“Occupy” Steals House From Struggling Single Dad

A single dad, struggling to raise two daughters on his own, is falling behind on mortgage payments. His house is about to be foreclosed, so he and his daughters are living in an apartment while he tries to catch up on payments. Then out of nowhere, Occupy Wall Street swoops in, squats in his house, and gives it to a homeless family in a big “look at us, we’re Robin Hood, giving back to the 99%” ceremony.

Yes, this really happened. Click Here to read it. For some reason (oh gee, I wonder why), not much of the media is covering the story.

This guy is clearly not a member of the 1%. Struggling single dad losing his house does not equate to multi-millionaire CEO. The craziest thing is that OWS is actually fighting to stay in the house. HUH? Last I checked, going into someone else’s house against their wishes and refusing to leave was called breaking and entering. And trespassing. And stealing someone’s house is grand theft (at least I think it is… who steals houses?). In fact, in Colonial Virginia, “Housebreaking”, as it was called, was a felony punishable by death.

Where is the law, and why is this even in the courts? It should be a simple: kick the trespassers out of the poor guy’s house, please.

Of course, let’s be fair to the OWS crowd and say that, Yes, there is a HUGE problem with the economy in this country right now. But taking what isn’t yours isn’t going to solve anything.  As I read from one blogger, the first sign of the American economy tanking wasn’t the 2008 mortgage crisis. It was in the 1960s and 1970s when women had to go to work because it was no longer possible to support a family on a single income. Even if it’s possible to get back to the glory days of the American economy, we have a long road ahead of us. Calling it quits and jumping to collectivism like the Germans of the 1930s or the Russians of 1917 is not going to bring prosperity. We have to find another way.

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“Give Me Liberty” or at least plastic bags.

Last night I experienced first hand what the American colonists must have felt back in the 1760s. The Stamp Act, it has much been said, wasn’t so much a pain because of the amount of money. It was a pain because it was big government getting in your face. So what exactly in today’s world is so comparable?

Montgomery County Maryland and the Bag Tax.

Sure, 5 cents on every paper or plastic bag from every grocery, retail, or dining establishment might not make a big hole in your pocket. But it stings. Especially when you take into account all the other absurdities of this county government. Let me tell you what happened to me last night:

First, I went to the library to renew my books.

Librarian:  “Sorry, you can’t renew, you have to give other people a chance to read.”

Me: I just stare, thinking Who else wants to read this book on Medieval England that hasn’t been checked out since 2008? Isn’t that what waiting lists and holds are for?

Librarian: “You can come back tomorrow to get them off the shelf.”

Me: I work full-time and have a life. “Really? You can’t just renew them today?”

Librarian: “Nope. New Montgomery County rule. Read the sign.”

So I begrudgingly took my book marks out of the books and went to my car. Next stop, grocery store to get a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce. I go to check out, and the lines are around the block. Every person at self check-out is taking way longer than usual, because there were no bags to be found. In their place were signs, “New Montgomery County law, bags now cost 5 cents, please bring your own bag,” or some other insensitive, bureaucratic BS. After waiting for the guy in front of me to finally bum a bag off someone to carry his 15 little items, I bought my Texas Pete and put it in my purse, feeling oddly like a shoplifter even though I just paid.

As I walked to my car, I looked up and saw the Montgomery County seal on the liquor store. I don’t know if anyone out there knows this, but in Montgomery County, you cannot buy liquor from anyone but the government. When you do go to the county liquor store, they scan your driver’s license.  With all that data collection, how long before they start rationing?

I miss Howard County. I miss the nice people who don’t honk at you, I miss the clean roadways without beggars, I miss the free plastic bags, I miss the free-market alcohol. Mostly, I miss the lack of obtrusive government interference in my everyday life. I don’t mind paying taxes for roads, schools, or even well-run temporary welfare programs, but I DO mind it when the government tries to tell me how to live. I’m getting out of this county as soon as I can.

If MoCo is trying to force me to get reusable grocery bags and carry them everywhere I go, I’ll get one with the “Don’t Tread on Me” snake. Where’s Patrick Henry when you need him?

Note: Montgomery County still has not informed retail and grocery stores where to send the money from the bag tax. This whole thing is ridiculous.

Pearl Harbor, 70 years later

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Leading up to the surprise attack, America was in a depression. Europe was unable to pay their debts. Foreign dictators were on the rise. This unprecedented attack launched America into WWII and, eventually, into her Superpower status. Today, 70 years later, it seems we’ve come full circle. Europe is in dept, America is in a depression (even though the official word states otherwise) and foreign dictators are on the rise.

After Pearl Harbor and the revving up of the war machine, America was united in a common ideology. Americans believed that America was the greatest place on earth. Americans believed that America was worth fighting for. In the war’s aftermath, Americans believed that it was their solemn duty to build up America, and re-build war-torn countries. Americans believed that as long as America stood strong, the rest of the world would be taken care of.

Today, few Americans believe in America. Growing up in school in the 90’s and 2000’s, I saw that most kids thought America was the world’s curse. Most people thought Canada and Europe were the civilized regions, and American pride was something of a redneck naivetĂ©. Believing in American greatness is frowned upon. I’m not sure how this happened. Maybe it’s something to do with political correctness. But look where it’s gotten us.

I’m in favor of being polite and treating other countries with respect. But if America is ever going to rise again, her people need to believe in her. We need to believe that America was meant to be the greatest country on earth. We need to have faith in ourselves and in our American heritage. This faith is what brought us through every major struggle we have ever faced, and it will not fail us now.

Newt Gingrich on Hannity

Last night I decided to watch Sean Hannity’s interview of Newt Gingrich. Prior to watching this interview, my opinion of Newt was simply, “Smart guy, AWFUL personality.” I always thought he looked so angry. While I liked some of his responses in the debates, I was turned off by his perpetual frown. Hannity, on the other hand, made me realize something. This guy might actually be the chosen one.

Here’s the thing. While he does always seem to be very serious and unpleasant, the man knows what he’s talking about. He majored in history, after all (wink). And here’s the other thing: this guy could run circles around Obama in a debate. If you put Obama vs. Newt on national television, Obama would be totally exposed. Listening to Newt talk about how he wants to challenge Obama to 7 Lincoln-Douglas style debates, I thought “Wow, it’s genius.” Obama has a catchy personality and he seems like a nice guy, but there’s no way in hell he could beat Newt on substance.

Another interesting fact: When asked about his life post-Speaker, Newt talked about his new-found love of going to Catholic Mass on Sundays and the strength he draws from the Eucharist. What a HUGE contrast that is from Obama and his Jeremiah Wright.

I’m not endorsing Newt just yet. I’m not calling him flawless or perfect. I’m not sure if he is the ultimate best choice for president. But he might be.

Professor Fired for Catholic Beliefs?

The University of Illinois fired adjunct professor Ken Howell over a statement that was declared “hate speech.”

But was it really?

Howell was a professor who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought. His job was to teach students the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which includes a strong opinion about the morality of homosexual acts.

In an email to the class, Howell wrote that “Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.” A student took offense to this and complained that it was “hate speech.” The University of Illinois agreed and kicked Howell out the door.

 To a public that is not entirely familiar with the finer points of Catholic teaching, this may in fact sound like a bigoted professor. The offended student argued their side writing that “Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”

In truth, this student’s comment shows an unfamiliarity with the concept of “Natural Law” in Catholic thought. In Catholic theology, Natural Law (capitalized) represents a philosophical code of ethics derived from the “natural” order of things in the physical world. In other words, deducing God’s intentions through nature. Natural Law was explored and determined by thousands of years of Catholic theologians including Augustine and Aquinas, and is used (in conjunction with the Scriptures) to determine the rules of morality.

The Catholic Church teaches that, while being homosexual is not a sin, engaging in homosexual acts is contrary to the Natural Law and therefore a sin. This is the official teaching of the Church, and a professor teaching a class on the Catholic religion should not be penalized for explaining this concept. People may not like or agree with the Church’s teaching, but the fact is, it’s what the Church teaches, and you’re not going to change that. The offended student clearly misunderstood the concept of Natural Law as a Catholic concept, and the University also misunderstood.

Every religion has a side that is often misunderstood by those who are not highly familiar with the finer points of the theology. Muslims hold Jihad, or Holy War, as one of the 5 primary tenents of their belief. Judaism disagrees that Jesus was the Messiah. Buhdists believe in reincarnation, a concept with is linked with the hated caste system in India. Some African tribal religions teach the ritual genital mutilation of females. The point is, if you’re going to pay a professor to teach students about the beliefs of a religion or culture, don’t penalize them for doing their job.

Would you rather censor everything so that students never learn about anything that could be confusing, challenging, dark, ugly, scarey, or just different? Do you want your graduates to think the world is absolutely perfect and everyone is the same? People need to know that there are many different types of people in this world. You can’t hide the truth of the world from university students. College kids are naive enough without you sheltering them.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to pay this professor to explain Catholic beliefs, don’t fire him if someone doesn’t agree. You’re doing a disservice to the man, but also to the student, who not only will never understand the definition of Natural Law as relates to Catholicism, but also will never learn that the world won’t always bend over backward to accomodate them.

Where does this lead? What other free academic thoughts are they going to suppress with the line of “hate speech”?

Was College Even Worth It?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should be highly educated. Yet after graduating magna cum laude, I’m still unemployed 14 months after graduation. Meanwhile, I’m scraping together what I can from freelancing to keep up with ridiculously high student loan payments. Really they wouldn’t be bad at all if I had a job. But… where’s the job?

As it turns out, I’m not alone. The New York Times did a piece today about someone who graduated in 2008 and is still unemployed. But that lucky s-o-b was actually offered a $40,000/year job and turned it down because it wasn’t enough money. I would do almost anything to be making $40,000/year right now. At least it would cover the loans and allow me to start putting some money away so I can have my own life someday.

All through college, my dad and others told me not to worry about taking out student loans, after all, they end up being small payments that are easily taken care of once you graduate and get a job. “Your brother said his student loans were easy,” said my dad, a few years ago when I was still in college. My brother graduated in 2002 and got a job right away for ADP with the help of a relative who worked there. (Fast-forward to 2010 and ADP is one of the millions of companies cutting jobs. Luckily my brother switched companies at some point along the way.)

I enjoyed every minute of my history classes, art history projects, educational trips to Europe, and late-night trips to get ice cream with the girls. College was a blast. But why did I bother to get A’s when, obviously, nobody cares? Nobody cares that I can write 30 page papers based on original research. Nobody cares that I can speak Italian and Spanish. Nobody cares that I learn extremely quickly and enjoy every minute of it. Nobody cares because nobody has any money to hire me.

I know this sounds very depressing, and really I apologize if I made any of you depressed. I just want to make a point. Something has to be done. People my age have a lot of energy and potential, and they just want someone to give them a chance so they can start building a life of their own. Unfortunately, we’re stuck competing against 30,40, and 50-somethings who were laid-off mid-career. And employers will ALWAYS pick the ones with more experience.

I’ve considered going to grad school, like some of my other friends, hoping that an advanced degree may give me a leg up getting the positions I want. The problem is I’m scared to death that when I get out of grad school, I’ll have the same problem, only 100 times worse: even MORE debt and still no job, at which point I will be forced to take a minimum wage job in retail in order to make the payements.

(Now I’m wondering why I spent so much time studying. I could have taken a break and gotten B’s and C’s, since nobody in “the real world” cares that I did well in school.)

My Problem with Jersey Shore

How much TV actually affects people

I was substituting for an art teacher at  local high school recently. The kids had to turn in their homework- an assignment to design and draw their own superhero. I was sifting through the pictures, having a laugh, when I noticed that one kid had chosen to design “Super Guido”, complete with green, white, and red spandex, greased black hair, and a big “G” on his chest.

Growing up Italian-American, I’ve been taught to be proud of my heritage. I was raised on stories about my ancestors- Roman conquerors and engineers, Medieval writers, Renaissance sculptors and thinkers, Baroque architects, and hard-working immigrants who built new lives from nothing in a foreign land. Not to mention our fabulous cooks, and my personal family history that includes bakers in Roseto Valfortore, a policeman in Penne, and a connection to St. Gabriel Possenti, who was buried in my great-grandmother’s town of Isola del Gran Sasso, Provincia di Teramo, in Abruzzo.

Every Italian-American family has stories like this. Every Italian-American has a history to be proud of. It’s true, we are different from native Italians, as the most recent chapters of our history are different. Still, we share the same proud heritage stretching back thousands of years.

Italian-Americans, like all ethnic immigrant groups in America, have the right to be proud of their culture. They have the right to be respected for the work they have done to help build this country, and the contributions they will make in the future.

Racial slurs and negative stereotypes have NO place in this country. I don’t care what color you are, what ethnicity, when you came here, or what state you’re from. If America is going to succeed, we each have treat each other with respect. Non-WASP groups have had to work extra hard for CENTURIES in order to get the equal respect they deserve. Our society isn’t perfect yet, but our progress to this point should not be discounted.

Calling an Italian-American a “giudo” is wrong for the same reason that it is wrong to use any racial slur. My grandfather’s name was Giudo. He was a hard-working family man who gave this life everything he had. The cast members of Jersey Shore disgrace themselves and the culture they claim to represent when they use words like that. It’s as bad as when African-Americans call each other the n-word. It’s degrading and disrespectful. It has no place in our society.

The worst part of this whole thing is that MTV is influencing a whole generation of people to think that it is ok, acceptable even, to refer to Italians as “guidos”. If there were a show on TV that encouraged people to use the N-word, it would be off the air in a matter of minutes.

Back to the classroom…

After considering the situation for a while, I decided to privately explain to the student that their design was offensive. Sure enough, as I expected, the kid was a fan of Jersey Shore and had absolutely no idea that calling an Italian a “Guido” was offensive. The student offered to change the design, but I told them not to worry about it. It was just homework and I’m not against freedom of artistic expression. I just think that people should be made aware of what’s offensive. If they want to be offensive, that’s another issue.

Thank you Jersey Shore, for teaching kids that racial slurs are cool.

Obama’s Snitch List

God help us.

Word is out that the president wants us to report dissenting citizens spreading “fishy” information about Obamacare to flag@whitehouse.gov.

If that sentence doesn’t scare the crap out of you, read it again.

This is what I think about Obama’s “Snitch List”, as it’s been affectionately nicknamed by the majority of the American people:

Collecting information about dissenters has a long tradition, particularly in the 20th century. In Germany in the 1930s, a charismatic leader named Adolph Hitler won the hearts of the people with his inspiring, energetic speeches. He then rallied young children and adolescents to be “patriotic” and report their parents for opposing him.

We all know what happened next.

Are we now going to have children reporting their parents? Friends reporting what they heard at a party? Ladies reporting the gossip from the beauty parlor? Obama wants people to forward their friends’ emails to the White House enemies list. Basically, he wants you to snitch on your neighbors.

Encouraging people to report dissidents is a famous communist totalitarian scare tactic. People become cautious when discussing the government for fear of being reported. It happened in Cuba under Fidel Castro. My dad has a friend, and older woman who escaped from Cuba and now lives in Miami. She told me that when Castro was coming into power, his political opponents began to
disappear. Literally. Overnight. She said that there was one time she was watching a man make a speech on the TV, and she said to her husband, “That man is going to die,” and sure enough, he was gone the next day.

I think that Americans, like teenagers, suffer under an illusion of invincibility. The “It won’t happen to me” syndrome. Oh, Connie Ann, don’t talk about Stalinist Russia. That was Russia. It was a long time ago. That could never happen here. This is America.

Are you sure?

The question for Americans isn’t “Will this ever happen?” The question for Americans today is, “If things continue this way, if people stay silent, how long do we have? How long until another civil war? How long until we lose everything?”

Maybe things will be different from what you would expect. I was reading a blog just now, and I saw a comment someone made. It’s an interesting theory. Using the screen name “Old Guy,” this gentlemen wrote:

“Most Posters seem to feel that Obama and company compiling a list of people who oppose an all powerful state is bad but not serious. Stalin killed between 20 and 50 MILLION people out of a population of 164 Million.Historians cannot agree on how many were killed, because people just disappeared.
The people compiling this list are the same people who want total control over your health care. If you use mail order meds. How do you verify that the right stuff is in the bottle. Big Brother controls the drug company and you are on his list. The computer fills the bottle, prints the label, you pass away. No police in the middle of the night, no protests, etc. Stalin would be jealous.”

I felt the need to spread that man’s words a little farther.

I don’t mean to scare you, honestly. I just want to make you aware. Personally, it is a little scary knowing that because of this blog post, I will probably end up on Obama’s enemies list. Luckily, there are millions of other bloggers saying the same thing as me. Whatever. I’m going to exercise my right to free speech as long as I still have it (I don’t. Someone will snitch on me, probably).

A friend and I were discussing the current trend in events, wondering whether there was any country we could escape to if things got too dangerous in the United States. The sad truth is, for young free-speech Capitalist Liberty-lovers like us, there is no place to go. America is the last hold out. America is still the greatest country on earth. This is our country, and we cannot abandon her. If need be, we must stand and fight for our land.

We need to remember the principles upon which our country was founded. We need to remember the millions who have died to preserve our freedom. We need to remember the people who stood up over 200 years ago to say to their bullying government:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

-The Declaration of Independence. July 4, 1776.

Take that, Comrade Obama.

A Romantic Date in Washington, D.C.

James scored major points Friday night when he took me on a very fun, romantic date in downtown D.C. Having grown up in the area, we had both been to see the monuments on the National Mall before, but this time was special. I had been craving the city lately, so James decided to take me to the National Mall Friday night for a little monument hopping.

We arrived at the Washington Monument around 7:30pm, just as the sun was starting to fall towards the horizon. The weather was warm and breezy, perfect for a walk. We went up to the monument and walked around, making jokes and just having fun. The view from the base of the monument is fantastic. If you look to the east you have a clear view of the Capitol. Turning toward the west is a spectacular view of the World War II memorial, the reflecting pool, and the Lincoln memorial.

It was just beginning to get dark as we made our way to the World War II memorial. This is my favorite of all the monuments, not only because of the glittering fountains, but also because of the emotions etched in stone. Walking around, reading the quotes from various contemporaries, it was so hard not to cry. Here was the memorial to the Greatest Generation, the Americans who stood to fight for the preservation of Liberty throughout the world. This was the monument to the Americans who fought to save the world from the greatest evil of the 20th century. The most gripping part of the memorial is the wall of gold stars, each representing 1,000 American casualties. The words below the wall read, “Here we mark the price of freedom.” My heart rises up to my throat every time I look at that wall.

This memorial holds a special place in my heart because my grandfather fought in the Navy during the war. He was in the south pacific fighting the Japanese. When I was a kid he was always telling me stories about the war. Every time I saw him, it seemed he was reading some book about World War II. He was very proud of his service, and even made copies of his wartime diary to give to his children. If he had lived to see this memorial, he would have been so proud.

James and I spent a lot of time at this memorial. At night when the fountains were lit, the scene was breathtaking. After reading everything, we walked around holding hands, looking at everything and seeing only each other. It was perfect. At one point James looked at me and asked, “So, is this romantic? Because the website said it’s supposed to be romantic.” I laughed. “Yes James. It’s perfect.” He was so cute. I wonder if men really have the same concept of romance as women do, or if “romance” is something that girls invented and men put up with to make them happy?

Eventually it was time to move on the Lincoln memorial, which was absolutely crowded. It’s always the most crowded monument at night. Abe looked stunning in white.

On a serious note, the Lincoln memorial took on a whole new meaning for me now in 2009, more serious than ever before. Inside the memorial, two of Lincoln’s speeches are carved in stone: the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. Both are equally powerful, in their own ways. The Second Inaugural Address is about how the country split, and the way the war was fought to preserve the union. Today, there is so much talk about secession. The American people are once again divided. Like last time, many people feel that the federal government is trampling on their rights. 37 states have now raised the issue in their own legislatures. Americans are being taxed out of everything they own—this in a country that was created by a war fought against over-taxation. This has led some people to suggest secession. Secession
 it’s like divorce in the political world. Theoretically it shouldn’t happen, but it does. And when it does happen, it rips the world apart. The Union that Lincoln and millions of other fought so hard to preserve is once again beginning to break apart. I hope there is a way to resolve our differences without losing the great country that I have loved all my life.

 

After the Lincoln Memorial, we went around searching for the Vietnam Memorial. Neither of us had seen it before, so we weren’t sure where it was. In the meantime we stumbled across the Korean War Memorial. Like the Vietnam memorial, this once involved a big black wall. There aren’t names, but there are lots of faces. In front of the wall stand a dozen or so life size statues of soldiers, posed to look as though the are moving through the jungle together. It’s very haunting. You expect the soldiers to start moving at any minute.

The Korean War memorial was also special to me, as my other grandfather fought in the Korean War as an MP. Unlike Poppie (my mom’s dad) who loved to recount his time in World War II, Grandpa was virtually silent about Korea. During his service, he won the medal for distinguished service for manning his post for 40 consecutive hours when his replacement failed to appear. That’s all I really know at present about his time over there, though I’ve seen plenty of the muscle-man pictures he sent to my grandmother. 😉

After the Korean War memorial, we finally found the Vietnam War memorial. This truly is the saddest, most heart-wrenching place on the Mall. At all the other monuments and memorials, people talk and laugh and carry on normal conversation. But not here. Here people are silenced by over 58,000 names of the dead and missing. Like a cemetery, people leave flowers and teddy bears under the names of their loved ones. James and I were quiet as we listened to a tour guide tell the stories of various individuals whose names were on the wall.

After all that, we walked back up to the metro. Delays on the red line meant our trip home took an hour longer than it should have, but we had fun. The monuments were beautiful. Walking around at night together, enjoying the breeze, what more could you ask for? Seeing our people’s history preserved in stone and remembering the cost of our freedom made the experience truly memorable.

All this talk about war and politics makes it seem like the date was extremely heavy, but it wasn’t. It was spectacular. It was as if we had a date traveling through time, stopping along all the most important parts in our nation’s history.

We had a wonderful time together, walking through tree-lined paths on a summer’s night. We’ll never forget it.