Monday, January 26, 2009

The Stock Boy and the Checkout Girl

A friend sent me this story which is evidently making the internet rounds. You may have read it before, but I hadn't, and it's especially pertinent this week:

In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily at work when a new voice came over the loud-speaker asking for a carry-out at register 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.

Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible.

He pressed, and she explained she had two children and couldn't afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the sitter. Reluctantly, she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday. On the appointed night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well, let's take the kids with us."

She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as could be, Kurtis thought. Then Brenda brought out her son in a wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome.

Kurtis said to Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't come with us." Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary - he had a different mindset.

That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids and went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him to the men's room and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.

A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children. Since then they've added two more kids.

So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the Super Bowl. It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He has also been the NLF's Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

Warner's story almost makes me not mind that his Cardinals beat my Eagles last week.


Sloppy Mistake

It is almost universally agree that our financial crisis was caused in large part by, in Jonah Goldberg's words, "arrogant and greedy men who thought the rules didn't apply to them." It's also universally understood, if not appreciated, that in order to get out of the mess these men have put us in the Obama administration is going to make all of us pay more of our income in taxes. Meanwhile, the President is promising us high standards of public accountability, integrity and competence from him and his administration.

Very well, but who will be in charge of collecting those taxes? Who will be responsible for unfurling your fingers from around the last few dollars you've been saving for your child's education and ripping them from your grasp? None other than a man who is precisely the antithesis of everything Obama has promised us and who himself ducked paying almost $50,000 in taxes he owed up until the very moment he was to be nominated as Secretary of the Treasury.

President Obama pooh-poohed concerns that he was appointing a tax cheat to be the nation's chief tax collector, saying that Timothy Geithner's mistake was a common error. But it clearly wasn't a common error as Goldberg's column makes plain:

Timothy Geithner, President Obama's choice to be the next treasury secretary, quite clearly tried to defraud the government of tens of thousands in payroll taxes while working at the International Monetary Fund. The IMF does not withhold such taxes but does compensate American employees who must pay them out of pocket. Geithner took the compensation -- which involves considerable paperwork -- but then simply pocketed the money.

His explanations for his alleged oversight don't pass the smell test. When the IRS busted him for his mistakes in 2003 and 2004, he decided to take advantage of the statute of limitations and not pay the thousands of dollars he also failed to pay in 2001 and 2002. That is, until he was nominated to become treasury secretary.

Obama defends Geithner, saying that his was a "common mistake," that it is embarrassing but happens all the time. My National Review colleague Byron York reports that, at least according to the World Bank, Geithner's "mistakes" are actually quite rare. Indeed, it's almost impossible to believe that the man didn't know exactly what he was doing given that he would have had to sign documents, disregard warnings and all in all turn his brain off to make the same "mistake" year after year. And keep in mind, Geithner is supposed to run the IRS. So maybe sloppiness isn't that great a defense anyway.

Whether Geithner is dishonest, dumb, or just "sloppy" (sounds like the excuse Democrats made for Sandy Berger when he was caught with classified documents stuffed in his socks as he tried to smuggle them out of the National Archives) he should not be in charge of pulling us through the financial crisis. It is not to President Obama's credit that he's sticking by his appointment, nor does it do much to sustain our hope that Obama's not just another typical Chicago politican appointing foxes to guard the henhouse.


Profile in Pusillanimity

It is hard to find the words to describe the travesty of Western civilization that is the Netherlands. A former member of parliament is being put on trial because, almost alone among his countrymen, he has had the courage to sound the tocsin on the slow creep of Islam and Sharia Law across Dutch culture and society.

Geert Wilders made a short film last year titled Fitna (which can be viewed here)in which he documents the nature of the religion which seeks to engulf the world, and for the crime of telling the truth about Islam in this film he's being prosecuted in Amsterdam on charges of incitement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims. This is as absurd as it is craven. Bruce Bawer writes about the Dutch self-abasement in a fine article in City Journal:

But Wilders - who for years now has lived under 24 hour armed guard - would not be gagged. Thus the disgraceful decision to put him on trial. In Dutch Muslim schools and mosques, incendiary rhetoric about the Netherlands, America, Jews, gays, democracy, and sexual equality is routine; a generation of Dutch Muslims are being brought up with toxic attitudes toward the society in which they live. And no one is ever prosecuted for any of this. Instead, a court in the Netherlands - a nation once famous for being an oasis of free speech - has now decided to prosecute a member of the national legislature for speaking his mind. By doing so, it proves exactly what Wilders has argued all along: that fear and "sensitivity" to a religion of submission are destroying Dutch freedom.

Bawer recounts the history of other Dutch heroes and victims of Islamic terror in the Netherlands - Pym Fortuyn, Theo van Gogh, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali - and how each was silenced. His column will be an eye-opener to those who take for granted their freedom of speech. It's a must read. While you're at it watch Fitna.