My Blog List

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Government Approved

Back in the 'sixties Mad Magazine did a brilliant send-up of the ubiquitous little catalogs from mail-order outfits like Spencer Gifts and Lillian Vernon, which offered crappy, low-cost "gift" items. Mad, exaggerating only slightly, featured a catalog from the "House of Krudd (formerly Krudd Bros. Junk Yard)," peddling such items as the "Bent Coat Hanger Repair Kit: makes a great hobby for the senile and the stupid!" and, my favorite, the "Combination Tire Pump and Lemon Squeezer" which, as an accompanying illustration showed, was just that: a tire pump with a lemon squeezer attached to the handle with masking tape; the catalog copy advised it was "great for campers!" and that you could get it "personalized," if desired.

All that came flooding back with news from Instapundit concerning bogus items submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency for certification for its "Energy Star" program. One item submitted and approved was a "Feather-Duster Fly-Strip Air Freshener," which, according to Popular Mechanics, was a "standard space heater spangled in strips of flypaper, with a feather duster perched up top."



Geniuses like those at the EPA will soon be in charge of our health care. Pray you don't get sick.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Preventive Medicine?

Via Instapundit, from the Telegraph:
Tens of thousands of [National Health Service] workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.

[snip

The proposals could lead to:

10 per cent of NHS staff being sacked in some areas.
The loss of thousands of hospital beds.
A reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs.
Medical professionals being replaced by less qualified assistants.

The plans are contained in a series of internal NHS documents uncovered by The Daily Telegraph.
Naturally, being creatures of the left, the Labour government is holding off announcing the bad news until the coast is clear.
The final details of the plans are not due to be announced until the autumn, well after the country has gone to the polls for the general election.
Well of course, what would you expect from the left, transparency? Naturally, HM's Loyal Opposition is not pleased:
The Conservatives and health campaigners said the public deserved to know the true extent of cuts at their local surgeries and hospitals before voting.
Regardless whether the voters in England know the true state of their National Health by elections, the timing could not be more propitious for opponents of ObamaCare, with news of the drastic cutbacks in England coming just in time for our own elections in November.

Armor of Light

From For What It's Worth comes the splendid suggestion we celebrate "Turn on the Lights Saturday Night" as a counter to the environmentalist cretins doing exactly the opposite that evening, presumably to prepare us for how things will look when they are in charge--a foreshadowing, you might say.

My only suggestion is use green lights if at all possible, making it absolutely clear to the Luddites we are on to their zealous agenda of decay.






















North and South Korea by night

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better

What I most discouraging about the health care bill just signed by the President is not that it takes this country a giant leap further down the road to socialism, although it certainly does that. Nor is it the revelation with crystal clarity the ruling political class of this country's utter contempt for the rest of us and their Orwellian regard for us as farm animals; living only to eat and sleep with all our exigent need to be determined and doled out at the pleasure of our betters; although it certainly leads to that, too.

No, for me, the most discouraging aspect of ObamaCare is the appalling realization that we as a nation, via legislation, have invited into our homes to make make critical decisions affecting our personal weal, such deplorable mediocrities (and their satraps) like Madams Pelosi, Boxer and Waters and Messrs. Reid, Frank and Stupak.

































Lord Acton (a Catholic and referring to Pope Leo Pius IX, for you Protestants out there!) wrote, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Gazing at the late deeds of our elected representatives, a corollary to that, it occurs to me, is that the lust for power is inversely proportionate to the competence of those who lust for it. While many of those in the rogues gallery seen above may well be turned out of office by a gratifyingly and increasingly angry populace, it remains to be seen whomever they are replaced by will be any more competent and thus resistant to the lure of exercising dominion over the people they are supposed to serve. Pray for our country.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Europe's Turn

Gerald Warner in the Telegraph about the latest, but certainly not the last, sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church:
It has become fashionable to claim that the sex abuse scandal currently afflicting the Catholic Church is “its biggest crisis since the Reformation”. Oh, really? Tell me about it. The abuse issue is just a small part of the much larger crisis that has engulfed the Church since the Second Vatican Catastrophe and which is more serious than the Reformation.

[snip]

How could clergy transgress so gravely against the doctrines of the Church? What doctrines? These offences took place in the wake of Vatican II, when doctrines were being thrown out like so much lumber. These offenders were the children of Paul VI and “aggiornamento”. Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily.
Archbishop Dolan of New York has also pointed out the Church's egregious error for years of subscribing to the trendy notion that monsters who raped young men could be "treated" for their crimes, then placed in their midst again; only to do it again (and again and again).

(Thanks to Augustine)

Aftermath

Despite the ghastly healthcare bill being passed last night, I remain optimistic. Isn't it remarkable, despite the left's hegemony over over our media, education and culture for over two generations, a sizable majority in this country is still opposed to government takeover of our health care?

It would have been better in the short term, of course, if the bill had been defeated but with its passage we, including members of the Congress, finally have the opportunity of taking a nice leisurely look at the thing to learn just what horrendous goodies are contained inside. As each excruciating detail is revealed public rage will be stoked and re-stoked, the Democrats ever more on the defensive; until a good number, perhaps a majority of them, are thrown out of office, this fall and two years from now.

That's my take. There are others, smarter than I, who are more glum.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keeping the Promise



Back in January of last year I recounted the sad tale of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York. A thriving parish, responsible for numerous good works in that depressed city, it had recently parted company with the Episcopal Church because of the never-ending apostasies and aligned with a diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya. Good Shepherd had dearly wished to keep its property and had, in fact, offered to pay the Diocese of Central New York full market value for it despite the collapse in the real estate prices that had occurred earlier.

The diocese refused and instead sued the parish (a very popular activity in the Episcopal Church, sort of their evangelism for the 21st century) to force them to vacate. The court ruled in the diocese's favor, ordering the parishioners to surrender the property and everything in it. That they did, taking up quarters in an unused Catholic church nearby where, happily, they continue to thrive, mercifully unshackled from the Episcopal Church.

At the time the diocese promised new parishioners would be found to take the place of those who departed but with membership in the Episcopal Church plummeting, particularly in the the Diocese of Central New York, whose membership is down over thirty-percent since 1998, that seemed a particularly tall order. But surprise, surprise! The Diocese came through and once again a religious organization calls the former Church of the Good Shepherd home, an organization that's growing in leaps and bounds.



Yep, the former home of the Church of the Good Shepherd is now owned by Muslims who, according to Good Shepherd's rector, the Rev'd Matt Kennedy, paid the diocese a bargain one-third the price offered by Good Shepherd's parishioners a year-and-a half ago. Fr. Kennedy also reports while driving by the place the other day, he watched as the new infidel occupants yanked the cross off the steeple; the green door speaks for itself.

These days I don't dwell as much as I used to on the Episcopal Church but every now and then still find myself asking if that organization could possibly become a viler institution than it was when I left it. So far the answer has always been yes.

(Thanks to Chris Johnson at the MCJ.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is That a Promise, Mr. President?

From the Telegraph:
Barack Obama has said he will not campaign for any Democratic congressmen who fails to support health care reform.

The president will refuse to make fund-raising visits during November elections to any district whose representative has not backed the bill.
He's gone back on his word so many times, they'll make him swear to it if they're smart.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mass Hysteria

Mass today at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pain* was preceded, as usual, by a chirpy, if husky, "Good morning!" from the songstress at the microphone, Florence Jenkins, a one-time alto who, owing to the march of time, has unwittingly become a tenor. She then read off the names of those taking part in the upcoming celebration: the priest, the servers, the lector, the soloist (herself) and the organist (who seems to have learned the art of registration via close study of the band organ in the Central Park carousel).

Florence read some announcements, then invited us all to join her in the opening hymn, the gorgeous, if inappropriate, Passion Chorale; not with the familiar and moving words "O sacred head, sore wounded..." but with a newly written and artless text. Perfesser Organist evidently determined J. S. Bach's harmonization of the chorale tune was not satisfactory so provided his own, which consisted mostly of parallel fifths and octaves and long pedal tones bearing little or no relation to the notes on top.

After Fr. Obote had made it safely to the altar, he too bid us "Good morning" and informed us today was Gaudate Sunday (nope, that occurs on the third Sunday in Advent; today is Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent). Father then informed us (correctly) it was customary to wear rose-colored vestments on this day. He wore purple. Thence to some more announcements, including that he had been ordered to abbreviate his sermon because today also marked the beginning of the Archdioscean Stewardship Appeal. To that purpose, at sermon's end envelopes with suggested dollar amounts printed on them would be distributed among the congregation, along with little pencils with which to check off the amount we decided we wanted to give; all to be taken up with the collection. After a passable if perfunctory homily, and some confusion among the ushers, envelopes and pencils were passed around. Those who had not received envelopes were instructed to raise their hands.

A few minutes later, a woman did raise her hand but not to request an envelope, rather to speak. Speak she did, shouting, actually, giving a furious harangue about what was going on: that this was fundraising and to engage in it during Mass was inappropriate and unprofessional. I must say my heart went out to the woman but will admit her behavior, too, was inappropriate. Father Obote, whose first language is not English, seemed stunned and tried his best to mollify the unhappy woman. He was not successful, in fact each time he was able to get a word in edgewise, the woman got angrier still, the pitch of her voice rising, precisely and entertainingly, by whole tones. In time, however, the rest of the congregation managed to shush the poor soul (I wonder if she was thinking, as I was, of Johann Tetzel).

There being some tension in the air, Florence Jenkins hastily returned to the microphone to announce the offertory hymn, only to be alerted by members of the congregation we had yet to recite the Creed or make the intercessory prayers. After that was straightened out, things proceeded relatively smoothly to the closing, when Father once again brought proceedings to a halt so to praise our little choir for the communion anthem they had gamely attempted to sing over the blasting of the calliope organ. Father's praise took the form of recounting his days in seminary when he and some fellow postulants, none of whom having any musical ability, had butchered an anthem during Mass, causing a priest to burst out laughing. I'm not sure how well our choir took Father's "compliment" but I'm sure he meant well.

After still more announcements, Father at last gave the final blessing and dismisal. Florence Jenkins returned to the microphone one more time to make yet even more announcements, as well announce the closing hymn, making it all perfect: "How Great Thou Art." While walking home afterward with a friend, I mentioned to him how clever it was of them at Our Lady of Pain managing to squeeze a Mass in among the numerous announcements and activities.

That crack of mine occasioned an insight: the typical post-Vatican II Mass these days bears remarkable similarity to the well-arranged kindergarten class, with diversions interspersed among lessons so to accommodate five-year-olds' attention spans. While I can aver my love for Holy Church grows ever stronger every day since my conversion two years ago, regardless gross deficiencies like those demonstrated so vividly today, I must also confess every now and then to muttering under my breath, "Dear God in heaven!"

*The venue and offending parties' names are changed to protect the guilty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Suckers

From Politico:
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are headed to the White House for a meeting on jobs Thursday, and they’ll have a few words to say about how President Barack Obama is doing his.

The 43-member caucus is fighting through one of the most difficult periods in its 39-year history, and some members and aides said they’re getting far too little support from the nation’s first black president — a man they once believed would be their strongest champion.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) told POLITICO that White House officials are “not listening” to black lawmakers.

[snip]

And Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said: “While I respect President Obama, delivering victories for his political future should be the least of our worries on Capitol Hill.”
Guess what, Congressmen Conyers and Jackson? Support from the CBC is the least of the President's worries. So unwavering and monolithic is your support of him and every single Democratic party position, the President and the rest of party leadership may confidently and safely ignore you, utterly and completely. After all, it's not as if they worry you guys are so whacked you'll go running to the Republicans.

Diary of a Newly Minted Papist

Catholic churches don't seem to be as prompt as Episcopal churches. At virtually every Episcopal church I have ever attended, low, broad and high, Masses or services would begin precisely at the appointed hour, you could set your watch by it. Perhaps that timeliness is a holdover from those palmy days in the Episcopal Church when parishioners fretted over strictly enforced Sunday starting times at the golf course; dilatory priests having hell to pay if they tarried.

Catholic churches seem far less concerned with punctuality, Masses beginning five or so minutes past their scheduled time seeming to be the norm. Just the same, I notice Catholics seem much more likely to be late for church than Episcopalians. Perhaps the expectation of lateness on the part of both religious and lay feeds on itself and contributes to the problem.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

They Gotta be Kidding

Via Instapunditt: ESPN: Obama Moving to Limit Fishing Access.

Not commercial fishing, mind you, but recreational fishing, which apparently is not to the liking of the environmental fascists.

Friday, March 05, 2010

36,000 People Beg to Differ

Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground

Another Democratic pol bites the dust:
Facing "allegations of misconduct" that reportedly involve sexual harassment against a male staffer, freshman Rep. Eric Massa is resigning Monday.

Facing "allegations of misconduct" that reportedly involve sexual harassment against a male staffer, freshman Rep. Eric Massa is resigning Monday.

"I own his reality," the New York Democrat said in a statement, admitting to using language that "might make a chief petty officer feel uncomfortable."

Massa went on to call Washington an "incredibly toxic atmosphere" and said the ethics committee probe "would tear my family and my staff apart."
Oh, I think you've done a pretty good job of it all by yourself, Congressman.

And If That Doesn't Work, We'll Take Out Another Ad

From Hot Air, via Instapundit, comes word the National Academy of Sciences, distressed at the plethora of scandal concerning anthropogenic global warming, has finally had enough and is taking bold action: shelling out $50,000 for a full-page ad in the New York Times defending the beleaguered scientists (one of whom is that hoary old fraud Paul Ehrlich) who still insist AGW is legitimate.

Compare that response with this mock TV commercial from a collection of vignettes found in a 1974 flick called The Groove Tube, in which a entity calling itself the "Uranus Corporation" proudly announces its response to a grossly polluted river for which it bears responsibility.

Objet d'horreur

The late Cleveland Amory, in his social history The Proper Bostonians, relates the tale of a newspaper in nineteenth-century Boston starting a Sunday edition and leaving free copies of it on the doorsteps of subscribers in Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, in hopes they would take it up. Instead, many of the good Protestant gentry there, upon discovering this vile intrusion on the Sabbath, ordered their servants to remove the offending object with fireplace tongs and drop it into the trash.

I was reminded of that delightful account today while cutting through Grand Central Terminal, returning to work after the noon Mass. Someone handing out books managed to successfully press a copy into my hands. It turned out to be a paperback containing excerpts from the novels of Miss M. J. Rose.



Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Give It a Rest, Will You?



The president was ridiculed back in October for parading around a bunch of doctors (above) at a presser to lend support for his national health insurance scheme. To add authority the White House staff had the docs don their white labs coats. It didn't work, of course, so today the president had another crack at it and, not surprisingly, is being ridiculed again.



Dare one think the President is showing a certain paucity of imagination?

Coming Home

A press release from the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, the American Province of the Traditional Anglican Communion:
Orlando, FL – 1 pm EST – Bp. George Langberg

Released by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, Traditional Anglican Communion 3 March 2010

We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the “Anglican Use” Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.

At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
This is welcome news for the Catholic Church; the infusion of enthusiastic traditionalist Anglo-Catholics into her ranks, while certain to cause conniptions among liberal bishops and aging post-Vatican II reformers, will be a godsend toward restoring proper liturgy and music to Holy Church.

The effect on the Episcopal Church, however, should be minimal since most traditionalist Anglo-Catholics have already left.

Thanks to Christian Campbell at The Anglo-Catholic.

The First Shot

The mayor of Cayuga Falls, Ohio (population ca. 50,000) has dared question the need for public sector unions. This has been a long time coming and I expect we will hear more questioning like this. I also think any candidate for office will be all but a shoe-in, in all but the bluest states, if he or she runs on a platform of abolishing government unions; and, if necessary, endorsing a Constitutional amendment prohibiting them. Those candidates could do worse than quoting from the following.
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.
The knuckledragging, teabagging troglodyte responsible for those words was none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, writing the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937, declining an invitation to speak at their national convention.

It was not until 1962 another more "enlightened" Democrat, President John Kennedy, signed an order allowing federal employees to unionize. Since JFK hasn't quite yet achieved hagiological parity with St. Franklin, and since it is now politically safe to chip away at the Kennedy legacy, the time has arrived for a full scale attack on government unions: federal, state, county and local; the preposterous redundancy of unionized civil servants speaks for itself. As the unemployment rate continues high (except for for unionized government workers, of course) and the economy continues to remain in the toilet, one could hardly come up with a safer issue to run on.


Union-busting scab

Monday, March 01, 2010

De gustibus non est disputandum

A friend of mine once told me a good way of finding Catholic churches bearing reasonable resemblance to their appearance in pre-Vatican II days is to look in either poor neighborhoods or "former" neighborhoods, i.e. neighborhoods in which few, if any, people live anymore. Those churches generally having no money, when it came time to to accommodate the post-Vatican II reforms, they did it on the cheap, doing little structural damage to their buildings (to ruin a church properly not only calls for horrendous taste but also a vast budget; former Archbishop Rembert Weakland proved that spectacularly, possibly setting the gold standard for church wrecking, with his disastrous "renovations" of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee).

A fine example of a church in a former neighborhood that retains most of its former glory is the Church of the Holy Innocents, smack in the middle of the garment district in midtown Manhattan; which nonetheless does a brisk business caring for the souls of garment workers, shoppers and commuters rushing to and from nearby Penn Station. The requisite "picnic table" altar is there but easily ignored, in fact Holy Innocents is able to offer a proper Tridentine (Latin) Mass every evening, six days a week.



Not on the same scale as Holy Innocents but still pleasant to the eye is the Church of St. Elizabeth, found in an impoverished section of Washington Heights in northern Manhattan. Built during the reign of Cardinal Hayes in the 1920s, it has a comfortably cluttered Catholic look and feel to it and, all in all, looks pretty much the same as it must have when it went up; even the altar rail is intact. No doubt owing to the church's meager budget, the picnic table altar (and the platform it sits on) is made of wood, giving it a happily temporary appearance and also giving one the hope it might one day be removed.

Recently, alas, I learned St. Elizabeth's must have found some money and while the wooden picnic table will be removed, it is to be replaced by a much more substantial one made of marble. In addition, a marble platform to hold the thing up will be built in the sanctuary and the altar rail chopped up in order to "create more space in the sanctuary" (How is that possible? The altar rail abuts the nave.).

What a shame! Post-Vatican II reformers (who are really getting long in the tooth, I must say) may vehemently deny it but Holy Church is, albeit glacially, moving back to traditional worship. For St. Elizabeth's to make these dreadful, expensive and unneeded alterations this late in the game seems to be folly and betrays ignorance of the direction in which Holy Church is moving. It will also mar a most attractive and charming church.


(Image from the American Guild of Organists, New York City website.)