Monthly Archives: August 2009

ObamaCare Update

Government Health Care

[Update at the bottom as of 7:39 pm CST for 8-21-2009 AD]

President Obama’s Health Care push has suffered a couple of setbacks.  First they removed the end-of-life provision and Obama Joker Poster Artist Exposed As Liberal-Leaning Palestiniannow the President has removed the public option.

The Democrat and Liberal attempts at demonizing the American people having failed, President Obama could be beginning to understand that we don’t want socialized medicine.

Now come reports that the Obama Joker poster artist is a left-wing extremist, and a Dennis Kucinich supporter to boot.  Not the white, conservative, racist that the mainstream media was accusing the artist of being.

In other news CBS News has reported that the liberal-oriented A.A.R.P. has lost approximately 60,000 members since the video showing an A.A.R.P. representative belittling members at a town hall meeting.  The American Seniors Association has gained 5,000 new members, a rival organization to the A.A.R.P. and significantly less liberal.

CBS News reported that the A.A.R.P. response to the exodus of members as ‘with 40 million members that adds hundreds of thousands each month, losing 60 thousand is just a drop in the bucket.’

Update I:  I forgot to place the American Seniors Association weblink here.

Update II: The 60 Plus Association is experiencing a spike in members following A.A.R.P.’s endorsement of ObamaCare.

What We Are Learning About Obama From the Health Care Debacle

Obama Puzzle

I think one of the facts about Obama that will puzzle future historians is how a man so little known to the American public managed to win the White House.  The ObamaCare debacle has given us a grand opportunity to fill in the blanks regarding this man who came to the White House after just four years in the national spot light.  Much of what we have learned merely confirms what observant Obama watchers have already suspected, although confirmation is always useful.  Here is some of what I think we have learned about our President.

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"50 Best Catholic films of all time"

William Park (InsideCatholic.com) lists, in his judgement, “the fifty best Catholic movies of all time”.

Some readers, myself included, were very surprised by the absence of The Mission. A magnificent cast (including Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson); a play by Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons) — it has, in my estimation, one of the most powerful illustrations of penance and forgiveness in cinema.

The Mission deservedly won seven Academy Awards, and made the top 15 films under ‘Religion’ selected by the Vatican, commemorating 100 years of cinema.

So why didn’t it make the list? — the author doesn’t offer much of an explanation, save that “Bolt’s screenplay for The Mission looks at the Church from the point of view of Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor.” Steven D. Greydanus, however, explores the complexities and ambiguities of The Mission for DecentFilms.com.

Question for our readers: do you agree with the list? — Do you agree with Warren’s list? Any notable omissions? What would you have selected?

The Loss of Limits… the End of Art

A priest friend and I are reading through Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ posthumously-published work, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, and it’s been an enjoyable read thus far, even in the places where I disagree with the author.

For the purposes of this post, I wanted to share a citation which I found very intriguing regarding the impact on art of modernity’s flight from anything which might be remotely conceived of as limitation.

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Faithful Catholic college faces lawsuit over refusal to provide contraception

The president of a small Catholic college said Friday he would rather close the school’s doors than violate the church’s teachings on contraception — Ben Conery of the Washington Times has the story:

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Belmont Abbey College violated discrimination laws because the school’s employee health insurance plan does not cover contraception, according to a letter the EEOC sent to the school.

“I hope it would never get this far,” college President William K. Thierfelder told The Washington Times, “but if it came down to it we would close the college before we ever provided that.”

The factual conclusion reached by the EEOC could be a precursor to the commission filing a federal discrimination lawsuit against the college. (More).

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Google Is Watching Out For You!

From the only reliable news source on the net, the Onion.  In these days of the White House spamming people with unsolicited e-mails from the master of astroturfing, David Axlerod, in praise of Obamacare, perhaps the concept of privacy is a quaint 20th century notion.  However, there may be a way to have Google protect the privacy of its users.  Bribe the leadership of the People’s Republic of China (Red China) to require it.  Google has a history of giving lap-dog like obedience to edicts issued from Peking.

Update:  The White House has announced that, “We are implementing measures to make subscribing to e-mails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual’s behalf,” spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement tonight.  Translation from Obamaspeak:   “We thought we could get away with simply spamming everybody whose e-mail address we have.  Now that there is a fuss we’ll blame outside groups and pretend we are not at fault.”

Saint John Damascene: First Sermon on the Assumption

The Assumption

The first sermon of Saint John Damascene on the Assumption of the Mother of God:

[147] THE memory of the just takes place with rejoicing, said Solomon, the wisest of men; for precious in God’s sight is the death of His saints, according to the royal* David. If, then, the memory of all the just is a subject of rejoicing, who will not offer praise to justice in its source, and holiness in its treasure-house? It is not mere praise; it is praising with the intention of gaining eternal glory. God’s dwelling-place does not need our praise, that city of God, concerning which great things were spoken, as holy.† David addresses it in these words: “Glorious things are said of thee, thou city of God.” What sort of city shall we choose for the invisible and uncircumscribed God, who holds all things in His hand, if not [148] that city which alone is above nature, giving shelter without circumscription* to the supersubstantial Word of God? Glorious things have been spoken of that city by God himself. For what is more exalted than being made the recipient of God’s counsel, which is from all eternity? Continue reading

Coming to America

new-york-ellis-island1221413744
The US is a nation of immigrants, and as such, many of us grew up with stories of how our ancestors came here. In what I hope can be a friendly, Friday-afternoon atmosphere, the purpose of this thread is to allow people to tell stories about how and when their ancestors came to the US.

I can trace back three stories, some sketchier than others:

Irish Story
famine My paternal grandmother’s family all Irish stock from County Cork, who’d left during the Great Famine in the 1840s and settled in Iowa. Several men out of the next generation served the Union in the Civil War, and two generations after that, twin brothers Clare and Clarence, both priests, served as chaplains for US soldiers in the Great War. One of their sisters served as a nurse in the war as well.
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We Are Americans, Not Europeans

Isn’t it obvious that most of our American ancestors came over from Europe because they wanted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  They fled totalitarian regimes, socialist governments, and anti-Christian repression for the freedom that is afforded all Americans.

We have the best health care in the world precisely because it is not operated by the government.  Private industry drives innovation, government regulation or government-run health care eliminates innovation, awards bureaucrats, and ultimately leads to marginal health care in the long run.

We are Americans, not Europeans.  Yet President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and well-meaning liberals and progressives want to emulate European health care programs.  What Europeans have is not necessarily right nor good.

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Hath Melted Like Snow In The Glance Of The Lord

Assyrian Empire

 

I have never cared for Lord Byron, his poetry or the way he misled his life, with one massive exception.  From the first time I read this poem in grammar school it has had immense significance for me.

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

  Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

  For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

  And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

  And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

  And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord! Continue reading

Sleeping Giant Awakes and Democrats Blink

Today Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that senators are excluding a provision on end-of-life care from the House bill.  This is a major victory for ordinary Americans.

As senior citizens voice their displeasure with “death-panels” and other provisions in the House bill, the Democrat leaders are grudgingly realizing that maybe, just maybe, some provisions in their House bill will not pass with the American public.

The most recent polls show that the demonizing tactics of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have failed to cover the growing grassroots activism that is rising among ordinary Americans.

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Whole Foods Health Care

Whole Foods is headquartered here in Austin, TX, and I know a fair number of people who’ve worked there. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a good company to work for (so long as you’re comfortable with the “crunchy” culture) with especially good benefits for a food retail chain. So I was interested to see a piece in yesterday’s WSJ by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey advocating an approach to health care reform more similar to the benefits Whole Foods provides its employees. Although Whole Foods is seen as a progressive employer, Mackey’s suggestions are more along the lines of what innovative libertarians and conservatives have suggested for health care reform. (If the GOP scores a tactical victory in staving off the many bad ideas in the current health care reform proposal, one hopes they will exert themselves to actually bring something to the table this time, perhaps along these lines.) Extracting his main proposals:

Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
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The Scarlet and The Black

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

Here, at 8:39, in my opinion, is one of the more profound observations on film about the Catholic Church and History.  The evil that men do make many a blood stained page of History, but the Church survives throughout History as Caesars, Emperors, Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Commissars, Fuhrers, Caudillos, Duces, General Secretaries, would be fake messiahs, etc, pass away.

The Scarlet and the Black (1983) is one of the better films dealing with the Catholic Church.  Gregory Peck is brilliant as Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican, who during World War 2, hid 4000 escaped Allied POWs and Jews from the Nazi occupiers of Rome.  Christopher Plummer gives the performance of his career as Obersturmbanfuhrer (Colonel) Herbert Kappler, the head of the Gestapo in Rome.  John Gielgud gives a stunningly good performance as Pius XII.  At one point when he confronts a Nazi delegation he merely stares at them with steely disdain until they get the hint and leave.  I imagine the actual Pius XII used a similar look of disdain when, on March 11, 1940, his response to a complaint by the Nazi  Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop that the Church was siding with the Allies, was to read to Von Ribbentrop a long list of atrocities committed by the Nazis in Poland, which had been compiled by the Church.  This is a superb film that should be seen by every Catholic.

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Karen Novak, 1938-2009

Joseph Bottum @ First Things, relays the sad news:

Karen Novak slipped away this morning—a great artist, a good friend, the beloved wife of Michael Novak, and convivial presence at so many of our events.

You can find some of her artwork described on her website. But even they don’t capture her fun, her spirit, or how much we will miss her.

Please keep Michael Novak and his family in your prayers.

Witches, Essays, Agriculture and More

I was thinking of writing a lengthy piece over lunch, when I wrote up my task list and realized that “lunch” needed to be no more than twenty minutes long. So instead, I present a number of pieces that struck me as interesting lately, but which I don’t have a whole post worth of things to say about.

InsideCatholic just reprinted a lengthy piece by medievalist Sandra Miesel discussing the realities of witch burning in the Middle Ages through “Age of Reason”. It’s an article well worth the time to read, avoiding both the slanders of anti-Catholics and the overly rosy rebuttals used by some apologists.

Entrepreneur Paul Graham has an interesting essay on what an essay should be, why people ought to write them, and how high school English classes do a pretty poor job of teaching people this skill. Continue reading

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