Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Fall Harvest $#!+$!!!

Due to political correctness my school will not be celebrating Halloween today. We will be celebrating a Fall Harvest Festival. The leadership of our Parents Association decided that we might offend someone if we called it Halloween.


Anyway, Happy Halloween!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Teachers Union Facts

Considering I'm deeply involved with the teacher's union, I probably shouldn't give these folks any extra attention. But, it's too interesting.

My Gmail ads popped a link to Teachers Union Facts. Among the items on the website is a contest they tried to hold to give $10000 to really bad teachers to quit their jobs.

Not much else there but still an interesting website. I wonder who funds it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wazzup guys for Obama

I found this through the NY Daily News. Anheuser-Busch wants this ad pulled but they are apparently legally powerless to do so. The ad is somewhat strange but it's almost like seeing old friends...

First, the original ad:

And now, the Wazzup Guys for Obama ad:


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No on Prop 8!

I've been following the debate on Proposition 8 in California. The proposition would basically amend the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

I support a 'No' vote on Proposition 8!

I'm sure my publicly stated opinion will bring in commentary and emails from all sides of the argument. And, I invite them.

I will remind you that not long ago laws prevented interracial marriage. Arguments were made that such a marriage would harm our nation's children and bring about the end of society as we knew it. The arguments were disgusting. I am sad to say that the same arguments are being made again regarding same-sex marriage. Those arguments are disgusting.

This is a civil rights issue/state issue. There is no just reason that two people should not be allowed to celebrate their love through a legal union. It's simply wrong to treat people differently.

I am a supporter of The Human Rights Campaign, the biggest GLBT civil rights organization in our country. If you can spare a minute or two, please visit their website for more information.

Here are some ads urging voters to vote NO on Prop 8:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm in the elite!

This from our favorite Lutheran pastor, Father Anonymous:

Brian Williams asked John McCain and Sarah Palin to define "elite," and here's what they came up with: a mistake and two zip codes.

Palin's answer, which she repeated several times in the midst of some unrelated bluster, was "anybody who thinks they're better than everybody else." McCain's answer was "I know where some of them live ... the nation's capital and New York City."

As the good pastor puts it, Hooray! Check out the video here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We are New York effin' City!

I am disappointed by my city today. The City Council voted in favor of extending term limits, against the popular referendum that set them. With the vote, the City Council give the mayor and themselves the possibility to keep their jobs for another four years.

Personally, I'm pissed off. The argument the mayor is making that this offers the city a greater choice is ridiculous when you take into account the power and bank of the incumbent. Especially when the incumbent has $100 million dollars of his own money to spend on a campaign.

As innovative and successful as I think this mayor has been, I think this move places him squarely on my "Return to Sender" list. I thought I'd support him, but his continued argument about choice shoved me to other side.

Many have been arguing that in this time of financial crisis we need this mayor. It's the same argument people made to try and extend Rudy Giuliani's term back in late 2001. We needed Giuliani to get us through the aftermath of September 11th. Turns out we did just fine. We are New York effin' City! We will be fine!

I'm looking forward to the campaign against the mayor and his city council pals.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Term Limits should be overturn by the people

In a few hours the New York City Council will vote on whether to extend the term limits. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking to extend his stay as mayor through an election for a third term next year.

I am a fan of Michael Bloomberg. He has been an innovative mayor and, in my opinion, done a decent job. I can't say I'm a fan of his education policy or his Chancellor of Education, but for the most part, I've been a Bloomberg supporter.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of term limits. Although it gives new voices and ideas a chance at bat, I believe in the natural term limit that is an election. Essentially, if you suck at your job, you don't get reelected. I do think we need to change the rules a little so that the incumbent doesn't have such a lopsided advantage over the challenger - but that's for another day.

In our current situation, the term limit law was passed by voter referendum. The mayor, through the City Council, is trying to pass legislation that overrides the voter referendum to change the term limit law. It is within their legal rights to do so. But, is it right?

Here you have a city legislature and a mayor who are going to overpower the will of the people so that they may keep their jobs. Don't do it!

I wrote a letter to Mayor Bloomberg expressing my disappointment in this maneuver. I suggested, as others have, that the city vote in another referendum early next year to overturn the term limit law. Let the people overturn it, not the politicians.

Here was his response, in what I am sure is a mass email reply to anyone expressing their concerns (my comments are in bold):

Dear Mr. Ledesma: (he called me Mr. Ledesma!)

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about term limits. (Anytime.)

In recent weeks and months, I've listened to many different New Yorkers with lots of different opinions on the issue of term limits. (Including two letters from me.) But as Wall Street has entered its worst crisis since the Great Depression, and our economic situation has become increasingly unstable and worrisome, the question for me has become far less about the theoretical and much more about the practical. And that means asking a very basic question: Is it in the best interests of the City to give voters more choices in next year's election? (Good question. Would you be giving New Yorkers more choices by giving them the opportunity to vote for the incumbent or would they have more choices by giving others a chance to run?????)

I understand that people voted for a two-term limit, and altering their verdict is not something that should be done lightly. The City Council - a democratically elected representative body - has the legal authority to change the law, and if it does so, the final verdict would remain with the City's voters. On Election Day, it will be up to the people to decide which candidates have earned their vote, and which have not. (I am afraid that the people of this City will turn on the mayor and not reelect him based on the change in term limits. He'll go from being a decently popular mayor to being a despised one.)

I've always supported term limits, and I continue to do so. (He's not acting like it.) But I also don't want to want to walk away from a city I feel I can help lead through these tough times. If the Council passes an extension of the term limits law from two to three terms, I plan to ask New Yorkers to look at my record of independent leadership - and then to decide if I have earned a final term. (Again, I'm afraid they might say no!) Whatever the Council decides, I'll remain focused on doing my job and finishing this term as I began it: by working day and night for New Yorkers and the City I love.

Thanks again for taking the time to write. (Anytime.)


Michael R. Bloomberg (What does the 'R' stand for, by the way?)


Here's the thing, I actually think that if the term limit law went to referendum, the people of NYC would actually extend the term limit law in order to keep Bloomberg around for another term. But, the people of NYC also do not like to be f%$*ed over. They will react and it won't be pretty for Bloomberg.

I'm disappointed by the mayor, the Council Speaker, and my own City Councilman on this issue. Based on the likely candidates for mayor next year, if Mayor Bloomberg is given the chance to run again, I will vote for him.

However, I will have no problem in trying to kick out the City Council members who vote to pass the extension. This is our democratically elected body. I will, democratically, help to kick their @$$es to the curb. I'm looking right at'ya Peter Vallone, Jr.!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

9/11 Paid Holiday?????

I heard about a town giving its police force a paid holiday on September 11th last night on the news. I only heard the headline and changed the channel so I had assumed it was a local police force - perhaps on Long Island, NJ, or Westchester. But, it turns out it's Peadbody, Massachusetts (population 48,000).

I understand the connection, they're cops. But on that Tuesday morning, 7 years ago, the cops of the NYPD and Port Authority were not on a holiday. They were working. They did their jobs. In fact, there were countless police officers, firefighters, and other service personnel who were off-duty that day and ran to the scene to help. You honor these people by taking the day off????

Really, Peabody, Mass.?

Maybe I'm off-base here, but knowing how crazy, disgusting minds work, wouldn't you want your police force at the ready in case there's a copycat twisted terrorist out there? Think Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma on the second anniversary of the Waco seige.

It's our duty to remember the people who died and suffered that day. But, we must remember that the day started just like any other. People went to work - all of them. It was a devastating day, but one we must honor through remembrance of those who were taken from us and gratefulness towards the people whose everyday job it is to look after us. I don't think having the day off is the right way to observe that Holy Day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

VOTE NOW: Healthcare for all?

My friend Xavier is an actor, comedian, and filmmaker out in LA. He submitted this video for CNN's iReport Film Festival and is a semi-finalist. Take a look.

Then, go to the Ballot Page and vote!

Voting ends at 11:59pm, October 22nd. Vote now!

(Having trouble posting the video so just click on the links for now).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lance and Me

I hope to some day have a beer with Lance Armstrong, until then I'm glad to be a Team Livestrong Runner. For those of you who do not know, I finally feel ready to run a Marathon again. I've signed up for the NJ Marathon on May 3, 2009. I will be running and raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

November's Men's Health has a story on 20 Heroes of Health and Fitness that includes Lance Armstrong. How could you not?

(Side note: The cover of the issue spotlights Barack Obama as one of the 20 Heroes on Health and Fitness. Although not a political piece, I think their timing is suspicious. Plus, it's a weak piece - basically naming him a Health and Fitness Hero simply for being fit even though he's a busy guy and being an inspiring guy. I might have to write them a letter.)

Back to Lance. The article focuses on his work through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They use their $40 million budget to improve the lives of people living with cancer.

"I'm surprised almost every day that this country isn't more appalled at the devastation cancer creates. Not every few days, but every friggin' day, 1,500 Americans die from this bastard of a disease," Lance is quoted as saying in the article.

I agree with Lance and would love to see more prevention and screening education in the US. That's why I'm running for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

If you'd like to help, please go to my fundraising website and donate what you can. Prayers are also welcome.

(Photo courtesy of

I did write Men's Health a letter voicing my disappointment for putting Barack Obama on the cover as a Hero of Health & Fitness.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Sarah Palin Rap

Sarah Palin was on Saturday Night Live last night. She opened the show and had this piece during Weekend Update. I think they could've done more but her people probably kept her from doing something too silly or offensive.

Here is the rap Amy Poehler did on Sarah Palin's behalf. I wish they had let her do this on her own! BUT, they might've lost some votes. Oh well! Something to note for possible undecided voters, she seems to be able to move to a beat:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

That's so gay!

"That's so gay!"

That phrase was the topic of conversation recently. I'm glad to see that celebrities are getting into it.

Check out Hilary Duff's ad:

Now check out Wanda Sykes' ad:

I love Wanda Sykes!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A funny line from the hearing on Term Limits

From the NY Times:

Michael D. D. White, a lawyer who blogs at The Huffington Post, was the next up. Referring to the two-minute limit on testimony, he said, “I’d like to have my limits extended to five minutes, please.” When Mr. Felder politely declined, Mr. White said, “You don’t like the rules being changed in the middle of the game.”

I think the New York City Council Hearing on Term Limits is the best show on TV right now. Major props to NY1 for their non-stop coverage.

McCain wins the funny vote

Last night my kickball friends and I had a fundraising party at a karaoke bar. I think we raised about $700 for The Children of Peru. Our big draw was the singing.

Last night was also the Alfred E. Smith dinner that raised $4 million for Catholic Charities. Their big draw was John McCain and Barack Obama.

Next season we need to invite John McCain! He was hilarious at the dinner! They both had good lines, but McCain's writers did a much better job. Check it out for yourself.

This is McCain, Part 1:

McCain, Part 2:

Obama, Part 1:

Obama, Part 2:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Poltical joke of the day

I'm watching the New York City Council Hearing on Term Limits and wondering how some of these people get elected into office.

Speaking of political jokes, I got this funny joke from Wendy's Uncle Steve via email:

While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the senator.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening Dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time to visit heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the senator. 'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.

What happened?'

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning.

Today you voted.'

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From the NY Daily News: You can't sue God!

No praying on the Almighty! Judge tosses suit against God

The Lord has one less thing to worry about.

A Nebraska judge tossed out a state senator's lawsuit against God, ruling the Almighty can't be sued because his heavenly address is a bit out of reach.

"There can never be service effectuated on the named defendant," Douglas County District Court Judge Marlon Polk wrote in his decision on Tuesday.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sought a permanent injunction against the Holy One to prevent him from unleashing natural disasters that cause "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The Omaha senator, who doesn't have "an atom of religion" in his body, said he decided to target the Lord to prove a point that "every lawsuit must be allowed to be filed."

His suit was prompted by two attempts by the Nebraska Legislature to limit "frivolous lawsuits."

Chambers, who is planning to appeal, said courts already acknowledge God's existence by invoking His name during oaths, so He doesn't need to be served.

"The court must recognize the consequences of that acknowledgment - that God is all-knowing," Chambers said. "God does have actual notice."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The working poor grow in numbers

A friend posted this link on Facebook. This is worrisome and reassures my choice in joining the fight by registering with the Working Families Party:

Working poor problem getting worse
Jobs paying below poverty line rise 4.7M in four years
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The number of U.S. jobs paying a poverty-level wage increased by 4.7 million between 2002 and 2006, according to a new analysis of census data released Tuesday.

A report by The Working Poor Families Project, based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, found conditions worsened for the working poor in the four years ending in 2006, as the number of low-income working families increased by 350,000. The project is funded by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and C.S. Mott Foundations.

The report defines a low-income working family as those earning less than twice the Census definition of poverty. In 2006, the most recent year for available data, a family of four earning $41,228 or less qualified as a low-income family.

The number of jobs with pay below the poverty threshold increased to 29.4 million, or 22 percent of all jobs, in 2006 from 24.7 million, or 19 percent of all jobs, in 2002.

"The real surprising news, the alarming news, is that both the number and percentage of low-income families increased during this period," said Brandon Roberts, co-author of the report. "This was a time when we had solid and robust economic growth."

An increase in poverty "is not just a new phenomena over the last six months," he said.

Poverty-wage jobs increased in part because 2.5 million new jobs paid poverty wages; additionally 2.2 million jobs that paid greater than poverty wages in 2002 became poverty-wage jobs by 2006, as pay failed to keep up with the cost of living, Roberts said.

In two states, Mississippi and New Mexico, 40 percent of working families were low income in 2006, according to the report.

In 11 other states, at least 33 percent of working families were low income: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The number of low-income families rose to nearly 9.6 million, or 28 percent of the total population, in 2006 from 9.2 million, or roughly 27 percent, in 2002, according to the report. The number of children in low-income families rose by roughly 800,000 during the same period, climbing to 21 million from 20.2 million.

During the period, the number of working families spending more than one-third of their income on housing grew to 59 percent from 52 percent.

The report sought to address what it called myths about low-income families. For instance, it found 72 percent of low-income families work, with adults in low-income working families working, on average, 2,552 hours per year in 2006, the equivalent of one and one-quarter full-time jobs.

It also found that 52 percent of low-income families are headed by married couples; 69 percent have only American-born parents; 43 percent are white and non-Hispanic and only one-quarter of low-income families receive food stamp assistance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

on the way back from Madison...

We were on the plane, one of those under-50 seaters that feels like a bus with wings, when a helmet hit my elbow.

A tall tattooed woman excused herself for hitting me and tried to work her bags full of clunking gear into the overhead compartment. Her jacket said Gotham Girls Roller Derby. She looked badass.

It turns out Wendy and I were sitting across the aisle from Queens of Pain Captain, Suzy Hotrod. The plane felt that much smaller with all these tough looking women on board. There was some sort of comfort in knowing that if something happened to the plane, these ladies could put it on their collective backs and roll it safely to NYC.

I didn't have a chance to talk to any of them. They looked tired from a weekend full of whatever they were doing in Madison (my guess: beheading Midwesterners and eating live cattle).

In any case, were were on the plane with celebrities. Cool.

(Photo courtesy of

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In the land of cheese

There will be very little blogging this weekend because I am currently in the land of dairy, Wisconsin. Wendy and I are here visiting her sister and brother-in-law.

So far I have eaten scones, cheese, and meat.

And I meditated on what I had eaten and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Prayer in the City

Yesterday Wendy and I spent our Yom Kippur day off shopping on the East Side. We went to The Container Store and to Bed Bath & Beyond. I am so married.

As we worked our way from store to store, lugging big, heavy bags, I saw something that looked like an old telephone booth. I did a double-take because my eyes picked up something wrong. On my second glance I noticed that the booth said "Prayer" instead of "Phone."

I stopped to examine the booth a little more closely and saw that where the international symbol for a telephone should be there were two praying hands.

Inside the phone booth were instructions on how to use the booth. There's a padded kneeler that you can pull down. So I did.

I said a quick prayer (because the world can never have enough) and Wendy took pictures with my camera phone.

I can say this, it's cozy in there. I'm not sure if it's my preferred place to pray, but considering the lack of open doors at churches these days, the booth may have to do.
Next to it was a plaque explaining that the prayer booth is an art exhibit that challenges people to talk about prayer in public. I wonder if these were placed throughout the city, if it would catch on?

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation had this description up in their website:
Dylan Mortimer, Public Prayer Booths September – November 2008 Tramway Plaza, Manhattan

Image: Dylan Mortimer, Public Prayer Booths
Description: Dylan Mortimer’s work deals with how private faith functions in the public realm. The interactive Public Prayer Booth is a synthesis of a telephone booth and a prayer station. The viewer can flip down a kneeler and engage in prayer.

“My goal is to spark dialogue about a topic often avoided, and often treated cynically by the contemporary art world,” says Mortimer. “I employ the visual language of signage and public information systems, using them as a contemporary form of older religious communication systems: stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, church furniture, etc. I balance humor and seriousness, sarcasm and sincerity, in a way that bridges a subject matter that is often presented as heavy or difficult.”

The artist is based in Kansas City, and is a recent graduate of NY’s School of Visual Arts Masters (MFA) program.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Saint I never met but wish I did

I don’t do Book Reviews, but I do recommend books. Last week I finished a book I’m recommending to everyone, The Book of Mychal by Michael Daly. Here Michael Daly, a NY Daily News columnist, gives a very intimate portrait of the man that would become the first official recorded death on September 11thFather Mychal Judge.

This book is divine. Divine, in all senses of the word. I think what Michael Daly does here is not only bring back the man who thought that New York City was a holy place, but Daly also brings the forgotten stories of the men and women who make it holy. As a lifelong New Yorker, there are names in these chapters that sound familiar to me but the stories to go with those names have been forgotten. Michael Daly brings those stories to life and reminds us why we should never forget.

In The Book of Mychal, the holy people of the holy city are the homeless, the AIDS victims, the firefighters, the widows, and the children. These stories emerge in the telling of Mychal Judge’s life because they were his life. Father Judge devoted himself to them in a manner that evokes the compassion of Christ. All of us are called to love one another, but few have what it takes to do it. Mychal Judge had it.

Mychal Judge was a son of Irish immigrants, born in Brooklyn (Brooklyn!), who grew up to become a Franciscan friar and FDNY chaplain. His story is one of personal struggle – he took a vow of celibacy as a priest while dealing with his own homosexuality – and public struggle – he often clashed with the hierarchy of the Church. Despite his struggles, he found a way to connect with the people who needed him. He was a Saint.

I guess one of the highest compliments you can give someone who has passed on is that you wish you’d known them in life. I wish I had known Mychal Judge.

That should also be a compliment to Michael Daly who brought Judge's story to life so vividly and eloquently.

I say, "Buy it, read it, share it!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 401-keg.

I wonder how many times I can borrow from Deacon Greg this week before I get cut off... BUT, I could not pass this up because of the theme on my blog today. He cites a fellow deacon's financial tip:

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago, you would have $49 left.

With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left of the original $1,000.

With AIG, you would have less than $15 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214 cash.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

It's called the 401-Keg.

And now this...

From the NY Daily News:

The financial meltdown has wiped $2 trillion out of America's retirement accounts, the government estimated Tuesday - but someone forgot to tell the fat cats.

. . .

Peter Orszag, the top congressional budget analyst, said that translates into $2 trillion lost from pension plans in the past 15 months.

The bad news came as congressional investigators revealed that less than a week after getting an $85 billion federal bailout, a group of American International Group executives went to an exclusive beach resort for a week and blew $440,000.

"The federal bailout occurred on Sept. 16. Less than one week later, AIG held a week-long retreat for company executives at the exclusive St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif.," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cailf.)

Invoices showed AIG's resort bill included $200,000 on room fees, $150,000 on banquets, $23,000 in spa charges and $7,000 in greens fees.

AIG received an $85 billion bailout from the government last month.

We gave them how much for what??????????????????

Dow Down

Does anyone else feel like we just gave away a trillion dollars for absolutely no reason? Did it help? Is it going to help? Help who?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernake says it looks like our "economic outlook" is weaker. But, he claims, the bailout came just in time to prevent bigger, permanent damage.

Did it really???????????

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday School with Stephen Colbert

Man, I'd go back to Sunday School just to have Stephen Colbert as my teacher. I found this article, where he explains why he's a jerk on his show and his love for teaching Sunday School, on

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stephen Colbert was raised in South Carolina to be a Southern gentleman. But he spends his days being a jerk. It must be tough.

"I don't care what they think of me," Stephen Colbert says of his show's guests.

Not really, says the Comedy Central star.

"I was taught to be nice, so it's not in my nature to be a jerk," he told a crowd of fans over the weekend at the New Yorker Festival. "But I do enjoy it."

Colbert figures that's because he's embarrassment-proof. "There's an essential embarrassment to being a jerk, and I just don't get embarrassed about things," he explained.

The host of "The Colbert Report" spent 90 minutes out of character, regaling interviewer Ariel Levy about how his career was launched and deconstructing the process of playing the right-wing blowhard pundit named Stephen Colbert.

Before every interview, he said, he explains to his guest exactly what he's doing. "I tell people, 'He's an idiot,"' Colbert said, referring to his alter ego. "I say, 'Disabuse me of my ignorance."'

Still, there have been a few people who didn't quite get the joke -- or at least didn't laugh. Colbert says he knows he has offended Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, and early in the show's run, Bob Kerrey, the former governor of Nebraska who is now president of The New School, a university in New York, didn't seem to get that he was fake.

The comedian added that he does care about how people feel they're treated on the show.

"I don't care what they think of ME, but I am worried about their feelings," he said.

Colbert, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and kids, also touched upon one of his hobbies: teaching Sunday school. He's done it in the past and hopes to again next year.

"The great thing about teaching Sunday school is that these kids ask questions that even in college we thought were so deep," he said. Examples: What's beyond time? What came before God?

Then again, he said, sometimes they're just asking to go to the bathroom.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The VP debate - recap

I found this on Rabbi Bachman's blog. Fun stuff:
Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Last night I watched SNL. Genius! My fellow NYUer, Paul Snatchko had the link:

God is the ultimate judge

There's an internal fight brewing within the Catholic Church. Magdalene's Egg blogger, Father Anonymous, notes that it's not the first time in Church history.

On one side you have the hierarchy and conservative base claiming a moral argument in their support of life. To that end, they claim that voting for a supporter of abortion rights amounts to endorsing "homicide."

On the other side, you have a growing attempt by liberal Catholic groups arguing that the Democratic Party better reflects the full spectrum of Catholic teachings because they take into consideration ALL human life.

The NY Times wrote about it today. It seems that the Catholic Church is moving away from the business of informing consciences and more into the business of telling people how to vote. So, a group of nuns, clergy, and laity are arguing on the side of the individual's right to right to act according to one's conscience.

Deacon Greg Kandra pointed to this article on conscience by a retired priest:

Are bishops making Democratic Catholics choose?

Published:Sunday, October 5, 2008


On Oct. 2, I was a guest at the First Friday Club of Greater Youngstown which meets on the First Thursday of each month. “Preparing to Vote in 2008 Presidential Elections,” was the timely topic, and the presenter was Jim Tobin, associate director of the Ohio Catholic Conference Social Concerns Department in Columbus.

He sought carefully to nuance his presentation to avoid an obvious partisan position. A priest friend of mine who left active ministry in Washington, D.C., eight or 10 years ago had an exit interview with the cardinal. The cardinal asked him why he was leaving. He replied that there was no room for him in the Catholic Church. The cardinal was puzzled and asked what he meant. He replied: “I’m a Democrat.”

In the past there was the perception that the hierarchy in the United States tilted toward the Democrats. In these latter days the perception is the hierarchy tilts toward the Republicans as Democrats are viewed as the party of pro-choice and the Republicans, pro-life. Any American bishop today who comes out publicly to identify with a Democratic candidate would be shunned by his fellow bishops. Popes, cardinals, bishops have not been shy, though, about photo ops with Republican politicians, particularly as they preen being anti-pro-choice. “Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?” was the title of a 2006 book to which the author answered with a resounding no.

Jim Tobin followed carefully the script of the American Bishops, “The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” He attempted to acknowledge Catholic voters have a thicket of moral issues to cut through, yet abortion hovered above them all. Reflecting the bishops’ exposition, he underscored that all issues do not carry the same moral weigh.

Echoing the bishops, he noted Catholics have to act according to a well-formed conscience. A well-formed conscience, according to the bishops, is interpreted as being fashioned by Catholic moral teaching. Historically, the institutional church did not articulate clearly and concisely, unambiguously and unequivocally its understanding of moral positions. Through centuries it clarified positions. It would like members to think otherwise. When the Church governed the Papal States it routinely condoned capital punishment, a position from which it has shifted.

One’s conscience is one’s own. Ultimately, we live and die as a unique person if we are true to our own conscience. While we seek input from sources outside of self, in the end we have to decide for ourselves. Following the conscientious decision of another is not necessarily being true to self.

Conscience trumps hierarchy

Franz Jagerstatter was an Austrian farmer during the Third Reich. As a father of three daughters he was inducted for military service. He refused, saying Hitler’s wars were immoral. Even his bishop attempted to persuade him to comply “for the good of the Fatherland.” He remained steadfast and was eventually beheaded in a Berlin prison. Jagerstatter, a simply Catholic farmer, was able to conclude Hitler’s wars were immoral while the German-Austrian bishops were unable. They counseled compliance not dissent. He was true to his conscience, despite the bishops and today is being considered a saint, like Thomas More, faithful to his conscience.

Bishops indeed have a task to teach and educate, but they cannot usurp the role of judge of another’s conscience. That is domain of God alone. Unfortunately, today, they are perceived as being the judge of others’ conscience, particularly as they have politicized the Eucharist. They are determining who has a right to receive or not. They have sadly undermined their role as teachers by selective unfairness. They are slow to deny Communion to politicians who favor capital punishment, support an immoral war, the inequity of income distribution, etc.

The prayer a Catholic prays before receiving Communion is, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.” But now a Catholic needs to pass judgment on having a well-formed conscience before proceeding to receive Communion (praying now, “Lord, I am worthy!”).

Cardinal Newman’s Letter to the Duke of Norfolk is an effort to discern a personal conscience. He concludes the letter: “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink — to the Pope, if you please — still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.” Could not one today replace pope with bishops?

The present tilt of the American bishops to intimidate Catholics against supporting Democratic candidates by implying that they cannot possibly have a well-formed conscience undermines the individual’s right to act according to one’s conscience. It usurps God as the ultimate judge.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Love your enemies

Today I read Luke 6:27-38 where Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies. How difficult this message must have been! How difficult it still is for us!

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do no condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Well, having read that, I invite you to read the meditation in today's Forward Day by Day. It tells the story of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who actually forgave a cruel Nazi prison guard:

During World War II, Corrie ten Boom watched her sister suffer and die in a concentration camp at Ravensbrück, Germany. She herself suffered greatly in that same camp. Years later, Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness to a crowd in Munich. When she finished, a man walked over to her-a man whose face had taunted her by day and haunted her by night; he had been a guard at Ravensbrück. The man told Corrie that he had become a Christian. He had already sought God's forgiveness; now, he sought hers. He stretched out his hand towards Corrie and waited.

Images of her suffering sister rose in Corrie's mind. Forgiveness seemed impossible. But God had said, "Love your enemies." God had commanded, "Forgive." Corrie knew that forgiveness was not a feeling, but an act of the will. She prayed for help, then slowly stretched out her hand. Here is how Corrie describes what happened next: "The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. 'I forgive you, brother!' I cried. 'With all my heart.' "

God not only gives us a command to love our enemies, he also gives us his love with which to do so.


Francis of Assisi, Deacon?

I just learned something from Deacon Greg Kandra. Saint Francis of Assisi was a deacon, not a priest!

I did not know that.

"St. Francis of Assisi at Prayer"
by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1645.

Read the blog entry here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

VP debate

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for Bill Clinton, put it this way, "Biden won more points, but Palin probably won more hearts."

I agree. This is the same problem the Democrats have had in 2000 and 2004. They're not talking to the people.

Sarah Palin looked into the camera, smiled, winked, said absolutely nothing, and gosh darnit, people liked her.

Joe Biden spoke with experience, had his facts, and even choked up when he talked about his family, but he wasn't accessible. Unfortunately, accessibility matters to the general public.

Let me be clear, Joe Biden won the debate. But Sarah Palin also won. People are talking about how she did better than expected, how she held her own, and how she sounded better than she did in the Katie Couric interviews - that's a win after the lowered expectations.

On a side note, I loved Joe Biden's anti-maverick rant!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The last words of Jesus in Matthew

Last night I went to a Bible Study where we began what is to be a 5-week study on The Bible's Call to Mission. As we went through it and I pondered what my mission is, I came upon the final words of Jesus in Matthew:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Very powerful stuff. You could spend hours on just these words. But the last sentence, to me, is the most comforting sentence in the Bible because of these words:

I am with you always