Hobby Lobby Does Not Want Jewish Customers

Let me get this straight.  The Hobby Lobby will allow for crass merchandising with Christmas ornaments stocked in July and trees in the store in August, but will not carry items for Jewish holidays.

Oh, Jehovah!

On his blog Hopelessly Partisan, activist Ken Berwitz wrote about his friends’ recent experience at a new Hobby Lobby store in the town of Marlboro, New Jersey, which has a large Jewish population. He said that his friends, who were visiting the craft and home decor store, were told, “We don’t cater to you people” when they inquired about bar mitzvah cards. They also noted a glaring absence of Hanukkah-related crafts and decorations in the sea of Christmas-kitsch that dominates every Hobby Lobby after Labor Day. The New Jersey sales associate attributed the lack of Jewish merchandise to the company’s notorious fundamentalist CEO, David Green.

I guess it really comes down to this: Hobby Lobby really is a Christian company, and by that, they don’t just mean that they’re owned by a Christian. They mean that they only want Christian customers and that, if they were allowed, they would only have Christian employees. Their own mission statement requires that employees “honor the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

Well, I’m pretty sure Hobby Lobby’s employees and CEO are further removed from biblical principles than the customers they’re discriminating against. I have yet to meet a fundamentalist Christian who keeps kosher, and only a few who follow that “love thy neighbor” rule.

Yes, we live in a capitalist economy that gives Hobby Lobby the right to sell—or not sell—whatever they want. They’re also allowed to say that they want their employees to adhere to “biblical principles.” They’ve even been allowed to deny female employees the right to birth control. Luckily, that same economic structure also grants me the ability to say that they can kiss my feminist Jewish ass. If you’re not already boycotting Hobby Lobby for their misogyny, you might want to consider boycotting them for antisemitism. For me, it’s just one more reason to drive an extra mile and go to Michael’s instead.

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris Hits Nail On Head

There are many parts of the political foundation in our nation that can be faulted when it comes to diagnosing the problems we face.

There is too much money flowing from every point of the compass that in the end crowds out reasonable and moderate dialogue in favor of the extreme points of view.  The manner in which political districts are drawn ensures that compromise is harder to achieve in the legislative bodies where contentious issues need to be resolved.  In many states it is harder to separate judicial actions from partisan politics as merit selection is not understood, and rarely implemented.

Yes, there are many places one can point when talking about how our political process could be made to work with more efficiency.

But as I read a recent column regarding the views of Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris it struck me that he made reference to one of the points I often bring up when talking politics with friends.  Harris said that polarization in politics was in part due to the lack of the media better reporting and making clear what the real facts are to any given issue.  By not doing such it made impossible citizens from having a  “shared set of facts”.

As I read those words I almost said “Amen.”

Perhaps above all the other ills that face our politics it is the lack of a common place with which we can start, as a state or nation, a dialogue about the issues that matter.

When I was a boy ‘Uncle’ Walter Cronkite was the anchor at CBS News. Most Americans watched Cronkite in order to be informed about the news of the day.  No matter where we lived, or what we thought, we had a point of reference as a nation when discussing the issues of the day. Cronkite would say that he had given the nation the headlines, but for the rest of the story viewers needed to pick up their morning newspaper.

To some extent the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, or Los Angeles Times can make the same type of claim as helping with our point of reference as a nation. These papers often set the topics for discussion on radio, or by the pundits on the evening cable news shows. I think it important that as a nation we have some points of commonality in viewing the issues that require action.  

With technology we are now allowed a whole array of options for getting news.  Many, and I would ague too many, choose a partisan news outlet to get the headlines of the day.  For conservatives that may be FOX News, and for progressives MSNBC.  But in so doing there is not the level playing ground that can then lead to a reasonable discourse about what the facts are or for that matter what the real headlines are that we should even be thinking about.

Some minor partisan flap can be made into a whole hours worth of commentary while real news from Africa or Brazil, or the truly tough budget options, or immigration’s tangled complexities are not presented in straightforward ways.

Meanwhile ideas that bear no reality to the truth, such as Iraq’s supposed link to the horror of 9/11 can become, with sheer repetition ‘the truth’.

‘Uncle’ Walter never allowed that to be the style for his show, as news was a valued commodity that not only reflected on his stewardship of the anchor chair, but also for CBS.  At the end of his broadcast there was a general sense of the world, and what had happened that day.

It is clear that Harris and I grew up in a different time.  It is also clear that as a nation if we are to get past the minefields that dot our political culture we might need to look backwards for some answers.

We might all start by asking ourselves how we get our news, and how it might be useful to have a general set of facts that we all can stipulate to be a starting point for the discussions we need to have as Wisconsinites and Americans.

Roses And More Roses

The calendar says fall but the rose bushes are bursting with blooms, and buds keep developing.

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Newspaper Editor Chris Powell Goes Off Deep-End When Trying To Explain His Financial Woes

Chris Powell

I love newspapers, and hate to see them in decline.  But never would I have imagined the reason for the leaner subscription rates is due to single women.  But that is exactly what Chris Powell, the managing editor of the local Connecticut newspaper the Journal-Inquirer has done in a most rancid, sexist, and racist way.

Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households—two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they’re living in, and couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population.

I have read some powerful editorials over time, and this summer even read a book about some of the legendary columns that have been penned by editors who time will always recallOutrage, Passion and Uncommon Sense examines decisive issues and events in U.S. history through the nation’s editorial pages.  A good and interesting read.

Meanwhile what Powell has done is not only smear his own name, but also that of his newspaper.  He has lowered the tone of his editorial page, and dumbed down a legitimate debate about how to stem the loss of newspapers readers.

Tom Clancy Dies, Made Impact On Me At Wisconsin State Capitol, (And Made Page 237 Of My Book)


It may seem the headline for this post is awkward, or even shallow.  But in fact it is meant as a sincere thanks.

In 1994 I was experiencing a transition with my job and life.  I was pondering where I was at that time in life, but more importantly where I wanted to head.   I had lost my job at the Wisconsin State Capitol, due to political reasons, and was for the first time in years uncertain about a whole host of things.

For a number of years I had read only non-fiction and work-related material.  But that fall it was Tom Clancy’s character Jack Ryan who was featured in Hunt For Red October that unleashed a part of me too long contained.  His book met the moment, my mood, and helped to propel me forwards into the future.

I had pulled my car into a spot along the State Capitol on a weekday, and took the Clancy book to a bench nearby.  It was the grand storyline and total enjoyment I was experiencing from within the pages that contrasted so sharply with the images of those who walked by that set me up for the changes I made to my life.  As I sat there holding the Clancy book it started in small ways to crystalize within.  As I sat there that day I knew I had to find some deeper contentment.

Now that is the short version, and for the rest (as I tell others) read my book, Walking Up The Ramp.  Tom Clancy was important enough however to be noted in the book, and as the index shows landed on page 237.

Today it is indeed sad to learn that spy thriller writer Tom Clancy died at the age of 66.  Clancy’s wrote Hunt For Red October in 1984  and Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin brought the Cold War drama to life on the big screen in 1990.

Over the years I would read all the Jack Ryan books, and while the plotting and drama were first-rate, and powerful to the extreme I found the male bravado and military mindset overly written at times, and even unsettling.

But it was Clancy who was able to connect with me in a profound way on the bench at the capitol through his writing that played a role in allowing me to see the path I needed to take for happiness.

Clancy’s greatness will be noted far and wide for his books, but I know of one text that will forever be a personal reminder of how life can start in a new direction.