Saturday Song For Liam

The news this week from my friend Liam, who I have known for at least 15 years, was not what anyone wanted to hear.  His mother, who had fought bravely with cancer, was getting worse, and the family from across the country was either at her bedside, or flying to be with her in Maine.   The tone of his voice as he conveyed the message made mere words unnecessary. 

There are no words to say at times like this, though I struggled with a few bits of comfort and advice with Liam, fully understanding that there are no words that don’t bounce around and then veer off in these times of sadness.  However, there are still some truths that surround us all, and when the spoken words miss the target, often a song and a melody strikes the mark.

There was one song that kept coming to my mind in the worst of my times, and I think the message one worthy for today.  Our prayers and thoughts are with Mary Jane, Liam, his dad, and brothers.

Will Pope Benedict Condemn Catholics Who Deny The Holocaust?

This is one of those measures of a man that comes once or twice in a lifetime.  Pope Benedict has the chance to remove himself,  and the Catholic Church from the past.  Can he do it?  Does he want to do it?

This is a big one.

The Israeli government demanded that Pope Benedict XVI explicitly condemn Catholics who deny the Holocaust.

The intervention came despite repeated concessions in the lead-up to the tour by the Vatican, which is desperate to smooth difficult relations with both the Jewish and Muslim worlds.

The Pope insists his eight-day trip is a “pilgrimage” to Holy Land sites but it has become embroiled in disputes over controversial comments he has made affecting relations with both religions.

Shortly before the Pope landed in the Jordanian capital Amman, where he was greeted by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, a minister in the new Right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu released the text of a letter in which he referred indirectly to the Pope’s lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, the breakaway English Catholic bishop who has denied aspects of the Holocaust, in January.

“I would like to point out that Holocaust survivors in Israel and elsewhere sincerely hope that your excellency will clearly condemn the purveyors of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, some of whom profess loyalty to your Church,” said the letter written by Yaakov Margi, Israel’s religious affairs minister.

In contrast to his popular predecessor, John Paul II, feelings in Israel are ambiguous towards Pope Benedict, a German who had to join the Hitler Youth as a child during the war.

If You Think State Job Layoffs In Wisconsin Are Troubling….


This will send some tremors through the bureaucracy.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to “fumigate” state government with the wholesale dismissal of all appointees of ex-governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan – some 3,000 agency officials, and board and commission members.

Madigan unveiled his plan to reporters a few minutes ago. (Yesterday) The measure, to be introduced in bill form next week, would give Gov. Pat Quinn 60 days to decide which holdover from his two predecessors he wants to keep in his administration. He would be able to re-appoint those people. The rest would be summarily fired, on grounds that they were brought in under two governors whose tenures were hopelessly tainted by scandal.

“Our intent is not to be critical of all these people . . . but there clearly is a demand among the people of the state . . . for the fumigation of state government,” said Madigan.

Quinn said a little while ago that he’s receptive to Madigan’s idea (despite the fact that Madigan’s bill is kind of a jab at Quinn for failing to purge his new government of Blagojevich-Ryan holdovers. “I’m not satisfied with the pace of change,” Madigan said.)

Pick Up A Brad Meltzer Pleasure This Weekend

I have found a new author to enjoy.  

While Brad Meltzer’s books have been around for several years, I just finally bought one of his writings….and then another….and I am hooked.

One of the most difficult aspects to writing is the plotting of the storyline.  To play out the characters, their motives and interactions, and make the ending plausible is a truly complicated task.  To do that with a highly charged political drama on the scale that Meltzer writes is a joy to think about after the book has been devoured.  I would ordinarily say that one could reflect on the way the writing was done during the actual reading, but I find Meltzer’s books so suspensefulthat I do not want to detract from the actual story.  Meltzer truly has a gift for telling a story in written form.

My first Brad Meltzer read was “Book Of Fate”, and as soon as that was done I headed off to Borders bookstore and pondered which of his books would be my next quick fiction read.  After I made the selection of “The First Counsel” I came home and found a YouTube advertisement for the book.

Now that warm weather is beckoning us to take a fast-paced book out on the porch, to the beach, under a shade tree, or wherever you hang out, I think you can not do better than Brad Meltzer tagging along this summer.