24

Florida: Newt’s Paradise Lost

Coming out of his strong victory in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich had a golden opportunity in the Sunshine State to deal a deathblow to the Romney campaign.  Defeat Romney a/k/a the Weathervane in a large state like Florida, and the main rationale of the Romney campaign, electability, would be shattered.  If Gingrich had won the state he would  haven been the clear frontrunner and Romney would have been wondering whether he would be too old to try again in 2016.  Instead, Romney has won, and appears to have won strongly.  What happened? Continue Reading

17

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Breaks Partnership with Planned Parenthood

In a piece of very good news, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has announced that they are breaking the partnership they have maintained for some years with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is miffed, calling the decision “deeply disturbing and disappointing.” From The Hill (linked above):

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has broken off a partnership through which it provided cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Planned Parenthood blamed the political controversy over abortion.

“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Planned Parenthood said its clinics provided about 4 million screenings for breast cancer over the past five years, roughly 170,000 of which were supported by Komen grants.

Planned Parenthood said it has established an emergency fund to offset the loss of the Komen funds.

Komen told the AP that it ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood because of a congressional investigation into the organization. Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee have requested detailed financial records from Planned Parenthood.

This seems like an utterly obvious thing for Komen to do, and frankly it’s surprising it’s taken so long. Continue Reading

44

Howard Zinn, Neo-Confederate

While I disagree with him on a host of political issues, I follow Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog at The Atlantic closely because of his consistently well written and fascinating posts on history and literature. Many of these are on the Civil War, which has in recent years become a topic of great interest to him.

There was a particularly interesting pair of these a couple weeks ago in which Coates and his commenters discussed (in the context of Ron Paul’s repeated statements that the Civil War was unnecessary) the fact that left wing icon Howard Zinn actually peddles the several of the neo-confederate tropes: that the Civil War was fought for Northern economic domination and had little to do with slavery, and that a the Civil War clearly wasn’t necessary in order to end slavery anyway. [First post on Ron Paul, Howard Zinn and the Civil War. Second, followup post.] The specific Howard Zinn text that they go after (because it’s conveniently online) is a lecture he gave called Three Holy Wars, in which he tries to make a case for why people should not see the Revolutionary War, American Civil War or American involvement in World War II as moral or just — something he argues is important because seeing any past wars as just allows people to justify other wars on analogy.

Zinn proceeds to run through most of the standard complaints against the “War of Northern Aggression”:
It was really, really bad:

Slavery. Slavery, nothing worse. Slavery. And at the end of the Civil War, there’s no slavery. You can’t deny that. So, yeah, you have to put that on one side of the ledger, the end of slavery. On the other side, you have to put the human cost of the Civil War in lives: 600,000. I don’t know how many people know or learn or remember how many lives were lost in the Civil War, which was the bloodiest, most brutal, ugliest war in our history, from the point of view of dead and wounded and mutilated and blinded and crippled. Six hundred thousand dead in a country of 830 million. Think about that in relation today’s population; it’s as if we fought a civil war today, and five or six million people died in this civil war. Well, you might say, well, maybe that’s worth it, to end slavery. Maybe. Well, OK, I won’t argue that. Maybe. But at least you know what the cost is.

The Civil War didn’t meaningfully free them anyway: Continue Reading

2

Upholding the sacred trust: Boards at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges…

When the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) met recently in Washington, DC, one of the “hot topics” addressed was the need for training board members to oversee their institutions’ Catholic identity.

 

 

According to an article published in Inside Higher Education, the Bishop of Harrisburg (PA) and the Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education, the Most Reverend Joseph P. McFadden, told the audience: “It’s time for the laity to step up to ensure that the Catholic faith continues into the third millennium.”  Bishop McFadden argued that trustees of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges must value the unique mission of Catholic higher education and should, when possible, be Catholics and well-educated about the workings of Catholic higher education.

 

Most Reverend Joseph McFadden
Diocese of Harrisburg (PA)

 

While The Motley Monk concurs with Bishop McFadden that trustees need to supervise their institutions’ Catholic identity more forcibly, the simple truth is that many administrators at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges are failing in their responsibilities in this regard.

 

For example, the Scranton Time Tribune reported that the same week Bishop McFadden was addressing the ACCU, the Bishop of Scranton (PA), Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, was expressing his disapproval with the University of Scranton for inviting former U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies to be the keynote speaker at the January 28, 2012, “Ready to Run” program for women interested in politics.

 

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Diocese of Scranton (PA)

 
As a congresswoman, Ms. Margolies co-sponsored the Abortion Clinic Access Bill, which sought to make it a federal crime to impede access to abortion clinics.  She also voted in support of an Abortion Counseling Bill, which would have required federal recipients of funds for family planning to provide patients with information about obtaining an abortion.  Margoilies also opposed the “Hyde Amendment,” which prohibited federal funding of abortions.

Bishop Bambera asked that the University’s administrators withdraw the invitation to Ms. Margolies.

Responding to criticism from the Diocese and questions from other Catholic higher education watchdogs, the President of the University of Scranton, Reverend Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., released a statement on the University’s website:

Speakers for this University event are experts chosen to provide women with information about the challenges of politics; they are not chosen to engage in a discussion of abortion.  By inviting these speakers to campus, the University is not endorsing their personal views.

 

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Scranton called this stance “unsettling”:

The University’s unwillingness to work with Bishop Bambera in an effort to reach an acceptable resolution to this unfortunate situation is an unsettling turn in the relationship that the Bishop has been pleased to maintain with University officials during his tenure as bishop of Scranton.

 

The spokesperson added that the institution values its relationship with the Diocese and Bishop and is “saddened that any action on our part might in some way compromise this relationship.”

Bishop Bambera remained adamant:

Despite the university’s lack of endorsement of the personal views of the keynote speaker, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, the inclusion of Ms. Margolies in a University-sponsored program has created concern and confusion among members of the Christian faithful.  Thereby, in this instance, the university’s charge as a Catholic institution of higher learning to permeate “all university activities” with “Catholic teaching and discipline” has been compromised.

 

Insofar as The Motley Monk is concerned, trustees do need to be trained, as Bishop McFadden pointed out at the ACCU meeting.  But, The Motley Monk would add that training must also include how to hire administrators who will uphold their institutions’ Catholic identity, how to assess administrators in this regard, and how to dismiss administrators who trustees discover wrongly believe that secularizing Catholic higher education provides the sure route to solidify an institution’s Catholic identity.

 

To read the Inside Higher Education article, click on the following link:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/30/catholic-colleges-consider-role-trustees#ixzz1kx2COioR

To read the Scranton Times Tribune article, click on the following link:
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/bishop-expresses-disappointment-in-university-s-invitation-to-speaker-1.1257550#axzz1kx87AcsV

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

5

Occupy Bigots

 

 

It seems as if segments of the Occupy Wall Street Movement hate both the Catholic Church and the pro-life movement:

Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement threw condoms on Catholic schoolgirls, refused to allow a Catholic priest to give a closing prayer, and shouted down a pro-life speaker at a Rhode Island right to life rally on Thursday, according to its organizer. The event marked the third time protesters associated with the movement have disrupted a pro-life meeting in a week.

About two-dozen members of Occupy Providence hiked from Burnside Park to the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally organized by the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee on Thursday.

The pro-life organization’s executive director, Barth E. Bracy, told LifeSiteNews.com that, near the end of the rally, the Occupiers “strategically fanned out with military precision.”

That’s when they “started showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school.” Continue Reading

17

Bishop Jenky, Saint Michael and the Obama Administration

My Bishop, Daniel Jenky, in reaction to the Obama administration’s attempt to restrict Catholic religious freedom through its contraceptive regulations, has called for the addition of the Saint Michael Prayer in the intercessory petitions at Mass.  The intention of the prayer is for Catholic freedom in America.

 

January 24, 2012

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In this history of the United States, Friday, January 20, 2012 will certainly stand out as a moment of enormous peril for religious liberty. On that day, the Obama administration announced regulations that would require Catholic institutions to offer insurance programs providing abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptive services. If these regulations are put into effect, the could close down every Catholic school, hospital, and the other public ministries of our Church, which is perhaps their underlying intention. What is perfectly clear is that this is a bigoted and blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of every Catholic believer. Under no circumstances, however, will our Church ever abandon our unshakable commitment to the Gospel of Life.

I therefore call upon all the faithful of the Diocese to vigorously oppose this unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our Faith. Under the Constitution, no president has the authority to require our cooperation with what we consider to be intrinsic evil and mortal sin. We must therefore oppose by every means at our disposal this gross infringement on the rights of Catholic citizens to freely practice our religion. This country once fought a revolution to guarantee freedom, but the time has clearly arrived to strongly reassert our fundamental human rights. I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance. I hope and pray that all people of good will would support the faith based resistance of us their Catholic neighbors.

While it is primarily the laity who should take the leading role in political and legal action, as your Bishop, it is my clear responsibility to summon our local church into spiritual and temporal combat in defense of Catholic Christianity. Have faith! Have courage! Fight boldly for what you believe! I strongly urge you not to be intimidated by extremist politicians or the malice of the cultural secularists arrayed against us. Always remember that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (I John 4:4).

Until these grave issues are favorably resolved, I ask that every parish, school, hospital, Newman Center, and religious house in this Diocese insert the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the Sunday General Intercessions just before their concluding prayer. It is God’s invincible Archangel who commands the heavenly hosts, and it is the enemies of god who will ultimately be defeated. This prayer should be announced as: A Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America.

May God guide and protect his Holy Church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC Bishop of Peoria Continue Reading

21

The Culture War

I know that there are those among you who do not like harsh rhetoric.  Heck, one of my most recent posts was about the militaristic rhetoric of the president.  Yet, sometimes we need to take a look around at what’s happening and realize that something like a culture war is truly raging.

There was no clearer demonstration of this fact than the HHS mandate regarding health insurance coverage of abortificants, contraception, sterilization, and other grave evils.  The impact of this ruling has been stunning.  Not only has the decision outraged conservative Catholics, but even erstwhile left-wing Catholic defenders of the president have taken this decision to be the last straw.  Bishops, often reticent to enter the political fray, have issued clear condemnations of this decision, even suggesting that Catholics engage in civil disobedience.  The mild-mannered visiting priest at our parish offered a blistering homily, discussing how this mandate violates the very principles that this country was founded upon. Like the ents awakening from their slumber, Saruman and his orcs – meaning President Obama and his allies – have awakened a sleeping giant.

But our anger is not enough, nor are our prayers.  Patrick Archbold puts it all in perspective today.

As I said, this is just the latest battle, but it’s one we must win.  We can’t win the war here, but we can lose it.  And to win a war you don’t just need chaplains, you need generals.

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to force contraceptives on Catholic institutions many Bishops have been calling for prayer and fasting, and that is right and just.  But when faced with an existential threat, you don’t just pray the Nazis away, you have to fight on all fronts.

It is fine to pray that the Nazis will stop being Nazis, but it is also right and just to pray for good aim.

Our Bishops need to realize what is at stake here and act accordingly.  Many Bishops have already written letters and made videos condemning the unconstitutional actions of the administration.  That is good, but more is required.  Open and vocal defiance is required. The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin issued a letter this Sunday in which he proclaimed “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” That is a good start.  Every Bishop needs to do the same. It must be made clear that we WILL NOT COMPLY.

Yet even more will be required. Some have called for very visible civil disobedience by the Bishops to the point of getting arrested.  I think this may be a good idea. Yet even more.  Kathleen Sebelius is at the spear point of this war on our Church promoting and now forcing abortion and contraception at every turn.  If the scandal caused by this “Catholic” woman does not merit excommunication, the remedy is meaningless.  Any Catholic who is complicit in this war must be held to account, publicly.  This is a war.

We will not comply.  We should never have to choose between being a Catholic and being an American.  This is an existential threat for the Church in this country as well as for the life of the country as a whole.  If we are to win the war, we must win this battle and we need generals willing to fight to the last.

If you are not convinced that we are in the midst of an all out assault on religious values, here’s another story to consider. Continue Reading

9

Chris Christie Appoints Gay Marriage Supporter to the Bench

The great conservative hope, at least according to the likes of Ann Coulter, recently appointed a gentleman named Bruce Harris to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Harris is openly gay –  a point that Christie made sure to highlight when he introduced Harris as his nominee.  Unsurprisingly Harris is a supporter of gay marriage, and has been very vocal on this issue.   Blogger Paul Mulshine reprints an email that Harris sent to Republican legislators in the state:

As a Republican elected official and someone who has worked hard (and successfully) to get Republicans elected in Chatham Borough, it disturbs me that same-sex marriage has become a Republican versus Democrat issue (understanding there are some Democrats who do not support same-sex marriage). I was encouraged to see former Governor Christine Whitman’s op-ed piece in the Sunday, November 29, 2009 Star-Ledger supporting same-sex marriage, I hope you read her article and will seriously consider her suggestion.

You have met me and my partner of nearly 30 years, Marc, on more than one occasion at various political gatherings. The New Jersey Supreme court has determined that our relationship is entitled to the equal protection guarantees of the State Constitution. The New jersey Civil Union Review Commission determined that civil unions do not provide the equality the State Constitution mandates.(Please take a few moments and visit www.gardenstateequality.org. which has two short videos that provide sad examples of the failures of the civil union law.)

When I hear someone say that they believe marriage is only between a man and a woman because that’s the way it’s always been, I think of the many “traditions” that deprived people of their civil rights for centuries: prohibitions on interracial marriage, slavery, (which is even provided for in the Bible), segregation, the subservience of women, to name just a few of these “traditions.”

I hope that you consider my request that you re-evaluate your position and, if after viewing the videos, reading Governor Whitman’s letter and thinking again about this issue of civil rights you still oppose same-sex marriage on grounds other than religion I would appreciate it if you you’d explain your position to me. And, if the basis of your opposition is religious, then I suggest that you do what the US Constitution mandates – and that is to maintain a separation between the state and religion.

Surely Chris Christie knew of this.

That led me to ask the obvious question at a press conference Wednesday: Did Christie know how Harris stood on Lewis v. Harris?

Christie said of Harris and his other nominee, Phillip Kwon of Bergen County, “I did not ask them about specific cases.” He pointed to two other cases of concern to conservatives, the Abbott school-funding decisions and the Mount Laurel decisions on affordable housing, and said “to the extent that they’ve taken positions on those issues, they’re going to have to let us know that.”

The governor sure did his due diligence in this important duty, didn’t he?

Of course this brings out the band of merry GOP apologists, such as this commenter at NRO.

Good grief, throwing Christie under the bus ALREADY? He’s not even to the Greyhound station yet.

Is there anyone who in your view IS pure enough to be a Republican president? Talk about making perfection the enemy of the good ….

So now it a sign that you’re some fire-breathing purist to expect a Chief Executive to actually do his research before making critical appointments.  Supreme Court appointments – be they federal or state – have long-lasting impact well beyond the life of a governor.  Judicial appointments are among the three or four most important job functions of any president or governor.  Even if Harris recuses himself from any matters pertaining to gay marriage, it is clear from this email that he is not what you’d call a sparkling originalist.  As such, Chris Christie has failed in this vital aspect.

Unfortunately we have so lowered the bar of expectations that some will just overlook this minor inconvenience.  After all, Governor Soundbite has so many cool Youtube clips of him berating his constituents, and as this entire election season has proven, bluster is a lot more impressive than actual accomplishments.

2

Matthew’s Day Off, Extended Version (After 30 Years, New Ferris Bueller Commercial)

As one of our commenters found out, it’s a commercial for the ‘oh so choice’ 2012 Honda CR-V.  Here is what Honda has to say:

Celebrate the launch of the all-new 2012 CR-V, Honda brought Ferris Bueller’s Day Off back in a big game commercial. We cast Matthew Broderick as himself, skipping out on a day of acting work and living it up in his all-new CR-V. Relive movie history with Honda’s fresh twist and wonderful homage to this ’80s classic.

Think you’re a true fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? We hid over two dozen references to the movie throughout the commercial. Some are obvious, some are very subtle. See how many you can find. #dayoff

 

6

Theodore Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech

Two Presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Barack Obama in 2009, for no reason I can discern other than a slap at his predecessor George Bush by the left-leaning award committee, and Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for being the driving force behind the negotiations that led to the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.   Due to his duties as President, Roosevelt was unable to give his acceptance speech until May 5, 1910.  It is an interesting address.   Peace, he stated, was not the highest good unless it was wedded to righteousness.  Peace is evil if it is merely a mask for sloth and cowardice.  Tyrants have often prattled about peace in order to silence opposition to their schemes.  Individuals, and nations, must ever be ready to defend themselves.  He then offered some practical suggestions for a more peaceful world.  Arbitration of disputes between nations.  The establishment of a tribunal at the Hague.  A League of Peace by the great powers to attempt to keep the peace of the world.  The irony of course is that it was the European Great Powers that would lead the world into War just four years after Roosevelt’s speech, but of course the future was for him an unknown country, just as our future is to us.  The text of the speech of Theodore Roosevelt: Continue Reading

9

A “Call Out” and “Two Thumbs Up” to Professor Patrick Deneen

What’s a tenured associate professor of government teaching at a Catholic university to do when he believes the institution isn’t really Catholic?

It’s pretty easy to say “Give up your tenure and go where you will find what you are looking for.”  Sometimes, witness to one’s faith entails suffering.

Agreed.  But, making that decision isn’t so simple when other considerations—like those of family, financial obligations (a mortgage, for example), and the like—must also be factored into the equation.

The situation presents an authentic ethical dilemma, one that confronted a former Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Patrick Deneen.

In a letter published at Front Porch Republic, Deneen said with regard to Georgetown University:

…Georgetown increasingly and inevitably remakes itself in the image of its secular peers, ones that have no internal standard of what a university is for other than the aspiration of prestige for the sake of prestige, its ranking rather than its commitment to Truth. Its Catholic identity, which should inform every activity of the community, from curriculum to dorm life to faculty hiring, has increasingly been cordoned off to optional activities of Campus Ministry.

Describing his experience, Deneen wrote:

In the seven years since I joined the faculty at Georgetown, I have found myself often at odds with the trajectory and many decisions of the university.  In 2006 I founded The Tocqueville Forum as a campus organization that would offer a different perspective, one centered on the moral underpinnings of liberal learning that are a precondition for the continued existence of liberal democracy, and one that would draw upon the deep wisdom contained in the Catholic humanistic tradition.  I have been heartened and overjoyed to witness the great enthusiasm among a myriad of students for the programming and activities of the Forum.  However, the program was not supported or recognized by the institution, and that seemed unlikely to change.  While I did not seek that approval, I had hoped over the years that the program would be attractive to colleagues across disciplines on the faculty, and would be a rallying-point for those interested in reviving and defending classical liberal learning on campus.  The Tocqueville Forum fostered a strong community of inquiry among a sizeable number of students, but I did not find that there was any such community formed around its mission, nor the likely prospect of one, among the more permanent members of the university. I have felt isolated and often lonely at the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.

So, where is Professor Deneen headed?

The University of Notre Dame (UND).

However, Deneen appears not to be headed to South Bend blinded by all of the UND hype.  He wrote:

I don’t doubt that there will be many battles at Our Lady’s University.  But, there are at least some comrades-in-arms to share in the effort.

UND hired Deneen, he wrote, because they regard him as “someone who can be a significant contributor to its mission and identity, particularly the Catholic identity of the institution.”

Although considerations like these are not typically a criterion for hiring at Georgetown as Deneen noted, The Motley Monk would humbly suggest that even in those institutions where they are, there’s quite a distance between espousing those ideals and translating them to pedagogical lessons in every classroom, dorm, and student activity.

For Professor Deneen’s willingness to witness to the importance of an institution’s Catholic identity in name and in fact, The Motley Monk offers a “call out” and “both thumb up.”

To read Professor Deneen’s letter, click on the following link:
http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2012/01/why-i-am-leaving-georgetown/

To follow The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

9

Isabella Santorum Hospitalized

The AP reports.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum canceled his Sunday morning campaign events and planned to spend time with his hospitalized daughter.

“Rick and his wife Karen are admitting their daughter Bella to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this evening,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement Saturday night, adding “Rick intends to return to Florida and resume the campaign schedule as soon as is possible.”

Santorum had been scheduled to appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and attend church in Miami. Officials did not cancel Sunday’s afternoon events in Sarasota and Punta Gorda.

Please keep the Santorum family in your prayers.

4

Bias? What Bias?

 

The bias of most of the main stream media is well known, but a current example by CBS is beyond parody:

Over the years, pro-life activists have come to accept that the media isn’t interested in their annual March for Life in Washington D.C. protesting abortion, even though it routinely attracts hundreds of thousands of people. But this year’s photo slideshow hosted on a local Washington CBS website has activists scratching their heads in disbelief.
 Currently the March for Life slideshow of seven photos features protesters who actually support abortion; none of the photos actually feature pro-life marchers. Continue Reading

14

George Will on Obama’s Militaristic Rhetoric

George Will has a superb column on Obama’s rhetoric in the State of the Union Address:

Obama, an unfettered executive wielding a swollen state, began and ended his address by celebrating the armed forces. They are not “consumed with personal ambition,” they “work together” and “focus on the mission at hand” and do not “obsess over their differences.” Americans should emulate troops “marching into battle,” who “rise or fall as one unit.”

Well. The armed services’ ethos, although noble, is not a template for civilian society, unless the aspiration is to extinguish politics. People marching in serried ranks, fused into a solid mass by the heat of martial ardor, proceeding in lock step, shoulder to shoulder, obedient to orders from a commanding officer — this is a recurring dream of progressives eager to dispense with tiresome persuasion and untidy dissension in a free, tumultuous society.

Progressive presidents use martial language as a way of encouraging Americans to confuse civilian politics with military exertions, thereby circumventing an impediment to progressive aspirations — the Constitution and the patience it demands. As a young professor, Woodrow Wilson had lamented that America’s political parties “are like armies without officers.” The most theoretically inclined of progressive politicians, Wilson was the first president to criticize America’s founding. This he did thoroughly, rejecting the Madisonian system of checks and balances — the separation of powers, a crucial component of limited government — because it makes a government that cannot be wielded efficiently by a strong executive.

Wilson is of particular importance here.  Wilson’s dissatisfaction with the Constitution stemmed from the many limitations said document placed on the government.  Not only did the Framers grant few specified powers to Congress, they instituted various mechanisms that made it even more difficult for government to enact the reforms that Progressives like Wilson so desired.  Wilson wanted to convert the United States government into a parliamentary system.  Under this kind of design, instead of a legislature-dominated government complicated by checks and balances, we would have an executive-led government with few checks on the Prime Minister’s power.

Wilson was unable to transform the government to his liking.  The Constitution still divides power in so many ways that it would be theoretically be difficult for the Progressive reformers to get all that they wanted.  So instead of working within the system, the left has basically just ignored that pesky ancient document.

Franklin Roosevelt agreed. He complained about “the three-horse team of the American system”: “If one horse lies down in the traces or plunges off in another direction, the field will not be plowed.” And progressive plowing takes precedence over constitutional equipoise among the three branches of government. Hence FDR’s attempt to break the Supreme Court to his will by enlarging it.

In his first inaugural address, FDR demanded “broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.” He said Americans must “move as a trained and loyal army” with “a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.” The next day, addressing the American Legion, Roosevelt said it was “a mistake to assume that the virtues of war differ essentially from the virtues of peace.” In such a time, dissent is disloyalty.

Yearnings for a command society were common and respectable then. Commonweal, a magazine for liberal Catholics, said that Roosevelt should have “the powers of a virtual dictatorship to reorganize the government.” Walter Lippmann, then America’s preeminent columnist, said: “A mild species of dictatorship will help us over the roughest spots in the road ahead.” The New York Daily News, then the nation’s largest-circulation newspaper, cheerfully editorialized: “A lot of us have been asking for a dictator. Now we have one. .?.?. It is Roosevelt. .?.?. Dictatorship in crises was ancient Rome’s best era.” The New York Herald Tribune titled an editorial “For Dictatorship if Necessary.”

Commonweal. Some things never change.

And so now we’ve arrived at Obama’s America, and the left’s impatience with the Constitution manifests itself again.

Obama, aspiring to command civilian life, has said that in reforming health care, he would have preferred an “elegant, academically approved” plan without “legislative fingerprints on it” but “unfortunately” he had to conduct “negotiations with a lot of different people.” His campaign mantra “We can’t wait!” expresses progressivism’s impatience with our constitutional system of concurrent majorities. To enact and execute federal laws under Madison’s institutional architecture requires three, and sometimes more, such majorities. There must be majorities in the House and Senate, each body having distinctive constituencies and electoral rhythms. The law must be affirmed by the president, who has a distinctive electoral base and election schedule. Supermajorities in both houses of Congress are required to override presidential vetoes. And a Supreme Court majority is required to sustain laws against constitutional challenges.

“We can’t wait!” exclaims Obama, who makes recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, multiplies “czars” to further nullify the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to advise and consent, and creates agencies (e.g., Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board and Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) untethered from legislative accountability.

Like other progressive presidents fond of military metaphors, he rejects the patience of politics required by the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

Feast Day of the Dumb Ox

You call him Dumb Ox?  This Dumb Ox will fill all the world with his bellowing.

                    Saint Albert the Great, responding to jibes from some of the other students he was instructing aimed at a young Thomas Aquinas.

Today, January 28th, is the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who was granted three gifts from God:  the life long innocence of a child;  the soul of a mystic; and one of the mightiest intellects ever possessed by mortal man.  The ladies of History for Music Lovers kick off our celebration of the Angelic Doctor with their own unique tribute.

 

Here is Pope Benedict on Saint Thomas: Continue Reading

5

The Cavalier’s Glee

Something for the weekend.  The Cavalier’s Glee, a song which captures well the daring spirit of the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Jeb Stuart. The song was written by Captain William W. Blackford, an engineer on the staff of General Stuart.  It is sung by Bobby Horton, a man who every American is indebted to for his constant efforts to bring Civil War songs to modern audiences.

16

The Only Conservative Left

The 2012 presidential election cycle is truly one of the most depressing things to behold.  Neither of the top two candidates in the Republican field are particularly appealing, and the incumbent President has made Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Meanwhile, for all the bluster about the Establishment choosing our candidates (a charge not wholly without merit), conservatives have done themselves no favors by engaging in ridiculous character assassinations of any candidate who is not one hundred pure and good – meaning all the candidates.  Meanwhile, superficial bluster about being a conservative is taken more seriously than actual conservative governing records in big states.

To top it all off, the only conservative left in the race is barely gaining any traction, even when dismantling his opponent in exchanges such as this.

That was far from the only highlight for Santorum.  While Newt and Mitt were busy tearing each other apart for every perceived slight, Rick brought some common sense into the debate.

I don’t think Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have helped themselves with their terse exchanges on illegal immigration and Fannie & Freddie.

Apparently, Rick Santorum didn’t think so either. He said there was nothing wrong with Newt using his knowledge of Congress to help advise companies and then said there was nothing wrong with Romney making money. Santorum then implored Mitt and Newt, “Leave that alone and focus on the issues,” to strong applause.

Ah, but Senator Santorum is unelectable, according to the all the wise pundits.  There’s no way he could possibly be more electable than the guy who was once portrayed as the “Gingrich who stole Chrismas,” and who has a 2:1 unfavorable to favorable gap in the polls.  And he’s certainly not as electable as the guy who is so darn appealing that Republicans are climbing over themselves to pick anyone else but him to be the nominee, and who has an electoral record that makes the Detroit Lions look like a juggernaut.  Santorum lost his last election by 18 points, and as we all know someone that unpopular can’t ever recover.  No, we need to nominate the guy who left office with a 34% favorability rating, and who didn’t lose his bid at re-election because he didn’t even bother, knowing he was going to get destroyed.  Failing that, we can nominate the guy whose own caucus ran him out of Washington, DC.

But Santorum is unelectable.

We also know Santorum is also unelectable because he holds social views outside of the mainstream.  For instance, Santorum has this notion that marriage is an institution for one man and one woman.  This is such an insane notion that it is only shared by a majority of the American population and the current occupant of the White House.  You see, the problem with Santorum is that, unlike President Obama, he really means it.  As was discussed a couple of weeks ago at Creative Minority Report, Santorum is actually sincere in his beliefs.  So while he might hold policy positions that are identical with the rest of the field, he is the one being mocked because, well, he actually believes what he is saying.

One of the things that occurred to me recently that only augmented my political depression is that Gingrich does hold one electoral advantage over Santorum.  The fact that Gingrich is a twice-divorced man with a checkered past while Santorum is a faithfully married man and father of seven means that independents won’t fear Gingrich as much on social issues.  That’s right – actually being a man of unquestioned personal morality is an electoral disadvantage, because that just makes you seem all the more scaaaaaary.  Thank goodness our elections are decided by the sorts of people who think it’s just creepy that other people think that all life is precious, even lives conceived during rape.

So excuse me if I sit this dance out.

Update:  Great piece by Daniel Allott that discusses “Santorum Derangement Syndrome” and the problems that sincere politicians face.  H/t: Dale Price.

4

A Baby by any Other Name

Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report for the video gently lampooning the twisted language employed by pro-aborts to attempt to deny the humanity of the unborn.

George Orwell, who literally wrote the book on how totalitarian regimes use language to serve evil ends, would have loved the video.  Although an agnostic and an opponent of the Catholic Church, Orwell was also not only an enemy of the dishonest use of euphemisms, but also an ardent foe of abortion.  This section of his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) indicates how deeply he hated abortion: Continue Reading

14

Jesus Sided With The Outcasts, Which Means People I Like

If there is one thing that virtually anyone can tell you about Jesus, it’s that he sided with the outcasts and the oppressed. He was on the outs with the Pharisees and he hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes and Samaritans.

Simplistically applied, many people tend to take this to mean that Jesus would clearly have approved of any cause which is scorned by the wider society. Of course, we all want to imagine that Jesus is on our side, and people often feel criticism keenly, so the end result often seems to be that people consider whatever causes they consider to be important to be those which are scorned by society, and thus which Jesus would approve of.

Thus, for instance, I recall my youth group leaders back in high school explaining to us that “if Jesus were alive today” (a phrase which bugged me nearly as much as our catechist’s tendency to declare that various things would cause Jesus to “spin in his grave” if only he knew about them) he would be marching in the Gay Pride parades and in favor of environmental causes. Why? Well, he was on the side of outcasts, and those movements are the outcasts. Ask someone else, and you’d get the precise opposite: mainstream society accepts gay rights and green causes, but pro-lifers and those who support traditional marriage are “the outcasts”.
Continue Reading

44

The War That Gets No Respect

When it comes to the War of 1812, the ignorance depicted in the above video is no exaggeration.  Of all our major conflicts, our Second War For Independence is the most obscure to the general public.  In this bicentennial year of the beginning of the War, I will do my small bit on the blog Almost Chosen People , the American history blog that Paul Zummo and I run, to help correct this situation.   The War of 1812 was an important struggle in American history for a number of reasons, a few of which are:

1.      Until the War of 1812 the British tended to treat the United States as if it were a wayward colony that would ultimately become part of the British Empire again.  After the War the British understood that we were an independent power and a permanent factor in their calculations.

2.     The War established the United States Navy as an aggressive and resourceful combat force, unafraid to pit daring and skill against the massively more powerful Royal Navy.

3.     The War ended American dreams of conquering Canada.

4.     As a result of the War, the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi could no longer provide serious resistance to American expansion into the Northwest and the Southwest.

5.     The Star-Spangled Banner symbolized the new surge of nationalism that the country experienced as a result of the War. Continue Reading

40

The Oft-Repeated Lie About Warren Buffet’s Secretary’s Tax Rate

For last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama invited Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to sit in the First Lady’s box during the speech and specifically promised in that speech to support tax changes in order to mend the injustice Buffet claims occurs allowing him to pay the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including his secretary. This line of attack is doubtless partly designed to pave the way millionaire Barrack Obama to make populist attacks on multi-millionaire Mitt Romney during the upcoming presidential campaign. Romney is, after all, very, very rich, and his income comes primarily from investments.

David Leonhardt at the NY Times asks both right-leaning economist Greg Mankiw and the left leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to comment on this alleged tax injustice. Mankiw makes a fairly reasonable case that the reason capital gains are lower is that investment income is based on corporate profits and corporate profits have already been taxed. Companies would have more profits to pass on to investors (either as dividends or in the form of being worth more) if they didn’t pay corporate taxes, and so the tax on investment income is set lower to avoid this “double taxation”. Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities must know the facts aren’t on his side, because instead of answering the question he provides a canned response about income inequality and how tax rates are lower than in the ’70s. The column is worth a read.

However, there’s another issue here which I think is worth pointing out. Progressives writing on this issue usually act as if billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet are all paying right around 15% (the capital gains rate) in taxes — Buffet claims that he pays 17.4% — and that “middle class Americans” are paying the top marginal income tax rate of 35%. Continue Reading

4

Gingrich 48-Obama 50: Remember Grant

 

The most recent poll by Gallup matching Newt Gingrich against Obama has Obama up by a whopping two points:  48-50.   This, after a week when Gingrich has had a concerted attack by ABC to take him out as a candidate after the Marianne Gingrich non-revelation that Newt cheated on her, as she had cheated with Newt while he was married to his first wife.  Gingrich has gained 4 points in the trial heat.

Of course polls of the general election at this point in a presidential election year don’t mean spit, as President Carter could attest, as he led Ronald Reagan, often by vast margins, in the trial heat polls almost all of the year in 1980.  I bring up this poll now to counter-act some of the “woe is us” commentary too often seen in GOP circles currently.  Obama has presided over a disastrous first term, and will likely go down to defeat in the fall.  All the signs are there.  To listen to some of the Republican caterwauling at the present time, one would think that Obama was a shoo-in for a second term.  He isn’t and I am getting tired of the doom and pessimism brought on by a perfectly normal contested presidential nomination race.  This reminds me of an event in the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864: Continue Reading

30

Confessions of a Reluctant Romney Supporter

I haven’t written much of anything about the GOP primary contest, despite the fact I have been following it closely, in part because I found myself so incredibly dissatisfied with all the candidates. However, as the field narrows and appears to be actually competitive, and various people I respect line up behind candidates, it seemed like it was time to come out of the closet as something I’m not very enthusiastic about being: a Romney supporter.

This is not because I’m particularly fond of Romney. I don’t trust him a great deal, I’m not clear how solid any of his principles are other than his conviction that he should be president, and I don’t find him particularly inspiring. As various candidates have had their five minutes of popularity for the achievement of not being Romney, I kept hoping that one of them would manage to pull ahead and show some stature. I was particularly hopeful about Rick Perry, but he just didn’t seem able to run a campaign.

So why support Romney?

I’ll start with the positive. While I’m not enthusiastic about Romney, I think that most of what the GOP needs in order to oust Obama this year is simply a credible alternative who doesn’t scare people too much. Given how bad the economy is and how unpopular some elements of his policy have been, “not Obama” can be a solidly popular candidate by that virtue alone. Continue Reading

61

Brother Dan Doesn’t Like the March for Life

Most Catholic pro-lifers know the truth, and lament it, that if all Catholics in this country fought against abortion, the days of legalized abortion in these United States could be measured in months.  Alas, that is not the case.  Half the Catholics in this country routinely give their votes to the political party that is pledged to keep abortion legal, and many of these same Catholics routinely work against the pro-life movement.  Curious how that segment of Catholics was observing the March for Life, I wandered over to the National Catholic Reporter and read a post, read it here, which gave paeans of praise to a post, go here to read it and the comments,  by a Franciscan Brother, Daniel P. Horan, at his website, Dating God, explaining why he does not support the March for Life.  It so perfectly embodies the mindset among Catholics that has enabled abortion to remain legal for the past four decades that I decided it was worthy of a fisk.

There are indeed numerous reasons to withhold support for the so-called “March for Life.” I wish here to highlight three of the reasons that I have serious reservations about the annual ‘pilgrimage’ to Washington, DC, that draws thousands of well-meaning people, the young and the old alike.

Ah, come on Brother Dan, the use of the term “so-called” as an adjective to modify something that one does not approve of is so cliché.  You can certainly do better than that!

 Ah, but before I go further, I feel as though I need to qualify that last sentence. While the generational divide is usually traversed by a diverse representation of different ages and from idealistic youth and young adults to the more narrowly focused and opinion-concretized geriatric crowd, there is very little racial and ethnic diversity represented.

People on the left are as obsessed as any Ku Kluxer with skin color.  Intellectual diversity however, never seems to be of much concern to them.

Anticipating the likely unhappy responses in what will appear in the comment section below, I suppose it is necessary to acknowledge that there are indeed African-American, Latino/a and Asian women and men who arrive for the events of the annual pilgrimage.

Yeah, Brother Dan lots of ’em, a fact that you would know if you bothered attending the March.

However, their numbers reflect that category into which they are so blindly corralled in this country – a minority. The sea of protesters (and that is what they are) is overwhelmingly white and that is not an insignificant dimension of the event.  

Once again the obsession with race.  The marchers Brother Dan want to save all the unborn, no matter what their skin color.

Among the various reasons one might chose to omit him or herself from participation, I wish to highlight three: (a) the event’s moniker is incomplete at best and disingenuous at worst, (b) the mode of protest has proven ineffective, and, following the second point, (c) the ‘march’ and its related events is a self-serving exercise in self-righteousness, self-congratulatory grandstanding and disinterest in the most pressing matters of human rights and dignity in our world today.  

If stopping the slaying of the most innocent and defenseless among is not the most pressing matter of human rights and dignity in the world today, I wonder what is?  I am sure Brother Dan will enlighten us!

 To begin, I have no problem with people of faith taking a public stance against abortion.

Big of you Brother Dan!

You will never find me supporting abortion legislation nor encouraging those with and for whom I minister as a Roman Catholic cleric to support abortion.

Just casting aspersions from the side lines against those fighting against this manifest evil. 

I believe it is a legitimate issue against which, as a Christian and Roman Catholic, I feel should be a thematic feature of social transformation.

“A thematic feature of social transformation”, whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.

 However, it is not, at all, the most important issue, nor is it the single issue upon which Catholics – or anyone – should focus in an exclusive manner. 

Why not?  Most great evils in this world have been removed due to a single-minded focus upon a particular evil for a time.  The crusade against slavery in this country comes immediately to mind. Continue Reading

8

The Abolitionist and the Liberator

 

 

Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist of 19th century America and Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator, who led the fight to gain the right to vote for Irish Catholics in 19th century Ireland, have always been two of my heroes.  Most Americans tend to be unaware of the connection between them.

Throughout his life Daniel O’Connell had been an opponent of slavery, and made his sentiments known at every opportunity, calling upon Irish-Americans to attack the “Peculiar Institution”.  He was frequently quoted by opponents of slavery in the United States.  While a boy and a slave, Douglass had heard one of his masters curse O’Connell for attacking slavery, and Douglass knew that he must love O’Connell if his master hated him so.  In 1846 Douglass went to Ireland for four months and went on a speaking tour.  O’ Connell was seventy-one and had just one more year to live.  Douglass was a mere twenty-eight.  However, a firm friendship quickly sprung up between them.  O’Connell, perhaps the finest orator of a nation known for oratory, heard the eloquent Douglass speak in Dublin and proclaimed him the “Black O’Connell”.

The wretched condition of most of the Irish moved and shocked Douglass as this passage he wrote in a letter to William Lloyd Garrison on March 27, 1846 reveals:

The spectacle that affected me most, and made the most vivid impression on my mind, of the extreme poverty and wretchedness of the poor of Dublin, was the frequency with which I met little children in the street at a late hour of the night, covered with filthy rags, and seated upon cold stone steps, or in corners, leaning against brick walls, fast asleep, with none to look upon them, none to care for them. If they have parents, they have become vicious, and have abandoned them. Poor creatures! they are left without help, to find their way through a frowning world—a world that seems to regard them as intruders, and to be punished as such. God help the poor! An infidel might ask, in view of these facts, with confusing effect—Where is your religion that takes care for the poor—for the widow and fatherless—where are its votaries—what are they doing? The answer to this would be, if properly given, wasting their energies in useless debate on hollow creeds and points of doctrine, which, when settled, neither make one hair white nor black. In conversation with some who were such rigid adherents to their faith that they would scarce be seen in company with those who differed from them in any point of their creed, I have heard them quote the text in palliation of their neglect, “The poor shall not cease out of the land”! During my stay in Dublin, I took occasion to visit the huts of the poor in its vicinity—and of all places to witness human misery, ignorance, degradation, filth and wretchedness, an Irish hut is pre-eminent. It seems to be constructed to promote the very reverse of every thing like domestic comfort. If I were to describe one, it would appear about as follows: Four mud walls about six feet high, occupying a space of ground about ten feet square, covered or thatched with straw—a mud chimney at one end, reaching about a foot above the roof—without apartments or divisions of any kind—without floor, without windows, and sometimes without a chimney—a piece of pine board laid on the top of a box or an old chest— a pile of straw covered with dirty garments, which it would puzzle any one to determine the original part of any one of them—a picture representing the crucifixion of Christ, pasted on the most conspicuous place on the wall—a few broken dishes stuck up in a corner—an iron pot, or the half of an iron pot, in one corner of the chimney—a little peat in the fireplace, aggravating one occasionally with a glimpse of fire, but sending out very little heat—a man and his wife and five children, and a pig. In front of the door-way, and within a step of it, is a hole three or four feet deep, and ten or twelve feet in circumference; into this hole all the filth and dirt of the hut are put, for careful preservation. This is frequently covered with a green scum, which at times stands in bubbles, as decomposition goes on. Here you have an Irish hut or cabin, such as millions of the people of Ireland live in. And some live in worse than these. Men and women, married and single, old and young, lie down together, in much the same degradation as the American slaves. I see much here to remind me of my former condition, and I confess I should be ashamed to lift up my voice against American slavery, but that I know the cause of humanity is one the world over. He who really and truly feels for the American slave, cannot steel his heart to the woes of others; and he who thinks himself an abolitionist, yet cannot enter into the wrongs of others, has yet to find a true foundation for his anti-slavery faith.

It is a tribute both to Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell that their compassion was not limited to people like them, but extended to victims of injustice far removed from them.

 

In his memoirs published in 1882, Douglass recalled O’Connell: Continue Reading

31

Reason Number One to Defeat Obama in November:

 

A statement yesterday from President Obama:

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.  I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.  While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.  And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

8

Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth

In a sensitive area such as this, involving as it does issues over which reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ, I cannot accept the Court’s exercise of its clear power of choice by interposing a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life and by investing mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to extinguish it.

                                  Justice Byron White-Dissent in Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973)

 

SAY not the struggle naught availeth,

The labour and the wounds are vain,

 The enemy faints not, nor faileth,

And as things have been they remain.

 If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;  

  It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,

Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,   

And, but for you, possess the field.

 For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,

   Seem here no painful inch to gain,

Far back, through creeks and inlets making,   

 Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,

When daylight comes, comes in the light;

In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!  

  But westward, look, the land is bright

Arthur Hugh Clough

9

Gingrich Assails Elites Over Anti-Religious Bigotry

The South Carolina victory speech of Newt Gingrich last night.  Most such primary victory speeches are fairly forgettable efforts and the Gingrich speech was largely no exception except at one point in the speech.  Go to 12: 30 on the video, and watch Gingrich lambaste many elites in our society for their anti-religious bigotry.  Gingrich has raised the issue of anti-Catholic bigotry in particular, and anti-Christian bigotry  in general, before in this campaign, go here to read his earlier comments, and he may have hit on the sleeper issue of the year in this campaign.  With the words of Pope Benedict, go here to read them, warning last week about the lessening of religious freedom in this country, this is a message whose time is now upon us. Continue Reading

10

South Carolina Surprise

It all seemed so simple for Mitt Romney, a/k/a the Weathervane, just a week ago.  He  had won New Hampshire by a wide margin and he was ahead by more than 10 points according to most polls in South Carolina.  He was poised to win the Palmetto State, and then on to Florida at the end of January.  After three victories in a row, the primaries would be effectively over and he could concentrate on the battle in the Fall.  Tonight Gingrich was declared the winner immediately after the close of the polls, crushing Romney, who had outspent Newt two to one, and who enjoyed the support of the South Carolina GOP establishment.  What happened?

It started to unravel last Monday in the first of the South Carolina debates, where Gingrich performed superbly, and Romney acted like a deer that had wandered into the debate, frozen by the television lights and unable to answer any questions coherently about the release of his taxes.

On Tuesday Sarah Palin announced that if she lived in South Carolina she would be voting for Gingrich, to keep the primary process going.  Her husband had endorsed Gingrich the week before.

All week Romney kept fumbling over the tax return issue, finally announcing that he would release his current tax return sometime in the Spring, and sheepishly mentioning that his effective tax rate was 15% due to most of his income being from investments.  His campaign continued to seem unable to respond to Gingrich attacks on Romney’s employment at Bain Capital.  Romney made a major faux pas when he stated that he had earned very little from speaking fees in 2010 and early 2011.  It turned out that the very little money was 374k, fortifying his image as an out of touch rich guy.  A very bad week for the Weathervane.

On Thursday Newt had an electric moment at the beginning of the second of the South Carolina debates.  Go here to read all about it.  This enhanced Gingrich’s image as a champion debater, and a fighter, taking no guff from a liberal media bent on destroying him.  This was tailor-made to appeal to Conservatives, and Gingrich should send a public thank you to John  King and CNN for allowing him to use them as a punching bag.  On Friday Perry dropped out and endorsed Gingrich, noting that Gingrich was not perfect, and emphasizing the redemptive power of religion.  If Perry had been as eloquent during his participation in the debates, he would now be the de facto Republican nominee.

So, what does this all mean? Continue Reading

Song of the Vagabonds

Say to your Son that I am His.

Through Him all my sins are lost:

Forgive me, as Mary Egypt was,

Or, so they say, Theophilus,

Who by your grace was still blameless,

Though he vowed the Devil a guest.

Protect me always from like excess,

Virgin, who bore, without a cry,

Christ whom we celebrate at Mass.

In this faith let me live and die.

Francois Villon

Something for the weekend.  Song of the Vagabonds sung by the Robert Shaw chorale.  Song of the Vagabonds is the showstopper song in the 1925 operetta The Vagabond King by Rudolph Friml.  The operetta is an imaginative fantasy set in 15th Century Paris where Louis XI, the Spider King, makes Francois Villon, brilliant poet and petty thief, Marshal of France for a day after he criticizes Louis.  Villon must defeat the Burgundian Army besieging Paris or be hanged.  Villon rallies the Paris rabble, his people, and defeats the Burgundians.  He wins the woman he loves and goes into exile for her.  Alas, not a syllable is true to history. Continue Reading

15

Kathleen Sebelius and her HHS regulations: A violation of religious liberty and inconsistent with the Catholic faith…

Evidently, President Obama has allowed his minion, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, to set forth his administration’s argument concerning religious liberty for the 2012 election.  Today, Ms. Sebelius announced that HHS would implement regulations mandating health insurance coverage for sterilizations and  contraception, including some that cause abortion.

Interestingly, there was a “compromise”: To allow religious groups one year to comply with the regulation.

The Motley Monk has been chronicling the development of this story, hoping that Ms. Sebelius—who is Catholic—would eventually have an “Emmaus moment” and see the light.   Instead, with this decision, she remains steadfastly aligned with the U.S. pro-abortion lobby.

One can only guess why Ms. Sebelius does so.

Perhaps the exemption is designed to allow the regulation to be litigated, as Belmont Abbey College has already brought suit.  The list of defendants include: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Department of Treasury; and, the departmental secretaries.

 

In a News 14 Report late last year, the President of Belmont Abbey College, Dr. William Thierfelder, said the healthcare mandate is a violation of the institution’s constitutional rights and religious values:

This is a much bigger case and this effects every American.  In other words, if they can do this to us they can do this to everybody.

Thierfelder said Belmont Abbey College will not comply with the mandate and because of noncompliance, the institution will receive recurring fines.  This potentially could cause Belmont Abbey College to close.

Perhaps the reason Ms. Sebelius allowed the one year exemption was that she knows it is illegal, violating the First Amendment, and is likely to be overturned by the Courts sometime in late 2012 or 2013.  That would allow the Obama administration to promote its pro-abortion credentials during the election while at the same time tell pro-life forces that the matter is being litigated and, while it is, the status quo remains in place

Forget the truth.  What matters are the votes, pro-abortion and pro-life.  Maybe the truth is that today Ms. Sebelius “split the difference” to win some votes for her mentor.

 

To read the HHS Secretary’s statement, click on the following link:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/01/20120120a.html

To read about the Belmont Abbey College suit, click on the following link:
http://www.foxcharlotte.com/news/politics/Belmont-Abbey-College-Sues-Federal-Government–134156948.html

To see the News 14 Report, click on the following link:
http://triad.news14.com/content/local_news/649904/belmont-abbey-college-sues-over-mandate-to-require-contraceptive-coverage

 

9

Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

 

Pope Benedict, judging from this address on January 19 to American bishops in Rome, apparently understands the high stakes in the outcome of this year’s election, even if many American Catholics do not:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such. Continue Reading

84

Gingrich, Media Bias and the Mainstream Media as Morality Police

Gingrich turned the tables effectively on John King of CNN last night at the final debate prior to the South Carolina primary on Saturday.  Here is the transcript:

JOHN KING: And just as speaker Gingrich surged into contention here in South Carolina, a direct fresh character attack on the Speaker.

And Mr Speaker, I want to start with that this evening.

As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post. And this story has now gone viral on the internet.

In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.

Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

GINGRICH: No, but I will.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Is that all you want to say, sir?

GINGRICH: Let me finish.

KING: Please.

GINGRICH: Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.

(APPLAUSE)

My – my two daughters – my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: As you noted, Mr Speaker, this story did not come from our network. As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the campaign. I’m not – I get your point. I take your point.

GINGRICH: John, John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican. They’re attacking the governor. They’re attacking me. I’m sure they’ll presently get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.

I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

(APPLAUSE) Continue Reading

3

Another Win For Governor Quinn: Illinois Has the Lowest Credit Rating of all the States!

 

I have designated Governor Quinn of my homestate of Illinois the worst governor in the country.  Not content to rest on his laurels, Governor Quinn has continued to misgovern the Land of Lincoln with the skill of a spendthrift who is afraid that he has a cent somewhere that remains unspent.  Such diligence will always reap a reward, and one has now come to Quinn:

Illinois, unable to solve its long-running financial problems, was given the lowest credit rating of any state in the country by Moody’s Investors Service on Friday, a move that will increase costs to taxpayers.

A second agency, Standard & Poor’s, left its Illinois rating unchanged but warned of a negative outlook that could lead to a downgrade in the future. A day earlier, Fitch Ratings also left the rating unchanged and declared a stable outlook.

Lower credit ratings generally mean the state winds up paying more interest when it borrows money by selling bonds.

Both Moody’s and S&P said they are troubled by Illinois’ failure to balance its budget and strengthen government pension systems, although a tax increase and other measures have helped.

Moody’s cited “weak management practices” and a recent legislative session that “took no steps to implement lasting solutions.”

Moody’s now rates Illinois “A2,” below any other state. Only one state, California, qualifies for the next-highest rating. All the rest are ranked higher. Continue Reading

16

Live-Blogging the CNN South Carolina Debate

With the field reduced to four and the possibility that this is the last significant Republican primary debate, the moment appeared ripe for a live blog. Feel free to discuss in the comments.

By way of disclaimers, I’ll mention that I dislike all of the candidates to varying degrees and that Macallan’s 12 may or may not be influencing some of my remarks:

8:05: CNN says we will have audience questions. Oh, great.

8:07: Romney mentions how long he has been married and his kids. I wonder if that remark was influenced by any recent events…

8:09: And CNN leads off with the ex-wife story. Newt blames CNN and the news media for lowering the level of discourse; says the story is false. Not clear what part is false, though. Update: The ‘open marriage’ part.

 8:13: What do the other candidates think about the ex-wife story: Santorum says personal life is part of what people examine. Romney says get to the ‘real’ issues. Ron Paul disses media, says nevertheless he’s proud of his long marriage. Not sure what the best tack is there. I like Santorum’s.

8:15: Ron Paul, to the shock of all observers, says that we need to get the government out of the way.

 8:17: Bain Capital. Newt says the business model was leverage, cash out, and leave’em. Romney responds with: let’s get America working again! Then, as the moderator presses, that ‘free enterprise works’! Then describes job creation record at Bain again….mentions Dominoes pizza…”there’s nothing wrong with profit”. “Freedom makes America strong!” I suppose we are lucky Newt didn’t respond to the initial question with “Marriage is great!”; “Marriage works!”; and “Marriage makes America strong!”

Continue Reading

29

Newt Is (or at Least Was) Kind of a Jerk

Marianne Gingrich’s claim that Newt wanted an open marriage is the news story of the day.  In all honesty, this doesn’t tell us that much more about Newt than we didn’t know already.  Some have already said that this is no worse than simply cheating on your spouse, and, politically speaking, this might not have any impact at all on the race.

That being the case, it does serve as a forceful reminder that Newt Gingrich is kind of a jerk.  In fact, I think that if his ex-wife’s claims are true (and admittedly, we don’t know for certain), then it is even a bit creepier than just having an affair.  It indicates that Newt is not that concerned about the feelings of other people.  Based on what we know of the man, he gives off a vibe that he views other people as simply pawns.  While he would hardly be the first such personality to become president, it doesn’t mean we should be so flippant about allowing such a man to obtain the highest office in the land.

Now, we know that Newt has had a conversion, and that people change over the course of their lives.  Perhaps the Newt from the mid 1990s is not the same man that he is today.  We can’t really judge the state of a man’s soul, and I don’t propose to do that now.  But we have to consider a couple of things.  First of all, as we are all too well aware, simply becoming a Catholic does not make one a saint.  We are abundantly aware that we are all sinners, and though we all hope that a closer relationship to Jesus fostered through the Church makes us better people, it’s still a struggle.

More importantly, this didn’t happen when Newt was a young man.  Newt was nearly two decades older than I am right now when this all happened.  Yes, men older than Newt have had conversions of the heart.  But a conversion is not necessarily a transformation into a completely new man.

I don’t know what kind of person Newt is right now.  But I know what he has been, and I’m not going to turn a blind eye to an individual’s character simply because people on the other side of the aisle are all too willing to do so.

3

Rick Santorum Won Iowa

After a recount, the vote tally from the Iowa Caucuses show that Rick Santorum defeated Mitt Romney by a whopping 34 votes.  Previously Romney had been declared the winner by eight votes.

In the grand scheme of thing, this means little.  It doesn’t change the delegate vote one iota.  It does mean that the talking point that Romney won both Iowa and New Hampshire needs to come to a halt.  It is funny to read stories about this development suggesting that the Iowa caucuses were a split a decision, yet when Romney was considered to have won there was no such talk.  He might as well have won by 8,000 votes judging by some of what was said in the aftermath.

I do note that there seems to be a lot of confusion about the vote tally.

The deadline for final certification of the results was Wednesday. Party officials said eight precincts failed to follow the rules and fill out the official forms on caucus night, meaning those results can never be certified, while other precincts turned in forms that didn’t meet the legal requirements.

And yet we continue to allow this state to have over-sized influence on the nomination process.  Are we prepared to just ignore Iowa yet?

24

Anyone Else Noticing that Romney is a Lousy Politician?

Romney, a/k/a the Weathervane, is a lousy politician.  I do not mean that in a pejorative sense but in a descriptive sense.  Being a politician is a job that requires a certain set of skills and abilities.  The Weathervane is giving every sign of not being very good at being a politician.  Current evidence of this includes the following:

1.  The Bain Mess-The Weathervane had to know that the Obama campaign would use his work at Bain Capital against him, but he seemed completely flat-flooted when Gingrich raised the issue.  The responses from the Romney campaign thus far have been lacklustre.

2.  Tax Returns-Did the Weathervane really think that he could go through this campaign without releasing his tax returns?  Now he says that he will release his current tax return sometime in the Spring.  He has also sheepishly stated that his tax rate is around 15% due to his income largely being from investments.  His tax returns should have been released months ago.  By now they would be an old issue and harmless to him.  Instead, his stubborness about releasing the tax returns has transformed a non or minor issue into one that could hurt him badly.  Idiocy.

3.  Out of Touch-Talking about his speaking engagements in 2010 and early 2011 the Weathervane said that he made very little money on them.  The very little money was 374K.  Romney might as well hang a sign from his neck stating “out of touch rich guy”. Continue Reading

27

Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy: Golden Rule or Relativism?

If you move about those regions of the internets in which righteous display their moral superiority by posting sixty second video clips showing just how bad their opponents are, you have probably seen headlines lately along the lines of “Christians Boo Jesus” or “Republicans Mock Golden Rule”. Of course, one hardly needs to watch the clip, because in the dualism that is politicization, everyone already knows that they’re right and their opponents are wrong. But after the fifth or sixth iteration, I had to go ahead watch Ron Paul (who else) present his Golden-Rule based foreign policy to boos. Here’s the clip in question:

Or if, like me, you tend not to watch posted videos, here’s the money quote:

“My point is, that if another country does to us what we do to others, we aren’t going to like it very much. So I would say maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?”

Now, this sounds superficially high minded, and some people who really are high minded seem lured by it. Kyle, who has an genuine and expansive desire to understand “the other” has his dander up and says: Continue Reading

15

The War on the Drug War

I caught a little of the Mark Levin show tonight, and he had a Ron Paul supporter on his show.  He gave the gentleman a good deal of time – two segments in fact – and was actually gracious to the caller.  The Paul supporter spent most of his time talking about the seminal issue of our day, the one issue that is truly on the mind of every American voter: the drug war.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose the prohibition on drugs.  I don’t particularly agree with this philosophy, but it’s not outside the bounds of reasonable discourse.  What baffles me is the attention that libertarians pay to what is a fairly minor issue.  We are still suffering economically, with an unemployment rate that is hovering at about 8.5 percent, and a real unemployment rate that is significantly higher.  Our national debt is out of control.  Soon Obamacare will be fully implemented, thus making the debt problem and our health care even worse.  Meanwhile, President Obama shrugs off the Constitution like it is some dusty old piece of parchment in making “recess” appointments, and has an Attorney General who continues to obfuscate about a horribly botched gun operation in Mexico.  And yet this guy wanted to talk about the drug war.

Sometime ago I once watched a Libertarian convention, and watched speaker after speaker rail about the criminalization of marijuana.  I had the same reaction then as I did this evening: this is really the hill you want to die on?  Sure, if you want to make this a part of your platform, knock your socks off.  But to make this one of the focal points of your outrage against the government?  Really?

We all have issues that we care about more deeply than do other people.  It just strikes me that libertarians would be better off focusing their attention on matters that are a tad more relevant to people living in the real world.

 

28

Aligning with Catholic identity: An embrace or artful strategic communications and public relations?

With the 2012 election year well underway, the Obama administration’s intransigence concerning healthcare entitlements as these impact religious institutions, in general, and Catholic hospitals and educational institutions, in particular, continues to boil on the backburner.

At issue are some of the regulations concerning the implementation of the 2009 Obamacare law issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2012.  Especially disconcerting for the U.S. Catholic Church is the particular regulation requiring new insurance plans for women to cover all contraceptives approved  by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-pays or other cost sharing.


While the regulation provides an exemption for some religious employers, it is not broad enough to cover Roman Catholic and some Protestant institutions.  And even though religious organizations can be exempted from the regulation, the organization’s purpose must be to inculcate religious values, it must primarily employ and serve people holding the  same religious beliefs, and be considered a nonprofit organization under provisions of the tax code that cover churches and religious orders.  Furthermore, the exemption applies only to employer-sponsored health coverage, not the individual plans that some colleges and universities offer to  students.

Commenting on this regulation last October 5, the Chair of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, said:

The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is so  extremely narrow that it protects almost no one.  Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify  as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people  who did not share their view of God.

The reason this issue continues to boil on the backburner during this election year is that the nation’s Catholic colleges and universities may have awakened from their sleepy “catholic” identity to protest that, as Catholic institutions of higher education, they would be required to offer health insurance that covers those contraceptives and abortofacients despite the fact that Church teaching is opposed to them.

In November, 2011, Belmont Abbey College filed a lawsuit, seeking an injunction to keep the federal government from implementing the regulation.

The President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Michael Galligan-Stierle, said: “Conscience is now moved to the margins and is no longer protected.”

And, in a  letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the University of Notre Dame’s President, Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, wrote:

It is an  impossible position.  This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church’s social  teaching.

In contrast, the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of  Church and State, Reverend Barry Lynn, believes a broader exemption is not only  unnecessary but also unconstitutional.  Lynn is of the opinion that since Christian and Catholic colleges and  universities accept federal money in the form of loans and grants, they should then be required to play by the government’s rules.  In an interview with Inside Higher Education, he said:

Denying contraceptive coverage to students because of religious belief isn’t  an issue of freedom of religion.  That seems wildly broad, painfully at  odds with the reality of good health care in America, and utterly unnecessary  under the Constitution.  What’s not sensible is declaring that every  belief you have needs to trump the generally applicable rules.

 

So, what has all of this to do with the 2012 elections?

The Motley Monk wouldn’t at all be surprised to discover that President Obama is waiting to see what his polling numbers look like come late Spring 2012.  If the President needs “the Catholic vote” (The Motley Monk disputes that such a monolith exists today), then the President’s minions at his Chicago election headquarters and White House policy operations office will figure out a way to “thread the needle.”

The outcome?

Some type of exemption that satisfies both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.

Perhaps the good news is that at least some leaders of U.S. Catholic higher education are aligning themselves in public with Church teaching.  Or, might it be good strategic communications and public relations on their part, meaning that this is an artful way of seizing the argument and appealing to Catholic parents that the tuition they must pay for an undergraduate education at their institutions is worth the cost?

The Motley Monk thinks it likely that it’s a bit of both.

 

13

Political Miscellania: 1/17/12

The first of our Political Miscellanias for 2012.

1.  Newt Gingrich v. The Food Stamp-President-Gingrich demonstrated at the debate last night why he was once in first place  in the race.  He is unwilling to let the media set the terms of the agenda;  in the cut and thrust of debate he is unmatchable;  and he is invincibly politically incorrect, at least on the stump.  As to the importance of early jobs, he is correct.  My high school job, scrubbing dishes and floors, taught me some valuable early lessons about work, money and savings that have stood me in good stead throughout my life.

2.  Santorum won IowaIt looks like Rick Santorum probably won the Iowa caucus.  I have heard that his margin of victory is probably about eighty ballots.

3.  Jon Huntsman drops out-Every Democrat’s favorite Republican has dropped out of the race.  Mandarin Chinese teachers in this country are devastated.  Huntsman’s campaign never took off, and his Waterloo arrived swiftly when he came in third behind Ron Paul in New Hampshire.  Although it obviously did not help him, Huntsman will always have a warm spot in my heart for this campaign commercial:

Continue Reading

3

November 2, 1983: Ronald Reagan Signs Bill Creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Mrs. King, members of the King family, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, I’m very pleased to welcome you to the White House, the home that belongs to all of us, the American people.

When I was thinking of the contributions to our country of the man that we’re honoring today, a passage attributed to the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes to mind. “Each crisis brings its word and deed.” In America, in the fifties and sixties, one of the important crises we faced was racial discrimination. The man whose words and deeds in that crisis stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in an America where, because of the color of their skin, nearly 1 in 10 lived lives that were separate and unequal. Most black Americans were taught in segregated schools. Across the country, too many could find only poor jobs, toiling for low wages. They were refused entry into hotels and restaurants, made to use separate facilities. In a nation that proclaimed liberty and justice for all, too many black Americans were living with neither.

In one city, a rule required all blacks to sit in the rear of public buses. But in 1955, when a brave woman named Rosa Parks was told to move to the back of the bus, she said, “No.” A young minister in a local Baptist church, Martin Luther King, then organized a boycott of the bus company—a boycott that stunned the country. Within 6 months the courts had ruled the segregation of public transportation unconstitutional. Continue Reading

9

The Very Quiddity of Civility

 

Hattip to Creative Minority Report.  No, the above video is not a Daily Show spoof.  There really and truly is a Froma Harrop.  She is an editorial writer for the Providence Journal and President of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.  (I know that sounds like a spoof, but it isn’t.)  The NCEW has a project to restore civility in American life, and you may read all about it here.

On August 2, 2011, Ms. Harrop delivered herself of this glittering gem of civility:

 

Make no mistake: The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States — threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate in which no one pays taxes, while the country is magically protected from foreign attack and the elderly get government-paid hip replacements.

Americans are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists, but that’s what Obama has been doing. Obama should have grabbed the bully pulpit early on, bellowing that everything can be discussed but America’s honor, which requires making good on its debt obligations. Lines about “we’re all at fault” and “Republicans should compromise” are beyond pathetic on a subject that should be beyond discussion.

That the Republican leadership couldn’t control a small group of ignoramuses in its ranks has brought disgrace on their party. But oddly, Obama’s passivity made it hard for responsible Republicans to control their destructive children. Continue Reading