Observations of an Irishman: American Culture Is Different

A Phony Narrative

In a strict ideological sense, I share a lot of values with both conservatives and libertarians. All of my beliefs stem from the idea that our rights are God-given, and while it's government’s job to protect those rights, people should have as much control over their lives as possible.

There's one issue about which I find myself in full disagreement with a growing number of those on the “right” today. That is their dismissive treatment of young people and college students. It is so frustrating to see the narrative online that "young people suck" and that they are nothing more than precious "snowflakes." It is frustrating because this attitude goes against a founding principle that made America exceptional and different to other nations --- the principle of believing in the individual and that you judge people by the content of their character and not some label you think they belong to.

American culture is about lifting people up and not putting them down.

The second reason it is frustrating is this attitude is the exact opposite of the American culture I love so much. American culture is about lifting people up and not putting them down, inspiring people to be better and to reach for the stars, not condemning them and saying, "you are the problem."

I was honored to be invited to speak with several colleges during this trip and I was excited to learn the truth for myself. While speaking to a group called Young Americans for Liberty on the campuses of both Duke University and the University of North Carolina, I discovered the narrative that dismisses young people was exactly that --- a phony narrative.

I met with some amazing young people aged between 18 and 21 who knew more about free market economics than most people twice their age as they quoted Hayek, Von Mises and Smith to me. While we did not agree on every issue, it was clear to me that these young kids were well educated and well thought out on their positions, and they were humble enough to know that not everyone will agree with their positions.

Now, people will correctly point out that these students are in the vast minority on their campuses, but those kids standing for freedom on campuses need our support and encouragement, not our insults. We also need to encourage those brave young kids to speak out and try to grow their numbers. If we give that support, their numbers will grow and those young minds that survive college will be battle-tested and ready to take on more responsibility in the real world.

Lastly, if we owe younger people anything, it is a sincere apology. They cannot be blamed for the state of the debt, the size of government, advancement of government regulations, a society where innovation and entrepreneurship have lessened and socialism has become more acceptable. Young people today are the product of an environment where politicians on both sides, the media, the culture and Hollywood have advanced a phony narrative of their potential.

We need to help reverse this.

Count Your Blessings

America is such a unique and exceptional country and there is no other country you could compare it to. Sadly, I think a growing number of Americans don’t appreciate how many opportunities they have that others do not. I want to point out some differences in our societies that you may have never spent any time thinking about.

BIGGER Is Better!

When I arrive in America, one of the first things I notice is how big everyone's cars are, and how many people drive SUVs, Jeeps and trucks. It is not uncommon for the “average” American car to have a two-liter engine. In Europe, we have cars that are two-liter engines but they are not owned by many. The average engine size is around 1.6 and engines come as small as one-liter.

This also continues into the size of houses. It is not uncommon for an American home to be in excess of 2,000 square feet. In places like Ireland and the U.K., the average size is less than 1,000 square feet.

Choices Unlimited

In America, there are always multiple brands competing for your dollar. Capitalism grants Americans the opportunity to make choices in all aspects of their daily lives.

If you are reading this now, stop, take a moment out and think of the number of places you could eat at right now. Now think how far you would have to travel to get to your favorite outlet. How does that compare to Ireland, you might ask? Sure, we have places like McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Subway, but they are few and far between and America has a lot more choices.

Believe it or not, Americans also experience significant competition in the area of religion. Growing up in Ireland, my choices were to be a Catholic or Atheist. Things have gotten better over the years as we now have several Protestant churches, a couple of Baptist churches and one Mormon church in Dublin. When I was stateside, though, I had my pick of those, with the addition of various non-denominational Churches and many other faiths.

Competitive Advantage in Gas Prices

America and its people have one major competitive advantage over a large part of the rest of the world and that is the price of gasoline. The average price of gas in Ireland right now is roughly $6.50 a gallon (€1.39 per liter), but that is cheap because of a favorable exchange rate. Can you imagine the reaction in America if gas was even $5 a gallon? Can you imagine the impact on your economy? Yet this is cheaper than what Irish people and most of Europe pays every day.

On this trip, I drove a lot of miles (in the thousands) and drove cars much bigger than my Irish one and the most expensive trip to the pump I had was $31, and that was because the tank was empty. Several years ago when oil prices when at their highest in Ireland, it used to cost me nearly $100 to fill my car, which made it hard to have a full tank of fuel.

Making a Difference

I always love hearing stories about successful people; especially those where the people involved came from nothing or overcame a big obstacle. They inspire me to be better and give me hope that maybe one day with hard work I will have some of the success they achieved.

According to a recent study, America is the second most charitable nation (beyond Myanmar) in terms of donating time and money. It is always inspiring to hear about “ordinary” people seeing a need in society and stepping up to make a difference through fundraising or awareness.

American culture at its finest.

But the perfect combo, in my opinion, is when you can mix business with charity.

During this amazing trip, I found one of these amazing combos. I was given the opportunity to speak in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and wanted to meet with some dear friends for food beforehand. They introduced me to a restaurant called Mission BBQ. This is a company that serves amazing BBQ food with incredible staff at affordable prices and donates some of their profits to both police and military charities. While I was there, they were raising money for a 9/11 charity by selling branded hats and cups. During the Christmas season, they helped lay wreaths at the graves of those who had paid the ultimate price for freedom.

I am officially a fan. I don’t the next time I will get the opportunity to get stateside, but I know if I am near a Mission BBQ I will be there, and hopefully more than once.

It's just one example of American culture at its finest.

Jonathon Dunne is an Irishman with a lifelong dream of becoming an American citizen. After waiting for over 13 years, Dunne received a job offer from Glenn Beck so he could achieve his dream, but unfortunately, he did not meet the requirements to apply for a visa. Unless laws change or Dunne decides to break the law (he won't), his American dream is dead. Despite this setback, he still loves America and seeks to be a positive influence on society by promoting the idea of America and God-given freedoms. While on a recent vacation, Dunne delivered sixteen presentations (for free) in eight different states across the U.S. During this time, he kept notes and we asked him to share some of his experiences. As you read the column below, imagine the words are being spoken in a thick, Irish accent. If you're having trouble imagining how that sounds, you can hear it for yourself by tuning into Dunne's free weekly podcast, "Freedom's Disciple," on TheBlaze Radio, available on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeart Radio, Google Play and Stitcher.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.