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

Thursday, November 10, AD 2011

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.



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:

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2 Responses to A President’s prayer and today’s culture wars…

Audie Murphy: American Hero

Thursday, November 10, AD 2011

“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.

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3 Responses to Audie Murphy: American Hero

  • “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” All my uncles from “the war” have gone to their rewards. Come to think of it, my Korea uncles also have passed.

    An uncle (RIP) served in the same division in Italy with Audie Murphy. A unit in that division had the record for 56 straight days in the line (I think).

    Today is the 236th birthday of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. Here is the citation for G/Sgt. Daniel Daly’s second (1915) MoH. At Belleau Wood, Daly used a line in use since Hector (and Frederick the Great) , “Get up, you blankety-blanks! Do you want to live forever?”

    Rank and organization: Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: Glen Cove, Long Island, N.Y., 11 November 1873. Accredited to: New York. Other Navy awards: Second Medal of Honor, Navy Cross.

    Serving with the 15th Company of Marines on 22 October 1915, G/Sgt. Daly was one of the company to leave Fort Liberte, Haiti, for a 6-day reconnaissance. After dark on the evening of 24 October, while crossing the river in a deep ravine, the detachment was suddenly fired upon from 3 sides by about 400 Cacos concealed in bushes about 100 yards from the fort. The marine detachment fought its way forward to a good position, which it maintained during the night, although subjected to a continuous fire from the Cacos. At daybreak the marines, in 3 squads, advanced in 3 different directions, surprising and scattering the Cacos in all directions. G/Sgt. Daly fought with exceptional gallantry against heavy odds throughout this action.

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Battleground Ohio

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

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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One Response to Battleground Ohio

November 9, 1989

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

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:

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7 Responses to November 9, 1989

  • This is of course the world-changing “9-11” in Europe.

    And, though Carter is hardly is hardly my far from my favorite president I’ve always thought he deserves some of the credit for the Wall’s demise. His “human rights” campaigns and the Helsinki accords forced the USSR to open up at least somewhat and that was enough to expose the cracks in the system.
    They humored Carter by allowing a “little” freedom here and there but discovered “a little” freedom doesn’t work, esp. when Reagan followed up with his arms build up.

  • The Soviets and the Warsaw Pact were doomed Thomas when they failed to crush Solidarity in Poland. A system built on little but force simply cannot long endure when its domestic adversaries no longer fear it. Solidarity, backed by the Pope and Reagan, demonstrated that the Soviets no longer had the will, or the stomach, to engage in the type of repression necessary to keep the Communist regimes in power.

  • Two cool things:
    I got to touch a chunk of the wall at the “Newseum” in DC, and my oldest daughter was born on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.

  • “This is of course the world-changing 9-11 in Europe”

    Interesting that it is (because European usage is to put date first, then month), because 11-9-89 and 9-11-01 just about perfectly bookend the decade of the 90s, when some people were actually convinced that “the end of history” was at hand and America would reign forever as an unchallenged superpower.

    I do remember the fall of the Wall; it is probably the one historic event in my lifetime that really gives me hope that anything is possible and no evil is so entrenched that it cannot be conquered, or destroy itself from within.

  • Foxfier your daughter had an auspicious birthdate!

    Elaine, the hand of God places into each human soul a desire for freedom. Tyrannies can do their worst to suppress that desire, but what God places into us no mere human regime can ever triumph over forever.

    “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”

  • My good friend’s son-in-law,Lance King was in Berlin when the wall came down. He has a piece of stone from the wall which has pride of place on his mantlepiece in his living room.
    Certainly a memorable time. Now there are different tyrannies that attempt to subjugate us.

  • Indeed Don. The bad news is that in every generation new tyrants arise. The good news is that there are plenty of us ready to fight them if necessary.

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

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

 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.

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

  • This is a very interesting interweaving of historical strands. Thanks.

  • As I recall, Kipling also versified harshly against America’s neutrality. Can’t quite pinpoint the poem, alas.

  • An interesting poem, and a most useful, perceptive commentary.

    As for Benedict XV, in fact, Merry del Val was replaced as Secretary of State soon after Benedict’s election, and appointed secretary of the Holy Office. Benedict’s Secretary of State was Pietro Gasparri, the architect of the 1929 Lateran Treaty and the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

    I have always figured that Pius XII’s caution during WW II was partly the result of his experiences while serving as a papal diplomat under Benedict, and witnessing how Benedict’s much-maligned neutrality was ultimately vindicated.

  • Katherine you are correct! Perhaps Pope Benedict did have a grudge about the cardinal’s hat after all! I have made the necessary correction in the post.

  • Dale, Kipling wrote the following poem in regard to the American entry into the War. I have always regarded it as a dreadful piece of drek and one of the worst poems ever written by Kipling.

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)


    The American Spirit speaks:

    To the Judge of Right and Wrong
    With Whom fulfilment lies
    Our purpose and our power belong,
    Our faith and sacrifice.

    Let Freedom’s land rejoice!
    Our ancient bonds are riven;
    Once more to use the eternal choice
    Of Good or Ill is given.

    Not at a little cost,
    Hardly by prayer or tears,
    Shall we recover the road we lost
    In the drugged and doubting years.

    But, after the fires and the wrath,
    But, after searching and pain,
    His Mercy opens us a path
    To live with ourselves again.

    In the Gates of Death rejoice!
    We see and hold the good—
    Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
    For Freedom’s brotherhood!

    Then praise the Lord Most High
    Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
    Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
    And not the living Soul!

    To the God in Man displayed—
    Where’er we see that Birth,
    Be love and understanding paid
    As never yet on earth!

    To the Spirit that moves in Man,
    On Whom all worlds depend,
    Be Glory since our world began
    And service to the end!

  • That’s the one! Yes, far from his best, but “the drugged and doubting years” is an excellent turn of phrase.

  • Agreed Dale. Even when writing a poor poem, Kipling included nuggets of gold!

  • Hmmm, based upon this I can see why Merry del Val was not kept as Secretary of State!

    “Reportedly Della Chiesa had been elected by one vote. According to the rules in force at the time, the ballot papers had a numbering on the reverse side, so that, if the election was decided by only one vote, it could be checked whether or not the elected person had voted for himself, in which case the election would be void. According to that account, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, who had been Pius X’s Secretary of State, insisted that the ballots be checked to ensure that Della Chiesa had not voted for himself – he had not. When the cardinals offered their homage to the new pope, Benedict allegedly said to Merry del Val, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” To which the unabashed Merry del Val replied with the next verse of Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.””

Mid-season NFL Power Rankings

Tuesday, November 8, AD 2011

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.)

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12 Responses to Mid-season NFL Power Rankings

  • Paul, how do you have the Eagle at 19 and Broncos at 27 when both have same record? Also, where does it say there’s only one way to win a football game and only one style? The wishbone/wildcat/option may be passe but still works when executed properly. Tebow is 3-3 as a starter and is excoriated because the MSM doesn’t like his religious views and otherwise sings from the same hackneyed page about QB play. Given time and with a few more offensive weapons and a better defense, Tim could lead a team to the playoffs.

  • how do you have the Eagle at 19 and Broncos at 27

    The Eagles, as overrated as they are, do have a net point differential in their favor. In other words, they’ve been more impressive in defeat than the Broncos have in victory.

    Tim could lead a team to the playoffs

    I’m sure he could, but unfortunately for him the UFL just disbanded.

    Long story short, he’s the NFL version of David Eckstein, only not as good at the game.

  • Paul,
    Regarding the Bears, I don’t think the Cutler has made you look foolish at all. You simply underestimated how bad his offensive line was last year. It is no great shakes this year either, but it is gradually improving from awful to mediocre, especially in support of the running game. The combination of re-establishing a running game plus some improvement in pass protection (which follows in part from the improvement in the running game) allows Cutler display his skills. The biggest rap on Cutler is his demeanor. He is hard on himself and hard on his teammates, and because he hides neither he is not the poster child for sportsmanship. Fair enough, but neither was Johnny Unitas if you are old enough to recall.
    The Bears are still pretty doggone good on defense and special teams. While I concede a fan’s bias, I expect they’ll be in the thick of things at the end as I predicted.

  • The Giants are right where they want to be just in time for their usual mid-to-late-season meltdown. Fortunately for them, 8-8 or 9-7 is good enough to win the NFC East this year.

    As for the team you have at #16, their biggest claim to fame at this point is that they play across the street from the Texas Rangers.

  • The Giants are right where they want to be just in time for their usual mid-to-late-season meltdown.

    Somebody addressed this on a Giants blog just recently, and this tendency is a tad bit exaggerated.

  • The fact that it’s considered enough of a trend that someone felt the need to address it sorta speaks for itself.

    It’s happened, and it’s happened multiple times, in the Coughlin era. Still, even with a meltdown, the Giants ought to be good enough to win the East.

  • True, but I think it’s one of those things that gets a bit exaggerated, like the fact that Romo is a choker.

    On second thought, that’s pretty much true.

    By the way, how weird is it that the Cowboys are basically the fourth best (read: worst) team in Dallas? Everyone else is doing so well, including the Stars, that the Cowboys are kind of an afterthought.

  • I agree with you. Although you’re right about it being exaggerated like Romo being a “choker” – he’s a choker … except when he’s not. He’s had lots of late-game heroics as well as late-game meltdowns. The Coughlin-era Giants have been the same way – lots of late-season heroics and some late-season meltdowns. But at least they have a Super Bowl ring to show for it, unlike Romo.

    And, yeah, the Cowboys have pretty much become an afterthought. I think they’re still ahead of the Stars in the hearts of the people (although certainly not on the playing surface), but they’ve fallen behind the Rangers and Mavs in terms of popularity. Something I would have never believed could happen when I was a kid. But there it is. I know in my own loyalty rankings I have the Rangers far ahead of everyone else, then the Mavs, then the Cowboys (hockey is a yankee/canuck sport, so who cares?) – again, something I would have NEVER considered a possibility as a kid. But Tony Romo ain’t Roger Staubach; Dez Bryant ain’t Drew Pearson; and Felix Jones ain’t Tony Dorsett.

  • And Jerry Jones sure as hell ain’t Tex Schramm! Until the Cowboys fire the current GM, they’ll never put a consistent winner on the field. Unfortunately, the owner (Jerry) has a vested interest in not firing the GM (again, Jerry).

  • Tony Romo is often the best player for the Cowboys’ O. Other times, he’s the 12th man for the opposing team. Jekyl and Hyde. I agree with Jay… fire Jerry! I do take some solace in that the recent success of the Mavericks and Rangers has to be eating him alive.

  • As long as Danny Snyder owns the Redskins, a 6-10 season is almost inevitable. How they get to 6-10 is the only question, and as you point out, it has been especially entertaining this year after a hugely sucessful preseason and a 3-1 start.

  • Jets will move up a few notches after this weekend. Down with them dreaded Pats!

So You Want to Do Criminal Defense Work

Tuesday, November 8, AD 2011



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.

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11 Responses to So You Want to Do Criminal Defense Work

  • Just a couple of days ago my wife was pulled over by a police officer while driving. My wife was stunned that she was pulled over in the first place. However she was polite and respectful, but completely railroaded by the officer. He was condescending, rude, and intimidating.

    After she got home she looked up the citation, we realized at once the officer was wrong. But also that the violation results in a misdemeanor. We were stunned. Because of the nature of her job, the misdemanor could put her employment in jeapordy. We immediatly called an attorney. We knew that this was something we needed to take seriously.

    I have a new found respect for attorneys, and I realize now how important they are. I used to think they were all “ambulance chasers”. But the fact is police can be wrong and are wrong at times. They wield great power and they don’t always have the responsibility that comes along with it. In a matter of minutes your job and livelihood, as in my wife’s case, is in jeopardy…

    We both learned a big lesson about police that day. our experience has been a real eye opener.

  • I’m mainly a civil litigation attorney, but in the few criminal defense cases I’ve worked, the sentencing stage was the most important. Like you say, most defendants are guilty, so a lot of the work is trying to get the lowest sentence possible.

    So another item on the list could be: get to know your sentencing procedures/guidelines.

  • “get to know your sentencing procedures/guidelines.”

    Indeed. Other sentencing tips:

    1. Have the client express remorse for the crime and say almost nothing beyond that, other than to apologize to any victims of the crime. Defendants often aren’t very articulate, and if care is not taken they will frequently go into excuse mode for their behavior which is precisely the wrong attitude to take.

    2. Have parents of the Defendant present if possible.

    3. Keep your client’s expectations reasonable. “No, I am afraid that the judge is not likely to give you no jail time on an armed theft conviction.”

    4. Never attempt to minimize the offense to the Court in closing at the sentencing hearing, but bring up all points possible indicating that your client has learned his lesson and is salvageable. (The worse the record the less this argument works.) Judges are often wondering two things at sentencing: “Am I going to have this Defendant in front of me again for another crime soon”, and “Has he gotten the message that he needs to obey the law in future?”

    5. If restitution is going to be an issue, if it can be paid to the satisfaction of the victim prior to sentencing that can have an immensely positive impact on sentencing. I have had very good results doing that.

  • Good points all, Don… I would especially emphasize # 3, knowing your court. I’ve had countless cases where new/visiting defense counsel have failed to do the most basic prep in this regard, to their detriment. Just ask the prosecutor or a seasoned defense attorney: “what do I need to know about appearing before this judge?”

    Some cops lie, but in my 24 years in the business, I think it’s exceptionally rare. It IS true that, as with all witnesses, perceptions are shaded by life experience, assumptions, and tunnel-vision that can all contribute to a truthful, but possibly not entirely accurate, accounting of what happened. In my experience, cops outright lie MUCH less frequently than many in the defense bar.

    I’d be very judicious about filing motions to suppress. I dealt with one yesterday that was really just one shade away from frivolous, but the earnest defense attorneys wasted 90 minutes of the court’s (and my) time, even arguing issues that they themselves knew, from a prior hearing, were utterly without legal merit. They did their client no good, and possibly some harm, by arguing an essentially baseless motion.

    Which brings me to the most important point of all, for defense or prosecutor: your credibility with the court is the most important quality you possess as a litigator. Do not squander it for one case or one client, no matter how urgently you think you should push a bad case or how sympathetic you are to a particular client. Cases and clients come and go, your credibility before the bench should remain uncompromised.

  • Oh, and definitely, a beginning defender needs to realize the client is often feeding you a pile of manure about his case. I love the look on a defense attorney’s face as we review the police report or even the defendant’s criminal history after the attorney relates a convincing story of innocence provided by his client, much like the first youtube clip, above.

    The Bottom Line for a defense attorney: Don’s #10 is spot on: It’s about damage control in 99% of the cases. You might get that genuinely innocent person 1% of the time, but the vast majority of times, the goal is to minimize the damage, by either charge reductions or sentencing agreements (Don’s #1 point).

  • I suppose this goes without saying, but how about, “be prepared.” I was on a jury once and was struck by the basic ineptness of the PDA. He was an elder gentleman and his client was obviously guilty. Yet he looked lost out there, and remember one exchange with the primary witness where he harped on a point that was completely meaningless. It sure didn’t help his client.

    By the way, the bit about cops is also true for prosecutors. My friend is a former DA in New York, and the biggest complaint he had was about the cops. Not only did they not always speak the truth, but he couldn’t rely on all of them to even be helpful with the prosecution. It’s certainly not true of all or most cops, but his view of the police certainly soured during his time as a DA.

  • “I’d be very judicious about filing motions to suppress. ”

    In my rural Illinois county Tom we can usually dispose of them in about 20 minutes on average. I never file one unless I have some legal basis for it. I know our 3 judges well: one for 16 years before he became a judge, and we tried cases against each other and together, and the other two since they began practicing law. I have a reputation for not wasting time, and they all know that even when I lose a motion to supress the hearing has served a purpose for the defense. It always amazes me, however, the number of attorneys that go out of their way to tick off judges by wasting court time, not being prepared, not being on time, etc. Simple things like dating orders before handing them up to a judge so he doesn’t have to do it can demonstate simple courtesy that most judges appreciate. Judges are only human, and an attorney they respect is usually going to fare better with him or her than an attorney they don’t.

  • Mr. McClarey: I am an undergraduate studying history and I am very interested in law as possible profession. I have heard that the job market for lawyers is not very good but I am interested in some sort of public service law such as indigent defense as opposed to private practice. Would you happen to know if that would improve my chances of employment at all? Your posts on law (and everything else) are informative and entertaining. Keep up the good work!

  • Thank you Pat! There is always work for attorneys depending upon what they wish to do. Jobs that pay attorneys 150k a year at big law firms are, indeed, in short supply. If you go to a prestigious law school and are in the upper 5% of your class, however, you would probably get one of those, but that is not what you are interested in.

    As an attorney for the indigent, you could be an assistant public defender or work for an entity partially funded by the federal government which provides legal services to the poor. Linked below is an example of such an entity:

    Other avenues of service would be as an assistant prosecuting attorney, either state or federal. You could also apply to be commissioned as a Judge Advocate General, JAG, with one of the armed services. However, those slots where you are commissioned as an officer and serve as a military attorney tend to be highly competitive these days and not easy to get.

    My advice to you as an undergrad would be to watch as many hearings and trials you can at the local courthouse to make certain that this is what you wish to get into. See if one of the local lawyers might allow you to follow him or her around through a typical day to see if what they do is of interest to you.

    When you go to law school, shoot for one with the best scholarship to debt package. Remember that most law school scholarships have a fairly high grade point average requirement at law schools in order for them to be retained. The first year of law school is a shock for many students, since for the first time in his life the student is competing against students just as bright as him. It is not unusual at law schools where grade inflation has not completely taken over for even very hard working students to get a few dreaded C’s the first year!

    At law school take as many courses as you can on criminal law. There will always be crimes and a good criminal defense attorney or prosecutor will never lack for employment. If bankruptcy courses are offered take them. A good bankruptcy attorney can always find emplployment, and if you are going to represent the indigent, a knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code will come in handy. Administrative law might well be useful. Most states have plenty of jobs for attorneys skilled in administrative law. It can be a good career path, with an eventual administrative law judgeship down the road.

    One of the good things about the law is that there are plenty of avenues of employment if you know where to look, and I haven’t even touched on private practice at a small firm which is what I have done for 29 years! The main things are to keep your debt from law school as low as possible, make sure that the law is something you wish to do with your life, and see the reality of the law for yourself before you go to law school.

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Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

Monday, November 7, AD 2011

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.
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.

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37 Responses to Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

  • “many people enjoy listening to him spout off, feel a certain agreement, but don’t really take him all that seriously or expect him to present a fully coherent philosophy”

    You give his listeners too much credit. I’ve met quite a few people who take Rush very seriously.

    I do agree with Rush that colleges deceive prospective students and it’s gotta stop. It’s so reminiscent of the housing bubble. Lots of people taking on loans they won’t be able to repay with the government encouraging the practice.

  • I first read Thucydides in the seventh grade, and I have read all of the Greek and Roman historians since then, most of them several times. I believe they have helped me through life by giving me greater insight into human character. However, if I wanted to make a living through my study of these historians I would quickly be on food stamps, and my family along with me. There is a distinction between studying something because it is intellectually fascinating, and engaging in a course of study to enhance someone’s value in the marketplace. This is a lesson that students need to learn rapidly as undergraduates. As an undergrad I obtained a teaching degree in social studies so I would have something to fall back on if I decided that the law was not for me. Just because you can’t make a living on it doesn’t mean that a subject area is not worthy of study, but only a fool does not realize that at the end of the educational process he has to find a job. Socrates engaged in philosophy and was a stone mason after all, although I doubt if Xanthippe thought he struck the correct balance between the two. (No money again today? You wasted it yacking with those worthless scamps Alcibiades, Xenophon and Plato didn’t you ? Why I married you is beyond me. Mother was right, you are a worthless layabout!)

  • I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…

    But yes. This idea that if you just get a college degree (in virtually any subject) you will automatically be given a “good job” without a whole lot of effort is so patently absurd I don’t understand how it got started. Heck, even the guys I knew who took eminently practical degrees like Computer Science had to search around a bit to find jobs.

    Is this the result of the “promote whether you pass or not” approach to education in this country, writ large?

  • I think you’re talking past each other, given that your solution is much what I seem to remember him proposing recently….

    I have no doubt that Rush knows that “classics” generally means “Greek and Roman.” (I’m just an ignorant kid whose highest, finalized, official schooling is high school, and I caught on to that…though my listening as an adult is MUCH later than yours, starting about 2006; I graduated in ’01 with the delightful luck of an English teacher who adored the classics enough to inflict them on his students.)

    What he’s commenting on is something I’ve observed, that folks think graduating with a degree in X means that they deserve a job in X. I see places around myself, and my folks, that are begging for folks to work– but no-one will, because it’s not their field. (example convicts picking apples at better than $20 an hour, yet the areas near them are still highly unemployed, though the convicts are no less skilled at apple picking than an English major.)

    FWIW, I don’t listen to Rush much. He repeats too much for my taste, and with the blogosphere I get news before he does most times. I also, to cut off accusations, don’t even have cable– let alone Fox News. His kabuki style annoyed me even when I did listen to him at least once a month, but I’m easily annoyed.

    Lest you take offense, I’ve been doing this for years– back in 2000, the recruiters thought that I was an anti-military nut because I pointed out that every restaurant I’d seen in our nearest community college town had a “help wanted” sign. I’m sorry, but I have no sense when it comes to delicately pointing out facts at variance with the POINT, even when I can see your point is “having a degree that makes your life better but not more profitable isn’t a bad thing.”

    Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.

  • On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back. At the time, the only Hanson I’d read was Fields Without Dreams and The Western Way of War so I was surprised to have someone I’d only run into as an academic author show up on there. I believe it was right after Hanson had written a book about the need to teach the Great Books.

  • Well, the hard truth is that Rush is right, and I say that as someone with a Ph.D in the humanities. To paraphrase what a friend once told me, they ain’t opening political science factories anytime soon. But like Darwin, I wouldn’t have chosen any other path.

    College has become a racket – a big money racket. We are telling our kids that they all have to got to college, regardless of need or merit. Then, when they get there, they are offered no guidance whatsoever.

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something. I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.

  • Paul-
    you have a point; Mr. “if you were REALLY conservative, you’d ignore your points the way I’m ignoring them and do what I want” is a topic I missed. “Fostering appreciation of the classics”– let alone to the point where graduating with a degree in them is a good choice from a career perspective– is WAY down my list as a conservative, below “basic biological understanding of the start of life” and “respect of basic human rights, such as to life, property and association.”

  • That’s more than the cart before the horse, it’s putting the elegant coach-and-four ahead of making sure folks know how to identify a cart horse….

  • “I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…”

    True, fortunately most of us have spouses with tongues far less sharp than Xanthippe’s!

    “On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back.”

    My favorite living historian as well as a writer of grace and elegance. Here is a link to his books, all of which I recommend:

    For those interested in understanding the sad state of the Classics in most of academia today, Hanson’s, along with his co-authors’, Who Killed Homer and Bonfire of the Humanities are indispensable.



  • “I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.”


  • “Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.”

    My wife and I have enjoyed Rush since he came on in 1988 Foxfier, and all 3 of our kids have been exposed to him all of their lives.

  • Victor Davis Hanson deals with a question from a charter member of Tin Foil Hats R Us:

  • I don’t listen to Rush very often these days, because his “shtick” gets on my nerves after about 5 or 10 minutes. However, I did read a couple of the books he wrote in the early 90s, “The Way Things Ought to Be” and “See, I Told You So” and I liked them both. The first book, especially, is an excellent introduction to his basic thought.

    One of Rush’s favorite shticks is “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd” so one cannot assume that he is always being totally serious. In reading his allegedly anti-classical education rant above I suspect he is being heavily sarcastic at various points.

    I don’t think Rush is saying that “the classics” — meaning, the seminal literary, historic and artistic works of Western civilization going back to ancient Greece and Rome — are not worth studying. If anything they are a great way to clear the mush out of young skulls full of mush. But it all depends on how you define classical studies, and how they are taught. What if they are taught by leftist professors who despise Dead White European Males and are determined to show how racist, sexist, bigoted, etc. they are? Then your education really would be worthless.

    Also, does one really have to spend thousands of dollars on a college education to study the classics? Why not just go to the library and read them for free, or pick up some cheap copies at a secondhand bookstore? Lots of homeschoolers do just that.

    What Rush is saying, in my judgment, is simply that one is not owed or guaranteed a job simply by virtue of completing a college degree, particularly a college degree in a subject that is not directly related to vocational or professional development. If you choose to study a non-vocational or liberal arts field, you do so at your own risk, and may have to be more creative in selling yourself to prospective employers. You can’t just sit back and expect job offers to fall in your lap.

  • Agreed Elaine, on all counts except that I still listen to Rush most days. I re-read See I Told You So in grad school for a paper and found it surprisingly insightful and with more depth than I had initially remembered. It was certainly as serious an investigation of conservative principles as something like, say, Crunchy Cons.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something.

    That is unfair to Dreher, who had a series of severe objections, not mild annoyances. He did not process what he was reading intelligently, but what he was reading was mighty disagreeable.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people. The American Conservative‘s readers and editors will receive a daily report of his emotional upsets, which will be the price they pay for what they really want. Dreher has a long history of affiliation, disaffiliation, and accusation. If you are a bunch of sectaries, reading an distrubed middle-aged man issue indictments against the other sects is a sort of catnip.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    Kyle was a year behind me at Steubenville, so I can assure you that his degree was in English Lit, not Classics. 🙂 Though in a sense, the same difficulties apply. It did strike me as a rather extreme outburst for Kyle, though, underlined by the fact that his summary of Limbaugh’s rant is about as hyperbolically inaccurate in describing what Limbaugh actually says as anything in Limbaugh’s rant itself is in relation to Classics.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people.

    Ain’t that the truth!

  • I rather think this comment is largely sadly correct regarding Classics in most of academia:

    “Well, you know, it’s obvious as I look into this Classical Studies business it is obvious at one time it was something of great esteme, something of tremendous import and value. I have to think like everything else in higher education today that it’s been dumbed down. In fact, about Victor Davis Hanson, he actually created the classics program at California State University Fresno in 1984, and he was a professor there until recently. He created it because of the deterioration in the whole field because of how it’s lost whatever specialness that it once had. But I think there’s all kinds of theories to explain what’s going on in higher education. For example, it’s not new that college graduates don’t know anything. That’s not really that new.

    Now, I think it is relatively new, two generations, that worthless degrees are being constructed and taught and awarded. But generally what’s happened is that American employers have taken these ill-educated graduates and they’ve turned ’em into productive employees after a lot of investment. But in this economy, in the Obama economy, employers don’t have the money, they don’t have the wherewithal, and they don’t have the confidence or the money or the time or the patience to go out and hire uneducated people and turn ’em into something. Because they can’t get a handle on what faces them next year with Obamacare, what other regulations might be awaiting them.

    So this woman, or person, whoever it is, I’m assuming it’s a woman that wrote this note, Occupy Wall Street, lamenting the fact she’s gonna have zero job opportunities with her Classical Studies degree, the villain is Obama. There will be a time where the economy will be able to absorb these people again, but it’s down the road a bit. ‘Cause after you get a degree in Classical Studies, what do you need? You need Reality Studies. And Reality Studies is what you get when you get out of college and you start going to work and you learn what you don’t know. And if you don’t have the ability to admit that you don’t know anything, then Reality Studies is gonna be a cold slap upside the head, and it isn’t gonna be pleasant.”


  • Indeed. (Confession: I hadn’t read past the first commercial break.)

    Though I will say, in defense of my old field, that Classics has held up far better than other fields (history, literature, etc.) against the silliness which has come to pervade the Humanities. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s necessarily grounded in actually learning Greek and Latin and actually reading ancient texts. People sometimes try to get into all sorts of trendy analysis after that, but the fact that everything has to start with the language and the texts is a big help in keeping it sober and rigorous.

  • Well said Elaine. Apparently Kyle missed the class on sarcasm during his classical studies period. Rush was indeed “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd”. Just because you have a degree does not entitle you to a handout. You have only secured a piece of paper (degree). Get out there and work hard to accomplish whatever particular goals you set for yourself. if you wish to obtain material things on this earth then you must do so yourself and not depend upon the government or anyone else to hand you anything. If you have no interest in material things then fine. Be at peace with that. But, don’t run to the feeding trough looking for a free ride during your time on this earth. Don’t choose to be a sloth and expect to be rewarded for it. Feel free to choose whatever degree you wish but be prepared for the realities of the job market. Free enterprise and capitalism will dictate the the current job market- as they should.

  • THis was painful. First First things had comments on a post on tenure in which people were bashing medieval studies, and now classics (classics was my undergrad degree, medieval my grad). People need to be told that most of these humanities degrees directly translate into jobs in their own areas (ie. a classics job) only in academia and they require graduate degrees. I would tell students to minor/double major in classics if they are doing it mainly for self improvement/interest.

  • I studied the Classics, having translated Cicero’s Orations Against Cataline and Virgil’s Aenid in Latin class long ago. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few other ancient writings as well. Yes, I did read some Catullus and Horace, but I kept those poems even in their Latin well away from my mother, God bless her! I even studied Koine Greek (most of which I have since forgotten – the old “don’t use it, then lose it” maxim comes to mind), and had translated St. John’s Gospel. But I never expected to directly make money off any of these things. My Mom and Dad taught me that I had to do good old fashion work. They encouraged my classical studies (except for Horace and Catullus) so that I could think like a man. And they encouraged my entry in the nuclear submarine service so that I could behave like a man. Both are essential to eventually getting a decent job that pays well, and in being a useful and responsible citizen (which I hope I qualify as). I now have to return to that job – “nukes ‘R us” – and use the grammatical and editorial skills I learned pouring over some esoteric text that Aurelius or Cicero wrote to write nuclear procedures that make sense, are simple, and can be followed by the most hopeless of engineers for whom English grammar and writing style was an art in college reserved solely for the artsy-fartsy types. 😉

    PS, I never did go to college. Instead, I went to Naval Nuclear Power School which I am told is much worse – no keg parties, just lots and lots of studying, and then months at a time on a submarine beneath the waves. And I kept up with some of my Classical studies which enabled me to make sense of what happens when I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and to read the Nova Vulgata.

  • From 1962, The Changing of the Guard episode from the Twilight Zone which reminds us of two things:

    1. Sometimes the most impractical parts of our education can be very important for guiding us along in life.

    2. Teaching, when well done, can be a very noble profession indeed.

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    I can offer no defense of students who foolishly expect that getting a degree in X will mean getting a job in X (or a job, period), and if that was all El Rushbo was saying, I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I agree with you that Classics and other humanities are worth studying for their own sake, regardless of the field one goes into, but, commercialist though I may be, I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

  • I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    For the sake of precision, what he said in the quoted passages which would indicate he held to this ‘fantasy’ was as follows:

    “Socialism as a remedy. They demand that everybody else take care of them — and, my friends, this is not an accident.”

    It is not immediately clear from this sentence what he considers whose intentions and plans to be. (In any case, if you are on the air for – what? – fifteen hours a week, you are bound to make ill-considered remarks from time to time).

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    By all the gods, have I become so predictable?

    Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I’m not at all clear that’s what he was saying — especially now that I’ve read on past the first commercial break. It sounds to me more like a general claim that encouraging people to have unmeetable expectations out of life in regards to job prospects will encourage people to turn to the state to solve their problems. This is, perhaps, a bit conspiracy minded, but given that some have been suggesting in connect with the OWS movement that if people can’t be guaranteed a good job when they graduate college than then “the system” clearly needs to be changed in order to do so, I’m not sure it’s entirely fantastic.

    I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

    I suppose. Perhaps much of it is that I’m not generally sanguine about the prospects of getting people excited about a topic simply by telling them, “You should be excited about this! That would allow people to make a living writing books for you or giving lectures to you!”

    In my own little way, I try to do my part by talking about and writing about Classical culture with those I know. I’m not really sure what, beyond that, Dreher expects people to do. Though Limbaugh does get in a pitch further down for Victor David Hanson’s writing, someone who comes fairly close to being a Classicist crossing over into general popular writing. (Part of the problem, to my mind, with Dreher’s expecation is that greater interest in the Classics might translate to a minutely increased number of figures such as Hanson rather than a vast number of well employed young Classicists.)

  • Reading through these comments, I would wager that many of the OWS fleabaggers and their supporters among the liberal elites would not know Cicero from Plato, must less be able to understand what Cicero was driving at in De Officiis or Paradoxa Stoicorum, or what Plato was driving at in The Republic or The Statesman. And if they did understand, then they wouldn’t agree in most cases. I suppose the same is true of most conservatives. Alas, we have been done educated into imbecility.

  • The only memorable piece of writing that I can recall from Rod Dreher was the time he said in the comments at Amy Welborn’s former blog that he’d like to kick the chancellor of the Diocese of Rockford, IL in the privates.

    Yeah, real high-brow stuff.

  • “What am I going to do with my degree in philosophy? Open a shop and sell concepts?” asked the young lady. The study of the [Greek and Latin] must be done for the intellectual pleasure and value derived from them. In England decades ago, the study was required to get a job in the Foreign Office. They were thought to develope one’s thinking ability; and also one’s writing style, so important for short and coherent dispatches. [Consider Veni, vidi, vici].
    A grevious flaw in the study of the Classics is that these studies have pushed aside the study of Mediaeval Latin and Greek, which among other things is much simpler and clearer than the vagaries of Ciceronian oratory. That Latin was spoken and written for far longer than “classical” Latin. Much fine poetry, much great thought, much scientific theory was written in Latin down to the 18th Century, Samuel Johnson on his visit to Paris conversed in Latin with several French scholars. The Renaissance was Latin speaking phenomenon.

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  • Frankly common sense simply sees that Rush was dealing with the situation of getting jobs….where the jobs are in greater abundance. It’s a discussion of practicality and expense and frankly motivation, using his own experience. You can get a background in the classics without an expensive college formation in such subjects that don’t have a lot of slots out there for their purity alone. My cousin did classic studies as an aside to his medical studies just for personal interest. So I don’t see a reason for such consternation other than one might feel personally upset because he spent time and trouble to follow his own personal interest and wishes to defend it from criticism. But I wouldn’t term practical criticism as “blather” or a need for a personal attack. I would think the wisdom of the “classical” teachings would itself advise against such reponses!

    Yes, it certainly is “possible” to graduate with such subjects being the principal study and “get a job”, but it is also wise to get the practical picture before adding to one’s debt for a happier future. I have to wonder even about certain Catholic long time bloggers, their chosen “fields” for life work, who wish to be considered knowledgeable via “opinions” on a number of subjects, but who consequently must beg for funds to support their families from readers who themselves may be working 2 or 3 jobs, not esp. to their liking, in order to first take care of their main responsibility as fathers and husbands!!

  • Elaine beat me to the punch by a long way.

    If I had been more creative (which is kind of ironic when you’re a performing artist), I probably could have gotten to this point without a college degree. Sure, audition committees probably feel more comfortable with somebody who has an institution’s seal of approval, but is it strictly necessary? Not always. Are there ways around it? Yes, for the determined individual, there are. If you can deliver, consistently, reliably, and at the highest level, you will be hired regardless of any letters by your name. The main advantage of college for me was that it put me in close proximity with a lot of peers in my field for an extended time. The vast majority of the work I’ve gotten has been through those relationships and connections. It was more convenient to have it all packaged like that — and naturally, more expensive.

  • rosie, leaving aside particular examples in the blogosphere or otherwise, you introduce a fair point. There is a reason why we call it “work.” Most adults work dutifully in jobs they do not especially like for one reason — the money. People need to support their families and try to accumulate a little security in the process if possible. Some people instead opt for occupations that they find fulfilling, even if less remunerative. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong for them to complain or expect others to provide for them. Very few people truly marry their vocation with their avocation, and those that can do so successfully are truly blessed. Many of these “occupiers” seem to think they are entitled to do this, and that is naive and selfish. Of course, their enablers have been parents and other boomers who keeping repeating that silly mantra “find your passion.” The idea that one is entitled to make a living by doing whatever one finds interesting and fulfilling is obnoxious. Tell that to a “pricing strategist” at Pepsi.

  • Now now Mike! There might be a couple of us around here who happen to think being a pricing strategist is much like marrying a vocation with an avocation (even at Pepsi!). 🙂 Granted, we may be odd birds, but (I think I speak for both of us here) there was no prior interest in the field and the work was taken as a means to food on the table, but have since developed a significant enough interest to call it a passion.

  • By his own admission, Rush does his thing for the money. It seems that he also believes his unwashed brand of free-market, limited-government opinions are the best overall for the majority of the people.

    The kicker: the liberals, e.g., Obama-worshiping geniuses that can’t find work like the ones at #OccupyFAIL, give him so much to talk about.

    Limbaugh’s not the only person raising the “higher education bubble” issue. See Instapundit’s periodic entries.

    Here is one of my “take-aways” from reading the Classics: In stressful situation, I often ask myself, “What would Odysseus do?” In other words, think about why he was the only one to get home to Ithaca. Although, I think that killing all the suitors was, ahem, “overkill.”

  • I sometimes listen to Rush and I enjoy his program. I accidentally tuned in back in the early 90’s and found that his views are sometimes my views. I especially loved his early satire. Remember the timber updates. He has a good work ethic, makes tons of money and is annoying at times. Just turn it off if it sends you over the edge. One of my daughters graduated with a major in political science and a minor in history. She took the law exams, passed and said she would never want to be a lawyer. I said get a job, any job. Find work because you have to support yourself. She started in a small communications business, applied and finished her masters degree at a local university and through the years has worked herself into a very good position with a fortune 500 company in the field of energy. College can be a boondoggle. Students entering should always think about how they can apply their studies to the real world.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

    Well, he is not a personal friend of mine, so I just have to react to what he writes. Some of those who contribute here locked horns with him for years at Open Book. Others just observed his shtick.

    1. It is exceedingly imprudent to remark without qualification on what you read in the newspapers about criminal prosecutions or civil disputes. It tends to provoke even more irritation when you a putatively a journalist and supposed to evaluate things with a skeptical ear, no?

    2. What your gut tells you does not matter much. Emotional freight (yours or someone else’s) is not probative.

    3. If you have a habit of framing something in terms of the embarrassment or upset it causes you, you tend to alienate people.


    4. More particularly, the most salient problem associated with the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was as follows: uncorroborated accusations delivered 15 years after the fact are very difficult to evaluate in a satisfying way. That was not the only vector operating in diocesan chanceries, but it was perhaps the most powerful one. Also, one’s sense of plausibility does change given experience. A bishop who has in his files four or five accusations accumulated against priests in the previous 40 years (the mode in 1978) will likely listen with a different kind of ear than a bishop who has received four or five accusations in the previous 18 months (the mode 10 years later). In addition, a mass of accusations against priests is indicative of a general problem. It is not very helpful in evaluating specific cases, any more than crime statistics help you dispose of specific indictments.

    I am not sure Leon Podles ever acknowledged any of the foregoing. Rod Dreher did once in regard to a priest he knew personally. Having faced the issue once, he then stopped facing it, and returned to being irked, bored, and impatient with anyone who raised the matter. Interfered with his narrative.

    5. The vicissitudes of life, public and private, commonly cause people who are not completely pig-headed to make incremental adjustments to their worldview. Some people make radical adjustments, though usually not in middle-age. This sort of experience should temper your vehemence.

    6. With regard to the above, and more generally, if your default mode is one of accusation, you tend to alienate people.

    7. Also with regard to the above, and more generally, if your priority seems to be one of appearance (being seen with x, y, or z), it tends to be alienating. Lack of a certain bravery under fire tends to be alienating as well.

    8. A great many of us are hypocrites in large matters and small, including yours truly. When an obnoxious advocate of child safety and the simple life mentions off-hand that all the windows in his house are painted shut and he has the a/c running 24/7, one is amused (if one was previously alienated; struck dumb otherwise).

    9. Whittaker Chambers did not claim to have invented his own dispensation in political thought, crunch crunch.

A Debate Proposal

Monday, November 7, AD 2011

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!

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11 Responses to A Debate Proposal

  • While we may not need Lincoln-Douglas essays, we definitlely need a format where candidates question each other directly with NO moderators or questioners, only a timekeeper. As far as limiting the field, should that choice be left to pollsters and polling results? I suppose no one has to televise a debate if they don’t think it would attract a large enough TV audience, but if an alternate format could be arranged in that case, viewing over the internet, announced candidates should still be free to parrticipate. If they have little or no public support sooner or later their funds will dry up and out they’ll go.

  • My ideal debate format: each candidate is given 15 minutes for opening statements. Each candidate is then given 10 minutes to respond to what their adversary said. Then each candidate has 5 minutes to close. Limit each debate to only two candidates. More than that and we merely have a joint appearance and not a debate. No questions from moderators or the audience, although written questions may be submitted in advance with candidates free to respond or ignore.

  • Mono a mano double elimination debate playoffs. What we’ve got now is too close to the BCS model of picking a champion. We need playoffs!

  • Chris-2-4: Yes! That’s the spirit.

  • I like the round-robin idea. But I want the opposite of more uninterrupted time. Half the time they don’t even address the question. “The real question is…” No that’s not the real question! That’s your way of avoiding the real question! The other half of the time, they go off into talking points. No candidate has ever said anything important past the 30-second mark.

    Here’s an idea for a moderator-less debate: Two candidates with a chess clock connected to the mics. Each gets 15-20 minutes so they have to allocate it wisely. We can have two or three pairs of debaters a night.

    It would also be nice to have an independent non-partisan group evaluate economic plans. Like a CBO for candidates. It’s amazing what candidates can get away with saying about their economic plans.You’d never know just by listening to them that Cain’s plan adds a new sales tax, would encourage a black market, increases taxes for most Americans, and initially didn’t even have any exception for the poor or that Perry’s plan would balloon the deficit and disadvantage single middle-class people or that Newt’s plan is even worse for the deficit or that Romney has no plan to reform personal income tax. I wish Huntsman’s tax reform tax were flatter and simpler but it’s the only sane plan that has been proposed.

  • RR – I tend not to be fussy about individual tax plans. The candidates’ positions are mostly the result of the staffers they hire. If one campaign guy got a better offer from Candidate A, or was finishing up a book when Candidate B was hiring so he ended up working for Candidate C who got into the race late, then most everyone would be pitching different plans. And no one’s going to say that Candidate D has a good plan, so each one’s got to propose something different. And, ultimately, any one of the candidates as president would sign any one of the plans if it made it through Congress.

    I’d like to see one candidate at a time being interviewed. Ninety minutes, no “gotchas”. Half hour on economic/fiscal policy, half hour on foreign/military, half hour on social. I’ve got my problems with Charlie Rose, but he’d be as good as anyone.

  • Just do away with debates altogether. Have a series of 30 min. interviews with each candidate.

  • The quality of interviews depends largely on the quality of the interviewer. Charlie Rose is good because he interrupts droning speeches. I like gotchas, not because of the substance of the questions and answers, but because it can throw candidates off and show us how well they can handle unexpected situations. Palin handles gotchas well even though she really should know the answers to questions like “what do you read?” Cain and Perry are horrible. The other candidates are quite good. Santorum stumbled when asked about DADT but that’s because he holds an indefensible position on the issue.

  • I guess the “gotchas” that I’m sick of are the ones they have on the Sunday morning talk shows. I remember Tim Russert used to have some interesting questions, but he always seemed more interesting in the swing than in running the bases. So many interviewers today are looking for the news-breaker moment. I can’t think of a person I’d trust to conduct the kind of interviews I’m thinking of. Maybe someone like Bill Kristol?

  • c-spanvideo.org
    click *browse*
    look under featured programs
    Herman Cain-Newt Gingrich Lincoln-Douglas Style Debate

    the first 10-15 minutes are introductions

    the last questions are hilarious

  • Thanks Sharon. I watched it. Cain is so out of his league. I think it’s Newt’s time to shine. He’s really gotta be more positive though. He seems so mad all the time.

Were the Founders Hypocrites?

Monday, November 7, AD 2011

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:

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Illinois is Economic Road-Kill

Sunday, November 6, AD 2011

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.

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23 Responses to Illinois is Economic Road-Kill

  • And to add insult to injury, you’re stuck with the Cubs, White Sox and Jay Cutler. My sympathies, Don. Up here in WI, at least we have the Pack and a contending Brewer team. Plus, Walker’s tough budget moves and restraints on public unions have worked. The budget is damn near balanced and companies are starting to take a hard look at WI for relocation/expansion, bypassing Illinois. If you can stand the harsh winters, come on up!

  • My mother-in-law lives up in Kenosha Joe and we visit her each year in August. If I didn’t have a fairly thriving practice after 26 years effort, I would have immigrated to the Land of Cheese this year!

  • Funny you should bring up this topic, Don, because of late I have begun to contemplate, for the first time in my life, whether it might not be wise for me and my family to move out of Illinois in the long term, say, after our daughter finishes high school (a huge move since neither of us has ever lived anywhere but in central or north-central Illinois and we have no friends or relatives living anywhere else).

    However, it’s not because of the tax increase, economic policy or even rampant government corruption (corruption may be less frequent elsewhere, but it does still happen). It’s because of the state’s apparent surrender to what Mark Shea calls the “gay brownshirts” and the abortion lobby. We’ve all heard about Catholic Charities being forced out of the adoption and foster care business, which is bad enough.

    A few days ago, on another blog (which I unfortunately can’t seem to find right now) I caught a post by someone IDing themselves as a licensed social worker in Illinois, saying they have heard rumors within their agency that the state will eventually require all social workers, as a condition of licensure, to agree that they will refer women for abortions if requested and that they will be willing to place children with gay couples.

    Now granted, this is just one anonymous blog post and it is just a rumor, so nothing may come of it. But I can’t help but wonder if there is a day coming when agreeing to endorse gay marriage and/or abortion will become a condition of state employment, or worse yet, of obtaining teacher certification, and if that happens, then we and all observant Catholic residents of Illinois are really screwed.

    The only question is, where to go? Is Cheesehead Land really a safe refuge, considering that Walker COULD be recalled and the crazy leftists could still take everything back? St. Louis isn’t too far away and looks kind of attractive but their economy, crime rate, etc. don’t look too promising. Indiana, Kentucky or Tennessee I could probably handle but again, not sure what the job prospects are. I don’t handle extreme heat or humidity very well so I’m not considering Texas or Florida or Arizona at this point. Again, all this is just speculating out loud and may never happen but I’d be interested in hearing any ideas.

  • Our poor Illinois is in a sad state Elaine. Long term I am optimistic on both the political front and the economic front, far more long term on the economic front, but short term optimism is not called for. I would probably go for west central Indiana myself, probably just right across the Illinois border as being similar to my beloved central Illinois. I was born and reared in Paris, so I was going across into Indiana all the time when I was growing up.

  • If I had the money and another 20 years, I’d follow Jesse Ventura to Mexico; better yet, Costa Rica. America is no longer the land I grew up in, sad to say.

  • The moral bankruptcy is worse.

    BUT: The bankrupt red states’ bonds must be repaid (from whence they’re killing the private sector?) or refinanced at much higher interest rates (consistent with excessively high default risks). Then, the US fiscal scam will be kaput like Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal have doomed the Eurozone to fiscal and monetary ruin.

    Short everything, except gold and guns.

    Go Jets!

  • I suspect that the blue states’ marriage to their ruinous economic policies is based on
    a belief that if/when the crash comes, the federal government will provide a bailout.
    In other words, the taxpayers of the more prudent states will pick up the tab for the
    negligence and irresponsibility of states like Illinois and California.

    It is a given that by that time, the politicians and bureaucrats responsible for the mess
    will have moved on and up. It will fall to others to clean up behind them, if they are
    even left with the financial means. Illinois will have exported its malaise to the other
    states. In the end, if federal bailouts of failed states happen, there will be nowhere
    in America that one can move to escape the effects.

  • “There will be nowhere in America that one can move to escape the effects”

    Of an economic collapse, yes, but I’m thinking more of a place one can escape the worst effects of aggressive liberal social engineering policies apparently designed to drive Catholics and evangelical Christians out of public life altogether. Or will we eventually not be able to escape THAT anywhere, even in reliably red states? If that’s the case, nowhere in North America will be safe (Canada is way worse in this regard already, and I’m not even gonna think about Mexico until they get the drug cartels under control).

  • Federal monies always come with strings attached. If our betters in Washington
    insist on taking our tax dollars to bail out failed blue states, you can count on
    them insisting that all states must submit to increased oversight and interference
    from the federal government.

    At least, if I were a fellow traveller with this administration, that’s how I’d play it.
    So if I’m anywhere near right, Mrs. Krewer, there will be nowhere in the 50 states
    to run to.

  • (Quietly pondering the destiny of arguably the greatest nation the world has ever seen – slowly slipping beneath the waves? )
    Long term I think (and hope) the USA will return to its core strengths and principles, wnich in many/most states it is failing to do right now. The pendulum swings – where is it right now?
    How many of the US states could well carry the label ” The Socialist Soviet of…………….” ?
    I suspect many more than is good for their economy and longevity.
    The South Pacific – despite our own issues – seems pretty good right now 🙂

  • Way, way too much gloom and doom in this thread! The great thing about man made disasters is that they have man made solutions. Time to roll up our sleeves and fight the political battles that need to be fought. A great start was made in 2010. Pro-life legislation is coming to the forefront in state after state, along with needed fiscal reform in many states. The economic policies promoted by our political adversaries are completely bankrupt, literally, and people are ready to listen to alternatives. This is a time of opportunity if we can only take advantage of it.

  • Sorry, Don, Spengler was right. We’re in the winter of decline. We are no longer one nation, one people. Multiculturalism has taken over and the results are disastrous as Europe is discovering. We will be destroyed by the vandals from within, as Lincoln said.

  • Spengler was as wrong Joe as his turgid tomes were snooze inducing. We are not in decline, any more than we were in decline during our Civil War when 620,000 Americans were killed fighting each other, or in the American Revolution when 20-30% of the poulation fought the British. One good thing about studying real history, rather than that Teutonic pessimism with an historical wrapper that Oswald Spengler was peddling, is that it gives one the ability to step back from one’s time and take a look at it from a broader perspective than is possible of attainment when we view events solely from a current stance.

    (For those wondering who the heck is Spengler?:


  • We are not in decline.

    Don, choose to ignore all the jeremiads, but as the prophet wrote:

    How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
    She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.

  • And the Jews are still with us Joe, and Israel has arisen from the ashes. Jeremiads are all well and good for any society, but they tell only part of the story.

  • Don, when you get older you’ll lose your optimism, trust me.

  • I’m 54 now Joe. As I have grown older I have grown more optimistic.

  • Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.
    (not your favorite philospher, I’m sure)

  • Indeed Joe. One of Voltaire’s favorite sayings was: “Lie, lie and lie! Some of the lies will stick!”

    Considering the life that François-Marie Arouet lived, I think pessimism as he neared his personal judgment with God was an understandable reaction in his case.

    I prefer this sally from a sinner, Oscar Wilde, who died repentant and embracing mother Church:

    “Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.’

  • I realize that Joe is an agnostic so this may not mean much to him yet, but for those of us who are Christians, even the end of the world is not the end of the world 🙂

    It also helps me to remember something C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Weight of Glory”:

    “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

  • Don, Wilde was semi-comatose on his deathbed and a priest was sent for. Apparently baptized as a child, the priest was reluctant to baptize him again but reportedly did so. Whether he was aware of the last rites is in question. This was the same made who uttered:

    ‘I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.’

    Spot on, Oscar.

  • Actually Joe before he became ill he had attempted to go on a retreat with the Jesuits. His desire to embrace the Church was no mere death bed fancy. Here is what the priest said who attended him in his last hours:

    “As the voiture rolled through the dark streets that wintry night, the sad story of Oscar Wilde was in part repeated to me….Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional baptism, and afterwards answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying. As the man was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious… Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last Sacraments… And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.”

    Here is a good article on the long conversion of Oscar Wilder:


  • Interesting read, Don. Thanks for the link. Although I wouldn’t place him in the highest strata of English lit, which would include Dickens, Hardy and Kipling, Wilde is a rung below and left a few masterpieces.

    As for deathbed converts, alleged or otherwise, the list is long, starting with The Good Thief, down through Constantine, Antonio Gramsci (debatable), Wallace Stevens, King Charles II. Others who supposedly “saw the light” at the end were said to include Charles Darwin (though he daughter denied it) and Jean-Paul Satrre (to Judaism).

    Bishop Sheen tells of a deathbed conversion in his autobiography, Treasure in Clay, where he repeatedly visited a dying cancer patient in the hospital who kept telling him to “get the hell out.” Sheen says the man called on Jesus just before he expired, according to a nurse.

Holy Deck of Cards

Sunday, November 6, AD 2011

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:

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13 Responses to Holy Deck of Cards

The Devil is in the Details

Saturday, November 5, AD 2011


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.

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2 Responses to The Devil is in the Details

  • I still can’t see it. I’m getting old.

  • I personally do Not think that this image was placed within the clouds by the Artist upon Purpose! My reasoning is due to a similar image that appeared within the clouds of one of my paintings titled “The Last Prayer For Mankind” By: Tammi Vaughan. This image was pointed out to me from a Gallery Owner and I did not paint it intentionally among othr images that “Just Appeared such as Christ”. I know that these are messages and do not take for granted that they were placed within the artwork on purpose! Tammi vaughan dot com Christian Art “The Last Prayer For Mankind”.

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

Saturday, November 5, AD 2011

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?

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

  • They were played like banjoes. Or, some knew this was coming but prefer to be
    considered dupes rather than be known to be traitors.

    Evidently the ‘good offices’ of the ACLU were used to craft the language of the
    definition. This is a deliberate assault on the Church by this administration.

    Myself, I cannot express my utter contempt for any Catholic who can continue to
    offer his support to the reelection of this president.

  • Late to recognize the danger? Yes. Undoubtably. To late to resist tyranny? Never!

    France and Britain fell into the same trap as many Catholics. It is easy to find excuses to avoid fighting. It seems so reasonable that one can overcome irrational state action with level-headed dialogue and engagement. I understand why Catholics were suckered in… The Obama machine applied a veneer of catholicity to everything.

    It was almost too late when Europe woke up to the threat. It is a lot less late now.

    JPII’s words ring all the more true in this time of trouble; “be not afraid.”

  • And by “to late to resist,” I mean “too late to resist.”

    I just can’t get used to the touch screen typing.

  • The solution: vote Obama out in 2012.

    I bet dollars to donuts they will 24/7 work for Obama in 2012, again.

    Of course, it was willful ignorance. In 2008, the USCCB (and filthy schismatics everywhere) ignored abortion and sanctity of the family/marriage (gay marriage/don’t ask, don’t tell) two of the Pope’s four non-negotiables.

    They are now raising a “stink” when it means nothing; except they can fabricate a narrative of opposition to mandated abortions and taxpayer funding for abortion/contraceptives after they actively supported same.

    Too late, mate. All this wailing and gnashing of teeth: me parece mentira, sinverguenzas.

  • All of this is happening because the bishops wanted illegal aliensto have government healthcare. They were warned by me ( I wrote every cardinal, AB, and bishop in the U.S. that this Democrat dictated phony healthcare bill was creating death panels as well as taxpayer funded abortions) and I’m sure others did as well. But illegal aliens were more important to the bishops than anything else in this bill. Even after the 2010 elections, AB Dolan, president of the USCCB wrote that they were not going to try and repeal this horrible bill. Now, they are having to deal with the evil the pro-abortion party is throwing at them. If the bishops are really serious about fighting the Democrat attack on the U.S. Catholic Church, they will have all church-going Catholics hold up their Profession of Faith as a mirror and look at themselves in it to see if they really believe what they say they believe in church on Sundays after the Gospel and homily. In it they profess to believe God is the giver of life. That is one of the basic tenets in the P of F that one must believe in order to be called a Christian. If they do believe what they say they believe, than for their own spiritual sake, and to be true to their word, they should remove their name from the Democrat Party, the pro-abortion party, and never vote for another Democrat again until that party supports ending abortion-on-demand remaining the law of the land.

    Another spiritual reason for such Catholics to do that is their praying the Lord’s Prayer standing before the Holy Eucharist in Mass in which they pray for God’s will to be done on earth, and to be delivered from evil. Is it God’s will to create life for it to be aborted? Is God in contradiction with himself? Or are Catholic Democrats in contradiction with what they say they believe and pray for? Abortion is a spiritual issue, not political. Catholics should be taught this starting with the clergy, and that includes the bishops and above. Do you believe what you say you believe? Do you really want what you pray for in the Our Father? Than act on it and remove all support for the pro-abortion party. Actions speak louder than words.

  • No, it is absolutely not too late to criticize; better late than never. What is the alternative? Take it lying down?

  • The solution?

    Recognize that Catholics are exempt from the mandates of the federal government regarding sterilization, contraception, & abortion.

    These “regulations”, regardless of “conscience exemptions”, specifically make it impossible for the free practice of our religion. As such, they are directly opposed to the First Amendment and are therefore unconstitutional edicts.

    “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.”
    – Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Section 177. (late 2nd Ed. Section 256)


    Catholics don’t even need to perform acts supportive of things that are intrinsically evil “until we can get a favorable court judgement.” The Church and all health care related arms in the US simply need to say “No” to the feds, and mail 1) a copy of the First Amendment and 2) the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially paragraphs 2270-2279 on abortion & euthanasia.

  • The Bishops are not serious about fighting evil. The USCCB strongly criticized the critics of CCHD which is know to finance, aid and abet pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-Marxist organizations. Here’s the link to the news article where the USCCB comes out against reforming CCHD (yeah, they made one token reform this week – big deal!).


    And here’s a report from Catholics United for the Faith that exposes CCHD for the godless enterprise of sin and depravity that it is:


    Now we’re supposed to believe the Bishops are serious about standing up for the Faith? Well a small minority is, but the rest need to heed Ezekiel 34:1-10 because judgment day is coming.

    I won’t give another penny to anything Roman Catholic until this mess is cleared up and cleaned up – not when three out of four Roman Catholic clerics vote Democrat:


Andy Rooney: Requiescat in Pace

Saturday, November 5, AD 2011

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.

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4 Responses to Andy Rooney: Requiescat in Pace

  • May he rest in peace.

    Sadly, I never watch that show.

    From Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”, Journalists: “We have served our day.”

  • As a long-time practicing curmudgeon, I joined in mourning Rooney’s passing. Oddly, I found he grew less irascible over time, occasionally caving in to political correctness. He was the only reason 60 Minutes was worth watching. The rest consists mainly of puff, filler or superficial reportage.

  • Truth to tell Joe I haven’t watched 60 minutes for about a decade. Rooney did admit a few years ago that there was a strong liberal tilt at CBS which is sort of like admitting that the Pope is Catholic, but something most journalists ritualistically deny. He got into hot water over this telling truth out of season and he wrote this in a column:
    “As a guest on the Larry King show a few weeks ago, I said some things in answer to his questions, that I would have been better off lying about or avoiding. It was not that the people who objected to what I said necessarily thought I was wrong. They thought I shouldn’t have said it. In my own defense, I told a boss of mine that I thought if all the truth were known by everyone, it would be a better world. He scoffed. I think ‘scoff’ is what he did. I know he rejected the idea.”

  • Specifically, Don, as I recall, he said some unsavory things about homosexuality, which, of course, is immediately fodder for the MSM. I can think of few commentators left in broadcast America, excepting perhaps Michael Savage, who can ruffle the feathers of the established Left. Savage is persona non grata in Britain.


Saturday, November 5, AD 2011

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,
 gen’rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful

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

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