5

Liberation of Rome

Today is the 66th anniversary of the D-Day landings.  If the D-Day landings hadn’t occurred, the big news would have been the liberation of Rome.  The above video is color footage showing the entrance of some of the American troops into Rome on June 5, 1944, and an audience they had with Pope Pius XII.

The Pope, like almost all Romans, was joyous to be free from Nazi occupation, and he made that clear when he met with General Mark Clark.

“A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””

3

The Human Impact of Charter Schools

A WSJ article from last week puts a human face on the difference that charter schools can make for “at risk” students:

In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways.

This fall, Ivan will enter the University of Oklahoma, armed with a prestigious scholarship. “I want to be the first Hispanic governor of Oklahoma,” declares the clean-cut 18-year-old, standing on the steps of Santa Fe South High School, the charter school in the heart of this city’s Hispanic enclave that he says put him on a new path.

Laura, who is 17, rose to senior class president at Capitol Hill High School, a large public school in the same neighborhood. But after scraping together enough credits to graduate, Laura isn’t sure where she’s headed. She never took college entrance exams.

The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.

At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance policy.
[read the rest]

61

Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16!

The college football 2010 expansion scramble is on!

The Pac-10 is flexing their muscle for the first time in many years and I’m not talking about winning championships, I’m talking about dinero, mullah, the almighty dollar!

As I have mentioned previously, the Pac-10 will not expand unless it includes Texas or Colorado.  Not Utah or BYU.

Colorado brings in the Denver metropolitan T.V. market and Texas brings in… the entire state of Texas with a nationwide following that is only eclipsed by the University of Notre Shame Dame.

So what has happened since then?

To summarize all the rumors these past three days, the Pac-10 will take Texas, Colorado, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.

But the Pac-10 needs to hear from those schools, specifically Texas, before the end of 2010 in order to be in a position to negotiate a new television contract for their college football programs.

Wow!

This is beyond what I expected but it certainly is intriguing and prudent.

It’s prudent because Texas wants Texas A&M in ANY scenario available.  The Big-10 didn’t bring Texas A&M to the table in prior rumors and that is why those rumors died down.

How did this all come about?

There were various variables that occurred simultaneously to bring us to this point.

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20

Juden Raus!

Helen Thomas, the Deaness of the Washington Press Corps, delivered the above charming sentiments at a Jewish Heritage Celebration at the White House on May 27.  Thomas has been a left wing loon forever, and has always been hostile to Israel, but here she let the mask slip to reveal the bigot within.  She later made a perfunctory apology for saying what she obviously believes with all her heart.

3

C.S. Lewis on Anscombe, France, and Meritocracy

Perusing the local used bookstore last weekend, I came across a copy of the Third Volume of the Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis. On the whole (or, rather, through the first hundred pages or so), they make an enjoyable light read, at least for Lewis fans. He is always readable and often insightful. Moreover, the letters offer an interesting window into life in mid-twentieth century England. It’s rather striking that six years after the end of the Second World War, common items like envelopes and certain foods were still either rationed or unavailable (many of the letters are expressions of thanks to sympathetic American friends who have sent Lewis one package or another). Here, in no particular order, are a few passages I found either amusing or interesting:

Writing to a U.S. Friend About the Korean War

“Seriously, though, we all sympathize with you in the position into which you have been forced; it’s all very well to call it a UNO war, but so far as I can gather, it is a USA war. Have you noticed the French contribution? One gunboat!”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….

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Land of Hope and Glory

Something for the weekend.  I cannot leave our loyal readers with only the caterwauling of Nero/Ustinov as their musical treat for the weekend.  My oldest son recently graduated from high school and Pomp and Circumstance, as usual, was played.  In England they have the patriotic song Land of Hope and Glory set to the same tune.  Here it is sung by the legendary Vera Lynn, whose unforgettable voice  did so much to keep up the spirit of the British forces during WWII that she was acclaimed as the Sweetheart of the British Forces, a title which has recently passed to the Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins for her tireless efforts to entertain the British troops serving in Afghanistan. Continue Reading

2

Worst Musical Moment in Film History

Something for the weekend.  Of course the whole purpose of the above scene from Quo Vadis (1951) was to demonstrate what a deluded buffoon Nero was, but the singing, if one can call it that, by Ustinov still has top place in my musical hall of shame.

The Roman writer and bon vivant Petronius had served as Nero’s arbiter of taste.  When he learned that Nero had decided to take his life he committed suicide.  Before he did however, he sent Nero a letter attacking him.  The letter is lost to history, but the novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz gave voice to the probable sentiments contained in it in his novel Quo Vadis: Continue Reading

7

Christie to Teachers Union: You Punch Them, I Punch You

There was a time when unions were needed.

Today not so much.

The New Jersey Educational Association (NJEA)  represents what is wrong with this country and this is entitlement.

Governor Chris Christie needs your help to eliminate the cancer that is the NJEA.

Please pray for him and the people of New Jersey as they engage the culture of entitlement.

_._

(Biretta Tip:  Notes on the Culture Wars)

13

Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part I

In 1941 the film Sergeant York was released.  A biopic on the life of America’s greatest hero of WWI, it brought together two American originals:  Alvin C. York and the actor Gary Cooper.

York arrived in this world on December 3, 1887, the third of the eleven children of William and Mary York.  He was born into rural poverty.  Although both of his parents were quite hard-working, the Yorks lived in a two-room log cabin at a subsistence level.  None of the York children received more than nine-months education, as their labor was desperately needed to farm the few hard scrabble acres that the Yorks owned and to hunt for food to feed the large family.

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46

U.S. Involvement in The Great Game Realpolitiks in Gaza

With the news of Israel’s blockade of Gaza still hot all around the world because of the Israeli attack on the activist boats- I think it is important to look back and assess how we have got to this point of chaos, confusion and rage.

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5

Inventing Jesus

Ross Douthat has a good post on his NY Times blog responding to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the search for “the historical Jesus”.

James Tabor, a professor of religious studies, in his 2006 book “The Jesus Dynasty,” takes surprisingly seriously the old Jewish idea that Jesus was known as the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera—as well attested a tradition as any [emphasis mine — RD], occurring in Jewish texts of the second century, in which a Jesus ben Pantera makes several appearances, and the name is merely descriptive, not derogatory.

The whole problem with two centuries worth of historical Jesus scholarship is summed up in those seven words: “As well attested a tradition as any.” Because obviously if you don’t mind a little supernaturalism with your history, a story about Jesus being a Roman soldier’s bastard that dates from the second century — and late in the second century, at that — is dramatically less “well attested” than the well-known tradition (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that Jesus was born of a virgin married to Joseph the carpenter, which dates from the 70s or 80s A.D. at the latest, when the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were composed. Bracket the question of miracles, and there’s really no comparison: Giving the Roman soldier story equal weight with the accounts in Matthew and Luke is like saying that a tale about Abraham Lincoln that first surfaced in the 1970s has just as much credibility as a story that dates to the 1890s (and is associated with eyewitnesses to Lincoln’s life).

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The Nuclear Option

It was September of 1966, and gas was gushing uncontrollably from the wells in the Bukhara province of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. But the Reds, at the height of their industrial might, had a novel solution. They drilled nearly four miles into the sand and rock of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, and lowered a 30-kiloton nuclear warhead — more than half-again as large as “Little Boy,” the crude uranium bomb dropped over Hiroshima — to the depths beneath the wellhead. With the pull of a lever, a fistful of plutonium was introduced to itself under enormous pressure, setting off the chain reaction that starts with E = MC2 and ends in Kaboom! The ensuing blast collapsed the drill channel in on itself, sealing off the well.

The Soviets repeated the trick four times between 1966 and 1979, using payloads as large as 60 kilotons to choke hydrocarbon leaks. Now, as the Obama administration stares into the abyss of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and a slicker of sweet, medium crude blankets the Gulf of Mexico, slouching its way toward American beaches and wetlands, Russia’s newspaper of record is calling on the president to consider this literal “nuclear option.”

As well he should. It’s a little less crazy than it sounds. The simple fact is that the leak has confounded all conventional efforts to quell it, forcing British Petroleum and its federal overseers to resort to a series of untested, increasingly unwieldy, and heretofore unsuccessful backup plans as the American people’s impatience and rage grow at geometric rates. In the madness that is Deepwater Horizon, The Bomb may be the sanest choice.

More.

74

Israel Confronts the Freedom Flotilla

NOTE: This roundup will be continuously updated with further information

This past Memorial Day weekend, “Israel boarded a Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and killed an indeterminate number of innocent bystanders as they attempted to take control international waters.”

Well, at least that’s the take of Henry Karlson of Vox Nova — who appears to be taking his talking points from Egyptian passenger Hazem Farouq:

“It was hell on the sea. I saw Israeli soldiers killing activists in cold blood and then walking on their bodies … The Israeli soldiers sprayed bullets as if they were a mafia in an American film.”

Unfortunately, as with such accounts of Israel’s actions, the facts tend to get in the way. Let’s examine the various claims of this Catholic blog regarding what happened this weekend … Continue Reading

24

Some Information You Should Know About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (From Jewish Voice For Peace)

It is always time to step back and review the record whenever a discussion starts up on “what’s the deal with that crazy Israel/Palestine conflict?”.  It is tiresome to be on the losing end of the political fight in shaping American policies regarding the Middle East- It is maddening to have to always be on the defense against the charges of anti-Semitism when one is highly critical of the policies of the State of Israel- especially when being anti-Semitic as in being anti-Arab is all the rage today, while being anti-Jewish is one of the worst things any American could be accused of. I am bold in my own words and deeds on this issue because I have nothing to hide, no shameful anti-Semitism, no axe to grind, no family connections- just a strong desire to see the Holy Land be a place that is humane and just, and to see to it that my own nation is a contributor to a positive outcome for the peoples of the Middle East.  That’s it- that’s my storyline- that’s my truth.

I don’t hate America, I hate the sin but love the sinner.  I love my nation but I hate when my nation does something in my name as an American citizen that I believe is really evil, really stupid, or both. It is a glaring fact that America has been the #1 ally and supporter of the State of Israel- both in economic and political terms. This fact of life is not missed by those who believe that the State of Israel has been the primary agent of violence and injustice in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Iagree with this perspective, and I want to change the reality because it is the right thing to do, and many lives all over the region, and even here in the U.S. are in present or potential harm’s way due to some really bad, one-sided, and misguided policies emanating from Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

I am not going to run over my own story of the time I spent with Archbishop Elias Chacour of Ibillin, Galilee  many years ago- and what I saw in Hebron at that time. And I am not going to run down the list of books I have read to get additional background to the Conflict which has shaped and emboldened my position on this important Catholic and American issue. I am not going to take the chance of being charged with any sort of anti-Semitism with this blog entry because I am going to use a source that is decidedly Jewish. I want an elevated discussion to get going and I don’t want my Catholicism to get into the way- one could (I suppose) make the charge that the organization Jewish Voice For Peace is full of self-loathing Jews, who hate Israel, hate themselves- whatever.  But I think they can manage such charges for themselves- I met some of them when I used to visit San Francisco frequently- they seemed pretty secure in themselves. I think they are a good source of information and here they provide a primer on the Israel-Palestine Conflict 101  (from Jewishvoiceforpeace.org):

Continue Reading

16

The Values of the Word

I have to tip my blogging cap to the Lying Worthless Political Hack, aka Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House.  Everytime I think she has hit bottom, she somehow manages to dig down a bit further.    On May 6 she made this statement in a speech to the Catholic Community Conference:

“They ask me all the time, ‘What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that? What is your favorite that?’ And one time, ‘What is your favorite word?’ And I said, ‘My favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is the Word, is the Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of the Word.”
 

“And that Word,” Pelosi said, “is, we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers everything. The Word.
 
“Fill it in with anything you want. But, of course, we know it means: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ And that’s the great mystery of our faith. He will come again. He will come again. So, we have to make sure we’re prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up.”

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Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

During his press statement last week, President Obama said that in dealing with the recent oil spill in the Gulf, he was “examining every recommendation, every idea that’s out there, and making our best judgment as to whether these are the right steps to take, based on the best experts that we know of.”

That, however, is not entirely true:

A St. Louis scientist who was among a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been removed from the group because of writings on his website, the U.S. Energy Department confirmed Wednesday.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Though considered a leading scientist, Katz’s website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings have stirred anger in the past and include postings defending homophobia and questioning the value of racial diversity efforts.

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84

Israel vs. the "Freedom Flotilla"

I’m generally sympathetic to Israel. Despite its faults, it’s one of the most stable and liberal regimes in the region, and many of its critics fail to account for the corrosive effect on the national consciousness of being surrounded by peoples who want them exterminated and routinely take steps (however ineffective) to visit random violence upon them.

However, while it’s easy to understand their seige mentality, this doesn’t mean that this mentality does not at times cause them to go to far and put themselves in the wrong. In this regard, I think Megan McArdle has a pretty good and balanced response to the attack on the “Freedom Flotilla”: Continue Reading

20

Alternate History: What If Lincoln Allowed Secession?

An exchange on my personal blog over yesterday’s post about Gettysburg swerved into a question which I imagine our history-minded readers would enjoy commenting on: What would things look like today if Lincoln had simply allowed the CSA to leave and recognized it as a separate country?

Given Lincolns character and beliefs, this seems almost impossible to imagine, but these sorts of alternative history exercises can be an interesting diversion, if only because they make us think about the interconnectedness of history. A few thoughts of my own:

One of the major questions there would, of course, be: Which CSA?

The deep south seceded immediately after Lincolns election, but the mid and upper south didn’t secede until after Lincoln responded to the attack on Fort Sumpter with a call for the states to raise militias.

Personally, I think you’d also have to imagine that a Union which let the South secede would probably have broken up further over the following 60 years. Once the precedent for peaceful secession was made, it would be an obvious answer to regional tensions between East and West, etc.

A final factor which shouldn’t be overlooked: If the CSA had been left independant, Wilson would clearly never have become president of the US — and the presidency of Wilson (who said his earliest memory was of huddling with his family in the steeple of his father’s Presbyterian church and watching the flames of Sherman’s army passing through Georgia) was one of the formative influences on the US in the 20th century and on the modern Democratic Party.

4

Palin Derangement Syndrome

Hattip to my friend Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  One of the bright spots in life during the ongoing disaster that is the Obama administration is the way in which so many people, most, but certainly not all, Leftists, completely beclown themselves when the subject of Sarah Palin arises.  Case in point:  the Washington Post has a reporter David Weigel who reports for the dwindling Post readership on that small, only 40% of the American public, cult known as American conservatives.  The column is always good for a dose of unintentional humor, but on May 25, 2010 Weigel outdid himself.  Responding to the news that Sarah Palin had welcomed stalker  journalist, Joe McGinniss, who decided to rent a house next door to Palin as he is preparing an anti-Palin tome, with this light-hearted response, Weigel thundered that Palin was “despicable” for being a bit put out.  As Paul Zummo notes, 

A journalist rents a house next door to Sarah Palin with the sole intent to write a book about her, Sarah Palin writes some fairly tongue-in-cheek things in response to this development, and it the latter who is “despicable?”

Gee, I wonder why the Washington Post has roughly zero credibility at this point.

The indispensable Iowahawk explains what is going on for us in the daffy world of Palin obsession:

Knockity knock!

Oh hi there! I was out shooting caribou on the Arctic Cat and saw your synapse lights on, and so I said to myself, “now, gosh darn it, Sarah, you’ve been living inside this nice person’s cerebral cortex for, what is it, almost two years now? By golly, it’s about time you dropped in at their frontal lobe with a plate of your famous homemade Alaska welcome wagon cookies and introduced yourself.” So anyhoo, I sure hope you like ’em. Don’t want to give out a family recipe, but the secret ingredient is baby seal. I clubbed ’em fresh this morning!

Oh my goodness… you look kind of confused. I get that a lot! You were probably thinking, “hey, I only wanted to move next door to Sarah Palin — now what in the goshdarned heck is she doing inside my brain?” Well ya see, the deal is I’m not Sarah, but boy I gotta tell ya, we sure do get mistaken all the time! No, I’m just a plain ol’ homunculus Sarah Palin that your own id created to sublimate your deep-seated psychosexual neuroses. Or so those egghead books say, anyway. But if you ask me that sure sounds like a lot of elite Anti-America liberal professor gobbledegook! By the way, your id says hi.
Gosh darn it, where the heck are my manners? Here I am, gabbing away, like some plainspoken chatty old chatterbox, while you’ve probably got things to do. I imagine you’ve got an important op-ed or comedy skit to write about that other Sarah Palin, the one from corporeal reality. And why she’s irrelevant and ridiculous and such. Oh no, don’t worry, I won’t take it personal. After all I’m not her, remember? Though I bet it can probably get confusing trying to keep straight which one of us is which, and who really said what. Tell you what — why don’t you just take the cookies as my gift, and I’ll drop by later when it’s more convenient. Or, if you like, I’ll just be on my way and let you live in peace. You tell me. After all, I’m really only a figment of your imagination. Just stop thinking about me, and poof — I’ll mush the ol’ dogsled straight back to your subconscious forever.

Alright, if you insist! Like they say, you should never be too busy to visit with those obsessive hallucinations who live in your head. Now you go brew up a hot pot of Folgers, and I’ll take the Saran wrap off those cookies. Mind if I take a quick look-see around while you’re fiddling in the kitchen?  I gotta say this sure is a beautiful anterior conscious you’ve got here! I absolutely love the open floor plan. It reminds me a lot of Andrew Sullivan’s brain. How many square feet did you say? So spacious and clean and open minded, with the neutral colors. I could really see myself in a place like this, especially with a few moose heads and Eskimo dolls to brighten things up.  

Say now, that’s one heckuva bookshelf you’ve got! Mind if I browse? Not much of a reader myself, other than the good book of course… let’s see… 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Sarah Palin… Going Rouge: An American Nightmare … Sarah Palin’s Secret Diary … Terminatrix: The Sarah Palin Chronicles … The Lies of Sarah Palin … Thanks But No Thanks: A Voter Guide to Sarah Palin … You Betcha!: The Witless Wisdom of Sarah Palin … Hockey Mom: Sarah Palin’s Shot at Glory … Going Rude: Sarah Palin … wow! With all that heavy reading you do, it sure must be hard keeping up with your housework!

Oh, there we are! By golly, that coffee sure smells great. Skim milk no sugar for me thanks, gotta watch the ol’ figure. How about the two of us have a sit down on the couch and get to know each other, because I have a feeling we’re gonna be spending a lot of time together. You betcha, a whole lot of time. I always say it’s important to get to really know folks, especially if you’re gonna be camping out in their cerebellum for a few years. Because sometimes you can get off on the wrong foot, ya know?  I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. Ya know, as much as I go off and complain about those goshdarn Washington and Hollywood elites, I gotta say those folks are just about the most welcoming, hospitable people on God’s green earth. I swear, once they invite you in their head, they’ll insist you help yourself their last neuron! Take that Tina Fey for instance. She’s pretty much given me the run of her place, rent free. Her id says it’s because she has severe body image anxieties, but if you ask me I think she’s just lonely and needs somebody to talk to.

Say, do you mind if I use your little girl’s room? I just realized I’m going into labor. Back in a jiff! Continue Reading