Thursday, May 25, 2006

Little Ricky and the mess he makes!!!

I am not one who normally levels withering attacks against our elected officials. When it comes to politics, I'm equal opportunity...I believe they' re all corrupt.

From the no-load state representative of my legislative district who has been in office for 23 years and has done little if anything for the district, but still gets re-elected because he has his cabal of supporters that are able to get out the vote and until this latest election has had little if any competition due to the overwhelming apathy of the voters, to the US Senator who may or may not live in a house in Penn Hills while his family spends the vast majority of time in Virginia, who was able to game the system into having the taxpayers of the Penn Hills School District into paying for his kids' education in a cyber school. I have a deep distrust of people in elected government positions. The nature of politics is such that in order to get elected, you have to make promises that you: either can't keep or have no intention of keeping. Pathetic but true.

My rant today concerns one Richard Santorum, junior Republican Senator reputedly of Penn Hills by way of Mount Lebanon and Virginia. Little Ricky, as I like to call him, is in a very tough Senate race with Scranton Democrat, and closet conservative Bob Casey Jr. Support for Little Ricky is on the wane as people in Pennsylvania have seen the link between him and President Bush, and Little Ricky has jumped into the closest lifeboat and is trying desperately to paddle away from the SS Bushatanic as fast as possible before the undertow of a 30% presidential approval rating, an even lower congressional approval rating, a Mt.Everest sized national debt and a quicksand like war in Iraq sucks him under. Little Ricky is to the right of Attila the Hun. His book "It Takes A Family: Conservatism and the Common Good" espouses traditional conservative values such as the sanctity of traditional marriage, the building up of strong traditional family units and other conservative themes. Fine and dandy...whatever. He is a staunch Roman Catholic who, while he claims that he isn't a member of the controversial ultra conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei, is very supportive of what they stand for. Don't forget folks, this is a group that advocates self flagellation among its more dedicated members. Hm-hmm. Little Ricky has a habit of injecting himself into things that he has no business being in. When the very sick and ailing Pretty White Girl in Distress de jour Terri Schiavo was dying and the country was dragged into this ordeal mostly by the pro-life conservatives who were looking to make political hay from this family's misery, who do you think was leading the way in trying to save her life through the power and the privilege of the Senate?? You guessed it! Little Ricky. This is a man who whined about having to serve on jury duty with the quote ""If this is what people think is a good use of their United States senator's time ..." (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov 24,2004). Even though he didn't end up serving due to conflicts of interest, this clearly shows that he feels that he does not have to do as the rest of us do, and that the laws of the land do not apply to privileged Senators and their spouses. No, Little Ricky, that's bullshit. Next to military service and voting, one of the greatest obligations and privileges that an American has, is serving on a jury. In a time where people are using every excuse and trick in the book to get out of jury duty, I would think that a US Senator would be willing to lead by example and submit himself for this duty gratefully, if for no other reason than to show respect for this right and obligation. Then again, considering that like most of the leadership of this nation, Little Ricky had never put on the uniform of his country and served it in a meaningful capacity, I should not expect him to understand the meaning of service and sacrifice for country and flag.

The latest flap concerns his residency status in Pennsylvania. Little Ricky and his family, like most US legislators have two homes, a home in the district he or she represents and a home in the DC area for convenience in being able to access to the Capitol and other governmental facilities. Fine, no problem. But what makes this fish stink is that when Santourm ran for the Senate the first time, he accused the incumbent Senator Doug Walgren of being a carpetbagger and living outside the district. Can you say 'hypocrite' boys and girls??? I knew you could!!! He swore that he would keep his primary residence in Pennsylvania, well, that promise went out of the window. Little Ricky and his family own a modest two-bedroom house in Penn Hills which is a solid middle class suburb east of Pittsburgh. Now one of the things that's kind of screwy about all this is that the Santorums, being a good Catholic family that observes the mandate from Holy Mother Church to be fruitful and multiply, have a veritable Brady Bunch. Six adorable children. Now, I'm not the smartest knife in the drawer. Math is NOT my specialty, but even an idiot like me knows there ain't no freakin' way in God's green earth that you can have six kids and two adults in a two bedroom home without some serious overcrowding!!! Unless they have the kind of situation I experienced in the Navy where you have triple decker racks that allow 20 guys to live in a space meant for five, stuffing six kids into one bedroom just ain't possible. And another thing, why move OUT of Mt Lebanon, which is an old money suburb south of Pittsburgh into Penn Hills? No disrespect to the good people of Penn Hills, but Little Ricky and his brood can pretty much live anywhere he wants in Western PA. He's a freakin US Senator for God's sake!!! He has a home in freakin' Virginia!!! He's bucks up!!! Well, anyhoo, a couple years ago, he was able to game the system into having the taxpayers of the Penn Hills School District pay the tuition for his kids to attend a cyber charter school, which is a school that has no building, no brick and mortar facility whatsoever outside of an admin office somewhere and all the learning takes place online via the Internet. Charter schools in Pennsylvania get much of their funding from the school district the kids live in. So the taxpayers of Penn Hills got to see their taxes go towards educating the Santourm children who just happen to live about 400 miles away in Virginia. The school board went apeshit, and held a hearing to determine whether the Santorums actually met the residency requirements for having the district pay this tuition. Ultimately Little Ricky ended up prevailing on this issue on a technicality, but due to the negative publicity, he pulled the kids out of the cyber school and now home schools them. And to this day has never paid the school district back the money they spent on educating his kidlets. As usual, Little Ricky blamed the whole mess on the Democratic political machine in Penn Hills and Pennsylvania overall who, in his mind engineered the whole thing to discredit him. Not that he needs much help in that area. Earlier this week, he leveled charges against the Casey campaign accusing them of having people go to his Penn Hills home and peek in the windows to see if he, or anybody actually lives in the house. Neighbors say they have never seen the Santorums living in the house and there are accounts that the house is unfurnished. Little Ricky has reacted to the point of having Penn Hills and get this, US Capitol Police!!!, go to his house and patrol the area. Um, since when does the US Capitol Police have the authority to go to Pennsylvania to patrol a Senators home? And to use his jury duty sniff: "Is this the best use of Capitol Police time???" Little Ricky is blaming anyone and everyone who is registered Democrat and has gone as far as accusing the local Penn Hills Democratic leadership of being shills for Bob Casey Jr!!! His wife is claiming that people snooping around the house is causing mental anguish amongst the Santourm children. How can that be Karen? The kids are with you in Virginia!!!!

Clearly, Little Ricky is seeing that his grip on his Senate seat is slipping away and has gone into total crisis mode. He's seeing Democratic demons behind every door and under his bed. And unless Bob Casey Jr completely drops the ball and does not take advantage of the latest Little Ricky meltdown, it's safe to say that we'll have a new junior senator for Pennsylvania. although it's being said that Casey is even further to the right of Santourm and that he has all the charisma of drying paint. Like the Pirates, Casey just may find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and then we'll be stuck with four more years of Little Ricky livin' La Vida Stupido!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa...

Well campers, this is the first weekday after The DaVinci Code came out in theaters. According to the AP story out today, the movie based on Dan Brown's runaway best seller pulled down $224 million worldwide and $77 million in the US and Canada for the opening weekend. In case you've been hiding out with Osama Bin Laden or spelunking in the Inner regions of Outer Mongolia, or you're like President Bush who has claimed that he doesn't read newspapers, the plot behind the DaVinci Code revolves around the belief held by certain religious scholars that Jesus Christ was married, had desecendants, and that such descendants are living amongst us today. Also according to the book and the movie, the Catholic Church has been covering up the whole thing. Of course, depending on who you talk to, the whole idea of such things happening range from a distinct possibility to outright denial. There were the usual protesters outside movie theaters doing their best Chicken Little impressions buttonholing anyone who stood still long enough to harangue them that this movie is blasphemy and that any "true" Christian worthy of the name would not darken the threshold of a movie theater to watch such clap-trap, and to do so was to give the Devil a foothold into their soul and to further guarantee their speedy descent into the fiery bowels of Hell.

Personally, I have not seen the movie yet, although I will check it out when it comes out on DVD. I'm just not a movie theater kind of guy. Something about people chatting incessantly on cell phones during the show and other distractions tend to put me in a mood to commit grievious bodily harm on people who distract me from getting into the flick, so in the interest of not starting a criminal record and to maintain the general safety and welfare of the movie going public, I tend to stay away from movie houses. Anyhoo... I have no reservations about seeing the movie. I do not believe that I will be committing blasphemy by seeing the movie and I don't believe that my soul is in danger by seeing the movie. I have seen more than a few movies that make light of religion and mock the stories of the Bible and come through no worse for wear. Besides, anything that gets the Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church's knickers in a twist, is cool with me. I just love seeing leaders of those bodies getting into a state of high dudgeon and getting their righteous indignation on. It's high comedy. Don't get me wrong, as I have said numerous times in this blog, I am a Christian, I can say the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds without crossing my fingers. However, I am becoming quite skeptical about the ways that the organized church has taken the simple Gospel of Jesus and perverted it, used it for political gain, excluded certain minorities from exercising their God-given abilities in the Church, engaged in inter and intrachurch warfare, and have used it as a cudgel to keep people in line rather than a tool to bring people into the Church. I don't mean that the whole Church is guilty of such things, but when you have a divinely created organization that's staffed with humans, many of whom have agendas, and the desire for power, bad things will happen.

What I do find encouraging is that some churches, instead of spazzing out and going into the usual "Let's boycott this Satanic abomination" mode have decided that discussion and dialog are far better responses to movies like the DaVinci Code. I read in a Pittsburgh Post Gazette article that a local church bought out the first night's showing of the movie in a local theater in order to foster dialogue about the movie, and approach hot button issues from a rational point of view. This same church also did the same thing for Chronicles of Narnia and The Passion of the Christ. And upon reading this article, I said to myself " Finally, a church that has a clue!!!!, Brilliant" This congregation is doing the right thing. Instead of being afraid and defensive, it is encouraging people to see the movie, make up their minds and come out to discuss their feelings about this movie. There other churches that have taken this approach to their credit. This is what the church should be doing instead of always beating people upside the head with the Bible and always going into crisis mode. There are times when it is necessary to raise the call to arms, but this isn't one of them.

This movie is fiction, like the book that spawned it. The church will not topple because of one controverisal movie. This is a church that has survived for over 2000 years, and has seen all manner of off the wall teachings come and go. Some of those teachings have a grain of truth in them. The Catholic Church has covered stuff up before, maybe there is something about Christ having a family. The witnesses that walked and talked with Jesus wrote about their experiences forty to seventy years after His death, how much have memories faded over that time. It's a well known fact that many fragments of writings from many people who hung around with Christ were stricken from the "official record." History is written from the victor's perspective and usually to make the victors look good. In various church councils, many historical accounts were declared non-canonical or deutero-canonical. Most of these accounts were patently absurd, but how many of them were true? Truth exists in many different perspectives. But I believe that holding debate and dialog is much more constructive than church leaders assuming their flock are too ignorant and uneducated to handle deep theology and witholding controversial teachings from them. Not just nonbelievers are seeing the DaVinci Code, devoted Christians are watching it too, and no impassioned yammering or threats of excommunication from the pulpit will stop them doing it.

Church leaders, give your flocks benefit of the doubt. Don't treat them like little children who must be kept away from the Boogie Man. Any Christian who's faith is solidly grounded will not be affected by the seeing of the DaVinci Code, and if there are those who question what they believe, maybe it's not a bad thing. It's not always good to believe everything we're told. And the smart person will check out the facts, do the research and come to their own conclusions. I've read the book and will watch the movie on DVD, and most likely move on, but who knows, maybe there is something to all of this.