Monday, April 28, 2008

Name Day

God's forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being.

April 29 is the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Catholic Church, mystic, stigmata, and one of the Church's incorruptibles. In old European tradition, it is also my name day.

I first heard of name days when I was dating my husband, Pete. Name days were much bigger than birthdays in the Latvian tradition. Pete always got a phone call from his mother on June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. And still, I always get my call from my mother-in-law on April 29--St. Catherine's day.

One of my grandmothers was named Catherine, and she died on April 29. Shortly after receiving the phone call informing me of my grandmother's passing, the phone rang again. It was my mother-in-law, calling to wish me a happy name day. I told her I had just learned of my grandmother Catherine's death. "Congratulations!" she exclaimed with unmistakable delight, very excited at this seemingly good news.

Mom-in-law went on to explain to me, newlywed cultural illiterate that I was, that Latvians believe dying on your name day is the best possible fate. If you die on your name day, you get your ticket punched straight through to heaven, non-stop. Well, okay then. That would explain the happy "Congratulations!" in response to "My grandmother Catherine died today."

I like the fact that Catherine was a writer. Of course, one doesn't become a doctor of the Church without the writings to prove one's stuff, so to speak. She is the patron saint of Europe, firefighters, and nurses. As if that wasn't enough to keep her occupied, she's also the patron against illness, sexual temptations, and miscarriages. It sounds like being a saint can be exhausting work if your name is Catherine.

There are 190 variations of the original Greek root for the name Catherine, including my own.
So to all the Cathys, Caitlins, Kates, Kittys, Kays, and Kathleens who might be reading this--happy name day to us.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Their Honor

Don't forget that while political factions argue within the safety of our free country, brave men and women fight and die to keep the contentious conversation going.

Remember our military heroes, who live--and die--in harm's way, for our benefit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Behind the Mask

This is the pool he swims in

Rev. Wright's anti-American rhetoric was bad enough. Now, we've got word of outright terrorists chumming around with Barack Obama.

From the sound of the audio clips from 2007 in this article, it doesn't seem as though their philosophy has changed much since Obama was "eight years old." No wonder he can't "close the deal" with Democratic primary voters.

What's fascinating is that new media is forcing this story into the light of day. MSM, if they ever even bothered to "vet" their superstar, would never expose Obama's connections to these radicals. But as Hugh Hewitt's article chronicles the mushrooming trajectory of this story, through talk radio and the internet, it is painfully obvious that old media will never again be able to clamp the lid on news to suit their own agenda. Hats off to Guy Benson for springing this important scoop.

Obama's smile isn't quite so wide these days, and with good reason. His judgment is quite rightly being questioned, much to his distaste. Hey, if Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos can rattle his cage so easily, how is Obama going to handle Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when they act up?

American voters deserve to know what's behind Obama's carefully constructed, old media-protected personna. The more facts that are funneled to us via a diligent new media, the more we're learning that there's plenty to be concerned about.

Sometimes the man behind the mask turns out not to be the hero, after all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Benedict's Travels

Having worked several hours of overtime last week, I missed most of the media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. Fortunately, over the weekend, I found this mesmerizing link, which provides what I have irreverently dubbed "death by papal video."

It's safe to say that I'm all caught up on the pope's U.S. activities.

I like this pope, more than I thought I would when he was first elected. To quote from a recent Peggy Noonan column, John Paul II made you cry; Benedict makes you think. He's a man of superlatives--very smart, very humble, very kind. He has none of JP II's flamboyance, but every bit of the same common touch. Benedict can reach people, in his own quiet way.

It's almost eerie to consider that this man, admired leader of the world's one billion-plus Roman Catholics, was once a young boy forced into the service of the Third Reich. He is most likely the last pontiff to have experienced, firsthand, the evil that gripped the globe during World War II. Yet here he is today, alive and well at 81 years of age, inspiring young American Catholics to breathe new life into our Church and carry on its good work, as we were instructed by Our Lord.

There's an old saying, "God writes straight with crooked lines." The long, twisting road that Pope Benedict XVI has traveled to arrive at this moment in time paves a wide open highway stretching in front of us. His simple example of faith in action challenges each of us to take up our cross and follow.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pennsylvania on My Mind

That’s me a few years ago, on a visit back to the desolate and “bitter” land of western Pennsylvania.

Doesn’t it look depressing? All that wild greenery, enduring peacefulness, with a pristine park built to honor our veterans and streets lined with charming Victorian homes—why, it’s enough to drive anyone to irrational desperation.

I spent the better (far from bitter) part of four years in this lovely corner of the country, during college. Having traveled 47 of the United States and been a visitor in fifteen foreign countries, and I can attest that the breathtaking mountain vistas of Pennsylvania can easily compete with any locale for sheer natural beauty.

Rural Pennsylvanians love their homes, and many have lived there for generations. The “Big City” holds no allure for them; call them crazy (bitter?), but they prefer the Wordsworthian splendor of the Pennsylvania countryside. Schools close when deer season opens, the numerous town churches are packed on Sunday mornings--and it has always been so. Economics is irrelevant to the “guns and religion” of their lifestyle. Their reverence for our American right to bear arms, their faith and love of God and country, their admirable good values are instilled in their character and interwoven into the fabric of daily life.

A politician may not need to agree with or even understand the world view of our rural countrymen. But if he hopes to survive as a candidate, he would do well to respect it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blunder Road

Well now I’m no hero, that’s understood.
~ Bruce Springsteen, 1975

He is a left-leaning gazillionaire who believes he speaks for the lower-to-middle working class. He thinks the war in the Middle East is an unmitigated disaster, the country a tragic wreck, and our president a total disgrace and failure.

Sound familiar? It should. There’s a lot of that going around this campaign season. Now we have that highly insightful political genius, Bruce Springsteen, coming out in heartfelt support of that champion of the bitter common people, Barack Obama.

Below is a snippet of Springsteen’s deep thoughts about Obama:
"He speaks to the American I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a
generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems…"
Oh, Bruce. You’re a fine one to be referencing “nuanced” and “complex.” If you did any homework at all, you’d know that the U.S.A. is the most generous nation on earth, and has been for a long time. All it takes is the click of a mouse to learn that one important fact about the U.S.A.--you know, "Your Hometown." You really would do better to stick with your musical shtick.

To use Obama’s words, Bruce should “cling to” what he knows and does well and leave politics to the professional fakes. He would keep more of his audience if he did. As Dolly Parton once wisely noted, when asked why she never discusses politics, people come to her shows to hear her sing. As Dolly could explain to the rather slow-witted Springsteen, the first rule of business is--don’t tick off your customers.

Not very long ago, I was a rabid Bruce Springsteen fan. I know a large percentage of his older songs, verbatim and to the nano-beat. Most of his albums are in my collection. Some of his best song writing is almost magical in its power to inspire. I’ve seen “The Boss” in concert a couple of times, and as a performer, he truly is without peer.

A few years ago, when Bruce became vocal in trashing the Iraq war and using the troops as a political chess piece, I switched off “the Boss.” I haven’t bought his last several CDs, and I won’t. His future concerts are off my to-do list, also.

My siblings are all Bruce fans, and they seem to think I should “get past the politics.” My question is, why? Why is free speech and expression fine for Bruce Springsteen, but not acceptable from me? Why should I contribute my hard-earned dollars to support this ultra-wealthy, left-wing simpleton as he uses his public platform to undermine the morale of our fighting men and women? Our troops defend with their lives Springsteen's right to bleat his destructive drivel, and I'm supposed to buy it? Even if I don’t agree with a single lone lyric?

Um, I don't think so, Boss. I believe his words and actions are demoralizing to our nation’s fighting forces and, even worse, giving comfort to our enemy.

Last to Die” is one example of his tiresome harangue against the war. Please, spare us the recycled cliché from John Kerry’s 2004 campaign, dressed up as a lament for the troops. Most importantly, spare the troops! The vast majority of them believe in their mission. Do they need to hear this unoriginal, inaccurate, depressing garbage again? Such open concern for our troops may seem touching on the surface, until one examines the facts regarding Springsteen’s level of involvement with our military.

The facts are that Bruce Springsteen has never, not once that I can find any record of in his 35-year career, ever given a concert for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. He has never traveled to give a show in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, LRMC in Germany, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, or any U.S. military base—although he lives practically down the street from Fort Monmouth.

So how genuine is his deep-seated angst for our troops, as expressed in his mournful caterwauling on recent CDs? It’s a large helping of left-wing political agenda, nothing more. Bruce doesn’t really give a flip about our troops, and he couldn’t care less who dies last, mistake or no. He’s nothing more than a clueless, spoiled, leftist phony who is blatantly using our military and its mission to sell his new albums.

That ticks off this Soldiers’ Angel --big time.

Although I’ll never admire him as I once did, I still like Springsteen’s music. I always will. I just won’t ever pay for it again. A retired Navy veteran, a good friend, expressed my position perfectly in a recent e-mail to me:

I have a right to have opinions and I boycott those that are overtly abusive, in my mind, of the common standards that this country was founded on. They have their right to stand up and say what they want. I defended those rights for 21 years and would defend those rights again today. I just don't have to listen to them, buy their CDs, watch their shows/movies or listen to their sponsors who are paying for something that I think is wrong.

Amen to all that, Rick, and thank you again for your service to our country.

So go ahead, Boss, write those sentiments into a song, if you can--and if you dare. It’s certainly understood that you’re no hero, but do you at least have the guts to honor our veterans--for once?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Catholic in Spirit

...there are more Catholics on President Bush's speechwriting team than on any Notre Dame starting lineup in the past half-century
~ former Bush writer William McGurn (a Catholic)

Before reading this Daniel Burke/Washington Post article on NRO, I never realized how much President Bush has done to integrate the Catholic faith within his administration. Bush puts JFK, the nation's first and only Roman Catholic president, to shame.

Not too shabby for a Methodist church member who attends Episcopal services. Pope Benedict's visit to the White House during his America visit this week should prove even more interesting to observe in light of these newfound facts.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

General Update

I do believe it is worth it.

If you're hoping to find some intelligent analysis of what Gen. Petraeus had to say before Congress today, this link will help you get there. Victor Davis Hanson was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on radio this afternoon, and the transcript of their conversation provides the logic and perspective you won't find on television's evening news.

When Ted Kennedy rants that Americans "see" a different Iraq than President Bush, he's telling the literal truth. MSM won't deliver the good news from the battlefield; they showcase only unending bad news. This is why my news sources are comprised, for the most part, of talk radio and internet news outlets, in addition to my daily hometown newspaper--which has slipped blatantly to the left in recent years. Television news shows make only rare appearances on my news schedule; twice a week is about my limit.

When I listen to or read a full transcript of what was actually said in the Congressional hearings on Iraq, it is easy to pick out exactly which phrases the MSM will blare in its headlines and story leads.

As for Gen. Petraeus and his courteous demeanor, how he manages to keep his classy cool is beyond understanding. The man deserves "the bronze microphone" for composure above and beyond the call of duty while answering jackasses.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Passing the Buck

But we didn't ask for ask for George Bush’s tax cuts. We didn’t want them, and we didn’t need them.
~ Hillary Clinton, April 4, 2008

Pardon the pun, but that's rich.

According to Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush is such a screw-up that even the Clintons' enormous wealth is all his fault!

Much to Hillary and Bill's "surprise" (oh, please), they're filthy rich to the tune of $109 million since 2000.

Newsflash to the Clintons: the Federal government accepts personal checks. If you're so upset with the amount of money you're making, go ahead and donate some back to the U.S. Treasury. Earmark it for the universal health insurance you've vowed to give every American when you're president. In the meantime, just for appearances until the election, you might want to pay the healthcare premiums for your campaign workers.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Exit One of the Greats

Your eyes are full of hate, forty-one. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive. It gives him strength.

I always referred to Charlton Heston as "my favorite overactor." In truth, I think the enormity of his roles was what pushed perception of his acting over the top. Not many names in Hollywood, past or present, could successfully manage the number of imposing characters he portrayed.

What actor today could credibly portray
cultural and historical icons so diverse as Moses, Ben-Hur, Michelangelo, John the Baptist, Brigham Young, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and the voice of Abraham Lincoln, among dozens of other towering authority figures? I can't think of one. But Charlton Heston seemed to step easily into these larger-than-life characters, bringing them alive with an intensity that often electrified the screen and helped catapult a film into the realm of the classics.

Everyone who sees the chariot race in "Ben-Hur," remembers it. The same is true of Moses' parting of the Red Sea in "The Ten Commandments," and the enraged astronaut Taylor railing at the remains of the Statue of Libery at the startling conclusion of "Planet of the Apes." The decades fall away; I can tell you which theater I was in, and who I was with, the first time I saw each of those spellbinding scenes. Once viewed, they take on a vivid life of their own, making Charlton Heston's brilliant work an indelible part of America's collective memory.

A personal favorite among Heston's many films is "The Naked Jungle," which is not well known. It makes a great "date movie," having both a romantic theme and a perilous tale of man battling beasts--tiny ones, man-eating ants. If you've never seen it, I recommend adding it to your DVD list.

Heston was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement, and in later years became controversial for his support of the Second Amendment. He also opposed abortion and was unafraid to say so. His outspoken support of such varied causes suggests not only a complex man, but a courageous one.

Although famous for embodying powerful and heroic figures, Charlton Heston's private life was one of a quiet family man. He was married to his wife, Lydia, for over 60 years. Their son, Fraser Heston, played the infant Moses in the epic classic film "The Ten Commandments." The Hestons adopted their daughter, Holly, a few years later. With the money he made from "Ben-Hur," Heston built his Beverly Hills home and lived in it for the rest of his life. It was at home that Charlton Heston died April 5, with his wife at his side.

There are so few legends left to us from Hollywood's golden era. Last night, we lost one of the truly great ones. But through the magic of film, we are able to keep his greatest work alive. As Messala told Judah Ben-Hur with his dying breath, "It goes on...the race is not over."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Credit for the Conversation

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Sound familiar? It should. Most of today's campaign buzz about "hope" and "change" was more eloquently stated over forty years ago--with real actions to back up the words.

Much of the true credit for the racial "conversation" which Barack Obama purportedly “started” belongs with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With dedicated courage, and at the cost of his life, Dr. King opened wide the road that led to Obama’s current path in the national spotlight.

As Cal Thomas notes in his article, it is difficult for the young people who have no memory of the 1960s to appreciate either the enormity of King’s achievements or the level of personal commitment they demanded. Those who are often enthralled with Obama for no clear reason would do well to understand history before embracing charisma.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008