Moral Equivalency & High Horses

Speaking before the National Prayer Breakfast this week, President Obama used the opportunity to deliver a professorial warning. Referring to ISIL/ISIS/Daesh and describing them as “a brutal, vicious death cult …,” the President condemned their “unspeakable acts of barbarism” in the name of religion. Then, he continued:  “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.national-prayer-breakfast-2015The National Prayer Breakfast (and its associated events) is an annual event that dates back to 1953. This year’s breakfast drew dignitaries from far-off places around the globe as well as many high profile Washingtonians. Overall, the event draws some 3,500 people of various religious affiliations – as well as non-religious individuals – to a ballroom at the DC-based Washington Hilton Hotel for prayer, a shared meal and the usual speechifying. Continue reading “Moral Equivalency & High Horses”

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The Lion’s Roar, A Tribute to The Greatest Briton

It is perhaps an appropriate occasion (as a follow-up to yesterday’s post) to mention the fifty-year anniversary today of the death of Winston Churchill. Voted in 2002 (thirty-seven years after his death) the Greatest Briton, Churchill topped a list that included the names of William Wilberforce, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, William Blake, William Shakespeare and a host of British monarchs.

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(The list didn’t include C. S. Lewis, I’m sorry to say, though technically his birth in Ireland might have disqualified him? Not sure.)

Born in 1874, Churchill became a bigger-than-life presence and a pivotal figure during a critical time on the world stage. He may have endured (during his lifetime) more critics than admirers and history seems to reflect he suffered many defeats and discouragements. But his legacy cannot be ignored.

Given how Hitler’s invasion forces swept through Europe like lightning in mid-1940, a number of Brits believed a negotiated peace with Germany was the preferred path. (We can reason with Hitler … set ourselves in important positions and do business with his expanding war machine. We’ll make millions!)

As Prime Minister, Churchill chose the harder road, a path he knew would lead to outright war (Churchill’s predecessor had already declared war in September of 1939) – and less certain – his choice might eventually lead to a hoped-for victory.

Considering Churchill’s stubborn refusal to surrender to Hitler, the Luftwaffe engaged an eight-month bombing campaign of strategic sites and facilities (during which London alone suffered fifty-seven consecutive nighttime raids) which was surely enough for some Brits to think peace at any cost was preferable. Continue reading “The Lion’s Roar, A Tribute to The Greatest Briton”

March For Life

An event that took place in our nation’s capitol today, the annual March for Life, attracts a huge crowd of marchers … but often fails to garner more than cursory attention from the nightly news. (Digital accounts usually offer some attention.) In the March for Life, people from around the country gather to mark the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Sanctity-of-Human-Life-MonthAbortion is an issue that tends to make people squirm … as it should. Some people consider abortion a “necessary evil” we must tolerate because of the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur; opponents of abortion maintain that unplanned pregnancies can be (and should be) addressed apart from destroying the precious, unique lives of unborn babies. Supporters of abortion uphold the procedure as an important choice – a woman’s sacred right to choose; opponents argue at least two individuals are involved in every abortion “choice” and the humanity of unborn babies is casually denied and ignored. Continue reading “March For Life”

State of Affairs

If you have yet to prepare your popcorn and drinks for the big shindig tonight, you’re burning daylight! Of course, I’m not talking about the annual State of the Union message … tonight is the premiere of the sixth – and final – season for Justified! (Now I can understand why some people might feel the SOTU would be more important but if I must be perfectly honest, I am not one of them.)

ObamaInviteI actually feel a little guilty because I’m not tuning in. I mean, take a look at that personal invitation (above). He really wants me to take part, doncha’ know? Why else would he issue this fine invitation to more than 300 million of his closest friends? Continue reading “State of Affairs”

Do Black Lives Matter?

One of the lead stories of this morning’s news was the monstrous traffic jam in Massachusetts I-93 caused by protesters, arms voluntarily inserted into sand- or concrete-filled barrels, positioned directly in the highway right-of-way reserved for vehicles. At least one report indicated the protesters wished to make a statement about “improving race relations” due to recent deaths perceived to have a racial component.

protesters2In the photo above, the white barrel includes this warning:  Caution. Moving barrel will cause injury and prevent disengagement. Of course, this message was a subtle warning for law enforcement, a means to coerce officials to take every precaution before resolving the traffic snarl … protect the protesters no matter the costs and delays.

The protester manifestos are available online, but I have no intention of providing any additional web hits they’d love to have, so I won’t link here. In a nutshell, their protests were designed to deliberately shut down the highways leading “from the predominantly white, wealthy suburbs” into Boston. Continue reading “Do Black Lives Matter?”

The Boon of Free College

8965Life just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

First, we were graced with “free” (or at least “affordable“) health care. The nuts and bolts of that plan have yet to fully fall into place, but when you file your income tax return (by April 15th, presumably), you’ll be queried (in depth) about what you’ve paid for your family’s health care.

If you file a 1040EZ, the question appears on Line 11; if you’ve got a more involved return, you won’t see questions about health care until Line 61 (on the 1040) … and then you’ll be instructed to complete a new form (8965) which includes twelve pages of instructions to guide you through the muck!

I know! I know! Taxes are impossibly boring! Isn’t that the reason we have accountants? Everyone needs a nerdy numbers guy to guide us through the maze of – what is it now? – almost 74,000 pages of federal tax law.

So let’s get to the good stuff, right? The free stuff … the good news – that really GOOD NEWS! – of being able to receive a top-notch education thanks to our government shifting those tuition costs onto itself (and partially to the states)! Continue reading “The Boon of Free College”

Race To The Top Shelf

When Barack Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008, the words post-racial America became a common utterance. Numerous broadcasts and print pieces expressed their optimism that the country – finally! – would move beyond the racist and racial attitudes that have long plagued our public (as well as private) discourse.

obamas1An August 17th Washington Post piece titled, Obama’s Vision of a Post-Racial America Looks Even More Distant Than Before, written by political reporter Chris Cillizza makes the point (following the events in Ferguson MO) that the President’s “… words have done little to heal the racial wounds in the country.” I suppose that point can be vigorously debated. Continue reading “Race To The Top Shelf”

Iron Fist of Progress

As a follow-up to my post from two days ago, I thought it would be appropriate to note here that the special election deciding whether or not to repeal the vaguely-worded nondiscrimination policy (adopted by the local city council in August) resulted in the ordinance being repealed. Speaking for myself, I’m relieved. The sweeping ramifications of this ordinance would have changed this diverse community in ways no one could accurately predict.

Demand-Progress-LogoAs one might imagine, some individuals who supported the ordinance are angry and have aired their bitter views in social media. They’re suggesting boycotts of businesses that supported repeal. They’re also anxious to bring the ordinance back again and again, whatever it takes to have it be permanently ensconced in city regulations. When I read comments written by people who supported the ordinance, I find a deep resentment toward people who voted for repeal, people who voted from heartfelt conviction but whose votes (the supporters argue) prove they’re “against progress.” Continue reading “Iron Fist of Progress”

You Can’t Have It All

Buried in my iTunes rotation is a 1986 song by the singing duo The Judds. It’s called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)” and the song became the sixth Number One hit The Judds enjoyed on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts. They earned a 1986 Grammy for the song, capturing Best Country Performance By A Duo or Group.The Judds

The song came up today in my music rotation, and although it’s not one of my favorites, I let it play. As I half-listened to the lyrics, I thought about the nostalgia we often entertain for that mythical period we refer to as the Good Ol’ Days. With this particular song from twenty-eight years ago, Grandpa hearkens back to values from an even earlier era. Continue reading “You Can’t Have It All”

Still Woman Enough

LorettaLynnThroughout the 1960s, if you listened to country music, one of the biggest voices heard was that of Loretta Lynn. Even before her first appearance on The Grand Ole Opry (in 1962), Lynn’s full-bodied vocals and down-home style proudly represented her Butcher Hollow (Holler), KY roots as no one else could do.

Fashioning a musical career from her dream and a $17 pawnshop guitar, Lynn is today a doyenne of Nashville, the First Lady of Country Music. Over fifty years on the stage, her vocal delivery and song-writing talents have built an oeuvre few artists can boast. Earlier this year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association.

In fact, it’s accurate to describe Loretta Lynn as a “quadruple hitter” in that The Coal Miner’s Daughter became a hit single (1969) for her, a hit album (1970), a top-selling book and a film (1980) starring actress Sissy Spacek in the title role. In addition, the original motion picture soundtrack (1982) achieved Gold status and has remained popular on CD and via downloads.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Lynn’s bio-pic was the critical praise the film garnered. It received seven Academy Award nominations (winning Best Actress for Spacek) as well as numerous nominations and awards from other movie organizations.

Film critic Roger Ebert offered his review of the picture, January of 1980:  “… it’s more intelligent and observant than movie biographies of singing stars used to be … a treasure to watch.” Considering how country music and regional entertainers are often spurned by establishment reviewers, Ebert issued high praise indeed.

Like many fans of country music, I admire Loretta Lynn. Her talent, her drive to create beautiful music that is rooted in the heart and originates from honest experience, her refreshing humanity ‑ this total package commands our respect and regard. Continue reading “Still Woman Enough”