Monthly Archives: September 2012
For only $35.00 you too can own a print of the Obama Flag. The (sic) artist who designed this calls it, signficantly enough, Our Stripes. Go here to the official Obama Store to see it in all of its native glory before one of the less crazed acolytes of the Southside Messiah decides to take it down. The bizarre cult-like atmosphere that surrounds Obama is like nothing ever seen before in American political history, and it is a disturbing development in our society.
Update 1: Go here to see a short visual history of the creepy Obama Cult.
Update 2: The Obama flag print is gone from the Obama store. I assume now it will be reserved for only the high initiates of Cult Obama.
President Barack Obama went on the David Letterman show last night and responded to the leaked video where Mitt Romney explained why 47 percent of the electorate was basically shut off to him. Obama took the softball and hammered one out of the park, waxing poetic about being responsive to all the people.
Such stirring words, and certainly President Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to respecting the values of those who disagree with him.
Aarg Maties, I can scarcely believe that it is Talk Like a Pirate Day again. As a landlubber lawyer, I have only one thing to say to pirates: amateurs!
The above sentence translated into pirate: “Aarg Maties, I can scarcely believe that it be Talk Like a Pirate Day again. As a landlubber lawyer, I have only one thin’ t’ say t’ pirates: amateurs! ” Go here to amuse yourselves with the English to Pirate Translator.
Mitt Romney being interviewed in regard to the 47% remark by Neil Cavuto yesterday. (Go here to read Darwin’s brilliant post on the 47% controversy.) I have never been a fan of Mitt Romney, who I have nicknamed the Weathervane. I have always planned to vote for him, but almost entirely in order to get Obama out; Mitt Romney becoming President being merely a necessary by-product of ending the Age of Obama. However, I found this interview impressive. Romney ably presented his view that ever-increasing dependence on government is a terrible thing and is a result of the miserable failure of Obama’s economic policies. Romney is taking what is widely assumed by
the Obama press agents the Mainstream Media and turning it around by standing his ground. People tend to admire politicians who have convictions they are willing to fight for, even if they do not entirely share the convictions themselves. The rap against Romney has always been that he has no such convictions, nothing that he is willing to do battle for. This is Romney’s opportunity to demonstrate that he does have core beliefs that he will defend, no matter what the chattering heads on television say. Not bad Mitt.
Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
One of the more refreshing aspects of the fallout in the wake of the Cairo and Benghazi embassy attacks, is the degree that it has brought out in the open the contempt that many people on the political Left have for affording constitutional protection to speech which they despise. A case in point is Sarah Chayes. Ms. Chayes is about as establishment Liberal as it is possible to get. A graduate of Harvard, the offspring of Abram Chayes, and Antonia Handler Chayes, both luminaries of the academic and political Left, she had a career as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. Under Obama she was a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Her credentials and background therefore make her opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times of special interest. In that opinion piece she argues that the Mohammed video would not be worthy of constititutional protection because it is meant to be purely offensive and intended to provoke a violent reaction. It therefore constitutes the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater:
While many 1st Amendment scholars defend the right of the filmmakers to produce this film, arguing that the ensuing violence was not sufficiently imminent, I spoke to several experts who said the trailer may well fall outside constitutional guarantees of free speech. “Based on my understanding of the events,” 1st Amendment authority Anthony Lewis said in an interview Thursday, “I think this meets the imminence standard.”
Finally, much 1st Amendment jurisprudence concerns speech explicitly advocating violence, such as calls to resist arrest, or videos explaining bomb-making techniques. But words don’t have to urge people to commit violence in order to be subject to limits, says Lewis. “If the result is violence, and that violence was intended, then it meets the standard.”
Indeed, Justice Holmes’ original example, shouting “fire” in a theater, is not a call to arms. Steve Klein, an outspoken anti-Islamic activist who said he helped with the film, told Al Jazeera television that it was “supposed to be provocative.” The egregiousness of its smears, the apparent deception of cast and crew as to its contents and the deliberate effort to raise its profile in the Arab world a week before 9/11 all suggest intentionality.
The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.
Interesting that she trots out Anthony Lewis to shore up her argument. Lewis, now 85 and retired, was for decades the uber Liberal’s uber Liberal at the New York Times and regarded as a First Amendment absolutist. Unless he is now in his dotage, one can only assume that, like many on the Left, his dedication to free speech ends when he disagrees strongly enough with what is being spoken.
The argument that Sayes is making is an old one. It is called the Heckler’s Veto, and it has been used throughout American history to argue that speech should be suppressed because of the violent reaction it might cause. Liberals, back when they were truly liberal, use to fight against it. Lately they have embraced it, most notably in erecting bubble zones around abortion clinic, and banning pro-life protesters from those zones. In the case of Christopher v. Hill, 530 U.S. 703 (2000), the Supreme Court upheld such zones 6-3. The scathing dissent of Justice Scalia is instructive:
The Court today concludes that a regulation requiring speakers on the public thoroughfares bordering medical facilities to speak from a distance of eight feet is “not a ’regulation of speech,’ ” but “a regulation of the places where some speech may occur,” ante, at 14; and that a regulation directed to only certain categories of speech (protest, education, and counseling) is not “content-based.” For these reasons, it says, the regulation is immune from the exacting scrutiny we apply to content-based suppression of speech in the public forum. The Court then determines that the regulation survives the less rigorous scrutiny afforded content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions because it is narrowly tailored to serve a government interest–protection of citizens’ “right to be let alone”–that has explicitly been disclaimed by the State, probably for the reason that, as a basis for suppressing peaceful private expression, it is patently incompatible with the guarantees of the First Amendment.
None of these remarkable conclusions should come as a surprise. What is before us, after all, is a speech regulation directed against the opponents of abortion, and it therefore enjoys the benefit of the “ad hoc nullification machine” that the Court has set in motion to push aside whatever doctrines of constitutional law stand in the way of that highly favored practice. Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc., 512 U.S. 753, 785 (1994) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Having deprived abortion opponents of the political right to persuade the electorate that abortion should be restricted by law, the Court today continues and expands its assault upon their individual right to persuade women contemplating abortion that what they are doing is wrong. Because, like the rest of our abortion jurisprudence, today’s decision is in stark contradiction of the constitutional principles we apply in all other contexts, I dissent. Continue reading
Traditionalist Catholics are typically not fans of Murray Rothbard. And yet as I read more of his work, I find more reasons to appreciate Rothbard’s insights into political theory, which I believe were shaped by a deeper appreciation for the Catholic political and philosophical tradition than some are willing to admit. It is easy to see Rothbard as nothing more than a secular Jewish atheist who opposed “the Old Order” and supported unrestricted personal liberty. And yet he spent his final years advocating for Pat Buchanan’s presidential run and his socially conservative platform.
That there is an affinity for Catholicism in Rothbard’s thought is not surprising. He identifies the Catholic countries, above all Austria, as the originators of subjective-utility economics, while Protestant countries such as Britain developed more labor-centric economic theories. The Catholic tradition had identified consumption (in moderation) as a worthwhile activity and goal; the Calvinist tradition emphasized hard labor as the primary good and consumption as a necessary evil at best. He writes:
Conversely, it is no accident that the Austrian School, the major challenge to the Smith-Ricardo vision, arose in a country that was not only solidly Catholic, but whose values and attitudes were still heavily influenced by Aristotelian and Thomist thought. The German precursors of the Austrian School flourished, not in Protestant and anti-Catholic Prussia, but in those German states that were either Catholic or were politically allied to Austria rather than Prussia.
It seems like leftist pundits have decided that remarks by Romney at a fundraiser that were secretly taped and distributed by Mother Jones constitute the latest “now Romney has lost the election” moment. In the video, Romney tells supporters that Obama starts out with a huge base of 47-49% of voters who pay no income taxes, are dependent on government, and thus cannot be reached by Romney’s low tax message.
Of course, for those whose memories go back further than the most recent “Romney is finished” moment declared by Andrew Sullivan and Co., the obvious comparison to this is when Obama famously announced back in 2008 that the big difficulty for his campaign was that it was difficult to reach people who are see no evidence of progress in their daily lives and so they become bitter and cling to their guns and their religion.
Both comments spring from a degree of party mythology. It’s not the case that all 47% of people who don’t pay income taxes are Democrat supporters. Because our tax code is so progressive and because of the hefty child tax credit and earned income tax credit (both of which are things Republicans generally support) a lot of middle income families do not pay taxes. That certainly doesn’t make them default Obama supporters. Many of them are in fact die-hard Republicans, because they don’t participate in the modern Democratic Party’s vision of government dependence and social engineering as the solution to their problems.
That said, I think this particular media tizzy is particularly silly, and the pundits declaring Romney to be badly hurt by this are mostly reflecting the beliefs of a bubble in which the GOP is already hated.
Obama’s remarks were, if anything, far more offensive to potential swing voters. He categorized whole sections of the country, demographically, as being given over to bitterness because they hadn’t seen progress and explained that this bitterness came out in their becoming attached to guns, religion, hating minorities and immigrants, etc. There are a lot of small town people who like to hunt and go to church and don’t think of themselves as racist who nonetheless were potential Obama swing voters in 2008.
By contrast, Romney’s analysis may be off (and I don’t think that does him any credit) but it’s really hard for me, at least, to picture someone saying, “Gee, I was really thinking Romney might have some answers on the economy, but now I heard this clip where he says that people who don’t pay taxes and want to be dependent on the government are in the bag for Obama, and I’m proud of the fact that I don’t pay taxes and depend on the government, so forget about him! I’m supporting Obama.”
A lot of people who don’t, on net, pay taxes don’t really think of themselves as not paying taxes. The tax code is complex enough to make it tricky to tell in some ways. (And they pay other taxes even if they don’t pay federal income tax.) Nor do many people who are potential GOP voters think of themselves as dependent on government. If anything, the argument that Obama already has a huge advantage because he’s bribing voters with lots of government handouts seems to fit with Romney’s overall campaign message. Whether that’s a winning message I don’t know (I hope it is) but it’s hard for me to see how this is actually all that damaging.
Datech Guy explains why most presidential horserace polls are, to put it politely, worse than useless:
For the last two weeks we have been treated to the narrative that Barack Obama is surging at the polls, Mitt Romney is in trouble and unless there is a massive change in direction it is all over.
Simply put this is a lie.
Of all the polls you have seen, there is one poll that has gotten no attention, it is a poll that has been taken monthly, it is a poll that Doug Ross spotted and promoted on his site. It is the Rasmussen Poll of party identification.
They have party identification results online dating back to 2004. Here are the 2012 numbers through August
That shows a GOP advantage in registration this year but you might say: “Hey, Datechguy, you’ve been hitting polls all year, why can’t THIS poll be wrong?”
That’s a good question, we can answer it by asking another question: Does this poll of party identification correspond with the results of national elections?
Lets take a look: Continue reading
The latest in appeasing the Jihadists. No doubt this was to be revealed in 2013 if the American people were stupid enough to re-elect Obama:
The U.S. State Department is actively considering negotiations with the Egyptian government for the transfer of custody of Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as “the Blind Sheikh,” for humanitarian and health reasons, a source close to the Obama administration told The Blaze.
The Department of Justice, however, told The Blaze that Rahman is serving a life sentence and is not considered for possible “release.” Previous calls to the State Department were referred to the Department of Justice and so far, the State Department has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
Glenn Beck revealed the controversial news on his show Monday.
The Blind Sheikh is currently serving a life sentence in American prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but the newly-elected Islamist government in Egypt has been actively petitioning his release. Many have pinpointed a cause of last week‘s unrest in the country to be protests over the Blind Sheikh’s release — not an anti-Muslim YouTube video. Continue reading
A trailer for the Lincoln movie, directed by Stephen Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, which is being released on November 9th. I will go see it and review it. Heaven knows that I doubt that it could possibly be worse than Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Capturing Lincoln on film is difficult. He was a complex man who lived in complex times, and trying to say much of substance about him in a two hour film is probably a futile undertaking.
Some criticisms of the trailer have arisen, most centering on the objection that Day-Lewis does not sound like Lincoln. Of course, since Lincoln died 22 years before the first primitive sound recordings we will never hear his voice. We do have a number of contemporary accounts as to his voice.
Lincoln’s voice was, when he first began speaking, shrill, squeaking, piping, unpleasant; his general look, his form, his pose, the color of his flesh, wrinkled and dry, his sensitiveness, and his momentary diffidence, everything seemed to be against him, but he soon recovered. –William H. Herndon letter, July 19, 1887 Continue reading
A friend forwarded me this excellent article written by Archbishop Charles Caput. It’s a detailed post outlining our responsibilities as Catholic citizens.
The Archbishop begins with an anecdote that hits a little close to home.
A priest I know does a lot of spiritual direction. Two of the men he was helping died suddenly this past year, one of a heart attack and one of a stroke. In both cases they were relatively young men and quite successful. In both cases they watched Fox News. And in both cases they had gotten into the nightly habit of shouting at President Obama whenever he came on the TV. In both cases, the wives believed – and they still believe – that politics killed their husbands.
Now that’s a true story. And it’s a good place to begin our time together today. Henri de Lubac, the great Jesuit theologian, once said that if heretics no longer horrify us, it’s not because we have more charity in our hearts. (i) We just find it a lot more satisfying to despise our political opponents. We’ve transferred our passion to politics.
I don’t yell at the television – well, not every night. I do spend more time than I should on the internet. Now there are some excellent sites – like this one, of course – but the cumulative effect of reading so much about politics can be bad for both the soul and the heart. And there are times when my obsession with politics truly dispirits me.
At the same time, there is the opposite temptation to completely shut oneself off from politics. There have been times over the past few months where I have felt like completely tuning out. Despair is a terrible sin, and when it comes to politics it is easy to despair when it seems like so many things are going wrong that you can’t even keep track anymore. Yet this would be just as irresponsible as shutting out all things except politics. Archbishop Chaput explains why we can’t exactly separate the political and religious aspects of our lives.
What all this means for our public life is this: Catholics can live quite peacefully with the separation of Church and state, so long as the arrangement translates into real religious freedom. But we can never accept a separation of our religious faith and moral convictions from our public ministries or our political engagement. It’s impossible. And even trying is evil because it forces us to live two different lives, worshiping God at home and in our churches; and worshiping the latest version of Caesar everywhere else. That turns our private convictions into lies we tell ourselves and each other.
Later on he adds:
Third, despite these concerns, Christians still have a duty to take part in public life according to their God-given abilities, even when their faith brings them into conflict with public authority. We can’t simply ignore or withdraw from civic affairs. The reason is simple. The classic civic virtues named by Cicero – prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance – can be renewed and elevated, to the benefit of all citizens, by the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity. Therefore, political engagement is a worthy Christian task, and public office is an honorable Christian vocation.
Read the rest of the Archbishop’s excellent article. It’s refreshing to read a cleric who can discuss these issues so unambiguously and without concern that he might be offending someone somewhere.
Also published at Catholic Lane.
“I told my doctor that I am having issues with anxiety. I’ve had three babies in the last four years and just found I’m pregnant again, and no matter how hard I try, I keep having panic attacks. I feel out of control. I’m ready to admit I need help. I have some past issues I need to face, but I don’t know what to do. My doctor said I could talk to you because you have experience helping pregnant women.” It all finally came out, stuttered, yet punctuated, a first plea for professional help.
“Why do you feel anxious?”
“I want to do everything perfectly, I want to do it right, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, but I want to do better. Now I get so confused and overwhelmed. When I give up, I feel ashamed, sometimes I harm myself because the emotional pain is so great. I know I need help. I’m pregnant!”
The therapist replied with a knowing grin, “You don’t have to be perfect, you know. Don’t you see? You are beating yourself up trying to be perfect. Slow down. Right now you need to take care of yourself. You have living children and they need their mother. They need their mother to be healthy. Have you thought about abortion? You know, it’s alright to abort this pregnancy so you can take care of yourself right now.”
“What? I’m Catholic, that’s why I came to a Catholic hospital, well, I mean, I’m a recent convert and I’m learning about the teaching of the Church, and this…”
The confused mother stared past the licensed mental health professional out the window of her obstetrician’s office, where she was meeting with this therapist. In this hospital that bears the name of a saint and a crucifix in every room, the mother was more confused than ever. She tried not to let the vortex starting to swirl in her mind show. Abortion? She trusted these people under this roof, but abortion? Catholics are not supposed to have abortions. She could barely speak.
“…this isn’t right.”
“Well,” chuckled the mental health therapist sitting under a Catholic roof, “Catholics don’t really believe that today, that’s an old idea. Women are not expected to tear up their bodies giving birth to baby after baby, and besides, most Catholics have small families. If that’s what Catholics really believed there’d be many, many more large Catholic families, wouldn’t there? Look, I’ve travelled in Europe where there is a large Catholic population, and they all have one or two children. You don’t have to have lots of kids to be a good Catholic. Perhaps you’re just trying to have a lot of children to be a perfect Catholic.”
Later, they got around to the big question.
“Do you ever have thoughts of suicide?” Continue reading
Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. On that single day more American casualties were sustained than in all of America’s prior wars, except for the American Revolution, combined. As for the American Revolution, the 23,000 killed and wounded at Antietam on a single day were more than one-third of the total of 58,000 Americans killed and wounded in the eight years of the Revolution.
Antietam was the culmination of Lee’s Maryland campaign. Lee had decided to enter Maryland in early September 1862 to take the pressure off war-torn Virginia, to gain supplies in Maryland and possibly recruits from sympathetic Marylanders and to inflict, if he could, punishing defeats on Union forces and, with luck, help opponents of the Lincoln administration do well in the fall elections as a result of those defeats. Go here to read a post detailing Lee’s motivation for the Maryland Campaign.
All went superbly for Lee initially in the Maryland Campaign. Supplies were abundant in Maryland. Recruits from Marylanders, while not as abundant as the Confederates would have wished, were first-rate as to quality. The Northern papers, and General Lee gained much valuable intelligence throughout the War by reading carefully every Northern newspaper he could obtain, were largely hysterical about the Confederate offensive, more than a few predicting that the War was lost. General Stonewall Jackson’s II corps was detailed by Lee to capture Harper’s Ferry, which he did on September 15, 1862 against pathetically weak Union opposition, and inflicting one of the worst defeats on the United States Army in its history, the 12,000 Union troops being the largest mass surrender of United States military personnel until the surrender on Bataan in 1942. Go here to read a post on the sorry tale.
Lincoln, desperate to stop Lee, placed Major General George B. McClellan, in disgrace after his humiliating defeat in the Peninsula Campaign, back in command of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan followed Lee in a lethargic pursuit, obviously fearful of being defeated by Lee again. The situation altered dramatically when McClellan was the beneficiary of the biggest intelligence coup of the Civil War, obtaining a copy of Lee’s Special Order No, 191 on September 13, 1862, which revealed to McClellan that Lee had divided his force and the routes that the portions of Lee’s army were to follow. Go here to read a post on the finding of the famous Lost Order. With this order in hand McClellan boasted that he would whip Bobby Lee or go home.
On September 14, 1862 McClellan attacked three gaps at South Mountain to seize them, to allow him to march over the mountain and fall on Lee’s separated units. Lee held two of the gaps after a hard day’s battle. Go here to read a post on the battle of South Mountain. With one of the gaps lost, Lee retreated and began to swiftly reassemble his Army of Northern Virginia to confront the Army of the Potomac. McClellan, inexplicably, threw away his advantage by doing almost nothing on September 15, instead of immediately following Lee in hot pursuit.
At dawn on September 17, 1862, the Army of the Potomac confronted part of the Army of Northern Virginia along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Three of the divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia were still on the road from Harper’s Ferry, marching all night to reach Lee. McClellan enjoyed more than a two to one advantage at the beginning of the battle, his 75,000 force confronting less than 30,000 Confederates. McClellan, as he did throughout the War, assumed, against all evidence, that the Confederates outnumbered him.
MClellan issued attack orders for each corps. He made no effort to coordinate attacks between the corps. With the Union advantage in numbers McClellan could have annihilated Lee’s army if he had simply had each corps get into assault position and then attack simultaneously. Instead, this very long day consisted of piecemeal attacks by individual Union corps which gave Lee the opportunity to shift his heavily outnumbered units to meet each threat in turn.
Hello TAC, it is good to be posting again after a prolonged illness that left me unable to do anything but make half-conscious Facebook updates. I have been following the news, and for the sake of our collective sanity, I am going to refrain from extended commentary on foreign affairs. Instead I wanted to share with you an interesting discussion I had recently with some rather confident, cocky atheists on the question of free will.
It had begun as a debate on the so-called “problem of evil.” They think we have a problem with evil; maybe some Christians do, but I don’t. But I do think atheists – by which I mean Western, science-worshiping, philosophical materialists – have a problem with evil. Namely, how do materialists who reject free will (either explicitly or implicitly, depending on how well they’ve thought it out) even speak of such a thing as “evil”? Assuming we are speaking of human acts, and not things like bad weather, to describe an act as “evil” or malicious or malevolent or something similar assumes and implies that it was freely chosen. No one speaks of a lion’s decision to tear apart a zebra for sustenance as an “evil” act. What mindless animals do has no moral significance whatsoever. What people do has significance solely on the assumption that we can choose otherwise. In other words, free will. Without the assumption of free will, morality utterly collapses into a meaningless rubbish heap.
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
During World War II director John Huston produced three films for the US government. Let There Be Light was shot for the Army Signal Corps. It covers the treatment of 75 US soldiers traumatized by their combat experiences in World War II. The film is narrated by Walter Huston, the academy award-winning actor father of John Huston. The Army brass did not like the finished product, thinking that its focus on men who suffered psychological damage from their service could be demoralizing to the troops, and banned the film on the grounds that it invaded the privacy of the soldiers featured in the film and that the releases they signed had been lost. (This reason was pretextual, but as a matter of law I would not place any reliance on a release signed by someone undergoing mental treatment standing up for an instant in court.) Continue reading
The Obama administration continues to show complete contempt for American liberties.
In the wake of the Benghazi and Cairo debacles, and the administration being caught completely flat-footed in regard to these coordinated assaults on our embassies, the Obama administration has acted to attempt to escape any responsibility.
First, they have had their lickspittle media friends blame Romney for speaking out. Ah yes, Romney attacking the craven statement of the Cairo embassy is the chief problem and not minor issues like the Middle East going up in flames and the Obama administration being completely clueless as to what to do.
Second, the State Department is refusing to take questions, from those few members of the media who still occasionally act like reporters instead of unpaid Obama press agents, until their investigation is complete. The Good Lord knows how long that would take, but I would wager Wednesday November 7, 2012.
Third, the administration is still attempting to claim that these attacks are the result of the film attacking Mohammed. Of course that was merely the pretext for the attacks. The administration knows this, but its policy of appeasement of jihadists would be in jeopardy if they admitted that the silly film had virtually nothing to do with these revenge attacks on the anniversary of 9-11.
Fourth, when one is seeking to evade responsibility having a nice fat scapegoat is very convenient. Thus we have the maker of the film, who is on probation for a bank fraud conviction, being taken into custody for questioning as to his alleged violation of the terms of his probation. The alleged violation is for using a computer not connected with his work. Of course the administration cares not a fig about that. It wants jihadists abroad and Americans at home to see that Obama is getting tough with this fellow who stirred up all the trouble. (Ignore all those jihadists! It is all the fault of this guy!) That this tramples over the man’s First Amendment rights is of absolutely no concern. The Administration might wish to eventually haul in this fellow’s co-conspirators: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison and all the other Founding Fathers who gave us the freedom that Obama is seeking to shred.
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, speaks for me in reaction to this: Continue reading