Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Mormon/Evangelical Rupture

Mitt the Mormon

A while back I heard a knock on my door, and hardly to my surprise, two young, dapperly presented Mormons smiled and asked politely if I had a moment to kibitz religion. Sure. It was an uneventful day and I had been reading up on the intricacies of Mormonism, so the opportunity to probe the issue further with a pair of enthusiastic Mormons was a golden opportunity, from my perspective. So I invited them inside. The proselytizing preps. accepted my offer with √©lan; maybe they had a future convert in their midst…regardless, in the very least they could warm up a bit. It was freezing outside, a cool autumn was exiting stage right and a biting Wisconsin winter was set to make its presence known and felt. So my new friends shed their black coats to reveal their crisp, starched-white shirts and black ties and we sat at the dinning room table. I will be the first to say that Mormons are among the nicest people you will ever meet. My two “Elders” were impeccably courteous, with manners that harkened back to the black and white days of Ward and June Cleaver.

I distinctly remember wanting to offer them something to drink, preferably something warm, but I was also vaguely aware of some of the dietary regulations of Mormonism which put a prohibition on the intake of alcohol or caffeine. (Mormon teachings far more controversial than these have changed in recent memory, so maybe this drink-intake rule too has changed...who knows.) As a Catholic, some of the best discussions I’ve ever delved into congealed over a libation of red wine, or some Italian coffee, complimented quite nicely by a fine cigar…call it the result of a Chestertonian gloss on my Catholicism. Whatever. So, to avoid an awkward faux pas, I poured out a couple glasses of cold, innocuous water to my new guests and we engaged in small talk. But before long, we were fully immersed in the back-and-forth of a theological debate. Immediately, they tried to establish a rapport with my Catholic background by comparing the organization and structure of the Mormon hierarchy to the Catholic Church, implying that a leap of faith to Mormonism would be a comfortable, common sense move for me. While giving credit for the sincerity and intensity of their faith, I was immediately struck by the rote nature of their responses to my queries. I asked repeatedly, “Do you believe that Christ is the Son of God, coequal and coeternal with the Father?” Came the reply, “We believe Jesus Christ is our Savior who died and rose for our sins…” Again and again, as if on cue or programmed, it was the same response. Why the equivocating? Having done my homework, I already knew the answer. So Mormons have rejected the preeminent teaching from the 325 AD Council of Nicaea, which definitively settled the question of Christ’s relation to the Father as being homoousia, that is, of the same substance. Then came the Book of Mormon. They presented me with a copy and suggested I pray over it, asking God for guidance. If I did so, they were certain that a “good feeling” would overcome me, convincing me of the veracity of the Mormon creed. Religious infallibility based on a good feeling…? Not bad. If only it were that easy. After about two hours of this genteel give-and-take, we realized that we had reached an impasse. We traded emails, wished each other the best and that was that.

How is this brief vignette relevant for today? Enter the Republican race for the presidential nomination.

Mitt Romney has faced a certain degree of skepticism, and outright hostility, from dyed-in-the-wool Evangelicals for his Mormon religion. To be certain, Mormon claims to the Christian label are deeply suspect from a theological and exegetical perspective. Rejecting and reformulating the most fundamental teaching of Christian doctrine, the nature of Christ as set forth by the Council of Nicaea, is no small matter. It’s no wonder that the Catholic Church, along with most Christian communities, does not recognize the Mormon baptism as a valid one. But Protestant protestations over the Mormon creed nonetheless strike me as somewhat odd. Mormons after all, have merely broadened the flawed yet primordial Protestant proposition of sola scriptura, taking it to its logical next step. To arrive at the definitive teaching of the Council of Nicaea, the pope and the bishops in attendance relied on Scripture, but Tradition was just as fundamental in guiding them; a Tradition that stretched back to the Apostolic days and by extension, to Christ Himself. The irony is that, by accepting the most basic teachings of the Council regarding Christ’s nature, most Protestants are unwittingly accepting the Catholic teaching on the necessity of both Scripture and Tradition for the sustenance of theological integrity. But the adverb “unwittingly” is key here. Another example: Most Protestants readily accept the ancient, Catholic teaching regarding the Trinity, but the word “Trinity” is not to be found in Scripture. But the sacrosanct, guiding rule for Protestants, at least on paper if not always in practice, remains sola scriptura. Or perhaps they do recognize the need for some kind of tradition, but not a Tradition in the Catholic sense. Protestants cannot justifiably reject the indispensability of Sacred Tradition on the one hand and then express pious consternation with Mormons for hammering out on their own a novel doctrine or two about Christ that doesn’t jibe with traditional teaching. Mormons are simply following the Protestant lead first formulated by Martin Luther.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Atheist Chic

The past year or so has witnessed a wave of attacks on traditional religious belief. Christopher Hitchens, among others, published a high-profile, haughty book with the less-than-subtle title, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens is renown for his insidious anti-Catholicism and his particularly vicious attacks on, of all people, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. As the title of his book suggests, Hitchens sets out to prove religion as a force for evil in the world. Theodore Dalrymple has a nice piece here entitled, What the New Atheists Don't See. It's more of an essay than an op-ed piece but it's worth a read.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_4_oh_to_be.html

Friday, October 26, 2007

Too Little, Too Late?


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced yesterday that, in an attempt to persuade the leaders of Iran to back off from their march toward nuclear weapon capabilities, the US will be enforcing new sanctions against Iran. I am pleased that, in the process of making the case for the sanctions, the administration adumbrated the clear danger posed by the Iranian Regime. Said Rice:
The Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shi'a militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Because of the Revolutionary Guard's support for proliferation and because of the Quds force support for terrorism, acting under US law and consistent with our international obligations, the United States today is designating both of these groups. If Iran's rulers choose to continue down a path of confrontation, the United States will act with the international community to resist these threats of the Iranian regime.

National Review does a nice job in puzzling out the details and breadth of these sanctions but the editors also offer an ominous prediction that the sanctions may, in the end, prove ineffective. Time will tell of course, but I find their reckonings persuasive.
That the Islamic Republic engages in terrorism is beyond dispute. It has a long and bloody history of murdering civilians around the world. Hezbollah would not exist without it. It is a vital source of funds and weapons for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. More recently it has turned to Iraq, where it trains and arms Shiite extremists, the better to kill civilians and American soldiers alike.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGEyYzE4ZTgwYzVlMTg0OTRiOTEzODhkZmY0YzkyNzE=

How Liberals View US History

This post comes after Congressman Pete Stark's (Democrat) audacious rant on the House floor last week regarding the President and the Iraq war. To read more, see my post on it from several days ago. (It's the second link below: Stark Raving Mad.) Stark, facing a firestorm of criticism, apologized for his reprehensible contumely but wounds linger. This article brings up the question of how liberals view/interpret American history. Stark's far left-field view of events becomes more clear with this piece. It's worth a read.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Mjc4NGQ3NTQxNDQ3MTI2YzkxY2I4ODRmMTU4MzgwOTQ=

http://catholicpublius.blogspot.com/2007/10/stark-raving-mad.html

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The West


Especially in light of recent events around the world, more discussion has focused on the idea of Western civilization. Prof. Mark C. Henrie offers some insightful thoughts on defining what we mean when we talk about the West. I met Prof. Henrie years back, he guided me and a friend through Cicero's Republic. His account here is worth taking in for consideration.
The standard nineteenth-century accounts of Western civilization understood the West to have four roots. Athens stood emblematically as the source of the West's philosophical traditions. Jerusalem was the source of the West's religious traditions. Rome was the source of the West's legal traditions. And Germany-the German forests, in which had dwelt the Gothic tribes-was the source of the peculiarly Western spirit of liberty and contract. In such an account, the West was merely an alternative term for "Western Christendom." Christianity, after all, had absorbed ancient philosophy; the Church had replaced the Roman Empire as a universal jurisdiction; and the Goths were converted. In such an account, Christianity is the primary "marker" of the West, and so Rome, the eternal city, might be understood as the main taproot among the other, lesser roots. Such an account had, and continues to have, a particular appeal for traditionalist conservatives: the West they seek to defend is Christendom.

Largest Mass Beatification in Church History

Bishop Cruz Laplana y Laguna was martyred for the faith by the Communists.

Pope Benedict XVI will beatify 498 Spaniards this Sunday, all victims of the Civil War that plagued that country in 1936. The Communist forces of the left viciously sought out and butchered thousands of Catholics: bishops, priests, deacons, religious sisters and laymen. The present Socialist government of Spain, predictably, is questioning the timing of the beatification but the fact that so many is Spain died a martyr's death is undeniable. At least the government will be sending a representative to the ceremony. Reading years back about the countless, sickening Communist atrocities against the Church firmly convinced me in my eternal hostility toward all things Communist. It's about time the world recognizes the truth about this Satanic ideology. Here's an excerpt from the story linked below.
Bishop Cruz Laplana y Laguna was taken prisoner by leftist militiamen two days after the war broke out on July 17, 1936. The mayor of this town in central Spain offered to free him with a ruse: send police into the seminary where he was being held, have the bishop dress as a cop and sneak out.

Laplana y Laguna declined — he would not shed his vestments. Two weeks later, the bishop blessed his killers as they took aim and opened fire. "May God forgive you, as I forgive and bless you," he said, according to a book published by the Spanish Bishops Conference.

The government has clashed with the church by legalizing gay marriage and instituting other social reforms, but has taken care not to pick a fight this time. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says he respects the beatification as much as he respects the civil war atonement bill. Jose Andres Torres Mora, a Socialist lawmaker who sponsored the war amends bill, will be among those at the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

Torres Mora's great-uncle, Juan Duarte Martin, is being beatified. He was a 24-year-old deacon when the militia tortured and killed him. "I am honoring him both ways," the lawmaker said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071025/ap_on_re_eu/spain_beatification

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Thousand Words


Mrs. Bush is traversing the Middle East to raise awareness of a subject considered taboo in the region: breast cancer. From the looks of it, there are other issues relevant to the female sex in Muslim lands that deserve attention. And spare me the charge of cultural insensitivity. I would refer readers to the Horowitz piece in the post below where he discusses how women are treated in some segments of Muslim society.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_he_me/saudi_breast_cancer

A Clean Break


Newt Gingrich often says that unless Republicans in '08 make the case that they represent a clean break from the status-quo, Democrats stand a good chance of winning. This study by the Cato Institute shows us what Gingrich means: Bush is the biggest spender since LBJ. Defense spending is one thing and as long as the troops are in danger it's a necessary thing but I would like to see how much this percentage would be cut if Bush would have shown more discretion in the arena of "domestic spending" when the GOP ran Congress.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/20767.html

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

Is the term Islamo-fascism an appropriate appellation for the current threat we face in the Middle East? A few months back it seemed that politicians, President Bush included, were eager to use it when talking about the War on Terror. Academic elites recoiled, calling it simplistic and senselessly provocative and the President relented.

David Horowitz answers some questions regarding the Islamo-fascist threat. He believes the term is deeply relevant and appropriate. This week, he is travelling to American universities, addressing students on the subject. He has an appropriate term of his own in Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. He came to the University of Madison earlier in the week and faced a firestorm of criticism, while organizers of the event received hateful emails from lefties that are a dime a dozen in Madison.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDI5NDA2YTFiMDkyZTJkYjI3NDIyMzhlOTc5MDc3ZjM=

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hope in Iraq


Here are some pull quotes from the AP story linked below:

"I've never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we've made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We've said that all along. And now they're coming forward in masses." - Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch

"People are fed up with fear, intimidation and being brutalized. Once they hit that tipping point, they're fed up, they come to realized we truly do provide them better hope for the future. What we're seeing now is the beginning of a snowball." - Lt. Col. Val Keaveny, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071023/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_deaths_decline
____
For years now, I've debated with good people who were against the war. When things were quite ugly in Iraq and it looked hopeless, the dire situation somehow seemed to emboldened war opponents in the righteousness of their anti-war position. "We made our bed, now we must sleep in it..." And so on. I've remained consistent in my position throughout the dark moments. I supported the war initiative from its inception in '03 and continue to do so. I am convinced that the strategy is a noble one. I didn't allow the tactical blunders from the Rumsfeld era to sway my fundamental belief in the justness of the war effort. Of course, many good people may come to a different conclusion but it was much easier to take up the anti-war position when defeat seemed like a real possibility. We'll see with what eagerness the media reports the most recent turn of events in Mesopotamia.

The only thing that really sticks in my craw is when people deny the obvious: that there is real, lasting progress in Iraq and further, when they (mostly liberal Democrats) seem to want to give up just as things are starting to turn around. The same old song is unrelenting: "We need to change course in Iraq." "The president needs to change the direction of this war, etc." It's just the same old ballyhoo that's lost all connection to reality. Let's see, we have a new Secretary of Defense, a new General on the ground with a brilliant new counter-insurgency strategy...What else could be changed? Unless "change" is simply a euphemism for surrender.

Pakistan's Mess


Here's a decent article in Newsweek that tries to puzzle out the situation in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto's return there offers hope. But is the government in Pakistan serious about coming down hard on the terrorists settling in the villages and living among the people with virtual impunity?
http://www.newsweek.com/id/57485

Global Warming

Here's a worthwhile piece on global warming by Pat Buchanan.
We are told global warming was responsible for the hurricane summer of Katrina and Rita that devastated Texas, Mississippi and New Orleans. Yet Dr. William Gray, perhaps the nation's foremost expert on hurricanes, says he and his most experienced colleagues believe humans have little impact on global warming and global warming cannot explain the frequency or ferocity of hurricanes. After all, we had more hurricanes in the first half of the 20th century than in the last 50 years, as global warming was taking place.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/staticarticles/article58279.html

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thoughts on the Debate


Last night’s GOP debate was something of a watershed moment for me, call it a political epiphany, if you will, regarding the Republican chances against Hillary Clinton next year. To be sure, Clinton shouldn't be underestimated, but she certainly can be beaten. Her aura of inevitability and invincibility is fading somewhat and the eagerness and ease with which Republicans took aim at her was very encouraging. Clinton simply has too much baggage that will come back to haunt her and ultimately this will doom her chance at becoming president. Karl Rove was right in defining her as a “fatally flawed” candidate. Democrats should wise up and choose someone else: I’m thinking something along the lines of an Obama/Richardson ticket. Clinton is a deceptively good choice to settle on, but just scratch that surface and the stench of corruption hits you in the face. She’s a perfect kamikaze candidate: “I have a million ideas and America can’t afford all of them.” So said the queen-in-waiting not too long ago. Giuliani had a field day with her on that one. “No kidding Hillary, America can’t afford you!” John McCain whipped Clinton for her recent support for a one-million dollar Woodstock concert museum. “I wasn’t there, I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event” said McCain, “I was tied up at the time,” referring to his time spent in the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam as a POW. Ouch! Savor that. The debates between Hillary and GOP candidate McCain/Giuliani/Thompson/Romney are going to be delicious. So much of what Hillary has said or done in the past can be thrown right back at her. Incidentally, I’m beginning to sense an emerging Giuliani/McCain ticket, or vice versa. Either one of these men would eviscerate Clinton on the debate stage.



What also caught my eye last night was how eager the Republican candidates were to identify themselves as conservatives, and further, to duke it out over who was more conservative than the next guy. In contrast, the Democrat candidates do not have a philosophical point of reference to signal out as their guiding principle. Or if they do have one (call it liberalism), they dare not publicly tout and embrace it. Granted, they are all hardened liberals, but they cannot embrace that label with gusto since they recognize that America is a center-right nation. There’s no chomping at the bit among Clinton, Edwards and Obama to prove who is the most “liberal.” They are simply running against Bush and in doing so they are allowing themselves and their message to be defined by someone who will not even be on the ballot in ’08. Take heart Republicans.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A "Pro-War" Post Office?

Beatniks, upset over posters of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on display in a post office, complained that such a display amounted to "pro-war" propaganda. The displays were hastily removed.
“It’s an emotional issue and people look at their post office as a hub of the community, but the post office is there to do postal business and it’s not a place to post things or make displays,” said postal spokesman Richard Maher.

After a firestorm of criticism erupted over the removal, efforts are underway to put the posters back on display. Only a dyed-in-the-wool liberal would throw such tantrums over something so innocuous as images of US troops. And again another irony surfaces when the protesters lash out at the bulwarks that defend their freedom to protest, and make total fools of themselves, in the first place.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/breakingnews/story/171384.html

Friday, October 19, 2007

Confronting Iran


Just listening to the bluster of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is vexing enough. Indeed, if he were simply a second-rate, globetrotting political pariah, posing no serious threat beyond the bounds of his mendacious rants, “vexing” would suffice as an appropriate nomenclature. If that were the case, we could deal with his pugnacity by tuning him out, passing over the stories of his bombast with a roll of the eyes and chalk it up to the presence of yet another pandering populist in a world of plenty. Good riddance. We could afford to ignore him and move on with our lives. The truth is, beyond the faux-smiles, slick charm and media polish, Ahmadinejad is a man who poses a grave threat to world order. In saying that, I’m not talking about simply rocking the boat inside the rarefied halls of the increasingly irrelevant UN Security Council or General Assembly. The reach of Ahmadinejad is not just the business, and mess, of diplomats and politicians. No, every American stands to lose through his dark machinations.

But who is this wily Iranian leader? He pops up here and there, making assertions, one more incredulous than the last. Yes, Ahmadinejad calls into question the severity and extent of the holocaust’s horrors. Yes, he claims that within the borders of his tightly controlled nation, the “phenomenon” of homosexuality does not exist (maybe because homosexuals are simply executed by the state, “problem” solved). And yes, he thunders against Israel, calling for its destruction, and he wows the international crowd at the UN with lofty prose about his own role in hastening the arrival of the Twelfth Imam and the end times. After his characteristic litany of absurdities, the average person can only shake his head in disbelief and then proceed on with the far more relevant minutia of his daily life. Talk is cheap, he’s not worth the attention. Does Ahmadinejad’s outrageous drivel really make him a dangerous man or merely a delusional one…or perhaps both? I’ll cut to the chase by answering in the affirmative. He is a very dangerous man who needs to be taken seriously. And I’ll up the ante by suggesting that leaders of the West, President Bush in particular, had better start taking concrete steps toward bringing Ahmandinejad’s nefarious pet projects to a grinding halt. “Talk is cheap” cuts both ways and to give credit where credit is due, Ahmadinejad understands this. It’s clear that the tough talk fired by the West in recent months has failed to vitiate Iranian intrigues on at least two fronts that effect the security of the United States: First, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and second, its poisonous meddling in Iraq that has unquestionably resulted in American deaths.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Iran, back in 2006, had already “mastered the technology of enriching uranium in a ‘cascade’ of centrifuges. Many nuclear analysts consider this the point of no return toward a bomb. Intelligence reports also suggested that Iran had designs for casting uranium into hemispherical shapes…for marrying a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile.” How has the United Nations responded? By passing feckless resolutions promising tougher action down the road. Sound familiar to anyone? And then there is the pressing issue of Iran’s involvement in destabilizing Iraq. Last February, President Bush said the following: “I can speak with certainty that the Qods Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops.” And the same Wall Street Journal piece asserted that “Administration officials tell us that Iranian-backed militias using Iranian-supplied arms now account for 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq.” Iran’s destabilization interventions are not limited to Iraq. NATO’s senior commander in Kabul averred that “it would be hard for me to imagine that they [the insurgents] come into Afghanistan without the knowledge of at least the military in Iran.” There are reasonable sanctions that could be implemented in the search for a remedy. Quite often, those advocating a tougher stance on the Iran issue are accused of reckless bellicosity and “saber rattling.” But war is always a last resort, less drastic measures, at least for now, are still on the table and are worth a try. Former State Department counterterrorism official Michael Kraft has suggested an embargo against Iran Air by refusing to allow any landing space for Iran’s state airline in Western airports. Says Kraft, “The boycott would further increase the Iranian public’s disenchantment, particularly among the middle class and commercial sector, with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s failure to improve Iran’s economy.” The tightening of the noose on Ahmadinejad’s economy may jolt the average Iranian concerned about the future of his nation to act in concert with his fellow citizens to decipher ingenious ways to effect a regime change, sans recourse to all-out war.

This is just an overview of a number of serious problems that need to be addressed, and soon. Words are only words, but Ahmadinejad has shown us something more. He’s not intimidated by the toothless harrying of the United Nations. And, truthfully, why should he be? He has learned from recent history not to be worried about UN-manufactured threats. The one man he conceivably fears is President Bush, a leader who has shown that he’s not going to be cowed or hamstrung by the ne'er-do-wells at the UN. But to date, Ahmadinejad has been able to evade the talons of a distracted Bush. The Iranian president is testing how far he can go and is pushing, while the world keeps falling back, only to draw a new line in the sand. He pushes again and again…

In Iraq, No News IS Big News


Here's ABC's Charlie Gibson the other night on the situation in Iraq:

Gibson: One item from Baghdad today. The news is... that there is no news. The police told us that, to their knowledge, there were no major acts of violence. Attacks are down in Baghdad and today no bombings or roadside explosions were reported.

Sounds like news to me. Too bad these folks in the mainstream media aren't talking more about the astonishing turn of events in Iraq.

A Global Warming Primer

Here's a 40-page primer on global warming in a pdf file. It offers a sensible look at the issue using facts and science, not histrionics and doctored-up images of polar bears.

Here's a helpful fact to contemplate: 99.6% of CO2 emissions come from nature while only 3.4% come from human initiatives. But somehow, switching to hybrid cars and carpooling will save the planet.

http://www.ncpa.org/globalwarming/GlobalWarmingPrimer.pdf

From Muslim Leaders to Pope, with Love

Mona Charen has a nice commentary on the mealy-mouthed letter written to the Pope by a smorgasbord of Muslim leaders.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTMwNWU0NjM1MDAxYWFjZjNiMmU0NDM5OGFhNmUwMzM=

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stark Raving Mad


For those already inured to highfalutin, nonsensical rants from liberal Democrats, this next example should come as no big surprise. But just maybe it will serve as the rhetorical icing on the cake. California Representative and Democrat Pete Stark had a meltdown on the floor of Congress and in the process made a convenient fool of himself and his Party with the following contemptible statement while addressing his Republican adversaries:
"Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

If you can stomach it, follow this link to watch the clip:
http://breitbart.tv/html/6912.html

Outraged Republicans have filed a protest to Nancy Pelosi and are demanding that the churlish congressman either apologize or resign. House Republican Leader John Boehner released the following statement:

"Our troops in Iraq are fighting against al-Qaeda and other radical jihadists hellbent on killing the people we are sent here to represent. Congressman Stark's statement dishonors not only the Commander-in-Chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America's armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security. Congressman Stark should retract his statement and apologize to the House, our Commander-in-Chief, and the families of our soldiers and commanders fighting terror overseas."

This is the latest attempt by the Left to forge a new victim class. They've done it to women, they've done it to minorities, blacks in particular, they've done it to the so-called poor and now they are turning to the United States military. The life-blood of liberalism and the Democratic Party is a steady flow of victims who can rely on the beneficence of politicians to extricate them from their alleged state of squalor. The military does not need to be saved by sanctimonious Democrats. Those serving knew what they were signing up for and it is thoroughly condescending and insulting for elitists in Washington to speak of them as stranded children in harm's way.

In better days, Rep. Stark caught the attention of the folks at the esteemed Secular Coalition for America, who were keen to offer a $1,000 prize to the person who could single out the "highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States." Stark describes himself as "a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being." How can we describe this liberal gadfly...?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pope Names New Cardinals


Two Americans and the Patriarch of Baghdad were among the 23 newly named Cardinals.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071017/ap_on_re_eu/pope_cardinals

Dems Take Aim at Turkey

A Turkish Soldier

This aptly titled article, Congressional Turkeys, sums up nicely the motives behind the Democratic majority. By jeopardizing our fragile alliance with Turkey, Democrats are putting our mission in Iraq at risk. And it cannot be overlooked that foolhardy Democrats, by pushing this genocide declaration forward and by complicating an alliance with a friendly nation, are committing the same blunder they have pinned on the Bush Administration. What about all that talk about "restoring our global image" and our "frayed alliances"?

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGJiMTEzNmVkZjgyMjcwOTlkZDg5NDk4NmZkYWRlNmE=

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iran


Anyone interested in learning the truth behind Iran's Revolutionary Guard should read this Wall Street Journal piece.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/bstephens/?id=110010739

Hillary's Hypocrisy


What does Hillary Clinton think about civil liberties and eavesdropping on private phone conversations? In August, she voted against a law that would have expanded the government's ability to monitor, without a warrant, phone conversations in the US for national security purposes. Taking her cue from the American Civil Liberties Union, Clinton said recently, “And when it comes to a regular program of searching for information that touches the privacy of ordinary Americans, those programs need to be monitored and reviewed as set out by Congress in cooperation with the judiciary...That is the essence of the compact we have with each other and with our government, and we cannot ignore it.”

Sounds nice, rather judicious even.

A new book entitled Her Way, written by New York Times reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth, covers Clinton's controversial rise to power. It spends a generous amount of time focusing on her activities in the early nineties, as she sought to prevent the seemingly endless stream of "bimbo eruptions" from gaining traction. Here's an excerpt from the book:

“Hillary’s defense activities ranged from the inspirational to the microscopic to the down and dirty. She received memos about the status of various press inquiries; she vetted senior campaign aides; and she listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack."

So, listening in to phone conversations between possible terrorists plotting to murder Americans: bad. Spying on political opponents: politically expedient, even necessary.

Expect to hear more about this in the months ahead.
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/gop-targeting-clinton-on-phone-call-snooping-2007-10-16.html

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beating Cancer

Cancer death rates in the US are plummeting across the board and liberals like Hillary Clinton are talking about revamping our health care system akin to the European and Canadian socialized models, where survival rates are much lower. As it is well known, Canadians frequently cross the border into the US for life-saving remedies here because of long waiting lists for treatment in their homeland.

Not only are leading Democratic candidates national security hazards, but with their plans for the increased bureaucratization of health care, their candidacies further pose a national health hazard.

http://health.yahoo.com/news/180358

Newt Gets It Right

This runs about 5 minutes but it is very sobering. Gingrich talks about the future security of America and the world. It dates from a few months back, which explains the gloomy Iraq assessment, when things did indeed look quite bleak.

The New York Times at War

A substantial part of my graduate thesis grappled with the controversial subject of media bias in America. Within this discussion, I touched on the media's handling of the war in Iraq using numerous examples of questionable reporting that didn't jibe with the facts on the ground. So when I recently came across the story of Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy Seal killed in Afghanistan, I was naturally interested. That his story, which includes a posthumous Medal of Honor, was intentionally overlooked and denied any substantial coverage in The New York Times only backs up my original thesis that powerful elements in the mainstream media have become thinly veiled liberal front groups and, for political purposes, have failed in their duty to report stories in their entirety.

National Review keeps a military blog called The Tank. The latest post is worth a look. Pete Hegseth discusses the transparent doggerel that passes for professional journalism within The New York Times, among others. Particularly noteworthy is how the Times completely ignored Lieutenant Murphy's heroism and his posthumous recognition while so many other media outlets chose to feature the story.









http://tank.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MDI1NDBhYmFiNWFmMDA3NWFhMTNiM2QwY2E4YzhiNWU=

Steyn Rips into Gore

There are few writers out there who can match Mark Steyn for wit, acerbity, accuracy and chutzpah. Here's his latest salvo against the Gore global warming machine.
Climate change, he(Gore) says, is the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced. Ever. And not just humankind, but alienkind, too. "We are," warns Gore, "altering the balance of energy between our planet and the rest of the universe".

Wow. It's not just the Maldive Islands, but the balance of energy between Earth and the rest of the universe. You wouldn't happen to have the stats on that, would you? Universal "balance of energy" graphs for 1940 and 1873?

Meanwhile, Gore is now being urged to jump into the presidential race and save Democrats from the allegedly too-hawkish Hillary Clinton. I doubt he will.

But you'll know he's considering it if he starts slimming down faster than the Antarctic shelf. When Al Gore starts getting carb-neutral, we're really in trouble.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22584694-7583,00.html

Al-Qaeda in Iraq "Crippled"?

The Washington Post has an astonishing story today that reports on the status of the crumbling terror network in Iraq. While caution reigns, the progress there is undeniable and encouraging. The story must impress renewed hope upon those who believed the situation broken beyond repare. We've already heard the Senate leader of the US Congress (Democrat Harry Reid) declare the war "lost". One wonders if he will chance upon the Post today.
There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months. Among the indicators cited is a sharp drop in suicide bombings, the group's signature attack, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders over the summer had what a senior military intelligence official called a "cascade effect," leading to other killings and captures. The flow of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq has also diminished, although officials are unsure of the reason and are concerned that the broader al-Qaeda network may be diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The deployment of more U.S. and Iraqi forces into AQI strongholds in Anbar province and the Baghdad area, as well as the recruitment of Sunni tribal fighters to combat AQI operatives in those locations, has helped to deprive the militants of a secure base of operations, U.S. military officials said. They are less and less coordinated, more and more fragmented," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said recently. Describing frayed support structures and supply lines, Odierno estimated that the group's capabilities have been "degraded" by 60 to 70 percent since the beginning of the year.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21299285/

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Death of Prestige


Whatever respect I once professed for the merits of the Nobel Peace Prize (after all, Mother Teresa was a wise and obvious choice back in the day) has all but vanished, much like those icebergs on the polar caps. And it's not simply because I am a conservative leaning lad and they awarded the prestigious prize to Al Gore, an apostle of liberalism. If Gore had accomplished something that truly contributed to the well being of mankind by some astonishing breakthrough I would understand the decision of the committee. The most disturbing thing about the whole process is that those who dispense with the award have become nothing more than a left-wing front group for the promotion of liberal causes. The UN might as well award it. The man-made global warming nonsense is an absolute hoax, perhaps one of the most widely accepted hoaxes in recent memory. Dr. William Gray, a highly regarded climatologist, recently lambasted the theories behind Gore's crusade as utterly groundless. The article linked here is a good one to keep handy.

Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.
"We're brainwashing our children...They're going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It's ridiculous." Prof. Gray

The global warming hysteria is not motivated by a desire to better living conditions, that is merely a red-herring. In fact, many of the policies advocated by the fanatics, such as unreasonable energy saving schemes and DDT restriction work to the detriment of humanity. DDT was widely used to kill malaria-infected mosquitoes in third-world countries. But after feverish lobbying by environmental fanatics, who claimed that DDT was damaging the environment, DDT has been restricted and hundreds of thousands have died from malaria. No, this is all about the government amassing power and exercising more control over our lives. And I've written in the past that the pseudo-religious undertones of the movement cannot be ignored. It's religion for the godless. That's not to say that everyone subscribing to the man-made global warming craze is godless. Many have had the wool pulled over their eyes in the absence of a better organized and less vocal opposition movement. Of course, the mainstream media has already taken sides, aligning themselves firmly with the environmentalist fanatics. Those like Dr. Gray are swimming against the current.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/gore-gets-a-cold-shoulder/2007/10/13/1191696238792.html

Here's a piece on the DDT/malaria connection:
http://www.mises.org/story/2236

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Greenspan and Economic Sense

A quick read and a little review of supply-side basics:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTBlMjFhZmY4ZmZmM2FlZjRhYjY0NjdjZTIyMmVkZTc=

Conservatives in Exile?

Here's an interesting piece on the Conservative dilemma with Rudy Giuliani. It brings up some salient points with regard to Executive responsibilities and promoting a culture of life at the national and international level. As the article demonstrates, Bush is to be applauded for his efforts in this arena. For all his faults, he has proven himself a courageous leader in the defense of the dignity of the person.
The “Pro-life, Pro-family” voting contingent require a candidate who sees threats as they do — as the pervasive efforts of cultural and social elites— and who is vigilant, and active, and courageous in response to these threats. President George W. Bush has been that champion, and his administration has proven just how much more there is for a conservative president to do to than to select judges, even Supreme Court justices.

For years now an effort has been underway at the United Nation, for instance, to reinterpret international law in the hope of creating a universal right to abortion on demand. Various forces at the U.N. also seek to redefine the family, to establish complete sexual autonomy for adolescents, to create a worldwide right to homosexual marriage, to depress world fertility rates, and to legalize cloning in order to create human embryos for medical research.

Bush has countered this entire agenda in spite of its yielding nothing politically for his efforts; in other words, Bush has acted as an authentic “Pro-life, Pro-family” advocate. Early in his administration, he established specific orders for his diplomats at the U.N.; they were handed a text, to be recited whenever controversy arose on life issues: the U.S. does not interpret any language in the current document to establish new international rights, especially a right to abortion. With this simple act, Bush defeated so many sophisticated plans, hatched in the world’s finest law universities, think tanks, and international agencies, and the cosmopolitan world of international elites seethed.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZjQ5ZDk3MjJmNTJhMjFmMWRiNDEzNmU5NTkwNWZhMWI=

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Setting the Record Straight



An AP story reported on comments made today by Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke regarding the reception of Communion by politicians who support abortion "rights". Here's an excerpt from the story:

"If any politician approached me and he'd been admonished not to present himself, I'd not give it," Burke told The Associated Press Wednesday. "To me, you have to be certain a person realizes he is persisting in a serious public sin."

Asked if the same would apply to politicians who support the death penalty or preemptive war, he said, "It's a little more complicated in that case.
"

Now, this is probably about the one-hundredth time I've heard this kind of argument from media pundits or commentators, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The attempt is to box someone into an apparent contradiction: support for the death penalty or this or that war is incompatible with the pure pro-life message as both war and capital punishment are on par with abortion in the moral sense.

Once again, I'm posting a passage from a letter written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, dating from 2004. The Church's preeminent theologian and now Supreme Pontiff neatly sets the record straight for all those who confuse an intrinsically evil act with one that is not.
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

Here's the link to the AP story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071003/ap_po/giuliani_communion;_ylt=AjcTR8m6tnu4aFSu3VQxHrys0NUE

The Response of a Strong Nation

Polish Troops in Iraq

Polish Ambassador Gen. Edward Pietrzyk was wounded in an assassination attempt while visiting Iraq. At present, Poland has about 1,000 troops in Iraq overseeing security and reconstruction. Rather than using the attack as an excuse to cut and run (ehhem Spain), Poland is standing pat and not budging.

"Desertion is always the worst option," said Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. "This is a difficult situation, but those who became engaged and were there for years and then withdraw are making the worst possible mistake."

In so many ways, Poland distinguishes itself from the rest of Europe's troubled nations. Another example: Recently, Poland refused to back a European Union resolution calling for a ban on the death penalty so long as that body refuses to call for a similar ban on abortion. I hope President Bush realizes what kind of loyal ally he has in Poland.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/middleeastCrisis/idUKL035249020071003

Here's the story on Poland's death penalty/abortion position:
http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=53616

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Personal" Faith and Politics

Here's a good article by George Weigel on the maddeningly inane discussion of religion on the part of so many leftist Catholic politicians. It takes politicos to task for their confusing rants on religion, which more or less go something like this: "My relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life BUT I won't let that have any influence on my decision-making process as a leader." Right. Weigel puts it better.
That ontological change in baptism (and I swear that’s the last time I’ll use the o-word) incorporates a Catholic into the Church. The Church is not incidental to our identity as new creations in Christ; we don’t “join” the Church the way we join the Rotary, the Kiwanis, the American Association of University Women, the A.M.A., the American Legion, or my beloved Society for the Restoration of Lost Positives (“ept,” “ert,” etc.). Being a Catholic Christian engages who-I-am in a substantively different way than any other aspect of my “identity” — not because I think that’s the case, or because I feel that’s the case, but because that is the case: objectively, not subjectively. Baptism has real effects; it changes us forever.

So when a candidate for public office avers, on the one hand, that his or her “membership in the faith community” is deeply personal, or a matter of “my relationship with Jesus,” and then suggests that being a Catholic Christian is a compartment of life that can be hermetically sealed off from first principles of justice (i.e., the principles involved in abortion, euthanasia, and embryo-destructive stem-cell research), we’re dealing with a confused camper — one might even say, a camper with a severe identity-crisis.

http://www.archden.org/dcr/news.php?e=437&s=3&a=9171

Phony Outrage

Every once and a while, I wonder if my stubborn, unrelenting distrust of the Democratic leadership in Congress is justified. After all, it was Jefferson himself who reminded his fellow Americans over two centuries ago that “every difference in opinion is not a difference in principle...We are all brethren of the same principle.” Those were back in the days when men of principle could argue different positions on the merits of the case. Yes, those were the days. A growing controversy involving Rush Limbaugh has firmly recommitted me in my distrust of leading Democrats.

During a conversation with an animated caller about the Iraq war, Limbaugh used the expression “phony soldiers” and then went on to describe in-depth a high profile case involving Jesse MacBeth. MacBeth has been charged with lying about his status as an Army Ranger, lying about his “tour” in Iraq and lying about “atrocities” committed by him and American soldiers in Iraq. The most graphic of which involved Americans allegedly burning Iraqis to death and then hanging their charred corpses from rafters in mosques. MacBeth’s lies were translated into Arabic and widely disseminated in the Arab world. In addition to MacBeth, there have been several instances of individuals fabricating stories about war atrocities in Iraq. In fact, ABC News aired a story (before Rush’s comments) entitled “Phony Heroes” that touched on the same issue. To describe such individuals merely as “phony” is to treat them better than they deserve. Given the Muslim world’s predilection to believe every negative rumor about America, it may prove impossible to do damage control on the consequences of these pernicious lies.

The poltroons at the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters.org alleged astonishingly that Rush trashed soldiers who disagree with Bush on the war as “phony soldiers.” Taking their marching orders from Media Matters, congressional Democrats have taken to the floor of the House and Senate to demand that Rush apologize for his “slander.” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is passing a scathing letter around the Senate to demand that action be taken by Clear Channel, the parent company that airs Limbaugh’s show. The attacks on Limbaugh for this concocted controversy have been vicious and personal. Said the somnolent Senator Reid:

Last week, Rush Limbaugh went way over the line, way over the line. While I respect his right to say anything he likes, his unpatriotic comments I cannot ignore. During his show last Wednesday, Limbaugh was engaged in one of his typical rants. This one was unremarkable, indistinguishable from his usual drivel, which has been steadily losing listeners for years, [sic] until he crossed that line by calling our men and women in uniform who oppose the war in Iraq, and I quote, "phony soldiers." [sic] This comment was so beyond the pale of decency, and we can't leave it alone. And yet he followed it up with denials and an attack on Congressman Jack Murtha, who was a 37-year active member of the Marine Corps, combat veteran.”

Sen. Reid

Calling to mind Limbaugh’s past dependency on pain killer medication, Senator Tom Harkin said the following:

"Maybe he was just high on his drugs. I don't know."

These are the depths to which the Democrats and their 11% approval rating Congress have sunk.

Since the controversy erupted, Limbaugh has gone out of his way to point out exactly what transpired on his show. He has made the complete transcript of the conversation available on his website and anyone who cares to learn the truth can easily discern that the “phony soldier” remark was (like the ABC report) about specific individuals who have been charged with lying about their service. This scandal is perhaps unique in that it is so easy to see it for what it is and refute it.

But what does all this mean? I think several important conclusions can be made with regard to the shameless deeds of Media Matters and the congressional Democrats. First, this is clearly an attempt to create a conservative scandal on par with the audacious Moveon.org attack on General Petraeus several weeks back. Realizing how damaging the Moveon ad was to their image, Democrats are trying to create a similar embarrassment for Republicans with the Limbaugh comment. The difference here is that Limbaugh’s remarks have been purposefully misconstrued to say something he obviously didn’t intend to say whereas the Moveon ad in The New York Times was clear as day. Another conclusion is that Democrats are petrified by and deeply envious of Limbaugh’s power. They have tried repeatedly over the years to take him out by similar tactics and smear campaigns, and every time they have failed miserably. Virtually no one watches the pathetic Senator Reid on C-Span, while millions tune in to Rush every day. The lengths to which Democrats will go to cut Rush down only underscores their utter fear of him. Another conclusion is that Democrats recognize that most Americans distrust them when it comes to national security and genuine support for the troops. They know that the Republicans have a significant advantage over them in this area. By creating a false scandal involving such a high-profile conservative as Rush Limbaugh and the military, Democrats are attempting to chip away at the Republican position as the Party of national security. But worse than all of this is way in which Democrats utilize character assassination tactics to deal with fierce opposition. Rather than a mature debate on the issues, Democrats set out to destroy anyone in their way via public humiliation schemes rooted in poisonous lies and calumny.

This issue is not about principled disagreement over the Iraq war. This is about morally bankrupt special interest groups and scheming politicians attempting to deceive Americans about Limbaugh’s words. That this scandal is so blatantly false and easy to refute only shows how depraved and deranged those who are fueling it have become. People like Reid and Harkin are part of a corrupt squadron of politicians who are blinded by their unprecedented, seething hatred for President Bush. They embarrass themselves and their nation.

Link to ABC story: "Scam artists posing as Military Heroes"
http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3645227

A United States Attorney's Office report: NORTHWEST CRACKDOWN ON FAKE VETERANS IN “OPERATION STOLEN VALOR”
Phony Vets Scam more than $1.4 Million and Damage Image of Honorable Veterans
http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/waw/press/2007/sep/operationstolenvalor.html

Transcript of what Rush really said:
http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_092807/content/01125106.guest.html

Monday, October 01, 2007

Justice Thomas


Today I watched a 60-Minutes interview with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The rare interview comes on the heels of the release of his memoir, My Grandfather's Son. In it, Thomas traces his upbringing as a black man in the segregated deep South and his ascent to the nation's highest court. I was eager to hear from the famously reticent judge. Perhaps more than any other conservative in America and as conservative black man, Thomas has been the recipient of unrelenting and venomous calumny from the usual gang of race-baiting pimps on the left. He makes no apologies for his views. He strongly opposes affirmative action as an offensive, racist scheme that belittles black people and clouds any legitimate achievement. In the interview, he refuses to allow himself to be defined narrowly as a "black" man. "I am a man who happens to be black." In a society where race and color seem to permeate every discussion, Thomas' attitude is so refreshing. As he put it, he refuses to "drink the kool-aid" of the liberal black establishment. I look forward to reading his book and to many more years of sound decisions formed by the pen of this erudite justice.


Here is the link to the two-part interview on 60-Minutes
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/27/60minutes/main3305443.shtml

And here's another good analysis of Justice Thomas and his critics on National Review.
http://bench.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NTM0ZWE1M2M0ZmQ3M2NlYTIyMDIwNWQ2Mzc0Yzc3Mjc=

More Perspective on Iraq

Here's a nice piece by Victor Davis Hanson. It provides some balance and persective on the situation in Iraq.

Here's a pull quote:
Are the efforts of Middle East reformers stronger or weaker after the invasion of Iraq? Critics have claimed that the idea of promoting political reform is now dead and buried. But most would still concede that there is some mood for optimism about Libya in a way not true in 2002. Lebanon is free of Syrian troops and the democracy is fighting for its life against serial Syrian-sponsored assassinations. There is thawing in Pakistan, and perhaps the reemergence of a democratic alternative to either military rule or Islamic theocracy. The Sunni monarchies, once furious over our promotion of democratic reformers, now in fear of Iran and their own Shiite minorities, are growing closer to, not more distant from, the United States.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Mjg0Yjg0MDAyMzA3YjBjN2Y1YjllNTliMTliMzQwMzQ=