Monday, February 25, 2013

History for Today

I'm seeing a lot of columns on our U.S. president from the Roaring 20s, Calvin Coolidge recently. Undoubtedly the coverage results from the success of the newly published biography of him by Amity Shales.

I think I'd like to read Shales' best-selling book, Coolidge. He sounds like a man who had practical solutions that would apply well in our own troubled times.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Obama Code Book

Obama’s favorite phrases:          What he’s really saying:
“Work with me"                                   Do what I tell you to do

“Let me be clear”                                I’m lying to you

“We can do this”                                 I’ll get my way

“A balanced approach”                      Higher taxes all around

“The rich”                                             Anyone with a job

"Millionaires and billionaires"            Anyone earning $250,000/yr

“Pay their fair share”                          I don’t have enough of your money yet

“We’ve still got work to do”                 I’m not done shafting you

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Striking Questions

What's up with this?

Lightning struck the dome of the St. Peter's just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his plan to resign at the end of the month.

Now, I think the poor old guy should be able to step down if he doesn't feel up to the task anymore. I can't imagine working at his age, let alone in a high pressure, 24/7 job.

But then, on the other hand, he's the pope--in the Catholic faith, he's chosen by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by any human being. In that unique situation, does he get to call it quits? Or does that decision belong to a Higher Authority?

When asked why he didn't resign due to his poor health, the long-suffering Pope John Paul II reportedly answered, "Christ did not come down from the cross."

Is Pope Benedict XVI's decision right or wrong? I don't know, and I couldn't begin to speculate. But I do know that I like John Paul II's answer. And there were no reports of a thunderbolt striking the Vatican afterwards.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Quality Flight

I watched the movie Flight this weekend; Denzel Washington stars as the heroic pilot who is also a very flawed alcoholic and substance addict.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Washington is my favorite modern-day actor. I see all of his movies; it's personal policy. He never films garbage, and no matter what role he's playing, good guy or evil monster, he always nails it. In the character of Whip Whitaker, Denzel does not disappoint.

The title of the film suggests the dramatic early scenes, which depict the horrific crash landing of a commercial jet. But the deeper meaning emerges as Whitaker wrestles and runs from his interior demons. Flight has an intelligent script, revealing as the plot unfolds the personal torment, family damage, and social destruction caused by unchecked addiction. The ending is not your typical Hollywood-happy contrivance, but a realistic and satisfying conclusion to a complicated story.

There is so much fluff, gore, and nonsense in today's movies. When a thoughtful story about true-to-life characters with serious problems is so skillfully portrayed, I like to spread the word--see it.

Friday, February 08, 2013

For California Police Officers

Lord I ask for courage

Courage to face and
Conquer my own fears...

Courage to take me
Where others will not go...

I ask for strength

Strength of body to protect others
And strength of spirit to lead others...

I ask for dedication

Dedication to my job, to do it well
Dedication to my community
To keep it safe...

Give me Lord, concern
For others who trust me
And compassion for those who need me...

And please Lord

Through it all
Be at my side...

--Author Unknown

Monday, February 04, 2013

Favorite Super Bowl Commercials

I admit it. I was crying like I was four years old...

OK, this one, too...

...And oh, yes, the game was also pretty good.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Fault Lies in Ourselves

Q. "Why does anyone need a gun like that?"
A. "Well, why does anyone need a Quentin Tarantino movie?"
~ from "Violence," by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA)

A congressman from California, John Campbell, has written a thoughtful reflection titled "Violence," about the increased gun violence in American society. In reading it, I find he thinks as I do--that guns are not the problem so much as our modern culture. That as William Shakespeare put it, "the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Campbell notes that although gun control laws were nearly nonexistent sixty years ago, school shootings were unknown. He cites six aspects of our society that have grown harsh and coarse in the last several decades. Among the causes he theorizes are at the root of our nation's current violent tendencies are the decline of the family and religion, Hollywood influences, and the complete lack of personal accountability so prevalent today--especially in our so-called leaders.

Watch today's movies, listen to popular music, read the headlines. There is no denying the soul of America is darker than it once was. We can protest in the streets, pass laws, and try to control circumstances. All these external actions are easy to do, quick fixes that may make us feel better, temporarily.

But laws can't alter a cultural mindset. Positive, enduring change that will enrich and strengthen our society must come from within each individual. That's the hard part. It's nobody's fault but our own that we don't do it.