Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Kudos to President Obama for vetoing the Keystone Pipeline Bill. ThiNo. s was the first substantive veto of his presidency. Before this he had used his veto power only twice in six years, both on minor bills, far fewer than any of his recent predecessors.  We can expect there will be more to come, unless the Republican controlled House and Senate have a change of heart and attitude and start working with the President instead of against him. . .

Catcalls to Congress for threatening to cut off funding for Homeland Security. The adverse and even disastrous effects of shutting down the government or parts of it do not seem to bother our Republican Congressional Representatives, even when they now control both Houses of Congress. They are still the Party of NO! . . .

Kudos to New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson for ordering Governor Chris "In your face!" Christie to restore the funds he had withheld from the Pension Fund for retired public workers. The New Jersey Governor's many troubles at home are seriously damaging his chances of winning the Republican nomination for President. His state is worse off financially that it was when he took office. And then there is the "Bridge scandal". . .

Catcalls to United States District Judge Andrew Hanen for granting, in response to an appeal by twenty-six Republican controlled states, a temporary injunction blocking President Obama's executive action on immigration. They want to pursue a lawsuit that would permanently stop the President's executive action. This is a suspiciously political decision that will be appealed and hopefully reversed. . .

Friday, February 20, 2015


No apology from Giuliani (photo by Rob Kim Getty Images) 
        Loud catcalls to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the totally inappropriate, blatantly false, and shamefully disrespectful remarks he made about President Obama at a fundraiser for Scott Walker on Wednesday. “I do not believe the President loves America,” said Giuliani. “He doesn’t love you, and he doesn’t love me.” When questioned about his remarks, the outspoken ex-mayor made matters worse in an interview on Fox News, and he has refused to retract or apologize for what he said.
        More catcalls to Governor Walker for not disassociating himself from Giuliani’s comments, when asked how he felt about them, in an interview Thursday morning on CNBC. Instead he “punted” again, saying, “I’m in New York. I’m used to people saying things that are aggressive out there.” Answer the question, Mr. Walker. Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Giuliani?
        Catcalls to all the racist Obama haters who are constantly saying these kinds of things about the President of the United States. They have every right to disagree with him on any issue, but it is egregiously unfair and completely inexcusable to question the President’s patriotism. If their comments were not so reprehensible they could be ignored as utterly ludicrous. Barack Obama embodies the American Dream, and for that he has expressed his immense gratitude over and over again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


       What qualifies me to write about basketball? Not a whole lot, compared to long-time coaches, big-time players, and serious analysts.
        But I did play basketball in high school and college, and in between jobs one year I worked as a Math and English tutor and assistant basketball coach at McDonogh School, of which I am an alumnus. The head coach was dealing with a serious leg injury, and I was called upon to help. We had a winning season in the Maryland Scholastic Association’s A Conference, that included the major public high schools of Baltimore.
        Since then I have continued to be a fan of the sport. Before she died Margie urged me to continue ordering our two season tickets to the Princeton University basketball home games, and I have being faithfully attending the games, usually with my son Woody or occasionally with a friend, when Woody can’t be there.
The Princeton women's basketball team is currently ranked
 No. 16 in the Associated Press poll
        It has been a special joy to watch the 23 and 0 Princeton women play. As I write this they are currently the only undefeated college team in the nation and are ranked sixteenth by the AP and 17th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
        I like watching games with Woody, because we both focus on the game and our conversation is all about what is happening on the court. We both are distracted by fans at sporting events who talk about everything else but the game. Woody is comfortable with my analytical observations, and I am with his.
        All that said, I have come to some conclusions about the sport that if I were coaching I would stress with my players. I don’t know whether or not today’s coaches would agree with all or any of my “basic rules for basketball players,” or if they even think about them. I would have to conclude that some coaches must not, because their players seem to violate one or more of these rules in every game I have ever watched.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
       The Koch brothers like Scott Walker. That should tell us something!
        Wisconsin voters who were bitterly opposed to Governor Walker’s denying State employees the right to bargain and slashing other benefits, to his drastic cuts to the state’s public education budget while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, to his opposition to a minimum wage hike, to his voter restriction measures, to his denial of a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, to his defunding of planned parenthood, and his other ultra-conservative policies, forced a recall election.
        But with huge financial backing from the Koch Foundation PAC and the shenanigans of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP), Walker managed to survive the recall and go on to win reelection, much to the amazement and disgust of many outside observers. What is wrong with the people of Wisconsin?, they wondered. Can’t they see it? Don’t they get it? Obviously they didn’t, even when the Koch-founded-and-funded AFP sent out faulty absentee ballots to Wisconsin’s voters. The ballots indicated the deadline was August 11, when the election was to be held on August 9!
       And now here he is at it again, embroiled in another heated controversy, as he attempts to cut state funding to the University of Wisconsin, one of the nation’s great state universities. This is the man who recently refused to respond when asked if he believes in evolution.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Kudos to the Senate and the House of Representatives for passing, finally, the bipartisan Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. It was signed into law by President Obama on Thursday. . . .

Catcalls to the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee for backing off from supporting Loretta Lynch for Attorney General of the United States and forcing a delayed vote on her confirmation. . . .

Kudos to the Senate for their overwhelming confirmation of Ashton B. Carter to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. . . .

Catcalls to Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas) for introducing a bill that would allow gun owners with concealed weapons permits to carry their hidden firearms into any of the other 46 states that grant such permits. As we would expect, the NRA has enthusiastically endorsed the bill. Why do so many people think the solution to gun violence is more guns and less restrictions on those who own them? . . .
You're almost there, Sissy!

Kudos to Sissy, the miniature Schnauzer who ran away from home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and was able to find her owner, Mrs. Dale (Nancy) Franck, who was recovering from surgery in the Mercy Medical Center, twenty blocks away. Sissy had never before been to the hospital! . . .

Catcalls to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who during an appearance in London, refused to answer whether or not he believes in or accepts evolution! “For me, I’m going to punt on that one as well,” he told the questioner. “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another.” That tells us a lot about Scott Walker. . . .

Have you any kudos or catcalls to add?

Thursday, February 12, 2015


        Let’s see if we can make sense of a complicated issue.
        President Obama has asked Congress to give him authority to take military action against ISIS, with whom we have already been at war for months. It is a carefully drafted resolution that he hopes will be a fair starting point for a thorough discussion and debate by Congress.
        The resolution has received strong reactions from both sides of the aisle. Some Republicans argue that the President already has the power to deploy troops as he sees fit under the War Powers Act. Being more hawkish than the Democrats, they don’t want to limit the President’s authority to use ground troops. At present more than 3,000 American troops are employed in an advisory and supportive capacity, but are not engaged in direct combat.
        The somewhat hazy language of the resolution allows for the use of combat troops for special purposes but not for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


        My Dad often commented sadly in his later years, as he would hear of the death of a long-time friend, “The longer you live, the more friends you lose.”
        That sounds like a truism, not the least bit profound, but for my Dad it expressed a powerfully emotional reality that we all must face, if we live long enough, as more and more of our friends predecease us.
        All of my closest boyhood friends have died. All of my college roommates, my closest shipmates from my Navy days in World War II, all of my good friends from my baseball years, goodness knows how many wonderful friends from the various churches I have served, some close colleagues with whom I served on the faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary, and many good friends from recent years are no longer living.
Jim Hester, 1925-2015 
        That’s why I cherish the good old friends who are still around, and that’s why I grieve all the more, when one of them dies. In recent days I have lost two such friends. Jim Hester was my oldest Princeton friend and classmate. We met in June, 1942, when we both showed up as student waiters in the undergraduate student dining halls known as “the Commons.” We became instant friends, and the following November Jim came home with  me for Thanksgiving. We both loved to harmonize, and we used to entertain my mother, as she was preparing the delicious meals she served us. Her favorite song and ours was “The Java Jive.”
        Jim joined the Marines and I enlisted in the Navy the next month. We went our separate ways, but continued to see each other at Princeton reunions and on other occasions. In recent years we have been living in the same retirement community, where our almost daily greeting was not "Hello!" or "Good morning!" or "Good evening!" or just "Hi!" but "I love coffee, I love tea, I love the Java Jive and it loves me!"
        If you clicked on the Jim Hester link above you know what an amazingly accomplished man he was and what a distinguished career he had. But I'll remember the young Princeton freshman with whom I used to wait tables, study and harmonize, as well as the wheel-chair bound but still sharp as a tack friend I've been seeing almost every day for the past few years. Jim's ashes will be buried in Princeton Cemetery, not far from where my wife Margie's are buried and where mine will be, when my time comes. I'll be conducting a graveside committal service for Jim's family a few weeks from now, when the weather is more favorable.

Monday, February 9, 2015


       When it comes to matters of religion and faith, I don’t like labels, because of the baggage they carry with them. I try not to label others, and I don’t like to be labeled.
        I have not found a single term that describes who I am. I am more comfortable with adjectives than with nouns. On social justice issues I am usually on the liberal side. Morally I am conservative. Politically I consider myself to be quite independent. Theologically I would call myself confessional and in some respects radical, but I’d want to describe what I mean by that. Faith-wise I am evangelical, but I don’t want to be called AN evangelical, or A liberal, or A conservative, or A radical, because not one of those terms by itself defines who I am.
        There is a huge difference between being evangelical and being an evangelical. The adjective evangelical comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “good message,” or “good news.” The corresponding Anglo-Saxon word was god-spel, which was contracted, as is the way with words, in English to “gospel.” So the adjective “evangelical” means pertaining to, or characteristic of, or devoted to the gospel or the good news, specifically the good news of Jesus Christ. How could any

Thursday, February 5, 2015


There are some folks in the news deserving our plaudits and others deserving our criticism. Depending upon our political leanings and other factors, we will have our differences of opinion as to who deserves which. Below are some of my personal choices for kudos or catcalls. I invite viewers to add some of their own to the list.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady


Kudos to Tom Brady for wanting to giving the 2015 Chevy Colorado pickup truck he received for being the MVP of the Super Bowl to his teammate Malcolm Butler for his game-winning interception in the final seconds of the game. . . .

Catcalls to the creators of most of the TV commercials on Super Bowl Sunday. How can so many advertisers get it so wrong? . . .

Kudos to Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll for the way he has dealt with the harsh criticism he has received from the Monday morning quarterbacks and second guessers who know what he should have done after the fact. Coach Carroll had a game plan. If it had worked, and the chances were good that it would, he would have been hailed as a genius. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that Marshawn Lynch, as good as he is, would have scored. The Patriots might have risen to the occasion. They were not looking for a pass. The quick pass, could well have worked, had not Malcolm Butler made an incredible interception. . . .