Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't blame the producers, the network, or any other "they"--it's due to one person only.

Robin tells me I need to add the term "spoiler alert."  So it is added--if you haven't watched the final episode of Downton Abbey Season 3, fair warning that there be spoilers ahead!!!  If you don't watch DA, you should.  Period.

Like many devotees of the show, I was left shocked and dismayed by the death of Matthew Crawley at the very end of Season 3 of Downton Abbey.  I've seen many people ask why "they" did this, as though it may have been the idea of the producers or the network to boot Dan Stevens off the show.  Turns out that, as sometimes happens, Mr. Stevens himself decided to end his run on DA so as not to be "monopolized" by the show, or type cast from the role.  Why do actors do this?  I ask myself, if my talents were somehow able to result in me riding on a money machine, wouldn't I let it run its course before deciding that my perch on the machine was too "confining"?  You bet your sweet patootie I would.  Just ask Will Wheaton how he feels about leaving Star Trek:The Next Generation after a few years to "pursue his career."  What career did poor Wesley end up having after TNG?  Not much of one.  At least, that's what he said in his old blog, which I used to follow.  

Anyways, farewell to Matthew.  He's saved the estate, regained his health, fallen in love, and provided an heir, so at least we are spared a repeat of some of the "cliffhangers" we've been treated to the past couple of seasons.  Now who will Lady Mary find, if anyone?

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Service to the Youth of America is No One's Political Football

Went to a meeting last evening of the local Scout Council's Executive Board that was too important to cancel.  In the 4 hours I was there, my car was covered with about 2.5 inches of snow.  On the Business 94 feeder into town, I narrowly averted running into a car that had spun out of control.  Let no one doubt my devotion to the youth of America.  We took care of important business, and learned more about the progress of the Michigan Area Project.  (;  This is important to me, as I had a role in conceptualizing the changes that are now being implemented.  Plus, I got to talk to some wonderful people.  

All this is a prelude to saying, if BSA changes its rules on membership and makes the chartering organization (which owns the unit it charters) responsible to decide who can be a leader in the unit that group sponsors, that's actually bringing the rules more into line with long-time practice in other areas.  I ask neither side to make this a political issue.  I don't expect lots of "liberals" to suddenly flock to Scouting, and I certainly hope no dedicated Scouter would consider this change grounds to end his or her service to youth.  I hope the change is made, I endorse it, but it will not change my participation in this great youth-serving, life saving, nation building movement one way or the other.  When either side tries to politicize the issue, or the movement, it cheapens what we Scouters do and makes me feel a bit tawdry.  

Hands off, crusaders for morality and crusaders for "civil rights."  Unless you want to join me at the next meeting in trying to do some good for youth, find another political football to kick around.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sum relegatae.

"I have been relegated."  In ancient Rome, when one incurred the displeasure of the Emperor, one possible punishment was relegation--exile for a period of time to a place away from Rome (usually--Claudius relegated some people who hated Rome to have to stay no further than 3 miles from the City--strange sense of humor, poor old Clau-Clau-Clau had), more or less dreary.  You kept all your property, and family and friends could go with you--you just couldn't go back until the period was over.  The Romans, for all their legendary bloodthirstiness, were not big fans of imposing capital punishment on other Romans.  Those who know me reasonably well, know why I feel relegated.

It's been suggested that I need to stop "coveting" my old role as Bishop.  Am I guilty of that?  I just feel completely lost and unwanted these days.  The calling of Bishop becomes a part of one, his identity, for years.  Then one week, a leader for whatever reason thinks "the time has come," and out one goes.  With every call comes a release, President Hinckley said, and as in most things, he was very wise in this observation.  But it is hard.  Many released Bishops become inactive or consider themselves pathetic has-beens.  None of that for me, just a little bitter, and a lot sad.  

When the release came, I prayed and prayed for comfort.  None has been forthcoming.  I've tried to address this with various people I expected would be sympathetic.  They have been remarkably less so than I had hoped.  I felt that at the time of release, I felt I was being asked to sacrifice my calling to the Lord.  I did, but not eagerly.  Mormon taught that a gift grudgingly given is of no avail.  Is that my problem?  My best friend told me today that I should be grateful that I had four years and eight months of service in that role that I felt I was "made for."  I'll try to concentrate on that.

Was I a perfect Bishop?  Heavens no, far from it.  But I did try very hard to do things right, and to please God and His people, and I think I did a reasonable job of that.  I was given an "honorable release" and a vote of thanks.  No plaque, no watch, no vacation to Bermuda.  Did I want those things?  No, but it's hard to get a sense of closure on things from a "vote of thanks."  I served the best that I was able.  Is that enough?  I wish I could feel enthusiastic about saying yes.  But I feel like some out of favor Senator, sitting on a rock on some Mediterranean beach, forlornly watching the ebb and flow of the tide and pining for Rome.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fiscal Chickenhawks

To all you "fiscal hawks" so obsessed about cutting government spending:  great idea!  Wish you'd been around during the spending "glory days" of 2001-2004!  Don't forget, "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."  But as for now, I'll start taking you seriously as soon as you identify exactly what spending you would cut.  How many F-35s do we really need at $300 million each?  Exactly whose Social Security should be cut; how much of a fee reduction should doctors take to fund Medicare cuts?  Which tax-subsidies should be done away--the subsidy of home mortgages?  Charitable contributions?  Oil exploration and production?  Should market rates be charged for mineral claims and grazing on public lands?  How many carrier task groups need to be operational in peacetime?   Because cutting funding for PBS and Amtrak and eliminating foreign aid might make you feel good by hurting the people you don't like, but they won't do much at all towards establishing real fiscal discipline.  What's that?--you won't identify where you would cut,  because it might make you unpopular and you might lose the next election?  Sounds like the whining of fiscal "chickenhawks" to me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's one for the history books

Well, all the election stuff is over for now..., wait, think again!  Yesterday I heard people talk about how there are so many "liberal" Senators up for reelection in 2014 and how now's the time to start sorting candidates for 2016 and all that blather.   Aieeee!  They just can't stop, it's like people who are addicted to some unpleasant substance.  Well, anyways, it's over for me, and for this blog.

I feel sorry for those who say the sky is falling, who see an election result as a sign of impending apocalypse.  They have been guzzling the kool-aid, haven't they?  It doesn't surprise me that many want to blame the right's loss on a candidate who was insufficiently pure.  Don't they ever stop?  Not while there is money to be made, I suppose.  The reverse Pauline Kael syndrome that I've seen makes me laugh, though.  She was the New York Times movie critic who supposedly said in 1972, "I can't believe that McGovern lost.  Everyone I know voted for him!"  (She denied saying that, by the way.)  If someone is shocked because "all their friends" were for Romney and hated Obama, that may say more about them than about the election.

Enough already!  Give it a rest.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reason 10--It doesn't add up

I simply do not believe that if Romney is elected, 12 million jobs will spring up like mushrooms after January 20.  If deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs, where have they been since 2001?  The Great Recession and the painfully slow recovery occurred because of, not in spite of, tax cuts and deregulation.  If voodoo economics worked, the Recession would not have happened.  Foolish deregulation of the financial sector was a disaster that makes Sandy look like a summer shower.  How people make money--doing so fairly and in accordance with the expectations of society--matters a great deal.  Regulation is needed to prevent the "haves" from rigging the economy to favor themselves.  Regulation is needed because the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the beginning.  There are few more "natural men" than predatory plutocrats.

I also don't believe that taxes on investment income should be eliminated, nor that capital gains taxes should be eliminated.  Ronald Reagan said that taxes on earned income--wages and salaries--should not be taxes at a higher rate than capital gains or investment income.  He was right.  I'm not a fan of the estate tax and believe it should be eliminated for estates of $5MM or less, but in place for larger estates to prevent excessive concentration of wealth.

Finally, I don't believe that Romney cares about anyone other than "winners" like himself and his sneering running mate.  They don't even really care about the 53% Romney talked to his money men about.  They trot out phoney lines like "a rising tide raises all boats" and "we built that" to reassure people that they want the middle class to succeed, but the reality is, they view the middle class like Henry Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" views the middle class.  Watch it some time and you'll see what I mean. 

Reason 9--Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is by himself enough reason for me to stick by the President.  Ryan is a disciple of Ayn Rand, the atheist apostle of selfishness, greed, and narcissism.  Some people are seduced by her version of the world, which is basically the same as Korihor's--one profits by one's own efforts, in a vacuum, alone, and one should do nothing for others, and force them to fend for themselves.  However Ryan dresses it up, this is the essence of his budget plan and the "Opportunity Economy" and "We built that" which he and Romney talk about.  In their perfect world, the economic "winner" takes all, regardless of how he contrived to "win", and it's every man for himself.  (Sorry, no pc version of that old saying quite captures it, and in the days when people really needed to jump into lifeboats to save themselves, "man" was understood to mean everyone.) 

This philosophy is the antithesis of the Gospel of Christ.  I'm surprised that a faithful member of God's Church would select a running mate with this kind of a philosophy.  Romney's doing so, and the philosophy itself, are insupportable.

Is Vice President Biden prone to unfortunate gaffes and hyperbole?  Yes, but he does not subscribe to a philosophy of the devil.  Ryan's philosophical lodestar is in my opinion an irredeemable evil.