17

Compassionate Conservatism Revisited

A quasi-confession: One of my favorite politicians of the last fifteen years is George W. Bush. Unfortunately, I don’t mean George W. Bush, the President. I mean, George W. Bush, the candidate for President in 2000. The one who criticized Clinton-era attempts at “nation-building” and promised a “modest” foreign policy. The one who prophetically predicted the events that would undo his own Presidency several years later:

If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I’m going to prevent that.

Well, he may have been a little off on the second prediction. 

Bush the Candidate was able to articulate pro-life principles effectively. He promised to appoint judges who were willing to occasionally glance at the Constitution. He favored raising the Earned Income Tax Credit for low and moderate income individuals. He was committed to implementing accountability in Education. Bush the Candidate advocated for expansion of social services (e.g. what would become Medicare Part D). At the time, it appeared to me that he was the best option by a mile from a Catholic perspective.

Of course, 2000 was an interesting time. No one was interested in health care reform after the Clintonian debacle in the early 90’s (other than Medicare Part D). A bipartisan compromise on welfare reform appeared to be overwhelmingly successful. There were no pressing international political issues, and Bush, as mentioned above, promised to be more modest in our dealings with the world than Clinton had been. Which left culture war issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research as the primary differences between the candidates in what amounted to a Coke/Pepsi culture clash. Good times, with internet-bubble fattened 401k’s for much of the middle class.

U.S. politics have changed a bit since then. But I still think Bush’s platform was a good one. To be sure, it basically charted a European-style Christian Democrat course for the U.S., but then I like European-style Christian Democracy, which after all, was consciously modeled in part on Catholic Social Teaching. Obviously, there are a lot of complications with any political philosophy, but, on the whole, I’m in favor of both functioning markets and generous social safety nets (taxes on individual earnings and consumption; less regulation and corporatism). Although, unlike Bush in practice (and the Affordable Care Act), I think we need to pay for social services when we expand them. I suppose most AC readers are to the right of this point of view, but I’m curious:

How did you view Bush the candidate circa 2000, and what are your thoughts on Christian Social Democrats, particularly their effortso to model political philosophy on Catholic Social Teaching?

35

Fr. Michael Rodriguez Responds to Bishop Ochoa

The following is a press release from Fr. Michael Rodriguez concerning the unprecedented legal action taken by (his) Bishop Armando Ochoa against him (I formatted the press release to eliminate spaces, content has not been touched or changed):

On January 12, 2012, Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso, filed a lawsuit against me.  Once again, I want to reiterate that his action is dishonest and unjust.  I pose the simple question:  over the course of the past 9 ½ years, who is the one who has been laboring, struggling, sacrificing day and night, and caring for the spiritual and material well-being of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church?  Has it been Fr. Michael Rodríguez or Most Rev. Armando Ochoa?  Based on the factual record, which of the two has greater credibility when it comes to protecting and furthering the spiritual and material patrimony of San Juan Bautista?

SPIRITUAL GOODS

Over the course of my 9 ½ years as parish administrator of San Juan Bautista, by the grace and mercy of God, the following spiritual goods were “achieved”:

1) Restoration of the glorious Traditional Latin Mass

2) Gradual restoration of the Catholic Church’s sacred language, Latin

3) Gradual restoration of Gregorian Chant and sacred music

4) Devout and worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist on the tongue and kneeling, accompanied by preparatory and thanksgiving prayers

5) Silence at Holy Mass and a real catholic sense of the sacred

6) Modest dress and reverent behavior at Holy Mass and inside church

7) Two daily Masses at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

8. Holy Hours with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at least four times per week

9) Regularly-scheduled Confessions at least five times per week;  Confession available at any time, day or night, by appointment

10) Stations of the Cross every Friday in both english (12:30 p.m.) and spanish (6:45 p.m.)

11) Parish Lenten Missions in both english and spanish

12) Numerous vocations to the priesthood and religious life

13) Christ the King, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Processions through the neighborhood

Continue Reading

60

The Non-Electability of Rick Santorum

It has become accepted as a matter of fact in some circles that Rick Santorum is completely unelectable in a general election.  He is so outside the mainstream that Barack Obama would simply wipe the floor with him.  I’ve even seen it asserted by more than one commenter than Santorum wouldn’t even match Walter Mondale’s electoral vote total.

The more extreme claim is patently ludicrous to anyone even remotely familiar with America’s political landscape.  I would suggest that, at a minimum, no Republican candidate can lose the following states in the upcoming presidential election:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.  I’ve left out states like Alaska and West Virginia that I think are longshots for Obama as well.  That’s not exactly Mondale territory – that’s not even Dukakis bad.

Fine, you say, Santorum won’t lose every state.  He still can’t hold the line in swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Missouri and others.  He is just too extreme for these states.

Really?  So the guy who won statewide election in a leaning-Democratic swing state twice has no shot in leaning-Republican swing states?  Yes, I know that Santorum lost by 18 points the last time he ran in Pennsylvania, and that should not be so casually dismissed.  But he did win twice, and he ran as a conservative no different from the man he is now.

As for Santorum’s 18 point loss – yes, it is bad and it looks strange that someone who lost by such a large amount in his last election could possibly win the presidency.  I would just note that in November 2006 Mitt Romney’s approval rating in the state of Massachusetts stood at 34 percent.  The only reason he was not shellacked in his re-election effort is because he didn’t even attempt to run again.

Just saying.

1

Theme From Glory

Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.

                                                               Frederick Douglass

Something for the weekend.  The theme from the movie Glory (1989), which tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first black regiments raised by the Union in the Civil War;   a superb historical film and a long overdue salute to the black Union troops who helped preserve this nation. Continue Reading

18

The Lemon Test Strikes Again!

 

Senior Federal District Judge Ronald Lagueux, a 1986 Reagan appointee, has ordered the Cranston High School in Cranston, Rhode Island to remove a mural, pictured above, depicting a school prayer.  The mural had been in the school since 1963.  The suit, as is usual in these modern iconoclastic cases, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of an atheist student and her father, Mark Ahlquist.  Jessica Ahlquist, the 16 year old atheist who brought the suit, has become an atheist celeb on atheist sites on the internet.  She doesn’t think much of the Catholic Church, is indeed a fallen away Catholic, and Cranston is 90% Catholic, so this suit was her way, actually I suspect more her father’s way, to poke a stick in the eye of local Catholics.  Go here to read the opinion.  Judge Lagueux’s decision is notable for its overall reliance on the Lemon test, and I will leave to Justice Scalia below to set forth my views of that court created doctrine.

In few areas of the law has the Constitution been more twisted and deformed than in the area of First Amendment allowance of religious expression in schools.  Justice Scalia gave a useful summary in 1993 in the Lamb’s Chapel v. Moriches Union Free School District case:

As to the Court’s invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening thelittle children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Continue Reading

4

January 13, 1862: Letter From Mudd

Orestes A. Brownson, a Catholic convert, was the greatest Catholic writer of mid-Nineteenth Century America.  He published Brownson’s Quarterly Journal, an influential and popular magazine which examined the political, cultural and literary scene of the America of its time.  One hundred and fifty years ago one of his subscribers sat down and wrote him a letter.  Dr. Samuel Mudd was an unknown figure at the time, but just over three years hence all of America would know his name as the physician who  treated the assassin John Wilkes Booth after he had slain President Lincoln.  Mudd was arrested in the aftermath of the assassination.  Mudd claimed to be completely innocent.  However, at his trial evidence was presented that established that Mudd had contacts with Booth in late 1864.  What they talked about is lost to history.  Evidence by Mudd’s former slaves helped establish that Mudd had been part of the conspiracy.  He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, escaping the death penalty by a single vote.

Mudd was held for four years at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.  During a yellow fever epidemic in 1867 the prison doctor died and Mudd volunteered to take his place.  His efforts helped stem the outbreak and the soldiers at the fort wrote a petition to President Johnson asking for clemency for Mudd: He inspired the hopeless with courage and by his constant presence in the midst of danger and infection…. [Many] doubtless owe their lives to the care and treatment they received at his hands.  Due to this, and the ceaseless efforts of his defense attorney Thomas W. Ewing, Jr. who was influential with the Johnson administration, on February 8, 1869 Johnson pardoned Mudd.  Since Mudd’s release there have been continuing efforts to clear his name.  In 1992 my former Congressman, Republican Thomas Ewing, co-sponsored with Steny Hoyer, Democrat Maryland, House bill 1885 to overturn the conviction of Mudd.  The bill failed in committee.

Here is the text of Mudd’s letter to Brownson: Continue Reading

37

Bp. Ochoa’s Legal Action Against Fr. Michael Rodriguez (UPDATED)

UPDATE IV:  Fr. Michael Rodriguez Releases a Second Press Release

UPDATE III:  Excellent synopsis at the El Paso Times

UPDATE IIBishops Ochoa Press Release 2012 01 11 – PDF

UPDATE I:  Court Documents: Bp. Ochoa Lawsuit Filed Against Fr. Rodriguez – PDF

Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Diocese of El Paso has raised serious accusations against Fr. Michael Rodriguez, the brave priest who stood up for the sanctity of marriage at the El Paso city council, by filing a legal action against Fr. Rodriguez due to alleged financial misconduct.

Fr. Michael Rodriguez has released the following statement:

It is unfortunate that Bishop Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso and no longer our bishop, has decided to pursue legal action against me.  Such legal action is unjust.

Over the course of 9 1/2 years as the parish priest of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, I poured my heart and soul into caring for this parish, both in terms of temporal goods, and especially spiritual goods.  I’m confident that hundreds of my former parishioners will eagerly testify to this.

In his January 11, 2012, press release, Bishop Ochoa stated, “Fr. Rodríguez’s handling and use of donated funds has compromised the financial integrity of San Juan Bautista.”  This is not true.  Bishop Ochoa’s statement also refers to “Fr. Rodríguez’s mishandling of funds.”  Again, this is not true.  I have always honored, respected, and made good use of the financial patrimony of San Juan Bautista.  I stake my entire reputation on this claim.

On September 20, 2011, I opened my heart to my bishop, like a son to a father, and was completely honest and forthcoming with him as to the financial affairs of San Juan Bautista.  I told him everything.  He chose not to believe me.  For the past four months, my canon lawyer has made repeated efforts to resolve this matter with Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, and he has refused.

I have a great love for my former parish of San Juan Bautista, and my former parishioners.  I am ready to fight for and defend them, whatever the cost.  I am also ready to protect my own good name and reputation.  I have never misappropriated or misused parish funds.

Finally, I am convinced that the real reason for my former bishop’s actions against me is due to my defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to homosexuality as well as my adherence to the Roman Liturgy of 1962.  If necessary, I will present prodigious evidence to support this contention.

I will continue to do my best to be a good and holy priest, no matter the cost.  I will continue to proclaim and teach the truths of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the area of sexual morality, no matter the cost.  I will continue to adhere to the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, no matter the cost.  Please keep me in your prayers during this difficult trial.  Please entrust me and my priesthood to the loving protection of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the Most Holy Mother of God.

Thank you and may the good Lord bless you as this joyous Christmas season continues.

End of statement.

This news is just coming in as I type this.  The El Paso Diocesan website has crashed where the bishops press release originates from.  When I am rested early tomorrow morning, I will transcribe the PDF file that I have of this press release in full.

Let us pray for all involved.

21

Does Jesus Hate Our Religion?

I encourage my students (past and present) to ask questions and seek the truth, and sometimes some will take up the challenge. Last week we saw the challenge of prior Myths to our belief in the historical Jesus Christ.  This week we have a Christian challenge to Christian religion. I would like to again tap into the collective genius that is American Catholic blogosphere to see what shakes out. I don’t think Christianity could have survived as a loose-knit band of solo believers/wanna-be disciples.  Surely the Bible would never have been standardized. I see Jesus as one who puts all religious persons on notice- to not be hypocritical or without compassion. But in my read He doesn’t throw out the baby of religion with the bathwater of failing pharisees.  I am pointing my students to this blog to consider your arguments and thoughts- so be polite and thoughtful regarding those who may be reading who are young questing souls- not sure of the spiritual landscape just yet.

6

Catholicism and “Neoliberalism”: Strawmen Are Often Contrary to Church Teaching

David Cloutier at the Catholic Moral Theology blog links approvingly to a post at dotCommonweal addressing Romney’s political views which asks whether “neoliberalism” (the which is here used to mean something along the lines of free market capitalism) and Catholicism can ever be compatible. He says:

Superb exchange going on over at dotCommonweal over a post about how certain political conservatives, like Rick Santorum or Michael Gerson, try to reconcile their Catholicism with the neoliberal paradigm. For once, even the comment thread is worth reading!

I think this is an important – if not THE important – debate about Catholicism and politics in the current election. Often, the debate over particular policies dominates, but in fact, what we should be looking at are the basic principles of the economic order. If a candidate fundamentally contradicts the basic principles, Catholics should have reservations about supporting him. In the post referred to above, “neoliberalism” is cast in terms of a pure free-market conception, in which governments take a minimal role in economic activity, providing for enforcement of contracts, a stable currency, etc. – protection against “force and fraud.” Others claim that Gerson forthrightly support subsidiary actors – such as families, community organizations, and churches – and so is not in fact individualist.

The (frequently made) mistake here is one that goes back to Edmund Burke, that “father” of conservatism. Burke seeks to deal with nascent industrial capitalism by (Warning: blogging oversimplification ahead…) distinguishing between a sphere of “culture” (or “civil society”) that can be fostered, and refuses to attribute social problems to the mechanisms of the market itself. He defends the market as good, over against the landed establishment (the “nobles”) of the pre-industrial order, which is who he is opposing. But for him, the market is not all there is. (One sometimes sees a variant of this in defending Adam Smith by noting one must read both The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.)
Continue Reading

16

You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

I’m going to need to recant my placement of RedState at the top of my favorite blogs list.  Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as probably the leading not-Mitt candidate in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, they, along with a few other conservative websites, have gone absolutely bananas over the prospect of Santorum becoming a leading candidate.  Sure, they all hate Mitt Romney, but can we truly tolerate a candidate who says extremist things like this:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.

My goodness.  I can just see Santorum delivering these remarks on a balcony with a hammer and sickle proudly displayed behind him.  Did he also poound a shoe on the podium, because the man must surely be just shy of being an out and out Communist.

Jeff Emanuel has unearthed two more shocking quotes that reveal Santorum’s obvious Stalinist tendencies. Continue Reading

34

If it Had Not Been

The Guardian is a singularly obtuse Left-Wing tabloid in Great Britain, but they outdid themselves in a story about the most overrated people in history.

In regard to Winston Churchill, this gem was delivered in the story:

Quite a few of his Tory colleagues might have concurred with Lee’s view of Churchill’s hopeless judgment and over-zealous use of the military, at least right up until the summer of 1940. “If it had not been for the fact that he led Britain to victory in the second world war we would have scant memory of [him],” Lee reckons.

Yeah, that whole leading Great Britain to victory in World War II does seem to spoil the meme that the story is pushing doesn’t it?  Let’s see figures we could say were overrated from American history based upon this “standard’. Continue Reading

14

Still Want to Defend Romney and Bain?

People are crying crocodile tears about Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry attacking Mitt’s record with Bain Capital.  While I think some of the rhetoric has been excessive, I also don’t think this line of attack is completely out of line.  As conservatives we tend to reflexively defend all market institutions without first considering that some institutions are a little shady.  Moreover, I find it incredibly amusing that people are using this as a cudgel against Gingrich and Perry when Romney was the one who attacked Perry from the left on social security and basically charged him with wanting to take people’s social security away.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Whether or not you think this line of attack on Romney is fair, Mitt is going to have to come up with a better line of defense than this:

On the heels of his decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney took the attacks on his private sector record used by GOP rivals and turned them against President Obama.

Romney’s critics have accused him of destroying jobs in order to increase profits for his investment firm, Bain Capital, but speaking Wednesday on CBS, Romney said that what he did was no different from the Obama administration’s auto industry bailouts.

“In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business,” Romney said Wednesday on CBS.

This is a preemptive strike against a potential line of attack in the general election, but does Mitt really want to imply that what he did was not much different than what Obama did with the bailouts?  He’s already got Romneycare hanging around his neck, and now he’s volunteering a comparison with President Obama that most conservatives are not going to find flattering.

Hey, Mitt, you haven’t sewn up the nomination quite yet.  You might want to keep that in mind before opening your mouth again.

14

SCOTUS derails women’s ordination…

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a church school  cannot be sued in court over an employee’s  discrimination complaint.

In a unanimous decision SCOTUS overturned the earlier ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al which had allowed the lawsuit to move  forward, saying the teacher’s work was more secular than religious.

The high court disagreed.

Consistent with precedent, SCOTUS ruled that the First Amendment’s  guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the  reach of anti-discrimination laws when dealing with employees of religious  institutions.  SCOTUS also extended this precedent to include complaints of discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted:

The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone….(c) Today the Court holds only that the ministerial exception barsan employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. The Court expresses no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits.

The Court’s decision is a clear defeat for those in the U.S. Catholic Church advocating women’s ordination.  While the Catholic Church discriminates in favor of males for theological reasons, civil suits based upon gender discrimination cannot be brought.  “[The] authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone” [italics added].

 

To read the SCOTUS decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al, click on the following link:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-553.pdf

 

24

New Hampshire For the Weathervane

 

As expected, Mitt Romney, a\k\a the Weathervane, handily won the granite state.  Romney has been working the state since 2008 and it paid off for him.  Ron Paul (R. Pluto) came in second, which was not surprising, considering the traditional libertarian leanings of quite a few New Hampshire voters.  John Huntsman, who had staked all his cards on New Hampshire, came in third.  Half of Huntsman’s voters in exit polls identified themselves as liberals and indicated that they were satisfied with Obama as President.  I expect Huntsman’s odd campaign to end shortly.

The two most frustrated men in the field were doubtless Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.  They are appealing to many of the same anti-Romney voters, and neither of them could make any headway in New Hampshire with the other man in the race.  Both of them had put minimal effort into New Hampshire and that state is traditionally unkind to primary Presidential candidates who do not spend quite a bit of time there.  Rick Perry came in with a pathetic one percent.  If the Perry campaign were a horse in Texas it doubtless would be put out of its misery soon, and I expect Perry to do the same for his on life support campaign, probably after the South Carolina primary. Continue Reading

8

It’s In There Somewhere

I can’t tell you how many times that, when I’ve asked someone to cite the constitutional authority for the point they are arguing, they vaguely give me an Article and Section number without explaining how said article justifies their favored course of action.  Well, you will all be happy to know that our representatives in Congress are not any better at offering specifics.

At the beginning of the 112th Congress, as part of an effort to inject more transparency into the legislative process, the House adopted a rule requiring that each bill be accompanied by a Constitutional Authority Statement.  The purpose of the rule was to expose the cavalier attitude of those members who desire to legislate ‘just because they can.’

Well, after a year of legislating under this rule, it appears that we are in serious need of accountability measures to provide some clarity and specificity to the authority statement.  Otherwise, the rule will be regarded as yet another “transparency” gimmick of Congress.

Republican congressional staffers combed through almost 3800 bills and joint resolutions that have been introduced this year, in an effort to gauge the clarity and specificity of the Constitutional Authority Statements.  For the most part, the results are pretty pathetic.  Here are some of their key findings:

  • Overall, 945 bills contained authority statements which do not reference a specific power granted by the Constitution.  Many of these merely cited “Article 1” or “Article 1 Section 1” “Article 1 Section 8.” In other words, they just cited the fact that Congress has the power to legislate, but failed to divulge which constitutional power or specific clause is supporting their legislation.
  • There were 732 bills which only referenced the commerce clause, 660 which only referenced the general welfare clause, and 321 which mentioned the necessary and proper clause without reference to a previous Constitutional clause to which the necessary and proper clause might apply.
  • In total, there were 2658 Constitutional Authority Statements that were either questionable or vague.  That represents roughly 69% of all bills and resolutions introduced in the 1st Session of the 112th Congress.
  • While more of the vague citations are attributable to Democrat bill sponsors, many Republicans were lax in offering meaningful authority statements.  Almost as many Republicans used the inexplicit commerce clause as Democrats.

This highlights a number of problems with both Congress and our understanding of the Constitution in general.  First of all, attempts to reign in Congress are almost always futile because Congressmen are adept at skirting around clear legislative language.  After all, we’re dealing with a bunch of lawyers – both on staff and in Congress itself.  Lawyers are masters of finding, and then abusing the fine print.

But let’s not just chalk up to maliciousness what we can also chalk up to laziness.  Yes, these are all smart people, but they’re also lazy.  When staff drafts legislation* they don’t have enough time to be rummaging around 100-year old, dry old documents like the U.S. Constitution.  They can vaguely remember their Con Law class and some decision handed down by some FDR-appointed judge that says that the commerce clause covers that, and so VOILA!  Constitutional justification.

*: And, by the way, make no mistake about it – it’s Congressional staff that writes legislation.  Do you think Congress critters are the ones hammering away at their laptops drafting this minutiae?  Of course not.   Do you really think they’re busy putting together 2,000 page documents?  Uh uh.  No, we are governed by 30 year olds fresh out of law school who are just biding their time until they get a job with a K Street firm that will lobby Congress on the labyrinth legislation that said staffer just penned.  Meanwhile, the people who actually have to vote on these bills have, at best, skimmed them, trusting their personal staffers to give them the gist of what is written on paper.  Just what our Framers envisioned, right?

Finally, let’s be honest – the FDR appointed judge probably just muttered something about the commerce clause in the ruling, offering barely much more substance than the Congressional staffer.  Over the years the judiciary, through the beneficence of broad interpretation, has often stretched Constitutional meaning beyond the breaking point.  If staff were inclined to beef up their Constitutional Authority Statements, we would be no more satisfied with the end result.  It would still likely be utter malarkey, just better sourced and more specific-sounding malarkey.

Still, I think this exercise has one useful purpose.  We all knew that Congress was just making it up as it went along, and now we have written proof of that.

22

Canon 216: Who Are You Calling Catholic?

49 And John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you.

Luke 9:49-50

On December 15, 2011, the Archdiocese of Detroit stated that Real Catholic TV could not use the term “Catholic”.

In a Dec. 15, 2011 statement addressing the organization’s name, the archdiocese clarified that the Church encourages its members “to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings,” but forbids them “from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”   The archdiocese added that it has been communicating with Voris as well as his media partner at Real Catholic TV on the issue for “some time.”

Last month’s announcement also referenced Canon 216 of the Roman Catholic Church’s current Code of Canon Law, which holds that “no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’” without authorization.   According to the archdiocese, Real Catholic TV’s programming is “disseminated from the enterprise’s production facility in Ferndale, Michigan,” within the jurisdiction of Detroit’s Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.   But Voris maintains that Archbishop Vigneron is not the “competent ecclesiastical authority” over Real Catholic TV, which is owned by Indiana resident Marc Brammer.   “I don’t have ownership over the name of the organization. It’s not my organization. The headquarters are outside of the diocese,” Voris told LifeSiteNews in a Dec. 23 article. “It’s the wrong person, and the wrong outfit asking the wrong person the wrong question.”

Go here to read the rest at LifeSiteNews.  As for Real Catholic TV, I have no great feeling one way or another.  I have watched very little of it, but what I have seen I have not found very impressive.  The heart of Mr. Voris appears to be in the right place, but his head often doesn’t seem to be fully engaged.  Having said that, considering all the faith destroying drek that I have seen promoted under the name “Catholic” in this country over the past four decades, I find it amusing, although completely unsurprising,  that it was the traditionalist Real Catholic TV that was chosen for this rare application of Canon 216. Continue Reading

5

Douthat, Santorum and Tolerant Hate

The mocking of the Santorums for the manner in which they grieved over the death of their new-born son Gabriel Michael Santorum by Alan Colmes and Eugene Robinson has been explored in two previous posts here at TAC, and they may be read here and here.  Ross Douthat tackled the subject in the New York Times:

But if the attacks on the Santorums’ personal choices were incoherent (so incoherent, in fact, that both Colmes and Robinson soon backtracked), they were also entirely characteristic of our moment. This is the second consecutive election cycle in which a Republican politician has endured a bizarre obstetrics-related controversy; last time, we had the various conspiracy theories surrounding Sarah Palin’s pregnancy and her Down syndrome son.

In a sense, one could say that these kinds of invasive debates become inevitable once the traditional zone of privacy around public figures collapses. But it would be more accurate to say that the zone of privacy has collapsed precisely because of the deep moral divisions that these kinds of controversies reveal.

Privacy is a luxury of moral consensus. Nobody would have thought to politicize the premature birth and death of John F. Kennedy’s son Patrick, because abortion wasn’t a polarizing issue in the America of 1963. But if a white politician in the Jim Crow South had married a black woman, the relationship would inevitably have been seen as a political gesture as well a personal decision.

Today, we are less divided over race, but more divided over sex and reproduction. In a country that cannot agree whether fetuses are human beings, even questions like how to mourn and bury a miscarried child are inevitably freighted with ideological significance. Likewise, in a country where the majority of Down syndrome fetuses are aborted, the mere act of carrying a child with a genetic disorder to term — as both the Palins and the Santorums, whose daughter Bella has Trisomy 18, have done — feels like a political statement.

Go here to read the rest.  The column is a good restrained look at this issue.  What is truly interesting however, are the comments reacting to the column.  Almost uniformly, they are completely unsympathetic to Santorum and his family, and most say that his beliefs against gay marriage and abortion are so despicable that he is fair game for this type of criticism.  A random sample: Continue Reading

8

If You Want to Send the GOP A Message, Now Is The Time

At least every four years (or more frequently when Congressional, state and local elections are considered) the Catholic blogosphere starts erupting with debate over whether voting for a major party candidate who is not fully pro-life or in line with Catholic moral teachings, but appears to be the lesser evil when compared to his or her opponent from the other major party, is morally permissible or advisable.

Right now this question, on the conservative Catholic side at least, is being raised in relation to whether or not Catholics should prefer Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or another candidate over Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president, and whether or not to vote for Romney over Obama in the general election if Romney ends up as the GOP nominee. Some who are less than satisfied with Romney’s past record on life and family issues say they will not vote for him at all, not even in November and not even if his loss means another 4 years of Obama, because they believe the GOP needs to be sent a strong message about the importance of life, family and cultural issues. Others believe the prospect of a second Obama term is sufficient reason to vote for the GOP candidate in the general election even if he is less than satisfactory.

What follows are just a few of my own personal reflections and suggestions on this topic. They are merely suggestions offered for your consideration and should not be construed as a moral judgment against any who may disagree. Also, because they appear to comprise the majority of TAC readers, I am addressing myself solely to Republican or GOP-leaning Catholics opposed to Obama’s reelection. Again, this is for simplicity’s sake and not meant as a moral judgment against persons with a different view.

Continue Reading

5

The Triple Meaning of Epiphany

The Visit of the Magi

The Feast of Epiphany is preceded in importance by only three other feasts during the liturgical year. (As a good exercise, see if you can name the three feasts in order of their liturgical importance.) The connection between Epiphany and Christmas is not only in the fact that it is twelve days after the celebration of Christ’s Nativity, but also in its modern emphasis on the visitation of the Magi to the Christ Child. Historically, however, the connection is stronger still. Laurence Paul Hemming, when describing the history and theological significance of Epiphany in his book Worship as Revelation, reminds us that the feast of Christ’s birth was originally celebrated on January 6th rather than the current date of December 25th. “[F]ollowing the arguments of Sextus Julius Africanus … the actual birth of Christ was redated to December 25th …. So important was the date of the feast of the 6th January, however, that the established feast of that date remained, in both the East and the West.”


The Wedding at Cana

Once the feast was redated, what was the purpose of reserving January 6th as a day of particular reverence? It might seem at first that the date of January 6th was kept for purely historical or nostalgic reasons. On the contrary, Hemming indicates that the Feast of Epiphany originally had a triple significance: The Nativity (together with the visitation of the Magi), the Baptism of the Lord, and the commemoration of the Wedding at Cana. Thus, even with the transference of the Nativity to December 25th, there were two remaining significations of the feast of Epiphany: the Baptism of Jesus and the commemoration of the Wedding at Cana. Interestingly enough, “[t]he least of the significations of the feast (so much so, that it gets no mention in the liturgies of the East) is the appearance of the wise men of Magi from the East, the so-called ‘three kings.’”

The connection between these three significations is evident in many elements of the liturgy, but perhaps the antiphon for the Benedictus on Epiphany shows this most clearly: “Today the Bridegroom claims his bride, the Church, since Christ has washed her sins away in Jordan’s waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine, alleluia.”
The Baptism of the Lord

The connection the Nativity shares with the Baptism of the Lord is more profound when we recall that the sacrament of Baptism is a celebration of heavenly birth. While Christmas Day is the celebration of the Incarnation, the earthly birth of Jesus, the Baptism of the Lord (as seen by Origin) is a celebration of the heavenly birth of the Savior, not in a temporal sense of course (because the Second Person of the Trinity is an eternal procession from the Father), but in an eschatological sense. There is, then, a connection between the Christmas-Epiphany cycle and the hypostatic union. The Christmas-Epiphany pair celebrates the union of the divine and human natures in the one person of Jesus Christ. Liturgically, we hear this celebration of the hypostatic union and its importance in our own lives in the Opening Prayers from Christmas, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord.*

From Christmas – Mass of the Day: 

O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

From Epiphany: 

 

O God, who on this day
revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star,
grant in your mercy, that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory.
From the Baptism of the Lord:

 

Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well pleasing to you.
The last example is reminiscent of the silent prayer the priest offers when pouring a drop of water into the chalice filled with wine: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” With the wine representative of divinity and the water representative of humanity, the connection between the wine and water of Cana and Christ’s hypostatic union is made explicit.  (For a more detailed explanation of the signs involved at the Wedding at Cana, see a this commentary on the thought of Fr. Robert Barron.)
It should now be clear that “[t]he central importance of the Feast of the Epiphany is that liturgically we are brought to see the connections between the Incarnation and the Resurrection” (Hemming). In a certain sense, this feast recalls for us the entire Paschal Mystery. It is for this reason that in Rome (and in many other church’s throughout the world) it is on this day, the Feast of Epiphany, that the Deacon, after chanting the Gospel solemnly proclaims in sacred chant the dates of the next Ash Wednesday, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and the following First Sunday of Advent.
The Feast of Epiphany, then, calls us to contemplate our own creation and its orientation to our new creation in Christ Jesus. While we may at first be drawn to thoughts of the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the true gift of Epiphany is Christ’s gift of himself for our salvation. Therefore, the three gifts offered by the Magi should only be representations of our own gift of self to the Lord. As proclaimed in Gaudium et Spes (24), “[M]an, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”
The universal call to holiness means that the mystery of Christ must become the center of our own existence. As with all things liturgical, the event of Epiphany effects what it signifies. While signifying our own divinization, the liturgy also brings about that divinization. Truly, through our Eucharistic participation in his incarnation-death-resurrection, we do “come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” However, like all sacramental effects, we must dispose ourselves towards the reception of the grace offered. Our attitude towards our Creator must first and foremost be that of openness to the gift, an attitude that recognizes the transcendent reality beyond us, that sees with the eyes of faith that we are actors in the great drama being played out in the cosmos. Let us pray for this disposition so that Jesus Christ might become an Epiphany in our own lives.

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court deal a legal setback to those adovcating for women’s ordination?

While the media and pundits are focused like lasers upon the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) oral arguments and decision concerning the so-called “Obamacare” reforms, The Motley Monk is focused like a laser upon a case the SCOTUS has already heard, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (597 F.3d 769 (6th Cir. 2010) [2010 BL 49772]).

Argued on October 5, 2011, the case concerns whether the exemption from federal employment discrimination statutes which applies to church employees who perform religious functions also applies to teachers at religious elementary schools.  The courts have generally upheld the former.  But, according to the facts of this case, a teacher at a religious elementary school—who happened to be a commissioned (“called”) minister—suffers from narcolepsy and was fired on February 11, 2005.  School officials deemed that the teacher could not fulfill her contractual responsibilities.

Even though the school’s religious denomination forbids lawsuits among believers—based upon 1 Corinthians 6:1-8—the teacher did so on May 17, 2005.  Filing a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC, the teacher alleged that the school had discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Representing the EEOC to SCOTUS, the Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice Leondara R. Kruger argued that the religious school could not fire the teacher for filing a complaint to the government even if church teaching forbids it.

For The Motley Monk, this principle allows for a very dangerous breach of the wall of separation between Church and State.

For example, consider the case of an unmarried teacher in a Catholic school who was fired for becoming pregnant by artificial insemination and subsequently filed a complaint with the EEOC, arguing that her firing is rooted in gender discrimination.  After all, she asserted in her filing, men who donate sperm are not likely to be fired while for women a pregnancy and baby are difficult to hide.  Should the government be able to require the school to rehire the teacher and provide her restitution for lost wages and emotional pain and suffering endured?

Yes…if the teacher is considered an employee as would any employee in a secular organization.

No…if the teacher is considered an employee in a religious organization which is exempt from federal employment discrimination statutes.

Then, too, what also about Catholic women using this principle to sue the Catholic Church in the United States because they are excluded from the priesthood?  There’s absolutely no doubt that when it comes to ordination, the Catholic Church discriminates in favor of males.  Should SCOTUS be able to tell the Catholic Church in the United States that it must redress the imbalance?

Yes…if, as an organization, the Catholic Church is bound by federal employment discrimination statutes.

No…if, as an organization, the U.S. Catholic Church is exempt from federal employment discrimination statutes.

 

The transcript of the oral arguments indicates that several SCOTUS Justices were particularly interested in the answer to the question of ordination, including Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Bryer.

In response to the Justices’ questions, Kruger noted that the two situations are different—not categorically, but rather  because “the private and public interests are very different in the two  scenarios.”  Kruger added:

The government’s general interest in eradicating discrimination in the  workplace is simply not sufficient to justify changing the way that the Catholic  Church chooses its priests, based on gender roles that are rooted in religious  doctrine.

But, the government does have a compelling and indeed overriding  interest in ensuring that individuals are not prevented from coming to the  government with information about illegal conduct.

It would seem the Ms. Kruger’s position—arguing on behalf of the Obama administration—is that the government isn’t interested in telling religions groups how to govern themselves internally, unless the issue concerns violations of law.

Who, then, is to decide?  After all, gender discrimination is illegal in the United States and were SCOTUS to affirm the government’s principle, this would set a legal precedent that those seeking women’s ordination in the U.S.Catholic Church could exploit.  Aware of this, Justice Scalia asked Ms. Kruger:

There is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly prohibits the  government from mucking around in a labor organization, but there, black on white in the text of the Constitution are special  protections for religion. And you say that makes no difference?

 

Kruger’s explained what the government considers

…the core of the ministerial exception as it was originally conceived…which is  that there are certain relationships within a religious community that are so  fundamental, so private and ecclesiastical in nature, that it will take an  extraordinarily compelling governmental interest to (allow) just  interference.

 

The good news in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School case is that the Justices’ questions reveal some grave reservations about the principle being asserted by the Obama administration.  Justice Alito pointed out, in particular, that this distinction between the Lutherans’ lawsuit prohibition on the one hand, and the Catholic Church’s male priesthood on the other, seemed arbitrary which, of course, is itself a violation of substantive due process.

 

Alert to the problems associated with finding on behalf of the teacher, it may very well be that SCOTUS will decide in favor of the denomination and its school, dealing a legal setback to those who advocate women’s ordination in the Catholic Church.

The Motley Monk has his sights set like a laser on this case.

 

 

To learn more about Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, click on the following links:

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/hosanna-tabor-evangelical-lutheran-church-and-school-v-eeoc/

http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/10-553.htm

 

To read the transcript of the oral arguments before the SCOTUS, click on the folowing link:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/10-553.pdf

8

Newt Gingrich Attacks Fashionable Anti-Catholic Bigotry

I assume that only hard core political junkies like me watched the New Hampshire Republican presidential debate last night which is a shame.  All of the candidates acquitted themselves well, including Ron Paul who came across as avuncular Uncle Ron, instead of crazy Uncle Ron.  Go here for a first rate overview of the debate.  It was a debate heavy on substance and each of the candidates dealt with the questions adequately.  I think Rick Santorum, who had quite a bit more air time last night than he did in previous debates, did himself a lot of good.   However, the standout moment of the debate came when Newt Gingrich dealt with a question about gay marriage.  The question was phrased as one would expect by denizens of the mainstream press, asking the candidates how they would talk to a gay couple who wanted to get married.  When Gingrich’s turn came, he was having none of it.

“I just want to raise the point about the news media bias,” Gingrich said. “You don’t hear the opposite question asked.

“Should the Catholic church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?” Mr. Gingrich asked.

Mr. Gingrich finished his comments by criticizing the media for not covering “anti-Christian bigotry.” Continue Reading

5

The Rising of the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

Something for the weekend.  I feel in the mood for a little Irish rebel music, and nothing fits the bill better than The Rising of the Moon sung by the Clancy Brothers.  The song, written around 1865, celebrates the Irish rising of 1798, when Protestant and Catholic Irishmen, with the help of a small French invasion force, launched a rebellion, probably the largest and most hard fought revolt against English rule in the history of Ireland.  Like all such Irish revolts, except for the last one, it was defeated and drowned in blood.  However, the Irish have ever celebrated their defeats even more than their victories, and the Rising of the Moon is a fitting tribute. Continue Reading

3

Some Music for your Epiphany

In honor of the day, however, I thought I’d repost the video I put together for Epiphany a couple years ago. I first encountered this classic orchestration of We Three Kings by Eugene Ormandy when I was a child, watching my dad give the annual Christmas Star Show up at the Griffith Observatory. Since the recording is hard to find, and there too it the music provided background to a montage of artistic representations of the Three Kings, I took the liberty of putting together a YouTube video for the occasion.

2

Epiphany

Although I know, dearly-beloved, that you are fully aware of the purpose of to-day’s festival, and that the words of the Gospel have according to use unfolded it to you, yet that nothing may be omitted on our part, I shall venture to say on the subject what the Lord has put in my mouth: so that in our common joy the devotion of our hearts may be so much the more sincere as the reason of our keeping the feast is better understood. The providential Mercy of God, having determined to succour the perishing world in these latter times, fore-ordained the salvation of all nations in the Person of Christ; in order that, because all nations had long been turned aside from the worship of the true God by wicked error, and even God’s peculiar people Israel had well-nigh entirely fallen away from the enactments of the Law, now that all were shut up under sin, He might have mercy upon all.

For as justice was everywhere failing and the whole world was given over to vanity and wickedness, if the Divine Power had not deferred its judgment, the whole of mankind would have received the sentence of damnation. But wrath was changed to forgiveness, and, that the greatness of the Grace to be displayed might be the more conspicuous, it pleased God, to apply the mystery of remission to the abolishing of men’s sins at a time when. no one could boast of his own merits. Continue Reading

14

Casual Cruelty

My co-blogger Paul has an excellent post here detailing the attack by Leftist commentator Alan Colmes on the Santorums for bringing their dead newborn son home so that their children could see their brother, Gabriel Michael Santorum, and the family could mourn together and spend one night with him.  Colmes swifty apologized.  Now another Leftist, Eugene Robinson, who gets paid to scribble columns for the Washington Post and to utter nonsense on MSNBC, has attacked Santorum on this score in a video which you may view here.

It would perhaps take a psychologist rather than a political analyst to explain fully why Leftists today feel free to villify their political opponents in the most personal ways imaginable, but I think Patterico at Patterico’s Pontifications gets close to the nub of the matter: Continue Reading

9

Israel Putnam, Heroism and Political Correctness

James Daugherty was an American artist and noted illustrator of children’s books.  In 1935 he received a commission from the Works Public Administration to paint a mural celebrating the life and times of General Israel Putnam.  He did so, and the mural was duly hung in the Greenwich Town Hall from 1935-40 and then transferred to the Hamilton Avenue Elementary School in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The mural is immense at nine feet by 22 feet and depicts three events in the life of Putnam:  his near legendary slaying of a wolf in its den circa 1743, his rescue in 1758 when, as a major in Roger’s Rangers, he was about to be burned at the stake by hostile Caughnawaga Indians and his escape from the advancing British at the Battle of Long Island in 1776.  Although he was probably promoted beyond his capacity during the American Revolution when he attained the rank of major general, Putnam was a very brave man who led a daring life, and a firm patriot, someone who Americans of earlier generations, especially in New England, greatly admired.

Over time, the mural became dirty and worn.  The painting was removed in 1998 to be restored.  The restoration was a success and the painting was restored at the school, in all its original brilliant vibrancy.  Then modern idiocy reared its head: Continue Reading

29

Coulter Shreds Any Remaining Credibility

I’ve never much cared for Ann Coulter, but her column today shreds whatever remaining credibility she had.  Her attacks on Santorum in particular reek of anti-Catholicism.  Thankfully Jay Anderson has fisked her so that I don’t have to (Jay’s comments in red).

… Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest. He is more of a Catholic than a conservative [ED: Apparently, being “more of a Catholic” – i.e. taking one’s faith seriously – is supposed to be a bad thing.], which means he’s good on 60 percent of the issues[ED.: Got that? Being Catholic automatically means being “wrong”on 40% of the issues in the mind of Coulter. At least she’s honest about her bigotry.], but bad on others, such as big government social programs. He’d be Ted Kennedy if he didn’t believe in God. [ED.: Yeah, that Santorum is JUST LIKE Ted Kennedy. Wait. What could the conservative Santorum POSSIBLY have in common with the uber-liberal late Ted Kennedy? Oh yeah. That whole Catholicism thingy – being beholden to the Pope, or something like that. Any doubts about how Coulter feels about Catholics now?]

Santorum may not be a big spender as far as professional politicians go [ED.: Or, for that matter, as far as your big-government, health-care mandating RINO boy, Dullard Flip Rino, goes.], but he is still a professional politician. In 2005, one of his former aides described him as “a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.” [ED.: I, for one, think the Senate could use a few more such statesmen who are committed to renewing our culture, promoting virtue and traditional family values, and prizing service to others in the common good. Apparently, these things have no place in the selfishly individualistic, objectivist AynRandland that Coulter envisions for our society.]

The Catholic missionary was fantastic on issues like partial-birth abortion, but more like a Catholic bishop [ED.: Ah, there we go. What anti-Catholic screed would be complete without a few shots at the hierarchy in the form of Bishop-bashing?] in his support for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug entitlement program (now costing taxpayers more than $60 billion a year), and a highway bill with a Christmas tree of earmarks, including the famous “bridge to nowhere.” [ED.: I was unaware that the Bishops had taken a formal position in support of any of these measures. Not sure they’ve really taken much of an interest in Alaska road projects, for example. But why let that get in the way of slapping the Bishops around?]

More at the link.

If I may add, her attacks on Rick Perry are just as poorly thought out.

Rick Perry is not electable as president for three reasons: First, he seems too much like Bush;

Only to dimwitted individuals who can’t look past the fact that he’s from Texas and speaks with a midwest Texas twang.

second, he gave illegal immigrants in-state tuition;

Really?  I mean really?  This is supposed to be a disqualifying position?  Also, he didn’t just give them in-state tuition discounts – the communist bastion known as the Texas legislature, by an overwhelming majority, did.  Meanwhile, Coulter supports the guy who gave Barack Obama the model for his health care overhaul.

But yeah, Perry signing the in-state tuition discount for illegals is completely disqualifying.

and, third, uh, oops … I can’t remember the third reason.

Oh!  Oh!  Get it?  It’s because Perry had that brain freeze at the debate.  That’s a completely original joke from Ann Coulter that hasn’t been made a couple of hundred times already by people with far more wit.

Ten years ago National Review gave Coulter the boot for her post-9/11 column.  With such slipshod reasoning as displayed here, I think they’d be ready to welcome her back with open arms.

21

Romney 29%-Santorum 21% Nationally

Rasmussen is first out of the gates with a national poll of the Republican candidates following Iowa.   Santorum has risen 17 points to 21% with Romney at 29%.  Gingrich is at 16% and Ron Paul is at 12%.  Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry are both at 4%.   Romney seems incapable of moving out of the twenties in any of the national polls on the Republican nomination.  Santorum has a lot of room to grow, and Romney seems to have hit a firm ceiling for his support in regard to the nomination race.

13

Big Government? No. Big Exaggerations? Yes.

Now that Rick Santorum has basically tied Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus, the knives are really out for Rick.  On the one hand, he will undoubtedly experience a surge in the polls and in fundraising.  On the other hand, as every conservative who has ascended in the polls has before, he will face a firestorm of criticism from both left and right.  I discussed this in my post yesterday, and now things have only gone into overdrive.  As someone who reads secular conservative blogs, there is a lot of concern that Santorum is some kind of “big government” conservative.  I think this is absurd, as does a pretty famous conservative figure not known for particularly liking big government types: Rush Limbaugh.  Here’s what he had to say about the big government charge on his program today: Continue Reading

27

Santorum: The Galvanizing Candidate

George Will has a first-rate column about Rick Santorum:

He can, of course, be tenaciously serious. On Sept. 26, 1996, the Senate was debating whether to ban partial-birth abortion, the procedure whereby the baby to be killed is almost delivered, feet first, until only a few inches of its skull remain in the birth canal, and then the skull is punctured, emptied and collapsed. Santorum asked two pro-choice senators opposed to the ban, Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), this: Suppose the baby slips out of the birth canal before it can be killed. Should killing it even then be a permissible choice? Neither senator would say no.

On Oct. 20, 1999, during another such debate, Santorum had a colloquy with pro-choice Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.):

Santorum: “You agree that, once the child is born, separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed. Do you agree with that?”

Boxer: “I think that when you bring your baby home .?.?. .” Continue Reading

14

Rick Perry Should Not Drop Out (Updated)

After finishing in fifth place in the Iowa caucus, Rick Perry delivered perhaps the finest speech of the night.  At the end, he said that he was going home to Texas to “reassess” his campaign and try to find a way forward.  That is not quite as dire as “suspending” one’s campaign, but that is not a good sign for those of us who support his candidacy.

I hope that Perry decides to continue, and not just because he’s my favorite candidate.  I also don’t think that Michelle Bachmann should drop out.  No candidate should drop out after last night, and for one simple reason: it is simply time to stop making one small caucus and one small state so important in the grand scheme of a campaign.

Tim Pawlenty dropped out after merely losing a non-binding straw poll in Ames.  Pawlenty’s premature exit from the campaign is a decision that he must be ruing considering all that has transpired over the past five months.  Perhaps Pawlenty would have dropped back into Jon Hunstman territory, or perhaps Pawlenty would have become the candidate that conservatives rallied around in order to defeat Mitt Romney.  We simply don’t know because Pawlenty let the decision of a handful of voters in what is basically a glorified clambake take him out of the race.

You know how many delegates Santorum and Romney, the winners of the Iowa caucus, each won?  Six.  Six delegates out of 1,144 needed to win the nomination.  Iowa’s population is roughly one percent of the total US population.  It is a state that is over 90% white, and has an unemployment rate that is 5.7 percent, almost three full points below the national average.  In other words, it is not a state that is exactly representative of the nation as a whole.

The first four state in the presidential primary season represent a decent cross-section of the population, or at least of the Republican electorate.  Iowa is a populist, midwest, rural white state.  New Hampshire is a small New England state that is typically more libertarian.  South Carolina is a growing, southern state that has typically been more predictive of the eventual nominee than the first two states.  Finally there is the populous swing state of Florida.  We will have a much better idea of the state of the race after the Florida primary has been completed, and all the candidates owe it to the electorate to at least tough it out until that point or else we will continue to allow Iowa to have a ridiculously over-sized influence on the nomination process.

Now there are legitimate reasons for Perry (and for Bachmann) to see the writing on the wall and drop out.  Perry concentrated his efforts on Iowa and spent north of $5 million there.  After all that he only received 11 percent of the vote.  Perry had already written off New Hampshire, and he is struggling to get even in the top three in South Carolina.  He may see the rise of another respectable conservative in Santorum as a sign that he has no path to victory, and his continued presence in the race is only muddying the field.  That’s an understandable strategic decision, and I respect that.  But I hate to see Iowa continuing to play a more glorified role in the selection process than is merited.

Update:  Evidently Rick Perry has listened to me.  Who says I don’t have influence?

9

Rick Santorum v. The Weathervane

 

 

Some elections are themeless and some have themes.  The Republican presidential nomination contest has had a theme from the outset:  this is a two man race with Romney, or as I affectionately refer to him, the Weathervane, and one other candidate, identity to be determined.  Last night the identity of the Not Romney candidate was determined:  Rick Santorum.

Final Iowa Results:

Mitt Romney:               30,015

Rick Santorum:            30,007

Ron Paul:                     26,219

Newt Gingrich:            16,251

Rick Perry:                   12,604

Michele Bachmann:       6,073

Jon Huntsman:                 745

 

Santorum was annointed by default:  each of the earlier pretenders to the title having, in turn, stumbled and fallen away:  Bachmann, for a nano-second, Perry, debating is an essential skill for Presidential candidates unless they have won a big war, Cain, the femmes were found, and Gingrich, a man can outrun anything except his own past.  However, Santorum would not have been so annointed if he had also not been working the state assiduously for many months, visiting each county in Iowa, and holding over 375 townhall events.  The caucus set up in Iowa rewards old fashioned shoe leather politics and Santorum did the endless hard work neccessary to succeed.

So today is Santorum’s day in the limelight and he has earned it.  What happens next?  Santorum is currently in single digits in all other states.  That should change now, but in order to be taken as a serious challenger to Romney, he will quickly have to move into at least a close second place behind Romney in most of the upcoming primaries.  Campaign funds will now start flowing to Santorum, and he will need to use it swiftly to build up a national organization.

Candidates will start dropping out:  Bachmann soon and probably Gingrich soon after New Hampshire.  I think Bachmann has been angling for a while for a job in a Romney administration, and I expect her to endorse Romney, although that is not probably important as her support is miniscule.  Newt is boiling over from the fact that Romney negative advertising torpedoed his campaign, and he and Santorum have been close in the past, so I would not be surprised if Gingrich endorses him after he drops out. Continue Reading

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January TAC GOP Presidential Poll

UPDATE 1-8-2012:  We have eliminated Ron Paul due to spamming issues.  If you feel the need to cast a vote for Ron Paul, please do s0 by leaving a comment.

John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Buddy Roemer, and Paul Ryan never announced their candidacy for the GOP nomination as some had speculated, so they have been removed from the TAC Poll.  In addition, Gary Johnson has removed himself from consideration the moment he accepted the Libertarian Party Nomination.  Herman Cain has suspended his campaign which is nothing more than preventing the inevitable.

Here’s our latest poll so please vote in anticipation of the Iowa Caucuses (voting ends 7pm this Friday):

 

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The Administration’s Hubris Knows No Bounds

Recess appointments are, in and of themselves, constitutionally dubious.  But at least prior administrations have had the decency to make such appointments when Congress actually was in recess.  This administration doesn’t even bother with such quaint formalities.

White House attorneys have concluded they have the legal authority to make a recess appointment despite Republican efforts to block the move, Democrats said Tuesday, and administration officials say they reserve the option to install Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Senate approval.

Some expect that appointment to come as early as Wednesday, when PresidentBarack Obama goes to Mr. Cordray’s home state of Ohio to talk about the economy. He’ll be at Shaker Heights High School outside Cleveland.

Mr. Cordray’s nomination has stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Republicans, who say they will not confirm anyone to the post until changes are made to the bureau’s structure. Mr. Obama and his aides have signaled for weeks that he would use his authority to bypass the Senate by giving Mr. Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, a recess appointment. Last month, the Senate voted 53-45 to take up the Cordray nomination, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead.

Senate Republicans have tried to prevent the White House from acting by keeping the Senate technically in “pro forma” session until senators return to Washington later this month.

One way around the GOP maneuvering would have been for the White House to appoint Mr. Cordray during the short window in between congressional sessions. That window was open Tuesday morning, and some expected Mr. Obama to act then. But he didn’t, and administration officials maintained that they still have all options on the table.

That’s because the White House has concluded that it can make the appointment even if the Senate has not formally recessed, said one Democrat familiar with White House thinking. “They have decided no one can stop them.”

Sadly, as infuriating as that last part is, will anyone really bother to stop them?

The fact that Obama eschewed an opportunity to make a legitimate recess appointment today in favor of this grandstanding gesture indicates that he’s basically just taunting Congress now.  As Drew M points out, this is nothing more than a political ploy.

Obama would love it if the GOP House actually tried to impeach him. Failing that, his sticking it to the GOP will please his base.

The challenge for the GOP in Congress will be to fight enough to please the base and check Obama but not give him the mud slinging fight he wants/needs. I doubt it’s something they will be able to pull off.

Ultimately this is the small ball politics Obama will have to play since he can’t actually run on his record. And if has to shred the Constitution in the process? What’s the Constitution compared to a God Who Walks Amongst Us?

Remember how the left cried about Bush “shredding” the Constitution?  Crocodile tears.

10

What Did Christ Look Like?

 

Go here for the full version of the above video.  This was originally broadcast  on December 24, 1968 on the CBS show Sixty Minutes.  An artifact demonstrating how greatly our culture has changed for the worse in four decades.  I believe that Harry Reasoner who narrates the video was not a Christian, but the power of the image and reality of Christ shines through the video nonetheless. Continue Reading

16

Knives Out

The Hawkeye Cauci have arrived, and tonight we’ll watch in breathless anticipation to see which presidential candidate will walk away with the lion’s share of the precious 25 delegates being awarded tonight – a critical two percent of the 1,144 needed to win the nomination.  Rick Santorum has climbed up the polls and is a serious threat to finish third, if not win the caucus outright.  And as with all candidates who have experienced a burst in popularity, the knives have come out for Santorum.  Yesterday I linked to Alan Colmes’s disgusting mockery of the manner in which Santorum and his family mourned the loss of their child, but that is just a taste of the attacks that Santorum has experienced in the previous few days and will experience if he continues to be a somewhat viable candidate.

In particular the blog Red State has run a number of blog posts in recent days that have, to put it mildly, been very critical of Santorum.  Just scroll through the link and you can see that Erick Erickson in particular has been a busy beaver.  Now most (though not all) of the contributors to the blog are pro-Perry and they see Santorum as a threat mainly to Perry.  And for what it’s worth, I am sympathetic to Red State’s views.  Though I certainly think people should vote for the candidate they feel is best, as a Perry supporter myself I lament that Santorum will do more to divide the conservative vote and help nominate Romney than anything else.  Rick Perry is much better suited for a long run at the nomination than Santorum, so I have mixed feelings about Santorum’s rise in the polls as he is my second choice for the nomination.  In fact I’d be ecstatic if either Rick won, yet both candidates are basically evenly dividing the not-Mitt vote with Gingrich.

Red State’s takedowns of the other candidates, especially Ron Paul, have been very good.  The anti-Santorum stuff, on the other hand, has been very weak tea.  There’s but the vaguest hint of a scandal with a company that Santorum was associated with, and this attack on Santorum about not believing the President to be a Chief Executive is nitpicky at worst, and smells of desperation.  The most effective criticisms revolve around the issues I brought up in this post from about a month ago.  In particular, this post simply linking to Santorum’s video endorsement of Arlen Specter is just damning.   Continue Reading

4

Red Tail Angels

The video above was produced by the United States Army Air Corps in 1945 and narrated by Captain Ronald Reagan.  The film is a salute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Blacks have served in all of America’s wars, in spite of the racial hatred that was often directed against them during their service.  In World War II the military was still segregated, and opposition to blacks serving as pilots was intense.   However, the Army Air Corps could not ignore that blacks had passed the tests to qualify as aviation cadets. Trained at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, the 99th Pursuit squadron was activated in 1941 and sent overseas to North Africa in April 1943.

The 99th served in the Sicilian Campaign and in Italy.  In the Spring of 1944 it was joined by the 100th, 301st and 302nd pursuit squadrons and formed the all black 332nd fighter group.  The 332nd flew as escorts for bombers flying bombing raids into Czechoslavakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Germany.  The 332nd became known as the Red Tails, or Red Tail Angels, for the red paint on the tails of their planes, and for the skill with which they guarded the bombers they escorted.  The men of the 332nd in their time in combat destroyed 261 enemy planes, damaged another 148, and flew a total of 15,533 combat sorties.  They suffered 66 pilots killed.  95 Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism were earned by the pilots, along with other awards for valor, and the 332nd received three President Unit Citations.  A bomber group, the 477th Medium Bomber Group, consisting of the 616th, 617th, 618th and 619th bomber squadrons, was formed from Tuskegee Airmen, but the War ended before the unit was deployed overseas. Continue Reading

3

VirtuousPla.net is Now Ignitum Today

With the new year upon us the fledgling Catholic website for Young Adults has changed their name from VirtuousPla.net to Ignitum Today.  Ignitum Today offers wonderfully well written articles by young adults from all walks of life.  In our short time, I am one of the Chief Editors, we have introduced to the Catholic blogosphere such dynamic writers such as Fr. Ryan Erlenbush and Marc Barnes.

The change of the name is only cosmetic, the mission and overall content of Ignitum Today remains the same.  This change was set upon us by a copyright dispute that has not affected us in any other way besides the name change.

We look to evangelize our faith by sharing the stories of the JP2 and B16 Generation for all.  We hope you come and visit us soon (now would be better)!

48

Alan Colmes Is Beneath Contempt (Updated)

Alan Colmes mocked Rick Santorum for the manner in which he and his family mourned the death of their 20-week old child.  Fortunately, Rich Lowry was there to smack Colmes down.  Look at Colms pouting as someone dares call him out for being a creep.

Colmes also brought the incident up on his website, completely mischaracterizing what the Santorums did in an effort to portray them as kooks.

What a loathsome human being.

Update: Alan Colmes apologized to Rick Santorum.  It’s good to know that people can still recognize when they have crossed a line.

 

5

Defeat Don!

When I am not practicing law, dealing with the joys and duties of family life, or blogging and browsing the internet, I can often be found playing strategy games.  I started playing strategy board games circa 1971 when my parents, at my request, gave me a copy of the Avalon Hill game Panzer Blitz for Christmas.  It was love at first sight, and I have been playing strategy games ever since, almost always with a historical setting.  Most of my gaming these days is done on the computer.

Recently I have been playing games on the Yucata website here.  Registration and play is completely free at Yucata, and they have some 77 games available for play.  One thing I like about Yucata, is that players do not have to be online simultaneously to play.  When you log in and go to the games that you are playing, you are prompted after clicking one of the games, to go to any game where an opponent has taken a turn.  You then take your turn, and when your adversary is online at the website, he will be prompted to take his turn, and the process repeats itself.  A fun way to play is to have several games going at once, so you have multiple turns to take when you log in.

A game I have been playing a lot of lately is A Few Acres of Snow, which deals with the struggle of France and Great Britain in North America in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Go here to read the rules of the game.  Below is a video review of the game:

Continue Reading

41

Santorum Could Win Iowa

 

A big surge is being detected in polling in Iowa to Santorum, with Santorum outpolling Ron Paul (R.Pluto), who was just behind Romney, in the last two days of polling.  Go here to read all about it.  A win for Santorum in Iowa could be a game changer, as overnight he could become the conservative hope against a Romney nomination.  That would be great, as Santorum is as pro-life as they come, recognizes the threat from the radical jihadists and has a realistic plan to cut government expenditure, the components of which are as follows: Continue Reading

4

Mother of God

It is appropriate that on the first day of the year we honor the woman who brought the Alpha-Omega to us.  It has ever been the glory of the Catholic Church that we venerate the Mother of God.  From His Cross, Christ told the the Apostle John to look at Mary and behold his Mother, an indication that he was entrusting all of mankind into the maternal care of His mother.  Throughout the ages Mary has ever been vigilant to continue to make visits to her children, visits that we celebrate at Tepeyac, Lourdes and Fatima, to name only a few of hundreds.  God recognizes how precious to us are our Earthly mothers, and he deigns to share His mother with us.  We see in God’s love for Mary a glorious reflection of the love He has for each of us. Continue Reading

13

Happy New Year and Welcome to Arrakis!

Happy New Year to all our readers.  Clan McClarey spent New Year’s Eve in our usual fashion in watching the movie Dune (1984) a movie so wretchedly bad that it is good, if watched as  an unintentional comedy!  When the film was originally released the introduction to the film consisted of the above video by Princess Irulan, portrayed by Virginia Madsen, a very minor character in the film.  When it was determined that the introduction merely confused already confused moviegoers more, at least those who had never read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, a new introduction was made up when the film was released on television:

Upon its release the film was nearly universally panned.  David Lynch, the director, disowned the film, and adopted the pseudonym of Alan Smithee, a name traditionally adopted by directors of films that turn out so badly that the directors do not want their names attached to it.  The film earned the title of worst film of the year by film reviewers Siskel and Ebert.  Janet Maslin in the New York Times gave the film one star, and regarded it as completely incomprehensible: “Several of the characters in Dune are psychic, which puts them in the unique position of being able to understand what goes on in the movie”.

Why is Dune such a grand buzzard of a film?

1.  Confusing.  Audiences were simply asked to take in too much of an immensely complicated science fiction setting.  Now if they had simply had this catchy tune at the beginning of the film, perhaps some of the confusion could have been eliminated:

2.  Overacting.  A prime example:

3.  Sting.  Dune was the movie where Sting amply demonstrated that he could not act to save his singer soul.  His role is actually fairly minor.  But he does have a climatic fight scene where he jumps around like a deranged gerbil and comes off as silly rather than menacing:

Continue Reading