14

Leftism as a Religion

Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked,

2 Timothy 3:2

 

Dennis Praeger has a brilliant post up at National Review Online in which he describes leftism as a subsitute religion:

Within mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism, the same dominance of leftist values exists. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — not to mention the Notre Dame faculty — largely holds the same social and economic views as the Democratic party and the New York Times editorial page, though it differs with the Left with regard to same-sex marriage, abortion, and religious-freedom issues such as those pertaining to Catholic hospitals and government-funded contraception. As for mainstream Protestant denominations, they, too, are largely indistinguishable from leftism. Proof? Ask a liberal Protestant minister to name one important area in which he and leftism differ. Ask a liberal Reform or Conservative rabbi the same question. Their silence will be telling.

 

The truth is that the Left has been far more successful in converting Jews and Christians to leftism than Christianity and Judaism have been in influencing leftists to convert to Christianity or Judaism.

Finally, leftism has even attained considerable success at undoing the central American values of Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum, supplanting liberty with egalitarianism, a God-based society with secularism, and E Pluribus Unum with multiculturalism. (I make this case at length in Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.)

This triumph of the 20th century’s most dynamic religion — leftism — is why, even in the midst of an ongoing recession, the leftist candidate may win. As I wrote in my last column, it’s not just the economy, stupid. Continue Reading

9

The Fiscal Cliff, Taxes, Math and the End of the Road

 

The above video by Bill Whittle from 2011 illustrates how deep in the hole we are when it comes to annual deficits.  The idea of the Obama administration that the Bush tax cuts must expire for “the rich” earning over 250K (In Chicago that would be a cop and his schoolteacher wife.) has everything to do with politics and almost nothing to do with deficit reduction.  Here is why.

If you abolished all of the Bush tax cuts for “the rich” earning over 250K a year, and assuming they did not come up with ways to legally avoid the additional tax by deferring income,  the Treasury, further making the rash assumption that increasing taxes does not have any negative impact on the economy, would receive about 70 billion dollars in additional taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  This year our deficit is approximately 1.1 trillion dollars.  If we eliminate the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, the increase in taxes would be about 370 billion, according to the CBO, assuming, rashly, that increasing taxes on the middle class would not have a negative impact on the economy and swell the ranks of people qualifying for “freebies” from Uncle Sucker. Continue Reading

6

Least Surprising Stats of the Day

After their abysmal recent performance in the Presidential election I don’t know how much credence to give a Gallup poll, but these findings have the ring of truth.  53% of the Dems have a positive view of the term “Socialism” and 75% of Dems have a positive view of the Federal government.  Under Obama is there much difference in practice?  The Democrats are on a rapid path to morphing into a European style socialist party. Continue Reading

10

Kipling’s Commentary on the Age of Obama

The seventeenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here and  here.   Throughout his life Kipling was ever the foe of cant, especially when the cant was dressed up as the latest new thing.  In 1919 he aimed his poetic skills at various latest new things in the modern world that Kipling realized were very old bad ideas dressed up with jargon and sold to the gullible.  His poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings reads like a current commentary on our predicament, and more is the pity.

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn

That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:

But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,

So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

 

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,

Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,

But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come

That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

 

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,

They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;

They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;

So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

 

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

 

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

 

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;  

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,  

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

 

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

 

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,  

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

 

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! Continue Reading

114

Steven Crowder and Bad Arguments for Pot Decriminalization

Via the Right Scoop comes this video from Steven Crowder, exposing some of the more ridiculous argument from those who support the decriminalization (or legalization) or marijuana:

Please note that Crowder does not address the constitutional issue surrounding federal marijuana prohibition. In fact he goes out of his way to emphasize that there are legitimate arguments to be made that this is not an issue that justifies federal intervention. But as the video highlights, none of the people he interviewed brought up the constitutional argument. Instead, his interviewees relied on tropes that are untrue. He also makes a point about prohibition that I have often made: namely, that the 18th Amendment prohibited the use of a substance that was already legal and widely used by most Americans. Marijuana legalization would make available a previously criminalized substance used by a minority of Americans.

Like Crowder, I believe that the constitutional arguments against federal marijuana prohibition are, at a minimum, compelling. But if you are going to take up the cause of decriminalization, at least make better arguments than these people.

2

Klavan, Smith and Friedman On Crony Capitalism

Ah the next four years are going to be so enjoyable.  When it comes to crony capitalism Adam Smith said it well:

“The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [that is, ‘those who live by profit’], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

Milton Friedman was eloquent on the subject of government supporting private enterprises:

Continue Reading

8

On Farmers and Subsidies

I recently had the pleasure of observing a panel discussion of several areas farmers.  It was part of a county leadership program, and this particular event was designed to give the “class” some background on the agriculture industry in the area.  The discussion and subsequent tours were nothing short of fascinating.  (If you have a chance to look up “precision farming” involving GPS, it is a real marvel of technology.)

At one point, someone in the audience asked what the panel members thought of government farm subsidies.  I don’t know what was more interesting: the answer or the fact that each of the seven panelists responded immediately with both unanimity and laughter.  Once the initial reaction subsided, one of the farmers explained it in a single sentence, “Subsidies only subsidize those who don’t pay taxes.”  For my own part, I was intrigued, so I couldn’t help but ask what the farmer meant by this.  Another panel member offered a a more detailed explanation.

Suppose that we can farm a product for $200 an acre.  When the product is new, prices may fluctuate.  Eventually, however, after this farmer and that farmer starts to charge less in order to be competitive, the price stabilizes for, let’s say, $300.  In other words, farmers don’t drop below this price because they can’t drop below this price and still make a living.  We need $100 an acre just to support our family and earn a respectable income.  Looking at our modest $100 profit, the government kindly decides that us hard working farmers deserve more, so they institute a $50 subsidy.  It sounds good at first.  We get $100 profit for each acre plus the $50 hand-out from Uncle Sam.  We have more income, yes?  Here’s the problem.  It only takes one farmer to think, “I don’t need to sell my crops for $300 an acre.  I was doing just fine on a $100 profit.  If I charge $275 an acre, I can undercut the competition and still earn $125 an acre ($75 “pure” profit plus the $50 subsidy), which is more than I was getting before.”  You can see where it goes from here.  The new competitive price becomes $275 per acre … until the process repeats.  Eventually, the market kicks in and the farmers end up selling their crop for $250 an acre.  They won’t drop below this, of course, because at this level they are making, with the government subsidy, the minimum $100-per-acre profit ($50 pure profit plus the $50 subsidy) needed to support the family.

Now, while the subsidy had a net change of $0 on the farmer’s well being, it was not entirely neutral.  It did produce a product that is now on the market for $50 less than it was otherwise.  (Before the subsidy, the crop went to market at $300/acre, and afterwards it went for $250/acre.)  The consumer benefits from this subsidy, correct?  Well, says the farmer, not all consumers benefit.  The $50 per acre came from somewhere, because, contrary to popular belief, the government cannot simply create money out of nowhere.  (These were his words, not mine.)  In the end, it comes from the tax payers.  Thus, if you are someone who pays federal income tax, then you essentially break even in this deal.  The only people that actually benefit in the end are those who don’t pay any federal income tax.  Thus, in the words of the first gentleman, “Subsidies only subsidize those who don’t pay taxes.”

Admittedly, the economics is probably a bit more complicated than this.  For one thing, those who pay federal taxes are not all in the same tax bracket, so a pro-rating of sorts would probably be appropriate to figure out who comes out ahead.  Second, the farmers’ “minimum price for supporting a family” is not the only economic force at work in this equation.  There is also the amount of crop produced in a given year, the maximum price people are willing to pay for an individual product, etc.  On the other hand, we should figure in the bureaucratic overhead involve in collecting and processing the taxes needed for the subsidy, a figure that is often notoriously high for the federal government.  Nevertheless, the farmers have a point: subsidies are often not all they are cracked up to be, and the best way to handle market forces is to simply let the market work.  The free market will work on its own to drop the price of commodities, but it will do so through innovation rather than compulsory subsidies.  Attempts at interference rarely make a difference – at best they offer a compelling illusion.  (Unfortunately, it is often compelling enough to win votes.)

The follow up question from the audience was predictable: if subsidies make not difference, then why do you take them?  “Ah,” says the concise farmer, “It only takes one to accept them, and then we all have to.”  In other words, once individual farmers accept a subsidy, they can then produce the product at a much lower price than those who are not accepting them, effectively putting the second group, those that want to earn their money honestly, out of business.  Ain’t government grand?

14

Cult of Personality? What Cult of Personality?

We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.   

 Hilaire Belloc

15

Edwin M. Stanton and Temporary Insanity

 

 

Edwin M. Stanton could be a pill.  Irritable, sarcastic and often completely unreasonable, no doubt many of the Union Generals who had to deal with him often thought that they were dealing with a very mad man.  Mad in an emotional sense Stanton often was, anger often seeming to be the prime emotion he displayed throughout his career, at least after the death of his beloved first wife in 1844 which had a souring impact on his disposition.  However, he was also a very able man, and that compensated for his complete lack of tact in dealing with virtually everyone he came into contact with.  Prior to becoming Secretary of War he had been one of the ablest attorneys in the country.  Doubtless his most famous, or rather infamous case, was in the defense of future Union general Daniel Sickles.

Sickles in 1859 was a Democrat Congressman from New York, already notorious for having been censured for bringing a prostitute into the New York General Assembly chamber.  Leaving his pregnant wife at home, on a trip to England he had introduced the same prostitute, Fanny White, to Queen Victoria under an alias, the surname of which was that of a political opponent in New York.  Sickles obviously viewed his vow of marital fidelity with complete contempt.  However he did not view the vow of fidelity given to him by his wife Teresa in the same light.  When he found out on February 26, 1859 that his long-suffering wife was carrying on an affair with the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Philip Barton Key II, the son of Francis Scott Key, the composer of the Star Spangled Banner, he murdered Key the next day in Lafayette Park across from the White House, shooting him through the heart.  Sickles immediately surrendered to the Attorney General who lived just a few blocks away.

His trial was one of the most sensational in American history.  Public opinion was almost totally on his side, painting Sickles as an outraged husband defending his wife Teresa from a villain who had seduced her.  Sickles engaged a stellar defense team which included Stanton.  The defense team had a problem.  No matter what the public thought as to his motivation, Sickles was manifestly guilty.  Stanton hit upon the idea of raising the novel defense of temporary insanity which had never before been successful in the United States.  This was a true stroke of legal genius.  It allowed the defense to put on endless lurid testimony as to the affair and, in effect, have the dead man tried rather than Sickles.  In his closing argument Stanton portrayed the ever adulterous Sickles as a defender of marriage: Continue Reading

14

The Forgotten Men & Women of America


In 1883, William Graham Sumner published an essay titled “The Forgotten Man” (originally titled “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” – not quite as catchy) which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The essay is a great exposition of the laissez-faire understanding and approach to social problems and articulates what I believe many on the libertarian right and within the Tea Party believe today. From a Catholic point of view, there is much I find agreeable within it, though there are certain tangents, unnecessary to the main argument, that I would take issue with.

Continue Reading

5

Catholic hospitals (and politicians?) being put “on notice”…

 

With the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) having been called to task by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), it may not be long before organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals will be called to task by the Pontifical Council for Health Care (PCHC).

Why?

According to one member of the PCHC, Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, it’s to preserve the identity of Catholic hospitals.  In many nations across the globe, this identity is being threatened as decisions at the local level are being made—using the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity—that undermine Church teaching.

St. Joseph’s Hospital
operating in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona

 

The first step will be taken when PCHC releases its updated Charter for Health Care Workers on June 16, 2013, the “Dignity of Life Day” during the Year of Faith, following CDF review and approval.  It’s that review and approval that should be neither overlooked nor underestimated.

The current Charter’s directives are divided into three categories: procreation, life, and death.  The revised Charter is said to discuss Church teaching as it concerns bioethics, healthcare coverage, and “orphan drugs” (providing affordable pharmaceutical treatments even though the market for the drugs is too small to make research, production, and distribution economically viable or profitable).

More importantly, the updated Charter will include a fourth section, “the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.”

It’s this fourth category—the second step—that organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals and some professionals working in them will find challenging.  While the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity advocate that decisions be made and action taken at the lowest possible level, a Catholic News Agency article is reporting that some employees at Catholic hospitals have taken that definition to mean that providing abortafacients, sterilizations, and abortions is permissible as is genetic experimentation and embryo selection for eugenics.

But, don’t miss what’s also in the document by focusing solely upon how some employees of Catholic hospitals across the globe are undermining their institution’s identity.

Why?

The updated Charter is said also to include CDF notes and instructions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, published in 2003.  This document states that while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia, or other attacks on human life.

Could it possibly be that CDF is going to use PCHC to fire a first salvo at  certain Catholic politicians?

If so, the inclusion of those  CDF notes and instructions is putting those Catholic politicians on notice that they no longer will be able to promote their support of  anti-life policies by claiming that the Church’s principles of solidarity and subsidiarity support their policy positions.

 

 

 

To read the articles, click on the following links:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1204785.htm

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-to-address-abortions-in-catholic-hospitals/

7

I, Pencil

The socialists, quasi-socialists and plain old economic illiterates currently at the head of our country could learn a lot by watching the above video of I Pencil and reading the 1958 essay I, Pencil by Leonard E Reed.  Go here to read it.  The complexities of markets can never be commanded by governments, merely distorted or destroyed.  During the hard times that lie ahead in the next four years, remember the pencil! Continue Reading

22

Beneath Contempt

 

 

Democrats have been stealing elections for a very long time, but lately they have been working a new angle:  exploiting the mentally handicapped for votes.  David Horowitz relates what he learned at a Thanksgiving dinner:

But even knowing this, I was not prepared for a conversation I had at Thanksgiving dinner today with my brother-in-law, Henry, who has lived most of his life in a home for the mentally disabled, and though now in his forties has the intelligence level of a six-year-old.

“Obama saved me,” he said to me out of the blue.

“What do you mean?”

“I voted for him for president and now he’s saving me.”

I was taken aback by these words, since Henry had no idea who Obama was, or what a president might be, and would be unable to fill out a registration form let alone get to the polling place by himself. So I asked him how he knew that and how he had registered and cast his vote. In halting, impeded speech he told me that the people who take care of him at the home filled out “the papers” to register him to vote, told him how Obama cared for him, even taught him the Obama chants, and then took him to the polling place to vote. They did the same for all of the mentally disabled patients in their care, approximately sixty in all.

This is so appalling in its contempt for the voting process, which is the very foundation of our democracy, and in its cynical exploitation of my brother-in-law and the other patients in the home, many of whose mental capacities are even more limited than his that I am at a loss for words to express it. I hope poll-watching groups like “True the Vote” will comb the rolls of residents at other homes for the mentally disabled, and attempt to stop this particular abuse. I hope that people who care about our country will make electoral fraud a focus of their political efforts, and work to protect the integrity of the voting process. Continue Reading

4

Pope Leo XIII on Christ the King

From Annum Sacrum:

3. This world-wide and solemn testimony of allegiance and piety is especially appropriate to Jesus Christ, who is the Head and Supreme Lord of the race. His empire extends not only over Catholic nations and those who, having been duly washed in the waters of holy baptism, belong of right to the Church, although erroneous opinions keep them astray, or dissent from her teaching cuts them off from her care; it comprises also all those who are deprived of the Christian faith, so that the whole human race is most truly under the power of Jesus Christ. For He who is the Only-begotten Son of God the Father, having the same substance with Him and being the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance (Hebrews i., 3) necessarily has everything in common with the Father, and therefore sovereign power over all things. This is why the Son of God thus speaks of Himself through the Prophet: “But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain. . . The Lord said to me, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm, ii.). By these words He declares that He has power from God over the whole Church, which is signified by Mount Sion, and also over the rest of the world to its uttermost ends. On what foundation this sovereign power rests is made sufficiently plain by the words, “Thou art My Son.” For by the very fact that He is the Son of the King of all, He is also the heir of all His Father’s power: hence the words-“I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance,” which are similar to those used by Paul the Apostle, “whom he bath appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews i., 2). Continue Reading

2

The Father of Our Country and the Almighty

Today is the feast day of Christ the King in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, signaling the ending of the Church year.  On this date my thoughts turn to April 30, 1789 when President George Washington commenced the government of the United States under its new Constitution with the first inaugural address.  Below is the address.  Pay special attention to the second paragraph where Washington acknowledges the role of God in bringing about the American Republic and his final paragraph where he states that America depends upon God’s cotinued blessing: so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

 

 

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence. Continue Reading

6

Black Friday and Worse Than Murder, Inc

 

Hattip to Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain.  Worse Than Murder, Inc., a/k/a Planned Parenthood, decided to offer a discount on their blood money services on the day after Thanksgiving in two of their affiliates in South Florida:

A Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in southern Florida is offering a black Friday discount — including $10 off a visit to the abortion center today.   Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast offered the special, saying, “Visit our West Palm Beach or Kendall Health Center for special after Thanksgiving savings on Friday, November 23rd.”

Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek noticed the Black Friday discount and responded, “Planned Parenthood brings new meaning to the term, “Black Friday,” doesn’t it?”   This is the same abortion business where the chair of the national Democratic party headlined a small rally last year.

 

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was named by pro-abortion President Barack Obama recently to take over as the head of the Democratic Party. At the time of her appointment to the position, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards praised Wasserman Schultz as a “heroine” for her extensive abortion advocacy. The appointment made it clear Obama would not run from his lengthy pro-abortion record. Continue Reading

7

To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King

 

 

 

Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

Isaiah 40:15

Something for the weekend.  To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King.  Written in 1941 by Father Martin B. Hellriegel, a German-American pastor in Saint Louis, as a direct response to the pretensions of the Third Reich and to remind people who actually reigns eternally.  We Americans have traditionally understood that God is in charge:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Abraham Lincoln ringingly set forth what this section of the Declaration means:  “These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.”

Nothing could be further from the nightmarish ideas that fueled the Third Reich, and Father Martin B. Hellriegel in his magnificent hymn conveys this majestic conception of God and of humanity under God.

 

Continue Reading

18

St. Christina the Astonishing and the Holiday Stinkiness

Alright, let’s face it. Is this the time of year, just after Thanksgiving, when you start dreading the impending “Holiday (Don’t call it Christmas) Season?” You know, the season of nightly news stories about how schools won’t allow the display of Christian symbols, the already beginning onslaught of commercialism and advertising, the atheist sloganeering that degrades an event so sacred, and all the politically correct puffery about how to speak of the Holy Celebration of The Birthday – Christ’s Mass – without actually saying it.

It’s almost intolerable and almost ruinous, like the odor of the hydro-treated petroleum distillates of Goo Gone® invading a warm and apple-cinnamony glowing kitchen. Pee-yew!

How to rise above it all? Well, there’s a unique, if not peculiar, saint who would probably react the way I’d like to react in the middle of holiday nonsense, St. Christina of Liége, also more appropriately named, St. Christina the Astonishing. She frequently tried to escape, well, worldly stinkiness. Continue Reading

22

Winston Churchill: Thanksgiving 1944

We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

Sir Winston Churchill

America has had fewer firmer friends among foreign leaders than the Great Commoner, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who heroically led Great Britain to victory in World War II.  Half American courtesy of his mother, Churchill was often regarded as having a brash American style according to more staid English politicians.   The first person to be granted honorary American citizenship by an Act of Congress, Churchill had a life long fondness for his maternal native land.  During World War II he was ever grateful for America as an ally which saved Great Britain.  Here is what he wrote about his reaction to the news of Pearl Harbor: Continue Reading

2

Thanksgiving Day Lesson: Socialism Never Works

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. Continue Reading

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Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1795

When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Our exemption hitherto from foreign war, an increasing prospect of the continuance of that exception, the great degree of internal tranquillity we have enjoyed, the recent confirmation of that tranquillity by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it, the happy course of our public affairs in general, the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens, are circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence toward us. In such a state of things it is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience. Continue Reading

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Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1863

If a nation ever needed Divine assistance it was our own America during the Civil War.  Riven in two, the nation must have seemed on a path to destruction by many of those who lived through that terrible trial.  Abraham Lincoln, as he led the United States through that struggle, increasingly found his mind turning to God.  This Proclamation was written by Secretary of State Seward, but the sentiments are no doubt ones in which Lincoln fully joined.

 

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. Continue Reading

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Why is the Church Political?

Why? To guard freedom.

This is the third and final in a series taken from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology. In it he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics.

The first article dealt with the fundamental claim to reason itself, why the atheistic view does not work and the Christian view must. The second article dealt with the ordered relationship of the Church and the University, how the Church must guide the search for truth. These are important concepts in our times. Some have asked whether the Church is partisan and what role she should play in the politics of civil society. Cardinal Ratzinger answered. Knowing how to explain this is a powerful tool for evangelization.

First, Church and Theology

Politics, rightly understood, is the practice of government or administration, so there is a political relationship between the Church and theology. The Church governs theology, but it is not a relationship concerned with Ecclesial powers which would be an “outright contradiction of the Church’s true nature.” The Church is not the “party headquarters where party ideology is reviewed in terms of a strategy for gaining power.”

The Church is the environment where reason seeks meaning. The Magisterium’s governing action is to warn theology against paths that lead to abstraction even as she respects the individual’s responsibility to inquire within the environment of faith. There is a duality, a productive functional relationship, a legitimate freedom.

Can this Freedom Fail?

Continue Reading

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Quelle Surprise!

France elected hard line socialists to power on May 15 of this year.  What has happened since?  Something that will come as no surprise to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of history:

Moody’s credit rating agency has stripped France of its coveted AAA rating and declared that the country’s economic outlook remains “negative”.

In what will be a severe blow to Socialist president François Hollande, the agency said it was reducing the country’s rating from AAA to AA1, claiming France’s ability for economic growth was being hampered by “structural challenges” including its lack of competitiveness, high unemployment, public debt and market rigidity.

It said it was not confident Hollande’s government could – or would – introduce the necessary structural reforms and spending cuts to improved its rating in the medium term and expressed concern over France’s exposure to risks from other ailing eurozone countries.

Moody’s decision follows Standard & Poor’s downgrading of France’s rating a notch in January.

It came as France was reeling from a damning Economist article entitled “The time-bomb at the heart of Europe”. The special report warned that the parlous state of the French economy, its rising unemployment, lack of competitiveness, dwindling industry and high public spending, could overshadow the problems of Greece or Spain, and sparked angry reactions from French ministers. Continue Reading

6

Ben Franklin and the Turkey

 

 

 

After the American Revolution, former American officers in that struggle created a fraternal organization called the Society of Cinncinatus, named after the Roman consul and dictator, a constitutional office of the Roman Republic in emergencies, who saved Rome through his efforts in the fifth century BC and then retired to his humble farm.  The Society selected as its symbol a bald eagle.  In a letter to his daughter Sally Bache on January 26, 1784, no doubt with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, Dr. Franklin indicated that he thought another bird would have been a better choice.

Others object to the Bald Eagle, as looking too much like a Dindon, or Turkey. For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country, tho’ exactly fit for that Order of Knights which the French call Chevaliers d’Industrie. I am on this account not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours, the first of the Species seen in Europe being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and serv’d up at the Wedding Table of Charles the ninth. He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on. Continue Reading

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Turkey Dreams and Disasters

 

 

 

As we prepare for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive.    Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.

 

Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction.    Deep frying a turkey poses various risks.

Here we have a case of the flaming avian:

 

 

William Shatner warns of the dangers of deep frying turkeys:

Continue Reading

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The Natural Order of Church and University

University of Bologna, Oldest University 1088

This is the second in a series taken from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology. In it he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics. The first article dealt with the fundamental claim to reason itself, from an atheistic view and the Christian view.

The Christian position is not based on “In the beginning was irrationality…” but on the opposite. The Gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.” God, the Creator who made everything out of nothing, is Reason Itself, and since we are made in the likeness and image of God, our ability to reason came from Reason Itself, revealed to us by Christ, the Word or Logos. The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. This article moves into the relationship, then, between the Church and the University.

Continue Reading

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Whatever became of “communio”?

 

Communio” (def.) the organic life of the Church where the diversity of gifts—like the various parts of the body—work together in complementary ways to usher in God’s reign.

St. Paul described communio using these words:

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Was this idyllic image not one of the primary images used by Second Vatican Council  to describe the Church and its organic life?

Communio”:

  • Neither “liberals” nor “conservatives.”
  • Neither “ultra-liberals” nor “ultra-conservatives.”
  • Neither “Tridentine” nor “post-Vatican II.”

Only the one People of God consisting of the Body of Christ and their gifts—diverse as they are—alive and at work with one another “transforming all things in Christ Jesus.”

After five decades, however, it appears that communio is out and hunkering down is in, at least according to the Reverend Richard McBrien who holds the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology Chair and is now hunkering down at the University of Notre Dame.  The  nation’s Catholic universities and colleges, Fr. McBrien observes,  are places “where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach.”

Not all bishops, mind you.  Just those “ultra-conservatives”—the Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees in the United States.

Unfortunately, it’s some ideological progressives who have made communio impossible. Following Vatican II, these progressives didn’t want, nor do they want, nor they never will want any conservative (forget the ultra-conservatives) intruding into their safe zone.

What these ideological progressives have always feared  most is any conservative bishop—not just an ultra-conservative—having the audacity to challenge the their magisterium on what they have made their home turf.

That said, Fr. McBrien’s article in the National Catholic Reporter may provide an indication of a far more profound change: The pendulum is changing directions, potentially threatening the protections afforded Fr. McBrien and those ideological progressives for nearly five decades.

Yes, those new conservative prelates are emphasizing fidelity to Church teaching.  That alone seems to be scaring the bejeezus out of Fr. McBrien and ideological progressives.

A formerly compliant national hierarchy—whose members generally allowed those progressives free reign to redefine Church teaching in their image and likeness—is becoming increasingly less compliant.  Its members may even possess sufficient backbone at some point in the near future to extend their long arm into those institutions and hold the ideological progressives—like Fr. McBrien—accountable for their doctrinal errors…in exactly the same way the nuns are now being held accountable for their doctrinal errors.

Of course, Fr. McBrien’s hope is that Benedict XVI’s successor will adopt McBrien’s progressive vision for the Church and will undo the “terrible backlash” visited on the U.S. Church by those ultra-conservative appointees who “overemphasize the abortion issue” over “social justice.”

Short of that, what’s next?  “Ideologically progressive professors at Catholic universities and colleges on the bus?”

The “signs of the times” indicate that something more may be transpiring than just the pendulum shifting direction: Communio with the Bishop of Rome is in.

The week after the NCR published Fr. McBrien’s article, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò, extended his long arm into the matter.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Viganò told an audience at the University of Notre Dame that it is a “grave and major problem” when self-professed Catholic faculty at Catholic institutions are the sources of teachings that conflict with Church teaching on important policy issues rather than defend it.  Professors at these institutions who do so, the Archbishop noted, are “allying with those forces that are pitted against the Church.  These institutions hold themselves out to be “Catholic.”  But, he observed:

This, my brothers and sisters, is a grave and major problem that challenges the first freedom of religious liberty and the higher purpose of the human person.

Maybe the signs of the times are signaling that time is running out for the ideological progressives and their project to deconstruct Catholic higher education.  And Fr. McBrien is worried about it.

 

 

To read the NCR article, click on the following link:
http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/showing-support-lcwr-during-these-trying-times

To read the CNA article, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/papal-nuncio-catholic-division-undermines-religious-freedom

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Thinking Rationally About Secession

Secession has been in the news lately. Well, not the mainstream news, for the most part, but local, Internet and alternative news outlets have been reporting a growing number of signatures added to secession petitions submitted to Washington (one has it at over 750,000 signatures). This began almost immediately after President Obama’s reelection, and while no one really expects this particular movement to go anywhere, people on both sides of our political divide take it somewhat seriously as a sign of how polarized and unstable our situation has become.

I’m going to tell you what I think about secession, and my hope is that readers will find it somewhat reasonable. In short, I reject the absolutely hysterical and frothing narrative that comes from some leftist quarters about the evil of secession. I don’t much appreciate the haughty dismissal and contempt that comes from some on both the left and the right, as if only a mental patient would want to secede from what America has become. Lastly, I don’t agree with the secessionists, but it has nothing to do with any sort of moral or philosophical objection to the principle of secession (I don’t think it is racist or crazy, in other words). Now to the meat and bones.

Continue Reading

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HHS Mandate Fight Not Going Away

One of the many dreadful results of the American people deciding to give the Southside Messiah another four years to see how much of the country he can gut, is that the struggle over the HHS mandate will not be resolved by Congress simply reversing the initiative of the Obama administration.

Lawsuits against the HHS Mandate have been meeting with some success, go here to read about injunctive relief being given to a private employer, and doubtless all of this will eventually end up before the Supreme Court.  It has been heartening to see how many non-Catholics have been standing with Catholics in this area.  For example, Tyndale House Publishers have gone to court and gotten injunctive relief.  Go here to read about it. Continue Reading

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American Militia in the Revolution: Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Part three of a series on militia in the American Revolution. Go here and here to read the previous posts in the series. On the eve of the Revolution the 13 colonies had no Army but they were not defenseless. Their militias constituted a military force of uncertain power but they had a history as old as their colonies and they allowed the colonists to assume that as a last resort they would not be helpless against the British Army. General Thomas Gage, the commander of the British garrison in Boston and the military governor of Massachusetts, viewed the militia as a constant threat to his forces, and it was his sending of a detachment of 700 troops to seize the militia arsenal at Concord that precipitated the American Revolution.

The battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 demonstrated both the strengths and the weaknesses of the American militia system. The initial clash at Lexington involved a standard militia unit of 77 men, not a picked minute man company. The militia was under the command of Captain John Parker, a veteran of the French and Indian War. Parker was in ill-health, suffering from tuberculosis, and some accounts indicate he was difficult to hear. 77 men of course stood no chance against 700 British regulars, and Parker seemed to regard his militia as making a political statement rather than actually attempting to stop the British. Shots were exchange, who fired first is unknown. The British swiftly brushed aside the fleeing militia and continued their march on Concord. So far, so ineffective, as far as the American militia was concerned.

But the British did not simply have to deal with one company of militia at Lexington. The entire country around Boston was up in arms, the word of the British foray spread by Paul Revere, William Dawes and other messengers, and the militia companies were assembling and marching to fight, convinced after the news of Lexington filtered out that the long-expected war had begun. Continue Reading

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Lincoln, a Review

Well, on Saturday I went with my family to see Lincoln. Considering that the screenplay was written by Tony Kushner and the film directed by Steven Spielberg, I wasn’t expecting much. I wouldn’t have been totally surprised to see something along the lines of “Gay Illinois Lincoln and the Confederacy of Doom!’.  Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It is a great film and perhaps a minor masterpiece. It is definitely one of the finest screen representations I have ever seen of Lincoln, and it is a worthy tribute to the Great Emancipator. Read below for the rest of my review, and the usual caveat regarding spoilers is in full force. Continue Reading

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The Ride to Dubno

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Whenever I need cheering up, or simply an energy boost, Franz Waxman’s Ride to Dubno always does the trick.  It was written for the movie Taras Bulba (1962) and the video clip at the beginning of the post is the amazing sequence where the song is played as the Cossack army gathers on its way to Dubno. Continue Reading

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Benghazi: The Truth Finally Begins to Come Out

 

 

 

David Petraeus, with little left to lose now, begins the process of the unraveling of the truth about Benghazi:

 

Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified in a closed-door hearing Friday  morning that his agency determined immediately after the Sept. 11 Libya attack  that “Al Qaeda involvement” was suspected — but the line was taken out in the  final version circulated to administration officials, according to a top  lawmaker who was briefed.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who spoke to reporters after Petraeus testified  before the House Intelligence Committee, indicated he and other lawmakers still  have plenty of questions about the aftermath of the attack.

“No one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking  points,” he said.

Petraeus was heading next to the Senate Intelligence Committee to  testify. At the same time, lawmakers unexpectedly convened a briefing with  top members of various committees to examine a Sept. 25 letter to President  Obama that asked a series of classified questions on Benghazi.

Petraeus’ testimony both challenges the Obama administration’s repeated  claims that the attack was a “spontaneous” protest over an anti-Islam video, and  according to King conflicts with his own briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14.  Sources have said Petraeus, in that briefing, also described the attack as a  protest that spun out of control. Continue Reading

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Red Nightmare 1962

An interesting artifact of the Cold War from 1962.  Jack Webb hosts a Department of Defense film in which a normal American citizen goes to sleep and has a nightmare in which America has been transformed into a Commmunist state.  It has a Twilight Zone quality to it and all it needs is Rod Serling as the host instead of “Just the Facts Ma’am” Webb.  I will leave to the viewers any invidious  comparisons with contemporary America!

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Jesuitical 14: Fordham, Coulter and Singer

 

Part 14 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Fordham President Joseph McShane, SJ, knows who his real enemy is.  Today Fordham is hosting the well known proponent of euthanasia and abortion Peter Singer at a conference charmingly entitled:  “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward.”  Singer is fine according to McShane, but he bitterly criticized the College Republicans recently at Fordham for sponsoring a speech by Ann Coulter.  Robert Shibley, at Professor William Jacobson’s magnicent blog College Insurrection, gives us the juicy details:

Fordham University is in a bit of a bind.

After loudly proclaiming his “disgust” with the “hate speech” of conservative pundit Ann Coulter in an email to all students, in the process slamming the Fordham College Republicans—his own students—as immature bigots who lack character, Fordham President Joseph McShane, S.J., is now faced with defending his administration’s invitation to philosopher and infanticide advocate Peter Singer to participate in a panel on “animal ethics.”

This puts Fordham in a tough spot.

Father McShane could have allowed the marketplace of ideas to function on its campus without engaging in an electronic temper tantrum. (To his credit, he did not ban Coulter from campus, although the College Republicans clearly saw which way the wind was blowing and canceled the event themselves—here’s one student’s reaction to that.) But he didn’t, and now Fordham is stuck trying to justify McShane’s statement.

In response to an email from a College Insurrection reader provided to us, Bob Howe, Senior Director of Communications at Fordham, penned the following response, attempting to explain why having Peter Singer advocating his positions on campus is totally different from having Ann Coulter advocate her positions: Continue Reading

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November 15, 1862: Lincoln Enjoins Observance of the Sabbath

Well this would give the ACLU fits today!  On November 15, 1862 Lincoln sent out the following general order:

GENERAL ORDER RESPECTING THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH DAY

IN THE ARMY AND NAVY.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 15, 1862.

The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the divine will demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.

The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperilled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High. “At this time of public distress,” adopting the words of Washington in 1776, “men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended:

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”

A. LINCOLN. Continue Reading

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Good News For Modern Democrats

 

One of the more nauseating features of the reelection of the South Side Messiah, is that we will have four more years  of the cult of personality that is promoted by some of Obama’s more deranged acolytes.  A current example is The Gospel According to Apostle Barack by Barbara A. Thompson.

The book description of this tome:

Yes, Barack had worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people, especially those who elected him in 2008. His followers needed to re-elect him to a second term, so that he could continue to accomplish the promises he made, thus, realizing his vision of America as a more perfect political union or “heaven here on earth” Then, as I began to contemplate ways to assist Barack in his 2012 re-election bid something miraculous happened. I felt God’s (His) Spirit beckoning me in my dreams at night. Listening, cautiously, I learned that Jesus walked the earth to create a more civilized society, Martin (Luther King) walked the earth to create a more justified society, but, Apostle Barack, the name he was called in my dreams, would walk the earth to create a more equalized society, for the middle class and working poor. Apostle Barack, the next young leader with a new cause, had been taken to the mountaintop and allowed to see over the other side. He had the answers to unlock the kingdom of “heaven here on earth” for his followers. The answers were repeated – over and over – in speeches Barack had made from his presidential announcement to his inaugural address. Those speeches or his teachings contained the answers to the middle class and working poor people living in a “heaven here on earth” For when the answers were unlocked and enacted, Apostle Barack’s vision of America would be realized.

Hmmm, I wonder what parables would be in the Gospel of Barack?  The Good Abortionist?  The Prodigal Differently Gendered Male Product of Conception?  The Civil Union at Cana?  The Ten Foolish Sluts?  The Unionized Laborers in the Vinyard?  The Unjust Republican Judge?

Barack would perform miracles in the Gospel:  walking on a sea of debt;  transforming water into taxes;  raising the dead because they hadn’t paid their death taxes;  transforming bread and wine into (skip that one, Apostle Biden snarfed them down).

The teachings of the Apostle Barack of course would take pride of place:

1.  Render unto Caesar Obama everything.

2.  Love Barack and love thy fellow Leftist.

3.  Blessed are the bribe givers for they shall receive their reward.

4.  Suffer the little children.

5.  The wages of sin are fun. Continue Reading

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Where We Go From Here: Republicans and a Changing Demographic

There has already been endless commentary on where we go from here after the recent election.  For my own part, I can only offer a few thoughts.

If the numbers are correct, the Republicans didn’t lose the election because of failure to convince their own.  By many measures, Romney out performed both McCain and George W. Bush in the Republican Party stronghold subgroups.  Consider that Romney took upwards of 59% of the white vote, while McCain garnered 56% and Bush took 57% and 56% in each of his election years.  (Source:  Gallup).  On the other hand, numerous sources have documented the decline in the Hispanic vote for Republicans of the last several decades.

The reason for the lost election, in part, is the changing demographics of the nation.  The subgroups in which Republicans have performed, and continue to perform well, are declining in their representation as a percent of the American people, whereas the demographic subgroups in which the Democrats typically perform well are experiencing an increase in their percent share of the population.  The dilemma, it seems, is that these demographic changes are on a trajectory that seems unlikely to change, which spells a particular problem for the Republican Party in years to come.  Mitt Romney lost the popular vote by less than three million votes, but ABC news reported on election night that if the percent of vote for each party in the various demographic subgroups stays the same, the Republicans will lose the 2020 election by more than fourteen million votes.

What this suggests is that the Republicans need to think carefully about how to attract votes on which they have not yet had to rely.  As Catholics, this should concerns us, because a very real possibility is that some within the party will push for a more relaxed stance on social issues, particularly abortion and same-sex marriage.  It doesn’t help that President Obama, after insisting in 2008 that abortion need not be a divisive issue and that we can all agree about the need to reduce the number of abortions, made it the issue of the closing weeks in the election cycle.  If the Republican Party puts forth a candidate that is in favor abortion and same sex marriage, Catholics who are interested in following teachings of the magisterium will be left without a candidate for whom they can cast a vote.  There will inevitably be a third party, but for many of us, this is not at all desirable.  Indeed, there was a time in the 2008 primary when we thought this would happen, had Rudy Giuliani maintained his early momentum.

It could also be that the party will become softer on religious freedom.  As American becomes more and more secularized, what was once a “fundamental right” will no longer be seen as important.  When the country was founded, virtually everybody had a vested interest in having their religious freedom both codified in the Constitution and defended in the public square.  But “times are-a-changin’,” and there are a growing number of people who are militantly opposed to organized religion.  It used to be that the atheists would keep to themselves and be content to simply laugh at us, but now they are going more and more on the offensive.  If there aren’t enough people who care about the freedom to practice their religion, then it will be difficult indeed to defend against attacks that seek to dismantle that liberty, particularly if the attacks are cloaked in the pursuit of a perceived greater freedom.

I propose that conservative Catholics be proactive in this regard.  Rather than waiting for suggestions that we bend on social issues, it is time that we put forward our own: it is time to take up the issue of immigration.  Now, I am the first to admit that this is an issue where people of good will can disagree, that the implementation of the principle differs from the principle itself, which is why it is not considered one of the “non-negotiables.”  However, we all know that this is the one area that we take the biggest hit from the American episcopacy.  Further, I really believe that this is low hanging fruit in some regards.  I think we can push forward with a reform agenda without compromising basic principles.

However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, it simply will not do to wait until four years from now.  We cannot hope to convince the nation of our seriousness to address this issue just months before an election. We cannot even wait until the midterm elections.  The time is now, and here is what I propose to our Republican representatives in Congress:

The financial cliff about which we have read so much in the last couple months is just around the corner.  The Bush era tax cuts are on the line.  The Republicans rightly want to renew all of these cuts, whereas the Democrats only want to renew those that don’t affect the wealthy.  I am not an economist, so I am not equipped to fully discuss the impact of each position.  However, it seems to me that the Democrats have enough political capital at the moment to push their agenda through.  I suggest that the Republicans in Congress recognize this and make a deal with the President.  We (meaning the Republican leadership) will accept his plan for the Bush era tex cuts, but we want assurance that (1) the very first issue tackled after the new year is a serious immigration reform package, and (2) we want to be a part of it.  We want our ideas heard, and we want credited with them.

From that point on, the Republican need to maintain both commitment and compassion as the package is assembled.  They need to stand up for the principle of basic human dignity and not appear to the stonewall the process.  The Republicans have been successfully portrayed by the opposition as the “Party of ‘No.’”  That image needs to be disassembled methodically and meticulously.

It may involve some compromise, and the reforms that are put in place may not be perfect by Republican standards.  However, if we don’t put forward this area as one in which we can grow and one in which we can take some leadership, there will be pressure from others to “compromise” on other issues, and these will be ones that will violate our Catholic consciences.

26

Why We’re Not Going Anywhere

Archdiocese launches Campaign for Religious Liberty

Let me explain, in as clear and precise terms as I can, why social conservatives are not going anywhere, nor should they go anywhere, but should remain right at the heart of the conservative movement and gain acceptance among libertarians as well, and should reject as the foolish garbage that it is all suggestions to the contrary.

First, our principles are not electoral losers. Leftists believe they are on “the right side of history”, comparing the campaign for “marriage equality” with every civil rights struggle of past eras. They believe that this fact is reflected in the way the youth vote splits and the purported reasons why. At the same time, they gloat and brag about the size of the Democratic share of the minority vote.

The merits of the “marriage equality” campaign don’t need to be discussed here. I’ve discussed them to death on this blog in previous posts. The fact remains that minorities are opposed to “marriage equality.” If Hispanics can be won over to the GOP on the immigration issue, it will put a stop to this “wrong side of history” nonsense for a generation. The uncomfortable alliance between racial minorities who hold socially conservative views and white liberals will finally be blown apart. Unlike them, when racial minorities finally do side with the GOP en masse, we won’t attribute white liberal hatred for them to “racism” (even though it sure looks like it sometimes). This is a battle of values, not skin colors, and a failure to see that is one of the reasons why the white liberal left will never win the future they mistakenly believe to be theirs.

Continue Reading

6

Explaining Reason: Atheism or Christianity?

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, devoted much writing and attention to questions such as this, not in isolation, but as they relate to academics and civil societies. In an essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics. He explains why such culturally shocking assertions, such as the subordination of the University and the State to the Church, are naturally and rationally ordered relationships for the common good, and it all begins with an explanation about reason.

The University and the State should be subordinate to the Church? Atheism would not agree with this, of course, and it sounds like an outlandish claim in the world today. If you have ever wondered how to respond to the insistence that faith should play no part in academic instruction or public policy, you will find Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation illuminating. This will take a few essays to cover, so this is the first in the series and it deals with the fundamental claim to reason itself.

Can Atheism Explain Reason?

The word “reason” is repeated a lot today, but without an understanding of what it really is. Atheists lay claim to it, assuming that it is the opposite of faith. The word has its root in classical Latin, ratio, and it means intellectual power, the capacity for rational thought.

A tenet of atheism is that reason is a product of human evolution, just another step along the pathway that began with the Big Bang, a “random byproduct of the ocean of irrationality from which everything actually sprang.” But how can this be? If reason is real, then it is as inconceivable that the Big Bang is the primordial beginning of the universe as it is inconceivable that a circle can be squared. That is — it is impossible. The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. No, atheism has no explanation for the existence of reason. Continue Reading

30

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning. . .

The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, has written a letter of congratulations to Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and nominee as Archbishop of Canterbury.

+Hilarion
Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

Consider its contents:

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,

 

I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.

 

You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).

 

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.

 

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.

 

We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.

 

I wish you God’s help in your important work.

 

“May the God of love and peace be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

 

+Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

“Congratulations” might not be the best word to describe the entire contents of Bishop Hilarion’s letter.

“Innovations,” “deviations,” “increasingly estrange,” “further contribute to a further division of Christendom,” and “good fraternal relationships between us will revive” sound more like a “warning” to the new Archbishop of Canterbury: His denomination is falling off a moral cliff.

Bishop Hilarion doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the orthodox Christian faith, does he?

Imagine what the National Catholic Reporter would have to say if the USCCB or a U.S. metropolitan archbishop sent  the new Archbishop of Canterbury a similar letter of congratulations!

5

Benghazi: Petraeus Thought He Could Keep His Job

 

According to the Washington Post, Petraeus was hoping to keep his job as CIA Director and thought the affair would not become public knowledge:

 

But some of his closest advisers who served with him during his last command in Iraq said Monday that Petraeus planned to stay in the job even after he acknowledged the affair to the FBI, hoping the episode would never become public. He resigned last week after being told to do so by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. on the day President Obama was reelected.

“Obviously, he knew about the relationship for months, he knew about the affair, he was in it, so yes, he was not going to resign,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and Petraeus’s executive officer during the Iraq “surge,” who spoke Monday with the former general for about half an hour.  “But once he knew it was going to go public, he thought that resigning was the right thing to do. There is no way it would have remained private.” Continue Reading

10

Have I Got a Party For Them!

 

 

After every major Republican defeat the party plays a game of lifeboat which boils down to:  “If we just dump over those rascals I have never agreed with, everything would be hunky dory.”  After a few months of this, the party settles down, learns from its defeats, the Democrats fall on their face, and the party comes roaring back.  In the present period of Republican angst, some commentators have been calling for the social conservatives to go into the deep blue political void.  Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is typical.

Fellow conservatives, please stop obsessing about what other adults might be doing in their bedrooms, so long as it’s lawful and consensual and doesn’t impinge in some obvious way on you. This obsession is socially uncouth, politically counterproductive and, too often, unwittingly revealing.

Also, if gay people wish to lead conventionally bourgeois lives by getting married, that may be lunacy on their part but it’s a credit to our values. Channeling passions that cannot be repressed toward socially productive ends is the genius of the American way. The alternative is the tapped foot and the wide stance.

Also, please tone down the abortion extremism. Supporting so-called partial-birth abortions, as too many liberals do, is abortion extremism. But so is opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest, to say nothing of the life of the mother. Democrats did better with a president who wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare”; Republicans would have done better by adopting former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s call for a “truce” on social issues.

I always find the sheer political fantasy land of such proposals amusing.  Social conservatives are  the core of the Republican party.  No one can be involved with the Republican party for long without noticing that most of the volunteers in Republican campaigns are social conservatives.  They are the ones who do the door to door canvassing, put up yard signs, man the phones, etc.  Without them any Republican campaign would be a mere shell.  Yes, it would be a masterstroke for Republicans to alienate their most devoted supporters. Continue Reading

8

Terri Schiavo Could Not Be Reached For Comment

Here is some new research for a court to consider prior to sentencing another person in a vegetative state to death by dehydration , as was done to Terri Schiavo:

 

 

A Canadian man presumed to be in a permanent vegetative state for more than a decade is “talking” to researchers and answering their questions.

Severely brain injured in a traffic crash 12 years ago, Scott Routley’s  condition had been officially classified “vegetative state,” unable to  communicate with the outside world.

His family has always believed differently.

Now, high-tech brain imaging appears to have proven them right.

With the help of functional MRI, Routley has been able to answer “No” to the  question, “Are you in pain?”

The finding, first reported Tuesday by the BBC, could have  profound implications for helping those locked in a vegetative state.

“Brain imaging techniques are helping us to  understand more about what some of these patients can and can’t do, particularly  things they can do that might not be apparent from standard clinical  examination,” said Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for  Brain and Mind. The British neuroscientist moved to Canada last year from the University of Cambridge.

“His official clinical condition has been that he was in a vegetative state.  But his family have always maintained that there is more going on with Scott — that he is aware of many things going on around him, and even that he was able  to communicate,” Owen said in an interview with Postmedia News. Continue Reading

24

Benghazi: A Turn to the Truly Bizarre

 

As scandals go, the Benghazi-Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley matter is scaling the heights of the truly bizarre.  Here are the latest developments worthy of the pen of Flaubert.

1.  Jill and the G-Man-Allegedly the FBI agent in charge of the initial investigation of the anonymous e-mails purportedly sent by Paula Broadwell to Jill Kelley warning her to stay away from Petraeus, became infatuated with Kelley and sent her a photo of himself shirtless.  He was removed from the case supposedly when his higher-ups determined that his objectivity had been compromised.  (Do you think?)  He supposedly was the FBI whistleblower who contacted Republican Congressman David Reichert and Eric Cantor with  allegations that the government was dragging its feet on the case out of political considerations so that it would not surface before the election.

2. Jill and the Lawyers-Kelley has supposedly engaged the services of a high-priced lawyer and a PR flack.

The PR flack formerly represented Monica Lewinsky.  Now why should she need them?  Read on.

3.  Jill and the Marine-Marine Corp four star General John Allen is apparently under investigation for 20 to 30 thousand pages of e-mails and correspondence between him and Jill Kelley, the “unpaid social liaison” at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  Allen is currently the commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, effectively the commander in chief of American and Nato forces in that country.  Both Allen and Petraeus served at the base, home of Central Command for the Middle East, prior to Petraeus being put in command in Afghanistan in 2010. Continue Reading

2

Runnymede

The sixteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.

One of the great passions in the life of Kipling was English history.  Runnymede was one of several poems on English history he wrote for A School History of England (1911).  Another great passion of his was liberty, and in the poem Runnymede, Kipling combined both of these passions.  Whenever in English history some great struggle has arisen since 1215 the cry of Magna Carta has usually been raised.  The basis of English liberty, the Great Charter has an honored place both in English and American history.  To look at Magna Carta with a modern eye is initially to be disappointed, since much of it deals with disputes between his barons and King John  which, at first glance, lack any contemporary relevance.  However, the binding of the power of the government, and the restriction of the scope and power of the State, is of crucial importance today, as it is in all times and places.  There are passages additionally that do have a contemporary resonance:

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It is no accident that Saint Thomas More referred to the passage in Magna Carta that guarantees the liberty of the Church  in his speech after his trial:

That Law was even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations. Continue Reading

26

204K Swing in Votes and Romney Would Have Been President

 

Since the defeat of Romney last Tuesday there have been a plethora of gloom and doom stories written about the GOP by gleeful Leftists and conservatives who should know better.  Jim Gerahty at National Review Online gives us some needed perspective:

 

 

On Wednesday, I added up Obama’s margin in a few key states, to get a sense of just how agonizingly short the Romney campaign finished from 270 electoral votes.

Some of those straggling precincts have reported, and so here is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Times’ results map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide. Continue Reading

1

Militia Immediately Prior to the American Revolution

In the first post in this series on militia in the American Revolution, which may be read here, we looked at American militia in the Colonial period. In the years following the French and Indian War, as Great Britain and her colonies increasingly clashed, several of the colonies began to beef up their militias as an armed clash with Great Britain moved from unthinkable to likely. Massachusetts took the lead in this process with the formation of minutemen companies. This was not an innovation. The Massachusetts militia had fielded minutemen companies since 1645. These were young men, no more than 30, chosen for their physical strength and endurance, and formed into picked companies.

The necessity for putting the Massachusetts militia on a war footing was underlined in 1774. General Thomas Gage was appointed military governor of Massachusetts in early 1774. He embarked on a campaign to disarm the Massachusetts militia. In an event that is largely forgotten today but was a huge event throughout the colonies in 1774, on September 1, 1774 Gage sent an expedition of British troops to seized the powder at the arsenal located in Sommerville, Massachusetts. The British succeeded in their mission and almost started the Revolutionary War. Militia units formed up in alarm throughout Massachusetts and surrounding colonies in New England, thinking that a war had begun while wild rumors flew, and it was several days before calm was restored. This Powder Alarm caused the militia in Massachusetts and the colonies to take steps to protect their arsenals for fear of a deliberate British policy to disarm them and leave them helpless before the redcoats. The stage was set for Lexington and Concord. Continue Reading

29

Benghazi: Drip, Drip, Drip

The truth about the Benghazi debacle keeps coming out drip by drip:

1.  Paula Knows-At the beginning of the post we see the alleged mistress of David Petraeus telling an audience at a symposium in late October this bombshell:

 “A group of Delta Force operators are very…the most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and CIA annex that were under attack,” said Ms. Broadwell. “Now I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get these prisoners back. It’s still being vetted.”

This is the first I have heard about this.  Was Petraeus sharing highly classified information with his paramour?

2.  Video Schmideo-The above detail from the mouth of Broadwell makes nonsense of the administration claim that the Mohammed video caused this.  That was a lie and the Administration knew it was a lie.

3.  Libyan Prisoners-Libyan prisoners?  What sort of involvement is the administration getting us into in Libya?  The CIA has denied this, but right now I will take the word of the alleged mistress of the former CIA Director over that of the CIA flack who issued the denial. Continue Reading