Monday, November 30, 2009

On the Art of War


“As a portrait painter I am drawn to the human drama, the psychology and bravery. In the theatre of war, experience is condensed, there is an intensification of life.”

From the Telegraph: Arabella Dorman spent about a month as a war artist, embedded with British troops in Afghanistan. In the process, she whipped up some powerful portraits.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Art Appreciation

Annibale Carracci's Coronation of the Virgin

Read more about Baroque Rome here.

The Nuclear Family, No More?

From the Telegraph:
Nuclear family is broken warns parents' group:

The traditional nuclear family has irretrievably broken down and it will soon become normal for children to be raised by relations other than their parents, the head of a Government-funded parenting group has predicted.


Aunts, uncles, grandparents and even siblings will take on increasing childcare responsibilities in a form of “communal parenting” to cope with the effects of marital breakdown and growing pressures in the workplace, according to the Family and Parenting Institute.

Rising divorce rates, fewer marriages and the growth of civil partnerships mean that the traditional family model is no longer “the norm” and Government efforts to rescue it are futile, according to Dr Katherine Rake, the organisation’s new chief executive.

Liturgy: There to Here in 40 Years

How did Catholic liturgy, once awe-inspiring and ineffable to behold, so quickly find itself laden down by the accretions of gringe-worthy soppiness, folderol and kitsch? Some answers may be found in excerpts from an excellent article written by Kenneth J. Wolfe, appearing in the New York Times (of all places):
...it was Pius himself who was largely responsible for the momentous changes of 1969. It was he who appointed the chief architect of the new Mass, Annibale Bugnini, to the Vatican’s liturgical commission in 1948.

Bugnini was born in 1912 and ordained a Vincentian priest in 1936. Though Bugnini had barely a decade of parish work, Pius XII made him secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform. In the 1950s, Bugnini led a major revision of the liturgies of Holy Week. As a result, on Good Friday of 1955, congregations for the first time joined the priest in reciting the Pater Noster, and the priest faced the congregation for some of the liturgy.

The next pope, John XXIII, named Bugnini secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of Vatican II, in which position he worked with Catholic clergymen and, surprisingly, some Protestant ministers on liturgical reforms. In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.

Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, “We must strip from our ... Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.”

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.
(Emphasis added)

It's not a stretch to propose that the virtual disappearance of a distinct Catholic culture and identity in the United States can be traced directly back to this attack on the ancient liturgy. Thanks to this experiment to make the Church more congenial to Protestants, an entire generation of Catholics (perhaps even more by now) has been denied the beautiful celebration of the liturgy that their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on and so on, going back over one-thousand years, experienced. Bugnini's wrecking ball changed all that within the short span of forty years. It's both remarkable and sad.

Swiss Surprise


From the BBC:
Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters from 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

Raising questions about the political underpinnings and agenda of the Islamic creed is entirely legitimate. Muslims in Switzerland will understandably question the Swiss commitment to freedom of religious expression, but that very freedom to express one's faith publicly is denied to Christians in many Muslim countries as well.

If the people of Switzerland (and Europe in general) were dedicated to passing on their traditions, this, coupled with a strong birth-rate and a high percentage of practicing Christians, would make concerns about Muslims and minarets less pressing.

More on the Climate Change Industry

Peter Hitchens has a great piece on the climate change hoax, appearing in the Daily Mail:
Many people – and bodies – presented as experts actually have little or no knowledge of the science involved. Gullible politicians and gullible media men and women have repeatedly fallen for it.

Hucksters, profiteers, world-government fanatics and, of course, the EU (always searching for an excuse to increase its power) have latched on to it.

Huge public subsidies, including the carbon-trading racket and the tragicomic building of hideous, worse-than-useless windfarms, now depend upon it.

But take, just for example, the famous picture of polar bears on a melting ice-floe, supposedly doomed victims of global warming.

The USA’s ex-Vice President, the propagandist Al Gore, got audiences going ‘Aaah!’ by saying the bears had ‘nowhere else to go’. Really? The picture was taken in August, when the Alaskan ice always melts. The polar bears were fine. Think about it.

They can swim and they weren’t far from land. Recent studies show that most polar bear populations are rising.

The world was warmer than it is now in the early Middle Ages, long before industrial activity increased CO2 output, a fact that the warming fanatics have worked very hard to obscure.

Oh, and the most important greenhouse gas by far is not CO2 but water vapour, which is not influenced by human activity at all.

Meanwhile, an English court of law (despite buying the CO2 argument) has identified nine significant errors of fact in Gore’s Oscar-winning alarmist film An Inconvenient Truth, ludicrously being inflicted on children in British schools.

Among these: sea levels are not going to rise by 20ft any time soon; there’s no evidence that atolls in the Pacific have been evacuated because of rising waters; the Gulf Stream is not going to shut down; the drying-up of Lake Chad, the shrinking of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and Hurricane Katrina were none of them caused by global warming; the only polar bears that have drowned were four that died in a storm.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Blogger vs. Castro

Old Havana

Yoani Sanchez is waging war against the Castro regime in Cuba. For that she has been harassed and beaten. Her crime: speaking the truth about life under the Castro brothers. Her weapon of choice: her blog. From the Telegraph:
Attacking a blogger might seem an unnecessary strategy in Cuba, where access to the internet is amongst the lowest in the world and only a small number of carefully vetted individuals are allowed to have internet accounts at home. Ms Sanchez believes her roughing up was a signal that the days of tolerance of Cuba's embryonic blogging community are over. "The Cuban government is currently nervous, as a result of the dire state of the economy", she said.

When Raul Castro took over the reins of power from his ailing elder brother, Fidel, three years ago, there were high hopes that the changeover might usher in an era of greater political freedom and economic growth. Instead, the younger Castro is now at the helm of a country which appears close to bankruptcy, the global economic crisis having left the country facing shortages not seen since its chief benefactor, the Soviet Union, collapsed in the early 1990s.

When will this rotting, corrupt regime finally be done away with?

Friday, November 27, 2009

SEALs, Revisited

News that borders on the surreal. From the New York Post:
Punch a terrorist -- head for the brig.

Welcome to America's thoroughly modern military.

The notion beggars the imagination, but three Navy SEALs who helped capture one of the most notorious terrorists in Iraq now face courts-martial -- because the terrorist acquired a bloody lip after the takedown.

Ahmed Hashim Abed organized the brutal 2004 attack on four US civilian contractors working as security guards in Fallujah. After murdering the guards, terrorists dragged their bodies through the city, burning and hanging two of them over the Euphrates Bridge.

Fast forward to this past summer: Navy Petty Officers Matthew McCabe, Jonathan Keefe and Julio Huertas were part of a SEAL team that captured Abed.

Abed complained that he was punched on Sept. 1 during his initial detention. A fat, bloody lip was offered up as proof.
Imagine that.

Now McCabe is charged with assault, dereliction of duty and making a false statement; Keefe is charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement; Huertas has the same charges as Keefe, plus one of impeding an investigation...

And so the SEALs will be arraigned on Dec. 7 -- another reason for the date to live in infamy.

The Sacred Made Real

Archbishop Vincent Nichols offers a beautiful reflection on three stunning works of art from the Spanish Baroque period. The exhibit, called The Sacred Made Real, is currently on display at the National Gallery in London.

The Sacred Made Real from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

Trouble Looms for the President

Peggy Noonan has an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal:
Mr Obama is in a hard place. Health care hangs over him, and if he is lucky he will lose a close vote in the Senate. The common wisdom that he can't afford to lose is exactly wrong—he can't afford to win with such a poor piece of legislation. He needs to get the issue behind him, vow to fight another day, and move on. Afghanistan hangs over him, threatening the unity of his own Democratic congressional base. There is the growing perception of incompetence, of the inability to run the machine of government. This, with Americans, is worse than Obama's rebranding as a leader who governs from the left. Americans demands baseline competence. If he comes to be seen as Jimmy Carter was, that the job was bigger than the man, that will be the end.

More Fallout from Climategate

From the Wall Street Journal:
The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at in the first place, and how even now a single view is being enforced. In short, the impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.

According to this privileged group, only those whose work has been published in select scientific journals, after having gone through the "peer-review" process, can be relied on to critique the science. And sure enough, any challenges that critics have lobbed at climatologists from outside this clique are routinely dismissed and disparaged.

This is starting to get interesting...

Pope to Beatify Newman


From the Catholic Herald Online:
The Pope is to waive his own rules so he can preside in person over the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman during a papal visit to Britain next year, according to sources close to the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI will personally take charge of the ceremony to declare the Victorian convert Blessed when he visits England in early September at the invitation of Gordon Brown.

The Pope has previously insisted that all beatifications are carried out by a Vatican official in the diocese in which the candidate died, which in Newman's case is Birmingham.

But because the Pope has such a strong devotion to Cardinal Newman and his theological writings he has decided to break his own rules and beatify the cardinal himself.

Senate Bill

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, takes a look at the bill up for debate in the Senate:
Throw a dart at the Senate tome:

- You’ll find mandates with financial penalties — the amounts picked out of a hat.

- You’ll find insurance companies (who live and die by their actuarial skills) told exactly what weight to give risk factors, such as age. Currently, insurance premiums for 20-somethings are about one-sixth the premiums for 60-somethings. The House bill dictates the young shall now pay at minimum one-half; the Senate bill, one-third — numbers picked out of a hat.

- You’ll find sliding scales for health-insurance subsidies — percentages picked out of a hat — that will radically raise marginal income tax rates for middle-class recipients, among other crazy unintended consequences.

The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool.

The Right Kind of Setback

From the Associated Press
MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey - The state-to-state march to legalize gay marriage across the left-leaning northeastern United States has lost more momentum since a major setback three weeks ago at the ballot box in Maine.

Since then, legislatures in New York and New Jersey have failed to schedule long-expected votes on bills to recognize the unions in those states.

"If they are unable to pass gay marriage in New York and New Jersey, combined with the loss in Maine, it will confirm that gay marriage is not the inevitable wave of the future," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which mobilizes social conservatives to fight against same-sex unions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks

Liturgical Disconnect



Today, it hit me (again): Do we nurture, in the United States, a distinct Catholic culture and identity, apart from the ubiquitousness of corny English hymns? (Of course, I speak with the implicit recognition that Christ in the Eucharist is the singular source of unity of the liturgy. I am not speaking in terms of the Sacrament, but rather the aesthetic.) In fact, with regard to sacred music, the saccharine hymns of the past thirty years or so seem to be one of the stand-out, unifying marks of the Catholic Church in America.

I attended Mass at the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis today. The building's design is inspired by Saint Mark's in Venice and, going back even further in Church history, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople. In other words, it is simply breathtaking, in all of its byzantine splendor. I say regularly that it is easily one of the most beautiful churches in the nation, perhaps even in the Americas. Gold, mosaics, marble and candles are everywhere. Upon entering, the church's setting instantly captures you and elevates the mind and soul to things above. Adding an even richer touch to the already impressive mise en scène of the Cathedral today was the presence of Archbishop Robert Carlson, who celebrated the Mass. In short, all of the stars were aligned for a memorable encounter with beauty. The choice of hymns, however raised some questions. The choir of the Cathedral is excellent, at the technical level, served by dedicated, decent and hard-working people. But what is conspicuously lacking is an appreciation for Latin and the theology of sacred music, and their place in liturgy. Today, for instance, hymn after hymn came from the schmaltzy pen of Marty Haugen. "Taste and See" was (shudder!) the Communion song. How utterly predictable and in line with the mediocrity of the past thirty years! Two tectonic plates, one representing the Cathedral's beauty and the other, the mawkish tone of the hymn, clashed violently inside my mind as the song expanded to fill every crevice of the mighty church. "America the Beautiful" was the recessional "hymn"; a lovely song, I'll be the first to argue, but it is in no way a sacred hymn, and therefore it really has no place in the liturgy, even if it is inserted as the recessional hymn on Thanksgiving day. Save it for the parades and rallies. One would hope that, in light of the majesty of the Venetian-styled Cathedral, the presence of the Archbishop, and, of course, the sacrifice of the Mass, a more solemn selection of hymns would have been offered, but it was not to be. Latin hymns are woefully sparse at the Cathedral-Basilica, an oddity that is nothing short of astonishing. On those very rare occasions that the choir churns out a Gloria, a Sanctus and an Agnus Dei, they are done beautifully, which makes its eschewing of the language and hymns all the more curious. Taken together, this evinces disturbing lack of understanding of the role and place of sacred music in liturgy. It's fine to have the technical skills to carry a tune, but grasping the theology behind sacred music's genius is yet another skill that requires training and study.

Looking back on my years in Rome, I will never forget the experience of attending a Papal Mass in Saint Peter's. The choir would always chant the Gloria, Credo, Santus, and Agnus Dei in LATIN. (Most of the liturgy was, in fact, offered in Latin.) Words cannot do justice to hearing "Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus..." echo through the cavernous basilica, in the presence of the Pope. Immersed in such beauty (the Baroque basilica, the Latin hymns, and in the presence of the successor to Saint Peter) the mind, soul and heart are caught up and carried to the very heights of heaven. And isn't that just what they're supposed to do? All the manifestations of beauty present are coherent, unified. And, as far as human efforts go, they serve as a fitting tribute to God among us in the Eucharist. Time and again, year after year, under the roof of that basilica, I stood with thousands of faithful from around the globe. We came from different countries, spoke different languages, adhered to different cultures and traditions, but with those ancient hymns, around that pope, we were all one: one God, one faith, one language. It would be difficult to find a more convincing location to experience and understand what the universality of the Church really means. Stepping outside the basilica, pilgrims fall back into their native tongues, but inside, if only for the duration of the Mass, e pluribus unum, one.

The cringe-worthy music that so dominates the liturgical life in the United States (the same music I grew up with in Milwaukee) is truly a thing to lament and seek to overturn. That it carries the day in modernist, gymnasium-esque church buildings is not surprising, but when it seeps into such sanctums as the resplendent Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, more forceful objections ought to be raised, in defense of beauty, first and foremost, but also in defense of good taste.

Schmaltzy Marty Haugen Hymn + Byzantine-Inspired Cathedral-Basilica = Painful Disconnect. The two don't jibe.

"Merry Christmas" said the Muslim

From The Independent:
Suheil Azam was sitting in a coffee shop in east London last month when one his friends began a debate on whether it was permissible under Islamic scripture for Muslims to wish their non-Muslim friends happy Christmas. As a 23-year-old professional who socialises widely, Mr Azam had never considered the possibility that someone in his community might frown upon him for going round to his neighbours at Christmas or partying during New Year. But his friend, who had become increasingly devout, was adamant that such behaviour was haram (forbidden).

"Personally I think he's wrong," explained Mr Azam. "But it's difficult to argue against him because all the information he gets is taken from the internet and it makes him sound very knowledgeable."

Such a debate between two young British Muslims would have been almost unthinkable two decades ago. But today it is frequently the internet that young Muslims turn to when looking for spiritual advice. And what they find in cyberspace is often shockingly intolerant. "Do not congratulate [the unbeliever] on their festivals in any way whatsoever," warns one prominent site. "That implies approval of their festival and not denouncing them."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Bolton was RIGHT

I've always defended John Bolton on this blog; he is brilliant and boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of international relations and UN machinations. His vilification over the years by the left makes the following story all the more sweet. From CBS News' Richard Grenell:
I certainly don't expect the New York Times to admit that one of their greatest bogeymen turned out to be correct about Iran's nuclear game-playing. However, the Times Editorial Board did once say "John Bolton is right. Kofi Annan is wrong."

Unfortunately it wasn't about the Iran nuclear issue they were talking about - it was about his opposition to the UN's ineffective Human Rights Council.

Nevertheless, someone needs to say it now. John Bolton was right.

When the Obama Administration proclaimed victory on October 1st by announcing that a break-through had been reached in Geneva and that Iran had committed to shipping 2,600 pounds of fuel to Russia, expert Iran watchers were appropriately cynical. Bolton cautioned, yet again, that the Iranians had used some of the same diplomatic nuances they had been using for years to successfully buy more time to continue enriching uranium and fake cooperation with the international community.

Usually, the Europeans were the first to take the bait but this time the Obama Administration got hooked first. Bolton, however, was the first to stand up and call the Iranian pronouncement a sham - and he did it within hours of the announcement.

The Deepening Scandal of Climategate

From the Daily Mail
The controversy surrounding the global warming scandal today deepened after a BBC correspondent admitted he was sent the leaked emails more than a month before they were made public. Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate change expert, claims the documents allegedly sent between some of the world's leading scientists are of a direct result of an article he wrote.

In his BBC blog two days ago, Hudson said: 'I was forwarded the chain of emails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the world's leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article "Whatever Happened To Global Warming".'

That essay, written last month, argued that for the last 11 years there had not been an increase in global temperatures. It also presented the arguments of sceptics who believe natural cycles control temperature and the counter-arguments of those who think it's man's actions which are warming the planet.

Catholics and the Crown



From the Times Online:
Gordon Brown today sparked controversy on the eve of the Commonwealth summit by suggesting he backs the sweeping away of 300-year-old laws that prevent Roman Catholics ascending to the Throne ...The law in question is the Act of Settlement of 1701 which was passed to prevent the return of the Catholic Stuarts.

Whatever Brown's motives, this is long overdue.

The Great...Divider?

Leaders across the pond, concerned about NATO's direction in Afghanistan, are growing impatient with America's leadership void. From The Telegraph:
Mr Ainsworth took the unprecedented step of publicly criticising the US President and his delays in sending more troops to bolster the mission against the Taliban.

A “period of hiatus” in Washington - and a lack of clear direction - had made it harder for ministers to persuade the British public to go on backing the Afghan mission in the face of a rising death toll, he said.

Obama's 'dithering' hurts Afghan mission, British sources say.

Senior British Government sources have become increasingly frustrated with Mr Obama’s “dithering” on Afghanistan, the Daily Telegraph disclosed earlier this month, with several former British defence chiefs echoing the concerns.

But Mr Ainsworth is the first Government minister to express in public what amounts to personal criticism of the US president’s leadership over the conflict which has so far cost 235 British lives.

The Swiss Take on the Minarets



From the Times Online:
Ah, Switzerland, its Alpine pastures, its milk chocolate, its army knives and… its minarets. You might get that impression from the poster above. It is featuring in a campaign for one of those people's votes that only the Swiss come up with. The whole country votes on Sunday on a move to ban minarets from the country.

The controversial poster is not visible in the orderly, picturesque streets of Berne, the capital, where I have been talking to parliamentarians this morning, but it nevertheless represents an idea that a sizable minority of the Swiss agree with, according to the polls. There are too many Muslims in Switzerland and they should not be allowed to impose their religion in public, the argument goes. It is one of those Swiss paradoxes that the country which is most associated with tolerance, democracy and consensus should stage such a provocative referendum.

The Swiss should spend their time worrying about their suicidal birthrate.

Mirror, Mirror...


A Complex?

Just saw this on Drudge: Obama leaves White House clutching GQ magazine -- featuring himself.
This, after it was reported that he spent election night a few weeks ago watching (for the second time) an HBO documentary...about himself.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SEALs Face Charges



Enter the Age of Obama: From Fox News
Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

News flash: SEALs can be rough. Who knew they could faces charges for that in their own country?

Lone Survivor is an excellent read for those interested in learning more about the kind of men who serve our nation as Navy SEALs.

Refusing to Wait



From ABC News, Marines in Afghanistan Not Waiting for Obama's Strategy:
Marines in Southern Afghanistan aren't waiting around for Washington to decide on a new strategy. Here at Forward Operating Base, or FOB, Delaram Marines are putting into action counter-insurgency tactics aimed at chasing away Taliban fighters and returning the towns and villages within this vast area of Afghanistan to some sense of stability.

As their own commander in chief dithers, golfs and entertains, who can blame the Marines for grabbing the bull by the horns?

Fixing Evidence

Well worth a read, from the Washington Times:
Scientific progress depends on accurate and complete data. It also relies on replication. The past couple of days have uncovered some shocking revelations about the baloney practices that pass as sound science about climate change.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that computer hackers had obtained 160 megabytes of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England. Those e-mails involved communication among many scientific researchers and policy advocates with similar ideological positions all across the world. Those purported authorities were brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global-warming claims.

Seven Stimulus Lies

From National Review Online's Stephen Spruiell:
There have been dozens of news reports exposing tens of thousands of stimulus jobs as frauds — David Freddoso and Mark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner put the number of phony jobs at about 75,000. They found more than 100 separate incidents, but these incidents can be grouped into seven categories, representing the seven biggest lies the administration is telling you about the stimulus:

Read on here.

Wonders Never Cease

I actually came across a link to an article from Newsweek entitled, "The Science of How We See Obama's Skin Color". Incredible and kind of pathetic, but demonstrating yet again that the left, and not the right, is obsessed with all things racial. Get over it! What happened to journalism in this country?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Viva Albita!

I'm thrilled over this discovery: one of my favorite singers, Albita Rodriguez is a Republican. It's so refreshing to see an entertainer with her priorities in line. Albita is famous for her mastery of Cuban folk music and for her knack for improvisation. She defected from Cuba back in the 90's. Here, she is performing at a McCain rally last November in Miami, telling the crowd over and over again to vote for McCain. Watch her bring a 90-year old on stage do a little rumba.



And this one is just too good to pass up: Parranda, Laud y Son

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Banned

From the AP:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beyond Recognition

A revealing story from the Daily Mail:
Sarah Robinson was just a teenager when World War II broke out. She endured the Blitz, watching for fires during Luftwaffe air raids armed with a bucket of sand. Often she would walk ten miles home from work in the blackout, with bombs falling around her. As soon as she turned 18, she joined the Royal Navy to do her bit for the war effort.

Hers was a small part in a huge, history-making enterprise, and her contribution epitomises her generation's sense of service and sacrifice.

Nearly 400,000 Britons died. Millions more were scarred by the experience, physically and mentally.

But was it worth it? Her answer - and the answer of many of her contemporaries, now in their 80s and 90s - is a resounding No. They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It's not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.

Sarah harks back to the days when 'people kept the laws and were polite and courteous. We didn't have much money, but we were contented and happy. 'People whistled and sang. There was still the United Kingdom, our country, which we had fought for, our freedom, democracy. But where is it now?!'

The feelings of Sarah and others from this most selfless generation about the modern world have been recorded by a Tyneside writer, 33-year-old Nicholas Pringle.

Curious about his grandmother's generation and what they did in the war, he decided three years ago to send letters to local newspapers across the country asking for those who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences.

He rounded off his request with this question: 'Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?'

What is extraordinary about the 150 replies he received, which he has now published as a book, is their vehement insistence that those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war would now be turning in their graves.

'I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,' wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, 'and I wonder why I ever tried.'

Thank multiculturalism, suicidal birth-rates (contraception), a huge influx of (mostly Muslim) immigration, and swaths of youth who just don't give a damn, and there you have it: a dying nation and culture with some people old enough to observe what's happening and weep over it.

Discussions


From the Associated Press:
VATICAN CITY – The archbishop of Canterbury held his first talks Saturday with Pope Benedict XVI since the Roman Catholic church's unprecedented invitation to disaffected Anglicans, with the Vatican saying the two sides still want to press ahead for closer relations.

Archbishop Rowan Williams and Benedict met privately for 20 minutes in what the Vatican called "cordial discussions," as part of what has clearly been a difficult visit by the Anglican leader.

The Vatican said in a brief statement that the two leaders "turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities" and the need "to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges."

Referring to the recent overture for traditional Anglicans upset over the ordination of women and gay bishops to become Catholics, it said the talks reiterated "the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Media Ambush, Media Bias, Media Joke

Without a doubt, this ranks as one of the most outrageous video clip I have ever posted on the Forum. Watch MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell ambush a 17 year-old Sarah Palin supporter, and note the snide remarks afterward. Imagine a reporter daring to talk to a little Obama supporter like this!

Shroud News

From the Associated Press:
ROME – A Vatican researcher claims a nearly invisible text on the Shroud of Turin proves the authenticity of the artifact revered as Jesus' burial cloth.

The claim made in a new book by historian Barbara Frale drew immediate skepticism from some scientists, who maintain the shroud is a medieval forgery.

Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, said Friday that she used computers to enhance images of faintly written words in Greek, Latin and Aramaic scattered across the shroud.

She asserts the words include the name "Jesus Nazarene" in Greek, proving the text could not be of medieval origin because no Christian at the time, even a forger, would have labeled Jesus a Nazarene without referring to his divinity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scant Time for Celebration

Bishop Jerome Listecki, of the Diocese of La Crosse, will soon travel three hours east to take the helm of the beleaguered Archdiocese of Milwaukee. As visitors to this blog are well aware, I'm less than sunny about the state of the Catholic Church in that city. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that, after eight years of Archbishop Dolan, a restoration is already well underway, but this is emphatically not the case. For the better part of the last ten years or so, I've lived outside of Milwaukee, and every time I return home for a visit, I hope to notice some small sign of improvement, some indication that things are on the rebound. But, time after time, year after year, I've noticed that the status quo ante remains the norm in Milwaukee.

To be honest, I am thoroughly tired of returning to this depressing theme since, to me and others, it is nothing new. It's just jaw-dropping that people who should know better cannot perceive the ubiquitousness of the wreckage in Milwaukee Archdiocese. So for that reason, it bears repeating, once more:

The Catholic schools, in terms of fidelity to Church teaching, are in an atrocious state. I speak from experience.

The typical Catholic parish in Milwaukee is a bastion of liturgical abuse. These abuses have long since become normative, so that many Catholis are completely unaware of what, in fact, should be happening during Mass, as opposed to what they are experiencing, week after week. Again, I speak from experience.

The Catholic culture and identity of the city have been utterly decimated after over thirty years of shilly-shally from the leadership, only to be replaced with soft-sofa relativism, milquetoast preaching and aberrant theology. (Note the ever-dwindling number of Catholics in the city over the past several decades.)


The veracity of this catalogue of grievances is obvious to anyone who isn't completely blinded by the myopic provincialism of the place. Unfortunately for every-day, hard working Milwaukee Catholics, their archdiocese has been suffocating as a result of rampant abuse and institutionalized corruption (of course, stemming from the Weakland epoch of over a quarter of a century; an era that, stunningly, remains intact to this very day).

Bishop Listecki will need a superabundance of prayers as he assumes the mighty job of setting a massive, listless ship back on course. He certainly has his work cut out for him. The choices are as follows: In a delirium tremens, we can pretend that everything is peaches and cream in Milwaukee and watch the slow demise of a once-great center of Catholic culture, or someone at the top can finally make some long-overdue, tough decisions about the serious changes that need to be implemented from the top down. Then, perhaps, there just may be a chance for our beloved archdiocese.

Appropriate?

A Thousand Words

I'm aware that in many Asian countries bowing is a rather common way to greet someone. Still, bowing also has other associations in many other countries around the world, i.e., submission before a superior power, etc. The image alone, of one man bowing before another, is powerful, regardless of the particular cultural context in which it occurred. So, when the President of the United States of America, the Commander in Chief of the military, makes a profound bow before the emperor of another nation, Americans have good reason to be outraged.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Oba Mao"

From the Associated Press
BEIJING – The Chinese have learned English from his speeches and celebrated the way he rolls up his sleeves. Now President Barack Obama is finally coming, and he's being greeted with "Oba Mao" T-shirts and a statue of him that bursts into flames...

One Beijing shop owner wanted to see what Obama could do for sales. Liu Mingjie created "Oba Mao" T-shirts, with the president wearing the uniform of the Red Guards, who caused chaos during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

And there you have it.

Circus Court

From National Review's The Corner, here is Andy McCarthy's take on the Obama Administration's decision to try 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) in federal courts:
So: We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case — they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see — in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America's defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us.

Blame Volcanos for CO2


Ian Plimer is a distinguished scientist raising serious objections to the climate-change alarmist movement. He better watch his back. From the Telegraph:
Professor Ian Plimer, a geologist from Adelaide University, argues that a recent rise in temperature around the world is caused by solar cycles and other "extra terrestrial" forces.

He said carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, widely blamed for global warming, is a natural phenomenon caused by volcanoes erupting.

"We cannot stop carbon emissions because most of them come from volcanoes," he said. "It is a normal element cycled around in the earth and my science, which is looking back in time, is saying we have had a planet that has been a green, warm wet planet 80 per cent of the time. We have had huge climate change in the past and to think the very slight variations we measure today are the result of our life - we really have to put ice blocks in our drinks."

Most mainstream scientists agree that the recent warming period was caused by an increase in carbon dioxide since the industrial revolution.

However Prof Plimer said the world has experienced three periods of cooling since 1850 and furthermore carbon dioxide was increasing during many of those cooler periods.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I finally finished The Road to Serfdom, by the incomparable Friedrich Hayek. It is a remarkable book, very clear and fluid, and exceptionally relevant for today. It should be required reading at all universities, and on Capitol Hill (good luck). I underlined so much in it that I might as well not have underlined anything at all.

Greek Fire


The Greek Orthodox Church is coming to the aid of Catholics in Italy after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes must be removed from Italy's public schools. From BBC News
The Greek Orthodox Church is urging Christians across Europe to unite in an appeal against a ban on crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled last week that the presence of crucifixes violated a child's right to freedom of religion. Greece's Orthodox Church fears the Italian case will set a precedent.

It has called an emergency Holy Synod meeting for next week to devise an action plan.

Although the Greek Orthodox Church has been at odds with Roman Catholicism for 1,000 years, the judicial threat to Christian symbols has acted as a unifying force.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Catholic SLU


How Catholic is Saint Louis University? Perhaps the better questions ought to be: How seriously does the university take its Catholic history, tradition, culture, etc., and what obligation do the administrators feel in transmitting that culture to the students? The other day, curiosity led me to the bookstore on Saint Louis University's campus. I wanted to get a sense of what it offers the students, in terms of spiritual reading, Catholic formation, etc. As it turns out, the university bookstore is operated by (or outsourced to) Barnes and Noble, so it's pretty much a mini-B&N, with some SLU hoodies, mugs and other school spirit paraphernalia to boot. The store is located in the Busch Student Center, in the heart of SLU's campus.

Allow me to jump ahead for a moment. After perusing the bookstore, I wanted to get the lay of the land of the student center. A little bit down the hallway from the bookstore I came upon the "Cross Cultural Center" (or something to that effect), a spacious area, decorated with all sorts of African art and nick-nacks. There were some couches, tables and chairs; it was a student lounge, basically, for the university's "ethnic" students, I imagine. To me, it came across as forced and contrived, like all multicultural spasms in a politically correct culture. I wondered: How does one gain access to the "Cross-Cultural Center"? Do you have to demonstrate sufficient ethic and diversity credentials? How many of the Cross-Cultural Center denizens speak more than one language, or have lived abroad and seriously engaged foreign cultures? What is the ultimate purpose of the Cross-Cultural Center? Anyway, across from the diversity salon was the information desk. To my surprise, I caught notice of a large crucifix above the information desk and also a large icon of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The happy thoughts over these two manifestations of Catholic identity were soon dashed, however, for just a short distance down the hall was a huge, grotesque painting of a recumbent, nude woman sharing the pose with a companion doing...who knows what. One reason I loathe abstract art is that it's often impossible to tell what the subjects in the work are doing. In this case, it was probably better that way.

Back to the bookstore: Now, one might expect that, at a Catholic university, the administrators and president would be interested in providing their students with an array of Catholic resources to assist them with their formation as Catholics. Where is a good place to offer such things? Bookstores! Books on the faith, the lives of saints, ethics and morality, etc. are all essential tools in the formation process. But at SLU's swank campus bookstore, scant traces of Catholic literature or identity were evident, and nothing was conspicuously displayed. In fact, Ted Kennedy's autobiography had a higher place of honor than the Pope's Jesus of Nazareth. (But of course, I'm aware that for some, Kennedy is all but officially canonized.) For what it's worth, the magazine section looked pretty much like what you'd find at a typical Barnes and Noble (present were GQ, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, etc.), minus the most offensive stuff. It would have been refreshing to see some substantive journals like First Things and Inside the Vatican, but no.

So, as small, secular bookstores go, this one was okay. But what about the fact that this is the principal bookstore on the grounds of a major Catholic university? No effort was made to feature and highlight Catholic literature in any special way. Certainly, a bookstore offering a wide selection of Catholic materials (prayer books, biographies, rosaries, icons, prayer cards, etc.), located in the middle of a bustling university, would provide a great service to the students' spiritual needs. If the university leaders would place as much effort in transmitting a Catholic culture as they do in assuring us of their "Cross-Cultural" perspectives, the state of Catholicism in the nation would no doubt be better than it is today.

Bending Under Pressure

A timely piece by Elaine Donnelly, writing for National Review Online:
Some ironies are more than cruel. On the day that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan approached Fort Hood armed with two handguns, he may have passed a newsstand selling copies of the November 9 edition of Army Times. On the front page was a photograph of a Sikh soldier wearing a beard, mustache, and turban with his uniform, accompanied by the headline, “Regs Make Way for Religion — Sikh, Muslim Allowed to Incorporate Customs into Army Dress.”

Maj. Gen. Gina S. Farrisee, acting deputy chief of staff for Army personnel at the Pentagon, had granted a “religious accommodation” exception for Capt. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh physician. Without providing a reason for the special treatment, General Farrisee’s October 22 letter stated that Captain Kalsi would be allowed to wear uncut hair, a turban, and a beard with his uniform.

When will this stop?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Greetings!

From the Daily Mail Online:


Any wonder that perspectives are beginning to change?

The Truth

The real issue at stake with health care "reform", from the WSJ:
So let's give credit to John Cassidy, part of the left-wing stable at the New Yorker, who wrote last week on its Web site that "it's important to be clear about what the reform amounts to."

Mr. Cassidy is more honest than the politicians whose dishonesty he supports. "The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment," he writes. "Let's not pretend that it isn't a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won't. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind."

High Command Taking the Bait


Dorthoy Rabinowitz, writing for the Wall Street Journal:
It can by now come as no surprise that the Fort Hood massacre yielded an instant flow of exculpatory media meditations on the stresses that must have weighed on the killer who mowed down 13 Americans and wounded 29 others. Still, the intense drive to wrap this clear case in a fog of mystery is eminently worthy of notice.

The tide of pronouncements and ruminations pointing to every cause for this event other than the one obvious to everyone in the rational world continues apace. Commentators, reporters, psychologists and, indeed, army spokesmen continue to warn portentously, "We don't yet know the motive for the shootings."

It's an odd thing (at least to an outsider like myself) that even the top brass of the military is aping the media spin on this shooting. Maybe it isn't all that surprising to those familiar with the byzantine workings of military high command. Still, it's disappointing.

Pro-Life America


A noteworthy story from the Wall Street Journal on the weighty influence of the Catholic Church in America...and in a capital run by Democrats, of all people. Wonders never cease.
Injecting itself aggressively into the health-care debate, the Roman Catholic Church in America has emerged as a major political force with the potential to upend a key piece of President Barack Obama's agenda.

Behind-the-scenes lobbying, coupled with a grassroots mobilization of Catholic churches across the country, led the House Saturday to pass an amendment to its health-care bill barring anyone who receives a new tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers abortion, a once-unthinkable event in Democrat-dominated Washington...

The bishops' success served as a reminder that Democrats' strategy over the past two election cycles of recruiting more conservative candidates to run in competitive House and Senate seats can have unwelcome policy consequences for liberals among the party's base. About 40 House Democrats are opposed to abortion rights.

The Democrats, if we are to believe the rhetoric, represent the Party of openness and tolerance, the true blue big tent in American politics. Watch this increasingly bitter family feud over abortion tarnish that claim.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Enemy Within

Mark Steyn, as usual, gets it right in a sobering commentary on the brazen attack at Fort Hood last week.
What happened to those men and women at Fort Hood had a horrible symbolism: Members of the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force on the planet gunned down by a guy who said a few goofy things no one took seriously. And that's the problem: America has the best troops and fiercest firepower, but no strategy for throttling the ideology that drives the enemy – in Afghanistan and in Texas.

That home front "strategy" would require a simple thing: honesty from our leaders about the threat we're facing. Unfortunately, there's a cabal in Washington and in the halls of academia that want to dance around the issue with endless soft-sofa psychobabble, in the hopes of reassigning blame on more popular targets, i.e., the wars, U.S. foreign policy, Israel, an intolerant American society, etc., etc. What will it take...?

Abortion vs. Socialized Health Care...Yikes!

Abortion: A Harry Issue...

Here's a curious story from Politico.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found his health reform efforts seriously complicated Monday by the explosive issue of abortion, as key centrist senators said they wanted to see airtight language in the bill blocking federal funding for the procedure.

Abortion threatened to derail a House health reform bill Saturday, and now it’s standing in the way of Reid’s attempts to get 60 votes as well, with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) saying he wants to see language as restrictive as the House’s in the Senate bill.

If the language isn’t clear in prohibiting federal funds for abortion, “you could be sure I would vote against it,” said Nelson, who met with Reid on Monday.

The Gordian knot for the Democratic caucus, as they attempt to ramrod this health care bill through Congress and down our throats, is the question of abortion. It's a bit of an irony that, despite their robust majorities in Congress, the Democratic leadership, historically always gung-ho for abortion "rights", is being tripped up over what to do on this issue. Watch them though; for they will try every kind of trickery to poke holes in the House amendment, thus rendering it impotent. But then, they will lose the moderates in their own Party. A sticky situation for the left, indeed: What do they value more, abortion on demand, or socialized medicine? Hopefully, they will get neither. The bottom line is that this family quarrel between emboldened pro-life Democrats and the traditionally pro-abortion members of the Party reveals changing public attitudes on the question. More Americans identify themselves as "pro-life" than ever before.

Soon to be "Blessed"


"Blessed are they who give the flower of their days, and their strength of soul and body to Him; blessed are they who in their youth turn to Him who gave His life for them, and would fain give it to them and implant it in them, that they may live forever." -Cardinal Newman

The cause for Venerable John Henry Newman boasts an impressive website that is well worth a visit.

Coming Down the Pike?

From the Telegraph: Sex-ed is now mandatory business in all UK schools. Parents who object are basically being told to deal with it. Hello nanny state!

The caption to the story says it all:

Sex education will be compulsory in all schools, it was announced today, as thousands of parents lose the right to opt their children out of the lessons.

Caravaggio: Ahead of His Time



Anyone who appreciates the earthy splendor of Caravaggio will find this short piece by Jonathan Jones worth a read. From the Guardian:
Caravaggio is one of my favourite artists. But, strangely enough, I've never given much thought to his relationship with photography – until now. Writing captions for the Guardian's series of supplements about 100 years of great photojournalism, I've been amazed by how closely some of these photographs resemble paintings by the baroque master Michelangelo Merisi, more commonly called Caravaggio, whose life straddles the late 16th century and the start of the 17th. Again and again, whether it's in Cartier-Bresson's immediacy or Bill Brandt's sepulchral shadows, you catch hints of Caravaggio's intensely lit and passionately sensual world in the work of the most brilliant photographers.

Of course this is no coincidence. Caravaggio was rediscovered because of the camera. It was the spontaneity and directness of the photographed image, both in still prints and movies, that made people recognise the greatness of his art again.

Snubbed


Richard V. Allen, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, on President Obama's awkward Berlin slight:
Rather, it represents his message to Europe, a message of disdain that conveys very significant disregard for the principal allies that stood with us in the defense of Berlin, and for those behind the Wall whose courage and pressures were so very important in bringing it down. Barack Obama saw fit to detour to Berlin to make a campaign speech, and this week easily could have directed the pilots of Air Force One this week to take him to his ultimate destination via Berlin, since the world is round, if only for a short stop to demonstrate respect.

Instead, it's the cold shoulder for a man for whom Europe is "so yesterday." More "change" and less "hope" for Central Europe.

Read the rest at Politico.

Forgetting Reagan in Berlin?


I hope I'm missing something, but after reading various news stories about the events in Berlin, it certainly appears as though Ronald Reagan is being overlooked in favor of Mikhail Gorbachev. German Chancellor Angela Merkel went so far as to proclaim to Gorbachev, "You made this possible." Well, he "made this possible" to the degree that he had at least enough of a grasp on reality to perceive that the Soviet Union was dying quickly and that few, if any, options remained open to him except to embrace glasnost. Reagan boxed Gorbachev into this position through his masterful, no-nonsense diplomacy, and Gorbachev, realizing the gig was up, had the smarts to meet Reagan on Reagan's terms. To be fair, Gorbachev was a different kind of leader in the Solviet Union, in the positive sense. But Reagan's unique status in the struggle for victory in the Cold War (second perhaps only to Pope John Paul II) cannot be obscured. Again, I will continue following the events in Berlin and, hopefully, I will be proven wrong. That said, it shouldn't be so difficult to find a conspicuous reference to Ronald Reagan in all of the speeches being given today, if one has been made.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bush vs. Obama

Very interesting. From the Telegraph.
During the election campaign, Barack Obama's cool detachment was a winning quality, the "No Drama Obama" a welcome contrast with the "Mr Angry" John McCain, never mind the hot-headed "I'm the decider" President George W Bush.

A year into his presidency, however, Mr Obama seems a curiously bloodless president. If he experiences passion, he seldom shows it. It is often anyone's guess as to whether an event or issue truly moves him.

He has spent more than two months considering a troop increase but do we know how he really feels about the Afghan war?

In a sign that the Obama honeymoon truly is over, I began to hear this week the first stirrings of a wistfulness about Mr Bush. "I never thought I'd hear myself say it," one Democrat told me. "But Obama makes you feel that at least with Bush you knew where he was on something."

... More serious perhaps was Mr Obama's strange disconnectedness over the Fort Hood massacre of 13 soldiers by an Army major and devout Muslim who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had praised suicide bombing and shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire.

When the television networks cut to the President, viewers listened to him spend more than two surreal minutes talking to a gathering of Native Americans about their "extraordinary" and "extremely productive" conference, pausing to give a cheery "shout out" to a man named Dr Joe Medicine Crow. Only then did he briefly and mechanically address what had happened in Texas.

On Friday, when most of the basic facts were available, Mr Obama tried again. It was scarcely any better. He began by offering "an update on the tragedy that took place" - as if it was an earthquake and not a terrorist attack from an enemy within - and ended with a promise for more "updates in the coming days and weeks".

Completely missing was the eloquence that Mr Obama employs when talking about himself. Absent too was any sense that the President empathised with the families and comrades of those murdered.

More and more, Obama's titanic narcissism is breaking through the protective shield offered by his advisors and handlers. People are taking note.

Taking Credit for the Fall


As world leaders (including our very own Hillary R. Clinton) gather in Berlin to commemorate the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it should be remembered just who, or perhaps better said, which political party, was opposing Ronald Reagan at virtually every opportunity in his dealings with the Soviet Union. Those interested in learning more about the real heros of the Cold War should read The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, by Paul Kengor.

Nomenclature


More thoughts on this soon, but the question of whether or not Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan, is a "terrorist", should be a no-brainer. Senator Joe Lieberman suggests as much today in the Wall Street Journal. Haven't any of the wise cognoscenti delved into Hasan's recent history? It's out there for everyone to see. Only in mad, politically correct Obama-world would this ridiculous question even be open for serious debate. Unfortunately, that's the world in which we live.
Mr. Lieberman said that if news reports were true that Mr. Hasan had turned to Islamic extremism, "the murder of these 13 people was a terrorist act and, in fact, it was the most-destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11."

"We don't know enough to say now, but there are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act," Mr. Lieberman added.

The lawmaker said he would begin a Senate investigation aimed at uncovering Mr. Hasan's motives and asking "whether the Army missed warning signs." He also called on the Pentagon to begin an independent investigation to determine whether "warning signs were missed."

-------

I just came across this story from the Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The alleged Fort Hood shooter apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there.

Whether the Fort Hood shooter associated with the hijackers is something the FBI will probably look into, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Need more evidence?

Et tu, Brute?


From Politico:
Once a year, Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao gives the Washington establishment a little jolt.

In November 2008, the nationally unknown Vietnamese community activist captured a seat for Republicans in majority-black New Orleans, becoming an instant — albeit short-lived — celebrity for the GOP.

On Saturday night, 368 days later, he handed Democrats their only Republican vote on the centerpiece of their domestic agenda, a massive overhaul of the nation’s health care system that promises to enhance coverage for tens of millions of Americans and thousands of Cao’s constituents. Now he’s a bit of a cult hero on the left — a profile in courage, Democrats say — and television bookers were scrambling to find cell phone numbers for his aides Sunday.

There should be some form of punishment meted out by the Republican leadership for Cao's scandalous betrayal, if only a slap on the wrist. Many House Republicans attested that the health care bill of yesterday was the worst bill ever to pass before them for a vote. NO ONE who understands and cherishes the Constitution should have voted for this bill. It is to be expected that Democrats would vote for it, seeing as they neither understand or cherish the document, but rather seek to undermine and reconstitute it as something foreign to the founders' intent. But that a Republican would be so blind and off the mark on such a fundamental issue...incredible. But then again, Cao once "joked" that he could be a "closet democrat."

Points of Light

Some good news and a dose of reality from the Associated Press, of all places:
WASHINGTON – The glow from a health care triumph faded quickly for President Barack Obama on Sunday as Democrats realized the bill they fought so hard to pass in the House has nowhere to go in the Senate.

Speaking from the Rose Garden about 14 hours after the late Saturday vote, Obama urged senators to be like runners on a relay team and "take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people."

The problem is that the Senate won't run with it. The government health insurance plan included in the House bill is unacceptable to a few Democratic moderates who hold the balance of power in the Senate.

If a government plan is part of the deal, "as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent whose vote Democrats need to overcome GOP filibusters.

"The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said dismissively.

Sorry Barack and Nancy...

The Morning After

After last night's disaster in the House (the only thing really bipartisan about the bill was the opposition to it), here are some encouraging reflections from Jeffrey H. Anderson, writing for National Review Online:
It was always clear that the real health-care battle would be in the Senate. But what would have been shocking eight months ago is to hear that it would take until November for the Democrats to pass a bill even in the House. It would have been even more shocking to have heard that, even after a full-court-press by the White House, the bill would pass by only five votes — meaning that if just three of the 435 members had changed their minds, it would have changed the bill's fate. And it would have been shocking to have heard that 39 Democrats would jump ship.

The House bill has passed — barely and belatedly — and it is now dead. Nothing like it will ever pass the Senate. The question now is whether anything will, now that the voters have spoken in New Jersey and Virginia — and now that the exceedingly narrow margin in the House will likely invite even greater scrutiny of that which is being proposed.

I'm convinced that last night's vote, coupled with the cap and trade bill of last summer, will prove the undoing of the Democrats, come 2010 and beyond. The arrogance Pelosi et al. displayed in railroading this piece of legislation through, especially after last Tuesday's election results in New Jersey and Virginia, will only serve to crystallize the disgust and anger the American people feel toward what is going on in Washington.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Berlin Wall...? Big Deal, says Obama


Conservatives and Germans are incredulous that President Obama, citing scheduling conflicts, plans to skip ceremonies in Germany commemorating the historic fall of the Berlin Wall. Remember, this is the same man who makes ample time to show up on Letterman, watch documentaries about himself over and over on HBO, hopscotch across the nation attending gala fundraisers for the Democratic Party, hit the links more than his predecessor, and host his own batch of ritzy shindigs at the White House. Can anyone imagine Reagan, or Thatcher skipping such an event as this? We can only wonder: What thoughts were going through Obama's mind, as he watched the Berlin Wall come tumbling down back in '89. Was the ever-diligent student of Jeremiah Wright and Saul Alinsky happy, disappointed, or perhaps apathetic to the event? Obama's snooty and, in light of the United States' role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, historically scandalous decision to turn down the German invitation is yet another blush-worthy moment for citizens of the United States.

Another Kennedy Argues for Abortion

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, another illustrious liberal Catholic cut from the same cloth as Teddy, took to the pages of Newsweek to make the case for passage of the "health care" bill currently under consideration in the House; a bill that would ultimately enable more abortions in the United States. (This story dovetails nicely with my post on public repentance.) Says Kennedy,
The Roman Catholic Church and American Catholics have long believed that health care is a basic human right. The church has been a leader in the struggle to achieve quality, affordable coverage for all.

Of course, the right to health care presupposes that the right to life has been secured in the first place, right? Kennedy describes herself as "pro-conscience". That's some clever mental calisthenics with relativism, Kathy, a convenient way to shield yourself from the unpleasant and persnickety influence of, say, God or reason, maybe. It's something to watch liberal Catholics toss out "conscience" as carte blanche to carry out any action they choose, ignoring the Church's central point about the need for the proper formation of conscience first.

Incidentally, where is the forceful condemnation of such scandalous screeds from the Church leadership in this country? M.I.A. I'll say this much for them, the liberals in the Church know they can push hard and expect little, if any, response from the powers that be.

"Frightening Insensitivity"

Offering a "shout out" before offering condolences?

Not everyone is happy with the President's reaction yesterday to the shootings at Fort Hood that claimed 13 lives. From New York writer Robert A. George:
...instead of a somber chief executive offering reassuring words and expressions of sympathy and compassion, viewers saw a wildly disconnected and inappropriately light president making introductory remarks. At the event, a Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian affairs, the president thanked various staffers and offered a "shout-out" to "Dr. Joe Medicine Crow -- that Congressional Medal of Honor winner." Three minutes in, the president spoke about the shooting, in measured and appropriate terms. Who is advising him?

Anyone at home aware of the major news story of the previous hours had to have been stunned. An incident like this requires a scrapping of the early light banter. The president should apologize for the tone of his remarks, explain what has happened, express sympathy for those slain and appeal for calm and patience until all the facts are in. That's the least that should occur.

Did the president's team not realize what sort of image they were presenting to the country at this moment? The disconnect between what Americans at home knew had been going on -- and the initial words coming out of their president's mouth was jolting, if not disturbing.