Saturday, May 30, 2009

Original conservative thought, and other myths

You know those lame e-mails that miscreants send around about your favorite politicians? Those screeds filled with "facts" -- most of which are easily debunked -- that clog your inbox during election season? Of course you do. You probably got more than your share of them about Obama or McCain or Palin last fall. I even wrote about the phenomenon, and did a little research that indicated that Obama was the target of about six times as many false attacks as McCain in the accountability-free world of e-mail land.

I recently got another one of those screeds from one of my most reliable right-wing trolls, purporting to compare the "gaffes" of Obama's first 120 days with the record of one George W. Bush. You might have received this e-mail too. It's been posted repeatedly on right-wing websites and in online discussion forums the past week or two.

Well, apparently the editors of the Las Vegas Review-Journal don't get out much, or they don't have any right-wing friends, or they don't read right-wing political sites, because they just printed the very same comparison as a letter to the editor on Friday. Some local genius named Warren Willis Sr. did the old cut-and-paste thing and sent it almost verbatim to the R-J, and the paragons of journalistic virtue ran it as the top letter in Friday's editorial page.

I'm not even here to debate the content of the letter -- it points out some of Obama's inevitable and regrettable missteps, blows a few others out of proportion, but seems to endorse the idea that Bush's record of incompetence, corporate cronyism, fiscal malfeasance and utter disregard for the truth compares favorably to four months of Barack Obama in the White House.

My point is that either the R-J can't differentiate between a recycled e-mail rant and legitimate, original political criticism, or they didn't have anything better to run in its place. Either way, it's a sad statement on the journalistic ethics or competence of the R-J's editorial board and opinion page staff. Nice going, Sherm.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

30 years

Note: I posted this to all my cousins on Facebook today. I'm the second-oldest of 18 cousins on my dad's side, and I was 10 when my grandfather died on May 24, 1979. As such, most of my cousins didn't really get to know him all that well, if at all. So I felt compelled to write this and share it with them today. RIP, Grandpa.

My cousins -- today is the 30th anniversary of the death of our grandfather, Thomas Patrick Donnelly Sr. If you get a chance, give your parents a quick call because he will probably be on their minds today.

I know most of you don't remember him much if at all, but I was lucky enough to have had him around for the first 10 years of my life, and I kinda feel like I owe it to you all to let you get to know him a little bit better.

From my little-kid perspective, he was a HUGE man -- he might have been only like 6-foot-2 (not sure, ask your parents!) but his personality was massive. He had a deep, booming voice and a loud, roaring laugh, and with that thick shock of white hair and a perpetual twinkle in his eyes, he was the center of attention in any room he entered.

From what I remember, he loved kids and cats and crossword puzzles, not to mention trains and painting and of course Grandma. He had countless friends and seemed to make new ones every day. And when my dad got MS, Grandpa was the one who kept him from sinking too low, from completely giving up. It was Grandpa who told my dad he had to keep fighting, no matter how hard or painful it got, because he had a wife and two young sons who needed him. It was Grandpa who basically said, "You WILL recover, dammit, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise." If you ever wonder where you got your stubborn streak, it was from Grandpa.

It certainly was a shock to lose him so young, just three weeks before his 64th birthday. I know he would have enjoyed spending time with you all -- buying you comic books, sneaking a cookie from the jar with you, pretending to pick you up by your ears just to get a rise out of Grandma, all the things he loved to do with my brother and me. And I know I would've loved to have gotten to know him as an adult too.

I never knew my other grandpa, and thus have always felt at most somewhat ambivalent toward him or his memory, so for those of you who didn't know TPD Sr., I wanted to share my memories today so that maybe you can feel a bit closer in some way to your grandfather. He was a great man and I still miss him, and today's the perfect time to ask your parents -- his children -- about him if you can.

Happy Memorial Day,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the head

Great piece by E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post this week, commenting on the Obama speech at Notre Dame's commencement ceremonies. You really should read the whole thing if you're interested in how the left and right can find common ground on cultural issues, but if you've only got time for the highlights, here's one:

Obama was as explicit in talking about his faith as George W. Bush ever was about his own but with distinctly different inflections and conclusions.

The former president often emphasized the comfort and certainty he drew from his religious beliefs. Obama said that "the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt."

"This doubt should not push away our faith," Obama preached. "But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, cause us to be wary of too much self-righteousness." It was a quietly pointed response to his critics.

To me, that perfectly summarizes what has always bugged me about the born-again crowd -- to them, religion = certainty. But if you are certain of something, is it really a matter of faith?

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance." And that's what faith is about to me -- it's about hope, the promise of salvation, not a smug sense of certainty that I'm right and the rest of you are going to Hell if you don't believe what I do.

I know I don't have all the answers, but I have faith that I'm on the right path. It's a long road to where we're going -- let's hope we all get there together.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"However, I AM in line to the throne ..."

Overheard this evening as Kris was trying to get Nora to bed:

"No, I'm NOT the Queen of Dawdling!"

I'll let you figure out which one said it.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Me likey the McHale

Joel, that is . Here's a trailer for his new comedy series, coming to NBC this fall. Even Chevy looks funny in this! I also love me some John Oliver.