There are many things to be thankful for in America. If you’re reading this, you’re alive… let’s not forget the big things. We don’t have Hillary Clinton in the White House. Stranger Things 2 was really good. Neil Gorsuch. Longmire finally released its final season. I could go on about all the blessings I’ve received, but I want to turn your attention to a heartwarming story in Philadelphia.

Last month, Kate McClure found herself stranded, out of gas, in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia. She was approached by a shadowy, disheveled figure late at night as she walked to the gas station. He stopped her and told her to go back to her car. Lock the door, he said. He’s got this covered.

With his last $20, homeless veteran Johnny Bobbit Jr. got gas and brought it back to McClure. She made it to her destination safely. She and her boyfriend returned to thank Bobbit with food and clothes, but they felt they needed to do more. They set up a GoFundMe page and hoped to get $10,000 for two-months rent and possibly some transportation.

Donations are so high – nearly a quarter of a million dollars as of the posting of this article – that he has asked her to stop accepting donations and to use the exposure they’re getting to ask people to find other worthy causes.

As we eat our turkey, watch our football (which I won’t be doing – I’m one of those pesky NFL boycotters), and spend time with friends and family, it’s good to know there are people out there helping their fellow man.

For Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good idea to do a few interviews with people on what they were thankful for. I was given this chance at our Thanksgiving party at work asking those attending if they would care to answer the question “What are you thankful for?” on camera. Three people took me up on it. The first person was Hisham who came to the US from Iraq and gave his answer in Arabic

Hisham’s answer was echoed by Kenny from Brooklyn

What I found interesting is that both Hisham coming from thousands of miles away and Kenny coming a place as American as you can get gave answers that for most of American History would have been a quite unremarkable, Yet in our current cultural climate they very much stand out.

Finally I spoke to Hannah whose answer to this question really speaks to what this American Holiday is.

In an age where privileged college students complain about “microaggressions” and girl scouts are warned against hugging people at Thanksgiving dinner Hannah’s answer reminds us how lucky we are to live in a country where both freedom and safety are things that are so common that we tend to take them for granted.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of yours.

Related stories come to us from Connecticut and California, where “anti-abortion” centers (in the parlance of the Hartford Courant) are getting some pushback.

From the Courant, 11/10/17:

The city is looking to crack down on faith-driven crisis pregnancy centers, which critics say sometimes pose as clinics to lure women and hand out misleading information about abortions.

Under a measure headed for the city council, the so-called anti-abortion centers in Hartford would be required to disclose whether staff members have medical licenses, and would be banned from engaging in false or deceptive advertising practices.

When abortion advocates like NARAL start talking about “deliberate misinformation and lies,” I’m a bit skeptical. Why the sudden concern? Aha: the Hartford Women’s Center, where abortions are neither provided nor promoted, opened up in May just behind an abortion facility. The facility’s supporters find the proximity irksome.

Not content to mutter darn pro-lifers, stay outta my yard, Hartford-area abortion promoters are trying to get themselves an ordinance. But there’s this thing about ordinances: they come with public hearings. Ten days after the Courant article was published, the hearing on the proposed ordinance drew a packed house.  CBS Connecticut reported that pro-life advocates outnumbered NARAL’s allies.

Outcome is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, out on the left coast, a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information (in large font in a “conspicuous place”) about state-funded abortions is headed to the Supreme Court. 

Apparently, business is so lousy at California abortion facilities that the state must compel other facilities to help provide advertising for abortion services.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California law, which is no surprise, since…well, Ninth Circuit. Similar laws in Maryland and New York have been struck down in other Circuits. With divided conclusions and a First Amendment issue before it, the Supreme Court agreed this month to take the California case.

I have no doubt that abortion facility operators in every state are watching Hartford’s proposed ordinance and California’s law to see what happens.

In my state’s largest city, a pro-life pregnancy help center opened a couple of years ago just around the corner from a Planned Parenthood office. It’s hard to believe that the $23 million PP affiliate might ever feel threatened by the storefront operation that serves pregnant and parenting women with clothing, equipment, and referrals.

Then again, I find it hard to believe that any state actually passed a law like California’s or that any city contemplated an ordinance like the one proposed in Hartford. Eternal vigilance is the price of service, when the service is providing and promoting alternatives to abortion.

 

In the late 1960s the counterculture set out to destroy societal mores. Free love, legal abortions at any point in the pregnancy, drug use, destruction of the establishment, damn the consequences.

The 60s generation rebelled against their parents’s standards where men were expected to be gentlemen and women ladies.

I was not one of the anti-establishment crowd. Even back then I didn’t see the use of tearing down society . . . for what? Some 10 years ago, my son, who at that time was the same age I was during the Summer of Love, asked me where I was during Woodstock, and all I could answer was, “probably at home preparing for the SATs.”

Now the headlines have discovered sexual harassment.

My Facebook feed popped up some posts by women SJW activists who blame white men. Their default stance is to blame the patriarchy, Western Culture, and white men, regardless of the fact that it is Western, Judeo-Christian values codified and enforced by (mostly) white men that have brought about women’s equality under the law.

It’s worth pointing out that SJWs characteristically do not hold the individual responsible. If Charlie Rose, age 75, allegedly strips down and makes unwelcome advances, the patriarchy’s to blame and not that Charlie is allegedly a perv.

There’s another problem: Andrew Klavan mentions that

the New York Times, a former newspaper, now has a tip line where you can complain about something sexual someone famous did to you back in the day.

Klavan continues,

USA Today has a running list of Hollywood sexual offenders and I was reading through it and came upon the charges against Dustin Hoffman. The now 80-year-old Hoffman is accused of talking dirty to one woman and inviting another woman on a date some 30-odd years ago. And you know what? I don’t care. Not even a little. I think Harvey Weinstein, assuming he’s guilty, should go to prison for what he did and I think what Hoffman allegedly did shouldn’t even be mentioned in the papers. When they’re both on the same list, the whole list becomes a moral blur.

Human life is complicated. Sexuality is one of the most complicated parts of human life. Some people make errors, other people corner you in the basement and bang off in front of you, and still other people tell lies. If any voice can be raised against any man and illicit the same level of outrage, all voices will eventually blend into a silence of obscurity and indifference — and that’s a kind of silence that’s very difficult to break.

There’s yet another problem, about which a Facebook friend posted: “The system of the social left, both apparatus and reflex, is structured to be distributed and unpredictable.” The aim is not toleration, respect for women, or encouraging strong moral men to protect women.  The proximate step may be to generate fear and confusion, but the ultimate goal is control.

As it always has been.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Mayim Bialik not withstanding there is a lot to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving for Americans and those lucky enough to come here. And one of the things we have to be thankful for is Capitalism perfectly Illustrated by of all things rotisserie chickens sold by Market Basket stores.

If you go to any Market Basket you will find rotisserie chickens for sale. At the one closest to my house you can either buy a small chicken for $4.69 or a Perdue giant Roaster for $8.99 fully cooked and ready to eat.

The small chicken can feed two people easy and the big one can handle a family of four with no trouble.

Now you might be thinking: “Datechguy, so what? It’s a Rotisserie chicken, big deal!” To that I say: Yes it is!

Consider that for most of human history the vast majority of mankind has lived hand to mouth.  Even if you had good soil and ample water to grow crops you were one bad storm, one turn of the weather or one barbarian/bandit raid away from starvation.

Peasant:  He never steals all our food.  He leaves us enough to go on with.  That’s something.

The Magnificent Seven 1960

And even if you had access to food, unless you lived near the wilderness meat was a big luxury

Sir William: It may interest you to know that I’ve just been down in the kitchens. Do you know what our minions were feasting on, broth! And do you know what was in the broth, meat, MEAT!

His Lady: They have to put something in the broth.

Sir William: But not meat! Do you know the price of beef in Nottingham? It’s eating money!

The Adventures of Robin Hood The Miser 1956

And if you were poor or a common person you were happy enough to get a meal, any meal.

Sarah Jane Smith: Is all this for Irongron?
Meg: Him and his chamber guard.
Sarah Jane Smith: How many’s that?
Meg: Half a dozen. You’re full of questions, girl.
Sarah Jane Smith: Don’t the guards on the gate get stew?
MEG: What, meat for those common creatures? I should say not. They’ll have oatmeal the same as the rest of us, and lusty enough they are on that

Doctor Who The Time Warrior 1973

This has been the norm for most of human history.

Yet here in the west in general and the United States in particular this is not the case.

Consider, in Massachusetts the Minimum wage is $11 an hour while in the country as a whole said wage is $7.25 an hour, while Market Basket sells those chickens for $4.65 for the small and $8.99 for the huge Perdue roaster.

What does that mean, it means this:

If you are a person without education, without skills and only able to get a job doing simple manual labor.  For the price of not even a single hour of labor you can afford a meal of fresh meat fully cooked, and if you have a family you can even afford the big roaster (although if you are from out of state you might have to work a full 90 minutes to afford the Perdue model bird) to feed your entire family for the day.

That sentence alone is incredible in human history but there is an even bigger significance to it.

Not only is the poor person able to afford that chicken but the Market Basket chain is able to sell them that chicken while still managing to pay:

The employees who cooked wrapped and put out the chickens for sale
The truckers who deliver the chickens
The farmers who produced the chickens

and Still make a profit!

That is the result of capitalism, and freedom.  Capitalism, a system that allows and provides a reward for a person seeking to make a profit from their labors and a government free enough to allow this system to work.  It’s the combination of capitalism and the freedoms provided by western civilization in general and the United States in particular that allow this system to work.

It’s also why so regardless of how the academic left, the media and the professional left keep decrying the west as awful and capitalism as an evil repressive scourge, real people who know real repression and real hunger all over the world do all they can to get to the west in general and the US in particular, because they understand this underlying truth.

The only reason why so many in America have the luxury of professing socialism is because they live in a capitalistic society that keeps them fed 

because if they lived under the Venezuelan socialism that they so often espouse they’d be too busy trying to find food to proclaim how awesome socialism is.

I’ll leave you with these two tweets.  Kevin D Williamson who is a pretty bright fellow tweeted this out last week in response to a map showing that half the country lived in blue urban islands.

He’s close but not quite.

That’s the miracle of American freedom and Capitalism. It means that millions of folks like myself are fed because our Capitalistic system not only provides enough profit for others to make a living producing the food we need instead of having to grow it or hunt it ourselves but it provides a huge surplus that is given away to the poor all over the world, moreover it continues to provide incentives to drive people to do it better and cheaper every single day.

Capitalism as practiced in the US makes this anomaly of human history not only possible but so common that most people who are fed this way rarely if ever reflect on it.

If that’s not something to be thankful for I’d like to know what is?


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by baldilocks

Wretchard goes long on the unmasking of the two Hollywoods:

In the unending exposes of financial, moral and sexual turpitude we are witnessing a similar humiliation of a ruling elite. The critical role played by prestige in upholding the current status quo was no less important for the Western elite than it was for the old District Commissioners. Not so very long ago the elites were accepted as woke, part of the mission civilisatrice; better educated, better looking, better dressed, destined to greater things, the smartest people in the room.  They could pronounce on matters of morality, politics and even the climate.  What a shock it was to find through the Internet and social media it was all a sham; and these gods of Washington and Hollywood and the media were deeply flawed and despicable people.

Given the lack of quality control and penchant for recruiting rather than expelling the scandalous it’s amazing in retrospect the prestige lasted so long.  All the same, now their fallibility has been exposed under the spotlight of technological innovation, the spell is broken.  The elites may still rule but the sullen masses no longer flock to their door as they did of old.  Perhaps the single most destabilizing political development since the WW2 has been the destruction of ruling class prestige by the Internet.

I’ve read that, before World War II, those of the entertainment class were regarded as little better than pimps and prostitutes. Perhaps that has never actually changed; they simply have been giving the public a massive, long-running stage performance – where the stage is our perception of them. And now the show’s over.

But what about those other actors? The ones we are forced to pay?

In case you haven’t paid attention to the news today, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been exposed – if you’ll pardon

Conyers’ come-hither look

the expression – as a serial sexual harasser. Meh. His creepiness has always been as plain as the leer on his face, at least to me. But he has paid at least one victim off with tax money. He is far from the only one. Very far.

Congress makes its own rules about the handling of sexual complaints against members and staff, passing laws exempting it from practices that apply to other employers. (…)

Congressional employees have received small settlements, compared with the amounts some public figures pay out. Between 1997 and 2014, the U.S. Treasury has paid $15.2 million in 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations, according to the congressional Office of Compliance. The statistics do not break down the exact nature of the violations.

15 million dollars of tax money over two decades. And they hid it by disguising it as employee bonuses. But the victims will receive the money only if they keep their mouths shut. What I want to know is who the other congressional harassers  are.

You might have noticed that I haven’t commented on the Roy Moore situation at all. Why not? Because I don’t live in Alabama and there’s too much he-said/they-said, too much fishy evidence, and far, far too much Gloria Allred. If the accusations are true, Moore can’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. Therefore, one way or the other, if the voters want him as their US Senator, it’s their business.

I really don’t care about the legal sex lives of Pretty Hollywood or Ugly Hollywood, as long as I don’t have to give them my money to clean up their messes. And at least with Pretty Hollywood – and with the National Felon League – I can’t be extorted by them for hush-money.

Therefore, Ugly Hollywood is far uglier and far more dangerous than the Pretty one.

As one of my friends pointed out, the Founding Fathers would be OPSEC OPSEC OPSEC by now.

RELATED: Short Observation on the Two Hollywoods

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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As a first-year student at the University of San Francisco, I arrived just days after Manson and his evil crew had murdered seven people. I still remember the frightening photograph of Manson on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle that arrived outside my dorm room.

At the time, California was in a high state of anxiety and fear. The brutal murders had scared almost everyone.

Manson and his followers had spent time near USF, which is located just a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury, where the 1967 “Summer of Love” occurred.

Hippies arrived from throughout the country to create a community based on ill-conceived ideas, drugs, and music. During 1967, psychedelic music entered the mainstream. Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” became a hit that year. The Monterey Pop Festival in June further cemented the status of psychedelic music as a part of mainstream culture and elevated local Haight bands, such as the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane to stardom.

The neighborhood also attracted Manson, a longtime loser who was in and out of prison.

By the time I got to San Francisco only two years later, Haight had become a crime-ridden and heroin-infested place where only those who sought danger and hardcore drugs dared to visit. It’s also where Manson had collected a crew of fellow losers bent on evil.

As The New York Times noted: “To a frightened, mesmerized public, the murders, with their undercurrents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved logical extension of the anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.”

Let’s face it. The hippie culture—in which I was once a willing participant—provided the basis for many of society’s ills both then and now, from drug use to sexual deviancy.

Less than a decade later I reported about the deaths of 900 people in Guyana at hands of Jim Jones, another depraved leader who emerged from the same primordial ooze of San Francisco.

Like much of today’s media try to explain “motives” for mass murderers, many news organizations analyzed Manson’s actions as the result of an abusive childhood and a mental disorder.

In a neck-snapping analysis of Manson’s “human” side, The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin argues: “For those who have faith in an afterlife, I suppose there’s some solace in imagining he will get his karmic comeuppance. But it makes more sense to me to see him as an agent of the hells we create on Earth.

“Manson was a killer, yes, and he was a psychopath, but he was never otherworldly. The violence and the hatred he embodied may be his most human attribute.”

It’s hard to untangle the logical fallacies in those two paragraphs.

But there’s more. Newsweek had this headline: How Murderer Charles Manson and Donald Trump Used Language to Gain Followers.

Seriously?

There’s a far better explanation for Manson. He was the embodiment of evil without any motive other than his desire to control people and to kill others. Unfortunately, he got more than 15 minutes of fame.

Throughout his years in prison, Manson denied having ordered the murders. Neither did he feel remorse about the killings as he said during an interview with Charlie Rose.

“So you didn’t care?” Rose asked.

“Care?” Manson replied. “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”

May he rot in hell!

You know it was a lot easier when we were able to just call Democrats the Harvey Weinstein / Kevin Spacey Left.

Now we have to call them the Bill Clinton / Harvey Weinstein / Kevin Spacey / Al Franken / Charlie Rose / Glenn Thrush / Oliver Stone / John Coyners / Jeffrey Tambor left.

Given the way things are going it all reminds me of this scene from the hilarious movie from 1961 One Two Three.

Peripetchikoff: Look my young friend, I don’t want to be name dropper but what do you think Khrushchev did to Malenkov? What do you think Stalin did to Trotsky

Otto Piffl: Is everybody in this world corrupt?

Peripetchikoff: I don’t know everybody.

As Glenn Reynolds put it:

Now we can see why lefty media folks think America is a “rape culture:” The part of America they inhabit is.

I make the over/under for the number of new liberals losing jobs or being suspended for sexual issues before the end of the year at six. I’ll play the over.

It’s forgivable that Ben Franklin didn’t include governmental bureaucracies with death and taxes as being the only certainties of life. After all, he died 143 years before that other Franklin – Roosevelt – laid the groundwork for the America’s administrative state.

This revelation came to me in early October, five days after my wife passed away, when a letter from the Social Security Administration notified me I was entitled to $255 in spousal survivor death benefits. The funeral home had reported the death a day after it happened, so I was surprised by how quickly the SSA sprang into action.

The letter told me to call a toll-free number about the benefit claim, which I promptly did. After going through an irritating introductory robo spiel (“What are you calling about?” etc.), the cheerful electronic voice promised to connect me to the right person. Instead, I got a recording telling me I had an estimated wait time of 45 minutes before I could talk to a human being.

I called twice more at different times over the next two days and got the same results. Then I realized how lucky I had been to get that far when the recording said, “All our lines are busy. Please try again later,” on my fourth call.

After several more fruitless phone calls during the following week, I checked the Social Security website for a solution. As I anticipated, there was no way to file a death benefit claim online, but it did mention that I could call my local SSA office instead of Washington.

I punched in a number, told the operator what I needed and was transferred to a phone that was picked up by a person. “Aha!” I thought. “I’m finally getting this done” No such luck.

The representative I spoke with offered his sincere condolences and took down my basic information. He then told me he was only a middle man – to actually file my claim, I still would have to talk to someone in Washington, but he could schedule a time for someone to call me. After doing some checking, he told me the earliest time I could receive a call would be mid-November, nearly six weeks away. I immediately agreed and wrote down the info on my calendar.

Before I hung up, I told the rep my wife and I had needed only short and simple phone calls to sign up for Social Security, so I couldn’t understand why there was such a convoluted process to collect a measly $255. He commiserated with me and said the rigmarole baffled him, too. “I’ve been here for 25 years and have never understood why it isn’t easier to get the death benefit,” he said.

Such are the ways of Rooseveltian bureaucracies.

When I finally received the phone call last Friday, it lasted about 10 minutes and was completely pointless. Instead of asking questions, the rep had me confirm information he obviously had in front of him. The only real question he asked was the city of my birth. When I gave the correct answer, I apparently proved I was not a lowlife trying to cheat Uncle Sam out of a small fortune.

A little background about the spousal death benefit is in order. It was included in the original Social Security Act of 1935, presumably to help grieving wives and husbands pay for their spouses’ burial expenses. The law capped the benefit at 3.5% of a person’s covered earnings, which would have been a maximum of about $315 when the law was adopted. Possibly nobody ever received such a large sum; in 1939, the average payment was $97 (roughly $1,709 in inflated-adjusted dollars).

Congress capped the lump-sum death benefit at $255 in 1954 ($2,388 today), and the limit was retained the last time the provision was overhauled in 1981 ($723 today).

In one respect, I’m glad the size of the benefit hasn’t changed in 63 years – it’s extremely rare when Congress puts on a display of frugality. On the other hand, I feel compassion for the poverty-stricken families who receive such a pittance when they have to bury a loved one. I know people who have spent more than $255 on a pet burial.

But despite the show of thriftiness, the Social Security death benefit – as it’s now constituted – wastes millions of taxpayers’ dollars a year.

It’s not the payouts that are wasteful, it’s the process. How many thousands of SSA employees spend millions of hours every year to take care of phone calls like mine? These are jobs that easily could be replaced by a web page (which probably would be more efficient, too).

Not only would streamlining the system save money, but it also would spare surviving spouses extra grief in their time of mourning.

A “smart gun” is a weapon that requires the shooter to identify themselves before firing. This is not a new idea, and every month a new smart gun is released that promises to fix the problems of the last generation.

As with any new technology, if smart guns are to be successful, their adoption will be driven by those who have most need for them. For handguns, that’s the Police force. No matter how large and dedicated the gun enthusiast community is, the average law enforcement officer will fire more rounds, and be in more dangerous situations, than the vast majority of other gun owners.

To see whether smart guns are going to be the next big thing, then, we should ask the police if they like them. The answer is no.

What Are Smart Guns?

Good question. Smart guns are essentially guns that require some form of security authorization in order to fire. Several approaches to this have been tried, ranging from fingerprint sensors, radio-frequency identification (RFID), to magnets and biometric sensors.

The idea for Smart Guns has been around for quite a while, but the nascent industry was given a huge boost in 2016, when Obama used a speech on gun control to ask: “If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?”

Since then, several companies have tried to develop an “iPhone of guns”, with the Armatix IP1 so far generating the most headlines. Nevertheless, smart guns remain a niche market.

Are They Smart? Are They Guns?

There are many reasons for this, ranging from concerns about the security of such weapons to some slightly absurd laws on their sale.

Let’s take the security issue first. It took approximately 2 weeks for a “hacker” to get around the security features on the Armatix smart gun, using magnets available at your local hardware store. And far from making future weapons more secure, adding new technology to guns might actually make them more vulnerable: reported back in 2015 that computer-enabled sniper rifles could also be hacked, much like websites. Not so smart after all.

Then we have the legal issues. New Jersey passed a law back in 2002 that imposed a time limit: as soon as smart guns were available in the State, “traditional” weapons had to be withdrawn from sale within 3 years. The ensuing backlash, in which local gun shops were threatened, led to the State legislator decreeing that smart guns were not, in fact, guns.

Why Cops Don’t Like Them

Despite nearly 60 per cent of Americans saying that they would purchase a smart gun if given the chance, law enforcement professionals remain unmoved by the new technology.

To see why, we need to consider what kind of weapon police officers carry, and how they carry it. It might not surprise you to learn most officers are pretty old school, carrying a hefty pistol where it can be drawn quickly: think a 1911 pistol in a shoulder holster, not a .22 stuffed down their sock.

This points to the two major reasons why the police force remain skeptical of smart guns: they are not powerful enough, and are still not totally reliable. Technologies like fingerprint scanners, as anyone who has a smart phone knows, simply do not work all the time: all it takes is a dirty sensor, and you will be locked out of your gun. In addition, the most widely available smart guns are chambered in .22, which most police officers regard as completely underpowered for the dangers they face.

Smart gun manufacturers are trying to address these concerns. Smart guns chambered in the more powerful 9mm round are being developed, as are weapons that require a PIN code rather than relying on a fingerprint scanner.

But perhaps the biggest issue blocking the adoption of smart guns is simply that the police do not want to be using untested technology. “Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told Politico at the time of the Obama push. “We have some very, very serious questions.”

Until these questions can be answered, it is very unlikely that smart guns will be adopted by law enforcement. And without that endorsement, they are unlikely to make a splash in the civilian market either.