The Derbyshire Kerfuffle

Tuesday, April 10, AD 2012

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...

33 Responses to The Derbyshire Kerfuffle

  • “10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.”

    I laughed at this one since eight years ago my car got stuck in a snow drift. The only people who stopped to aid me were a black woman and her three sons who tried to dig me out. As for my own views on race they are an amalgam of those voiced by Chamberlain and Kilrain in this clip from Gettysburg:

  • Admittedly I joined the fun in expressing my angst at National Review’s decision, though not because I thought Derbyshire’s column had much merit, but because he has written worse things in the past. In fact I specifically alluded to this Corner posting from 2008. The entire post is just dripping with complete hostility to religious people. It is far and away more offensive than his latest missive, and far shorter on any sort of substantive reasoning.

    National Review has to act because of Coach Syndrome.

    My mom use to coach…well, lots of stuff, but softball was the biggest thing. She was also usually the only one willing to be the umpire. That meant that any time there was ANY question in a call, she had to call against her team– in an issue in conflict, she had to take the action that would leave her less open to accusations of wrong-doing.
    National Review, being conservative, doesn’t get accused of hating religion across the board; those who oppose them tend to be less religious, especially in regards to organized religion. Accusations of racism? THOSE fly all the time.

    Same reason a cop that’s being investigated gets suspended; got to avoid the appearance of something you’re likely to be accused of.

    Kind of funny… that was actually the first introduction I had to the idea of preventing scandal, although mom and dad didn’t use that phrase.

  • I think the guys at CMR nailed it: Derb’s view is utilitarian, not racist.

    Oddly, I think he was pissed enough to focus on the “tells” of race, rather than of culture. There’s a slight association, sure, but looking for indications of someone’s cultural group is a better way of figuring out what’s what. Didn’t congeal for a while, although when I read the now-famous article I instantly wondered what would happen to the scores if they corrected to make households match as closely as possible– parental education, economics, average income of neighborhoods, how religious the parent(s) are, criminal background of immediate family, EVERYTHING to account for other factors. I know that it tends to get rid of differences for crime stats.

    Example: first guy I dated, I can look back now and see that if I’d looked at the cultural “tells,” he’d be highly likely to lie and use those he dates.
    The first time I ever had a flat– and I’d swear this on a stack of Bibles– I’d just bought my first car as an adult, was about an hour from ANYWHERE I knew, hit a screwdriver in the road and took the first out off of a high speed road, limped along to a place wide enough to pull over… And a a totally black baptist church let out service two minutes later. Not a stone’s throw away. I know that the door-to-door witness folks tend to vary more on what denomination they are than on what color they are.

    Of course it’s not a 100% thing– some folks wear hip-hop style clothes because they like the look, some folks listen to Pennywise and wear a pound’s worth of chains because that’s to their taste, and their world view won’t match. Heck, I drink Pabst because I like it, especially for the price, not because I’m a hipster. It’s still a more accurate “tell” than race, and half of dealing with people is trying to figure out what they’ll do without knowing them. (The other half is remembering that they’re people who don’t have to stick to the script in your head.)

  • Incidentally– want something racist? How about this PSA I’ve been hearing on KIRO?

  • I bet if you’re white and have children you’d tell them the same things Derbyshire wrote about. Let’s be honest here even if it’s wrong or politically incorrect.

  • I’m dang near translucent–feather-Indian blood not withstanding– and do have kids. Two girls, so far, so I’m REALLY interested in threat-avoidance.

    I’d rather teach them to spot culture-signals, since it’ll help them ID trouble more accurately. I also hope to teach them a big dose of grain-of-salt-ism, since the biggest threats have to make you think they’re a friend, first, but that’s digressing.

    Hm… a thought… I’ve spent most of my life not-in-cities. Bet that makes the race angle a lot less of a big deal.
    (Although I think I’ve told the story about the other way of tweaking results… a pair of siblings in my high school that I knew growing up. The elder was a book-hitter of the first blood, the younger was a dumb thug. One parent was from some sort of Islands that are around the Caribbean, I can’t remember at the moment. Guess which one self-classified as “mixed/multiple” and which as “black”? I’ve stripped all possible identifying information, sorry for the wishy-washy terminology.)

  • Basically, I object to Derb’s format for the same reason I object to the talks he was responding to– if you format everything in terms of race, you’ll find almost everything fits in that format.

    I remember being accused by one black Muslim lazy blanker on ship of “trying to threaten” him because I was cracking my knuckles every time he saw me. It was the middle of winter, I’d just walked across the hangar bay in sub-zero stopping wet weather, and my hands hurt. Also, confrontation wears on my nerves, and he never did the job he was supposed to be doing because he was working on college stuff. So, every time he saw me, I was on my last nerve, in pain, and uncomfortable.
    (Never mind that he was a foot plus taller, a hundred plus pounds heavier and I’ve never tried to pull ‘threatening’ in my life.)
    EVERYTHING in his life was either because of his race or his religion, because that’s what he expected to see. It wasn’t because he never got his paperwork in on time, screwed up his job, or any other objective failures….

  • “I bet if you’re white and have children you’d tell them the same things Derbyshire wrote about.”

    You’d lose that bet with me since I am mostly white, with some Cherokee blood, and have three kids. My wife and I have taught them that there are good and bad among all races and you judge people as individuals and according to their actions.

    All Derbyshire accomplished, other than getting a mediocre, at best, writer fired by National Review, is to underline his peawit status and give the Left in the country someone to point to underline their contention that all conservatives are racist. The Left of course is the political movement in this nation that is completely obssessed with
    race, but, in an election year, I guess Derbyshire figured it was only fair to try to give them a hand.
    I do rejoice in his forced departure from National Review. I have long found repugnant his views on both race and religion. Go to the link below for Derbyshire’s musings on religion, including this gem on Catholicism:

    “Q. Are you anti-Catholic?

    A. Yes, mildly. I say this with proper embarrassment. It’s really absurd, I know it is, to nurse remnants of those 17th-century prejudices up here in the 21st. And it’s doubly absurd in the U.S.A., where, despite occasional frictions, Christians of all varieties have fought side by side on behalf of liberty for 200 years and more. Still it’s there, and lots of readers have spotted it, so I had better try to explain myself.

    A lot of it is just English mother’s milk. Our school history books, for example, were full of popish plots against the crown, Catholic traitors spying for Spain and France, and so on. Mary Tudor and James II did not get good press (though Bonnie Prince Charlie was allowed some romantic glamour, since he was such a pitiful loser), and we heard all about Pope Alexander VI. Those early impressions — scheming, hatchet-faced Jesuits lurking behind curtains, whispering treason in Latin, plotting to murder Good Queen Bess and hand us over bound and shackled to continental tyrants for the good of our souls — are hard to erase.

    Of course, as you got older and filled out your understanding, you realized there was much more to it, that it wasn’t just white hats and black hats (I guess that second hat should be red). You came to understand how different people make different claims on history. Thoughtful English people have a very good lesson in this close to hand, their country being adjacent to Ireland. Now there are two different claims on history! If you mix with Irish people, work with them, and live in Ireland for a spell (I have done all three) you get a pretty good grounding in historical relativism, unless you are a person who likes either to wallow in racial guilt or to take a stubborn, fact-denying stand on national honor (I am neither).

    Please remember, too, what Roman Catholicism was like when I was growing up, as seen from England. It was the religion of Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, chaotic and communist-trending Italy, recently-keenly-pro-Nazi Austria (don’t let The Sound of Music fool you — the Anschluss was more a wedding than a rape), Latin America as then personified by the buffoonish Juan Perón and his sinister wife, and, yes, Éamon de Valera’s nasty, corrupt, willfully under-developed, people-exporting Ireland. That’s not even to mention France. As I looked out on it from the England of the 1950s and 1960s, Catholicism was the religion of poverty, fascism, obscurantism, and bad government; and I don’t think you can say that this was a wildly distorted picture. Taking the Roman Catholic church as an institution, there just wasn’t anything to like about it, if you hadn’t been raised in it — or even, in countless cases of apostasy encountered by me from childhood onwards, if you had.

    And to this day, to tell the truth, and setting aside the attitudes and sacrifices (which latter I gratefully, sincerely acknowledge) of individual Catholic Americans, I have trouble seeing the Roman church as an institution as being any friend of liberty. When I say this to my Catholic friends, they always say: “What about John Paul II?” Though I greatly admired the man, I am not completely convinced. Sure, he hated Communism, and hating Communism is a very good thing. It was partly by his magnificent courage and efforts that the Soviet Union collapsed, and the collapse of the Soviet Union was a very good thing. I don’t know that JPII’s thinking had much in common with Anglo-Saxon concepts of liberty, though — my concepts. He was mad that the communists presumed to think that they owned men’s souls because in his mind the Church was the rightful owner of men’s souls. That’s why he hated Communism. Well, nobody owns my soul. That’s why I hate Communism. That’s liberty, as I understand it.

    The Holy Political Trinity of the 1980s, in fact — I mean, Reagan, Thatcher, and JPII — all saw liberty in different terms, terms characteristic of their backgrounds as, respectively, generic-Christian American, nonconformist-Christian Englishwoman, and Roman-Catholic Pole. You can’t escape your upbringing. Which is the excuse I started this answer with…”

    And then there is the fact that Derbyshire is a pro-abort and in favor of euthanasia:

    Derbsyhire: racist, bigot and pro-abort. Amazing how hate and ignorance tend to spill over into many aspects of life.

  • I bet if you’re white and have children you’d tell them the same things Derbyshire wrote about.

    I’m white and have two daughters, and no, I won’t be telling my kids to avoid black people because of their sub-optimal IQs. In fact, as Foxfier alluded to, it’s actually a rather counter-productive talk to give because you’re telling your kids to use race rather than other signals to indicate your level of safety.

  • To expand upon my previous comment, take a look at Israeli airport security. It is well known that they profile, but they don’t just profile on race or ethnicity. They engage in behavioral profiling. By limiting yourself to a focus on race, you’ve really narrowed your focus and actually dulled your ability to recognize danger.

  • National Review has long commissioned pieces from a stable of writers (e.g. Christopher Buckley, Florence King, and Meghan Cox Gurdon) who contribute humor pieces. Derbyshire’s book was playing the boozy and opinionated pub denizen, quaffing his warm beer over what’s left of his rotting teeth. I doubt the editors ever intended his writing be taken seriously. In fact, he was never properly edited. (His remarks on C.S. Lewis or the political economy of Ireland evince a man given to being quite vehement about things of which he knows nothing). I will wager he was issued a letter of warning some years ago when he issued an asinine and intemperate attack on the writings of one of the magazine’s salaried editors (Ramesh Ponnuru).

  • You may offer your links, but they should all be taken with several tons of salt as they link to the execrable Charles Johnson. Johnson has a long history of seeing racism where there isn’t and in twisting other people’s words – as he does with the link to Dan Riehl. But I do welcome everyone to click on those links and double the Liazardoid’s traffic for the day.

  • Latin America as then personified by the buffoonish Juan Perón and his sinister wife

    Peron burned churches. Hardly would he be considered the face of Latin American Catholicism. Does the Derb even know his history?

  • “Does the Derb even know his history?”

    I think history and Mr. Derbyshire c matt are apparently not on speaking terms.

    The Church excommunicated Peron which led to his fall from power in rhe Fifties:

    Argentinian politics always makes me feel better about American politics:

    “In 1971 the military government decided to allow free elections to be held once again and in 1973 a Perónist candidate became president and the party once more assumed control of the congress. Perón was immediately invited home, at which point the newly-elected president resigned and a special election was held allowing Perón to take on a third term as President of Argentina. It was a shallow victory. He was nearly eighty and suffering from ill health. Adding to the ignominy of the election, he chose his third wife, Isabel, an ex-dancer with a grade-school education, to be his vice-president. The following year, on July 1, 1974 Perón died of a heart attack. His wife feebly ruled for a little over a year before being ousted by the military. Yet the Perón legacy did not die. On the contrary, the party continues to be active in Argentina and still stirs political passions. In 1987 grave robbers cut off the hands of Perón’s corpse, demanding ransom from loyal Perónists.”

  • I hope he can find the means to provide for his wife and children.

  • the execrable Charles Johnson. Johnson has a long history of seeing racism where there isn’t and in twisting other people’s words

    You forgot the part about him being an intolerant, religion-hating wannabe-inquisitor with an infallibility complex.

  • I’m refurbishing for sale a house in a very tough part of a northeast city…came down from a nice NY suburb…but grew up in a bad white Irish neighborhood. Before coming down here, a black member of the rap group, Mobb Deep, who is well off now but had hood roots, said to me during a business transaction, when I told him my project down there in the hood…”be careful down there my man”. He raps about the hood but has a mini mansion in an area where no one gets mugged. One of his songs goes like this: “what’s the deal deal…never leave home without your steel… steel.”. It’s accurate about his former neighborhood but not about his current neighborhood. He would not stroll after dark in parts of Newark, Jersey City, Camden because those parts are poor and poor in America means violence. Poor in Fiji maybe does not. But poor in America means violence in the cities. In the distant past that meant Irish and Italian. Right now it means largely black poor. Mobb Deep members were assaulted by poor blacks in the rap world as were other rappers who made it. I tutored a very rough black girl in Newark when young and sent her to Catholic school for years where more cultured black children felt threatened by her with reason. She lived above a crew who sold heroin, her mom was a prostitute…and she herself was prone to fighting. Mobb Deep would not stroll her hood at night now that they’ve reached comparative safety. It’s about poverty that multiplies into various poverties here in the US if not in Fiji and not in Tibet. Here in a very competitive country, poverty is often dangerous besides being simply poverty.
    When young and working on the waterfront in Jersey City, two blacks, one with a huge neck and a broken nose, came up to me and said…” we hear you’re tough…fight us after work”. I said no. But my own Irish poor violence and ego boiled and I found them separately and said to each…” yeah….I’ll fight you after work”. Each of them backed down separately. I asked the big one why his nose was broken. He said, ” We jumped a black dude Saturday night near the YMCA…dude pushed one of us in front of a car and pulled a bat out of the garbage can and nailed me in the nose…ripped a gun off one of us and shot one of us…we fled.”. He smiled about their having picked the wrong middle aged black man to jump. Lesson. There are black areas that sensible blacks do not walk at night. 7 or 8 decades ago such areas were dangerous white areas…same blocks really.

  • There’s a whole lot to say about this topic, but frankly it grosses me out. I hate the whole race thing. I think the religious angle is more interesting. From Derbyshire’s perspective, a lot of the advice he’s giving his child is statistically sound. But to a religious person there’s an obligation to move past such things.

    He says not to be a Good Samaritan. He should take a closer look at the story. Who is my neighbor?

  • @Donald R. McClarey, @Paul Zummo: I don’t mind losing my bet as long as you and your children are safe.

  • i’ve been keeping myself safe for 55 years and my family safe for 30 of those years, so I guess I’ll go on doing what I have been doing, which includes judging people by their actions and not their skin color.

  • Donald McClarey: Derbyshire speaking of John Paul II: “He was mad that the communists presumed to think that they owned men’s souls because in his mind the Church was the rightful owner of men’s souls. That’s why he hated Communism. Well, nobody owns my soul. That’s why I hate Communism. That’s liberty, as I understand it.” And I know you already know what I will write. Man, body and immortal soul is God’s Intellectual Property. Individual man, the sovereign person, created by our Creator exists in the mind of God, without Whom, man cannot exist, because God made all things (man, man’s soul) and keeps them in existence. Therefore, Derbyshire’s rejection of our Creator inevitably erased his understanding of our unalienable rights and the place of the Catholic Church in bringing all souls back to our Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, our God. Derbyshire’s atheism mortally wounds his soul and scandalizes all souls, especially the uninformed. The heresy that Derbyshire is free of God owning his soul makes him free of infinite love and glory. Atheism is his choice and good riddance to Derbyshire’s invincible ignorance. By the way, my friend, Linda Morris was invited, yes, invited to attend Princeton University. Poverty does hurt.

  • I come to bury the Derb not to praise the Derb.

    Today’s race inquisitions are similar to the Medieval and Spanish Inquisitions. Just as in Medieval Inquisitions, acts are not the issue. The denounced racist’s divergent beliefs and thoughts are actionable offenses susceptible to condemnation to perpetual confinement on bread and water.

    The racial inquisition has jurisdiction only over whites; as the medieval only covered Christians. Case in point: the current occupier of the White House spent 20 years listening to “God Damn America!” and ”The white man is the devil.”

    Now, if Willard Romney ever received a $2 donation from a former KKK man, he’d be toast.

  • Seems to me that this is an example of “it isn’t WHAT you say, so much as HOW (or in what context) you say it.” It’s possible to make statements that are all 100 percent accurate and verifiable, but do so in such a way that they paint a grossly distorted portrait of the subject.

    For example, suppose you carefully documented every instance in which your spouse did something that disappointed or hurt you. You could probably make even the most saintly spouse look like a total nincompoop or cad who cannot be trusted to do anything right — and when they protested, you could say “But I’m just telling the truth! What is wrong with being honest?”

    What Derbyshire is doing here is taking bits and pieces of fairly accurate observations (e.g. that predominantly black urban neighborhoods tend to be dangerous) and putting them all together into a composition whose unwritten but still obvious theme seems to be “Prejudice against black people is entirely justified, and whites should not feel obligated in any way to respect them.”

  • @Donald R. McClarey,
    I’m glad for you and your family. May you and yours never be in any of those situations Derbyshire described above.

  • “May you and yours never be in any of those situations Derbyshire described above.”

    Too late for that Michael, since I have been in many of those situations, and those experiences have not altered my views as to how people should be treated: as individuals and with justice.

  • @Donald R. McClarey,
    I agree that we should treat people as individuals and with justice but how did you deal with crowds and mobs?

  • By getting away from them as quickly as possible. I have been present at two riots in my life, one involving a mostly white mob and one involving a mostly black mob. In each case a rapid retreat out of the danger area proved effective. I might add that I felt more personally threatened by the white mob, as that was in the seventies, the mob consisted of anti-war protesters and I was wearing Army green at the time.

  • Donald R. McClarey,
    Good on you. I once took the subway in NYC and missed my stop at the Museum of Natural History and ended up in Harlem. I just turned around and walked back. No problem (this was in 1968).

  • Michael,

    I was often the only white person on my subway car after Lorimer St on the L train (this is before Williamsburg had its hipster infestation). I often took the subway very, very late (and not always very sober). No harm ever came. Again, it’s about keeping your head, knowing your surroundings, and just using common sense.

  • As a white guy, the only racial paranoia I am regularly subjected to comes from my job and is from non-whites; this Derbyshire article allows me to see the other side of racial paranoia – how the other half lives.

  • Paul Zummo,
    Thanks, I hear you.

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Tuesday, April 10, AD 2012

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.

Continue reading...

41 Responses to Santorum Suspends Campaign

  • Well, Gingrich is next to drop out.

  • Santorum came a lot closer to winning the primary contest than today indicates. If Gingrich had dropped out after Florida, the Weathervane might well have been the one tossing in the towel today.

  • This really is the bottom line of it all…
    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.

    I would add the train wreck that is the state of the nation the incumbent has created. They are being lobbed a ball, and the best they can do is hit a single?

  • I was a Santorum supporter, but I will now campaign hard for Mitt. Obama must go. I cannot wait to see the look on Hussein’s face when the moving trucks pull up.

  • “I cannot wait to see the look on Hussein’s face when the moving trucks pull up.”

    Thank you for that image daledog! I will be working hard also to bring that about!

  • “…this is the best the Republicans can do.”

    My father in law was once Mayor of our town. That was, oh gosh, quite possibly before I was born actually. He retired after two years, a kind of self-imposed “term-limit” way before the term was even invented. According to the well-yellowed news clipping we have, he said he wanted to make sure others had a chance to run and do the job, since he didn’t think city government was that big a deal (meaning, that hard or complicated) a job. The people needed to get involved.

    As I said, that was way back when. Things have changed. I certainly lack the confidence
    to run the town. And running for President is quite a bit different than running for city government (we have had the same group of people for quite some time now in our town), or for Representative (either State or Federal level) or for Senator (State of Federal.)

    There ARE a lot of good, competent, smart people out there, who have no interest in having their lives savaged in the media in order to govern the country. I think Romney may be doing as well as he is doing in the GOP primaries is because people don’t see him as a politician or political insider as much, as say, Gingrich or Santorum. They see him as a business man. Does Romney have a “conservative core” (or any “core” for that matter)? From what I have seen in my own supposedly conservative town, it seems that a lot of people don’t really have a core, or aren’t even necessarily paying attention to what is going on. Some don’t even know who our elected representative is, and he has one of the more powerful governmental positions in DC.

  • I wish he would have stayed in. I hope he will be VP.
    You can say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

  • As I said in another forum, this allows me to view the rest of the cycle with a sense of bemused detachment.

    I put Mitt’s chances at no better than 45%, assuming the economy continues to, at best, tread water.

    The press assault on his LDS beliefs is underway. Of course, the elite media will be careful to couch it in terms of “educating the public” about “this mysterious and not well understood religion.” And not, say, as part of a smear job conducted on behalf of their boyfriend on Pennsylvania Avenue. But origins, polygamy, blacks in the priesthood, secret temple ceremonies–all will be played to the worst possible effect.

    In short, it will be effective at turning off independents in the same way that Al Smith’s Catholicism was used against him in 1928. A damnable shame given how fundamentally decent and patriotic your average LDS is. Frankly, I’d take your average Mormon chosen at random from the closest LDS church in favor of Mitt, but…

    All told, Mitt’s electability has always been more far more apparent than real.

  • It is too bad that Santorum couldn’t quite do it – but he does have a future in politics, if he’s so inclined.

    That said, it is time to rally ’round Romney – certainly, not the best possible candidate, but someone who, as the campaign has unfolded, has shown an ever clearer understanding of what is at stake. I still have grave doubts that he understands the revolution which is needed to fix our country, but it could be that events will force him in to a revolutionary path once he takes office – and you can rely on it, Romney will be sworn in on January 20th, 2013. Obama is doomed – don’t believe the stories in the MSM as they are all in the tank for Obama and will just keep churning out the “Obama is going to win” stories until November 2nd or 3rd, when they’ll start to allow a few bits of reality to be quietly reported so they can claim they reported the truth all along.

  • Mitt doesn’t have a prayer no matter who he picks as VP. This will be a rerun of McCain-Obama 2008. Santorum, who has no choice but to back Romney, will find his earlier criticisms used in Obama ads over and over. No matter how hard he tries, Mr. Etch-a-Sketch cannot erase his past.

  • “All told, Mitt’s electability has always been more far more apparent than real.”

    There we will have to agree to disagree Dale. I expect Romney, or almost any other Republican for that matter, to cream Obama around 54-46. I expect the appeal to religious bigotry will be in the Obama arsenal and will be as futile as the other smear tactics that the Southside Messiah will bring to the fore as he flees from his record.

  • D.J. Hesselius: A statesman is imbued with our founding principles and lives for them. A politician learns where the people are vulnerable (abortion, contraception, healthcare) and takes advantage of the people and the situation. (Never let a good crisis go to waste.) The young are intimidated and fear being ridiculed by a militant evil, an atheism that will suffocate freedom in the public square, and with freedom will go Justice. Never before has such evil eliminated our freedoms. Intolerance of evil has become a hate-crime. Disguised as freedom, vice has supplanted virtue, revelry has replaced reverence, pseudo-sophistication has replaced common sense. It is the administration that has become corrupt and is using our freedom to enslave us. If 79 people could foment the Bolshevic Revolt in Russia, 79 good people on the ground level in America can restore constitutional and principled government. We do not need to support golf-playing princes on the backs of our children. We need patriots and statesmen .

  • What makes me so darned mad is that another Primary season passes with Pennsylvania’s views meaning nothing. Perhaps we wouldn’t be in the political mess we are in if our national contests were decided nationally rather than by far Left midget states inYankee land and rural towns in Iowa.

  • AMEN G-Veg…seems that when it comes to May and the Primaries we sit back doing something with our thumbs, twiddling specifically. This is a real disappointment. I am almost discouraged enough with the field of candidates and what appears to be the final choice that has been dropped on us Pennsylvanians to NOT vote…yes that’s what I said. HOWEVER I have a moral and civic duty to vote for the best candidate. Oh how I dread the lines to pull this lever for Mitt “Mr Wrong” Romney!!!

  • It’s times like these I wish I was able to leave the US (if this is the best we can do…)

  • G-Veg What are you talking about?—-are you looking for some national format for primaries? or just for Pennsylvania to be moved up–
    I wish he would have stayed in and PA had voted for him– I think there was a concern that PA was going to go for Romney. I think if he could have stayed in for Texas things could be a lot different.
    I believe the idea of taking our time and going to lots of different states over time to air out the issues is still a good idea.
    If Iowa really had decided the national nominee, Santorum would be the candidate. Another concern for me is that it seems some Powers That Be wanted Romney no matter what the rural towns of Iowa or Pennsylvania want or would want..

  • What I’m not saying is that the race should be decided by PA or any other state alone or in concert with a few. What I am saying is that the flow of the GOP primary has been all wrong for some time and we had better fox it or we’ll continue to select nominees under the “electability” mantra that are as comfortable in the Democratic camp as ours. The center is a losing position if it is already held by a proclaimed centrist.

  • The reason you all are so dang disappointed with Romney and the abismal choice of him or The President is that there is no viable 3rd party and of course because $ dictates. I work hard to be a true centrist and love the definition of statesman Mary De Voe provided.
    We cannot expect much from either side if all we hear as voters is the hatred, anger and immature rhetoric uttered to the other side by everyone not on your side.
    I was for and still am for Ron Paul. I hope his son is more appealing in looks and voice.
    I also hope that we get more statesmen/women instead of politicians to represent us.

  • And by “fox it” I mean “fix it,” not whatever “fox it” might mean. (I don’t do well with the I-Pad hunt and peck.)

  • I agree with you about the flow of the GOP primary– but I don’t think it is structural– or the order of the states primaries as much as it is the seeming unwillingness of Republicans to be positive and supportive and cheerleading for their own candidates– We RUIN OUR OWN FLOW our own mojo, our own momentum… why can’t Republicans just be enthusiastic once!!– always so sour dour pickle face about GOP candidates –and the pickle face that starts in the GOP makes it easy for the D’s . We shoot holes in our own guys constantly saying things like “is this the best we can do?” well that really helps.
    These are actually smart stalwart good men and woman running and we always knuckle under the Ridicule used by the D’s- that is what they are good at and we are vulnerable to.. let’s find the way out of that pattern-or lose.

  • I kind of liked your “fox” it because I’m still miffed at FOX’s systemic support of Romney

  • We loved Palin. We loved Santorum. We love Rubio and Jindal. We are quite enthusiastic about candidates calling us to great things. We just can’t seem to get one of them into the White House.

    I think we are properly cynical and milktoast in our support for candidates that are shoved down ur throats by those claiming great electoral wisdom. I’ll vote for Romney this time with a sour face. Who knows, he might be as conservative as the President is Socialist when he gets in office. If so, I promise to enthusiastically support a second Romney term.

  • I for one am Catholic and tired of being R, D, I or whatever. Romney seems like an elitist and one of the establishment.neither of which I want anymore of. If I don’t like someone I will not be forced to like them even if they (on paper) stand for what we all as Catholics are looking for in a candidate…and no I don’t want Barabas either.

  • OK, longer post.

    Since Perry bowed out and Gingrinch went moon-crazy, I was really hoping (against hope?) for Santorum to come up from behind and get the GOP nomination. (If, hypothetically, Newt dropped out and endorsed Rick, would the Pennsylvanian be able to beat “The Weathervane”?) His current campaign suspension is due primarily to his daughter getting ill, which is perfectly human and understandable.

    Of course, this leaves the nation with two main options for leadership:

    Obama, under whose second term things will be as bad, if not, worse, than his first. An unapologetic liberal whose spending habits, by most accounts, will cause the US economy to cease to exist sometime in the 2020s. As someone who will probably still be alive by that time period, I really, really don’t want that to happen.

    Romney, a.k.a. “The Etch-A-Sketch” and “The Weathervane,” whose primary talent is telling the audience what they want to hear, no matter what that is. On social issues he’s wiffle-waffly at best, a pro-choice liberal at worst. I can count on one hand what might be his (politically) redeeming features – he might be willing to respect the conscience rights of non-liberal types (I think the “taxpayer-supported abortion” part of Romney care was passed by the legislature after he vetoed it), he might try and prevent all of Europe east of Germany and Austria from falling under Russian domimation again (something which Obama, it seems, is all too willing to let happen) and the Pacific Ocean becoming a Red Chinese lake, and maybe, just maybe, he could actually cut the government spending enough so that the US still has an economy while I still live. However, given his support for an ObamaCare-style health plan on the state level back in Mass., I’m still skeptical on that last point.

    Sigh … I really don’t look forward to the 2012 elections now … anyway we can legally, morally work that “line of succession” to get Speaker Boehner in the White House? 😉

  • sorry about all my huffing and puffing– I am just really sad and upset about this
    I don’t think I can come up with any enthusiasm for Romney, and I have never knowingly voted for a pro-abort, which I am afraid he really is….
    I’m the pickle face now

  • Our Republic survived the Depression and FDR’s administration. We really will be OK?

    The President seems more and more like Mad King George every day. He is utterly delusional. His Justice Department is getting spanked again and again. The Pine case is just the latest, but by no means the last beating, Holder will suffer. His signature legislation is coming apart and the far lefties are jumping ship like stoned rats. The Quakers want us out of Afghanistan, the law schools want Guantanamo closed, and California will settle for nothing less than full immigration amnesty.

    President Nero isin deep trouble.

    Even if he wins reelection, he will be so badly damaged that he will have to tinker at the edges of Democracy. So Santorum isn’t the guy… Let’s hold our collective noses, vote Romney, and, win or lose, turn our attention to a GOP landslide at the next mid-term.

  • Paul Ryan/Marco Rubio 2016…Hey why wait?!

  • And by “fox it” I mean “fix it,” not whatever “fox it” might mean. (I don’t do well with the I-Pad hunt and peck.)

    A “foxed” book is one that’s worn on the edges, bent binding, etc. I’d say that things have been quite solidly foxed already….

  • I held my nose and voted for Bush.

    I stuck my finger down my throat and voted for McCain.

    What will I have to do to vote for Romney? I don’t want to know.

    I am done with the whole Lucy and Charlie Brown football game with the elephant party. At least with King Barry, the country gets destroyed quick, and we can rebuild. The elephants are slowly killing us instead.

  • I am convinced that Ryan and Rubio sat this one out solely because conventional wisdom holds that a sitting president is nearly unbeatable. I’m sure they are kicking themselves now.

  • Well, the Republican party did it, and now we will all suffer for it. I, like many people I have talked to, will not vote for Mitt Romney. Since the Republican Party manipulated the primaries and purchased this ticket for Romney against the wishes of the people, they will get what they justly deserve — a brutal beat down. I can’t in good conscience vote for Obama, either. So, I will stay home this November. May God have mercy on us all.

  • How the world is going to survive to another four years of Obama?

    I will pray.

    Romney depends on the economy. He does not have charisma and conservative record. If the employment continue to improve even that gradually, Romney is finished.

    ABO is not enough to win.

  • I don’t know that much about the System– but is there any way the unrest among R’s can grow enough before summer that Santorum could still be tapped for the nomination?

    I do not have as good a feeling about Rubio as some of you apparently do…

  • “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

    If we poor, exiled children of Eve are happy in this vail of tears, we might not be happy in the Hereafter.

    Bill G: You may have it correct. One may defy the “Gods of the Copy Book Headings” only in the short term. In the long term, we are all dead.

    Obama will use the (open mike) flexibility to finish the job – destroy the American Dream to control we the serfs.

    The main hope is the GOP takes the Senate and keeps the House majority.

  • Folks,

    There is good commentary on Romney at the Crisis Magazine web site:

    Hey, Romney IS better (or less bad) than Obama (can’t believe I wrote that, but it’s true).

  • here’s Tony Perkins take on Santorum’s suspension of his campaign –

  • “And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! “

  • Excellent recap and basic analysis of the Santorum campaign by Mr. Bill O’Reilly. There are a number of lessons to be had from Santorum’s run:

  • Mr. Bill O’Reilly’s idea that Santorum failed because Santorum answered questions only go so far- Santorum could have joked the questions off a few times and the press would have mocked that– for not answering.
    Whatever he answered would have been wrong according to them.
    O’Reilly, in effect, piled on by blaming Santorum.
    O’Reilly repeatedly said that most of the candidates should get off the stage. After people complained about lack of respect and recognition of the other candidates he included Santorum and Gingrich just barely– His look-down-his-nose attitude about Santorum continued though, even when he was obligated to cover him after Santorum had some success (even without FOX kingmakers)
    He smiles genially while letting the whole audience know that Santorum is really not quite Big Time, explaining to us about the rookie mistakes, generously adding that he Himself has also made rookie mistakes.

Lies, Big Lies and Polls

Tuesday, April 10, AD 2012


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...

One Response to Lies, Big Lies and Polls

Debt Road Trip

Tuesday, April 10, AD 2012

It is small wonder, considering the unbelievable amount of debt Obama has amassed in such a short time, that more and more voices on the Left are taking up the cry that the debt really isn’ t a major problem.  I agree.  The term major is far too understated a term for the rapid pace we are on to national bankruptcy.   Credit rating agency Egan-Jones downgraded the US credit rating to AA on April 5, over concerns of the sustainability of US public debt.   Future generations will curse most of us as blind fools as they pay for our folly in attempting to rebuild the economy our current policies wrecked.

Another depressing video look at the debt situation:

Continue reading...

One Response to Debt Road Trip

Obama’s Justice Department Agrees to Pay $120,000.00 To Pro-Life Protestor Over Frivolous Prosecution

Monday, April 9, AD 2012



Hattip to Tina Korbe at Hot Air.  The complete contempt that the Obama administration has for the civil liberties of Americans was exemplified in its prosecution of pro-life protestor Mary Pine.


The Justice Department has dropped an appeal in Holder v. Pine against pro-life sidewalk counselor Mary “Susan” Pine, who is represented by the civil rights firm Liberty Counsel. The DOJ has agreed to pay $120,000 for this frivolous lawsuit which, as the evidence indicated, was intended to intimidate Ms. Pine and send a shot over the bow of pro-lifers around the country.

Mr. Holder unsuccessfully sought thousands of dollars in fines against Ms. Pine, as well as a permanent injunction banning her from counseling women on the public sidewalk outside the Presidential Women’s Center (PWC) abortion mill (or any other “reproductive services” clinic).

After 18 months of litigation, the DOJ’s case was thrown out of federal court, and the department was chastised in a scathing ruling by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp for filing a case with no evidence.

Judge Ryskamp wrote that Holder’s complete failure to present any evidence of wrongdoing, coupled with the DOJ’s cozy relationship with PWC and their apparent joint decision to destroy video surveillance footage of the alleged “obstruction,” caused the court to suspect a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Obama administration. “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” wrote Judge Ryskamp. “The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.”

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Obama’s Justice Department Agrees to Pay $120,000.00 To Pro-Life Protestor Over Frivolous Prosecution

  • Thank God for Ms. Pine and her courage (and attorneys).

    I’d like to know what personal responsibility Holder and his minions bear for such frivolous cases under the law and what would stand in the way to prevent such abuse of discretion in the future?

  • Prosecutors Paul can be held personally liable but it is extremely difficult. Go here for a good overview:

  • As the Arbiter and Supreme Justice of that Divine “Department” of Justice, God Himself will hold Eric Holder and Barack Hussein OBama accountable.

  • People like Holder and Obama don’t seem to care what God has in store for them. It is their loss. Holder pulled of a most difficult task – being a worse Attorney General than Janet Reno.

  • I would like to second Paul D. Thank God for Ms. Pine and her attorneys. I also am grateful they didn’t get some crazy judge. Who knows what could have happened

  • Penguins Fan,

    I agree. However, I came across the following last night as part of my evening devotional:

    “To the choirmaster. Of David. 1* * The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. 3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD? 5 There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. 7 O that deliverance for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad.” Psalm 14

  • This is what they did to Mr. Joe Scheidler. This is posted at Creative Minority Report in response to Rebecca Taylor. If this is unacceptable then, please remove it but my shouting is in capital letters.
    “Our current situation began with this bit of rationalizing about “reproductive rights” not actually in the Constitution by the US Supreme Court and it continues unabated:
    “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”
    LOOK, LOOK, AT WHAT THE SUPREME COURT HAS SAID: “unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” OR BEGET A CHILD, OR BEGET A CHILD, OR BEGET A CHILD MEANS THAT A CHILD BEGOTTEN IS A CHILD BEGOTTEN. The child begotten is a child begotten, not a clump of cells, not the product of conception, or the contents of the womb, A CHILD BEGOTTEN, A CHILD BEGOTTEN WHEN TWO BECOME ONE, A SOVEREIGN PERSON, A HUMAN BEING COMPOSED OF IMMORTAL, RATIONAL SOUL AND A HUMAN BODY IS A CHILD BEGOTTEN.
    Planned Parenthood has been swindling us.
    In Engel.v. Vitale, the SUPREME COURT SAID THAT THE ATHEIST “COULD GO HER OWN WAY”. The newspapers bannered PRAYER BAN. The atheist has been swindling us since then, taking away our civil rights to acknowledge our Creator of unalienable rights, our freedom of speech to God, our freedom of press and peaceable assembly by describing prayer as a crime. FREEDOM

  • Ome should be worried. The DOJ still sent a message much like it sent a message when refusing to prosecute Black Panthers in Philadelphia for voter intimidation. Thuggery is disguised in business suits and while Ms. Pine benefitted from a good referree in Judge Ryskamp, the next Ms. pine might find herself before Judge Ideology.

  • I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of this sort of thing. After all, the 120K
    settlement is only taxpayer money– Holder, the PWC and the attorneys prosecuting
    Mary Pine are not themselves out any cash. For them, I’m sure this episode is merely
    an opportunity to refine their skills at harassment and intimidation, at no cost to

    I agree with Cthemfly25: the DOJ succeeded in sending its message to those who
    would inconvenience the abortion industry. Next time the case might be decided in
    the court of a judge more amenable to the ideology of the administration.


Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen Loves Castro, Should Be Fired

Monday, April 9, AD 2012

In a Time magazine interview Ozzie Guillen, major league baseball manager of the Miami Marlins and home to the largest number of Cuban expatriates, said that “I love Fidel Castro–I respect Fidel Castro.”

Fidel Castro, along with Che Guevara, have committed countless murders of innocent civilians, incarcerated many more, and the rest exiled to America.  Needless to say Castro is a monster that will take his place on the ash heap of history quite soon.

He apologized but the damage is done.  He denounced Castro, but it’s almost meaningless.  Of course I take him in his sincerity and accept the apology, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to escape punishment.

There are some pundits and reporters say that this is America and we do have a right of free speech, so the Miami Marlins shouldn’t fire Guillen.  That’s where these pundits and reporters get it wrong, yes, Guillen has a right to free speech, but so do the Miami Marlins have a right to fire him in expressing their free speech as well.

The concept of free speech is that the U.S. allows it and they shouldn’t be persecuted for it by the U.S. government, but a private enterprise can do what they want.

Fire the guy.  He’s known to be a loud mouth and he had time to articulate his thoughts in a sit-down interview with Time magazine.  Plus the fact that he is from Venezuela where Hugo Chavez rules with impunity and is the Fidel’s BFF.  So I can see where his “love” for Castro is emanating from.

Continue reading...

26 Responses to Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen Loves Castro, Should Be Fired

  • Whoa there Tito! Don’t rush to judgment so quickly – I think we should just wait and see what Obama has to say on this before we come to any conclusion on whether or not Guillen should be fired.


  • I was thinking let’s not be like them raving liberals . . .

    Whether the team is winning . . .

    No, wait!

    How long would Guillen last if he said he loves and respects Adolf Hitler?

  • Fidel Castro is a hero of the American Left. About the only mainstream news media that says anything bad about him is the Miami Herald.

    Guillen is incomprehensibly stupid. South Florida has countless Latinos that fled Communist aggression – not just Cubans, but Nicaraguans who fled the Sandinistas, Venezuelans who despise Chavez, Colombians who fled the terror of the FARC and Peruvians who escaped the Sendero Luminoso.

    Guillen made no secret of his admiration for Chavez and his remarks about Castro will get him fired. You do not praise the Castros in Miami.

  • The remarks were inappropriate and the Castro regime is contemptible, but I think we need to stop insisting that everyone who says something stupid should lose his job. The author disliked Guillen(known to be a loudmouth) before the Castro remarks,so perhaps that is coloring his judgment a bit? Regardless, as he has apologized we should allow him an opportunity to redeem himself before demanding he step down. I am not a Guillen fan. But he should have a chance to experience the justified and understandable outrage of the community a bit, and then have a chance to make amends.

  • Chris C.,

    Nope, I’m not backing down.

    I’ve worked in management and have been blessed with great jobs working with some of the finest sports organizations in the country as well as working with some of the finest athletes anywhere.

    And when you have a $350million stadium opening up in Little Havana, you don’t want to start on the wrong foot by insulting your fan base on the most sensitive subject around.

    He should be gone. He won’t starve, he’s got millions in the bank and I’m sure there are other other major league teams that don’t have any standards that are willing to hire him.

  • Why is it that every time a public figure says something that is considered “unpopular” or “unacceptable” that he or she is forced to apologize or otherwise condemned to wear a scarlet letter for life and forever condemned to a lifetime of explaining or defending his or her views.

    Was not America built on dissent? Can we no longer express our genuine feelings without fear of public retribution and the scourge of mediaspeak and mediathink? America, once the guardian of the freedom of speech and protector of individual liberty, has devolved into a land of busybodies and snitches who like to point the finger of reproach and blame at anyone who would utter a minority opinion.

  • Joe,

    Like I said, Mr. Guillen can say anything he wants to say. He’s very well known for this and is a big boy.

    This is not a freedom of speech issue, but if you say so, the Miami Marlins also have the same right.

    This is a business issue.

    The Marlins baseball organization just got a new stadium built (estimates go as high as $600Million) with a new name trying to capture the Miami baseball market. Miami is home to the largest Cuban population in America.

    Logic dictates that you don’t insult your fan base in order to draw them to the ballpark. Especially if you have never before had a good attendance record, even after a World Series title.

    To have the face of the Miami Marlins, Jose Guillen, open his mouth and upset the fanbase that you are trying to woo is a poor business decision.

    Poor business decisions normally get you transferred, demoted, or fired.

    Considering that his area of expertise is managing and no other position is possible, the best business decision to make is to release him from all his duties.

    Case closed.

  • Tito,
    I don’t see where you have standing to close this case. Looking at this as a business issue as you do, I would think that task rests with the Marlins. It would not surprise me if they come to that conclusion, but nor would it shock me if they don’t. Guillen has a long history of saying things he later regrets. Most baseball fans don’t care all that much, especially if he apologizes appropriately. Perhaps Miami fans will be less forgiving, and understandably so, but I suspect the Marlins are in the best position to make that assessment.
    Sometimes it is appropriate to fire someone on grounds other than business. I don’t think that this offense rises to that standard.

  • Paul,


    It’s a poor business decision, but then again, hiring Guillen was a poor business decision to make in the first place, so they’re par for the course so to speak.


    We can agree to disagree.

    I could be wrong and the Marlins have blockbuster attendance, but I doubt that will happen (increased revenues), especially after the whole Castro-Fiasco.

  • The police speech are out in force as never before, hiding under the umbrellas of “political correctness” and “business decisions.” Yes, I am aware that freedom of speech has limitations and you don’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Of course, what everyone forgets is sometimes the theater is really on fire.

  • When last seen in public, Fidel Castro was seen warmly shaking hands with none other than the Pope. So here we have professing Catholics criticizing Guillen for “loving” Castro, as their spiritual leader no doubt does. But all “love” is not the same, is it? Oh, the irony!

  • Joe,

    First, the state of Florida is a “Right to Work” state.

    Second, Guillen can “love” the pope until the day he dies. He won’t be suffering from attacks on his life, nor hunger, nor poverty.

    You missed the entire point of the article.

  • Tito, I’m not sure where we disagree, unless you are saying that Ozzie’s statement was a firing offense regardless of business considerations. Or you think you are in a better position to assess the business aspects than the Marlins, which I don’t think you mean to suggest.

    If the Marlins have blockbuster attendance it would surely be huge news given recent history.

    Joe, you raise a fair point about the Pope, but I don’t see how this has anything to do with free speech, which is a right against government impairment not private action. The Marlins have their rights too, and that includes firing Ozzie if they think his statements were sufficiently offensive — even aside from business considerations.

  • Mike, I would be interested to see a clause in Guillen’s contract that specifically includes penalties for expressing his opinion about a foreign leader.

    Secondly, Castro dumped a lot of Cuban riffraff during the Mariel boatlift including hundreds of criminals. To assert that all Cubans who now live in Miami were politically persecuted or otherwise suffered under Castro’s regime is to ignore the tyranny of his brutal predecessor, Fulgencio Batista, who used his anti-Communist secret police and U.S.-supplied weaponry to carry out wide-scale violence, torture and public executions; ultimately killing as many as 20,000 Cubans. But at least he was our SOB, wasn’t he?

  • Joe,
    I have no brief for either Castro or Batista — they both brutally suppressed civil rights though at least Batista respected religious and property rights and had no interest in exporting his suppression. Basically, the distinction is the totalitarian (Castro) versus authoritarian (Batista) one identified by Jean Kirkpatick. Authoritarian regimes have little or no ideology — they are basically criminals who allow folks to do as they wish as long as it does not endanger their power. Totalitarian regimes are ideological and therefore seek to control the beliefs of their citizens. The distinction strikes me as a fair way to distinguish grades of evil, which is presumably why Batista was our SOB.

    I have no idea what Guillen’s contract says, but I would not assume it is dispositive in a particular way. I’m pretty sure that firing offenses are not listed with the kind of particularity you suggest though. We lawyers are not that stupid.

  • Mike, totalitarianism is authoritarianism taken to its extreme but is no less insidious in its results. To argue whether one is worse than another is much like debating which of two lethal poisons is deadlier. It doesn’t matter. They both kill in the end.

  • Not only should he be fired…he should be Castro-ated !

  • I disagree, Joe. The two differ not just by degree, but in kind. Any system that allows freedom to worship is better than one that does not. And authoritarian regimes tend to have more limited lifespans and are more likely to eventually democratize, precisely because they are rely on cult of personality to the exlusion of ideology. The fact that Batista was better than Castro is hardly a compliment to Batista, but nonetheless a fact that would have been foolish to ignore. Reagan was right to back authoritatian regimes when the alternative was worse.

  • Mike, kinda like backing Stalin over Hitler?

  • Not really, Joe. First, the regimes of both Hitler and Stalin were totalitarian, not authoritarian, and reasonable people can debate which regime was worse. Second, the USSR did not declare war on us; Germany did. Finally, Germany was simply the greater threat at the time. It was unsavory indeed to be Stalin’s ally, but it would have been far worse if Hitler had not chosen to make Stalin his enemy. That said, it is certainly embarrassing that neither FDR nor HST appreciated the depth of the USSR’s (and Stalin’s) evil till later than warranted.

  • The old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” position. Still, Mike, you argue persuasively, like any good lawyer should. Kudos to Don, too, for his usually cogent analyses.

  • Thanks, Joe. Yes, sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my ally, even if not my friend. An alliance with a villain can be risky and problematic, but sometimes all options are risky and problematic in which case one must choose the least imperfect. In these cases it is important that (i) one not delude oneself as to the nature of his ally (something I think Roosevelt did, at least for too long) and (ii) others not jump to the conclusion that the alliance is predicated on any real affection for the ally.

  • He just had a press conference in which he apologized profusely. I believe a second chance is in order. Consider your forgiveness an act of love. (Note that I too escaped the same regime he did.)

This is Too Easy

Monday, April 9, AD 2012


Sometimes I feel like I am shooting the proverbial ducks in the proverbial barrel.

Everyone knows what Barack Obama’s campaign slogan was in 2008. No one seems to know what it will be for 2012.   The White House has been cycling through catchphrases since announcing his reelection bid a year ago: Winning the Future, We Can’t Wait, An America Built to Last, An Economy Built to Last, A Fair Shot.

They seem to be looking for one to resonate — and the constant unveiling of new ones suggests that so far, none of them have. To communications experts, the kaleidoscope of slogans is the latest reflection of the difficulties finding and marketing a message that Obama has faced almost since his inauguration — another challenge that came with the shift from insurgent outsider to sitting president.   “He’s all over the place,” said Bruce I. Newman, the Bill Clinton brand-messaging adviser whose “Bridge to the 21st Century” helped define Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign.

Continue reading...

21 Responses to This is Too Easy


    or something as equally mindless. They’ll swallow it – after all they did last time. 🙂

  • Instapundit suggested he choose, “We Can Do Better!” before the GOP copyrights it.

    Here’s my suggestion: “Four More Years! America Isn’t Dead Yet.”

  • Lincoln’s admonition was made for Obama this year Don:

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

  • Obama/Biden 2012: An America Built For Last Place
    Obama/Biden 2012: Because Iran Needs Nukes
    Obama 2012: You Voted For Me in ’08 To Prove You Weren’t Racist; Vote For Me Again To Prove You’re Still Not Racist
    Obama/Biden 2012: Because There’s Still Too Much Freedom
    Obama/Biden 2012: Give Me Flexibility
    Obama/Biden 2012: Just Do It!
    Obama/Biden 2012: Because It Just Might Be Your Last Chance To Vote

    Donald – he only needs to fool just enough people one more time.

  • “Hope that change you have left pays the bills”

    “Because Communism has never really been tried”

    “Because the waters are still rising”

  • Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die leaving the bill for your children to pick up.

  • A Fair Shot — no, sounds like those gun nuts.

    A Fair Deal! It’s been used before? Really.

    A NEW Deal! That one too. Huh. Who knew.

    A new hand, a new deck, a new game, let’s make a new deal — hey, I’m thinking here! Do you have something to contribute?

    Maybe, let’s try the slots!

  • “Its my last election! 100% More flexibility!”

  • Who better to protect and defend the Constitution than a Constitutional scholar?

  • Ya know, the former governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm’s reelection exclamation would be spot on too. “In five years, you’ll be blown away!”

  • Keep Moving Forward

    It’s the perfect slogan. Simple, for the simple minds; sound bitish-y; pretty much devoid of content while sounding positive; implies progress was made, but does not disclose to what we are moving forward; offers abilituy to point to vague accomplishments; cultural tie-in to cute, upbeat animated film.

  • yes c matt– I thought right away of “Lean Forward” nbc is using that —
    and could just go ahead and give that to him with their other gifts to his re-election effort

  • “Trust Me”.
    “Keep warm and well fed”.
    I have talked to many people and their ignorance is bulletproof. Other people have told me that Obama muffed the oath of office to avoid giving credence to our Constitution.

  • We’re almost there … we can’t quit before it’s over!

  • ” Obama-Biden 2012 — Against Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion!
    (Your DHS is watching you!)”

  • “The Socialist ideal has not been tried & found wanting — it’s been found difficult and left untried.”

    “Tradition is the Democracy of the dead — but Chicago is MUCH more Democratic than that!”*

    *in fairness, I think some of his haste to get to the national level was about getting out of Chicago and Illinois politics, before he got trapped at that level by having to be a crook to be functional at all.

    Mary De Voe — iirc, it was Justice Roberts who muffed the oath. But O is going to do what he’s gonna do – and believes is RIGHT, and therefore must be [able to be made] Constitutional somehow – without resorting childish games on the order of crossed fingers.

  • How about….
    ” The CHANGE will be Complete!” or
    ” You Won’t Believe What’s Coming!” or

    God help us all if Obama gets back in!

  • Thank you. S. Murphy. Some good sense in Justice Roberts just did not want Obama sworn in as Chief Executive, or was it Obama’s evil beginning to bring us all down?

  • anzlyne says:
    Monday, April 9, 2012 A.D. at 11:30am
    yes c matt– I thought right away of “Lean Forward” nbc is using that –
    and could just go ahead and give that to him with their other gifts to his re-election effort
    nbc needs to spell correctly. It is LIEN FORWARD

  • love it– chortling –
    Laughing Out Loud really

  • Mary DeVoe: I think it was just a mistake… Also, Obama’s not evil. His views on abortion support evil, but he’s not reveling in the idea of piles of tiny dead bodies. He thinks he’s protecting women from unjustified suffering. He thinks he’s protecting freedom. He really means it. I went to college at the University of Chicago. Not all the faculty were or are that aggressively pro-abortion, but most of them are Lakefront Liberals; and they all think they’re truly concerned (and most of them really are) about the poor on the South Side; and most of them believe what their social set believe about ‘reproductive freedom.’ Not all – St Thomas the Apostle Parish had a good Respect Life group when I was there (20 years ago) – and not all South Side priests are Fr Pfleger, either.

“Lapsed” Catholics…

Monday, April 9, AD 2012

In 2007, a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study reported that one-third of Americans were raised Catholic but slightly less than one-third of those (~11% of all Catholics) stopped practicing their faith in the sense of “stopped attending Mass.”

That raises the question, “Why are those people not attending Mass?”

A USA Today article discussed a recent study of 298 people—67% of whom were women—who stopped attending Mass in the Diocese of Trenton (NJ).  The study indicates they did so for three reasons:

  • personal reasons: “the pastor who crowned himself king and looks down on all,” “the Church’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal,” “divorced and remarried Catholics are unwelcome at Mass”;
  • political reasons: “eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing”; and,
  • doctrinal reasons: “don’t spend so much time on issues like homosexuality and birth control.”

Nearly 50% of the respondents offered negative comments about their parish priests, whom they described as “arrogant,” “distant” and “insensitive.”  Some also called for better homilies, better music, and greater accountability on the part of parish staff.  And, despite the fact they no longer attend Mass, nearly 25% of the respondents still consider themselves Catholic which, in fact, they are.  They’re just “lapsed” Catholics.

One of the study’s co-authors, Villanova University professor Charles Zech, believes the responses aren’t local but have broader implications that “affect the whole Church.”  Zech divided the responses into two categories: “the things that can’t change but that we can do a better job explaining” and the “things that aren’t difficult to fix.”

The Motley Monk would note that the phenomenon of lapsed Catholics isn’t anything new in Church history, especially during times of persecution.  Given that history, whether the fact that ~11% of Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton didn’t attend Mass in 2011 is high or low, The Motley Monk doesn’t know, and whether or not that statistic should raise “red flags” is open to debate.   It would seem there will always be a certain percentage of “lapsed” members for any religious tradition.

If lapsed Catholics can’t accept the Church teaching and it’s political or personal implications, what The Motley Monk doesn’t “get” is why they don’t find a religious denomination that will provide them exactly what they want?  After all, although the Church should never give up explaining those “things that can’t change but that we can do a better job explaining,” The Motley Monk doesn’t think many lapsed Catholics are really that much interested in having those things explained all over to them yet another time.  They’ve made up their minds and have decided they don’t agree with Church teaching.  That’s why they’ve lapsed.

However, with nearly 13% of respondents in the Trenton study indicating they would welcome a call from a Church official—they even provided their names and contact information for that purpose—and with many more respondents indicating they were pleased to be asked for their input, it would be important for them, their parish, and the diocese if the bishop, the pastor, or a priest did contact them in an effort to see if those “things that aren’t difficult to fix” can be fixed.

But that’s where Zech’s analysis sends up a red flag for The Motley Monk.  He notes:

The fact that they took the time to respond gives us a chance.  If some things change, or we do a better job of representing the church’s position, we might woo some of them back.

It’s the “If some things change…” clause.

When it comes to Church doctrine—for example, the sanctity of marriage, the male priesthood, the sanctity of life, artificial birth control—The Motley Monk would guess none of that’s going to change any time soon, if ever.  Reiterating that fact to lapsed Catholics, The Motley Monk thinks, there’d quite likely be very little chance to “woo” those respondents back.

What’s The Motley Monk to tell them, “Come on back. [wink] All of that stuff is the creation of man and doesn’t have anything to do with God”?


To read the USA Today article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:


Continue reading...

58 Responses to “Lapsed” Catholics…

  • “Why are those people not attending Mass?”
    Sleeping in is so inviting on a Sunday morning. Really, I think in many cases it does not get much deeper than that. To more than a few people religion has about as much importance to them as algebra does to a dog.

  • Donald, if it were just a matter of sleeping in, they could go to Saturday evening mass or masses later in the day (they might need to go to a different parish, but the options are likely there).

  • The reasons stated are convenient excuses that bare no truth.

    Sleeping in, especially from a hangover, are more likely the truth for these people.

  • It’s likley that many see the “here and now” as more important than the “hereafter.”

    Maybe that is due to decades of ignoring the True contents of Gospels; imperfect catechization; peace and justice; human dignity; pop psychology in simpering sermons; feel-good pabulum; “There is no such thing as a bad person.”; . . .


  • I was looking online for the original Villanova study, but I couldn’t find it. I have a problem with the USA Today article’s three categories. I mean, “personal” includes the rule against divorce, “political” includes conservative statements from the pulpit (and I’m guessing those aren’t anti-immigrant or anti-captial-gains-tax), and “doctrinal” includes homosexuality and birth control. So they’re potentially all about the same thing, Catholic teaching about sexuality. And realistically, “pastor…looks down on all” and “insensitive” are probably roundabout ways of complaining about Catholic sexual teachings, too.

    So, how many people really are opposed to Catholic sexual teachings, and how many are using them as an excuse to explain their absence from church? I hope the study asks that question.

    Personally, I’m not all that worried about the changable/unchangable formulation. After all, the doctrine can’t and won’t be changed. There’ve always been people who want it to change, and it never happens. If the easy changes are things like improved communication, better music, et cetera, we should all welcome them.

  • In my experience lapsed Catholics fall into two sometimes over-lapping buckets. The first includes Catholics who simply prefer a religion that conforms to their own moral preferences. Most, but not all, of these folks consider themselves liberals. Second, are Catholics who seek a type of community aesthetic that is found in evangelical congregations. They wish to be entertained each Sunday, and find Catholic Masses unsatisfying from an emotional or aesthetic standpoint. These folks disproportionately consider themselves conservatives.

  • “The reasons stated are convenient excuses that bare no truth.”

    I agree with Tito.

    These are nothing more than the lies people tell themselves to justify their decisions to some pollster when pressed for a rational response to an emotional issue. You could do everything they say and they would find new excuses just as quickly.

    There is no need for polls. When the Church performs its mission with the fervor and holiness that it is called then people will tend to listen. And when it doesn’t people will tend to fall away. I can just see St.Peter taking polls now.

  • Paul – Actually, yeah, St. Peter gathered the followers together and took a poll in Acts 1. Then they created the deaconate after a focus group.

  • Pinky- Yeah, and look how that turned out!

  • In my experience, so focused on folks who are a bit over thirty down to early twenties, middle class or so, fairly well educated, not a lot of exposure to strongly religious folks or overt religion:

    Going to Mass is a big hassle if it’s not important. Kind of like making time to exercise– there’s a vague notion that it’s Something You Need To Do, but most folks are only going to do it a couple of times a year.
    The folks that do go to church regularly tend to be pretty quiet about it; for Catholics, it’s really rare to speak up about even the most gross misunderstandings of Church teaching. A lot of folks who consider themselves Catholic don’t even know much about what the Church teaches– and about a third of what they “know” isn’t true, and it’s really rare for the “why” of the rest to be known.
    No culture of faith, no real reasons to be doing something, so why go to the bother of showing up unless it’s Christmas or Easter or something?

    The folks who are religious geeks can be driven away by some of the folks in the Church organization– I’m still bitter about how I was treated trying to get married in the Church. (Short form: the only way to set it up was by calling a specific number and leaving a message. Never got so much as a call-back.)

    If the Church were a business, I’d have some rather scathing words for their advertising department.
    That would be…um… all of us, too. While I’m amused that I’ve got some understanding of the habit of each generation to be largely motivated by a reaction to what was wrong when they were growing up, I really wish the formation classes I had were higher quality and that I’d had godparents that actually spoke to me! (In all fairness, one of my godparents was dead before I even have memories, and the other died before I was a teen…but the concept is sound!)

  • The “It’s largely about sex” option is a big deal, too.

    I’m kinda startled that ONLY 11% of the Catholics in an area were lapsed– I’d have to guess that either they didn’t count the C&Es as lapsed, or there was a lot of fudging going on.

  • knowing many lapsed Catholics personally, I say it is what Mr. McClarey said at the top of this list– they are just not that into it…and they are perfectly comfortable with their new Sunday morning routines.

    a snark warnng for what I am going to say here:
    There are those who say they can go out and pray in the field or the woods next door– they don’t need to go to church to pray– COP OUT – maybe they would start to come back to the Church IF when it came time for their loved ones funeral we said, – oh so sad why don’t you go out in the field and talk to God about it.

  • Donald: Sleeping in is so inviting on a Sunday morning. Really, I think in many cases it does not get much deeper than that. To more than a few people religion has about as much importance to them as algebra does to a dog.”
    There is 12:00 P.M. Mass on Sunday afternoon and the 5 P.M. vigil Mass on Saturday, so sleeping in does not matter. Their immortal, rational soul is denied by our cultrue, their dignity is assaulted at every turn, their sensitivity and common sense is insulted and derided, their mind is dumbed down and their spirit is crushed by the militant evil in our midst. If the jackass in the Bible could talk, the dogs will start doing algebra and loving it.

  • “Donald, if it were just a matter of sleeping in, they could go to Saturday evening mass or masses later in the day (they might need to go to a different parish, but the options are likely there).”

    True Anil, but I was using that as shorthand for people too lazy to make any effort for their Faith. Additionally, they probably received in badly done catechism the vague idea that all “good” people are going to Heaven anyway so why bother. They are complete strangers to this passage from Revelations:

    “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

  • If, in a poll, a reasonable, intellectual sounding excuse is offered for lapsing, the lapsed will grab at it, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the real reason they left. Because the truth is embarrassing. Laziness. Sex.
    I’m not saying everyone who lapses falls into these two categories, but I think they represent the majority.

  • For myself, I have a Mother in Holy Mother Church and a Father in our Holy Father and I am an orphan no more.

  • Of course there are lapse Catholics…when dragged to church as a kid, boring…terrible or no music, don’t understand the old testament, baptized without accepting Christ into my life…there will be people in this pile that will lapse, but see themselves as Catholics – probably go 3 – 4 times per year.
    Catholicism is DIFFICULT and when there is a priest that does not resonate, motivate, move, educate…well then I can see others drifting as well.
    And to the Sunday morning…I know too many Catholics that prefer Sunday football and a nice leisurely Sunday morning…in many churches I see mostly women.
    Fortunately, in my church we have; two GREAT Fathers, three AWESOME choirs (Spanish, English and Teen), with extremely talented music ministry from the heart and a community of congregants that truly support the church and each other.
    Take a look at the christian rock scene…that’s why you’re getting more kids/teens again.
    Music is VERY important…we love being entertained while receiving a great message.

  • That reminds me:
    I don’t know how wide spread it is, but confession REALLY needs to be worked on! My first confession, nobody bothered to tell me what the heck was going on– I seem to remember I made up a sin to confess on the spot. (It was broadly true, but that’s not good enough!) Don’t get me started on the therapy approach to confession, either…. *oy*

  • Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been —- since my last confession and these are my sins.

    I always end it with: These are all the sins I can recall Father, but I am heartily sorry for any sins I can’t recall.

    When it comes to confessions, I remember the rule of the three B’s:

    Be blunt.
    Be brief.
    Be gone.

  • Donald- last time I could get in to confession, it was with a Naval priest. He spent half the time asking me if I’d ever considered suicide. I’m afraid I scared him when I finally growled that if things were that bad, I’d be more likely to commit murder than suicide, and he never did say something to the effect of “do this penance, your sins are forgiven, go out and sin no more.”
    Last time I waited in line for confession but couldn’t get in, I’m still not sure if the Priest was joking when he came out and told the lady ahead of me that “your sins are forgiven, because Father is late and needs to go get changed for Mass!”

    I know that growing up, I was in a sort of special case area– but Seattle is kind of a major area, so I’d hope that the priests are a bit higher quality, and I still have no clue. :^(

    I really do have a point, here: teaching the young is a major, major, MAJOR important thing. We can’t trust that the Church will be doing it correctly. (Heck, I didn’t know that the CCC even existed until I was nearly 20 and got hooked on Jimmy Akin’s blog. Since then, I haven’t met a single “Former Catholic” who DID know it existed– and my experience tends towards geeks, who would be all over that kind of thing.)

    John Paul the Second was an outstanding Pope for… oh, heck, I don’t know quite how to put it, the kind of folks who watch Reality TV and can rattle off the movies their favorite actor has been in. The folks who LIKE media. He knew it, and he used that strength– I didn’t realize it because he was old my entire life, but WOW did he use his God given strengths.
    B16 is, if we can just use his strengths, a perfect Pope to appeal to the geeks. He’s not just intellectually amazing– he’s got a love for his “fandom” that speaks to folks like me. I just wish I had the first clue how to show that to the sort of bright folks who have fallen away from the Church, especially those who are sold the bill of goods about Agnostic views being the smart thing. Goodness, I was able to pull some of my geek buddies into a sort of friendly view of Catholic theology by using Natural Law as a religion for a dungeons and dragons game. John Wright is an example of the kind of person that our current Pope would be very effective in bringing home.

    Incidentally, I will be stealing your three “Be”s format the next time I try to get into confession.

  • Fascinating. Confession is a topic we never talk about in the blogosphere. Everyone talks about the Mass, but no one talks about Confession, which is weird because it’s the second most common sacrament.

    I can think of a couple of reasons for this. What happens on the altar is more visible than what happens in the confessional. And it should be. The mass is a common (as in shared) experience, but confession is private. Confession is more interactive. And it’s harder to talk about – although internet anonymity should dilute the embarrassment somewhat.

    But here we are as a people calling out for our priests to present better liturgies. Why don’t we complain more about the lousy confession schedules? I mean, 4:35pm – 5:30pm Saturday evening!? Why do we put up with that? And, arguably a priest can have more impact on a person’s spiritual life as a good confessor than as a good celebrant. I’d love to see more discussion about this.

  • I’d love to see more discussion about this.

    Well, I’d like to give a Bravo-Zulu shout-out to our local Wacky Priest (retired, but substitutes a Sunday a month) for, the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, opening up his sermon with a loud’n’proud: “I’m glad to see how many holy people there are here, because I sat in the confessional alone for an hour before Mass– only one person needed to talk to me!”

    Nice balance of humor and shaming, plus reminding folks that confession is important. I disagree with him on pretty much EVERYTHING that isn’t obligatory, but Father Dude has style.

  • “He spent half the time asking me if I’d ever considered suicide.”

    Touchy, feely priests in confession are bad news, and don’t get me started on the abomination of face to face confession. The best confession I ever had was with a crusty old priest who told me after I enumerated my sins that I was going to Hell if I didn’t mend my ways and gave me enough Our Fathers and Hail Marys for a penance to keep me busy for awhile! ( He was a friendly, under circumstances not touching upon sin, old Irish-American priest, who did the marriage instruction for myself and my wife. My wife who was Methodist at the time found the priest absolutely charming and very informative about the Church and I think started her on the path to conversion.)

  • Donald: Stage fright, forgot everything, but everything, and said so. I think God was saving the priest. The priest gave me absolution and the blessing. People are not supposed to write any sin on paper. Consider that the priest spends his life waiting for us in the confessional box, no great place. To me it is an upright coffin, and I better get used to it. At one time, I confessed a sin and the priest laughed so hard I thought the box was going to tip over. God is good. The priest acts in persona Christi when the priest performs the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as only an ordained priest can.

  • When I came back into the Church about twenty years ago, I struggled with many of the same objections many lapsed Catholics and others make. So, I do sympathize with them to a great extent. And actually the Church herself does as well:

    “For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, yet its members fail to live by them with all the fervor that they should, so that the radiance of the Church’s image is less clear in the eyes of our separated brethren and of the world at large, and the growth of God’s kingdom is delayed. ( Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio #4) ”

    And given what has taken place within prominent “orthodox” Catholic apologetics and writers circles wiithin the last six years in addition to other scandals, the problem is much worse than most people think.

    But my sympathies notwithstanding, as my own personal experience attests to, this does not relieve them or any of us of the responsibiity to do our due diligence to look past the grave failings of certain members (especially members of influence) of the Church to honestly consider whether or not “… the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace”. Therein lies the hard rub.

  • “and don’t get me started on the abomination of face to face confession”

    How exactly is this an abomination, Donald? Whatever problems there are with priests misusing their roles as confessors, it has nothing to do with whether or not you go face to face or behind the screen. Neither way is intrinsically better. As for me, I find it better to go face to face because it takes more guts to look the priest in the eye and confess my sins. I have used both methods. I have to admit when I have gone behind the screen, it was because I was too afraid to go face to face.

    After all, when we sin, we sin not only against God, but the Church and man as well. And likewise we are reconciled with all the above when we are absolved. I believe Christ instituted the sacrament the way He did to drive that point home to us. Otherwise, the Protestant form of confessing to God alone would be the only sensible means.

    Like I said, either way, face to face or behind the screen is just as good as the other. Let’s make sure we discern an apple from an orange shall we?

  • Confession. Nowadays I don’t mind face-to-face, but don’t use it in a regular confessional, but it seems to be falling out of favour – not being utilised much – but there is an increase in the use of Rite 2.
    But I would not dare go F t F in my younger day – didn’t want my parish priest to know it was me spilling out my litany of abominations – even spoke in a whisper so he wouldn’r recognise my voice 🙂

  • “How exactly is this an abomination, Donald?”

    Because Confession isn’t a therapy session Greg.

    The priest is there purely as an alter Christus. I am not there to pour out my heart to a friend but to have my sins absolved. It reflects a fundamental confusion about the sacrament. Like most truly bad ideas that became popular in the wake of Vatican II, I hope it dies out with the generation that helped foster it. The traditional confessionals worked, as indicated by the long lines waiting to use them. Since Vatican II few Catholics regularly confess. Face to face confession is not the sole cause of this, but it reflects the mentality that helped bring this disaster about. Cure of Ars, saint of the confessional, pray for us.

  • True Confession story: I go one Saturday afternoon. You know. I have real sins to confess. In front of me is a saintly, elderly woman. Sez I to meself, “This ought to be quick. What sin could great-grandmother have to confess?”

    A half hour later . . .

  • Don,

    I never said confession is a therapy session. The face to face mode doesn’t, in and of itself make it that way Don.

  • In RE: Pinky’s comments concerning the Sacrament of Penance.

    I have a hypothesis that, by no means is “provable,” but my anecdotal evidence suggests is accurate.

    Simply stated, my hypothesis is: “There is an inverse relationship between the perceived value of a homily by members of the congregation and the number of parishioners who participate in the Sacrament of Penance.”

    I have noticed that my “toughest” and “most aggressive” homilies are those that treat generally of matters that have been confessed. These homilies also happen to be the ones the largest number of parishioners “praise.” Internet pornography, how marriages breakdown and don’t have to breakdown, failed romances, the culture of death and artificial birth control, office place immorality, impatience with spouses/kids, lack of charity in the household, etc., get real “in your face” and “up front” when I speak of facts that have been related to me in the confessional rather than throwing out some pious platitudes.

    My observation is that people in the congregation become more attentive to a homily when it’s based upon real, lived sin because they have themselves or know someone who has committed the very sins I am discussing. It’s easy to see this phenomenon in the congregation because many—not just a few—“less-than-otherwise-interested” members of the congregation (especially teenagers and 25-40 year old males) suddenly perk up and look like they’ve got “deer in the headlights” syndrome.

    This also appears to have been something St. Augustine recognized as a bishop. His homilies are replete with real, lived experiences of sin on the part of his congregations…as well as of his own sin. Augustine confessed not only in his Confessions but subsequently in his homilies. Congregations would be scandalized today to hear from their bishops what St. Augustine related about himself in many of his homilies. They are fascinating reading.

    I’ve mentioned my hypothesis to congregations on several occasions, noting “If my homily is boring today, perhaps it’s because I’m not speaking to your experience of why you need the Church. Have you gone to confession lately?”

    While more people may be listening attentively, I can’t say as a result the folks are streaming to confession, however.

  • “The face to face mode doesn’t, in and of itself make it that way Don.”

    It’s all part of the package Greg. One of the problems with the implementation of Vatican II has been taking things that worked and replacing them with things that manifestly have not worked over the past four decades. The old confessionals worked in attracting huge numbers of penitents who confessed their sins on a regular basis and received absolution. It was all familiar and effective. Then the tampering began. Rename the sacrament Reconciliation which takes the focus off the confessing of sins. Let’s make it face to face to allow the person of the priest to get in between the idea that the penitent is confessing to God with the priest granting absolution. Let’s transform a sacramental rite into a conversation between friends. Religious rites can not be changed without consequence, and I think the move away from confessionals has been a graphic illustration of this truth.

  • As for me, I find it better to go face to face because it takes more guts to look the priest in the eye and confess my sins.

    Took a while to figure out what bugged me about this….
    Why on earth should one want to make it harder for someone to reconcile to God?

    Yes, bravery is good and should be cultivated. Not going to Hell is better and should be the first priority.

    Confession isn’t supposed to be about the man-that-is-a-priest, he’s there in Christ’s stead.

    Want bravery? Do the other Protestant form of confession– public confession at the Sunday gatherings.

    Sure, it would drive folks to hide their sins, instead of confessing them to God and being granted forgiveness– but it takes more guts!

  • As a Catholic, what is confounding to me is why do people even WANT to be part of an organization – be it religious, fraternal, social, etc. when they don’t agree with the basic tenets or mission of the organization.

    You wouldn’t join the join the scuba club if what you really wanted to do was ski so why be a Catholic if you don’t agree or choose to ignore the Church’s teachings.

    There are so many options out there for individuals who want to follow Christian teaching, but not Catholic teaching. Isn’t it more authentic to become a practicing Episcopal or a enthusiastic Lutheran than remain a “lapsed” Catholic?

  • “… to allow the person of the priest to get in between the idea that the penitent is confessing to God with the priest granting absolution. Let’s transform a sacramental rite into a conversation between friends.”

    I disagree…just based on my own experience. when I enter the reconciliation room I can stop and kneel before the partition, or I can walk around it an kneel in front of the priest. I don’t engage him in a conversation, My head is bowed, my eyes lowered and I confess my sins at his feet. I do try to be brief–an improvement over the days when my husband used to tease me about needing to pack a lunch.
    The idea that having the person of the priest be visible takes away from his Alter Christus presence doesn’t seem true to me… he is not behind a screen at anointing of the sick, at mass…
    ..also confession is theraputic; and box confessionals were not part of the early church — invented in Ireland I think in the 6th or 7th century.

  • The peninent’s identity must remain anonymous, and no name must be mentioned in the confession. I believe these are the rules. Be Blunt. Be Brief. Be Gone. No fraternizing with the priest. When in Ireland, recently, a law was passed to force a priest to report an abuser to public authorities, no consideration was being given to the fact that uncorroberated testimony is hearsay in a court of law. Who besides God heard the sin? The Seal of Confession, privileged information, professional privilege cannot be undone. Only a fool says it can. The testimony of two witnesses is required to establish a judicial fact in a court of law. Were the court to accept the testimony of one witness as truth, as evidence, only when he is dying, oherwise, he said, she said…ad infinitum. The Sovereign Catholic Church is not subject to the state in any instance.

  • The Motley Monk: When my grandson heard his sin mentioned in the homily he became very much afraid, and asked how that can happen when his sins are to be private.

  • Divine Mercy Sunday is April 15. So much better to speak of Divine Mercy than reminding one’s parishioners of their sins.

  • Mary:

    A couple of responses…

    1. Yes, what a penitent says in the Sacrament of Penance is bound by the strictest of confidentiality. No doubt about that. The penalty to a priest for breaking the “seal of confession” is severe. At the same time, sins happen to be generic—lots of people commit many of the same sins—and these can be discussed, as I mentioned in my previous response. Some even argue that sins should be discussed and aren’t being discussed for a variety of reasons. The psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger’s Whatever Became of Sin? is a classic read in this regard.

    2. It’s entirely possible that someone, like your grandson, will hear a sin that he has confessed mentioned if/when a priest discusses sin in a homily. Perhaps your grandson wasn’t as much afraid as he was embarrassed, especially if the priest mentioning the sin was the priest your grandson went to confession to. I’m not a mind reader, but I suspect the priest said something like “The temptation to lie to one’s parents…” not “I know a boy Johnny who lied to his parents.” In turn, that made your grandson fearful…and I am assuming, of returning to the Sacrament of Penance. If that’s true, your grandson personalised something that wasn’t personal.

    3. “So much better to speak of Divine Mercy than reminding one’s parishioners of their sins.” Undoubtedly true, but let’s not forget that the content of Divine Mercy is for sins committed…God’s “gracious” mercy. That’s Dr. Menninger’s point…discussing and knowing about sin stimulates sentiments of repentance and conversion to experience God’s mercy. Perhaps this isn’t a good analogy but speaking only of Divine Mercy is like talking to your grandson about dessert but not offering him a piece of pie. Where I think you are correct is “balance.” People don’t need to be continuously reminded that they are sinners and told exactly how they are sinning. But the opposite situation is equally out of balance.

    Just some thoughts.


  • why do people even WANT to be part of an organization… when they don’t agree with the basic tenets or mission of the organization

    An age old question. Probably no single answer, and to some extent can’t really be answered. But that has never stopped me from taking a stab at answering.

    The Church is not just any organization. In fact, it’s not really an organization at all – it is more a family. Most people don’t leave their family because they disagree with mom or dad’s view on such and such. You see a similar phenomena with political parties – regardless of the disagreement with the party platform or the subpar candidate, the person always votes Dem or Rep. It becomes sort of a tribal thing.

    Also, at a visceral level, these folks may understand and believe that the Church is what it claims to be, notwithstanding their disagreement. They may rationalize their disagreement in many ways (this teaching is not truly binding, maybe it will change, following my conscience trumps this teaching, this teaching is not that important as long as you are basically a good person, etc.). But at a fundamental level they sense what (or more properly Who) is there and don’t want to leave.

  • When in Ireland, recently, a law was passed to force a priest to report an abuser to public authorities, no consideration was being given to the fact that uncorroberated testimony is hearsay in a court of law.

    I remember that kerfuffle. What has become of that law? Is it still in place?

    That brings up a whole lot of issues. Evidence, in a legal sense is a creature of the state, and the state can decide that what privileges will be recognized or what testimony is admissible. Whether the state’s determination is fair or just or good is a separate question. As is the priest’s duty to maintain the seal. Depending on the hearsay rule of the particular jurisdiction, the confession may be an exception to the hearsay rule (admission against interest is probably most common). But even if it is admissible, that does not mean the priest can violate the seal, regardless of what the state may require.

    Also, reporting to the state agency is different from whether or not that report is ultimately admissible as evidence in a court. There are a lot of things that people may be required to do as part of an investigation that never see the light of day in court. But again, regardless, the priest is under a different duty to maintain the seal, and such a legal requirement puts him in a difficult predicament.

  • “at a fundamental level they sense what (or more properly Who) is there and don’t want to leave” yes– that gives us hope doesn’t it..

  • Unfortunately lapsed Catholics can easily turn into fallen-away Catholics. The Church correctly defines this spiritual disease as of one of the Seven Capital Sins–Sloth. Spiritual sloth, if unchecked, turns into heresy and even apostasy. The faith is a treasure and needs to be treated as such.

  • The reasons given by people don’t make sense at all!

    – “don’t spend so much time on issues like homosexuality and birth control”?? …
    I have almost NEVER heard any of this discussed from the pulpit!

    – “eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing”?? …
    Again. Where on earth is this actually happening? Because maybe I would like to attend there!

    – “divorced and remarried Catholics are unwelcome at Mass”?? …
    Just about every parish I have ever attended has had the opposite message: EVERYONE is welcome!

    I think the bottom line is that most Catholics are simply ignorant of their faith, and they just don’t know what they have.

  • Pingback: Anonymous
  • What DPierre wrote.

    Also, I agree with Tito and PaulD who both said the reasons given are “convenient excuses.” C’mon, if “the Church’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal” were genuine reasons for as many people as claimed, then what about the U.S. government’s handling of its many scandals – wouldn’t at least a third of Americans be expats by now?

    When I saw Foxfier’s remark, “If the Church were a business, I’d have some rather scathing words for their advertising department,” I smiled. (The Church’s customer relations department is weak too. Probably explains why so many customers have left and gone to other ‘vendors.’) And I agree with Foxfier’s wish that, “the formation classes I had were higher quality and that I’d had godparents that actually spoke to me!”

  • I am always a little defensive about blaming the CCD teachers! ( having taught from 1979 when my oldest entered school until 2006 when my youngest was 18) besides– look at what I just read on the “Quiz time” post from Adrian
    “15 out of 15. And that is with public education!!!!!”
    Remember that when Jean Marie Vianney went to Ars, the condition of catechesis in the Church was deplorable– I don’t think there has been a time in history when catechesis did not depend upon willing interested students. Vianney’s answer was not to beat up on the Church Ladies Who Had Tried– but to pray, to enter the battle himself, and teach what he knew– although other more educated priests in that general time and place didn’t think much of his level of understanding or education
    I am still teaching and still have wonderful students– now I am teaching adults but the premises are the same– the student teacher relationship is a reciprocal one.

    while I’m here, I’ll also share my little thought that we might consider ourselves the Church’s customer relations department–

  • Anzlyne-
    showing up is the #1 thing that must be done, but they really need to be able to teach eager students. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t even know the CCC existed. I won’t get started on the things we were taught that weren’t so. The volunteers meant well, but that doesn’t really help fix things when they drive people away from the Church with false teachings, does it?

    I’m always very defensive on this point, because I talk to former Catholics of my age and interests a lot; almost invariably, when I get talking to them, the “shape” of when they stopped believing was an unacceptable binding teaching…that existed only in a teacher’s mind. Teacher in the generic, not specific. Since I’m around geeks, it’s usually either something incredibly stupid [generally from misunderstanding] or they feel they were wronged; usually lied to, sometimes attacked. The reasons they’ll give are different, and the sex and sleeping in part keeps them away, but there’s genuine hurt with added defensiveness.

    My mom was a volunteer teacher for ages, so I know what you mean. Probably part of the problem is solving itself, but it’s something that really needs to stay in folks’ minds.
    Just like parents need to know that they should be willing to make waves to make sure their children get the education they need, and not automatically trust that their children are being taught what they’ve been assured they will. Sadly, they need to remember that sometimes the priest is wrong, and how to figure out when that is, and what to do about it.

    B16 strikes me as the perfect Pope for this problem; JPII made the Church “cool” again, and B16 can draw the laity to get smart.

  • Hello,
    I consider myself a former cathloic as I have not attended mass on a regular basis since 1979. Since then I have attended a Baptist Church, a non Denominational church and since 2004 a Christin Church. The last sacrament I received was confirmation in the 1970’s. I have been to the Vatican in 1985, I cried when Pope John Paul died, I pray for Pope Benidict, much of my family still attends mass at their local parish and yet I have an issue with some of the key beliefs and tenats of the Cathloic Church. As the begining I present Matthew 23:9 that we should call no man on earth Father but Jesus. I will most likely never have the chance to meet Pope Benedict in this life, but i am sure he does not consider himself to be any more than a man. I have never, even as a child believed that one man could absolve another, “No man comes to the Father but by me (ie, the lord Jesus Christ) Romans 3:23. I have a friend that is a Roman Cathloic priest and although i do not question his belief in my Lord Jesus Christ, I will say that through grace are we saved through faith, not of works lest sany man shall boast” Ephisians 2: 8 and 9. I love my cathloic heritage and I would charge the gates of hell to defend it, I believe that no man weather he wears a Roman collar, a tie, a sweatshirt or anyone that has not shown respect to Gods chosen few is better than anyone elce; we are all equal. I pray God will free our minds.

    M. Conklikn

  • Michael Conklin
    Thirty three years ago you left the Roman Catholic Church and have been receiving teaching and preaching in various denominations. Unfortunately some of the discussion you may have heard about the Church may not have been a true picture of what the Church actually teaches.
    A timeline of our church history shows the One True Church beginning with Jesus– it also shows how the other denominations branched off. That is the key part… all these other good sincere people branched off. and when they branched off, they left the “wholeness” behind…. along with the priesthood, and the Eucharist. These branches still hold allegiance to Jesus Christ and to many truths, but they are missing some aspects. Some of this is caused by misunderstanding or not clearly thinking about the issues.
    You believe in the Truth of Holy Scripture > remember that St. Paul called himself Father of his flock in Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:15) “Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
    Paul calls the Galatians his children (4:19) and he tells the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:13,) that he spoke to them as he would to his children. Paul saw himself as a spiritual father to his congregations.
    The title of “father” referred to the elders in the Church. Paul tells Timothy to exhort the elders as fathers (1 Timothy 5:1). So a Catholic priest, as a successor of the apostles is called “Father” according to this tradition found in the Bible. St. John, was one of the 12 apostles and had heard Matthew 23:9, yet he calls the elders of the Church “fathers” (1 John 2:13-14)  
    Re-read Matthew 23. He is talking about how the Pharisees have seated themselves on the chair of Moses- apparently appropriating some authority to themselves— assuming a title and a role that wasn’t really theirs
    If we are to understand the Bible we have to understand it all in context—that all verses work together to get the message to us…we can’t just focus on one verse, without understanding it in the bigger picture.
    Pope John Paul was full of the the Love of God and the Holy Spirit and touched our hearts! It is wonderful that you are open to recognizing the holiness of these Catholic popes, beloved of God, even though you have some misunderstanding of what the Church teaches and why.
    “No man comes to the Father but by me (Jesus Christ)  Romans 3:23. We Catholics believe that right along with you. Jesus is Lord! I will tell you also that Catholics do not believe that we save ourselves by our good works. Thank you for your open and loving heart and willingness to defend the Church. I too pray God will free our minds and protect us from deception.

  • Donald, you surely must be joking about half the things you say. Dismissing the reasons given in the article (I’ll openly admit, some of which are stupid) in favor of such a broad generalization as “sleeping in” — whether used in a vague context or not — is nothing less than laughable, as well as demeaning. I think the worst part of it is that such an excuse tends to avoid the core of the issue, which I’m surprised nobody has brought up yet.

    Is faith a gift or a decision?

    Operating under the former assumption, it’s quite easy to explain the emotional struggle involved with “leaving the Church” as one would a bloody soccer team! And, a lot of what keeps Catholics lapsed is the constant onslaught of judgemental behavior from the Church itself, much of which is blatant here. Keep in mind the difference between “judgemental” and “critical of sin.” I don’t believe at all that everyone makes it to Heaven, and it’s crucial to make known the realities of Hell — but it’s also important to back that up with sound logic instead of an empty, paternal “because-I-said-so” attitude. Unfortunately, that’s overwhelmingly present in the Catholic community today, from behind the pulpit or in the pews. It’s impossible, of course, to generalize based on the numerous comments here that speak to the other side of things, but it does no good for any of us to ignore the problem at hand.

    Also, I’d like to hear what the Motely Monk thinks about the question above, if it’s not too much trouble.

  • “Donald, you surely must be joking about half the things you say. Dismissing the reasons given in the article (I’ll openly admit, some of which are stupid) in favor of such a broad generalization as “sleeping in” — whether used in a vague context or not — is nothing less than laughable, as well as demeaning.”

    You left out the most important attribute of what I said John: it being true. For all the elaborate excuses given for Catholics falling away from the Church, I think simple laziness is going away the top one. We live in a slovenly and lack-a-dasical age, and many people simply cannot be bothered to exert even minimal effort about many aspects of their life, including eternal salvation.

  • In response to John’s question “Is faith a gift or decision?”

    Most of the comments in this discussion have emphasized the “decision” side of the formulation and, it seems to me, that has “everything backwards.”

    The Church is clear: Faith is “gift,” as all is gift, from God. Faith is not something a human being creates and then develops by making decisions.

    What the discussion should focus upon, TMM thinks, is the virtue of religion which is not, as many people believe, a “fixed” quantity. No, the virtue of religion falls along a continuum, ranging from “too little religion” (a vice) to “too much religion” (a vice). Examples of the extremes are easy to conjure up in one’s mind. But, for the sake of this discussion, it is a vice for an elderly person to risk injury to life and/or limb to attend Sunday Mass when a winter ice storm has descened upon the locale, just as it is a vice for that same elderly person to watch the Mass for Shut Ins at home early on Sunday morning because that individual doesn’t want to get dressed and drive to Mass at the local parish.

    As a virtue, religion and its practice requires that a decision be made—what does the virtue require of me at this time, in this place, in these circumstances—so that the virtue becomes rooted in one’s character. Then, one’s character not only exudes the virtue of religion to the degree that individual has decided, but that individual also bears personal responsibility for the decisions one has made about the place of religion in one’s life.

    And, if one believes in an afterlife, those decisions have consequences beyond this life.

    But, faith is a “gift” as all is a gift…not a decision.


  • “For all the elaborate excuses given for Catholics falling away from the Church, I think simple laziness is going away the top one. We live in a slovenly and lack-a-dasical age, and many people simply cannot be bothered to exert even minimal effort about many aspects of their life, including eternal salvation.”

    Of course, the vice of sloth is easy to cultivate when we fail to see the importance of the thing that demands effort.

    Yes, faith is certainly a gift. It is something we cannot make or merit. However, we must a decision as to whether or to accept that gift and use it.

  • Excellent commentary, TMM.

    I’m not sure. What about cases wherein people refuse the gift of Faith?

    The Gospel parable of the seeds falling on various soils may provide spiritual guidance.

    I think in the Gospels, Jesus speaks about those disciples that God had given Him. And, how He only lost one, Judas. And, that (maybe I don’t understand it correctly) was pre-ordained.

    While I agree with your example on too much virtue being not good, I think we should strive for moderation in all things, except virtue. Of course, it’s difficult to be minimally virtuous, so extreme virtue is highly unlikely.

    In my life, the continuum has been constant change, good and bad, ups and downs, hopefully moving to a good end. I am in this world and I do the best I can in my vocation as parent and provider. But, I constantly remind myself that I am not of this world and must act accordingly: so far with limited success. I am trying to “turn the corner” on this.

    This is why we need Holy Mass, and the Gospels and Epistles, and Holy Scripture, and Holy Mother Church, and the Sacraments, and prayer, and Holy Preachers such as yourself.

  • Donald, I do see your point, but just because the survey didn’t offer “laziness” as an excuse doesn’t do away with the rest of them. For many people, I would imagine the ones most likely to even participate in a survey like this, these are legitimate reasons. If it really does all broil down to a lazy attitude, I doubt they would have agreed to take the survey in the first place. I’m not trying to start an argument, though, I just want to make sure we’re handling this with an attitude of compassion. Speaking from experience, nothing is more detrimental to a lapsed Catholic than when he or she is still treated like an outsider, especially by those who preach about the Prodigal Son. Unfortunately, it’s often that very same hypocracy that drove them away in the first place. It is our duty as practicing Catholics to educate ourselves, and to change that.

    Much thanks to TMM and Tshaw for the great answers. God bless.

  • Donald, I do see your point, but just because the survey didn’t offer “laziness” as an excuse doesn’t do away with the rest of them.

    That isn’t what he said. Why are you arguing against it?

    If it really does all broil down to a lazy attitude, I doubt they would have agreed to take the survey in the first place.

    There is a world of difference between a short survey and getting up, each and every week, and spending two hours at something that is not fun or important to you.

    Speaking from experience, nothing is more detrimental to a lapsed Catholic than when he or she is still treated like an outsider, especially by those who preach about the Prodigal Son.

    BS. Being told that what you’re doing is no big deal is far, far more detrimental. Also from experience– not just mine, but that of those I have become friends with, and those who were wounded by revealing what they knew to be a grievous fault, only to have it brushed off as nothing.

    Unfortunately, it’s often that very same hypocracy that drove them away in the first place.

    Hypocrite: those who claim something is right without actually believing it.
    Say, maybe those who say that going to Mass on Sunday is required, but then say that not doing so doesn’t mean much?

    Nah, that’s just mutually contradictory claims, not hypocritical motives. It can at least be defended as meaning well and acting from love.

Pope Benedict Easter Vigil Homily

Sunday, April 8, AD 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  Easter is the feast of the new creation.  Jesus is risen and dies no more.  He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death.  He has taken mankind up into God himself.  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50).  On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994).

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Pope Benedict Easter Vigil Homily

  • A happy and blessed Easter to all American Catholic bloggers and commenters!

    It is sometimes hard for me to remember. but although sin and death surround us, they do not have the final word, because He is Risen.

  • In the Holy Father’s sermon there are two images that are particularly striking to me:

    “Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars in the sky are no longer
    visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment?”

    “… the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol:
    the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch
    as it is burnt up.”

  • I am an Episcopal priest who hangs on every word the Pope says. He is the world’s preeminent preacher, scholar and author.

Christus Victor

Sunday, April 8, AD 2012

O Christ, You Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Your Parent, You self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Your Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!

You suspend the firmament, You heap together the soil, You pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish. Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that You might rescue man, Yourself also became man: nor were You willing only to be born with a body, but You became flesh, which endured to be born and to die. You undergo funeral obsequies, Yourself the author of life and framer of the world, You enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Christus Victor

  • Happy Easter, Donald, and to all out there reading The American Catholic.

  • Happy Easter Paul, and to all the contributors, commentators and readers of TAC!

  • Happy Easter All!

    Desire a strong faith.

    Think of Our Lord’s glorious triumph, when on the third days after His death, He arose from the tomb and for 40 days appeared to His Blessed Mother and his disciples.

  • In our Easter sermon, we heard how there’s no story about moving the stone away from His tomb, but that it was moved so the Marys could see that He wasn’t there any longer only to hear from the Angel waiting for them. Father suggested we could look at the stone symbolically as our sin which closes us away from Jesus when we let it remain – it can keep us from a new life in Christ. Then, for the forty days He remained with the Apostles and Blessed Mary from the breakfast He had with them to passing through locked doors, He could show them (and us) about the promise with faith of glorified bodies for eternity.
    Happy Easter for all.

2 Responses to Attende Domine

  • Stood on the sidewalk yesterday outside an abortion mill with fellow Catholics, singing hymns. The one that really touched my heart was Pange Lingua. There is something timeless about the Latin hymns that can connect the centuries and give a sense of not only continuity but also connection with the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering.

  • I cannot imagine a better way to have spent a Good Friday elm.

Good Friday and Me

Friday, April 6, AD 2012

When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”.

Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis

Christ died for me.  The death of Christ on Calvary has immense theological significance:   the salvation of all mankind, the redemption from sin and the opening of the gates of Heaven.  I understand all of that on an intellectual level.  However, on Good Friday the fact that the Creator of All died for me, one of His creations, always hits me like an emotional freight train.  All of my life I have been fascinated by courage, especially sacrificial courage where men die to protect others.  We are such a flawed species, but capable of the heights of nobility when love and courage combine.  Then we put aside the great fear of death, and truly understand why we are here:  to love.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Good Friday and Me

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Friday, April 6, AD 2012


(I post this each year on Good Friday.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

Continue reading...

21 Responses to Report to the Emperor-First Draft

  • This is very moving. You said you post it every Good Friday, so I assume you did not write it. Who did?

  • No, it’s my own composition George; I simply re-post each year. Thank you for your kind words.

  • I have read this for the last couple years and have enjoyed it each time. Very well done.

  • My first time reading it….most excellent as it makes the politics of the Crucifixtion both real and topical. I am curious how you came up with the idea and I can see where your love of history was sated by the effort.

  • Thank you cthemfly25. Whenever I am studying a period of history I will try to put myself in the shoes of historical actors and see the world as they saw it. I find this enhances my understanding of both them and the times in which they lived.

  • This is the first time I read this post, Donald. It is now shared on facebook and Goggle blogger. Thanks. I hope my Pentecostal brothers and my sister read it – they know nothing of the historical circumstances surrounding the Crucifixion and I think that this gives excellent background on how Pontius Pilate may have wanted to be careful in his characterization of this event to Tiberius Caesar in the wake of Sejanus’ death, and Caiaphas’ intrigue. It’s too bad real history isn’t taught in public school any longer!

  • This is the first time I read this all the way through, and realized that you wrote it, Don! This is really great — it ought to be more widely published.

  • ” I, Donatus Marclarius, hereby confirm that I witnessed this instruction given by Pontius Pilatus to his secretary Marcus, and swear by the God Jovis that it transpired as he has wriiten.
    May the gods give long life to our illustrious Imperator Maximus Tiberius Caesar.”


  • “It’s too bad real history isn’t taught in public school any longer!”

    Too often the life is sucked out of the history taught in schools Paul and replaced with politicized drek. Blogs I think can help to redress the balance and restore history to its central role for any educated man or woman.

  • “This is really great — it ought to be more widely published.”

    If it were possible for me to blush Elaine after 30 years in the law mines I would be!

  • ” I, Donatus Marclarius, hereby confirm that I witnessed this instruction given by Pontius Pilatus to his secretary Marcus, and swear by the God Jovis that it transpired as he has wriiten.
    May the gods give long life to our illustrious Imperator Maximus Tiberius Caesar.”

    No doubt one of my ancestors Don journied from Hibernia to teach the Roman legions how to fight. (Taken from what my great uncle William Barry said as he joined the Royal Army in 1939: “Someone has to show the Limies how to fight!”).

  • If it were possible for me to blush Elaine after 30 years in the law mines I would be!

    Ah Don………Too much cutting dulls even the sharpest blade.

    Dunno who said that, but I’m sure it was someone much more illustrious than me.

  • This is an excellent post, Don. Thank you.

    How intriguing it is that 300 years after the Crucifixion, it was the Roman Empire that was converted to Christ and the ancient pagan religions of Rome faded away.

    How amazing is it that after the Western Roman Empire faded away, the Catholic Church remained where Rome once ruled, to fight off and defeat the Muslim invaders, discover the New World and evangelize most of the Western Hemisphere.

  • All of the above. Perhaps it will become a script for a documentary. I would like to see that happen. I had little idea of the political intrigue involved and always assumed that anybody who wanted Jesus dead had absolutely no humanity.
    Don the Kiwi: Donald is not “dull”. Donald knows when he ought to blush and why he does not. Donald may be saving his blushes for heaven. Donald’s response to Elaine is precious.
    Elaine:I have always enjoyed your response to postings, but this one, from Donald, I would save.

  • Donald McClarey: Your great uncle was William Barry. Are you related to Commodore John Barry, Father of the American Navy, whose wife was Mary Clary (or Cleary)? and who was born in Ireland?

  • Penguin Fan, thank you for your kind words. A non-Catholic English historian Lord Macaulay said it best more than a century and a half ago about the Church and History:

    “There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”

  • “Are you related to Commodore John Barry”

    Alas no Mary. My great great grandfather Barry came over from Ireland and settled in Newfoundland in circa 1870. He was a tough old bird. According to my mother he regarded pews and kneelers as Protestant innovations, and at Mass he would stand in the back of the church and kneel on the stone floor. When my mother in her childhood observed this, he was in his eighties. I am sorry that I never got to meet him.

    Here is a post I wrote about Commodore Barry:

  • Donald: It would appear that your great, great grandfather Barry and John Barry were related in spirit.

  • I am also a first timer…but ended up reading this several times; (which I recommend BTW…easy to miss stuff the first read).
    Sent to my scripture study group after it came up as a discussion on the political aspect of Pilate and the Pharisees.

Screen Pilates: Hristo Shopov

Thursday, April 5, AD 2012

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone and Barry Dennen may be read here, here and here.

Without a doubt the screen portrayal of Pilate seen by the most people around the world is that of Bulgarian actor Hristo Shopov in Mel Gibson’s hugely successful Passion of the Christ (2004).  That is good, because it is a superb portrayal.


Shopov portrays Pilate as a coolly in charge Roman prefect in public, but in private he unburdens himself to his wife Claudia who warns him that Jesus is a holy man and he must not condemn Him.  Pilate repeats his query to Christ about truth to his wife.  His truth he tells her is that the Emperor has warned him that if there are any more rebellions in Judaea, he will pay for it with his own blood.  If he refuses to execute Jesus he fears that Caiaphas will lead a revolt, but that if he executes Jesus the followers of Christ might revolt.  I believe this was a key fear of the historical Pilate and he did not order the execution of Jesus until he decided that a revolt by the rent-a-mob of Caiaphas on Good Friday posed the far greater threat.

Continue reading...

22 Responses to Screen Pilates: Hristo Shopov

  • My vote goes to Rod Steiger.

    For what it’s worth I have never bought Pilate as reluctant executioner. His soldiers marched Jesus to Golgotha, they nailed him to the cross, he wrote the sign “King of the Jews”. HE must have given the order at some point.

    Would he have preferred Jesus be killed by a Jewish lynch mob or executed by Herod? I’m sure. But that doesn’t let him off the hook. I also suspect that since the Gospels were written as Christianity began being preached to the Roman world (and the Church’s breach from Judaism) maybe Pilate is painted a little better and the high priests even worse.

  • Both are very good portrayals, but I have to go with Steiger. Pilate might have had a qualm or two, but I think the way Stieger portrays it is more likely. Sort of a dsinterested bureaucrat who has to keep dealing with these crazy religious fanatics and their equally crazy prophets. He may have had a hint of something a little different about Jesus (especially after his wife’s dream), and personally thought him harmless, but then it passes and he gets back to buisiness as usual, and more important to him, politics as usual.

  • Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian. Pontius Pilate was supposed to be the Governor. No one could countermand his decress. “WHO is TRUTH?” Pilate knew. “BEHOLD THE MAN” “KING OF THE JEWS”. Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt, an arrogance so great, that even in the presence of God, Pilate could not humble himself. History gives us reasons for Pilate’s pride, self-preservation, Roman’s orders, the lack of and non-use of authentic authority, (a sin and crime of the High Priests). Jesus authenticated and empowered Pilate’s authority: “you would not have power over me if it had not been given to you from above” at this point Pilate could have assumed his authentic power given him from above and released Jesus and gone home and slept peacefully. Pilate could have given Jesus assylum, to prevent the High Priests from their crime, knowing that he was protected by heaven. The Romans did believe in gods. Our Creed says: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” The newer translation reads: “He suffered death and was buried”, leaving Pontius Pilate out. Pontius Pilate never assumed the sovereignty assigned to him.

  • The Romans did in 79AD, what Pontius Pilate ought to have done.

  • “For what it’s worth I have never bought Pilate as reluctant executioner.”

    I do. If Pilate had been concerned about Jesus he would not have had to have Caiaphas force his hand. The inscription on the Cross was a Roman custom of explaining why someone was being put to death. Rebellion against Rome was the only excuse that Pilate could think of to justify the execution. Having the inscription: “Innocent man executed so that the mob of Caiaphas does not revolt.” would not have gone over well either in Jerusalem or Rome. Caiaphas was doing this during Passover when Jerusalem was crowded with visitors and it wouldn’t have taken much to cause a revolt, and that was the main concern of Pilate.

    “My vote goes to Rod Steiger.”

    A fine performance although my vote goes for Richard Boone who portrays Pilate as a military man which I think is what he essentially was.

    “Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian.”
    A pious legend with no historical foundation.

    “Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt,”
    I think he was filled much more with incomprehension and “What is that sneaky rat Caiaphas up to now? What trap is he laying for me?”

    Of course one of the many interesting facts regarding Pilate is that his verdict was necessary for our salvation. I think that was what Christ was getting at in his refence to the power granted to Pilate. Pilate, a gentile, sentences the Jewish Messiah to death and thus unknowingly helps bring salvation to gentiles and jews.

  • I greatly admire Rod Steiger’s version, but I have to go with Shopov. I found the way that Gibson showed the duel between Pilate and Caiphas very effective. “He’s Herod’s subject.” But Herod sends him back. “OK, I might release Barabbas (think Charles Manson here, or any other mass murderer).” Caiaphas says, “Go ahead.” Then Pilate thinks, “OK, I’ll beat him half to death.” Then when he shows the much bloodied Jesus to the crowd, thinking that will surely be enough (it’s really bad, he’s nearly dead anyway, how could anyone want more?), Caiphas says “Kill him.” And Pilate has allowed himself to be pushed into a corner. He even tries the “Isn’t he your king?” path, also countered by Caiaphas with “We have no king but Caesar,” implicitly saying to Pilate, “Do you?” I though it was all brilliantly done. Many people were impressed by the courtesy Pilate shows Christ, but here I have to go with C. S. Lewis in “Screwtape”: Pontius Pilate was merciful, until it got RISKY. Pilate’s courtesy gains him nothing at all, and his cowardice loses him everything.

  • I liked Passion of the Christ for many reasons but two stand out for me. The scene of the resurrection at the end where the shroud is slowly deflating as the camera pans up to Jesus who so serenely walks out of the tomb. No flash light or roar of sound; just as if someone woke up. I think it must have been that way. God wouldn’t have needed showy effects.

    The other reason that stands out for me is the performance of Rosalinda Celentano as Satan, especially her scream of frustration when Jesus dies, signifying that our salvation is possible and Satan will now have to work for souls.

  • Donald R. McClarey:
    Having the inscription: “Innocent man executed so that the mob of Caiaphas does not revolt and taxes will no longer be sent to Rome.” Reads more like the truth.
    “Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian.”
    A pious legend with no historical foundation.
    Claudia was loving and supporting of Pilate when a centurion announced a rebellion. Pilate dumped Claudia and her dream and her truth and murdered an innocent man. I could live with incomprehension, but I could not live with a murderer of innocent blood. Pilate had Jesus before him, Pilate could have asked for pardon for himself. I go with the pious legend with no historical foundation, rather than believe that Claudia chose to remain with a murderer of innocent blood. Yuck. Can anyone imagine being touched by an unrepentant murderer?
    “Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt,”
    I think he was filled much more with incomprehension and “What is that sneaky rat Caiaphas up to now? What trap is he laying for me?”
    Pax Romana was a law that stated the everybody dies until peace is restored, irregardless of guilt or innocence. Perhaps, Pax Romana was how the Romans were enabled to crucify Jesus Christ. Pilate also had the authentic authority through Pax Romana to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did and wipe out the Jews the way Rome did in 79A.D., long overdue. Pharisee has become another word for religious hypocrite.
    “Of course one of the many interesting facts regarding Pilate is that his verdict was necessary for our salvation.”
    Pilate, like Judas was free to exercise his free will, up until the day he, Pilate died. Judas, the Zealot, like Barabbas, wanted Israel free of the Romans. Pilate wanted to continue sending taxes to Rome. Wiping out the temple would have brought no taxes to Caesar. They all had a vested interest in seeing Jesus die.
    “ I think that was what Christ was getting at in his reference to the power granted to Pilate. Pilate, a gentile, sentences the Jewish Messiah to death and thus unknowingly helps bring salvation to gentiles and Jews.”
    I think Jesus Christ was establishing Pilates’ sovereign personhood, over himself, and his authority to rule, a source of complaint from Pilate. How Pilate ruled was all according to how Pilate exercised his free will and sovereignty. Even Scripture would have been written differently, if Pilate had used his free will and sovereignty to uphold Justice and respect an innocent man, Jesus Christ.
    Perhaps you have read it as it was in The Wanderer and can be found at JURISDICTIONARY website; a piece written by a judge who studied the trial of Jesus. It is called THE TRIAL OF JESUS. It, too, is very interesting.
    Say one Hail Mary for me, Donald, and thank you for this wonderful blog.

  • George Haberberger:
    The tear that fell from heaven was God mourning his only Begotten Son. God, Jesus Christ’s Father experienced every suffering and pain His Son experienced. “I and the Father are ONE. The Blessed Virgin Mary was there too, to receive all of God’s children into her heart before Christ descended into hell giving all mankind a choice: to stay with Mary or attend to hell with Jesus. Satan could not separate Jesus Christ from His Father to destroy the Triune God, which is what every evil doer ultimaltely is intent on doing.

  • “I go with the pious legend”

    People can believe what they wish Mary, but there is simply no historical support for that belief. Christianity is based in history, and I believe it is essential that we adhere to the historical record in this matter as in all matters.

    “Pax Romana was a law that stated the everybody dies until peace is restored, irregardless of guilt or innocence. ”

    Untrue. The Pax Romana, which was not a law, ultimately brought peace and prosperity to more people than any system before it, and more than most systems since it. A good book on the subject is Empires of Trust by Thomas Madden:

    “Pilate also had the authentic authority through Pax Romana to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did and wipe out the Jews the way Rome did in 79A.D., long overdue. ”

    First and only caution Mary. I am very sensitive to attacks on Jews. Any hint of anti-Semitism on the part of a commenter and I ban them. I do not believe that was your intent, but your words could be subject to that interpretation.

    The First Romano-Jewish War came to an end in 73 AD, so I am uncertain what your reference to 79 AD is. It was followed by two other wars involving rebellions by the Jews of Judaea in 115-117 and in 132-135. Jews always remained in Palestine so the Romans never succeeded in wiping them out, no matter how much they tried.

    “Pharisee has become another word for religious hypocrite.”

    The moral teaching of the Pharisees, and their belief in everlasting life and the resurrection, was the same as that of Jesus. Jesus attacked the Pharisees not for their teaching, but because they did not live up to it. Some Pharisees followed Jesus, most notably Nicodemus, who was also a member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus spares almost no time condemning the Saducees or the Romans, because they were so far from the Truth. The Pharisees were close to the Truth and hence the rebuke, as a father admonishes a cherished son.

    “Even Scripture would have been written differently, if Pilate had used his free will and sovereignty to uphold Justice and respect an innocent man, Jesus Christ.”

    Ah, but Christ had to die for our sins and He had already foretold his death. To what degree Pilate truly had free will in the matter, and to what extent he was merely, on this occasion, a tool in God’s hand is intriguing.

    “It is called THE TRIAL OF JESUS. It, too, is very interesting.”

    I believe I read it long ago Mary. The trial of Jesus is fascinating on any number of grounds: theological, historical, legal and many others.

    “Say one Hail Mary for me, Donald, and thank you for this wonderful blog.”

    Thank you for your kind words Mary. I have said a Hail Mary for you and I hope you will say one for me.

  • “The tear that fell from heaven…”

    I didn’t make that connection when I saw the movie but yes, it is a better metaphor than it just started raining.

  • I believe this was a key fear of the historical Pilate and he did not order the execution of Jesus until he decided that a revolt by the rent-a-mob of Caiaphas on Good Friday posed the far greater threat.

    I agree.

  • Donald: I am distressed that my words may be taken as anti-semitic. I have some Jewish blood in me. My words about Caiaphas are tempered by “to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did.” Too many of my relatives perished in Poland helping the Jews. 73 AD it is. Historical facts only. God is before all ages and the Author of Holy Scripture. If Pilate had no free will, then Pilate would be innocent of Christ’s blood, but if Pilate was the only person who had the authority to have Jesus crucified…? The best thing I can say about Pilate is that his was a lost vocation. It is Good Friday and I am laughing trying to defend my ignorance of so much. I only ask for a Hail Mary as I am saying a Hail Mary for the petitioned.

  • George Haberberger: All rain drops are tears from heaven. The ocean is an ocean of God’s tears, but sometimes, the ocean is full of Our Lady’s tears. Mary was still walking the earth so this tear was God, the Father’s tear.

  • “Donald: I apologize”

    Don’t worry about it Mary. I do not, especially on Good Friday.

  • Donald: Thank you and a Happy Easter

  • Happy Easter to you and your family Mary!

  • I watch The Passion of the Christ at least once a year. I have seen it several times and am amazed what a fine piece of celluloid it is. It is not a script put to screen; it’s a meditation. It is tribute to classical Christian art.

    There are so many little details to appreciate in each scene, like the many visual connections between scenes. For instance, Jesus at The Last Supper pulling back the napkin to reveal the bread in the basket which will become his body. The scene cuts immediately to the soldiers pulling Jesus’ cloak off to reveal his body. And some of the easier ones to spot, like Jesus looking at the soldier’s sandal and thinking of the night he removed the sandals of the Apostles to wash their feet.

    Hristo Shopov did it just right. One thing I appreciated about his performance was his body language, especially facial expressions. It might be because the film was in a dead language, but his motions really added to the role. I don’t think Pilate was ho-hum disinterested; I believe he would have rathered not have had to deal with the hand he was dealt. But, he had to and so he did.

  • Hristo Shopov plays Pilate two times. The second time in the 2006 movie ‘The Final Inquiry’.

  • Thank you RB2, I was unaware of that.

  • As my brother blurted out during The Movie on Good Friday evening, “Best Pilate EVAH.”
    I believe it may be the Coptic tradition that honors both Claudia and Pilate as saints. God’s mercy is an ocean I’d like to fall into.

The Left Suddenly Uncomfortable with Concept of Judicial Review

Wednesday, April 4, AD 2012

Don has covered President Obama’s not too subtle threat to the Court that it not dare strike down all or even part of Obamacare.  Yesterday he somewhat toned down his remarks, but still managed to step in it.

At an appearance this afternoon, a reporter asked Obama a question following up on yesterday’s comments: “Mr. President, you said yesterday that it would be ‘unprecedented’ for a Supreme Court to overturn laws passed by an elected Congress. But that is exactly what the court’s done during its entire existence. If the court were to overturn the individual mandate, what would you do, or propose to do, for the 30 million people who wouldn’t have health care after that ruling?”

Obama’s answer to the question was that he expects to win in court, and “as a consequence, we’re not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.” He went on to talk at some length about the “human element”–that is, people who would supposedly suffer in the absence of ObamaCare. Message: Obama cares, though not enough to spend “a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.”

But the most interesting part of his answer was the beginning, in which he tried to walk back, or at least clarify, his statement from yesterday. He spoke slowly, with long pauses, giving the sense that he was speaking with great thought and precision: “Well, first of all, let me be very specific. Um [pause], we have not seen a court overturn [pause] a [pause] law that was passed [pause] by Congress on [pause] a [pause] economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned [pause] at least since Lochner,right? So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.”

As James Taranto points out, this response is wrong on multiple levels.  The case that Obama cites in fact pre-dates the New Deal by a good thirty year.  Second, the full title of the case – Lochner vs. New York – tells us that this was a case involving state law, not federal legislation.  As Taranto further explains, there have been plenty of Supreme Court cases in which the high court struck down state laws, some dealing with economic matters.  And there of course have been plenty of cases where the Court has in fact declared federal statutes unconstitutional.  In fact two cases in the late 90s – US v. Lopez and US v. Morrison – directly implicated the commerce clause, and in both cases the Court rendered a 5-4 decision overturning acts of Congress which relied upon the commerce clause for their justification.

But other than that, I guess Obama was spot on.

The broader issue, other than Obama’s seeming ignorance of constitutional law, is that the left has suddenly decided that they don’t much care for this concept of judicial review.

Continue reading...

36 Responses to The Left Suddenly Uncomfortable with Concept of Judicial Review

  • Much of the Left is going through a collective melt down that is a pure joy to behold. They really did buy into the malarkey that Obama was going to be FDR II. Now that he has turned out to be, on his good days, Jimmy Carter II, they are left to rant against the Supreme Court to attempt to save the miserable ObamaCare, the sole accomplishment of the Obama administration, unless they consider an accomplishment the amassing in three years of the amount of debt it took the Bush administration eight years to run up.

  • I rarely disagree with Don (or Paul for that matter), but my take on Obama’s commentary differs. I don’t think he is registering any discomfort with the concept of judicial review. He is simply claiming that the Court should be deferential to the legislature rather than activist in its own understanding of its role. And he is pointing out that this is a conservative principle that should be embraced by a conservative Court, implying that to do otherwise would be hypocrisy. Of course, the real hypocrisy rests with Obama et al who normally have no problem with judicial activism trumping state or federal legislation that they find disagreeable.

    I think the claims that the administration is somehow suggesting that an adverse ruling by the Court would be invalid or illegitimate are over the top and largely just grandstanding attempts to score rhetorical points. When he suggests that the Court would be over-stepping its powers to strike down the mandate Obama is saying exactly the same thing that we conservative said, and quite correctly, with respect to the Court’s decision in Lawrence. We were making a claim on the merits, as is he. No one is suggesting that the Court is without the legal power to render a decision with which many will disagree and honestly believe is wrong and therefore an inappropriate exercise of authority.

    With respect to judicial activism, this case presents a clash of two conservative principles. First, courts should be uphold laws even if they disagree with them, as long as they are constitutional. In other words, courts should not confuse their policy preferences with constitutional boundaries. Second, courts should respect the fact that the Constitution allocates only limited powers to the federal government, with those unallocated (including general police powers) resting with the states, subject to the Bill of Rights. Opponents of Obamacare are relying on the second principle to trump the first. Obama and other proponents are citing the first principle as a tactic to convince the Court and the American public that the mandate is constitutional, even from a conservative perspective — nothing out of bounds about that really.

    Finally, I don’t think that Obama’s inference of hypocrisy misses the mark completely. The mandate issue is not an easy one. On the one hand, plainly it is an attempt to regulate interstate commerce. But doing so by requiring people to purchase a product whether they want to or not was almost certainly beyond the comprehension of the Framers and also without precedent. But nor is their precedent to the contrary. As odious as this legislation is to me, I do not consider its constitutionality an easy question. just because the Framers may not have envisioned an expansive federal government does not mean they didn’t give us the architecture to allow for it.

    Obama is a terrible President for a host of reasons. We hardly need to manufacture any phony ones — and I think this one really is phony.

  • Perhaps it’s not a direct refutation of the concept of judicial review (though in the case of Dowd, she is certainly implying as much). What Obama is doing is casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Court’s decision, and I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this in various corners on the left over the coming months. I do honestly think that his original comments were made in attempt to sway the Court. Plan B is to convince the public that the Court is usurping its legitimate authority.

    Do I put it beyond Obama to try and make an end-run around the Court? No. At least, there is greater than zero chance that he would try and pull an Andrew Jackson. I’m not saying it’s likely, but sadly there is a chance.

    As odious as this legislation is to me, I do not consider its constitutionality an easy question.

    I do, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that question.

    We hardly need to manufacture any phony ones — and I think this one really is phony.

    I’m not sure it’s phony to point out that Obama is attempting – as usual – to demagogue an issue in order to cover his ass.

  • Obama’s minions are taking up the cudgels in support of his bullying of the Court. David R. Dow, Cullen Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, calls for the impeachment of Justices who vote against ObamaCare if they strike down ObamaCare.

    What makes this hilarious is that Dow wrote a book called America’s Prophets: How Judicial Activism Makes America Great.

    Mike, I have a huge amount of respect for you, as you know, but there is nothing phony about this issue. Obama knew precisely what he was doing when he picked this fight with the Court. This may well become the major issue this year, after the economy.

  • In 2008, it was “Hope and Change!”

    In 2012, it’s “Obey me!”

    They don’t know how to think. They only know what to think.


    Plus, clueless Prof. Dow ain’t too smart. He apparently confused which SCOTUS impeachee he was ranting over.

    From an Instapundit commenter.

    “He’s not even writing about the right justice.

    “Samuel Chase is the justice who was impeached in 1805. Salmon Chase was the chief justice appointed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864.”

  • If they can make you buy health insurance, what else can they make you buy or make you do, or . . . ?

    The New York Sun: “Ex Parte Obama”

    “It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a presidential demarche as outrageous as President Obama’s warning to the Supreme Court not to overturn Obamacare. T he president made the remarks at a press conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. It was an attack on the court’s standing and even its integrity in a backhanded way that is typically Obamanian. For starters the president expressed confidence that the Court would “not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” . . .

    “It is outrageous enough that the president’s protest was inaccurate. What in the world is he talking about when he asserts the law was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”? T he Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act barely squeaked through the Congress. In the Senate it escaped a filibuster by but a hair. T he vote was so tight in the house — 219 to 212 — that the leadership went through byzantine maneuvers to get the measure to the president’s desk. No Republicans voted for it when it came up in the House, and the drive to repeal the measure began the day after Mr. Obama signed the measure.

    “It is the aspersions the President cast on the Supreme Court, though, that take the cake. We speak of the libel about the court being an “unelected group of people” who might “somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” This libel was dealt with more than two centuries ago in the newspaper column known as 78 Federalist and written by Alexander Hamilton.”

  • For the record, Dowd is an idiot shill. Who cares what she thinks. Dow is also a shill, if not an idiot. He, like many college profs, doesn’t have a bone of academic integrity in him. It may be that these fools are doing Obama’s bidding, but I don’t think one can fairly tease that from the words that Obama has actually spoken. Obama is not attacking judicial review — he is asserting that his legislation is constitutional if considered under a conservative lens. It is not a silly argument, even if hypocritical. Moreover, while Obama failed to mention Lopez and Morrison those cases really don’t help opponents of Obamacare aside from the fact that they stand for the proposition that the commerce clause is not a blank check.

    Finally, regarding impeachment of judges for rendering disagreeable decisions, Dow’s position is silly beyond measure. The mandate question is unprecedented and the commerce clauses reach in that context cannot be easily discerned from the words. Unlike Paul, I can see merit in both arguments. Roe and progeny, however, not so. The Court just fabricated law to suit its policy preferences and in so doing truly did act outside the scope of its power. But even the most conservative jurists did not call for impeachment or governmental disobedience of the decision, although the case for such would at least be tenable. Professors like Dow are whores.

  • “Professors like Dow are whores.”

    Now that we agree on Mike! 🙂

  • Was the DOMA subject to “executive” judicial review when the DOJ, I believe, as ordered/requested by Mr. Obama publicly announced that it would no longer defend that piece of legislation passed by both houses of congress or was that merely an act in contempt of congress, which is ok when the executive branch has “issues” with legislation but is not ok when the, constituionally mandated, judicial branch has problems of its own with legislation it is required to review?

    Why has this man not been removed from office? Oops, I forgot, he is demagogue
    and they control the senate.

  • Speaking of lousy law professors, how bad must Obama have been?

  • Pinky, I can only imagine. The guy thinks Lochner was a commerce clause case involving the scope of Congress’s commerce clause powers. Yikes. What a dope.

  • Well, I certainly didn’t mean any disrespect. And I’m sure he’s an excellent law professor, when he’s in his comfort zone. But apparently making precise public statements about the most basic elements of Constitutional law is outside that zone. See, I’m not a lawyer, so I would’ve thought that ability was important. That shows how little us non-lawyers really understand.

  • Gee, where was Maureen Dowd after Roe V. Wade?


  • Rush suspects that Obama is playing dumb, to some extent, and is playing to the lowest common denominator. I suspect there is something to that. That said, yeesh, I pity any future lawyers trapped in a classroom with him.

  • Late in commenting. Just my typical hell fire and brimstone. I don’t expect there to be any justice on this earth.

    Every single one of us mortal human beings are going to be subject to Judicial Review. We will on that Great and Terrible Day be judged by the Supreme Justice Himself, and that judgment will be based on our deeds. Those who today call the murder of the unborn the right to choose, and the filth of homosexual sodomy civil rights will stand before the Great White Throne with no excuse, facing eye ball to eye ball the Almighty Himself. May God have mercy on their souls, and on ours for no one is exempt. God, being perfect Love, is absolute Justice, and He will NOT let the murder of the unborn or the filth of homosexual sodomy go unavenged.

    Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act. It’s name is tenuous. The words “protection” and “affordable” are vague and subject to changes over time, meaning to say that coverage of what for whom is not set in stone. Since the government has no money to pay for anything, the administrators of the insurance can change and eventually deny coverage. There’s an issue in Massachusetts with limiting the dental procedures of MassHealth. And, he’s talking about the people, ‘human element’, that would suffer without this – call it an etch a sketch act because, I think, it applies more to the 2700 pgs. of HHS Admin (and not Gov. Romney). Considering the way this administration cannot budget after years on the job, I doubt that it would happen with health insurance.

  • From what I understand, Obama was not a Law professor, just a lecturer.

    “Obama is attempting – as usual – to demagogue an issue in order to cover his ass.”

    Yes, that’s his M.O., but although Barry is certainly a gifted demagogue, how do you get people angry because a law they never liked or approved of in the first place has been struck down? Two years ago, when this monstrosity was forced through Congress, I recall libs pooh-poohing the polls which showed Obamacare was despised by a majority of Americans. The conventional wisdom among leftists was that although the dumb American public (so inferior to those progressive Europeans) would initially resist the change, Old Silver Tongue would explain the goodness and necessity of the law so eloquently that our hard hearts would melt and we’d all be foursquare behind Obamacare by the time 2012 rolled around. Well, here it is, election year, and most Americans still think Obamacare stinks on ice. That wasn’t in the Dem script.

    Demagoging the issue will certainly motivate the Dem base. But the rest of us, who didn’t like the law then and don’t like it now? It’ll be a very tough sell, she said with a smile on her face.

  • Does anyone else think it’s ridiculously funny when Leftists whine about priests in ages past getting paid 10% tax which actually went to feeding people whereas now people have to pay something like 50% tax to the government and you don’t know what the hell most of it is funding. As far as health insurance goes if we had a monastary near every town and city the poor man could get free health care from monks. As far as I can tell Obama is a sneaky bastard who can’t be trusted as president, he is inconsiderate of the supreme court simply because of his acutely obvious overconfidence in his statements.

  • Someone compiled a list of why Obama can’t run on his record. Any other “firsts”?

    • First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner.

    • First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in.

    • First President to preside over a cut to the credit-rating of the United States

    • First President to violate the War Powers Act. .

    • First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico .

    • First President to defy a Federal Judge’s court order to cease implementing the Health Care Reform Law.

    • First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.

    • First President to spend a trillion dollars on ‘shovel-ready’ jobs when there was no such thing as ‘shovel-ready’ jobs.

    • First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.

    • First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat. .

    • First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S. , including those with criminal convictions.

    • First President to demand a company hand over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.

    • First President to terminate America ’s ability to put a man in space.

    • First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present.

    • First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.

    • First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly spoke out on the reasons for their rate increases.

    • First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state it is allowed to locate a factory.

    • First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN).

    • First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.

    • First President to fire an inspector general of Ameri-corps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case.

    • First President to appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in his office. .

    • First President to golf 73 separate times in his first two and a half years in office, 90 to date.

    • First President to hide his medical, educational and travel records.

    • First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it.

    • First President to go on multiple global ‘apology tours’.

    • First President to go on 17 lavish vacations, including date nights and Wednesday evening White House parties for his friends; paid for by the taxpayer.

    • First President to have 22 personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife.

    • First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayer expense.

    • First President to assets the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth.

    • First President to take a 17 day vacation.

  • Dow, Dowd, Holder, Obama, et al are children of Satan. They do their father’s bidding.

    They were never on the side of truth.

    There is no truth in them.

    They do what is natural to them. They lie.

    Their father is the father of all lies.

  • I’m confused. So what’s the big deal? Obama says that Lochner was the last time that the court struck down a legislative measure. But conservatives are saying “Ha! That was only state legislation, not federal legislation!!”. What’s the point? Obama is not wrong about it – and you’re all agreeing with him: Lochner was struck down regardless if it’s state or federal.

  • What’s the point? Obama is not wrong about it – and you’re all agreeing with him: Lochner was struck down regardless if it’s state or federal.

    Let’s see:

    He was wrong about it being federal legislation.
    He was wrong about the time period.
    He was wrong about the Court not having struck down major federal legislation since the New Deal era.

    So he was wrong about every single element, but somehow he was right?

    And the state/federal difference is not some minor distinction.

  • Has anyone put together a list of decisions that the average liberal supports where the Court struck down federal law? Roe, Griswold, and that Texas sodomy law were all cases where the Court overturned state law, yielding results that liberals wanted. I can’t think of any federal examples though.

  • Pinky,

    Off the top of my head, I would guess New York v. Clinton, which struck down the line item veto.

  • Pinky raises a very important point. Libs favor an expansive understanding of various “rights” hidden deep inside the creases of the constitution. Because these rights almost always serve to limit police powers and because police powers generally rest with the states, Libs tend to favor activist judges vis-a-vis state legislation. Because libs disfavor economic liberty and instead favor sweeping regulation of commerce, they support an expansive understanding of federal power via the commerce clause.

  • Wrong about the time period? The New Deal was from 1933 to 1936.
    Lochner v New York was from 1905.
    Obama said that it was pre-New Deal.

  • I just found a .pdf from the Government Printing Office listing Congressional acts that the Supreme Court overturned. Pretty interesting stuff. Congress keeps violating the commerce clause, and keeps getting called out for it. I also noticed that the Supreme Court really likes protecting obscenity and anything that can loosely be called free speech (such as flag burning).

  • Student – He said ’30’s, pre-New Deal.

  • What law cannot Congress pass that would not be legit by the lib interpretations of the “commerce clause”?

    Plus, Student’s right.

    Obama is never in error.

    Whatever he says is correct because it supports the agenda.

    For all such sons of Satan, the truth is that which serves their purposes.

    Obama is never wrong. He is ever lying.

  • Hey, I’m not saying that Obama’s never wrong.
    I was just about to comment that Zummo proved me wrong.

  • Has anyone put together a list of decisions that the average liberal supports where the Court struck down federal law?

    There was also United States v. Eichman where the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute against desecration of the US flag.

    Just to agree with Mike Petrik: when liberals fund expansive federal programs with tax dollars, it is difficult to show standing as a plantiff to bring suit.

  • Thanks Joe Green for listing many of Obama’s presidental actions to date. The list gives me pause on this Holy Saturday. The impulse to drop to my knees and implore God’s Mercy upon this nation whose leadership is so corrupt and the hearts of the citizens so ignorant and apathetic is great. Many are like sheep without a Shepherd; unable to recognize His Voice which beckons them to follow Truth and to receive life in abundance. Pontificating about the interior motives of the Presidents’ heart is speculation and generally a useless waste of energy.

  • I’m not law savvy…. but what is the big deal with the Commerce Clause and why do people feel that the courts should not strike down legislation when it pertains to the commerce clause? I get what commerce is, but what is it that makes it such a big deal for courts to strike down laws that fall under that banner of Commerce Clause.

    I’m liberal, but if Obamacare is wrong then it’s wrong. I’ve spoke to friends who are also liberal and I’ll ask “why is it wrong for the courts to strike down Obamacare?” and I just get the response “because it falls under the Commerce Clause”. Then I will ask “what about the Commerce Clause prevents legislation related to that clause from being stuck down by a court” and the response will be “Courts just shouldn’t do that.”

    It makes no flippin’ sense to me. Please help

  • Student,
    Our constitution grants Congress only limited powers, and each law Congress enacts must come within the ambit of those powers. The constitution grants Congress to power to regulate commerce among the states. The question is whether Obamacare (particularly the mandate) comes within the ambit of that power or is outside it. If the former, then the legislation is within Congress’s power to enact and the Court should uphold it; if the latter, then the legislation is outside of Congress’s power and the Court should strike it down.

  • Thank you for that answer, Mike.

    So then if it would be the former the courts do indeed have no right to strike down that type of legislation.

  • Yes, exactly. What the Court must do is discern whether the power to regulate commerce among the states inludes the power to require citizens to purchase health insurance. If it concludes that it does, then it should uphold the law. The question is not an easy one in my view. While the constitution does not generally limit *state* legislative powers outside the Bill of Rights (which is why the Massachusetts insurance mandate is almost certainly constititional), there must be a warrant for Congressional legislation. Congress’s commerce clause power has been construed broadly by federal courts, but it is not without limit. The idea that this power can be used to require each citizen to purchase a product he may not want would be almost certainly regarded as unthinkable by the Framers; yet, the language employed in the commerce clause seems broad on its face, and just because the Framers may not have intended to grant Congress such sweeping power does not mean that it did not do so nonetheless. Words can have meaning, and therefore effect, outside their intent. Nonetheless, critics have a powerful point in noting that such a power to compel an affirmative act dramatically alters our historic understanding between the relationship between our supposedly limited federal government and its individual citizens. While it is that alteration that supplies the disturbing subtext, the precise legal question many be more mundane, such as does the power to regulate interstate commerce include the power to require a person to engage in commerce who wishes not to. This is interesting stuff and reasonable people can come out differently in my view, though I realize that most of my fellow conservative commentators disagree with me on that.

Screen Pilates: Barry Dennen

Wednesday, April 4, AD 2012

Continuing a series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.  The figure of Pontius Pilate has always intrigued me. The fifth Prefect of Judaea, Pilate looms large in the Gospels. His name Pilate indicates that his family was of Samnite origin. Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as having condemned Jesus. In 1961 a block of limestone was discoved at the site of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of Judaea, bearing an inscription of Pilate dedicating a Roman theater there. That is almost all we know about Pilate outside of the Gospels, Josephus and Philo. Pilate today would be forgotten, instead of being the best known Roman who ever lived, but for his role in sentencing Jesus.

Last year we looked at Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Pilate in Jesus of Nazareth, here, and at Richard Boone’s in The Robe, here.  Next up is Barry Dennen in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).

It would take many posts for me to detail how much I disliked Jesus Christ Superstar, which for me symbolized much of what was wrong in the world in the late sixties and the seventies.  Taking pride in being historically inaccurate and a mishmash of ancient and modern, the play and film was just as confused theologically and totally divorced from traditional Christianity.  Jesus is portrayed as petulant, weak and indecisive, a depiction which might be blasphemous if it had more thought behind it.  However, amidst all of the dross there are a very few high points, and Dennen’s performance  is the best of these.

The video at the beginning of this post depicts the sequence where Pilate has a dream about the upcoming trial of Jesus.  Historically, it was Pilate’s wife who had a dream about Jesus:  [19] And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.   (Matthew 27:19)  Pilate in each of the Gospel narratives is portrayed as very reluctant to have Jesus executed, mystified as to why Caiaphas had Jesus brought to him, and wary that Caiaphas was seeking to shift the responsibility for the death of Jesus over to him.  The dream of his wife was just what Pilate needed to give him a foreboding that this was not merely a routine execution, but a matter of extreme importance that he could not fathom.  The song brings all of this out quite well.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Screen Pilates: Barry Dennen

  • I loved this movie when I was a little teenybopper, chiefly because my friends and I thought Ted Neely (who played Jesus as an indecisive hippie) was cute. I agree that Dennen was good in the role.

    It seems that playing Jesus in JCS has become Neely’s life-long meal ticket. A few years ago I was downtown with a friend (who happened to be one of the girls I went to see JCS with when we were 8th graders) and we saw a notice for Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neely playing at a local theater. Now you would think that playing the role of Jesus has a definite built-in age limit, and is automatically off limits to someone eligible for AARP card, but apparently not. (The makeup artist has quite a job on his/her hands.) My friend spotted the sign first and said to me with astonishment “Is Neely entering Jerusalem seated on a wheelchair?”

  • BTW, the nuns in pantsuits played JCS for us in religion class, which is one reason my generation’s knowledge of the Faith is so lacking – we were listening to rock operas and making “God’s Eyes” with yarn and popsicle sticks in religion class instead of learning unfun stuff like the catechism.

  • I get confused when I read the word “Judea”.
    The Jews considered Palestine their home land and Palestine is in Judea.
    Jerusalem is where Jesus is from and that’s part of Palestine?

    I know I have that wrong.

  • The Jews considered Judaea their homeland with Jerusalem as its capital. Palestine was a term used by Egyptians, Greeks and later Romans for designating the land between Syria and Egypt, the boundaries of this area being indistinct. The Jews ruled various parts of this area throughout their history. At the time of Christ this area was ruled by Rome through a bewildering combination of local rulers and direct Roman rule.

  • JCS had a black Judas right at the beginning berating Jesus for going passively to His Cross. It portrayed the cynical Jewish establishment in Caipahas with his deep sepulchral voice. A movie like that would be unusual today.

  • Ivan: Jesus Christ is the TRUTH. If Judas and Caiphas did not trust the TRUTH, they were damned by their own free will.

  • This Pilate exhibited anger and jealousy. Anger because Jesus did not submit to his views and perhaps because Pilate was victim bashing as Jesus caused an uprising. Jealousy because Jesus remained in sovereign control of Himself. Jesus said that God was “far away” and this is a very limp way of describing the kingdom of God, for Jesus in the Gospels says that the kingdom of God is at hand. “My kingdom is not of this world” is not heard either. I never saw JCS but the idea that God is far, far away almost unreachable, sure does sow despair.

  • Donna V.: My daughter got to paint a “pet rock” with which she was instructed to converse. (First year Catholic high school). The cildren are still making “God’s eyes” out of popsicle sticks instead of learning the “unfun” catechism, but now the chidlren are doing this after having been removed from the Sunday Mass.

  • If Judas and Caiphas did not trust the TRUTH, they were damned by their own free will.

    Maybe so, but who is this mysterious entity: “the one with the greater guilt” in the Passion narrative. The one without whose “power from above” Pilate could not act. Surely it cannot be small greasy fries such as Annas and Caiphas or even the Emperor in Rome. In St John’s Gospel more so than in the others Jesus Himself is orchestrating the proceedings with perfect symmetry to a certain end. The only choices I can think of for that mysterious being are Satan or God Himself. Against such powers what are puny human beings?

Obama Picking Election Year Fights to Lose

Wednesday, April 4, AD 2012





Michael Walsh at National Review has a brilliant post about Obama’s bizarre election year strategy:

Many have commented that last week was the worst week (so far) for the Obama administration, but I don’t think the apparatchiks have quite yet realized how bad things are going to get for them. The decision to insult and attack the Catholic Church was spectacularly stupid, even as a crass political tactic, since there are some 77 million Catholics in the country, representing about a fifth of the population. True, Catholics tend no longer to vote as a bloc (the old FDR coalition has splintered as the Irish and Italians moved out of the cities and up in the world), but a thumb in the eye to one is a thumb in the eye to all, especially when that one is the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York. 

Now it’s the judiciary’s turn, and that is likely to end equally badly for the president. Because this isn’t simply an attack on a judge or court because of one ruling; it’s a pre-emptive strike on a decision that has yet to be issued. Worse, it’s not really a blitzkrieg against even the Supreme Court but is rather a direct strike against the Constitution and the Founders. And a majority of Americans understand that the Constitution is the only thing separating us from tyranny on one hand and barbarism on the other. We’ve understood for a while now that Obama finds the separation of powers inconvenient, but this takes his will to power to a new level.

Which brings me back to my point from yesterday: The Punahou Kid is not used to being crossed, nor to being treated with anything less than obeisance. All his life, he’s gotten away with his lighter-than-air act, blissfully aware than even when provably duplicitous he’ll be able to skate, thanks to his protective horde of media buddies, led by Jake Lingle himself.

In the Leftist world-view, there is no yesterday, only the fierce urgency of now in the service of tomorrow — which they feel rightfully belongs to them. Which is why and how stories go down the memory hole, and why Obama will conduct his 2012 campaign by essentially running against himself and promising that next time, things will turn out better. The real “dog whistle” will be Obama signaling to his supporters that “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The Great Equalizer in the battle between right and left is the Left’s congenital tendency to overreach, to let the mask of affability slip and to reveal themselves for what they really are. By now, the Obama administration’s overt hostility to the country as founded ought to be clear to everyone (for the Left, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature), and it’s mistaken its fleeting supermajority (the result of years of concerted media Bush-bashing) as carte blanche to act on it.

But there’s — thankfully — still a glass ceiling to this fashionable anti-Americanism. Obama was the first Democrat to win a majority of the vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and that was a mistake the electorate quickly rectified with the two Reagan landslides. Four years of Nancy Pelosi were all the populace could stomach and it’s likely that the same will be true of Barack Obama. As the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act demonstrated, even with a supermajority the Democrats still had to resort to bribery, prevarication and legalistic chicanery to get it passed

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Obama Picking Election Year Fights to Lose

  • I hope very much that Walsh is right. I worry that the cultural rot and entitlement mentality has become more entrenched since the sorry Carter era.

  • At one level Obama is a one trick political pony. He will always run a play from the Alinsky playbook. Identify and isolate your foe, attack ad hominen or straw man, and let your henchmen in the media and academia provide you cover.

    On another level, Obama has materialized what was always beneath the surface of leftist dogma. The constitution must be discarded in favor of soft, mildly tolerable but despotic tyranny…..a tyranny which culturally deprives us of our vigor, our faith, our dignity.

    The horrible possibility, which Obama sees, is that we may have reached the tipping point….if not this election then very soon. The left controls all the instruments of mass communications and influence–media, public education, government apparatus, higher academia. And the left relentlessly seeks to undermine the steadying cultural influences of family and faith. We have lost our moral override in the institutions which matter most. Game on.

  • And a majority of Americans understand that the Constitution is the only thing separating us from tyranny on one hand and barbarism on the other.

    Great Britain, New Zealand, and Israel have managed to muddle through as neither barbarous nor tyrannical; they each have a body of constitutional law but no discrete charter. A number of European countries have gotten along with parliamentary constitutions which do not resemble ours. It happens.

    Some conservatives have the mistaken belief that Obama is some sort of political genius and are running scared of him. This is a complete misunderstanding of Obama. Obama is a fairly haughty, out of touch snobbish Leftist, who moved to Chicago and embarked on a political career with the support of some local political operatives like David Axelrod who combine traditional Chicago politics and corruption with far Left beliefs. Obama has been putty in the hands of these people as they stage managed every step of his career.


  • Just as a thought exercise, I would wonder where GB, NZ or Isreal would be without the example, and bedrock support, of American Constitutionalism.

    Just thinking out loud, or, in black and white as it were.

  • Just as a thought exercise, I would wonder where GB, NZ or Isreal would be without the example, and bedrock support, of American Constitutionalism.

    They have parliamentary systems, not separation-of-powers. The development of electoral and deliberative institutions in Britain predates that of the United States and those in New Zealand are derivative of Britain’s. All three countries have been under an American security umbrella at one time or another. Not sure how you figure the prowess of our military is derived from separation-of-powers.

  • Good post, as always. Want to follow comments via e-mail, hence this comment.