bio elsewhere, but eventually he turned his life around largely thanks to his loving wife (who he sang a duet with about their love).  Well, he's moved on now, but his song will last as long as people have music.  Tip of the Stetson to George, and thanks for all the music.  God be with his family in their loss.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

MISSES KOREA

"I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware."
-Joan Rivers

Well the Miss Korea beauty pageant is going on, and you might notice something about the contestants:
They look sort of, I don't know...
Suspiciously, like, cloned?
As in nearly identical?
Its kind of creepy in a way
Like they're aliens invading Korea
Duplicate maidens infiltrating the far east
The truth is, this is caused by the rampant plastic surgery in the country, and a specific facial style being determined as ideal.  So they all get the same sort of cut and end up looking like the same girl with different hair styles and dresses on.
The cutters involved are clearly very skilled at their work, and no wonder, given the amount of practice they get.  But it ends up with an unnervingly bizarre result in a pageant like this when you gather all these girls together in one place.  And eventually, the truth does come out:
Until those kids can go under the knife, that is.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NATURAL BLINDNESS

"Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and country resort to such violence?"
-President Obama

When anything happens in this world, humans always want to know why.  If it is a regular, common, and familiar event, we already know so we don't have to ask.  The spoon fell off the table because of gravity, my eyes watered because I was cutting an onion; we answer why the instant it happens.  But the question is always there, and with big, new, or shocking events the questions are often more difficult to answer.  And sometimes, we make them more difficult than they ought to be.
When two Chechens set off a series of bombs at the Boston Marathon, people began to wonder why on earth anyone could be so awful?  When you mix politics and ideology into the equation, it becomes even more complicated.  The legacy media and various pundits, desperate to avoid the most likely conclusion, stretched at any possible chance this could have been anything but a radical Muslim attack.  They pointed to the day (patriots day) and the location (Boston, Massachusetts) and suggested it must have been some right wing anti-tax protest.  They pontificated that usually these attacks are by right wingers (without a shred of logic or basis).  They even printed pictures like the one shown above from the Sidney Morning Herald, suggesting a tea party connection.
Well as I've written about before, they keep trying and trying to find a tea party monster and all they find are Occupy bombers and radical Muslims.  Still, its worth a shot, I suppose.  Eventually they might be right.  The problem is the target.  People do this kind of thing to make a statement, they don't just "want to watch the world burn," they want to do something symbolic.  The cost in lives and money is fairly low for that to be the only statement, so they pick a target that represents their anger.
And if it were an anti-tax maniac, they would have picked a government target, not random people on the street.  Even Obama's friend, unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers picked police as targets, not just a crowd of onlookers to a sporting event.  Muslim terrorists pick targets that represent their fury: the twin towers representing American riches, the pentagon representing American military might, etc.
Bombing a bunch of people watching a race fits this latter category better than other options, because there were women dressed immodestly (by radical Muslim standards) watching a race with men and women dressed improperly with lots of cameras on it and a cross section of American people.  Blowing them up would spread terror and a major reaction - perhaps even change policy, the purpose of terrorism to begin with.
So now we've found out that they were not angry tea party folks, the folks on the left are trying to figure out why on earth this took place.  They are tying themselves into knots trying to avoid the obvious, that this is a Muslim angry at America, and fit some other possible explanation in.  Remember the Ft Hood shootings?  The shooter explained quite well why he did it, he went into great detail before he shot anyone about what he wanted to do and why.  And yet the usual suspects talked about everything but the reasons he gave.
They could ask the surviving bomber himself.  He gave the usual reasons - moral corruption, American violence against Muslims, and bizarrely because Americans think Muslims are violent.  Yeah, that'll show them.  The question isn't that hard to answer, you just have to take them at their word.  In a way, the leftist folks were right about one thing: these were caucasians in the most literal sense - Chechnya is in the Caucasus Mountains.  Not the kind of caucasian they had in mind, but I'll give it to them.
In seeking solutions to this problem, pundits have begun offering their theories.  For example, Mario Cuomo suggested that this bombing, something he claims was unthinkable in the past, is the new normal, caused by the rapid change of society and of all things climate change.  He's a politician, not a scientist, so I guess I can forgive his ignorance on climate patterns (hint: no warming for over a decade).  But this is a truly strange attempt to explain the bombings away.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman took a similar tack, stating that we have to fix the economy and the best way to do that is levy a gigantic new carbon tax on the nation.  "We need to redouble our efforts to make America stronger and healthier so it remains a vibrant counterexample to whatever bigoted ideology may have gripped these young men," Friedman exclaims.
These attempts betray a certain worldview, an ideology that shapes their understanding of events and solutions.  When they ask why, their basic assumptions about life mold their answers, and in the process betray their ignorance about life.
Raised and trained in a worldview that rejects absolute ethical authority and truth, these men are unable to explain how bad people could do bad stuff on a moral basis, and so they cast about for whatever is out there that might possibly fill in the gap.  The fact that these choices are boutique issues for the left they hope can be shoehorned into the nation during a crisis - never let one go to waste, as Axelrod quipped - is no coincidence either.
People do bad stuff because people are basically bad.  Sure, we do good stuff too, but the general default position for humanity is selfish, mean, violent, and cruel.  We can be trained to keep it to ourselves and hide it well, but it never goes away.  Modern western civilization is not normal for humanity, we're not usually polite, law abiding, and tolerant; pluralism is rare and odd around the world and through history.
People have been blowing things up and killing others for all sorts of reasons for millennia; John Wesley Hardin shot a man for snoring in the 19th century.
Moral corruption causes people do do evil things, not climate change or societal shifts.  Islamic law and Muslim teachings prohibit killing non combatants and innocent people, this isn't command from Muhammad these idiots were following.  They were doing wicked things because they're basically bad people like all of us.  The evil we do comes from inside us, not from outside influences.  The influences shape how that evil takes form, but it isn't the genesis of our bad deeds.  We do bad things because we're bad people.  We only wonder at people doing bad things like bombing a marathon because we've convinced ourselves that humanity is basically decent and nice.
The problem is that for the naturalist, they have convinced themselves that all existence consists merely of what can be measured, sensed, and tested with science.  You can't measure morality, you can't sense truth, and you cannot test righteousness with a Bunsen burner and a test tube.  So they must not exist, or if they do, they're just constructs we invented, not something we must all universally recognize and heed.
Yet modern western civilization has gone out of its way to avoid that fact, and has built a Jenga stack of mythology around the decency of man, our ability to fix ourselves and rid the world of bad, and a utopia that would result if only we followed certain leftist ideology.  Friedman's idea that being extra PC and tolerant will shame bad guys into not doing bad things isn't just ridiculously childish, its suicidal.
As Richard Fernandez writes at the Belmont Club:
So did we provoke Islamism?  Perhaps “we” did. But who is the we? Fewer still notice that Islamists focus their attacks on the cultural flagships of the Left. New York, Boston, London, women’s schools in Afghanistan, gay politicians in the Netherlands, apostate black women in Europe, and even pacifists who make their pilgrimage to the Middle East to bear witness to their own invincible idealism.

The Tsarnaevs were showered with a huge amount of things. And did they like it? No they hated it. Hated the whole idea of the dirty, degenerate, corrupt West. They hated the idea and took the goodies without a thought.  Despite this the mainstream culture is set to respond to their attack with more things.  More drones, detectors, armored vehicles, barriers, restrictions, weapons, armor ….  more items the list of which goes on and on. But omitted from the catalog of responses will be any campaign to mentally engage radical Islam — to debate against it, denounce it or render it uncool — because that would be bigoted.
Mayor Bloomberg's reaction is that we have to start abandoning those old ideas of liberty and change the constitution to deal with modern realities.  That stuff keeps getting in the way of his solutions to the pressing problems of the world like too much sugar and unsaturated fats in our food. And of course, we keep learning that these Muslim terrorists have been living off the generosity and money of the countries they attack, from Spain to England to the US.
 The reaction of the left, no matter what horrors result from their policies or in response to them, is to have more leftist ideology in place.  Its never time to back off and reconsider, its never time to reverse course or change your path, its always time to speed up.  Because if you really paid attention to what was going on, why these attacks happened, you might notice a pattern of events, an escalation of terror attacks in the US since President Obama took office.  And that's counter to the "take advantage of a crisis" tactic used to push for more leftist schemes.
It is sad to watch the reaction of these guys to the tragedy in Boston.  Those dead people and all the wounded, terrified, and shocked runners and spectators aren't helped by avoiding the truth.  All they are is another "speedbump" on the road to serfdom. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

STEALTH SUGAR

"Oh a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down!"
-Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins

One of the repeated comments I hear or read from visitors to the United States is how sweet all the food is.  They're baffled by the amount of sugar that's added to food and wonder why.  Then, they tend to connect that to the myth that Americans are unusually overweight, for whatever reason.
Americans do eat an awful lot of sugar; the average intake of sugar for an American is 22.2 tsp. of sugar daily, or about 355 calories.  That translates to roughly 77 pounds of sugar a year per person, which is quite a bit.  The problem is its very difficult to avoid this, even if you personally reduce the sugar you add to foods.
There's a great deal of hysteria and misinformation about sugar and its affects on people, how much people eat (the estimates are absurd if you look around, to hundreds of pounds a year in America, etc), and especially about corn syrup, which is no more problem than cane sugar or other types to eat.  But there are other concerns about all this added sugar.
Sugar is packed into all kinds of prepared foods and supplies, and is very difficult to avoid.  As I've noted int he past, I've got a problem with sugar - Sugar Sensitivity, they call it - which makes matters even worse.  People with dietary problems involving sugar fight a constant battle to avoid sweets, such as those with diabetes.  This difficulty is made worse by manufacturers packing sugar into all kinds of foods.
Most food with sugar is easy to spot.  Sweetened drinks such as Coke or Mtn Dew are plainly sweet.  Donuts, pastries, cookies, and so on are obviously sugared, and you expect them to be.  They wouldn't be right without sugar, and those are easy to spot and avoid - in theory at least.
Other foods are a bit less obvious.  I searched around for lists of foods that have a surprising amount or not an obvious amount of sugar in them, and the lists were a bit odd.  They acted as if it was shocking that foods such as honey, pudding, fruit juice, and barbecue sauce had sugar in them.  Its like they haven't cooked in their lives and have no clue how these things are made.  How could you not know honey is sweet?
However there are foods which have sugar slipped in which you might not have thought about or noticed.  Peanut butter, for instance, has sugar added unless you get the very plain raw kind that's just peanuts, salt, and oil.  This is the kind that separates and has to be mixed, and is very basic.  I prefer it, but most people associate peanut butter with sugar, such as brands like Jif.
Manufacturers slip this stuff into all sorts of other foods, most of which you probably haven't even noticed.  Many frozen entrees, even "diet" ones have sugar added, or sweet portions.  Some canned soup has sugar in it, often canned vegetables do.  Even some crackers have sugar in them.  Do you like Wheat Thins?  Pretty good - and sugary.
Sugar is put into almost all salad dressings, even ones that are supposed to be tangy like Italian, or diet.  Almost all "low fat" foods have sugar added to them, I suppose to make up for their lack of other flavor.  The list gets even weirder, the more you look.  Tomato sauce often has sugar added, presumably to counter the acidity of tomatos and other ingredients.  Mayonnaise is almost impossible to find without sugar, and there's no earthly reason to have any in it.  I know Ketchup wouldn't taste very good without sugar, but Mayo?  Really?  Almost all bottled spaghetti sauce has sugar, and even a lot of bread does.  Some bread is so sweet it tastes like cake.
And then there's medicine.  Most cold medicines, including all cough drops or throat lozenges, have sugar in them.  Many kinds of vitamins have sugar coatings or sugary builds (when chewable).  Lately Wal*Mart has started putting a sugary coating on their brand x medicine, such as Wal-Zan.
This is incredibly frustrating for someone in my position because I have to read the label of nearly everything I buy and eat just to avoid the sweets added in.  Its like they are trying to make me ill, a ninja working to slip a little trace of poison into everything.
There's no reason for 99% of the sugar added, its just thrown in there to make things slightly sweeter, which most people respond positively to.  I've done without much sugar for a long time now, and I can taste it almost immediately in many cases.  Its so frustrating, I have to be careful enough how many breads and starches I eat without having to ration my mayonnaise intake. 
People simply don't notice or think about it, and why should they?  Its not their problem and they are fine with the sugar added to foods.  But it means I have to pick through food like a bird looking for a specific seed and that's uncomfortable for the host and embarrassing for me.
Eating out at a restaurant is enough of an adventure for people with lactose intolerance or other food allergies without putting sugar into food that doesn't need it.  We could really scale back on the sugar in our foods, America.  Europeans are right about this.

Friday, April 12, 2013

URBAN COUNTRY

"Racism still exists and has continue to effect a large population of the country. White privilege and advantages in society are very real."

It was the theme song to the TV show Justified that got me thinking about something.  Justified is set in rural Kentucky, in Harlan county.  Its a very country show with poor white folks, hill folk, southern blacks, and its as authentic as sweet tea and pulled pork.
The writers at Justified do a good job at showing southerners not as stereotypes or worthless hicks, but as complex, interesting characters in their own right.  Harlan County is a poor place that has lost most of its main industry (coal mining) and is wracked with meth and troubles, but the people there are making their way through life the best way they can.
But the theme song is not some hills music, no country or bluegrass like you'd expect.  No, the producers went with a song by the New York City group Gangstergrass and it tries to combine urban hip hop with bluegrass themes.  Called "Long Hard Times to Come," it has a good feel for the themes of hill music, but it is basically urban, featuring rapper T.O.N.E-z.
Now, from a commercial point of view, I guess I can sort of understand the thinking behind this.  If they put some Stanley brothers or Bill Monroe on the title track, people might get too much of a Hee Haw vibe and think its just too corn pone for them.  The problem is its jarringly out of place for the show in my opinion and feels wrong every time I hear it.
I hadn't really put much thought into why, so the feeling sat in the back of my soul for a while until something else came up. Recently country pop singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool-J combined for a song about racism and the south called "Accidental Racist" which is getting a lot of attention lately.  There have for a while been attempts to combine rap and urban hip hop and usually its pretty comical or odd.  This song didn't succeed at any level for me, but I suppose some might like it.  "Accidental Racist" didn't try to make an urban country song, its just standard Brad Paisley pop country stuff, but it brought the concept to the forefront of my mind.
The problem I have is explained very well in the names for the two types of music: urban and country.  Urban is city, the music of the inner city and heavy population centers, the soundtrack for taxis, tall buildings, subways, and city streets.  The songs deal with the topics of the city like theft, poverty, dangers of gangs, trying to make your way through a heartless concrete jungle, and so on.
Country is the wilds, the rural areas.  Country is the music for fields and forests and mountain shacks, the cowboy, the picker, the hunter, and the fisherman.  These songs deal with dirt roads and porch swings, cookouts, beer, and railroads.  They cover broken hearts and patriotism and fears of the future as the world changes while loving the past.
Urban and Country don't mix.  Its not that you can't make some interesting, odd stuff with a crossover, like Classical and Heavy Metal for example. Its just that people feel this compulsion to jam "urban" into every single setting in culture and politics.  The presumption in the United States is that urban is superior and should be everywhere, dominate all culture, and dictate behavior and morality in all parts of the nation.  This isn't a stated or even deliberate effort, in my opinion, rather people simply presume it and live their lives that way in terms of policy, entertainment, and education.
In a way, "Accidental Racist" hit a good tone by trying to establish that southern boys aren't horrid bigots living to lynch another black guy but guys with a past and a history they appreciate even if they don't quite always realize how it comes across to others.
To a small town kid from Arkansas, the confederate flag is just a symbol of southern pride and solidarity with his past.  To a kid from Compton, its a symbol of racism and lynchings.  Paisley's song tries to reach across that divide and make sense of both sides.
The problem is, Paisley's effort is doomed to failure, because the entire culture he's working in is totally against him and his southern persona.  It isn't just assumed, it is absolute certainty to these people that the confederate flag is a racist icon of horrible evil.  Anyone who disagrees isn't mistaken or just another viewpoint (a consideration they would apply to anyone outside America), but an evil force of horrific evil one torch away from a burning cross.
And that's what bothers me with the "urban country" thing.  Its standard in our culture for hip hop and urban themes to be celebrated, from baggy pants to ho's and bitches in the lyrics.  It doesn't matter how awful, racist, violent, and offensive the music is, that's just a voice of the inner city frustration and anger - well deserved, they argue - against white privilege.
But white people who love their whiteness and heritage are condemned as inbred cretinous hicks.  Country music is reviled, it wasn't even counted by record stores for sales until a change to using the UPC scanner forced them to.  Country music is stupid, lame, weird, and wrong.  Whiteness is something to be ashamed of.  White culture needs to change, give up its identity.
That just strikes me as insane.  Mexicans are encouraged to keep their ethnic identity.  Asians are told the same.  Blacks are celebrated for wearing African colors and items even though they haven't been to Africa for 8 generations.  But white people must not celebrate their culture because its so lame, at best, and so evil and horrid to many cultural conductors.
In fact, if someone brings up white pride, they're instantly identified as a white supremacist, a racist monster eager to murder or ship all non-whites off the country.  The image of white pride is associated with survivalist freaks with swastika tattoos and a shrine to Hitler in their garage.  No comment here on how black supremacism is at worst ignored by the press.
But being happy about your heritage, liking things in your life, and not being ashamed at your ethnic background isn't racist.  Its just being who you are without needing to conform to a pattern dictated by pointy headed academics and race hustlers.  Its just as ok for a white guy to be glad and proud he's white as a Vietnamese to be that way about his heritage.  Its as fine for me to like Hillbilly music and cowboys as it is for a Mexican to like bullfights and Mariachi music.  What's wrong is condemning one while embracing the other based not on behavior or logic but a political system.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians -- whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor shall they grieve
-The Koran


If you ask the average American Christian these days about Islam, you'll get a pretty negative view.  Terrorism, hacking heads off, women forced to wear shapeless bags etc will come up.  And if you look at Islamic protests, you'll see a pretty negative view of Christianity, with signs like "Jesus is the slave of Allah."
The thing is, these two faiths have more in common and should be more brethren in facing a hostile and atheistic culture.  Its not that they don't have real problems - there really are Islamic terrorists and there are Christian clinic bombers - its that the main faith of each religion as taught by their scriptures have a lot in common.
Both believe in an absolute authority who created heaven and earth, and who is the source of all life, law, and truth.  Both believe in one God (although Christians believe this one God is three in persons, a trinity).  Both believe that this one God hates evil and sin and is coming in judgment against the wickedness of mankind.  Both believe we must repent and believe to be saved from this coming judgment.  Both believe in hell, both honor and trust the Old and New Testaments, and both view Jesus Christ as the messiah and a prophet.
Islam and Christianity both call for charity, modesty, and virtue.  Both Islam and Christianity are shocked and horrified by the culture that the west is steeped in, condemning immorality around them.  Both would like to see a more modest, virtuous world characterized by honoring God and truth.
Both believe that Jesus Christ is coming again, soon.  Both believe in angels and demons and other supernatural reality beyond that which we can understand with our senses and scientific measurement.  In the fight against an increasingly antagonistic culture, we have a lot in common.  When Islam condemns women behaving like sluts and men like scum, Christians have to agree.  When Christianity condemns homosexual "marriage," Muslims have to agree.
There are a lot of differences in the two faiths as well, but when it comes to acting out your faith in the world, there are an awful lot of things in common.  Islam tends to be more militant and Christianity more peaceful - at least in theory and according to doctrine - but the end result of each faith being dominant would be very similar: a God fearing world with a culture characterized by concern over what is right according to scripture and less by concern over what makes me happy and comfortable.
Christians do not want to conquer the world and submit the entire population to their faith, the Bible does not call for this in any remotest sense.  But we'd all love to see the world saved and kneel in love and honor before God.  Muslims are called to conquer the whole world and see it submit to Allah, but they do so for the same reason Christians want everyone to be saved: because they'd be better off.
See, its not that Islam is primarily driven by a need for power and domination, but by a fear and respect for Allah, a desire for the whole world to do what Allah says.  Similarly, Christianity is not driven by a need to command behavior and dominate, but by a desire for everyone to do what is right, avoid evil, and love the Lord Jesus Christ.  Its like wanting your son to stop using heroin or your dad to stop sleeping around on your mom: they might think its great, but its horrible and they'd be a lot better off not doing it any more.
That's why I have a problem with the hatred some Christians and some Muslims show toward each other.  Yes, we have disagreements and clashes in ideology (and methods, sometimes).  But in the end, we're more allies than enemies, and the hate has to stop.  Muslims need to stop rioting and killing Christians.  Christians need to stop calling for Mecca to be nuked.  And we need to all pray that we better honor and follow God and His word than our own fears, hatreds, and anger.
*UPDATE: A final thought.  Why did I write this?  I am not trying to reach out to any Muslims, I doubt any even read my blog.  I suppose I just find myself agreeing far too often with Muslim condemnation of the west's corruption, lack of modesty, oversexualization, and general slide into sin.  When some Imam yells that women act like whores in the west, he's all too often right.  When some angry Muslim holds up a sign that says the west is a pit of wickedness, its hard to argue he's completely off base.
I mean, when I see some Muslim strap a bomb onto himself and blow up a schoolbus, or some Christian shoots an abortion doctor I can't help but think that's an act of evil.  But at the same time his condemnation of how the west acts isn't entirely without basis, either.  President Obama got it right when he said America isn't a Christian nation.  It just isn't.  Christians have virtually no influence at all on culture or the country's policy any longer.
When someone like Pat Robertson says that 9/11 happened because of gay marriage and abortion (actually he didn't say that at all, he simply noted that any nation which has these two evils is due for some punishment), I can't agree... but I do agree that there's an awful lot wrong with the west, and that wrong is getting more bold and outrageous.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

REAL MEN COOK 26: Cole Slaw

"We forgot the coleslaw"
-Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H

Some food is so simple and tasty to make that I cannot understand why people buy it.  Purchasing egg nog, for instance, is akin to buying pre-toasted bread.  Cole Slaw is another of these easy foods people buy, and there's another problem with most cole slaw: its made wrong.
Cole Slaw is one of the staples for cook outs, picnics, potlucks, and so on that can be made.  Its tasty, pretty good for you, stores well, and is liked by most people.  And its very easy to make.  The problem I have with slaw in most restaurants is that they make it sweet, which is just wrong.  I understand why; they're trying to counter the bitterness that cabbage can have, but it just isn't necessary.
To make good slaw, you  need a good basic dressing, which you can find in my article on salad dressings back in Real Men Cook 12.  I'll repeat the basic ranch dressing recipe here for convenience:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk
pinch salt
3 shakes of pepper

That's the base, and with it you can build many varieties as I noted in RMC12.  So on to the slaw.
Take a head of green cabbage, and decide how much slaw you want.  Half a head is good enough for a family and a day or two of leftovers in most cases.   Take the amount you desire cut it into small chunks, about an inch square. Toss as many chunks as your blender can fit, minus about an inch of space at the top.  Pour in water until the cabbage is covered and floats.
Now, use the setting on your blender that runs as long as you hold the button down and give it one-second pulses, and peek at the cabbage through the side.  You know what cole slaw looks like, so you're looking for the cabbage to be chopped into pieces about that big.  Pulse it until you get what you want, then drain the cole slaw in a strainer.  This will give you the classic little squares like confetti.
Now, note, you can do this by hand but its going to take longer and be a lot of work.  You can even use a grater, but its a bit of a pain with leaves like cabbage has.  This is the best way to get the more fancy strips of cole slaw that some prefer, though.
Once the cole slaw has fully drained, dump it into a sealable container you can fit it all in.  Start spooning in ranch dressing, one at a time, and mix it up.  It doesn't take a large amount of dressing to cover the whole batch, but the amount needed is going to vary by the thickness of the cabbage and how much you used.  Once you get a good coating on the cabbage and its all pretty moist, close it up and store it.  Cole Slaw is best if it marinates a day or so, but it can be eaten right away.
You can put variants in your cole slaw, such as red cabbage, carrot bits, celery, even celery seeds.  Since this is a salad you can get pretty creative and not ruin the recipe, just don't add too much sweet stuff or it not only ruins the flavor, it causes problems for people with diabetes and so on, and you want to be a good host.
That's it.  Dressing+blended cabbage, salt to taste - it will take a fair amount.  You're looking at about 10 minutes of effort to make, then some cleanup.  This cole slaw will be very welcome at your next gathering, perhaps along with some deviled eggs or mistral salad.  Enjoy!
*This is part of the Real Men Cook series.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

THE HUMAN COST

"Its just a lump of nonviable parasitic tissue"

Something that is rarely considered in the arguments over abortion is the human cost.  I don't mean the lives of helpless, innocent children in this context, but the totals that add up over time.  The website for Movement for a Better America has a few stats to consider.
For example, in the 104 years between 1864 and 1968, an estimated 4,946 blacks were lynched in the United States.  Meanwhile, in the 38 years since Roe vs Wade was ruled on in 1973 and 2011, an estimated 17,653,000 black babies were aborted.  That's a ratio of 3,569:1.  The lynchings were horrible, but this mass slaughter of babies is inconceivable.  Blacks in America are facing nearly genocide before they even can be born.
But there's a different kind of cost.  Each human being born in America is part of the nation's economic power.  On average, over the lifespan of an American citizen, they are worth an estimated $25,000,000 of Gross Domestic Product.  This is found by examining the productivity, earning power, and spending of each citizen over their whole life span (including the amount spent on them by family before they can work).  That means every baby killed by abortion costs the nation $25 million in economic productivity.
To date, almost 55,000,000 people have been put to death before they were even born.  Adding up that potential productivity in today's dollars and you get a total of $43 trillion dollars deleted from the economy.
And there's more.  The cost on women who abort babies is very dire indeed.  Having spoken to many women who aborted a baby I can assure you that many remember and mourn their children.  The suicide rate of women who abort their babies is almost 5 times as high as women who deliver the baby.  That's certainly skewed by other factors such as what led them to kill their own baby to begin with, but the fact is, its very hard on women to do so.
Then there's the breast cancer issue.  This one is pretty well swept under the rug, but there seems to be a very strong correlation between abortion and breast cancer.  The incidence of breast cancer for women who abort their first baby is double the average women who do not.  And if a woman has two or more abortions, that risk goes up to triple.  Women under the age of 18 who abort a baby have 2.5 times the chance of breast cancer than the average woman who has not.
Of course, there's just the flat statistics of death, the grim calculus of a society that blithely kills babies for convenience and comfort.
 Per day, an average of 28 people are murdered by various means in America, by the legal definition.  However, per day, an average 3,425 babies are killed by abortion, but its not defined as murder legally.  In fact, with all the controversy over guns, 122 babies are killed by abortion for every 1 killed by a handgun.
Along the same lines, in the holocaust just over 8 million people were murdered.  In the time since 9/11 alone in America, almost 13 million babies were put to death.
In fact, when you combine the population of the 72 largest cities they total less than the number of babies rubbed out by abortion (54,899,885 vs 54,900,000).  Abortion is slaughtering far more people than war:
Number of U.S. battle deaths in the 8-year American Revolution:
4,435
Number of dead in the 9/11 attack:
2,996
Number of U.S. battle deaths in 9-year Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973:
47,369
Deaths by various other wars:
  • War of 1812 - 20,000 (22 per day)
  • Civil War - 625,000 (427 per day)
  • World War I - 116,516 (202 per day)
  • World War II - 405,399 (300 per day)
  • Korean War - 36,516 (92 per day)
  • Desert Storm - 258 (6 per day)
  • War on Terror - 6518 (2 per day)
Number of babies aborted per day in the United States:
3,425
Again, the total of deaths just in the US, just since Roe v Wade:
54,900,000
There are only 315 million people in America, according to the census bureau.  And over the last few decades, we've deliberately killed a number equal to about a sixth of that total population.  But its not murder, according to the courts.  Its just a "choice."  Almost 24% of all pregnancies worldwide die in abortions. If anyone really thinks that there is no cost to that, no price to be paid, you need to think again.
And I can't help but sit and wonder what I should be doing right now, what I should be doing to stop this horror in my own nation.  I feel so helpless watching it go on around me, knowing how evil it all is, but what can I do?  Some go insane and try to kill to stop it, but how is that better than the ones who kill babies for their cause?  Some picket and protest, but what does that help except to feel superior and important?  I pray, I support the effort to stop this, I vote, but in the end, is that really enough?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

HATING HATERS FOR HATE IN A HATEFUL WAY

"Be gone, Tim Tebow. I'm done with you. "

I'm not a football fan.  I'll watch a game with friends on occasion, but the game its self is fairly dull to me.  I understand what's going on just fine, its just not very interesting to me.  As a result, the stars and personalities of the game aren't very interesting to me either, like Tim Tebow.
Tebow is a fair talent, and a matter of considerable controversy both as an athlete and in his personal life.  Although the only cause for the argument is Tebow's open and unashamed faith, that's been enough for some people to despise him and others to become deeply loyal fans. He seems a tolerably good quarterback, although others suggest he'd be better off in a different position.
But Tim Tebow's unapolagetic Christianity seems to drive some people crazy.  Take, for example a recent piece that ran on CBS sports by Gregg Doyel:
Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.

Tebow has agreed to speak at a hateful Baptist preacher's church, an evangelical cretin named Robert Jeffress who does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kan., does the work of the Lord.

Jeffress isn't as bad as Westboro. He doesn't send his flock to funerals of U.S. soldiers and have his sheep yell awful things like, "God hates fags." But he comes close. Too close. He believes, he has said, "It's a fact that [AIDS is] a gay disease so there's a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military."

Jeffress is a bad guy. He says Jews and homosexuals are going to hell. He says the Catholic church is a satanic cult. He says Islam "is a religion that promotes pedophilia -- sex with children."

Mormons? They're going to hell, too, but Jeffress was willing to overlook that and promote Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election because Obama, Jeffress said, "is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist."
There's more along the same lines, with greater and greater intensity and fury, ending with the foot stamping quote at the top.  The entire piece is a combination of condemnation for intolerance and what he defines as hate... with his intolerant hate for those he disagrees with - at least, the way he defines it.
The fact is, the Bible teaches that we're all going to hell, unless saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.  That means Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, non Muslims, homosexuals, heterosexuals... everyone. Unless saved, we're all headed the same place.  That's how it is, in the Bible.  There's no singling out people by groups, and I doubt Pastor Jeffress does.  Trying to compare him to the Westboro Baptist Church is hysterical slander by a man who seems like he has a personal vested interest in the debate.
The reason some groups get brought up is that they're being presented as fine, normal, even positive members of society, and it is a pastor's job to condemn sin and to call for repentance.
There's a major difference between calling for someone to repent rather than face hell and hatred toward someone.  The problem is these days, telling the truth about certain groups or people is cause for hate toward them.
Jeffress is a pastor whose sermons and writings available online seem to portray a man more concerned about saving the lost and reaching out to the weak than hate, but I suppose that doesn't really matter to someone like Doyel.  He says the wrong things about the wrong topics, politically speaking, and that simply negates every single other aspect of a human being.  Its how witch trials happened; blind, unreasoning fear and hatred that negates every other piece of evidence and logic.
These days it seems like you can't simply disagree with people, you have to shove them into a devil suit and scream hate at them until they run away or you go hoarse.  You can't simply part ways or have topics you don't see eye to eye on, you have to burn them in effigy and hate them with every fiber of your being.  Its sad to see that happen, but it does all too often.
Mr Doyel and I might be friendly enough on other topics, we probably both like Baseball and other things.  We would find common ground most likely and the man seems successful as a writer, which is better than I've been able to do.  But its clear if he learned what I believe about Jesus, the Bible, and life, he's go off on me the same way and decide I was anathema, someone he'd call for burning at a stake a few hundred years back.
Its just so odd to me to see someone fire off such a spittle-flecked diatribe so steeped in hate and rage with the thesis that someone who hates need to be condemned.  Mr Doyel seems like a fellow who could benefit from looking at a mirror.