Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Will

 

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament whose powers subtract from those of national legislatures, a bureaucracy no one admires or controls, and rules of fiscal rectitude that no member is penalized for ignoring. It does, however, have in Greece a member whose difficulties are wonderfully didactic.

It cannot be said too often: There cannot be too many socialist smashups. The best of these punish reckless creditors whose lending enables socialists to live, for a while, off other people’s money. The world, which owes much to ancient Athens’s legacy, including the idea of democracy, is indebted to today’s Athens for the reminder that reality does not respect a democracy’s delusions.

Reality always wins out in the end.

 

PopeWatch: Liberal Catholic

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Over the years PopeWatch has heard time and again from many Catholics that there are no liberal Catholics nor conservative Catholics but merely Catholics.  PopeWatch has never believed this since the evidence to the contrary is so abundant.  PopeWatch would suggest that there are liberal and conservative Catholics and that Pope Francis is an example of a liberal Catholic.  In what way is Pope Francis a liberal Catholic (using “liberal” in the current popular American sense of being on the political left)?

1.  He has a distrust, if not hatred, of markets.

2.  His preferred solution to most problems in this Vale of Tears is to call upon Caesar to find a solution.

3.  He has a great fondness for some sort of world government.

4.  He believes in some of the shibboleths popular on the Left, including that arms merchants start wars, and that rich countries are responsible for poor countries being poor.

5.  He seeks out allies from the loony Left.

6.  He favors stringent regulation and control of economies by governments.

7.  He favors environmental “reform” even if, as he expects, people become materially poorer as a result.

8.  He has a distrust of democracy as democratic states lack long term commitment to the environmental measures that he favors.

9.  His outlook on life is top down with leaders bringing enlightenment to common humanity.

10.The Left, who hated his predecessors, love Pope Francis, who they view as an ally in most of their fights.

Continue reading

Gay Marriage and the Hand of God

She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

Protestant historian and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay on the Catholic Church

 

 

 

I am always reluctant to see the hand of God in human affairs.  I think there is much wisdom in this observation about God by Lincoln in his Second Inaugural:  The Almighty has His own purposes.   However, it is striking that Christian churches that embrace the evil Zeitgeist of today on abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and other issues, swiftly see their numbers diminishing and their churches heading to extinction.  David French at National Review Online looks at this phenomenon:

In previous pieces, I’ve amply documented the decline and fall of the Protestant Mainline, those churches — like the United Churches of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — that abandoned biblical orthodoxy decades ago, in the name of cultural relevance and “inclusion.” Some are declining so precipitously that they may cease to exist within a generation. Already we’re seeing similar signs of decline in those Evangelical churches that are abandoning biblical truth on questions of sex, family, and marriage.

 

The day before the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Nashville Scene — a local alternative paper — ran a long, gauzy profile of Pastor Stan Mitchell and GracePointe, a Tennessee church that’s done exactly what the culture demands and embraced same-sex marriage. In the midst of the lengthy ode to his courage, this small paragraph of truth stood out: 

Continue reading

Fortnight for Freedom: Bishop Sheen-Life of Abraham Lincoln

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

In our current struggle in this country for freedom, it is good to recall champions of it.  Two names stand above all others:  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln

In that regard,  Bishop Sheen retold the life of Abraham Lincoln on his television show.  Originally broadcast in 1954, it is an interesting take on the Great Emancipator.  Completely fascinating.  A great tribute by a son of Illinois to the greatest son of Illinois.

As a native of Peoria, Sheen knew that Lincoln re-emerged into political life on October 16, 1854 when he gave a speech in Peoria that attacked the repeal of the Missouri Compromise by Stephen Douglas’ Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Go here to read that speech.  The rest of Lincoln’s political life was set by that speech that catapulted him into the challenge to Douglas for his Senate seat in 1858, and his Presidential campaign against Douglas in 1860.  For Lincoln personally, the Peoria speech was the most significant of his life.

Of course Bishop Sheen did not celebrate Lincoln simply because of his connection with Illinois and Peoria.  In addition to his winning the Civil War and freeing the slaves, Lincoln was also ever a friend to Catholics.

In the 1840s America was beset by a wave of anti-Catholic riots.  An especially violent one occurred in Philadelphia on May 6-8.  These riots laid the seeds for a powerful anti-Catholic movement which became embodied in the years to come in the aptly named Know-Nothing movement.  To many American politicians Catholic-bashing seemed the path to electoral success.

Lincoln made clear where he stood on this issue when he organized a public meeting in Springfield, Illinois on June 12, 1844.  At the meeting he proposed and had the following resolution adopted by the meeting:

“Resolved, That the guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant; and that all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition. Resolved, That we reprobate and condemn each and every thing in the Philadelphia riots, and the causes which led to them, from whatever quarter they may have come, which are in conflict with the principles above expressed.”

Lincoln remained true to this belief.  At the height of the political success of the Know-Nothing movement 11 years later, Mr. Lincoln in a letter to his friend Joshua Speed wrote:

“I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].”

On July 4, 1864, when Lincoln had much else to occupy his mind, he attended a fundraising for a  Catholic church for Washington blacks.  Lincoln had given permission for the fund raiser to be held on the lawn of the White House. Continue reading

Thoughts on Laudato Si

Earlier last week I quipped that the original title of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical was Industrial Society and Its Future. For those who didn’t get the reference, it is the title of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto. Now I wrote this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, although I am evidently not the only person who made this connection. Though the Pontiff iterates that he is not opposed to technological progress per se, the impression he leaves is that he is not particularly fond of modern society and the advances of the great inventions of the 20th and 21st century.

In this he’s not entirely alone. Who hasn’t complained about the ways people bury themselves in their phones, failing to interact with those around them? But he goes far beyond such laments and rails against many of the aspects of modern life. What’s more aggravating is the way that he ignores how most of these advances have improved rather than hampered the lives of the poor. More unfortunately, this is a relatively minor failing of the encyclical compared to its other shortcomings.

The overarching defense of the encyclical is that it isn’t just about climate change. The Pope was really aiming his pen in large part at secularist environmentalists and trying to persuade them to encounter the entirety of the Gospel. After all, the Pope definitively defends Church teaching on abortion and family life, pointing out the hypocrisy of greenies who seemingly value plant life over human life.

This is true to an extent. It is not merely a climate change encyclical, and the Pope made an attempt to provide a holistic approach to ecology. As Yuval Levin puts it:

The Pope is trying to hijack the standing and authority (in the eyes of global elites and others) of a left-wing or radical environmentalist agenda to advance a deeply traditional Catholic vision of the human good and to get it a hearing by dressing it up as enlightened ecology.

Sadly the Pope utterly failed in this attempt, and that leads me to my fundamental criticism. The encyclical is a rather bifurcated document. The Pope generally relies on secularist language in attempt to talk, as it were, to the whole world. Then the Pope scatters in theological references. At no point, though, does he integrate the theological and the secular. What we’re left with is an encyclical that simultaneously treats the secular audience too softly and too hard. Too softly in that he is reluctant to boldly preach the Gospel message to them to convince them of the right approach to acting more ethically, and yet too hard because where he does attempt to defend traditional Church teaching, he does so in an abrupt, unconvincing manner. Calling out the hypocrisy of supporting environmental reform while also defending abortion rights is all well and good, but the Pope fails to elaborate on this. He doesn’t substantively rely on the rich teachings of the Church that date back two thousand years. He just makes a declarative statement that this attitude is incongruous and then moves on.

That this approach is doomed to failure is witnessed in the very first comment to the post linked at the beginning of this post.

If the pope wants to fight climate change he could start by allowing contraception.

Clearly the parts of this encyclical that we’re supposed to have cheered on didn’t reach this person.

Now it will be said that the Pope is not at fault because either the media under-reported these aspects of the encyclical or the audience simply rejected it. Sorry, but more than after two years into his Pontificate if he’s unaware of how his words will be used, then the Pope is not a particularly wise man. Furthermore, if he’s going to make a moral case against abortion and birth control, he has to try a little bit harder than he did on these pages. Considering how repetitive and long-winded the rest of the encyclical is, he surely could have edited down elsewhere to make room for more detailed apologetics on these issues. He did not, though, and he is primarily responsibile for this failure to connect.

And that’s a core issue with this Pope’s style: it’s one that is necessarily going to sway the people he’s trying to sway. Just as he is doomed to fail to convince the secularists, his method of dealing with economics is just as awkward and off-putting. He presents a rather black and white worldview with the ever put upon poor on one side, and a group of Snidely Whiplash-like cartoon capitalists on the other, twirling their mustaches and cooking up schemes to make the poor even poorer. Actually, there might be a third group: uncaring bumpkins sitting in their air conditioned homes with the eyes locked onto their mobile devices.

What’s funny about this rather strawman-laden document (which incidentally reads as though sections were written by the blogger formerly known as Morning’s Minion) is that he chides the ivory tower intellectuals who don’t really interact with the real world, and who form opinions without truly understanding what people are going through on a day-to-day basis. Now it’s true that perhaps Americans and others in the west can’t relate to some of the abysmal conditions existing in other parts of the world, and thus we might tend to ignore or shrug off as exaggerated some of the Pope’s lamentations. At the same time, the Pope himself has lived in his own sort of bubble. Having lived his entire life in an economic basket case he can’t totally be faulted for criticizing the current economic system. Yet these experiences have perhaps inoculated him from forming a more accurate picture of the world and how economic and technological progress has vastly improved the lot of much of humanity. Thus he has formed a rather simplistic view of capitalism. Sadly, this leads to a simplistic, meandering, and ultimately worthless document.

Coda: I wrote this blog and had it set to post last Friday, but then the Supreme Court decision came down and decided to hold off. Part of me thought of completely deleting the post because it seemed other issues were more pressing. Ultimately that’s why I decided to publish this: it’s even more evidence of the Pope’s bad judgment. With all that is happening in the world, this is what he chooses to write a long-winded encyclical about? This is what he’s throwing the full p.r. machine of the Vatican into? I’m not normally one for suggesting that Pope can’t write about certain subjects due to the severity of other issues. Metaphorically speaking Popes ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. And the Pope can’t drop everything for American political events. But it’s not just America that is being impacted by these cultural shifts.

PopeWatch: Priorities

Here is the response thus far of Pope Francis in regard to the United States Supreme Court mandating gay marriage:

 

In other news, the Pope has appointed Left wing activist Naomi Klein to co-chair a Vatican conference on the environment.  Klein views climate change as an opportunity to ditch capitalism:

Klein is likely to be a highly controversial choice as co-chair, not only because it is unusual to see a non-religious figure leading sessions in the Vatican, but because she is staunchly socialist in her outlook: her most recent book is entitled This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

In it, she insists that the only way to save the planet from annihilation by climate change is to abandon capitalism. “In order for us to make the kind of progress we need to make in the short amount of time we have left we must confront the reigning, unquestioned ideology that sees privatization as always good, and doesn’t question the logic of austerity, doesn’t question the logic of pro-corporate, free trade deals that have stood in the way of progress on climate,” she told Macleans last year.

“That’s not necessarily the most popular message. But emissions are up 61 percent since we started trying to fix this problem in the early 1990s. Obviously, that strategy isn’t working.”

Her views chime with those of the Pope, who used the 180-page encyclical to call on rich countries to hand over large sums of money to poor countries as payment for their “grave social debt”.

“The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned,” Francis wrote. “In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.

“The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.”

Klein has praised the Pope for that stance, telling the Observer: “The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics.”

She added that the Pope’s unique position as a “moral voice” gave him leverage to unite campaigners fighting for a common goal. “The holistic view of the encyclical should be a catalyst to bring together the twin economic and climate crises, instead of treating them separately,” she said.

And she tacitly accused his detractors of racism, suggesting that the Pope was being opposed on the economic arguments because he’s from the Southern hemisphere, saying: “There are a lot of people who are having a lot of trouble in realising there is a voice with such global authority from the global south. That’s why we’re getting this condescending view, of ‘leave the economics to us’,”

Unfortunately for Klein (and the Pope), her writing makes it clear that she has little grasp of basic concepts used in science such as cause and effect or numbers. Four years ago she attended the Heartland Institute’s climate conference in order to critique it.

The Australian climate blogger Jo Nova quickly and comprehensively destroyed her critique, however, saying: “Naomi Klein was the wrong person to send to a heavy-weight science conference  — in “Capitalism vs Climate” she notices hundreds of details, but they’re all the wrong ones.

“The lights are on and no brain is home.  Unpack the loquacious pencraft and we wallow in innumerate arguments that confuse cause and effect, peppered with petulant name-calling. She can throw stones, but she can’t count past “one”.” Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Top Ten Movies for the Fourth

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

John Adams

 

 

 

This is a repeat from a post last year, with some slight modifications, but I think the logic behind the post still holds true.  As we are embroiled now in a struggle to preserve our religious liberty, I think the Fourth of July is a good time to recall the price paid to establish our liberties.  It is trite to say that freedom is not free, but it is also true.  Winning the American Revolution took eight years and it was a definite David V. Goliath upset.  A people who forget this eternal lesson will not remain free for long.

 

 

A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution.  Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:

10.  Ben and Me (1953)- Something for the younger patriots.  Disney put to film the novel of Robert Lawson, Ben and Me, which related how many of Ben Franklin’s bright ideas came from his mouse Amos.  Quite a bit of fun.   Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.

9.  The Crossing (2000)-A retelling of Washington’s brilliant crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the battle of Trenton.  This film would rank much higher on my list but for Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of Washington as sullen and out of sorts throughout the movie.  Washington had a temper, and he could give vent to it if provoked, although he usually kept it under control, but the peevish Washington portrayed here is simply ahistoric and mars an otherwise good recreation of the turning point of the Revolution.

8.  John Paul Jones (1959)  Robert Stack, just before he rose to fame in the Untouchables, is grand in the role of the archetypal American sea hero.  Bette Davis is absolutely unforgettable as Catherine the Great.  The climactic sea battle with the Serapis is well done, especially for those pre-CGI days.  The only problem with the film is that many of the details are wrong.  This is forgivable to a certain extent since scholarship on Jones was badly skewed by Augustus Buell in a two-volume “scholarly biography” which appeared in 1900.  Buell was a charlatan who made up many incidents about Jones and then invented sources to support his fabrications.  Buell was not completely exposed until Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard professor of history, and an Admiral in the Navy, wrote his definitive biography of Jones. Here is a list of the fabrications of Buell compiled by Morison.  Morison’s book appeared after the movie, which is to be regretted.

7.  The Patriot (2000) Finally, a film which depicts the unsung contribution of Australians to victory in the American Revolution!  Actually not too bad of a film overall.  Heath Ledger is quite good as Gibson’s oldest son who joins the Continentals at the beginning of the war against his father’s wishes.  Jason Isaacs is snarlingly good as the evil Colonel Tavington, very loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, commander of Tarleton’s Raiders during the Southern Campaign.  The film of course allows Gibson to carry on his over-the-top vendetta against all things English.  No, the British did not lock up American civilians in churches and burn them alive.  However, the ferocity of the partisan fighting in the South is well depicted, and Banastre Tarleton  at the Waxhaw Massacre earned a reputation for slaughtering men attempting to surrender.  The final battle of the film is based on the battle of Cowpens where General Daniel Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton.

6.  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)-A John Ford classic starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  Through the eyes of a young newlywed couple, Fonda and Colbert, the American Revolution on the frontier is depicted in the strategic Mohawk Valley.  Full of the usual Ford touches of heroism, humor and ordinary life. Continue reading

Inside Out

Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they “own” their bodies — those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

 

My family and I went to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out on Saturday, and I heartily endorse it.  It is a very funny family comedy which gives a humorous fictional account of how people think and interact with others.  Personifications of our emotions run the show for each person, and the story conceit is well developed.  On one level it can be enjoyed as a kid’s movie, and on another level it is a pretty profound meditation on how complex human thoughts and emotions are, as we attempt to interact with others while barely understanding, at times, the complex factors within us determining our reactions to the outside world.  As usual for Pixar, stay for the ending credits, where you will see funny vignettes.  A good film for the forthcoming holiday weekend. Continue reading

Bear Growls: Her Hotness

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Saint Corbinian’s Bear brings us this:

 

In what Vatican watchers say is an attempt to rekindle flagging interest in Pope Francis’ “Green Encyclical,” the Vatican unveiled a new symbol for the initiative. A Vatican spokesman explained that “we want the people of the Earth to still think of Her as a ‘sister,’ but more of a hot step-sister.” The spokesman added that her “hotness” would remind people of global warming. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Mario Vargas Llosa

 

latin american idiot

He believes that we’re poor because they are rich and vice versa, that history is a successful conspiracy of evil against good, where they always win and we always lose (he is always among the poor victims and the noble losers).  He has no objection to surfing through cyberspace and being on-line, while at the same time-without realizing the contradiction-loathing consumerism.  When he speaks of culture he boasts, “What I know I learned from life, not from books, so my culture isn’t academic, but pragmatic.”  Who is he?  He is the Latin-American Idiot.

Mario Vargas Llosa, first paragraph of the foreword to Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot by Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2001), which is essential reading in the current pontificate.

Judicial Retention Elections for Supreme Court Justices

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A good idea from Senator Ted Cruz (R.Tx.):

Yet we are a people who believe, in the words of our Declaration of Independence that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations . . . evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.” In California, the people said enough is enough in 1986, and removed from office three activist justices who had repeatedly contorted the state constitution to effectively outlaw capital punishment, no matter how savage the crime. The people of Nebraska likewise removed a justice who had twice disfigured that state’s constitution to overturn the people’s decision to subject state legislators to term limits. And in 2010, the voters of Iowa removed three justices who had, like the Supreme Court in Obergefell, invented a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Judicial retention elections have worked in states across America; they will work for America. In order to provide the people themselves with a constitutional remedy to the problem of judicial activism and the means for throwing off judicial tyrants, I am proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would subject the justices of the Supreme Court to periodic judicial-retention elections. Every justice, beginning with the second national election after his or her appointment, will answer to the American people and the states in a retention election every eight years. Those justices deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the American people as a whole and by majorities of the electorates in at least half of the 50 states will be removed from office and disqualified from future service on the Court.

Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Abraham Lincoln on Supreme Court Decisions

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

Some quotes from Abraham Lincoln in how to react to illegitimate Supreme Court decisions.  An illegitimate decision is one in which the Court arrogates to itself the power of a legislature under the mendacious guise of merely interpreting the Constitution:

 

 

1.  I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit; as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government.

2.  Judicial decisions have two uses-first, to absolutely determine the case decided, and secondly, to indicate to the public how other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the latter use, they are called “precedents” and “authorities.”

3.  We think its (the Supreme Court) decisions on Constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution.

4.  At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

5.  Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as precedents, according to circumstances. That this should be so, accords both with common sense, and the customary understanding of the legal profession. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Drought

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

In response to California’s four-year drought, California Governor Jerry Brown has ordered the country’s first-ever mandatory baptism restrictions.

Brown’s executive order mandates that all churches in California cut back baptisms by 25 percent. The actual baptism restrictions are left in part up to the local dioceses, which will determine baptism limits and ways to monitor how many individuals are being saved by the blood of the Lamb.

Brown told the press this morning that the 25 percent of baptisms that are to be cut also applies to full immersion baptisms that take place in the ocean or lake.

In response to cut backs in baptisms, Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone criticized Brown’s measure to possibly restrict an additional 25 percent, and to force those to be strictly baptisms made by desire.

“We understand that the Governor believes we need to conserve water,” Cordileone told EOTT this afternoon. “But that we might have to force an additional 25 percent of incoming Catholic to wait until death to be baptized is ridiculous. On the bright side, I was able to talk him out of possibly mandating that all incoming pro-life Catholics be baptized by blood.” Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Dixie

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 I have always thought `Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. [Applause.] I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and applause.] I now request the band to favor me with its performance.’”

Abraham Lincoln, requesting the playing of Dixie when a crowd came to the White House after Lee’s Surrender.

Something for the weekend.  Well, after the Confederate flag madness of this week, the only appropriate song is Dixie.  One of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite songs, it now may become an anthem of a new movement against the suffocating political correctness that is threatening the freedom of our land.  Bob Dylan’s rendition of Dixie prior to the world going crazy:

Whining-Defeatism Open Thread

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I have little tolerance for whining and defeatism.  However, I suspect that many of our commenters and readers are doubtless distressed by recent events, as am I.  Thus, on this open thread you may, to your hearts content state:   that America is finished, the Church is finished, the anti-Christ is arriving by 6:00 AM CST on Tuesday in Pittsburg, Our Lady told a nun in Kenosha back in 1973 that the world would end in 2020, that the GOP is under the control of the cattle-mutilating Elvis impersonating Masons from Pluto, that secession is our only hope, that acting like Amish is our only hope, that we have no hope, that the barbarians are within the gate, that we have been sold out, that defeat is inevitable, that it is all (insert blank) fault, that pessimists are just too darn optimistic and any other manifestation of gloom, doom, despair and agony that you wish to give vent to.  This is your opportunity on this blog to do so.  The rest of the blog will be for people who have analysis, information and useful suggestions to give, along with the usual humorous asides, and share with John Paul Jones the sentiment:  “I have not yet begun to fight!”

A little mood music to get you started:

The Supreme Court: A Danger to American Democracy

 

All of Justice Antonin Scalia’s judicial opinions tend to be memorable, but I think his dissent in OBERGEFELL v. HODGES will perhaps be his most cited opinion in what I expect to be a dangerous time for the American Republic over the next few decades.  Here are quotes from his dissent to remember:

1.  It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me.  Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. 

2.  This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

3.   Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect.

4.  This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.  Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

5.   The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation. 

6.  But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.  The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds— minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly— could not.

7.  These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

8.  The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational popphilosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.

9. Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall.  The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”  With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence. Continue reading

OBERGEFELL v. HODGES: 5-4 Supreme Court Mandates Gay Marriage Nationally

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How wrong you were Alex.

In a decision which completes the transition of the Supreme Court to a super legislature, the Court today mandated gay marriage across the nation.  Justice Scalia’s dissent, shorn of footnotes and legal citations to aid in reading by non-attorneys, notes that the Court is a threat to American democracy:

 

JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom JUSTICE THOMAS joins, dissenting. I join THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion in full.  I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.

The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me.  The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance.

Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws.  So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me.  Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.  Continue reading

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