A New "Fill in Blank"

Saturday, February 21, AD 2009

Something for the weekend:  A New Argentina by the original Broadway cast of Evita Patti Lupone in the title role is the essence of explosive energy.  I have always loved this musical.  It is a superb cautionary tale about what can happen to a nation when an economically illiterate leader is elected on a popular frenzy of adulation.  Peronism has been a plague on the politics of Argentina ever since.  Perhaps too high a price to pay for a nation to provide fodder for a musical.

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3 Responses to A New "Fill in Blank"

  • I love the song “Don’t cry for me, Argentina”.
    I have a sister in law named Tina – to my kids, Aunty Tina.
    So then, how do I paraphrase the song? 🙂

  • Ha! My favorite memory of that song Don is during the Falklands’ War in ’82. A British non-com gives the command to his troops to board the transport taking them to the Falklands: “To the South Atlantic quick march!”, and the band strikes up “Don’t Cry for me Argentina.

  • The flim version was designed as a star vehicle for Madonna. Not sure if this one or remake of Swept Away was the final exercise in moviemaking that swept her cinema career away. Somewhat bummed out. In surfing the net for Oscar stuff, haven’t seen if Madge showed up with Brazilian Boytoy in tow. Seems to be media blackout surrounding her. Guess their telling her get out and stay out and take Boytoy with you. Too bad. More in the mold of old skool divas like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford than the current artistes. Although Kate Winslet can show up at my Oscar after party any old time.

Praying for a Miracle

Friday, February 20, AD 2009

Hattip to Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester.  In purely human terms this is a waste of time.  Obama is a hard core pro-abort.  The idea that he will change his mind and open his heart to the unborn is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the idea that a movement begun 2000 years ago by a group of peasants in a backwater of the Roman Empire could now command the allegiance of a third of humanity.  Hmmm, I’d better start praying!

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18 Responses to Praying for a Miracle

  • Odds are horrendous that he’ll change. Good. Always a solid point to start. Also consider his off-hand admission that Fairness Doctrine is not one of his highest priorities. So calm down fans of Rush, Sean, Laura, the loon Savage- they’re not going away. Even with lib talk host- and former teacher at Philly’s Father Judge High School, run by the good Oblates of St. Francis de Sales- Bill Press, complaining about the lack thereof. Memo to Mr. Press- your ratings are awful. Your station in D.C. is switching to biz talk because the numbers were below actual measurement. Which means there are probably as many people reading this scribbling as hearing you praise our Apostle of Hope and Change. And that ain’t saying much. A roundabout way of saying that our Apostle is learning to pick his battles. Or used up so much political capital early in the game for the Porkapalooza Bill that his ATM spit out a paper that said Ha Ha You’re Busted. May be considered at a later date. Until that unfortunate day, get that prayer action going.

  • Gerard E,

    Also consider his off-hand admission that Fairness Doctrine is not one of his highest priorities. So calm down fans of Rush, Sean, Laura, the loon Savage- they’re not going away.

    If we calm down it will most certainly happen. Either by congressional action or the head of the FCC. It may not be an outright fairness doctrine, but it could be crafted in a way that would have similar effect, a poison pill for talk radio. This needs to be in the public’s mind, just like FOCA.

  • I saw this a few weeks back. It was certainly effective and well-conceived (pardon the pun) which is precisely why it causes the Left to gnash its fangs and, hopefully, experience an apocalyptic case of acid reflux. Without any undue manipulation, with mere application of the most basic facts and realities, the ad demonstrates the utter folly of one of the Left’s favorite “reasoning-away” tactics concerning the right to life. Anything can happen, in terms of a person changing a horrible mindset, and praying for Obama’s change in this matter is not without merit. Catholics, however, need to mobilize themselves with greater political unity and zeal than ever before, as this nation is led deeper into ostensible Perdition by President Moonbeams and Fairy-Dust, and his personal hedge-witch, Nancy “Theologian and Doctor of the Church” Pelosi. That’s right, folks–she’s the current “happening” and legitimate Fresh, Fresh Face of Modern Catholicism, in the eyes of the mass media! How’s that feel? If recent sit-downs with the Pope and Niederauer can’t get this daft besom to follow the teachings of her own Church, don’t get too excited about the possibility of a sudden Obama epiphany. Mobilize now. Pray later (or during).

  • No less than Fr. Groeschel exhorted the faithful to pray for the conversion of President Obama at the March for Life.

    It’s no laughing matter. If you don’t believe in intercessory prayer, you should revisit your Bible.

  • Still waiting for one of you ‘blog savvy’ folk to open up a ‘rogue’s gallery’ of anti-catholic ‘catholics’ in positions of power. That way, every time Biden or Sebeliius et al are chastised publicly, the lay person google search brings up the ‘dirty deeds’ site.

    Any takers?

  • [No less than Fr. Groeschel exhorted the faithful to pray for the conversion of President Obama at the March for Life.

    It’s no laughing matter. If you don’t believe in intercessory prayer, you should revisit your Bible.]

    How dreary and jejune to imply that someone who advocates action doesn’t believe in the power of intercessory prayer. I never said anything to the contradict the importance of prayer. It’s everyday Catholics who do not combine action with prayer that hinder the Church. If privately asking God to magically change minds is all it takes, then don’t you think God would have done that already, without needing to be cajoled into action? Christ had much to say about that; have a gander.

    Prayer (intercessory and otherwise) is more for our edification and agreement, and the strengthening of our unifying bonds in the Body of Christ than it is about having various requests “granted” or stroking some hypothetical Divine Ego. “Revisit” your own Bible. I suggest a month-long stay.

    BTW: Groeschel is a most admirable man, but not everyone finds him (or is required to find him) irresistibly compelling. Waving him around like a flag is hardly a definitive gesture. IMO, his teaching is geared toward Catholics with a still-underdeveloped grasp of Catholic doctrine, its history, and its complexity. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as such Catholics actually learn and move onward, as Paul once exhorted. I’m glad you enjoy Groeschel’s assistance.

  • Ian,

    Are you trying to be insulting?

  • Ian,

    I totally agree with your call to action. St. Thomas More said that we should pray like all depends on God, but act like all depends on us.

    Prayer (intercessory and otherwise) is more for our edification and agreement, and the strengthening of our unifying bonds in the Body of Christ than it is about having various requests “granted” or stroking some hypothetical Divine Ego. “Revisit” your own Bible. I suggest a month-long stay.

    Your assessment is dangerously close to denying the supernatural aspect of prayer. God hears our prayers and responds to them, not necessarily in the manner of the request. They are not principally for our “edification”, I suggest you read some Catholic sources on prayer.



  • I suppose that praying for Obama’s conversion — or, for that matter, the conversion of the Democratic Party in general to a pro-life or at least not rigidly pro-abortion point of view — is about as much a waste of time as was praying for the conversion of Russia in 1917?

  • Speaking of praying for miracles, would it be too much to suggest that all Illinois residents start praying with equal fervor for an end to corrupt (and pro-abortion) government in our state… it took 70 + years to get Russia turned around so we’d better start now!

  • “Speaking of praying for miracles, would it be too much to suggest that all Illinois residents start praying with equal fervor for an end to corrupt (and pro-abortion) government in our state… it took 70 + years to get Russia turned around so we’d better start now!”

    I second that!

  • Maybe the Blue Army could take up this cause and change its name to the Blue STATE Army 🙂

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  • And who woulda thunk in 1973 that “Jane Roe” herself (Norma McCorvey) would one day become pro-life?

  • I met her in 2007 Elaine. She is quite a lady. Her movement towards the pro-life cause came while she was working at an abortion clinic. One of the pro-life protesters would bring her two little girls with her, and Norma grew to look forward to seeing the two little girls who would play while their mom prayed and passed out literature. One day a pro-abort volunteer attempted to trip the little girls. Norma tossed the pro-abort volunteer off the grounds and went home that night with a lot to think about.

  • I see where Time magazine is now chiding Catholics for getting all worked up about a “nonexistent” bill (FOCA, which has not yet been introduced in the 111th Congress). They admit, however, that Obama has no one but himself to blame for all the hubbub since he promised that signing FOCA would be the “first thing” he’d do as president (in relation to abortion).

    The fact that as of right now, there is no FOCA pending before Congress is a testament to the depth of opposition it has raised and to the prayers of many devoted pro-life people.

    Before the election, and immediately after, many Catholic and pro-life observers seemed to be absolutely convinced that FOCA was going to sail through Congress and be ready to sign the moment Obama took his hand off the inauguration Bible. I always did suspect that was an exaggeration, but you never know.

    I have also wondered, too, whether the Blago-Burris disaster might have contributed to the lack of action on FOCA since it demonstrated that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party in general could lose the goodwill of the voters as quickly as they gained it. Perhaps the attention Blago brought to ethics issues helped sink Bill Richardson’s shot at becoming Commerce secretary, and may also have contributed to the ditching of other Cabinet nominees (including notorious Catholic pro-abort Tom Daschle) over tax issues.

    If that’s the case (and I realize there’s probably no way of ever proving it) then maybe we Illinois residents haven’t suffered in vain after all. Perhaps God is indeed writing straight with crooked lines, or crooked ex-governors, as the case may be.

  • NCR post ‘Trojan Foca’ http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/17318

    explains how ‘stealth foca’ is being passed already in bits and pieces.

  • “Perhaps God is indeed writing straight with crooked lines, or crooked ex-governors, as the case may be.”

    True Elaine. I have always thought that God uses both saints and sinners to work His will.

Pope Denies Worthless Political Hack Photo-Op

Wednesday, February 18, AD 2009


Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia.  The Pope reminded Speaker Pelosi in their meeting of the Church teaching on life.

“The Vatican released the pope’s remarks to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church’s teaching “on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.”

The 15 minute meeting was closed to reporters and photographers.

“The Vatican said it was not issuing a photo of the meeting — as it usually does when the pope meets world leaders — saying the encounter was private. The statement said the pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi and did not mention any other subject they may have discussed.”

I wonder if Pelosi is bright enough to realize the snub that the Pope just gave to her pro-abort self?

Update I: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reminds us of why the Pope felt it necessary to repeat Church teaching on abortion to Speaker Pelosi since,  judging from her own words, she is woefully ignorant of it.

Update II: The ever perceptive George Weigel wonders if the Pope and the clueless Speaker were at the same meeting.

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28 Responses to Pope Denies Worthless Political Hack Photo-Op

Pro-lifers, the Next Generation

Wednesday, February 18, AD 2009

For those in the pro-life movement who may sometimes get discouraged, take a good look at this speech.  This struggle for the unborn will be fought until it is won, if not by us, then by the pro-lifers who come after us.  Naturally the judges at the speech contest where  this speech was delivered disqualified her because of her success at articulating the pro-life message.  This decision was later reversed after one of the judges stepped down and our pro-life speaker was declared the winner.  Truth will prevail if we have the stomach to proclaim it in season and out of season.

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7 Responses to Pro-lifers, the Next Generation

  • Fine articulation, coming from this young woman. We need it–as we saw during this recent presidential campaign, young pro-life conservatives need to start utilizing the same technologies and available media options to mobilize and compete with the pervasive liberal buffoonery. There’s no reason why the next generation of conservative pro-life advocates cannot be as up-to-speed and savvy.

    We are cleaner and far better looking than liberals, after all. Camera ready. (Heh!)

    Seriously–props to this compelling young lady; I loved her Horton/Seuss reference at the end.

  • May the Heavenly Father abundantly bless this brilliant young person. Probably in vanguard of pro-life underground building up in Canada and throughout our Fruited Plain. Note that every January 22, busload upon busload of younguns disembark. Sparkling, delightful, prayerful, leave less trash behind them than the pilgrims who flocked there for the Ascendancy of The Standard of Hope and Change. If pro-life movement has had secret weapon, it is edjermacation. Of course, in Catholic/Fundamentalist/Orthodox Jewish schools. But leave us not forget our fine homeschoolers- many Catholics among these parents who will not subject their young to horrors of government-funded factories full of all manner of cockamamie theories. Beyond one ironclad rule of history- The Future Belongs To The Fertile. Many pro-abort advocates sentencing themselves to long cold lonely years in dotage.

  • Yes, I most definately felt encouraged by this young lady. How refreshing it is to see someone so young be so serious about this most serious issue. How many young ones her age are to ethralled with the latest Hanna Montana trash, and whose parents are not encouraging them to pick up the batan in this fight, and what a fight we will have especailly under this current regime. God help us all, but on this we can rest assured God is in charge and this young lady is His proof to us, that He will not abandon us. I know that there are many like her out there. God bless her and her parents, and all parents who are raising good children in this culture of death…Let’s say our daily rosary!!!

  • Does anyone have a transcript of this speech?

    I could transcribe it myself, but if there was one already it would be greatly appreciated.

  • Wow. This young lady is so well spoken and sincere. A must view video for all kids her age! We are called to be priest, prophet, and king, and she is living up to that calling. Are you a prophet? Then prophesy!

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The Strange Case of Father Damien and Mr. Hyde

Tuesday, February 17, AD 2009

robert-louis-stevensonLeprosy Settlement

The Vatican is expected on February 21 to announce the date of Father Damien’s canonization.  So much has been written about the famed leper priest that I feel no need to discuss here the basic facts of his life.   After his death from leprosy grave libels were made against Father Damien, chiefly by a presbyterian minister C.M. Hyde, who, oddly enough, had praised Father Damien during his life.

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5 Responses to The Strange Case of Father Damien and Mr. Hyde

  • Growing up in Hawaii we were taught of Fr. Damien’s exploits in Hawaiian history class in a public high school. That is how much he is revered in Hawaii. We even have a (Catholic) high school named after him, Damien Memorial, which I hope will be changed to St. Damien.

    His remains were dug up and moved to Belgium, but I believe there is a bone of his left in his old grave back on the island of Molokai.

    It’ll be a great day for the state of Hawaii. Probably not since statehood will the state see this much pride and joy when Fr. Damien is canonized a saint.

  • Damien Memorial is a Christian Brothers of Ireland HS. I serve on the Board of its Chicago sister school, Brother Rice, and have had the pleasure of meeting some of my board counterparts at Damien. It is a terrific institution. Father Damien no doubt is proud of their work.

  • Blessed Damien.. the man who brought me to Christ.

    I’m over the moon at his upcoming glorification.

  • I always found RLS’ defense so touching. BTW, I believe that at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki there is the old Banyan tree which RLS leaned upon to write. I believe that is the story. Correct me if I’m wrong Tito.

  • You’re probably right about that story. I am not familiar with RLS defense, but I’m sure you have the details correct… and that is a very nice story to read!

The Devil and Andrew Jackson

Monday, February 16, AD 2009


I have never liked President’s Day.  Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln?  We have had other great presidents, and one of them, although Republican as I am I bridle on bestowing the title upon him, was Andrew Jackson.  No one was ever neutral about Old Hickory.  He is described as the father of the Democrat party.  Actually, both major parties owe their existence to him.   The Whig party, the main ancestor of the modern Republican party, was founded in opposition to Jackson’s policies.

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7 Responses to The Devil and Andrew Jackson

  • Jackson was a great war hero and I admire his qualities of grit and determination – but he’s always left me a bit cold. He had very little charity in him when it came to the Indians, was indifferent toward slavery (although a very strong Unionist) and his attack on the Bank of the United States was ill-advised, to say the least.

    Like most people of any era, he was very much a man of his time, with the faults and foibles of his time, including his frequent duels, and lack of empathy for the Indians. Since we live in an era when infanticide is casually accepted or even promoted as a good, I think a bit of humility is in order before we condemn our 19th century forbears too harshly for hewing to the conventional wisdom of their day. However, it always seemed to me that our greatest Presidents and the Founding Fathers were great in part because they were able, at times, to somehow see beyond their own place and time and culture. I don’t think Jackson had that quality, however admirable he was in certain respects.

  • You need not worry about the mythical “Presidents’ Day”. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates this legal federal holiday as ‘Washington’s Birthday.’ Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed ‘Washington’s Birthday’ to ‘Presidents’ Day’.”

  • My views on Jackson can be summed up as follows:

    It is a shame that Charles Dickinson and Jesse Benton weren’t better shots, or that Junaluska didn’t do that day at the Horseshoe what he later lamented that he wished he had done.

  • You touch on some of the high and low points of his presidency. I tend to think the low points outweight the high. You also fail to mention his spoils systems, which is anathema to someone like me who, while being culturally conservative, could be termed as a procedural liberal.

  • Zak, for a blog post I thought I was already imposing on the patience of my readers in regard to length and therefore I could not address all the aspects of Jackson’s presidency that I would have wished in a different context. I agree that the spoils system was a lowpoint, although I think the civil service system also has its drawbacks.

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20 Responses to Why Does This Not Surprise Me?

8 Responses to Democrat Economy

  • Why “Democrat” economy? As Arlen Spector said, the Republicans essentially support this bill, but are afraid to put their fingerprints on it.

  • Arlen Spector, besides being a RINO, is a liar. This monstrosity is the Democrats’ gift to the nation. Besides Spector, and the Maine RINOS, the Republican party was unified in its opposition.

  • While one ought to roll eyes at superstition, I’d say that the Friday 13 passing of this trillion-dollar bag of pork-rinds is a bit of a morbidly funny harbinger. I am also glad it passed (first, because it was inevitable and second, because its inevitable doom may seal the ultimate downfall of the Left, even as the Left enjoys its shining little “moment,” at least right now).

    More horrific is the complete lack of innovation that surrounded this grand Democratic scheme to solve (or at least blunt) the crisis. Obama the new, new Visionary (for that is indeed the specific image he cultivated, sold, and rode-upon into office). Some “vision.” This bill is not only the most pedestrian, predictable, and typically uninspired Leftist folly right out of the tattered playbook, it is the fattest.

    This kind of “same old, same old” is far more ridiculous than the “past eight years same-old” that Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the other dwarfs have been whimpering about. Is anyone amazed at how the leftist imagination is so easily titillated and indoctrinated, en masse, by the most generic clouds of stardust? No. People may rightfully decry Bush and his myriad difficulties, but with the passing of this bill, the Obama Cult has officially become the greatest hoodwink in American history.

    None of that matters, now. We’re in for it. Obama plans to address the housing crisis on Wednesday. More drab policy-wonking and ineptitude. The horror is that so few Americans have even a shred of a clue that there is no solution to this largest segment of the crisis. Nothing can be done, short of having allowed (and continuing to allow) the big banks to utterly collapse and find a way to prop-up the smaller banks that did not have the means to engage in the pervasive lending abuses of the giants, and thus make it easier for the crashed banking infrastructure to reset itself even a tiny bit.

    That, at least, would put ~some~ sort of a dent in the fact that over 70 percent of those in the market for a house can never qualify for a loan now (even if 20 percent of that 70 actually DO qualify), with housing prices not even at the nadir, yet, and inventory all the way to the moon. Letting the offending banks and lenders fail and giving incentives to the smaller, up-and-coming banks would have helped put that 10-20% of qualified buyers back on the map. Even getting 5% of those who still truly qualify (but who cannot get a loan to save their lives) back on the map would have had a salvific impact. A superb pilot-light in the darkness. That would have been a real stimulus, right there. A genuine stimulus.

    But no one gets this. Few, at least. America doesn’t get it. I’ve been in lending and real estate for almost 20 years, in California. I can attest that Americans haven’t a proverbial clue and our representatives (touchy Republicans and dingbat Democrats alike) are evading the primary issue, on top of the Democrats’ execrable compounding of the issue. Everyone knows this stimulus is going to fail and that even its pithy scraps of assistance won’t register a blip for years. To secure their paradigm, Obama and the Democrats betrayed the nation and cobbled together this piece of garbage as quickly as possible (under the “we need it as swiftly as possible” mantle) at the expense of bipartisanship and the future. Certainly, a six-month attempt at coming-up with something truly innovative and potentially successful would have been wise. But that’s not on anyone’s agenda, in the beltway.

    How this administration can dare uphold even a mere pretense of being innovative and visionary is, at best, a joke, now. With the passing of this cobbled-together, typically uninspired-yet-exorbitant stimulus, the Obama presidency has already become an apocalyptic disaster. A massive failure. Truly: everything to come from him over the next four years is going to be so much fiddling amid the conflagration.

  • I’m not sure if the stimulus will help that much in the current economic environment. Economies go through cycles and recession is part of the cycle. I read a good article on the history of cycles at, I think,


  • I was looking at a chart of the DJIA for the last four years, it’s interesting to note that it was on a steady rise until November 2006… since then it has been declining.

    What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

  • What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

    Hmmmm,…., I seem to recall that there was an election that month,….,

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2 Responses to Bumpy Road to Richmond

  • Astounding when you consider that today Richmond is a fairly quick drive down I-95 from Washington D.C. You can see on a map how close the two cities are, of course, but the nearest of the 2 Civil War capitals never really hit me until I visited Richmond.

    I visited most of the historical battlefields in the DC-Virginia-Maryland area, but the Civil historical memento that sticks in my head most vividly is not Fredericksburg or Manassas, but a young Southern soldier’s letter home, displayed in the Confederate White House in Richmond. The letter was yellow, soiled, and had ancient stains, maybe bloodstains, on it, but you could still make out the writing. It was a very simply composed letter. The soldier was writing to his mother (from a field hospital, probably), telling her that he was dying and that he loved her very much. He wrote down the names of his sisters and other people he loved and asked her to tell them that he loved them too and he hoped to meet them all again in Heaven. That was it. When I was done reading it, I had to go into the Ladies Room to pull myself together. Crying in museums is not something I normally do. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that young man’s letter.

  • The great tragedy of the human condition is our mortality. The great consolation of the human condition is that death is not the end for us.

The Death of Liberaltarianism

Friday, February 13, AD 2009


Robert Stacy McCain has a brilliant column here on the death of the idea of a liberal and libertarian alliance.  Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives.  It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.

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15 Responses to The Death of Liberaltarianism

  • I guess I’m missing something here. I consider myself a little “l” libertarian, but myself and other libertarians I know and read about are hardly Obama supporters. Lewrockwell.com scorns Obama just as much as they scorned Bush.

    I suppose there must a class of political thinking that calls itself liberal/libertarian and supports Obama.

  • Most libertarians I know are fairly conflicted. They are repelled both by social conservatism (particularly the creationist strain, but sometimes also by the pro-life/defense of marriage strain), and, of course, by Obama/Pelosi style big-government liberalism. As Bush blurred the lines between what Republicans are offering and Obama/Pelosi style liberalism in terms of fiscal policy, many of them naturally gravitated towards the Democrats last election. Granted, nearly everyone gravitated towards the Democrats last election (at least relative to 2004), so that may not mean very much.

    I think at this point we have at least a partial answer to the rhetorical question, ‘How much worse could government spending get than it did under Bush?’ It remains to be seen how libertarians (and liberaltarians) will respond next election cycle. It also remains to be seen whether libertarians are really numerous enough to matter. As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.

  • I don’t find myself conflicted in terms of conviction.

    Democrats and liberals are the “cool” people. You don’t mind hanging out with them (well, most of them…they have their fair share of “creepy”), and they certainly at least put on the aura of intelligence. But scratch just a little and you’ll find a philosophical undercurrent to their thinking thats positively loathsome. So, no problem abandoning them at all.

    With the GOP its quite a bit more complicated. There’s plenty I “agree” with, but of course thanks to the last 8 years I don’t trust them to actually follow through on their political philosophy. That, and the strain of militarism and foreign interventionism unnerves me quite a bit. The militarism especially. It borders on state-worship to my mind. The GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy, which is quite a bit different than defending 2nd amendment rights!

    I still think there’s “hope” for libertarianism long term. If the GOP continues to be broadly defeated and the Democrats ruin everything like they always do then perhaps their might come a tipping point were people across the spectrum will say “you know, lets actually give liberty a shot again”.

  • “As delightful as they are as bloggers, there seems to be an all-chiefs-no-indians quality to the libertarian movement.”

    That is very true as to the all-chiefs-no-indians quality. The charm of their bloggers, I confess, has mostly eluded me.

  • Anthony,

    the GOP at times seems down right trigger-happy

    you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular.

  • “you may have forgotten that there was a bipartisan resolution in congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, 70% of the population supported it. While you may have been among the 30%, it was hardly an unpopular move. Getting bogged down was unpopular”

    I haven’t forgotten, I just think its a bit irrelevant. Thats not to imply that the Democrats/liberals don’t love their wars. I’m confidant Obama will demonstrate in due time.

    Military action in Afghanistan was quite a bit different than Iraq. Afghanistan is an undeclared war in reaction to a specific event done against the United States. In the case of Iraq its an undeclared war of choice and aggression, which distinguishes it in a bad way.

    What does that have to do with my feelings towards the GOP? Everything. They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism. The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

  • In the late ’80’s I started to shift to the right – quite against my will, I might add. I lived in Washington DC. I was a paralegal at the time and worked for various law firms, but most of my friends were staunchly liberal government workers. I thought I was too cool for school in the 1980’s – a “cultural Catholic” (i.e.: Mass at Christmas and Easter) who knew better than to express my private qualms about Roe v. Wade in polite company. I loathed Reagan and thought the Washington Post was the true word of God.

    And then reality started setting in. I started shamefacedly buying copies of the National Review and to my horror, I found I agreed with many of the articles. I began calling myself a libertarian, because I could not bring myself to admit that I was becoming a *gasp* conservative. Conservatives were Republicans and everyone knew the Republican Party was made up of wealthy, middle aged, WASPY white guys like William F. Buckley (I didn’t know then that he was a Catholic) who belonged to country clubs and looked down on everyone who wasn’t a wealthy WASP. That was the image I had of them, at any rate, and it horrified me to think I might be morphing into something that seemed so alien to my sensibilities. (A decidedly non-WASPy Republican co-worker from South Philly pointed out the obvious fact that the many millions who had voted for Reagan in ’80 and ’84 were not all country club WASP’s. He also pointed out WASP’s we both knew – Groton, Harvard, lockjaw accent types – who were indisputably flaming libs. But prejudices do die hard.)

    I called myself a libertarian for a long time, despite the fact that I find Ayn Rand unreadable. Why? Well, I still had all those lib friends. When I said at parties, “I don’t believe in big government any more” – a dangerous sentiment to voice in Washington DC, no matter who is in the WH – and eyebrows were raised, I found that following it up with “I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian” was somehow socially acceptable. And then I discovered the reason for that – all the libertarians I met seemed to be mainly concerned with drug legalization. And on abortion, they were no better than the liberals.

    I am back in my hometown now, and although I live in a very left-wing neighborhood (ah, but I am a block away from Lake Michigan, and I love the lake dearly, and the Art Museum and any number of good restaurants are a short walk away), I am now a middle-aged woman and coolness does not concern me any more. So I freely admit to being a conservative and (since 2005) a Catholic revert.

    And I do wonder if libertarism isn’t, for some others as well as for me, a phase one passes through on the way from the left to the right, an attempt to maintain hipness at an age when hipness still matters.

  • Anthony,

    sorry for not being clear. I was responding to an accusation you made apparently singling out the GOP as down right trigger-happy. It wasn’t moral defense of the Iraq war. If the GOP was trigger happy, so were the Democrats, and the typical American. That’s all. There’s no need to hijack the thread on the question of a just war.

    They turned their back from a “humble” foreign policy

    A fair enough point.

    and instead abandoned all common sense in favor paranoia and political opportunism.

    No basis for this. The US had been long escalating it’s response to Hussein’s refusal to submit to the terms of the ceasefire agreement he signed during the first Gulf War… and his periodic attacks on US pilots enforcing the UN sanctioned no-fly zone.

    The idea of invading Iraq being “popular” shouldn’t have had any bearing on whether or not it was a moral thing to do.

    And it doesn’t.

    And getting bogged down in what was unpopular?

    I don’t understand what you’re confused about? My response was referring to the Iraq war, you’re surely aware we got bogged down until a change in leadership, strategy, and tactics.

  • Nice biographical detail Donna. I am certain that when young more than a few people adopt the political attitudes of the friends that they admire. Then time passes, friends change, experience accumulates and analysis and thought begin.

  • I became acquainted with Ayn Rand and Objectivism via my husband, who had had a brief flirtation with Objectivism in his youth and had several of her books. (By the time I met him, however, he had discarded that and had reverted to his Catholic faith.)

    I will give Rand credit for pointing out that ideas matter (see “Philosophy: Who Needs It”), and that there is such a thing as objective truth, falsehood, right and wrong. She also did a great job of skewering some of the pretentions of the ’60s counterculture crowd.

    However, I think a lot of her ideas — particularly the notion that “altruism” is bad and “selfishness” is good — were simply overreactions to the oppression she experienced in Communist Russia and her disgust with Nazism. Objectivist philosophy leaves no room for God, for the family, for the virtue of charity or for any notion of a common good. In fact, Objectivists will argue until they are blue in the face that there is no such thing as “common good.”

    I got a kick out of watching hard core Objectivists on You Tube, several months ago, try to explain away Rand disciple Alan Greenspan’s admission that the economic policies he’d been following for most of his life just might have been a bit off the mark.

  • This blogpost doesn’t make sense to me. As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’ and Libertarians in general despise the [American] liberals (as the term is very different from what it means in Europe), maybe the poster is just upset that some people that aren’t proclaiming themselves to be conservatives nor liberals voted Obama. Not sure. In either way, the only one to vote for in 2008 for a Libertarian would have been Ron Paul…which sadly didn’t reach above some collective 10% in the primaries. Americans still have a long way to go in adopting their for-fathers whishes for a free nation.

  • As there is no term that is called ‘liberaltarianism’

    The whole point of this post and the one linked to it as that there is a group of American libertarians who coined the phrase and who have called for an alliance of libertarians and the Democratic party.

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  • Paul>> Thanks for that explanation.
    One thing in the OP however: “Libertarian sites are noted for their scorn of traditional conservatives. It will be amusing to see how much their economic and small government ideas need to be trashed before they decide that government sanctioned hedonism is not satisfactory compensation for paying for the socialization of America.”
    Here the author fails to make a distinction between the supposed minority of some Libertarians wanting to form a ‘Liberaltarism’-group and real Libertarians. Hence part of my confusement.

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Marse Robert

Friday, February 13, AD 2009

Some of our readers south of the Mason-Dixon line no doubt have perhaps felt left out in my many posts regarding Abraham Lincoln.  I am fully aware that great Americans fought on both sides of the Civil War, and one of the greatest of Americans, of his time or any time, was Robert E. Lee.

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8 Responses to Marse Robert

  • Don,

    As a Union loving Yankee, let me second your praise for Lee. It was a man (Lee) going up against boys for most of the war until Grant was finally given total command.

  • “He repeatedly expelled white students from Washington University, of which he was President after the war, who engaged in attacks on blacks.”

    Now of course Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. A beautiful town and campus. You can still see Lee’s office as it was on the day he died. A nice museum in the basement of the Chapel.

    Also located in Lexington is VMI where Stonewall Jackson taught prior to the War.

  • Lexington is worth a trip for any history buff. Also of note is that Sam Houston was born there. Just outside of town is Natural Bridge, once owned by Mr. Jefferson. The initials of George Washington can be seen carved into the rock of the Natural Bridge … grafitti from his youthful days as a surveyor of the Virginia wilderness.

  • Lee was a great man and a great general, and were it not for the depletion of good corps and brigade commanders by 1864, as well as the sheer weight of troop numbers, Lee would certainly have bested Grant, who if I remember right, as much as conceded the point. Grant’s genius lay in the observation that if he remained engaged continuously with Lee, constantly reinforced his troop levels, attrition would eventually force Lee back to Richmond and ultimately to surrender. Thus Grant was willing to suffer horrific casualty counts in the Overland campaign from Wilderness to Petersburg. He was vilified by the northern press as a butcher, but Lincoln loved him because he was not afraid to remain engaged with Lee’s army, something that many lesser federal generals never dared.

    In perfect hindsight, it’s almost too bad Lee was such a great commander, because by all rights, the North should have won the war as early as 1862, which would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

    One thing Lincoln deserves credit for is that he had a very good strategic military mind, all the more remarkable since he was not a professional soldier. He recognized the weaknesses of the Confederate military situation, but could not find agressive, smart generals to exploit those weaknesses, until Grant.

  • Hey, Tom and I agree on something regarding the Civil War. 🙂

    Seriously, Tom is exactly right on Grant’s genius. It’s amazing that it took, what, six Union commanders before there was one who realized, “Hey, we have a lot more guys than the other side.” Reading the history of the war is an exercise in frustration because you want to slap the Union generals upside the head for their complete inability and/or unwillingness to act.

  • Wonderful way to cap off the week, Don. Gen. Lee was truly a great American. Making the best of of an untenable situation in the southern states regarding the inhumanity of slavery. Conducting himself as a true Christian gentleman even in engineering battles. Continuing a life of service well into the winter of his years. Just as I marvel at the Revolutionary era- that world class giants like Washington, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson were active simultaneously- so how wonderful God gave Lincoln and Lee to our torn and abused nation during its most fundamental trauma. He has been better to us than we to Him. Or ourselves.

  • Henry Halleck, who was a pretty bad general himself, once told Sherman that it was “little better than murder” to give command to such men as Benjamin Butler, Nathaniel Banks, Franz Siegel, George McClellan, and Lewis Wallace. The Union had decent division and corp commanders in the east throughout the war, but the Army command level was truly pathetic until Grant arrived. McClellan wasn’t bad as a strategist, but as a battlefield commander, he was worse than having no one in command. Burnside deserved a place of dishonor on Halleck’s list. Pope was almost at Burnsides’ level of ineptness. Hooker, a good corp commander, not a bad strategist, but fell apart facing Lee. Meade lucked into a defensive victory at Gettysburg. His Mine Run campaign indictated how poorly he would have performed if Grant hadn’t come East to effectively make him a field chief of staff.

  • Marse Bob is a favourite of mine too. One of the highlights of a 1991 trip to North Carolina was a visit on the return home to Lexington, VA, home of Washington and Lee Univ. as well as VMI. My husband and I spent time at Stonewall Jackson’s house, then enjoyed a short walk to the University campus, down the road to VMI, then to the hall where the Lee Family crypt is located. The office of President of Washington University, which Lee occupied at the time of his death, is kept as it was during his term of office. My father was also an admirer of Gen. Lee, and I thought much of Dad while on the visit. An added treat was locating the grave of Traveller, Lee’s beloved horse, in the grounds adjacent to the Chapel. Marse Robert was the true Southern Gentleman; a worthy adversary and a loyal friend.

200 Years

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


Several fine observances of the birthday of the Great Emancipator around Saint Blog’s.  Crankycon has several first rate postings on Mr. Lincoln.  Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has selections from two of President Lincoln’s finest speeches.  Paul at Thoughts of a Regular Guy reminds us of why we residents of Illinois are proud to call ourselves the Land of Lincoln  (Although considering the condition of the Sucker State currently, I doubt if Mr. Lincoln would consider it a compliment!)

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17 Responses to 200 Years

  • Ah, they don’t make Illinois pols like they used to! Since I am a Wisconsinite and grumbling about Flatlanders ( or, more accurately, visitors from Chicagoland) is one of our favorite hobbies, it pains me to admit it, but Illinois has done pretty well historically when it comes to producing distinguished statesmen. Admittedly, the current bunch is a disappointment, and I doubt any state can quite match the bumper crop produced by Virginia, but, well, there was that Eureka College graduate, for starters. And I can imagine what Adlai Stevenson would say about Blago (well, actually I can’t, because Stevenson would come up with a much more devastatingly witty put-down than I’m capable of dreaming up.)

    And then there’s the astonishing career of Paul Douglas. I had never heard of the man until I came across him in the pages of E.B. Sledge’s “With the Old Breed”: a professor who enlisted in the Marine Corp in his 50’s, was severely wounded on Okinawa and survived to represent Illinois in the Senate. (Heck, they don’t make Democrats like they used to either.)

    I don’t mean to change the subject, just to point out that Illinois has produced some very fine pols in the past and God willing, will do so again.

  • Paul Douglas was indeed a very brave man. He rose from private to lieutenant colonel in three years and did it all through sheer guts on the battlefield. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Douglas

    A liberal who has always had my respect.

  • Also on the GOP side, don’t forget the great, unabashedly pro-life and Catholic statesman Rep. Henry Hyde; Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, a key backer of civil rights legislation (if you’re ever in Pekin stop in at the Dirksen Congressional Center, run by a really great guy, Frank Mackaman); and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who defied what some describe as a bipartisan corruption “Combine” to bring us U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation).

  • How true Elaine, and how I miss the great Henry Hyde, one of the best orators in the last three decades.

    The senior partner in my first firm was born in 1902 and was a Democrat. He was also a close friend of Dirksen. He used to tell me hilarious stories, usually centering around Dirksen’s capacity for drink. Drunk or sober Dirksen was a great senator. Not only have I been at the Dirksen Congressional Center, I bought an album of songs sung by Dirksen!

    My only criticism of Peter Fitzgerald is that he lacked the fortitude to stay in the state and fight the corruption. If he had, my guess is that history in the state and in the nation may have been greatly altered.

  • I forgot to mention Dirkson and Hyde – 2 more fine gentlemen.

    Your neighbor from the schizophrenic state to the north (home of the LaFollettes, the People’s Republic of Madison AND Tailgunner Joe) salutes them.

  • Whether you love Linccoln or not (like me), Pat Buchanan (himself loved and loathed by many) has a very well written and substantive analysis of Lincoln and all the heavy issues surrounding the Civil War.

    A long time ago (you know…the 90s!) I was on the Buchanan-hating band wagon… but the Bush years caused me to really raise my opinion of Buchanan’s thinking. I don’t agree with him on every little thing, but I do agree with him more often than not now.


  • I love how Buchanan uses selective quotations to pretend as though he has a better argument. The south has a right to secede? Of course it does- a small newspaper in Maine said they did.

    Sorry, but as a scholar I find this kind of shoddy workmanship offensive. When you are presenting an argument, you have an obligation to present the other side’s point of view as fairly as possible. If this was a term paper I wouldn’t even give it a C.

  • This is my all time favorite quote from Henry Hyde:

    “When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine.

    “But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”

  • I am sure Elaine that when Mr. Hyde came before God for judgment he had a myriad of small advocates.

  • No Anthony, Buchanan’s piece is neither well written nor substantive. He simply loves the Confederacy and loathes Lincoln. He believes the South had a right to secede, and fails to acknowledge that this “right” had been hotly contested for more than forty years prior to the Civil War. His view of the Civil War is as wrong-headed and historically nonsensical as his view that World War ii was an unnecessary war. His article has no more substantive content than a rebel yell. He makes DiLorenzo, dishonest hack that he is, seem intellectual by comparison. Buchanan has always had a flirtation with racists and anti-semites and I think he is completely contemptible. Gateway Pundit has been doing yeoman work in exposing Buchanan: http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/06/warning-nazi-sympathizer-pat-buchanan.html

  • I will attempt to do a proper “fisking” of Buchanan’s article during the weekend.

  • Here Victor Davis Hanson, a real historian, takes apart the book of pretend historian Buchanan on World War II.

  • Man, I’ll be glad when the Lincoln worship on this site has passed.

    Don, most historians love the state and love centralizers. Thats nearly always the philosophical lens they use in their work. They love “do-ers” who assert power and win. Lincoln was all these things, so whatever “fisking” you do isn’t really going to surprise me, or even continue to prove your case that Lincoln is some objectively awe-inspiring political man-god. If anything I was a bit surprised to see Buchanan dislike Lincoln. Buchanan’s support of protectionist economic policy (ie, bailing out the auto-industry) reeked of a sentimentality towards the state that blurred his view of reality. At least thats where my nose takes me.

    However, the racism/anti-semitism charge gets trotted out from time to time against the “old right”/libertarian-type guys. I’ve yet to see it, plus its fairly difficult to make any kind of sober criticism of such matters until someone comes right out and admits they hate so-and-so. Its like when someone advocates for “non-intervention” and suddenly they’re a “isolationist”. Again I think Buchanan’s protectionist sentiments – particularly with regard to cultural matters – drive his thinking. After all, some times you’ll find him praising minority figures, and other times criticizing them. I might disagree with his point or even his attitude, but I won’t object to his willingness to jump into sensitive areas with a critical eye.

    I can only imagine that the accusations get used to bludgeon into submission those who would dare consider the politically incorrect things like Lincoln’s “evolving” views on race and slavery, or that WWII might have been brought about by political bungling and maneuvering.

    Ah well. Its all in good fun.

  • Anthony,

    WWII might have been brought about by political bungling and maneuvering.

    as opposed to totalitarian aggression? Perhaps the horror could have been reduced by less bungling, it would have taken earlier and more assertive intervention (like, a pre-emptive invasion) to completely avoid it. Buchanan’s position on this is based on his assumption that Hitler’s rhetoric was honest, and not simply ploys to justify his aggression. He did not just want his little Liepzig back.

  • “objectively awe-inspiring political man-god”

    Nice phrase Anthony. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything I have posted about Lincoln, but it is a nice phrase.

    “Don, most historians love the state and love centralizers.”

    Most academic historians today are of the political left and they do love the State. Fortunately most of them also write in a deconstructionist or postmodern gibberish that renders them unreadable by anyone who is not paid, fellow academics, or forced, poor students in their classes. Popular historians, i.e., historians who can actually get people to plunk down money to buy their books, are more ideologically mixed, and often take a more jaundiced view of the role of government in human affairs. As for Lincoln, there has been an historical battle royal waged over his actions since before the guns fell silent in the Civil War, and the battle continues to be waged down to the present day. In this battle Lincoln has been attacked from Left with almost the same ferocity that he has been attacked from the Right.

    “fisking” you do isn’t really going to surprise me,”

    Ah, it may not surprise you Anthony, but it will make you better informed. Buchanan gets the basic facts twisted and that is what my fisking will be about. That Buchanan is a Confederacy fan doesn’t particularly bother me. That he mangles the historical record to attack Lincoln does. Historical accuracy is a passion for me and I detest attempts to distort the historical record, as Buchanan does in his ham-fisted way, to serve political agendas.

    “However, the racism/anti-semitism charge gets trotted out from time to time against the “old right”/libertarian-type guys. I’ve yet to see it, plus its fairly difficult to make any kind of sober criticism of such matters until someone comes right out and admits they hate so-and-so.”

    You must not be looking very hard Anthony. You might start by reading this 1991 article by William F. Buckley and then googling Buchanan and Jews. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n24_v43/ai_11810753

    I accuse Buchanan of being an anti-semite based not upon one or two isolated statements but upon a pattern of statements and actions over the decades. He is a kook and and an embarrassment to responsible conservatives. He fits to perfection the strawman conservative liberals love to attack: anti-semitic, friendly to racists and their causes and buffoonishly ignorant. It will be a happy day for the Right when he totters off the public stage.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself, Donald. I would describe myself as right of center on the political spectrum; but I cannot stand most of the current crop of conservative pundits (i.e. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Buchanan).

    Buchanan does get it right some of the time when it comes to analyzing current events, but unfortunately, his attempts to discredit figures like Lincoln and Churchill just make him look ridiculous. I mean, c’mon — an entire book devoted to the notion that World War II was “unneccessary”?

  • The things you find on the internet. Here is a transcript of a debate between Harry Jaffa, probably the most eminent Lincoln scholar post World War II, and DiLorenzo on May 7, 2002.


Now We Know Who Gets The Change

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


President Obama ran on a platform of Hope and Change.  From the details of the National Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009, sometimes called a “stimulus” bill, we can now see who gets the change:

“Q: What are some of the tax breaks in the bill?

A: It includes Obama’s signature “Making Work Pay” tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year instead of $500 — or $800 for married couples, cut from Obama’s original proposal of $1,000. It would begin showing up in most workers’ paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January.”

Thanks a heap!

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9 Responses to Now We Know Who Gets The Change

  • From two Happy Meals this year to one next January. At least worldwide sales at Mc D’s were up 7.1 percent last month. Now that Disney has acquired Dreamworks. more chances for movie cartoony characters served with your fries. This is truly Hope and Change.

  • Fear not; your Republican buddies kept out of the package the controverted spending on school construction.

    After years of Reagan, Bush I and II, oi polloi will remain content with a little bit more of bread and circus.

  • How did “the Republicans” keep anything out of the bill? They weren’t in conference on it, and Snowe, Specter and Collins aren’t exactly doctrinaire conservatives.

    I’d have been perfectly content with the bill had there been more actual job creation, regardless of whether it involved spending or tax cuts. The infrastructure stuff is great, not to mention overdue. But there’s too little of it, and too late to do much. Frankly, there’s precious little stimulus in all the spending, however meritorious much of that spending may be to help those who are down and out. And there’s precisely squat being done to address the mortgage crisis at the heart of our current troubles.

  • Mark,

    While I have no problem, in general, with school construction, I am dubious that it should be included in a stimulus bill. Is there any other economic stimulus other than a few construction workers getting a job for a year or so building or renovating, and then being out of a job when the funds run out? Much of what I’ve seen in the package should create a bunch of short term jobs, but it doesn’t seem to me that those jobs will last in the long term without future governmental spending on the same proportions we’re seeing now. Am I missing something?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,
    It’s that simple, right? Republicans don’t want schools built. Of course – so simple, and dovetailing nicely with the MSM narrative.
    Allow me to translate: School construction = make-work jobs for union tradesmen at an exorbitant cost. Union tradesmen that would do half the work at half the quality as a struggling crew of Polish immigrants. But hey, Dems are for the little guy, right?
    Thanks for regurgitating what the MSM told you. I needed this line of crap warmed up.

  • daledog,

    I worry about you. Have you talked to your doctor about high blood pressure or hypertension?

  • Daledog and Mr. DeFrancisis, keep it civil please.

  • Mark,
    Witty comeback.

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Now He Belongs to the Ages

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009


Now he belongs to the ages.”  So said Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who had kept vigil at Lincoln’s deathbed, after Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet.

For the past few weeks in the leadup to today, the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I have examined various facets of the public life of Abraham Lincoln.  Of course, the most important part of Lincoln’s life came, as it will for each of us, after his death when he stood before God for the particular judgment.  In this life the outcome of that judgment is unknown to us.  However, I think  the record is well-established that during the Civil War Lincoln found his mind and his heart turning increasingly towards God.

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Honest Abe and Dagger John

Wednesday, February 11, AD 2009


Archbishop John Hughes (1797-1864) of New York, was a titan within the Catholic Church in America in the nineteenth century.  Overseeing with skill the explosive growth of the Church in New York, and helping lead generations of Catholic immigrants out of poverty,  he also found time to take part in the public affairs of his day, and was probably the best known Catholic churchman of his time.  He was also a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church were touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  No wonder his enemies and friends nicknamed him “Dagger John”!

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14 Responses to Honest Abe and Dagger John

  • Strong bishops, that is what we lack in many parts of the country today. He certainly was needed during his time as well as today.

  • Don- thank you thank you 997 times thank you for this tribute to My Number One Americano Catlick Hero. Yes more than Blessed Fulton or our dear Bishops Chaput and Martino. Dagger John was a bad cat, in the complimentary sense. You did not mess with him. Not to mention the prelate who persuaded the New York immigrant Irish, still living with pigs in their streets, to turn over their hard-earned pennies and nickels to build a fitting house unto the Lord. The fruits of his efforts still dominate the landscape around 50th St. and 5th Avenue. St. Patrick’s Cathedral shines to this day- long after its principal sponsor has gone to his rest. A few more Dagger Johns and abortion on demand would scatter like sand in a windstorm. Dear heroic Archbishop- maybe a little too hard-edged for an Official Halo but we still dig him- intercede for us.

  • I have always appreciated “Dagger John” also Gerard. He had his flaws: nepotism, a blindess towards the evil of slavery, etc, but take him all in all, he was a very good man who fought with everything he had for the Church, his flock and America. May God send us many such bishops in our hour of need.

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  • Yes, Hughes was a powerhouse. His influence is still felt in Catholic NYC, make no mistake. People forget that the bishops had real moxie in those days, protecting their flocks. Men of valor and aggressive faith. Feisty, fighting men! Equally exciting was the vigor of Catholic bishops in the Southeastern US, around the same time. Those men had it rough, but they were in the trenches with their persecuted flocks, and it was said that southern Catholics had nothing to fear “so long as they were within one hundred miles of a bishop’s altar.”

    (sigh). The episcopate is decidedly due for a comeback.

  • Not sure I’d want a bishop who thought it was OK to do the bidding of a sitting president by going over to Europe to convince Napoleon not to take sides in the War Between the States; or one who would actually try to persuade poor Irish young men to come fight for the Union Army (where they were often used as cannon fodder by their WASP officers); nor would I want a bishop who, Wolsey-like, sought to dissuade the Holy See itself from being more sympathic to the Confederate cause than Rome already clearly was.

    Fortunately, we’ve come to realize that bishops should not allow themselves to be used as tools of politicians for purely secular political ends.

  • All good and valid points, Tom. I wouldn’t say that men like Dagger John were necessarily steeped in heroic virtue…and I daresay that modern bishops have all sorts of new & exciting ways of letting themselves be manipulated and maneuvered by contemporary powers, just as they themselves manipulate and maneuver. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, after all.

    I think Mr. McClarey was making the point that these “Dagger John” kinds of American bishops knew how to take care of “their own” in some powerful and unambiguous ways–ways that could be viewed as very admirable in their intensity; ways that some of us would like to see applied today.

    Though, without the more unsavory flaws-o-the-day, of course.

  • “or one who would actually try to persuade poor Irish young men to come fight for the Union Army (where they were often used as cannon fodder by their WASP officers); ”

    Oh give it a rest Tom. Have you ever heard of the Irish brigade? Yeah, there were a lot of WASP officers in that outfit! Not to mention the fact that WASPS were also dying in huge numbers to preserve the Union and that the most dangerous job in the war was to be a junior officer in an infantry or cavalry regiment.

    We get it Tom. You wish the Confederacy had won the war. “Dagger John” and “Honest Abe” and a whole lot of other Union men made that impossible. I do not take exception to your right to hold that belief. The country was divided during the Civil War and it still is in historical memory. However, I do not think it is fair to attack Hughes simply because he supported the side that you wish had lost in the Civil War, no more than I would think it fair to attack Southern Catholic ecclesiastics, some of whom will be featured by me in future posts, simply because they supported the Confederacy. Comparing Hughes to Wolsey is simply a pejorative since Lincoln was no Henry VIII attacking the Church or seeking a reversal of some past papal action, and the iron-spirited Hughes was no slavish servant of secular power, but rather a man who supported the Union cause because he thought it right.

  • Hi, I just discovered this blog and it looks interesting. I live in Springfield, Illinois, just a few blocks from Lincoln’s home and I am a geek for all things historic, political and Catholic so this blog is right up my alley!

    The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception here in Springfield (built in the 1920s and currently under renovation) has a stained-glass window that shows Lincoln sending Hughes off to France to talk Napoleon III out of recognizing the Confederacy. You can see it at this link:


    It’s one of several windows depicting great moments in American Catholic history. They are staying in place during the renovation and are being restored to look better than ever.

    It might seem odd to some that a Catholic church would depict a non-Catholic figure of American secular history but I suppose the point is that God accomplishes His purposes through the workings of both Church and State, just as was the case in the time of Christ and long before that.

  • Thank you for the interesting information about the Cathedral Elaine! My family and I live in Dwight, Illinois. Each year in July we go down to Springfield to see the Lincoln Museum, and what a superb place that is, and to say prayers at the Lincoln tomb for the repose of the souls of Mr. Lincoln and his family. The next time we are down we will stop in at the Cathedral, assuming the renovation is comlete, and look at the windows. The type of windows you describe reminds me of a stained glass window showing a WWI American doughboy kneeling at the foot of the cross which is at the Saint John’s chapel at the Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana.

  • Thanks for the quick reply Donald! Be forewarned that the Cathedral renovation is likely to take the rest of this year, so you may have to wait until next year to see this.

    There is another window on that side of the Cathedral that shows soldiers massed in front of the Illinois Capitol, being blessed by a chaplain before they march off to World War I (it would still have been referred to as “The Great War” at the time the window was made).

    I have also visited St. John’s Chapel in Champaign and THAT is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It was built in 1926, two years before the Springfield Cathedral.

  • Thanks for the tip as to the renovation Elaine. One of the high points for me during my seven years at the U of I was worshiping at Saint John’s. I especially loved the regular midnight mass on Saturdays which was usually packed.

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July 4, 1864

Tuesday, February 10, AD 2009


On July 4, 1864 Abraham Lincoln had much to pre-occupy his mind.  Grant’s drive on Richmond had bogged down into a stalemated siege to the south of Richmond around the city of Petersburg.  Grant, due to the appalling Union casualties of the campaign, was routinely denounced as a butcher in Northern newspapers, a charge echoed privately by Mary Todd Lincoln.   On June 27 Sherman had been bloodily repulsed at Kennesaw Mountain, and his campaign against Atlanta appeared to be very much in doubt.  Lincoln suspected that he would not be re-elected and that the Union might very well lose the war.  So what did he do on July 4?  He, along with Mrs. Lincoln and most of his cabinet, attended a fundraiser held on the White House lawn to build a Catholic church!

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39 Responses to July 4, 1864

  • Many thanks Don for your regular features on Honest Abe during his presidency. Provides superb context and contrast with the current White House occupant. The post above clearly indicates the depths of Honest Abe’s mind and spirit. Given that physical contact with both released slaves and Catholics was more than just politically incorrect back in the day. Again Don nice work by you.

  • Thank you Gerard. Your kind comments are much appreciated.

  • Gerard said it well for me.

    With our President Obama wanting to wrap himself in the image of Abraham Lincoln, it is ironic in the disparity of character between the two.

  • Its funny how those of us who aren’t huge fans of Lincoln see the connections Obama tries to make and see THAT has huge warning signs.

    Well whatever gets you to the truth I suppose, haha.

  • Obama and Lincoln have precisely these things in common:

    1. Home state.

    2. Males.

    3. Wives given to causing furors in the press.

  • “3. Wives given to causing furors in the press.”

    In Mary Lincoln’s case, the furors she caused were largely due to her complusive and lavish spending. I have no idea what Michelle’s spending habits are like, but even a coked up Paris Hilton on a shopping spree can’t begin to compete with the spending we’re about to get in DC. Mary Lincoln’s fancy ball gowns and Nancy Reagan’s china – pretty small potatoes compared to a stimulus package that generations not yet born will be paying for.

  • She was also attacked for Southern sympathies, Donna, and for being pro-slavery, both of which were false. I have always cherished her favorite phrase when referring to the ink-stained wretches of the fourth estate: “The vampire press!”

  • I have always cherished her favorite phrase when referring to the ink-stained wretches of the fourth estate: “The vampire press!”

    I just finished the fourth disc of Burns’s Civil war series, and there’s this great line regarding Sherman’s views of the press. I’m paraphrasing, but he said something along the lines of there will be dispatches from hell before morning if I killed all members of the press (which I think he was very tempted to do).

    Mary Todd Lincoln was an odd character. I think she always had some psychological issues, but the loss of two of her sons, and then finally the assassination of her husband, was the final straw.

  • Your series on President Lincoln has been very enlightening Don. From someone from “Downunder”, even though we new of Lincoln through our history studies as youngsters – the slave liberator, the Pres. during the civil war, and his assasination – these days one doesn’t get much further insight and information outside of the USA.
    Very informative, and probably gives a bit of an insight into Donald R. McCleary as well 😉

  • No doubt Don. Thank you for your kind words. Lincoln has always been a passion for me and I am happy to share what I know about him.

  • As to Sherman Paul he made the comment after it was reported, falsely, that two reporters had been killed by the Confederates. He said that they now could expect the latest news from Hell with their morning coffee. Sherman despised reporters as little better than spies who gave away military information in the newspapers, which did happen regularly on both sides in the Civil War. Sherman also said that the meaning of military glory was to die on the battlefield and to have your name mispelled in the newspapers the next day.

  • I’ve also been reading and learning a great deal from your posts, Donald, so let me offer my compliments as well. I thought I knew a fair amount about Lincoln, but the information that he helped to ensure the success of a fundraiser for a black Catholic church was news to me, although it is no surprise that a man with such a noble spirit was also a friend to us Catholics.

  • Thank you Donna. Part of the essence of the greatness of Lincoln was that he could care for the rights of people who were not like him. This extended to Southerners who he refused to demonize. He noted that the Southerners held precisely the same opinions on slavery that most Northerners would have held if they had been born in the South, for example. In the second inaugural address he blamed both the North and the South for slavery. Such largeness of vision in the midst of a bloody civil war is rare indeed. Lincoln was always ready to appeal to the “better angels of our nature”, in a time of crisis that makes our present national woes insignificant by comparison.

  • If only this blog talked about Jesus as much as you talked about american presidents… Who is your Christ, really?

  • Hey Michael J.

    That’s a low blow brother.
    One can admire qualities in our fellow men (and women) without detracting one iota from our love of Christ.

    Do you understand “iota” ?

  • Catholic Anarchist I am quite clear on who Christ is. Unlike you I try not to confuse my politics with my religion. I am going to allow your comment to stand but I give you notice that in future I will immediately delete any comments in threads to my postings in which you attack either my faith or that of other commenters. I will not tolerate that type of nonsense.

  • “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

  • I deleted your comment Catholic Anarchist. I will not allow my threads to be derailed by your charming habit of attacking the faith of those who do not agree with you politically.

  • No, Tito, that was an Abraham Lincoln quote often used by Lincoln bashers to show that, shockingly, a white man living the middle of the country in 1858 did not have 21st century views on race relations.

  • Yes, Paul, but surely it’s not too much to ask that the Great Emancipator might have views slightly more enlightened than those of a former Grand Whatever of the KKK.


  • Yep Tom, that is a quote from Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln-Douglas debates where Douglas was using race baiting in the debates to attempt to win the election for the Democrats in Illinois. It was a successful tactic as Douglas was returned to Washington as a Senator by the Illinois legislature. Lincoln realized that most of the white voters in Illnois and around the nation dreaded the idea of negro equality. It was all Lincoln could do to to amass sufficient support in the North to have a plurality of the voters support him for President on a platform of restricting the extension of slavery in the territories. Lincoln was first and foremost a politician and he was not about to lose a campaign fighting for something that the voters were not yet ready to accept. However, during the war when the opportunity presented itself, he acted to destroy slavery, and by the end of his life he was calling for suffrage for blacks. His personal attitude towards blacks is perhaps best typified by Frederick Douglass who wrote: “I have often said elsewhere what I wish to repeat here, that Mr. Lincoln was not only a great president, but a great man — too great to be small in anything. In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color. While I am, as it may seem, bragging of the kind consideration which I have reason to believe that Mr. Lincoln entertained towards me, I may mention one thing more. At the door of my friend John A. Gray, where I was stopping in Washington, I found one afternoon the carriage of Secretary Dole, and a messenger from President Lincoln with an invitation for me to take tea with him at the Soldiers Home, where he then passed his nights, riding out after the business of the day was over at the Executive Mansion. Unfortunately I had an engagement to speak that evening, and having made it one of the rules of my conduct in life never to break an engagement if possible to keep it, I felt obliged to decline the honor. I have often regretted that I did not make this an exception to my general rule. Could I have known that no such opportunity could come to me again, I should have justified myself in disappointing a large audience for the sake of such a visit with Abraham Lincoln.”

    Douglass also noted in 1876 “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

  • He not only did not have contemporary views on race, he clearly believed that while slavery was wrong, blacks were inherently inferior and not entitled to true equality.

    It gives the lie to the whole thing about “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” a passage Lincoln famously used in order to cast the war from being merely the forcible subjugation of states that chose to pursue independence, into a war for liberation of the black, a liberation that clearly did not really for Lincoln involve any type of equality for black persons.

    Now it’s not surprising that Lincoln was hypocritical about this, he was, after all, merely a man, and merely a politician. That he may have had other good qualities is also probably true. But that he merits the beatification some want to bestow on him?…. not so much.

  • And the canard that “well, after all, he was only reflecting the views of his time” is baloney. There were many enlightened folks who did not deny the ontological equality of all men (hmmm, the Church for one?)

    Besides, in other matters, Lincoln was very modern and progressive… such as in his enthusiastic embrace of “Total War” against not simply armies but against civilian, non-combatant populations, see, e.g., an account of Sherman’s wasting entire regions of the south with the specific intent of causing civilian suffering (http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=551)

    Now how his belief that it was OK to terrorize and starve civilians as a war policy can be reconciled with this:

    The Church greatly respects those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of their nation. “If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace. [Cf. Gaudium et spes 79, 5]” However, she cautions combatants that not everything is licit in war. Actions which are forbidden, and which constitute morally unlawful orders that may not be followed, include:

    – attacks against, and mistreatment of, non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners;

    – genocide, whether of a people, nation or ethnic minorities;

    – indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.

    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2313-2314).

    … is beyond little old me to comprehend.

    But then, I don’t simply swallow an Americanist-tinged view of our history. There is nothing inherent in Catholicism, after all, that lends support to the centralizing, revolutionary nature of what Lincoln did, much less to his warm embrace of modern notions of warfare which are nothing but war crimes.

  • I was going to respond to Tom, but I think Don’s comment covers what I would say in response.

  • “Now how his belief that it was OK to terrorize and starve civilians as a war policy”

    Except that he didn’t believe it was OK to terrorize or starve civilians as a war policy. The South had plenty of food, and the blockade had no impact on the food supply. Terrorize civilians? Union troops were routinely executed for crimes against Southern civilians. Unlike the Confederate army, they also did not round up civilians of a certain complexion and send them South to be sold as slaves. If one wishes to cast stones over the protection of civilians in that war partisans of the Confederacy very much live in a glass house.

  • Tom,

    I never read that quote before from Lincoln, but judging by the context I was able to surmise it was. My Byrd comment was a bit off, but it was only in done in jest.

  • As to Sherman, did he ever hold an entire city to ransom and then burn it to the ground when the ransom was not paid as Confederates did to Chambersburg Pennsylvania? Then of course we could get into the activies of Forrest’s troops at Fort Pillow. The Civil War was largely fought as an honorable war, free of atrocities, but if Lincoln is going to be bashed for the actions of some of his commanders, there is a fair amount on the other side of the ledger.

  • Don, it looks like a two-front war: the people who oppose Lincoln, and the people upset you’re writing this much about Lincoln. Fortunately, you are Grant, and you can handle them with little problem.

  • Well, when the nuns were teaching me, they said it was not right to justify a practice by claiming that “the other guy does it too.”

    I thought we were talking about Lincoln’s merits, not Davis’.

    And if you don’t think Sherman deliberately targeted civilians, you’re not a serious student of the war.

    He sought to deny food and supplies to the Confederate army (which was already beginning to face severe shortages) by burning farmland in as wide a swath as he could from Atlanta to Savannah… civilian farmland, civilian barns, civilian homes. Forced relocation of civilians, including women and children, and forcing entire cities to be emptied: “it to be to the interest of the United States that all citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove,” read Sherman’s order to the confederate general, Hood, who replied: “This unprecedented measure transcends in studied and ingenious cruelty all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.”

    Special Order no. 127, issued by Sherman, reads: “In case of…destruction (of bridges) by the enemy,…the commanding officer…on the spot will deal harshly with the inhabitants nearby….Should the enemy burn forage and corn on our route, houses, barns, and cotton-gins must also be burned to keep them company.”

    Etc, etc., these examples can be multiplied ad naseam. These crimes were noted in the Northern press, rightly condemned by many there, but fully and unequivocally supported and encouraged by Lincoln.

    Facts are messy, and get in the way of one-dimensional views of our heroes.

  • While I make no excuses for whatever atrocities were committed by the Confederate States, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to agree with Tom that Sherman’s views on “total war” were not in line with Catholic teaching on the matter.

  • “He sought to deny food and supplies to the Confederate army”

    A perfectly legitimate tactic since armies are, by definition, not noncombatants.

    “Forced relocation of civilians, including women and children, and forcing entire cities to be emptied: “it to be to the interest of the United States that all citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove,” read Sherman’s order to the confederate general, Hood, who replied: “This unprecedented measure transcends in studied and ingenious cruelty all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.””

    Proving once again that Hood was as poor a student of history as he was a poor Army commander, as I am sure the Confederate dead at Franklin would attest. Forced relocation of civilians and the burning of towns and cities is not uncommon in war. George Washington was given the nickname “town destroyer” by the Iroqois after Sullivan’s expedition in 1779 where, under Washington’s orders, numerous Indian towns and villages were destroyed in retaliation for raids against the Americans. Sherman burned Atlanta because he did not want it turned into a Confederate base in his rear as his Army marched to the Sea. A perfectly legitimate, although unpleasant, aspect of war. Of course similar tactics were used by the Confederates in areas they considered disloyal, such as East Tennessee which was heavily Unionist in sympathy. Sherman did not burn churches or hospitals, and ordered that no dwellings be burned. The burning he ordered was to be limited to the business and industrial sections and any Confederate property that Hood had not burned when he retreated from the city. However many civilian dwellings were burned against Sherman’s orders, mostly by civilian looters who had stayed behind to rob vacant house. About 37% of the city was destroyed. The civilian population returned within three weeks later and were well on their way to rebuilding the portions of the city destroyed before the end of the war. The burning of Atlanta was rough business, but it was not a major war atrocity, in spite of what the ill-read General Hood claimed.

    As to the actions of Sherman’s troops on the March to the Sea, I find them little different from those of Confederate troops when they were in Northern territory during the war.

    Facts are messy Tom, and ascertaining historical truth is harder than bashing Lincoln, who you obviously harbor a great animus towards.

  • I deleted your latest attempted comment Catholic Anarchist. I think once again you were attempting to attack my faith, and besides the subject is Lincoln here and not the hobby horse you wish to ride regarding religion and politics. If you wish to add a comment germane to the topic I will be happy to respond to it.

  • Good work, Don.
    We have a similar problem with a commenter on our local blog “Being Frank.co.nz” who trolls the comboxes with accusations, red herrings and irrelevencies.

    You may recall Chris Sullivan from Mark Shea’s blog? :mrgreen:

  • Chris is emblazoned on my mind forever Don! The Catholic Anarchist and I disagree about most things, but I have no problem allowing him to comment on threads to my posts as long as he doesn’t attack my faith or the faith of other commenters and if he stays on topic.

  • We should keep in mind that admiring a man’s greatness does not necessarily mean we acknowledge that all of his actions are in line with a Catholic moral theology that he does not know. Obviously, in the case of Lincoln, the good works vastly outweigh the potential moral failings of some of his wartime actions. Surely we’re not recommending him for sainthood.

  • “Surely we’re not recommending him for sainthood.”


  • With all due respect, there I was, five years and more ahead of the curve: Pro-Catholic Abraham Lincoln (Thu. 07/10/03 07:29:23 PM) and Abraham Lincoln and the Catholic Church (Sat. 08/16/03 02:16:03 PM). 🙂

  • Bravo ELC! You indeed have pride of place!