Friday, January 2, 2009

Globetrotters—A Comparison

One of the better comparisons of the 2008 campaign and the response of the press to anything negative about Barack Hussein Obama is one offered by “Ace of Spades” blog (not always safe for work or family viewing). He makes a fair comparison that the relationship between the press and Obama is very similar to that of the referees and the famous Harlem Globetrotters.

Prompted by an article in the Washington Times which named Obama the “Best Political Performance of 2008” he observes the similarity. In my varied history I have had a casual relationship with the Globetrotters and heartily agree with Ace.

I believe it was over New Years in 1991, (my memory is a little fuzzy here,) that I was assigned the “trip” by the Greyhound dispatcher. I took the motorcoach to Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, picked up the team, took them to the hotel and later returned to take them to the Bradley Center for the game. They graciously invited my wife and I to join them for the performance with seats in the section reserved for the player’s wives. The whole episode was a hoot and one of our cherished memories.

The “game” is pretty much a set piece against their daily rivals, The Washington Nationals. It is liberally laced with antics and athletic daring-do with a predictable outcome. I have often wondered how the Nationals, mostly on the fringes of players not quite ready for the NBA, can endure losing game after game. The referees constantly ignore normal foul situations such as traveling and lane violations to even the use of a small trampoline for a spectacular slam dunk. Since there is nothing on the line here except wonderful wholesome entertainment, nobody cares and a great time is had by all. This is one experience everybody should have in their life and yes, they are coming to a town near you very soon. The only downside is that you carry the theme of “Sweet Georgia Brown” in your head for the next month. I’m even whistling it as I type.

It is with this familiarity with the ‘trotters that I endorse the comparison. When those who have the responsibility to “referee” the proceedings turn a blind eye to every infraction, the result is inevitable. The historical role of the press has been to provide an unbiased view of our elections and government in general; a role which they abandoned with the advent of “the one.” In sports reporting and recording, victories such as his are normally accompanied by an asterisk to denote a variance from normal procedure. Time will tell.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Gideons

During twenty-five years of my life, I traveled extensively in various jobs. All of this involved highway transportation of one sort or another and is remembered with much affection. Being gone from home an average of 150 nights a year is part of that experience and it’s not for everyone. Of those 3750 nights, I generally found refuge in a hotel or motel. It was a rare experience to not find a Gideon Bible in the nightstand by the bedside.

These devoted people are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their founding today. Here is the AP story as it appeared on the knoxnews website; so click and enjoy. You will learn some things about the Gideons which you may not have known. For example: I always thought of them as supplying these sacred books exclusively to hotels and was unaware of their presence in schools, prisons, and the military.

Among the comments on the article, I found a testimony which roughly paralleled my own regarding the welcome presence of that wonderful book. Unlike the commenter, I didn’t kick it under the bed, but I did experience an inner peace which I found very welcome at the time. Opening the book at random before going to sleep was much like a visit with an old friend and uplifting regardless of what chance page appeared.

Congratulations to the Gideons on their first hundred years. I shall pray for their continued success and the strength to continue their efforts.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on 2008

Is it over? Can I come out from under the bed now? Am I the only one who sees 2008 as one of the most bizarre of a lifetime?

There are two distinctly different ways to view the final turning of the calendar page at the end of the year. One is deep regret to see the circumstances and events relegated to memory; the other is the posture of good riddance of bad rubbish. Depending on your personal situation, you will probably assign one or the other and enjoy this New Year’s Eve with feelings of loss or heightened anticipation of the future.

As a family, we have much to be thankful for this year. In a land of capricious weather, we were not subject to anything which we could not deal with. Few terrifying storms interrupted the sanctity of our little paradise in the Ozarks. Early on we had considerable rain which turned the property into a veritable Eden. The Spring golf season at Honey Creek was disturbed by several holes closed on the back nine for nearly two months. The upside was my return, on a part time basis, to work in the club house.

There are several features which shall probably fix 2008 firmly in our minds as reference points of memory. The first is it shall forever be remembered as “the year of the perpetual election.” The downside was the presence of constant strife. The upside was the heightened awareness by the electorate of the machinations of government. Who can possibly claim that he knows less about those who would lead than he did in January? Whether this exercise in citizenship bears any useful fruit remains to be seen.

The second was the revelation of how fragile our economy was, is, and may in the future prove to be. If the powers that be manage to understand the year’s events and then take corrective action, we shall prosper and come out stronger. If they continue with their selfish agenda driven hocus-pocus, we shall all suffer. Simple solutions to complex problems are not always readily available and I do believe that “trail and error” is an inappropriate path to success. The most important question raised in the entire mess is one which has plagued me for decades: what is it about October which brings the fulmination of financial crisis? The tipping point for fiscal disaster of nearly every magnitude seems to occur about that time of year in each circumstance.

The third, which affected every one of Zion Beckons readers, is the radical fluctuation in the price of some commodities. The most obvious was the seemingly unchecked rise in the cost of fuel followed by the free fall to low levels of historic proportions. Although I believe I do understand the factors involved in both the rise and the fall of these prices; observations of the free market can still leave you scratching your head. A lesser cited rise in prices without an accompanying fall was that of food stuffs; particularly beef. One sees no relief on that front until the subsidies for alternative fuel combinations is abandoned.

The fourth feature of 2008 which is worthy of note is that it shall be come known as the year that the corruption of politicians reached a new low. You have your own concept of which was the most audacious example of public figures betraying the trust placed in them. I have already noted most of them with emphasis on my favorite examples. Fittingly, one of them, Rod Blagojevich, chose this week to appoint Burris to fill the seat in the senate vacated by “The One” over the objections of nearly everybody but his pizza delivery guy. Thus the year 2008 ends on a consistent note.

All in all, I don’t believe that we can claim to have suffered excessively over this last year. So far, I see little evidence we are affected too much by anything that has happened over the preceding twelve months. I will admit that keeping 3 Explorers (one never leaves the property) fed, licensed, insured and maintained seemed an excess but, they are a joy in foul weather. The creation of the new deck has proven a joy as well. Our critters have kept us comforted and the dogs, especially, have made exponential progress in bringing joy to our lives. The cats continue to be cats.

This seems an appropriate time to acknowledge our faithful readers and thank you for your continued interest: without you—nothing. I shall close with a quote from the last Monday Morning Rant of 2007 which I believe is as appropriate for this day as it was then:

“While I don’t pretend to be an able prognosticator, there are a few things which I believe you can count on in the coming year. If we hold fast to the scriptures, we will have our plans for doing His will in our grasp. If we can offer our opinions in a spirit of love for the hearer, we will become more persuasive. If we can love our God with all our might and mind and will, all will be well.”

Happy New Year!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 71

Let us start the Rant today with what I consider some the very best news I have seen come out of the Middle East in years. According to an ABC news report, the new Iraqi government has legitimized Christmas by declaring it a legal holiday. The decision affects only about 1% of the country’s 26 million citizens but stands out as an accommodation within the nation of a faith other than Islam. Many Christians had been reduced to living in isolated ghettos well away from large population centers and public worship services had been spotty at best.

I am excited because it demonstrates yet one more step in the maturation of the new powers that be in Iraq. The cornerstone of every working democracy needs be tolerance of people of all faiths to worship as they please without government intervention. As an ever increasing accumulation of rights is granted to the people they then have opportunity for growth within the legitimate framework of nations. I applaud ABC for bringing it to our attention and recognize it for the groundbreaking event that it is.

Christmas Aftermath

Christmas 2008 has now been relegated to history and we are now left with only the memories. Depending on what largesse you were expecting to receive, you may now either be disappointed or elated. If you are either, you didn’t understand the holiday. I am reminded of that venerable football ritual just as the game begins. The captains and the referees gather at mid-field, toss a coin, and determine who shall kick off and who shall receive. Substitute “give” for “kick off” and the analogy becomes clear The designated receivers are overjoyed to have the first possession and often, the advantage.

Unlike the football game, life is not necessarily a “zero sum” game. Often we find the longer lasting joy of the gift interchange to be on the side of the giver. Long after the gift is broken and cast aside, he still has the memory of the elation the receiver showed upon receipt. He remembers the kiss on the cheek, the pat on the back, or the tear in the eye of the one who found his/her heart’s desire in the package. He has the joy of sharing.

When I returned from Germany in 1955, my duffle bag was packed with items I had picked up for relatives and friends at home. Among them was a 3” replica of a Mercedes-Benz sedan in chrome, with wire wheels, full steering and a wind-up key. It was a gift for my brother who was thirteen at the time. Throughout the years, this handsome toy car occupied a place of prominence in his home and finally on his desk.. Fifty-three years later, upon his death last January, his widow graciously sent it home with me. I keep it on a prominent place on my desk as the same constant reminder of our mutual respect and love.

I cite this only as a reminder of how long lasting a caring gift may be. I have no memory of having made a great sacrifice obtaining the gift but I take consolation in having provided a gift which reflected thought on his heart’s desire; all of this from a toy car.

Plan B?

Like it or not, the congress of the United States seems bent on throwing your money down the rat hole which the US auto industry has become. Oh yes, they are planning on revisiting the on-going problem on the 31st of March and re-evaluating this issue. I’d certainly bet they will do little other than determine that the auto makers require yet more money with little restructuring of their business model.

About the only bright side of this matter is a priceless quote which was printed on the opinion page of the New York Times. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader (ed.--of the senate), warned on Thursday that “a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take everything we have.”

Obama baby boom?

Given the exuberance of the victors in the recent election it was posited that a possible “baby boom” might ensue. It was reasoned that the Obama enthusiasts might carry their political joys into their bedrooms and carry on their celebration there. Mark Hemmingway, who was questioned on the matter at National Review, had these remarks in response:

"Well, once again we have a reporter who flunked statistics:

Because variances in birth rate are an ordinary phenomenon, spikes in the number of births will occasionally coincide with a newsworthy event that took place three-quarters of a year earlier. Those who cling to the belief in blackout babies fail to accept that the same communities they point to as proof of the theory saw even greater leaps in number of births in years that weren't preceded by memorable events. Blackouts, snowstorms, and the like are more usually followed by perfectly ordinary birth rates nine months afterwards, but because human nature is what it is, we tend to remember only the events that fit the pattern we're determined to see and unconsciously discard all the rest, Thus, we'll recall that the Great Storm of 1983 was followed by a deluge of babies in the Fall of 1984, but we'll completely forget that the Great Storm of 1987 was followed by a perfectly ordinary turnout at the maternity hospitals in the Fall of 1988, or that the Great Baby Boom at the end of 1999 wasn't presaged by anything unusual that occurred in the Spring of 1999.

Such a query does; however, seem to confirm that no one was more turned on by Obama's victory than the media.”

And finally

We seem to have seen some resolutions to problems which have plagued our little paradise here in the Ozarks. I’m feeling better, the internet connection is feeling better, my bride is feeling better and the dogs are unaware that anything was wrong in the first place. The cats are manning the most favorable positions at my desk, looking out the windows at the bird feeders and salivating. The temperature has increased to the point that golf is a strong possibility today. Life is good and more importantly; God is good. He has set a high standard but I really do believe it is worth pursuing.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon