American Family: A New Normal

By Jim Berlin

A married couple I know, Joe and Jean, said they recently had to have “that talk” with their teenagers.

“It was hard,” Jean said. “The kids have been complaining that they just don’t seem to fit in with their peers.”

“How so?” I asked.

“For openers, they don’t do drugs or binge-drink. And they’re not LGBT…lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

“A lot of kids aren’t,” I said.

“There’s more,” Joe offered. “They don’t have ADD – attention deficit disorder – or even attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity – ADDH. They’re pretty much acronym-free.”

“What about a messy divorce over highly-personal sexual issues?” I said. “Anything the children can obsess over?”

“No, we’re a happily married man and woman with standard-issue genitalia,” Joe said. “Hell, we’re not even Latino, Black or Native American, so there’s no clubs for them to join at school.”

“So how did you break it to them?” I asked.

“We just told them flat out: You’re part of an

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abnormal American family and you’ll just have to live with it.”

“How did they take it?”

Joe and Jean brightened. “Not well at all,” they said. “With a little luck, there could be therapy in their futures.”



“The Amazing Race” in Hanoi:
It’s Why Communists Love CBS

By Jim Berlin

When iconic CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite returned from a quick trip to Vietnam in 1968, he won the hearts and minds of U.S war protesters by declaring victory impossible. Negotiation, he said, was the only way out.

Walter may have been right. But after that many Americans began referring to CBS as the “Communist Broadcasting System,” and apparently the network doesn’t mind a bit. This week CBS’s hit show “The Amazing Race” was set in the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, and our former enemy is still making hay over their “victory” in a war that claimed 60,000 American lives.

As part of their continuing search for clues, contestants in The Race were cheerfully directed to the sad site of a B-52 bomber shot down in 1972. Some of the five-man crew were killed, the rest were imprisoned.

The excited contestants didn’t pause for a heartbeat to wonder what the wrecked U.S. plane was all about. Like the show’s producers, what it symbolized and how it might play back in America was of no concern.

The racers and millions of American viewers also sat through a Red-flag-waving propaganda song and dance show featuring English subtitles on the screen (for our benefit) that included “Vietnam Communist Party is glorious,” and “The light is guiding us to victory.”

Like I said, 60,000 American men and women died in that war. Their loved ones and relatives number in the tens of millions; many still have a hole in their souls and pain every day.

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CBS, it seems, doesn’t give a damn. It doesn’t give a damn about the 60,000 who died. And it doesn’t give a damn about cheerfully using as a prop the wreckage of a plane that carried some of them to their deaths.

And yes, the show’s producers told their Hanoi handlers, we’ll also be happy to show your propaganda song and dance. Complete with subtitles. Whatever you want.

Walter would not have approved.


Hillary,Portman on Gay Marriage:
Why they Changed Their Minds

By Jim Berlin

Let’s say you’re a charter member of the “Save the Coyote” foundation. You rightly point out that despite their nefarious ways coyotes are simply trying to survive.

There is no room service in nature, and unless they kill and eat something on a regular basis they cease to exist. You even have two bumper stickers on your Prius: “I brake for coyotes,” and “God loves coyotes and so do I.”

Then one day you’re sitting in your front yard playing fetch with your beloved little poodle, Fifi. And out of the nearby woods rushes one of those coyotes that God loves and you brake for. In a flash, he snatches up your precious little poodle and races back into the woods. Fifi has fetched his last ball.

Your deeply-held belief that coyotes are cool has been challenged by an intensely personal event. You loved Fifi more than God loves coyotes. Off come the bumper stickers.

That’s kind of what happened to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who came out this week in support of gay marriage after a lifetime of opposing it. Reason: His only son came out of the closet. His flip-flop is understandable if not admirable. We expect deeply-held beliefs to be, well, deeply held. Yet, we also understand love.

Hillary Clinton also came out this week in favor of gay marriage after a lifetime of opposing it. She opposed it when she ran for president in

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2008 – because 61 percent of Americans also opposed it.

Now, the latest poll has flip-flopped. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now favor gay marriage. And Hillary, who is already running for president, flip-flopped right along with them. Her deeply-held belief was challenged by…her deeply-held belief that she wants to be the next president. Love is not in the equation.

There are reasons to change your mind about coyotes. Some are better than others.

Jesus and Peter Unimpressed
by Humility of Pope Francis

By Jim Berlin

Admirers of humility are making much of the fact that the new Pope Francis lived in a modest apartment, cooked for himself and rode the bus to work while toiling as a cardinal in Argentina.

No big deal. Jesus often slept on the ground and was such an accomplished cook he once fed hundreds of followers a feast of loaves and fishes at a moment’s notice. (Each diner also received a small dinner salad with blue cheese dressing.) And The Man walked  — not rode – to work every day, when he could have had his pick of the best donkeys in Jerusalem.

That a pope is being praised for being down-to-earth is indicative of a long-standing problem among the Catholic hierarchy. The bishop in the city of my youth lived in a beautiful mansion in an exclusive part of town and rarely ventured out to visit the masses.

I saw him for the first and only time when he came to our parish to administer the sacrament of Confirmation. This was when my fellow seven-year-olds and I publicly professed our faith and, hopefully, received the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The ceremony included a part where we knelt at the altar railing, were anointed by the bishop and then kissed his ring. When it was my turn to comply I lowered my head toward the jewelry in question, stopped an inch short of it,

and made a loud smacking noise with my lips.

I did not kiss the bishop’s ring.

First because it struck me as unsanitary, and second, because even at seven years of age I wasn’t in the ring-kissing business.

Upon meeting Peter, whom Catholics consider the first pope, the Roman centurion Cornelius fell at the fisherman’s feet and was immediately admonished: “Stand up,” Peter commanded. “I am a man just like you.”

Pope Francis seems to get that. If he keeps it, the Catholic Church has brighter days ahead.


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