Sunday, March 16, 2014

774. Where will Fred Phelps spend eternity?

My personal theology as to where Fred Phelps (and everyone else) will spend eternity. I, a Christian, do not believe in Hell. Historically (at least) four different words were used in place of our current English word Hell as it appears in Scripture, none of which adequately or absolutely describes the eternal fire often preached from the pulpit. I believe in the wide berth of God's Mercy. I believe Jesus when he said "in my father's house are many rooms." My belief is one of those rooms is reserved for Fred and others like him. Yes, he is vile and hateful. He is, like the rest of us, also a child of God. Thoughts (especially from other Christians)?

Monday, February 24, 2014

773. To See or Not To See - Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States of America, will pay a visit to Kentucky tomorrow and it is not his first time here.  Like many, my first introduction to the president was in 1988 when he addressed the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, a marathon speech which lasted thirty-three minutes.  I can't honestly say if I was impressed or not.

That was July, 1988.  Skip ahead three years and nine months and the same guy was making a visit to Louisville, now the Democratic nominee for president in the election to be held about five weeks later on November 3rd.  There had been a presidential debate scheduled that evening in Louisville, a debate which had been cancelled by Mr. Clinton's Republican opponent, then-president George Bush, now referred to as George H. W. Bush.  Clinton came to Louisville anyway and spoke on a chilly evening on the steps of the Kentucky Center for the Arts.  Here is a link to his speech that afternoon.  If you follow the link, you will find the speech and if you look over the soon-to-be-president's right shoulder, you will see a political mentor of mine seated two rows behind the speaker, the late Cyril Allgeier who served as a local municipal legislator for twenty-two years.  Rest In Peace, Cyril.  But, I digress.

At the time I was a member of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee as the At-Large Member from the 35th Legislative District.  As such I was allowed to be in an up-close rope line before and after several events that night and it was in the course of one of those that I had a brief chance to meet Mr. Clinton.  Pretty cool although he was, at that point, the fourth man I had met who was or would be president.  The interesting thing was I had not supported him in the 1992 Primary, where instead I was a supporter of the former (and current) governor of California, Jerry Brown.  In the Kentucky Primary held May 26, 1992, Brown ran third.  Governor Clinton carried the state's Democrats with 56%, followed by a 28% showing for "Uncommitted," followed by Brown with just over 8%.  Paul Tsongas, Tom Harkin, and Bob Kerrey filled out Kentucky's ballot. 

That was my first meeting of Bill Clinton, arguably one of the most popular presidents in history and the last Democrat to carry Kentucky, something he managed to do not once but twice.  During his presidency, the president made two more visits to Louisville, in 1996 when he spoke at Louisville Male High School and in 2000 when his speech took him to duPont Manual.  For the 1996 visit, I was seated with Kevin Hollenbach Holtz, the current State Treasurer's aunt, and we made our way around the campus eventually meeting not only the preisdent but also his Attorney General Janet Reno.  The campus was familiar to me as, in a former life, it had been the Sallie Phillips Durrett High School, from which I graduated in 1978.

The 2000 visit of the president came on October 30 at Manual High School in support of then-State Representative Eleanor Jordan's campaign for Congress.  I was intimately involved in that visit and had a hand in choosing the venue.  The president was introduced by my friend Rushi Sheth, who was at the time president of the duPont Manual Young Democrats and a junior in high school.  Rushi has also served as an At-Large member of the Louisville-Jefferson Democratic Executive Committee from the 48th Legislative District.  He was 18 at the time.

Since Mr. Clinton left office I've been fortunate to meet him two more times.  One of those was purely by accident by simply being in the right place - Lexington - at the right time.  It was brief and since I was somewhere I was not supposed to be, which created some little problem for his host, I will say nothing more.  The other was an October 2006 visit to Louisville in support of the Kentucky Democratic Party, at the time being led by Chairman Jerry Lundergan, a good friend of many years.  Thanks to the good work of Jonathan Hurst, who has long been an associate of Chairman Lundergan's, I was invited to a backroom meeting where once again I got in about forty-two seconds of conversation with the 42nd president.  I made a pitch for my then (and current) political employer John Yarmuth.  At the time John was the Democratic candidate for Congress, a position he was elected to a month after this meeting and has since been reelected three times.  He is currently seeking his fifth term in the Congress.  As a plus at the this meeting, I had my picture taken with the president.  Neither of us look too good as we were both recovering from severe illnesses at the time.  The unframed picture is among a stack on the top of the far right bookcase in my living room.

Tomorrow's visit comes in support of Alison Lundergan Grimes, the current Secretary of State of Kentucky, a candidate for the United States Senate, and the daughter of my friends Charlotte and Jerry Lundergan.  Charlotte and I serve together as members of the Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Committee.  The Lundergan's are two of the nicest people I have ever known, active in a great many charities in Kentucky, and owners of many ongoing business interests throughout Kentucky and also in Florida.  I have been to their home many times and expect to go again.  Heck, I may even see Bill Clinton there - you just never know.

I'll be sitting out tomorrow's visit by the president.  I am hopeful whoever takes that small seat which I could have had will enjoy the day, the speech, and the opportunity.  As Cyril Allgeier used to say, "I'll see it in the movies." 

Friday, November 22, 2013

772. From Kennedy to Johnson

I do not remember "where I was." Like the president's son, in whom I had later placed my hope for a renewed Camelot, I had just celebrated my 3rd birthday. In adulthood, I formed the personal opinion that I favored Bobby more than John and Teddy more than Bobby. My very first vote in a Presidential Primary, 1980, was for Teddy. But today we remember a self-described liberal, from a very wealthy family, who many feared because he was a minority being a Roman Catholic, and whose time was shortened by hate. The torch has passed. Rest in peace, Mr. President.

 --- and ---

Fifty years ago today my favorite president took the Oath of Office on-board Air Force One, administered by U. S. District Judge Sarah Hughes, the only woman to ever administer the presidential oath. To be sure, the administration of LBJ did not turn out as expected, its goals not fully reached, its aspirations for the poor and underrepresented not fully completed. But for a war, perhaps, this could have been Camelot - not the glamor of the Brahmin and Hyde Park elite, but the idea that every American had a president and administration working for them, irrespective of race or class, or the other divisions of the day. All the way with LBJ.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

771. Hallowe'en past

Growing up trick-or-treating always ended up with 25 kids and a weenie roast in our back yard. The fire-pit was toward the back of the yard, a 1/2 plot of land which seemed as big as an enchanted forest on Hallowe'en, with a section behind the garage which then, as now, was never cut.
And there were two reliable pranksters - my grandfather and Vic Gutermuth who lived next door. They'd sneak down in Vic's yard, then crossover into the high weeds, waving sheets around on a broomstick, scaring everyone at the party. My mother would end up walking half the kids home, all of whom lived within two blocks.

Friday, October 25, 2013

770. Predictions - one year and one week away

Playing with national numbers tonight trying to find enough House seats to switch the chamber from Reverse to Drive.  Assuming - [the worst possible word to begin any sentence] - no Democrats lose to a Republican and that each of the following Republicans has a well-financed Democratic challenger, alas, I can only come up with thirteen so far.

But, it is early.

Here are the Republican losers, the first predictions from me for 2014, again with assumptions made.  Mica (FL-7), Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Barr (KY-6), Upton (MI-6), Rogers (MI-8), LoBiondo (NJ-2), King (NY-2), Turner (OH-10), Gerlach (PA-6), Wolf (VA-10), Beutler (WA-3), Reichert (WA-8), and, my favorite, the charming Mr. Ryan (WI-1).  The election is one year and one week away.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

769. The Republican-created shutdown is shutdown

285-144, 3 not voting, 3 vacancies.

All 144 against were Republicans.

The president will sign the bill.

The Republican Senate deserves some kudos in this as does, to a far lesser extent, the Republican House. But I am confident Speaker Boehner and the Tea Party will not survive in 2014.

By the way, I've never before thought the Tea Party would not survive. But they dealt themselves a suicide blow by forcing the Speaker to hold out to this point. Once McConnell relented and then Boehner relented, the death knell began for the Tea Party.  It will ring loud in November 2014.

And what did the Republicans get for their shutdown?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Thanks Be To God.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


The following were the Prayers of the People written for Advent Parish for July 24, 2011 - the ninth in a series.  This particular date was special for me marking to the day the 20th Anniversary of Rob's death.  
See Entry #736 for a full explanation.
July 24, 2011

O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will.

READER:  By these prayers, we seek an understanding mind and the ability to discern between good and evil in serving your will and one another calling upon you saying, O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will. 

1)  We pray for all people throughout the world, asking that you make steady their footsteps, find them rescue from their oppressors, and help them in their weaknesses, praying O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will. 

2)  We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and as a community we pray for the needs of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, South Africa in the Anglican Communion.  We pray also for Saint George’s Community Center in the Diocese of Kentucky, and for our neighbors at Highland Baptist Church in the Highland Community Ministries.  We pray for all those who believe in your commandments and have been welcomed into the family of faith by you who sent Jesus to us, praying O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will.

3)  We pray in particular for our city and its people.  We pray for our mayor Greg and all those charged with governance here, and in Frankfort, and in Washington.  We pray for those in our midst in need of proper housing, sufficient employment, encouraging health, and the support of friends and families as they walk through the paths of their lives, asking that your countenance shine upon them, making them whole, praying O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will. 

4)  We pray for those whose needs have not been met, whether by their own actions or the inactions of others.  We pray they may find the talent, time, and desire to help themselves even as we assist them by our Advent ministries.  We pray knowing that even the least among us are to you as important as the highest of angels, of rulers, and powers.  For those who are infirm of mind, body, or spirit, especially [sick-list names], we ask that you restore them to the innocence and vigor of a child of God praying O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will. 

5)  We pray always for those who travelled before us the paths of life and suffering, of devotion and friendship, of support and concern, no longer in our presence; and for those families, friends, and they have others left behind, knowing that by clinging to your commandments in this life we will know and work with them together in eternity.  We ask especial prayers for [names of deceased go here], praying O God who searches our hearts, Teach us your will. 

CELEBRANT:  O God of Solomon and David, your words go forth giving us light and understanding.  Hear our prayers this day and always, for we know that neither death nor life, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from your love and understanding; we ask these prayers in your name.  AMEN.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

768. Theater review gets an "AA"

Last night, with my friend Linton Hauss, I attended the second-night's performance of Auctioning The Ainsleys, as part - the final entry - of Theatre [502]'s third season. The play was performed at Actors Theatre in the intimacy of the Victor Jory Theatre, under the direction of Amy Attaway, who is a founding co-artistic director of Theatre [502] and a graduate of the University of Evansville.  It was written by Laura Schellhardt, a professor of playwriting at Northwestern University, where she received her undergraduate degrees.  She also holds a Masters from Brown University.

The story concerns the family of a deceased auctioneer, leaving behind the dying mother delightfully played by former YPAS teacher Pat Allison, and four children, three of which have remained in their home (or carriage house which is ten feet away).  The oldest child, a rather independent woman and the only one not still at home has led the life of a roaming small-town auctioneer, selling off estates all with a story and a bit of fast-talking and a cute wink.  The role is skillfully played by veteran actor Leah Roberts, a YPAS and Bellarmine grad.  Her two sisters are played by Cara Hicks and Erica McClure, both of whom have performed in numerous productions locally and elsewhere.  The former plays the bookkeeper who has missed out on life keeping the memories of the past estates alive in a bizarre filing system - thoughts of my favorite childhood book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, briefly permeated my soul for a moment; the latter daughter, living in the carriage house ten feet away, is a matchmaker in a failed marriage who insists on proper arrangements down to the silverware.  The only son in the family is an uptight, unattached, and unadorned gay male who is particular about the image the family must portray to the community, continually cleaning and polishing the relics of the auction house.  The role of Aiden is played by Neill Robertson, a graduate of the American Music and Dramatic Academy in New York.
 [I must add at this point, as I did in a much longer entry dated March 19, 2012, that of all the actors I have seen play the role of Ernest "Jack" Worthing in one of my two favorite plays, The Importance of Being Earnest, Neill's was simply the best.  I wrote in that entry, "Robertson was absolutely delightful to watch in every way and I look forward to seeing him again. His was the worthiest Jack Worthing I've had the pleasure to watch."].  But, I digress.  
 They are all catalogued in a fashion by the man "the agency sent over" at the mother's request, the actor Lucas W. Adams in the role of Arthur, to record her life as it is slipping from her, memory-by-memory and, with a little sleight-of-hand, piece-by-piece from the curio shelves which adorn her third floor room, away from the family problems, physically and emotionally.  Arthur with his pen and notebook dutifully records the life and times of the family and in doing so intermingles and insinuates himself into it, eventually falling in love with Aiden, as Arthur has a collection of things and Aiden has a room of empty shelves.

One-by-one we learn the values and the misfortunes of each child, their personal alliances with each other, despite the separation from the older sister for a period of fifteen years.  And we see the matriarch, Alice, failing with each passing scene bringing the four children along with Arthur to a final summons on the intercom, the system which provided communication between them but also by which they had avoided each other.  Using the leit-motif of some snap-crackle-and pop, Alice dies and like the pieces in the curio, disappears from sight.

The story concludes with the ultimate auction, that of the auction house itself.

Something should be said about the floor layout into quarters, allowing each character their own "room" in the house, while Alice's suite is raised and to the rear, arrived at by a short series of stairs.  There are several scenes where an auction is taking place and Robert's acute performance of a fast-talking, auctioneer is worthy of a job in some small-town auction agencies, but then that would be life-imitating-art.

I was delighted by the play and my friend seemed pleased as well.

Now, having said all this I hesitate to add these next paragraphs but will.  You've read my review of the story line above of this wonderfully performed play by Theatre [502]'s troupe.  Earlier this year in the Humana Festival of New American Plays, performed in the larger Pamela Brown Theatre, I saw another play called Appropriate.  That night, although I had planned (I thought) to be with someone, I was alone.  I loved the play and mentioned to Linton last night the similarity between the two.  Here is the advert for it and while they were remarkably different, I find them peculiarly similar.

When the Lafayettes descend upon a crumbling Arkansan plantation to liquidate their dead patriarch’s estate, his three adult children collide over clutter, debt, and a contentious family history. But after a disturbing discovery surfaces among their father’s possessions, the reunion takes a turn for the explosive, unleashing a series of crackling surprises and confrontations. A play about the trouble with inheritance, memory loss, and the art of repression.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

767. Day Five of the Republican-created so-called Shutdown

Day Five of the Republican-planned so-called shutdown and a little has changed. In order to understand this post, you have to had previously read my post of October 2nd which begins "So the second day . . . " The gist of that entry is two fold - 1) this isn't a shutdown but a selective slowdown, and 2) unless everyone participates, it really doesn't matter.

Yes, I have friends suffering the financial effects of the shutdown and if I were in their shoes, it'd only take a few paychecks and I'd be in trouble but for some friends and family who might help me one way or another. And those same families may already be like me helping out their own family and friends who are already out of work. I've read today that the House has voted unanimously to pay them. Well, that's good and they need it but it defeats the purpose. It honestly isn't good economics but it is good PR and that is something in short supply in the Federal City. Similarly, there's a bill to open some of the National Parks as if this makes a dint in the $17,000,000,000,000.00 debt. It won't and it is silly. It will allow some Republican members of Congress the opportunity to beat their chests showing their approval while going unanswered will be the systematic cuts those same members have been making to veterans for years. Again, it is really for show. While I am on that topic, I'm trying to imagine some company owner who decides for whatever reason to take a two-week vacation, furloughing their employees, and closing all of their facilities. Imagine their reaction if some overzealous politicians showed up at their plant, rushed the gates, and opened the doors for all the world to see since they made sure a camera was close-by recording their heroic efforts. How would the owner feel? Just a thought. The counter-argument is the parks are public property and I have a place in my property rights-oriented heart for that idea. Still, someone has to clean up after the invasion, emptying the trash, and paying the water, light, and gas bills which were supposed to be at a minimum during the shutdown. But, I digress.

The previous diatribe mostly asked the question "how does the Republican-created so-called shutdown do anything about the $17,000,000,000,000.00 debt?" No one answered that one. Since that time, I've ventured further into the idea that no one on the Republican side of the aisle has answered because they have no answer. Their intention has little to do with Obamacare or the debt or even the deficit, although some of their followers may not realize this or may not acknowledge they are being used. It is all really about a handful of Tea Partiers threatening their caucus and its leader, Speaker Boehner, with primaries in the 2014 cycle, such as the Kentucky kind which elected Senator Rand Paul to office in 2010 and Congressman Tom Massie in 2012. Moderate and even conservatives Republicans are demonstrably concerned about losing their asses in 2014. Wait, I mean losing the congressional seats. Sorry. Or, is that the reason?

Maybe it is simply a desire on the part of the Republican Party to close down the government. I came across an article in the Republican-leaning website Politico from September 10, 2010, a little over three years ago. In the article Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, R-GA3 (SW Atlanta suburbs southwest to Columbus) predicts the current shutdown as part of plan should the Republicans regain the House, as they did in the 2010 elections. The other part of the plan was the recall of Obamacare, something they tried and failed at 42 times (so far). I don't often cite to certain sources in my research, concerned about their political bias. In this case, the site's bias is to the Republicans so I feel a little more at ease in using it. And I feel a little better in calling the so-called shutdown solely a creation of the Republican Party, and not just a creation but part of a plan according to one of its own members.

Here is a link to the story:


The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.