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.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interviewing Condi

Condoleezza Rice takes some questions on domestic and international affairs in this interview with TIME. I can't say I agree when she regrets that immigration "reform" foundered under George W. Bush, but it's a worthwhile Q&A.

"Utterly Failed"

How has the multiculturalism experiment fared in Germany? Angela Merkel gives a sobering assessment. From the Guardian
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has courted growing anti-immigrant opinion in Germany by claiming the country's attempts to create a multicultural society have "utterly failed".

Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democratic Union party, Merkel said the idea of people from different cultural backgrounds living happily "side by side" did not work.

She said the onus was on immigrants to do more to integrate into German society.

"This [multicultural] approach has failed, utterly failed," Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin, yesterday.

Her remarks will stir a debate about immigration in a country which is home to around 4 million Muslims.

She's right, of course. For Europe though, is it too late to do anything about it? That is the real question.

Within Reach

Nile Gardiner, writing for the Telegraph:
Leading pollster Scott Rasmussen is now predicting a 55 seat gain for the GOP in the House. His latest Daily Presidential Tracking Poll has President Obama with a presidential approval rating index of minus 17 points, with just 28 percent of the nation’s voters strongly approving of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president, and 45 percent strongly disapproving.

While the Senate race remains extremely tight, most polls are pointing to a Republican takeover of the House. And as Michael Barone has noted, the shift to the GOP could be the biggest since 1894, let alone 1994. For President Obama, this is a nightmare scenario, with his legislative agenda lying in ruins, and facing a campaign for the repeal of his hugely controversial and costly health care reform law. November 2nd could well be the worst day for America’s Left in more than a decade, signaling the start of another conservative revolution and a firm rejection of Barack Obama’s Big Government agenda.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Fed and the Interest Rate

Some economic sense from Kevin D. Williamson, writing for National Review Online:
The Fed should stop trying to drive down interest rates. It should instead work to raise them. Why? Our economy needs savings and investment — but why save when interest rates are effectively zero? And where can funds for investment be had if not from savings? Answer: from borrowing — and more debt is the last thing American businesses, American households, or American government needs right now. Interest rates are going to go up eventually, anyway, so we may as well get started now in order to avoid an especially disruptive transition when the time comes. Higher interest rates would encourage savings, encourage investment, discourage wanton borrowing, and help rebuild the value of the dollar. Sure, we’d lose the value of the allegedly stimulative effects of zero interest rates — and a lot of good they’ve been doing us so far: 10 percent unemployment, growth that is as dynamic as molasses in February.

The United States should start acting like a dollar is worth something if it expects a dollar to be worth something. Otherwise, to borrow from a wise man, we are left with Barack Obama as the devalued head of a devalued government.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movin' On Up

From the Associated Press:
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Crucial pieces of a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's health care overhaul can go to trial, with a judge ruling Thursday he wants to hear more arguments over whether it's constitutional to force citizens to buy health insurance.

In a written ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said it also needs to be decided whether it's constitutional to penalize people who do not buy insurance with taxes and to require states to expand their Medicaid programs. Another federal judge in Michigan threw out a similar lawsuit last week.

Vinson set a hearing for Dec. 16. The lawsuits will likely wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who else can't wait for Chief Justice John Roberts to get his hands on this one?

Back to the Source

United States Senate candidate Ron Johnson offers an accurate explanation for the economic malaise.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Government action, beginning with federal legislation passed 33 years ago to help low-income people buy homes, was the cause of the economic collapse, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson said Wednesday.

Johnson told Journal Sentinel reporters and editors, as well as its Reader Advisory Committee, that the seeds of the collapse began in 1977 with passage of the Community Reinvestment Act.

"What caused this economic downturn, collapse, was pretty much government action," Johnson said. "It wasn't helped by the big banks. I always refer to it as caused by Washington, propelled by big banks and paid for by the American public."

Decades after its passage, the federal law that helped low-income and disadvantaged people get loans to buy their own homes continues to be hotly debated. The federal law applied only to depository institutions, not private, unregulated mortgage lenders.

In Johnson's view, the law "started forcing banks to make loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them back . . . "

Asked if the banks were forced to lend to people who couldn't afford it, Johnson said: "They threatened to bring the Department of Justice in to, I guess, to prosecute banks that would be accused of redlining. Not making loans to people in certain areas."

Johnson said the law made it easy for banks to lend money.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seeking Further Clarity

A longstanding tradition, from Saint Paul, to Augustine and up to today. What did St. Thomas Aquinas say about capital punishment?

The main page of the website for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis features the following story:
On October 20, the state of Missouri is scheduled to carry out the execution of Roderick Nunley for the murder of Ann Harrison in 1989. If Mr. Nunley is executed he will be the 68th person executed in Missouri since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

Catholic teaching opposes the use of the death penalty because it disregards the sanctity of life and promotes revenge as a principle of justice. In his 1999 address in St. Louis, Pope John Paul II called for a consensus to “end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”

It has been the tradition of the Catholic Bishops of Missouri to join with other religious leaders to submit a clemency application to the Governor of Missouri for any individual with an execution date. This petition voices concerns about the case and asks the governor to grant mercy to the individual.

As Catholic citizens you too can add your voice with the bishops and call on Governor Nixon to grant mercy to Roderick Nunley and stop his execution.

I have to say, when I came across this declaration I was more than a little disappointed and frustrated by the inadequate flushing out of the Church's entire teaching on the subject, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In other words, the statement appearing in bold that proclaims "Catholic teaching opposes use of the death penalty" is simply incomplete and, dare I say, flat out wrong. My principal bone of contention with this formulation is that it could lead to confusion or a blurring of the lines among sincere Catholics regarding other issues that carry far greater moral weight, as with abortion, for instance. The dangerous "seamless garment" theory often seeps in when discussing the death penalty and abortion in the public forum. I remember someone once telling me that he found it hypocritical for George Bush to describe himself as pro-life when he favors the death penalty. This is, of course, ridiculous, but I was not surprised by it, since woefully inadequate statements like the one quoted above have only encouraged this kind of slapdash thinking, in my opinion.

The website statement also declares that capital punishment "promotes revenge as a principal of justice." I strongly disagree. Some may view it this way, but that is not the position stated in the Church's own Catechism.

I came across the following commentary by Father John A. Hardon S.J. on the matter:
...To return to the original question, "What is the Church's teaching on capital punishment?" the best answer is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "Preserving the common good of society," we are told, "requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty" (no.2266). -Fr. John A. Hardon S.J., from "The Catholic Faith" magazine

I added the emphases to contrast Hardon's thoughtful reply (which simply relies on the Catechism) with the simplistic, broad stroke talking points found on the website for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The question of the death penalty is a very serious one and deserves serious treatment. (By "talking points" I am not referring to the words of JPII, but rather the narrow and frankly incorrect assertion that "Catholic teaching opposes use of the death penalty.")

Also the implication here is that by supporting the death penalty one is committing some kind of disobedience as regards Church teaching, and should therefore repent. I find this offensive. Capital punishment, and it's moral implications, is not an issue that can be held up, mutatis mutandis, to abortion. The latter is intrinsically evil, the former is not. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said as much in the following excerpt from a 2004 letter:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

It would be mighty refreshing to see this sort of serious, thoughtful explanation of the Church's real teaching mirrored on diocesan websites in America.

Yes, Another Poll...

From The Associated Press:
The Obamamania that gripped college campuses two years ago is gone.

An Associated Press-mtvU poll found college students cooling in their support for President Barack Obama, a fresh sign of trouble for Democrats struggling to rekindle enthusiasm among many of these newest voters for the crucial midterm elections in three weeks.

Forty-four percent of students approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 27 percent are unhappy with his stewardship, according to the survey conducted late last month. That's a significant drop from the 60 percent who gave the president high marks in a May 2009 poll. Only 15 percent had a negative opinion back then.

The President's Ego Problem

Writing for National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg hits all the right notes, once again.
After all, this was the man who, as a candidate, descended on Berlin as the leader of a worldwide cause that transcended national borders. And when asked in a debate what his greatest weakness was, he plumbed his soul and answered that he was disorganized. “My desk and my office doesn’t look good,” he said. When a man runs as a national redeemer and says his biggest failing is a messy desk, that should be a warning sign that he likes himself a bit too much.

When Arkansas Democratic congressman Marion Berry complained that health-care reform felt like a replay of the Hillarycare debacle, Obama explained that the big difference between then and now was “me.” In other words, the White House’s plan for making everything work out was an unyielding confidence in the power of Obama’s own cult of personality. That’s why that cult’s high priest, David Axelrod, pursued a strategy of greeting every problem as if it were an excuse for Obama to give another big speech.

Now that the strategy has proved catastrophic, the self-pity is pouring out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"The Will of the Judge"

He understood the problem with the judiciary.

With the stroke of a pen, one judge in California, Ms. Virginia Phillips, dictatorially swept aside the legislative and executive branches of government today when she dissolved the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Question: Where do federal judges acquire this kind of unparalleled authority? Who gets to censure them for their rank abuses of power in cases such as this one? (and not to mention the California Prop. 8 ruling) People just assume the judge's great power is legitimate and beyond reproach because of longstanding precedent to rule on everything under the sun. They've done it before, and they'll do it again. Case closed. But is reliance on precedent alone, as opposed to the Constitution, a satisfactory justification? Judicial review is a sticky, controversial thing, stretching all the way back to the founding (read James F. Simon's What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States), but something has to be done to curtail the power of the judiciary.

When it comes down to it, what is the point of voting if judges, on a personal whim, can simply snuff out any legitimate law coming from the majority? That is a fundamental question facing Americans today, with federal judges reigning supreme as thinly veiled despots, hurdling down their politically laced rulings from their marble encased, Mount Olympus-like court rooms.

When a battle is lost in the halls congress or in the ballot box, at least there is that strong, stinging sense of, "Well, I need to do a better job convincing people." There is an awareness of personal responsibility to get involved and dive into the debate to make a difference. But with the judicial tyranny we are witnessing today, not even fighting hard tooth and nail and perhaps, in the end, coming up a few votes short matters. Majority or no majority, what the court says goes.

Finally, why should the military even listen to Phillips? It is remarkable that a federal judge like Ms. Phillips can impose her personal views about fairness and equality on the armed forces, especially considering the Constitution clearly places this entity under the Executive authority.

To be sure, Jefferson had his eccentricities, but on the dangers of an unchecked judiciary, he was right on the money.

"We supposed we possessed fixed laws to guard us equally against treason and oppression; but it now appears we have no law but the will of the judge." -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lost and Found Michelangelo?

Remarkable, if true.
From The New York Post:
This unfinished painting of Jesus and Mary could be a lost Michelangelo, potentially the art find of the century.

But to the upstate family on whose living-room wall it hung for years, it was just "The Mike."

When the kids knocked the painting off its perch with an errant tennis ball sometime in the mid-1970s, the Kober clan wrapped it up and tucked it away behind the sofa.

There it remained for 27 years, until Air Force Lt. Col. Martin Kober retired in 2003 and had some time on his hands. His father gave him a task -- research the family lore that the painting was really a Michelangelo.

Obama Crushed

From TIME:
Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November's elections.

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.

The Overreach

Writing for The Washington Post, George Will reflects on a common problem faced by parties with large majorities when they misread their governing mandate. This rings especially true for liberals like FDR and Obama.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Philip II, Vindicated

I am making steady progress through an excellent book entitled The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance, by Henry Kamen. Professor Kamen has previously written on sixteenth-century Spain, King Philip in particular, and in the process, he has done much to rehabilitate the historical picture of this intriguing royal.

In "The Escorial", Kamen demolishes centuries old stereotypes and outright lies that have stubbornly dogged King Philip II, a man I have long been fascinated by and have come to admire. It is remarkable how so many of the clichéd misconceptions concerning Philip II have stuck over the years. Most history books present the king as a somewhat creepy misanthrope, who combined a ruthless religious zealotry with a healthy serving of quirky nervous ticks. Kamen's book addresses all of the misconceptions within the context of the magnificent complex of the Escorial, which, under Philip's watchful eye, was constructed as a monastery and residence, not, as many say, as a vainglorious monument to himself and to his supposedly intolerant Church.

The Escorial

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that the allegedly "gloomy" and overly scrupulous king built the enormous building as a way to vanish from the outside world, to hide himself behind its thick walls, the plumes of church incense, and the countless robed, chanting monks roaming the dark corridors. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following excerpt from "The Escorial" gives a good idea of what I am trying to convey:
The legend of the Escorial as a monastic prison is employed in order to present the picture of a king who was timid and nervous, a physical coward, and verging on insane...This presentation, which I (in common with other students of the period) have had reason to analyse on several occasions, was created a century and a half ago by a group of Spanish Liberal historians, and thanks to subsequent political ideologues has enjoyed a long and unmerited lease of life.

One has to read Kamen's book to get the real story behind the Escorial and more importantly, King Philip II, who was in fact a cultured, considerate man, deeply committed to Catholicism (not a fanatic), his realm and yes, even to the arts.

Dems Running from Obama, Pelosi

Surprised to see this on CNN:

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Emerging Black Republican

An interesting article from the Telegraph:
There are currently 42 black members of Congress, all of them Democrats. Republicans haven't had a black congressman since J.C. Watts stood down in 2003. Ironically, opposition to the policies of the first black President on a whole range of economic and social issues are a key motivating factor for this new wave of black conservatives.

Rather than ushering in a post-racial era, Obama's election to the White House appears to have intensified racial divisions in America. This is not, as the Left asserts, because Right-wing opponents are full of white-hooded bigots who refuse to accept a black man as President. Obama's own strange myopia on race has played a big part.

Timothy Johnson, co-founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a group that helps promote black Republican candidates, told me that that Obama was not scrutinised properly in the 2008 election because of his race.

"The election wasn't so much about what Obama brought to the table," said. "People voted for him because they wanted to feel good about themselves, that they weren't racist."

Friday, October 08, 2010

4 Weeks

The Gap Widens

From CBSNews:
Republicans have widened their lead against Democrats among likely voters in the generic ballot for the House of Representatives by six points since last month, a new CBS News Poll reports.

Republicans now hold an eight point lead over Democrats in the generic ballot, with 45 percent of likely voters saying they would support the Republican candidate for the House, and 37 percent saying they would support the Democrat. Last month Republicans led Democrats by a margin of only 2 points, with 40 percent saying they would vote for a Republican and 38 percent saying they would vote for a Democrat.

President Obama's overall favorability remains steady, the poll indicates, with 44 percent positive ratings and 45 percent negative, but his ratings on the economy are lower than ever before: 38 percent of respondents approved of his handling of the issue, while 50 percent disapproved. Last month, 41 percent approved, and 51 percent disapproved.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Party of Food Stamps, Revisited

I'm really into this "the Democrats have become the Party of Food Stamps" line that Newt coined. It's totally accurate.

He goes a little further here in his response to Pelosi's bizarre claim that food stamps actually help the economy, in that $1 in food stamps translates into $1.75 going back into the economy. Um, okay.

On Things Obama Didn't Inherit

Larry Elder looks back and ahead, post November 2, '10, in the age of Obama. This part stood out. From uexpress:
Blaming Bush no longer works. Obama indeed inherited a bad economy, drowning under a large debt and deficit. His solution?

Tossing it an anvil.

Obama did not inherit the $800 billion-plus "stimulus" plan or various subsequent ones.

Obama did not inherit a "sweeping" financial regulation of Wall Street that leaves in place Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the Community Reinvestment Act, the primary drivers of the housing meltdown.

Obama did not inherit government takeovers of the automotive companies.

Obama did not inherit a massive "green jobs" initiative, in which government bureaucrats will "invest" taxpayer money in "promising" technologies proposed by companies that failed to persuade private investors to bet on them. Only a leftist can condemn "corporate greed" on the one hand and, with the other, throw billions in corporate welfare dollars to the same corporations for "renewable energy" to make "green jobs."

Obama did not inherit ObamaCare, a monstrosity that even he no longer claims will "bend the cost curve." Using his Democratic veto-proof Senate supermajority, along with a parliamentary maneuver used in an unprecedented manner, he rammed through ObamaCare. It adds 30 million Americans to the ranks of the insured, including people who made the conscious decision not to carry insurance. He ignored obvious measures to improve accessibility and affordability, like knocking down restrictions that prevent health insurers from offering policies across state lines.


Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly Our Lady of Victory. It was established by Pope Pius V to give thanks to God and the Virgin Mary for the stunning victory of the Catholic Holy League over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

To commemorate the day, G.K. Chesterton penned a stirring poem entitled Lepanto. Here's an excerpt:

WHITE founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Abortion Logic

Chilling to hear it said so calmly. Pro-abort Virginia Ironside admits that she would without hesitation put a pillow over the face of a suffering baby, out of compassion for the child, of course.

In a rare moment of icy candor from a representative of the abortion rights camp, Ironside posits the logical, horrific consequences of the abortion mentality. We'll see how much media attention this macabre confession gets.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Food Stamp Party

From the Associated Press:
MINNEAPOLIS – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is advising Republican candidates on November's ballots to frame the choice for voters between Democrats as "the party of food stamps" while selling the GOP as "the party of paychecks."

With a month to go before the election, Gingrich brought his branding effort to Minnesota on Wednesday. He raised money for Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer and the state GOP during a private fundraiser.

He told reporters later that Republicans can campaign as the party of opportunity.

"Most Americans would like to get a paycheck," Gingrich said. "Most Americans would not like to be forced to have food stamps handed out by liberal Democrats."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Obama's Rage

Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, The Roots of Obama's Rage is a bestseller. D'Souza takes the reader where few have ventured by exploring the relationship between Barack Obama Sr. and his son, our president. I've already posted on an article by D'Souza in which he offers an excellent summary of the views expressed in The Roots of Obama's Rage. The fascinating article received widespread attention in media circles and clearly touched a raw nerve with the administration.

Kathleen Jean Lopez recently interviewed D'Souza on his book for National Review Online. The book and interview are well worth reading.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Alaska, Elect Joe Miller.

Here's a look at yet another rising star in the Republican Party, Joe Miller of Alaska. He will most likely win that state's senate seat. He advocates a strict adherence to the enumerated powers of Congress that are listed in the Constitution, everything not included in that list should be left to the states. Fancy that.

Saint Francis

Today is the feast day of a great Saint in the Church. Here are some pictures I took in Assisi during a visit with a friend a few years ago.

Characteristic of medieval towns, Assisi has lots of winding, narrow streets and stairways. It's fun spending a day walking around.

Old school confessional

We thought the tiny doors of this small chapel were pretty amusing.

Just Say No

To reiterate the stakes in this election, here's an encouraging piece from Politico:
If Republicans regain control of the House, the one issue likely to be most transformed is the health care overhaul.

The debate on and passage of the new law became a galvanizing call for the GOP’s depressed and disillusioned base last summer and will be a driving force in November for voters who oppose the law.

While new Republican leaders of key health committees wouldn’t become official until January, one thing is crystal clear: Whoever takes the seat in the event of a shift in power in November will make implementing the law as difficult as possible for the Obama administration.

A key committee in question is the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which will hold sway on funding for the new law. The panel will have the authority to limit or expand funding to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor, which are overseeing parts of the law’s implementation.