U.S. Popular Culture Sucks

Think of a good Muslim seeing the gratuitous sex in rap videos. Think of the European watching an American political thriller. Can anyone think of a recent popular movie were an American official or authority was not the villain? If videos like those we peddle were sent to us by some foreign power, wouldn’t we suspect it was meant to corrupt us? Just look at all the violence, greed and plain stupidity in so much of our cultural fare.

A good article in the Wilson Quarterly says it more elegantly than I can. To sum it up, however, although it goes against my long held faith to say so, in some things we suck. And some of those things are among our most successful offerings. I can't blame people from other cultures for trying to protect their families from the likes of Emiem or Fifty Cent. Can you blame foreigners for not wanting to become like what they think we have become? Maybe this is a place where the free market doesn't work as well.

I don't live in that America portrayed in the movies or videos. Most Americans don't. But that is what we show the world. The more they see, the less they like us. The communists did us a favor by censoring our stuff. It is interesting that the places the U.S. remains the most popular are the places where our cultural products still are less common or did not penetrate until recently. Maybe we have met the enemy and he is us.

Posted by Jack at December 7, 2005 10:44 PM
Comments
Comment #100024

Jack,

Mostly it seems the rest of the world, Europeans especially, are turned off by Bush and his administration’s arrogance. The torture doesn’t help our PR either. Citizen’s of other countries have real reasons to criticize us; they aren’t just bothered my our R rated movies and rap music, which by the way, is the most popular form of music in the world.

Posted by: Max at December 7, 2005 11:03 PM
Comment #100033

Max

Our popularity has been on a steady decline for years. I don’t say that our culture isn’t seductive. That may be one of the problems. Consider our old friends at UNESCO or the French or many others. They have been trying to limit American cultural offerings for decades.

Bush is unpopular in W. Europe. No American president has been popular in the Middle East. The U.S. image varies around the world. But it is very simple minded to blame our image problems on Bush. Even as a Bush supporter, I wish that was true. That would mean we could solve the problem in a couple of years. But it is not.

Whole books were written on the subject of anti-Americanism and many were published before 2000.

Posted by: Jack at December 7, 2005 11:26 PM
Comment #100054

Another diatribe on Hollywood. When are we going to here about the immoral hypocrites who purchase them? “Desperate Housewives” is the highest rated show in the Bible Belt. Republicans spend the day bashing Hollywood and spend the night adding them in their stock options.

Hypocrisy… Rightwing-style…


BTW… When you torture innocent people while preventing your own innocent citizens from being tortured, that is what the World calls a double-standard.

Posted by: Aldous at December 8, 2005 12:14 AM
Comment #100056

On the subject of anti-Americanism, here is the best and most in-depth essay I’ve ever seen. It’s on the longish side, but more than worth the time spent to read it.

Posted by: sanger at December 8, 2005 12:15 AM
Comment #100061

Jack,
Maybe YOU dont live in the America that is portrayed in todays entertainment industry. But the fact is that people, like say 50 Cent and other rappers, do. I am sure you live in a big house in a peaceful community but not everyone else does. Right now there are countless children living on the streets of our cities; not getting a decent education and merely learning how to survive. For most inner-city people, the only way to get out of that cycle of poverty is through the entertainment or sports industries, and when they get there you cant expect them to talk about anything but what they now and lived. I think that if the older conservative America would really listen to what these people are saying rather than dismissing it as ‘pop-culture’ then we could make more progress. Pop-culture icons aren’t bragging or making things up, their crying out for help for their people.

Posted by: Austin at December 8, 2005 12:25 AM
Comment #100070
For most inner-city people, the only way to get out of that cycle of poverty is through the entertainment or sports industries, and when they get there you cant expect them to talk about anything but what they now and lived.

A couple hundred people (tops) escape inner city poverty each year through sports or the entertainment industry. Thousands upon thousands escape it, however, by getting an education and/or hard work in traditional jobs just like everybody else. On the other hand, you’ll find plenty of rappers singing about life on the mean streets who actually grew up in very comfortable middle-class situations.

This idea that if you can’t rap or dunk a basketball you’ve got not future in America would be a very big surprise, for example, to the millions of Asians in this country whose parents arrived with nothing and today who are filling the rosters in our Ivy League schools.

Posted by: sanger at December 8, 2005 1:11 AM
Comment #100071

Sanger,

A couple hundred people (tops) escape inner city poverty each year through sports or the entertainment industry. Thousands upon thousands escape it, however, by getting an education and/or hard work in traditional jobs just like everybody else.

Most don’t escape it at all.

Posted by: Max at December 8, 2005 1:17 AM
Comment #100113

Sanger,

The answer was found in the very first paragraph.

Living in turn in the Netherlands, where kids come out of high school able to speak four languages, where gay marriage is a non-issue, and where book-buying levels are the world’s highest, and in Norway, where a staggering percentage of people read three newspapers a day and where respect for learning is reflected even in Oslo place names (“Professor Aschehoug Square”; “Professor Birkeland Road”), I was tempted at one point to write a book lamenting Americans’ anti-intellectualism—their indifference to foreign languages, ignorance of history, indifference to academic achievement, susceptibility to vulgar religion and trash TV, and so forth.

It’s not about video games or Hollywood, it’s that our education system is a disgrace. Can you even imagine that students graduating from a U.S. high schools would know 2, much less 4 languages? Some graduate barely knowing one. It’s downright shameful.

Hypocrisy…Rightwing-style…

Aldous,

So true. I feel a Howard Dean moment coming on. The Republican party is the pillar of hypocrisy. The Republican party is a den of vipers, made up of crooks & liars, who’s sole purpose is to line the pockets of the rich. The party of morals, the party of the people of faith. The party that has cornered the market on religion. But where is that Christianity in the party? I think some of them need to open their gold lined bibles and see what Jesus actually taught us about our fellow man.

This is the party that wants to take money from the poor through entitlement cuts and shift it to the rich through tax cuts. The mere mention of welfare sends them into convulsions. I hate to break this to the faithful, morally upright Republicans, but the story of Sodom was not about homosexuality. Sodom was destroyed by God because of pride, greed, lazyness, gluttony and it’s lack of welfare for the poor and the needy.

Eze. 16.49, 50 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

Homosexuality is never mentioned, yet this is the party that uses the name of God to spread their hatred for homosexuals. This is the party that is pro-marriage & pro-family but puts up road blocks for thousands of same-sex couples who seek to form strong families. This is the party that is pro-life, but chooses a hasty war, without all the facts, and rejects the notion of peace.

Democrats are by no means angels but Republicans exemplify the worst of human nature.

Jesus was a liberal. So the next time a conservative calls you a liberal, thank them, it’s a compliment.

And Howard Dean, keep tell ‘em like it is!

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 8, 2005 4:40 AM
Comment #100120

Max, I totally share your view exposed in your first post.

Jack,

Blaming Hollywood now?
I agree that the overall quality of many US pop culture is decreasing. But not the independent one. In fact, more and more underground or non-aligned american culture is considered of great quality and appreciated in Europe.

Sure, the usual violent heroic happy ending blockbusters are not anymore well received worldwide. Maybe because the storyline is, well, nowhere to be seen in such empty production. Quality is decreasing more due to culture’s industrialization to me than due to a rising worldwide anti-americanism. You should see some of german or french tv shows, they’re very dumb and violent too. I dislike them too. But I’ve no anti-german sentiment so far. Their movies just sucks too much most of the time.

When I find an american pop culture stuff bad for whatever reason, you may be suprised here, most of the time I’m not saying myself “hey, that’s american!”. No. I’m just saying myself “bad movie/music/book/whatever, who’s the director/artist/writer already?”.

That’s when US White House start to behave as in the worst movie/text that I start to worry about US realities.

Consider our old friends at UNESCO or the French or many others. They have been trying to limit American cultural offerings for decades.

Nope. They have been trying to stop considering culture is *just* like any other goods. 80% of movies projected in Europe are americans.
Don’t you think that a 100% number would be a monopole of *one* culture over all other worldwide ones? I’m not for the 20% being only french movies, and actually they’re not.

Thank to globalization, more and more people have access to more and more world culture. Internet play a big part in this. US movies being 80% of worldwide movies seen is not substainable anymore. Call it a decline, I call it worlwide culture awareness expansion.

Plus, it’s not “many others” but “all nations except US and Israel”. Go figure.

… it is very simple minded to blame our image problems on Bush. Even as a Bush supporter, I wish that was true. That would mean we could solve the problem in a couple of years. But it is not.

Sure, he’s not the only one to blame. But the polls about woldwide americanism show that his policy has damaged US image far more quicker than anything before.

Your frenchly (not yet fully awake, sorry),

PS: I love Eminen! Loved 8 Mile, both movie and album ;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 4:59 AM
Comment #100123

Sorry all for my poor english.
One more coffee, quick!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 5:33 AM
Comment #100129

Europeans are subjected to TV and film that is such garbage that no US citizen would ever watch. They get the programs that never made it on the air, and for good reason. It’s no wonder that Europeans think that we live in a racist criminal society, devoid of culture. You’d think the same thing if you had to watch this programming.

Because my wife is French, we spend every summer there, and over the last 11 years I’ve had ample opportunity to see both sides of this issue.


On the other hand, every european I’ve met who has visited the US has fallen in love with some aspect of it, like the energy of our cities, or the beauty of our landscape, or the opportunities to change your station in life. Even those who haven’t visited have a love/hate fascination for the US.

My wife still loves her country, but would never go back to work there. There is too much paperwork in everyday life, and innovation is often stifled by lack of imagination by administration in business and government. Changing careers in France at age 35 is practically impossible, but in the US everyone I know is working their second or third career.

Posted by: Loren at December 8, 2005 6:31 AM
Comment #100133

Jay Jay the Snowman,

Doesn’t Sodom fit ‘em to a tee? (Can you please chair our DNC)

I love the assumption, blame it on Hollywood especially when the claim is attempting to be made that that’s why they hate us. Dear God it’s downright laughable!!!

American blacks in general are the most influential people on the globe. Did you ever stop to think about it? All they brought forth in terms of art and culture have flown the world over. Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Motown, hip hop. And now the presumption is why don’t they do what we whites want them to do? And what is that something asexual maybe dance on stairs with white children while dressed as butlers? They have their own labels and can do what they want.

The problem isn’t that, it’s the global tv networks owned by people like Rupert Murdoch. who owns numerous Americanized tv stations the world over. Bringing people in Europe disgusting idiot shows like the man show. The government is seen as the villain in some movies because rarely do politicians or tax auditors make exciting heroes. But at the same time we do have the West Wing which does have a nonsensical Californianized White House as its theme. So there’s one atleast.

What would the right-wing like to see? Myself not so much of a tv zombie as some on the right. Jerry Springer is on British tv (or was) which I’ve always found a good morality play and they’re always so surprised to find out their babymama been cheatin’ on them. What would the right want to see?

I have a tv show proposal called “the Jesus Files” where each week Jesus solves a crime through a forensic investigation. Would that be more to the right-wings liking? Or a show where Ayn Rand is genetically cloned and fights hard to solve crimes in poor neighborhoods. It’s called “Aynal vengeance”. Or maybe a full NFL broadcast with right wing commentators, oh wait we have that. I got it how about a right wing news channel? Or several more that placate the concerned letters of it’s conservative viewers to the point where they don’t do news anymore that might be construed as leftist. Or a news channel that won’t allow a democrat to have his own show unless he has a right wing pundit beside him? Would republicans like that more?

Republicans what I’m saying is that this is your arena now. It is all of it!!! Ask yourselves, because the ones who broadcast are largely your brood. Even Clearchannel the home of dozens of shock jocks that you abhor. this is all a republican problem don’t say it’s liberal. Even the more violent and sexual programming is republican owned.

The movie studios aren’t republicanly owned although but very republicanly traded on Wall Street.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 7:05 AM
Comment #100142

JACK

I had another thought, maybe seeing a government official as a bad guy to be taken down reinforces the sense of justice to countries that otherwise do not have such a responsive system of justice. See what I’m saying if we can take down a ruthless, corrupt politician and in their countries they can’t perhaps the show of justice has a quality to it that needs to be there. It has a beauty to it doesn’t it?

And as far as Eminem, the twelve year olds love him. Why because he’s juvenile (not to be confused with rapper Juvenile—joke) he’s got dumb puppets and Fitty cent who has the vocabulary of the average twelve year old. These are dumb people right at their level. How do you combat it? You don’t they fade and tides change. But it’s still capitalism. What ever happened to those FCC regulations for MTV? Oh that’s right the lobbies paid everyone off.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 8:21 AM
Comment #100144

I don’t live in the world of the media either. But on the other hand, I don’t live in the world of our president either. I’m not his base, I don’t own a tux or a big car or a big house. I have no idea how these movie makers can think our govt is bad.

Posted by: Gerald at December 8, 2005 8:23 AM
Comment #100147

Let’s not forget that Jazz, which is considered now by many to be the greatest artistic contribution to the world made by this country, was long considered a vulgar form of expression.

Posted by: Max at December 8, 2005 8:34 AM
Comment #100152

Max,
You’re right. THere are not Thousands of inner city people not ecscaping it. For the few that have the brains and the will to succeed and do ecscape through their education then kudos. But… Jack…You cannot possibily tell me that you believe that the best raod out of the inner city, and I mean the real inner city, is through education. Most of these kids drop out of school by the time there 15. AND even if a few thousand are ecscaping there are still Millions not. As far as the countless asians your refering to, They are not comiong from the inner cities. IF you think back upon history they lived out West when they came to this country. Yes some of them are coming from the cities but many are not. Also a good majority of them are from military Fathers who brought their wives back from Korea. Those people are not beating any odds. As far as you taking what I said and turning into - “This idea that if you can’t rap or dunk a basketball you’ve got not future in America would be a very big surprise”- thats not what I said. I said thats the best way for people in the inner city to get out. Theres more money and maybe even better odds than getting a proper education. Finally, Jay Jay was right. YOu cant blame it all on Hollywood. Hollywood doesnt tell us what to buy. THey work jsut like every other company in AMerica - THey sell what WE want to buy. tHat is the most marketable thing out there right now. SO, the bible belt and you super-conservatives need to address your shopping habits and end the hypocrisy.

Posted by: austin at December 8, 2005 9:10 AM
Comment #100154

Loren,

Because my wife is French, we spend every summer there, and over the last 11 years I’ve had ample opportunity to see both sides of this issue.

Oh, Summer.
Summer is definitively the worst season to watch TV or to go in a movie theatre in France. Half of french are not watching TVs nor seein movies during this period, and its reflect on overall quality.
Fortunatelly when September comes it raise again.

On the other hand, every european I’ve met who has visited the US has fallen in love with some aspect of it, like the energy of our cities, or the beauty of our landscape, or the opportunities to change your station in life. Even those who haven’t visited have a love/hate fascination for the US.

My wife still loves her country, but would never go back to work there. There is too much paperwork in everyday life, and innovation is often stifled by lack of imagination by administration in business and government.

True enough. Sadly.

Changing careers in France at age 35 is practically impossible, but in the US everyone I know is working their second or third career.

That’s possible. But I guess it’s harder here in France because of this f*cking focus on diploma whatever experience you may have acquired since. Seems that things are starting to move on this topic, though.

Your frenchly,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 9:18 AM
Comment #100156

Jack,

We, in this country, celebrate juvenille behaviour like it was the Holy Grail. We spend our teenage years trying to appear older, then spend every nanosecond after we turn 21, trying to look younger than we actually are.
We celebrate our myopic view of life through the misogynist, racist, violent, lyrics of rap “music”. Our heros are sports stars that, for the most part, couldn’t get a job outside of sports, because Illiteracy is ok. We are treated, through our capitalistic views, to life as an infomercial.

BTW, we do no better protraying the rest of the world.
Most people in this country have no clue what life is like any place else, and what’s worse is they are content in their fantasy world of how they think things really are.

Posted by: Rocky at December 8, 2005 9:23 AM
Comment #100158

All

Actually we deserve everything we get.

America is decaying…in every respect…morally,academically,professionially…and there is no end in sight.

When people start to talk about religion or better values they are slapped as neo-cons in two seconds.

Liberal…way to liberal…pornography laws have corrupted an entire generation of very little kids…simply tap in the word porn and your off to the races.

How sad.

Yet as bad as we are,we are better than 90% of the world.

Since we need to start someplace,education is the place…both here and in Iraq by the way

Posted by: sicilianegle at December 8, 2005 9:32 AM
Comment #100159

JayJay,
You have to be joking to think that Jesus was a liberal (in the US Democrat mold). Like many Republicans, I believe that individuals should be very generous to the poor, I just hate the beauracracy of entitlement programs that takes so much from the middle class and eventually trickles down a little bit to the poor.

The whole issue of “Tax cuts for the rich” that seems to be the refrain of the Democratic party, rich people don’t get these tax cuts, the middle class does. Rich people — the really rich people that are so evil already have high priced accountants who find the loopholes. Take a look at John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, John Edwards or Arianna Huffington’s tax records (they are public record). The people who benefit from lowering taxes and cutting loopholes are primarily the middle class.

Jesus told a parable about Talents once. I think that is the best example of how Jesus looked at socialism / capitalism. I know a lot of Christian Democrats like to ignore that parable because it hurts their arguments. You should take a look at that one. On the issue of Jesus’ strong push toward charity - I agree 100%, I just think the government over the last 50 years+ has proven that private charities can do a lot better.

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 9:36 AM
Comment #100162

Sicillian eagle?

They have porn on the net now??? What???

Posted by: elephant wrestler at December 8, 2005 9:45 AM
Comment #100164

Elephant wrestler (Hmmm)

Porn for eagles…brand new.

Posted by: sicilianesgle at December 8, 2005 9:49 AM
Comment #100165

Norberto,

Yes by us in the middle getting none of the tax cuts that helps us, woo good logic. Keep it up and no dem will be able to conquer that.

BTW Jesus was a pinko commie!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 9:52 AM
Comment #100172

Novenge

were you the one person in this country who did not get a tax refund? Or let me guess mommy and daddy are paying for your 12th year of college and you’ve never had a job.

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 10:12 AM
Comment #100176

Did we get what they got at the top, no. 12th year of college, pretty cute.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 10:25 AM
Comment #100177

Aldous

My wife watches “Desperate Housewives” and I pay passing attention. I don’t have anything against it except it is becoming a little boring lately. It is a soap opera.

Austin

The house I live in has almost the exact square footage of the average American house. The year I bought it, my family income was almost exactly the median American income. My neighborhood is nicer than average and the people better behaved. So am I. Something wrong with that?

Most people don’t live in the ghetto. In fact most Americans are not black. Most blacks are not poor. Most poor blacks don’t live in a ghetto and most poor blacks who live in the ghetto are not violent. So don’t give me that “you live in a special world crap” and imply that most of the country lives in the squalor and violence portrayed in too much of the media.

BTW - I work in Washington DC and regularly run through the local “ghetto”. It is not a bad place from the running point of view. I have never been robbed or even bothered and never seen the kinds of things portrayed in the movies. In fact, some years back I remember a local lefty group hosted a group of Norwegian journalists. They wanted to show them the ghetto, so they took them to a region of DC called Anacostia to show how bad things were, but the distressing thing is that the Norwegians described a run down place, but with trees and parks. They ended up with the idea that the U.S. wasn’t as bad as they thought. Many Europeans have that experience when they actually visit the U.S. That says something about the difference between perceptions and reality.

Re the best way out of the ghetto - it is education. That is why I support vouchers and charter schools to give the ghetto kids a chance to get out of their failing schools. There is really no other way out for the vast majority.

Rocky

You have a point about our juvenile culture. As better standards have dropped, we are left with the lowest common denominators that include sex and impulsive behavior. Juveniles are good at those things.


All

I took my sons to see “8 Mile”. It was actually a good movie. But the squalid life it portrayed doesn’t make you think the U.S. is a nice place to live. I am not saying we should ban such things, but they don’t portray reality any more than “Napoleon Dynamite” (a much better movie) did.

Many rappers, BTW, are not ghetto kids. Where was it that P Diddy grew up?

Posted by: Jack at December 8, 2005 10:27 AM
Comment #100181

Something to think about.

I have read a lot of talk here about the “inner city,” upward mobility, and the effect(?) of our popular culture on Civilization.

As regards upward mobility, that is a matter of families working towards creating opportunities for their younger generations. My parents emigrated here in the early 1960’s from Eastern Europe. They were certainly poor, and I certainly didn’t benefit from the classic middle-class upbringing. Yet, I managed to get to college and earn both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. My kids have had the advantages of a middle-class upbringing, and all three are currently enrolled in college. What was the secret of that success? Simple. My parents stressed the importance of education. Every night when I got home from school, I was required to complete my homework. First, before anything else. There was no argument, no discussion. They checked my work to ensure it was complete. Talk around the dinner table involved detailed discussions of what me and my sisters did that day in school, what we studied, and what we learned. They made certain to be involved in school activities. My wife and I followed the same pattern with my sons.

Now, I don’t live in the “inner city” any longer. However, I still live close by, and my town is a wonderful blend of different ethnicities with a very high immigrant population. On my block alone, there are Brazilian, Peruvian, Haitian, Indian and Portuguese families (in additon to the original German, Jewish, Scots-Irish, and Latvian families). Guess what? The local schools are regarded as some of the best in the state of NJ, without the high dropout rates (or “multicultural diversity training”) that plague many districts with similar demographics. The reason? Parental involvement. If you want your kids to succeed, get out into the community and make it happen; don’t wait for teachers/administrators/government to make it happen. There is no doubt that the inner city environment is tough, and the schools are often sub-standard. But there is no substitute for individual action. You can either follow the pack, or decide to be something more than your peers. The decision is entirely yours.

As for out lack of standing in the world, that is basic nationalism at play. Everybody likes to think that their way of life, their culture, is best. Some (like the French) take it to extremes. We can’t help that, and the more powerful we become, the more resentment builds around the world. For me, this is a non-issue. It only points to the success that this nation has enjoyed. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that resentment of the US has increased the further away form the Cold War we move?

Finally, on Pop-Culture: It is what it is. My kids listen to Eminem, even though I don’t particularly care for him. I listened to AC/DC, even though my parents didn’t particularly care for them. Some movies I like, some I don’t. Most television is mindless drivel, and always has been (please, don’t anyone tell me Charlie’s Angels or Three’s Company were terrific examples of American Life in the 1970’s). This complaint has been circulating since I was a small child. Personally, I think it is a manifestation of our own insecurity regarding “classy” entertainment. After all, American Pop Culture doesn’t have icons like Beethoven or Da Vinci it can call its own. We have given the world Elvis and Andy Warhol.

Posted by: Ray at December 8, 2005 10:40 AM
Comment #100182

Jack makes no real reference towards any political party, but instead concentrates on how bad our pop culture “sucks” and right off the bat, its the same old blame Bush and the evil Republicans mantra, that we always hear.

“Maybe we have met the enemy and he is us”

US!
He doesnt go off on a tangent and start blaming liberals and shouting names but yet, that is what he received.
This culture he speaks about does “suck,” bigtime. Women are just sex objects and violence rules. Take what you want from others, no need to better yourself and earn it.
Its not a left vs right or me vs you problem.
Its US and unless all of US join together to fix this deterioration, it will be our children who continue to suffer its consequences.
Nice openminded post Jack.

Posted by: Tim Huff at December 8, 2005 10:40 AM
Comment #100188

Jack,

It speaks volumes that Bay Watch was the #1 TV show in the world for years.

Posted by: Rocky at December 8, 2005 11:01 AM
Comment #100189

Novenge,

Didn’t mean to offend, I just have to many friends who are still in college and in their 30’s who somehow have this amazing perception at what it is like in the real world.

Did the middle class get less than the rich? possibly, but we don’t really know because were the rich really even paying, or were they putting their money into tax exempt trusts and IRAs while bemoaning us for not paying “our fair share” because we only pay 28% of our income to the Feds, 7.5% to Social Security, 2% to Medicare, 8.5% to the state (varies) 2% to local (where you work) and 2% local (where you live). That’s 50% of your income (in a middle tax bracket) and that doesn’t include sales tax, consumption tax on items like beer or gasoline, etc.

I have no problem being “liberal” with my money when it comes to donating to charity, I have a problem with a some rich guys in Washington (with a few token women and minorities) being “liberal with my money, because they are ineffective and have done little to solve the problems they have set out to fix. I think 50+ years of lack of success in entitlement programs is enough evidence to show failure.

Posted by: Norberto at December 8, 2005 11:02 AM
Comment #100193

Washington is awash in greed and corruption and we’re blaming the media?

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 8, 2005 11:26 AM
Comment #100194

Norberto,

My contention isn’t with tax refunds, yes I get those too there guy. Okay and I um don’t live with, what was it? “Mommy and daddy” which BTW was a cute swipe.

Okay what I am talking about are the tax-cuts that Bush is currently trying to make permanent for the upper 4% on their income for the sake of investment purposes as evidenced by the removal of taxation on dividends. My contention is the “as if” they ned it with granted all of the loopholes (as you have dually noted). The trust fund kids don’t need the tax cuts the way we in the middle and lower middle require them. So this tax-cut stuff isn’t for the good of the country it is for the further feathering of nests already feathered. And as we are in a, what seems to be, a long term war they can make money off of all the military industrials while in the middle we are stuck with higher prices on every front. Whether fuel or shipping costs that we have to consume which carries over to what we pay in the grocery store for items. We are getting screwed at their expense and we have unfortunately a sea of nodding heads about it.

I say let Bush continue with his wild spending then turn around in a starve the beast form and cut out all social spending and leave pretty much nothing BUT 3 THINGS:

Military
Corporate welfare
and tedium bureacracy: Post office and the like.

that’s what this strain of libertarianly inspired republicans are going to do as has begun now.

the spend the nation into the floor and turn around and hatchet cut every service leaving us to squander as pretty much a third world nation.

Why do you think they aren’t allowing the listing of all of the government employees? Because they are spending wildly and when they hit the bottom they will cut it all. And you may say well some of those things have to go well when they go, what will that do? IT PUTS ALL THE COST ON YOU WITHIN YOUR STATE! Where it’s actually more expensive.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 11:29 AM
Comment #100196
I took my sons to see “8 Mile”. It was actually a good movie. But the squalid life it portrayed doesn’t make you think the U.S. is a nice place to live.

It all depends on where you live. Sadly, even the Detroy portrayed in 8 Mile looks far greater than many places on earth.
And, please, have a little faith on viewers worldwide. They’re not that idiots, for the most part they can make difference between a fiction and a documentary. And even knows that a documentary is still a subjective view of something, sometime it’s even a faked one.

Anyway, twisting your culture to artificially present a more positive view of America is not the best way to restore your image worldwide. Quite the reverse. Instead, fix what’s actually negative on the ground.

For example, the french streets violence last month were not as bad as your US medias reported them, but anyway we (french) indeed should fix what’s wrong in our youth in these suburbs.
If the impact on our foreign image is not all deserved, at least it push on us a little bit more pressure to actually do something to improve it.

Now the question is: does a majority of french actually care about their image worldwide?
Guess what? You betcha! Shame is sometime a powerfull tool…

Does a majority of americans care enough of the US image worldwide?

Your frenchly,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 11:34 AM
Comment #100198

Jack,

You said yourself that you took your children to see “8Mile”. Is it pop-culture that is to blame for you decision?

All,
What alot of the new “puritans”(Christian fundamentalists) rally against are things that are not being forced on them. They want to make moral judgement calls for the rest of the world, usually based on sexual and social issues that are so problematic for them they fanatically immerse themselves in the church. They also try and force their views on the rest of us.
Where are the posts about the far-right kooks?
I do agree that there are products and entertainment media that I would not purchase or watch. I don’t have to.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 8, 2005 11:54 AM
Comment #100199

Novenge,
I misunderstood your original post when you said something about getting none of the tax cuts, and my point has always been, on a matter of principal, taxes should be low, only needed for the programs that the people can’t do or won’t do competitively. I agree that military, post office, etc. need to be fulfilled by the federal gov’t.

The problem is that the tax code is such a fabulous web of taxes and breaks that the richest in the country can get find the holes while regular people like us get the shaft. How to fix this is the question and I just take the practical position with the Republicans that taxes should be cut as opposed to the Democrat position they should be raised. There isn’t much of a middle ground because of the parties views on gov’ts role in you wallet. It may sound simple and naive, but when I worked on the hill I learned that there are basically two types of people who work in washington, those who think they can solve every problem and those who think you can solve your own problems. I’m with the latter.

I think we agree with the problem, you just want a more direct way to get to the solution and I am content with any little progress. I have seen how slow progress is made in DC. Just my opinion.

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 11:56 AM
Comment #100201

Philippe,

Thanks for the feedback. It’s sad though that in France you have to decide your career direction during the US equivalent of 8th grade, and woe to those who want to change their mind later on. BTW I agree with you about the riots. The US media made it seem like the whole country was in flames. No one I know in France really had any contact with it.

Sicilian Eagle
Are you one of those people who blasts sex on TV but has no problem with graphic violence?

Posted by: Loren at December 8, 2005 12:05 PM
Comment #100202

The other problem tends to be, to add on to my upper post, is that once the federal government is slashed and the tax cuts made permanent who pays down the deficits. Not the rich anymore it will all fall on the middle. I’m already getting screwed hard with property taxes locally living in a wasteful blue state with a bipartisan statehouse and republican governor. I don’t want the burden of having to pay down other people’s messes and that tax hike will fall right on the heads of the middle classes now as Bush would have it. I just bought a six thousand dollar vehicle and had to pay nearly 2 grand in taxes as a result. Now a tax increase for me to pay off all the bills of the upper 4%???? I think it’s time they start paying their own bills and get off my back. What right do they, the rich, have to make you pay down all of the deficits?

And Norberto I did take the first swipe, so no harm no foul.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 12:17 PM
Comment #100203

Novenge,
I agree… I think, though, once spending is cut dramatically, these tax cuts and the closing of loopholes will make it more fair (each class will pay their what they should) and it will all balance out. The two keys are:
1. Dramatic spending cuts at the federal level
2. A simple tax code.
I know libs hate it, but a flat tax, or simple tax rates without exemptions are the only ways to do it. If they do take out the exemptions, they’d have to lower the rates.

No worries

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #100204

The triumph of American popular culture as our most visible export is nothing to be proud of and conservatives should decry much of it for its toxic effects at home or abroad. True conservatives have never been confused that free market capitalism can stress the integrity of the requirements of cutlure. They’ve been saying this since Hilliare Belloc, H.L. Mencken, The Southern Agrarians, and William Rusher. The ideological neoconservatives and libertarians who’ve become the principle public intellectuals of the Republican Party are quite divorced from the conservative tradition of which I am speaking.

That said, we should not confuse the retrogade, property-like control of women in the Muslim World as a sign of their moral superiority. They don’t like our pop culture not because it’s decadent, though it is, but because it shatters their immoral prerogatives of rigid social control. It is rather a sign of their backwardness, paranoia, and disrespect for the dignity of the person that they oppose our culture, ranging from MTV and Eminem to Shakespeare, Nabakov, Tolstoy, and the other real jewels of western civilization. They don’t want these things suppressed because they’re immoral; they don’t want them because they threaten the hegemony of a useless class of overlording men without an ounce of chivalry between them. They control their women not out of respect for chastity but out of a primitive obsession with their own honor and a pathological concern for the family and tribe without a counterbalancing concern for the community as a whole.

Posted by: Roach at December 8, 2005 12:36 PM
Comment #100213

Phillipe

It does depend on where you live. But I have crossed my country by car five times. I have been in every one of our states with the odd exception of Missouri. I have been in bad parts of Washington DC and through many of our major cities. There are parts of Chicago that are like the movie. The scariest place I have ever been in the part of New Orleans that is now under water. Please don’t restore it to its former condition.

There are places like that. But 99% of the U.S. is not like that. Geographically most of the U.S. is very pleasant small towns or suburbs and most Americans live there.

Also I really am not sure what we can do about the problems we do have. We declared war on poverty and poverty won. In Europe when faced with similar problems the welfare states don’t do any better and maybe worse as we are now seeing. Europe only recently faced the sorts of diversity challenges the U.S. has worked with for many years and the results are not encouraging.

Andre

I didn’t say we should ban such things and I am a consumer of some of them. It is just that we also have to recognize that we are judged by what people see in the media. Most foreigners have never been to the U.S. Most could not pass even a multiple-choice test on what U.S. policy is. (Neither could most Americans) The image comes from the media.

We can and should sometimes show the bad parts of our culture. But there is a little imbalance when you revel in the worst. What we see has consequences.

If a thirty-second commercial can sell you a product, why can’t a repeated thirty-minute television show sell you a lifestyle? I would not ban advertising and I would not ban programs, but I recognize the benefits AND problems of each. Try to understand what they are selling and ask if you want to buy. The problem with the lifestyle is that even if you don’t buy, you will be impacted by those who do.

Posted by: Jack at December 8, 2005 12:53 PM
Comment #100214

“I don’t want the burden of having to pay down other people’s messes”

Neither do I.
End welfare and SS as means of retirement now.

Posted by: kctim at December 8, 2005 12:55 PM
Comment #100215

Norberto,

I agree with some of what you are saying but there are very little signs that tax loopholes are closing. But widening and the assertion to make tax cuts permanent which may or may not be a pandering move or a front to get more contributions.

I have very little problem with a simplification in taxes being that the myriad loopholes/write-offs and permanent tax cuts for the wealthy are not present. we are running enormously high deficits and I see that falling right on our backs. Secondly 27% if flattened, just for illustrative purposes, the 27% out of me and the 27% out of a millionaire doesn’t leave him reeling. He’s still wealthy I might however be in the doghouse as a result. So the taxation has to have a slant to it, leaning towards them paying more. And businesses having loopholes isn’t really the conncern.

Do you know what the largest debt is after military, Corporate welfare. We need to cut this back by a healthy thirty or so percent if not more. We cut welfare to mothers which was a 1% expenditure and the other 99% we leave alone? this needs to be cut moreso than federal government and yes I actually am for governmental streamlining but not gutting as is being proposed by the right these days. We are a large country we do have to have a bigger federal government than most countries one fifth our size or even one tenth. So a big government isn’t the problem it’s all in the useless cogs and either getting them working or replace them.

If you get bored online google up corporate welfare, it will shock you how companies getting millions in loans annually don’t ever have to pay us back through extentions which can be as long as twenty years. We have to pay that off. If we were to cut corporate welfare or turn it into a viable loan system we would have all the money we need for REAL TAX CUTS in the middle and still have enough to spend on education.

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 12:55 PM
Comment #100222

KCTIM,

Did you know that you can pull your money out of SS now and not have to pay into it if you don’t want to?

(Jack—I’ll stop the posts that don’t have to do with Hollywood and hegemonic influence)

Posted by: Novenge at December 8, 2005 1:18 PM
Comment #100224

Novenge
I agree. The ultimate problem is beaurocracy - how out of control and incompetent it is. It needs to be reined in. After that, budget falls, debt falls, and taxes can subside. If you cut the source though, maybe you’ll have an effect on the spenders, so any tax cut will suffice for now.

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 1:26 PM
Comment #100228

Jack, aren’t you going to write an article about the “War on Christmas”? It’s really becoming quite a popular culture conservative talking point recently.

Philippe:
“I agree that the overall quality of many US pop culture is decreasing. But not the independent one. In fact, more and more underground or non-aligned american culture is considered of great quality and appreciated in Europe.”

I agree completely, Philippe! American Independent Culture is Vibrant, Alive and Thriving — and the same is true of Independent Culture all over Europe, and in many other places in the World, as well.
Pop Culture has always been geared to the lowest common denominator — which has always meant that people who crave and relentlessly search for originality and brilliance will rarely come across it in what is being commercially produced. Occasionally someone or some genre of culture that developed outside the mainstream will manage to emerge, or builds a following through “the hipness factor” until it is finally embraced by many (whereupon it will often be gutted and/or watered down for easy consumption by the masses). But these days, this is becoming more and more rare because of the money it takes to produce and mass-market culture in all its many forms. Luckily there are things like The Sundance Film Festival and Cannes which are dedicated to screening films that might not otherwise gain an audience. The same sort of situation can be found in Music, Art, Writing and Poetry, and even Fashion.
True Culture is made by mavericks and adventurers, and those who wish to discover it need to share a similar attitude, too.

SicEagle:
“When people start to talk about religion or better values they are slapped as neo-cons in two seconds.”

I wish they could be — literally slapped, that is. Because for the most part, they pay lip-service to religion while spouting hatred, intolerance, hard-heartedness, a lust for war and an acceptance of torture. And their values are not better in any way, shape or form. Instead, Neocon’s have been demonstrating to everyone that they have no values, for where is the morality in engaging in corruption, cronyism, lies and secrecy?

Norbert:
“The whole issue of “Tax cuts for the rich” that seems to be the refrain of the Democratic party, rich people don’t get these tax cuts, the middle class does.”

Class Warfare With Taxes — article by Robert Reich

Posted by: Adrienne at December 8, 2005 1:33 PM
Comment #100230
Or a show where Ayn Rand is genetically cloned and fights hard to solve crimes in poor neighborhoods. It’s called “Aynal vengeance”.

Novenge,

OMG, that’s hilarious! What I don’t understand is that if people don’t like what they see on TV, there are alternatives catered just to them. One is called PAX TV. 12 hrs of Touched by an Angel, 10 hrs of Stairway to Heaven and 2 hrs of Jack Van Impotence and Godzilla. They can even use their V-Chip and only have one channel. What’s on tonight? PAX TV. What else? PAX TV.

It all depends on where you live. Sadly, even the Destroy portrayed in 8 Mile looks far greater than many places on earth.

I live right outside Detroit, I’ve never seen the movie, but I have been on 8-mile and it doesn’t seem so bad to me. In fact is anything as bad as what is portrayed in the movies? People who have an impression of the U.S. are living in the movies not in reality. Millions and Millions see violent and sexually explicit movies every year, do all these people go out and imitate what they have seen? No, it is a very small minority. There is obviously something else at work there.

Where I live, we pick up Canadian TV channels, and It’s my favorite channel before bed, puts me right out. But one thing that is drastically different is that they have no problem with nudity. I also know that nudity on TV and in the media is a non-issue in Australia. I have never been outside the U.S. (except to Canada) but I have picked up the impression that the U.S. is the most sexually repressive in the public square. What does repression cause? Rebellion. Maybe the problem isn’t the media, maybe we’re just uptight.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 8, 2005 1:53 PM
Comment #100233

All
Why do you have to politicize everything that comes down the pike? I thought that Jack’s post had to do with culture not politics. The culture is immoral and is growing worse. For hundreds of years it has been immoral to take a lover of the same sex. Now we have become so wise, smart, knowledgeable, understanding, and deceitful that in just a few short years it gets pounded down our throats that if we oppose homosexuality, then we are the nuts jobs. How sick! Entertainers (sic) use vulgarity, violence, inhumane treatment and on and on in their movies, music, art, drama and wonder why people are uncomfortable with that. Get real! Should the moral level of entertainment ever return to normal, common sense values then society will return to good standards and values. The family fracturing today goes hand in hand with all the immorality. Why do those in Hollywood try to get the death penalty removed from a gang founder and murderer? Why do those musicians (sic) have to include lyrics that are so offensive? It all comes down to the giver and receiver of immorality. I feel like preaching now, but instead I’ll close.

Posted by: tomh at December 8, 2005 2:04 PM
Comment #100234
I have a problem with a some rich guys in Washington (with a few token women and minorities) being “liberal with my money, because they are ineffective and have done little to solve the problems they have set out to fix. I think 50+ years of lack of success in entitlement programs is enough evidence to show failure.

Norberto,

This is a problem of the voters, and actually has nothing to do with left or right. We re-elect something like 95% of our incumbents. There are no term limits. This has led to career politicians whose only concern is getting re-elected. So instead of fixing the problems with government they pander to the special interests, to bring in boat loads of money, that they can use to run smear campaigns. Government does not work for the people, they work ultimately for themselves.

Jesus told a parable about Talents once. I think that is the best example of how Jesus looked at socialism / capitalism. Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 09:36 AM

norberto,

Please enlighten me, or at least point me to where this parable is found in the bible.

How to fix this is the question and I just take the practical position with the Republicans that taxes should be cut as opposed to the Democrat position they should be raised.

Norberto,

Let’s be realistic about this shall we? I think everyone, liberal or conservative, are all for tax cuts. None of us are out there saying “damnit! I wish the government would take more of my wages”
One of the problems with your assumption is that the Republicans do cut taxes, but then they spend at unprecedented levels. The deficit is expected to reach 11 trillion in just a few years. Then what happens? The public will get fed up and put a Democrat in office. The democrat must fix the problem. They have no choice but to raise taxes. Then they get labeled a tax and spend democrat. It’s all bullshit.

This is exactly what has been happening in my state of Michigan over the last few years. Republican Gov. John Engler, made a huge mess out of Michigan’s budget and finances over several terms. In the last election, Democrat Jennifer Granholm won the governorship. Since she has taken office she has had to deal with cleaning up Engler’s mess. It has been difficult. She has had to raise taxes, esp. sin taxes, and make other unpopular decisions? Some, esp. Republicans have a very poor view of her. But truth be told Jennifer Granholm didn’t create the problem she has been charged with cleaning up.

The same is true with the welfare system. It started out as a promise to Americans during the depression, that our government would help those who had fallen on hard times. But over the decades, different administrations and career politicians have tampered with it so much that we have wound up with what we have today.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 8, 2005 2:08 PM
Comment #100235

It is very convenient to quote the parable of the talents and then forget about the parable of the good samaritan, the prodigal soon, or the “as ye have done it to the least of these” lessons, or all the other times that Jesus talks about taking care of poor. Nice trick that.

Now you can argue that Jesus wasn’t a democrat and I’d agree, but it’d be silly to argue that he was a conservative, he was revolutionary in his time and anything but interested in keeping things as they were.

Posted by: chantico at December 8, 2005 2:13 PM
Comment #100240

tomh:
“It all comes down to the giver and receiver of immorality. I feel like preaching now, but instead I’ll close.”

But Tom, those who are always preaching can also be extremely immoral. Some anti-abortionists for instance: Bizarre Sex Habits of The Extreme Right-Wing

Posted by: Adrienne at December 8, 2005 2:33 PM
Comment #100246

I’m so glad someone brought this topic up. Although there is no perfect place in the world, we live in what should be “as good as it gets”. Nevertheless, there is an abundance of irresponsability for one’s actions. Starting with this administration that doesn’t own up to any mistakes and ending with 50cent exploiting the anger of poor America, i am constantly in shock. It is true that the SuperBowl is not the place for Janet Jackson to flash a boob, but most of those concerned parents who called CBS are the same ones who buy their kids the 50cent video game and cd. How is nudity more damaging than violence? Why is our school system torn appart by religious fights instead of teaching kids how to take care of the earth they didn’t create? How can so many Americans think of environmentalists as a pest? Let’s take a look at the man in the mirror and fix our own faults. Maybe then our reflection will be cleaner and nicer.

Posted by: Kemuel at December 8, 2005 3:06 PM
Comment #100259
For hundreds of years it has been immoral to take a lover of the same sex. Now we have become so wise, smart, knowledgeable, understanding, and deceitful that in just a few short years it gets pounded down our throats that if we oppose homosexuality, then we are the nuts jobs. How sick!

For thousands of years homosexuality was considered nothing special and even condoned by the Catholic church. Now the Catholic church has kicked out homosexual priests but not proven pedophiles. Just out of curiousity, do you hate blacks and Jews too? For the last couple hundred years it’s been ok to hate them as well.

Now let me ask you something else - Why do you care about homos? What’s it to you? Don’t you believe everyone should be free to pursue happiness? Who are you to know better than someone else what’s right for them?

Apologize for the derail.

Posted by: Max at December 8, 2005 3:52 PM
Comment #100268

The new Church position is very logical. Priests are celibate (in theory). If a priest was not celebate before he took the job, that is one thing. If he is practicing while on the job, that is another. If all priests act in a consistent way, they all have their temptations and they should all overcome them. There is no place for a practicing homosexual - or practicing heterosexual - in the priesthood.

Posted by: Jack at December 8, 2005 4:14 PM
Comment #100270

chantico,
i agree that the parable of the talents and the good samaratan and do to the least of your brothers…etc. The point is that those parables and lessons to me don’t justify socialism or social programs that fail. I think they point to the individual making sacrifices for their brother in need, not being forced to pay up by the tax collector for fear of imprisonment.

jayjay,
I think you are right that nobody wants higher taxes, but the question is how do you spend what you get and what is the best way to make taxes fair and economically benefitial. The spending is a problem, but most Democrats on both the federal and state level (at least here in Ohio and when I lived in Indiana) don’t see cutting spending as ever a solution, there is always more money out there to get. That is why in the late 80s/ early 90s economists were prediction the government to go bankrupt (read Bankruptsy 1995 - Great Book even though I don’t totally agree with much of it). Am I disappointed by the Republicans? Yes. But 40 years of Democratic control of congress was as bad plus we had higher taxes. My hope is that Bush continues to push the tax cuts hard and makes Congressional Republicans decide between taxes or higher spending. We already know how the Dems feel about that.

Posted by: norberto at December 8, 2005 4:22 PM
Comment #100280

Jack,

If you don’t like it move to Iraq. I hear they are going to have a Theocratic state where they dictate morals by law. I’m sure they wouldn’t put up with all these immoral issues.

Posted by: Tom L at December 8, 2005 4:48 PM
Comment #100283

Tom

That is a little unfair. Did you find anything in what I had written that advocated a theocratic state, or any censorship? Does it offend you that I don’t like many aspects of current popular culture and said so? Is dissent not allowed in your world? Does everyone have to love all aspects of the culture or move to Iraq? The place will be very crowded.

Posted by: Jack at December 8, 2005 4:59 PM
Comment #100298

Max
The Catholic church was and is wrong in its protection of pedophile and homesexual priests. To answer your question of Blacks and Jews. I have friends that are on a first name basis with me that are from 17 different nations or cultures. I hate nobody, period!! I have friends who are practicing homosexuals. They know my stand on what they are doing. I mentor prison convicts who are preparing to be released in the coming months. They were found guilty of a variety of crimes and felonies.
Now, you ask if I care about homos. Yes I care. You ask what’s it to me> Because deviant sexual behavior will prevent a person from practicing a deep spiritual relationship with GOD. And yes everyone should be free to pursue happiness. Homosexual activity does not provide anything near happiness. The reason I know better is that the Bible is my lifeline. In it the teaching for character building and a personal spiritual relationship with God is taught. Without that relationship with God I would have no hope in life here on earth and after I have departed.
I do not profess to be perfect by any means. I do have a refuge to turn to when things are not going the way they should, and that is through prayer and scripture. The scripture is how God talks to me. I do not hear a still small voice off of my shoulder talking in my ear. It is only through the scripture that God speaks to me.
This is how morality has relevance. There are those who say you cannot legislate morality. Then they are saying that rape, bank robery, assault, perjury, and so on are ok to do because you cannot legislate morality.
Oh, I see just some morality. But where do you draw the line. For those that think you cannot legislate morality how do you propose to handle the NAMBLA wrongs? How do you handle murder? If your loved one was raped, how would you handle it? How do you handle a speeding ticket?
The list is endless. Part of the reason these things are brought up is that our culture has passed the Sodom and Gomorah days or the old Roman Empire days. And , yet we pontificate that it is all right to pursue these wrongs. Hedonism is alive. Narcissism is alive. And both will bring a person down very fast.
Now that I have laid some ground work. I’m ready to deliver my sermon.

Posted by: tomh at December 8, 2005 5:34 PM
Comment #100302

norberto,

I’ll agree that said parables do not point to socialism. However, they do not point to what I’d consider conservative values either. They speak of sacrifice for the least of the brethren, something that I see nowhere with a six mile radius in the right wing. The left goes about it all wrong, to be sure. I’m an independent so to me the answer is in the middle somewhere, however I guess I’d rather be accused of having a bleeding heart than no heart.

Posted by: chantico at December 8, 2005 6:01 PM
Comment #100339

I find it very ironic that many people in this world are still fighting to put more and more power into the hands of the government to the point where we’re left with a socialistic/communisitc society in spite of the fact that Karl Marx himself admitted the utopia he dreamed of would never work.
Our society has not been doing very well in morality for at least a decade, but can we finally put a little blame on the fact that we had a president that showed the world that secrecy, lies, and sex were more important than security. The bottom line though is really pretty simple. Has there ever been an American society that was ever “perfect?” The 1980’s we saw the mass expansion of the military and tax revenues fly through the roof, but I vividly remember congressional spending absolutely out of control. In the 1960/70’s we had both sides of the war in Vietnam. (both with issues of their own) 1940/50’s we had WWII and Korea. (Great men and women fighting the war, but nothing spectacular happing at home except the famous horrible treatment of the black American) In the 1930’s we had the depression caused by unwise spending and investing in the 1920’s. 1900 through the teens the country was still reeling from the “civil” war. (war of northern aggression if your from the deep south) I can go on and on. To say our society is dwindelling in moral stance is ineffective because, where did the downward spiral start? If it has been dwindelling for so long, is there an end? How about face the fact that humans are naturally self-centered, greedy, and egotistical. It is the truely virtuous that are able to control these in-grown qualities.
In the end, I can’t say I’m a true conservative. I am more than that. I like to compare my views to that of Justice Anton Scalia. I believe in what was written and meant for this country. Our founders kept as much power away from the government as possible for a reason. Let virtuous men and women be elected to lead us in the world (not the corrupt)while the virtuous individual (society) control the details of our own lives, not the government. Am I conservative? Not really…I’m an originalist.

Posted by: abitaman at December 8, 2005 8:04 PM
Comment #100358
Because deviant sexual behavior will prevent a person from practicing a deep spiritual relationship with GOD. And yes everyone should be free to pursue happiness. Homosexual activity does not provide anything near happiness.

tomh,

You can attack my ideas, you can attack my politics, you can even attack my morality, but how dare you attack my relationship with God! Not only is it none of your business but my relationship with God is individual to me, between me and him, nobody else. You have no right to judge.

And don’t spread your hate that homosexuals cannot be happy. The only thing that interferes in our happiness are people like you. You want to push your idea of morality and God on everybody else. I hate to break this to you, but yours is not the only way, maybe not even the right way.

I am so sick of people who reduce homosexuality to sex. Sex is a very small part of life, for gays or straights. If you are so concerned about what makes people happy then why don’t you listen to them? We only want the same things as every other American. The right to form strong and loving family units, financial stability, the chance to raise children, and a chance to grow old together. The chance to be productive members of our community. Is this really too much to ask?

Why do you have to politicize everything that comes down the pike? I thought that Jack’s post had to do with culture not politics.
Politics have the power to help or hurt culture. Now we have become so wise, smart, knowledgeable, understanding, and deceitful that in just a few short years it gets pounded down our throats that if we oppose homosexuality, then we are the nuts jobs. How sick!

What is sick are people who think their way is the only way and it must be pushed onto everyone else.

It all comes down to the giver and receiver of immorality. I feel like preaching now, but instead I’ll close.

Don’t even bother preaching your hateful bullshit to me.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 8, 2005 9:03 PM
Comment #100371

tomh,

On the issue of legislating morality: things should be made illegal when we want to punish the person who does that thing. For example, rape should be illegal because we want to punish rapists because we think punishment will deter them from future crimes and the threat of punishment will deter others. If we as a society feel something is wrong, there are other tools we can use that are more effective than the legal system (public education for example), and if society is in disagreement as to whether or not something is wrong, it should most certainly not be made illegal.

Posted by: Erika at December 8, 2005 10:02 PM
Comment #100381
There are those who say you cannot legislate morality. Then they are saying that rape, bank robery, assault, perjury, and so on are ok to do because you cannot legislate morality.

BTW, toml, You really have not thought this threw, have you? Rape, murder, robery, & assault are all V-I-O-L-E-N-T crimes. What makes these things, including perjury, wrong and criminal is that they all have a victim. Consentual same-sex relationships are non-violent and lack a victim. In fact gays and lesbians are the victims of RW Christian hatred, maybe that should be a crime.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 8, 2005 11:06 PM
Comment #100395

Hi Jack,

“Think of a good Muslim seeing the gratuitous sex in rap videos.”

If our horrible (in my opinion) sex-music-videos caught on in the Arab world we’d probably be in a much stronger position there.

I tend to agree with you on much of what you said about popular culture. As much as I like sex I don’t approve of being bombarded with it the way the media does these days….I prefer to pick and choose the time and place and all that rather than watch simulated screwing all day.

I think much of what goes on in popular culture is degrading….it’s making us a sleazier country.

Given that you support systematic rape, murder, and torture of innocent civilians you are in no postition to be taking the moral high ground on this or any other issue.

Morality needs to be across the board. It’s ineffective to come out against the imorality of sexuality potrayed in the media while being in favor of systematic rape, murder, and torture of innocent civilians.

In order to advocate a standard for higher morality one needs be an advocate for it in general.

Extreme moral relatavists such as yourself are not the ones who can make your case effectively.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 8, 2005 11:59 PM
Comment #100397

I’ve long followed the entertainment culture for a long time, since I’m a wannabe filmmaker, and in my opinion, the problem is that the corporate and artistic cultures are taking too much of a deterministic, reductionist attitude with things.

Art is an emergent phenomena that we human beings use to convey messages too complex to simply outright state. Additionally, it is utterly subjective, so even if you could determine what some people like perfectly, you couldn’t do that for everybody.

The real problem is that people are being much too lily-livered in many cases to actually do what it takes to learn the complexities of meaning, much less the diversity of it possible. They are taught a set of conventions, or worse, they learn to succeed following trend after trend. Inevitably, as people wear down the same ruts in the same road, people begin to assume that it’s simply the way things are done.

In all actuality, they are just following the fossilized tracks of somebody else’s creative thinking, instead of developing their own instincts.

The Conservative/Liberal Cultural Wars are just a farce, really, because they emphasize censorship and negation in a free speech culture. What’s more, they fail to recognize the truth of the marketplace of ideas as emphasized by Theodore Sturgeons Eponymous law: 90% of everything is crap.

Most of that crap we forget, because most of that stuff never sticks to us. It doesn’t make a mark, because it never makes the difference in our minds needed to affect us. In some part, this is our own subjective opinion at work. Some things engage us that don’t interest others. But what we remember? What we remember are the movies which offer us experiences we don’t get elsewhere. Titanic brought emotion and passion to the big budget movie. The Lord of the Rings brought drama and emotional heft to a genre long simply the plaything of special effects artists. Star Wars brought us a dynamically believeable world of mythic power.

We have to realize that what people want is not dumbed down B.S. Hardly. People do not want to sit in front of a screen and feel stupid or bored. Even if the movie itself is dumb, they want the movie to do something with their time and attention. Those movies that fail to take advantage of the audience’s brainpower fail to take advantage of the audience’s time and attention. In the end, it’s more a matter of bringing clarity to what the audience doesn’t know, and not requiring the audience to earn a masters in the subject of your movie to have them understand what they’re watching.

Similar principles apply across the arts, in different forms: Respect the audience, take pride in your work, and bring new or better meaning to it than others do to theirs.

But more than anything else, stop trying to determine the undeterminable, anticipate the unpredictable. develop your craft, develop your instincts, and for heaven’s sake develop the ideas behind it all.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 9, 2005 12:02 AM
Comment #100399

“and for heaven’s sake develop the ideas behind it all.”

Thank you Stephen!

That gets at the essence of the matter.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 12:05 AM
Comment #100402

As one who has traveled the world much and lived in a number of different cultures, I would blame the media for much of the wrong images out there. Unless one actually travels and LIVES in that culture for a while, one does not really know what that country is like except through the various forms of media. Also, it is good to have friends in assorted countries and cultures to keep informed.

Yes, the American educational system is a failure. Years ago, my father told me that the extent of knowledge he gained in his 16 years of education was much more than what I learned in my comparable 16 years of education. I see this with my two children also and have told them the same thing. We all were provided private schooling for our first 12 years of schooling, but after that, we went to state schools for our college degrees. I am appalled at my children’s lack of knowledge. My German relatives for the most part speak two and three languages and it isn’t just in language skills that we fall down. My Brasilian wife speaks three languages.


And JayJay, why do you single out RW Christians as hating homosexuality? Do you think homosexuality is accepted in Japan or the Middle East where Christianity is virtually nonexistent? Hate is like a mirror, denying that makes you a hypocrite. Don’t be a hater yourself. Understand?

Posted by: Frank Dee at December 9, 2005 12:13 AM
Comment #100437

Frank Dee,

The negative views of homosexuality around the world, even in non-Christian cultures, have been influenced by Christianity. Christianity is the largest religion in the world and has been spread throughout the world. Many cultures that are non Christian have been exposed to Christianity at some point in history and parts have become part of tradition.

Homosexuality has been recorded from ancient times in Japan; indeed, love between men was viewed as the purest form of love.

While homosexuality has never been viewed as a sin in Japanese society and religion, and there is no specific legal prohibition, western religious thought has historically influenced the way that homosexuality has been viewed both by the Japanese government and by the population at large.

Homosexual love and even sex permeate Japanese popular culture to an extent that would be unimaginable in the US or Europe. Same-sex sexual interactions are largely unregulated by law and Japanese homosexual people face no legal discrimination.

Part of the perception that homosexuality is not accepted in Japan is that Gays and Lesbians don’t feel the need to press the issue. In Japan, since they don’t have much pressure from the government religiously and politically, gays don’t find it necessary to come out to the public and to fight against pressures from the society. IMO, If homosexuals did fight against these pressures in Japan I doubt they would be faced with the same hatred that homosexuals face here in the U.S. from RW Christians.

In much of the Middle East homosexuality was very much accepted. The relatively open and liberal attitudes in much of the Arab world came as a great shock to the straight-laced European travelers of the 18th and 19th centuries. The first people in Egypt to demand a law against homosexuality were the British, during the colonial period.

Although Islam strongly disapproves of sex between men, Muslim societies have generally been tolerant in practice.

Islam, the second largest religion and growing, is considered the most anti-homosexual of all the world’s religions by condemning the practice and enforcing strict punishments. Twenty-one percent of the world follows Islam giving this denomination great power and influence. There is no degree of acceptance and the Koran clearly states that it is sinful and undisputedly illegal.

I readily admit that much of Fundamental Islam’s views on homosexuality parallel the views of Fundamental Christians in this country.

Homosexuality is assumed to be a corruptive force to Muslim societies and that humans are not homosexuals by nature. Only by environment do these immoral ideas form. Islam states that the desire for same sex partners is a choice that can easily be controlled. These people deviate from the norm and should be treated like any other criminal who threatens tradition.

Homosexuality is a moral disorder, a sin and corruption… No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education… Homosexuality deprives a man of his manhood and a woman of her womanhood and leads to the destruction of family life.” (Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Islamic Society)

Sound familiar? Of course the big difference is that Islam takes it’s hatred to the ultimate extreme; execution.

The penalties for homosexuality range from flogging, imprisonment, or execution by throwing the criminal off a cliff or pushing a stone wall onto them. There is no leniency or forgiveness as shown in the 4,000 homosexuals which have been killed in Iran since 1979.

This of course leads to another question. Are homosexuals born or is it a choice? The penalty for homosexuality in Iran is death. What man would choose to be a homosexual in such a culture? Yet at least 4,000 paid the ultimate price. That makes no sense.

Many non Christian cultures throughout history were very accepting of homosexuality. In early American history, English fur trappers encountered many Native American tribes in this country that had homosexual members (or Two-Spirits as they were called). What intrigued them the most was the esteem with which these men were held by their fellow tribesmen. These men were considered to be spiritually gifted, a special gift to the tribe by God, men with a particular insight into spiritual matters. They were seen as prophets, men with mystical powers and the gift to see into two realms of the spirit at the same time - the realm of both men and women.

There were exceptions, of course, to the celebration of Two-Spirits, such as the Pimas of Arizona, but in most cases, Native American tribes, particularly the tribes of the Great Plains and the Southwest, were greatly admiring of their Two-Spirits. Among the Hopi and the Zuni of Arizona and New Mexico, these Two-Spirits held a special status. They were keepers of the ancient traditional stories of creation, healing and growth. But more than that, they were the keepers of the spiritual traditions, recognized for their special gift of being “between genders.”

By rejecting the approach of the Europeans, the Native Americans who celebrated this diversity among themselves largely avoided the stigmatization of the members of their tribes that results when someone does not neatly fit within a gender role framework, but becomes seen as a “deviant” instead.

When tribal elders are asked if there were any gays among them in pre-European times, they will inevitably answer with a resounding, “NO!” Yet when asked about the “nadle” or the “winkte” or some other native language term, the answer would be a fond, nostalgic “Yes!” even though the terms are really much the same. It is clear that homophobia is a cultural value that has been well absorbed from European Christians.

I could keep going on about non Christian cultures that were accepting of homosexuality but were “poisoned” when the false hateful Christian views were introduced. There are tribes throughout the world that previously had no knowledge of Christianity and have been reached by Christian missionaries. This has mostly had a negative effect on the social order, esp. as it relates to homosexuals.

So, Frank, as you can see most of the hate for homosexuals around the world has been influenced by Fundamental Christianity. As far as the Middle East is concerned, while Christianity and Islam definitely have radical differences, they also are similar. That’s because like Judaism and Christianity, all trace their roots to a common ancestor - Abraham.

Hate is like a mirror but like all conflicts there is an aggressor and a defender. I will put up with so much hate. As I said attack me, attack my lifestyle, my morality, my views, my politics but nobody has the right to attack my personal relationship with God. Period. Understand?

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 4:03 AM
Comment #100454

Abitaman,

Karl Marx himself admitted the utopia he dreamed of would never work.

Hence the use of words like utopia & dream in Marx’s texts. But as with many utopias, it’s not the end result that’s interesting (or not) but the changes made (or not) while progressing toward the utopian idea.

Our society has not been doing very well in morality for at least a decade, but can we finally put a little blame on the fact that we had a president that showed the world that secrecy, lies, and sex were more important than security.

Ironically, I consider sex being far more important than security.
Security try to provide safety on life but always fail short, thank to Death. Sex, on the otherside, have much successfully do great things to secure life on this little planet.
Plus happiness from security is, well, nowhere to be seen.

Your frenchly,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 9, 2005 5:43 AM
Comment #100455

JayJaySnowman
In my post above I displayed absolutely no hate. One can oppose someone or something without hating. The homosexual agenda in this country is to push hate laws. This would criminalize the thought process of opposing homosexuality. The homosexual agenda item of same sex marriage has nothing to do with marriage. The purpose on their agenda is to destroy marriage as people have know it for centuries.
When you read into someones writing the emotion of hate when it is not present, then it is very likely that the martyr or elitist attitude has presented itself by the reader. You took a small phrase or two and twisted it then built a response. If you had read my complete post and looked at the complete picture your conclusion may have been different. When I mentioned that I had friends who were homosexual, that statement is true. Therefore, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to hate a friend.
In the world I live in I cannot afford to hate people. I serve on the boards of several non-profit organizations that serve the needs of the community. I do not have time to hate. I do have time to have compassion for the state I find people in and try to help them with a need so that they can be lifted up and proceed to do better with their lives.
Now, just because someone opposes you and any idea you have does not constitute an attack upon you. It is only someone stating their views and they may or may agree with you.
The bottom line is don’t accuse someone of attacking you or hating you just because they say something that you disagree with.

Posted by: tomh at December 9, 2005 5:46 AM
Comment #100515

Frankly, I think homosexuality will always strike people a little oddly, since most people think in heterosexual terms. That said, what one does after that is a more complex matter. Societies have their different ways of permitting (or at the very least looking the other way) in regards to homosexuality, as well of ways of sanctioning against it.

I frankly think you don’t want to inflict on anybody the kind of cruelty you wouldn’t want inflicted on yourself. Beyond that, it’s what your conscience tells you is best.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 9, 2005 10:13 AM
Comment #100538

Louis

We are in the process of helping Iraqis escape from those things you mention. They lived with them for many years under Saddam (and before truth be told).

Stephen

I always write to be provocative and of course there are many good things in U.S. pop culture.

One interesting point of clarity, however, re Titanic. In the movie, men with guns had to ensure that women and children went first. In real life most of the men willingly gave up their places and they really did sing “Nearer My God to Thee” as the ship sunk. Similar behavior was observed on the Lusitania, where Alfred Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the world, helped the women and children into the lifeboats and refused a place himself. Our coarser age can scarcely believe such things are possible, so we have to make our fiction coarser than the reality.

Jay Jay

You might want to follow the news a little closer. Iran recently hung (as in by the neck until dead) two people whose only crime was homosexuality. This is the things we hear about. I expect a lot more happens.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 11:22 AM
Comment #100539

all rappers do not live the lifestles they portray, and although alot do, the truth is they don’t try to help the problem and they even encourage it to continue and to talk about a double talking person have you listened to snoop dogg try to say he is a totally positive person. What a load of B.S. They say there music doesn’t influence bad behavior, and then turn around when something goes well and try to say their music does influence people. Which is it?
Their doing more harm than good. How come when they finally”make it” they don’t change their bad behavior. All a lie, joke.

Posted by: Fred Campbell at December 9, 2005 11:23 AM
Comment #100540

all rappers do not live the lifestles they portray, and although alot do, the truth is they don’t try to help the problem and they even encourage it to continue and to talk about a double talking person have you listened to snoop dogg try to say he is a totally positive person. What a lie. They say there music doesn’t influence bad behavior, and then turn around when something goes well and try to say their music does influence people. Which is it?
Their doing more harm than good. How come when they finally”make it” they don’t change their bad behavior. All a lie, joke.

Posted by: Fred Campbell at December 9, 2005 11:24 AM
Comment #100547

Telling the facts about something with data to back it up is not hate. Whether you aggree with homosexuality or not it is a destructive lifestyle and brings bad consequeces and even the gay community will admit this. Their is no scientific proof that people are born that way and even a gay doctor on national tv admitted this. He says to promote tolerance this is why they say it is.I don’t hate anyone, but I do not wish to buy the load of lies your agenda is full of.

Posted by: Clay at December 9, 2005 11:31 AM
Comment #100555

Mariah carey saved my life through her music I was inspired or inflenced years ago not to committ suicide. Her song “Someday” is very special to me, so don’t say music doesn’t influence people because it does.

Posted by: Clay at December 9, 2005 11:41 AM
Comment #100570

Jack-
Being provocative and being meaningful are two different things. Additionally, the question of whether one believes that less coarse behavior is possible is not an inevitability. It is very much a choice, as is the artist’s choice to make it plausible in a movie.

Remember what I said about wearing ruts on certain conventions? I think the behavior you describe is more or less a convention itself. Gangsta Rap is just drenched in convention. How many videos are put out there which show crowds of neighborhood folks dancing in slow motion, with cinematography tinged with an orangeish tone. How many Rappers talk about the same things with the same kind of lyrics, the pattern of the beats and the arrangement of the lyrics being the most original thing about it all?

But it’s not merely a rap thing. The Music industry is being strangled by the industry-sponsored conventionality. Folks there are forgetting that this is an art, and that you can’t standardize such production without robbing it of it’s meaning and impact.

People are assuming that ideas are something that can be meaningfully applied in discrete chunks, with determinable consequences from the get go. They’ve confused the ease with which image and marketing can be changed with the level of challenge inherent in shifting and augmenting people’s worldview. Because it’s so easy in their minds, they paradoxically believe that when they encounter resistance, that such folks cannot be swayed on the subject. In such a way, culture stagnates, as people stop trying to add and work with the discussion of ideas and sensibilities.

We need to rediscover what it is to be intellectuals and philosophers as Americans. We need to throw off the belief that such higher thinking is the province of the elites, and start engaging all subjects of our time in novel and interesting ways.

Let’s play around with this culture of ours, stop making it such a dreary chore to be highbrow. There are great riches to be had, if we will only seek them out.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 9, 2005 12:09 PM
Comment #100571

Hi Jack,

“We are in the process of helping Iraqis escape from those things you mention. They lived with them for many years under Saddam (and before truth be told).”

I was refering to your enthusiasm about the systematic rape, torture, and murder we helped perpetrate in Central America under Reagan. We were of course huge Saddam supporters at that time as well.

The extreme moral relatavism you go in for leaves you in a weak position when it comes to criticizing rappers and whatnot….you’re right about our culture of course.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 12:10 PM
Comment #100578

Nobody supported systematic torture etc. If we take the line you seem to be, nobody can do anything at all since every action and non action will produce at least some negative consequences.

Right as we speak we are NOT attacking Robert Mugabe. That means every day people are being starved, tortured and raped because of our non-action. Of course if we did something there would also be some of the same on our side.

In whole numbers, my guess is the current worst human rights offenders are the Chinese. Should we cut off all trade? Or just 90 miles from us is the island prision of Cuba. Isn’t it our fault Castro is still in power?

Re Saddam in the 1980s - 0.46% - that is our support for Saddam. I don’t think you could call that huge.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 12:24 PM
Comment #100585

Hi Jack,

“Nobody supported systematic torture etc.”

You did when you said that Reagan did the right thing in Nicaragua. What we did in Nicaragua involved a policy of systematic rape, murder, and torture of civilians.

“If we take the line you seem to be, nobody can do anything at all since every action and non action will produce at least some negative consequences.”

I said nothing of the sort. I merely came out against engaging in systematic rape, murder, and torture of civilians…..that leaves a whole lot of other possible actions.

“That means every day people are being starved, tortured and raped because of our non-action.”

As bad as that is that isn’t the same as paying people to go in for systematic rape, torture, and murder of civilians.

“In whole numbers, my guess is the current worst human rights offenders are the Chinese.”

I didn’t suggest that Reagan was the worst violater of human rights. He was responsible for the worst human rights violations in Central America during the time he was President. He supported brutal repression in El Salvodore, Guatamala, and Honduras.

“0.46% - that is our support for Saddam.”

We helped Saddam get WMD’s in the 80’s.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #100600
You might want to follow the news a little closer. Iran recently hung (as in by the neck until dead) two people whose only crime was homosexuality. This is the things we hear about. I expect a lot more happens. Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 11:22 AM

Jack,

Did you even read my response? Isn’t that exactly what I said?
_______________________________________________

In my post above I displayed absolutely no hate.

tomh said:

The Catholic church was and is wrong in its protection of pedophile and homesexual priests.
For hundreds of years it has been immoral to take a lover of the same sex. Now we have become so wise, smart, knowledgeable, understanding, and deceitful that in just a few short years it gets pounded down our throats that if we oppose homosexuality, then we are the nuts jobs.
Because deviant sexual behavior will prevent a person from practicing a deep spiritual relationship with GOD. And yes everyone should be free to pursue happiness. Homosexual activity does not provide anything near happiness.
Then they are saying that rape, bank robery, assault, perjury, and so on are ok to do because you cannot legislate morality. Oh, I see just some morality. But where do you draw the line. For those that think you cannot legislate morality how do you propose to handle the NAMBLA wrongs? How do you handle murder?
In my post above I displayed absolutely no hate.

tomh,

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that statement. It is very sad and scary that you don’t think it is hateful to compare homosexuals to violent criminals like pedophiles, rapists, bank robbers, thugs, and liars. It is very sad and scary that you think it is not hateful to call homosexuals deceitful deviants who cannot have a personal relationship with God or know happiness.

The homosexual agenda item of same sex marriage has nothing to do with marriage. The purpose on their agenda is to destroy marriage as people have know it for centuries.

Now, you accuse homosexuals of trying to destroy marriage? Huh? The homosexual agenda item of same sex marriage has everything to do with marriage and family. It has everything to do with the pursuit of happiness. It is preposterous to accuse us of trying to destroy marriage, to seek the same things that make heterosexuals happy.

When you read into someones writing the emotion of hate when it is not present, then it is very likely that the martyr or elitist attitude has presented itself by the reader. You took a small phrase or two and twisted it then built a response. If you had read my complete post and looked at the complete picture your conclusion may have been different.

I took more than just a small phrase or two and I did not twist anything. You said these things. Whether you meant for them to be hateful or not, they were. I did read your complete post several times, I have reached the same conclusion each time.

Now, just because someone opposes you and any idea you have does not constitute an attack upon you. It is only someone stating their views and they may or may agree with you. The bottom line is don’t accuse someone of attacking you or hating you just because they say something that you disagree with.

tomh,

There is a big difference between debating the issues and the facts. If you want to debate or discuss the views of the bible in relationship to homosexuals, that is one thing. It is quite another to make wild comparisons & accusations.I do not think that people who disagree with me are hateful, it is the accusations that I find hateful.

It is also quite another to make statements about my personal relationship with God. I have made no such statements about your personal relationship with God, nor would I ever. Just as I would never make disparaging statements about the personal religious beliefs of anyone, regardless of faith or lack thereof. That is between you and God. It’s none of my business. I can respect your relationship with God, but I ask that you also respect mine.
_______________________________________________

Clay,

I don’t know what to tell you, man. I have presented my case to you before. All I can say is that views on homosexuality are like driving a car. Some enjoy the scenery, and others get tunnel vision and road rage.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 12:56 PM
Comment #100614

tomh,

Let me ask you a simple question. Knowing what you know about the bible and what you know of me, if I were to be asked under oath if I were homosexual or not, and I answered “no”, have I committed perjury?

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 1:16 PM
Comment #100619

Louis

The contras were not paid to do those things. They were supposedly resisting the Sandinista and others like that. As we see from Cuba, when communists get in control they oppress lots of people and are hard to get rid of. Reagan was hoping to save Central America that fate and he probably succeeded.

In an imperfect world, things happen. I also supported the defeat of Hitler in WWII. Our Soviet allies engaged in rape, murder and pillaging on a monumental scale AND it was the official policy of the Red Army when it invaded German lands. I do not support that. Similarly, I don’t suppose the opponents of the Reagan policies supported the rape, murder etc carried out by leftist guerillas and Sandinistas. Shine a spotlight on one place and you may find what you are looking for. The full light of day revals a more complex picture.

We did not help Saddam get WMD in the 1980s. Iraq is an agricultural country. We had some trade with Iraq (not much) in the 1980s. Some agricultural chemicals are dual use. What kills the beetles in your pine trees and the weevils in your cotton will kill people too if not properly used. Some people a conspiracy in this, but there is nothing there to find. Otherwise a place like Iowa would be a center for WMD. If it really did happen it would be a matter of misusing a peaceful, but there is no indication that even this happened at all. Many of the chemical weapons rely on easily available ingredients and technologies from 1914. They are dangerous precisely because they DO NOT require high tech or outside help. Anyway as a Soviet client, Saddam would have a good chance of getting advice from the Russians, who did also understand these things.

Jay

My reading was that you were putting a special blame on Christianity. If not, my mistake. Sorry. I read fast and between other tasks. The biggest danger to homosexuals today is Islam. That was my point.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 1:34 PM
Comment #100622

Jack,
I agree. Islam is the bigger threat. And As I stated in my post “Islam, the second largest religion and growing, is considered the most anti-homosexual of all the world’s religions by condemning the practice and enforcing strict punishments.”

But that does not diminish the role Christianity has played. I was not putting a special blame on Christianity, but merely to show how different cultural beliefs are intertwined and sometimes have their roots in the same place.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 1:58 PM
Comment #100628

Jay

I consider that the prohibition on homosexuality had (and no longer does) a practical purpose. When your population is always under threat (as it was most of history) you just can’t have 5-7% of your population not reproducing the next generation. As we know from historical examples, homosexuals have at times produced large families and seem to have been good and fulfilled parents. The gay lifestyle has always been a bit of a luxury for individuals and societies. It is sort of like the society can afford to have a little poodles while you poor ones need dogs that will hunt.

We still don’t know why a person would be homosexual. If it is genetic based, you would expect the incidence of gays in society to drop precipitously as more people adopt the gay lifestyle. How many kids did Oscar Wilde father? Today that number would be zero.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 2:20 PM
Comment #100629

Sorry

Rich societies can afford little poodles, but poor ones need dogs that will hunt.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 2:22 PM
Comment #100648

Hi Jack,

“The contras were not paid to do those things.”

The Contras systematically raped, tortured, and murdered civilians and we paid them to do so.

“Reagan was hoping to save Central America that fate and he probably succeeded.”

Reagan supported some of the more oppressive regimes on the planet.

“I don’t suppose the opponents of the Reagan policies supported the rape, murder etc carried out by leftist guerillas and Sandinistas.”

I have heard no evidence of those who disagreed with Reagan maintaining a group of terrorists thugs.

“We did not help Saddam get WMD in the 1980s.”

We did.

The notion that Nicaragua was important in our struggles with the Russians is quite silly. We supported vicious terrorists in Nicaragua and we should have known better.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 3:23 PM
Comment #100653

Yes it does suck and why because of all you sick discusting foreigners that come to America by the millions everyday and destroy it.

Posted by: Albert Garibay at December 9, 2005 3:38 PM
Comment #100660

Louis

The Sandinstia were thugs and so were the leftists in the rest of Latin America. They didn’t need to pay anyone.

YOu may think we gave WMD to Saddam but it is not so. My logic isn’t to say we were good or bad, but rather there would have been no point. Saddam could easily make the poison gases without our help.

So let me add another number to the 0.46%. 1915 - that is the level of technology you need to make poison gas. Bump that up to 1941 if you want some more advanced stuff. And it is cheap. That is why they call it the “poor man’s bomb” because it is easy to make and cheap. That is why we have to make sure others don’t start to make it.

People who think the U.S. helped Saddam with his chem weapons just don’t understand the nature of the U.S. or of chemical weapons.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 4:11 PM
Comment #100664

Jack,
Science has made tremendous strides in the last couple of decades, in 2003 the Human Genome Project was completed. This advance however, was not the end, but only the beginning.

We still don’t know why a person would be homosexual. If it is genetic based, you would expect the incidence of gays in society to drop precipitously as more people adopt the gay lifestyle. How many kids did Oscar Wilde father? Today that number would be zero.

Jack, I’m not sure how you came to this conclusion. Basic genetics 101 teaches us that genes are dominate or recessive. The homosexual gene does not need to be passed down from one homosexual to another. If such a gene does exist it is obviously recessive. The only requirement is that both heterosexuals carry the recessive gene. All this means is that there is enough of the recessive gene in the heterosexual population to continue the population. Likewise, if homosexuals had the physical ability to reproduce, both parents would only carry the recessive genes, and all their offspring would likely also be homosexual, which would result in an explosion in the gay population. In other words two brown eyed parents can still have a blue eyed child.
So, the question becomes with all our advances in genetic decoding, why have we not found the orientation gene? Well, I believe that the answer to that question is being studied right now. The interesting thing is that the study isn’t even about homosexuality per se. The study involves intersexuality and it’s causes. There are sometimes obvious genetic causes for it, such as in Klinefelter’s syndrome, where the presence of one or two additional X chromosomes in a male (XXY or XXXY) or Turner’s syndrome, where there is a single X chromosome. But in the majority of cases of intersexuality, like in homosexuality, there is no extra or missing chromosomes. In fact most carry the normal male XY chromosomes.
In searching for an answer to the cause, scientific evidence has drawn a strong correlation between intersexuality and hormonal imbalances in the womb during fetal development. It is believed that the cause of homosexuality is much the same, just to a lesser extent. This would explain why a genetic cause has not been found, and why the population rate of homosexuals is not decreasing. I don’t know the exact saying but it goes something like “mother nature will always find a way.”

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 4:22 PM
Comment #100670
In other words two brown eyed parents can still have a blue eyed child.

Jack,

Sorry, I meant to expand on this. Theoreticly it would be possible to eliminate brown eyed people from a society, through selective breeding even though the gene is dominate. It would be much more difficult though to elimate blue eyed people through selective breeding, because even the brown eyed population can carry the gene for it. This could explain why the homosexual population is not decreasing.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 4:38 PM
Comment #100678
Their is no scientific proof that people are born that way and even a gay doctor on national tv admitted this. He says to promote tolerance this is why they say it is.I don’t hate anyone, but I do not wish to buy the load of lies your agenda is full of.

Clay,

I believe very strongly in God, and the majority of the world population believes in a higher deity. But there is no scientific proof that a higher deity exists. Does that make it not so?

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 9, 2005 4:56 PM
Comment #100682

Hi Jack,

“The Sandinstia were thugs and so were the leftists in the rest of Latin America.”

The Sandanistas were far less brutal than the regimes we supported (El Salvodore, Honduras, Guatamala).

Compared to El Salvodore the Sandanistas were really good. I’m not saying they didn’t have faults but compared to Reagans friends they were a free and decent regime.

“YOu may think we gave WMD to Saddam but it is not so.”

We helped Saddam obtain WMD’s.

“Reports by the US Senate’s committee on banking, housing and urban affairs — which oversees American exports policy — reveal that the US, under the successive administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr, sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia. Other bacteria sold included brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene.”
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0908-08.htm

I’m well aware of how easy it is to make nerve gas. It’s “the poor man’s A-bomb”.

“People who think the U.S. helped Saddam with his chem weapons just don’t understand the nature of the U.S. or of chemical weapons.”

It is you who lacks understanding here.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 5:08 PM
Comment #100685

“The following is a detailed listing of biological materials, provided by the American Type Culture Collection, which were exported to agencies of the government of Iraq pursuant to the issueance of an export licensed by the U.S. Commerce Department:

Date : February 8, 1985
Sent To : Iraq Atomic Energy Agency
Materials Shipped:

Ustilago nuda (Jensen) Rostrup

Date : February 22, 1985
Sent To : Ministry of Higher Education
Materials Shipped:

Histoplasma capsulatum var. farciminosum (ATCC 32136)
Class III pathogen

Date : July 11, 1985
Sent To : Middle and Near East Regional A
Material Shipped:

Histoplasma capsulatum var. farciminosum (ATCC 32136)
Class III pathogen

Date : May 2, 1986
Sent To : Ministry of Higher Education
Materials Shipped:

1. Bacillus Anthracis Cohn (ATCC 10)
Batch # 08-20-82 (2 each)
Class III pathogen

2. Bacillus Subtilis (Ehrenberg) Cohn (ATCC 82)
Batch # 06-20-84 (2 each)

3. Clostridium botulinum Type A (ATCC 3502)
Batch # 07-07-81 (3 each)
Class III pathogen

4. Clostridium perfringens (Weillon and Zuber) Hauduroy, et al (ATCC 3624)
Batch # 10-85SV (2 each)

5. Bacillus subtilis (ATCC 6051)
Batch # 12-06-84 (2 each)

6. Francisella tularensis var. tularensis Olsufiev (ATCC 6223)
Batch # 05-14-79 (2 each)
Avirulent, suitable for preparations of diagnotic antigens

7. Clostridium tetani (ATCC 9441)
Batch # 03-84 (3 each)
Highly toxigenic”
http://www.gulfweb.org/bigdoc/report/r_1_2.html

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 5:18 PM
Comment #100689

These things are used agriculturally or in the pharmaceutical industry. They are dual use.

But lets cut to another bottom line.

Assume all these things were misused by Saddam. NONE of them were components of any of the WMD he used against the Kurds or the Iranians. And he didn’t use anything that was effective against U.S. or coalition troops.

So you have in the worst-case scenario a program that went nowhere.

What you have in the article (and Rangel comments) a big bait and switch. We find evidence of X, Y and Z, which could be used in WMD. But Saddam didn’t use X, Y or Z. He used something completely different. It is like proving that someone sold a murder a dual use tool (a butcher knife) but the guy committed the crime with a gun. Do you blame the butcher knife maker?

Many of the things mentioned wouldn’t even work as bioweapons not matter what. West Nile virus, for example can’t be used as a bioweapon. Most people who get it don’t even feel it. TB will kill you if left untreated, but by the time the army died of that the war would be over.

I am not asking you to believe me. Just be logical. If you are in a war and you want to kill off your enemies, what do you use?

To be a weapon, it has to work fast and be easily directed.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 5:28 PM
Comment #100692

Hi Jack,

“In the 1980s and afterward, the United States underwrote 24 American corporations so they could sell to Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction, which he used against Iran, at that time the prime Middle Eastern enemy of the United States,”

“Hussein used U.S.-supplied poison gas” against Iranians and Kurds “while the United States looked the other way.”


“In response to the gassing,” journalist Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, “sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most U.S. technology. The measure was killed by the White House.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20051208/cm_huffpost/011920;_ylt=AuW31M2zUcAPddOqwrB5qz39wxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA—

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 5:35 PM
Comment #100719

Just because this guy says it doesn’t mean it is true. There just is nothing there.

Rumsfeld met Saddam. Liberals love the picture. You can goodle and find it becuase they put it everywhere. YOu can find Albright with the N. Korean. YOu can find Chirac with Saddam hundreds of times. YOu and the attackers are taking small things out of context and making them very big. Saddam fought a big war with Iran. Millions died and millions of tons of ordinance were expended. None of that came from the U.S. The place where there is some uncertainty, the anti-Americans rush in to fill in the blank. It must have been the U.S. We sold some pesticides and restored diplomatic relations. That is proof.

Posted by: jack at December 9, 2005 7:30 PM
Comment #100730

Jay

If it is a recessive gene, it could not easily disappear, but it would become very rare indeed. For the gene, homosexuality is a virtual death sentence.

If you prevented every blue eyed person from reproducing, there would be fewer and fewer in each subsequent generation. You would elimiate anyone who carries both recessive genes. To be manifest a recessive gene also requires meeting a partner who also carries that gene. The chances would decrease exponentially.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2005 8:39 PM
Comment #100751

JayJay,

I wish the best for individual homosexuals, but I am strongly against the homosexual political movement’s goals. Why? I keep coming across news about how in countries like Canada and Norway, it is now a crime to preach certain sections of the Bible that are critical of homosexuality and that it is a hate crime to say that homosexuality is a sin. Here is a recent item, http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/12/92005f.asp and I could certainly find more. You value your relationship with God and do not want to be judged. I want the same thing from you. The gay rights movement wants to criminalize my religious speech. But, to be true to my God, I must be able to say that homosexual sex is a sin and that homosexuals would be better off if they would start the difficult journey of leaving their sin behind. You can say I am wrong, but stop calling me a hater. Gay marriage may be ok in a secular way, but then what happens when some gay activist sues a church because they will not perform gay marriages? Then the government starts dictating church doctrine? I don’t want to get to that place.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 9, 2005 10:13 PM
Comment #100772

Jennifer,

I strongly believe in freedom of speech as do many in the U.S. gay rights movement. I assume you know of the First Amendment? No matter the rhetoric that certain right wing interest groups are spreading, laws regarding speech in Canada, Sweden or any other country have no effect on U.S. law. None. Zip. Just as our first amendment has no effect on the laws of any other nation. This is nothing more than a talking point to oppose gay rights with no real basis.

Speech in this country cannot be abridged by law. Period. Hate speech used in the commission of a violent crime can and should be.

While the gay rights movements in other countries may wants to criminalize religious speech, in this country the gay rights movement is opposed to abridging any speech.

“Focus on the Family” needs to brush up on the Bill of Rights
Focus on the Family pretends the First Amendment won’t protect them
Hate Crime Hysteria - Focus Continues To Ignore Existence of First Amendment
Do Hate Crime Protections Result in Persecution Of Pulpit Speech?

In fact it is the anti-gay movement in this country that is trying to suppress speech.

CBS rejects ad for church that welcomes gays and lesbians
And The Oscar Goes To… The United Church of Christ
Supreme Court Hears Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Today
Gay-Tolerant People of Faith Arrested

You can say I am wrong, but stop calling me a hater.

I have never called you a hater. And I did not find anything you wrote here as being hateful. I did say that tomh was being hateful, because he was making hateful comparisons and accusations. I would never call someone a hater that presented reasonable views or perceptions that lead to constructive debate. Unfortunately, many are close minded on this subject and instead resort to charges that are ignorant and hateful. You have not done that here, you have presented concerns and reasonable views on the subject, and I appreciate that. Thank you.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 10, 2005 12:17 AM
Comment #100789
Gay marriage may be ok in a secular way, but then what happens when some gay activist sues a church because they will not perform gay marriages? Then the government starts dictating church doctrine? I don’t want to get to that place.

Jennifer,

If someone sues a church because they will not perform gay marriages, the plantiffs would ultimatly lose, esp. if it went to the Supreme Court. Why? Because of the First Amendment protections of religious freedom without government intervention.

The greater threat to church doctrine is the erosion of the wall between church and state that is being pursued by the church right now. The more the church becomes involved in the government, the more the wall between them gets torn down. Once that wall is down it will become a two way street, the government will want more say in the church. While they may agree with the current administration and be willing to erode that wall now, they may not agree with future administrations. Once that wall is gone, it will become very hard to put back up. The church and government should never be mixed, history warns us against it.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 10, 2005 2:16 AM
Comment #100850

Hi Jack,

“The place where there is some uncertainty, the anti-Americans rush in to fill in the blank.”

Going by your “logic” anyone who doesn’t support brutal dicatators such as Saddam is anti-American.

There was no uncertainty about us supporting Saddam…..we did.

You support systematic rape, torture, and murder of innocent civilians. You don’t hold people accountable for siding with extremely brutal dicators.

This sort of extreme moral relatavism is unbecoming Jack. Our country is supposed to be far better than what you think it is.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 10, 2005 8:13 AM
Comment #100863

JayJaySnowman
Where in the constitution does it say there is a wall of separation between church and state?
It is not to be found.
On the first amendment, this right has already be abridged. The campaign reform act says you cannot say anything negatinve on a candidate the last 60 days of a campaign. There have been several attempts to try to squelch speech where it was spoken in opposition to homosexuality. The application of hate laws were exhibited in those cases. Hate laws being enacted all over the country are very dangerous. Hate laws are an attempt to legislate morality. That was spoken of above. And the argument proposed was that you cannot legislate morality. You cannot criminalize thoughts. If a person attacks another because they hate them, there are laws in place to take care of that situation. As I stated above I hate nobody. I strongly dislike the actions of many people for many actions. The reckless driver, the drunk driver, the rapist, the fraud criminals, the neighbor with the junk in his yard, illegal aliens, and yes the homosexual. In each of these examples the first reason for dislike of the action is because it is/was wrong. In no way is hate applied in my case. I have had contact with individuals in each example and I do not hate them for any reason. Compassion does work.

Posted by: tomh at December 10, 2005 9:21 AM
Comment #100893
Where in the constitution does it say there is a wall of separation between church and state?

tomh,

It doesn’t, and that is my point. The wall is a figurative that was coined, I believe by Thomas Jefferson, although I could be wrong about that. There is nothing in the Constitution that says that churches are to be tax exempt either, but it is this figurative wall that is used. If the church tears down this figurative wall to become more involved in the state, then the state can say there is no wall (as supported by the Constitution) and want more control over the church, including revoking tax exempt status, something we are already seeing happen.

Conservatives Also Irked by IRS Probe of Churches
IRS Asked To Review Dobson Electioneering

The campaign reform act says you cannot say anything negative on a candidate the last 60 days of a campaign.

The McCain Feingold bill places restrictions on the government. The U.S. Constitution gives congress the right to self govern itself.

Article I section 4: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

Article I, section 5: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Article I, section 6: …and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Article I, section 8: …To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

You cannot criminalize thoughts. If a person attacks another because they hate them, there are laws in place to take care of that situation.

You are right, and if you think about it all crime is hate crime. Hate laws do not abridge speech. Hate speech used during the commission of a violent crime, determines intent. That is why these crimes should be punished more severely. Punishment for crimes in this country are often determined by intent. We impose different penalties for murder dependant on intent. Some murder is in the passion of the moment, some is planned, some is manslaughter. Hate laws simply add another penalty which can be imposed by determining intent. Should a murder of say an abusive husband by his wife in the heat of the moment be punished the same as the murder of a homosexual by a homophobic person, for no other reason? Hate speech in and of itself is not illegal, and cannot be abridged. Hate laws do not regulate morality, but simply determine intent for penalty. If you have specific examples of where hate speech in and of itself was prosecuted successfully please cite them. I would be interested in hearing about them.

Compassion does work.

Compassion does work. Hateful comparisons, accusations, and disparaging remarks about ones personal relationship with God does not.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 10, 2005 12:03 PM
Comment #100905

Hi JayJay,

“The wall is a figurative that was coined, I believe by Thomas Jefferson, although I could be wrong about that.”

“Believing… that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” —Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 10, 2005 12:27 PM
Comment #100909

Thanks LouisXIV! I thought it was Thomas Jefferson.

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Comment #202468

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Comment #253720

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Posted by: Caroline Webb at May 31, 2017 8:04 PM
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