Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 371

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Pronouns: The Musical is continuing its trek this weekend featuring songs with He in the title. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US). A word of caution: Songs qualifying for this act are not as plentiful as one my think – but that would be Obama’s fault.

Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio) hosted its first PGA golf event in 1959. This past weekend, the PGA held its last event at the famed venture. I don’t know who made that decision – the sponsor, the tour, or the course – but that is a pathetic decision.

For those who enjoy a wide variety of music, our church sponsored a summer concert series featuring strong talent in the Cincinnati area. The series featured a Bluegrass band, a string quartet, an organists, a French Gypsy jazz quartet, and a well-travelled concert pianist. Simply an outstanding effort!

I knew head position is important in ballroom dance, but wow – I’ve been underestimating its importance.

Don’t forget to check your Comments Spam folder on your WP Dashboard. I look before emptying because I occasionally find a legit comment in that location.

Because I like milestones, this week my little corner of the world may pass 80,000 comments.

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It’s early August, and I’ve already seen too many political ads for the November election.

Months ago I suggested that it would be best for Democrats if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would announce that she would not seek leadership if the Democrats gained control in November. While Republicans continue to use her as a negative against Democratic candidates in competitive races, some Democratic candidates are saying they would not vote for Pelosi for House Speaker.

In the current season of special elections, Democrats are elated with strong showing while Republicans are happy with winning the high majority of elections.

Shortly after the US-North Korea meeting in Singapore, I made a statement about when President Trump would be meeting with Iran. So far, President Trump is following a similar playbook with Iran as he did with North Korea. Here’s an article by Aaron David Miller, a foreign affairs expert and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

I see foresee the following 2020 scenario as a possibility: Republicans renominate President Trump while Democrats swing left for their nomination. This opens the lane of an independent moderate candidate, plus Libertarians learn from 2016 and nominate a sensible candidate.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion notes one of the problems of the current wildfires in California.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

This woman’s weekend-long trip with her friend should have really just been a lunch
Dog meets owner at door in desperate attempt to get ahead of diarrhea-rug scandal
Beloved father and infrequent pornography user loses 3-year battle with cancer
Owl can’t remember which direction to rotate head back
Report: Takeout place put burrito in completely different container this time
Financial planner suggest spending one evening each week ripping walls, floorboard, in search for cash

Interesting Reads

Dos and don’ts for a heatwave
Ways to apologize in Japanese
Resources of sub-Sahara Africa
An asylum seeker’s journey and back again
Thinking about economic data
(Graphic) Excise taxes and wine
(Pictures) Hiking the Sinai Trail

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, here’s a throwback to 1969 for you to enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 369

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I’m sorry to report that I didn’t win the latest huge lottery drawing … and I was so sure my ticket would be the winner!

Cheers to the great start for Pronouns: The Musical. Act 2 features songs with “You” in the title. Curtain raises this Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US). Did you noticed that I placed the next act’s theme below the opening act’s video.

Thanks for the unexpected encouragement for a post about cutting the cord! I can report good so far.

Ever had an unexpected treat? We hosted out-of-town friends earlier this week. As my wife and I were waiting at the Reds box office, a stranger approached us, then gave us four tickets to a private area that included food and drinks … and for free! What a great treat for our friends!

Did anyone watch (PBS) 10 Modern Marvels that Changed America? Cheers to a Cincinnati landmark making the list. Here’s a link to the show. For anyone interested, the Cincinnati piece is early in the program (the second marvel).

We’ve started watching The Americans (via Amazon Prime). Interesting. Have you seen it?

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I find it interesting that the rise in the price of gasoline is getting so little press. Maybe the lack of coverage is one of the effects of someone sucking all the air out of the room.

Because of the swath of thoughts about ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement), here’s a nonpartisan article about the agency.

I finally figured out something about loyal Trump supporters. Even though The Bloviator lies, blames, exaggerates, takes credit for everything while avoiding responsibility, Trumpians simply justify anything with this fill-in-the-blank statement: “What about ____?” (The blank being anything from American history)

There are many things that anyone can say about President Trump, but I don’t think anyone is more succinct that the one that I call The Great American Orator. Click here for the 5-second summation.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides timely tips for back-to-school shopping.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Embittered raisin won’t shut up about how it could have been wine
Index finger rips into toilet paper package like Velociraptor claw
Bee wishes it could hang around open soda can without everybody freaking out
Every driver in roundabout just winging it
Flight attendant demonstrates proper technique for eating fellow passenger in event of crash

Interesting Reads

Netflix: from pioneer to powerhouse
Rome’s subway expansion and discovered artifacts
Chinese mega-machines
Poland and democracy
Your mind while sleeping
(Graphic) Cosmic history
(Photos) 1988: A look back
(Photos) World Bodypainting Festival

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, here’s a song from my youth. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 368

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Pronouns: The Musical debuts this weekend. Act 1 features songs with “I” in the title. Curtain goes up this Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US). My goal is to have a different act every weekend, but time will tell if I can do that pace. Meanwhile, The Producer is ready!

Earlier this week we cut-the-cord; that is, we discontinued our satellite TV service, then went to an antenna for local channels and a streaming service for a package of stations. Saving $75 per month will take care of the upfront costs in less than a year. Should I do a post on the process of considering cutting-the-cord?

Time demands the past two weeks have been greater than normal – so thanks for your patience.

Baseball’s All-Star break was this week. My Reds have been playing very good and entertaining baseball in recent weeks. Although they have one of the best records over the last 35 games, they remain in last place of the division by 4.5 games.

Amazon is a great service. We bought something a day or two before Prime Day – which offered the same product $50 less. Amazon would not credit the difference to our account. So, they paid for shipping to return the unopened product, credited our account for the entire purchase, gave us a $10 courtesy credit, and then allowed us to repurchase the product. Although we came out ahead, it doesn’t make sense to me.

Congratulations to France for winning the World Cup.

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Here’s a worthy read: What’s wrong with political leaders citing research?

Although his followers love it, President Trump’s European trip was a disaster.

Last week’s joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees with FBI official Peter Strzok was a great example of political theater and partisan hackmanship. On the plus side, the hearing resulted in one of the best Stephen Colbert monologues ever! Below is one of my favorite segments in the monologue that is worth 12 minutes. To see the entire monologue, click here.

Because he naturally says things that are fitting for a comedy skit, President Trump is a gift that keeps on giving. Ahead of the meeting with Vladimir Putin, The Bloviator said he had met Putin “two or two-and-a-half times before.” Hmmmm …. that is definitely worth pondering.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for getting the most out of life.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Bride and groom clearly have not kissed much
Guy on cologne advertisement must smell pretty good
Heavenly Sources Confirm Joe Jackson Already Screaming At Michael
Half Of Morning Run Spent Trying To Change Song On Phone
Poll finds 97% of Americans don’t know who Donald Trump is
Woodpecker Having Difficulty Remembering Tree Where He Got The Really Good Bugs That One Time

Interesting Reads
People in a difficult world
The history of steel
Populist Parties in Western Europe
The breakfast capital of the world?
For those who are scared of math
(Graphic) Household wealth by countries
(Photos) An enjoyable collection from National Geographic

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, here’s a song from my youth. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 367

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A tip of the cap to the international rescue efforts in Thailand of the kids in the cave. Interesting how the parents stayed together supporting each other until the last rescue.

Cheers for Cincinnati! A German newspaper proclaims Oktoberfest Zinzinnati as America’s best Oktoberfest.

Although I don’t know when it will start, but I proudly announce the next blog musical: Pronouns: The Musical. Stay tuned for future announcements, but I can say the Playbill is ready and the theme for Act 1 is I. !

Here’s an interesting blog read on a set of topics that are more related than most of us think: courage, humility, and the visual artist. If you stop by, tell Greta I sent you.

Thank you readers for the many interesting comments regarding the last beach walk featuring time.

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As Republicans continue to tout recent tax cuts, I wonder about the net effect of the negative impact of tariffs on the positive gain of tax cuts.

Although a former Democrat criticizing the Democratic party wrote the article, I enjoyed this quote:

Politicians from both parties have gotten away with letting down ordinary Americans for decades because millions of Americans are culturally wedded to their tribal political identities of Republican or Democrat, and can’t think outside the box.

At the recent NATO meeting, President Trump boasted about winning Wisconsin, something that Ronald Reagan didn’t do. Well, this is at least the third time that the Bloviator-in-Chief has made that statement – and the third time he was wrong! Oh well – just more of the same.

Given President Trump’s recent nomination, the high court is about to return to the Supreme Court for the Party – not the people.

Given the political and social climate in the US, I wonder if a civil war is in America’s near future.

 

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides home repair tips.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Pet gerbil absolutely crushing it lately
New report finds fastest-rising cause of death in US is losing chess match to Grim Reaper
Picky refugee just expects to be reunited with exact same family as before
Wimbledon grounds crew frustrated after learning about cement courts
Eco-conscious hotel lets guests decide whether they want room’s towels washed before next guests arrive

Interesting Reads
Lessons from World War I
Buddhism and the over-connected world
10 of the most famous art pieces ever stolen
Facts for World Population Day
Found: The oldest human tools outside of Africa
(Graphic) World’s 20 largest tech giants

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, here’s a song that may be long before your time. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 366

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As heat has been blasting much of the US, fires are torching the western US. Interestingly, fires were commonly mentioned during our recent tour of western national parks.

For relief from the heat, we went to the movie theater to see Ocean 8. Interesting and in the same spirit as the other Ocean movies. Enjoyable – but not a must-see film – so waiting for it from Redbox, a streaming service, or pay-per-view is a good idea.

Interesting how July 4th events use the colors of the American flag for their event: Red White, & Blue Ash; Red Rhythm & Blues, Red White and Boom, and Rye Wine & Boom. Any interesting ones in your area?

We enjoyed a July 4th concert by the Cincinnati Pops. Besides a Broadway singer with a local connection, the concert also featured the US Army Chorus (composed of about 25 men).

I’m unhappy with my golf game because I can’t find the consistency that has been me for many years.

The current resurgence of the Cincinnati Reds is not easy to explain. Although still in last place of their division, they non longer have the worst record in the National League – let alone all of baseball.

As opposed to private lessons, learning a dance from group classes is a good way to develop many bad habits, which are difficult to break.

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The odds are good that I will disagree with President Trump’s upcoming justice nomination for the Supreme Court. Then again, I would also disagree if the numbers and situation were reversed favoring the Democrats. After all, I’m all about the High Court being for everyone@

Finally – EPA Director Scott Pruitt is gone!

Many weeks I suggested House Democrats dump Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as their leader, the latest reports of that possibility causes me to smile

Reflecting on the Fourth of July is a good time to synthesize how the use of the term “patriot” has sadly changed over time.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for being a savvy news consumer.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Clay Pot Shards From Dwelling Of Earliest Known Klutz
Asshole occupying two cemetery plots
Man silently eating personal pan pizza alone in corner of airport unaware this will be best part of 7-day vacation
Woman Takes Break From Dating To Focus On Everything About Herself No One Could Ever Love
Area man just wants a haircut without all the frou-frou
App knows it’s gone next time man needs space for photos

Interesting Reads
How America got its name
Changing your mind
Discovering King Tut’s tomb
The changing world of genetics and DNA
A view of George Clinton’s funk music
(Photos) Scottish birds of prey

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, enjoy this duo from the past. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 365

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Thanks to the hearty who stayed with me through the Christian America series this week. To develop the series, I researched information on both sides of the topic, so it was interesting to read the differing viewpoints – but to also discover the illogical, quantum leaps people make.

I’m looking into dual citizenship. Definitely interesting … and having a conversation with someone at the designated US consulate is not easy!

Check the box. We visited the Chinese Terracotta Army exhibit. Not only did we enjoy the exhibit, it is obvious to me that the First Emperor and the Chinese leaders at the time feared Obama.

This video of creative street art will make you smile.

I started an exercise program while at the Alabama coast this past January. In mid-March, I used my Silver Sneakers option in my medical insurance, so I’ve been exercising three days a week since then.

Is this strange? Take Your Kids to Work Day is during the school year (so the kids miss school) while Take Your Dog to Work Day is during the summer when the kids are home.

A tip of the cap to veteran columnist Charles Krauthammer who recently passed away. While one may disagree with his opinion, nobody can deny his brilliance, his skills as a writer, and his commitment to conservatism. I enjoyed the columns written about him as a person. Although I limited my reading of his column, I appreciate his description of the current president as “a rodeo clown”.

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The crisis along the southern US border is sad and complex. However, it’s a refugee issue – not immigration as many play it to be. I also appreciated these two articles from NPR: One and Two.

Congratulations to President Trump for successfully transforming Congress for ineffective to incompetent.

Recent tax cuts improved the bottom line for many businesses. Because tariffs work against many businesses, I want about the net effect. Meanwhile, in order to avid new tariffs, US-based Harley-Davidson is moving some operations to Europe to avoid EU tariffs. Damn Obama.

Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) made a solution statement about abolishing ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) – and I see the statement in the same light as some Republicans saying they want to abolish the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

A huge thumbs down to the recent comment about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) regarding encouraging harassment of Trump supporters and administration workers. Thumbs down to the restaurant owner who asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave the restaurant.

To the Trump apologists believing that the media is too hard on President Trump, my response is simple – He brings it upon himself.

I appreciated this statement from Trevor Noah: “The two-party system in one of the most disruptive forces currently in America.”

Tidbits on Future Elections

  • At this point in time, I see good odds for Democrats gaining control of the House this fall, but doing so in the Senate is a steeper climb.
  • I wince at the thought of the Dems 2020 presidential nomination; therefore I raising President Trump’s chances of winning re-election to 51%.
  • Here are the early odds for getting my 2020 vote: President Trump – 0%; Democratic nominee – 20%; Libertarian nominee – 15%; Independent candidate: 30%; leaving the ballot blank – 35%.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for staying civil when debating child prisons.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Cops bust filthy, unshaven Mark Zuckerberg for selling personal data on street corner
Funeral attendees getting misty-eyed during first dance with corpse
Everyone in Pride Parade straight
Blood-covered finger confirms nose, in fact, bleeding
Saudi Arabia officially lifts ban on female Monster Truck rallies
Steel drum knows it has so much more to offer than tropical vibes

Interesting Reads
The psychology of money
The 1912 GOP Convention

The next global jihadi stage – but where?
The neuroscience of pain
The Sinai Trail
The satisfaction of biscotti
(Pictures) Life under apartheid

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this grand voice from the past for this summer song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the USA as a Christian Nation: Part 4 of 4 – My Conclusion

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The purpose of this series is obvious: To examine the notion that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation, or at least on Christian values and principles. The focus of the previous three posts were the following:

This post (Part 4) focuses on my conclusions and thoughts based on my research. Unlike the previous posts in this series, my thoughts are debatable and subject to agreement and disagreement. Keep in mind that each paragraph stands alone as part of a list – not as flowing text. I numbered the points for easy identification.

Concluding Statements

1) Most of the Framers were either born in a portion of the current United Kingdom (UK) or born of parents from the UK – a place holding a connection between God and Liberty – and a place that was predominantly Christian. The same would be the same for those from the Colonies. The God and Liberty concept is based on the inalienable rights of equality coming from God, so liberty is a God-given right (yet some of these Framers had slaves).  From there, it is up to the people in their life and government to use their goodness and virtue to act for the common good of all.

2) Using their Christian-Judeo background, experiences, knowledge of European democracy, and cognitive reasoning, the Framers established a new paradigm known as the US Constitution to differentiate itself from England.

3) The Framers recognized religious influence on English Common Law and in daily life. After all, Blue Laws keeping businesses closed on Sundays were common place for nearly 200 years. The Christian notion of marriage is well established, only to be recently redefined by the Supreme Court.

4) Although the list could go on, the USA being founded on Christian principles/values should not be denied. Then again, there are numerous principles/values that Christians share with multiple religions as well as various non-believer groups as atheists and agnostics. Many principles/values could be considered as secular or simply common to humanity. Therefore, although they may be rooted in Christianity, the founding documents do not promote uniquely Christian principles/values.

5) The relationship between God and Liberty in the US Constitution is clear to me – but not in the same way as others may see it. The Framers saw “unalienable rights” as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness coming from a higher power than human government – not necessarily the Christian God – but rather the god of one’s choosing if they have one.

6) Whereas the Puritans foresaw a strict religious state, other religious leaders during Colonial times (as William Penn and Roger Williams) envisioned religious tolerance as something good – and through their actions and the First Amendment, America became a place for numerous religious minorities.

10) The Framers used generic language to be inclusive. As America grew into a melting pot of diversity, those unalienable right were for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Secularists, Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, and whoever I unintentionally left out.

11) The union between religion and politics is not new because their relationship in America is older than the country itself. During the foundation period of this new country, religious groups influenced the process. Just because some groups desired a Christian nation then and that some groups desire the same today does not mean the United States was established as a Christian nation.

12) The people established the United States of America with a government that is neutral on religion while leaving religious decisions to individuals – not to the federal government, not to any state, not to any political party, and not to any religious organization. Again – the right is to individuals.

When the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or not at all.Justice John Paul Stevens in Lee v. Weisman (1992)

13) The notion of a “Christian America” is a myth. The United States of America was not founded as a Christian nation – it never has been a Christian nation – and is not now! If the framers intended to create a Christian nation, would wouldn’t documents say so? Wouldn’t the intent be overtly obvious?

14) Some of the Framers were outward men of faith – others simply men of private prayer and reflection – and others with no religious belief . Nonetheless, these men sought who intentionally sought religion neutrality. Just as enthusiastic theists can extrapolate references and phrases involving words as God, Creator, and more; others can easily apply the same words in a generic context with an understanding of the god they worship – and without endorsing a particular religion.

The Bottom Line

Today, leaders within the Christian Right continue to perpetuate the myth by cherry-picking data, stretching correlations, and disregarding inconvenient details. No matter the eloquence in their words, anyone stretching the words of our founding documents into Biblical reference is attempting to impose their belief system onto others through politics. Sadly, opinions on the USA as a Christian nation can be aligned with political parties.

Yes – I am Christian – but in no way do I subscribe that branch of Christian thought. As a matter of fact, I am confident the “Christian America” myth is a minority view within American Christianity. There probably also a strong correlation between those promoting the myth and their selfish view of religious liberty.  Perhaps this myth is similar to that of biological evolution – that is, people think they know, but they actually don’t.