Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Widow's Mite 

(IDLE SPECULATION ALERT!!!!!) I wonder if the folks at Target might have made a miscalculation concerning their decision to stop having the Salvation Army bell ringers in front of their stores. I certainly hope that this was a case of mistaken calculations on the part of an otherwise good company that simply wanted to change the charity it really supported this year. I suspect though that perhaps the decision wasn't so much about an honest miscalculation on the part of a corporate retail giant. I think that perhaps a bit of what I will call demographic snobbery might have been involved.

Hugh Hewitt has lightly speculated here and here that perhaps Target was pursuing a more glamorous charity in childhood cancer research. I am speculating that the customer base that Target has been gunning for doesn't want or really care all that much about feeding the homeless and the drunks and the truly downtrodden in our society. Target wants to market to the "high end" of the retail market while Wal-Mart is considered to market to the "low end" of the retail market. Wal-Mart still has their kettles in front of their stores and Target doesn't. I haven't been to any place like Rookwood Commons here in Cincinnati yet, but I'm willing to bet that the really high end merchants that inhabit this "lifestyle shopping" center don't have the red kettles in front of their stores either.

Look, my whole point is that Jesus declared that the widow's mite was more blessed because she gave what she could out of her poverty instead of giving out of her wealth like so many of the wealthier patrons making donations were doing in the temple.Mark 12:41-44. I sincerely hope that Target's decision was one of choosing one particular charity over another. I hope for their sake that they didn't muscle the Salvation Army out of the way for a secular more glamorous charity. The people who are the target market of the store (no pun intended) ought to be encouraged to give to the least of these in their midst. I think that Target's decision might have bad repercussions for the company because demographic snobbery and the applause of men go only so far.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

On Target 

Hugh Hewitt has a pretty good idea when it comes to post-election coverage and why the Republicans weren't going door to door on election day this year. He points out that like the old Democrat voting machines, the word of who to vote for moves among communities and that is one thing that the Democrats have forgotten, particularly when it comes to organizing and attaining the evangelical vote. Hugh is right in his urging of Target to reconsider the removal of the Salvation Army's bell ringers from the fronts of their stores. In terms of retailers, Target has successfully made an appeal to the wealthier suburbanite/exurbanite dweller. Many of these people are Christians who support the Salvation Army and indeed are upset that Target is continuing to whitewash the public square (I like that term) that our culture seems bent on doing. I may have more on this later as time permits.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.... 

One of the things that readers of my posts online know that I fiercely fight over campaign finance "reform" (I will be posting a book review of sorts on Bradley A. Smith's book Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform) and I fight fiercely over tobacco taxes and regulation.

In both cases I am a contrarian/libertarian to the core. In both cases the current zeitgeist is in favor of higher taxes and/or regulation. I will talk about my position on CFR some time later, but right now, I want to zero in on an editorial from the Cincinnati Enquirer. The editorial would not have blipped across my radar, but it had two offending sections. First, the paper reiterated its endorsement of a city-wide ban of smoking in "public" places in the city of Cincinnati. Second, the paper merely parroted a statistic about 53,000 "premature" deaths "caused" by second hand smoke from the National Cancer Institute.

If the Enquirer is going to complain about the loss of tax revenue to the city of Cincinnati and to Hamilton County, then the solution that is screaming to me at any rate is that Cincinnati is inhospitable to small business formation and growth. This link from the Tax Foundation shows that Ohio is one of the most hostile states in the country when it comes to business formation (thank you Gov. Taft). Having unfunded mandates on small businesses put forth by local government is NOT the way to increase commerce and jobs in your community. This link questions the supposed benefits of smoking bans imposed in Europe and New York City. Perhaps I'm ignorant or perhaps I'm stuck back in the late 90s where these things actually did impact a city's bottom line, but I cannot fathom how an imperial mandate like what has been imposed in New York, California, Lexington, Columbus and elsewhere can actually be good for business. I think the economic statistics are being fudged, I just can't prove it.

Even more annoying than the editorials wishing and hoping that a culture change in Kentucky (this is probably the real goal of the support for the city-wide ban) is that they would cite the 53,000 "premature" deaths from the American Cancer Society. I hate to bust a group like ACS in the chops, but they are not exactly a disinterested party. If enough people actually stop smoking and the number of people with cancer either doesn't go down or different forms of cancer crop up, then who can they villianize in order to get "research" grants? Who can they kick around? Why should they exist if massive numbers of people quit smoking and starting living healthier lives? I am not buying the 53,000 deaths per year figure at all. First of all, while second-hand smoke may be a "Class-A" carcinogen, this article, demonstrates how the label can be misleading or can be misunderstood. The idea that second hand smoke can, by itself, cause cancer in someone simply doesn't pass the common sense test, especially when it usually takes 20-30 years of regular smoking to cause serious problems. The Enquirer does NO ONE any service when they simply parrot in an editorial a figure that simply defies common sense when the brain is engaged about this issue.

Why the MSM just doesn't get it..... 

The MSM (Mainstream Media; hat tip: Hugh Hewitt) just doesn't get it. I was watching the NBC Nightly News the other night and they have a story about Hardee's rolling out a burger with bacon and 2/3 of a pound of beef on it among other things. I don't have a problem with them mentioning the number of calories that are in the burger (some 1400 or so) and I don't have a problem with them listing what's in the burger. I don't have media outlets perhaps pointing out that Hardee's has been losing money and closing restaurants.

My big beef (no pun intended) with the story linked to above is that the NBC reporter went and got a comment from the freaks at The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Those freaks have gone off about this or that food dish that people actually enjoy eating. They are fringe healthy eating freaks on a par with PETA and other groups. Their research should ALWAYS be viewed with suspicion and skepticism because they are a bunch of liberal activists and hacks who want to take legitimate eating choices away from Americans. The fact that this group is contacted at all demonstrates just how out of touch the MSM is with the rest of the country. I also was abhorred at the comparison of a burger to porn by CSPI. Having seen some of the damaging effects of porn, the comparison to a STINKING, OVERSIZED chunk of meat on a bun is trivializing the damage porn does to God's design for sex and relations between a man and a woman. THEY are the one's who should be ashamed. They are the ones who are trivializing the danger, not Hardee's and not groups like The Center for Consumer Freedom who have routinely criticized CSPI for its "findings" and its policy prescriptions. Pornography is addictive and its effect on the brain has been compared to that of cocaine. As I said before, comparing a burger to porn is trivializing the dangers of porn on society.

Readers of this blog can read up on background information about CSPI here and here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Back to Specter 

I have been watching closely the "Dump Specter" campaign of bloggers and some of the anti-dump campaign of others. I have referenced Hugh Hewitt before and responded with a lengthy post that can be read below. I want to take some more time to address one of Hugh's main talking points in recent days. He has, if I'm correct, said that the GOP shouldn't dump Specter because it would inflame moderate to liberal Republicans who would strike back by siding with possible Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees. Conservatives such as Ramesh Ponnuru have responded that the risk of alienating moderates is just one of the political risks that come with the territory. I agree with Ramesh's take and I'll raise him some. Not only do I think the reaction by the moderates of the party probably overstated, I think everyone from both parties on Capitol Hill probably have gotten an earful of this controversy putting the Senate on notice that few shenanigans will be tolerated. I suspect that resultant blowback will have the effect of scaring or at least thinking twice about joining a filibuster should one occur, particularly a filibuster over pro-life judicial nominees. The biggest weakness in Hugh's arguments thus far has been his unwillingness or inability to address this point. Because the cases have been sooo far ranging in scope, few people have seriously addressed this aspect of the debate.

I think that while it may be too late, I don't think that it would hurt for my readers to contact Senator DeWine and the other Senators on the Judiciary Committee to give them a piece of your mind. The debate has been spirited and passionate, but in the end, I am certain no lasting damage has been to the conservative movement as a whole and the country will be the better for it.

Btw: for a real good collection of stories and opinions on the subject, go to Stones Cry Out, a blog that came out against dumping Specter, but is a good collection of opinion and articles anyway.

Another thought about Arafat.... 

Is there ANY sane, rational person who actually will miss this man? For crying out loud, it was PLO terrorists who took and later assassinated Jewish hostages at the Munich games in 1972. In the 70s and 80s they took airliners hostage. Arafat was notorious (along with other leaders and his wife) for saying one thing to the west in English, namely that all the Palestinian people wanted was to leave in a land of their own in peace next to Israel. What he told the "arab street" though is that he wanted to eradicate Israel and throw the country into the sea. This little rabble rouser won't be missed by this commentator. I trust that after the state funeral, people will bury the man, his remains and remember only his true legacy: that of violence and unrest.

Speaking of.... 

While you're at it, read the Belmont Club for updates and analysis of our military action in the "Sunni Triangle" that one won't hear in the MSM. The site is excellent in analyzing foreign affairs and should be regular reading for people serious about relevant world news items.

Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead! 

The terrorist with a towel on his head is dead. Yassar Arafat has finally been pronounced dead by Parisian and Palestinian "authorities". I have two thoughts on this event. First, while I agree with The Belmont Club that this is an important event that will have ramifications for some time, I think that since Arafat was nearly killed by Israel almost two years ago in Ramallah, that he had been made essentially irrelevant to Middle East affairs. Arafat never deserved the Nobel Peace Prize given to him and was a brutal thug who managed to convince the world of the injustices done to the Palestinians. The only problem with his rhetoric was that it was directed at Israel instead of Egypt and Jordan. May the Lord have mercy on his soul. It is fitting that the Belmont Club's post linked to above includes a speech by Satan to his demons in hell.

Second, (IDLE SPECULATION ALERT!!!) I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn years down the line that Israel poisoned the terrorist with a towel in an effort to rid themselves of a thorn in their collective flesh.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Time to turn up the heat... 

It is time for pro-life conservatives to ratchet up the heat on the GOP. It was pro-lifers who helped deliver an overwhelming set of victories this year. It is right and just to expect some return for our efforts. Right now, the GOP leadership in the Senate is looking at making an adamant pro-abortion Senator chairman of the Judiciary committee, Arlen Specter. Most of the readers of this blog of mine live in Ohio and Senator Mike DeWine is on the Judiciary Committee with Sen. Specter. Mr. DeWine has been a consistent and effective friend of the pro-life movement. He needs to be contacted and urged to vote against his colleague's promotion to Chairman of the Committee. Please call DeWine's Cincinnati office at:(513) 763-8260 or fax his office at:(513) 763-8268. I have contacted the Senator's office via the email form on his
website and let my opinion be known. It is time others do likewise.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

With friends like these.... 

Hugh Hewitt is one of the blogs I read every day. I usually like and agree with Mr. Hewitt's take on politics and have a lot of respect for his opinion even when I do disagree with him. Such is the case now. Hugh has posted his reaction to the movement among conservatives to block Arlen Specter from the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The real rub occurred when Specter the day after the election re-stated (in so many words) his commitment to Roe v. Wade as judicial precedent. His commitment would have the very real possibility of chilling some of the President's nominations to the bench who might otherwise be inclined to overturning Roe.

Hugh's Reaction is one I disagree with. I have three and half points in response to his post.

1. Opposing Specter's chairmanship would be good pro-life politics. Hugh says that he understands that Specter has been no friend of the pro-life movement. He also says that removing Specter would be bad politically for the pro-life movement. I think he is wrong because pro-lifers have been getting restless for some time with the GOP's lack of concrete action on the issue of abortion. Pro-life groups form the core base of the Republican Party, serving their interests would be expected, natural and would be an action that wouldn't involve the courts or any contentious legislation. This would be an easy yet necessary victory for the pro-life movement. Besides, causing panic and alarm at the New York Times is something that the President's majority would enjoy seeing very much.

2. Changing Committee Chairmanships would hardly be fatal to the operations or nature of the Senate. Hugh claims in part
Institutions that are destabilized for expediency's sake do not regain stability after a convenient alteration. That was the lesson of the Roman Revolution, where a series of departures from settled precedent in the name of urgent expediency eventually brought down the entire structure
I am going to go out on a limb here and recall that Senators have been forced from their Committee assignments and the like with no visible harm being done to the body. Trent Lott was forced out because of stupid and rash comments and the Senate functioned properly. Patrick Leahey was forced from the Senate Intelligence Committee because of leaks back in the day with no harm being done. If keeping Specter from the Judiciary chair would have this negative effect on the institution, then one had better consider midstream changes in leadership positions like the ones cited above as being harmful as well.

3. Who is in Charge Matters. Hugh further argues that what is far important an argument and what might be lost in all of the brewhaha over Specter is the makeup of the committee as a whole. I am going to agree with his point here. Making sure the president's nominees can survive a wayward Republican and having a debate on "blue slips" and filibusters of the nominees is something that should be tackled as well. I would point out, however, that the chairman's spot DOES matter. It is the chairman who determines who will and who won't receive a vote of the committee. The chairman is also responsible for setting the agenda and the list goes on. Given Specter's liberal voting record, I don't want to take the chance that the chairman of the committee will embarrass the president over judicial nominations.

3.5. Finally, I will be honest that part of my motivation comes from the possibility of seeing Specter finally receive a little comeuppance for shooting from the lip like he did. I am a sore spectator from his primary win back in April against Pat Toomey and I consider him an embarrassment for Pennsylvania and for my beloved party generally. The fact that he would go to the mat for the "right" of adults to kill innocent babies is an intolerable state for him to be in. I want to see him suffer a little bit for his actions and this would be a great way to finally catch up to the veteran lawmaker.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?