Let’s Ignore That Pesky Constitution

Monday, December 31, AD 2012



Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown (surprise!), doesn’t think much of the Constitution as he explains in an op-ed in the New York Times:

Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?       

Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.       

As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

Of course we should still obey those parts of the Constitution that Professor Seidman likes:

This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.       

Nor should we have a debate about, for instance, how long the president’s term should last or whether Congress should consist of two houses. Some matters are better left settled, even if not in exactly the way we favor. Nor, finally, should we have an all-powerful president free to do whatever he wants. Even without constitutional fealty, the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states. There is even something to be said for an elite body like the Supreme Court with the power to impose its views of political morality on the country.       

What would change is not the existence of these institutions, but the basis on which they claim legitimacy. The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief. Congress might well retain the power of the purse, but this power would have to be defended on contemporary policy grounds, not abstruse constitutional doctrine. The Supreme Court could stop pretending that its decisions protecting same-sex intimacy or limiting affirmative action were rooted in constitutional text.

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50 Responses to Let’s Ignore That Pesky Constitution

  • “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.” John Adams

  • I remember a book about rewriting the Constitution coming out just after Obama’s first election. I didn’t read anything about it but I believe its premise was essentially that of Prof. Seidman.

    This of course is part of the long-term project of the Left. The Constitution stops their control of power. More of this to come for sure.

  • The man reveals that he has no business teaching constitutional law, and, one might wager, never did.

    Legal security requires that positive law be respected. If you do not care for the positive law, advocate altering it through the mechanisms it provides. Does this occur to Prof. Seidman?

    Actually, though, we would probably be better off with a body of constitutional law enacted by statute (with interstitial case law) as they do in Israel and New Zealand than with the system we have now. As of now, any statutory enactment can be annulled by a set of tenured lawyers meeting in secret. The lawyers in question usually reflect the tastes and prejudices of the elite bar and the law professoriate and have a structurally antinomian world view, just like this character. Let’s ignore the whole thing and tell Prof. Seidman to get stuffed.

  • Necessity a.k.a. the common good is the alibi of all tyrants.

    From Instapundit: “I dunno. Does this mean we should ignore Roe? Or Miranda? And Baker v. Carr? And if the Constitution is this obsolete and “evil,” then maybe secession isn’t off the table after all? . . . .”

    “It’s beyond even that. Their entire authority comes from the Constitution, and is the only reason we aren’t entitled simply to ignore them, or hang them from a tree for their insolence. Take away that source of authority because you don’t like the constraints it involves, and you’re a lot closer to the tree. Those who think themselves above the law are not in a position to hide behind it.

    “MORE: On Facebook, Randy Barnett snarks: ‘I suppose this means the income tax could now be unconstitutional if we can just get 5 votes.’

    “MORE STILL: Reader Bill Bacon writes: ‘If, after all, the Constitution isn’t to be followed then doesn’t that mean we default to the Articles of Confederation? Don’t know about you, but I personally like the idea of having to get unanimous consent of the states to raise taxes….’ Heh.

    “Related: New York Sun: The Times Gives Up .’It will be illuminating to see how far the Times takes its latest lament, particularly because these days the Left generally seems to see the Constitution as a threat more to the liberal than the conservative cause.’ As I say, that’s an admission of sorts.”

    No one would know what is law and what not. Whimsical gangsters running unchecked/unlimited government will decide. Talk about uncertainty.

    The ruling class will support it. To the ruled class, “We know what is good for you, shut up!”

    From Marcus Lucanus, “Pharsallia”, “Here I abandoned peace and desecrated law; fortune it is you I follow. Farewell to treaties. From now on war is our judge!”

  • No one would know what is law and what not. Whimsical gangsters running unchecked/unlimited government will decide. Talk about uncertainty.

    What is disconcerting is that the person sending up this trial balloon is a law professor – someone who argues for a living and teaches others to argue for a living. He does not seem to have thought this through. Neither has the editor of the op-ed page.

    The liberal arts college I know best had a provision in its faculty handbook which allowed the provost to dismiss a tenured professor whose medical or psychological condition prevented him from working. A septuagenarian philosophy professor abruptly retired in 1998 and the word on the street on that campus was that he was told he could retire or face dismissal under that clause. He had been manifesting peculiar behavior for about five years at that point. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis was made about a month after he taught his last class.

    The law dean at Georgetown needs to read the little used clauses in faculty contracts.

  • …but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

    What then, when the perverted make up the leading body? When the perverted continue to vote the perverted in? What next?
    This Constitutional expert might want to step out of the cesspool and rinse off.

  • I have mentioned Orestes Brownson and his ideas about Catholicism and America before in these comments. From:
    I get the understanding that the framers built better than they knew and that

    Brownson concluded that Americans think both falsely and detrimentally about liberty when they believe that the Constitution is their own creature to be manipulated at will. “

  • The thing is that those who justify their activist ideas under the guise of the philosphy of a “living breathing” Constitution is that they don’t actually believe that the Constitution is living and breathing because every living organism grows in an organic manner. And their understanding of the Consitution is anything but that!

    Robert George wrote an interesting article about a decade ago on Lincoln and his concern about judical despotism:


  • I’ve heard it said that when it rains, the Angels are weeping. Beginning to think that for the past few years it has really been the Madisons (James and Dolly) and the rest of the Founding Fathers.

  • Jefferson wrote to Madison on September 6 1789: “it may be proved, that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation: they may manage it, then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters, too, of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors are extinguished then, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being, till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right. ”

    He goes on to argue that a right of amendment or repeal is not a satisfactory equivalent.

    Jefferson clearly embraced the concept of law as an expression of the general will.

  • Jefferson clearly embraced the concept of law as an expression of the general will.

    Something of interest to Jefferson aficionados. Never been true in this country.

    The trouble we have had for about 60 years now is the belief that the law should be a function of the volonte generale of the appellate judiciary and their friends in the academy. Canada developed a particularly virulent case of this social disease when the country foolishly patriated its constitution with Pierre Trudeau’s repellant “Charter of Rights” appended. Figures in Israel’s judiciary would clearly like to seize this sort of discretion but are constrained by the capacity of the Knesset to put them out of business. The expression of this in Europe is not judicial misfeasance but the abuses of the European Commission, &c. The regime class is all over the occidental world and needs to be forcibly dispossessed.

    The political theorist Gottfried Dietze contended that the Anglophone world had seen repeated instances of what he referred to by the odd term ‘diffidatio’. He thought they occurred on cycles measured in centuries and that we were due for another. The baron’s mutiny which produced the Magna Carta, the revolt against Charles I, and the American Revolution were examples he offered of a social mechanism restoring ordered liberty. Our enemy in this country is not anything so discrete and forthright as an abusive crown. It is a whole social system whereby everything is put under the supervision of lawyers advised by the academy and the helping professions and justified by systemic mendacity (courtesy the bar, the academy and the dependents in the press corps).

  • Art Deco

    As Jefferson says, in pointing out thatt he power of repeal is not an equivalent:”But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be, indeed, if every form of government were so perfectly contrived, that the will of the majority could always be obtained, fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form: The people cannot assemble themselves; their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils, bribery corrupts them, personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents; and other impediments arise, so as to prove to every practical man, that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.”

    It is worth also recalling his view on the September Massacres: “”Many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as anybody. But—it was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree—was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood?” If he believed that maintaining the constitution was “an act of force, not of right,” he was plainly not a man averse to the people asserting their rights.

    He was more of a Jacobin, than is commonly acknowledged.

  • MPS, I am no history buff, but what you said about Jefferson’s view of the September Massacres in the late summer of 1792 in France indicates that he believed the ends justified the means even though he deplored much of what happened in the means: the loss of innocent life. The Roman Church was severely persecuted during this period, principally because Pope Pius VI refused in 1791 to give support to a civil Cnstitution that attempted to re-organize the Church hierarchy based on the will of the “peepul.” Here is a link to his letter: http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p6charit.htm. I do not understand how anyone could think the bloody violence of the French Revolution was a good thing. This is 1st Samuel chapter 8 taken to an extreme. And in today’s Amerika we may yet find the “peepul” to become as ruthless and bloodthirsty as those in France in the 1790s.

  • MPS, Jefferson’s correspondence is just not that important. That was not how political institutions were structured in 1800 and that is not how they are structured today. If you are fascinated with Jefferson the person or with a history of controversies and currents of thought in the latter 18th c. anglosphere, I suppose his opinions are interesting.

  • And in today’s Amerika we may yet find the “peepul” to become as ruthless and bloodthirsty as those in France in the 1790s.

    Cud-chewing indifference and the celebrity culture are much more of a problem among rank-and-file Americans than the formation of mobs. Look at the statistics on lynching over the period running from 1893 to about 1946. They tell a story of a declining propensity or capacity to engage in violent collective action. Where you see mobs and riot today, it is almost invariably in connection with public entertainments like sporting events, carnivals, and rock concerts.

    Our real problem is not with mobs, but with the social strata and occupational subcultures which fancy themselves our betters.

  • Art Deco, I think that I have to agree with you. However, isn’t the end result the same: eventual persecution of the Church?

  • MPS, Jefferson’s correspondence is just not that important.

    To the degree that his ideas have been incorporated and implemented by the left, unfortunately they are.

  • Paul W. Primavera & Art Deco

    I quote Jefferson, not because I agree with his views, but because Jefferson was far from being an unimportant figure in the American Revolution.

    His views on the Church are quite explicit: “This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions, whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail; whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal; it goes to hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions, to hereditary orders, distinctions and appellations, to perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences, with a long train of et ceteras”

    In that year of 1789, the theory that political power comes from those over whom it is exercised, and depends upon their will; that every authority not so constituted is illegitimate and precarious; that the past is more a warning than an example; that the earth belongs to those who are on it, not under it, was obviously current on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Hamilton, by the by, called the Constitution, “a frail and worthless fabric, and a temporary bond.” John Adam, an aristocrat at heart (which Jefferson was not) declared that “No Republic could ever last that had not a Senate deeply and strongly rooted, strong enough to bear up against all popular storms and passions. That as to trusting to a popular assembly for the preservation of our liberties, it was the merest chimera imaginable; they never had any rule of decision but their own will.”

  • To the degree that his ideas have been incorporated and implemented by the left, unfortunately they are.

    I suspect that rather tends to exaggerate the erudition of working politicians and social policy wonks. However, you’re the intellectual historian, not me, and you have the Congressional staff post, so perhaps you can elaborate. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that in nearly twenty years in politics and government, he had never had a discussion of ideas. Have things changed? It is difficult to believe that Louise Slaughter (to take one example) would know Jefferson’s correspondence from a cheap romance novel.

  • The Constitution affirms that the sovereign personhood of each and every individual citizen constitutes government and that government is the servant of the people. The Costitution also affirmes that there is a Supreme Sovereign Being (there can be only one Supreme Sovereign Being, as two preempt each other) WHOM sovereign persons must acknowledge in thanksgiving for Divine Providence. God, Whom we all must be free to worship, as only God has endowed unalienable rights, eternal truths that our founding fathers inscribed in our founding principles. As Justice Scalia states: Our Constitution has got us dead to rights. America is the only nation on the face of the earth that guarantees freedom, truth and Justice.

  • Art Deco: “Jefferson clearly embraced the concept of law as an expression of the general will.”
    The law must bring us Justice and Truth, therefore, a majority of one in Truth and Justice that all persons might be free. E Pluribus Unum. Jefferson clearly embraced the concept of law as an expression of good will. Peace on earth to men of good will.

  • People often accuse the Right of being anti-intellectual. It’s hard to imagine a more anti-intellectual approach to law than:

    Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

    Simply staggering.

  • Fascinating discussion! Happy 2013!

  • “Jefferson clearly embraced the concept of law as an expression of the general will.”

    Jefferson reject the authority of the Church and 2000 years of Sacred Tradition in having created his very own Bible:


    Would not such a person that believe that all rightful authority comes from the “peepul” and not from God?

    I do not denigrate Jefferson or his memory, and he certainly was a great man. Nevertheless, in being a man, he was sometimes (maybe oftimes) wrong.

  • Mary, I have not read Jefferson’s letters. You are confounding my views with those of Michael Patterson-Seymour.

  • John Adam, an aristocrat at heart (which Jefferson was not)

    John Adams was an attorney living and working in the village of Braintree, Massachusetts. Thomas Jefferson was a country squire. Why is a member of the bourgeois and proto-urban sliver of colonial America an aristocrat at heart and a man occupying a position analagous to the British gentry something else?

  • The Reign of Terror in France was nothing more than the Act of Supremacy in England, power run amok. Jefferson worked against the Reign of Terror coming to America after the Revolutionary War. Jefferson wanted something better for America. We had men of honor: George Washington who declined a crown to be king. Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, who refuse to take vengeance and restitution against those who supported England duing the War of Independence, after the peace treaty was signed. It seems that our Reign of Terror came before and precipitated our Declaration of Independence. Our Amendments do not change the Constitution, but reinforce every right and freedom. If the Constitution must be amended let it be to make it stronger and more precise.

  • Art Deco: “Mary, I have not read Jefferson’s letters. You are confounding my views with those of Michael Patterson-Seymour.” Yes, you are correct. The general will or the will of the people must be of a people of good will for the common good. Moving foward in good will. Do accept my apology.

  • Discussing the various personalities and states of life of those founders is not as interesting to me as the philosophical understanding of what it means to have a constitution, where it came from and how it was possible. America’s “providential” or unwritten constitution underpins our Constitution written by TJ etal. ??
    In the article I submitted to you “The written constitution is merely legislative; only a people who are already constituted can lay down the law. An unwritten constitution is always the precondition for a written constitution, and it sets limits to what the written constitution can reasonably accomplish. “?

    In these comment boxes many are talking in effect, about the contract.
    I wonder if we no longer have the precondition to have such an agreement?

    “American founders had as “givens” the republican form of government from Rome, science and art from Greece, British political institutions and the Christian truth about the rights of human beings — “the rights of beings who are both part of and transcend by their natures a particular political community.” (Lawler) ?

  • America’s “providential” or unwritten constitution underpins our Constitution written by TJ etal. ??

    There were 55 delegates to the convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Jefferson was not one of them. George Washington was there, Benjamin Franklin was there, Alexander Hamilton was there, James Madison was there, Elbridge Gerry was there. Adams and Jefferson were not.

  • : ) of course you are right Art. I goofed – and I know better– but still asking whether or not we have the social underpinning for the Constitution.. as did the culture that was able to declare a Declaration and constitute a Constitution

  • Waal: here is what the sociopathic Mr. Trudeau persuaded Canadian legislators to accept:


    Be most pleased if Dr. Zummo would publish an annotation and critique of form and content.

  • I just keep looking over that editorial trying to articulate exactly what’s wrong with it, but there’s too much wrong with it. It is, simply put, completely wrong. There’s nothing you can point to and say “this is where his thinking went off the rails”. It was never anywhere near the rails.

    But just to keep myself from going nuts, let me spell this out. He says that Congress shouldn’t be bound by rules like the origination of spending bills from the House. But he also says that there should be two houses of Congress. Well, where is the list of rules that we should retain or ignore? What is the algorithm? If none exists, how are we to determine which rules are obsolete? He says that on the flexible points (without defining which ones are flexible), each party should have to make its case on the grounds of the political moment. Make the case to whom? It bothers him that, since Supreme Court decisions have been written from differing legal theories, a person can’t agree with them all. How are people going to come to agreement without any legal theories? Even if you want to call such an environment “law”, and I don’t see how you could, you could never call anything settled law, because there’s no means to settle anything.

    Art suggests that there’s mental illness involved. I think he’s right. And I know that a newspaper doesn’t necessarily endorse every opinion piece it publishes. But even if the professor has lost his mind, how can the NYT justify printing his editorial?

    The thing is, the author isn’t advocating for liberal policies. The only underlying ideology that could allow his approach is nihilism. That rules which has power to rule.

  • Be most pleased if Dr. Zummo would publish an annotation and critique of form and content.

    Wait, now I’m being given homework?

    Just one correction for Art – don’t work for Congress, though I know plenty that do. You’re probably right about their understanding of political philosophy.

  • To clarify my previous remark: I was referring to Congressmen, not the staff. If the people that I knew that worked for Congress were actually members – including the liberals – it would be a marked improvement.

  • Let’s ignore the pesky president. Let’s ignore the lousy laws. Let’s ignore the crass calumnies. Let’s ignore mealy-mouthed minions.

    From James Scott’s book, Two Cheers for Anarchy, quoted by Instapundit in late November 2012,

    “One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.”

    Let us become ungovernable.

    “To burst in twain the galling chain, and free our native land!”

  • Wait, now I’m being given homework?

    I do not make assignments, but Tito Edwards lets you post. Anzlyne wants to know what you get in positive law if the cultural underpinnings which attended the original constitution are removed. Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s handiwork, promulgated in 1982, gives us a notion (all the more so because the man was Canada’s answer to John Edwards).

  • Please let me clarify “good will”. If 99.9% of the will of the people voted for abortion, ssm, pornography, prostitution, and only 0.1% voted for the Right to Life, virtue, virginity and innocence, the 0.1% will of the people would become law, because this 0.1% has maintained their sovereign personhood in truth to constitute the government. It is the duty of government to protect and defend the good of the people as man is created in virginity and innocence. Corruption does not have freedom of speech, press or assembly. Only truth has freedom. Vice may not be validated. Crime may not be legalized. Only 0.1% of the people may constitute government, the rest have become outlaws and separated themselves from the truth.
    Informed sexual consent begins at emancipation, eighteen years of age. Yet, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has advocated informed sexual consent for girls of fourteen years of age in her book. Of course, the Legislature passed the fourteen years of age as informed consent behind closed doors on Christmas Eve, legalizing rape and prostitution. When the people learned of it, the Legislature moved the age to sixteen and cheated all the young out of two years of security and the rest of the people out of our right to the truth and the blessings of Liberty. The newly begotten sovereign person endowed with unalienable rights by our Creator is the standard of Justice in legal and moral innocence and virginity and constitutes the state with his sovereign personhood endowed by our Creator. The one cell at conception does the will of God by existing as a human being. Lies about fake husbands and fake wives are perjury in a court of law as are lies about human sexuality in pornography.
    Good will is the will of the people who are in conformity with all unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.

  • Anzlyne

    “The written constitution is merely legislative; only a people who are already constituted can lay down the law.”

    That is true, for the nation precedes the state: unlike the state, it is not mechanical in its construction, but organic in its growth. As Mazzini, “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs, they glory in the same tradition; and they demand to associate freely, without obstacles, without foreign domination, in order to elaborate and express their idea…”

    Of course, the national will embodies the national character, which pervades the natures of its members and expresses itself in their actions.

  • I was just joking, Art.

    Having glanced at the document, what strikes me more than any particular point is the length of it. The Framers originally resisted incorporating a Bill of Rights precisely because they thought an enumeration of specific rights would have indicated that anything not mentioned was not protected. The 9th Amendment was their way of addressing this problem, but I’m not sure it has worked as intended.

    Of course our particular Bill of Rights was shorter and broader. This points to a much different conception of the role of government. If you are developing a government that you believe will have a fairly minimal role in society, then you would not deem it necessary to create an extensive list of basic rights. That the Canadian Bill of Rights (or Charter of Freedoms) runs so long tells you all you need to know about how its framers viewed the role of government in society. The bigger the leviathan state, the more rights you have to specifically enumerate. Note the length of the 1924 Soviet Constitution.

  • Paul Zummo

    It is interesting to compare the Bill of Rights, with the contemporaneous Declaration of Human & Civic Rights (26 August 1789)


    It is a short document, two pages in length. It is a recognition, not an enactment of rights: “the National Assembly recognises and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of Man and of the Citizen.”

    Some notable features are the enumeration of “the natural and imprescriptible rights of Man. These rights are Liberty, Property, Safety and Resistance to Oppression (Art 2), the exclusive sovereignty of the nation (Art 3), law as an expression of the general will, which must be the same for all (Art 6) the accountability of all public officials (Art 15- this was particularly directed at the immunity of the Crown) and the laconic Art 16 – “Any society in which no provision is made for guaranteeing rights or for the separation of powers, has no Constitution.”

    Most modern national and international declarations of rights draw on both the American and French models, although, for some reason, the right of Resistance to Oppression tends to be downplayed, or, even, passed over in silence.

  • Thanks Mary De Voe. If the will of the people is not good or does not even seek standards of good, a constitution for a democracy that could endure seems impossible. The constitution becomes “pesky” and irritating like some kind of a harness that chafes.
    ..which reminds me of the “dog joy” a sled dog shows when the kennel is approached by the master with a harness in his hands…. Of course the dog is
    not a philosopher, but the animal does recognize that the freedom to run comes with that particular constraint.

  • Thanks be to God, Anzlyne: In the matter of free will and the will of the people, only good will is free, otherwise, “the people” are impugned, denigrated and violated. When a sovereign person consents to commit a sin and crime his sovereignty over himself is diminished. Diminished capacity is recognized in a court of law, but this is different, in that, the sovereignty of the person endowed at conception is perfect, but with the consent to crime, the person’s sovereignty is diminished, so that, the person may not constitute the state with or without his sovereign personhood. The criminal cannot become a citizen of the state, a state that he has not constituted, and because he has not constituted it, the state is not there for him. Taking citizenship to another sovereign person’s state, one must adhere to the principles adhered to by the other sovereign person.

    In denying to the sovereign person, the human being, his divine destiny in being composed of human body and immortal, rational soul, and in denying his endowed civil rights, and trying to deny to the sovereign person, another citizen, the practice of his endowed unalienable rights, the atheist diminishes, compromises and may be forfeiting his own sovereignty, to the degree of his consent to deprive another citizen, who is a sovereign in his own right. The atheist loses his ability to constitute the state. Without his sovereignty, the atheist has no authentic sovereignty to constitute the state.

    The Freedom from Religion Foundation is good for atheists but for people of faith, it becomes the Freedom from Freedom of Religion Foundation. To the degree that the atheist conspires, intends and consents to deny to another citizen the acknowledgement of the other citizen’s sovereign personhood and his unalienable rights, the atheist diminishes his own sovereign personhood and forfeits his unalienable rights. The atheist becomes a traitor to our founding principles, an outlaw, exiled, cut off from his people.

    In the Catholic Church, those members who conspire and consent to do evil, abuse other sovereign persons, no matter what age, self-excommunicate themselves, to the degree of the sin and crime, immediately upon surrendering their sovereign personhood to the evil. The evil doers are separated from the Body of Christ.

    The Catholic Church was instituted by Jesus Christ to offer worship to God and to continue Christ’s work in bringing souls back to Christ’s Father in heaven.

    The state prosecutes, the Church forgives. The state cannot indulge in prostitution, abortion, pornography, and sodomy and expect to prosecute child abuse.

    The state must prosecute crime. The Catholic Church must forgive sins. When the state validates vice, legalizes crime and indulges in evil, the state, constituted by the good will of free men, ceases to exist as freedom and becomes an atheocracy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: from Jefferson: “This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, etc.” Could Jefferson be calling upon the trust in which all Church property is held for our constitutional posterity, (from the Preamble), for all future generations to come? The “IN GOD WE TRUST”. Our obligation to hand over to the coming generations the sovereignty, the unalienable rights, the founding principles, the reigns of a nations so brought to birth in freedom, that truth and Justice in law and tradition flourish, so that when citizens lay down to sleep in death, they may rest in peace. I find it particularly fascinating that both Jefferson and Adams passed into eternal life on July 4th, only four hours apart.

  • Well said Donald!

  • All I have to say is either this chap has gone off the deep end or simply wants

  • Many persons quote opinions of our founding fathers as law. The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are ratified by all the states and are our law of the land no matter what is their writers’ opinion. Having been ratified by the states, the law of the land and our founding principles must be interpreted by the Supreme Court as written. The “living Constitution ” cannot be interpreted to mean anything but what it says or unless change is ratified by two-thirds of the states, it is what it is. The principle of separation of church and state is a good example of an opinion of Thomas Jefferson’s that has been abused to the point of criminality in depriving freedom, when in fact, Jefferson stated his opinion to support the First Amendment. In interpreting our founding principles, it is necessary to consider the whole of the law. Speaking to God is free speech even for the unborn. Piecemeal, reconstructed, often destroys the meaning and intent.

  • Mary de Voe

    Jefferson does raise a rather interesting point in his letter to Madison.

    If law is a command (an act of the will), how can it outlast those who will it? In other words, how can the commands of the dead be binding on the living?

    That is why Jefferson argues that all laws should have a “sunset clause” or expiry date.

    For practical reasons, he does not think the right of repeal an equivalent – See my post of 1 January at 12:08 supra.

  • Michael PS:
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    Every newly created human soul brought into existence and endowed with sovereign personhood is an “I AM”. Not one single “I AM” may be left out of “WE”. The Preamble to our U.S. Constitution states specifically the purpose of our Constitution. While the Law of the Land may vary, be amended, or change with the culture, the purpose of its being does not change or may the Preamble be removed, erased of modified. If the rights and freedoms endowed as unalienable by our Creator can be removed or modified, the people are no longer free, in the freedom created for us by our Creator. I keep using “their Creator” as does the Declaration of Independence precisely because atheists and others have removed the acknowledgement of God from our culture and from the public square.
    Our “POSTERITY” are all future generations to whom and for whom we must secure the Blessings of Liberty through our constitutional laws. Is there a right to privacy to destroy our Constitutional posterity? There is not, especially when that right to privacy removes from every male citizen the ownership of his own seed and offspring, and from the newly begotten person the freedom to defend his life from capital punishment, and from our posterity, the right to have informed consent at emancipation. Is there a right to corrupt our natural virginity, innocence and Justice? There is not, especially since Virginity, innocence and Justice are endowed unalienable virtues granted to the human person through the person’s immortal soul created by our Creator and endowed with all virtue and innocence. Is there a right to redefine the human person as having no soul for the purposes of the state? There is not, especially since the state does not create the human being’s rational, immortal soul, nor does the state endow unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These unalienable rights are endowed by our Creator, WHOM, the atheist has removed from us. The atheist has criminalized the worship of God in thought, word and deed, in belief, in speech, in press and in peaceable assembly, abandoning citizens as prey for predators, and countermanding the states’ obligation to protect and preserve our virtue… “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

  • Michael PS:
    It cannot be otherwise. When all is said and done, it is a dead issue, not the Constitution, but the greedy evil to instill injustice and harm into the nation, by misrepresenting, and miscarrying our Justice.

December 31, 1862: Battle of Stones River Begins

Monday, December 31, AD 2012

“Non nobis Domine! non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam.”

General William S. Rosecrans at the end of his report on the battle of Stones River, attributing the Union victory to God.

An unjustly obscure battle of the Civil War began 150 years ago today:  Stones River.  Based on the number of combatants involved, it was the bloodiest battle fought in an extremely bloody War.  The two armies involved, the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee, were struggling for control of middle Tennessee.  If the Confederate Army of Tennessee could be chased out of middle Tennessee, then Union control of Nashville was secure, and it could be used as a springboard for the conquest of southeastern Tennessee and the eventual invasion of Georgia.  If the Union Army of the Cumberland could be defeated, then Nashville might fall, and the Confederate heartland be secured from invasion.  The stakes were high at Stones River.  A critical factor for the Union was that morale in the North was plummeting.  The Army of the Potomac had suffered a shattering defeat a few weeks before at Fredericksburg, and Grant and his Army of the Tennessee seemed to be stymied by the Confederate fortress city of Vicksburg.  The War for the Union seemed to be going no place at immense cost in blood and treasure.  If the Army of the Cumberland led by General Rosecrans was defeated, voices raised in the North to “let the erring sisters go” might swell into a chorus that would lead eventually to a negotiated peace, especially after election losses for the Republicans in the Congressional elections already demonstrated deep dissatisfaction in the North as to the progress of the War.

General Rosecrans led the Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville the day after Christmas and marched southeast 40 miles to challenge the Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro.  The armies were comparable in size with the Army of the Cumberland having 41,000 men opposed to the 35,000 of the Army of the Tennessee.  Both Rosecrans and Bragg planned to attack the opposing army by attacking its right flank.  On December 31, Bragg struck first.

December 31, 1862 Stones River

Confederate General William J. Hardee led his corps in a slashing attack at 8:00 AM against General Alexander M. McCook’s corps, and by 10:00 AM had chased the Union troops back three miles before they rallied.  Rosecrans cancelled the attack against the Confederate right by General Thomas L. Crittenden’s corps, and rushed reinforcements to his embattled right.  Confederate General Leonidas Polk, an Episcopalian bishop in civilian life, launched simultaneous attacks against the left of McCook’s corp.  Here General Phil Sheridan’s division put up a stout resistance, but was eventually driven back.


By late morning the Union army had its back to Stones River and its line perpendicular on its right to its original position.  Rosecrans, who seemed to be everywhere on the battlefield that day, succeeded in rallying his troops.  The left of the Union line held against repeated assaults, the fiercest fighting centering on a four-acre wooded tract, known until the battle as the Round Forest, held by Colonel William B. Hazen’s brigade.  The ferocity of the fighting can be judged by the fact that after the battle the tract of land would ever be known as Hell’s Half Acre.  The Union forces held and by 4:30 PM. winter darkness brought an end to that day’s fighting.

Rosecrans held a council of war that night to determine if the army should stand or retreat.  General George H. Thomas who had led his corps in the center with his customary skill and determination made the laconic comment that “There is no better place to die” and Rosecrans readily agreed.  The Army of the Cumberland would stand and fight.

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William S. Rosecrans: Crusader for the Union

Sunday, December 30, AD 2012

General William S. Rosecrans


Outside of his family, General William S. Rosecrans had three great passions in his life:  His religion, Roman Catholicism, to which he had converted as a cadet at West Point, the Army and the Union.  In the Civil War all three passions coincided.  Rising to the rank of Major General and achieving command of the Army of the Cumberland, until he was removed in the aftermath of the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Rosecrans conducted himself in the field as if he were a Crusader knight of old.

Raised a Methodist, Rosecrans’ conversion was a life long turning point for him.  He wrote to his family with such zeal for his new-found faith that his brother Sylvester began to take instruction in the Faith.  Sylvester would convert, become a priest, and eventually be the first bishop of Columbus, Ohio.

His most precious possession was his Rosary and he said the Rosary at least once each day. In battle the Rosary would usually be in his hand as he gave commands.  He had a personal chaplain, Father Patrick Treacy, who said Mass for him each morning and would busy himself the rest of the day saying masses for the troops and helping with the wounded.  In battle he exposed himself to enemy fire ceaselessly as he rode behind the General.   Rosecrans, after military matters were taken care of, delighted in debating theology with his staff officers late into the evening.

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8 Responses to William S. Rosecrans: Crusader for the Union

Predictions 2013

Sunday, December 30, AD 2012

cracked crystal ball


Well, it is time for me to boldly go where angels fear to tread and make my predictions for 2013.

1.  No new gun control legislation-Whenever either party wins a presidential victory for a second term, they begin feeling their oats and tend to overestimate both their popularity and their power.  The Democrats are in that condition now, and I predict that the beginning of the path to what I anticipate will be a bad election year for Democrats in 2014 will be a bitter, and failed, attempt to pass new gun control legislation.

2.  Recession-The Economy will slip back into a recession with the unemployment rate rising above nine percent by the end of the year.

3.  Kerry seat-John Kerry will be confirmed as Secretary of State, God help us, and Scott Brown, the pinch hitter of the Senate, will win the special election for his seat in icy blue Massachusetts.

4.  Virginia and New Jersey-The Republicans will retain the governorships in both New Jersey and Virginia.

5.  Contraceptive Mandate-The contraceptive mandate will be ruled to be unconstituional on First Amendment religious freedom grounds.  Go here to the Becket Fund, which has been waging the court fights across the country in regard to the mandate, for the decision of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals which begins  setting the ground for ultimate Supreme Court review in 2014.

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14 Responses to Predictions 2013

  • What about Europe?
    I think that Greece will leave the euro. And Spain?

    South America?
    Everything is suspicious, but I think that Chavez will die. Argentina will continue in financial trouble and Brazil will be worse.

    Japan? Recession as usual, and tensions with China, as usual also.

    China? Who knows.

    And, of course, Pedro will be wrong.

  • China could be quite interesting Pedro. The Chinese have been risking war with Japan and the US over the Japanese Senkaku islands. I suspect this is largely for domestic purposes as the Chinese Communist party is confronted with an ailing economy and has zip ideas how to deal with it.


    A Sino-American clash, something else to worry about in 2013, although I view it as unlikely.

  • I have hope that SSPX will accept B16’s compromise and reunite with the Church in 2013.

    I foresee a half-hearted and ham-fisted immigration reform bill becoming law.

    I expect a Supreme Court Justice to retire. God help us!

  • I predict 365 days of “Friday the Thirteenth.”

    I just finished reading WSJ Weekend edition “Review” regular Joe Queenan’s puff piece on “idiocy” in 2012. He missed the biggest idiocy of 2012: re-electing the worst president in history.

  • 8. Syria-The Syrian regime will be unseated and that will send shock waves throughout the Middle East. The Syrian state was the classic Arab one party dictatorship kept in power through a completely loyal military with no compunction about drowning any revolt in a sea of blood. When it falls look for uprisings throughout the Middle East. The prime prop of the Syrian regime, Iran, might well have a violent revolt that will make Syria look tame by comparison.

    Dunno. The closest analogues to the ‘classic Arab one party dictatorship’ in the Near East and adjacent areas would be the Muslim post-Soviet republics (bar Kyrgyzstan); however, the political life in these states appears to be influenced by a different set of currents than those in the rest of the Near East. Syria is quite atypical of the Near East nowadays. Nearly every other state the region is much more pluralistic (the Saudi monarchy being an exception) and only the military regime in the Sudan is sanguinary enough to be in the same category as the Assad crew. The Assad regime is not only a praetorian party-state but also the manifestation of the political subjection of the Syrian majority by the Alawite minority. Only the Tikriti/Ba’ath regime in Iraq (among all post-war regimes) had this characteristic.

    My wager about Iran would be that the duration and level of violence would resemble more the fall of Mubarak in Egypt. Just my $0.02.

  • Really, Donald?

    The Cubs not winning the World Series? That’s not a prediction, that’s fate. It’s like my newborn waking up at 2 am and 4 am…like clockwork.


  • That is completely accurate Jonathan!

  • My prediction: one of the many many Obama scandals will begin to stick.

  • “My prediction: one of the many many Obama scandals will begin to stick.”

    Probably. After a President is re-elected people begin to understand, even his partisans, that he is basically in the rear view mirror as far as future elections go, and there tends to be much less of a “protecting the quarterback” attitude, one of several reasons why most Presidential second terms tend to be a mess.

  • Predictions:
    Something else will go wrong with my house.
    I will feel extremely sad when my first child starts kindergarten.
    Work will annoy me.

  • Argentina will continue in financial trouble

    That’s not so much a prediction as an observation.

  • My bets –

    The fall of Assad is inevitable. I think that most of the region expects it, though. The shock waves will be minimal outside Lebanon and Turkey. Turkey could get really ugly. They’re experiencing their own demographic nightmare, as the secular, slightly-more-European population is getting outpaced by the crazies. If Syria falls, the Kurds will push hard for their own state, and Turkey may well respond with that special hospitality that they roll out for ethnic minorities.

    Obama tell-all books? Interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. One thing that’s surprised me is the level of control that the Clintons have over the press. I thought they’d lost it 1998, but they’ve done amazing work rehabilitating Bill’s image, and criticism of Hillary is still unallowed. So I don’t see an anti-Obama backlash being permitted until those two give it the go-ahead.

    I’m not sure if Mrs. Clinton will run in 2016. But the Democratic Party is going to have to be very careful over the next four years. I’m hoping that they trip up badly and have their party break out into the race war that they’ve been encouraging the rest of us to have for the past 4 / 50 / 150 / 224 years.

  • The problem with Obama Donald is not that he overestimates his popularity. Obamcare is proof that he is willing to ram a major piece of crap (I mean legislation) down the throats of the American people regardless of how unpopular it is.

    Here’s another presdiction, Obama will continue to bully the repulican leadership and the republicans will continue to not fight back.

  • Glad to see you could be right in ALL your predictions including number 11 (because if you’re right about the first ten, you’ll be wrong on 11, which is what you successfully predicted).

Inevitable and Despicable

Saturday, December 29, AD 2012




On this blog I sometimes have written harsh words about my profession.  Sometimes I suspect I have been too harsh.  Then a story like this appears and I realize yet again that I have not been harsh enough:


A $100 million claim on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor is the first legal action to come out of the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead two weeks ago.

              The unidentified client, referred to as Jill Doe, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire, according to the claim filed by New Haven-based attorney Irv Pinsky.

              “As a consequence, the … child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the claim said.

              Pinsky said he filed a claim on Thursday with state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., whose office must give permission before a lawsuit can be filed against the state.

              “We all know its going to happen again,” Pinsky said on Friday. “Society has to take action.”

              Twenty children and six adults were shot dead on December 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The children were all 6 and 7 years old.

              Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.”

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17 Responses to Inevitable and Despicable

  • Here is one for Pinsky to ponder; “Thy habitation is in the midst of deceit: through deceit they have refused to know me, saith the Lord.” Jer.4:6

    Love of money has blinded the fool. The “Jill Doe” family and hired hand pinsky should spend one weekend in each of the twenty households where the little souls lived. By the end of the twentieth weekend they might reconsider. Might!

  • Quite apart from the issue of liability, one would expect a plea-in-law that “The sum concluded for being nimious and excessive, decree should not be pronounced as concluded for.”

    Excessive claims have been greatly curtailed in Scotland, by the practice of ordering a separate proof on the issue of quantum, with pursuers being penalised in expenses, where the original claim was inordinate, either being refused their own expenses, or being ordained to pay the defender’s.

  • Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.”

    Well, that is true; if you warehouse high-value targets in an area where they have no defense, you are failing to take appropriate steps to prevent forseeable harm.

    Somehow, though, I don’t think removing the no-guns-in-schools laws would make the parent(s) of the little girl drop the lawsuit.

  • Foxfier

    I doubt if liability would extend that far.

    If I leave my watch with a jeweller for cleaning, he is liable for theft, for theft can be prevented by vigilance. But he is not liable for robbery, for no one can be expected to resist force (vis major).

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour-
    Even if he puts out a large sign saying “I have the following inventory of valuable objects and will be here, alone, from 10am to 4AM; I also have a moral opposition to violence, even in the face of loss or death”?

    In robbery, the person generally didn’t remove protections with force of law. If you remove protections from those who enter a building, you’re taking on the responsibility of those protections yourself.

  • As much as I utterly loath the “no CC on base” policies, at least military bases have armed guards at the gates, and decent defenses, with law enforcement at the most minutes away from areas that have good targets; ditto for court houses that disarm you down to the baby silverware. (no, not joking, had it happen)

    I don’t want schools to turn into fortresses, but if you’re going to disarm everyone who goes in, you’ve got to assume the responsibility.

  • Foxfier,

    The restrictions on liability should be simple and certain. In practise, their primary function is to determine the liability of insurers: in the case put, the owner’s or the jeweller’s. Underwriters can calculate their premiums accordingly.

    As for a sign, well, pawnbrokers are required to display a sign that that are not liable for fire, robbery, the Queen’s enemies, mobbing and rioting or act of God, but that cover is available, if requested, at 2.5% of the advance.

  • The restrictions on liability should be simple and certain.

    Yes, they should. And if you take responsibility for something then take steps that put it at risk, without doing something to counter that risk, you are in quite a different situation than someone who took no steps either way.

  • I think (I could be wrong) the trial liars were denied their opportunities for the 9/11 tragedy when the US government paid off potential plaintiffs. The plaintiffs signed releases to recieve their million-dollar checks.

    As to “forseeable harm”, how foresseable was the confluence of events wherein a madman murdered his mother and killed the school children? What were the odds, i.e., “forseeability”?

    For a long time, I thought such a school massacre would be committed by jihadis. They murdered a bunch in Chechnya a few years back.

    We need to control muslims not guns.

  • I guess the lawyers’ many lawsuits happen because people hire the lawyers to do so. There is just generally so much of the idea that some body owes me something for a whole array of victimizing events, lesser than this one. People want revenge and they want heads to roll- someone to be fired, some one to be electrocuted, somebody to pay big money.. none of which will make the wounds heal.

  • This is simply par for the course. I saw the headline this morning, and I wondered what took them so long. But then, I deal with attorneys every day who make outrageous claims and demand large sums. It would be silly to expect lawyers to stop lawyering. What truly concerns me, though, are the judges that are drawn from the ranks of such attorneys. One can mount a vigorous defense against an opposing attorney. It is impossible to defend against a judge who is determined to mangle the law and the facts in order to rule against you. Such an event is not infrequent.

  • Opportunist possibly?

  • As to “forseeable harm”, how foresseable was the confluence of events wherein a madman murdered his mother and killed the school children? What were the odds, i.e., “forseeability”?

    The specific events, not foreseeable; that when you collect a lot of people into one area, disarm everyone and POST SIGNS that they’re all defenseless?

    Good heavens, Washington state holds you liable if your car is stolen if you didn’t do a laundry list of things, including set the parking brake and (if it is on an incline) turning the wheels to the curb.

  • Atticus Finch is a fiction. In a society where every harm is reducible to a dollar amount, what do we expect? There’s Judge Posner, whom Libertarians worship, arguing to reduce babies to a commodity for sale to the highest bidder. There are icons of the Left with not a whit of common sense or an ounce or moral rectitude, who conjure penumbras (must be all the booze they consumed in law school making them see things which aren’t there).

    Combine a glut of people attending law school not because they seek to practice over a lifetime, but to cash out or further an agenda to “remake” society in their own image and likeness, and you’ve got real problems. I used to think it was funny when people described physicians thinking they were gods. I knew better: they’re not called the “Supremes” because they sang on the Motown label!

  • Donald, I second the stand by the First Respondent, Philip. This is what we should be discussing, not other irrelevant side shows.

    What are the parents of the dead children feeling when they read about this greedy Family and their crazy lawyers suing for a living child when theirs are gone for good. We have lost the sense of the Value of Life for the love of money. Shame on that Family and all those who think like them.

  • The claim (execrable in itself) amount isn’t really that high.

    Consider that the trial, appeals, and judgment could come down in, say, 2017. If the FRB doesn’t stop printing dollars, by then, the regime will be issuing (PhD recommended) $1,000,000,000,000.00 platinum/palladium, one-ounce coins.

    Then, a loaf of bread will cost $100,000 in Federal Reserve confetti.

  • Mary-
    Keep it simple….

    Thanks. Maybe I’ve oversimplified, however greed is contagious. Where is the beef?

Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memory

Saturday, December 29, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  The song Thanks for the Memory made immortal by comedian Bob Hope.  One of the great stand up comedians of all time, Hope was also a true patriot:

For fifty years Bob Hope entertained US troops, from 1941-1991, from World War 2 to the Gulf War.  He brought old jokes, delivered in an unforgettable style, beautiful starlets, and a touch of home to troops far away from home.   As long as there is a US military Bob Hope will never be forgotten.  I have had many veterans tear up when recalling attending a Bob Hope show in a war zone, a bright moment in a fairly grim period of their lives.

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3 Responses to Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memory

Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

Saturday, December 29, AD 2012

Today is the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Thomas Becket, the holy, blessed martyr.  His story tells us how foreign to our time the Middle Ages are.  Becket was a worldly cleric who had risen to be chancellor of England for Henry II.  Henry seized the opportunity to place his man, Becket, on the throne of Canterbury as Primate of England.  Becket had a sudden and complete religious conversion and fought Henry for the liberty of the Church for which Becket suffered exile and, ultimately, murder.  In penance for Becket’s murder Henry had himself beaten by the monks at Canterbury before the tomb of his former friend who, two years after his death, was canonized by the Pope.  For over three centuries his tomb became one of the major pilgrimage sites in Europe and inspired the immortal Canterbury Tales.

The Middle Ages were fully as immersed in sin as our own time, although with different mixtures of evil, but the sins of the Middle Ages were often followed by great penances and acts of contrition that brightened and inspired countless lives down through the centuries.  This we have lost and this we must regain.  G.K. Chesterton put what we lack in high relief when he wrote about Saint Thomas:

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4 Responses to Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

  • St Thomas’s cultus was by no means confined to England.

    There are churches dedicated to him in Normandy (as one would expect) and in the Pas de Calais, but also in Sicily, where there was a strong Norman presence. The Duomo of Masala, where the wine comes from, is dedicated to him. The present Baroque church replaces a 12th century Norman one. I never eat zabaglione or tiramisu, which I do rather often, but I think of it.

  • The thing to do was owning up… ? Not pointing fingers?
    Yes, very different to our 21 century minds.

  • Pingback: Employees Paying the Price for Obama Admin’s HHS Mandate | Big Pulpit
  • Once a person, a Community, Country or a Nation has lost the sense of sin and, therefore, sees no need for repentance, convesion and reparation they then deliberately chose the road to Eternal Damnation. Let us never cease to pray for the sinners, especially the hardened sinners for whom Jesus dictated to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska the Divine Mercy Chaplet. He also stated that this Chaplet should be prayed at the bedside of the dying so that they can be touched by His Grace and repent at that very, very final moment of their lives.

    How I wish in this Year of Faith the children of the Church would adopt this Prayer for the sinful Civil Leaders – and those who embrace their actions and who do not even accept they have done any wrong with their anti-God policies, Laws and disordered lifestyles.

    “For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world”

What to pray for on the 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace: Some facts and some perspective…

Friday, December 28, AD 2012


With the “World Day of Prayer for Peace” just around the corner, what should people be praying for?  Perhaps a few facts along with a bit of perspective will provide a better focus for answering that question.

First: some facts.

Since its inception, the State of Israel has been a social democracy and, for decades, the American Jewish community has supported both the Jewish state as well as the Democrat Party.  Noteworthy is the fact that 78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and, as reported by JTA, 69-70% did the same in 2012.

Yes, that’s down approximately 10%.  But, still, a pretty substantial majority.

Why do so many American Jews support President Obama whose support for the State of Israel during his first term was tepid, at best?  Perhaps the majority of the American Jewish community is prepared to support Israel as long as none of them has to pay the ultimate price.

"Now you listen here, Bibi."

“Now you listen to me, Bibi.”

Then, too, many in the U.S. Catholic community have for decades supported the Jewish state as well as the Democrat Party.  Like the American Jewish community, 51% of Catholics favored the President in 2012 while 54% favored then-candidate Obama in 2008.  Not as substantial a majority, but substantial enough.

Yet, among those on the American catholic left, support for the Jewish state has been declining during the past two decades, shifting to the Palestinians.  Citing so-called “human rights abuses” by successive Israeli governments, many on the American catholic left have been promoting Yasser Arafat as the poster boy for freedom fighters across the globe.

Interestingly, this pro-Palestinian bent in the American catholic left increased during the closing decades of the Cold War when the United States supported Israel and the then-Soviet Union supported the anti-Israel, Arabic world.  It culminated in  the “Arab Spring,” as many of the American catholic left supported this so-called “pro-democracy movement.”  In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was driven from office and made the poster boy of all brutal dictators.  Many on the American catholic left rejoiced in his departure from the scene.

Second: some perspective.

With a democratically elected, constitutional, radical Muslim regime soon to be ruling Egypt, those on the American catholic left who supported the Arab Spring and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak will find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.  This new regime is likely to end up being even more unjust and violent than Mubarak’s.

How so?  Just check out what’s been transpiring in places where radical Muslims are in control and backed by Sharia law, places like Iran and Nigeria.  Pope Benedict XVI cited the latter in his 2012 “Urbi et Orbi,” calling for “concord in Nigeria” where “savage acts of terrorism [by the militant Muslim Jihadist group Boko Haram] continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians.”

A Catholic Church destroyed by the militant Muslim Jihadist group Boko Haram

A Catholic Church that was bombed by the radical Muslim group Boko Haram

Will these facts matter to the American catholic left?

Probably not.

After all, the American catholic left was pretty much silent when it came to President Obama’s nifty little war (aka, “Overseas Contingency Operation”) in Libya.  Then, too, they have been pretty much silent about the injustices being perpetrated by radical Muslims in Africa.

Third: prayer.

Sadly for those who have been suffering these horrific injustices for the better part of the past decade, what the American catholic left prioritized during those year are the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, for which an American catholic left social justice group—the Center of Concern—published a special prayer:

Prayer for the Millennium Goals:

In a world where so many go hungry,
Let us make the fruits of Creation
available for all.
In a world where one billion of our brothers and sisters
do not have safe drinking water,
Let us help the waters run clear.
In a world where so many children
die so young,
And so many mothers die in childbirth,
And so many families
are ravaged by disease,
Let us bring health and healing.
In a world where women carry
such heavy burdens,
Let us recognize and restore
the rights of all.  (by Jane Deren)

Noble humanistic concerns, but far short of the mark during a period when Catholics  are being brutally terrorized and murdered by radical Muslims under the disguise of democratic reforms.

In seeking to right the injustices caused by man’s inhumanity against man, what Catholics and all people of good will should be concerned with is true and abiding peace which is pure grace, God’s gift to mankind.  This grace should be the focus of prayer this 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace.



To access the American Jewish community’s voting record, click on the following link:

To access the Catholic vote in 2012 and 2008, click on the following links:

To read the text of Pope Benedict’s “Urbi et Orbi,” click on the following link:

To learn more about the Center of Concern, click on the following link:

To learn more about Catholic social justice, check out “Education for Justice” at the Center of  Concern:



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13 Responses to What to pray for on the 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace: Some facts and some perspective…

  • My parish priest mentioned at Christmas Mass that it was great that the UN had recognized Palestine as a state. Considering persecution of Arab Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority I found his statement wrongheaded to be charitable:


  • You might tell your priest that the UN did NOT recognize Palestine as a state. The UN granted the Palestinians “Observer Status” in the General Assembly. A state can’t be “recognized” until or unless it has recognizable borders. “Palestine” doesn’t.

  • Actually I think the UN did recognize the Palestinians as a state:

    “The resolution elevates their status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” the same category as the Vatican, which Palestinians hope will provide new leverage in their dealings with Israel.”



  • What the UN did was to create a legal fiction because the UN does not have the right to create states. Palestine is a “state” de jure but not de facto.

    An analogy: The UN’s action in regard to Palestine has no more consequence than does the so-called “ordination” of women to the priesthood.

  • Well, the UN created Israel in 1947 along with a separate Arab state in 1947. The Arabs rejected the partition plan and Israel established its independence on the battlefield by fending off the attacks of all of its Arab neighbors and the opposition of most of the Arabs within Israel and the West Bank. What the UN resolution does is give the Palestinians a big propaganda victory, as well as being a barometer for how little support Israel has for its continued existence around the globe. If I were an Israeli I would not expect a peaceful year in 2013. There is a big war brewing in the Middle East and this is one more sign to the Israelis that they can depend only upon themselves.

  • Sorry, your revision of history is incorrect. The facts are:

    “United Nations General Assembly Resolution no. 181 (II) of 1947 (commonly known as the Palestine Partition Plan) recommended the creation from all of the lands of Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River, representing 22% of original Mandatory Palestine, a Jewish state (comprising slightly less than 11% of the Land), an Arab state (comprising slightly less than 11% of the Land) and an internationally-administered greater Jerusalem.

    It is often asserted that the modern State of Israel was created by this Resolution as a byproduct of Europe’s alleged guilty conscience over its complicity in the Holocaust.

    Although widely accepted as an unassailable truism, this assertion is quite false.

    Israel’s juridical birth certificate is the pre-Holocaust League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922 (provisionally operative from 1920) — not the post-Holocaust United Nations Palestine Partition Plan of 1947. Moreover, the Mandate was itself explicitly based upon the preexisting “historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” (Mandate for Palestine, Preamble, Paragraph 3).”

    (Source: http://www.rosenblit.com/CREATE%20ISRAEL.htm)

    They’re are those who will vehemently disagree, of course, but they don’t possess a correct legal understanding. In regard to the so-called “State of Palestine,” what the UN did was to create a legal ambiguity which contorts the mission of the UN into the Arbiter in matters of international law. Those who disagree want the UN General Assembly to be considered the de facto Supreme Court of international law. This premise is completely unacceptable, as it denies national sovereignty.

  • In this sense, the post “What to pray for on the 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace: Some facts and some perspective” is an affront to those whose goal is to make the UN something it is not.

  • “Sorry, your revision of history is incorrect.”

    Wrong MM, the historical facts are precisely as I stated them. The problem in the Holy Land is that you have two peoples with arguable cases for possession of a tiny bit of land with too much history for its own good. The League of Nations, the British in charge of the Mandate and the UN all understood that. The partition plan was an attempt to do rough justice to both sides by giving them each a state. The Arabs in 1947 thought they could defeat the Jews and take the whole land for themselves rather than accept the UN partition. They chose poorly.


  • Mystical isn’t it. Hard to keep discussion of the nation of Israel to secular terms. And when does life begin?

    A birth/formation over time but it was seen as a jewish national homeland 1917 (more than embryonic)
    Not yet adult but more like a determined teenager!
    Maybe would have been better if UN stayed out of it… the Jews developed and won (back) their land.

    The history of the relationship of the Vatican to Israel /Palestine is instructive. (1948 apostolic delegate – 1993 nuncio )

  • The point of the post was that American catholic liberals abandoned their earlier support for Israel and have become single bloody-minded Palestinian terrorist supporters. Unfortunately, all of the discussion has turned into a rabbit role concerning the origins of the State of Israel which has detracted from the point of the post.

  • Excuse me please. I wandered from your intent concerning your post. My excuse is that it seemed to me “that American catholic liberals abandoned their earlier support for Israel and have become single bloody-minded Palestinian terrorist supporters” because they have not understood the history.
    As a teacher I found that many of my college students (generally American catholic liberals) have adopted the liberal view you mentioned and have almost no understanding of the history of the area and the people there. They seem to be spouting Hamas and Hezbollah talking points.
    The misreading history and likewise of social/ religious intent despite the threats to Jews and Christians were the points that I got out of your post. I appreciate the post and always get so much out of your work. Thank you.

  • Jews are just more liberal in general. i don’t have firsthand knowledge of the following but i have read some have an exaggerated fear of the evangelical GOP base, thinking they’re Nazis-in-waiting or something.

    TBF, to the extent that certain evangelicals only support Israel because of Biblical prophecy, i wouldn’t like that either, but i get the sense that’s wildly exaggerated.

  • This post is confusing. I’m not entirely sure what you’re advocating. It seems like more of an effort to throw jabs at the “American catholic left” (with a lowercase “c,” undoubtedly because they are less Catholic than you are) than a sincere attempt at identifying things we should pray for. You seem to come very close to endorsing Mubarak and his 30 year despotic regime, but never do out rightly. So, to reiterate, a lot of random assertions and implications, but no actual points made.

Predictions of Times Past

Friday, December 28, AD 2012



Well, each year I make predictions for the coming year and the following year I eat some crow.  Here beginneth the crow eating:


1.  The GOP will retain the House in the 2012 elections.  Both parties in the House assume that is going to happen, as nine Democrats, most of them  veteran members, are retiring, to zip for the GOP.

The GOP did retain the House.  Would that all my predictions had been as accurate.

2.  The GOP will gain the Senate.   21 Democrats, 10 Republican and 2 Independent seats are up, and the GOP only needs to flip 4, or 3 if they win the White House.  I see the GOP flipping Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Dakota, with possibles in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia.  I see the Democrats flipping Massachusetts with a possible in Nevada.

Nope the Republicans actually managed to lose 2 seats with the Senate now 53-45 with 2 independents.

3.  Despite a lacklustre group of candidates I do believe that the GOP will gain the White House.  The economy is simply too dismal for this election to be anything except a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy, and I do not think that all the campaign money and friendly media in the world can transform this particular pig’s ear into a silk purse.  Jay Cost, one of the best political analysts extant, has a good article here detailing the odds against Obama.  Heaven knows that missteps by the GOP could help Obama a great deal, but at the end I think there are just too many people who believe the country is on the wrong track for Obama to win.

Alas no.  Obama ran a base election and Romney never succeeded in firing up the Republican base and just barely managed to get more votes than McCain in 2008.  Obama was off several million from his vote total in 2008 and a competent Republican campaign should have defeated him.

4.  A repeat from last year:  either North Korea or Iran will go through a violent revolution that will topple one of the regimes in 2012.

Nope, both regimes are still hanging on, although I would not be surprised to see one or both go the way of Syria eventually.  With nuclear weaponry in North Korea, and soon to come in Iran, that would make for interesting times for the entire planet.

5.  A major terrorist incident will occur in the United States during the coming year as the jihadists attempt some payback for Osama, and as the factions among the terrorists jockey for power.

No, the major terrorist incident occurred in Libya instead on the anniversary of 9-11.  The American people, shamefully, largely yawned.

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6 Responses to Predictions of Times Past

  • Mac,

    You did a lot better than I.

  • “Alas no. Obama ran a base election and Romney never succeeded in firing up the Republican base and just barely managed to get more votes than McCain in 2008. Obama was off several million from his vote total in 2008 and a competent Republican campaign should have defeated him.”

    I have never bought into the opinion that prevails amongst the GOP consultant commentariat that we need to pander to the blessed undecideds to win. I believe turning out the base is what wins elections. To be sure, independents are essentail, but what independent undecided voter is gonna be convinced by a candidate that can’t fire up his own base?

  • “8. The World will not end and purveyors of the Mayan doomsday prophecy will have to find a new sting to milk money out of yokels.

    Right! That one took an awesome amount of prophetic insight!”

    Although I remain hopeful, I do worry sometimes that man will screw things up so badly we might wished the world did end. As far as milking money out of yokels, that won’t be too hard. It never is.

  • “I will take that crow rolled in flour and egg wash and deep-fried please!”

    Try roasted instead. Otherwise I predict you will make a visit to a cardiologist next year. 🙂

  • My failed prediction was on this site. I said a head or two will roll for Benghazi and that’s it. That fire will out with less of a whimper than I thought. No one loses their job. As I thought, dear leader and assistant to the dear leader are safe. All the hand wringing for nothing.

    Would be interested in seeing predictions on Hobby Lobby’s battle. Freedom fighters and risk takers.

  • “I agree with all these predictions except #3. I unfortunately believe Obama will pull off a win based mainly on independent voters, even though they do believe the country is on the wrong track, ultimately deciding to go with the devil they know in preference to the devil they don’t know, particularly if the devil they don’t know is one of those awful, looney right wingers (as portrayed by the media).”

    Sounds like I was right, though maybe not for this precise reason.

    “11. A persistent La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific will mean yet another year of wild weather including tornado outbreaks, flooding and continued drought in the southern Plains. This means more billion-dollar weather disasters (though hopefully, not nearly as many deaths), more frantic scrambling for FEMA funding, and also….

    “12. Even more hysterical insistence by AGW advocates that global warming/climate change is to blame, never mind the continued real scientific evidence against it.”

    I was off somewhat on #11 — this was not the year for tornadoes (outside of two early spring outbreaks and a Christmas Day (!) outbreak in the Deep South) or floods, but for drought and for Hurricane/Post-Tropical Cyclone/Superstorm Sandy. Even so, #12 was pretty much a no-brainer.

Pope Addresses Our Truly Confused Age

Friday, December 28, AD 2012



We live in a time of technological wonders and “let’s pretend” denial of basic facts of the human condition.  Pope Benedict looked at one pernicious aspect of this “let’s pretend” mindset in an address on December 21:

 The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

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7 Responses to Pope Addresses Our Truly Confused Age

  • Extraordinary letter!
    Thanks for the post.

    When Jesus asked the new followers; “What do you seek?”, my thoughts turned to the confused minority of deniers that struggle with their identity. Are they seeking to be equal to God? Are they saying God made a mistake, I decide what & who I am?

    Thank you for passing this along.

  • “Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will.”

    It is remarkable how many self-professed materialists adopt a sort of Cartesian mind-body dualism that often really does amount to “a ghost in a machine,” in the hackneyed, but expressive phrase. Not only are they oblivious of the fact that “mind” is merely an hypostasised abstraction, they have even turned the humble reflexive pronoun “self” into the very ground of their existence.

    Is the concept of “rational animal” really too hard to grasp?

  • St. Michael the Archangels words echo throughout the ages; “Who is like unto God.”

  • Pingback: Obedience and Freedom | St. John
  • “the only meaning sex will have is copulation, and that will have no greater significance than merely satisfying a physical appetite.”

    I was alarmed recently by the disturbingly obvious parallels in Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World,” with much of the “social engineering” being carried out today by organizations like Planned Parenthood, and aided/fueled by the homosexual and communist agendas.

    1) The demand for the acceptance of the contraceptive mentality and more recent push for free contraceptives and abortion.
    2) The whole scale attempt to rob children of their innocence through graphic sex education programs beginning in elementary school
    3) The reversal of the virtues with PP’s recent instructional videos telling the youth that being a slut should by viewed positively
    4) The normalization of homosexuality and so called same sex “marriage”
    5) The undermining of parental authority and rights
    6) The proposal to replace Father and Mother with Parent 1 & Parent 2 on birth certificates
    And most importantly for their plan to work, remove God from the public sphere and undermine the moral authority of the Church.
    The list goes on and on, but I don’t want to stray far from the context of the Pope’s address. If they have their way, we’re headed for a Godless, parentless over-sexualized socialist society.
    Lord help us!

  • Aldous Huxley, the prophet of our sad, confused time.

  • “Like all attempts by Man to play God, this will all end in tears after immense human suffering.”

    Good line, DM.

    BTW friends; you may notice on some other internet forums that “gender” is listed for users. You will see a few listed viz: “I don’t have a gender, I have a sex”
    (Gender is a grammatical term). Small victory over PC. Let’s all do it.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf: Requiescat in Pace

Thursday, December 27, AD 2012

I feel that retired generals should never miss an opportunity to remain silent concerning matters for which they are no longer responsible.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf who led the allied forces in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 has died today at age 78.  Schwarzkopf was a tough, no nonsense combat soldier who led from the front.  He was awarded the silver star three times for acts of heroism.  He was tough to work for, earning his Army nickname of The Bear, a testament to both his temper and his exacting standards.  He never, however, asked more from his men than he was willing to give himself.  He was part of the generation of young officers who after Vietnam rebuilt the Army and turned it into a formidable all volunteer force.  In retirement he refused all attempts to convince him to enter politics and devoted himself to charitable work.  He was the living embodiment of the motto of the US Army infantry:  “Follow Me”.

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9 Responses to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf: Requiescat in Pace

  • “Duty, Honor, Country”


    We sent our son a “US Infantry” commemorative coin for Christmas. We recently began “skiping” (don’t ask me how). So, we knew he had not receieved it on Christmas Day.

    He received the coin, posted a picture on Facebook. His “Thank You” included: “FOLLOW ME.”

    Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

  • “I feel that retired generals should never miss an opportunity to remain silent concerning matters for which they are no longer responsible.”

    A common French nickname for the army is « La grande muette » [the big silent one]

  • “He was tough to work for, earning his Army nickname of The Bear, a testament to both his temper and his exacting standards. He never, however, asked more from his men than he was willing to give himself. ”

    Hard asses like this are the best to work for, difficulties not withstanding. For one, you always know where you stand with them.

  • Hard asses like this are the best to work for, difficulties not withstanding. For one, you always know where you stand with them.

    In my line of work, you are more likely to encounter the pseudo-hard ass: dames who pick a target, harass that target, and then pick another target when the previous target gets fed up and leaves. In two offices where I have worked, among the series of targets was the most capable employee in the office (during the period where I could observe). One of the harassers I worked for was an occasionally engaging woman under a good deal of pressure. As for the other, one of the supervisors used to put strips from the Daily Dilbert up in the staff lounge which replicated the exchanges the department manager was having with people.

  • The pseudo-hard asses are a different story. I was speaking more about the military. The leadership style in the military wouldn’t fly in the civilian world.

  • I suspect it depends on the composition of the workforce, and the degree to which the work done has operational measures of competence.

  • Hard asses like this are the best to work for, difficulties not withstanding. For one, you always know where you stand with them.

    “Nice” bosses generally stab you in the back when you thought everything was shiny.

  • What a pity, General Schwarzkopf was not allowed to gain the victory he wanted in the Gulf War. He could possibly have prevented the war in Iraq that the son got the blame for instead of the faulty political actions of his father. There is no substitute for victory in war as Karl von Clausewitz insisted. America has not had total victory in war since WWI. Lack of victory in Korea, and Vietnam continues to haunt our military commanders and escalates our casualties that seem to have died in vain.
    General Schwarzkopf indeed deserves merit and praise for his military career. As a retired Air Force officer, I now salute a great commander. Rest in the peace you could never have in this world of good and evil.

  • Like many at the time I thought that the ceasefire came too early and regretted that Schwarzkopf was not allowed to finish the job. However, the result would have been the same as obtained twelve years later, with the US taking Baghdad and the British Basra, and the post-victory problems would have been the same.

    Robert A Rowland’s comment only makes sense if for WWI you read WW2. Both Germany and Japan were completely defeated and occupied. The Korean War successfully restored the status quo ante bellum. True, in Vietnam military victory (the defeat of the Tet offensive) was not followed through. I would argue that the most impressive and long-lasting achievement of the US in the post-war world was victory in the Cold War.

    Norman Schwarzkopf was everything we Limeys expect (and respect) in an American commander. Requiescat in pace.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Commie Propaganda?

Thursday, December 27, AD 2012

Hard to believe, but there was an FBI report in 1947 that deemed It’s a Wonderful Life as Communist propaganda:

To: The Director  

D.M. Ladd 


There is submitted herewith the running memorandum concerning Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry which has been brought up to date as of May 26, 1947….   With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

>In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”   [redacted] recalled that approximately 15 years ago, the picture entitled “The Letter” was made in Russia and was later shown in this country. He recalled that in this Russian picture, an individual who had lost his self-respect as well as that of his friends and neighbors because of drunkenness, was given one last chance to redeem himself by going to the bank to get some money to pay off a debt. The old man was a sympathetic character and was so pleased at his opportunity that he was extremely nervous, inferring he might lose the letter of credit or the money itself. In summary, the old man made the journey of several days duration to the bank and with no mishap until he fell asleep on the homeward journey because of his determination to succeed. On this occasion the package of money dropped out of his pocket. Upon arriving home, the old man was so chagrined he hung himself. The next day someone returned the package of money to his wife saying it had been found. [redacted] draws a parallel of this scene and that of the picture previously discussed, showing that Thomas Mitchell who played the part of the man losing the money in the Capra picture suffered the same consequences as the man in the Russian picture in that Mitchell was too old a man to go out and make money to pay off his debt to the banker.

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8 Responses to It’s a Wonderful Life: Commie Propaganda?

  • Very interesting, Donald. The fourth branch will be the end of this country yet.

    Patrick Daneen also posted on this movie today – see here: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/12/itrsquos-a-destructive-life

    I am curious as to your thoughts on his post.

  • “I am curious as to your thoughts on his post.”

    Overwrought comes to mind. Viewing George Bailey as a modernistic wrecker of Bedford Falls is an imaginative interpretation but not one that I agree with. Bailey is simply attempting to help people get homes of their own. With a growing population that would not be possible with existing housing stock. As a denizen of small towns my entire life, except for my seven years at the U of I, I have never been sympathetic with the impulse that small towns should be preserved in amber. They are not museum pieces for tourists to admire the quaint folkways of the inhabitants, but living communities that will inevitably change over time. Items of value will be lost as a result of the change, but items of value will be gained.

  • In fact, my commie, ex-twin brother employs (received an email on the topic Christmas Eve) the movie, and its “Potter” caricature, to indict capitalism, in general, and so-called “banksters”, in particular.

    The “Potter” character is not a capitalist or a banker. He is a thief (e.g., the deposit money in the newspaper).

    Likely, George Bailey isn’t a “saint.” The raison d’etre for building and loan associations and Federally-chartered savings and loan associations was to finance residential housing. Such institutions often used commercial banks to clear checks and to finance operations. In general, the bit about Potter calling the loan isn’t how it would have worked. And, from 1933, the Federal Home Loan Bank System served the financing role. Although, their terms were not much better than “Potter’s.”

    I see GB’s actions taken as much as any other motive to preserve the institution to which his father and uncle gave their working lives. It is unlikely that GB advanced a home loan to anyone that did not meet certain credit standards, as in, the ability to repay the loan.

    And, if you place any trust the state, consider this factoid from yesterday’s instapundit, “Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.”

  • You are right they should not be. The question is what sort of land use attends the additional housing stock. You should have sidewalks, street trees, and proximity to commercial strips. It is also bad form to dig up cemeteries. Deneen does not mention that poor planning of commercial development has been rather more damaging to the urban landscape than suboptimal residential tract development. No hook for that, though, as George Bailey was the proprietor of a savings bank that undertook only home mortgage lending (and a fairly novel and unusual sort of mortgage lending by the standards of 1928).

  • Observant people there in the Forties could not be unaware of a Communist infiltration and conspiracy in the movie industry. as well as in the federal government. Joseph McCarthy was ultimately vindicated. What a pity it was not before he died. I saw this movie when it was first released, and I did not think it was a real threat to anyone.

  • I thought for sure this was an urban legend, but apparently not. Perhaps it was a case of “when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail” — with the Nazi threat gone by 1946 and the Soviets now in the position of World Enemy Number One, anything that appeared to be at all critical of capitalism was suspect.

  • The Red Menance was very real in 1947 abroad as was Communist infiltration in Hollywood. Ronald Reagan, New Deal liberal, began his trek from Left to Right as a result of dealing with Communist dominated unions, often using violent tactics, during his several terms as President of the Screen Actors Guild in the late forties and early fifties. The problem was that the FBI was often as clueless in dealing with internal subverison by Communists as it was in dealing with the Mafia which Hoover at this time steadfastly denied existed.

George Washington, Howard Roark and George Bailey

Wednesday, December 26, AD 2012

[34] But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together:

[35] And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him:

[36] Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?

[37] Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.

[38] This is the greatest and the first commandment.

[39] And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

[40] On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

Matthew 22: 34-40

Joe Carter at Catholic Education Resource Center has a wonderful post entitled The Fountainhead of Bedford Falls, which compares the fictional characters Howard Roark and George Bailey:

Not surprisingly, Roark has become something of a cult figure, especially among young nerdy males entering post-adolescence. Although Roark is artistically gifted and technically brilliant, he prefers to take a job breaking rocks in a quarry than sell out to The Man. He provides a model for the underemployed, misunderstood, twenty-something misfit by choice. These see themselves in the uncompromising sulker, believing it better to vandalize and destroy than allow society to co-opt their dreams.

Rand herself would have certainly envisioned things differently. She would have sneered in disgust at the idea that Roark was anything like the slacker working at Starbucks the populists marching at Tea Parties. Her hero was a cross between the modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the serial killer and child rapist William Hickman. Rand’s ideal was the nonconformist who exhibited sociopathic tendencies. She dreamed of the minority of brilliant, atheistic ubermensch who would “eventually trample society under its feet.” The vast majority of the people who read The Fountainhead might admire Roark, but they’d never emulate him.

Similarly, Capra’s audience flatters themselves by believing the message of Wonderful Life is that their own lives are just as worthy, just as noble, and just as wonderful’ as George Bailey’s. In a way, they are as delusional as the Randian Roark-worshippers. Despite the fact that they left their small-town communities for the city, put their parents in an assisted living facility and don’t know the names of their next door neighbors, they truly believe they are just like Capra’s hero.

Such delusions are the reason these characters have remained two of the most dominant archetypes of American individualism in pop culture. The pendulum of popularity is swinging back toward Rand but it’s Capra’s creation that should be our model for inspiration.

Roark is nihilistic, narrow-minded, and something of a bore. Bailey is far darker, more complex, and infinitely more interesting.

What makes George Bailey one of the most inspiring, emotionally complex characters in modern popular culture is that he continually chooses the needs of his family and community over his own self-interested ambitions and desires – and suffers immensely and repeatedly for his sacrifices.  

 Although sentimental, Capra’s movie is not a simplistic morality play. It’s true that the movie ends on a happy note late on Christmas Eve, when George is saved from ruin. But on Christmas Day he’ll wake to find that his life is not so different than it was when he wanted to commit suicide.

 He will remain a frustrated artist who is scraping by on a meager salary and living in a drafty old house in a one-stoplight town. All that has really changed is that he has gained a deeper appreciation of the value of faith, friends, and community – and that this is worth more than his worldly ambitions. Capra’s underlying message is thus radically subversive: It is by serving our fellow man, even to the point of subordinating our dreams and ambitions, that we achieve both true greatness and lasting happiness.

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46 Responses to George Washington, Howard Roark and George Bailey

  • “it is interesting how even in this often unjust world we see sin punished and virtue rewarded…”

    Well, not really. As Aristotle, the philosopher of common sense, saw, “the good” must be “our good” and, other things being equal, will lead to our flourishing. St Thomas, who agreed with Aristotle, notes that we only offend God, when we act against our own good [Non enim Deus a nobis offenditur nisi ex eo quod contra nostrum bonum agimus – ScG III. 122] How could it be otherwise?

  • Completely disagree MPS. Acting in a just manner is often short term detrimental. A simple example: a bank teller makes a mistake and gives you a 50 dollar bill instead of a 5 dollar bill. Returning the 50 to the teller is the right thing to do, but it deprives you of a windfall of 45.00. Philosophers often paint beautiful word pictures that often have only a passing resemblance to life.

  • “Virtue is its own reward.”

    As usual, IWL was aired on broadcast NBC on Christmas Eve. My (commie) ex-twin (my wife’s brother-in-law) emailed that the classic movie on TV and added a snide comment about “banksters.” Of course, every conservative and advocate for the private sector is “Mr. Potter.”

    My curt reply included a suggestion to concentrate on, and emulate, Bailey’s virtue and (firm grasp of the obvious) avoid Potter’s caricature evil.

    We are constantly confronted with choices: good or evil, life or death. Choose rightly.

  • 1. George Bailey does not suffer immensely. He has a portfolio of disappointments characteristic of middle-aged men.

    2. George Bailey is not particularly complex, just not unidimensional

    3. The catalyst for his suicide attempt is an act of embezzlement by the nefarious Potter for which he and his uncle are due to be blamed by bank examiners and the public prosecutor. It is actually a very implausible sequence of events, as is the solution. However, there is, in the course of the narrative, a solution, which is to say the problem will not be there in the morning.

    4. Despite George Bailey’s financial anxieties, the Bailey family is the most affluent depicted in the film, bar the bachelor Potter. George Bailey’s parents employ a domestic who appears to be in residence (proportionately much more common in 1928 than today), some amount of foreign travel is feasible on their income (uncharacteristic of the suburban bourgeois of 1968, much less 1928) and some amount of higher education in feasible. Please note, most youngsters between the ages of 14 and 18 were not (in 1928) enrolled in high school, much less have any opportunity for tertiary schooling.

    5. “Bedford Falls” is not a one-stoplight town. It has a taxi service, at least two banks, and specialty merchants. It was putatively inspired by Seneca Falls, N.Y., which is small but about 7x the size of real one-stoplight towns. It is also weirdly affluent by the standards of that time. The local high school has a swimming pool constructed under a gymnasium with a retractable floor.

    6. I have heard of elderly couples buffaloed into entering assisted living facilities by their relatives. I cannot imagine what the family dynamics must be in the situation I know best (bar that the oldest son is absolutely furious about the machinations of his niece and sister-in-law for which his accommodating brother was a conduit). That having been said, assisted living centers in New York, unlike nursing homes, are not places to where hospital patients are discharged either for rehabilitation care or because it is unsafe to send them home. You are not ‘put’ in assisted living. People elect assisted living after considering other alternatives. It is hideously expensive, and the residents therein are not typically gaga (which is to say under guardianship or readily manipulable), just suffering mobility problems. The clientele are the very small minority of the elderly with the retirement income (> $60 k a year) to pay for it or who calculate they will outlive their assets.

  • 1 Cor 13:3-7

    And if I distribute all my goods in order to feed the poor, and if I hand over my body to be burned, yet not have charity, it offers me nothing.
    Charity is patient, is kind. Charity does not envy, does not act wrongly, is not inflated.
    Charity is not ambitious, does not seek for itself, is not provoked to anger, devises no evil.
    Charity does not rejoice over iniquity, but rejoices in truth.
    Charity suffers all, believes all, hopes all, endures all.

    This is my problem with George Bailey. He’s depicted as a guy who does everything right, but he has no love. He has a short temper, he envies, and when he faces a major life challenge, he opts for suicide. I respect his actions, but he is a horrible human being.

    This article says that “if you really want to be happy in this world, and in the next, do good to others”. George Bailey is incredibly unhappy. Why? Take the scene where he nearly takes a job with Potter. He’s torn between two emotions: greed and anger. He wants the riches and power of Potter, but he also hates the man. I get no sense of love of principles, love of the town, desire to do right. The anger is targeted justly, but it doesn’t seem like righteous anger to me.

  • “He has a short temper, he envies,”

    He is also shown as loving, kind, humorous and courageous. In short he is a fairly typical human being with good moments and bad moments intermingled.

    “when he faces a major life challenge, he opts for suicide”

    No, he thinks of suicide. That is brought about by Potter’s statement that he is worth more dead than alive, and his desire to spare his family the shame of seeing him go to prison. (Never a real threat since the prosecution would have to prove embezzlement, not an easy thing to do, but this is overlooked in order to have the plot device to allow Clarence to show George how his life has been a force for good.)

    As for the job offer I think Bailey’s assessment of Potter is entirely accurate and his anger is justified. I suspect that some of the anger is directed at himself for being weak enough to be tempted by the offer without considering the impact on the savings and loan:

    Well, what about the Building and Loan?

    Oh, confound it, man, are you afraid of success? I’m offering you
    a three year contract at twenty thousand dollars a year, starting
    today. Is it a deal or
    isn’t it?

    Well, Mr. Potter, I . . . I . . . I know I ought to jump at the
    chance, but I . . . I just . . . I wonder if it would be possible
    for you to give me twenty-four
    hours to think it over?

    Sure, sure, sure. You go on home and talk about it to your wife.

    I’d like to do that.

    In the meantime, I’ll draw up the papers.

    All right, sir.

    POTTER (offers hand)
    Okay, George?

    GEORGE (taking his hand)
    Okay, Mr. Potter.

    As they shake hands, George feels a physical revulsion. Potter’s
    hand feels like a cold mackerel to him. In that moment of
    physical contact he knows he
    could never be associated with this man. George drops his hand
    with a shudder. He peers intently into Potter’s face.

    GEORGE (cont’d –– vehemently)
    No . . . no . . . no . . . no, now wait a minute, here! I don’t
    have to talk to anybody! I know right now, and the answer is no!
    NO! Doggone it!
    (getting madder all the time)
    You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think
    the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it
    doesn’t, Mr. Potter! In the . . . in the
    whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but
    a scurvy little spider. You . . .

    He turns and shouts at the goon, impassive as ever beside
    Potter’s wheelchair.

  • He has a short temper, he envies, and when he faces a major life challenge, he opts for suicide. I respect his actions, but he is a horrible human being.

    Pinky, if that character as portrayed manifests your idea of a ‘short temper’, you have lived a very sheltered existence. He is dissatisfied with his own situation, but he envies no one. People threatened with immanent personal disasters sometimes contemplate suicide. It is unserious, verging on demented, to view this character as a ‘horrible human being’.

  • Art, it’s been a while since I watched it, and I could be off-base. Maybe there were scenes depicting him as a caring person that I’ve forgotten. My impression of the character was entirely negative. And wasn’t he envious of his brother? Didn’t he snap at his wife, his daughter, his uncle?

  • And wasn’t he envious of his brother?

    No. The only envious figure is Potter.

    Didn’t he snap at his wife, his daughter, his uncle?

    Husbands, fathers, and nephews have been known to snap at the people they live and work with. Again, can that possibly be your idea of a ‘horrible person’?

  • Perhaps I should have said “horrible man”. There are two traits that are most despicable in a man: self-pity and bullying. I see the entire movie (except for the last ten minutes) as a documentation of self-pity. When Bailey yells at his wife and daughter, he becomes a bully.

    I’m reminded of Kipling’s “If”. Bailey fails Kipling’s standards of being a man across the board, but fails no test more than this: “and lose, and start again at your beginnings / and never breathe a word about your loss”. I promised myself that I’d get through the Christmas season without getting into another anti-Bailey rant, but it jsut drives me crazy to see him treated as someone worth emulation.

  • #39 love thy neighbor as thyself.

    George was witness to his fathers deep love for neighbor. He told George; “you were born older.” Possibly an acknowledgment of the sons wisdom in matters of “deeper” things, like self sacrifice, and love of neighbor; brothers near drowning & wrong pills to pharmacist client.
    I believe George is portrayed as a struggling suffering servant, and I for one love his humanity, fallibility included.

  • “When Bailey yells at his wife and daughter, he becomes a bully.”

    No, he is a man confronting what he views as financial ruin and disgrace for his family and not knowing what to do. I have snapped at my wife and kids for far less, and apologized later for such outbursts. I do not regard myself as either a horrible man or a bully for such failings, but rather a man possessed of a temper which I do my best to control, usually successfully, but sometimes not. As for self pity, the next person I meet who has not engaged in that at some point in their life will likely be the first. We aren’t all born as paragons of virtue and gifted with iron self control, but the important thing is that we learn from our sins and mistakes, engage in contrition and do our best to amend our lives.

  • The very end is precious.

    …no man is a failure who has friends.

    Georges friends are born of respect for the man. The undeniably presence of a man with true conviction to see the poor as brothers, even to the point of protecting a feeble uncle.

    George has friends, more friends than acquaintances…..chumps?…not at all. Good will to men….indeed.

  • I have never read Fountainhead or watched the movie. I watch Its a Wonderful Life with my kids every Christmas. George is human (he has strengths and weakness, conflicting desires and emotions, just as we all do) and if his one outburst in 28 plus years makes him a horrible person then I am ten times more horrible. And will pay for it in purgatory or hell as God deems appropriate. It is a movie and uses plot devices that are not accurate but . . . my take away is that with God’s help all will work out for the best.

  • I love the post and the connection between George W and George B. I have never read Fountainhead; lots of info right in the Gary Cooper clip. (A while back I ordered and enjoyed the Gary Cooper movie about Sgt York because of your post)
    I agree with Michael PS, Augustine and St Thomas…and I don’t think they think of good as long or short term : ) but eschatologically.
    There may be another example that makes your point but Denying yourself a random windfall (much less one that was predicated on the mistake of another person that may negatively cost that other person…. A windfall that never really belonged to you is not really sacrificing anything that was was personally yours or really detrimental to your condition. Remaining at status quo while not getting an advance is not the same as a loss.
    I always learn so much from the discourse on this blog. Thank you Mr. McClarey and all the regulars!

  • Thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking piece, Mr. McClarey. Ironically, over at First Things, Patrick Deneen recently posted a piece interpreting ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ from a different angle. Deneen, no doubt, agrees with your thesis — love of God and neighbor is the ultimate ingredient for a good life — but challenges our common notions of ‘success’ and ‘ambitions’, as well as our (unfortunate) disdain of ‘small’ towns and human scale lives.

    I agree with Deneen and his ilk (read Frontporchrepublic.com for a more thorough idea of their view of a ‘good life’). If you’ve time to read First Things today, I’d be interested in your take.

    Regardless of whether you find time or are even interested in doing so, I think this is an opportune time to thank you (and all the contributors of this blog) for your time, energy and thoughts that are needed to sustain a blog. Although, of course, I don’t agree with every viewpoint expressed here, I find the discourse and wisdom imparted here encouraging and enlightening.

    God bless you and yours during this holy season!


  • “but challenges our common notions of ‘success’ and ‘ambitions’, as well as our (unfortunate) disdain of ‘small’ towns and human scale lives.”

    I agree that success comes in many shapes and sizes Justin, and having been raised in a town of 10,000 and having lived now in a village of 4,000 for 27 years and counting, I have a keen appreciation for the virtues of small town life while not being blind to the vices.

  • I agree with Deneen and his ilk (read Frontporchrepublic.com for a more thorough idea of their view of a ‘good life’). If you’ve time to read First Things today, I’d be interested in your take.

    You did not ask for mine, but I will give it to you anyway. Deneen’s thesis is overstated. Bailey’s real estate development does not ‘destroy’ the town. It is an appendage to the town that has a mix of agreeable and disagreeable features. You can schlep around small towns in Upstate New York and see the same deal: a marked contrast between pre-war and post-war development. It is much more manifest in commercial real estate than in residential housing, however, and the older housing stock is still there. Post-war urban planning has been a failure, by and large. Deneen might have explored why such development was attractive to producer and consumer alike. That sort of inquiry would be incongruent with striking attitudes (which seems to be the main purpose of Front Porch Republic).

  • Deneen, no doubt, agrees with your thesis — love of God and neighbor is the ultimate ingredient for a good life — but challenges our common notions of ‘success’ and ‘ambitions’, as well as our (unfortunate) disdain of ‘small’ towns and human scale lives.

    You have confounded Deneen with Wendell Berry.

  • Pinky, I think you need to put the 19th c. verse aside and work on appreciating ordinary people. Just my $0.02.

  • Thank you for your response, Mr. McClarey and Mr. Deco.

    Mr. Deco: From my readings, Mr. Berry and Dr. Deneen are more similar than different — do you not agree?

  • If I recall correctly, First Things has had quite a few articles about city planning. It’s always nice to read an article that accuses George Bailey of things that even I wouldn’t, though.

    Art, we disagree about the movie.

  • Um, no, Pinky. We disagree about the propriety of certain emotional states. In the course of common-and-garden domestic life, people have words. Husbands and fathers who do not, on occasion, snarl and their wife or children are very unusual (or have very unusual children). And the notion that someone facing unjust criminal charges, civil liability, the loss of his livelihood, and social disgrace is ‘despicable’ for being in a state of distress about it is beyond flabbergasting. You were the one who made a to do about Sarah Palin’s ‘affect’ and now you are complaining that fictional character has any affect at all. What do you expect George Bailey to do, sing “Put on a Happy Face” and dance around the room with royal blue chickens, like one of the felt characters on Sesame Street?

  • Mr. Deco: From my readings, Mr. Berry and Dr. Deneen are more similar than different — do you not agree?

    Yes and no. Wendell Berry had a tour in academe, but he has spent the bulk of his adult life farming in Kentucky. He da man in a way Dr. Deneen can never be. (I think Berry is wrong to the degree he argues agrarian life is economically and socially viable for aught but a small minority given contemporary technology, but that is a different issue). I would be more impressed with the Front Porch crew if they were not so self-conscious about differentiating themselves from ‘them’ (that would be folk like Messrs. McClarey, Zummo, &c.), not so fixated on anyone within three-degrees-of-separation of William Kristol, were willing to knock-it off with chuffering about ’empire’, and actually concerned themselves vociferously with the true injuries to place (bad urban planning), limits (sexual misconduct and the misuse of divorce courts), and liberty (the mundane abuses of public prosecutors and family court judges). Not holdin’ my breath.

  • Art, we all have moments of self-pity. But that doesn’t make it any less pathetic. Bailey was beaten by a bully, and he fell into self-pity and bullying himself. Don’t expect me to laud it. Palin was beaten by a bully, and her supporters fell into self-pity and bullying. Don’t expect me to laud that either. Part of life is taking a punch. If you hire an incompetent uncle or run for VP with only two years of high-level experience, you’re going to get hit. Don’t feign surprise at it.

  • “and dance around the room with royal blue chickens, like one of the felt characters on Sesame Street?”

    Comment of the month Art!

  • Art, we all have moments of self-pity. But that doesn’t make it any less pathetic. Bailey was beaten by a bully, and he fell into self-pity and bullying himself. Don’t expect me to laud it.

    Pinky, you used terms like ‘horrible’ and ‘despicable’ to describe a man in quite unremarkable emotional states while facing unusual threats.

    Palin was beaten by a bully, and her supporters fell into self-pity and bullying.

    Who? You need to be able to distinguish between ‘self-pity’ and disgust or exasperation. You need to distinguish between argument, complaint, and ‘bullying’? You do not.

    Don’t expect me to laud that either. Part of life is taking a punch. If you hire an incompetent uncle or run for VP with only two years of high-level experience, you’re going to get hit. Don’t feign surprise at it.

    Actually, Gov. Palin’s background (11 years as a public executive) compared favorably with that of Barack Obama, Joseph Biden, John Edwards, and John Kerry (collective executive experience = zero). The following national candidates have put in comparable time (or more time) as a line administrator than Gov. Palin (summing time in public and private sector posts): Richard Cheney, George W. Bush, Ross Perot, James Stockdale, Lloyd Bentsen, George H. W. Bush, Sargent Shriver, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, John Bricker. That is no where near a majority of those who have run in the last 70 years. You are free to offer opinions on the weight of public sector experience v. private sector experience and of experience at various levels and with various quanta of people working under you. It is a bit rich though, for someone like Charles Fried to argue that Palin was so unprepared it justified a ballot for Barack Obama, whose work as an executive consisted of running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge into the ground. Of course, Fried could have argued she needed to have been a federal official to earn his vote (Obama’s two and a half years as an undistinguished working Senator being so valuable), though had he done so he would also have to explain why he accepted a post in the Reagan Administration, given that Mr. Reagan’s preparation for the office was strictly in Sacramento. Fried is a law professor. He argues for a living. At least that’s what I’ve heard. (Was the foregoing paragraph ‘self-pitying’ or ‘bullying’, btw?

  • By the way, Pinky, the name of the firm in the film is “Bailey Brothers Building and Loan”. Although the company was formally incorporated, it was founded by the uncle. (btw, there are people in this world who have performance problems but who can still be valuable).

  • I was never going to comment here again, but something Philip wrote struck me: “The very end is precious….no man is a failure who has friends.”

    Authentic Christians have friends.

    Liberals, progressives, libertarians, Ayn Rand objectivists, dope smoking legalizers, anti-nuclear activists, etc. – do they have friends?

    I used to read Ayn Rand. But it affected my thinking. So I stopped reading her works. I watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” many times. I never read anything into it other than a wonderful moral theme, just the opposite of the selfish individualism of liberalism, libertarianism and objectivism that glorifies ego and the right to choose ahead of everything, including God, one’s neighbors, personal responsibility and integrity.

  • “Authentic Christians have friends.

    Liberals, progressives, libertarians, Ayn Rand objectivists, dope smoking legalizers, anti-nuclear activists, etc. – do they have friends?”

    Of course not, Paul. None of them have any friends, and they all hate their families too. And none of them could possibly be Authentic Christians either! You have to be a registered Republican to earn that distinction.

  • Check-Check, JL.

    Christians love those that hate them and pray for those that persecute them. I think PWP was communicating that.

    And, he was being charitable in performing Spiritual Works of Mercy: “Admonish the sinner” and “Instruct the ignorant.”

    In his way, PWP is trying to save souls. That is charity.

  • JL,

    I am not a registered Republican. I joined the Constitution Party because its platform more closely conforms to Church teaching than that of any other.


    Thank you, T. Shaw, for the support.

  • Of course not, Paul. None of them have any friends, and they all hate their families too. And none of them could possibly be Authentic Christians either!

    Do you have hobbies other than maladroit sarcasm?

    Actually, if you read accounts of the dynamics of the social circle around Ayn Rand prior to its implosion in 1968, you can see the question of whether or not they could at that point form and maintain non-pathological friendships is a serious one. People whose lives revolve around drug use generally socialize with fellow addicts as well (and they exploit each other for their next fix).

    You have to be a registered Republican to earn that distinction.

    Falls kinda flat. A number of the regulars here have been contending for years with seamless-garment / peace-and-justice hucksters who have been maintaining just the converse or twisting themselves into knots to excuse the Democratic Party.

  • Paul,

    Apologies for the errant assumption. I think the point still sticks, namely that a particular party affiliation, or lack thereof, is not necessarily the best indicator of “Christian Authenticity.”


    I play the banjo, too. But that’s basically it. Sarcasm and bluegrass.

    Of course objectivists are a messed up bunch, but not sure how te others are indicted as incapable of maintaining friendships. And not everyone who is for the legalization of drugs makes drug use the central pillar of their life, so I reject that mischaracterization.

    And I think the point does NOT fall flat. Being a Republican does not make you a good Christian. Not being a Republican does not make you a good Christian. Being a good Christian makes you a good Christian.

  • And I think the point does NOT fall flat. Being a Republican does not make you a good Christian. Not being a Republican does not make you a good Christian. Being a good Christian makes you a good Christian.

    Since you are criticizing something no one asserted implicitly or explicitly, the point falls flat.

    A generation ago, John LaFalce could get about a quarter of the House Democratic Caucus to sign a pro-life petition of sorts. Three years ago, Bart Stupak rounded up a grand total of 5% of the House Democratic Caucus for an interim period of resistance to an extension of public provision of abortion. Outside of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, the Democratic Party is rotten all the way down. Too bad, but that’s the deal. Recognizing that forecloses some political stances (stances preferred by the peace-and-justice poseurs, the “Catholic” higher education establishment, and sundry Church-o-crats). It does not require other stances. I will cast a ballot for members of my local Democratic caucus if they are tasked with making decisions about land use plans or the fire department budget; if their preferred candidates are tasked with decisions about Medicaid expenditure or matrimonial law, forget it.

  • I mostly agree with JL. However, people who put their personal freedom to choose first – for example, the overwhelming majority of objectivists, libertarians, liberals, progressives and Democrats – are by definition NOT Christian. Given the pro-abortion platform of the Libertarian and Democratic Parties, one wonders how a person can be either Libertarian or Democrat and have a legitimate claim to being authentically Christian. To get back to the point of the post, Ayn Rand’s heroes are selfish SOBs full of intellectual arrogance. But “It’s A Wonderful Life” shows a very opposite attitude of humility and gratitude. Those virtues, very Christian indeed, have never been the hallmark of any objectivist, libertarian, liberal, progressive or Democrat. I will concede that few Republicans possess them either, but overall they have a better chance. That being said, “Being a good Christian makes you a good Christian.”

  • Paul-

    If it’s on a bumper sticker……
    “Pro- Woman, Pro-Choice & Pro-Family.”
    ……..then it must be true.

    When it comes right down to it, I am so very happy that we will be judged by God. Could you imagine being judged by man?

    God knows the heart of man. Our witness to love and our imperfect applications to serve our neighbor including our intent, will speak volumes on that great and terrible day. I too like the movie, and the heart of an imperfect George Baily.

  • Perhaps you are correct, Philip, nevertheless I am reminded of the admonition of Hebrews 10:30-31 – “30 For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

  • Paul-
    Prov. 8:17; “I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me.”

    As for me, I will continue to grope for him, and continue on this path knowing full well that the more I decrease the more He may increase in me and that Anything that is good and holy from me is not mine, for His works are good, His are Holy, and not mine.

    T.Merton; “Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what many admire I would begin to Live afterall. I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying things I do not think, and acting in ways that betrays Gods truth and the integrity of my own soul.”

    Living simply and trying to walk humbly.
    May all of our walks lead to eternal rest in The Sacred Heart.
    I’m glad your back Paul. I enjoy reading the many learned insights you and many other participants bring to TAC.

  • Thanks, Philip. I have to continuous learn your motto:

    “Living simply and trying to walk humbly,” along with steering clear of anti-nuclear activists. 😉

    Somebody reminded me today that God is so awesomely holy that we should be on flat on our face prostrate in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. What you said applies: “As for me, I will continue to grope for him, and continue on this path knowing full well that the more I decrease the more He may increase in me and that Anything that is good and holy from me is not mine, for His works are good, His are Holy, and not mine.”

    PS, I love TAC, but loathe anti-nuclearism almost as much as I do liberalism.

  • Your welcome Paul.
    All of us have our “anti-nuclear” challenges.
    For some it’s the acceptance of others that flaunt their sin publicly. The acceptance that they we’re made in Gods image, and we must accept them as Gods handiwork, however never accepting their lifestyle, or sin.
    All of life on Earth is testing ground.
    Praise Jesus.

  • Paul,

    I’m curious what you mean when you say “anti-nuclearism.” Could you expand?

  • JL, I am referring to “anti-nuclear energy”. I have worked in commercial nuclear power for 30+ years as a submarine reactor operator, an instrumentation and controls technician, a radiation monitoring systems engineer, a digital design engineer, an engineering training instructor, and a software QA specialist. I have taught Pressurized and Boiling Water Reactor Systems training as well as a variety of instrumentation and controls training courses. Nuclear energy is safe, clean and cheap, even including Fukushima where only 6 people died compared with 1700 lives lost in a nearby dam collapse from the earthquake. A blogger here at TAC would not accept reasoned arguments with backup from reputable sources such as the IAEA, the US NRC, NEI, WANO, etc. He denigrated me as some nit wit on the Internet, and defaulted to that vaunted excess of liberal anti-nuclear intelligentsia called Academia which in practice knows nothing about this complex subject. The facts that coal fired power plant pollution (that he supports) releases more radiation in the form of radium, uranium and thorium meant nothing to him. The fact that coal pollution kills 30000 people annually in the US from air pollution was irrelevant to him. He could not be reasoned with and all the web links to reputable scientific sources were useless. I can’t abide stuff like that. I know what happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, TMI and Windscale. I teach training courses on those accidents, and they pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of lives lost from dam collapses and fossil fuel pollution. Logic and science mean nothing to either libertarian or liberal. They are so full of their intellectual self-confidence that they will reject any authority because by goodness, they are so darned smart! Ok, you asked, JL, And that’s my answer. BTW, if you want to know who I am, look me up on LinkedIn. There are not too many Paul Primaveras over there who work in nuclear. My critic here, decrying me as just another net bot, went by a pseudonym, not even his real name, refusing to divulge who he really is. Well, you can easily find out who I am and verify that I am not lying. I believe in science the same way that I believe in the Bible. Because it’s true. It’s that simple.

  • And PS, the best nuclear weapon is one whose uranium or plutonium is being recycled as fuel in a commercial nuclear reactor, forever making it unavailable for weapons use!

  • Paul, rest assured that at least one contributor here very much appreciates your reason and knowledge when it comes to nuclear energy.

  • Thank you, Paul Z. I know that you and Donald and many of the rest are among the best. And I like this post of Donald’s, how it contrasts the hubris of objectivism and libertarianism with the humility and gratitude of old fashion Americana, which is how I feel about “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Awake Mankind!

Monday, December 24, AD 2012



Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.  

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come. 

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.  

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.  

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Sunday, December 23, AD 2012

When I was a kid I looked forward to Christmas with much eagerness. Certainly I was excited about the gifts, but there was something else that was even better about the holiday: the food.

As a family of Italian heritage, Christmas Eve was really the main event. It featured an endless array of fish, pasta dishes, and Italian pastries. We also exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. Sure Christmas day itself was important – Santa brought the gifts, we went to Church, and then another hearty meal. But the Eve was what I anticipated the most.

What I never knew was that there was a name for all this seafood consumption: the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Wikipedia has a barebones explanation for it. Being that Christmas Eve was traditionally a time of abstinence from meat, unsurprisingly Italians do what we always do best an just made a bunch of seafood dishes instead. Technically the feast did not have to have seven fish courses – it could have less, but it could have more.

Now that I am older and have my own family we’ll be spending Christmas at home. Which means it is up to me to provide the seafood fest. Here is what the Zummo menu looks like for tomorrow:

Fish curry (supplied by friends)
Crabmeat and artichoke dip (they don’t all have to be hearty courses)
Baked clams
Mussels with spaghetti
Shrimp scampi
Smoked salmon

And of course the most important element of the whole thing: octupus, or polpo as we called it.

Oh I guess I’ll make a vegetable as well, but this is about the seafood.

Anyway, that is my family tradition. Consider this a semi-open thread to discuss what your Christmas traditions are.

By the way, I’ll be blogging more about the feast on my personal wesbite – paulzummo.com. Look for the “Food and Booze” section where I also have written about the best cocktail in the world.

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13 Responses to The Feast of the Seven Fishes

  • *laughs* I was an adult before I realized that most families had Christmas on the day, instead of the eve!

    Christmas Mass was on the eve, because Father had to cover six different churches; gifts were at night, because cows have to eat even on Christmas. Food had to cook all day, and if family was traveling they needed to leave before it was too dark, so Mass– family dinner– presents, with stockings in the morning, was the normal way of things.

    My favorite tradition is oranges, or tangerines. Partly because they were always there, and partly because of how mom glows when she mentions how special it was when she was a kid and that was the only time they could ever get them.

  • Being Polish, the family waited for the first star to appear before taking our Christmas Eve dinner. It consisted mostly of fish, mushrooms we had picked and dried all year, (father knew the difference and we now are amazed that we are all still here enjoying Christmas), mashed potatoes, vegetable and mother’s favorite banana cake with whipped cream, grapes, tangerines, nuts and candies of all kinds, always wine, mostly Virginia Dare, and the oplatek shared before the meal with confession of grievance, begging of forgiveness, kissing of the hands and faces and the hopes and promises for each individual at table for good fortune and God’s blessings, three brothers, one sister and both parents. Then, the caroling at table after the food, and a couple more glasses of wine. Godfathers and Godmothers came bearing gifts, more reliably than the sun rising, and early to bed to listen for Santa Clause, (and to catch mom and pop) They were good at it and were never caught.
    note to Foxfier: Yes, socked my brother with the tangerine in the toe of the sock. That is how the noun sock, became a verb. Not to worry, bother John grew to be know as Big John and three years state champion weightlifting, after his football scholarship.

  • Readers of the Pickwick Papers will recall the huge cod that Mr Pickwick took to Dingley Dell for Christmas.

    A cod, baked whole, the largest the kitchen range could accommodate and served with parsley sauce, was a traditional Christmas Eve dish in England

  • Tamales after Christmas Eve Mass.

  • Buon Natale a Tutti!

  • According to my mom’s Martha Stewart magazine, 1 version of that 7 fish/seafood Christmas dish has exactly 7 different fish and shellfish which each represent one of the 7 Sacraments. I don’t remember every ingredient, but one was scallops, which I think would represent Baptism (the article didn’t say what represented what), and I think squid are somehow logical to represent Confession. Anyone have any ideas what the other fish might be and what they stand for?

  • “Anyone have any ideas what the other fish might be and what they stand for?”
    I vote anchovies for Extreme Unction.
    I think they taste like death and they’re soaked in olive oil.

    Sorry for the bad joke, but seriously…I seem to recall my mother in law (RIP) using anchovies as part of the 7.

    Happy Christmas to all..

  • Forgive me if this comes across as cynical, but would salmon work for Marriage because they mate just once (and die shortly afterwards)?

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  • My grandmother would have said – O Senor! – to seven fishes.
    She cooked dried, salted codfish with a tomato and onion sauce, and served it with polenta on Christmas Eve (many Fridays as well). Her grandchildren looked forward to the Day dinner of her ravioli, antipasto, and roast ‘way more’.

    Merry Christmas and happy memories.

  • If monkfish are edible, they could be Holy Orders. Now all we need here are candidates for Confirmation (no pun intended) and the Eucharist.

  • As soon as we were old enough to go to Midnight Mass, we started to have Christmas more on the Eve. Partly this was because Dad’s United Methodist church had services in the morning; but mostly it was because Grandpa liked Midnight Mass and they’d come over before Mass and socialize. But we still generally had presents in the morning. (Stockings were on St. Nicholas’ Day, from the German side of the family.) Then we could have Christmas Day lunch/dinner very late in the day.

  • Do cod (or at least their oil) make an acceptable Confirmation symbol? And do shrimp or oysters work better for Eucharist?

The Eternal Issue: Batman vs. Spider-Man

Sunday, December 23, AD 2012



Ah, TAC tackles only the big burning issues of our day!  Travis D. Smith over at The Weekly Standard raises a philosophical question that has always intrigued me:  who is the greater hero, Batman or Spider-Man?

Reservations  about technology are at the heart of Spider-Man’s story. Peter Parker  gains the proportional strength and agility of a spider when a high-tech  experiment goes awry. His webshooters and spider-tracers are products  of his own ingenuity. His rogue’s gallery, by contrast, comprises a  testament to the dangers inherent in modern technological science given  the myriad ways it can be misused and lead to unintended consequences.  With few exceptions, Spidey’s foes can be categorized as either (i) good  guys who were transformed into villains (or ordinary thugs who were  made much worse) by technological mishaps or unexpected side-effects  (e.g., Doctor Octopus, Electro, Green Goblin, Lizard, Morbius, and  Sandman; Venom, too, indirectly), or (ii) crooks who specifically  invented, obtained, or otherwise employ technology for the sake of doing  wrong or becoming worse (e.g., Beetle, Chameleon, Hobgoblin, Jackal,  Mysterio, Rhino, Scorpion, Shocker, and Vulture; Kraven is the  noteworthy exception). The young Peter Parker is corrupted by the  culture around him no less than any other young man. His first instinct  is to use his newfound powers in a selfish, though harmless, manner: He  plans to make it big in showbiz for the sake of supporting his family.  But after he internalizes Uncle Ben’s message, Spider-Man stands out as a  marvel precisely because he is both the victim of science gone wrong  and a manufacturer of technological wonders, yet neither makes a monster  of him—if we set aside that brief period he had six arms.

Modern  society, marked, if not defined, by our devotion to technological  science and premised principally on theories of rights, explicitly  rejects classical ideas that emphasize virtuous character and duties  that transcend individual will. Assessing all relationships in terms of  power, defending subjective rights as absolutes, and replacing  interpersonal duties with collective responsibilities, preferring the  indirect benefactions of impersonal institutionalized mechanisms,  modernity is a breeding ground for tyrannical souls and a recipe for  tyrannical regimes. It is in this light that Spider-Man can help us to  see that modernity’s capacity to turn out relatively well depends on  habits and ideas that precede it.

When  I teach introductory classes in political theory, I am grateful for the  example that Spider-Man provides of Glaucon’s model of “the man of  perfect justice” from Book II of The Republic, one who always  does the right thing (in terms of complying with conventional morality)  even though he always earns a reputation for doing the wrong thing.  Nobody who would wield great power intending to work on behalf of  justice can avoid earning a bad reputation. Spider-Man is sure to be  accused of being an accomplice in any bank robbery he thwarts. The  headlines of the Daily Bugle regularly prompt readers to ask  themselves whether he is a “Threat or Menace?” Nevertheless, Peter  chooses to keep up the good fight. The language of “choice,” however,  falls short here. Whereas Bruce decides to become a costumed agent of  vengeance, acting on an internal compulsion, Peter regards what he does  not so much as a choice but as a responsibility, a duty he must meet  irrespective of his preferences and desires. This accords with the  classical notion that virtue is demanded of us by our very nature; it is  not something that anyone can opt in or out of indifferently.

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16 Responses to The Eternal Issue: Batman vs. Spider-Man

  • I grew up with marvel comic books, but determining the greatest of imaginary creatures is not an eternal issue for me. Forgive me for being such a spoilsport. Only the shadow really knows.

  • “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…”

  • Batman.

    What else needs be said?

  • The Super Heroes are all personifications of the virtues, of Justice. The evildoers are all personifications of vice.

  • My oldest son is less than one month from being five years old. His favorite shows are Superman and Batman, both done by the same people, from the early and mid 1990s. Hub shows them nearly every day. These cartoons were not developed solely for children and often have some mature subject matters.

    Cars, trucks, trains and superheroes are usually fascinating to little boys. They were for me and they are for my son. I remember the Filmation Superman and Batman cartoons from the 1960s as well as the Spiderman cartoon. They used to be shown in the afternoon hours after school.

    I once heard it said from a radio DJ that he preferred Batman to Superman because Batman was more believable. Almost nobody in the Batman world had superpowers.

    Spiderman has a superpower and finds himself with an obligation to use it no matter his personal struggles. Batman uses his vast resources to fight his enemies.

    Which one prefers depends on one’s own tastes.

  • I always liked Superman partly because he was a down to earth midwestern farm boy at heart. DC has in the recent decades played up the “Last Son of Krypton” in regard to Superman, but there was always more of Kansas than of Krypton in the Defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way.

  • True RL! And how could I have overlooked Duck Dodgers, the champion of justice in the 24th and a half century?

  • Don, I think you hit on an imporant point that the Weekly Standard article only inches toward.

    Take this as a thesis: Spiderman is human, Batman is angelic.

    Batman isn’t a superpowered being so much as supernatural. He knows everything, is all-powerful, and acts with perfect motives. He fights beings that are pure evil. In his origin story, he was only a witness to sin. On the other hand, Spiderman was born in original sin. Peter Parker is trying to improve himself, whereas Batman always seems to be perfect. Spiderman’s enemies are as human and error-prone as he is.

    Batman isn’t a character to be emulated. We’re foolish and sinful. We’re not the world’s greatest anything. Humans make their biggest mistakes when they think of themselves as angelic: willing to become agents of God’s pure wrath in order to make the world a better place. That’s where the Weekly Standard rightly senses something dangerous.

  • Wow Don. i didn’t know about Duck Dodgers – at least I sure don’t remember it. Pretty cool stuff.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Duck Dodgers came out a few years ago. It became a favorite of my kids and I enjoyed it also. Merry Christmas RL!

  • “Take this as a thesis: Spiderman is human, Batman is angelic.”

    Interesting thesis Pinky. I always found Superman to be a more down to earth character than Batman, in spite of his vast powers. Batman was sort of an archetype of Nemesis in his war against the underworld, as he was originally portrayed. This changed in the Fifties when Batman got involved in science fiction and time travel adventures and became a much more run of the mill superhero. DC returned to the original concept with the New Look Batman stories starting in 1965.

  • I’m sure you know Bats better than I do. The most I know about Batman’s history is that he’s oscillated between dark avenger and camp. But he does play with being a force of nature, an archetype of fear. Spiderman is a spider because he got bitten by a spider. Batman is a bat because he thinks it taps into subconscious fears.

    Now Superman, I never could relate to. He’s 100% of everything good, so there’s never any suspense with him, except for the inevitable Kryptonite. The guy has one weakness, so every writer has to exploit it, or there’d be no story. I never found Superman to be any more human than Popeye.

  • Superman has several weaknesses:

    Kryptonite, in manifold forms; magic; and he loses his power under a red sun. In the Golden Age of comics in the forties the fact that Superman was so immensely powerful was overlooked and he almost always battled gangsters with no superpowers, with the exceptions being Lex Luthor and a very few supervillains such as the Toyman. Since that time writers for Superman and Action Comics have been bedeviled at trying to come up with situations for Superman that are challenging without relying on one of his weaknesses all the time. Periodically Superman’s powers have been reduced, but the pull to portray Superman as the most powerful of superheroes is apparently irresistible at DC.

Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 53

Sunday, December 23, AD 2012

Concluding our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here , and here, we come to Isaiah 53:


[1] Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

[2] And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him:

[3] Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.

[4] Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.

[5] But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.

[6] All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

[7] He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.

[8] He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him.

[9] And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death: because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth.

[10] And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand.

[11] Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities.

[12] Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked: and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.


Of this passage Saint Clement wrote:

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2 Responses to Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 53

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  • …..to give us peace He is under chastisement,

    Upon the ordination of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the young Raymond had these words placed on his ordination cards; “Jesus gave His All for you. What are you willing to give Him in return?”

    If we take our personal struggles, our chastisements and bare them with great love for God, how consoling then your act of love for the infant of Bethlehem.
    It’s the least we can do.