Smokers everywhere are used to being pushed outside to use their product, even in inclement weather. In the last few years, smokers have found an alternative: Electronic cigarettes. There is no question that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, though there is some dispute over whether "second hand vapor" is harmful. (If so, it certainly isn't nearly as harmful as second hand smoke.) There is some evidence the vapor is not harmful at all:
Rather, electronic cigarettes users exhale a vapor and a study conducted by Professor Igor Burstyn of the Drexel University School of Public Health concluded that claims regarding chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor were detected only "in trivial levels that pose no health risk" and are far below current "workplace standards for involuntary exposures."
But that lack of evidence is not good enough, because even non-smokers using a product that looks like a cigarette are being targeted. It is not surprising that New York City, with the most obnoxious nanny-state mayor in the country, is considering jumping on this bandwagon and banning use of e-cigarettes in "public places." Erika Sward of the American Lung Association sums up the attitude perfectly:"We don't want to have people now exposed to e-cigarette second-hand emissions until we know more about them."
That is great. We have no idea if second-hand water vapor from e-cigarettes is dangerous or not, but let's go ahead and ban it because cigarettes are icky. Never mind that these are not cigarettes and there is no smoking going on. RushLimbaugh had a hilarious reaction to running into these wannabe nannies when he was in Hawaii.
Enter the Indiana University trustees, who are considering banning the use of e-cigarettes on campus. Electronic cigarettes have been a way for some employees to stop using cigarettes completely, which is what the university wants and encourages. The problem with things like patches and gum is that it doesn't replicate the motion that smokers are used to using. Treating electronic cigarettes exactly like traditional cigarettes is absurd.
Is it really too much to ask that we treat adults like adults, and made policy decisions based on facts instead of emotions? Do we really need Nanny Government managing our lives for us?
There was a time in this nation where being expected to pay your own way was normal. These days, telling someone to pay for something herself is "oppressive" and violates her "constitutional rights," according to the Left and the chief socialist, Barack Obama. This mutilation of the Constitution would have shocked the men who wrote the document to protect Americans from government abuse of power. We have officially become insane.
Enter Hobby Lobby and the battle over ObamaCare's birthcontrolmandate. Hobby Lobby's owners do not want to be forced to provide birth control that can act as an abortifacient, because of their Christian beliefs.
Before the 60's radicals began transforming this nation into something it was never intended to be, this would have been unthinkable. If you want birth control, then you can pay for it yourself. As I have pointed out in the past, birth control is inexpensive, easily affordable to even those earning fairly low wages.
But see, that's not good enough for the radical feminists. The employer must be forced to pay for drugs that act as abortifacients, because not doing so would constitute the employer denying birth control to their female employees. In this twisted world, saying that the employee should pay for something out of the wages paid to her by her employer places her boss in between her and her doctor.
Where are we going to stop? Should employers be required to buy their employees food or gasoline? Should the employer make sure to provide a house, a cell phone and an Internet connection? What about cable television? Is it really too much to ask that the employee buy what he or she wants with the wages paid by the employer?
This whole debate is absurd. No one is trying to deny any prescription drugs to anyone. The fact that we are even having a debate over whether government should mandate this demonstrates how far we have moved away from the principles of limited government and individual liberty that this nation was founded to protect.
Warning: I am going to spoil this movie. If you plan on watching it (which I do not recommend) watch it before you read this.
When I watch a movie, whether streaming, on DVD or in the theater, I just want to be entertained. Movies are a way for me to enjoy myself for a couple hours. Unless the movie is a political satire (such as the parody of Sarah Palin that was obvious in the trailer for Iron Sky) I do not need to get a sermon. This is where White House Down falls flat.
To be fair, White House Down is the movie that Olympus Has Fallen was trying to be. OHF sets the stage for a grand political conspiracy and then falls into becoming a Die Hard clone. WHD at least provides an explanation for how all of this is happening that is plausible enough to suspend disbelief if you do not think about it too much. The problem is that the movie is ridiculously partisan.
I knew from the trailer that this movie would be a love letter to Barack Obama, with the energetic young black President (James Sawyer) showing how awesome he is by using a rocket launcher and so forth. I did not expect it to be so openly partisan. I was surprised this was PG-13 and not R, because of the level of violence and the language, including Sawyer/Obama dropping the F-Bomb.
The villains, of course, are a who's who of boogeymen to the Left. Evil corporations that do not want to lose defense contracts (think Halliburton) are angry with Obama/Sawyer for an unprecedented peace deal in the Middle East that results in pulling U.S. troops out of the region. A secret service agent bitter over the death of his son in a raid on terrorists works with the evil corporations and some white supremacists (naturally) to take down the President.
They also have another powerful man on the inside: Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson, an obvious stand-in for John Boehner. He warns Obama/Sawyer that he cannot support the President's brave peace plan because he needs the campaign contributions from defense contractors. Raphelson/Boehner becomes President when Obama/Sawyer and the Vice President have been presumed dead (Obama/Sawyer was not dead, though the V.P. was) and Raphelson/Boehner immediately moves to expand U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
Of course, Obama/Sawyer and Cale defeat the terrorists and Obama/Sawyer exposes Raphelson/Boehner as being behind the whole plot - something that Obama/Sawyer figured out on his own, because Obama/Sawyer is so far ahead of anyone else that we cannot comprehend his brilliance. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.
Once I saw who directed this, I was not surprised. The director is Roland Emmerich, who also brought us a two hour long sermon about protecting the environment disguised as a cool disaster movie.
The movie itself was watchable and enjoyable, but the political nonsense ruined it. Had the propaganda been removed (or at least minimized) this would have been so much better. If you want to show Obama/Sawyer is cool and can handle a rocket launcher, fine. The other stuff was completely unnecessary and comes off as more of a campaign commercial than as a popcorn movie with lots of gunfire and explosions.
You are a monstrous and disgusting liar. You have spewed your putrid bigotry enough on these pages. Go away now. There are places on the internet for people like you, but a community forum is not one of them.
This type of comment illustrates the tendency of the Left to not just disagree, but to actively try to silence those who hold an opinion Leftists dislike - especially on social issues. It is much easier to silence opposition than to engage on the field of ideas, and namecalling is much easier than logical argumentation. Anonymity encourages this behavior.
Some calls for self-censorship do not even make sense. A comment on my letter to the editor last month went like this:
Scott go away and stop try to force your beliefs on everyone else... Believe what you want but STOP trying to force it on everyone else... Get a life of your own and get out of ours!
The amusing thing here is that is exactly what I was advocating in my letter to the editor. I am taking a pro-choice position, while the Monroe Counbty Democratic Party is taking an anti-choice posiution. If someone wants to donate to Planned Parenthood, they can write a check instead of forcing everyone to do so. But rather than engage on the issues, the response is "Shut up! Stop posting! Stop writing letters to the editor!"
Sometimes, the reaction is depraved and perverted obscenity in an attempt to bully conservatives into silence. We saw this nationally with MSNBC personality Martin Bashir, who suggested that someone should urinate and defecate in Sarah Palin's mouth after a comment she made criticizing Barack Obama.
Some people compared Bashir's despicable suggestion to Rush Limbaugh's remarks about Sandra Fluke in early 2012. There are two critical distinctions here. Limbaugh called Fluke names, while Bashir suggested that someone violently assault Sarah Palin in a dehumanizing and degrading manner. Bashir's remarks were exponentially worse than what Limbaugh said. The other distinction is that Limbaugh's remarks were off the cuff, while Bashir's remarks were prepared in advance. He knew exactly what he was going to say well before he said it.
If the Left's ideas are superior, let's leave this perverted depravity behind and hear some logical argumentation.
Stories about the so-called "knockout game" have lit up conservative media over the last couple months, and have led to a number of stories in the mainstream media too. While this is a very serious matter, let's all take a deep breath and not make this into something bigger than it is. We certainly do not need to use it to stir up racial animosity, as Will Wright points out.
The knockout game is real and instances of it have been well-documented. Some of the attacks, including a sub-human puddle of slime and filth who knocked out a 76 year old woman. What kind of effeminate coward does that? But this is not an epidemic and you are not in danger of being sucker-punched by every young black male you see. (And that is the pop culture's impression of what is going on here - out of control black youths.)
Where I disagree with Wright is his dishonest characterization of the Trayvon Martin shooting, painting it as "a black teenager walking where he had the right to be" and ignoring Martin's brutal beating of a neighborhood watch volunteer that could have been fatal. By bringing the Martin case into the discussion over the "knockout game" and ignoring the most critical aspect of the case, Wright discredits himself and cripples his own argument.
Nonetheless, it is legitimate to be concerned that irresponsible pundits are making this "game" seem much bigger than it is encourages more distrust and outright racism. This country has a long and shameful history of casting young black men ad out of control predators. We saw this with the horrific murder of Emmett Till and the shameful fraudulent case against the men falsely accused of a demonic "wilding" attack on a Central Park jogger. The real culprit was not identified until many years later.
Let's chill out. Find the people who are doing this, aggressively prosecute them and put them away. But don't blame an entire class of people for the actions of a few, in response to a "game" that is not nearly as widespread as the media would have you believe.
We certainly do not need a bunch of busybody meddling legislators passing more laws to address the game. Assault, battery, attempted murder and murder are already illegal. We do not need more laws to criminalize things that are already against the law. Just prosecute the criminals responsible and punish them as harshly as legally possible.
I have installed Disqus for comments, but they only work on the desktop version of the blog. Disqus does not show up if you are using a mobile browser. If you want to comment, you need to use a desktop PC or a laptop, because a smartphone (or an iPod Touch) will not bring up Disqus. Sorry.
In a December 2 letter to the editor, the author asks if I would agree that his "taxes should not be used (unconstitutionally) to subsidize school vouchers for private parochial schools."
Actually, I would agree, and I said so in a February 2011 letter to the editor. Addressing the controversy over funding Planned Parenthood in a March 2005 letter to the editor, I said "these controversies would disappear if the city council would eliminate these subsidies and let us choose for ourselves what charities we will support." There is no need for an admonition to be "consistent."
If it were up to me, there would be no social services funding program at either the city or county level. I certainly do not support vouchers, due to the danger of government meddling in the operations of private schools. Furthermore, I do not want to subsidize schools that teach false religions such as Islam, and if I support tax dollars going to Christian schools my standing to oppose vouchers for a Muslim school is shaky at best.
The best option is for tax dollars to only fund the essential functions of a limited government. For local government, this would include things such as police, fire protection and courts. If government is not involved in vouchers to religious schools or subsidizing private charities (including faith-based charities, an idea George W. Bush foolishly promoted) then we will not be having arguments about where those funds should go.
I had to intentionally shut off my brain and enjoy the gunfire and explosions because that movie makes NO sense. When I started thinking about it, I was going nuts. So I had to intentionally not think at all.
Bruce Willis is playing a video game with God Mode turned on, and Superboy Prime punched reality. There, that explains it. Boom. Bang bang.
A common thread running through heresy is that it places man at the center of our faith, rather than the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12:2) The worship of the golden calf by the Israelites who had just been rescued from Egypt was little more than an excuse for rampant and obscene sexual immorality, and the heresy of works-based salvation allows us to proclaim our own righteousness rather than rely upon Jesus' sacrifice to atone for our sin.
The "health and wealth gospel" (HAWG from here on) follows this same path. While pretending to worship God, HAWG proponents actually worship their own bellies. They turn Almighty God into a genie with unlimited wishes, and we only have to ask "god" to provide us with whatever we want and he will give it to us. If we have enough faith, we will have material possessions, good health, children and more.
Now, of course God loves to give His children good things. Luke 11:11-13 is a wonderful example of that. But we are not entitled to anything simply because we have faith. The people of God have always experienced suffering, from everyday heartaches to war, famine, disease, natural disasters and so on. Jesus promised us in John 15:20 that we will be persecuted by this world for following Him. Proponents of HAWG would call Jesus Christ a liar.
Man was created to worship and glorify God. That is what we were meant to do, but HAWG reverses that. In the backwards world of HAWG, our Father in Heaven exists to please and glorify us by giving us whatever we want! Instead of obeying and serving God, we are served by a divine Santa Claus in Heaven. It is perverse and disgusting. Do not fall for the anti-Biblical heresy of HAWG and run away from preachers and churches that teach this blasphemy.
If you turn on the television to a religious channel or attend certain churches, you will hear that if you pray hard enough or have enough faith, that God will grant you good health as well as financial success. This is commonly called the "health and wealth gospel" and, as with many heresies, there are scriptures one can find to support it. Matthew 7:7-11 is an example. But the idea that we can pray our way to earthly riches and good health is simply not supported by Scripture.
First, we have the example of the Apostle Paul. One of the greatest servants of Jesus Christ who has ever lived, Paul wrote 13 books of the Bible that are critical to our understanding of the Christian faith, especially justification by grace through faith. But Paul also had what he called a "thorn in the flesh", which many Bible scholars believe was a serious physical ailment. If one could be healed if he only had enough faith, wouldn't Paul be the first one to be relieved of his ailment? But The Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Of course, Jesus Christ was poor throughout his life, noting at one point that "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20) If all that is standing between us and earthly prosperity is simply having more faith and praying, then why was Jesus Christ Himself basically homeless? Did Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God who was without sin and whose death takes away all of the sins of the world, simply not have enough faith in His Father?
Of course, there were more examples. David, who was chased and persecuted by King Saul; the prophets who were murdered; Steven, who was stoned to death for preaching the Word; and the violent deaths of the Apostles. The list goes on and on, with the most obvious refutation of this heresy being the Book of Job. According to the "health and wealth gospel" heresy, all of these great men would have enjoyed prosperity and healing if they only had more faith. How arrogant is it to claim that earthly prosperity is ours to claim, as if the great men and women of God throughout all time who suffered in this life did not have enough faith?
In fact, in Psalm 73 the writer speaks of how he is jealous because the wicked prosper here on earth, and his faith was shaken. If earthly prosperity is the result of faith in and obedience to God, why would the wicked prosper while the righteous do not? If financial prosperity was a sign of faith and obedience, then why did Jesus say that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)? According to the "health and wealth gospel", being rich is evidence that someone is following God.
Both physical health and financial success can be idols to our hearts. Furthermore, we can become filled with pride (which is a form of idolatry) if we believe that earthly blessings are a result of us somehow "deserving" them by having enough faith. As if the Creator could ever owe anything to the created! Everything we have is a result of God's wise and holy will, and we do not "deserve" anything from Him. And in truth, that is the most liberating thing of all, because we know that God is in absolute control.
The Monroe County Council's decision to give another handout to Planned Parenthood shows a fundamental lack of seriousness about the community services grant program and a lack of respect for both taxpayers and other social service agencies.
In the application PP submitted to the council, they admitted they took in $160,000 more than they spent up to that point in their fiscal year. PP's revenue over expenses was 160% of the total the council distributed on November 12.
This is shameful. Planned Parenthood clearly does not need the money they got from the council, and that money could do much more good elsewhere. If we are going to subsidize social service agencies, the money should go to organizations that actually need it, not organizations that have a huge budget surplus.
Since PP did not need the money, why are they asking for a handout? They already get a grant every year from the city of Bloomington's social services funding program. This handout was a political endorsement, nothing more.
Finally, Planned Parenthood performs the barbaric act of abortion, and pro-life taxpayers should not be forced to fund such an organization, regardless of whether or not the grant goes to "abortion services."
In the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, several school officials have been charged with crimes.
If we want a real and meaningful punishment for criminal behavior by government school officials, then severe and draconian financial penalties for the school itself is by far the most effective way to terrorize the school into making sure no employee of the school ever covers up a crime like this again.