Thursday, February 25, 2016

Daniel Henninger has written an insightful opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal  "Trump Is Killing Cruz: Ted Cruz had  plausible election strategy until Donald Trump stole it."
You might be able to link to the entire article HERE, but it could require an online subscription. If so, I highly recommend getting one. I read the Wall Street Journal, at least the Opinion Page every day. Well thought out, well reasoned articles, not the usual mud slinging, scarcely nuanced hysteria of some other publications.
Henninger made this excellent point that many people don't really understand:
Donald Trump is properly understood as running an independent candidacy from inside the formal structure of the Republican Party, as Mike Bloomberg did to run for mayor of New York City. Nothing remotely resembling a political party is associated with Mr. Trump. 
That's it. Trump is not a republican. He is not a conservative. He is NOT supported by the party. Who his supporters are is a mystery. But I think we can say with certainty that they are not individuals who truly understand or embrace conservatism. There may also be a number of people who really don't pay much attention to politics or political ideas, but are just taken in by the hoopla. And then there are some conservatives in the media...I don't know. Are they infatuated with him? Does his antipathy toward immigrants fuel a certain ugly animosity within them. I don't know. But what I do know is that he does not, in any way, shape, or form, represent republicanism.

Another good point:
The Cruz camp might argue that it has as much chance as Marco Rubio in a one-on-one contest against the Trump 33%. It’s far from clear, though, that the Rubio-Bush-Kasich vote would default to Sen. Cruz. The Cruz media-support operation for years has ridiculed vast swaths of the Republican Party, including lifelong Reagan conservatives, as the abhorrent “mainstream” or the “donor class.”
The media (and especially Trump supporters) keep saying that other candidates' dropping out of the race will be split among those remaining. I agree with Henninger. They are more likely to go to Rubio or, and this is scary, to Trump. Bush and Kasich are very different candidates than Cruz. 

This is the strangest election I can remember. (Sorry about the inconsistent line spacing. Couldn't get it to work.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Few Random Political Thoughts..

So...Trump has handily won Nevada, but since it is not a winner take all state, Cruz and Rubio also received some delegates.

What's going to happen from here? If Kasich and Carson do not drop out, there will have to be a major event to stop Trump from getting the nomination.

Even if Kasich and Carson do drop out, all or nearly all of their support would have to go to only Cruz or only Rubio.

It doesn't look like Kasich and Carson will drop out anytime soon. Course, it never looks that way until they actually do it. We can hope.

The Trump phenomenon  has me completely baffled. Otherwise intelligent people are all transfixed by him. I'll grant you that there is something appealing about a politician with no filters.

But Trump not only has no filters, he also has no policy. No one knows what a Trump presidency would look like. Is he conservative? We don't know, but what we do know is that he appears to not be.

Is Trump for fiscal responsibility? I have not heard him talk about balancing the budget, reducing the debt or reducing the size of government. You think he can do that because he's a successful businessman? Well, sure, he probably has the ability, but does he have the desire? We really don't know.

Is he conservative on the social/moral issues? I don't know. He has flip flopped a great deal on abortion, even supporting partial birth abortion at one time. When someone has changed to that degree, I like to hear an explanation of the conversion.

What kind of Supreme Court justices would he appoint? We don't know. We don't even know if he understands the role of the Supreme Court, do we?

What kind of commander-in-chief would he be? Well, he has blamed 9/11 on George W. Bush, in a rant that seemed completely unhinged. He also blamed Bush for the current state of the Middle East. That sounds more like a democrat to me.

The bottom line is that we don't know what Trump would do as president. Yes, he would build a wall. Is that so important that all the other issues don't matter? And is his mass deportation plan perhaps just a bit lacking in Christian charity? Not to mention his derogatory remarks about Hispanics.

And while on the topic of Hispanics, why the heck does he keep questioning Cruz and Rubio's eligibility to run? It looks suspiciously as though his own race and ethnicity are those traits he most associates with being an American. The Let's stick it to our trade partners who are ripping us off theme is along the same lines, not to mention the wall, the mass deportations, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric.

I think the guy is a loose cannon, and I can't believe there is a large number of voters (ostensibly republicans) who are actually voting for him.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Father Paul Scalia's Homily at His Father's Funeral

On February 20th, the day of Justice Scalia's funeral, USA Today published a transcript of Father Paul Scalia's homily which he delivered with great courage and grace at his own father's funeral. Read the entire transcript here.

Father Scalia began by graciously thanking many people. One line particularly struck me.
In particular I thank Cardinal Wuerl, first for reaching out so quickly and so graciously to console our mother. It was a consolation to her and therefore to us as well. 
It consoled her and therefore the rest of the family. Here is a man who cares deeply for his mother. Impressive. He went on:
Thank you also for allowing us to have this parish funeral Mass here in this basilica dedicated to Our Lady. What a great privilege and consolation that we were able to bring our father through the holy doors and for him gain the indulgence promised to those who enter in faith.
So VERY Catholic. A plenary indulgence. Indeed. Such a consolation.

Then Father Scalia went into the heart of his homily:
We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.
It is He whom we proclaim. Jesus Christ, son of the father, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried, risen, seated at the right hand of the Father. It is because of him. because of his life, death and resurrection that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, but in confidence we commend Antonin Scalia to the mercy of God.
Wow. I imagine not a single person thought he was not talking about his father as a man loved and scorned, known for great controversy and compassion. It was not a joke. Father Scalia had beautifully pivoted our attention from his great father to Our Lord and Savior, the reason for our hope.

The entire homily was very focused on Jesus Christ, interspersed with personal elements and humor.
But more important to us — and to him — is that he was Dad. He was the father that God gave us for the great adventure of family life. Sure he forgot our names at times, or mixed them up, but there are nine of us.
So sweet.
He was a practicing Catholic, "practicingin the sense that he hadn't perfected it yet. Or rather, Christ was not yet perfected in him. And only those in whom Christ is brought to perfection can enter heaven. We are here, then, to lend our prayers to that perfecting, to that final work of God's grace, in freeing Dad from every encumbrance of sin.
How well Father Scalia evangelized in this homily. How proud his father must have been.

Rest in peace, Justice Scalia. You raised some fine children You served your country well. You were the father of a fine priest. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tired of Politics....Hoping This Video Will Load... Blaise!!!!

This is my grandson, Blaise! I have to acknowledge that I might be a bit biased (do ya think?), but is he not adorable??? Since it's not clear that the above video will actually load, here are some still shots..

 Yes, Captain Cutie!

 Blaise with his Auntie Esther!

Blaise with Grandpa!

I'm completely smitten with this little guy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Donald Trump Is Not Suited to the Presidency

While his bluntness can be a refreshing change from politically correct speech, Donald Trump is unqualified to be president and clearly not a conservative. I wish his supporters would wake up and see that his nomination would be a disaster for the Republican Party.

William Galston in today's Wall Street Journal writes "Trump's Hostile GOP Takeover" subtitled, How can evangelicals support a candidate with such deep-seated flaws? (I have been unable to link to the article. You could try going to

Indeed, that is the question. Galston writes, "It is hard to decide which is a greater threat to the republic-- Donald Trump's pervasive ignorance or his deep-seated character flaws."

He's not a conservative. In fact, it's difficult to say what he is. He parrots some conservative platitudes, but he also contradicts himself on key issues. He said he would defund Planned Parenthood. Then he said he would fund only non-abortion services of Planned Parenthood because he "cherishes women." Please.

He gets things done? Well, he has developed a lot of real estate. The presidency of the United States requires another whole skill set.

He's boorish, immature, thin-skinned, and bullyish.

That he has the polls numbers he has is just incomprehensible to me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Donald Trump? Seriously?

As I look at the poll numbers of voters who are supporting Donald Trump, I remain completely baffled. Yes, the man is, in some ways, refreshingly politically incorrect and bold. I say refreshingly only because most politicians weigh their words so carefully that you have to be a detective to find out what they truly think. Donald Trump seems to have no filters whatsoever.

The problem with Trump is that no one seems to really know what is policy positions are. He wants to make American great again? OK. How? How would a great America look to Donald Trump? He would have a strong military, he says, and he would take care of veterans. OK. But he also says that he and Putin would be friends, and that it's fine with him if Putin wants to bomb ISIS in Syria. He has the most simplistic view of the situation in the Middle East and the threat of ISIS. Personally, especially at this point in time, I want a president who thoroughly understands all the issues and dynamics of the Middle East. Not one that wants to be friends with Putin.

Trump has threatened to sue Ted Cruz for saying that he would appoint liberal Supreme Court justices. Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Those who are pro-life might want to know that she ruled in favor of partial birth abortion. Trump has said publicly that his sister would make a "phenomenal" Supreme Court judge. If Maryanne Trump Barry is someone he thinks would be a great justice, why should we not conclude that Trump would nominate liberal justices? Just asking.

Trump says his administration would be "special." I want to know how it would be special. What is Trump's vision of special?

He says he wants to be unpredictable as president. Really? Unpredictable? I want a president whose policies are very predictable, because he ran on them. I don't want a surprise president.

He's a bully around his challengers. He's boorish. He uses objectionable language. He's childish and thin-skinned. He couldn't even handle criticism from Megyn Kelly.

He'll get things done? He probably would. But WHAT would he get done? Shouldn't we know before casting a vote for him?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Last Saturday I found myself at Costco in the middle of the afternoon. It was the only time I could get there. It seemed to be the worst time to go.

It was crowded. The aisles were packed, some so full you couldn't get though them. Three people at the meat counter seemed to be having some kind of committee meeting about what to buy, right in front of the section I needed to reach. I couldn't find the one item I needed to get for dinner that night. And the cart was heavy. I was tired. My arms were hurting from working out the day before...

Let's just say I had a bad attitude.

Then it occurred to me. Here I was in Costco with a full cart of grocery items, many of which I did not even need. I live in a country where the vast majority of people do not suffer from hunger. (And many of them were right there in Costco.) :-) And instead of thanking God for his countless blessings, I was complaining. Instead of realizing that having enough food is a gift from God, I was griping about the heaviness of the cart, the extra time it took to shop with so many other blessed people, and the fact that I couldn't get the one item I had wanted.

Wow. I had to repent.

Lord, may I never overlook (or complain!) about the numerous ways you have blessed my life. Help me not to be that spoiled child who must have everything her way. Help me to see the truth about my life. And please forgive me, Lord, for the pride that says I must not be inconvenienced.

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Common Year: A year of music, writing, art, stories, and much more.....

The plaque on my wall says, "There Is Always, Always, Always Something To Be Thankful For." When I saw it for sale at the Dixboro General Store, I knew I needed to have that where it would be frequently seen.

 Every day is full of beauty, love, and the Presence of God. It really is.

OK. I'll grant you that not every day feels like a good day. In fact, on some days it can even feel that nearly everything has gone wrong. Yet, indeed, there is always something to be thankful for.

There are loved ones. There is the sunshine (sometimes) or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Every season has it's beauty. And there are the things that the exceptionally blessed people (myself included) regularly overlook. Food on the table, a roof over our head, the warmth and comfort of home and beds, family, friends,...

How often do we just overlook the Beauty in the Common.

There is the darling child who just walked by, the smile returned to you by a cashier, the understanding of a friend, the joke that makes you laugh, that magnificent tree that you rarely look at, the lovely photo on Facebook.... The beauty is everywhere in the simple common things that are the stuff of life.

Ian Simkins is a pastor, a writer, a kind and generous man, and truly something of a philosopher. (He also just happens to be the brother of my son-in-law.) He has put together the project, Beauty in the Common, and the fascinating multidimensional offshoot, The Common Year.

The Common Year is divided into twelve themes, one for each month, describing various dimensions of beauty in the common rhythms of daily life. The theme for February is Beauty in the Stillness and I had the privilege of contributing a piece for the first week. It starts:
There had been a heavy snowfall. As is my habit, I set out, shovel in hand, to clear the snow from the sidewalk and driveway. I knew it was good exercise and somehow I thought that was the reason I enjoyed it. 
 The night was quiet, all sound muted by the heavy accumulation of snow. I scraped my shovel along the concrete. In the distance there were faint sounds of other shovels scraping. A dog barked far off in the distance. Somehow, with no other people in sight, I felt the unity of myself with others. Here we all were, trying to survive in a climate that would be barely habitable were it not for modernity. 
 I chuckled as my breath froze with each exhaled exertion, and I realized it was not the exercise that made this somehow pleasant.  I don’t even like to exercise.  It was the silence. The relentless cacophony of everyday life had been paused....
To read the entire piece go to this link.

Many thanks to Pastor Ian for this invitation to slow down, to see the beauty all around us, to be still, and to know the Presence of God.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

I'm A Grandmother!

Some of you may remember how last Mother's Day my daughter and son-in-law surprised us with the news that we were going to be grandparents. Yes, I fell completely apart with joy. I was presented with a little onesie that says "Grandma's Favorite, December 2015

And sure enough, this December, my little grandson, Blaise, entered the world. And he IS my favorite!

Words cannot describe how in love we are with him!
I mean, seriously, look at this face!

My daughter and her husband live in what I call the Manhattan of downtown Ypsilanti. It's a loft apartment right in the center of everything. (Unfortunately. it's too small for a family, so they will be moving soon from this historic and fascinating neighborhood)

I have had the distinct privilege of being able to help my daughter Anne as she recovers from childbirth. We have had so much fun.

Grandpa with the Little Man.

The delight on this little face mirrors the utter delight in my heart to have this new tiny (for the moment) person to cherish.

I'm in heaven. I don't know what else to say.

My daughter is a wonderful mother. So happy that my grandson has been gifted with two parents who love him to the ends of the Earth, four grandparents who cherish him to the depths of our hearts, and many aunts and uncles who could not be happier with this new member of the family.

He is one happy baby, as well he should be.

God is good. All the time!!!