I guess mom wasn’t so mean after all

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Like most adults who once were kids, I have memories of my mom encouraging me to eat something I didn’t want to eat.

For some kids it was peas.  For some it was green beans.  For me it was beets.

I hated red beets and I still do.  The only way I could eat them was buried in copious amounts of mashed potatoes, covered in copious amounts of butter.

Mom seemed really mean when she said things like:

  • You aren’t getting up from the table until you finish your beets…
  • You don’t get any desert if you don’t eat your beets…
  • I bet the millions of hungry children in China would thank God for those beets…
  • Well…I guess you aren’t really very hungry if you don’t want those beautiful beets…

But mom was kind and gentle compared to the Federal government.  The people we keep in BMWs and lattes through outrageous taxes are considering a regulation that would punish school districts and state education offices that don’t enforce the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  (This is the nanny-state idea Michelle Obama came up with to make sure kids eat their vegetables and don’t consume too much candy, soda and other unhealthy things kids like to ingest.)

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with encouraging healthy eating.  But I think we’re getting more government than we need – or want – when people in Washington start dictating what kids in Peoria have to eat for lunch.

The government tells me how much water my toilet can use and what sort of light bulb to use.  Not it is going to tell kids what to eat for lunch.  I’d prefer the Feds concentrate on keeping terrorists out of the country.

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A tantrum will shut him up?

Freedom-of-SpeechDonald Trump has a way with words.  He tends to come across as a bit harsh and insensitivity.

I wouldn’t mind having dinner with the guy – provided he paid.  And I wouldn’t mind living next door to the guy – that would mean I had come into a great deal of money.

No, I didn’t vote for him in the Illinois primary election – I voted for one of the other guys.

It isn’t the challenging things Trump says that worries me; it is the crowds of people trying to prevent him from stating his point of view.  Those folks ring of the thugs in totalitarian regimes who beat those with different political views, who make political opponents “disappear” or suppress the practice of religion.

When free speech falls victim to street protests, America becomes just another banana republic.  Policy should be determined by a vigorous debate of ideas, not by who throws the biggest tantrum to prevent an opponent from speaking.

One of the most distinguishing features of the United States has been freedom of expression.  We have always let anyone and everyone say what they want to say.  But we are fumbling away that fundamental right.

Several of the people running for our nation’s highest office express views that I find morally reprehensible.  But I have no intention of trying to prevent them from stating their views – and am ready to go to the mat to prevent them from taping my mouth.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean I can’t say something that might hurt someone else’s feelings; it means I can state my case even when it is painful to those who disagree with me.

One person’s hurt feeling is another person’s deeply held belief.

I’m all for being thoughtful, polite and considerate of others.  I’m also going to have my say.

Confessions of an Irish wannabe

409My heritage is enriched by various cultures and nationalities.  In other words, I’m an American mutt.

Lots of German, some Dutch, perhaps a little English and, possibly, a tiny bit of Irish.

I married a beautiful woman of 100 percent Italian heritage.  I quickly accepted that as result, my son and daughter always told folks they were Italian.  I can’t blame them; their mom was sure where her ancestors came from and I had plenty of doubts about mine.

Well, this week we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve learned it isn’t that big a deal in Ireland, but it is a huge event in the United States, where millions of people of Irish ancestry live and take comfort in being part of the Irish Diaspora.

I always thought it would be fun to be Irish, but didn’t feel comfortable claiming membership in the Gaelic club.  (However, I have noticed that many people with absolutely no clear genetic link to Ireland decide they are Irish on March 17 each year.) This year is different for me.  And while I may be claiming a right I don’t really deserve, as far as I’m concerned I have become at least part Irish by association.

The association is with a remarkable young woman, Karen Brady.  She is smart, clever, thoughtful, athletic, musically gifted and beautiful.

She also became my daughter-in-law last summer.398

When it became clear a couple years ago that my son was on a path that would lead him to marriage in Ireland (and likely permanent residence there), I have to admit to moments of, well, regret.  After all, there are at least a million marriage-eligible young women within 100 miles of our home near Chicago.  Couldn’t he find one who might keep him closer to me?

But there isn’t a Karen Brady anywhere else than where this one is:  Tullamore, Ireland.  And there isn’t a couple who more belong to each other and with each other.  My son chose with a wise heart.  She is worth crossing an ocean to join.

Thank you Karen, for the wonderful person you are.  I hope you don’t mind me crashing your club, but I figure that should be a benefit to any man with a perfect Irish daughter-in-law.

Lame Laetare

commencementwireframe4_preStarting in 1893, the University of Notre Dame has awarded the Laetare Medal at its spring commencement ceremonies.

Past recipients include Presidents, bishops, nuns, writers, artists and people from many other walks of life.  This spring, the award will go to two politicians:  Former House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden.

Unless there has been a sudden change in the purpose of the award, I’ll assume it is what the university says it is:  Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal is presented annually to an American Catholic in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society. It is considered the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholics.

The university said it pick the two politicians to recognize their leadership, civility and dedication to the nation.

Interesting.  I can’t believe the university is referring to THIS nation, in light of all that the vice president has done to destroy us over the past eight years – and all the failure by the speaker to halt the destruction.

I do get the sense that Mr. Boehner meant well.

In Mr. Biden’s case, I doubt it.  He has been a cheerleader for the culture of death and a consistent scandal to the faithful.  He also has a bit of a potty mouth and trouble consistently telling the truth.

It probably is really difficult to decide who to award with something like the Laetare Medal.  After all, there are around 72,000,000 Catholics in the United States, so narrowing that down to a single person (or two) is a daunting duty.

On the other hand, with that many people to choose from, I would think Notre Dame could come up with a recipient who is pro life, honest, civil-tongued and has had a positive impact on society.  The award can be given posthumously, so perhaps Judge Antonin Scalia would be an option.  Rumors abound that he practiced the Catholic faith.

What a lost opportunity.  Notre Dame creates an award that could celebrate someone with the courage to live our faith fully and fearlessly.  Instead, the university seems to say that living a public life in bold contradiction of the faith is acceptable – even worthy of celebration.

Laetare is Latin for “rejoice.”  I think the university must either find a new recipient or change the name of the award.  Come to think of it, maybe the university ought to change its name.  I doubt Our Lady would want to be associated with this travesty.