Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Political Watch

I am not a politician. Never have been. Never want to be.

And I’m not much of a political analyst. Never have been. Never want to be.

And most of the time, I would rather turn off the news than listen to the politicians blabber on about what they are going to do for us.

I learned early in life that politicians will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get elected. When I was in high school and the Cold War was raging, candidate Ronald Reagan promised he would not institute military draft registration, an issue near and dear to my heart. But after the election, he did anyway. I was in one of the first groups that had to sign up.

I have never forgotten that.

But the battle for the top spot on the Republican ballot in November has intrigued me. It seems like the Republican Party really wants Barack Obama to be re-elected!

Look at the dwindling crowd of competitors. None are serious, mainstream candidates. At one point, even Donald Trump looked like a good prospect. Most are catering to a small, radical fringe of the party. The label “moderate” is used as an insult. Thus, there has been no national ground-swell of support for any of them. Almost daily, the lead in the polls changes.

And so do the issues. At first it was all about the economy. That was easy to campaign about because the economy stinks. Even Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” was considered reasonable, if but for a brief moment.

But now the economy seems to be improving. The Dow is hovering at 13,000, the best it has been in years. Unemployment numbers are down. Housing starts are up.

Then, in response to an edict by the President, the issue became abortion and contraception. Suddenly, all the candidates are pro-Catholicism.

And as the price of gasoline rises toward $4 per gallon (as it did during George Bush’s presidency), they are blaming it on President Obama – as if he had anything to do with it!

All of the Republican candidates want you to think they are “the most conservative” in the bunch, and –with the obvious exception of Mitt Romney – they want you to believe they are “the most conservative Christian” in the bunch. But look a little closer at their tax returns. Super-Christian Rick Santorum only donates about 2% of his wealth to church/charity. Newly-reformed Catholic Newt Gingrich also gives about 2%. But the Mormon candidate Romney gives 14+%, which is only exceeded by, yes, President Obama!

And speaking of wealth: everyone knows Romney is rich. Every candidate has tried to smear him for being successful in business. I find that an odd tactic since what we need right now is a President with some real-world business experience.

But Romney has been killing himself on the issue as well. He is trying so hard to down-play his wealth that he is constantly giving fodder to his opponents – from a $10,000 bet with Governor Perry during one of the early debates, to claiming he didn’t make much in speaking fees (I think the total was $475,000), to telling Detroit that he owns a Mustang and a pick-up truck… and his wife drives two Cadillacs. And my favorite: while he’s not a big NASCAR fan, he knows several of the team owners!

Keep in mind, the NASCAR comment was made in response to the Santorum team sponsoring a car in the Daytona 500.

So who’s rich?

Truth is, they are all rich. With the exception of Romney, they all made their money in politics, not working a blue-collar 9-5. Romney seems to be the only one uncomfortable with lying about it.

So there are four left now (plus a few real wackos like Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, who spent a small fortune to run a graphic anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl broadcast). As of this morning, Santorum – who thinks it’s snobby to want our children to go to college, and who wants to blur the line between church and state (at least when it comes to Christianity) – and Romney are neck-and-neck in Michigan polls, where Romney should be leading with ease. Gingrich is struggling to keep his name in the news, and hopes to win his home state of Georgia. And that other guy – you know, the old guy – well, I think he’s just hanging on to make the race more interesting.

We’re fast approaching March and the Republicans still have not made up their minds. “The Donald” has bowed out, but former-VP candidate Sarah Palin still thinks she has a chance to be a last-minute entry at the Convention.

My guess is that the Obama campaign is already planning the victory celebration!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Worlds Collide...

During the day, I am an ordained United Methodist clergy.

At night, I am an ordained United Methodist clergy.

But in the in-between time, I captain the "Banana Winds" and enjoy an occasional adult beverage.

So imagine the quandary I find myself in this year as two important events converge on the same date.

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, an observance in the church that marks the beginning of Lent. Forty days of prayer and penitence and abstinence in preparation for the Easter celebration.

In the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, penitence is characterized by putting on sack-cloth and sitting in ashes. In modern day observance of Ash Wednesday, we smear an ashen cross on our foreheads to symbolize remorse for our sins.

The date of Ash Wednesday changes with the date of Easter.

Which this year brings it into conflict with another important event.

What's a guy to do?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Last night, the First Mate and I went to John Mueller’s “Winter Dance Party”, showing at the Carson Center.

The WDP is a recreation of the tour Buddy Holly was on when he, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” died in an airplane crash.

John Mueller, a Buddy Holly impersonator, pulled together the tour in 1999 – 40 years after the original tour – recreating the original Winter Dance Party. They played all 11 venues in order, ending with the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2.

Creepy thought: I wonder if, on February 2, 1999, the three men got on a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza 35 to fly out of Iowa?

Anyway, the new WDP was so popular, it is still touring.

It was an enjoyable show. Mueller did a great job re-creating Holly; Ray Anthony was able to get the crowd on its feet with his Richie Valens impersonation; and Jay Richardson, son of J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, brought back to life the father he never knew.

Jay was born three months after the plane crash.

Perhaps the only improvement I would recommend would be the venue – it just didn't seem right that we were sandwiched into the stadium-seating of the performing arts center for the “dance party”. Seated shoulder to shoulder, there was little room to move, or clap, or dance.

Not that the Captain would have danced anyway.

I only saw one (large) couple move out into the aisle to actually dance, a move which I think annoyed many of those around them.

But this is a rant.

I’m not ranting about the way people around here dress for shows like this – like the guy who looked like he parked his big-rig on a side street and came to the show in his Carharts and workboots. No, I’ve given up on the idea that one should dress up a little if the ticket price costs more than dinner.

I miss the days when men wore tuxes and women wore evening gowns when going out “to the opera”.

Not that I’m old enough to remember those days.

But I’ve seen all the movies.

And listened to the soundtrack.

No, what bothered me more than the way others were dressed was their damned cell phones!

The women on either side of us were constantly on their cell phones!

The young hottie next to me was carrying on a constant text-message conversation with “Ryan”.

Yes, I looked! I wanted to know what was so damned important!

She would clap along with the performer, then suddenly stop and start texting – the light from her phone temporarily blinding me in the subdued lighting of the performing hall.

The woman sitting to our right – a person older than us – thought she could actually get a good photograph of the performance with her cell phone.

We were sitting near the back of the first balcony.

But her cell phone had a flash, so I’m sure the pictures were excellent!

These two weren’t the only ones. At the intermission, we saw ushers berating two poorly-dressed women who were attempting to videotape the show.

Arrrrrgh! There be Pyrats!

But phones and cameras were flashing throughout the night. A person in front of us was recording the performance on his cell phone.

I’m sure that will also be a quality production!

My question is, did they enjoy the show? The woman carrying on a text conversation with someone else – did you enjoy the show? The man holding his cell phone up throughout the performance – did you enjoy the show? The numerous people constantly taking photographs – did you enjoy the show?

Whatever happened to "being in the moment"? When did we lose the ability to put away the cares of the world outside and simply enjoy the show we have paid $50 to see? When did we decide it’s more important to have a fuzzy, shaky video to re-watch later on a 3” screen than it is to enjoy the show that’s right there in front of us?

Okay. I've said it. I’m done. I feel better now.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Winter Blues

What can I say. I’m sorry.

This blog has lost its edge.

It used to be fun, commenting on the quirky little tidbits that pop up in the news every now and then, finding the humor in the mundane.

But recently, I'm just not feelin' it.

For example, tomorrow is the Super Bowl, but the Saints are not in it this year, so, although I'll be attending a party, my heart's just not in it.

And, no thanks to the Today show, even the commercials won't be a surprise. They've been showing them all week long!

What's up with that!?!

But now, all that’s in the news is the campaign for the office of President of the United States. Sure, there’s plenty of fodder for humor among the Republicans campaigns, but the jokes are so obvious it’s not worth my time. Even the late-night comics are all using the same material.


Frankly, I wonder why anyone would want the job.

The candidates are spending millions of dollars to secure a job that pays $400,000 a year. The present slate of candidates will all take a drastic pay-cut for the privilege of “winning” the highest office in the land… perhaps in the world…

But still…

This year’s campaign is not even fun. Ignoring Ronald Reagan’s advice about not messing in one’s own backyard, the Republican candidates are tearing each other apart in a vain and desperate attempt to win their party’s nod.

Truth is, the incumbent President will have very little left to say about his rival.

And for one candidate to try to belittle the other by calling him “rich”… How ludicrous is that!?!

Sure, you didn’t make $22 million last year, but the $3 million you did make puts you way out of my league.

And Newt… really? “Newt”? Can anyone out there wrap your brain around “President Newt”?

Former Speaker of the House trying to run as an “outsider”?

A three-times married - two-times philanderer – just converted to Catholicism leader of the Religious Right?

['Better than a Mormon.']

Newt failed to file the appropriate papers in Virginia, so he contested the law he failed to comply with? He lost in the Florida primary, so he’s contesting the law in that state which gives all the convention delegates to the winner.

Are you kidding me?

And poor Newt, winning the “endorsement” of Sarah Palin’s husband, Michelle Bachmann, and Herman Cain, and coveting the endorsement of Donald Trump – which he failed to get... What is he running for - “Class Clown”?

President Obama must laugh himself to sleep every night!

But I hate politics and all things related. I think all politicians are corrupt and self-serving, it doesn’t matter which party.

So what is there left to blog about?

I’m searching for a new secretary.

I know, but can she type?

So far, in the seven months I have been at this church, I have lost a choir director, a youth director, and a secretary.

It’s been a very busy seven months!

In each case, the congregation was naturally upset. Churches are notorious for loving staff members beyond their effectiveness.

Many do this with their pastors as well.

Needless to say, I can’t go into specifics here. Personalities are involved. But we have now interviewed four of five applicants and the choice is obvious. Hopefully, a new secretary will be at the desk on Monday.

The interview committee was intrigued by the candidate with the purple fingernails, but we figured her “uniqueness” would wear out pretty quickly!

But, as I said, I can’t talk about that.

So what is there left to blog about? I hate politics, and can’t talk about my work…

Enter Facebook.

Earlier this week my seminary posted an announcement that it has been listed as one of the “Most Sexually Healthy and Responsible Seminaries” by the Religious Institute.

I would declare it comedic “Manna from Heaven”, but that headline is pretty much its own punchline!

I hear they’re even adopting a new mascot.