Monthly Archives: April 2012

Captain Buffalo

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Something for the weekend.  The song Captain Buffalo from the 1960 movie Sergeant Rutledge (1960), John Ford’s salute to the regular army black soldiers who fought in the West in post Civil War America.  Called Buffalo Soldiers, the black troops made up the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.  While confronting the extreme prejudice of that time, the troops earned accolades for their courage and professionalism. Continue reading

Our Most Cherished Freedom

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Judging from this statement on religious liberty issued yesterday, the Bishops understand that the stakes are very high indeed this year:

 

A Statement on Religious Liberty

 

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.   Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations.   In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, was made the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome to receive the red hat. Speaking of the great progress the Catholic Church had made in the United States, he attributed it to the “civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic.” Indeed, he made a bolder claim, namely that “in the genial atmosphere of liberty [the Church] blossoms like a rose.”1   From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience. It is among the proudest boasts of the Church on these shores. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.   We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.   This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops:  

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.   Continue reading

State Interests in the Primary Process

I’d like to post a question that reader G-Veg sent to me regarding states and the primary process.

Cursory research suggests that the most common reason cited for states running Primaries is to avoid fraud.  This is certainly the reason cited by Progressives in Teddy Roosevelt’s time for campaign reform.  While not strictly focused on Primaries, 19th and early 20th Century Progressives made huge strides in dismantling political machines.  (Interestingly, at least in Pennsylvania and New York, primary contests have been paid for and managed by the state for as far back as I could research on line.  In Pennsylvania, for example, election officials ran primary contests at least as early as Lincoln’s election and there are records of New York City primaries for Mayor going back to 1850.)

Research suggests that we’ve been doing state paid for and managed primaries for quite some time with almost no thought as to whether there is even a legitimate state interest in the contests to begin with.  I suggest that there is no legitimate interest and that state patronage is both unconstitutional and irrational.

First, I’ll note what we all know: that we have a “Two Party System” by default, not law.  The Constitution of the United States makes no mention of the country’s political makeup or character.  That reality gives particular significance to Washington’s warnings about factionalism.

Second, the argument that State sponsorship controls fraud is, itself, a farce.  It does nothing of the kind because the “back room deals” Progressives sought to control continue to rule the process.  It seems like a well-intentioned but failed experiment.  It is an expensive one too.  In Pennsylvania, for example, a statewide election, whether primary or general, costs a touch more than $1 million (2010).

Third, even if State sponsorship controlled a host of ill effects like fraud, disputed outcomes, and mob selections of candidates, the state has no interest in contests.  So what if Party X chooses a union bullied candidate or one purchased lock, stock, and barrel by monied interests?  Party X can do what it wishes.  They can select by heredity if they want to.  As long as there is a robust general election, how candidates get on the ballot is largely irrelevant.

Fourth, state paid for and managed primaries force out of elections many millions of qualified citizens because there can never be more than two “real” parties as long as the coercive powers of the state are used to keep alternatives marginalized and disenfranchized.  Surely the state has an interest in promoting greater levels of public service among the citizenry and anything that discourages such participation should be overhauled.

For these reasons, I believe that states should stop paying for and managing primaries.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Personally I don’t think there’s much under the constitution that would allow the federal government to get the states out of elections, and any large-scale attempt to get the states out of the business may only enhance the power of the two-party system.  But I’d like to hear thoughts on this.

Civil War Death Toll

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“War means fighting. And fighting means killing.”        

Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Hattip to my co-blogger Paul Zummo.  One hundred and fifty years later we are still learning about the greatest war in US history, even in regard to such a basic fact of the conflict as the number of men killed in it:

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.       

But new research shows that the numbers were far too low.      

By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000.  Continue reading

A Real Job

I’ve had it suggested that I write about motherhood a bit; be careful what you ask for.

 

….Yeah, I’m posting on that.  Some idiot talking head makes a slam at a grandmother with MS and everyone has to comment about it.  I think I have something worth saying, though, rather than just talking about it because it’s big.

 

I’m a stay at home mom.  A home-maker.  A house wife.

 

I have worked outside the home, before I got married, in a very similar field—I was a Petty Officer in the Navy, specializing in calibration. (Making sure things that measure are accurate enough.)  Before that, I was in another similar field, at least sort of—I was a ranch kid.

 

Perhaps some folks look at those things and are curious—what on earth is the connection between being a mother, working with cows and fixing stuff that’s used to fix planes and ships?

Continue reading

Honoring A Murderer in Galway

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 “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

 G. K. Chesterton

 Ah poor Ireland.  As the Faith has become weaker in the Emerald Isle, strange new gods are arising, and one of the strangest is Che Guevara, deceased Argentinian revolutionary and hero of politically correct fools everywhere.  In Galway of all places the local government passed a measure approving of a memorial to Castro’s Himmler.

 

The minutes of Galway City Council’s meeting of  Monday, 16 May 2011, include the following proposal: ‘That Galway City Council  commit itself to honoring one of its own, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, descendant of  two of our Tribes, the Lynch family of Lydican House, and the Blakes. The  project to be furthered by liaising with the Argentinean and Cuban  Embassies.’

 

Billy Cameron, an Irish Labor Party councillor in  Galway, has scoffed at the claims made by fellow city councillors that they  didn’t know they had voted to approve a monument in honor of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

 

To underline his point Councillor Cameron dryly  asked if his fellow Galway City Councillors thought they had been voting for ‘an  egg and spoon race?’ when they unanimously approved the measure.

 

Councilor Cameron also had some advice for  conservative Cuban-Americans who have taken an interest in the case in recent  weeks: they should ‘butt out’ of Irish affairs, he told GalwayIndependent.com.

That last comment is rich.  What business is it of Ireland to honor a man who helped install a brutal tyranny in Cuba?  Of course this is being done because nature abhors a vacuum, and without a belief in Christ, people will search for substitute religions and for many in the West Leftism of various stripes is the favored choice.  It is gratifying that this attempt to honor “Saint” Che is drawing such fire.  Castro’s hangman deserves it: Continue reading

The Non-Thinking Person’s 2012 Election Decision Tree

(cross-posted at Acts Of The Apostasy)

Okay.  The elections are just under seven months away.  The presidential combatants are *nearly* set – a foregone conclusion, barring a brokered Republican convention this summer that could turn the GOP on its establishment head.  Nonetheless, unless you’ve been under a rock, in a cave, or occupying some city square somewhere, you don’t need me to tell you that the 2012 election season is well in hand – and not just on the national level, either.

But I’ll tell you anyway: the elections are coming!!!

Now, many of us have already decided how we will cast our votes this November.   The libtards have had their marching orders since forever, which is basically vote for the guy who will give you the most stuff, and the most of other people’s money.  It’s a genetic thing – they really can’t help themselves.  When you’re humorless, hopeless and hapless, following simple instructions is about all the strain and stress their poor cerebral cortices can handle.

In fact, I came across their 2012 Voting Guide the other day, what I like to call The Non-Thinking Person’s 2012 Election Decision Tree:

Now, as you can see, following the chart is very easy to do.  Short words, bold arrows and simple concepts.  I’m surprised they didn’t include an “Am I straight?” question.  Of course, once you think and apply some logic to the questions being asked, you can see how utterly inane this flowchart really is. Continue reading

Crazy Mel

 

 

Back in 2011 I reported that Mel Gibson was working on a screenplay about the Maccabean revolt.  Go here to read the post.  I hoped that this movie would help Gibson work out the personal demons that afflict him.  Alas, such is not the case.  The project has been shelved, and the screenwriter of the play Joe Eszterhas has unloaded on Gibson in a nine page letter that may be read here.  (Caution as to strong language.)  Mel Gibson is the most prominent Catholic of his generation in Hollywood.  His Passion of the Christ is a masterful film that inspired, and inspires, huge numbers of people around the globe.  To see him destroy his life and reputation since then has been painful.  Gibson needs our prayers and a swift kick in the hind end.

Update I:  Hattip to commenter Chris P.  Go here to read Gibson’s response to the Eszterhas letter.

Update II:  Go here to read Eszterhas’ response to Gibson.

Paul Ryan & Subsidiarity

Ever since Congressman Paul Ryan announced his budget plan, claiming that it was inspired by his understanding of Catholic social teaching (CST) in general and subsidiarity in particular, old debates about the meaning of CST have flared up once again. Michael Sean Winters of NCR blasted Ryan’s conception of “subsidiarity”; then Stephen White of Catholic Vote critiqued some of Winter’s own oversimplifications. Since everyone and their aunt in the Catholic blogosphere will weigh in on this at some point, I’ll get it over with and throw in my two-cents now.

First: I do believe that some of Ryan’s statements are oversimplifications. For instance, he claimed that subsidiarity and federalism were more or less synonyms for one another. They are not. Stephen White pointed out that these concepts are complimentary, however, and they are.

Secondly: Winters, and he is not alone in this, repeats Vatican statements about “access” to health care as if they were an exact equivalent with Obamacare or other types of government-run healthcare schemes. As White pointed out, Winters presents his leftist policy preferences as non-negotiable points of CST.

Third: I think the entire framework of this discussion needs a serious overhaul.

Continue reading

Introducing…

Hello everyone!

I am happy to be blogging at The American Catholic, which I have always known to be one of the most significant blogs covering the intersection of politics and the Faith. To have a public space in which Catholics are not expected to apologize for being Americans or espousing American values is more important today than perhaps it has ever been. And it is my belief that the values that have defined America are not incompatible with the truths of the Catholic faith, but are in many respects extensions of them.

So let me tell you about myself and what you can expect from me.

By education and profession, I am a political theorist. I greatly enjoy exploring Catholic Social Teaching, particularly the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. I don’t have much to say about theological or liturgical disputes, though I will let it be known that I frequent the Latin Mass.

I espouse political views that can be classifed as “paleo”, whether they are paleo-conservative or paleo-libertarian (depending on the issue). My political influences are John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Pope Leo XIII, the Austrian school of economics, Pat Buchanan, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Thomas Woods Jr., and of course, Ron Paul, the man who converted me to the paleo-political diet in the first place.

I am not the least bit ashamed of Catholic history. I do not apologize for the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, or any of the other “black legends” that were spread by the lying enemies of the Church. I do not believe that the history of the Church has been one of terrible crimes against humanity for which she must atone. On the contrary, I am an unahsamed cultural elitist. I believe Western Christian culture is the best thing to ever happen to humanity, providing us with the most magnificent technology, art, architecture, and moral values known on the planet, and that none of it would have been possible without the guidance of the Catholic Church.

I don’t bow to political correctness, and that includes the right-wing version alongside the more familiar left-wing version. Chances are I will offend you at some point if I haven’t already. At the same time, there is no position I take that I am not willing to defend with arguments, and there are many issues I would be willing to change my mind on.

Again, its a pleasure to be here!

Fr. Barron Eviscerates Dandy Andy

It’s Easter, so naturally it’s time for idiocy like Newsweek’s cover story written by Andrew Sullivan.  It looks like Sullivan has added theologian to his list of other professions, which include pundit and gynecologist.  It’s about what you’d expect from the combination of Newsweek and Sullivan.  Christianity is dying and it’s because of all those stuffed-shirts who have distorted Jesus’s message.

Fr. Barron is on the case, and he completely dismantles Sullivan.  A few highlights:

The solution Sullivan proposes is a repristinizing of Christianity, a return to its roots and essential teachings. And here he invokes, as a sort of patron saint, Thomas Jefferson, who as a young man literally took a straight razor to the pages of the New Testament and cut out any passages dealing with the miraculous, the supernatural, or the resurrection and divinity of Jesus.

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

As the reference to Jefferson should make clear, there is nothing particularly new in Sullivan’s proposal. The liberation of Jesus the wisdom figure from the shackles of supernatural doctrine has been a preoccupation of much of the liberal theology of the last 200 years.

The Jefferson “Bible” is, if nothing else, an impressive work of art.  Jefferson took passages from Scripture written in English, Latin, Greek, and French.  He carefully pasted the passages side-by-side.  It’s an awesome display of craftsmanship.  Of course it completely distorts the life and mission of Christ and turns our Lord and Saviour into nothing more than a wise philosopher.  It’s a good representation of Jefferson’s uber-rationalistic mindset, and part of an extended effort to de-fang the real Christ.

Fr. Barron has more.

The first problem with this type of theorizing is that it has little to do with the New Testament. As Jefferson’s Bible makes clear, the excision of references to the miraculous, to the resurrection, and to the divinity of Jesus delivers to us mere fragments of the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were massively interested in the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus and they were positively obsessed with his dying and rising. The Gospels have been accurately characterized as “passion narratives with long introductions.”

Further, the earliest Christian texts that we have are the epistles of St. Paul, and in those letters that St. Paul wrote to the communities he founded, there are but a tiny handful of references to the teaching of Jesus. What clearly preoccupied Paul was not the moral doctrine of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Indeed, by removing the miracles and resurrection from the account of Jesus’s life you’ve almost completely stripped his mission of any meaning.

And this leads to the second major problem with a proposal like Sullivan’s. It offers absolutely no challenge to the powers that be. It is precisely the bland and harmless version of Christianity with which the regnant culture is comfortable.

Go back to Peter’s sermon for a moment. “You killed him,” said the chief of Jesus’s disciples. The “you” here includes the power structures of the time, both Jewish and Roman, which depended for their endurance in power on their ability to frighten their subjects through threats of lethal punishment.

“But God raised him.” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the clearest affirmation possible that God is more powerful than the corrupt and violent authorities that govern the world — which is precisely why the tyrants have always been terrified of it. When the first Christians held up the cross, the greatest expression of state-sponsored terrorism, they were purposely taunting the leaders of their time: “You think that frightens us?”

The opening line of the Gospel of Mark is a direct challenge to Rome: “beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). “Good news” (euangelion in Mark’s Greek) was a term used to describe an imperial victory. The first Christian evangelist is saying, not so subtly, that the real good news hasn’t a thing to do with Caesar.

Rather, it has to do with someone whom Caesar killed and whom God raised from the dead. And just to rub it in, he refers to this resurrected Lord as the “Son of God.” Ever since the time of Augustus, “Son of God” was a title claimed by the Roman emperor. Not so, says Mark. The authentic Son of God is the one who is more powerful than Caesar.

Again and again, Sullivan says that he wants a Jesus who is “apolitical.” Quite right — and that’s just why the cultural and political leaders of the contemporary West will be perfectly at home with his proposal. A defanged, privatized, spiritual teacher poses little threat to the status quo.

This is a great passage, and one of the reasons that Fr. Barron is truly a treasure.  I love how he completely turns around Sullivan’s argument and makes him the champion of the status quo.  It’s a really great insight, and one that completely sticks it to Dr. Sullivan.  Well played.

(Thanks RL for the tip.)

Quiz Time!

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Go here to take a quiz on religion from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  I found it very simple and scored 15 out of 15.  Unfortunately that means that I scored better than 99% of the people who took the test.  Take the test and report the results in the comboxes.  After you have taken the quiz, go here for some grim reading on the results of the Pew US Religious Knowledge Survey.

The Derbyshire Kerfuffle

John Derbyshire set off a firestorm this past weekend when he put up this article called The Talk: Nonblack Version.  This was a response, of sorts, to a column published in the Orlando Sentinel in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Derbyshire’s column was swiftly condemned by commentators on all sides of the political spectrum.  By Saturday night National Review had severed its ties to Derbyshire even though his column had appeared on another site.

What did Derbyshire do this time to draw such harsh condemnation?  Derbyshire’s column  utilized the conceit of giving his child a talk about race relations and what to do when confronting unknown black people.  Though commenters objected to nearly all of what Derbyshire wrote, this was the most damning section: Continue reading

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Well, Mr. Inevitable is indeed inevitable now.

Kudos to Rick Santorum on a race well run.  It is amazing that he managed to accomplish what he did considering his financial resources and his standing at the outset of the race.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to overcome Mitt Romney’s considerable resources.  Santorum would have had to run a perfect campaign to win the nomination, and he didn’t.

It is unbelievable to me that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee.  After the remarkable victories in the 2010 mid-terms and the rise of the tea party movement, this is the best the Republicans can do.

Lies, Big Lies and Polls

 

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air for years has done yeoman work in examing polls minutely and he does this well today in examing an ABC Washington Post poll with purports to show Obama leading Romney 51-44.

I love the Washington Post/ABC poll.  It’s a great object lesson in how to manufacture news.  Need a story that the incumbent President’s fortunes are looking up?  Well, just adjust the sample a bit and voila, he takes a seven point lead over his presumed rival in the fall election!  Besides, it gives me fodder for snarky material every few weeks.

Let’s get down to cases, shall we?

With the general-election campaign beginning to take shape, President Obama holds clear advantages over Mitt Romney on personal attributes and a number of key issues, but remains vulnerable to discontent with the pace of the economic recovery, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Obama has double-digit leads over the likely Republican presidential nominee on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, addressing women’s issues, handling international affairs and dealing with health care.

You know where else Obama got a double-digit lead?  In the polling sample.  In 2008, when Democrats surged to the polls after eight years of George W. Bush, CNN’s exit polls showed a seven-point advantage for Democrats, 39/32, which mirrored Obama’s seven-point victory in the popular vote.  In 2010?s midterms, CNN exit polls showed a 35/35/30 split.  By contrast, the previous WaPo/ABC poll in March had a D/R/I of 31/27/36, which undersampled both parties relative to independents but left Democrats with a 4-point advantage — perhaps an arguable model for 2012 turnout.  Today’s has a D/R/I of 34/23/34, adding seven points to that Democratic advantage and presenting a completely unrepresentative, absurd model for the 2012 turnout. Continue reading

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