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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Learning the Meaning of "Catholic"

I thank almighty God every day for my embrace of the full faith last year and love the Holy Catholic Church with all my heart. Nevertheless, I am reminded just how different she is from the Episcopalians when I see a story like the following:
Diners report seeing Virgin Mary in food griddle
(Thanks, I think, to For What It's Worth.)

Let Them Take Taxis

Biden: Stay Off Subways During Swine Flu Panic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Deathly Prose

Mark Twain described the Book of Mormon as "cloroform in print" and anyone who has struggled with that glutinous tome and its turgid, pseudo-Jacobean prose would surely agree with Twain's assessment. As a religious institution, however, the Mormons have no monopoly on soporific reading, as witness this deadly gem recently sent me by my pal Banished Child of Eve, who alerted: "In case you thought being a Catholic theologian was an interesting job." It takes the form of a press release last year from DePaul University, announcing what must have been a truly scintillating conference last fall: "Transformed by Hope: Building a Catholic Theology for the Americas."

Boy, that title really grabs you, doesn't it (and wouldn't you have killed to have attended)? It gets better. Here's a little snippet from the announcement (take a deep breath):
When Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Aparecida, Brazil in May of 2007 for the beginning of the Fifth General Conference of CELAM, he underscored the continuity of this gathering with the four that preceded it: Rio de Janeiro (1955), Medellín (1968), Puebla (1979), and Santo Domingo (1992). But Pope Benedict also acknowledged the newness of the situation to be analyzed at Aparecida and cited in that context the phenomenon of globalization as a potentially unifying but also risk-filled network of relationships extending over the whole planet.

The other changes that have taken place since 1968 include developments within the Latin American theology of liberation that Medellín helped to create as well as critical responses to certain currents of a theology of liberation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and elsewhere. There is also a new awareness today of the tremendous impact of the globalization of markets on the daily life of the human family. Globalization presents both new opportunities and challenges, but the call of the Gospel to address the plight of the poor remains as urgent as it was in 1968. Moreover, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America Pope John Paul II affirmed that the borders of the Church on the American hemisphere are not national borders. He recalled he clear message of the Gospel to seek a social solidarity rooted in the Trinitarian communion. He enjoined Catholics on this hemisphere to build up ecclesial bonds—relationships of love and mutual support—between the members of the Church in North and South America. Many dioceses have heard this call—including the Archdiocese of Chicago—and have responded by establishing transcontinental ties between parishes and dioceses.
It's kind of like those countless press statements that continually emanate from the offices of the Episcopal Church and United Nations, only without their sparkle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon, 1939-2009

A scholar who fought the good fight against the forces of apostasy in the Anglican Church. He will be missed.

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord.
And let light perpetual shine upon him.

(Thanks to Fr. Hart.)

An Opportunity to Be Missed

From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Obama administration officials, alarmed at doctor shortages, are looking for ways to increase the supply of physicians to meet the needs of an aging population and millions of uninsured people who would gain coverage under legislation championed by the president.
The Obama administration wants to increase the supply of physicians and its solution is to nationalize health care, making doctors government workers and limiting how much money they can make. Yep, that'll do it.

What We Have to Look Forward to in the Coming Weeks

From here:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Just Can't Be Too Careful

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has apologized to to the American Legion for a report on terrorism that warned
the faltering economy and the election of the country's first African-American president could be used to radicalize extremist groups and bolster their recruiting within the United States.
The report suggested that veterans would make ideal candidates for recruitment because, you know, they're gun nuts--patriotic and all that. 

Not at all, says Ms. Napolitano, it was just a little screw-up and she's terribly sorry. When some people expressed concern
how such an oversight could have occurred, [a] senior DHS official said that because of the massive size of the department -- more than 220,000 employees -- "sometimes things slip through the cracks," and that new internal processes have now been put in place to make sure such a mistake doesn't happen again.
Well, that's reassuring. Still, more than 220,000 employees and things still "slip through the cracks?" They better hire another 50,000. Just to be on the safe side.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poland Shows Us How

From the Washington Times:
In the midst of the global financial crisis, Poland's economy is forecast to grow by almost 1 percent. According to business economists and the Economist magazine, Poland likely will be the only European country with a growing gross domestic product in 2009. Germany's GDP is expected to shrink by more then 5 percent, Britain's by almost 4 percent, France's by 3 percent and the Czech Republic's by 3 percent. With a projected GDP drop of about 3 percent, the United States doesn't look any better.
So how is Poland effecting this "miracle?"
Facing down the global economic crisis, leaders in Warsaw have slashed marginal tax rates, cut government spending and temporarily suspended some government regulations.
What? How can this be? Our President says: "Economists on the left and right agree that the last thing the government should do during a recession is cut back on spending." I would love to know with which economists "on the right" the President consulted but it wouldn't matter to the Poles. They're stubborn, you know.
On Jan. 1, Poland cut its top marginal tax rate from 40 percent to 32 percent - and that's just a start. Last year, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced plans to move to a flat-tax rate of 19 percent in 2010 or 2011. What Poland understands is the importance of the marginal tax rate. The less you take from each additional zloty (the Polish currency) that people earn, the harder they work, the more they invest and the bigger the economic pie becomes.
Whence these idiotic notions cutting regulations, taxes and spending?
Poles who suffered under communist central planning don't believe more government is the answer to an ailing economy. An old Polish proverb warns: "Do not push the river, it will flow by itself." That's one of many lessons Mr. Obama and his advisers could learn from this rare, growing European nation.
They could but won't, it goes against everything they were learned. By economists. On the left and right. College perfessers and all that.

Finally Some Good News About the U.N.

From Commentary:
The UN’s Epic Fail in Geneva
Michael J. Totten - 04.24.2009 - 10:31 AM

The biggest loser at the United Nations Durban Review Conference on “racism” this week in Geneva was the United Nations itself. The United States unfairly got a lot of bad press and bad marks for walking out of the first UN “World Conference Against Racism” in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, even though that conference was little more than an anti-Semitic and anti-American hate festival. The media did a much better job this time around, though, as did the genuine anti-racist activists who showed up to protest. Those vilified by “Durban I” turned out to be the heroes of “Durban II.”
Read it all. Most encouraging, the U.N.'s adoring minions in the media at last seem to have opened their eyes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

They Might Want to Rephrase This Headline

AP Source: Freddie Mac CFO told to take time off


He did.

A New Era?

In the American Enterprise Institute's journal, the American, James. V. DeLong argues, in a long and thoughtful essay entitled "The Coming of the Fourth American Republic," the explosive growth of the federal government under the Obama administration may lead to our present Special Interest State, as he calls it, becoming so unwieldy and unmanageable as to precipitate its collapse. DeLong believes, because of our strong Constitution, unlike any other in world, the nation would survive the subsequent upheaval (which might or might not be violent--he cites earlier episodes of both in the nation's history) and eventually establish a "revised Fourth Republic with arrangements as yet murky to our present-bound perceptions."

This will not be a bad thing if it leads to vastly simplified and smaller government that stresses negative liberties over positive. The nascent but growing "Tea Party" movement seems to be calling for just that and, most encouragingly, seems to transcend party lines with Tea Partiers expressing weariness and disgust with Republicans and Democrats alike, considering both parties as little more than bloated and inefficient redistributers of wealth; differing only on whom will be the less than deserving recipients of their ill-begotten booty.

DeLong also writes,
two possibilities for change seem most promising. The first is a third political party that explicitly repudiates the present course and requires that its members eschew the legitimacy of the Special Interest State. This would require a certain almost religious fervor, but the great tides of history and politics are always religious in nature, so that is no bar.

This second would be more bottom-up. The Constitution has a residue of the original alliance-of-states polity that has never been used. Two-thirds of the state legislatures can force Congress to call a constitutional convention, and the results of that enterprise can then be ratified by three-quarters of the states. So reform efforts could start at the grassroots and coalesce around states until two-thirds of them decide to march on the Capitol. There is already a lively movement along these lines. On the other hand, the states are no paragons, in that the model of the Special Interest State reigns triumphantly there as well, so a few comments about pots and kettles could be made. Realistically, though, organization from the bottom up is a real possibility.
I agree. The Tea Party movement should concentrate on local government, where it stands half a chance of effecting change . A heartening example of this took place recently in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where an out-of-control school board, demanding a 10 percent-plus increase in local taxes and fees to pay for increased spending, was rebuffed by the city council when locals, including Tea Partiers, turned out in force at a city council hearing to oppose it. Instead of voting 6-1 in favor of the tax increase, as was widely expected, the council rejected it 4-3.

From the bottom up is the way to go for the Tea Partiers. If they enjoy success at local levels of government, it is all but certain they will continue their success at the national level.

The Company You Keep

Glenn Reynolds quotes a reader:
I just got my weekly fund raising letter ‘From the Office of Michael Steele’. Two pages and not a single mention of April 15th or the Tea Parties. Doesn’t look like the Republicans are going to change into the Tea Party any time soon.
A good thing, that: it would be the kiss of death for the Tea Party.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making Socialism Work

If at first you don't succeed...























try, try again.

Don't You Hate It When This Happens?

How embarrassing.
HAVANA – Fidel Castro says President Barack Obama "misinterpreted" his brother Raul's remarks regarding the United States and bristled at the suggestion that Cuba should free political prisoners or cut taxes on dollars people send to the island.
Next time, talk to el Lider Maximo, not his little brother. Meanwhile, the president, licking his wounds, is taking a nice trip to Iowa today for a restoring celebration of "Earth Day." He will read off the teleprompter about wind power. Feel better.

Sorry I Missed You

I enjoy obituaries, not because I delight in reading of my fellow man shuffling off this mortal coil (although, depending on the man, that surely is a temptation), rather, they often shed light on those whom I previously knew little or nothing. Such is the case with this obituary for the Rev. Stanley L. Jaki (1924-2009) . I post a paragraph from it below, confident it will move you to read the whole thing.
Like his two surviving brothers, he was a Benedictine of the tenth-century Archabbey of Pannonhalma, where he lived through World War II, being ordained in 1948. After receiving a doctorate in theology in Rome, he came to the United States and taught in Pennsylvania, but that ended when he lost his voice after a tonsillectomy. His speech returned, unforgettably, a few years later, but the voice was raspy and must have been a trial to him. No longer able to teach, he studied at Fordham for a doctorate in physics with Victor Hess, who had received the Nobel Prize in 1936 for his discovery of cosmic rays. Then he founded, with six other Hungarian priests, a priory in Portola Valley, California, where he was bookkeeper from 1957 to 1960. He did further studies at Stanford and Princeton and went on to lecture in universities around the world, publishing some 40 books, including his brilliant Gifford Lectures at Edinburgh.
Now there is someone I would loved to have known. Deo volente, I shall.

(Thanks to Fr. Rutler.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

End Times

According to Henry Blodget, the New York Times, for the first time, is eating its seed corn and will run out of cash within four quarters.

I first subscribed to the Times in junior high school, where students were offered their very own copy of the paper everyday for half price, one thin dime. From then on I was a more-or-less regular subscriber until the spring of 2001, when I found I simply couldn't bear it anymore and canceled my subscription (which was a great deal of trouble, I recall).

The Times has long been a liberal paper but whereas it used to be liberal in the post-war anti-communist tradition of Harry Truman, George Meany and Mike Mansfield, beginning in the 80s, under the direction of Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger and later the woefully untalented Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, Jr., heir to the Times' publishing dynasty, it veered sharply to the left until by the new millennium, it scarcely resembled the paper that had twice endorsed Dwight Eisenhower over Adlai Stevenson for fear Stevenson wasn't hard enough on communism.

For most of its existence, the Times was scrupulous (with some glaring exceptions) in restricting editorials to the editorial page but that changed in the 80s as the older generation of writers and editors retired and were replaced by baby boomer leftists who confused their ideology, probably not intentionally at first, for truth and began to slant the coverage. This has gotten worse, to the point where the Times is now only read by (other than those conservatives who still do so through inertia) a select demographic, the same as those who produce it: liberal, white, upper-middle class baby boomers living in coastal cities and suburbs. Not, to say the least, the most promising demographic for growth or survival, even.

So if the Times goes belly-up, I will be sorry for what it was, perhaps the greatest news gathering organization the world has ever known, but not sorry for what it has become: a house organ for the insufferable elite, by the insufferable elite, who, with their sneering attitude toward those who vastly outnumber them in the "flyover" states, increasingly remind one of Charles Jennens, Handel's librettist, as described by Dr. Johnson,
Solyman the magnificent; who never walks abroad without a train of footmen at his heels, and, like Wolsey, with a scented sponge 'neath his nose, lest the breath of the vulgar herd should contaminate his sacred person.
Now there is Pinch Sulzberger, and his clientele, to a tee.

RINOs Need Not Apply

A note to all RINOs (Republicans in Name Only): this is what you have to look forward to if you continue to pass yourselves off as conservatives.



Since you have debauched the Republican principles you claim to uphold, you will be regarded and treated as the big-government Democrats you truly are; about time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

It seems hard to believe but it was thirty years today Barack Obama's mentor, President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, narrowly escaped harm after bravely fending off an attack by a killer rabbit.



(Thanks to the Instapundit for bringing back those precious memories.)

The Same Old Song...

But with a different ending.

At the sham International Conference against Racism, sponsored by the sham United Nations, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran went off on his usual tirade against the Jews and Israel. It's an old familiar tune for that murderous thug but this time, for a change, not all the audience chose to sing along.


The United States boycotted the conference, which was a good thing because there wouldn't have been time for our delegates to get permission from the President to walk out before the speech ended.

(Thanks to the MCJ.)

I Can Knock a Hundred Dollars Off That Tru-Coat

About the claim from the President that 95% percent of the public will be receiving a "tax cut:" to me a tax cut is when tax rates and spending are lowered. A tax cut, no matter how minuscule, without cuts in spending is more accurately called (and the Congressional Budget Office concurs) an expenditure, one that will be added to the stupefying deficit our president and the Congress have, as did their predecessors to a lesser extent, already run up and eventually have to be repaid.

Other than being on a far grander scale, this "tax cut" is no different from the classic ploy of car dealers, who when moving in for the kill, offer their hapless marks a "free" first monthly payment. If the mark bites, that "free" payment is then simply added to the total amount of the loan (the dealers call it "backloading"). Nowadays, car dealers must disclose such a shady maneuver via a truth-in-lending statement but the president and Congress are under no obligation to be as honest as car dealers.

Taken for a ride.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Do They Expect?

From the London Times:
Israel stands ready to bomb Iran's nuclear sites

The Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.


*****

“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” one senior defence official told The Times.
When the heads of a nation call daily for the obliteration of its neighbor while it simultaneously develops nuclear capability, despite being awash with oil, is it unreasonable for the threatened neighbor to take proactive measures?

Fiat Medicine

Glenn Reynolds links to this Wall Street Journal piece by a New York physician who, along with many of his peers, no longer treats Medicare and Medicaid patients and, increasingly, even those with private insurance. The meager and delayed compensation isn't worth the myriad and time-consuming forms that have to be filled out. The doctor cautions: "With more and more doctors dropping out of one insurance plan or another, especially government plans, there is no guarantee that you will be able to see a physician no matter what coverage you have."

No doubt our president and the Speaker of the House, in to their drive to socialize medicine in this country, have already considered this fly in the ointment and have a solution at the ready. It doesn't seem unreasonable to expect from them a bill that, while invoking the "universal right" to health care and framing it as a civil rights issue, makes it an offense for a doctor to turn away any patient for any reason, with penalties including license revocation and fines. With doctors thus relegated to the status of taxi drivers, it will be fun to see the effect on medical school enrollments.

There are relatively uncomplicated solutions to the ungainly health care system in this country that might even work but because they are not compulsory and involve free markets, the left will never consider them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

À la recherche du temps perdu

I am indebted to reader Banished Child of Eve for sending a link to an intensely serious website calling itself Catholic Nuns Today. It's living history in a way, offering a peek into the rapidly vanishing world of post-conciliar, lefty-activist vocations (I wonder if they have an annual picnic and softball game with these quaint souls).

The site is loaded with FAQs, found on every page, so to spare my inquiring readers undue and tiresome clicking, I have posted a selection of those questions, along with my own modest attempts at answering them.

  • Why don't I see you in the hospitals and schools like (sic) in the old days?

  • Good question. You might stick your heads into one of those places and ask if they could use a hand.

  • Where have all the habits gone?

  • Young girls ditched them, every one.
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

  • Do you give up having fun?

  • How can a girl not have fun butching it up and smashing imperialism?




  • Is there a role for women religious today?

  • There is indeed and you should definitely look into it.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Take Your Sweet Time

    It may take until 2036 before the World Trade Center is completely rebuilt. Fine with me (from AP).
    NEW YORK – Construction of several ground zero office towers could be put off for decades because of the failing real estate market, the site's owners said Thursday, citing an analysis that projected one skyscraper might not be built and occupied until 35 years after Sept. 11.

    [snip]

    [Developer Larry] Silverstein, unable to obtain financing for all the towers and with only about $1 billion left in insurance money to pay for them, asked the Port Authority last fall to guarantee financing for two of his towers, officials familiar with the negotiations say.
    Few people seem to remember the World Trade Center was a classic monument to government waste, hubris and excess. There was no need to obliterate a vibrant commercial district to accommodate those huge, architecturally second-rate buildings and there was no need for the millions of square feet of office space they contained; businesses then, as now, were leaving downtown for midtown. Indeed, for years after the complex opened, it was mostly vacant until management of the Port Authority of New York, the famously arrogant government entity responsible for the Trade Center's construction and management, became so embarrassed by the see-through boondoggle it moved most of its operations into it so at least some of the space would appear to be leased.

    Even the powerful Port Authority, however, wasn't quite powerful enough to foist the Trade Center on us, it also took the outsized egos and influence of Nelson and David Rockefeller. Those two power-mad brothers, wishing to emulate their old man, John D., Jr., by leaving their mark on Manhattan (Nelson, Governor of New York, apparently wasn't content destroying downtown Albany with his ghastly Empire State Plaza). The difference was John D., Jr. used his own money to build Rockefeller Center, perhaps the most successful, both financially and architecturally, office development in Manhattan. David and Nelson, like so many generational creatures of privilege, preferred using other people's money, the taxpayers,' to get the Trade Center built and neither of them had a whit of their father's vision or sense.

    With the government, especially the Port Authority of New York, involved, there isn't a chance in the world the new World Trade Center will be of any merit whatsoever, nor will there be need for acres of government-sponsored office space downtown. The people would be better served if the land were sold off to the highest bidder.

    Forty years ago, a man much wiser than I asked if the time had come to place the Port Authority in private hands so the public might have a say in its operation. It is as worthy a question now as it was then.


    Do Come Home, All is Forgiven!

    A. N. Wilson, once famously atheistic, has rediscovered his faith. He writes how difficult it can be, in this modern age, to be a Christian.
    Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?
    Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.
    To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.
    This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.
    No cause for shame and he was hardly alone. Wilson is attending C of E services but has made an unpleasant discovery.
    One suspects this is how it is viewed in most liberal circles, in university common rooms, at the BBC and, perhaps above all, sadly, by the bishops of the Church of England, who despite their episcopal regalia, nourish few discernible beliefs that could be distinguished from the liberalism of the age.
    Not much different over here. Wilson was received into the Catholic Church many years ago, before renouncing it and proclaiming his atheism. Given the rapidly deteriorating state of Anglicanism, I hope he will consider making his confession and coming back to Holy Mother Church. I know just the priest for him.


    Tiber Ferryman to the quality

    President Says "Jump," Georgetown Asks "How High?"

    Georgetown University, according to the early 80s phenomenon, the Preppy Handbook, "used to be Catholic." No kidding:
    Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.
    I wonder what the University of Notre Dame will have to cover up when the president gives the commencement address. On the other hand, maybe they've already removed all that yucky religious stuff.

    (Thanks to Banished Child of Eve.)

    UPDATE: Notre Dame will need a pretty large curtain to cover up Touchdown Jesus.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Proper Recognition at Last

    I've been promoted! According our Department of Homeland Security, the opinions expressed in this blog are those of a right-wing extremist.
    Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups... [including] those that are mainly antigovernment (check!), rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority (check!), or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion (check!) or immigration.
    Not a perfect score, mind you, but not bad, either. To think all those years I thought myself a reasonably nice fellow and I turn out to be a snarly, dangerous extremist. Kind of makes me afraid of myself!

    UPDATE: Uh, oh! Are those black helicopters I see overhead?

    (Thanks to For What It's Worth.)

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, 1955-2009

    An amiable goofball, also known for his knuckleball, I saw him pitch a couple of times in Fenway Park for the Tigers against the Red Sox, most memorably against another goofball, Bill "Spaceman" Lee (with whom once, in a grubby bar in Boston, I argued communist agrarian policy in Red China--he for, I against).

    The press had a field day with Fidrych, regarding him rather like Mr. Dick in David Copperfield, attributing great depth to his simple observations and pronouncements. Alas, there wasn't much depth to them at all but he was still a sweet, hardworking ball player who would have enjoyed a much longer career were it not for injuries. He pitched only 58 games.

    I remember reading an interview with Fidrych done in his swell new digs in Detroit, just after he had signed with the Tigers. The reporter noted the lack of a telephone and asked him why. His response: "Who would I call?"

    Oh Really?

    Glenn Reynolds quotes (approvingly, I assume) Mickey Kaus, who writes
    Why might the Obama administration want to raise the topic of possible immigrant mass legalization even if it’s not going to happen this year? Even if you assume such talk encourages more people to come here illegally–in the hope of qualifying for the amnesty–or at least discourages illegals currently in the country from going home during the recession, what good would that do Democrats? Illegal immigrants can’t vote (emphasis added).
    That will come as news to ACORN.

    Has the Moment Arrived?

    I wrote about a month ago that the nascent "tea party" movement, not warmed-over socialism, represented real "change" in this country and we would know if this movement had legs when "anguished and furious denunciations of it, decrying it as 'neo-fascism' (or the like), begin appearing in the New York Times and left-wing blogs." We may be getting there.
    Jane Hamsher and Oliver Willis are probably asking “Who the hell are this Tea Party bunch? Where did they come from?” I’ll tell you who they are, Jane and Oliver. They’re your worst nightmare: they’re small-governmenters first and party-loyalists second.
    UPDATE: As if on cue, Paul Krugman of the New York Times weighs in.
    But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

    One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.
    (It behooves me to thank Riehl World View).

    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    Time Off for Better Things

    Bloviating will resume next week.

    A holy Triduum and joyous Easter to all.

    Restoring Themselves to Grace

    I had high hopes for Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee (despite words to the wise from wise reader PMG) but they were quickly dashed. Not long after his election to the chairmanship, Steele jumped on the leftie bandwagon and lambasted Rush Limbaugh for having the temerity to wish the president's socialist visions would fail.

    Steele, alas, turned out to be just another Republican hack, whose notion of economic conservatism is to, say, protest mightily a $4 trillion spending program from President Pelosi and her White House subordinate, insist that $3 trillion is more than adequate and finally compromise at $3.85 trillion.

    So it is with some satisfaction I read of Eric Odom, the organizer of the upcoming "Tea Party" in Chicago on April 15th to protest the nation's going down the road to serfdom, declining the self-invitation of Chairman Steele to speak at the rally. I am sure it required little insight on Odom's part to determine Steele "only just decided to reach out after realizing how big the movement has gotten and how much media is now involved" and that he prefers "to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."

    It may be too much to hope the snubbing of Steele will wake up the Republicans to the fact outrage over the government's increasingly socialistic agenda is not just a Democrats-only problem, from which they might profit. The Republicans' dismal performance during the last administration has shown us most of them (with notable exceptions like Representative Jeff Flake and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford) are nearly as complicit creating the Leviathan state as the Democrats.

    The Democrats are well beyond redemption but there still is a chance (just a chance) for Steele and his Republicans returning to conservative grace; only, however, if they repent of their profligate past and, as Eric Odom helpfully suggests, "LISTEN to what we have to say and perhaps gather some thoughts on what the RNC needs to be doing moving forward."

    They'll Sooner Find a Virgin in a Whorehouse

    From the Washington Times:
    3 STRIKES AT VATICAN

    The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama's candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

    Italian journalist Massimo Franco, who broke the story about the White House attempts to find a suitable ambassador to the Vatican, said papal advisers told Mr. Obama's aides privately that the candidates failed to meet the Vatican's most basic qualification on the abortion issue.

    [snip]

    Mr. Franco, who has close connections at the Vatican, added that the rejection of the Obama candidates "would suggest that, at least so far, none of the potential Democratic diplomats were considered fit to 'improve relations' with the Holy See."
    Time was when the Democrats counted many in its leadership as opposed to abortion; Teddy Kennedy, Al Gore and Jessie Jackson, to name a few. Thanks to the concerted efforts of militant feminists, who never enjoyed much popular support but wielded a big stick, they were all driven into submission and the party is now as monolithic on that issue as all others.

    The president is in a tough spot. If he doesn't appoint an ambassador to the Vatican soon, he and his administration will appear even more amateurish (if that's possible) than they do already. On the other hand, if he can find a pro-life Democrat willing to serve, both president and candidate will risk incurring unholy wrath from outraged feminists and their legions.

    Perhaps a patriotic Catholic Republican will volunteer for the job.

    (h/t Glenn Reynolds.)

    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    This Will Tie the Multiculturalists up in Knots

    Jacob Zuma, of the African National Congress, the next president of South Africa:
    He once spoke of how, in his youth, he would knock down any 'pansy boy'...He has hinted he might restore the death penalty. He is keen on traditional medicine men. He thinks teenage unwed mothers should have their babies taken away; that school prayers should be compulsory and that there is too much sex on TV. He completely lacks the Westernised polish and smoothness of Mandela and Mbeki. His political party, the African National Congress, sometimes seems aghast that it has chosen him as leader. Too late.

    The Economic Recovery Act



    Doing his part.

    Barack Obama's Moment

    Here is Obama's chance to prove to the world he really is a President of the United States.
    Somali pirates hijack ship; 20 Americans aboard

    NAIROBI, Kenya – Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 20 American crew members onboard, hundreds of miles from the nearest American military vessel in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

    The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was hijacked, said Peter Beck-Bang, spokesman for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk. It was the sixth ship seized within a week, a rise that analysts attribute to a new strategy by Somali pirates who are operating far from the warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

    [snip]

    "It's a very significant foreign policy challenge for the Obama administration," said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, managing director of the British company Dryad Maritime Intelligence Service Ltd. "Their citizens are in the hands of criminals and people are waiting to see what happens."
    No kidding. Please, please, dear God in heaven, let us not hear talk of "negotiations" or bringing it to the United Nations.

    UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds reports the crew has retaken the ship. Bravo to them but we are going to see this again, often, until thugs on the high seas decide it isn't worth the risk.

    UPDATE 2: The crew has the ship but the pirates have the captain.

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Now That Bush Is Gone,

    The Israelis take matters into their own hands.
    JERUSALEM – Israel successfully tested an anti-missile system designed to protect the country against Iranian attack, the Defense Ministry said, perfecting technology developed in response to failures of similar systems during the 1991 Gulf War. The intercept of a dummy missile was the 17th test of the Arrow system, a U.S.-Israeli joint venture. Israeli defense officials said the interceptor was an upgraded Arrow II, designed to counter Iran's Shahab ballistic missile.

    Israel has identified Iran as its biggest threat, citing the country's nuclear program and its development of long-range ballistic missiles. Those fears have been compounded by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

    [snip]

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made the Iranian threat a top priority of his administration, congratulated defense officials for the successful test. "While we are for peace, we will know how to defend ourselves," he said.
    Damn straight, and they can no longer rely on us for help anymore. Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN, our nation's First Clown, Vice President Joe Biden, was asked
    how worried he is that Israel, under Netanyahu, will launch a strike to take out Iran's nuclear facilities.

    "I don't believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that," Biden said. "I think he would be ill-advised to do that. And so my level of concern is no different than (sic) it was a year ago."
    The man is foolishness compounded.

    Futurama



    The government car company's first offering!

    General Motors and Segway have joined forces to produce a two-wheel, two-seat, too-small-for-the-highway micro-car.

    These new PUMAs (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) are based on the motorized personal transporters that made Segway famous. But rather than standing on the scooter’s two wheels, drivers sit on a well balanced bench encased in lightly protective walls.

    GM and Segway hope the battery-powered vehicle will ease urban congestion and cut carbon emissions. During PUMA’s debut in New York City today, the two companies revealed plans to partner with cities and universities to set up special PUMA lanes. Segway failed to carve out exclusive real estate for its scooters years ago, leading to the predicament that they were a little too fast for sidewalks and a little too slow for roads. PUMAs can reach 35 miles per hour.

    Gee, with city bureaucrats and university professors calling the shots, how can they miss?

    Vanity of Vanities, Saith the Preacher, Vanity of Vanities; All Is Vanity.

    From the New York Post:
    TALE OF BEAUTY AND THE PRIEST

    'STOLE' 85G FOR NIP/TUCK


    Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the cutest clergyman of all?

    A 66-year-old Staten Island pastor trying desperately to turn back the clock ripped off nearly $85,000 from his congregation to pay for plastic surgery, Botox shots and fancy clothes, authorities said yesterday.

    The Rev. William Blasingame, 66, a fixture at the historic St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church for more than 30 years, began breaking the Eighth Commandment in January 2005 and continued to steal for another three years, according to the Staten Island district attorney.

    [snip]

    The landmark church at 225 St. Pauls Ave. in Stapleton is renowned for its Victorian Gothic architecture -- and parishioners set up the Friends of St. Paul's foundation to fund the maintenance, upkeep and beautification of its grounds.

    But Blasingame was using the money to fund his own beautification and upkeep (you gotta love the Post), officials said.

    [snip]

    Blasingame spent much of yesterday holed up in his Vanderbilt Avenue home, declining to speak to reporters who knocked on his door.

    He apparently spent little or none of the stolen money to make improvements on anything but his face and wardrobe.

    His rundown house sports a weed-strewn yard. Collapsed shutters decorate the windows.

    His 22-year-old car was parked on the street yesterday with an old poster from the church and a Bible in the back seat.
    An exquisite metaphor, even if unintentional.

    Your Servant, Sir

    Here's a headline that never, ever would have appeared on the top of the fold, right hand side, of page one of the New York Times during the last administration:

    Outlook on Economy Is Brightening, Poll Finds

    We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

    George Weigel argues the Pope is being severely undermined by a belligerent and entrenched Curia.
    Yet as the events of recent months have made painfully clear, Curial incapacity can impede and even damage the evangelical mission of the most intelligent pope. It was nothing short of a tragedy that a world-class Catholic theologian like Ratzinger, who had spent 50 years explaining Christianity's debt to Judaism to his Christian co-believers, should find himself saddled with the charge that he had reconciled a Holocaust denier to the Church. Yet that is what happened, because no one in whom Benedict XVI reposed trust had the sense to find out about Richard Williamson, and because the Curial culture of the day did not encourage those who did know the facts to warn the superiors. The entire Lefebvrist mess was preventable: if the pope had insisted throughout his pontificate on competence and had taken forceful measures to rectify incompetence; if those whose sole purpose is to give effect to the pope's will had done their jobs better; or if Benedict had reached outside the apostolic palace to take private soundings as to the likely effects of his gesture of reconciliation.

    The world, not simply the Church, needs a Benedict XVI working at the top of his form and being enabled to do so by his closest associates. Whether the question is challenging Europe to pull out of the demographic death-spiral caused by its debonair nihilism, or inviting Muslim leaders to seek an Islamically - faithful rapprochement with political modernity, or defending the dignity of human life against the dangers of a brave new world of bio-technically manufactured humanity, there is no substitute for the combination of insight and institutional authority that Pope Benedict brings to the world table. Yet he now faces a crisis in his papacy, for the wisdom of his voice is being muted by the decline in his authority attendant on the managerial incompetence of the Curia.
    Read it all.

    UPDATE: Never underestimate the ability of an executive's own bureaucracy to work against him. Recall the machinations of President Bush's State Department, even after he had appointed Condoleeza Rice, one of his own, its head.

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    You Think We've Got Problems

    American Catholics who believe misery loves company will be eager to learn of Holy Mother Church's star-crossed attempt installing Dr. Gerhard Maria Wagner as her new auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz. In many ways it's a familiar saga, the liberals vs. the conservatives, but from a uniquely Austrian perspective, especially because it involves Linz, a diocese that makes the Archdiocese of Los Angeles appear the exemplar of traditional Catholicism. This passage alone will give you an idea.
    Bishop Schwarz's troubles also were not over. On March 9 it was reported that one of the deans who had voted against Dr Wagner had confessed to having a long-term girlfriend. Fr Josef Friedl, who had a high media profile as a result of a controversial case with illegal immigrants, spoke out after being pressured to admit to having a mistress.

    "I am 65 now. Why should I lie?" Fr Friedl said. He added that everyone in his parish knew about his girlfriend anyway.
    Why indeed, Father, lying is a sin and besides, it could be a lot worse: at least it's a girlfriend. Read the whole long piece in the Catholic Herald (UK) to be dismayed, yes, but also entertained.

    (Thanks to Dr. Tighe.)

    Zoroastrianism Anybody?

    Apparently, the BuddahBishop™ wants to be a Muslim, too! But of course: in the inclusive church, there's room for all religions.

    Sustainable Grief

    Another senseless slaughter, this time in Binghamton, New York, where a wacko, who in saner times would have long before been locked up for his own good, blew away thirteen souls studying for their citizenship exams. Naturally, the cable news leeches poured in to provide their non-stop breathless and earnest coverage, with analysis. The pols, of course, had to make a show of their concern, writ extra large; from the president in Europe on down. Rick Moran writes:
    A press conference on the massacre in Binghamton was surreal. After Mayor Ryan made some opening remarks, Governor Paterson shouldered his way to the microphone to get a little national TV face time. He was followed quickly by Representative Maurice Hinchey (D). A written statement from both those gentlemen would have sufficed. Instead, we were treated to the spectacle of local and state pols sticking their faces in front of the cameras, using a tragedy for self-aggrandizing purposes.
    As our president's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel would say: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    Not to Worry, I Saved It!

    You may recall a couple of days ago my posting about the harridan in Massachusetts unanimously elected dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School at Harvard. I linked to a sermon she gave a couple of years back on the subject of abortion; what a glorious thing it and its practitioners are. I also suggested the possibility the sermon being "disappeared" as word of it made its way around the Internet.

    That is precisely what happened and while I have no doubt the she-wolf will assume her academicals at EDS, regardless (or, more likely, because) of this sermon, I am more than a little disappointed she no longer wishes to share it anymore. So, as a public service and to those who missed it the first time, I present below the entire sermon given by the "Rev'd" Katharine Hancock Ragsdale, which I copied from her website as a precaution lest she later drop it down the memory hole.

    Read it if you can.

    UPDATE: She just moved it somewhere else so no need to post it here.