Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Thought for Christmas

~ Merry Christmas to All ~

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Politically Weary

I think it's safe to surmise that most average Americans are tired of our ceaseless national political drama. I, for one, am weary unto death of it.

Has routine, day-to-day American life changed all that drastically since Election Day 2016? No, of course not. But according to innumerable commentators, broadcasters, journalists, and media figures, we as a nation are teetering on the brink of Armageddon. And it's all because of President Trump, who is alternately unfit for office, mentally unstable, or evil incarnate.

Good grief. I'm no huge fan of the man, but let's not get crazy. He hasn't killed anyone. If one views his record objectively, it's obvious that President Trump has achieved some real progress against our many problems, as noted in this Deroy Murdock article outlining the president's numerous accomplishments to date. Among them are the fact that the stock market is up and unemployment is down--but you'll never hear that from the evening newscasters.

The president is unconventional, unmanageable, blunt, sometimes childish and petty, often offensive and abrasive, and occasionally quite amusing. It's not business as usual in the White House this term, and it won't be for quite some time. "You may say I'm a dreamer," but I wish more people could see the glass half full. Since they can't--or, more accurately, they absolutely refuse to--I'll continue to skip the political drama romping across our flat screens in a continuous do-loop. The Trump naysayers have got me worn down to the marrow.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

2017 Christmas Decorations at the White House

                        Of course she's being criticized, but I think Melania Trump did a beautiful job. It appears that the Trump haters can't even hit pause long enough to take a short Christmas break.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be so miserable and mean-spirited. Fortunately, I don't feel similarly affected and can thoroughly enjoy the festive beauty the First Lady has brought to the White House at Christmas time.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Forgotten Season

Cornucopia - Steve Mordue
Fifty or sixty years ago--not even a lifetime--there was an additional holiday season during the fall. After Halloween, there would be a full month before Christmas carols trilled on the airwaves, stores decorated evergreen trees--and gift advertisements began to run incessantly. During those autumns of yesteryear, the entire month of November was devoted to the celebration of that truly American holiday, Thanksgiving.

Indian Corn Door Hanging
In art class, I remember drawing turkeys on construction paper and fashioning pilgrim hats to bring home. Department store counter-tops were decorated with autumn leaves in their glorious riot of color. Around the neighborhood, cornucopias spilled their bounty from the center of dining room table tops, and the earth tones of Indian corn wreaths graced front doorways. When I was in elementary school, we had foil window decorations--autumn leaves, a big tom turkey, a pilgrim's hat--that my mother unpacked from the closet each year on November 1. We would tape them up in our living room window, where they stayed all month. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Day used to be a season of anticipation, looking forward to delicious food and warm fellowship. Once upon a time, Christmas could wait until the week after the big fall feast.

Somewhere along the decades, Thanksgiving got shoved aside by the over-commercialization of Christmas. I associate the decline of Thanksgiving with the growing secularism of our culture. There is no longer any sense of the rightness of pausing to offer gratitude to God, as the pilgrims once did and as generations of Americans following them did until recent decades. As for the meaning of waiting for Christmas as the celebration of the Lord's birth, again there is no reason to wait. As ironic as it may be, in our modern society God's connection to Christmas hangs on by the barest of threads. Especially in this century, you can listen to Christmas music streaming all day long and you'll never hear a traditional carol or a single whisper of "the reason for the season."

So we plunge from witches, ghosts, and carved pumpkins directly into trimming Christmas trees and shopping the sales without stopping to savor the beauty and grace of the Thanksgiving season. It is our loss that we have largely forgotten this special holiday that acknowledges the bounty of our land and the beauty of our families and friends. We still eat our turkey and stuffing, but rather than being its own meaningful event, Thanksgiving dinner now seems to be a pit-stop on the way to the mall.

Today I'd give a lot to see a few autumn leaves taped onto a living room window somewhere in my neighborhood.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Day of Honor

Veterans Day ~ 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

What Wins As We Lose

Below is a small snippet, but Mark Steyn's sharp analysis of what is so seriously wrong in our culture is chillingly accurate. I highly recommend a full, close reading of Steyn's entire article, The Triumph of Amoral Will.
"A republic requires virtue, and the decline of virtue is accompanied necessarily by the decline of the concept of evil, and its substitution by exculpatory analysis of the "motives" of evil. A more useful conversation would be on what it takes to remove the most basic societal inhibition - including the instinctive revulsion that would prevent most of us from taking the lives of strangers, including in this case eighteen-month-old babies...Texas officials now believe they have their "motive" - in their words, "a domestic situation going on in this family"; in my words, "the black void at the heart of the act". It is a grim phenomenon, its accelerating proliferation is deeply disturbing, and it is not unconnected to the broader societal weakness in which Islam senses its opportunity."
~ Mark Steyn, The Triumph of Amoral Will

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

A Better Day for Houston

The Houston Astros won Game 7 of the World Series tonight, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers. No matter what the weather is like tomorrow, it will be a sunny day in the city of Houston.

George Springer celebrated with teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning. 
Credit Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Education Breakdown

DNC Chairman Tom Perez expounds on the Electoral College:

"The Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution," Perez said during a lecture at Indiana University Law School. "It doesn’t have to be there."
Unfortunately for Mr. Perez, the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, begs to differ--and in painstaking detail:
"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President."
The electoral process is further clarified in  AMENDMENT XII

It seems Tom Perez was taking a nap when this topic was covered in high school--if indeed it was ever covered during his school years. Education in basic civics is sadly lacking in our current day. But although the progressives yearn mightily that they could wish the reality away, President Donald J. Trump was duly elected according to our lawful constitutional process. In short, liberals--you lost! Deal with it.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fighting through the Ashes

Firefighers in Napa, California - Oct. 2017
There are so many heartbreaking stories resulting from the Northern California wildfires this month. One of them is the more than 40 firefighters who lost their own homes to the ravaging flames but stayed on the job, working to save their neighbors' lives and property.

Go Fund a Hero seeks to aid these dedicated public servants. Of so many worthy causes borne of these devastating fires, this certainly is one worth looking into. A sincere thank you to California's brave firefighters and all first responders. Prayers for your safety as California's fire season continues.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Forensics on a National Fall

Peggy Noonan's column, "The Culture of Death--and of Disdain" is worthy of being etched in stone. The complex reasons underlying the USA's descent into violence are starkly identified and presented with chilling, articulate accuracy.

Every American should read it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Las Vegas and Loss

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds - Psalm 147:3

There isn't much I can add to what's been said and written about Las Vegas. I've heard so much commentary and read so many words by so many writers over the past two days. There are certain ones that stand out amongst the others, for various good reasons in a time of dark madness.

Mark Steyn's "The Empty Paddock" notes how media focus on the Las Vegas massacre has drawn the world's attention away from multiple terrorist attacks across the world--even the horrific murders that have occurred in the past few days.

There is a thoughtful analysis of what I call "closed ear syndrome" from David Harsanyi in the article "When You Politicize Shootings You Make It Harder To Find Solutions."

And I found some interesting perspectives from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who is uniquely qualified to address the subject, presented in Cristiano Lima's piece, "Scalise warns against 'political agenda' in Las Vegas shooting response." Most noteworthy is Scalise's emphasis on prayer as a worthy weapon against evil.

We seem to have lost that spiritual mooring as a society. I can't help but wonder if that might be the reason why we as a country are in so much trouble today.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Downside of Diversity

In "Diversity Can Spell Trouble," Victor Davis Hanson writes a thoughtful piece on the often-negative consequences of diversity in a society. Hanson is such a well-educated scholar and historian of ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome that it's really tough to argue with his points--although people often do. In fact, VDH's website has an "Angry Reader" feature in which he publishes criticisms he has received, along with his responses.

Whenever I read articles by such learned and astute writers as Mark Steyn or Victor Davis Hanson, I'm reminded of how sorely lacking our public education system is today. It's one of the drawbacks of diversity, the disintegration of our national unity in exchange for the dominance of various ethnic or social groups.

Hanson expresses that thought eloquently, as follows:
"A diverse America requires constant reminders of e pluribus unum and the need for assimilation and integration. The idea of Americanism is an undeniably brutal bargain in which we all give up primary allegiance to our tribes in order to become fellow Americans redefined by shared ideas rather than mere appearance."
 Good luck with that in today's fractured America. How sad for us--every last diverse one of us.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"The Dog Ate My Homework" and Other Excuses

Hillary Clinton has a new book out. With the unintentionally comical title What Happened, Clinton expects a reader to sit back and drill through 512 pages of finger-pointing fury.

Sorry, Hill. Not this bookworm.

The list of reasons why Clinton thinks she lost the 2016 presidential election is breathtakingly long and exhaustive. It was because of Vladimir Putin, James Comey, President Obama. It was because of Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Steve Bannon. It was because of racism, sexism, misogyny, bad polling, suburban women. It was because of the Democratic National Committee, the Electoral College and Citizens United. Even Facebook and Netflix are called in for some accountability. Perhaps the most amusing target of Clinton's wrath is the media--not just the "right wing media," but "the mainstream media." Seriously!

By far the most insulting, belittling and condescending excuse Clinton presents is that white women were somehow mind-controlled by the men in their lives to vote for Donald Trump:
“Women will have no empathy for you because they will be under tremendous pressure — and I’m talking principally about white women — they will be under tremendous pressure from fathers, and husbands, and boyfriends and male employers, not to vote for ‘the girl,'” 
In your dreams, Loser. I'm a white woman who has been voting for president since I was in college. There is not a man in my life who ever once tried to sway my vote. Of course, all of the men in my life knew better than to make even a feeble attempt to do so. My vote is mine. And all those women who voted for Donald Trump? Their vote was theirs, too. No one walks into the voting booth with us. And women are not stupid, despite your obnoxious insinuation.

So since you're having such an existential struggle with the lamentable obtuseness of the American woman, Madam Secretary/Senator/First Lady, let me explain to you "What Happened." Americans--male and female--didn't want you to become president. People didn't trust you, didn't like you, didn't want you leading the country. You're a liar, a fake, and a criminal--a bad combination to overlook simply because it's "your turn" to be president. The country is tired of listening to your voice and couldn't tolerate the thought of another four years hearing it. So I guess you'll have to settle for 512 pages of blame and bitterness.

Neither blame nor bitterness are leadership qualities. If you read between the lines, oh superior one, you'll see plainly that's What Happened.

Monday, September 11, 2017

In Memory and Honor

This steel beam from the wreckage of the Twin Towers was on display at the San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Each climber touched the beam, read from their event badge the name of the fallen hero they were representing, and rang the bell standing next to it before beginning their climb.  (Photo by Ann I. Miller)

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The 2017 San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

This video is from the 2016 San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. I was there, and it was a moving and inspiring event. I was also proud, because my firefighter son was a climber. Firefighters from all of the San Diego region climb 110 floors in honor of the first responders who gave their lives on September 11. Matt appears at 3:27 in the video. He'll be climbing again this Saturday, and I'll be there again to cheer him on.

September 11. Never forget.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Endorsing Work

In "The Day After Labor," Mark Steyn has some interesting reflections on Labor Day (or Labour Day--"you can't spell labour without you.") Along with presenting some frightening thoughts on a present and future increasingly devoid of honest work, Mark neatly summarizes his point:
"Labor Day is an appropriate occasion on which to reflect upon the dignity of work and self-sufficiency and its indispensability to a civilized society."
Written with his usual acerbic wit, "The Day After Labor" is a good read--especially if you hold a job and work hard. To all American workers from sea to shining sea, Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Two Sides of Evil

Great piece by Marc Thiessen on the similarities of neo-Nazis and antifa. The excerpt below sums up the peril we now face:
"Neo-Nazis are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that killed 25 million people last century. Antifa members are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” killed between 85 million and 100 million people last century. Both practice violence and preach hate. They are morally indistinguishable. There is no difference between those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Hitler and Himmler and those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Stalin and Dzerzhinsky."
How quickly the free and comfortable forget the horrors of totalitarianism. We are in danger of repeating a terrible chapter of history, and we are obligated to take a firm stand to prevent it from happening again.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Look Before You Help

We all want to help our Texas neighbors. In deciding where to donate toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, I like my tried and true charities for disaster relief: Catholic Charities USA and The Salvation Army. The Red Cross is very a very worthy charity, too, but I can live without the additional emails and snail mails I know I'll get if I begin donating there, also. (That's no doubt selfish of me, but that's a tangent for another post.)

Over the years, through disasters near and far, once I had settled upon these two charities that I'm comfortable with (and resigned to receiving mail from), I've stayed with them.

If you are planning to contribute to a charity in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it's always worthwhile to remind ourselves that disasters bring out the worst in bad people. To be sure that our financial donation goes to where it should go to do the most good for the most people, a little research goes a long way. If you're new to charitable giving, be sure that the organization you choose is one you don't mind receiving endless correspondence from for many years to come. Because I promise you, they will never, ever lose your address.

However, emails, cards, and letters are a small inconvenience to bear in exchange for the huge feeling of spiritual satisfaction we will feel by doing something good to help others who are in urgent and painful need in our hard and hurting world.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Robin Hood, Where Art Thou?

 Victor Davis Hanson presents one of the most cogent takedowns of progressive hypocrisy I've yet encountered in "Silicon Valley Billionaires Are the New Robber Barons." Nothing underscores our current era's frightening lack of critical thinking skills than the following jarring observation:
 In the case of the cobalt mining that is necessary for the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, thousands of child laborers in southern Africa are worked to exhaustion.
Oh yes, little clown-car drivers. Don't be so smug about "going green." Laptop and i-Phone users, be aware. Follow the money and you'll find that the human cost of our trendy conveniences is quite considerable.

Monday, August 14, 2017

About Charlottesville

We, as a nation, are in such a very bad place right now. The horror and evil of the Charlottesville atrocity underscores the darkness that is currently obscuring our American spirit. I've read dozens of articles today, but this one by Robert Tracinski, "Notes From Charlottesville On Our State Of Emergency," is the best I've found. In comparing the "white supremacists" and the "antifas" (the new trendy term for "anti-fascist"), Tracinski notes:
The two sides are mirror images of each other, and both have an interest in making our politics devolve into street fighting. Both sides have also been priming their people to be ready to kill for the cause...
This is all true. Seriously, if someone is waving a swastika flag or a communist flag, as they were Saturday in Charlottesville, what's the difference? The only difference, as the old joke goes, is the uniforms. These are both evil, totalitarian, intolerant and violent ideologies that have absolutely nothing to do with American values. In fact, they have caused the deaths of untold numbers of Americans who fought against them. Furthermore, the USA defeated both of these failed ideologies at great cost in blood and treasure. So if you're fond of the Nazi or Soviet flags, go wave them somewhere else. No true American wants anything to do with your hatefulness. It's an insult to all those who died to protect and preserve our freedom.

Also worth reading are Hugh Hewitt's observations in "The Charlottesville driver isn't the only one who should lawyer up." Speaking from his experience as a constitutional law professor, Hewitt explains the criminal culpability of those participating in the protests. It's eye-opening, and I can only hope there are indeed many prosecutions against the instigators and perpetrators of Saturday's violence.

The United States has not been in such terrible condition since the 1960s. I hope we can get a grip soon. We can't stay too long in such a bad place without incurring permanent damage.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tolerating Reality

I rarely recommend anything published in The New York Times. Frank Bruni's "I'm A White Man. Hear Me Out." stands as a worthy exception.

Intolerance is a hot topic in today's headlines. Whether it's a Google firing over an unpopular viewpoint, violence over political differences, or being shouted down due to philosophical differences, we Americans are behaving with increasing immaturity and irrationality in the face of opposing opinions. Black, white, left, right--we are, all of us, much more than the sum of our parts. Too many of us have forgotten that fact--or worse, we have never learned it. We are, each one of us, responsible for the decisions and actions in our own lives. It is our own choice to protest, to counter-protest, to speak out on one or the other side of an issue.

Screaming into the wind accomplishes nothing except making noise. It is not the fault of the president or the police if things go badly due to our own actions. If we decide to take a principled stand, we had best be prepared to accept the consequences. Results won't always break our way. The fact that things don't turn out as we want them do does not automatically equate with hatred, oppression, or racism. Occasionally we need to accept the challenging idea that we may have been wrong.

All of us will be wrong, sometimes. Hopefully, that's how we learn. If we learn, we grow. That's a reality of life.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Better Word Needed

When I was a college English major back in the murky mists of the 20th century, I took a course titled "Advanced Expository Writing." It was a demanding class that required a weekly submission of an 800-word typewritten essay in an assigned category.

Father Bede, the veteran professor who taught this course, was an onerous taskmaster. One spelling or typographical error equaled a ten-point deduction--and 70% was a passing grade. A student learned to be very careful very quickly in preparing assignments for Advanced Expository Writing.

The professor had his own customized style sheet for corrections and comments, one that made a copy editor's marks sheet seem simplistic. This lengthy reference document was distributed to all students on the first day of class to enable us to decipher his entries on our graded papers. One of his favored mark-ups, at least in my experience, was "BWN"--better word needed. I received numerous "BWN" notations over my questionable word choices until I learned to be very cautious and think critically about the adjective/adverb I was choosing.

Today I often remember Fr. Bede's exacting requirements as I read or listen to (what passes for) news reports. There are several words that are used endlessly by the media that could use BWN corrections. Two of my pet peeves are "chaos" and "desperate," both overused by all news outlets to a nauseating and very tiring degree.

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "chaos" primarily defines the "confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms," or secondarily "the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system...." The third definition of chaos is "a state of utter confusion" or "a confused mass or mixture." This last (least emphasized) meaning has more relevance to current events, but not every day, in every situation, regarding every person or event in the current president's administration. Someone being fired, a vote failing, a change in policy, a few Tweets at dawn, are all automatically described as "chaos." This is lazy writing at best and deliberate misrepresentation at worst. "Chaos?" BWN.

As for "desperate," that word is defined as "having lost hope," "moved by despair," "involving...extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration," "suffering extreme need or anxiety," "involving extreme danger or possible disaster," or "of extreme intensity." Everything being reported from the nation's capital, it seems, is a "desperate" attempt--to get votes, to limit an investigation, to shore up support, to change the subject. It's exhausting. It's also enough to cause one to lose hope and be moved by despair. "Desperate?" Stop being so dramatic. BWN.

In my own desperate attempts to avoid the chaos of today's daily media meltdowns, I've taken to avoiding television network newscasts and all major newspapers. "Disconnected?" If a better word is needed, it might be "bored."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Story in Shadows

Facts are stubborn things...
~ John Adams

Wait a second. A Pakistani IT staffer for Democrats in Congress has been arrested for embezzlement and fraud while trying to flee the country? And not a word of it on the nightly news broadcasts?

Just imagine if you changed one word--"Democrat" to "Republican"--in that story line. I'll bet you we'd have a brand new 24/7 Russian-style frontier spring up instantly.

Since this story is actually significant, you'll have trouble finding it in today's collusion-obsessed media. But in "Flight and Fancy," I really enjoyed Mark Steyn's thorough and entertaining take on events.

Fox News covered the hard-drive-smashing, Clinton-connected news, which forced NBC to make a half-hearted attempt at coverage, albeit a day later. The media can drag its feet and ignore all it wants to, but people know where to get their news today. And it's not on the alphabet networks or in print dinosaur media. This story will unfold, one way or another. Facts are indeed stubborn things.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Diagnosing Shock

The sudden news of Senator John McCain’s brain cancer seemed to turn Washington D.C. on its head. Senators being interviewed seemed stunned, overwhelmed, overcome with emotion. It was quite the melodrama for that news cycle.

Why is it that a cancer diagnosis is always so shocking? If we hear of someone having a heart attack or being diagnosed with some other disease, such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, there are the customary concerned reactions and sad statements. People accept other such unfortunate news in subdued tones. But a cancer diagnosis always seems to shake people to their core.

I have some experience with cancer through my late husband, who died of it four days before he turned 55, and I think I know what causes the shocked reactions. It is, in a word--fear.

Because we are all human and vulnerable to this wanton killer, we fear cancer. We’re afraid of cancer because it is so capricious; it strikes at any age, even in infancy. Cancer is relentless; once it gets hold of you, even if you survive you live forever in its grip, wondering if it will return. Cancer treatments are grueling and debilitating, and you’re never sure they were sufficiently effective. And cancer is ubiquitous; it appears to be everywhere in the world, in every part of the human body, to be discovered at any given moment.

Besides my husband, I’ve lost several friends and two bosses to cancer. I worked with a man whose nine-month old son died of cancer. At the present time I am close to three people battling this scourge of humanity, in various forms and at different stages. One victim is 70 years old; the second is 56, and the third is 43. One is a man, two are women. They all have very different cancers that vary in severity, progression, and prognosis. Yet all will undergo the same mental and physical suffering, and all of their loved ones will endure the same emotional agony.

There is a time to be born and a time to die. We all know that no one gets out of life alive. But with cancer, we never know how long or torturous the road to our final destination might be. I believe that the shock of cancer is simply the fear of the unknown.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Source of Our Rights

"...endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life..." 

- The Declaration of Independence

The Charlie Gard case in Great Britain is a stark warning of the dangers inherent in government-controlled healthcare. This ill and helpless 11-month old baby boy has been handed a death sentence from the highest British court by the decision to discontinue treatment. It's in Charlie's "best interests," the court has declared.

Charlie’s parents are, understandably, quite invested in their son’s survival and continued treatment. As his parents, they should have the right to pursue that course of action. But as the British courts have affirmed, the nationalized healthcare system of Great Britain has the power to usurp parental rights and order their son’s state-mandated death. This is a chilling scenario darker than the foreboding premise of Aldous Huxley’s prescient novel, Brave New World.

This is exactly the type of situation constitutional conservatives are fearful of in an ever-expanding “Big State.” Our U.S. Declaration of Independence clearly states that human rights—the first among them, life--are bestowed upon us by God. Great Britain is not the United States, but all people, everywhere, are endowed by God with the same rights. Put biblically, what the Lord gives, the Lord takes. The Founders recognized that life is the Creator's jurisdiction and incorporated the concept into the text of our first national document. All of humanity exists under one authority.

But if humanity decides to make the rules, exactly whose authority are we under, and how do the rules shift with the changing tides of history and culture? Rights granted by human beings can also be revoked by human beings of a different mindset, in a different time. That’s terrifying.

In Great Britain's national healthcare system, the almighty state has assumed supreme authority over life and death. The parents’ rights come not from God, but from human bureaucrats. So what the government gives, the government takes away.

I don’t know if anything can be done to help poor little Charlie, but that is far from the point. The point is that he has two loving parents who are willing to try anything to save him. The point is that Charlie's parents have that right--in fact, they have that moral obligation. The point is that there are doctors outside Great Britain who are willing to help them in that effort. They, too, have that right.

The point is that God, not the government, endows us with our rights--beginning with life itself.

Monday, July 03, 2017

America the Beautiful

Still the best place on the planet. Happy birthday, USA.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Questioning American Spirit

Artist's rendition of the Battle of Gettysburg

And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

~ Mark 3:25

One hundred and fifty-four years ago today* marked the beginning of the three-day long Battle of Gettysburg, which marked a pivotal point in  the U.S. Civil War. This long and bloody conflict, the effects of which reverberate in our modern times, is also referred to as the War Between the States or, often popular in our southern states, "the War of Northern Aggression." A staggering 52,000 soldiers died fighting at Gettysburg--just one battle.

Consider the fact that the entire Vietnam War claimed 58,000 American lives, and you begin to understand the enormous carnage of The Civil War. Total war deaths over the four terrible years, 1861-1865, was far in excess of 600,000 soldiers.

It was during junior high school (now called "middle school") that I first studied The Civil War. I remember asking my father why it lasted so long. His answer was simple, clear, and direct: "The soldiers on both sides were Americans, and Americans never give up. "

I like to think that the American spirit survives today, that we have the tenacity and dedication--the "grit"--to stand together, strong and unwavering against attack. Perhaps the national reaction to September 11, 2001, represents a remnant of what used to be called "The Spirit of '76." But 9/11 was more than a decade and a half ago, and the world and our country have changed dramatically in that time period. In view of our bitter divisions and inflamed discourse today, what is the American spirit made of now? And how well would our collective and individual spirits serve us in a national crisis?

*Correction: 1863 was 154 years ago, not 104--but of course, you know that. Sorry, math was never my strong spot.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Worth Ten Thousand Words

The sad faces of CNN following the Republican victory in Georgia's special election:

("Biased? Who's biased? We're completely objective journalists!")

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Plenty to Say Worth Hearing

I've been quoting and referencing Mark Steyn almost since this blog began. He's smart, insightful, eloquent, and nobody can turn a phrase quite like he does.

Mark Steyn is funny, he's fearless, and his commentary last night on Fox News with Tucker Carlson was "spot on," as he himself might say.  He has plenty to say worth hearing about our country's current sorry state. Treat yourself and watch all of the clips. Then add Steyn Online to your reading list. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter, too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summing Up the Day

"Once again it becomes obvious that if the good are not armed, the innocent will die."

~ Dennis Prager

Thursday, June 01, 2017

It Was 50 Years Ago Today...

I've got to admit it's getting better
A little better all the time
 ~ The Beatles

Today marks fifty years since The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released. In honor of this auspicious musical occasion, I've linked "50 Things You Probably Didn't Know" about it.

Diehard Beatle fans will probably know many of these factoids, but most were news to me. The Beatles were a pop cultural force of nature that I merely tolerated as a teenager, although over time I've been properly impressed by their impact on modern music. I wrote about them ten years ago, I'm writing about them today, and if I'm still here in another decade, I'll be marking the 60th anniversary of this landmark musical achievement colloquially referred to as simply "Sgt. Pepper."

In fact, The Beatles essentially invented what we today call "classic rock." What passed for "rock 'n' roll" in the early 1960s was the repetitive sound of a tired old genre circling the drain. The Beatles, with their creative innovations and their boundless talent--many would say genius-- changed all that. In their reverberating wake, rock music rebounded in so many directions and dimensions that it's still changing today.

Rock music more than "got by with a little help" from its friends, The Beatles. Happy 50th birthday, Sgt. Pepper. You indeed taught the band to play.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dangerous Denial

 "Theresa May's statement in Downing Street is be "defiant, but what she is defying is not terrorism but reality." ~ Mark Steyn

As he has been doing for more than a decade, in "'Dangerous Woman' Meets Dangerous Man" Mark Steyn offers brutal wisdom paired with sharp wit regarding the war that radical Islamists are waging upon Western civilization. Anyone who cares about the threat we as a society face from Islamic terrorism should read Steyn's article.

World leaders' unwavering denial of what the radical Islamists are intent on achieving is nearly as frightening as the terrorist attacks themselves.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spoiling a Classic

I finished watching the Netflix show Anne with an E. I liked it enormously--at first. It's a beautiful production, very well cast and beautifully filmed. As the episodes progressed, wading deeper into what Anne would have termed "the depths of despair," this heavy-handed perversion of the delightful classic Anne of Green Gables became too much for this Anne-fan to take.

Having read the classic L.M. Montgomery book (along with its many sequels) literally dozens of times, I've got a good handle on plot lines and characters. In fact, I have them memorized. I also have enough "scope for the imagination," to use an Anne-term, to enjoy embellishments on well-established events in the story. The depictions of her abuse while residing at earlier houses and the dreaded orphanage were new but interesting departures from the book. They offered a justifiable hook for her wildly vivid imagination and love of books--she was escaping her grim realities.

I also enjoyed the fleshing out of the Marilla Cuthbert/John Blythe romance so briefly alluded to in the books. That's taking the real story and running with it, and it worked.

Where the writer lost me was in the creation of completely new experiences entirely foreign to Anne's story, the Cuthberts, and the quaint town of Avonlea. **SPOILERS AHEAD** If you plan to watch the series, stop reading now.

Gilbert Blythe left an orphan? No, in the books John Blythe lived to see his grandchildren. If the writer had to linger on a tragedy, she should have focused on Ruby Gillis, who dies of consumption in the third book. Go ahead and move her demise to an earlier age. True fans wouldn't mind that credible adjustment.

But the ludicrous additions made up of whole cloth were totally off the grid. Marilla Cuthbert attending a progressive parenting meeting? Really? Um, don't think so. Anne treated like trash by almost all of the locals? In the book, the plot is quite to the contrary. We're talking 1908 genteel, rural Canada here, not exactly 2017 Facebook bully territory.  On the subject of 2017, of course Aunt Josephine Barry now needs to be a lesbian. OK, fine, maybe that's "realistic." But even if Miss Barry had been gay, she wouldn't be casually discussing it one-on-one with Anne--not in Avonlea over 100 years ago.

Anne being snippy and jealous towards Green Gables' young hired hand? Didn't happen, and it's a mortal sin against Anne's character to say it did. Anne Shirley was always positive, upbeat, borderline joyful--never mean-spirited or petty. That's why readers have loved her for over a century.

Speaking of distorting character--Matthew Cuthbert trying to commit suicide? Gentle writer, are you out of your mind? And tossing in a romance for him is ridiculous if you understand anything at all about this unique and cherished character. He was shy, silent, gentle, salt-of-the-earth good people, fully dedicated to his home and his land. He did not survive his heart attack near the end of the first book. To have him lingering on in weakness, self-pity and depression is a gratuitous desecration of the story and an intolerable betrayal of the beloved Matthew Cuthbert. The final episode, in its complete digression from the actual story line, left me totally disgusted. (Of course, one must remember that the writer also wrote Breaking Bad. I suppose I should be grateful that the last scene didn't show Anne cooking up crack in the Green Gables kitchen in order to save the farm.)

But going back to Matthew Cuthbert trying to kill himself, that was a bridge way too far for this Anne-fan. As a young reader, I loved his character so much that I saved up the name "Matthew" for my son. You just don't mess with my Matthew. If there is a renewal, I'll be skipping Season 2.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Headlines That Weren't...

If the mainstream dinosaur media were overwhelmingly conservative instead of almost unanimously liberal, we might have seen continuous news stories underscoring the many blown-off scandals of the Obama years.

Use your imagination and apply today's newsroom hysteria to some of the disasters of the past eight years; you'll be startled at how easily the damning headlines write themselves:
  • "ISIS Rising After Obama Turns Tail and Runs, Pulling All Troops from the Mideast"
  • "IRS Persecutes the Politically Incorrect: An Assault on the First Amendment"
I could go on (for many pages), but you get the idea. Try some of your own headlines, just for fun. There are so many topics to choose from--Benghazi, executive orders, apologies for terrible America, refusal to say "radical Islamic terrorists" are just a few more.

I'm not saying I like what's going on in today's political news. I don't. But the previous president got all kinds of passes from a complicit media when he should have been called out and reported upon honestly. The country deserved better. We deserve better today, too.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five One-Minute Film Reviews

Over the past month, I've been catching up on movies. As is usually the case, there were surprises good and bad. I'll start with the most disappointing and end with the best of the batch:

1. Fences
Denzel Washington is my favorite actor; that hasn't changed. My personal policy is to see every film he makes. That has not changed, either. With the critical acclaim surrounding "Fences," and the clips I had glimpsed, I couldn't wait to watch the movie.

It was a bit of a let-down. Obviously at first a stage play, the script was so dialog-laden that I felt a vague headache stirring about fifteen minutes in. The movie was too long, the characters too long-winded, and Washington's character was less than likeable, to put it mildly. I suffered through it, but I'll never watch it again. Instead, I'll await the next Denzel Washington movie.

2. Manchester by the Sea
First of all, Casey Affleck deserved his Academy Award. His portrayal of a man broken by bad choices and life's cruelty is superb. But, come on--is being depressed for two hours really how you want to spend movie night? Add this one, also, to my list of Never See Again Movies. It was like watching an individualized version of Schindler's List (another movie I'll never see again). Too relentlessly sad to be worthy of my time.

3. Patriots Day
Things are starting to look up, movie fans. Although we all know the terrible true story of the Boston Marathon bombing, the film managed to build suspense and hold my attention throughout. Mark Wahlberg, another of my favorite actors, gives an outstanding portrayal of a Boston cop in the thick of the drama. I'd watch this one again.

4. Kong: Skull Island
A friend chose this movie from the theater marquee as her birthday treat, so I went in with absolutely no expectations beyond two hours of boredom and misery. What a pleasant surprise instead to watch a film with an original twist on a very old plot, a rocking soundtrack from the 60s and 70s, a quality cast with performances to match, and stunning special effects beyond compare. I liked how the director incorporated so many elements of the original King Kong film, giving them a modern spin. Definitely a go-see.

5. Beauty and the Beast
Disney is never junk, and this movie is one of its better offerings in recent years. The plot closely follows the animated film from the 90s, the actors (including voice-overs) do a great job, the special effects are captivating, and the "tale as old as time" holds up beautifully. I was waiting to see what the much-hyped "gay moments' would entail. As I suspected, they were only mildly suggestive and will fly over a young child's head. Now can we all just agree that "gay is good" and move on with our lives? I'm weary of having sexual orientation shoved in my face at every entertainment turn. Other than that, this is an exquisite production that will be a classic favorite for years to come.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Incoming Roar - Mark Steyn

"The Incoming Roar" by Mark Steyn is an important article, quite sobering reading because it is so bluntly accurate. I don't know what it will take for Western civilization (such as it is) to wake up to the ominous reality we are facing.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Action, At Last

The Democrats and the dinosaur media hate him with almost hysterical fury, but the man knows how to make a decision. President Trump wasted little time in sending a strong message to Syria's master butcher Assad that formerly symbolic "red lines" are now very real and are to be crossed at one's own peril.

It's not like the world is becoming any safer as the free world watches and waits in vain for the bad actors to improve. Speaking as just one American, I'm grateful. I'll take decisive action over a lofty lecture any day of the week. The strike on Syria's air fields was a game changer; any leader who may have been considering challenging Trump's presidency--or attacking the United States--now has reason to pause for long thought. Finally, a president who isn't afraid to act instead of talk.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Tuning Out

I'm entirely sick of the news of the day;
I wish it would all just go quickly away.
I'm tired of Russia, I'm weary of Putin,
Now we hear Susan Rice has been snoopin'
The media spins and twists so well, Trump is the worst of the world, so they tell--
But Assad and Kim Jong create living hell,
So how do we deal with the "woe-is-us" theme?
Nothing is ever the way it may seem.
If news that we're hearing today is all "fake"
Then hearing or watching it is a mistake. 
It's time to tune out and read a good book--
I'll watch news again when it's worth half a look.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Officer Down

The late Pc Keith Palmer of the U.K.
Every murder is terrible. Yet the murder of police officers is especially horrifying to me. As is true of the military, cops are people whose job it is to put their lives on the line for us every day. When one of them loses his or her own life while protecting us, I feel a quiet fury unlike any other emotion.

Pc (Police constable) Keith Palmer was a fifteen-year police veteran. As is usually the case in these atrocities, Palmer was also a husband and father. His end-of-watch came quite unexpectedly this morning, as he suddenly was called upon to stand in the gap between unfathomable evil and the Parliament of his country. Officer Palmer succeeded, at the cost of his life. He was a courageous man whose soul deserves more than peaceful rest. Like noble officers everywhere who die in the line of duty, Keith Palmer is entitled to fierce justice. May it arrive swiftly.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Karma Trainwreck

Oops -- wrong way!
With the ongoing, exhausting drumbeat of Russian interference in last fall's presidential election, the media and the Democrats have been relentlessly working to diminish the Trump presidency into a burden the American public no longer wants to carry. Even Richard Nixon was not nearly so beseiged as Donald J. Trump.

But as the adage goes, "Be careful what you wish for..." Fighting back in a tweet-storm, President Trump accused former President Obama of "wire tapping" him. While the initial accusation was predictably treated by the elites as the ravings of a lunatic, something very interesting does appear to be afoot. And it now involves Obama as well as Trump.

Those who believe in the law of karma believe that both the good and the bad we do in life comes back to us--sometimes with startling rapidity. We have no way of knowing where this increasingly deep rabbit hole of accusations will lead. But I'm willing to hazard a guess that it won't be in a direction the Democrat machine had hoped.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faith in Action

 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

 ~ Psalm 91

I watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge last night. Based on the life of Desmond Doss, it's a remarkable story from many perspectives, most notably the determination of one man to stand by his principles at any cost, his inspired courage under horrifying circumstances, and the power of faith in action against terrible odds. In the midst of such towering drama, there is the underpinning of a sweet and timeless love story.

Mel Gibson directs, and as might be expected from his previous war films, the battle scenes are brutal to watch. But Hacksaw Ridge is not simply Braveheart with rifles and grenades. Doss was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor; he refused to touch a rifle. This fact alone is a departure for Gibson, who has built a career playing and directing violent action heroes. Yet there is a gritty realism in the battle scenes, a frightening sense of being on the battlefield, that Gibson's previous work does not approximate. This is a riveting historical story, and the directing does not get in the way of telling it.

Hacksaw Ridge is nominated for several Academy Awards, and tonight we'll find out if it won any of them. But awards are far beside the point. What Desmond Doss accomplished in the battle for Okinawa is nothing if not miraculous. What besides divine providence could have protected a weaponless man who stayed behind alone on a dangerous battlefield that was overrun by the enemy and risked his life to rescue more than seventy wounded soldiers? It's a rhetorical question that summarizes an outstanding movie.

Monday, February 13, 2017

What's in a Name?

"I see but one rule--to be clear."

~ Stendhal

Even for our contentious political times, there is an inordinate amount of mud-slinging going on. The heights of hysteria among the anti-Trump media and left-wingers is startling in its naked ferocity. Demonstrators hurl all manner of epithets, but it's reaching a level of incoherence that's quite stunning in its stupidity. Most notable, to me, is the incessant name-calling.

On a daily, almost minute-to-minute basis, media broadcasters, political opponents, Hollywood celebrities, academics, and lefty protestors accuse Trump of being fascist, racist, sexist, or xenophobic.

That's a ton of nasty adjectives being tossed about. Do the accusers understand what the words actually mean? Using the primary definition in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, let's take a look at these favorites:
1. Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
But President Trump celebrates the individual, especially small business owners. He has already started to reduce governmental burdens upon them by decreasing regulations. As for suppressing opposition, he's largely ignoring it. I don't see the criminals from the Berkeley riots being rounded up and thrown into prison camps. The real fascists are the protestors burning cars, breaking windows, injuring people, and attacking anyone who disagrees with them. Now, there's "social regimentation" for you.
2. Racism: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
I have known very few people in my lifetime that fit this description, which is surprising considering the everyday prevalence of this slur. I don't believe the president is a "racist" in the definitive sense of the word. Today, anyone with a differing viewpoint is promptly labeled "a racist." It's become a one-size-fits-all insult, to the point that the term "racist" is now essentially meaningless. That is too bad, because it's an important concept that should be clearly understood in its ugly, evil entirety.
3. Sexism: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; esp.: discrimination against women.
You would have a hard time proving this one by President Trump's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of Education Betty DeVos, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and first female winning presidential campaign manager and now Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. Not to mention his respectful closeness with his daughter and advisor, Ivanka.
4. Xenophobia: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
If President Trump were xenophobic, he wouldn't have built worldwide business relationships with countries spanning the globe from Indonesia to Mumbai, from the Philippines to the Dominican Republic. What he does fear and hate is terrorist attacks on our country. It is a stubborn fact that the active terrorists most intensely focused on killing us are radical Islamists. Yes, he hates that. If that makes him xenophobic, I guess I am, too. So are most Americans. That's why Trump's president now.

Reasonable adults can differ without being insulting to one another. Meaningful debate requires a knowledge of the facts, emotional maturity, and solid critical thinking skills. Highly recommended, too, is a close relationship with a good dictionary.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Easy for You to Say

I suppose many of us have been following the endless explosion of news over the past few weeks. Aside from becoming weary of the media's mass hysteria and the ongoing spitting matches between "journalists" and the new president, I've heard enough bad grammar and inaccurate word usage that I'm surprised my teeth aren't ground down to stubs.

Below is my list of the "Top Ten Clangers" heard and seen in video, audio, and print:

1.  "Take a listen" 
What does this mean? How do you "take" listening? You don't! You just "Listen." If you're inviting others to join you, maybe say "Let's listen." But listening can't be taken.

2.   "Pundint"
It's "pundit," only one "n"--even many of the pundits say "pundint," proving they don't even know what they are (which is not surprising).

3.  "Waiting on"
This is increasingly used instead of "waiting for." Tables in a restaurant are "waited on." Customers in line are "waited on." If you're waiting for someone to arrive, or if you're waiting to watch a news clip, you are "waiting for" the person or thing.

4. "Old adage"
An "adage" is an old, time-honored saying that has entered general usage in the language. It is, by definition, old. When you say "old adage," you're saying "old old saying." I'm too old to waste that much time double-speaking.

5.  "Then" vs. "Than"
I see this more often now, also. "Better then," instead of "better than." It occurs in print often enough that I know it's not a typo; the writers really don't know the difference. Neither do the editors, which is more sad than amusing.

6. "Acrost"
I hear this more often than I see it, so maybe it's a verbal tick the speaker picked up in childhood due to regional pronunciations. But if you're working in media, you should know that the word is spelled and pronounced "across."

7.  "Expecially"
Yes, I often hear this from the same speakers that say "acrost." I know they mean "especially," but shouldn't they learn how to say it correctly? Especially if they are broadcasting?

8.  "Ek-cetera"
From the Latin "et," which means "and," and "cetera," meaning "the others," there is no "K" sound anywhere in this common term. The familiar abbreviation is "etc."--not "ekc."--so I do not understand the insistence on "ek" upfront.

9.  "Nuc-U-lar"
This one makes me crazy. There is only one "U" in "nuclear"! Try it this way: say "new"--good, stop! Now immediately say "clear"--New + Clear = Nuclear. Easy!

10. "It's" vs. "Its"
This is my all-time pet peeve in print. "It's" is a contraction of "it is"--it is NOT the possessive form of "it." "Its"--no apostrophe!--is its own word and is the possessive form of "it."

Friday, January 27, 2017

Keep A Sense of Humor

The other day, while listening to the car radio on the drive to work, I heard this description of President Trump's relationship with the media:

"Donald Trump is the guy with the laser pointer. The media is the cat chasing the red dot."

That one sentence sums up the situation with a dramatic visual, and it made me laugh. I wish more people would just lighten up a bit. The U.S. Constitution is solid and strong; we really don't need to worry about a new Hitler. If we survived eight years of the Community Organizer-in-Chief, we'll survive President Donald Trump, also.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Marching to a Different Tune

I wonder how much coverage of the annual pro-life March for Life will be featured in print and on the air this week? I'm certain any reporting on March for Life 2017 will be far more muted and perfunctory than the lavish coverage today's protests received.

It's fine to protest peacefully--that's the American way. It's the media's job to report the news, and that's been done with great enthusiasm today. It would be only fair and equitable if a differing point of view might receive the same respect and attention from the various media outlets. As the poet said, "Hope springs eternal..."