Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Home at the End of the Trailer Park

by Pa Rock
Desert Rat

I am now officially and completely out of Palm Valley Luxury Rentals and safely ensconced, bag and baggage, in Unit 77 at Litchfield Village. I was able to make the break yesterday by taking the day off from work and moving the last five carloads of my life on up the road to the trailer park. Now I have boxes piled inside and outside of my dwelling. It will take weeks to get it all unpacked and put away.

I have gotten into the habit of sitting on the front porch every evening and reading. Many of the neighbors walk past my place as the sun is going down, and they all stop and exchange pleasantries. It is very much like residing in a small town, something of which I am very familiar.

I have set up two small bird feeders and a birdbath in the back yard (actually, the back gravel patch). The little birds discovered them the first day. They go through about a pound of birdseed a day. When I pull in after work, they are marching around the empty feeders and making a fuss. They get fed before I even make it into the house.

I have also come up with some big planters and a few new cacti - the kind that will get very large - as well as some of those wonderfully fragrant dark purple petunias. This weekend I will be busy getting the landscaping up to my standards. Litchfield Village is a beautiful trailer court, with blooming flowers everywhere, and many giant cacti. Some are so large that they actually appear to be covered with tree bark near their base.

If you come to see me, I will probably be outside scratching in the dirt, trying my best to tame a little piece of the desert. Frozen margaritas will be served at sunset!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

H1N1, Swine, or Mexican?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I received a shot for Swine Flu back in 1976 when Jerry Ford was President, and it must have worked because I never caught the dreaded and deadly malady. It was a huge deal then. Poor Ford was trying so hard to be relevant while Chevy Chase did skits pretending to be the bumbling President tripping and falling over everything in sight. Simpler days, those.

Actually the Swine Flue never materialized and the national drill of everyone rushing out to get shots in school houses and armories all over America served as yet one more reminder of just what a goof poor President Ford really was. Lyndon Johnson had commented once when Jerry Ford was a member of Congress, that he had played too much football without a helmet.

So now, thirty-three years later, the Swine Flue finally arrives. Arizona had its first reported case today, It is somewhat remarkable that it took so long to get here considering the long border that Arizona shares with Mexico - the country where the current outbreak originated. As of this evening ninety-some cases had been reported in a total of ten U.S. states, and there had been one death in this country - a toddler in Texas who had just arrived from Mexico.

There are also about a dozen countries where the Swine Flu has made a beachhead, most tracing its origins back to people who had been in Mexico. There are a few cases in Israel, and the Jews, who don't eat pork, are somewhat reluctant to call it Swine Flu. One Israeli politician suggested that it be referred to as Mexican Flu. Needless to say, that recommendation did not endear the state of Israel to Mexico.

American officials, to include President Obama, have today started referring to the flu by its scientific shorthand: the H1N1 Virus. I noticed that most of the newscasters have begun to use that label as well. I guess that I can understand that. After all, who would want to succumb to a flu named for a pig?

Good friend Xobekim forwarded a description of the symptoms. They involve a sudden urge to eat raw corn and roll in the mud!

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Republicans Goosestep Toward Party Purity

by Pa Rock
Amused Spectator

Arlen Specter, the moderate Republican Senator from Pennsylvania today became the moderate Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania. Specter said that he no longer felt at home with the Republicans who seem hellbent on letting hard right wing ideology define their party for the foreseeable future. Democrats are happy because they are now just one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and Al Franken is going to be seated as the new Democratic Senator from Minnesota sooner or later. President Obama said that he was "thrilled" at Specter's change of parties.

Specter's big switch had more to do with political realities than it did with ideology. Republicans were planning to unseat him through a tough fight in the Pennsylvania Republican primary. The seventy-nine year old Specter, who isn't ready to retire, did the math and decided he had a better chance of political survival by running as a Democrat.

And the Republican ignoramus comitatus was quick to bid Arlen Specter a hale and hearty farewell, with remarks similar to Roy Clark's classic line (gender bent): "Thank God and Greyhound he's gone!" Most were on the air all day braying about how much better off the party was without him. There were a few exceptions to that idiot-ology, though. Maine's Senator Olympia Snowe said the loss of Arlen Specter from the Republican ranks was "devasting." Senator Snowe, one of only a handful of moderate Republicans in America, may one day be forced from the ranks of the "real" Republicans herself.

America's premier gasbag and the de facto head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, bid good riddance to Senator Specter today, and suggested that he take John McCain and his daughter, Meghan, with him. (Take another bottle of pills, Rush. It will all be better in the morning!)

The Republican purists are glad to see Arlen Specter fly his true colors and join the opposition. Keep on purifying the party, folks, and your next Minneapolis convention will fit into the Larry Craig memorial restroom at the airport!

Trivia: As a young man, Arlen Specter was a lawyer working for the Warren Commission on the assassination of President Kennedy. He was the person who came up with the "magic bullet" theory to explain how one shooter could have done so much damage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Subtlety: Arizona Style

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This morning, while circling through McDonald’s for breakfast, I pulled up behind the bravest and/or dumbest person in the whole God-forsaken and scorpion-infested state of Arizona. I couldn’t see the driver of the dark red Ford Focus, but I didn’t have to see him (or her) to know that I was on the tail of someone who wasn’t bashful about sharing his (or her) opinions, regardless of their likelihood of inciting a fistfight or a bloody hate crime.

No, it wasn’t a bumper sticker promoting gay marriage, taxing the church, or the confiscation of handguns - it was something at least equally as controversial as the aforementioned, but it was on a specialized and personalized license plate.

Arizona has a couple of dozen types of specialized plates covering everything from honoring war veterans, to recognizing membership in any of several Indian tribes, to proclaiming the importance of following the Golden Rule. Each of these plates cost an extra $25 per year, of which $17 goes to whatever cause the particular plate supports. It’s a nice way to show support for something via the license plate and the donation.

In addition to the subjects highlighted by the special license plates, for another fee the plate can be personalized with a message of up to seven letters. The state supposedly screens the messages to weed out those that might be obscene or objectionable. I say “supposedly,” because someone certainly missed the boat on the one I saw this morning.

The style of license plate on the red Ford Focus was “Child Abuse Prevention.” The plate is decorated with children’s handprints along with a statement, “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.” So far, so good – right? The plate brings awareness to the serious issue of child abuse, and the sale of the plates helps to fund child abuse prevention programs. It is a sentiment that should not offend any sane and caring person.

The problem arose with the personalized message that the individual had imprinted on their child abuse prevention license plate. It was only five letters, but that small word certainly packed a wallop.

The message: ABORT!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Dying Western Scores a Huge Win at the Ivy Film Festival

by Pa Rock
Shameless Braggart

I received word from my good friend Bob Cronk (whom I have never actually met in person) that The Dying Western won the Grand Jury award for Best Film at the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University in Providence, RI. This particular film festival always snags big names from the film industry, and one was this year's speakers was Jack Nicholson!

The Dying Western was based on a short story written by my son, Tim, and he also co-wrote the screenplay. It was put together by students from the Film Department at the University of Ohio. Bob Cronk's son, Wes Cronk, was the film's editor - and he did an outstanding job - as did all of the crew and cast!

I had the wonderful opportunity to be with Tim and his siblings in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago when this film won Best Student Film at the Las Vegas Film Festival. It was a great weekend, one of those rare times when all of the kids can get together.

Tim knows that when he finally gets to the Academy Awards (a year or two down the road - at most!) that I plan on tagging along - and I want to be seated next to Cher! I hope that my heart can stand it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Home at Last!

by Pa Rock
Mover and Shaker

The 25th day of April, 2009, finds me in my new home. We moved all day long, and I am beet red and bone tired. My main helper today was a seventeen-year-old young man named D.J. (which is short for a beautiful African name, the spelling of which I did not master). D.J.'s grandmother, Jessica Whitaker, is one of my social work co-workers at Luke.

Jessica told me that D.J. was a good worker, and she certainly was right. We must have made ten trips up and down Litchfield Road in my little convertible that thinks it's a truck. Our loads were often stacked high and wide, and had that Beverly Hillbillies look about them! Two other friends came over with a truck and helped get the biggest items on up the road. I still have two or three small loads at the old place, and quite a bit of cleaning to do.

Tomorrow Dish Network will be here (hopefully) to get my satellite service set up. I will probably move a few more things over, and I am going to jazz up some of my furniture with a new coat of paint. A co-worker will be bringing over an evening meal to help me recover from the trauma of all of this physical exertion! (Thank you, Patty Marks!)

My new place is so quiet. Gone is the loud thumping music from my downstairs neighbors, along with the occasional whiffs of fragrant marijuana wafting upward from their patio to my balcony. Gone are the all-night sirens screaming along Litchfield and McDowell. (Although this beautiful trailer court - Litchfield Village - fronts on Litchfield Road, my abode is near the back, about a half mile from the gate.

The birds have discovered the birdbath that I put out for them, and tomorrow there will be a feeder also. Late this afternoon I saw a small jackrabbit scamper across the park by the trailer court office, and I have heard that there are several more playing in the neighborhood.

Life can't get much better than this!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Moving Experience

by Pa Rock
One Man and a Car

I have now completed fifteen trips up and down Litchfield Road moving my junk into the new digs. The new place is looking crowded with boxes and piles everywhere, while the old place is starting to sound and feel hollow. Tomorrow some friends will help me with the big stuff, and tomorrow night I will collapse and spend my first night in Litchfield Village - Unit #77.

One of my favorite movies is playing tonight on TCM, and I am using it for background noise while I pack. The movie is Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times with Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, and Charles Grodin. And even though I have seen this classic several times, though not recently, I still laugh so hard at Simon's snappy dialogue that the neighbors downstairs are probably wondering why I didn't invite them to the party!

I read a critique of Neil Simon one time that suggested he is the 20th century version of William Shakespeare. He is prolific, like Shakespeare, and writes in a style that the common man cannot help but enjoy. The snobs among us may not consider Simon to be a serious playwright, but any evening watching one of his works will always be a good time.

I wonder why Neil Simon has never tackled the subject of a pack rat trying to move his life's accumulation of crap, one carload at a time? No, that's too pathetic to be the source of any humor!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So Long, Cox!

by Pa Rock
Consumer Advocate

Unbelievably, the Valley of Hell has one cable provider - Cox. There are some options (Dish Network, Direct TV, and radio), but basically Cox has a lock on the market. They also provide Internet and telephone service. Cox apparently has some sort of quid-pro-quo going with the local electric provider, Arizona Public Services (APS). When a new arrival calls to get their electric hooked up, APS ends the phone call with something like, "Now may I transfer you over to Cox so that you can get your cable set up?"

I guess that monopolies can be a good thing - if they provide quality service at a fair price - but neither of those qualifiers describe Cox. Service is mediocre on its best day, and the cost is outrageous.

I have a friend who cancelled their Cox service two weeks ago, and I cancelled mine today. We compared notes on the extrication process. The ladies handling our cancellations gave identical spiels telling each of us that the satellite companies (my friend went with Direct TV and I will be using Dish) will be higher than Cox once their specials end. Nope, that's a lie. When the Dish special ends - after six months - it will still be much cheaper than Cox. And, as my friend pointed out, there is no way that the satellite service could be any worse than that of the Valley's only cable provider.

Our economy runs better when consumers have a choice. What the Valley needs is a few more cable providers giving Cox some competition and getting its prices down and its service up.

So long, Cox. Don't wait up because I won't be back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're Having a Heat Wave
...a damned desert heat wave!

by Pa Rock

Arizona is supposed to have another three or four weeks of pleasant weather before the insufferable summer heat sets in, but Mother Nature has a penchant for unpredictability. Yesterday the temperature in the Valley of Hell hit a roasty-toasty 102 degrees! This August when the daily highs will be on the uncomfortable side of 110 or even 115 degrees, me and all of the other desert varmints will undoubtedly look back on the current heat levels with a degree of longing – but for the time being, firmly anchored in the here-and-now, it’s hot – damned hot!

I know how things work, even the weather, and while it may sound a tad cynical, it is not coincidental that that this heat wave hit at the same time that I am moving, carload by carload, from one hovel to another. It is the predictable result of global warming brought on by the corporate excesses of the Bush administration, planned and implemented over the course of many years with the primary aim of giving me heatstroke as I run my little convertible up and down Litchfield Road with the top down while moving my book cases, floor lamps, and yard art!

That’s right, Cheney! I know this sudden heat wave is all your evil doing. Somewhere there is a CIA memo covering the elimination of Pa Rock by scorpions or sunstroke, and when that memo surfaces, there’s going to be hell to pay! The scorpion died, but I’m still here – and the Arizona sun is making me tougher than an old boot. So, you bald, beady-eyed buzzard, bring on your sinister machinations. I will defeat them all! I’m a survivor!

And I’m mad…damned mad…and getting madder! It must be the heat!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the Cage with Sinclair Lewis

by Pa Rock
Innocent Blogger

I received two interesting posts to this blog yesterday morning. One was from a local cage fighter named P.T. Royal who replied to my posting of February 28th. Mr. Royal seemed to like what I had written about his strenuous past time, and he offered to teach me the fine art of cage fighting if I would meet him at his gym in Tempe. I guess that I'm not to old to move into a new career!

The other response was to the recent post entitled "My Favorite Republican." The lady who replied did not seem to think much of Meghan McCain or Log Cabin Republicans, and she was promoting the notion that strength comes through having conservative views. I checked her homepage and found it to be very interesting. There was an animated U.S. flag waving at the top of the page, and religious crosses spread liberally (pun intended) throughout the content. The conflation of patriotism and religion makes me nervous - and gets me crazy - no matter whose country and whose religion are being blended into a political philosophy. When that happens, I always remember the wonderful quote attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Amen, Brother Lewis. Amen!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Murder on the Loop 101
(A Tale of Escalating Passions)

by Pa Rock
Enraged Citizen

The Valley of Hell is a strange place indeed. Most of the two-legged creatures who inhabit this craven place pride themselves on their ignorance. As an example, a local reporter covering last week's hate-fueled tea-bagger party at the state capitol interviewed a man who was advocating that all socialists should be killed. He further stated his belief that the President of the United States is a socialist. When the reporter asked for the man's name, the big talker declined to provide it. Unfortunately for society, the reporter also did not get a picture of this knuckle-dragger.

This is also a gun culture where sexually inadequate morons try to make up for their shortcomings by owning enough weaponry to storm a third world country. It is those guns that ensure their virility and independence - you betcha! And who is their enemy? Why, government, of course.

Add to that strange brew the fact that The East Valley Tribune recently ran a five-part series on how criminal activity is being ignored by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office because our sheriff, Joe Arapio, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America" is focused on immigration enforcement because 'those people' are easy marks and that's where the fame is. (BTW, The East Valley Tribune learned today that they received the Pulitzer Prize for local news for that series on Arpaio and crime in the valley.)

And then, just for good measure, take into consideration the yelling and screaming that a certain group of locals have been engaging in regarding the speed enforcement cameras that have gone up in the valley over the last few years. Libertarians, and Paulies, and gun crazies have been foaming at the mouth over that infringement of their "rights." John Law just ain't playing fair if he can catch them without a high speed chase!

Enter, stage right, Thomas De Stories. The cantankerous 68-year-old is the owner of a local adventure company that takes tourists on jeep tours of the Sonoran Desert. Last night, around 8 p.m., Mr. De Stories pulled up to a fully marked photo radar van on the busy Loop 101 near 7th Street and fired several shots into the van killing the operator, Doug Georgianni. Unbelievably, the arrogant murderer was driving one of his easily recognizable company vehicles!

Radar speed enforcement has now been suspended across the valley. Republican State Representative Sam Crump, a vocal opponent of the cameras, said he is aware of speculation that the murder resulted from "escalating passions" surrounding the public debate over speed cameras.

Ya think?

Welcome to Arizona, the land of cactus and scorpions and sand, the place where if you can't get your way through legal means, you always have the option of changing things through gun fire. It worked last night. Thomas De Stories is in jail, but the cameras are no longer interfering with the God-given rights of the local white trash to drive as fast as they want.

And it won't end there. As long as the radio loudmouths keep spewing their hate, as long as Fox "News" keeps sloshing their gas on the overheated yokels, as long as the NRA keeps encouraging everyone to buy more and more guns, as long as law enforcement officials worry more about their public image than they do about combating real crime, as long as fundamentalist preachers keep using fear to whip their congregations into a frenzy - as long as America stays crazy, we are all in deep, deep trouble.

God help and watch over Barack Obama.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spam: It's Not Just for Breafast Any More!

by Pa Rock
Cyber Warrior

A few days ago I posted a piece about Meghan McCain entitled My Favorite Republican. It looked admiringly at Ms. McCain's attempts to drag the Republican Party (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. She has her work cut out for her because much of the GOP is still firmly rooted in the 19th century!

That posting generated one response, but for the life of me I can't figure out the writer's intent. The person who submitted the reply went on for thousands and thousands (and thousands!) of words that did not seem to have any bearing on what I had written. His (or her) rant seemed to be focusing on how the greedheads are stealing from the poor, and I certainly agree that is the case. But it would take at least a couple of hours to read the manifesto in its entirety, so I have no idea if there were some other conspiracy theories woven into it or not. I am assuming that it was spam, but, if so, quite a bit of work went into the effort.

I have saved the erratic rant in a Word file and plan on pasting it to replies to all of those generous people in Nigeria who keep writing and asking me to help them get their fortunes to the United States. I want them to know - I care!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Up and Down the Road

by Pa Rock
Day Laborer

It is late Saturday afternoon and I have just completed moving my third load for the day. I have been concentrating on getting obstacle items (chairs, book cases) out of the way so the big things will be easier to wrestle out the door. I have worn out a large can of Lemon Pledge at my new place cleaning everything before it goes in the door. My major learning for the day has been that bees are attracted to the smell of Lemon Pledge! (Now that I have been stung by a scorpion multiple times, I harbor no fear of bees. They are just a nuisance!)

The Neptune Society has written again. They still want me to register for a chance to win a free cremation. When they wrote before they informed me who had won the previous month, but not this time. Could it be that this prize is hard to give away? The correspondence from the Neptune Society also contained a card offering to help me find a resting place in a nearby military cemetery - with the warning that "limited space is available!" Rush, rush, rush! Whatever became of the old fashioned practice of taking one's time with death? If the purpose of the Neptune Society is to get me to pre-register for the cremation services, which it is, why wouldn't they entice me with a sweepstakes prize that I could enjoy while I am still breathing - like a trip to Bermuda!

I am geared up to move one more load before dark. It's getting hotter which doesn't help with all of the outdoor manual labor, but this is Arizona, so at least I won't be sweating. It is, after all, a dry heat!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Packing and Moving

by Pa Rock
Desert Mule

I took possession of my new home this evening by moving in the first carload of treasure. The people that I am buying the place from left it spotless, and I understand that Virginia worked Jim into the ground over the past couple of weeks making minor repairs around the place. She told him that she wasn't going to leave anything dirty or in need of repair.

They left all kinds of good items - laundry supplies, a bunch of new light bulbs, cleaning supplies, several brooms and mops and a Swiffer Duster, a wheel barrow, lawn furniture, a gas barbecue drill, extra linen for the bed that they left, a good garden hose, and other little things that they thought I might need. It was all good stuff - no junk! I also discovered that the appliances include an upright freezer that I had failed to notice during my several trips through the house. Virginia even left a pitcher of fresh lemonade in the refrigerator! Such sweeties!

Tomorrow I will take several more carloads over. Moving is an exciting adventure - and very tiring! Please feel free to hop on a plane and fly out to Phoenix and help. The lemonade's on me!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Favorite Republican

by Pa Rock
Political Commentator

Meghan McCain, the brash, blond daughter of Senator John McCain, is still making news. Last month the young blogger took a swipe at conservative mouthpiece, Laura Ingraham, saying that she could "kiss my fat ass." (That was in response to a catty remark that Ingraham had made referring to Ms. McCain being a "plus size" model.)

This week Meghan and her mother, Cindy, appeared before the Log Cabin Republicans (the gay twig of the party) where they stated their commitment to support gay marriage. Young Meghan believes (rightly so) that the Republican party is heading toward long-term impotence unless they begin to expand their base and take in some of the groups that party blowhards have worked so hard to marginalize or eliminate.

One irony of the Republican intolerance of homosexuality is that many Republicans are themselves gay - but deeply closeted. Take for instance former Representative Mark Foley, former Senator Larry Craig, and former holy man Ted Haggard.

Nationally, public support for gay rights has increased to 45% over the past couple of years, but among America's young there is strong majority support for gay rights and gay marriage. Today's youth have friends who are gay, and they realize that these individuals are not going to bring down civilization, regardless of what they are told by fundamentalist ministers or doctrinaire Republicans. Four states now recognize gay unions. The tide has turned, and if the GOP and the other know-nothing groups want to waste their resources trying to stem it - let 'em! The future is rushing forward and all of the hate-mongers are about to be submerged in the swiftly rising waters of human equality.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't "get" the Log Cabin Republicans. I understand they are fiscally conservative and may feel more at home with Republican economic policies - but how can they align themselves with a political organization that regards them as immoral and equates their romantic relationships with incest and bestiality? Were there ever Jewish Nazis? Just thinking about either of those pairings makes my head hurt!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Tea Party Mentality

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Today marks the deadline for paying 2008 income taxes, and the public citizenry from coast-to-coast marked the occasion by holding symbolic "tea parties" created to form some link with the American patriots who dumped the British tea in Boston Harbor over two centuries ago. The original protesters were defiant because they were being taxed without representation in the British Parliament. While today's rabble are represented in Congress, many feel powerless to stop government from engaging in practices and programs that they personally oppose. The way to defeat the beast, they figure, is to starve it by not paying taxes - or at least by calling attention to their concerns through dramatic action - like tea parties. The mobs were intense and vocal.

And they also had a lot of fun mugging for the cameras - and Fox News was absolutely giddy putting up wall-to-wall coverage of their political antics.

And then there was poor Texas! First Chuck Norris threatened to run for President of the Republic of Texas, and today the Lone Star's crackpot governor, Rick Perry (the one with the great hair!), played the enabler to Norris's egomaniacal ambitions by talking about leading the state into secession! Even Texas deserves better than those two bozos!

I am old enough to remember well when Ronald Reagan was President. Most of today's protesters revere Reagan as somewhere to the right of God. Reagan "lowered" taxes several times, and each time that he did, my taxes went up. He was lowering taxes, just not mine. The business classes and the very rich did very well under Reagan, but their tax windfalls never did trickle down to those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

My take home pay has actually increased with Barack Obama's tax cuts. His new tax cuts really do cut taxes - for everyone making less than a quarter of a million dollars a year. Tax cuts that cut taxes - what a concept!

In fairness to democracy's foot soldiers and their tea bags, they are also fired up about the zillions of dollars going out of the treasury to try and help pump up the economy. I don't like it either, especially when monster banks like Bank of America take the free money while raising interest rates on credit cards (even to their good customers) - and while plotting the overthrow of America's unions.

Yup, that sucks. But know two things: 1. We are in this mess because America put George Bush in the White House (kinda sorta), and he spent eight years deregulating everything. The result was an unfettered economic system that overdosed on its own greed and avarice. 2. We have a much better opportunity of surviving the Bush mess with the powerful intellect of Barack Obama at the helm of the ship-of-state. I may not like the plan, but I am willing to give it a chance.

A good portion of today's protesters probably are genuinely concerned about the massive debt that we are piling on our grandchildren. I certainly am. But I have been concerned for a long time. I was concerned when we went charging off to Iraq without provocation. I was concerned when stories started making the news about pallets of currency being moved around in Iraqi warehouses by forklifts, and those forklifts were operated by private companies with names like Blackwater, and Kellogg, Brown, and Root. I was concerned when Dick Cheney clearly showed us the arrogance of the executive branch by running the war and the economy in secret, revealing the identity of a CIA covert agent for political payback, and telling an inquisitive and respected member of the United States Senate to "go fuck yourself." That wasn't my America.

I voted for Barack Obama to get my America back. It was once a decent place that stood out as a bright and shining example of democracy and civility. The Bush administration of crooks and liars threw our greatness into the crapper. The rich got richer, the poor got much poorer, and hate became the order of the day. That must change, and suddenly there is hope that it can change.

But I came of age in the sixties, and I appreciate a good national protest as much as anyone!

Make tea, not war!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The NRA Rides Again!

by Pa Rock
Outraged Citizen

Most third graders know the score when it comes to the violence spilling out of Mexico. There is a huge market for their illegal drugs in the United States, and that market creates enormous amounts of cash. The drug cartels of Mexico are fighting each other to control the drug trade and to rake in all of that easy gringo money. One of the things that they spend their ill-gotten wealth on is guns so that they can keep fighting and killing each other - as well as innocent bystanders on both sides of the border.

And where do they get those guns? Why, from the gun-craziest country in the world, the United States of America.

So, here's the flowchart: illegal drugs go north, money goes south, money goes back north to buy guns, guns go south, and death spreads exponentially. Of course it's that simple - ask any third grader!

President Obama has it figured out. He said we are going to disrupt the flow of drugs heading north and cripple the flow of guns making their way south. The Department of Homeland Security will begin to focus on both ends of the illegal traffic. It's a good plan, and it's about time! Ask any third grader.

But the NRA and its head tool, Wayne LaPierre, don't see it that way. Wayne's first big lie is that the Mexicans are being armed by other countries and not by God's chosen gun-toting (and gun-peddling) Americans. He also sees this sudden move by our government to protect its citizens as some sinister forerunner to gun control. Ask any third grader and he will tell you that ole Wayne is full of horseshit.

The primary constituent and funder of the National Rifle Association is, was, and always will be the gun manufacturers - and those boys want to see every human on the planet armed to the teeth with everything from little derringers to fully automatic assault weapons. It's marketing. It's evil marketing.

More guns do not make anyone safer. More guns equal more danger. Ask any third grader, or ask any parent of a child who died from being curious about a gun he or she came across in their home - a gun that had been purchased to make the home a safer place for the family to live.

The National Rifle Association wants to protect its Mexican gun market - but at what cost? It's not about constitutional rights, it's not about protection. It's about profits, plain and simple. Ask any sentinent being.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Film Fest Winner!

by Pa Rock
Family News Anchor

The Dying Western was officially named the best student film at the Las Vegas Film Festival! Congratulations to all of the young people who worked so hard to make that happen! You rock!

Leaving Las Vegas

by Pa Rock
Movie Buff

It is way too early for any civilized individual to be at the airport, but here I sit. I said good-bye to my kids last night. Nick, Tim, and Erin are in the air heading toward Kansas City, and Molly and Scott are probably still sleeping because their flight isn't until noon. By the time they are in the air, I will be peacefully sleeping in my apartment!

Las Vegas tends to lose its luster after a few days, and it will be good to get back to the relative calm of Phoenix.

Note to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce: Was it really necessary to shut down all of the outdoor escalators on Easter Sunday? How many tourists suffered coronaries as they has to climb up and over the major intersections? You suck!

Poor Wilbur:

As our plane was preparing for take-off this morning an airport terminal employee rushed on board to get an emergency message to a departing passenger. "If we have a Wilbur (last name withheld) on board, your girlfriend, Priscilla, from Ahwahtukee just called. She can't pick you up at the airport because her car is broken down. You are to take a cab with the eleven dollars that you have on you and in the direction of her place. Call her on her cell phone when the eleven dollars runs out." Long pause. "Good luck, Wilbur."

Eleven dollars would have gotten him just about out of the airport!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Las Vegas Film Festival

by Pa Rock
Proud Father

Our family group enjoyed some fine film fare this afternoon at the Las Vegas Film Festival, our reason for this springtime outing to Vegas. The Festival was held at the Eastside Cannery, a very nice and relatively new hotel and casino located several miles off of the Strip. Tim's movie (well, his and the film department's from the University of Ohio!) was shown in a block of seven short features. Theirs was the longest in that group, running thirty-four minutes, with a couple that were under ten minutes in length.

The Dying Western, the movie that we all came to see, played first in its block, and it was far superior to the other entries. (I'm not sure how they are judged. The Festival lasted four days and contained feature length movies starring names that were readily recognizable, as well as a few other blocks of short films. There will be an awards ceremony later tonight which reveal the level of intelligence of the judges!)

The other six entries that we viewed included a war picture, a dance, a gimmick or joke flick, a tired romance, and two screaming mother horrors. My second favorite film of the litter was the dance film from Belgium entitled Fertilize in which a beautiful female (the egg) fends off a hundred or so dancing men (sperm) until she is able to latch onto the one she wants. Pag-Asa, the World War II movie, was a submission from the Philippines and dealt with two Filipino soldiers in a moment of crisis. The shortest entry of the group, The Heist, (the gimmick film) was a product of Canada and clocked in at just four minutes. Both screaming mother nightmares were of domestic origin, which probably says something fairly significant about our national psyche!

It was a great afternoon! All of my children have made me very proud!

(Bob Cronk, you have plenty of reason to be proud also. I met Wes - The Dying Western's film editor. He is a very nice young man and is certainly skilled at his craft!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tales of the Strip

by Pa Rock
Weary Walker

We have been up the Strip and down the Strip today, putting several miles on my old tennies. The group included myself, my son Nick, my other son, Tim, and his fiance Erin Pater, and my daughter, Molly Files, and her husband Scott. My nephew, Reed Smith, joined us in the mall at Planet Hollywood and spent the rest of his Saturday showing us through the glittering maze that is the Las Vegas Strip.

One of the first attractions that we encountered was the dancing fountains at the Belagio. I have never seen the new version of the movie, Ocean's Eleven, but I understand that those choreographed waters were featured in it. Today the waters were dancing to Frank Sinatra's vocal rendition of Luck Be A Lady Tonight. We also strolled through the Belagio and toured a beautiful indoor spring flower garden with tulips and poppies galore. And then there was the candy shop with its massive chocolate fountain. The Belagio is a "must see" for anyone coming to Vegas.

Our next stop was an outdoor bar at Caesar's Palace where we rested and refreshed. The only alcohol that has slipped past my lips on this trip was a Bailey's Shake yesterday which was delicious - as it should have been for $7.50! But people were walking up and down the street drinking well before noon - it's that kind of place! Big mixed drinks in unique plastic containers are everywhere. A person can buy a yard of daiquiri in what looks to be a three-foot flower vase. There ware also large plastic guitars and replicas of the Eiffel Tower with straws coming out of their tops for classy booze consumption while navigating the Strip.

The Forum Shops in Caesar's are amazing. They are enlcosed in an enormous in-door mall with Roman statuary and fountains around every corner. The ceilings are two stories high domed affairs painted and backlit to resemble the sky. It does give the feeling of walking through ancient Rome on a partly cloudy day with a very international, camera-toting, population.

Caesar's was where we had our only celebrity sighting of the day. Former baseball bad boy, Pete Rose, was holed up in a storefront signing autographs for pay. We stopped and took his picture, in much the same way that one would take a picture of a simian pulling lice off of itself at the zoo. Old Pete looked old, really old, Pa Rock old! Reed commented on the irony of the Hall-of-Famer-Wannabe signing autographs for pay at Caesar's in Las Vegas! (He probably used his breaks to run upstairs and check his bets!)

Our next stop was the Venetian where we watched the gondola's make their way slowly up and down the Grand Canal which flows through the center of the hotel-casino complex. The Venetian, like the Belagio and Caesar's Palace, is elegant to a fault. One of the unique features at the Venetian is a spiral escalator, not something that one is likely to see in stodgy old New York or Chicago.

On the way back toward our hotel, The Tropicana, we passed two long lines of what Tim and I decided to call "clickers." These were men and women who were handing out business cards for the prostitutes. They would slap the cards on their wrists or click them together making a very distincitve rattling sound. Any tourist who made eye contact with a clicker got a couple of cards - and once a person accepted one guy's cards, everybody else gave them theirs as well. Needless to say, the sidewalks and streets are littered with glossy photos of other people's daughters.

The working girls also place advertisements in small throw-away newspapers that some of the clickers hand out. These are commonly referred to as "the sporting pages!" If all of that doesn't free a person of their virtue, there are billboard trucks cruising the Strip with huge photos of "Hot Babes" along with phone numbers. And then there are the more ambitious vixen who walk right up and proposition the rubes. One member of our party was approached in the casino last night by a woman who offered to follow him to his room for three hundred dollars!

I also noted some fine literary efforts during our outing today. There was a vagrant sitting on the overpass outside of our hotel with a box for donations. His sign read simply, "Why lie? I need a beer." A young man passed us wearing a t-shirt that proudly proclaimed "Fuck Milk! Got Pot?" And then there was the old fellow - at least ten years my senior - who made his statement by carrying a ghetto blaster that was pounding out music from the sixties!

It was an exciting day. Tonight I plan to lay around and watch my feet swell!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vegas Redux

by Pa Rock
Desert Sage

I'm back in Las Vegas and booked in at the Tropicana less than two months after my last visit. This time I flew to the Sin City instead of taking the long drive up through the desert. The flight time from Phoenix to Vegas is 30 minutes, less time than it took me to drive from my apartment to the airport this morning, and barely long enough to force down the complimentary peanuts, pretzels, and soda provided by Southwest Airlines. (That's right! Southwest has free snacks and drinks - and your bags are checked free!) But, even with those inducements, I think that I will drive again next time. The desert between Phoenix and Vegas is magnificent, with giant saguaros, Joshua trees, craggy vistas, and Hoover Dam!

Packing for travel seems to be getting more complicated. Some of it is due to age - making sure that I get all of my various pills, the insulin, and a few syringes - as well as my trusty bifocals. And some of it is due to the techno-age in which we live: Remember when packing a camera didn't involve charging the battery? Now we have cell phones and those have to be charged as well - ditto for my new iPod. After everything is charged, the battery has to go back in the camera, the telephone has to get inside of my pocket along with the iPod, the headphones have to be packed - along with all adapters so that the whole mess can be recharged during the trip - and don't forget the laptop with its adapter and air card!

So far the only thing that I appear to have forgotten is the book that I have been reading. Just as well, I guess, because keeping all of my toys charged wouldn't have left me much time for reading anyway!

My kids will start drifting in later this afternoon. Our purpose in being here is to support Tim as a movie based on a short story that he wrote competes in the Las Vegas Film Festival. That entry, The Dying Western, will be shown on Sunday afternoon. If you would like to know more about my youngest son, check out Tim Macy on the Internet Movie Data Base (

The Strip awaits...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dead Man Running

by Pa Rock
Political Strategist

Political operatives from across the United States are beginning to sit up and take notice of a new trend in elections that is coming out of Missouri. While average candidates have average chances of winning elections (if they conduct well-financed, average campaigns), they become damned near invincible when they get lucky enough to die prior to the election!

Most people know the story of Missouri's Governor Mel Carnahan who was running a hard race to remove John Ashcroft from the U.S. Senate in 2000. Carnahan was killed in a plane crash three weeks before the election. It was too late to have his name removed from the ballot, and many believed that the reptile Ashcroft would be a shoo-in for re-election. But the voters of Missouri didn't think a little thing like an untimely death should serve as a forfeit for the election. Dead Governor Carnahan kicked Ashcroft's flabby ass, and put him in the history books as the first, and so far - only, sitting United States Senator ever to lose an election to a dead man!

The Show Me state made the news again this past Tuesday when the good citizens of Winfield re-elected their mayor to a fourth term a month after his death. The deceased Mayor Harry Stonebaker didn't just beat his opponent, Alderman Bernie Panther, he clobbered him by taking ninety percent of the vote.

There are so many advantages to running for office while dead that I'm shocked it hasn't come into fashion before now. Dead candidates run clean campaigns. They don't waste time lying about their opponents - and they can't be bought by special interests. They are also be very unlikely to steal from the public treasury after they are elected. And if a dead candidate or public official gets caught up in a sex scandal, chances are excellent that the poor bastard truly was an innocent victim of circumstance.

What if the country elected a dead Congress? Taxidermists could get the members all gussied up and park them at their desks. School children and church groups could visit the Capitol twenty-four seven and stroll through the chambers watching their leaders in action - or lack thereof. True, there wouldn't a lot of productive legislation getting passed, but would that be such a change from the way things currently work?

I've been giving it some thought, and since I am from Missouri I might just decide to be buried there. That would make me a permanent resident. After that, who knows? I'm thinking that when all the people who know me have died off, I might just attempt a run for governor - 2076 ought to be as good a time as any!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pa Rock's Big Adventure

by Pa Rock
Newly Initiated Desert Dweller

It happened in the middle of the night. I was sleeping peacefully last night when I suddenly sensed a fly scurrying across my exposed leg. I awoke just enough to reach down and brush the pest away, but when I made contact with the nocturnal tourist, he immediately sank his stinger into my thigh. Even in the fog of sleep, I knew that I had just gotten up close and personal with Arizona's state night terror, the desert scorpion! I must have knocked him into the sheet because by the time I wrestled my way to freedom, I had been stung two more times.

I jumped out of bed and hit the lights. The evil creature was walking slowly across the top sheet, seemingly unperturbed and quite nonchalant. I bundled him into the sheet and squeezed twice - for all I was worth. Each time when I unwadded the sheet, my attacker would resume his leisurely stroll across my bed. I finally got an empty pill bottle and scooped him up. He is still residing in that red plastic bottle and is hopefully getting some sense of what bug hell is really like!

The next thing that I did was to fire up the computer and google scorpion stings. A generic article told me that a scorpion sting would hurt (duh!) and that I could die, but probably wouldn't. I read up on all of the symptoms to worry about, and then spent an hour surfing the iTunes store while waiting to see what turn my injuries would take. My plan was to head to the ER if I started to get deathly ill, and take along my captive so that they could see exactly what I dealing with. I didn't die, and finally I crawled back into bed (after checking it very carefully), for a couple of hours of fitful sleep before heading into work.

The stings still hurt. They are very similar to those I experienced many years ago when I mowed over an underground nest of yellow jackets. One friend (a nurse) told me that I should have treated the stings with ammonia. (How many bachelors have ammonia in their homes - or have any clue as to its uses?)

Another friend who has lived in the desert for years, but has never made physical contact with a scorpion, told me that a friend told her that on a scale of one to five, with one being the least painful - wasps are a one, scorpions are a three, and fire ants are a five. If that's true, and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, I never want to go anywhere near a pissed-off fire ant!

Goodnight...sleep tight...and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Civil Rights Are Busting Out All Over!

by Pa Rock
Serious Civil Libertarian

The rights of gay couples to marry are spreading faster than the Mormon Church or Focus on the Family can organize to quash them. Four days ago the Iowa Supreme Court voted unanimously that it was unconstitutional, at least in Iowa, not to allow gay couples to be united in marriage. Today the Vermont legislature overrode a veto by their Republican governor and set up the first same-sex marriage law in the nation that was actually passed by a legislature. There are now four states where gays have the same rights to marry as straights: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont - with more to follow!

Vermont has no residency requirement for marriage. Any adult couple who can find their way into the state can legally marry.

Gay marriages were legal in California a few months back, but the above mentioned organizations poured millions of dollars and thousands of lies into the state in a barely successful attempt to repeal that right through a constitutional amendment. California, which is often the national leader on progressive issues, will defeat the carpetbaggers in an upcoming election - have no doubt of that!

Also this week, the city council of Washington, DC, voted unanimously to recognize gay marriages that have been legally performed in other places. Watch the conservative boneheads in Congress go apoplectic over that and take action to overrule the will of the city's duly elected governing body. Statehood for DC!

I saw a poll on the internets today that showed older voters are the group most opposed to gay marriage in this country, and those most supportive of the issue are the younger voters. In fact the percentages between the oldest and youngest groups nearly mirrored each other perfectly. It would appear that the anger and vitriol on this issue is gradually slipping through the cemetery gates and into history.

A generation or two ago the big fight was about not allowing interracial marriage. If the races mixed in the marriage bed, the bigots bellowed, society would degenerate into chaos and civilization would end. The world didn't spin out of control as states began to recognize the rights of interracial couples to marry, and today our country is starting to reemerge as a respected world power thanks to the leadership of a man who is the product of an interracial union. Most people, especially the young among us, have come to realize that color should not be permitted to limit whom we may love.

The know-nothings were wrong about the evils of interracial marriage, and they are wrong about the "dangers" of gay marriage. Our young people are open-minded and comfortable in the modern world. They will fashion a society that makes sense to them.

America is a better place when it recognizes and celebrates its diversity!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Dog's Life

by Pa Rock
Whiney-Ass Animal Rights Activist

Seneca, Missouri, is a small town in extreme southwest Missouri that sits on the Oklahoma border. Both of my parents were born in rural Newton County close to that little community. A large part of the commerce of Seneca centers on an Indian casino that was erected a few years back just inside of Oklahoma. Recently another Seneca business enterprise has been in the local news, and today it was picked up nationally by the Associated Press.

Jewel Bond is the owner and operator of J.B.'s Precious Puppies, and though the business name suggests a peaceful kennel with happy little puppies licking the faces of prospective buyers, her operation was, in fact, little more than a torture chamber for man's best friend. I say "was" because Ms. Bond has just been closed down for the second time in two years.

Officers from the Newton County Sheriff's Office raided J.B.'s Precious Puppies and found over 200 dogs standing and living in their own excrement, many packed three or four to a cage. Some were sick and missing clumps of hair. The deputies also found skeletons of dogs and puppies stuffed in empty dog food sacks. Precious puppies, indeed!

Jewel had a license to breed dogs, but the Feds took it away from her two years ago. The state came in and auctioned her dogs off, but, unbelievably, Jewel bought some of the unlucky pooches back herself and started right back up. Jewel's license said dog breeder, but in actuality she was a puppy mill operator - a very low form of humanity.

Missouri's dog breeders, many of whom are reputable, fall under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Agriculture. That agency currently has eleven inspectors, not nearly enough to properly supervise the 3,200 licensed dog breeders as well as all of the animal rescues, shelters, and dog pounds. The Humane Society of the United States is conducting a "Stop Puppy Mills" campaign and says that Missouri should stop licensing breeders until it has enough inspectors to do proper supervision.

The Associated Press article also mentioned Marilyn Shepherd, a dog breeder in the Ozarks community of Ava, MO. Marilyn has been the subject of three federal licensing complaints, but she still has a state license. Journalists tried to view her operation, but she would not allow her dog pens to be toured or photographed. Marilyn said that pictures of caged dogs would set off protests by "whiney-ass animal rights activists." 'Nuff said.

And what about the "Jewel" of Seneca? She has been shut down again and is facing a possible two years in prison. Justice would dictate that she have to live in her own excrement crammed into a cell with a few dozen other puppy mill operators. It wouldn't be hard to find that many similar lowlifes to cram into her cage because Missouri is the national leader in puppy mills. (It is also the national leader in meth labs.) There are lots of opportunity for free enterprise way back up in those hills and hollers where John Law fears to tread!

(There are many, many reputable dog breeders in Missouri and across the United States. If you have questions regarding the integrity of a particular breeder, visit the premises and speak to the staff of a local veterinary clinic. If you run into a despicable puppy mill, report it to The Humane Society of America, The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the proper state agency, or the county sheriff.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Pod and I

by Pa Rock
Head Banger

The iPod adventure continues. I have now mastered loading the beast and have over 600 of my personal favs only a click or two away. As I type this update, I am listening to some kick-ass Hank Williams, Jr, while loading Jerry Jeff Walker from CD into iTunes.

I am ever so slowly learning how to use the control wheel on the iPod, mostly through trial and error. I especially like the "shuffle" feature, constantly being surprised by what the Apple Gods cough up for my listening pleasure. The one thing that I haven't figured out yet is volume. I stick those stupid ear buds as far down into my ear canals as is humanly possible, but the max volume that I get is too low. Today I premiered it at the gym, but could barely hear the music over all of the straining, grunting, and wheezing. I can't exercise any quieter, so the music has got to get louder!

One person responded after my last pissy iPod post saying that I should get an Apple computer and then it would all be very simple. I suspect that is right, but I am at least a year or two away from my next computer, so I will have to suffer through with what I've got.

But I am learning. If anyone can explain how to increase the volume, get in touch.

Tonight I will give up and try reading the manual.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Killing Rage

by Pa Rock
Social Commentator

Two weeks ago four policemen were murdered by an unemployed parolee in Oakland, California. Yesterday thirteen people were shot and killed by a fellow who had just lost his job in Binghamton, New York. And today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, three policemen were gunned down and two others seriously wounded by a paranoid young man who believed President Obama was going to take his guns away.

It would be a cheap shot to note all of that violent death and surmise that America is going nuts. The sad truth is, that when it comes to our guns, this country has been nuts for a very long time.

The National Rifle Association, a tool of gun manufacturers, and its mouthpiece, Wayne LaPierre, have been stirring the rabble for years with tales of jackbooted police officers and liberal politicians kicking in the doors of honest citizens and trying to take away their guns. They intentionally keep the paranoia raging because that sells guns. Any sensible legislation that tries to place some controls on who can own what types of guns is shouted down as being un-American. And not only have gun manufactures and distributors blanketed America with their deadly insanity, they have now targeted Mexico and are complicit in arming the drug cartels.

This morning Roland Poplawski, a twenty-three-year-old young man in Pittsburgh, PA, opened fire on several policemen with his AK 47 assault rifle. Wayne LaPierre, or Glenn Beck, or Bill O'Reilly, or Sean Hannity, or Karl Rove, or Ann Coulter, or some other great talker had convinced him that President Obama was going to take his guns away. What a shame that somebody hadn't taken them away - three families wouldn't be grieving tonight if that had happened.

Roland, did you really need those guns in your quiet neighborhood? President Obama wasn't going to get your guns. Those people lied to you. But the state of Pennsylvania did get your guns, and now you will never get them back. You didn't need them where you were living, but you will sorely regret not having them where you are going.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tumbling Tumbleweeds

by Pa Rock
Desert Rat

Arizona has two basic weather conditions: warm and hot. Arizona "warm" is hot in most of the rest of the world, and Arizona "hot" is melt-your-liver hot. Those native to this hellhole spice up their food with jalapenos and liquid fire sauces that bake their bodies from the inside while the sun bakes if from without. It's a crazy culture that has been out in the sun way too long.

There are also three or four days a year when the wind blows to beat hell across the desert. Today the sky got so brown that the ubiquitous mountains off in the distance were hidden from view. Lawn chairs and tumbleweeds were blowing across the major thoroughfares with wild abandon. If all of that wind were to come roaring into the Midwest, it would be the harbinger of an impending storm. In Arizona, however, it signifies nothing. I guess that it could mean that the seasons are fixing to change, and if that is the case - God help us!

Summertime in the desert. I will be moving into my new place in a couple of weeks. My lawn chairs (two) are made out of a heavy steel mesh. I plan to put them in a shady spot out behind my elegant trailer, right next to a killer lawn sprinkler. If you come to the front door and I'm not answering, check around back. I will be just one more potted palm in this cruel, cruel desert!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Once More - With Feeling!

by Pa Rock

I went way too easy on the Catholic Church and its doddering old Pope last night. There was only one response to the post, and it was supportive of my harangue. So, please bear with me as I try once again to stir up the Faithful!

Last week President Obama was invited to speak the University of Notre Dame's graduation in the spring, a move that has whipped the know-nothings into a lather. Why should this great Catholic University, they argue, bring in some bloody pro-abortion politician to give the commencement address. Thirteen bishops, including the one whose diocese encompasses the University of Notre Dame, have signalled their intent not to attend the service if the President of the United States is the speaker. Today, Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, called the upcoming speech by the leader of the free world "an extreme embarrassment." Some Republican politicians who graduated from Notre Dame are also pissing and moaning in concert with Cardinal George and the coven of bishops.

The political pressure is mounting for the university to dis-invite President Obama, but so far the school's administration has stood firm. Now the good Cardinal (oxymoron, anyone?) is encouraging supporters of the university to write letters expressing what is in their hearts - about "the embarrassment and difficulties" posed by inviting the President of the United States to be the graduation speaker.

The Catholic Church is in trouble, big trouble, and it has nothing to do with Barack Obama. The Church has lost its relevance. It preaches abstinence in a modern world, and it rails against birth control. Wake up and smell the coffee, you intolerant morons: fifteen-year-old Catholics all over America (and the rest of the world as well) are having sex - and none of them are ready to be parents. The Church doesn't speak to them, it lectures them - and the lectures are fifty years out-of-date.

If the Church is going to have any meaning in the modern world, it has to get to where the people are, in thought and spirit. It is time to make some fundamental changes. It is with great humility that I recommend the following:

1. Bring women into the priesthood. If the ladies can handle running large corporations and super-power nations, they ought to be able to manage something as arcane and stodgy as the Catholic Church.

2. Allow priests to marry. A clergy that is less sexually frustrated could only improve the Church's image and the safety of its young parishioners.

3. Turn over all child molesters to the police - no exceptions.

4. Place an upper age limit on clergy (priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope) and anyone else in a decision-making position within the Church. Sixty-five seems more than reasonable. Those who want to continue working past the retirement age should do so as volunteers.

5. Rescind the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. All human beings are capable of making mistakes - including, and in the current case - especially, the Pope.

6. Start using some decent music with the Mass.

Today's Catholic Church has chosen to be irrelevant, and unless that attitude starts to change dramatically, it might as well go back to speaking Latin. Chances are few among us would notice the difference!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The New Genocide?

by Pa Rock

It's been a while, too long in fact, since I blasphemed Pope Benedict XVI. The last time I went on a tirade about the sins of the Church of Rome in general and His Holiness in particular, I was skewered by a reader who felt that I might have been a tad on the negative side. And I was - and I will be again with what follows. But as a fallen Catholic who has been greatly disappointed with the inflexibility and dangerous positions of the Church, I feel that I have a right, if not a duty, to express some dissent.

I will admit to having slipped in my level of faith over the years, but it was Bernard Cardinal Law, a man whom I met on a couple of occasions when he was the lowly Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri, who finally succeeded in driving me from the Church. Cardinal Law had a vision - a vision of himself as the first American Pope. In trying to protect the image of his turf, he spent years in the Archdiocese of Boston shuffling pedophile priests around every time one of them came to his attention. By not removing these sick individuals from the active priesthood and arranging for some serious treatment for their pedophilia, Cardinal Law sentenced thousands of innocent children to suffer needless and cruel abuse that has scarred them for life - just to protect his good image.

Cardinal Law's incompetence and/or complicit criminal behavior short-circuited his run for Pope. That, of course, was a plus for Catholicism. But Law's removal from contention had a negative impact as well - it left the field open to the evil Cardinal Ratzinger who was ultimately elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger, a German reprobate and former member of the Hitler Youth Corps, was Pope Paul's doctrinal enforcer, a man who had a personal mission to bring back the good old days of Catholicism as it was practiced in the fourteenth century.

Benedict hadn't been Pope too long when he stirred up the entire Muslim world with comments indicating that Islam was a religion built on violence. Way to incite, Man of Peace! Then, more recently, he stirred up the world's Jewish population by bringing an excommunicated Priest back into the comfort of the Church - a priest who believed and preached that the Holocaust was a fiction.

Those two acts were thunderously stupid, but chances are no one died from the addle-brained pronouncements of this old man teetering on senility. Last week, however, the Pope uttered remarks that could easily turn very deadly. While on a tour of AIDS-ravaged Africa, His Eminence pontificated against the use of condoms. Really! The Pope said that using condoms was not the answer, and then he prattled on about the virtues of abstinence.

Yes, sir, Your Popeship, abstinence is the answer - for you. (And it would be nice if you could get your "celibate" priests to practice abstinence also.) But human beings have human needs. Don't tell people living in poverty to give up the one small pleasure that they have in life - because they aren't going to listen to you any more seriously than American Catholics do. Telling people in Africa not to use condoms is tantamount to genocide. It's time to get real and use your big-assed church for health education and the prevention of disease. That, old man, is what Jesus would have done.