Cake lawsuit wastes more public money

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As for a man-couple filing a discrimination lawsuit against a north-central Colorado baker, let them eat cake – one of their own making, or one baked in the ever-more-bold rainbow community.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear an appeal from Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who sued cake-maker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop of Lakewood, Colo. During the summer of 2012, Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for Craig and Mullins, citing his objection to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. The Craig-Mullins lawsuit went up the legal ladder from there.

The liberal Colorado Court of Appeals eventually affirmed a state Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to create cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies and required Phillips to comply with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff (which includes members of his own family) and filing quarterly “compliance” reports for two years.

Even though Phillips has lost every legal skirmish so far, he has not given up. Hence, his appeal to the highest court in the land.

“I’ll sell anyone any cake I’ve got,” he wrote last year in a letter to The Denver Post. “But I won’t design a cake that promotes something that conflicts with the Bible’s teachings. And that rule applies to far more than cakes celebrating same-sex marriages. I also won’t use my talents to celebrate Halloween, anti-American or anti-family themes, atheism, racism, or indecency.”

Phillips might have avoided the initial lawsuit and the resulting fallout it has generated if he had simply told the two roosters that his bakery had run out of flour and would not be getting resupplied in time to bake the desired cake.

All joking aside, the plaintiffs’ every litigated step along the way appears to have violated Phillips’ First Amendment rights and his prerogative to operate his business as he sees fit in a free-market republic. Once again, spineless “political correctness” has overwhelmed reasonable good sense, good government and good behavior in a Jeffersonian democracy.

Meanwhile, the Craig-Mullins demand to be treated equally under the law easily could have been satisfied if they had just found another store that would have baked their cake. They might have found a sympathetic baker in the Cap Hill area of Denver. After all, the Mile High city — a mere 8 miles away by car from Lakewood — is reputed to be home to the seventh-largest LGBT population in the nation.

Instead, the unhappy “couple” retained a lawyer and wound up costing the U.S. taxpayer a bundle of time and money in the court system because of a frivolous lawsuit.

Hopefully the high court in Washington will reach a swift decision. Hopefully, in reaching their decision, our supreme justices will not try to overstep the authority of the High Court in the Hereafter.

Worth repeating …

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In 2009, the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger published a letter to the editor as an open letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was written by Dr. Roger Starner Jones, who addressed then-pending federal health-care legislation. The comments by Dr. Jones are just as valid now as they were then.

Jones is a physician who specializes in emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a 722-bed facility in Jackson. His letter was printed under the title “Why Pay for the Care of the Careless?”

Before you cast aspersions on Dr. Jones as having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, consider his background. He grew up in a lower middle-class, single-parent home in the rural hill country of Pontotoc, Miss. While attending public schools, he paid attention in class and did his homework. He ran with the right crowd and stayed out of trouble. His dedication in school resulted in a full-ride scholarship to the prestigious University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. After college, Jones set out for medical school, with everything he owned in three bags. The rest is history.

Once again, Dr. Jones’ letter-writing story teaches us that motivation, not entitlement, is the key to personal success and happiness in life. Here is what he wrote to the Clarion Ledger:

Dear Mr. President:

During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted ​on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care?

I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage  of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of  culture” — a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me.”

Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health​-care difficulties will disappear.

Respectfully,
STARNER JONES, MD

The student reading list that exploded

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Popular author Winston Groom’s character, Mama Gump, schooled her son, Forrest, to get over his self-conscious thoughts about his own mental ability, telling Forrest that “stupid is as stupid does.”

The fictional Forrest Gump blossomed.

But apparently the lesson was lost on Baldwin County (Ala.) school superintendent Eddie Tyler and the county’s board of education. They overreacted when Spanish Fort High School teacher Gene Ponder posted a list of books by conservative and libertarian authors. The idea was that each of his Advanced Placement government and economics students could read just one book off the list over the summer to earn extra academic points.

As he has done for a decade, Ponder posted the list of books, and participation was voluntary.  The list included:

— Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation” by Ronald Reagan.
— “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” by Thomas Sowell.
— “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” by Mark Levin.
— “FairTax: The Truth” by Neal Bootz, John Linder and Rob Woodall.
— “God & Government” by Charles Colson.
— “48 Liberal Lies About American History (That You Probably Learned in School)” by Larry Schweikart.
— “Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America” by Ann Coulter.
— “Climate of Corruption: Politics & Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” by Larry Bell.

Within hours of Ponder listing the books, the complaints started trickling in. Why? Because the liberal left was not represented on the list. Never mind that the liberal point of view is well represented in today’s school textbooks. Forget that the national media is saturated with liberal viewpoints. Even locally, one critic reportedly called the conservative authors “terrifying.”

Seriously? Ronald Reagan – one of the most level-headed, efficient and popular presidents in U.S. history – terrifying? Thomas Sowell — terrifying? Sowell is one of this nation’s premier economists and social theorists. And so on.

Superintendent Tyler noted that Ponder’s reading list was not endorsed by the public-school system. Moreover, Tyler noted, Baldwin County’s system has a process in place to ensure that all reading lists are approved.

In this case, that smacks of political censorship.

This entire matter likely would not have earned public exposure if Tyler and the school board simply would have instructed Ponder to balance his original list by adding some published liberal authors. Saul Alinsky (“Rules for Radicals”) comes to mind. Or how about Mark and Paul Engler (“This Is an Uprising”). Or Michelle Alexander perhaps, who authored “The New Jim Crow.” Or Erica Chenoweth (“Why Civil Resistance Works”).

These last book titles should tell you why Ponder limited his list to books by authors who have earned wide respect and whose morals and principals follow in the footsteps of great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Moreover, the big picture shows that while Baldwin County’s school leaders might be well educated, they seem to come up a quart low on common sense — choosing political correctness over reputable substance.

If a teacher’s job is to educate in a way that builds character, honesty, service, pursuit of the truth and a strong work ethic, then Ponder is doing his job. Unfortunately, dirty politics intervened. And dirty politics eventually will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

A final thought: Wonder if the critics would have come out of the woodwork and would have attracted a “corrective” school-system response if Ponder had posted a list of nothing but left-leaning liberal and socialist authors?

Listen to the rhythm of the words today

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Spin du jure – A tip of the ol’ green eyeshade to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who uttered an apt catch-phrase Wednesday night to describe the Democrats’ unrelenting and unsuccessful preoccupation with Russian interference and alleged high-level U.S. collusion in last November’s presidential election.

Conway called the failing seven months of inquiry the “Russian concussion.” Her comment came during her appearance on Sean Hannity’s FOX-TV talk show.

Conway said that the American electorate is not talking about Russia and its purported role (or lack thereof) in the election.

“You have the Democrats talking about Russia,” she said. “You have (President) Donald Trump and the Republicans talking about America. I’ll take America talk any day over Russia talk.”

Secret? Seriously? — Today, the “secret” is out. Yes, that’s what the mainstream media are calling the Republican plan in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare.

The Democrats have been whining for weeks about the GOP’s work behind closed doors to fashion the bill that already has been leaked to health-industry lobbyists, who then forwarded it to the Washington Post. Is nothing sacred in Washington?

The bill was kept under wraps because it was a work in progress. In the same way, an efficient police department will keep active investigations under wraps. In both cases, the authorities don’t want what’s at stake to be prematurely tried in the court of public opinion.

So, what’s new about keeping secrets on Capitol Hill? Absolutely nothing. The Democrats did the same thing when then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi uttered her now infamous statement about the pending Affordable Care Act championed by Barack Obama in March 2010. That’s when she said: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Keep her around a while – Speaking of Pelosi, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says the voters in California’s 12th District (San Francisco) need to re-elect her at least five more times to keep her around in the U.S. House for the next decade or so.

Gingrich, who appeared on national television Thursday morning, reasons that as long as Pelosi is in the mix, the Democratic initiatives in the House are doomed to failure. Also doomed to oblivion will be the war cry of the Democratic caucus to oppose everything Republican – not on its merits, but because it was spawned by the GOP.

Pelosi is a staunch critic of President Trump and is the firebrand voice of the Democratic caucus in the House. She and Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, have been at odds for years.

In 2008, Gingrich and Pelosi – who then was serving as Speaker of the House — appeared sitting together on a loveseat, making a public-service commercial that addressed the theory of climate change and global warming. Gingrich later said that making that TV ad with Pelosi was “probably the dumbest single thing I’ve done in recent years.”

Please think responsibly, then act accordingly

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Judging by the bucks flying around, you might have believed that a Trump-Clinton rerun was being replayed Tuesday in upstate Georgia. Perhaps it was — but that slant should not have been in the center ring of the political circus.

In Tuesday’s 6th District runoff for a U.S. House seat to represent suburban northwest Atlanta, Republican Karen Handel handily trumped novice Democratic rival Jon Ossoff. Handel (a former Georgia secretary of state) beat Ossoff (a self-described investigative filmmaker) by 52 percent to 48 percent — a margin of nearly 11,000 votes among the 250,000-plus ballots cast.

Most of the media latched onto the hook that the special election reflected the nation’s support (or lack thereof) for President Donald J. Trump, who defeated former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton last November. Indeed, the Handel-Ossoff contest was viewed that way because of the millions of dollars poured into the campaign from beyond the boundaries of the 6th congressional district. At $50 million donated to one side or the other, it was the most expensive political contest in Georgia’s history.

CNN’s report even trumpeted Handel’s victory as “denying Democrats their first major victory of the Donald Trump era.”

But isn’t that view just a little bit myopic? C’mon, you left-leaners. The Handel-Ossoff campaign was about the issues. And the majority of voters in House District 6 favored where Handel stands.

It’s time for reporters and editors alike to put aside the bitterness and acrimony that continue to dominate the fallout from the November election. It’s time to let the influence of social-media bias bite the dust. What the heck has happened to good news judgment? When will we once again read news reports on national politics that reflect not only the truth, but also accuracy and — most importantly — impartiality?

Handel spoke for many in the electorate during her victory speech, when she said voters in both red states and blue states “need to lift up this nation so that we can find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements. Because in these United States of America, no one — no one — should ever feel their life threatened over their political beliefs.”

So, let’s get to it, eh?

And one more thing: In the 6th District race, the pre-election polls  were wrong again. When will the media understand that polls are not news? Poll results do not reflect the broader populace. The results reflect only the opinions of those surveyed. The questionnaires can be “loaded” and/or incomplete, and the sampled areas can be gerrymandered to conform to an expected outcome.

Get it right, or get another job

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Before you join the screaming throngs of leftist liberals calling for more gun controls aimed at assault weapons, take time to get all the facts about Wednesday’s tragedy in Alexandria, Va.

At least two national media reported that “an SKS 7.62 assault-style rifle” was the primary weapon used in Wednesday’s attack. A lone shooter identified as James T. Hodgkinson put several U.S. senators in the crosshairs as they gathered for baseball practice.

But the SKS is NOT an assault rifle, as reported by ABC News and the Chicago Tribune. An estimated 2.7 million of the carbines were manufactured in the former Soviet Union (Russia) during the 1950s. They were mothballed when the AK-47 was developed. As most everyone knows, the AK-47 then morphed into the assault weapon of choice around the planet.

An assault rifle is capable of firing in fully-automatic mode or in a burst of fire, which is a rapid succession of a few rounds.

The SKS is a semi-automatic rifle. It is not capable of burst-firing, nor does it feature a fully automatic selector switch. The SKS — as with many standard rifles — can fire only one round per trigger pull, as opposed to firing continuously when the trigger is engaged. That’s what takes the weapon out of the realm of assault rifles.

Wednesday’s shooter — James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of west-central Illinois — was himself gunned down by security police, but not before he nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded. Three others were wounded as well in the mass-assassination attempt, but none of their injuries was life-threatening.

As for the reports that Hodgkinson’s weapon was an “assault-style rifle,” today’s media reporters as well as the amateurs flooding the social-media pool need to get it right the first time. Otherwise, their overblown and disgusting inaccuracy does nothing but fan the flames of bias and vitriol that are tearing this nation apart.

Time to bury some outdated buzzwords

Wouldn’t it be nice if a few on-air TV personalities and scriptwriters voluntarily scratched a some worn-out words and cliché phrases from their vocabularies?

Who are the targets here? Well, for starters: Madison Avenue copycats, entertainment trendophiles, B-movie actors, Neanderthal sports announcers, mindless political wonks and anyone else with an under-educated public persona.

Actually
Ahyte (the ebonics equivalent of “”all right”)
At the end of the day
Athleticism
Boots on the ground
Buzz-kill
Control their own destiny
En route
(just say “going” or “on the way”)
Freshen up
Get what you deserve
(You don’t deserve anything until you’ve earned it.)
Going forward
Ground game
How does that make you feel?
How does everything taste?
(Aka, the waitress cliché.)
Hydrate
I mean, look. You know …
(the preferred preface to buy time as one thinks of an appropriate answer to an intelligent question)
In a perfect world
Kick the can down the road
Left dead
(as in: The blast left 56 people dead. Just say the explosion killed 56 people.)
Like
(as in: So I, like, told him that, like, I was in pain, like, you know, like actually …)
“Moderate to severe” whatever
On a personal level
Paradigm shift
(most people don’t even understand what that means)
Real people
Shoot the A-gap
Stay with me.
(What every hero commands of the bruised and battered guy on the ground who’s bleeding out and dying.)
Take it to the next level
Sucking all the oxygen out of the room
This is how we roll
Totally
Verticality
(newly coined basketball term to note how high white men and black men can jump)
What have you got?
(a detective-show favorite)
Whether or not
(the word whether implies the “or not” part; “whether or not” is an exasperating redundancy)
You came for me.
(Utterance of a damsel in distress who doesn’t have sense enough to stay out of harm’s way.)

The futile hunt for smoking guns

Fired FBI director James Comey is scheduled to testify today before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee regarding alleged links last year between the campaign of Republican President-elect Donald Trump and suspected Russian operatives seeking to influence last November’s national election.

Comey’s seven-page opening statement is already on the public platter. And it’s about as bland as oatmeal. Moreover, his follow-up testimony is expected to contain enough meat to create a big, fat nothing-burger.

But pot-stirring Democrats with Trump impeachment proceedings on their minds are expected to squirt kerosene on the fire as they seek to grill Comey about the mythical Russia-gate, about the campaign-era activities of Michael Flynn (Trump’s former national security adviser) and about whatever other ill-advised “issues” they can bring to the fore.

Of course, Comey’s testimony is set to happen in two parts – a public hearing in the morning, followed by a second hearing behind closed doors in the afternoon. But given the record for leaked information in Washington these days, it won’t take long for the public to learn what was said in the closed session. Hopefully, Comey’s closed-door statements won’t matter and won’t deviate from what will be learned in the morning Q&A.

It’s time to put all this political hooliganism to rest. U.S. voters want their elected (and so far overly paid) representatives on Capitol Hill to focus on issues that can make a difference to the general populace – such as tax relief, better highways and bridges, more and better-paying jobs, and reducing the federal budget deficit.

How about it, you swamp rats? Or will you be making a concerted effort to ignore the interests of us “deplorables”? The challenge goes double for the national news media.

If it walks like a duck, and if it talks …

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Kyle Olson, writing online in The American Mirror, asks: “Has Nancy Pelosi completely lost her mind?” The simple answer is: Yes.

Olson poses a follow-up question: “Or does she just have to complain about everything President Trump does?” Again, the simple answer is: Yes.

The all-but-rhetorical questions come in the wake of the U.S. House minority leader’s criticism of Trump’s travel agenda abroad. The president screwed up, Pelosi maintains, because he did not visit the five nations on the planned itinerary in alphabetical order. She hints that to have done so would have shown a more neutral approach and less of an appearance of favoritism. After all, it’s form and not function in these foreign trips that matters most in the mind of a former mechanic shop beauty queen. 

The five nations on Trump’s first visit abroad as president are (in alphabetical order): Belgium, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sicily and Vatican City. If you’ve been paying attention, Trump stopped first in Saudi Arabia and wound up in Belgium — a logical and nearly straight-line route that consumed less jet fuel than had he and his entourage followed an alphabetical itinerary.

If this is the best that Pelosi, a California Democrat, can do to challenge her fellow lawmakers across the aisle, the naysayers need to gird themselves for more bad news news as we draw closer to the mid-term elections in 2018. Take, for example, Republican pacesetter Greg Gianforte, who just won a special election to represent Montana in the U.S. House after engaging in a physical confrontation with a pushy news reporter. In the incident, the most damage done was that the reporter’s eyeglasses were broken. The left-leaning media covered the incident like it was a presidential felony deserving of the electric chair. When Geraldo Rivera — a veteran reporter and a veteran of confrontation — heard about the incident, he laughed, indicating it was much ado about nothing. (With a tip of the ol’ green eyeshade to William Shakespeare.) Apparently the majority of voters in Montana’s special election agreed. 

Olson winds up his article with a third gem of a question: “Is Nancy Pelosi really advocating for a Sesame Street strategy to boost foreign relations?” Again, the answer quite possibly is yes. It’s what you would expect from a demanding member of Congress who advocates for a floor vote before she has read the bill to understand what’s in it.

All that being said, I am guilty of Ding Dong School blogging for having spent this much time and ink on answering such Sesame Street concerns. Mea cupla.