Politics: Don't Tread on Me

Right-wing domestic terrorists have carte blanche

BurnsIt’s good to be a white domestic terrorist in the United States.

Armed self-proclaimed “militia members” have seized control of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Gun-toting individuals from a dozen or more states have been showing up in the small town since November, when two convicted arsonists had their too-lenient sentences revoked in favor of federally-mandated longer minimums.

The patriots terrorists, whose leaders include Ryan and Ammon Bundy, sons of scofflaw Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and internet media producer Pete Santilli, claim to have 100-150 followers (although that number is heavily disputed and may be only 10% of what is claimed). Continue reading

CATEGORY: FoodDrink

New Year’s Eve cocktails and libations: cheers from Scholars and Rogues

With the new year nearly upon us, our thoughts have turned to a bit of end of the year celebrating. I asked my fellow Scrogues for some recipes and recommendations for appropriate libations with which to ring in 2016.

Some of the recipes below are, not surprisingly, a bit–involved–shall we say. Weeks of aging, hours of simmering, days for delivery–all are par for the course for people who have sought the unusual, creative, or just plain tasty. Even if you can’t get immediate gratification with some of the recipes below, you can always plan ahead for next New Year’s Eve. Or for a festive midwinter night when the cabin walls have closed in just a little too tightly.

From all of us, Happy New Year. Cheers, Santé, Prost, Na zdrowie, Salud, Sláinte, L’chaim. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Public Idiot

Pay-to-play GOP debates

bjc9anecLast night Donald Trump made an interesting proposal: CNN should pay $5 million for Trump to participate in the next GOP debate on December 15. The money would not go to Trump, but to a charity for veterans. Here’s the proposal in his own words:

So maybe, how would you like to do this. Fox, for the first debate, ended up with 24-25 million viewers, maybe the largest show in the history of cable. CNN had 23 million people, it was the biggest show in the history of CNN. This isn’t me, this is from showbiz. Okay? The biggest ratings in the history of CNN.

They cover wars, they cover this, they cover that.

How about, the next debate is with CNN. Now you have to tell me, because I know what they’re going to say. Ohh Trump is chicken, how about I tell CNN (who doesn’t treat me properly, they don’t). Right? They really don’t.

How about I tell CNN that I’m not going to do the next debate. I’ll tell you the problem. This is a nice thing…

How about we do this with CNN, I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million. All of which money goes to the wounded warriors and the veterans. Seriously! I would love to do it.

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Donald Trump, Public Idiot

Would Donald Trump close the Westboro Baptist Church?

I’m not saying that Donald Trump ought to close the Westboro Baptist Church. Or that Donald Trump ever said that he might close the Westboro Baptist Church. I’m just asking if he would.

Republican candidate Donald Trump told MSNBC Monday that he would consider closing US mosques with radical leaders if he were elected president. Continue reading

EDWINS

The EDWINS Project: a model from Cleveland for reentry

EDWINSA couple of weeks ago I got to tour a new residential project that is taking shape a few blocks from where I live. It’s not a new a development or a swanky condo high rise. It’s a campus to house students from the EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute. The students are former prisoners, mostly from correctional institutions in Ohio, who are working to build new lives on the outside by training full-time for careers in the restaurant industry. The campus will provide a safe, convenient living space for people who might otherwise be homeless.

So far, about 89 students have completed their training at EDWINS in 2 years. The placement rate is over 90%. The recidivism rate: 0%. That’s a much better success rate by far than any sports team in Cleveland could ever hope to have–and one that is far more important.

EDWINS restaurant is in the northwest block of the Shaker Square commercial district. The cuisine is classically French and the atmosphere is upscale enough that we often feel not dressed quite right to even stop at the bar for a cocktail (although last winter, on a blustery, snowy night we holed up by the fireplace in jeans, and no one seemed to have a problem with it).

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CATEGORY: Guns

The sin of gun violence

GunShowI have been asked many times in my life whether I “believe that Jesus died for your sins?” Well, yes I do.

But I also believe that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. died for our sins. Hey, I’m a Unitarian-Universalist.

And I believe that people continue to die every day for our sins. For the sins of greed, and

Cleveland’s homicide rate just topped 100 for the year. Up 80% from 2011—although the numbers have been rising every year.

In the past month that number includes 5 year-old Ramon Burnett, 3 year-old Major Howard, and 5 month-old Aaivelle Wakefield who was shot while strapped into her car seat. Five. Month. Old. Continue reading

Ben-Carson

Ben Carson’s magical thinking on the Holocaust

In yet another bit of stunning historical revisionism, GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson claimed in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the Holocaust may not have happened if Europe’s Jews had been armed:

“But just clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would 6 million Jews have been slaughtered?” Blitzer asked. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Religion

The legacy of Pope Francis will not be his meeting with Kim Davis

PopeFrancisI was disheartened, to say the least by yesterday’s headlines regarding Pope Francis’ meeting with Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis. And yet this meeting did not cause me to lose hope in his ability and intention to bring about significant changes in the Roman Catholic Church.

“Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk, Is Said to Have Met Pope,” New York Times

“Pope Francis met privately with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Vatican confirms,” Washington Post

The first was posted on Facebook, the second sent to me in an email. The Facebook post came from Connie Schultz, author and columnist from Cleveland. She responded, “Kim Davis has now managed to poison the joy of so many who saw the Pope’s visit as a sign of hope. God’s work, you understand.” Her post was followed by an outpouring of disappointment, sadness, and some anger. Continue reading

WesSupremeCourt2

It will simply be marriage

WesSupremeCourt2On Friday June 26, James Obergefell, who was prohibited by the state of Ohio from listing himself as the surviving spouse on his husband, John’s death certificate, was granted a victory by the US Supreme Court in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. He spoke for about four minutes on the meaning of the decision for himself personally as well as for the country. My favorite part of his remarks was this explanation:

“It’s my hope that the term ‘gay marriage’ will become a thing of the past, that from this day forward it will simply be ‘marriage.’ And our nation will be better off because of it.”

Elsewhere in the crowd, in an Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirt and green John Deere baseball cap, my friend, Wes Givens, made a short post to Facebook:

WesWeWon

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trump

Donald Trump angers Neil Young in latest GOP song appropriation gaffe

trumpThese are probably not the sort of stories that Donald Trump wanted to start off with:

The New York real estate mogul arrived on stage at his campaign kickoff announcement Tuesday as the sounds of Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” blared through the atrium at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. . . .

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a statement from Young’s team read. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”

But, then again, The Donald seems to be of the school that believes that any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right. Continue reading

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Encountering Mt. Doom: hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

15 - 2Completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in on March 25 was neither what I anticipated nor hoped for. My husband,  John, and I have been planning our trip to New Zealand for months and since seeing the trek described as “one of the world’s top single-day hikes” we had put it at the top of our to-do list.

New Zealand consists of two main islands and Tongariro National Park sits in the middle of the North Island. For people who are not trekking enthusiasts, the way that the park is most familiar is that it was the filming site of the fictional Mt. Doom in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are several volcanic peaks in the park. Mt. Ngauruhoe, an iconic and stark volcanic cone became Mt. Doom–from which the One Ring was forged and to which it had to be returned.

First, let me say that the 19.4 kilometer “Crossing” was more of a “climb” than a “hike.” If I had understood more about the nature of much of the trail in advance–I might have had second thoughts. I read through the website, did some other research, looked at the beautiful pictures. The incredible scenery was all there when I did the hike. But, not surprisingly, there are not a whole lot of pictures of the narrow hogbacks that had to be climbed or descended (probably because few people are of a mind or stomach to stop and pull out the camera under those circumstances).

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Mr. Spock is dead: RIP Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy passed away today at age 83. I read that he was taken to the hospital last Thursday with a possible heart attack, so I am not completely surprised. I am, instead, deeply saddened. It’s like the end of The Wrath of Khan–but this time it’s for real and there will be no Genesis planet.

Spock: The ship… out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh…
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Kirk: Spock.
[Spock sits down]
Spock: I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
[he places a Vulcan salute on the glass]
Spock: Live long and prosper.

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It’s a good day to be a Buckeye

OSUScoreEven if Ohio State had lost the National Championship last night, I’d still be a Buckeye fan today. Granted, I’d be wearing my scarlet and grey a bit more humbly, but I would still be wearing it. My earliest sports memories are of watching Ohio State football on TV. The first coach whose name I knew was Woody Hayes (no, I’m not getting into an argument today about him).

What a season. Continue reading

A Christmas Story

Tamir Rice in the land of “A Christmas Story”

tamirTamir Rice grew up–and died–in the city that has adopted the movie A Christmas Story as its own, Cleveland, Ohio. But there is a vast gulf between Tamir Rice and Ralphie Parker that, even accounting for the gulf between real life and fiction, cannot be reconciled. At this holiday season, when the TNT network is about to indulge in its annual 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon, it seems a particularly appropriate time to reflect on the recent tragic shooting.

On Saturday, November 22, a man made a 911 call to the Cleveland police about “a guy with a pistol, and it’s probably fake. . . but he’s pointing it everybody.” Continue reading

CATEGORY: World

Havana here I come!

After 54 years, the United States will finally do the right thing, normalize its relations with Cuba and end its embargo. The embargo may be the longest-lasting ineffective and nonsensical foreign policy  in US history. This means that twenty years after getting my Masters in Latin American history, I will finally be able to legally visit one of the countries I read so much about. I’ve always supported the idea that the best way to “open” Cuba would be to normalize relations and expose Cubans to the flood of ideas–rather than trying to strangle it–ineffectually–into submission. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Funny

Breaking Bad toy fiasco

Irwin Mainway would be proud. Even he would have a hard time topping this headline: “Toys R Us pulls meth-toting ‘Breaking Bad’ action figures from shelves after Florida mom’s protest.”

The dolls, based on the recently concluded AMC series, featured characters based on White, a meth-cooking high school science teacher, and his sidekick, Jesse Pinkman. Along with the action figures, the toys came with fake bags of meth, sacks of cash and gas masks.

For those of you not old enough to remember, Irwin Mainway was a sleazy toy salesman who was perennially grilled about his dangerous toys (such as “Bag of Glass”) by Jane Curtin on the “Consumer Probe” skit. The toys were over-the-top ridiculous. Continue reading

ALECvUU

ALEC: Church activists are hurting us. Make them stop

ALECvUUThe conservative political Goliath known as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) may have met its David in the guise of Unitarian-Universalists and other progressives. ALEC has been wounded not with a sling and stone, but knowledge and organized financial pressure on its corporate backers.

On October 17, ALEC sent a fundraising  email to its members and supporters that starts off:

“Professional activists ranging from Common Cause to the Unitarian Universalist Church just won’t stop. As part of their misleading smear campaign, these activist groups demand members stop working with ALEC.”

It sounds, almost, unfair. “Professional activists” picking on poor ALEC.

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SCotUS

Scalia and categorical religious beliefs

SCotUSJustice Antonin Scalia believes that “religious beliefs aren’t reasonable.” He is not saying that religious beliefs are not appropriate or not fair–that would be a shock, coming from him. Rather he goes on to say that “I mean, religious beliefs are categorical.” In other words, religious beliefs are unequivocal or unconditional.

Scalia made that statement yesterday during oral arguments for the case Holt v. Hobbs. The case involves a prisoner in Arkansas, Gregory Holt, who is a convert to Islam. He wishes to wear a beard in accordance with his new-found religious beliefs. The state of Arkansas is insisting on enforcing its state-law which prohibits prisoners from wearing religiously-motivated beards for security reasons (namely the threat of prisoners hiding contraband in their beards). Holt tried to be “reasonable” about his request and agreed to limit the growth to a half-inch. Scalia’s response to Holt’s request, reported in The Washington Post,  is telling:

“Well, religious beliefs aren’t reasonable,” Scalia said. “I mean, religious beliefs are categorical. You know, it’s ‘God tells you.’ It’s not a matter of being reasonable. God be reasonable? He’s supposed to have a full beard.”

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LeBron and the Prodigal Mother

LeBronLicenseEver since LeBron announcedI’m coming home to Cleveland,” there has been a persistent “LeBron James as prodigal son” meme. There’s even a movie (OK, a 4-minute video). Now an Ohio state representative, Bill Patmon, is proposing a “LeBron James Witness 2.0” license plate, to “honor the return home of our prodigal champion.”

For those of you who don’t remember the New Testament parable of The Prodigal Son, a man had two sons. The older one stayed at home and worked the farm with his dad. The younger asked for his share from his father, went out in the world and blew the money on fast living. Younger son makes his way back home. His father is overjoyed at his return and orders a big celebration (to the disappointment of the fatted calf). Continue reading

By Cat White Posted in Sports
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Princeton Mom and the Chinese Government are on the same page

What do American conservatives and Chinese Communists have in common?

50__s_Housewife_ad_cutout_by_AbsurdWordPreferredHere’s a question I never thought I’d ask: What do the Princeton Mom, Susan Patton, and the Chinese government have in common? Answer: they both advocate educated women choosing marriage over careers.

In case you missed the Susan Patton story, she’s the Princeton alum and proud mom of “two [male] Princetonians” who wrote a letter to the Daily Princetonian advising coeds to “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.” Her reasoning is interesting:

Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are.

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