Monthly Archives: December 2009
We’re beginning the last year of a decade now, not starting a new one.
While we’re at it, I might as well revisit an oldie… the third millennium began on January 1st, 2001.
Blessed Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the Octave of Christmas, and Happy New Year!
He is provocative in insisting on an outstretched hand, where others only see animosity.
His tangible results in the short time that he has been active – are few and far between. His greatest results have been created with words and speeches – words that remain in the consciousness of their audience and have long-term effects.
He comes from humble beginnings and defends the weak and vulnerable, because he can identify himself with their conditions.
And no we are not thinking of Jesus Christ, whose birthday has just been celebrated – – but rather the President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama.
For some time now, comparisons between the two have been a tool of cynical opinion that quickly became fatigued of the rapture that Obama instilled prior to and after the presidential election last year.
From the start, Obama’s critics have claimed that his supporters have idolised him as a saviour, thus attempting to dismantle the concrete hope that Obama has represented for most Americans.
The idea was naturally that the comparison between Jesus and Obama – which is something that the critics developed themselves – would be comical, blasphemous, or both.
If such a comparison were to be made, it would, of course, inevitably be to Obama’s advantage.
Today, his historic Health Reform is being passed through the American Senate – a welfare policy breakthrough that several of his predecessors have been unable to manage.
Despite all the compromises, it has finally been possible to ensure something so fundamental, as the right of every American not to be financially shipwrecked when their health fails them. Add to that the biggest ever financial support package in America’s history, a major disarmament agreement and the quickest-ever re-establishment of American reputation.
On the other hand, we have Jesus’ miracles that everyone still remembers, but which only benefitted a few. At the same time, we have the wonderful parables about his life and deeds that we know from the New Testament, but which have been interpreted so differently over the past 2000 years that it is impossible to give an unequivocal result of his work.
Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus – if we have to play that absurd Christmas game. But it is probably more meaningful to insist that with today’s domestic triumph, that he has already assured himself a place in the history books – a space he has good chances of expanding considerably in coming years.
Without, however, ever attaining the heavens….
I can’t even get angry at this. Stupidity of this magnitude is to be laughed at, not to be enraged at. Suffice it to say that the fools who wrote this did Obama no favors.
Auld Lang Syne from the Scottish Parliament, proving once again that most politicians cannot sing to save their souls. At least it was done on the tax dime of the Scots and not us! At any rate, have the happiest of New Years.
Clan McClarey will be spending this New Year’s Eve in our traditional New Year’s Eve activities: eating snacks, and watching Dune, a movie so bad that it is good!
Who cannot laugh at such unintenionally hilarious lines of diaglogue as :
Muad’Dib: Gurney, when the storm hits… set off the atomics. I want an opening through the entire Shield Wall. Stilgar, do we have wormsign?
Stilgar: Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen.
Paul Atreides: Father… father, the sleeper has awakened!
Piter De Vries: It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
Paul Atreides: Shield practice? Gurney… we had practice — this morning… I’m not in the mood.
Gurney Halleck: Not in the mood?! Mood’s a thing for cattle and love play… not fighting.
Paul Atreides: I’m sorry Gurney.
Gurney Halleck: Not sorry enough.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen: He who controls the spice, controls the universe!
Stilgar and the Fremen: Hmmm. Shai-hulud.
Feyd-Rautha: I will kill him!
Alia Atreides: And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!
Put into a very good mood we toast the new year with egg nog and retire. See you all in 2010!
One of the things that strikes me repeatedly watching the global warming debate (especially in the lead-up to and in the wake of the Copenhagen conference) is the incredible amount of excitement people have about trying to get countries to make commitments in regards to CO2 emissions which they obviously are not going to keep.
For instance, in discussing their hopes for Copenhagen, a number of environmentalists expressed hope that there would not be another “do nothing” commitment such as the Kyoto Accord — despite the fact that even those countries which did agree to Kyoto had not managed to keep those very modest commitments. The goals that environmentalists did very much want to see committed to (generally a 80-90% global drop in CO2 emissions within somewhere between 10 and 40 years) are far more aggressive, and thus far more unrealistic.
From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. Ah, the perennial problem of shopping for relatives you have met maybe once or twice, and trying to remember that the cute niece who just last year it seems was five years old is now 22 and probably is not still playing with dolls! Fortunately my wife keeps the situation under control so I do not appear completely out of touch in my gift selections. Hmmm, now that I think about it, my wife did request a tea kettle for Christmas. Onion, you are a life saver! Too late for Christmas, but not for her January birthday!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interviewed in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which she had the opportunity to set the bishops straight on the participation of Catholics in public life.
I think you have had some brushes with [church] hierarchy.
I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.
Is it difficult for you to reconcile your faith with the role you have in public life?
You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that’s a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf applies the necessary fisking and muses: “I cannot fathom why she hasn’t been told she must not receive Holy Communion. How much more public scandal does she have to give before the bishops of the places where she resides take concrete action?”
My thoughts exactly. Note that she has already received an admonishment from the Holy See and an invitation to “converse” from San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer.
This started as an attempt to annoy a somewhat too Obama-struck Democrat on Facebook, but I think the question is an interesting one to play with at this point:
Imagine that Gore had been given Florida in the 2000 election and was thus elected president. How would subsequent history have been different? Who would be president now? (Would anyone outside of Illinois have heard of Obama?)
I’ll provide my initial thoughts in the comments in order to keep the playing field level.
Here are my predictions for 2010. I hope I have a better track record than I did for my predictions for 2009.
1. The Republicans will take back the House in November, either outright on election day, or through party switches between election day and the swearing in of the new Congress in 2011.
2. The Republicans will take back the Senate in November, either outright on election day, or through party switches between election day and the swearing in of the new Congress in 2011. I am assuming that Joe Lieberman will caucus with the Republicans if the Republicans have 50 seats.
3. The economy will continue in the doldrums next year with the unemployment rate not getting lower than 9%.
4. Regime change will occur in Iran with the Mullahs being toppled by a popular insurrection.
5. Pope Benedict’s Anglican Initiative will prove amazingly successful with ever increasing numbers of Anglicans and Episcopalians swimming the Tiber to participate.
Some people on the Left are beginning to understand just what a disaster Obama is turning out to be for them. Go here to read this interesting column by a fellow who can clearly see the electoral iceberg to which Obama is steering. Content advisory: the author is an academic and a Leftist, so there is some jejune profanity
Last year some of the contributors for The American Catholic made predictions for 2009 here. Here is how I did:
1. Bailout mania will continue, with the federal government adding 1.5-2 trillion dollars to the national debt in 2009.
Close. The deficit for this year was actually 1.4 trillion.
2. Two cabinet members in the new administration will resign in 2009. (Make that one cabinet member. I was counting Bill Richardson in my total and he withdrew as Commerce Secretary today because of an ongoing corruption investigation against him.)
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for secretary of HHS due to failure to pay his taxes in full.
3. After he is forced out through impeachment and conviction, Blagojevich will spill his guts to Fitzgerald in a desperate attempt to forestall a criminal indictment of his wife and to gain sentencing leniency for himself.
Well Blago was impeached and convicted and thrown out of office as governor of Illinois, but he hasn’t sung yet.
4. As a result of Blagojevich singing, Fitzgerald will open a series of new investigations on numerous Illinois politicians.
Fitzgerald throughout the year has continued to wage his one man war against the sickening political corruption in my state, but he has received no information from Blagojevich, other than what Blago blabbed when he was secretly taped. Continue reading
(Updates at the bottom of this posting below)
More details have filtered in that some Iranian policemen have refused to fire on the protesters. The hated Basiji Militia headquarters is up in flames and more reports of unconfirmed deaths from all over the country of Iran are pouring in view various media outlets.
Among those killed is the nephew of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leader of the burgeoning opposition as well as the leading vote getter in the last election which was hijacked by the clerical ruling class. Ali Habibi Moussavi, the nephew, was shot in the chest and died at the hospital. Details are still sketchy.
Some showed huge crowds chanting slogans attacking President Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
President Obama has failed to respond to the growing violence in Iran outside of a standard White House response from Washington of a bland condemnation of “violence”. His hesitancy has betrayed many in the Iranian opposition to the point that if there is a regime change the opportunity to build again good relations with Iran diminishes each day as our president dawdles away in his luxurious resort home in Hawaii.
(Biretta Tip: Lucianne)
I had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning as my family and I were readying ourselves to go out of town to see a movie. Flights of several hundred geese in their V formations flew over the town of Dwight, Illinois, heading south and honking their heads off. This was at 8:00 AM and no doubt some of the citizenry who had made merry on Christmas did not find all the honking welcome, but I thought it was delightful and awe-inspiring. Dwight is not on any major migratory flight paths for geese, so this was a rare event. As I do whenever I see something in nature that inspires awe in me, I quickly thought of the Creator of nature, and I mused that after celebrating the Nativity yesterday, God deigning to become part of Nature, this sight reminded me of the delight that God takes in His creation, and why He marks the sparrow’s fall, and the honking of a goose.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pulled down by a woman during the Christmas vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. In the video you can see the woman jump the barrier and instantly you see Vatican security react but the distance between the Pope and the barrier was small enough for the woman to bring down the Pope.
Along the way Roger Cardinal Etchegaray also fell as the woman barreled her way towards Papa Bene and through Cardinal Etchegaray. The good French Cardinal is currently still hospitalized with a broken hip.
Pope Benedict immediately got up and proceeded to celebrate Mass as the congregation clapped joyfully seeing that Papa Bene was unharmed (not shown in the video).
Vatican security is reviewing their procedures amid this recent break down in security. But keeping in balance the Pope’s access to his sheep to his safety is a delicate task. Father John Zuhlsdorf has floated the idea of bringing back the sedia gestatoria, the portable papal throne where adequate lines of men would flank the chair bearers.
Preliminary reports have suggested this is the same woman, identified as Susanna Maiolo a Swiss-Italian, also jumped a barrier at an earlier papal procession but was tackled before she could reach Papa Bene. It has been reported that Miss Maiolo appears to be unbalanced, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
Finally the Vatican will pardon her for her attack on the pope and offer leniency (in any future prosecution I assume).
To read the Zenit news blurb on the attack on the Pope click here.
To read Father John Zuhlsdorf’s suggestion for a return to the sedia gestatoria click here.
To read what a sedia gestatoria is by the The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912 version) click here.
To read a more contemporary definition of the sedia gestatoria by Wikipedia click here.
To read the pardon of Susanna Maiolo by Samuel Goldsmith of the New York Daily News click here.
Surely every parent has moments when he or she think that the toy obsession at Christmas has got far out of control. Some turn to religion, seeking to “put the Christ back in Christmas”, but that big, cuddly man of the people Hugo Chavez has a better idea:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for an end of Christmas “consumption insanity” and replace presents for children with stories about national independence hero Simon Bolivar, local media reported.
“For the love of God, let’s halt this, let’s put the brakes on this consumerist, capitalist insanity, that leads us to lose our spiritual values,” said Chavez.
Chavez suggested to stop buying toys “that as mothers and fathers we are practically forced” to buy. He also said that there is little sense in buying new clothes each December before Christmas Eve as these sales do not benefit the small merchants, but “their owners, the wealthy, the big distributors that make a bundle squeezing people.”
“Let’s sit with the children and tell them stories of Bolivar, of the motherland,” the Venezuelan President said, adding that he makes this appeal from his heart “to put aside these vices.”
Somehow, I’m not sure that “Bolivar and the motherland are the reason for the season” has quite the same ring to it. But surely Chavez’s heart is in the right place.
Have a happy Boxing Day/St. Steven’s Day/ Second Day of Bolivar!
Something for the weekend and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ. Good King Wenceslas has always been one of my favorite Christmas Hymns. We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man. The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works. Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out that prime command of Christ: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The video above is my favorite of the three I have posted, replete with images of Saint King Wenceslas. However, the Irish Rovers add their own Celtic lilt.
Hattip to Big Hollywood. A film clip from Battleground (1949), a rousing tribute to the heroic stand of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne at Christmas 1944, which helped turn the tide of the Battle of the Bulge. We should always be mindful of the men and women in our military who are far from their families today, celebrating Christmas often in dangerous situations. May God bless them and keep them, and may we always remember the sacrifices they make for us.