Pigskin & flopping fishes

MOST EVERY weekday morning, the two of us walk six laps (20 minutes) around the neighborhood plaza. It’s fairly routine with the exception of Thursdays when there’s a mercado set up there. People selling stuff. Free enterprise. Capitalism!

Thursday is the best day for our power walks because there’s not simply exercise on the plate but lots of fun stuff to gawk at.

Two of my favorites are the pigskins being boiled in a big tub of oil. It smells like my childhood at my maternal grandparents’ farm in southwest Georgia way over half a century ago. The other favorite, though it’s a bit grim, are the flopping fishes.

New ImageA woman sells fresh fish — you know they’re fresh because many are flopping — atop a cloth she spreads on the sidewalk. No matter the hour we do our walk, some of those fish are flopping about, wondering where the water went.

Some flop right off the cloth.

There are lots of other things to see. Women set up small stands and sell stuff to eat, hot grub over charcoal fires. (Charcoal smoke always reminds me of Haiti.) Others spread cloth on the sidewalk and display used clothing, some obviously quite used.

This invariably slows down my child bride’s power walk because for her clothing for sale — especially if it’s cheap — is like catnip to a feline.

No matter. I keep going, and she eventually catches up.

1200-28731554-asiago-cheeseThere are two large stands of lovely fruit and veggies. You can find nicer, fresher merchandise there than you usually encounter in the supermarket. There’s also a fellow who sells cheese, just cheese. He arrives in a white truck.

Yes, Thursdays are the fun walks. The other days are just pedestrian events.

But we bought a mango today which, when combined with onion slices and some magic sauce my child bride makes, creates a very nice salad, which will complete the Greek garlic chicken I made yesterday in the crockpot for today’s lunch.

Life moves along for better or worse, usually better.

A clueless generation

(The following was written by an asute Millennial, Alyssa Alhgren, and published on Alpha News, a website out of Minnesota or, as some know it, Little Somalia, due to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s being elected there, a disgrace.

(But this column has nothing to do with Omar. It has to do with the ignorant, spoiled-rotten generation known as Millennials.)

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I’m sitting in a small coffee shop trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism.

I put my phone down and continue to look around. I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it.

Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times.

Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”

Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink in. When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth.

Now, I’m not attributing Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s words to outright dishonesty. I do think she wholeheartedly believes the words she said to be true. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided. My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity. I know this first hand, I went to college. Let’s just say I didn’t have the popular opinion, but I digress.

Let me lay down some universal truths really quick. The United States of America has lifted more people out of abject poverty, spread more freedom and democracy, and has created more innovation in technology and medicine than any other nation in human history.

Not only that, but our citizenry continually breaks world records with charitable donations, the rags-to-riches story is not only possible in America but not uncommon, we have the strongest purchasing power on earth, and we encompass 25% of the world’s GDP.

The list goes on.

However, these universal truths don’t matter. We are told that income inequality is an existential crisis (even though this is not an indicator of prosperity, some of the poorest countries in the world have low income inequality).

We are told that we are oppressed by capitalism (even though it’s brought about more freedom and wealth to the most people than any other system in world history).

We are told that the only way we will acquire the benefits of true prosperity is through socialism and centralization of federal power (even though history has proven time and again this only brings tyranny and suffering).

Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country. People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity, and as a result, elect politicians dead set on taking steps towards abolishing capitalism. Why?

The answer is this, my generation has ONLY seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn’t live in the Great Depression, or live through two world wars, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism.

We don’t know what it’s like not to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a lack-of-prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague.

With the current political climate giving rise to the misguided idea of a socialist utopia, will we see the light? Or will we have to lose it all to realize that what we have now is true prosperity?

Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.

My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us.

The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

Trump: the Push-Back President

(Today’s guest poster is Andrew Klavan who published this piece on PJ Media. The headline is mine, the Push-Back President. Trump is the first president to reject in public the nincompoop notions of the left, and he makes no bones about it.  He rubs it in their faces and laughs out loud, a fun guy. This is the main cause of the mental illness known as Trump Derangement Syndome.)

* * * *

In general, I’m a free speech purist. I think you should be able to say any damn thing you please. But that doesn’t mean you should be able to say it anywhere and anytime.

I think police should be allowed to remove hecklers who prevent an audience from hearing the speaker they came to hear, or haul away a diner who stands up in a restaurant and starts spewing curses at the Martians in his fillings.

I deplore companies that fire or punish employees for expressing their ideas on their own time, even though it’s legal to do so. But I don’t think those companies have to tolerate such speech in the workplace or when it might reasonably appear to be an expression of the company’s point of view.

That’s why I see no free speech violation, even in spirit, in the NFL’s ruling that players should not disrespect the flag during the National Anthem. The players were taking that action on company time, in company uniform, while doing the company’s business, representing the company and, clearly, hurting the company’s bottom line.

And because I see no violation, I have to agree with the tweet of Vice President Mike Pence that the new rule represents “#winning” for the American people. Here’s why.

The NFL anthem controversy is a prime example of how Donald Trump is doing something of yuge importance that conservatives never think to do, and that intellectual conservatives don’t even seem to understand needs doing. He is challenging — and often changing — the left’s narrative.

The narrative is essentially a set of assumptions so pervasive that people are afraid to oppose them. They think they are alone in disagreeing with those assumptions and they fear they will be deemed immoral by the majority.

For a long time, the left has controlled this narrative by dominating and censoring the means of communication: social media, the news networks, Hollywood and the academies.

The left makes outlandish ideas seem mainstream.

They use these instruments to make outlandish ideas seem mainstream. That America is racist and oppressive. That men and women are interchangeable. That abortion is something other than an atrocity. That capitalism is somehow an evil despite its manifest blessings. And so on.

This technique is enormously powerful and has serious repercussions. Look at Starbucks behaving like a broken prisoner at a Stalinist show trial.

The narrative convinced them that they behaved badly simply for behaving like a business. In ejecting two poorly behaved trespassers, they merely claimed their right to use their private property for profit. But it is private property and profit that gives us Starbucks in the first place. And iPhones and computers and movies and all the rest.

Companies do not make these things for fun and they have no obligation to let you use them for free. If Starbucks were not drowning in left-wing assumptions — the left-wing narrative that capitalism is somehow inherently mean and wrong — they would have stood up for their right to eject unpaying trespassers, and they would have won.

Instead, they have to endure the absolutely absurd accusation that they are somehow racist because the trespassers were black — another nonsensical left-wing assumption. Phooey.

This is why it has been so terribly frustrating for many of us that conservatives have for so long allowed these assumptions to go unchallenged and have even seemed to accept them themselves.

Why did the first President Bush promise a “kinder, gentler” America after the Reagan years? Why did W. Bush call his conservatism “compassionate conservatism”? Aren’t the wealth and freedom provided by conservative governance kind and gentle enough, compassionate enough in themselves? Why were they making apologies for good ideas?

They bought the narrative and lost the country.

Those on the right who continue to hammer the president for being a flawed man should instead be asking themselves: Why did it take such a man to finally start pushing conservative ideas again?

It was because the left had been allowed to define the terms of our decency, and it required a man without much regard for decency to stand up to them and begin to govern by the decent, moral, freedom-giving principles of traditional Americanism.

Among those principles is respect for our flag and the liberties and justice it represents. It should not be the accepted norm that you can insult that flag while the rest of the nation is expected to eat the insult and send you fame and money in return.

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Screw that noise. Donald Trump was right to challenge the narrative. It’s not trivial. It’s important. And the fact that he made his point represents, yes, #winning.