4.30.2009

Edmund Burke on Secession, Tea Parties, Obama, and the ACLU

It was pointed out by a commenter yesterday that many of my recent postings have revolved around hotness, both actual and alleged. Because I read each comment and reflect and sometimes respond accordingly, I checked my recent titles. Three of the last eleven did indeed use the word "hot" in the headline.

Game, set, match, Mr. Commenter.

I would say that you can never get too much hotness, except that I actually think you can. (Proof.) I believe I've fulfilled my quota for a while, so I'll share with you excerpts from my nightly readings, which are always philosophical, political, or spiritual in nature and almost never include the word "hot."

I came across last night's reading yesterday, as I was perusing a junk antique store. Tucked into the far corner of the little shop: English Men of Letter: Burke. (A series by John Morley). Being a sucker for all things old and all things Burke (I kid you not, I'm wearing a t-shirt with a Burke quote emblazoned across the back as I type this), I purchased it. The book is a 1909 edition and has markings and notes throughout left by the previous owner in the most beautiful script. (I almost felt I should apologize to the book as it now has an owner that would lose a penmanship contest to a four-year-old.)

As with all of the truly great writers, Burke's thoughts trascend the era in which they were written, remaining applicable in the era in which they are read. (In other words, blogs do not a great writer make. Reason number #671 why I should spend less time writing blog and more time writing, uh, something else.)

Below, I highlight some of his best quotes against current cultural and political issues of our day.
1) "The revolutions that come to pass in great states are not the result of chance, nor of popular caprice ... It is never from a passion for attack that it rebels, but from impatience of suffering."
One has to wonder if the recent talk that Texas may secede from the Union stems from such an impatience. (If you haven't heard much on the subject, check out Ron Paul's video on the issue in which he says secession is "very American.")
2) No men could act with effect who did not act in concert; that no men could act in concert, who did not act with confidence; and that no men could act with confidence, who were not bound together by common opinions, common affections, and common interests."
Acting in concert, with confidence, common interests and opinions? I think he means Tea Parties!
3) "Revolutionary politics have one of their sources in the idea that societies are capable of infinite and immediate modifications, without reference to the deep-rooted conditions that have worked themselves into every part of the social structure."

"Infinite and immediate modifications." Does that ring a "hope and change" bell with anyone? Those two things may be a worthy goal, but unless Obama takes a long and careful look into the principles that have resulted in our current societal status, for better and for worse, what we end up changing to may be much worse than what we end up changing from.

This next one may be a little inflammatory, but if you feel the need to resort to the commenting section to air your frustrations, please refer to Burke's blog, as these are his words not mine:
3) "The most horrid and cruel blow that can be offered to civil society is through atheism . . . The infidels are outlaws of the constitution, not of this country, but of the human race. They are never, never to be supported, never to be tolerated. Under the systematic attacks of these people, I see some of the props of good government already beginning to fail; I see propagated principles which will not leave to religion ever a toleration."
Mmm, can we say ACLU, much? I can't be the only one that had those four (horrible) letters flash through my head upon reading that final phrase.

And, so you don't feel that the last 2.7 minutes of your life have been squandered, let me affirm you with one final quote from the man himself:

"Reading, and much reading, is good. But the power of diversifying the matter infinitely in your own mind, and of applying it to every occasion that arises, is far better; so don't suppress the vivida vis." (read: 'lively power of the mind and body')
In closing, I would like to say simply that reading is hot, and Edmund Burke is, too.

4.29.2009

Why Conservative Women Are Hotter

Before we can answer why they're hotter, we should probably first establish if they're hotter.

Fortunately, Catholic blogger Matthew Archbold has already done that for me. (Thanks to Pundit and Pundette for putting me on to this with her post, "Hotness Gap")

Archbold writes:

"I mean it's been great all these years telling the libs that we're more moral than them but when we drop on them that we're hotter, that'll hit them where it hurts. Oh yeah."
Even more telling is this:

"When I was a young atheist idiot liberal I always thought conservative women were just prettier and more self confident but I think the idea has now gained a national and undeniable prominence."
"Prettier" or not, what makes a conservative woman hotter isn't her looks it's her gumption.

By necessity, a conservative woman must do the legwork to establish the ideological foundations of her political philosophy. She can't sit idly by like the liberal girls and be taught indoctrinated from grade school through college about the merits of liberal thought.

Too, there's no question that conservatives have been playing defense in the culture war for quite some. A conservative woman has to fight to hold her ground, rather than merely latch on to the coattails of the currently in-vogue political views.

Having to defend your political ideology against the prevailing will of popular opinion may make you an underdog, but it makes you a fighter. And, that's hot.

Obviously, not all conservative chicks are feisty with sound evidence and reasoning for their political persuasions, and not all liberal ladies are spineless and unable to support their political beliefs. I'm generalizing here.

But I've known plenty of women on both sides of the political spectrum and have found that the conservative ones are often able to express the canons of their political persuasion better than their liberal counterparts. Not because they are more intelligent, per se, but because they have not been able to piggyback on the ideas of their professors, the media, and culture at large.

Knowing what you believe and why and holding to it with conviction despite the consquences (see Carrie Prejean as Exhibit A) is hot no matter who you are, conservative or liberal. That's the self-confidence that Archbold was talking about.

Of course, that fact that we're right (as commenter Smitty says our views are formed from "fundamental existential truths") doesn't hurt our hotness factor either.

Update: It's not just conservative women who are hotter.

4.28.2009

Not All Republicans Are Cool

At least according to Eric Ulrich. He is one of only three Republicans serving on the City Council in Queens, New York. He is also a douchebag.

Explaining his Republican status in in New York Magazine, the 24-year-old says:

“Republicans aren’t all religious fundamentalists from Alabama; some of us are just normal working-class Catholics from Queens.”

Newsflash, Mr. Eric “Cool Republican” Ulrich: Catholocism is a religion with some pretty die-hard followers. And, you might be surprised to know that a few people in Alabama are part of the working-class, too. I mean we can’t spend all of our time spewing religious fundamentalist rhetoric and blogging about hypocritical bastards like yourself.

Ulrich goes on to establish his cool cred by saying that he watches Family Guy! Gambles his money away via three-card poker!! Recently bought a Chevy Impala!!! And, may or
may not be cheating on his fiancée with a mistress!!!! (The "exclamation points" are actually "coolness-factor points." )

Great. All the things I know that I look for in my city councilman. Who cares about where he stands on policy issues if he watches Family Guy?

If justifying your participation in the Republican party by disparaging part of it’s core constituency – those types that “cling to their God and guns” – is what’s "normal," then, Mr. Ulrich, I'm glad I’m not normal.

Update 1: Another abnormal conservative with close Alabama ties adds his thoughts on the Young Hip GOP Douchebag.

Update 2: Protein Wisdom just returned from a sojourn down South and has got some things to say on the subject.

Update 3 (my personal favorite, probably because he includes a picture of me): Defending Sweet Home Alabama from a Damned Yankee Republican.

Update 4: Red Dot in a Red State does his part in calling Mr. Ulrich to the carpet. And also gets bonus points for including a picture of me.

Update 5: Linked by the New York Daily News Blog.

4.27.2009

Megan Fox is Hot

Update: One blogger asks the question: "Is Clever S. Logan hotter than Megan Fox?" It's flattering, no doubt, but I'm questioning his sanity a little -- namely because he fails to conclude with a resounding "{expletive} no!"

Since I've gotten a number of hits this week from folks searching for "Megan Kelly legs" (they mean Megyn Kelly legs), I thought I should provide a photo of the Megan's legs they should be searching for. Nothing like a little Rule 5 for a case of the Mondays:

Megan Fox Legs. And, you're welcome.


Update: One commenter questions the "intellectual" and "academic" merit of this photo. Dear reader, I'm sorry if you were too busy staring at her legs to notice all of the books in the background. That must count for something.

Out of This World

I'm not the science-sort. (Disecting that pig sophomore year and nearly fainting turned me off to it. It has not, however, compromised my appreciation for bacon.) Still, I think these photos are neat.

Crown of Thorns, via Fox News.


Giant Hand, via Fox News.


Now, I'm also not one to go in for the a-woman-wanted-cheese-toast-and-found-Jesus-instead sorta thing. But the photos (of outerspace not the cheese toast) give you the feeling that Someone is out there. Kind of makes me wonder if I should delete that Playboy cover of Ann Coulter. I wouldn't want Him to see that either.

For an almost-unbelievable photo of the heavenlies, see Pundit and Pundette’s Nasa image of saturn.

4.25.2009

Stop Reading Now, and Step Away from the Computer

Apparently, this week was Digital Detox Week, sponsored by Adbusters:
Adbusters challenges you to do the unthinkable: unplug. Say good-bye to Twitter and Facebook. Turn off your TV, iPhone and Xbox. For seven days, reconnect with the natural world and the people around you. You’ll be amazed at how the magic creeps back into your life. Don’t be afraid and don’t find excuses, just take the plunge and see what happens.
The challenge began April 20th and is ending tomorrow. I'm almost relieved I didn't discover it in time. I would have just felt guilty when I caved and re-plugged one day early 37 minutes later.

Escaping the encroaching entrapments of modern life isn't a new idea. Take Thoreau's Walden. He retreated to the woods to rid himself from the dehumanizing impact of the Industrial Revolution. Instead of the Industrial Revolution we have the Electronic Age, and with it Facebook, Sports Center, and, the most grievous of all, "insert clever s.logan here."

Freeing ourselves from the electronic ball and chain would afford us the opportunity for contemplation, spiritual discovery, etc. Besides the deep stuff, it would remind us how to be in the here, now. You know, rather than nodding methodically and only half-listening while checking your BlackBerry as your spouse relays the minute details of her day. (Obviously, I can only imagine this is how it goes. Sigh.)

The idea is noble, but I wonder if unplugging is even possible anymore? Sure, we could pull the cords on our toasters, radios, or alarm clocks, but the computer, television, and phone? I shudder to think. Last week a tornado hit, leaving me without power for three days, er, hours. (It just felt like three days.)

The slogan challenges, "Do the unthinkable." To me, the idea sounds sublime. It's not unthinkable, but is it un-doable? For the love of nature (and our souls), I hope not.

Until today, I had forgotten how freeing the feeling was. I spent the day communing with nature (canoeing, actually), and it was one of the best days I've had in a long time.

After being surrounding by nothing by water, trees, and sky for hours, I'm tempted to live out my own Walden (after I'm done working with the kiddos in Atlanta.) To bask in the light of the sun, rather than the light of a computer screen; hear the sound of the wind rustling through the trees rather than Rush Limbaugh's voice; and watch a squirrel hunt for nuts rather than reruns of Andy Griffith. (I think my nerdiness is showing.)

DDW doesn't end until tomorrow, so I can at least have a Digital Detox Day. Maybe you should, too.

So long until Monday.

Ps - I decided that after my adventure to Atlanta, I want to hike the Appalachian. All of it. Alone. That last one is only because I don't, at present, know any other backpackers I'd like to spend months in the wilderness with. I am, however, open to suggestions.

4.24.2009

Headline of the Day

Let he who has never sat in a long meeting with a bunch of financial executives throw the first coffee bean, says Trogolopundit.

The headline is referencing White House Economic Advisor Larry Summers' decision to take an impromptu nap in a meeting while Obama was talking. (Can we really blame him?)

"Summers appeared to be nodding off near the beginning of Obama's remarks. And then he DID nod off, doing the head on the hand and then head falling off the hand thing. Photographers seemed to be having a field day. All other officials in the room appeared fully awake." Via Think Progress.

Click over to see the pictures then click "People can be boring, you know."

Fuel to the Liberal Fire

Ugh. This isn't gunna be pretty:

"The Department of Defense ... to make public at least 44 photos depicting potentially abusive treatment of detainees at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan."

See, I told you we should just give them SoyJoys.

Torture a Terrorist for Less Than a Dollar!

Forget waterboarding – let’s give ‘em all a SoyJoy! I’m pretty sure those things qualify as cruel and inhuman punishment.

Note: I’m posting this not because you care, but because I’m bitter and have a bone to pick with the makers of the energy bar from you know where. You see, Target’s having a sale on ‘em this week – 47 cents! And, since I’m such a sucker for good deals (it comes from being not spoiled), I naturally stocked up.

Good plan, right? Wrong.

The mango-coconut variety was so bad that I decided to call the customer service and tell them so.

Of course, I got a recorded response – their customer service reps were all in a meeting – probably scheming up some new way to make their product taste even more lethal. I was about to hang up when I heard this: “If you’re calling regarding an overdose situation, please hang up and call the poison control center.”

First, if anyone were to overdose on SoyJoys, it would have to be a suicide attempt so telling them to call the poison control center would be like telling Meghan McCain not to be a moron or Michelle Obama not to look like the poster child for “Diary of A Mad Black Woman.” In other words, pointless.

Second, if the person was actually experiencing an overdose of some less deadly substance I’m sure their thought process would be: “must *groping throat* call *dropping to knees* SoyJoy *eyes begin to glaze* before it’s too …”

Where was I going with this? Oh, right, I’ve solved the whole waterboarding debate. Instead of mock-drowning them (I still haven’t figured out why we’re not actually drowning them), we could poison them with a steady diet of “all natural fruit and soy bars.”

The company’s new marketing slogan could be: “Buy a SoyJoy, Torture a Terrorist.” It has a nice ring, don’t you think?

4.23.2009

Facebook Manners and You

This is awesome. H/T: Moe Lane



Moe said he had nothing to follow this, but I do. (Shocking, I know.)

It just so happens that in the course of the last 24 hours I have had two of the rules broken on me. In the interest of good taste, I'll leave the perpetrators and rules nameless.

The most useful piece of advice:

“No one's going to date you, if you get frown lines.”

Huh. Maybe that's been my problem.

Also, I wonder how much better off society would be if our insults were so genteel as, “Timmy is a wet blanket”?

The Way to a Girl's Heart

The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but the quickest way to a blogging woman's heart is through links and copious amounts of flattery.

This fellow has mastered the art, and has captured my heart with a poem. Here's an excerpt:

"This Northern Alabama Hottie is a bit flirty and sometimes naughty"

Hey, a good, conservative girl's gotta get her kicks and giggles somehow, right? I hear that jello wrestling is also a good way to get them. This place is only 10 minutes from my house. How convenient ... and sketchy.

If you would like to contend for my heart, send donations (button's on the right!), Godiva chocolate, and a (large) diamond ring and proposal to Birmingham, AL.

4.22.2009

Hot (?) Conservative non-Blonde from Alabama?

I keep seeing headlines like this: Hot Conservative Blonde from California?, and it's starting to get a little annoying.

Not because I'm against seeing Carrie Prejean. I like oggling her just as much as the next guy--assuming the next guy is actually a girl. (Gotta squelch those lesbian rumors every chance I get).

Anyway, it's annoying because for a split second, I think they're talking about me. Then, (sadly) I remember that 1) I don't live in California anymore, 2) I don't have blonde hair anymore, and 3) I may or may not have ever been "hot." Somehow still checking the "conservative" box doesn't make me feel any better.

For those having trouble picturing me as a blonde, I'm tempted to offer proof. But I wonder if using photos of yourself as Rule 5 linkage is tacky?

Eh, I've already posted a Playboy cover of Ann Coulter, what have I got to lose?


Here, doing my best "deer in the headlights" impression:


And, two more, just to prove I'm patriotic and not 300 pounds from the neck down.

Me on the steps of the Capitol:


... And for the evening gown portion of this pageant of pictures:


Get Me Off This Planet!

Apparently, a new earth-like planet has been discovered ... on Earth Day. How appropriate.

Unfortunately, researchers say it's too close to the sun to be suitable for human life.

Damn. I was really hoping that I could move there after running across this cover of Ann Coulter:



Photoshopped or not, I'm not sure I even want to exist on the same planet as that.

Conservative she might be, but Rule 5 she ain't.

Save the Earth! Move to Mars!

That message is, of course, for my loyal following of liberal readers ... 0h, wait, nevermind.

If you think my suggestion is harsh, you might not want to watch Big Sexy ask an earth-loving couple if they'd consider removing their carbon footprint from the earth by, well, removing themselves. The hilarity begins around minute 2.




(*See more orange-jumpsuit-wearing, liberal-punk-slapping-goodness at the bottom of the post.)

Now, if you're wondering how much all this planet-lovin' is going to cost you, the latest tally from the MIT crowd, via the Weekly Standard, is $3,900. Think that's too much to pay? You do have one one other option: Save the Earth: Commit Suicide!

Before you do that, though, you'll want to have a last meal. Pundit and Pundette says earth day whales are very delicious. I prefer the endangered bluefin tuna myself, while Dave C says that spotted owl is a tasty alternative to the now-not-endangered eagle. Whichever dwindling species you choose, don't post pictures of your feast on Facebook. Apparently, you can get arrested.

Of course, you'll want some music to enjoy with your endangered species. Fisherville Mike shares an Earth Day-appropriate song.

Finally, Jimmie over at Sundries Shack just can't get enough of Earth Day and proposes we extend the celebration to a whole week:

"I think we should rename this week as Unintended Consequences Week, to celebrate all the effects our well-intentioned but panic-driven laws have had on our planet and our lives."

Now, go ye forth into all the world. Be fruitful and multiply your carbon emissions.

*Ready for more Big Sexy? And, I mean, can you ever really get enough? (Uh, actually, I personally know the answer to this: it's a resounding "yes!") In the video below, he convinces the sillies to sign a petition giving Gitmo detainees E-Harmony accounts, Netfix subscriptions, and the Jihad Olympics. The snark factor is through the roof. And, it’s awesome. Via Little Miss Attilla. (She also shares a video of a CNN reporter getting called to the carpet by a Tax Day Tea Party Patriot.)


This Is Too Easy...

Pundit and Pundette posted this priceless photo of Mr. Obama:

OMG... so many caption possibilities, right? Fortunately, Pundette is running a caption contest, so you can add your best line.

Here's mine:

1) Obama: "Hey, everyone, come check out this awesome grave I'm digging! Do you think capitalism will fit?"

2) He was going to wear his nice things to play in the dirt, but he didn't want to look like an elitist snob.

3) "I thought he was a White house servant of the people?

(The non-PC version was much funnier, but since I do live in the south, I figured I better stay away from anything that might cause me to be associated with the white hood and robe types.)

4.21.2009

Get Rich or Die Bloggin'

Want to get rich quick and immunize yourself against a case of the "poverties" going around these days? Start a blog.

Or, so goes the sound (riiiiight) advice of the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ reports that "Bloggers can get $75 to $200 for a good post..."

As bloggers everywhere have been noting, this is crap. Oh, in addition to those six, there's him, too: Add my name to the list of bloggers laughing sourly on this nonsense from the WSJ.

I haven't had time to laugh yet. I've been too busy doing the math. Assuming that only half of my 44 posts have been good (a generous estimate, I know), I'm already behind between $1,650 and $4,400 in just a six weeks!

But, don't worry, you can help restore my faith in the WSJ--and the generosity of mankind. How? The donate button's on your right.

Once you get the hang of using mine, you can help fund the research of bacon-flavored vodka, feed a starving family of eight, or fund a brilliant blogger's new laptop fund.

Of course, unlike LMA, RSM, and Moe any money donated to me, isn't really for me: it's for the children. (In all seriousness, 2o people giving $5 would pay for an entire month of my housing while I'm volunteering with the inner-city kids for the next few months. So, if you would consider forgoing that Starbucks this afternoon, your blood sugar levels and I would be forever grateful.)

If you don't contribute? Well, I'll keep writing anyways. I gotta follow Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson on this one: I'm gunna get rich or die bloggin'.

4.20.2009

I'm Not A Spoiled Brat Either ... Or Am I?

In response to my earlier lament that my generation has no concept of what it means to sacrifice, HotMES responds with We're Not All Spoiled Brats.

Within the post, she essentially tells her life story, which--and this may come as a surprise--is in many ways like my own.

She had her first job when she was 12. I had my first job when I was 9. (And, I'm not talking allowance people).

Since our childhoods, neither she nor I have not been without a job. For her, it was babysitting and the local grocery store. For me, it was working as the janitor for my local realtor's office and my church. She earned her keep, and so did I.

I can particularly identify with this, so much so that I could have written it myself:

"I was responsible for me. There wasn’t any allowance or “Mom, can I get $20 to go see a movie?” There was me. Whatever I wanted to do was up to how much I worked for it."

She goes on to tell how she carried full loads in college while working two jobs that culminated in upwards of 40 hours a week. Ditto. (I'm beginning to wonder if we were somehow twins separated at birth.)

Interestingly, where we diverge is that I would say that none of that really makes me any less deserving of being grouped into the "spoiled" category. In my mind, the fact that I live in America where excess pervades even the lowest common denominator of society makes me almost automatically deserving of it.

The life pattern that Monique describes and that she and I have both followed is one marked by a forced responsibility beyond our years, a good ol' fashioned American work ethic, and the determination and willigness to make ourselves what we hope to be because we don't expect (and most likely wouldn't allow) someone else to do it for us.

To be willing to work and show a level of responsibility unknown to your peers may make you relatively unspoiled, but it isn't something you should be praised for. (It also doesn't mean you understand what it means to live with only the necessities, and not just niceties, of life.) The kind of guiding principles and decisions that, to Monique, preclude her from the "spoiled" category, to me should be a standard expectation. When they're not met derision should follow rather than gratuituous praise ensuing when they are met.

That said, to those who know my personal background, "spoiled brat" is never a phrase that would come into mind. And, having met Monique – she is a rare, genuine, down-to-earth sort – I would readily say the same for her. In conjunction, she notes, "I have sacrificed, more than, and less than, plenty of others in our generation." I am sure this is true. And, I would say the same for myself. Undoubtedly, most of you would as, well.

But this doesn't really get at the heart of my first post and my follow-up. I admit that Monique and I, because of our less-than-plenteous backgrounds and resulting work ethics, are less spoiled than many of our generation. Nonetheless, I still venture that we have little concept of what sacrifice truly means and meant for those of my grandparent's generation not so long ago. (That was the premise of my original argument, if you recall).

Further, I think the very fact that the natural response to being told we don't know what it means to really be in want--Yes, I do!--highlights our rather narrow perspective. I say "our" because as I was writing my original post, part of me, too, was rising up crying out for acknowledgement that "I do, too, know what it's like to be in need!"

There's something innate in man that demands his sacrifices to be acknowledged - however small - and his accomplishments to be noticed. So, while I would still aver that even those who have sacrificed "much" in our generation have sacrificed relatively little compared with many of the generations before us, I am not so ignorant of human nature that I am unwilling to stroke it politely for the sake of good will on earth, peace towards men, etc. etc.

Here goes: hotMES is not a spoiled brat. And neither am I. At least not in the usual and extreme sense of the word.

In another sense, living in the most prosperous nation in the world qualifies me, Monique, and probably you, too, for the "spoiled" category. (Or, maybe I should say "blessed.") And, if we acknoweldge our good fortune with appropriate gratitude, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Note: If you would like to give me the opportunity to become a spoiled brat in the usual and extreme sense of the word, my donate button awaits you on the right.

Update: If there wasn't enough reason to donate before, now I'm gunna Get Rich or Die Bloggin'.

Update: In the comment section, a reader who "gets it," illustrates my argument wonderfully. He tells the story of his grandfather, a child of the Depression. In comparison, he notes that his own life, although he has worked hard, has been marked by relative ease.

Update: Troglopundit takes a look at the spoiled/not spoiled issue and comes to a fair and balanced biased and unobjective conclusion. Despite this, as I said before he's a smart man and still worth a read.

The Cutest Girls in the World

And, I thought he was talking about me:

Wish They All Could Be California Girls

(I may live in the south now, but I spent most of my 23 years in So-Cal. I think that still classifies me as a "California Girl.")

Lesbian Logan

While I've been pondering the virtues of sacrifice and the merits of poverty, there has been, apparently, a much more important question I should have been addressing:

Is Suzanna Logan a Lesbian?

I came across the question last week, and hoped it would disappear back into the closet where it belongs, but alas it has reered it's crew-cut head again.

I'm not sure how this sort of rumor could have been started. Maybe Big Sexy started it to salve his post-rejection wounds. Or, maybe Cynthia Yockey started it after deciding she needed some company in the conservative lesbian category. Or, maybe those pictures of that one party involving too much Hypnotic got out after all.

According to Stacy McCain, none of these are the right answer. He claims,

"Richard [Spencer] turned Suzanna gay, and everybody knows that this is all part of a right-wing conspiracy funded by a wealthy Greek playboy."

(Go here for the backstory of rejection by Mr. Spencer that may or may not have resulted in my utter rejection of men.)

As much as I'd like to, I can neither confirm nor deny any of these reports at this time. Stay tuned for possible chick-love confessions. In the meantime, you can find me in my closet.

Update: My lesbian status may be up in the air, but at least we know one thing about me: I'm Not a Spoiled Brat Either! ... Or Am I?

Bring on the "Poverty"

Update: Distinguished author Tito Perdue adds his thoughts on the potential benefits of a recession and notes an unintended (positive) side effect I hadn't even considered: fewer illegal immigrants.

In his response to today's earlier post “Recession: Just What the Doctor Ordered?" Stacy McCain infers that I have a youthful idealism that is causing me to “romanticize poverty.” Maybe. I would counter that he has a middle-aged skepticism that has caused him to demonize it.

Having thrown the P-word into the ring, let’s consider it for a moment. What does it mean – really? You might be surprised. A quick Google search revealed that it has taken on a meaning quite different from what it once had, a reality which may help shed some light on Mr. McCain’s assertion of my naiveté.

According to 1828 Webster, poverty is:

1. Destitution of property; indigence; want of convenient means of subsistence.

According to 2009 Webster, poverty is:

1. The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.

The discrepancy between the two definitions is telling. The type of “poverty” that I am suggesting would be good for America is the second. I am not wishing for mass calamity but for, as Tito Perdue put it, an end to the "sumptuousnes that dissolves self-discipline."

Mr. McCain seems to be referencing the first. (That he may be old enough to remember the original definition could be the source of the confusion.) He writes:

“It is one thing — and arguably a good thing — for young people to struggle with economic hardship as they try to establish their independence. It is something entirely different, and a very bad thing, to confront a poverty that is permanent, lifelong, inescapable, hopeless.”

I quite agree.

The point isn’t that suddenly he with the lowest bank account balance “wins.” The point is that an economic downturn severe enough to lend us some perspective might be more than a necessary evil. It might be an unexpected blessing. It might return us to a definition of poverty, rightly-understood, where having to choose between dinner out at McDonalds versus a dinner at Applebee’s is a choice we are grateful even to have and by no means qualifies us to claim “lack.” Or, in Mr. McCain’s case, to decide whether to “(a) make the car payment, (b) pay the phone bill, or (b) try to keep the electricity on for another month,” produces more gratitude than aggravation precisely because there is a car, phone, and electricity to be paid at all.

To be sure, I realize that when grouping anything into a collective whole, there will always be exceptions. I have already heard from some of you who are convinced that you are living in need. Maybe so. Maybe not. More than likely, you are referencing the state of poverty in definition 2, rather than that of definition 1. If this is the case, I congratulate you for the opportunity to grow in virtue.

If you think I'm advocating a return to the bare minimum without some vested interest, think again.

My own opportunity to live in a state of general discomfort is not so far away. In fact, the prospect is what prompted me to write on the subject at all. As my regular readers know, I will be soon be moving to the ghetto of Atlanta to work with the inner city kids on a full-time, volunteer basis. For the first time in my life, I'm going to have a chance to learn not in theory but in practice what it means to live with the basic necessities rather than niceties. In the midst of hyperconsumerist, materalistic America (even in a "recession"), I acknowledge this is a rare opportunity.

Right now, as I type, I'm sitting on a feather-down comforter with my pedigreed dog in a 1,000 square-foot apartment in a gated community. When I move to Atlanta, I'll be writing blogs from a dorm room I'll share with who knows how many others. Just outside my door, instead of manicured lawns and bright-faced children riding their scooters, there will be dirty streets and real poverty - the 1828 kind. Instead of spending time with my white, middle-class church friends everyday, I'll be interacting with the homeless, drug addicts, and others whose lives are on a downward spiral of hopelessness.

Call me a masochist with a penchant for self-flagellation, but I can hardly wait.

I may be alone in this, but it seems to me that up to a point, creature comforts are welcomed, but too much of a good thing can be just that. Once you've had your hand in the cookie jar for so long, the thought of one more starts to make your stomach turn rather than your mouth water.

Recession: Just What the Doctor Ordered?

Update: In response to this post, HotMES writes, We're Not All Spoiled Brats. My response to her response? I'm Not a Spoiled Brat Either! ... Or Am I?

My take on "spoiled brats," the lost virtue of sacrifice, and how an ailing economy may revive a lagging culture.

It's a rainy Sunday afternoon. I'm sipping on a cup of chai tea and watching the drops dance across the lake outside my window. Days like this always put me in a contemplative, reading mood. Having jumped from Democracy in America, to C. S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man, to my own reflections on life in America, I've come to a conclusion:

Sacrifice is the bête noire of my generation. And, it's too bad.

In his epic work, de Tocqueville noted that America was a giving nation: "Every American will sacrifice a portion of his private interests to preserve the rest."

You could argue that current tax policies have ensured the truth of his statement by forcing every American to give up some of what he has for the sake of others, but that isn't quite what de Tocqueville meant. He was referencing not merely the act of giving but the spirit behind it, not just the ability to give when compelled but the willingness to do so when no such compulsion exists.

This is something I confess to knowing very little of. I mean not really. Sure, I slip a few dollars into the red pail outside Wal-Mart around Christmas time, pledge to a few regular charities, etc. But to know what it truly means to sacrifice? Hardly. In conjunction, I have only a vague notion of what it means to "do without." If you're under the age of 50, you can probably identify, and it's no surprise.

Since my grandparent's generation (Depression era), there has been not only little need but little opportunity to learn the virtue of sacrifice. Surrounded by excess, the very nature of our hyper-consumerist society has guaranteed that we rarely have to do without those things we want and almost never have to give up those things we already have. We have not been forced to be in want, so, quite naturally, we have chosen not to be.

A conversation that I had a few days ago during an unexpected excursion to Wetumpka, Alabama, to meet noted author Tito Perdue helped shed more light on the issue. According to Tito, a gentleman whose brilliance was eclipsed only by his graciousness, America's decline in recent years, morally and culturally, has been in direct proportion to the rising number of "spoiled brats": individuals who have no understanding of sacrifice and little understanding of what it means to work for not only their niceties, but God forbid, their necessities. (RSM has another name for them: Meghan McCain.)

Which came first, the denigration of American ideals or the spoiled brats is up for debate. I suspect they worked handily together. As youngsters evidenced an individual aversion to that once-great American tradition of sacrifice, it wasn't long before it came to be viewed as an unfortunate circumstance to be shunned rather than a virtue to be sought.

Tito and I discussed whether an effective antidote existed for a culture ailing for this reason and agreed that an economic downturn may be just what the doctor ordered.

I realize that cheering on a recession while in a recession may raise an eyebrow or two. So, as long as I'm at it, I might as well raise a few more. The kind of economic difficulty that America needs to purge the "spoiled brat" mentality and return to the days of moral and cultural integrity that Tito remembers and I (sadly) do not is one more severe than we are currently having. It cannot be the kind in which people whine about having less money to spend on dinners and movies out. It must be the kind that forces neighbors to band together to meet their bare necessities. (If Obama keeps up his economic policies, which promise to make a bad economy worse, I may get my wish.)

Such circumstances, I venture, would give us the opportunity to embrace a virtue which we have refused of our own free will. Of course, "doing without" only when one has no other choice is not sacrifice in the truest sense of the word. Nevertheless, the effects on our souls and, by extension, society might be very much the same.

To be loosed from the obsessive fascination with the materialism that surrounds us would free us to look inward, to spend our time and energies rebuilding what we have sacrificed of our souls while amassing more "stuff." When one is accustomed to having everything at his fingertips, the idea of having nothing at all, or at least only one's needs rather than wants readily available, certainly sounds primitive but in a thrilling sort of way. After stifling under the excesses of our consumerist culture for so long, a streamlined, if not stoic, existence may be one of the few novelties left. And, doesn't it sound grand?

Were we to experience some of what our parents or grandparents did during the Depression era, we would undoubtedly come away with the revelation that not only do we not need most of the material comforts that consume our lives but we can be just as fulfilled (and maybe even moreso) without them. Such a realization would likely result in a greater willingness to "sacrifice ... to preserve the rest" as an act of the free, not forced, will.

Having returned to de Tocqueville, he warned almost two centuries ago that "the age of implicit self-sacrifice and instinctive virtues is already flitting far away from us." That age is even farther now than when he penned those words, but it may not be too late to return to it once again. The question is how much are we willing to sacrifice to find out?

4.16.2009

I'm a Right-Wing Extremist, Are You?

I'm a little behind on the Tea Party commentary, having had a series of interesting events yesterday that included my nearly joining a chaps contest in a backwoods bar in Wetumpka, Alabama last night (more on this later). Fortunately, I escaped with my dignity intact. And, speaking of dignity...
I may not have risked it and my virginal innocence to become the Lady Godiva of the Tax Day Tea Party, as Stephen Gordon of The Liberty Papers noted. (He also noted I was "cute.") But, I did risk my health. I attended the 'Bama Tea Party wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt (in 50 degree weather) that proclaimed "I Will Not Be Silent!" Ironically, I actually was rather silent, having been diagnosed with severe strep that morning.
Fortunately, there were 7,000 others there to cheer for me, especially when Stacy of The Other McCain delivered his rousing "You Might be a Right-Wing Extremist If" speech. As he so humbly notes, the magic is in the delivery. The fun begins around minute 1.
My personal favorite, "You might be a right-wing extremist if you believe in God, but don't think Obama is the Messiah."

Ps. Still haven't figured out the purpose of the random pitchfork in the background. Maybe they were hoping a lib would show and an impaling would follow?

4.15.2009

It's Tax Day! Let the BAR (Bank Account Rape) Games Begin!

I've always loved games. I've also always loved to cheat at games. I once marked the $90K Salary card in "Life" so I would know to pick it everytime. (Sorry, sis!)

Sadly, in the game of real Life, there are no $90K salary cards to mark. Even more sadly, there are taxes, and you shouldn't cheat on those unless federal prison sounds fun to you. (At least these days, you'd likely be surrounded by CEOS not black drug dealers, suggests this page.)

Because there are no games and probably no blogs in prison, I suggest you play while you can.

I'll be your host for the evening, and I want to know from you, "Whose Money Is It Anyway?!?!" Just to help you out, I'll give you a hint, the answer is three words beginning with the letters. "I" "R" "S".

The rules? Share in the comment section how much of your hard-earned cash you'll be coughing up in taxes this year. Really, "coughing" isn't dramatic enough imagery. Let's go with "hurl", "puke," "barf," or "ralph." (Those should include me in some interesting google searches.)

The objective? To make me, your host, feel better about the $7,000 payout I'll be giving Uncle Sam this year.

Let the games begin and may the best richest man win!

Ps - If you're not planning on attending the Tax Day Tea Party today, for the love of your country, CHANGE YOUR PLANS. I'll be here.

Ps 2 - Before heading to a Tea Party and in between cursing under your breath, drawing a pitchfork and tail onto your favorite Barry O picture, and shoving large amounts of chocolate into your mouth in an attempt to feel better on this grand April 15, try playing Pester the Democrats.

Click the link and you can tea-bag Barack "not Saddam" Hussein Obama, Joe "Not the Plumber" Biden, Harry “Nepotism” Reid, and Nancy “Let 'Em Eat Cake” Pelosi.

What would be even better is if we could actually make them a cup of tea then, say, throw in a little hemlock, hm? What's good enough for Socrates...

UPDATE: My mother's thoughts on all of this: "I think we should tar and feather them first, then make them drink the hemlock tea. If they refuse to drink it, then we could tie them up and give them all ENEMAS!!!" Well played, Mom. Well played. One of the many reasons that I love you.

4.12.2009

I'm Going to the Ghetto

Disclaimer: this is a lengthy post. In the end, you’ll see how I’ll soon be upping my street cred and joining the ranks of drug dealers, prostitutes, alcoholics, and gangs on the streets of inner-city Atlanta. Why? It’s for the children.



In the last ten days since I’ve been away, much has changed.

Something happened that changed me forever last weekend. It was the Pivotal Life Moment to end all Pivotal Life Moments. Actually, it was more than that, it was a God moment, and it changed my heart.

Here’s the story:

Three Friday’s ago, I turned down a position that I envisioned would ultimately lead to my dream job and life in Washington D.C. It was my direct route to everything I wanted in life: recognition as a political writer, cocktail parties and pretty dresses, culture and sophistication. It was a guaranteed escape from the “ordinary” life that I’ve dreaded since my dad began telling me to “Dream Big Dreams” as a small child.

It was everything I’d ever wanted, but something wasn’t right. *Cue Twilight Zone music.* I wrestled with the decision of whether to take the job non-stop for seven days straight. Then, laying to rest any lingering questions about my cajones, I made the toughest decision of my life and turned it down.

Yeah, it didn’t make any sense to me either at the time. Then, four days later, when I lost my job as a magazine editor here in Birmingham, it made even less sense. The one thing I knew? “My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts,” says the Lord.

I’m not going to lie, that wasn’t a lot of comfort.

Then, it all came together. There was an Eddie James conference in my town the day after I lost my job. (Eddie James is a black gospel singer with a heart and soul the size of Texas. He travels around the country, telling young people that no matter their past they have a future in God. His proof? The 80 teenagers he’s rescued off the streets out of drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, etc. who are now Christians and travel with his ministry.)

The first night of the conference, God said something to me that drastically changed my heart and life direction. I should probably explain that God and I are pretty conversational. We keep a running dialogue throughout the day. Sometimes I talk and He listens, other times He talks and I listen. (And, why shouldn’t it be that way? Jesus says in John 15:15 that He no longer calls us “servants” but “friends,” and talking is what friends do, right?)

Anyway, as the music played, I poured myself out to God. I surrendered my pride, agendas, motives, and attitudes and told Him I wanted to die to my desires so that I could live for His purpose. As I sat there, the realities of what I was giving up—my dreams of fame as a political writer, fun as a (cocktail) party girl, and a sure escape from a "common" existence—bore down on me like a ton of bricks.

Then, He said to me, “Don’t you see? All of that IS the ordinary life.”

When I heard that, the ton of bricks lifted. I realized that the “ordinary life” I had been so afraid of was the very thing I was pursuing. In that moment of absolute surrender and Divine clarity, my heart and mind were transformed.

Suddenly, everything that I had been living for (Ben and Jerry's ice cream, this blog, Big Sexy, etc.) faded, and what replaced it was what I can only describe as a burning desire in the deepest part of me to share love with the inner city kids, to tell them about Jesus, and to let them know they have a hope and a future because of Him.

Ever since, I've prayed fervently for direction. I've waited to see if this was a true commitment for life, not just an emotional, in-the-moment experience. Ten days later, I have that same burning sense of urgency for the inner city kids as I did then. I pray that will never change. [Update: two months later: the same urgency remains.]

I have my guesses as to why God placed a burden for children on my heart. Maybe it was to prove He really does have a sense of humor since I often claimed I saw no reason to interact with kids unless I was being paid for it. Whatever the reason, I know the result.

This summer, I am putting my writing career on stop to begin serving in a full-time unpaid volunteer position to the inner city kids of Atlanta. Once I move and at least until December, I’ll be working six days a week with Metro Kidz, an extension of the Atlanta Dream Center. I'll be helping with weekly neighborhood outreach events, visiting kids and their parents in their homes to build relationships, and tutoring kids in the after-school program.

I’ll be living in housing that’s located on the “Million Dollar Mile,” which earned it’s name for the millions of dollars of crack cocaine sold there each week. My rent will be $100 per month, and I’ll need that much more to cover laundry, gas, food expenses and daily long distance phone calls home, as my family has already let me know they'll require at least one call per day to let them know I'm still alive.

Because I won’t be paid and can’t have a side job due to time constraints, and because I’m losing my job here and still have an apartment lease to fulfill (*insert sad violin music*), I’m not entirely sure how my finances are going to work themselves out. But, I know that they will because I know He is faithful.

If you feel moved to contribute now and/or (preferably "and" :-)) in the coming months, know that by helping me, you’re helping the kids of inner-city Atlanta. (I've placed a "Donate" button at the top right-hand side of my blog. You know what to do.) If you can't help financially, please send your prayers my way as often as you think to.

In closing, I’d like to remind you of the words of the great St. Augustine: “Our hearts are restless ‘til they find their rest in Thee.” My heart has never been more settled or more at peace. At the same time, I’m more excited than I’ve ever been for not just my future but for the futures of all the kids I’ll have an opportunity to touch in the coming months and years.

Here’s to an extraordinary life!

Oh, and here’s a short video you should watch about my newfound loves, the inner city kids of Atlanta:



4.03.2009

Death (to Democrats) and Taxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about taxes lately. (Mostly how I’m going to get put in jail for not doing mine, as I recently threw away both my W2 and 1099 in a Taco Bell trashcan.) And, I’ve also been thinking about being sick, as I’ve come down with my death of cold. (Maybe if I’m lucky, it will kill me before April 15.)

Now, I can think about both at the same time thanks to the nine people who have wasted three million dollars in taxpayers funds by making over 2,700 emergency room visits.

The totally (not) shocking part? Seven of the nine were diagnosed with mental health issues.

My suggestion? Rather than sending them to the emergency room, let’s send them to DC. By having them replace nine Democratic seats in Congress—they already check the mentally unbalanced box—we could save the taxpayers $1.5 million dollars. (Based on Congress' yearly salaries of $174,000.)

Then, we could send the Democratic Congressman to the emergency room … and have Dr. Kevorkian be on call that day.

4.02.2009

Mind Effing the Left

Big Sexy doing his thang at a socialist, anti-war gathering on the streets of DC. Watch the video to see radical libs doing what they do best - making morons of themselves.

Case in point at 1:05, "If we could just, like, play, like, click drag with like politicians and like people in Guantanamo Bay and just switch 'em ... Man, things would be so different."

Hey, maybe we could just like play like click and drag with like your vocabulary and thought processes and like only save those words and ideas worth hearing ... Man, things would be so different: /silence



Don't despair. Well, you can despair about what this says about the state of our nation. But don't despair about the video being over: there's more!

In this one, Big Sexy highlights the hypocrisy of socialists asking for money for their newspapers. Trust me, it's priceless ... or at least worth the $4 it cost him.



Random lib at the close of the vid: "With state power you have the ability to transform things, the potential actually becomes tremendously great."

Hm, maybe we could use state power to transform y'all into sensible, productive members of society? Naw, even The One can only do so much....