5

Pio Nono: First Pope to be Photographed

A liberal pope, that’s the most egregious thing I can imagine!

Metternich’s reaction upon hearing of the election of Pius IX

 

Pio Nono is often regarded in secular histories as a hopeless reactionary.  That is as misguided as the Metternich quote above, when the Pope was regarded as a liberal at the beginning of his reign.  Pio Nono was Pio Nono, and it is mistaken to attempt to place him into a secular box.

In regard to technology, and the 19th century was in many ways a time period when technology was changing in a more revolutionary fashion than our own day, Pius tended to eagerly embrace it.  Photography was a prime example of this.  Before the reign of Pius, the pope to almost all Catholics outside of the hierarchy was a fairly shadowy and mysterious figure.  Most had little idea of what the pope looked like, and while his office was understood as important, the man behind the office was a question mark.

Pionono

 

Pio Nono changed that.  He used the new science of photography to form a link between himself and the average Catholic.  The first Pope photographed, Pio Nono sent out many autographed photographs of himself.  It was a rare rectory by the end of the reign of Pio Nono that did not have a picture of the Pope.

Pio Nono understood the value of what we call public relations.  He once acknowledged that he was the number one attraction for tourists in Rome.  He also had a sharp sense of humor, telling the Anglican bishop of the Mediterranean that he found himself living in the bishop’s diocese!  We can see this understanding of the attraction of his personality in some of his photographs: Continue Reading

3

Winfield Scott and the Irish Pows

colonel winfield-scott

Winfield Scott, the most notable American general between the American Revolution and the Civil War, began his climb to becoming a general at 27 by the heroism he displayed as a Lieutenant Colonel at the battle of Queenston Heights on October 11, 1812.  An American defeat, Scott was among the 955 Americans captured.

The British at this time did not recognize the right of any British subject to change his nationality.  Such a subject, captured fighting in a foreign army, was considered by the British to be a traitor and liable to summary execution, sometimes being given the opportunity to avoid death by enlisting in the British Army.

At first the American captives were treated rather well.  Scott was even invited to dinner by British General Roger Sheaffe, who also protected the Americans from the Indian allies of the British.  Shipped to Quebec, the Americans were paroled and were due to leave via ship for Boston on November 20, 1812.  The day before a commission of British officers boarded the ship where Scott and his men were waiting to sail.  The British began questioning the American enlisted men.  If they detected an Irish brogue, the man was arrested as a traitor to the Crown.  Hearing the commotion this was causing, Scott rushed from below deck.  Defying an order from the British to go below, he ordered the men who had not been interrogated not to say another word.  To the 23 men who had been arrested, he promised the United States would protect them.  The men obeyed Scott and all refused to say a word.  The British eventually gave up and took the 23 men off the ship.  Scott and the remainder sailed for Boston on November 20.  Of the 23 men arrested by the British, 13 were executed. Continue Reading

27

Dale Price Explains Why I Am Worried

My friend Dale Price at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings has often supplied me with blogging ideas that I have stolen borrowed.  Unfortunately he hasn’t been blogging much lately.  That was broken with a post on Pope Francis which sums up many of the reactions I have been having:

 

 

 

 

 

In which I exile myself from polite company and retreat to the margins of Catholic society.

This is basically how I feel. Like the person Sutherland is pointing at the end of Invasion. Essentially, the Catholic world I know has been seized by body snatchers and is about to notice that I am not lining up to board the F1 to the Promised Land.
Yes, this is about the interview. Quick summary of my reaction: some very good parts, some easily-soundbitten ammo I can expect to see all over the place, but is still explicable in terms of preaching the Gospel, and a disastrous, giant ticking nuke about to blow us back to the Church of the 1970s.
SHRREEEEEEEIIIIIK!
The Interview Was Candy Mountain Awesome, Charlie! Everyone agrees–it was full of candy, and joy, and joyness! You don’t believe that?

Yeah, well, I can live with that. Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders.
[Just to make the inevitable scream of “That’s unclean Protestant talk!” a little easier.]
As I see it, there are three serious problems, two of which are related to how it’s being received and processed, and the third is the nuke.
Problem 1: We Are All Ultramontaines Now.

Don’t drag me into this, Americain. My Papa Pius would have cracked your skulls
as the opener for the ritual of excommunication. Then he’d have gotten mean.

Including–nay, especially!–people who have spent a generation ignoring, deriding or spinning away every encyclical, apostolic letter and motu proprio that flowed forth from the pens of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

But an interview–in America Magazine–well, my God! It’s new tablets from Sinai! And we can play historical critical whiteout with the parts we don’t like! Is it Elohist or Deuternomic? Forget it–we’ll figure it out later! Anyway–miraculously–we agree with the whole thing! (More of which later.)

A 44th Edition including The Interview! is no doubt being prepared as we speak.

As an aside, it’s good to see the Jesuits at America released from the dungeons after the long night of Benedict the Destroyer. The shackle chafe marks being no doubt hidden under the long sleeves. Some advice: sunlight and a vitamin regimen will banish the sallow complexions.

But, really, uniform praise–especially this wall-to-wall and adulatory–makes me uneasy. There’s something fundamentally off about it. In fact, the adulation being heaped on Pope Francis is general is…odd. I mean, it’s almost like he’s being given a prize for not being Benedict. That’s certainly the case on the Catholic left, which is transferring its creepy cultish adoration of Obama, the Not-Bush, to Francis, the Not-Benedict. Benedict the Rottweiler, Who Can be Safely Archived and Forgotten Like a Bad Dream In This New Age.
What the right’s deal is, I don’t know. The Pope Says We Must Re-Balance, So We Must Re-Balance. It smacks too much of a new CEO coming in, and everyone having to get with the program. At a minimum, it’s a feverish celebration that has no parallels with how it received Benedict, which was more defensive and apologetic, and less effusive in its praise.
You saw nothing in the interview heralding trouble, eh? Nothing at all?
The fact both are united in swoonery suggests that one or the other is missing something. And someone is, as we shall see in Problem 3. Continue Reading
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You Have a Duty To “Ban” Books

This weekend marks the conclusion of Banned Books Week, a festival of moral preening in which students, librarians, teachers and others congratulate themselves for bravely demanding that various books not be removed from library (typically school library) shelves.

The event ties in to basic modern tropes of progress and freedom. After all, says the common wisdom, who burned books? Nazis. And crazy people in the middle ages who were afraid of progress. We don’t want to be like them, do we?

Of course, choosing not to have a book in your collection is not really “banning” it (as in making it forbidden to own) nor is it “censoring” it (removing parts). So to start with much of the furor over the “banning” of books is overwrought. Continue Reading

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Twelve O’Clock High

Something for the weekend.  The score from the movie Twelve O’clock High (1949).  A film shorn of any Hollywood glamor or heroics, it tells the story of the fictional 918th bomb group as it pioneers daylight precision bombing in the early days of the Eighth Air Force in England and suffers harrowing losses as a result.  Veterans of the Eighth Air Force applauded the film for its stark realism and its demonstration of the impact of war on the men called upon to fight it.  Anyone who has not seen this masterpiece should do so as quickly as possible.

Here is the opening of the film:

Continue Reading

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Coming Soon to a Mall Near You?

The horrific mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya by Somali Islamic terrorists continues to unfold:

 

 

Yesterday, soldiers and doctors who were  among the first people into the mall after it was reclaimed on Tuesday, spoke of  the horrifying scenes inside.

‘You find people with hooks hanging from the  roof,’ said one Kenyan doctor, who asked not to be named.

‘They removed eyes, ears, nose. They get your  hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the  blood. 

‘They drive knives inside a child’s body. 

‘Actually if you look at all the bodies,  unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are  ripped by pliers. Here it was pain.’

A soldier, who took pictures at a bread  counter and at the ArtCaffe, said he was so traumatised by what he saw he has  had to seek counselling.

Bomb disposal experts with sniffer dogs were  yesterday painstakingly combing the part of the building still standing for  explosives before clearing forensic officers, police and troops to search for  bodies. Continue Reading

17

The Alamo, John Wayne and Faith

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.

Rudyard Kipling, from Recessional

Interesting that John Wayne, who directed the film The Alamo, would have a religious debate just before the final battle scene.  However, as I have written in a post which may be read here, John Wayne, death bed Catholic convert, had a strong faith in God, even as he realized that in many ways he was not living properly.  The film The Alamo was first and foremost Wayne’s love note to America, but I think Wayne was also making a statement about faith in God.

Wayne’s personal relationship with God is represented well in this clip, beginning at 9:26, that did not make it into the film.

 

Continue Reading

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Various & Sundry, 9/26/13

Little Sisters of the Poor v. HHS

It could be the title of a Supreme Court Case down the line.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized a contraception mandate that ignores the fact groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor are religious organizations, according to a lawsuit filed to protect them against fines for refusing to comply with an Obamacare mandate.

“We cannot violate our vows by participating in the government’s program to provide access to abortion-inducing drugs,” Sister Loraine Marie said of a class-action lawsuit filed against the mandate on behalf of multiple religious organizations that provide health benefits.

McCain the Traitor

Eh, so the government is cracking down on nuns. John McCain knows who the real bad guy is – that whacky Ted Cruz. This has inspired some righteous Jeff Goldstein indignation.

Lacking the courage to hold a colloquy with Cruz during his twenty hours of filibustering (yes, filibustering — as it was intended, remember?), Republican Senator John McCain — in collusion with Democrat Majority Leader Reid and the execrable Chuck Schumer (both of whom fearing intellectual embarrassment, also lacked the stones to go head to head with Cruz, who had previously shredded the hapless demagoguing of Dick Durbin and turned Tim Kaine into a feckless foil) — took to the floor afterwards and made the case for surrender and “settled law”,  his pitch being that, because Obama won the 2012 election, the issue of ObamaCare had been decided.

Forget for a moment that the GOP establishment, who had previously given us an awful McCain candidacy, gave us as a candidate the one man who could not fight Obama on ObamaCare, he and his staff, in conjunction with Ted Kennedy, having been the architects of the state usurpation of private healthcare; instead, pay attention to the underlying assertion McCain is making, which comes down to this:  rather than a system of checks and balances (the people also elected, for instance, a GOP House), McCain believes the US to have a set of revolving kings whose agendas are set once they win elections.  That is, he’s both pro-authoritarian and pro-majoritarian — though only when it suits his purposes.

And he’s just getting started.

I can’t imagine why Jeff would have cause to distrust McCain.

A Citizen Journalist Responds to the Critics of Ted Cruz

Goldstein was truly on fire today.

If you don’t mind a tiny bit of constructive criticism, let me remind you that the McCain / Romney presidencies never really went as planned.  Similarly, the decision to balk at the very constituency that brought you to power in the House has, as you know, not given you the kind of positive press from the left-leaning legacy media that you expected it might.

Which is all just a very short way of saying you really aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are — and in fact, on the scale of political smarts, your nuance has perpetually pushed you leftward, which, while on the powerful authoritarian end of the political spectrum, nevertheless suffers from  being on the dumbest and most dangerous end, as well.

As someone who initially didn’t feel very strongly about the Defund Obamacare approach, it’s getting harder and harder to stomach the fecklessness of large segments of the GOP. Certainly Cruz, Lee, et al. had a rather difficult hill to climb, but the Brutus treatment offered them by their fellow “Republicans” has made any attempt at change impossible.

SHOCKING NEWS!

To the surprise of no one with functioning brain cells, it turns out red light cameras may not be about safety after all.

Schools Are Not Parents

Charles Cooke has this crazy notion that what children do in the privacy of their own homes shouldn’t lead them to getting suspended at school.

Justify My Time

I watched 30 seconds of Madonna’s 17 minute video and wanted to scratch my eyes out with a dull screwdriver. Fortunately Ace and others had enough patience to sit through it all and offer some hilarious commentary.

First World Tears

Great insight from Simcha Fisher. You know what – just because you’re not a starving African child doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a bad day.

But does that mean we need to go around with a cheerful grin pasted on our mugs all day long, no matter what?  I don’t know about you, but that would not help me in the slightest (and yes, I have tried!).  If we find ourselves in a situation that tries our patience, exhausts us, makes us angry or helpless, it really doesn’t help to say, “Yes, but at least I’m not starving in a lice infested mud hut!”  All I get from that is deeper in my funk:  not only am I better off than 90% of the women in the world, I’m an ungrateful, whiny brat!  Somehow, this thought does not catapult me into good cheer.

Here’s the key: there’s a big difference between admitting we’re suffering, and constantly complaining about it.   it’s perfectly fine to admit that we’re suffering — yes, even if someone else somewhere in the world is suffering more.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with saying, “This stinks.”  But what matters is what you do next, once you look suffering in the face and call it for what it is.

10 Travel Tips

Frankly, number two on the list has always worked for me.

13

Perennial Adolescence

 

Strange, I had always taken your highness for a perennial adolescent, who cared only for his pleasures.

Bishop Folliot to Henry II in the screenplay for the film Becket

The modern world seems intent on destroying both childhood and adulthood:

 

The idea that suddenly at 18 you’re an adult just doesn’t quite ring true,” says child psychologist Laverne Antrobus, who works at London’s Tavistock Clinic.

“My experience of young people is that they still need quite a considerable amount of support and help beyond that age.”

Child psychologists are being given a new directive which is that the age range they work with is increasing from 0-18 to 0-25.

“We are becoming much more aware and appreciating development beyond [the age of 18] and I think it’s a really good initiative,” says Antrobus, who believes we often rush through childhood, wanting our youngsters to achieve key milestones very quickly

Go here to read the rest at BBC News Magazine.  The war on childhood has been on course for quite a long time:  easy divorce, sex education reaching down to kindergarten, using drugs to control perfectly normal children, and zero tolerance policies for child hood play that boys have engaged in as long as there have been boys.  For about the same time period, adolescence has been lengthening, so a brief period of tolerated irresponsibility, circa 14-18, has now been broadened to at least 30.  I see it in my legal practice, as paternity cases have tended to replace divorce cases for clients in their twenties who, to my jaundiced eye, have about as much of a chance of being responsible parents as a mouse has of learning algebra. Continue Reading

25

If the Modern Media Had Covered Christ

Wanted  Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Jennifer Roback Morse at Aleteia:

 

 

 

The headlines swirled around the Levant as itinerant preacher Jesus of Nazareth reportedly excuses both prostitutes and the men who frequent them. The latest controversy came when Jesus, whose followers believe is the Son of God, retold the story of a family whose younger son had squandered the family inheritance with prostitutes.

Roman observers speculate that this is a sign of a new openness to Roman social mores.

Lucius Gaius Paterculus, spokesman for the Herod Administration, said, “We have always found these Hebrews amusing, with all their sexual hang-ups.  This is the Roman Empire; they need to get with the times. Prostitution is not so bad. Maybe this Jesus preacher will turn the tide and lead these backward people into the modern world.”

Earlier this spring, Jesus created a sensation when he protected an alleged adulteress, and even broke bread with her.  

Reuben bar Timeus told the Guardian, “I recognized my father in that story Jesus told.  He can’t disguise the characters in his parables enough to hide the fact that he was talking about my putz of a brother and my pathetic father. I’m considering a slander suit. This Jesus guy should keep his mouth shut and show some respect to our family.” Continue Reading

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Pope Francis Excommunicates and Laicizes Dissident Australian Priest

Mr. (formerly Fr.) Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia expressed “shock” at being the first priest to be excommunicated by Pope Francis for advocacy of women’s ordination, homosexual marriage, and other offenses.

The letter, a copy of which NCR obtained and translated, accuses Reynolds of heresy (Canon 751) and determined he incurred latae sententiae excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” (Canon 1367). It also referenced Canon 1369 (speaking publicly against church teaching) in its review of the case.

“Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff having heard the presentation of this Congregation concerning the grave reason for action … of [Fr. Greg Reynolds] of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, all the preceding actions to be taken having been followed, with a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse, has decreed dismissal from the clerical state is to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church,” read the document, signed by Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the congregation, and his secretary, Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria.

Excommunication refers to the severest measure of censure for Catholics and forbids an individual from participation in any eucharistic celebration or other worship ceremonies; the reception or celebration of sacraments; and holding any ecclesiastical or governing role in the church.

The document, dated May 31 — coincidentally Reynolds’ 60th birthday — provided no reason for the excommunication. However, a separate letter sent Friday from Hart to his archdiocesan priests indicated Reynolds’ support of women’s ordination was a primary reason.

“The decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church and his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest,” [Melbourne Archbishop Denis] Hart wrote.

But Reynolds said he believes the excommunication also resulted from his support of the gay community. He told NCR that in the last two years, he has attended rallies in Melbourne advocating same-sex marriage and has officiated at mass weddings of gay couples on the steps of Parliament — “all unofficial of course.”

Continue Reading

3

Pastoral Letter on Abraham Lincoln

These communities, by their representatives in old  Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We  hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are  created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with  certain unalienable rights; that among these are life,  liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic  interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their  lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of  the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to  all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their  enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and  likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded,  and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole  race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized  upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide  their children and their children’s children, and the countless  myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise  statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity  to breed tyrants, and so they established these great  self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man,  some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that  none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life,  liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look  up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to  renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth,  and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues  might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would  hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles  on which the temple of liberty was being built.

Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858

 

The things you find while wandering the Internet!  Here is a pastoral letter on Abraham Lincoln written in 2009 on the bicentennial of his birth by Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Wilmington Diocese:

 

MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: REMEMBERING PRESIDENT LINCOLN ON THE BICENTENNIAL OF HIS BIRTH 1

A Pastoral Letter to the People of the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop W. Francis Malooly

Abraham Lincoln was born 200 years ago today.  Lincoln was not a Catholic.  Nor was he a member of any organized denomination and his religious views are in many ways obscure.  Some aspects of his legacy are still controversial almost 150 years after his death.  Yet, by any measure Abraham Lincoln was one of America’s greatest statesmen and his speeches and writings contain some of the most profound thinking relating to religion that have been produced in this nation.  Moreover, in his life we can see many of the classic Christian virtues; virtues that are as relevant today as they ever were in the past; virtues that help explain why Lincoln’s legacy is so large.


Before turning to Lincoln, himself, though, it is useful to first consider another statesman whose life reflects those virtues.  In 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Saint Thomas More to be the patron of statesmen and politicians: “There are many reasons for proclaiming Thomas More Patron of statesmen and people in public life.  Among these is the need felt by the world of politics and public administration for credible role models able to indicate the path of truth at a time in history when difficult challenges and crucial responsibilities are increasing…His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue.”
2 


My predecessor, Bishop Michael Saltarelli, inspired by Pope John Paul II’s proclamation, issued in September 2004 his Litany of Saint Thomas More, Martyr and Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers which concludes with the prayer: “Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life – the foundation of all other human rights.”
3    With this Litany, Bishop Saltarelli emphasized that it is important for each of us to remember politicians and public servants daily in our prayers.  He also placed the Diocese of Wilmington at the forefront of efforts to foster and promote devotion to Saint Thomas More. As G.K. Chesterton so prophetically stated in 1929 “Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time.”4


I followed Bishop Saltarelli’s lead this fall when I reissued the Litany and asked every parish to pray it at the end of every Mass in the Diocese the weekend of October 25-26, 2008.
5


Saint Thomas More and Abraham Lincoln were two very different men, living in different countries and separated by centuries.  Nevertheless, they shared the view that public service required them to pursue the public good rather than their own personal ends, even to the point that they put their lives at risk-and ultimately died-in that pursuit.  Indeed, Lincoln and St. Thomas shared many virtues-virtues that are key to effective public service.  In Lincoln’s life, Catholics and non-Catholics alike can see so many dimensions of the beatitudes, the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity) and the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance) lived vibrantly.   We can see through the lens of Abraham Lincoln so many of the lessons that were taught in the life of Saint Thomas More – that virtue in the life of the politician extends to both their public and their private lives, that magnanimity and charity lead to solid decisions in moments of crisis and confusion, and that governance is above all, an exercise in virtue.  Continue Reading

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Popular “Science” Shuts Down Comments

 

 

 

Popular Science is shutting down comments.  Why?  Well I guess because robust debate can be bad for science:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Continue Reading

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September 24, 1863: Hooker to Chattanooga

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was an irascible and cantankerous man who didn’t suffer fools, or anyone else for that matter, gladly.  He was often a pain to be around.  However he more than made up for his lack of people skills, with driving energy, imagination and tenacity.  These characteristics all came into play in the wake of the Union defeat at Chickamauga.

On the night of September 23, 1863 he went to the White House and took the drastic step of summoning the President from his bed to attend a hurried council of war.  Stanton proposed to dispatch to Chattanooga from the Army of the Potomac the XI and XII corps, some 20,000 men.  Lincoln was dubious that the troops, having to travel some 1200 miles by rail, would arrive in time to aid Rosecrans.  Stanton came prepared for this objection.  Present at the meeting was Colonel D.C. McCallum, head of the Department of Military Railroads, who, at Stanton’s prompting, promised that the troops could be shipped in a week, and vouched for it with his life.  Lincoln, reassured, agreed to the plan.  The expedition was to be commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker, the former commander of the Army of the Potomac given another opportunity to play a major role in the War. Continue Reading

1

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Grover Cleveland

grover-cleveland

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

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Moral Laws vs Moral Fashions

Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins managed to grab himself some less than positive reactions a couple weeks ago when he gave an interview in which he dismissed the “mild pedophilia” which was common in the English school system of his youth as not being such a big deal if one considered the climate of the times. Justifying this attitude Dawkins explained:

I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.

The points most people drew from this are:

– Actually 18th and 19th century racism was pretty bad, many at the time did recognize it, and we should in fact condemn it.

– Identifying “mild pedophilia” as some kind of okay thing is something only a sick person with no morals would do.

I don’t disagree with these points. Nor is this new territory for Dawkins, who has something of a history of trivializing child abuse. He’s the one who argued, “Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place.”

But I think there’s a more general tendency to be seen in Dawkins’ comments which is worth discussing as well. As a thoroughgoing materialist, Dawkins doesn’t recognize the existence of objectively real moral laws. Rather, what he sees is a sort of moral fashion. In the 18th and 19th centuries, racism was common and socially acceptable. Even “good people” who you’d want to have in your drawing room were often highly racist. (After all, it paid to be racist: slaves were the most valuable capital assets in some whole countries, including the US.) Continue Reading

23

No communion for Ms. Nancy?

 

There’s nothing newsworthy when it comes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) advocating a woman’s right to abortion.  After all, she earned a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and last June, when asked by a reporter if there is a moral difference between aborting a baby at 26 weeks and what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did in Philadelphia in delivering babies alive at 23 weeks and then severing their spinal cords to kill them, she said:

As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics, and that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.

pelosi

“practicing and respectful”

Ms. Pelosi’s statement didn’t escape the scrutiny of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, apart from Pope Francis.

Cardinal Burke’s analysis of Ms. Pelosi’s public statements concerning abortion?

According to a July 2013 interview in The Wanderer, Ms. Pelosi has violated Canon 915 which applies to “a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin–cooperating with the crime of procured abortion–and still professes to be a devout Catholic.”  In the Cardinal’s view, Ms. Pelosi has divorced her faith from her public life.  Therefore, she is not serving her brothers and sisters in the way that she must–in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.

Speaking truth to power, Cardinal Burke minced no words:

What Congresswoman Pelosi is speaking of is not particular confessional beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. It belongs to the natural moral law which is written on every human heart and which the Catholic Church obviously also teaches: that natural moral law which is so wonderfully illumined for us by Our Lord Jesus Christ by His saving teaching, but most of all by His Passion and death.

To say that these are simply questions of Catholic faith which have no part in politics is just false and wrong. I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is. I invite her to reflect upon the example of St. Thomas More who acted rightly in a similar situation even at the cost of his life.

For this violation of Canon 915, Cardinal Burke asserted that Ms. Pelosi must be denied Communion.

What makes the Cardinal’s judgment newsworthy are two, more recent events: 1) Pope Francis reappointed Cardinal Burke to his position last week and 2) Pope Francis said in an interview last week that the Church must be careful not to alienate sinners but, instead, become more welcoming and inclusive of them.

dead horses

Drawing a line in the sand by denying Ms. Pelosi communion seems to put Cardinal Burke’s jurisprudence at odds with Pope Francis’ call for greater pastoral sensitivity.

 

 

To read the Wanderer article, click on the following link:
http://www.thewandererpress.com/ee/wandererpress/index.php?pSetup=wandererpress&curDate=20130905

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Ditto

Pat Archbold has a post that I completely agree with in reference to Pope Francis:

 

During the last 6 months, the Catholic media has witnessed a virtual  straw-man genocide calling out anyone among the ranks who speaks in assertive  tones or questions the prudence of a papal statement.

I have witnessed so many hyphenated theological-sounding pejoratives used to  describe well-meaning faithful Catholics who seek only the salvation of souls  that I shudder. I have seen my fellow travelers accused by prominent Catholic  commentators of being relentlessly critical, refusing to see progress in the  Church, of hating the sinner along with the sin, of wanting to bring back a  Church that will never be again, and being reflexively against the pope.

It seems to me that we have arrived at the point where mere disagreement on  tactics is viewed as akin to treason. 

I have been accused of many of these things and it disheartens me more than  I can say.

So I wish to clear a few things up. Surely I don’t speak for all the  accused, but I think that enough are similar to me to warrant comment.

First, I am not reflexively against the Pope because I suspect he is more  ‘liberal’ than me.  This is not true, I like the Pope and have defended  him.  I think that some of his outreach and man-of-the-people pope-ulism  has been wonderful.  I don’t care where he lives or that he washed a  woman’s feet or any such nonsense.  He is the Pope, he is fully Catholic  and totally ‘a man of the Church,’ of this I have no doubt. 

So it is that I have defended the Pope from wild misrepresentations of the  media.  Yet, at the same time I cannot help but wonder why this continues  to happen.  If off-the-cuff remarks are continually misinterpreted, both  purposefully and not, in ways that either contradict Church teaching or minimize  the importance of critical issues, at some point there needs to be recognition  of this reality. 

The bottom line is that many people, even most people, will only hear the  misinterpretation and the real message ‘either do I condemn thee: go, and sin  no more‘ is lost.  At some point it is not sufficient to  merely criticize the media and the method should be re-examined.

When I read the interview the Pope gave there was much to be admired in  it.  But I found some parts to be worrisome.  I understand what the  Pope is trying to do by emphasizing the pastoral before the doctrinal.   Truly, I get it.  But I wonder how, in its essence, that is any different  that what the Church has tried to do over the past 45 years?  As somebody  who grew up in a post-Vatican II Church, I can assure you that the emphasis has  not been dogma.  In my experience, it has been all pastoral, all the  time.  Continue Reading

2

The Martyrdom of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion

Brandon over at Siris has a post upon on a saint story that I had not heard before (which isn’t saying much, there’s a huge number of saints and I don’t claim to be the world’s most well read about them):

It won’t get celebrated in any liturgies today, since it is Sunday, but today is the memorial for the Theban Legion. The Theban Legion, as its name implies, was originally garrisoned in Thebes, Egypt; but, it is said, they were sent by the Emperor Maximian to Gaul to try to keep things in order there. This is very plausible historically, although not all details of the Theban Legion legend are. The commander of the Legion was Mauritius, usually known as St. Maurice, and a lot of the officers, at least, were Christians — here, too, it was not an uncommon thing for soldiers in this period to be members of an eastern religion like Christianity, particularly on the borders of the empire. The Theban Legion, according to legend, was given the order to sacrifice to the emperor, and St. Maurice and his officers refused. Given the close connection between legions and their officers, it is perhaps not surprising that the entire legion followed their lead. In response the legion was decimated — every tenth man killed — as punishment; and when the legion still refused to sacrifice, it was repeatedly decimated until all were dead.

The plausibilities and implausibilities are interesting here — it’s implausible that there was an entire legion that was Christian to a man, but soldiers sticking with their captains is not implausible, and the Gaul campaign is perfectly historical, although our information about it is somewhat sketchy. Our earliest definite reference to the Theban Legion is about a century and a half afterwards, which leaves time for embroidery, and some historians have concluded, on the basis of what other information we have about that campaign (how many soldiers seem to have been involved, etc.), that if it occurred, it was probably a cohort, not an entire legion, that was martyred, or to put it another way, probably several hundred men rather than several thousand. That’s a plausible way in which legends form around historical events.

There are various works of art showing St. Maurice and the martyrdom of the Theban legion.

Apparently some medieval artists assumed that since the legion was from Egypt, St. Maurice must have been black (this wouldn’t necessarily be the case, obviously), as shown in this statue from the Cathedral of Magdeburg:

5

It Isn’t Stealing When the Government Does It

 

 

All those relying on private pensions to aid them in their inaptly named “Golden Years” take note:

 

 

Poland has pulled a destructive stunt worthy of Argentina. It is seizing half of the Polish people’s private retirement funds. All government bonds in these pension-plan portfolios are being forcibly transferred to the government. Since the bonds are no longer held by investors, the government is declaring that the national debt has been reduced by the face value of those securities. Neat trick, including the spin on this Soviet-style seizure: The government is calling the nationalization a “pension overhaul.” The ghosts of Stalin and Lenin must be smiling. Continue Reading

Visiting the Lincolns: A Review

On Saturday night, September 21, 2013, I was master of ceremonies at a performance of “Visiting the Lincolns” performed by Michael Krebs and Debra Ann Miller in Dwight, Illinois.  The performance was masterful.  Mr. Krebs and Ms. Miller have been performing as Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln since the mid-nineties and they gave a highly polished two person play.  The audience was very much a part of the play, as the premise of the play is that the members of the audience are unexpected visitors at the White House who appear just before the Lincolns on Good Friday 1865 are due to leave to attend a play at Ford’s Theater.

The play is a mixture of comedy and drama as the Lincolns deal with the task of attempting to entertain their unexpected guests.  Mrs. Lincoln serves lemon juice and cookies as she and Mr. Lincoln discuss their courtship,  and their sorrow over the deaths  of their sons Eddie and Willie, as well as Emancipation, the War and the other events that made the Civil War an unforgettable crossroads in American history.  Mr. Krebs and Ms. Miller demonstrate both the bickering, that the Lincolns did on occasion historically, and their deep love for each other.  The play is enlivened with some of Lincoln’s stories and constant interaction between the Lincolns and the audience.  One of the more dramatic episodes occurs when Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln are reading amusing dispatches from Union generals and criticizing the incompetence that was often a hallmark of Union high command, when Mrs. Lincoln lightheartedly begins reading Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby, not realizing that the letter consoled a mother for the loss of her five sons, and the reading awakens Mary’s constant grief over the loss of her two sons.  It made the dramatic hallmark for the evening. Continue Reading

4

Disappointment by the Book

Cat Book Reviewer

Another damned thick book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?

Prince William upon being presented by Gibbon with a copy of a volume in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

 

 

My co-blogger Darwin Catholic has an intriguing post on the subject of books that a reader is supposed to like but didn’t.  Go here to read his post.  My response:

Piers the Plowman-Never have been able to make my way through that boring field.

Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories-I attempted to read them when young but got stuck in A Study in Scarlet.  The odd thing is that I love Holmes as a character in film and in books written by other  authors which feature Holmes.

Stranger in a Strange Land-I have read everything Heinlein wrote and I was saddened to read the story that began his “dirty old pervert” phase.

Douglas Southall Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants-I made it through all three volumes on the third attempt.  Freeman’s erudition is vast and his scholarship impeccable, but he managed a near impossible feat:  he made the Civil War seem dull to me. Continue Reading

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Freedom of Speech in the Age of Obama

“for if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

George Washington

From The Baltimore Sun:

The format of the forum did not allow the public to stand and ask a question. Instead, those who wanted questions answered had to write them on a piece of paper. Dance read the questions and had members of a panel, which included state schools Superintendent Lillian Lowery, answer them.

When Small started speaking, Dance told him that he believed his question would be answered, but Small continued to talk. After a couple of minutes, a security guard confronted Small, saying, “Let’s go. Let’s go.”

Small, 46, asked him if he was an officer and the security guard, an off-duty Baltimore County police officer, showed him a badge. The officer grabbed Small’s arm and pulled him toward the aisle. The audience gasped and some people sitting nearby got out of their seats.

As he was being taken out, Small said, “Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle.” Then he said, “Is this America?”

The officer pushed Small and then escorted him into the hall, handcuffed him and had him sit on the curb in front of the school. He was taken to the Towson precinct and detained. Small was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to 10 years in prison, and disturbing a school operation, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to six months.

The police report said that Dance’s chief of staff, Michele Prumo, who was standing on the side of the auditorium, had asked the officer to walk over and calm Small down. The report also said Small had attempted to push the officer away when he first confronted him. Continue Reading

2

Abraham Lincoln in Dwight, Illinois at 7:00 PM, September 21, 2013

Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all,
That which is gendered in the wilderness
From lonely prairies and God’s tenderness.
Imperial soul, star of a weedy stream,
Born where the ghosts of buffaloes still dream,
Whose spirit hoof-beats storm above his grave,
Above that breast of earth and prairie-fire—
Fire that freed the slave.
 
Vachel Lindsay

 

Well, today is the day.  Every year my little town has a festival, Dwight Harvest Days.  We draw tens of thousands of visitors from all around for parades, a flea market, a craft show, rides, a 5k run, and many, many other events.

This year, I have arranged, well I should say the Dwight Rotary Club, of which I have been a member for 28 years, has arranged, for Michael Krebs and Debra Ann Miller to bring their presentations of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln to the Dwight High School Auditorium, 801 South Franklin Street in Dwight on September 21, 2013, tonight, at 7:00 PM.  The presentation is free and I think we will have a huge turnout, especially among students.

I have long followed the career of Mr. Krebs and I believe he is the king of Lincoln presenters.  Some samples of his work:

 

 

I am looking forward to this immensely.  It speaks well of the Great Emancipator in our national memory that he is by far the President most portrayed by historical re-enactors.  Lincoln calls to something very deep in the American soul.  Men portraying Lincoln go back to the first decade of the last century, while men and women who knew Lincoln were still alive, but were rapidly departing this vale of tears.  They kept alive a memory of Lincoln as a man and not just a mere statue or a historical personage trapped in books.  Those early Lincoln presenters gave the models by which Lincoln was portrayed in the new technology of film.  Through the efforts of the Lincoln presenters the memory of Lincoln is kept ever green.

Like most counties in Central Illinois, we have our Lincoln sites, places Lincoln visited while he was riding the circuit as a lawyer. In those more civilized days, courts in most areas only operated part time. On a court day, the judges and attorneys would arrive at a county seat, and the trials on the court’s docket would be called and tried. So it was on May 18, 1840 when Lincoln and his fellow attorneys rode into Pontiac, the then tiny county seat of Livingston County, for the first ever session of the Circuit Court in Livingston County. Continue Reading

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Where Does Tom Delay Go to Get His Reputation Back?

 

 

How the Democrats hated Tom Delay.  An in your face partisan, the majority leader of the House was one of the key men in Congress for raising funds for Congressional elections for the GOP.  A former bug exterminator, he was first elected to the House in 1984.  He earned a record as an uncompromising conservative and pro-lifer.  A reformed self -confessed alcoholic and adulterer, he had a religious conversion in 1985.   In 2005 he fought for Federal intervention to attempt to save the life of Terry Schiavo, which he described as his proudest moment in Congress.  He was instrumental in the Republicans capturing the House and transforming Texas from a Democrat to a Republican state.  No wonder he was a Devil figure on  the Left.

In 2005 bottom feeding Democrat District Attorney Ronnie Earle of Travis Country, Texas indicted Delay for violation of an arcane Texas campaign finance law.  Earle had been gunning for Delay since 2002 and gone through eight grand juries in the course of his investigation.    This indictment was so flimsy that the charge against Delay was dismissed by the Democrat judge hearing the case.  A second grand jury refused to indict to the visible anger of the DA according to one of the members of the grand jury.  A third grand jury indicted Delay on charges of conspiracy to launder campaign money.  (To show just how partisan Earle was, during his investigation of Delay he had a left wing film maker filming the investigation.)  On November 24, 2010 Delay was convicted.  Delay was sentenced to three years in prison, stayed pending appeal.  Yesterday the conviction was overturned:

For the second time in the last few years, a high-profile corruption prosecution against a Republican member of Congress has collapsed.  This time, it’s Tom DeLay that gets to celebrate, as an appeals court not only overturned his conviction but ordered an acquittal:

A Texas appeals court has overturned the money laundering conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling on Thursday that DeLay had been acquitted. DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison, but his sentence was on hold while his case made its way through the appellate process. …

In Thursday’s ruling, the judges wrote “we reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal.”

Unless the state appeals the ruling, this means that DeLay cannot be retried on the charges.  The court could have ordered a new trial if it restrained its scope to just procedural issues.  However, the court apparently believed that the prosecution simply couldn’t make a case for wrongdoing, and as a result took the relatively rare step of overturning a jury’s findings on guilt.

Their opinion makes it clear that the court had little regard for the state’s case: Continue Reading

57

Do You Really Believe Pope Francis Said The Church Needs To Stop Talking About Abortion and Gay Marriage?

Pope Francis has given an extended interview which was published simultaneously today by several Jesuit magazines around the world, with America providing the English version.

The interview is good and very much worth reading, and of course the noise machine (ranging from the New York Times to left wing, dissenting Catholics) has kicked into full gear, radically distorting the pope’s message to claim:

Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church on Thursday with the publication of his remarks that the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics.

Perhaps because the interview itself is long and wide ranging, a disturbing number of people, even ones who should know better, have taken the reporting of the NY Times and other biased sources at face value, and this is too bad because not only is the message these sources are giving untrue, but it obscures a very, very important point about the faith that Pope Francis actually is making.

The interviewer asks the pope, “What does the church need most at this historic moment? Do we need reforms? What are your wishes for the church in the coming years? What kind of church do you dream of?” He replies:

I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.
Continue Reading

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Pharisees, Reactionaries and Mark Shea

I cannot possibly improve on what Pat Archbold wrote at Creative Minority Report:

 

God, I thank you that I am not like other people”

 

From the eminently huggable Mark Shea’s “Bed-wetting Reactionary Wusses…”

What ties everything in Reactionary culture together better than any other theory I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s not that Reactionaries think the Church is evangelizing wrong and want to do it better.  It’s that they hate the whole idea of bringing new people into the Church at all (except for a vanishingly small sample of like-minded Reactionaries) and seem to be bent on making sure as few are allowed in and as many are driven away as possible.

I agree with Mark.  Wouldn’t it be much better if all the Reactionary Wuss –holes in the Church who are not as open, loving, and tolerant as us would just get the the F out.
File this in the “irony is lost on them” department.

10

Various & Sundry

Poking the Pope

Fr. Dwight Longenecker provides not only a good analysis of the Papal interview that was republished in America, but offers one of the most clear-headed commentaries about Pope Francis’s approach that I’ve read everywhere. Long story short, we need to remember that Pope Francis comes from a much different cultural setting.

All this is well and good, but I have some worries. Every pope is both empowered and limited by his own history and culture. Pope Francis is from a generation and a culture which is Catholic. For the most part everyone is Catholic. They understand the basics of Christian morality and the fundamentals of the Christian story and the basic elements of the Catholic faith. Too often, however, that Catholic culture was impeded by a Church that had become overly clericalized, legalistic, condemnatory and hide bound.

Francis’ message to that kind of Catholic culture and that kind of Catholic Church is sharp and necessary. It’s fresh, creative and powerful. He’s basically saying, “Get out of your churchiness and get into the streets. Be with the people and share your faith together and bring Christ to those who have forgotten how to find him in the church.” As such his message is relevant and vital for the Church in South America and Central America where Catholics are being wooed away by Evangelicals who do present a vital, relevant and compassionately involved message.”

Francis’ message of forgiveness, acceptance and embrace of all works well enough in a Catholic culture where people know they are sinners and have a basic understanding of confession, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. The problem in translating Francis’ message to post-Christian Europe, Liberal Protestant America and other developed countries is that most of the population either have no concept of sin in their lives or they deny the idea completely. Therefore Francis’ message of forgiveness, acceptance and embrace simply comes across as condoning whatever lifestyle people happen to have chosen. Catholics might make the distinction between loving the sinner and hating the sin…non Catholics both don’t and won’t make that distinction. Consequently, the Pope’s message simply comes across as him being a real nice guy who doesn’t judge anybody–like everybody else in our relativistic society.

Much more at the link.

Sinking Deeper

Just in case the article I linked to yesterday about the debt wasn’t depressing enough, here’s Kevin Williamson.

The CBO, to its credit, has attempted to get a handle on how heavily that growing debt will weigh upon economic activity in the next 25 years, and the answer is worrisome: Taking into account the economic effect of those deficits, instead of our debt hitting 100 percent of GDP in 25 years, CBO estimates that it will hit something closer to 200 percent of GDP — or 250 percent under the least sunny scenario. (There are even less-sunny scenarios, but the CBO does not believe that it can model them reliably.) Note here that these estimates also assume that the sequester and other deficit-control measures remain in place, which would consequently mean that spending on everything outside of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and debt service — everything else the government does — will be reduced far below current levels, in fact reverting to pre–World War II levels as a share of GDP. That is unlikely to be the case. Assume, then, that those spending and debt numbers look worse to the extent that the ladies and gentlemen in Washington lack the brass to resist demands for more domestic spending — and more military spending, too. The loudest and most insistent critics of the sequester have been defense contractors and the cluster of politicians in Maryland and Northern Virginia most sensitive to their complaints.

Archbishop Broglio Statement on Gay Marriage

An important statement from the Archbishop for the Military Services.

Irony Can Be So Ironic

Indeed Catholic apologists ought to really be careful about how they persuade people. Tone is just so important.

Putin May Seek Fourth Term

Truly the collapse of the Communist government was a marvelous thing. Imagine if Russians were still ruled by an autocratic regime that never relinquished power.

About Those #%^$skins

Rick Reilly has this insane notion that actual Native Americans’ views on the name of the Washington football team might be more relevant than those of rich white liberals. Silly Rick.

Of course this controversy could really heat up when the Redskins reach the Super Bowl again. So look to hear plenty about this in another decade or two.

2

September 19, 1863: Battle of Chickamauga Begins

An intelligent observer of the American Civil War in early September of 1863 would have reached certain conclusions about the War thus far:

1.  The Union was losing the War in the East.  After many spectacular battles and huge casualties, the battle lines in Virginia remained much the same as they had early in the War:  the Union controlled the northern third of the Old Dominion state and the South controlled the Southern two-thirds.  A stalemate of more than two years duration favored the Confederacy.

2.  The War in the trans-Mississippi was a side show that could be ignored.

3.  In the West, between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, the Union was clearly winning, with control of the Mississippi wrested from the Confederacy, with New Orleans and large sections of Louisiana controlled by the Union, and with Tennessee largely under Union control.

4.  The northern Presidential election in 1864 would probably prove decisive.  If Lincoln could make progress in the East and continue to win in the West he would likely be re-elected.  If the Confederacy could maintain the stalemate in the East and reverse the Union momentum in the West, or at least slow it to a crawl, Lincoln would be defeated and the Confederacy would win its independence.

General Braxton Bragg, the irascible commander of the Army of Tennessee, clearly understood that the Confederacy could not continue losing in the West, and that is why he rolled the iron dice of war at Chickamauga in a desperate attempt to stop the offensive of Major General William Rosecrans and his Union Army of the Cumberland.  Bragg proved fortunate, and his hard luck army gave the Confederacy one of its great victories, and the chance to change the whole course of the War.

Below is the passage on Chickamauga from the memoir of John B. Gordon, who during the war rose from Captain to Major General in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Gordon did not fight at Chickamauga, but his wonderfully colorful account of the battle, ground he was familiar with from being reared there in his childhood,  written with his usual entertaining purple prose, captures well the facts of the battle, and how this victory was treasured by the South, even as its benefits to the Confederacy were ultimately thrown away due to a lack of pursuit and the desultory, and unsuccessful, siege of Chattanooga. Continue Reading

7

Chipotle’s Food War

Over the top and entertaining which is how I like commercials if I have to endure one.  I like Mexican food but I have never liked Chipotle as the menu is too limited and their massive burritos leave me cold.  Just as well, as those things weigh in, on average, at a 1000 calories, which makes their wholesomener than thou commercial hilarious.  Yeah, we treat the animals we slaughter for your plate in a kinder and gentler fashion as we serve you their remains to make you obese!

I do appreciate however that Chipotle burritos can apparently double for plastic explosives in a pinch: Continue Reading

8

Various & Sundry, 9/18/13

Gun Control’s Dead End

Charles Cooke is a particularly incisive writer on any topic, but especially so when it comes to gun control – which is probably why Piers Morgan wants no part of a debate with him.

It is not, however, too late to set the record straight in the public square and with lawmakers, who will be predictably pressured to “do something.” Here, the truth is vital, for it demonstrates neatly the reality that, in a country with 350-million-plus privately owned firearms, the state is utterly powerless to stop evil with the law. President Obama, Senator Feinstein, Senator Schumer et al. could have pushed through Congress every single gun-control provision that they coveted earlier this year — an “assault weapons” ban, a limit on the size of magazines, and a requirement that background checks be conducted for all private sales — and yesterday would nonetheless have happened exactly as it did. Indeed, in preparing for his spree, Aaron Alexis quite literally followed Joe Biden’s advice: He went out and bought an uncontroversial shotgun from a reputable, licensed dealer and subjected himself successfully to a federal background check. So routine was this purchase, it should be noted, that it could have been made legally in England or in France.

Maybe It Was the Video Games

Instead of blaming guns for the mass shooting on Monday, let’s blame video games.

Friends said the length of time he spent glued to the “shoot ‘em up” games on his computer, including the popular Call of Duty, triggered his dark side that had previously landed him in trouble with the police on gun crimes.

Another possibility is that there is simply just evil in this world, and try as we might, we simply won’t be able to eradicate it.

The Food Police

Columnist Frank Bruni doesn’t seem to understand how grocery stores work.

There’s no more to Bruni’s column than this; it’s a tumefied argument against big portion sizes:

America is lousy with such vessels: the Big Gulp, the economy pack, the party size, two-for-one pizza deals, the Whopper, the Double Whopper, the Triple Whopper, Costco in all its bloated grandeur. They’ve taught us that volume equals value and established a dangerous baseline for what we consider a sane amount of food.Come to think of it, the Costco complaint is a non sequitur. After all, those massive packages of nuts or chicken aren’t portions but ingredients, sold in bulk for storage and subsequent gradual use.

Bruni must not cook, or he’d understand how this works. This columnist, for example, typically buys several pounds of beef or pork or lamb, or a whole duck, at one time. We divide the meat into individual servings, cook them in the sous vide, and freeze them to thaw and consume later, one at a time. Buying and preparing multiple servings at once allows us to economize on both money and time.

About that National Debt

As Chris Johnson writes, we’re pretty much screwed.

Almost all media reports about the Congressional Budget Office’s new long-term budget analysis will highlight its forecast that the federal public debt, now about 73% of GDP, is on track to reach 100% of GDP in 2038. Now that’s scary enough. As Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts it: “Today’s report confirms exactly what we have been warning — that the debt is on an unsustainable long-term trajectory.”

So over the next 25 years, Americans will be taxed more to pay for a federal government that will more purely become a redistribution, wealth-transfer mechanism. Taxes and spending at record highs. America as a nuclear-armed insurance company.

But here’s the thing: that forecast, as the CBO notes, does not factor in “the harm that growing debt would cause to the economy.”  Hey, that would be a good thing to know, right? Well, you have to dig deeper into the CBO study to find those numbers.

And when you take into account stuff like how deficits might “crowd out” investment in  factories and computers and how people might respond to changes in after-tax wages, you find the debt is much, much larger, closer to 200% of GDP.

The World’s Worst Police Department

With Grand Theft Auto V’s sales approaching a billion, I thought I’d go into the vaults for this Onion classic.

Many blame the LCPD directly for the increase in criminal activity, citing the department’s lax procedure for arresting criminals, which involves taking 10 percent of the suspect’s money, confiscating his weapons, and simply releasing him from custody later that day. Outraged citizens say this is not enough, especially in a city where assault rifles can be found on factory roofs and grenade caches are located under the globe at the old World’s Fair site.

“The police just let them go, and 20 minutes later they’re shooting at the very same criminals from helicopters,” veteran crime reporter Mike Whiteley said. “That is not proper law enforcement. We may be seeing a return to the bad old days of 2002, when the police, the FIB, and even Army tank battalions would leave countless bodies on the streets while attempting to capture just one man on some sort of joyful mass-destruction spree.”

Perhaps even more alarming, city records indicate that more than 75 percent of perpetrators in mass-murder or vehicular-manslaughter cases escape, usually by simple methods such as driving into a car-repainting facility. Criminals have even eluded pursuit by walking into their apartment and going to bed for six hours, after which the search has been called off.

The Tullahoma Campaign: Not Written in Letters of Blood

Tullahoma_Campaign

I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood.

Major General William Rosecrans to Secretary of War Stanton after the completion of the Tullahoma Campaign.

Mention Gettysburg and almost all Americans will recall that it was a battle fought during the Civil War.  Mention the Tullahoma campaign, and almost all Americans will give a blank stare.  A pity, because the almost bloodless campaign demonstrates one of the finest pieces of generalship to be found in the War.

After the battle of Murfreesboro in December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863, the two opposing armies seemed to go into suspended animation for a period of half a year.  Bragg withdrew his Army of Tennessee to 30 miles south of Murfreesboro at Tullahoma, Tennessee and contented himself with observing Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland and awaiting events.  Rosecrans seemed content to stay in Murfreesboro indefinitely, reinforcing and resupplying his army.  Calls to remove Rosecrans became frequent, along with frequent entreaties for Rosecrans to attack Bragg.  Rosecrans refused to move until he was ready.  On June 23, 1863 he was ready.

Here is the account of the campaign written by Union Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert C. Kniffin in 1887 for The Century Magazine and which later appeared in Battles and Leaders.  I admire both its conciseness and its accuracy: Continue Reading

5

Pope John Paull II on the US Constitution and Freedom

 

 

 

Interesting reflections for a Constitution Day courtesy of remarks made by Pope John Paul II to President Reagan on September 10, 1987 during the Pope’s visit to the US:

 

Mr President,

1. I am grateful for the great courtesy that you  extend to me by coming personally to meet me in this city of Miami. Thank you  for this gesture of kindness and respect.

On my part I cordially greet you as the  elected Chief Executive of the United States of America. In addressing you I  express my own deep respect for the constitutional structure of this  democracy, which you are called to “preserve, protect and defend”. In  addressing you, Mr. President, I greet once again all the American people with their history, their achievements and their great possibilities of serving  humanity.

I willingly pay honour to the United  States for what she has accomplished for her own people, for all those whom she  has embraced in a cultural creativity and welcomed into an indivisible national  unity, according to her own motto: E pluribus unum. I thank America and all Americans – those of past generations and those of the present – for their  generosity to millions of their fellow human beings in need throughout the  world. Also today, I wish to extol the blessing and gifts that America has  received from God and cultivated, and which have become the true values of the  whole American experiment in the past two centuries.

2. For all of you this is a special hour in your  history: the celebration of the Bicentennial of your Constitution. It is a time  to recognize the meaning of that document and to reflect on important aspects of  the constitutionalism that produced it. It is a time to recall the original  American political faith with its appeal to the sovereignty of God. To celebrate  the origin of the United States is to stress those moral and spiritual  principles, those ethical concerns that influenced your Founding Fathers and  have been incorporated into the experience of America.

Eleven years ago, when your country was  celebrating another great document, the Declaration of Independence, my  predecessor Paul VI spoke to American Congressmen in Rome. His statement is  still pertinent today: “At every turn” he said, “your Bicentennial speaks to you  of moral principles, religious convictions, inalienable rights given by the  Creator”. And he added: “We earnestly hope that… this commemoration of your  Bicentennial will constitute a rededication to those sound moral principles  formulated by your Founding Fathers and enshrined forever in your history” (Pauli VI, Allocutio ad civiles Auctoritates Foederatarum Civitatum Americae  Septemtrionalis, die 26 apr. 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV [1976] 288ss.). Continue Reading

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Constitution Day: Star Trek Style!

 

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and by limited production budgets,  this episode featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.” Continue Reading

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“Proud to be Catholic” scores again…

 

Over at “Proud to be Catholic” in a blog post entitled “Going to War?”, the normally provocative Father Brian Sistare (pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Woonsocket, RI) raises an interesting if not challenging juxtaposition of two images for Americans to contemplate.

The first image is that of President Barack Obama expressing his personal outrage that the chemical weapons used in Syria were killing many children.  Of this image Fr. Sistare writes:

What I would like to point out in the midst of this difficult moment is the sheer hypocrisy of our government “leaders.” The Secretary of State John Kerry said that what President Assad did was a “crime against conscience,” and a “crime against humanity.” Obama also spoke of the heinous crimes that were done to the Syrian people by their own president, mentioning that children were killed. He said that “we cannot accept a world in which people are gassed on a terrible scale,” and that we don’t want the world to be paralyzed.”

POTUSB

The second image is that of the 40-year history of chemically induced abortions being performed in the United States, which both the President and his Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, support.  Of this image, Fr. Sistare writes:

The little, innocent victims of abortion are even being killed “chemically” by such CONTRAceptives/abortificients, such as the morning after pill, the IUD, the NuvaRing, and even high dosages of the birth control pill.  “Chemical warfare” against our own people has been happening for over 40 years now, and the current “leader” of our country has no problem with it, even adding insult to injury by asking God to bless one of the major suppliers of these chemicals used in the warfare against the innocent, in the organization known as Planned Parenthood.

POTUS

While many of the nation’s citizens will surely be offended by this juxtaposition of images, Fr. Sistare correctly notes that both depict acts of “chemical warfare,” whether or not the United Nations certifies them as such.

In the political arena, it’s so very easy for the leader of a world superpower to point the finger of blame at a tin-horn dictator who inflicts genocide upon his citizens and to threaten war to end such horrific crimes against humanity.

But, it isn’t all that easy for that leader to recognize that his four other fingers are pointing right back at him.  To recognize that fact, that leader would have to admit that he is entirely supportive of genocidal acts being committed in his own nation.

Kudos to Father Sistare for expressing the matter so clearly.

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Prime Directive Debate

(This post is from 2009.  I haven’t had a Star Trek geek post in a while and I thought it would be fun to repost this.  We had a good discussion the first go round and I hope we will again.)

“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

Yesterday Darwin had a thought provoking post about the impact of technologically advanced cultures on less developed cultures.  In the combox discussion there were frequent references to the Prime Directive of Star Trek.  This of course gives me an excellent excuse for posting this examination of the Prime Directive and for me to burnish my credentials as the “Geekier-Than-Thou” member of this blog.Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, has a good discussion here of what the Prime Directive is:

“The Directive states that members of Starfleet are not to interfere in the internal affairs of another species, especially the natural development of pre-warp civilizations, either by direct intervention, or technological revelation. When studying a planet’s civilization, particularly during a planetary survey, the Prime Directive makes it clear that there is to be “No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations.” (TOS: “Bread and Circuses”) Starfleet personnel are required to understand that allowing cultures to develop on their own is an important right and therefore must make any sacrifice to protect cultures from contamination, even at the cost of their own lives.

The Prime Directive is not enforced upon citizens of the Federation. Under the rules as defined in the Directive, a Starfleet crew is forbidden from removing citizens who have interfered with the culture of a world. Violating the directive can result in a court-martial for the offending Starfleet officer or crew. (TNG: “Angel One”)

In all, there are 47 sub-orders in the Prime Directive. (VOY: “Infinite Regress”)

Originally the Directive was a shield for primitive worlds. If such a world was in danger, Starfleet had been known to order ships to save that world, provided it could be done without violating the Directive. (TOS: “The Paradise Syndrome”)

The Directive was later amended, prohibiting Starfleet officers from intervening even if non-intervention would result in the extinction of an entire species or the end of all life on a planet or star system. By the 24th century the Federation had begun applying the Prime Directive to warp-capable species, refusing to interfere in internal matters such as the Klingon Civil War. (TNG: “Pen Pals”, “Homeward”, “Redemption”, “Redemption II”).”

The video that opens this post is from The Star Trek The Next Generation episode Pen Pals, and illustrates well the moral ambiguity that often ensued when Star Fleet officers were faced with a Prime Directive situation.   How can you turn your back on people who need your aid?  How can you be sure that such aid will not have long term calamitous results for the entities you sought to aid?  Is the Prime Directive an absolute as Lieutenant Worf contended, or is there room for interpretation?  What is the guiding purpose of the Prime Directive?

I think that Picard nails it when he says that the Prime Directive was intended for relieving Star Fleet officers from making intervention decisions when their emotions were aroused.  In a time when Star Fleet captains with enormous power at their disposal are often far from the direct control of the Federation I can see much wisdom in this policy.  Of course there are problems with the Prime Directive.

1.    The first problem is that it didn’t work in practice. When the Prime Directive is mentioned in one of the shows, the odds were heavy that the good guys were going to stomp all over the Prime Directive for some noble end.  Some sophistical justification was usually tacked on at the end to justify the violation, but the violation remained clear and glaring.  No consequence resulted from the violation, so one could be excused from assuming that no one in Star Fleet high command really took the Prime Directive all that seriously. Continue Reading

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Various & Sundry, 9/16/13

Abortion Clinics Closing at Record Pace

On a horrible day such as this one I thought I’d start with some moderately happy news.

For Abby Johnson, the closing of a single Planned Parenthood center demonstrated her dramatic reversal from abortion clinic director to leading pro-life advocate.

But for pro-lifers throughout the United States, it marked another exhibit in a hopeful trend—abortion centers are shutting down at an unprecedented rate. The total so far this year is 44, according to a pro-life organization that tracks clinic operations.

I say it’s moderately happy for as long as one clinic remains open, we can’t truly celebrate.

A Conservative Foreign Policy Vision

Fantastic piece from Andrew McCarthy that will be the focus of my Catholic Stand post tomorrow, though from a slightly different perspective. Basically we need to find some common ground between John McCain’s knee-jerk “bomb it all” foreign policy and the Paulite “Blame America first” isolationist wing.

The Matthew Shepard Narrative

On a day when people tried valiantly to score political points off of murdered human beings, here’s another story where a brutal murder was used as a political football – only the narrative proved false.

The Myth of Live and Let Live Liberalism

Another National Review writer knocks one out.

Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant, and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. — “What will they do next?”

Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are “they.” Outside of a Law and Order script — or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit — conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta do.

Seriously, who else do people think are behind efforts to ban big sodas or sue hairdressers for charging women more than men? Who harasses little kids for making toy guns out of sticks, Pop Tarts, or their own fingers? Who wants to regulate the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the beverages you drink? Who wants to control your thermostat? Take your guns? Your cigarettes? Heck, your candy cigarettes? Who’s in favor of speech codes on campuses and “hate crime” laws everywhere? Who’s in favor of free speech when it comes to taxpayer-subsidized “art” and pornography (so long as you use a condom, if liberals get their way) but then bang their spoons on their high chairs for strict regulations when it comes to political speech? Who loves meddling, finger-wagging billionaires like Michael Bloomberg when they use state power and taxpayer money to herd, bully, and nudge people but thinks billionaires like the Koch brothers who want to shrink government are the root of all tyranny?

I’m always amused by liberals and libertarians accusing social conservatives of being for big government on social issues when it is the left that is so desperately eager to involve the government in all aspects of our daily lives.

The Ultimate Civil War Chart

A very cool and useful chart – if you can read it.

Foreign Parenting Practices Americans Would Call Neglect

Personally I find number three intriguing. It might be too late for our first two, but with a third due any minute, we’ll need to get our whistles ready.

26

Speak Loudly and Carry No Stick

 

 

 

Obama, the anti-Theodore Roosevelt:

U.S. and Russian negotiators reached an agreement Saturday calling for an  inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons program and seizing all of its components  within a year. The plan includes imposing penalties if Syrian President Bashar  Assad’s government fails to turn over its stockpile.

Mr. Obama called it “an important step” toward ridding the world of chemical  weapons. But critics in Congress said the deal was toothless because the  administration agreed to withdraw from a proposed U.N. resolution the threat of  military action if Syria fails to comply.

“It’s not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of whether it will be enforced or  not,” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  “[Russia] will not agree to the use of force no matter what Bashar Assad  does.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent  Select Committee on Intelligence, said the U.S. gave up an important bargaining  chip.

“Not one ounce of chemical weapons came off the battlefield, but we’ve given  up every ounce of our leverage when it comes to trying to solve the broader  Syrian problem, because we’ve taken away a credible military threat,” the Mr.  Rogers said on CNN. Continue Reading

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Postmodernism as Gibberish

 

 

After 31 years at the bar I believe I am an expert on gibberish, being in a profession which takes great pride in being able to take relatively simple concepts and present them in an arcane gibberish which almost no one would read or write if they were not being paid to do so.  However, I think the postmodernists have us beat, judging from this post by Oregon Muse at Ace of Spades:

Last week in the comments, Pave Low John proffered this craptacular sentence from a post-modern book he is required to read:

“This three-part phallogocentric negation and sublation of history can be grasped easily. Yet even such a sublation, of history as timing through the mediation of law–the vanishing moment of sequential human temporality into a catachresis named Time, is not the final hortatory instrument of the text.”

Yeesh. My spell-checker just had a nervous breakdown. Into this grotesquely viscous, near-inpenetrable morass of verbal diarrhea waded FenelonSpoke, after first donning a hazmat suit. She miraculously survived and brought back the following as a translation:

The way the penis (men) has/have kept women subjugated and silent by unjust laws is both very bad and very apparent, and this theme transcends history as it is portioned off into neat linear, sequential segments.

The question is, if that’s what she meant, then why didn’t she say it that way to begin with? My theory is that postmodern obfuscation is a device used by incompetent authors to disguise their dreadful writing. My other theory is that the academic disciplines that have been ruined by postmodernism (i.e. the “soft” “sciences”) have gotten all puffed up and full of themselves and think that they’re somehow Serious You Guys Legitimate if they produce reams of text couched in indecipherable jargon just like, for example, those geeky guys over in the math building, what with all their fancy-ass equations with squiggly lines, Greek letters and stuff that look so awesome because we don’t know what they’re saying. So you shouldn’t be able to read our stuff, either, but you can take our word for it, it’s Totally Super Cool.

But see, here’s the difference: the postmodernists got punk’d real bad back in 1996 by physicist Alan Sokal.   He submitted his essay Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity to the peer-reviewed postmodernist journal Social Text, and they printed it. But hilarity ensued when Sokal admitted in another publication that it was a giant load of horse doots. As a hoax, he just strung together a bunch of gibberish using postmodernist lingo, and they bought it. But you couldn’t do this to a math journal (although I suppose you could try). They’d fact-check your butt back to square one and send you packing if you pulled something like Sokal did. As difficult as it can be, mathematics does make sense. I’m not sure that post-modernism does.

You morons might enjoy reading Chip Morningstar’s famous essay How To Deconstruct Almost Anything: My Postmodern Adventure, written in 1993 at the dawn of the internets. The gist of this piece is that the reason pomo analysis sounds like crap is that most of it is crap and this is because pomo crap is generated by pomo crap academics who’ve never had to talk to anyone other than other pomo crap academics, so they’ve developed this inbred little pomo crap language that’s all but unintelligible to anyone outside the pomo crap academic community. Actually, Morningstar’s phrasing was a lot more congenial than mine, but you get the idea. And he does say sometimes the pomo academics ask a worthwhile question, or try to get you to look at something in a way you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of yourself, so he doesn’t write them off completely. Like I just did.

And every time you reload this page, you get a new, randomly-generated postmodern essay. Continue Reading

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Walking the Walk

 

It is often easy to become cynical about all politicians, but occasionally you do find those who are the real thing:

 

When she was pregnant with her daughter Abigail Rose Beutler, doctors told Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, a pro-life Republican from Washington state, that her baby had a potentially fatal diagnosis that would claim her life shortly after birth.

Beutler posted a message on Facebook in June saying her unborn child had been diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome, a condition which prevents the child’s kidneys from developing properly and is typically fatal for the baby.

In Potter’s syndrome, the unborn baby has an atypical physical appearance as the result of oligohydramnios, a decrease in amniotic fluid volume that causes developmental problems and babies with Potter’s Syndrome typically die within a couple days of being born.

Then, in July, Beutler said Abigail was doing well two weeks following her birth.

Now, in a new interview with the Today show, the congresswoman gave another update about her little girl.

Abigail will need a kidney transplant in the year ahead, but her parents and doctors consider the child a miracle. Continue Reading

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Edelweiss

Something for the weekend.  Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music.  A show tune written for the musical it refers to the sturdy mountain flower, which in the 19th century became a symbol for the people of the Alps.  In 1907 it became a symbol of the elite Alpine troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The song is a good reflection of the quiet Austrian patriotism of a most remarkable man:  Georg Johannes Ritter von Trapp.

Georgvontrapp

Born in 1880 he was the son of a Commander in the Austro-Hungarian navy who had been elevated to the nobility in 1876.  This gave his son Ritter (Knight) status, allowing him to put von in his name and to be addressed as baron.  His father died when Georg was four, which did not deter him from following in his father’s footsteps by entering the Austrian naval academy in 1894.

He enjoyed a colorful career in the Austrian navy, including participation in quelling the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, which earned him a decoration.  Always fascinated by submarines, he transferred to the infant Austrian submarine service in 1908.  When he took command of the U-6 it was a double red letter day for him.  His ship was christened by Agathe Whitehead, the granddaughter of the English inventor of the torpedo.  Georg went on to marry her in 1910.  They were very happy together and had seven kids.  When their daughter Maria was born, she sent her husband who was on patrol and could not receive personal missives, a coded message advising him that the SS Maria had been successfully launched! Continue Reading

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Various & Sundry, 9/13/13

A Moment of Fiscal Sanity in DC

Be still my beating heart – there’s actually a local politician with some understanding of economics.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoed legislation Thursday that would force the District’s largest retailers to pay their workers significantly more, choosing the potential for jobs and development at home over joining a national fight against low-wage work.

. . .

Gray (D) announced his veto in a letter delivered to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on Thursday morning. It explained his opposition to the bill and tried to soften the political consequences by disclosing his intention to seek a minimum-wage increase from all employers, not just large retailers.

In the letter, Gray said the measure was “not a true living-wage bill,” because its effect would be limited to “a small fraction of the District’s workforce.” He called the bill a “job-killer,” citing threats from Wal-Mart and other retailers that they would not locate in the city if the bill becomes law.

“If I were to sign this bill into law, it would do nothing but hinder our ability to create jobs, drive away retailers, and set us back on the path to prosperity for all,” he said.

Gray must be made to understand that being theoretically paid $12.50 per hour while actually being paid $0 per hour is much superior to being paid $8.25 per hour.

Judge Refuses to Let Jewish Man Wear Kippah in Court

And the judge relied on some profound reasons for the refusal.

Stephen Orr, a resident of Chesapeake, Va., was tried in absentia and found guilty, after a Circuit Court judge denied his request to wear a hat, or “kippah,” into the courtroom in keeping with a Jewish mandate that persons wear a head covering at all times. The judge allegedly based his denial on the fact that other Jewish litigants appear in court without a head covering.

Yes, they’re called Reform Jews, and they are to Judaism what readers of National Catholic Reporter are to Catholicism.

Senate Wants to Define Journalist

And in more “the First Amendment is obsolete” news, there’s this:

A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure defining a journalist, which had been an obstacle to broader media shield legislation designed to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal their sources.

The Judiciary Committee’s action cleared the way for approval of legislation prompted by the disclosure earlier this year that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed almost two months of telephone records for 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press and secretly used a warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist. The subpoenas grew out of investigations into leaks of classified information to the news organizations.

They’re going to pretend this about protecting journalists, but in reality it’s about sticking it to non-traditional media. In the 90s we had efforts to re-introduce the “Fairness Doctrine,” nicknamed the “Hush Rush” law. This seems to be the “Hush Drudge” law.

Roman Catholic Priest Injured in Zanzibar Acid Attack

The nuttery is not just confined to the Middle East.

Ignorant Trash Destroy 9/11 Display

I have to agree with some of the commenters – were there no onlookers who could have stopped them?

Reason Number 845254 I don’t Particularly Miss Cable

Whatever Shepard Smith is paid is too much money.

Shepard Smith has signed a new multi-year deal with Fox News Channel in which he will become the primary breaking news anchor for the network. In the process, he will lose his 7pmET “Fox Report,” while his 3pmET program “Studio B” will now be known as “Shepard Smith Reporting.”

No one exemplifies the empty-headed, pretty boy talking head quite like Shep.

3

Twisted Trailers

I love fake trailers that completely twist a movie and the above is a fine example of the genre:

Don’t run away! This modern trailer recut for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is just about the most awesome thing that happened on the Internet this week. Because, come on. It’s not every day that someone goes and makes “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” seem like a high-budget medieval Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster. (Instead of, you know, just a bunch of guys running around Scotland with coconuts.) Kudos to Stefane Bouley for putting this gem together and for nearly resisting the temptation to include any humor. 

Another example:  Can the world survive Rambo, the Musical?

Continue Reading

5

Revenge of the Bitter Clingers

 

 

Interesting election results in Colorado where two Democrat state senators, including the President of the Colorado Senate went down to defeat in recall elections:

Two Colorado Democrats who provided crucial support for a slate of tough new gun-control laws were voted out of office on Tuesday in a recall vote widely seen as a test of popular support for gun restrictions after mass shootings in a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

The election, which came five months after the United States Senate defeated several gun restrictions, handed another loss to gun-control supporters. It also gave moderate lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.

The recall elections ousted two Democratic state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron, and replaced them with Republicans. Both defeats were painful for Democrats – Mr. Morse’s because he had been Senate president, and Ms. Giron’s because she represented a heavily Democratic, working-class slice of southern Colorado. Continue Reading

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Liberals: Thou Shalt!

 

 

Jonah Goldberg has a piece on National Review Online where he notes that social liberals specialize in telling other people how to live:

 

 

 

There is a notion out there that being “socially liberal” means you’re a libertarian at heart, a live-and-let-live sort of person who says “whatever floats your boat” a lot.

Alleged proof for this amusing myth (or pernicious lie; take your pick) comes in the form of liberal support for gay marriage and abortion rights, and opposition to a few things that smack of what some people call “traditional values.”

The evidence disproving this adorable story of live-and-let-live liberalism comes in the form of pretty much everything else liberals say, do, and believe.

Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant, and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. — “What will they do next?”

Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are “they.” Outside of a Law and Order script — or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit — conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta do.

Seriously, who else do people think are behind efforts to ban big sodas or sue hairdressers for charging women more than men? Who harasses little kids for making toy guns out of sticks, Pop Tarts, or their own fingers? Who wants to regulate the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the beverages you drink? Who wants to control your thermostat? Take your guns? Your cigarettes? Heck, your candy cigarettes? Who’s in favor of speech codes on campuses and “hate crime” laws everywhere? Who’s in favor of free speech when it comes to taxpayer-subsidized “art” and pornography (so long as you use a condom, if liberals get their way) but then bang their spoons on their high chairs for strict regulations when it comes to political speech? Who loves meddling, finger-wagging billionaires like Michael Bloomberg when they use state power and taxpayer money to herd, bully, and nudge people but thinks billionaires like the Koch brothers who want to shrink government are the root of all tyranny?

At the national level, who bypassed Congress to empower the EPA to regulate the atmosphere? Oh, and who pushed Obamacare on a country that didn’t want it? Who defends bending the entire country — including religious institutions — into a national health-care scheme dedicated to the proposition of live and let live so long as you live the way the Department of Health and Human Services says you should?

Did legislative and bureaucratic gremlins sneak into government buildings at night and pass all of these rules and regulations while the social-liberal free-thinkers were off not judging people and refusing to harsh anybody’s mellow? Continue Reading

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Unforgettable Flight 93

When they got up that morning twelve years ago the very last thing that the 33 passengers and the seven crew of United Flight 93 expected was to be engaged in a life and death struggle to retake an airliner that was headed to Washington DC as a terrorist missile.    All they expected the day to bring was a hum drum flight from Newark to San Francisco.  Just ordinary people living their lives.  Their occupations included pilot, first officer, flight attendant, an environmental lawyer, the owner of a public relations firm,  university students, a senior vice president of a medical development company, a sales representative for Good Housekeeping magazine, a manager of a US Wildlife animal refuge, an arborist, an account manager for a corporation, an ironworker, retirees, a computer programmer, a computer engineer, a lobbyist for the disabled, a real estate agent,  an executive vice president of a corporation and a free lance medical writer.  They were wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, all with unique histories and lives, with little in common except that they happened to be on board Flight 93 when the world changed.

The plane took off at 8:42 AM Eastern Time.  Four terrorists had boarded amidst the other 33 passengers.  The terrorists began to hijack the plane at 9:28 AM, soon after both the hijacked airliners had struck the Twin Towers in New York City, and just brief minutes before a fourth airliner was hijacked in Washington and slammed into the Pentagon.  At 9:28:17 AM a member of the cockpit crew shouted “Mayday! Mayday!” over the radio, with sounds of violence in the background.  35 seconds later someone in the cockpit shouted over the radio, “Mayday!  Get out of here!  Get out of here!”

By 9:31 AM the terrorists were in control of the cockpit.  They informed the passengers that they were in control of the plane and falsely told them they had a bomb.  Now began the final 30 minutes of Flight 93. Continue Reading