Exit Ted Cruz: For Now

 

Only Trump knows why he decided to give a prime time slot to Ted Cruz when he knew, based upon an advance copy of his speech, that Cruz would not endorse him.  It might well be a final sign of contempt for a defeated adversary who Trump believes is now harmless.  “Let him say what he wants”, Trump might have thought, “what do I care?”

As for Cruz after the personal attacks that Trump had made against his wife and father, he could not endorse Trump. He plans to run in 2020.  He knows that there are two possible outcomes in the fall.  If Trump loses he will not be associated with what most Republicans will then regard as a mad episode in the history of their party.  If Trump wins, Cruz likely assumes that his Presidency would be a train wreck of epic proportion and that if Trump runs again he will be vulnerable in the 2020 primaries. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Emeritus?

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The personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus is speaking out again.

 

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s long-time personal secretary, has given a sweeping interview in which he accuses his fellow German bishops of downplaying Catholic dogma, and insists that popes cannot change the Church’s with “half sentences or somewhat ambiguous footnotes.”

Gänswein, who also serves as Prefect for the Papal Household for Pope Francis, made his remarks in an interview published Monday in the Ravensburg newspaper Schwäbischen Zeitung.

“Considering the baselines of their theological convictions, there is definitely a continuity” between Benedict and Francis, Gänswein said, according to a Catholic News Agency translation.

“Obviously, I am also aware that occasionally doubt might be cast on this, given the differences in representation and expression” between the two men, he added.

“But when a pope wants to change an aspect of the doctrine, then he has to do so clearly, so as to make it binding,” noted the 59-year-old archbishop, a canon lawyer who formerly worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Important magisterial tenets cannot be changed by half sentences or somewhat ambiguous footnotes,” he said, in an apparent reference to the controversy over Amoris Laetitia. Continue reading

The Clinton Foundation Made Millions off Destitute Haitians

Dinesh D’Souza’ s movie Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party is being released this weekend and I am seeing it with my bride and my son.  Full review to follow.  In the meantime D’Souza explains at National Review Online how the Clinton Foundation made a fortune off destitute Haitians:

In January 2015 a group of Haitians surrounded the New York offices of the Clinton Foundation. They chanted slogans, accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of having robbed them of “billions of dollars.” Two months later, the Haitians were at it again, accusing the Clintons of duplicity, malfeasance, and theft. And in May 2015, they were back, this time outside New York’s Cipriani, where Bill Clinton received an award and collected a $500,000 check for his foundation. “Clinton, where’s the money?” the Haitian signs read. “In whose pockets?” Said Dhoud Andre of the Commission Against Dictatorship, “We are telling the world of the crimes that Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for in Haiti.”
Haitians like Andre may sound a bit strident, but he and the protesters had good reason to be disgruntled. They had suffered a heavy blow from Mother Nature, and now it appeared that they were being battered again — this time by the Clintons. Their story goes back to 2010, when a massive 7.0 earthquake devastated the island, killing more than 200,000 people, leveling 100,000 homes, and leaving 1.5 million people destitute.
The devastating effect of the earthquake on a very poor nation provoked worldwide concern and inspired an outpouring of aid money intended to rebuild Haiti. Countries around the world, as well as private and philanthropic groups such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, provided some $10.5 billion in aid, with $3.9 billion of it coming from the United States.
Haitians such as Andre, however, noticed that very little of this aid money actually got to poor people in Haiti. Some projects championed by the Clintons, such as the building of industrial parks and posh hotels, cost a great deal of money and offered scarce benefits to the truly needy. Port-au-Prince was supposed to be rebuilt; it was never rebuilt. Projects aimed at creating jobs proved to be bitter disappointments. Haitian unemployment remained high, largely undented by the funds that were supposed to pour into the country. Famine and illness continued to devastate the island nation.
The Haitians were initially sympathetic to the Clintons. One may say they believed in the message of “hope and change.” With his customary overstatement, Bill told the media, “Wouldn’t it be great if they become the first wireless nation in the world? They could, I’m telling you, they really could.”
I don’t blame the Haitians for falling for it; Bill is one of the world’s greatest story-tellers. He has fooled people far more sophisticated than the poor Haitians. Over time, however, the Haitians wised up. Whatever their initial expectations, many saw that much of the aid money seems never to have reached its destination; rather, it disappeared along the way.

Where did it go? It did not escape the attention of the Haitians that Bill Clinton was the designated UN representative for aid to Haiti. Following the earthquake, Bill Clinton had with media fanfare established the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. Meanwhile, his wife Hillary was the United States secretary of state. She was in charge of U.S. aid allocated to Haiti. Together the Clintons were the two most powerful people who controlled the flow of funds to Haiti from around the world.

 

The Haitian protesters noticed an interesting pattern involving the Clintons and the designation of how aid funds were used.  They observed that a number of companies that received contracts in Haiti happened to be entities that made large donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Haitian contracts appeared less tailored to the needs of Haiti than to the needs of the companies that were performing the services. In sum, Haitian deals appeared to be a quid pro quo for filling the coffers of the Clintons.
For example, the Clinton Foundation selected Clayton Homes, a construction company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to build temporary shelters in Haiti. Buffett is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative who has donated generously to the Clintons as well as the Clinton Foundation. The contract was supposed to be given through the normal United Nations bidding process, with the deal going to the lowest bidder who met the project’s standards. UN officials said, however, that the contract was never competitively bid for.
Clayton offered to build “hurricane-proof trailers” but what they actually delivered turned out to be a disaster. The trailers were structurally unsafe, with high levels of formaldehyde and insulation coming out of the walls. There were problems with mold and fumes. The stifling heat inside made Haitians sick and many of them abandoned the trailers because they were ill-constructed and unusable.
The Clintons also funneled $10 million in federal loans to a firm called InnoVida, headed by Clinton donor Claudio Osorio. Osorio had loaded its board with Clinton cronies, including longtime Clinton ally General Wesley Clark; Hillary’s 2008 finance director Jonathan Mantz; and Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge who has helped raise millions for the Clintons.
Normally the loan approval process takes months or even years. But in this case, a government official wrote, “Former President Bill Clinton is personally in contact with the company to organize its logistical and support needs. And as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has made available State Department resources to assist with logistical arrangements.”
InnoVida had not even provided an independently audited financial report that is normally a requirement for such applications. This requirement, however, was waived. On the basis of the Clinton connection, InnoVida’s application was fast-tracked and approved in two weeks.
The company, however, defaulted on the loan and never built any houses. An investigation revealed that Osorio had diverted company funds to pay for his Miami Beach mansion, his Maserati, and his Colorado ski chalet. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in 2013, and is currently serving a twelve-year prison term on fraud charges related to the loan.
Several Clinton cronies showed up with Bill to a 2011 Housing Expo that cost more than $2 million to stage. Bill Clinton said it would be a model for the construction of thousands of homes in Haiti. In reality, no homes have been built. A few dozen model units were constructed but even they have not been sold. Rather, they are now abandoned and have been taken over by squatters.

Continue reading

Chris Christie v. Hillary Clinton

 

I don’t think much of New Jersey governor Chris Christie but he was on target last night.  Returning to his federal prosecutor past he led the Convention delegates in a roaring tour of a few of the greatest mistakes and crimes of Hillary Clinton.

PopeWatch: Contradictions

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Father Brian Harrison at One Peter Five examines the problems that arise when a pope contradicts an earlier pope:

 

 

Last week saw the release of an important interview (PDF link) given by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and one of Pope Francis’ most trusted theological advisers and spokesmen, to the Roman Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica. The topic was the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL):

This interview has already made waves round the world, mainly because of His Eminence’s insistence on three points: first, that an apostolic exhortation such as AL is indeed an authoritative magisterial document, containing teaching that Catholics must assent to; secondly, that all previous teachings on marriage and the family must now be interpreted in the light of AL; and finally, that AL is indeed to be understood as allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist in some cases, even without a commitment to live ‘as brother and sister’.

I actually have no quarrel in principle with Cardinal Schönborn’s first point, about the status of apostolic exhortations. Though relatively recent in origin, they are fairly high in the ‘pecking order’ of magisterial documents – probably just a tad beneath encyclicals. To a large extent they are indeed hortatory and pastoral in tone and content, rather than strictly doctrinal. But Schönborn is correct in  pointing out that when certain passages are worded in such a way as to manifest the Pontiff’s intention to inculcate some doctrinal truth, that certainly counts as magisterial teaching. I also agree with the principle of theological method that underlies Cardinal Schönborn’s second controversial statement – that all previous magisterial statements on marriage and the family must now be interpreted in the light of AL. However, what His Eminence says is not the whole truth.

Let me explain. It has often happened in the historical development of Catholic doctrine that certain teachings which at an earlier stage were not fully explicated were subsequently clarified by new interventions of the magisterium. For instance, the ancient faith of the Church that the Blessed Virgin was without sin did not make entirely clear whether her perfect sinlessness began at the very moment of her conception. Hence, as is well known, some distinguished theologians over the centuries disputed her Immaculate Conception until Bl. Pius IX finally settled the question dogmatically in 1854. So when a later magisterial teaching adds precision or clarity to an earlier one, or draws out its logical implications, then of course we’re going to interpret the earlier statement(s) in the light of the later one.

But what happens when the reverse is the case – when a more recent magisterial statement is less clearly expressed than an earlier one? This has been a problem with certain documents of Vatican Council II. Since the sometimes deep theological cracks between ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ Fathers had to be papered over so as to get a consensus vote, the final texts on some topics – e.g., religious freedom, biblical inerrancy, ecumenism, the definition of Christ’s Church, his social kingship, and whether those dying as non-believers can be saved – are less clear than earlier relevant statements of the magisterium. In this new situation, correct theological methodology requires us to interpret the new teaching in the light of the old one. Unfortunately, Cardinal Schönborn’s one-sided presentation says nothing about this complementary norm.

In both situations, the basic interpretative principle is the same:  we should interpret less clear magisterial statements in the light of those that are expressed more clearly, regardless of which happened to come first. That common-sense norm derives from a still more basic principle, namely, the revealed promise of Jesus that his Holy Spirit will always be present in the Church to guide and keep her in the path of truth (cf. John 14: 16-17, 26). So when two apparently contrasting magisterial statements can reasonably be harmonized, they should be.

However, that raises another question: What if it seems impossible to reconcile two papal affirmations dealing with faith and morals?  This brings us to the third and most contentious of the controversial positions now espoused by Cardinal Schönborn. Some have sought to reconcile with previous papal teaching Pope Francis’ statements in AL #305 and its notorious footnote 351, which says that “in certain cases” Catholics living “in an objective situation of sin” (notably the divorced and civilly remarried) can receive “the help of the sacraments” – sacraments which the same footnote identifies as Penance and Eucharist. According to would-be reconcilers, the Holy Father should here be understood as implicitly restricting this sacramental “help” to those who commit to live ‘as brother and sister’.

Given the context, this bland reading of note 351 never struck me as very plausible. In any case, it has now been rejected decisively – almost scornfully! – by the learned prelate whom Francis himself has repeatedly designated as the most trustworthy commentator on the new apostolic exhortation. Moreover, this occurs in an interview that the Pope would almost certainly have read beforehand. (Every issue of this top-drawer Jesuit journal is vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State prior to publication.) When editor Spadaro asks Schönborn if he agrees that it’s “obvious” Pope Francis is not limiting this sacramental “help” to couples living as brother and sister, His Eminence immediately responds, “Yes, certainly!” He then spells it right out: the present Holy Father “does not stop short at the kinds of cases that are specified [by John Paul II]in no. 84 of Familiaris consortio.” (That is, those cases where the couple abstain from sexual intimacy.)

Hopefully Schönborn’s authority will at least settle the debate as to what Pope Francis means and intends on this point. But let’s look again at this key article of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1981 apostolic exhortation on the family. In the troubled wake of AL, most appeals to the authority of FC #84 have cited its exclusion of (sexually active) remarried divorcees from the Eucharist. But still more basic is what this article says about the sacrament of Penance. For if you can’t be absolved, you can’t go to Communion anywhere – not even in a church where this would cause no scandal.  And John Paul affirms, “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, . . . take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

Now, this is where the rubber hits the road, folks. Pope John Paul, in continuity with all his predecessors from time immemorial, has reaffirmed that only those divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who commit to live in complete continence may be given sacramental absolution. But Pope Francis now says that those who make that commitment are not the only such Catholics who can be absolved.

“Only” vs. “Not only”.  No ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ can mask that stark contradiction. But that hasn’t stopped some from trying. We have seen two principal attempts to square the circle. Continue reading

Civil War Book Haul

 

While in Wisconsin, my family and I visited the Civil War museum in Kenosha.  It has quite a few fascinating exhibits, including period battle flags, uniforms, films, a toy soldier exhibit showing the stand of the Iron Brigade on the first day of Gettysburg, etc.  One of my favorite features of the museum is their gift shop which has a huge collection of used Civil War books for sale.  I never fail to find often rare books on the Civil War.  Here is a list of my purchases for 43 dollars earlier in the week:

  1. Jefferson Davis:   American Patriot 1808-1861, Hudson Strode (1955)-Poor Jefferson Davis, portrayed as the Devil incarnate by the North during the War, he was often used as a scapegoat by Southerners after the War.  The simple truth is that Davis was a gifted man who brought the Confederacy close to independence against all the odds.  Hudson Strode was the first historian to have access to many of the personal papers of Jefferson Davis and launched a vigorous counterattack to the image of Davis as a bloodless pedant, revealing him instead as a passionate and complex man.
  2. The Hidden Face of the Civil War, Otto Eisenschiml (1961)-The Austrian born Eisenschiml was an oil company executive, and a tireless Civil War historian.  He is perhaps best known for his 1937 look at the Lincoln assassination which posited that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was behind the assassination.  I regard this theory as completely loony.  However, Eisenschiml was never afraid of controversy and is always entertaining to read.    In this volume he savages both the North and the South for incompetence in the waging of the Civil War.
  3. The Celebrated Case of Fitz John Porter:  An American Dreyfus Affair, Otto Eisenschiml (1950)-Eisenschiml takes on the case of General Porter who was court-martialed and removed from the Army for his actions at Second Bull Run, and who fought for 25 years to clear his name, a fight he ultimately won.
  4. Lincoln’s Scapegoat General: A Life of General Benjamin Butler, 1818-1893, Richard S. West, Jr. (1965)-A book in defense of “Beast” Butler.  I like seeing arguments made for impossible cases, and attempting to convince me that Butler was not the most incompetent Union general is close to an impossible task.
  5. General Sherman’s Son:  The Life of Thomas Ewing Sherman, SJ, Joseph T. Durkin, SJ (1959)  A biography of the Jesuit son of General Sherman written by a Jesuit.  Go here to read about Father Sherman.
  6. Grant Wins the War, James R. Arnold (1997)-A good one volume look at the Vicksburg campaign, the most decisive campaign of the War.

Continue reading

Plagiarizing a Plagiarist

 

 

The internet is all afire with the claim that Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican Convention  yesterday lifted a section from Michelle Obama’s Convention speech in 2008.  Likely the plagiarism did occur and Trump should fire his wife’s speechwriter.  However, it is also likely that Michele Obama’s speech writer plagiarized that section of her speech from a 1992 book, Business Success in South Africa.  Per the Zero Hedge blog:

However, in a curious development, the IOTWReport website finds some curious analogues between Michelle’s own 2008 speech, and a book written in 1992 by African author Rob Marsh titled, “Business success in South Africa.” Spot the similarities. Continue reading

Blue Lives Matter

 

Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County gave a fiery speech at the Convention yesterday:

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“Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear: Blue  Lives Matter!

I want to talk with you about something important, indeed, a concept that five law enforcement officers were murdered and nine more were wounded for earlier this month in Dallas, and for which three more were murdered yesterday in Baton Rouge:  that is the importance of Making America Safe Again.

I believe that this noble mission is not just a requirement, but a prerequisite for achieving this campaign’s goal of Making America Great  Again.

We simply cannot be great if we do not feel safe in our homes, on our streets, and in our communities.

I see this every day, at street level where many Americans increasingly have an uneasiness about the ability of their families to live safely in these troubling  times. This transcends race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, and  lifestyle.

If you don’t believe it, a recent Gallup poll confirms it: more than half of all Americans now worry a great deal about crime and violence, up consistently and dramatically from just a few years ago.

For African-Americans that number is 70 percent.

 

Continue reading

Republican Convention Open Thread

Pirate Lincoln

So the Trump Convention begins.  I predict record audiences if no other prediction is safe.  I will be surprised if it is dull.  Trump is an unworthy messenger of a powerful wave of discontent among the American people, a discontent that the elites in our country have done their best to ignore.  At this Convention we will get clues as to how well or poorly Trump will be riding this wave for the rest of the campaign.

  The usual open thread rules apply.  Be concise, be charitable and, above all be amusing.

On Vacation 2016

 

 

I am on vacation with my family until July 26.  My internet connection in the coming week will range from intermittent to non-existent. That is now by choice.  In the past it was not, but now with ubiquitous wi-fi, and my wife’s phone that can serve as a mobile hot spot, that is no longer the case, and truth to tell, it hasn’t been for the last several years.  I will have posts for each day I am away on the blog, but if something momentous occurs, for example:  Elvis is discovered working at a Big Boy’s in Tulsa, the Pope issues a Bull against blogging as a complete waste of time, Trump admits that some orange furred critter has died on his head or Hillary files suit against Satan for the recovery of her soul, I trust that this post will explain why I am not discussing it.

We will begin up in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a visit to my bride’s mother.  We have been doing this since the birth of the twins and it has always been a fun family gathering.  Then it is back home for some Illinois activities.  GenCon will come later during the first week in August.  Unfortunately I have a case that will eat up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday up to noon of that week.  It will not interfere with GenCon, but it does mean that we had to separate that from our annual trip to Wisconsin.  So, On Wisconsin! Continue reading

The Man in the High Castle

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

“The Nazis have no sense of humor, so why should they want television? Anyhow, they killed most of the really great comedians. Because most of them were Jewish. In fact, she realized, they killed off most of the entertainment field. I wonder how Hope gets away with what he says. Of course, he has to broadcast from Canada. And it’s a little freer up there. But Hope really says things. Like the joke about Goring . . . the one where Goring buys Rome and has it shipped to his mountain retreat and then set up again. And revives Christianity so his pet lions will have something to—”

Continue reading

PopeWatch: Mecca

 

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

 

Responding to Cardinal Robert Sarah’s suggestion that priests celebrate Mass ad orientem, or facing east, Pope Francis today praised the idea, asking all priests to face Mecca while saying Mass.

Speaking to a large crowd at his weekly Wednesday Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that facing Mecca during Mass could be the ecumenical boost the Church and the east need “in these dark times.”

“It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction, toward Mecca, the holiest site in all of Islam. This will accomplish two things…first, it will be as a sign of unity between east and west. Second, when we kneel at Mass, we will not only be kneeling for Christ’s forgiveness, but kneeling to those we harmed during the Crusades, which was our fault. They will, thereby, act in pseudo persona Christi as we humbly ask for God’s forgiveness.”

Francis went on to ask all priests to “implement this practice wherever possible, unless of course you’re already located somewhere in the east, in which case, ad populum will be permissible.”

After close to a ten second paused, Francis smiled, saying “Man…Sarah’s so smart, right? How does he come up with this stuff? He’d make such a great pope. He’s nothing like the Burke idiot I got rid of.”

PopeWatch attempted to contact the Pope for a comment, but was advised that he was on a pilgrimage. Or a hegira.  Something like that.

The Gael

 

Something for the weekend.  The Gael (the theme from the movie Last of the Mohicans)  performed by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.  Excellent music when traveling.

July 15, 1870: Georgia Readmitted to the Union

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Georgia was the last of the former Confederate States to be readmitted to the Union.  Congress refused to sit Georgia representatives or senators in Congress in 1869 due to the action of the Georgia legislature in expelling black members of that body.  This was followed by an attack by a white mob in the town of Camilla, Georgia on a Republican gathering that killed 12 blacks.  Federal military rule was reimposed in December of 1869.  In 1870 the troops were withdrawn and the Georgia Congressional delegation seated, when the Georgia legislature agreed to sit blacks.  By 1872 Geogia was firmly under the control of one of the so-called “Redeemer” white governments throughout the old Confederacy that used a mixture of legislation and terrorism to disenfranchise blacks.  The Civil War ended slavery and preserved the Union.  The Reconstruction era failed to protect the civil rights of blacks, a sad legacy that is still impacting the nation.

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