18

Ditto

 

 

 

 

Some of the best analysis of political issues on the net is contained at the site Baseball Crank.  The site owner loves baseball and has many posts about it.  I, to put it mildly, do not share this passion.  However, I do read each of his non-sports post with keen interest.  In regard to his perspective on the situation in Syria I found myself nodding repeatedly as I read it:

 

There are many good reasons to wish to be rid of the brutal Assad regime, long an Iranian proxy, sponsor of Hezbollah, supporter of the insurgency against the U.S. in Iraq, shelterer (and maybe backer) of culprits in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines, oppressor of Lebanon and assassin of its prime minister, enemy of Israel and perpetrator of serial massacres against its own people.  But it seems increasingly likely that the alternatives to Assad would be even worse, ranging from domination of Syria by Al Qaeda and its Sunni extremist allies to splintering into an anarchic failed state.  As it stands, the Syrian civil war is a proxy battle between Assad’s backers (Iran and Russia) and the backers of the rebel resistance (Saudi Arabia and Turkey).  It doesn’t need more combatants who intend to show up, lob in a bunch of missiles and leave without resolving anything, and for the U.S. to control the post-Assad situation to our advantage would require a huge and for many reasons infeasible commitment of ground troops.  We did that in Iraq in part so we would not have to do it again every time there was an opportunity to topple a dictator in the Greater Middle East – we can leave the locals to resolve these things themselves.  Recent experiences in Egypt and Libya show that the public in the region hungers for change and a greater voice in how their countries are governed, but hardly inspire confidence that the results will be less anti-American or more respectful of individual liberty.  The fact that Syria affects the interests of the U.S. and its allies does not mean that we currently have any options on the table that would advance those interests. Continue Reading

1

The Song of the Seabees

Construimus, Batuimus (We Build, We Fight)

Something for the weekend.  Judy Garland singing The Song of the Seabees seems appropriate for a Labor Day weekend.

At the outset of World War II, the Navy faced a task of unbelievable difficulty.  Around the globe, and especially in the Pacific, the Navy would be fighting in regions practically untouched by the modern world.  Everything to support military operations would have to be built from scratch:  bases, ports, airstrips, and an endless parade of other facilities.  The task was daunting, perhaps impossible.  However, the Navy had a secret weapon:  the American worker. Continue Reading

22

Various & Sundry, 8/30/13

Kevin William’s Modest Proposal

Kevin Williamson thinks Allison Benedikt is right – rich liberals have a moral obligation to send their kids to public school. And he has a way to make it fair.

People hold capital in the form that brings them the best returns, and for the modestly affluent professional class, your lawyers and high-school principals and such, holding capital in the form of a nice house in a neighborhood with good schools provides the maximum return. Ms. Benedikt, savvy social observer that she is, concedes that “rich people might cluster.” (Might?) That the main trend in socioeconomic migration over the last few centuries or so seems to have escaped her here is not my particular concern, but it should be pointed out that the enemies of private education generally fail to consider the extent to which that rich-guy clustering provides advantages beyond high-quality schools. The development of social and professional networks, prestige, learning high-status habits and manners, etc., all are enormously important perks associated with living among the well-to-do. (I believe it was WFB who observed that a sufficiently motivated student could get a Yale-quality education practically anywhere, but that’s not what Yale is for.) The difference between a summer job answering phones at your neighbor’s law firm and a summer job mowing grass (or, more common, no summer job at all) is considerable. Redistributing funds is not sufficient; we have to redistribute people.

What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes.

Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you

They didn’t transfer feasts to Sunday, that’s why.

That said, I wouldn’t volunteer to change places.

Good to see fascism is still alive in Germany

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”

Just Timberlake as the Riddler?

Couldn’t be any worse than the choice for the next Batman.

Ya Think?

A House panel says that Obama needs Congressional approval before attacking Syria. What, do they think this is a constitutional republic with clearly delineated lines of  authority?

Hot Summer Snark

Larry D announced the winner of the summer’s hottest contest.

28

Iowa Democrats Praying to Moloch for Abortion

 

First MOLOCH, horrid King besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents tears,
Though, for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud,
Their children’s cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim Idol. Him the AMMONITE
Worshipt in RABBA and her watry Plain,
In ARGOB and in BASAN, to the stream
Of utmost ARNON. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of SOLOMON he led by fraud to build
His Temple right against the Temple of God
On that opprobrious Hill, and made his Grove
The pleasant Vally of HINNOM, TOPHET thence
And black GEHENNA call’d, the Type of Hell.”

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As I have frequently said, the one non-negotiable right for most modern day Democrats is the right to kill their kids:

Iowa Democrat gubernatorial candidates Jack Hatch and Tyler Olson joined 50 pro-abortion activists in an extended prayer for abortion rights during a rally at the State Capitol on Wednesday. The noon event was meant to fire-up liberals prior to an afternoon hearing across the street conducted by the Iowa Board of Medicine regarding tele-med abortions.

They made the unusual decision, for Democrats, to begin the event with a prayer. This was likely in response to a prayer vigil being conducted by pro-life activists at the same time nearby.

Des Moines activist Midge Slater took the podium and spent five and a half minutes thanking God for abortion rights, abortion doctors and taxpayer funding for abortions. She also referred to the decision to have an abortion as “a blessing”.

During the entire prayer, State Senator Jack Hatch and Rep. Tyler Olson, both of whom are running for governor, kept their heads bowed and eyes closed, joining in the group prayer. Continue Reading

8

To Intervene or Not to Intervene, that is the Question

 

 

 

President Obama is deciding whether to intervene in Syria against the Assad regime.  I think any hesitation is for show, and the decision to intervene has been made.  Intervening in the Syrian Civil War is not popular, so I guess I should give Obama some credit for having a conviction he is willing to defy public opinion on.  What that conviction is, I am not quite certain.  The Assad regime is a revoltingly bloody tyranny even by Arab standards.  However, the main rebel factions are closely allied with groups like Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, with the Muslim Brotherhood backed factions being dominant.  In Egypt there are constant accusations by Egyptians, largely correct, that the administration has tilted in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, so perhaps that is the explanation for the desire of the administration to get involved in Syria.

My own opinion is that uttered by Henry Kissinger in regard to the Iraq-Iran war of the eighties:  a pity they both can’t lose.  I see no interest of the United States furthered by intervention, other than a mild setback to Iran which has become the main backer of the Assad regime, and I see no humanitarian benefit.  It is very troubling that Obama is not even making a pretense of gaining the approval of Congress.  It is richly ironic to see some of the harshest critics of President Bush and the war in Iraq, now rallying behind Obama’s Syrian adventure.

Neo-neocon at Legal Insurrection has a first rate parody of the to be or not to be soliloquy from Hamlet for Obama:

To strike, or not to strike: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Assad,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To attack: to dither
No more; and by attack to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That Syria is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To act, to attack;
To attack: perchance to depose: ay, there’s the rub;
For in its wake what next may come
Whether or not Assad shuffles off this worldwide stage,
Should give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of intervention;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of chemical war, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his mark make
With a bare missile? who would tyrants bear,
To defy the red lines that he drew?
But that the dread of something afterward,
The unknown consequences in whose grip
A legacy might founder, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? Continue Reading

4

Various & Sundry, 8/29/13

The Misery of Being Merely Upper Middle Class

Allison Lynn has written a book called The Exiles that just has to be satire. Sadly, it is not.

As it happens, the book is entirely serious about the dire fate of the merely wealthy, the most pressing social issue of our time. The Exiles is littered with references to how impoverished Emily and Nate are—“who cared if Nate was financially undesirable, as economically impaired as she was?” (Emily is an advertising executive before taking maternity leave and deciding not to go back, because she realizes that she has turned into “a potato chip marketer, pregnant by the only pauper on Wall Street.”)

When their Jeep Grand Cherokee—a six-year-old car they have to park in a discount lot in Manhattan, can you imagine!—is stolen with, tragically, Emily’s new pair of TOD’s loafers inside on their first day in Newport, the family’s lives spiral out of control. Without credit cards, they’re forced to live on room service and the mini-fridge of their three-star hotel. Now they are “officially the have-nots”—a status that Emily is terrified of, having grown up as the child of a professor and been forced to eat sandwiches made with generic peanut butter.

Throughout the book, the pair bemoans their minor misfortunes, like the fact that they had to purchase a used Bugaboo from their friends and “the shame they’d shared after the transaction.” Nate and Emily nickname the stroller Ollie, “for Oliver Twist, the haggard little orphan boy. Since then, whenever Emily saw an industrial Stokke on the street—a Norwegian import far more technical than even a new Bugaboo—she’d glance pleadingly at Nate and joke, in her best cockney accent, ‘Please, sir, may I have some more.’ ”

I’m A Bad, Bad Boy

Speaking of satire that isn’t but sure sounds like it, Donald has already written about the ridiculous Slate article implying that all of us who send our kids to private school are eeeeeeevil. Ken at Popehat has a great takedown of her idiocy. Jeff Goldstein has more.

Ten Reasons to Get Thee to a Confessional

Simcha Fisher lays out the reasons why you need to get to Confession.

I Resemble that Remark

Fr. Z on the same theme. The Holy Spirit has said the same thing to me as his reader.

North Korea Still Being Run by an Evil Tyrant

Isn’t it precious to see a son follow in his father’s footsteps.

Hyon Song-wol, a singer, rumoured to be a former lover of the North Korean leader, is said to have been arrested on Aug 17 with 11 others for violating laws against pornography.

The reports in South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper indicate that Hyon, a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, was among those arrested on August 17 for violating domestic laws on pornography.

All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea’s most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime’s assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated.

21

Ill-educated and Proud of it!

The-Stupid-It-Burns_27523-l

 

 

 

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Allison Benedikt is an editor at Slate.  Judging from the piece of tripe below I would say that whatever other factors are involved in the choice of editors by the powers that be at Slate, intelligence is obviously not an important one.

Ms. Benedikt thinks that parents have a moral duty to send kids to public schools, even if they are crummy.

 

 

You want the best for your child, but your child doesn’t need it. If you can afford private school (even if affording means scrimping and saving, or taking out loans), chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school. She will have support at home (that’s you!) and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior education—the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy. She may not learn as much or be as challenged, but take a deep breath and live with that. Oh, but she’s gifted? Well, then, she’ll really be fine.

I went K–12 to a terrible public school. My high school didn’t offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one book. There wasn’t even soccer. This is not a humblebrag! I left home woefully unprepared for college, and without that preparation, I left college without having learned much there either. You know all those important novels that everyone’s read? I haven’t. I know nothing about poetry, very little about art, and please don’t quiz me on the dates of the Civil War. I’m not proud of my ignorance. But guess what the horrible result is? I’m doing fine. I’m not saying it’s a good thing that I got a lame education. I’m saying that I survived it, and so will your child, who must endure having no AP calculus so that in 25 years there will be AP calculus for all.

6

Just Give Him a Gold Watch and Be Done With It

 

Surprisingly, however, the documents also reveal that President Loftin attempted to hide his demands for an even higher compensation of over $2.5 million, according to the documents obtained by The Aggie Guardian through a Texas Public Information Act request

“I would suggest that you delete the attachment once you have read it and provided back to me any guidance you may have. Thanks, Bowen,” Loftin wrote in an email sent on July 3, 2013, to the school’s Provost Karan Watson and CFO B.J. Crain.

It appears from the documents, however, that it was Loftin who forgot to delete the email, leaving it vulnerable to the The Aggie Guardian’s public records request. Continue Reading

1

John the Baptist, Herod and Us

Today is the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist.  His message of repentance is extremely unpopular in our day.  We live in a time of cheap grace.  When men bother to think of God at all they often tend to view him as a pal, a good joe who will gather us into a Heavenly Kingdom that is like Disneyland on steroids where we will be happy forever, no matter what wretched evil we have committed in this life.  What could be more opposite to this view of “God loves us just the way we are” than the burning message of the Baptist?

[1] Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina; [2] Under the high priests Annas and Caiphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. [3] And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; [4] As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. [5] Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain;

[6] And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. [7] He said therefore to the multitudes that went forth to be baptized by him: Ye offspring of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance; and do not begin to say, We have Abraham for our father. For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. [9] For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire. [10] And the people asked him, saying: What then shall we do?

[11] And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner. [12] And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him: Master, what shall we do? [13] But he said to them: Do nothing more than that which is appointed you. [14] And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay. [15] And as the people were of opinion, and all were thinking in their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be the Christ;

[16] John answered, saying unto all: I indeed baptize you with water; but there shall come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [17] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. [18] And many other things exhorting, did he preach to the people. [19] But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’ s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done; [20] He added this also above all, and shut up John in prison. Continue Reading

13

Various & Sundry, 8/28/13

Obama’s Half-Measures with Syria

I disagree with Abrams that we should intervene, but he’s right about Obama’s approach. Why are a hundred thousand killed by conventional means not a cause for action, but several hundred killed from chemical weapons means action NOW?

What I Meant to Say

Okay, we’re probably beating a dead horse, but this is a pretty funny satire of Jody Bottum.

Now, on to my non-arguments. I begin with a Bald Assertion: Although all of Western law, foundational decisions of the Supreme Court such as its original polygamy decision, and powerful dissents by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, are all against court-imposed same-sex marriage—and although I am not a constitutional jurist myself, and haven’t even read those dissenting opinions, or any of the legal briefs—still, I say that THE EQUITIES ARE ALL ON THE SIDE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. NO ONE HAS EVER GIVEN A SINGLE COHERENT JURISPRUDENTIAL ARGUMENT AGAINST IT. NO PRINCIPLED LEGAL VIEW CAN RESIST IT.  And if you continue to doubt this, then, superb writer that I am, I will be able to find even other ways of stating the same un-nuanced point, until you finally acquiesce in it.

It’s very important for my purposes that you accept this point, because, you see, as a writer, my goal at the start is to play on the ignorance of my young readers especially and make them feel embarrassed for believing in marriage as solely between a man and a woman.  Ultimately I wish to undermine that conviction, or at least to lead them to accept the courts’ and my distinction between “marriage” and “civil marriage.”  And so, I want them to feel—maybe for the first time—that they are being grossly inequitable, unfair, unprincipled, fundamentally illegal, and basically un-American if they oppose same-sex marriage.

It’s a bold gambit, to be sure, yet it’s very likely to succeed, because after all a young Catholic without much experience of the world—or any poorly catechized layperson, for that matter—will feel that if a former editor of First Things can say these things so boldly, or if they are printed without correction in Commonweal, then they have to be true.  Why would a responsible writer say these things unless they were true?

Whither First Things?

A symposium on its future. Maybe it should hire Bottum back, you know, just for fun.

Today’s Adventure in Petty Attack Ads

I have no love lost for Chris Christie, but this is an especially petty beef. Christie stars in an ad saying that Jersey is recovering from Hurricane Sandy, so come on down, and his opponent runs an ad criticizing him for making it sound like the state is fully recovered. Christie is one hundred percent on the money with his response.

When a reporter asked about critics of the “Stronger Than The Storm” tourism ads, Christie shot back, “What would they have us do: go into the fetal position? I’ve never said everything’s all right.”

Christie should realize that carping about the fallout from a hurricane is much preferred nowadays to moving on and recovering.

Some of You Are Clearly Drinking Whiskey Wrong

$20 whiskey mixed with soda should be an offense punishable by death, or at least banishment.

Moving Past Errors and Pitcher Wins

Great stuff from Joe Posnanski on the silliness of relying on either state to measure player and pitcher performance. While you’re there, also check out his post on the Cleveland Browns.

The Tragedy of Derek Jeter’s Defense

Two baseball posts today as I couldn’t pass up this fantastic feature in Grantland.

If Michael Bay Directed Heartwarming Documentaries

It would definitely be something a lot like this.

6

March on Washington 50 Years Later: Ironies

 

 

Officially titled the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the title underlines one of the ironies in this observation.  At the time of the March black unemployment was ten percent.  After untold trillions spent in the last half century to remedy this problem, black unemployment today is 13.4% and the unemployment rate for black teenagers is a stunning 41%.

Another irony is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ringing words about people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skins.  With the racial spoils system that has been implemented in this country since 1963, we are no closer to this goal.

Yet another irony is the religious language in which Martin Luther King, Jr., an ordained minister, arrayed his calls for justice.  Today such language would be reviled if spoken by anyone else by some of the same people who today will celebrate the “I Have a Dream Speech”. Continue Reading

1

Wilson Speaks

An audio recording of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 taking advantage of the division in Republican ranks that would lead Theodore Roosevelt to bolt the party and run as the standard bearer of the Bull Moose party that he created.  Wilson’s matter of fact, dry delivery, so in keeping with his profession of professor, reminds me of how in so many ways he was the anti-Roosevelt in style, although the similarities in domestic policy between him and Roosevelt were closer that either of them, both of whom cordially detested the other, were comfortable with.

9

Calibortion

 

 

 

While most other states are tightening their abortion laws, California is in the process of allowing non-physicians to perform abortions:

 

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the details:

Remember, of course, that this is all about women’s health.  California already allows non-physicians to administer drug-induced abortions, but the state legislature has now passed a new law that clears nurses, physician assistants, and midwives to perform suction abortions in the first trimester:

Nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants could perform a type of early abortion under a bill approved Monday by the state Senate, leaving the measure one step from the governor.

The measure by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would let those medical professionals perform what are known as aspiration abortions during the first trimester. The method involves inserting a tube and using suction to terminate a pregnancy.

Opponents in the legislature wondered how lowering the standards of providers could be squared with the oft-invoked concern for womens’ health from pro-abortion activists and the backers of this bill:

“Abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications, and I would argue that only the best-trained should conduct such an operation,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. “It has direct and profound impact on lives: the mother and the baby — and there is a baby.”

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, said legalized abortion was supposed to end the days when women’s lives were put at risk. Yet he said Atkins’ bill would allow the procedures by providers who have less training and in clinics without sufficient backup if there are complications.

The entire effort seems very odd, especially in California.  In some states, notably conservative Mississippi, so few abortion providers exist that abortion-rights activists might well demand some kind of similar relief, and probably already have been demanding it.  That hardly seems relevant in liberal California, however.  Planned Parenthood alone has 20 locations in the Golden State, from Alhambra to Yuba City.  Access is hardly an issue in one of the most liberal states in the nation. Continue Reading

5

Various & Sundry, 8/27/13

Weariness and Current Events

Some chap named Paul Zummo has written about Jody Bottum’s white flag essay over at the Catholic Stand. You should all go read it.

But Hey, We Don’t Really Have to Worry About Same Sex Marriage

Speaking of the issue that will single-handedly destroy Catholicism, Erik Stanley provides more evidence that maybe, just maybe, First Amendment rights aren’t so secure in a same sex marriage tolerant regime.

Vice President Biden Threatens Impeachment if President Bombs Foreign Country Without Congressional Approval

Whoops. My bad. That was Senator Biden. Now that he’s Veep he’s totally cool with such actions.

Beware Common Core

Few people are talking about common core, but we should be, as it poses a serious threat to American education.

Common Core, now adopted by 45 states and DC, is a set of national standards and goals related on the surface to English and math that have far-reaching implications into who controls curriculum (teachers teaching to the national test), along with implementing data-mining for a jaw-dropping universe of facts provided to the federal government about your children and you. Can I implore you to watch this video of a Common Core creator celebrating the collaboration with Obama’s data team and how to use data to achieve political ends?

Common Core has dismal quality, puts us behind other countries, views teaching as job training and not the development of our children’s minds, and has backers that would make your head swim were you to conduct even a perfunctory search.

Tolerance, Health and Fascism

Dennis Prager uses the “f” word and so will be ignored, but he shouldn’t be.

Now this is a Professor I Wish I had in College

Mike Adams is a professor in the University of North Carolina system. One friendly reader labelled him the biggest embarrassment to higher education. Why? Because Mike actually believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. Mike wrote an open letter in response to Ed, and it’s truly worth your time to read.

Why the Left Needs Racism

James Taranto takes down a buffoonish article written by Margaret Carlson about the movie The Butler. I think the absolute kicker was this written by Carlson:

“I wish Chief Justice John Roberts and four of his Supreme Court colleagues would see [‘The Butler’], too,” she writes. “Maybe it will help them understand how wrong they got it when they recently decided that we are so far past Jim Crow that we can dispense with a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

Yes, if only Clarence Thomas had seen a movie about life in the Jim Crow south he’d have been more amenable to upholding Section 4 of the VRA.

Too Much Chant at an Extraordinary Form Mass?

Scott W. sounds incredulous that anyone could complain about too much Gregorian Chant at an EF Mass. I have to admit that at the last EF Mass I attended – one which lasted two and a half hours, and was not the Easter Vigil – at one point I was kind of hoping for the choir to shut up for a minute so that the Priest could continue. Of course that was a polyphonic choir, so perhaps it’s not quite the same thing.

Indian Satire of Breaking Bad

Extraordinarily funny if you’re a fan of the show. By the way, Sunday night’s episode may have been the greatest hour of television I’ve ever watched.

11

Tears of a Clown

 

 

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown who engaged in lese majesty against King Obama speaks out:

I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan,” Gessling said.

But this time, race entered the equation. A white man dressed in a mask of a black president was just offensive to a lot of people.

“I never did anything because of anybody’s race. I don’t care what color somebody is. If they’re blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped … it doesn’t bother me one bit,” Gessling said.

Tuffy Gessling has endured five death threats, numerous angry confrontations, and a woman who spit in his face, based on a routine that is probably older than most of the people offended by it.  So what’s changed?  Gessling figures that people have lost their ability to laugh, at themselves and their favored institutions, and a large amount of their perspective, too:

“I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh,” Gessling said. “Look at the country as a whole, there is a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh.”

Well … at least during Democratic administrations, anyway. Continue Reading

5

Various & Sundry, 8/26/13

Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman

Kevin Williamson says what is obvious to most, but is sadly considered controversial considering the number of comments.

Judicial Activism – That Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

Justice Ginsburg – evidently with a straight face, claims that the Roberts court is the most activist in history. Frankly I think the term is misused, but any way you slice it – No.

Miley Cyrus Needs Help

It’s been kind of a fun day on social media seeing both the outrage and the  non-outrage over Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance. I think I saw more tweets and facebook posts from people saying that they’re not going to comment than from people actually commenting. As I said last night on twitter, I’ve basically become my father when it comes to VMAs. That said, it’s led to some hysterical (not in the ha ha sense) tweets. See the RS McCain link, but also check this out.

Lord (do not necessarily) Hear Our Prayer

As always, the USCCB really has its pulse on the issues that really merit out prayers and attention.

1

Randolph Scott vs. John Wayne

 

 

As long as we are discussing Randolph Scott, I recall that he co-starred with John Wayne in 1942 in two films:  The Spoilers and Pittsburg.  In each film Scott and Wayne had fist fights.  The no holds barred brawl in The Spoilers is one of the most memorable fight scenes of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Wayne wins.  In Pittsburg they have a return match and Scott prevails.  (One of the very few fight scenes lost by Wayne in his career.) Continue Reading

21

Why the Welfare State

A powerful scene from the movie The Mudlark (1950), which is a fictional account of a young orphan who scrounges a very meager living by trying to find items of value washed ashore along the banks of the Thames, and who goes to see Queen Victoria and causes her to end her withdrawal from public life after the death of her beloved Prince Albert in 1861.  In the above scene Alec Guinness, at the top of his game, portrays Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli giving a speech condemning the conditions in England that caused the boy to be leading a life of poverty and misery.  Guinness did the speech in one take which is a feat of acting that is almost preternatural. Continue Reading

8

The Marines Called Her Reckless

Reckless_with_Sgt__Latham

“I was surprised at her beauty and intelligence, and believe it or not, her esprit de corps. Like any other Marine, she was enjoying a bottle of beer with her comrades. She was constantly the center of attraction and was fully aware of her importance. If she failed to receive the attention she felt her due, she would deliberately walk into a group of Marines and, in effect, enter the conversation. It was obvious the Marines loved her.”

Lieutenant General Randolph Pate 

One of the most beloved members of the Marine Corps went into battle on four feet.  A mare of Mongolian mixed breed, the horse who would become Sergeant Reckless was foaled in 1948 in South Korea.  Originally named Ah Chim Hai, Morning Flame, she was sold to Lieutenant Eric Pederson, USMC,  for $250.00 in October of 1952.  (The owner was a stable boy who needed the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister who had stepped on a land mine.)

Pedersen bought the horse, which had been a race horse, to serve as a pack animal for his recoiless rifle platoon of the 5th Marine regiment.  The platoon called her Reckless after the platoon’s nickname of Reckless Rifles.  Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Latham gave Reckless an equine version of boot camp, known in her case as hoof camp.  He taught her how to avoid getting tangled up in barbed wire, how to lay down under fire, and to run to a bunker when hearing the shout “Incoming”.  Latham had his wife mail a pack saddle from the states so that Reckless could better fulfill her role of being a pack animal from the platoon.  Reckless quickly became a platoon favorite and was given the freedom to roam the platoon encampment at night and to enter tents at will.  She loved cokes and beer, and would eat with enthusiasm whatever she could get her mouth on, including, one dark day, $30.00 worth of winning poker chips of Latham.

However, Reckless quickly demonstrated that she was not a mere mascot or pet.  In the battle of Hedy’s Crotch she proved fearless in transporting shells for the recoiless rifles of the platoon.  At first alarmed by the sounds of the rifles going off, by the end of the day she was calmly going about her business.  A highly intelligent horse, she only needed to be led the first few times, and afterwards would make the trips bringing up the shells on her own.

At the battle of Outpost Vegas, March 26-28, 1953, she received a promotion to Corporal for her sterling service, including on one day 51 solo trip bringing up 386 shells.  She was slightly wounded twice during the engagement for which she was awarded two Purple Hearts.

Outside of battle Reckless performed many functions, including stringing telephone lines.  It was said that she could string telephone lines at a rate that it would take 12 men to match.  She enjoys the distinction of being the only horse to participate in a Marine Corps amphibious landing.  Continue Reading

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Joseph Bottum Goes For “Strange New Respect”

Patron Saint of Opportunists

 

 

Former editor of First Things Joseph Bottum, before he got canned in 2010, writes a truly vapid and interminable essay at Commonweal in which he comes out for Gay marriage.  I am not going to link to it.  The writing is atrocious and the thinking behind it worse.  The Henry Luce Foundation that paid for it should demand their 30 pieces of silver back.    Bottum I assume is going for the ever lucrative conservative apostate market.  There are always people willing to reward conservatives who, unafraid not to be able to look square in the mirror when they shave, are ready to give the heave ho to what they purported to believe.  Old friend of this blog Richard Rich Douglas Kmiec, former ambassador to Malta, can perhaps give Joe tips about the rewards that await turncoats.  Damon Linker, until now having cornered the market for First Things apostacy, is no doubt green with envy! Continue Reading

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Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?

Something for the weekend.  Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott by the Statler Brothers.  A 1974 lament of how tawdry the movies had become, it fastened on Randolph Scott, king of B-movie westerns, as an icon for a better day when kids could be taken to the movies without parents being concerned about what they would be exposed to.  I heard this song endlessly when it came out,  my parents’ radio blaring it most mornings in the kitchen in 74 in the hour before I and my brother got up to prepare for yet another day in high school.

Scott was born as far from the West as it was possible to be in Virginia and raised in North Carolina.  His family had money so he was educated in private schools.  During World War I he served as an artillery observer in France, a highly dangerous post.  (After Pearl Harbor, the 43 year old Scott attempted to enlist as a Marine, but was rejected due to his bad back.)

After his service in World War I, he worked for a time with his father in the textile industry in North Carolina.  In 1927 he moved to California to embark on an acting career with a letter of introduction from his father to Howard Hughes.  The next few years saw him develop his acting skills with bit parts and small roles.  In 1931 he had his first leading role in the film Women Men Marry. In the film Heritage of the Desert (1932) Scott played his first leading role in a Western, the first of ten films he would make based on Zane Grey novels.

Until the conclusion of World War II, Scott starred in a variety of film genres, but after the War he concentrated solely on Westerns.  Scott was a modest man and always underestimated his considerable skill as an actor.  He was comfortable in Westerns and decided to stick with them.  It was an inspired choice.  As he aged his handsome features took on a weathered, stoic look, and helped make him a Western icon.

Scott did not financially need to make films after the War.  Shrewd land purchases in California helped make him a multi-millionaire, and he increasingly looked upon his acting as a hobby.   By 1962 he was ready to retire, but he was convinced to make one last Western with his friend Joel McCrea.  McCrea and Scott had much in common:  both had become very wealthy through land purchases and neither needed to work in film, post World War II McCrea had gravitated to B Westerns, and both he and Scott were staunch Republicans.

The film that they made in 1962 is now regarded as a classic.   Ride the High Country was the second film to be directed by Sam Pekinpah.  It tells the tale of two former Old West lawmen who have fallen on hard times.  Steve Judd, Joel McCrea, has been hired by a bank in the early years of the last century to bring back 20,000 in gold from a mining camp.  Judd is elated because this is the first lawman like job that he has had in a very long time.  He runs into his old friend Gil Westrum, Randolph Scott, who is making a meager living running a shooting gallery in a circus.   Judd invites Westrum and his young friend Heck Longtree, Ron Starr, to join him in the job.  They agree, Westrum and Longtree planning to steal the gold.  As the film proceeds it becomes obvious that Judd still holds to the same code of honor and honesty that he upheld as a law man.  Westrum does not, having grown bitter with age and viewing the gold as his reward for his courage as a lawman, a courage that was not rewarded monetarily and has left him facing a hard scrabble old age.  Ultimately Judd realizes what Westrum is up to and disarms both him and Longtree, planning to put them on trial for attempted robbery.   The plot is complicated by Elsa Knudsen, Mariette Hartley in her screen debut, who the trio rescue from a miner she has just married who plans to have her serve not only as his bride but also as the “bride” of his four brothers.  Longtree grows to admire Judd for his courage and stubborn honesty while Westrum escapes, only to ride to the rescue at the end of the film to help Judd. Continue Reading

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Various and Sundry, 8/23/13

Sadly all vacations must come to an end, but on the bright side that means I’m back with some linky goodness.

The Debate We Aren’t Having

Three thugs murdered a young man simply because they were bored. Naturally this means we need to have another debate about the “gun culture” in this country. No, that’s not the debate we need to be having right now, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry

Speaking of guns,  Jim Geraghty quotes from a speech given by Cam Edwards.

If gun control worked, Chicago would be Mayberry right now! And Weld County and El Paso County would be Thunderdome! You guys wouldn’t have [Weld County] Sheriff [John] Cooke, you would have Tina Turner and Mel Gibson running around! It would be horrible! But that’s not real life! Real life is gun control not working in Chicago. Real life is gun control failing in Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, and a lot of other communities in this country . . .

We are pushing back with the lawsuits, with the phone calls to our legislators, by electing officials and supporting elected officials who listen to us. But we’re also pushing back by being grownups, and by being okay at it. By having hundreds of people show up at a range and fire thousands of shotgun shells . . . and everybody’s okay! And now we’re enjoying cigars and drinks and we’ll all get home safely tonight, right?

Because we can control our lives! We can manage our lives! It’s not too difficult. We’re not perfect. We may eat a little too much dessert every now and then. We may not be able to beat that one bad habit, like smoking cigarettes, whatever. But we’re a heck of a lot more capable than our government gives us credit for, aren’t we?

Exposing Another Lunatic

Earlier this year some virulently anti-Jewish and anti-gay literature was spread around Oberlin College. Just another angry, right-wing loon, right? Err, wrong.

One of the two students removed from Oberlin College earlier this year for allegedly circulating virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus  is an ardent leftist and committed supporter of President Barack Obama, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

Rallying Around a Pedophile

Throughout the height of the Church’s crisis, I don’t recall too many Catholics actually defending or supporting the guilty priests. Sadly the same cannot be said for many citizens of Rose City, Michigan, where a former teacher (if only they could be married) named Neal Erickson was sentenced to 15-30 years in jail for first degree criminal sexual conduct. Erickson had had a “relationship” with an 8th grader, and this “relationship” was exposed by an anonymous letter. But Erickson was such a swell guy, you see, and really the 8th grader welcomed the “relationship” so it’s all good.

In May of this year, Circuit Court Judge Michael Baumgartner started receiving letters of support.  Not for the victim, but for Erickson.   Ten letters, nine of which were written by former or current teachers of the district, were entered into the record.  Many talked of Erickson’s dedication to a local 6th grade camp. (Yikes).  They all proved two things.  You cannot take back the words you write.  And these idiots just don’t get it.

His wife, Toni Erickson, wrote that the person that released the photo, “…simply wanted to embarrass the school district, and expose others.”  She further proclaims the victim (I will not share his name, though it has been made public) isn’t a victim at all.  “X does not perceive himself to be a victim, nor is he living a life that has been negatively impacted by Neal’s actions.”  She DOES know who the real victim is in all of this.  “Going to prison can’t punish him anymore than he has been already – but there is someone who will be punished if he is sent away – my daughter, Margaret.”

Wow.

But it gets worse.  Sally Campbell, also a teacher, writes in her letter, “Neal made a mistake.  He allowed a mutual friendship to develop into much more.”  Harriet H. Coe, retired teacher, wanted to remind the judge that “Neal is, was, and always will be a good, kind, responsible, hardworking person.”

Suddenly Detroit doesn’t look like the most messed up town in Michigan.

Mike Trout is Awesome at Baseball

Miguel Cabrera is the best pure hitter in the game, but there’s no better all-around talent in the game than Trout. And he’s only 21.

Satire That Wasn’t Intended as Satire

Earlier this week Ace had a lot of fun with a new novel titled Christian Nation, written by Frederic C. Rich. Here is a description.

Christian Nation is a work of speculative political fiction, arising from the counterfactual of a McCain/Palin victory in 2008 followed soon after by McCain’s sudden death and Sarah Palin’s ascension to the presidency.

When the book opens, eight years have passed since the Holy War ended in victory for the fundamentalist Christian forces. Americans live in bondage to a comprehensive authoritarian law called The Blessing, enforced by a totally integrated digital world known as the Purity Web. The Narrator, Greg, whose best friend led the opposition to the theocratic movement, is brought to a secret abandoned cabin in upstate New York and told to remember and write.

The Christian right made no secret of its decades-long quest for political power, and did not hide what they would do if they got that power. Greg writes: “They said what they would do, and we did not listen. Then they did what they said they would do.” Struggling with perspective and memory, the memoirist recounts the country’s long slow descent to religious authoritarianism, propelled by economic distress, a second major terrorist attack, and the fanatical ambitions of an extremist evangelical minority.

Yeah.

Anyway, Ace poked a little fun at some of the sparkling dialogue from this true masterpiece. As always, the comments are a must-read as well.

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Devils’ Bargain

Polite Devils

The 74th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet agreement.  Two of the three great mass murderers of the last century, Mao would complete the trio, the marriage of convenience of Hitler and Stalin signaled the onset of World War II.  Communists who had been calling for a common front with democrats to oppose Hitler immediately turned on a dime and denounced any involvement in an “imperialist war” against Hitler.  When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941, communists around the globe turned on a dime again and called for all out war of all free peoples against the Hitlerian  threat.

Orwell had the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and the quick double flips that Communists did in response to it, and the later invasion by Germany of the Soviet Union, when he wrote this passage in 1984:

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the back muscles) — the frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’. Continue Reading

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Old Abe the War Eagle

The mascot of the Eighth Wisconsin infantry during the Civil War, Old Abe became a symbol of the Union war effort.

Born in 1861 the female bald eaglet was captured soon after birth by Ahgamahwegezhig (Chief Sky) a member of the Ojibwe tribe.  Traded to Daniel McCann for a bushel of corn in the summer of 1861, he sold her to the Eau Claire Badgers a company of Union volunteer infantry for $2.50.  Captain Perkins of the company named the bird Old Abe and a perch was made for her to stand on, and a soldier assigned to  look after her.  The Eau Claire Badgers became part of the Eighth Wisconsin and Old Abe became the regimental mascot.

Old Abe served with the regiment throughout the War and witnessed some thirty battles.  During fighting she would spread her wings and shriek.  Press coverage of her was extensive.  Confederates referred to her as the Yankee Buzzard and placed bounties on her head.

A soldier wrote home after the battle of Corinth: Continue Reading

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Reality is so Unfair

 

Ah, if only the surrealists of the last century could have seen our times they would have burned their easels and notebooks since their art could never have twisted reality sufficient to match our reality.

A fine example is American traitor Bradley Manning, who in a morally sane time would have been executed and in his grave for several years now, instead of making pronouncements like this:

 

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.

Of course loons have always been with us.  What makes our day so bizarre is that so many people take loons with complete dead pan seriousness:

The Huffington Post, the London Daily Mail, MSNBC and Slate have all started using the feminine pronoun.

NBC’s Today, USA TODAY, The Boston Globe, Politico, CNN, Fox, the New York  Daily News, the New York Post, the Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times are using the masculine pronoun.

According to the Associated Press Stylebook, a reference for many journalists, reporters should use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.

“This is a tough one and sparked vigorous debate in the newsroom,” USA TODAY Editor in Chief David Callaway says. “Style evolves with the culture, and the latest style recommendations are that transgender people should be described as they want to be described. That said, Private Manning has been known as a male to this day, so should be regarded as ‘he’ at least for the immediate future. We will continue to discuss.” Continue Reading

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First Amendment? Hello? First Amendment?

 

Elaine Huguenin

 

 

 

Hattip to Ace at Ace of Spades.  Apparently the New Mexico Supreme Court desperately needs to have a copy of the US Constitution sent to them.

New Mexico’s Supreme Court rules that people must set aside their religion in order to avoid creating the slightest inconvenience for gay people.  It calls this “the price of citizenship.”

The court said that Elaine Huguenin, the photographer, had discriminated against gay customers for not photographing their weddings, even though she had said she would be happy to take their pictures in different contexts. The court also refused any differentiation whatsoever between homosexual and heterosexual conduct under the law, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is not licensed in the state of New Mexico. Justice Edward Chavez wrote, “The difficulty in distinguishing between status and conduct in the context of sexual orientation discrimination is that people may base their judgment about an individual’s sexual orientation on the individual’s conduct. To allow discrimination based on conduct so closely correlated with sexual orientation would severely undermine the purpose of the NMHRA.” In other words, orientation and conduct are so intertwined that to discriminate against activity would be to discriminate against the person — an odd line of logic, given that it would then follow that discriminating against religious activity would constitute discrimination on the basis of religion, making the court’s logic self-defeating.Justice Richard Bosson wrote, in concurrence, that the Huguenins are “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” He concluded, “The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.” That “compromise,” he wrote, “is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.” Continue Reading

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Castro: the Mainstream Media’s Favorite Dictator

 

“When the world had given us up for dead, the interview with Matthews put the lie to our disappearance.”

Che Guevara, January 1958

Alas, if the mainstream media had only been half as questioning of Castro as the late Stuart Novins was when Castro appeared on Face the Nation on January 11, 1959.  Novins published several stories detailing Castro’s embracing of Communism and the blood stained methods he used to sustain his rule.  In short, Novins was a serious journalist interested in reporting the facts and alerting the American people to developments in Cuba.

Most of his colleagues had a different story to tell about Castro as detailed in Humberto Fontova’s book, The Longest Romance:  The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro.  In writing this book Fontova certainly has rich examples to choose from.  Go here to view a sample of pro-Castro reporting over the decades in the US media.

It could be argued that Castro became dictator in Cuba largely due to the favorable coverage he received in The New York Times, courtesy of Herbert Matthews:

Continue Reading

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Atheism: A Form of Insanity?

 

 

 

 

Novelist Tom Knox, who writes under the pen name of Sean Thomas for some of his work, certainly knows how to ignite a firestorm.  In The Telegraph he argues that atheism is a form of insanity.

 

In the last few years scientists have revealed that believers, compared to non-believers, have better outcomes from breast cancer, coronary disease, mental illness, Aids, and rheumatoid arthritis. Believers even get better results from IVF. Likewise, believers also report greater levels of happiness, are less likely to commit suicide, and cope with stressful events much better. Believers also have more kids.

What’s more, these benefits are visible even if you adjust for the fact that believers are less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs. And let’s not forget that religious people are nicer. They certainly give more money to charity than atheists, who are, according to the very latest survey, the meanest of all.

So which is the smart party, here? Is it the atheists, who live short, selfish, stunted little lives – often childless – before they approach hopeless death in despair, and their worthless corpses are chucked in a trench (or, if they are wrong, they go to Hell)? Or is it the believers, who live longer, happier, healthier, more generous lives, and who have more kids, and who go to their quietus with ritual dignity, expecting to be greeted by a smiling and benevolent God?

Obviously, it’s the believers who are smarter. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mentally ill.

And I mean that literally: the evidence today implies that atheism is a form of mental illness. And this is because science is showing that the human mind is hard-wired for faith: we have, as a species, evolved to believe, which is one crucial reason why believers are happier – religious people have all their faculties intact, they are fully functioning humans.

Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness. Which makes Richard Dawkins the intellectual equivalent of an amputee, furiously waving his stumps in the air, boasting that he has no hands. Continue Reading

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Political Correctness Made Cowards of Them All

 

 

The farce that is the courtmartial of mass killer Major Nidal Hasan  is wending on its way with the military judge restricting evidence of Hasan’s jihadi motives:

Prosecutors will not be allowed to enter evidence that Nidal Hasan intended to commit jihad in his mass murder spree at Fort Hood nearly four years ago, the judge in the court-martial ruled yesterday.  Col. Tara Osborn also struck from evidence the correspondence between Hasan and al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, although she did allow prosecutors to use records of Hasan’s Internet usage and search histories at the time of the shooting.

For my sins no doubt, I have spent the last 31 years as an attorney.  I have done more than my fair share of criminal defense during that time.  I cannot express adequately just how ridiculous this ruling of the court is.  Hasan has already admitted in open court that he was the shooter and that his motivation was jihad.  I can only assume that the true motivation behind the court’s absurd ruling was the same motivation that caused the administration to classify Hasan’s multiple murders as being workplace violence.

This courtmartial circus is merely the culmination of Hasan’s entire involvement with the Army during which he may as well have been wearing a sign saying “ENEMY COMBATANT”.  His superiors knew that Hasan was at best deranged and at worst a soldier for the jihadis.  The soldiers that Hasan murdered did not die because Hasan made any attempt to conceal what he was and is, a jihadist, but because his superiors cravenly did not wish to stand up against him for fear of harming their own careers and being accused of anti-Islamic bias.

NPR of all places has an excellent report showing that before he was assigned to Fort Hood from Walter Reed, that his superiors knew that Hasan was a likely threat:

 

 

When a group of key officials gathered in the spring of 2008 for their monthly meeting in a Bethesda, Md., office, one of the leading — and most perplexing — items on their agenda was: What should we do about Hasan?

Hasan had been a trouble spot on officials’ radar since he started training at Walter Reed, six years earlier. Several officials confirm that supervisors had repeatedly given him poor evaluations and warned him that he was doing substandard work.

Both fellow students and faculty were deeply troubled by Hasan’s behavior — which they variously called disconnected, aloof, paranoid, belligerent, and schizoid. The officials say he antagonized some students and faculty by espousing what they perceived to be extremist Islamic views. His supervisors at Walter Reed had even reprimanded him for telling at least one patient that “Islam can save your soul.”

Participants in the spring meeting and in subsequent conversations about Hasan reportedly included John Bradley, chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed; Robert Ursano, chairman of the Psychiatry Department at USUHS; Charles Engel, assistant chair of the Psychiatry Department and director of Hasan’s psychiatry fellowship; Dr. David Benedek, another assistant chairman of psychiatry at USUHS; psychiatrist Carroll J. Diebold; and Scott Moran, director of the psychiatric residency program at Walter Reed, according to colleagues and other sources who monitor the meetings.

NPR tried to contact all these officials and the public affairs officers at the institutions. They either didn’t return phone calls or said they could not comment.

But psychiatrists and officials who are familiar with the conversations, which continued into the spring of 2009, say they took a remarkable turn: Is it possible, some mused, that Hasan was mentally unstable and unfit to be an Army psychiatrist?

One official involved in the conversations had reportedly told colleagues that he worried that if Hasan deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, he might leak secret military information to Islamic extremists. Another official reportedly wondered aloud to colleagues whether Hasan might be capable of committing fratricide, like the Muslim U.S. Army sergeant who, in 2003, killed two fellow soldiers and injured 14 others by setting off grenades at a base in Kuwait. Continue Reading

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Shrewd, Very Shrewd

 

 

In the age of Obama it is possible for Americans to forget that there are leaders who are very shrewd indeed:

 

 

The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers,” read a statement that aired on Egyptian television.

Bishop Mousa thanked Sisi for his efforts to repair the damaged churches.

“We thank Col. Gen. Sisi for commissioning the brave Egyptian armed forces to rebuild the places of worship damaged during the recent events,” Bishop Mousa said on Twitter…

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), an Egyptian NGO, says at least 25 churches were torched this week, and attackers also targeted Christian schools, shops and homes across all 27 provinces. Continue Reading

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Euthanize Your Autistic Kid!

 

 

Charming.

The letter demands that Begley take action over her “retarded” son Max.   The Ontario mother said she had no idea who would send such a hateful  letter, which left her family shocked and devastated.

She tearfully told City News: “Who would do this to a child?”

The letter goes on to criticize Begley for allowing Max to play outside and  says: “That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL!!!!!!!!!! It scares  the hell out of my normal children!!!!!!!”

The letter also tells Karla that she has a “retarded kid” and “should deal  with it properly”.

“What right do you have to do this to hard working people!!!!!!!! I HATE  people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are  entitled to special treatment!!! GOD!!!!!!”

The writer finishes by demanding the family “go live in a trailer in the  woods or something with your wild animal kid!!!” and asks the family to do the  right thing and move or “euthanize him. Either way, we are ALL better  off!!!”

Go here to read the rest.  As the father of an autistic son, Larry, who I loved more than my life, and who died on May 19, 2013, I can imagine quite clearly the pain of the parents who received this hateful diatribe.  The author is a true spiritual descendant of the murderers of the Third Reich who gassed autistic kids.  In this vale of tears we all have travails and tragedies to endure, but none are more terrible than the petty hate that so many people carry within their souls.  Those are the humans that are truly handicapped. Continue Reading

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John Kerry, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts

 

 

John Kerry, our hapless Secretary of State, is backing the Muslim Brotherhood in the current incipient Civil War raging in Egypt between the Egypptian military, which removed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood former president of Egypt, and the supporters of the  military, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Kerry’s fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood goes back quite a ways.  Here is an excerpt from a post by terrorist expert Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online from December 14, 2011:

 

Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.) is in Egypt, meeting with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood — the Islamist organization whose goals are to destroy Israel, “conquer Europe” and “conquer America” (to quote its most influential jurist, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi).

The Brotherhood, which operates throughout the world, seeks the imposition by governments of strict sharia law (as outlined in Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law) and, eventually, a global caliphate. Naturally, the Obama administration describes it as a “largely secular” and moderate organization — and William Taylor, President Obama’s hand-picked “special coordinator for transitions in the Middle East,” announced last month that the administration would be quite “satisfied” with a Brotherhood victory in the Egyptian elections.

As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports, Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and key Obama administration congressional ally, “welcomed the results of Egypt’s first democratic elections,” in which “voters gave the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) nearly 40% of seats, and more than 24% went to the ultra-conservative Salafi coalition led by al-Nour Party.” [ACM: by ultraconservative, IPT means al-Nour is somewhat more impatient than the Brotherhood for the imposition of supremacist Islam; as I’ve explained on other occasions, the Muslim Brotherhood is Salafist in its ideology.] 

In addition to praising the Brotherhood’s election as a model of transparency and integrity, Sen. Kerry also called for an infusion of cash from the International Monetary Fund to undergird Egypt’s new Islamist government.

The United States, though over $15 trillion in debt, is the leading contributor-nation to the IMF, providing close to a fifth of its funding. That is about three times as much as second-place Japan, more than four times as much as China, more than six times as much as the leading Islamist country (Saudi Arabia), and more than the combined contributions of the three top European donors — Germany, Britain and France. (See Wikipedia Table, here.)  Consequently, a cash infusion by the IMF to the Brotherhood-led Egyptian government would be a redistribution of wealth from American taxpayers to Islamists whose goal is to conquer American taxpayers — assuming, of course, there is any money left in the IMF after the Obama administration gets done using it as the device through which tapped out American taxpayers bail out, at least temporarily, Europe’s collapsing experiment in trans-continental socialism.

Ironically, Kerry’s overtures and pledge of support to the Brotherhood come only a few days after a federal appeals court upheld the convictions of five top Brotherhood operatives in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, the Justice Department’s most significant terrorism support conspiracy prosecution in recent years. As the proof overwhelming demonstrated, the Brotherhood, through its American affiliates, channeled millions of dollars to Hamas to support terror operations against Israel. Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, and underwriting its campaign to destroy Israel has long been a top priority for the Brotherhood’s satellite organizations in the West — many of which were designated “unindicted coconspirators” by the Justice Department in the HLF case, and shown by the evidence to have abetted the Hamas-support scheme. Continue Reading

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Various and Sundry, 8/19/13

I’m on vacation, so this will be short and quick.

Take That Health Food Crazies

McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger is the cheapest, most nutritious food ever, at least according to one of the authors of Freaknonomics.

Chris Christie Continues to Endear Himself to GOP Base

Christie signs bill outlawing conversion therapy for minors.

In other Jersey news, 1 in 4 Jersians between the age of 18-31 are living at home with mom and/or dad.

Birtherism Lives

Well, if it involves a Republican, then it’s okay.

FWIW, Cruz is constitutionally eligible.

Bears on the Attack

This is not the kind of news story one wants to read right after seeing this in the backyard of the house you’re staying in:

Photo: Look! Bear!

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Police or Blue Army?

A retired Marine Colonel speaks truth to power, in the trite Leftist phrase.  The militarization of the police in this country is a dangerous trend.  Law enforcement is not warfare, and to treat it as such is to open the door to domestic tyranny.  Swat teams were initially for emergency situations.  Now the swat team mentality seems to be the first resort for law enforcement.  The police are becoming a well-armed military force and that is perilously close to the fear of standing armies that would be used domestically for political purposes that helped lead to the American Revolution.

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Better Late Than Never

 

 

Bishop Thomas Tobin has come to recognize what I hope many Catholic Democrats will come to realize:  the Democrat party is now the anti-Catholic party.

 

 

 

Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the diocese of  Providence, R.I., said he recently changed his voter registration from  Democrat to Republican, noting that the 2012 Democratic National  Convention and the Democrats’ strong support for abortion and homosexual  “marriage” was the last straw.

“The a-ha moment for me was the 2012 Democratic National Convention –  it was just awful,” said Tobin on Tuesday before a meeting of the Rhody  Young Republicans in Providence.  Tobin is 65 and has been a registered  Democrat since 1969.

“I just said I can’t be associated structurally with that group, in  terms of abortion and NARAL and Planned Parenthood and [the] same-sex  marriage agenda and cultural destruction I saw going on,” said Tobin, as  first reported by Ted Nesi at WPRI.com.  “I just couldn’t do it  anymore.”

“I’ve changed my party registration now, but the fact is that the  registration itself doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” said Tobin.

The bishop said he was greatly disappointed by the passage, in May, of a same-sex marriage law in Rhode Island. Continue Reading

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August 19, 1863: Lincoln Fires a Spencer Rifle

christopher_m_spencer

 

How times have changed!  On August 18, 1863 Christopher Spencer, inventor of the revolutionary Spencer repeating rifle, was able to walk into the White House and show one of his rifles to President Lincoln.

The concept of a repeating rifle was not new, and examples of such weapons had been produced since at least 1779.  However, teething problems with the new technology made them impracticable as mass weapons until shortly before the Civil War.  Benjamin Tyler Henry developed the famed Henry repeating rifle in 1860.  Although never officially adopted by the Union army, this rifle was highly thought of enough by Union cavalry troopers that thousands of them purchased them privately, and they were equally prized when captured by Confederate troopers.  The rifle could fire off 28 rounds per minute, compared to a rifled musket that could barely manage three rounds per minute under ideal conditions.

The Spencer repeating rifle was developed by Christopher Spencer in 1860.  A seven shot weapon, it could manage 20 shots a minute and proved durable under battlefield conditions.  By the end of the War, most Union cavalry and mounted infantry units had Spencers and their firepower was often devastatingly effective on the battlefield.
War department conservatism is often blamed for the fact that the Spencers were not more widely used during the War, especially by the infantry, but the truth is that the ability to supply Spencers to replace all of the Union rifles and rifled muskets simply did not exist during the War, and supplying the ones that could be manufactured to units cavalry and mounted infantry was a wise choice since they greatly magnified the combat power of the most mobile forces that the Union had. Continue Reading

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USS Indianapolis

My family and I are back again from our much needed vacation.  As usual, Gen Con was a great deal of fun, and I did not get thrown in the Klingon jail, thanks to my daughter blowing her money on a fake fur “hoody” with fox ears!  (Actually it looks  quite good on her, weird, but good!)

Indianapolis is a great city for a historian, filled with monuments.  My favorite is the huge Civil War memorial in down town Indianapolis dedicated to “Indiana’s Silent Victors”:

You can climb to the top of the Civil War memorial, all 331 steps.  I did several years ago.  My kids did it with ease.  I thought halfway through that it would probably be difficult to remove my corpse from the cramped stairwell and I struggled somehow to the top, although I rode the elevator down.

Indiana also has the national memorial to the USS Indianapolis, immortalized in popular culture by the Jaws video clip at the beginning of this post.  The cruiser delivered Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, to Tinian on July 26, 1945.  On July 30, 1945 it was sunk by Japanese sub I-58.  900 of the crew made it into the water.  SOS signals, contrary to the Jaws video clip, were sent off.  Three Navy stations received the SOS signal.  At the first station the commander was drunk.  At the second station the commander had left orders not to be disturbed.    The third station wrote off the SOS signal as a Japanese prank.  The Navy denied that the SOS signals had been received for years, and only the release of declassified material revealed the criminal negligence involved.  When the ship failed to dock at Leyte as expected on July 31, 1944, the port operations director Lieutenant Stuart B. Gibson inexplicably failed to report that the Indianapolis had gone missing.

This resulted in the men of the Indianapolis being in the water for 3 and a half days until they were spotted by a routine air patrol.  Heroic efforts were then undertaken to rescue the survivors.  321 men were rescued, four of whom died soon thereafter.  Most of the almost 600 men who escaped the ship and died in the water had been killed by hundreds of sharks who swarmed about the survivors.  Among the dead was Lieutenant Thomas Conway, the ship’s Catholic chaplain.  He spent his time in the water swimming from group to group, praying with the men, encouraging them, and reasoning with men driven to despair.  When Father Conway died on August 2, 1945, he was the last American chaplain killed in World War II.

Captain Charles B. McVay III, the skipper of the Indianapolis, had been wounded in the sinking and was among those who survived to be rescued.  He repeatedly asked why it took so long for the Navy to rescue his men, a question the Navy did not answer.  Instead McVay  was courtmartialed, a scapegoat for an episode that had tarnished the image of the Navy.  He was convicted for not zigzagging, which was farcical since he had been told to use his discretion in regard to zigzagging, and with high-speed torpedoes and improved aiming devices aboard subs, zigzagging was not an effective technique for a ship to avoid being torpedoed by the end of World War II.  Admiral Chester Nimitz, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, recognizing the fundamental injustice of the courtmartial, restored McVay to duty and he retired as a Rear Admiral in 1949.  Although most of the surviving crewmen of the Indianapolis regarded him as a hero, McVay was eaten away by guilt over the deaths of his crewmen, guilt that was exacerbated by hate mail and hate phone calls he periodically revealed from a few of the families of some of the men who died in the sinking and its aftermath.

After the death of his wife in 1966, McVay took his own life, clutching in his hand a toy sailor given to him by his father.  In 1996 a twelve year old school boy, Hunter Scott launched a campaign to clear McVay’s name.  The campaign to clear McVay was supported by former Lieutenant Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto who had commanded the I-58 and who noted in a letter that zigzagging would have had no impact on his torpedo attack. Continue Reading

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Cult of Personality? What Cult of Personality?

The kid of course is merely parroting what he has been told.  The really pathetic thing is that his mother thought it would be great to post this to YouTube.  The production values are very poor.  The last time in western society this type of god-like adoration of a politician was attempted, the production values were much higher: Continue Reading

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America the Beautiful

Something for the weekend.  America the Beautiful.   The lyrics were originally written in 1893 by English professor Katharine Lynn Bates in her poem Pike’s Peak.  The music was supplied by a hymn tune of Samuel A. Ward in 1904 and the most popular American patriotic hymn was born.

Here is Ray Charles’ immortal version: Continue Reading

Various and Sundry, 8/16/13

Egyptian Christians Under Assault

So a religious minority is being systematically attacked, and the news is greeted with crickets by the mainstream American press. But at least Al Jazeera (!) is there to report on it.

Security forces moved to violently disperse two protest camps by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on Wednesday morning, setting in motion a day of deadly violence that left at least 525 people dead in clashes across the country.

Amid the violence, alleged Morsi supporters carried out on dozens of attacks on churches and Christian-owned properties throughout the country.

Mina Thabet, an activist with Christian rights group the Maspero Youth Union, told Al Jazeera on Friday that at least 32 churches had been “completely destroyed, burned or looted” in eight different governorates over the previous two days. The group also recorded dozens of other attacks on Christian-owned shops, businesses and schools around the country.

Obamacare Pushing Americans into Part-Time Work

Wow, who could have predicted this development? Well, other than pretty much everyone who opposed Obamacare and said this would happen.

The Affordable Care Act requires mid-sized and large employers to sponsor health insurance for all full-time employees, which it defines as those who work 30 hours a week or more. Big labor unions, which had been in favor of the new law, are now sounding the alarm against it. They argue the sticker shock from the premium hikes is leading businesses to offset the impact by capping hours on employees, despite a recently announced one-year delay in that insurance mandate. If workers don’t clock 30 hours a week, the reasoning goes, employers won’t have to offer health insurance.

So the big labor unions who paid thousands to pretend to be pushed their grassroots activists to actively demonstrate their support for the bill are only now realizing that this will hurt their members?

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times

I am not as strongly opposed to the NSA surveillance program as most of you, but this is more than a bit worrisome.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Oddly enough, the typographical errors worry me more, because it signifies how easily your rights can be violated by a mammoth bureaucracy that has little accountability.

As Though TSA Agents Needed Another Excuse

Al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is thought to have developed explosives that can be concealed in implants or bodily cavities and escape detection from airport scanners, according to The Mirror.

One staff member said: “There are genuine fears over this.

“We have been told to pay particular attention to females who may have concealed hidden explosives in their breasts.

Pamela Anderson has jumped to the top of the terrorist watch list.

How the Hobbit Should Have Ended

An alternative vision.

3

The Caine Mutiny: A Review

(I originally posted this in 2009 when the blog readership was much smaller.  The Caine Mutiny has always been one of my favorite films and I am taking the excuse of my vacation from the blog to repost this review.)

For my sins, perhaps, I have spent my career as an attorney.  Over the past 31 years I’ve done a fair number of trials, both bench and jury, and I am always on the lookout for good depictions of trials in films, and one of the best is The Caine Mutiny.  Based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk,  who served in the Navy as an officer in the Pacific during World War II, the movie addresses the question of what should, and should not, be done in a military organization when the man at the top of the chain of command is no longer in his right mind.

 

The cast is top notch.  Humphrey Bogart, an enlisted man in the Navy during WWI and a member of the Naval Reserve, he tried to enlist again in the Navy after Pearl Harbor but was turned down because of his age, gives the performance of his career as Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the Caine.  In the hands of a lesser actor Queeg could easily have become merely a two-dimensional madman.  Bogart instead infuses Queeg with pathos and demonstrates to the audience that this is a good man who sadly is no longer responsible mentally for his actions.  Van Johnson delivers his usual workmanlike job as Lieutenant Stephen Maryk, the “exec” of the Caine, a career officer who does his best to remain loyal to an obviously disturbed CO, while also attempting to protect the crew of the Caine  from Queeg’s increasingly erratic behavior.  Robert Francis, as Ensign Willis Seward Keith, is the viewpoint character, too young and inexperienced to make his own judgment he relies on Maryk and Lieutenant Keefer.  Fred MacMurray is slime incarnate as Lieutenant Thomas Keefer, a reservist who hates the Navy, spends all his time writing a novel, and eggs Maryk on to take command away from Queeg.  Finally, in a typhoon, reluctantly and only, as he perceives it, to save the ship, Maryk, with the support of Keith, relieves Queeg from command.

In the ensuing court-martial of Maryk and Keith, lawyer Lieutenant Barney Greenwald,  portrayed with panache by Jose Ferrer, reluctantly agrees to defend them.

What I admire most about the film is the realistic way that the defense is depicted.  A legal case consists of the facts, the law and people. Continue Reading

Various and Sundry, 8/15/13

Biblical Roots of the Teaching of the Assumption

Msgr. Pope drops some knowledge on this Feast Day.

The actual event of the Assumption is not described in Scripture. However, there are “assumptions” recorded in the Scriptures and the concept is thus biblical.

  1. It happened to Enoch in the Old Testament The Book of Genesis records: Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Gen. 5:24). Hebrews 11: 5 elaborates: By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God.

  2. It also happened to Elijah as he walked with Elisha: And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven….And he was seen no more. (2 Kings 2:11 ).

  3. Some say Moses too was taken up since his grave is not known. As we read in yesterday’s first reading at Mass: He was buried in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is (Dt. 34:6). The text of course does not say his body was taken up and if it was, it occurred after death and burial. Jude 1:9 hints at the fact when is says, But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses….. (Jude 1:9) Some further credibility is lent to the view of him being assumed by the fact that he appears alongside Elijah in the Transfiguration account. Some of the Church Fathers held this view and there is also a Jewish work from the 6th Century AD entitled The Assumption of Moses that represents the tradition of his assumption. But in the end the Assumption of Moses only a view held by some and it not officially held by the Church.

More at the link.

Obama worse than Nixon? Well duh.

Presidential powers have been expanding almost exponentially for about a century. We have seemingly reached a point where the President can act without Congressional authority for any reason at all. George Will captures why Obama’s administration has been especially pernicious.

Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: “I didn’t simply choose to” ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, “this was in consultation with businesses.”

He continued: “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the speaker and say, you know what, this is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. . . . It looks like there may be some better ways to do this, let’s make a technical change to the law. That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do. But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so.”

Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: “Wheredoes the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?” The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority.

This inspires Will to compare Obama with Nixon.

In a 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, David Frost asked: “Would you say that there are certain situations . . . where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation . . . and do something illegal?”

Nixon: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Frost: “By definition.”

Nixon: “Exactly, exactly.”

Nixon’s claim, although constitutionally grotesque, was less so than the claim implicit in Obama’s actions regarding the ACA. Nixon’s claim was confined to matters of national security or (he said to Frost) “a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude.” Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

Wounded Warriors Unable to Eat at Dining Hall

You just sometimes have to wonder if people inside the government are capable of rational thought.

The Glories of the Arab Spring Continue Apace

Well at least the UN is on the case.

The UN Security Council is calling on both the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise “maximum restraint” and end the violence spreading across the country, which has claimed more than 600 lives.

Council members called for national reconciliation, expressed regret at the loss of life and sent sympathy to the victims.

Up next: a very strongly worded letter.

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Leave it to Major League Baseball to come to its senses regarding replay, and then ruin this moment of clarity by aping the NFL’s absurd challenge system.

Mmmmmm. Bacon.

I heartily endorse this recipe. Store bought bacon will just never suffice again.

11

The post-Copacabana Beach parish…

 

While many Catholics are regaling in the afterglow of the much-touted and “highly successful” World Youth Day (WYD) 2013 in Rio, there are signs that papal spectacles like these—“circuses” some might say—should be reassessed for their ultimate value in evangelizing Catholic youth.

One young Catholic—sincere and searching for the truth but not quite sure what truth is—recently told me that young people are leaving the Church in droves because they “don’t feel the Church loves us…present company excepted, of course.”

It was for this purpose—to reach out to evangelize youth, demonstrating Mother Church’s love for them and their salvation—that Blessed John Paul II established WYD.  Over the decades, the media’s images of all of those young people—millions in some instances—traveling to distant locales to unite in prayer, to be catechized, and to participate in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist—has been edifying for many Catholics and especially members the Curia who are already preparing for the next WYD in Poland.

PF Rio

But, there’s another aspect of  WYD that isn’t being reported and discussed, one that casts a shadow over WYDs, in general, and raising the question “Should WYD be held?”, in particular.

In “The Downside of World Youth Day,” Connor Malloy describes some of what’s not being reported.  For example, large group sessions dedicated to catechesis—two featuring Cardinals O’Malley and Dolan—didn’t have their desired effect upon the audience.  The problem? Everything else competing for the audience’s attention.  At the opening Mass, Malloy notes:

…hordes of pilgrims were wandering around, popping in at food tents and taking pictures of Copacabana Palace during the Consecration. It was beyond easy to take one’s eyes off the ball, and this identity crisis—between being a pilgrim and being a tourist—presented a constant struggle.

This is nothing new.  Malloy tells of an author who related that, following WYD 2000 in Rome, “mounds of used condoms were reportedly found scattered on the grounds—a most eloquent monument to relativism.”

For Malloy, this detachment, those distractions, and the immoral behavior raise two questions: Are we serious about the faith? And, what faith are we spreading?  He answers:

When contemplating the emerging Catholic youth, the target audience of WYD 2013, one has to ask, with what they have already witnessed in their lives from cultural, domestic, economic, and social perspectives—from Hollywood, secularism, capitalism, and the iPhone—how much of a role does Catholicism really play in their everyday lives? And what kind of Catholicism is it, anyway? Because from what I saw in Rio, for many there is a wink-wink, “do as I say not as I do” mentality about the Catholic faith.

Looking with an unvarnished eye at these papal spectacles and what they have become in some ways,  have they outlived their purpose?  Arguably, there may be better ways to evangelize Catholic youth.

More substantively, are those outdoor liturgies a disservice to the Eucharist?  Is Mass to be a spectacle—pulsating with dyathrambic rhythms to which the congregants bump and grind while slurping down a latté—or is the Mass  a sacrament—an encounter with the Living God?

“Why can’t it be both?” some may ask.

Malloy observes:

That young pilgrims may have confused WYD with a rock concert is understandable. The question is, can we trust them to see the substance beyond the fluff, the Incarnation beyond the entertainment? Chances are these pilgrims love challenges; we must challenge them to swim against the tide of relativism that exists even within the Church itself, and to surrender themselves to Christ’s redeeming love.

Time will tell when many in that crowd—the “sheep” Pope Francis wants to bring “home” to the Church—return to their dioceses and parishes and  “shake things up,” as the Pope instructed them. What will happen when these young people discover that the Church’s teaching hasn’t changed?  Then, too, should they be allowed to turn liturgy in their parishes into mini-Copacabanas? Will they once again leave, and this time, for good?

If young people are leaving Church in droves because they don’t “feel the Church loves us,” one wonders what kind of mother they are looking for.

 

 

To read Connor Malloy’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2500/The_Downside_of_Rio.aspx#.Ugy2wJKHuSq

7

Cardinal Newman on the Assumption

IV. On the Assumption

(1) May 24  Mary is the “Sancta Dei Genetrix,” the Holy Mother of God

AS soon as we apprehend by faith the great fundamental truth that Mary is the Mother of God, other wonderful truths follow in its train; and one of these is that she was exempt from the ordinary lot of mortals, which is not only to die, but to become earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Die she must, and die she did, as her Divine Son died, for He was man; but various reasons have approved themselves to holy writers, why, although her body was for a while separated from her soul and consigned to the tomb, yet it did not remain there, but was speedily united to her soul again, and raised by our Lord to a new and eternal life of heavenly glory.

And the most obvious reason for so concluding is this—that other servants of God have been raised from the grave by the power of God, and it is not to be supposed that our Lord would have granted any such privilege to anyone else without also granting it to His own Mother.

We are told by St. Matthew, that after our Lord’s death upon the Cross “the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that had slept”—that is, slept the sleep of death, “arose, and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, came into the Holy City, and appeared to many.” St. Matthew says, “many bodies of the Saints”—that is, the holy Prophets, Priests, and Kings of former times—rose again in anticipation of the last day.

Can we suppose that Abraham, or David, or Isaias, or Ezechias, should have been thus favoured, and not God’s own Mother? Had she not a claim on the love of her Son to have what any others had? Was she not nearer to Him than the greatest of the Saints before her? And is it conceivable that the law of the grave should admit of relaxation in their case, and not in hers? Therefore we confidently say that our Lord, having preserved her from sin and the consequences of sin by His Passion, lost no time in pouring out the full merits of that Passion upon her body as well as her soul. Continue Reading

5

Various and Sundry, 8/14/13

Ashton Kutcher Offers Excellent Advice. No. Really.

Ashton Kutcher + Teen Choice Awards = Disaster, right? No, actually Ashton Kutcher delivered one of the most heartfelt, awe-inspiring speeches an actor has ever delivered.

Here’s what he said:

I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work.  When I was 13 I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof.  And then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant.  And then I got a job in a grocery store deli.  And then I got a job in a factory sweeping cheerio dust off the ground.  And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than.  I was always just lucky to have a job.  And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.  And so opportunities look a lot like work.

He later added.

The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful, and being generous.  Everything else is crap, I promise you.  It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less.  So don’t buy it.  Be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous.

Rush Limbaugh basically spent most of his show today talking about this speech. This is the first time many of these kids are hearing this message. Kudos to Ashton. I mean Chris.

Bring Back Lese-Majeste.

If you haven’t heard, a rodeo clown in Missouri was barred from all future state fairs basically for the high crime of offending our President. Michael Auslin at National Review says it’s high time we bring back lese-majeste.

By now all America has heard of the national tragedy that occurred in Missouri. A rogue rodeo clown insulted the dignity of our princeps civitatis, I mean, President of the United States, at the Missouri State Fair. According to Tribune of the People, I mean U.S. Representative, William Lacy Clay, the offending clown threatened the safety of our Nation by showing “hatred, intolerance and disrespect.” This was echoed by provincial deputy governor, I mean state lieutenant governor, Peter Kinder, who “condemned the actions disrespectful” to our President.

What’s that about a war on women?

At this point we need to start keeping track of the women that San Diego Bob Filner (D) hasn’t sexually harassed. Of course since he has a D next to his name it’s totally cool to sweep this under the rug and ignore it. That’s exactly what the Democratic party did because winning elections is more important than protecting women.

An American Bishop Switches Political Parties.

Clearly just another liberal prelate done in by the siren song of the Calvinist American heresy.

Wake me up when September ends.

Okay, here’s how this defund Obamacare thing is going to play out. We’re going to have six weeks of nonstop jabbering. On one hand, we’ll have the chorus of folks who claim that anything short of an absolute government shut down is a complete RINO sellout that signifies the death of our republic. On the other, we’ll hear the chorus of the perpetually concerned who will argue that the Republican party will be doomed for all eternity if we even sniff a government shutdown. Each side will hurl their anathema sits, and this will be the topic of approximately 95% of all political discourse in those six weeks. We’ll come close to the point of no return, then we’ll get a deal, and then we will be back to where we started. There will be no political repercussions, good or bad, for either side. And we’ll basically forget about this until the next political crisis.

There, I just saved you six weeks of news reading. Can we get back to other things now?

12 movie cliches we never need to see again

Yeah, number three is especially annoying.

 

30

Liberal Rules for Racism

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On my way to Gen Con with my family, with a short detour to bankruptcy court on the way for a client.  (Ah, for those halcyon days of yore when a week’s vacation for a me meant a week’s vacation!)  While I had the time this morning I decided to post this brilliant piece by John Hawkins at Town Hall.  Something to recall as liberals play the only card they have left, the race card:

 

1) Liberals aren’t held to the same rules as Republicans: When liberals say racist things, it’s just excused out of hand as if it’s no big deal. If Dick Cheney had said, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man” instead of Joe Biden, you’d read about it every time he criticized Barack Obama. When Christopher Dodd said, “I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation,” it was shrugged off. On the other hand, Trent Lott ended up resigning from the GOP leadership for making very similar comments about Strom Thurmond.

2) Minority racism must be ignored:According to Rasmussen polling, “Thirty-seven percent (37%) of American Adults think most black Americans are racist, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 15% consider most white Americans racist, while 18% say the same of most Hispanic Americans.” This isn’t coming out of the ether. Black Americans voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton because he was black. If George Zimmerman had been black and Trayvon Martin had been Hispanic, most black Americans would have been indifferent to the case or would have supported Zimmerman. This is one of the great ironies of the liberal obsession with racism. While they can turn practically anything into evidence of Republican racism, the most grotesque examples of racism from minorities are just shrugged off.

3) You pay no penalty for falsely accusing people of racism: False accusations of racism can do just as much damage as actual racism. People can be ostracized for it, lose endorsement deals or even lose their jobs over being falsely accused of racism. Yet, the only reason you’ve heard of people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Touré, and Melissa Harris-Perry is because they’re willing to accuse people of being racists on the flimsiest of pretexts. It’s tempting to compare these race-hustling poverty pimps to the KKK, but the more appropriate analogy is the Spanish Inquisition. The attitude is, “So what if we unjustly accuse a lot of people as long as we get a few heretics in the process?”

4) Outrage matters more than facts: It doesn’t matter what Bush actually did in New Orleans or that the local government failed the people of the city; it matters how people FEEL about it. It doesn’t matter that Democrats have run Detroit since 1962; it matters that people FEEL Republicans are responsible. It doesn’t matter that Trayvon Martin wasn’t really a twelve year old kid and that he was slamming George Zimmerman’s head into the pavement; it matters that Zimmerman’s acquittal FEELS symbolic of law-abiding black Americans being profiled because so many other black Americans are criminals. Once an accusation of racism is made, facts are treated as if they’re of secondary importance to FEELINGS.

5) It’s okay to discriminate against white Americans: It’s unbelievable that in 2013, we still have race-based discrimination in America and liberals are perfectly fine with it. The rationale for what should be an incredible violation of the equal protection clause in the Constitution? It’s that whites are doing better than blacks are as a group. That’s probably a cold comfort to the son of a white single mother making minimum wage whose son loses out to one of Obama’s daughters because he happened to be Caucasian. Continue Reading

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How Dagger John Saved the Irish

 

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

 

 

 

Archbishop John Hughes of New York, universally known to friend and foe as Dagger John, was  a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church was touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  He earned his nickname!

Among his many accomplishments was his success in leading the New York Irish out of poverty.  It is a fascinating story and relevant to our time.  In 1997 in City Journal, William J. Stern wrote an article on how Dagger John did it:

 

 

Hughes once remarked that “the Catholic Church is a church of discipline,” and Father Richard Shaw, Hughes’s most recent biographer, believes that the comment gives a glimpse into the inner core of his beliefs. Self-control and high personal standards were the key—and Hughes’s own disciplined labors to improve himself and all those around him, despite constant ill health, embodied this ethic monumentally. Hughes proclaimed the need to avoid sin. His clergy stated clearly that certain conduct was right and other conduct was wrong. People must not govern their lives according to momentary feelings or the desire for instant gratification: they had to live up to a code of behavior that had been developed over thousands of years. This teaching produced communities where ethical standards mattered and severe stigma attached to those who misbehaved.
The priests stressed the virtue of purity, loudly and unambiguously, to both young and old. Sex was sinful outside marriage, no exceptions. Packed together in apartments with sometimes two or three families in a single room, the Irish lived in conditions that did not encourage chastity or even basic modesty. Women working in the low-paid drudgery of domestic service were tempted to work instead in the saloons of Five Points, which often led to a life of promiscuity or prostitution. The Church’s fierce exhortations against promiscuity, with its accompanying evils of out-of-wedlock births and venereal disease, took hold. In time, most Irish began to understand that personal responsibility was an important component of sexual conduct.
Since alcohol was such a major problem for his flock, Hughes—though no teetotaler himself—promoted the formation of a Catholic abstinence society. In 1849 he accompanied the famous Irish Capuchin priest, Father Theobald Mathew, the “apostle of temperance,” all around the city as he gave the abstinence pledge to 20,000 New Yorkers.
A religion of discipline, stressing conduct and the avoidance of sin, can be a pinched and gloomy affair, but Hughes’s teaching had a very different inflection. His priests mitigated the harshness with the encouraging Doctrine of the Sacred Heart, which declares that if you keep the commandments, God will be your protector, healer, advisor, and perfect personal friend. To a people despised by many, living in desperate circumstances, with narrow economic possibilities, such a teaching was a bulwark against anger, despair, and fear. Hughes’s Catholicism was upbeat and encouraging: if God Almighty was your personal friend, you could overcome.
Hughes’s teaching had a special message for and about women. Women outnumbered men by 20 percent in New York’s Irish population partly because of famine-induced emigration patterns and partly because many Irish immigrant men went west from New York to work on building railways and canals. Irish women could find work in New York more easily than men could, and the work they found, usually as domestics, was steadier. Given the demographic facts, along with the high illegitimacy rate and the degree of family disintegration, Hughes clearly saw the need to teach men respect for women, and women self-respect.

He did this by putting Catholicism’s Marian Doctrine right at the center of his message. Irish women would hear from the priests and nuns that Mary was Queen of Peace, Queen of Prophets, and Queen of Heaven, and that women were important. The “ladies of New York,” Hughes told them, were “the children, the daughters of Mary.” The Marian teaching encouraged women to take responsibility for their own lives, to inspire their men and their children to good conduct, to keep their families together, and to become forces for upright behavior in their neighborhoods. The nuns, especially, encouraged women to become community leaders and play major roles in church fund-raising activities—radical notions for a male-dominated society where women did not yet have the right to vote. In addition, Irish men and women saw nuns in major executive positions, managing hospitals, schools, orphanages, and church societies—sending another highly unusual message for the day. Irish women became important allies in Hughes’s war for values; by the 1850s they began to be major forces for moral rectitude, stability, and progress in the Irish neighborhoods of the city.
When Hughes went beyond spiritual uplift to the material and institutional needs of New York’s Irish, he always focused sharply on self-help and mutual aid. On the simplest level, in all parishes he encouraged the formation of church societies—support groups, like today’s women’s groups or Alcoholics Anonymous, to help people deal with neighborhood concerns or personal and family problems, such as alcoholism or finding employment. In these groups, people at the local level could exchange information and advice, and offer one another encouragement and constructive criticism. Continue Reading

Link Roundup

Because when you go three weeks between blogposts, things sort of build up in the queue.

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Still My Enemy

Typically brilliant insight from Simcha Fisher about the sudden conservative and Christian appreciation for Mother Russia – you know, the authoritarian state run by the corrupt,  narcissistic, kleptomaniac.

Who Knew? The welfare state may not be such a great thing after all.

Fascinating documentary in Great Britain where welfare recipients are forced to live on 1949 allotments. If your primary concern is making sure those on welfare have every last need and want met, then the modern system is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re into old fashioned concepts such as human dignity, maybe things were better once upon a time.

Voter ID Laws = Jim Crow

Leave it to a mediocre pop artist to really get to the heart of the issue. John Legend has decreed that the newly passed voter ID law in North Carolina is the new Jim Crow. Because having to show a picture of yourself before voting is totally the same as segregated schools.

The Cowardice of the Stupid Party

Republican Congressman would totally love to hold town hall meetings during the summer recess to discuss the immigration bill, but they like got that thing that they gotta do. You know. That thing. Right Vinny?

The Fourth Branch

The usual cheerful article from Kevin Williamson. President Obama has essentially handed over the management of government to bureaucratic functionaries. If anything Williamson undersells the painful reality of life in Washington. Our government is in the hands of well-meaning, well-credentialed, but power-hungry managerial type so perfectly depicted in CS Lewis’s masterpiece, That Hideous Strength. Basically it’s the N.I.C.E. minus the scary head thing. What’s worse is that President Obama is using these agencies to bypass that pesky little thing known as Congress. As Williamson puts it:

IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about.

The Worst Decision Ever Made in the Harry Potter Universe

And on a lighter note, a look back at a rather questionable hiring decision.

 

 

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Catholic Answers Needs Help

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for so long– I’ve been over at Catholic Stand and Ricochet, and trying to help folks on facebook– and I’m sorry to come back with a “Please help” message.

Doing it anyways.

Catholic Answers needs help. They’ve had to let folks go, cut pay and are still falling short.

I don’t know if you’ve been helped by them, but… I got more just from the Catholic.com website than I got from the decade plus of “catholic” education from my local parish.  Just last week I was talking to my mom about how much stuff I wouldn’t even know I didn’t know if not for ‘stuff I found online’… which almost always meant “On Catholic Answers.”

More recently, I helped a cousin who was being faced with the “but if you weren’t a nasty evil mean person, you’d support marriage equality” stuff with some of their articles.

I know things are tough. Please help.

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Catholic and SSA

Joseph Prever, who has blogged under the pseudonym Steve Gershom, (and who is Simcha Fisher’s brother), has written a rather intimate post discussing being homosexual and a practicing Catholic. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the key point:

You probably know this already, but I’m celibate, because I’m Catholic. You will not hear me talking about When Oh When Will The Church Get With The Times, because that kind of talk is boring nonsense. Guys, the whole point of having the Church is having one thing, just one!, that you can depend on to always be the same. Thank God for that.

If you want a church that constantly changes to fit in with whatever’s fashionable this decade, there are a bazillion options, and you’re bound to find one that is custom-tailored to your particular set of prejudices. Happy shopping.

It’s actually harder to come out as celibate than to come out as gay. Various people have pitied me, or tried to convince me that my life is vewwy vewwy sad, or tried to talk me out of it, or even surreptitiously tried to set me up with their gay friends. If you do this shit, I will not spin-kick you in the face, but I will very badly want to.

Now as is typical for the Catholic blogopshere, while many if not most have been supportive of Joseph, there is a rather vocal undercurrent that is more critical. Some of the more vitriolic, and frankly unhinged comments are simply not worth the time to respond to. There are a couple of more rational criticisms, expressed in many circles, that are worth addressing.

That Joseph uses the word “gay” to describe himself has bothered many. You’ll hear this complaint on many topics related to same sex attraction, particularly if you ever use the term “gay marriage.” There is some merit to this objection, as words do have significant connotations. Even Prever himself is uncomfortable with the word, and says so himself:

Some people have a problem with the word “gay”. That’s okay; I get it. I have a problem with it too. I’ve written a little about that. It’s not a perfect word, but words are like that. You have to know the context. My life is the context. Get to know me first, and then we can argue about it.

Unlike most who have read this paragraph I gather, I bothered to look at the link Prever provided, and it opened to his about page where he writes this:

So are you gay, or what?

You could say that, if you wanted to, although I don’t like the term and don’t identify with it. I’m attracted primarily and almost exclusively to men, and have been since I was about fourteen; but I don’t date men or have sex with them, so where does that leave me? I’m a faithful Catholic, so a romantic relationship with another man literally doesn’t fit into the way I see the world. I don’t see myself as different in any essential way from heterosexual men, so describing myself as “gay” doesn’t seem to fit.

On the other hand, “homosexual” sounds clinical, “queer” certainly isn’t me, and “man who’s attracted to other men” is cumbersome. So, “gay” is a useful sort of shorthand, and I’ll use it from time to time until a better word comes along. SSA (same-sex attraction) is a useful term too, as in “He has SSA” rather than “He is SSA.”

Okay, but can’t you please use some other word besides “gay”? People are going to get the wrong idea.

People have made the point that, by using the same terminology used by those who hold the view that homosexuality is a normal, natural, healthy, super-wonderful sexual variant of human behavior, I’m implicitly legitimizing that view.

This is a valid point. Over and against this point, however, I weigh the fact that the word “gay” is immediately recognizable. If anyone cares enough to read what I’ve written on the blog, they’ll find out what I think about it. And — let’s be honest — “gay” is much better for SEO purposes.

Scandal! Well, not really. This is an eminently reasonable argument. If you want to quibble, feel free, but to me it seems rather pedantic, and I’m not about to cast Mr. Prever into the hellfire for using the term.

The more serious criticism is basically this: it is wrong for Prever to identify as gay (or homosexual or SSA) publicly, as he is giving tacit support for the lifestyle. Essentially, his public profession gives scandal.

This is wrongheaded for a number of reasons. As he makes abundantly clear, he lives a chaste life. No one who reads what he has written could claim with any level of intellectual honesty that he has given tacit support for the homosexual lifestyle, or that his admission of being gay somehow implies that identifies as gay above being Catholic, or that it is his sole defining identification. I would like to believe that this audience is familiar enough with the Catechism to understand that nothing that Prever wrote contradicts in any way the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

More importantly, the calls for Mr. Prever to, for lack of a better term, stay in the closet strikes me as stupefyingly boneheaded. We live in a culture where homosexual behavior is not only accepted, it is largely celebrated. Here we have an amazing testimony that goes profoundly against the grain. Here we have a gay man (sorry, homosexual) who proudly testifies to the truth of Holy Scripture, affirms the magisterial teaching of the Holy Church, and conforms his life to these teachings. And he should shut up? This magnificent sign of contradiction shouldn’t evangelize to the truth? Are you kidding me?

It seems that so often we Catholics strive diligently to be our own worst enemies. We do our best to shout down the very people who are the greatest testimonies to the awesome love  of our Lord.

I understand to a point the almost reflexive anger demonstrated by some Catholics when it comes to homosexuality. We feel we’re banging our heads collectively against a wall, battling a culture that seems (and is) outright hostile to our values. The Gestapo-like tactics employed against those who oppose this cultural transformation sickens us all. But can we just take a minute before becoming the caricatures we’re portrayed to be? Can we display that love of Christ here on Earth and embrace those who are the very exemplars of courage and sacrifice? Or would we rather obsesses over semantics and condemn to hell the very people who most need our support?

4

Arithmetic

arithmetic on the frontier

The twenty-seventh 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, here , here , here and here.  Kipling was always concerned with the British Army.  Here in one of his earliest poems, Arithmetic on the Frontier, written in 1886 when he was 21, he bemoans the difficulty of fighting on the northwest frontier of India when it was so expensive to educate and train a British officer compared to the cheap in cost native troops they were fighting.  It is a striking poem filled with striking imagery, but it was a bad analysis of the military situation.  Comparatively few of the troops used by Britain were brought from the United Kindom.  Most were native troops, not much costlier than the foes they faced for the White Queen.  Add in the wide technology disparity, and as long as Britain was willing to pay the financial cost, it could hold its empire in India indefinitely.  The British Raj ended some 62 years after Kipling wrote the poem due to a rising political consciousness of the minute Indian middle and upper classes and because a bankrupt Britain was no longer willing to shoulder the cost.  The poem actually has more relevance for our time than Kipling’s, as America’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates.  Oh well, it is still a marvelous poem!: Continue Reading