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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Comedy, Tragedy, and Time

Tragedy plus time equals comedy.
~ Steve Allen

The ability to make any rational person even smile, let alone laugh out loud, about the events of the past year takes a major writing talent. It takes someone like, say, Dave Barry, who reviews 2015 in his classic, highly hyperbolic comedic style.

So read, and weep--and laugh.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Rockefeller Center, New York City, USA
Merry Christmas! Peace to men of goodwill.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Presidents and Consequences

In the wake of the third Republican presidential debate, I stumbled upon the most straightforward and rational explanation of Donald Trump's success thus far in the campaign. It's written by Conrad Black, with a good dose of historical cause-and-effect included. Every American voter should read it.

The key paragraph, towards the end, offers a cogent summation of the deplorable current state of the nation's politics:
My view, as persevering readers know, is that it all started to go horribly wrong with Watergate, when one of the most successful administrations in the country’s history was torn apart for no remotely adequate reason and the mendacious assassins in the liberal media have been awarding themselves prizes and commendations for 40 years since.
I've never read a more logical explanation for the mess we're in.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Worst. President. Ever.

It's official. Barack Obama is the worst thing that ever happened to the United States of America. He is The. Worst. President. Ever.

Don't take my word for it. The sad facts are eloquently stated by such well-known names as Victor Davis Hanson, Bret Stephens, Mark Steyn, just to name three authors of the most cogent summations of the psychotic circus unfolding from the White House. It terrifies me to think of this failure of a president in charge of the country throughout the coming, very dangerous year.

If you really want an earful, listen to Mark Levin expound on the rolling disaster that is President Obama. I hope the country survives until the next election.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saying It Best

From around the web, links to articles that in my opinion provide the best commentary on the US position in current events:

There remains another long year with President Obama. God help us.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Dim Views

Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.

~ The Federalist No. 10

And so James Madison, in his foresight and wisdom, predicted the fatal shortcoming of our current president. Barack Obama's entrenched ideology and overwhelming arrogance will not permit him to admit he is on the wrong path to deal with radical Islamic terrorism.

Read this stunningly obtuse quote from a US president. I would not have believed that even President Obama could be this tone deaf, but I heard him say it today at a news conference in Turkey:

“What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership, or American winning or whatever other slogans they come up with, that has no relationship to what actually is going to work to protect the American people...I’m too busy for that.”

Not interested in leading, not interested in winning; he's too busy. Astonishing, and brutally insulting to our country--especially to our military. Yet he calls his political opponents "shameful" for wanting to stem the flow of undocumented refugees from the Middle East. Do you think Franklin Roosevelt would have brought in thousands of Japanese refugees following Pearl Harbor? Rhetorical question, of course. Roosevelt made sad mistakes in dealing with Japanese residents in the US, but he did have some enlightenment going for him. FDR at least was interested in being a leader, and he was very interested in winning. "Victory," he called it. Nice word, that. Too bad we never hear it from this president.

With profound hope that I'm wrong, I think that by refusing to confront or even to define our enemy and the growing threats to our nation they embody, Barack Obama is probably going to get a lot of Americans killed before his second term ends. Hopefully in the next presidential election, US citizens will elect someone who has a basic interest in reality, in leadership, and especially in victory.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Standing with Paris




New York City, USA
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
London, United Kingdom
Sydney, Australia



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Forces Unseen

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

~ Hamlet, 1:5

In this World Series, I'm routing for the New York Mets. But the Kansas City Royals are going to win. They just snatched Game 4 away in the final innings after trailing all night.

I've thought the Royals were destined for victory since Game 1, the day Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez lost his father. Royals third baseman Mike Moustaskas lost his mother in August; World Series Game 1 winning pitcher Chris Young's father died in September. And Volquez is just returning from his father's funeral in time to start Game 5, tomorrow. Which happens to be November 1--All Saints Day.

Of course, the fact is that the Royals are playing smoking hot baseball. They are outplaying the Mets. But for a bit of supernatural insurance on the foregone conclusion, you can't beat two dads and a mom cheering their sons from heaven's front row seats.

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fading Fast

Reading Victor Davis Hanson is often a relentlessly grim experience, but the scholar and historian is so knowledgeable and insightful about the times we are living in that his work is always worth reading.

Hanson's recent article, "Is the West Slip, Slip, Slipping Away" is just one standard, sobering example of his wisdom. I only wish more people were paying attention...and learning.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hard to Swallow

MEAT - Our Deadly Enemy
I remember when, according to scientists who study these things, foods like eggs or chocolate were very bad for you. Then, after years of guilt-ridden cholesterol consumption, suddenly these popular food items were blessed by new scientific findings and deemed perfectly consumable in reasonable quantities.

This lazy susan of dangerous food roulette has been spinning for at least fifty years. A certain food or drink is proclaimed evil and destructive by sage researchers--until it's not. The latest dire warning from the scientific know-it-alls is that meat--meat!--is bad for you. No, not merely bad--it's deadly! "Carcinogenic"! As bad as "smoking or asbestos"!

Holy rolling meatballs. We're all screwed. Or are we?

I grew up the eldest of four children. We all ate meat every blessed day. Horrible meat! Terribly perilous meat! Meats like cold cuts--bologna, liverwurst, or ham sandwiches in our lunch boxes. We ate hot dogs (the store brand) and hamburgers (pan-fried). My mother cooked bacon and eggs every Sunday morning. She saved the bacon grease and used it to cook other foods, like fried potato cakes, which she served when we had beef liver for dinner. Our regular delicious dinner menus included beef pot roast, flank steak, lamb neck stew, and roast pork. I suppose my brothers and sister and I should all be dead by now, instead of walking around perfectly healthy in our 50s and 60s.

My mother did all the cooking, and she ate the same things she fed us. I remember she wasn't a big snacker, but when she did indulge--usually over a cocktail--she liked to eat potato chips or processed cheese from aerosol cans on salty crackers. I also remember that she never paid attention to food warnings, as evidenced by our weekly bacon-and-egg brunch. Today Mom's ninety-five years old, in good health--and still eating meat. So all I can say to the latest scientific killjoys is, shut up and pass the salisbury steak. And don't forget the pan-drippings gravy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Uniquely Suited to Stress

Tonight I watched Gifted Hands, a 2009 film that chronicles Dr. Ben Carson's background and medical career. It's a remarkable story.

I haven't given much thought to the idea of Carson for president, but I may need to re-evaluate. As I watched this show, I couldn't help but think that the presidency is a job often described in terms of its stress, pressure, and responsibility. We often hear or read what a "difficult job" the presidency is.

You want to talk about stress? Try stopping the hearts of infant twins conjoined at the skull and having just one hour to repair the bleeding blood vessel in their brain that will kill them if you don't fix it. Now, that's a bit of pressure to put a meeting with Putin in perspective.

I recently heard a radio interview with Dr. Carson in which he was asked about the famous "3:00 AM phone call," the hypothetical crisis that wakes the president and requires a split-second decision on what immediate action to take. In his mild-mannered way, Carson chuckled softly and replied that he had "probably had more 3:00 AM phone calls" than any of the other presidential candidates. And probably every one of those nighttime calls involved an urgent question that needed an instant answer. That's a unique qualification worth considering.

Carson is startling, almost incredible, in his direct and honest responses. I don't know if he can win the presidency with such candor. But based on what he has learned, overcome, and achieved in his life, I think that if by some wild chance Carson does win, he'll do the job well.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

A National Illness

Candlelight Vigil - Oct. 1. 2015 - Roseburg, OR

"...sick in his mind, sick in his soul."

~ Pa Bailey on Mr. Potter,  It's A Wonderful Life

The article linked here sums up my feelings about the underlying cause of the Oregon massacre. "Our culture is ill," John Kass writes.

It's true. Our families and communities are no longer strong; neither are our faith and principles. The disintegration of our national value system ultimately is to blame for the violent murder
of innocent lives.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Francis in America

Pope Francis at the 9/11 Memorial
I kept my television tuned to EWTN for most of Pope Francis' visit to America, so I'm pretty much "poped-out." Overall I give the Holy Father high marks for his visit. His ministry to the very young children, the disabled and handicapped, the bereft families of 9/11, and the Philadelphia prisoners were all very moving and powerful to watch. His use of a regular commercial jet aircraft and a little Fiat to ferry him about were perfect examples of "walking the talk" from which most world leaders could take critical lessons.

Of great significance--largely ignored by Old Media--was the pope's unscheduled stop to see the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington DC. This religious order of nuns, who provide nursing care to the elderly sick, just happens to be suing the Obama Administration over the mandatory provision of birth control in the Affordable Care Act. Their case is pending at the US Supreme Court. For a pope who is known for non-judgmental stands and statements, Francis certainly seems to be choosing up sides here.

Less impressive to me was his recurring theme of climate change. Now, I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't recall Our Lord talking much about the weather. There is, however, a gospel story of Jesus zapping an unproductive fig tree into instantaneous firewood. It doesn't seem to me that Christ was an environmental purist. So the pope lost me a bit in all the politically correct climatology lectures.

I also think Francis was a bit timid on the abortion issue. There were a few mentions of protecting life "at all stages of development." But that's not going to ring bells with the fringe that believes life begins when the baby leaves the hospital. Perhaps all that baby-kissing-and-blessing Francis went out of his way to do is a subtle way of communicating the sacredness of life. I can only hope abortion rights fanatics will pause long enough to connect those precious dots.

As far as his chummy visit with the brutal leaders of Cuba goes, I don't know what the papal agenda was there. But the Cuban people sure seemed happy to see him, so I'll give Pope Francis a pass on that. After all, who am I to judge?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Science of a Good Read

It's been awhile since I've mentioned one of my favorite conservatives, Mark Steyn. But with Pope Francis about to descend upon the country with his politically correct embrace of "climate change," this seems a good time to give a shout-out to Mark's newest book, "A Disgrace to the Profession."

If you've ever enjoyed a Mark Steyn volume before, you know you can anticipate a witty, articulate, well-researched skewering of global warming/climate change/environmental ideology. Mark has no patience either for the popular talking points on this subject or, as the title clearly proclaims, for the "scientists" who have suppressed objectivity in favor of political correctness.

Pope Francis, bless him, has left-wing leanings that move him directly into the path of climate change evangelism. To stay grounded in firm if unpopular reality, I recommend an eye-opening read of "A Disgrace to the Profession."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Secrets and Lies

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.
 

~ Sir Walter Scott (Marmion, 1808)

Is there a single voter left who has been paying attention to Hillary Clinton's past six months who does not think she is full of baloney?

I mean, really. For months on end, she insisted she did nothing wrong. We heard words like "aboveboard" and "transparent." She was adamant that she had been oh-so-careful with the information. A few days ago, when it became apparent that his ugly mess just won't go away, she was sorry that the voters were too stupid to understand the situation. When that disingenuous insult was received like the proverbial lead balloon it is, finally, at last, she's sorry she make "a mistake." Maybe we're finally getting somewhere?

Look, I've held jobs with defense contractors. Even minor worker bees like myself were conditioned to understand the sensitivity of the data we were handling. I had to get a security clearance to work on government proposals. The documents were printed, copied, and handled in a secure room called a SCIF (pronounced "skiff"'), a government acronym for "Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility." No employee without a security clearance could enter the SCIF. When we used the SCIF photocopier, we were trained to run ten blank pages after each print job to erase any images that might remain in the inner workings of the machinery. This awareness of confidentiality was drilled into all employees and became second nature, a way of protecting the documents and the information we worked and were entrusted with.

But somehow, this vital and basic message eluded the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. She has put on a good show that she simply doesn't understand that, by reason of her being the nation's highest ranking diplomat, every single piece of communication in her world is, by definition, classified. If it's on the Secretary of State's computer, it's a secret. Anyone who's worked in a SCIF knows that.

Big surprise to Hillary? I don't think so. I think Mrs. Clinton is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. She knew she was violating procedure, possibly even endangering the country's national security--but she did it anyway for her own selfish political reasons. In addition to the hundreds of questions I have seen written about her "personal" email and her "private" server, I have never seen a commentator ask--why was the Secretary of State using her government computer in a "personal" and "private" manner? That's a very quick and easy way for a defense contractor worker bee to get fired.

So if the top diplomat in the country has no trouble playing fast and loose with our country's secret and sensitive information, should she become president? That's what the government seems to be asking, at last. But don't wait for the investigation to drag itself out. Ask any defense contractor worker bee with a security clearance that question, and you'll most likely hear a discouraging word for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton screwed up badly, continues to lie about it, and will eventually have to pay an uncomfortable price--possibly including a forfeit of her obsession to be president. I'm sorry if that's confusing to her.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Price of Public Service

Another cop murdered just because he is a law enforcement officer. "Because he wore a uniform."

America had better think this one through very carefully. If police officers are in danger just because of who they are, we risk losing their willingness to step into the breach to protect us. That is a frightening thought, one of which I have very recently been reminded.

Cops at work, near my home, after I called 911.

Just this past Friday evening, I was prompted to call 911. I was walking my dog in the sunny late afternoon, around 6:00 PM, as I have thousands of times before without incident. But this time, a strange man started following me. He wasn't merely following me; he was repeatedly bellowing "Satan!" at the top of his lungs.

He crossed to my side of the street and, although I had picked up my pace, he started gaining on me. Although I don't usually carry it, I had my phone with me because I was listening to a podcast. I shut the audio down but kept my earbuds in; I kept moving, and I dialed 911.

As the operator answered, I took a quick look over my shoulder so that I could give a physical description and answer her questions. "We'll send an officer in the area," she finally said. Thankfully, the nut job following me took a left turn down a different street, but I could still hear his blood-curdling shouts of "Satan!"

I stood in place at the location I had given the 911 operator and waited for the patrol car. It arrived within five minutes. I waved to the police officer, and when he pulled next to me I pointed to the street where Satan-man had turned. "Be careful," I said. "Thank you for your service." He smiled as he answered "No problem," and drove off in the direction I had indicated.

I quickly finished my walk via another street in the opposite direction, but when I got to my corner I couldn't resist going the extra half block to peek down the street and see if there was any activity. Sure enough, Satan-man was lying across the hood of the patrol car being handcuffed. I counted a total of three police officers standing around him. Satisfied that "my cop" was okay and had backup, I turned homeward, feeling much safer.

There are a couple of lessons here. The first is to always carry my cell phone when I'm out walking. The larger, more important lesson is that cops don't have the luxury of picking and choosing which calls to take or when to take them; they must respond, immediately, when a member of their community summons them. Any one of those answered calls could mean danger, injury, disability, or death to an officer. Still, despite the heavy potential price, they come for us when we call them.

We hear a lot of talk nowadays about skin color in police incidents. In my opinion, it's a stupid sidebar that avoids the perilous reality of the vital public service our police officers provide. Danger comes in all colors; so does protection from it. Sure, I'm a white woman. Guess what? The nut job following me on Friday was a white man. "My cop," as I call the police officer who initially responded to my call, was a black man. When I saw the handcuffs on screaming Satan-man, I thanked God my cop was safe.
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Human is as Human Does

In this article, Victor Davis Hanson has nailed the fatal flaw in President Obama's atrocious foreign policy decisions--human nature.

Does the president really think that people will change time-tested behaviors that have been recorded throughout history, just because he thinks they should? The danger inherent in such arrogant thinking is staggering to consider. From the Book of Genesis to Putin's most recent transgressions against nations, we see how evil human behavior can be--especially when the bad actions are not challenged.

Times change. Human nature doesn't.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Without a Soul

By now most of us have heard about the blood-chilling Planned Parenthood videos. They have had a wide audience, although you'll never hear it from mainstream media coverage.

Some of us can't bring ourselves to view the carnage. The article linked here is a rebuke to those who have chosen not to watch the horror of the Planned Parenthood videos. I'll freely admit that I'm one of those cowardly people. I just can't watch defenseless unborn babies being carved into carefully-crafted pieces, their tiny organs sold off to profit their nonchalant butchers. "Line items," I've heard that the Planned Parenthood butchers in the videos call the body parts. And now in a fifth video, the butchers tout "intact" fetuses for sale.

This is beyond sickening. It's evil. I've heard and read enough gruesome descriptions of the "baby death care" videos to know that they tell us truths we don't want to hear. Is this what we have become? Are we really now a nation not at all subject to, or even concerned about, "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," but a depraved and disintegrating society that kills, dissects, and sells its young, then casually celebrates the deal over a glass of Chardonnay?

If so, we are in far worse condition than I had feared. I thought we had merely lost our way, that perhaps with hard work and discipline we could find our way back to a righteous path. But if we continue to tolerate such wanton slaughter of innocents as these videos depict, then we as a country will have lost far more than our direction. We will have lost our soul. I'm afraid there's no coming back from that.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

More on What Matters

One Marine's View has plenty more to say on the subject of our murdered military servicemen, and he's certainly qualified and entitled to speak out on the matter.

Of special note is his "30 Shades of Disrespect" to the U.S.  military by the Obama Administration, listed towards the end. The entire piece is highly recommended reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Facing What Matters



Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith
The media does it every time. Photos of the murderous Islamist terrorist are plastered everywhere, in every news story--on television, over the Internet, in newspapers. Information about and/or pictures of the innocent, heroic victims are scarce. It's a national disgrace.

I don't want to see the face of the slaughtering coward every place I look. I don't want to read his name. You'll never see either the face or the name here. What I want to know is, who are the American heroes who were butchered by him while they were bravely serving our country? What are we going to do to prevent this atrocity from happening again? To me and to countless other Americans, these heroes are what is important. They are what matters. Not the constant, grinning visage of a maniacal butcher.

This country had better wake up soon. We are sacrificing our best and bravest on the altar of rules and regulations that no longer fit the dangerous time of war we live in; we are committing deliberate suicide through rampant political correctness.  It is questionable whether a nation that persists in such willful stupidity is worthy of survival.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ten Thoughts on Current Events

Just wondering....
  1. I notice that President Obama doesn't have much to say when a white person is murdered by a person of a different color.
  2. I think that if a Republican presidential candidate had wiped her email server clean, the media would be all over the story, 24/7.
  3. Greece is behaving like a spoiled brat whose allowance is being cut.
  4. Pope Francis should stick to the Gospel message and let the politicians address climate change/global warming/whatever.
  5. Donald Trump is ticking off a lot of people, but he seems to be saying what a lot of people are secretly thinking--and are afraid to say.
  6. "The free exercise" of religion is the real target of the LGBT movement.
  7. Even if it makes you feel better, taking down a flag won't stop psychotic murderers.
  8. The world has much bigger problems than which name to call a transgender celebrity.
  9. Call it "ISIS" or call it "ISIL"--the important thing to know is that they want us dead.
  10. ABC World News Tonight has a long segment on bad weather in the USA almost every night. Not enough going on in the world?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Defining Difference

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

~ Justice Anthony Kennedy

Those lofty words sound quite wonderful. Unless, of course, you disagree with the popular wisdom of the day. Then it becomes a question of whose "concept of existence" is politically correct.

In writing our founding document, Thomas Jefferson defined truth as "self-evident." Good luck with that definition in today's hysterical political climate. A small wedding-related business, in fact any organization whose "concept of existence" includes the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman is in for some rough going.

"At the heart of liberty" are "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Not "one's own concept of existence."


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Identity Crisis

"Who do we think we are?"

~ Chief Justice John Roberts


The Supreme Court decision on gay marriage has made it official. We are now a nation of men, not a nation of laws.

Amid all the gloating and crowing by proponents, the big picture has been lost. This ruling solves nothing; the same people who disagreed with gay marriage before the decision still do. The only difference now is that the people's right to govern themselves has been usurped by half a dozen black-robed rulers. The decision makes us a weaker country and further endangers our liberty, most specifically the right to free expression.

We've already lived this nasty aftermath for over forty years with Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion. While that issue was working its way through state-by-state processes, the Supreme Court's sweeping judgment lifted the matter out of the citizenry's hands, and the contentiousness and strife over legalized abortion still rages today. It probably always will. Thought control cannot be mandated via governmental decrees, no matter how well intended.

So the argument is not over, regardless of how the "tolerant" progressives insist that those who disagree with the validity of gay marriage just shut up and sit down. The problems with gay marriage are only beginning. Watch for increasing intolerance and censorship against churches and other groups or businesses that have a philosophical or theological difference of opinion. Never content with today's victory, the leftists demand complete agreement with their positions or label those with another viewpoint "a bigot." Then they go after them, with deliberate intent to ruin their lives and careers.

In the last century, the intolerant dominating forces were called Communists or Nazis. What would we call those forces today? As the chief justice rhetorically asks, who do we think we are? I'm not sure anymore who we Americans are. But I do know this--we are not free.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Unspecific and Untrue


“This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” —@POTUShttp://t.co/vD4Nk8bbO1 pic.twitter.com/yN8pdsO6u9
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 18, 2015

The above quote is a tweet from the White House following the Charleston, South Carolina, massacre last week. As is customary with the president's vague, sweeping generalizations, this one is not true.

France, Norway, the Czech Republic, Germany, Serbia, Russia, England, Brazil, and China will be surprised to learn that they do not count as "advanced countries." Because well within the past decade, "mass violence" certainly has happened in each of those nations.

Details, details. Never let the truth get in the way of advancing a progressive agenda. It's the reason I simply cannot listen to President Obama anymore.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Father!--To God himself we cannot give a holier name.

~ William Wordsworth

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Falling Brick Law

I'm under there, somewhere...
This week I have renamed Obamacare--hilariously named the "Affordable Health Care Act"--the Falling Brick Law. Every time I use the "plan" in any way, I get hit in the head by another unwelcome fact.

Take, for example, the "Wellness Checkup." It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Once a year, for absolutely no charge, you can see your primary care doctor for an annual preventative care exam. But you'd be well advised to read the fine print.

Go ahead, see your doctor once a year "for free." But, if you ask even one single question about a pain, symptom, or medical condition, it is no longer a "preventative" visit. Now you're talking about a diagnosis, which will run you hundreds of dollars, out of pocket, on your zillion dollar deductible. I had to sign a statement that I understood this cold-hard-cash reality before I went into my appointment.

So I asked the doctor no questions, and she charged me no fee. The government has checked the box on my 2015 annual healthcare. My aches and pains will have to wait until I have real health insurance.

As for a prescription I had refilled (no charge for typing it into the computer, to give credit where it's due), Obamacare will not fill a 90-day prescription, even as written by the doctor. Obamacare will only fill a 30-day supply, which keeps those dollars rolling in on a monthly basis. But upon inquiry at the pharmacy, I learned that if I pay cash on my own, I can have the 90-day prescription as the doctor submitted it. Of course, paying cash outside of my "insurance plan" doesn't count against my zillion dollar deductible. This appears to be just another of the intentional little "oopsies" in Obamacare to keep patients shelling out our own money for needed care.

Obamacare. It's just one big pile of--um, falling bricks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Breaking Bad Habits

The main cast of Breaking Bad
For years, unswayed by the unanimous rave reviews I heard continually, I had refused to watch the hit television show Breaking Bad. I was sure the show's premise--a terminally ill chemistry teacher decides to cook meth to provide financially for his family after his death--was a glorification of the drug culture.

After years of resistance and ceaseless prompts to "give it a try," I decided to watch the first episode about two months ago. Then I watched the second episode immediately after. And, like your basic meth addict, I was hooked.

Far from glorifying drug use, Breaking Bad depicts the terrible human cost and consequences of such harmful activities--often with spectacularly graphic brutality. The acting is solid, the characters grow and change as the seasons progress, and the plot continuously twists and turns in remarkably clever ways. It's a top notch show, worthy of the many awards it has won.

With all of the TV series I have invested myself in over the years, none has inspired the obsessiveness with which I viewed Breaking Bad. Not 24, with all Jack Bauer's save-the-world, cliffhanging activities. For all their evil villains, not House of Cards, nor Rome, nor Game of Thrones could compel me to watch multiple episodes during the week. With these other shows, all excellent and suspenseful, I was content to wait for Friday and Saturday nights. But Breaking Bad had me losing sleep on "school nights." Then, when the weekend did arrive, I viewed back-to-back episodes until I was pinwheel-eyed over my bowl of chips and glass of wine. Streaming Netflix, incredulous that someone might still be in front of my television set, would occasionally query via a pop-up window "Are you still watching Breaking Bad?" I would click viciously on the remote, "YES"--and let's please get on with Season 3, Episode 10, shall we?

To paraphrase the first step in the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step Program, I have to admit I was powerless over Breaking Bad, that my life had become unmanageable. I finished watching the Season 5 series finale last night. That's 62 episodes in two months. I thank my Higher Power that it's over.

I think I'll try Mad Men next.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Rare Defense

It was a refreshing surprise to read Bill Kristol's article in the Weekly Standard. "George W. Bush Was Right" actually defends the former President president's record, and quite effectively.

As Bush-weary as the country was by 2008, and for all his faults, it's impossible for any rational, intellectually honest person to believe that the world would be in its current sorry state if "W" were president today. I'm glad there's one journalist, at least, who is ready to make that case.

Friday, June 05, 2015

"Pottersville," USA

Victor Davis Hanson writes a brilliant comparison of the damage wrought by the Obama era with the "Pottersville" of classic movie fame.
Obama living his dream--which has turned into our nightmare.
Photo via johnmesserly.wordpress.com

The most pithy description I've heard of the Obama presidency is a quote from Mark Steyn: "If he were on the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?" Kind of sums up all the devastation in one blunt sentence, agreed? Hanson's article echoes that sentiment.

We Americans are in a very bad place right now. Perhaps worse, and far more perilous, than Pottersville.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Law and Disorder

Photo: NY Daily News, May 9, 2015
The day following Officer Brian Moore's funeral.
Crime is up in Baltimore, you say? Well, imagine that.

You can't have it both ways, people. Either cops do their jobs with community support, or they hold back from fear of negative consequences to themselves, their families, and their careers. And when cops hold back, criminals step forward. It's not rocket science; it's a predictable combination of common sense and human nature.

Occasions of police brutality are real, but these unfortunate incidents are not racially motivated. If you're resisting arrest, attacking or threatening an officer, or otherwise acting with aggression that threatens the peace, you might get roughed up while being arrested. It doesn't matter what color you are; it's the cops' job to subdue you and prevent harm to themselves and to others. No surprise there, at least to any thinking person.

In all of the strident protests, nobody ever holds a sign reading "Stay Safe--Surrender Peacefully!" So much conflict and grief could be prevented if that were the message. But arriving at that rational conclusion requires critical thinking and honesty, two characteristics in short supply these days. Emotional reaction and political agendas always seem to trump intelligent thought nowadays, a fact that makes me fear for our country's future.

When there's trouble or danger in our lives, who are we to call for help if not the police? It's a hard question that many US cities are being forced to face.

Earlier this month, NYPD officer Brian Moore, age 25, was shot and killed by a career criminal when Moore approached to question the shooter. Moore and his partner had seen the murderer adjusting a gun in his belt. There were no riots, marches, or protests over Moore's death. He was just a cop doing his job. Cops know that any shift they work could be their last. But a group of children standing on a sidewalk to salute Moore's passing hearse wore T-shirts that proclaimed "Blue Lives Matter."

It's a message that surging crime rates in besieged cities might now be willing to consider.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Low Expectations

Although it makes me ill to think of it, the US is already deeply immersed in the ramp-up to the 2016 presidential election. Victor Davis Hanson has some sobering thoughts on the international difficulties that will face our next national chief executive.

At the rate things are deteriorating at home and abroad, I hope we make it to the 2016 election intact as a country. I also hope that yet another pathological liar doesn't become the next president. But maybe I'm setting the bar too high.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

NO-bamacare

I've previously mentioned some of my beefs with "Obamacare," euphemistically called the Affordable Care Act. Since first signing up on January 1, I've learned that the federal subsidies that lower my premium to a payable amount each month are actually considered taxable income. So for 2015, I'll owe taxes on an additional $5,000 of income that I've never seen.

Only the government could call this "affordable." (Maybe they mean it's affordable for them?)

Today, more surprises were in store as I researched finding a new physician. It seems that my healthcare organization--one of the largest in California--doesn't cover my Obamacare policy. I asked if it was because I had the cheapest (excuse me, the most "affordable") version, the "Bronze" plan. The representative in the hospital's insurance registration office gave me an airy "No."

"Bronze, silver, gold, or platinum, it doesn't matter," she casually informed me. "None of our doctors participate in that plan." Well, pardon me while I go drop dead.

I suppose this is one sure way of reducing healthcare costs: make sure that no one gets insurance coverage to see a doctor. Brilliant in its simplicity, stunning in its stupidity. NO-bamacare--a prescription for American healthcare's total collapse.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Free School

If you're not reading Victor Davis Hanson on a regular basis, you're missing out on a free education about the reasons our society appears to be collapsing in on itself. Treat yourself to some knowledge and visit VDH's webpage at least once a week. I promise, you'll be surprised by how much you will learn.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Mom, c. 1945 - she was what Dad would call "a real tomato"
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning to Not Think

"If you try to shut down public debate, is this a way of ensuring that you win—or an admission that you have already lost?" - Robert Tracinski

This is interesting reading about the increasing intolerance of left-wing ideology. It's sad but true that America now has a "party line" of liberal elite dogma that must be not only strictly adhered to, but never challenged. By anyone. At any time. Under any circumstances.

Below are just a few examples of contrary points of view that are rejected out of hand:

  • Against gay marriage? You're a homophobic cretin.
  • Have doubts about climate change? You're dangerously ignorant.
  • Believe in protecting our borders? You're unquestionably a bigot.
  • Think the rioters of Ferguson and Baltimore are wrong? You're totally racist.

There was a time not so very long ago in this country when reasonable adults could differ. Debate opposing ideas. Argue their cases. Not anymore. Those in the public eye who do not follow the combined gospels of the ruling elite and left-leaning academia (and are unwise enough to say so) are shouted down, ridiculed, and bullied off speaker's platforms.

What has happened to us? The Founders admonished that thinking people of strong character were necessary for the republic to succeed. How shocked they would be to see how far our capacities for tolerance, empathy, and civility have fallen, how quickly, and with such thoughtless disregard for the consequences. Americans today are taught from an early age to follow the popular "wisdom," to be part of "the crowd," not to think independently or to make individual choices through a rational, ethical thought process. And oh, how badly it shows.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Coming of The Queen

With the 2016 presidential campaign already in full gear (Lord help us), I am thoroughly looking forward to reading The Queen, an upcoming book about Hillary Rodham Clinton and her obsessive quest for the White House. The title is a play on Machiavelli's The Prince, which tells us that five centuries don't do much to change the dark side of human nature and its corrosive drive for power.

The book will be released in June but is available for pre-order. Author Hugh Hewitt's books are always readable and packed with solid information that has been verified beyond questionability. The Introduction, linked here, is a juicy kick to read. It will drive Hillary bonkers, because it's such an authentic description of her and her motivation.

As anyone who has been paying any attention at all in the last twenty years knows, if there's one thing Hillary can't abide, it's authenticity.

I've been a Hewitt fan, follower, and listener since I stumbled upon his radio talk show in the summer of 2002. He sometimes remarks on air that his mission until the next presidential election is to keep Hillary out of the White House.

From your lips to God's ears, Hugh. Along with Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash, may The Queen hit #1 on every bestseller list and be read by every concerned voter. The "survival of the realm" may depend upon it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Writing on the Wall

Handwriting is quickly becoming a lost art. I'm saving whatever surviving letters I have received over the years. I suspect that old-fashioned "letters" will be collector's items before too long, and they will certainly be something to show and explain to the grandkids.

I notice that even 40-somethings today print in block letters when they are forced to put pen to paper. When I went to school, back in the Middle Ages, "Penmanship" was a subject that you were taught, then tested and graded on. I remember I got as high as an "A-" in penmanship. In many school systems today, cursive handwriting is not even taught to the students. 

It's rather sad that our grandchildren probably won't understand what "getting a letter" means. If you're past your twenties in age, think back through the mists of time, all the way to the quaint 1990s. Do you remember when you found a handwritten envelope addressed to you in the mailbox? Admit it--it made your day!

Those days of pen and paper, like the days of board games, hardcover novels, and telephone landlines, are mostly behind us. But I think the decline of cursive writing is a loss for us all. You can write that down.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celebrating Churchill

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

My favorite historical hero from the 20th century is Winston Churchill. April 9 was Winston Churchill Day, which may come as a surprise to many. It's the anniversary of his being granted honorary US citizenship. To celebrate this superlative leader, you can download his 8-volume biography for free from Amazon until midnight today, April 11.

My dearest hope in these troubled times is that we will soon be blessed with a similarly wise and fearless world figure who will lead us to more peaceful conditions. Judging by the current cast of characters, we'll have to wait a bit. Meanwhile, I've got my inspirational summer reading lined up.

Churchill at work, 1941



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Manufactured History


"How strange that Iraq, WMD, bombing, and preemption reappear in the news, but now without the hysteria of the Bush era."
~ Victor Davis Hanson

Every American voter should read Victor Davis Hanson's article, "The Biggest Lie."

So much is happening in today's world, much of it terrible--and most of it terribly reported by agenda-driven media outlets. It is very easy to forget basic facts of of recent history. Hanson's refresher course in truthful observation is an important and timely reminder for all who are willing to pause, reflect, and face the reality of how we got to the perilous place we are now.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Stepping Up to the Day

Irish step dancing is a workout; I know for a fact. My aunt had lessons as a girl, and she taught me the basics of the jig and the reel in my grandparents' basement when I was nine or ten. I, in turn, taught my younger sister and my daughter. Irish dance music seems to go on forever, and so do the dozens of lively, repetitive steps that accompany it. By the time you finish a full jig, you've more than compensated for the extra calories a St. Patrick's Day dinner brings.

The best part of Irish step dancing, for me, is that it's so exhilarating. It's non-stop motion, almost like flying on earth. When you're really caught up in an Irish dance, you do feel as though you can spread your wings and take off.

Maybe that's why an Irish step dancer's arms are kept still, close to the sides. Happy St. Pat's Day to all.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Electronic Waste

It says a lot about how far this country has fallen that anyone can possibly believe Hillary Clinton should still be a viable candidate for the presidency--a Secretary of State who set up a secret email server, ignoring every law, rule, and regulation on the books for managing official government communications. Not to mention ignoring national security, history, and the right of the people to know what's going on in our government.

Yet Hillary sends out a tweet, hunkers down, and hopes to weather the storm through time, as always. How can she still be taken seriously as a candidate? Are there no more standards of behavior to be respected, no laws to be honored?

It would seem not. At least, it seems that standards and laws don't carry the clout they used to--especially when a Clinton is involved. And she's still considered the "frontrunner" for 2016. How sad for all of us. No wonder the world is in flames.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Pause for Thought

Some interesting perspectives from Fr. Robert Barron after last month's Coptic Christian martyrs were slaughtered at the hands of ISIS butchers.

Using fascinating history from the time of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, Barron gives a clear explanation of why ISIS invests such fanfare and dramatic spectacle in murdering Christians. Simply put, the "Nation of the Cross" gets under their killer skin. Don't they ever stop to question why?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oscar Afterthoughts

Even though I don't go to the movies much anymore--and I definitely can't tolerate a nano-second of any other awards shows--watching "the Oscars," Hollywood's top-ranking annual self-love festival, is an enduring habit I can't seem to shake.

Although I'd only seen one of the nominated "Best Picture" films this year, I still made my picks, set up my snacks, and settled into the sofa for four hours. (Hey, once a year can't hurt, even if it is Lent.)

Predictably, as always, the show ran overtime and straight into Downton Abbey. While much of the proceedings do tend towards boring, there were a few notable moments, both shining and awkward. Here are my winners:
  1. Julianne Moore - charming and classy in her Best Actress acceptance speech.
  2. Lady Gaga - shocked me with her gorgeous singing in the Sound of Music medley. Who knew?
  3. John Travolta - could use sexual harassment prevention training. Just ask ScarJo or Idina Menzel.
  4. Chris Pine - dude, what's with the tears during Glory? David Oyelowo, yes. You? Get a grip! 
  5. Michael Keaton - good to see him just enjoying being back on the "A" list, but I wish he'd won.
  6. Sean Penn - "SOB" to the Best Picture winner? Really? Joke or no, trashy.
  7. Neil Patrick Harris - fine job as host, but did we really need to see him in his underwear?
Last night was the 50th anniversary of me watching the Oscar telecast. I think I deserve an award.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidents of Note


Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota - Four Influential Presidents
Today is "Presidents' Day," a blandly impersonal, generalized celebration of national chief executives. Prior to 1971, there were two specific presidents honored in February, on their birthdays: Lincoln on February 12 and Washington on February 22. Both dates were holidays, regardless of which day of the week they fell on. However, as three-day weekends became more important in American society than our unique history, our two greatest presidents were homogenized into the colossally boring Presidents' Day.

You could call it a redistribution of our historic wealth. We might as well have an "Avocados' Day" or a "Televisions' Day," for all the meaning the day now imparts.

In honor of this watered-down occasion, here's a link to the "Top 10 Most Influential American Presidents." I disagree somewhat with order and choice, but for the most part it's a solid list:

1.  Abraham Lincoln
     No argument. He saved and preserved the nation. Number One for sure.

2.  Franklin D. Roosevelt
     A bit too much on the socialist side for my taste, but due to the events of his tenure, there's no doubt FDR belongs on the list.

3.  George Washington
     I would put "the father of our country" a close second to Lincoln.

4.  Thomas Jefferson
     This is about the right spot for TJ.

5.  Andrew Jackson
     I don't know if Jackson should be listed instead of James Monroe or James Madison.

6.  Teddy Roosevelt
     For creating the National Parks system, TR belongs not only on this list but in heaven.

7.  Woodrow Wilson
     Presided over the implementation of the Federal Reserve and the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN. Influential? Yes. In a good way? Um, I don't think so.

8.  Harry S. Truman
     In using the atomic bomb to end WWII, HST had to make probably the most difficult decision in history. Definitely deserves a place in the Top 10.

9.  James K. Polk
     Polk should be higher on the list. No, he didn't "steal" Mexico. He bought and paid for California, Nevada, and more with $15 million and opened the American West.

10.  Dwight D. Eisenhower
      What DDE is doing on this list is beyond me. See #5.