Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pabst Glory

The Pabst Mansion is an architectural gem in Milwaukee. The famous house on Wisconsin Avenue was the official residence of the Archbishop of Milwaukee for 67 years in the post-Pabst family phase of the mansion's history. Below is a view of the private chapel used by the archbishops. Not bad, eh? Now the Pabst Mansion is maintained by a historical society (the chapel is now a gift shop). It had been slated for demolition to make room for a parking lot (no, really) but was saved at the eleventh hour in the late seventies.

Here's an interesting story about the mansion's storied past, appearing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Sign of the Times

From FoxNews:
According to a new study conducted by the Parents Television Council (PTC), Hollywood is shockingly obsessed with sexualizing teen girls, to the point where underage female characters are shown participating in an even higher percentage of sexual situations than their adult counterparts: 47 percent to 29 percent respectively.

PTC’s report, entitled “New Target: A Study of Teen Female Sexualization on Primetime TV” is based on a content analysis drawn from the 25 most popular shows in the 12-17 demographic throughout the 2009-2010 television season.

“The results from this report show Tinseltown’s eagerness to not only objectify and fetishize young girls, but to sexualize them in such a way that real teens are led to believe their sole value comes from their sexuality," said PTC President Tim Winter. "This report is less about the shocking numbers that detail the sickness of early sexualization in our entertainment culture and more about the generation of young girls who are being told how society expects them to behave."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Making the Rounds

The following piece by columnist Charles Krauthammer, appearing in National Review Online, is gaining steam in conservative circles. Observers on the right are asking, "What about those election results?" Hopefully, Republicans in Congress will take note and make a course correction.
Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 — and House Democrats don’t have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years — which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?

If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years — $630 billion of it above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Science and the Beautiful

A story on MSNBC goes as follows:
'Messiah' give you chills? That's a clue to your personality

Brian Alexander writes: Some of us get the chills when hearing Handel’s exultant “Messiah” this time of year. For others, it’s the simple, yet joyful opening strains of Vince Guaraldi’s music at the start of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Or it might be Bing Crosby’s poignant “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that triggers goose bumps. (Or for the sillier of us, his whimsical “Mele Kalikimaka” might just do it.)

Well, it turns out that getting chills upon hearing music is an actual thing, you know, like scientists study. And a new report in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science says that who gets music-induced chills and who doesn’t might depend on personality.

Isn't it so typical of the soulless worlds of the mainstream media and the science community to reduce and dissect the sense of awe we experience when confronted with beauty to mere "personality" differences? Of course, there are biological factors involved, since feeling obviously involves the senses and the body, but there is a deeper, ineffable aspect to the person's encounter with beauty that cannot be explained away by resorting to reactions in the brain which can vary from person to person. As William F. Buckley once observed, we need to ask ourselves, not only about the moving feelings we confront when experiencing beauty, but, even more profoundly, "what is the cause of inspiration" that resulted in the beautiful piece of art, literature or music?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Ron Paul Gets His Chance

This can only be seen as great news. From Politico:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) sparked the movement to “audit the Fed.” Now he might get his way.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced Thursday that Paul will chair the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.

Paul’s monetary policy manifesto, "End the Fed," foreshadows the direction his oversight responsibilities might head in the next Congress.

The Texas Republican’s small-government views have built him a following of anti-spending, anti-government loyalists.

Finally Over?

It sure looks that way (for now), as the Senate failed (again) to pass a bill that would have led to the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell." Can we move on?

From The Hill:
The Senate on Thursday dealt a severe blow to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law, dimming the chances for the Clinton-era ban to be scrapped this year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) failed to garner the necessary 60 votes for a procedural motion to start considering the 2011 defense authorization bill, which contains a provision to repeal the ban on openly gay people serving in the military. The final vote was 57-40.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A First for the States

Annibale Carracci's Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Historic news from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
A shrine in the town of Green Bay is one of only a handful in the world — and the sole location in the United States — officially designated as a place where the Virgin Mary appeared.

David Ricken, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, announced today his official approval of the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

Ricken’s decision makes the shrine the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Virgin Mary. The designation puts it in the same category as other famous Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.

According to the diocese, the Virgin Mary appeared in the area to Belgian immigrant Adele Brise three times in 1859.

Thomas More vs. Martin Luther

I came across this excerpt from an excellent biography on Saint Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd entitled, The Life of Thomas More. Ackroyd encapsulates quite well the completely different view of reality that Catholics ought to have, and indeed, used to have, compared to the relativistic madness resulting from Protestantism, which so dominates our world today in every sphere.
What is it that Luther wrote? 'Hic sto. Hic maneo. Hic glorior. Hic triumpho.' Here I stand. Here I remain. Here I glory. Here I triumph. It does not matter to me if a thousand Augustines or Cyprians stand against me. It is one of the great moments of Protestant affirmation and became a primary text for the 'individualism' and 'subjectivism' of post-Reformation culture, but to More it was 'furore' or simple madness. Only a lunatic, or a drunkard, could express himself in such a fashion. More invoked, instead, the authority of the apostles and the church fathers, the historical identity and unity of the Catholic Church, as well as the powerful tradition of its teachings guided by the authority of Christ. Where Luther would characteristically write 'I think thus', or 'I believe thus', More would reply 'God has revealed thus' or 'The Holy Spirit has taught thus'. His was a church of order and ritual in which the precepts of historical authority were enshrined. All this Luther despised and rejected. He possessed the authentic voice of the free and separate conscience and somehow found the power to stand against the world he had inherited. He was attacking the king and the Pope, but more importantly he was dismissing the inherited customs and traditional beliefs of the Church itself, which he condemned as 'scandala'. He was assaulting the whole medieval order of which More was a part.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Leaks and the President

As usual John Bolton, writing for The Guardian, makes some good points on the ramifications of the Wikileaks scandal, namely, that it says far more about the incompetence of this bungling, slapdash administration than anything else.
WikiLeaks has yet again flooded the internet with thousands of classified American documents, this time state department cables. More troubling than WikiLeaks' latest revelation of US secrets, however, is the Obama administration's weak, wrong-headed and erratic response. Unfortunately, the administration has acted consistently with its demonstrated unwillingness to assert and defend US interests across a wide range of threats, such as Iran and North Korea, which, ironically, the leaked cables amply document...

This sustained, collective inaction exemplifies the Obama administration's all-too-common attitude towards threats to America's international interests. The president, unlike the long line of his predecessors since Franklin Roosevelt, simply does not put national security at the centre of his political priorities. Thus, Europeans who welcomed Obama to the Oval Office should reflect on his Warren Harding-like interest in foreign policy. Europeans who believe they will never again face real security threats to their comfortable lifestyle should realise that if by chance one occurs during this administration, the president will be otherwise occupied. He will be continuing his efforts to restructure the US economy, and does not wish to be distracted by foreign affairs.

Bolton has said that he's contemplating a run for the presidency. Truthfully, I don't think he has the savoir faire necessary for the office of president, but he should definitely be high up in any Republican president's cabinet.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Limiting the Commerce Clause

Take a look at this excellent piece by George Will that appears in The Washington Post. He takes up the question of the limits of the legislative branch in applying the commerce clause, and the proper role of the judiciary to correct periodic abuses regarding that application in cases such as Obama's health care law.

Will cites a ruling penned by a Texas Supreme Court judge named Don Willet in a recent case in that state to make his point about the health care law. Willet certainly appears brilliant.
Willett says: In our democracy, the legislature's policymaking power "though unrivaled, is not unlimited." The Constitution reigns supreme: "There must remain judicially enforceable constraints on legislative actions that are irreconcilable with constitutional commands."

Thus a legislature's judgment that a measure is desirable does not relieve a court of the duty to judge whether it is constitutional. "The political branches decide if laws pass; courts decide if laws pass muster," wrote Willett. Judges must recognize that legislators' policymaking primacy "is not constitutional carte blanche to regulate all spheres of everyday life; pre-eminence does not equal omnipotence."

What Willett says of the states' police power is applicable to Congress's power under the commerce clause: "When police power becomes a convenient talisman waved to short-circuit our constitutional design, deference devolves into dereliction." And: "If legislators come to believe that police power is an ever-present constitutional trump card they can play whenever it suits them, overreaching is inexorable."

The Absurd

Talk about a slippery slope. Man "marries" pet dog. He describes it as a "platonic" thing. Incredible.

From the Telegraph:
Joe Guiso, 20, married his 5-year-old pet, who was dressed in a white cape, in an elaborate ceremony in his local park in the Queensland town of Toowoomba.

"This was just an event for my friends and I to get together," he said. "It really was fun. We all dressed up in suits and everything.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Not So Open-Shut

From Politico:
Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and Air Force chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz will tell a Senate panel Friday they do not recommend Congress change the law to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

“Based on what I know about the very tough fight on the ground in Afghanistan, the almost singular focus of our combat forces as they train up and deploy into theater, the necessary tightly woven culture of those combat forces that we are asking so much of at this time and finally the direct feedback from the survey, my recommendation is that we should not implement repeal at this time,” Amos said in prepared testimony for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

'Pieta Prototype' Found

From the Telegraph:
Experts are convinced that a recently discovered terracotta statue of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus after his Crucifixion was the model for Michelangelo's renowned 'Pieta' sculpture in marble, today in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

They say Michelangelo created the small, 30cm-high statue 500 years ago in order to convince a wealthy French cardinal to commission him to produce the much larger work, which he completed in 1499.


An Austrian MP forcefully refutes accusations made by Turkey's ambassador to Austria regarding the treatment of Turks in that country and, in the process, offers a useful history lesson in matters concerning religious tolerance in Turkey. It's refreshing to see Europeans waking up to this.

"there are also people sick and tired of one-way street tolerance babble..." Sounds even better in German.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My Sun

Just for laughs, from the Telegraph:
Angeles Duran, 49, from Vigo in Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, applied for ownership of the fiery star at the centre of our solar system after learning that similar claims had been made by an American on the Moon, Mars and Venus.

Although the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prevents any government from staking their claim over celestial bodies it does not extend to private individuals, an opinion backed by her notary after consulting legal bodies in Spain.

"I know the law and backed my claim legally," she told local media. "I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first."

She announced that she now plans to profit from her property and wants to charge those whose benefit from its energy.


From Bloomberg:
Republicans will eliminate the House committee created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to highlight the threat of climate change, Representative James Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the panel, said today.

In one of her first acts as speaker in 2007, Pelosi, a California Democrat, created the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to draw attention to climate-change science and showcase how a cap on carbon dioxide needn’t be a threat to economic growth.

Republicans, who won control of the House in the Nov. 2 election, have opposed legislative efforts to regulate carbon emissions as a tax on energy. When the panel convened today, Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said that the hearing “will be the last of the select committee.”

Not a Bad Idea

From the Associated Press:
Senate Republicans intend to block action on virtually all Democratic-backed legislation unrelated to tax cuts and government spending in the current postelection session of Congress, according to a letter recently delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledging to carry out that strategy, which was signed by all 42 Republican Senators.

"We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers," reads the letter.

"With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike," the letter continues.

Not So Fast

From FoxNews:
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is playing down the risk of infantry and other combat arms troops causing problems if "don't ask, don't tell" is overturned.

In a first-of-its-kind survey released this week, the Pentagon found that two-thirds of the overall force predicted little impact on the military's ability to fight if gays were allowed to serve openly.

But among those who did care, most were troops performing combat arms duties. Nearly 60 percent of those in the Marine Corps and in Army combat units said they thought repealing the law would hurt their units' ability to fight on the battlefield.

Opponents of repeal, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were expected to use these findings to argue that Congress shouldn't reverse the law at a time of two wars. The military's service chiefs have expressed similar concerns and are expected to testify Friday.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Serious Look at START

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, takes a look at the flaws and loopholes of Obama's much ballyhooed treated with Russia.
President Obama insists that New START is important as a step toward his dream of a nuclear-free world. Where does one begin? A world without nukes would be the ultimate nightmare. We voluntarily disarm while the world’s rogues and psychopaths develop nukes in secret. Just last week we found out about a hidden, unknown, highly advanced North Korean uranium-enrichment facility. An ostensibly nuclear-free world would place these weapons in the hands of radical regimes that would not hesitate to use them — against a civilized world that would have given up its deterrent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

N. Korea, etc.

An insightful discussion on world events with former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Liberalism Infecting Catholic Parishes

From Saint Sebastian Parish, an ultra-liberal parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Note that the contentious word "Christmas" faces the church building, largely out of view, while "holiday" faces the busy intersection. Think this is accidental?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Combat Paramedics in Afghanistan

An interesting clip from the front lines of battle.

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Setting the Record Straight

Here is a concise, serious analysis by George Weigel of the weekend's "big story" involving the Holy Father's comments on fighting HIV in Africa and the use of condoms.

From National Review:
The first false assumption beneath the latest round of media condomania is that the Church’s settled teaching on sexual morality is a policy or a position that can change, as tax rates can be changed or one’s position on whether India should be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council can change. To be sure, the theological articulation of the Catholic ethic of sexual love has been refined over centuries; it has come to an interesting point of explication in recent years in John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” But it has not changed and it will not change because it cannot be changed. And it cannot change or be changed because the Catholic ethic of sexual love is an expression of fundamental moral truths that can be known by reason and are illuminated by revelation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Value of a Buck

Representative Paul Ryan will work overtime to try to block the Fed's latest "brilliant" move. Hasn't the Federal Reserve done enough already?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan represents a blue-collar district that was pummeled by the recession - its auto factories shut down, its workforce fractured by some of the highest unemployment rates in Wisconsin.

Yet when the Janesville Republican looks at the Federal Reserve's latest effort to create jobs by pumping $600 billion into the economy, he wants none of it.

Ryan and other conservative critics argue that the Fed's strategy to buy Treasury securities - and, in turn, create a new cycle of lending and hiring - amounts to little more than printing money and diluting the dollar's value.

The Fed has no business cheapening the nation's currency, Ryan says, even if a weaker dollar might provide a short-term elixir for struggling industries in his southeastern Wisconsin district by making American exports less expensive overseas while increasing the prices of imports sold in the United States.

"There is nothing more insidious that a government can do to its people than to debase its currency," Ryan said.

A Few Steps Behind (Again)

The latest example of why the Vatican's communication office should be reevaluated, if not replaced, comes on the heels of the pope's enlightening discussion of condoms and the fight against HIV in his latest book, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times. The book is set to be released this week, but excerpts made their way to the press.

Secular media outlets could hardly contain themselves as they pounced on the book's excerpts, claiming something extraordinary, i.e., that the putatively immoveable, hardline Holy Father might indeed be showing signs of budging on this controversial subject, and thereby bringing the Church in line with the 21st century. The Vatican communications office still lives in the good ole days of the afternoon newspaper, and has yet to fully recognize and adapt to the immediacy of the internet age. Where is the rapid response on this? I wasn't all that impressed with the "clarification" offered today by the communication office.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ron Paul Takes on the TSA

This one is a bit of a screed, but it's mostly correct and entertaining.

The Great Switch

From the Telegraph:
Dr Williams acknowledged that traditionalists who cannot accept Church of England plans to ordain women bishops were in “considerable confusion and distress”.

But the Pope’s offer to accommodate disaffected Anglicans would leave the Church with “practical challenges” as vicars resign and churches lose worshippers, he said.

Dr Williams’s comments came in his first media interview since The Daily Telegraph disclosed that five Anglican bishops were to join a new section of the Roman Catholic Church established by Pope Benedict XVI.


I just heard Mark Steyn refer to the United States Secretary of Homeland Security as Janet Incompetano.

That is just funny, worthy of sharing.

Crippling the Fed.

Writing in the Washington Post, George Will takes aim at the Federal Reserve. It's an excellent piece.
The Fed's large, and sufficient, original mission was to maintain price stability - to preserve the currency as a store of value. "Mission creep" usually results from a metabolic urge of government agencies. The Fed, however, had institutional imperialism thrust upon it when Congress - forgetting, not for the first or last time, its core functions - directed the Fed "to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates." The last two goals are really one. In the pursuit of the first, which requires the Fed to attempt to manage short-term economic growth, the Fed has started printing $600 billion - this is the meaning of what is called, with calculated opacity, "quantitative easing."

Serious Sign of Trouble

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — Is marriage becoming obsolete?

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren't needed to have a family.

A study by the Pew Research Center highlights rapidly changing notions of the American family. And the Census Bureau, too, is planning to incorporate broader definitions of family when measuring poverty, a shift caused partly by recent jumps in unmarried couples living together.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. About 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent have parents who were never married.Within those two groups, a sizable chunk — 6 percent — have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

According to the Pew survey, 39 percent of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete...

Is it any wonder then, why homosexual "marriage" is picking up steam in this country? This is an area where lay Catholics in particular are going to have to step up to the plate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Is Now

1994 TIME Magazine cover

Ramesh Ponnuru compares the state of the Republican Party in 1994 with that of today. He argues that the similarities so often drawn between the two periods are superficial. Ponnuru explains why that is a good thing. It's a very smart analysis, from National Review Online:
Republicans don’t want what happened after the last Republican takeover to recur. During the winter of 1995–96, the new Republican Congress battled with Clinton over the budget — a battle that reached its climax in partial shutdowns of the government. The public sided with Clinton. His approval ratings rose while Gingrich’s plummeted.

The conservative campaign to limit the size and scope of the federal government never really recovered from this defeat. Within a few years congressional Republicans were beginning to run for reelection on pork and incumbency rather than reform, and George W. Bush was advancing a “compassionate conservatism” as a way of distinguishing himself from the Gingrichites.

But there are several differences between 2011 and 1995 that should work in favor of Republicans.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Medal of Honor Today

Today marks the first time since the Vietnam War that the Medal of Honor will be awarded to a living recipient; all the others since then have been given posthumously. Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta is refreshingly authentic and modest about his incredible deed. In a time of widespread egotism and shallow, hollow celebrity, it's about time someone who actually deserves some recognition gets it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

High Stakes and Great Lakes

We're beginning to see more shades of red in the bluish Midwest. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Once again the industrial Midwest has proved the pivot point in a dramatic American election.

Only this time the region swung red not blue, accounting for a hugely disproportionate share of the GOP's gains on Nov. 2 and reshaping expectations about the 2012 electoral map.

"The most significant election development of 2010 was the newfound weakness of Democrats in the industrial heartland of the country," says Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg. "This is a region that has been marginally Democratic for a very long time. And the bottom fell out."

Obama's Elitism Slips Out

From Politico:
Other presidential Freudian slips even left a sense that Obama is hostile to accumulating wealth. His lectures to bankers, credit card company executives and health insurers sounded unduly harsh to some voters. Perhaps they felt validated in their suspicions when Obama said in April, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

His assertion just after the midterm elections that voters’ concerns about his policies stemmed from his failure to fully explain them — implying that they hadn’t understood him — inadvertently revived the perception of a man who elevates himself above the electorate.

The Truth about Taxes

Here's a great video that easily debunks the laughable White House spin on the current tax policy debate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Steps

Most serious Catholics will agree that over past forty years or so we have witnessed a general breakdown of Catholic identity in the United States. Such a statement is certainly going to generate debate, but let's face it, with notable exceptions, the Catholic leadership in the states has messed up in things both large and small: Catholic schools, liturgical life, seminaries, administrative decisions, Catholic hospitals, the retreat movement, etc. I don't say this to be gratuitously critical or unduly harsh. It's simply a statement of fact. While many bishops, ensconced and detached in their curial bubbles, floating in the heavens, may pat themselves on the back for holding the line, it is the lay Catholics who are actually in the pews day in and day out, week after week, year after year, who have been the primary recipients of the worst of the failed experiment that saw a toxic blending of egalitarian-tinged liberalism with watered down Catholicism.

I'd like to offer some ideas that might help push back the tide, at least a bit. Most, if not all will center on liturgy. What possibly can an untrained layman know about liturgy? Perhaps it is audacious to offer these bold suggestions, but I will do so anyway.

1. Away with "Eucharistic Ministers": One of the most unfortunate moves over the past several decades has been a slow, creeping erosion of the distinction between the laity and ordained ministers, namely, the priests. In a misguided effort to involve more of the people in the goings on at the altar, it was thought appropriate to introduce waves of laity to serve as "extraordinary ministers" (the correct nomenclature). The original thought was that, for exceptionally large congregations, extraordinary ministers could help mitigate the time it took to distribute Holy Communion. But it didn't take a rocket scientist to see what would inevitably happen, and indeed, what has happened. Soon, a few extraordinary ministers became armies of "Eucharistic ministers" who, regardless of the size of the congregation, now file into the sanctuary to take their rightful place next to the priest and to take up the sacred vessels, a duty traditionally reserved for priests and deacons. At his ordination, a priest's hands are consecrated with holy oil in anticipation of their indispensable role in the consecration of the bread and wine, which become the Body and Blood of Christ. With the introduction of Eucharistic ministers, the line between the priest and the laity has become blurred, if not erased. Laity today handle the Sacrament in ways that were unthinkable only a couple generations ago. The issue is out of control at some, if not most, parishes. I've heard of instances when the priest remains in his chair while the "ministers" distribute Holy Communion. This needs to be reined in, and fast.

2. Away with Communion in the hand: Some of this will tie into the first suggestion and, like the first, needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. For centuries, receiving Communion in the hand was not merely a liturgical solecism that would rightly be seen as scandalous; even further, it was absolutely verboten. Pope Paul VI, who many see as a more progressive pontiff, strongly defended and upheld the tradition of receiving Communion on the tongue when pressed to ease up on the tradition. He said the following on the subject: "A change in so important a matter that has its basis in an ancient and honored tradition does not simply affect discipline, but can also bring with it dangers that, it is feared, may arise from the new way of administering Communion." Receiving in the hand started off on shaky ground as an aberration born out of disobedience in the late 70's and, since receiving unenthusiastic, resigned approval from the top, it has spread through the Church like a fire through dry forest. Communion in the hand has enabled numerous instances of abuse, both intended and unintended, with regard to the Body of Christ. I agree with Father John A. Hardon's characteristically candid assessment of the issue when he said, "Behind Communion in the hand --I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can-- is a weakening, a conscious, a deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence."

3. Away (in most circumstances) with Communion under both Species, excepting intinction done by the priest or deacon: This suggestion, quite simply, would go a long way in limiting accidental spilling of the Precious Blood by well-intentioned, yet sometimes careless or inattentive faithful. We should look for ways to minimize accidents of this nature, and limiting the reception of Communion to one species could help accomplish this. I also think that Communion under both Species, as it is most commonly practiced in the average parish, contributes to a false theology of the Eucharist. People who are not properly catechized may tend to think that Christ's presence is somehow divided between the Consecrated elements. Of course, this presumes that there is widespread believe in the Real Presence to begin with.

4. Away with altar girls: Once again, the obsession with egalitarian overtures is responsible for this phenomenon. Allowing altar girls for Mass was seen as a concession of sorts to the feminist movement. The green light for the girls sent the wrong signal, in my opinion, as it gave the impression that the Church is susceptible and vulnerable to gradual inroads made by the feminist movement, which has always seen female ordination as their (un)holy grail. Also, the sanctuary has traditionally been the domain of the priest acting in persona Christi, and the proximity of altar boys to the altar affords them the chance to get an up-close and personal glimpse of the most significant moments of a priest's life. Introducing girls in the sanctuary is, sorry to say, a distraction from that unique opportunity a young boy has at that time to consider a vocation to the priesthood. George Weigel made this point more eloquently than I have here. I wish I could find the article.

5. Away with kitsch and iconoclasm: Bad taste has inundated Catholic liturgical life, from music, to vestments, to schmaltzy homilies that would make Oprah proud. The list could go on. Let's get serious about re-engaging our unrivaled artistic patrimony and start acting like adults with good taste!

6. Away with versus populum: Let's see much more ad orientum, where the priest and people face the same direction for prayer. Ad orientum is often misleadingly described as the priest with his back facing the people, as though this was done as a sign of disrespect to the laity by an elitist cleric. Also, there is no mistaking where the attention during Mass is focused when the priest is facing ad orientum: the Eucharist, where it should be. However, when the priest begins to face the people, Mass becomes more and more about him, his "style" and report with the people, and less and less about Christ in the Eucharist. The pope makes many salient points on this subject in his excellent book, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

7. "Hello!" to Sacred Space: I set up "sacred space" to contrast it with the now-popular "gathering space" that has been introduced in so many parishes across America. Usually, the gathering space is intended to serve as an agora, usually in the back of the church, for people to congregate and shoot the breeze before and after Mass. Instead of a sanctum sanctorum for the encounter with mystery and the ineffable God, the church building has morphed into a comfy, familiar social hall to meet and greet each other. I came across a once beautiful gothic church in Saint Louis that fits this description to a tee. This particular gathering space was carved out of the back third of the church building, the pews removed to accommodate, not a mystery but a crowd, and even a board with name tags for all the parishioners to wear during Mass. Some of the names even had smiley faces next to them. I think I did that once too, in kindergarden. Also, at the other end of the church, in the sanctuary, let's aim to make that a "Reserved for" area once again. Do I really need to see everyone listed in the baptism registry mincing about in an space that was once reserved exclusively for priests and deacons? Really, I will not feel excluded or left out. I'm not that touchy.

8. "Hello!" to Latin (or at least beautiful English): There is just something indescribably beautiful and alluring about the haunting chants conducted in this ancient tongue. (It took far too long to do away with "And also with you," by the way.) I think we've gotten stuck in an unfortunate misconception about the meaning of the "universality" of the Catholic Church. I like to think that universality means, at least in part, that wherever I go in the world, whatever the culture and language of this or that particular people, the Catholic liturgy will be more or less the same, in terms of how it is executed. It seems that nowadays, "universality" translates into an obsession to accommodate every single language and culture under the sun. There are ways this can be done; I'm just not so sure that liturgy is the place to do it, especially in Western countries.

So these are some rough ideas that, while hardly dispositive or original, may be helpful at turning things around. I may add to them over the next couple days.

The Bush Silent Treatment

Former President George W. Bush is hitting the media circuit of late to promote his memoir, Decision Points. Throughout the interviews and trips down memory lane with the likes of Matt Lauer and Oprah, Bush remains adamant about not wanting to re-enter "the swamp," his way of referring to the public back and forth about politics. Even when it comes to replying to the numerous attacks made on his presidency by his churlish successor, Bush stubbornly maintains an impenetrable silence. At one level, I confess that I do admire this discipline. It must be maddening to the left that Bush cannot be lured back into the colosseum. As I see it though, Bush is wrong to spurn every opportunity to pointedly retaliate, at least in some way, to the sources of the criticism. He owes it, not so much to himself, but to his loyal supporters of eight years to fight back.

Bush sees the issue as being about two things: the importance of maintaining a dignity with regard to the office of the presidency, and a personal disdain for political mudslinging. He genuinely sees it as beneath him. A former president should not criticize his successor, according to Bush. To do so would be unseemly, à la Jimmy Carter, who never ceased lobbing sour grapes at the Bush White House. (Never mind that no one was really listening to Carter anyway.) To be fair, the argument has its merits. Usually when Jimmy Carter is offered as an example of what you're trying not to imitate, I'm likely to be sympathetic. Carter seems to revel in being undignified and surly, and his name is used by both parties as a political epithet and the paragon of what every man who enters politics hopes not to become. I understand the fear, but George W. Bush, the man who stood atop the rubble of the twin towers to rally America to retaliate, doesn't have to worry about mirroring the rabbit fighter Jimmy Carter in any way, shape or form.

Those who voted for Bush, defended his presidency then, and his legacy now, would like to receive some support from the top gun himself. Instead, we repeatedly observe our reticent former president slapped by any and every Democrat who passes by. To see our point man shy away in the face of countless accusations against the policies that defined his presidency feels not unlike an abandonment of troops in the midst of an ongoing fight. As much as W. would like to fancy himself an ordinary citizen who should be free to "submerge" (his words) under the still waters of normalcy and anonymity, he cannot. Bush will forever be a very public, controversial figure, and will always be inexorably linked to his time in office and the policies that were hammered out during those momentous eight years.

The fighters for conservatism, still in the trenches mind you, or "the swamp," as Bush would have it, went to the mat for him year after year, in good times and bad (and there were some pretty miserable moments if you recall), and now they simply expect Bush to do his part. There's no hiding allowed in this business.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Powerful Ally

From Politico:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

McConnell argues in his brief , obtained by POLITICO, that the requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance “dramatically oversteps the bounds of the Commerce [Clause] which has always been understood as a power to regulate, and not to compel, economic activity.” He also argues that if the mandate is deemed constitutional, there will no longer be any real limit on Congress’ power to regulate citizens’ activity.

It will be fascinating to see how this develops.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Welcome Aboard!

From the Telegraph:
Five Anglican bishops quit Church of England for Rome

Five bishops have resigned to join the Roman Catholic Church as an exodus of Anglicans begins.

The five will convert to Roman Catholicism in the first wave of protests over plans to ordain women bishops in the Church of England for the first time.

The Roman Catholic Church backed their move, which was first reported in The Daily Telegraph, and promised a "warm welcome" to all Anglicans who decide to switch allegiance to Rome.

Senior Catholics are finalising plans for the English Ordinariate, a new body created by the Pope to accommodate Anglican converts who cannot accept women bishops.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Encouraging Trend

From the Telegraph:
There seems to be only one political argument of interest left in the Western democracies: how “big” should the state be, and what are the proper limits of its responsibilities? Abstract as it may sound, this question has had a quite startling impact on the everyday experience – and voting habits – of people in the most advanced countries of the world.

In the United States, the electorate’s considered answer to it has humiliated a president and swept an extraordinary number of neophytes – whose primary attraction was their loathing of government power – into the most powerful legislature in history. In Britain, it has become the dominant theme (in fact, the raison d’être) of a coalition between a Left-of-centre party and a Right-of-centre one, which has managed to achieve a remarkable degree of agreement on the need to reduce – or, at least, to examine rigorously – the role of government intervention in all areas of social life.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

State Surge

From ABCNews:
Republicans gained a historic edge over Democrats in state legislature elections that will have national implications for years to come.

State legislatures in 44 states are responsible for one of the most important political processes: drawing district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a process that usually triggers partisan bickering, the reigning party usually has the upper hand, especially if the governor is also from the same party and cannot veto the legislature's decisions.

Republicans took control of at least 19 Democratic-controlled state legislatures Tuesday and gained more than 650 seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The last time Republicans saw such victories was in 1994, when they captured control of 20 state legislatures.

Republicans haven't controlled as many state legislatures since 1928.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Good morning America!

The good news is obvious: Nancy Pelosi, the unbearable cat's-paw of the president, was resoundingly fired last night. I watched her give a pep talk earlier in the evening. She came across as delirious, twitchy, nervous, defensive and unconvincingly sure of herself. She knew what was coming. You could see it in her face and in her awkward arm flailing.

Beyond that, there are more reasons to celebrate yesterday's results:

- The historic Republican gains in the House of Representatives,

- ObamaCare will no doubt be sabotaged by Boehner and company through ingenious legislative tricks, until, of course, a Republican prez. (or the Supreme Court) delivers the coup de grâce to the abominable law,

- Marco Rubio is Florida's senator-elect (He will soar from now on.),

- Arch-liberal Russ Feingold of Wisconsin went down in flames to the Tea Party's wrath (a particularly sweet victory for yours truly),

- The newly christened Republican governors and state legislatures in formerly Democratic strongholds in the Midwest and elsewhere will translate into redistricting procedures that will highly favor Republicans in Congress, up to 16 GOP seats, I read somewhere. This is huge.

- The severely hobbled Democratic majority in the Senate (they will be virtually impotent from now on),

- The unmistakable rebuke to the most conspicuous narcissus in the political world, Barack Obama (who suffered the ultimate humiliation of seeing his former senate seat overtaken by a Republican). It will be interesting to see how he will explain his embarrassment at today's press conference.

- Republicans appear to be reading their mandate appropriately, with a sense of humility as to themselves and to lessons learned, and ferocity as to prepping to engage the president's agenda.

There were some bitter pills from the evening:

- Barbara Boxer, dumb, shrill and prissy Barbara Boxer, is still a senator from California, demonstrating that the bluest of blue states is incurable in terms of its attachment to irrational uber-liberalism. In any other state, a candidate as attractive as Carly Fiorina would have won by a huge majority. She would have been a star in the senate and a jewel for conservatism, but alas, it's California, the land of... oh yes, fruits and nuts, or something. At least Boxer was given a good scare, for once in her political life.

- Harry Reid, while roughed up, remains. This is also a tough one to swallow. I truly thought Angle was going to topple him, and that the sad man would be history. Nevada, what were you thinking?

All in all, Conservatives are standing tall today.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Record Turnout Anticipated

Thank the tea party

There could be a new record for turnout in a midterm election set Tuesday night.

Dr. Michael McDonald, who tracks election turnout at George Mason University, projects that a record-breaking 90 million people will cast ballots for 2010 candidates, the largest number of voters to date in a midterm election.

The current midterm record was set in 2006, when 86 million voters went to the polls.

McDonald, who bases his projections on early voting data as well as trends in individual states, calculates that turnout will be about 41.3 percent of the eligible voting population.

The President and His "Enemies"

Here's an excerpt from prepared remarks to be given later today by Ohio Representative John Boehner. They come in response to the president urging Latino voters last week to go to the polls on Tuesday so that they can "punish our enemies." How nice.

From Politico:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a president in the White House who referred to Americans who disagree with him as ‘our enemies.’ Think about that. He actually used that word. When Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush used the word ‘enemy,’ they reserved it for global terrorists and foreign dictators — enemies of the United States. Enemies of freedom. Enemies of our country.

“Today, sadly, we have president who uses the word ‘enemy’ for fellow Americans — fellow citizens. He uses it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government — people speaking out for a smaller, more accountable government that respects freedom and allows small businesses to create jobs. Mr. President, there's a word for people who have the audacity to speak up in defense of freedom, the Constitution, and the values of limited government that made our country great. We don't call them ‘enemies.’ We call them ‘patriots.’”

It's clear who is going to be punished this election, and it's not Republicans, or for that matter, the people who have the temerity disagree with the president.

Dems and Catholics

An encouraging study, from the Telegraph:

Are US Catholics about to produce one of the biggest ever swings against the Democrats?

Terror at Mass

BAGHDAD — Fifty-two hostages and police were killed on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al-Qaida-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said on Monday that 67 people were wounded during the raid of the church in central Baghdad by gunmen demanding the release of al-Qaida prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

The toll only included hostages and police, not attackers.

The standoff began at dusk Sunday when militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the nearby Iraqi stock exchange and then entered the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church — one of Baghdad's main Catholic places of worship — taking about 120 Christians hostage. ...

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women are not freed within 48 hours from churches in Egypt.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bitter Pill

Yet another reason for Republicans to push for a total repeal of ObamaCare. From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — Fifty years after the pill, another birth control revolution may be on the horizon: free contraception for women in the U.S., thanks to the new health care law.

That could start a shift toward more reliable — and expensive — forms of birth control that are gaining acceptance in other developed countries.

But first, look for a fight over social mores.

A panel of experts advising the government meets in November to begin considering what kind of preventive care for women should be covered at no cost to the patient, as required under President Barack Obama's overhaul.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., author of the women's health amendment, says the clear intent was to include family planning.

... But U.S. Catholic bishops say pregnancy is a healthy condition, not an illness. In comments filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, the bishops say they oppose any requirement to cover contraceptives or sterilization as preventive care.

"We don't consider it to be health care, but a lifestyle choice," said John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, a Philadelphia think tank whose work reflects church teachings. "We think there are other ways to avoid having children than by ingesting chemicals paid for by health insurance."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Left's Downward Spiral

From Tariq Ali, writing in the Telegraph:
As the midterms rapidly approach, the beleaguered US President’s ratings are in steep decline, putting him on the defensive with little to offer his supporters except fine words. Those supporters have been voicing their discontent on the television networks but, much more seriously, are likely to punish Obama by staying at home and ignoring the ballot box on Tuesday.

Indeed, this has been a humiliating time for the once seemingly messianic President. This week’s decision for Obama to appear on the US satirical current affairs TV programme The Daily Show – which is largely watched by liberal voters – was a disaster. The audience openly laughed at him; the presenter, Jon Stewart, gave Obama the honour of being the first President to be called ''Dude’’ to his face on national television; and, worst of all, Obama was forced to recant on the most effective marketing slogan of his generation. ''Yes we can,” Obama admitted, had become ''Yes we can, but...’’ Not exactly a rallying cry.

Like most people across the pond, Ali simply doesn't get the Tea Party movement, but he does offer a decent take on Obama's stunning decline.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Revisiting Citizens United

Here's an excellent article by Daniel Henninger, appearing in The Wall Street Journal Online, that looks back at the Supreme Court's stellar ruling (thanks to the conservative block) in the Citizens United case, and the significant ramifications that flow from that ruling for next week's election.

The Audacity of the Desperate

Democrats are sensing their impeding political doom and hence they resort to antics like this.

From Politico:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether tea party groups are intimidating black and Hispanic voters in her district.

Jackson Lee has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to send poll monitors to her district on Nov. 2 to make sure the King Street Patriots, a local conservative voter turnout and tea party group, aren’t stopping people from voting.

“Many of these incidents of voter intimidation have been occurring in predominately minority neighborhoods and have been directed at African-Americans and Latinos,” she said in the letter. “It is unconscionable to think that anyone would deliberately employ the use of such forceful and intimidating tactics in 2010 to undermine the fundamental, constitutional right to vote.”

Jackson Lee is incorrigible. I have followed her periodically ever since Ken Starr's testimony before Congress during the Clinton impeachment saga. And now this? Anyone ever hear of the Black Panther voter intimidation in '08?

Signs of the Times

From CNN:
London, England (CNN) -- Hit the road, Jack.

Last year's most popular name for baby boys in England has been knocked off -- by Mohammed.

That's not immediately obvious from data put out this week by the Office of National Statistics, which declared Wednesday that Oliver was the single most popular name for boys born in 2009.

But a CNN analysis of the top 4,500 boys names shows that, when different spellings of the name are lumped together, Mohammed is No. 1.

Leadership Awakening

Republican leaders have finally arrived. This is what conservatives have been looking for, and it represents a definitive pivot away from the George W. Bush era of Republicanism. (Look where that got us, after all.)

From Politico:
The GOP agenda for the next two years appears to be the same as the last two: block Barack Obama at all costs.

Republican leaders, emboldened by the prospect of a landslide election win next week, are telling everyone who will listen that their added numbers will increase their ability to stymie Democrats — compromise be damned.

“This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said on Sean Hannity’s radio program Wednesday.

Boehner, the likely speaker if Republicans take the House, said of Obama’s agenda: “We're going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up his plan to National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another Dem. Runs from Leadership

You know things are bad for a congressional democrat when his campaign ad begins with, "I'm not Nancy Pelosi. I'm not Barack Obama." Earl, you're done.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Dark Clouds"

The storm that will bear down on the Democrats in one week is picking up more momentum by the day. This will be huge.

From the Associated Press:

Dark clouds for Dems as Obama embarks on last push

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – President Barack Obama plunged into a final week of midterm election campaigning Monday, his party's prognosis darkened by a feeble economy and his itinerary stitched together to minimize losses to resurgent Republicans.

Nor was his greeting totally friendly in Rhode Island where Obama has pointedly declined to endorse his party's candidate for governor.

Obama can "take his endorsement and shove it," declared Democrat Frank Caprio, battling Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee in a gubernatorial race rated tight in the polls. Chafee endorsed Obama during the 2008 campaign for the White House.

Why the Volte-face?

Michael Barone explains to Brits why Americans have soured on Obama and his allies in Congress. Here's an excerpt from the piece, appearing in the Telegraph:
We are making history, the Obama Democrats proclaimed as they passed their health care bill, over the objections of a majority of the US electorate, expressed through polls and the unlikely medium of the voters of Massachusetts (who chose Republican Scott Brown for what had been Edward Kennedy's Senate seat in January this year). What they had in mind was the New Deal historians' version of history. But that was not a fully accurate picture of the 1930s, and America today is a nation even less eager to have government "spread the wealth around", as Barack Obama told Joe the Plumber in Toledo, Ohio, in October 2008.

College Conservatives Take Aim

Not a bad clip here:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Early Signs of Things to Come...

unless Republicans "man up" in the months ahead. Stay tuned.

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON – The new health care law wasn't supposed to undercut employer plans that have provided most people in the U.S. with coverage for generations.

But last week a leading manufacturer told workers their costs will jump partly because of the law. Also, a Democratic governor laid out a scheme for employers to get out of health care by shifting workers into taxpayer-subsidized insurance markets that open in 2014.

While it's too early to proclaim the demise of job-based coverage, corporate number crunchers are looking at options that could lead to major changes.

"The economics of dropping existing coverage is about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private," said Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn.

Is ANYONE really surprised? Despite the pre-sale talking points in favor of the healthcare law, this is exactly what the other side planned all along.

Obama: America's Psychiatrist in Chief

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, has discovered President Obama's new role.
Opening a whole new branch of cognitive science — liberal psychology — Obama has discovered a new principle: The fearful brain is hard-wired to act befuddled, i.e., to vote Republican.

But of course. Here Obama has spent two years bestowing upon the peasantry the “New Foundation” of a more regulated and socially engineered, and therefore more humane, society, and they repay him with recalcitrance and outright opposition. Here he gave them Obamacare, the stimulus, financial regulation, and a shot at cap-and-trade — and the electorate remains not just unmoved but ungrateful.

Faced with this truly puzzling conundrum, Dr. Obama diagnoses a heretofore undiscovered psychological derangement: anxiety-induced Obama Underappreciation Syndrome, wherein an entire population is so addled by its economic anxieties as to be neurologically incapable of appreciating the “facts and science” undergirding Obamacare and the other blessings their president has bestowed upon them from on high.

Giotto's Surprise

From the Guardian:
For a young art conservator with a love of Italian painting there could be no bigger thrill than the chance to work on a genuine Florentine masterpiece. But to be allowed to spend every day for more than five years repairing one of Italy's greatest neglected cultural treasures is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Anna-Marie Hilling, 33, from Cumbria, has not only fulfilled this dream by becoming one of the handful of restorers trusted to handle the repair of a wooden cross painted in the 1300s; she has now also helped to prove to the world that the cross, the Ognissanti Crucifix, is the work of the early Italian master Giotto.

Early next month the fully restored, five-metre-high cross will leave the laboratory in Florence, where Hilling and her team have laboured for so long, to take up its rightful position in the city's Ognissanti church.

A "Vice" No More

Intriguing news from across the pond, more evidence of political correctness run amok. From the Telegraph:
Scotland Yard's famous Vice Squad, which deals with prostitution and other aspects of London's underworld, has changed its title to the rather less dynamic "Serious Crime Directorate 9: Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command", or SCD9 for short.

The explanation is one that would draw a robust response from DCI Hunt, the old-school detective from BBC One's Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

Metropolitan Police sources said the switch had been ordered in part because the word "vice" was thought to have negative "connotations".

It reflects a growing trend by law enforcement agencies to treat prostitutes as victims rather than as offenders

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Americans Are Stupid

That is, according to our own president. Does his disgusting arrogance have no limits? From Tony Harnden, writing for the Telegraph:
So what is the closing argument of Barack Obama's Democrats before next Tuesday's midterm elections? The President is no longer the self-proclaimed "hope-monger" of 2008, who vaingloriously declared that his vanquishing Hillary Clinton marked "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".

He has stopped patting voters on the back for choosing, by voting for him, to listen not to their doubts or fears but to their "greatest hopes and highest aspirations". Instead, he is berating Americans (most of whom now do not believe he deserves a second term) for not being able to "think clearly" because they're "scared".

...Boiled down, the new Obama message to Americans is: you're too stupid to overcome your fears. To be fair, it's not entirely new. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was caught on tape at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying it was not surprising that voters facing economic hardship "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them".

At a fund-raiser in Massachusetts this month, Obama spoke of Democrats having "facts and science and argument" on their side. As opposed, presumably, to the lies, superstition and prejudice that Republicans rely on.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marriage, Unhinged

Just when you thought the debate about the definition of marriage couldn't get any more detached from reality, we have this, from the Telegraph:
Taiwanese woman to marry herself

A Taiwanese woman has decided to marry herself in an elaborate ceremony due to a lack of potential suitors.

Chen Wei-yih has posed for a set of photos in a flowing white dress, enlisted a wedding planner and rented a banquet hall for a marriage celebration with 30 friends.

Uninspired by the men she's met but facing social pressure to get married, the 30-year-old office worker from Taipei will hold the reception next month.

America Facing Europe

Writing for National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg comments on where we're heading, and where Europe finds itself.
The contrast with Europe is stunning. The streets there are clogging with protestors who desperately want to keep perks and pensions that are driving their countries into insolvency, while responsible leaders do everything they can to impose fiscal sanity before everything comes crashing down. In America, protestors (a.k.a the Tea Parties) have taken to the streets to keep our irresponsible leaders from going in the same direction. In response, Obama says America’s irrational fear has made voters stupid.

But what’s irrational about saying that we shouldn’t be rushing into a condemned building everyone else in the developed world is rushing out of?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Governors Riding the Wave

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans appear headed for big gains in governors' races on November 2, dealing President Barack Obama and Democrats a blow that could dramatically reshape the political landscape for a decade.

With governorships at stake in 37 of the 50 states, broad Republican victories would give the party an edge in next year's redrawing of congressional district boundaries and in the 2012 presidential race.

Democrats hope to limit their losses and capture Republican-held governorships in big battlegrounds like California, Florida and perhaps even Texas.

"Governors races are the main event this year," said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors' Association. "What happens in these races will have a long-term impact on national politics through congressional redistricting and the next presidential election."

Republicans, who now hold 23 governors' offices, are expected to pick up at least six or seven more to go along with big congressional gains that could give them a majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate.

The GOP and Tea Party America

Here's an excerpt from an excellent article by Peggy Noonan, appearing in The Wall Street Journal Online. It is probably one of the best pieces I have read on the elections, the Republican party and the tea party movement.
The tea party did something the Republican establishment was incapable of doing: It got the party out from under George W. Bush. The tea party rejected his administration's spending, overreach and immigration proposals, among other items, and has become only too willing to say so. In doing this, the tea party allowed the Republican establishment itself to get out from under Mr. Bush: "We had to, boss, it was a political necessity!" They released the GOP establishment from its shame cringe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Perfect Storm

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON – All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in the first major elections of Barack Obama's presidency.

In the final survey before Election Day, likely voters say the GOP would do a better job than Democrats on handling the economy, creating jobs and running the government.

Most also think the country's headed in the wrong direction. More than half disapprove of Obama's job performance. And even more don't like the Democratic-controlled Congress.

A Different Kind of Pub

From the Telegraph:
A 17th century crypt in Rome has been converted into a pub by the Roman Catholic Church in an attempt to draw young Italians away from British-style binge-drinking.

The bar, named GP II after the Italian initials for John Paul II, offers beer and wine at much cheaper prices than neighbouring pubs and bars, but frowns on drunkenness.

The initiative, which has the blessing of the diocese of Rome, is intended to offer a late-night venue for young people who might otherwise wander the streets.

There are concerns that Italians are beginning to embrace the sort of binge-drinking that until recently has been alien to most Mediterranean countries, with a report released yesterday warning that one in three young Italians was at risk of serious health problems because of the amount of alcohol they consume.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Penalty or Tax?

Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli discusses the ins and outs of the state's legal suit against the healthcare law. Is what Americans will have to pay for opting not to purchase health insurance a tax (which the president vehemently denies), or a penalty?

(Skip the first 30 seconds to arrive at the relevant section.)

Rules of Engagement and the Ridiculous

From the Washington Examiner:
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- To the U.S. Army soldiers and Marines serving here, some things seem so obviously true that they are beyond debate. Among those perceived truths: Tthe restrictive rules of engagement that they have to fight under have made serving in combat far more dangerous for them, while allowing the Taliban to return to a position of strength.

"If they use rockets to hit the [forward operating base] we can't shoot back because they were within 500 meters of the village. If they shoot at us and drop their weapon in the process we can't shoot back," said Spc. Charles Brooks, 26, a U.S. Army medic with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, in Zabul province.

How to address this problem? Elect Republicans.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Milwaukee Catholics and the Next Phase

Interior view of the dome of the Basilica of Saint Josaphat, in Milwaukee

The much beleaguered Archdiocese of Milwaukee has yet another unique opportunity to begin anew, after decades of wandering aimlessly through a heavy fog. Visitors to this blog are well aware of my utter bewilderment by the decades-long theological and liturgical malaise that has persistently latched onto the archdiocese. The long-overdue retirement of Bishop Richard Sklba, a resolute ally of disgraced Archbishop Rembert Weakland represents, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor, the final gasp and last pillar of the ancien régime; a pillar that needed to be knocked down before substantive change can arrive in Milwaukee.

As a Milwaukee native, someone who lived through the reign of terror as a youth, my own advice to Archbishop Jerome Listecki is simple: look outside Milwaukee for an orthodox, fearless auxiliary bishop to replace Sklba. Then, the difficult and long-overdue task of cleaning house can begin in full force. This work will be much more difficult to accomplish with an entrenched insider filling Sklba's shoes in the role of auxiliary. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's sempiternal problem has been an incalcitrant, incestuous, closed-off inner circle that has stubbornly blocked the light of day from penetrating the dark corners and from dispelling the shadows of scandal and intrigue. This is not to suggest that there are no traces of fidelity in Milwaukee among the laity and priests, but their dire need of backup support is all the more reason for a rock-ribbed auxiliary bishop!

To Archbishop Listecki: Follow the example of Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput, who brought in an outsider, now-Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, to serve as his auxiliary. The final decision of course, rests with the Pope, but no doubt, Listecki can offer strong counsel and recommendations as to the next auxiliary.

In an age of the "dictatorship of relativism," now is not the time to send a mixed-message. Faithful Milwaukee Catholics simply cannot bear to see yet another generation of their own reared on milquetoast Catholicism in the schools and parishes as a direct result of poor, feckless leadership that trickles down to the local parishes, to the detriment of souls.