November 27, 2013

KITCHELL: A good year to be a pilgrim


---- — It’s that time again to assess the things that make Americans feel grateful enough to take a moment and reflect on why we’re glad we’re more like the people who sailed to this country and not like the bird Ben Franklin wanted to make our national symbol.

The annual “Turkeys and Pilgrims column” today recognizes some of the highs and lows of 2013 as we prepare to settle into football and shopping, followed by more football and shopping this Thanksgiving weekend.

While there was great competition for this year’s list, some clear contenders emerged.

First for our 2013 turkeys:

1. The mayor of Toronto. Admittedly a cocaine user, he has openly shoved down a female city official and shown disturbing signs that the face of the fourth largest city on the continent should step aside. Like the Royal Mounties, Toronto voters may always get their man. Let’s hope they get him out of office.

2. Anthony Weiner. The former congressman was caught using his cellphone for purposes other than communicating his viewpoint. Even after he was exposed exposing himself, he continued to run for New York mayor, thinking New Yorkers were grown up enough to deal with it. He was right. They ousted him in the primary.

3. Congress. After the latest “Let’s play chicken with the credit rating of the country and well-being of thousands of federal employees” fiasco, expect incumbents by the scores to be sent packing in 2014. If Gallup ever has ratings below zero for public confidence, it will happen with this bunch.

4. Separatist Coloradans. Yes, a chunk of Colorado voted in the recent election to create their own state. When some voters don’t get their way, this is what should happen? Coloradans, please Google American Civil War, keyword “Confederacy.”

5. Tony Bennett. Indiana’s former state school superintendent resigned after ethics concerns in Indiana that are being resolved as we pass the stuffing.

6. E-scammers. Despite the best filtering, they’re finding new ways to bilk American consumers.

7. Syrian leaders. Using weapons on their own people takes a page out of Saddam Huseein’s book, which is what earned his spot on this list in previous years.

8. Offshore companies. It’s apparent there are still corporations making money off this country by remaining offshore, and that’s literally having their cake and eating it, too.

9. IU President Michael McRobbie. Leading an effort to remove Ernie Pyle’s name from a great journalism school is Exhibit A of academe lacking common sense, and never lacking an ivory tower bravado.

10. Those of us who ought to be sharing our meals with the less fortunate. The gap between rich and poor is growing in this country, but so is the gap between their waistlines.

Now for the Pilgrims:

1. Middle East treaty proponents. Yes, there really is an agreement on the table to limit Iran’s nuclear capability. This could be the most encouraging sign in the area we once knew as Persia since the early 1970s.

2. The people of the Philippines and their rescuers. The United States is so far removed from this region of the world that the storm which devastated the nation is almost out of sight, and out of mind. But it shouldn’t be.

3. Tornado rescuers. The good folks of Illinois and Indiana have endured more than their share of twisters, but in November, it makes us all grateful to be spared the wrath of one of nature’s worst furys.

4. The health care community. With all the problems it has faced, and all the changing times it is anticipating, this has been a difficult time for the industry.

5. Alice Munro. A fantastic Canadian writer for decades who was finally accorded the supreme honor for any short story writer -- the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

6. Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub, who labored briefly in the Negro Leagues before becoming one of the first African-Americans to reach the Hall of Fame, was recently recognized in the White House. His optimistic attitude, much like the cause of Jackie Robinson’s life, transcended an era.

7. Tony Bennett. The crooner keeps telling us he left his heart in San Francisco, but even in his 80s, we know better. His heart’s in his passion, and that’s music.

8. Entrepreneurs. In their basements, labs, barns and unheated garages, they’re creating the next stocks we haven’t heard about yet.

9. NASA engineers. The space shuttle may be history, but they’re committed to the certainty that space travel isn’t a thing of the past. We just haven’t reached past our horizon yet.

10. Anonymous donors. When people give large sums of money without attaching their name, it says something more about them than their name ever could. If we could only thank them, we would.

And by the way, this year the Thursday NFL game in Detroit really means something, and that’s something to be grateful for after your feast. And Thanksgiving is something to be grateful for every year if you happen to be an American.

We’ve got a lot be thankful for in this country.

Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at