PopeWatch: Not Interested?

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa puts his finger on what PopeWatch views as the single most dispiriting aspect of the papacy of Pope Francis:

 

 

Three days later, on June 4, the pope had a long meeting at his residence of Santa Marta with some “Evangelical” leaders of the United States, including the famous televangelist Joel Osteen, California pastor Tim Timmons, and the president of the Evangelical Westmont College, Gayle D. Beebe.

On June 24, another meeting. This time with Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland, with Bishop Anthony Palmer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, with John and Carol Arnott of Toronto, and with other prominent leaders. There were also Geoff Tunnicliffe and Brian C. Stiller, respectively the secretary general and “ambassador” of the World Evangelical Alliance. The meeting lasted for three hours and continued through lunch, in the refectory of Santa Marta, where the pope, amid loud laughter, gave Pastor Robinson a high five (see photo).

Copeland and Osteen are proponents of “prosperity theology,” according to which the more faith grows the more wealth grows. They themselves are very wealthy and live an extravagant lifestyle. But Francis spared them the sermon on poverty.

Instead – according to what “ambassador” Stiller reported – the pope assured them: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.” Continue reading

Lincoln and Summer

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Yesterday my family and I made our annual pilgrimage down to Springfield to visit the Lincoln Museum and go to the Lincoln Tomb to say prayers for the repose of the souls of Lincoln and his family.  A few observations:

1.  Weather:  Illinois has been experiencing one of the coolest Julys on record.  Yesterday the high was 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 15 degrees below what we often experience at this time of year.  Very pleasant weather for walking about downtown Springfield.

2. Officiousness-My family and I renewed our membership in the Lincoln Museum Association for $70.00.  That is pricier than if we had to pay for tickets but I like to encourage the Museum with funds, especially as I view the enjoyment of the kids who come there to see the Lincoln exhibits.  Right after we did that a guard stopped us as we were entering the main part of the museum and asked to examine my wife’s purse.  He saw that she had gum and mints and told us she would have to put the gum and mints in a locker before we could enter since no food and drink could be brought in.  We have been coming to the museum since 2006, after it opened in 2005, and this had never happened to us before.  It was obvious to me that the young man was taking a reasonable rule and making it absurd.  We complied, although the lawyer part of me wanted to make an issue of it.  However, I did not want to get the young guard into trouble, which I assume will happen swiftly enough if this is how he is treating all female patrons.   I decided to let it be by someone else’s hand and I was not going to mar our day with a confrontation.

3.  Decisions-The museum was wonderful as always.  The standout for me, as usual, was Lincoln standing behind his desk, looking at the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, as shadows behind him gave him conflicting advice about whether to emancipate the slaves.  Great decisions are always easy unless you are the one making them.

Lincoln Ponders the Emancipation Proclamation

Continue reading

When Congress Makes a Joke, It’s A Law

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So when all the yielding and objections is over, the other Senator said, “I object to the remarks of a professional joker being put into the Congressional Record.” Taking a dig at me, see? They didn’t want any outside fellow contributing. Well, he had me wrong. Compared to them I’m an amateur, and the thing about my jokes is that they don’t hurt anybody. You can say they’re not funny or they’re terrible or they’re good or whatever it is, but they don’t do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it’s a law. And every time they make a law it’s a joke.

Will Rogers

After 32 years at the bar I have reached some conclusions about legislation and the law.  First, legislation tends to be a sloppy process.  In the hurly-burly of the legislative process, and the hacking and re-writing of proposed legislation, not infrequently the finished product contains parts that do not mesh well with pre-existing laws, portions that make no sense at all or sections that simply are logically inconsistent with other sections.  As these laws go into force, most of the time they eventually are challenged by attorneys in law suits and the attorneys wrapped in black, i.e. judges, have to figure out what to do next.  Second, a big problem that exists in this area is the doctrine of separation of powers.  The courts are not supposed to rewrite legislation passed by a legislature.  A whole body of law exists to aid a judge in this thicket called statutory construction.  In a few states there are actual statutes governing how a court is to interpret a statute, and some laws actually have sections telling a court, for example, that if it finds that one section of a statute is unconstitutional, then the remainder of the statute will still be in full force and effect.  However, most of the time, in both the states and federal judicial systems, the courts rely on prior cases ruling on how courts are to interpret statutes.

One of these rules of construction is that courts will usually not rewrite a statute which is clear in order to produce a new statute that matches legislative intent rather than what is actually written in a statute.  Here is a hypothetical example:  A state passes legislation that states that all lawyers will appear in court dressed in clown garb.  Now in every section of the statute the term “clown garb” is used, except in one section where the term used is “garb”.  A court might view this as a simple mistake and say that reading the statute all together, it is clear that attorneys are required to wear clown garb.  However, let us say that a preamble to the legislation states that this is being done in order to underline the fact that most attorneys are bozos and therefore should be dressed as Bozo the Clown when they appear in court, but in the body of the statute only the term “clown garb” is used.  In that case a court would likely rule that although the legislative intent is clear the court cannot rewrite the legislation and attorneys, as long as they are dressed like any sort of clown and not just as Bozo, may appear in court.

Well, something similar just occurred in regard to that Frankenstein of the legislative process, the Affordable Care Act, i.e. ObamaCare.

When ObamaCare was passed it had 381,517 words in it.  It was a poorly crafted piece of legislation with many parts that mesh poorly with other parts, and with existing statutes, and many parts that do not make sense.  However, where it has come a cropper is in a section that is clearly written.  In Halbig v. Burwell the question was litigated about whether taxpayer subsidies for health insurance were available in the 36 states where the Federal government set up the healthcare exchanges and not the individual State governments.  A three judge panel of the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals voted three to one that such subsidies were not available because the act as passed by Congress restricted those subsidies to health care insurance purchased through health care exchanges established by the States: Continue reading

PopeWatch: Diplomacy

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An interesting look at the diplomatic style of Pope Francis by Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa:

 

Francis has placed back at the head of the secretariat of state a thoroughbred diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. But with him as pope, the face of Vatican geopolitics has changed.

The war of the worlds fought and won by a giant like John Paul II is now a distant memory. In an age of personalized conflicts, of despots, of armed factions, of fractured and failed states, even diplomacy is becoming personalized, becoming “artisanal,” as Pope Francis himself likes to put it. His Argentina is not Poland, where the dictatorship was opposed by a Church of the people, solid and faithful. Under the heel of the military rulers the Argentine Church was confused and divided. The young Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio acted according to his own judgment, in secret and sovereign solitude.

Today he does everything in public. But still with highly personal gestures that seem alien to the old-school diplomats. Like inviting under the dome of St. Peter’s, to pray, the presidents of Israel and Palestine.

“Here in the Vatican 99 percent said that we would never succeed,” Pope Francis himself candidly revealed afterward. But what asserted itself in the end was precisely that stubborn one percent which he personifies.

Even in the complicated preparations for the summit the pope did everything himself. He left the career diplomats with only the crumbs. He preferred the help of a Franciscan friar, custodian of the Holy Land Terra Santa Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and of an Israeli journalist who works as a correspondent for “La Vanguardia” of Barcelona, Henrique Cymerman.

Where diplomacy fails, Pope Francis takes the field his own way.

With silence, as in the unscheduled stop in front of the wall of separation in Bethlehem.

With prayer and fasting, as for Syria last September 7, when he recited the rosary in St. Peter’s Square on his knees in front of an icon of the Blessed Mother. Continue reading

Emily Hoffman and Her Yankee General

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The Civil War was filled with endless personal tragedies and one of them played out in the aftermath of the death of General James Birdseye McPherson at the Battle of Atlanta.  McPherson was engaged to marry Emily Hoffman of Baltimore.  Having gotten leave for the first time in three years, he had been on his way to Baltimore to marry her, when Sherman had called him back to take command of the Army of the Tennessee in the drive on Atlanta.  Sherman wrote to Miss Hoffman to explain the necessity of this:

Head-Quarters
Military Division of the Mississippi
Acworth, Ga.
June 9, 1864
My Dear Young Lady,
I hardly feel that I should apologize for intrusion, for I can claim an old acquaintance with your Brother and Sister in California, and feel almost that I know you through them, and others of your honored family. It has come to my knowledge that you are affianced to another close friend and associate of mine Maj General McPherson, and I fear that weighing mighty matters of State but lightly in the Realm of Love, you feel that he gives too much of his time to his Country and too little to you.

His rise in his profession has been rapid, steady and well earned. Not a link unbroken. Not a thing omitted. Each step in his progress however has imposed on him fresh duties that as a man and a soldier, and still more as a Patriot, he could not avoid.

I did hope as he returned from Meridian, when his Corps the 17th was entitled to go home on furlough, that he too could steal a month to obey the promptings of his heart, to hasten to Baltimore and I so instructed, but by the changes incident to General Grant’s elevation, McPherson succeeded to the Command of a separate Army and Department, and could not leave.

There is no rest for us in this war till you and all can look about you and feel there is Reason and Safety in the Land. God purifies the atmosphere with tempests and storms which fall alike upon the just and unjust, and in like manner he appeases the jarring elements of political discord by wars and famine. Heretofore as a nation we have escaped his wrath, but now with the vehemence of anhundred years accumulation we are in the storm, and would you have us shrink?

But I will not discuss so plain a point with one who bears the honored name of Hoffman, rather tell you of him whose every action I know fills your waking and sleeping thoughts, him so young but so prominent, whose cause is among the gallant and brave, who fight not for oppression and wrong but that the Government bequeathed to us by your ancestors shall not perish in ignominy and insult: but which shall survive in honor and glory, with a power to protect the weak and shelter the helpless from the terrible disasters of a fratricidal war.

I know McPherson well, as a young man, handsome and noble soldier, activated by motives as pure as those of Washington, and I know that in making my testimony to his high and noble character, I will not offend the Girl he loves.

Be patient and I know that when the happy day comes for him to stand by your side as one Being identical in heart and human existence you will regard him with a high respect and honor that will convert simple love into something sublime and beautiful.

Yours with respect
W. T. Sherman

Her father was a rich Baltimore merchant, strongly pro-Confederate in his sympathies, as was his mother who organized sewing bees to produce garments for Confederate soldiers.  A son was fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia.  The Hoffman family strongly disapproved of Emily’s engagement with a Union general.

 

Emily learned of the death of McPherson on July 23.  Stricken with unbearable grief she immediately went to her room and spent the next year there in seclusion.  Sherman wrote to her a second time. Continue reading

Jews Today, Christians Tomorrow

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The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity.

Adolph Hitler, Table Talk

 

 

 

Hattip to Instapundit.  One thing I have learned from a close study of history is that when anti-semites attack Jews, often there are going to be massacres of Christians by the same anti-semitic forces eventually.  This report from Paris is therefore ominous on two grounds:

 

This sounds like a headline from Tzarist Russia in 1910, but in fact it was last week in Paris. A group of anti-Israel demonstrators tried to storm a synagogue, but Jews had their own undercover agents at the protests so they could raise the alarm if any of the protestors started to engage in violence.  They did so, and the rioters were beaten back by a combination of “right-wing” Jewish youth groups and communal security. Unlike is Tzarist Russia,  the authorities aren’t on the side of the attackers, and they eventually arrived in sufficient numbers to disperse the attackers. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Celibacy

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This is interesting.  Walter Cardinal Brandmuller writes to correct the record regarding the statement of the Pope that celibacy was instituted as a discipline of the Church circa 900 AD.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has the English text of what the Cardinal wrote:

WE PRIESTS, CELIBATE LIKE CHRIST

by Walter Brandmüller

Dear Mr. Scalfari,

Although I have not enjoyed the privilege of meeting you in person, I would like to revisit your statements concerning celibacy contained in the account of your conversation with Pope Francis, published on July 13, 2014 and immediately disputed in their authenticity by the director of the Vatican press office. As an “old professor” who for thirty years taught Church history at the university, I would like to bring to your attention the current state of the research in this field.

In particular, it must be emphasized in the first place that celibacy by no means dates back to a law invented 900 years after the death of Christ. It is instead the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that report the words of Jesus in this regard.

Matthew writes (19:29): “And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

What Mark writes (10:29) is very similar: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold.”

Luke (18:29ff.) is even more precise: “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Jesus does not address these words to the masses, but rather to those whom he sends out to spread his Gospel and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God. Continue reading

July 22, 1864: Battle of Atlanta

After the battle of Peachtree Creek Hood ordered his army to withdraw to Atlanta, hoping that an opportunity would present itself to destroy a portion of the Union army as Sherman advanced on Atlanta.

 

 

 

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While Stewart’s corps held the fortifications north of Atlanta, Hood planned to attack McPhersons Army of the Tennessee which was approaching from the east.  Cheatham’ corps would attack from the eastern fortifications of Atlanta, while Hardee’s corps would attack from the south, with Wheeler’s cavalry launching assaults on the supply lines of the Army of the Tennessee.

Hardee’s corps took much longer to get into position for the attack than Hood anticipated, and McPherson reinforced his left to meet this anticipated attack.  The attack of Hardee when it went in caused the Union line to waver and begin to retreat before it was repulsed.  It was during this attack that McPherson was slain.  Major General John “Blackjack” Logan, the most able of the Union political generals, took temporary command of the Union army and successfully led it during the remainder of the battle.

Cheatham’s corps attacked from the Atlanta entrenchments.  Here most of the fighting centered on Baldy Hill, with that conflict going on to nightfall.  Two miles to the north Cheatham’s corps made a breakthrough of the Union lines, that was only repulsed after much hard fighting, spearheaded by Logan’s corps supported by a heavy Union artillery bombardment.

At the end of the day, Union casualties were 3,000 to Confederate casualties of 5,000.  Hood was unable to repulse the Union forces and the battle of Atlanta now became the siege of Atlanta.

 

 

The essential tragedy of the Civil War is that it was “a war without an enemy” in which Americans were fighting each other.  This sad fact is epitomized by this tribute penned by Hood in regard to his classmate and roommate James Birdseye McPherson:

I will record the death of my classmate and boyhood friend, General James B. McPherson, the announcement of which caused me sincere sorrow. Since we had graduated in 1853, and had each been ordered off on duty in different directions, it has not been our fortune to meet. Neither the years nor the difference of sentiment that had led us to range ourselves on opposite sides in the war had lessened my friendship; indeed the attachment formed in early youth was strengthened by my admiration and gratitude for his conduct toward our people in the vicinity of Vicksburg. His considerate and kind treatment of them stood in bright contrast to the course pursued by many Federal officers.

 

 

Here is Sherman’s report of the battle: Continue reading

72 Year Old Buzz Aldrin Punches Out Lunar Truther

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Ah, it does my heart good whenever I see this video.  Buzz Aldrin, who the loonie lunar truther was calling a coward, flew 65 combat missions during the Korean War and shot down two MIG-15s.  The police refused to arrest Aldrin, stating that he had been clearly provoked.  Aldrin has done many things worthy of medals in his long life, and socking that obnoxious creep was one of them!

PopeWatch: Meditation

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Prior to cardinals deliberating on who to elect as Pope, they read this meditation by  Prosper Cardinal Grech.  At 87 he was too old to vote, which perhaps indicates why he was tasked to write the meditation.  He left the Conclave before the voting began.  Reading the meditation in the light of what has transpired thus far in the current papacy is an interesting experience.  Here is the text of the meditation:

At the venerable age of 87 I am one of the eldest in the College of Cardinals, though as regards the appointment I am still a newborn; and since my life has always been dedicated to study, my knowledge of the affairs and work of the Curia does not surpass the third grade. Continue reading

Lip Service

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Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, who presided over the canonization funeral mass of Ted Kennedy, read about it here, continues to disappoint.  Boston Catholic Insider gives us the details:

 

 

Cardinal Sean O’Malley appeared with liberal Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday to voice support for Patrick’s proposal to house illegal immigrants and offer Catholic social service assistance for illegals, while the Cardinal said nothing all week about a heinous law advancing in the Mass legislature to penalize those who try to prevent women from aborting their children. In our opinion, the Cardinal is yet more clearly showing his stripes as being a tool of the liberal Democratic pro-abortion establishment, and a hypocrite when it comes to protection of life.

On June 27,  Cardinal O’Malley came out in support of the Supreme Court decision that unanimously struck down the previous Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone law as unconstitutional. Never had Cardinal O’Malley been seen praying in front of an abortion clinic, but still, his statement was welcome and appreciated when he said that pro-life Americans who “peacefully pray for and offer alternatives to pregnant women approaching abortion clinics” have the same constitutional protections as anyone else  “This discriminatory law barred these citizens from gathering on nearby public sidewalks, while exempting ‘clinic escorts’ trained to expedite women into (abortion clinics),” he said. “Clearly this was an attack on pro-life Americans’ freedom of speech, and we welcome the Court’s decision to overturn the law.”

That was June 27.  Then this week, the Mass Legislature introduced legislation that is far worse for pro-lifers than the previous law struck down by the Supreme Court. Details of the legislation are posted here by MassResistance:

  1. Creates a new “buffer zone.” The bill creates a 25-foot buffer zone substantially similar to the one which the US Supreme Court recently struck down.
  2. Has a “Dispersal” clause. The bill allows police to define any two or more people standing near an abortion clinic as a “gathering.” Any law enforcement official may arbitrarily decide that this “gathering” is in some way impeding access, and may order them to “disperse” and to stay outside of the buffer zone for at least eight hours. This can be done with no legal hearing or due process, threatening them with unusually severe penalties of arrest, prosecution, criminal fines, and jail time for not complying. In addition, a court can later impose civil fines, large punitive damages, attorney’s fees and “expert witness fees”. [First time who "impede a person's access to or departure from a reproductive health care facility with the intent to interfere with that person's ability to provide, support the provision of or obtain services at the reproductive health care facility" face a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail]
  3. Harsher punishments for one group over another. The bill places unusually high punishments for anyone threatening, intimidating, assaulting, blocking, or otherwise impeding people entering or leaving abortion clinics. But these high punishments do not apply to people entering or leaving the clinics (or anyone else) who are perpetrators of assaults of intimidation against pro-life advocates.

A hearing was held on Wednesday, and the measure quickly passed the Mass Senate. What did Cardinal O’Malley say or do about this publicly? Nothing. On short notice, Mass Citizens for Life had erected billboards and asked people to call legislators and to attend and speak at the hearing. Other organizations including FRC and MassResistance rallied pro-lifers.  What did O’Malley, the Mass Catholic Conference and Massachusetts bishops do? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. The last legislative alert sent out by the do-nothing MCC was six months ago. It is truly pathetic.  It is clear that the Cardinal’s rhetoric of June 27 was empty, and Cardinal O’Malley simply does not care about this issue–or whether pro-lifers wanting to help prevent women from taking the lives of their unborn children are fine, arrested or jailed. Continue reading

July 20, 1864: Battle of Peachtree Creek

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Sherman was closing in on Atlanta.  General Joseph Johnston had delayed the advance of Sherman but he had not been able to stop him.  On July 8 Sherman crossed the Chattahoochie River, the last major physical obstacle between him and Atlanta.  Johnston withdrew across Peachtree Creek north of Atlanta, planning to attack Sherman’s army as it crossed the creek.  As he made his preparations, Johnston was suddenly removed from his command by Davis.  Davis and Johnston were old enemies, but Davis removing Johnston was more an act of desperation than anything else.  If Atlanta fell, the Confederate heartland was open for an invasion by Sherman, and Johnston’s strategy of maneuver and retreat convinced Davis that Johnston would not fight for Atlanta.  Rolling the dice, Davis promoted one of Johnston’s corps commanders to the temporary rank of full general and John Bell Hood found himself in command of the Army of Tennessee.

Thirty-three years old and a West Point graduate, Hood had earned a reputation as an aggressive and successful division commander in the Army of Northern Virginia.  At Gettysburg he was severely wounded and lost the use of his left arm.  At Chickamauga he led the assault that cracked the Union army, and was again wounded losing his right leg.  Equipped now with a wooden leg, Hood had lost none of his aggression and self-confidence.  Under him retreat was to be a thing of the past, as he swiftly readied his army to take aggressive action to save Atlanta.

On July 19, Hood learned that Sherman was dividing his army, following his usual course of having the Army of the Cumberland under Thomas cross Peachtree Creek for a direct advance on Atlanta, while the Army of the Tennessee under McPherson and the Army of the Ohio under Schofield maneuvered to the East, to outflank the Confederates and to cut rail lines and the Confederate supply lines.  For a commander as fond of attack as Hood this was a golden opportunity to launch an assault on Thomas. Continue reading

July 20, 1969: Americans Set Foot on the Moon

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Back on July 20, 1969, astonishingly to me  forty-five years ago, I remember staying up to watch this with my father.  Here is a NASA Contractor Report on the flag raising.  My father was not the most talkative man in the world, but I could tell he was quite proud when the flag was raised.  So was I.

The flag raising has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists who claim that the moon landings were government hoaxes.  How could a flag wave without an atmosphere?  This has been answered numerous times. Continue reading

What Wondrous Love

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Something for the weekend.  A moving rendition of the hymn What Wondrous Love Is This by Bobby Horton, who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War era music to modern audiences.  The lyrics were first published in 1811 during the Second Great Awakening, a huge religious revival that swept  the nation.  The hymn was written either by that most prolific song writer Anonymous or by Alexander Means, the historical record is unclear.  The tune comes from that hit of 1701,The Ballad of Captain Kidd.

Few hymns are better than this one in powerfully, and simply, conveying the eternal truth of Christianity:  God, the great I AM, became one of us, walked and taught among us, and died for us.

Here is another rendition I have always liked, combining the hymn with another work of art that wordlessly conveys the core of Christianity, the Pieta: Continue reading

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