Mark Shields, longtime voice of reason has passed

For the longest time, my Friday ritual was to end the news week watching the commentary of conservative minded David Brooks and liberal minded Mark Shields. Their banter exemplified the civil discourse of their host PBS NewsHour, whether the discussion was led by Judy Woodruff or the now deceased Gwen Ifill or Jim Lehrer.

Sadly, I learned Mark Shields passed away last week. Shields was an affable historian and shared his opinion and added context to any discussion. He commented on PBS NewsHour for thirty-three years, the last twenty of which with Brooks. As Brooks noted in a piece in The New York Times:

“We’ve had thousands of disagreements over the years, but never a second of acrimony. Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light.” We all could learn from this.

Judy Woodruff, “PBS NewsHour” anchor and managing editor, tweeted that she was ”heartbroken” to share the news of Shields’ death, and noted his wife Anne was at his side at his death. For decades, she said, Shields “wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart.”

Shields retired from the show a couple of years ago. Brooks would continue on with the terrific Jonathan Capeheart, but it is not the same. It is like one of a long time couple has passed and the new spouse is nice, but you don’t have history with the person. Rest in peace, Mark Shields. You were one of our lights on the hill.

The First Lady – a terrific miniseries

My wife and I just completed watching the wonderful Showtime ten-part miniseries called “The First Lady” which highlights the lives of three first ladies. The first season focused on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama as it flipped back to each First Lady and various points in her life. I hope there is a next season which will likely focus on three more women.

Gillian Anderson does a superb job as Roosevelt, while Michelle Pfeiffer and Viola Davis do the same with Ford and Obama. Roosevelt has the most screen time as she was First Lady for twelve years and went on to serve as the US lead delegate to the formation of the United Nations. Yet, we do see a lot of the other two who had their own sets of challenges.

Ford was beloved by Americans more so than her husband. She counseled him not to pardon Richard Nixon which turned out to be a key reason he was not reelected. But, she was also addicted first to alcohol and then pain-killers. It got so bad her family had to do a full on intervention. She at first hated her daughter for being the first one to try, but when Gerald Ford saw how bad it had gotten, he upped the ante. Ford would go on to establish the Betty Ford Center to help addicted people.

Obama had major challenges as did her husband being the first African-American woman First Lady. The racism she faced her entire life could not totally prepare her for the full on racism she would face as First Lady. We see the tensions between her and Rahm Emanuel as he tries to rein her in as her husband danced a finer line so as not to alienate white voters. And, we see a beleaguered Hillary Clinton ask for help on her campaign to stave off the attacks of the next president in the campaign.

Kiefer Sutherland plays FDR, with Aaron Eckhart playing Ford and O-T Fagbenie playing Obama. Dakota Fanning gets a lot of airtime as Susan Ford, the daughter who tried to help her mother first. Regina Taylor and Lexi Underwood play Michelle’s mother and Malia her daughter. And, Lily Rabe plays a key role in Lorena Hickock addressing full on the rumors of Eleanor’s Lesbian relationship after having six kids and her husband’s infidelity.

While each President leaned on his wife for help, Roosevelt was very much an advisor to her husband. FDR knew she would shoot straight with him. Even though each had other lovers, they were friends and confidantes. She also helped shape some of his speeches and because of her weekly radio broadcast, FDR had her be the first person to address Americans after Pearl Harbor. Finally, since he could not get out and about with his wheelchair, FDR had Eleanor be his arms and legs as well to visit some places like Australia during WWII to see the wounded and fighting troops.

The series is well done. I have seen some criticism, but to me it was entertaining and informative, even though it takes some liberties with the truth as it claims from the outset. We look forward to the next season.

Another Saturday night – and songs of loneliness

In deference to Cat Stevens, it was the legendary Sam Cooke who made this song soar. Here is the first stanza that sets the stage for being lonely on yet another Saturday night.

“Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
I got some money ’cause i just got paid
How I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in an awful way”

Loneliness is a common theme of ballads. I was watching an excellent documentary on Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys last night. The parts that stood out to me are when Elton John and Bruce Springsteen repeatedly sang his praises of musicality and wordmanship. His brothers Carl and Dennis sang praises of their tortured brother as well and it is apparent the love they had for each other.

Elton said something interesting that when Wilson expanded his horizons and wrote deeper and richer songs, it of course brought out more emotional and poignant lyrics. The instrumentation on “God only knows” which he asked his brother Carl to sing the lead is far more complex than the simple sound, to the extent the studio producer does not know how he did it. Both Elton and Bruce spoke of how they wore out “In my room” which Brian speaks of a safe haven.

Loneliness, love, spirituality, security, et al are emotions that are all over his later songs. Yet, he was indeed a tortured soul suffering from Schizoid Affective Disorder. Even in the documentary, riding in a car with a friend doing the interview, Wilson was anxious and scared. He did and does hear voices. He was depressed. He was also taken advantage by a controlling counselor for nine years who would not let him talk to his own family.

Yet, he was Mozart-like in his writing. The one thing that drove him beyond the love of music was competition. Competition with other song writers like Lennon and McCartney, but with himself as well.

Back to Sam Cooke and his song about a man with money to spend, but no one to spend it with. I think we all are lonely souls to some degree. The number of songs that speak to this are immense. Brian wrote “God only knows what I’d be without you.” We may not be able to find a “you” but we should not give up trying.

One of my favorite songs about loneliness is the story of “A Better Place to Be” by Harry Chapin. Here is the close to the song, a conversation between two lonely people:

“You know the waitress took her bar rag
And she wiped it across her eyes
And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh
She said, “I wish that I was beautiful or that you were halfway blind
And I wish I weren’t so goddamned fat, I wish that you were mine
And I wish that you’d come with me when I leave for home
For we both know all about emptiness and livin’ all alone”

And the little man
Looked at the empty glass in his hand
And he smiled a crooked grin
He said, “I guess I’m out of gin
And I know we both have been so lonely

And if you want me to come with you that’s all right with me
‘Cause I know I’m goin’ nowhere and anywhere’s a better place to be”

So, when you speak to someone in a store or on the street, you may be speaking to someone who does not have many conversations. I wrote recently about The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Let’s try not to let people die alone. Reach out. I remember the story of a homeless man who started crying when a woman spoke to him – you see she was the first person to speak to him in over a month. Think about that.

Summer of 1969 – a few things to remember (a reprise)

Last week, our friend Jill posted a more detail write-up (link at end) on Brian Adams’ song “Summer of ’69′” that is worth the read. At the back end of the following repeat post I made during the year’s 50th anniversary, there are few paragraphs on events during that year.

While 1968 was a year of significant occurrences, we are now reflecting on the events of fifity years ago in 1969. Bryan Adams sang of this year from a personal standpoint in “Summer of ’69,” so it is a great way to kick off:

“I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it till my fingers bled
It was the summer of ’69
Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit and Jody got married
I should’ve known we’d never get far
Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Ya I’d always want to be there
Those were the best days of my life”

This song was penned by Adams and James Douglas Vallance and reveals how the band was so important to the life of the singer. Yet, I find of interest how he interjects how life rears its head and alters the dreams. I do not know how autobiographical the song is, but I am glad Adams stuck with it, as he has crafted and performed many memorable songs.

Fifty years ago, we saw the final straw that caused action to occur on environmental protection. Following the reaction to Rachel Carson’s push with ‘Silent Spring,” the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire as it was so polluted by chemical dumping. Seeing this in retrospect, it amazes me that companies would dump or drain chemical run-off into a river and be surprised by the result. Within six months, President Nixon inked the law to create the Environmental Protection Agency, one of his two greatest accomplishments (opening dialogue with China was the other).

Later this summer, we will reflect on Neil Armstrong taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he is the first human to walk on the moon. Buzz Aldrin would soon join him for a lunar walkabout. These actions opened up science as a possible career for many young people and it also showed us that we are mere occupants on our planet. So, it is crucial we take care of where we live for our children and grandchildren. Maybe this helped provide additional context for enacting the EPA.

In August, will be the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock where 300,000 or so people ventured to a farm in upstate New York for a three day concert. This event still amazes me and I am intrigued by a friend’s recounting of what happened as he was there as a young college student. From his view, he remembers there were so many people, things like food, water and restrooms were dear. He recalls making food runs for people. The music and atmosphere were wonderful, but the challenges are overlooked in memory.

Finally, people who do not follow baseball or football will yawn, but this was the year of two huge upsets, which in actuality, should not have been as surprising. In January, Broadway Joe Namath led the New York Jets over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl. Namath had bragged that they would win the game the preceding week, but what many failed to realize, Namath had a terrific set of receivers and two of the best running backs in the game. This win led to the merger of two rival football leagues.

In October, the New York Mets easily won the baseball World Series over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles (it was a tough year for Baltimore fans). For the first part of the decade, the new Mets were the worst team in baseball. What was underestimated by the Orioles is the Mets had two future Hall of Fame pitchers – Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and another excellent one in Jerry Koosman. Good pitching will beat good hitting almost every time. I mention these two events as when you look under the hood, the outcomes are less surprising, even though they were at the time.

The decade ended with two eventful years. Unfortunately, the US remained in Vietnam fighting a war which, we learned later, we knew we could not win. Many Americans and Vietnamese died, as a result fighting a war that would last several more years. We should remember people die in wars, before we go out and fight another one. As a Vietnamese soldier said in Ken Burns’ documentary on the war, people who feel they can win a war, have never fought in one.

More movies to take a peek at

Here are a few more movies that I have enjoyed watching to varying degrees. Most of these were found on the free-service Tubi, but a few came from HBO and Showtime.

“Once upon a river” starring Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, Tataka Means, Ajuawak Kapashasit, Coburn Gross, Lindsey Pulsipher and Kenn Head is about a half Native American teen whose father is killed. She travels up river to find her mother who left several years before. She befriends an elderly man who gives her shelter on her journey. The movie is compelling in the uphill struggle for this disenfranchised young woman as she seeks help.

“Nothing special” starring Julia Garcia Combs, Karen Black, Barbara Bain and David Hardie is about a woman (Garcia Combs) who is having difficulty taking care of her bipolar mother (Black) while trying to serve a demanding, but supportive boss (Bains) and find time for some kind of love life. The three lead women are each excellent in their roles. You feel for this young woman as she comes close to her wits end.

“Small town crimes” underlines what an imperfect hero looks like. John Hawkes is excellent as a suspended, alcohol and drug addicted cop trying to solve a murder case as an unregistered private investigator. Anthony Anderson and Octavia Spencer are his only support, with Spencer playing his foster sister. Michael Voltan, Clifton Collins, and Robert Frasler play key roles.

“Peaks and valleys” starring Kitty Mahoney, Kevin T. Bennett and Ted Carney is also excellent as it shows Bennett taking care of a woman in a mountain cabin after he witnesses her body being cast out of a small plane into a lake. This cantankerous man nurses her back to health and teaches her how to hunt and fish. She will return the favor as his own issues become apparent. Given the verbal volleying back and forth, the movie remains interesting.

“Road to Perth” starring Tommy O’Brien, Hannah Lehman, Ellen Grimshaw and Kat Kaevich is an Australian movie about an American who travels alone after his girlfriend declines his marriage proposal. He is intent on taking pictures and interviewing Australians along his journey. He befriends and gives a ride from Adelaide to Perth to a woman who is the sister of an internet friend as she scatters her Dad’s ashes in places he held dear. Along the way, he speaks by phone with his own sister who offers milepost check-ins as the travelers become mutually infatuated.

“The Honeymooners” (not that one) starring Jonathan Byrne, Alex Reid, Justine Mitchell and Conner Mullen is an Irish film about a man who gets stood up at his wedding (at least she tells him) and after drinking too much of his wedding champagne pays a waitress who just got fired (and whose married boyfriend can’t be with her) to drive him to a cottage on the coast. They butt heads often and the say hurtful things,but do have enough fun and good conversation as their hard feelings soften. Like the “Road to Perth,” the movies are more about the journey and travails, where two people in angst can lift each other up.

“Wanderland” starring Tate Ellington, Tara Summers, Victoria Clark, Harris Yulin and a host of others is about a relatively rational man who accepts an invitation to house sit over a weekend in a Long Island coastal village. He befriends a charming woman on the beach and she invites him to a party later, which he surprisingly declines, but we learn later he too often says no. So, he goes from party to party meeting a wide assortment of characters as he tries to track down this woman . The name of the movie connotes wandering, but the similarities to a male Alice in Wonderland are not unfounded. His journey and the bohemian characters make you want to watch.

“Jackie and Ryan” starring Katherine Heigl, Ben Barnes and Emily Alyn Lind is about a hobo traveling musician trying to put a band back together. He winds up in a beautiful mountain town and befriends a woman who has had success as a musician, but has moved back home with her daughter to live with her mother as she is finalizing her divorce. The movie is a little trite, but the music is good and we learn Heigl can sing, especially with a lovely duet with her daughter played by Lind. Barnes also sings a poignant song that he is encouraged to finish by Heigl.

“Bonneville” starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Allen, Christine Baranski and Tom Skerrit offers an interesting road trip plot as Lange takes her husband’s ashes to a funeral arranged by her step-daughter. “Surviving love” stars actual life married couple Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen as they get stranded in the Maine mountains and is worth the watch. “Christmas Eve” with Loretta Young, Arthur Hill and Trevor Howard offers a cheesy, but feel good movie about a dying woman wanting to see her grandchildren who escaped from her controlling son’s grip. Finally, we just watched “Being Rose” with Cybil Shepherd and James Brolin who play late in life lovers as Shepherd is dying.

Each of these movies is worth the watch and I don’t think any have things that are too risque for younger eyes, even the two jilted lover stories, although the adult themes and language on some may need to be factored in. The ones in the final paragraph are neat as they give a glimpse of actors who are later in their careers. Let me know if you have seen any of these.

Sunday mornin’ coming down

One of the best songs written by Kris Kristofferson is the title of this post – “Sunday mornin’ coming down.” The song is largely about the loneliness of Sunday morning after a night of drinking, smoking and partying. Here is the chorus:

“On the Sunday morning sidewalks
Wishing lord that I was stoned
‘Cause there is something in a sunday
That makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down”

I wanted to use this song to portray while we are alone, we crave being social with a group of people. The Greek language has a word for this called ‘thumos” which means a desire to belong and be recognized. When we don’t have those things, we can get awful lonely.

One of the saddest ballads happens to be one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, “Eleanor Rigby.” It tells a story of a lonely woman of that name dying and being buried by a lonely priest named Father McKenzie. Here are the final stanza and chorus to the song which tells you all you need to know:

“Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?”

I use these two examples, as we humans will join groups that may be not the kind of groups we should belong to. We do that to just avoid being lonely. We do that because someone or group is paying attention to me. These groups of extremists actually prey on lonely people telling them “The Others” are the reason for their lot in life. They turn loneliness and disenfranchisement into fear. This groupthink is alluring as well as palliative.

It is hard to break through the shell that is created to protect its members. Bill Maher calls it the “bubble.” He said it is hard to get factual information inside the bubble, as the members of the group don’t want to hear contrary information. Once these folks have drunk the Kool-Aid, it is often too late.*

Now, I am not saying everyone who is lonely is among the more strident members of society. I am saying people who are lonely, disenfranchised, downtrodden, etc. are more susceptible to being wooed into a way of thinking which is inconsistent with their values.

With so many avenues for misinformation and disinformation, it takes an effort to stay truly informed. It takes an effort to know when smoke is being blown up a lower extremity. It takes an effort to say, I don’t believe you to someone who is paying attention to you in a day where not many do.

I was watching a movie where a lonely woman, defined as mousy in the plot summary, falls in love with a narcissistic jerk she works with. He pays attention to her and treats her nicely some of the time, but he makes you cringe with how he treats her most of the time. In the end, after she has had enough, long after a less lonely person would have, her one friend summed it up saying you fell in love with an a**hole.

We need to avoid the a**holes whenever we can. Sometimes it is hard to do, when the a**holes are giving you attention you don’t often get. Especially when it is a group of them.

*Note: I use this reference often but the term drinking the Kool-Aid references how Jim Jones, a famous cult leader, got his believers to kill themselves en masse – he poisoned their Kool-Aid. Many believed in his message so much, they knowingly drank the poison.

A documentary on George Carlin reveals much

“I am optimistic, but I would not take any comfort from that.” George Carlin

The above is one of the many quotes from the talented and funny satirical comedian, George Carlin which is highlighted in a HBO two-part documentary. On top of learning about Carlin’s rise to fame, as well as his fall and rise again, we see a glimpse of American culture from the 1960’s forward.

Like most good documentaries, it presents the good, bad and the ugly side of fame and how it impacted both Carlin and his first wife, Brenda, whom he was married for 36 years. Brenda, was his biggest fan and supported and help manage his efforts to go out on his own on two separate occasions, first after having success with Jack Burns in a comedy duo and, second, when he took off the suit and started being who he really was on stage, the bearded, witty and satirical comedian we remember most.

Along the way, both had drinking and drug problems. Ironically, Brenda’s exposure came when he became successful and professional managers and PR people took on her role. Their daughter Kelly noted that this put her mother to the side and she had a lot of trouble with that. They both would recover and have a loving thirty-six year marriage before Brenda passed away. Carlin would later remarry and stay married for the rest of his life.

For those who don’t know Carlin, here is a brief summary from Hollywood Life:

George Carlin is one of the most beloved comedians of all time. After beginning his career in the 1960s, George rose to fame for his often controversial subject matter and use of explicit language, best exemplified in his routine “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” in 1972. He continued being a popular performer, going through many distinct shifts in style throughout the 80s and 90s, releasing a number of standup specials. His final special It’s Bad For Ya was released months before his death at 71 in June 2008. Other than his standup, George dabbled in comedic acting, appearing in films such as Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and playing Mr. Conductor on the children’s program Shining Time Station.”

Carlin loved to play with the words and their different meanings under different contexts. One of his more memorable and safer topics is the one on oxymorons. One I vividly recall is “jumbo shrimp.” After metering is voice and eyes as he recounted this, he would say “are they little jumbos, or huge shrimp?” Yet, his most famous diatribe is the one mentioned above called “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.”

Comedians like Stephen Colbert, Patton Oswalt, Jon Stewart, Steven Wright, et al could easily recite the seven words in order from this routine. They also discussed how provocative Carlin was in his heyday and became again later in his career. There was a time where he got pushed aside and was actually mocked by some newer comedians for his less evocative wordplay. Yet, he would only come back strong being the irreverent Carlin we knew and laughed with.

This special is worth the watch. I actually watched them out of order, but that is more than OK. It was actually fun to see him get started after seeing the later stages of his career first. It is also telling to see the many comedians pay homage to him for influencing their careers.

A few more movies in May

Since many know I love to watch movies, here are a few more I have seen along with my recommendation. I will do my best to avoid spoiler alerts.

Pieces of April, with Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Derek Luke, Oliver Platt, Allison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr. and Sean Hayes is an excellent movie about an older daughter (Holmes) who has invited her family to Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment. Apparently, she wants to show her mother who is dying from breast cancer, she can do this. It is well done and the large cast is aided and abetted by a supporting cast of neighbors. The movie focuses on Holmes’ preparation travails and the travel by the family to visit.

Fall, starring Eric Schaeffer and Amanda de Cadenet is about a New York cab driver who befriends and charms a super-model he keeps bumping into. They movie can get a little racy at times, but not too much, so it is better to avoid watching with children around. The dialogue is crisp, as we learn that both are more learned than their current jobs would require. The movie is aided by the cab driver’s friends who are so interested in his relationship with the supermodel.

Burning Bodhi, which I mentioned for a quote on church going in a recent post, stars an excellent ensemble cast, whose only recognizable names are Kaley Cuoco and Virginia Madsen. Others include Cody Horn, Landon Liboiran, Eli Vargas, Sasha Pieterse, Meghann Fahy. Their good friend Bodhi has passed away from an aneurysm, so his friends have traveled to grieve together to honor his memory. Cuoco and Madsen play excellent roles of women who have made some bad decisions that still haunt them, but they are not the only troubled folks.

The last days of capitalism, starring Sarah Rose Harper and Mike Faiola, is a two person, one scene (hotel room and balcony) movie with a lot of dialogue. In a “Pretty woman” sort of way, a wealthy man hires a prostitute to stay with him for the weekend. The movie would be flat, if it were not for the deep dialogue between the two actors on religion, greed, sex, etc. While there may be some sexual content, it is not overt, so you won’t get too embarrassed if the kids walk through the room.

Ms. Purple, starring Tiffany Chu, Jake Lee, and Octavio Pisano is about an Asian-American woman (Chu) who must prostitute herself to take care of her dying father. She enlists her brother (Lee) who was estranged from his father to help after one of the night caretakers quits. The movie is actually quite good and moving as she has to overcome so many hurdles and maltreatment given her profession.

The vicious kind, is a very good and well-acted movie about a very gray character played by Adam Scott. The movie also stars Brittany Snow, J.K. Simmons and Alex Frost. Scott plays the older brother to Frost’s character, as Frost brings home a woman from college he is dating played by Snow. Not only is Scott estranged from his father played by Simmons, he is having great difficulty dealing with ex-girlfriend who cheated on him. Scott is excellent in the role, but I must confess you will not care for him very much.

Little birds, is a good movie about two teenage girls played by Juno Skinner and Kay Panabaker, living in a small desert town who make less than stellar decisions. As a parent and imperfect person, I found myself talking to the TV saying don’t do that or get out of the room, so it is uncomfortable in that regard. It also stars Kate Bosworth, Leslie Mann and Neil McDonough. Skinner convinces Panabaker to drive with her to LA to visit a boy she falls for when he passed through town. This one will leave you uncomfortable as you think through decisions that led them down a path you see clearly.

Getting to know you, starring Ruper Penry Jones, Natasha Little, and Rachel Blanchard was a surprise at how good it was. It sounds cheesy with Jones coming to a high school reunion in hopes of rekindling a love affair with his girlfriend played by Blanchard. Little plays a British woman who has traveled to settle the affairs of her estranged brother who passed away. We learn early that Blanchard’s character is married with two kids and Jones befriends Little’s character as the hotel is malserved by several workers who are distracted from their jobs. Their building friendship is the focus even, though the married ex-girlfriend has different intentions.

Please enjoy. If I recommended only two, I would say watch “Pieces of April” and “Burning Bodhi.” Let me know what you think and of any others you have seen.

Interesting quote about church going

Sometimes quotes come at you from surprising sources. The following quote comes from a good movie called “Burning Bodhi” about old friends grieving the sudden death of one of their own from an aneurysm. The character was from a God-fearing community in West Virginia with a number of churches. When asked if she went to church, her reply was priceless.

“Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than hopping into a garage makes you a car.”

The profound simplicity of that statement floored me. It also reveals the act of going to church is not as altruistic for everyone as it is for a group of truly devout people. Having grown up going to not only church, but Sunday school as well, I saw all kinds of people there. Just like in general society it was a collection of imperfect people with biases, faults, and sins.

There were good lessons to be learned as well as some that were not so good. This church had an excellent youth program called “Tell it like it is,” where young people could get excited about their faith. Yet, on the flip side the church eventually split in half over an argument regarding the overt nepotism of the pastor in hiring practices. I have seen churches and synagogues have active outreach programs even starting charities to help people in need, while I have also seen churches led by ministers whose ego and greed got the best them.

Having worked with church and synagogue leaders on outreach programs to help those in need, I have witnessed both sides of the coin as well. I have met the most wonderful and kindest people who want to help, but I have also witnessed some who were there for themselves, not the people in need. The charity has to be about helping people help themselves, not doing something that makes you feel good about yourself.

I am no longer a church going Christian, so many would not even call me such. I am imperfect just like everyone else, but I do feel we should walk the talk. I do feel it is more important to help people climb a ladder out of the hole they find themselves in. I do feel we should treat people like we want to be treated with no caveats. And, if a church leader does not espouse those things, I would suggest finding a different place to worship.

Comedians and Congress

The very astute and funny comedian Sarah Silverman said yesterday on a segment of The View, “Why is it we hold our comedians to a higher standard than our Congressional representatives?” She was responding to the trend for comedians to come under physical attack on stage and verbal abuse online. I want you to re-read the emboldened sentence of hers and let it sink in. Why, indeed?

If that is not enough to stew on, I want you to think of recent and not so recent comments by several members of Congress with names like Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Jordan, Gosar, Breitbart, Gohmer, Brooks, Gaetz et al. If that were not enough, fold in comments from folks like Senators Cruz, Paul. etc. Then we have the former president’s comments which take it to an even lower level.

These comedians make their living making fun of uncomfortable topics. Do they cross the line on occasion? Absolutely. Yet, we seem to vilify them more than we do for people who are supposed to represent our better angels as elected officials. I can disagree with a policy position of an elected official and that is OK. Yet, I want them to be respectful of the office they hold.

I disagree with Democrats and Republicans on various issues. I think some Democrats tend to forget we need to pay for things, e.g. But, the names I mention above are all Republican for a reason. They have a strident manner in dealing with opposing arguments. Name calling is not an argument. Parroting conspiracy theories is not an argument. Saying truly inane things does not make you more credible.

It is not ironic that the most touted leader in the world is a former comedian. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has stood up against the invasion of Russian troops and rallied his country against the onslaught. To be frank, Vladimir Putin did not count on that stance thinking he could steam roll Ukraine in three days. He could not have been more wrong.

When I watch shows that are news centered comedy discussions, the more astute guests tend to be comedians. To be able to make fun of something, you tend to have to know what it is and why it could be funny. In this same vein, one of the best news shows on TV is actually a comedy show – John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” Invariably, his writers will have an in-depth discussion on issues that do not get air time elsewhere such as predatory tele-evangelists, predatory lending, predatory court fees, et al. Other new sources have actually complimented their efforts.

Since comedians seem to be more knowledgeable, maybe we should do like sports teams do. When an elected official is obviously not up to the challenge, like in a sporting event, let’s just replace him or her with a comedian. In my view, we will be far better off.