Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seeing Red


From Fox News:

NEW YORK — New York is seeing red over the decision to turn the city's highest beacon — and one of America's symbols for free enterprise — into a shining monument honoring China's communist revolution Wednesday night.

The Empire State Building is set to be illuminated in red and yellow lights to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bloody communist takeover.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

French Rage

I'm not sure that people are necessarily quaking in their boots with French anger aimed at them, but it's interesting nonetheless. From the Wall Street Journal:
President Obama wants a unified front against Iran, and to that end he stood together with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh on Friday morning to reveal the news about Tehran's secret facility to build bomb-grade fuel. But now we hear that the French and British leaders were quietly seething on stage, annoyed by America's handling of the announcement.

Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

An Incredibly Accurate Indictment

From Richard Cohen (hardly a right-wing cheerleader by any standard), writing for the Washington Post:
Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.

Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar. (The next day, the Iranian used a news conference to counter Obama and, days later, Iran tested some intermediate-range missiles.) Obama is our version of a Supreme Leader, not given to making idle threats, setting idle deadlines, reversing course on momentous issues, creating a TV crisis where none existed or, unbelievably, pitching Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's the president. Time he understood that.

Hot Spots

John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, offers an insightful analysis of the situation in Iran and Honduras. His book, No Surrender, was a bit of a disappointment, too pedantic and tedious for my taste (a friend rightly described it as Bolton's "anti-U.N. manifesto/daily schedule"). The "anti-U.N." part is understandable and enjoyable but the play-by-play account of every bit of the excruciating minutia of Bolton's tenure was tiring. That said, he is a pleasure to listen to. He clearly knows his stuff.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Pursuit of Glory (and nothing more)

Robert Samuelson, writing for Newsweek, discusses the real motivation behind the health care "reform" movement.
What's driving the great health debate of 2009 is not a popular clamor for universal insurance. "Many Americans are balking again at the prospect of health care reform," writes pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center. A new Wall Street Journal poll found 41 percent of respondents opposed to President Obama's proposals and 39 percent in favor (the rest were undecided). The underlying driver is politicians' psychological quest for glory.

"My colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history," Chairman Max Baucus implored last week as the Senate Finance Committee opened consideration of his bill. Politicians, in their most self-important moments, see themselves as instruments of national destiny. They yearn to be remembered as the architects and agents of great social and economic transformations. They want to be at the signing ceremony; they want a pen.

Ordinary Americans are rightly suspicious of this exercise in collective ego gratification, which has gripped Obama and many of his congressional allies. Even when the goals are worthy—as they are here—the temptation to exaggerate, simplify and sugarcoat often proves irresistible. Baucus's promotion of his handiwork is a case in point.

On the Wise Man



"Invite a wise man to a feast and he'll spoil the company, either with morose silence or troublesome disputes. Take him out to dance, and you'll swear a 'cow would have done better.' -Folly on the 'wise man,' taken from Erasmus' In Praise of Folly

Funny!

Adding 'em up

National Review Online features an excellent piece that lists the staggering number of lies Obama uttered in his address to Congress.
By our count, the president made more than 20 inaccurate claims in his speech to Congress. We have excluded several comments that are deeply misleading but not outright false. (For example: Obama pledged not to tap the Medicare trust fund to pay for reform. But there is no money in that “trust fund,” anyway, so the pledge is meaningless.) Even so, we may have missed one or more false statements by the president. Our failure to include one of his comments in the following list should not be taken to constitute an endorsement of its accuracy, let alone wisdom.

One Time??

A startling revelation from the Washington Times: Obama has only spoken to the U.S. Commander of Afghanistan once in 70 days! But nevertheless, as has been mentioned here before, the president has abundant time for David Letterman, for jetting off to Denmark to plug Chicago for the Olympics and for pitching his health care scheme on every Sunday morning talk show. Time for the general though, not so much.
The military general credited for capturing Saddam Hussein and killing the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq says he has only spoken to President Obama once since taking command of Afghanistan.

Just Words?

"May the Lord receive the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His Church."

Or

"May the Lord receive the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of God's name, for our good and the good of all God's Church."

Of course, the second formula was born out of the shrill demands of political correctness, but, even from a stylistic/linguistic point of view, it also comes across to the ear as ridiculously clumsy. And while the willy-nilly tinkering with liturgical prayers is expressly verboten by the Church, this and a host of other p.c. interventions in the liturgy have caught on. Excepting the implacable feminists (and you know them when you see them) is anyone else seriously offended if "his" is used instead of "God's"? I doubt it. Priests need to start speaking out on this. But then again, they are often the ones encouraging it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Angie Stays Put



Conservatives in Germany showed their strength today, giving Chancellor Angela Merkel another term with a healthy majority in parliament.

Vaclav to the Rescue!

Pope and President: Yesterday in Prague

Vaclav Klaus wrote an excellent op-ed that appeared back in May in The Guardian. Of all the world leaders, the President of the Czech Republic stands alone as the voice of reason and common sense on the issue of global warming. For our part, with the ascension of Barack Obama, the United States has joined the ranks of the nail-biters, hand-wringers and crazies who are hell-bent on enacting insane, anti-capitalist policies to "save the planet." So sad.
I am surprised so many people in Europe, the US and elsewhere have come to support policies underpinned by hysteria over global warming, particularly cap-and-trade legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions and subsidies for "green" energy sources.

I am convinced this is a misguided strategy - not only because of the uncertainty about the dangers that global warming might pose, but also because of the certainty of the damage that policies aimed at mitigation will cause.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

U.N. Circus Redux

From Mark Steyn, writing for National Review Online
When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn’t that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. That’s what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya. But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it’s more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Colonel Qaddafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of “swine flu” and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: “No nation can or should try to dominate another nation.”

For better or worse, we are defined by our differences — and, if Barack Obama doesn’t understand that when he’s at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Colonel Qaddafi took to the podium immediately afterwards. They’re both heads of state of sovereign nations. But, if you’re on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the United States and sees where it gets you.

This isn’t a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn’t a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom. In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences.

Putting the Sixties to Rest

Not a bad idea.

From Gill Hornby, writing for The Telegraph:
The Mamas and the Papas: Peace, love and unhappiness

Never has a decade been more pleased with itself than the Sixties. It was supposedly our Renaissance, our Cultural Revolution. But when did you last curl up with a Sixties novel, or stare in wonder at the beauty of a building thrown up then? It was that famous time of great political and social progress, and by the end of the decade racism was rife and feminism just a twinkle in a dolly bird’s eye. Sixties fans may mention, just drop it in, that there was some music. The Beatles might crop up, perhaps The Rolling Stones. Yes. And who had the Christmas number one in 1969? Rolf Harris, with his groundbreaking, radical Two Little Boys.

The Sixties was a very bad party, to which most of us were too young or uncool to be invited. But those who went, and did not die choking on their own vomit or bombing out their own brains, will not stop banging on about it. And yet little stories like Mackenzie Phillips’s memoirs, or the revelations this week that, while purring as a sex kitten, Brigitte Bardot was attempting to commit suicide, or the childhood of Michael Jackson, should remind us to put their paradise in perspective.

It’s been a difficult year, 2009 – coming, as it does so neatly, 40 years after 1969. Apparently, back then, they all had a whale of a time. There was a concert in a muddy field and everyone took a lot of LSD and their tops off, and there was some peace as well as, I gather, some love. And just as we finish the fascinating retrospectives of Woodstock – you can shake yourselves awake now – we approach the most dangerous anniversary of all. 2010: 50 years since the dawn of civilisation as they think they knew it. Time for the rest of us to brace ourselves, drop off, and tune out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Economy and the Blame Game

Here's an excellent post by James Pethokoukis that appeared on the Reuters Blog. He nails it.
The one baddie Washington doesn’t want to touch is, well, Washington. Its crime: pushing federal policies that favored ever-increasing home ownership, particularly from the mid-1990s on, and thus helping spawn the housing bubble at the center of the devastating meltdown. (We’ll focus on its legacy of financial bailouts another time.)

The sheer scope of the bipartisan, federal pro-housing undertaking is mind-boggling.

As Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist, noted in testimony this week to the House Financial Services Committee, a list of past and ongoing efforts would include the Federal Housing Administration, Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act, the deductibility of mortgage interest, the tax-favored treatment of capital gains on housing, the HOPE for Homeowners Act and the $8000 homebuyer tax credit.

Then, of course, there are the Federal Reserve’s efforts to bring down mortgage rates.

The federal tax subsidy alone amounts to some $200 billion a year, according to the Tax Policy Center. Put it all together and it’s clear that Uncle Sam created immense incentives for home ownership, from which Wall Street eventually found a way to coin huge profits.

Well, at least for a while. Even former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker conceded this week to the same committee that government housing efforts, in the form of Fannie and Freddie, were a “factor” in the crisis.

But while Washington is creating financial regulations and regulators, going after banker pay and questioning the role of the ratings firms, it seems intent on leaving its pro-housing policy bias intact.

A Review

Jonah Goldberg offers his analysis of Obama's address to the United Nations. I think Goldberg gets it right in pointing out that Obama can't make it through a speech on any subject without making repeated references to himself, his "story," etc. The ego on display is astonishing.
It was the most Obamaesque address to date.

“For those who question the character and cause of my nation,” the president pronounced Wednesday, “I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.”

America is 233 years old. Some think that there are ample accomplishments speaking to our character and cause that predate Obama’s ascension to the presidency.

Feh, Obama seems to be saying. Look instead to our new greatness, for we have elected a man like him!

Having anointed himself America’s vindicator and redeemer, Obama’s real purpose seems to be to become the leader not of the free world but, simply, the world.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Destination: Czech Republic

The Infant of Prague

From the Associated Press:
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI is going to the heart of central Europe 20 years after the fall of communism ended restrictions on religion. But what he will find is a Czech Republic where nearly half the population professes to be nonbelievers.

Like an ancient missionary on his three-day pilgrimage starting Saturday, Benedict will try to reinvigorate the faith with a series of religious services, make a side trip to the traditional Catholic heartland in Moravia and repeat reminders of the country's Christian roots as he pays tribute to the nation's patron saint, Wenceslas.

Though the latitude's rather uncertain,
And the longitude likewise is vague,
Still the people I pity who know not the City,
The beautiful City of Prague.
- William Jeffrey Prowse

It's a pity that a country boasting one of the world's most breathtaking cities is inhabited by so many people who question the cause and source of inspiration for such beauty.

Women Warriors: A Good Idea?



From FoxNews:
Report: Mullen Backs Women Serving on Submarines

Female sailors can broaden their role in the Navy by serving on submarines, an activity currently prohibited by the Armed Service, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has advised the Senate Armed Services Committee.

According to Defensetech.org, a site run by Military.com, a group boasting a membership of 10 million veterans and active duty forces, Adm. Michael Mullen told senators in a recent survey that he's long been an advocate for improving diversity in the Armed Forces.

"I believe we should continue to broaden opportunities for women. One policy I would like to see changed is the one barring their service aboard submarines," he added.

The policy change would mark a huge shift for the Navy, whose submarines have been devoid of female sailors even though women began flying fighter jets and performing other seagoing combat roles 15 years ago.

This motion of advocacy, coming from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on behalf of women in the armed forces, more specifically in the Navy, allows for a segue into a broader discussion on the question of women in combat. To do so, I will borrow liberally from an excellent piece that appeared in National Review back in 2003, written by Kate O'Beirne, entitled "An Army of Jessica's: About Women in Combat: Let's fight. Hard." (Of course, women have demonstrated great heroism in battles past and are sure to do the same in the future. However, the wider and almost universal acceptance and incorporation of women in the military is a worthy subject of debate, although it is a sensitive one to broach nowadays because unfair implications of sexism, male chauvinism etc., are immediately unleashed on anyone brandishing the temerity to argue the more traditional stance.) Here are some of O'Beirne's observations:
Overplaying women's exploits permits proponents of gender-integrated combat to discount the masculine traits that the history of warfare shows to be vital to military success. In an article for the Buffalo Law Review, Wayne State law professor Kingsley R. Browne examines the historic link between masculinity and warfare: "Be a man" was the core value by which combat soldiers judged each other, according to Samuel Stouffer's classic study of soldiers in WWII; as Browne notes, Northwestern professor Charles Moskos--America's leading military sociologist--explains that one of the few ways to get men in combat to behave so irrationally as to risk getting killed is to appeal to their masculinity. A study of the Spanish Civil War found that the greatest fear of men facing combat for the first time was that they would turn out to be cowards. Historian S.L.A. Marshall found that a man in combat will overcome his fear and do what's required because he risks losing "the one thing that he is likely to value more highly than his life--his reputation as a man among other men." Browne concludes: "If the need to prove one's manliness is an essential motivator of combat personnel, what motivates women?"

A 1985 Navy study found that large majorities of women were unable to perform any of the eight critical shipboard tasks that virtually all men could handle...In her 2000 book, The Kinder Gentler Military, Stephanie Gutmann recounted how the harsh demands of basic training have been largely eliminated to make the experience more female-friendly. With basic training now gender-integrated in all the services except the Marines, the emphasis is increasingly on self-esteem and positive motivation. Recruits are shown videos that reassure them that "anybody can get through boot camp" and that it's "O.K. to cry." A commission appointed by defense secretary William Cohen...concluded that basic training should be separate because integrated training resulted in "less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from training programs.

Margaret Thatcher, in her must-read book entitled Statecraft, echoes many of the points made here by O'Beirne. The Iron Lady also highlights the enormous financial inconvenience that results from having to re-outfit Navy vessels with female friendly facilities, all in the name of living up to modern notions of equality. She also raises a good question: Should grenades be made lighter and less deadly, allowing women to throw them far enough so as to not incur injury from the explosion? For, if grenades are too heavy (and more potent as a result), only the men are able to hurdle them far enough to avoid getting hurt. Historically, culturally and practically speaking (perhaps most relevant for winning a fight), impressive arguments can be marshaled in defense of an all-male military, at least in terms of combat roles.

With Friends Like These...


Joining the ranks of the Castro brothers, Hugo Chavez, and other left-wing blatherskites wreaking havoc across the globe, Muammar Gadhafi, the insane president of Lybia, gushed over President Obama and endorsed him, well, "forever" during his 94-minute rambling screed at the UN yesterday. Is anyone surprised by this coquet between Obama and the world's fringe elements? You'd think the White House would be embarrassed. Certainly, Americans are. From Politico:
Qadhafi railed against the United Nations for giving the United States and a few other countries veto power over its actions. But he had surprisingly warm words for Obama.

“We Africans are happy, proud, that a son of Africans governs the United States of America,” the Libyan leader said. “This is a historic event. ... This is a great thing.” “Obama is a glimpse in the darkness after four or eight years,” said Qadhafi, who referred to Obama as “my son.” “We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as president of the United States.”

The Libyan leader, who at times rummaged through a sea of handwritten yellow papers spread across the lectern, also praised Obama for taking a “completely different” approach to nuclear proliferation and other issues than his predecessor did.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama and the Indoctrination of Children

Sad stuff. Where are the parents?

Bullets Flying Out the Door

Here's a heartening story from the Associated Press:
America armed, but guns not necessarily loaded

NEW ORLEANS – Bullet-makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still can't keep up with the nation's demand for ammunition.

Shooting ranges, gun dealers and bullet manufacturers say they have never seen such shortages. Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation

Bullet manufacturers...one corner of the market that is thriving. And go figure, the Democrats are in charge!

Afghanistan and Obama's Time for Choosing


Here's a sobering analysis from The Independent of the pressing choice Barack Obama faces regarding the U.S. mission Afghanistan.

The central question of the hour being: Will Obama listen to the military commanders or to Nancy Pelosi?

Will Obama vote "present" on the Afghan question, as he did on so many tough calls while still an unknown state senator in Illinois? Is Obama willing to infuriate his ever-loyal, pacifist base by committing to actually win a military engagement (such an aim, remember, is never the preferred desideratum of the furies on the left, for whom the fons et origo of criticism and loathing is always the United States first.)

Meanwhile, as soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan for their country, their commander in chief has been busy dilly-dallying, making the rounds on nearly every Sunday morning talk show last week (even on Univision, yes, Univision) to apply the defibrillators to his dying health care plan. The American Narcissus even penciled in time to lap up the sickening adulation of the disturbed and giddy-as-a -school-girl late night bombast, David Letterman.

With a president like this, what's a military, not to mention a free nation, to do? Pray for a speedy 2012.

Wilsonian and Post-American

John Bolton offers his take on Obama's address to the United Nations. From National Review Online:
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton tells NRO that President Obama’s address to the U.N. was “a post-American speech by our first post-American president. It was a speech high on the personality of Barack Obama and high on multilateralism, but very short in advocating American interests.”

“It was a very naïve, Wilsonian speech, and very revealing of Obama’s foreign policy,” says Bolton. “Overall, it was so apologetic for the actions of prior administrations, in an effort to distance Obama from them, that it became yet another symbol of American weakness in the wake of the president’s decision to abandon missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and his recent manifest hesitation over what to do in Afghanistan.”

“The most significant point of the speech was how the president put Israel on the chopping block in a variety of references, from calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegitimate to talking about ending ‘the occupation that began in 1967.’ That implies that he supports going back to 1967 borders,” says Bolton. “Obama has a very tough road ahead. He is frequently taking the side of the Palestinians, who don’t have a competent leader who can make hard decisions and compromises in the future.”

Also noteworthy, Bolton says, was how Obama highlighted “just how much of American foreign policy that he wants to run through the U.N.”

“Usually presidential speeches at the U.N. are ‘state of the world’ addresses. Obama’s speech was filled with talk about U.N. bodies, U.N. treaties, and sending Secretary of State Clinton to a conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would be an incredible waste of time for her. The president’s speech showed a fascination with U.N.-centric issues. Obama talked about getting past ‘balance of power’ politics. He talked about the interests that unite us rather than divide us.”

Bolton’s conclusion: “It was all extremely naïve. The president did everything he could to say: ‘Can’t we all just get along?’”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bad Joke, Bad Taste

As a follow-up to the latest post, today after Mass, a nice woman (a self-described "Communion distributor") gave a little pep talk about the importance of stewardship. She made a joke about how, when she was a college student, a Newman Center priest on campus advised the students to put aside the cost of a beverage each week and donate that amount to the parish. "Or as he put it, 'Buy a beer for Jesus!'" I imagine the joke didn't go over well back then, and it didn't go over well today either. It fell flat, no one laughed. It was painful, actually. I squirmed in my pew. Another sign of the times.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reclaiming a Catholic Culture



-Shorts and tee shirts, short skirts, ripped jeans and flip-flops at Sunday Mass
-Mundane chit-chat before, during and after Mass
-Schmalzy liturgical music and abstract "sacred" art
- The wholesale jettisoning of the Latin tongue, in clear defiance of Vatican II
-Large swaths of woefully uncatechized faithful, totally ignorant of Church history and Catholic culture
-A superabundance of soft-sofa homilies and gutted churches, cluttered with eye-offensive bric-a-brac


Has the Catholic Church in the United States become a Church of vulgarians? The high culture of the West, from art, to music and literature, science and innovation, is very much indebted to the rich patrimony of the Catholic Church. (Those interested in exploring this theme should pick up Thomas Woods' excellent book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.) Despite the inexhaustible wellspring of high culture, which has been faithfully guarded and nurtured by the Catholic Church for thousands of years, here in the United States we've witnessed in many quarters the extirpation of all things beautiful and inspiring, all in the name of "fitting in" so as to satisfy the mystifying demands of diversity. The current Pope, in addition to his spiritual depth is (much like his predecessor) the personification of culture and refinement, good taste and acumen. All too often though, the Church leadership in America, instead of rising to the occasion to issue a bold clarion call to be more than just average or so-so, opts for equivocation and accommodation. Catholics, in response to this leadership vacuum, have defined what it means to be Catholic for themselves, on their own terms. The bar has been significantly lowered and virtually no one is calling for it to be elevated. Opponents of tradition have effectively air-brushed from the minds of Catholics all memory of things pertaining to "High Church" liturgical and cultural practice. In its place, they have filled in the gaps with all sorts of garish paraphernalia.

Liturgy, that sacred event which should be (and has been in the past) an incubator for a distinct Catholic identity and culture in the world, has been undermined from within for decades. Instead of adorning and embellishing the sacred liturgy with accoutrements and solemnity suitable for what it truly is, we have seen the liturgy woefully dumbed down and churches cluttered to the point of disorienting distraction, combining bad art, atrocious liturgical music, busybodies mulling about in the sanctuary and hollow, self-affirming homilies offered by uninspiring, sycophantic priests. In light of the widespread Protestantization, nay, Oprahfication of the Mass, one can see why so many Catholics today haven't the foggiest about what liturgy is.

A priest friend of mine once wisely noted, "Liturgy, offered properly, is formative in the faith, but when offered improperly it actually deforms people in the faith." How true and painfully evident this pity observation is! In other words, when the wrong things are emphasized or elevated over and above the important things, the faithful are given a distorted understanding of what and where the focus of liturgy ought to be. It's no wonder then that Church documents on liturgy state explicitly that the prayers and practices of Mass are not to be altered by the priest (not that this directive has halted the run amok liturgical tampering that goes on unabated to this very day at nearly every parish). Sacred elements that once provided Catholics with a distinct identity were misconstrued as fluff, both superfluous and harmful, mossy relics of a bygone era: Latin, chant, incense, intricately woven liturgical vestments, bells, etc., all irrelevant! An insatiable desire to pander to the masses and the lowest common denominator saw these elements swept aside by modern-day iconoclasts, only to be replaced with things that made Catholicism seem mediocre, or worse still, gaudy. As Michael Knox Beran observes, "Being a child of Rousseau, the liberal believes, deep down, that progress can be made only after the old artistic forms--the corrupt and archaic poetries of the past--are overthrown. He wants to make a community from moral and aesthetic scratch."

So is it any wonder that, when it comes to the average Catholic approaching the liturgy, an acute sense of appropriateness and solemnity has taken flight? Is it any surprise that Catholics seem ambivalent when it comes to assimilating the finer details of the faith, its proud history and its unique culture? If their only experience of Catholicism has been watered down, bland, ordinary and totally uninspiring, who can blame them for being thoroughly unimpressed and bored? A Catholic culture should be thriving in the United States. Surely the numbers and the talent are there. But, as a result of much of the leadership's endless shilly-shally, damaging blunders and meekness before the many challenges presented by society, the Church in America still finds itself playing catch-up.

In Montesquieu's cheeky Persian Letters, Usbek, in a missive to his friend Ibben writes: "It is a great sight, for a Muslim, to see a Christian town for the first time. I am not talking about the things which strike everyone straight away, such as the differences in architecture, or clothes, or way of life. Even in the slightest trivialities there is something curious, which I feel I cannot express." Yes, there used to be something ineffably distinct, something beautiful, about our ways.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Study War?


Some thoughts to consider from Victor Davis Hanson:
The modern age is free to interpret war as a failure of communication, of diplomacy, of talking--as if aggressors don't know exactly what they're doing.

We must abandon the naive faith that with enough money, education, or good intentions we can change the nature of mankind so that conflict, as if by fiat, becomes a thing of the past. In the end, the study of war reminds us that we wil never be gods. We will always just be men, it tells us. Some men will prefer war to peace; and other men, we who have learned from the past, have a moral obligation to stop them.

The Real Motive Behind the Green Lobby

More balderdash from the fringe:
Birth control could help combat climate change

LONDON – Giving contraceptives to people in developing countries could help fight climate change by slowing population growth, experts said Friday.

More than 200 million women worldwide want contraceptives, but don't have access to them, according to an editorial published in the British medical journal, Lancet. That results in 76 million unintended pregnancies every year.

If those women had access to free condoms or other birth control methods, that could slow rates of population growth, possibly easing the pressure on the environment, the editors say.

"There is now an emerging debate and interest about the links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change," the commentary says.

Sure thing! Let's get rid of all the inconvenient third world flotsam and we'll all have a much happier planet as a result. How sick!

The Future


Who is George Washington anyway?

A shocking story out of Oklahoma:
75 Percent of Oklahoma High School Students Can't Name the First President of the U.S.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today.

The survey was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in observance of Constitution Day on Thursday.

Brandon Dutcher is with the conservative think tank and said the group wanted to find out how much civic knowledge Oklahoma high school students know.

Incredible. What is this country going to look like in thirty years?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Petraeus on Afghanistan

It is good counsel for anyone aiming to decode complex situations to go straight to the expert for clarification. Here is a thoughtful and encouraging piece on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, namely on counterinsurgency, from a man who knows a thing or two about the subject, General David Petraeus.

From the Times Online:
Countering terrorists and extremism requires more than a conventional military approach. Military operations enable you to clear areas of extremist and insurgent elements, and to stop them from putting themselves back together. But the core of any counterinsurgency strategy must focus on the fact that the decisive terrain is the human terrain, not the high ground or river crossing.

Romney Reacts

Mitt Romney responds to the ill-conceived decision of the Obama Administration to take the missile defense shield in Eastern Europe off the table. From The Corner on National Review Online:
* The administration says that our intelligence believes the threat from Iran is not as far advanced as it had originally estimated. First, our intelligence regarding Iran is far from reliable and certain. Our window into the country is cloudy, at best. Other foreign intelligence agencies have reached very different conclusions. And second, it makes no sense to try to time the construction, testing, and deployment of a defense system to the very hour when one might guess the nuclear threat will arrive. No one is that prescient. Using the most rosy scenario of Iran’s nuclear capabilities to schedule the establishment of our defense is dangerous in the extreme.

* The administration believes that by giving such a gesture of goodwill to the Russians, they will be more willing to give in to our request that they join in sanctions against Iran. Here, the president’s lack of negotiation experience may have come in to play. Yes, sometimes in a negotiation you give up something that is important to you, but you do that only when the other party has agreed to give you something you want even more. You don’t give before you get. But here it’s even worse than that: The president has taught Putin that when he blusters and threatens, America caves.

* The administration is also teaching our friends some very unfortunate lessons; the Eastern Europeans who have stood so valiantly with America and who took political heat for backing the missile-defense system have simply been brushed aside. They have to wonder why America is treating its foes better than it is treating its friends. It’s a question that also is surely being asked in Israel and Honduras.

* The administration’s discounting of Iran’s nuclear progress tells Israel that if it is to stop what its own intelligence may believe is an imminent threat, it may have to act alone — and precipitously.

Obama: Betraying Friends, Appeasing Enemies

Obama and Medvedev: Ol' Chums

Writing for the Telegraph, Nile Gardiner takes Obama to task for his geopolitical impotence and perfidy. My consolation is that stridently offensive moves like this will only hasten the realization among Americans that this president is a light weight, woefully incompetent at best, dangerously naive (to cite Hillary Clinton) at worst, and that he should get the boot à la Jimmy Carter in 2012, for the sake of our nation, and our allies who look to us for moral leadership.
This is bad news for all who care about the US commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the defence of Europe as well as the United States. It represents the appalling appeasement of Russian aggression and a willingness to sacrifice American allies on the altar of political expediency. A deal with the Russians to cancel missile defence installations sends a clear message that even Washington can be intimidated by the Russian bear.

What signal does this send to Ukraine, Georgia and a host of other former Soviet satellites who look to America and NATO for protection from their powerful neighbour? The impending cancellation of Third Site is a shameful abandonment of America’s friends in eastern and central Europe, and a slap in the face for those who actually believed a key agreement with Washington was worth the paper it was written on.

Shield, No Shield

Writing for National Review Online, Clifford May offers his thoughts on Obama's shameless capitulation to the Russians with his call to scrap the missile defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Third Site [the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic] would not only have helped counter the growing Middle Eastern ballistic missile threat, it also would have strengthened transatlantic security. As Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht has pointed out, Europe’s transatlanticists — not a burgeoning club — “have stuck their necks out in both the Czech Republic and Poland.” The death of the Third Site ensures that “pro-American forces throughout Europe will take a serious hit” and “the widespread European reflex to appease Russia” is likely to grow, “perhaps exponentially.”

At the same time, Iran’s ruling mullahs will be delighted. They will view this as weakness. And they will find such weakness provocative, as tyrants always do.

Americans overwhelmingly favor missile defense, as poll after poll has revealed. But many don’t realize that what we have deployed so far is not nearly adequate to the evolving threat. We are encouraging our enemies to invest in increasingly advanced weapons technologies in the belief that, at a time of their choosing, they will be able to overwhelm our outdated system.

American policy should be designed to elicit the opposite response: It should make clear to our enemies that resources spent on nukes and missiles will be wasted because we have both the means and the will to block them. American scientists are providing the means. Senator DeMint notwithstanding, too few American politicians are providing the will.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Little Flower in Portsmouth


What a great story! From the Times Online:
Not since the Reformation, and perhaps not even before then, has England seen a pilgrimage quite like this.

The closest comparison might be to the Middle Ages, when “pardoners”, or salesmen, would travel the countryside hawking the “relics” of dead saints to credulous Christians who believed that they could buy themselves less time in Purgatory.

But that would not do justice to the phenomenon of St Thérèse, who within hours of touching down on British soil attracted a queue of hundreds of devout Christians who snaked around the Roman Catholic cathedral in Portsmouth merely to light a candle and touch the Perspex encasing the jacaranda casket in which rest the relics of this 19th-century child-like nun.

At least 3,000 more turned out for three services, including two Masses in the cathedral for young people, the sick and the local community.

The Lonely Ex-President


Poor ol' Jimmy C. He opens his mouth and even Democrats cringe and run away. Still irrelevant after all these years.

From Politico:
Jimmy Carter is 84 years old and three decades removed from the White House, but he still has the power to make Democrats run.

Away from him, that is.

From the White House to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Democrats raced to distance themselves from the former president’s claim that racism was behind Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie” outburst and other attacks on President Barack Obama.

Offended by a Crucifix

For Missourians, Schnucks grocery store is a well known stop for affordable victuals. (I shop there every couple weeks.) Tom Collora, a capable manager of two Schnucks stores in Saint Louis, has inadvertently and unintentionally caused some controversy (if that's the right word) for daring to display a crucifix at the customer service desk. And just like clockwork, the anti-Catholic enzymes in the modern day jacobins have been activated as a result. Here's a link to the whole story. Some choice highlights:
Some customers are reacting angrily to the new display. Lori Weinstock, 40, a health care professional from University City, was shopping a few weeks ago when, after paying, she looked up to see the crucifix.

"It startled me. It seemed so out of place," Weinstock, who is Jewish, said. She was startled enough to write a letter that was published last week in the newspaper the Jewish Light.

"It would have been equally startling if it had been a Star of David or an emblem of another religion," Weinstock said. "It's grocery shopping, and it should be welcoming to all and exclude none."

That the display is a crucifix — an image of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross — and not just a plain cross, is of particular concern to some of Schnucks' Jewish customers. The cross bearing Christ's body has become a symbol of the Catholic Church, according to Ronald Modras, a theology professor at St. Louis University, while a cross without it has become a Protestant symbol.

"The cross is an ambiguous symbol which can mean one thing to one group and another to a different group," Modras said. "And for Jewish people (a crucifix) can mean, 'You are a Christ killer.'"

Unbelievable. When you read things like this you have to wonder on what planet some people are living, let alone country. The idiocy on display here, on account of these dyspeptic head waggers, is breathtaking. What about defamation against Catholics? How about a cover story on that syndrome? There's certainly no paucity of case studies in that field, across the fruited plane. And how about this useful idiot of a theology professor at Saint Louis University? I bet the investigative reporter had to search far and wide for a disgruntled, self-loathing theology professor at a Jesuit university, as these are nearly impossible to come by nowadays (chime in dripping sarcasm). And let's talk about the nauseating superabundance of glitzy and ubiquitous pictures of President Obama? Is anyone else tired of seeing these? See, to the left, Obama is Zeus himself, reigning supreme in their worldly pantheon, head of all the secular gods, so one ought not hold his breath for any complaints of overexposure on that front. But dare to put up a crucifix and Catholic heads should roll. Give me a break!

I lived in Italy for several years and over there (as in Spain, Poland, Greece and elsewhere), it is customary to detect a crucifix, an icon, or picture of a saint in just about every type of mom and pop store, and even in the larger ones. Folks across the pond, with the exception of the elites in France, aren't so hyper-reactionary over wonky notions of separation of church and state. Translation: They're not so uptight. Such a witness is a marvelous reflection of a cohesive culture that is, at the same time, pluralistic, welcoming to all beliefs and not exclusive in the least. No one there is "bothered" by such displays and if they are, that's their problem and not the store owner's.

These philistine curmudgeons hounding Collora and Schnucks had better find something better to do with their time and loosen up a bit in the process. Translation: Get a life!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meeting of the Minds: Huffington and Paul

Arianna Huffington (never thought I'd feature her here in a positive light) and Congressman Ron Paul agree on some important points regarding the economy and the actions of this administration and the last. Mark the day! The buzz word: corporatism, not socialism.

The Lonely President

News stories keep cropping up, reporting on the woes of the president in the midst of his Gordian Knot of a health care struggle. The right is angry at the president (with good reason), the left is angry at the president (yet, is the left ever not angry about something?). What's Obama to do?

A Special Ops Hit


From the Wall Street Journal.

Elite U.S. Forces Kill Top Al Qaeda Fighter

Airborne U.S. Special Operations forces attacked a car in southern Somalia on Monday and killed one of east Africa's most wanted al Qaeda militants, a U.S. official said.

The commandos, among the most elite and secretive of all U.S. military forces, had spent days tracking Kenyan-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is suspected of building the truck bomb that killed 15 people at a Kenyan hotel in 2002, as well as involvement in a simultaneous, botched missile launch at an Israeli airliner, the official said.

The strike represented an unusually high-profile assault by the covert American forces, whose activities are highly classified and whose operations -- whether successes or failures -- rarely take place in public view.

Nice handiwork.

Where's Reagan When You Need Him?

From the Associated Press:
LONDON - A weakened United States could start retreating from the world stage without help from its allies abroad, an international strategic affairs think tank said Tuesday.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said President Barack Obama would increasingly turn to others for help dealing with the world's problems — in part because he has no alternative.

"Domestically Obama may have campaigned on the theme 'yes we can'; internationally he may increasingly have to argue 'no we can't'," the institute said in its annual review of world affairs.

How sad and how utterly predictable. Obama is proving every day to be the modern day reincarnation of Jimmy Carter.

"CPR for the GOP"

Writing for Newsweek, George Will tears apart all of the straw man arguments of the Obama spin machine on health care. He also explains why Republicans should be optimistic over their prospects in the midterm elections of 2010.
He says America's health-care system is going to wrack and ruin and requires root-and-branch reform—but that if you like your health care (as a large majority of Americans do), nothing will change for you. His slippery new formulation is that nothing in his plan will "require" anyone to change coverage. He used to say, "If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period." He had to stop saying that because various disinterested analysts agree that his plan will give many employers incentives to stop providing coverage for employees.

He deplores "scare tactics" but says that unless he gets his way, people will die. He praises temperate discourse but says many of his opponents are liars. He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government's prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid.

Obama..."Failing Miserably"

From Politico:
For the first several months of his presidency, Obama has labored to deliver on that pledge. He pushed a controversial stimulus bill through Congress to help rev up the economy, turned Bush’s reluctant bailout of Chrysler and General Motors into a giant government auto buyout and appointed a record number of “czars” to help regulate bureaucracies in both public and formerly private sectors.

Then, Step 2. Obama is trying to fundamentally alter the American economy by backing sweeping environmental, labor and health care legislation. He wants to change the way Americans consume energy, unionize and see their doctors.

So far, he’s failing miserably....

It’s entirely possible — nay, likely — that Obama will lose on all three big issues [cap and trade, Employee Free Choice Act, Health Care reform]. He’ll probably take that personally. As he has pushed for the passage of his reforms, his public approval ratings have taken a beating, and voters have started to trust the Republicans more than his party on a host of issues.

The question that most political handicappers are considering right now is not “Will Republicans make gains at the midterm elections?” but “How large will those gains be?”

What all this means is, barring some unforeseeable world event, Obama’s will probably not be a historic presidency.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yesterday's Demonstration

From the American Thinker:
Sometimes an event occurs which is transformative in a way that everyone who sees it or participates in it instantly is aware of. Yesterday's demonstration in Washington DC is one of those rare happenings in my opinion.

The Daily Mail said 2 million Americans participated. My friend Charlie Martin extrapolated from the pictures an attendance figure of 2.3 million. Here is a time lapse of the parade portion of the event so you can get a feel for yourself of the size of the crowd. Whatever the actual number it is sure to be seriously underestimated by the Obama-besotted members of the press corps who are also likely to misrepresent the participants and their views.

But as a participant, I want you to know the attendees were wonderful people, civil and polite. They showed their respect for the Capitol and the event by leaving no mess behind when they were through, in marked contrast to the inauguration and the usual left wing demonstrations here.

The Ukrainian Example

From the Associated Press:
KIEV, Ukraine – Elton John will not be able to adopt a 14-month-old Ukrainian child because the pop star is too old and isn't traditionally married, Ukraine's minister for family affairs said Monday.

The pop signer toured a hospital for HIV-infected children in eastern Ukraine on Saturday as part of a charity project and said that he and his male partner David Furnish wanted to adopt an HIV-infected boy named Lev.

But the country's Family, Youth and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko told The Associated Press that adoptive parents must be married and Ukraine does not recognize homosexual unions as marriage.

Three cheers for the Ukraine!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Europe and Islam

From Commentary Magazine:
Reflections on the Revolution in Europe:

In June 2009, an incident took place at Conway Hall in London’s Red Lion Square, the hallowed venue of secular leftist gatherings since the 1930s. Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim preacher and leader of the Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, was ejected after his followers attempted to segregate male and female members of the audience for a public debate. Choudary told the assembled media in the street outside: “This country is rife with social and economic problems and only Islam has the answer. Muslims are multiplying at a rate eight times faster than the kaffir. In a couple of generations this will be a Muslim country, inshallah. We will dominate this country, my brothers, and implement the beauty and perfection of Islam.” Al--Muhajiroun members greeted the speech with cheers and cries of “God is great” and “Sharia for the UK.” The crowd included Simon Keeler, the first white British Muslim convert convicted of inciting terrorism.

Such incidents are now commonplace not only in Britain but also across Europe. Yet the rise of European Islamism has occurred over only a few years’ time, without any of the Continent’s political elites even noticing what was happening. As Christopher Caldwell argues in his spirited tract Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, “Western Europe became a multi-ethnic society in a fit of absence of mind.” Now that the rest of the population has woken up to the change, many are angry. The result is a political upheaval that is still being played out.

Those interested in visiting Europe to catch a glimpse of the old culture of the West should do so before that culture is relegated to the history books.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reagan Remains

They tell us the era of Reagan is over. This poll from Rasmussen debunks that claim.
Voters Turn Negative On All Political Labels Except Reagan

"Progressive” is becoming more of a dirty word, but all political labels – except “being like Ronald Reagan” - are falling into disfavor with many U.S. voters, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Giving an Obamaesque Speech: You too can manipulate the masses!

Rich Lowry has an excellent piece appearing in National Review Online in which he limns 13 strategies Obama routinely uses to manipulate.

A selection of the most common ploys:
1) Create a false center. In his speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama positioned himself between the Left’s calling for a single-payer system and the Right’s agitating to end employer-based health insurance. Presto — he’s the very definition of a centrist. Anyone advocating almost any position can benefit from the same insta-centrism.

2) Scorn ideology. Obama warned against “the usual Washington ideological battles.” Message: He has no philosophical commitments himself. He’s pushing a Great Society redux only as a matter of practicality. Superficial pragmatism is the ideologue’s best friend.

3) Talk about your openness to ideas from opponents. The more you do this, the less you have to adopt any of their ideas. “I will continue to seek common ground,” Obama said. “I will be there to listen. My door is always open.” While he does all this common-ground seeking, he will be whipping up the Democratic votes to pass a massive, liberal reordering of the health-care system. But he’ll be listening!

5) Make lawyerly distinctions too subtle for most people to notice. Never underestimate the power of the cagey formulation. Obama said people won’t be “required” to change their current arrangements if they like them. That sounds reassuring even though it leaves open the likelihood that millions will have to change insurance as a result of his plan. (Caution: May require the aid of experienced policy hands and professional speechwriters.)

8) Make the price right. Washington’s new standard for expensive is $1 trillion. Naturally, Obama’s plan came in at $900 billion. He might as well have said it will cost $999.999 billion.

10) Couple attacks on your critics as unworthy hacks with calls for civility. If you favor “a civil conversation,” you can better dismiss your opponents for their “bickering” and “games.”

12) At least once a speech, keep talking over the applause. This is inspiring.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Questions than Answers


A remarkable story from the Times Online:
Thatcher told Gorbachev Britain did not want German reunification

Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it.

In an extraordinary frank meeting with Mr Gorbachev in Moscow in 1989 — never before fully reported — Mrs Thatcher said the destabilisation of Eastern Europe and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact were also not in the West’s interests. She noted the huge changes happening across Eastern Europe, but she insisted that the West would not push for its decommunisation. Nor would it do anything to risk the security of the Soviet Union.

I'm skeptical of these revelations. Several years ago I read Margaret Thatcher's last book, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World. It was an excellent read and I look forward to revisiting it in light of these latest assertions.

The Iron Lady Meets the Pope

Contraception and Climate Change

Quite possibly the most contemptible, bizarre story I've ever come across, from The Telegraph (not The Onion, as one might think):

'Contraception cheapest way to combat climate change'

Contraception is almost five times cheaper as a means of preventing climate change than conventional green technologies, according to research by the London School of Economics.

Every £4 spent on family planning over the next four decades would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a ton, whereas a minimum of £19 would have to be spent on low-carbon technologies to achieve the same result, the research says.

The report, Fewer Emitter, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, concludes that family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended.

Talk about self-loathing... whittling down humanity based on the findings of junk science. And it is totally junk science. The degree to which Europeans, experts in the science of self-loathing, lap up this global warming claptrap is astounding and pathetic. At least here in the states, there remain holdouts of sanity.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rhetorical Slight of Hand

From National Review Online
Obama told people with insurance that “nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.” Note the careful formulation, which is technically true but deliberately misleading. The president knows full well that his plan will cause millions of people to lose their current coverage and that they are not going to catch the fact that his statement does not quite deny it. Obama said that “what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan” is “more security and stability.” Many of them can, in fact, expect to lose their coverage while paying higher premiums and taxes. Many other Americans can expect to lose their jobs thanks to Obama’s “employer mandate.”

I noticed this crafty phrasing ("requires you to change...") at the time as well, so typical of Obama Speak.

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies...


Even the Associated Press caught Obama's lies and exaggerations tonight.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama used only-in-Washington accounting Wednesday when he promised to overhaul the nation's health care system without adding "one dime" to the deficit. By conventional arithmetic, Democratic plans would drive up the deficit by billions of dollars.

The president's speech to Congress contained a variety of oversimplifications and omissions in laying out what he wants to do about health insurance.

The speech, or what I watched of it, was sickening; oddly appropriate I suppose when the celebratory theme for the night was the total destruction of our health care system.

The rule for Conservatives: Patience

Palin's Plan

Sarah Palin, writing for the Wall Street Journal, offers a sound critique of President Obama's approach to health care reform and, in the process, offers some serious ideas for real reform.
Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He's asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of "normal political channels," should guide decisions regarding that "huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . ."

Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through "normal political channels," they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Is a "Reform of the Reform" (finally) Coming?

From the NCRegister:
The Congregation for Divine Worship is declining to comment further on reports that the Vatican is considering a “reform of the reform” of the liturgy, but a formal statement on the matter is expected soon.

An official told the Register this morning that “everything is under study and is progressing” but added that he could say no more until Cardinal Antonio Llovera Cañizares, prefect of the congregation, or the Holy See Press Office, issues an official statement.

At the end of August, veteran Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli reported that cardinals and bishops of the CDW voted almost unanimously at their plenary meeting in March “in favor” of 30 proposals aimed at increasing reverence in the liturgy.

Tornielli said the bishops also reaffirmed the importance of receiving Communion on the tongue rather than the hand, and that Cardinal Canizares was studying the possibility of “recovering” the practice of celebrating Mass with the priest facing east. However, there are conflicting reports over whether these last two proposals were included in the propositions that Tornielli said were delivered to Pope Benedict XVI on April 4.

And so we wait.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Obama the Mortal, the Ordinary

An excellent piece by Charles Krauthammer:
Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance. Obama's reaction to that resistance made things worse. Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cardinal O'Malley Speaks


Cardinal O'Malley defended his decision on his blog to preside at the highly publicized Catholic Funeral Mass for Senator Ted Kennedy a couple of weeks ago. Frankly, the defense was a weak one, and that's being generous. With good reason, it could more accurately be called a LAME defense. In his piece, O'Malley describes Kennedy's jaw-dropping pro-abortion legislative record as simply a "disappointment" and goes on to ponder what might have been had the senator been on the front lines of the pro-life cause instead of being decidedly in the opposite camp. O'Malley then sings the praises of the Kennedy family tradition of Catholicism, especially as embodied in the matriarch, Rose Kennedy. Well, it's nice to wonder, to look back, and to wring our hands in speculative regret, but unfortunately O'Malley glosses over the central issue in his apologia, i.e., the scandal and confusion caused by a televised funeral MASS for a pro-abortion Catholic politician. (Never mind that the Mass itself, during the prayers of the faithful, was used in a shameless manner to showcase Ted Kennedy's legislative priorities on health care and other issues. You'd think the Cardinal could have insisted on the insertion of a prayer for the unborn at this juncture and, if there weren't any takers on reading it, he should have read it aloud himself. Another lost opportunity.) Ted Kennedy's long track record of supporting abortion and gay "marriage," all the while loudly touting his Catholicism is not just an "aw-shucks" disappointment, as O'Malley couches it. The public betrayal, on the part of Kennedy, of the core tenets of the Church's teaching on human life set a terrible precedent and was a poisonous scandal that, over the years, resulted in untold confusion and bewilderment among American Catholics. Kennedy's notorious penchant for argumentative calisthenics when it came to explaining away the glaring contradiction between his professed faith and his public record on life issues has been aped ad nauseam by large swaths of Catholics in this nation who, thanks to their Kennedy-tinted looking glass, see no problem whatsoever in voting "yea" on abortion "rights."

And what has the leadership in this country done to clear the air? Well, on the one hand, there are the voluminous pro-life statements emanating from the USCCB, the eloquent clarion calls that summon the faithful to rise to the defense of the unborn. Then, on the other hand, a prominent member of this august body presides at a public Funeral Mass for the nation's most conspicuous pro-abortion Catholic politician. (And another "prince" attends Kennedy's Catholic Rite of Burial in Arlington.) Just how are these conflicting words vs. deeds categories supposed to be squared away? How can Catholics take the leadership seriously the next time it talks about the imperative for Catholic voters to place the defense of the unborn at the top of the list when a man like Kennedy of all people is treated like Catholic royalty, another Charles V? This is not hyperbole. The televised Funeral Mass was grand in scale, with a Prince of the Church, several priests, the President and former presidents of the United States, together with members of Congress and the Supreme Court all in attendance. O'Malley's refusal to see a scandalous conflict of interests in terms of the public's perception of what was taking place and what was being tacitly approved with the Funeral Mass is nothing short of staggering. Remove the blinders, please!

It is a well-known fact that President Obama received a plurality of the Catholic vote in the last election. This sorry statistic should have played no small part in O'Malley's decision on the matter. It should have, but it didn't. It's no secret that a majority of Catholics in this nation are deeply confused about the Church's teaching on the question of abortion (or they simply disagree with it) and consequently give short shrift to the gravity of the issue when entering the ballot box. If the leadership refuses to take a bold stance on the issue by following up their words with deeds, why should the faithful? What is needed here is clear, unambiguous moral clarity and direction from those in charge, the bishops.

Amazingly, O'Malley seems to be unaware that the public spectacle of honoring a militantly pro-abortion politician via a televised Catholic Mass, all of which unfolded before his eyes and in his very presence, is the source of the totally justified outrage among faithful Catholics and defenders of the unborn.

Orthodox Jerusalem

Appearing in the The Guardian, David Shariatmadari gives a charming account of his impromptu participation in an early morning Orthodox procession in Jerusalem. There's a video that accompanies the article but, watching it, you get the sense that the video does poor justice to the experience of actually being there. You can't smell the incense, feel the crowd clamoring around you, etc. But Shariatmadari writes well, so you can get a good idea from reading the piece.
When I got to the square outside the Holy Sepulchre there were already a hundred or so people, milling about, many of them carrying unlit candles and bunches of mint. I wasn't sure at all what to expect apart from some kind of procession: I had in mind a plastic baby Jesus on a float or something. Positioning myself opposite a stone doorway, which was what everyone seemed to have their eyes on, I joined a line of eager Orthodox priests, nuns and tourists. I waited a long time. The voices around me were Russian, Greek and Arabic. There were a couple of false alarms: a commotion from just inside the doorway sparked a flurry of camera flashes, but no one emerged. And then, suddenly, the bells of the Holy Sepulchre burst out. And this was no quaint, English cathedral peal. It was an incredible din, like a gamelan at maximum volume. I imagined great plates of bronze being struck. It was startling, exhilarating, and suddenly I was wide awake.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Here to Stay?


Not surprisingly, Senator Kennedy's absence in the Senate is keenly felt within the bowels of the perennially agitated and restless "gay rights" community, a constituency and cause always near and dear to the "liberal lion's" heart, along with knocking down walls to abortion on demand, the vitriolic, blustering demonization of conservatives and the socialization of health care.

Liberal angst is percolating over perceived Democratic foot-dragging over the controversial question of repealing "don't ask don't tell." During the campaign, Obama promised ad nauseam to overturn the policy so that gays could serve openly in the military. Bill Clinton's reckless dabbling in this hornet's nest (along with foolishly placing health care in Hillary's care) helped turn the Congress over to Republicans in '94 for the first time in some forty years. Déjà vu, anyone? From Politico:
When gay rights advocates march on Washington in October, they’ll be confronting a bleak political landscape in their effort to allow gays to openly serve in the military.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the Senate is swamped and has little time on the schedule for this fight. The Pentagon brass is reticent and wants a go-slow strategy, while a majority of the rank and file in the military opposes changing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law. With no Republican co-sponsors for a repeal, key moderate Democrats such as Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas remain uncommitted.

And the Senate’s patron saint of this cause, Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), died before being able to introduce long-promised bipartisan legislation to overturn "don’t ask, don’t tell".

I've linked to this several times already, but repetition isn't always a bad thing. MacKubin Thomas Owens wrote an excellent piece explaining why the president and congress shouldn't overturn "don't ask, don't tell." Read it here.

Health Care Across the Pond

From the Telegraph:
Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors warn today.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn. As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states.

Macabre news like this should help snuff out any lingering enthusiasm for a single-payer plan...should but won't. This (like all things to liberals) is about ideology, not about what actually works best.

eDivorce

From the Associated Press
Brazil Senate passes speedy Internet divorce bill

BRASILIA, Brazil – The Brazilian Senate has approved a bill that would allow consensual divorces to be filed and resolved on the Internet.

The Senate's official news agency says the bill would speed divorce proceedings, allowing couples to split without lawyers or having to wait in line in court.

Get 'em While They're Young

"'Classroom activities' to coincide with Obama's message" to America's children...Should parents be concerned? What about all Americans? I've heard some pretty wild stories about little kids in school being fed sunny Obama propaganda under the guise of "celebrating the historic nature of his presidency," and all that jazz. Legitimate charges of bias and indoctrination will, of course, be painted as racism, etc. Brace yourself.
A suggested lesson plan that calls on school kids to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help President Obama is troubling some education experts, who say it establishes the president as a "superintendent in chief" and may indoctrinate children to support him politically.

Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on Tuesday, which will be the first day of classes for many children across the country. The address, to be broadcast live on the White House's Web site, was announced in a letter to school principals last week by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Obama intends to "challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning," Duncan wrote. Obama will also call for a "shared responsibility" among students, parents and educators to maximize learning potential.

But in advance of the address, the Department of Education has offered educators "classroom activities" to coincide with Obama's message.

Read on

Remember THIS?

Global Warming and the Sun


From Jonah Goldberg, appearing in National Review Online:
But we live in a moment when we are told, nay lectured and harangued, that if we use the wrong toilet paper or eat the wrong cereal, we are frying the planet. But the sun? Well, that’s a distraction. Don’t you dare forget your reusable shopping bags, but pay no attention to that burning ball of gas in the sky — it’s just the only thing that prevents the planet from being a lifeless ball of ice engulfed in darkness. Never mind that sunspot activity doubled during the 20th century, when the bulk of global warming has taken place.

What does it say that the modeling that guaranteed disastrous increases in global temperatures never predicted the halt in planetary warming since the late 1990s? (MIT’s Richard Lindzen says that “there has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”) What does it say that the modelers have only just now discovered how sunspots make the Earth warmer?