Saturday, April 30, 2005

Clean Broadcasting Slate

Hugh Hewitt has invited bloggers to weigh in with ideas on what CBS should do "when it rolls out its new news product."

How much time do we have?

Okay, I'll try to be brief. Here are my first thoughts:

1. If you're going to stay with an anchor person format, make it a completely new CBS face if you want to be taken seriously.

2. Don't mute a big story simply because it doesn't meet your political litmus test (e.g., Oil for Food scandal, Christmas in Cambodia). The blogs will be all over it, and you'll lose more audience to the laptop.

3. Consider using a different anchor for each evening of the week, or for alternating weeks, until the audience can provide feedback on its preferences. Actively solicit viewer feedback via phone, e-mail or, better yet, a network blog. Which brings me to--

4. Maintain a network blog, making it interactive with your audience through comments and follow-up postings. Advertise the new CBS news program through the network blog and throughout the blogosphere. (Pop-up ads? They couldn't hurt.)

5. Assign one reporter to the sole purpose of reading and reporting on the major blogs, such as Instapundit, Power Line, Real Clear Politics, National Review Online, and of course Hugh Hewitt. This reporter would keep you apprised of the stories that are getting heavy coverage in the blogosphere and warn of impending "blog swarms" to avoid another blindsiding like Rathergate.

6. Smack in the middle of the broadcast, have a "Today's Blogs" segment. Your dedicated blog reporter will give a 3-4 minute overview of the stories that the blogging public is focusing on, matching them to your own coverage whenever possible. Viewers savvy in the new media would tune in just for this update. They may come early and catch your broadcast from the top, they may come later and stay for the conclusion. If you really score, they'll watch the whole show for the benefit of this segment. Whichever way it shakes out, you're pulling in viewership.

7. In the final segment, schedule a debate-type exchange on the day's main story with recognized names from the left and the right. I'm thinking of Hugh's "Smart Guys" segment, which presents two distinct perspectives on a given point. Mark Steyn vs. Josh Micah Marshall? It works for me. And it would work for a lot of viewers.

8. Finally, lighten up on the adverbs. They are the lightning rods of bias. No more words like "desperately" and "tragically" peppering the reports from Iraq. Just tell us straight--what actually happened? News consumers are very savvy. We can decide for ourselves what is desperate or tragic without a TV talking head explaining it to us.

That's enough from this amateur. Good luck, CBS. I look forward to reading your blog.

Friday, April 29, 2005

24 Hour Addiction

It's Friday night again. There's something about the arrival of the weekend that puts a block on my blogging. But I'll spare you another poem.

Pete and I are firing up the DVD player to watch Disc 2, Season 2, of the terrific TV show, "24." We are, both of us, hooked on this series.

It all started in January, when I tuned in on the midst of Season 4, currently airing. Then, my youngest brother, a huge fan of the show, sent me Season 1 as a birthday gift. We nearly went cross-eyed watching it. When we finished, we loaned Season 1 to a friend, who in turn became hooked. She is now renting Season 2 and giving us each 4-episode DVD to watch after she's finished and return to the store. For Season 3, we'll have to do the renting and let her watch next and return.

We're addicts. It's only right that we help each other out.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Out of Focus

The Pentagon, under pressure from open-government advocates, released hundreds of images Thursday of flag-draped coffins of American soldiers.

So reports NewsMax this evening. Fine, you've got your photos now, all you "open-government advocates." But I have some questions for you.

Where are your demands for photos of the schools and hospitals that our troops have protected as they were rebuilt and reopened? Why haven't we seen any footage of Iraqi children running to greet American soldiers, as my soldier wrote me they often do as the troops make their patrols? Why haven't any journalists signed up to shadow the wounded troops who are working hard to recover, trying to get back into action with their buddies?

Every fallen soldier is a tragedy. Not just to his or her family, but to our nation. These brave young people are the best of all this country has to offer, and each loss is incalculable. Our troops have chosen this path, fortunately for us who are comfortable and safe at home. Why can't "open government advocates" insist on more coverage of our military's courageous deeds while they are alive, on duty, and in action?

Priorities are sadly out of focus when it is more important to show pictures of caskets than it is to show gratitude and support for the men and women who defend our country.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back In The Trenches

Tonight, I'm wondering how my Marine is doing.

I had a short respite from worrying about the troops on a personal level. My soldier and his guys were safely home by the end of February after a year in Iraq. Despite the exhilarating relief of having completed my "mission," as weeks passed I found I missed being actively involved in supporting our troops. By tax day, I had asked for, and received, my new Soldiers' Angels assignment. He's a Marine corporal, and I think of him throughout the day.

He should have his first care package by now. My letter containing our family's photo should arrive in a few days, and his second package is almost ready to ship. After one more trip to Target, it will be on its way.

My soldier always wrote and thanked me profusely for my support. What do you say? How do you say "You're welcome" to someone who's putting his life on the line for you, 24/7, for a solid year? You don't, because you can't.

What you can do, once that soldier's safely home, is get back in the trenches and adopt another troop to support with packages and prayers. Many thanks to Soldiers' Angels for putting me back in action.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

To Her Health

As is my weekday routine, this morning I tuned in for Laura Ingraham’s show on my way to work. There was a guest host sitting in for her. An unannounced absence from Laura is unusual, but I didn’t overthink it.

Within a few minutes, the host replayed Laura’s message for her audience, which she had phoned in earlier this morning. Laura was at the hospital, preparing to have breast cancer surgery.

The news of her illness hit me in a very personal way. My husband is a cancer survivor. He, like Laura, was in the prime of his adulthood when he was stricken. Cancer is a family disease. It not only torments the victim, it afflicts loved ones as well. Laura Ingraham is a rising star in talk radio, engaged to be married very soon. I understand the frustration and sense of helplessness her fiancé must be feeling.

As I listened to Laura’s message, she was perhaps a bit nervous, as should well be expected. But I heard courage and strength in her voice, as well as a hopeful optimism, that I know will sustain her well. She mentioned “the power of prayer,” a gift my family knows well. She asked for prayers, in fact a prayer request is posted on her website. I’m glad she did that. In my experience, prayers work.

My husband survived against all scientific odds and medical prognostications. Doctors who participated in his care a dozen years ago still inquire about him, with amazement in their voices. They are dumbfounded that a patient who was so gravely ill, with a cancer so advanced, who had suffered so many complications, could possibly survive to this day. Not only did Pete survive, he has gone on to improve his life in several ways.

I fully attribute his triumph over disease to the many prayers our family and friends devoted to his recovery. There are some things that can only be explained by faith.

Cancer is a life-altering event. It changes everyone it touches, patients and loved ones alike, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Those who have come through cancer’s dark tunnel to emerge into the sunshine of recovered health often view their illness as a blessing. Once you vanquish cancer, you never overlook the treasure in each new day. Cancer teaches us how to live.

Laura, you’ve got so much living yet to do. The prayers of your friends, your family, and your radio audience will help to sustain and strengthen you on the road to recovery. With the fire of so much faith protecting you, this dragon is likely to turn and flee.

The power of prayer works miracles. Believe it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Tea and The Fisherman's Ring

In our time-honored family tradition, “the kids” were over for Sunday dinner yesterday. They will always be “the kids”, although one is a computer specialist studying for her degree in interior design and the other is an archaeologist who is considering becoming a firefighter.

Yes, they do possess widely varied interests. I’m glad those lessons (or were they lectures?) about not limiting themselves seem to have taken.

Our conversation over dessert drifted towards Pope Benedict XVI, which prompted a discussion about the Vatican as St. Peter’s burial ground. Somehow, we then found ourselves on the subject of the Ring of the Fisherman.

To avoid any chance of forgeries, a new ring is made for each pope. The dead pope’s ring is destroyed after his death in a ritual prior to the cardinals’ conclave to elect a new pontiff. This surprised my son, who had thought the ring was buried with the pope. The ring shows St. Peter fishing with a net from his boat, a visual depiction of the “Come, I will make you fishers of men” Gospel passage, with the new pope’s name encircling the image. It is used to mark papal briefs throughout his reign.

The past month has revealed marvelous new frontiers for family conversation. It’s gratifying to know that “the kids” can still occasionally learn something new from their old Mom.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Listen To This

Pope Benedict XVI was officially installed as pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican today. It was an "installation" ceremony, not an "inauguration" as at least one newspaper reported. I suppose some reporters will forever struggle with the concept of permanency in the papacy.

The stone throwers are standing by, ready to launch at the slightest utterance of the new pope towards their politically correct agenda. Critics are never silent for very long, and no doubt they'll find plenty to complain about in the steadfast faith of Benedict XVI.

The pope stated that "My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church."

There's an adage to the effect that God gives us two ears and one mouth for the simple reason that listening is more important than speaking. The media is not designed for silence and may never accept the lesson of listening. Fortunately, Pope Benedict XVI does.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Troop's Troubador

Charlie Daniels hasn't changed much in a quarter century.

Those of you old enough to remember his hit "In America" know that Charlie has been a singing American patriot for a very long time. He wrote that song in response to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. This week, Charlie Daniels took his band (CDB) on an extensive road trip to entertain our active duty military, as reported in this Department of Defense link on April 19:

This week, through the combined efforts of the Tennessee National Guard, United States Army-Europe, Central Command in Southwest Asia, and the nonprofit organization "Stars For Stripes", the CDB took that spirit to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Germany. The band traveled more than 16,000 miles and performed up to 3 shows per day for American troops deployed in the war on terrorism...

America could use more entertainers like you, Charlie. Thanks to you and the CDB for taking the show to our troops.

Keeping It Real

A serious blogger learns very quickly to be careful with information.

Credibility is our currency, the way we survive in the ever-burgeoning blogosphere. Our hard-earned credibility is also the credential we offer to our readers in contrast to MSM's agenda journalism. So if we compromise our accuracy, we risk sacrificing the reader's trust that we've worked so hard to build.

There have been two recent stories that made me very grateful for both Google and my own skepticism. The first story was the photo of the Marines with their heads bowed in prayer. According to the story, the ACLU was planning to sue because the U.S. Marines are federal employees praying on federal land. When I researched the story, I found that it was an "e-legend" with fictitious names assigned the ACLU representative and the Marine commander.

The most recent story was the Denzel Washington visit to Fisher House at Brooks Army Medical Center. According to the legend, Denzel wrote a check for the full amount of a new facility. Here's what the Fisher House Foundation reports as the real story:

Officials from the Fisher House Foundation want the public to know the Academy Award-winning actor is a generous donor to their efforts. But an e-mail forward which has him single-handedly building new facilities for them is nothing more than an urban legend.
“He has given us one of the most substantial donations we have ever received,” foundation spokesman James Weiskopf said, declining to give a specific amount. “But it’s not enough to build a new Fisher House, and that was never his plan.”...Foundation officials say they’re thrilled with the actor’s generosity, but they don’t want the e-mail rumor to exaggerate and spoil the story.

One fact is impossible for bloggers to exaggerate: one bad post can stop your traffic. Be careful out there in cyberspace. Keep your blogs real.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Weekend

Blogless Friday

I'm stuck tonight, without a post
On blogging, I am overdosed
It's Friday night, a time for fun
That's why I can't get blogging done.

The weekend's here, I'll go recharge
Tomorrow's post should be quite large
I thank you all for logging in
And hope you will come back again.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Just Say "NO"

Yesterday, I received some mail from the Republican National Committee. They sent me a census questionnaire survey form to fill out. Oh, they also asked for a donation.

Yeah, right!

I wrote the following memo to them -

(personal letterhead)

To: Republican National Committee

Date: April 21, 2005

RE: Census and Donation

The RNC will get no response from me until the judicial nominees receive their up or down votes on the Senate floor.

· NO response

· NO census

· NO support

· NO vote


No more to say.



...and I mailed it back to the RNC in their "enclosed postage paid envelope," with a cc to Bill Frist.

We can talk after you get your job done.

Knowledge Is Power

If you've had the opportunity to read any of Pope Benedict XVI's writings, you've probably come to the same conclusion that I have: it would be tough to win a philosophical or theological debate with this man.

Aside from his dozens of books, his theological writings are astounding in their depth and number. A reader kindly directed me to "Current Situation of Faith and Theology" from 1996. After reading it, all I can say is "Wow!" He's not an easy read, but it's well worth the intellectual, and spiritual, journey.

The former Cardinal Ratzinger admired "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. Freedom is the central theme of his writings. The beginning of creation is a "creative freedom which creates further freedoms." He describes Christianity as "a philosophy of freedom."

It's uplifting, very profound material. In starting to read the written works of Pope Benedict XVI, I've begun some truly higher education.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Change Is Hard

I spoke with both of my adult children on the telephone last night, about the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Neither of them has known any pope except John Paul II, so the new papacy is bound to seem a bit alien.

My daughter and son are both concerned about the new pope’s age. I know that to any young adult, 78 years old sounds fossilized. It’s difficult to realize that chronological age only matters in human terms, not in eternity. Catholics believe that Benedict XVI was chosen by God, so we must trust that he is the pope for a very good reason. Mankind is not privy to God’s plans. If one has “faith in the system,” one believes that we have the right pope for the right time in human history. There may be a very major crisis or grave world event that Pope Benedict XVI will need to lead us through.

It could be said that we are already immersed in such an era, with the now-famous “dictatorship of relativism” openly indicted by Benedict XVI the day before his election as pontiff. The conflict between Islam and other religions also foreshadows potential catastrophe in the world. If our new pope can shepherd us through these treacherous fields successfully, no matter the length of his papacy, he will have succeeded in his mission as Vicar of Christ on earth.

The monasteries founded by St. Benedict safeguarded the history of Christian and Western civilization as the world descended into centuries of the Dark Ages. Pope Benedict XVI, a lifelong scholar and theologian, fully realizes the significance of his chosen name in relation to the lost ways of our modern world.

The ground already stampeded by the MSM, aghast at the election of a strong, traditional Catholic to lead the Church, does not bear more trampling. Suffice it to say that the media elites are thoroughly dismayed and confounded by the joy that overwhelming numbers of Catholics have displayed in their new pontiff. Imagine, a Roman Catholic leader who believes in the rules of his religion! Can it be that he’s honestly unafraid of would-be Church reformers? And although MSM immediately trotted out the Hitler Youth story and photo, it hasn’t done much to dampen the enthusiasm of most rank-and-file Catholics. Even the ADL considers that episode a non-issue with Benedict XVI. If that was MSM’s best shot, it was a blank.

“He just doesn’t look like the pope,” was my daughter’s wistful comment, the lament of a young woman who knows only John Paul II. Well, perhaps he doesn’t, just yet. But give him a bit of time, kids. To borrow a phrase from your lexicon, I think Pope Benedict XVI will “rock your world” in the best of ways.

Think about it. He’s already lit the collective wick of the entire MSM and liberal relativists across the planet. Not bad for one full day’s work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

His Own Man

Pope Benedict XVI, 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, was welcomed by joyful cheers in St. Peter’s Square today. It was one of those special lifetime moments that crystallize in memory and shine as bright as the new day, forever.

As a Baby Boomer, I was a young woman when John Paul II became pope. I remember feeling the excitement of that time, but not with the intensity of emotion I experienced today. Perhaps more than a quarter century of life’s hard lessons serves to make one more appreciative of the truly hopeful and joyous days that occasionally bless us. Whatever the reason, I felt chills from head to toe as I watched Pope Benedict XVI walk out to greet his worldwide congregation.

Josef Ratzinger’s choice by the cardinals caught me by surprise. As he had he been deemed a “front runner” in the press, I concluded that he had no chance. I thought that his age, and his closeness to John Paul II, would also serve to remove him from serious consideration.

Obviously, I’m not as in tune with the Holy Spirit as the good cardinals are. Catholics believe that God chooses the pope through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The cardinals simply open their souls to receive God’s inspiration and then act accordingly.

Benedict XVI is not John Paul II, nor should we expect him to be. It is in no way fair or reasonable to compare the two men, as many eager media representatives are racing to do. The Church teaches the value and dignity of each individual life, from conception to natural death. Pope Benedict XVI will bring his own gifts, talents, and graces to the papacy. He will leave his own mark, his individual legacy.

It is too soon to know what that legacy will be, but there are some hints. In a homily yesterday, while still Cardinal Ratzinger, he denounced the “dictatorship of relativism” in today’s secular society. I like what I’m hearing so far. With the world in its current state of moral crisis, this is no time for a pope to go squishy on doctrine.

On this, the first day of his papacy, I’ve heard Benedict XVI referrred to in the media as being “God’s Rottweiler” and having “a Doberman image.” If MSM is going to insist on a canine metaphor for our new pope, I do have a suggestion.

I say we call him the “German Shepherd.”

"Habemus papam!"

"We have a pope!"

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI today.

The shoes of the Fisherman walk on.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Filling the Shoes of the Fisherman

After the muted coverage during the nine-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II, the subject of the Roman Catholic papacy again predominates the news.

Many media folks seem a bit piqued at all the secrecy shrouding the process. Sorry, guys and gals, these are the rules since 1271. There are no press passes into the cardinals' conclaves.

Others in the media seem intent on turning the papal election into the Kentucky Derby, or maybe a Catholic Superbowl. ABC News reports that Irish bookmakers are having quite a party with papal gambling. Some people might be shocked that a Catholic country like Ireland is making sport of the somber proceedings. Coming from an Irish background, I would be shocked if I read otherwise.

Beginning with St. Peter and including John Paul II, there have been 264 popes. St. Peter's was the longest reign, 35 years, from 32-67 A.D. Blessed Pius IX was pope from 1846-1878, 32 years. John Paul II's papcy was 26 years that changed our modern world. His well-traveled shoes will not be easy to fill.

But filled, they will be. During the first week in April, the world seemed to step back and stand quietly as Catholics around the globe grieved, and as nations joined together to pay tribute to the life and good works of a great pope. Now the world holds its breath with us, watches, and waits for the white smoke. Before the month of April concludes, the Fisherman's shoes will again tread the earth, to be worn by the newly chosen leader of a very old Church.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Getting the Message

Some forward-thinking newspapers are starting to get the message that the blogs are the wave of the future.

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently began Insight Interactive, an "online forum sponsored by The San Diego Union-Tribune's Insight section and the newspaper's Web site, SignOn San Diego." The blog's moderator, Robert J. Caldwell, is the editor of the paper's Sunday Insight section of opinion and commentary. Caldwell is an outstanding journalist whose columns I consistently enjoy. He is hard hitting in his honesty, presents well researched facts, and is an excellent writer.

As an example, his article today is a powerful, thoughtful thank-you to our troops in Iraq. I only wish more of traditional media would articulate such proper gratitude to our military.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

"You Have A Marine"

That's what the e-mail told me, that I now have an adopted Marine to support through Soldiers' Angels.

I've loaded up on those wonderful $7.70 flat rate priority mail boxes that Alabama's state managing Angel, Joanna, kindly mentioned to me. The postal clerk who waited on me today was wearing a Marine Corps bracelet. I told him I needed "a few" of the boxes to get me started on care packages for my new troop. He hustled off to the back and returned in an instant with an armload of ten boxes. Grinning widely, he sent me marching with the order, "You stuff that sucker full!"

My first "sucker" is indeed full to bursting--M&Ms, Cheez-Its, hard candies, gum, shave cream, hand gel, sun block, powdered lemonade, and assorted other goodies. I've got to write my new troop a letter of introduction tonight, and then off his care package flies to launch my next Angel adventure.

I feel kind of like I did as a new parent. Excited, worried, protective, hopeful, and maternal. His package hasn't left the computer room yet, but my prayers for him certainly have.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Angel Buzz

It was a treat to hear from some of my fellow Soldiers’ Angels today in response to my April 12 post, and many thanks to Hugh Hewitt for pointing them my way.

It’s always a pleasure to hear from team members in this very worthy group effort. It’s even more rewarding when useful facts are shared. From Carol Bishop, I learned that there is another fine organization called Appreciate Our Troops. One of their projects, Operation: Mug a Troop, is in need of assistance. I’m awaiting details from Carol and will post them upon receipt.

Joanna Frazier, Alabama’s state managing Angel, suggested that I pass along this very valuable bit of information:

“It might be good to mention that with the new flat rate boxes, you can mail your care packages for only $7.70 each. Might not get as much stuff as a huge box but maybe you can send more…”

Thanks, Joanna, that’s the best news! At that economical rate, my next soldier will most likely score several boxes a month. My grown kids still tease me with the mantra I have applied through the years to explain my acutely overstuffed pantry syndrome: “It was on sale, and I had a coupon!”

Tonight, an e-mail from a Missouri angel let me know that my next soldier’s name is on the way. I hope he likes Pop Tarts.

Got Inspiration?

If you've learned that you owe the tax man a few bucks, maybe you're feeling kind of blue today, a bit put upon, and just a little sorry for yourself. If that is your situation, please read the story of Capt. David M. Rozelle, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The good captain is the first amputee to return to a combat zone. There's nothing anyone can add to that statement, except the fact that he has written a book, Back in Action, describing his experiences.

Now, I've lost my train of thought. What was I starting to say about taxes?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Messengers From Home

It's been a while since I've mentioned the wonderful organization Soldiers' Angels. I'm surprised at myself, because one of my original intentions in starting a web log was to use it as a platform to publicize the Angels more widely.

I have learned that blogs are highly reactive entities; they reflect whatever is going on in the blogger's life. Scanning my posts of the past several weeks, I can see that I've been preoccupied lately with religious and spiritual themes. That is all well and good, but tonight I'd like to swing the spotlight back onto the greatest heroes of our time: our brave military service men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Being a Soldier's Angel is not difficult, but it does take a certain amount of discipline, organization, and commitment. To get started, you sign up through the Soldiers' Angels website, and very shortly you receive your service person's mailing information in e-mail. Congratulations, you're a Soldier's Angel. Now, it's time to spread your wings.

Write a letter introducing yourself immediately, and then start shopping for your first monthly care package. You can find suggestions on the Angel's website, but I had the most fun cruising Target and the supermarkets, clutching my coupons and searching for hot items that were on sale. Using the thrift approach, a decent care package can pull together for under $25. However, it will take nearly as much to mail it, so budget accordingly.

It's a very minor expense, really, when you think about what these young heroes are going through to keep us safe here at home.

I have never undertaken a more meaningful task than providing such personal support to our military. Longtime readers know that "my" soldier is now my lifelong friend, safely home in the U.S. When he phoned me after his return to the U.S. in February, he told me he had already adopted his own soldier through Soldiers' Angels.

The word "angel" means "messenger." Tonight, I sent an e-mail to Soldiers' Angels requesting another soldier to adopt. I'm already looking forward to mailing messages of hope and encouragement from home to this new young hero who will soon become a treasured personal friend.

Please take a moment to visit the Soldiers' Angels website and see what good work is waiting for anyone who'd like to help. I promise, if you decide to sign up, the experience will enrich you beyond words.

And now, I must go find my coupons...

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Less Said, The Better

Almost overnight, the news has plunged back into its usual morass of mediocrity. We have the usual dueling between Democrats and Republicans, with the Dems kicking and screaming, figuratively speaking (most of the time), over each majority thrust and parry. Soaring gas prices, manhunts for escaped cons, kooks in the Capitol--we're back in the hamster wheel of hellish headlines.

But nothing is more tedious than the so-called "celebrities" that populate today's news. Are we really as desperate for inane drivel as some of today's "stars" indicate? If so, how tragic!

There are dozens of newsmakers I could easily spend the rest of my life without hearing another single syllable about. In order to not waste your precious time, here's my personal Top Ten:

1. Michael Jackson. If only he would take a moonwalk--to the moon.

2. Paris Hilton. Does anyone really care?

3. Brad Pitt. Sorry it didn't work out with Jennifer, but must we all suffer?

4. Jennifer Aniston. Sorry it didn't work out with Brad, but must we all suffer?

5. Jessica Simpson. I think she sings, but I'm not sure. And I'd like to keep it that way.

6. Britney Spears. I know she sings, but I'm not sure why. And I'd like her to stop.

7. Christina Aguilara. Get dressed, sit down, be quiet.

8. Madonna. Enough said.

9. Anna Nicole Smith. See Number 2.

10. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Well, I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Blogosphere Rising

The first blogger to contact me was Mover Mike.

In a comment he posted to my blog several months ago, Mike wrote that he had linked my site on his blogroll. Such a message is every blogger’s payday. In his comment, Mike alerted me to his own blog. I paid his site a few visits, linked him to my blog in return, and have been enjoying his posts ever since. If you need some pithy financial news analysis mixed with no-nonsense social commentary, Mover Mike can connect you. (By the way, Mike, have you given up on counting the days until John Kerry releases all of his military records? LOL!)

Hugh Hewitt’s terrific idea of blogger symposiums on critical political issues have been an invaluable boon to the bloggers. “Vox Blogoli” topics have ranged from liberal media coverage of North Korea to the controversies over judicial nominees. I have participated in several of the symposiums, and it’s always a thrill to see your own blog linked in Hugh’s. After all, Hugh is known as the “godfather of the blogosphere.”

I’ve become familiar with dozens of blogs through my surfing in the blogosphere, and it’s safe to say that many blogs (not all) provide better commentary and analysis of current events than the morning newspaper. With the passing of Pope John II, the blogosphere exploded with coverage. Hugh Hewitt linked my April 2 posting, and I’ve gained new blogging friends as a result. Alan Riley of In the meantime was kind enough to mention my blog several times, even quote from it on April 8, and it's been exciting to watch the traffic to my site soar as a result. As Hugh Hewitt wisely noted in his most recent book, “Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World,” “Bloggers love traffic.”

A reader named Winston7000 has also left thoughtful comments on my recent posts. It’s always a thrill to hear from a reader, even when the feedback is negative. A readership means that you are reaching people. It means that they have thought about your words and feel compelled to answer with their own perspective. That reality is a huge responsibility for any writer.

But for bloggers, who are the pioneers of the new Internet media, it is especially important to acknowledge our readers and extend our thanks to those who strengthen our web-hold. It’s impossible to know where the blogosphere will be in ten years, but it’s safe to assume that it will still be here. As we bloggers continue to explore this new channel of communication, I hope we maintain honest opinions and accurate facts as the hallmark of our postings. I also hope we continue to support each other's blogging efforts. By doing so, we not only strengthen and enrich the blogoshere’s potential for good, but we also diminish MSM’s ability to inflict harm through agenda journalism.

That’s the real payday for any sincere blogger. Thanks to all of you for reading.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Summing Things Up

I watched Pope John Paul II's funeral on videotape last night, and I would have given much to have been in St. Peter's Square when the pallbearers turned his coffin towards the crowd one last time.

Aside from the spontaneous cascade of tears, and the reverberating avalanche of cheers, I'll bet there was an indescribable electricity in the air that surged from one soul to the next, raising goosebumps and stirring chills of excitement and awe. Even in the flat two dimensions of television, one could feel it. It was an historic moment, undoubtedly a spiritual watershed for everyone present.

Millions of words have been written about John Paul II in the past week, none more substantive than the title link. More commentary here would be superfluous. It's time for the rest of us to take up the rhythm of life again.

As John Paul II would have said, "Rise, let us be on our way."

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Beautiful Tribute

Thank you to NewsMax for a beautiful tribute to the late Pope John Paul II. During the past week, NewsMax's extensive and respectful coverage has been wonderful to follow.

Considering the Sources

I did not see the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The videotape awaits me when I arrive home from work this evening.

Looking back over the past week, I can only wonder what MSM representatives are making of all this fuss. After their years of steady carping that John Paul II was woefully out of step with modern times, how do they explain the unprecedented and phenomenal outpouring of love and grief for the man, especially by the great numbers of young people?

Are all of the multi-million pilgrims to Rome uneducated simpletons? Hmm, might offend too many readers and viewers with that slant. Is MSM the only group of sophisticates in the world to grasp the complexities of our age? Considering the fact that John Paul II visited more countries and reached out to more cultures than most world leaders combined, that conclusion is doubtful.

Where does that leave MSM? Now that the necessary period of restraint has passed, I suspect MSM will quickly launch back into their politically correct agendas. They will certainly trot out the West’s unholy trinity of secular issues with Catholicism: abortion, contraception, and women in the priesthood. Negative stories on priestly celibacy will also get wide coverage. And I suspect that the sex scandal within the Church--which is truly one our most tragic and shameful hours--will be eagerly spotlighted yet again.

Considering that the Roman Catholic Church has survived for nearly 2,000 years, it’s a given that it can handle criticism. Personally, I have no problem with differing points of view. In fact, I welcome them, as they often lead to very enlightening and productive discussions on faith, philosophy, and human behavior.

However, there is not much enlightenment in MSM’s approach to religion. Many of the newscasters covering the Pope’s passing have displayed a startling ignorance of their subject. One news wire service reported that John Paul II prayed the 14 “Stages” of the Cross the day before his death, but the easily-verifiable term is “Stations” of the Cross. (Proof that even non-bloggers can exhibit sloppy reporting!) On one national nightly newscast early in the coverage, ABC’s Terry Moran mentioned that a major difference with other Christian denominations is Catholic’s “adoration of the Blessed Virgin.” Now, that was a shocking bit of news to this cradle Catholic! We do love and revere the Blessed Mother, but “adore” her? Absolutely not! Adoration is for God alone, as she would be the first to insist.

So as the various dissecting tools emerge from the elite media’s journalistic kits in an effort to pare John Paul II’s remarkable papacy down to a manageable, mediocre size, let’s keep in mind the sources.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

At Opposite Extremes

The man knows how to build a crowd," former president Bill Clinton said of Pope John Paul II.

Well, so much for thoughtful commentary on the late Pope John Paul II from that particular source. Not that I had expected much better. Bill Clinton is incapable of analyzing any situation objectively. Regardless of how momentous the circumstances, the bottom line must always relate to him and his personal world view.

Clinton stated that John Paul II had “played a role in hastening the end of communism in central Europe.” Oh, yes, maybe just a little! He also called John Paul "a consistent voice for human dignity in the face of political oppression and modern materialism." Not bad, I can give that statement a couple of points. But he went on to say that the pontiff "centralized authority in the papacy again and enforced a very conservative theological doctrine that there will be debates about."

Okay, there may be debates, but this isn’t the Senate floor, Bill. In the final analysis, John Paul II had only One constituent to keep content. He made it his mission to fulfill that commitment on a daily basis.

"He's like all of us. He may have a mixed legacy.” Clinton mused.

Excuse me, Bill, but I don’t think so. I don’t believe that Pope John Paull II was “like all of us.” In fact, I’m hard pressed to find any similarity between these two men, except perhaps some minor correlation in the area of personal charisma. Even in popular appeal, a Clinton trademark, John Paul II leaves him in the dust. “A mixed legacy” such as Clinton’s is the result of deceit and dishonesty, reflected clearly in the surprisingly low attendance levels at the Clinton Library. But the millions of people flooding Rome to bid farewell to John Paul II knew exactly where he stood on every issue of his time, and they loved and respected him for that.

By characterizing John Paul II as just another good ol’ boy, Clinton may allow himself to feel more of an equal to John Paul II. The former president may take comfort in projecting his own faults and deficiencies onto the late pontiff. But these self-serving remarks merely display further examples of Clinton’s relentless narcissism.

I found him a very complete person," Clinton added. Oh, Bill, if you only knew.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Principle Over Politics

The inimitable Mark Steyn, with his perfect combination of hard facts and wry humor, has nailed the MSM whiners who are angst-ridden about John Paul II being “orthodox,” “conservative,” and “doctrinaire (HT: Hugh Hewitt) . “The Pope’s Divisions” and “The Splendour of Truth,” both by Steyn, sum up why the MSM will never "get" the Catholic Church.

John Paul II was not interested in winning a popularity contest; he was committed to communicating eternal truth. It was not his mission to “update” or “modernize” the Catholic Church; it was his mission to protect and nurture it. Judging from the millions of people flocking to Rome to pay him their last respects, I’d guess that his firm adherence to objective values didn’t cost him as much popular support as MSM would like us to believe.

The Roman Catholic Church is a worldwide institution with over one billion members. The next pope, whoever he may be, will have to consider a panoramic global picture of which the U.S.A. is but a small segment. Some Catholic Americans continue to harp about the Vatican’s position on such issues as abortion, birth control, and women priests. As my daughter would say, “Get over yourselves.”

For just this one crucial moment in history, let us step back and realize that it’s not always about us and our agendas first. And it’s certainly not about the liberal elite media’s agenda, either. The next pope will have much greater concerns than American tantrums over Church teachings and traditions. Let’s bear in mind that he will need our prayers and support far more than our opinions and attitudes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Predicting the Future

One of the stories getting some media attention due to the death of John Paul II is the prediction of popes by St. Malachy, an Irish saint who was born in the year 1094.

According to the popular interpretation of Malachy’s prophecy, there are only two popes to follow John Paul II before the end of the world. This is an intriguing story that I first heard of about ten years ago, and I have done some reading on Malachy and his prophecies in the interim.

First of all, Malachy was a mystic who made several prophecies, some of them concerning his native Ireland. According to one prophecy, Malachy foresaw the struggles between Great Britain and Ireland and predicted that the tribulations between Protestants and Catholics would last for “a week of centuries.” This phrase is commonly interpreted to mean 700 years.

What is known today as “The Troubles” in Ireland can be traced to the mid-1500s, when Queen Elizabeth I put down the rebellions of Irish Catholic chieftains following the establishment of the Church of England. If Malachy’s prophecy is correct, that means there are over 200 more years of strife between the two faiths before religious peace is restored to Ireland. At that time, the prophecy predicts a harmonious reconciliation between the faiths. We can only hope and pray that part is true.

Obviously, it will take more than two popes to shepherd the Roman Catholic Church for 200 years. So what are we to make of St. Malachy’s prophecy regarding the succession of popes?

The Catholic Encyclopedia points out that “Peter the Roman” is prophesied to be the last pope, but the prophecy does not state that the “The Glory of the Olive” pope, supposedly in line to follow John Paul II, will directly precede the last pope. Prior to Peter the Roman, there is a possible gap in which the next pontiff may be succeeded by any number of popes that were not specifically named by Malachy.

By their fruits, you shall know them” is a biblical guideline for judging the authenticity of prophecies. Religious strife has flared for over five centuries between Irish Protestants and Catholics; so far, Malachy has been correct on that prophecy. In the 110 popes to follow Malachy’s time, his lyrical predictions have been remarkably applicable to each pope.

To cite the three most recent examples, Paul VI was called “Flower of Flowers,” and his coat of arms included three iris blossoms. John Paul I was predicted in stunning detail. Known as “Of the Half Moon” in Malachy’s prophecy, the first John Paul was baptized Albino Luciani, or “white light.” He was born in the diocese of Belluno, meaning “beautiful moon,” and became pope when the moon was exactly half full. John Paul II was identified as “From the Toil of the Sun.” He was born during a solar eclipse, and his native land, Poland, is to the east of Rome, where the sun begins its travels around the globe. John Paul II was by far the most widely traveled pope in history, traversing the world many times in his “toils.”

No one knows when the last day will come. We have Our Lord’s word on that (Matt 24:36). So whether the last day arrives after two more popes, or after 200 more years of religious strife in Northern Ireland, the best we followers of Christ can do is to live each day as well and fully as our grace allows. In this way, we follow the Master's directive not to be concerned about the future. As Our Lord so wisely noted, each day has trouble enough without borrowing from unknown tomorrows.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Man For All Ages

Today, I feel very much as I did on the day my own father died 18 years ago.

This jumble of emotions is strangely familiar. I am grateful, almost joyful, that the years of pain and suffering are over, that a very good man has stepped across the mystical divide into his just and eternal reward. Yet his passing leaves an emptiness that can not be described, a sorrow in the knowledge that the world is a poorer place now that this special soul has left us behind.

When you look at the history of Pope John Paul II's remarkable life, you can read the finger of God writing with bold and dramatic lines. You see his human suffering in the many chapters. When he was a nine-year-old child, his mother died. Three years later, his older brother died. When he was 20 years old, working as a laborer in a quarry, he returned from work one evening to find his father, his only remaining family, dead in their small apartment. Of that day, "I have never felt so alone," John Paul II is quoted as telling one of his biographers.

John Paul also suffered the loss of friends and neighbors in the Holocaust and the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Poland. This pope understood human grief in a personal way that made him famous for his loving compassion to others. It is a beautiful irony that this great man, left alone in the world by age 20, became the spiritual father to a billion Roman Catholics, and a shining example of God's goodness to the billions of people who follow a different path of faith.

As a youth, he was at various times an actor, a playwright, a poet, a laborer, a student, and finally, a seminarian. He became a priest, a teacher, an athlete, a philosopher, a bishop, a cardinal, an author--and a very great Pope. We shall not see his like again.

As a Catholic, I feel very blessed that my time on earth intersected his, and that I was witness to the greatest victory won through his fearless faith--the fall of communism and the spread of democracy in Eastern Europe. As a writer and blogger, I am touched that one of Pope John Paul II's last published writings, "The Rapid Development," was on the power and influence of the Internet. As his spiritual daughter, I feel bereft.

But as I so often do when I am troubled, I hear the voice of my own father inside my heart in the words he used whenever I was frightened as a child: "It's all right, Kathy." Today, I hear those words in the younger voice of John Paul II, a voice that is strong and vibrant once again.

Godspeed, Holy Father. I have faith, as you did, that we, your spiritual sons and daughters, will be all right.

Friday, April 01, 2005

For John Paul II

"Crossing the Bar"
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.