Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Honor of Courage

Flight 93 National Memorial ~ Pennsylvania, USA

This nation shall remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. 

~ Elmer Davis

The Wall of Names

The Tower of Voices

Sunday, September 09, 2018

News Break

One of the best things about a two-week vacation with family on the opposite side of the continent is the distance it achieves from media events. I missed a lot of "sound and fury" but am none the worse for it. In fact, I'm quite relieved to have been able to ignore most news reports and enjoy my time away.

For example, take the week-long public lamentations over Senator John McCain. I left town just after the onetime war hero, longtime senator had passed away, and I was halfway through my vacation before he was finally laid to rest. Viewed fleetingly from an iPhone, all the honors and ceremonies seemed endless. Of course there was the inevitable flap over President Trump; why he had to be involved, I don't know. Grieving family members have every right to say whatever they wish; formally invited eulogists, less so. I thought that even the slightest allusion to the senator's differences with the current president drew the spotlight away from John McCain, where it rightfully belonged, and that the bitter remarks were beneath the dignity of the senator's funeral. (Of course, as my grandchildren might say of McCain, "He started it!" by publicly barring Trump from his funeral in advance. But still...)

During my second week off, the Senate hearings for future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh took center stage--complete with histrionic theatrics. All the Democrat's dramatic efforts and interruptions failed to render their protests as entertaining as the movie Spartacus, but New Jersey's Cory Booker gave it a go. I only heard snippets, but Booker's "Spartacus moment" was memorable, if not for the reasons he had hoped.

To cap off my vacation, Barack Obama, of all people, decided to pop out of his blessedly quiet corner and vocally trash his successor, Donald Trump. I was especially glad to miss this news coverage. Do we really have to listen to him again? For eight years, untold millions of Americans suffered in silence along with me as Obama lectured, hectored, lied, divided, and condescended to us. Now he's back at it. Doesn't the country have enough on its plate? No, in Obama's mind--and in the adoring media's estimation--there's always room for more Obama.

So although I thoroughly enjoyed my long break from the news, I know I can't run away from the fact that the news is still broken. And even if I could flee, I know for sure I wouldn't be wearing a pair of Nikes.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Uncomfortable Shoes

And other shoes continue to drop in the ongoing scandal within the Catholic Church. It is now revealed that Pope Francis discontinued Pope Benedict's sanctions against Cardinal McCarrick, and also covered up for him until it was impossible to do so any longer in the face of the ugly, nauseating facts.

The "shoes of the fisherman" are apparently a bad fit for Francis. He should perhaps rethink his wardrobe entirely.

Link: Petition to Remove Cardinal Wuerl

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Of Millstones and Money Changers

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
~ John 2

In the wake of the disgusting revelations of the Pennsylvania's grand jury report on hundreds of sexual crimes against children by priests, and ensuing coverups by their superiors, I've heard and read many references to the New Testament's millstone warning. It appears in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and it quotes Jesus saying the following:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."
There it is, in black in white: hurt the children, and you're going to face fearsome punishment.

That dire admonition directly from the Lord's lips doesn't seem to bother the perverted priests or the complicit hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The details of the Pennsylvania report are sickening to read and too obscene for me to reference directly.

The millstone warning (my term for it) is all well and good, but there is another New Testament story that I believe fits the situation equally well. It appears in the second chapter of John's gospel and describes the fury of Jesus upon entering the temple and finding commerce being conducted. He actually fashioned a "whip of cords" and physically drove the money changers from the temple, overturning their tables and scattering all of their loot in the process.

That's what righteous anger looks like, and it was over selling birds and livestock in what the Lord called "my Father's house." Consider the famous question, "What would Jesus do?" with regard to the widespread rape of children (see "millstone," above) in his Father's house. This is not sin by merchants selling their wares, but depraved, deliberate evil by priests anointed to God's service, against the most innocent and vulnerable--young children. That unspeakable atrocity, repeated for many decades countless times the world over, was followed by the crime of coverup by those in authority over the criminals. What would Jesus do? I can't speak for the Lord, but somehow I doubt that a "whip of cords" would be sufficient for his response.

Jesus Drives out Money Changers
As a practicing Catholic, I am enraged. Just this month Pope Francis declared capital punishment "inadmissible." Yet Pope Francis has expressed only "shame and sorrow" (through a spokesman, no less) over the criminal obscenities reported in Pennsylvania's grand jury report. That's absolutely pathetic. I've got more than a few questions for the pope, and as a Catholic I have every right and duty to ask them.

When will child rape and sexual defilement be "inadmissible" in the ranks of the Catholic Church? When will the bishops who covered up these obscenities be exposed and held accountable? When will the offending priests and bishops be stripped of their privileges, handed over to law enforcement authorities, charged with rape, prosecuted, convicted, and thrown into prison for the remainder of their natural lives?

When will you deal with the evil that is rotting the Church from within? Until you do, your "holiness," you are a coward who is as guilty of these filthy, unspeakable crimes as the priests and bishops who committed them.

I remain a Catholic. As I explain to people who inquire, my obligation is to the Lord, not to any man or institution. Each of us someday will die and face God's judgment. I will need to answer for myself and for my sins. The pope, the bishops, all of the Church hierarchy that aided and abetted this corrupt and ubiquitous scandal*, and each and every evil priest who destroyed a child's life will need to answer for their own sins. Good luck with that.

*Link to petition to remove Cardinal Wuerl (added 8/27/18)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Train to Nowhere

Image from ALIVE East Bay Magazine
I've lived in California for several decades, but I've never adjusted to the state's profligate spending. Of course, the liberals are in the majority in the state assembly and senate, which perfectly explains the lack of common sense, but let's leave that aside for the moment. California flings money at a multitude of useless projects ranging from the highly impractical to the absolutely ridiculous.

The state's stalled "bullet train" is one financial disaster that fits both descriptions. Despite the complete waste of $77 billion on a project that is now eleven years behind schedule, Jerry "Governor Moonbeam" Brown still insists that California's bullet train is the future of transportation and environmental nirvana.

Just between us, I think he's still high from his last Linda Ronstadt concert.

Think about $77 billion dollars frittered away over the course of more than a decade by the government, with nothing to show the taxpayers for it. The "bullet train to nowhere," as it's called in polite circles, has an imaginative variety of alternate nicknames among the state's residents. I've heard it called the "crazy train," the "cuckoo choo-choo," and the "scam tram," among other monikers not suitable for this blog's editorial standards.

Consider what $77 billion dollars could do if it had been in vested in a real necessity, such as firefighting and drought mitigation. For far less than that mind-boggling sum, there could be more water treatment and desalinization plants built, more firefighting airplanes and helicopters bought, more firefighters hired, trained, and deployed to knock down the recent monster fires that California has been suffering in recent years.

I heard one conservative commentator declare that "drought is a choice." It's an interesting perspective, one that would have benefited California immensely had it been adopted by the state politicians even a few years ago. But, like it or move, California's politicians have us all traveling on the train to nowhere. If they only had a brain.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Old News is No News

Image from Politico

As our president signs legislation

To satisfy pledged obligation

The media news stations

Pursue old allegations

And leave us in newsless starvation.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Quiet Triumph

Image: Paramount Pictures
I've always maintained that a script writer never allows a pregnant woman to go unexploited for dramatic purposes, and I think I've been proven correct in every TV show or movie I've ever watched. But never have I seen a pregnant woman used so extensively--and effectively--as Emily Blunt's character in the almost unbearably suspenseful film,  A Quiet Place.

In a post-apocalyptic world, the monsters have arrived yet again. In this incarnation, they are blind but hunt by sound. The creatures are extremely ugly, seemingly indestructible, and incredibly fast when they respond to an inadvertent noise. A Quiet Place is a quiet film that will keep you riveted to the edge of your seat, right from the start.

Directed by John Krasinski, who also stars, the story follows the Abbot family: father Lee, mother Evelyn, and their children, one of whom is deaf. The fact that the entire family is able to communicate fully in sign language no doubt has aided them in their survival. But as is the case in any successful horror movie, things will go wrong for the characters you have come to care about. The tension builds ever upward to the dramatic conclusion. I had a bit of a stiff neck by the time the credits rolled, but it was well worth it.

In a sociological analysis, A Quiet Place could be said to mirror our current national atmosphere, where one wrong sound brings immediate destruction. Just ask Roseanne Barr or the former CEO of Papa John's pizza, to cite two recent examples. But in a more intimate sense, the movie is a simple story of one family's love, resilience, sacrifice, and redemption. Get your bowl of popcorn and watch--quietly.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hail to a Very Special Chief

Chief Joseph Pfeifer retired today from New York City's fire department. Pfeifer was the first FDNY chief on the scene at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. His firefighter brother, Kevin, was among those killed in the terrorist attack.

Chief Pfeifer had actually been eligible to retire a few days before 9/11 happened. In one interview, Pfeifer said he stayed on active duty so as not to end "on a sad note." His leaving the fire service marks the end of an era and, I hope and pray, the beginning of many joyful years ahead with family and friends.

Chief Pfeifer, a brave, unassuming, and enduring American hero. Godspeed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day

Image from The History Cat
The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for
one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and
of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing
its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness.  Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments
long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce
them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw
off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now
the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment
of an absolute Tyranny over these States.  To prove this, let Facts
be submitted to a candid world...
[You can read the exhaustive list of grievances against the English king 
within this link to the transcript]
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in 
General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world
 for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority 
of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That
 these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and 
Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the 
British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the 
State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that 
as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, 
conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all 
other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for 
the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection 
of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our 
Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Consequential Choices

"Elections have consequences."

~ President Barack Obama, 2010

Image from FITSNews
Oh yes, President Obama was right about that. Elections certainly do have consequences. Obama went on to crow, "I won." Well, winning tables have a way of turning.

The Supreme Court was the driving force behind untold numbers of American voters deciding in favor of Donald Trump. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in his three decades on the high court was an unpredictable and often upsetting swing vote, the appointment of the next justice assumes momentous import. As Marc Theissen wrote today, Trump voters "have just been vindicated."

Here's a link to President Donald Trump's list of 25 potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump first compiled the list as a presidential candidate in 2016, has added a few names since, and has stated that he will choose the next justice from among them. Speaking as one of 2016's innumerable "Supreme Court voters," I can say that I'm supremely content.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Had Enough

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty much done with television news. Aside from natural disasters, I find the content of all the alphabet network news programs completely unwatchable. I may watch my local news on odd nights to check weather and sports, but other than that, you can tune me out.

I don't read newspapers anymore, either. For a long time now, the internet is my primary source for news, especially the website Real Clear Politics. It's got a ton of content from all sides, plus an increasing number of video clips from various news outlets. (It has too many pop-up ads now, but that's the world we live in). I also have my favorite talk radio commentators. Both internet and radio have been favorite go-to news sources for years, but now they are my two connections to current events.

The television coverage of President Trump is too hateful, dishonest, emotional, even profane. The past week in particular has been fraught with incoherent, hysterical hand-wringing over illegal immigration. Where did the media's sudden, touching concern for "the children" come from? It came from many facts quite disconcerting to progressives, some of which are:
  1. Trump's rising approval ratings
  2. A successful summit with North Korea
  3. Plummeting unemployment statistics / Rising job numbers 
  4. An economic boom unseen for decades
  5. The contents of the IG report showing the rampant corruption in government entities prior to Trump's election.
Positive news of anything Trump must be squashed, hence the liberal caterwauling over illegal immigration. But I don't think the president is worried; the more he is attacked, the better he does his job. And he is learning fast. If I may address the mighty MSM: Did it ever occur to you that he might be jacking with you? How about that enthusiastic rally he held in Minnesota the other night?

Melania Trump
Oh, and news flash on Melania Trump: she wore that "don't care" jacket deliberately, fools. She knew you'd run off in that direction immediately, like the pack of salivating jackals you are. You are now too busy criticizing her choice of wardrobe to realize the message was meant for you. Who are the ones acting stupid now?

Continuing our conversation, Mr. & Ms. Media: there are three memes you really need to work on if you, by some random stretch of the imagination, want to get them accurate:

The president's job is to enforce the law.
On Inauguration Day, the president swears an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. You can look it up. That's what President Trump is doing on illegal immigration. Just because you have a constitutional right to speak any idiot phrase that pops into your pea-brain does not remove his responsibility. Try dealing with that fact.

It's like the days of slavery, children being separated from parents.
Was it like slavery when it happened under Barack Obama? Of course not. And by the way, the U.S. did not invent slavery. As evil as it is, it has been practiced throughout the annals of human history right up to today. Let's ask this question--how many countries besides ours have fought a long and bloody war to end slavery? Go do your research on that one, media bright lights. I'll wait...

"Nazi Germany"
You've jumped the shark with this one. I hardly know where to start, but let's begin with what a dishonor this is to the murdered millions who tried desperately to leave Germany but couldn't. So tell me, how many of the thousands breaking the law trying to enter the US have been shot, hanged, starved to death, mutilated, tortured, gassed, and incinerated? If we are so similar to Nazi Germany, if we are that cruel and monstrous, so evil and wrong, why are countless illegal immigrants rushing our borders trying to get IN? Does that question make too much sense for you to answer? Apparently so.

I know the liberals are in frantic need of the illegitimate votes such an unfettered influx of unknown aliens would bring to the United States, but please stop lying about it. The photo of the crying tot was a nice try, but it's been totally discredited. The 2016 election proved that Americans are paying close attention to our borders, and while we are sympathetic to the plight of those beating down our nation's doors, we don't want the lawlessness to continue. We know by your nonsensical "news" coverage that you're not having it. You won't accept our decision. And that's why people like me have had enough and no longer pay the slightest bit of attention to you.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father's Day

Only a Dad

After 31 years, I still miss my Dad. Always will.
By Edgar Albert Guest

Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Inaccessible Communication

Leaving aside all the global drama for a moment, I thought I'd share this link from an editing website. Apparently there are now "Accessibility Terms" to use in writing and editing to avoid offending anyone.

Descriptions are becoming quite verbose, it seems. For example, you shouldn't say "blind person." It needs to be "person with visual impairment." Rather than the succinct word "mute," now the term is "person who is unable to speak."

My favorite accessibility term is "person without disabilities." It's terribly gauche to say "normal" or "able-bodied" nowadays. So in going to great lengths to avoid defining people by their disability, the politically correct powers-that-be have seen fit to define "healthy" people as "people without disabilities." While "a person with a hearing impairment" cannot be termed "deaf," we hale and hearty folks are defined by our lack of disabilities. Makes perfect sense, yes?

Words exist for a reason--to communicate. Words like "blind" and "deaf," which relay vivid meaning and instantaneous comprehension in a one-syllable sound, are now considered unacceptable. Or perhaps I should say, "word no longer used to communicate reality due to the possibility of offending delicate sensibilities." Yes, that's better. Clear as mud.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Scandalous Double Standard

"Now, perhaps the president didn’t experience the fallout from a scandal, which is very different from never having been involved in one. For this confusion, Obama can thank the political media."
 ~ David Harsanyi

Just because the media didn't cover the Obama scandals does not mean they did not exist. In actuality, the Obama administration presided over numerous scandals, all of which were soft-pedaled by an adoring media that quickly swept them under the news rug and galloped on to the next story, hoping none of us would notice.

(Memo to Media: We did notice. That's why Trump is now president.)

The Obama scandals are quite extensive, and they impacted the country far more than President Trump's daily tweets. Trump's tweets, as ubiquitous, tasteless, and often inane as they are, still unfailingly manage to shock the waiting reporters, who spend hours analyzing each word while ignoring the positive nationwide effects of tax cuts, a robust economy, and low unemployment.

What are the Obama scandals? Below is a partial list:
  1. Fast and Furious gun-walking
  2. Solyndra subsidies
  3. IRS targeting of conservative groups
  4. Black Panthers intimidating voters at the Philadelphia polls on Election Day
  5. The VA's phony waiting lists
  6. Benghazi
  7. Spying on reporter James Rosen, among others
  8. Cartons of cash flown to a terrorist state to pay for a hostage
  9. The Clinton email server (that Obama learned about "in the papers." Sure he did.)
I could go on, but you get the idea. I'm not including "Spygate" just yet, but if true, that could be the whopper of the bunch--if it's covered by the media.

In fairness, flip the situations around. Imagine the outcry if Donald Trump had run guns to Mexico and one of our Border Patrol agents was murdered by one of those guns? What would the media reaction be if Trump gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to "stimulate" a company that ended up bankrupt? What would the outrage be if he had instructed the IRS to target, harass, and block liberal 503c organizations?

Keep going. Work your way through the list and tell me President Trump wouldn't be a pile of fried hash if he had done even one of those things. Yet Barack Obama, with his usual pompous arrogance, is allowed by the complicit media to boast that he "didn't have scandals."

Obama had more scandals than do most presidents. The only missing element in Obama's scandals is the media coverage.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

In Honor of Memorial Day

Remembering the sacrifices that ensured our lives of freedom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Clearly "Animals"

"Clarity is more important than agreement."

~ Dennis Prager

If you've never read his books or listened to Dennis Prager on the radio or in a Prager U video, you're missing one of the most learned and logical thinkers of our time.

Prager is a very agile-minded conservative; this drives left-leaning people absolutely crazy. It's exceedingly difficult for his critics to win an argument with him, because his facts are so thoroughly researched and clearly expressed. That is his golden rule--clarity. Disagreement is all well and good with Prager, so long as both parties understand why their disagreement exists.

His magnanimity regarding differing viewpoints also drives lefties crazy. So crazy, in fact, that YouTube has restricted several dozen Prager U videos. That's a typical tactic of the "tolerant" left. Opposing opinions are not welcome; you must agree with them, or die.

Today, Prager takes apart E.J. Dionne's emotional rant in the Washington Post about President Trump's "animals" comment on the MS-13 gang members. As usual, Prager presents fact upon reason in his "Why the Left Won't Call Anyone 'Animals'" piece. It's clear that there isn't much left of Dionne's case by the end of Prager's rebuttal.

Clarity. It's a rare gift.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Stephen Piscotty hits an emotional home run in his first at-bat after hi...

Moments like this are the reason I love baseball best of all sports.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Triple Thanks

I'm in that remarkably blessed demographic of women who today are able to celebrate yet another Mother's Day as a daughter, as a mother, and as a grandmother. Why this trifecta of good fortune has graced me I do not know; I only know that I'm grateful for this gift-times-three.

Happy Mother's Day to all moms, especially to my amazing mother, to my wonderful daughter, to my cherished daughter-in-law--and to me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Apples vs. Oranges

As a rule, I don't like presidential comparisons. Each president is so individual, such a product of his own experience, current events, and the political winds of the day, that comparisons seem unfair. But on the topic of unfairness, let's consider for a moment how the media might react if President Donald Trump's accomplishments had been achieved by President Barack Obama.

Below are a few random samples:

1. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell
If President Obama had appointed an openly gay man to such a high ranking government position, there would have been a rapid confirmation vote in the Senate followed by LGBT parades in the streets, all covered 24/7 by an adoring media. President Trump's gay nominee, however, was held up for months in the confirmation process, accused of being "misogynistic" in past tweets and "dismissive" of Russian meddling in our elections. Evidently gay is not so good if Trump makes the selection.
2. CIA Director, Gina Haspel
Again, if Obama had chosen the first woman to run the CIA, there would be a similarly fast confirmation accompanied by praise and adulation bordering on hysteria in the media and #MeToo land. Not only does President Trump get no credit for nominating a highly qualified woman, her confirmation is by no means certain. She is being portrayed as a sadistic proponent of waterboarding during the Iraq war, almost as though she had toted some buckets herself.
3. The Economy
Between deregulation in business, the booming stock market, and the popular tax cuts, President Trump's economy is apparently a great deal more dynamic and positive than President Obama's economy was. If you wait to hear the liberal media admit that fact, you have a lifetime hobby.
4. North Korea
President Trump has used some startling tactics in dealing with the Hermit Kingdom. Calling its leader "Rocket Man" seemed somewhat reckless at the time, but look where we find ourselves today. The leaders of North and South Korea have met, hugged, and crossed each other's borders for the first time in over seven decades; negotiations on removing nuclear weapons from the peninsula are scheduled to begin soon; and today, three US prisoners were released from North Korea and are on their way home.

If President Obama had accomplished even one of those things, the media would be actively promoting a second Nobel Peace Prize for him. But since President Trump is the architect of these successes (regardless of his methods), barely a mention is made in mainstream media without dire warnings and doleful faces. In tones of solemnity and doubtfulness, we are admonished that it's all likely to backfire.

We get it, network news anchors. Obama, apples--good; Trump, oranges--bad. The constant pounding against all things Trump gets more than a bit wearying. I wonder what the liberal media will do if President Trump not only completes his first term, but wins a second one? While I consider that very real possibility, please pass me the fruit bowl. I'd like an orange.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Hate Kills Comedy

There was so much flap and furor over the White House Correspondents' Association dinner that, having missed the whole spectacle, I decided to watch the entire "keynote" speaker on YouTube.

What a sad experience. I'm not going to mention her name or post any links or photos, because she was terrible. I watched, and in almost twenty minutes of her "address," I didn't even smile. Her remarks were crude, unintelligent, and completely unfunny. There was no thoughtfulness or structure to her jokes--if they even qualify as jokes. A joke has some surprise in the punchline. There were no surprises here, just an unrelenting drumbeat of hatred, vulgarity, and contempt.

True comedy has a light spirit to it. It amuses, entertains, startles one into laughter by illuminating a new, unexplored aspect of the subject in a smart, imaginative way. There's plenty of comedic material in the Trump presidency. Why not put a few minutes of thought and work into creating some clever and relevant jokes? Look at what's occurring in our current events--North Korea, Iran, the French president's visit to the White House, the Central American caravan, the tax cut, the stock market--not enough to work with?

Apparently, it's just so much easier (and sloppier, and lazier) to tell an abortion "joke" that has "get that baby out of there" as the "punchline." Wow. Hilarious.

It wasn't a total waste of my twenty minutes, watching this depressing exhibition of how far down into the dirt hatred will drive a person. It proved once again that you can't be mean-spirited and funny at the same time. You can't be hateful and comical. One trait is lightness, and one is darkness. This keynote speaker was definitely from the dark side.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

An Unexpected Outcome?

Michael Barone's article "Collusion, Anyone?" explores the provocative possibility of former President Obama's administration, not President Trump's, emerging the worse for wear from the ongoing FBI investigation of the 2016 election.

The FBI leaks pertaining to the Hillary Clinton campaign and its bitter aftermath are scheduled to be released quite soon. Let the games--and the surprises--begin.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Stealing from the Best

And if Moses having a temper never led him to leave some gal at the bottom of the Red Sea, well, let's face it, he doesn't have Ted's tremendous legislative legacy, does he?
 ~ Mark Steyn, August 28, 2009

"Moses didn't leave a girl at the bottom of the Red Sea."
 ~ from the movie Chappaquiddick, April 2018

If you're going to lift a line from another writer to energize your movie script, you can't find a better source than Mark Steyn.

I've been planning to see the movie Chappaquiddick, but now I look forward to the experience with renewed interest. Critical reviews are largely positive, and at last the protective patina has largely worn off the Kennedy saga. It's about time.

When Chappaquiddick happened, I was a teenager. I remember watching Ted Kennedy give his televised version of what happened, several days after the accident. (By then, everyone in the Kennedy ranks had the party line memorized, and all were on the same page.) Ted Kennedy was wearing a spanking new neck brace and reading a script. As young as I was, I recognized a coward when I saw one and a lie when I heard one. Finally, a movie is presenting an unvarnished account of the horrendous event.

And if the writers felt the need to retrofit a quote from Mark Steyn in order to craft a more effective story, so much the better.

 Senator Edward M. Kennedy leaves the Dukes County Courthouse in Edgartown, Massachusetts on July 25, 1969, after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal auto accident. Ted Dully / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Monday, April 02, 2018

Gunning for Change

If today's high school students were required to take Civics classes--which teach how our constitutional government functions--such as prior generations of school kids had to, they would be better prepared to pursue their quest for "gun control." The very term presents a stumbling block, as the definition of such a regulation is open to widely varying interpretations.

I marched against the Vietnam War until Amendment 26 was passed.
At the present moment we are mired in the understandable emotion following the horror and trauma of February's Parkland school massacre. The Florida teenagers have made great strides in keeping national attention focused on the issue of gun violence and the demand for changing the Second Amendment. Even a retired Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the need to repeal the Second Amendment.

I hate to be a wet blanket (because I was once a teenager with a cause, too), but repeal of the Second Amendment is a non-starter. According to the U.S. Constitution, that action would require passage in three-quarters of the 50 states. Can anyone come up with a viable list of 38 states willing to go along with that idea? States like Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas--really? Not in this lifetime. So what are these impassioned, energized, highly motivated high schoolers to do?

Focus on state regulations, kids. States have the power to limit and/or amend gun laws. You've already had great success in your home state of Florida. Good for you! Do what works. That's where this argument belongs, in the individual states. That's where your cause has the greatest chance to make a real difference.

That's what any smart Civics class teacher would tell you.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

An Easter Reflection

Jesus prays the night before his death.
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
~ Luke 22:44

I used to think that the New Testament description of Jesus "sweating blood" in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified was an example of literary license taken by the Scripture author(s). The writer in me believed that a bit of exaggeration would be forgivable, under the circumstances.

However, in recent years I have learned that sweating blood is a very rare, very real physiological phenomenon that occurs under conditions of enormous stress, fear, and anxiety. The medical term is "hematohidrosis," and it is sometimes seen in condemned prisoners walking to their executions. There are also reports of soldiers going into battle exhibiting this dramatic symptom.

As we anticipate tomorrow's Easter celebrations, we should pause to remember the price of our joy.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dramatizing Churchill

If you're going through hell, keep going.

~ Winston Churchill 

If I had to choose one person as the most influential and significant of the 20th century, my quick answer would be Winston Churchill. I think that without him and his steadfast courage in the face of unrelenting pressure to capitulate with Hitler, most of us would be speaking German.

Winston Churchill / Gary Oldman
So the movie Darkest Hour has been on my must-see list since its release, and I watched it over the weekend. Actor Gary Oldman certainly earned his Oscar in playing Winston Churchill. Oldman embodied the essence of the great statesman as no other performance I've seen. It was more than makeup and wardrobe, which were impressively authentic; it was the intense personality and determined urgency that he captured. I think it was also his humble acceptance of the challenges of the role that made Oldman's Churchill such a remarkable portrayal. As he quipped in one excellent interview, "If Winston Churchill could take on Hitler at 65, I can sit in a makeup chair for three and a half hours."

I'm a bit of a nut on Winston Churchill, as the quotation on my blog's masthead might suggest. It was as a sixth grader that I first became enthralled with this unique world leader. My social studies assignment was to select a famous person from history and write a paper about him or her. I can't remember why I chose Churchill. But I do remember being captivated by recordings of his speeches, which I checked out of the school library on vinyl records and played on my parents' record player. I listened to the famous "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech countless times, experiencing some degree of shivers and goosebumps each time I heard it. Had you been a Briton in that time and place, listening to that speech, you would've jumped out of your chair to run and find the nearest pick axe to wield against the Nazi invaders.

My only quarrel with Darkest Hour is that it dramatizes Winston Churchill to the realms of sub-hysteria. If you listen to Churchill's actual "Beaches" speech, you'll hear that his delivery is quite calm and measured. He is not ranting to the rafters, as Hollywood has Gary Oldman doing. But that is a small personal quibble with a masterpiece of a movie. Everyone who admires the difficult virtue of courage should see Darkest Hour. The film is, as Winston Churchill might have said, "Splendid!"

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Meeting the Challenge of Lent

We are approaching Holy Week, the home stretch of Lent.
Lent is the Christian season of anticipating the
promise of Easter with prayer, sacrifice, and good works. Lent is always a challenge to become a better person, to be more like the best person ever, Jesus Christ. Lent is noted for "giving up" something--smoking, drinking, eating ice cream, chewing gum--some treasured habit or special treat that one enjoys. But equally important is the Lenten call to step up and do more--increased charitable giving, additional prayer, more reaching out to one's neighbors.

I'm afraid I haven't had a very good run at Lent this year. I haven't given up anything. I'm not doing measurably more praying than I usually do. Thus far I haven't made any extra monetary donations to my favorite charities (although I will, I promise!). I missed the Community Penance at my parish church this week. I'm just not very energized towards any of my usual Lenten routines, except for one--spiritual reading.

About ten years ago I began the practice of reading at least one spiritual or religious-themed book during Lent. I've read more excellent books than I can count over the past decade--lives of the saints, histories of Christianity and Catholicism, anthologies of prayers and spiritual writings. I look forward to my Lenten reading so much that it can hardly be called a sacrifice. Until this year.

This year, I'm reading The Confessions by St. Augustine. At least, I'm trying to read it. Having started the book countless times since college days, only to quit in discouragement a few pages in, I decided this would be the year that I slog through to completion. Confessions often appears on lists with titles such as "the best books ever written" or "books you must read before you die" (which makes sense, since it would be quite difficult to read it after the fact). The premise of the book is simple enough. It's the introspective outpourings of the famous bishop, saint, and Doctor of the Church who frittered away his youth as a dissolute playboy. But reading the fourth century classic is a tough go. Not only does the reader have all those "Thees," "Thous" and "dosts" to deal with, Augustine's writing is quite deep, intellectually demanding, and philosophically daunting. (Maybe he's just too smart for me.)

I'm sticking with it, however, and tonight my e-reader tells me I've finished 39% of the book. That challenges me to finish 61% of The Confessions in the next sixteen days. I'll be up late tonight, and probably every night before Easter, fighting off sleep as I battle my way to the final period. When I think of it that way, I suppose that maybe I am doing something for Lent this year, after all.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Out of the Ashes


All men are created equal... then, a few become firefighters.

Photo: Redbox
I watched Only the Brave this weekend. It's the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, nineteen of whom died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013--the greatest number of firefighters killed in a single incident since September 11, 2001. It's the kind of movie that stays with you, especially since it is based on such dramatic and affecting actual events.

Barnes & Noble website
This link to Ouside Online provides a lengthy, detailed, thoroughly riveting account by Kyle Dickman of what happened to those nineteen doomed heroes, including a documentary interviewing family members and the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, Brendan "Donut" McDonough. He was pulled from the line to serve as a scout on a lookout point, but that's no comfort to a surviving firefighter. There can't be very many crosses more heavy to bear than that of losing all of your brothers to the fire and being left to soldier on alone with the memories--and the guilt of being alive. I, for one, plan to read McDonough's book, My Lost Brothers.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dark History Remembered

Finding this article was a pleasant surprise: "CNN thinks that socialism is cool. My grandparents from the USSR would disagree."

It's quite rare for a mainstream media outlet to highlight the horrors of Soviet communism. Because of its epic failure decades ago, the oppressive cruelty of communist totalitarianism has largely faded from modern memory. But my late husband's family had firsthand experience with its terrors, thankfully escaping with the clothes on their backs. Many of their close relatives were not so fortunate, being either rounded up and executed or shipped off to Siberia for long prison terms in hard labor camps. The stories around my in-laws' Sunday dinner table were not for the faint of heart.

After the Berlin wall came down and the Soviet Union disintegrated, family members came to visit my in-laws in New York. They were spellbound by our quality of life. One of Pete's visiting uncles brought a lawn chair to the neighborhood supermarket parking lot and sat for hours, just watching people steering grocery-laden carts out of the store. He was incredulous at the bounty of food and other goods so readily available to us. His fascination with our prosperity brought new meaning to the expression "land of plenty."

Today's left-leaning "cool crowd" in media, academia, and Hollywood seems to have no knowledge or understanding of the brutally cruel regime that was the Soviet Union. When dire warnings about our "authoritarian" president are sounded, I have to chuckle. How many towns has he rounded up and slaughtered, as Josef Stalin routinely did? How many people have been hauled off to labor camps in the dead of night, never to be heard from again? How many "enemies of the state" have been dragged off to prison for criticizing the U.S. president?

We are so fortunate in our country to be able to think, to write, and to speak in freedom. All of us should pause to be grateful for such a gift, and to think before we speak.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ten Thoughts on Parkland, Florida

  1. Grieving parents and students can say whatever they want to say. There are no rules.
  2. This country has a Constitution that allows gun ownership.
  3. We citizens can change the Constitution, but it's a long and complicated process.
  4. Gun control laws do exist. They need to be strengthened, expanded, and strictly enforced. 
  5. In the meantime, every school should have an armed guard on duty, all day long.
  6. The guard could be a retired military member or police officer, or a newly created and trained security position. The extra taxes are worth it.
  7. Also, arming qualified and trained teachers with guns makes sense.
  8. If there's a concern about mental health or violent tendencies, it should be reported--no matter what race, creed, or nationality is involved. Political correctness has no place here.
  9. To ensure better success of "see something, say something," there should be no penalty attached to a report that proves unfounded.
  10. Any FBI employee who had any knowledge of and authority to act upon the specific complaints called in prior to the Parkland massacre, but who did not act, should be fired. Immediately.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Winter's Dawn
Upon reaching my stage of life, one grows philosophical about the fact that time is very limited. There is a sense of gratitude for continuing good health, gainful employment, and the blessings of friends and family. A certain serenity settles in, keeping one centered in the now and welcoming of whatever days remain. At least, that has been my own comfortable path into maturity.

Then suddenly, I've learned that a long-ago friend has died and I've been plunged into a roiling sea of emotional memories. Events and occasions that haven’t crossed my mind in years, perhaps decades, have come crashing in powerful waves as I remember happy times long past.

Steve Kasold was a college classmate. During our senior year, Steve and Pete carpooled for a semester of student teaching, and our school friendship took firm root. Pete and I were already married; Steve was dating his future wife, Lorraine. Our social get-togethers began in my tiny, off-campus apartment in rural Pennsylvania. The year after graduation, Pete and I danced at Steve and Lorraine’s wedding. We visited each other’s homes often in New York, where we had all returned after college to begin our fledgling adult lives.

A few years later, Pete and I moved to California, and Steve and Lorraine moved to various states throughout the years. We kept in touch through letters, cards, (Steve wrote me a beautiful note after Pete died), and a couple of rare reunions on the East or West coast. Over the decades, the recollections of our good times together shifted quietly to the background of my mind; but they were not forgotten. My current tsunami of memories are as clear and vivid as though they had happened yesterday instead of more than forty years ago.

I'm remembering afternoons and evenings of cold beer and warm conversation, limitless laughter and shared jokes, thoughtful discussions and teasing banter. I recall support and encouragement, kindness and generosity, helpfulness and concern—all the stuff of true friendship, those precious qualities that endure beyond and outside of time.

Like the early winds of winter, the season of goodbyes has enfolded me with cold reality. None of us knows the future; I may be the next in our circle to follow Steve. But if I’m blessed with a long life, I know I will need to withstand more chilling gusts of sorrow as cherished friends pass on. I trust that, as Steve did, they will leave behind the bright glow of joyful memories, those warm remembrances that will help to melt even the most bitter snows of sadness.

Monday, February 05, 2018

A Story in Stone

My lands are where my dead lie buried. 

~ Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota chief

Let's take a break, shall we, from the frantic, partisan hyperventilation of Washington DC politicians and their media minions. There's so much else to see, do, enjoy, and experience in our country. Take, for example, Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

I was there once, as a young woman, and it made an impression upon me as deep and permanent as the rock carvings that have now revealed the great chief's face in the mountainside. The sculpture is a monumental undertaking, begun in 1948 and continuing today until who knows when.

In 1977, there wasn't too much to see.
Nearly eighty years ago, Chief Henry Standing Bear, of Crazy Horse's Oglala Lakota tribe, commissioned Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too," Standing Bear informed Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore. Although the federal government offered grant money, Standing Bear chose not to accept any funds from the U.S.A. To this day, the memorial is non-profit and receives no state or federal funding.

Of course, this wouldn't be modern day America without controversy. Although the project was started at the specific request of an Oglala Lakota chief, ironically enough many Native American organizations today vigorously oppose the memorial, claiming it is a "pollution" upon the land. To me, these protests fall into the category of "no good deed goes unpunished."

I can remember the chills I felt from head to toe as I looked at the gleaming white model, then  beyond to the rough-hewn edges of the massive rocky peak towering above. The crews were working on that long-ago day, and the muffled thunder of explosions echoed down the mountainside. I thought of Michelangelo, who could look at a chunk of marble and visualize the figure within, awaiting the artist's hand to set it free. I also remember hoping that I would live to see the memorial finished, in all its majestic power.

If and when it is completed, Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest sculpture in the world. It will take decades more to finish; I won't live to see it completed. Even so, I would like to see it one more time. I want to stand again, encircled by the pure splendor of the Black Hills, in the shadow of the mountain that honors a great Native American leader as his image bursts proudly through the rock.

By 2017, Crazy Horse's face had emerged from the mountain.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"12 Strong" ~ The Story of The Horse Soldiers

From "12 Strong" ~ now playing in theatres
There's a movie out as of yesterday, "12 Strong," that depicts the story of the horse soldiers in Afghanistan following September 11, 2001. I wrote a post about these heroes in December 2011, and I'm definitely planning to see the film.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does,
I love being ahead of the wave. Thank you to all our military service men and women, past and present.

Statue honoring the Horse Soldiers - NYC