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Guest Commentary

A grab bag of thoughts, and happy holidays

12/9/2015

Cue the organist: A popular church hymn begins, “Onward Christian soldiers, Marching as to war…” That’s appropriate for Gov. Terry Branstad and his cohorts, and lots of Iowans who want to ban Syrian orphans and widows and others from being refugees in Iowa and the U.S. — and maybe even demand that any refugee be a bona fide Christian.

But, oops, there’s a glitch in the second verse that says the faithful army is “All one body we: One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.”

Not to worry.

Just make those last eight words, “One in fear and falsehood, One in  bigotry.”

Apt characterizations:

HIV

“The answer to my prayers” — U.S. Rep. Steve King on GOP presidential-nominee candidate, the ungodly U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The GOP nominee for President

Speaker of the House and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.  Forget about the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. After the damage inflicted by Donald Trump and many of the other Republican candidates, the GOP will draft Rep. Ryan, whose efforts to bring unity to the party in Congress will leave Republicans no one else to turn to for survival and their best hope for 2016.

Phoniest excuse in baseball?

Chicago Cubs rookie of the year Kris Bryant struck out a lot, but nowadays strikeouts are recognition that one has arrived as a slugger. So Bryant struck out 36 percent of the time in getting 26 homers. In the olden days, here’s how other home run hitters fared in career strike out percentages: Joe Dimaggio (361 HRs), 5.4 percent;  Ted Williams (521), 9 percent; Mel Ott (511), 9.5 percent; Hank Aaron (665), 11 percent; Willie Mays (660) 14 percent Babe Ruth(714), 15.8 percent. Even Barry Bonds, among contemporary home run hitters, (762) 15.6 percent of the time

What do we call:

  • Contrived vignettes featuring plastic people in phony situations? Reality TV!
  • A system based on pettiness, divisiveness and rumors and being nasty and ignorant? Social Media!
  • People who are asked to do almost impossible tasks, only to be ignored as they and their families suffer as a result of such demands? War Heroes!  — because talk is cheap.

Best summary of the 2016 campaign:

Robert Reich’s Blog: “The next president of the United States will confront a virulent jihadist threat, mounting effects of climate change and an economy becoming ever more unequal. Our process for choosing that person is a circus, and several leading candidates are clowns.”

The war against Christmas

The folks who claim there is a war against Christmas now complain that Christmas isn’t commercialized enough. They were upset because Starbucks had no reference to Christ on its holiday coffee cups. Here’s the next step for the people who can’t spell Christmas without C-A-S-H:

IHOP: What’s this nonsense about “International?” What’s wrong with the good old USA? Make it USHOP, a nice acronym for the purpose of the holidays. Feature pancakes and tell customers if they look hard enough they can discern the image of the baby Jesus in the mix of pancake, butter and syrup. But you’ll have to drop waffles from the menu because, as Robert Vander Platts says, Jesus does not love people who compromise.

PIZZA PLACES: Your vegetarian pizza is, of course, The Gethsemane featuring olives just like those on the Mount. And don’t forget The Magi, with its golden crust and flavors featuring frankincense and myrrh for that sacred aroma.

On the other hand:

All the above are but reminders of what’s important in life and how much we should cherish the upsides, especially family and friends, hope and faith. CV

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview.

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