Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Massachusetts Miracle: What Does It Mean?

Well Massachusetts has elected a Republican US Senator for the first time in 37 years.  What does this political upset of the century mean?

1.   ObamaCare is dead.  Not only because the Democrats now lack 60 votes to invoke cloture in the Senate, but because opposition to ObamaCare was the signature feature of Scott Brown’s campaign and the results of this race in bluest Massachusetts will send chills down the spine of too many Democrats.

2.   We now have further evidence that the Democrats are looking at a political storm of the first magnitude in the Fall.  If a US Senate seat in Massachusetts isn’t safe for the Democrats, it is hard to imagine what seat in Congress outside of urban centers they can take for granted in November.

3.   The fundraising success of Scott Brown over the internet was astounding.  A demonstration that the internet fundraising effort of the Democrats in 2008 now has a GOP counterpart.

4.   Look for a wave of Democrat retirements in Congress as more Democrats decide that ending their political careers with a voluntary retirement is preferable to defeat.

5.   More Blue Dog Democrats in Congress will follow the example of Congressman Parker Griffith and announce that they are switching to the Republican Party.

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The Politics of Hatred

Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts tonight prompted an acquaintance of mine to remind me of my prediction that the GOP was a doomed party. “So much for that prediction”, I was told.

Not so fast. My analysis, which I was toying with a year ago before and after Obama’s victory, was that demographic factors were threatening the long-term survival of the GOP. In spite of tonight’s spectacular victory for the GOP, I’m not quite ready to toss my analysis out the window just yet. The main reason is that I am not convinced that what I call “the politics of hate” can sustain either party.

What are the politics of hate? By that I do not mean that the platform of either party is based in a hateful ideology, though I’m sure many would find aspects of either that they would describe that way. What I mean is that I see what was once a tendency in politics becoming the obsessive, dominating factor – visceral hatred for the incumbent, regardless of the party he or she belongs to, and regardless of the party affiliation of the voters.

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The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way

Throughout the last few years and specifically the last decade or so, the voluminous number of kooky quotes and statements coming from religious believers (heterodox Catholics included) and non believers alike is mind boggling. It can’t but help push the reasonable minded into the Catholic Church. Most casual observers are familiar with the number of high profile converts and reverts to the Catholic Church in the last 25 years or so. They range from theological luminaries like Dr Scott Hahn and Dr Francis Beckwith to political figures like Deal Hudson, Laura Ingraham and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Many like them have come to the Church after years of study and reason, but many also have come to the Church after years of seeing their particular religious denomination become unrecognizable.

The latest world calamity has given us two examples of sheer kookery coming from a religious leader and a secular voice. After the horrific earthquake that left the western world’s most impoverished nation in tatters, the Reverend Pat Robertson chimed in with a quote that was not only tragically insensitive but historically inaccurate. The onetime presidential candidate (who actually came in second in the 1988 GOP Iowa Caucus) and a leading voice of the Evangelical world blamed the earthquake on Voodoo, a cult that sadly far too many people practice in Haiti.  Robertson voiced his opinion on his popular 700 Club television program. Robertson repeated the fundamentalist canard that in the early 1800s the leaders of a slave revolt fighting against French colonial forces forged a pact with the Satan to thrown off the chains of their oppressors.

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The Personhood Initiative

Deal Hudson at Inside Catholic wrote recently about the divisions in the pro-life movement over the Personhood Initiative, a nation-wide effort to legally define “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception. The testing ground for the initiative was Colorado, where the movement’s founder, an admirable 19 year-old by the name of Kristi Burton, hails from. The lowdown, according to Deal, is that,

Colorado voters turned down the amendment by a stunning 73 percent to 27 percent, in spite of support from Focus on the Family, American Life League, and legal advice from the Thomas More Law Center. But the effort had failed to gain the support of either National Right to Life (NRTL) or the Colorado Catholic Conference.

Whether or not that extra support would have resulted in a less unbalanced result, I cannot say. For those wondering why the Catholic Conference, and many American bishops are hesitant to embrace the PI, the concern was apparently that if it were taken to, and shot down by, the Supreme Court, it would have the effect of “actively reaffirm[ing] the mistaken jurisprudence of Roe.” According to Deal, however, some Catholic bishops are reconsidering their position on the PI.

Not long ago, in the context of the debate over the efforts of Bart Stupak and the pro-life Dems, I wrote about pro-life pragmatism. I argued that the much-derided “incrementalism” is actually the most viable way of winning the long-term war against the abortion industry in light of the facts about where the American electorate stands on abortion. With respect to the PI, and with all due respect to the founders and supporters of this movement, I must reaffirm that position.

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Massachusetts Predictions

Go here to see the last polls on the Senate race in Massachusetts.  The seat that is up has been in the hands of the Kennedy family since 1953, four years before my birth.   The last time the Republicans won a Federal senate race in Massachusetts was in 1972 when I was 15 years old.  Against all the odds Scott Brown has engineered the political upset of this century.  In November he trailed Martha Coakley by 30 points.  He has run a superb campaign and she has run an abysmal one, but the key issue has been his opposition to ObamaCare.  If ObamaCare is  a losing issue in Massachusetts, in what State in the Union can it be a winning issue?  Brown 52;  Coakley 47;  Kennedy 1.  That is my prediction.   What is yours?

Martin Luther King on When Not To Be Conservative

I have long been, and remain, a temperamentally conservative person. To my view, the ills created by radically overturning a social order are usually far greater than the benefits realized. And yet, there are times when justice demands change that is not gradual. One of the counter-examples I generally keep in mind to my Burkian conservative tendencies is this selection from Martin Luther King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, which a friend once emailed me during an extended discussion on conservative versus progressive mentalities:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

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Glory

“Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States.”

               Frederick Douglass

Blacks after the Civil War would be shamefully denied equal rights for a century.  However, that sad fact does not detract in the slightest from the heroism of black troops fighting to preserve a nation that had given them little reason to love it.  The great lesson of the Civil War is that we are all Americans, all part of this experiment in self-government, and it is a lesson to be remembered on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Intellectuals

Thomas Sowell has a new book about intellectuals that looks very interesting. The National Review has a review:

Sowell writes that it “was part of a long-standing assumption among many intellectuals . . . that it is the role of third parties to bring meaning into the lives of the masses.” Many people were shocked when in early 2008 Michelle Obama proclaimed, “Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. . . . That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.” Sowell probably just shook his head in knowing disgust.

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Abide With Me

Hattip to commenter Cathleen and her moving story of how Abide With Me was being sung on the radio by Katherine Jenkins as her sister died.  The song was written in a magnificent act of faith by Henry Lyte as he lay dying of tuberculosis.

In the movie A Bridge Too Far, wounded survivors of the British First Airborne Division are shown singing the song as they await capture by the Wehrmacht at the conclusion of Operation Market-Garden.

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Archbishop Niederauer Instructs Nancy Pelosi on Free Will, Conscience and Moral Choice

A few weeks ago I had posted my thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s scadalous Newsweek interview, in which she chalked up her disagreements with the Bishops on Catholic moral teaching as a “difference of opinion.” At the time I had expressed my curiosity (and honest frustration) as to when her local bishop, George H. Niederauer, would be moved to respond.

He has, and I am thankful for it:

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The Earth Charter: The Replacement of God with Man

“The Christian… imagines the better future of the human species… in the image of heavenly joy… We, on the other hand, will have this heaven on earth.” — Moses Hess, 19th century communist and mentor to Karl Marx.

It wasn’t too long ago that a co-blogger of mine suggested that the new environmentalism, especially what some might call the hysteria over climate change, was the new paganism. This accusation has been made frequently of the secular environmental movement. But this environmental movement is only one branch of what I am absolutely convinced is not only a “new paganism”, but a new religion of man. In previous posts I also wrote of a new religion centered around identity politics, and this too is but another branch.

Some of you may be familiar with “The Earth Charter.” Now, it isn’t necessarily that I believe everything on this list is an unworthy goal. But it deeply reflects a mindset and a world view in which God has been completely removed from the core, and is instead either regulated to the periphery or is entirely absent. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, we at least had reference to a Creator, and his other writings made clear that the rights and liberties of the people were essentially worthless if they did not believe that they had come from God, and that their violation would incur his wrath.

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Martha Coakley Fought To Keep Innocent People Behind Bars

That a Republican candidate is within reasonable striking distance of winning the US Senate seat which until recently was filled by the late Ted Kennedy underscores what a horrifically bad job the state Democratic Party did in selecting their candidate. State attorney general Martha Coakley has rapidly gained a national reputation for saying incredibly stupid things. As it turns out, however, there are serious reasons why no reasonable person, of either political party, should want to see Coakley in higher office.

Many remember the wave of bizarre day care child abuse cases which swept the country in the ’80s, featuring headline hungry prosecutors taking children to “recovered memory” counseling sessions in order to “discover” abuse which had been perpetrated upon them. Clinton era attorney general Janet Reno made her made her career, in part, by successfully prosecuting cases of ritual child abuse — which later turned out to be false charges.

One of the first of these highly publicized cases in which therapists extracted accusations of ritual abuse from very young children was the Amirault case in Malden, Massachusetts. Dorothy Rabinowitz (who received her 2001 Pulitzer Prize in part for her work in exposing ritual abuse witch hunts that resulted in false convictions) writes about how as Middlesex County district attorney, Martha Coakley fought to keep the surviving members of the Amirault family behind bars even it became clear that the charges against them were false: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Monteverdi – Dixit Dominus/Duo Seraphim

My two favorite parts from his Vespro della Beata Vergine, 1610. Monteverdi is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite composers, and this is why:

From the wiki: “The text Duo Seraphim (“Two angels were calling one to the other…”) begins as a duet. When the text (which melds lines from Isaiah and the Gospel of John) mentions the Trinity, a third tenor joins. All three sing in unison at the words, “these three are one.””

I own this version.

400 years ago exactly, Monteverdi wrote the songs of the angels, who give endless praise and glory to God. Today, unscrupulous, mediocre hacks write films about angels defying God. How far we have fallen!

Jesuitical 10: Campion Award to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Hattip to Midwest Conservative Journal The latest in my on-going series on the follies of some modern Jesuits.  Proving yet again that they have the charism of being impervious to irony, the editorial board of America magazine announced that they were awarding the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Campion Award.  Considering the fact that Saint Edmund Campion, SJ, was martyred for his efforts to give spiritual succor to Catholics unwilling to desert the Faith for the Church of England, one might think that even the denizens of the editorial board of America might regard this as a trifle odd.  However, it actually makes sense when you think about it.  First, it allows them to take a backhanded slap at the Anglican initiative of the Pope, and, second, what the Church of England has morphed into, a left wing pressure group with prayers, is frankly what America has been championing for years in the Catholic Church.  Their hopes have been crushed, but they can by this award salute Rowan Williams, and give another gesture to the Pope.

Mother Earth Strikes Back

Noted thinker Danny Glover one-ups Pat Robertson by claiming that “when we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this [the Haiti earthquake] is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?”

Video in the link.

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