Monday, November 30, 2009

If one scare tactic doesn't work, try another.

In an earlier post, here, and in response to comments made to a post or two before that, I have have likened the religious fervor of the global warming enthusiasts to that of the population bomb alarmists of the late 1960s and 1970s. As I said, despite my general skepticism of the humanists-turned-anti-humanists, the global warming bubble has not been an interest of mine. But, lo and behold, what I thought was just a vague and general analogy turns out to be a direct link. For the man who dropped the population bomb that did so much to lay waste Europe and throw millions of innocent unborn babies into garbage pails co-authored a book by the current administration's "science czar," John Holdren, who has also been an outspoken supporter of the global warming agenda.

Here's what Mr. Holdren and his co-authors said in their 1977 book Ecoscience:
Individual rights. Individual rights must be balanced against the power of the government to control human reproduction. Some people—respected legislators, judges, and lawyers included—have viewed the right to have children as a fundamental and inalienable right. Yet neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution mentions a right to reproduce. Nor does the UN Charter describe such a right, although a resolution of the United Nations affirms the "right responsibly to choose" the number and spacing of children (our emphasis). In the United States, individuals have a constitutional right to privacy and it has been held that the right to privacy includes the right to choose whether or not to have children, at least to the extent that a woman has a right to choose not to have children. But the right is not unlimited. Where the society has a "compelling, subordinating interest" in regulating population size, the right of the individual may be curtailed. If society's survival depended on having more children, women could he required to bear children, just as men can constitutionally be required to serve in the armed forces. Similarly, given a crisis caused by overpopulation, reasonably necessary laws to control excessive reproduction could be enacted.

It is often argued that the right to have children is so personal that the government should not regulate it. In an ideal society, no doubt the state should leave family size and composition solely to the desires of the parents. In today's world, however, the number of children in a family is a matter of profound public concern. The law regulates other highly personal matters. For example, no one may lawfully have more than one spouse at a time. Why should the law not be able to prevent a person from having more than two children?
Here is another passage, headed "Involuntary fertility control."
The third approach to population limitation is that of involuntary fertility control. Several coercive proposals deserve discussion, mainly because some countries may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birthrates are rapidly reversed by other means. Some involuntary measures could be less repressive or discriminatory, in fact, than some of the socioeconomic measure suggested.
A program of sterilizing women after their second or third child, despite the relatively greater difficulty of the operation than vasectomy, might be easier to implement than trying to sterilize men. This of course would be feasible only in countries where the majority of births are medically assisted. Unfortunately, such a program therefore is not practical for most less developed countries (although in China, mothers of three children are commonly "expected" to undergo sterilization).

The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births. No capsule that would last that long (30 years or more) has yet been developed, but it is technically within the realm of possibility.
These are the kind of people this administration turns to for science. It's chilling to say the least.

Source here.

A Reminder

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Speaking of Speaking Truth to Power . . .

Here's a woman whose forthright indignation makes one feel that a revival of moral principle and political prudence might still be possible. Her name is Debra Burlingame. Her brother was the captain of the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, and she responds to the Obama administration's decision to try the perpetrators of that attack in a New York criminal court in today's New York Daily News:

The attorney general has suggested that those who oppose prosecuting these men here in New York City are afraid - that we somehow don't have the courage to face Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in court.

How dare this man, who didn't have the decency to notify victims' families of his decision to bring these monsters here, imply that we lack courage. Courage is carrying on after watching your loved ones die, in real time, knowing that they burned to death, were crushed to death, or jumped from 100 flights high. Courage is carrying on, even as we waited, in some cases years, for something of our loved ones to bury. More than 1,100 families still wait.

How dare the attorney general suggest that the firefighters who oppose this trial need to "man up" and let this avowed enemy of America mock their brother firefighters in the country's most magisterial setting, a federal court.

Let me refresh the attorney general on the meaning of courage. Courage was going into those buildings that day, knowing they might not come out alive. Courage was digging for nine months on hands and knees, breathing in toxic smoke, to find the ravaged remains of brother firefighters, police officers, citizen responders and office workers. This courage was not summoned from false bravado; it sprang from an abiding love of their fellow human beings and a sense of obligation to them, their families and their beloved country.

The attorney general has glibly, and most insensitively, called the perverse spectacle he wants to invite on this city and this nation, the "trial of the century." Well, Mr. Attorney General, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has put you on notice. He's going to give it to you. His trial will be lawyer-assisted jihad in the courtroom.

We understand that to the terrorists, jihad is more than spilling American blood, it is forcing us to change our lives, divert our limited resources. When we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on rooftop snipers, kevlar vests and armored vehicles, that's jihad. When we barricade our buildings, lock down our streets, and close our transportation systems, that's jihad. When we grant a confessed war criminal access to platinum due process, so that he can use it to rally his fellow terrorists to kill more of our citizens and target our military, that's jihad.

Disagree with Debra Burlingame if you must, but acknowledge at least that here is a woman who is still in touch with her moral principles and her common sense.

The Chamberlain moments our survivors will look back on ...

Apropos the post just below this one, this from Professor Barry Rubin, quoted earlier here and here, on the drift of things in Iran:
For a couple of years it has been visible; for months the opposition has been talking about it. What’s happening is the gradual takeover of a huge amount of power by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Iranian government has generally been radical since the revolution, 30 years ago. But now the most extremist faction of all has taken over, pushing out its rivals.

Of course, Spiritual Guide Ali Khamenei is the most powerful man in Iran. But obviously he has no problem with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being president and the IRGC becoming the power behind the throne.

This is important because the IRGC is the most fanatical and risk-taking part of the regime. It is very much committed to expanding the revolution and maintains the regime’s links with foreign revolutionary and terrorist groups.

Oh, and it will also be the institution that will have actual possession of Iran’s long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

Not only are these people nobody can make a deal with, but they are also the ones most likely to make a war some day.
In response to "soft diplomacy" these certified fanatics have decided to double Iran's nuclear processing facilities. It will be hard to claim that the civilized world was hoodwinked. Winks and nods, yes, but hoodwinked, no.

Source: The Rubin Report.

In case you're wondering, I don't enjoy posting things like this. I, too, have children and grandchildren, and I feel a responsibility for the welfare of all those to whom we are bequeathing such a ticking time bomb.

Not only does hope, the theological virtue of hope, survive these kinds of dark harbingers, it is awakened by them. For that, at least, we can be grateful.

Welcome to the Post-American World Order

From the Washington Post:
State-run media says Tehran has approved a plan Sunday to build 10 industrial scale uranium enrichment facilities, a dramatic expansion of the program in defiance of U.N. demands it halt enrichment efforts.
Now that the humbled and contrite United States has decided to ignore the moral obligation that comes with the power to protect the innocent and champion freedom, the world is about to discover what the citizens of any city or town would discover if those in public safety decided to sit back and watch.

What has become of UN Human Rights?

There have been several uses lately of Gandhi's slogan: "Speak truth to power," many of them ludicrously from some of the most powerful people alive. But HERE is a video of an articulate young man speaking truth to power and having his words thrown back in his face by those who simply refuse to acknowledge a reality inconsistent with their blinkered world view.

Thanks to Robert Spencer.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Tale of Two Journeys

Regardless of how you feel about Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, each rose from unlikely circumstances to prominent roles in our present social and political culture. A comparison seems inevitable. The author and journalist Jack Cashill has given us one. It begins this way:
In the spring of 1964, Sarah Heath, then just three months old, flew into backwater Skagway, Alaska (population 650) aboard a 1930s-era Grumman Goose to start a new life with her parents, brother, and sister.

At that same time, in America's other new outlier state, Hawaii, two-year-old Barry Obama was just getting used to a fatherless existence in the otherwise-comfortable world his white grandparents and occasionally his mother would make for him.

At the time, not even Nostradamus could have foretold that the paths of Barry and Sarah would intersect in the "historic" 2008 election, Barry as the first major party presidential nominee of African descent and Sarah as the first woman with a real shot at the vice-presidency.

Each would change names before reaching the national stage. Barry Obama would become Barry Soetero, and then Barack Obama. Sarah Heath would become Sarah Palin after eloping with the formidable Todd Palin. Obama would chronicle his journey in the 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father and the 2006 sequel, The Audacity of Hope. Palin would chronicle hers in the 2009 memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life.

How the literary/media establishment would respond to the respective memoirs of these two political figures would reveal far less about the authenticity, honesty, and literary quality of the tales the authors told than it would about the collective mindset of that establishment.
Depending on which of these two public figures you find the more plausible and attractive, you will agree or disagree with Cashill on his assessment. Whatever your initial bias might be, I hope you will find Cashill's summary as fascinating as I did, even if you don't share my belief in the accuracy of his analysis. Read the whole thing here.

A Reminder: The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration is approaching 200,000 signatures. As of this posting, it's at 181753.

Go here to sign and see how many of signed since I posted this reminder.

The Imperiled Human Ecosystem

John Senior understood the sacramentality of ordinary daily life. He wrote:
The semiconscious, ordinary actions which come under the category of manners are the cultural seed-bed of morals, as morals in their turn are of the spiritual life.

Appearances are not only signs of reality but in a sense are like sacraments; they effect what they signify. I mean that there is a cause-and-effect relation between the work we do, the clothes we wear or do not wear, the houses we live in, the walls or lack of walls, the landscape, the semiconscious sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of our ordinary lives -- a close connection between these things and the moral and spiritual development of souls. It is ridiculous but nonetheless true that a generation which has given up the distinction between fingers and forks will find it difficult to keep the distinctions between affection and sex or between a right to one's body and the murder of one's child.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Never let a good crisis go to waste . . ."

That is a shameless slogan, one which I hope will one day be as roundly mocked as it deserves to be. The clear implication of that statement is that those who speak it know that the cause they are committed to advancing cannot be successfully advanced in a democracy under normal circumstances because most people would oppose it. Under very extreme circumstances, however, under crisis circumstances, things would different, and their cause might well be able to be advanced. That is the kind of cynicism that is deadly to democracy. (If you think no one thinks like that, you may need to learn more about the current White House Chief of Staff and others in the current administration.)

Climate change isn't my issue, except when it spills over into nefarious plans to reduce the human population with the coercive power of the government. But as I said in response to a comment on an earlier blogpost -- which included a video clip of Lord Christopher Monckton critiquing the global warming claims -- I have long felt that the alarmists were repeating Paul Ehrlich's "population bomb" hysteria, which resulted in the demographic death of Europe as we know it, Roe v. Wade, and the great contemporary slaughter of the innocents. It was secular humanism becoming -- predictably -- anti-human. Though the global warming advocates bear an ideological predisposition for the earlier Malthusian nightmare, unlike that hysterical consensus, this one seems to be coming apart before too much long-term damage has been done.

Indeed, what is undoubtedly in the running for the greatest scientific swindle of the modern age is unraveling right under the noses of its votaries and acolytes and in plain view of the state-run media, but -- in a pattern that is now completely familiar -- the Pravda press has decided to ignore the story almost completely, the BBC today running this lede:
UK PM Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have proposed a multi-billion-dollar fund to help developing nations deal with climate change.
On exactly what will this ocean of cash be spent, one wonders? What Western commercial interest will be feeding at that particular trough?

Meanwhile those who have studied the motives and methods of the principle global warming promoters mince no words. The fraud perpetrated by the anthropogenic global warming ideologues, writes James Lewis, "would have cost the taxpayers of the world trillions of dollars, not to mention wrecking their economies with carbon taxes and penalties."
It was a massive, worldwide attempt at a coup d’etat, and the victims were going to include all the free and prosperous peoples of the world. Hitler had his Reichstag fire. Today’s transnational left had its global warming fraud. The political goal was exactly the same: maximum power through maximum fear.
Lewis quotes Melanie Phillips:
All the manipulation, distortion and suppression revealed by these emails took place because it would seem these scientists knew their belief was not only correct but unchallengeable; and so when faced with evidence that showed it was false, they tried every which way to make the data fit the prior agenda. And those who questioned that agenda themselves had to be airbrushed out of the record, because to question it was simply impossible. Only AGW zealots get to decide, apparently, what science is. Truth is what fits their ideological agenda. Anything else is to be expunged. … [W]hat we are dealing with here is the totalitarian personality. One thing is now absolutely clear for all to see about the anthropogenic global warming scam: science this is not.
Their questionable techniques notwithstanding, if what seems to be the case turns out to be the case, the intrepid investigators who unearthed the extensive fraud should be given the ... dare I suggest it ... Nobel Peace Prize.

Ignoring the First Human Right

Remembrance of things past:

Where's the teleprompter when you need it?

As Creative Minority Report's Matthew Archbold puts it:
The very public trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others are said to be about human rights. But I don't believe it. I think these trials are simply a way to publicly embarrass the former President. And since there's likely a lot we don't know maybe there's lots of stuff that President Bush should be embarrassed about.

But let's not pretend that this is about President Obama's great concern for human rights. Remember that while Obama is practically tripping over himself to ensure that terrorists from other countries are being given trials, he refuses to see the rights of the unborn as even an issue. Remember, it's above his pay grade. And he's more than happy to ignore the human rights of the Chinese because we owe them so much money. The President's party is also currently advocating forcing people into prison for not buying health insurance. Prison. And this is the "human rights" party?

I know I've said this before but we have a President who very plainly advocated the killing of his own grandchild. So spare me the sanctimony please.
Well said . . . here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On a lighter note . . .

This is making the rounds on the blogosphere for obvious reasons. If they are not obvious to you, you have either a very small or very saintly family.

As my cousin is wont to say:
Praise the Lord anyhow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude the key to Happiness

The defining holiday of our country at its best.

Ultimately, it is to God that we owe our gratitude, and yet Thanksgiving is also good time to look around and see the goodness of those we love and admire. It's a reminder that we get from Fr. Kizito Kwane in the homily he gave at St. Joseph's Abbey on the Feast of All Saints.


Fr. Kizito's homily is here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"No way . . ."

Musician Jon Bon Jovi, right, and Cardinal Justin Rigali
appear at a news conference on Wednesday, July, 8, 2009. (AP photo)

Cardinal Rigali appeared with many other religious leaders and representatives to endorse the Manhattan Declaration discussed in an earlier post. Here is a follow up story.
( - A top Roman Catholic cardinal told that there is “no way” Catholic members of Congress can support the Senate health care reform bill as long as it includes a provision that allows tax dollars to go to insurance plans that cover abortion.

At the National Press Club on Nov. 20, asked Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia: “The Senate health care bill that Majority Leader Reid released this week permits tax dollars to go to insurance plans which cover abortion. And my question is: Would it be a mortal sin for a Catholic member of Congress to vote for this bill knowing that this provision is in it?”
Full story by Karen Schuberg.

Another reminder: You can sign the Manhattan Declaration here. At the time of this post, there have been 94974 signatures to the declaration. Go sign it and check to see how many additional signatures have been added. We're getting close to the first one hundred thousand.

Might Christmas make the list?

NewsBusters has a statistical profile that charts the steady cultural evisceration of Christmas and the religion that has celebrated it at least since the time of St. Francis.

Writes NewsBusters' Tom Blumer:
The red boxes demonstrate that the relative frequency of references to the phrase "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" is down almost 60% (58.6% to be exact).
If the chart is not legible go here.

Meanwhile, however, the vacuum is beginning to be filled -- even on this side of the Atlantic.

Just above the Thanksgiving Day banner is Best Buy's Happy Eid al-Adha tag, acknowledging the Muslim celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.

As Robert Spencer remarked: "Suddenly Best Buy has found a holiday it can actually mention by name without fear of censure from the Politically Correct Police."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Dream Come True . . .

Not long ago, I posted a lecture on the Middle East and the challenge of radical Islam by Barry Rubin at Yale University. Rubin is a certified expert on such things. Today he has a blogpost on the impact on the Middle East of the administration's decision to move the trial of September 11 plotters to a criminal courtroom in New York. What he predicts might warm the heart of Jeremiah Wright, but it will not be happy for most Americans forced to watch it as it unfolds.
In the trial, the terrorists will almost certainly base their defense on the concept of "defensive Jihad." They will argue that the Islamic world was acting in self-defense in retaliating. They will give a long list of real or alleged American misdeeds, long lists of civilians killed (in Aghanistan alone they could come up with thousands), alleged sufferings during the embargo on Iraq when Saddam Hussein was rejecting his commitments after the Kuwait war.

This defense will inflame large numbers of Muslims. It will provide a great platform for the defensive Jihad theory which, most recently, persuaded Major Khalid Hasan to kill 13 American soldiers. There will be specific terrorist attacks inspired by the speeches made in New York. People will join Islamist and terrorist groups, not necessarily al-Qaida, as a result of this inspiration. You can bet on it.

In addition, the high-profile of the trials could well inspire terrorists to seize Americans as hostages to exchange for the imprisoned Jihadists. The terrorists don't have to expect the United States to make such a deal. They want the publicity and will be quite happy to kill the hostages and blame it on the Americans' stubborness.

The Arab regimes won't like it because the defendants will spend a lot of time blasting Egypt and Saudi Arabia as American puppets and urge their overthrow. Of course, the terrorists will bring in Israel, too. It will be interesting to see how much time is devoted to each of the many topics they will use to attack America.

Naively, the Administration apparently believes that this show of American fair play, equal justice for all, innocent until proven guilty, trial by a jury of their peers (if the entire jury isn't Muslim, of course, most Middle East Muslims won't accept that notion), and the rules of evidence will impress Muslims worldwide about how great a system the United States has and what great people Americans are.

Yes, a few highly educated liberals will write about such things but that will appeal to less than five percent. By the time the trial is through the masses to a large extent will not conclude that the defendants are dastardly people who murdered 3,000 innocent victims but that the prosecutors and the government behind them are dastardly villains who murdered millions.
In the immortal words of the president's spiritual mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "not God bless America, but G**D*** America."

I pray that Professor Rubin is wrong, but I fear that he is right.


Padre Miguel Pro took up his cross.

Miguel Pro: a Mexican Jesuit martyred by a firing squad 81 years ago today in Mexico City. At his execution Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"
The President, a fiercely anti-Catholic Leftist named Plutarco Calles, famously blundered by publishing photographs of Pro’s execution to serve as a deterrent to potential adversaries. The photos were so instantly popular among Mexican Catholics that within a week of their publication by the government it had become illegal to possess one. [Catholic World News – Off the Record]
“If the powers of this world had only known
, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” (1 Cor. 2:8)
If the powers of the Mexican revolutionary regime had only known, they would not have crucified a disciple of the Lord of Glory.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beauty, Truth and Goodness

St. Paul admonished to not gloat over the wrongdoing of others but to delight in the truth, but in these days when multicultural doctrine about the equality of all cultures still commands a degree of acquiescence, comparisons sometimes serve us well. Here's one:

"Taliban suffocate Pakistan Buddhist heritage," by Sajjad Tarakzai for Agence France-Presse, November 22:

TAXILA, Pakistan -- Archaeologists warn that the Taliban are destroying Pakistan's ancient Gandhara heritage and rich Buddhist legacy as pilgrimage and foreign research dries up in the country's northwest.

"Militants are the enemies of culture," said Abdul Nasir Khan, curator of Taxila Museum, one of the premier archaeological collections in Pakistan.

"It is very clear that if the situation carries on like this, it will destroy our culture and will destroy our cultural heritage," he told AFP.

Compare Benedict XVI's recent address to an international and religiously diverse assembly of 250 artists in the Sistine Chapel:
Today’s event is focused on you, dear and illustrious artists, from different countries, cultures and religions, some of you perhaps remote from the practice of religion, but interested nevertheless in maintaining communication with the Catholic Church, in not reducing the horizons of existence to mere material realities, to a reductive and trivializing vision. You represent the varied world of the arts and so, through you, I would like to convey to all artists my invitation to friendship, dialogue and cooperation.

Some significant anniversaries occur around this time. It is ten years since the Letter to Artists by my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. For the first time, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope, who was an artist himself, wrote a Letter to artists, combining the solemnity of a pontifical document with the friendly tone of a conversation among all who, as we read in the initial salutation, "are passionately dedicated to the search for new ‘epiphanies’ of beauty". Twenty-five years ago the same Pope proclaimed Blessed Fra Angelico the patron of artists, presenting him as a model of perfect harmony between faith and art. I also recall how on 7 May 1964, forty-five years ago, in this very place, an historic event took place, at the express wish of Pope Paul VI, to confirm the friendship between the Church and the arts. The words that he spoke on that occasion resound once more today under the vault of the Sistine Chapel and touch our hearts and our minds. "We need you," he said. "We need your collaboration in order to carry out our ministry, which consists, as you know, in preaching and rendering accessible and comprehensible to the minds and hearts of our people the things of the spirit, the invisible, the ineffable, the things of God himself. And in this activity … you are masters. It is your task, your mission, and your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colours, forms – making them accessible." So great was Paul VI’s esteem for artists that he was moved to use daring expressions. "And if we were deprived of your assistance," he added, "our ministry would become faltering and uncertain, and a special effort would be needed, one might say, to make it artistic, even prophetic. In order to scale the heights of lyrical expression of intuitive beauty, priesthood would have to coincide with art." On that occasion Paul VI made a commitment to "re-establish the friendship between the Church and artists", and he invited artists to make a similar, shared commitment, analyzing seriously and objectively the factors that disturbed this relationship, and assuming individual responsibility, courageously and passionately, for a newer and deeper journey in mutual acquaintance and dialogue in order to arrive at an authentic "renaissance" of art in the context of a new humanism.
The pope's entire talk is well worth reading. It's here.

A Monk's Homily -- Oct. 18, 2009

A friend of mine, a monk at St. Joseph's Trappist Abbey, gave a couple of homilies while I was out of town. The monks are kind enough to pass along to me recordings of the homilies that I miss when away. I asked my friend if I could share this homily (and another one which I will post in a few days). He agreed, asking only to remain nameless for, he said, "I'm a hidden soul."

Click HERE to listen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Struggle continues . . .

From American United for Life:
Moments ago, the Senate voted 60-39, a party-line vote, to begin debate on Majority Leader Reid’s anti-life health care reform bill. The debate and amendment process will begin Monday, November 30th.

Majority Leader Reid’s health care bill:

  1. Allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions through the public option.
  2. Creates new federally-funded subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion.
  3. Requires every insurance market to include a private plan that covers abortion.
  4. Fails to sufficiently protect health care entities from discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
  5. Fails to prohibit federal funding of assisted suicide.

Hope-n-Change, a.k.a. Chauncey Gardiner

After musing on the eerie fact that our president doesn't know how to behave in a properly presidential fashion, Mark Steyn offers this:
I don’t just mean social lapses like his latest cringe-making bow, this time to Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan — though that in itself is deeply weird: After the world superbower’s previous nose-to-toe prostration before the Saudi King, one assumed there’d be someone in the White House to point out tactfully that the citizen-executives of the American republic don’t bow to foreign monarchs. Along with his choreographic gaucherie goes his peculiar belief that all of human history is just a bit of colorful backstory in the Barack Obama biopic — or as he put it in his video address on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall:

“Few would have foreseen on that day that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent.”

Tear down that wall . . . so they can get a better look at me!!! Is there no one in the White House grown-up enough to say, “Er, Mr. President, that’s really the kind of line you get someone else to say about you”? And maybe somebody could have pointed out that Nov. 9, 1989, isn’t about him but about millions of nobodies whose names are unknown, who lead dreary lives doing unglamorous jobs and going home to drab accommodations, but who at a critical moment in history decided they were no longer going to live in a prison state. They’re no big deal; they’re never going to land a photoshoot for Vanity Fair. But it’s their day, not yours.
Adding later:
The above are mostly offenses against good taste, but they are, cumulatively, revealing. And they help explain why, whenever the president’s not talking about himself, he sounds like he’s wandered vaguely off-message.
Read the whole thing here.

Doubting Thomas?

Thomas Aquinas that is.

If you have doubts, my friend Chris Morrissey, professor of philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College in British Columbia, has a solution.

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Substituting Sentimentality

Today, one often finds Christian charity transmogrified into what John Senior called "ridiculous amiability." Senior argued that such see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil cheerfulness was "an adjunct of tourism, in which well-meaning sentimentalists, sometimes vaguely Christian, confuse the will with the intellect and therefore 'ecumenism' with syncretism. They think that because we must love our enemies, everyone is our friend."

Friday, November 20, 2009

P.S. to the Manhattan Declaration: Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith's First Things article entitled "Pulling the Plug on the Conscience Clause," begins this way:
Over the past fifty years, the purposes and practices of medicine have changed radically. Where medical ethics was once life-affirming, today’s treatments and medical procedures increasingly involve the legal taking of human life. The litany is familiar: More than one million pregnancies are extinguished each year in the United States, thousands late-term. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, and, as this is written, Montana via a court ruling (currently on appeal to the state supreme court). One day, doctors may be authorized to kill patients with active euthanasia, as they do already in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

The trend toward accepting the termination of some human lives as a normal part of medicine is accelerating. For example, ten or twenty years from now, the physician’s tools may include embryonic stem cells or products obtained from cloned embryos and fetuses gestated for that purpose, making physicians who provide such treatments complicit in the life destruction required to obtain the modalities. ...
Adding shortly thereafter:
The ongoing transformation in the methods and ethics of medicine raises profound moral questions for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others who believe in the traditional virtues of Hippocratic medicine that proscribe abortion and assisted suicide and compel physicians to “do no harm.”
Read the whole article here.

I encourage you to follow the links on the post below and sign the Manhattan Declaration.

The Manhattan Declaration: A Happy Day

This will be an important date in our nation's history. The Manhattan Declaration -- signed originally by 148 prominent Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Christians, and now being signed by what will almost surely be thousands more -- may well be a turning point in the public discourse about the most important moral and social issues of our day. Here are two key paragraphs in the almost 5000 word declaration:
Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.
Go HERE to read the declaration, HERE for a short summary, and HERE to sign it. If the webpage loads slowly, that's the good news, a likely indication that the website is crowded with eager signatories. Be one of them.

A Friendly Reminder . . .

Tomorrow, while the Senate offices are closed, and when therefore no constituents will be able to reach their senators to express themselves, the Senate will be debating and voting on a bill that will not only begin the federal funding of abortion but that will also alter the relationship between citizens and the state in countless and profound ways. You have between now and 5 p.m. Eastern time to express yourself on this watershed piece of legislation.

It can be done.

Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P.

In a recent lecture in Alaska, my friend Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P. made some remarks that deserve wide exposure. After detailing the lamentable decline of philosophical, theological and even moral guidance given in Catholic colleges and universities over the few decades, Fr. Sweeney says this:
What is a tiny Dominican graduate school of philosophy and theology to do about this situation? It is my conviction that we can accomplish a great deal. We have inherited, and remained faithful to, a tradition of study that was first articulated 750 years ago, with the only curriculum that was ever explicitly based upon the Church's preaching mission; there is an almost inexhaustible depth of resource open to us. Neither does the size of our school much concern me; every institution begins small, and we have good historical precedent for small Dominican faculties making a very great difference. One such example is that of the theology faculty of the University of Salamanca in the early 16th century.

The last great cultural upheaval of the West began, arguably, about five centuries ago. Consider what is afoot in Europe in the year 1500: a new “humanism” focuses upon the individual; the first stirrings of the Protestant reformation are already being felt; the nation states are beginning to take shape, first in France and then elsewhere in Europe; the discovery of the new world and its colonization begin, raising questions of international law and also of human rights (are the North American natives to be regarded as human?); the new-found wealth pouring into Europe causes an inflation of the currency not ever experienced before, and raises commercial and ethical questions concerning inflation, currency and interest.

In the midst of all this Francisco de Vitoria, O.P. assumed the chair of theology at the University of Salamanca where, with the assistance of his Dominican confreres, he began to apply the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas to the challenges of the day. Together they founded what history now knows as the “school of Salamanca”. This was not a school in the sense of a separate institution –they were professors at the University of Salamanca. Rather, it was a school of thought: a common intellectual and scholarly enterprise to address the questions of their day, an initiative that lasted for at least a century, and whose impact is still felt. They articulated the humanism that is integral to the tradition of St. Thomas; in economic theory they introduced the ideas of just price, supply and demand and the scarcity theory of value; they argued, successfully, for the rights of native peoples applying St. Thomas' discussion of the ius gentium and offered the world the first systematic articulation of human rights; they advanced the just war theory, and were the first in history to propound the idea of international law.

I hope that it will not be regarded as an utter lack in humility for me to assert that they accomplished all of this not merely as Dominicans, but because they were Dominicans; they applied their Dominican tradition to the challenges of their age and invented whole new areas of study.
Read his whole piece here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finally the (Pied) Piper has to be paid.

An unprecedented drop in births and increase in abortions is creating the perfect storm for Europe, as LifeSiteNews reports:
"Europe is plunged in an unprecedented demographic winter and has become an elderly continent, with a large birth deficit, fewer marriages and more of them broken, homes emptying."

"The aging population, critical birth-rate, escalating abortions, the collapse of marriage, the explosion in family breakups and the emptying of homes are the main problems of Europeans," the 2009 Report on the Evolution of the Family in Europe said.

The study found that the annual number of abortions in the EU equals the entire combined population of its ten smallest member states, with the three top aborting countries being Britain, France and Romania. In Europe there is one abortion every 25 seconds, for a total of more than 1,200,000 abortions a year. 19 percent of all European pregnancies end in abortion and 28 million children have been killed by abortion since 1990, making abortion the main cause of death in Europe.
Read more here.

As expected . . .

From Americans United for Life:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last night unveiled a health care bill which provides for an unprecedented expansion of federally-funded abortion. The bill includes pro-abortion language and mirrors the false compromise Capps Amendment from the House debate — it allows the public option to include abortion coverage and provides federal subsidies for private plans which cover abortion.

The principle behind both the Hyde Amendment and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions or subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions. In the new Senate bill, the abortion language revealed on pages 116 through 124 in Senator Reid’s new health care bill will:

  • Require a plan that covers abortion in every insurance market.
  • Allow the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions through the public option.
  • Create new tax-funded subsidies to purchase private health plans that will cover abortion.

For all the details go here.

The Ivy League: Profiles in Courage

[Muslim] Apostate Nonie Darwish, author of "Cruel And Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law," and executive director, Former Muslims United, was scheduled to speak at Columbia University today and Princeton University tomorrow, and both events were canceled.

Columbia, where Ahmadinejad was welcomed like a returning king.

Just hours before she was scheduled to speak, the groups (the Debate Society and Tigers of Israel) succumbed to student Muslim groups and canceled her speaking event. Nonie called me from her NY taxi, shocked that just weeks after an Islamic attack on a military base on US soil, the largest in US history, that activists who speak the truth about Islam are being shut down and marginalized.

The president of Columbia University's Campus Media Watch posted this:

We are the group that tried to bring Nonie Darwish to speak yesterday . It was very unfortunate that we had our event canceled due to "security risks," and I am still dealing with ways to respond to what happened. Regardless of them shutting down the event, last night I took about 20 students and professors to a restaurant and reserved a private area. Nonie was able to give her speech and we all had amazing intimate conversations with her over dinner.

It is truly sad what is happening on our campus in terms of intimidation from many of the other groups/people, and I hope to combat it in any way possible.

HT: Robert Spencer/Pamela Geller

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A very interesting conversation . . .

Senator Lindsey Graham and Attorney General Eric Holder

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deliberate Barbarism and the Vacuum

Paris, November 14

Paris, November 14

In a reflection which will soon be posted to our website, I quoted a passage from Cardinal Henri de Lubac which I have often cited:
As soon as man ceases to be in contact with great mystical or religious forces, does he not inevitably come under the yoke of a harsher and blinder force, which leads him to perdition? It is what Vico called the age of “deliberate barbarism,” and that is the age in which we live.
Apropos of which, this from D. Q. McInerny: "There is no vacuum which cries louder to be filled than that created by the rejection of the transcendent."

And the quickest, cheapest, and most predictable way of conjuring up a facsimile of transcendence is by way of mob violence.

Is this the future of secularized Europe?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Mark Steyn:
... who needs surveillance operations and intelligence budgets? Major Hasan was entirely upfront about who he was. He put it on his business card: “SOA.” As in “Soldier of Allah” — which seems a tad ungrateful to the American taxpayers who ponied up half a million bucks or thereabouts in elite medical-school education to train him to be a Soldier of Uncle Sam. In a series of meetings during 2008, officials from both Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences considered the question of whether then-captain Hasan was psychotic. But, according to at least one bigwig at Walter Reed, members of the policy committee wondered “How would it look if we kick out one of the few Muslim residents?” So he got promoted to major and shipped to Fort Hood.

And 13 men and women and an unborn baby are dead.

Ezra Levant, my comrade in a long battle to restore freedom of speech to Canada, likes to say that the Danish cartoons crisis may one day be seen as a more critical event than 9/11. Not, obviously, in the comparative death tolls but in what each revealed about the state of Western civilization. After 9/11, we fought back, hit hard, rolled up the Afghan camps; after the cartoons, we weaseled and equivocated and appeased and signaled that we were willing to trade core Western values for a quiet life. Watching the decadence and denial on display this last week, I think in years to come Fort Hood will be seen in a similar light. What happened is not a “tragedy” but a national scandal, already fading from view.
The whole column is here.

The Post-Partisan Healer is at it again.

Fox News reports:

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod suggested Sunday that President Obama will intervene to make sure a controversial amendment restricting federal funding for abortion coverage is stripped from final health care reform legislation.

In doing so, the president would be heeding the call of abortion rights supporters like Planned Parenthood that have called the White House their "strongest weapon" in keeping such restrictions out of the bill.

Ambassador Kmiec, call your office.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just back from Notre Dame

I just returned from "The Summons of Freedom" conference hosted by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. It was, as always, a marvelous gathering of scholars and students. Again as always, it was a welcome opportunity to visit with my fellow presenters, some of them old friends, and to meet many new friends. I am especially grateful for extended conversations I had with my friends Fr. Michael Sweeney, president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, and Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council and others.

It was a rare treat to hear from Alice von Hildebrand and Michael Novak, each an example of how faith can ripen in a long life, endowing a person with a hint of the aura that scripture says surrounded Moses when he came down from his encounter with the Lord. I had a brief chat with Michael Novak and a more extended one with Alice von Hildebrand, and I will treasure the memory of each.

Another highly was meeting Lucy Beckett, a British scholar, novelist, and historian whom I have lately been reading. Like Michael and Alice, she is the incarnation of the truth to which she gave witness. It was an inspiration to be in her presence.

So I return to my desk with great gratitude for the community of faithful and joyful people with whom I shared a few days -- a bit exhausted, but more than a bit inspired.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The smallest and most innocent one counts.

Make that 14:

From United Americans for Life:

There are, of course, many unnamed victims of the attack at Fort Hood. Spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends. Each left to suffer and question why, on American soil, their loved one’s life was violently ended.

But there was another victim that has been frequently overlooked: the unborn child of soldier Francheska Velez. When Hasan took Velez’s life, he took the life of her unborn baby as well.

As the country looks for justice to be served in this horrendous tragedy, we cannot forget that Hasan can and should be charged with the death of Baby Velez as well.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice was modified when President George W. Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UBVV) in 2004. Also known as “Laci and Conner’s Law,” the federal UBVV law applies only to federal crimes and federal jurisdictions, such as military installations. ...

Because the UBVV law was signed in 2004 and is incorporated in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, justice can be sought for Baby Velez.

We can work toward the day when this law is replicated in every state, applicable to non-federal crimes.

The story is here.

A Nice Reminder . . .

Trinitarian Love Incarnate and Crucified

I'm taking part in a conference at Notre Dame for the next two days, and on the flight today I read this in an article by Cardinal Marc Ouellet on the Trinitarian and Christological ethics of Hans Urs von Balthasar. (The quotations are from von Balthasar.)
... a theo-dramatic ethics bears a social dimension of combat for the sake of the deprived and the marginal. "The fight for social justice for the poor and the oppressed is a strict Christian duty, a 'work of mercy' both corporal and spiritual according to which the Christian and every other man will be judged." In order to carry it on according to his Faith, the Christian does not prescribe ready-made recipes; "he must, along with others, struggle to decipher the enigmas of nature and of history." He has at his disposal a certain image of man which orients his own choices, but these have to take account of the resistance of the structures of his world and of their proper laws: "He must not forget their contingency, and, for example, demand total disarmament and non-resistance or pacifism, in virtue of Christian charity and Christian communion, while overlooking all political prudence."
To which Cardinal Ouellet remarks: Christians "are not spared the painful experience of ethical choices, with their perplexities and anxieties." Nevertheless, the Cardinal adds, in the midst of these perplexities and anxieties, the Christian has the supreme and ultimate standard by which to measure his or her ethical behavior, namely, "trinitarian love incarnate and crucified."

Some things never change: Antisemitism

This is a long lecture, but it is well worth hearing.

Professor Barry Rubin - "How the PLO 'Adapted' Antisemitism as 'Anti-Zionism'" from YIISA on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some violence merits outrage.

We live in a troubled world, roiling in violence and resentment. Keeping one's head in the midst of it is essential, but we should not become morally numb. Keeping one's head is only a virtue if it means one's reason and civility have won out over a very legitimate moral outrage. Otherwise it's just keeping one's cool, and there's nothing virtuous about it.

From Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report:
Jake Tapper from ABC News reported that when asked about the motivations of mass murderer Nidal Hasan, President Obama said:
Well, look, we — we have seen, in the past, rampages of this sort. And in a country of 300 million people, there are going to be acts of violence that are inexplicable. Even within the extraordinary military that we have — and I think everybody understands how outstanding the young men and women in uniform are under the most severe stress — there are going to be instances in which an individual cracks. I think the questions that we’re asking now and we don’t have yet complete answers to is, is this an individual who’s acting in this way or is it some larger set of actors? You know, what are the motivations? Those are all questions that I think we have to ask ourselves. Until we have these answers buttoned down, I’d rather not comment on it.
But Obama didn't wait for all the answers to be "buttoned down" when he declared a group of police officers "stupid" for arresting an African-American college professor.

Obama didn't wait until things got "buttoned down" before commenting on the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller. I don't remember Scott Roeder's motivations being inscrutable to the President or to the press for that matter.

In fact, within hours of Tiller's death, Obama released a statement which had drawn conclusions as to the killer's motivations. Obama said:
I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.
The White House even ordered US Marshalls to protect abortion clinics as if Tiller's killer was just the spearhead of a looming rampage by murderous pro-lifers around the country.

On the other hand, do you recall when pro-lifer James Pouillon was killed while holding his pro-life sign. All of a sudden, the media couldn't understand at all what the killer's motivation could be.
Source: Here.

No one risks his life for a question mark.

On this Veterans Day I remember my father, who died when I was months old (and before he had seen his newborn son) in the Battle of the Bulge in January of 1945. He and all those who went to Europe to preserve civilization had no utopian illusions about an eventual paradise on earth, but they had very clear ideas about the difference between civilization and barbarism. In his honor, I offer the following as a wide-angle lens on the issue raised in the post below.

In his treatise De Malo (about evil), Thomas Aquinas says this:
... the artisan does not sin in the fact that he is not always holding the rule in his hand, but in the fact that while not holding the rule in his hand he proceeds to cut the wood.
John Senior quotes this passage in a critique of late-modern liberal education. His remarks have application beyond the very real affliction from which the Western academy -- one of Christianity's greatest contributions to culture -- now suffers.

From the atheist precincts of Buchenwald, the Gulag Archipelago and the dark, satanic mills of the mass-murder of unborn children in the United States, the final solution to Western Civilization is its extermination. In the intellectual sphere this solution has been the dissolution of knowledge into its specialized departments, class discussions and committees, so that the teacher no longer takes his ideal from Aristotle as the master of those who know, but from Hamlet and Descartes, the masters of those who doubt -- who test, experiment and publish and never conclude but essai, whose "truth" is always in quotation marks, for whom the perfect unit of expression is not the sentence but the parenthesis.

Analyze This: Allahu Akbar

"It's unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting," said Chris Matthews.

"Allahu Akbar," screamed Major Hasan as he opened fire on innocent people, killing 13 and crippling many others.

Yes, yes, anyone knows (and must ritually reiterate) that most Muslims are good, decent citizens, etc. etc.

All this goes without saying, but if one doesn't say it at every mention of the Islamic threat one is automatically regarded as morally comparable to a terrorist. Sigh . . .

But the same could have been said about German Americans in the late 1940s. That didn't change what a great many other Germans were doing to Europe and threatening to do to the rest of the world.
“U.S. Homeland Security officials are working with groups around the United States to head off any possible anti-Muslim backlash following the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas.
To which the columnist Mona Charen (here) responded: "Hogwash."
The backlash trope is trotted out after every episode of terrorist violence. But it is as false as it is dangerous. This image of a nation on a hair trigger for violence against Muslims is a calumny. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, though millions were inflamed by grief and outrage, there was no broad-based “backlash” against Muslim Americans. ...

The repeated invocation of this libel has had an effect, though. It has succeeded in intimidating many Americans about the proper bounds of discussion. General Casey reinforces this timidity when he frets that “our diversity” may be a casualty of the attack at Fort Hood. He and the Obama administration are obscuring the real challenge Americans face.

Our challenge is not to transcend the demons of vengeance clawing at our souls. Our challenge is to deal intelligently with a threat that arises from religious convictions. Non-bigoted observers can see that while the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are not extremists, a significant minority are. And it matters what people believe.

We don’t like to pass judgment on others’ religious convictions. That’s fine. But when a religious belief spurs violence and mass murder, it becomes political, and it becomes a proper concern of the military and security services.

Worldwide, Muslims believing themselves to be advancing the faith have committed more than 14,000 acts of violence just since 9/11. You know the litany: Madrid, London, Bali, Jerusalem, Mumbai, Amman. The list is long and bloody — and it includes many innocent Muslims.

Federal agents have thwarted planned terror attacks on Fort Dix, N.J., folded up a terror ring in Lackawanna, N.Y., and uncovered plots against the nation’s financial centers, the World Bank, the Sears Tower, the New York subway system, the Los Angeles airport, the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, ten airliners landing in the U.S. (the liquid-bomb plot), JFK airport, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Prudential Building in Newark, N.J., among others. ...

We have created a climate in which members of the military were afraid to raise questions about the bald and blatant Islamist comments Major Nidal Hassan expressed over many years. He was overheard saying “maybe people should strap bombs on themselves and go to Times Square.” He was caught proselytizing his patients. ... Yet no one raised a red flag. Might be interpreted as anti-Muslim bigotry. And so the military took no action against a man who loudly advertised his extremist sympathies. Thirteen Americans paid for that with their lives.

If any good were to come out of the Fort Hood massacre it would be a new clarity about what we are fighting. Islamism is the enemy. Moderate Muslims are allies in the cause. We should no more shrink from confronting and battling Islamism than we would from any of the “isms” we destroyed in the 20th century.
Many of my friends have decided that charity and concern for victims means being more concerned about the vastly overstated specter of a "backlash" against their co-religionists than about the very real threat to completely innocent people posed by Islamic fanatics.

Andrew McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, has a comment here:
The FBI and the rest of our Islamophilic government have their story, and they’re sticking to it. The terrorists’ siege on our nation has nothing to do with Islam. It is the work of al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda terrorists — so the catechism goes — are not true Muslims. Sure, Osama bin Laden & Co. accurately quote Islamic scriptural injunctions to wage jihad against non-Muslims. But never mind that: Islam is an irenic, unmitigated good; in fact, it is one of our best weapons against terrorism.

Come again? If all the terrorists are Muslims and all the terrorists say scriptures that plainly command killing are inspiring them to kill, how could Islam be an asset? Don’t go spoiling a feel-good theory by asking a lot of questions — that would be almost like an investigation, and when it comes to Islam, the FBI doesn’t do investigation.

If it did, it might stumble onto all sorts of things we’d just as soon not know. We’d have to start acknowledging that Salafist ideology (the strain of Islam endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni terrorist organizations) is prevalent in American mosques. ...

To stop bad things from happening, you have to come to grips with what causes them. We won’t. ... And with Hasan, the biggest challenge was not whether to investigate an infiltrator wearing a neon “Islamist” sign, but how to promote him up the ladder and burnish our diversity cred while intimidating the suspicious into silence.
Sometimes one has to laugh to keep from crying. This is no laughing matter, and I will be labeled an Islamophobe for this link, but maybe a little well aimed humor can bring us to our senses:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Here it comes.

My former congresswoman:
I expect political hardball on any legislation as important as the health care bill.

I just didn’t expect it from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Who elected them to Congress?

The role the bishops played in the pushing the Stupak amendment, which unfairly restricts access for low-income women to insurance coverage for abortions, was more than mere advocacy.

They seemed to dictate the finer points of the amendment, and managed to bully members of Congress to vote for added restrictions on a perfectly legal surgical procedure.

And this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status. When I visit churches in my district, we are very careful to keep everything “non-political” to protect their tax-exempt status.

The IRS is less restrictive about church involvement in efforts to influence legislation than it is about involvement in campaigns and elections.

Given the political behavior of USCCB in this case, maybe it shouldn’t be.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Here is comes.

In an extended reflection I am now preparing, I quote the passage in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land where he parodies the culture's turn away from its Christian roots. In the passage Madam Sosostris ("famous clairvoyante ... with a wicked pack of cards") declares herself unable to find "the Hanged Man" -- the Crucified One.

Among the things I say about this passage is that "the world which turns its back on the Hanged Man will not long remain neutral toward the religion that turns its face toward him."

As I say, here it comes.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jody Bottum of First Things:

Why is the United States doing this? Why are we trying to create a bureaucracy with a $3 trillion price tag, at a time of deep financial trouble? Why are we aiming at governmental management of a huge sector of the American economy at a time when the government is proving itself incompetent to manage the American economy? And why are we giving the culture of Washington new powers of life and death—making ourselves “God’s Partners,” in President Obama’s language—at a time when that culture has proved itself so vague and so deluded about all the issues of life and death that have come before it: war, and embryos, and the unborn, and the weak, and the vulnerable?

That the health-care system in the United States is inequitable seems undeniable. That it is amazingly innovative and robust is also undeniable. The great goal of competent government would be to cure the one and preserve the other. The bill the House of Representatives passed this weekend will do neither.
The whole piece is here.

The Untold Stories of Israel's Martyrs

Sandro Magister has this piece at Chiesa:

For the first time ever, in a book, depictions of the victims of Islamist hatred. Young and old, men and women. Struck down in a bus, at a bar, at the market. Killed solely for the "fault" of being Jewish

ROME, November 9, 2009 – Today Jews all over the world are commemorating their martyrs of the "Night of Broken Glass," the victims of the Nazi pogrom on the night of November 9-10, 1938, in Germany.

There is universal, mournful observance of that massacre and of the tremendous extermination of Jews by the Reich that came after it.

But the same is not done, in Europe and the West, for the many other Jewish victims who for years have been killed in Israel, assailed by Islamic terrorism.

Every time one of them is killed, it is covered in the news and then immediately ignored. The victim ends up buried in the vagueness of the "Palestinian question," viewed by many as Israel's "fault."

Meanwhile, one out of every three hundred Israeli families has been directly affected by an attack. The terrorist actions number in the thousands. More than 150 suicide attacks have been carried out, and for each of these the Israeli police estimate that they have prevented nine more. 1,723 people have been killed to date, 378 of them women. More than ten thousand have been injured.

The indifference of the West and of Christians in the face of this steady stream of victims, struck systematically in the midst of their daily routine, on the buses, in the cafes, in the markets, at home, now has a response in a book that recounts their stories for the first time. It finally tells us who they are.

The book was published a month ago in Italy, and translations will soon be published in New York and London. Its title is "Non smetteremo di danzare [We will not stop dancing]." And the subtitle: "Le storie mai raccontate dei martiri di Israele [The untold stories of Israel's martyrs]."

The author, Giulio Meotti, is already known to the readers of www.chiesa for two in-depth reports that have received extensive attention: on the most Islamified city in Europe, Rotterdam, and on the "Hilltop Youth," the latest generation of Israeli settlers.

His most recent book opens with a preface by English philosopher Roger Scruton, and with a letter by Robert Redeker, the French writer who has been living in a secret location since he began receiving death threats from Islamist fanatics.
Magister has an extract from the first chapter here.

Another Anniversary . . . Kristallnacht

Berlin Synagogue
Kristallnacht: November 9, 1938

Jewish Shop
Kristallnacht: November 9, 1938

Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall fell and millions were liberated from communist tyranny. But today is another anniversary: Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Nazi slaughter of European Jews. Here are the first paragraphs of Rober Wistrich's article about it in the Brussels Journal:

On November 9, 1938, a massive nation-wide anti-Jewish pogrom took place during peacetime across the entire territory of the Third Reich. The pretext for this orgy of violence against German Jews was the shooting in Paris two days earlier of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish-Jewish refugee. The state-organized pogrom, instigated by Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, resulted in the burning or damaging of more than a thousand synagogues; the ransacking of about 7,500 businesses, the murder of at least 91 Jews, and the deportation of another 30,000 Jewish males to concentration camps in Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. This murderous onslaught against German Jewry, cynically described by the Nazis as the “Night of Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht), was a major turning point on the road to the “Final Solution” of the so-called “Jewish Question.” It signified that the Nazi regime had crossed a Rubicon and would no longer be deterred by Western public opinion in its “war against the Jews.” The economic expropriation of German Jewry, its complete social ostracism and public humiliation swiftly followed. Jews were banned from public transport, from frequenting concerts, theaters, cinemas, commercial centers, beaches, or using public benches. Only a fortnight after “Crystal Night,” the SS journal, Das Schwarze Korps, chillingly prophesied the final end of German Jewry through “fire and sword” and its imminent complete annihilation.

Today the specter of such apocalyptic anti-Semitism has returned to haunt Europe and other continents, while often assuming radically new forms. In the Middle East, it has taken on a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred, closely linked to the “mission” of holy war or jihad against the West and the Jews.

Islamist anti-Semitism is thoroughly soaked in many of the most inflammatory themes that initially made possible the atrocities of “Crystal Night” and its horrific aftermath during the Holocaust -- for example, the pervasive use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion with its perennial theme of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination;” or the medieval blood-libel imported to the Muslim world from Christian Europe; or the vile stereotypical image of the Jews as a treacherous, rapacious, and bloodthirsty people engaged in a ceaseless plotting to undermine the world of Islam. To these grotesque inventions one must add such more up-to-date libels as Holocaust denial which has become a state-sponsored project in Ahmadinejad’s Iran and is increasingly pervasive in the Arab world.

The whole piece is here.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The obstacles ahead . . .

An update from Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life:
The pro-life Democrats and Republicans took a stand for the sanctity of life by passing the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment on a vote of 240 to 194. This amendment prohibits the use of federal dollars to fund abortion in health care.

This victory is a step toward a future where both political parties defend Life.

But one victory does not mean the battle is won.

Yesterday’s rhetoric from the Democratic leadership indicates an intention to subvert the bipartisan pro-life majority. We are deeply concerned that Democratic leadership intends to undermine this victory that reflects the will of an overwhelming majority of Americans.

The battle will move quickly over to the Senate. We all have to take a deep breath and refocus our efforts toward watching the final language of the Senate bill to ensure that pro-life protections remain in the final health care bill.

While we applaud the passage of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, serious concerns about H.R. 3962 remain. The Rules Committee did not permit amendments to address concerns about conscience protection, the use of comparative effectiveness research and end of life provisions.
More here.

What the Wall Stree Journal called: "the worst bill ever."

I must say I agree completely.

Hat tip: Athos

Sunday Morning Thoughts . . . on Church

A human subject, inasmuch as he becomes a theological person by a unique call and mission, is simultaneously deprivatized, socialized, and made the location and the bearer of community. -- Hans Urs von Balthasar
In his Theo-Drama (Vol. II), von Balthasar writes: "Human community and the immediate relation of each individual to God are inseparable from each other."

Which Cardinal Marc Ouellet succinctly sums up in a paper on von Balthasar's Christian ethics, where he writes that von Balthasar "advances beyond the Protestant individualism of justification by faith and the Catholic individualism of merit by recovering the essential implication of community in the occurrence of grace."

Which reminds me of a summary of my own: One cannot know God fully without knowing Christ. (Even though some who do not know Christ may well know God better than some who do, they cannot know God fully without knowing Christ, and -- more to the point -- him crucified.) And one cannot know Christ fully without the Church. (Though, again, some who stand outside the Church may well know Christ better than some of its members; nonetheless, one cannot know Christ fully without the Church.)

Just some Sunday morning thoughts, for what they're worth.

This just in . . . so to speak

By the power invested in me as the president of the Cornerstone Forum (a minuscule power, let me assure you), I hereby announce a new Cornerstone Forum catechetical principle. It is, wonder of wonders, from Hans Urs von Balthasar:

Grateful Astonishment Refutes Barren Ruminating.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Uphill on the HIll

From Americans United for Life:

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) stated on the House floor that all three Chairmen of the Committees of jurisdiction, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee George Miller (D-CA), and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Charlie Rangel (D-NY) refused to offer assurances that they would support the House passed language that includes the Stupak-Pitts amendment during the House and Senate conference. Boehner urged Members considering a “yes” vote on final passage if the Stupak-Pitts amendment were passed, to reconsider their support in light of the Chairmens’ efforts to undermine the Stupak-Pitts agreement during conference.

What's worse than worst?

My friend Jill Fallon has a good roundup about what the Wall Street Journal calls "the worst bill ever" -- the Heath Care bill being debated at this moment in the House.
Jill's post is here.

Finding Candor Whevever It Can Be Found

Mark Steyn:
In the New York Times, Maria Newman touched on Hasan’s faith only obliquely: “He was single, according to the records, and he listed no religious preference.” Thank goodness for that, eh? A neighbor in Texas says the major had “Allah” and “another word” pinned up in Arabic on his door. “Akbar” maybe? On Thursday morning he is said to have passed out copies of the Koran to his neighbors. He shouted in Arabic as he fired. But don’t worry: As the FBI spokesman assured us in nothing flat, there’s no terrorism angle.

That’s true, in a very narrow sense: Major Hasan is not a card-carrying member of the Texas branch of al-Qaeda reporting to a control officer in Yemen or Waziristan. If he were, things would be a lot easier. But the pathologies that drive al-Qaeda beat within Major Hasan too, and in the end his Islamic impulses trumped his expensive Western education, his psychiatric training, his military discipline — his entire American identity. One might say the same about Faleh Hassan Almaleki of Glendale, Ariz., arrested last week after fatally running over his “too Westernized” daughter Noor in the latest American honor killing. Or the two U.S. residents — one American, one Canadian — arrested a few days earlier for plotting to fly to Denmark for the purposes of murdering the editor who commissioned the famous Mohammed cartoons. But Noor Almaleki’s brother shrugs that’s just the way it is. “One thing to one culture doesn’t make sense to another culture,” he says.

Indeed. To infidels, Islam is in a certain sense unknowable, and most of us are content to leave it at that. The vast majority of Muslims don’t conspire to kill cartoonists or murder their daughters or shoot dozens of their fellow soldiers. But Islam inspires enough of this behavior to make it a legitimate topic of analysis. Don’t hold your breath. We’d rather talk about anything else — even in the Army.
Here's what is so distressing: Robert Spencer is unquestionably one of the West's preeminent experts on the Qur'an and the history of Islam. Like many of us, his frustration at the refusal of officialdom and the mainstream media to deal honestly with the issue of Islamic fanaticism is palpable. It is never, as far as I know, shrill. But when someone yells "fire," before we object to the alarmist tone we should check to see if there's actually something burning.

Anyway, what frustrates me today is that the only link to Robert Spencer's comment below -- which, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, should unquestionably be part of the public conversation -- as I say, the only link to Spencer is from the radio program of Michael Savage. I have never listened to Savage, but I suspect he would be tarred with the brush of right-wingism and therefore ignored. The problem -- my frustration -- is that these days one can only find intelligent remarks such as those Spencer makes in this audio on outlets like Savage's.

I long for the day when one could find them on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, and . . . wan hope indeed, MSNBC. Until that happy day arrives, we have to find honesty and candor where it can be found.