Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 26 years. Small town lawyer. President of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center.

Florence Foster Jenkins

 

One of the more curious cultural artifacts in the history of this country is the very odd musical career of Florence Foster Jenkins.  A rich heiress, she loved music.  She was a talented pianist in her youth but stopped taking lessons when she married in 1885 at age 18 Dr. Frank Thornton Jenkins.  The marriage was a rocky one, characterized by her contracting syphilis from him.  They parted after three years.  He passed away in 1917, but she retained her married name for the remainder of her life.  Moving to New York with her mother in 1900, she founded the Verdi Club in 1917, to share her love of music.  It was through this venue that she embarked upon her career as a singer, giving recitals to small groups of fans, with musical critics carefully excluded.  Jenkins was convinced she was a great singer.  In truth she was an an appallingly bad singer, with virtually no sense of rhythm or pitch.  She was a generous patron of various causes, most of them musical, and her audiences treated her with kindness, any titters being drowned by applause.

She would be forgotten today but for a memorable concert she gave for charity at Carnegie Hall on October 25, 1944.  The tickets for the event sold out immediately and about 2000 people were turned away the night of the performance.  Ticket prices were $20.00, the equivalent of $274.00 today.  (Privates in the US Army, with combat pay, earned $50.00 per month in 1944.)  Many celebrities attended.  As in her past outings, her fans covered over laughter during her performance with applause.  Alas music critics were among the crowd and their reviews were scathing.  She passed away a month and a day later of a heart attack.  She had been crushed by the bad reviews but, considering that she was in the tertiary stages of syphilis her death may well have had nothing to do with her reaction to the reviews.

Remarkably, in the past two years there have been two films about Jenkins, one in French and the other in English, Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep in the title role.  I saw this film last Saturday with my family and the Godmother of my children and my review is below the fold.  The usual caveat as to spoilers is in full effect. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Separated at Birth

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PopeWatch is glad that he is not the only one who has noticed similarities between The Donald and The Pope:

 

From one of the Maureen Mullarkey’s correspondents:

 

Catholics should be quite at home in a Trump administration. We’ve been living under the same style of communication during this entire pontificate — absurd unscripted remark, inevitable walk back by the press office hacks, and a contradiction by the public figure the following week. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pizza and a Swim

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Ah, but are they getting anchovies on their pizza?

 

This summer, Pope Francis is treating dozens of homeless people to a day at the beach and dinner in a local pizzeria on the way back.

The Vatican Almoner, or the Pope’s almsgiver, Polish archbishop Konrad Krajewski, told La Stampa daily that, with the help of the Swiss Guards, Apb. Krajewski drives a van with 10 people to a beach near Rome for a dip in the sea, sunbathing and then pizza. Continue reading

Cajun Navy

 

The national news media seems strangely indifferent to the current Louisiana flooding in comparison to their non-stop coverage of Katrina during the Bush administration.  Be that as it may, a great many people are in a great deal of need in the Pelican State.  In the comboxes please link to worthwhile relief organizations through which funds may be contributed to help out.  While we send material aid lets also remember them in our prayers:

 
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Holy Mother we ask that you pray to God to strengthen our brothers and sisters afflicted by the floods in Louisiana.  May He grant them grace, lighten their burdens and gladden their hearts.  May He inspire Christians to lend a helping hand to His children in Louisiana in their distress.  Our Lady of Prompt Succor, let the World see why we look to you as our Mother, Guide and Protectress.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen

 

Evil Weevils

 

The choices this year are appalling for President, but this election is fascinating.  The LA Times Tracking Poll which showed Clinton breaking away now has Clinton leading by one point.  Go here to view it.  You see the cycles in this race clearly enough from their chart of the race.  I hypothesize that when one candidate starts to rise they reach a point where the public begins to be alarmed and then the other candidate goes back up.  Lesser of two evils is a cliché, but it is very much the choice in this year of grace.

PopeWatch: Signs and Portents

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A Marian appearance in the Pope’s native Argentina has been approved:

 

Motta began seeing the apparitions after she saw rosaries glowing in homes throughout San Nicolas de los Arroyos. She began to pray to the Virgin Mary, who subsequently appeared to her carrying the infant Jesus and wearing a blue gown and veil.

Since 1983, Motta says she has received more than 1,800 visitations from Mary and another 68 from Jesus. Miraculous healings and glowing rosaries have been attributed to them.

In May, the bishop of San Nicolas, Bishop Hector Cardelli, declared that Motta’s visions were of a “supernatural character” and he said he believed the messages had been sent by God.

That was a possible first step toward elevating Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas to a major place of pilgrimage on a par with famous Marian shrines like Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal or Guadalupe in Mexico.

“So we have an apparition where we have a living visionary, who’s approved as authentic by the bishops,” Michael O’Neil, who runs the website MiracleHunter.com,told Catholic News Agency. “Usually they wait until the messages end or the visionary dies, but in this particular case they decided to go ahead with the approval.”

In an interview in the sacristy of the shrine, Cardelli, who became bishop in 2004, said the confirmation that Motta’s visions were worthy of belief was arrived at after psychiatric tests that ensured that she was of sound mind, as well as extensive research and consultations with other clergy and experts.

“The quality, richness of and exquisite content of the messages, and what they produced in terms of conversions, life changes, and healings cannot be the result of mere human action,” Cardelli told RNS.

Cardelli said he spoke about the apparitions with Pope Francis back when the Argentine pontiff was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, and the future pope approved of his confirming them.

Aside from wanting a shrine built to her in San Nicolas, the Virgin Mother’s messages – according to Motta – urged renewed faith and frequently lamented the current state of the world.

In another sign that the church accepts Motta’s visions, the diocese last year began publishing messages including many that hadn’t been made public previously.

“This mother continues to endure pain,” says one of the messages. “Pain because humanity is headed for ruin; pain from seeing so much hatred in the world; pain from so much war; pain from such great atheism, pain because men are not allowed to bring the Lord into their hearts.”

Continue reading

Trump Speech in Wisconsin: Law and Order

 

 

Continuing on with my task of doing what the mainstream media is failing to do this year, allowing the message of both candidates to reach the voters, Trump gave a speech last night in Wisconsin with his focus on law and order, and how the status quo fails inner city blacks.  Here is the text of his speech:

 

We are at a decisive moment in this election.

Last week, I laid out my plan to bring jobs back to our country. Yesterday, I laid out my plan to defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism. Tonight, I am going to talk about how to make our communities safe again from crime and lawlessness.

Let me begin by thanking the law enforcement officers here in this city, and across this country, for their service and sacrifice in difficult times.

The violence, riots and destruction that have taken place in Milwaukee is an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and peace.

The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods. It is their jobs, their homes, their schools and communities which will suffer as a result.

There is no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct. Crime and violence is an attack on the poor, and will never be accepted in a Trump Administration.

The narrative that has been pushed aggressively for years now by our current Administration, and pushed by my opponent Hillary Clinton, is a false one. The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.

More law enforcement, more community engagement, more effective policing is what our country needs.

Just like Hillary Clinton is against the miners, she is against the police. You know it, and I know it. Continue reading

Welcome Canon 212!

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Canon 212

§1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

 

There is a new Catholic Aggregator site in Saint Blog’s and I like the cut of their jib.  Go here to take a look at the site.  I have added it to my favorites and I would encourage you to do the same.

Trump Foreign Policy Speech

Since most of the media has decided to view Donald Trump as a public enemy rather than as a candidate for President, I have decided to post his foreign policy speech from yesterday so our readers can have access to his address.  Below is the text of the speech.  As readers of this blog know, I do not support Trump, but the attitude of the media towards him, as opposed to their attitude towards Hillary Clinton, I find nauseating.  Trump deserves to have the substance of his remarks conveyed to the American people so they can make up their own minds, and that is simply not happening in this election where the media is acting as unpaid press agents for Clinton.  The media has always been biased against Republicans during my lifetime, but in this election no attempt is being made to even conceal it.  The people deserve better.  Here is the text of Trump’s remarks. Continue reading

Why the Milwaukee Riots

 

Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County explains it all:

 

The Milwaukee riots should be the last time the policies of liberal Democrats are held up as anything other than misery-inducing, divisive, exploitative and racist manipulation of the urban populations. Unfortunately they won’t.

As Sheriff of Milwaukee County, I am furious that the progressive left has put my citizens in harm’s way and that I had to send my officers into cauldrons of anarchy and hatred that were created by the left.

As an elected public servant I am livid that Milwaukee’s pathetic, kowtowing city officials and aldermen take this opportunity to abandon their citizens and preen before the Black Lives Matter-enabling media.

As a leader who understands that freedom and earned success are the pathways out of the ghetto, I’m disappointed, too, in any Republican that feels they need to tiptoe around the patently obvious issue at-hand: we are folding our society of freedom ensured through law-and- order over to bullies of the left. The politicians and talking heads on both sides of the aisle who offer little resistance and total cowardice.

The failed progressive urban policy causes anger and resentment in people that simmers below the surface. The officer-involved-shooting was simply a catalyst that ignited the already volatile mixture of inescapable poverty, failing K-12 public schools, dysfunctional lifestyle choices like father absent homes, gang involvement, drug/alcohol abuse and massive unemployment.

Here are the facts: Milwaukee is run by progressive Democrats. Their decades-long Democrat regime has done nothing to reduce these urban pathologies, in fact, their strategies have exacerbated the situation by expanding the welfare state.

That things have not improved and in fact worsened in the American ghetto after eight years of Barack Obama is remarkable only to those who have not been paying attention to our nation’s cities.

There’s only one answer, which is for the citizens of America to expose and heap scorn on this lying and dangerous triad of big government, liberal mainstream media, and the lost souls of the urban ghettos both these institutions feed upon for their power. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Apology

 

 

 

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The Pope has issued a strange apology:

 

Last Friday, when Francis visited a Rome center for women rescued from prostitution rackets, he delivered an apology for one of these issues through both deeds and words, asking forgiveness from the women there, in the name of Christianity, for the suffering they’ve endured.

Although the Vatican didn’t give much information regarding the visit – it usually never does, when these encounters are considered private –  Italian Father Aldo Bonaiuto, spiritual director of the Pope John XXIII Community Francis visited, spoke to Vatican Radio about it.

“[Francis] used very beautiful, yet very strong words: he asked for forgiveness in the name of all Christians for the violence and all the wrong-doings these girls had to suffer through,” Bonaiuto quotes the pope saying.

In the last three years, the Argentine pontiff has been one of the most outspoken global leaders on the matter of human trafficking, an illegal industry which affects more than 40 million people who are forced to work in slave-like conditions.

Francis has repeatedly called it “a crime against humanity.” Continue reading

August 16, 1780: Battle of Camden

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“But was there ever an instance of a General running away as Gates has done from his whole army? And was there ever so precipitous a flight?  One hundred and eighty miles in three days and a half.  It does admirable credit to the activity of a man at his time of life.”

Colonel Alexander Hamilton’s comment after the battle of Camden

 

 

 

 

 

The battle of Camden, August 16, 1780, was a humiliating defeat for the Americans.  Led by General Horatio Gates, a former British officer, 3700 Americans, more than half of them militia, were defeated by 1500 British regulars and 600 Loyalist militia.  900 Americans were killed and wounded, and a thousand Americans captured, compared to a British loss of 68 killed and 250 wounded.  Most of the American militia ran at the opening of the battle and Gates fled with them, riding his horse 60 miles to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Gates, thankfully, was never given a field command again.  His blundering had thrown away the only major American regular military force remaining in the South.  It was a disaster for the Americans and a humiliating one.

The one bright spot in this fiasco was the heroism of General Johann de Kalb and the Maryland and Delaware Continentals he led.  Born in 1721 into a family of peasants, de Kalb managed the incredible feat in Eighteenth Century Old Regime France of rising due to sheer ability to the rank of Brigadier General and entered the ranks of the nobility as a baron.  He first became familiar with America in 1768:  serving as a French spy he traveled throughout the colonies to determine the level of dissatisfaction of the colonists with British rule.  He grew to sympathize with the Americans.  He came back to America with Lafayette in 1777, becoming a Continental Major General.

After Gates and the militia fled, de Kalb and his 800 Continentals fought ferociously against the entire British Army, making charge after charge, with de Kalb at the head shouting, “To me, my Continentals!”  His Continentals were defeated only after de Kalb fell with 11 wounds.  General Cornwallis, commander of the British forces at Camden, had his personal surgeon treat his brave adversary.  De Kalb died three days later.  To a British officer who offered his sympathy, de Kalb gave a ringing reply that should be remembered by every American:  “I thank you sir for your generous sympathy, but I die the death I always prayed for: the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.”  The towns and counties named DeKalb throughout the United States are a tribute to a very brave man and able soldier who died for his adopted country.

Here is the report of Cornwallis on his victory:

Cornwallis, Charles, the Earl
1780 Letter from Charles, the Earl, Cornwallis to Lord George
Germain, dated 21 August 1780.
My Lord:
It is with great pleasure that I communicate to Your Lordship an Account of a Compleat Victory obtained on the 16th Inst., by His Majesty’s Troops under my command, over the Rebel
Southern Army, Commanded by General Gates.

In my Dispatch, No. 1, I had the honour to inform Your Lordship that while at Charlestown I was regularly acquainted by Lord Rawdon with every Material incident or Movement made by the
Enemy, or by the Troops under His Lordship’s command. On the 9th Inst. two Expresses arrived with an account that Genl. Gates was advancing towards Lynche’s Creek with his whole Army, supposed to amount to 6,000 men, exclusive of a Detachment of 1,000 Men under Genl. Sumpter, who, after having in vain attempted to force the Posts at Rocky Mount & Hanging Rock, was believed to be at that time trying to get round the left of our position, to cut off our communications with the Congarees & Charleston; That the disaffected Country between Pedee & Black River had actually revolted, and that Lord Rawdon was contracting his Posts and preparing to assemble his force at Camden. Continue reading

Feminist Rapist

 

 

I have been observing leftists for over half a century and even so they still can take me by surprise at their willingness to jettison morality for the sake of political expediency.  From Wonkette, a feminist and foul mouthed site:

 

 

  • To sum up, I think Bill Clinton could very well have raped Juanita Broaddrick; that it doesn’t make him an evil man, or irredeemable (I’m Catholic; we’re all forgiven, if we’re sorry, and Broaddrick says Bill Clinton personally called her up to apologize). It doesn’t even necessarily make him a bad feminist — you know, later, once he stops doing that.

Go here to read the rest.  Machiavelli would not be surprised, but even he I think would have been disgusted.

 

Bear Growls: Cross Examination

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has worked in the law mines.  Here are his remarks on cross examination:

 

Cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of the truth,” said John Henry Wigmore.  And he was right.

You may know that the chief difference between direct examination and cross-examination is that the lawyer may lead on the latter.  In other words, questions may (should always) be phrased as statements.  It is the most adversarial part of a trial that is itself the capstone of the adversary system of law. Continental countries prefer to use the inquisitorial system, in which a tribunal of neutral judges examine the evidence and reach a verdict.

Well, la di da.  

The genius of the Anglo-American system is that it allows both sides to fight it out, thus ensuring nothing will be left out, nothing left unchallenged. Assuming equal resources and skill of attorneys, and (most importantly) a judge who will allow real trial lawyers to do their jobs, the adversary system is fair, often dramatic, and always sporting.

Within this dramatic, adversary system, cross-examination is the crown jewel. Truly, the only way one may defeat an effective cross is to simply tell the truth.  How many times has the Bear seen a witness, say a police officer, implode on the stand, because he suspected every question was some sort of trick, and would deny the sky was blue before agreeing with the Bear on cross?

The Bear found that the best way to deal with an evasive witness is to patiently ask the exact same question, word-for-word, with the same inflection.  Yes, it seems weird, but everyone assumes the lawyer knows what he’s doing. The witness will not understand, will become disoriented, then frightened, and will look like a liar.  Too many lawyers get into arguments with the witness on cross, which is throwing away your superior position.  Just pray you have a judge who appreciates the trial lawyer’s role in an adversary system and doesn’t just become impatient and tell you to move on.

You have a right to an answer to a fair question.  And when the opposing counsel objects, “Asked and answered,” say, “Your Honor, that objection belongs only to the opposing side during direct, and in any case the witness has for reasons best known to himself, refused to answer my question.” (Commenting on the witness’ credibility like that might get you some pushback from the judge, but the Bear might not be able to resist, depending on a lot of things.)

Two State Police Detectives: Epic Fails on Cross

One time, an evasive state police detective turned to the judge in obvious distress, and pleaded, “But I don’t know how to get around that question!”  No kidding.  Luckily, the Bear had a good judge who bit the witness’ head off.

In another trial – this one for murder / death penalty –  the Bear’s question was, “why did you interrogate Mr. Pontious on videotape?”  The detective kept doggedly answering, “to get to the truth,” probably a stock answer they teach detectives at seminars on “Avoiding Wily Defense Lawyer Traps.”

However, the police had clearly decided the Bear’s client was guilty long before that, and, in fact, they already had the answers to all the questions they asked him on tape.  They had already interrogated him off camera, and this was just the production of the supreme piece of evidence against him: a videotaped interrogation.

Everyone – especially the jury – knew darn good and well the purpose was to secure a videotaped confession to use as evidence against the suspect at trial. Jurors are not stupid. If the witness had simply told the truth, the Bear couldn’t have touched him.  But the state police detective assumed that since the Bear was asking, there must be some trick behind the question.  He was desperate to portray himself to the jury as a disinterested philosopher, who would never get his hands dirty by producing evidence for trial. Which is, of course, ridiculous.

For thirty minutes, the Bear kept pleasantly asking the same question, in exactly the same way, like a tape recorder, and the detective kept giving different evasive answers.  Talk about looking like Captain Queeg! One question. Now, it is true this was a sneaky Bear trick. The Bear had decided the detective was not very bright, and would fall for the most obvious trick: asking for a truthful answer to an inconsequential question.

The Bear had a very good judge.  If time was being wasted, it was the witness who was wasting it, not the Bear.  Obviously, that is what the judge thought. The jury was less than impressed with the detective’s performance and ultimately he was blamed for losing a murder case. But that was a bit unfair. The jury just got that one right. With kind assistance from the Bear.

Adversary Does Not Mean Mean

Many people who have been taught by television shows – which must get the lawyer and the witness in one, tight shot – imagine the lawyer is in the witness’ face, yelling, until the witness breaks down and admits to the murder.  Jose Ferrer’s cross-examination of Humphrey Bogart in the Cain Mutiny is more accurate. Trial defense counsel is not friendly, but zeros in on the witnesses weak points relentlessly. There, the man on the stand himself revealed himself to to be unfit, which was the real issue at trial.

The Bear has no compunction about revealing the character defects that impact credibility in today’s great issues, through argument, satire or agitprop. Mark this well, visitors, friends and Woodland Creatures. Controversy is not just about the rightness or wrongness of this issue or that one. Let others argue about each apple. The Bear would lay his axe at the base of the tree, provided it were a rotten tree, bearing bad fruit, and expect nothing but praise from men of good will. Now that he mentions it, he has a vague recollection of the same imagery employed by someone.

Only one time did the Bear actually elicit an in-court confession while cross-examining a defendant. It involved a homosexual groping, and the details are not edifying. The Bear lined up all the hopes and effort this young man had placed in his budding Navy career, and, after a sympathetic pause, simply asked why on earth would he throw it all away? The kid had been worn down by that time, and said he just couldn’t help himself.

That was one of the Bear’s very first trials, and the feat was never repeated. Continue reading

Marbury v. Madison

 

A dramatization of the events surrounding the case of Marbury v. Madison.  Part of the Equal Justice Under Law series that ran in 1977 on PBS.

William Marbury was one of the “Midnight Judges” appointed by President Adams in the waning hours of his administration, 16 Federal district judges and 42 justices of the peace, all members of Adams’ Federalist party.  The Senate, still controlled by the Federalists, approved his appointments en masse the next day on March 4, 1801, the same day Thomas Jefferson was sworn in.  Acting Secretary of State John Marshall, who was also the newly appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, sent out the commissions to be delivered to the newly appointed judges and justices of the peace.  Not all could be delivered prior to Jefferson assuming office, and he ordered Levi Lincoln, Attorney General and Acting Secretary of State pending the arrival of James Madison in Washington, not to deliver the remaining commissions.

Marbury was among the justices of the peace who did not receive their commissions.  He petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus requiring Secretary of State James Madison to give him his commission.

In a 4-0 decision John Marshall, who should have recused himself from this case due to his involvement with the commissions, gave his enemy Jefferson a short term tactical victory and a long term strategic defeat.  He ruled that Marbury had a right to the commission, but that the Supreme Court lacked the legal authority to order Madison to give him the commission.  The Judiciary Act of 1789 had given to the Supreme Court the power to order writs of mandamus.  Marshall found that Congress could not enlarge the original jurisdiction that the Constitution gave to the Supreme Court and that thus this provision in the Judiciary Act was unconstitutional and that the Court lacked the power to grant such a writ as a matter of original jurisdiction.

Thus did the Court grant itself the key power of judicial review, a power nowhere granted in the Constitution, although some members of the Constitutional Convention assumed that the federal judges would have the power to declare null and void an unconstitutional act.  Hamilton argued in Federalist 78 that the Federal courts would have the power of judicial review.

It would be over a half century before the Supreme Court would strike down another act of Congress, in the infamous case of Dred Scott v. Sanford.  However, the Court was not reluctant during that period to use judicial review to strike down state statutes that they ruled ran afoul of the Constitution. Continue reading

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