14

Tolerance and the American Left

From Reason TV.  It is funny until one ponders that we live in a time where a broad swathe of Americans are able to be simultaneously unremittingly hostile to people who have the temerity to hold views differing from theirs on political and cultural matters, while also supposedly celebrating tolerance as a key part of their worldview.  George Orwell, a man of the Left, would not have been surprised by this:

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by “thou shalt not”, the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by “love” or “reason”, he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Liberal Tolerance

19

IRS Scandal: 157 Visits to White House

 

 

Hattip to commenter Art Deco who alerted me to this story.  Doug Shulman, the head of the IRS while the IRS was effectively operating as an arm of the Obama reelection campaign, visited the White House at least 157 times during his tenure.  His predecessor in the Bush administration visited the White House once, and compared the IRS to Siberia in reference to its lack of connection with the Bush administration.  Shulman was appointed by Bush in 2008 in spite of Shulman’s history of making political donations to Democrats.

 

Shulman’s extensive access to the White House first came to light during his  testimony last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Shulman gave assorted answers when asked why he had visited the  White House 118 times during the period that the IRS was targeting tea party and  conservative nonprofits for extra scrutiny and delays on their tax-exempt applications.

By contrast, Shulman’s predecessor Mark Everson only visited the White House  once during four years of service in the George W. Bush administration and  compared the IRS’s remoteness from the president to “Siberia.” But the scope of  Shulman’s White House visits — which strongly suggests coordination by White  House officials in the campaign against the president’s political opponents — is  even more striking in comparison to the publicly recorded access of Cabinet  members.

Go here to The Daily Caller to read the rest.  When queried about his constant trips to the Obama White House here is Doug’s response:

In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last  week, Shulman cited several reasons for the visits: “The Easter Egg roll with my  kids . . . questions about the administrability of tax policy . . . our budget,  us helping the Department of Education streamline application processes for  financial aid.” Continue Reading

11

IRS Scandal: the Fifth Amendment, Useful Tools and Sacrificial Lambs

Lois Lerner, director of the IRS Exempts Division while the IRS was treating conservative groups with the same even-handedness displayed by a group of foxes debating the rights of chickens, took the Fifth Amendment, the privilege against self incrimination, before Congress last week.  She did it in an odd way, first making a self serving statement and then taking the Fifth.  I found that passing strange as what is drummed into most defense attorneys about the Fifth Amendment is that you have your client assert the privilege and say absolutely nothing else.  The reason for this is that there is ample case law in criminal cases where defendants have inadvertently waived the privilege because they couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot their mouths off instead of simply asserting the privilege.  As far as I know there is no case law about whether you can waive your Fifth Amendment privilege before Congress by doing so, but a cautious defense attorney would have warned her strenuously against making the “I didn’t do nothin'” opening statement.  I assume that she either got bad legal advice or she got good advice and chose to ignore it.

Of course the atmospherics of Lerner taking the Fifth is disastrous for Lerner and her political string pullers at the White House.  Most people come into contact with the Fifth Amendment when they see video of some gangster asserting the privilege.  Although a court of law or a jury may construe nothing from the assertion of the Fifth Amendment, people who are not judges or serving on juries are perfectly free to make the reasonable assumption that someone would assert the privilege against self-incrimination only when they had good reason to believe they had violated the law.

As she goes under the bus, Lerner perhaps is pondering how she got there.  The explanation for that is simple:  she was a useful tool for the Obama White House in its desperate drive beginning in 2010 to slow the momentum of the Tea Party, a momentum that in 2010 gave the Republicans historic victories in the midterm election and was a mortal threat to the re-election of Obama in 2012.  The IRS was thus a key component in the reelection strategy of Obama by stopping the formation of tax exempt tea party groups and harassing those trying to organize such groups.

In Lerner, the men and women who pulled her strings at the White House found a willing accomplice.  During the Clinton administration, when she was head of the enforcement division of the Federal Election Commission, Lerner developed a well-earned reputation for targeting Republican and conservative groups: Continue Reading

3

The Brilliant Ages

 We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Professor Anthony Esolen who has commented on this blog, in the brilliant video above for Prager University defends the Middle Ages from the ahistorical lies routinely told about that epoch.  The ancient world was in an intellectual dead end, the fall of the Roman Empire in the West merely being the outward sign of the spent force of the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. It was the much maligned Middle Ages that produced the intellectual trends that led humanity, for better and worse, to surpass the accomplishments of the ancient world. Continue Reading

3

Hail Liberty! Hail!

The twenty-fourth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here and here.   Published in 1918, Hail Liberty! Hail!  is a translation by Rudyard Kipling, of the first few stanzas of the poem that is the basis of the Greek National Anthem.  It was written by him at the request of the Greek Ambassador to England D. Kaklamanos.

The original poem consisted of 158 stanzas written by Dionysios Solomos in 1823 during the Greek War of Independence.

Abandoning its neutrality, Greece had entered World War I on the side of the Allies in 1917.  Conflict between Greeks favoring neutrality, led by King Constantine, and those favoring Allied intervention led by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.  Eventually the forces favoring intervention won out, and King Constantine was forced to abdicate in favor of his son King Alexander.  This all turned out to be disastrous after the War as Venizelos, a Cretan by birth, was a strong proponent of the Big (Megale) Idea which proposed Greek control of the regions in Asia Minor along the Mediterranean Sea that had Greek majorities.  After the War the Greeks seized Smyrna in Asia Minor which led to the disastrous, for Greece, Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.  The Greeks were resoundingly defeated by the Turks under Kemal Ataturk, and 1.5 million Greeks were expelled from lands in Asia Minor that they had occupied since the beginnings of Greek recorded history.  A half million Turks and muslim Greeks were expelled from a Greece that they had lived in for almost half a millenium.  The sentiments of the poem are quite high minded, but it serves as an example that high minded sentiments are not a substitute for wisdom in governmental policy.

WE knew thee of old,

Oh divinely restored,

By the light of thine eyes

And the light of thy Sword.

 From the graves of our slain

Shall thy valour prevail

As we greet thee again—

Hail, Liberty! Hail!

 Long time didst thou dwell

Mid the peoples that mourn,

Awaiting some voice

That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day

And no man dared call,

For the shadow of tyranny

Lay over all:

 And we saw thee sad-eyed,

The tears on thy cheeks

While thy raiment was dyed

In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons

With impetuous breath

Go forth to the fight

Seeking Freedom or Death.

 From the graves of our slain

Shall thy valour prevail

As we greet thee again

Hail, Liberty! Hail! Continue Reading

1

Book Review: Pope Francis in His Own Words

The Darwin family is on one of its road trip vacations, so posting has been rather light. However, there’s no better time than vacation to catch up on reading, and thus on book reviews.

Like a lot of Catholic bibliophiles, I’ve been eager to get to know Pope Francis by reading his writings. This is a little tricky, as at the time of his election not a single one of Bergoglio’s books (and there aren’t many) was available in English. Thus, I jumped at the chance to get a review copy of Pope Francis in His Own Words from New World Library.

Whether this book appeals to you is going to depend a great deal on what sort of book you are looking for. This is not a unified theological work, it’s a collection of quotes (most of them one to three sentences) from articles, homilities, addresses and interviews with Bergoglio over the years and from his earliest papal addresses. Most of them are comparatively recent (1999 to 2013) and they are organized by topic. For example, under “On Poverty” there are two quotes:

“A community that stops kneeling before the rich, before success and prestige, and which is capable, instead, of washing the feet of the humble and those in need, will be more aligned with [God’s] teaching than the winner-at-any-price ethic that we’ve learned — badly — in recent times.”

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

“Is there anything more humiliating than being condemned [to an existence in which] you can’t earn your daily bread?”

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

As you can see, these are not mini essays on various topics as in John Paul II’s Crossing the Theshold of Hope. They are more on the order of short quotes, the sort collection you’d pick up once a day to read a quote or two from, not the sort of book that you’d sit down and read cover to cover.

The quotes are very accessible and often throught provoking. A few strike me as being so short and out of context as to be simply stating the obvious. For instance, under “On Atheists” appears the quote:

“[I] know more agnostics than atheists; the first is more undecided, the second, more convinced.”

Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra, 2010

Well, yes. That’s definitionally true, but not necessarily worth pulling as a quote. However, most of this fairly short book (90 pages of quotes and then a short chronology of Pope Francis’s life, followed by a long attribution section) is not filler of that sort.

This is not the book of Pope Francis’s writing that I’ve been waiting for. However, if you or someone you know enjoys a collection of short, inspirational “thought of the day” pieces, this may be a good acquisition or gift.

2

Very Few Atheists in Fox Holes

The blog Science 2.0 repeats something that most combat soldiers have always known:  there are few atheists in fox holes:

But does war really transform people, or does it simply make the fleetingly religious more so for a short time? A recent analysis of archived surveys of Army Infantry soldiers after a battle –  Samuel Stouffer’s “The American Soldier” World War II  research (1) – found self-reported reliance on prayer rose from 42% to 72% as that battle got more intense.
“The question is whether that reliance on faith lasts over time,” said Craig Wansink, author and Professor of Religion at Virginia Wesleyan College, who did the analysis and co-wrote the paper with his brother Brian Wansink, food marketing expert and Professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. The World War II generation is a good one for analysis because the interest was religiosity long-term and young people in the 1940s were more religious overall than more recent generations.

A second analysis of survey results from 1,123 World War II veterans showed that 50 or more years after combat, most soldiers still exhibited religious behavior, though it varied by their war experience. Those facing heavy combat (versus no combat) attended church 21% more often if they claimed their war experience was negative, but those who claimed their experience was positive attended 26% less often.
The more a veteran disliked the war, the more religious they were 50 years later.  Continue Reading

9

Senator Durbin, Bloggers and the First Amendment

 

One of the worst senators in the nation, Dick Durbin (D.Ill.), wonders whether the First Amendment covers bloggers in the above video.  I can understand why Durbin brings this up.  First, because Durbin is a Democrat hack.  Originally elected to Congress from the congressional district including Springfield, Illinois, Durbin ran as a pro-lifer, defeating pro-abort Republican Congressman Paul Findley.  Realizing that a pro-life Democrat was going nowhere in Congress, he switched to being a pro-abort and now has a 100% rating from NARAL and a 0% rating from National Right to Life.  That he is a Catholic is of course of no consequence to him in regard to his politically expedient choice of embracing abortion uber alles.  Durbin is a down the line liberal and most contemporary liberals and Democrats hate and fear the new media that does not give them lock step subservience as does most of the mainstream media.

Second, Durbin, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, must obviously be a rotten attorney as the issue of the extent of First Amendment Freedom of the Press was long ago decided by the Supreme Court in Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938).  In that case, for a unanimous court, except for Benjamin Cardozo who recused himself, Chief Justice Hughes wrote: Continue Reading

29

Lawrence Charles McClarey: A Remembrance

LarryMcClarey2012

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away.   Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Job 1:21

To those who did not know Larry well, it might be assumed that he was dealt a pretty poor set of cards in this life.  Autistic, afflicted with seizures in his later years, and a brief life of 21 and three-quarter years.  However, to those of us who had the great privilege of knowing Larry well, he was blessed with many gifts, just as his life was a blessing to us.

1.  At his birth he was blessed with a twin brother, Donnie, who all Larry’s life would be his constant companion:  playing with him, and caring for him and guarding him from harm.

2.  He was blessed with two parents who loved him more than mere words can possibly convey.

3.  He was blessed with a beloved baby sister, a loving grandmother and grandfather and a cherished godmother, all of whom helped guide his steps.

4.  He was blessed with a wry sense of humor.  I will never forget the lopsided smile on his face as a toddler as he pretended to touch the computer printer paper roll because he knew that would always get a rise out of Mom and Dad.  His default expression was a smile.

5.  He was blessed with a joyful zest for life, from swinging on swings much higher than they were ever intended to go, to grooving to music he liked, swaying back and forth and rocking his head, to closing his eyes as he savored the big hamburgers he loved.  Life never grew stale or prosaic for Larry.

6.  He was blessed with a bold spirit.  At a year and a half he decided in May of 1993 that it would be a very good idea to walk to Renfrew Park without bothering to get permission from Mom or Dad!  In his later years he was fond of midnight strolls, once again without telling Mom or Dad!  One of my most cherished memories of Larry is him running ahead of the family like a gazelle, to Mass or to some other favorite destination. Life with Larry was an endless adventure, whether we wanted it to be or not! Continue Reading

1

Memorial Day: Why?

 

Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer. Not the answer that you and I should give to each other-not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth–but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.

 

So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble. The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperilled by their mutual endeavors. I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling. I know that I and those whom I knew best had not. We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every men with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief. The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed. You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south–each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other. As it was then , it is now. The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier’s death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side. Continue Reading

6

My Humble Thanks

LarryMcClarey2009

 

 

I can’t thank enough all of you who extended your kind wishes and prayers for the repose of the soul of my son Larry after his passing.  Last week was the hardest week of my life and in the lives of my wife and remaining two children.  We would have found it impossible to endure but for the assistance of friends and neighbors, and just plain good people who came forward to rally around my family in our hour of need.  There is much evil in the world, but I think there is more good, something I will attempt in future to keep in mind.

My thoughts of my boy will always remain with me as a treasured possession, and prayers for him and  requests for his intercession are now a permanent part of the prayer life of my wife and me.  Going through this terrible tragedy has only deepened my faith that we are children of a loving God and that in this vale of tears our ultimate  purpose is to love Him and our neighbor to the best of our ability.  My Larry is now with Him, the source of all love, and I am content. Continue Reading

2

The Holy Trinity

Today is Trinity Sunday. Msgr. Charles Pope offers a meditation the Feast of the Holy Trinity that explains it about as well as any resource I have ever seen.

There is an old Spiritual that says, My God is so high, you can’t over him, he’s so low, you can’t under him, he’s so wide you can’t round him, you must come in, by and through the Lamb.

 

Not a bad way of saying that God is other, He is beyond what human words can tell or describe, He is beyond what human thoughts can conjure. And on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity we do well to remember that we are pondering a mystery that cannot fit in our minds.

 

A mystery though, is not something wholly unknown. In the Christian tradition the word “mystery,” among other things, refers to something partially revealed, much more of which lies hid. Thus, as we ponder the teaching on the Trinity, there are some things we can know by revelation, but much more is beyond our reach or understanding.

 

Lets ponder the Trinity by exploring it, seeing how it is exhibited in Scripture, and how we, who are made in God’s image experience it.

As the saying goes, read the rest.

4

Mark Steyn on the Slaughter in Woolwich

I wish I had something cheerier to start the Memorial Day weekend, but Mark Steyn, as usual, knocks it out of the park with his weekend column.

This passivity set the tone for what followed. In London as in Boston, the politico-media class immediately lapsed into the pneumatic multiculti Tourette’s that seems to be a chronic side effect of excess diversity-celebrating: No Islam to see here, nothing to do with Islam, all these body parts in the street are a deplorable misinterpretation of Islam. The BBC’s Nick Robinson accidentally described the men as being “of Muslim appearance,” but quickly walked it back lest impressionable types get the idea that there’s anything “of Muslim appearance” about a guy waving a machete and saying “Allahu akbar.” A man is on TV dripping blood in front of a dead British soldier and swearing “by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” yet it’s the BBC reporter who’s apologizing for “causing offence.” To David Cameron, Drummer Rigby’s horrific end was “not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

 
How does he know? He doesn’t seem the most likely Koranic scholar. Appearing on David Letterman’s show a while back, Cameron was unable to translate into English the words “Magna Carta,” which has quite a bit to do with that “British way of life” he’s so keen on. But apparently it’s because he’s been up to his neck in suras and hadiths every night sweating for Sharia 101. So has Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner, Brian Paddick, who reassured us after the London Tube bombings that “Islam and terrorism don’t go together,” and the mayor of Toronto, David Miller, telling NPR listeners after 19 Muslims were arrested for plotting to behead the Canadian prime minister: “You know, in Islam, if you kill one person you kill everybody,” he said in a somewhat loose paraphrase of Koran 5:32 that manages to leave out some important loopholes. “It’s a very peaceful religion.”

 
That’s why it fits so harmoniously into famously peaceful societies like, say, Sweden. For the last week Stockholm has been ablaze every night with hundreds of burning cars set alight by “youths.” Any particular kind of “youth”? The Swedish prime minister declined to identify them any more precisely than as “hooligans.” But don’t worry: The “hooligans” and “youths” and men of no Muslim appearance whatsoever can never win because, as David Cameron ringingly declared, “they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, Western values.” Actually, they’ve already gone quite a way toward eroding free speech, as both prime ministers demonstrate. The short version of what happened in Woolwich is that two Muslims butchered a British soldier in the name of Islam and helpfully explained, “The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day.” But what do they know? They’re only Muslims, not Diversity Outreach Coordinators. So the BBC, in its so-called “Key Points,” declined to mention the “Allahu akbar” bit or the “I”-word at all: Allah who?

As always, be sure to read the rest.

Douglas Murray also has a must-read column on the subject.

Cheers.

20

Why Live In Tornado Alley?

Response to the devastating EF-5 tornado in Moore, Okla., which left 24 dead and more than 200 injured, has generally been compassionate. Thousands of ordinary Americans — including fellow survivors of natural disasters — are doing what they can to help.

In the fetid swamps of internet discourse, however, there are always those who use such disasters to advance their pet political or ideological agenda (e.g., climate change, government assistance, atheism vs. religion), or to question why the victims did, or failed to do, certain things that placed them in harm’s way.

Common questions asked after this tornado and others in recent years include why so many homes in the affected areas didn’t have basements, or why reinforced tornado shelters aren’t required for particularly vulnerable locations such as schools and mobile home parks.

These are legitimate questions, but the purpose of this post is not to discuss the merits of various tornado safety measures. Rather, it is to explore the implications of a broader question that is frequently asked after these events — “Why would anyone live in Tornado Alley?” Continue Reading

13

Like Most of America, Catholics Heading South

Not even a month after moving down to Atlanta to start college I was asked to attend a wedding in eastern Alabama near the Georgia/Alabama border. As I piled into my friend’s sisters’ car, I explained that I was an Italian Catholic from New York City.

“Oh boy,” was the immediate response.

So naturally I spent the rest of the trip before the weeding envisioning some gentle folks in white hoods rounding me up and stoning me.

Despite my wildest fears, the most abusive thing said to me that weekend was “Yeeeewww taaalk kinda fuh-neee.” Otherwise a weekend in rural Alabama made me realize that the good folks down south, who seemed so alien to me, weren’t so bad after all.

*For the record, I guess I do talk kinda funny, what, with a lifetime of sipping cawfee on Lawn-guy-lund. 

That being said, it still took some getting used to being in an environment where practically everyone I knew wasn’t Catholic. Even though I spent the formative years of my life in the nation’s largest city, surrounded by a multitude of people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, all but a handful of my friends were Catholic. And living in a borough (Queens) where it seemed there was a Roman Catholic Church on every corner, it was difficult to conceive I could ever live in a location where I would be a distinct minority.

That was nearly twenty years ago, and though things were already changing down south, it’s still impressive to read these kind of reports.

The story of St. Dominic’s Monastery’s southern move may be the story of U.S. Catholicism. New data shows that some of the fastest-growing dioceses in the country are deep in the U.S. South.

The third-fastest-developing diocese is Atlanta, which saw the number of registered parishioners explode from nearly 322,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2012 — an increase of more than twofold, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Atlanta also has the largest Eucharistic Congress in the country, with an annual attendance of about 30,000, according to an archdiocesan official.

Atlanta is not alone. Charleston, S.C., has seen a 50% increase in parishioners over the last decade. Charlotte, N.C., grew by a third, as did Little Rock, Ark. The Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., established just 25 years ago, is now the 25th-fastest- growing diocese in the nation — and would rank near the top if those official figures counted as many as 60,000 unregistered Hispanic congregants, according to a diocesan official.

Dioceses like Knoxville stand in stark contrast to former Catholic strongholds like Boston and Philadelphia, where parish consolidations, school closures and dwindling priests are the norm.

“Instead of us closing parishes and closing schools, we’re doing the opposite. We’re in total growth mode,” said Deacon Sean Smith, chancellor for the Diocese of Knoxville.

This growth is very visible when I visit my Godchildren’s parish in suburban Atlanta and other parts south as well. These parishes are literally teeming with vibrant young communities, and it’s very heartening. Not every aspect of southern Catholicsm is exactly to my taste – Church in the round is a common feather of suburban parishes – but I won’t nitpick too much. I would also agree that the insularity of northern parishes is a stark contrast to the ever-increasing Catholic south.

There’s more at the link on the changing landscape, and it’s definitely worth a read.

25

A saint at work in the world…

 

Theological debate tends to divide, as each side in the intellectual debate attempts to prevail with its cherished argument being stamped as “Orthodox.”

In this regard, the Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote something to this effect: “The orthodox in one generation had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the heterodox.  And, the heterodox in one generation also had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the orthodox.”

Thomas Aquinas comes to mind.

Seemingly unaffected by this important debate, the saints continue living the Gospel, even today.

Marielle Wakim, an editor at Los Angeles Magazine, forwarded to me a feature article appearing in its May 2013 edition concerning one of these saints among us.  Reading the article, I thought of Pelikan’s admonition.

From the profile aired years ago on 60 Minutes, readers of The American Catholic may be familiar with “G Dog,” “Father G,” “G,” or to those who’ve met him more recently, “Pops.”   He’s Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, which he launched 25 years ago in Los Angeles and has built into the world’s most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program.

Fr. G

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ
Founder, Homeboy Industries

“G” exemplifies a man on a mission—a saint—who has accomplished with real human beings what no government agency could ever accomplish.

A man of prayer, “G” rises each morning at 4:30 in his room at a Jesuit-owned Craftsman bungalow in East L.A. for one hour of prayer and meditation.  Yes, during the day “G” may drop the “F-bomb” in contentious situations and, yes, “G” enjoys single malt (Laphroaig).  On weekends, “G” celebrates Mass and counsels detainees at youth probation camps, performs baptisms, weddings, and quinceañeras, and answers ex-gang members’ distress calls. Thursday is supposed to be “G’s” day off, but spending at least 100 days each year away from Homeboys on speaking tours, forget that.

One of those whose life has been changed by meeting “G” is Mario Cisneros, who said:

I was running around, back and forth to jail, and I got shot in the stomach and still I’m not stopping—not asking myself “What’s wrong with this picture?” Finally my little brother, 15 years old, gets shot—they killed him. “Is this the time?” I said no, and I kept going and the gangs were at war, back and forth, back and forth. Little by little we’re just decreasing the population of our neighborhoods. And then finally I got tired of it. God’s giving me these passes, and I better take advantage of them….So I walk through the doors of Homeboy Industries and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s the best place I’ve ever been. You can feel the love whenever you walk in. When Father G walks up to me and says, “You ready?” I’m ready.

Once a high-level drug dealer with a gang, Hector Verguo—a Protestant who now takes the seat behind the Executive Director’s desk when “G” travels, told his fiancée that Homeboy would always come first for him:

Since I’ve been at Homeboy, I got to see God at work.  You see miracles happen here, like a miracle factory.  And when you see it happen in front of you, you know that this is supernatural—this is God.

While “G” has been eminently successful in building Homeboy into an enterprise that rehabilitates gang members, addicts, and the like by giving hope who believe themselves to be hopeless, this “saint” isn’t the best of mendicants.  Perhaps that’s why Marielle Wakim forwarded the article to me…to generate some donations for Homeboys Industries.

Whatever.  It’s the Lord’s ongoing work of salvation and the May 2013 Los Angeles Magazine feature about “G” and his mission is inspiring, even if “G’s” theology might be “radical” or “heterodox,” depending upon which side of the debate one supports.

 

 

To read the Los Angeles Magazine’s article featuring “G,” click on the following link:
http://www.lamag.com/features/2013/05/21/saint-of-the-hood/page/1

14

Government Tyranny? Where Would We Get That Idea

Drew M who blogs at Ace of Spades put together this video compilation.

Of course you have to be some kind of paranoid loon to think that the ever-expanding size of  our government poses some kind of threat to the liberty of American citizens. I mean it’s not like the government is tapping not only the phones of reporters who dare question the regime, but those reporters’ parents as well.  Ummmmm . . .

Well, you know how it is. When a reporter misbehaves, an administration sometimes has to call his parents…or, just seize their phone logs.

Bret Baier revealed Tuesday that, according to Department of Justice documents, one of the numbers listed in DOJ’s demands “also relate to James’ parents’ home in Staten Island.” I can’t yet find a Fox follow-up story on the revelation, but the Staten Island area code, 718, shows up twice in DOJ’s filing in the Stephen Jin-Woo Kim case. The documents are posted here by the New Yorker.

There’s more video at the link, where you can also find this post from Kirsten Powers.

Turns out it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to “delegitimize” a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters. In between, the Obama administration found time to relentlessly persecute government whistleblowers and publicly harass and condemn a private American citizen for expressing his constitutionally protected speech in the form of an anti-Islam YouTube video.

Where were the media when all this began happening? With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.

As Powers goes on to elaborate, it’s not as though Obama and his team didn’t send out early warnings that media questioning of the One would not be  . . . appreciated.

“What I think is fair to say about Fox … is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. “[L]et’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.” On ABC’s “This Week” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Fox is “not really a news station.” It wasn’t just that Fox News was “not a news organization,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel told CNN’s John King, but, “more [important], is [to] not have the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led in following Fox, as if what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization …”

These series of “warnings” to the Fourth Estate were what you might expect to hear from some third-rate dictator, not from the senior staff of Hope and Change, Inc

Yet only one mainstream media reporter—Jake Tapper, then of ABC News—ever raised a serious objection to the White House’s egregious and chilling behavior. Tapper asked future MSNBC commentator and then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs: “[W]hy is [it] appropriate for the White House to say” that “thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a ‘news organization’?” The spokesman for the president of the United States was unrepentant, saying: “That’s our opinion.

Trashing reporters comes easy in Obama-land. Behind the scenes, Obama-centric Democratic operatives brand any reporter who questions the administration as a closet conservative, because what other explanation could there be for a reporter critically reporting on the government?

Now if you listen to certain doyens of the left, there is only one man to blame for the administration’s slippery behavior. That’s right, it all starts at the top, and the man who really is to blame for all of this misconduct is” Continue Reading

9

Will general satisfaction be fueled by propaganda into general disatisfaction?

 

Following the election of Pope Francis, many were asking “What do you think of the new Pope?”

Judging from the responses, there was general satisfaction with the election of the Argentinian pontiff.  His “humility” and “genuineness” seemed to top the list of reasons explaining this satisfaction.

welcome

Then came Holy Thursday and the foot washing.  The new Pope washed the feet of women, including Muslim women.

This action raised a few eyebrows, especially on the part of conservative Catholics.  “There were no female apostles,” was the standard response.

Questions were raised, too, especially on the part of the American catholique left.

“Was the Pope signaling ‘openness’ to new forms of ordained ministry, perhaps women deacons and priests?” those asking the question were wondering…and, truth be told, hoping.

holy thursday

Just as some conservatives correctly opined early into this new pontificate, that “signal” is now being taken as “fact” by some on the American catholique left.

According to a press release, Dr. Debra Meyers is to be “ordained” as Cincinnati’s first woman, Roman Catholic priest on May 25, 2013, at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church.  Dr. Meyers’ ordination follows upon the April 27, 2013, “ordination” of Dr. Rosemarie Smead in Louisville, KY.

arcwp

The press release states:

Women priests are leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women in the church. We are the “Rosa Parks” of the Roman Catholic Church….Since two-thirds of the world’s poor are women, justice and equality must be top priorities for our church. Our world and church can no longer function without the voices of women’s lived experience. Women priests are visible reminders that all women are images of God.

Okay.  That’s what the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) thinks.  That’s nothing new.

But, the press statement offers two “signals” indicating that Pope Francis has encouraged their extra-ecclesial conduct:

The first signal: “We are encouraged by the tender gesture of Pope Francis who washed the feet of women in prison on Holy Thursday, thus breaking the sexist tradition of washing only men’s feet.”

The second signal: “During the Easter homily Francis affirmed women as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. ‘This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria….The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves.’”

The important point is not that ARCWP types are “cutting” and “pasting” snippets of the Holy Father’s actions and statements into statements to indicate his support of their erroneous beliefs.  That’s bad enough.  The important point is that those actions and statements lend themselves to this type of propaganda.

In response, some have opined that Pope Francis is “learning how to be Pope.”  People should calm down and expect some bumps as the neophyte pontiff navigates that learning curve.

Perhaps there’s some merit to that opinion.

That said, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know that greater savvy is required on the international stage.  Might it not be better, especially at the beginning and early months (or first year) of a pontificate, for the Pope just to “do the red” and “say the black” until he’s clearer about his responsibilities as well as the scope and impact of the exercise of those responsibilities as the Chief Shepherd?

Yes, the American catholique left would get angry with him.  But, they’d argue, he’s been a Vaticanista apparatchik all along.  He wasn’t created a cardinal advocating for women’s ordination or anything else on their agenda.

ecumenical

When the Pope’s opponents on the American catholique left see the Holy Father betraying his “social justice” roots, they won’t just be angry.  No, that won’t express sufficiently the depth of their outrage, and perhaps that of the 70% of American Catholics who allegedly support the ordination of women.

That potentially could fuel even greater resistance than there is at present among a much broader swath of the Catholic populace in the United States than if the Holy Father had simply let the American catholique left portray him as a Vaticanista apparatchik.  Amidst their griping, complaining, and moaning, he would be steering the ship of Holy Mother Church directly toward the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 

 

To read the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests press release, click on the following link:
http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.it/2013/05/is-cincinnati-enquirer-afraid-of.html?utm_source=feedly&m=1

3

Devastating Tornado in Oklahoma

This is truly horrifying. Please pray for all those in Moore, Oklahoma.

A mile-wide tornado with 200mph winds churned through Oklahoma City’s suburbs Monday afternoon, causing significant property damage for the second day in a row, as part of a severe weather outbreak that was expected to spread in other parts of the Plains and Midwest.

Television footage on Monday afternoon showed homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble in Moore, Okla., south of Oklahoma City. Footage also showed vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.

Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department said an elementary school in Moore suffered “extensive damage.” A Norman, Okla. regional health system spokesperson told Fox News that Moore Medical Center, the only hospital in the city, also suffered “extensive structural damage,” demolishing the second floor of the hospital and tearing off part of the roof.

Words do not do the devastation justice.

Update: This will give you some idea of the damage.

As of this writing there are six confirmed dead.

9

An Act of Heroism or A Petty Crime?

Last week Kevin Williamson did something I have often dreamed of doing, although to people talking or texting on cell phones while driving and not in a movie theater.

The show was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was quite good and which I recommend. The audience, on the other hand, was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves. It was bad enough that I seriously considered leaving during the intermission, something I’ve not done before. The main offenders were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical. But my date spoke with the theater management during the intermission, and they apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied.

It was not. The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.

So I minded my own business by utilizing my famously feline agility to deftly snatch the phone out of her hand and toss it across the room, where it would do no more damage. She slapped me and stormed away to seek managerial succor. Eventually, I was visited by a black-suited agent of order, who asked whether he might have a word.

The reaction has been fascinating. While a great many have applauded Williamson for his bit of cell phone vigilantism, others have been far less sympathetic and indeed think he should be brought up on charges. Personally, I called him a hero on facebook.

But is he really a hero? Technically this was destruction of personal property. While the woman was certainly rude, lack of social grace does not negate the right to property.

On one level, it’s difficult to disregard that Williamson did act in an almost (or maybe not even almost) illegal fashion, and he himself was guilty of causing a disturbance. At the same time, the absolute lack of proper etiquette is becoming a growing concern in modern society. My wife and I rarely attend movies largely due to the fact that we have small children and babysitting is expensive. Yet were it not for the children we still would likely have cut back on our movie-going as it had become something of a tedium. I vividly recall attending the third installment of the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. The sheer awfulness of the film was compounded by the sheer awfulness of the crowd attending, largely populated by shrieking girls gawking at Orlando Bloom. Cell phone abuse was hardly the biggest issue with this crowd.

All the same, the reason that so many view Williamsom with admiration is that he confronted rudeness head-on. Instead of bellyaching later in a blogpost about the obnoxious woman sitting next to him, he actually did something about it. Though the action itself is of dubious ethical value, it was an action, and in world of words any actions taken to tackle social problems seem much more meritorious.

There are obvious concerns with Williamson’s actions being replicated on a larger scale, so we should probably not completely encourage such behavior. That being said, I have a difficult time not applauding Williamson for doing what so many of us have yearned to do.

133

Lawrence Charles McClarey: Requiescat In Pace

 

Larry McClarey

 

My beloved son, Lawrence Charles McClarey, passed away of a seizure last night.  I found him this morning at 6:15 AM when I attempted to rouse him for the “Daddy Readings” that he and I had done daily since he was a small boy.  Larry had autism, an infectious smile, and was a continual joy to all who knew him.  Once he attained puberty he began having seizures, not uncommon in autism, and I gave him seizure medication daily.  He lived for 21 years on this earth and he was the light of this world for myself and his mother, my bride.  On this dark day I am comforted by the knowledge that even now he is beholding the Beatific Vision.  He lived in love and now he will stand forever before Love Incarnate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul.  I will resume blogging sometime after Memorial Day.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

2

Pentecost: Why Was the Holy Spirit Sent?

 

 

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his sermon on Pentecost, explains why the Holy Spirit was sent to us:

I say, first, the Holy Spirit is sent without His needing to be sent. When someone is sent to a place so that an event may happen which could not happen unless he were sent, this would be a sending out of necessity. But this has no place in the sending of the Holy Spirit, whom the Book of Wisdom describes as “having every power, beholding all things” (Wis. 7:23).  What, then, is the reason for the sending of the Holy Spirit? Our neediness; and the necessity of this neediness of ours comes partly from human nature’s dignity, and partly from its deficiency. For the rational creature excels other creatures because it can actually reach the enjoyment of God, which no other earthly creature can do. “The Lord is my portion, said my soul” (Lam. 3:24). Some seek their portion in this world, such as those who seek worldly honor or dignity. But the Psalmist says: “It is good for me to cling to God” (Ps. 72:28).   You should consider that all things that are moved to some end must have something moving them toward that end. Those that are moved to a natural end have a mover in nature; but those that are moved to a supernatural end, namely to the enjoyment of God, must have a supernatural mover. Now, nothing can lead us to our end unless two things are presupposed, for someone is led to an end by two things—knowledge and love. The kind of knowledge in question is supernatural: “No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it arisen in the heart of man, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). “Never have they heard, nor perceived with ears, nor has eye seen, O God, without Thee, what Thou hast prepared for those who await Thee” (Is. 64:4).  Now, whatever a man knows, he knows either by discovering it himself or by learning from another. Vision serves discovery and hearing serves learning, and for this reason it is said that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” showing that it [the final end] altogether transcends human knowledge. It exceeds human desire, too, and that is why Scripture says: “nor hath it arisen in the heart of man.” How, then, is man led to know it? It was necessary for heavenly secrets to be made known to men; it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to be invisibly sent, in order to move man’s affections so that he may tend toward that end. And thus it says: “Eye hath not seen.” How, then, do we know? “God hath revealed it to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit examineth all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). “Who would be able to know Thy thought [sensum], unless Thou gavest wisdom and sent the Holy Spirit from the Most High?” (Wis. 9:17).  Therefore the Holy Spirit is sent not owing to any need of His, but for the sake of our benefit. Continue Reading

1

May 19, 1863: First Assault at Vicksburg

First Assault at Vicksburg

 

After his successes at Jackson, Champion Hill and Big Black River, Grant assumed that Confederate morale might be low enough that Vicksburg could be taken by assault and avoid a time consuming siege.  In that he was mistaken.  The Confederates lacked the strength to defeat him in open battle. but they had both the strength, and the morale, to hold Vicksburg.  The first assault by Grant occurred on May 19, 1863 and was aimed at the Stockade Redan. Continue Reading

5

IRS Scandal: A Warning

 

 

 

Hattip to CDR M at Ace of Spades.  Once you have governments using their resources against political adversaries the results can be dire indeed.  From the proprietor of the blog War News Update:

I know that this news story is not a defense/war/conflict post …. but many are asking for my opinion …. and so here it is.

While Benghazi is important because 4 Americans died …. and the American people have a right to know
what happen
even though many in Washington and the White House are trying their best to close the book …. it is the IRS scandal that is catching my attention. Even the New York Times is now acknowledging that the White House was aware that the IRS was targeting conservatives back in June 2012 …. but choose

to do nothing about it. As to acting IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller’s testimony today …. it is obvious that he knew what was happening …. but did not care.

I am not an American …. just a Russian national who is now a Canadian citizen looking from the outside in …. and I am just shaking my head. There is something terribly wrong in the U.S. right now …. when the IRS has been politicized to go after a specific political group, it does not take a ‘political scientist and historian’ to know that you are entering a very dark place …. and being one who grew up in such a place (the former Soviet Union) …. trust me on this one …. it is a place that you do not want to find yourself living in.

Politcal scandals come and go, but I think one reason the IRS scandal will resonate is the reaction of some of the left to it.  They have no problem with the IRS discriminating against conservative groups.  Some comments from a Ross Douthat column on the scandal:

 

For the life of me, I do not understand why there was a need for an apology from the IRS. These unpatriotic entities that have all but declared war on the U.S. government, threatened to secede from the union and made not-so-veiled threats against the president of these United States, deserve hyper-scrutiny. The very least that the government should do is scrutinize the taxes of such organizations to make sure their funds aren’t being used to stockpile munitions to overthrown a duly-elected government.

8

IRS Scandal: When You Have Lost Piers Morgan…

 

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Let’s see, it was only back in January that Piers Morgan, Brit and obnoxious CNN talking head, pooh-poohed the idea that America could ever have a tyrannical government.  Go here to read my comment at that time.  In the above video, in which he is talking to my favorite atheist, go here to see why I give Penn Jillette that title, he confesses that what was done with the IRS “borders” on tyranny.

Of course the IRS Scandal would not have surprised the Founding Fathers.  They realized that govenment is necessary among men.  As James Madison noted in Federalist 51:  But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  However, the Founding Fathers also realized that government was no abstraction, but also an institution made up of men and not angels.  That is why Madison in Federalist 51 went on to write:  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.  And so the Founding Fathers framed a Constitution designed to minimize the possibility of government tyranny They built wisely, but they did not delude themselves.  The ultimate safeguard for American liberty had to rest in the American people.

That is why Benjamin Franklin, after a lady asked him as he left Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention what form of government the country was to have, told her, “A Republic madam, if you can keep it.”, placing the responsibility for the preservation of the Republic on each individual American. Continue Reading

Her Southern Soldier Boy

The gentlemen killed and the gentlemen died,

But she was the South’s incarnate pride

That mended the broken gentlemen

And sent them out to the war again,

That kept the house with the men away

And baked the bricks where there was no clay,

Made courage from terror and bread from bran

And propped the South on a swansdown fan

Through four long years of ruin and stress,

The pride–and the deadly bitterness.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Something for the weekend.  Written in 1863 by Captain G. W. Alexander, The Southern Soldier Boy is a fitting tribute to the ragged warriors of the Confederacy who maintained an unequal struggle for four years and the women who loved and sustained them.  During the War it was popularized by actress Sally Partington, the toast of Richmond, who would sing the song as part of the play The Virginia Cavalier.  The above version is by Bobby Horton, who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences. Continue Reading

36

IRS Scandal: You Are Going to Love Obamacare!

 

 

This is almost getting farcial.  The IRS bureaucrat in charge of the tax exempt division of the IRS during the persecution of conservative groups is now the head of ObamaCare enforcement for the IRS.

Sarah Ingram

 

The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.

Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted to the revelation in a brief statement late Thursday.

“Stunning, just stunning,” McConnell, R-Ky. stated. Continue Reading

2

IRS Scandal: Enforcer for Planned Parenthood

Al Capone IRS

We’ll  try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because, as citizens, we feel a strong  patriotic duty not to go to jail.
Dave Barry

Ronald Reagan used to say that in his neighborhood the IRS was regarded as a terrorist organization.  I think a more apt current description of it is as an enforcer for various political entities including Worse Than Murder, Inc:

Similarly, the nonprofit Thomas More Society is now alleging that the IRS withheld approval for tax-exempt status from two pro-life organizations because of their demonstrations against abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved…

In another similar case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events. The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.

Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker calls the IRS authority in these cases is “disturbing.” Continue Reading

15

Back When We Had a Real President

The speech in the video is a section of Reagan’s Time For Choosing speech in 1964 that led to the beginning of his political career which culminated 16 years later in him being elected president.  Reagan said of the Marines:

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

This is what we are saddled with today:

Obama Marine

17

Obama as the Devil’s Advocate

The Devil's Advocate

“What manner of men had lived in those days…who had so eagerly surrendered their sovereignty for a lie and a delusion?  Why had they been so anxious to believe that the government could solve problems for them which had been pridefully solved, many times over, by their fathers?  Had their characters become so weak and debased, so craven and emasculated, that offers of government dole had become more important than their liberty and their humanity?  Had they not know that power delegated to the government becomes the club of tyrants?  They must have known.  They  had their own history to remember, and the history of five thousand years.  Yet, they had willingly and knowingly, with all this knowledge, declared themselves unfit to manage their own affairs and had placed their lives, which belonged to God only, in the hands of sinister men who had long plotted to enslave them, by wars, by “directives,” by “emergencies.”  In the name of the American people, the American people had been made captive.” 

Taylor Caldwell, The Devil’s Advocate

Back in my mispent youth I read quite a bit more fiction than I do currently.  (Lack of time and much greater access to more non-fiction works are probably the two chief factors in my changed reading habits.)  I read several of the novels of Taylor Caldwell.  She was a competent novelist, I can’t praise her novel about Cicero, Pillar of Iron, too highly, and she wrote from a distinct point of view.  Her point of view was that freedom was a rare commodity in human history and that it perished quickly.  I could call her a conservative, but that would be a bit weak in describing her.  She wrote pieces for the John Birch Society for a time, but she probably regarded them as too timid in standing up for the liberty she treasured above all.  She shared with them a conspiratorial view of the world, and her novels usually depict sinister behind the scenes forces plotting the end of freedom.  However, even paranoids can have real people out to get them, and Caldwell was usually correct in her novels in her description of the desire of so many to escape from the need to make decisions on their own, and to leave everything up to a supposedly benevolent ruler, even though all of human history argues against the reality of such a pleasing fantasy.

In her 1952 novel, The Devil’s Advocate, Caldwell envisions an America where freedom is only a faint memory.  America has long been ruled by a leftist military dictatorship.  The Republican party has been outlawed and even mentioning the Old Constitution is a criminal offense.  The protagonist of the novel is Andrew Durant, an official of the leftist government, but also a secret lover of the Old Constitution.  He and other patriots within the government hit upon the plan of increasing repression until they trigger a revolution to reestablish American freedom.  The rebellion succeeds and Durant is killed in it, his fate in history is to be damned as an official of the toppled regime, his role in the reestablishment of liberty dying with him.

Now let us consider the impossible.  Let us think that Barack Obama is cast in the same mold.  Secretly repulsed by the way in which the American people have been ceding liberty for security for generations he embarks upon a plan to become president and to implement a regime so oppressive that it will trigger a reaction that will safeguard traditional American freedom for generations to come.  He is dismayed by how long the process is taking, and therefore he continually ups the ante:

Well, if sending a trillion dollars down a rat hole won’t do it, surely ObamaCare will do it.  Obamacare didn’t so it is time to attack religious liberty through the HHS Mandate.  Even that wasn’t enough so time to let good men die in Benghazi and lie about it.  Still not enough?  Time to move against guns.  Still no reaction?  Roll out the IRS. Continue Reading

13

IRS Scandal: Billy Graham

Billy Graham and the Pope

 

 

Among non-Catholic Christian leaders, there is none that I respect more than Billy Graham.  My sainted mother, and if there was ever a woman more Catholic than the pope it was she, used to watch his crusades on television back in the Sixties.  To me, he has always been a voice crying out in a dark world for Christ.  Lacking the True Faith, he has still been a force for good in this world.  Now retired from day to day management of his organization, he still commands near universal respect in this country.  It therefore takes a special type of stupid to want to pick a fight with him.  That is the cue for the minions of the IRS under the current administration.

In a Tuesday (May 14) letter to President Obama, Graham said the two organizations he leads were notified last September that the IRS would review their records for the 2010 tax year.

The IRS inquiry, he noted, occurred months after the BGEA ran ads in April 2012 supporting a North Carolina amendment that banned same-sex marriage, which passed in May. The BGEA also ran ads last fall urging voters to consider candidates who make decisions based on “biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.”

Graham noted that the ads were bought with designated funds given by ministry donors for that purpose.

Go here to Religion News Service to read the rest.  Here is the text of the letter of Franklin Graham:

Continue Reading

1

IRS Scandal: The Chicago Way

 

One of the interesting things about the IRS scandal is how obvious and ham-fisted the bias against conservative groups was:

 

In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.

That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.

In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.

As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups. They included:

• Bus for Progress, a New Jersey non-profit that uses a red, white and blue bus to “drive the progressive change.” According to its website, its mission includes “support (for) progressive politicians with the courage to serve the people’s interests and make tough choices.” It got an IRS approval as a social welfare group in April 2011.

• Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment says it fights against corporate welfare and for increasing the minimum wage. “It would be fair to say we’re on the progressive end of the spectrum,” said executive director Jeff Ordower. He said the group got tax-exempt status in September 2011 in just nine months after “a pretty simple, straightforward process.”

 

• Progress Florida, granted tax-exempt status in January 2011, is lobbying the Florida Legislature to expand Medicaid under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. The group did not return phone calls. “We’re busy fighting to build a more progressive Florida and cannot take your call right now,” the group’s voice mail said.

Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.” Continue Reading

7

A Public Service Announcement From The American Catholic

 

 

Attention, attention!  All IRS employees who gave “special” attention to conservative groups at the behest of your politicial masters.  You are being thrown under the bus!  I repeat, you are being thrown under the bus!

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

Holder’s announcement came about four hours before an inspector general’s report on the IRS portrayed the tax agency as plagued by disarray and “insufficient oversight” during its struggles to review the cases of hundreds of advocacy groups that claimed they should be tax exempt.

The audit, which drew some backlash from IRS officials, also underscored what the agency had acknowledged last Friday: that the IRS had used “inappropriate criteria” for evaluating tax-exempt groups, in part by singling out scores of conservative Tea Party and “Patriot” organizations for increased scrutiny Continue Reading

3

Michael Coren: Why Catholics Are Right

The things you find on the internet.  Michael Coren is a figure in Canadian journalism and television.  The best way to tag him is as a political journalist and humorist.  Above all, he is a Catholic.  He converted in 2004, and his Catholicism is the most important thing in the world to him, as one can judge by his 2011 book Why Catholics are Right.  The video above is a fascinating interview of a man who obviously treasures the Church above all.  We need much more of that spirit.  Here is a video of Coren interviewing Lila Rose in 2012: Continue Reading

5

Gosnell’s Pro-Life Last Choice

I remember watching the movie Glory, a story from the American Civil War based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who was the commanding officer of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men.

Shaw insisted that the men were worthy of being deployed for combat, and volunteered the 54th infantry to lead an assault on Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. He led the men in an initial, noble charge upon the fort. Facing certain death he rallied the men onward.

Colonel Shaw was killed, along with 29 of his men; 24 more later died of wounds; 15 were captured; 52 were missing in action and never accounted for; and 149 were wounded. Although Union forces failed to take and hold the fort, the 54th became known for its courage during battle, encouraging further enlistment of African-American troops. President Abraham Lincoln noted that the bravery of these men helped secure the final victory.

They gave their lives. But for what? At the end of the movie all you see are dead men being thrown in a grave like garbage. It seems so senseless, so vain, so unnecessary. But it did change things. Continue Reading

9

Gosnell Trades Appeal Rights for Two Life Sentences

 

 

Like most butchers of humans Kermit Gosnell is a coward.  Today he exchanged his appeal rights for two life sentences.  The death penalty is off the table for a man who doubtless is one of the great mass killers, by his own hand, of all time.   Doubtless he would have probably died considering his age before a death penalty could have been carried out, but I wish that this squalid murderer had paid the ultimate penalty.  A thousand of his worthless lives would not be worth one of the innocent lives he routinely snuffed out for cold cash.  My consolation is that one day he will face a tribunal where no plea deals are ever made.  Would that his victims could have been sentenced to life.  Continue Reading

34

IRS Scandal: Pro-life Groups Were Targets

IRS Scandal

 

On any enemies list compiled by the Obama administration, no doubt pro-lifers would be near the top.  Illinois Review reveals today that pro-life groups were targeted by the IRS:

Were pro-life groups also a target of the staunchly pro-abortion Obama Administration?

Chicago’s Thomas More Society reported first dealing with IRS concerns from pro-life groups as early as 2009.

When the Coalition for Life of Iowa sought tax exemption status in 2009, the IRS sought details about the content of members’ prayers at a Planned Parenthood facility. They also demanded that the group refrain both from activities that could be construed as protesting or picketing by police, and to cease activities that could be seen as confrontational or harassing by abortion-seeking clients.

Thomas More Society said the IRS insisted that “every member of the board of directors of the Coalition sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that they will not picket or protest or organize others to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood.” 

Soon after the unprecedented demands were made, the Chicago-based public interest law firm made the legal challenge on behalf of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based group. Shortly thereafter, the IRS backed off and the group was granted 501(c)3 status.

“The IRS must operate within the constraints of law, and it cannot condition the grant of tax exempt status on the forfeiture or surrender of First Amendment rights on the part of any non-profit group or individual American citizens,” Thomas More Society’s attorney Thomas Brejcha commented in a 2009 press release.

But again two years later, Thomas More Society issued a letter to the IRS on behalf of a group called Christian Voices for Life. The IRS made repeated requests for information about the viewpoint and content of the group’s communications, prayer vigils, and other activities, violating the group’s First Amendment rights. Continue Reading

1

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Samuel Adams

Sam Adams

 

 

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have receiv’d them as a fair Inheritance from our worthy Ancestors: They purchas’d them for us with toil and danger and expence of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. Of the latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeath’d to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. — Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.” It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.

The second appearance of that most fiery of the Founding Fathers in this series, Sam Adams.  His words written in 1771 could just have easily come from a blog today.

2

American Gothic and Ma and Pa Kent

A first-rate video on Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930).  One of the more famous pictures at the Art Institute in Chicago, I have long admired it.  Endlessly interpreted, the  picture lends itself to a Rorschach  type of test where what the viewer says about the painting says more about the interpreter than it does about the painting.

Whenever I look at it, I have always thought of Jonathan and Martha Kent, the fictional foster parents of Superman.  The date of the painting would have been when the future Superman would have been around 11 based on his original chronology.  The Kents would have been desperate to keep their beloved son, just beginning the mastery of his awesome powers, away from the notice of the World.  The figures in the painting seem to me to be keeping a great secret.  They look suspiciously at the viewer.  The shades on their house are drawn.  The averageness of the couple is belied by their desire to keep prying eyes away from that house.  At the same time there is nothing that gives any hint of evil about the man and woman.  They simply have something great that has been placed into their care and they wish to protect it from outsiders.

The association of the painting with the Superman saga is not original to me.  In Superman The Animated Series Mr. Mxyzptlk, the imp from another dimension who periodically torments Superman, turns Ma and Pa Kent into a facsimile of the painting.

One can imagine the encounter that led to the painting.

From the diary of Jonathan Kent: Continue Reading

10

Richard Milhous Obama

Richard Milhous Obama

Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.

Richard Milhous Nixon

With the IRS scandal and the revelation that the current administration has been secretly obtaining phone records of the press, the Obama administration is taking on a distinctly Nixonian flavor, as I experience a feeling of  deja vu from four decades ago.  I am not the only one seeing it.  So does a liberal Democrat Congressman from Massachusetts:

US Representative Michael E. Capuano on Monday said he was troubled by reports that the Internal Revenue Service had aggressively pursued conservative organizations, and called them reminiscient of the Nixon administration.

On the growing focus in Congress on the attacks on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya last year, Capuano said the death of four Americans there raised “legitimate questions.” But he said, based on the information available, he expected the issue to end up becoming “the typical right-left type of nonsense you see on one station, but eventually falls off the others.”

He said the recent reports that IRS targeted small-government groups for extra scrutiny were  in a different category. Asked to discuss the reports, Capuano said that if the accounts were true, “There’s no way in the world, I’m going to defend that. Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing.” Continue Reading

3

The IRS Scandal: The Hits Keep On Coming

 

It is hard to keep up on the IRS scandal as disclosure followed disclosure today, all damning to the IRS and the administration.  Here is the latest:

1.  Low Level Employees in Cincinnati Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea party-affiliated groups.

Go here to the Washington Post to read the rest.

2.  Confidentiality, What’s That?-The IRS released confidential applications of Tea Party groups to Pro Publica, a left wing thinktank.  How do we know this?  Pro Publica told us so today:

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted [1] conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year [2].

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six [2] of those [3] public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

Go here to Pro Publica to read the rest.

3.  Who Else Knew?-The current acting commissioner of the IRS knew in May of 2012 that Tea Party groups were being targeted.  How do we know this?  The IRS disclosed this today.  Gee, do you wonder why they didn’t disclose this last year?  Continue Reading

8

Saints of Otranto

Twelve years before Christopher Columbus discovered a New World, 800 men and boys of Otranto laid down their lives for Christ.  The city of Otranto, at the heel of the boot of Italy, was seized by the Turks under Gedik Ahmed Pasha, grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire.  Archbishop Stefano Argercolo de Pendinellis was murdered in his cathedral by the Turks and the garrison commander was sawn in half.  Following a massacre of most of the population the Turks offered some 800 men and boys the choice between conversion to Islam or death.  Led by an elderly tailor, Antonio Pezzulla, the men and boys chose death rather than apostacy, and were beheaded on the hill of Minvera outside the town on August 14, 1480, their families forced by the Turks to help in the executions.

Christian forces under  Alfonso of Aragon, a son of the King of Naples, retook the city in 1481, and the bodies of the martyrs were found to be uncorrupted.  The process of canonization was begun in 1529, the martyrs were beatified in 1771 and the martrys were canonized on May 12 by Pope Francis.  In his homily the Pope recalled Christians today who suffer persecution for their faith: Continue Reading

5

Gosnell Guilty!

 

The jury has returned verdicts of guilty on first degree murder charges against Kermit Gosnell in regard to three of four babies.  More details as I get them.

From DelawareOnline:

 

Dr. Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of three of four first-degree murder charges against him.

 

The jury also has found the abortion doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter and infanticide as well as 21 of 24 felonies for late-term abortions. He was acquitted on 16 charges that he didn’t wait the 24-hour period before performing an abortion.

 

Gosnell’s co-defendant, Eileen O’Neil, was found guilty of four charges.

 

The penalty phase for Gosnell, who also worked at a Wilmington clinic, starts Tuesday, when the jury will decide if he will be sentenced to death. Continue Reading

9

George Will: How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

Article Two, Section One of the Impeachment Articles Against Richard M. Nixon

As Obama begins his process of “twisting slowly, slowly in the wind” news is getting out on the Inspector General of the IRS’s report on the targeting of Tea Party groups and other conservative groups:

At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

The documents, obtained by The Washington Post  from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who  oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.

But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released. Continue Reading

Why the Ascension?

 

 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent explains why Christ ascended into Heaven:

 

 

First of all, He ascended because the glorious kingdom of the highest heavens, not the obscure abode of this earth, presented a suitable dwelling place for Him whose body, rising from the tomb, was clothed with the glory of immortality.

He ascended, however, not only to possess the throne of glory and the kingdom which He had merited by His blood, but also to attend to whatever regards our salvation.

Again, He ascended to prove thereby that His kingdom is not of this world. For the kingdoms of this world are earthly and transient, and are based upon wealth and the power of the flesh; but the kingdom of Christ is not, as the Jews expected, earthly, but spiritual and eternal. Its resources and riches, too, are spiritual, as He showed by placing His throne in the heavens, where they are counted richer and wealthier who seek most earnestly the things that are of God, according to these words of St. James: Hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him? Continue Reading

6

Saint Augustine: To the Mother of God

 

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world?  What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration.  Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses.  Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation.  May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted.  Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners.  Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward.  Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection.  Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers.  Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end.  Amen.

1

Ann Marie Jarvis, West Virginia and Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day in the US, a time when we honor those women who go through the pains of pregnancy to bring us all into this life.  It all began with a feisty West Virginia mom, Ann Marie Jarvis.  Born in 1832, Ann Marie Reeves was the daughter of a Methodist minister who in 1843 was transferred to Phillipi in what would become West Virginia.  In 1850 she married Granville Jarvis, the son of a Baptist minister.  Together they would have eleven children, although tragically only four lived to adulthood, a not uncommon occurrence in those days when modern medicine was in its infancy.

A born reformer, in 1858 Ann Marie Jarvis founded in Western Virginia, Mothers Work Clubs that worked to improve sanitation, health and to care for indigent families.  During the Civil War she proclaimed the neutrality of her clubs, and they aided Union and Confederate soldiers alike, providing nurses to them during outbreaks of camp diseases like typhoid fever and measles, the great killer of soldiers during the War.

After the war she helped organize Mother’s Friendship Day in West Virginia to help heal the divisions of the War.  During the celebrations Union and Confederate veterans would participate and the bands would play both The Star Spangled Banner and Dixie.

This remarkable woman continued her good works throughout her life and died in 1905.  She often expressed a desire for a  day to honor all mothers.  After her death her daughter carried out her wishes by celebrating the first Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia in 1907.  She headed a national campaign that culminated in President Wilson declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914.

The daughter of Ann Marie Jarvis,  Anna Marie Jarvis, grew to regret the commercialization of Mother’s Day.  She despised the habit of buying greeting cards for mothers as being a sign of people being too lazy to write a letter to their mothers. Continue Reading

1

Mother O’ Mine

Mother Love

 

If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
    I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

    If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

    If I were damned of body and soul,
    I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling

28

Low Level Employees of the IRS…Sure

If there is any doubt that we are dealing with gangsters at the helm of the nation, this story should remove that doubt:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said. Continue Reading