7

Trumpisms

donald_trump_for_president_posters-rd20c1deb7d3b42c79c580849599f9265_w2q_8byvr_324

 

 

The start of a new series:  Trumpisms:

 

What were your other impressions of the Soviet Union?

I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.

You mean firm hand as in China?

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world–

3

Red Fascists at Work

 

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, every where. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.

Abraham Lincoln, September 16, 1858

 

 

 

It has become so common for leftist groups to attempt to shout down conservatives at state funded colleges and universities that we overlook what a true outrage it is.  Institutions of higher learning are supposed to be places of free inquiry.  Instead, they are today commonly citadels of bigotry and intolerance where campus radicals, aided and abetted by the administrations of these state institutions, play out brown shirt fantasies against anyone with the guts to stand against them.  What happened to conservative commentator Ben Schapiro a few days ago at California State University Los Angeles is typical:

 

Initially, administrators at the taxpayer-funded public university tried to force the postponement of the event in favor of a later event where Shapiro would have to appear alongside speakers who disagreed with him. Shapiro vowed to speak at the original time scheduled, and the university backed down, releasing a statement Thursday:

Author Ben Shapiro was invited to speak this afternoon at Cal State LA by the Young Americans for Freedom, which is a registered student organization. The event, “When Diversity Becomes a Problem,” was funded by the Associated Students, Inc., the student government.

Leading up to the event, there were a number of emails and social media posts that caused concern for the campus community. Given threats and expressions of fear, President William A. Covino proposed a rescheduled event that would be civil and inclusive, and in which Mr. Shapiro and speakers with other viewpoints could offer their perspectives in an organized forum.

“My decision was made in the interest of safety and security,” Covino said. “I am disappointed that Mr. Shapiro has not accepted my invitation to speak in such a forum. He has indicated that he will come to Cal State LA to speak today at the University-Student Union Theatre, where he was originally scheduled to deliver his talk,” Covino told the University community Thursday morning.

Covino added: “I strongly disagree with Mr. Shapiro’s views. But if Mr. Shapiro does appear, the University will allow him to speak. We will make every effort to ensure a climate of safety and security.”

In his remarks, Shapiro blasted Covino and other faculty members who tried to stop the event from taking place, and who had threatened violence against Shapiro, including professors Robert Weide and Melina Abdullah.

He called them “disgusting” and described Covino as a “totalitarian” and an “idiot” whose behavior exemplified “an insane society created by the American left who says that anybody that disagrees with them must be silenced.”

He explained that there are three kinds of diversity: diversity of color, diversity of values, and diversity of ideas. Only the last kind, he said, was valuable to society and could create stable and healthy communities. Continue Reading

5

1752: The Year of the Missing 11 days

“It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”

Benjamin Franklin celebrating the elimination of 11 days in the switchover in 1752 from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar.

February 29, seems like an appropriate date to discuss the Gregorian Calendar.  The Julian Calendar, implemented by Julius Caesar, had been a striking advance for its day, placing the Roman calendar on a solar, rather than a lunar basis, and being only 11 minutes off in the length of the solar year, a strikingly accurate estimate for the time.  However, eleven minutes added up as the long centuries passed, and by the sixteenth century the calendar and the seasons were ten days out of whack, which was important to the Church in regard to the calculation of Easter.  The Gregorian Calendar implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 eliminated ten days from the calendar and instituted the February 29 leap year, ever four years, to compensate for the extra six hours between 365 days and the solar year which adds up each year.  Three leap years are skipped every four centuries in years which are divisible by 100 but not divisible by 400.  The Gregorian Calendar is off by 26 seconds each year as to the length of the solar year which results in an extra day every 3,323 years. Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: The Donald and The Francis

PopeWatch2-199x300

 

 

Matthew Schmitz, literary editor of First Things, in the Washington Post thinks that the Pope and Trump have much in common:

 

 

Despite these differences, Francis and Trump have much in common. Begin with how they choose their major targets. Both are outsiders bent on shaking up their establishments. Francis challenges a hidebound Vatican bureaucracy and flirts with revising settled Catholic doctrine. He denounces institutional maintenance, demanding “a church that is poor and for the poor.”

Trump attacks conventional Republican politicians and violates every conservative orthodoxy. He calls George W. Bush a liar and praises Planned Parenthood. His every electoral success deals another blow to a political class that is already reeling during a primary season marked by populist passions.

There are rhetorical similarities, too. Barton Swaim, a former speechwriter, notes that conventional politicians “rely … heavily on abstractions” and “avoid concrete nouns.” By contrast, writes Swaim, Trump addresses potential voters in a vivid and snappy way, using simple words and arresting statements. Much the same could be said of Francis.

“” frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border: 0px currentColor; border-image: none; vertical-align: bottom; display: none;”

[Pope Francis suggests contraception could be permissible in Zika fight]

Francis’s claim that “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” is a piece of arresting hyperbole not unlike Trump’s claims that “we are led by very, very stupid people.” Whatever the merits of their arguments, both know how to make headlines.

And both men promise to empower those who feel excluded — from the Catholic Church, or from the U.S. political process. Francis sets aside established rules to accommodate troubled Catholics, while Trump gives voice to the anxieties of working-class whites who feel they have lacked a champion.

In making these appeals, Francis and Trump prioritize an iconoclastic style over substance — or coherence. The pope has heartened many Catholics, and shocked others, by supporting heterodox views on communion for the divorced and remarried. But he is hardly a down-the-line liberal.

He opposes abortion and has described gender theory as a violation of nature similar to the use of nuclear arms. His scattershot rhetoric finds its parallel in the opportunistic bombast of Trump.

Both an opponent of immigration and a critic of immigration rhetoric, both antiabortion and a supporter of the nation’s leading abortion provider, Trump boasts a political program that is no clearer than Francis’s theological one. Both men prize bold words and gestures at the expense of clear arguments and specific policies.

Their admirers overlook these inconsistencies. Why? The basis of their appeal is a mistrust of institutions, which is widespread and increasing. According to the Gallup Organization, only 42 percent of Americans now profess confidence in organized religion, down from a historical average of 55 percent. Only 8 percent have confidence in Congress, down from a historical average of 24 percent.

In such an environment, anti-establishment personalities become immensely attractive. It seems that all we need is a Strong Will (in Trump’s case) or Good Intentions (in Francis’s). Institutions, with their rules and customs, seem irrelevant at best. Continue Reading

44

The Essence of Trump

It should be obvious to all sentient people by now, who are not card carrying members of the Cult Trump, that Donald Trump is completely ignorant on most public policy matters and that when confronted on his ignorance he resorts to his trademark Trump bluster and insults.  Ace at Ace of Spades had been supporting Trump due to Ace’s well founded disgust with the Republican Establishment.  He no longer is supporting Trump and in a very thought full post explains why Trump is a disastrous choice for conservatives:

 

Why I am I banging on about Trump’s lack of knowledge and thinking on these thoughts?

Because, unlike many, I don’t consider thinking and knowledge to be enemies of conservatism and principle. Rather, I consider them to be essential to it.

If you’re going to be a conservative — if you’re going to fight the very powerful cultural forces that surround us and push liberalism on us as the easy path you won’t get beat up for — you’d better have some damn good reasons for doing so, or you’ll come apart like a cheap suit.

Let me remind everyone what knowledge, deep thinking over years of consideration, and conviction can get you.

Let me remind everyone of Ronald Reagan’s and Robert F. Kennedy’s “Great debate” in 1967. A major issue was Vietnam (though Reagan did also take the time to call for the Berlin Wall “to disappear.”)

Robert F. Kennedy, the great hope of liberals and intellectuals and liberals who wrongly believe themselves to be intellectuals, got completely obliterated, despite being on the more popular side of the Vietnam War debate.

Why? Because Reagan knew every damn thing that was required to have an opinion, and to defend an opinion, on Vietnam. When an Oxford student claimed that the Diem regime (a previous America-supported regime, ended when Diem was assassinated) had put six million people in “concentration camps,” Reagan scoffed, noting the entire population of Vietnam was merely sixteen million people. How could he have possibly put six million in concentration camps, surreptitiously?

A big problem I have with Trump not knowing things, and clearly never have thought about things, combined with his obvious desire to pander and make the big sale, is that when he’s caught out without any good answer, and senses that he’s losing the room with an unpopular answer, he usually (75% of the time) tries to get back on the right side of popular opinion and embrace the liberal position on the issue.

You couldn’t do that to Reagan, because Reagan always had a series of facts to back him up, and because he’d been thinking about things — not feeling about them; thinking about them, theorizing about them — for years, like during his famous GE addresses.

Unlike Trump, he never felt that he was “losing the room” with an unpopular conservative answer. He was always confident and in command, because he had earned being confident and in command. He had done the homework — he wasn’t some Millennial who had feelz that xe was right. He was a thinking, intellectually-voracious man who tested his own thoughts until he knew he was right, because he’d looked at the question from several directions.

When Reagan felt he was addressing a hostile crowd, he didn’t immediately attempt to placate them by offering them a liberal position he flip-flopped to on the spot. Instead, he went into his mental note-card file and tried to convince them of the conservative opinion.

And a lot of the time, he did.

My problem with Trump is that he is a dealmaker trying to make a sale. Right now he’s trying to make a deal with conservatives — so this is the very most conservative we’ll ever see him.

If he gets the nomination, he now starts working on making the second part of the deal with the other party in the negotiations, the general public.

So this is the most conservative we’ll ever see Trump — this is the absolute most conservative he’ll ever be — and he’s not conservative at all, except, possibly, on immigration. He combines liberal policy impulses with frankly authoritarian or even fascist ones, which he thinks are “what conservatives want,” because, frankly, he conceives of us as ugly-minded, stupid dummies who get off on this shit.

That’s why he didn’t put the “Ban Muslims” line in a more palatable, persuasive form, like “Reduce immigration from Muslim-majority countries or countries with a terrorism problem to a level where we can vet each individual applicant.”

No, he put it in the most bigoted, ugly way he could think of, because that’s about his level, and because, also, that’s what he thinks “conservatives” are.

Even on issues like that, where I would like him to move the Overton Window so we can begin discussing a rational reduction of such immigration until this Jihadist Madness passes from history, I find he doesn’t move it at all, because he makes the issue much more toxic and alienating than it needs to be.

What does Trump actually know about conservatives? He seems to only know five things, which he repeats in such crude ways it’s preposterously insulting. Apparently we “love Jesus,” so he says he does too. He knows we love guns, so he’s so in love with the Second Amendment he wants to make out with it.

Does he ever explain the underpinnings of his belief in the Second Amendment, such that you get the impression if he’s challenged on it, he can break out chapter and verse on the amendment like Reagan would have and remained resolute in his position?

He senses we don’t like Mexicans or Muslims very much, so he wants to ban rapists and terrorists.

He knows we love babies and hate abortions, so he’s reversed himself from being “very, very pro-choice” and even supporting partial birth abortion to being so against abortion you couldn’t believe it. (But he’ll keep on funding Planned Parenthood because they’re a wonderful organization.) Continue Reading

13

Von Galen Contra the Swastika

The Lion of Munster

Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God.

Blessed Clemens von Galen

(I ran this series originally back in 2011.  I am rerunning it now, because the contemporary Church is greatly harmed by the unwillingness of so many clerics to confront evil forthrightly.  In this year of Mercy we must not forget the need to cry out for Justice, and that is precisely what the Lion of Munster did.)

 

In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine the second of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  One week after his first breathtaking sermon against the Gestapo, my examination of which may be read here, he preached on July 20, 1941 a blistering sermon against the Nazis and their war on Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular.

Today the collection which I ordered for the inhabitants of the city of Münster is held in all the parishes in the diocese of Münster which have not themselves suffered war damage. I hope that through the efforts of the state and municipal authorities responsible and the brotherly help of the Catholics of this diocese, whose contributions will be administered and distributed by the offices of the Caritas, much need will be alleviated.

Charity, always a prime duty of Catholics.

Thanks be to God, for several days our city has not suffered any new enemy attacks from without. But I am distressed to have to inform you that the attacks by our opponents within the country, of the beginning of which I spoke last Sunday in St. Lambert’s, that these attacks have continued, regardless of our protests, regardless of the anguish this causes to the victims of the attacks and those connected with them. Last Sunday I lamented, and branded as an injustice crying out to heaven, the action of the Gestapo in closing the convent in Wilkinghege and the Jesuit residences in Munster, confiscating their property and possessions, putting the occupants into the street and expelling them from their home area. The convent of Our Lady of Lourdes in Frauen­strasse was also seized by the Gau authorities. I did not then know that on the same day, Sunday 13th July, the Gestapo had occupied the Kamilluskolleg in Sudmühle and the Benedictine abbey of Gerleve near Coesfeld and expelled the fathers and lay brothers. They were forced to leave Westphalia that very day.

The Nazi war on the Church is becoming more brazen in the midst of the War. Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: Trump and Christ

 

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

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

 

 

Marco Rubio attacked Donald Trump on Wednesday, questioning his eligibility to speak as a Christian running for office by creating uncertainty about the GOP front-runner’s claim to be a follower of Christ .

The senator retweeted an accusation claiming that “It’s a slam dunk case” that Donald Trump was ineligible to speak as though he were a Christian while running for president.

“I don’t know. I really…I’ve never looked at it,” Rubio told reporters Wednesday morning. “As somebody said, he was never baptized. And I retweeted it. I have lots of people following me on social media, and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting.”

Trump, who was born in New York City to Presbyterian parents, fired back.

“As Christ wrote somewhere in the bible, ‘Don’t be losers. Drop your nets and follow me.’ And I take these words seriously. Only winners follow Christ, and Rubio is losing. He’s losing badly, which makes him a loser, and therefore not a Christian.” Continue Reading

5

1812 Overture

 

Something for the weekend.  Tchaikovsky’s  1812 Overture.  Written in 1880 to commemorate the victory of Russia over Napoleon, its composition was due to the fact that the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in thanksgiving for the victory, was nearing completion.  As it happens, Tchaikovsky did not think much of what would become his most famous piece, writing that it was noisy and lacked all artistic merit and was written by him without love.  Oddly enough, it has become associated in this country with the Fourth of July, as I have heard it performed on several Independence Day celebrations.

Although it has been endlessly parodied, “the cereal that’s shot from guns”, I have always liked it.  Listening to a great piece of music like this, I wonder if the below humor piece does not possess a rare insight: Continue Reading

4

The Rifleman and Job

 

From the second episode of The Rifleman television series entitled Home Ranch, first broadcast on October 7, 1958.  Lucas McCain and his son are taking possession of their ranch outside of North Fork that McCain purchased in the first episode.  Agents of a local cattle baron, who has been using the range of the abandoned ranch, burn down the house on the property in order to force McCain to sell the land to the cattle baron.  His ten year old son Mark, in despair, says it looks to him as if the Lord is dead set against them ever owning a ranch.  McCain responds by telling his son the story of Job.  Director Sam Peckinpah loved the Book of Job, and would often recite verses from it when he encountered bumps in the road during his life.

9

The Last Cristero

 

The Virgin Mary is our protector and defender when there is to fear

She will vanquish all demons at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

Soldiers of Christ: Let’s follow the flag, for the cross points to the army of God!

Let’s follow the flag at the cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

English translation of the battle hymn of the Cristeros

 

 

 

The last member of that gallant band who took up arms to defend Catholics 90 years ago has passed away.  From the blog Call me Jorge:

 

Juan Daniel Macias Villegas died on 18 February 2016 at the age of 103 years in his native town of San Julián, Jalisco, Mexico.  He began fighting with the ‘Cristeros’ at the age of 13 years.  Don Macias was the last living soldier of the Cristero War. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon him.
And may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Go here to read the rest.

20

To Remain Forever a Child

quote-we-study-history-not-to-be-clever-in-another-time-but-to-be-wise-always-marcus-tullius-cicero-56-66-56

 

 

Hattip to Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts.  Patrick Deneen who teaches political theory at Notre Dame decries the ignorance of his pleasant students in a post entitled Res Idiotica:

 

My students are know-nothings.  They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent.  But their minds are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation.  They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten it origins and aims, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference about itself.

It’s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where I’ve taught – Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame.  Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them:  they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject), they build superb resumes.   They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though with their peers (as snatches of passing conversation reveal), easygoing if crude.  They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically).  They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting who will run America and the world.

But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks.  Who fought in the Peloponnesian war?  What was at stake at the Battle of Salamis?  Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach?  How did Socrates die?  Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey.  The Canterbury Tales?  Paradise Lost?  The Inferno

He contends that this pathetic ignorance among students who should be the most learned among their generation is no accident:

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders.  What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, historyless free agents, and educational goals composed of contentless processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”  Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).  In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.  Regardless of major or course of study, the main object of modern education is to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students, to make them perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments.   Efforts first to foster appreciation for “multi-culturalism” signaled a dedication to eviscerate any particular cultural inheritance, while the current fad of “diversity” signals thoroughgoing commitment to de-cultured and relentless homogenization.

Go here to read the rest.  Now such ignorance is appalling but why?  Cicero said it best:  “Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.”   One of the chief goals of education should be to produce morally responsible men and women, not forever children, and hard won knowledge is usually an essential part of the process.  Deneen has a series of questions to underline the ignorance of his students: Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: Junk History

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa notes the use by the Pope of false history to support the idea of using contraception in regard to Zika virus.

 

 

ROME, February 24, 2016 – In the pyrotechnic press conference on the return flight from Mexico to Rome, among his other remarks Pope Francis pulled out again the story that “Paul VI – the great! – in a difficult situation, in Africa, allowed the nuns to use contraception for cases of violence.”

And he added that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in those that I mentioned of the blessed Paul VI, [that] was clear”:

Two days later, Fr. Federico Lombardi also pulled out the same story, in an interview with Vatican Radio conducted with the intention of straightening out what had gotten tangled in the statements of the pope presented in the media, which at the go-ahead for contraceptives had already chanted victory:

“The contraceptive or the condom, in cases of particular emergency and gravity, can also be a serious object of discernment of conscience. This is what the pope is saying. [. . .] The example that [Francis] gave of Paul VI and the authorization to use the pill for religious women who were at the gravest continual risk of violence on the part of rebels in the Congo, at the time of the tragedies of the war in the Congo, makes it clear that it was no normal situation in which this was taken into consideration.”

Now, that Paul VI explicitly gave this permission is not evident at all. No one has ever been able to cite a single word of his in this regard.

Yet this urban legend has been kept alive for decades, and sure enough even Francis and his spokesman have fallen for it.

To reconstruct how this story came about, one must go back not to the pontificate of Paul VI, but to that of his predecessor, John XXIII.

It was 1961, and the question of whether it were licit for nuns in danger of being raped to have recourse to contraception, in a situation of war like the one raging in the Congo at the time, was submitted to three authoritative moral theologians:

– Pietro Palazzini, secretary of the sacred congregation of the council, later made a cardinal;
– Francesco Hürth, a Jesuit, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University;
– Ferdinando Lambruschini, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University, later archbishop of Perugia.

The three together formulated their respective views in an article for the Opus Dei journal “Studi Cattolici,” number 27, 1961, pp. 62-72, under the title: “A woman asks: how should violence be rejected? Morality exemplified. A debate.”

All three were in favor of admitting the liceity of that act, albeit with different arguments. And this favorable view not only passed unharmed through the anything-but-lax scrutiny of the Holy Office, but it became common doctrine among Catholic moralists of every school.

In 1968 Paul VI published the encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which condemned as intrinsically evil “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”

And in 1997 this condemnation would enter, with the same words, into the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

But even after “Humanae Vitae” the liceity of the actions of the Congolese nuns continued to be peacefully admitted, without Paul VI and his successors saying anything.

In 1993, in fact, during the reign of John Paul II, the question came into the spotlight again, this time on account of war not in the Congo, but in Bosnia.

That year the moral theologian who made himself the authoritative spokesman of the common doctrine in favor of liceity was the Jesuit Giacomo Perico, with an article in the magazine “La Civiltà Cattolica,” printed with the imprimatur of the Vatican authorities, entitled: “Rape, abortion, and contraception.”

There are those who maintain that this act is an “exception” to which others could be added, evaluated case by case, thereby invalidating the qualification of “intrinsically evil” – and therefore without any exception – applied to contraception by “Humanae Vitae.”

And there are those who maintain that the act of the Congolese or Bosnian nuns is an act of legitimate defense against the effects of an act of violence that has nothing to do with the free and voluntary conjugal act from which procreation is meant to be excluded, on which and only on which falls the condemnation – without exceptions of any kind – of “Humanae Vitae.”

The scholar who has most deftly reconstructed the clash between these two currents is Martin Rhonheimer, professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, in the volume “Ethics of Procreation and the Defense of Human Life,” The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, 2010, at pages 133-150, which in turn reproduce a previous essay published in 1995 in “La Scuola Cattolica,” the magazine of the theological faculty of Milan, with the title: “Threat of rape and prevention. An exception?”

In Rhonheimer’s judgment the second thesis is the one more faithful to the magisterium of the Church, while the first, typically casuistic and “proportionalistic,” offers support to the criticisms of “Veritatis Splendor,” the encyclical of John Paul II on moral theology. Continue Reading

42

I Will Not be Cowed into Voting for Trump this November

Roughly eight percent of the Republican delegates have been doled out thus far, but evidently it’s all over but the shouting. We might as well make piece with GOP nominee Donald Trump, we’re told. Whether or not one is ready to so readily concede, I’ve already seen the message pivot on various social media platforms. Despite the fact that a majority of Republican voters do not like or simply loathe the man, the quadrennial ritual is about to take place. Yes folks, it’s time for another lovely round of “Vote Republican in November or else.”

Oh I’m just as guilty as anyone as playing this game before. I almost made it through 2012 myself before regretfully folding and pulling the imaginary lever for Mitt Romney (more on that later), and I did the same for McCain in 2008. I’ve made the same arguments now being put forth by Team Vote GOP or Die, so I understand them. I personally find it rather amusing that the same people who have kvetched the most about this strategy in the past are now the ones wielding it, but so be it.

There are two core arguments being put forward as to why we need to get in line for Trump: the courts, and “OMG! Hillary!” (Yeah, Bernie too, but establishment Democrats are ironically better at putting their thumbs on the scale to thwart grassroots sentiment than the not quite so Machiavellian GOPe, so forget him for the time being).

Normally I’d fall in line with this way of thinking, but not this time. Let’s address the courts first.

Antonin Scalia’s death has made the Supreme Court, and the corresponding presidential appointment power, even more pressing of an issue than it normally is. Assuming Senate Republicans actually hold the line – and to their credit, I think they will – then the next president will not only choose his replacement, he or she might get to fill two other vacancies, if not more. Do we want Hillary to make those appointments? Donald Trump may not be counted on to make suitable choices, but at least with him we have a fighting chance. Sure he hasn’t demonstrated any familiarity with constitutional law, or a deep understanding of originalism, and on several high profile cases (such as Kelo) he took the anti-Constitutional side. But he will surely have the best men and women advising him, and we can trust that he will pick good people to pick good people.

To which I reply: The infinitesimal chance that Donald Trump will astutely nominate jurists whose philosophies echo Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, or – dare a girl dream – Clarence Thomas, does not counter all of the other negatives associated with Donald Trump. When speaking of constitutional issues Trump seems barely more coherent than a high school kid who has not done his social studies homework. It’s easy to make too much of his comment that his radically pro-abortion sister would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice, but it underlines his fundamental lack of seriousness on the courts and constitutional issues. He may mouth platitudes about appointing “pro life, conservative” justices, but even when he’s trying to say things he knows his supporters want to hear, he still betrays his complete lack of understanding of what the courts are about. I don’t want “pro life, conservative” justices, I want constitutionalists who will adhere to the document as written and originally understood by its framers. Such justices would naturally decide in a manner that would overturn the social justice engineering wrought by the courts, but would also consistently vote so as to keep the courts out of other areas that are not their concern.

It’s also folly to count on Trump picking excellent advisers to assist him with these picks. We’re left hoping that he picks the right person to pick the right people. Hey, I have an idea – let’s cut out the middleman. Maybe instead of Trump we could have a president who, say, has argued (and consistently won) before the Supreme Court and thus might actually know a little but about constitutional law. Oh, I know, that’s crazy talk. Better to roll the dice, cross our fingers and pray that Trump picks the right person to pick the right person.

Even assuming Trump hits the jackpot and chooses a suitable replacement for Scalia, guess what – he’s likely gonna have to repeat that process multiple times. I would be surprised if Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy don’t resign during the next Republican administration. Ruth Bader Ginsburg might try to hang on for another four years in case Trump wins, but even she might walk away. So not only are we relying on Trump getting it right to simply hold the line, we might need him to make the right call when it comes to appointing someone who could switch the court’s basic composition.

Wait. There’s more. While we focus obsessively on the Supreme Court we forget to scores of lower court appointments that will be made. As Danel Horowtiz details, less than one percent of cases make it to the Supreme Court, meaning that most cases are decided on the appellate level. And as Horowitz shows, President Obama has completely remade the lower courts.

While most people focus exclusively on the Supreme Court and how that institution has reached rock bottom with some of the decisions of the past term, the situation in the lower courts is even worse.  And remember, only 1% of this country’s cases ever make it to the land’s highest court.  Obama has now appointed 54 active appeals court judges, which represents 30% of the appeals court benches.

As of 2016, nine of the 13 circuits are comprised of majorities of Democrat-appointees.  In totality, there are 92 Democrat circuit judges, 77 GOP judges, and 10 vacant seats.  The all-important D.C. Court of Appeals—the second most important court in the land on constitutional issues—is now 7-4 majority Democrat-appointees, with four judges appointed by Obama alone.

On the district level, Obama has now appointed 260 judges, 39% of the federal district bench.

Even if we trusted to Trump to somehow have a better batting average of appointing constitutionalists to the bench than Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, it probably won’t matter. The courts are so fundamentally broken that even appointing the right people – which we can’t even trust Trump will do – won’t solve anything.

Which brings us to the final point. The judiciary has usurped the legislature’s role in deciding social issues. It has become a super legislature, far beyond anything imagined by the framers of the Constitution. Even if the courts decided rightly on these major social issues, we should question why they are even deciding so many of these issues in the first place. Major judicial reform is necessary, including such ideas as jurisdiction stripping. While I wouldn’t expect even a President Cruz to succeed in this arena, at least not as thoroughly as one would hope, there is no chance in Hades than a President Trump will get behind any initiatives to reform the judiciary. In the end, the courts are simply too far gone to think that electing Donald Trump can make any difference whatsoever.

Which brings us to the “but Hillary” argument. Yes, Hillary Clinton is a sociopathic, charisma vacuum who would almost literally (maybe not almost) kill someone who stood in her way of obtaining office. She has no scruples, would say anything to get elected, lies as easily as any of us breathe, and is a doctrinaire leftist.

But I also kind of just described Donald Trump (except for the charisma thing – I’ll give him that).

Phillip Klein laid out a pretty exhaustive list of Trump’s political failings. It’s hard to see in this list precisely where he’s markedly better than Hillary Clinton. In fact both are political chameleons who seem to thirst after power, and will do and say anything to attain that power. In the end, President Clinton or President Trump will do nothing to repeal Obamacare, and both seem to be fine with ideas to further socialize health care. Neither is going to reign in the judiciary, nor are they going to halt the expansion of executive powers. And on and on.

As mentioned above I held out for much of 2012 before finally succumbing to the “he’s better than Obama” argument as applied to Mitt Romney. The thing is, Mitt Romney is Edmund Burke, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan rolled into one compared to Donald Trump, not to mention his clearly superior moral character. Mitt Romney, for all his faults, truly was a superior alternative to Barack Obama. I cannot say the same about Donald Trump as compared to Hillary Clinton.

So that is why no amount of pleading will ever get me to vote for Donald Trump. If it makes you feel better I live in a state that has zero chance of going Republican in a general election, so it also won’t matter. As I said in my previous post, Donald Trump actually could and maybe even likely will defeat Hillary Clinton. God help our nation that this is our choice.

NB: If Tuesday goes as poorly as I fear it might, this will be my final post on presidential politics until election day in November. I don’t think I can stomach eight months of coverage of these two fundamentally loathsome human beings.

53

Second Class Catholics

If there is a more pro-life Catholic entertainment figure than talk show host Laura Ingraham, I am unaware of that person.  Yet her views against illegal immigration make her persona non grata at a Catholic diocese.

Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Washington, has disconcerted members of his flock over his stance on a pro-life charity event. Diocesan officials are discouraging parishes from advertising a dinner being hosted by Image Point Mobile Medical Services, a private non-profit that maintains and operates a mobile medical unit that offers services at the site of abortion providers that including counseling and ultrasound. The organizers are hoping to raise money for another mobile testing facility for Image Point.

An email missive from a diocesan official to the priests of the diocese cited what was called Image Point’s alleged failure to “collaborate in a meaningful way with the Diocese,” after having received a grant from the Knights of Columbus. In his email, Monsignor Robert Siler, Bishop Tyson’s Chief of Staff, wrote:  
 
“Second, the speaker they have invited, Laura Ingraham, while having a positive pro-life witness including her personal choice to adopt three children from other countries, is a strident opponent of many of the immigration positions held by the US bishops. As such, her visit to Yakima sends a profoundly mixed message to our community. As a very public figure with a national audience, she is held to a higher degree.”
 
Laura Ingraham is a Catholic, who also is a well-known radio/television commentator and attorney. She is also the editor-in-chief of the LifeZette news service.
 
The email from Monsignor Siler concluded, “Given these two points, it is not appropriate to advertise Image Point’s event in any way. This isn’t about advertising future events, as will we make those decisions on a case by case basis and should be brought to me.”

Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: Isaiah

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

Well that’s a relief.  The Pope assures us that the prophet Isaiah was not a communist:

 

“Richness and power are realities that can be good and useful for the common good, if they are put to the service of the poor and all, with justice and charity,” Francis said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican.

“But when, as happens too often, they become lived as privilege, with egoism and presumption, they are transformed into instruments of corruption and death,” the pope explained.

Francis referred at one point to the famous reproaches to the greedy in the fifth chapter of Isaiah, and then in an impromptu addition said: “And the prophet Isaiah wasn’t a communist!”

The pontiff’s lines on the exploitation of the powerless drew wide applause and highlighted not only themes that he has often addressed but also the debates over whether the pope — and Catholic teaching — lean toward some form of Marxism.

 

Francis’ critics among conservatives in the U.S. in particular have often accused him of being a “left-winger” or a communist.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has praised Francis as a “socialist” like himself.

 

Go here to read the rest.  CS Lewis had this passage in the Screwtape Letters:

We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere “understanding”. Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritansm; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey. Continue Reading

18

When You’ve Lost Amy Welborn…

BMCLE8

When I first began to comment on blogs circa 2003, one of the Catholic blogs I frequented was Open Book run by Amy Welborn.  I liked her blog because she always struck me as fair-minded and attracted a diverse and entertaining crowd of commenters, many of whom went on to illuminate Saint Blogs with blogs of their own.  She seemed to me as being near the sensible center of Catholicism.  I did not always agree with her, but I always respected her well-reasoned opinions that reflected a deep love of the Church.  Therefore I was intrigued by a recent post of hers entitled Against Popesplaining:

Before I move on to specifics, I want to say something about discussing these issues.

It’s okay.

And it’s time.

Well, it’s been time for a while – it’s never not been time, but, well, it’s really time now.

And it’s time to do so without the spectre of  being caricatured as a a “Francis-Hater” or that you must consider yourself “One of the Greatest Catholics of All Time.” Ignore that kind of discourse. It’s lazy.

It’s time to do so without the discussion-silencing claim that any critique of the current papacy must – must  – come from a fearful identification with American capitalism rather than an embrace of Catholic social teaching.

There’s also no reason to feel guilty about engaging in this discussion or – honestly – not liking Pope Francis very much. It is awesome to be in the presence of the successor of St. Peter, and it is a great gift that Jesus gave us, Peter, the Rock. But it is just a matter of historical fact that not all popes are great, popes make mistakes and sin.  Respect for and value of the office does not mean we must feel caught up in emotion about any pope, even the present one.

Years ago, I was in intense email discussion with someone who was considering leaving the Church, so scandalized was he by the sexual abuse scandals.  He was not personally affected, but he had intimate knowledge of it all and had to write about it. I absolutely understood his pain, because it’s pain anyone would  – and should – feel.  But I made this argument to him over and over:

Look. The Church we’re in is the Church that is not confined by time or space.  The Church we’re in in the present moment is the Church of 42, of 477, of 1048, of 1684, of 1893. The institutional sins and failures of the present moment are real, but no less real are the sins, failures and general weirdness of the past 2000 years.  Look at the history of the papacy in the 9th and 10th centuries. If you can hold onto apostolic succession after studying that chaos, then nothing else is ever going to shake you. 

(Oh, it didn’t work. He left the Church. For another church, no less scandal-ridden than this one, but oh well)

This applies to the discussion at hand, as well. Frantic, defensive fear that critiquing any aspect of any recent papacy would call into question one’s faith in Christ’s gift of Petrine ministry is silly. Our discussions should be grounded in humility and an acceptance of our limited understanding, but wondering if a Pope is doing or saying the right thing does not make one an unfaithful Catholic or a sedevacantist.

The inevitable  concerntrolling respone is going to be, “Sure, you can say all that, but you know that a lot of the people speaking about Pope Francis are…”

Hey, guess what?

I don’t care.  Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Bear Growls: Fiction?

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear tries his paws at fiction, at least I hope it is fiction and not prediction:

Vatican Minister for Propaganda Fredo Lombardo took to the podium last night to address a torchlit crowd that packed St. Peter’s Square.

“Let me begin by saying that God wants a race of thoroughbreds! He wants strong and beautiful Catholics, most perhaps humble, but some towering above the common strain even as the great cathedrals towered over medieval towns, and even our modern cities. But all fit for their purpose. Those buildings are you, Catholics!”

Lombardo’s amplified voice echoed over the mass of people, who responded with cries of adulation. With a theatrically outstretched hand, the crowd grew quiet.

“But, as every common livestock breeder knows, there is only one way to achieve this improvement of our species, my brothers and sisters.” Lombardo paused, his face mischievous. “I seem… I seem to have forgotten, and the wind has taken my papers.”

There were roars of laughter from the crowd, who took its cues from many agents seeded throughout.

“Perhaps, perhaps, my Catholic brothers, my Catholic sisters, you might help me out?

“More children from the fit! Fewer from the unfit!” the crowd answered as one.

“Thank you! Thank you,” Lombardo answered when the crowd died down. “I just wanted to hear it in the voice of the people. Yes, more children from the fit, and fewer from the unfit. And that is why the Church provides pre-nuptial genetic screening, and tests for harmful viruses. Why she screens her children to prevent the misfortune to us all of the unfit, a misfortune most of all to the unfit child itself. Oh, how terrible to see some poor child be born only to a life sentence of idiocy, mongolism, microcephaly and a thousand other conditions that we can now prevent through cautious and sensible breeding. It is the essence of mercy.” Lombardo paused to let that sink in. “But, my fellow Catholics, my brothers and sisters, husband and wives, I must preach for a moment. Can you hear me?”

“Yes!” the crowd roared back.

“In the past, the Church has taught that contraception was wrong. And in those dark days, it was. There was no science behind it. No vision. But we live in a new age, and must adapt the ancient rules.  That is why his Holiness, Francis the Great –“

Lombardo was drowned out by delirious cries, almost as if the crowd could see Pope Francis the Great, up there on the platform. But at another theatrical gesture from Lombardo, they quietened.

“That is why our beloved Pope has brought the rule into the future. Do not listen to those who say this has been changed, or that abrogated. Nothing has changed. It has just been brought into the future. Contraception remains forbidden.”

Even though the crowd knew the script, their breath stopped in their throats, so thoroughly were they playing their part. Or maybe they were so caught in the moment that for an instant they believed what they were hearing.

“Contraception remains forbidden,” Lombardo repeated softly. “But, you know, St. Pope Paul VI, and St. Pope John Paul II both permitted nuns to use contraception. Yes, it’s true. Because it was a simple case of the lesser of two evils. That is our law in this matter. If contraception is the lesser of two evils, then you may use contraception in good conscience, if your conscience approves!”

More cheers from the packed piazza.

Lombardo was silent for a moment, and the crowd also grew silent. Then he continued. “What is the lesser of two evils? The Church directs you first to your duty: produce fit children for the Church. Beyond that, the Church does not intrude upon the inner forum of your conscience. She trusts her children to use their choice wisely, putting aside self-interest. I know, and Pope Francis knows, we can count on every one of our children to make us proud with their sexual choices!” Continue Reading

1

Jefferson on the History of the American Revolution

On August 10, 1815, Thomas Jefferson set pen to paper to respond to John Adams’ letter to him of July 30, 1815.  Go here to read that letter.  Jefferson was no more optimistic than Adams that a true history of the American Revolution could be written:

On the subject of the history of the American revolution, you ask Who shall write it? who can write it? and who ever will be able to write it? nobody; except merely it’s external facts. all it’s councils, designs and discussions, having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no member, as far as I know, having even made notes of them. these, which are the life and soul of history must for ever be unknown. Botta, as you observe, has put his own speculations and reasonings into the mouths of persons whom he names, but who, you & I know, never made such speeches. in this he has followed the example of the antients, who made their great men deliver long speeches, all of them in the same style, and in that of the author himself. the work is nevertheless a good one, more judicious, more chaste, more classical, and more true than the party diatribe of Marshall. it’s greatest fault is in having taken too much from him. I possessed the work, and often recurred to considerable portions of it, altho’ I never read it through. but a very judicious and well informed neighbor of mine went thro’ it with great attention, and spoke very highly of it. I have said that no member of the old Congress, as far as I knew, made notes of the discussions. I did not know of the speeches you mention of Dickinson and Witherspoon. but on the questions of Independance and on the two articles of Confederation respecting taxes & voting I took minutes of the heads of the arguments. on the first I threw all into one mass, without ascribing to the speakers their respective arguments; pretty much in the manner of Hume’s summary digests of the reasonings in parliament for and against a measure. on the last I stated the heads of arguments used by each speaker. but the whole of my notes on the question of independance does not occupy more than 5. pages, such as of this letter: and on the other questions two such sheets. they have never been communicated to any one. do you know that there exists in MS. the ablest work of this kind ever yet executed, of the debates of the Constitutional convention of Philadelphia in 1788.? the whole of every thing said and done there was taken down by mr Madison, with a labor and exactness beyond comprehension. I presume that our correspondence has been observed at the post offices, and thus has attracted notice. would you believe that a printer has had the effrontery to propose to me the letting him publish it? these people think they have a right to every thing however secret or sacred. Continue Reading

23

Silver State ShootOut

 

8f9b2182-0920-4be9-ac39-1ab38e91b88e

 

The Nevada GOP Caucuses  were conducted in an atmosphere of chaos as huge numbers of people who had never before participated in a Republican caucus showed up and overwhelmingly voted for Trump.  Ominously for his adversaries, Trump broke through what had been a ceiling for him, one-third, and got 43% of the vote, with Cruz at 23.8% and Rubio at 23.6%.  Carson and Kasich brought up the rear with 5.6% and 3.5%.  The percentages may change a bit due to the fact that only 37% of the vote has been counted as of writing, but not the result:  an overwhelming Trump victory.  A week from now, Super Tuesday, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia go to the polls for both parties and Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming caucuses for the Republicans.   The question of whether Trump can be stopped will likely be answered by the end of that night.

That Trump is an ignorant, vain buffoon with political positions that indicate he is a Democrat matters not at all to his fans who view him as the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in how the country is being run, especially on the issue of illegal immigration.  That Trump was until the day before yesterday in favor of amnesty and that he has a history of hiring illegal aliens, is of no consequence to the members of the Trump cult.  The chief blame for this ludicrous disaster is the GOP establishment that on a whole host of issues campaigned one way and then in Washington did nothing or supported the opposite of what they said they would support.  A party ignoring its base is always a recipe for a debacle and  Trump is happy to play his part.  One can only hope that enough Republicans ultimately conclude that while their anger is justified, Trump is the wrong vehicle for redress.  If not, the Republic is in for a very rough ride whoever wins the Presidency in the fall.

Update:  Final tally:

Trump 45.9%, Rubio 23.9%, Cruz 21.4%, Carson 4.8% and Kasich 3.6%.

3

February 23, 1945: The Mass on Mount Suribachi

847a09f73b224ee6f7fda623c8f29856

 

 

Iwo Jima probably has the sad distinction of being the most expensive piece of worthless real estate in the history of the globe.  Expensive not in something as minor as money, but costly in something as all important as human lives.  In 1943 the island had a civilian population of 1018 who scratched a precarious living from sulfur mining, some sugar cane farming and fishing.  All rice and consumer goods had to be imported from the Home Islands of Japan.  Economic prospects for the island were dismal.  Eight square miles, almost all flat and sandy, the dominant feature is Mount Suribachi on the southern tip of the island, 546 feet high, the caldera of the dormant volcano that created the island.  Iwo Jima prior to World War II truly was “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”. Continue Reading

71

Marco Rubio Would be an Election Day Disaster

I am bucking both conventional wisdom and my own stated feelings in coming to the conclusion that Marco Rubio, if he somehow wins the Republican nomination, would lose to Hillary Clinton (though possibly not Bernie Sanders). I have long held that just about any Republican can beat the charisma vacuum that is Hillary, but now I have grave doubts about Rubio’s ability to win in November.

Let me first concede that polling data suggests the opposite. Right now the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Rubio up by 3-4 points over Hillary, with Ted Cruz a little less than a percentage point over Hillary, and Donald Trump several points behind Hillary. The polls over the past couple of months have been fairly consistent, with both Rubio and Cruz holding edges over Hillary, but Hillary holding an edge over Trump (with Sanders beating everyone).

But general election polls nine months out before everything has been decided are not quite reliable. That said, the polls do confirm what many feel to be the case. Hillary Clinton has not one jot of her husband’s political skills or appeal, and if just about anyone besides a 74-year old socialist were her primary opponent, she would be toast by now. Sanders has a certain appeal to the millennial crowd, and the general electorate is likely unaware of the full extent of his radicalism.

For the Republicans, Rubio has a superficial appeal that would seem to sway more independent voters. He is not perceived to be as much of an ideologue as Ted Cruz, and apparently has a more vibrant appeal than the supposedly dour Cruz. Trump, meanwhile, reviles people on all sides of the political spectrum. I for one have not only sworn I would never vote for the man, but have said his nomination would cause me to disassociate myself from the Republican party. In that I am hardly alone. If he can’t even get Republicans to vote for him, then how could Trump possibly win?

As much as it pains me to say, Trump not only can win a general election, it’s possible he would even be a favorite to beat Hillary. Of all the reasons I personally dislike Trump and pray fervently he is not the nominee, his lack of electability has never been one. Even if a decent chunk of conservatives refuse to vote for him, he can actually bring in enough disaffected, middle class whites to offset the loss of Republicans. Besides, don’t doubt that more than a few people vowing not to vote for him will, in the end, blink.

We’ve just alluded to Cruz and his ideological rigidity and lack of charisma. Very many people, even on the right, seem to have a visceral hatred of the man.

So why would either be more likely to win in November than Rubio?

In the 1997 movie The Devil’s Advocate,  the main character (and son of Satan, but we don’t need to get into the plot right now – but the movie’s worth checking out if only for Al Pacino’s amazing hammy scene at the end) Kevin Lomax is a defense attorney for a man accused of murder, played by Craig T. Nelson. That the man he is representing is a loathesome, New York real estate tycoon is not at all connected to the point I’m about to make, but it’s a funny coincidence. Anyway, during opening arguments, Lomax (played by Keannu Reeves) offers his opening remarks:

What I need to tell you won’t take very long at all. I don’t like Alexander Cullen. I don’t think he’s a nice person. I don’t expect you to like him. He’s been a terrible husband to all three of his wives. He’s been a destructive force in the lives of his stepchildren. He’s cheated the city, his partners… …his employees. He’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties and fines. I don’t like hm. I’m going to tell you some things during the course of this trial that are going to make you like him even less.

But this isn’t a popularity contest. It’s a murder trial. And the single most important provable fact of this proceeding is that Alexander Cullen was somewhere else when these horrible crimes took place.

I want one thing from you. That’s it. One thing.I want you to ask yourself: “Is not liking this man reason enough to convict him of murder?”

When an angry Cullen confronts Lomax about these remarks, Lomax replies (pardon the very crude language):

I’m gonna bust my ass make sure they hate you. Because as long as you’re boning Melissa, you’re not home killing your wife!

There’s something to be said about laying your cards out on the table. It’s been established that Trump is, well, not a nice guy, and yet he’s winning over Evangelical voters (a topic for another day after a few rounds of heavy drinks). Cruz – not nearly as unlikable as he’s portrayed, but whatever – is also something of a known commodity. As Matt Walsh points out, Cruz is still able to win over voters through the strength of his ideas despite the lack of a strong charismatic appeal (though admittedly this was written after the Iowa caucus when things were looking a bit rosier for Cruz).

The point is though that Cruz and Trump have reputations that precede them. And that might be a good thing for their general election prospects. The voters already have a sense of what these candidates are (even if it’s exaggerated in Cruz’s case, but again, whatever), and yet Cruz still holds his own in a potential election matchup against Hillary. Moreover, one gets the sense that both Trump and Cruz will be able to withstand the blows that Hillary is going to land in debates and in the incessant advertising and media blitz to come. The thing is, people already have a good sense of who these men are, and there’s not much more that the Democrats can do to bring them down. And both men also will be quick to hit back just as hard. Neither man is a boy scout, and for general election purposes, that’s a good thing.

Which brings us to Rubio. The opposition dump that is to come on Marco Rubio is going to make whatever Right to Rise did look like a day at the beach. This has nothing to do with any personal issues that will get dug up, but rather how the Democrats will inevitably go after his “extremism.” Well all those Rubio supporters here in the primary pointing out Rubio’s conservative voting record are going to have to scramble when that voting record is suddenly more deeply explored by the media and the DNC – but I repeat myself. Sure they’ll do the same to Cruz, but again, that’s already known about him. Suddenly the squeaky clean boy wonder won’t look quite as “moderate,” and when his foreign policy bellicosity is added to the mix, suddenly he looks even more extreme than Cruz.

And how would Rubio respond to the attacks that are to come? This is where the rubber hits the road and my lack of confidence in Rubio comes to the fore. Does Rubio have what it takes to take on the Democratic party/Clinton machine? What I’ve seen of Rubio thus far does not impress me. His speaking style inspires some, but has me thinking he needs to hit the decaf. More seriously, I don’t see in him the type of person who can take an attack head-on and deftly go on the counter-attack. Even if one thinks the debate flub against Christie became an exaggerated talking point, it demonstrated a weakness that will be exploited in the general election. I don’t happen to think Rubio is dumb or programmed, nor am I confident that he has the chops to go mano y mujer against Hillary.

What’s more, I don’t think he will pull in as many non-Republicans as Trump, nor will he do as well among Republicans as Cruz. Will conservatives stay at home on election day if Rubio is the nominee? Not necessarily, but as was the case with Romney, I don’t think his nomination will help mobilize the base to engender even greater Republican turnout. Rubio will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as just another Establishment Republican. He’ll get most on the right to dutifully go to the polls for him, but will they knock on doors for him? Will they hit the phone banks?

I’m not even certain Rubio will outperform Cruz among non-Republicans. There is a bitter anti-Establishment mood in this country, and Cruz is a much better vehicle for that feeling than Marco Rubio. Let’s be blunt – are the angry, white middle-class Americans going to storm the polls for one of the leaders of the Gang of Eight? Rubio supporters can roll their eyes if they wish at another invocation of the dreaded Gang of Eight, but it’s a stench that will not leave Marco. And while it’s a stench that will drive away disaffected independents, it will not draw in minority voters.

So I’m bucking conventional wisdom to say that of the three main Republican contenders, Marco Rubio is the most ill-suited to win this November election. Could I be wrong? Of course, I’ve gotten plenty wrong before – except about Jeb Bush not being the nominee. Go me. Therefore if your primary motivation for voting for Rubio is electability – first slap yourself for playing this stupid game because you probably voted for Romney and McCain for the same reasons, and second, know that you’re betting on the wrong horse.

 

7

PopeWatch: Socialist Like Me

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

 

Bernie Sanders, a man with a proudly 100% pro-abort voting record, has obviously been keeping track of the Catholic bloggers bending themselves into pretzels to justify voting for him:

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been a longtime fan of Pope Francis’ positions on social justice and income inequality, and now he says the pontiff is in fact a socialist – just like himself.

“(W)hat it means to be a socialist, in the sense of what the pope is talking about, what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth,” Sanders tells the Rev. Thomas Rosica, head of the Toronto-based Catholic network Salt and Light in an interview to be broadcast Tuesday evening (Feb. 23).

Rosica, who also works as an English-language attache for the Vatican press office, had asked Sanders if he thought Francis was in fact a socialist, as many of the Argentine-born pope’s conservative critics in the U.S. have claimed. Sanders said yes.

“When (the pope) talks about wealth being used to serve people, not as an end in itself, I agree with that,” Sanders says. Continue Reading

John Adams on the History of the American Revolution

John Adams often groused that the true history of the American Revolution would never be written.  Considering this, it is somewhat surprising that he did not undertake the task himself.  He had ample time after his Presidency, and his lively and copious correspondence indicates that age had not lessened his skill with a pen.  It is possible that he simply viewed it as an impossible task, as he indicated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on July 30, 1815:

Dear Sir                                                                                                                                                                                  Quincy July 30th 1815

Who shall write the history of the American revolution? Who can write it? Who will ever be able to write it?

The most essential documents, the debates & deliberations in Congress from 1774 to 1783 were all in secret, and are now lost forever. Mr Dickinson printed a speech, which he said he made in Congress against the Declaration of Independence; but it appeared to me very different from that, which you, and I heard. Dr Witherspoon has published speeches which he wrote beforehand, and delivered Memoriter, as he did his Sermons. But these I believe, are the only speeches ever committed to writing. The Orators, while I was in Congress from 1774 to 1778 appeared to me very universally extemporaneous, & I have never heard of any committed to writing before or after delivery.

These questions have been suggested to me, by a Review, in the Analectic Magazine for May 1815, published in Philadelphia, page 385 of the Chevalier Botta’s “Storia della Guerra Americana.” The Reviewers inform us, that it is the best history of the revolution that ever has been written. This Italian Classick has followed the example, of the Greek and Roman Historians, by composing speeches, for his Generals and Orators. The Reviewers have translated, one of Mr R H Lee, in favour of the declaration of Independence. A splendid morcell of oratory it is; how faithful, you can judge.

I wish to know your sentiments, and opinions of this publication.  Some future Miss Porter, may hereafter, make as shining a romance, of what passed in Congress, while in Conclave, as her Scottish Chiefs.

Your friend durante Vita2

John Adams

Continue Reading

7

Big Brother Twitter

Twitter Big Brother

 

Twitter is becoming a prime example of how contemporary leftists view George Orwell’s 1984 not as a cautionary tale, but as a how to manual:

 

 

On Friday, Twitter suspended the account of Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative blogger and dogged critic of feminism, apparently without warning or explanation. This has led, in true Twitter fashion, to protests under the hashtag #FreeStacy.

Only a few weeks earlier, Twitter had announced the creation of a “Trust and Safety Council,” to which it appointed Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist known for denouncing “sexism” in video games, a prominent figure in the Gamergate controversy—and oh yes, a frequent target of criticism from McCain. So it sure looks like the moment Twitter gave Sarkeesian the power to do so, she started blackballing her critics.

Go here to read the rest. Trust and Safety Council has the nice Orwellian ring for a group set up to censor conservatives on Twitter, the “Council” functioning in secrecy.  Then we also have Twitter shadowbanning conservatives:

Continue Reading

26

Junk History and Jesuit Myths

 

imagesQV9F8VC0

 

 

In the Pope’s disastrous plane interview last week, this q and a occurred:

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.

On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.  

Leaving aside for the moment the havoc the Pope wreaked as to the teaching of the Church against artificial contraception, Francis,  in defense of his reasoning, invoked the alleged example of Pope Paul VI.  One of the main problems of the current papacy is that Pope Francis believes a lot of things that simply are not true.  It is false that Pope Paul VI permitted nuns in the Congo in 1964 during the Simba rebellion to use contraceptives in order to avoid pregnancy due to rape.  Oakes Spaulding at Mahound’s Paradise has done yeoman work in driving a stake through this hoary myth:

 

 

 

 

We can trace the thought experiment back to a 1961 paper by three “Jesuit theologians.” In the heady days of the 1960’s this paper would be cited again and again by Catholic dissidents wishing to push the limits on contraception until Paul VI would quash their efforts with Humanae Vitae. It will be useful to quote in full a 1964 AP story on the paper and subsequent controversy:

A leading Roman Catholic moral theologian here says there may be a relaxation of the Church’s strict ban on contraception because of the rape of nuns in the Belgian Congo four years ago. 

Very Rev. E.F. Sheridan, rector of suburban Willowsdale’s Regis College, foresees probable justification for the use of oral contraceptives by persons threatened with rape but doubts whether abortion or pills for married women will ever been condoned. 

He was commenting on an article by a United Church minister in a recent issue of the United Church Observer. 

Dr. Ernest Marshall Howse of Toronto suggested in The Observer article that three jesuit theologians, studying the violation of the nuns, recognized that artificial contraception is morally permissible under certain circumstances. He said the group presented a considered judgment–on which the Vatican has so far made no comment–that nuns in danger of rape may properly use contraceptive pills and also can “eliminate all traces and consequences” of all aggression. 

The findings of the study were published in the Roman Catholic Theological review Studi Cattolici of November-December, 1961. 

According to Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, a cleric highly regarded for his moral theology studies, “a woman can resist sexual aggression with all her forces.” 

“She can slightly mutilate her face in order to make herself unattractive; she can also eliminate all traces and consequence of the aggression including the fecundant element abusively laid in her womb.” 

Msgr. Lambuschini, another member of the study team, said: “We conclude that the use of pills which suspend temporarily a woman’s fertility, can be considered morally legitimate.” 

Dr. Howse asked; “How long before what is moral in their (the nuns?) situation becomes moral in other situations for other women who, for legitimate reasons, do not want children?” 

Father Sheridan said in an interview: “When three theologians of such high reputation as these men say this, any Catholic can, in safe conscience, follow the advice in the circumstances exactly implied, until contradicted by the Holy See.” 

In other words, it could be understood that nuns can safely use contraceptives to prevent the possible outcome of rape. Father Sheridan added that he understood the Jesuits’ findings to justify contraception for violated women other than nuns. 

“But I don’t think there is any possibility of defending use of contraceptives of the oral type by married couples,” he said. 

He added: “When the theologians speak of preventing any consequence of rape I am quite certain that they would never justify abortion but refer to attempts to expel the spermatozoa before conception. These attempts are licit under the circumstances described, as long as there is no danger of abortion.

There are a few important things to note here. First of all, the story of the Belgian nuns is treated not as fact but as a philosophical jumping off point for a particular argument–that contraception would be licit under certain circumstances. As it was creepily put, the Jesuit theologians were merely “studying the violation of the nuns.”

Its’s also interesting to see the manner in which in 1964 the envelope on changing the traditional Catholic teachings on contraception was aggressively being pushed: “When three theologians of such high reputation as these men say this, any Catholic can, in safe conscience, follow the advice in the circumstances exactly implied, until contradicted by the Holy See.” This sort of thing would eventually lead to Humanae Vitae.

Finally, observe the strong denial that such reasoning could ever lead to married couples taking contraceptives. That was just proven false by the current Pope.

Let’s return to Professor Kalbian. Though she added fuel to the rumor fire with her recent book, she seems now to have somewhat recanted:

Aline Kalbian, a professor of religion at Florida State University and author of Sex, Violence & Justice: Contraception and the Catholic Church also looked into the Belgian nun story and came up empty. 

 

“I didn’t find any evidence of Paul VI saying anything about Congo and nuns,” Kalbian said. “And John XXIII didn’t say anything either.” 

Kalbian also pointed out that the Pill had just been approved for public use in the US in 1960, and that it wasn’t widely available in much of the world during the Congo crisis. She said the debate was likely a typical hypothetical premise that theologians bat around as part of their work. 

“This was a bunch of theologians debating the possibility [of providing nuns with contraception],” she said. “And all of it was happening under John XVIII, so it’s weird [Francis] invoked Pope Paul VI.”

In fairness, we’ll quote the last part of her statement:

“It’s possible the pope has accessed Vatican archives and knows something about Paul VI and the Belgian Congo that we don’t,” Kalbian said.

Yes, possible. Pope Francis just made a very controversial claim about his predecessor, a claim that would be slanderous if false. Where’s the evidence?

Kalbian’s historical analysis brings us to the final piece of the puzzle. A number of European nuns were raped in the Belgian Congo in 1960 during the violent turbulence of de-colonialization, though leftists have long dismissed this as anti-African propaganda. It is these rapes that were “studied” by the Jesuits. There was another eruption of violence during the so-called “Simba Rebellion” of 1964 that also tragically included attacks against Catholic nuns. If the story as reported by, say, Francis is true, and the period in question was during the pontificate of Paul VI, who became Pope in June of 1963, then the women religious would have had to have “gone on The Pill” at about this time.

That’s at least logically possible, of course. But consider also that The Pill was either unavailable or illegal in most Western countries during this period. It didn’t become available in Belgium until 1965, and contraceptive literature was essentially illegal in that country until the end of the decade. Though, women used it in growing numbers in the countries where it could be obtained, there was still much controversy about its safety and side-effects, among other things.

Was The Pill available at all in the Belgian Congo is, say 1964-65, let alone obtainable by Catholic nuns? Did their bishops smuggle it in?

It’s time to stand back and consider just how absurd and even obscene this whole bogus story is:

“Sisters, we’re about to send you into/back into a war zone. There’s a very good chance that you’ll be attacked by rebels. These rebels are quite bloodthirsty and violent. It’s very possible/probable that you’ll be raped. If on the off-chance you’re raped and not killed, then a really bad thing might happen–you might become with child. We can’t really provide extra guards or anything to prevent any of this. But what we can do is give you some medicine which we’ve obtained on the black market. Don’t worry, you might think it’s morally wrong, but a 1961 academic paper contradicts that. Also, whether or not there might be any side-effects or other health dangers, consider how awful it would be, not to be raped per se, but to have a baby as a result of that. Here, Sisters, have some contraceptives.”

The crisis in the Church continues.
Continue Reading

14

Pope Francis: Moratorium

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

 

Pope Francis has called for a year long moratorium on the death penalty:

 

 

Pope Francis, who has repeatedly called for an end to the death penalty, on Sunday proposed that Catholic leaders suspend the practice for a year to mark the Holy Year of Mercy.

“I make an appeal to the conscience of all rulers, so that we can achieve an international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty,” the Pope said in his Sunday address in St. Peter’s Square.

 

“And I propose to those among them who are Catholic to make a courageous and exemplary gesture: that no sentence is executed in this Holy Year of Mercy.”

The Pope launched the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 8. The church’s formal yearlong push for mercy and forgiveness is set to continue through November 20, when the feast of Christ the King will be celebrated. Continue Reading

6

George Washington and the Standing Miracle

Today is the 284th birthday of the Father of our Country, George Washington.  The above video from the musical 1776 depicts John Adams asking the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson, if he stands with Adams or the opponents of Independence.  Thomson responds that he stands with the General, George Washington.  Throughout 1776, Washington is an unseen presence but a powerful one.  As Congress considers the question of Independence, Washington’s messages to Congress paint a gloomy military picture.  Each member of Congress knows that if they declare Independence, only Washington and his ragtag army stand between them and a hangman’s noose.

Washington was always blunt, albeit respectful, in his messages to Congress.  It was his task to somehow hold together an army paid in worthless currency, dressed in rags, often barefoot, ill-fed and hastily trained.  For eight long years, while the American economy largely collapsed due to a blockade, he pulled endless rabbits out of his tri-corn hat to keep his army in being for yet another day.  He did this while respecting the civilian leadership of the new nation, a leadership that often seemed feckless and impotent.  He did this while confronting the mightiest empire in the world that controlled the seas and deployed a superb army.

At periods during the Revolution Washington led his army with a skill that excited the imagination of the world.  After the Trenton-Princeton campaign, Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and the foremost general of his day, wrote,  “The achievements of Washington and his little band of compatriots between the 25th of December and the 4th of January, a space of 10 days, were the most brilliant of any recorded in the annals of military achievements.”  I certainly agree with this and Washington fully earned the nicknames bestowed upon him by his British adversaries:  “the fox” and “the old fox”.  However, what excites my admiration most about Washington during the American Revolution was that he kept the Continental Army alive, and made it a formidable force.

In his farewell order to his victorious Continental Army George Washington wrote:

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverence of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle. Continue Reading

7

Risen: A Day Without Death

 

 

My bride and I saw the movie Risen in Kankakee, Illinois on Sunday at the Paramount Theater in downtown Kankakee.  The Paramount Theater is a well maintained movie palace that was built in 1931.  Sitting in its wide seats and viewing its art deco adornments, one is transported back to the Golden Age of Hollywood when attending movies was an event, and people did not expect to see films in cramped, one size fits all characterless shoeboxes.  By popular request, this review of the movie Risen will contain only minor spoilers, below the fold.  I highly recommend the film, and I thought that I would give the film some historical background that may enhance the enjoyment of viewers. Continue Reading

17

Future National Catholic Register Post: The Pope on Satan: Nine Things to Know and Share

satan_the_devil_painting_by_Michael_Pacher

 

 

November 15, 2016

 

A furor has arisen regarding the Pope’s comment in an interview in his flight back to Rome that “Satan got a raw deal from God.”  Here are nine things to know and share:

  1. It is possible that a mistranslation occurred.  The colloquial Italian phrase that the Pope used for raw deal can also be understood to mean “distasteful deal”.
  2. The Holy Father may have been speaking humorously.  When Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman was asked about this, he merely smiled, shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
  3. If the Pope was speaking seriously, perhaps he was intending to convey how Satan was looking at the situation.  Do not most sinners think they get a raw deal? Viewed from that vantage point, the Pope’s statement was correct, albeit incomplete.
  4. We must recall that this is the Year of Mercy and perhaps the Holy Father was attempting to say that God’s mercy extends even to Satan.
  5. The Vatican has denied that this statement constituted an all is forgiven message from the Pope to the Prince of Darkness
  6. This is not a reversal of the traditional teaching of the Church regarding Satan.  At most it is a minor development that the Pope may, or may not, expand upon.
  7. This statement was not made ex cathedra, but it must be treated with respect as Catholics must treat all statements of the Pope with respect.
  8. Islamic jihadists who are now calling Catholics devil worshipers are completely misinterpreting what the Pope said.
  9. I am not paid enough for doing this.

 

 

5

Von Galen Contra Gestapo

 

(I ran this series originally back in 2011.  I am rerunning it now, because the contemporary Church is greatly harmed by the unwillingness of so many clerics to confront evil forthrightly.  In this year of Mercy we must not forget the need to cry out for Justice, and that is precisely what the Lion of Munster did.)

 

 

In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine the first of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  In the summer of 1941 the Third Reich was at its zenith.  Operation Barbarossa had been launched, and the Soviets were reeling, with German armies advancing rapidly against a Red Army which appeared to be on the verge of dissolution.  In North Africa, the Desert Fox was besieging Tobruk and it seemed only a matter of time until Egypt might fall to him.  American still slumbered in an isolationist dream.  World domination by Nazi Germany seemed to be approaching reality.

At this point, when his Nazi foes were their strongest, on July 13, 1941, Bishop von Galen threw down his episcopal gauntlet to the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazis, who brutally terrorized Germany and occupied Europe:

 

My dear Catholics of St. Lambert’s:

 I have longed to read personally from the pulpit of this church today my pastoral letter on the events of the past week and in particular to express to you, my former parishioners, my deep-felt sympathy. In some part of the city, the devastation and loss have been particularly great. I hope that by the action of the municipal and government authorities responsible, and above all by your brotherly love and the collections taken today for the work of the Caritas Union and the Parish Caritas, some of the hardship and suffering will be relieved. I had in mind also, however, to add a brief word on the meaning of the divine visitation: how God thus seeks us in order to lead us home to Him. God wants to lead Münster home to Him.  How much at home were our forefathers with God and in God’s Holy Church! How thoroughly were their lives — their public life, their family life, and even their commercial life — supported by faith in God, directed by the holy fear of God and by the love of God! Has it always been like that in our own day? God wants to lead Münster home to Him!

Von Galen here is speaking about the devastation caused by British bombing raids.  Note his comments about the practical steps necessary to help the victims through special collections, and the overriding necessity of turning to God.

Concerning this I had meant to put some further reflections before you. But this I cannot do today, for I find myself compelled to openly and in public speak of something else — a shattering event which came upon us yesterday, at the end of this week of calamity.

What could be more important than the damage wreaked upon us by the enemy bombers I am certain was the thought that first occurred to many of von Galen’s listeners.  Continue Reading

9

John Adams: Washington’s Ten Talents

“The History of our Revolution will be one continued lye [sic] from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin’s electric rod smote the earth and out sprang General Washington. Then Franklin electrified him… and thence forward those two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislations, and War.” 

John Adams, letter to Benjamin Rush, 1790

John Adams was a very great man, but he could be somewhat petty at times.  This pettiness came to the fore when he considered that other men, particularly George Washington, would loom larger than him in the history of the American Revolution and its aftermath.  In a letter to Benjamin Rush on November 11, 1807, he remarked upon what he considered to be Washington’s ten great talents:

Self taught or Book learned in the Arts, our Hero was much indebted to his Talents for “his immense elevation above his Fellows.” Talents? you will say, what Talents? I answer.

1. An handsome Face. That this is a Talent, I can prove by the authority of a thousand Instances in all ages: and among the rest Madame Du Barry who said Le veritable Royaute est la Beaute.

2. A tall Stature, like the Hebrew Sovereign chosen because he was taller by the Head than the other Jews.

3 An elegant Form.

4. graceful Attitudes and Movement:

5. a large imposing Fortune consisting of a great landed Estate left him by his Father and Brother, besides a large Jointure with his Lady, and the Guardianship of the Heirs of the great Custis Estate, and in addition to all this, immense Tracts of Land of his own acquisition. There is nothing, except bloody Battles and Splendid Victories, to which Mankind bow down with more reverence than to great fortune. They think it impossible that rich Men especially immensely rich Men, Should Submit to the trouble of Serving them but from the most benevolent and disinterested Motives. . . . Such is their Love of the Marvellous, and Such their Admiration of uncommon Generosity that they will believe extraordinary pretensions to it and the Pope Says, Si bonus Populus vult decipi, decipiatur. Washington however did not deceive them. I know not that they gave him more credit for disinterestedness, than he deserved, though they have not given many others so much. Continue Reading

12

Palmetto Pitfight

Trump-Rubio-Cruz-AP-640x423

 

An early evening.  Trump wins with a third of the vote, which appears to be his ceiling.  Rubio and Cruz are battling for second place with each of them approximately at 20%.  A good night for Rubio in that he gets back into the top three.  A bad night for Cruz in that South Carolina was a state made for him to win, or at least be a close second.  Kasich and Bush are each at nine percent and Carson is at 6%.  Jeb Bush spent a huge amount of money in South Carolina.  Back in 2000 his brother won soundly against McCain after McCain won in New Hampshire, putting Bush in front for the nomination.  History did not repeat itself for the Bush family, South Carolina this time underlining that Jeb Bush has no chance for the nomination.  Jeb hates Trump and I expect him to drop out and endorse Rubio.  I expect that Carson will soon do the same.

On the Democrat side there are no results in South Carolina as the Democrats hold their primary next week.  In the Nevada caucuses, Clinton squeaks by with 52% of the vote.  The Republicans hold their caucus on February 23.

Bottom line:  a good night for Trump, a bad night for Cruz and perhaps a great night for Rubio if both Bush and Carson swiftly drop out and endorse him.  A meh night for Clinton as she remains locked in a tight battle with Sanders, and a good night for Sanders as he remains locked in a tight battle with Clinton.

 

Update:  Well that didn’t take long.  In his concession speech Jeb Bush just announced he is “suspending” his campaign.

8

PopeWatch: Teaching on a Jet Plane

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

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

 

 

Pope Francis gave a press conference on his flight back to Rome Thursday, declaring that all interviews given aboard a plane would henceforth be declared infallible.

“I , the Supreme Pontiff, intend to affirm that all statements made aboard this or any plane I am on will, from this day forward, be considered doctrine, which is to be held definitively for all the people of the Church,” Francis said after delivering a lengthy speech about how “absolutely epic” the street tacos were in Mexico. “Since being on a plane brings us close to 45,000 feet closer to heaven, all that I say will be put forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.”

Francis went on to say that, “when, henceforth, I make a pronouncement from the Seat of St. Peter, which will from now on be over in seat A3, every believer will be required to give firm and definitive assent to the truths I proclaim, including the kinda weird things, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium in the sky.”

“If anyone shall say that any dogmas proposed by me at such heights must be given a meaning different from that which I meant, let him not only be anathema, but also let him be made to open the emergency door and to jump. Thereafter, in a show of God’s mercy, we shall toss a parachute out, and let he that was made anathema try to chase it in the air like Special Agent Johnny Utah in Point Break when he jumps out of the plane without a parachute and has to chase down Bodhi so he can use his parachute.” Continue Reading

Yankee Doodle and The World Turned Upside Down

Something for the weekend.  Yankee Doodle, seems appropriate in the weekend before Washington’s Birthday.  Originally sung by British officers to disparage American troops who fought beside them in the French and Indian War, it was seized upon by Patriots, given endless lyrics, and cheered the patriot troops and civilians during the eight long years of the Revolution.  After Lexington and Concord it was reported by Massachusetts newspapers that the British were suddenly not as fond of the song:

“Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — ‘Dang them,’ returned he, ‘they made us dance it till we were tired’ — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears.”

At Yorktown when the British troops marched out in surrender, they looked at the French troops, doing their best to pretend that the American troops did not exist.  The Marquis de Lafayette, commanding the Continental Light Infantry Division, was outraged and ordered his bands to strike up Yankee Doodle.  Startled by the outburst of music the British turned and faced the Americans who had outlasted and defeated them in a very long War.  It was appropriate that the British bands were playing a popular ditty, The World Turned Upside Down. Continue Reading

9

Pope Francis Does Comedy

 

 

The Pope doesn’t get mixed up in Italian politics. At the first meeting I had with the (Italian) bishops in May 2013, one of the three things I said was: with the Italian government you’re on your own. Because the pope is for everybody and he can’t insert himself in the specific internal politics of a country. This is not the role of the pope, right?

       Pope Francis

 

Ah, Pope Francis, what a card!  Donald Trump’s toupe has fallen off, he is laughing so hard!

29

PopeWatch: Trump

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

Well, we now have a good idea what gets the Pope’s blood really flowing:

— Inserting himself into the Republican presidential race, Pope Francis on Wednesday suggested that Donald J. Trump “is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said when a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump on the papal airliner as he returned to Rome after his six-day visit to Mexico. Continue Reading

11

Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Adams

John-Adams-Quote-Religion-and-Morality

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue; and if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty. They will only exchange tyrants and tyrannies. You cannot, therefore, be more pleasantly or usefully employed than in the way of your profession, pulling down the strong-holds of Satan. This is not cant, but the real sentiment of my heart. Remember me with much respect to your worthy family and to all friends.

 

 

John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776

6

Of Walls and Glass Houses

vatican-city-map

And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.

Pope Francis, in response to a question about the immigration policy espoused by Donald Trump.

In light of the Pope’s above comments, perhaps US immigration policy needs to be reformed.  Maybe we should emulate the immigration policy of the Vatican State, which, presumably, must be Christian, even though it is a very strict immigration policy?

 

 

Under the new legal regimen, citizenship can be acquired by law (ex iure) or by administrative decision. Ex iure citizenship is granted to only three classes of persons: (a) the Cardinals resident in the Vatican City State or in Rome; (b) the Holy See’s diplomats; and (c) the persons who reside in Vatican City State by reason of their office or service. This last class includes the members of the Swiss Guard.

Pursuant to Law n. CXXXI, the acquisition of citizenship by administrative decision can only be requested in three situations: (a) by residents of the Vatican City State when they are authorized by reason of their office or service; (b) by the persons who have obtained papal authorization to reside in the State, independently of any other conditions; and (c) by the spouses and children of current citizens, who are also residents, of the Vatican City State.

Due to the special nature of the Vatican City State, the traditional factors utilized to acquire citizenship (ius sanguinis, ius loci, or ius soli) are not applicable and are not found in its regulations. In lieu of them, the Vatican City State has opted for other factors that are more appropriate for its structure and political organization. Continue Reading

13

PopeWatch: the Meaning of “Pro-life”

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

 

 

David Griffey at Daffey Thoughts notes the attempted hijacking by leftists under this pontificate of the pro-life label:

 

I’ve said before that Pope Francis appears to have a divisive way about him.  If it’s not intentional, that is how it comes across.  Though that’s not an automatic disqualifier.  After all, Jesus once said he came not to bring peace, but bring a sword.  So there you go. But I’ve sat back and tried to get my head around what is happening with the Francis Revolution and why, even though there is nothing new under the sun teaching-wise, and we should all be happy that everyone seems to be jumping on the Francis bandwagon, something still feels off about it.

Of course Francis devotees will point out it’s because I’m a ‘right wing partisan rad trad fundamentalist tribalist who probably trusts in guns rather than Jesus and secretly desires to increase the slaughter of innocents especially if they are swarthy darky types’.  Quite a sentence there.  But those are things I’ve seen written by defenders of Pope Francis.  I thought it would pack a punch to see them written out like that. 

Anyway, I still sit back and wonder why it doesn’t feel right.  Why, despite so many things that should be praiseworthy, it all feels, well, wrong.  Again, assuming for a minute that I’m not all those things Francis fans have accused me of.

And then I read this.  The whole point of the piece is that Francis has shaken up what it means to be pro-life.  Fair enough.  He certainly has done that.  But as I read the piece, I couldn’t help but notice something.  Basically it took the issue of abortion, conceded abortion is bad, and then set out to point out how conservatives and Republicans are the ones who don’t care about any of the other issues, who don’t care about the poor, the immigrant, the environment, and by extension are likely the main causes of abortion in the first place.  Their policies are what have brought about the problems that cause abortion and therefore they’re the baddies. 

And that’s when it hit me.  When it comes to this ‘pro-life’ shake up, I notice that Pope Francis doesn’t  give clear ideas about how to solve these problems he is pushing into the spotlight, such as helping the environment, immigration, gun control or poverty.  He says there are problems.  The Church has always said there are problems.  But it’s been understood that we can argue over how to solve them and still be in good faith.  Certain things like gay sex, adultery, abortion – they were not open for debate.  How to help the economy was open to debate. What is going on with the environment was for scientific minds to banter about.  You could decide one idea was better than another, but at the end of the day it didn’t make you a bad Catholic.

And yet I’ve noticed that those who have struggled for years to resist tradition, conservatism and the historic roots of how we practice and understand our faith suddenly have rushed into the void created by no real Papal endorsement of actual solutions and slapped on their template devised by liberal Democrats and European secular Democratic Socialists.  They’ve taken their proposals, their plans, their solutions, their opinions and slid them under the papal pronouncements as the only logical approach to all of these issues, as if they alone can solve the problems and without these, you can’t care about the poor or the environment.

Since Pope Francis, like most popes, doesn’t say ‘Immigration is a pro-life issue, and this is the exact bill and solution I propose’, he has allowed everyone who rejects traditional ideas or conservative viewpoints to rush in, slap their ideas, policies, bills, proposals and beliefs onto the issues and then insist that anyone who doesn’t agree is resisting the Pope’s call to care about Immigration.  Those who reject the liberal Democratic understanding of the Immigration problem are automatically at fault, don’t care about Immigrants, are likely racists, and on and on.  And if it means we join the non-Catholic Left by suggesting that only now, under Pope Francis, do Catholics and the Catholic Church finally care about the poor, the environment, gun violence, immigration or justice in the first place, so be it.  That’s just part of the post-modern pie: We’re the first generation who will finally set it right.

So that’s it I think.  The fact that Pope Francis makes it clear there are a whole host of issues beyond sexuality and abortion – no matter the body count in the wake of those issues – that are important, mixed with the typical papal reluctance to endorse actual solutions, has allowed those who have chomped at the bit to rework and reimagine the Church the chance they were waiting for to seize the debate and make it their own.  You can’t just say you care about the poor, but don’t follow ideas such as Democratic Socialism or Liberal Democratic financial proposals. Because if you try, then it just shows you are no longer a good Catholic who listens to the Pope and trusts Jesus. Continue Reading

3

Presidential Assassins: Loser

A trifle over 62 years separated the assassination of William McKinley and that of John F. Kennedy.  The American people had grown perhaps complacent in the thought that presidential assassinations were a thing of the past, although Giuseppe Zangara could easily have assassinated President-Elect Roosevelt instead of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak in 1933, and Puerto Rican terrorists came perilously close to assassinating Harry Truman in 1950.  Nevertheless, the assassination of John F. Kennedy hit America hard.

Back in 1963 I was in second grade, but I was not in school.  Sick with pneumonia, my mother had taken me to the doctor and he had prescribed penicillin.  After getting my prescription filled my mother took me home.  She turned on our television set and I planted myself on the couch to watch it.  As we watched television we saw the initial news flashes that President Kennedy had been shot.  This was on a Friday, and the remainder of that day and the weekend, my mother, father and I and my brother practically lived in front of the television set, riveted by the around the clock coverage, something unprecedented in this country before that dreadful day.

Conspiracy theories have flourished almost before Kennedy’s corpse was cold, a great many people unwilling to accept that a frustrated loser like Lee Harvey Oswald could have been the assassin of Kennedy. Continue Reading

4

Deeply Offensive

And warranting removing an author from the publication schedule.

A scifi author’s idea.

What was it? Some sort of high detail Soylent Green thing? Maybe bestiality or executing anyone who gets sick?

Nope. Here’s the author’s own words:

I didn’t want to do the same old same superior-vision-Matrix/Termintor-style-A.I.-hates-humanity-because-they’re-better-than-us schlock. I wanted to give the Thinking Machines a very real reason for wanting to survive. I didn’t want them just to be another one note Hollywood villain. I wanted the readers to empathize, as best they could, with our future Robot overlords because these Thinking Machines were about to destroy the planet and they needed a valid, if there can be one, reason why they would do such a thing. In other words, they needed a to destroy us in order to survive. So…

These Thinking Machines are watching every show streaming on the internet. One of those shows is a trainwreck of reality television at its worst called WeddingStar. It’s a crass and gaudy romp about BrideZillas of a future obsessed with material hedonism. In one key episode, or what they used to call “a very special episode” back in the eighties, the star, Cavanaugh, becomes pregnant after a Vegas hook up. Remember: this is the most watched show on the planet in my future dystopia. Cavanaugh decides to terminate her unplanned pregnancy so that her life, and impending marriage to the other star, Destry, a startup millionaire and Ralph Lauren model, isn’t ruined by this inconvenient event.

The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for “life”) then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed “inconvenient.”

Now if you’re thinking my novel is about the Pro Choice/ Pro Life debate, hold your horses. It’s not. I merely needed a reason, a one chapter reason, to justify the things my antagonist is about to do to the world without just making him a one-note 80’s action flick villain as voiced by John Lithgow. I wanted this villain to be Alan Rickman-deep. One chapter. That’s all. The rest of the book is about the robots’ assault on a Game Development Complex that holds a dirty little secret to wiping out humanity.

So, the homicidal villains draw a conclusion from a convenience abortion as a justification to think that humans might be a threat to themselves, and it’s socially unacceptable as well as deeply offensive.

Guess the reasoning struck a little close to home.

h/t Shadowdancer.

20

PopeWatch: Viva Christo Rey!

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa describes how when it comes to the Faith, Mexico is in better shape than most of Latin America:

ROME, February 15, 2016 – The Mexico that Pope Francis is visiting is an atypical case compared with other countries of Latin America.

In absolute numbers it hosts the second-largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, and is surpassed only by Paraguay in the proportion of Catholics in the overall population: 81 percent.

It is precisely this ample and above all solid presence of Catholics that distinguishes Mexico with respect to other Latin American countries. For at least two reasons.

The first is its resistance to the expansion of Protestant communities of a Charismatic and Pentecostalist stamp, which are instead running rampant in other countries, especially in Brazil and in Central America.

In Brazil Catholics, who a few decades ago were almost the totality of the population, have now been reduced to 61 percent.

While in Honduras they are now less than half, 46 percent, and in Guatemala, in El Salvador, in Nicaragua are around 50 percent.

In Mexico, the erosion of Catholicism by the activity of these sects is seen almost exclusively in the region on the border with Guatemala, Chiapas, which is one of the stops on the journey of Pope Francis.

*

The second threshold of resistance for Mexican Catholicism instead has to do with the challenge of secularization.

Not so much with secularization as a cultural phenomenon, which assails all the countries of Latin America equally, but that which is imposed systematically – and at times violently – on the terrain of politics.

Uruguay is the country in which the Catholic Church has suffered most from the effects of the long-term domination of a political class and a bourgeoisie that is strongly anticlerical and Masonic. In fact, in Latin America today it is the one with the lowest proportion of Catholics, 42 percent, and the highest percentage of agnostics.

While in Mexico, on the contrary, Catholics are still twice as numerous, in spite of the fact that the anticlerical and Masonic offensive in this country has been much more strong, prolonged, ruthless.

The acme of this offensive was reached in the 1920’s during the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles, with a genuine attempt to annihilate the Church, to which numerous Catholics of every walk of life reacted with an armed insurrection, under the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe and to the cry of “¡Viva Cristo Rey!”, which brought them the title of “Cristeros” and their insurrection the name of “Cristiada.”

The “Cristiada” also had its child martyr, José Sanchez del Rio, a very young combatant and witness of the faith, called “Tarcisius” by his fellow fighters, after the young Roman who was martyred for defending the consecrated host. Captured by government troops in 1928, when he was 14 years old, he was tortured and killed for his undaunted refusal to betray his comrades, and died murmuring: “Viva Cristo Re, viva la Madonna di Guadalupe.” Continue Reading

2

Presidential Assassins: The True Believer

The late 19th century witnessed a wave of anarchist assassinations and attempted assassinations as the turbulent 19th century waned into an even more turbulent 20th century.

Among the victims of these actions were a Prime Minister of Spain on August 8, 1897, the Empress of Austria-Hungary on September 18, 1898 and the King of Italy on July 29, 1900. A terrifying aspect of these murders: they were the actions of loan wolf assassins, inspired by anarchist writings, but not members of organized conspiracies. Security services around the globe were puzzled as to how to combat a group that eschewed organized plotting and celebrated individual violent acts.

If William McKinley was concerned about the prospect of assassination he left no hint of it. Of course he left virtually no personal correspondence in which he expressed his views on any public matters. One of the more enigmatic men to ever be president, McKinley was largely a mystery even to men he had known for decades. Close mouthed, McKinley rarely expressed himself on any issue unless he had to, and always after a period of careful consideration.

Rising from Private to Brevet Major during the Civil War, McKinley began his ascent in politics by defending, pro bono, striking workers accused of rioting, obtaining acquittals for all but one of his clients and becoming a Republican who could gain blue collar votes. McKinley served a long political apprenticeship before becoming President: prosecuting attorney, Congress, Governor of Ohio, sometimes meeting with defeat in the politically divided Ohio. When he ran for President in 1896, he won one of the great political victories in American history, establishing Republican political dominance that would endure until 1932. His victory in 1900 was even greater, the GOP winning all but four states outside of the solid South.

His personal life was marked by tragedy. He and his wife had two daughters, one who died in infancy and the other before her fourth birthday. McKinley’s wife, suffering from epilepsy and deep depression, became a semi-invalid, McKinley devoting himself to her care for the rest of his life.

Theodore Roosevelt, the reluctant Vice-President of McKinley, assumed that he would have so little to occupy his time, that he planned on attending law school during his term in office.
Another man who did not have enough to do was Leon Frank Czolgosz. Born to immigrants from Belarus in Detroit in 1873, he worked at the Cleveland Rolling Mill until the Panic of 1893. With economic hard times, Czolgosz became interested in socialism and anarchism. In 1898 he went to live with his father on a 55 acre farm near Warrensville, Ohio that his father had purchased. He came into conflict with his father due to his loafing and his rejection of the fervent Catholicism of his father. Inspired by the assassination of King Umberto on July 29, 1901, he decided, in the cause of anarchism, to assassinate President McKinley. Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Swiss Meltdown

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

This is interesting and intriguing:

 

 

Swiss Catholics – or at least, the progressive fringe of Swiss German-speaking Catholics – are angry at the recent nomination of a new papal nuncio to Bern, and they are making themselves heard. In an open letter to the new ambassador of the Holy See, the canon and co-dean of Bern, Fr. Christian Schaller, hoped that Archbishop Thomas Gullickson would show enough “sensitivity in order to perceive the realities of the Church in Switzerland” and accused him of “pastoral imprudence” in proposing to shut down parishes without priests. Behind a pleasant appeal to a “meeting” and an end to mutual “prejudice” lurks a condemnation of Archbishop Gullickson’s purported preference for the traditional teachings of the Church, especially in the moral sphere.

The letter was the last in a series of critical moves against the American nuncio whose previous post, in Ukraine, had put him in touch with starker realities.

A group of lay Catholic “reformers” formed an alliance called “Enough!” in the wake of articles in the Swiss media in January portraying Gullickson’s latest actions proving that he is an “anti-liberal.” Things got even worse from their point of view last week, when he retweeted an article in which Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru, called UN bureaucrats promoting the legalization of abortion because of the Zika virus scare “Herods in suits and ties.” Gullickson has never hidden his preference for reverent liturgy, the Latin Mass, and other signs of traditionalism that have led his Swiss detractors to accuse him of being a follower of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.

The twelve Catholic groups forming the alliance claim to be working for a “liberating and inclusive Church.” Late last month, “Enough!” wrote an open letter to the president of the Swiss Federal Council, Johann Schneider-Ammann, asking him to intervene in order to obtain Archbichop Gullickson’s revocation, accusing him of “hate speech” and of constituting a menace for the unity of the Swiss Church. Continue Reading

1

Presidential Assassins: The Failure

James Garfield, the second president to die at the hands of an assassin, in one way resembled Lincoln.  Like Lincoln he rose from poverty.  Unlike Lincoln he was college educated, enjoyed swift political success, and had an extensive military record, rising to Major General during the Civil War.  Also unlike Lincoln he had little time in office, being shot on July 2, 1881, during his first year in office.  He lingered in ever increasing pain until September 19, 1881.  He doubtless would have survived if modern medicine had been available.  He died as a result of a massive infection caused perhaps by the unsuccessful efforts of his doctors to probe his wound with unsterilized instruments and fingers in a fruitless effort to find the assassin’s bullet which had lodged in his abdomen.  His weight also plunged, intravenous nourishment being more than eighty years in the future.

No doubt it irritated, to say the least, Garfield when he learned that his assassin was a disappointed office seeker.

Born in 1841, Charles Julius Guiteau had failed at everything he turned his hand to: college, member of a commune, newspaper publisher, law, theology and marriage.  With such a record of failure it was inevitable that he would turn to politics.  Supporting Garfield in the 1880 election, he wrote a speech in favor of Garfield that may have been delivered twice.  When Garfield was elected, Guiteau convinced himself that he was responsible for electing Garfield.  Along with hordes of other office seekers he went to Washington where he unsuccessfully requested that he be named consul in Paris although he could not speak French and had no diplomatic experience.

Outraged, Guiteau purchased a revolver and stalked the President, finally ambushing him as he was entering the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station.  After shooting Garfield Guiteau shouted,

“I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. … [Chester A.] Arthur is president now!”  The reference was to the Stalwart faction of the New York Republican Party that opposed Civil Service reform that Garfield supported.   Guiteau was convinced that this reform prevented him from getting the job he sought.  Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service reform act in 1883, Guiteau having made opposition to such reform politically impossible, and converted Arthur to the cause of reform. Continue Reading

6

Celebrating the Faith of Scalia on Patheos

 

 

Sister Theresa Aletheia  Noble at her Patheos blog site put up a post entitled Justin Antonin Scalia and the Foolishness of Christianity in which she recalled a speech by Scalia that she had attended prior to entering the religious life.  It is a very good post:

 

Scalia then went on to discuss the roots of this scorn for deep faith, even in the United States, a country that is widely considered to be deeply Christian from its very beginning. But Scalia pointed out that even among our Founding Fathers, this scorn for anything without sound rational basis (in their opinion) was evident.

Thomas Jefferson, a son of the Enlightenment, once revised the Gospels to “remove the gold from the dross.” Jefferson was convinced that the Gospels had some worthy information and some information that was added later by his “superstitious biographers.” Jefferson’s version of the life of Jesus removed the miracles, included some of Jesus’ ethical teachings, and then ended abruptly with Jesus’ death and the stone rolling over the tomb.

Scalia then went on to talk about a more modern example of the blindness of a rationalism gone too far. A priest near his home in DC was discovered to have the stigmata and statues would weep when he was near them. A Washington Post reporter witnessed the statue weeping and could only say, “There’s has to be a trick here.” Scalia asked the crowded room why non-believers don’t flock to places like this to verify for themselves. The answer is obvious he said, “The wise do not investigate such silliness.”

The wise do not investigate such things as the Resurrection or miracles because they believe they are informed enough about the world to know that such things are impossible. Therefore, they assume that people who actually believe in miracles are foolish and peasant-like. But they base their beliefs, not on investigation, but on flat out rejection of the possibility.

I can certainly relate to this arrogance. When I was an atheist, I disdained Christianity and believed that Christians were ignorant because their views did not fit in with my world view. This type of thinking is rampant in our society and is only too evident with discussion regarding such things as the Catholic view of contraception or Christian beliefs regarding marriage. The point of view of the wise is that only bigoted idiots would believe the things we believe. There can be no other explanation in the minds of the worldly wise. Our point of view is not even thought of as rational enough to be considered.

Scalia ended his talk by considering St. Thomas More, a man who died to defend a corrupt Church and papacy, and considered by many, including his wife, to be a fool for accepting martyrdom. More gave his life because he refused to sign an oath that disparaged the pope and Henry VII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Scalia pointed out that Pope Clement XII, the pope during the time of More, was not one of the most reputable popes in history. And yet, More saw beyond the current circumstances and believed in the permanence of the Church that Jesus established. Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: From Russia With Love

PopeWatch2-199x300

 

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa comments on the meeting between the Pope and the Russian Patriarch:

 
ROME, February 12, 2016 – The meeting with Russian patriarch Kirill at the Havana airport is a perfect snapshot of the geopolitics of Pope Francis. He dodges obstacles instead of confronting them. He puts the priority and urgency on person-to-person contact, as in a field hospital, where no one waits for the war to end first.

In Ukraine, in the Middle East, there is real war, and with Russia as lead actor. But for Francis the embrace with the patriarch of Moscow is worth more, as a sign of peace, than standing with the Catholic populations of those regions.

The case of Ukraine is exemplary. The Russian Orthodox Church has its birthplace there, but it also feels besieged by the millions of Eastern-rite faithful who have passed under obedience to Rome, the “uniates,” as they disparagingly call them. While in return the Byzantine-rite Catholics now see the Russian Orthodox as their enemy and invader.

So then, Francis has always done all he could not to annoy the patriarchate of Moscow and the imperial politics of Vladimir Putin, even at the cost of sowing the strongest disappointment among the bishops, clergy, and faithful of the Catholic Church in the region.

He has called “fratricidal war,” on both sides, a conflict that for Ukrainian Catholics is pure aggression on the part of Russia. And he readily agreed with Kirill’s proposal of a meeting neither in the East nor in the West, but in Cuba, defined as “neutral” ground.

Which in reality has nothing neutral or free about it. Where the prison population, in which political prisoners abound, “is among the most numerous in the world,” according to the latest estimates of the bishop of Pinar del Rio, who is responsible for their pastoral care. From which they continue to flee by the thousands, crossing Central American to the United States, unless they are stopped at the border of pro-Castro Nicaragua.

When pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio went to Cuba last September, he did not perform even one of the many gestures of “mercy” that he sows all over. Not one word for the thousands of refugees swallowed up by the sea. No request for the release of political prisoners. No show of kindness for their mothers, wives, sisters, arrested by the dozen during those same days.

We now know that the meeting with Kirill in Cuba was already on the agenda of both back then, as well as being on that of Raúl Castro and of Putin himself.

In the joint declaration signed by Francis and Kirill at the Havana airport, every theological dispute is set aside, while at the forefront is their shared suffering over the Christian victims, both Orthodox and Catholic, in Syria and in the whole Middle East.

Here as well the geopolitics of Francis excels more in passion than in rational calculation. There was a stir over the day of prayer and fasting proclaimed by the pope in September of 2013 to avert any Western military operation in Syria. Putin exulted over Barack Obama’s refusal to topple the Shiite regime in Damascus, and the Christian Churches in Syria breathed a sigh of relief as well, having in the despot Assad a self-interested protector.

But when the Islamic State then spread out with slaughter in its wake, and the bishops of Iraq and Kurdistan called for Western military intervention on the ground, Francis turned a deaf ear to them.

Today the Holy See’s position on the chessboard of the Middle East is not neutral, but decidedly biased. And it is all the more so since Putin, declining to strike the Islamic State, has reinforced his leadership role with the pro-Assad Shiite front, in what large segments of the Russian Orthodox Church are calling a “holy war.”

In effect, Vatican diplomacy gets along much better with the dominant Shiite axis of Iran, especially after the nuclear agreement, than with the Sunni world, the main leadership center of which, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, broke off relations with Rome five years ago.

The Russian bombs falling on an Aleppo surrounded by the Shiite troops of Iran, Lebanon, and Assad, with the desperate flight of Sunni civilians, are blessed by the patriarchate of Moscow so dear to the bishop of Rome. Continue Reading

4

Presidential Assassins: Born Under an Unlucky Star

Hattip for the above video to commenter Greg Mockeridge.

I have never liked Presidents’ Day. Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln? However, most presidents, for good and ill, have shaped the story of America.

To say that presidents have had a large impact on our history is to merely recite a truism. Presidential assassins, regrettably, have also had a large impact on our history.

On this President’s day we will look at the murderer of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth. The rest of the week we will look at other successful assasins of presidents.

On July 4, 1835 Junius Brutus Booth, founder of the Booth theatrical family, sat down and penned a letter to President Andrew Jackson. Booth and Jackson knew each other and were friends, which makes the letter quite odd indeed. The text of the letter:

To His Excellency, General Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, Washington City,

You damn’d old Scoundrel if you don’t sign the pardon of your fellow men now under sentence of Death, De Ruiz and De Soto, I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping. I wrote to you repeated Cautions so look out or damn you. I’ll have you burnt at the Stake in the City of Washington.

Your Master, Junius Brutus Booth.

You know me! Look out!

Booth was one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day, and he often gave unforgettable performances. However, he was often noted for his off stage escapades, usually fueled by copious amounts of alcohol. I have little doubt that when he penned this missive Booth was quite drunk. De Ruiz and De Soto had been convicted of piracy. Many Americans had asked for clemency for the men. De Soto did receive a Presidential pardon on July 6, 1835 after an interview with De Soto’s wife and defense attorney with Jackson. In 1832 De Soto had saved the lives of 70 Americans aboard the burning ship Minerva in 1831 and that made him a sympathetic figure to the American public and Jackson. De Ruiz and the other men convicted of piracy were hung. Go here for the details of the piracy trial.

And what happened to Booth? Nothing apparently. I assume that Jackson probably laughed off the letter, assuming that his friend was drunk when he wrote it, and in any case threatening to assassinate the president was not a crime in 1835. One fervently wishes that Booth’s son, John Wilkes Booth had merely written a letter threatening to assassinate Lincoln. Continue Reading