Friday, July 30, 2010

On the Reception of Communion

A friend from North Carolina forwarded this commentary to me. It is well worth a read.
Communion in the Hand? What Says Catholic Tradition?
By Matthew Schultz

In an interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Good Friday of 1989, Father George Rutler asked, "Mother, what do you think is the worst problem today?" Without any hesitation, Mother Teresa said, "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." For most of us, Mother Teresa's comment is startling-why does she not name one of the more obvious candidates: famine, disease, abortion? And, if Mother Teresa is right to identify communion in the hand as "the worst problem today," why does holy mother Church permit it? Perhaps our surprise at Mother Teresa's intense dislike for communion in the hand is because of our own ignorance on this issue.

Communion in the hand was never a universal custom or practice in the history of the Church. Popes St. Sixtus (115-165 A.D.) and St. Euchtyian (275-283 A.D.) both forbade the faithful from receiving communion in the hand; St. Basil (330-379 A.D.) permitted this practice only in times of persecution; St Leo the Great teaches, "one receives in the mouth what one believes by faith." Eventually, communion in the hand was forbidden universally because, as Paul VI states, "with the passage of time as the truth of the Eucharistic mystery, its power, and Christ's presence in it were more deeply understood the usage adopted was that the minister himself placed the particle of the consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicant" [Memoriale Domini, 8].

If Catholics did not believe in the Real Presence, then to argue over which mode was more reverent would be superfluous and ridiculous. The Protestant Reformers were keenly aware of the great significance attached to receiving the Eucharist on the tongue --witness how Martin Bucer ordered Cranmer to change the rubric in his 1552 Common Book of Prayer by enjoining the faithful to receive Communion in the hand because to receive on the tongue would be to fall prey to Romish superstition (i.e. belief in the Real Presence). Throughout the centuries, the prevailing opinion of the Church has been that greater reverence is shown to the Blessed Sacrament when one receives on the tongue. Has the Church changed her opinion on this matter of discipline?

In 1965, Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Belgium, introduced the practice of receiving Communion in the hand to his diocese. Pope Paul VI addressed this flagrant act of disobedience in 1969 with the release of his encyclical Memoriale Domini. Pope Paul VI explains in his encyclical why Communion on the tongue is the norm of the Church and enumerates the many dangers attached to receiving Communion in the hand. Communion on the tongue is the preferred norm of the Church because it "more effectively ensures that Communion is distributed with the required reverence, decorum, and dignity; that there is less danger of disrespect for the Eucharistic elements...[and so] caution is exercised which the Church has always counseled regarding the particles of the consecrated bread"[11].

In addition to Pope Paul VI's concern for the safety of the Eucharistic elements, by receiving Communion directly on the tongue one also recognizes and gives reverence to the consecrated hands of the priests ("because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated" [Aquinas, S.T.,VIII,Q.82, Art.13]).

Pope Paul VI's abundant praise for Communion on the tongue is withheld when he turns to speak of Communion on the hand; his tone changes to one of caution and worry: "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.

In particular, these dangers are both the possibility of a lessening of reverence toward the august Sacrament of the Altar, its profanation, and the watering down of the true doctrine of the Eucharist" [12, emphasis mine]. Paul VI is concerned that the changing of this discipline will cause a weakening of faith. So great was his concern over the question that he polled his entire episcopate. The results were overwhelming: 1,233 bishops opposed such a measure compared to 567 in favor. Having examined the issue at length and having consulted the counsel of the bishops, the pontiff decided "not to change the long-accepted manner of administering Communion to the faithful"[18]. He then urges the faithful "to obey conscientiously the prevailing law, now reconfirmed" [19]. Paul VI closes his encyclical by permitting Communion in the hand not as a preferred practice but only in "special circumstances"[20]. The widespread extension of this practice, then, attests to the failure of the clergy and laity to heed the counsels and intentions of the Church on this matter.

To understand why Mother Teresa of Calcutta, one of the most remarkable woman of the 20th century, could declare that Communion in the hand gave her the greatest sadness, Father John Hardon, S.J., writes, "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." Communion in the hand, even though it is currently permitted, departs radically from Catholic Tradition as expressed in the teachings of the popes, the writings of the saints, and the councils of the Church.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Big Victory for Freedom of Speech

Some rare good news coming out of Washington, from Politico:
Senate Democrats failed to attract a single Republican vote on the DISCLOSE Act Tuesday, effectively defeating the bill and casting doubts over whether any campaign finance measure can pass the upper chamber before the November elections.

Aides in both the Senate and the House insist the legislation will come up for consideration again. But with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) painting the bill - which failed 57-41 - as detrimental to his conference, a packed legislative docket and contentious elections on the horizon, sending the DISCLOSE Act to the president's desk now appears to be a long shot at best.

Here's a review of the Supreme Court ruling which the Dems just failed to sabotage this afternoon.

14 Weeks

14 Weeks from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The search is on for two missing Navy service members in Afghanistan, who are believed to be in enemy hands. From the Associated Press:
KABUL, Afghanistan – Two U.S. Navy service members disappeared in a dangerous area of eastern Afghanistan, prompting a massive air and ground search and appeals on local radio stations for their safe return, NATO and Afghan officials said Saturday.

The two left their compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in a vehicle Friday afternoon, but never returned, NATO said in a statement. Vehicles and helicopters were dispatched to search for the two, who may have been killed or captured by the Taliban in Charkh district of southern Logar province — about a two-hour drive south of Kabul, said district chief Samer Gul.

While extremely rare, it still surprises me that these things happen to our military. Given the edge we have regarding communication technology, and the military's rapid response to any battle and flare-up, how does this happen?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mosque or No Mosque Near Ground Zero?

From CNN:
(CNN) – Days after Sarah Palin's criticism of a planned mosque near Ground Zero riled New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling the proposed project "a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites."

"There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over," Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate writes in a post on his web site Thursday.

"Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for 'religious toleration' are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City," he adds.

Plans to build the $100 million, 13-story 'Cordoba House' three blocks from the site of the attacks on September 11, 2001 have sparked an emotional debate throughout the city...

"'Cordoba House is a deliberately insulting term," writes Gingrich. "It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world's third-largest mosque complex."

"Not a Dime"

From The Hill:
If a Republican majority can’t repeal health reform, they can at least assure “not a dime” to fund its implementation, House GOP leader John Boehner (Ohio) pledged.

Boehner said that while he could guarantee a bill would hit the floor under a GOP-controlled Congress to repeal the healthcare reforms President Obama signed into law earlier this year, if that fails, they would at least provide no more money.

“They’re not going to get one dime from us to hire these new federal employees to run this,” Boehner said in a town hall with constituents, as reported by the Fairfield Echo.

Republicans have made repealing healthcare a central part of their election year strategy, upon which Democrats have also seized in their election year messaging.

“I guarantee there will be a bill on the floor that will repeal the healthcare bill and replace it with common sense reforms,” Boehner said in the call.

Nice to finally see Republicans getting tough. Let's hold them to it though if given the majority.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Insult to Injury

Remember him come November

Today, our smug President, surrounded by his dutiful minions from Congress, signed into law a leviathan, disastrous bill that will further regulate the markets and financial industries to the hilt. (The sickening, twilight zone-ish part of the bill is that it was shrewdly crafted by the same two culprits who are more responsible for the financial crisis than anyone else: Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. These two men did more to prop up and shield Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac than anyone, and now they are lauded as selfless, pure legislative sages. They should be driven out of office. It is totally insane and nauseating.)

Obama signed this toxic piece of legislative flotsam in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Don't think for a moment that the selection of this location for the elaborate signing ceremony wasn't an intentional move, a firm slap in the face to Republicans.

Obama's ONE overarching goal as president, beyond anything relating to foreign policy, to wars, to nuclear threats, to rouge nations, oil spills, endless White House galas, etc., is to UNDO Ronald Reagan's domestic legacy forever. And what is that legacy? Free markets and deregulation, a belief in hard work, rewards and incentives, independence, freedom from Big Brother. In other words, THE CONSTITUTION.

"Remember November"

Executive interference

From FoxNews:
A Republican lawmaker is accusing the White House of “unconscionable” and “illegal” acts for its role in Kenya's referendum on a new constitution, which would legalize abortion in the country for the first time.

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey cited a report by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, which estimated that more than $23 million in U.S. taxpayer funds have been spent on the referendum, and Smith and other conservatives have complained that at least some of that money has been spent in sport of the proposed constitution, possibly violating U.S. law.

“Under no circumstances should the U.S. government take sides,” Smith said at a news conference Wednesday. “Yet that is precisely what the Obama administration has done.”

I hope this isn't true, but chances are...

Send Him Packing

It's far too early to for giddiness, but this is encouraging. From CNN:
Washington (CNN) - Nearly half of all Americans think President Barack Obama does not deserve re-election in 2012, according to a new national poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday indicates that 48 percent of the public thinks Obama doesn't deserve a second term in office, with four in ten saying he does deserve to be re-elected. By a 52 to 34 percent margin, Independent voters say the president doesn't deserve re-election.

Thirty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say they'd vote for Obama if the next presidential election were held today, with 39 percent saying they'd cast their ballot for the Republican candidate.

The Exodus

A new poll shows that any of the top tier Republicans in the cards for 2012 could beat Obama. How the mighty have fallen. From The Wall Street Journal:
On Election Day 2008, much was made of the increased turnout that Mr. Obama inspired among young voters and African-Americans, and to be sure that fattened his margin. But he won the White House because, the exit polling showed, he got 49% of men, 43% of whites and 52% of independents. Each of these three groups individually makes up a larger share of the electorate than blacks and young people combined.

In July 2009, President Obama had actually grown that support so that he was getting a thumbs-up job approval from 54% of men, 51% of whites and 52% of independents.

But today, the numbers for those three groups show just how far he has fallen. He gets a positive job approval from just 37% of whites, 38% of independents and 39% of men – a roughly 30% drop in all three groups in his support.

And the bleeding has spread to his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. In July 2009, voters said by 42%-34% that they would back a Democrat for Congress; today, they said they prefer a Republican, 43%-38%. The drop-off among the various demographic groups is similar to that for the president.

Facing the Facts

From LifeSiteNews:
MADRID, July 19, 2010 ( - The Spanish region of Valencia will be requiring women to learn about fetal development and abortion before they proceed with the latter, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Mothers who want to end their unborn children's lives through an abortion will be required to receive written information about abortion, and will also receive ethical counseling that will include videos, photos of abortions, and even 3-D sonogram images regarding the development of the fetus, according to a spokesman for the Valencian government.

The socialist administration of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which currently controls Spain's executive branch, has expressed its opposition to the Valencian program. Valencia is led by the People's Party, the primary opposition party in Spain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Republicans who get it...

and then there are those who don't and probably never will, which brings us to Senator Lindsey Graham, who today was the only Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. If ever there was a better example of what is wrong with the Republican Party look no further than Senator Graham. Have the lessons of the past election, which saw the epitome of the "reach across the aisle" let's hold hands candidate go down in flames to a leftist ideologue, left no imprint on Graham's psyche?

He thinks Kagan is "funny," which "goes a long way in his book." Well, that's great. He says that he wouldn't have nominated her, that she is a "liberal," and that there are 100 other reasons why he would have nominated someone else. That said, he insists that President Obama "chose wisely." Does this make sense to any Republican fortunate to live outside the DC bubble.

In a way, Graham reminds me of Mr. Rogers. (No offense to Mr. Rogers.) The difference is this: Mr. Rogers usually talked to children. Graham uses the same lecturing, maddeningly patronizing tone, when addressing grown-ups.

Gingrich: "Obama a teenager with a credit card"

I am hoping more and more that Newt runs in '12.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

The GOP, Dems, the "Ruling Class" and the Rest of Us

Here's a brilliant piece from Angelo M. Codevilla appearing in The American Spectator entitled "America's Ruling Class--And the Perils of Revolution". It is long, but worth the investment of time. To excerpt it would be a grave injustice. Just read it.

Observations on Mass, Then and Now

From Catholic Online, here is an excerpt from an interview with Father Jeffrey Fasching. He gives us his take on Vatican II, Liturgy, and aberrations that have emerged in the last few decades.
Some common misunderstandings with respect to Vatican II include the following:

The priest facing the people was not introduced by Vatican II. It became the unwritten practice in the Novus Ordo mass without any directives from Vatican II or by the Missal of 1969. Cardinal Ratzinger said in The Spirit of the Liturgy that the priest in facing the congregation is tempted "to be an actor." The Mass is not a performance, therefore applause is inappropriate. The Mass is a sacrifice and must transcend the personality of the priest.

The official language of the Novus Ordo is Latin and the Mass may be celebrated either in Latin or in English. The practice of receiving Communion in the hand was not called for by Vatican II. This sprang up as an abuse and was subsequently accepted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1977 by a slim majority. This indult can be withdrawn at any time.

The Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict making the Traditional Mass more available should be viewed as "reform of the reform," a renewal of the Church began by liturgical renewal. The vast majority of the thousands of bishops at the Council neither wished for, nor mandated, a radical reform of the liturgy. It was never the intention to abandon the use of Latin or to require the celebrant to face the people. Nothing had been said about standing to receive Communion in the hand, or the use of altar girls. No mention had been made about the use of multiple Canons. In the Roman rite there had always been one Eucharistic prayer. The many changes in the liturgy were for the most part made after Vatican II. Interpretation of the Council's intent was motivated by what became known as "the Spirit of Vatican II."

My question has to do with the Novus Ordo. In terms of how it is offered, Liturgy has become so disparate in the United States. From one parish to another, impromptus and abuses seem to dominate to such an extent that it's difficult to even speak of a common "Novus Ordo Liturgy." Where can one find a "pure" Novus Ordo, carried out precisely as the Second Vatican Council envisioned it? I dare say, it's hard to find, even at the more tame parishes. The innovations mentioned above by Father, inserted after the Council, have long since become the unquestioned norm. Now, I'm not questioning the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass, but merely observing how muddled the issue has become as a result of so many priests who feel totally empowered to do their own "thing" and to heck with the norms, documents or consequences.

Say what you want about the Traditional Mass (I happen to prefer it), or the people it attracts, but the uniformity it offers is probably one of its greatest assets. It is almost structured to resist excessive tinkering and silliness. To be sure, anything can be open to possible abuse, but the so-called rigidity of the Old Mass, usually listed as one of its defects, serves as a bulwark against a priest (and there are many these days) inclined to take center stage and just wing it.

I lament the loss of an authentic liturgical culture and identity; one that is consistent with tradition and compatible with beauty.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Proud Party of "No"

The Republican lightweights from the last post could learn a good deal from their Senate leader, Mitch McConnell. There's a little bit of redemption for the Party in this clip.

GOP Disgrace

Truly depressing. That is the only way to describe this video clip. My blood pressure skyrocketed while watching this series of Meet the Press round table discussions. The two Congressional Democrats run circles around these limp, ineffectual Republicans, who simply rehash lame talking points. They are utterly incapable of admitting that,

a. under President Bush the GOP lost its way, as out of control spending went unchecked, and for which they were rightly punished in '06 and '08

b. the GOP has since learned its lesson and wants to return to authentic conservative solutions

c. far from anything new, Obama is simply relying on more reckless spending to solve the economic crisis. He is making a bad situation far worse. At least the GOP recognizes its fault and aims to make a course correction. The Democrats are simply building on the mistakes of the past via failed policies and legislation.

What is so hard about stating this?

David Gregory was right to express frustration with these listless and sleepy representatives. The GOP had better get its act together or there will be nothing to celebrate come November. I was embarrassed by this sorry display. Who recommended these two for the camera?

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"Freedom of Worship" vs. "Freedom of Religion"

Writing for Catholic Online, Randy Sly comments on a disturbing linguistic trend in the current administration.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The change in language was barely noticeable to the average citizen but political observers are raising red flags at the use of a new term "freedom of worship" by President Obama and Secretary Clinton as a replacement for the term freedom of religion. This shift happened between the President's speech in Cairo where he showcased America's freedom of religion and his appearance in November at a memorial for the victims of Fort Hood, where he specifically used the term "freedom of worship." From that point on, it has become the term of choice for the president and Clinton.

In her article for "First Things" magazine, Ashley Samelson, International Programs Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, stated, "To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling: "The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It's about the right to dress according to one's religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves-yet "freedom of worship" would protect none of these acts of faith."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cicero Speaks

Nature is the source of law: and it is contrary to nature for one man to prey upon another's ignorance. So trickery disguised as intelligence is life's greatest scourge, being the cause of innumerable illusions of conflict between advantage and right.

For even an outward blemish such as physical deformity is not very agreeable, a degeneracy of the soul itself faces us with something that is truly hideous and repellent.
-Taken from On Duties

Then, while extolling the benefits of age, Cicero takes a dig at the ambitious youth of the day. Naturally, I couldn't help but think of Obama here:

The Spartans, too, call the holders of their offices the 'elders', which is just what they are. And if you choose to read, or have read to you, the histories of foreign countries, you will find that the greatest states were overturned by young people and restored by the old. 'Tell me, how did you lose your great nation so speedily?' they asked in Naevius's play The Game. And the most significant answer is this: 'Because new public speakers came forward--silly young men.' Early adulthood is naturally rash; sound sense only comes with advancing years. -Taken from On Old Age

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Underestimate Him

That is the warning from Charles Krauthammer in a sobering piece appearing in National Review. Republicans should feel confident, but certainly not giddy. Obama may actually be hoping for a GOP takeover of Congress in order to set up a villain opponent that he can label and manipulate for the sake of his own reelection, in the way Bill Clinton did in '96. If the Republicans win back the House, and perhaps even the Senate, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels, but need to stay on the offensive, and relentlessly so.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Holder Case

Attorney General Eric Holder is one big embarrassment for the United States and must be shown the door, argues Victor Davis Hanson. His piece, appearing on National Review Online, is well worth a read.
Holder got himself into trouble last year when he played politics by announcing that the administration would try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in a civilian courtroom. The boast was supposed to contrast an enlightened Obama team with the demonized Bush administration’s supposed lawlessness in confining KSM at Guantanamo.

But after New Yorkers protested against holding the trial practically next door to the scene of the 9/11 attack, Holder backed off. Meanwhile, the president rushed to assure the nation that KSM would be “convicted” and have “the death penalty . . . applied to him.” At that point, Bush’s planned military tribunals seemed a lot less prejudicial than Holder’s planned civilian show trial.

Holder’s continual refusal to link radical Islam with the epidemic of global terrorism is likewise entirely political. When asked at a congressional hearing whether radical Islamic terrorists were behind the Fort Hood killings, the attempted Christmas Day bombing, and the foiled Times Square attack, Holder refused to identify that obvious common catalyst. He cited instead a “variety of reasons.” The nation’s chief prosecutor was not looking at the evidence, but adhering to a politically correct, predetermined dogma.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Stimulus Lie

What happens when billions of dollars are injected into the economy via a safe code word like "stimulus" but individuals and companies are, at the same time, spending less and less (in other words, the velocity of currency circulation plummets)? Thomas Sowell offers the answer here. Hint: It's not good.

A Nun's Story

Monday, July 12, 2010

Diverging Views at the Top

From The Washington Times:
Obama at odds with Petraeus doctrine on 'Islam'

The White House's official policy of banning the word "Islam" in describing America's terrorist enemies is in direct conflict with the U.S. military's war-fighting doctrine now guiding commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John O. Brennan, President Obama's chief national security adviser for counterterrorism, delivered a major policy address on defining the enemy. He laid out the White House policy of detaching any reference to Islam when referring to terrorists, be it al Qaeda, the Taliban or any other group.

But Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the man tapped by Mr. Obama as the new top commander in Afghanistan, led the production of an extensive counterinsurgency manual in December 2006 that does, in fact, tell commanders of a link between Islam and extremists.

The Petraeus doctrine refers to "Islamic insurgents," "Islamic extremists" and "Islamic subversives." It details ties between Muslim support groups and terrorists. His co-author was Gen. James F. Amos, whom Mr. Obama has picked as the next Marine Corps commandant and Joint Chiefs of Staff member.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On the Perils of "State Capitalism"

A fascinating piece on the concerns of economist Ian Bremmer, appearing in the Telegraph:
His latest thesis – one that has taken America, particularly on the right, by surprise and has fuelled great interest on the left in part as a result of appearances on John Stewart's political satire The Daily Show – is that the biggest threat to the world economy and global growth is not the financial crisis, but the rise of "state capitalism" as an increasingly viable alternative to the free market.

State capitalism, as Bremmer defines it, is "a set of governing principles" used by governments around the world to manage the performance of markets and companies for long-term political survival. Think the oil-rich Gulf states, or Venezuela, or China itself.

"State capitalism is corporations captured by states," he says, explaining a phenomenon he argues has yet to be fully embraced by the political or financial spheres.

Bremmer argues that increasingly influential countries are using financial markets to create wealth based on the perceptions of national interest.

As a result, it is not sub-prime mortgages or risky derivative trades that pose the biggest threat to the future of the global economy, but rather these very countries with which the US, the UK and the rest of Europe trade.

"The biggest challenge for the world economy…[is] the shift from free markets and multi-national corporations being key economic players to something very, very different where we're now competing with a different and quite valuable model."

A Socialist?

From Jim Geraghty, writing for National Review Online:
The latest poll by Democracy Corps, the firm of James Carville and Stan Greenberg, has Republicans leading on the generic ballot among likely voters, 48 percent to 42 percent.

Deep in the poll, they ask, “Now, I am going to read you a list of words and phrases which people use to describe political figures. For each word or phrase, please tell me whether it describes Barack Obama very well, well, not too well, or not well at all.”

When asked about “a socialist,” 33 percent of likely voters say it describes Obama “very well,” 22 percent say “well,” 15 percent say “not too well,” and 25 percent say “not well at all.”

In other words, 55 percent of likely voters think “socialist” is a reasonably accurate way of describing Obama.

Should we be surprised?

Serious About Coffee

Worth a watch:

Friday, July 09, 2010


Before two days ago, I had no clue about LeBron James. I cannot believe the amount of attention this "Will he go to Miami or not?" spectacle has received. It's the stuff of frenzy and personality cults. Even National Review features a link to his "big" decision. Give me a break! Who cares? It's one thing to be one the pulse of culture and current events, but quite another to take part in endless, pointless media hysteria.

Tracking Obama's Narcissism

From Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online:
It began with the almost comical self-inflation of his presidential campaign, from the still inexplicable mass rally in Berlin in front of a Prussian victory column to the Greek columns framing him at the Democratic convention. And it carried into his presidency, from his posture of philosopher-king adjudicating between America’s sins and the world’s to his speeches marked by a spectacularly promiscuous use of the first-person pronoun “I.”

Notice, too, how Obama habitually refers to cabinet members and other high-level government officials as “my” — “my secretary of homeland security,” “my national security team,” “my ambassador.” The more normal — and respectful — usage is to say “the,” as in “the secretary of state.” These are, after all, public officials sworn to serve the nation and protect the Constitution — not just the man who appointed them.

It’s a stylistic detail, but quite revealing of Obama’s exalted view of himself. Not surprising, perhaps, in a man whose major achievement before acceding to the presidency was writing two biographies — both about himself.

Obama is not the first president with a large streak of narcissism. But the others had equally expansive feelings about their country. Obama’s modesty about America would be more understandable if he treated himself with the same reserve. But it is odd to have a president so convinced of his own magnificence — yet not of his own country’s.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

On What a Stimulus is Not

A timely piece from Arthur B. Laffer, appearing in The Wall Street Journal:
The current debate over extending and increasing federal unemployment benefits encapsulates the disagreement between the Democrats in power in Washington and their Republican opponents. What the consequences will be of raising unemployment benefits in today's depressed economy is at issue.

The most obvious argument against extending or raising unemployment benefits is that it will make being unemployed either more attractive or less unattractive, and thereby lead to higher unemployment. Empirical research supports this view.

The Democratic retort is that the economy today is so different from the past that we have to suspend our traditional understanding of economics. With five job seekers for every job opening, the unemployed are desperate for work and increasing unemployment benefits will have very little if any disincentive effect. This view hinges on a total change in employee behavior from "normal" times to the current period of "the Great Recession."

When Kagan was Dean

Elena Kagan at Harvard law school: Sharia law and Don't Ask, Don't Tell...A disturbing piece by Andrew McCarthy, appearing in National Review Online:
While Kagan was at the law school, her patron, Harvard’s president Larry Summers, accepted a stunning $20 million donation for the creation of a program of studies to lionize Islam’s history and jurisprudence. The cash came from the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire investor whose attempted $10 million contribution to the Twin Towers fund had been refused by New York mayor Rudy Giuliani when bin Talal blamed the 9/11 atrocities on American foreign policy. Summers, the anti-Giuliani, not only took the money but named the program and an endowed professorship in the prince’s honor. And why not? By then, as Ben Shapiro reported, Harvard’s law school already had three Saudi-funded institutions devoted to the study of sharia.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Roberts vs. Obama

President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts are set on a "collision course." I have posted on this topic before, and things have only heated up since then. As it stands, the Supreme Court, led by the Roberts majority, is the one institution that stands squarely in the path of the unrelenting Obama juggernaut. The inevitable clashes over the competing views on the role of government will be something to behold. Here's an interesting story from the LA Times:
As chief justice, Roberts has steered the court on a conservative course, one that often has tilted toward business. For example, the justices have made it much harder for investors or pension funds to sue companies for stock fraud.

Two years ago, the court declared for the first time that the gun rights of individuals were protected by the Constitution. This year, the justices made clear this was a "fundamental" right that extended to cities and states as well as federal jurisdictions.

Since the arrival in 2006 of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., Roberts has had a five-member majority skeptical of campaign funding restrictions. At first, he moved cautiously. Roberts spoke for the majority in 2007 in saying that a preelection broadcast ad sponsored by a nonprofit corporation was protected as free speech even though it criticized a candidate for office.

Last year, the court had before it another seemingly minor challenge to election laws by a group that wanted permission to sell a DVD that slammed Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was running for president in 2008. This time, however, Roberts decided on a much bolder move.

The 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United case struck down all limits on direct election spending — for giant, profit-making corporations as well as small nonprofit groups. For more than 60 years, Congress and many states had barred corporate and union spending to sway elections. The court's opinion dismissed all such laws as unconstitutional censorship.

The decision came as a "real shock to the administration and to the Democrats in Congress," said Simon Lazarus, counsel for the National Senior Citizens Law Center. "It's also caused a sea change in their thinking about the court. Before, it was all about the 'culture wars' issues, like abortion, prayer and gay rights. Afterward, they saw this new activist thrust among the conservatives as a direct threat to their legislative agenda."

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Steele Mess

From Politico:
After enjoying some of the calmest weeks of his chairmanship, the Republican National Committee's Michael Steele is facing a new round of resignation calls for suggesting the war in Afghanistan isn't worth fighting.

A video of Steele speaking to a small fundraiser in Connecticut on Thursday went viral Friday morning, leading to harsh criticism from the right and the left and prompting calls for his resignation from several of the Republican Party's leading voices.

"The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical," Steele said. "I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders has with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.

Um, what is Steele talking about here? The war in Afghanistan was not one "that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in..." What planet is Steele inhabiting?

I've reserved airing my thoughts on Steele long enough. At first he might have seemed like a good idea, but given his penchant for nonsensical anti-Republican rambling, he is clearly not the man for this position. He needs to go NOW. Note to the Republican leadership: Cut Steele from the Party before he does even more damage. We simply cannot afford these sorts of gaffes.

Pelosi: Unemployment Checks = New Jobs

Yes, she actually did say that.