Patrick Leigh Fermor

Wednesday, June 15, AD 2011

[The topic here is neither American nor Catholic, so I was originally going to relegate it strictly to my personal blog, but in the end I found it too interesting to avoid sharing.]

Some years ago, I wrote here about Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts, a beautifully written travel book about the first stage of the author’s 1933 walk across Europe from from Holland to Constantinople.

The only customer, I unslung my rucksack in a little Gastof. Standing on chairs, the innkeeper’s pretty daughters, who were aged from five to fifteen, were helping their father decorate a Christmas tree; hanging witch-balls, looping tinsel, fixing candles to the branches, and crowning the tip with a wonderful star. They asked me to help and when it was almost done, their father, a tall, thoughtful-looking man, uncorked a slim bottle from the Rudesheim vineyard just over the river. We drank it together and had nearly finished a second by the time the last touches to the tree were complete. Then the family assembled round it and sang. The candles were the only light and the solemn and charming ceremony was made memorable by the candle-lit faces of the girls — and by their beautiful and clear voices. I was rather surprised that they didn’t sing Stille Nacht: it had been much in the air the last few days; but it is a Lutheran hymn and I think this bank of the Rhine is mostly Catholic. Two of the carols they sang have stuck in my memory: O Du Heilige and Es ist ein Reis entsprungen: both were entracing and especially the second, which, they told me, was very old. In the end I went to church with them and stayed the night. When all the inhabitants of Bingen were exchanging greetings with each other outside the church in the small hours, a few flakes began falling. Next morning the household embraced each other, shook hands again, and wished everyone a happy Christmas. The smallest of the daughters gave me a tangerine and a packet of cigarettes wrapped beautifully in tinsel and silver paper. I wished I’d had something to hand her, neatly done up in holly-patterned ribbon — I thought later of my aluminum pencil-case containing a new Venus or Royal Sovereign [pencil] wound in tissue paper, but too late. The time of gifts.

I’ve since read what was intended to be the second volume of a three part narrative of the trip, Between the Woods and the Water. It is similarly a joy to read.

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One Response to Patrick Leigh Fermor

  • …I was rather surprised that they didn’t sing Stille Nacht: it had been much in the air the last few days; but it is a Lutheran hymn and I think this bank of the Rhine is mostly Catholic…

    Why would anyone consider Stille Nacht a Lutheran hymn?

Void ab Initio

Wednesday, June 15, AD 2011


As I am sure most of you know, the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision vacated the order of Judge Maryann Sumi enjoining the bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature regarding public employee unions.  The court divided along partisan lines.  The bluntness of the majority opinion is something to behold.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all orders and judgments of the Dane County Circuit Court in Case No. 2011CV1244 are vacated and declared to be void ab initio.  State ex rel. Nader v. Circuit Court for Dane Cnty., No. 2004AP2559-W, unpublished order (Wis. S. Ct. Sept. 30, 2004) (wherein this court vacated the prior orders of the circuit court in the same case). 

Declaring the orders of a trial court void ab initio is an unusual step for an appellate court.  It basically says that the trial court completely misconstrued the relevant law from the beginning, and is not to be trusted by the appellate court simply reversing the trial court and remanding the case back to the trial court.  Instead the Supreme Court ruled on all of  the issues in the case itself, with Judge Sumi now tossed out of the case by the action of the Supreme Court.  

This court has granted the petition for an original action because one of the courts that we are charged with supervising has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature.  It is important for all courts to remember that Article IV, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution provides:  “The legislative power shall be vested in a senate and assembly.”  Article IV, Section 17 of the Wisconsin Constitution provides in relevant part:  “(2) . . . No law shall be in force until published.  (3) The legislature shall provide by law for the speedy publication of all laws.”

You don’t get blunter than that in the law.  Judge Sumi is held by the Court to have usurped the power of the legislature!

The Court then notes that what Judge Sumi attempted to do, enjoin publication of a bill in order to prevent it from becoming law, was in direct defiance of a prior case decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court:

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12 Responses to Void ab Initio

  • My understanding is that the power of the unionists is now curtailed. I am very happy.

  • cut/paste from earlier comment:

    It’s all good.

    WI Supreme Court upheld Gov. Walker’s bill reforming public employee unions – abolishing automatic withholding of dues, which was the main cause of all this thuggery. Less taxpayer money to fund lib/looter candidates’ campaigns.

    The legislature, a judicial special election (where union organization should have been decisive), and the WISC all righteously beat them down.

    And, all along they showed us that they are thugs and, even worse, hurt a lot of (Special Olympics) little children.

  • Declaring the orders of a trial court void ab initio is an unusual step for an appellate court. It basically says that the trial court completely misconstrued the relevant law from the beginning, and is not to be trusted by the appellate court simply reversing the trial court and remanding the case back to the trial court.

    I don’t know, I wouldn’t be so strong in stating void ab initio that way. Generally, it occurs when the trial court acted without jurisdiction, therefore the order it entered had no force or effect from the moment it was entered. It is usually not a comment on the trust to be placed in the trial court or its legal acumen, rather simply a statement that the order lacks validity from a legalstandpoint. Many jursidictional questions can be close calls, with reasonable arguemtns both for and against. teh question of separation of powers and what legisaltive actions (or failure to act) a court can and cannot review is not a simple question.

  • Man, my typing stinks.

  • As a general rule I don’t disagree with you cmatt, except that in those situations normally the case is remanded back to the trial court with the expectation that the trial court will follow what the appellate court orders. It is far more unusual here where everything the trial court did is vacated, and the apellate court takes the case away from the trial court and decides it completely itself. I have not seen that too often, and I think the decison here was intended to be a slap at the trial judge, especially when the rest of the opinion is considered.

  • Except now the unions are suing over the constitutionality of the law, saying it treats different public sector unions unequally – some lose their collective bargaining rights, while others – such as police, fire, et al – get to keep them. One hurdle crushed, another to get over.

    What’s your opinion on their lawsuit? Does it depend on the judge hearing the case, or does it have merit?

  • The judge hearing the case usually has a vast impact on litigation. I doubt if it has merit since government contracts usually do not come under equal protection analysis unless discrimination is evident on some basis such as race or sex. A government is under no obligation to recognize public employee unions at all, so the argument that a state government may not treat them differently under statute strikes me as farcial on its face. Many states, for example, restrict the ability of certain unions, usually police and firemen, to strike, and those restrictions have been upheld time and again.

  • Turning out to be “the Lawyer Relief bill.” The unionistas are already in federal court trying yet another legal maneuver to block implementation. Meanwhile the Democrats, as usual, are doing everything they can to be obstructionist including prolonging recall elections in senate districts where they were challenged. WI, my home for the past 15 years, is a national embarrassment.

  • Joe,

    NY has WI beat by miles.

    They’re about to legislationally sanctify sodomy and we hear not one word from any church leader anywhere in the Umpire Stake.

    Plus, they keep voting for sordid solons like Anthony Weiner.

  • Mr. Shaw. Re Weiner, not any more. And, yes, I was born and bred in NYC and know all too well about its sordid past and present.

  • T. Shaw,

    While I agree with youur sentiment (NYS is worse than WI), it is inaccurate to state that nno clergy on NYS has spokeen against the pending sanctificattion of homosexual filth by the NYS legislature. The USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of NYC, has issued the obligatory statements against tthis at the USCCB meeting televised yesterday afternoon on EWTN TV. I got home from work about 5 pm and caught somethinng about him speaking on this very topic. Please see this web link for more details:

    Nevertheless, you are correct. Bishop Hubbard of Albany, NY – the guy who eulogized Andy “I am an adulterer” Cuomo who is intent on sanctifying godless sodomy and who lives with his concubine and to whom Hubbard distributed Holy Communion – has done much to damage the Church in NYS. Yet he remains the USCCB social justice flunky. NYS is filled with like-minded clergy, and thus when I visit my children in Syracuse, NY, I find more than half the pews in the Catholic Churches empty.

    The clerical embracing of godless liberal progressive demokracy has done much to weaken the Church in the Empire State. Sorry, folks. That’s the way it is. Too few good clergy and too many heterodox ones

  • Sorry, guys, that my iPad repeats letters. It can’t handle fast typing at this web site.

Void For Stupidity

Wednesday, June 15, AD 2011

Hattip to Ann Althouse.  My hero, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has been guilty of being brilliant again.  Writing in dissent in the case of Sykes v. United States, he took head on what is becoming a huge problem:  almost comically inept legislation passed by Congress:

We face a Congress that puts forth an ever-increasing volume of laws in general, and of criminal laws in particular. It should be no surprise that as the volume increases, so do the number of imprecise laws. And no surprise that our indulgence of imprecisions that violate the Constitution encourages imprecisions that violate the Constitution. Fuzzy, leave-the-details-to-be-sorted-out-by-the-courts legislation is attractive to the Congressman who wants credit for addressing a national problem but does not have the time (or perhaps the votes) to grapple with the nittygritty. In the field of criminal law, at least, it is time to call a halt. I do not think it would be a radical step—indeed, I think it would be highly responsible—to limit ACCA to the named violent crimes. Congress can quickly add what it wishes. Because the majority prefers to let vagueness reign, I respectfully dissent.

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19 Responses to Void For Stupidity

  • The last time I checked, 55 of 100 U.S. Senators had law degrees.

  • They tell us which light bulbs we must use.

    “We have to pass the health care reform bill so we can find out what’s in it.” They solved the dire (people dying in streets all over) health care crisis in 2014: after Obama gets re-elected. Then, you really begin to feel the pain.

    Truth Twain: “Suppose you were an idiot. And, suppose you were a congressman. But, I repeat myself.”

    And, we the people allow the imbeciles to take more of our money, more of our personal business (e.g., health care), more of our liberties.

    Thank God! They know what’s good for us. They will save us from us.

    Thank God for Canada.

  • “The last time I checked, 55 of 100 U.S. Senators had law degrees.”

    If almost three decades at the bar have taught me nothing else Art, they have taught me that law degrees and the ability to write coherently and logically do not necessarily go together!

    The real shame of course is they can’t even be bothered to employ competent staff attorneys to make sure that what they pass makes sense. The changes in the bankruptcy code of 2005 for example are filled with problem areas that any competent bankruptcy lawyer would have been able to point out after a few days of studying the changes. Instead, the Courts are spending years dealing with litigation that could have been avoided if members of Congress and their staffs had simply done their jobs competently.

  • When you try to legislate everything, and when every law is hundreds of pages long, this is the end result. Senator Jim Buckley wrote that most of his colleagues did not read every bill that they voted on, and this was in the 1970s when the volume was less than what it is today.

  • Bad lawmaking also begets bad rulemaking by the agencies charged with carrying out said laws. Even good lawmaking sometimes results in bad rules when agencies lackcompetent staff attorneys or rules coordinators to interpret those laws. I see this every day at my day job.

  • How about make the courts send any poorly-defined ligislation back to the legislature for tightening-up?

    Ditto any court decision that is a close decision, like 5-4.

  • Scalia would be right if the law he was talking about was truly vague. “Violent felonies” is clear enough for me as it was for the other 8 justices. Granted, they didn’t all agree on what it meant but judges often disagree on even the clearest of language so that’s not necessarily evidence of vagueness. It is true that this kind of language gives judges some leeway which is usually used to err on the side of the prosecution and legislatures are loathed to correct it in favor of criminal defendants. I think that’s primarily a problem with the judiciary, not the legislature. Too many biased judges setting bad precedents. One may argue that this means that judges should be stripped of as much leeway as possible. Of course, then there’s the problem with the opposite extreme, i.e., statutory precision can sometimes lead to patently unreasonable outcomes as new unforeseen cases arise. There is a safety valve for this since judges can rule “in the interest of justice” but that power is so rarely used that I can get away with saying that it’s never used. All this is just a long way of saying that the problem is complex.

    Edward, there is no need. The Court can void the entire law and Congress can take it up if they wish.

  • The problem is that 24 year-old wannabes are the ones who actually write the legislation. These are people who, even if they have a JD, lack the life experience to think through the second and third order effects of what they write.

    Yes, the proposed legislation runs through the professional committee staffs and through the Congressman themselves. But when you start with imprecision, you increase the odds that even after all the vetting, you are going to be left with galring errors and omissions more often than not.

    That is but one part of the problem here.

  • Too bad Justice Scalia doesn’t believe that the Declaration is an authoritiative lense through which we understand and interpret the Constitution. Otherwise, he wouldn’t take the horrendous position that abortion by will of the majority would be acceptable vis-a-vis the Constitution.

  • He is absolutely correct in that view Greg, since the Declaration is not law in the same way that the Constitution is. The Declaration is an aspirational statement, while the Constitution is our blueprint for the federal government. The Constitution no more requires the banning of abortion than it requires the overturning of statutes banning abortion. Using the Constitution to reach political goals is precisely at the heart of Roe v. Wade. Overturn Roe, and it becomes a political battle that the pro-life cause will ultimately win.

  • The Declaration of Independence was a legal brief explaining why the colonists wished to separate themselves from the British empire. It has absolutely no force of law, as Donald said.

  • Of course, Don, the Declaration is not a legal document per se. But it does set forth certain principles through which the Constitution cannot be interpreted in a way contrary to those principles. Therefore, Scalia is a pseudo-originalist at best.

  • But it does set forth certain principles through which the Constitution cannot be interpreted in a way contrary to those principles.

    The Constitution and the Declaration are completely different documents with completely different purposes. The latter, as I said, is a legal brief and propaganda sheet (I’m not critiquing it by using that term). It sets forth general philosophic principles, to be sure, but that is all.

    The Constitution was written and ratified a decade later for much different purposes. It sets forth the rules by which the federal government is to operate.

    Therefore, Scalia is a pseudo-originalist at best.

    Only according to the extreme criteria you set forth. According to the actual meaning of the term as understood by most people, he is indeed an originalist.

  • “But it does set forth certain principles through which the Constitution cannot be interpreted in a way contrary to those principles.”

    I imagine that a Justice Scalia and a Justice Ginzburg would apply “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” quite differently in concrete terms. The more vague the language the more license that is given to a judge. I want judges out of the abortion business entirely. Once that is done I am quite confident that politics and demography will ensure pro-life victory through the ballot box. In practical terms of course no majority on the Supreme Court would ever be obtained in any foreseeable future to ban abortion on the grounds that a right to life is set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

  • Don:

    We are not talking about how Scalia or Ginsberg per se would apply, but how the Founders and Framers (who were really one in the same) would apply principles of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

    Now with the first of the three, the Founders, as any honest, reasonable person would believe, believed that governments have an onligation to protect innocent life. If Scalia is to be consistent with himself he would have to extend his “if the majority wills it they get it” critieria, he would have to say the same regarding ALL forms of homicide. The Constitution is as silent about homicide in and of itself as it is about abortion. Homicide, unless it occurs on federal property, involves more than one state, or has direct national implications (such as terrorism) is ajudicated at the state level and the states are left to decide as to what specific penal codes they want to enact. This does not mean they have the right to make them legal. And abortion is clearly a form of homicide. In colonial times, abortions performed after quickening (which was defined as discernable fetal movement) were considered homicide by the statutes of many if not all 13 colonies. With the advances in technology, we can determine distinct life (which is to say personhood) with much more certainty much sooner.

    If my crteria for calling Scalia a pseudo-originalist is extereme, so were the Founders.

  • As a practical matter Greg it is the present justices on the court who make the call, not the Founders. More to the point, none of the Founders ever claimed that the Declaration stood on a par with the Constitution in regard to federal courts making decisions. The Founders would also have regarded abortion as purely a matter for the states, and not for the Federal government. Abortions were banned after quickening in colonial time under English common law. The States did not regulate abortion by statute until the 1850s and 1860s. The Founders would of course have not only thought that the Declaration had nothing to do with state regulation of abortion, they also would have thought the Constitution had nothing to do with a purely state question. The Bill of Rights they would have regarded as completely inapplicable to the States. The Past truly is a different country and a legal challenge to a state law permitting abortion in the time of the Founders would immediately have been thrown out at the Federal district court level. Legal challeges to slavery in the 19th century would occasionally cite the Declaration of Independence and got nowhere fast.

  • Don

    Colonial laws regarding abortions after quickening remained in force long after the Constition was adopted.

    To say that the principles upon which this country was founded have no authoritative bearing on how we interpret the Constitution renders that same Constitution meaningless. This is really what you and Scalia are saying.

  • The idea that the Constitution can and should be interpreted in a manner that is informed by the Declaration is not all that idiosyncratic; Lincoln for one believed it. And it can be justified, I think, but only to the extent that the Declaration might serve as evidence of what the Constitution actually means in cases of ambiguity. But the idea that the Constitution and Declaration are somehow co-equal as legal documents simply doesn’t hold up. Nor is the Constitution simply a vehicle through which various expressions or aspirations set forth in the Declaration are to be imposed or enforced. The Constitution no more addresses abortion than it does other moral violations that we normally criminalize, such as murder. The Framers always understood that the Constitution’s principle purposes were to (i) allocate powers between the states and the federal government as well as among the latter’s branches and (ii) articulate and secure individual liberties against government encroachment. Ordinary police powers were reserved to the states to exercise them as they saw fit. Indeed, a state does not have to criminalize battery or even murder if it does not want to, though it cannot legalize the murder of some and not others without at least a rational basis, depending on the classification. The best argument in favor of a constitutional prohibition against abortion is that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause prohibits a state from providing protection from murder only for born persons, thereby depriving the unborn of equal protection. Of course this argument pre-supposes that the unborn are “persons” within the meaning of the 14th Amendment, a proposition that can be reasonably asserted, but certainly not one grounded in any sense of constitutional originalism.

  • Lincoln took the Declaration as an inspirational text in his crusade against slavery, but he never thought that document gave him the power as President, absent a war time measure, to ban slavery, and he never asserted that Congress had such power in a state as opposed to a territory. His use of the Declaration underlines the difference between the Declaration and the Constitution and their role in law and in our government.

Dumbing Down the Federalist Papers

Tuesday, June 14, AD 2011

I remain fairly ambivalent about Glenn Beck (an ambivalence that got me involved in a heated debate on this very site, but that’s another matter).  His style, especially on television, just doesn’t appeal to me.  He also seems to believe that having the dial turned to 11 is the only way to get his point across.  That said, I am appreciative of his efforts to teach American history to his audience.  He’s had some excellent academic guests like Ronald Pestritto on his show, and he has an appreciation of some of the nuances of American political thought that go over a lot of other heads.

Then I saw this, and I’m ready to grab the pitchforks.  From the product description:

Adapting a selection of these essential essays—pseudonymously authored by the now well-documented triumvirate of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay—for a contemporary audience, Glenn Beck has had them reworked into “modern” English so as to be thoroughly accessible to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intent and meaning when laying the groundwork of our government. Beck provides his own illuminating commentary and annotations and, for a number of the essays, has brought together the viewpoints of both liberal and conservative historians and scholars, making this a fair and insightful perspective on the historical works that remain the primary source for interpreting Constitutional law and the rights of American citizens.

So it’s the New American Bible for the Federalist Papers.  I wonder if Bishop Trautman consulted on this project.

Just as the average person can probably handle such mysterious words as “ineffable,”  I’m sure that most Americans can pretty much figure out what’s going on with the Federalist Papers without Glenn Beck re-translating it for us.  Yes, there are no doubt some tricky words in the 500+ pages and 85 essays, but that’s what footnotes are for.  Annotated versions of the Federalist Papers already exist, and those should suffice for Beck’s purposes.  Besides, part of the joy of the Federalist Papers is reading Madison and Hamilton’s beautiful prose.

Jeff Goldstein elaborates further on why this is problematic.

On the one hand, we’re supposed to believe that anyone can read and understand the Constitution — meaning, we don’t need a special priesthood to interpret the thing (and of course, this is true, assuming a base level of reading comprehension and intelligence, and assuming one can get past the fact that the document itself is like, over a hundred years old!); and yet at the same time, the Federalist Papers, we’re to understand today, are so arcane and abstruse and unintelligible that they aren’t even being taught anymore — a problem happily solved by Beck’s latest offering, a book that rewrites the Federalist Papers using modern language, which can be yours for only however many dollars (through the website, blah blah blah).

I agree with Jeff that this sends a very poorly thought out mixed message.  In fact Beck is playing into the hands of those who criticize the concept of originalism.  He’s conceding that the language of this era is difficult for people to comprehend, so the only way to make these writings more widely accessible is to completely re-write them.  It is a contradiction that I doubt Beck has thoughtfully considered.

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21 Responses to Dumbing Down the Federalist Papers

  • Allow me to play devil’s advocate. The Federalist Papers are 700 pages long. For a slow reader like me, that’s a bit much for something that’s probably not going to change my opinion on anything. I’m not looking for a New American Bible of the Federalist Papers, but I wouldn’t mind a Cliffs Notes or a book of selected readings.

    Then again, it looks like Beck’s book is 500 pages long, so I could be completely off-base here.

  • A few select essays would be fine, but I think re-writing them in modern prose is a bad idea, and for the reasons Goldstein suggests.

    Now if you want a Cliff’s Notes version of the Papers, you can always go here. At this rate, I should have the series wrapped up sometime before my grandchildren are born.

  • I’m on the fence on this one. I see your point and I don’t disagree, but on the other hand, I think it could be helpful in reaching people who would otherwise be disinterested by showing them how The Federalist Papers are still relevant today.

    Ideally, everyone would read the originals. I’ve read them and they aren’t that hard to understand. However, I’m also very politically tuned in and am already inclined to be interested in examining our founding documents. I’ve got scores of friends and relatives whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of this stuff. So if I can get their attention with a book like Beck’s and by extension possibly get them interested enough to read the originals for themselves then maybe that’s a good thing.

  • Paul, I’ve read some of them, and they’re really good.

  • So it’s the New American Bible for the Federalist Papers.
    Or the Douay-Rheims for the Federalist Papers. Learn Latin you slackers!

    Granted, the original Federalist Papers are still in English but if they can be made more accessible, by all means. Unlike the New American Bible, I don’t even see much of an overlap between people who would read the Federalist Papers and people who would buy Beck’s adaptation.

    I hope Beck releases an annotated Constitution. He won’t though because he knows a lot of his followers believe a lot of crazy things about the Constitution and he doesn’t want to lose them.

  • Bad idea. In its own way, rather like updating the language of Shakespeare. They need to be read in the original language, and if that makes it somewhat harder, then so what? Stretch!

    A dynamic equivalence Federalist Papers we don’t need.

  • I was just directed to your blog via Pat Archbold at the NC Register as one of the best Catholic blogs. I’m always looking for these, so naturally I had to come check you out.

    I am unimpressed. You have managed to sound elitist, snobbish, and boring in this post. Actually, you sound threatened, and I don’t understand why. Yes, most of us can handle The Federalist Papers in the original, but look at the state of our Republic and ask yourself why it’s a bad thing to make such important documents more accessible to more people?

    Commenter RR says: “Unlike the New American Bible, I don’t even see much of an overlap between people who would read the Federalist Papers and people who would buy Beck’s adaptation.”

    May I just say, RR, that you’re completely out of touch. Because of GB, there is a huge movement of people in this country who are delving into our founding documents with great enthusiasm. You’ve got a vast segment of the population (of GB listeners) pigeonholed rather nicely as simpleminded followers, or something. But, whatever fits the narrative, I guess.

    He’s not doing this because The Federalist Papers are “arcane.” It’s because they’re still so relevant. You’re making a bad guy out of the wrong person. Might I suggest you expend some energy criticizing those who would banish our founding documents from study at all?

  • “Might I suggest you expend some energy criticizing those who would banish our founding documents from study at all?”

    Who would those people be Lindy?

  • Actually, you sound threatened, and I don’t understand why.

    You probably don’t understand it because it’s not an emotion I’m feeling.

    ask yourself why it’s a bad thing to make such important documents more accessible to more people?

    You can make the documents more accessible without re-translating them. I’d love for every American to read the Federalist Papers. If I had gone into academics they would have been required reading in any course on American politics that I taught.

    Might I suggest you expend some energy criticizing those who would banish our founding documents from study at all?

    I’m not making Beck a bad guy – I’m disagreeing with his approach. I don’t subscribe to the theory that you can never criticize like-minded individuals. In fact, when a fellow traveler does something that hurts the cause it’s imperative to correct them.

  • One other thing occurs to me. How is that the guy who thinks anyone should and can read the Federalist Papers as written is the snobbish and elitist guy, while the man who thinks many Americans might be too simple-minded to grasp them without dumbing down the words is the populist champion?

  • Paul Z: Fair enough. Obviously, you’re free to disagree with Beck’s approach, but I still don’t understand why you think he is hurting the cause, as you say.

    What is the worst that could happen as a result of reading a translation of TFP? That someone would miss out on the beautiful prose (which is, undoubtedly, a shame) but still have a greater understanding of our founding? How is this a bad thing?

    Perhaps you’re right and one can make TFP more accessible without re-translating them. We can see how well this translated version is received to determine if that’s truly the case. I just can’t deem it a bad idea if it allows even a small segment of the population to better appreciate our founding. Maybe this will fill a previously unfilled niche.

    And, for the record, when someone says they’re ready to “grab the pitchforks,” that strikes me as rather emotional. That’s all.

  • I understand your point and can see the appeal of trying to make our founding documents more widely accessible. As I said in my post the one thing I like most about Beck is that he works hard to educate the public about our early history, so I’m sure his heart is in the right place. It just strikes me as the wrong approach.

    And, for the record, when someone says they’re ready to “grab the pitchforks,” that strikes me as rather emotional.

    Oh, I’m just exaggerating for effect. Tar and feathering would be as far as I’d go. 😛

  • All I’m saying is: Don’t lament another approach to reaching people. Maybe it’s not for you, maybe you hate it, but don’t dismiss the idea wholesale just because you think it stinks. I think that’s the reason I thought you sounded elitist.

    And after listening to Beck introduce the idea–after having heard him firsthand–I don’t think he comes to the idea because he thinks Americans are too simpleminded. He just so earnestly believes in the importance of our great founding documents that he will try every approach in making them accessible to everyone.

  • I get it.

    And I will probably still bookmark this blog. : )

  • “I am unimpressed.”

    Take a number.

    “You have managed to sound elitist, snobbish, and boring in this post. Actually, you sound threatened, and I don’t understand why.”

    Because we are better than everyone else and they don’t know it. 😆

    Welcome to the blog Lindy. Look forward to your thoughts in the future.

  • I vote they be translated into Ebonics.

  • I have no problem with Beck’s approach to the Federalist Papers, but his fans are simpletons. That’s why he’s doing this. His whole show is about him teaching the ignorant with chalkboard and teacher’s desk and all.

  • But for the fact the further you get from the original text the more distortion you get in the translation; Beck’s updating/translating is of no consequence.

    RR no need to be insulting – if one has a sound argument one does not need to rely insults to destroy someone’s position, argument, etc. 🙂

  • In my humblest of opinions, The Federalist Papers, like Cicero or Montesquieu, must be read in the original. No matter how faithful the translation or adaptation, something; even a seemingly irrelevant phrase, is lost. I am no scholar, but to me there is merit in struggling to understand works that form the foundation of our society or culture. These types of works are often read and reread thoughout one’s life like Imitation of Christ, or Anna Karenina or Les Miserables. I fear we have tried to make difficult things so “accessible” we no longer stretch the mind for fear it will tear. LOL.

  • Alecto, are you saying that Les Miserables shouldn’t have been translated?

  • RR – your argument is a sound one, I find Glenn Beck far more arrogant than intelligent, with a need to be Center Stage at any cost. The Missionary version of the Music Man, It’s almost sad.

Small Amounts Still Matter

Tuesday, June 14, AD 2011

One of the oddly persistent mistakes people seem to fall into in a whole host of areas of life is the idea that small amounts don’t matter.

Take, for instance, the illusion that I so often fall into: “This will only take me ten minutes a day. No matter how busy I am, I always spend at least ten minutes just wasting time. Clearly, I can add this one extra activity.”

With sufficient determination, and a low enough starting level of commitments, one can pull this off. But in point of fact the day is made up of a finite number of ten minute increments, and one cannot add an unlimited number of them. Sometimes, adding even one ten minute commitment ends up having more ramifications than one would imagine. And time “wasted” is often curiously hard to stamp out.

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Philip Nolan and Flag Day

Tuesday, June 14, AD 2011

Today is Flag Day.  Edward Everett Hale, in his short story A Man Without A Country, reminds us that patriotism is a very powerful form of love.  Hale, a great nephew of Nathan Hale who died on a British scaffold and uttered the deathless  “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.”, wrote the story in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 to help inspire patriotism.

The story is a simple one.  Philip Nolan was a young artillery lieutenant in the United States Army.  He became involved in the  vague scheme of Aaron Burr to detach some territory from the  United States and form an independent nation.  All the big fish escape conviction, but Lieutenant Nolan does not.  At his courtmartial the following takes place:

One and another of the colonels and majors were tried, and, to fill out the list, little Nolan, against whom, Heaven knows, there was evidence enough,–that he was sick of the service, had been willing to be false to it, and would have obeyed any order to march any-whither with any one who would follow him had the order been signed, “By command of His Exc.A. Burr.” The courts dragged on. The big flies escaped,–rightly for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I say; yet you and I would never have heard of him, reader, but that, when the president of the court asked him at the close whether he wished to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy,–

“Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”

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4 Responses to Philip Nolan and Flag Day

  • A very haunting work of fiction indeed. Allegedly, the character of Philip Nolan was inspired by a real-life figure, Cong. Clement L. Vallandingham of Ohio, a notorious Copperhead who was arrested for sedition by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside at one point and exiled to Canada for a time. Supposedly, Vallandingham was overheard saying “Hang the U.S.; I hope the day comes when I never hear the name.”

  • Thanks. This has long been one of my favorite stories — one I can’t read without tears coming to my eyes at the end, softy that I am.

  • Darwin the TV movie from 1973 is just as good. Cliff Robertson was magnificent as Nolan.

    Elaine that is the first I’ve heard of Vallandigham inspiring the character of Nolan. Ugh! To say the least, Copperhead Clement has never been high on my list of figures from the Civil War!

  • Sorry for the man who sees Old Glory and does not feel love and pride.

    If I think about Philip Nolan I become angry. Nolan is nothing but an ancestor for liberal democrats. Only thing: progressives don’t repent.

    America is the worst country in the world except for all the others.

Andrew Sullivan is Certifiably Insane

Monday, June 13, AD 2011

I don’t like to write about Andrew Sullivan.  At this point he should be treated like a troll, meaning it is best to ignore him.  Every now and then it is good to be reminded that Andrew Sullivan has clearly lost his mind.

Most of you have probably read this email that Sarah Palin sent before she gave birth to Trig.  She actually published this in her book, but today it has garenerd wider attention.  It’s a rather touching expression of her faith, and is one of the most beautiful pro-life testimonies you’ll ever read.

One would also think that it’s further proof – not that any is really needed save for disturbed individuals like Sullivan – that Sarah Palin is in fact Trig’s mother.

Oh no.  This is just an opportunity for Sullivan to continue to cast doubts on the official story.

Earlier today there was a replay of the Michael Medved show where he interviewed Jonathan Kay, author of Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground.  Kay and Medved discussed the nature of the conspiracist mindset, and Kay emphasized that there is really not much point in trying to rebut these folks with facts, because they are impervious to all evidence.  Listening to Kay, and then reading Sullivan’s latest screed one is reminded of the futility of trying to deal with such people.

So can we please shun Andrew Sullivan and stop treating him like he’s even a remotely credible journalist of any kind?  No more linking – not even to rebut the man.  Yeah I know I just spent 250 words on the guy, but I guess I’m still in shock that there are people still willing to give this man a platform.  For as absolutely batty Sullivan is, the Daily Beast should be ashamed of employing him.

H/t: Midwest Conservative Journal.

(On a side note, the critics of Kay’s book as well as Sullivan ought really to read my previous post.)

Update: Andrew Sullivan actually responded to an email that I sent him.  Notice anything about the grammar?

show me some evidence. any evidence. then handle all the evidence i
have assembled.
i’m not insane. but palin sure is. when she produces the medical
records i asked for two and half years ago, i will stop asking
why not email her to ask her to clear this up? or do you suspect she cannot?

Yes, clearly we are dealing with a very lucid mind.

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14 Responses to Andrew Sullivan is Certifiably Insane

  • “because they are impervious to all evidence.”

    Good old invincible ignorance. As for Mr. Sullivan, he long ago graduated from “freak show” to “strait jacket”.

  • Sullivan. Ugh. Yes, he is certifiable.

  • Does someone really need to produce a private medical record to some crazy just to prove they had a baby? Really. Whatever happened to trust? Is it so dead that we can’t have faith that a person is telling the truth? He trusts that people in restaurants aren’t poisoning him when he eats out. He trusts a doctor will give him the best advice about a medical procedure. He trusts that an airline pilot will not crash his plane. But he can’t trust that a woman says she had a baby had a baby? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? He’s got serious issues.

  • I try to remind myself that he’s a physically-ill man, perhaps in the early stages of dementia. But he’s also one of the great haters to ever put his thoughts to print, so he’s not blameless. Yes, best for all that he descends into a forced obscurity that will force him to seek the medical and spiritual help he desperately needs.

  • The nation would be much better situated if Sarah Palin today were VP.

    Sulli -who? It’s best to ignore such things.

    Early 2003, I stopped wasting eyesight on his vicious tripe after she accused Pope John Paul II of “traditional Catholic antisemitism” for suggesting peace as an alternative to the invasion of Iraq.

    I blame the evil, filthy liberals (repetitious again) that employ him. He is merely one of the more horrid (of the many vile) Obama-worshiping psychopaths that wrought obamination on the nation.

  • Take a pill. Few people are evil and Andrew Sullivan is not a psychopath. He was not always a hater, either. The wretched part of aging is that we deteriorate in ways those around us might have predicted. In his case, the vector was set by sexual perversion.

  • Andrew Sullivan is not a psychopath

    You’re clearly reading a different Andrew Sullivan than the rest of us.

  • Maybe I am missing the humor, here. I think a short definition of ‘psychopath’ is someone unable to feel guilt or love. I would tend to doubt that describes Sullivan. Of course, I do not know the man personally. Sidney Zion offered a while back an assessment of Roy Cohn in which he said the following: “He did what he wanted to do…that type either ends up in prison or as chairman-of-the-board.” Sullivan is neither a convict nor a captain of industry.

  • Art, you might be taking things a wee bit too literally here, but that’s okay.

  • Since 2003, I have not exposed myself to . . . OOPS!! Wrong choice of words . . .

    “. . . unable to feel guilt or love.” That sounds about right.

    Apparently, AD has a psychiatry medical license.

    I suffer from keyboard Tourrettes Syndrome.

  • No I do not. T. Shaw, you referred to him as a psychopath. Given the atypicality of that sort of person, it is generally safe to assume that a given individual is not.

  • When Sullivan produces medical records (I’ll accept colonoscopy, MRI, CAT scan or x-rays) that prove he is not suffering from irreversible cranial-rectal inversion, I’ll take him seriously.

  • I’m reasonably confident that Sullivan is not a psychopath. He is probably sane enough to be tried for a capital offense, should he ever kill someone, which while not likely is more likely than anyone who regularly visits this blog. But he is a self-righteous jerk who is not as smart as he thinks he is and who interpret everything in life through the distorted lens of his homosexuality, which makes him exceptionally predictable and therefore boring.

  • I stopped listening to Andrew Sullivan when he suggested once that Jesus was anti-family. Not a joke.

Borders are for Fascists

Monday, June 13, AD 2011

I don’t know Klavan on the culture.  If only fascists support the Arizona law, there seems to be a lot of fascism going around since eight states are currently copying the Arizona law, even which that law is still enjoined by a Federal district judge.  Illegal immigration is down about eight percent in recent years however, due mainly to the truly lousy economy.  Obamanomics, it is good for something after all!

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2 Responses to Borders are for Fascists

2012 TAC GOP Presidential Poll

Monday, June 13, AD 2011

The American Catholic will be running a periodic poll of the GOP presidential field. We have included candidates that have declared their candidacy as well as other speculative* candidates. As the primaries arrive the field of candidates should narrow down a bit.

* For example even though Chris Christie has denied he is interested in running, he still will be in Iowa for an inexplicable reason. Until then, he will be showing in the poll until we don’t see his name on the actual roll.

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17 Responses to 2012 TAC GOP Presidential Poll

  • The poll is seriously flawed.

    It does not include an button for “ANYBODY but Obama.”

  • Be careful, T. Shaw. Anybody could be Hillary or Pelousy or Andy “I live with my concubine and take Holy Communion from Bishop Hubbard” Cuomo. There are plenty of unacceptable choices and too few acceptable ones.

    While I voted for Chris Christie, I would nevertheless be more than happy to vote for Sarah Palin if only because her winning would send the liberals intto a fit of apoplexy. 😉

  • Wow, I can’t believe Santorum is the top choice at the moment….

  • So the top 5 are people who either probably aren’t running or have no chance of winning the nomination. #6 is undecided. Newt and Buddy got votes? Must be an error.

  • RR,

    Your optimism knows no bounds!

  • I chose Tim Pawlenty for the simple reason that I would prefer the next president be un-flashy, and NOT a “rock star,” media figure, or conservative mirror image of Obama with an equally strong cult of personality. We need someone who will simply do the job and has held a major public office long enough to prove he can do the job (which, for me, rules out Palin and Christie).

    Pawlenty is in somewhat the same position right now as Jimmy Carter was in mid-1975, or Bill Clinton was in the summer of 1991 — a dark horse candidate who emerged from the field after all the early favorites had imploded for various reasons. I know Santorum is especially good on pro-life issues but I just don’t think he can win — he might end up as a running mate to whomever does win, though.

  • Elaine,

    I think that may be one of the things Americans will be looking for. Like Boehner, someone who is not a demagogue nor a narcissist. An American who gets the job done, not someone who promises a socialist paradise.

  • Obama meets all three criteria:

    (1) Demagogue with a teleprompter
    (2) Narcissist
    (3) Promiser of a socialist paradise

    Yet a majority of the American “peepul” voted for him in 2008.

    It’s 1st Samuel chapter 8 all over again.

  • I also support Pawlenty, though I actually prefer him to Santorum outright, not merely because Santorum can’t win (I still don’t understand why social conservatives should trust Santorum now, and I think he’s become far too focused on his very hawkish side). Pawlenty has yet to break out, but among candidates who are in the race and could conceivably win, he seems to me the best candidate out there, and he seems capable of presenting a serious conservative message vs. Obama without appearing angry, which I think will be important (however justified some level of anger may be).

  • It’s interesting that Santorum is doing especially well among us Catholics. Even more surprising is that Ron Paul is attracting more votes than I thought he would.

  • Of course Santorum would do well among ultra-conservative Catholic Republicans. That’s about the only demographic that he does well among.

    Ron Paul does well in any online poll. Paulites sit in their college dorms scanning the internet 24/7 for polls. That wasn’t a joke. That he’s not winning all the online polls suggests that his support has dropped significantly from 2008.

  • RR,

    “ultra-conservative Catholic Republicans”.

    You mean as opposed to the mainstream perverted-sex-adultery-prone-left-wing-america-hating demographic?

  • I agree with the comparison Tito made. It’s going to come down to a division exactly as deep as that.

    See Michael Voris’ latest video, “The End of America”, here:

  • Tito, as opposed to people like Justice Thomas who said he opposes anti-sodomy laws.

  • Justice Thomas is a great man!

    . . .and opposition to anti-sodomy laws isn’t a big issue item.

  • If we became the Christian Constitutional Republic that we were always intendedd to be, then there would be no need for anti-sodomy laws even as there would be no need for anti-adultery laws or anti-fornication laws. But a people which rejects morality is ever in need of more and more laws to regulate its conduct, hence our burgeoning regulatory bureaucracy.

    Last week I went through a two hour on-line virtual training course at the new company where I work. Of course such courses are required by the public masters – er, I mean servants – in our federal nuclear regulatory agency. This course was all about business ethics. Things like “don’t use company computers for browsing pornography sites,” “don’t use your knowledge of the company’s business tactics to manipulate stocks,” and “don’t take favors from officials in return for a contract” that seem so obvious to a moral and ethical person were the subject of the training. Hey, what’s up with that? Don’t parents teach Christian morality any longer? The answer is NO. So now we have all kinds of business ethics training courses.

    Maybe we do need anti-sodomy laws. And anti-adultery laws, and anti-fornication laws. A perverted culture knows no bounds, but I can’t fault Justice Thomas for assuming that we SHOULD be responsible adults, acknowledging that taking another man’s wife to bed or sticking your reproductive organ in another man’s orifice are both abominations against the Lord God which merit the punishment of the eternal fires of hell. But talk like that is bound to get me reviled, criticized and condemned for being intolerant, divisive, unkind and the worst of all crimes, “not nice.” Hell ain’t nice, either.

How Not to Appear Crazy on the Internet

Sunday, June 12, AD 2011

Frank Fleming is my new hero.  He has written a very useful guide on how to avoid appearing crazy on the Internet.

Caps Lock Is Your Enemy

Look at your keyboard. On the left should be a button labeled “Caps Lock.” Now, there should be a light somewhere indicating whether the Caps Lock key is on. You want that light to be off. If you can’t find the indicator light, try typing on screen. Do you see lower case letters? If not, hit the Caps Lock key and try typing again. When you get your keyboard to the state where it normally types lower case letters, NEVER EVER TOUCH THE CAPS LOCK KEY EVER AGAIN! I can use it because I’m a professional, but you crazy people just need to leave that key alone. This tip by itself will make a lot of you look 100% less crazy.

There are basically two kinds of people who type entire comments with Caps Lock on: stupid people and crazy people. And no one wants to read what either has to say. Now, a stupid person just doesn’t notice or care that his Caps Lock key is on, and someone like that is probably not advanced enough to use the internet. Crazy people, on the other hand, intentionally put the Caps Lock on because they think the reason people haven’t been agreeing with their crazy is that they didn’t say it loud enough. This is crazy person logic, and it is wrong.

And there is another type of Caps Lock user who doesn’t capitalize whole sentences but INSTEAD capitalizes a few SPECIFIC words for EMPHASIS. Now read a sentence like that aloud, shouting every time you come to a capitalized word, and tell me you do not sound like an absolute freakin’ lunatic. This method can turn even basic known facts into crazy-sounding gibberish (“The SQUARE of the HYPOTENUSE of a RIGHT triangle equals the SUM of the squares of the OTHER two sides”).

Similarly, be frugal with your exclamation points! Not every single sentence should end in one! And never use more than one per sentence!!!!11!!eleventy11!1 If you have something useful to say, it should make just as much sense when said in a normal voice.

Bravo!  I would just add that people who do the opposite – meaning people who never capitalize – are even nuttier.  You see that button on the left-hand side of the computer?  The one right below the caps lock?  Yeah, try pressing that while typing out the first word of a sentence, or of a proper pronoun, and always when typing “I.”  Yeah, that’s not so hard now is it?

There’s more.

i can haz proper grammar?

Here’s another pretty basic one: no lolcats speak. Write actual English sentences using real words and proper grammar. Capitalize the first word of each sentence. Use punctuation. there is no reason ur comment 2 a blog or column shud look lik ur a n00b at texting. You’re not writing these things from a old cellphone with just a number pad that lacks auto-complete; there is a big keyboard in front of you.

You save like 0.1 seconds writing “u” instead of “you” at the cost of making yourself look like an absolute idiot. Is there any reason you’re trying to shave off this time? Are there wild dogs bearing down on you as you write why we need another look at Obama’s birth certificate? If so, run from the wild dogs and write your comment later. Your whole sentence shouldn’t scream, “I’m a useless idiot with nothing important to say.” You should never write like that unless you actually are a cat expressing your desire for a cheeseburger.

This drives me up the wall.  I don’t know if it’s the curse of Twitter, texting, or both, but is it really so hard to write in complete sentences with actual words spelled out?  You don’t have character limits on most blogs, and if you do and are actually somehow bumping up against the limit, then you are running afoul of violating this tip:

No Long Screeds

On the other end of the spectrum from the lolcats speak is the guy who apparently has hours to spare writing pages of response as the 200th comment to some blog post. There are people who have long things to say, and they do it by writing columns or writing in their own blogs. But if you can’t get your column published and no one reads your blog, maybe you’re thinking you’ll get exposure by putting the long screed in the comments section of something people actually will read.


Sane people know that the only people who have hours to spend writing pages of text in a comments section are crazy people. And that’s why no will read what they write except other crazy people with way too much time on their hands. So keep it short. Pick one point, and write no more than a couple of sentences. Keeping it short also helps you police your crazy. I’ve seen comments where I’ve read the first paragraph and thought maybe the person was just a little over-enthusiastic, and then I started the second paragraph and realized, “Oh, this is a super crazy person.” So keep it pithy, and avoid the crazy.

The comments on Fleming’s post are a hoot.  Either it’s a collection of the cleverest people on the planet, or a bunch of dunces who would no doubt look blankly at you if you said the word “irony.”

At any rate, there is more at the link.  I think I will now ask Tito to have this permalinked on the right-hand side.

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18 Responses to How Not to Appear Crazy on the Internet

  • Note 1: when you can’t make words italic or bold, the “caps” rule is void.

    Note 2: do not attempt to use list as offensive weapon in argument.

    Note 3: how can they Forget the Randomly Capitalized Word sub-sub-rule? It is one of the True Signs of the Quietly Insane.

    (Seriously, though, most of the calls-in-to-Coast-to-Coast-and-talks-fairies folks I know are otherwise pretty normal. It’s like folks are only mostly sane. If someone’s entirely sane, there’s only one thing you can do: go through their pockets and look for loose change.)

  • This is a great way to start out the day! Some additional thoughts for appearing sane on the internet:

    1. Do not mention the illuminati.
    2. Do not start writing about alien abductions on a thread for a post about a totally different subject.
    3. Do not have more than three links built into your comment.
    4. Do not routinely respond to a 500 word post with a 2000 plus comment.
    5. Do not immediately start comparing complete strangers on the internet you encounter in terms that would seem harsh if applied to Adolph Hitler.
    6. Speaking of Hitler and his killer cronies, do not compare attempts to enforce traffic laws to the Nazis, or any of the other mere annoyances that you encounter in run ins with the government.
    7. If you are going to use a nom de internet, do not use one that is deliberately offensive.
    8. Threats of physical mayhem merely convince your readers that your Mom needs to restrict your use of the internet in her basement.
    9. Before commenting on historical events, it is really nice to first learn something about the historical event.
    10. If in a thead the comments are one hundred and eighty of them are yours, that is probably not a good sign.

  • Foxfier:

    I think the occasional bold is fine, especially if there is no HTML available in the comments. More than two and I stop reading.


    That’s a good addendum. Number 9 should be on the masthead.

  • Well, I have violated these rules (or parts of them) at one time or another, so I must conclude I am crazy. Actually, I concluded that long before I read this little piece. I do nevertheless agree with the requirement to use good grammar and to actually learn something about the history concerning which one is writing; however, the occasional typographical or editorial error is forgivable. But on occasion I do place a significant word in capital letters, especially when it isn’t possible to electronically underline a word or place it in bold font, for example, “Vote AGAINST Obama in 2012.” 😉

    Yup, I am crazy and perhaps happily so. 😉



  • ur such a n00b dale

  • RL:


  • And, yes, I am aware that I can “do” crazy well, thank you very much.

  • Haha Dale. What I thought was most humorous about the original article is that the author could have compiled it after reading just one comment by digbydolben.


    I take it you have had exchanges with Vox Day as well.

  • RL:

    Heh–wasn’t thinking of him, but he’s as windy as they get. I wouldn’t call him crazy, just a loudmouth in love with the sound of his own voice.

    Art: Yep, a few. But I honestly wasn’t thinking of that locale, either. If anything, the commenters at the Reporter fit the bill better than anything. There’s a few straight-up loons over there.

  • I really need to proof my own posts. Sigh.

  • McClary has an interesting take on the matter.

  • Pingback: Andrew Sullivan is Certifiably Insane | The American Catholic
  • Commenting in the form of headline doesn’t always do the trick. But points well taken. Still it isn’t as if the internet is actually people’s living room. It’s a lovely thought but it’s still essentially a reflection of the wider culture.

  • One form of internet crazy I find especially annoying is the ability of some commenters to turn non-political subjects into raging political debates. Anything from celebrity gossip to gas prices to bad weather can veer off into a liberal vs. conservative rant, or an “It’s all Obama’s fault!” vs. “But it was all Bush’s fault first!” screed. I would call this the Bush-Obama Corollary to Godwin’s Law (about the likelihood of Hitler or the Nazis being dragged into any combox debate).

  • Agreed, Elaine. It’s a shame that even the fluffiest of stuff gets filtered through a partisan political lens. Not everything is political, ya know.

Saint Augustine on Pentecost

Sunday, June 12, AD 2011


This is a solemn day for us, because of the Coming of the Holy Ghost on the fiftieth day from the Lord’s Resurrection.

What is the meaning of the Coming of the Holy Ghost?  What did it accomplish?  How did He tell us of His Presence; reveal It to us?  By the fact that all spoke in the tongues of every nation.  What then, did each one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended speak in one of the tongues of each of the nations: to this man one language, to this man another, dividing as it were among themselves the tongues of all the nations?  

No, it was not so: but each man, singly, spoke in the tongue of every nation. One and the same man spoke the tongue of every nation: the unity of the Church amid the tongues of all the nations.  See here how the unity of the Catholic Church spread throughout all nations is set before us.

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One Response to Saint Augustine on Pentecost

  • I hadn’t known until the other day that those who ‘speak in tongues’ should be speaking in a known language – there is a priest who goes into speaking in tongues during the consecration at Mass…an unintelligible sound like: “bananabananabananabanana!” – it always made me uneasy – especially during the consecration. Someone told me then that this is not permitted and that when one speaks in tongues there should be an interpretator…I’m not sure of these things.

O’, I’m a Good Old Rebel

Saturday, June 11, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  O’, I’m a Good Old Rebel by Major James Randolph.  This rendition is sung by Bobby Horton, who has fought a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.  It is the most moving rendition I have heard of this song, with Horton conveying well the bitterness and despair felt by almost all Confederates after the conclusion of the War.  The author served on the staff of General J.E.B. Stuart.  The song has always been popular in the South and was a favorite of Queen Victoria’s son, the future Edward VII, who referred to it as “that fine American song with cuss words in it.”

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17 Responses to O’, I’m a Good Old Rebel

  • The text is curious in it’s distaste of even Revolutionary principles, all the more so for having been written by one of Lee’s aids.

    When I joined the Navy I was surprised by the high percentage of Southerners I served with and embarrassed by how few of my fellow Pennsylvanians served. My Senior Chief was a Virginian from Richmond. One O-dark hundred shift he told me that he preferred Southerners on his ship because, “Officers or men,” Southerners were more loyal and reliable.

    It is a point of pride to me that he considered me almost a Southerner.

    Connecting my rambling back to your post, there are only four or so generations between 1865 and 1988. What a difference a hundred years makes.

  • “Strong hatred defender of peoples.” Iliad, Book XXI

    Similar (Scots-Irish) mindset in the Highlands after Culloden, when the people shepherded Prince Charles out of the country despite a huge reward and the certainty they’d be hanged if they were discovered.

    Was it loyalty trumping common sense or common spleen?

  • The song was written as a cry of the heart to indicate the depth of hatred for the Yankees. Certain elements, specifically hating even the Declaration of Independence, serve to underline the disaffection from the United States of America, even if the Declaration was written by a Virginian, and the efforts of the South were key to victory in the American Revolution.

    The profession of arms has been held in high esteem in the South long before the Civil War. But for most of the appointments to all the service academies, except the Coast Guard, requiring nominations from local Congressmen and Senators, I suspect the Officer corps would be around 80% Southern. There is a beautiful scene in an old John Wayne film set in World War II when he is speaking to a seaman from Tennessee. Wayne expresses surprise since Tennessee doesn’t seem like “Navy country”. The seaman corrects Wayne noting that his great grandfather served on the Merrimac in “the War Between the States”, his grandfather served at Manila Bay under Dewey and his father served in the Atlantic in World War I chasing U-boats. He finishes by saying that Tennessee is sure “Navy country”.

  • I’m sure the depth of bitterness over the Civil War was one reason why Lincoln didn’t really become the revered, iconic figure most people know today until the mid-20th century — after the majority of people who had lived through the Civil War were dead. Up until the 1920s or so Lincoln was still a rather controversial figure.

    I recall reading a story about Harry Truman’s mother, Martha Young Truman — who lived to age 94, long enough to see him become president — having a VERY strong lifelong grudge against Lincoln because her family had been displaced from their farm in Missouri by General Thomas Ewing’s infamous General Order No. 11. (She was about 10 or 11 years old when this happened.) When her son invited her to stay at the White House for the first time, she let him know in no uncertain terms that she’d rather sleep on the floor than spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. She even chided him once for laying a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • I don’t think he would have made the cut in American Idol. When I played it, my dog ran from the room.

  • Don

    Histroy needs felt to be understood. This song teachs more about the post civil war era than a few thousand pages of well researched data could hope.

    I’ve heard this befere except shortened and toned down, that was a crime.

  • Elaine, I would say that Lincoln after the War was revered as a near Saint in the North and reviled as a near Demon in the South. Time has mellowed both interpretations to a degree, but only to a degree, as I am sure Neo-Confederates would hotly agree!

  • Joe, obviously you have a blue belly Yankee loving hound! 🙂

  • Agreed Hank. Period songs when sung convey the passion of a historical period in a way that a bloodless chronicle of events simply can’t. A well-researched historical novel, “The Horse Soldiers” for example, or a well-done movie, Gettysburg, can perform a similar service.

  • ………Hotty Toddy…….’nough said !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Michael S.
    Ole Miss Rebels, 1970…kill the bear !!!!!!!

  • This is a Catholic song?

  • It’s an American song. This blog has a broad brief.

  • “Period songs when sung convey the passion of a historical period in a way that a bloodless chronicle of events simply can’t.”

    Just based on this song alone, it’s obvious that the political passions of the 1860s make the political passions of the 1960s look like a walk in the park.

  • Quite right Elaine. I am always vastly amused when some historically illiterate talking head on tv says something to the effect that Americans are more divided today than at any point in our history. Those who will not learn their history are doomed to having people like me point out their errors! 🙂

  • Yes, this is an interesting song that illustrates the two strands of Southern reaction to the reality of losing the war. The one, portrayed in this song, maintained that despite the war’s outcome, there would be perpetual hatred between the former foes.

    The other, and ultimately victorious view, was embodied in men such as R. E. Lee and James Longstreet, who counselled swift and complete re-integration into the Union– although it must be said that when Lee saw the ravages of Reconstruction and the depredations carried out against the south by the radical Republicans, he is said to have regretted surrending rather than fighting to the bitter end.

    Longstreet went on, after the war, as did many former Confederates, to have long and fruitful lives in harmony with the “conquerors.”

    In short, this song, is after all, just a song. (I do like the part about wishing “they was 3 million instead of what we got.” ;–)

  • “When Lee saw the ravages of Reconstruction and the depredations carried out against the South by the radical Republicans, he is said to have regretted surrendering rather than fighting to the bitter end.”

    Even so, it was his decision NOT to “fight to the bitter end” through guerilla warfare that helped prevent “perpetual hatred” between North and South. He and other Confederates considered it, but in the end chose not to, mainly because they had already seen the results of years of guerrilla warfare/terrorism in “Bleeding Kansas” and Missouri, and did not want to spread that to the entire nation.

    If you haven’t done so already, I heartily recommend reading “April 1865: The Month that Saved America” by Jay Winik, which explains these points better than I can.

  • One has to be careful with post war Lee quotes. In defeat Lee was viewed with the same sort of awe in the South that George Washington was viewed with in the entire nation after the American Revolution. Much that is said second or third hand about what he said in that period is none too reliable. I usually trust only things that Lee wrote down in public and in private correspondence to give a true assessment of what Lee thought. This sentence that Lee wrote down to a newspaper editor in 1865 was something that he also wrote many times in private correspondence until his death in 1870: “It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, give full scope to reason and to every kindly feeling. By doing this and encouraging our citizens to engage in the duties of life with all their heart and mind, with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future, our country will not only be restored in material prosperity, but will be advanced in science, in virtue and in religion.”

    Lee thought that much of Reconstruction, although not all, was wrongheaded. He also thought that the way to address it was through the political process, something he repeated time and again.

2 Responses to Don’t Worry, Planned Parenthood Says It’s Not a Baby Yet

In the World

Friday, June 10, AD 2011

Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

We know this line from John’s Gospel so well that the radicalism of its otherworldliness perhaps escapes us most of the time. We see Christ’s encounter with Pilate while knowing that Christ was about to fulfill the purpose of His incarnation by suffering and dying in reparation for our sins. When Christ says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” one can picture the glories of heaven and raise an eyebrow at Pilate’s belief that he truly stood in power as he “judged” his creator. We know that Christ only suffered at Pilate’s hands because He allowed himself to do so. Had He chosen to end it, in an instant He could have done so.

Yet as followers of Christ we are called to be like Him in being not of this world, but of His Kingdom, and if we think of Christ’s calmness and resignation in the fact of facing torture and death for a nonexistent crime in relation to ourselves, this idea of being of a kingdom not of this world becomes a whole lot scarier. It’s one thing to see Christ, secure in our belief in His divinity, responding to injustice and suffering with the statement that His kingdom is not of this world, but when we are faced with injustice and suffering our instinct is not to think of The Kingdom which is not of this world, but rather to fight back, to demand our rights, and if all else fails to complain and feel sorry for ourselves.

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5 Responses to In the World

  • Yes. I always have to keep reminding myself on a daily basis what Jesus taught while he was on this earth.

  • “As Jake wrote this week in the second part of his series on the Beatitudes, the Church Fathers did not see material poverty as sufficient to be “poor in spirit” in the sense of the Beatitudes, but they did see it as a necessary prerequisite.”

    In general a good post though I disagree with the last sentence of this quote. In this I am reminded of a story told by St. Josemaria Escriva (who I think truly developed a lay spirituality which I think is lacking at times in the Patristics.) In it his discussed a noblewoman he knew who had great gifts – material and otherwise. But she was generous with them, opened her villa for charitable purposes, paid her servents a fair wage and treated them well. Spent a great deal of time with charitable works also.

    This he contrasted with a poor man he saw in a soup kitchen. This man had one possession – his spoon. This man jealously guarded this spoon from everyone. In the former, in spite of the possessions, he saw the true spirit of detachment while in the latter the spirit of being possessed by one’s posssessions – limited as they were. He used this to point out how the spirit of poverty was exactly that – a spirit – and not necessarily a state. St Augustine commented similarly (though I can’t find the quote at this time.)

    I think the layman has to develop this spirituality of being in the world without being of it. That is somewhat different than a stoic acceptance of whatever comes. Yes we need to possess things especially if others are under our care (the alternative is to be completely dependent on others and this is not consistent with Catholic Social Teaching.) This includes long-term planning for education etc.

    At times we may even lose something that we possess. The Catholic spirit of detachment then revels in this share in the Cross that we are given as a share in the Redemption of the world (as opposed to the stoic, self-controlled acceptance.)

    This even includes the loss of those close to us. But this loss is not a positive thing but truly a physical evil. As poverty is a physical evil (and possibly moral if it is brought about by direct human intention) so is the loss of things we need including ultimately our own lives and the lives of those around us. As evils we are right to morn them to the degree of their value. If I lose $20 a little. If I lose my son, a great deal. After all Christ wept not only over Lazarus but also his beloved city of Jerusalem.

    In fact, if we are to change the world, we sometimes must possess more things. Can you imagine an important businessman, official etc. bringing those he wishes to influence to dinner at a shack at the edge of town where his children live in rags. Of course not. These goods are ultimately means, sometimes very powerful means, to achieve good for others and ultimately for God.

  • Philip,

    Thanks for the substantive response.

    I agree with Escriva’s point about poverty of spirit, as a development on the understanding of the Fathers — I guess the one point I’d go further on is that while I think it is at times harder to be generously detached from possessions when one has to scrounge so hard for the few one has, that if one is somehow able to muster the grace and virtue to be generous in the midst of poverty that the person who is able to be both poor and poor in spirit is close to the Kingdom than the person who is materially well off yet poor in spirit. Maybe that’s just because I’m always more comfortable with self criticism, but it seems to me that it is a higher path, though a far harder one — thus the rationale for religious taking vows of poverty.

    Actually, in that sense, it strikes me as much the same as celibacy. As St. Paul acknowledges in a backhanded way, for many attempting permanent celibacy will result not in chastity but in constantly burning desire. Yet, if one can manage it, it is closer to the Kingdom.

    That said, I am myself unwavering in the lay approach to living a Christian life; it’s not as if I were sitting around thinking I ought to be poorer or celibate. And I would agree that it takes a lot of people devoted to living their lives out in the world in order to keep the world in order — I guess I’m just emphasizing (mildly) that the more one lives in the world, the more bits of “of the world” creep in.

  • “Maybe that’s just because I’m always more comfortable with self criticism, but it seems to me that it is a higher path, though a far harder one — thus the rationale for religious taking vows of poverty.”

    Voluntary poverty for the Kingdom (the Religious life) is objectively a higher calling though the subjective reality of vocation also comes into play. That is, what God is calling each of us respectively to. In which case, if God’s call is to the lay state, then that is better for the person.

    “That said, I am myself unwavering in the lay approach to living a Christian life; it’s not as if I were sitting around thinking I ought to be poorer or celibate.”

    As a non-monastic priest said at a retreat I was attending at a monastery “I do not belong here, and you belong here even less.” His point was that as laymen the monastery and its life were not appropriate for us. That included their disciplines. As another once said to me, “Those that idolize the monastic life as the model for laymen wouldn’t last a week in the monastery.” His point again, the lay state, including possessions, is a distinct call which is a call to holiness.

    “And I would agree that it takes a lot of people devoted to living their lives out in the world in order to keep the world in order — I guess I’m just emphasizing (mildly) that the more one lives in the world, the more bits of “of the world” creep in.”

    That’s why God makes laymen, to sanctify the world in all its realities. Not to be possessed by them, but to use them well. The temptations are there as there are temptations in the Religious life. Each has its crosses to bear.

June 10, 1861: First Battle of the War: Big Bethel

Friday, June 10, AD 2011

The first battle of the Civil War, Big Bethel was a classic example of the hazards awaiting untrained troops attempting to take offensive action.  The first of many defeats of Union Major General Benjamin Butler in the War, Big Bethel started off the War in the East with a humiliating little defeat for the Union, an ominous portent of things to come over the next four years.

Placed in charge of Fortress Monroe on the southern tip of the Virginia peninsula on May 23, 1861, Butler began operations to extend Union control into areas near Monroe.  On the night of June 9-10, Butler ordered 3500 Union troops in two columns marching from Hampton and Newport News, to perform a night march,  and launch a surprise attack on Confederate positions at Little Bethel and Big Bethel.  Butler’s plan would have tasked the abilities of well-trained veteran troops, as a coordinated surprise attack by converging columns after a night march is the military equivalent of brain surgery.  Expecting the raw troops he commanded to carry this out was simply absurd and an invitation to disaster.

The disaster ensued.  A friendly fire incident between the two columns gave the Confederates ample warning of the attack.  The 1200 Confederates easily beat off the piecemeal Union attacks.  Union casualties were 18 killed and 51 wounded.  Confederate losses were 1 killed and 7 wounded.  The Confederate press made much of the victory, although it had little meaning other than as the first example of the gross military incompetence of Benjamin Butler that would hamper Union operations for almost the entire war.  Here is Butler’s self-serving report of this fiasco:

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11 Responses to June 10, 1861: First Battle of the War: Big Bethel

  • This should be an interesting four years. I might actually learn something by 2015.

  • One of the good byproducts of my blogging hobby Pinky, is that I learn a lot, especially from the comments to my posts.

  • Well, I won’t be educating anyone with my comments on Civil War posts, but I’m thankful that I found a site populated by history buffs just in time for the sesquicentennial. It’ll be like the Bicentennial Minutes that used to be on TV. Oh, man, we’re within spitting distance of the country’s 250th anniversary. That makes me feel so old.

  • I knew you were old when you mentioned “Bicentennial Minutes.” I had forgotten about those. 😉

  • I clearly remember the Civil War centennial years.

    I am not old.

  • Keep saying that T.Shaw! It is the mantra of the proud USOCC! (United States Old Coots Corp) 🙂

  • I also refuse to grow up. Ask my wife.

  • T Shaw.

    You have those two problems too, huh?

  • Not me. The wife has those problems.

    Thank God, I don’t need to live with me. She’s a saint.

  • “Thank God, I don’t need to live with me. She’s a saint.”

    Yeah, but we have to put up with you here and we’re not saints. 😉

  • Two of the Spiritual Works of Mercy: “Bear wrongs patiently” and “Forgive all injuries.”

    CW military history is replete with “general” incompetence for which the private soldier paid with his life.

    The weaknesses were tactical, operational, and complete inability to adapt formations/tactics to new, more lethally accurate/efficient weaponry and large volume, massed fire-power made possible by RR transportation.

    No general seemed to understand that the attacking formation was at a fatal disadvantage.

    Yeah, on her way to sainthood she was expelled from the gestapo . . . for cruelty.

    Now, I’m in trouble.

The Beatitudes from the Gospel According to Luke, Secunda Pars

Thursday, June 9, AD 2011

What follows is the second part of a three-part piece. The first part can be found here.



3. Patristic Background from the Catena Aurea

Latin for “The Golden Chain,” St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea is the Angelic Doctor’s compilation of commentaries by the early Church Fathers on each of the four Gospels. What follows is a gloss of the provided commentaries for Luke 6:20-23.

We begin with Ambrose. While I have not said much about the first part of verse 20 (“And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples”), Ambrose asks, “What is lifting up the eyes, but to disclose a more hidden light?” Christ is calling his hearers to a deeper understanding of God and His plan for mankind. If I could, allow me to briefly return to the Greek for the word “Behold” (idou). An alternate translation of the imperative is “Look!” or even “See!” While Luke is using a common Greek word, this command to “See!” is reminiscent of Christ’s observation, “they have eyes but cannot see.” The Lord is not simply calling us to pay attention, but rather he is calling us to see with the eyes of faith. He is speaking directly to the heart of man. In a way, he is telling his listeners, “My friends, you have heard the Prophets, you have read the Scriptures, but you know not their fullness. I will, if you let me, show you the fullness of the heavenly mysteries. Everything you think you know is only the beginning. You have heard the ethic in the Ten Commandments, but I call you to the ethos of these Beatitudes.”

Ambrose next observes that Luke mentions only four blessings, while Matthew eight. Nonetheless, “those eight are contained in these four, and in these four those eight.” He ties each of the blessings in a specific way to a particular virtue. Poverty yields temperance because it “seeks not vain delights.” Hunger leads to righteousness in that he who is hungry suffers with the hungry, and this brings righteousness. In weeping, man learns to weep for those things eternal rather than those things of time, which requires the virtue of prudence to distinguish between the two realms. In “Blessed are you when men hate you,” one has fortitude, a fortitude which allows one to suffer persecution for faith. These virtues are then paired with Matthew’s Beatitudes in order to demonstrate continuity between the two Gospels: “temperance therefore brings with it a pure heart; righteousness, mercy; prudence, peace; fortitude, meekness. The virtues are so joined and linked to one another, that he who has one seems to have many.”

In both cases, each evangelist has placed the blessings of poverty first. For Ambrose, this is indicative that “it is the first in order, and the purest, as it were, of the virtues.” In other words, the subsequent blessings depend on the condition of being impoverished. If one is overcome by the desires of the world, he “has no power of escape from them.”

In a similar fashion, Eusebius observes, “But when the celestial kingdom is considered in the many gradations of its blessings, the first step in the scale belongs to those who by divine instinct embrace poverty. Such did He make those who first became His disciples; therefore He says in their person, ‘For yours is the kingdom of heaven.’”

Cyril agrees: “After having commanded them to embrace poverty, He then crowns with honor those things which follow from poverty.”

While Basil is consistent in placing the primacy of the blessings with that of poverty, he also warns that the blessing is not automatic but requires the correct disposition. “[N]ot everyone oppressed with poverty is blessed, but he who has preferred the commandment of Christ to worldly riches. For many are poor in their possessions, yet most covetous in their disposition; these poverty does not save, but their affections condemn. For nothing involuntary deserves a blessing, because all virtue is characterized by the freedom of the will. Blessed then is the poor man as being the disciple of Christ, Who endured poverty for us.” Perhaps this is why Cyril notes that in Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  I have noted above the textual variants in this regard, but it should be recognized that the Fathers in no way see “poverty of spirit” as mere detachment that can exist even in the absence of actual material poverty. Instead, they see material poverty as a pre-requisite for poverty of spirit, a disposition that must be had to convert the pre-existing material poverty into a blessing.

Each of the Fathers then shows how poverty leads to the other blessings in Christ’s sermon. Cyril says, “It is the lot of those who embrace poverty to be in want of the necessities of life, and scarcely to be able to get food.” Continuing, “[P]overty is followed not only by a want of those things which bring delight, but also by a dejected look, because of sorrow. Hence it follows, ‘Blessed are you that weep.’” Finally, Theophilus indicates, “He then who on account of the riches of the inheritance of Christ, for the bread of eternal life, for the hope of heavenly joys, desires to suffer weeping, hunger, and poverty, is blessed. But much more blessed is he who does not shrink to maintain these virtues in adversity. Hence it follows, ‘Blessed are you when men shall hate you.’ For although men hate, with their wicked hearts they cannot injure the heart that is beloved by Christ.”

This gloss of the Catena Aurea is sufficient for examining the portion of the Beatitudes dealing with poverty. It is evident that each of the represented Fathers sees poverty as having a place of primacy among the beatitudes. This is indicated by both Gospel writers in their placement of the virtue first in their respective lists, lists that are renderings of the very words of Christ. However, we must not ignore the second part of the beatitude: “for theirs is the kingdom of God.” For patristic background on this, we depart from the Catena Aurea and take up Origen.

Origen referred to Jesus as the autobasileia, that is, the Kingdom in person. In other words, for Origen, the kingdom is not a geographical location; Jesus himself is the Kingdom, or rather the Kingdom is Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth insists (in light of his reading of Origen) that the phrase “Kingdom of God” is a “veiled Christology.” The Holy Father states, “By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence” (Benedict, 49). Delving deeper into the linguistic nuances of the word “kingdom,” Pope Benedict (quoting Stuhlmacher) says, “The underlying Hebrew word malkut is a nomen actionis [an action word] and means – as does the Greek word basileia [kingdom] – the regal function, the active lordship of the king. What is meant is not an imminent or yet to be established ‘kingdom,’ but God’s actual sovereignty over the world, which is becoming an event in history in a new way” (Benedict, 55).

It should be noted that the Holy Father is not actually speaking of the Sermon on the Mount when he makes these linguistic observations. Instead, he is engaged in exegesis of Matthew 1:14-15, when Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Nonetheless, the Greek word basileia that is used in Matthew 1 is the same Greek word found in Luke’s first beatitude. Therefore, not only are the linguistic observations still relevant for the current project, but establishing the connection (both spiritually and linguistically) between Christ’s Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Sermon on the Mount will be of prime importance in the final part. I will have more to say about Pope Benedict’s thoughts in this matter, but this mention of Origen and his interpretation of the phrase “kingdom of God” as the person of Jesus is sufficient for this section on patristic background.

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3 Responses to The Beatitudes from the Gospel According to Luke, Secunda Pars

Of Special People and Common Idiots

Thursday, June 9, AD 2011

Hattip to Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal. With one of my sons being autistic, it is little surprise that one of my favorite charities is Special Olympics.  It allows people who too often spend much of life on the sidelines  to compete as athletes and to be admired for what they can accomplish in overcoming the handicaps that life has dealt them.  The whole Special Olympics program is magnificent for special people and their parents, relatives and friends.  One would think that such an organization would be respected by all.  I guess not.

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22 Responses to Of Special People and Common Idiots

  • I’ve noticed that they’ve taken down their facebook page, or at least it is currently unavailable. I guess when each and every person wrote in to tell them what incredible idiots they all were they realized their public support was less than 100 percent.

  • These are Kurt’s people. Take the ban off and let him make a fool of himself defending his union buddies.

  • I can’t come up with words foul enough to describe the lowlifes who could pull a stunt like this and ruin a day to honor Special Olympians. I didn’t think anyone could sink as low as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist crew, but the public employee unions of the State of Wisconsin have proven me wrong.

  • This is just awful! What numbskull thought it was a good idea to protest at the Special Olympics?! I hope the Olympians had a great time anyway. These union supporters should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Jay Nordlinger writes about the idea of “safe zones”: that a person should be able to go to a concert, for example, without having someone foist his politics on him. This is the nastiest safe zone violation I’ve ever heard of.

  • Imagine there is no liberal.

  • I teach special needs kids age 17-22. If I could have reached through the monitor I would have committed a mortal sin on these protestors. Even Mother Theresa would b–ch slap these people.

  • What astonishes me about the protesters is that their hijacking of
    the kid’s moment with the governor was clearly planned, not impromptu.
    I could understand it if someone made an ass of himself because he
    was caught up in the moment, but these people got together, created
    costumes, applied makeup, and choreographed their movements.
    How is it that in all the time it took to do that, no one in the group
    realized that what they were about to do was so grotesque? It is
    chilling that there was not one shred of decency to be found amongst
    all the members of that group. What won’t they stoop to?

  • In my lifetime, I’ve known several mentally ill people, a couple of brain-damaged people, and have met several mentally disabled people. These idiots who disrupted a Special Olympics events becase they didn’t like the Governor shows the utter heartlessness of people committed to an ideology. It’s one thing to disageee with the Governor, it’s just cruel to abuse innocent people in this way. I hope the law in Madison throws the book at these creep! Maybe McClary can be appointed special prosecuter! LOL!

  • Since the pro-union protesters have made a point of showing up at the Capitol and protesting Gov. Walker’s public appearances on a regular basis, in retrospect, outside the Capitol might not have been the ideal place to hold this awards event… but even that probably wouldn’t have stopped these protestors.

    One would think liberal Democrats would respect Special Olympics because of its connection to the Kennedys (having been founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver) and because its “everybody wins” approach (entirely appropriate for developmentally disabled persons) is something liberals in general seem to want to impose on all educational and recreational activities even when it is NOT needed or appropriate. Then again, given that so many liberal Democrats fight tooth and nail for the right to kill these children before birth, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

    As I’m sure you know, Don, autistic youth and those with other developmental disabilities don’t take too kindly to sudden disruptions in their routine; plus they tend to take things much more literally and personally than “normal” or neurotypical people do. What did these Special Olympians think when these rude people all drenched in fake blood and gory makeup appeared? Most of them probably don’t know, or care, about public employee unions or collective bargaining rights; all they know is that a bunch of people showed up at their special event and started acting really weird. We may realize it wasn’t aimed at them, but they may not, and it may have been extremely disturbing to some of them.

    Finally, this debacle just goes to show how far off the rails the concepts of civil disobedience and free speech have gone in the media age. It’s one thing to take upon ONESELF the consequences of disobeying an unjust law or order; it’s another thing entirely to call attention to one’s cause by simply being an (expletive deleted) regardless of the hardship or indignity it causes OTHERS.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) “Most of them probably don’t know, or care, about public employee unions or collective bargaining rights; all they know is that a bunch of people showed up at their special event and started acting really weird. We may realize it wasn’t aimed at them, but they may not, and it may have been extremely disturbing to some of them.”
    Elaine, I was telling Don something along those same lines yesterday at home, before we saw your comment. Had our son been there, he probably would have become quite upset at “mean people” interrupting what he had been expecting to happen. (Now, if the union thugs had been a bit more clever, they could have dressed up as Star Wars stormtroopers. Our son loves Star Wars — but he probably would have tried to touch them and talk to them then, and that probably wasn’t the effect the union thugs were going for. Oh, well!)

  • I am stunned and horrified at everyone blaming the victims – the protestors are just fighting for their rights to live in peace and harmony. So a few handicapped people were inconvenienced; their day must be sacrificed for the greater good and liberation of the working person (notice I did not say “man” because that would be sexist). LONG LIVE THE REVOLUITION!! It was the draconian, jack booted Nazi, black helicopter flying, Earth hating, Darth Vader-like behavior of the Republican Governor that caused the problem – if Mr. Walker would stop taking away the workers rights, the workers would not have had to been there.

    “A man must be sacrificed now and again to provide for the next generation of men.” – Amy Lowell. It was the Special Olympics day to sacrifice so the next generation may survive. It was caused by the inevitable march of history not the poor choices of the protestors.

    I am sure President Obama has contacted the Special Olympics and talked to them about restoring civility to our national discourse.

    Some may dislike what must be said but someone or organization must sacrificed for the greater good. To paraphrase George Orwell “To Sacrifice is Strength.”

  • Catholiclawyer.

    Are you serious????

    If so, you are a freak.

  • Don, I suspect that your sarcasm detector might need some fine tuning…

  • Now Don, you should have realized from many of my posts over the years that anyone with “lawyer” in his nom de internet may occasionally “illustrate absurdity by being absurd”! 🙂 Bravo CatholicLawyer!

    It just goes to show Don, never take at face value anything said by those sneaky attorneys! 🙂

  • I assume C/L’s “sarc-squared” function was operational.

    The point: Liberals and gov employee unions are not renowned for their intellectual acuity . . . their talents center on looting taxpayers.

  • Aha !! Mea culpa.

    I must say though, that meaningful and impacting sarcasm should be kept brief; but because it went on and on……

    Oh well, lawyers – talk a lot and say nothing. 🙂

  • How dare you Don! I will have to write a 250,000 word post to refute that libel! 🙂

  • Before you get started, I will have to plead “no contest” 🙂

    (mainly to avoid the pain) 😉

  • Their disruption of the ceremony was vile indeed, but my first thought was “They dressed like zombies?” In other words, the protesters simply reinforced the perception that they are unthinking automatons in bad need of brains. Yes, there were severely mentally challenged people at this event – and it’s not the Special Olympians I’m referring to.

    Sheesh. I’m a Wisconsinite and I am sick to death of Wisconsin politics. But I guess that is the leftist game plan – to wear down ordinary people to the point where we give up and let the left win, simply to stop the shouting.

    Except we’ve figured out that these folks never stop shouting.

  • It was mild sarcasim, the greatest form of humor (at least for me). As for lawyers talking a lot and saying nothing – there may be some truth to that but I will wait for Don’s brief.

  • Courage, Donna V.

    Last Laugh Department:

    WI Supreme Court upheld Gov. Walker’s bill reforming public employee unions – abolishing automatic withholding of dues, which was the cause of all this crap.

    The legislature, a judicial special election (where union organization should have been decisive), and the WISC all righteously beat them down.

    And, all along they showed us that they are thugs and, even worse, hurt a lot of little children.