And to Amend My Life

Chaplain: I think it’s up to each one of us to interpret what God wants.

Dying Doctor: So people can do anything? They can rape, they can murder, they can steal, all in the name of God, and it’s ok?

Chaplain: That’s not what I’m saying.

Dying Doctor: What are you saying? Because all I’m hearing is some New Age, God is love, one-size-fits-all crap! I don’t have time for this now!

Chaplain: I understand.

Dying Doctor: No, you don’t understand! You don’t understand! How could you possibly say that? No, you listen to me. I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real hell.

ER:  Atonement-Season 14, Episode 13




David Griffey at Daffey Thoughts brings us the above video which powerfully explains why cheap grace saves absolutely no one.  God is all Just and all Merciful and when we forget either of those attributes we are lost indeed.


Bear Growls: Pope and Bears


Bear Blogging


Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear looks at papal interaction with a “bear”:


According to this report from Eye of the Tiber, Pope Francis granted a private audience with the celebrity Bear from the motion picture, “The Revenant.” Many have written to the Bear asking for a statement.

First of all, this so-called “Bear” is fake. That’s right. According to Variety, the bear is CGI.

The Bear wishes to make it perfectly clear that he is not bothered by some fake bear being a celebrity, while the Bear labors in obscurity. At least he knows he’s the real thing. Does Pope Emeritus Benedict’s coat of arms have some anonymous, fake, CGI bear on them? No. They unmistakably have St. Corbinian’s Bear, complete with pack. So, now who’s famous, Mr. Fake CGI imaginary bear?

So what to make of the Pope’s pitiful propaganda effort to convince the world that he is on good terms with Bears? Clearly, the Bear has gotten under his skin. He knows the growing popularity of the Bear is a threat to his Jesuitical plots. So His Holiness is trying to neutralize the Bear.

Here is the truth. The only Bears that are behind the Pope are South American Spectacled Bears, and Polar Bears, who are working the global warming scam for all its worth by swimming out to tiny ice features and hoping somebody takes their picture.

My friends, long after this so-called “bear” has been buried in the graveyard of forgotten CGI animals,  like that tiger from Life of Pi, or the 50 rampaging mammoths from 10,000 B.C., the Bear will still be writing his ephemeris, growing his audience, scrutinizing the Vatican like Bernardo Gui on methylphenidate. If a freelance Bear inquisitor high on speed doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

There’s only one place to find the real Bear. It’s right here, friends. Thank you for your continued support. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Indictments


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



An imperial grand jury investigating criminal allegations against the Galactic Empire stemming from a series of undercover videos instead indicted two Rebel Alliance activists who shot the footage.

In a stunning turn of events, the imperial grand jury declined to indict officials from the Empire, and instead handed felony charges against Grand Master of the New Jedi Order Luke Skywalker and fellow Rebel Alliance activist Han Solo. Skywalker was also charged with a misdemeanor count related to having the hots for his sister, which members of his own legal team even admitted was “totally weird and deserved.”

The case sprang from a number of undercover videos in which members of the Rebel Alliance posed as Stormtroopers and captured several Empire employees appearing to discuss profiting off of the Jedi purge. However, when the videos were released online last year, the Galactic Empire claimed rebels had edited the videos to “created a misperception.”

“The Rebel Alliance uses the same undercover techniques that imperial journalists have used for decades,” Skywalker said in a statement in response to the indictment.

Galactic Empire officials hailed the indictment as vindication of the dark side, saying,  “As the Tatooine dust settles and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are those that used the Force to produce this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable.”

At press time, seriously, why is that whole Luke being in love with his sister thing even in the movie? You’re telling me that no one, not one single person working on set said anything to George Lucas? Something like, “dude, what the heck is up with that?” Continue Reading


January 29, 1845: Poe’s Raven is Published

The publication of the macabre poem The Raven gave Edgar Allan Poe the literary fame he had sought all his life, although the meager financial reward of $9.00 typified his life long failure to earn a living as a writer.  Two years later his wife died at 24, replicating in Poe’s life the role of Lenore in his poem.  Poe himself would die in mysterious circumstances two years later at age 40, his sad and frequently bizarre life worthy of the pen of Poe.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Ephemera




David Griffey at Daffey Thoughts caught an interesting statement made to the Pope:


So Mr. DiCaprio, who even caused the liberal PM of Canada, Justin Trudeau, to tell him to tone it down, received a warm welcome from Pope Francis.  Now popes greet people.  That’s no problem.  And I don’t expect Pope Francis to kick Leo in the shin and knock him down over points where they might disagree.

But I found this little snippet interesting, especially in light of Pope Francis’s rather open embrace of the modern MMGW movement:

“As a child I didn’t quite understand what it all meant, but through my child’s eyes it represented a planet, the utopia we had been given, the overpopulation, excesses, and the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what’s going in the environment.” (emphasis mine)

See that?  Overpopulation.  This has been a pet of the new liberalism for some generations.  There are just too damn many [other] people in the world.  Now, with MMGW, there is a new reason to whittle down those pesky numbers.  Of course the question remains how do we eliminate the numbers?  How do we check population growth so it doesn’t do something like bring a civilization and its culture to its knees?
Pope Francis has clearly not accepted that part of the MMGW furor.  But in a way that seems to be the modern Catholic approach, he accepts almost every other aspect of it.  That seems to be the way the Church is going now.  Accept almost every idea and every premise of the new Leftist and secular world view…except where dogma or doctrine can’t be changed.  Continue Reading


Texas Constitution: Article I, Section 8



The freedom of press provision of the Texas Constitution is worded in an interesting manner:


Sec. 8.  FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS; LIBEL.  Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege; and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech or of the press.  In prosecutions for the publication of papers, investigating the conduct of officers, or men in public capacity, or when the matter published is proper for public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence.


The last sentence would seem to open the door to discovery against Planned Parenthood, by the makers of the videos showing that Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of their murder victims, in order to confirm the truth of the videos, obviously relevant to the charges,  may give us an opportunity to breach the wall of secrecy that has always been the first line of defense of Planned Parenthood.


PopeWatch: Pro-life Leader?



Do you consider Pope Francis a leader in the fight against abortion?



When it comes to challenging Catholics to protect life from abortion, Pope Francis has taken an active but sometimes subtle approach to helping unborn babies and their mothers

Richard Doerflinger, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pontiff’s humble, compassionate approach to the contentious issue of abortion is one that Catholics should pay close attention to.

“The Holy Father has made some tremendous statements on the sanctity of human life,” Doerflinger told Crux. “Very often he takes a more casual approach, but this man is obviously a leader on pro-life concerns.” Continue Reading


Saint Thomas Aquinas Our Contemporary

Not everyone who is enlightened by an angel knows that he is enlightened by him.

Saint Thomas Aquinas



Today is the feast day of the Angelic Doctor.  There is a timeless quality about his writings that takes him from the period in which he lived, the Thirteenth Century, and makes him a contemporary of each succeeding generation.  For example, we have this observation of Saint Thomas on the founder of Islam:


The point is clear in the case of Muhammad. He seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Muhammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms—which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning, Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms. Nor do divine pronouncements on the part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be. seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly.

Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 6.4 Continue Reading




Risen (2016) opens in theaters on February 19 and looks like it could be a good film for Lent.  I have long thought that there must have been some sort of official inquiry into the Crucifixion based upon the Roman historian Tacitus writing circa 100AD about Pilate condemning Christ.   He may have been referring to official Roman records.  Tacitus had no sympathy for the Christians and no knowledge of their ceremonies, which makes it highly doubtful that he gained his knowledge from a Christian source as to the trial and Crucifixion of Christ.  Pilate had every motivation to prove that Christ had not risen from the dead as did the Sadducees who controlled the Temple.  Their historical silence may be an indication that what they found out, if they conducted post Resurrection inquiries, was very much not to their liking.


Harris County Indictments: The Fix Was In

Devon Anderson



The more I dig into the background of Devon Anderson, the Harris Country prosecutor, the more red flags I see:


Anderson’s announcement this week was surprising. Not only do grand juries rarely turn the tables on those making the criminal accusations, but Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged Anderson to investigate based on footage that accused a Houston clinic of illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.

When Anderson was up for election in 2014, she ran as “proud, pro-life Texan mother of two” and was backed by the wealthy GOP elite. But the case against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, anti-abortion activists who live in California, is now perhaps Anderson’s most visible case since she first took office in 2013.

It also has a somewhat familiar ring to it.

Anderson was barely three months into office when the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue accused a Houston doctor of performing late-term abortions. The activist behind those allegations, Troy Newman, was also a founding member of the Center for Medical Progress – the anti-abortion group headed by Daleiden, whose videos set off investigations by Congress and Republican efforts to cut off Planned Parenthood funding.

Operation Rescue had released disturbing photos and accusations from the former staff of Dr. Douglas Karpen. A grand jury declined to indict Karpen; the abortion provider’s lawyer, Chip Lewis, said Karpen was smeared by doctored pictures and false allegations made by individuals who were paid by Operation Rescue.

Lewis, a longtime political donor in Houston whose beneficiaries include Anderson, said he helped soften the political fallout for her in Republican circles.

“I told them, ‘Don’t hitch your wagon to this. They’re crooks, and it’s going to be exposed,'” Lewis said, referring to Operation Rescue.

Kansas-based Operation Rescue has denied paying informants and had questioned the evidence seen by the grand jury. Anderson’s handling of both cases is also questioned by Texas Right to Life, a prominent anti-abortion group that endorsed the district attorney in 2014.


Lewis said the assistant prosecutor who oversaw the Karpen investigation also handled the Planned Parenthood case. “I don’t think she forgot what she uncovered,” Lewis said. A spokesman for Anderson, Jeff McShan, said he could not confirm whether the same assistant prosecutor handled both investigations.

Planned Parenthood attorney Josh Schaffer said a prosecutor told him the grand jury never even voted on possible criminal charges against the nation’s largest abortion provider. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: I’m Sorry!




Pope Francis is apologizing for us again:



“As the bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I would like to invoke mercy and forgiveness for the non-evangelical behavior of Catholics toward Christians of other churches,” he said Monday. “At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if today, or in the past, they have suffered offense by other Christians.

“We cannot cancel what has happened, but we don’t want to let the weight of past harm continue to pollute our relations.”

Earlier Monday, the Vatican said Francis’ visit to Sweden will “highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans.” It will include a common worship service based on a recently published Catholic Lutheran liturgical guide to help churches commemorate the Reformation anniversary together.

The Catholic Church estimates there are about 150,000 Catholics in Sweden, including 113,000 registered members, according to Kristina Hellner of the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.

Martin Luther’s challenge to the Catholic doctrine of indulgences in 1517 is remembered as the start of the Reformation, from which the Protestant churches originated out of criticism of the Church of Rome led by the pope.

Significantly, when Francis issued his apology Monday, he said he was doing so as bishop of Rome — a title he often emphasizes in ecumenical settings where the primacy of the pope is still a cause for tension. Continue Reading


January 27, 1776: Henry Knox Delivers the Noble Train of Artillery to Washington

One of the interesting aspects of wars and revolutions is the unexpected talents and abilities that come to the fore in the most unlikely of individuals.  As that remarkable year 1775 was drawing to a close, General Washington, if he was to force the British  to leave Boston, needed a substantial artillery force, which he entirely lacked.   Twenty-five year old Colonel Henry Knox, a fat Boston book seller prior to the War, came up with the idea of transporting the artillery from newly captured Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York to the siege lines around Boston.  This was accomplished by Knox from December 5, 1775 to January 27, 1776, transporting sixty tons of artillery and ammunition, 59 cannon, mortars and howitzers, through wilderness in the dead of winter, a truly astounding feat. On December 17, 1775 Knox wrote to Washington:

I return’d to this place on the 15 & brought with me the Cannon being nearly the time I conjectur’d it would take us to transport them to here, It is not easy [to] conceive the difficulties we have had in getting them over the Lake owing to the advanc’d Season of the Year & contrary winds, but the danger is now past & three days ago it was very uncertain whether we could have gotten them untill next spring, but now please God they must go – I have had made forty two exceeding Strong Sleds & have provided eighty Yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh Cattle to Carry them to Camp – the rout will be from here to Kinderhook from thence into Great Barrington Massachusetts Bay & down to Springfield There will scarcely be possibility of conveying them from here to Albany or Kinderhook but on sleds the roads being very much gullied, at present the sledding is tolerable to Saratoga about 26 miles; beyond that there is none – I have sent for the Sleds & teams to come here & expect to begin [to] move them to Saratoga on Wednesday or Thursday next trusting that between this & then we shall have a fine fall of snow which will enable us to proceed further & make the carriage easy – if that should be the case I hope in 16 or 17 days time to be able to present to your Excellency a noble train of artillery. Continue Reading


Ludicrous Charges


The indictments of the Harris County Grand Jury in Texas against David R. Daleiden and Sandra S. Merritt are the worst misuse of the power of prosecution that I have witnessed in 33 years of practicing law:

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

Go here to read the rest.

Let us count the ways a first year law student should be able to get this trash dismissed:

1. Lack of scienter-Daleiden and Merritt were attempting to expose Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal tissue.  They had no intent to actually purchase such tissue.

2. No sale-The grand Jury simultaneously found that Planned Parenthood was not attempting to sell fetal tissue.  They then found that Daleiden and Merritt were purchasing tissue from a vendor who was not selling tissue.  That makes no logical sense, let alone a coherent legal charge.

3.  Freedom of the press-All of the activities of Daleiden and Merritt were undertaken under the cover of the First Amendment freedom of the press.  Such sting operations are part and parcel of the normal functioning of the media in this country and an attempt to criminalize such activity raises grave constitutional questions.

4.  No intent to defraud-The California driver’s license charge indicates how the prosecutor involved was reaching to get a felony indictment, purchasing or selling fetal tissue sadly being only a misdemeanor.  This is the type of charge that only a prosecutor desperate to find anything to nail a target of an investigation on would bring.  The charge is complete rubbish since there was no intent to defraud Planned Parenthood of anything, but rather an intent to expose wrongdoing. Continue Reading


Grand Jury Mystery




For my sins, no doubt, I have been an attorney now for more than a third of a century.  One of the many lessons that I have learned over this great span of time, is that grand juries are the tools of prosecutors, and that other than declining to indict an occasional prospective defendant, grand juries normally proceed along the paths that the directing prosecutors wish.  What then to make of this?

A Harris County grand jury has indicted the Center for Medical Progress — specifically, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – while declining to indict Planned Parenthood. This comes after the Center for Medical Progress released an investigation last year into the sales of aborted baby organs at Planned Parenthood:

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the surprising indictments Monday after a two-month investigation.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Anderson, a Republican. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

A grand jury is formed of ordinary citizens that are presented  evidence and testimony from the prosecutor alone to form their theory of a case without any input from the defense.

From that information, the jury determines if there is enough probable cause to move the case forward in the judicial process.  The grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence. The indictment itself is a public document but it has not been made available online at the time of publication.

Absolutely no information has been released regarding what government records Daleiden and Merritt allegedly tampered with. The Center for Medical Progress responded, pointing out their free speech rights, as well as reminding all of us that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law by selling the body parts of aborted babies:

A Harris County grand jury has indicted the Center for Medical Progress — specifically, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – while declining to indict Planned Parenthood. This comes after the Center for Medical Progress released an investigation last year into the sales of aborted baby organs at Planned Parenthood:

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the surprising indictments Monday after a two-month investigation.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Anderson, a Republican. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

A grand jury is formed of ordinary citizens that are presented  evidence and testimony from the prosecutor alone to form their theory of a case without any input from the defense.

From that information, the jury determines if there is enough probable cause to move the case forward in the judicial process.  The grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence. The indictment itself is a public document but it has not been made available online at the time of publication.

Absolutely no information has been released regarding what government records Daleiden and Merritt allegedly tampered with. The Center for Medical Progress responded, pointing out their free speech rights, as well as reminding all of us that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law by selling the body parts of aborted babies: Continue Reading


Festung Shea

Festung Shea



Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts brings us up to date on Mark Shea’s Facebook page, now that he has shut down Catholic and Enjoying It.  His trajectory to the left seems to have accelerated:


So I broke my promise and went back to visit Mark Shea’s Facebook page.  I know, I know.  I said I wouldn’t. What am I, some glutton for punishment?  I didn’t comment on anything. I just went to look.  I wanted to see if Mark was continuing with the very problematic practice of having ‘Isn’t Bernie Sander’s the cutest thing?’ posts on his very Catholic Facebook page.  The whole thing, and my banishment, came from that. 

When CAEI went offline, I decided to take a look at Mark’s Facebook Page.  I don’t typically do Facebook that much, and I had never visited his page.  I heard horror stories, but found it hard to believe them.  Well, once I was there, I believed them. 

By now, of course, Mark falls into that Orthodox Liberal Catholic group.  That is, they don’t reject traditional doctrines about God or the Trinity or the Resurrection.  They also stand with the Church on issues like abortion and gay marriage.  But in almost any other area where there is wiggle room, they tend to fall down along the modern, post-Christian liberal paradigm.  The reasons are, no doubt, many.  For some, as my boys pointed out with our parish, it’s less that they love liberalism as much as they hate American Conservatism and the GOP. 

Be that as it may, today Mark could in no way be called a conservative or traditional Catholic and have those terms mean anything.  And his Facebook page reflected that.  Moreover, those who commented were a rough brood, many of which seemed to be the sort of thing Pope Francis could have been thinking of.  It often got mean and ugly.   Quite a bit of contempt and condescension toward those who aren’t following lockstep behind the modern Left.

Nonetheless, for all his Left leaning and liberal cheering, Mark remains adamantly pro-life and passionately against abortion.  Period.  No suggestions otherwise can be entertained.  So it came as quite a shock, in those couple weeks I was visiting there, to see how many ‘Bernie Rocks’ posts Mark had uploaded.  Especially when it was set in juxtaposition to almost every other candidate Mark mentioned, who received nothing but scorn and insults from Mark and most of his readers.  Like a sore thumb, Sanders stood out above it all and Mark’s Facebook page looked like quite the Pro-Sanders Facebook headquarters. 

So when Mark posted yet another ‘Equestrian Sanders Pic’, I merely said that his page was becoming like a campaign stop for the Sanders campaign, and he might want to do a double check.  After all, Sanders goes beyond pro-choice.  He is pro-abortion, and in fact, pro-culture of death.  He is part of that secular liberalism that reminds us how so few societies that have opposed war or the death penalty have done so in the name of life’s sanctity.  Just the opposite.  They do it because things like torture, war and the death penalty run afoul of the Left’s great sinful promise: that pride is, in fact, a good thing.  The universe does rotate around me.  Things like death penalties or punishment or war suggest there are things bigger than me, and so they are clearly bad.  But things like abortion, any marriage or sex any way I want, euthanasia, assisted suicide: they serve me and a world set firmly under my whims and desires.

That is the sort of Left Sanders advocates.  As a politician, he has gone into areas that even pro-choice politicians fear to tread.  He advocates post-Christian sexuality, and further appears to support the punishment of those who don’t do likewise.  He supports gay marriage, and also the HHS mandate, thereby solidifying his opposition to multiple things that Mark holds near and dear.

In some ways, it reminded me of Mark and Ron Paul some years ago.  For a while, Mark became quite the Catholic voice for the Ron Paul campaign.  While he insisted he wouldn’t vote for him, that he was merely pointing out where he thought Paul was correct, his blog became a major boost for Ron Paul supporters.  Eventually, Mark did admit that if Paul was in the primaries by the time they came to Washington, Mark would vote for him.  When he did that, it wasn’t really a shock.

In some ways, this sudden high-five to Sanders sniffed a bit like the old Paul posts.  Sure, he wasn’t saying ‘Vote Sanders’ or ‘I Support Bernie!’  But his posts were stacking up quickly, with many having nothing to do with anything other than “Bernie Sanders: Awesome Guy!”  Sorry, but someone who pushes to loosen the restrictions for a partial birth abortion has dropped at least one rung down the awesome ladder in my book. 

So I posted my message.  And oh my, all hell broke loose.  Mark came at me with everything: mocking me, calling me names, accusing me of passive aggressively suggesting he is pro-choice.  He used the old Sea Lion cartoon against me.  Several of his readers did the same.  I tried to keep it where I was, insisting that while you can quote someone you don’t agree with (as a general rule I try to find better examples unless I’m making a specific point), there is a logical difference between a single quote and days of ‘thumbs up’ posts.

Mark and his readers would have none of it.  Mark simply repeated the charges over and over again.  Even my oldest son tried to bring some perspective, echoing a logical assessment of the current political climate being partly to do with Obama’s legacy.  That went as well as you can imagine. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Martin, All is Forgiven!







Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in October for a joint ecumenical commemoration of the start of the Reformation, together with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation and representatives of other Christian Churches.

The event will take place on October 31st in the southern Swedish city of Lund where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947. While kicking off a year of events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it will also highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans. Continue Reading


January 26, 1945: Audie Murphy Earns Medal of Honor

The real heroes are dead.

Audie Murphy

When Audie Murphy starred in his aptly titled World War II biopic, To Hell and Back, his battlefield exploits were downplayed.  Partially this was due to Murphy’s modesty, he had not wanted to appear in the movie and did so only after he was promised that much of the focus of the film would be on his buddies who died during the War, and partially due to the fact that what he did during the War was so unbelievably courageous that film audiences might have refused to believe it.  Here is his Medal of Honor citation that he earned in truly hellish fighting near Holtzwihr, France on January 26, 1945:

By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved 9 July 1918 (WD Bul. 43, 1918), a Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty was awarded by the War Department in the name of Congress to the following-named officer:

Second Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, 01692509, 15th Infantry, Army of the United States, on 26 January 1945, near Holtzwihr, France, commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him to his right one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. It’s crew withdrew to the woods. Lieutenant Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer which was in danger of blowing up any instant and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to the German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. the enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminated Lieutenant Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he personally killed or wounded about 50. Lieutenant Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.

* * * * *
Major General
Acting the Adjutant General
Chief of Staff

Obama Celebrates Roe But Does Not Thank Catholic Leftists


As he has done as President each year on the anniversary of Roe, Obama released a statement praising Roe:


“Today, we mark the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which affirmed a woman’s freedom to make her own choices about her body and her health. The decision supports the broader principle that the government should not intrude on private decisions made between a woman and her doctor. As we commemorate this day, we also redouble our commitment to protecting these constitutional rights, including protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to reproductive freedom from efforts to undermine or overturn them. In America, every single one of us deserves the rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill our dreams.” Continue Reading


PopeWatch: No




Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa notes that the Chief Rabbi of Rome said no to the Pope:



ROME, January 23, 2016 – In the Catholic camp almost no one made note of it. But in the Jewish camp they did. And it is that curt “no” which the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, said to Pope Francis during his visit to the synagogue on Sunday, January 17:

“We do not receive the pope in order to discuss theology. Every system is autonomous, faith is not the object of bartering and political negotiation.”

A preventive “no.” Because immediately afterward Francis spoke. And in his speech the pope in vain proposed to the Jews once again a shared theological exploration of the relationship between Judaism and the Church. That proposal which Rabbi Di Segni had already rejected.

Francis justified his offer of theological dialogue by citing two documents.

The first was the declaration “Nostra Aetate” of Vatican Council II, which – he said – “for the first time gave an explicit theological definition of the Catholic Church’s relationship with Judaism,” naturally without resolving all of the questions but “providing a very important encouragement for the necessary further reflections.”

The second was the document published on December 15, 2015 by the Vatican commission for religious relations with the Jews, which – the pope said – “addresses the theological questions that have emerged in the decades since the promulgation of ‘Nostra Aetate.’”

And Francis continued:

“The theological dimension of Jewish-Catholic dialogue deserves to be explored more and more, and I would like to encourage all those who are involved in this dialogue to continue in that direction, with discernment and perseverance. In fact, precisely from a theological point of view there appears clearly the indissoluble bond that unites Christians and Jews. Christians, in order to understand themselves, cannot help but make reference to their Jewish roots, and the Church, while still professing salvation through faith in Christ, recognizes the irrevocability of the Old Covenant and God’s constant and faithful love for Israel.”

In saying this, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio was speaking in full continuity with his predecessors, above all with Benedict XVI, who refused to make faith an object of dialogue between Christianity and Judaism, but always acknowledged a unique, absolutely special relationship between Christianity and Judaism, which makes not only possible but obligatory a shared dialogue that is also theological.

Joseph Ratzinger had reached the pinnacle of his theological reflection on the relationship between the Jewish and Christian faiths in the preface to the May 24, 2001 document of the pontifical biblical commission on “The Jewish people and its Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible,” and above all in the three volumes of his “Jesus of Nazareth,” in pages recognized once again in recent days as “unsurpassable” by the top-tier exponent of Judaism Sergio Yitzhak Minerbi, among the leading scholars of relations between Jews and Catholics.

So then, the Vatican document of December 15 not only attests to these levels, but it pushes even further, partly due to the fact that it presents itself not as “a magisterial document or doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church” but simply as “a starting point for further theological thought with a view to enriching and intensifying the theological dimension of Jewish–Catholic dialogue.” Continue Reading


Prayer Requests: Our Lady of the Snows


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that
anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins,
my Mother; to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Our Father
Hail Mary
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Therese, The Little Flower, pray for us.
Glory Be To The Father Continue Reading


Carly Fiorina and Abortion


When it comes to abortion, I am beginning to think that Carly Fiorina has the zeal of a convert:



Despite the blizzard warning, thousands of pro-life activists gathered at the March for Life in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, the only presidential candidate to attend the event, pledged to continue speaking out against abortion in the face of opposition from pro-choice activists.

“The establishment media and political class don’t want us to talk about what the abortion industry is doing. You saw what happened when I talked about the horrific truth of the Planned Parenthood videos during a Republican debate,” she said at the march. “Unlike the media, you’ve watched the videos. You’ve seen an aborted baby, it’s legs kicking, it’s heart beating while the technician describes how they would keep these babies alive to harvest their organs.”

In response to the videos, a Planned Parenthood representative said a woman might choose to donate tissue for scientific purposes.

“In healthcare, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different.”

Fiorina had a message for those who protest her pro-life stance at her campaign events.

“You can scream and throw condoms at me all day long. You won’t silence me. You don’t scare me,” she said at the march. “I have battled breast cancer. I have buried a child. I have read the Bible. I know the value of life.”

Fiorina pointed out that President Obama’s successor will have the “awesome responsibility” to pick up to three Supreme Court justices who will weigh in on religious liberty issues. She added that the next president is going to decide if a life is a life only after it leaves the hospital.

“That is the Democratic platform – that a life is not a life until it is born, and they call us extreme. It is the Democrats and the pro-abortion industry that are extreme,” she said.

Fiorina told the audience Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and “the left” use women as a “political weapon” to win elections.

“I know, having started out as a secretary, being empowered means having a voice, but ideological feminism now shuts down conversation on colleges campuses and in the media,” she said.

She vowed to defeat Clinton and defund Planned Parenthood as president.

“You can count on what I will do as president,” she said. “Together we will restore the character of our nation.” Continue Reading


To Pro-Life Pilgrims Stuck in the Snow Out East



From Father Z’s blog, and dedicated to those dauntless pro-life souls who dared the blizzard out East:


Here in this place new snow is falling,
now is the highway vanished away;
see in this bus our friends and our chaperones
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Please dig us out, the stuck and the stranded,
Please dig us out, the young and the not-as-young;
call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of a plow.

We are the young, our lives now in chaos,
we are the old who want to escape;
we have been stuck through night into daytime,
Now we just wait for the National Guard.
Please dig us out, the rich and the haughty,
Please dig us out, the proud and the strong;
give us a plow, so we can get going,
give us the courage to finish this song.

Here we will grow in bonding and friendship,
here we will find His love in us all,
As the snow falls, each flake brings us closer
United as one we’ll bring life to the world.
Give us to hear God’s voice in the chaos,
give us to know His great love for us;
We have been called to do something special
Once we get home and get off this damn bus

Not in the dark of busses confining,
not on some snowplow, light years away—
here in this bus a new light is shining,
That’s cause I can’t turn my iPhone light off.
Please dig us and give us a pizza,
Please dig us out, I’m losing my mind;
Please dig us out, the bathroom is filling,
Send us a plow get us out of this bind. Continue Reading

January 24, 1916: Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co

The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.

Albert Einstein

After spending a good part of yesterday working on my Federal income tax, I think that perhaps a national day of mourning would be an appropriate commemoration.  One hundred years ago, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the income tax. The vote was 8-0 with Justice McReynolds abstaining. Go here to read the text of the decision. Ironically, Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who would soon resign from the Court to be the Republican Standard Bearer for President in 1916, had opposed the income tax amendment as Governor of New York in 1910.  Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Pedicure




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

Pope Francis has changed the rules for the Church’s Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony, issuing a decree allowing women to not only participate in the ceremony, but to have an optional pedicure for the low donation price of just $14.95. That’s right, just $14.95.

In a letter addressed to Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Pope said that 12 “lucky” people would be chosen to participate in the ritual of what is now being called the washing and pedicuring of the feet “from among all members of the People of God whose feet and toenails are in desperate need of superficial cosmetic treatment.”

“For some time I have been reflecting on the rite of the washing of the feet so that we fully express the meaning of the gesture made by Jesus in the Upper Room, his gift of self until the end for the salvation of the world, his boundless charity,” Francis said. “But also because I myself have had countless pedicures over the years and truly understand the importance of tootsie maintenance.”

Francis went on to say that “with the amount of walking the disciples did during their ministries, I am quite certain that they would not have said no to a soothing pedicure once in a while if it was ever offered them.”

Francis also stressed that the average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 115,000 miles over a lifetime, and that all the wear and tear on the feet can be harmful if they are not maintained properly.

“The Lord said,  ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.’ How can we expect to accomplish this task with wear and tear on our feet? And to the men I say be not afraid! Pedicures are no longer just for women, just as the washing of the feet is no longer just for men.” Continue Reading


Wild Colonial Boy

Something for the weekend.  The Clancy Brothers singing The Wild Colonial Boy on the Ed Sullivan show.  The song is based upon the exploits of bandit Jack Donahue. Born in Dublin in 1804, Donahue, an orphan as well as a pickpocket,  was transported to Australia in 1825 after being convicted of intent to commit a felony.  After he saw his cell in Syndey, he exclaimed, “A home for life”.  Two whippings of 50 lashes could not break his rebellious spirit and he escaped into the bush with two other prisoners.  There they formed a gang that became known as “The Strippers” because of their penchant of stripping wealthy men of their money, food and clothes.  In 1827 he was captured and sentenced to death.  Escaping yet again to the bush, he became part of a gang known as “The Wild Colonial Boys.” On September 1, 1830, his criminal career and life came to an end in a shootout with authorities.  Donohue achieved earthly immortality in a play and the song “The Wild Colonial Boy“.  Condemned as seditious, the song morphed his name into several variants, the most popular being Jack Duggan.


Father Ray Blake Apologizes




With tongue firmly in cheek no doubt:


I apologise of all the faithful and beseech their prayers who in my misconceived arrogance have been excluded by my legalism.
I apologise in particular to those ladies who would have liked to have had their feet washed at the Mandatum on Holy Thursday and were excluded by my rigourism.
I apologise, you were right and I was wrong.
I apologise for teaching that this Rite was about Christ washing the feet of those twelve chosen to be Apostles rather than seeing it as a Rite that expressed Christ’s care for the world and for sinners and for the poor. I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was about Christ’s priesthood and the Apostles participation in it, I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was in any sense hieratic. I apologise for quoting the Pope Emeritus, and the schismatic Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow in a sermon about this Rite. They were obviously misunderstood by me or were dealing with their own local situation. I was wrong, I was also mistaken. I humbly ask anyone who has been misinformed by me to in future to disregard any teaching I might have given at any time, and especially if I have claimed that it was the Church’s teaching.
I apologise too to the poor, I apologise to those my brother clergy who chose to ignore the written Law of the Church but nevertheless had the spiritual insight to understand the Spirit of the Law.
I have indeed been a Neo-Pelagian Promethean and I humbly promise in future to follow custom rather than any directives coming from the Holy See or printed in the Missal. I will indeed do my best to not to teach  but to set people free to follow their own lights and inspiration.
I am humbly grateful for this change in the Church’s law, though because of the increasing stiffness in my knees for the last few years I have been unable to wash the feet of anyone. Continue Reading


To All His Creatures

March for Life



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

Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858


PopeWatch: Bear Growls: Catholic Movies



You know, if PopeWatch could give the Pope anything it would be a list of Catholic movies to watch.  Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear gives us some of his choices for great Catholic movies:


A Man for All Seasons — I hope one day to meet St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, and I expect him to look like Paul Scofield. Great 1966 drama of a family man who would not compromise his Catholic conscience.

Becket — “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” A king’s expression of frustration with another one of those stubborn Catholics, or an invitation to murder? St. Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, had his brains bashed out and scattered across the floor of his cathedral while he prayed Vespers. Released in 1964 with a great cast including Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, and John Geilgud.

The Passion of the Christ — Mel Gibson’s mesmerizing and bitterly moving 2004 reliving of Jesus Christ’s Passion. Authentic details include everyone speaking the correct ancient languages, so Jesus speaks Aramaic, while Pontius Pilate and his wife speak Latin. (There are subtitles.) We watch it during Holy Week. Some of it, especially the Scourging at the Pillar, are frankly hard to take. I think there are two versions, one less graphic, but still bad enough. I know when I say the Second Sorrowful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is the scene from the movie I often remember. The whole movie is perfect in tone for every scene, and the restrained use of bizarre images suggest the omnipresence of Satan, in his taunting moment of apparent victory.

Brother Orchid — Totally changing tone now, this is just a sweet tale of a ruthless gangster who hides out with monks, and… You can probably guess what happens. By 1940 Edward G. Robinson was sick of playing gangsters, but agreed to this one in exchange for a promise of broader roles. Humphrey Bogart co-stars, but, as is typical at this point in their careers, he is overshadowed by Robinson.

Song of Bernadette — 1943 movie faithfully presenting the traditional account of Bernadette Soubirous, the young visionary of Lourdes. This a solid movie built on a wonderful performance by a winsome Jennifer Jones as Bernadette. She won an Oscar for Best Actress. The screenplay was based on a novel written by a Jew, Franz Werfel, who never quite converted to Christianity. I saw it on TV as a young boy and still remember how sorry I felt for Bernadette when she rooted around in the mud as everyone made fun of her. I remember imagining that if I were there, I’d set them all straight! It sounds silly now, but we should not underestimate those early feelings of children. Mine, I would now call a childish chivalry. But what better sentiment for a boy to learn and to have? I wonder what we’re teaching young boys and girls in today’s entertainment?

The Passion of Joan of Arc — 1929 silent masterpiece by Carl Theodore Dryer. I know what you’re thinking. Sure, masterpiece for those days, before sound. No. This stands totally on its own merits. The cinematography is amazing, with constantly shifting angles, long pans, quick cuts to the faces of the clerics, each a fully realized portrait, many lasting only a few seconds. There is nothing dated about any of it. But it is Renee Jeanne Falconetti’s luminous performance as Joan that makes the movie a masterpiece. It is possibly the greatest performance ever captured on film. Joan always seems on the boundary of two worlds, slipping almost imperceptibly from one to the other in response to events. This film is powerful to the point of disturbing. It is based on the actual transcripts of her “trial” — some of the most remarkable documents in existence — which I cannot read except as a defense lawyer. My blood boils. She, an illiterate girl, was alone before educated men, without counsel.  The English tricked her into signing a confession she could not read. She was tormented, condemned and burned at the stake. The film treats St. Joan with respect, and, being based on the trial transcripts, is quite faithful to the shameful events.

For Greater Glory — Critics hated this 2012 movie of the 1926-1929  Cristero War between Catholics and an atheistic Mexican government. The late Roger Ebert (a self-described Catholic atheist) had to admit the move was well-made, but reflected “Catholic tunnel vision.” Have never been movies about other religions’ struggles against wholesale slaughter in the 20th century that have won universal acclaim? I’m sure he did not criticize their tunnel vision! If the idea of guns isn’t frightening enough to mainstream movie critics, Catholics using them while crying “¡Vivo Cristo Rey!” must give them nightmares. Andy Garcia brings his usual understated yet compelling presence to the role of a former general who agrees to lead the Cristeros for a nice paycheck, plus the adventure. He is not religious himself, at least not at first. It got marketed as a “Catholic movie” but I thought it was just a great, old fashioned action drama. I had not known about this bit of history. ¡Vivo Cristo Rey!

The Mission — A 1986 movie starring Jeremy Irons, Robert DeNiro and Liam Neeson. Jesuits and Indians in 18th century South America. (I wonder if Pope Francis has ever seen it?) It is a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the Jesuits, who find the Indians are not necessarily peaceful. The movie is full of moral complexity where the right course is not as clear as in most movies. The great Ennio Morricone (still alive and working, by the way) wrote the score. He is known for scores for Clint Eastwood westerns, the Untouchables (which had a great one), and many, many others.

Of Gods and Men — Poignant, understated 2011 movie about a small group of monks who serve an Algerian village. When Moslem radicals move in they must decide whether to remain or leave. Based on a true story. There is one scene where they share a bottle of wine at dinner that is unforgettable.

Into Great Silence — 2005 beautiful documentary about the daily life of Carthusian monks high in the French Alps. The viewer is simply made a curious guest who watches the monks at their daily routine, goes along with some of them for their different work, and has conversations with others, young and old. The monastery has a barber shop, for instance, and the monks get their hair cut. No drama there. It is just an intimate look at everything. A monk is treated for a lung condition. Another repairs a cold frame for the garden. There are scenic shots of the mountains, a gathering storm. It is slow paced, but that’s deliberate, indeed part of the viewing experience.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose — I would not call this 2005 movie great, but it is good. A possessed girl dies after exorcism. The priest is put on trial, making this essentially a courtroom drama. As a lawyer, I find the idea of the criminal justice system being confronted by a supernatural event it is unable to deal with compelling. Interesting, effective and scary without going over the top, and it treats the subject respectfully and realistically. (The Rite is another exorcism movie released in 2011, starring Anthony Hopkins. It wasn’t bad, and was generally well received as accurate in Catholic circles, but I just didn’t enjoy it that much.)

The 13th Day — This 2009 movie was, I believe, a straight to DVD release, but should not color expectations. It is a lovingly made Catholic art film that reverently and accurately portrays the miraculous events at Fatima, Portugal between May and October, 1917. Besides excellent, if obviously careful, cinematography, there are scenes where colors suffuse the screen in a way suggesting the supernatural atmosphere. There is nothing cute or well-scrubbed about the young seers, and the human side of the story is even gritty, emphasized by the black-and-white cinematography of most of the film. It makes the supernatural elements more moving. The famous “Miracle of the Sun,” which was witnessed by 70,000 people, is especially well done in an unexpected, but compelling and utterly persuasive way. The story itself should be familiar to all Catholics, and probably even non-Catholics have heard something about “The Third Secret.” Continue Reading


Scalia on Roe


There is a poignant aspect to today’s opinion. Its length, and what might be called its epic tone, suggest that its authors believe they are bringing to an end a troublesome era in the history of our Nation and of our Court. “It is the dimension” of authority, they say, to “cal[l] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.” Ante, at 24.

There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep-set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon-to-be-played-out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”

It is no more realistic for us in this case, than it was for him in that, to think that an issue of the sort they both involved–an issue involving life and death, freedom and subjugation–can be “speedily and finally settled” by the Supreme Court, as President James Buchanan in his inaugural address said the issue of slavery in the territories would be. See Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, S. Doc. No. 101-10, p. 126 (1989). Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish.

We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining.

Justice Antonin Scalia, dissent, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (conclusion)




Mark Shea, Do I Have a Candidate For You!




At the risk of restarting the Catholic torture wars, (No Don, for the love of God, no!)  I would note that there is one Republican candidate running for President who is against torture:


One year after a bracing Senate report on post-9/11 CIA interrogation practices led Congress to ban waterboarding and other forms of torture, the leading Republican presidential candidates are talking like it’s 2002 all over again.

With one exception: Going against the GOP’s rhetorical grain is Trump’s main rival for the party’s nomination, Ted Cruz. “Torture is wrong, unambiguously. Period. The end,” the Texas senator said in December 2014. Cruz, whose own father was tortured in Cuba, reaffirmed that position last month, saying that “America does not need torture to protect ourselves.”


I assume that Mark Shea, and the denizens of the Catholic Left, will now be falling over themselves to endorse the pro-life Ted Cruz who is also anti-torture.  “Crickets chirp.”


Bob Dole’s Still Alive?


That was my first reaction when I read Dole’s comment blasting Cruz:

“I question his allegiance to the party,” Mr. Dole said of Mr. Cruz. “I don’t know how often you’ve heard him say the word ‘Republican’ — not very often.” Instead, Mr. Cruz uses the word “conservative,” Mr. Dole said, before offering up a different word for Mr. Cruz: “extremist.”…

But Mr. Dole said he thought Mr. Trump could “probably work with Congress, because he’s, you know, he’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker.”…

“If he’s the nominee, we’re going to have wholesale losses in Congress and state offices and governors and legislatures,” said Mr. Dole, who served in the House and Senate for 35 years and won the Iowa caucuses twice. He described Mr. Cruz as having falsely “convinced the Iowa voters that he’s kind of a mainstream conservative.”

The only person who could stop Mr. Cruz from capturing the nomination? “I think it’s Trump,” Mr. Dole said, adding that Mr. Trump was “gaining a little.”…

Mr. Dole repeatedly said he was strongly supporting Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, although he acknowledged that Mr. Bush has had trouble gaining traction. Continue Reading


Res Ipsa Loquitur


Dutch men in miniskirts protesting the Cologne New Year’s Eve attacks on women by Islamic “refugees”.  With such defenders every European woman should invest in a firearm and learn how to use it.  Of course in many European countries the law abiding populations are disarmed by the same governments importing the “refugees” from Islamic lands.  In the West we are led by idiots due to the fact that mass idiocy is the most effective mass political movement in the West.


PopeWatch: Blogs




PopeWatch confesses that when he first heard of this, he recalled the scene from the film Twelve O’clock High where General Savage, played by Gregory Peck, is briefing his 918th Bomb Group.  He announces to them that Intelligence  has reported that the Germans have been taking fighter units from the East Front and stationing them in Germany.  Savage pauses, smiles, and says to the laughter and cheers of his men, “I guess they’ve heard about the 918th!”


From The Eponymous Flower:


“This is interesting,  as the Argentine Master of Ceremonies of the Pope, Msgr. Guillermo Xavier Karcher, said  for the first time in interview in April 2014  that the Pope reads a single newspaper, La Repubblica, and that it prepares a map for him of the daily press. But he neither reads the Internet nor could he use a computer.  Curial Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said on June 23, 2015 at the Europe Forum in Bilbao, the Pope had confided to him on 18 June in Santa Marta: “I know that there are many blogs against me.”  It was a statement that he could only make from information provided by others.” Continue Reading


Kneeling Foreign Policy

The Obama administration, so desperate to preserve the Administration’s surrender deal on Iranian nukes, ignored Iranian mistreatment of American sailors who got lost and wandered into Iranian territorial waters last week.  Jerry Hendrix, a retired USN Captain, explains what this means at National Review Online:
Two thousand years ago, a Roman could wander the known world confident that he would be unmolested by local unruly elements, protected only by the statement “Civis romanus sum,” I am a Roman citizen. His confidence stemmed from a demonstrated assurance that any group that dared attack a Roman would trigger a response in the form of a Roman legion, which would deal swift and brutal justice. Juxtapose this image of a previous world-spanning hegemon with the image of ten American Sailors kneeling on the deck of their own vessel with their hands clasped together over their heads. It is an image of indignity and failure that is accompanied by the smell of rotting power.







President Obama entered office riding a wave that rejected American exceptionalism and aggressive military operations. After eight years in Afghanistan and Iraq, many on the left felt that it was the United States itself, with its aggressive, us-versus-them foreign policies, that presented the strongest threat to world peace, and the Obama foreign policy, from its earliest bows to foreign leaders to its “reset” with Russia and opening of Iran and Cuba, has been all about presenting a more modest America. The seriously flawed negotiations with Iran to cease the development of nuclear weapons is just the latest and perhaps most egregious example of the effort to “normalize” the United States’ role in the world.
This is where we find ourselves today, kneeling on the world’s stage, with our hands clasped over our heads, all the while trying to convince ourselves that this new position demonstrates our strength and earns respect. Civis americanus sum, I am an American citizen. Let the molesting begin.

Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Issues




Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa looks at how the Pope deals with public policy issues:


Jorge Mario Bergoglio likes his crowds festive and prayerful, never politically aggressive.

In Buenos Aires, in 2010, he sent back home the Catholics who had gathered in front of parliament for a prayer vigil against the imminent approval of homosexual marriage. He persuaded them to “avoid the impasse.”

Of course, in that law Bergoglio saw in action nothing less than “the father of lies who has the presumption to confound and deceive the children of God,” but in public he did not say a word. He only released a letter that he had written to cloistered Carmelite nuns, in which he blamed the devil and asked for prayers.

Today as well, now that a law on homosexual unions is on the way in Italy, Pope Francis is not swerving from this stance.

He has thundered against “the new ideological colonialisms that seek to destroy the family” and against “that error of the human mind which is gender theory.” But he did so while he was on his way to Manila and to Naples, both times out of context, never in the heat of political combat.

Last June, at the announcement of a “Family Day” in Rome against the legalization of homosexual unions, secretary of the Italian episcopal conference Nunzio Galantino, the pope’s go-between with the bishops, did everything he could to make it a stillbirth. And when the demonstration went ahead anyway and saw massive public attendance, Pope Francis was careful not to give it his public blessing.

The faithful may indeed act in the field of politics, the pope said the following November to a gathering of Italian Church leaders in Florence, but they can forget about having “bishop-pilots.”

The “Family Day” of 2007, the one that stopped the approval of de facto unions, was in effect organized by the CEI. But even among those who participated in it there are some who take Bergoglio’s new stance, and no longer refer to it as a success but as a “failure” not to be repeated: the words of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti and of the new president of the Catholic Family Forum, Gianluigi De Palo.


Easygoing and viewed favorably by secular opinion when it comes to the new laws on homosexual unions, Pope Francis instead takes a more dissonant stance on other crucial geopolitical questions: from immigration to poverty to Islamic radicalism.

On immigration flows, for the pope it all boils down to a single word: “acceptance,” and to the consequent disapproval of all those who do not conform to it.

Francis carefully avoids calling the reproved by name, including states and public institutions. In Lampedusa, on the small island where he made his first journey as pope, he raised a vague cry: “Shame!” But if one looks at what the rulers are saying and doing in Europe and in the world, the distance between them and the pope appears to be measureless.

“Acceptance is needed, but rigor is also needed,” said Italian president Sergio Mattarella, a Catholic and a leftist, in his year-end message to the nation. “Common rules are needed to distinguish those fleeing from wars or persecutions, who therefore have a right to asylum, and other migrants who must instead be repatriated.” They are words that Francis would not endorse.

As for poverty, the solution that the pope systematically invokes is that of giving land, homes, jobs to all men. But the political scientist Angelo Panebianco is right when he objects that “there is in Francis the idea that all the resources are already available and that their scarcity, rather than an objective barrier, is instead the effect of a conspiracy of the dominant classes at the expense of the planet’s poor.”

Last July 12, questioned point-blank by a German journalist on the flight back from Paraguay, Francis admitted the “mistake” of overlooking the middle class in his analyses, but he added that this “is becoming smaller and smaller,” crushed as it is by the increase in inequality between rich and poor. Evidently it escaped the pope that the numbers say the opposite, starting with the giants India and China.

And as for radical Islamism, it is astonishing that Francis should say this is the offspring of Western aggression and poverty, “structural” in the Marxist sense, instead of that of a native religious choice, of an interpretation of the Quran firmly rooted in it. Here as well the pope’s political narrative appears detached from reality. And as a result ineffective.
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Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait


The negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War, were long, contentious and complicated, involving not merely the peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States, but also separate treaties between Great Britain and France, Spain and the Netherlands.  Benjamin Franklin, who led the American team, and who deserves the title of greatest American diplomat, made it clear from the outset that the United States would not make any peace with Great Britain without its ally France also coming to terms with Great Britain.  He also demanded Canada.  By such wily ploys, Franklin outthought the British negotiators at every turn, and quickly got them to concede American Independence in hopes that the Americans could prevail upon France to be reasonable in its demands.  Continue Reading


Royal Dano and Abraham Lincoln

Royal Dano as Lincoln



Last night I was watching an old Rifleman episode and it was an odd one.  One of Lucas McCain’s neighbors turns out to be Abraham Lincoln!  Well, not the real Abraham Lincoln, but rather a man who incurred psychic trauma during his Civil War service and now he believes he is Abraham Lincoln.  However, the man, portrayed by the late actor Royal Dano, looks and acts just like Abraham Lincoln.  This show was broadcast in 1961 when the Civil War centennial was big news, and this was a clever way of getting Lincoln on the Rifleman show, a series set in the 1880’s, without having to invoke time travel!  The episode was moving and as I listened I thought the actor portraying Lincoln sounded familiar.  Then it struck me: the Disney Animatronics Lincoln!

Dano provided the voice of Lincoln.in the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln show which Disney premiered at the World’s Fair in 1964. Disney chose Dano because he believed his voice was most like what Disney imagined Lincoln sounded like.  In this Disney was probably incorrect.  Most contemporaries described Lincoln as having a high pitched voice.  However, Disney was a showman and not an historian, and I think Disney hit upon a voice that did fit the popular imagination of what Lincoln sounded like, said imagination having been formed by deep voiced portrayals of Lincoln on film by actors such as Walter Huston, Henry Fonda and Raymond Massey.  The Animatronics Lincoln now has a new voice actor as Lincoln, but to generations that came of age in the final decades of the last century and visited Disney World, Dano’s voice will be that of Lincoln’s. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Saul and Obedience to God



The Pope gave an interesting homily in which he bashed those who do not support what he is doing to the Church.  Here is the report on the homily by Vatican Radio interspersed with PopeWatch comments:



In the first reading, Saul was rejected by God as King of Israel because he disobeyed, preferring to listen to the people rather than the will of God. The people, after a victory in battle, wanted to offer a sacrifice of the best animals to God, because, he said, “it’s always been done that way.” But God, this time, did not want that. The prophet Samuel rebuked Saul: “Does the Lord so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord?” Jesus teaches us the same thing in the Gospel, the Pope explained. When the doctors of the law criticized Him because His disciples did not fast “as had always been done,” Jesus responded with these examples from daily life: “No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”



What an odd interpretation.  Samuel conveyed to King Saul the command of God that the Amalekites be annihilated long with all their animals.  When Samuel learned that Saul had disobeyed by sparing the King of the Amalekites, Agag, and the best of the animals, he rebuked Saul and slew Agag with his own hand.  The lesson is strict adherence to the commands of God, something that the Pope is shaky in regard to.




“What does this mean? That He changes the law? No! That the law is at the service of man, who is at the service of God – and so man ought to have an open heart. ‘It’s always been done this way’ is a closed heart, and Jesus tells us, ‘I will send you the Holy Spirit and He will lead you into the fullness of truth.’ If you have a heart closed to the newness of the Spirit, you will never reach the full truth. And your Christian life will be a half-and-half life, a patched life, mended with new things, but on a structure that is not open to the voice of the Lord—a closed heart, so that you are not able to change others.”



Once again a bizarre interpretation.  God gave a command and Saul failed to carry it out.  The passage has nothing to do with what the Pope is arguing.




This, the Pope emphasized, was the sin of Saul, for which he was rejected by God. “It is the sin of so many Christians who cling to what has always been done and who do not allow others to change. And they end up with half a life, [a life that is] patched, mended, meaningless.” The sin, he said, “is a closed heart,” that “does not hear the voice of the Lord, that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us.” This rebellion, says Samuel, is “the sin of divination,” and obstinacy is the sin of idolatry:



Saul was rejected by God because he did not heed the commands of God as conveyed by Samuel. God commanding the annihilation of an enemy population was not a new teaching as a cursory reading of earlier passages in the Old Testament would clearly indicate.



“Christians who obstinately maintain ‘it’s always been done this way,’ this is the path, this is the street—they sin: the sin of divination. It’s as if they went about by guessing: ‘What has been said and what doesn’t change is what’s important; what I hear—from myself and my closed heart—more than the Word of the Lord.’ Obstinacy is also the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry. ‘And what is the way, Father?’ Open the heart to the Holy Spirit, discern what is the will of God.”




The whole point of the passage is strict obedience to the will of God.  Unless the Pope is seeking to claim the mantle of prophet with some new revelation from God, it does not support the argument he is making.




Pope Francis noted that in Jesus’ time, good Israelites were in the habit of fasting. “But there is another reality,” he said. “There is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the full truth. And for this reason he needs an open heart, a heart that will not stubbornly remain in the sin of idolatry of oneself,” imagining that my own opinion is more important than the surprise of the Holy Spirit.





Christians fasted after Jesus ascended.  As Christ noted, it was not proper for the Church to fast while He, the Bridegroom of the Church, was present on Earth.



“This is the message the Church gives us today. This is what Jesus says so forcefully: ‘New wine in new wineskins.’ Habits must be renewed in the newness of the Spirit, in the surprises of God. May the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart, of a heart open to the voice of the Spirit, which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change in order to be able to receive the newness of the Spirit.”




Pope Francis has a dismaying habit of attempting to turn his policy preferences into mandates of the Holy Spirit, while taking as unimportant teachings of the Church based upon what Christ said. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Free Markets



George Cardinal Pell once again shows that he is not a “yes man”. In a speech before The Global Foundation he praised free markets. Go here to read about it. This is at a time when the so-called Pink Tide of governments in South America are in trouble, with a free market President being elected in Argentina, Venezuela electing an opposition controlled National Assembly and the Socialist President of Brazil facing impeachment proceedings as the Brazilian economy tanks.  Will any of this moderate the manifest hostility of the Pope to free markets?  Doubtful.  The Pope has reached an advanced age and what he has written about economics indicate that his beliefs in this area are completely impervious to facts contrary to what he wishes to believe.  The Pope is ever optimistic about the ability of government to better the lives of people and ever pessimistic about the ability of free markets to do so.  That this belief stands reality on its head the Pope seems to be either unaware of or indifferent to.  In some of his more troubling statements about economics, the Pope has given the impression that he would favor heavy handed government regulation of markets even if people would be materially poorer as a result.




Quotes Suitable for Framing: Clarence Thomas


Our small, soft hands blistered quickly at the start of each summer, but Daddy (the maternal grandfather of Clarence Thomas) never let us wear work gloves, which he considered a sign of weakness. After a few weeks of constant work, the bloody blisters gave way to hard-earned calluses that protected us from pain. Long after the fact, it occurred to me that this was a metaphor for life–blisters come before calluses, vulnerability before maturity.

He never praised us, just as he never hugged us. Whenever my grandmother urged him to tell us that we had done a good job, he replied, “That’s their responsibility. Any job worth doing is worth doing right.”

The family farm and our unheated oil truck became my most important classrooms, the schools in which Daddy passed on the wisdom he had acquired in the course of a long life as an ill-educated, modestly successful black man in the Deep South. Despite the hardships he had faced, there was no bitterness or self-pity in his heart. As for bad luck, he didn’t believe in it.

Justice Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son

Justice Thomas has called his barely literate grandfather, the late Myers Anderson, who raised him and his brother after his father ran off, the greatest man he has ever known. He taught him the value of hard work, self reliance and a striving to achieve against the odds, essential lessons that too many Americans, no matter how well educated, fail to ever learn.



13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: A Review

My family and I went to see 13 Hours:  The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on Saturday.  I found the movie to be an exciting and moving recreation of the actions of the CIA contractors, all former  members of elite American military units,  who fought against the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12, and a damning indictment of the lack of action by the administration which left these men in the lurch, their criminal inaction leading to the death of former Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.  A strong language advisory  as military men under fire have been known to swear on occasion, and I would further note that my wife had to leave the theater because she found the movie too intense.  My review is below the fold and the usual warning as to spoilers is in full effect.


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PopeWatch: Drone Strike




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


Hoboken, NJ––An SSPV drone strike has accidentally killed three and injured four other Taliban members living in the U.S. Saturday, a spokesman for the Society confirmed before expressing sorrow for the wayward bomb that was originally meant to put a stop to a Novus Ordo Vigil Mass in Hoboken, New Jersey. In a statement to the AP, founder and leader of the sedevacantist organization Bishop Clarance Kelly said that he and other members of the traditionalist sect were grieved about the innocent loss of life, and that an investigation was underway as to why the errant bomb, meant to halt “a most grievous sacrilege,” fell a block north of its target. “We are truly sorry for those affected by this unfortunate miscalculation, and our hearts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed,” Kelly said. When asked how the Society meant to justify its killing of potentially hundreds gathered at the target of the operation, Kelly responded, saying that there are “circumstances for which pre-emptive strikes must be taken to insure the dignity of the Holy Mass, and it is a sad fact that sometimes there must be collateral damage.” “It is true that members of the Taliban are terrorists, but there is no terrorism worse than the terrorism of the Mass. Members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda look to kill men and women. But liturgical terrorists attempt to kill something much greater than men or women.” Kelly later confirmed to Eye of the Tiber that the bomb used in the attack was meant only for the priest and five others concelebrating, and that not enough explosives were used to inflict much damage outside the Sanctuary. Continue Reading


New York Values

Well this campaign season just keeps getting better. Last night the Republicans had the latest in a series of presidential debates. I personally thought the top three contenders – Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump – all acquitted themselves very well. Even Donald Trump, as off-point and rambling in his answers as ever, was basically coherent. Jeb Bush continues to look like a hostage forced to run for the presidency against his will. Chris Christie did well even if he completely dissembled about his record and once again complained about people debating during a debate. John Kasich is still permitted to participate in these things for reasons that elude most sane people. And Ben Carson, well, Dr. Carson is an extraordinarily humble man of great character, and I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to say anything too mean.

There were some fierce exchanges, and perhaps the biggest moment of the night occurred Ted Cruz deftly handled the question about his status as a natural born citizen. He even got Trump to concede that he only went there because of Cruz’s standing in the polls. It was beautiful to see the crowd actually boo Trump as he tried to continue down this foolish path.

The other Trump-Cruz exchange arguably did not go quite as well for Cruz. On the stump Cruz had dissed the Donald for upholding “New York values,” a line of attack he continued during the debate. Cruz concluded with the line “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan,” a line which was actually a subtle jab at Trump’s remark that “not a lot of Evangelicals come out of Cuba.” Trump hit back, going to the 9/11 well to talk about how New Yorkers stood tall and united after the terrorist attacks. It was certainly a well-crafted response by Donald, and it caught Cruz a bit off guard. Video of the exchange can be seen at this link.

Now there’s been some back-and-forth in the social media world about Cruz’s “New York values” line of attack – a phrase, by the way, uttered by Trump himself a few years ago. Many New Yorkers are supposedly upset by the remarks as evidenced by this Daily News front page (link does not go to the Daily News*).

*I remarked on twitter that if the New York Times had a lobotomy, the result would be the New York Daily News. I was in error. The Daily News is the result of the New York Times getting drunk. 

Now, I happen to be a native New Yorker, born and raised in the mean streets of Queens. I attended high school in Manhattan and worked there for a couple of years after college. My family still all live in New York. I loved New York, and still get a little weepy sometimes when I hear Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York.” I remain loyal to my New York sports teams, particularly the Mets. Donald Trump was absolutely right about the spirit of New Yorkers, and their great resiliency. There is a great charm in New York bluntness. Having lived in several other large cities, and having regularly traveled throughout the country, I still think in many ways that New York is the greatest city in the country, especially if you are a certain age. The combination of arts, entertainments, business, food (the best food of any major city, or at least the city with the best diversity of good food), and just the general vibrancy of the city are unmatched. And even as Democratic as the city might be, there is a great working class charm to the outer boroughs where the residents are not so easily typecast. There is a reason New York City did not elect a Democratic mayor for two decades, and why the one who served for 12 years shortly before Giuliani (Ed Koch) was hardly a doctrinaire leftist.

All that being said, let me relay a statistic for you. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the abortion rate in 2010 for women aged 15-44 was 17.7 per 1,000 women in the country. New York’s rate was 35.3, second only to Delaware. No other state was in the thirties. I am willing to bet a small fortunate that the rate in the city was much higher than upstate.

Abortion rates of course don’t tell the whole story, though there is a definite correlation between high abortion rate states and “blue” states. There are demographic, economic and other factors at play in the statistic as well.

But let’s be clear about something. Ted Cruz was getting at something all of us understand in our hearts. There is a certain value set among urbanites and other people on the east coast that clashes with the values of folks in much of the rest of the country. Of course not everyone who happens to live in New York holds the same values as the urban elites, and even holding those values does not make you, ipso facto, a bad person. Believing in socialized medicine does not render you incapable of rising to the occasion in moments of great stress, or of helping in times of crisis. But when it comes to the world of politics, and in understanding the role of government, or in holding certain cultural values, New Yorkers and the like generally clash with the values and ideology held by the majority of Republicans, and definitely of conservatives. All the crocodile tears shed in the world will not change this stubborn fact. Even if you cringe at the hint of a suggestion of some kind of culture war, you have to acknowledge the difference in value sets. And no matter how much Donald Trump has pulled the wool over the eyes of many voters, his history and his actions show he’s from a different world (metaphorically speaking) than traditional conservatives. And that’s Ted Cruz’s point, and it’s a point that is absolutely correct.


King Charles and his Happy Death

The phrase “happy death” is no stranger to Catholics, a death where a person takes advantage of an awareness of approaching bodily death to confess sins and to appear before God for the particular judgment as a penitent.  I think the phrase can be used occasionally for the secular life.  Such an example was King Charles I.  Wrong-headed and far from wise, he had the chief responsibility for the civil wars that ravaged his country.  Defeated, he was brought by the victorious Parliament to trial for his life 367 years ago this month.  Based upon his past record, the expectation would have been that Charles would have cut a poor figure at his trial:  brave but stupid.  Then a marvelous thing happened.  Charles, who had never been eloquent, defended himself with a verve and skill that many an attorney would envy.  Under no illusions that he could save his life, he was determined to go out with the best arguments he could muster to defend his cause.  He argued that the court had no rightful power to judge him, and that he was the champion of the people’s liberty against the naked power of the sword.  He mused about how other people would be treated by the Army dictatorship when the King was treated with no mercy. Here are some of the arguments he made at trial in his own words:
I would know by what power I am called hither … I would know by what authority, I mean lawful ; there are many unlawful authorities in the world; thieves and robbers by the high-ways … Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgement of God upon this land. Think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater … I have a trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it, to answer a new unlawful authority; therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.I do stand more for the liberty of my people, than any here that come to be my pretended judges … I do not come here as submitting to the Court. I will stand as much for the privilege of the House of Commons, rightly understood, as any man here whatsoever: I see no House of Lords here, that may constitute a Parliament … Let me see a legal authority warranted by the Word of God, the Scriptures, or warranted by the constitutions of the Kingdom, and I will answer.

It is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the peace, by that duty I owe to God and my country; and I will do it to the last breath of my body. And therefore ye shall do well to satisfy, first, God, and then the country, by what authority you do it. If you do it by an usurped authority, you cannot answer it; there is a God in Heaven, that will call you, and all that give you power, to account.

If it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied myself with the protestation I made the last time I was here, against the legality of the Court, and that a King cannot be tried by any superior jurisdiction on earth: but it is not my case alone, it is the freedom and the liberty of the people of England; and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their liberties. For if power without law, may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the Kingdom, I do not know what subject he is in England that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own.

I do not know the forms of law; I do know law and reason, though I am no lawyer professed: but I know as much law as any gentleman in England, and therefore, under favour, I do plead for the liberties of the people of England more than you do; and therefore if I should impose a belief upon any man without reasons given for it, it were unreasonable … The Commons of England was never a Court of Judicature; I would know how they came to be so.

It was the liberty, freedom, and laws of the subject that ever I took – defended myself with arms. I never took up arms against the people, but for the laws … For the charge, I value it not a rush. It is the liberty of the people of England that I stand for. For me to acknowledge a new Court that I never heard of before, I that am your King, that should be an example to all the people of England, for to uphold justice, to maintain the old laws, indeed I do not know how to do it.

This many-a-day all things have been taken away from me, but that that I call more dear to me than my life, which is my conscience, and my honour: and if I had a respect to my life more than the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, certainly I should have made a particular defence for my self; for by that at leastwise I might have delayed an ugly sentence, which I believe will pass upon me … Now, sir, I conceive that an hasty sentence once passed, may sooner be repented of than recalled: and truly, the self-same desire that I have for the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, more than my own particular ends, makes me now at lest desire, before sentence be given, that I may be heard … before the Lords and Commons … If I cannot get this liberty, I do protest, that these fair shows of liberty and peace are pure shows and that you will not hear your King.”


After his condemnation, Charles went to his death calmly, stating that he was trading a perishable crown for an imperishable one.  Historians would note in full his folly that led him to the headman’s block, but they would also recall that in the last days of his life, Charles acquitted himself well, and that by his manner of passing from this life, he breathed new life into his cause. Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Lavender Mafia




Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register takes a look at some recent comments about the Vatican Lavender Mafia:

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has confirmed the presence of a homosexual “lobby” in the Vatican and revealed that Pope Francis is trying “little by little to purify it.”

The Honduran Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, who coordinates the Council of Nine cardinals advising the Pope on reform of the Roman Curia and Church governance, was responding to a question from a Honduran newspaper reporter who asked him whether there had been “an attempt to infiltrate the gay community in the Vatican, or a moment when that had actually happened?”

Cardinal Rodriguez replied: “Not only that, also the Pope has said there is even a ‘lobby’ in this sense. Little by little the Pope is trying to purify it.” He added: “One can understand them [members of the lobby] and there is pastoral legislation to attend to them, but what is wrong cannot be truth.”

The Pope acknowledged the presence of a homosexual network of priests at the Vatican during a private conversation with leaders of a Latin American confederation of religious in June 2013. In the context of saying he found reform of the Roman Curia difficult, the Pope said: “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there … We need to see what we can do.”

He alluded to it again a month later, telling reporters on the plane back from Rio de Janeiro that “you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good.”

A homosexual lobby was also suspected to have been influential on both Synods on the Family when controversial passages relating to homosexuals made their way into the interim report during the 2014 meeting despite being hardly discussed, and external lobby groups sought to pressure the participants.

There was also a common perception that the Communion for remarried divorcees issue, which dominated both synods, was a “Trojan horse” to allow Church recognition of same-sex relationships and other extra-marital unions.

During last year’s synod, statements on homosexuality “seemed to come out of nowhere” at press briefings when the issue was hardly raised by synod fathers during the three week meeting.
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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


The movie 13 Hours:  The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is being released tomorrow.  From what I have been hearing from people who have had access to advance screenings, it is a gripping tribute to the CIA operatives, former members of special forces units, who during the attack on the American consulate on 9/11/12 in Benghazi, Libya, on their own initiative and against orders from higher ups, rescued 32 Americans from the consulate and then stood off the terrorists at the CIA compound until the people they rescued could be evacuated.  Their urgent requests for air support went unanswered, the Obama administration, paralyzed due to the attack spoiling the mendacious campaign slogan of the Obama campaign that Al-Qaida was finished, was unwilling to make the story larger by sending military units to support the brave men holding the compound.  In the fighting, two former Seals, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were slain. It is outrageous that the effort to award each of these heroes the Congressional Gold Medal has been stalled in Congress, but that pales to insignificance in that the villains who left these two men to die have incurred no penalties for the betrayal of  the fundamental duty owed by a government to those who fight our enemies:  to render them every assistance possible.