47

Considering American Exceptionalism

There has been discussion in the public square lately about American Exceptionalism. The term is one of those which, it seems, causes visceral reactions in many people, either positive or negative. Some immediately declare that the United States is one of the greatest nations that has ever existed. Others insist either that the US is entirely un-exceptional (and its inhabitants delusional for thinking otherwise) or that it is exceptional only in that it has been an unusually bad influence upon the world.

One of the problems is that there are a couple of different meanings one can assign to the term “American exceptionalism”. Some use the term to mean that 19th century Protestant idea that the United States is uniquely selected by God as a new Israel to play some pivotal role in the world. This view strikes me as sufficiently wrong as to be uninteresting, so I won’t discuss it further. However, this does not necessarily leave us to conclude that the US is either unexceptional or evil.
Continue Reading

55

The Catholic Left and America the Evil

Thomas Peters took  the usual suspects, including Vox Nova, on the Catholic Left to task for ignoring Lila Rose’s new expose last week about Planned Parenthood a\k\a Worse Than Murder, Inc.  Mark Shea joined in.  In response Morning’s Minion at Vox Nova went on the offensive and blasted everyone to the right of Joseph Stalin after a pro forma condemnation of Planned Parenthood.  Nate Wildermuth made a more interesting contribution:

 

Thomas Peters and Mark Shea and those of like-mind rightfully point out that abortion and contraception are not understood correctly by many ‘progressive’ Catholics. When I lived in the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington D.C., I participated in the vigils at Planned Parenthood, and asked a fellow Worker if she’d like to come. “Can’t do everything,” she said. “Not my thing.” And that’s the sort of answer that makes us think, “Wow, they just don’t get it.” The ongoing slaughter of children in the womb is one of the most frightening signs of the disintegration of Western Civilization.

And yet, standing so near the truth, Thomas Peters and Mark Shea and many of like-mind totally lose their minds. Example: they have likely Marched for Life in Washington D.C., but not before attending the idol-worshiping ceremonies that precede it, where the multitudes pledge their allegiance to a flag soaked in blood, to a Republic prostituted for Mammon, to a nation kneeling under a god called Constitution. “That’s just proper patriotism for the good parts of America,” they might say. But anyone who pledges allegiance to the American flag or gets goosebumps at the National Anthem just doesn’t get it: America is the greatest force for evil in the world in the history of mankind.

To get it means to be shell-shocked by the utter depravity of every aspect of the United States, to see that the game is up, that doom is allotted, and that abortion, war, poverty, and every kind of violence will continue unabated until the wrath and judgment of God is poured out upon this proud and blind people.

Like the blind men grasping at different parts of an elephant, we should waste less time denying what the other sees, and more time putting together the pieces, no matter how horrifying the conclusion.” Continue Reading

8

That’s a General not a Waiter

Obama adviser Valerie Jarett mistook a four star general, in  full dress uniform, for a waiter at a party in Washington.  Army General Peter Chiarelli got her a glass of wine, and later defended her, saying it was a mistake anyone could have made.    Since I don’t work for the President as the General does, I don’t have to be as tactful.  It is a mistake that anyone could make who possesses both a huge sense of entitlement and is completely and hopelessly clueless to all things military.  I would caution Ms. Jarett not to make the same mistake in regard to anyone dressed like R. Lee Ermey in the clip at the top of this post.

8

Thomas Jefferson: The Miniseries

A very well done fan made “trailer” for a Thomas Jefferson miniseries, with the trailer consisting of clips from the John Adams miniseries.  Such a miniseries would be challenging.  Jefferson was one of the most complicated of the Founding Fathers, and there is plenty of his legacy to fight about still.  I love the Declaration of Independence, yet I think clearly Alexander Hamilton had the better plan for the economic development of the country.  I agree with Jefferson on his concern about too much federal authority over states, but he loses me with his embrace, prior to his presidency, of nullification. Jefferson spoke and wrote against slavery his entire life, yet he made no plans, as did Washington, to free his slaves after his death.  A man who railed against government debt, he was so profligate in his personal finances that all of his property, including his slaves, had to be sold after his death to pay his debts.  A man who deeply cherished the teachings of Christ, yet denied His divinity.  A man averse to standing armies and war, yet he supported the French Revolution at its bloodiest, and could talk glibly about the blood of patriots watering the tree of liberty, while he never served a day in the Continental Army. Continue Reading

5

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind.  Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”

Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.

Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.

George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.

With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe? Continue Reading

9

Orwell Warned Us Of This

There are a pair of companions bills working their way through the Maryland legislature.  HB 55 and SB 116, titled “The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” will soon be coming up for debate.  Religious freedom and marriage protection – must be a law that good Catholics can get behind.  So what do the bills provide for:

Altering a provision of law to establish that only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State; prohibiting an official of a religious institution or body authorized to solemnize marriages from being required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the constitutional right to free exercise of religion; etc.

So it’s a gay marriage bill.  Oh sure there’s a little codicil about protecting religious officials from having to perform gay marriage, but this is a bill about altering the definition of marriage.

You almost have to hand it to the Democrats here in Maryland.  They recognize that while Maryland might be a deeply blue state, there is a very large segment of social conservatives that don’t fully embrace social engineering and attempts to subvert traditional morality.  So how coy of them to slip this issue under the radar in the guise of protecting religious liberty.

The phrase “culture of death” has been employed the anti-life agenda of the radical left.  I think the “culture of deceit” might be equally as apt.  From the shenanigans on abortion statistics to this action undertaken by the Maryland legislature, progressives continue to use obfuscation in order to advance their political agenda.  Thus the debate over abortion is morphed into one about choice, privacy, a woman’s “control over her body.”  Gay marriage becomes a civil rights issue.

We complain about the left utilizing the Courts to advance their agenda, and that is indeed a problem.  But they’ve also advanced their agenda simply by lying through their collective teeth, or creatively using and abusing the English language.

George Orwell may have gotten some things wrong, but he certainly prophesied correctly in this regard.

16

Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 54th birthday.  I am pleased that I share my natal day with the man I consider the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan, who was born one hundred years ago today in Tampico, Illinois.  I greatly admire Reagan for many reasons:  his wit, eloquence and good humor;  his prime role in bringing about the destruction of Communism as a ruling ideology in the former, how good it is to write that adjective!, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe;  his restoration of American prosperity by wringing inflation from the American economy;  his rebuilding of the nation’s defenses;  his restoration of American pride and optimism.  However, there is one stand of his that, above all others, ensures that he will always have a special place in my heart, his defense of the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

In 1983 Reagan submitted an essay on abortion to the Human Life Review, then and now, the scholarly heart of the pro-life movement.  He entitled it, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  Go here to the Human Life Review’s website to read it.

Reagan in the article attacked Roe on its tenth anniversary and stated that Roe had not settled the abortion fight:

Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a “right” so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.

As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.

Reagan saw that abortion diminished respect for all human life and quoted Mother Teresa as to the simple truth that abortion is the “greatest misery of our time”:

We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington because the child had Down’s Syndrome.

Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that “the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children.” Continue Reading

Viva Roma No. V!

 

Something for the weekend.  From those endlessly talented folks at History for Music Lovers, Viva Roma No. V to the tune of Mambo No. 5.

Civis Romanus sum said Saint Paul, or its Greek equivalent, and even while Christians were savagely persecuted by the Roman Empire many of them remarked about what a wonder in human affairs it was.

There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the emperors, nay, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth—in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes—is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome’s duration.

Tertuallian, Christian Apologetics

 Saint Augustine, living in the twilight of the Roman Empire in the West, with savage Vandals besieging Hippo at the time of his death, in his City of God raised the eyes of men to the imperishable City of God, while also yet acknowledging that God was the cause of the rise of the Roman Empire, along with the traditional Roman virtues: Continue Reading

1

Chris Christie Does It Again

Some pro-lifers expressed fear that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a bit of a moderate on social issues, especially with regards to abortion.  Well Governor Christie has done something that few other governors and other political leaders have done, namely veto funding for Planned Parenthood.  And now he’s done it again.

Following the release of a video that has received nationwide attention showing Planned Parenthood staff at a New Jersey abortion center helping alleged sexual traffickers cover up their crimes with abortions and STD testing, Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill funding Planned Parenthood.

A new undercover video shows Planned Parenthood officials in New Jersey telling a pimp and his prostitute assistant how they can get abortions for young teenage girls who, Planned Parenthood officials are informed, are Asians in the country illegally and forced into the sex trade. The staffer was later fired for her actions.

The Perth Amboy abortion center where the video is filmed is the second-largest Planned Parenthood center operated by Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey and the abortion business plans to double its number of abortion centers in the state.

Christie has already yanked state taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood but the state legislature sent him a bill to restore the taxpayer funds.

I’m not sure that this is directly related to the sting videos.  As mentioned, Christie had already vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood before and most likely would have done it again anyway.  Whatever the case, kudos to Governor Christie.

I also suggest that this this is further proof that economic and social conservatism need not and should not be divorced from one another.  In other words, no truce required.

16

Obama Administration to Stop Reporting Abortion Statistics?

Beginning in 1969 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collected data on legal abortions carried out in the United States through its Abortion Surveillance System. The report based on this data ordinarily appeared as an article in CDC’s professional journal, The Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR) the week after Thanksgiving. The report lagged the data by three years, i.e., the 2006 data were printed in 2009.

While not comprehensive, the CDC report provided the best single estimate of abortions in the US, as well as providing detailed breakdowns: the age of the baby at the time of abortion, age of the mother, number of abortions the mother had previous to the current one, etc. People on both sides of the abortion debate have cited these statistics to make their points.

Last year, contrary to the long-established practice, November came and went with no report posted on the CDC’s website. Over the following weeks, multiple visits to the site proved fruitless. The possibility the report was not merely delayed, but had in fact been axed from higher up, had to be considered.

Last week, RedState began investigating by calling those in DC who might have some answers. After several attempts, we finally received confirmation from Rhonda Smith at the CDC’s press office in Atlanta that the report has been buried indefinitely; the CDC “will not have stats available at any time in the near future” and there “are no plans for them to come out any time soon.”

More. This is outrageous, and raises the question of why the Obama Administration wouldn’t want the report published.

2

A Ticking Time Bomb

 

Hattip to John Sexton at Hot Air.  After Major Nidal Hasan went on his murderous jihadi rampage, I theorized, here, here and here, that political correctness and cowardice kept steps from being taken in the Army to remove him from the service.  Long before he went on his rampage, his behavior and comments gave off clear red flags that he was in sympathy with the Jihadists. 

Now the Senate Homeland Security Committee has released a 91 page report, A Ticking Time Bomb, which may be read here, and it is damning. Continue Reading

19

Ethnic Nationalism and the End of History

One of the ideas which has, perhaps more than any other, led to war and suffering in the modern age, is the idea that countries should have clear ethnic/national identities which define their borders. This is something that we in the the US, which has been heavily defined by immigration and thus lacks a distinct ethnic national identity, but it is something which comes into stark relief when we look at conflicts in other parts of the world.

Of these, the one that gets the most press is, of course, the conflict over the Holy Land, where different factions insist that the same ground should belong to either a Jewish State or a Palestinian State. This leads to strife because obviously if the state in a given area is specifically intended to belong to one ethnic or cultural group, then members of other groups must either leave or see themselves as living in someone else’s country.

This would work very well if various ethnic groups had spontaneously generated from the soil of different regions, but this is not the case. (After all, if you trace it back far enough, we’re all Africans.) Recorded history is one long story of migrations, conquests and assimilations. Continue Reading

1

ObamaCare and the Constitution in a Nutshell

Hattip to Neo-Neocon.  I have been reading judicial decisions for over three decades and few of them are better reasoned and written than that of Judge Roger Vinson striking down ObamaCare.  Go here to read his ruling.  My favorite portion of the decision is below. ( To get the full impact of it, I suggest you have the John Adams intro video below playing while you read it.) Continue Reading

7

What Would Bush Have Done?

As I watched the situation in Egypt descend into chaos and violence, I started to think about how Bush would have handled these situations. Bush’s foreign policy was predicated upon a belief that America had a duty to spread democracy. I wonder if Bush would have been more quick than the Obama administration to side with the protesters. Although I appreciate that the US has a very delicate situation here, I wonder if now we’ve acted too late and not presented the positive pro-democracy face we could have to the people of the Middle East.

I also wonder if we need to reevaluate our appraisal of Bush. After all, Bush was mocked for believing that bringing democracy to Iraq would help spark the fire of democracy in the Middle East. While I still think the Iraq war did not meet the requirements of a just war, it is hard today to say that Bush was completely wrong. We’ve already seen Iran’s people rise up (though they failed) and today we see the people of Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan protesting. I don’t know if they’ll be successful, and I don’t know how much our presence in Iraq has helped or hurt democracy in the Middle East.

But it does seem clear that the Middle East is seeking more and more to be democratic and that the United States may need to rethink its strategy and partners not only to improve its image in the area, but more importantly help the Arab people secure a free and democratic government.

1

Groundhog Predicts an Early Spring

 

Happy Groundhog Day to all our readers!  Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow so we may expect an early Spring, if one assumes that a particular individual of Marmota monax has predictive powers in regard to weather.  Phil has an accuracy rate of 39% which I imagine is better than Al Gore’s weather related prognostications.  Oh well, back to shoveling snow for me.

13

Environmental Predictions and the Goracle

 

Well, Central Illinois is experiencing its worst blizzard in many a year, and I am snowbound at home, dictating bankruptcy petitions and working on my taxes.  We are keeping warm and toasty at stately McClarey Manor by occasionally tossing a copy of Al Gore’s tome, Earth in the Balance,  into the fireplace.  This exercise in heating through book burning was caused by Gore’s latest statement that the blizzards are caused by global warming.    I do have to hand it to Mr.  Gore:   as he claims that any extreme weather event is caused by global warming, it becomes rather hard to refute a theory that purports to cause everything weather related.    However, while shoveling the rather large snow drifts that clogged my driveway, courtesy of global warming no doubt, I became rather curious about predictions in regard to environmental matters made by Mr. Gore in the past.  Here is what I have found.

1.  Sea Levels:  Mr. Gore predicted in An Inconvenient Truth that sea levels would rise by 20 feet by 2100.  Well, if that is going to happen, the sea level better get on with it.  The sea level rise over the last 18 years is 1.8 inches.  In the 20th century the total increase in sea level was 8 inches.  Over the past 10,000 years, the average increase in sea level per century has been 4 feet as glaciers from the last ice age have melted.

2.  Ice Free Arctic Ocean:  In 2009 Mr. Gore claimed that there was a 75% chance that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free by 2014.  He cited climatologist  Dr. Wieslav Maslowski as his source.  Dr. Maslowski promptly rejected this, stating he had no idea how Gore had arrived at his prediction. Continue Reading

5

Egypt Thought of the Day

Bryan Caplan asks, a propos of events in Egypt, why some revolutions end up making things better while others make things worse. His answer (which he admits is unconvincing) is that revolutions make things better when they are against totalitarian regimes and worse when they are against authoritarian regimes, because “the point of totalitarian regimes is to give people less freedom than the median voter wants, but the point of authoritarian regimes is often to give people more freedom than the median voter – or at least the median man of violence – wants.”

I don’t think that works. Marcos wasn’t a totalitarian, for example, and neither was Milosevic. When I consider which revolutions turned out badly and which turned out well, the thing that really jumps out at me is the degree to which the revolution in question was achieved by peaceful as opposed to violent means. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part violent revolutions have tended to end badly (very often making things even worse than before), whereas largely non-violent revolutions have tended to make things better. Violent revolutions end up being led by violent men, and once in charge they have a tendency to turn their talents on others. Whereas the leaders of non-violent revolutions tend to be better at democratic politics (and if they aren’t they don’t try to hold onto power by killing their opponents).

Something to think about.

25

Rhett Butler: Why the South Was Bound to Lose

My favorite scene from Gone With the Wind in which Rhett Butler explains succinctly the disadvantages the South will encounter in any war with the North.  Far sighted Southerners at the time also gave such warnings:

“To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country-the young men.”

Sam Houston Continue Reading