Presty the DJ for July 9

Today in 1955, “Rock Around the Clock” was played around the clock because it hit number one:

One year later, Dick Clark made his first appearance on ABC-TV’s “American Bandstand”:

Today in 1972, Paul McCartney and Wings began their first tour of France:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for July 9”


The budget after vetoes

The MacIver Institute analyzes the 2019–21 state budget after Tony Evers’ vetoes:

Wisconsin governors might have the most powerful veto pen in the country, but it’s much more useful to conservatives than liberals. The pen can only take things out of the budget and reduce spending. It cannot create new items nor increase spending, at least technically.

And so, when the Republican Legislature presented Gov. Evers with their $81.4 billion budget on Friday, there was nothing Evers could do to get it back to the $84.2 billion he wanted to spend. However, he certainly was not going to sign the Republicans’ budget without making some changes. Here’s what Evers did and did not do in his 78 line-item vetoes.

  • Maintains a $500 million-plus income tax cut as passed by the Legislature. The bottom two individual income tax brackets will fall over the next two years, as shown in the chart below.

  • Increases per pupil school aid payments. The Legislature had proposed increasing those payments to $679 in the first year of the budget and $704 in the second year. Evers’ veto decreased the amount in the second year to $63, and then eliminated the language referring to the second year. The end result combines the $679 with $63 and puts it into effect immediately for a total annual per pupil aid amount of $742.

  • Expands eligibility for a $5.3 million supplemental per pupil aid grant program. More school districts would be eligible for the additional funding compared to JFC’s budget.

  • Rolled back Walker-era welfare reforms. Evers vetoed a work requirement for able-bodied adults with school-aged dependents who receive FoodShare. He also removed drug testing for FoodShare recipients who are able-bodied adults with no dependents.
  • Reduces a $90 million investment in local road aid funding to $75 million, saying that the provision “creates yet another one-time subsidy to the transportation fund and illustrates the missed opportunity to provide a sustainable funding solution that would allow this program to be an ongoing investment in local communities.”
  • Removes a $2.5 million mileage-based fee and tolling study for the Department of Transportation (DOT). As originally worded, this provision would have allowed for the Joint Finance Committee to include any study recommendations in the next biennial budget. Following an outcry, an amendment changed that language to allow the full legislature to pass along recommendations. Now, the entire study is deleted.
  • Makes design-build official without a pilot program, and removes most of the prescriptive language in the item.

  • Eliminates $18.3 million over the biennium to provide laptops for every high school freshman. That provision, which first appeared in the 2017-19 budget, was inserted into the current document in JFC’s omnibus motion on K-12 education.
  • Eliminates numerous earmarks for transportation and otherwise, including a noise barrier along I-41, a required interchange on I-41, and bridge repairs in Kaukauna. Evers vetoed out a lot of items in the budget that included specific locations, but kept in the money so the DOT can spend it wherever it thinks the need is greatest.
  • Vetoes out a provision that would allow Tesla to sell cars directly to consumers. That idea, while a good reform, was introduced in a last-minute amendment to secure the vote of Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield).
  • Vetoes changes to truck fees to bring $7 million more in transportation funding. Evers’ budget retains a uniform $100 fee for trucks under 6,000 pounds, $106 for trucks between 6,000 and 8,000 pounds, and $155 for trucks between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds.
  • Extends funding for 38 more state auditors through the end of the 2025 fiscal year. The JFC budget had authorized those positions through the 2023 fiscal year.
  • Vetoes numerous criminal justice spending items, including funding for a new maximum security prison in Green Bay to replace a current structure.

Two of Evers’ vetoes are improvements. Design–build in road projects is grossly overdue. The Legislature should never have put the per-mile study in the budget. I eagerly await someone’s explanation of why spending should increase as much as it has when enrollment is decreasing as much as it is.

Matt Kittle observes how Evers has channeled his inner James Doyle (the Democrat who, when Republicans controlled the Legislature, famously said we could not and he would not increase our taxes … until Democrats gained control):

Gov. Tony Evers made a lot of promises on the campaign trail.

On Wednesday, the Democrat traded in some of those key campaign pledges — Medicaid expansion at the top of the list — for a boatload of new money.

At a press event surrounded by cabinet secretaries, Dem lawmakers, and, of course, children, Evers not-so-begrudgingly signed into law an $81.4 billion biennial budget crafted by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The governor made the document a bit more to his liking with 78 line-item vetoes, cutting some GOP initiatives while bolstering K-12 funding by $63 per pupil over the life of the budget.

The Republican budget, Evers insisted, was “insufficient,” and he claims he “strongly considered” vetoing the bill in its entirety “because it did not do enough to ensure our kids and our schools had the resources they needed to be successful.”

But this governor asserts he’s all about putting people above politics.

“Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin had to put up with for far too long,” he said, taking a shot at Republicans who had controlled both the Legislature and the executive branch up until November, when Evers narrowly defeated two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker at the polls.

Perhaps Evers was trying to rise above the “divisiveness and petty political theatrics,” but he clearly saw a golden goose opportunity.

Republicans have spent the past couple of months in a funding arms race against the Democrat, crafting a big budget that spends big to, as they have acknowledged, keep a full-budget veto threat in check.

The final document includes more — significantly more in K-12 education spending, transportation, health care, capital projects, and higher ed. It pumps some $44 million into rural broadband funding, and adds nearly $100 million more in special education. Rural hospitals get more, there’s more for child welfare programs, more for nursing homes and personal care workers, there’s, well, there’s much more.

And Evers knows it.

A full veto would have cost his liberal-spending agenda a lot more.

Yet, the Democrat campaigned on Medicaid expansion, building his budget on all of the “free” money that is supposed to come with the Obamacare commitment. Dismissing the myriad problems that have come with the government program, Evers made expanding Medicaid his political line in the sand, threatening to veto any budget that did not include his proposal. His liberal allies egged him on, urging him to outright reject the Republican spending plan.

But then he saw all the money the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee dumped into Medical Assistance, and the governor seemingly made peace with the idea of letting go of his No. 1 campaign promise. He finds comfort in telling himself his first budget, mainly written by Republicans, is merely a “down payment” on his “People’s Budget.”

Besides, the Democrat said, vetoing the entire budget would fail to acknowledge that because of his massive spending plan, “Republicans finally took a step forward in making the investments for progress to occur.”

Republican leadership applauded Evers for signing the budget that they ultimately wrote, a budget that maintains the majority party’s $500 million-plus income tax relief package. The tax-cut lowers individual income tax brackets over the next two years. The Republican plan also didn’t include a gas-tax hike, something Evers said was critical to transportation funding.

“I want to thank Governor Evers for signing the budget into law today, including fully embracing the middle-class tax cut,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said following Evers’ budget-signing ceremony.

Fitzgerald said the final budget “targets state investments more responsibility” at about $2 billion less than the governor’s original plan.

Republicans, however, are not happy with Evers’ vetoes.

“This conservative budget crafted by the Republican legislature deserved to be signed into law, but without the political, partial vetoes,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said in a statement. “These vetoes remove dollars from important programs, give more spending authority to government bureaucrats, and allow people to cheat the system by not following the welfare reforms we passed.”

Evers vetoed a work requirement for able-bodied adults with school-aged dependents who receive FoodShare. He also removed drug testing for FoodShare recipients who are able-bodied adults with no dependents.

“Because of his partial vetoes, he’s starving programs that incentivize work, undermining their implementation and skirting the law. We know people support drug testing and work requirements for welfare recipients and this budget ignores that fact,” the speaker added.

The governor axed a $2.5 million controversial mileage-based fee and tolling study for the Department of Transportation. Critics were concerned about the original language of the measure, which gave the Joint Finance Committee authority over recommendations from the study.

Evers also vetoed out a provision that would allow Tesla to sell cars directly to consumers. That idea, while a good reform, was introduced in a last-minute amendment to secure the vote of Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield).

It’s clear Republican leadership believes they collected a win in the final budget, despite Evers’ vetoes. The governor signed the 2019-21 budget just three days after the last two-year budget expired, curtailing what could have been a long and contentious summer budget battle.

Fitzgerald said Evers vetoes didn’t come with too many surprises and, ultimately, didn’t greatly alter the budget.

“There’s a list of items but none of them jump out so significantly to me that you can make the case that he significantly changed the document that we passed on the floor of the Assembly and Senate last week,” he said.

“I am pleased today to see Governor Evers celebrate many of the record investments made by my Republican colleagues,” said Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, in a statement.

Darling pointed out the irony of Democratic lawmakers celebrating the budget the governor signed.

“I hope the Democrats who stood behind the Governor today but voted ‘no’ on many of the items in this budget will reflect on the many shared priorities the governor approved. Whether a Republican or a Democrat sits in the Governor’s office, I will fight to protect taxpayers and make sure every budget is responsible and sustainable,” Darling said.


And I’m (not) proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free …

The U.S. women’s soccer team will play the Netherlands for the Women’s World Cup title today.

About them and one particular player, Jerry Newcombe writes:

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I can’t fathom the ingratitude of American soccer star Meghan Rapinoe’s attitude toward America.

Writer Warner Todd Huston notes, “Rapinoe raised eyebrows in the 2018 season by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem even though she is playing for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team. Her taking a knee only came to an end starting in the 2019 season because the team passed a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. But she right away said that she would never sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ again, nor would she place her hand over her heart because she hates America.”

Sadly, she is by no means alone. There are millions of ungrateful Americans today.

I remember years ago seeing one of The Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson which showed one dog in his den showing another dog his mounted, stuffed trophies on his wall. There were a couple of stuffed cat heads and bird heads and also a human hand mounted on the wall. The host dog was saying to his guest, “And that’s the hand that fed me.”

What a fascinating contrast. Last week a man and his infant daughter tragically drowned trying to get to this country through illegal means. And yet the soccer star who was born here has nothing but contempt for the land of opportunity that has given her so many opportunities.

This reminds me of people who are ungrateful to the Lord, even though every beat of their heart is by His grace. When He says, “Enough,” it is over and then comes the judgment.

President Lincoln reminded us of our need for thankfulness to God when he called for a day of fasting and prayer during the conflict that tore this country apart.

On March 30, 1863, he wrote, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven ….But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” [Emphasis added]

Our own prosperity as a nation has caused us to forget the Lord, said our 16th president: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

With another Fourth of July upon us, I think it is a good time to recall why we should be grateful as Americans. This country was born through the sacrifices of those who went before us.

What is the Fourth of July? It commemorates that date in 1776 when 56 men in Philadelphia, representing three million people, agreed by voice vote to adopt the final wording of our national birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence.

They knew their lives were on the line by voting for independence from England, and a handful of them paid the ultimate price for this declaration. Several of them were specifically targeted by the British.

The document declared that the rights of man come not from the king or the state, but from the Creator. It declared that when a government interferes too much with God-given rights, the government ultimately becomes illegitimate.

This declaration came years after futile attempts to work with the king to bring about an acceptable peace. But as the “men of Boston” put it, according to the great 19th century historian, George Bancroft: “While America is still on her knees, the king aims a dagger at her heart.”

We seem to forget the sacrifices of the founding fathers who bequeathed the freedoms, and subsequently, the prosperity we enjoy in this country.

A key founding father John Adams declared: “It is the will of heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever…” America would become its own nation, separate from England.

Adams adds that if we have to endure hardship because of it, God will still help see us through: “[I]t may be the will of heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, the furnace of affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals; but I submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”

The men who birthed America and declared independence laid everything on line, as they trusted in God.

Why should Meghan Rapinhoe be grateful? Because she was born in a country which gave her opportunity to “write her own script” as some might put it. It is hard for me to comprehend ungrateful Americans.

It’s not hard for me. When people read about this country’s past — legal slavery until the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, women’s (lack of) rights — some people assume that this country hasn’t progressed all, despite the fact that, for instance, Colin Kaepernick is not a slave, Rapinoe can legally vote and do everything else a man can do, and both have the First Amendment right to express themselves as they please, though there is nothing in the First Amendment that shields anyone from the consequences of their free expression.

Meanwhile, the team has found something else to complain about, the New York Post reports:

Megan Rapinoe considers Sunday to be the final insult.

Just a few hours after the United States and the Netherlands meet in the Women’s World Cup final in France, Brazil or Peru will celebrate winning the Copa America, South America’s men’s championship. And then at night, the United States or Mexico will win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the men’s title of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

A TV triple of championships for some is yet another slight for others.

“It’s ridiculous, and disappointing, to be honest,” said Rapinoe, the star American midfielder.

FIFA said playing the three finals on the same day would boost attention for all.

“The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process, which has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of the women’s and men’s international match calendars,” the governing body said in a statement. “It is a rare and exciting occurrence.”

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told The New York Times, however, the decision to schedule the Gold Cup final for Sunday was not deliberate and was due to a “clerical error.”

“It’s terrible,” said former American midfielder Aly Wagner, now Fox’s lead World Cup match analyst. “It is so disturbing to me that the Women’s World Cup does not have its own day to stand on its own and have a final to highlight these tremendous athletes and their work and their accomplishment. They wouldn’t dream of doing it to the men. Why would they do it to the women?”

FIFA announced the Women’s World Cup dates at the emblem launch on Sept. 18, 2017, then revealed the full schedule the following Feb. 9.

CONCACAF did not announce the expansion of the Gold Cup from 12 teams to 16 until Feb. 26, 2018, then said last Sept. 27 that the final would be held at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 7. South America’s governing body made the Copa America dates known since at least early 2018 and said last Dec. 18 the final would kick off at 4 p.m. EDT.

The Women’s World Cup final will start at 11 a.m. EDT on Fox, followed by the Copa America final at 4 p.m. EDT on ESPN+ and the CONCACAF final at 9:15 p.m. EDT on FS1. Telemundo, a sister network of NBC, has Women’s World Cup and Copa America Spanish-language US rights, while Univision has the Gold Cup.

“I really am a believer in the rising tide lifts all ships,” said David Neal, executive producer of Fox’s World Cup coverage. “Because of the timing of them, it’s probably not going to hurt anybody.”

Advertisers don’t seem to think the three finals will cannibalize each other.

“It doesn’t alter in any way shape or form what we plan to do. I’m not sure whether it’ll splinter viewership or not,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer of Visa, one of six FIFA partners.

Advertisers focus on their product’s marketing and activation and pretty much ignore the other tournaments.

“The priority for Coca-Cola is the FIFA Women’s World Cup and we’re going to do everything we can to bring a lot of attention, a lot people in front of TVs, to watch the game, to watch the final,” said Ricardo Fort, head of global sponsorships at The Coca-Cola Co., another FIFA partner. “Too bad for the other finals. I’m pretty sure the Women’s World Cup final is going to be a big global event again.”

My prediction is the U.S. will win this morning, and it will have negligible impact on growing women’s soccer in this country. They are trying to plant in waters they poisoned.


Presty the DJ for July 6

Can one wish a happy birthday to an entire band? If so, I volunteer to wish Jefferson Airplane a happy birthday:

Or perhaps you’d like to celebrate Bill Haley’s birthday around the clock:


Gene Chandler:

Who is Terrence “Jet” Harris? He is credited with popularizing the bass guitar in Britain and helping give Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (who ended up in Led Zeppelin) their starts:

Rik Elswit of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show:

Madison native John Jorgenson of the Desert Rose Band:

Michael Grant of Musical Youth, which asks you to …

The Corvette SUV returns

Two years ago the Detroit News asked the question of whether Chevrolet should build a Corvette SUV.

No, not this:

Something that would look more like a Porsche Cayenne:

Car & Driver returns to the subject:

In a recent interview with Automotive News, iconoclastic auto-industry figure and former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz was asked about a number of topics, including Carlos Ghosn, Fiat Chrysler’s desire for a merger, and the Trump administration. But the most intriguing tidbit came when Lutz was asked about the mid-engined C8 Corvette and brought up what he would do with the Corvette brand if he still worked at General Motors.

“[If I were still at GM], what I would do is develop a dedicated architecture, super lightweight, super powerful, Porsche Cayenne–like, only much better and a little bigger, medium-volume Corvette SUV. Target worldwide 20,000 to 30,000 units, and price it starting at $100,000. Gorgeous interior. No V-6 powertrain. No low-end version. It has to be the stellar premium sport-utility made in the United States, and the Corvette brand could pull that off.”

Now, we don’t have any reason to think that a Corvette SUV is something that Chevy is even considering, and neither does Bob Lutz, seemingly. But what he said got us thinking: What if Chevy actually did make a Corvette SUV? It’s not such a preposterous idea even if there’s no basis for it, and we also think it’s a no-brainer for Chevy to expand the Corvette brand beyond just the titular model.

Porsche was a pioneer of the super-sporty SUV with the Cayenne, and since that model’s inception, tons of high-end manufacturers have all gotten into the fast-SUV game, tying in the models with their existing sports cars. But Chevy, which has a history of both iconic SUVs and iconic sports cars, has never even shown a concept imagining what a sporty SUV from the bow-tie brand could look like. So we took a shot at imagining it ourselves.

While we do like Lutz’s idea of an expensive Corvette SUV with no low-end version, we think it’s a bit unrealistic. To better compete with the Cayenne, an entry-level Corvette SUV should have a starting price point of around $70,000 and a twin-turbo V-6. But it would need at least a couple different V-8 engine options, and there would have to be high-performance variants. Chevy could easily position a Corvette SUV as the sportiest and most road-oriented of all the high-end SUVs, which would set it apart from the competition.

It would probably need to ride on its own unique platform, as GM doesn’t really have anything that would be a perfect match. The Alpha platform that underpins the Camaro or the Omega platform that underpins the Cadillac CT6 could be possibilities, but neither are really fit for something that would be as sporty and crossover-like as a Corvette SUV would be. Unless Chevy would just say “screw it,” not offer all-wheel drive or any semblance of off-road ability, and build the SUV off the current front-engined C7 Corvette‘s platform.

The styling should be aggressive and tie into the regular Corvette, which would likely mean a coupe-like roofline and a low stance. The interior would need to be luxurious, as buyers in this space expect more from their cars than the middling materials and finishes of the current Corvette. Seating for four adults and at least a modicum of cargo space are a must—Corvette owners need to be able to carry golf clubs around, after all—but it probably wouldn’t have a targa top like the regular Corvette.

The only thing left for us to imagine is the name. Would it be Corvette Activ? Corvette Xtreme? Corvette TourX? Corvette Bison? Corvette Trail Boss? Corvette High Country? Corvette Z71? Corvette Trans Sport? GM has so many good off-road-y names to choose from.

And hey, there’s precedent for us thinking this is a good idea. In 1976, we drove a C3 Corvette to Alaska, and then we re-created the journey in 2007 with a C6. Just imagine how much easier that would be with a Corvette SUV!

I’m somewhat surprised Chevy isn’t considering this, given that it’s going to break its mold by introducing the not-necessary mid-engine no-manual-transmission eighth-generation Corvette at the end of this month. Chevy is already ruining the Corvette, so it might as well go further, right?
This might be the point at which GM should have spun off Corvette from Chevy and into its own division. That would have allowed the Corvette division to have the current front-engine rear-drive Corvette and the next mid-engine model, and priced the latter higher than what is expected. Selling a completely new-tech Corvette for slightly more than the current Corvette means that (1) GM is going to lose money on the C8, or (2) GM cut costs and therefore failed to address the principal complaint about Corvettes, their interior.

An SUV would fit just fine into a Corvette division, as would a four-seater (Camaro). Each could again be priced higher than people expect from a Chevrolet.


The sins of socialism

Picking up on a theme I’ve written about previously, Robert Knight:

With a couple dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls vying to see who’s pinker, perhaps it’s time to contrast socialism with something more helpful and permanent: The Ten Commandments.

Socialism teaches that wealth should be held in common ownership, controlled by the state. Hence, the Democrats’ constant push to have government confiscate ever more income and power.

By contrast, the Bible teaches that God owns all things and that we’re merely stewards of His creation. When we look at each of the Ten Commandments, we see that they’re directly at odds with socialism.

You shall have no other gods before Me.

Socialism and its offshoots – communism, fascism, democratic socialism and National Socialism (Nazism) – enshrine the state above all other powers. There is no room for God, which is why socialists are in a permanent war with the church and are bent on creating a faith-free society.

You shall make no idols.

Idols are anything that takes the place of God in the hierarchy of values. Under socialism, sheer power over one’s fellow man is an idol. Another is building utopias – the unicorns of government because such perfect societies do not exist.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

When socialists take over a culture, it becomes depraved and perverse. To enforce their new immoral order, socialists openly blaspheme God and particularly Jesus Christ. Hollywood, which is famously leftist, has taken this road since Christian review boards abandoned their role in the 1960s, opening up films to any and all ways to shock audiences.

Keep the Sabbath day holy.

Sundays are no different from any other day in socialist societies. In fact, people going to church on a Sunday are identified and often persecuted in places like communist China, where atheism is the official state religion. Even in our market-based society, materialism – a necessary precept of socialism – has pushed respect for the Sabbath to the margins.

Honor your father and your mother.

Socialism has been at war with marriage and family since the French Revolution in 1789. Unlike America’s revolutionaries of 1776, the Jacobins sought to wipe out Christianity and establish an all-encompassing government that supplanted the family. Frederich Engels, co-author with Karl Marx of The Communist Manifesto, later wrote about the need to do away with marital fidelity and to assign children to communal rearing. He, Marx and other socialists correctly identified the family as a competing source of authority and a bulwark of the church. Both stand in the way of collectivist regimes.

You shall not murder.

Many people misread this commandment as a broader order not to kill for any reason, which denies the moral difference between taking innocent human life and executing murderers. Socialists have long promoted abortion – the direct taking of an innocent human life – as a way to “liberate” women and men from parental responsibilities.

You shall not commit adultery.

In the 1960s, Americans became familiar with the term “free love,” but socialists have been promoting it heavily since the early 1800s. Sex outside marriage, prostitution, pornography and abortion all militate against marriage fidelity. Socialists deploy euphemisms like “choice” and “sex work” to cover the retreat from biblical morality.

You shall not steal.

Socialism is grand theft. It uses the state to take earnings from productive people and redistribute it to create dependency and thus political power for those handing it out. Slavery is 100 percent taxation – when someone else controls the fruits of one’s labor. Socialist countries first control and then seize private property. Marx summed up The Communist Manifesto in one sentence: “Abolition of private property.”

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

This is not just about telling lies in a witness situation but also about using lies to advance one’s wellbeing. Socialism is built on a mountain of lies about human nature, which is why it eventually must resort to violence. Marx wrote that “the ends justify the means,” which means you can do or say anything as long as it advances the revolution. Example: “You can keep your health plan if you like your health plan.”

You shall not covet.

Socialism’s main engine is envy, stoking resentment against others who have more, even to the point of using violence to get it. In Genesis, Cain killed Abel out of envy for Abel’s achieving God’s favor. Envy was also on display when Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they defied God, then “ye shall be as gods.” Coveting divinity got Satan kicked out of heaven, and it’s what he and his minions continue to peddle in a variety of forms including pride, envy and socialism.

Of Satan, Jesus said, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

God originated life, natural marriage and love, and gave us the Ten Commandments. It shouldn’t be a mystery as to where the deceptive cake of socialism was baked.

Today’s meaning

Rev. Paul Hartmann of St. Monica Catholic Church in Whitefish Bay and St. Eugene Catholic Church in Fox Point:

Years ago I traveled to Maine for the wedding of a friend whose fiancé was a lobsterman’s daughter from an island off the coast. The setting made for a beautiful weekend for the wedding, but it also made for a difficult travel itinerary.

In order to fit everything in for a July 6 wedding, many of the guests came to the island on July 3. Who was I to pass up a couple extra days in a picturesque New England fishing village? To further set the stage, at one point the men of the wedding party and I joined the bride’s dad on his fishing boat to literally “catch” the rehearsal dinner.

A highlight of the weekend was the island’s Fourth of July parade. Our group (clearly out-of-towners) found a nice spot on Main Street in front of the hardware store to view the parade. Taking the lead in the parade was a color guard of five Boy Scouts. They were cheered, and each was proud of his role in the celebration. The tallest boy was in the center carrying the American flag.

I surmise that he was told to remain stone-faced and looking straight ahead. He was flanked by scouts carrying the state flag, and the troop’s flag. On the ends were the youngest, and the shortest, scouts holding a pole carrying the banner announcing the parade. These two hadn’t gotten the message about being stoned-faced as they were all smiles and waving at those cheering them.

I grinned a bit when I noticed that the Scout closest to us was in what had to be a hand-me-down uniform. The shirt was too big; old patches had been removed, and the green uniform pants were rolled up at his ankles. Both mom and boy were waiting for him to grow into an older brother’s clothes.

The parade was refreshing Americana – a marching band from the small high school; a cohort of tykes on decorated tricycles; thematic floats from civic organizations; and politicians in convertibles with insurance agent advertisements on the doors.

At the end of the parade was another color guard. This one made up of veterans in uniform. At the center was a Marine carrying the American flag. He stood tall, straight-backed, and stared forward every step of the way. There was a Navy officer with the flag of the local American Legion post, and on the ends were to two older men in World War II vintage Army uniforms.

Probably the oldest man (wearing the stripes of a sergeant) passed closest to us and was hunched over a bit. He smiled with great pride as people cheered. He saluted anyone one who saluted him. He stood just as tall as he could, but his 60-year old uniform hung very loose on his 80-year old body. Ironically, the passage of time impacted the man. His once perfectly fitting uniform trousers now had to be rolled up at the ankles.

Walking around after the parade, we passed the church in the heart of the village where the wedding would take place, as well as the barber shop with the candy cane sign that would open special on Saturday morning for the bride’s dad (and any of the men) to get a trim before the ceremony.

The weekend was a heartwarming encounter with American values. It became an intersection of God, family and country which spoke to ideals we treasure. By the time of the Saturday wedding, and at a Sunday Mass I celebrated in the local parish, I had added to my homily reflections. In America, religious and civic life are supposed to intersect in hope and promise.

Religious freedom makes it possible for our churches to proclaim true freedom and true hope. Personal freedoms make it possible for every citizen, young or old, to take a rightful and proud place of example in the community.

In small-town, faith-filled America, rolled up uniform pants represent both hope for the future, and a life well lived. With our Catholic faith, we are willing to roll up the cuffs of our pants.