Friday, March 27, AD 2009

It is hard bearing the awesome responsibility of being TOTUS (Teleprompter Of The United States) and having the fate of the world resting upon your screens.  TOTUS deserves the best of working conditions.  Courtesy of Iowahawk, the world can now watch a private message between TOTUS and the guy who reads his screens.  Caution, the language is a bit rough as it often can be in political circles.

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Bishop Olmsted Accuses President Jenkins of Disobedience

Thursday, March 26, AD 2009

Here is the text of Bishop Olmsted’s letter to President Jenkins (h/t American Papist):


While I am disappointed by President Jenkin’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at commencement, particularly the decision to confer an honorary law degree, I have several questions about this letter:

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43 Responses to Bishop Olmsted Accuses President Jenkins of Disobedience

  • A voice of reasoned consideration in these woods.

    Deo Gratias.

  • I would assume that one of the benefits of being a bishop is that you can usually assume that people are interested in knowing your opinion — and most of us are interested in making our opinions known.

  • I think if it wasn’t a public act of disobedience on the part of Jenkins it certainly was a public act of stupidity. Of course people will see Obama getting a commencement speech and an honorary degree as the Notre Dame administration supporting a pro-abort pol. I am glad that Olmsted took Jenkins to the ecclesiastical woodshed, and I only regret that his language was so restrained. Jenkins isn’t a stupid man. He knows precisely what he is doing and I find it reprehensible.

  • To read the document in any other way than the reading given by Bishops D’Arcy and Olmsted is to render the document completely meaningless. I mean, was there REALLY a problem with Catholic colleges giving “awards, honors or platforms” to pro-abort politicians as a way of honoring them SPECIFICALLY FOR those pro-abort activities? Of course not! Such a reading is ludicrous Jesuitical hair-splitting.

    The only way the Bishops’ document makes any sense at all is for it to be given the quite straightforward reading the Bishops themselves seem to be giving it.

  • Hopefully Bishop D’Arcy will see the letter as an act of support from a brother bishop. As someone in the AmP comment section pointed out, there are most likely Catholics from Phoenix attending Notre Dame, so Olmsted is, if nothing else, acting in their interests as a concerned pastor.

    And although Fr. Jenkins is trying to wriggle his way around the statement on “awards, honors, or platforms,” I find his argument rather worn and tenuous. If Notre Dame were only inviting President Obama as a speaker, he might have a leg to stand on. However he is also being awarded an honorary degree that is meant to recognize his leadership. Arguably, thus far Obama’s most major acts as our new leader have been anti-life ones. I’m sure you’re familiar with what he’s done so far, so I won’t labor to make a list.

  • I always love Jay Anderson’s responses!

    1. Bishop D’Arcy’s response was weak. He’s pals with Jenkins. Who cares about his toes.

    2. Prudent to go public? Are you serious? ND’s Pres. Obortion invite was a very public F-U to the bishops.

    3. Yes, a “hair-splitting”, Jesuit type argument (I agree with Jay).


  • And I should add: I don’t really think it does to question whether a bishop is correctly parsing a USCCB document that he cites, unless his citation is just flagrantly out of line. Olmsted is, after all, a member of the USCCB. That doesn’t make his interpretation definitive, but it’s not as if he’s some lay person spouting off as to what a USCCB document means.

    If it was a bit outspoken of Bishop Olmsted, I think his crosier and miter give him the license to be so if he chooses.

  • ND’s Pres. Obortion invite was a very public F-U to the bishops.

    I think you’re exaggerating a bit.

  • Exaggerating on the “Obortion” part or the “very public F-U” part?

  • DC wrote:
    I would assume that one of the benefits of being a bishop is that you can usually assume that people are interested in knowing your opinion — and most of us are interested in making our opinions known.

    If a bishop is going to accuse a member of a religious order of public disobedience, a serious charge, it seems to me that this is more than simply offering an opinion. It seems odd to me that Bishop Olmsted felt compelled to address Fr. Jenkins so publicly, when Bishop D’Arcy had already addressed the situation quite well. If he had simply supported Bishop D’Arcy, all well and good. But instead he made a serious accusation, which is likely to damage Notre Dame’s relationship with the Church hierarchy.

    Jay wrote:
    To read the document in any other way than the reading given by Bishops D’Arcy and Olmsted is to render the document completely meaningless. I mean, was there REALLY a problem with Catholic colleges giving “awards, honors or platforms” to pro-abort politicians as a way of honoring them SPECIFICALLY FOR those pro-abort activities? Of course not! Such a reading is ludicrous Jesuitical hair-splitting.

    The charge of Jesuitical reasoning hurts on two levels Jay: 1) Our shared graduate educational background; 2) I’ve been educated (insert scare quotes as necessary) by Franciscans and Salesians, but never by the dreaded Jesuits.

    In response to your comment, I think there has been a serious problem with Catholic colleges inviting and honoring pro-abortion speakers, and that many colleges have not made it clear that they oppose the speakers views on abortion. So yes, I think the statement could plausibly be read in this manner. In this case, Fr. Jenkins has made it clear that the invitation is not an endorsement of Obama’s views on abortion and ESCR (although, of course, I wish he had not made the invitation at all).

    Regarding the Jesuitical point, the question here is whether it’s clear that Fr. Jenkins was disobedient. I don’t think it is. I think the USCCB statement is worded ambiguously, and that the ambiguity is not an accident. My recollection is that you are not shy of criticizing the USCCB, and it would hardly surprise me if the document was deliberately written this way . To cite another recent example of this phenomenon, one could drive a truck through the wiggle room in the recent Faithful Citizenship document.

    Bishop D’Arcy, as the local ordinary, has a responsibility to interpret the document, and I think his interpretation is probably the stronger one. But there is a difference between providing an interpretation as Bishop D’Arcy has done, and declaring that a priest in a religious order is publicly disobedient because he had a different interpretation than the Bishop of Phoenix when he invited the President of the United States to speak at Commencement.

    Finally, I think there is a prudential question here. Notre Dame is in a fairly precarious place as an ‘elite’ institution that is also trying to maintain its Catholic identity. In many ways these goals conflict. To the extent Fr. Jenkins and the University are not only constructively criticized (see Bishop D’Arcy’s statement), but condemned as publicly disobedient (Bishop Olmsted), this type of statement is likely to damage the University’s relationship with the hierarchy. It’s a delicate balance, and I think Bishop D’Arcy struck the perfect note; I think Bishop Olmsted, however, was somewhat unfair (because of the deficiencies in the USCCB document), as well as imprudent. And I’m not sure why the Bishop of Phoenix has special jurisdiction vis-a-vis priestly religious in Bishop D’Arcy’s diocese.

  • Btw, thanks to all commenters for the responses. I don’t have time to respond to every criticism right now, but I appreciated reading people’s thoughts.

  • “My recollection is that you are not shy of criticizing the USCCB …”

    Actually, I have tried to avoid criticizing the USCCB and I give particular leeway to the Bishops when interpreting their own documents. I give much less leeway to the dubious interpretations and justifications of University presidents with a history of coming down on the side of “engaging the culture” over faithfulness to Catholic identity.

  • Should a divorcee who has remarried (without any annulments), especially someone who is known by the public, be allowed to speak and get an award at a Catholic institution, since they are, after all, going against the morals of the Catholic Church?

    Again, the vagueness is on many levels.

  • Comparing divorce and abortion is comparing apples and rock salt. Nobody dies as a matter of course in a divorce. Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger recognized the special level of evil involved in abortion and euthanasia:

    “3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    One would think this would be clear enough even for academics that someone who promotes abortion should not be honored at catholic unversities and colleges.

  • I agree with John Henry that the statement is somewhat ambiguous. At least, I think the situation might affect whether or not having a speaker with views contrary to Catholic fundamental moral principles consititutes support for those views. If, for example, Obama had been invited to speak prior to the election, where his speaking could help him win the election and thus put his views into action, then the argument that ND is endorsing his views would be stronger.

    There’s also the ambiguity of the word “defiance,” which can mean simply contrariness, but usually suggests resistance. A pro-choice Catholic politician who has been admonished by his bishop would seem to be more defiant than a non-Catholic politician who holds the same views.

  • Even conceding the ambiguity, President Jenkins has done next to nothing to separate the award and platform from President Obama’s defiance of our fundamental moral principles. Thus far, it’s been a rhetorical tongue bath and excuse-making to the larger Catholic world. Not to put to fine a point on it, but Jenkins’ behavior has not been above board and, frankly, has been rather shabby.

  • Kyle: there’s no credible argument that Obama is unaware of Catholic moral principles on abortion and ESCR. Even the obsequious fawner Doug Kmiec says he discussed the matters with him.

    The President is Rhett Butler. He frankly doesn’t give a damn, and when it comes to brass tacks has (an admittedly elegant) contempt for them.

  • On the other AC thread, Elaine pointed out if anyone has contacted the CSC superior? Meaning since Notre Dame was founded by the Congregration of the Holy Cross. Why doesn’t somebody contact them to see if they can pull some strings?

    I’m sure someone has, just covering all our bases here.

  • That’s an interesting question Tito. I haven’t heard anything about that, although I’d be surprised if anything changed at this point.

  • Dale,

    I didn’t mean to imply that Obama isn’t aware of Catholic teaching on the life issues. My point is that he’s not Catholic, and so his holding opposing views on the life issues isn’t defiant in the way that a Catholic’s holding his views would be. Of course, one need not be Catholic in order to oppose abortion and ESCR.

  • Rush Limbaugh has been discussing Notre Dame and Obama on his show now. He is stunned that a Catholic University of Notre Dame’s stature is providing a forum to the “most anti-life President in our nation’s history”.

  • Since when is Rush Limbaugh competent in matters Catholic.

    And I am not surprised by the emotionalist rhetoric of “the most anti-life President in our nation’s history”. His is a lucrative industry of demagoguery.

  • Mark,

    While I would be more surprised if Limbaugh did not profess to be stunned because being stunned has entertainment value, I think there is a strong case for that description of President Obama, given his record on life issues (we need not recite all the details here).

  • Thank you Mr. DeFrancisis, I was waiting for someone to attack the messenger. Rush Limbaugh, thrice divorced, a former oxycotin addict, add on anything detrimental against him you wish, is here standing for Catholic truth, while Jenkins and his administration are falling all over themselves to pay homage to a man who has fought for abortion up to the time the cord is cut, and against medical assistance to those infants who survive the abortion. This is a deeply shameful moment for the Catholic Church in this country when a non-Catholic like Limbaugh stands up for Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life while Jenkins and his acolytes are doing their very best to ignore that teaching. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to respond to your comment.

  • Donald,

    I honestly was not referencing his personal life. I do not know of all the sordid details, other than his past, temporary (but understandable) prolem with addictions to pain medication.

    His show and its modus operandi, however, virtually precludes a constructive discussion which actually fosters the culture of life and an evenhanded assessment of all parties/positions involved.

    To me, he is a high stakes entertainer.

    I avoid him like I avoid Olbermann these days.

    Aditionally, you and I have differing interpretations on what the commencement address and honorary degree expresses. Let us as gentlemen respect each other’s differing interpretation of both that matter in itself and the USCCB document that is intimately related.

    Let me just end by communicating to you my utmost respect for your life long and lifewide commitment to the unborn, our society’s most vulnerable.

  • Mark, I ask this in all sincerity, as you are on the other side of this issue from me:

    How has the administration of ND taken care to ensure that the award and platform offered to the President do not suggest support for his actions which are contrary to fundamental moral principles?

  • JH,

    Who is The most “antilife president in our nation’ is a very tough thing to gauge.

    For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.

    While Obama’s stance on the legality of abortion and his recent ESCR moves are heinous, I do not know if he will rack up such numbers of deaths in which is hand is so front and central in the matter.

  • Not to be a nitnoid, but the atomic bombing wasn’t ordered by Eisenhower, but rather by Harry Truman.

  • “Is Bishop Olmsted stepping on Bishop D’Arcy’s toes by commenting on events in the latter’s diocese after Bishop D’Arcy has already addressed the matter (quite well, I might add)?”

    The good bishop is merely supporting his fellow Bishop on the matter and, thus, consolidating their position should there be any doubt concerning the wrongfulness of such an action.

    It’s not unlike how several bishops from various dioceses during the elections kept advising Catholics on how pro-life issues should be a major point of consideration when selecting a candidate.

    “Since when is Rush Limbaugh competent in matters Catholic.”

    Was this even a serious matter for consideration?

    I mean, Rush was the very same who mocked Mother Teresa, accusing her of playing to the camera and both blatantly and maliciously characterizing media coverage of her as really her ulterior agenda of taking advantage of several photo opportunities just to cheaply advertise on behalf of the Catholic church then.

    The guy’s a prick.

  • For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.

    Also, in addition to the fact it was Pres. Truman, not Pres Eisenhower, the number killed was in fact slightly under 250k — not millions.

  • Nobody dies as a matter of course in a divorce.


    I don’t know about that. I’ve heard of family law attorneys who have gotten the other spouse so angry that they have undertaken murderous actions against their former spouse and children.

    Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees. So what if it occasionally ends in disasterous results. . . blame it on the party who wasn’t your client?

    By the way, Pope John Paul did state that attorneys “should avoid being personnally involved in anything that might imply cooperation with a divorce.”

  • By the way Reagan as Governor of California signed into effect one of the most liberal divorce and abortion laws in the nation at that time. Of course he later said he regretted it, but then what else is he going to say when he is running for the Republican nomination for President in the 70’s and 80’s.

  • On the other AC thread, Elaine pointed out if anyone has contacted the CSC superior? Meaning since Notre Dame was founded by the Congregration of the Holy Cross. Why doesn’t somebody contact them to see if they can pull some strings?

    I’m sure someone has, just covering all our bases here.

    You are assuming that the decision is that of Father Jenkins alone. He is appointed not by his CSC superior as president of the university but by Notre Dame’s lay board of directors (thank you Father Ted and the Land of Lake’s Conferenc). Of course dear Father Ted when he handed the University over to laymen (to give it greater academic credibility) did put in the requirement that the President always had to be a CSC priest. No one denies that Father Ted does have his priorities and looking out for No. 1 always comes first.

  • a-man,

    Just got word that the CSC provincial completely supports Fr. Jenkin’s decision:

  • Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees.

    That’s some company you keep. However, I find it hard to believe. Divorce is evil. It does great violence to the souls of everyone involved. From my experience though, lawyers recognize that more than most (even secular minded lawyers). Contrary to your characterization, lawyers generally want to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. It’s usually the clients that keep the flames fueled while the lawyers are trying to bring some reason to the process even as they advocate for their client. Hmm, now I’m considering the adjective you used, “successful”. Maybe you can stand firm on your comment as I will stand on mine. We may just have a different idea of what it means to be successful.

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  • “Don:

    I don’t know about that. I’ve heard of family law attorneys who have gotten the other spouse so angry that they have undertaken murderous actions against their former spouse and children.

    Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees. So what if it occasionally ends in disasterous results. . . blame it on the party who wasn’t your client?”

    Some lawyers can be jerks, no doubt about that. Most lawyers in divorce cases, including those who specialize in them in my experience, do their best to get the parties to compromise or at least try to be civil. Lawyers tend to be fairly busy, and the last thing they want to do is field anguished phone calls from a client in a contentious divorce or be constantly running back to court on minor matters that should be easily resolved by negotiation. For every divorce I have seen where the personality of the attorney is a problem in the case, I have seen 10 where one or both of the parties simply want to go to war. Most divorces are not like that however. Usually after some preliminary skirmishing in court an agreement is worked out fairly quickly. The hotly contested divorce from start to finish does happen of course but it is far from the norm.

    “By the way, Pope John Paul did state that attorneys “should avoid being personnally involved in anything that might imply cooperation with a divorce.””

    He then later said that attorneys might be involved if they were attempting to resolve the case to the benefit of the children involved in a custody proceeding.

    He also said that attorneys should look for effective measures that favour marriage, above all mediation and conciliation. The first question I ask anyone seeking my counsel in a divorce case is if mediation could save the marriage. They almost always say no. If clients ask my opinion I always say counseling should be attempted prior to a divorce action if there is any hope at all of avoiding a marriage. I also tell them that I do not believe in divorce and they might do better with a counsel with views different from mine.

    Like most attorneys I find divorce actions depressing and I have deliberately kept them a very small portion of my practice. Often times I enter a case post-dissolution where there is an issue of enforcement of child support, visitation or an attempt to modify child custody.

    However even more depressing are paternity cases where the family tie is never formed to begin with. When I hung out my shingle in 82 paternity cases were rare, at least in central Illinois, now they are commonplace. Of course with a 40% illegitimacy rate one would expect that. Quite a few handbaskets on their way to Hell these days.

  • In regard to Reagan and the California abortion law, he always regarded it as his biggest mistake:

    “In May 1967, the Therapeutic Abortion Bill began to take shape. It was a measure to allow pregnant women to terminate embryos prejudicial to their “physical or mental health.” Reagan had to admit that he agreed with “the moral principle of self-defense.” If 100,000 California women were desperate enough to undergo illegal abortions every year, he could at least make it safer for some of them.
    He signed it into law. Only as abortion became an extension of welfare, would he wish he had paid more head to the bill’s manipulative language. The very word “Therapeutic” was a medical euphemism, sanitizing essentially bloody procedures. It defined “mental health” as at-risk if a pregnant teen went out and smashed windows. In common with the more liberal laws it was to spawn at state and federal levels, the Act ignored the feelings of fathers.

    Reagan was left with a sense of guilt. “If there is a question as to whether there is life or death, the doubt should be resolved in favor of life.”

    Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.351-352 May 1, 1967”

    Here is an article which Reagan wrote for the Human Life Review in 1983:

    “Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.”

  • “I mean, Rush was the very same who mocked Mother Teresa, accusing her of playing to the camera and both blatantly and maliciously characterizing media coverage of her as really her ulterior agenda of taking advantage of several photo opportunities just to cheaply advertise on behalf of the Catholic church then.”

    Unless you have some quotes e. I believe you are probably confusing Rush with Christopher Hitchens. I can recall Rush speaking very highly of her on his radio show on several occasions.

  • “For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.”

    As Dale and Darwin note, Mr. DeFrancisis, the President was Truman, not Eisenhower. Eisenhower was Supreme Commander of the Anglo-American forces in Europe. He had no role in the war in the Pacific. In his memoirs he contended that at the time he thought the bombs were unnecessary, but he also stated that all of his attention was focused on Europe and that he was unfamiliar with the war being waged against Japan other than as an observer from the sidelines.

    “Let me just end by communicating to you my utmost respect for your life long and lifewide commitment to the unborn, our society’s most vulnerable.”

    A handsome statement Mr. DeFrancisis which I very much appreciate. I pray that some day abortion will no longer be a political issue because we will look at it with the same abhorence engendered when we now recalll slavery. I do not know if I will live to see that day, but it will come.

  • I certainly do think it is an act of public disobedience to the Bishops to not only invite the President to speak but to give him an award on top of it – and it is a slap in the face to all Catholics who have built the College up through the years. As a Catholic I expect any institution purporting to be Catholic to be Catholic and uphold the Church’s teachings. That is basic to any group in society that has rules and regulations to be followed. Every Catholic knows the Church’s stand on abortion. Why do people belong to the Catholic Church if they dissent from her teachings? The door is open for them to walk out if don’t like anything the Church teaches. They are not bound to stay. Christ Himself said to take the narrow path. He kicked the money lenders out of the temple. He didn’t mince His words. It’s high time Catholics shook themselves up and realise how morally lax we have become.

AIG Bonus Recipient Quits via NY Times Editorial

Thursday, March 26, AD 2009

Over the last week the news cycle has been enjoying a Five Minutes of Hate over the bonuses being given out to a number of individuals in the AIG Financial Product division, with some going to so far as to say that at a minimum they should all get jail time, and since that’s not possible they should see all their earnings taxed away.  Given the, “our problems are all the result of Wall Street greed” narrative which many have applied to our current financial crisis, and that as fallen human beings we are all prone to envy, this can hardly be surprising.

For those wanting to know about the reality behind the fracas, this editorial in yesterday’s New York Times is illuminating.  It is an open resignation letter from Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit (and a recipient of one of the infamous bonuses), to AIG’s CEO.

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3 Responses to AIG Bonus Recipient Quits via NY Times Editorial

  • It’s truly fascinating to see how many intelligent people let themselves be governed by their passions.

  • It is also a horror to begin the tar and feather process because they got what was coming to them. Their bonuses, up to February 11, 2009, were guaranteed under Porkapalooza. Inserted there by….. surprise….. Christopher Dodd, the public official most responsible for This Mess. Fun to find out how his 2010 fortunes for re-election may be diminishing. This just in- Pat Toomay- Catholic Conservative Pro-Life- has sizable lead over the tortured Arlen Specter in preliminary GOP Senatorial polls. I love the smell of sudden and convulsive change.

  • My very first reaction when this story broke was, “I wonder how many of these people receiving bonuses had nothing to do with the transactions in question?” Realistically, probably 95% of the employees at AIG are about as culpable for this mess as are you or I.

39 Responses to Yeah, But When Does He Burn Persepolis?

  • What’s the Archbishop doing with this honor of President Obama? He must be pro-abortion.

  • BTW, that was sarcasm, in case people take my quote out of context.

  • Nah, probably just a sycophantic suck up. Although I would note this letter from Father Seraphim Bell to the Archbishop:

    The Archbishop has also come under attack in pro-life Orthodox circles for having time to participate in Obama the Great’s inauguration, but not in attending the March for Life.

    Here is a good statement of the position of the Orthodox Church in America on abortion, and a sound pro-life position it is:

  • The Good Archbishop got a little carried away. He clearly did not get the memo- It’s Safe to Criticize Him Now. Even Elinor Clift- the darling, daffy, veteran bleeding heart representative on The McLaughlin Group- has criticized Dear Leader in print. Might be a preview of Father Jenkins’ introductory speech May 17. Then again, anti-Obama address petition website already has more than 150000 signatures and rising. Now that is noble.

  • Over at Vox Nova, Henry (who doesn’t allow me to comment) is up to his usual dissembling in claiming that Gerald Campbell isn’t really “pro-choice.” Why?

    His point is that at this point in time, the United States just can’t immediately go from where we are to the forceful laws against abortion; to do so would do violence to the system and indeed requires a tyrannical use of force (Tolkien connection: why Galadriel and Gandalf avoid the Ring, though they would do good). In this way he has said the thing is to prepare the people to get them against abortion themselves, which is better; it is better to have no laws and no abortion and laws with abortion constantly going on despite the laws (which he believes would happen).

    If you’re opposed to having the law deal with abortion, then you’re pro-choice. Period. Moreover, Gerald is doing absolutely nothing to “prepare the people” to be ready (at some unspecified future date) to ban or restrict abortion. To the contrary, all of his intellectual efforts are dedicated to arguing that it would be “insane” to outlaw abortion, that the pro-choice view is “reasonable and ethically defensible,” and even that the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity” requires leaving the abortion choice with the individual woman. Face it, Henry: Gerald is avidly pro-choice and does his best to convince other people to agree with that position — not to think that abortion is wrong.

  • Gee, the Galadriel/Gandalf analogy doesn’t seem to me to fit with the topic of choice. It would, however, be an excellent guidepost for certain persons in power, if applied to those “tyranny of the majority” tendencies generally.

  • S.B.,

    If Donald feels differently that’s fine, but I don’t think it’s necessary/appropriate to bring that topic up on this thread.

  • First they celebrate Karl Marx, then they have many bloggers that voted for Obama. Now they have a pro-choicer on their roll.

    For some reason this doesn’t surprise me anymore.

    Vox Nova is officially not a Catholic blog. They are pretty much leading Catholics into heresy.

  • Come on, now, S.B. I’m sure Mr. Campbell would never have an abortion himself, so he’s got that in his favor.

  • OK, back to the topic at hand.

    Here’s hoping the new Alexander runs into another Diogenes.

  • Amen Dale.

    I always keep reminding myself that Jesus promised Peter that the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against the Church. That phrase alone makes me sleep good at night, especially this past election.

  • I’m sort of appauled that someone would think that a comparison to Alexander the Great was a compliment. I’m guessing that the archbishop didn’t mean to accuse him of being a psychopath with delusions of godhood, but that would seem to be the only meaning one could have in such a statement.

  • And the way some contributors go after shepherds of the Church,

    You mean when certain contributors attack people like Bishop Chaput for expressing their viewpoints.

    Oh, wait, that’s Vox Nova. My bad.

    But yes, this thread is getting mighty off the rails. Sorry for my contribution to that development.

  • Tito,


  • Mark,

    Threats are not taken lightly here.

    One more from you and you’ll be in moderation from here on out.


  • Tito,

    I did not threaten you.

    I simply referred to your standing with your maker, in your throwing false accusations at me.

  • Mark,


    I appreciate that.

  • Now if you could please correct your false charge that I somehow lied here, I would appreciate that.

  • Tito,

    I guess you are not a man enough to admit your wrongs, I see. I’ll let your childish “Vox Nova groupie” swipe go too, seeing how you are.

    This place at many times reminds me of an 8th grade lunch table, with its petty tribalism.

  • My advice to everyone: Chill.

    Vox Nova isn’t the topic here, and I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from an extended rivalry between the venues.

  • Your blog’s founder cannot seem to chill himself on the matter, and that’s the enduring problem.

    Witness his first salvo in this thread.

  • My two cents (which is admittedly worth considerably less due to the Obama financial policy) I think the editors of this blog should be a little more liberal on their commenting policy. We’re big boys and girls and can read through the nastiness and pettiness. By deleting people’s comments (not talking about profanity or severe personal attacks, especially to disinterested parties) it actually makes the offending party look better and the censor look worse.

    Personally, I hate deletions like that. I’ve witnessed time and time again solid (and respectful) arguments deleted on VN and the only reason I can think is that the censor couldn’t deal with it. It looks bad – very bad. There’s a few people I can think of off the top of my head that post ad hominem attacks or make snide remarks instead of making reasoned arguments. There’s no sense deleting those because the readers will see them for what they are. Why increase the frustration all around? I have a lot of respect for the contributors here due to your ability to reason and argue appropriately, deleting hinders that impression.

    Again, just my .7895 cents…

  • Thank you for your comments Rick. As you might expect, there is some diversity of opinion among contributors here on this topic, and I think you’ll see that reflected on different contributor’s threads. In broad terms, I lean towards your position, but we’ve delegated comment moderation to each contributor for their threads.

  • Understood, Mark, and he’s included in my “chill” advice.

    I share some of his concerns about Vox Nova. (For instance it strikes me that some members there treat the now-ex-Catholic Gerald Naus as a sort of trophy head on the wall.) But I don’t think consistenly calling into question another blog’s Catholicity is helpful, even if its arguably true in some cases.

  • Rick,


    For example, the founder’s claiming that a blog that engages with culture and politics is not Catholic or is Marxist, simply because they have a portrait of Karl Marx alongside 20 some other influential figures on their mast–that gives me great respect for the contributors here, in their ability to reason and argue appropriately!

    And this level of astute and sharp reasoning goes on here nearly day in and day out.

    I am virtually astounded by its sheer learnedness.

    I mean, the Cardinal Egan piece was a work of profound thoughtfulness, charity and understanding of the complex relations between Catholicism and our ever changing American culture, as it exists in the Middle Eastern states. If I were Cardinal Egan, I would love to have been the recipient of that kind of treatment, wouldn’t you?

    And did you see the discussion that the O’Malley piece instigated. The cited “prominent Boston Catholic Blogger”, Carol McKinley, actually joined in the thread discussion, really showing us her heartening intelligence and Christian regard for others. The original writer really did his homework.

    Do not you just love the shepherds of the Church and the strong support and benefit of the doubt they receive here?

    In light of the above, I have chosen to contribute mostlyonly whenever my amazement at such things is so great that I feel something simply must be said.

  • My 3 cents. Blogs have the choice between pre-moderation and post-moderation. People always complain about censorship in the case of post-moderation because they can see it whereas in pro-moderation no one ever knows what’s deleted except the commenter. Of course every comment deleted is always because the blog author is afraid to address the point, not matter how inanely argued by the ‘victim.’ When you get to a certain point, say over 500 readers, you can’t have everyone making their own rules because then your forum just gets trashed by people that have their own agendas and could care less about you. Since this is an area I’ve given a lot of thought, I thought I would offer my opinion to you.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for crafting a thoughtful reply. However, I wasn’t casting judgment on Tito’s or any other contributor’s views or whether they should be deemed credible. I just think deletions without grave reason should be avoided. Frankly, I find many of your comments to be problematic in that they aren’t designed to engage or offer a reasoned argument. They’re too often just throwing bombs. I can see why someone would just delete it, but IMO, it does greater justice to leave it stand and show for it for what it is. So in those cases, you might actual be a beneficiary of having your comment deleted.

  • Rick,

    Good points.


    Your failure to offer basic arguments to almost any reasoned discussion normally brings you to ad hominems and the personal attacks on others.

    If you really are Catholic, then you should act like one. Your lack of charity exemplifies the major point, if not one of the major points, on Kos Nova, of the gutter level of discourse that is common among liberals like yourself.

    When unable to defend abortion, you go for the personal attacks and ad hominems.

  • Tito,

    I disagree, and I wish you had heeded Darwin’s suggestion to ‘chill’. Mark frequently does make interesting comments. I think there is a tension between the standard you demand from Mark (no personal attacks), and how you treat Mark.

    As far as I know, Mark has not voiced support for abortion; he has, rather, urged more charity and circumspection when criticizing bishops, and expressed a dislike for harsh rhetoric on the subject. I think that this is a question of temperament and approach, and I do not think it’s fair to criticize Mark in this manner (particularly when many of his responses have been deleted).

    As to Vox Nova, everyone has an opinion, but it’s not very consistent to refer to it as ‘Kos Nova’ and say it has a ‘gutter level of discourse,’ then turn around and claim it’s their lack of charity that bothers you. It is not charitable to describe others in that manner, and I think it harms you more than the target. As others have said, just my two cents.

  • John Henry,

    I respectfully disagree with your opinion(s).

  • I was away all day in court. I appreciate all the comments. In regard to Vox Nova, or any other blog for that matter, I would request that in my threads controversies that may be underway at other blogs not be mentioned unless it is directly relevant to the issues raised in the post. In this thread the discussion seems to have gotten rather far afield. Stay polite and keep on point.

  • I was away all day in court.

    Maybe you should spend a little less time in court and little more time blogging then!


  • Rick, I usually have more fun blogging, but luxuries like shelter and eating keep me in court!

  • Given the quality and quantity of Donald’s posts, I sometimes wonder how much time he has for court. 😉

  • I would blush John Henry but for my stoic Cherokee ancestry!

  • Donald,

    I agree with your statements.

    It shouldn’t happen again.

    I hope you had a good day in court though!

  • Any day I get paid for my services Tito is a good day in court. My clients seemed happy at the end so I guess they thought it was a good day also.

    No problem in regard to the thread. I appreciate your efforts to maintain the standards of decorum that I would have enforced if I had been present.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-25-2009

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. The great Cardinal Pell offered his thoughts on the future of liturgical development by stating that ad orientem will be mandatory so as to move away the priest as the center of worship back to Jesus Himself, ie, both the priest and the congregation should be facing towards God.  In addition, when the priest turns away towards the congregation, there should be a crucifix in between he and the congregation so as to maintain the center of worship God and not the priest.  What a wonderful and great Cardinal that Australia has!  Let us pray for more such strong leaders of the Church worldwide and especially here in America.  Ora pro nobis!

For the article click here.

2. Sister Janet Ferns, a nun who has worked in Nigeria and Zambia, has explained what most condoms are used for by the locals in Africa… to fish with.

For the link click here.

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One Response to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-25-2009

Red Ink

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009


A look at the federal budget since 2000, with projections, for what little they are worth, by the White House and the Congressional Budget Office to 2019.  By CBO estimates last week, the budget deficits between now and 2019 would total $9, 300, 000, 000, 000.00.  The entire cost of WW2 for the US in 2008 dollars was 3.6 trillion.  This year the budget deficit will total 13% of our gross domestic product.  This isn’t economic policy, it is lunacy.  These type of deficits are completely unsustainable, and we are running towards national bankruptcy.  It is impossible to borrow these type of funds from abroad.  We will simply create the funds out of thin air.  The long term impact on our children and their children can be easily imagined.  As the Heritage Foundation points out, this is a completely bi-partisan disaster.  Politicians have acted like teen-agers with stolen credit cards for far too long.  However, this will stop.  It will stop either by voters throwing out of office the fiscally irresponsible, or, much more likely in my estimation, the economy will simply hit a brick wall.  This will not, cannot, go on.  How it is stopped is up to us.

Update I:  The President of the EU slams current US economic policy as a road to hell.  I never thought I would live to see the day when a President of the EU would have more economic sense than a President of the US.

UpdateII:  Hattip to Instapundit.  A sign of things to come.  Stocks slide after a lack-lustre sale of T bills and notes: 

“Bond prices fell after the auction of $34 billion in 5-year Treasury notes. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, jumped to 2.77 percent from 2.71 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill rose to 0.19 percent from 0.17 percent Tuesday.

Investors gave an unexpectedly cool response to the note sale just a day after a $40 billion auction of 2-year notes suggested strong demand. The government is running up huge deficits in order to fund an array of plans to provide stimulus to the economy and support to the ailing financial system. Any suggestion that demand for U.S. government debt is weakening is a negative for stocks, simply because Wall Street has been relying so heavily on the government’s rescue plans.

The surge of worry over the debt auction wiped out the market’s early optimism in response to durable goods and home sales data.”

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9 Responses to Red Ink

Father of the United States Navy

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009


1745 was a busy year in the history of the misnamed British Isles, with Bonnie Prince Charlie doing his best to end the reign of the Hanover Dynasty in England, so I guess it is excusable that no note was taken of the birth date of John Barry in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland.  During his childhood John received, along with all the other excellent reasons given to Irish Catholics over the centuries to love Britannia, good reason to look askance at the British when his father was evicted from his poor little farm by their British landlord, and the family went to live in the village of Rosslare.

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3 Responses to Father of the United States Navy

The Bishop Speaks

Tuesday, March 24, AD 2009


Hattip to Dale Price.  Bishop John M. D’Arcy has made his statement:

“Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame
graduation, receiving honorary law degree

March 24, 2009

On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.

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14 Responses to The Bishop Speaks

  • The good bishop chose his words carefully and eloquently. He is a true standard bearer of upholding Catholic teaching. This is in stark contrast to the depravity and lack of spine that Father John Jenkins exhibits. And for what?

    For Wales.

  • “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

    This being granted the commencement address and degree would not in themselves suggest support for Obama’s (anti-life) actions.

    The bishop assumes a comma after “platforms” that is not in the quoted sentence.

  • Mark,

    I could swear that your middle name is Webster in your proficiency in catching grammatical errors. But I wouldn’t be surprised if your middle name is Webster, since now Webster’s dictionary endorses same-sex marriage with their redefinition of ‘marriage’.

  • Tito,

    Now, now…


    If even Homer nods, I’m sure it’s at least as possible that the USCCB missed a comma as that this particular member of the USCCB doesn’t understand the difference between a descriptive and a restrictive clause.

    As has been emphasized for other reasons recently, bishops are intended to be our shepherds and we should respect their decisions in executing their teaching office. (Though as with anything, we may at times find ourselves in disagreement with them.) Given that Bishop D’Arcy has been dealing with Notre Dame for some time, and is a member of the USCCB and thus can be assumed to have some understanding of what they meant by that phrase, I would think we should at least give his judgment in this situation a fair amount of weight.

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  • Further, even though it is the case that there is no comma I’d be curious to know what is covered by the presumably non-empty set “awards, honors or platforms that do not suggest support for their actions.”

    To a more-important grammatical point, what does “for their actions” mean? In a certain sense, that question is stupid: they’re the things a person does. Obviously.

    But what I’m getting at is “how does one determine which of ‘their actions’ fairly characterize a person” and therefore (most relevant to this matter) “what it can mean to give, specifically, an honorary degree and a commencement invitation to any Person X.”

    The Church teaches that no man is completely evil. And none are without sin. Therefore, by definition, any honor to anybody will involve honoring a person who has done a mixture of good or bad things. It’s tough to think offhand of the good things Osama bin Laden or Charles Manson has done, but they do exist. Now, nobody would seriously argue that OBL or Manson is worthy of any honor at a serious institution because they are mass murderers, despite the fact that on all but a handful of days of their lives, neither man has killed (fewer than five in Manson’s case, we know to a moral certainty; and possibly never in OBL’s case, if we mean “personally kill”). Nevertheless, we feel comfortable calling them “murderers,” characterizing them that way, at least for the purpose of determining their honor-worthiness (or jail-worthiness or kill-worthiness).

    Further, there is the issue of the specific award and specific purposes of a campus visit. Consider as a potential parallel, this article in the New Republic about the great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who apparently supported his country’s invasion of Georgia and plans to conduct a concert of Russian music in that part of Georgia that the Kremlin still controls. Prescind from that specific event though. Would anything think if Notre Dame were to invite Gergiev to put on a Tchaikovsky opera or a Prokofiev cantata or suites, that it was (1) endorsing Gergiev the man in a general way (and therefore in principle everything about him), or (2) honoring Gergiev the conductor and putting on a specific event that was about the things being honored.

    So to bring this back to Obama, this is not a specified honor on some other point that allows us to dismiss his pro-abortion record. As a contrary example, I wouldn’t have a problem, for example, with Julianne Moore or Glenn Close or some other actress with a history of pro-abortion statements or activism being feted at a campus film festival or leading an actors workshop or speaking to drama or RTF students or performing in a play, etc. To be fair, Obama is not getting specified kudos for his great work on life issues (though more on that below).

    But a commencement speech is a generalized honor, to the whole graduation class, and it’s also the highest-profile honor a university can offer. It’s also essentially a monolog by that person, rather than either a dialog or a discussion or a work. It’s also open-ended in its subject matter, and to the extent there are expectations about its subject, it will be about life as a whole, as the graduates move from one stage of life to another. So a commencement speech, by its very genericness and one-sidedness, is, I think necessarily a general endorsement of the person as a whole in a way that speaking on a specified topic or doing a specific task need not be. Therefore, we get to the question of whether a general endorsement of Obama is possible for a Catholic institution. Obviously, the issue of “how do you characterize ‘their actions’ in the USCCB doc” is not as clear cut in Obama’s case as with Osama bin Laden or Charles Manson, whose best-known public achievements that brought them fame were entirely bad ones.

    But ask yourself … what are Obama’s achievements? They are primarily being elected, to the presidency and earlier to lesser offices, which is hardly a particularly good thing, in itself, separate from what he does or did with the political power thus gained. It needs no saying that breaking the White House color barrier is a very good thing. But it’s hard to see, other than that, what makes Obama’s political record honor-worthy. And even harder to see what else he has, even in principle, worth honoring. It all has to stand or fall on his votes and political rhetoric.

    And on abortion, he is simply beyond abominable. Even before becoming president, there was his votes on partial-birth abortion and on the Born-Alive bill, his lying about the Born-Alive bill and calling others liars, his rhetorical support and earlier sponsorship of FOCA, and rhetoric like “above my pay grade” and “punished with a child.” In the 60-some days since becoming president, he has thrice acted on life issues and every time done bad: the Mexico City policy on funding abortion overseas, government funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and ordering a weakening of the conscience clause. Every opportunity to dis’ pro-lifers, he has taken.

    So “can you honor a whole person when his actions in his principal field of achievement are this bad, from the perspective of the Church” (and frankly of right reason). Now to be sure, those abortion things aren’t Obama’s only political acts. Bigger fans of him than I no doubt can name them. But I think it’s fair to define him as a politician that way, simply because abortion is not one issue among many. Rather, as the US Church has said repeatedly, that the defining issues of current US politics are abortion and the other life issues (ESCR, euthanasia — oh, BTW, does anyone even remember that Obama called his vote to stop the Schiavo murder his greatest mistake). Other issues besides life exist, they don’t “not matter,” but they can never override wrong choices on life. Here is the USCCB (skip to section 23):

    But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation.

    Given that stated centrality of abortion and euthanasia, given that Obama is a politician whose only achievements are in this very field (public votes and rhetoric), and given how awful, hard-to-imagine-how-they-could-be-worse his votes and rhetoric in this central field are — I think it quite clear that giving *this* honor to *this* man does suggest support, or at least indifference (which would be unacceptable for its own reasons), for his actions on abortion.

    There is one other point, a smaller one that tends to get swallowed up. Obama is getting an honorary JD, a law degree. That’s a specific honor that has specific meaning to competence in a specific field. And one that Obama has even cited as giving him expertise to act against life (if you look at the link above, he calls his recanted Schiavo vote something that “as a constitutional law professor, I knew better”). Given that Obama has defended Roe vs. Wade and the “right to privacy” and said de-facto that as president he would only appoint pro-Roe judges, then it seems to me that to grant him an honorary JD (rather than an honorary PhD is chemistry, say) is to honor his legal thought, and thus indirectly to honor the jurisprudence that has given us 45 million abortions since 1973.

  • Also … (phew) … here’s the other grammar point.

    The sentence is phrased wrong whether or not its intended meaning is restrictive or descriptive, because the clause isn’t introduced with “that.”

    In other words, if the USCCB had said “… awards, honors or platforms that would suggest…” then clearly some such honors do suggest support and some don’t; the latter are permitted, the former are not.

    Or if the USCCB had said “… awards, honors or platforms, which would suggest…” then equally clearly all such honors suggest support and all are barred.

    As it’s written, with no comma and “which” … impossible to say from grammar.

  • Let’s be clear: abortion is the murder of children, probably the worst moral offense there is. If you don’t believe that, you’re out of line with the Church and you should not be receiving communion. If you do believe that children are being murdered by abortion than you should be outraged by those who are performing the abortions and those who create laws that promote, support, or permit it. If you are outraged by those people you should not bestow honors upon them (or vote for them). There are many things you can do with them: engage them in dialogue, work with them on issues of agreement, etc. But you should not honor them! (respect is different than honor) You should not let yourself or your institution be used by them to win a swing state!
    Any argument to the contrary is mere equivocation.

  • What Courage Man said. Other than the matter of the subordinating conjunction, of which my old Warriner’s grammar states that it mox nix as long as you’re referring to things and not people.

    If we’re going to make issue of commas, from where I’m reading it makes little diff:

    “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” indicates that those (and presumably only those) items which would suggest support should not be given them.

    “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms, which would suggest support for their actions,” indicates that all items on the list would suggest support and should therefore not be given them.

    One could argue, I suppose, that the specific honor and platform being given the President do not indicate support, but one would be hard pressed to make that case.

  • I would say bravo to His Eminence and do. But I could also say bravo for celebrating Mass this morning. Or visiting a sick grandma at the hospital. Part of his gig to stand up for official Catholic teaching. Clearly he is peeved that Father Jenkins only told him of the invitation before the glitzy news conference to an adoring MSM. Not going well for Johnny. Alums in a tizzy. Large percentage of the younguns in uproar, too. A gag me with a spoon moment in which he hoped the invitation would lead to ‘positive engagement.” A phrase designed to replace the old warhorse ‘dialogue.’ Earth to Johnny- you don’t have to out-Hesburgh Father Hesburgh. You don’t have to be America’s Open-Minded Promient Priest. Just gently rescind offer and move on.

  • I was disappointed that Bishop D’Arcy encouraged Ambassador Glendon to receive her Medal. The juxtaposition of the invitations to Obama and Glendon actually furthers the impression of a political equivalency btween the two.

  • For days all the attention has been on what Bishop D’Arcy was going to do. However, Notre Dame was founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross — not the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend — and I presume they still run the place, or have some kind of governance over it. Father Jenkins, in his priestly capacity, answers to their superior general (or whatever the head honcho’s title is), not to Bishop D’Arcy. So has anyone been writing letters, e-mails, etc. to the CSC superior about this? I would think he’d have a little more pull here.

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Obama's "Ban on Cloning"

Tuesday, March 24, AD 2009

As arguments raged over Obama’s executive order to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research a few weeks ago, the administration’s pro-life defenders emphasized that this was only a small incremental step beyond the Bush administration policy and that the Obama administration would be very careful in examining the ethical issues and most especially would not allow the production of cloned embryos.

The problem is that, as shown by an extended debate between Doug Kmiec and Robert P. George on the US News “God & Country” blog, current policy far from banning cloning, will encourage it. (HT: Mary Meets Dolly, one of the best resources for serious Catholics on genetics related ethical and scientific issues.)

Obama’s statement was:

And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.

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5 Responses to Obama's "Ban on Cloning"

  • Here is the thing; even without ESCR you will have issues of cloning involved with non-ESCR. I think most people neglect that. Indeed, I still find normal stem cell (non-embryonic) to be morally questionable, and we are going too far too quick without reasoning it out.

    Moreover, since both Obama and McCain supported ESCR, it is clear this is a cultural issue, and not just partisan. I think we need to fix the culture, and maybe the candidates will change because of it, don’t you?

  • Here is the thing; even without ESCR you will have issues of cloning involved with non-ESCR. I think most people neglect that. Indeed, I still find normal stem cell (non-embryonic) to be morally questionable, and we are going too far too quick without reasoning it out.

    Actually, to my knowledge, non-embryonic stem cell research does not involve cloning. Cloning is specifically the creation of a new embryo (a new human being) with DNA matching that of another human being by transfering the DNA of the “parent” human being into a fertilized egg cell. The non-embryonic stem cell methodologies out there involve taking stem cells extracting from a living person and culturing those stem cells so that they grow on their own. No egg is used, and no embryo is created.

    Moreover, since both Obama and McCain supported ESCR, it is clear this is a cultural issue, and not just partisan. I think we need to fix the culture, and maybe the candidates will change because of it, don’t you?

    They did both support ESCR to an extent, and that was a very grave problem with both candidates. However, to my knowledge, McCain did not support embryo creation via cloning/SCNT, while Obama supports it. Since the use of cloning allows the creation of large numbers of human embryos with the express purpose of destroying them through use, I think it’s fair to consider Obama’s position on this worse even though McCain’s was bad.

    I do strongly agree that we need to change the culture on this issue, which is why I think it’s important that knowledgeable voices make it clear that SCNT/”theraputic cloning” is in fact cloning, and that we should at a purely humanistic level find the production of human beings for research and “spare parts” to be an offense against human dignity. That is why this should be an important teaching moment, and why I think Robert P. George’s contribution in the linked exchange on a major secular news site was of great help, while Kmiec’s dissembling was clearly not.

  • Obama on Embryonic Stem Cell Research & Cloning (from Mirror of Justice):

    1. Was an original sponsor of the bill to overturn President Bush’s funding policy (

    2. Was a co-sponsor of the misleadingly named “Human Cloning Ban Act of 2005,” which, if passed, would have protected cloning-for-biomedical research, and would have required the destruction of all human embryos created by cloning, on pain of federal criminal law (

    3. As a member of the Illinois General Assemby, he voted against a ban on all forms of human cloning ( ).

    4. Most shocking, he voted against a bill in the United States Senate that would have authorized increased funding for recently developed forms of stem cell research that do not require the use and destruction of human embryos, despite the fact that such research has captured the imagination of the scientific community both for its efficacy and moral neutrality, and despite the fact that the bill in no way precluded funding for embryo destructive research ( ).

  • The 2005 movie, The Island is about this very thing, creating human clones for spare parts. Scary stuff, but a great movie.

  • Henry K.,

    normal stem cell (non-embryonic) to be morally questionable

    how so? The Church seems to be supportive of this adult stem cell therapies.

The Bishop and the President

Monday, March 23, AD 2009


Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is planning to release a statement tomorrow, March 24, on the intention of Notre Dame to pay homage to Obama on May 17, 2009.  Assuming that the Bishop condemns the visit this would not be his first clash with the powers that be at Notre Dame.  On February 24, 2004 he condemned the annual presentation at Notre Dame of the Vagina Monologues.  Notre Dame ignored him, and, under President Jenkins, the department sponsored Vagina Monologues performances continue, with his about face on that issue indicating Jenkins’ complete lack of willingness to defend Catholic teaching and morality.  On  April 30, 2006 and again on March 2008, Bishop D’Arcy released statements about the ongoing performances of the Vagina Monologues, highlighting his intense disagreement with Jenkins.    The Bishop has also condemned the “Queer Film Festival” sponsored by Notre Dame.

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20 Responses to The Bishop and the President

  • This case is akin to that of our American Catholic politicians who consistently ignore Church teaching, our bishops, and most recently (in Madame Pelosi’s case) our pope.
    Unless God changes their hearts, nothing will happen until the bishops start laying down excommunications, or in this case revoke ND’s Catholic affiliation.

  • I’m sure it will be deleted at some point, but why does this idiot troll keep posting these comments on this website? Is this some sort of Hot Air offshoot that I am not aware of?

  • Because you are a bigot Jim as amply demonstrated by your obsession with attacking the Catholic Church. I have deleted your comment as I will delete any comments of yours that appear in future in any of my threads.

  • Correct Paul. Follow this link please and you will see what has Jim up in arms:

  • Okay, now that you’ve deleted jim’s comment, I hope Blue Shoe doesn’t think I am calling him a troll 🙂

  • In regard to jim, I shouldn’t allow myself to be drawn off topic, but this is just one of many anti-Catholic comments that he posted at Hot Air:

    “If God had thought abortion was murder, then why didn’t He say so more clearly in the Bible? He apparently thought it was significant enough in the Old Testament to tell people what types of clothes they could wear and what types of food they could eat, yet no explicit mention of abortion?

    As to you Orthodox Catholics, if you don’t like what’s going on in the US, why don’t you move to Vatican City?

    jim m on February 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM”

    Needless to say, I have no intention of providing a platform to a person of this stripe.

  • And Sydney is right. Every HA comment thread that alludes to the Church in some way always seems to draw some anti-Catholic kook. I’ve recently registered to comment there, but it’s hard to dig through the morass on such a highly trafficked site.

  • In addition to being a bigot Jim you are dense. As I stated earlier I will delete all of your comments in my threads, just as I deleted your latest musing. I will not give you a forum to vent your hatred of the Catholic Church.

  • I’m a lawyer too Jim, and even a bad attorney should know that you cannot libel or defame a pseudonym. Your threat is as meaningless as your bigotry against my Faith is repulsive, and your comment is deleted.

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  • Thank you Dale for sharing that link. You and Donald are just as sensitive to this issue as I am and I appreciate your proclivity in sharing this information in a timely fashion.

    The best we can do as Catholics outside of prayer is to disseminate this information as quickly as possible to inform Catholics everywhere of the culpability that the University of Notre Dame, in specific, Father John Jenkins, shares in endorsing the slaughter of innocents.

  • My pleasure. Thanks for the hat-tip.

  • …of the culpability that the University of Notre Dame, in specific, Father John Jenkins, shares in endorsing the slaughter of innocents….

    Fr. Jenkins has made no such endorsement. Tito veers toward calumny again.

  • You are correct Mr. DeFrancisis, I think the sentence would better read as follows: “shares in honoring a politician who has fought to keep legal the slaughter of innocents.”

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you Donald.

    You wrote exactly what I was attempting to convey.

    Glad to see that Mark DeFrancisis is astute to catch that, but it fails me to comprehend why he is incapable of catching the errors of Father Jenkins in inviting a pro-abortion president. Or condemn President Obama’s policies of promoting abortion on demand. Or ever condemning any action that is unCatholic.

    Instead he wriggles in his dungarees reading through various pro-life and pro-Catholic websites trying to find anything that would undermine the Catholic message to relieve his anxiety that there are people that love their faith and actually stand up for their beliefs in God and His Church.


    One can only dream of having a warrior such as Mark on the side of good, rather than an enabler of excuses and dissent.

  • Just don’t forget, Christ has come to save President Obama. Does his work to save Obama mean he supports him? Obviously not. Yet, he worked for his salvation despite what Obama has, and will, do.

  • Indeed He has Mr. Karlson, and I hope He succeeds.

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Fraud, Folly or Probability

Monday, March 23, AD 2009

As the government continues to pump money into AIG, the foundering insurance giant which found itself at the center of the real estate and financial crashes, I’ve seen increasing numbers of commentators demand to know why no one is calling for the jailing of AIG executives on charges of fraud. How, the argument goes, was their selling of financial insurance products any different from the sort of fraud Maddoff carried out? They sold insurance policies they couldn’t cover! They took money and gave nothing in return!

I think this tends to underline that people don’t actually understand insurance and how it works very well. This is doubly concerning in that insurance has become increasingly central to people’s ideas of economic security in the last few decades. Indeed, we’ve reached a point where lacking health insurance is itself considered a health problem, regardless of whether this actually results in someone failing to receive needed treatement.

What is insurance? Basically, insurance is a way of extending your savings for unlikely but high cost eventualities.

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10 Responses to Fraud, Folly or Probability

  • I think where the fraud comes in is when billions of government dollars are pumped into private businesses. The opportunity for corruption on an epic scale between politicians and business men and women is probably unparalleled in our nation’s history. In short, I think the fraud is probably underway now.

  • Yes. Justly, AIG should have been declared insolvent and its assets sold off to it’s more cautious competitors who were more careful in their choices. Keeping them afloat helps avoid some (potentially very bad) short term pain, but sends a bad moral hazard message in the long term.

  • Agreed. Bankruptcy is a meat cleaver solution, but it is very good at taking assets from failing businesses and transfering them by sale to businesses that can use them more productively.

  • Insurance isn’t what made AIG insolvent. Derivatives made AIG insolvent. Derivatives can be like insurance, but are not insurance. One of the differences is that bankruptcy doesn’t provide shelter from derivatives.

    Why AIG was bailed out was more akin to the following. Say your brother offers your mother an investment and gives assurances of its soundness. Your mother gives him 20% of her savings, not alturistically but because she believes the investment is sound and good for her. Your brother manages to lose 80% of your money. Certainly you can tell your mother that she needs to take responsibility. You can tell her that she needs to forgive her son and your brother. You may even offer a pittance to help her get by. This is what is happening at a more global scale. If AIG were to go down, a number of very large European banks would go down with it. Much of the aid given to AIG has gone to those banks. Needless to say Europe isn’t much interested in hearing, “Oh that’s the free market, sorry.” They aren’t interested in having their economy tank because U.S. regulators couldn’t manage their banking system. The US isn’t exactly in a position to ruthlessly default. A signficant number of dollars in our stock exchange is held overseas. (The largest investors in Citibank are in the Middle East.) Recalcitrance on bailing out AIG would have resulted in a stock market crash. If I remember right, there were 1.5 TRILLION DOLLARS in sell orders ready to execute just prior to the announcement that the government was taking over AIG.

  • Insurance isn’t what made AIG insolvent. Derivatives made AIG insolvent. Derivatives can be like insurance, but are not insurance. One of the differences is that bankruptcy doesn’t provide shelter from derivatives.

    Definitely, CDSs are not insurance, though the point that interested me was that their pricing depends on a probability of default, which is something which the issuer is responsible for forecasting. And they are effectively used as insurance, in some cases, by investors.

    I guess I’m a little confused as to the point that bankruptcy would not provide shelter from the derivatives to AIG. You may well know more about this detail than I, but I know I’ve heard several economists write or say that the government should have let AIG go down, and I would assume that had they gone down they would have been unable to pay out on CDSs they had issued for any further companies that defaulted. So sheltered or not, the CDSs would have gone away if AIG broke.

    Needless to say Europe isn’t much interested in hearing, “Oh that’s the free market, sorry.” They aren’t interested in having their economy tank because U.S. regulators couldn’t manage their banking system. The US isn’t exactly in a position to ruthlessly default.

    I’m a bit confused by this. Your suggestion is essentially that the poor, simplistic European banks bought a number of investements which turned out, because people’s statistical forecasting models did not take into account extraordinary events, to be unsustainable, and that therefore it is now our duty to use government funds to make those investments good anyway (privatized gains and socialized losses across borders?) because the Europeans would otherwise be shocked and angered that we failed to regulate to keep their banks from buying investments that would pull them under?

    If the problem is that American financial institutions are under-regulated compared to European ones, then shouldn’t the virtuously regulating Europeans refuse to get involved with American investments lest they be burned?

    Really, though, this all comes back to the forecasting question, which was what actually interested me in this discussion. Rare but cataclysmic events are inherently very hard to forecast, and I really see no reason to believe that regulators would be any better at doing so than the financial products division of AIG. Government regulators’ decision biases would be different, but not necessarily in better ways, just different ways.

  • If AIG were to go down, a number of very large European banks would go down with it. Much of the aid given to AIG has gone to those banks.

    This is certainly true, and in fact the value of this indirect bailout of European banks, in real dollars, is likely to exceed the amount given in the Marshall plan. What isn’t clear is why bailing out insolvent European banks should be the responsibility of the American government, rather than of governments in Europe.

  • The European banks bought mortgage securities and hedged by buying default swaps from AIG. Perhaps I should have introduced another brother into the scenario to better analogize the situation. The point of the analogy was not however a criticism of regulation but to note that the process is not atomized. Like the mother’s investment with her son, the son and mother have mutual interests that extend beyond the investment transaction. There was a reason Clinton was in China two weeks ago. The US economic life is not autonomous but a part of our foreign policy. We have troop commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq and myriad of lesser interests, not to mention maintaining our petrodollar status, that would be significantly effected if we just pretended that AIG’s issues were in a box seperate from US issues. The most significant issue is that no one else sees the seperate box.

    As to Blackadder’s question, the Euros have already stuffed a lot of money into their banks. Britain has nationalized I think 3 of them now. In some respects the question is like asking the starving man why he doesn’t buy a bowl of soup.

  • M.Z.,

    If only Obama could articulate this to the American public then most of the confusion and ridicule would subside. President Obama doesn’t want to fall into the same pitfall of failing to explain his policies like President Bush did.

    One more thing, how about a pic to go along with your WordPress ID?

  • As to Blackadder’s question, the Euros have already stuffed a lot of money into their banks. Britain has nationalized I think 3 of them now. In some respects the question is like asking the starving man why he doesn’t buy a bowl of soup.

    The UK has given large amounts in bailouts. The rest of Europe hasn’t. If the idea is that European governments are simply incapable of giving more, then this would seem to be rather damning for their financial system as compared to our own.

  • The linked article doesn’t carry as much water as you want it to carry. France, Germany, Belgium, and the Dutch has all participated in bailing out banks. Yes, the European banking system has many problems. Eastern Europe, Spain, and Ireland have real estate bubbles that may be worse than our own. Ditto Brittain. If we are however measuring which financial system can handle a default by AIG, the answer is apparently none, or at least we are afraid to find out.

50 Responses to Notre Shame

  • Mark,

    You crossed the line one too many times with me. I had to delete your comments for the first time ever. I’ve tolerated your obtuseness for far too long.

    Please, if you can’t be constructive don’t comment.

  • Tito,

    You see no presumption and lack of charity in the cartoon you chose?

  • I think Rick Garnett’s take is the best I’ve read so far. In particular, I like the mild tone:

    Most institutions don’t, in the big picture, really matter. There are workable substitutes available, and lots of other players doing pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same way.

    The University of Notre Dame — which is, obviously, flawed and fallible in many, many ways — does matter. Truth be told, it is the only real hope left for a great university that is meaningfully Catholic. The Church and the world — all of us, Catholic or not, football fans or not — desperately need such an institution.

    This great need imposes a weighty burden. To paraphrase Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, with Notre Dame’s matter-ing comes a great responsibility to be true to her calling and worthy of her mission. Unfortunately, by honoring President Obama — who has, in recent weeks, taken steps that are glaringly in conflict with his bedrock moral obligation to respect and protect the equal dignity of unborn children — Notre Dame has clouded what should be clear, and deeply disappointed not just her usual critics, but also those of us who want very much for her to succeed (and work hard to help her succeed).

    To say this is not to say that a Catholic university should only invite speakers or engage leaders and thinkers whose views and records are consistent with the Church’s teachings. It is not to question President Obama’s accomplishments or to deny that his election was, in many ways, historic. Certainly, a Catholic university should engage, challenge, learn from, and “dialogue” with, the wider world.

    Still, to do these things, to be what the world needs her to be, Notre Dame has to be distinctive — not weird, “sectarian,” narrow, or nostalgic, but authentic, courageous, integrated, and . . . interesting. Here, I am afraid she failed.

  • I’m not sure I understand the 30 pieces of silver bit. How is Jenkins profiting from having Obama as a commencement speaker?

  • Mark,

    It represents the mood of the country quite well among Catholics.

    John Henry,

    Good article. Yes, she has failed us.


    It’s a reference to Judas selling out Jesus for silver, ie, Fr. Jenkins sells out the relatively good name of Notre Dame worldly adulation.

  • It’s a reference to Judas selling out Jesus for silver

    I get that. My question was whether the reference had any basis in reality. I take it the answer is no.

  • BA,

    It can be interpreted any which way you wish.


    This is your last warning.

    Anymore ad hominem’s from you and you will be placed back on moderation. That is my way of dealing with someone who does not practice his Catholic faith by showing a lack of charity in the comm-boxes. The rest of your actions will be left up to God to judge your lies and deceit.

  • I am sure Obama was not invited because of his position on abortion. He was invited because he is president of the United States.

  • “That is my way of dealing with someone who does not practice his Catholic faith by showing a lack of charity in the comm-boxes.


    Where is your charity to Father Jenkins? I would bet my eternal soul that he did not intend his invitation as an endorsement, condonement or acceptance of Obama’s abortion position. And do not hide behind the “mood of Catholics in the country spill, used already above!

  • Tito,

    You compared Notre Dame’s president to Judas. That’s an ad hominem. I think Professor Garnett is right to express some disappointment; but I think some of the commentary has been excessive.

  • Henry Karlson,

    You are now on indefinite moderation.

    Do not ever threaten me again.

    You are a very sad human being.

    May God have mercy on your soul.

  • John Henry,

    I made an analogy, not an ad hominem.

  • ….Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.

    “The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Jenkins said.

    These “crucial differences” in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.

  • Mark,

    Fr. John Jenkins has repeatedly crossed the line as president at Notre Dame. First with pushing the V-logues on campus and now with the invitation to President Obama.

    If Fr. Jenkins is the president, wouldn’t he have anticipated the uproar that this would cause? If he didn’t then he needs to be fired. If he did, then he is thumbing his nose at God.

    Either way, it was a grave mistake and to come out and say that he doesn’t endorse Obama’s abortion policies is incorrect. He knows full well the contentiousness of abortion in the country, especially as a Catholic priest. He was fully aware what his actions would do, create the scandal that has now hit Notre Dame.

    He bears full responsibility and he has damaged the reputation of Notre Dame and has marginalized himself from Catholic orthodoxy for the forseeable future.

  • John,

    It is certainly creating a lot of ‘dialogue’.

    [ed.] Henry Karlson is besides himself in profane and explicit verbal attacks on anyone who would dare try to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent, the unborn children of God.

    Par for the course for alleged and dissenting Catholics.

  • Henry Karlson,

    Keep digging your hole and I’ll keep deleting your un-Catholic comments.

    You and your fellow dissenting Catholics can bad mouth the Church, Her teachings, and Her followers, but God will have the final say on how you have pushed the agenda of the Culture of Death.

  • Tito,

    As you are well aware, Henry and Mark are not dissenting Catholics. I think Henry’s rhetoric (although it’s been deleted now, so he can’t defend himself) was ill-advised and intemperate. That happens to most people from time to time on comment threads. But he is not a dissenter.

  • John Henry,

    That is where you and I disagree.

    When one leads others away from the faith with lies and deceit, ‘dissenting’ is one of the few kind words I can think of that is allowable in the comm-boxes.


    And if you consider lies, deceits, and threats to me a form of ‘defense’, then so be it.

  • Tito,

    I am defending abortion in no way, shape or form.

    How do you expect to advance the culture of life, if you do not provide forums to charitably engage with those who have influence, but disagree with you in the public square?

    What if some good comes out of this engagement?

    Perhaps Obama may–albeit ever so slightly–see things with another perspective in mind. He is not pure evil. He is a human being on his way, just like the rest of us, who now has the responsibility of being the leader of the free world. Cannot this be an opportunity?

  • Henry Karlson, [ed.]

    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    — Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 7:15-21

  • Tito,

    For heaven’s sake, calm down.

    And you cannot insult me personally, because I think very little of myself apart from Christ, so don’t waste your energies about my false prohecy deceptive clothing et al. I did not know, for one, that wolves wore T-shirts and dungarees as sheep’s clothing. What if I were wearing my blue blazer and grey flannels? A sweater and khakis? Would that be different?

    Please answer my questions.

  • Jenkins said that Notre Dame was “honored” by the President accepting their invitation. Is there any political position that a President could hold which would cause Jenkins not to be honored by the President accepting such an invitation? Being in favor of the legality of kids being killed in the womb is rather an extreme example I would think. Perhaps if he were in favor of infanticide Jenkins would draw the line? Although considering the fact that Obama raised campaign funds based on his opposition to banning the disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion I guess that line has been crossed. Perhaps if a President were in favor of cannibalism Jenkins would draw the line?

  • The irony: I’ve been called a “dissenting Catholic” because I said our Lady deserves to be shown respect.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    That is mere social politeness.

  • Greetings,
    Obama deliberately chose the Notre Dame invitation out of dozens of private schools he could have chosen. It is part of his re-election campaign in which he seeks to deceive the ill-informed Catholic voter into believing the rhetoric about “abortion reduction” and him being some sort of “moderate” on abortion. He is using Notre Dame and Jenkins is letting him do it.

    Obama has sized up the Catholic bishops and decided that they are too weak and too cowardly to hurt him. He is basically spitting in their eye to see if he gets any reaction. If he does not get a reaction, he will go further next time. Next up is the removal of conscience rights. Then it will be Catholic hospitals. Eventually it will be FOCA.

    The Catholic bishops need to speak together and Notre Dame needs to lose its right to call itself a Catholic university. If Jenkins had thought that would happen, he never would have invited Obama.

  • No Mr. DeFrancisis, Jenkins extended the invitation to Obama. Obama accepted and Jenkins says Notre Dame is honored by the acceptance. Considering that the invitation was extended in the first place, I take Jenkins at his word. So I repeat my query, what political position would a President have to take before Jenkins would draw the line at inviting him to give the commencement address at Notre Dame and receiving an honorary degree?

  • Just a little thought experiment. Does anyone wish to argue with a straight face that Notre Dame would extend these honors to a President who publicly stated that blacks were an inferior race? I assume that Jenkins would prefer to eat ground glass, and rightly so, before he would honor such a man, President or not. In what way is the moral offense of honoring an overt racist greater than honoring a President who, throughout his career, has fought vigorously for abortion on demand? Could it be because in academia white racism is rightfully regarded as evil, while abortion is regarded as a sacred right? Isn’t the explanation for this decision painfully obvious? The administration at Notre Dame fully subscribes to the beliefs and prejudices predominant in American academia, and opposition to abortion is anathema to these beliefs and prejudices. By inviting Obama they are defending their faith and it has little in common with the Catholic Faith.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Are you prone to believe in conspiracy theories too?

  • I guess Joseph Cassano wasn’t available to initiate a dialogue on greed and unrestrained speculation.

  • The question (for me, at least) isn’t whether inviting Obama to deliver the commencement is a good idea. I think it was a big mistake. The question is whether comparing Father Jenkins to Judas is a proper way of expressing one’s disapproval of the decision.

    I don’t know Father Jenkins personally, but he was the spiritual director for a friend of mine. She speaks very highly of him.

  • “Are you prone to believe in conspiracy theories too?”

    Mr. DeFrancisis, you can do better than that. Anyone who has dealt with any colleges or universities in the past few decades will readily concede that abortion is viewed as a sacred right, not to say rite, by the powers that be in most of those institutions.

  • If one was serious about thinking Fr. Jenkins to be on a par with Judas because of the decision to invite Obama, I think one would pretty clearly be unhinged. But then, the political cartoon is a genre in which William Jennings Brian was portrayed as a Christ figure for supporting the gold standard (or was it the silver standard?) Overstatement would seem to be the nature of the genre.

    I think it was a very poor decision on ND’s part, but it hardly strikes me as surprising. They’ve had a great deal of difficulty over the years trying to decide how to balance being Catholic with fitting in with the rest of elite academia. And this seems to fit their overall pattern.

    I’d be curious to know why they didn’t invite (or at least didn’t get) Clinton, yet did invite Obama. Was the reasoning for not inviting Clinton anything to do with moral issues, and if so what was seen to be different with Obama?

  • William Jennings Bryan was an advocate of bimetalism often called the “Free silver” policy. The cartoons followed his speech at the 1896 Dem convention where he said “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” His rhetorical style was prone to hyperbole.

  • BA,

    I appreciate your genuine concern on the comparison, but Darwin and largebill have expressed my sympathies quite eloquantly on the matter.

    Go in peace.

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  • Christ Himself was given to hyperbole when He felt it appropriate. He had pretty harsh words for the Pharisees whom He called “whitewashed tombs” and “blind fools.” He said things that obviously were not meant to be taken literally, such as “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” He even had harsh words for His own apostles at times. Yet He can hardly be accused of lacking charity!

    We fallen human beings are going to have a harder time telling the difference between righteous indignation and just plain being insulting. Some of us are going to draw the line in different places that others.

    It is a well known principle of media law that public figures are pretty much fair game for satire, parody and editorial cartooning. Fr. Jenkins, being the president of the nation’s best known Catholic university, should know this. He is not some innocent private citizen being held up to ridicule after being sucked into a controversy not of his own making. He HAD to know this would tick off a lot of people. Since he stands accused of ‘selling out’ one of the most important values his institution is supposed to stand for (right to life from conception to natural death), the comparison to Judas in an editorial cartoon is not, in my opinion, inappropriate. (If it were, you would hear Bill Donohue of the Catholic League screaming about it all the way from NYC.)

  • ” John Henry Says: ….Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.”

    Yeah, promoting the killing of innocent babies not just in the U.S. but globally is a notably excellent leadership quality.

    Heck, might as well hail Hitler for his leadership quality as well given how he raised Germany from the ashes of the first World War — you’ll just have to ignore the fact that he had wanted to exterminate an entire people, which according to some Catholics, unborn babies are not actually.

  • e.,

    That was a quote from the link in the update, not my opinion. I am disappointed by Fr. Jenkin’s decision, but he has at least made it clear that the University does not endorse Obama’s position on abortion on ESCR.

  • Here, apparently, is the cartoon I was thinking of, or at least a similar one:

    William Jennings Bryan was an advocate of bimetalism often called the “Free silver” policy.

    Of course, I can never hear of bimetalists without thinking of Evelyn Waugh’s Scott-King’s Modern Europe in which the bimetalists play a memorable (though off stage) role.

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  • Tito,

    You seem to be embarrassing your co-contributors more and more each week. It’s amusing to watch.


  • Catholic Anarchist, don’t you have better things to do in the wee hours of a Saturday morning other than to spread bile?

  • Michael,

    You are too old for that type of juvenile taunting.

  • Not taunting at all. Just an observation. Do you disagree?

  • Michael,

    Yes. It’s one thing to have a strong reaction to topics related to abortion; quite another to play the troll (as, I believe, you are). The former is understandable; the latter, to use your phrase, ’embarrassing’.

  • I see. Defend “your own” at all costs. Very american of you.

  • I would have to say it’s a human characteristic, rather than an American characteristic. There seems to be some sort of ridiculous fallacy floating around VN that because a character trait is exhibited by some Americans, it’s unique to Americans or distinctively American.

    As far as whether defending one’s own or a desire to be fair is on display here, that’s for others to judge. As this is not my thread, and we are rather far afield, I will not comment on this any further. I would appreciate it if you did not as well.

  • I think we tend to try to take each case individually, which may or may not be characteristically American — though it does seem to be something Michael can congratulate himself in being quite free from.

    I, for one, am certainly not embarrassed by Tito. He at times makes statements that I disagree with, and when that happens I sometimes ignore it and sometimes tell him so. However far from being embarrassed by him I have a lot of respect for Tito. Among other reasons, because he far surpasses me in the ability to take fraternal criticism honestly and humbly.

  • mong other reasons, because he far surpasses me in the ability to take fraternal criticism honestly and humbly.

    I have seen absolutely no evidence of this.

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You've Seen One Frenchman, You've Seen Them All

Sunday, March 22, AD 2009


Apparently, hattip to Gateway Pundit, our President isn’t sure who the President of France is since he sent a note to former French President Chirac, and Sumo I do hope you are fully recovered, with this sentiment in it:   ‘I am certain that we will be able to work together, in the coming four years, in a spirit of peace and friendship to build a safer world.’  The current President of France is not amused.

For the benefit of any Obama staffer who may come across this, the current President of France is Sarkozy.  Your boss has had his picture taken with him.  He has a supermodel new wife.  There are no poodle bite mark scars on him.  There, never let it be said that I am unwilling to help the new administration!

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9 Responses to You've Seen One Frenchman, You've Seen Them All

  • Donald,
    Can you say with certitude that Sarkozy possesses no poodle bite scars? Didn’t think so.


  • You got me there Daledog!

  • You’ve seen one Frenchman, you seen ’em all.

    So the photo is of……… two Frenchmen? 😉

  • “You’ve seen one Frenchman, you’ve seen them all.”

    So your photo is of……….two Frenchmen? 😉

  • Oh my. First hunch is to question the veracity of the story because while I can believe Obama is that inept, I can’t believe that there wasn’t someone along the line who didn’t know better. I mean, even if the presidential staff is sub-par, someone had to know who the president of France is. If they did know and it was a calculated move to snub the sitting president and give props to a fellow traveler, it would not only be a stupid thing to do, but a frightening insight into the “new kind of diplomacy”.

    Hmmm, I’m wondering if it is the latter. There are examples of the far left in this country abusing common sense and violating diplomatic protocol in order to favor their foreign comrades. i.e. Kerry and Harkin coddling Ortega. Teddy Kennedy offering to assist the Soviets by politically opposing the President and essentially being a publicist for them.

    This wouldn’t rise to that level, but it is a huge blunder regardless of the circumstances.

  • “So your photo is of……….two Frenchmen”

    Ah Don, if only it were so!

  • Rick, in regard to your comment I would actually prefer that it be a simple act of incompetence. If not, I hope Obama can find an advisor who can define “diplomacy” for him. A liberal Democrat President who can manage to get a President of France mad at him obviously needs lots of help in this area.

  • I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed. It appears there is another more likely explanation – Obama was writing in response to a letter from Chirac regarding Chirac’s new foundation. This is the supposed word in the French press, but then, given the current state of under reporting throughout the “news” world, who knows what really happened…

    There are more if you simply Google the matter. It might not be a brilliant political move, but it doesn’t seem to have been as completely idiotic as we might prefer to think.

  • I think you are right Cheryl, although the letter does still strike me as odd in its wording. Either the staff work was sloppy, or Obama was trying to get a dig in at Sarkozy, since he and Chirac have hated each other since 1995 when Sarkozy backed a rival of Chirac’s for President of France.

Scalia on Stare Decisis and Roe

Sunday, March 22, AD 2009

Hattip to the ever eagle eyed Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia.   Justice Antonin Scalia on stare decisis and Roe.  By the way, Scalia’s low estimate of Roe as a legal opinion is pretty nearly universal in the legal world.  Liberal attorneys and judges, even though they support abortion on demand, will frequently agree in private, and sometimes in public, that Roe was a shoddy piece of legal work, and that Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe, was a poor excuse for a jurist.  This of course does not prevent them from supporting Roe since they approve of the result, but it does mean that all of the many cases following Roe are based on an intellectually, and of course constitutionally, rotten foundation.  We can see this in the opinions that strain to make sense of Roe, which, as Judge Bork famously noted, is completely devoid of legal argument.

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2 Responses to Scalia on Stare Decisis and Roe

  • Roe can be defended solely on an outcome-based (if you are pro-choice) criteria. It is an abomination from a constitutional perspective. What’s worse is that I think Casey is an even greater atrocity, and I’ve always loved Scalia’s dissent. It sums up what’s wrong with it so perfectly.

  • I’m not going to sit in judgment of the soul of anyone. Lord knows, I’ll have enough of my own failures to answer for on the Day of Judgment.

    But let’s just say I’m glad that a last-minute switch in the Casey decision to preserve the abomination of Roe v. Wade for at least another generation won’t be one of the things that I’ll have on my conscience when I answer to the Lord for my treatment of the least of these.

Notre Dame-Obama Scandal Roundup

Saturday, March 21, AD 2009

News spread fast with the announcement that the University of Notre Dame (ND) will have President Obama at its commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree.  Our very own Donald R. McClarey was johnny-on-the-spot with the breaking news last night.  Here is the official press release states as follows:

“Mr. Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree by the University and the sixth to be the Commencement speaker.”

Here’s a round up of the near-unanimous condemnation of this invitation to Pro-Abortion President Barack Obama:

1.  Bishop John D’Arcy has been very critical of ND in the past.  Bishop D’Arcy has also defended unborn children againstPresident Obama’s anti-life agenda in the past.  His Excellency will have quite a bit to say come Monday.

2.  The ND switchboard was overwhelmed late last night with all calls expressing their outrage at the invitation of a president with blood on his hands of innocent children.  The voice mailbox for the President, Fr. John Jenkins, Vice-President, Provost, assistant-provost and PR director of ND were all full by 9pm EST.

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31 Responses to Notre Dame-Obama Scandal Roundup

  • So Barack Obama is claiming Irish descent, eh?

    Could be true – over here the bloggers are calling him Barry O’Blunda. 🙂

  • Ha! When he was merely a problem for Illinois, I sometimes called him O’Bama because of the way the Chicago machine got behind him during his Senate run.

  • As a current Notre Dame student, I can speak for many on campus who are genuinely conflicted about our university’s choice for commencement speaker. We hold a tremendous amount of respect for the office of President of the United States, but we hold an even greater belief in the sanctity of human life. Some of us have written and signed an open letter to Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, asking him to make a public statement denouncing Pres. Obama’s views on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etc. I invited you to read it on our student Web page here: With your help, we can raise awareness about the sizable portion of the student body who chose to to attend ND not only for its academic reputation and history on the gridiron, but its Catholic foundations and identity as well.

  • Patrick,

    I think it’s a decent letter, and I hope your President rises to the challenge, but I have to take issue with this:

    Awarding him an honorary degree without making clear that the University disapproves of his stance on issues regarding the sanctity of human life would be a disrespect to those students who, like ourselves, chose to attend this University based not only on its status as one of the country’s premier institutions of higher learning, but a school that takes pride in its Catholic foundation and identity.

    Seriously — why award an honorary degree in the first place? I seem to recall the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ weighing in on the bestowing of such honors in Catholics in Political Life:

    The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

    In stating such, would the USCCB make exceptions for Presidents who zealously advocate Roe v. Wade?

  • Christopher

    “which would suggest support for their actions.” That’s the key. It’s clear he is there because he is President. You ignore the key, because it would point out someone COULD be given awards, as long as it is not suggesting support for such actions.

  • They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

    That’s a masterfully ambiguous sentence, as it allows for both Chris’ and Henry’s interpretation.

    (1) Awards, etc. should not be given at all, because that suggests support for their actions; or

    (2) Awards, etc. should not be given which suggest support for their actions.

    I have to wonder if it was a deliberately ambiguous construction to give cover to two opposing camps.

    In any event, even with Henry’s interpretation, this imposes a duty upon the university to state unequivocally that the platform and award in question are being given despite his defiance of fundamental Catholic moral principles, not because of them.

  • I think the lack of a comma prior to the ‘which’ suggests Henry’s interpretation is correct, although I agree it’s somewhat ambiguous.

  • Dale Price

    Perhaps ND will say something about President Obama’s lack of agreement with Catholic morals. But did anyone demand such statements from universities when other Presidents (or their staff), who were not Catholic and did not uphold Catholic morality, were at commencements? Again, it is not just the aspect I brought up; it is the whole moral code, which seems to be only brought into play for one issue, and not others.

    Moreover, here is another question: should such univiersities give scholarships to students, or even allow students to graduate, who do not uphold Catholic morality? I do not see that happening, nor anyone protesting “That student is too pro-death penalty, he can’t have his law degree from Notre Dame!” It’s again clear, that people are using this quote for one thing, but ignoring the consequences elsewhere. And the reason why is this quote is vague (I agree with Dale there) and I think its intent is to stop awards specifically to those whose work is primarily and univocally against Catholic moral positions. Obama, and Bush, and most Presidents, if not all, would not be seen as either primarily or univocally such.

  • Yes, that comma would cinch it in favor of Chris’ view. To make it clearer, Henry’s interpretation is certainly legitimate and does no violence to the text.

    Then again, the sentence immediately prior to it has to be taken into account, as Chris notes.

    At the risk of belaboring my point, the text mandates, at a minimum, that Catholic schools cannot simply offer awards, platforms, etc., and leave it at that.

  • Henry, given that the June 2004 conference document emphasizes abortion (while not excluding other life issues, obviously), your argument is with the Conference, not me. I’d be interested to see who has spoken where since it went into effect, even so.

    Moreover, it is directed at public officials and policymakers, which suggests that your law student analogy would not apply. Plus, there is the matter of simple justice not to deny someone a degree for which they have worked and paid a considerable sum of money, even if they are wrong on a fundamental moral issue. That’s different from conveying a purely honorary degree or award which has not been earned.

  • Though I’d certainly agree that a Catholic college retains the right to discipline and even expel students who behave in a manner which violates the principles outlined in the document (and in other places).

  • What Dale said.

    The University of Notre Dame should not be giving a platform to a proponent of the culture of death.

  • Dale

    Once again, while abortion is emphasized, I do not think its principles are meant to be limited to it. Context explains why abortion, but the principles should be beyond.

    Second, what about the use of scholarships? Should they be given or not given to those who do not uphold Catholic morals?

    Third, while a law student is not in the government, it is clear many will be actively involved with government life afterwards. And the degree, while it was “paid for” nonetheless is an honor and an award. And it is one which is given out despite one’s principles, or beliefs, and it is for this reason why one can’t ignore that aspect when an honorary degree is given out (personally, I don’t think honorary degrees should be given out so easily as they are, and only a few, like Tolkien at Oxford, deserved them when they got them; but once it is a part of the system, it follows the regulations of the system, which transcends an individual university).

    Now, let’s bring this to other issues, and one which is close to home. CUA. While I have been there, many speakers have been turned away and many have come, both of which have had questionable moral qualifications. One director, I know, had the students protesting the university when he was turned away from an award, because the director was primarily involved with pro-abortion work. I think the university was right, and this was the kind of thing which is meant by Christopher’s quote.

  • Moreover, here is another question: should such univiersities give scholarships to students, or even allow students to graduate, who do not uphold Catholic morality?

    –I graduated from Notre Dame, was mainstream Protestant, and am pro-choice. Notre Dame has never required students to be Catholic to attend or to graduate. It only required students to abide by specified rules.

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  • Why is anyone surprised at this action by the administration at Notre Dame? It is just another collection of colleges with a catholic veneer. It is best known for , and derives much of its income from – football.

    And for thumbing its administrative and clerical nose at the Church. Somehow Fr. Hesburgh and his successors got the idea that they were episcopal, and untouchable. I mean, consider the silly Fr. McBrien. Pity rather his poor students who must put up with his nonsense or be flunked.

  • The Church’s teaching must be available at Notre Dame. Notre Dame must also act as a Catholic university. Just because a Protestant, Hindu, Jew, or other non-Catholic doesn’t affect the character and teaching responsibility that is Notre Dame.

    Basically, your query is a non-sequitur.

  • The fact that Fr Jenkins even considered President O’Bama to be the commencement speaker, even though he knows, or should know, about O’bama’s anti-Christian views on the sanctity of human life and marriage, speaks volumes on what Fr Jenkins believes.

    It is tragic that Catholic clergy unfit to be local parish priest, much less the president of most conspicuous, Catholic University in the US , is allowed to spit in the face of many Bishops and lay organizations when that person takes a view that is totally opposed to the Church’s teaching by inviting O’bama. Shame on Fr Jenkins. May the Lord rebuke him, we humbly pray!

    And how long will we, the beleagured faithful in the US, have to wait on Rome to take action and clean up the rampant heresy in the Catholic Church in America? It’s been a generation since the unholy winds of the world entered the Church after Vatican II, and now the Church undergoes its purification. On one hand, we have good faithful priests and on the other, we have sodomites and manifest heretics who betray their calling to the priesthood. Jesus says “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, are ravening wolves” (Matt 7:15) and “By their fruits shall you know them” (Matt 7:16).

    But Fr Jenkins, is a symptom of what is wrong with the laity and religious in America–they can no longer see the religious truth of the Church which they belong to. We should pray very hard for the conversion of wayward clergy. Satan especially targets priests, because it the is best way to drag as many souls to hell. (St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle….) The Lord will judge Fr Jenkins more harshly than us because “to him whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48)

    “Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”
    “St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, come to our assistance”

  • Concerning the President’s alleged “Anti-Christian views on the sancity of human life and marriage”, how do we reconcile this assertion with the Holy Father who receives various ecumencial guests as “brother Christians” who have the same (or even more extreme) views the President has?

  • I think precious few of these “brother Christians” would have views quite as extreme as Obama in regard to the issue of abortion. In any case popes have met with representatives of murderous regimes countless times over the centuries in pursuance of their duties as the vicar of Christ. However they are not accorded honors such as would be given to Obama by Notre Dame. One has to deal with evil people on this earth, but one never has to accord them either honor or homage.

  • Donald,

    Can you explain where the Episcopal Church, United Church and Presbyterian Church are less extreme than the President on abortion policy?

  • Which branches of the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church? The United Church of Christ, 1.2 million and shrinking, down 6% from 2006-2007, are indeed as firm in their allegiance to the Culture of Death as President Obama.

  • The Episcopal Church of the United States and the Presbyterian Church USA.

    Don, if it is okay for the highest Catholic authorities to accept the United Church as “brother Christians” because their membership is declining, then can Obama be accepted as such if his poll numbers start declining?

  • Katherine,

    what is your point? That we should not call Obama’s views anti-Christian? That we should call those churches views anti-Christian?

    I think you’re missing the point that we’re calling Obama’s views anti-Christian, we’re not saying he is not a professed Christian, there is a substantial distinction there.

  • Which branches of the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church? The United Church of Christ, 1.2 million and shrinking, down 6% from 2006-2007, are indeed as firm in their allegiance to the Culture of Death as President Obama.

    Outrageous statement. Sinful statement. And just before Holy Week.

  • A completely accurate statement Catholic Anarchist. Truth is always called for, especially before Holy Week.

    Katherine, let me know when the Pope honors the leadership of the United Church of Christ. I will get back to you on the other two denominations, since I have a client waiting.

  • In regard to the Presbyterian Church USA Katherine since 1992 they basically have been pro-abort, although their recent stance is better than Obama’s:

    “We affirm that the lives of viable unborn babies—those well-developed enough to survive outside the womb if delivered—ought to be preserved and cared for and not aborted. In cases where problems of life or health of the mother arise in a pregnancy, the church supports efforts to protect the life and health of both the mother and the baby. When late-term pregnancies must be terminated, we urge decisions intended to deliver the baby alive. We look to our churches to provide pastoral and tangible support to women in problem pregnancies and to surround these families with a community of care. We affirm adoption as a provision for women who deliver children they are not able to care for, and ask our churches to assist in seeking loving, Christian, adoptive families.(6)”

    They also have a strong pro-life movement that has been fighting to change the policy of their church:, and I salute them as I do members of any pro-abort church fighting for the right to life.

    A good recent article on the struggle within Protestant denominations on the abortion issue:

  • The position of the dying Episcopal Church in the United States, 2,154,572 in 2007, which is a drop of 4.5% from the preceding year, is perhaps best summed up by Priestess Katherine Ragsdale who refers to abortion as a blessing.

    The good news is that there many breakaway branches of the Episcopalian Church which are strongly pro-life and of course many Episcopalians, including entire congregations, have joined the Catholic Church.

    A good site to observe the death throes of the Episcopalian Church is the Midwest Conservative Journal.

  • So Don, other than making political and demographic claims about these denominations, you really can’t reconcile the accusation against Obama and the fact they are treated as Christian bodies by the Catholic church in her ecumencial relations?

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10 Responses to Downtown

  • Heh, the first thing that came to mind upon reading this post was the Seinfeld episode with the Downtown clue.

    I didn’t think that cover was bad, not sure I’d have a preference one way or another. Had never heard of Emma Bunton and didn’t get where you thought that version was spicy until google assisted in me in deciphering your clever quip. Duh…

  • Rick my kids often tell me that my humor is so subtle as to be non-existent, which is their subtle way of saying, “Not funny Dad!”!

  • Don’t let them fool ya, Don. They no doubt love it. Wait til you see how they become Dad x 2 when they have their own kids. My 13 yr old is quite gifted, a total bookworm and somewhat pedantic. She groans at my antics but beneath that steely veneer of teenage parental embarrassment syndrome, there’s a twinkle in the eye and an elevated corner of the lips that still makes the corny or subtle well worth it.

  • For some odd reason this song this P. Clark was piped over the sound system in Walgreens last week. It made my day. I love this song.

  • I liked both versions. Granted the cover was a mini-music video that enhanced the audio, so that may have been a bit unfair.

    Good taste in music Don.

  • Petula has the fuller voice (of course, it’s also a studio recording vs. live performance,) but Baby Spice does a fine job. I’m glad she stuck to the original orchestration and didn’t do anything offbeat with the song.

    I remember singing along to stuff like this, “Georgie Girl,” and (Heaven help me) “Boots” by Nancy Sinatra at four or five years of age!

  • Aah – YES!!
    Petula Clark – what a fabulous voice and a beautiful woman. She was top of the Hit Parade here when I was ninteen, and on transfer in my bank job to Wellington NZ – and that year was 1961. I was in love with her 😉

    But hey Don, we’re really dating ourselves now.
    Didn’t really like the bank job that much, and being a town boy, didn’t particularly like the city – even though I met some great guys – and gals – there.
    Left the bank six months later and joined my dad in his joinery business – but that was through no fault of Pet Clark. IIRC, she sang mainly Burt Bacharac numbers, followed a few years later by Dione Warwick.

    BTW – got the Spicey bit – the capitol ‘S’ gave it away. And my kids used to react to my humour the same as yours – I guess its a universal event. Funny thing is, my second boy who had the sharpest wit and was the most scathing of my “debased” humour, now at 36years old, is most like me. Even has his wife and 8 y/o old groaning at him. He reckoned I suffered from ARBD (alcohol related brain damage )

    Its a great life aint it? (to hell with the recession 🙂 )

  • “to hell with the recession”

    That’s my motto Don! Good times come and good times go, but the most important things, God and family, remain.

    In regard to Petula Clark she has always had a warm spot in my heart. I loved the musical version of Goodby Mr. Chips that she did with Peter O’Toole back in ’69.

    As to my kids, my most scathing critic is my 14 year old daughter who also possesses a sense of humor that is almost identical to my own. I point this out to her and she reacts with mock horror!

  • Thanks Don, I’ve had the Spicey version melody stuck in me since Sunday. It’s not bad, kinda of neat actually.

    It’s almost noon on Monday and it’s still going on inside my head!

  • Petula Clark was (and remains) a favourite of mine. I collected every one of her albums way back when as soon as they appeared in the record stores. Emma Bunton was OK, and cute, but Pet definitely still rocks! Thanks for posting this wonderful tune — one of many brilliantly arranged by the gifted Tony Hatch, who produced most Clark albums. BTW, next time you post a Clark video, how about “My Love”? It’s cheerful, catchy, and if it gets stuck in your head will drive you crazy — in a good way, though! Thanks again.