Archive for December, 2015

“Flashback 2015”

December 27, 2015



Here we teeter on the brink of another year’s birth at Midnight tonight, even as I traditionally would be teetering in wild celebration as the moment arrived – maintaining precarious balance against the ever-relentless forces of mean Mister Gravity.

This was surely yet another strange year, such observation emerging as a considerable understatement as one reviews the ghosts of 2015 from “For Your Consideration” columns past.

In January — “Delaware North vs. US” questioned the surprising claim that such names as The Ahwahnee, Badger Pass and Curry Village were owned by DNC – about to be replaced in March by a subsidiary of Aramark. It’s not a friendly divorce. In September, Delaware North filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against the National Park Service over this yet unresolved issue, seeking compensation for intellectual property rights. Then “Missing Mister” congratulated Megyn Kelly on her ascension to the top at FOX News as jolting journalism reigns supreme.

February saw thumbs up to “American Sniper” and down to “Bad Bibi” — criticizing the Israeli Prime Minister’s pending appearance before Congress.

“Shamrock & Roll” in March reminisced about St. Patrick’s Days of earlier times, while “McClintock’s Magical Mystery Meeting” expressed chagrin over our Congressman curiously visiting Oakhurst without both yours truly and friends in the Tea Party knowing anything about it.

April’s “Goodbye Medicare” stressed that with the new House and Senate dominated by Republicans, only Barack Obama stood between Congress and the end of Medicare as we know it. “Matthew 7: 1-2” thanked Harry Baker for his stunning lifetime achievements in Oakhurst. “Hail Elizabeth” saluted the rise of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on the national scene. She wasn’t alone.

We moved into May with “And Then Along Comes Bernie”, acknowledging the Vermont Senator’s entry into the 2016 Presidential race with the observation that “he has the same chance as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.” “Changes” discussed subtle evolution in Catholic thinking under Pope Francis, while “Sleep Now in The Fire” explored paralysis between rigid political positions.

“Compression Confession” in early June tracked an unfortunate explosion of outrage over poor service at a certain local pharmacy to an unavoidable, genetically driven Irish predisposition to such behavior. The following week’s “Money Honey” bemoaned the wretched state of contemporary radio economics, even as “Solstice Sunday” celebrated the arrival of summer and Father’s Day while “Matthew v. 2015” proposed that Christ’s Sermon on the Mount provides an exceptional political platform.

July’s “Markers” praised the Supreme Court’s favorable ruling on The Affordable Care Act. “Dump Trump” spoke for itself. “Girls, Girls, Girls” joyfully saluted the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team on becoming World Champions. “Children of God” supported the hard reached agreement to keep Iran from having nuclear weapons. “Bow Wow” decried the dog days of summer.

August rolled in with ”Enough?” recognizing strong local support for that long-tailed Bernie cat. “Rockin’ with AARP” dealt with a wonderful “Radio Reunion” in my hometown of Syracuse and “Shame on Schumer” criticized the New York Senator for his opposition to the Iranian deal.

September’s “Tea Time With Tom” addressed Representative McClintock’s appearance far away from the madding crowd at Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse, “Thanks, Donald” predicted the still anticipated end of Trump’s White House aspirations, “No Room at The Inn” reported a wall-to-wall turnout at Denny’s for Pedro Elias of Planned Parenthood and “Smokehurst” thanked Cal Fire for keeping us safe.

“Bye-Bye Boehner” on October 1st thanked the departing House Speaker for his years of service despite differences in political philosophy, “Saint Kim of Kentucky” explained an ecclesiastical accident, “Ellie” expressed deep sadness over the passing of Ellie Schermerhorn, a remarkable local activist and wonderful soul who would have enjoyed the following week’s “Benghazi Thursday” calling upon Hillary critics to either “put up or shut up.” So far they have done neither.

November brought forth “Community Radio – Parts One and Two” –explaining the nature of “Low Power FM” as authorized by the FCC and calling into question the operation of KOLS-LP, clandestinely licensed to Oakhurst in late July. Big news on this is shortly forthcoming. “Bark For Bernie” on November 19th reviewed response to the word “socialist” being more reactionary than realistic.

December’s “Christmas Questions”, “Oremus”, “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” represented holiday offerings, even as this one closes things — over and out.














“Merry Christmas”

December 18, 2015



If time were a truck — it would get speeding tickets.

How can this be Christmas Eve? Thanksgiving was a half hour ago. Easter was yesterday. Last year was last week.

Everyone talks about it, but there’s nothing to be done. Being locked in time, imprisoned by existence, we all share an unavoidable consequence of our common humanity – uncertain, yet ever accelerating travel toward the unknowable.

Back in Ohio, the Shamrock Lounge in Perrysburg was only two blocks from where we lived and a mere fifty feet from where Ronald Reagan addressed a cheering throng in the fall of 1984. Perrysburg was the final destination on a whistle-stop train-tour through Ohio. It had been arranged to capture a nostalgic sense of traditional American political campaign history. There were Secret Service agents swarming all over our little town.

President Reagan’s last words were that Democrats always thought it was April 15th, but Republicans wanted every new day to be the Fourth of July. Right on cue, fireworks exploded in the distance and a band struck-up “Stars and Stripes Forever” as Reagan’s train pulled away. Pure Hollywood. Even Sidewalk Joe agreed it was slick as hell.

Joe hung out at the Shamrock all the time, but you wouldn’t want to talk to him unless he wanted to talk with you. In his late eighties by then, Joe would lean forward in rumpled repose on the classically scarred mahogany bar (circa 1850) — an unfiltered Lucky Strike dangling from the corner of his mouth, slowly sipping a shot glass of Jack, tolerating no trifles — suffering no fools.

Joe had moved to Perrysburg to live with his sister several decades earlier. When she passed, he inherited her tiny yellow house across from the Post Office. Once every week, a chauffeured limousine would pick Joe up at the bar and transport him to Detroit, where he would play cards with masters of industry, champions of sport and inheritors of great wealth. He was a master magician and card player, having been apprenticed for many years in his youth to Ehrich Weiss — The Great Houdini. I saw the press clippings.

One night just before he died, Joe dramatically whispered he had finally figured out something so plain and obvious he was horribly embarrassed such important a thing had taken so long. He wanted to officially go on record, solemnly stating: “Peter! Listen to me! It’s all now! It’s always been now. There’s never been anything but NOW!

That following week, magicians from throughout the Midwest attended Joe’s services and burial in Fort Meigs Cemetery on the Maumee River just south of Toledo. In certain mysterious circles, “Sidewalk Joe” was more of a legend than I had ever imagined. I’ve never forgotten what turned out to be among his final words. And what they implied:


  • To be anywhere is to be everywhere.
  • To be anything is to be everything.
  • To be at all is to be always.


Time is an illusion. So is space. I know that sounds weird, but it’s all part of now.

What does this have to do with Christmas time? Everything.

In the words of French Philosopher/Paleontologist/Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:


  • “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (1955)
  • “The heart of Christ (is) at the heart of matter.” (1948)
  • “Christ has a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe.” (1916)


So it was I thought of Sidewalk Joe and Father de Chardin during the Sixth Annual Community Christmas Program at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, a superlative presentation featuring the combined efforts of New Community United Methodist Church, Oakhurst Lutheran Church, Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and the Sierra Chamber Singers.

Special congratulations are due Directors Susan Moore, Monika Moulin, Mary Posluch and Catherine Walker.

The production met and surpassed Broadway quality standards in professionalism, presentation and performance – with the voices of angels.

It was magically spiritual.

And deeply moving.

Merry Christmas from Peter, Eileen and Fiona Cavanaugh.


“Happy New Year!”

December 12, 2015


Call me old fashioned.

Why wait a full two weeks until the arbitrary time line imposed by the institution of Pope Gregory XIII’s fancy new revised calendar in 1582? Let’s follow ancient tradition and rely upon our old, dependable cosmic sky clock — greeting 2016 here in Oakhurst as the winter solstice arrives at 8:49 PM next Monday, December 21st.

Since time immemorial, this is when the earth’s axis starts slightly tilting with every next rotation, bringing increased sunlight into our lives. This is when each New Year is truly born.

That’s why I’ve always considered Newgrange not a tomb, but a womb – celebrating fresh renewal of life.

Superstitious rural residents of Ireland’s Boyne Valley considered Newgrange a dangerous “Faerie Mound” for many centuries — terrified to go near. It had been sealed and covered by earth for several millennia and existed only as a whispered rumor in Irish folklore and mythology. It wasn’t until contemporary times that archaeologist Michael O’ Kelly led extensive excavation and restoration, uncovering a large circular monument hiding a stone passageway leading down to three interior chambers.

These become fully lit by a single beam of brilliant sunlight penetrating through a slender, perfectly aligned shaft for less than twenty minutes duration. This happens only at the exact point of the Winter Solstice and has done so for the last six thousand years.


Newgrange is older than both Stonehenge of England and the Pyramids of Egypt by hundreds of generations.

No one knows who constructed Newgrange or why, but it clearly suggests a celestial celebration of extraordinary cultural importance older than human memory, yet younger than Ireland, herself.

Did you know the whole Emerald Isle was buried under a mile of ice only an epoch ago? It wasn’t until the end of the last glacial period around 8,000 BC that the island became sparsely populated by small contingents of Mesolithic people arriving from Europe by boat — Syrians of yesteryear.

An important mentor in my life was Uncle Vince.

Vincent was my father’s older brother and had studied for the priesthood. With my father’s death when I was 6, he had become my mentor. He didn’t have much money either.

Vincent had been noticed as a very young man by the nuns and had been educated in the finest schools at Church expense. While in Rome completing his education, Vincent enlisted in the U.S. Army, fighting in World War One and being gassed in the trenches of France. After the war ended, he spent many years teaching Greek, Latin and Theology at Mount Saint Mary near Baltimore — a major Catholic seminary.

Returning to Syracuse upon retirement, he moved in above us and would bring me to the library all the time to choose “important books.” I would sneak out of my room in the middle of the night and study the stars with him through an old, dusty telescope on his porch. His namesake, our grandson Vincent, has that telescope today.

As I would ask him of life, Uncle Vince would answer all of my questions with questions. I later came to know he practiced the Socratic method of instruction. He loved Socrates and would sign that name to many articles submitted to our local newspapers.

When I was to receive my Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Sciences from Le Moyne College in 1963, Uncle Vince made it a point arriving early to be certain of proper seating. He proudly waved at me from the front of the stands clutching a small Irish flag. I briefly saw him after the ceremony and we made plans to see each other the following weekend. I had parties to attend. He went home and died alone within hours.

He left me everything he had. His estate primarily consisted of over three thousand books covering every subject known to man. The volumes filled every room in his tiny apartment from ceiling to floor. Keeping the important ones, the rest went to the Jesuits at Le Moyne.

It was Uncle Vince who called the star-filled, dark heavens of night our “sky clock” and thus he sprang to mind as I wrote this column. So, from Doctor Vincent Cavanaugh , you are herein wished a hearty Irish “Shona Bhliain Nua!” – Happy New Year!

As I remain still around – with questions yet unanswered.

Uncle Vince

Dr. Vincent Cavanaugh


December 5, 2015



Let’s face it.

The man was right about “that giant sucking sound “ being U.S. jobs heading south in the aftermath of the North American Free Trade Agreement that eventually went into effect January 1, 1994.

With CNN prepared to host the Fifth Republican Presidential Primary Debate next Tuesday night (6 PM Pacific) from the Venetian in Las Vegas, might I suggest we are about to witness initiation of America’s first serious Third Party/Independent candidacy since 1992. That’s when Texas businessman Ross Perot defied the odds in November and garnered an astonishing 18.91% of the popular vote against 31.2% for incumbent President George H.W. Bush and 43.01% for Bill Clinton – elected to his first term as 42nd President of the United States.

Perot’s performance was all the more impressive when, after running a strong first place in June polling with 39% support against Bush’s 31% and Clinton’s third place 25%, he dramatically announced he was quitting the race in July due to the threat of Republican operatives disturbing his daughter’s wedding, a discomforting allegation never proven. But this turned out to be squirrely enough to lose Perot significant backing when he decided to reenter the game a short time later

It’s only a matter of time until Donald makes his move.

As 2016 approaches, there are several factors convincingly established.

After over five months of serious campaigning, Donald Trump now consistently maintains a firm lead over all other serious Republican contenders in poll after poll, no matter what he does, says, exaggerates, fabricates or fanaticizes. His people just eat it all up.

It would appear that this base of committed support represents approximately one-third of potential GOP voters – pretty much hard-core conservatives with substantial evangelical backing.

Although thankfully removed from traditional mainstream thinking, this grouping has sporadically surfaced during transitional times in our common past — always extraordinarily nativistic and selectively secretive, such as the “American Party” in the 1850’s.

The catalyst for this band of belligerents, also popularly referenced as “Know Nothings,” was an increase in immigration in the 1840s, especially the great numbers of foreigners who flooded east coast cities during the years of Ireland’s “Great Starvation.” The American Party particularly despised the poor, blacks and virtually all new immigrants, especially Irish and German Catholics.

While Trump stays convincingly in the lead as currently configured, an overwhelming majority of Republicans – at least two out of three – certainly want someone else. That’s undeniable. Period. Case closed.

So – get ready for fireworks on Tuesday. This could be the last stand for Kasich, Huckabee, Christy, Fiorina, Paul, and even Bush. And Carson, Cruz and Rubio can’t afford pretending any longer that Trump is anything less than a manipulative, maniacal menace.

Donald Trump has no intention of abiding by his agreement to endorse whomever is eventually chosen as presidential candidate of the Republican Party — if it’s not Donald Trump. He’s already signaled such recently with renewed reflections on the importance of “fairness” on the part of the Republican National Committee.

A decision to go it alone would delight his fans, catapult media coverage and electrify the electorate.

Trump has the money, moxie and mania to forever enshrine himself in American pop culture.

He’s hit his popularity ceiling, but that’s not Donald’s “art of the dealing”.

I strongly suspect Donald Trump has never really wanted to be President in the first place – just a prolonged, extended, unavoidable center of fascinated global attention – if not beloved – as least beheld by billions.

MSNBC Superstar Rachel Maddow has gone on record saying that a Donald Trump third party effort would be nothing less than a continuing “gift from God.”

That Latin chanting altar boy from my ancient past now springs forth in memory and breathlessly offers this single Christmas whisper: “Oremus.”

“Let us pray.”