The Politics of Birth Control

I was surprised to see a commentary piece, titled "An open invitation to Rick Santorum" by Aimee Patton in the Saturday edition of the Kansas City Star that referenced a post from my blogging friend Shane. Here is the Santorum quote that she cited:

“One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. … Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK, contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

I really did not know that candidate Santorum had such a political position on birth control. Most of the Roman Catholics that I know (evidenced by the size of their family) do not seem to have this view. Yet it reveals to me how this view (i.e. that sexual intimacy in marriage is all about procreation) is still alive and well on planet earth. I do not agree with that view but suspect that some of you might or maybe know a person that holds that view. Even so, do you think it odd that a candidate would make an issue of it?

Super PACs and the SCOTUS

Many of my conservative friends are whining these days about the influence that the negative ads, sponsored by Super PACs, are having in the Florida GOP primary election. My thinking is that this huge dollar door was opened up on January 21, 2010 by a landmark decision of the conservative led United States Supreme Court holding that the First Amendment prohibits government from placing limits on independent spending for political purposes by corporations and unions. Here is a clip from the wiki on the topic:
The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a January 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lower court decision had upheld provisions of the 2002 act, which prevented the film Hillary: The Movie from being shown on television within 30 days of 2008 Democratic primaries.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court, striking down those provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications.” An "electioneering communication" was defined in McCain–Feingold as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or thirty days of a primary.
Conservatives say that the court was correct because the issue was free speech. Others are not so adamant about this sort of free speech because they understand that the influx of huge amounts of money in the election process often results in an unhealthy exertion of power. I mean really, does anyone think that campaign finance reform is bad. Does anyone think that large corporate entities are people and, as such, have the same rights that you and I have with regard to "electioneering communication"?

The Grey | ★★★★★★

This review comes, with my thanks, from my Facebook friend Gary ...

I have a very mixed reaction to the movie. On several counts it was done very well. The acting was actually pretty decent all round. The portrayal of working class men and their crass and crude manner was spot on. Most of the movie was within what I call "plausibility". The exception was the plot where they are relentlessly stalked by a pack of wolves. I have never heard of such a thing and don't think that would ever happen in nature. Contrary to what folks think, that wolves don't attack people, they do. It's rare but it happens. I think they should have used Grizzly bears instead of wolves for the antagonists. However, if you overlook that small detail, the story becomes one of survival and who will fall by the way more quickly than others. Some people really do seem as if they were made to be prey. There is also the question of religious faith in this movie and I personally did not find it as satisfactory being a person of faith. The movie seems to take the view that God is not there but it's man's noble purpose to fight to the end out of self sustained courage. There is a subtle existentialist flavor here.

Overall, I guess it was a good movie but not the best movie either. There are lots of references to the lead character played by Liam Neeson where his wife had died tragically and he was in deep mourning over this. The similarities to Neeson losing his own wife are there and it makes his portrayal all to convincing. I particularly liked the theme of inner pain and suffering and the consequent despair which is overcome daily (barely) and the will to survive even though there might not be much reason to. Not every character decides to go on under even less grim circumstances as Neeson's character. There was the hoped for cleverness of sturdy men finding ways to use what they had in hand to survive which I always like to see. The plane crash was particularly well done and how it must seem to those in the cabin. I would rate this movie a 6 out of ten. I recommend it but with reservations. Don't expect to walk away happy. The ending was not well received by the audience or yours truly. This movie is clearly in the genre of the realism school. Because of that you won't feel the same as when you watched "Jeremiah Johnson" or "The Edge". This is one movie that is best watched with thoughtfulness. It holds up well to reflection and understanding and in that way most satisfactory. Go see it.

Access my movie reviews webpage by clicking on "Movie Reviews" above.

Australia loves KC BBQ

I was surprised to see an article about Arthur Bryant's BBQ Restaurant in the Travel and Indulgence section of The Australian newspaper. This cartoon appeared in the KC Star when Arthur passed away in 1982. The restaurant was reopened the following year and has kept the BBQ tradition alive.

My thinking is that you all might want to take the advice of The Australian and come to Kansas City to taste the BBQ. I'd love to be your tour guide to the best ribs in town. :)

The Relational Aspect of an Apology

Never quite thought of an apology in this fashion. On one hand we do not want to live like a doormat always apologizing when we are not in the wrong. On the other hand I think that we are often called to be humble even when we are right. Either way I think that the person offering an apology is often the stronger person.

Do you agree? Can you relate? Care to share?

Should Capital Gains Tax Rates be Higher?

The past few days have been rife with discussion of Mitt Romney's fourteen percent tax rate that he has paid on his investments. Paul Krugman speaks to this issue of why gazillionaires pay so little, percentage-wise, in an editorial titled "It's hard to justify low tax rates on the rich". Here are a few thoughts from it:
The main reason the rich pay so little is that most of their income takes the form of capital gains, which are taxed at a maximum rate of 15 percent, far below the maximum on wages and salaries. So the question is whether capital gains - three-quarters of which go to the top 1 percent of the income distribution - warrant such special treatment.
When you hear about the low taxes of people like Romney, what you need to know is that it wasn't always thus - and the days when the superrich paid much higher taxes weren't that long ago. Back in 1986, Ronald Reagan - yes, Ronald Reagan - signed a tax reform equalizing top rates on earned income and capital gains at 28 percent. The rate rose further, to more than 29 percent, during Bill Clinton's first term.

Low capital gains taxes date only from 1997, when Clinton struck a deal with Republicans in Congress in which he cut taxes on the rich in return for creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program. And today's ultralow rates - the lowest since the days of Herbert Hoover - date only from 2003, when former President George W. Bush rammed both a tax cut on capital gains and a tax cut on dividends through Congress.
There is a rationale that says that capital gains rates should be low because people who reap dividends from stocks and bonds are partial owners in entities that already pay taxes. My thinking is that these gains are not all that much different from the dividends and interest that is paid on savings accounts and should be taxed as ordinary income. And looking at the chart above it looks like gazillionaires once paid higher tax rates on capital gains.

My Take on the Oscar Nods

The Oscars nominations came out yesterday and I thought that I might give a bit of commentary on the movies and actors that I actually saw ...
  • Moneyball | best picture.
    Really? I gave it seven stars out of ten. It was pretty good but I cannot imagine
     how anyone could think that it deserved to be "the best".
  • Brad Pitt | best actor in Moneyball.
    I like him okay but did not think that he was all that great.
  • Meryl Streep | best actress in The Iron Lady.
    The movie trailer has me convinced - but I am a huge fan of Streep.
  • Jonah Hill | best supporting actor in Moneyball.
    He was okay but I think that others would have been better.
  • Melissa McCarthy | best supporting actress for Bridesmaids
    Bad movie and a lame performance. Nothing like her Emmy winning Molly.
  • Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo | best screenplay for Bridesmaids
    Cannot believe that this bad movie got any recognition.
  • Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin | best screenplay for Moneyball
    Not sure what to think about this. The script was okay but it needed a lot of editing.
  • Moneyball | best achievement in editing
    Hard to believe this one. Some scenes just seemed to linger way too long.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes | best achievement in visual effects
    The chimps, monkeys and apes did seem a bit believable. :)
You can view all of the nominees at the IMDB site. I am hoping that some of these are not representative of the quality of the awards this year. Please chime in if you have seen any of the nominated movies or actors.

Why God Can't Be Trusted

Heather Koop blogs at Sober Boots. Recently she wrote a touching piece with the same title as this post where she struggles with the tension of praying and not seeing answers. I suggest that you read it in full here. This passage from it reveals her thinking about the question:

After we hung up, I couldn’t help wondering how long he could hang on.

Or how long I could. Sitting there in my office chair, cradling the phone, something about this whole prayer-of-faith formula—at least as I’d been practicing it—began to enrage me. I just couldn’t bear the responsibility of praying hard enough to save my son anymore. Neither could I deny any longer the betrayal I felt about the very idea that I had to twist God’s arm harder to make Him care more.

I began to cry. More truthfully, I wailed. I told God that I was sick and tired of feeling like I was being forced to repeatedly watch my child about to fall off a high cliff, knowing that no matter how fast I got there, it would not be soon enough to catch him.

And then I felt myself being led where no mother wants to go—deep into the territory of worst-case scenario. In my imagination, and more important, in my heart, my son died. I cried and keened and wrestled with God. I don’t know how long this went on, but I finally arrived somewhere outside of and beyond my faith.

For the first time, I realized that I could not trust God to keep my son—or anyone’s son—out of harm’s way. Because God can’t be trusted to deliver a particular outcome. He can only be trusted with, or in spite of, any outcome. He can only be trusted no matter what.

But “no matter what” is a dagger to a mother's heart, because it means that your only hope is to surrender all hope. “No matter what” is a place you never want to go. Now I saw clearly that it would have to be everything or nothing. Either I trusted God with Noah’s entire life (and his death if it came) in a way that surpassed my understanding of what is good, or I didn't trust Him at all.

That morning, I decided to place my son and all my hope in the hands of a God whose love is so vast and incomprehensible that it encompasses everything— even tragedy. I decided to put my hope in a God so good that one day, if only in eternity, even death and suffering will make some kind of beautiful sense.

Of course, I didn’t resolve all my questions about prayer that day. But something shifted. I determined that I would no longer pray to a God who was a puppet on a string, His will being tugged this way or that, depending on how hard people prayed or if they managed to stay awake.

I still pray. I still ask God to intervene. I still think that kind of prayer has a place. Why else would “Help me!” fall from our lips so often and so naturally? In fact, my entire recovery from alcoholism rests on my belief that God does intervene, that He can and will do for me what I can’t do for myself.

Man Up Mitt!

Rough week for fans of the Bain Capital man. I do not know about you but I am sick and tired of listening to the Blowhard in Chief brag about his debating prowess. Like beating Obama is all about out-talking him and giving a better speech than he does. Here are a few things I would like to see Romney do this week:
  • Release his taxes. Explain to people why he made so much money and not apologize for being successful. If he does not he will go down in flames.
  • Explain how he is different from so many executives in that he actually started something rather than simply working the system and rising from the ranks. 
  • Delineate himself from the other three career politicians who have not held a job in the public sector for over thirty years.
  • Speak clearly about his story. I have seen him connect with people when he speaks of his wife and her disease. Being faithful should not be a liability.
  • Take the gloves off. Get some passion in his voice when he speaks about his successes. Unashamedly debate his accomplishments.
It is time for Romney to man up. The election has turned into a bit of a street fight. People like Newt's passionate bravado. Mitt needs to find a way to unapologetically communicate his passion without the bravado.

Moneyball | ★★★★★★★

I sincerely hope that the management of Kansas City Royals have taken a few hours from their schedules to watch (and perhaps study) this movie. The movie paints a picture of what goes on behind the scenes in Major League Baseball and how teams acquire and fire players. It is based on the true story of how Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the General Manager of the Oakland A's, changed the way that players were chosen with the help of a character (played by Jonah Hill) that was based on real-life baseball guru Paul DePodesta. I found it fascinating how a team with limited funds used an algorithmic approach from a young nerdly guy to revolutionize the team and the sport. That said, I did think that the movie dragged a lot and suffered from a lack of hard editing. Even so, I much enjoyed and recommend it to you. On a scale of ten I give it ★★★★★★★.

Access my movie reviews webpage by clicking on "Movie Reviews" above.

Endorsing Herman Cain in SC

I am recommending Herman Cain in South Carolina to all voters that are fed up with with the current field of candidates. After the events of this week I think that I could vote that way. I think that it might be a good message to send the GOP?

Is God a Micro-Manager?

I am not sure that I have anything conclusive to offer by way of an answer to the question I pose in the title of this post. Perhaps I can start out with a definition from Wikipedia:
The notion of micromanagement can be extended to any social context where one person takes a bully approach, in the level of control and influence over the members of a group. Often, this excessive obsession with the most minute of details causes a direct management failure in the ability to focus on the major details.
Interesting how the words obsession and bully are used. I have worked for micro-managers and can relate to the obsessive bullying aspect in this description. That said I think that the word bully may be a bit unfair in that a manager may sometimes need to be very detailed oriented in his approach.

Back to the divine question. Perhaps we can frame it best by asking if God's approach is more like Mozart, Bernstein or Heifetz? Is his approach more like the great composer Amadeus Mozart imaging the notes that others will play? Or is it more like the New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein who directed the activities of virtuoso violinists like Jascha Heifetz? Or is it most like Heifetz who brought out the best of an inanimate object?

Perhaps it is a bit of each? Perhaps the Great Composer is a way to see the Father as one who has a beautiful plan for the universe. I think that we see glimpses of that plan in the bible. And maybe in Christ we see the head and conductor of a great body of diverse musicians who each have a different role in the orchestra. Yet possibly we understand God best as the Holy Spirit who quickens an inanimate object and brings beautiful music from it?

Back to the divine question. Is it fair to call God a micro-manager when the term relays such a pejorative connotation? I think that it depends on your view of the composer, conductor or violinist. If you have been exposed to negative images of these types then perhaps you would not want them to be involved at all in your life. But what if you have felt your life come alive at the touch of the virtuoso's hands? Or had your eyes opened to the beauty of your life? Or maybe felt the presence of a divine conductor in desperate times?

My thinking is that the answer to the question posed in the title is more about us than it is about God. I feel that we are reticent to call God a micro-manager if we have a difficult time with the way that our life has played out. When we experience difficulty and pain we do not want to attribute those things to God. Yet when things are going well.. when we are experiencing beautiful music.. we love to credit him for the score, the conducting and the instrument.

It is a matter of perspective. What is your perspective? How would you answer the question?

Above and Beyond

Damon is a member of the Monday morning men's group at church that I attend and I wanted to share this great letter to the editor, titled "KC Police go Above and Beyond", that appeared this week in the Kansas City Star. Kudos to him and Detective Cassady. I think that we just do not hear enough stories like this one ...

I left my Apple iPad in the seat pocket on a flight I took recently.

Fortunately I have the “Find My iPad” application, and one week later my missing iPad was located at an apartment complex near the Kansas City International Airport.

Based on the location, I guessed that someone who works at the airport had picked up my iPad so I called the Kansas City Police Department for help.

I explained the circumstances and gave the location of my iPad to Sgt. Damon Hayes, who was helpful and very professional. He sent Detective Mark Cassady out to the apartment complex.

Apparently Detective Cassady is tenacious and very persuasive.

He figured out quickly enough which residents worked at the airport and after knocking on doors, he somehow persuaded the person to return my property.

Here’s the lesson: If you own an iPad or iPhone, get the locator application.

But even more important, when it goes missing, hope it is located in a jurisdiction with a police department like Kansas City’s.

I hope you are lucky enough to encounter professionals like Sergeant Hayes and Detective Cassady.

Happy 70th Ali!

Muhammad Ali turns 70 today. Whether you are a fan or not you have to admit that he was a great athlete and stellar boxer. Thinking about him sends me back to my youthful years when things seemed a bit simpler. In honor of the day I give you a few thoughtful quotes from the man ...

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

The man who has no imagination has no wings.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

No one knows what to say in the loser's locker room.

It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.

Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.

If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.

Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

Resurrecting Downtown KC

Had to share this image from this morning at our new facility in downtown Kansas City. The church is doing well and has almost tripled in attendance since last year at this time. I think that the success is due, in part, to our leader Scott and the way that the church is structured. Instead of requiring that Scott prepare and preach a message each week the church utilizes the weekend teaching of the senior pastor Adam Hamilton (pictured on the screen in the image above). This structure frees Scott's schedule up to connect and engage with people throughout the week. It has created a buzz in the downtown area and I am blessed to be a part of this new expression of worship in downtown Kansas City.

Super 8 | ★★★★★★★★

This one really surprised me. I added it to my Netflix queue because it was rated well but I had no idea how engaging it would be. This SciFi thriller is set in the 1980s and is about six small town kids who witness weird events while shooting a movie with their Super 8 camera. What follows is a heartwarming, scary and thrilling coming of age story. The movie engaged me. The editing seemed tight and the movie moved along at a great pace. It reminded me a bit of Spielberg's E.T. - it had an alien, a brave boy and adults who didn't really understand what was going on. It also had J.J. Abrams SciFi directing stamp on it as well.

I think that it might be a good family-type movie (rated PG-13) but you might want to preview as it has some strong language used by the kids and several scary scenes. On a scale of ten I give this one ★★★★★★★★.

Access my movie reviews webpage by clicking on "Movie Reviews" above.

Is this Post is a Waste of Time?

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." -Bertrand Russell

Read this quote the other day on my friend Barbara's blog and got to thinking about the things that many judgmentally deem a waste of time. Perhaps some consider blogging a waste of time? Occasionally I get a backhanded compliment about my blogging that seems to convey the idea that this sort of activity is a waste of time. Here are a few other things that people deem to be wasteful and my ornery commentary on their judgments.

  • Television: So often the people who rail against couch potatoes are the ones who spend hours reading romance novels and newspapers.

  • Sports: People who do not like athletics often portray jocks as dumb dolts who cannot do anything else. I counter with: Rhodes Scholar, NJ Senator and NBA Star Bill Bradley; Congressman and NFL Quarterback Jack Kemp; and Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eater Alan Page who became an associate justice on the Minnesota supreme court.

  • The Internet: Many people mock the folks who enjoy web surfing and interacting with others in venues like blogging and Facebook. I have grown so much through these venues. My thinking about many issues have been challenged and I have grown as a person from these venues.

Just a few examples. What other "time wasters" could be added to my list? What do you enjoy "wasting time" doing?


The folks at This Side of the Pond have a meme called Wednesday Hodgepodge. Heard about it at my friend Susan's blog. I have never tried it so I thought that I might today ...

1. Lake Superior University has once again banished a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012 -
amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, ginormous, trickeration and thank you in advance.
Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why.

amazing. I think that it and awesome are way overused

2. Are you easily embarrassed?

I can be when I do not know the folks I am around.

3. what is your go-to snack?

I have a few. Lately it is munching on Bison Summer Sausage watching the NFL playoff games.

4. Have you ever been to Washington DC? if not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most like to see in that city? If you have been what's your favorite site?

Our spring day trip in Junior High School included a train ride from Staten Island to DC. Enjoyed the Smithsonian the most. I'd love to go again. I have heard that DC is fairly wheelchair accessible.

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats-which one do you hate the least?

My arthritis keeps me away from such things. I do well to get a walk in.

6. What's a small act of kindness someone did for you that you've never forgotten?

A supervisor gave me some tough advice when I worked in Newark in 1975. I wanted to blow it off because I did not like what he said. I took it to heart and it changed my life.

7. Have you ever been a blood donor?

I give blood every three months. I have donated over three gallons. Would have been higher if I was not banned from giving for about 12 years because of HH.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

In my life I have found that pain has changed me more than love has. I am hoping to see that change. :)
Which do you think has changed you more - pain or love?

What ever happened to cars riding on air?

ZDNet has posted some great images from the Detroit Auto Show. Several interesting concept cars and hybrids were included in their photo gallery. I did not see any though that rode on air, instead of wheels, the way that folks dreamed of 50 years ago.

Of the 24 cars displayed I think that I enjoyed this BMW i8 Concept Car the most. Maybe it is just those Delorean style doors. :)

Does God select the President?

Ever since Pat Robertson ran for the US presidency in 1988 God has often been credited with calling such people to run for the high office. Even today there are a few GOP presidential candidates that credit God calling them to run for office. There are a few verses in the New Testament that causes some to ponder the idea that the Almighty chooses, or at least calls, the leaders of nations. Consider these thoughts that the apostle writes to the Romans:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Taken in a literal and dogmatic way these verses pose a problem for Americans because our nation was founded by people who rebelled against British governing authorities. The verses also are troubling when one considers those who are rebelling in countries like Iran, Egypt and Libya. Is Paul telling these people to simply submit to tyrants who kill and oppress their neighbors? I think not.

I submit to you that Paul's words can be helpful when they are considered in the light of history. Ancient events record the rise and fall of nations - even Israel fell at the hands of pagan nations indicating that God allows such events. So, I believe that Paul is not saying that governing authorities are not to be challenged. My take is that Paul is simply saying to obey the law and stay out of jail. Tax evaders do well to heed his words. :)

But to the issue of the nations, I think that the prophet Isaiah said it clearly when he declared that God "brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness". In truth God's sovereignty over the earth is not about raising up or bringing down nations but about raising up and bringing down leaders. To that issue we would all do well to understand that, especially for leaders, God opposes the proud but empowers the humble.

Pride and humility? Something that people in New Hampshire should consider today when they cast their ballots.

Nothing to Say

Sometimes a cartoon like this one,
from the Shoebox blog,
speaks volumes.

Sometimes the sound of silence
is the best way to communicate
the way that we are feeling.

Sometimes the most friendly thing
that we can do is to simply listen
with an open and understanding heart.

Popularity is an Accident but Character Endures.

Saw this chart this week and was reminded how fleeting popularity can be. I can remember how many of the entities pictured were once esteemed in our country. In light of that I thought I might share a few quotes:

Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.
-Horace Greeley

Avoid popularity if you would have peace. -Abraham Lincoln

Avoid popularity; it has many snares, and no real benefit. -William Penn

I don't care whether people like me or dislike me. I'm not on earth to win a popularity contest. I'm here to be the best human being I possibly can be. -Tab Hunter

One of my proudest moments is I didn't sell my soul for the sake of popularity. -George W. Bush

The presidency is more than a popularity contest. -Al Gore

I don't know one of my friends who is considered a conservative who has not had to go back and thoroughly think through everything. You do a lot of soul-searching - 'cause we are not going to win any popularity contests.
-Clarence Thomas

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs. -Aldous Huxley

I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity. -Julius Erving

Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in senate. -Orson Welles

The Candidate Match Game

I took the US Today Candidate Match Game and came up with these results. Not great results considering that I only resonated with five of eleven issues of the candidate that they declared most resonating with my views. I suspect the 66.7% was the result of the way that I weighted the importance of the eleven issues. Of course my number three is moot now since she dropped out of the race. That said, I admit that the other two candidates did not surprise me as they are my top picks from the crowd. Let me know if you play the game and if you are surprised by the results.

Kill the Irishman | ★★★★★★★

I read a review on this movie that said there are more car bombs in this flick than any other movie he had ever seen. That somewhat sums it up for this dramatization of the rise of real life Cleveland mobster Danny Greene. Ann and I watched the documentary that came with the DVD and was fascinated how the violence was so integral to the telling of Greene's story. I enjoyed the movie and thought that Ray Stevenson did a magnificent job in bringing out the gritty persona of the main character. A few other big time actors, Paul Sorvino and Christopher Walken, had bit parts playing off Greene but their contributions were just anecdotal. The movie was all about the Irish mobster.

If you enjoy gritty action packed reality based movies and are not put off by "R" rated action (and one risque scene) I think that you might enjoy Kill the Irishman. On a scale of ten I give it ★★★★★★★.

Access my movie reviews webpage by clicking on "Movie Reviews" above.

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Red State Blue State TV

Entertainment Weekly recently weighed in on the political aspects of TV watchers in an article titled "Republicans vs. Democrats TV: Lefties want comedy, right wingers like work". They report:
In the findings, “sarcastic” media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems. While serious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives.
In their article they list TV shows that attract politicos with right or left leaning tendencies. Using their piece as a guideline I have to admit that I must be somewhat of a moderate or a centrist. Consider the evidence:
Red State shows that I like:
  • Hawaii Five-O
  • The Mentalist
  • The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
Blue State shows that I like:
  • 30 Rock
  • Modern Family
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
  • The Late Show With David Letterman
You can check out their whole list here. I did find the list a bit limited and they did report that some of these shows appealed to both sides of the political spectrum. Even so, I wonder how some of the old shows would have fared. Would Bonanza fallen to conservatives and MASH to liberals. I think not. Yet I do think that Star Trek probably would not appeal to libertarians because everything seems to be run by the government.

2012 Word Dreams

I like the idea of thinking of a single word to represent your focus of intention for the new year (rather than a list of resolutions). What word would you choose?

One of my friends posted that to her Facebook status. I loved the responses she got.. Doomsday did not make the list.. my word was 'change'. Thought I might share a few of them along with a bit of commentary.
  • Happy: I often allow happenings to affect my happiness. I would like that to happen less.
  • Acceptance: I think that there may be a connection between this and happiness.
  • Intentional: There is something empowering about making plans and living on purpose.
  • Creativity: Not just for the artistically minded. Living and changing is sometimes all about this word.
  • Determined: Love that word! Speaks to me about persistence in the face of trials.
  • Adventure: A challenging word for someone like me who likes to play it safe.
  • Simplicity: Ann and I began to simplify and enjoy life more in 2010 when we downsized.
Do you resonate with any of these words? What is your word for this New Year? Hopefully it is not Doomsday. :)

The Middle Matters

With the Iowa Caucus just a day away I thought that I might share a few quotes from a Christian Post article titled Huckabee: GOP Needs to Skip Political Bashing, Focus on Independents.
“I watched this whole cycle unfold, sadly the focus seems to be about who can tear each other up as Republicans or how can we tear up Barack Obama, not whether we can build up the country.” -Mike Huckabee

“While Obama-bashing may again fire up the conservative base, it delivers nothing to those crucial Independent and middle-of-the-road voters who are anxious, confused and looking for someone to convince them they have a better plan.” -Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal editorial board

“On issue after issue, the opinions of the GOP’s conservative base are out of step with those of white working-class Independents. Rather than grasp this fact, however, many Republican political leaders have listened solely to the base and ignored the other partner in the marriage.” -Henry Olsen, vice president of national research for American Enterprise Institute
I feel that the candidates would do well to take this advise to heart. The independent middle matters.

Can a Christian be a libertarian?

“It’s a far stretch and a great distortion to use Christianity in any way to justify aggression and violence.”

I lifted that Ron Paul quote (written in his book Liberty Defined) from a Washington Post blog post titled "Can a Christian be a libertarian?" The post tries to explain what a Libertarian is and how this ideology synthesizes to biblical Christian views. Here are a few clips from it:
Christians from the left and the right are increasingly turning to libertarianism not because it is a “middle ground,” but because it is an entirely different way of thinking about government and power.

The core of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle: that the initiation of force against person and property is immoral, and it is in many respects a kind of political corollary to the Golden Rule. Thus, Christian libertarians think that government power should be limited, sound money and truly free markets should return, aggressive war must cease and civil liberties must be preserved.
Libertarianism treats man’s sinful nature realistically. James Madison famously quipped that if men were angels no government would be necessary. Christian libertarians take this a step further, saying that it is precisely because men are not angels that government must have extraordinarily limited powers.
It is truly unfortunate that modern American churches seem to think the state’s means of “spreading democracy” through aggressive war is more important than spreading the peaceful message of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus came to bring “peace on earth, good will to men,” and by extension the Christian’s goal ought to be the same.
Norman Horn, the writer of this post and the founder of, obviously believes that a Christian can be a libertarian. I, of course, agree with that answer. Being a Christian is all about a relationship with Christ and not about embracing a political ideology. It is true that there are Christians in conservative, liberal and libertarian circles.

My struggles, however, with libertarianism is about how passive and isolationist it appears to be - not only in foreign policy but in domestic policy as well. I heartily endorse the idea that we are our brothers keeper and Christians do well when we help the poor - both here and in other countries. And I heartily wish that people of faith would care for the poor so much that government assistance would not be required. But history teaches us that people of faith spend more on religious buildings and teachers than they do on the poor.

Now, for my libertarian leaning friends, I am not saying that I endorse a bloated entitlement driven federal government. All I am saying is that the answers to caring for the poor are complex and excluding governmental help may be a bit short sighted. And perhaps it is all about the kind of government that we, the people, want?

12 Predictions for 12

It really wouldn't be New Years Day if someone wasn't making resolutions or predictions. As I have given up on the making of resolutions I thought that I might weigh in and prognosticate a bit about the year ahead. Here goes:
  1. Chris Christie will be the GOP VP candidate.
  2. Charlie Sheen will return to Two and a Half Men.
  3. Google will unveil a major new piece of hardware.
  4. Harold Camping will not predict the end of the world.
  5. To the dismay of many, the Supreme Court will validate Obamacare.
  6. Sarah Palin, and other would be king makers, will endorse a GOP presidential candidate when it is safe to do so.
  7. Congress will stay the same - Dems will barely keep the Senate and the GOP will make gains in the House.
  8. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals will surprise us and have great seasons.
  9. The Iranian government will topple the way that the governments of Egypt and Libya did in 2011.
  10. The Kansas City School District will still be a big mess even though big changes are made.
  11. Iraq will be embroiled in a Civil War for much of the year and Obama will get the blame for it.
  12. A Mormon will shock the nation by winning the GOP nomination and the presidency.
Agree with any of my prognostications? Care to make any predictions of your own?

I wish you a blessed New Year that is filled with much love, peace and joy!