Short Takes – Choose Happiness

By Charlie Johnston

So much is going on in the world today, I thought I would occasionally write some “Short Takes” that cover several stories in between bigger articles.

I got notice today that, among the top 300 conservative websites, we are number 272. I chuckled in surprise, especially seeing some sites I use for research ranked lower. Not quite ready to crow about it – the chant, “we’re number 272” just does not quite have the ring of “we’re number one.” Or number two or three…or even number 271, for that matter. But I thought you might want to know. We’re number 272!


It was kind of bizarre watching clips from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress earlier this week. In the first place, I’m not quite sure whether Zuckerberg is an actual person or a Disney animatronics project gone awry. What baffled me was that so many Congressmen treated the privacy issue as a scandal. Look, if people did not understand from the start that, when you post your information to a PUBLIC site, it is going to be public, we are too stupid to survive. God bless Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ben Sasse (R-NB) and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for getting to the heart of the problem, Facebook and other social media’s intensifying initiatives to censor conservative and Christian opinion. Of course, in most of these Congressional hearings, sharp conservative Congressmen prove their point, the witness dissembles (Zuckerberg was shocked…shocked! that conservatives are routinely targeted for censorship), the folksies get a good emotional boost, then everyone goes home and not a darn thing happens. Zuckerberg worked the “don’t throw me in that briar patch” gambit, suggesting that Congress regulate him. Ha! The big regulators and the regulated are in a Stockholm Syndrome relationship. The regulators insulate the regulated from competition and accountability while the regulated become the golden parachute for regulators when they leave government “service.” You want accountability? Bring anti-trust legislation along the lines of how AT&T was broken up in the early 80’s. Meantime, if Facebook is going to censor any otherwise legal public discourse, define them as a publisher using editorial discretion rather than a mere platform. Publishers can be sued for what they print.


Former FBI Director James Comey’s new book is drawing more guffaws than anything else. There are no bombshells or smoking guns there; just a lot of talk about what a meany Donald Trump is and how noble Comey is. Oh, it also contradicts his own sworn testimony before Congress in several instances. Meantime, it turns out that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was NOT fired for telling a lie, but for telling lies over and over – and under oath. The initial excerpts from the Inspector General’s scathing report show a man obsessed with amassing personal power and influence – and lying and scheming to his closest associates to get it. Even if these two men escape criminal accountability, they are rather leaky vessels in which to contain the left’s hopes of getting Trump.


What a delight to see that President Trump has pardoned Scooter Libby, who was a top aide to former VP Dick Cheney. Libby got caught up in the investigation over who had released the identity of former CIA Agent Valerie Plame. Strange thing, Plame was never a covert agent in the first place. Even stranger thing, shortly after Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald began the investigation, he found that it was Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage who had outed Plame. Ah, but Armitage was a left-leaning Republican firmly in the foreign policy establishment. Fitzgerald knew that his mission was not actually to find the leak – but to get someone close to Cheney or even George W. Bush. So he ignored Armitage, badgered Libby under oath until he could get him on a process crime (lying to the FBI because of saying he thought he first mentioned the name publicly a week after he actually did – a pure perjury trap). I am glad to see that justice has been partially done. It won’t be finished until Fitzgerald is put on trial for prosecutorial misconduct. I don’t like the persecution of innocent men. People who knowingly prosecute men they KNOW to be innocent should be sent to prison. Period.


The European Union (EU) is gingerly considering whether to give robots legal status – and perhaps citizenship. I am not making this up. Some may think this a sign of Armageddon. I personally think it is just a sign of irresponsible idiocy by those who think themselves an annointed elite that should run everyone’s lives. Actually, they probably just want a new protected category to smear us normal people with. I can’t wait to hear Joy Behar explain why John Connor and others who fought the Terminator were actually vicious ‘robophobes’ who did not respect Skynet’s cultural heritage.


Our friend Susan Skinner, who publishes the Veil of Veronica Blog, put up a deeply insightful article on why St. Joseph is the terror of demons – and why we should call on him in these times. I loved it. I hope you do, too.


One of the saddest features of these troubling times is how many people have become addicted to being miserable. Leftist PC destroys all joy, humor, and normal affectionate human interactions. On the Federalist a few weeks ago, they had a humorous Easter article on marshmallow peeps – a favorite Easter candy for many. All the commenters joined in the fun, with funny, sometimes hilarious takes. Unbelievably, some twit commenter took the opportunity to rant about the manufacturer’s hiring process and supposedly inadequate pension plans. I get angry at such nonsense, but more than this, I feel deep sorrow for people who can only take satisfaction in misery and anger. Abraham Lincoln, a man who suffered enormously, said that, “folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Wouldn’t it be nice if people made up their minds to be happy? I think it would solve about 80% of our problems.


129 thoughts on “Short Takes – Choose Happiness

        1. Ahh, memories of the late, great Bob Marley (and the Wailers)! What 70s teen didn’t know “Redemption Song”? … and didn’t make a fool of themselves singing it at parties. Still, truly prescient, for these times.

          (sings) “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…”

          “We be forever lovin’ Jah…”

          “Zion train coming our way…”

          “Exodus, movement of Jah people…”

          (goes away…)


          Liked by 3 people

      1. But Charlie, chipmunks are squirrels!(Ground squirrels that is). They take NRS seriously ’cause they got all four feet on the ground and that’s why they are happy!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Yes I read Susan’s blog with a very grateful heart! The st Joseph article is marvellous and now followed by another exceptional article by Susan a nd her friend Ashley. You are behind the times Charlie as this one should be mentioned too Charlie. Ha, ha. ….. No one can keep up.
    Things moving quickly now!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Much of his style often grates on me – but his policies have been solid. And I refrain from criticizing his style for the most part because the siege he is constantly under disgusts me. And I am not big on criticizing someone’s style when they are out in the arena fighting for things that are important to me – and largely doing it effectively. But I sure understand why many people would get more agitated at his style than I do. Ha! I’m just glad that it is not Hillary Clinton’s style that is grating on me from the Oval Office.

      Liked by 23 people

  2. On the happiness shorty:

    Sometimes we become down hearted in our pursuit of happiness. In those times the finishing line seems ever further away. I have been blessed with some great guides in my life. Here are some little pointers given to me for a better go at happiness.

    If you can”t see the change in yourself look for the change in others – that is to say, if you see them in a better light you are getting better.

    Misery is optional – that is to say life can be hard enough without us making it harder. So often we choose not to exercise options that are available to us.

    Do what makes you comfortable – that is to say, do the right thing. That’s the only thing that will truly make you comfortable.

    A thought that has just come into my head – don’t pursue happiness – let it pursue you – it will get you in the end.

    Enjoy, my friends, my online family.

    Liked by 12 people

    1. Here is a chant…..

      We’re 272
      YES ! 272
      If u no like
      We gonna 🐿🐿squirelly🐿🐿 to you
      Squirelly 🐿 to you???
      Yes squillery 🐿 to squirelly to you…
      Run around in circles and pray for you!!! πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌ


      Congrats Charlie and his angels for a constintally JOB WELL DONE !!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Like it Mick – all sorts of ways to chant it

    “Who are you?
    We are two
    Seven Two!”

    I can see our placards at the head of the Jericho march.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. You’re better at squirrels Beckie! Leave the poetry to us artists.

      Leap for Life just like a squirrel,
      We’re not nuts but we are feral
      So abortionists beware
      We will fight you everywhere.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Ah but Joe, you simply haven’t yet discovered the irrepressible rhyme queen dimension. πŸ‘ΈπŸ» Thirty years of reading, writing, singing and miming word families with six and seven year olds was pure joy! πŸ˜‰πŸ™ƒπŸ€—

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Well my arty sister, I could not hope to scale those lofty heights of culture and composition nor breath their rarified air – and you need so much wind and have to blow so hard when you play. (I don’t even know how to insert emoticons etc)

          Liked by 3 people

          1. You are so kind, Noreen, and, I’ve noticed, you’re a woman overflowing with encouragement and affirmation for others – a sign of hope. Thank you for your witness. As ever, keeping your dear granddaughter in prayer.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, Charlie. I hear a deep, strong beat with some sixteenth note accents in 4/4 timing… with the syllable β€œde” taking the down beat, we’d have a rest at the end of each line when using β€œtwo seven two.” A right fine rumble in the gut it would be.

        Memories of West African talking drums are still with me. Years ago, when walking in our Palm Sunday processions, I used a hand drum with a modified bass drum mallet to set a cadence. The silence accompanying the drum as the mass of people walked was haunting.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. JoeCro: Excellent! πŸ™‚

          Where’s Michael Patrick? Perhaps we could cajole him into making up one of those awesome pictures of his, with a bunch of squirrels wearing 0.0002% T-shirts and carrying signs saying, “Who are you? We are Two Seven Two!”

          I have competing images in my mind…. In the first image, during the walk/march, the group is alternating amongst the aforementioned chant, the Song of Thanksgiving, and our TNRS-ASOH “Theme Song” (“All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir”).

          In second mental image, I envision a crowd carrying Beckita’s Te Deum Laudamus posters and chanting as she has described.

          However, this brings to mind a third mental image–one that Patrick Daniel linked to a while back:

          Speaking of Patrick, let’s remember to storm heaven on his behalf today and tomorrow while he is on his Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

          Liked by 8 people

          1. Great job encompassing all the images, Mick, reflecting the many, varied and sometimes unusual talents of TNRSers. Many the gifts. Many the works. We are SO blessed.

            Thanks for the reminder about Patrick. I’ve had him in mind all week long and continue into this retreat weekend holding him in prayer. I’ll send him a text this morning and convey our love and prayers from ASOH.

            Liked by 7 people

          2. The Monty Python reference got me to chuckle. My son discovered the irreverent Monty Python movies as a junior in high school. His senior year quote was directly from Monty Python – “Always look on the bright side of life.” Fits the theme here, doesn’t it!

            Liked by 6 people

          3. Mick, it’s a chant, not a question and answer session.

            Who are you?

            We are Two

            Seven Two.

            It is barked out in true protest march style:

            Left right left

            Left right left

            Left right left

            Never mind – I should have left it to our esteemed resident teacher to explain.

            If I could add sound I would but as I said I cant even add an emoticon. But thanks for your appreciation πŸ‘ oops, of course I can ha ha.

            Loved the Monte Python clip.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Laughing my head off, JoeCro! I didn’t get that it was supposed to be like the military march-chant-thing (“Left! Left! Left-right-left!”). Having been a cheerleader in high school, I assumed it was like a call-and-response cheer, like so:

              Cheerleaders (to the crowd): “Who are you?”
              Crowd (to the cheerleaders): “We are 2-7-2!”

              Guess I’ll leave the military march-chants to the non-former-cheerleaders/current-and-former-military-and-military-knowledgeable among our ranks.

              Or maybe I’ll just bring my pom-poms and cheer the marchers on. πŸ™‚


              Liked by 7 people

          4. Ha Mick! I just spotted your post here. (That vid still makes me chuckle.) Thanks for reminding folks to pray! It was a deeply spiritual weekend. I really love what Rachel’s Vineyard does…helping to save wounded souls. I believe I will have a future with this organization. Right now, though, I’m still pondering my experience β€” quite a range of emotions and thoughts have been assailing me. Some from Heaven, some from the evil one. I’ll need time to process it all.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Ha, Patrick! When you first put that vid up a while back, I watched it over and over; and I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my face. I later showed it to one of my older boys. He thought it was mildly humorous, but not as funny as I did/do.

              Still praying for you as you process it all. πŸ™‚

              Liked by 2 people

  4. Yeah that will work too Beckita

    Cyber Cru
    Saders two
    Seven two

    From the urban dictionary

    “Sader: A very kind and fun loving character who is also a beast! They are very loyal and will do anything for their friends even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. They are usually very friendly. A Sader is very strong and cocky and can never be told they cant do something or they shall do it. A sader is also a little girl crazy and you will always see them with at least one girl with him. A sader is a good guy but if you piss him off stay out of his way for he isn’t easy to take down and he will fight to his last breath. He is also very protective.”

    Sounds like Charlie!

    Liked by 6 people

      1. “Sader” defines you well, Charlie. As for me – being girl crazy is one of the great joys of life. Girls rock. They make the world go round. But with the years has come a little wisdom so my head does not spin so much. I think God looked at Adam and said “I’m sure I can do better than that.”

        Liked by 5 people

  5. Thank you Charlie, love your “Short Takes”..Β  By any chance are you and this on “MeWe”.Β  Β I would love to share it there too…Β  GOD Bless!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. These short takes are a great idea. Thank you! I don’t have a firm grasp of the slippery political world and I don’t have the time to do the research in every case. I often have instincts about all of these stories, but I don’t bother to follow them through and get the proper factual support because these things change so fast and I am just a stay at home homeschooling mom whose energy is often better spent catching bugs outside with the kids. I do put in enough effort to read more than headlines, but this is a nice one-stop political compass that quickly gets right to the point. What makes your take slightly different from many others is that you obviously have a world much larger than this one on your mind at all times. The context in which you place things is a bigger context than what you’d normally find in political commentators. You don’t mice words either, you go right to the larger themes, you get your references, proof, assessment, judgement, and place it in context of a God centered historical worldview all in a few sentences. Bam.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Katherine, I couldn’t agree more! Amen. When I try and read news online or watch on Fox News I get disturbed by all the over-talking, yelling and arguing!
      I read Charlie… much more reasonable, calm and peaceful. Thank God. 🌲🌡🌾

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Great piece, Charlie! This piece and everyone’s comments made me laugh about a hundred times! hahaha Thank you all very much! Just want to let you all know after I told you all I was in a funk with losing my mom, it lifted! Ahhhhhh the power of prayers! Thank you all so much! I’m making happiness my choice from now on!

    Also, Charlie, about Zuckerberg…I too felt like he appeared to be like a robot or an android. I really don’t mean it in a mean spirit…I really mean it…his actions look mechanical… Wouldn’t this be something if it all is just a big android hoax!!! hahaha TNRS xoxo

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sounds like you have a big brave heart Linda. I will be 65 this year and my mum will be 90. I dread the thought of her going and keep telling her I want to go to her 100th birthday party. It is often said when someone dies, β€œShe is in a better place.” While that’s true and we mean well, in most of our hearts the better place is alive and well and with us. Mum loves life and thinks it is very funny that two of her sons are old age pensioners. Me not so much. We have hilarious conversations with the oft repeated question β€œNow, what was I going to say?” God bless you and strengthen you and comfort you and lift your spirits when they sink.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. No sooner had I posted this to you Linda than a photo arrived from my grand niece Louise of my mum, Mary Rose, with two great grand daughters! Becks will post it for me.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. When my Mom died, my Dad was disconsolate. Someone told him, “She’s in a better place now.” He looked at the woman forlornly and replied, “This place is pretty good.” Lord, how I loved the honesty! At one point I called a close friend and ended up weeping. He asked me why, when I knew with certainty that God IS. I replied that, when Lazarus died, the Lord of life and death himself, wept over it – even knowing that He would soon restore Lazarus to life here.

        Liked by 12 people

        1. It is a bittersweet “emotion” …. joyous that they are in heaven with God, but deeply saddened they are not here with you anymore. Right after my father died, my sister said she wasn’t sad and grieving because she was wondering where dad was (knowing he was in heaven), … but that “I just miss him.” I agree.with her.

          Liked by 6 people

        1. This and your next one, Joe, gave me my first laugh out loud today! Glad to have you here these days πŸ™‚ Yes, we all need laughter during these times. God bless us all!!

          Liked by 6 people

  8. Oh my gosh, you folks crack me up. I really needed a good laugh. Please keep sending these uplifting pieces. I hope this site stays at 272 for a while. I really like the numbers 2+7+2 = 11 apostles.

    By the way would it be possible to republish the article on steely resolve. Might be appropriate during these challenging times especially if there is a Jericho walk.

    Blessings to all.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Bill, steely resolve sounds like an apropos theme right now. Thanks for asking. Charlie has conveyed, in “Slouching Towards Jericho,” that he’d like to get rolling on “The Ballad” and it will be in three, maybe four segments. With the crazed state of our country and world, I think it’s important to allow those segments to go up before anything else right now. I have sensed that “The Ballad of the Ordinary Man” will be a foundational piece. And as Charlie wrote: “The spark that sets off the strife could come tomorrow – or we could limp along until mid-summer.” AND “What started as a trenchant piece has evolved into a sort of manifesto.” I feel a sense of urgency for “The Ballad” to come forth and I believe your desire to be heartened with steely resolve will be met in those related pieces as I also sense we shall be encouraged and exhorted in light of where we are right now. God bless us, one and all.

      Bill, how’s your pastor, I believe it’s Fr. Wagner, doing?

      Liked by 5 people

        1. Fr. Wagner condition is still grave. His family is with him and the Seattle Archbishop was returning from business elsewhere to be with his Priest. When I know more I’ll send an update. Please continue to pray.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Ah, Bill– Seattle archbishop is Peter Sartain. Our former pastor and the dear priests that married my husband and me. Prayers for Fr. Wagner.

            Liked by 2 people

              1. Oh, Mick! I didn’t know you had lived in Joliet. What a small world it is. My mother lived there as a little girl and she loved that Bishop Sartain could meet people there whom she had known. We love Archbishop Peter. If he hears your name once, he never forgets it. He had radical back surgery a few years ago and is a never complaining suffering soul. Keep him in your prayers.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. I am happy to see there are some neighbors here from the Joliet Diocese. He was from a neighboring Parish before becoming Bishop. He was loved and I am tickled to see Mick and Kim are neighbors of mine.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Noreen–Fr. Sartain was our pastor in Memphis and then was made bishop and was sent to to Little Rock. Then Archbishop in Seattle. Is that the same man you are talking about?


                  2. Noreen and Kim, my family no longer lives in the diocese of Joliet. We lived in the diocese from 2001 untiil late 2007, at which time we relocated to my home state of Michigan. As glad as I am to be home, we really did enjoy the years that we lived in Illinois. We lived downstate… we were the last parish in the south of the diocese; the next parish south of us (St. Malachy’s in Rantoul) was in the diocese of Peoria. πŸ™‚

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I love Illinois– I was born in southern Illinois where my mom grew up– not far from St. Louis. Very Catholic area.

                      Liked by 1 person

  9. Charlie, thanks for these short-takes! Like another reader above, I homeschool my kiddos. That, combined with the meeting of various sorts of challenges, leaves precious little brain space for the lengthier articles, although I do give it my best shot! These shorter snippets are easier for me to get a handle on at this point in my life… Keep up the good work! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Enjoying this post and all the comments here. We are in what is shaping up to be a “historic storm” in Minnesota. We’re experiencing spring/cabin fever, but keeping our senses of humor, or maybe we’ve just actually lost our minds. πŸ˜‰ Birds and deer were out eating as much as possible earlier before it gets worse, but the squirrels seem to have planned ahead and are already nestled in their little squirrel lodges. It’s so nice to have this site. Thanks Charlie and all who comment. Brrrr…

    Liked by 6 people

  11. This is all so wonderful! Love the short takes, can’t wait for Charlie’s 4 pager either!
    I am hunkered down too, here in SW Minnesota. What a storm! Most roads in SW Mn. are closed. Gonna fry some chicken wings tonight and find a good movie that I recorded on our DVR.
    God willing, we’ll see the sun again.

    Liked by 9 people

  12. I just love this post and all the comments. My heart is smiling! Thanks folks, for the blessing – and the sprinkling of words of wisdom. God bless all here.

    Humm, the bed of life seems to have a broken spring! πŸ˜‰ Icy rain and snow this AM. Praying to get safely to Mass.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Charlie – on your comment “I’m not quite sure whether Zuckerberg is an actual person…”
    I just noted to my husband a few days ago – “He reminds me of the character DATA from the second StarTrek series.”
    Ted Cruz did a pretty good job of splashing some reality water on his sand castle. Most very liberal folks I know here in Massachusetts are not evil as much as they are, like Zuckerberg, convinced of their own arguments which sound good, but have no foundation in Truth.
    Without Jesus, we are so easily deceived. May we cling to His words: I am with you always…

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Marianne, you’ve nailed that which has infected most of the common folk liberals I know, no matter where they live in this country : “Most very liberal folks I know here in Massachusetts are not evil as much as they are, like Zuckerberg, convinced of their own arguments which sound good, but have no foundation in Truth.” So many scales to fall from too many eyes. May Our Lady of Tepeyac, Mother of conversion, pray for us and with us.

      Liked by 5 people

  14. I think after this, when the talents above are discovered, next survey will show this website has moved up at least 100 places!
    God loves the TNSers.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Here’s a squirrelly offering:

    ” We may seem
    a little squirrelly
    But we’re solid as a rock.
    will put deep -State on the dock!”

    Or alternate last line: are near always on the mark!”

    Liked by 1 person

          1. How about a song for those souls…

            cheers πŸ™‚

            Though these souls portrayed in this video are a much hardier stock than now. Perseverance through integrity, honor for their families. What will happen in our age of selfies, in a way, I shudder at the thought. Then, I recall an acronym TRNS: Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to others.

            Jesus, I trust in You

            Jesus, Mary save souls.

            Jesus, Mary, Joseph pray for us.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Great find, Sean! The closing lines are depressing, hopeless. On the other hand, as you note, TNRS keeps us rooted in hope.

              The Ballad of the Ordinary Man

              I’m an ordinary man, nothing special nothing grand
              I’ve had to work for everything I own
              I never asked for a lot, I was happy with what I got
              Enough to keep my family and my home

              Now they say that times are hard and they’ve handed me my cards
              They say there’s not the work to go around
              And when the whistle blows, the gates will finally close
              Tonight they’re going to shut this factory down
              Then they’ll tear it d-o-w-n

              I never missed a day nor went on strike for better pay
              For twenty years I served them best I could
              Now with a handshake and a cheque it seems so easy to forget
              Loyalty through the bad times and through good
              The owner says he’s sad to see that things have got so bad
              But the captains of industry won’t let him lose
              He still drives a car and smokes his cigar
              And still he takes his family on a cruise, he’ll never lose

              Well it seems to me such a cruel irony
              He’s richer now then he ever was before
              Now my cheque is spent and I can’t afford the rent
              There’s one law for the rich, one for the poor
              Every day I’ve tried to salvage some of my pride
              To find some work so’s I might pay my way
              Oh but everywhere I go, the answer’s always no
              There’s no work for anyone here today, no work today.

              Break – 1st four lines

              And so condemned I stand just an ordinary man
              Like thousands beside me in the queue
              I watch my darling wife trying to make the best of life
              And God knows what the kids are going to do
              Now that we are faced with this human waste
              A generation cast aside
              And as long as I live, I never will forgive
              You’ve stripped me of my dignity and pride, you’ve stripped me bare
              You’ve stripped me bare, You’ve stripped me bare.

              Liked by 1 person

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