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Would You Have Been Intimidated?

The Justice Department apparently doesn’t think you should have been.

Whistle-blower J. Christian Adams, a career voting rights attorney with the Department of Justice, resigned his position in disgust over the handling of the voter intimidation case brought against the members of the New Black Panther Party featured in the above video:

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

The federal voter-intimidation statutes we used against the New Black Panthers were enacted because America never realized genuine racial equality in elections. Threats of violence characterized elections from the end of the Civil War until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Before the Voting Rights Act, blacks seeking the right to vote, and those aiding them, were victims of violence and intimidation. But unlike the Southern legal system, Southern violence did not discriminate. Black voters were slain, as were the white champions of their cause. Some of the bodies were tossed into bogs and in one case in Philadelphia, Miss., they were buried together in an earthen dam.

Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election. Continue Reading

New Vatican Rules on Sex Abuse

The Catholic News Agency reports on this new development:

Monsignor Charles Scicluna took part in a press briefing on Thursday for the release of modified Vatican norms on how to examine and punish cases involving the “most serious sins.” He fielded a number of questions as to its content but underscored the importance of ongoing action for successfully bringing about change in the Church.

Journalists in the Holy See’s Press Office spoke of the encounter as “unseen since the days of Cardinal Ratzinger.” The Maltese promotor of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith fielded questions on complex matters with apparent ease, answering journalists’ queries regarding many aspects of the updates to the Motu Proprio of 2001 in both English and Italian.

About the concern in the media that sexual abuse against minors was being equated with the attempted ordination of women in the eyes of canon law, Msgr. Scicluna said in English, “They are not on the same level.” Serious sins are divided into those against Christian morality and those committed during the administration of the sacraments, he explained.

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HHS Statement on Abortion Funding

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the following statement regarding allegations that newly approved Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans would cover abortions:

As is the case with FEHB plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President’s related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.

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At Least This Will Help Keep Mac Users From Boring the Rest of Us

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Being a member of the orthodox PC computer users, I have never really understood members of the Mac cult.  Talking about the Mac and Mac apps for hours?  What a waste of time.  Excuse me now as I have to compose the fifteenth part of my series as to why Vista was a plot by Techno-Satan to sway us from the true computer faith!

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Surprise! ObamaCare is Going to Pay for Abortions

In a completely predictable move, ObamaCare will pay for abortions.  Lifesite News is on the story:

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill.

The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March.

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Remembering Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day, typically associated with the start of the French Revolution. In honor of that blessed event, I offer up this classic piece by John Zmirak:

Remember when the L.A. riots spun out of control, and engulfed the whole United States? The key moment was no doubt when police and Army commanders took fright and changed sides, throwing their support to the Committee for Public Safety led by Tom Hayden, along with Noam Chomsky, Barbara Boxer, Michael Moore, and Edward Said. After Hayden’s fall and execution, his successor, Marion Barry, insisted that President Bush and his wife Barbara be tried for treason. Their executions shocked the world but sparked wild celebrations in the capital, as the First Couple’s severed heads danced on poles in daylong parades. A crack whore was duly enshrined in the National Cathedral as the Goddess of Reason.

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Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?” Continue Reading

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Some People Say That No One Is Pro-Abortion

Occasionally pro-aborts make the argument that no one is pro-abortion.  Anglican priestess Katherine Ragsdale is Exhibit A that this is rubbish.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who I have designated Defender of the Faith for his spirited defenses of the Church, at the Midwest Conservative Journal examine Katherine Ragsdale’s views on abortion as a blessing in a post simply entitled “Monster”:

Abortion is a blessing — sometimes a joyful relief; sometimes a painful choice — but a blessing still.

Why is that so hard to see? How can anyone not understand that unless women can control our reproductive lives we can’t control our economic lives either, we can’t be fully functioning members of the commonwealth or stewards of the gifts God has given us unless we can decide when or if to have children?

There is, of course, one simple way around that little problem.  It’s a very old idea that has a number of names.  Keeping your clothes on, locking the barn door, keeping it zipped up, keeping the one-eyed snake in the cage, viewing men/women as human beings rather than ambulatory narcotics, saving yourself for marriage, etc.

I have been stunned, since all the uproar, to hear self-described feminists – feminists – say, “oh, abortion is always a morally complex tragedy but it’s sometimes a necessary evil and so must remain legal.” Is it any surprise that people are becoming less and less willing to call themselves pro-choice if even feminists are lamenting a necessary evil rather than celebrating a means to our own liberation and empowerment? 

“You use the phrase ‘killing every single Jew in the entire world’ like that’s a bad thing.” – Heinrich Himmler.

Look, the only way abortion is a tragedy or an evil is if a fertilized egg is a baby. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that (and they’re entitled to) but science doesn’t, most theologies don’t, and common sense doesn’t. Why should we believe that? Yet every time we called abortion a tragedy we reiterate the position that a zygote is a human being of equal moral standing with a woman. We create an antiabortion climate and I fear it has come back to bite us.

Two things.  Katie Rags was a fertilized egg once.  So was her entire audience and so was every single person reading this.  And as far as Rags is concerned, you’re still a “fertilized egg” nine months after one of your dad’s swimmers made it inside one of your mom’s eggs, as demonstrated by her lionization of Old Partial-Birth Abortion.

It is only this that makes it possible for people to be as outraged as many have been by the characterization of George Tiller as a saint and martyr. Dr. Tiller — like most if not all people who work in clinics that provide abortions — did difficult, demanding, and dangerous work under constant threat, harassment, and terrorism. He did it even though he could make more money doing easier, and certainly safer, work. He did it because he believed it was the right thing to do. It was his ministry. He spent and gave his life on behalf of others. That’s a saint and martyr. The only reason anyone could question that is if they thought abortion was a bad thing. The only way they can think that if they believe a fertilized egg is a baby. And we contribute to that whenever we try to compromise and be conciliatory by calling abortion a tragedy.

Says here that participation in the Einsatzgruppen during the Second World Was was terribly stressful on the German soldiers involved.  But the fact that they needed copious quantities of booze to get through the day didn’t make those bastards virtuous. Continue Reading

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Political Miscellania 7/14/10

A roundup of recent political news. 

1.  Deficit Cancer-Erskine Bowles, co-chairman with Allan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, of President Obama’s debt and deficit commission, is Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff.  Therefore I was somewhat surprised at how forthright he was recently when he made this statement: 

Bowles said that unlike the current economic crisis, which was largely unforeseen before it hit in fall 2008, the coming fiscal calamity is staring the country in the face. “This one is as clear as a bell,” he said. “This debt is like a cancer.” 

The commission leaders said that, at present, federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans — the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries,” Simpson said. 

“We can’t grow our way out of this,” Bowles said. “We could have decades of double-digit growth and not grow our way out of this enormous debt problem. We can’t tax our way out. . . . The reality is we’ve got to do exactly what you all do every day as governors. We’ve got to cut spending or increase revenues or do some combination of that.” 

Statements like this help keep spending and the national debt at the forefront of the issues confronting the nation and that is not good news for Obama and the Democrats in November. 

2.  Obama 40-On January 5, 2009 I made the following prediction here:  “8.   Obama’s popularity rating will be around 40% by the end of 2009.”  The latest ABC-Washington post poll here indicates that is about the amount of support the President currently enjoys: 

Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy. 

A CBS poll released yesterday also shows Obama at 40% 

 
3.   Hurricane GOP– Charlie Cook is one of the best political prognosticators in the business.  Personally his politics lean in the port direct, but I have always found his analysis to be very accurate.  Here is what he thinks is ahead in November in an article entitled Hurricane GOP On The Way:
 

Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. The NBC/WSJ survey, when combined with a previously released NPR study of likely voters in 70 competitive House districts by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger, point to an outcome for Democrats that is as serious as a heart attack. Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge.
To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. The GOP’s failure to get Republicans to vote in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th District underscores that the party can’t just sit back and await spontaneous combustion in terms of turnout. Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections. These kinds of waves are often ragged; almost always some candidates who looked dead somehow survive and others who were deemed safe get sucked down in the undertow. That’s the nature of these beasts. But the recent numbers confirm that trends first spotted late last summer have fully developed into at least a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Given how many House seats were newly won by Democrats in 2008 in GOP districts, and given that this election is leading into an all-important redistricting year, this reversal of fortune couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Democrats.
Go here to read the rest at the Cook Report. Continue Reading
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American Bar Association Considering to Support Same Sex Marriage

The American Bar Association will be considering supporting same-sex marriage at their next meeting in San Francisco.

It urges state, territorial and tribal governments to eliminate laws restricting marriage between same-sex partners.

Supporters say the adoption of the measure would build on past ABA policies supporting protections for gay couples and their families. The House of Delegates in 2004 approved a recommendation opposing efforts to enact federal legislation preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage. “Everyone who worked on it is hopeful,” said Michele Kahn, a partner at Kahn & Goldberg who chairs a New York State Bar committee on gay rights. The State Bar in June 2009 came out in support of same-sex marriage, dropping its support of civil unions or domestic partnerships as alternative measures.

Kahn said so far no formal opposition has come forward against the measure.

What I find amazing is that there is no formal opposition.

I know a lot of pro-life and practicing Christian lawyers, how can this be?

Tridentine Mass in Houston on July 14

The beautiful Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite Mass, sometimes called the Traditional Latin Mass, will be celebrated in Houston, tomorrow on Wednesday at 6:30 pm Central time at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Annunciation Church.

Annunciation Church is located on 1618 Texas Avenue near downtown Houston and directly across from Minute Maid Park.

Father Charles Van Vliet will be offering the sacrifice of the Mass.  He belongs to the Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Cancti Petri order or F.S.S.P.

Inequality: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

In my last post I looked at the question of how to calculate the just or living wage, using figures from Father Ryan’s classic text A Living Wage brought up to date by adjusting for inflation. Commenter Restrained Radical, however, thinks that in merely adjusting for inflation I was being too stingy:

Adjusting for inflation isn’t necessary the best way to adjust Fr. Ryan’s figures. Real GDP per capita grew faster than inflation. In other words, Americans got wealthier. Using Fr. Ryan’s figures today adjusted for inflation would be appropriate if real GDP per capita was stagnate for 89 years. In 1919, GDP per capita was $805. If you only adjust for inflation, that would be $9,897 today. That’s somewhere between Cuba and South Africa. So $6.15/hour would be an appropriate living wage for a family of 5, in Cuba.

If instead we adjust for unskilled labor wage increase (4.24% annualized since 1919), $1,400 to $1,500 then would be $56,388 to $60,416. That’s probably closer to what Fr. Ryan had in mind.

In 2008, median household income in the United States was $52,029. If Restrained Radical’s interpretation is correct, then it would seem Father Ryan was advocating a kind of Lake Wobegon society, where everyone has the right to an above average income.

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NASA Administrator Goes Under the Obama Bus

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  Well that didn’t take long.  I have discussed here the disastrous interview that Charles Bolden had with Al Jazeera in which he stated that the foremost policy goal of NASA under the Obama administration was to reach out to Muslim nations and raise their self-esteem as to their contributions regarding science, math and engineering.

“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”

My co-blogger Tito had an excellent follow up post here.  Yesterday press flack in chief for the Obama administrator, Robert Gibbs, said flatly that the NASA administrator was wrong about the policy of muslim outreach being NASA’s top priority.

The idea that Bolden misspoke in the interview is risible.  Bolden was saying much the same thing back in February regarding outreach to Muslim countries.  Blaming Bolden for this is a mistake.  This foolish PC policy is clearly a product of the Obama worldview, in which hare-brained political schemes that might sound good at a 3:00 AM liberal campus bull session, lubricated by a lot of beers, have become government policy. Continue Reading

Catholic Manga, Saint Paul: From Tarsus To Redemption

Rome Reports has a spiffy video report on a Japanese form of comic book entertainment called manga that is utilized to teach the story of Saint Paul:

The manga comic book, a Japanese style, illustrates the story of Saint Paul’s conversion to Christianity.

The book is full of vivid images of Paul’s journey from his violence towards Christians to ultimately his with them.

It is recommended for ages 12 and up.  With Japanese-influenced art and simple, descriptive quotes, readers can learn about Paul in this easy to read comic book.  The creators are releasing a second volume on Saint Paul this summer.

For a prior posting on this comic book genre by Rome Reports click here.

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John Paul II: Nine Days That Changed the World

Nine Days That Changed the World is a film produced by Citizens United, Newt Gingrich’s, former Republican Speaker of the House and Catholic convert, group.  That Gingrich produced it will probably reduce the number of people who will see the film, due to the fact that Gingrich is subject to legitimate criticism for his past infidelities to his first two wives, and because he is a devil figure for the Left.  That is a shame because this film is a thoughtful look at one of the pivotal events in the last century:  the unraveling of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, which began in Poland and was directly sparked by the visit of John Paul II in 1979 who inspired Lech Walesa and other Poles to found Solidarity and give voice to the Polish cry for freedom that ultimately prevailed.

In his address to the civil authorities in Poland on June 2, 1979, the Pope touched upon the never ending desire of the Poles for their independence:

We Poles feel in a particularly deep way the fact that the raison d’être of the State is the sovereignty of society, of the nation, of the motherland. We have learned this during the whole course of our history, and especially through the hard trials of recent centuries. We can never forget that terrible historical lesson—the loss of the independence of Poland from the end of the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. This painful and essentially negative experience has become as it were a new forge of Polish patriotism. For us, the word “motherland” has a meaning, both for the mind and for the heart, such as the other nations of Europe and the world appear not to know, especially those nations that have not experienced, as ours has, historical wrongs, injustices and menaces. And thus the last World War and the Occupation, which Poland experienced, were still for our generation such a great shock thirty-five years ago when this war finished on all fronts. At this moment there began the new period of the history of our motherland. We cannot however forget everything that influenced the experiences of the war and of the Occupation. We cannot forget the sacrifice of the lives of so many men and women of Poland. Neither can we forget the heroism of  the Polish soldier who fought on all fronts of the world “for our freedom and for yours”.

We have respect for and we are grateful for every help that we received from others at that time, while we think with sadness of the disappointments that we were not spared.

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Translation: Cardinal Schonborn Expressly Approved The Unholy Mass

A commenter, Dave Hahn, asked if anyone bothered to translate the gloria.tv report on the Unholy Mass.

Well someone did.

Here is a direct quote from the video of the priest in his homily:

In his homily, Father Faber made a point of saying that Cardinal Schönborn expressly approved this celebration. Despite the fact that Gloria TV had documented liturgical abuses during the previous years, Despite international exposure and world criticism, Cardinal Schönborn stands behind the event.

The following is the complete translation of the gloria.tv video of Cardinal Schonborn’s expressly approved Unholy Mass:

On the 29th of June, the pastor of Vienna’s Cathedral, Father Toni Faber celebrated the so called Western Mass at the Danube Island Festival, for the third time. The Danube Island Festival is an annual large open air music festival in Vienna.

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Orwell Would Have Loved This

The head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights speaks out on stoning:

The hard-line chief of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, the longtime political operator and insider Mohammad-Javad Larijani, says the sentence of stoning against an impoverished mother of two accused of adultery stands, even though it is under a required review. 
In other words, 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani could still be buried up to her neck and pelted with small rocks until she dies because she was convicted of having sex outside of marriage.

Larijani, a well-connected regime loyalist, blamed the Western media for making a big deal out of nothing.

“Our judicial system cannot change its course because of Western attack and media pressure,” he told the official Islamic Republic News Agency in a report published late Friday (in Persian). “The Western media’s attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran comes under a pretext every time, and in recent years it is the instructions of the Islamic religious law that have been the target of their attacks.”
No one’s quite sure what’s next for Ashtiani. Larijani said Ashtiani’s sentence of death by stoning had not been rescinded, contradicting a statement issued Thursday by the Islamic Republic’s embassy in London.

“Regarding this criminal, I must point out that first of all the punishment of death by stoning exists in our constitution but the esteemed judges issue this verdict on very rare occasions,” said Larijani, whose brothers include the head of the judiciary branch and the speaker of parliament. “This case has passed its long procedure, and the defendant was first sentenced to 90 lashes and then, in another court, to death by stoning. The review of this sentence in currently underway.”

Her lawyer said even if they halt the stoning, he’s worried they’ll put her to death by some other means. “We do not know which penalty will be substituted for stoning,” her lawyer told Babylon & Beyond.

He said he’s asked for her pardon four times, especially since no private individual is seeking her prosecution — just the government. “For the sake of the Islamic system and its reputation in the world, nobody should be stoned to death anymore,” said Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai. “If the judiciary branch is attaching importance to the prestige of the system in the world, then the stoning should be stopped.” Continue Reading

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Is Islam Part of Gods Plan?

Most of us are aware of the Christian exodus from the Middle East where the fundamental problem is Muslim intolerance towards non-Muslims.

Father Samir hopes to change all of that.

In this interview with Father Samir Khalil Samir done by Mirko Testa of Zenit, Father Samir explains the possibility of learning form Lebanon’s coexistence between Christians and Muslims:

The coexistence of Christians and Muslims is good for civil society because their mutual questioning of the other’s faith acts as a stimulus and leads to deeper understanding, says a Jesuit priest who is an expert in Islamic studies.

This is the opinion of Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Islamic scholar and Catholic theologian born in Egypt and based in the Middle East for more than 20 years.

He teaches Catholic theology and Islamic studies at St. Joseph University in Beirut, is founder of the CEDRAC research institute and is author of many articles and books, including “111 Questions on Islam.”

ZENIT spoke with Father Samir regarding the June 21-22 meeting in Lebanon of the Oasis International Foundation, which seeks to promote mutual knowledge among Christians and Muslims.

ZENIT: Why was the subject of education placed at the center of the Oasis meeting this year?

Father Samir: The problem we are experiencing both in the Church as well as in Islam is that we are not always able to transmit the faith easily to the new generation and the generations to come. The question we ask ourselves is: In what way should we rethink the faith for young people, but also in parishes or in mosques, in the talks that religious address to their faithful?

This is what we want: to make a study of the Christian experience in Lebanon, and the Muslim Sunni experience and the Muslim Shiite experience in this ambit. We want to compare, to identify even if it is only the common difficulties, to seek together an answer to them. I think this has been the main objective of our meeting in face of a dialogue of cultures in the Christian and the Muslim faith.

ZENIT: What effect would the disappearance of the Churches of the Middle East have on the Christian and Muslim world?

Father Samir: The disappearance of the Churches of the Middle East would be, first of all, a loss for Christianity, because, as John Paul II said, the Church, as every human being, lives with two lungs: the Eastern and the Western. Now, the Eastern Churches were born here in the land of Jesus, in the territories of the Middle East, where Christ lived. And if this experience, these millennia of tradition are lost, then the loss will be for the whole Church, both of the Christians of the East as well as the Christians of the West.

However, there is more to this: if Christian leave the Middle East, in other words, if the Muslims remain alone, an element of stimulation will be lacking — represented, in fact, by that element of diversity that Christians can contribute. Diversity of faith, because Muslims ask us every day: How is it that you say that God is One and Triune? This is contradictory. And we say: How is it that you say that Mohammed is a prophet? What are, for you, the criteria of prophecy? Does Mohammed answer to these criteria? And what does it mean that the Quran is from God? In what sense do you say that it descended on Mohammed? We say that the Bible is divine, but mediated through human authors, whereas Muslims want to remove Mohammed’s mediation.

These questions that they ask us and that we ask are a stimulus, not only for civilization, but also for civil society. It would be a great loss because the risk exists of wishing to found a society, a state based on the sharia, that is, on something that was established in the seventh century in the region of the Arabian Peninsula, even if for Muslims the sharia is generic and true for all centuries and all cultures.

And this is Islam’s great problem: how can Islam be re-thought today? The absence of Christians would make the problem even more acute.

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The Crisis at Which We Are Arrived

President Obama seems to carry the world view that of an elite academic, that all the problems this nation faces can be solved with government intervention through high taxes and and legislation that enacts social engineering of a society of independence to that of dependence.

Or as the average layman would say, President Obama is a socialist, plain and simple.

I understand the subtleties of his liberal leanings and his good intentions, but the path to Hell is often made with good intentions.  With the failed Communist experiment in Russia in 1988 and the current economic collapse of Greece with Spain and Portugal on the horizon to experience the same, I don’t see how more spending with money we don’t have for welfare programs that we don’t need will solve our economic woes.

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Obamas Fly Me To The Crescent Moon

Fellow TAC cohort Donald posted an excellent column on President Obama’s attempt at reimagining NASA as a political experiment in Muslim outreach.

My personal opinion is that President Obama could care less about NASA for political reasons.  The biggest one is that he is punishing Texas for voting Republican and many of his political contributors would love to increase their government budgets at the expense of those programs that doesn’t fit in their world view.

How ironic that Texas was the only state in the union that had a net increase in job creation.  Many red states are faring better than the blue states in this economic recession.  Though President Obama and his co-wealth distributionists continue to push for welfare-state programs that increases our national debt and fails to create any jobs in the private sector.

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Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

I am an alum of the U of I.  I obtained my BA in 79 and my JD in 82.  My wife is also an alum of the U of I, obtaining her MA in Spanish in 82.  Our eldest son will be entering the U of I as a freshman in August.  I therefore found the news that  Professor Kenneth Howell, an adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, has been fired for teaching in a course about Catholicism  basic Catholic doctrine on homosexuality quite alarming:

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Top Ten Lawyer Movies

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has asked for thoughts about movies featuring attorneys.  Faithful readers of this blog know that I have no hesitation about highlighting the less attractive aspects of my profession, for example here and here.  However, I would be less than candid if I did not admit that there are rather amusing or exciting aspects to being an attorney, and many of those occur in court.   Film reflects this, although it does not reflect the majority of an attorney’s work which is often congealed tedium.

10.  My Cousin Vinnie (1992)-One of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and hands down the funniest movie about a trial.  Joe Pesci is unforgettable as a fledgling litigator, a true diamond in the rough.  The late Fred Gwynne as the strict judge is very true to life.  (I suspect all attorneys who appear in courts encounter a judge as portrayed in the film sooner or later.)

9.     The Verdict (1982)-Paul Newman is unbelievably good as a burned out alcoholic attorney who gives everything he has to win a personal injury case. 

8.      A Few Good Men (1992)-The court martial is fairly unrealistic, but no list of films about attorneys would be complete without the cross-examination featured in the above video clip.

7.      Witness for the Prosecution (1957)-Charles Laughton steals every scene he is in as an aging barrister at the top of his game.  Besides, I really appreciate the comments about the British National Health Care system in the video clip! Continue Reading

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What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

UPDATE  Check Back On Monday To See What Time The Scheduled Appearance On The Al Kresta Show Will Take Place. Al Kresta Is Heard On EWTN Radio ( Over 100 Affiliate Stations) Check Your Local Listings Or Click Here To Listen Live

The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans. However a cursory glance at some of the national columnist’s reaction, to the week-long ego charade broadcasted by ESPN, gives me hope that many others have seen through this smoke screen as well. (Check these columns here here and  here.) What we witnessed Thursday night and the excuses made for it, along with sucking up by some of the national powers that be, gives us some insight on a world full of instant gratification and the desire to party on in South Beach, rather than roll up their sleeves in places like Cleveland. Talk about a metaphor for the Catholic Church.

For years now many faithful orthodox minded Catholics have painfully watched friends and loved ones leave the Catholic Church for either the local hoopty do mega church (Mother Angelica’s words,) or for no church at all, claiming they needed to feel better. They didn’t like a Church who couldn’t get with the times, had too many sinners in the pulpit, or talked to much about sin and not enough about heaven. Perhaps the LeBron James fiasco has given us the perfect recipe for what we should do; give it right back to them.

I grew in a small town (or city depending upon your classification) full of hard working class folks (and farmers who came into town from the outlying areas) where flowery words were few and far between and one would be easily called out for his actions. Now we all know the Church has had some difficult times in the last few years. However, this is because we wanted to be liked, instead of doing it God’s way, whether that was politically correct or not.

Today we have a new crop of orthodox-minded young seminarians, priests and women religious who are pious, but not above calling people out concerning their phony excuses for not taking their Faith more serious by not practicing it, or leaving it all together. In my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I outline the increase in vocations, especially in dioceses which are more openly orthodox in their approach. The Father McBrien’s and Kung’s of the world are being replaced by younger versions of Father Corapi and Father Pacwa. Though these two priests have different approaches, they are not above calling out the phony reality show world we often seem to celebrate in our culture and religion. Continue Reading

The Advantage of Ideology

One of the main problems with politics is that it is complicated. Take, for example, the recently passed health care bill. The bill was over 2,000 pages. I haven’t read it. Neither, I imagine, have most of our readers (indeed, it would not surprise me if no single person has read every word of the bill, though obviously each of the bill’s many provisions has been read by someone).

Of course, even if someone had read every word of the bill, this would not be sufficient to have a truly informed position on it. To have a truly informed position one would have to not only read the bill but understand it. And to do that would require a great deal of knowledge about fields as complicated and diverse as the law, medicine, political science, economics, bureaucratic management, etc.

And, mind you, even if one were somehow able to master and muster all of this information, that would only entitle one to a have a truly informed position on that one bill.

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The Left Stuff

NASA administrator Charles Bolden in an interview with Al Jazeera, tells us all we really need to know about the Obama administration:

“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.” Continue Reading

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Illinois is Broke

Long time readers of this blog know that I reside in the Land of Lincoln.  Illinois now has the distinction of perhaps being in the worst fiscal mess of any state in the Union, as this recent article by Josh Barro for Real Clear Markets indictates:

If you go to Sacramento this week, don’t be surprised to hear champagne corks popping and chants of “We’re #2! We’re #2!” The cause for celebration? Illinois has overtaken California as the worst credit risk among American states.

As of Monday, the credit default swap spread for Illinois general obligation bonds climbed to 313 basis points for a five-year contract — meaning a bondholder must pay over 3% of the bond’s face value per year to be insured against default.

That’s a higher price than for all but seven sovereign entities tracked by CMA, and slightly higher than California, whose five-year CDS spread sits at 293. Investors rate Illinois’s debt as slightly riskier than Iceland’s or Latvia’s, but not quite as big a gamble as Iraq’s.
Despite this environment, Illinois chose to issue an additional $300 million in taxable Build America Bonds last week. Unsurprisingly, the markets were not keen and demanded a high price: the new 25-year bonds were sold with a yield of 7.1%, a spread of 297 basis points over 30-year treasuries. Illinois’ last long term issues, in April, had spreads of 205 and 210 basis points, meaning investors were already nervous about Illinois and are growing moreso.
This issuance provides further evidence that the ratings agencies haven’t fully appreciated the dire nature of state finances, at least in states like California and Illinois. While Illinois carries a Moody’s rating of A1, six notches above junk status, the markets put Illinois’s debt close to the borderline between junk and investment grade. Continue Reading

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Conservatives, Liberals and Patriotism

 

This is in the category of water is wet and fire burns.  Gallup has released the result of a poll which shows that conservatives embrace patriotism for the US far more than liberals:

“The increase in the overall percentage of Americans calling themselves “extremely patriotic” is driven largely by seniors, Republicans, and conservatives — all of whom are significantly more likely to say so than they were in 2005. Republicans’ relatively higher identification with the “extremely patriotic” label is particularly intriguing when one considers that Democrats are currently far more likely than Republicans to say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country (41% vs. 7%, respectively). Still, the majority of Americans in each of these subgroups say they are “extremely” or “very” patriotic.”

Go here to view the poll.  Since 2005 the number of Republicans calling themselves extremely patriotic is up 17 points, the number of conservatives doing so is up 15 points, while the number of liberals claiming to be extremely patriotic is down 4 points.  Continue Reading

Model of a Modern Seminarian

A seminarian reader of Father Z has come up with a great spoof of the Major General Song from the Pirates of Penzance:

I am the very model of Catholic seminarian
I’ve information pastoral, canonical, and Marian,
I know the Popes of Avignon and Councils Ecumenical
From Nicaea to Vatican plus gatherings heretical.
I’m very well acquainted too with matters homiletical,
I’ll write a pretty sermon that is eloquent yet practical,
About soteriology I’m teeming with a lot o’ news…
Such as salvation history’s relation to the modern Jews.
I’m very open minded, I have Sunday lunch with Protestants,
I teach them our Church History and sing it in Gregorian Chants,
In short in matters pastoral, canonical, and Marian,
I am the very model of a Catholic seminarian.
 
I know my ancient languages, some Latin, Greek, and Hebrew too;
I’m smart as a Dominican, I write for The Thomist review,
I quote Thomas Aquinas and I know the Summa all by heart,
I know the arguments for God from Anselm to Rene Descartes;
I am an expert without doubt in all matters liturgical,
I’ll see the rubrics carried out in fashion demiurgical!
I can intone polyphony from every epoch, school and rank…
And sing all of the arias composed by Mister Cesare Franck.
Then I can run a bingo or a bake sale in the Parish Hall,
And sell spaghetti supper tickets at the local shopping mall:
In short, in matters pastoral, canonical, and Marian,
I am the very model of a Catholic seminarian.
 
In fact, when I know what is meant by “Molinist” and “Arian,”
When I can rise above the title of Popish sectarian,
When such affairs as wakes and confirmations I’m more wary at,
And when each sort of imperfection, sin, and fault I can combat;
When I have learnt the progress of von Balthasar’s theology,
Converted every member of the Church of Scientology—
In short, when I’ve a smattering of basic Catholicity—
They’ll say that I’m a cleric full of goodness and simplicity.
And though my Bishop is impressed by my enormous panurgy,
The man is rather wary at my love for Latin Liturgy,
But still in matters pastoral, canonical, and Marian,
I am the very model a Catholic seminarian.

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Unholy Mass in Austria With Explicit Approval of Cardinal Schonborn

Updated below with still photographs.

Christoph Cardinal Schonborn has had a series of blunders these past 18 months.  From his participation in a balloon Mass to criticizing a high ranking Cardinal of the Vatican.  He has been verbally and personally reprimanded by the Pope himself.

Now comes this ‘Wild Western’ Mass caught on video being celebrated in Austria with his explicit approval.

You be the judge:

A Mass is celebrated in Austria with the explicit approval of Cardinal Schonborn. Shown in this Mass being celebrated in German are sacrilegious, blasphemous, and unholy desecration’s of the Holy Mass.

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Science and Technology in World History

Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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Mr. Smith and Lost Causes

When the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington appeared in 1939, many intelligent observers were predicting that the age of Democracy was at an end and that the age of Fascism and Communism was dawning.  Democracy, perhaps, was a lost cause.    In the face of a tide of totalitarianism that seemed to be destined to engulf the globe, Frank Capra made this film celebrating Democracy.

It is a very odd sort of celebration.  The film starkly presents one of the key problems in any Democracy:  the political corruption that mocks the ability of the people to rule themselves.

Jefferson Smith, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in his first leading man role, is a grown-up boy scout.  He has never surrendered his belief in this country and its ideals, because he has always lived in a sort of never-never land that he has created.  He is the head of the Boy Rangers  (the Boy Scouts foolishly refused to allow their name to be used in the film), and he looks at the world with the idealism of a boy who simply wants to do what is right.  One of the senators from his state, Sam Foley, dies in office.  The governor of his state, an indecisive man, decides to appoint Smith to the Senate based upon the recommendation of his children and because he realizes that he will not be criticized for appointing this do-gooder.  The man who actually controls the state, political boss Jim Taylor, unforgettably portrayed by Edward Arnold, goes along with the choice after being assured that Smith is a babe in the woods and will be easy to manipulate.

The senior senator from the state, Joseph Paine, is surprised to learn that Smith is the son of an old friend of his, a crusading small town newspaper editor, who was murdered in the course of one of his crusades.  Paine was a crusading attorney, but he has long since sold his soul to Jim Taylor:  a senate seat in exchange for Paine serving as Taylor’s man in Washington.

Jefferson Smith does seem initially to be a very poor choice to fill a spot in the Senate.  He is filled with idealism, but has almost no knowledge about what a senator does.   He does have one big goal however:  the establishment of a camp in his state where the Boy Rangers may have a camp.  He drafts a bill to this effect with the help of his secretary, Clarissa Saunders, played by Jean Arthur in her finest role.  Saunders is in many ways the opposite of Smith.  She is a paid agent of the Taylor machine, and is filled with endless cynicism.  However, she is also filled with practical knowledge about how the Senate operates.  She finds herself, against her will, falling in love with Smith and his idealism.

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Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:

Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers. Continue Reading

1

God Bless America by Kate Smith

Kathryn Elizabeth “Kate” Smith (May 1, 1907 – June 17, 1986) was an American singer, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin‘s “God Bless America“. Smith had a radio, television, and recording career spanning five decades, reaching its pinnacle in the 1940s.

Smith was born in Greenville, Virginia. Her professional musical career began in 1930, when she was discovered by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her longtime partner and manager. Collins put her on radio in 1931.  She appeared in 1932 in Hello Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott and Sally Blane, and in the 1943 wartime movie This is the Army she sang “God Bless America”.

Late in the following video you’ll see a young Lt. Ronald Reagan make a cameo.  39 years later President Ronald Reagan awarded Kate Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom America’s highest civilian honor.

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Time, God and The Declaration of Independence

We are destined for Eternity but in this life we live in Time, which consists of the temporal trinity of past, present and future.   The present consists of an often confusing series of disparate events, while the future is a deep mystery to us all.  When we recall the past we try to make sense of it all, giving order in our mind and our recollections to what has happened to us individually and collectively.

When we look back at the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence from our vantage point of 234 years in the future, everything seems neat and orderly, an old story that we recall from school, books, television and films.  Perhaps to some of us it seems a bit trite and boring.  Such was not the way it all appeared to the Founding Fathers.  For them it was their present, and a chaotic present it must have seemed.  On July 3, 1776 the day before the Declaration was adopted by the Continental Congress, a huge British army of some 30,000 men, all regular troops and superbly equipped, began landing on Staten Island.  To oppose them, Washington could only gather together an army of 10,000, many of them untrained militia.  In the ensuing campaign, Washington’s army would be beaten time and again, often coming close to destruction.  The British would seize New York City, holding it until the end of the war in 1783.  So it went throughout the Revolution, with the patriots fighting an uphill battle against the mightiest empire since the fall of Rome.  At the end of the war, Washington made this observation:

“A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.” Continue Reading

Michael Scott Resigns From Dunder Mifflin

Michael Scott, the head sales manager of Dunder Mifflin is calling it quits at the end of the 2011 television season.

The Office is one of the few shows that I enjoy watching because the comedy and writing are top-notch and just as importantly, it isn’t as depraved as most shows on television.

Viewing The Office is like watching elementary school cliques try to behave as adults.  It’s entertaining and sometimes difficult to watch, especially when the Michael Scott character embarrasses himself to the point that I cringe at the tv set.

Regardless, the show will definitely be different without him if they choose to continue, which I hope they do.

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Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis Together Finally

Sly, Ahnold, and Bruno finally make my dream action flick I’ve been waiting for since the 1980’s called the Expendables.

Unfortunately, Ahnold and Bruce only make a cameo appearance.  But the film is packed with 80’s and contemporary action stars, from Dolph Lundgren to the under-rated Jason Statham.

The rest of the film looks real good, so I’ll be watching this movie at my first opportunity.

Here is a preview from Reuters:

It is the action hero dream team. Sylvester Stallone will shoot a scene with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger soon for his upcoming adventure “The Expendables,” due to hit theatres in 2010.

The man behind the successful Rambo and Rocky franchises has also brought Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke and Dolph Lundgren on board for the story of a team of mercenaries who head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator.

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Revolution, Independence and Schoolhouse Rock

I loved these schoolhouse rock videos when they were first broadcast back in the Seventies right before the bicentennial.  Among a fair number of kids I knew they sparked an interest in history.  Of the videos, I believe No More Kings has the catchiest tune.  For a cartoon, The Shot Heard Round the World does a fairly good job of conveying information about the Revolution in a very short span of time:  it manages to include the opening battles of the war, Washington as the central figure of the war, the role of the militia, the endurance of the Continentals, the battle of Trenton, Valley Forge, the frequent defeats of the Americans, the importance of diplomacy and foreign intervention, and the decisive victory at Yorktown.  Fireworks is a nice opening view of the Declaration for kids.  If readers have kids, or if, like me, part of them has never really grown up, watching these cartoons can be a good way to get into the Fourth of July spirit !

Libertarians vs. Rand Paul

A couple of months back Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy when he (briefly) indicated his opposition to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in “public accommodations” like restaurants and hotels. The controversy was notable not only for its utterly irrelevance to any current political issue, but also for the fact that even many libertarians distanced themselves from Paul’s position. I was out of the country at the time and so didn’t get a chance to comment, but libertarian think tank the Cato Institute recently published a libertarian defense of Title II and other civil rights legislation, which got me thinking about the issue again.

Defenders of Paul’s position (and there were a few) typically made one of two arguments; one based on an appeal to principle; one based on free market economics. The first argument is the straightforwardly libertarian one that individuals have the right to dispose of their property as they see fit, and while we might not like it if a business owner refuses to serve members of a particular racial group, it is still wrong to violate his property rights by telling him he can’t do so. I don’t have much to say about this argument, except to note how incongruously unpersuasive it is to most everyone today. Libertarianism is also criticized as being absolutist, but of course there are areas in which lots of people are willing to be comparably absolutist in their defense of individual freedom. Had Paul said, for example, that he supported the right of neo-Nazis to march through the streets of Jewish neighborhoods waving swastikas, his views would have been in keeping with those of most of the intelligentsia. Yet displaying a similar solicitude when the subject involves commercial activity is viewed as borderline crankish. The reasons for this discrepancy are probably worth further reflection, but I won’t dwell on them here.

Perhaps sensing that the argument from principle is a surefire loser, others have contended that laws such as Title II weren’t really necessary to end private discrimination by businesses. According to this argument, any business that turned away a substantial number of potential customers would soon find itself out of business, and absent legal mandates segregation would simply collapse under its own weight (call it the ‘everyone’s money is the same color’ argument).

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The Romance of the Press

It’s been interesting, though a bit odd, for me, watching the hand-wringing over the “death of the press” as some of the major newspapers struggle to figure out how to make their budgets work in a world in which fewer people read “dead tree” editions and advertisers can take advantage of more targeted advertising online and in specialty publications. There is, it seems, a level of reverence which many people seem to attach to “the press”, which does not seem well born out what it actually is.

Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads. They seek to provide stories that people want to read (whether “news”, human interest, comics, crosswords or recipes) in order to persuade people it’s worth parting with the artificially low newsstand or subscription price.

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July 4, 1826

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day from the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.  Jefferson died before Adams, and therefore Adams was in error when, with his last breath, he said “Thomas Jefferson survives.”  However, in a larger sense, a part of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams and all the patriots who brought us our independence, will remain alive as long as Americans continue to read and remember the Declaration of Independence.

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Elena Kagan: "I'm sorry-the memo which is?"

 

 

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was asked yesterday about her falsification of evidence detailed here.  Her response was a classic example of Beltway Weaselspeak:

“Did you write that memo?” Hatch asked.

“Senator, with respect,” Kagan began, “I don’t think that that’s what happened — ”

“Did you write that memo?”

“I’m sorry — the memo which is?”

“The memo that caused them to go back to the language of ‘medically necessary,’ which was the big issue to begin with — ”

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

Although Kagan later explained her thinking in the memo — she said she was only trying to help the medical group express its true opinion — and it was clear that she did write the memo, she looked slippery in her attempt to avoid openly admitting that she did so.  That won’t sit well with skeptical senators.

Shannen Coffin, the former Bush deputy attorney general who defended the partial birth abortion ban responds to this non-answer at National Review Online: Continue Reading