Don’t Buy Shari’s Berries

One of the nice things about having your own website is that if you want to share a really bad experience with a company, you have the ability to do so. I’m probably admitting that I’m a lousy husband, but a long time ago I considered ordering Shari’s Berries for my wife after hearing them touted by both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, but when I looked into it I decided that there are no strawberries on the face of the earth that are worth $5 each, unless, perhaps, they are coated with gold instead of chocolate. My son is not as miserly as I, and for this Mother’s Day he ordered a box of them for his mother, who by happy coincidence is also my wife.

They were shipped on Thursday and were supposed to arrive on Friday before Mother’s Day, but FedEx delivered them at 6:13 PM on Saturday. When we opened them, we found that they were boxed up with a single cold-pack, which was liquid and lukewarm. The berries were also lukewarm, almost liquid and smelled unappetizing. But stuff happens, I know, so I wasn’t too upset. There was a “Quality Guarantee” card in the box that says:

“At Shari’s Berries, we’re committed to the highest standards of quality and service. If you are not completely satisfied, please call our 24-hour Customer Satisfaction Department at 1-877-BERRIES or email us at customercare@berries.com.”

I called and was connected to their system, which told me:

“All of our agents are busy helping customers deliver smiles. Your call wait time is greater than 20 minutes. Need help with your order right now? For faster assistance check out our convenient customer service portal online at www.1800flowers.com/customer-service. We are experiencing long hold times right now. We know your time is precious, so we would be happy to hold your place in line and call you back when a customer service specialist is available. To receive a call back please press 1. To continue to hold for a specialist please press 2. For a brief description of this service please press 3.

I don’t like talking to people on the phone, so while I was waiting I tried the website, but there was no help there. I did see a “chat” link, but clicking it produced no result at all and the only other option there was a phone number, and I was already there. The first time I pressed “2” to continue to hold and I found myself in “silent purgatory” with no music or any indication that I was still on an active call. I held that for about ten minutes and then hung up to try again. The second time I called and got the message, I pressed “1” to request a call back. Instead, I was put right back into the queue with light classic music (one of the Brandenburg Concertos, I think) and the repeating message described above. I held for one hour and seven minutes, pressing “1” each time to request a call back. Well, one time I did press “3” just in case it did something different, but after that brief message it shunted me right back to the message above.

After that one hour and seven minutes I pressed “1” for the final time and, instead of hearing the Brandenburg Concerto I found myself shunted back into “silent purgatory.” I left the line open for another half-hour before hanging up and sending them an email briefly describing the situation and asking for a call back. I also had to tell my son what was going on. He was disappointed to say the least.

I tried again the next day at 1:45, having received no call back. This time the message told me that my call wait time was now “greater than two hours.” It’s Mother’s Day, and I guess lots of disappointed berry recipients are burning up the lines just like I was yesterday. I hung up.

Tried again on Monday, again on Tuesday, again on Wednesday. Same result. “Your wait time” is anywhere between “more than two hours” and “more than sixty minutes.” Still no answer to my email. Still no call back. Still nothing. I am telling my son to dispute the charge when it shows up on his statement, and I will continue to call and post results here, but I think I have made my point. Shari’s Berries is a company with some serious problems in the customer service department. If you order these ridiculously overpriced treats, be prepared.

UPDATE: They never did call me back or email me. (They could probably tell from my email that they didn’t want to talk to me at all.) Instead, they called my son, who ordered the berries. They apologized and said they were sending another shipment right away. They did. The shipment arrived yesterday. This one had two cooler packs inside, but they were both totally thawed, liquid and lukewarm, as were the strawberries. Again, completely inedible. I’ve sent them another email with a copy of the tracking card. I also told my son if/when they contact him, he should just demand his money back and, if they won’t refund it, dispute the charge with his credit card company. I’ll continue to update you here.

The Upside of Covid-19

It’s true that the pandemic has been a catastrophe for the entire world, but there is one silver lining. The death counts from the flu, emphysema, cancer, automobile accidents, suicides and a host of other common causes of mortality have plummeted!

No, we all know the reason that deaths from other causes have dwindled. It’s because of “guidance” from the CDC and good old-fashioned dishonesty that is chalking a host of other deaths up as due to the coronavirus when it was (or simply may have been) in the system of someone who died from other, unrelated causes. A few months ago, based on computer models that showed that millions of deaths could be expected, the “experts” demanded that our entire nation grind to a halt and “shelter in place” in order to save America from the Wuhan Virus. As more data has become available, though, it’s now starting to look like the voluntary self-immolation of the United States economy was–well, shall we say, premature? Now those “experts” have a vested interest in inflating the numbers of deaths from the coronavirus in order to protect their reputations.

Of course I’m not serious about the silver lining, but there are a couple of “good” things about this pandemic.

First, it has clearly demonstrated the folly of making monumental economic decisions based on computer models. Computer models are basically programs that manipulate data and draw “possible” conclusions from that data. They will never be any better than the data put into them and the skill and intentions of those who write the programs. In the case of Covid-19, we cannot (at this time) make any observations about the intentions of the model creators, but the data, from the very start, was deeply flawed and so were the conclusions drawn from the models. It’s now becoming clear that although it is unusually contagious, the death rate from the Wuhan Virus is not, under most circumstances, nearly as high as the models originally predicted.

More importantly, it has clearly demonstrated that there are a lot of people who govern us that are simply waiting for an excuse to seize and wield extraordinary, authoritarian powers over our daily lives. In states all across this country (usually “Blue” ones) governors effectively declared themselves King and have issued a wide raft of decrees that are supposed to keep us “safe” and save lives. In many cases, these emergency orders are arbitrary, stupid, counterproductive and dangerous, but the would-be dictators are wielding the police powers of their state to shutter business, close churches, order people from the streets, close beaches and harass mothers who allow their children out of the house to play with other children. They have issued decrees such as:

  • In some states, boating alone to fish or kayak was forbidden. In other cases, two people may boat together, but not three or more–regardless of the size of the boat.
  • Liquor stores may open for drive-through or parking lot pickup, but churches may not hold in-car services in the parking lot.
  • Marijuana stores may open, but not gun stores.
  • People may jog or run on the beach, but not stop or sit.
  • “Essential” stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowe’s may open and practice “social distancing,” but small convenience stores may not.

We could go on and on, but let’s just draw the conclusion and finish up. This pandemic has given all of America a chance to see what life looks like under the control of leftists and statists (Democrats, mostly) when they gain power. Their goal is obvious: to gut the thriving Trump economy that seemed likely to propel him to a second term. But I think they underestimate the intelligence of the American people. As folks in Blue states watch the people in surrounding Red states go back to work, they are going to understand that it is their own Democratic state governments that have placed a boot on their necks. Come November, they won’t forget.

Jesus and Socialism

We’ve all seen Democrats and others using the language of religion and Christianity to push their version of social justice. “Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor!” they declare. We’ve also seen the phenomenon of activist Catholic priests and nuns openly working to advance socialist revolutions in various countries in Central and South America. I’ve thought about that a lot, and it actually occurred to me the other day that I do recall reading about socialist sentiments in the New Testament.

Before I get to that though, I just want to ask all “religious” socialists out there a couple of questions. Your neighbor next door lost his job, and he can’t make his house note. So you go to your bank and draw some money out of your account and give him $1000. I think we can all agree that this would be in line with the teachings of Jesus on loving your neighbor and caring for the poor.

But how about instead of going to the bank and drawing the money out of your account, you go across the street to your other neighbor, hold him at gunpoint and force him to open his safe. Then you take his money and give it to your poor neighbor so that he can make his house note. What do you suppose God thinks about that?

We are not talking about God’s commandments, Christian charity or charity of any kind when we use the coercive powers of government to take from someone else so that we can give to others. That’s just stealing, and that is exactly what socialism is.

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” [John 12:3-6 KJV]

There we have the first socialist: Judas Iscariot.

Socialists want to help the poor…with something that belongs to someone else. Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to sell a couple of his homes and give to the poor. All those super-rich Hollywood liberals who want America to become a socialist worker’s paradise like Venezuela don’t want to sell their mansions and cars and jewelry and give to the poor. The Democrats don’t want to sell their stock portfolios and homes behind walls in gated communities to help the poor. They always want a big slice of your money so that they can give it away to the needy in exchange for more votes and more power.

Not because they care for the poor, but because they are thieves, they hold the bag and they carry what is put therein.

If you want to help the needy, by all means, do so. But do it with your own money, and that is pleasing to God. Stealing from others to help the poor is just stealing, and you are doing it to help no one but yourself.

One a Month…

Real quickly, let’s establish once and for all that in Virginia Democrats are either ignorant of both the Virginia and United States Constitutions and the principles of limited government–or just don’t care. Virginia’s Democrat-controlled senate just passed SB 69 which establishes a “one gun a month” policy limiting Virginia citizens to purchasing only one handgun in a 30-day period. Assuming that it is passed by the Virginia House of Delegates, Governor Northam is expected to sign it into law. (This will reinstate a previous VA law placing such a limit on handgun purchases.)

For those who may not be familiar with Virginia’s Constitution, take a minute to Google it and read Article I, Sections 2 and 13. Like the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia also explicitly recognizes that the source of all government power is the consent of the people. It also recognizes the right of all the people to be armed for the defense of their liberty just as clearly as the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights–if not more so.

So, just thinking clearly for a second, where do you suppose that the Democrats currently in control of Virginia’s State Government believe that they derive the authority to limit Virginia citizens to one handgun a month, or to place any limit on how many guns of whatever type and capacity Virginia citizens may purchase? The Constitutions (US and VA) are limits on the power of government, not the rights of the people. Among the enumerated powers granted to the governments (US and VA) I am unable to identify any section that grants those governments the power to limit the lawful, clearly described rights of their citizens to keep and bear arms.

But logically, if the government does have the power to limit citizens to only one handgun a month, then doesn’t that mean that the government also has the power to limit them to only one handgun a year or only one handgun in their lifetime?

Or no guns of any kind at all?

Remember, in our nation and our states, we do not derive our rights from the consent of government. On the contrary, our governments derive their just powers (only their just powers) from the consent of the governed–us. In other words, if we choose, we the people have the power to limit our government to only one law a month, but our governments do not have the power to limit us to only one anything a month.

There Could Have Been People…

My youngest son, Stephen, drives a tractor-trailer and a little more than one year ago, in the early hours of the morning, he became a hero and nearly lost his life. He was driving in rainy conditions on I285 east when he came upon an accident that had just happened. Two cars were involved blocking three lanes of the interstate. He did not know if there were any people in those cars, but he knew that if there were and he hit them with his rig, they were going to die. With only that thought in mind, he reacted immediately and, risking his own life, drove his 18-wheeler into the ditch. His truck was totaled but miraculously he sustained only minor injuries. It turned out that there were no people in the cars, but even so I consider Stephen a hero because he risked his own life to safeguard the lives of others.

The anniversary of that same day was also the National March for Life, and the conjunction of those two events struck me. Leaving aside for a moment all of the logical and emotional arguments for and against the supposed right of a woman to choose to abort her unborn child, I reflect on the fact that the real and all-important question about this issue is never discussed by the pro-abortion lobby: when does human life begin? I would argue that by definition, human life begins at conception, since that single fertilized cell is unquestionably alive and unquestionably human, but I do recognize that there are arguments against this position that could be valid. But we do need to ask and try to answer this question: when does that life become a human life, worthy of all the protections that a civilized society can and should provide to the most innocent among us? Is it when the fetus can feel pain? Is it at viability? Thirty seconds after the child clears the birth canal? An hour later, when the woman and the doctor decide to let the infant live? When the child begins to walk?

Science has vastly increased our knowledge about the development of a human within the mother’s womb, and this, in turn, has increased the difficulty of the questions we must answer. But has it really? The most important question, when does human life begin, simply cannot be answered by science. This is a moral and philosophical question that has monumental consequences for us and our society.

But in a contest between one person’s right to choose and another person’s right to live, shouldn’t we err on the side of human life? If there is just a chance that the embryo or fetus inside a woman’s body is another living human being, shouldn’t that be given due consideration before sweeping it away?

By some estimates, about fifty million abortions have taken place in America since Roe v. Wade. It is long past time that we asked these questions.

Swalwell Farts: IG Reports

[Just found this in my “drafts” folder. I should have published it back then, but I held off for some reason. Maybe my wife talked me out of it? I’ll ask her. No, on second thought, I’ll just post it now.]

Following the release of the long-awaited Inspector General Report on the origins of the “Russia Collusion” investigation, I was reminded of the fairly-recent “Fartergate” incident. (They call it “Fartgate” but I think “Fartergate” sounds better.) For those who may have missed it and don’t want to watch the YouTube clip, Congressman Eric Swalwell “apparently” breaks wind during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Now, that’s really not that big a deal–everybody does it from time to time, just usually not on national television. However, the real significance (as with Watergate) is in the coverup. As soon as the uproarious laughter commenced, MSNBC immediately began trying to save the Democratic congressman from embarrassment, asserting that the sound came from Matthews “sliding a coffee cup across the table back in the studio.” If you can stand it, watch the video. Swalwell pauses speaking and you can actually see him clenching up as he rips.

Now consider that the IG report into the Clinton Email Investigation found numerous instances of “mistakes, bad judgment, and even overt expressions of unseemly political bias,” but no evidence that political bias tainted the investigation. In the face of outrageous and repeated lapses in FBI protocol (always in favor of exonerating Mrs. Clinton) the report nevertheless concludes that the essential integrity of the investigation was not influenced by politics.

Fast-forward now to the IG report into the origins of the Russia Collusion investigation, where numerous instances of “mistakes, bad judgment, and even overt expressions of unseemly political bias” were found (including fraudulent submissions to the FISA court) but no evidence that the origination of the investigation was anything but fully justified and legal.

Just as the Mainstream Media rushes to cover up anything that might embarrass the Democrats, the Deep State will continue to protect their own. They both think that we are stupid.

We are not.

The Nature of Compromise

In grammar school I was taught that our system of government is based on compromise. That’s not true, but that’s what I was taught. Compromise is fine, but there is something you have to understand about it. You cannot compromise with someone whose ultimate goal is diametrically opposed to yours.

For instance, let’s say you and your friend are going on vacation together. You both want to go to the beach, but you want to get there as fast as possible and he/she wants to take the cross-country scenic route. Perhaps you can travel part of the way on the Interstate and part of the way on the secondary roads, and you both wind up where you ultimately wanted to be. But suppose you want to go to the beach and he/she wants to go to the mountains. You compromise and travel part-way toward the beach, and then turn off and go to the mountains. When you get there, you suddenly realize that your friend got what he/she wanted and you got nothing.

That’s where we are with the “gun control” debate. Thanks to Beto, everyone can now see where the democrats have been wanting to take us for fifty years, but everyone is still crying out for compromise on this issue. Democrats, when asked straight up if they agree with Beto on confiscation, hedge, dip and dodge. They use phrases like, “we’ve got to do something now,” and “starting place” and “first steps” and “what is achievable.” What they are saying is that they know they can’t get confiscation right now, but if they can get us to compromise and move in that direction a little, they will be patient and come back for more after the next mass shooting.

Make no mistake: no matter how much they may deny it and claim to be “firm supporters of the Second Amendment,” confiscation of all privately held firearms is their ultimate goal. Why is disarming the population so important to them? Because you can’t make a tyranny without it. Compromise is just another word for slow defeat. In the end, we will either defeat the enemies of freedom or be defeated by them.

My Response To Beto

My sincere thanks to Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, who finally admitted what most of us have known all along. Hell yes, they want to take our AR-15s and AK-47s!

And when that doesn’t work and the violence continues, they will be back for our other semi-automatics, pump-actions, bolt-actions, revolvers and anything else that goes bang and could put a hole in a would-be tyrant.

You cannot compromise with someone whose end goal is diametrically opposed to yours. You can only defeat them, or be defeated by them. So here is my response to Mr. O’Rourke:

The Third Thing About the 2nd Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms that TOO MANY Americans Simply Do Not Understand

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Purpose of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Even many who admit to the original meaning and intent of the Second Amendment declare that it is an anachronism, a throw-back to an earlier time and no longer relevant today. We live in an enlightened civilization and the notion of tyranny in America is silly! And besides, the idea of the people standing up to a despot is ludicrous. One democratic lawmaker (Eric Swalwell) even suggested that the people would be hopelessly outgunned since the government has nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Recent events should convince us that now more than ever before in our nation’s history, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is indispensable to maintaining our free state. It is only the millions of arms in private ownership in America that have kept the forces of tyranny at bay to this point. An armed population is the last line of defense for liberty, and when our government succeeds in disarming us our days of freedom will be numbered.

Imagine a government-required license before starting a church or holding a prayer-meeting. Imagine a government-required background check before being allowed to speak at a public rally. Imagine certain types of unpopular political speech being banned by government and we’re just about there. Why have we tolerated so many restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms when we would never (and should not) tolerate the like when it comes to freedom of speech, assembly, religion or any of our other fundamental rights granted by God? Because “…all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” But to continue quoting the Declaration of Independence, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

We’re not quite there yet, but when our government determines to finally destroy that last line of defense, “a design to reduce [us] under absolute Despotism” will be evident. Freedom-loving Americans will never surrender their arms. Doing so will be surrendering our children and grandchildren to slavery.

The Second Thing About the 2nd Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms that TOO MANY Americans Simply Do Not Understand

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not about hunting, target shooting or even defending your life or your home. Although these pursuits are certainly protected by that same right, they are not what the founding fathers had in mind when they talked about the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Now we are constantly hearing about “military assault-type weapons” and “weapons of war,” and too often I hear gun owners and self-proclaimed supporters of the Second Amendment declare that “no one needs an AR-15 or AK-47!” And one democratic candidate for president finally just admitted it: “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!”

The intent of the Second Amendment’s writers is clearly demonstrated in the use of the phrase: A well-regulated militia. The word “militia” comes from the same roots as military and militant and that means fighting wars. Of course, many have tried to define the term “well regulated militia” as the equivalent of today’s National Guard, but both history and just a little thought will inform even the most casual reader that this argument is spurious. The founders clearly wrote “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” and nowhere in the constitution or any founders’ writings was the phrase the people used to describe anything other than the people. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is nothing less than the right of American citizens to retain the means of overthrowing their government should it become necessary. Therefore, “military assault-type weapons” and “weapons of war” are exactly the kind of “arms” that the Second Amendment is talking about.