Yesterday, in a move ominous for Democrats in 2016, the GOP had a very good night in Kentucky. This is significant in that Kentucky is a state where Democrats have tended to dominate at the state wide level, even while Kentucky was reliably Republican in Federal elections:
Republican Matt Bevin easily won Kentucky’s governorship on Tuesday as the GOP made major inroads in a state that had stubbornly resisted the party at the state level even as it voted reliably Republican in federal contests in recent years.
Bevin, a self-funding investment manager, rode a late surge of outside support from national Republicans to defeat Democrat Jack Conway, 53 percent to 44 percent, according to The Associated Press. Bevin will become just the second Republican to inhabit the governor’s mansion in Frankfort in more than four decades.
Polls prior to the vote showed a close race, with most surveys giving Conway, the state’s sitting attorney general, a slight advantage.
Bevin’s victory capped a successful night for Republicans, who picked up four of the six independently elected statewide positions despite going into Tuesday with just one GOP officeholder. Their victories included ousting state Auditor Adam Edelen, who was thought to be Democrats’ top pick to challenge GOP Sen. Rand Paul next year.
It also marked a stunning political turnaround for Bevin, who has spent $7 million trying to win elected office between this run and his failed 2014 Senate primary against now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2014, he lost the primary to McConnell by 25 percentage points and was mocked by fellow Republicans as an “East Coast Con Man” and a supporter of cockfighting. He entered the governor’s race just hours before the filing deadline and won a May primary against two more establishment-oriented Republicans by a mere 83 votes.
The general election was ugly, with both candidates repeatedly impugning the other’s integrity and Conway repeatedly blitzing Bevin with negative ads branding the eventual victor as a hypocrite and a liar. Bevin was outspent for most of the contest and had his tactics consistently questioned by his fellow Republicans. But a late $2.5 million spending blitz from the Republican Governors Association helped Bevin close the gap in television advertising in the final weeks.
“We need a fresh start. We truly do,” Bevin said in his victory speech. “We’ve run this race our way. We have not chosen to go into the trough. We’ve taken the proverbial high road.”
Bevin, who has often clashed with the party establishment in the state, said he was happy Republicans swept into state offices, but noted he was even “more grateful tonight was such a good night for conservatives in Kentucky.”
Bevin’s win throws into doubt the future of KyNect, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and Medicaid expansion in the state. It also means that an expansion of early childhood education — something Conway had made a priority — is unlikely in the near future.
The Republican gains continue two distressing Obama-era trends for Democrats. The party will now hold just 17 governorships, down from 29 in 2008. Only one of those governors — Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe — hails from the South. (Democrats will have a chance to pick up a governor’s mansion in the South on Nov. 21, when Democrat John Bel Edwards faces GOP Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race.) Continue reading
An apocryphal story from the Middle Ages has Pope Innocent III showing Saint Francis the papal treasury, and saying, “Peter can no longer say silver and gold I have none.” Saint Francis responded, “And neither can Peter any longer say, “Stand and walk!”
From the beginning, with Judas pilfering from the common purse, money and Christ have gotten along poorly. Financial scandals at the Vatican are always the safest of predictions and two books being released underline that observation:
Yet two new books on the Vatican set for release on Thursday, advance copies of which were obtained by The Washington Post, point to a “black hole” in the St. Peter’s Pence fund and describe how only a small portion of the cash actually makes it to those who need it most. Rather, the books documenting lavish spending habits, mismanagement and a lack of accountability suggest the offerings are emblematic of larger problems within the ancient city-state in Italy. According to confidential files obtained by the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, rather than going to aid the poor, most of the cash is used to pay salaries and plug deficits at the Holy See.
The Vatican’s broader lack of transparency and mismanagement of finances, Nuzzi writes, so enraged Pope Francis shortly after the start of his papacy that he offered these stern words to a gathering of top members of the Roman Curia, the powerful bureaucracy of senior clerics that runs Vatican City:
The two tomes coming out this week rehash a hodgepodge of older scandals while also offering allegations of mismanagement, excess and resistance to change. They already have put the Holy See on the defensive, restoring a public relations war footing not seen in the Vatican since Francis arrived. On Monday, the Vatican announced the arrest of two insiders on suspicion of leaking internal information to the authors.
The allegations in the books suggest that a mix of formidable forces confront Francis as he seeks to reform a Vatican bureaucracy long shrouded in secrecy and charged for years with being inefficient and woefully lacking in transparency. They come as the pontiff is facing deep divisions between conservatives and liberals about the direction of his more inclusive papacy. Continue reading
Man is hardwired to worship. If the does not worship the God who created all that is, he will revel in superstitions and worship degrading substitutes for God. Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest nails it:
Human beings feel instinctively that the visible reality that we live in day to day is connected to something larger and more mysterious. When belief in God goes away, the hunger for meaning and connection with a truth beyond the business of daily life remains. The New York Times:
Like many Europeans, Marianne Haaland Bogdanoff, a travel agency manager in this southern Norwegian town, does not go to church, except maybe at Christmas, and is doubtful about the existence of God.
But when “weird things” — inexplicable computer breakdowns, strange smells and noises and complaints from staff members of constant headaches — started happening at the ground-floor travel office, she slowly began to put aside her deep skepticism about life beyond the here and now. After computer experts, electricians and a plumber all failed to find the cause of her office’s troubles, she finally got help from a clairvoyant who claimed powers to communicate with the dead. The headaches and other problems all vanished.
People who think themselves too rational for religious belief end up believing in “astral forces”, ghosts and other phenomena. Sometimes these superstitions take the deadly form of political ideologies that fanatical believers take up with religious fervor—communist atheists murdered tens of millions of people in the 20th century in the irrational grip of an ugly ideology. They scoffed at the credulity of religious believers even as they worshipped the infallible insights of Stalin. Similarly, the Nazis presented their faith as an alternative to the “outgrown superstitions” of historic Christianity.
It’s something very much worth remembering: a world without faith in God wouldn’t be a more rational or more humane place. Continue reading
When PopeWatch first mentioned Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui back on November 13, 2013 he wrote the following:
PopeWatch has noticed that the closer one pays attention to the day to day operations of the Vatican the more one becomes convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the True Faith. Why? Well for the same reason that a Jewish merchant converted to Catholicism in the Renaissance. He had expressed an interest in converting to a Catholic merchant friend of his. He announced to his friend that he was going to Rome to see the operation of the curia up close. His friend who knew the corruption at Rome was aghast and assumed that his friend would lose all interest in converting. Instead his friend came back and announced that he was being baptized in a month. His friend was happy, but asked him why. “At Rome I saw how the curia operates. If I operated that way I would be bankrupt in a week. The Church however has been going strong in spite of this for sixteen centuries. It must be from God!”
The woman whose appointment as a PR representative for the Vatican raised eyebrows, has been arrested, per the Vatican Insider:
Spanish monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, 54, Secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and Italian PR woman Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, 33, are under arrest in the Vatican. The arrests have been validated but the woman was released because she collaborated in the investigations. The investigation carried out by the Vatican Gendarmerie and judiciary has apparently identified them as the alleged “poison pen letter writers” responsible for the latest document leak: two books that are yet to be published are based on the content of these documents. The books are titled “Avarizia” and “Via Crucis” and have been written by Emiliano Fittipaldi of Italian news magazine L’Espresso and journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, of Italian-based mass media company, Mediaset, respectively.
Vallejo Balda and Chaouqui were both members – the former was secretary, the latter was a member – of the commission in charge of examining and advising on the organisation of the economic and administrative structure of the Holy See (COSEA), established in July 2013 to examine the accounts and papers of all dicasteries and to suggest reforms in order to elucidate expenditures and improve overall management.
It was Vallejo himself, the Prefecture’s number two man, who put Chaouqui forward as a candidate for the commission (the idea is that the Prefecture will go once Curia reform is complete). But doubts and criticisms were raised in the weeks after Chaouqui’s appointment by the Pope: on Twitter, she claimed Benedict XVI had “leukaemia” while other messages she wrote, which were even more grave, took a swipe at the then Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone and Italian former minister Tremonti. Chaouqui defended herself by saying she was the victim of false accusations that stemmed from jealousies with regard to her new role and complained that strangers had been interfering with her Twitter account.
In light of today’s clamorous turning point, the PR woman’s interview with journalist Denise Pardo published on the L’Espresso website on 17 September 2013, appears significant. In the interview, Chaouqui stated that she had access “to highly confidential documets” and also talked about her friendship with journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
Go here to read the rest. Background on her from the first PopeWatch featuring her:
The Holy See has been embarrassed by claims that Pope Francis’s new PR had accused a senior cleric of corruption and said that Pope Benedict XVI had leukaemia in tweets she made before she got the job. Continue reading
Throughout his illustrious, and hectic, career, Benjamin Franklin found time to write anonymous satirical pieces which he wrote as a form of relaxation. Here is one written in 1784 in which he suggests the adoption of a rudimentary form of Daylight Savings Time:
To THE AUTHORS of
The Journal of Paris
You often entertain us with accounts of new discoveries. Permit me to communicate to the public, through your paper, one that has lately been made by myself, and which I conceive may be of great utility.
I was the other evening in a grand company, where the new lamp of Messrs. Quinquet and Lange was introduced, and much admired for its splendour; but a general inquiry was made, whether the oil it consumed was not in proportion to the light it afforded, in which case there would be no saving in the use of it. No one present could satisfy us in that point, which all agreed ought to be known, it being a very desirable thing to lessen, if possible, the expense of lighting our apartments, when every other article of family expense was so much augmented.
I was pleased to see this general concern for economy, for I love economy exceedingly.
From the perspective of Pope Francis the Synod was a failure in that it failed to provide him cover for what he wishes to do: allow Catholics in adulterous marriages to receive Communion. Why? Mercy one supposes, which is the all purpose explanation in this Pontificate for any and all deviations from the teachings of the Church. Here is the summary of Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa of the failure of the Pope’s hopes for the Synod:
It was palpable that Pope Francis had been dissatisfied with how the synod ended up. In the closing talk and homily he once more took aim at the “conspiracy hermeneutic,” at the arid “faith by the book,” at those who want to “sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”:
And yet the final document, approved on Saturday, October 24, is entirely a hymn to mercy, from the first line to the last:
Only that there is not even one word, in this document, that would pry the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church away from that “no” to communion for the divorced and remarried which was the true wall to be knocked down in the plan of the innovators, the opening that would have led straight to the admission of divorce and remarriage.
The enterprise lasted for two years, from the announcement of the two-part synod to its conclusion. And the February 2014 launch was dazzling, with German theologian and cardinal Walter Kasper, a lifelong reformer, charged by Francis with setting the agenda for the cardinals gathered in consistory.
The selection of Kasper as the lead was in fact a design in itself. For thirty years he had been battling with his historical opponent, fellow countryman Joseph Ratzinger, he too a theologian and then cardinal and then finally pope, and precisely on the two capital questions of the synod just concluded: communion for the divorced and remarried and the balance of power between universal Church and local Churches.
Ratzinger had emerged victorious on both fronts even as cardinal, strong with the authority of John Paul II. But having become pope himself, he neither ostracized nor humiliated his opponent. On the contrary, he kept him close with the prestigious position of president of the pontifical council for Christian unity.
Until everything came back into play with Francis. And with him Kasper rose again as the activist leader of the innovators, with Ratzinger in silence and prayer in his hermitage as pope emeritus.
The error of the innovators was in going too far. At the synod of October 2014 they wove into the “Relatio” halfway through the discussion a series of provocative formulas that led to an immediate outcry over a revolution in Catholic doctrine not only on marriage, but also on homosexuality.
But those formulas did not reflect in the least what had been said in the assembly. And the backlash was deadly. Two highly authoritative cardinals, the Hungarian Péter Erdö and the South African Wilfrid Fox Napier, publicly denounced the maneuver and singled out special secretary of the synod Bruno Forte as the main author of the strongarm tactic. The final “Relatio” omitted the improper passages and took homosexuality off the working agenda.
But the question of communion for the divorced and remarried remained completely open. And in view of the second and last session of the synod, Pope Francis reconfirmed Forte as special secretary and reinforced the team of the innovators with targeted appointments.
That brings us to this October.
The letter that thirteen famous cardinals, including Napier, sent to the pope on the first day irritated the recipient but obtained the desired result: that the previous year’s maneuvers not be repeated.
In the assembly and in the linguistic circles it came out right away that opposition to communion for the divorced and remarried was widespread, especially among the bishops of North America, Eastern Europe, and above all Africa.
The election of the council that acts as a bridge between one synod and another rewarded with massive votes three of the thirteen signers of the letter, cardinals George Pell, Robert Sarah, and Napier, plus three more cardinals and bishops of the same outlook.
It was at this point that the “Germanicus” circle, dominated by Kasper, made the decision to fall back on a minimal solution, which at that point was seen as the only one that could be presented in the assembly with a chance of success: that of entrusting to the “internal forum,” meaning to the confessor together with the penitent, the “discernment” of cases in which to allow “access to the sacraments.”
It is a solution that Benedict XVI himself had not ruled out, if only as a hypothesis still in need of “further study and clarification.” And in fact it was even endorsed in the “Germanicus” circle by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith and a staunch Ratzingerian.
In the draft of the synod’s final document, in the three paragraphs on the divorced and remarried, the “German” solution is transcribed en bloc. But with a few key cuts, the only way it could pass the test of the vote.
And so in the definitive text, approved by more than two thirds of the synod fathers, the words “access to the sacraments” are no longer there, they are left to the imagination. Neither is the word “communion,” nor any equivalent term. In short, no explicit change on the key point.
The final decision is up to Francis and to him alone. But the synod that he so strongly desired has pronounced itself far from his expectations.
We at The American Catholic often receive unsolicited manuscripts. What follows is from a lengthy collection of documents, smelling faintly of brimstone, that purport to be the notes of a Mr. Wormwood taken while he was attending a class colorfully entitled Damnation 201. The documents are dated, but the dates given are gibberish:
Ah, Sleek Sylph looks especially delicious. Oof, Professor Thornbit is saying this could be on the final. Concentrate Wormwood!
Thornbit: After what mortals call death patients who escape our clutches are designated Saints by the Enemy. The penalty for a tempter allowing a patient to become a Saint is as final as it is terrible, albeit succulent for those of us who gain sustenance from those of you who prove incompetent. Here are ten simple rules to prevent you from ending up on my table.
1. Encourage your patient to violate those laws the Enemy calls his Ten Commandments. Emphasize to the patient that these are unmerciful rules that do not allow for the complexity of life. You will find, at least those of you who are not a waste of Hellfire, that the term “complexity” is ever useful in causing a patient to ignore the clear commands of the Enemy.
2. Most patients, ludicrously, are proud of their intellects. Encourage the cretins in this, as one of the few true human sayings is that “pride goeth before a fall.”
3. If you can, make your patient an atheist; the shock of such patients when they arrive here is an amusement that is indescribable. Take care however, some who claim atheism merely hate the Enemy and the Enemy has a way of turning strong hate into strong love in an instant if you are not careful. Also, make certain that your patient embraces atheism as a substitute religion and not as a proposition that he may rethink given evidence to the contrary. The Enemy and his agents are too cursed good at argument, and in providing evidence, against the useful absurdity of atheism.
4. The patient should be taught to regard every mortal he encounters as a potential victim for him to exploit. Although humans tend to be selfish animals, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Honest affection and even love can spring from the most unlikely of mortals if his tempter is not ever vigilant.
5. Sexual excess, especially if channeled into what the Enemy considers perversions, can be a useful aid to propel a patient along our Downward Path. However, lazy tempters view this as a foolproof temptation at their peril. That abomination that the Enemy calls love can spring from the most wonderfully sordid sexual entanglements if the tempter of a patient does not take proper precautions. Continue reading
All Souls Day will be tomorrow and I thought this would be a good time to start a post where we can pray for our dead:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
I ask Lord that the souls of Larry McClarey, Donald D. McClarey, Mary McClarey, Raymond McClarey, Thelma McClarey, Ralph McClarey, Chuck McClarey, Roscoe McClarey, Betty Taylor, Chris Bissey, Rowena Barry, Nanny Barry, Alice Moore and Dyke Moore, and some poor soul known only to You, may even now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. May we all share in the joy of those who see You face to face.
List the souls you wish to pray for in the comboxes.
A cute PSA from ASPCA; it features The Purring (1980), The Texas Chainpaw Meowsacre (1974), Psycat(1960) and Cattie (1976). (Only possibly nasty part is the paper cutout of the mask for the second one– my preschooler didn’t have an issue with any of it, so probably only disturbing if you know what it’s supposed to be.)
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
A source close to Pope Francis this week reported to the media that His Holiness met privately in Washington last week with Tom Brady, the quarterback in New England who defied an NFL order to not deflate balls and cheat during games.
Mr. Brady, the star quarterback in Foxborough, Massachusetts, has been at the center of a nationwide controversy over whether quarterbacks of private football franchises have a legal right to deflate footballs used during NFL games.
On Tuesday night, Brady’s lawyer, Benjamin D. Alexander, said that Mr. Brady was sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon. Francis gave Brady his rosary and told him to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. Brady met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security guards and aides.
“I put my hand out and he reached and grabbed the football I was spinning in my hand, and I hugged him and he hugged me,” Brady said Wednesday in an interview with EOTT. “He thanked me for my courage, then began to deflate the football. We both started laughing and we high-fived.”
“I had tears coming out of my eyes,” Brady went on to say. “I’m kind of a big deal, so it was really humbling for him to think I would want to meet or know him. It made me feel good to do something like that for somebody who’s not as good looking as I am.”
For the most part, Francis avoided any inflammatory talk about NFL controversies during his U.S. trip, and early in his papacy even signaled a tolerant attitude about cheaters with his now famous comment, “Who am I to deflate?” In his final Mass in Philadelphia just hours before his departure back to Rome, Francis said that God is revealed through the “covenant of one man and one ball.” Continue reading
Something for a Halloween weekend. Hey there Cthulhu. A minor vice of mine is a love for old pulp science fiction and fantasy. One of the authors I treasure is H.P. Lovecraft, best known for his cycle of horror science fiction\fantasy stories centering around the Old Ones, evil supernatural entities that lurk in dark dimensions, waiting to unleash unspeakable horror on unsuspecting humanity. The best known of these demonic creatures is Cthulhu. I have always found these stories gut-bustingly funny due to the fact that Lovecraft, in these stories, has to be the worst writer of fiction, at least fiction that does not contain phrases like “Love’s Savage Unending Fury”, “The Davinci Code”, “Based On A True Story”, and “Stephen King”, since Bulwer-Lytton shuffled off to the world beyond. Some things are so spectactularly bad that I find myself liking them due to how hair-raisingly inept they are.
One of my favorite stops at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield.
The Thirty-third Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in the month of September, 1861, by Colonel Chas. E. Hovey, and mustered into the United States service by Captain T. G. Pitcher, U. S. A. Continue reading
The usual open thread rules apply: be brief, be charitable and, above all, be amusing.
Colleagues, it is time for us to take a stand. It has come to our attention that some of our members have come under attack from a group of right-wing Catholics who have no academic credentials: not a theological degree among them. As far as we can tell, none of them are even college graduates. They are all white (of course) and all male (of course). Some of them have produced texts that have been used against our fellow Catholic academics, often resulting in cries of heresy being raised by people who share their narrow, blinkered view of Catholicism. This is intolerable in the twenty-first century for brilliant scholars to be held to account by ignorant yahoos. We therefore ask you to append your names to the attached open letter and e-mail it back to us for future publication. United, we can prevail over this assault of anti-intellectualism masquerading as Catholicism! Continue reading
Alas, I must part company with our bruin friend in his most recent tongue-in-bear-cheek post at Saint Corbinian’s Bear:
Blogs are essential to the well-informed and motivated Catholic. Therefore, it is important to know which blogs are edifying, while avoiding the gimcrack offerings of slipshod shysters. To this end, the Bear offers the following qualifications you should demand from anyone who seeks your valuable time and attention. If you follow the Bear’s advice, you will avoid bloggers who are just sensationalistic click-prostitutes out to make a buck.
The kind of blogger you want must combine the following education and experience.
A blogger must be able to persuade people to follow the right course of action. Someone equally skilled in forensic debating and arguing before regular folks is required. To give an example of someone who should not be in Catholic media is a journalist. Journalists strive to maintain a detached objectivity. Is that who we’re looking for in these dark days? No. We need advocates!
A good blogger should be able to sort out competing claims using a well-developed instinct. He should be able to employ relentless questioning to wring the truth out of unwilling witnesses. He must have a razor sharp intellect.
A good blogger, it goes without saying, should be more than a pretty face. In fact, good looks are definitely not a requirement, because, after all, this is not television! He should be capable of writing his own material, employing all the tools of the wordsmith: interview, narrative, analysis, and even humor and irony. He must be persuasive, even as he remains fair and accurate.
A good blogger is capable of doing his own tireless research. He must be able to put together the jigsaw puzzle of complicated situations, and determining the means, motives and opportunities of the various actors.
If you look at these qualifications, you’ll see that there is really only one profession that should be allowed to blog:
The blogger must have a JD. Lawyers are even licensed, so you know they’re legit. Are journalists licensed? No. Anybody can call himself a journalist and scribble for whoever will hire him.
But, still, something is missing. Not just any lawyer will do. Not even a good one. He must have an appeal that combines scary and cute.
When necessary, he should have the talent to employ the Old Razzle Dazzle. This requires extensive experience in secular show business:
It’s all show business kid,
These trials, the whole world, show business.
But kid, you’re workin’ with a star, the biggest!
So, unless your blogger combines all of these qualifications, he’s just in it for the money and should be avoided at all costs. Continue reading