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.