Friday, February 28, 2014

QUINN ON MICHELLE OBAMA, RICK PERRY, NEW PLANETS, UKRAINE, AND THE OLYMPICS

2/28/14

Years ago, someone described one of my earlier blogs as being “eclectic,” which is a great word and ideally suited to describe the range of topics I tend to cover in my writing and in the course of my daily discourse.  I try to remain interested and conversant in a number of subjects, and this is one of the few endeavors in which I have largely succeeded in my life.

Now that yours truly has nearly broken his arm patting himself on the back, here is evidence of my eclecticity…this week’s posts on Rant Lifestyle (a site, I suspect, most people “read” for the pictures, as many of you have observed):

SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN TEXAS AND THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY
Contrary to popular belief, the essence of the Constitution is not “majority rules.”   At least in America, we believe, or at least used to believe, that rights are given by God and therefore are not subject to revocation by the voters.

NASA FINDS NEW PLANETS:  ARE THE ALIEN INVADERS ON THEIR WAY?
As many of you know, I am a lifelong devotee of The Twilight Zone, simply the best series in the history of television.  Admittedly, this is a low bar, but I digress.  At any rate, this enthusiasm for TZ shows in this post.

MICHELLE OBAMA TO KIDS:   YOU’LL GET WHAT I SAY YOU’LL GETAND LIKE IT!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it forever:  a politician with a messianic complex is far more dangerous than a pol with his hand in the till.

A UKRAINIAN SPRING? 
Sadly, this one’s coming true even as I write this.

2014 SOCHI WINTER OLYMPICS:  WE OWE THE RUSSIANS AN APOLOGY
Given my recent surfeit of Olympics posts, I was concerned about what I’d do for material when they ended.  Judging from this week, my fears were unfounded.

Have a great weekend, everybody.  More snow and it looks like more futility from the Hawkeyes, but maybe a resurgent Illini.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

QUINN ON WAL-MART, UKRAINE, MEL REYNOLDS, AND THE OLYMPICS

2/21/14

I’ve been busier than the proverbial one armed paper hanger of late, but I just keep on keepin’ on, as Gladys Knight used to say.  Writing always brings a smile to my face, and we all need some smiles in the midst of this dreary and brutal winter.  To that end, you might enjoy the following posts:

THE BUSINESS PLAN OF WAL-MART REVEALED!
So it was a lousy quarter; what I, and doubtless many of you, have discerned as Wal-Mart’s business plan will keep it on the road to world domination.

THE PREDICTABLE OUTCOME OF THE TIME OF TROUBLES IN UKRAINE
This one won’t make you smile, but at least it looks as if things at least have a chance of winding down in Kiev.  Maybe.

FORMER CONGRESSMAN MEL REYNOLDS ACCUSED OF BEING A BI-CONTINENTAL PERVERT
What is it about Congresspersons from the 2nd Congressional district in Illinois?  But, breaking news:  it looks like the Mel man’s porn charges have been dropped and he may (and only may) soon be free to work his “business deals” again.   Business deals indeed.

SOCHI OLYMPICS:  WHAT, NO STARBUCKS…OR POST 2016 REVENUE?
The athletes aren’t complaining, but the media, predictably, finds plenty to whine about in Sochi.    This post also puts that $50 billion plus spent on the Games in perspective.

THE SOCHI OLYMPICS:  ABOUT THOSE COMMERCIALS…
At what point did those of you who are watching a lot of the Olympics get tired of seeing the same commercials…over and over and over again?   This post is good, but it gets great when I start talking about the second BMW commercial (i.e., in which the floozy gets in the car and propositions the driver), which would have been a third bullet point had it not been for the efforts of Rant’s editor.


Have a great weekend, everybody.  Falling girders in the Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN spared the Quinn family a huge conflict of interest last week.  But this weekend’s Big 10 action looks good.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

QUINN ON CHICAGO SNOW, PRIUS RECALLS, DOOM AND GLOOM, DAN RUTHERFORD, AND THE OLYMPICS

2/13/14

I don’t know where I’m finding the time to do all this writing, but I realize that if I don’t write I don’t feel right (no pun intended), so I make the time.   This week featured an eclectic batch of posts…

A QUICK SOLUTIONS FOR ALL THAT SNOW IN CHICAGO
Here’s a sure fire way for the city of Chicago to get enough salt for a winter with 500, 600, or even 1,000 inches of snow.

TOYOTA RECALLS 1.9 MILLION PRII:  WHAT’S GOIN’ ON?
Toyota and its shareholders need not worry about this problem, but all hybrid manufacturers may soon face a challenge that few are discussing.

DEATH, DOOM, AND DESPAIR?   YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!
While I have little confidence in anyone’s, including my own, ability to make good market and/or economic calls, the economy makes me nervous.  Here I present seven, or maybe six and a half, reasons for concern.

SALACIOUS SEX CHARGES IN THE ILLINOIS PRIMARY…AND IT’S STILL NOT INTERESTING
Regardless of their degree of veracity, these lurid tales of Dan Rutherford’s alleged extracurricular activities are attracting attention to the GOP “race” for the gubernatorial nomination.  But even these stories can’t make the race interesting.

THE SOCHI GAMES:   “YOU CAN’T EXPECT A BUNCH OF IGNORANT PEONS TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING AS COMPLEX AS (THE OLYMPICS)”
The editors renamed this piece, but do you remember General Buck Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? (yours truly’s third favorite movie of all time, by the way) The American media sound like him when they comment on the Sochi Games.

I haven’t been to the Auto Show yet this year; the days of four or more visits to that outstanding exhibition are long behind me.  But when I get there, I may have some more material.

Everybody have a good weekend and enjoy the Olympics.  Until I met my wife, I wouldn’t have spent five minutes watching the Games…and now I’m a fan.  It’s amazing what the love of a good woman can do to a guy.


And, speaking of…happy and blessed Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

See my two books, The Chairman, A Novel of Big City Politics and The Chairman’s Challenge, A Continuing Novel of Big City Politics, for further illumination on how things work in Chicago and Illinois politics. 

QUINN ON OBAMACARE, R.J. VANECKO, CAR SALES, AND PETE SEEGER

2/7/14

I put up only four posts at Rant Lifestyle this week , but the range of topics was wide and the quality of writing was spectacular, is I can say so myself….


OBAMACARE AND WORK FORCE PARTICIPATION:  “I’LL WORK FOR YOU, I’LL SLAVE FOR YOU…”
This isn’t necessarily a pro-Obamacare piece, but the Republicans ought to be very careful about which aspects of the Affordable Care Act they attack.  Once the label of “Obamacare” is removed, many of the provisions of this law are very popular …and deservedly so. 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF R.J. VANECKO:   JUSTICE DELAYED…AND DENIED…CHICAGO STYLE
The Chicago articles are not so popular in a nationwide site like Rant Lifestyle, but I’ll continue to write about Chicago politics as long as my mind and fingers work.   This particular article is one of the best I have ever written, by the way.


January Car Sales:  “I Ain’t Got Time To Discuss The Weather, Or How Long It’s Gonna Last…”
This is one of those articles that could conceivably make you some money.  Most of the experts were way too enthusiastic about car sales coming into this year and now are blaming the weather.  We shall see.


Pete Seeger:   “Just Talk About Folk Music And Civil Rights And They’re Yours!”
Was Pete Seeger a hero, a hypocrite, a fraud, or a visionary?   Remember, only speak well of the recently dead.  And I have to tell you that, since Mr. Seeger died, I can get neither Trini Lopez’s version of “If I Had a Hammer” nor the great Johnny Rivers’ version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” out of my head.


The weather has not only been abominable but has kept us away from Iowa City, our daughter, and live Hawkeye basketball.  Our boys face the Wolverines this weekend in Iowa City, but we’ll have to watch on television.   The money we save by staying home acts as a salve, though.


Have a great weekend.

See my two books, The Chairman, A Novel of Big City Politics and The Chairman’s Challenge, A Continuing Novel of Big City Politics, for further illumination on how things work in Chicago and Illinois politics. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

QUINN ON CLERGY SEX ABUSE, OBAMA’S myRA SCHEME, AND THE U.S. OVERSTEPPING ITS BOUNDS…AGAIN.

1/31/14

My posts continue as the sane and sober counterpoints to the typical titillations and pop culture updates that otherwise characterize Rant Lifestyle.   The combination seems to be nearly as disjunctive as marshmallow soup, but we’ll see how this works out.   I have to say that my colleagues’ articles certainly draw readers (or viewers, I am sure, for many of the posts; e.g., “The Hottest Daughters of Rock Stars” and “The 10 Most Beautiful Women at the Detroit Auto Show,” and these are milder fare at the site) to the site, so maybe all this will work out.

This week’s fare from my end included

Obama’s myRA Scheme:   Countering The “Livin’ On Money That I Ain’t Made Yet” Attitude?
Even those of you who might not find the subject matter compelling will find this one of my best, and entertainingly, written pieces in awhile.

The United States To Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:  Don’t Go There
We used to be appalled that the Soviets told their satellites what to do.   The geopolitical mirror may not look so good now.

Hamid Karzai:   “Feel the (Country) Breakin’ and Everybody Shakin’ and We’re Stayin’ Alive”
What’s an installed guy to do when the installers head for the door?

“Bishop” Raymond Goedert And Clergy Sex Abuse:  “We Have Done What We Were Obliged To Do.” 
I found the Archdiocese’s released documents on clergy sex abuse especially interesting, and sickening, because some of the cited creepiness, or far worse, allegedly took place in the rectory of St. Walter Parish on the far south side in 1970 and 1971; I am a 1971 graduate of that proud parish.  This post does not relate to those particular episodes, but goes to perhaps a more salient sin of the Church.  “Bishop” Goedert (I’m having a hard time calling the man “Bishop.”), by the way, was ensconced at a neighboring parish, in which we later lived, during some of the period discussed in this piece, so his juggling act sort of hits home as well, though not nearly as much as the shenanigans going on, unbeknownst to most of us, at St. Walter.

Have a great weekend, everybody.  Alas, the Hawkeye loss to the Spartans Tuesday night has relegated Iowa to the second tier of Big 10 basketball, but the second tier of the Big 10 is not such a bad place to be this season.

Mark




Monday, November 18, 2013

HATS OFF TO CARDINAL GEORGE: GAY MARRIAGE, PICKING FIGHTS, AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS

11/18/13

In a letter distributed through the 11/11 parish bulletins to all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George reiterated his stance on same sex marriage; i.e., he said that the law passed by the Illinois legislature legalizing such unions “will contribute over the long run to the further dissolution of marriage and family life, which are the bedrock of any society.”

No surprise there.  But it was his proclamation that

“We have lived with bad laws before, and we will do our best to adjust to this one for the sake of social harmony.”

that was amazing.

Depending on where one stands on the issue of gay marriage, this is either profound progress or outright surrender on the part of the Cardinal.   No matter where one stands on the issue, however, one has to be shocked by the Cardinal’s concession to social harmony and has to ask one’s self what happened to bring about such a change in the Cardinal’s attitude.  Perhaps Pope Francis talked with the Cardinal and his colleagues about framing one’s opposition to gay marriage or maybe Cardinal George and his confreres simply got the message that, yes, opposition to gay marriage remains a tenet of the faith but that how one opposes gay marriage, or stands up for any of the Church’s beliefs, has consequences for the Church, for the world, and for fulfilling our missions as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Note that the Cardinal minced no words in decrying gay marriage as an assault on the bedrock of society.   So some of those who share his belief that such unions are abominations before God are doubtless confused, angry, or both.  Why, they might ask, isn’t the Cardinal standing up for his beliefs and the beliefs of the Church?  Is he backing down just to keep the peace?  If so, wouldn’t that run counter to the way the Cardinal, and the Church, normally operates?   They might even argue that Jesus never backed down.   Jesus stood up for what He believed in regardless of the consequences; after all, that is what got Him crucified and, ultimately, what led to our salvation.

Those who make that argument are for the most part correct; Jesus did stand up for what he believed.  But He also picked his fights carefully.  When it really mattered, he fought, fought hard, and suffered the consequences.  But discretion was often the better part of valor for Jesus.  He didn’t fight for the sake of fighting; that would be very unlike Him, though not, it would appear, unlike many in the Church hierarchy, but I digress.  And when it didn’t really matter, or didn’t matter all that much, Jesus didn’t bother.  It simply didn’t make sense to make enemies over tangential issues.  

The best example of this can be found in Matthew 17, 24-27.  The collectors of the temple tax asked Peter if Peter’s “teacher” (Jesus) paid the temple tax.   Peter, being the impetuous guy he was (see my 11/21/12 piece, WAS ST. PETER AN ALCOHOLIC?), first answered “yes”… and then checked with his teacher.  Jesus first firmly made the point that He and his disciples, the “subjects” of the kingdom of God, are exempt from paying the temple tax.  But then he went on to say

But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up.  Open its mouth, and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.  Give that to them for me and for you.”  (emphasis mine) Matthew 17, 27

This is more than an entertaining, humorous, some might say cute, story.  And, like every miracle story, it tells us a lot more than that Jesus was capable of doing miracles. 

The story was designed to tell the people for whom Matthew wrote, largely Jewish Christians, that, yes, as Christians they indeed no longer had to pay the temple tax.  They were no longer subject to the law and rarely, if ever, worshipped in the temple, and thus were under no obligation to pay for the temple’s upkeep.  But, even though members of Matthew’s congregation, if you will, were under no obligation to pay the temple tax, they should do so anyway because it wasn’t worth the fight, wasn’t worth the price they’d pay just to make an ancillary point.  Why make the Jewish authorities angry over something that, in the great scheme of things, wasn’t all that important?   Did it make sense to antagonize devout Jews, or even not all that devout Jews, and thus lose any chance of winning them over to Christianity, just to make a point about something that didn’t go to the core of the faith?

While some might argue about whether civil gay marriage goes to the core of the faith, the message that Matthew and Jesus were sending to the early Jewish Christians is the same message that Jesus is sending us today:   Don’t sweat the small stuff.   Even if you are right, is it worth it in the larger scheme of things to send a message of intolerance to our brothers and sisters in Christ?   Wouldn’t we be better off promoting harmony among our brothers and sisters than we would be promoting misunderstanding, and even hatred, by standing firm in order to make a point?

Yours truly, for one, applauds the Cardinal on his desire to promote harmony rather than make a point on civil same sex marriage.  That I feel that civil same sex marriage is, at best, an ancillary issue for the Church doubtless contributes to my warm feelings toward the Cardinal’s new approach.  What is important is the greater emphasis the Cardinal places on promoting harmony in society, which is without a doubt one of our duties as followers of Jesus Christ and indeed goes to the core of our faith.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

IMITATIONS OF CHRIST: THE FIRST THING YOU’RE GOING TO NEED IS A $21,000 BATH TUB

10/24/13

Pope Francis suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of the German diocese of Limburg yesterday.  No, the Pope did not suspend Mr. Tebartz van-Elst for displaying a lack of economy in the use of words and letters in his name.  The Pope suspended this popinjay for gaudy, tacky, extravagant displays of wealth, the most salient of which was a $42 million upgrade to his residence, which included such emulations of the life of Jesus as a $21,000 bath tub.




Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz’s defenders, and there are many, argue that the good Bishop’s residence included a conference center and offices; the entire $42 million wasn’t spent on the bishop’s residence.   Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz’s defenders actually make this argument with a straight face, as if every mid-sized diocese needs a $42 million conference center in its bishop’s residence.   Such inane defenses leads one to ask not why Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz was suspended but, rather, why the suspension was limited to him, who differs only in degree from many (Yours truly is comfortable saying “most.”) of his brethren in the worldwide conference of bishops of the Church.

The silly and showy spending of the likes of Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz is one of the Church’s most glaring scandals for a number of reasons.   The bishops, like all Catholics, indeed, all Christians, are here to imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   We don’t know exactly what imitation of Christ means in today’s world, especially as it relates to the acquisition and application of material goods.  While Jesus tells us what it means (Matthew 6, 25-34, which includes (31-33)….

“So do not worry and say ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek   Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given you besides”.),

we have a difficult time applying these assurances and admonitions to our modern, complicated world.   But we do know two things about emulating Christ.  First, we all fall short in this pursuit.  Second, emulating Christ does not involve $42 million houses and $21,000 bath tubs.

Further, from a purely practical standpoint, the behavior of Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz and the legions of his brother bishops who doubtless wish they, too, could attain such heights of tackiness and phony elegance is scandalous to the Church for financial reasons beyond the obvious.   Simply put, people understandably have a hard time giving money to people who live better than they do.   When they see such poltroons as Tebartz-van Eltz living in opulence, they start to wonder where exactly their money is going.  Again, such, er, upscale lifestyles among churchmen is not at al unique to Tebartz-van Eltz.  To use an example that hits close to home, Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago, lives in the most expensive single family home in the city of Chicago.  Why?   Don’t think people don’t take such things into consideration when they are deciding how much, or even if, to give to the Church.

Finally, forget about spending other people’s money.   Any person, but especially any man, who spends such vast amounts of even his own money on his clothes, home, cars, or other trappings of wealth is a fool, a narcissistic fop who deserves not respect, or even consideration, but only ridicule and abuse.  His utter lack of judgment regarding the spending of money betrays an utter lack of judgment on any other matter, perhaps especially matters of faith. 

To have Cardinals, bishops, and priests parading around in foppish finery, living in over the top rectories and “bishops’ residences,” and being chauffeured around in luxury cars invites both the type of reasoned questioning, and outright sarcastic ridicule, to which the Church is being currently subjected.  The Church has brought such treatment upon  itself and the Pope is trying to correct that.   Hopefully the suspension of the idiotic poltroon in Limburg who calls himself a man of God is only the first such step in that direction.

As I’ve said before though, the Pope is putting himself in danger, perhaps grave danger, by taking a stand against the excesses displayed by his brother bishops.  (See Easter Sunday’s “(OUR NEW AND WONDERFUL PAPA) HAS POWERFUL ENEMIES”.)  The Holy Father is already under attack by the vast elements in the Church and its hierarchy who have no problem with bishops’ living like Middle Eastern suzerains.  Indeed, it is not too much to say that many in the hierarchy entered their profession (That’s the right noun; for such fops, the Church is not a calling but a profession.) not to serve Christ but rather to live like Herod.  Their line of attack, steadily building momentum, will eventually evolve into an argument that Francis is not the “real” Pope, that the “real” Pope remains Benedict XVI (See 9/19/13’s  POPE FRANCIS: WHAT WILL THE “TRADITIONALISTS” DO ABOUT THIS CRAZY MAN?), the man who was so fond of his red Prada shoes and who never missed a chance to parade around in finery that a Russian czar would envy.  And who knows where it will go from there? These are many ruthless, Godless people who inhabit the Church hierarchy who don’t like people like Francis interfering with the “fine lifestyles” they think they have built for themselves.



Pope Francis, a good and saintly man, needs our prayers…and God’s protection.