Monthly Archives: February 2013

Unsurprising Story

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Hattip to Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  A nun is allegedly involved in vote fraud in Ohio:

 

A nun has been implicated by prosecutors in a troubling case of election fraud, according to local news reports.
It’s been alleged by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters that Sister Marge Kloos of the Sisters of Charity mailed in an absentee ballot of Sister Rose Marie Hewitt who had reportedly passed away on October 4th of last year.
Deters sent a letter to the Board of Elections that said:

Re: Deceased Voter Rose Marie Hewitt.
Please be advised that sufficient information has been developed with respect to the above mentioned matter to determine that there is probable cause to believe that criminal activity has occurred.

Hewitt had reportedly lived with Sister Marge Kloos, the dean of arts at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Prosecutor Joe Deters told WCPO that Kloos is being investigated as the person who sent in Hewitt’s ballot.
Sisters of Charity president Sister Joan Cook told reporters that they are cooperating with police.
Sister Marge Kloos has shown strong position on politics in the past. In fact in 2011, Sister Marge Kloos signed a letter reprimanding House Speaker John Boehner for siding with the “reckless” Tea Party. The letter read:

This is a stark choice between responsible leadership that serves the common good and narrow ideology that makes tax cuts for the wealthy our most sacred national priority. As Ohio Catholics, we urge you to reject the reckless path urged by many Tea Party leaders in Congress. Now is the time to seek a compromise that reflects the Catholic values of solidarity with the most vulnerable and prudential judgment. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

So Who Exactly Is Pushing A Social Agenda?

The typical complaint one hears about conservatives, particularly from libertarians, is that social conservatives want to use the government to advance their agenda and force their beliefs down everyone’s throats. Normally the first issue that is brought up to defend this proposition is abortion. I find that odd because if wanting to prohibit abortion is akin to being a proponent of big government, then anyone who advocates for laws against murder is clearly also an advocate for big government. The next most commonly cited issue is gay marriage. Again, I find this odd because it is the proponents of gay marriage who want government to make a complete change to the institution of marriage in order to advance their agenda.

At any rate, libertarians and other social liberals usually run out of steam after those two big issues, though the more creative will invent issues that social conservatives supposedly support in order to defend this thesis.

What frustrates me about this is that left-wing attempts to use the government to indoctrinate society are ignored or downplayed, yet examples of left-wing attempts to influence the culture through the government are far more plentiful than conservative ones. One need only look at Mayor Nanny Bloomberg in New York – hardly a raging social conservative – to recognize that.

Want more proof? First, here’s a bill sponsored by Senate Democrats to fund comprehensive sex education.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Thursday that they’d introduced sex-education legislation limiting funding for “ineffective” abstinent-only programs.

The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools, while ensuring that federal funds are spent on “effective, age-appropriate and medically accurate” programs.

. . . The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act aims to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and expand sex education programs at colleges and universities. The bill would also prevent federal funds from being spent on “ineffective, medically inaccurate” sex-educ

ation programs.

To translate, we’re going to spend tax money teaching kids about birth control but we’d be verbotten to teach them “medically inaccurate” information like keeping it in your pants will prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs. We wouldn’t want kids being told off-the-wall ideas about not having sex before the age of 18 or – even nuttier – before marriage. No, no, no – we gotta get to these kids and make sure they know how to put a condom on a banana.

And do we really need to spend federal tax dollars on expanding sex education at colleges? Are college-aged kids that really in the dark about sex that this justifies federal intervention?

Want to know the kicker? One of the co-sponsors of this bill is Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). In that case there will probably be an amendment setting aside funds teaching underage Dominican prostitutes to keep their mouths shut.

And that wasn’t the saddest news of the day. Here’s a story via Creative Minority Report:

Parents across Massachusetts are upset over new rules that would not only allow transgender students to use their restrooms of their choice – but would also punish students who refuse to affirm or support their transgender classmates.

Last week the Massachusetts Department of Education issued directives for handling transgender students – including allowing them to use the bathrooms of their choice or to play on sports teams that correspond to the gender with which they identify.

The 11-page directive also urged schools to eliminate gender-based clothing and gender-based activities – like having boys and girls line up separately to leave the classroom.

Schools will now be required to accept a student’s gender identity on face value.

“A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl,” the guidelines stipulate.

As long as little Johnnie feels he’s a little Joannie, no one can tell him/her otherwise.

Hey, but these rules only help liberate young transgendered people from being discriminated against. It’s not like this would impinge anyone else’s freedom, right?

Another part of the directive that troubles parents deals with students who might feel comfortable having someone of the opposite sex in their locker room or bathroom.

The state takes those students to task – noting their discomfort “is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

And any student who refuses to refer to a transgendered student by the name or sex they identify with could face punishment.

For example – a fifth grade girl might feel uncomfortable using the restroom if there is an eighth grade transgendered boy in the next stall.

Under the state guidelines, the girl would have no recourse, Beckwith said.

“And if the girl continued to complain she could be subjected to discipline for not affirming that student’s gender identity choice,” he told Fox News.

“It should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline,” the directive states.

But that’s okay, says a spokesman for the transgendered.

Gunner Scott, of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, praised the directive – and said punishing students who refuse to acknowledge a student’s gender identity is appropriate because it amounts to bullying.

That’s right. Feeling uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with someone of the opposite sex who doesn’t think he or she is a member of the opposite sex is bullying, dont’cha know? And the only way to deal with bullies is to, well, bully them. That sounds reasonable, said Dan Savage.

And yet we’ll continue to hear countless fairly tales about how young modern hipsters would vote Republican if only they’d drop their obsession with silly social issues.

Well, as long as you’ve got useful idiots like Rod Dreherwriting for ostensibly conservative publications, we’ll just keep losing the culture wars.

Resignation Rumors

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Well this was inevitable.  When something that hasn’t happened for almost six centuries happens, there are going to be rumors about why it is happening:

VATICAN CITY – With just days to go before Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the Vatican is battling rumours that his decision was triggered by an explosive report on intrigue in its hallowed corridors of power.

The secret report compiled by a committee of three cardinals for the pope’s eyes only was the result of a broad inquiry into leaks of secret Vatican papers last year — a scandal known as “Vatileaks”.

The cardinals questioned dozens of Vatican officials and presented the pope with their final report in December 2012, just before Benedict pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele who had been jailed for leaking the papal memos.

The Panorama news weekly and the Repubblica daily said on Thursday that the cardinals’ report contained allegations of corruption and of blackmail attempts against gay Vatican clergymen, as well as favouritism based on gay relationships.

The Vatican has declined to comment on these two reports, with spokesman Federico Lombardi saying they were “conjectures, fictions and opinions.”

In an interview with El Pais, one of the investigating cardinals, Julian Herranz, said the scandal was “a bubble” that had been “inflated”.

“There will be black sheep, I am not saying there are not, like in all families,” he said, adding that the investigators had “spoken to people, seen what works and what does not, lights and shadows”.

Speaking to Italy’s Radio 24, Herranz said the idea that “Vatileaks” might have influenced the pope’s decision was one “hypothesis” among many others.

“These are decisions that are taken personally in the deep of one’s conscience and they must be profoundly respected,” the 82-year-old said.

At his final public mass last week, Benedict himself condemned “religious hypocrisy” and urged an end to “individualism and rivalry”.

“The face of the Church… is at times disfigured. I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the Church,” he said, without elaborating.

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Kalinka

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Something for the weekend.  Kalinka, perhaps the best known Russian song.  It was written in 1860 by Iran Larionov.  It quickly achieved a popularity of epic proportions and has been sung with endless variant lyrics among Russians from that day to this.  Here are the original lyrics:

Little snowberry, snowberry, snowberry of mine!

 Little raspberry in the garden, my little raspberry!

  Ah, under the pine, the green one,

 Lay me down to sleep,

 Rock-a-bye, baby, rock-a-bye, baby,

 Lay me down to sleep.

 

Little snowberry, snowberry, snowberry of mine!

 Little raspberry in the garden, my little raspberry!

  Ah, little pine, little green one,

 Don’t rustle above me,

 Rock-a-bye, baby, rock-a-bye, baby,

 Don’t rustle above me.

  Little snowberry, snowberry, snowberry of mine!

 Little raspberry in the garden, my little raspberry!

  Ah, you beauty, pretty maiden,

 Take a fancy to me,

 Rock-a-bye, baby, rock-a-bye, baby,

 Take a fancy to me.   Little snowberry, snowberry, snowberry of mine!

 Little raspberry in the garden, my little raspberry!

Here is a variant from the movie Taras Bulba (1962) where cossacks in the seventeenth century are anachronistically singing Kalinka as a drinking song: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Happy 281st Birthday General!

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The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

George Washington

This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. We are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.

Abraham Lincoln

An Irony in the Conclave

In 2005 the media did a fabulous job of putting forward liberal candidates to replace Pope John Paul II.  In fairness, they had a mixed slate of candidates that spanned the theological and political spectrum’s.  In doing so, they gave an exaggerated picture of a mixed college of cardinals.  On the far left was a cardinal from Belgium named Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  Cardinal Danneels was appointed a cardinal in 1983 by Pope John Paul II.  In the course of his career, the cardinal has urged a decentralized church that relies more on consultation with the world’s bishops.  He has promoted a more flexible approach to pastoral and doctrinal problems, suggesting a rethinking of issues ranging from the shortage of priests to the status of divorced and remarried Catholics, as well as the Church’s way of evangelizing, ecumenism, collegiality, the possibility of ordaining married men, world peace, ecological responsibility, and the relationship between rich and poor countries.  He once said that the Church must take its proper place in society “with its witness, its message and its commitment to the poor.  Everything else is decorative.”

He did, however, have an ironic prediction which turned out to be accurate in its content though inaccurate in its subject. Cardinal Danneels was among the first to say that he believed Pope John Paul II would resign for the good of the church if he were unable to bear the burdens of the papacy.  As we know, no such resignation occurred, at least for Pope John Paul II.

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King Kirby, Captain America and American History

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A guest post by commenter Fabio Paolo Barbieri on one of the legendary comic book artists, Jack “King” Kirby, his greatest comic book creation, Captain America, and Kirby’s trip through American history with the Captain:

With Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles we at last reach a masterpiece within the meaning of the act.  The Marvel Treasury Edition format in which it was published, though suffering from the same bad production values as the regular titles, tried for a more upmarket and collectable air: instead of slim pamphlets with floppy covers, padded out with cheapo ads, they had 80 large pages, no ads, and more durable hard(ish) covers. On the whole, it was an unhappy compromise without future, but Kirby, who had seen formats and production values decline throughout his career, grasped the opportunity of more elaborate work than the regular format allowed.  (Artists of Kirby’s generation are often heard commenting on the quality of paper and colouring available to today’s cartoonists, even when they don’t read the stories; bad printing had been such a fundamental reality to their period that improved paper stock and technology are the one thing that stands out when they see a new comic.)
Captain-America-Bicen-01fc
That is not to say that it is flawless everywhere; few details of title, packaging and secondary material could be worse.  That anyone could come up with such a title as Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles would be incredible had it not happened; its clanging, flat verbosity belongs more to the kitsch of 1876 than of 1976 – “Doctor Helzheimer’s Anti-Gas Pills”.  The pin-ups that pad out the awkwardly-sized story (77 pages), with Captain America in various pseudo-historical costumes, are positively infantile, the front cover is dull and the back one ridiculous.  Nothing shows more absurdly the dichotomy between Kirby’s mature, thoughtful, even philosophical genius and the bad habits of a lifetime at the lowest end of commercial publishing coming on top of a lower-end education; the nemesis, you might say, of uneducated self-made genius.  The Kirby who did this sort of thing was the Kirby who filled otherwise good covers with verbose and boastful blurbs, who defaced the English language with “you matted masterpiece of murderous malignancy!” and the like, who cared nothing for precision and good taste – in short, the man whose lack of education lingered in his system all his life. Kirby went into his work with less inherited “baggage” than any other cartoonist, and was correspondingly radical and revolutionary, but he also had little share in common taste and standards.

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The Mask Drops

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All we have of freedom, all we use or know—

This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—

Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing

Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,

How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom—not at little cost

Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,

Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue

 

 

Give an A to Sarah Conly for boldly proclaiming what many of our liberal elites believe but are too wise to state openly:

Since Mill’s seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law
I would review her book Against Autonomy, but I think I will call on three others to do the heavy lifting for me:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for
our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Papal Picks

Several people have been asking who I would like to see elected once Pope Benedict steps down.  This is always a delicate question, for numerous reasons.  First, it is quite clear that I do not, nor should I, get a vote.  Whatever opinions I hold are simply that: my  opinions and hopes.  Second, should someone “off my list” be elected, I would not want people to think that I “disapprove.”  Just like everyone else, I have various qualities that I would like to see in the new pope, but I also will pledge my undying fidelity and unceasing prayers to whoever occupies the Chair of St. Peter.  Third, if the last several elections have taught us anything it is that old adage rings true: “He who walks into a conclave a pope comes out a cardinal.”  In other words, these things are notoriously difficult to predict.

Nevertheless, because I am human and because I get all geeked out about these things, it should come as no surprise that I have “a list.”  Before we get to it, however, it is worth giving you (1) the criteria the media seems to be using for choosing contenders, (2) my sense of the criteria that the cardinals will actually use, and (3) the criteria I am using.

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America Meets Dale

 

 

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As long time readers of this blog know I have long been an admirer of the work of Dale Price at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings, and I frequently go there to steal borrow blog ideas.  Dale turned his attention recently to the editorial at America, the Jesuit heterodox rag, which called for the repeal of the Second Amendement:

That their grief may not be compounded.

At long last, the editors of America endorse a constitutional buttress to the culture of life.

 

Supporting the Human Life Amendment? Surely you jest. Politics is strictly about the art of the possible when it comes to abortion.

 

No, no–one must be realistic about such things.

 

Instead, we need to repeal the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The reason: something must be done so that urban, left-leaning Jesuits can feel better about themselves:

 

The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.

 

For some reason, there are exceptions:

 

This does not require an absolute ban on firearms. In the post-repeal world that we envision, some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes.

 

As an aside, please, please, I beg you: stop pretending you give a rat’s fanny about hunting. Deep down, we know you hate it, but somehow you feel compelled to offer insincere boilerplate respect. You can stop now. Besides, hunting firearms are more devastating than ones that make you queasy. Just flop your cards on the table and admit you don’t approve of any significant private ownership of firearms. Dialogue requires openness, don’t you know?

 

Anyway, there’s a yawning logical inconsistency here: why should an off-duty approved firearm owner be allowed to keep it when he is off the clock? At the end of the day, such individuals should turn them in to a secure area until they punch back in. Even soldiers aren’t toting weapons around all the time outside of combat zones. As the editors note, original sin (!) ensures bad things will happen, and cops are quite capable of misusing firearms, as we have been recently reminded. Thus, in Americaworld, there is no reason for anyone to own a firearm off duty.

 

Go after violent media? Nah. That’s Legion of Decency, Catholic-ghetto stuff. Shudder.

 

Revisit our oft-idiotic drug war? Piffle. Nope. What it boils down to is that nobody at America owns a firearm or likes anyone who owns one. In policymaking, this is known as the It’s Time We All Start Making Sacrifices, Starting With You, Of Course! maneuver.

 

Did it ever occur to them to, you know, actually talk to an actual gun owner before promulgating this un-papal bull? Apparently not. Dialogue’s only for people the Catholic left respect, I guess. Nope–it’s time to tear an Amendment out of the Constitution and unchain Caesar to kick doors in to remove unapproved firearms from our midst. If you like the drug war, you’ll plotz over the gun war. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Blackbeard

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There was Teach, the bloody pirate, with his black beard curling on his breast.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named. This is the seventh in a series giving brief biographies of these men. Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty, here to read the “biography” of the Reverend John Smeet,  here to read the biography of Major Walter Butler, here to read the biography of Thomas Morton here to read the biography of King Philip, and here to read the biography of Governor Thomas Dale.  Our final member of the jury of the damned is Edward Teach, better known to history as Blackbeard.

It is odd that Blackbeard is almost the only pirate from the colorful Age of Piracy in the Sixteenth-Eighteenth centuries that most members of the general public could name, because he had a very short career, only two years, and was much less successful than many pirates, for example Henry Morgan, who achieved a knighthood and the office of Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.

Teach was probably born in Bristol, England in 1680.  He may have served as a privateer in Queen Anne’s War.  In 1716 the pirate Benjamin Hornigold placed Teach in command of a sloop, and together the duo committed numerous acts of piracy.  In 1717 Teach captured a French merchant ship, renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge and armed her with 40 guns, a formidable armament for a pirate ship.  His fame began to spread.  His nickname, Blackbeard, came from the long black beard he wore.  Teach adopted a fearsome personae in order to overawe the crews of the ships that he captured.  He lit fuses dangling from beneath his cap to enhance his image as a completely ruthless pirate. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Rape and Kung Fu

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The hits just keep on coming regarding guns and rape courtesy of Democrats in the Colorado legislature.  Democrat Representative Paul Rosenthal opines in the above video that women do not need guns to protect themselves from rape;  citing mace, taser, the buddy system and judo as gun substitutes.  Rosenthal apparently is so afraid of pistol packing mamas that any other alternative is preferable.  Gun “control” has always had a touch of the irrational about it, as the focus is placed on an inanimate object instead of the people who wield it either for good or for ill.  To keep guns out of the hands of the general public, gun “control” advocates are quite willing to see people go without the single most effective response to a violent confrontation.  If this isn’t a restriction on the individual liberty that most Americans prize, no restriction on liberty, in principle, can be opposed.  This is government treating citizens like children who cannot be trusted to make their own decisions for their own good. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Klavan on Pope Benedict

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Andrew Klavan, the mystery writer and humorist I have often quoted on this blog, is a big fan of the Pope:

Pope Benedict, as I’ve said before, is the Last European, by which I mean the last great man and mind who fully comprehends the beautiful but now dying culture that produced him.  It’s appalling to me–though not surprising–that the only thing the mainstream media ever covers about him is how often he apologizes for the abuses of some priests or how politically incorrect his view of gay people is or whatever.  I have now read a good selection of his writings and when the work of Foucault and Derridas and de Man and the rest of that benighted lot has toddled off to the obscurity it so dearly deserves, Benedict’s writings will stand.  They may be the final flares of genius to fly up from the continent he loves before darkness closes over it.

I’m not a Catholic.  My views on authority and sexual morality are too individualistic.  But when I see the level of thought coming out of Anglicanism  – especially the low and despicable crypto anti-semitism in the cowardly guise of anti-Zionism – and then read the grace-filled, spirit-inspired work of Big Ben, well, I’m embarrassed.

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B-16′s greatness doesn’t lie in his papacy. Or that is, if it does, I wouldn’t know. It’s his writing, his theology, his thought that elevate him in my mind. When I was but a youngish dude, pounding my way through the great works, it seemed to me that the wisdom of many of the great German thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries had been thrown aside for no good reason. Kant and Hegel had philosophically rescued the essence of Christianity for the scientific age, and had been ultimately left behind by mainstream thinkers not because they were wrong, but because they were just sort of out of keeping with the atheistic spirit of the day.

As Nietzsche understood, that God-is-dead zeitgeist would perforce lead to moral relativism. And so it has. But Ratzinger, shrugging off the zeitgeist like the cheap suit it is, humbly went on tilling the Kantian and Hegelian fields, making his way back not just to the essentials of Christianity but to the sacred person of Christ himself. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Return the Flags

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‘But they’re wearing blue, grandpa. They are yankees.’

‘No son. They’re Americans.’

Rough Riders (1998)

The video above matter of factly displays the flag of the 28th Virginia captured by the 1st Minnesota on July 3, 1863 during the repulse of Picket’s Charge.    The 1st Minnesota of course had its moment of glory when it delayed a Confederate attack with a charge that left 82% of the regiment dead and wounded, buying time with their blood for Union reinforcements to hold the line against the advancing Confederates, and likely saved the Union Army from defeat at Gettysburg.

One can understand the significance of the captured flag for the people of Minnesota.  Of course the flag also has significance to the state of Virginia, and a conflict has been simmering for years over the refusal of Minnesota to return the flag to Virginia:

Minnesota returned fire Wednesday when a Senate committee voted to ignore a request from the state of Virginia and keep a controversial Civil War battle flag.

The flag, which features the stars and bars of the Confederate emblem, was captured by the Minnesota 1st Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, a re-enactment group based in the Roanoke, Va., area, has tried for years to regain possession of the flag.

Members say Minnesota is obligated to return the flag under a 1905 congressional resolution that says flags captured in battles should be returned to their originating states.

In 1998, then-Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III rebuffed a request from the 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, saying the law applied only to flags already in the War Department’s possession. He also ruled that the group had no legal standing to request the flag.

Minnesota refused to return the flag.

Last year, Virginia’s Legislature and governor signed off on a resolution urging the Minnesota Historical Society to ‘‘facilitate’’ the flag’s return to Virginia.

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Better to be Raped Than to be Armed

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At least that is what Joe Salazar, a Democrat State Representative in Colorado, apparently believes:

 

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop around at somebody.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Cutting the Papa-Bull

I’m off from work, so you get a whole two posts from me today. Aren’t you lucky?

Pat Archbold has written an excellent post at the National Catholic Register that counters some of the arguments we’ve heard in light of Pope Benedict’s resignation, abdication, retirement, ummm not being Pope anymore. Our own Jake Tawney touched upon some of these issues last week, but it’s worth re-emphasizing.

The Holy Spirit picks the Pope, so don’t worry. This is probably the most common bit of balderdash. I refer to this is ‘Holy Spirit as conclave Puppeteer fallacy.’

Let’s get this straight, the Holy-Spirit does not pick the Pope, 117 fallible men do. For certain, many or even most of these men will call on the Holy Spirit in fervent prayer to guide their judgement, but it is still their judgement, their fallible judgment.

To suggest that the Holy Spirit picks the Pope is an insult to the Holy Spirit born of ignorance. To put the blame for some of the horrible Popes that we have had on the Holy Spirit is to blame God for our own contrary wills. No, the Holy Spirit does not pick the Pope.

The Holy Spirit protects the Church from anything bad, so don’t worry. If you worry, you don’t trust the Holy Spirit. I call this the ‘Holy Spirit as fairy-godmother fallacy.’ If you have the temerity to express a bit of apprehension over the abdication of the Pope or for the future, the pious will pummel you as an unbeliever. While the Holy Spirit protects the Church from certain things (more on this later), the Holy Spirit does not protect the Church from calamity. To make such an argument is to be woefully ignorant of history. Ignorant of not only the whole 2,000 years of history, but ignorant of just the last 50 years of history.  Bad things happen, even to the Church.

Part B of this fallacy are those who trot out “The gates of Hell shall not prevail!!!” as their defense of this nonsense. Yes, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but this is no guarantee that there will be not be tremendous loss of life and souls along the way. The Nazis did not prevail, but they sure did a lot of evil before they lost. This line of thinking is merely sticking your head in pious sand.

How dare you critique the Pope! He is guided by the Holy Spirit!! If you have the temerity to question the Pope’s (past, present, or even future) prudential judgment, then you are a cafeteria catholic and a moral relativist of the worst sort. I call this the ‘Pope as God or Jack Chick fallacy.’ I have seen many people comment that we have no right as Catholics to question the Pope’s prudential judgement on anything or even offer advice to a future Pope. The Holy Spirit guides the Pope, dont’cha know, so to question or advise the Pope is to question or advise the Holy Spirit. Heretic!!

In one bit of commentary I warned of the dangers of a ‘trend’ of papal abdications and advised a future pontiff to avoid it. I didn’t even critique the current Pontiff’s decision, just advised a future one. For this, I was branded a moral relativist and a heretic.

Of course, proper respect should be given to any Pope, even in prudential areas, but the Pope is not infallible in this. While I am certain that this Pope prayed and discerned over his decision to abdicate, this is no guarantee that this is the right thing to do or that it is the will of God. There are real consequences to this decision and there are real dangers too. That is not to say that the Pope is doing the wrong thing, but only that he is doing what he thinks is best. It may be, it may not be.

Pat’s previous post, referenced in his third point, was savaged some commenters because he had the brazen temerity to tell the Pope what to do, though that wasn’t exactly the message of his column.

One mistake that some Catholics make is treating every papal utterance and action as divinely inspired and thus immune from even the slightest bit of criticism or doubt. This tendency only fuels the suspicions of non-Catholics and heterodox Catholics that we treat the Pope as something like a deity. Neither Pat nor I are suggesting that we should make like Hans Kung and vigorously dissent in the most arrogant manner possible, however; we need to recognize that Popes are human beings, and though guided by the Holy Spirit, not free from error in everything they do. One reason it’s so important to remember that we have a Pope who is not personally infallible in all things is because he desperately needs our prayers, and we might be less inclined to offer up those prayers if we think he’s got this all covered. So keep those prayers coming for the Pope and for the Cardinals who will be selecting the next Pope.

The Collective Ho-Hum on Benghazi

It’s not every day that an American Embassy is attacked and four Americans, including an Ambassador, are murdered. So after the September 11 attacks on the embassy in Benghazi, one would have thought that there would have been widespread outrage. In fact there was a widespread furor in the aftermath of the attacks. First the outrage was aimed at presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supposedly insensitive and political comments made hours after we learned of what occurred. After the storm died down, the public turned its attention to the individual whose film insulted the Prophet Mohammed and thus instigated the attacks.

In the weeks ahead we would come to learn more details. Even after it became obvious to all that the attacks were planned weeks in advance and had absolutely nothing to do with the film (which no one seemed to even know existed until the September 11 attacks), the narrative had been set. And with the campaign in full force, the media seemed content to let the issue die lest the administration be further embarrassed.

Even with the election in the rearviewmirror, reporting on Benghazi has been sparse. A pair of Congressional hearings have shone light on the issue, but an alliance between the far left and far right have managed to damper the conversation. The first event was now former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Senate, where in response to questioning from Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Clinton responded:

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?

The response was hailed by those desperate to bury the issue as a stroke of genius. Hillary Clinton had all but sewn up the 2016 presidential election with her Churchillian wit. Forget that the response was at best callous, and demonstrated a tremendous lack of curiosity from the person in charge of our State Department, not to mention that it sure as hell matters why these attacks were perpetrated. No, it was the line that ended the debate once and for all.

Well, not quite, because the issue came up again in the confirmation hearings from Obama’s choice to replace Leon Panetta at the Department of Defense. Chuck Hagel’s disastrous performance has stalled his nomination. Though anyone watching Hagel’s performance that day should have realized he isn’t qualified to run a frozen banana stand let alone the Defense Department, the “true conservatives” at the American (Paleo)Conservative ran to Hagel’s defense. Over there ideology trumps competence, and they have mounted an all out blitz on those Israel-loving neocons who oppose Hagel, I guess because those Jewish mind rays have distorted our judgment or something.

The most hysterical (in more ways than one) response came from Rod Dreher (h/t Pauli), who seems to think that the Republicans are destroying their credibility by opposing Hagel. According to Dreher and his buddy Daniel Larison, the GOP’s actions over the past couple of months ensure that all of the independents and realists are going to run in horror away from the GOP. As usual there’s no support given to support the thesis that the Republicans are alienating anyone by not behaving exactly as the folks at the American Conservative wish they would, but it makes for some entertaining reading as Rod Dreher of all people chastises Republicans for being shrill. There’s a Yiddish word for that, but I don’t want to further alienate Dreher by using it. Anyway, after referencing another article chock full of genius insights such as “Be more pro-science” as ways that Republicans can lure “independents,” Dreher shrieks:

On the Hagel matter, the Senate GOP seems nothing but obstructionist. Who gives a rat’s ass about Benghazi? Seriously, who?

Yes, that’s right, the true conservative (TM) position on a terrorist attack on an American embassy that leaves four dead is “who gives a rat’s ass?”

So after dismissing any concern over Benghazi, what’s is Rod Dreher’s next piece of trenchant analysis: a post titled “Happy Kale-Day to Me.” So Dreher can’t be bothered about a terrorist attack, but he is sure to make sure everyone knows he had a terrific birthday in which he got to eat plenty of delicious kale. That’s a true conservative ™ for you.

Well at least the true conservatives ™ can sleep well with the knowledge that they are joined by the far left in dismissing Benghazi as a subject worth worrying our little heads over. Oliver Willis, a “fellow” at Media Matters for America, spent his day writing a series of unfunny tweets mocking conservatives for trying to investigate the issue. Aside from demonstrating his complete witlessness – subject matter aside, Willis’s attempts at satire are just cringeworthy – Willis elaborated the left’s position on Benghazi. You see, only crazy conservatives could possibly have any interest in this boooooooorrrrring issue, so let’s mock them. And Dreher and the useful idiots at the American Conservative are too happy to oblige in the mockery. And then they wonder why conservatives can’t make advances in the culture or in the political sphere.

For years I’ve heard countless complaints about how conservatives aren’t serious, and how we really need to start acting like adults in the room. If burying our heads in the sand about an attack on our embassies that killed fellow Americans is “acting like an adult,” then I truly tremble in fear at where our country is headed.

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