the daily musings ... of faith and culture, of life and love, of fun and games, of a song and dance man, who is keeping his day job.
Friday, August 28, 2009
In our last episode, Doctor-In-Da-House Howard Dean mentioned something about a reluctance to take on trial lawyers, in the pursuit of health care reform. We all know what a nuisance the system has become. That’s why they’re called “nuisance lawsuits,” right? That’s why tort reform is in everybody’s interests, right? Except if you’re a lawyer, but who gives a rat’s patootie about them, right? So we weren’t sure we heard the good Doctor right the first time. That’s why we need a straight-up guy like Charles Krauthammer to back Dean-o up on the facts.
Forty-one years ago this week, The Beatles released one of their last singles, “Hey Jude” to the world. This past 30th of April, the world responded, as 13,500 people sang it together in London's Trafalgar Square. The folks who arranged mass dance-in at Liverpool Street Station, led the huddled masses to believe that they would be dancing. Obviously there was a change of plans. And so it goes for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. .
[UPDATE: New video added, with a lame excuse for avoiding tort reform. It seems they cannot afford to upset trial lawyers. Really.]
Last night, Congressman James Moran (D-VA) had a town meeting for health care reform. I wouldn't care much, except that he's my congressman, even though I'd just as soon he wasn't. Nevertheless, I had a chance to go with a buddy of mine, but it would have meant leaving work early, going to the outskirts of town, and waiting in line to end up not getting in. There were also rumors that illegals were going to be paid $250 to carry signs supporting the reform. I wouldn't put it past that bunch of left-wing yahoos, after some of the stunts they've pulled lately.
Jim Geraghty of the National Review provided continual tweets from his BlackBerry, which was the next best thing to being there, if you don't count watching it on C-SPAN. (The first two messages were sent from a desktop or laptop.) The doors opened at 6, and the whole shindig lasted from 7 to 9. And so, without permission or shame, here's what Jim recorded as having gone down, as of about 10pm last night:
50. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., says her constituents tell her they prefer telephone town halls. http://tinyurl.com/nx3278 about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck
49. Boy, Obama officials love that "keep the government out of my Medicare" anecdote. Ha ha ha, let's all laugh at that confused old person. about 6 hours ago from TweetDeck
48. Temperatures in the 90s, long lines and buzzing flies: formula for a happy crowd at tonight's Howard Dean/Jim Moran forum. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
47. Heard on line at town hall: "What if there's another shorter line on the other side of the building?" about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
46. Crowd turning ugly as rumors of a secret, shorter, second line persist. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
45. If anybody's care is gonna get cut, I say we start with the guys who bring personal loudspeakers to town hall lines. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
44. Overheard on line: an insistence that any effort on tort reform will lead to doctors amputating the wrong limb without consequence. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
43. Now the debate is whether the VA is terrible or whether it is a role model. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
42. See that, folks? The LaRouchies have the Obama-Hitler posters, not the Republicans. The LaRouchies, the LaRouchies! about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
41. Moran's folks will be checking IDs to make sure you're a constituent. Hey, can we try that on Election Day, too? about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
40. Well, I'll say this for the LaRouchies: they don't give off that well-heeled Brooks Brothers phony vibe. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
39. Brilliant: Guy behind me citing Scientology in argument with LaRouchie. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
38. @leonwolf Oh, rest assured, I'm wearing Brooks Brothers to the town hall in silent protest. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
37. Overheard insight on town hall line: "Whatever the situation is now, it's not good, and it has to be made better." about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
36. Our first shouted "that's so much bu******!" between guy walking to back of line and guy on line. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
35. No injuries to Gadsden flag bearer yet. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
34. The Marleyians are here. I understand they have questions about medical marijuana. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
33. My favorite sign so far: "Death panels create jobs for America." about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
32. In the basketball arena, the crowd offers dueling chants, yet the problem with the bill has very little to do with volume. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
31. I feel like I've got the cheap seats for a basketball game between "HEALTH CARE" and "FREEDOM!" about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
30. New favorite sign: "Don't kill Betty White." Can't we unify around anything in this country? about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
29. [Judas] H. [Priest], people, don't heckle the Rabbi. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
28. I'm told the doors are closed. Arena holds 2500, Moran estimated 500 more standing... about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
27. Moran: "We spent four hours listening to an explanation of the bill's technical language." Crowd: "AWWWWW!" Wow. Mass sarcasm. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
26. Can we get a three second rule for heckling? I want succinct expressions of skepticism. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
25. Now Moran's in trouble with the lefties for talking no coverage of costs less than 2.5 percent of your income... about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
24. What? I'm stuck listening to Moran go on about doughnut holes while mkhammer gets to cover a fight outside? about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
23. We're forty-five minutes in, and special guest Howard Dean has yet to speak a word. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
22. Moran declares that the idea that government bureaucrats will determine coverage is "nonsense." about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
21. Moran blurs "end of life counseling" with panel that would review which medical procedures are cost-effective. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
20. Moran insists end-of-life counseling is "completely optional." Yes, but under the bill, doctors get paid for one option, and not for other. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
19. @TeresaKopec So you trust those infamous tonsil profiteers to not nudge their patients towards end-of-counseling? about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
18. Moran: "There is no rationing of care under this bill." Boy, good thing we don't have a shortage of primary care physicians. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
17. Moran pretty much does the, "you're not paying for abortions, you're paying for a private plan that may pay for abortions" tap dance. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
16. One hour in, and Howard Dean still hasn't spoken. I'm too far away to see if he looks bored. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
15. Is it just me, or has Howard Dean lost a lot of weight? He looks almost lanky, and I thought he was stocky... about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
14. Randall Terry is now disrupting. Awaiting the taser. about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
13. Moran offers Terry the first question. Weak, Congressman. You're knuckling under to a heckler. Crowd chants, "kick him out!" about 2 hours ago from TwitterBerry
12. "IN-CO-HER-ENT SHOUTING NOW! IN-CO-HER-ENT SHOUTING NOW!" about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
11. First Q: My brother had a great experience in France's system. Why are Americans afraid of such a wonderful thing? about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
10. Moran says co-ops are not an acceptable compromise; "it's no substitute for a public option." about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
9. Someone is impersonating questioner "Chris Appleton"! First sign of Moran's temper in his response. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
8. Moran: "85 percent of people will experience no change under the legislation." Crowd, recalling the earlier "overhaul" talk, is skeptical. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
7. Some folks have had all of the health care townhall excitement they can handle, and are heading to the doors... about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
6. Q: Medicare is run by experts; it's 39b in the red. Dean asks who wants to get rid of it. Moran says medicare is "not actually" in the red. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
5. Q: Where's tort reform? Dean: The more you put in the bill, the more enemies you make. That's lame enough to get even me jeering. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
4. Dean says adding tort reform wouldn't add a single vote of support to the bill. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
3. Moran: "If the bill included tort reform, it would have had to go through the Judiciary Committee." Crowd, in mock sympathy: "AWWWWW!" about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
2. Ah, finally, the questioner who wants to give Moran, Dean, and the whole Democratic Party a stategy [sic] lesson. This is our time well spent. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry
1. And it winds down... Good night, folks. about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry .
...was a schoolteacher, secretary, and political campaign worker, who was killed one night forty years ago, in an automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island at Martha's Vineyard. The driver, a prominent United States senator, claimed to have made several attempts to save her, but did not report the accident until the next morning, when the car and the body were found. The senator pleaded guilty to "leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury." He received a two month suspended sentence. The Kopechne family has never commented publicly on the incident.
The senator went on to a distinguished career in politics, but for a failed attempt at nomination to run for the Presidency. He died early this morning, after a long battle with cancer. The woman who was never able to live as full or as long a life as he, and whose family received little if any justice, can finally rest in peace.
[POSTSCRIPT: At least one person of my acquaintance is saddened by today's news. In Washington, you meet all kinds of people, and those who are public figures cannot always be judged by their public legacy -- at least not up close. Some knew a man of uncommon generosity, both to his friends, and to those under whose careers he was a mentor. I was reminded of the latter by one from whom I heard today, a political operative who was helpful in my own career many years ago. I hadn't spoken to my old colleague in over ten years, and all of a sudden, there he was... My convictions remain as they are, yet I am reminded again, that only God knows, what only God knows.] .
I would like to take a moment to thank all the little people, upon whom I trampled while climbing my way to the top, to get this Award. I look forward to meeting each and every one of them, on my way back down.
(Look for this near the end of the sidebar in the coming year.) .
Because it's coming up in December, and that's when I qualify for some serious senior discounts, like the one at IHOP. Back in 2004, when I turned 50, I already became eligible for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons. Now, they don't like to be called that anymore. They just want to be known as "AARP." As the Nation's largest non-profit, and one of the Hill's most formidable lobbyists, I suppose they can be known as anything they want.
They also want to be known as withholding endorsement of the health-reform plan, the one currently being touted by this Administration. They've got an advertisement on television to get the point across.
You suppose it's the point they intended? What does this say about their real intentions? I really don't know. You tell me. Let's take a look. .
In January of 2008, over two hundred “undercover agents” went on a mission in New York City’s Grand Central Station. That mission was to freeze in place at the exact same moment. This was the handiwork of the same folks who brought us some other shenanigans witnessed here, for the benefit of our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. .
The above is a generous passage, but there's so much more; about how the President can learn from humility, as well as from history, specifically that of his predecessors.
They need to learn that at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, not just the 1600 block. When you insult people's intelligence in large numbers -- and you know who you are, Barney -- they will not react very well. They will not kiss your @$$ and say pretty please while you bus in a bunch of union goons in matching tee-shirts for moral support. They will not stop ranting long enough for you to take a cell phone call. They will not be polite. They don't owe it to you. They voted you in, you big dummy, and they can vote your @$$ out!
Come next year, unless they're as stupid as you think they are, they just might. .
A recent edition of ABC News covered the Holy See's announcement of an "apostolic visitation" for religious orders in the USA. They had the good sense to send a nun, rather than a priest or bishop, to represent them.
There are serious issues of quality of life, and the fulfillment of their missions. Orders which essentially built the health care industry in America -- don't kid yourself otherwise -- and the parochial school system for the faithful, are losing their numbers in droves. This writer has heard first-hand eyewitness accounts, of retired sisters barely living above poverty level, some virtually homeless, because there are few younger members to support them, as was done in the past. On the other hand, orders which follow a traditional charism, wear a discernible religious habit, and engage in apostolates long associated with women religious, are thriving. A new high school in my diocese is staffed by one of those orders, a development unheard of in this day and age.* Why the hell wouldn't someone want to see what's up?
Personally, I just love watching some of these sisters get nervous about being "bullied" by the Vatican. One of them is even quoted as losing sleep over it. I'll just bet they all slept like babies when Sister Mary Lewis was beating the crap out of us in the first grade, scaring some kids to the point of wetting their pants. Maybe the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati should take time out from their Tree-Hugging-Mother-Earth-Goddess worship, to learn a lesson about "sauce for the goose," quit supporting positions that violate Church teaching outright, and get with the program -- while any of them are still left.
This week’s edition of our One Minute Theatre took more time to find than usual. You would like to think that truly creative people can find something other than shock value, to elicit a response from the viewer. But there are some interesting sequences in the work of Rory Leydier, which manage to avoid that problem. He uses pastel on paper and shoots with 16mm film, mixed with short segments of super 8mm documenting the process.
Longtime readers of mwbh know that we have addressed the issue of provocative dress by young women at inopportune venues, and that we have referred to them as "skanks." It would surely have been clear that the term specifically applied to the manner of dress, and was not an attempt to assign the charge of sexual promiscuity. Nevertheless...
Creative Minority Report may be one of the best things to happen to the Catholic blogosphere in recent years. The brainchild of two brothers, Matthew and Patrick Archbold, joined by an architect identified only as "D Mac," CMR broke significant ground when bloggers with no prior credentials in the Catholic media, not only published a weblog, but did it (and continue to do it) well enough to gain a sizable audience. Having won "Best New Catholic Blog" in the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards, they press on with continual reports on news and features, and excellent writing -- be it on the issues of our time, or the "slice of life" variety -- with a distinctively Catholic perspective. They are not the first to do this, but they are among the few to do it consistently well. Their Creative Minority Reader is a unique supplemental page aimed at highlighting promising writers in the blogosphere -- and when it's a slow news day, yours truly.
The mainstream Catholic press still doesn't give them their due, continuing to limit their focus to authors already established in print, usually by their own publishers. But Catholics with an internet connection know who the staff of CMR are, are tuned into them -- or at least they should be. Alas, such work of distinction may not be enough for Matthew Archbold lately, as he addressed the aspersions cast upon writers who are be dismissed merely as "bloggers":
His concern is understandable. In fact, it's consistent with what we here at mwbh have been saying for years. I'll give you an example.
Take a guy who writes something really great, something every Catholic with a pulse should read at some point their lifetime, and posts it on his weblog. One of the "big guys" gets wind of it, and provides a link, accompanied by some clever witticism that took all of ten seconds to conjure up. Whose comment box gets filled? Not the guy who wrote the piece, but the internet gadfly who linked to it. His stats take another spike, and he makes one more appeal for the "tin cup" that is his Paypal account. You can bet your boots that the guy responsible for the attention won't see a dime of it.
Some of us may remember a guy who, four years ago, started a blog with a very clever title, that was poorly laid out, and that took forever to load as the artwork was ill-prepared. He did more linking and image uploading than any serious writing. He got two million visitors in three years. Then one day he discovered that fidelity to Church teaching wasn't the weekend picnic he thought it would be, and let that difficulty be known. Within a couple of months, he was gone from the blogrolls, and then from the blogosphere altogether.
So much for all the accolades, all the buzz. He learned his lesson. Fine. Did anyone else???
Good writing is hard. Good writing actually takes time. Good writing requires the ability to assemble coherent thoughts into a line of thought, thus posing something worth pondering for a larger audience. That audience must be adept at more than clever slogans that fit neatly into 140-character-or-less "tweets." People who can do this can have weblogs and be called a "writer" because they actually... er, uh, WRITE. The guy who does little other than get a lion's share of attention from linking everybody else, is not a writer; he is a "blogger."
So there, Matthew, now you know the difference. You also know one more reason why your mother told you that "life isn't fair." Keep writing anyway. The world needs to hear from you and your cohorts. They just don't know it yet. .
The month of August is always “down time” everywhere in the States that I've ever lived. Everyone seems to leave town for most of the month. (We could use a few altar servers at my parish through Labor Day. Any takers?) I used to take off about this time of year, but not so much in recent years. And of course, this summer I'm in school, so you can just forget it.
The phrase "Dog Days" refers to the hottest days of summer. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile's flooding so they used the star as a "watchdog" for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all time.
Speaking of school, I just finished my midterm presentation. My grade for the midterm is a B minus. Now all I have to do is actually finish the project. This whole PHP programming thing uses the side of the brain that doesn't always get a workout. So that's a big challenge now. The last class I need to graduate is offered in the spring, and the interim will be spent completing my portfolio.
I don't get out in the sun much. Even though my townhouse community has a pool, I'm getting through a fourth summer without ever using it. "Sal" and I do use the tennis courts, though. She's crazy-go-nuts about badminton, and when she can't get to a game, she stays in practice by using me as a target, as well as some degree of personal amusement. Obviously we don't keep score.
I've got at least three drafts waiting for mwbh. Now that the midterm rush is complete... .
Much has been made about the late President Reagan as "The Great Communicator," as political and social conservatives across America honor his memory, and long for a return to the resurgence of their ideals which he heralded. Amidst the victory of a very different Presidency, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, notes the similarities in the two presidencies amidst the differences -- and one difference in particular.
While very pointed in its indictment, this piece refuses to cast aspersions on the current President -- a fresh breeze of civility amidst depictions of political shouting matches. It also betrays the long term contrast between two political philosophies. Which way will America choose to preserve herself? .
Hey, kids, those school bells are gonna start ringing any day now, if they haven’t already, and we here at mwbh know that not all of you are homeschooling, so it’s time to get skooled! David Choi and the Far East Movement team up for some handy back-to-school tips. Near the end of this video, you find out why it’s suspiciously tasteful, yet oh so clever. But who cares? Check it out for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
Unfortunately, we've made a cult of celebrity out of anyone who can muster enough attention, less for who or what they are, than for who they know. In the past week, Comedian and celebrity chaser Kathy Griffin appeared at a television awards event, and her escort was Levi Johnston. You may remember him, the former fiancé of Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin. Griffin is twice his age. What do you imagine they talk about?
Right, no one cares, my point exactly. But it's news, you see.
[I spoke to “Fender Splendor” himself late today, and he is exhausted, but in good spirits. The hardest working man in air business just released the following on Twitter. -- DLA]
paul alexander is the 6th best air guitarist in these united states. thanks everyone for showing up and screaming their faces off. awesome meeting everyone! love my air guitar fam! see you next year!
[A piece on this phenomenon appeared on NBC's Today, and can be accessed here. Paul was awarded a cash prize for claiming the regional title in Philadelphia. The national champion goes on to Finland for the world title.] .
Steven Wright is one of the funniest guys I know. He possesses a deadpan cerebral view of the world around him. “I’m living on a one-way, dead end street. I don’t know how I ever got there.” It’s a matter worth pondering for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. [CONTENT ADVISORY: Single instance of mature subject matter.] .
When I heard that Twitter went down today, I thought they were only kidding. I signed up to TweetDeck just this week, and aside from that notice, would never have known the difference. Probably because I work for a living.
But I did learn something interesting about this emerging new medium. John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), the sixth President of the USA (1825-29), may have been the first Twitterer -- or Tweeter, or Twit, or whatever the h@#$ they're called. His collection of short, less-than-140-character journal entries have been found by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Recently, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI declared the "year of the priest," beginning on the feast of the Sacred Heart (the 19th of June this year), and ending on the same observance in 2010 (the 11th of June). Much will be written about the meaning of the Catholic priesthood in the weeks and months to come, some of it here.
“People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.” -- from the 2005 film V for Vendetta
I attended Catholic grade school throughout the 1960s. I saw a lot of changes just during those eight years. But during the early ones, we were consistently taught about the evils of Communism, and of how our Faith and the Marxist philosophy were incompatible. We listened as the good nuns told us of priests tortured and killed in socialist regimes. But they also told us of how children would be taught in schools, to report their parents to the authorities if they found them engaging in questionable activities. Snitching on your mom and dad, the two people who gave you birth, who nursed you and fed you and cleaned up your messes and all that. Can you imagine?
It all seemed pretty outlandish to me, and remained the stuff of half-forgotten memories -- and as I came of age, the stuff of futuristic novels.
Let me see if I understand this correctly. If you publish a newsletter or a political blog, that begs to disagree with the current administration about health care policy, they want me as a dutiful private citizen to rat you out!
Readers of mwbh know full well of our distaste for the daytime television program entitled "The View," in which a panel of women, some of whom -- you'll notice I didn't say "all" -- have little to offer society at large beyond fodder for the tabloids, simulate a kaffee klatch for the benefit of bored housewives and other culturally depraved creatures across America. But today's episode stretched its own boundaries (which isn't saying much, but bear with us, please), and featured a guest who appears to have cracked open a book in her lifetime, which is helpful in advance of writing one.
Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnist and Filipina-American Jersey Girl, has been on the talk show circuit promoting her new book, the title of which saves us the trouble of an explanation, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. As the first clip shows, she has already left Matt Lauer of NBC's Today at somewhat of a loss, and has also appeared on ABC's Sunday morning talking-head-fest This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Today posed the ultimate challenge. See for yourself in the second clip.
“Our entire daily lives cannot be occupied with purely religious practices; all of us have to eat, and most of us have and want to do many other activities besides. So though we cannot always be religious in this sense, we can always be Catholic, that is, the round of our daily activities can be conducted in such a way as to express and be in harmony with our Faith. And [this] can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue.”