Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Honor of Courage

Flight 93 National Memorial ~ Pennsylvania, USA

This nation shall remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. 

~ Elmer Davis

The Wall of Names

The Tower of Voices

Sunday, September 09, 2018

News Break

One of the best things about a two-week vacation with family on the opposite side of the continent is the distance it achieves from media events. I missed a lot of "sound and fury" but am none the worse for it. In fact, I'm quite relieved to have been able to ignore most news reports and enjoy my time away.

For example, take the week-long public lamentations over Senator John McCain. I left town just after the onetime war hero, longtime senator had passed away, and I was halfway through my vacation before he was finally laid to rest. Viewed fleetingly from an iPhone, all the honors and ceremonies seemed endless. Of course there was the inevitable flap over President Trump; why he had to be involved, I don't know. Grieving family members have every right to say whatever they wish; formally invited eulogists, less so. I thought that even the slightest allusion to the senator's differences with the current president drew the spotlight away from John McCain, where it rightfully belonged, and that the bitter remarks were beneath the dignity of the senator's funeral. (Of course, as my grandchildren might say of McCain, "He started it!" by publicly barring Trump from his funeral in advance. But still...)

During my second week off, the Senate hearings for future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh took center stage--complete with histrionic theatrics. All the Democrat's dramatic efforts and interruptions failed to render their protests as entertaining as the movie Spartacus, but New Jersey's Cory Booker gave it a go. I only heard snippets, but Booker's "Spartacus moment" was memorable, if not for the reasons he had hoped.

To cap off my vacation, Barack Obama, of all people, decided to pop out of his blessedly quiet corner and vocally trash his successor, Donald Trump. I was especially glad to miss this news coverage. Do we really have to listen to him again? For eight years, untold millions of Americans suffered in silence along with me as Obama lectured, hectored, lied, divided, and condescended to us. Now he's back at it. Doesn't the country have enough on its plate? No, in Obama's mind--and in the adoring media's estimation--there's always room for more Obama.

So although I thoroughly enjoyed my long break from the news, I know I can't run away from the fact that the news is still broken. And even if I could flee, I know for sure I wouldn't be wearing a pair of Nikes.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Uncomfortable Shoes

And other shoes continue to drop in the ongoing scandal within the Catholic Church. It is now revealed that Pope Francis discontinued Pope Benedict's sanctions against Cardinal McCarrick, and also covered up for him until it was impossible to do so any longer in the face of the ugly, nauseating facts.

The "shoes of the fisherman" are apparently a bad fit for Francis. He should perhaps rethink his wardrobe entirely.

Link: Petition to Remove Cardinal Wuerl

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Of Millstones and Money Changers

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
~ John 2

In the wake of the disgusting revelations of the Pennsylvania's grand jury report on hundreds of sexual crimes against children by priests, and ensuing coverups by their superiors, I've heard and read many references to the New Testament's millstone warning. It appears in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and it quotes Jesus saying the following:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."
There it is, in black in white: hurt the children, and you're going to face fearsome punishment.

That dire admonition directly from the Lord's lips doesn't seem to bother the perverted priests or the complicit hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The details of the Pennsylvania report are sickening to read and too obscene for me to reference directly.

The millstone warning (my term for it) is all well and good, but there is another New Testament story that I believe fits the situation equally well. It appears in the second chapter of John's gospel and describes the fury of Jesus upon entering the temple and finding commerce being conducted. He actually fashioned a "whip of cords" and physically drove the money changers from the temple, overturning their tables and scattering all of their loot in the process.

That's what righteous anger looks like, and it was over selling birds and livestock in what the Lord called "my Father's house." Consider the famous question, "What would Jesus do?" with regard to the widespread rape of children (see "millstone," above) in his Father's house. This is not sin by merchants selling their wares, but depraved, deliberate evil by priests anointed to God's service, against the most innocent and vulnerable--young children. That unspeakable atrocity, repeated for many decades countless times the world over, was followed by the crime of coverup by those in authority over the criminals. What would Jesus do? I can't speak for the Lord, but somehow I doubt that a "whip of cords" would be sufficient for his response.

Jesus Drives out Money Changers
As a practicing Catholic, I am enraged. Just this month Pope Francis declared capital punishment "inadmissible." Yet Pope Francis has expressed only "shame and sorrow" (through a spokesman, no less) over the criminal obscenities reported in Pennsylvania's grand jury report. That's absolutely pathetic. I've got more than a few questions for the pope, and as a Catholic I have every right and duty to ask them.

When will child rape and sexual defilement be "inadmissible" in the ranks of the Catholic Church? When will the bishops who covered up these obscenities be exposed and held accountable? When will the offending priests and bishops be stripped of their privileges, handed over to law enforcement authorities, charged with rape, prosecuted, convicted, and thrown into prison for the remainder of their natural lives?

When will you deal with the evil that is rotting the Church from within? Until you do, your "holiness," you are a coward who is as guilty of these filthy, unspeakable crimes as the priests and bishops who committed them.

I remain a Catholic. As I explain to people who inquire, my obligation is to the Lord, not to any man or institution. Each of us someday will die and face God's judgment. I will need to answer for myself and for my sins. The pope, the bishops, all of the Church hierarchy that aided and abetted this corrupt and ubiquitous scandal*, and each and every evil priest who destroyed a child's life will need to answer for their own sins. Good luck with that.

*Link to petition to remove Cardinal Wuerl (added 8/27/18)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Train to Nowhere

Image from ALIVE East Bay Magazine
I've lived in California for several decades, but I've never adjusted to the state's profligate spending. Of course, the liberals are in the majority in the state assembly and senate, which perfectly explains the lack of common sense, but let's leave that aside for the moment. California flings money at a multitude of useless projects ranging from the highly impractical to the absolutely ridiculous.

The state's stalled "bullet train" is one financial disaster that fits both descriptions. Despite the complete waste of $77 billion on a project that is now eleven years behind schedule, Jerry "Governor Moonbeam" Brown still insists that California's bullet train is the future of transportation and environmental nirvana.

Just between us, I think he's still high from his last Linda Ronstadt concert.

Think about $77 billion dollars frittered away over the course of more than a decade by the government, with nothing to show the taxpayers for it. The "bullet train to nowhere," as it's called in polite circles, has an imaginative variety of alternate nicknames among the state's residents. I've heard it called the "crazy train," the "cuckoo choo-choo," and the "scam tram," among other monikers not suitable for this blog's editorial standards.

Consider what $77 billion dollars could do if it had been in vested in a real necessity, such as firefighting and drought mitigation. For far less than that mind-boggling sum, there could be more water treatment and desalinization plants built, more firefighting airplanes and helicopters bought, more firefighters hired, trained, and deployed to knock down the recent monster fires that California has been suffering in recent years.

I heard one conservative commentator declare that "drought is a choice." It's an interesting perspective, one that would have benefited California immensely had it been adopted by the state politicians even a few years ago. But, like it or move, California's politicians have us all traveling on the train to nowhere. If they only had a brain.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Old News is No News

Image from Politico

As our president signs legislation

To satisfy pledged obligation

The media news stations

Pursue old allegations

And leave us in newsless starvation.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Quiet Triumph

Image: Paramount Pictures
I've always maintained that a script writer never allows a pregnant woman to go unexploited for dramatic purposes, and I think I've been proven correct in every TV show or movie I've ever watched. But never have I seen a pregnant woman used so extensively--and effectively--as Emily Blunt's character in the almost unbearably suspenseful film,  A Quiet Place.

In a post-apocalyptic world, the monsters have arrived yet again. In this incarnation, they are blind but hunt by sound. The creatures are extremely ugly, seemingly indestructible, and incredibly fast when they respond to an inadvertent noise. A Quiet Place is a quiet film that will keep you riveted to the edge of your seat, right from the start.

Directed by John Krasinski, who also stars, the story follows the Abbot family: father Lee, mother Evelyn, and their children, one of whom is deaf. The fact that the entire family is able to communicate fully in sign language no doubt has aided them in their survival. But as is the case in any successful horror movie, things will go wrong for the characters you have come to care about. The tension builds ever upward to the dramatic conclusion. I had a bit of a stiff neck by the time the credits rolled, but it was well worth it.

In a sociological analysis, A Quiet Place could be said to mirror our current national atmosphere, where one wrong sound brings immediate destruction. Just ask Roseanne Barr or the former CEO of Papa John's pizza, to cite two recent examples. But in a more intimate sense, the movie is a simple story of one family's love, resilience, sacrifice, and redemption. Get your bowl of popcorn and watch--quietly.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hail to a Very Special Chief

Chief Joseph Pfeifer retired today from New York City's fire department. Pfeifer was the first FDNY chief on the scene at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. His firefighter brother, Kevin, was among those killed in the terrorist attack.

Chief Pfeifer had actually been eligible to retire a few days before 9/11 happened. In one interview, Pfeifer said he stayed on active duty so as not to end "on a sad note." His leaving the fire service marks the end of an era and, I hope and pray, the beginning of many joyful years ahead with family and friends.

Chief Pfeifer, a brave, unassuming, and enduring American hero. Godspeed.