6

Lessons to Learn

As we observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is all too easy in studying battles, strategies, emancipation, political conflicts, etc., to lose sight of the fact that those going through this immense struggle were individuals like us.  The video above, with photos of Confederate soldiers, helps remind us of what just an immense tragedy the Civil War was for the loved ones of every soldier who fell in that war.  Virtually every soldier was loved by some one, and usually many people:  parents, siblings, friends, other relatives, and a wife or girlfriend.  It is fitting and proper that we study the war, but we must never lose sight of the human suffering behind what we study.  Many of the men in the photos in the video above doubtless died of illness or battlefield wounds far from family and loved ones.  It is for us to draw meaning from why they fought and what they died for. Continue Reading

18

I Am Shocked! Shocked!!!

Hattip to Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  I know that this will come as a vast surprise, but apparently there are grifters and con artists among the Occupy Wall Street minions:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day. Continue Reading

9

So Why Go There?

Here’s an issue near and dear to my heart as an alum of CUA:

The Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights confirmed that it is investigating allegations that Catholic University violated the human rights of Muslim students by not allowing them to form a Muslim student group and by not providing them rooms without Christian symbols for their daily prayers.

The investigation alleges that Muslim students “must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”

As one of the commenters at the news source said, isn’t this like going to a strip club and being offended by the nudity?  These students didn’t enroll at a Catholic university, they enrolled at The Catholic University of America.  Pretty hard to miss that in the title of the institution, don’t you think?   Fr. Z puts it this way:

Lemme get this straight. They enroll in a Catholic University… and it isn’t a surprise that it is “Catholic” given that it is called “Catholic University of America”. Then they complain that there are Catholic symbols everywhere!

When I was a grad student there I knew a good number of law students.  This was during the time when Doug Kmiec was Dean of the law school and still cared about his faith.  He had instituted a mandatory course requirement that, if I recall correctly, was called Catholic Legal Ethics.  It may had a slightly different name, but it was something along those lines.  My non-Catholic friends complained about the course and being forced to take it.  My response: you’re attending the Catholic University of America law school.  Did you miss  that name when you applied?

25

Gutless Wonders, Petty Tyrants and Chancery Dwellers.

For years I have read daily Ten Reasons, a blog run by Rich Leonardi.  Orthodox and well written, Ten Reasons was always illuminating and well worth reading.  Now Rich has shut down his blog.  The reason why he did so has me so angry that I am afraid that I cannot do a post on the subject using only language fit for a family blog.  Instead, here is what the ever eloquent Dale Price had to say about this at Dyspeptic Mutterings:

Gutless wonders, petty tyrants and chancery dwellers.

But I repeat myself. Yes, I know there are good folks laboring in the bureaucratic halls of the Church–this isn’t directed at you. As for the rest of you…

The rector of the Cincinnati seminary managed to successfully retaliate against Rich Leonardi, long-time Catholic blogger extraordinaire and pointed, but usually civil, critic of the manifold problems of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Rich was booted off the Son Rise Morning Show in retaliation for his criticism.

Here’s the message he sent me in response to a query on Facebook:

To net it out, the seminary rector reached out to the head of the Son Rise Morning Show to have me thrown off the program. I called him out on it, and a pissing contest ensued. I shut down my site and intend to withdraw from public Catholic life.

In the meantime, Ken Overberg will continue to deny the Atonement from the pulpit, and Paul Knitter will air his doubts about the salvific significance of Christ and the historicity of the Resurrection, both undisturbed in the sanctuary of Xavier University. Because doing something about *them* would take a set of clockweights, the willingness to endure media hostility and the turning of a deaf ear to the squalling of local progressives.

Squashing a layman who criticizes the local leadership? You can do that in a snap and still have plenty of time to enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with lunch. To applause from “the right people,” to boot.

 

Continue Reading

October 27, 1964: A Time For Choosing

Ronald Reagan launched his political career with this speech 47 years ago on behalf of Republican Presidential Nominee Barry Goldwater.  Goldwater went on to be clobbered in November by Lyndon Johnson, but the reaction to Reagan’s speech by conservatives was overwhelmingly positive.  In 1966 Reagan ran for and won the Governorship of California.  14 years later he was elected President of the United States.  Reagan had a relatively brief political career, and it all started with The Speech as this address has gone down in history.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

2

Help for Expectant Mothers

So often we hear stories about how expectant mothers abort children with diagnosed birth defects.   As awful as abortion is in its own right, it’s terrifying to think that it is being used for eugenic purposes, whether people realize it or not.  Yet, we can’t fully blame parents who believe they have no other recourse.

There are outlets available for parents in such difficult situations, and I just learned of one yesterday.  Isaiah’s Promise, as stated on its webpage, provides “support for parents continuing their pregnancy after a poor or fatal diagnosis.” It is a support place to ontact for guidance through the hard decisions about what to do with a poor diagnosis.

They have very limited resources, as their rather bone-thin website indicates.  So please take a look at the site and see if there’s any help you can provide, either with manpower or with financial donations. Or, if nothing else, if you know of someone in this situation let them know about this resource.

25

BOMFOG & Towards Reforming the International Financial & Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority

Well, I have had an opportunity to review the latest musings of the pontifical counsel for justice and peace.  My overall reaction is the same as the famous comment that a Professor once put on a term paper.  “This paper is good and original.  Unfortunately where it is good it is not original, and where it is original it isn’t good.”  On to the fisk!

“The world situation requires the concerted effort of everyone, a thorough examination of every facet of the problem – social, economic, cultural and spiritual. The Church, which has long experience in human affairs and has no desire to be involved in the political activities of any nation, ‘seeks but one goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth; to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served.’”

So far so good.
With these words, in the prophetic and always relevant Encyclical Populorum Progressio of 1967, Paul VI outlined in a clear way “the trajectories” of the Church’s close relation with the world. These trajectories intersect in the profound value of human dignity and the quest for the common good, which make people responsible and free to act according to their highest aspirations.

The last sentence reminds me of a phrase that Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches:  “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”  His aides used to refer to it as BOMFOG.  The more high-falutin the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

7

Standing for everything will get you nowhere fast…

 

G.K Chesterton is reputed once to have opined: “It’s not the man who stands for something who scares me.  It’s the man who stands for everything.”

Sadly, it appears the same is true when it comes to peoples’ religious affiliations.

Remember when the United States was considered the dominion of the White-Anglo/Saxon-Protestant (WASP) man?

Well, it seems that the once-powerful Episcopalian denomination in the United States which once stood for something and now stands for everything has come upon very tough times.  It now counts less than 2M as members.  In fact, a statistical report produced by the denomination notes that its member rolls have shrunk by 40% between 1965 and 2010 even as the U.S. population has increased by more than 50%.

Consider some of the grim statistics:

  • In 1965, there were more than 3.5M+ U.S. Episcopalians.  In 2010, there were 1,951,907 members.
  • The denomination’s 10-year change in active  membership (2000-2010) dropped 16% while attendance decreased by 23% to 657,831 in 2010.
  • Parishes are closing.  In 2010, 100 parishes closed.
These statistics certainly don’t bode well for the future of the Episcopalian denomination in the United States.  As the remaining Episcopalian congregations increasingly age, they will become increasingly disconnected from Episcopalian youth.
Is there a causal relationship between being “progressive”—all of that diversity and inclusion stuff—and the death of once-powerful Christian denominations?  Perhaps “yes” in the sense that the more traditional wing of the Anglican Church is growing.  Perhaps “no” in the sense that membership in mainline Protestant denominations is declining across the board which could have much to do with a culture whose members are charmed by secularism, materialism, and consumerism.
But, one thing is for sure.  The statistics suggest that short of divine intervention, Protestant denominations which stand for everything are going to have a very difficult time surviving into the next generation.
To read the 2010 statistical summary of the  Episcopal denomination, click on the following link:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Domestic_FAST_FACTS_Trends_2006-2010.pdf
2

Father Z on the Latest Folly From Justice and Peace

 

My co-blogger Christopher Blosser has done his usual yeoman work in pulling together reactions from around the Catholic blogosphere to “TOWARDS REFORMING THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AND MONETARY SYSTEMS IN THE CONTEXT OF GLOBAL PUBLIC AUTHORITY” from the pontifical counsel on justice and peace.  One of my favorite blog authors Father Z, who I have designated Master of the Fisk, has some memorable comments on it:

 

I have a few things to digest yet, and it takes me a while, since this isn’t exactly my bailiwick.  However, I can say this: thanks be to God this “white paper” doesn’t form part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium.

Every once in a while the Holy See’s smaller offices, Pontifical Councils and so forth, have to put out a paper to justify their budgets and remind everyone that they take up valuable space.  These documents, which do not form part of the Holy Father’s Magisterium, can deal with critical issues like how to be a safe driver.  The dicasteries keep busy by hosting seminars on how to play sport and so forth.

Some of my favorite points in the new “white paper” include the suggestion that there should be global monetary management and a “central world bank” to regulate it and that the United Nations should be involved.  National banks have, after all, done such a good job that we should now make the effort transnational!  And is this the same UN that had nations such as Saudi Arabia and, till recently, Libya on the their human rights commission?  Wasn’t there a UN financial corruption investigation still going on?  Is this the same UN that is pushing contraception pretty much in every poor country on earth?  Was that a different UN?

Another high point in the new “white paper”: “These measures ought to be conceived of as some of the first steps in view of a public Authority with universal jurisdiction; as a first stage in a longer effort by the global community to steer its institutions towards achieving the common good.”

Uh huh. Continue Reading

Big Bird Exposed!

Well done Klavan on the Culture!  Back in the halcyon days of my youth we could get in three television stations, one of them fairly fuzzy, and radio consisted of about 10 stations that we could get clearly.  Why in an age of hundreds of tv channels and thousands of radio stations, internet access to endless sources of educational and entertainment videos, and internet radio does one thin dime go to National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting system?  Politics.  Democrats know that NPR and PBS lean heavily to the left and find them useful auxiliaries. Continue Reading

16

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” – a roundup of reactions

On Monday, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace published a statement on the global economic crisis: “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” [click link for full text]

Suffice to say, reactions were spirited (and in many cases, predictable), reflecting “a tired pattern”, to quote Zach (Civics Geeks)

Everyone once and a while there is a news story about “the Vatican”. “The Vatican” issues a document of some sort. The document says something about current affairs. Immediately there are two very predictable reactions, depending on whether the person is inclined to agree with the Church or not.

  1. “Look! The Church teaches that Catholics have to think like I think! My opinions have acquired divine authority. The world would be a better place, and the Church would be a better Church, if every Catholic just obeyed Church teaching like I do.”
  2. “I don’t have to obey the Church – I can think for myself. It’s fine if some old white men in Rome think that, but I don’t have to and I am still a good Catholic.”

These are, of course, caricatures, but I think they express two attitudes that are quite common. They are alike in that they are both dogmatic and reactionary.

What follows then are some mostly thoughtful responses — fodder for a discussion here at American Catholic).

  • “The Pope, Chaplain to OWS? Rubbish!” – George Weigel in a characteristic clarification from National Review‘s The Corner, on those who would imbue the document with too much authority:

    The truth of the matter is that “the Vatican” — whether that phrase is intended to mean the Pope, the Holy See, the Church’s teaching authority, or the Church’s central structures of governance — called for precisely nothing in this document. The document is a “Note” from a rather small office in the Roman Curia. The document’s specific recommendations do not necessarily reflect the settled views of the senior authorities of the Holy See; indeed, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the press spokesman for the Vatican, was noticeably circumspect in his comments on the document and its weight. As indeed he ought to have been. The document doesn’t speak for the Pope, it doesn’t speak for “the Vatican,” and it doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church.

  • Pope Benedict Calls For “Central World Bank” … Only He Didn’t. Here’s Why – Thomas Peters (American Papist) counters the spin of Fr. Tom Reese, who “seems perfectly happy to help the mainstream media fundamentally misunderstand the authority of teaching this document enjoys, [claiming] that the pope has “more in common with the people at occupy wallstreet” than the tea party.”
  • “while economists are learning from the Vatican, perhaps the Vatican might learn a few lessons from economic analysts” muses Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture): “If you want to promote Catholic social teaching, don’t wander beyond your expertise. Stick to moral principles, and leave economic analysis to the economists.”
  • Also weighing in from “The Corner”, Dr. Samuel Gregg with Catholics, Finance, and the Perils of Conventional Wisdom:

    Plenty of other critiques could — and no doubt will — be made of some of the economic claims advanced in this PCJP document. As if in anticipation of this criticism, the document states, “We should not be afraid to propose new ideas.” That is most certainly true. Unfortunately, many of its authors’ ideas reflect an uncritical assimilation of the views of many of the very same individuals and institutions that helped generate the world’s most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. For a church with a long tradition of thinking seriously about finance centuries before anyone had ever heard of John Maynard Keynes or Friedrich Hayek, we can surely do better.

    (Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty: A Treatise on the Free Society, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future).

  • Mark Brumley, President and CEO of Ignatius Press, on “Going the way of World Government” (Catholic World Report):

    If the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is trying to make the Catholic Church sound as if she’s living in a fantasy world or trying to portray Catholic social teaching as completely irrelevant to real world problems, I’d say, “Mission accomplished.” If, on the other hand, the council wants people seriously to think about the problems of globalization, it’s going to have to demonstrate a much better grasp of political and economic practicalities, as well as the limits and dangers of international solutions. At the risk of sounding like an End of the World visionary, I suggest we should temper our enthusiasm for world-authority solutions by re-reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 675-677, and by consulting the Book of Revelation, chapter 13.

    By all means, let’s discuss global problems and possible solutions. Let’s recognize the dangers of nationalism and the imbalances that exist between rich and poor nations. Let’s not overlook the weakness of international capitalism or pretend the free market has all the solutions. Let’s have a good philosophical discussion about world government, and its long-term prospects, if the world endures for a few more centuries. But let’s remember that, historically speaking, those who have tried to act on their talk about a world political order have wound up being tyrants.

  • Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of the Mises Institute, author of Sing Like a Catholic (2009) and Bourbon for Breakfast
    (2010), and (familiar to many readers) as a daily contributor to The New Liturgical Movement“Right Diagnosis, Deadly Cure”:

    … the document’s identification of loose credit with market liberty is the beginning of the end of the good sense here. From this point, we plunge straight away into a full endorsement of a world central bank, a world political authority, taxes on financial trading, and heavy regulations. The document doesn’t actually call for an end to the free market. On the contrary, it imagines that enlightened world planners will protect, guard, and even “create” what it calls “free and stable markets.”

    This is beyond naive. It seems to illustrate a near total absence of clear thinking. Centralization of money and credit caused this problem. Centralization of political authority caused this problem. Why would anyone imagine that more centralization is therefore the answer? This approach takes a terrible situation and makes it much worse.

  • Over at Commonweal, “unagidon” asks “do we need a Global Public Authority to fix the economy?” — and answers in the negative.
  • “The Vatican Renders Unto Caesar”, by Nicholas G. Hahn III (Real Clear Religion) 10/25/11:

    Any sane person can recognize that the notion of another global civil authority flies in the face of subsidiarity. Simply because the Council says subsidiarity should regulate the relationships of authority, doesn’t mean it actually will.

    In fact, global institutions do not often respect autonomy or individual freedom of their memberships. Perhaps even Pius XI, for all his griping against the “greed” of financial systems, might consider the creation of a new “supranational Institution” a “grave evil and disturbance of right order.”

    And so, a question that must be asked is: does Rome want a king?

    Dr. Robert Moynihan (editor, Inside the Vatican):

    The positive thing: this document, in keeping with all of the Church’s social teaching, wishes to defend honesty, transparency, truthfulness and justice in financial dealings over against dishonesty, opacity false representations and injustice.

    In this, the document is to be praised, and praised highly. We need honesty and truth-telling in a global economy that is seemingly careening toward a train wreck which will inevitably hurt the poor and weak most of all.

    The negative thing: the global economy, and especially the global derivatives market, is big, enormous, in fact, so big, so opaque, so complex, that literally no one knows what the situation really is, or what measures to take to undo the financial detonator that seems ready soon to go off.

    In this sense, the Vatican office’s policy recommendations are inevitably insufficient.

  • John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter), counters the critics by calling attention to “a southern consensus”:

    Focusing on how much papal muscle the note can flex, however, risks ignoring what is at least an equally revealing question: Whatever you make of it, does the note seem to reflect important currents in Catholic social and political thought anywhere in the world?

    The answer is yes, and it happens to be where two-thirds of the Catholics on the planet today live: the southern hemisphere, also known as the developing world.

    It’s fitting that the Vatican official responsible for the document is an African, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, because it articulates key elements of what almost might be called a “southern consensus.” One way of sizing up the note’s significance, therefore, is as an indication that the demographic transition long under way in Catholicism, with the center of gravity shifting from north to south, is being felt in Rome.

  • Disputations reflects on lessons of the Tower of Babel in the concluding paragraphs of the document:

    … the story of Babel not only warns us that we are bound to lack concord if we don’t speak the same language, but — reading it in parallel with the story of Pentecost — that the concord upon which any global authority must be founded to thrive in virtue is nothing less than the peace of Jesus Christ.

    As a practical matter, the world is some way away from establishing that foundation. Whether Christians possess the peace of Jesus Christ in sufficient fullness to serve as the cement which, when mixed with the world’s crushed stone, can form a concrete of sufficient strength to bear the weight of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s proposals is, I suppose, open to question.

  • Notes on the Vatican Statement on Global Financial Reform – solid, section-by-section analysis by DarwinCatholic (American Catholic 10/26/11), revealing points that are congenial to both ends of the political spectrum (“There’s much in here that American conservatives and libertarians are not going to like, but there’s just as much that leftist Catholics (particularly populist ones) aren’t going to like either (if they read it.)”).

See additional responses from Rick Garnett @ Mirror of Justice (“many are (perhaps strategically and tactically) mis- and over-reading the Note in order to overstate the consonance between its vision and the current policies of the Democratic Party in the United States and its special-interest constituencies”); Michael Brendan Dougherty @ Business Insider (“WHOOPS! Vatican Lets Slip Plans For One World Government”); Fr. John Zuhlsdorf; Sean P. Daily of Gilbert magazine (“if there is one institution that could unite us, even if it unites [distributists and followers of the ‘Austrian’ school] only in opposition, it is the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace”) — and, now blogging for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher hosts a vigorous discussion on his blog here; here; here and here.

5

40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

In so many ways we moderns are pygmies who stand on the shoulders of giants.  One group of giants for all English-speaking Catholics is the 40 martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.   They deserve to be remembered for their heroic deaths for Christ, and here are their names:

3 Carthusians:

  • Augustine Webster  d.1535
  • John Houghton  1486-1535
  • Robert Lawrence   d.1535

1 Augustinian friar:

  • John Stone  d. 1538

1 Brigittine:

  • Richard Reynolds  d. 1535

2 Franciscans:

  • John Jones   d. 1598 (Friar Observant – also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice)
  • John Wall   d. 1679 (Franciscan  – known at Douai and Rome as John Marsh, and by other aliases while on the mission in England)

3 Benedictines:

  • John Roberts   d. 1610
  • Ambrose Barlow  d. 1641
  • Alban Roe   d. 1642

10 Jesuits:

  • Alexander Briant   1556-81
  • Edmund Campion   1540-81
  • Robert Southwell   1561-95
  • Henry Walpole    1558-95
  • Nicholas Owen   1540-1606
  • Thomas Garnet    1575-1608
  • Edmund Arrowsmith  1585–1628
  • Henry Morse   1595-1644
  • Philip Evans   1645-79
  • David Lewis   1616-79

13 Priests of the Secular Clergy:

  • Cuthbert Mayne   1543–77
  • Ralph Sherwin    1558-81
  • Luke Kirby    1549-82
  • John Paine    d. 1582
  • John Almond    d. 1585
  • Polydore Plasden    d. 1591
  • Eustace White   1560-91
  • Edmund G(J)ennings   1567-91
  • John Boste    1544-94
  • John Southworth   1592-1654
  • John Kemble    1599-1679
  • John Lloyd     d. 1679
  • John Plessington   d. 1679

7 members of the laity

4 lay men:

  • Richard Gwyn  1537-84
  • Swithun Wells  1536-91
  • Philip Howard  1557-95
  • John Rigby  1570-1600   and

3 lay women, all of them mothers:

  • Margaret Clitherow  1586
  • Margaret Ward  1588
  • Anne Line  1601

They were torches that God sent to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.  They were representatives of hundreds of martyrs who died for the Faith in England and Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  With the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict perhaps what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said in the Nineteenth Century will come true in the Twenty-First: Continue Reading

7

The Home Mortgage Deduction

There’s some consternation in conservative (and other) circles about tax reform proposals that would eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction.  The deduction is eliminated in most flat tax proposals, though it is not eliminated in the plan Governor Perry laid out today.

It seems to me that, at least in the abstract, a tax reform measure that lowered rates and eliminated such deductions would be fair.  To me all these credits are just a form of social engineering through the tax code.  Believe me, I benefit from these credits and so it would probably be against my self interest to see them go.  On the other hand, my overall rate would decline, so it wouldn’t be a catastrophic change for me.

At any rate, opponents of eliminating this deduction categorically state that it would depress home sales and force others into bankruptcy.  This seems . . .  overstated.  The deduction certainly had no influence on my decision to buy a home, and even if I lost the deduction without a concurrent rate decrease it would hardly force me out onto the streets.  Believe me, I like getting that extra money back, but it isn’t that much money.

Maybe I’m missing something here and the deduction has a much greater influence on people’s decisions to buy or rent than I know.  And maybe I’m just one of those “fat cats” Mitt Romney thinks are the ones who would be the sole beneficiaries under Perry’s plan.  But I fail to see how this simple credit or deduction is that much of a factor in home buying decisions.

I would love feedback on this one.

2

That’s What the Bully Pulpit Is For

Peter Wehner’s getting all nervous because certain Republican candidates are saying things that he disapproves of:

One of the GOP presidential candidates (Ron Paul) believes the United States is responsible for triggering the 9/11 attacks. Another (Rick Santorum) has said he would use the presidential bully pulpit to speak out against the dangers of contraception and its role in the moral decline of America (“One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”)

Yet another (Herman Cain), has dramatically shifted his positions on negotiating with terrorists and legalizing abortion within a matter of hours, after having said he would (contra the Constitution) impose a religious test on Muslim Americans. And nowGovernor Rick Perry has indicated he’s not quite sure whether Barack Obama was born in the USA, citing Donald Trump as an authority.

Some of this is correct, but the rest is a mess.  For instance, Perry’s comments seem almost totally aimed at tweaking Obama and nothing more.  Even Paul’s 9/11 theories are a bit more nuanced than Wehner suggests.  As for Rick Santorum, I say good for him.  As Mike Potemera points out, it’s rather unlikely that any conservative president will be “calling for the hiring of millions of contraception cops as a solution to joblessness.”  Santorum would be using the office of president to discuss an important cultural issue.  It’s nothing more than what Michelle Obama has done to encourage efforts to fight against obesity.  There’s nothing wrong with using the bully pulpit to discuss social issues and raise awareness so long as you are not actually calling for legislation that impedes personal liberty.

Santorum continues to be one of the few candidates who gets it, in that he understands the nexus between social and economic issues.  While others have concentrated on narrow technocratic solutions, Santorum has really been the only one to explain how the breakdown of the family is one of the contributing causes of our economic rot.  That’s not to say, by the way, that certain tax and fiscal policies are wrong.  In the end, you can’t quite dictate improved sexual mores through executive fiat , so we do need purely economic solutions to the current mess we’re in.  But at least Santorum is willing to engage in conversation about social issues.  Okay, so perhaps he does so in a manner that comes off as just a bit whiny, but that doesn’t dilute the importance of his message.

T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII: Because Romney Just Isn’t Enough of a Rino

 

Why settle for Romney when we can have a Rino’s Rino? Iowahawk announces that  T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII has thrown  his elegant top hat into the ring and is running for the Republican nomination.

Who, you may ask, is T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII?

Simply put, a man born to the conservative saddle. The only scion of the legendary swashbuckling conservative editor / author / bon vivant T. Coddington Van Voorhees VI, I have since my earliest days honed a conservatism forged in the fires of intellectual combat, stoked by the bellows of classic education, and tempered in the cooling waters of good breeding. Even before matriculating at East Hampton Country Daycare, I was thrust headlong into heady intellectual debates of postwar American politics. Oh, how I cherish those moments, bouncing astride my father’s knee, as he held postprandial court on the patio with Long Island Sound’s most scrupulous Republicans – like Newport GOP chairman Z. Pilastor Fennewick, Greenwich GOP legend Boylston McInernery, and East Hampton’s “hostess with the mostest,” Modesty Crabwater. And although Dad had his differences with each, I admired the elegant grace with which these Republicans could command an Adirondack chair or accept electoral defeat. It is that very same grace I shall endeavor to bring back to the Grand Old Party.

But such early confabulations with political luminaries do not mean my boyhood was spent in anemic bookishness. Quite to the contrary. As an aide-de-camp of Teddy Roosevelt, Great Granddad T. Coddington IV spent an entire summer sabbatical from the Harvard crew team ensuring that TR’s accoutrements would be gleaming in the Caribbean sun as he charged up San Juan Hill, and subsequent generations of Van Voorheeses would likewise be hewn to the Roughrider spirit. As a growing lad I was expertly tutored in the manly arts of sailing, badminton, and, most pointedly, horsemanship. Among my teammates on the Montauk Crimsoneers Little League Polo squad, I quickly earned a reputation as a player who would never be thrown by the same horse twice – no matter how many trips to the stable for a better-behaved horse it might take.

In my adolescence I developed a fierce precocious spirit of political independence, earning me a spot at the prestigious Alpenhaus Finishing School in Zurich following a series of contretemps with my father while he was in the throes of his Goldwater madness. It was there I would prove my foreign policy mettle by networking with lads who would go on to become Europe’s most influential policy makers, such as my former Chalet-mate and current EU Barley Pricing Minister, Viscount Kloonkie Von Wallensheim. Thanks to those school ties and my natural gift for languages, you can rest assured that when as president I am called on to negotiate a trade or currency support agreement with a Continental leader it will be in the spirit of bonhomie – and in his mother tongue. 

After a brief mind-expanding hiatus at a Punjabi ashram in the waning days of the tumultuous Sixties, I returned to my beloved Les Etats Unis to claim my Harvard birthright and matriculate in the rough-and-tumble of conservative political punditry. Through luck, pluck, and talent, I soon secured a position at my father’s journal, the National Topsider, advancing quickly from assistant Opera Critic to Subscription Complaint Manager and finally to Columnist-at-Large. I soon found myself in great demand as a public intellectual, serving as a frequent spokesmen and apologist for the conservative cause on public television. This in turn led to two appointments in Republican administrations, where I proudly served as deputy speechwriter for John Dean and chief menu editor for Mrs. Reagan’s chef. Continue Reading

5

Drone Killings and the Slippery Slope

There have been worries expressed on both sides of the political spectrum about the use of drone killings against Al Qaeda, and more especially so as it’s come out that the Obama Administration has a secret “kill list” which even includes American citizens who are working with Al Qaeda overseas (as was the recently killed Anwar al-Awlaki).

It seems to be that there is a legitimate worry here. In a sense, drones are the modern American equivalent of pillars of the Victorian British Empire such as Charles “Chinese” Gordon — gallivanting about the world to put down disturbances wherever they occur. However, they’re also relative unobtrusive and cheap. Thus, I would imagine that there is more danger of them being used to embroil us in conflicts that we really don’t want to be in. (Which, come to that, is more or less what Gordon managed to do for the British Empire on an occasion or two.) While I think that US hegemonic power, like that of others such as the British and Romans in the past, is generally a positive force in the world, power is often a temptation to over reaching. Putting international intervention only a joystick away, without any need for congressional approval or oversight, seems to put just a bit too much power in the hands of an already imperial presidency.
Continue Reading

5

How to Lose Blog Readership

There are plenty of tips on the internet on how to build a blog audience.  Here are some tips on how to lose a blog audience:

10.  Be nitpicky-If someone deigns to leave a comment on your blog, make certain to correct their grammar, pick apart their argument ruthlessly over minor points and never, absolutely never, address the main point they are making.

9.    Never explain-If you want to post on the Albigensian Crusade, jump right into the subject and give no explanatory background.  If your readers are ignorant on the subject, tough.

8.     Ignorance Doesn’t Matter-Just because you are bone ignorant on a subject doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion!   Write what you want to, no matter how factually deprived it is, and let your readers sort things out.  Life is too short for research and fact checking.

7.      Use your blog as a substitute for therapy-Scream at your readers if you are feeling miserable, and lose your temper over small matters with your commenters.  You will feel better and that is all that counts.  If no one reads your blog, that is a small price to pay.

6.      Spellcheck?-Spellcheck and concerns about grammar are for dweebs.  If your readers worry about such things, who needs them!

5.     Humor is verboten!-Blogging is a deadly serious business and if what you write causes one of your readers to crack even the teeniest of smiles you have failed.

Continue Reading

2

Teach One Day And Get A Pension

 

Even for Illinois this is putrid.  Two Illinois teacher Union lobbyists are able to collect teacher pensions because they each served as a substitute teacher for one day.   This of course is taking place in a de facto bankrupt state.

Over the course of their lifetimes, both men stand to receive more than a million dollars each from a state pension fund that has less than half of the assets it needs to cover promises made to tens of thousands of public school teachers. With billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, which serves public school teachers outside of Chicago, is one of several pension plans that are in debt as state government reels in a fiscal crisis. Continue Reading

2

Shooting the Messenger

 

 

As intensely frustrated as I get at the idiocy frequently shown by government here in the US, for truly high handed over the top governmental lunacy we can rarely compete with the Europeans:

This week alone has seen a ratings downgrade for Spain as well as a threat by agencies to review France’s AAA status — and the markets have taken notice. Once again, it would seem, ratings agencies are making things difficult for European countries.


Now, the European Union is considering doing something about it.

European Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier is considering a move to ban the agencies from publishing outlook reports on EU countries entangled in a crisis, according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper.

In an internal draft of a reform to an EU law applying to ratings agencies obtained by the paper, Barnier proposes providing the new EU securities authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), with the right to “temporarily prohibit” the publication of forecasts of a country’s liquidity.

The European Commission is particularly concerned about countries that are negotiating financial aid — for example from the euro rescue backstop fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A ban could prevent a rating from coming at an “inopportune moment” and having “negative consequences for the financial stability of a country and a possible destabilizing effect on the global economy,” the draft states. Continue Reading

A Second Review of the Grand Army

 

 

 

 

Recently I have been reading of the Grand Review of the Armies which occurred in Washington DC on May 23 and May 24, 1865.  This was a victory parade of Grant’s Army of the Potomac and Sherman’s Army.  I was struck by a banner that was spread on the capitol dome those two days: “The Only National Debt We Can Never Pay, Is The Debt We Owe To Our Victorious Soldiers.”   Indeed.    So the boys in blue enjoyed two days of being cheered as heroes and saviors of their country, before they were demobilized and went back to their homes, the War left behind to fading memories and imperishable history.

However, there were silent victors who could not march in the Grand Review, and humorist Bret Harte remembered them in this poem: Continue Reading

8

Mercury the Winged Messenger

 

Something for the weekend.  Gustav Holst’s Mercury, the winged messenger, part of The Planets.  Some things become so popular that we tend to take them for granted.  I am afraid that is what has happened to some degree with The Planets.  It is a magnificent piece of music and places Holst in the top ten list of composers of all time in my estimation. Continue Reading

5

What inspires much of the practice of Catholic social justice in the United States?

The focus of many U.S. Catholic social justice advocates is directed at atrocities being perpetrated in African nations like Darfur and Somalia. At the same time, their disproportionate lack of attention to the actual atrocities that Muslims are perpetrating upon Catholics in nations like Egypt, Nigeria, and Afghanistan is puzzling.

This lack of attention raises the question: What is the advocates’ true inspiration?

Is it Catholic social justice inspired by the virtue of charity, as Pope Benedict XVI discussed in Deus caritas est?  Or, a Marxist socio-political-economic critique of capitalism?

Consider the fact that the U.S. State Department has announced in its latest International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) that not one public Christian church is left in Afghanistan, the last public Christian church being razed in March 2010. IRFR also reports that “there were no Christian schools in the country.”

4X3-video-frame.jpg

Muslim Taliban reading the charge that
led to the beheading an Afghan Christian,
Abdul Latif

That’s one decade after the United States first invaded and overthrew the Islamist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. That’s also after $440B of taxpayers’ money has been spent to support Afghanistan’s new government. And that’s to say nothing about the more than 1.7k U.S. military personnel who have died serving in Afghanistan.

According to IRFR:

There is no longer a public Christian church; the courts have not upheld the church’s claim to its 99-year lease, and the landowner destroyed the building in March [2010]….The government’s level of respect for religious freedom in law and in practice declined during the reporting period, particularly for Christian groups and individuals. Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity. The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.

The religious situation in Afghanistan is such that most Christians in that nation now “refuse to state their beliefs or gather openly to worship.”

In addition, Christian aid from the international community is being redirected to aid the “[cash] strapped government budget.”  According to IRFR:

There were no explicit restrictions for religious minority groups to establish places of worship and training of clergy to serve their communities, however, very few public places of worship exist for minorities due to a strapped government budget.

The burning of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

No doubt, these atrocities represent a violation of the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights, an issue that should be of especial concern to Catholic social justice advocates. Yet, they remain stunningly silent about much of this Muslim-inspired atrocity against Christians, in general, and Catholics, in particular.

Why?

Could it be that their intent is purely secular—social, political, and economic in its inspiration—what they call “systemic injustice” that is anti-capitalistic?

To read the State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report concerning Afghanistan, click on the following link: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010_5/168240.htm

To learn more about the atrocities begin perpetrated by Muslims upon Christians and Catholics, click on the following link: http://barnabasfund.org/anti-christian-attacks-threaten-worse-to-come.html

5

“You’re Headed For A One Term Presidency”

 

 

 

The late Steve Jobs was a Democrat, but apparently he minced no words with the President when he met him last year according to a new biography:

Jobs, who was known for his prickly, stubborn personality, almost missed meeting President Obama in the fall of 2010 because he insisted that the president personally ask him for a meeting. Though his wife told him that Obama “was really psyched to meet with you,” Jobs insisted on the personal invitation, and the standoff lasted for five days. When he finally relented and they met at the Westin San Francisco Airport, Jobs was characteristically blunt. He seemed to have transformed from a liberal into a conservative.

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year. Continue Reading

19

ObamaCare and That Silly Constitution

Thus far the 6th Judicial Circuit has ruled that ObamaCare is constitutional and the Eleventh Judicial Ciruit has ruled that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.  The issue is headed to the US Supreme Court, with the ruling probably being handed down next year in the midst of what promises to be one of the bitterest Presidential contests in our nation’s history.  How was a measure of such dubious constitutionality passed by Congress?  Former Representative Phil Hare (D. Ill.) explains: Continue Reading

56

Herman Cain’s Muddled Abortion Logic (Updated)

Presidential candidate Herman Cain appeared on the Piers Morgan show last night, and the conversation turned to the topic of abortion.  It’s a fascinating read because at first Cain appears to be giving an absolutist pro-life position – opposition to abortion in all circumstances.  Yet Cain then gives a response that seems to suggest that while he’s personally pro-life, well, you know how this ends:

MORGAN: By expressing the view that you expressed, you are effectively — you might be president. You can’t hide behind now the mask, if you don’t mind me saying, of being the pizza guy. You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.

CAIN: No they don’t. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.

Hmmmm.  In the interests of fairness, here is the entire abortion discussion in context:

Continue Reading

2

The Candidate of Wall Street

In the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, inquiring minds want to know which candidate for the presidency in 2012 has thus far amassed the largest amount of donations from the “plutocrats” of Wall Street?  Barack Obama of course!

As a result, Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data. The numbers show that Obama retains a persistent reservoir of support among Democratic financiers who have backed him since he was an underdog presidential candidate four years ago.

Obama’s fundraising advantage is clear in the case of Bain Capital, the Boston-based private-equity firm that was co-founded by Romney, and where the Republican made his fortune. Not surprisingly, Romney has strong support at the firm, raking in $34,000 from 18 Bain employees, according to the analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

But Obama has outdone Romney on his own turf, collecting $76,600 from Bain Capital employees through September — and he needed only three donors to do it. Continue Reading

19

Was the Declaration of Independence Legal?

American and British lawyers squared off recently in a discussion over whether the Declaration of Independence was legal. The BBC reports as follows:

On Tuesday night, while Republican candidates in Nevada were debating such American issues as nuclear waste disposal and the immigration status of Mitt Romney’s gardener, American and British lawyers in Philadelphia were taking on a far more fundamental topic.

Namely, just what did Thomas Jefferson think he was doing?

Some background: during the hot and sweltering summer of 1776, members of the second Continental Congress travelled to Philadelphia to discuss their frustration with royal rule.

By 4 July, America’s founding fathers approved a simple document penned by Jefferson that enumerated their grievances and announced themselves a sovereign nation.

Called the Declaration of Independence, it was a blow for freedom, a call to war, and the founding of a new empire.

It was also totally illegitimate and illegal.

At least, that was what lawyers from the UK argued during a debate at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Hall.

(The rest of the article can be read here.)

It strikes me that this misses a crucial distinction: The Declaration was essentially an announcement that if certain demands were not met, the colonists would fight a war for their independence. Such things are not intended to be legal. No sane country is going to provide legal basis for its sub-regions to secede at will — and as the British lawyers point out further on in the article, the US certainly didn’t give it’s Southern half that right under Lincoln. Instead, the colonists were making a last ditch appeal and (more realistically) an appeal for public and international sympathy as they prepared to fight a war of independence. If the British had won, the signers would probably have been hung as traitors. Given that they won, they are considered to be founders of the republic.

Rather than trying to put forward some theory under which the document was legal within the context of the British Empire, it seems to me that the correct answer is that the Declaration was legal by right of conquest — an aged yet still apt concept. This also, of course, answers the question of the why the South was not allowed to secede: Because they lost the Civil War.

6

Father Francis P. Duffy: War and Humor

“If you want an example of how you ought to worship God, go over to the 69th.  You’ll see hundreds of sturdy men kneeling on the ground hearing mass.”

Father Francis P. Duffy in a letter to Cardinal Farley

A recent National Guard video on Father Francis P. Duffy.  I have written about Father Duffy here.  His courage as a chaplain with the Fighting 69th made him a legend in his own time.  However, courage was only one of his virtues.  Just as appreciated by the young soldiers he helped shepherd through the hell of trench warfare in World War I France was his sense of humor.  Here are a few samples:

Amongst the sturdiest and brightest of our recruits were two young men who had recently been Jesuit Novices. I amused one Jesuit friend and, I am afraid, shocked another by saying that they were exercising a traditional religious privilege of seeking a higher state of perfection by quitting the Jesuits and joining the 69th.

The newcomers are not yet accustomed to the special church regulations relieving soldiers of the obligation of Friday abstinence. Last Friday the men came back from a hard morning’s drill to find on the table a generous meal of ham and cabbage. The old-timers from the Border pitched into this, to the scandal of many of the newer men who refused to eat it, thus leaving all the more for the graceless veterans. After dinner a number of them came to me to ask if it were true that it was all right. I said it was, because there was a dispensation for soldiers. “Dispensation,” said a Jewish boy, “what good is a dispensation for Friday to me. I can’t eat ham any day of the week. Say, Father, that waiter guy, with one turn of his wrist, bust two religions.”

I asked one of the men how he liked the idea of going to confession to a priest who cannot speak English. “Fine, Father,” he said with a grin,  “All he could do was give me a penance, but you’d have given me hell.” Continue Reading

63

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: Preaching civil rights without a mention of their divine origin?

An article in the Church Report Daily makes note of something The Motley Monk didn’t know and hadn’t heard reported on any of the news reports: The word “God” does not appear in any of the quotes attributed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his new memorial in Washington, DC.  This omission, despite the fact that the civil rights leader preached often about the divine origin of these rights.

 

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
in Washington, DC

 

The Director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, DC, the Rev. Patrick J.  Mahoney, commented:

Just a few days ago I walked to the Dr. King Memorial for a moment of  inspiration, reflection and prayer. It was the first time I had visited the  memorial.

The setting and  vision of the memorial was powerful and moving and served as a prophetic reminder that we must always stand for human  rights and justice.

As I  walked around the memorial, I was stunned and shocked to see that the mention of  “God” was not included in any of the quotes from Dr. King on the granite wall  surrounding his sculpture.

Dr.  King was an ordained Christian minister and pastor who made faith in God and the  teachings of Christ the central part of his life and message.  The heart of the  civil rights movement was rooted in the Church and drew its strength from  the timeless truths proclaimed by God.

Not to include any mention of “God” in the quotes at the  memorial is a betrayal of the life, legacy and teachings embraced and lived by  Dr. King.  I think he would have been stunned and disappointed to see this  oversight.

 

This omission—the failure to include the mention of God in  the memorial—strikes, like the Rev. Mahoney as betraying Dr. King’s life, legacy, and teachings.  After all, he was an ordained Christian minister and preacher.

As bad as that betrayal may be, perhaps this “omission” is actually a “commission,” that is, a deliberate and stealthy act to avoid using the word “God” in the King Memorial.  If so, this act provides clear evidence not just of a culture that has sold itself out to the gospel of political correctness but which is also hellbent on removing public expressions of faith and God from the public square.

What’s next?  To remove the references to God and the Creator in the nation’s founding documents?

 

 

To read the article in the Church Report Daily, click on the following link:
http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=siteContent.default&objectID=141441

31

Make Them Share The Wealth With Me

Yesterday’s gospel reading struck me in relation to the protests which have been continuing to occupy their at once earnest and farcical place on our front pages.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”

He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Continue Reading

3

Mainstream Media Reality

Klavan on the Culture I sometimes wonder what the country would be like if we had a professional mainstream media, instead of the hacks and shills who currently infest it.  Ah, but that is in some alternate universe.  In the one we inhabit the Newspaper Guild, the union of many newspaper reporters, has endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement, and journalists and pundits are organizing to help the Occupy Wall Street Movement get its  message out:

Big Journalism has learned that the Occupy Washington DC movement is working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement. Someone has made the emails from the Occupy Wall Street email distro public and searchable. The names in the list are a veritable who’s who in media.

Journolist 2.0 includes well known names such as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi who both are actively participating; involvement from other listers such as Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald plus well-known radicals like Noam Chomsky, remains unclear. The list also includes a number of radical organizers, such as Kevin Zeese.

 

Of course we can all recall the neutral, just the facts, coverage of the Tea Party movement: Continue Reading

16

Our Intellectual Elites: Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi

Susan Sarandon comes out at a film festival and calls our German Shepherd a Nazi.

Words can’t describe what I want so say, so I’ll just print the excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter:

Sarandon was interviewed by Bob Balaban at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor on Saturday. She said she sent the pope a copy of the anti death penalty book, Dead Man Walking, authored by Sister Helen Prejean. Sarandon starred in the 1995 big-screen adaptation.

“The last one,” she said, “not this Nazi one we have now.”

Tofu anyone, while trying to digest the latest from Hollywood?

1

William Henry Bissell-First Catholic Governor of Illinois

Part of my ongoing series on the governors of Illinois down to the end of Reconstruction at the blog Almost Chosen People that I run with Paul Zummo.  William Henry Bissell, the eleventh governor of Illinois, was the first Catholic governor.  Bissell was born on April 25, 1811 near the town of Painted Post in New York.  Studying medicine, he opened a practice in Monroe County in Illinois.  Eventually at the age of 30 he shifted careers from medicine to the law.  In 1840 he was elected to the state legislature as a Democrat.  Passing the bar he was appointed by the legislature as prosecuting attorney for the judicial circuit in which he lived.

During the Mexican War he was elected as Colonel of the Second Illinois infantry regiment and commanded that unit at the battle of Buena Vista.  He earned the praise of General Zachary Taylor that day: “Colonel Bissell, the only surviving colonel of the three (Illinois) regiments, merits notice for his coolness and bravery on this occasion (Buena Vista).”

After the War he was elected as a Democrat to Congress.  He was an ardent foe of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and became identified with the new Republican party.  In 1850 he almost fought a duel with Jefferson Davis.  Bissell had defended the courage of Northern troops who fought at Buena Vista and accused Southerners of attempting to hog the glory of that day.  Davis, who had commanded the Mississippi Rifles at Buena Vista, thereupon challenged him to a duel.  Bissell, who never lacked courage, accepted and designated the weapons for the duel as army muskets loaded with balls and buckshot.  President Taylor, the former father-in-law of Davis threatened Davis with arrest, and a peaceful resolution was reached between Bissell and Davis. Continue Reading

18

The Manifesto of Edward T. Hall III-Trust Fund Recipient

Very, very, very strong viewer advisory in regard to the above video as the F-Bomb is one of Mr. Edward T. Hall III’s most cherished words.  However, please understand that Mr. Edward T. Hall III is a serious scholar:

Edward T Hall III is the co-director of AcaWiki.org, collaborator with
WindowFarms.org and dedicated poet of science. He conducts behavioral economic
research at Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions
where social scientists of all stripes collaborate to figure out “why our brain
isn’t green.” He researches human “impatience” and collaborates extensively with
researchers at the London School of Economics and Yale. But Edward is not
limited to behavioral economics. He draws upon the fields of evolutionary
neuroscience, cultural anthropology, emotion research, environmental economics,
industrial ecology and social psychology. Before entering the research realm,
Edward studied photography and the fine arts under the instruction of Stephen
Shore, Tim Davis, Liz Deschenes, Lowry Burgess, and Golan Levin. He believes
artists, citizen researchers, social networks, gamer designers, writers,
theologians and DIYers must become help shape the poetry of science, to make it
human.
Continue Reading

5

The Intriguing Saint Thomas More

The figure of Saint Thomas More intrigues Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and has ever since his death.  Why is that?

1.  A Man for All Seasons-Saint Thomas More was all of these things:  a saint, a politician, historian, a lawyer, a judge, one of the leading intellectuals of his day, a witty jokester, a good family man, Chancellor of England, one of the most gifted writers of Latin or English, political theorist, inventor of a literary genre (utopias), dissident, martyr.  He crammed many lives into one life, and we continue to marvel at this.

2.  Nice guy-So many great figures in history are completely unapproachable,  evil or downright weird.  More on the other hand is the type of boon companion we would wish for, and a dinner guest to be dreamed of.

3.   Drama-More’s life, and his death, are full of endless drama, and would have made a great Shakespeare play.  Shakespeare may actually have had a hand in the play Thomas More, which, mirabile dictu considering it was written under Bad Queen Bess, treats Saint Thomas More with great respect.

4.    Contrast-King Henry VIII has come down in English history as a crowned monster, which is unusual since he initiated the Reformation in England which ultimately triumphed.  As a result of the negative attitude towards Henry, his victims have been generally treated generously by English historians and chief among these is Saint Thomas More.  Here are the words of Sir Winston Churchill on More:

“The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.” Continue Reading

2

Sam Grant, the Beatles and the Internet

I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”  

Ulysses S. Grant, written just before his death

 

Something for the weekend.  Quotations from Ulysses S. Grant to the Beatles song  In My Life.  A follow up to my post on Robert E. Lee, the Beatles and the Internet.  Another demonstration of what a wild and wacky place the internet truly is!

 

Few men in American history have gone from complete obscurity to being a  central figure in the life of the nation faster than Ulysses Simpson Grant.  Known as Sam Grant by his West Point friends, his first two initials making Sam an inevitable nickname, Grant had an unerring ability to fail at everything he put his hand to, except for war, his marriage and his last gallant race against the Grim Reaper, as he was dying of cancer, to finish his memoirs and provide financially for his wife and children.  Most great figures in our history have known success more than failure.  Not so Sam Grant.  He would encounter humiliating defeats throughout his life, from beginning to end.

 

At the beginning of the Civil War, he was a clerk, barely able to support his family.  Seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest;  happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression when he would grasp for the bottle;  the shabby little man who, incredibly, ended up winning the greatest war in American history.

 

His men didn’t hold him in awe as Lee’s men did Lee;  Grant was far too common and prosaic a figure for that.  However, they did respect him, as this section of Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem on the Civil War, John Brown’s Body, indicates: Continue Reading

18

Fish Friday

I don’t know about anyone else— at least this time of year, come Lent I know it’ll be a group obsession — but I’m constantly on the look-out for something to make that doesn’t involve carne.

Beyond the staples of fried cheese sandwiches (Thank you, George Foreman), the treat of deep-fried calamari, and various canned soups, my childhood only offers one option:

Clam chowder.

Continue Reading

41

Bishop Finn Indicted

 

Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph have been indicted on failure to report child abuse charges.  The charges are misdemeanors.  Here is the statement of the Kansas City-Saint Joseph Diocese regarding the indictments.  Go here for the details.  A few observations:

1.  The charges stem from child pornography found on a priest’s, Shawn Ratigan’s, computer in December 2010.  The pictures were turned over to the authorities in May of this year.  This was far too slow.  The diocese was conducting its own internal investigation of Ratigan, but bishops should not attempt to play cop.  Whenever such evidence surfaces it must be turned over to the authorities pronto.

2.  The prosecutor Jean Peters Baker is a fanatic pro-abort.  A former Democrat member of the Missouri House, she resigned when she was appointed as Kansas City prosecutor in May of this year.  I suspect that she intends to use Bishop Finn’s scalp to ride to higher political office.  She claims that this was all the grand jury’s doing and not hers which is risible.  Grand juries are the tools of the prosecuting attorneys and will, as the saying goes, normally indict a ham sandwich if that is what the prosecutor wants.

3.  Failure to report suspicion of sexual abuse is rarely prosecuted as demonstrated by the fact that Planned Parenthood abortion clinics routinely abort underage girls, and no Planned Parenthood affiliate has ever been successfully prosecuted for failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor.

 

 

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They Said If We Voted for McCain We’d Be Sending Our Troops to Fight in Endless Wars

And they were right.

Oh, and what’s a little Congressional approval between friends?

President Obama notified Congress today that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to help battle a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Gee, so nice of the president to notify Congress that he’s sending American troops to engage in another country’s war.  I guess he gets a gold star for doing it in advance.

4

Conrad Black’s Messy Attack on Scalia

Conrad Black has written one of the most rambling and fairly incoherent things I’ve ever seen in quite some time.  I’m not quite sure what his overall point is, but he ends up attacking Antonin Scalia  of all people.

But some are, including Justice Antonin Scalia, who, as Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times on October 2, has attacked the complainant in a civil suit to stop the banning of co-ed dormitories at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. As Ms. Dowd pointed out, Justice Scalia has not hesitated prior to this to volunteer publicly either his solidarity with his Church militant, or his dissent from it. But in the case of the Roman Catholic Church’s long-held and oft-expressed (by four recent popes) hostility to the death penalty, Justice Scalia recently told Duquesne University in Pittsburgh that if he thought “that Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign.” Since he could not possibly be unaware of the views of the Holy See over the past 50 years (John Paul I was the only pope in that time who did not reign long enough to opine on the subject), nor of the authority of the pope to speak on such matters for the whole Church, it is not clear why he is not delivering his letter of resignation to the president instead of sticking his nose into the dormitory rules in one of the national capital’s universities.

To move the inquiry that Ms. Dowd usefully started to entirely secular matters, there could be searching questions about why the Supreme Court has sat like a great suet pudding for decades while the Bill of Rights has been raped by the prosecution service with the connivance of the legislators, a tri-branch travesty against the civil rights of the whole population, but I will spare readers another dilation on that subject. However, Justice Scalia’s preoccupation with the dormitories of the Catholic University of America (a matter that is now, to the Justice’s chagrin, sub judice), is, in the circumstances and to say the least, bizarre.

Leaving that aside, the report card on the co-equal branches is not uplifting: The legislators and the executive wimped out on abortion and immigration. The beehive of conscientious jurists on the Supreme Court applied a completely amoral test to get to a defensible conclusion on abortion when it was dumped by default on them to determine. And its most vocal current Roman Catholic member, swaddling himself in his faith, upholds the death penalty in contradiction to the popes, holds in pectore his views on abortion (which is not now before the high court, though not for absence of petitions), and thunders fire and brimstone about coeducational university dormitories, which is not, I think, a subject that the See of Peter has addressed.

This is just bizarre.  From relying on Maureen Dowd as a source of criticism of Scalia’s Catholicism, to his complete non sequiter about Scalia’s involvement in the CUA suit, to Black completely misconstruing Church teaching on the death penalty; this turned into an unholy mess of an article that already has no clear thesis.

I was all set to write a response, but Shannen Coffin has already done so masterfully.   I’d be violating fair use to copy and paste the whole thing, but you must read the whole thing.  But here are the key passages: Continue Reading

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945th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

Today, October 14 Anno Domini 2011, the Battle of Hastings occurred between the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and Duke William of Normandy.

The following is an animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry [1].

King Harold had a depleted force of 5,000 foot soldiers from a decisive victory of the combined Viking forces of Tostig and Harald Hadrada in the north of England the previous month.  Whilst Duke William had a force of 15,000 infantry, cavalry, and archers.  Facing superior numbers King Harold took up a defensive position that nearly won the day if it wasn’t for Duke William’s resilient command of a deteriorating situation.

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Occupy Wall Street Goons Spit on Sailor

 

Unfortunately it seems that my post this week on Kipling’s poem Tommy is oddly relevant:

BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – The Coast Guard in Boston confirmed that a woman in uniform was harassed and spat upon by Occupy Boston protesters.

The woman was walking to the train and said protesters spit on her twice, called her foul names and even threw a water bottle at her.

Now, the Coast Guard is warning all staff working on Atlantic Avenue to avoid those protesters while in uniform.

More than 140 Occupy Boston protesters were arrested earlier this week for refusing to cooperate with police on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Continue Reading

2

A Liberal Education

The ideological orientation of  academia to the political left is an old story.   Certainly such ideological conformity was well established back in my halcyon undergraduate and law school days at the University of Illinois, 1975-1982.  Outside of my ROTC courses, I was guaranteed to be the most outspoken conservative in any class I attended.  In some classes of course, geography for example, politics never came up, but when political issues arose they would almost always be presented with a left of center, sometimes far left of center, viewpoint.  With the same shy, retiring nature that is always on full display on this blog, I always felt compelled to respond, which included, on one memorable occasion, interrupting a class room political rant by one of my education professors at the five minute mark with the comment:  “That is garbage sir!  Sheer garbage!”  The look on the shocked faces of my classmates will remain a cherished memory until my dying day! Continue Reading

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Jesse Jackson Jr. Calls for Fascist Dictatorship

Cries of fascism and dictatorship are often overblown.  Not so in the case of Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.”

Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.

“I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”

Let’s put aside the disgustingly unconstitutional piece of advice for one second, and concentrate on Jackon’s economic plan.  He actually wants to pay the unemployed – to do what exactly? – and at $40,000 per head.  That comes out to $600,000,000,000 – that’s 600 Billion dollars.  And that’s only if we go with the 15 million number for unemployed.  That figure is undoubtedly a low-ball figure of the number of Americans actually unemployed.  In reality we’d most likely have to double that figure and then some.  So Jackson is suggesting that we simply pony up over a trillion dollars a year to guarantee full employment.  And again, what are we employing these people to do?

The more important issue is that Jackson considers mere political opposition to a favored policy to be, in effect, treason.  That’s right, anyone who dares disagree with the Obamamessiah is an active rebel against the United States government.  And, since those people opposing Obama were elected to office – and, by the way, were elected more recently than Obama – isn’t Jackson implying that a majority of the people of the United States are in active rebellion?  Good to know what Jackson thinks of his fellow countrymen.

In the end, Jackson wants to crush out dissent and utilize the machinery of the state to co-opt the marketplace and guarantee certain economic outcomes.  Gee, if only there were a word to describe this kind of desired polity.

But remember, the tea partiers are extremists.

H/t: Creative Minority Report.

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Remember Obama Worship?

This Klavan on the Culture is from October 8, 2009.  What a difference two years have made in the fortunes of Mr. Obama, with his reelect number now down to 41%.  However, as a cautionary tale we should never forget the type of adulation received by this hack politician from Chicago during the election campaign of 2008 and the early days of his administration.

From Mark Morford, San Francisco Gate Columnist, on June 8, 2008: Continue Reading