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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Obama goes to church

For probably political reasons, Obama went to church last week for the fourth time in 19 months. Not a sterling record but who am I to say anything? It’s four more times than I have been to church in a much larger time frame than that. I don’t think church is a necessity for the average person to lead a proper and honest life although it probably can’t hurt.

Churches are suffering an attendance problem, especially the Catholic Church. I grew up in the ‘50s as a non Catholic in a heavily Catholic neighborhood in the heavily Catholic city of Cincinnati. Our family lived three blocks from a large Catholic Church, St. Mary’s. It was an old neighborhood with street parking only and the cars of those attending the myriad of masses on a Sunday were parked all the way to our house.

The Catholic kids I knew were well trained and never missed an opportunity to tell me my Presbyterian Church was totally incorrect in its doctrine and that the Catholic Church was the only “true” religion. St. Mary’s was run by the Jesuits and they are great teachers and brainwashers. I heard a priest say once that if they could keep a kid until 15, his thinking would be irreversible. He was wrong; I knew several who left the church.

The remarks of those kids didn’t bother me as I wasn’t crazy about church anyway and I quit going as soon as I was old enough to pull it off. But, in those innocent days of the ‘50s when most kids did as they were told, Catholic Church attendance was high. A Gallup Poll from 60 years ago shows that 75% of Catholics went to Mass. Today it is 45%.

Currently, two out of three Catholics in the greater Cincinnati area don’t go to Mass anymore. It’s not just there that this is happening; Mass attendance has been declining for decades across the country as people find things they would rather do. Some cite busier schedules, changing cultures, and what I believe is the main reason: discontent with Catholic leaders.

The Church is against birth control and is firm about an all male priesthood. Also, the many clergy abuses with children have hurt the cause as has the mild punishment handed out.

In the past, the poor depended on the Church for a social life as they were shunned by society. Today, Catholics are as rich and educated as anyone else and don’t depend on the Church as much. Also, many are turned off by the churches liberal attitude based on more government control and higher taxes.

A few years ago, the Catholic Churches of Phoenix ran TV ads asking “Catholics to come home.” Whether they did or not, I don’t know but in 2004, Bishop Thomas O’Brien of Phoenix was discovered to have been harboring pedophile priests for 20 years. Shortly after that, he was arrested for a felony hit and run accident. Such activity by a church leader is inexcusable and didn’t help church attendance.

Is church attendance on the decline? Recent figures say “yes”, especially for the Catholic Church.

To leave a comment or to read 51 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Mexico and illegal immigrants

New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment


I found some interesting information this week about New Mexico’s attitude toward illegal immigration.

With longtime Democrat Bill Richardson as governor and a 2008 population of 895,000 Hispanics (45% of total residents), I figured The Land of Enchantment had to be sympathetic toward illegal immigration.

Also, with the availability of driver’s licenses for illegals and that Obama won New Mexico’s five electoral votes in 2008 by a 57% to 42% margin plus New Mexico’s voting record of going blue in four of the last five presidential elections, the state surely had to be a hotbed of welcome mats for those who arrive there illegally. Did I mention that Richardson is also of Hispanic descent? Yeah, he is.

It’s no wonder 100,000 illegal immigrants have hit the highway out of town in reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070 law. It looks like New Mexico is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, maybe not. According to a recent poll by the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico voters strongly disapprove of illegal immigrants being allowed to acquire driver’s licenses in their state by a 72% to 20%margin. 6% had mixed feelings, 2% didn’t know.

Also, a majority gives its approval to Arizona’s new immigration law. 53% approve, 35% disapprove, 7% have mixed feelings and 5% don’t know. In the Hispanic community, Arizona’s law was favored by 39% with 48% disapproving. Most of the disapproval was based on the feeling of a general dislike for Hispanics.

Professor Gabriel Sanchez of the University of New Mexico said that while voters in the state are not as much in favor of SB 1070 as the rest of the country, they are becoming more disenchanted with illegal immigrants.

Hispanic voters agreed with the majority on the driver’s license policy as 67% opposed it. They also supported the city of Albuquerque’s policy of checking immigrant status of anyone who is arrested with 79% approving. That sounds like they are members of Secure Communities.

Who would have thought those numbers would appear in New Mexico? Gomer Pyle probably would have said his trademark, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

What happens now for the illegal population if New Mexico doesn’t welcome them? Oregon and Utah will issue driver’s licenses to non American citizens so I guess for illegal immigrants it time to pack up, head to those states, and hope for the best.

To leave a comment or to read 59 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blogs" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAliister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fox News blondes

Megyn Kelly of "America Live" weekdays on Fox News

Poor Kim Guilfoyle. Kim is a raven haired beauty, a successful lawyer, and gets good face time on Fox News. So, why would I refer to Ms Guilfoyle as “poor Kim”? It is because she is not a blonde and blondes are a specialty of Fox News.

I have no problem with the blonde invasion of Fox. If it was just a cosmetic fix to attract male viewers, it may get tiresome but the blondes on Fox are ladies who are intelligent and know how to gather and report the news without exhibiting a “come hither” demeanor to attract male viewers. There is nothing like the combination of beauty and brains for a television news network to get their message across and Fox has both.

I grew up in the era of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Harry Reasoner. They got the job done in the black and white TV era but today it’s the sizzle as much as the steak that viewers want. The Fox blondes have that sizzle but it is subtle and not overdone. It’s as though they are bland Peter Jennings reporting except they are gorgeous women.

Whether you like it or not, it’s all about ratings in the broadcast business. How does Fox continually wallop their competition at the other cable news networks? They simply have better people running the place from the top down.

Roger Ailes runs Fox News and he knows what works. It’s not like he invented smart, beautiful blondes to do the news. It’s been done before with Lesley Stahl who is now 68 and Diane Sawyer who is 65. Both ladies were beautiful and intelligent in their day (still are!) but the networks never utilized them in a way to increase their audience share.

Now that the nightly network news is fading away with uninteresting ancho*rs like Katie Couric (she is a blonde too), and weak cable outlets like MSNBC and CNN, Fox has become dominant. They are the maverick who took a chance and it has worked. They remind me of the days when ABC News was always dragging a weak third in the ratings behind NBC and CBS. They tried three ancho*rs reporting from three cities but it didn’t work. Teaming Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner was also a mistake as they complemented each other like oil and water. I always gave them an “E” for effort though since they at least tried.

Whether you are familiar with the Fox blondes or not, I would hate to be the one who tries to
dominate Megyn Kelly, Shannon Bream, Lis Wiehl, Juliet Huddy, or Gretchen Carlson. If you were looking for a really bloody nose, seek out Laura Ingraham!

Detractors like to call Fox News “Faux News”. I love it when I read that, every knock is a boost and envy is a terrible thing. That’s too bad for them.

To leave a comment or read 32 other comments, click "Jim's az central blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Beer!!!


Schoenling "Little Kings", a staple of Cincinnati brewing.

Whether we call it suds, a cold one, a draw, a brewski, a dime draft, or whatever, most of us will admit that there is not a better beverage than beer. It’s the world’s most highly consumed alcoholic beverage and third overall behind water and tea. That’s not bad considering that technically it is illegal in most places to drink the foamy stuff if you are under the age of 21.

When I was growing up in the predominantly German city of Cincinnati, it was known as one of the great beer cities. Local brews dominated sales and when I worked in a local store, I was surprised if I sold more than a couple 6 packs of national brands Budweiser or Schlitz in a week. Everyone wanted the local stuff like Hudepohl, Burger, Schoenling, Weidemann, or Bavarian. Most of those brands are gone now as the national brands drove them under through their massive advertising and deals for suppliers.

I remember when Miller High Life was a premium beer and sold great in that clear bottle. It was called “The Champagne of Bottled Beers”. It died for a while but is coming back through some good TV ads. However, it is being promoted as a lower end product kind of like Keystone’s relationship to Coors. In other words, to me it looks like they are after the shot and a beer crowd.

Speaking of that foolish practice, my friends and I used to go to town on weekends in my Air Force days to get sloshed in a hurry as there were two reasons we were there: Find a good bar with a band and meet girls. Our standard procedure was to eat a few 15 cent McDonald’s burgers, drink a few shots and wash them down with some beers. My standard order was three or four bottles of Schlitz and a couple snorts of Southern Comfort. Needless to say it created a nice buzz and occasionally I would actually meet girls if I didn’t throw up first. I still wonder how many times I danced the Twist and the Limbo in those days.

Coors is an interesting beer. Brewed in Golden, Colorado, it was known as “Colorado Kool-Aid” by many because it was very light. For years it was not sold east of the Kansas-Missouri border which brought about some stories of how people back east got the stuff. That ended when Coors went national.

In an effort to fight off beer giant Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller merged in 2008 and so far seem to be doing all right. Anheuser-Busch sold out to a Belgium firm which was a shocker to me. I couldn’t believe them not being owned by the Busch family of St. Louis. But, in these uncertain times, nothing should surprise us although I shake my head when I see a bottle of Budweiser now.

Today, the small micro breweries seem to be doing well with all sorts of different tasting brews. Stop by The Yard House sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Desert Ghost, CJ, Kevin and I met there a few weeks ago and enjoyed the combo of great suds and classic rock.

Life is good!

To leave a comment or to read the other 52 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.