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A President’s prayer and today’s culture wars…

U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) is sponsoring H.R. 2070, a bill that would place a plaque bearing the text of President Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer for U.S. troops at the Memorial.

 

The D-Day prayer, offered on June 6, 1944, states:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

 

According to Matt Cover’s article in CNSNews.com, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Robert Abbey, testified to a House subcommittee:

It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the memorial in this way, as proposed in H.R. 2070, will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate, and inspire its many visitors.

Abbey added:

The Department strongly believes that the World War II Memorial, as designed, accomplishes its legislated purpose to honor the members of the Armed Forces who served in World War II and to commemorate the participation of the United States in that conflict.

Of course, Director Abbey isn’t opposed to the prayer nor is he making a judgment about its value.  Instead, Abbey opposes the inclusion of FDR’s prayer because it would “intrude” on the Memorial, which is expressly prohibited by federal law:

The Commemorative Works Act specifically states that a new commemorative work shall be located so that it does not encroach upon an existing one. It is not a judgment as to the merit of this new commemoration, simply that altering the Memorial in this way, as proposed in H.R. 2070, will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message.

In other words, the Director Abbey is keeping FDR’s prayer from being included in the Memoria is because he believes Congress is attempting to create a separate memorial.

Representative Johnson called Director Abbey’ opposition “unconscionable,” saying that there was no reason to oppose its inclusion in the Memorial:

President Roosevelt’s prayer gave solace, comfort, and strength to our nation and our brave warriors as we fought against tyranny and oppression. These words should be included among the tributes to the Greatest Generation memorialized on the National Mall.

One nation devoid of God...

 

Tracing the argument Director Abbey offers in his testimony, it is clear that this is a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to keep religious expression out of government.  The “dirty little secret” is that Director Abbey was not speaking for himself but doing the bidding of his patron, President Obama.

 

To read Matt Cover’s article in CNSNews.com, click on the following link:
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/dept-interior-adding-fdr-s-d-day-prayer-wwii-memorial-would-dilute-its-central-message

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Audie Murphy: American Hero

“I never liked being called the ‘most decorated’ soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did–
guys who were killed.”

Audie Murphy

In the Fifties actor Audie Murphy achieved stardom, mainly in Westerns.  Murphy looked like a typical Hollywood “pretty boy” but he was anything but.  From a family of 12 in Texas, he was the sixth child, Murphy had dropped out of school in the fifth grade to help support his dirt poor family after his worthless father ran off.    His mother died in 1941.  In 1942 he enlisted in the Army at 16, lying about his birthday, partially to help support his younger brothers and sister and partially because he dreamed of a military career.  He served with the Third Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany.  By the end of the War, just after  his 19th birthday, he was a First Lieutenant and had earned, in hellish combat, a Medal of Honor, a Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit, a French Legion of Honor, a French Croix de Guerre, a Belgian Croix de Guerre, two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.  He was the most decorated soldier of the US Army in World War 2.  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation  which helps explain why Murphy entitled his war memoir  To Hell and Back:

Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective. Continue Reading

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Battleground Ohio

In the 2012 election, Ohio will once again be a key battleground state at the presidential level. This will be a new experience for me, now an Ohio resident, as I’ve spent my voting live up until now in California and Texas — two states so solidly in their opposite party’s columns that one at times wondered if it was worth the time to stand in line and vote.

The Ohio vote froom yesterday getting national and international headlines was the rejection of Issue 2, repealing a law which limitted collective bargaining for state employees including teachers, police and firemen. State employee unions poured huge amounts of money into the “No on 2” campaign and focused heavily on scare tactics. The most frequent claim was that if unions could not negotiate over staffing levels, that police or paramedics would not arrive when you needed them. “Vote no on Issue 2. It could save your life.”

The victory in the No on 2 campaign is being taken as a positive sign by Democrats nationally, but it is likely to be a bad sign for the actual state workers who campaigned so hard for their unions. In the same election, voters rejected a number of local tax levies (both new and renewals) which in combination with the striking down of Senate Bill 5 (via the No on 2 campaign) means that local government will be stuck with old, more expensive contracts and also come up far short on revenues. This means that voters are still very much in a low tax, low budget mood (probably a positive for Republicans come next year) and that unions just spent an unprecedented amount of money in order to get more of their members laid off. Oops.

In yet another state-wide referendum, voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, voted to ammend the state constitution to ban any form of health insurance mandate in Ohio. Given that state constitutions cannot override federal laws, this is mostly a symbolic gesture, however with the ammendment getting a majority in every single county, it underscores how unpopular some of the key ideas of ObamaCare remain with voters.

It remains to be seen which of the two statewide issue votes prove to be the more suggestive of how Ohio voters will lean in the 2012 election.

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November 9, 1989

Twenty-two years ago today my wife and I arrived home from buying software for our Commodore 64  (Yeah, it is that long ago.) and watched stunned after we turned on the tv as we saw East Germans dancing on top of the Berlin War, tearing into it with sledge hammers.   It is hard to convey to people who did not live through the Cold War how wonderful a sight this was.  Most people at the time thought the Cold War was a permanent state of things.  Not Ronald Wilson Reagan.  He knew that Communism would end up on the losing side of history and throughout his career strove to bring that day ever closer.  His becoming President so soon after John Paul II became Pope set the stage for the magnificent decade of the Eighties when Communism passed from being a deadly threat to the globe to a belief held only by a handful of benighted tyrannical regimes around the world, and crazed American professors.  In most of his movies, the good guys won in the end, and Reagan helped give us a very happy ending to a menace that started in 1917 and died in 1989.

Here is an interview Sam Donaldson did with Reagan immediately after the fall of the wall:

Continue Reading

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Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

 The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.  We are going to at one of the poems today in the final category, that is today one of Kipling’s most obscure ones, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.  The Holy War:

 

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt. Continue Reading

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Mid-season NFL Power Rankings

Now that we’ve reached the mid-point of the NFL’s 2011 season, it seems an opportune time to take a look at where the teams stand.  Looking at the pre-season rankings, I haven’t done too badly.  Some of the teams near the top haven’t been as dominant as I expected, but they’re all still in the playoff mix.  I did drastically underrate the 49ers, Bengals, and Bills.  Also, I kind of screwed up on my Cam Newton is going to be an abject failure prediction.  Yeah, sorry about that.  (Record and pre-seaon rank in parentheses.)

Continue Reading

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So You Want to Do Criminal Defense Work

 

 

As long time readers of this blog know I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt.  Although the bulk of my practice is civil, over the years I have defended hundreds of defendants accused of crimes, mostly felonies.  This is part of my ongoing series about the life of a lawyer.  For people who have not heeded my warnings about the profession and want to become attorneys, here are some tips regarding criminal defense work:

10.   Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!-  Contrary to what you may have gleaned from television, movies and novels, almost all of your clients will be as guilty as mortal sin.  However, there is a difference between actual guilt and what the State has the burden of proving at trial.

9.     Clients lie-  People accused of crimes will sometimes be forthright with their defense counsel, but frequently they will lie.  This can be a dangerous handicap at trial, especially since an attorney has an ethical duty not to knowingly have his client commit perjury.  Sometimes the best thing any defense attorney can do is to rip to shreds a client’s lies in an interview prior to trial and advise them that what you have just done is merely a foretaste of what they will receive in cross-examination from the prosecutor.

8.     Cops lie- Not all cops by any means, but enough so that a defense attorney will treat police reports with the scepticism of a priest listening to a politician’s confession and not hearing the sin of lying brought up.  An example of this is the videotaping of field sobriety tests.  It was assumed in Illinois that this technological development would lead to more DUI convictions.  After all, cops arresting people for DUI would routinely report that the person arrested had badly failed the field sobriety test.  Instead, it has been a boon for defense attorneys, since the videotape evidence is often at variance with what the police initially report after the arrest.

7.      Witnesses can surprise you-Last year I was defending an individual where a witness identification of my client was a significant factor.  At the bench trial the State produced a witness to identify my client.  The witness took a look at my client from the stand and said he could not be sure as to his identification.  That took both the State and my client by surprise.  Never assume that either your witnesses or the State’s will not give you both good and bad surprises.

6.       Motion to suppressRemember your constitutional law course?  It wasn’t a complete waste of time after all!  I enjoyed constitutional law in law school, and it is extremely useful on motions to suppress, as Supreme Court cases on fairly fine distinctions of constitutional law come in very handy in determining whether evidence is admissible or not.  It is often advisable to do a motion to suppress even if you think you will lose.  It gives you more insight into the State’s case as the prosecutor defends against the motion to suppress, since the investigating officers are subject to cross-examination, and often-times aspects of the case can be made to appear weak in the eyes of the judge, even if he allows the evidence in.  That can be a useful factor at both the trial and, if your client is convicted, at sentencing.  Most judges will be more inclined to leniency in sentencing in my experience if the conviction was based on some weak or questionable evidence. Continue Reading

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Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

Kyle is filled with righteous indignation against Rush Limbaugh.

In case you had any lingering doubt that Rush Limbaugh makes a good charlatan’s living espousing half-baked pseudo-ideology slyly disguised as principled conservative philosophy, the winning radio host informs us that he doesn’t know what Classical Studies is, but he’s sure it’s a clever socialist plot. His faux-ignorant blather about the uselessness and insidiousness of studying Greek, Latin, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, the Bible—you know, the bulwarks of Western Civilization that any conservative worth his salt should have an interest in conserving—reveals that he has no regard for the origin and history of our ideas, for the development of the intellect, or for conservatism.

The source of the indignation is a rant which Rush apparently delivered on the air a week ago. Said rant was in response to this “We Are the 99%” plea which was posted in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

I graduate college in 7 months with a “useless” degree in Classical Studies. I have worked very hard and am on track to graduate with highest Latin honors. I am in a Greek organization with many volunteer hours under my belt.
MY JOB PROSPECTS?
0
I am one of the lucky ones, but I am still the 99%.
Welcome to the American nightmare.

Rush responded to this plea, in part, as follows:

[reads the above quoted “We Are The 99%” piece]

Now, do you think somebody going to college, borrowing whatever it is in this case, $20,000 a year to get a degree in Classical Studies ought to be told by somebody at a school that it’s a worthless degree? … [W]hy is it that no one in her life told her that getting a degree in Classical Studies would not lead to employment? In fact, how many college students do you think believe that just getting a degree equals a high-paying job? Probably a lot of them. Not that you can blame ’em. That’s what they’ve been sold on. That’s what they’ve been told. Ergo, that’s what they expect. A college degree equals success, riches, whatever. Not work. This is key, now. Continue Reading

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A Debate Proposal

Unfortunately I missed the Lincoln-Douglas style debate the other night between Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.  It sounded like a fun* evening, and it’s refreshing to have something different than the painful two hour affairs involving all eight candidates offering one minute soundbites.  Sadly, we’re scheduled to have 3,457** more of these standard debates.  Joy.

Recently Rick Perry suggested that this debate overload might not be the best way to pick a candidate, and he even hinted at skipping a few.  Had any of the other candidates said this he’d have been hailed a hero and carried off stage like Lincoln after the Jonesboro debate.  But since Rick Perry has had, umm, less than stellar debate performances, it came off as a bit self-serving.  Except he’s completely right.

If we must endure several more months of this debate hell, can’t we at least start thinning out the herd and allowing the candidates to go on for more than sixty seconds before some prissy debate moderator cuts them off?

One thing that we can do is start inviting only those candidates who actually have a shot at winning the nomination.  Easy enough, except now we get into a debate about who should be allowed at the debate.  This is the point where we have to pretend that Michelle Bachmann still might be the Republican nominee, so we can’t possibly shut out any candidate from the debate lest one of them gets hauled off in handcuffs protesting outside the debate hall due to his exclusion.***  In fact I can just imagine Rick Santorum breaking onto the stage bellowing “EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME” while yelling at Rick Perry that he was out of time.  Sure it would be barrels of fun to watch Ron Paul’s fanbase immolate because the good doctor and only true constitutionalist (TM) was barred from the debate halls.  But, in the interests of fairness, we probably can’t exclude any of these people.  Except for Jon Hunstman.  Seriously, I doubt Jon Hunstman views himself as a viable contender.  No one noticed that he wasn’t at the last debate, including Jon Huntsman.

So what can we do to make these debates at least a bit more tolerable?  Two changes might benefit both the candidates and the voters.  First, we should have fewer candidates on stage.  We can do this without eliminating candidates.  If we’re really going to have two debates a week, just have different candidates at the debate.  You can randomly assign candidates so that at the first debate you can have, say, Perry, Gingrich, Paul and Huntsman.  Then, at the next debate, it will be Santorum, Bachmann, Cain and Romney.  Then switch it up next week so that there are different pairings.

Second, discuss fewer topics and lengthen the time allotment.  We don’t necessarily need Lincoln-Douglas essays, but let candidates spend three or four minutes expanding upon their answers.  With four candidates you can still cover a lot of ground in ninety minutes or two hours, especially if we limit the moderators’ involvement in these affairs.  Sure it won’t be as much fun as allowing a transgendered mutant space alien to ask a question about illegal immigration while forcing the candidates to answer in Esperanto, but it has the advantage of actually lending insight into the candidates’ thought processes.

Or we can just continue with the same exact format and grow dumber with each passing minute.  The choice is yours.

*: Well, if you’re a political geek.
**: Number might be slightly exaggerated.  Just slightly.
***: This actually happened in Atlanta in 1996 to Alan Keyes.  I know because I was there supporting him and saw him get placed in the police cruiser.  That was about as close as I have ever gotten to getting involved in an OWS-style protest.  No justice for Keyes, no peace!

Were the Founders Hypocrites?

In the 19th century it became fashionable among pro-slavery advocates to deride the idea that the Declaration of Independence’s ringing assertion that “All men are created equal” applied to blacks.

In the Dred Scott decision the majority of the Supreme Court stated that it was a simple historical fact that blacks were not included:

The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration, for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.

Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men — high in literary acquirements, high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used, and how it would be understood by others, and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations, and doomed to slavery. They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrines and principles, and in the ordinary language of the day, and no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection.

Interestingly enough, John C. Calhoun, statesman and chief political theorist in defense of slavery, disagreed with this line of pro-slavery argument.  While lamenting the inclusion of the “All men are created equal” phrase in the Declaration, he had no doubt that it was intended to apply to blacks:

They have been made vastly more so by the dangerous error I have attempted to expose, that all men are born free and equal, as if those high qualities belonged to man without effort to acquire them, and to all equally alike, regardless of their intellectual and moral condition. The attempt to carry into practice this, the most dangerous of all political error, and to bestow on all, without regard to their fitness either to acquire or maintain liberty, that unbounded and individual liberty supposed to belong to man in the hypothetical and misnamed state of nature, has done more to retard the cause of liberty and civilization, and is doing more at present, than all other causes combined. While it is powerful to pull down governments, it is still more powerful to prevent their construction on proper principles. It is the leading cause among those…which have been overthrown, threatening thereby the quarter of the globe most advanced in progress and civilization with hopeless anarchy, to be followed by military despotism. Nor are we exempt from its disorganizing effects. We now begin to experience the danger of admitting so great an error to have a place in the declaration of our independence. For a long time it lay dormant; but in the process of time it began to germinate, and produce its poisonous fruits. It had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson, the author of that document, which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter; and that to deprive them of it was unjust and immoral. To this error, his proposition to exclude slavery from the territory northwest of the Ohio may be traced, and to that of the ordinance of ’87, and through it the deep and dangerous agitation which now threatens to ingulf, and will certainly ingulf, if not speedily settled, our political institutions, and involve the country in countless woes.

Abraham Lincoln rose in defense of the Founders and the Declaration.  Lincoln has attained such a folksy image in American folklore that we lose sight of how incisive a mind he possessed.  It was on full display in this passage from a speech that he gave on June 26, 1857 on the Dred Scott decision: Continue Reading

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Illinois is Economic Road-Kill

This can be considered a companion piece to my worst governor post which may be read here.  The video above  consists of selections from a speech by author Joel Kotkin to the Illinois Policy Institute explaining some of the ways in which the powers that be in Illinois have made the state completely uncompetitive with other states in producing sustained private sector economic growth.  If I were starting out I would leave Illinois.  Nothing good is going to be happening in this state economically for a very long time.  The leadership of the state is completely blind to our problems and promote policies that drive businesses away and sink Illinois deeper in a fiscal morass.  Illinois’ woes are completely man-made, and Illinois, thanks to a majority of the Illinois voters, remains wedded to a model of high government expenditure, hostility to private enterprise and unending political corruption that makes effective reform for at least the next three years a pipe dream.

13

Holy Deck of Cards

The story about a soldier using a deck of cards as a mnemonic device to remind himself of the Bible, set in the video above in the Vietnam War, goes back to 1778.  Versions of the story have been set in the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Here is the Afghanistan version:

A young soldier was in his bunkhouse all alone one Sunday morning.  It was quiet that day, the guns and the mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn’t made a noise.

The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the holiest day of the week. As he was sitting there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.

Just then an Army Sergeant came in and asked, “Why aren’t you with the rest of the platoon?”

The soldier replied, “I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord.”

The sergeant said, “Looks like you’re going to play cards.”

The soldier said, “No sir, you see, since we are not allowed to have Bibles or other spiritual books in this country, I’ve decided to talk to the Lord by studying this deck of cards.”

The sergeant asked in disbelief, “How will you do that?”

“You see the Ace, Sergeant, it reminds that there is only one God.

The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

The Three represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The Four stands for the Four Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The Five is for the five virgins, there were ten, but only five of them were glorified.

The Six is for the six days it took God to create the Heavens and Earth.

The Seven is for the day God rested after working the six days.

The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, in which God saved the eight people from the flood that destroyed the earth for the first time.

The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten but nine never thanked Him.

The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone.

The Jack is a reminder of Satan. One of God’s first angels, but he got kicked out of heaven for his sly and wicked ways and is now the Joker of eternal hell.

The Queen stands for the Virgin Mary.

The King stands for Jesus, for he is the King of all kings.

When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year.

There are a total of 52 cards in a deck, each is a week, 52 weeks in a year.

The four suits represents the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Each suit has thirteen cards, there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.

So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.”

The sergeant just stood there and after a minute, with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, he said, “Soldier, can I borrow that deck of cards?”

Please let this be a reminder and take time to pray for all of our soldiers who are being sent away, putting their lives on the line fighting for us.

An interesting variant on this centuries old tale was set during the Korean War:  The Red Deck of Cards: Continue Reading

2

The Devil is in the Details

 

Giotto, morning star of the Renaissance, was noted for his  wit and humor as well as his skill as a painter.  Evidence of that is now coming to light, almost seven centuries after his death:

Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis. Continue Reading

9

The criticism of Obamacare is a little late in the political process, no?

With the so-called Obama healthcare “reform” law and the horses out of the barn, Catholic leaders are now complaining with a fevered pitch that the administration’s definition of a “religious employer” is going to force Catholic and other pro-life  healthcare providers to choose between violating their  consciences or curtailing access to care.  Catholic educational institutions will also be forced to provide employees  with healthcare plans that are inconsistent with the Church’s moral teachings.

 

 

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, the Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington, Jane Belford, said that if the definition of religious employer is not changed:

Catholic schools that teach abortion is morally wrong could have to pay  for abortifacient drugs for their employees; and Catholic health  clinics that refuse to provide contraception or sterilization for  patients could have to subsidize contraception and sterilization for  their employees.

Criticism has become more vocal since the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, approved new regulations that order nearly all private health plans to  cover FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and  patient education and counseling” as part of their “preventive services”  for women.  The new regulation defines a  religious employer as a non-profit organization that “inculcates”  religious values and primarily hires and serves people who share  its religious tenets.

The problem this definition presents is that it excludes many “employers of  conscience”—including Catholic hospitals, universities and social  services—which serve all people in need, regardless of their religion and whose commitment to Christian service is not intended primarily to  inculcate religious values.

The President and CEO of the Alliance of Catholic Health  Care, William J. Cox, said this narrow definition HHS has overlooked “the contributions of Catholic health care and undid  centuries of religious tolerance.”  Cox testified:

It is particularly ironic that HHS is substantially burdening  Catholic institutional ministries because they respectfully avoid  inculcating religious beliefs, and compassionately serve persons of all  faith traditions and those having no faith tradition at all…

Simply  stated churches and religious institutions have the right  to define and govern themselves free from government interference and  entanglement.

The Catholic leaders were unanimous in imploring Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179), which aims to expand the religious exemption allowed under Obamacare.

The criticism is accurate: The definition is exclusive rather than inclusive.  It divides rather than unites.  It’s dismissive of rather than accommodating.

At the same time, however, isn’t much of it a bit late in the “game”?  After all, in the debate leading up to the passage of the so-called Obamacare “reform,” many Catholic leaders seemed very content to accept the “promises” the President and members of his administration offered them while lobbying for their support of the so-called “healthcare reform” scheme.

 

 

Having danced with wolves, why should the critics be unhappy that the wolves have bit the hand that fed them?

So, the horses are now out of the barn and the critics are hoping that the other side of the aisle will come to their aid.  Let’s hope so!

But, having provided support in opening the barn door to this anti-life scheme, isn’t the criticism coming a little late?  Who duped whom?

4

Andy Rooney: Requiescat in Pace

As an amateur curmudgeon I note with sadness the death of a professional curmudgeon:  Andy Rooney who has passed away at age 92.  Although my views of the network he worked for, CBS, are not printable in polite company, I had a soft spot in my heart for Rooney.  As the above video indicates, although he was most definitely a political liberal he was also frequently subversive of the left wing pieties embraced by CBS.

Rooney served in the Army during World War 2 and was a patriot to his marrow as indicated by this poignant video:

In 1985 Rooney came out against abortion, which no doubt brought him unending grief considering the social milieu in which he lived.  Go here to read his column.  Agree with him or disagree with him, and I mostly disagreed with him, especially in regard to religion where he was a fairly snide atheist, Rooney always gave his honest opinion and that is to be respected.  So rest in peace Mr. Rooney, I will miss you. Continue Reading

Chester

Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.  Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.

Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
 And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.

We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.


Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,

With Prescott
and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal
league combined.

When God inspired us for the fight,

Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
Their ships were
shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.


The foe comes on with haughty stride,

Our troops
advance with martial noise;
 Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And
 gen’rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful

 off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud
 hallelujahs let us sing,
 And praise his name on ev’ry chord! Continue Reading

2

Not Just One Reason

Growing up, my family had a lot of odd conversations, especially on the rare occasions we watched TV. One of these led to my mom pointing out that a lot of the “strange” things that the Bible told the Jews to do were not just for religious reasons (I think it came out of a TV character using ‘religious’ as a synonym for ‘serves no practical purpose’)—they made very good practical sense, too. Simplest example, pork is horrifically dangerous if you don’t have a fridge and don’t know about invisible dangers. Continue Reading

36

Worst Governor in the Country

 

 

In a crowded field, Pat Quinn, Democrat Governor of Illinois, can now officially be proclaimed the worst governor in the United States.

He has been vying for the title ever since he took over from impeached and removed Governor Blagojevich, currently bound for a long stay in federal prison.  Since taking over from his felon predecessor, he has the following accomplishments to his discredit:

In a midnight session of  the lame duck legislature in January of this year he increased, in the midst of the worst economic slump since World War II, Illinois personal income taxes by 67-75%, and, as a result, the misgoverned state of Illinois became a national laughingstock.

He rammed through civil unions last year in December in another action of the lame duck legislature.

Quinn  got elected last year by a razor thin margin  largely by under the radar last minute internet ads posted by Personal PAC, a pro-abort lobbying group, headed by a Terry Cosgrove. As payback Quinn appointed Cosgrove to a $46,000 a year job on the Human Rights Commission.  Lake County Right to Life has good coverage on this story which may be read here.  Regular Guy Paul has been on top of the story at his blog here.

Now I happen to know Cosgrove from the days back in the Seventies when we were both attending the U of I. He is a lapsed Catholic, now a militant atheist, homosexual activist and fanatical pro-abort. He was head of the local campus pro-aborts and I was one of the founders of L.I.F.E. (Life Is For Everyone), the campus pro-life group. One time I saw Cosgrove at Mass circa 1980 at the Newman Chapel, at Saint John’s. Puzzled why he was there, after Mass I found out why. At the pamphlet rack in the back I saw that he had stuffed pro-abort obscene anti-Catholic pamphlets. I disposed of them. He also said in one memorable public forum that he carried a gun to defend himself against “militant anti-choicers”, as he phrased pro-lifers.  Quinn appointed him to the Illinois Human Rights Commission in April of this year. That a bigot like Cosgrove now has a seat on the Human Rights Commission in Illinois has a nice Orwellian touch.

Now Quinn has outdone himself and seized the title of worst governor.  As further payback to Cosgrove and his pro-abort pressure group, Quinn is going to attend the annual fund raising dinner for Personal Pac and present an award.  When challenged on this by every Catholic bishop in the State, and Cardinal George,  the ostensibly Catholic Quinn responded that giving the award was the “Christian thing to do.”  (Quinn obviously must have a unique gloss on the statement of Christ, “Suffer the little children…”.) Continue Reading

33

Shape Shifter

Just so we’re clear, if this guy wins the Republican nomination, I walk:

Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.

Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.

He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.

Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.

People can change their minds on an issue, and if Mitt Romney has had a genuine change of heart on abortion, then that’s great.  But how can anyone possibly trust this man?  He’s a chameleon who changes his tune to suit his audience.

On the other hand, though Rick Santorum is not my first choice at the moment, he’s the only candidate who puts social issues first on his website.  He’s by far the most passionate defender of the unborn we have in this race, if not the country.

12

The Way Freedom of Speech Dies

 

Time magazine, anyone still reading it?, has a truly despicable piece by Bruce Crumley in which he basically says that “they had it coming” after a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed:

 

Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive  efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with  petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can  and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic  antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent  responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of  common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and  by tempting belligerent reaction?

The difficulty in answering that question is also what’s making it hard to  have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it  published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The  Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage  hard-core Islamists (and offend average Muslims) with articles and “funny” cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed—depictions forbidden in Islam to boot.  Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from  French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously  impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”

We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your  loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate  response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you  paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody  on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those  charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring. Continue Reading

1

Bloopers Happen

Ah yes, Klavan on the culture, in any organization bloopers do tend to happen, a thought that does occur to me whenever I race into my secretary’s office saying I can’t find a file that I need for court in the next half hour, only to have her go into my office and find the file immediately, usually on my desk and usually by where my right hand would have been.  Hmmm, perhaps my secretary of 26 years working with me might have some more colorful descriptive terms to apply to such errors on my party instead of bloopers.  Perhaps, at least on occasion, she might agree with Henry Fonda in this scene from Twelve Angry Men: Continue Reading

22

Minute Sixteen and Counting (Updated)

I wasn’t going to blog anymore about Herman Cain, but I cannot let this go without comment:

Mark Block, chief of staff for the Cain campaign, laid the blame for the leaks about the allegations about Cain squarely at the Perry campaign’s feet in an interview today.

“The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable,” Block told Fox News tonight. “Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology. Both the Rick Perry campaign andPolitico did the wrong thing by reporting something that wasn’t true from anonymous sources. Like I said, they owe Herman Cain and his family an apology.”

Asked if he had any evidence, Block mentioned the fact that Cain had told Curt Anderson (who now works for Perry) about the accusations during his 2004 senate run. Cain accused Anderson earlier today; Anderson denied that he was.

As with every other aspect of his campaign, Herman Cain has been unable to address this situation in anything resembling a coherent manner.  I could let that pass, but instead of addressing the issue – or even not addressing it – the Cain camp decides to avert attention away from this mess by hurling unsubstantiated claims against one of his Republican rivals.  Could the Perry camp have leaked the information?  It’s certainly possible, but it just as likely could have been the Romney camp.  Or, and here’s a wild guess, someone did a little digging and came across a publicly available story.

Look, I don’t know if there’s anything more to the original story than that it was a misunderstanding.  But Cain is doing himself no favors by reacting as wildly as he is.  First he played the race card.  If he had been a Democrat conservatives would have collectively rolled their eyes, and yet some conservatives, including one that I highly respect, are willing to indulge this fantasy.  And now this.

What’s sickening is not just the man’s basic ineptitude, it’s that he is inspiring the same kind of blind loyalty to a cult of personality that we mock Democrats for with regards to Barack Obama.  And for what?  A candidate who has nothing to offer except a silly campaign slogan that is, for the record, politically unworkable.  A candidate who couldn’t even win a Senate primary in Georgia, of all states.  Ah, but he sounds so authentic.

And therein lies the problem with the conservative movement.  Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate, and we hate the establishment.  So our counter-reaction to the establishment is to rally around the guy who mouths the most platitudes, all the while ignoring the substance.  It’s like watching the Hot Air blog come to life.  The main contributors are a collection of mealy-mouthed wimps who fear the rise of genuinely conservative candidates.  On the other hand, the commenters are a  collection of raving “THIS GOES TO 11!!!!!!!!” “purists” who make the Free Republic look like a haven of logical thought.  It’s something behold, but it’s also a sad reflection on the conservative movement as we seem constantly to have to choose between raving psychosis and stultifying boredom.

What’s even funnier about the Cain dead-enders is envisioning their reaction when he drops out and turns around to endorse Mitt Romney.  But at least we would have beaten the guy who said “heartless” in a debate that one time.  Good job.  Look what happens when the search for purity leads to the nomination of the most impure candidate.

Then again, not everyone is turning a blind eye to Cain’s collapsing campaign.  Even his biggest booster in the blogosphereis starting to sound a little worried.

The fact that Chris Wilson works for a firm that has been associated with Rick Perry’s campaign may confirm widespread suspicions about the origin of Sunday’s Politico story, but as matters now stand, such speculation is irrelevant to whether Cain can survive this. Whatever the motives of the Politico sources, Cain’s fate depends on the specifics of the accusation and the credibility of his accuser.

Then again, knowing the spitefulness that guides certain people, he’ll only ascend in the polls.

Update:  FWIW, here is Eric Erickson’s interview with Perry, in which he firmly denies having anything to do with leaking the story.  Notice that despite the umms and ahhs, it doesn’t take a team of detectives to figure out what Perry is saying.

3

Saints Without Names, Souls Without Number

There’s been a great deal of talk lately about the world population hitting 7 Billion — a fake event, in a sense, since it’s impossible to know the exact time this will happen with any precision. Some news articles have given the mistaken impression that this represents the seven billionth person ever, but in fact the number is far, far higher. Our globe has never supported this many people at one time before, but throughout all of human history there have seem something approaching a hundred billion people, stretching from the babies born today to those born to wandering bands of hunter-gatherers over a hundred thousand years ago. A lot of people have lived and died. Just as we know only the tiniest fraction of people alive today, and the true number is not practically comprehensible to the human mind, even more so the number of people who have ever lived.

This pair of feast days, All Saints Day, yesterday, and All Souls Day, today, are not a bad time to think about this from a Christian perspective. In a sense, All Saints is a feast for every soul now enjoying the Beatific Vision, but it’s always seemed to me most especially apt for celebrating all those saints who are unknown to us. There are several thousand saints officially acknowledged by the Church, but this is by no means a comprehensive account of those who are with God in heaven, any more than the people we know of by name make up the full population of the world. We as Catholics believe that those people are definitely in heaven, but we certainly think there are many, many others who are there as well, including, we hope, our loved ones who have died. While the canonized saints provide us with a pantheon of those conspicuous for their holiness, All Saints is an ideal time to recall all those people who remain unknown to us who also enjoy God’s presence. And since few of us are likely to be considered so conspicuous in our holiness as to be recognized throughout the Church, it is in particular, perhaps, the feast of “people like us” now in heaven.

Of course, the difficulty, from a Catholic point of view in saying, “This is the feast of all our loved ones who are now in heaven,” is that even if destined for heaven our loved ones may not be in heaven yet. While as the Church Militant here on earth we look up to the Church Triumphant in heaven, we need also to offer up our prayers and sufferings for the Church Suffering — those cleansing themselves of lingering imperfection and attachment to sin in Purgatory. So it’s helpful that All Souls Day, when we remember in particular all those who may be in Purgatory and in need of our prayers, is paired directly with All Saints Day.

While I find myself hesitant to presume to name people I have known as those we celebrate on All Saints Day, All Souls Day is the day on which we pray for all those we know who have died. Praying that if they do not do so already, they may soon enjoy the Beatific Vision.

42

Obama is Brilliant

 

I think intellectual agility tends to be one of the most overrated human characteristics in the modern world, while character, courage and morality tend to be underrated.  However, during the 2008 campaign we were constantly told by the media that Obama was brilliant and I assume that it is therefore reasonable to ask for evidence of this brilliance.  Anyone?  Feel free to supply evidence of the President’s brilliance in the comments thread to this post. Continue Reading

3

The United Nations and human life issues…

The folks at C-FAM have been doing a wonderful job and have provided a wonderful service by tracking issues concerning human life at the United Nations (UN).  Their “Friday Report” is a “must read” for anyone who is interested in a quick, weekly update concerning these issues.

 

 

One “beneath the radar” effort at the UN that C-FAM has been tracking is the long-term strategy on the part of UN officials and agencies to make abortion legal internationally.  For example, last summer—during the months when UN press coverage is minimal—the UN Secretariat released a report from the UN Human Rights Council calling on all nations to accept that “women and girls must be granted access to legal abortion” in order that they might “fully enjoy their human rights.”

UN Special Rapporteur, Anand Grover, wrote the report which links abortion on demand with the fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  Grover noted:

Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated….States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality. Safe abortions, however, will not immediately be available upon decriminalization unless States create conditions under which they may be provided. These conditions include establishing available and accessible clinics; the provision of additional training for physicians and health-care workers; enacting licensing requirements and ensuring the availability of the latest and safest medicines and equipment.

How far the UN’s mission has “progressed” (or has it really wandered astray?) since the 1950s when its focus was primarily upon the noble goals of promoting world peace, feeding the world’s children, and improving world health!

Today, “world peace” seems to imply advocating the murder of unborn infants, thus decreasing hunger among the world’s children and making medicines—like artificial forms of birth control and abortofacients—-a “human right” for women.

Interestingly, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, introduces Grover’s report, stating that he “has the honour” of presenting the report to the UN General Assembly.  That’s hardly in keeping with the UN’s official stance of neutrality on abortion.  But, then, so also is Grover’s report.

 

 

To read the C-FAM report or to subscribe to it, click on the following link:

http://www.c-fam.org/fridayfax/volume-14/un-official-says-abortion-is-a-human-right,-secretary-general-endorses-report.html