4

Obama Greater Than Jesus

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Cult, what cult?  The Danish paper Politiken assures us that the South Side Messiah is greater than the real Messiah.

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 ‚Äď are few and far between. His greatest results have been created with words and speeches ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď which is something that the critics developed themselves ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď if we have to play that absurd Christmas game. But it is probably more meaningful to insist that with today‚Äôs domestic triumph, that he has already assured himself a place in the history books ‚Äď 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.

9

Auld Lang Syne and Dune

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!

7

What Virtue In False Promises?

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.

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4

Did Little Susie Like Her Present?

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!

11

Nancy Pelosi to Bishops on Abortion: I practically mourn this difference of opinion

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‚Äôt 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.

31

Alternate History: If Gore Had Won, Who Would Be President Now?

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.

22

Predictions for 2010

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.

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5

Predictions Old

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

4

Protests Turn Violent in Iran

(Updates at the bottom of this posting below)

Peaceful protests turned violent as Iranian authorities have authorized deadly force.  Thus far there are fifteen (15) reportedly killed in Tehran and four (4) in Tabriz. 

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.

The Islamic Iranian regime has barred all journalists, but pictures and footage have confirmed large demonstrations nationwide that have not been intimidated by the use of violent force.

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.

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8

Of Geese and God

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.

4

Pope Benedict Assaulted, Doing Fine

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.

4

Christmas Wishes from Hugo Chavez

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!

4

Good King Wenceslas

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.

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A Merry Christmas To Those Who Guard Us While We Sleep

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.

1

The Nativity

The thatch on the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind had a peal as of trumpets,
Though blowing and barren and cold,
The mother’s hair was a glory
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming
A child was born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered
A child is born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered,
Huge cities for ages laid low?
This at least‚ÄĒthat with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them,
‚ÄúA child is born.‚ÄĚ

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove,
Still the plumes stir around us, above us
The wings of the shadow of love:
Oh! Princes and priests, have ye seen it
Grow pale through your scorn;
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes,
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the stars of the heart,
And the wise men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new king is enthroned; yea, the sternest,
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things,
Still feels that high moment unfurling
Red glory of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed,
A child is born.

And thou, that art still in thy cradle,
The sun being crown for thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer,
Say, whence art thou come‚ÄĒwho art thou?
Art thou come back on earth for our teaching
To train or to warn‚ÄĒ?
Hush‚ÄĒhow may we know?‚ÄĒknowing only
A child is born.

G. K. Chesterton

Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas!

Here is the text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

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1

A Proclamation

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

2

Celtic Woman Singing Little Drummer Boy

Little Drummer Boy is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time and I surprisingly stumbled across the Celtic Woman version of this song.  Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble which I came across on YouTube earlier this year and they are delightfully good!

This version of the popular Christmas song has Gregorian chant in it, I’m not sure who scored this, but it works very well with Celtic Woman’s version of Little Drummer Boy.

Here is the original music by the Harry Simeone Chorale:

And finally here is the Vienna Boys Choir rendition of this song:

My favorite line of the song is “then He smiled at me“.

Gets me every time.

Long live Christ the King!

Have a blessed Christmas.

6

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Something for a Christmas Eve.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing combined with Renaissance Masters praising in paint Madonna and Child.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

9

A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

As an Illinois Republican I have little love for the Daley clan of Chicago.¬† However, I have always respected their political acumen.¬†¬†William Daley, Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000, where he was much too effective for my comfort in what should have been a big Republican year,¬†and brother of Richie the Lesser, current Mayor for Life of the Windy City, has an interesting column today in the Washington Post:

But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, “true” Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.

Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.

Despite this raft of bad news, Democrats are not doomed to return to the wilderness. The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan. (end of column)

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3

Marriage Improvement

It seems to me that marriage and family are probably the area in which different sub-cultures of our country have diverged most radically. Reading this New York Times feature about the author’s attempts to improve her marriage is in some ways a more alien experience than reading an anthropological study of some distant tribe. The instinct behind the exercise is laudable:

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I‚Äôve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married ‚ÄĒ truly married ‚ÄĒ slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn‚Äôt plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn‚Äôt applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly ‚ÄĒ some might say obsessively ‚ÄĒ at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

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20

Mao On White House Tree

Now what would Christmas be without a Mao ornament on the White House tree?  Call me provincial, but somehow an ornament of a Communist dictator responsible for the deaths of approximately 60 million Chinese strikes me as a tad out of place.

Perhaps it was donated by an admirer of Mao in the Obama administration?  Maybe Anita Dunn, the former White House Communications Director?

If an image of Mao must be on the White House Christmas Tree, I would suggest this one:

                       

1

It's a Wonderful Life-Updated Version

In the above video we have George Bailey, brilliantly played by Jimmy Stewart, attempting to stem a bank run during the Great Depression.  Just in time for Christmas the indispensable Iowahawk updates this story.  We join Senator George Bailey attempting to explain his support for ObamaCare to his angry constituents:

It’s A Wonderful Bill

(with deep apologies to Frank Capra)
**************

Scene 14: Christmas Eve, inside Bedford Falls Town Hall. Senator George Bailey confronts an angry mob of constituents protesting his vote on the new health care bill.
MAN #1
Come on Bailey, you can’t hide forever! Let us in!

WOMAN #1
Yeah, what is this mandatory insurance nonsense? Stop cowering behind that podium George! We want answers!

crowd erupts into shouting

GEORGE BAILEY
Now now now, everybody calm down, see? If you’ll, well, see, just let me explain…

MAN #2
You should’ve explained these death panels before we elected you! Let’s get ’em!

WOMAN #2 (shaking pitchfork)
Yeah!

MAN #3
Hey, pipe down youse mugs, let the man talk. It’ll be 15 minutes before the tar is hot enough to pour. Out with it Bailey!

GEORGE BAILEY
Well well, thank you for that Pete. Now folks, see, you just gotta understand how Washington works. Remember how you, you sent me there to bring back free things to Bedford Falls, like free heath care and jobs and that new George S. Bailey retractable midnight basketball court for the high school gym?

MAN #4
Hey Bailey, do know how many kids drowned at the prom last year from that stupid thing? 

GEORGE BAILEY
Well, now now now, Clem, sure a few kids drowned. But look at all the jobs it created down at the Potter Retractable Basketball Floor factory. And that’s my point. Now, see, down in Washington there’s a whole Senate full of regular guys like you and you, and me, and we represent thousands of places just like Bedford Falls. And all of those places want their own jobs and healthcare and retractable basketball courts. And it turns out all of this costs money, so we have to get, well, revenues…

WOMAN #3
You mean taxes?

GEORGE BAILEY
Well, yeah, Helen, if that’s how you want to put it. See, we put all those revenues in a, a, a, big pile there in Washington, and then we start making deals and such, to make sure we can all bring some home. Sometimes we run out, and have to make up for it with other fees…

MAN #2
You mean taxes? Why don’t you get it from Old Man Potter?

WOMAN #2
Yeah! Get it from Potter!

GEORGE BAILEY
Now, now, I hate old man Potter just as much as the rest of you. Maybe more. He lives in that cold old mansion up there on Beacon Hill, while you’re getting laid off and trying to make ends meet. It just isn’t right, and that’s why I organized the big ACORN march against him last year. But I’m telling you, even if we confiscated every penny he has, we couldn’t pay for your free universal health care. That’s why we have to charge you for some of it, and make sure you don’t use too much. But don’t worry, I sent my top trade representative Uncle Billy over to China to get a payday loan for the rest.

 Go over to Iowahawk here to read the whole hilarious thing.

18

Towards a Proper Appreciation of Liberation Theology, Some Resources from Pope John Paul II

In a recent post to Vox Nova, Michael Iafrate (aka. “The Catholic Anarchist”) offers a welcome reminder concerning Pope Benedict’s admonishment to the Brazilian bishops of “more or less visible consequences, of rebellion, division, dissent, offense, anarchy are still being felt, creating amidst your diocesan communities great pain and a grave loss of living strength”, stemming from “he non-critical import, made by some theologians, of theses and methodologies originating from Marxism.” To which Michael replies:

No where in this document, nor in either of the Vatican‚Äôs other two documents on liberation theology, does the Church condemn liberation theology as a whole. Nor does the Church even condemn all of the ideas of Marxism. John Paul II in fact used Marx very clearly in his encyclical Laborem Exercens. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Marxian themes can see Marx‚Äôs influence on John Paul II. Paul VI affirmed the compatibility of some forms of socialism with Catholicism and used Marxian terminology in his encyclical Populorum Progressio. In fact, by warning against ‚Äúa-critical‚ÄĚ uses of Marxism, the Church implies that critical use of Marxism is in fact acceptable, and this is what most liberation theologians in fact do. Indeed this is what official Catholic social teaching has done since the Second Vatican Council.

Once again, this is not a condemnation of liberation theology. It is merely a warning against certain tendencies. The only way one would know this, though, is to know the history of the disputes and to know the Vatican’s two previous texts on liberation theology neither of which condemn liberation theology in toto.

Finally, it is important to consider not only this message to the Brazilian bishops, but a message to the same bishops delivered by the Venerable John Paul II who insisted that liberation theology is ‚Äúboth useful and necessary.‚ÄĚ

Michael is certainly right that the Church has never condemned liberation theology in toto. (Nor has it condemned capitalism or capital punishment or sexual relations in toto, howbeit that is the impression one often receives reading the rantings of the fringe left and/or right, or even many presentations within the mainstream press which abandon, for the sake of a catchy headline or a cheap soundbyte, the carefully-nuanced position of the Catholic Church.

At any rate, as Michael wisely suggests, on the matter of “liberation theology” the remedy here would be a close study of the texts. For our readers’ benefit, a compilation of texts by Pope John Paul II himself.

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17

Bought

It seems like one thing that nearly anyone on any side of the political spectrum should be able to agree on is that Senator Nelson extracting a provision for the federal government to foot the entire unfunded liability for Medicaid in the state of Nebraska (and for no other state) in perpetuity as the cost of his agreeing to support the current Senate health care bill compromise is reprehensible in the extreme.

One would like to think that such decisions would be made, in a Republic, based on a senator’s understanding of whether a bill was actually good for the country as a whole — not based on bribery. Senator Nelson should be ashamed of himself, and so should the Senate leadership which agreed to provide such a buy-off.

26

60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

By a vote of 60-40 early this morning in the Senate, the Democrats, with not a Republican vote, voted to cede power to the Republicans in 2010.  The Democrats thought they were voting to invoke cloture on the ObamaCare bill, but the consequences of the passage of this bill, assuming that it passes the House, will likely be to transform a bad year for the Democrats next year into an epoch shaping defeat.  As Jay Cost brilliantly notes here at RealClearPolitics:

“Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It’s because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it’s obviously not ready! Yet that doesn’t matter. The President wants this out of the way¬†by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President – nothing more and nothing less.

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3

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.¬† In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.¬† In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.¬† It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.¬† The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:¬†¬†“Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:¬†¬†“Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world‚Äôs life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.¬† Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.¬† Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.¬† Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps¬†merely¬†one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

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12

Venerable Pope Pius XII

Pope Benedict has decreed Pope Pius XII Venerable which moves the hero Pope of World War II closer to sainthood.¬† I deem Pope Pius XII a hero because, confronting one of the cruelest tyrants in the lamentable chronicles of human crime, he saved hundreds of thousands of potential victims.¬† Millions of people alive today owe their lives to the actions of Pius XII.¬† Jewish historian Martin Gilbert, the world’s foremost authority on Sir Winston Churchill, and one of the most highly regarded historians of the World War II era, has stated as follows:

“Gilbert replied: “Please read my new book, ‘The Righteous.’ I’ve written extensively there about the Catholic Church, some of whose leaders played a remarkable part in the rescue of Jews, many of whose priests and […] ordinary Catholics played a remarkable part.”

“The Pope himself was denounced by Dr. Goebbels” — the Nazi propaganda minister — “for having taken the side of the Jews in the Christian message, in December 1942, where he criticized racism,” Gilbert said.

He continued: “The Pope also played a part, which I describe in some detail, in the rescue of three-quarters of the Jews of Rome, at very short notice, when the SS came in and tried to round up all 5,000, at least 4,000 of whom were given shelter in the Vatican itself and other Catholic places. …

“So I hope that my book can restore, in a way, on the foundation of historical fact, the true and wonderful achievements of Catholics in helping Jews during the war.” Continue Reading

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Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

(Updates at the bottom of this article.)

Harry Reid was able to make huge concessions to the state of Nebraska and bought Senator Ben Nelson’s vote a la Mary Landrieu.¬† The vote seems headed to the floor with all 60 votes secured to impose on American’s draconian laws that would hike insurance rates and begin the downward slope towards European style socialism.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

What’s in the bill that I’m aware of?¬† I’ve broken down the Washington Post article almost verbatim below:

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13

In Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Some swine in Auckland, New Zealand have decided to grab some cheap publicity by blaspheming the Mother of God at Christmas time.  If you want your blood to boil you may see a story about the blasphemy here.  Other than urging actions that a lawyer should not, I think the proper response to this is to repeat this prayer:

Act of Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
O blessed Virgin, Mother of God, look down in mercy from heaven, where thou art enthroned as Queen, upon me, a miserable sinner, thine unworthy servant. Although I know full well my own unworthiness, yet in order to atone for the offenses that are done to thee by impious and blasphemous tongues, from the depths of my heart I praise and extol thee as the purest, the fairest, the holiest creature of all God’s handiwork. I bless thy holy name, I praise thine exalted privilege of being truly Mother of God, ever virgin, conceived without stain of sin, co-redemptrix of the human race. I bless the Eternal Father who chose thee in an especial way for His daughter; I bless the Word Incarnate who took upon Himself our nature in thy bosom and so made thee His Mother; I bless the Holy Spirit who took thee as His bride. All honor, praise and thanksgiving to the ever-blessed Trinity, who predestined thee and loved thee so exceedingly from all eternity as to exalt thee above all creatures to the most sublime heights. O Virgin, holy and merciful, obtain for all who offend thee the grace of repentance, and graciously accept this poor act of homage from me thy servant, obtaining likewise for me from thy divine Son the pardon and remission of all my sins. Amen.

5

Senator Nelson Shoots Down Latest Compromise on Health Care Bill

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska said ‘no-go’ on the most recent health care bill that Harry Reid and the Democrats have compiled.¬† This most likely will derail President Obama’s efforts to have a Senate health care bill done by Christmas.

“As it is, without modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient,”

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7

Going Rogue

A guest post by Paul Zummo, originally posted at his blog, The Cranky Conservative.

It‚Äôs probably not a good idea generally to buy a book out of spite, but in some ways that is precisely what I did when I picked up Sarah Palin‚Äôs Going Rogue.¬† We had had a meeting at work, and several of my co-workers were amusing themselves with some anti-Palin jibes.¬† So at lunch time I decided to take a stroll to the local book store and pick up Palin‚Äôs book, prompting the ‚ÄúOh, Sarah Palin‚ÄĚ observation from the clerk, who must be wondering why anyone in the middle of enlightened Dupont Circle would be interested in the right-wing Neanderthal. And I have to admit that I also delayed reading the book until after I got home from Thanksgiving vacation so that I could proudly read the book on the Metro.

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11

Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before.  As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.

This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months.¬† So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.

With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service.  For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.

The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Amen.

Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.

Amen.

47

Humpty Dumpty Defines Conservatism

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
Humpty¬†Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t ‚Äď till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty¬†Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean ‚Äď neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll 

For whatever reason, adults on the internet often fall into relabelling each others politics with all the glee that second graders find in saying, “Am not!”, “Are too!”, “Am not!”¬†

Sometimes, it gets downright silly, as in this comment:

Hah! Nobody has yet addressed my basic point – American arch-liberals, direct offsprings of the Enlightenment, are under some illusion that they are “conservative”. Couldn’t be more wrong. As for me, I’m an old-style Christian Democrat with not much time for rights-based individualism, the so-called separation of church and state, lassez-faire¬†liberalism, or muscular nationalism. I’m a corporatist, I’m fully on baord¬†with Bendict’s world political authority, and I’ll take Catholic social teaching over American Calvinist economics any day, thank you very much.
 
Who is supposed to be the conservative again? 

Now, let’s think¬†for a moment on what “conservative” means, if you’re not Humpty¬†Dumpty. Continue Reading

5

The Bishop’s Wife

As we get closer to Christmas I am going to do a few posts on some of the more obscure Christmas movies I have enjoyed.¬† First up is The Bishop’s Wife from 1947.¬†¬†¬† David Niven is an Episcopalian Bishop of a struggling diocese;¬† Loretta Young (ironically one of the more devout Catholics in the¬†Hollywood of her time) is his wife; ¬†and Cary Grant is Dudley, one of the more unimportant angels in Heaven, sent by God to lend the Bishop a hand.¬† The film is a graceful comedy which effectively and quietly underlines the central¬†importance of faith in God as we see in this little scene:

 

The film is a gem and it is a joy to watch at Christmas time.

17

Bill Moyers: Good Riddance

Bill Moyers, the sanctimonious left winger who has gotten rich at the public trough at PBS, is wrapping up Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.¬† Moyers has adopted the pose of an above it all sage in the past few decades.¬† Actually, Moyers has always remained a go-for-the-jugular-partisan, as he was when, as one of LBJ’s flunkies, he helped put together the Daisy Girl¬†Commercial in 1964, the video above, which in essence stated that kids would die in a nuclear holocaust if Goldwater were elected.

My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has a do not miss send off for the Uriah Heep of PBS here.

17

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.¬† The¬†student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.¬† Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.¬† The school administration, in a move¬†which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child¬†be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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I'm Buying it For my Kid. Really!

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  One of the many joys of parenthood is that you get to play with quite a bit of really great stuff that is ostensibly purchased for your children.  Now that my youngest will be 15 in February of next year I realize that I am running out of this excuse.  I will have to find some other excuse to tide me over between the kids leaving the nest and the advent of grandchildren!

In regard to adults taking kid’s literature way, way too seriously, a wonderful spoof is Post Modern Pooh which I have found howlingly funny.¬† A first rate review is here.

4

The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

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14

Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

I’ve written about this before, but it’s nice to see Daniel Larison making the point with characteristic clarity in an interview with The Economist:

Iraq was also the policy that turned the public so sharply against President Bush prior to the 2006 mid-term elections, and those elections were and were correctly seen as a rejection of the war and Mr Bush’s handling of it. The war was the main issue of those elections, and the GOP lost control of Congress because it had identified itself completely with the war and its members in Congress continued to be its most vocal defenders. By national-security conservatives, I mean those members of the conservative movement who have a primary and overriding focus on foreign policy and national-security questions, and who typically take extremely hawkish positions. They were the leading advocates and cheerleaders for the invasion. Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.

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23

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.¬† It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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Military Mutiny Brewing in Iran?

When the Shah fell from power in 1979 it was after a year of strikes and demonstrations.  Revolutions in Iran tend to proceed at a stately pace.  After a stolen Presidential election in Iran in the late Spring, the Iranian regime found itself faced with an active and growing opposition.  The regime has been unable to crush it.  On December 7, huge demonstrations erupted throughout Iran on college campuses. Now cracks may be beginning to appear in an institution that is key for the survival of any dictatorship:  the military.  The below story was reported in Pajamas Media by Iranian exile Afshin Ellian, who fled Iran in 1983 and who is a law professor at the University of Leiden.  He is the sole source I can find for this report, so take it with a grain of salt.

On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population. The statement was signed by:

‚ÄĘPilots and personnel of the aviation division of the regular army (Havanirooz)
‚ÄĘCommanders and personnel of the 31th artillery division of Isfahan of the regular army
‚ÄĘPilots and airmen of the regular army
‚ÄĘTeachers of the Shaid Satari University of the regular air force
‚ÄĘOfficers and staff of the logistics training unit the regular army
‚ÄĘProfessors and lecturers of the Imam Ali University for officers of the regular army
‚ÄĘOfficers, staff, and commanders of the chief of staff of the regular army

In summary, they wrote:

Together we fought in the war with our brothers in the Revolutionary Guards in order to defend the country, the people, and the honor of the nation. They also emphasize that ‚Äúthe value of the land means the value of the Iranian nation.‚ÄĚ This is very interesting. ??Value of the nation.

Not abstract concepts such as Iran or Islam, but the value of the nation determines the value of the land. Therefore, the weapons of the army and RG are to be used to protect the nation: ‚ÄúWhen we fought together, we could never suspect that parts of the RG would ever use its weapons against the people.‚ÄĚ

The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: ‚ÄúThe army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.‚ÄĚ

They go on: ‚ÄúTherefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.‚ÄĚ

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