21

Top Ten Reasons Why Obama is Not the Anti-Christ

Obama and Cross

At a recent event, President Obama was called the anti-Christ by a heckler.   This is so unfair!  Here are the top ten reasons why Obama is not the anti-Christ.

 

10. Obama can’t be the anti-Christ because he is a Christian…O.K., make that the top nine reasons why Obama isn’t the anti-Christ.

9.  Obama fears that 666 is the number of daily calories that Michele will allow him on his next diet.

8.  Satan has not taken possession of Obama, although some sort of lease arrangement is a possibility.

7.  Elijah and Enoch haven’t been killed by drones. Yet.

6.  The anti-Christ would never vote present.

5.  Putin doesn’t fit into his Gog costume. Continue Reading

22

Harry Reid: Liar

Washington is a town filled with liars, but even with all of that competition Senator Harry Reid (D.NV.) can be considered to be in a class all of his own when it comes to lies.  He lies constantly and with brazen effrontery because he realizes that with almost all of the mainstream media serving as unpaid press agents for the Democrat party, the chances of him being damaged by his mendacity will be remote.  Time, past time, to strip of his post as Senate Majority Leader by electing a GOP controlled Senate in the fall.

 

 

5

February 28, 1864: Beginning of the Kirkpatrick-Dahlgren Raid

 

Portrait of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren

One of the more hare-brained schemes of the Civil War, a cavalry raid towards Richmond with 4,000 Union troopers under Brigadier General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, a reckless blustering officer fully deserving of his nickname “Kill-Cavalry”, began on February 28, 1864.  Colonel Ulric Dahlgren’s brigade was detailed to penetrate the Richmond defenses, ostensibly to free Union prisoners.  The raid ended in a complete fiasco on March 2, with 324 of the raiders killed or wounded, and 1000 taken prisoner.

Among the dead was Dahlgren.  The Confederates found two interesting documents on his body, including one that contained this sentence:

“The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in the city it must be destroyed and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed.”

The sentence was part of two pages written by Dahlgren, which appear to be instructions for his men.  The other document was a speech to his men which contained this sentence:

‘We hope to release the prisoners from Belle Island first & having seen them fairly started we will cross the James River into Richmond, destroying the bridges after us & exhorting the released prisoners to destroy & burn the hateful City & do not allow the Rebel Leader Davis and his traitorous crew to escape.’

The Confederates made huge propaganda hay out of this and were justifiably outraged.  Calls went out to hang the raiders, a call successfully resisted by General Robert E. Lee.  The Union denounced the alleged documents as  forgeries, but after the fall of Richmond, Secretary of War Stanton made certain that the documents were brought to him, and they were never seen again, although the Confederates had made photographs of them, so we know their contents. Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

John Allen, from his new perch as a Boston Globe columnist, notes recent actions taken in support of Pope Francis by the Pope Emeritus:

 

First, his closest aide and confidante, German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, gave an interview to the Reuters news agency on Feb. 9 in which he insisted there’s “a good feeling” between Francis and Benedict, and that the two men see one another often.

Second, Benedict XVI made a surprise appearance at a Feb. 22 consistory ceremony in which Francis elevated 19 new cardinals into the church’s most exclusive club, sitting in the front row and beaming during the event.

When Francis made his way over to wrap Benedict in a hug, the pope emeritus removed his white zucchetto, a skullcap that’s one of the symbols of the papal office — a small gesture that told insiders he was acknowledging Francis as the new boss.

Third, Benedict responded in writing to questions by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli concerning speculation that he’d been pressured to step down and therefore his resignation was invalid under church law. Following that reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Francis isn’t really the pope.

Benedict dismissed the hypothesis as “simply absurd.”

“I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit,” Benedict wrote in comments published Feb. 26. “Loving the church also means having the courage to make difficult, painful choices, always keeping the good of the church in mind and not ourselves.”

Fourth, Gänswein, who still acts as Benedict’s private secretary and who lives with the former pope in a monastery on Vatican grounds, gave another interview to the Washington Post in which he said the two pontiffs didn’t know one another well at the beginning but are becoming steadily closer. Continue Reading

6

Freedom and the Left

 

 

John C. Wright, Catholic convert and science fiction author, has a brilliant post at his blog, John Wright’s Journal, in which he examines the threat to freedom posed by the contemporary left:

 

It is darker than you think. Perhaps you have heard about speech codes on campus, about the intolerance of the Left, about their mob tactics, their fetid hypocrisy, and you thought we who complain about it were exaggerating.

You perhaps thought that, at least here in America, certain ideals and values were so much a part of our way of life, so deeply embedded into the hearts of the people, that there was no real threat to our beloved freedoms.

Those ideals and values are not a part of our way of life any longer. They have not been for twenty or thirty years. We are past the tipping point, and it will be a very, very difficult struggle to get back up the pebbly slope to the brink of the cliff down which we fell.

I could list any number of examples from my own field, starting with the expulsion of Theodore Beale from SWFA based on a false accusation by a leftist, going through my editor at Tor books having his child taken from him based on a false accusation, and ending with my agent at Tor books being fired due to a false accusation by a leftist.

I will content myself with a single item of evidence; you can find countless additional items from sources as wide ranging as the monstrous Peter Singer to the absurd Pajama Boy Ethan Krupp.

A creature named Korn writing in the Harvard Crimson calls for an end to Academic freedom.

I am not kidding, I am not exaggerating, and I am not making this up. Here is the link:

http://www.thecrimson.com/column/the-red-line/article/2014/2/18/academic-freedom-justice/?page=single#

Allow me to quote at length, lest I be accused of misrepresenting the true sewer depth of evil being promoted here, the bland banality of the call for chains and gags. Continue Reading

9

Private Discrimination Is As American As Apple Pie

tolerance

 

 

Ben Domenech at The Federalist actually understands what the law is regarding homosexuals and private vendors:

Let’s get a few things straight. Jim Crow for gays was not prevented by Jan Brewer’s veto of their religious liberty bill last night. Indeed, most Arizona businesses – like most businesses across the country – are free under the law to discriminate according to sexual orientation or anything of the kind. The bipartisan group of law professors who helped draft legislation like this in other states – many of whom support gay marriage themselves – were the ignored parties in all the coverage of this story, as amateur legal minds screamed of legalizing all sorts of terrible things which are in reality already legal. Ilya Shapiro, one of Cato’s brightest thinkers, went even further in undermining the case against this law:

SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category). The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakery that closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs? For that matter, gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work religious celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, and environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities.

Some context is necessary here. In the wake of the curtailing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, states have pursued a host of mini-RFRAs which include protections for religious liberty. Attorneys and law professors who support gay marriage, such as Doug Laycock, have worked alongside attorneys from national faith groups to create legal language designed to follow the national RFRA’s model. This movement has recently fallen prey to the problems of any movement led by lawyers: it has seen a host of things that are benign in a legal context being misconstrued – or purposely lied about – to foment rage against things which are already legal, and ought to be in a society which values religious liberty. Kansas became the most recent example for pushback over the language proposed by these legal experts, though freelance efforts in other states have been even less successful (South Dakota didn’t even get out of committee).

The majority of the language in these bills, such as that related to maximum extent, is a cut and paste from the federal RFRA (of course, it’s a real question whether Chuck Schumer’s bill could pass today).  These lawyers have attempted to ensure that those with sincerely held religious beliefs retain their ability to live and work in the public square without being compelled by the force of government – likely due to the ruling of a court – to do something which runs against their beliefs. Kevin Williamson notes the danger of this judicial fiat: “If anything, it is much more likely in 2014 that a business exhibiting authentic malice toward homosexuals would be crushed under the socio-economic realities of the current climate. That is a good thing for two reasons: One is that genuine hostility toward gay Americans is today a distinctly minority inclination but one that still should be challenged. The second is that it is a far healthier thing for that challenge to take place on the battleground of civil society rather than in the courts and legislatures.” But then again: “We are a Puritanical nation, which doesn’t mean we hate sex (the Puritans loved sex). It means that we are profoundly anti-Catholic and prone to stamping out dissenters. We used to use social consensus and economic pressure where we didn’t use convictions to accomplish this. Now we use the Supreme Court.”

The reality is that discrimination on the basis of sex in public accommodation and in numerous other ways is for the most part totally legal at the state level. Yes, this crazy Jim Crow reality that has been fearmongered to death is already the law in most states. Most people think it’s illegal, but it isn’t – last night I heard a sports radio host describing America as a place where “no one has any right to deny anyone any service any time for any reason”, which is pretty much the opposite of freedom of association. But while it is legal, it rarely comes up – because it is so infrequently an issue! It turns out most Southern Baptists are perfectly happy to take gay couples’ money and bake them a cake. The pursuit of a positive Yelp review can be a powerful motivator.

But – and here’s the real focal point of this issue – they should be free to choose not to. And those who favor human liberty should be in favor of defending this status quo. Elizabeth Scalia writes: “I feel like I’m watching my gay friends get mauled and then watching my Catholic friends get mauled, both by people who have lost the ability to do anything but feel and seethe.” Elevating emotion (even understandable emotion) over reason is precisely what statists do and have done for centuries, and something libertarians (and too few conservatives) rightfully decry. The end point of overreaching government is a reality where believers are forced to bake a cake to celebrate an act they view as sinful, but under no circumstances can they serve unlimited brunch.

If you believe markets work, if you believe people work, then you should have faith that legitimate bigotry will be punished by the marketplace. So Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A and all the cakemakers who only make heteronormative cake will see their business drop because they were anti-women or anti-gay or what have you. Giving the government the power to punish them – which really amounts to giving elite trial lawyers that power – is madness if you believe in people and markets. Decisions made by free people within markets will sort themselves out better than giving courts and government and bureaucrats the power to do the sorting. No one will shop at the Nazi store without being judged for shopping at the Nazi store, so we don’t need government to ban the Nazi store. Continue Reading

13

Don Speaks!

Lawyers

 

 

Over the years I have often referred to my work in the law mines.  Yesterday I argued a case before the Third District Appellate Court in Illinois, Coal City Redi-Mix, et al, v. Pontiac Exchange.  The dispute was over which of these entities has the right to a motorcycle.  The case has a bit of significance under Illinois law since it will set a precedent as to the impact of citation to discover assets, a legal mechanism by which a creditor can find assets of a judgment debtor, liens on third parties, if the third party is a lender or a bona fide purchaser.  The case is somewhat technical in nature, but the oral argument was fun, and I thought some of my regular readers might find it enjoyable.  Go here and click on the audio link to Coal City Redi Mix v. Pontiac Exchange if you wish to listen to the oral argument.  If you do, I am sure you will come away thinking, “Don makes a living doing this type of thing?”.

26

PopeWatch: Pope of Silence?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Sandro Magister has some riveting commentary at his blog Chiesa:
But one morning, on November 18, instead of the devil he  took aim at the “single form of thinking that is the fruit of worldliness,” that wants to subject everything to “hegemonic uniformity.” A single form of thought, he continued, that already dominates the world and even legalizes “the death penalty,” even “human sacrifices” complete with “laws that protect them.” And he cited one of his favorite novels, the apocalyptic “Lord of the World” by Robert H. Benson.

When early this February he leafed through the sixteen pages of the UN report,  which peremptorily enjoin upon the Catholic Church that it “correct” its teaching on abortion, on the family, on sex, Francis must have become even more convinced that events were proving him right, that the prince of this world was really at work and by heaping praise on his vaunted “openness” wanted to associate even him, the pope, with the enterprise of making the Church conform to the hegemonic school of thought, in order to annihilate it.

It is not easy to enter into the mind of pope Bergoglio. His words are like the tiles of a mosaic whose design is not immediately apparent. He also makes tough and biting remarks, but never at a moment in which they could generate conflict.

If he had pronounced that tremendous homily of his against the single form of thought that intends to hegemonize the world the day after the publication of the UN report and explicitly in response to it, the event would have entered into the “breaking news” of global information. But it was not to be. Delivered on an arbitrary day, that same homily did not cause the slightest chagrin. It was ignored.

And yet it is precisely there that the concealed thought of the Jesuit pope is to be found, his judgment on the present era of the world.

“The view of the Church is known, and I am a son of the Church,” Francis says and says again. His thought is the same as that which is written in the catechism. And sometimes he recalls this combatively for those who expect him to change doctrine, as in the least-cited passage of his “Evangelii Gaudium,” where he has the harshest of words against the “right” to abortion.

But he never proclaims Church teaching out loud at a moment when the dispute over an issue has become heated.

He has kept quiet now that the euthanasia of children has been permitted by law in Belgium. He keeps himself apart from the millions of citizens of every faith who in France and in other countries are opposing the dissolution of the idea of the family made up of father, mother, and children. He has remained silent after the unprecedented affront of the UN report.

With this he intends to blunt the weapons of the adversary. To defeat him with the immense popularity of his figure as pastor of the mercy of God.

There is a Jacobin-style attack against the Church, not only in France, that simply wants to exclude it from civil discourse.

But there is also a more subtle attack that cloaks itself as a consensus for a Church refurbished and new, up to date, in step with the times. There is also this in the popularity of Francis, a pope “like never before,” finally “one of us,” molded through a copy-and-paste of his open, adaptable statements. Continue Reading

2

Priest of Andersonville

 

I normally take great pride in being an American, but there are passages in our history which all Americans should be ashamed of.  During our Civil War in many prison camps, both North and South, POWs were treated wretchedly with inadequate shelter, clothing and food.  The worst by far was Andersonville. The vast tragedy at Andersonville came about for a number of reasons. Continue Reading

3

February 27, 1864: First Union Prisoners Arrive at Andersonville

An Andersonville Survivor

One hundred and fifty years ago Union prisoners began arriving at the Andersonville prison camp.  A blot on American honor is the callous way in which many prisoners of war were treated during our Civil War, north and south.  (For a Union prison camp that had a death rate of 25%, google Elmira prison camp, or as the Confederates imprisoned there referred to it, Helmira.)   45,000 Union soldiers would be held at Andersonville and 13,000 of them would die through starvation, bad water, no sanitation and disease.   Accounts of what went on inside Andersonville beggar description.  Jesus wept, sums up the reaction of any decent soul to this abomination.  See the accompanying post for today for the grim details, and for a shining example of humanity by a man motivated by God’s love to love his enemies.

123

AZ “Anti-Gay” Bill Vetoed

As I expected, Arizona governor Jan Brewer has vetoed SB 1062. Though it has been described in the media as a bill that establishes a “right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers”, this is quite false. The aim of the bill was to provide the same protections currently afforded to religious institutions under state law to  “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church,” “estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity” and to allow religious defense to be used as a defense in lawsuits by the same entities.

In itself, the bill is harmless. It makes no reference to homosexuals, even though the outrageously unjust decision of Elane Photography v. Willock, which may be heard by the Supreme Court at some point in the reasonably near future, was the impetus behind it. In context, however, the bill was quite unnecessary and I believe will ultimately end up causing more harm than good.

In the first place, Elane v. Willock took place in New Mexico, wherein homosexuals are a “protected class” under NM state law. No such protections exist in AZ; ergo, no legislation along these lines was really needed at this time. The actual threat to religious liberty, at least from the vindictive sort of activism that has brought photographers and bakers to court, was non-existent. The summary and background written by proponents of the bill made Elane one of its core concerns without recognizing that NMs distinctive protections for homosexuals were responsible for the legal conflict in that state (as an aside, I do not believe Elane Photography refused service simply because Willock was gay).

Because the bill wasn’t really necessary and a tangible threat in the form of an actual lawsuit against a Christian business owner was not in play, it was easy to see it as an irrationally spiteful measure (as I would see the actions of Vanessa Willock against Elane Photography, by the way). Now it is one thing to have to put up with the left-wing media’s triumphalism when we have a moral duty to make a stand, as Elane Photography and other businesses have; it is another thing to have to witness the spectacle of melodrama from the homosexual political movement and its straight allies as Brewer announced her decision. The passage, veto, and failure of SB 1062 gave aid to our enemies who would trample our religious liberties into dust, and did harm to our own cause. I do not blame Brewer for this. I blame imprudence on the part our well-meaning friends in Arizona. As the governor herself put it:

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.

We must only fight battles that need fighting. Preemptive strikes didn’t work out too well for George W. Bush and they aren’t going to work out well for the social conservative movement. Right now this country is split – roughly half of it agrees with our basic proposition that the right to free exercise of religion and conscience outweighs a gay couple’s right to have any business they like participate in their gay weddings. If we push for unnecessary legislation against vague or non-existent threats and hand PR victories to the enemies of liberty, that balance could shift against us in short order.

The moral high ground never belongs to perceived aggressors. Only those who strike back in legitimate self-defense can strike with overwhelming force and the moral support of the people. If this lesson is not absorbed, then our cause will never prevail.

20

Catholic and Jesuit identity: The stormy petrils lose this round at Santa Clara University…

 

Despite the Siren song of the stormy petrils, a Bay Area News Group article reports that the Board of Trustees of Santa Clara University (SCU)—a Jesuit university—has upheld its decision last year to terminate elective abortion healthcare coverage for employees beginning January 1, 2015.

In a statement issued February 14, Board Chairman Robert Finocchio wrote:

In making the decision, the President carried out this duty. The decision was not a decision of condemnation or of exclusion, but rather one that flows from the University’s identity and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university.

In his statement, Finocchio merely reiterated what the Board had  stated previously when Fr. Engh announced the Board’s decision last fall.

As was entirely predictable, Fr. Engh’s announcement didn’t set well with SCU’s Faculty Senate, which objected strenuously. Members claimed that the Board’s new policy sent several messages: the Board doesn’t value diversity (not all employees support Church teaching), the Board doesn’t value inclusivity (having excluded faculty leaders from the process), and the Board was imposing Catholic doctrine on employees (many are not Catholic).

Addressing the protests, Fr. Engh announced a delay in the benefits change until January 2015. The extra year, he said, would allow the Faculty Senate to review the new policy and study options beyond SCU’s healthcare plan.

That said, in this round, the decision has been made. The Board didn’t reverse it, despite the Siren song of the stormy petrils.

Isn’t it refreshing to read that members of the Board of Trustees of a Catholic university are upholding their sacred trust? Would that members of the boards of every institution of U.S. Catholic higher education had as much spine!

Come to think of it: Why do so many of Board members live in mortal fear of and cower before the stormy petrils who charge them with not being diverse and inclusive as well as with imposing Church doctrine on employees? Or, is the real truth that many Board members actually side with the stormy petrils?

 

 

To read the Bay Area News Group article, click on the following link:
http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_25219267/abortion-debate-santa-clara-university-upholds-decision-drop

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

8

PopeWatch: Mammon

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Ah, the Church and money.  That has been a problem area since Judas was treasurer and helped himself to the contents of the purse.  Most popes, all of them over the past two centuries, have announced initiatives to reform this vexing area.  Pope Francis has his go at it:

 

In the most concrete sign to date of his intention to reform the Vatican, Pope Francis announced the creation Monday of a single authority to handle all business, administrative and personnel management at the Holy See, a response to the rash of financial scandals that have tarnished the Roman Catholic Church’s reputation among believers and nonbelievers.
The new Secretariat for the Economy will draw up the Vatican’s annual budget, call on lay experts for advice and launch surprise internal audits. The body will help ensure “a more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices, as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Heading the secretariat is Australian Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, who has been a critic of the Vatican’s lack of accounting transparency. Pell is a member of a group of eight handpicked cardinals whom Francis has tasked with advising him on how to reform the Holy See.
“If we make better use of the resources entrusted to us, we can improve our capacity to support the good works of the church, particularly our works for the poor and disadvantaged,” Pell, 72, said in a statement.

In a papal document known as a motu proprio, Francis decreed that Pell would work with a 15-member council made up of eight senior prelates from different parts of the world, as well as seven lay experts “of various nationalities, with financial skills and acknowledged professional status.” The pope has already hired independent firms such as Ernst & Young and KPMG to help shake up the Vatican’s complicated and murky bureaucracy.
Centralizing many financial powers under the new secretariat represents the biggest change to the Curia, the Vatican administration, since John Paul II overhauled operations in 1988. Continue Reading

8

How Will They Manage Without Their Cheap Serfs?

Democrat Alex Sink, champion of the working man and woman, let slip one of the main motivating factors behind immigration “reform”:  access to cheap labor.

Florida Democratic congressional candidate Alex Sink said immigration reform was important at a Tuesday debate because, without it, it would be difficult for employers to find people to clean hotel rooms and do landscaping.

“Immigration reform is important in our country,” she said. “We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? We don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.” Continue Reading

78

Pat Archbold’s Controversial Call for Unity

Pat Archbold has written an intriguing post arguing that the Pontificate of Pope Francis is the best opportunity to bring the SSPX back into the fold.

I have great concern that without the all the generosity that faith allows by the leaders of the Church, that this separation, this wound on the Church, will become permanent. In fact, without such generosity, I fully expect it. Such permanent separation and feeling of marginalization will likely separate more souls than just those currently associated with the SSPX.
 

I have also come to believe that Pope Francis’ is exactly the right Pope to do it. In his address to the evangelicals, he makes clear his real concern for unity.
 

So here is what I am asking. I ask the Pope to apply that wide generosity to the SSPX and to normalize relations and their standing within the Church. I am asking the Pope to do this even without the total agreement on the Second Vatican Council. Whatever their disagreements, surely this can be worked out over time with the SSPX firmly implanted in the Church. I think that the Church needs to be more generous toward unity than to insist upon dogmatic adherence to the interpretation of a non-dogmatic council. The issues are real, but they must be worked out with our brothers at home and not with a locked door.
 

Further, Pope Francis’ commitment to the aims of the Second Vatican Council is unquestioned. Were he to be generous in such a way, nobody would ever interpret it to be a rejection of the Council. How could it be? This perception may not have been the case in the last pontificate. Pope Francis is uniquely suited to this magnanimous moment.

You can go here to read the rest.

Now the link goes to Pat’s own blog and not the National Catholic Register, where Pat originally published this piece. And that is why I have called this post controversial, because for reasons that remain unfathomable, NCR has deemed fit to remove this post. Frankly I see nothing remotely objectionable with anything that he has written. Even if one disagrees with the upshot of it, why did NCR feel the need take this post down? It’s a bizarre decision, and frankly it leaves me gravely concerned about where we’re heading in the Catholic blogosphere and what is deemed as “acceptable” opinion.

6

Rubio on Harkin, Cuba and Venezuela

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Marco Rubio (R.Fla.) had been listening to Tom Harkin (D.Ia.), pro-abort “Catholic”, give a speech about his trip to Cuba in which he managed to completely ignore Communist oppression, and Rubio decided to reply.  It is a keeper.  Here is the text of the speech:

A few moments ago, the body was treated to a report from the senator from Iowa about his recent trip to Cuba. Sounded like he had a wonderful trip visiting, what he described as, a real paradise. He bragged about a number of things that he learned on his trip to Cuba that I’d like to address briefly. He bragged about their health care system, medical school is free, doctors are free, clinics are free, their infant mortality rate may be even lower than ours. I wonder if the senator, however, was informed, number one, that the infant mortality rate of Cuba is completely calculated on figures provided by the Cuban government. And, by the way, totalitarian communist regimes don’t have the best history of accurately reporting things. I wonder if he was informed that before Castro, Cuba, by the way, was 13th in the whole world in infant mortality. I wonder if the government officials who hosted him, informed him that in Cuba there are instances reported, including by defectors, that if a child only lives a few hours after birth, they’re not counted as a person who ever lived and therefore don’t count against the mortality rate.

I wonder if our visitors to Cuba were informed that in Cuba, any time there is any sort of problem with the child in utero they are strongly encouraged to undergo abortions, and that’s why they have an abortion rate that skyrockets, and some say, is perhaps the highest the world. I heard him also talk about these great doctors that they have in Cuba. I have no doubt they’re very talented. I’ve met a bunch of them. You know where I met them? In the United States because they defected. Because in Cuba, doctors would rather drive a taxi cab or work in a hotel than be a doctor. I wonder if they spoke to him about the outbreak of cholera that they’ve been unable to control, or about the three-tiered system of health care that exists where foreigners and government officials get health care much better than that that’s available to the general population.

I also heard him speak about baseball and I know that Cubans love baseball, since my parents were from there and I grew up in a community surrounded by it. He talked about these great baseball players that are coming from Cuba — and they are. But I wonder if they informed him — in fact, I bet you they didn’t talk about those players to him because every single one of those guys playing in the Major Leagues defected. They left Cuba to play here.

He also talked about how people would come up to him in the streets and not a single person said anything negative about America. Nobody came up to him wagging their fingers saying, ‘You Americans and your embargo is hurting us.’ I’m glad to hear that. Because everyone who wants to lift the embargo is constantly telling us that the Castros use that to turn the people against us. So obviously, that’s not true. So I’m glad to hear confirmation of what I already knew to be true. I heard about their wonderful literacy rate, how everyone in Cuba knows how to read. That’s fantastic. Here’s the problem: they can only read censored stuff. They’re not allowed access to the Internet. The only newspapers they’re allowed to read are Granma or the ones produced by the government.

I wish that someone on that trip would have asked the average Cuban, ‘With your wonderful literacy skills, are you allowed to read The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or any blog, for that matter?’ Because the answer’s, ‘No.’ So it’s great to have literacy, but if you don’t have access to the information, what’s the point of it? So I wish somebody would have asked about that on that trip. We heard about Mr. Gross, who is not in jail. He’s not a prisoner. He is a hostage. He is a hostage. And in the speech I heard a moment ago, I heard allusions to the idea that maybe we should — he didn’t say it, but I know the language, I know the code in this — that maybe there should be a spy swap. Here’s the problem: Mr. Gross was not a spy. You know what his crime was, if that’s what you can call it? He went to Cuba to hand out satellite radios to the Jewish community. But, we’re glad to hear that the Cubans are so nice to him that they let him walk 10,000 steps a day and do pull-ups and they let him build a necklace out of bottle cap tops. Very nice of them to allow him to do those things. How generous.

I wonder if anybody asked about terrorism, because Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. I wonder if anybody asked about the fact that, just a few months ago, a North Korean ship going from Cuba to North Korea was stopped in the Panama Canal and it contained items in violation of international sanctions against a government in North Korea that, a report just came out confirming what we already knew, has death camps and prison camps. And the Cubans are allowing them to evade these sanctions. Did that come up in any of the wonderful conversations in this socialist paradise in the Caribbean? I bet you it didn’t.

Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at, because they don’t know how to run their economy, they don’t know how to build, they don’t know how to govern a people. What they are really good at is repression. What they are really good at is shutting off information to the Internet and to radio and television and social media. That’s what they’re really good at. And they’re not just good at it domestically, they’re good exporters of these things. And you want to see exhibit A, B, C and D? I’m going to show them to you right now. They have exported repression in real-time, in our hemisphere, right now.

Let me show you the first slide here. This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez. And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government. He’s protesting against the government of Venezuela, which are puppets of Havana, completely infiltrated by Cubans and agents from Havana. Not agents, openly, foreign military affairs officials involved in Venezuela. You know why? Because the Venezuela government is giving them cheap oil and free oil, in exchange for help during these sorts of repressions. So here he is, he’s sitting in jail right now because he’s protesting against the government. He’s sitting in jail right now.

So here’s the next slide. This is Genesis Carmona. She’s a beauty queen and a student in a city called Valencia. She’s on that motorcycle because the government in Venezuela and the thug, these so-called civilian groups that they’ve armed — another export from Cuba, a model the Cubans follow — they shot her in the head. She died last week. This is the government that the Cubans support. Not just verbally, not just emotionally, but with training and tactics. This is who they export — this is what they do. And she’s dead. And this is her being taken on a motorcycle to the hospital where they were unable to save her life because she was shot in the head by Venezuelan security forces. Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: Burke on the Francis Effect

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This is interesting.  Raymond Cardinal Burke has an article in  L’Osservatore Romano on The Francis Effect.  Father Z provides the commentary:

During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.

At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, [I get a lot of this. A stewardess on a flight the other day gave me that song and dance.] for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation [read: mainstream media] of Pope Francis and his views.

Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, [read: hermeneutic] if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7). In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.

With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only [get that?] on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview”, [TBI™] ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context. [When Francis uttered the infamous “Who am I to judge?”, it was in a context.  HERE] But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.

[…]

In a similar way, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, [get that?] as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage. I think in particular of his words to the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: “It is always necessary to keep in mind the effective connection between the action of the Church which evangelizes and the action of the Church which administers justice. The service of justice is an undertaking of the apostolic life…. I encourage all of you to persevere in the pursuit of a clear and upright exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to their Pastors, especially when they trustingly request that their own status be authoritatively clarified” (ore, 15 November 2013, p. 8).

[So, Your Eminence, what is Francis doing?] Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church.

The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching. Continue Reading

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John Trumbull and Bunker Hill

“These fellows say we won’t fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!”

Major General Joseph Warren to his men prior to the battle of Bunker’s Hill

 

A lecture by John Walsh, emeritus director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, on John Trumbull’s painting on the battle of Bunker Hill and its historical accuracy, or lack thereof.  The painting has always been a favorite in my household, as it depicts my ancestor Major Andrew McClary of the New Hampshire militia.

Bunker Hill

Trumbull had witnessed the battle through field glasses, he was serving with the American army, although not with the portion fighting on Breed’s hill.  The painting shows the death of General Warren, and is entitled The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775,  the painting having been commissioned by Warren’s family.  Trumbull squeezes into the painting almost everyone famous who fought in the battle, both Americans and British.  Major Andrew McClary is shown raising his musket to brain a British soldier attempting to bayonet the dying Warren, a warlike action quite in character for him, and one which warms the cockles of my heart.  My wife has noted over the years how much I resemble Major Andrew and it is intriguing how his facial features have been passed down through the generations of my family.

The scene depicted is not historical, but rather a tribute to General Warren by having his death the center of the action.  To us it seems a very romantic version of the grim reality, but Abigail Adams, who heard the battle from her farm and saw the aftermath of the wounded and dead American soldiers, found it so realistic when she saw it that she shivered with the memories of the fight it aroused in her.  To most of us moderns war is simple butchery and unless it is shown as such, we are almost offended.  To the men and women of Abigail Adams’ generation, at least the Patriots, they would have been offended by a painting that only remembered the death and carnage, they needed few reminders of that, but that ignored the heroism and sacrifice that ultimately prevailed against the odds and established a new nation. Continue Reading

14

John Dingell, After Only Fifty-Eight Years, Calls It Quits

 

John Dingle Fifty-Eight Years Ago

 

After only 58 years in the House, one year longer than I have been alive, John Dingell (D.Mi.) decides to cut short his career in Congress:

Rep. John Dingell is leaving the Congress he’s served for longer than anyone else in United States history.

At a luncheon Monday in his beloved Downriver, the Dearborn representative says he will announce he won’t seek re-election this fall to the seat he’s held since 1955.

“I’m not going to be carried out feet first,” says Dingell, who will be 88 in July. “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”

Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill.

“But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”

More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.

“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets. Continue Reading

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Current Reading

 

 

When it comes to reading for amusement I am a plodder, taking my time on each page as if I am dining on a very good meal.  As a result perhaps, I have always read quite a few books at the same time, doing a few pages each day.  Here are some of the books I have been enjoying lately:

 

 

1.  Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure by Markos Kloos-To my surprise I find that I enjoy reading books on Kindle and I am beginning to devour e-books.  A good series by a new author.  Think Star Ship Troopers meets welfare state, with the protagonist helping to lead a revolt against a bleak system that uses the military to keep welfare recipients in huge enclaves and the world and space are trapped in endless Orwellian wars between two major power blocs.  Then the aliens invade.

2.  To Honor You Call Us by Paul Honsinger-Horatio Hornblower in space!  When the best of ships travel faster than light, but the men are still iron men wielding cutlasses!

3.  Charles V– William Robertson-Largely forgotten now, Robertson was the second best historian in Britain in the Eighteenth Century after Gibbon.  His opening chapter tracing the history of Europe up to the time of Charles V is a masterpiece examination of the forces that formed sixteenth century Europe.

4.  The End-Hitler’s Germany 1944-45-Ian Kershaw examines a fascinating question:  why did most ordinary Germans stand by the Third Reich to the bitter end?

5.   The Evolution of Strategy-Beatrice Heuser-A look at the concept of strategy in military affairs from antiquity to the present.  A bit dry but I can attest she has mastered the sources. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: No Gossip

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Pope Francis had some advice yesterday for his 19 new Cardinals:

Pope Francis on Sunday gave his new cardinals what amounted to a code of conduct : “no intrigue, gossip, power pacts, favoritism.”

Francis also urged the 19 men he elevated to cardinal a day earlier to avoid behaving as if they were in a royal court.

During his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis told the cardinals to strive to “be saints.” To achieve that, he advised them to simply love those who are hostile to them, bless those who speak badly of them, and “smile at those who perhaps don’t merit it.” Continue Reading

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The Answer

The Answer

We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.

Henry V to his brother prior to Agincourt, Henry V, Act III, Scene 6

The thirtieth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here, here and here.

 

Kipling, as I have often observed in this series, was not conventionally religious. Any man who could refer to himself as a good Christian atheist obviously would never qualify as being conventional in any sense in regard to faith.  However, many of Kipling’s poems do deal with religion, and few more powerfully than The Answer. At first glance a brief and simple poem, it deals with immensely complicated theological questions involving death, innocence, predestination and trust in God, a poetic rendition of the same issues raised in the Book of Job.

This poem, like Job, I suspect can only be understood completely by those afflicted with grief. The temptation when disaster overtakes us in this Vale of Tears, particularly disaster not brought on by any evil on our part, is to rail against our fate and against God.  This is natural, and it is always a mistake.  We are the children of a loving God and ultimately our response to what befalls us in this life can only be that of Job when he stands before God:

[1] Then Job answered the Lord, and said:

[2] I know that thou canst do all things, and no thought is hid from thee.

[3] Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge.

[4] Hear, and I will speak: I will ask thee, and do thou tell me.

[5] With the hearing of the ear, I have heard thee, but now my eye seeth thee.

[6] Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes. Continue Reading

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And Down Goes Lenin!

Lenin statues are being toppled all over the Ukraine.  As Iowahawk tweeted, if you are wondering who the good guys are in the Ukraine popular uprising, they are the ones toppling the Lenin statutes.

Of course the question is whether Putin now will intervene to support his deposed puppet:

Putin put his money on Yanukovich. He awarded him a $15 billion loan (a third of which has already been transferred to the Ukrainian treasury) to prop the failing economy and allow him to pull back from signing an agreement with the European Union last year. He gave him diplomatic backing and directed the Russian media to describe the protestors in Kiev as “terrorists” and “Nazis.”

But the Ukraine president wasn’t enough of a Putin. He wasted time negotiating with the opposition and the EU’s foreign ministers; he failed in threatening the oligarchs not to abandon him. He lost control of army and police units, who refused orders to violently suppress the protests. Worst of all, he allowed them to run riot through the center of Kiev and take dozens of police hostage.

Putin wasn’t surprised. He had already prepared a fallback plan, and now is presenting Ukrainians with a stark choice: Accept their status of citizen-subjects of a vassal state, or see entire regions of their country break away. Continue Reading

February 22, 1864: Battle of Okolona

Okolona Campaign

It is quite easy to assume that of the many victories won by General Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Civil War, the saddest for him was that of Okolona where his brother Colonel Jeffrey Forrest was killed leading a charge of his brigade.  As General Forrest himself observed:  War means fighting and fighting means killing.

As part of Sherman’s drive to take Meridian, Mississippi, read about that campaign here,  Major General William Sooy Smith led 7,000 cavalry out of Memphis to rendezvous with Sherman at Meridian.  But Smith got off to a late start, and Sherman, waiting for Smith for five days at Meridian, marched out of Meridian on February 20, 1864.  Smith, learning of this, headed back north towards Okolona, Mississippi, pursued by Forrest.  The pursuit was classic Forrest.  Outnumbered three to one, and short of ammunition, it was of course Forrest who was pursuing Smith!    Late on February 20, Forrest skirmished with Smith’s force at Prairie Station and Aberdeen, which hastened Smith’s retreat.

At dawn on February 22, on the prairie south of Okolona, Forrest opened the attack on Smith’s force, which had dismounted and prepared field fortifications.  Forrest’s frontal attack and flank probes quickly cause the Union troopers to retreat, abandoning five cannon.  The Federals reformed on a ridge, where Colonel Forrest received his mortal wound.  Forrest rushed to his brother, and cradling him in his arms cried “Jeffrey! Jeffrey!”.   He then told his adjutant to look after his brother’s body, and led the charge which swept the Union cavalry into headlong retreat, Forrest personally killing three Union soldiers in close combat.  Forrest pursued the retreating Federals for eleven miles.

The defeat was considered a vast humiliation for the Union Army and General Smith resigned from the Army before the year was out.   Here is the report of Forrest on the battle: Continue Reading

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Beyond Parody

Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  If you want a short description of the current feeble state of the Church Mushy in this country, this video is matchless.

Update:  Well what do you know!  The powers that be at Good Shepherd parish in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin made the original video private.  Fortunately Pat Archbold made a copy, see below, assuming they would do that!

 

3

Washington: The Greatest American Part II

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.

Pope Leo XIII

With the end of the Revolutionary War Washington was looking forward to a well earned retirement from public life at his beloved Mount Vernon.

On June 8, 1783 he sent a circular letter out to the states discussing his thoughts on the importance of the states remaining united, paying war debts, taking care of the soldiers who were wounded in the war and the establishment of a peace time military and the regulation of the militia.  It is an interesting document and may be read here.   No doubt Washington viewed this as in some respects his final thoughts addressed to the American people in his role as Commander in Chief.

Washington ends the letter with this striking passage:

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

The War having been won Washington resigned his commission to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland on December 23, 1783.  The next day he had reached his heart’s desire:  home, Mount Vernon.  Christmas the next day was probably the happiest in his life. Continue Reading

1

PopeWatch: No Gold for the Vatican

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One loss is good for the soul.  Too many losses is not good for the coach.

Knute Rockne

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

SOCHI, Russia––For only the third time in Winter Games history, the United States swept the podium, capturing the top three spots Thursday in Slopestyle Skiing’s Olympic debut, an event that many sports historians say was created in the past four years by a half-baked college kid in his dorm room in Colorado. In the meantime, the Vatican has yet to medal, leading EOTT to ask just why the Holy See National Team has failed to take to the podium.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s probably because there is no Holy See Olympic team. I’d definitely start there,” said EOTT sports reporter S.C. Naoum in an interview with Raymond Arroyo this morning. “The problem is that the Church is not impulsive. They take their time with nearly everything, including canonizations, which have been known to take centuries. There’s no way they could ever learn the ever-changing sports that seemingly materialize out of nowhere every four years.

The last time the Holy See had an Olympian was in the 2012 Vancouver games when Father Roberto Manisini competed in Cross Country Skiing. Mansini took last place that year after Vatican officials took nearly three months to pray and contemplate whether Mansisni should remain behind the pack to conserve energy, or to try to take an early lead. Afterwards came another two years of back-and-forth paper work passed from one Vatican department to the other, until then Pope Benedict XVI gave his final seal of approval to conserve his energy and wait for a better opportunity. Mansini came in last with a time of 19,723 hours. Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Pressure

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One of the biggest mistakes thus far of the current pontificate is those idiotic questionnaires which were ordered in preparation for the synod on the family in October, at least, judging from what Sandro Magister at Chiesa is reporting, that might well be the private assessment of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri:

Finally, on Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th of February there will be a meeting of the council of the general secretariat of the synod of bishops, coordinated by the new cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.

That assembly will begin to evaluate the responses to the questionnaire concerning the upcoming extraordinary synod in October, also dedicated to the pastoral care of the family.

The episcopal conferences of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already seen to spreading all over the world, through detailed press releases, the responses that have come to them, tipped very much out of balance toward the progressive side.

But this diffusion has been judged as a “unilateral initiative” and “not correct” by Baldisseri, who reiterated in an interview how the publication of these materials, which were supposed to have been sent “confidentially” to the Vatican, were by no means authorized.

Not only that. The new cardinal – also in the same interview published in the “Quotidiano Nazionale” on February 11 – also defined as “a possible interpretation” that which sees the release of the data as a form of pressure for influencing the work of the synod. Continue Reading

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An Apology

(I originally wrote this about five years ago when the blog readership was much smaller.  I thought that current readers might wish to know why I refer to Planned Parenthood as Worse Than Murder, Inc.)

Lately, in several posts, I have been in the habit of referring to Planned Parenthood as Murder, Inc.  I apologize for doing so.  It was unfair of me to draw this type of comparison.

 

In the late twenties of the last century, gangsters Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky set up the National Crime Syndicate.  Organized crime needed a mechanism to keep anarchy from breaking out within its ranks between various gangs and factions.  Operating out of a 24 hour candy store in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, Murder, Inc. ( the name was a newspaper invention) provided this mechanism.  Louis “The Judge” “Lepke” Buchalter and Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia were the leaders of Murder, Inc.

The Syndicate, by majority vote, would order the slaying of an unruly gangster and Murder, Inc would carry it out.  The hitmen of Murder, Inc. operated under strict guidlines.  No innocent bystanders were to be killed.  No hits could be ordered against judges, police or prosecuting attorneys for fear of reprisals from law enforcement.

Over the years Murder, Inc. murdered some 800 fellow gangsters.  In 1940 the downfall of the murder enterprise began when Murder, Inc. killer Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles, turned informant in order to save himself from the electric chair.  Louis “The Judge” “Lepke” Buchalter died in the chair in Sing Sing in 1944, after the US Supreme Court rejected his appeal which raised, among other issues, the contention of Buchalter that lurid press coverage had tainted the jury.  Other Murder, Inc. members swiftly followed “The Judge” down the last mile.  Albert “The Madhatter” Anastasia would have followed in their footsteps but for the tragic “accidental” death of Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles when he fell from room 623 of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island.  In the gang world he was ever after known as “The Canary that sung but couldn’t fly.”  However, with the attention of law enforcement focused upon it, Murder, Inc. could no longer function and it ceased to exist except as a gangland legend.

Based upon this grim record I hope you can see why it is necessary for me to apologize—to Murder, Inc.  Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Impatient Lefties

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Some of the Pope’s fans on the left are beginning to get impatient:

Spanish revolutionary, Harvard-educated public health specialist, abortion rights advocate and Roman Catholic nun.

These four labels seldom apply to the same person, but Sister Teresa Forcades, a 48-year-old woman from Barcelona, straddles many worlds.

In Europe she is the star of televised debates on feminism and religion, a leader of the Occupy movement in Spain who has taken on big corporate interests and a fierce critic of modern capitalism. 

She pulls no punches with her views. “I don’t think it is possible to have democracy and capitalism. They go against each other because the way we live capitalism is that we allow some corporations to have such power that they are able to influence government. And that’s the problem,” she told Al Jazeera in an interview.

Until recently, these controversial opinions might have led to her being reprimanded by the Vatican. But now, with a new leader in power apparently committed to fundamentally changing the church’s approach on social justice issues, she believes she’s merely taking some of Pope Francis’ ideas and running with them.

The new pope has invigorated the previously isolated social justice wing of the church, a change that many leading activists have welcomed. But at the same time, others are warning that his papacy has so far been more about a shift in tone than about substantive change on key issues such as abortion, women’s ordination and gay rights. Continue Reading

8

How Corrupt is Illinois? This Corrupt

Understanding Illinois Politics

 

 

Ah, my home state.  Just when you think it has hit rock bottom it sinks lower.  Paul Mirengoff of the Powerline blog gives us the details of the latest outrage in the Land of Lincoln:

 

Arthur Bishop, the new director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), was convicted in the 1990s of bilking his employer, a substance abuse counseling center, out of money received from its clients. According to the center’s director at the time, Bishop created a bogus program for convicted drunk drivers. He took money from patients and provided them with forms they wrongly believed would allow them to get their driver’s licenses back.

Unfortunately for Bishop’s victims, the center wasn’t licensed by the state to provide that service at the time. Bishop pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is standing by his decision to make Bishop the state’s top child-welfare official. He claims to see no connection between Bishop’s corruption and his ability to lead a department that has been plagued by charges of failure to keep track of its money. In December, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued a Chicago businessman and friend of a former DCFS director to recover millions of dollars in state grant money the businessman allegedly misspent.

If Quinn can’t see the connection between stealing and unfitness to run a large government agency, perhaps he can connect the dots on Bishop’s own “children and family” issues. Court records show that a paternity case was filed against Bishop in 2003, when he was a DCFS deputy director. DNA tests showed he was the father of Erica Bishop, then 17.

According to the child’s mother, Bishop, who was married to another woman when Erica was born, “denies his own daughter’s existence” even though “he visited us on numerous occasions at my parents’ house when she was a child.” The mother further alleged that Bishop “even asked me if he could live in with me if his wife put him out after she learned the truth.” Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Theophany

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa brings us some comments made by Pope Francis on the liturgy:

But on Monday, February 10, with no forewarning Jorge Mario Bergoglio broke the silence and dedicated to the liturgy the entire homily of the morning Mass in the chapel of Santa Marta. Saying things he has never said before, since he became pope.

That morning the passage was read from the first book of Kings in which during the reign of Solomon the cloud, the divine glory, filled the temple and “the Lord decided to dwell in the cloud.”

Taking his cue from that “theophany,” pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio said that “in the Eucharistic liturgy God is present” in a way even “closer” than in the cloud in the temple, his “is a real presence.”

And he continued:

“When I speak of the liturgy I am mainly referring to the holy Mass. The Mass is not a representation, it is something else. It is living once again the redemptive passion and death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord makes himself present on the altar in order to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”

Further on the pope said:

“The liturgy is the time of God and space of God, and we must put ourselves there in the time of God, in the space of God, and not look at our watches. The liturgy is nothing less than entering into the mystery of God, allowing ourselves to be carried to the mystery and to be in the mystery. It is the cloud of God that envelops us all.”

And looking back on one of his childhood memories:

“I recall that as a child, when they were preparing us for first communion, they had us sing: ‘O holy altar guarded by the angels,’ and this made us understand that the altar was truly guarded by the angels, it gave us the sense of the glory of God, of the space of God, of the time of God.”

Coming to the conclusion, Francis invited those present to “ask the Lord today to give all of us this sense of the sacred, this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray the rosary, to pray many beautiful prayers, make the way of the cross, read the bible, and the Eucharistic celebration is another thing. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that path which we cannot control. He alone is the one, he is the glory, he is the power. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord may teach us to enter into the mystery of God.” Continue Reading

21

In Other News, Water is Wet

One of the most beloved fairy tales in this country is that the Government, which seems unable to balance its own books, can by fiat, with no consequences to employment, tell employers that they must pay a minimum wage.  Economist Thomas Sowell, who, like me, began his career earning less than the then mandated minimum wage, explains what an appallingly bad idea this is:

One of the simplest and most fundamental economic principles is  that people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the  price is higher. Yet advocates of minimum wage laws seem to think that  the government can raise the price of labor without reducing the amount  of labor that will be hired.

When you turn from economic principles to hard facts, the case  against minimum wage laws is even stronger. Countries with minimum wage  laws almost invariably have higher rates of unemployment than countries  without minimum wage laws.

Most nations today have minimum wage laws, but they have not  always had them. Unemployment rates have been very much lower in places  and times when there were no minimum wage laws.

Switzerland is one of the few modern nations without a minimum  wage law. In 2003, “The Economist” magazine reported: “Switzerland’s  unemployment neared a five-year high of 3.9 percent in February.” In  February of this year, Switzerland’s unemployment rate was 3.1 percent. A recent issue of “The Economist” showed Switzerland’s unemployment rate  as 2.1 percent.

Most Americans today have never seen unemployment rates that  low. However, there was a time when there was no federal minimum wage  law in the United States. The last time was during the Coolidge  administration, when the annual unemployment rate got as low as 1.8  percent. When Hong Kong was a British colony, it had no minimum wage  law. In 1991 its unemployment rate was under 2 percent.

It therefore came as little surprise to me yesterday when the CBO estimated that raising the minimum wage would kill off half a million jobs in 2016:

 

President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost 500,000 jobs in 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The report also found hiking the wage from $7.25 per hour would raise income for about 16.5 million workers by $31 billion, potentially pulling nearly 1 million people out of poverty.

The White House and economic groups on the left immediately pushed back at the CBO’s conclusions on jobs even as they hailed the findings on poverty, saying its conclusions on jobs ran counter to other research.

“CBO’s estimates of the impact of raising the minimum wage on employment does not reflect the current consensus view of economists,” Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman wrote in a blog post. “The bulk of academic studies, have concluded that the effects on employment of minimum wage increases in the range now under consideration are likely to be small to nonexistent.”

Given its findings on poverty alleviation, Furman told reporters the CBO report was an overall positive for the White House.

“Sometimes you have to have a respectful disagreement among economists,” Furman said in a conference call. “I think a lot of economists who have looked at [the] literature would summarize it differently than CBO has done here.”

Democrats are hoping to make the minimum wage a top issue in the 2014 midterms if the GOP blocks passage of a bill, but the CBO report would bolster Republican arguments for stopping a wage hike. Continue Reading

3

His Rotundity

His Rotundity

To many Americans it often seems that Congress wastes an inordinate amount of time debating on trivialities.  It is at least an old tradition.  The Senate spent a month in 1789 debating what the title of the President should be.  Washington during the Revolution had often been known informally as His Excellency, but at that time that was the common title for governors of states.  Vice-President John Adams thought that the President needed a royal, or at least a  princely, title  to sustain the dignity of the office.  He suggested such titles as “His Highness” and “His Benign Highness” demonstrating once again how tone deaf to public opinion he tended to be, the American people post Revolution being decidedly anti-monarchical.  Eventually a Senate committee approved the title “His Highness, the President of the United States, and the Protector of Their Liberties”.

Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson was aghast at the whole business and recalled Benjamin Franklin’s description of Adams as a man who means well for his country, is always an honest man, sometimes a wise one, and who,  some times, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses.

Washington initially favored the unwieldy formulation of “His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties,” but was aghast at the criticism that all of this smacked of monarchy, and eagerly agreed to the simple title of Mr. President that James Madison succeeded in having the House of Representatives approve. Continue Reading

7

Math is Hard For Liberals

OBAMA-MATH-IS-HARD-HOPE-IS-EASY

Over the years I have often noted the air of unreality that surrounds most liberal policy proposals.  They often boil down to government action surrounded by wishful thinking with not a clue as to what the consequences will be.  Obamacare is a culmination of this mentality.  John Hinderaker at Powerblog gives us another prime example:

 

I have written that on the Left, a “wonk” is any liberal who can multiply and divide. But liberals often trip over even that low threshold. Take, for example, this piece by Norman Ornstein in National Journal. Ornstein–a friend, former colleague at AEI and occasional debating opponent of Steve Hayward–proposes a modest solution to the problem of economic inequality and the declining fortunes of America’s middle class:

The first iteration of KidSave, in simple terms, was this: Each year, for every one of the 4 million newborns in America, the federal government would put $1,000 in a designated savings account. The payment would be financed by using 1 percent of annual payroll-tax revenues. Then, for the first five years of a child’s life, the $500 child tax credit would be added to that account, with a subsidy for poor people who pay no income [tax]. The accounts would be administered the same way as the federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan, with three options—low-, medium-, and high-risk—using broad-based stock and bond funds. Under the initial KidSave proposal, the funds could not be withdrawn until age 65, when, through the miracle of compound interest, they would represent a hefty nest egg. At 5 percent annual growth, an individual would have almost $700,000. …

Imagine if we adjusted the KidSave rules so that at certain pivot points in life, individuals could withdraw a portion of their nest egg to pay for college expenses or a down payment on a house or a medical or other emergency, or even the creation of a small business, while still making sure that a substantial share of the funds would stay in a retirement account. We could ameliorate many of the problems facing hard-pressed middle-class and working-class families and encourage entrepreneurship, while protecting a major nest egg for retirement years.

So let’s get this straight: you give a kid $3,500, and in 60 years, at 5%, he has $700,000? Ornstein refers to “the miracle of compound interest,” but this would be a miracle more akin to that of the loaves and fishes. A reader who is an expert in finance corrects the math:

Ornstein states that inequality can be alleviated through this mechanism because “…through the miracle of compound interest, they would represent a hefty nest egg. At 5 percent annual growth [sic], an individual would have almost $700,000.” [emphasis added]

Now this struck me as highly implausible for a very simple reason. It was immediately and intuitively apparent to me that the numbers were — not slightly, not somewhat, not arguably — but wildly inaccurate. Anyone who has ever done even a bit of bond or loan math would, without any calculation, also immediately know that $1000+$500*5 (about $4,200 at 5%) over 60 years could not possibly accumulate to “almost $700,000” at “5% annual growth [sic]”. I calculated that with a 5% annual rate of return, even compounded continuously, the funds accumulate to only about $84,000, not even close: off by a factor of more than 8 times! In fact, it would require a 9% annual rate of return, 80% greater than assumed, compounded continuously, to accumulate $700,000. (It took about 30 seconds to run these numbers.)

This is not a trivial mistake like a proofreading oversight, or a quibble about arcane calculations or analysis. It is a major error, a fundamental misconception, and not incidental to the main point: it has the effect of completely undermining the entire proposal! An average freshman majoring in business at a middling university after about 5 weeks wouldn’t make such an obvious and fundamental error! And yet not only did Ornstein base his proposal on such an embarrassing mistake but apparently NO ONE at the National Journal in an editorial role had the wit to see such a laughably obvious problem with the argument.

I don’t mean to single out Ornstein. I think the point is more about the MSM incompetence and New Class pretensions of intellectual and moral entitlement to rule. We should keep this (admittedly egregious) example in mind whenever we read the standard MSM formulation, as parodied by Mickey Kaus, purporting to support a liberal proposal on supposedly objective, rational well-informed opinion: “growing numbers of experts say that studies show that…blah, blah, blah…”

Note, too, that for Ornstein’s proposal to mean what he thinks it means, the 5% has to be a real rate of return. I am no finance guy, but it was immediately obvious to me that Ornstein’s numbers are ridiculous. If you could turn $3,500 into $700,000 in 60 years at 5%, I wouldn’t be practicing law these days. As Rocky said to his two goldfish, “If you guys could sing and dance, I wouldn’t be doin’ this.” Money, unfortunately, does not sing and dance as hypothesized by Ornstein. Continue Reading

26

PopeWatch: Fashion?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Rorate Caeli has some fairly dispiriting news about Pope Francis thinking that a desire for the TLM is a mere fashion choice:

 

[Abp. Jan Graubner speaks:] When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. “When I search more thoroughly – the Pope said – I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: ‘móda‘, Italian ‘moda‘]. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us.Continue Reading

17

Blood Money

 

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the report of Marianne Anderson who worked at a Planned Parenthood Worse Than Murder, Inc. clinic in Indianapolis, and who left under the inspiration of former Planned Parenthood Worse Than Murder, Inc., clinic director Abby Johnson who is now a pro-life crusader.  Unsurprisingly she quickly learned that all the killing was to make a buck.

 

 

Q. What was it like working there?

A. “It was a money-grubbing, evil, very sad, sad place to work.

“We would get yelled at if we didn’t answer the phone by the third ring. They would tell us we’d be fired [if we didn’t] because they needed the money.

“They would remind us in our weekly staff meeting that we need to tell everyone [who called to schedule an appointment] to avoid ‘those people’ [the sidewalk counselors] because we need the money. We were to tell them, ‘Don’t make eye contact with them, and don’t stop in the driveway. If you make eye contact with them or if you stop and roll down your window, they’re going to try their darnedest to talk you out of it.’

“You have to have so many [abortions] a month to stay open. In our meetings they’d tell us, ‘If abortions are down, you could get sent home early and not get as many hours.’

“They would allow girls to have ultrasounds that were obviously way too far along [the legal limit for having an abortion in Indiana is 13 weeks and six days]. They said, ‘If they want to be seen, you just put them through, no problem,’ just taking advantage to make money.

“I was always getting in trouble for talking too long to the girls, asking if they were sure they wanted to do this.

“It was absolutely miserable going in there.” … Continue Reading

16

The Newman Center at the University of New Mexico: The stormy petril’s angry narrative…

 

Given the outcry on the part of the stormy petrils and length of the article in the National Catholic Reporter Online (NCR), one would think the world had come to an end.

At least, according to the “narrative.” It seems as if everything today is about a “narrative.”

Consider the angry narrative providing the subtext of the NCR article.

On January 13, 2014, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Santa Fe Archdiocese told the pastor of Aquinas Newman Center that the Dominicans’ service would be terminated on June 30, 2014. Worse yet, the ham-handed, conservative Archbishop issued this edict allegedly without any prior consultation. And, rubbing some salt into the ecclesial wound he was unnecessarily inflicting upon all of the Center’s students and parishioners, the Archbishop stated in the press release he issued announcing the change that two “fine young priests” of his Archdiocese would be replacing the Dominicans. (The latter obviously aren’t “young” and perhaps will be touted as victims of age discrimination.) Those two priests include the Archdiocese’s vocation director and University of New Mexico (UNM) alumnus, Fr. Michael DePalma, who will serve as pastor. The parochial vicar will be Fr. Simon Carian, 26. Ordained last year, Carian is a University of Notre Dame alumnus currently studying medical ethics in Rome.

Why the change?

Consider Archbishop Sheehan’s pastoral narrative which added fuel to the angry narrative. In his press release, the Archbishop stated:

Having Archdiocesan priests at the Newman Center will enhance relations with the Archdiocese’s pastors and parishes of whose young adults attend [UNM], as well as promote diocesan vocations.

The angry narrative’s reaction?

To paraphrase: The nerve of His Excellency! This is the post-Vatican II Church, not the patriarchal and triumphal post-Tridentine Church! That man has no right to remove our beloved Dominicans. For gracious sakes, he even dumped the name “Aquinas” that has been in the Center’s title for as long as everyone can remember. Hrrumphhhh….

Some background information concerning the two narratives.

The Dominicans have served UNM’s Aquinas Newman Center in Albuquerque since 1950. The Center currently serves more than 500 UNM students and 750 families. One Mass is offered daily and five Masses are offered on Sundays. The Center also provides campus ministry, parish social groups, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and service opportunities.

Now, in light of these competing narratives, what may be the real narrative: Archbishop Sheehan is well aware of the success many Newman Centers across the nation are having in fostering vocations to the priesthood, especially those centers where “young” priests serve. The Dominicans never had much success in this regard during their 60+ years of service at the Center. So, the Archbishop decided to staff the Newman Center with his men and have them run it in the style that has demonstrated success at other universities and colleges.

That has the stormy petrils in an uproar. An allegedly “pre-Vatican II” bishop is seeking to destroy the “Pope Francis Church” the Dominicans have constructed and which parishioners seem to enjoy very much. After all, one subtext to the angry narrative is that parishioners must enjoy going to Mass (or “services” as the NCR article called them). As the Newman Center’s current pastor, Fr. Dan Davis, OP, opined:

The parishioners are very progressive, very intellectual, and they resonated with the way we preached. The Newman Center tends to be a conglomeration of disenfranchised Christians from around the city–which confirms the very things that the bishop is contesting.

In an email circulated to parishioners, a former UNM student and longtime Center parishioner, Chuck Wellborn, provided some additional details:

The Archbishop has made critical statements about our parish to others in the Archdiocese….These comments suggest that he believes our parish is insufficiently doctrinaire. It is certainly true that the Newman Center attracts parishioners with a wide variety of backgrounds and views, in particular university students and faculty. In that sense, our parish is quite dissimilar and perhaps more liberal in its thinking than at the Archdiocese’s non-university parishes.

Is that what has the stormy petrils in an uproar? A Newman Center that was intended primarily to serve students’ religious, spiritual, and moral needs has developed into a parish that operates as a “quasi-exempt” institution in the Archdiocese, meaning “operating parallel to but not necessarily in tandem with the Archbishop and his clergy.” And now, Archbishop Sheehan is quashing that long-term “arrangement.”

Despite the anger espoused by Fr. Davis and parishioner Wellborn, not all are happy with the current arrangement and support the Archbishop’s decision.

For example, on January 13, a UNM student, Colt Balok, posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself having dinner with Archbishop Sheehan. Balok captioned the picture, “I had a great dinner with Archbishop Sheehan tonight. UNM, he has some great news for us Catholics!” Then, in a Letter to the Editor printed on January 29 in the Daily Lobo, UNM’s student newspaper, Balok said:

…[the Newman Center] needs to be a place where the body and blood of Christ is adored and worshipped, not a place where the altar servers wear polo shirts and fail to honor and respect our Lord Jesus Christ….Thank you, Archbishop, for making the Newman Center Catholic again. My friends and I will no longer have to travel to other parishes to attend Mass.

Good for Archbishop Sheehan!

The Motley Monk would observe that His Excellency has every right to provide UNM students a religious, spiritual, and moral home in a way that fits his overall pastoral plan and its objectives. One objective is to increase the number of vocations to the diocesan priesthood so that UNM students will continue to be served by the Archdiocese. And, the Archbishop has every right to staff it with his men who will run it in the way the Archbishop desires.

Given the demographics, archbishops and bishops across the United States no longer can depend on the religious communities of men to provide manpower, especially manpower that is not self-sustaining. Now is the time to envision the future, not to look backwards in hope that the 1960s and 1970s will return.

 

 

To read the National Catholic Reporter Online article, click on the following link:
http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/albuquerque-newman-center-parishioners-decry-dominican-exit

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

16

Washington: The Greatest American-Part I

George Washington

by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét

Sing hey! For bold George Washington,

That jolly British tar,

King George’s famous admiral

From Hull to Zanzibar!

No–wait a minute–something’s wrong–

George wished to sail the foam.

But, when his mother thought aghast,

Of Georgie shinning up a mast,

Her tears and protests flowed so fast

That George remained at home.

Sing ho! For grave Washington,

The staid Virginia squire,

Who farms his fields and hunts his hounds

And aims at nothing higher!

Stop, stop it’s going wrong again!

George liked to live on farms,

But when the Colonies agreed

They could and should and would be freed,

They called on George to do the deed

And George cried “Shoulder arms!”

Sing ha! For Emperor Washington,

That hero of renown,

Who freed his land from Britain’s rule

To win a golden crown!

No, no, that’s what George might have won

But didn’t for he said,

“There’s not much point about a king,

They’re pretty but they’re apt to sting

And, as for crowns–the heavy thing

Would only hurt my head.”

Sing ho! For our George Washington!

(At last I’ve got it straight.)

The first in war, the first in peace,

The goodly and the great.

But, when you think about him now,

From here to Valley Forge,

Remember this–he might have been

A highly different specimen,

And, where on earth would we be, then?

I’m glad that George was George.

I have never liked President’s Day.  Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln?   Officially the date is still the commemoration of George Washington’s birthday and in this post we will recall the life of the greatest American who ever lived.  Ironically in the length of a blog post we will be unable to cover all of Washington’s event filled life, including his Presidency.  We will break off at the close of the Revolution and finish off on February 22, the actual birthday of the man who will always be first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of all of us who, as Americans, in many ways are his children.

Only Abraham Lincoln comes close to Washington in our American secular pantheon.  Our first president, he was also the man who led our armies to victory in the Revolutionary War, a conflict I am certain that we would have lost but for his leadership, faith and example.  In his own time, and from his days as a very young man, most people who encountered Washington assumed he was destined for greatness.  Six foot three at a time when most men were around five foot six, Washington was a literal giant for his day, weighing 220 pounds of muscle, and noted for his feats of strength.  A quiet aura of dignity and command seemed to envelop him from the first time that he put on the uniform of a Virginia militia officer.  He had a hot temper that he usually successfully controlled beneath a mask of quiet dignity, leavened by a lively sense of humor.  However, none of these explain why men and women instinctively looked to him for leadership, but they always did.  Perhaps it was simply a matter of trust.  Although the cherry tree is a myth, Washington was always known to be an honest man, and a man who could be entrusted with great tasks that he would attempt to do out of a sense of duty and not for personal aggrandizement.  Such men are very rare in history, and almost all Washington’s contemporaries realized that he was  such a rarity.

Washington of course did not appear full grown on the stage of history.  When he was born none would have expected him to have any historical significance in his life. Continue Reading

9

November 16, 1934: Winston Churchill Warns of Nazi Germany

The things that you find on Youtube!  Churchill warning in a radio broadcast during the second year of Nazi rule of the threat posed by them to the peace of Europe.  Churchill tells a very old truth:  one side of a dispute embracing functional pacifism, short of abject surrender, will not make war less likely, but rather ensure the coming of war.

Bonus:  The actor Robert Hardy in 1986 gave a ninety minute presentation on Churchill.  In the below excerpt he talks about socialism and the impossibility of isolationism as a foreign policy for the United States: Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Biden Culpa

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

Washington, DC––Vice President Joe Biden announced today that he was stepping down as Vice President just hours after an altercation on the phone between Biden and President Obama regarding the sanctity of life. This comes on the heels of Biden’s visit with with Pope Francis after the conclusion of the pope’s Installation Mass, in which Biden could be heard uttering the words “what have I done…what have I done.” “It appears as though Mr. Biden has had a change of heart with regards to the abortion issue after his meeting with the pope earlier today,” U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney told the press moments ago. “He [Biden] called President Obama and informed him that he could no longer stand by as millions of babies were aborted. He also said that he had confessed his sins and now looked to remain in good standings with the Church and the good Lord. He also urged President Obama to make peace with God.” Although the full details of the phone conversation have been slow to come out, Washington insiders have said that after a heated debate about when life begins, Biden told President Obama that he was stepping down ”effective immediately” to live a life of prayer and meditation. Biden aides have yet to comment on the details, but have confirmed reports that the former vice president had placed a call to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI about staying with him until he could get an abandoned monastery of his own to live out the rest of his life. At press time, a bare-chested Biden was seen on his knees outside St. Peter’s Basilica, repeatedly lashing himself as he screamed the words “mea culpa” in reparation for his sins. Continue Reading

6

Socialism Never Works: Venezuela Edition

 

 

It is painful to see a venerable superstition dying a hard death.  I am of course referring to the superstition of socialism.  Since the 19th century socialism has had an iron hold of  the mentalities of many elites, and would be elites, in most nations around the globe.  Wherever it has been tried it has proved damaging to economies and where its attempts have been extreme enough the socialist economies prove to be productive only in producing mass poverty.  The latest example of this is in Venezuela, currently undergoing riots, as Maduro, Chavez’s successor, oversees an economy in free fall and desperate protestors take to the streets at the risk of murderous repression at the hands of Maduro’s thugs.  Richard Fernandez at PJ Media tells us how bad the economy has become in Venezuela:

 

The suddenness of Venezuela’s collapse should have come as no surprise because downfalls are inherently abrupt. Collapse is a phase change. One moment something is sailing along fat, dumb and happy and the next moment it is sinking beneath the waves. The change from two to one is a loss of 50%; but the change from one to zero is binary.

So it was in Venezuela. Imagine waiting two years to buy a car and finding just when you thought you finally buy one that there are no cars for sale at all.

Leonardo Hernandez had hoped to buy a new car this year, ending nearly two years of waiting on various lists at different dealerships throughout the country.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

Think of not being able to buy soap, rice or toilet paper or order a cup of coffee, where even the rich are feeling poor. “In the serene private clubs of Caracas, there is no milk, and the hiss of the cappuccino machine has fallen silent. In the slums, the lights go out every few days, or the water stops running. In the grocery stores, both state-run shops and expensive delicatessens, customers barter information: I saw soap here, that store has rice today. The oil engineers have emigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia. And in the beauty parlours of this nation obsessed with elaborate grooming, women both rich and poor have cut back to just one blow-dry or manicure each week.”

Imagine there’s no money to keep up the sovereign bond payments, the only source of money to keep power plants going. Continue Reading

29

“Planned Parenthood abortion clinic: We cannot cooperate with evil…”

 

Planned Parenthood is constructing a new $42.M, 8k-square foot building in New Orleans.The City of New Orleans has already approved the construction permit and the facility is scheduled to open later this year. It is estimated that 30 abortions will be able to be performed each day at the facility.

Archbishop Gregory M, Aymond  of the Archdiocese of New Orleans isn’t taking the news sitting down, taking direct aim at the facility in a letter published in the Archdiocesan newspaper, the Clarion Herald.

“We cannot be silent in view of the grave injustice presented by the abortions that will be performed at the Planned Parenthood facility,” Aymond wrote. “The Archdiocese is obliged to remind every person and organization involved in the acquisition, preparation, and construction of this or any abortion facility that they are cooperating with the evil that will take place there.”

Aymond

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond
Archdiocese of New Orleans

Not mincing his words, Archbishop Aymond fired off a unique first salvo:

For this reason, the Archdiocese, including the churches, schools, apartments for the elderly and nursing homes, will strive in its privately funded work not to enter into business relationships with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality.

This policy applies to all businesses, regardless of religious affiliation or non-affiliation. Our fidelity to Church teaching and our conscience necessitates this stance. There is no justification, including economic hardship that will make a direct or indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood, or any abortion provider, acceptable. Additionally, affiliation or support of Planned Parenthood by Catholics is a matter of serious scandal. (emphasis added)

In his final salvo, Aymond noted:

There are many issues, from violence in the streets to poverty, which hurt this community. A regional abortion center will not solve our problems; it will only create more….We hope that the community invested in the City of New Orleans and in her future will join us in standing for life, not more abortion. All citizens of the New Orleans area must stand together for a peaceful community, not one with more abortion and more Planned Parenthood.

Kudos to Archbishop Aymond! His Excellency not only is attention to the facility, but also calling upon Catholics and non–Catholics alike to use their economic clout in the cause of life. Pressuring those who have or will be participating in this grave evil by entering into direct or indirect business relationships with the facility is a very clever way to challenge Catholics, in particular, to put their faith into economic practice.

How’s that for some authentic Catholic social justice?

 

 

To read Archbishop Aymond’s letter, click on the following link:
http://clarionherald.info/clarion/index.php/news/archbishop-aymond/2992-planned-parenthood-abortion-clinic-we-cannot-cooperate-with-evil

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

5

PopeWatch: Francis Effect?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Catholic clerics in Europe have been reporting that more Catholics have been attending Mass since Pope Francis became Pope.  According to one survey, this has not been the case in America:

According to the survey, 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as Catholic — virtually unchanged from 2007 and the same as when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected the successor to the ailing Pope Benedict XVI in March. Similarly, weekly Mass attendance levels in the eight months of Francis’ young papacy have remained stable at 39 percent — a slight statistical decline from the 40 percent reported 2012, the last full year of Benedict’s papacy.

Francis’ global popularity and favorable media coverage have led some to search for the “Francis Effect,” with Catholic clergy members having noticed an increase in church attendance in Italy, Britain and other countries.

“So many are returning to the sacraments, in some cases after decades,” observed Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence, Italy, in an interview with The London Guardian.

Pope Francis has thrilled some and unnerved others inside the church with his forthright statements on issues such as social justice for the poor, fair treatment of the disabled and personal humility, while downplaying many of the social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In a marked contrast with his predecessor, Francis has eschewed the luxurious papal residence, shown a popular touch while wading into large crowds and washed the feet of prisoners. Continue Reading

5

Freedom of the Press is for All of Us

Freedom of the Press Under Obama

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Thomas Jefferson

Hattip to Instapundit. Josh Stearns at Huffington Post reports on the fact that the media in the US isn’t quite as free as it used to be.

 

According to a new report from Reporters Without Borders, there was a profound erosion of press freedom in the United States in 2013.

After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group’s global press freedom rankings to number 46.

Reporters Without Borders writes that the U.S. faced “one of the most significant declines” in the world last year. Even the United Kingdom, whose sustained campaign to criminalize the Guardian’s reporters and intimidate journalists has made headlines around the world, dropped only three spots, to number 33. The U.S. fell as many spots as Paraguay, where “the pressure on journalists to censor themselves keeps on mounting.”

Citing the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, including its secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, the authors write that “freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.”

The threats facing newsgathering in the U.S. are felt by both longstanding journalists like New York Times national security reporter James Risen, who may serve jail time for refusing to reveal a source, and non-traditional digital journalists like Barrett Brown.

Brown is a freelance journalist who has reported extensively on private intelligence firms and government contractors. He now faces more than 100 years in jail for linking to stolen documents as part of his reporting, even though he had no involvement in the actual theft. Continue Reading

13

Fourteen Tips About Life, Your Choice

 

One of the more annoying features of modern life is the superstition that people are immune from stupidity.  This translates into the belief, I might call it an article of faith, that people should be free to do whatever idiotic thing they please and suffer no ill consequences therefrom.  Alas, life does not  work that way.  The piper always has to be paid sooner or later.

Walter Russell Mead explains this basic fact of life to the college bound who wish to ruin their lives quickly:

First, enroll in a college that you cannot afford, and rely on large student loans to make up the difference.

Second, spend the next four years having as good a time as possible: hang out, hook up, and above all, take plenty of “awesome” courses.

Third, find teachers and role models who will encourage you to develop an attitude of enlightened contempt for ordinary American middle class life, the world of business, and such bourgeois virtues as self-reliance, thrift, accountability and self-discipline.  Specialize in sarcasm and snark.

Fourth, avoid all courses with tough requirements, taking only the minimum required number of classes in science, math and foreign languages.

Fifth, never think about acquiring marketable skills.

Sixth, when you graduate and discover that you have to repay the loans and cannot get a job that pays enough to live comfortably while servicing your debts, be surprised.  Blame society.  Demand that the government or your parents or evil corporations bail you out.

Seventh, expect anyone (except for other clueless losers who’ve been as stupid and wasteful as you) to sympathize with your plight, or to treat you with anything but an infuriating mixture of sorrow, pity and contempt.

Go here to read the rest.

On the other hand, for those who might not be eager to ruin their lives, here are seven tips, college bound or not, that might help during their journey through this Vale of Tears: Continue Reading

8

Cities and Thrones and Powers

 

Like flowery fields the nations stand

Pleased with the morning light;

The flowers beneath the mower’s hand

Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Isaac Watts,  Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

 The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

Kipling will always be remembered as a British patriot and a lover of the British Empire.  Both of those facts are true enough, although Kipling was not blind to the faults of his nation and its empire, but Kipling also had the ability, shared by some true great artists, to step momentarily outside his time and place to make some imperishable commentary on the human condition.  Kipling did it in his poem Recessional, written on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, which rather than a rah, rah celebration of Great Britain, envisages a time when the glory and power of Britain and its Empire will have passed, one with Nineveh and Tyre, and a stark warning for his British contemporaries to use the power they currently possessed responsibly, and prays to God for mercy upon them.  This unexpected Jeremiad contains what I have always regarded as the most moving lines of poetry ever written by a secular poet:

 

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The Captains and the Kings depart:   
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Kipling returned to the theme of the transitory nature of earthly power in Puck of Pook’s Hill, 1906.  Ostensibly a children’s book combining History and Fantasy, Kipling put into it some of his deepest thinking on many subjects, including the poem Cities and Thrones and Powers which reminds us of the the fact that on this globe civilizations rise and fall like the flowers that bloom and die, but that like flowers the civilizations return in new guises: Continue Reading
117

PopeWatch: Violence in the Name of God

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Sandro Magister has an interesting look at a theological paper that has been released by the Vatican, which was initiated at the request of Pope Benedict in 2008:

“Heresy” and “dogma.” The two words in the Church that almost no one dares to say anymore – all the more so in this season of “mercy” – suddenly came back to the forefront on January 16, in their full meaning and in the most official form, on the front page of “L’Osservatore Romano.”

“As far as the Christian faith is concerned, violence in the name of God is a heresy pure and simple”: this is what the editorial in the pope’s newspaper calls the “unmistakable thesis” of the document of the international theological commission made public that same day.

And vice versa: “Scrupulous respect for religious freedom stems from that which is most dogmatic in the idea of God that the Christian faith has to offer.”

The international theological commission, instituted after Vatican Council II, is an arm of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, is headed by its prefect, and is made up of thirty theologians of various nations, appointed by the pope “ad quinquennium.”

The document made public on January 16 was ordered by Benedict XVI in 2008, in the context of his dialogue with contemporary culture, in order to reopen within it a pathway toward God, the true God. It was crafted over five years by 10 members of the commission, including the Chinese Salesian Savio Tai Fai Hon, today the secretary of “Propaganda fide,” the Swiss Dominican Charles Morerod, today the bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg, and the Italian Pierangelo Sequeri, a leading representative of the theological school of Milan.

For now the complete text of the document is available only in its Italian version – elegant and incisive as rarely happens with theological texts, thanks to the pen and the mind of Sequeri, even if here and there it is not easy to read – while in eight more languages an introductory summary is ready, with the complete translation still to come:

> God the Trinity and the unity of humanity. Christian monotheism and its opposition to violence

The title provides a glimpse of the document’s motivation: to fight the widespread idea that monotheism, faith in the one God, is synonymous with obscurantism and intolerance, is an indestructible seed of violence . And therefore is to be banned from civil society.

Jews, Muslims, Christians are the target of this typically relativistic theorem, which demonstrates that it intends to replace monotheism with a moderate “polytheism” deceptively presented as peaceful and tolerant.

Jews are charged with having faith in a vindictive God “of wrath and war,” that of the Old Testament, and this is imputed to them with a preconceived hostility that the document says is present “even in sophisticated culture” (one recent example of this theological anti-Judaism is provided in Italy by Eugenio Scalfari, the ultra-secularist “interviewer” of Pope Francis.

Held against the Muslims – with the reinforcement of the facts – is “the order of Muhammad to defend the faith by means of the sword,” as Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos had denounced in his dialogue with the Persian sage made known around the world by Benedict XVI in the Regensburg lecture of September 12, 2006. And it is curious that, on the same day as the release of the document of the thirty theologians, a 36-page document appeared on the Huffington Post written by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the destruction of the Twin Towers and a detainee at Guantanamo, which cites Benedict XVI in order to refute the idea that the Quran legitimizes the use of force as a means for religious conversion, and justifies the attack of September 11, 2001 as an exclusively political revolt of the oppressed against the oppressor:

> Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Statement to the Crusaders…

But Christians are the main enemy to be overthrown, in present-day anti-religious polemics. And it is here that the document brings into play the concepts of heresy and dogma.

The mere thought – it affirms – that the Christian vision associates faith with violence is consummate heresy. While it is an irrevocable dogma that “the Son, in his love for the Father, draws violence upon himself, sparing friends and enemies, or rather all men,” and therefore, with his ignominious death confronted and overcome, “he annihilates in a single act the power of sin and the justification of violence.”

The document is rich with argumentation and effective both in its “pars destruens,” where it unveils the flimsiness of the modern condemnation of monotheism, and in its “pars construens,” where it highlights the Trinitarian nature of Christianity, which distinguishes it from the other forms of monotheism and is the basis of “the irrevocable seriousness of the Gospel interdict with regard to all contamination between religion and violence.”

The document is not silent about Christian concession to religious violence in history. But it urges the recognition of the present time as the “kairòs,” the decisive moment, of an “irreversible departure” of Christianity from such violence. Continue Reading