Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plugging in "facts" to fit the narrative . . .

One can hardly be more disgusted than I am by the crimes of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, but it is passing strange when the politically correct press overlooks the most salient feature of that abuse, ignoring both its predominantly homosexual nature and the high percentage of the abuse being that of teenage boys. But these realities complicate the narrative, as does the fact that the present pope has done more to rectify the situation that gave rise to the abuse than any other person alive.

But that's just the beginning of the irony. William Kilpatrick has an article on the curious (or is it predictable) asymmetry of the pompom media's boiler-plate clergy sexual abuse narrative.
In the war against jihad it might seem that President Obama’s plan to remove all discussion of Islam and jihad from our national security document would rank higher as a threat to Western security than recent attempts to link the pope to 40 year-old sex crimes in Milwaukee. But the perfect storm that has hit the Catholic Church may turn out to be of greater consequence for the West’s survival. For that reason it’s important to sort out how much of the current indignation toward Rome represents justified anger, and how much of it represents a larger anti-Christian agenda. . . .

There is much to suggest that media criticism of the Church is fueled less by outrage over pedophilia, and more by another agenda.  There wasn’t much outrage over Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13 year-old girl a number of years ago.  When attempts were made last year to bring Polanski back to the U.S. to serve his sentence, many of the same cultural elites who are now condemning the Church, leapt to his defense.  Likewise, there has never been much media outrage over the apparent crimes of celebrated sex researcher Alfred Kinsey.  The media continued to lionize Kinsey long after it was revealed that he had collaborated with pedophiles in order to gather data.  “What did Kinsey know and when did he know it?” has never been a pressing question for CNN or The New York Times. ...

Though sexual abuse remains a problem in the Catholic Church, enormous strides have been made in rooting it out, due in large part to a crackdown that originated with Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001.  So, the venomous attacks on him and the church he represents, suggest that something else is afoot.  When a major Canadian newspaper features a piece claiming that the pope’s “whole career has the stench of evil,” it’s time to reach for the decoding machine.  That particular quote comes from Christopher Hitchens, who has made a career in recent years of questioning the legitimacy, not just of Catholicism, but of Christianity, itself.  Hitchens aside, there is plenty of other evidence that Catholics are not the only ones being targeted for de-legitimization.  In Canada and in Europe, Christian pastors have been fined or jailed for expressing their beliefs from the pulpit.  In Birmingham, England, Christian evangelists were warned by police that distributing gospel leaflets in a Muslim section would be considered a hate crime.  A survey of history textbooks for American schoolchildren reveals that they present Christianity as a purveyor of bigotry and violence.  On college campuses, Christian clubs are routinely banned.  Meanwhile, Christianity is often the butt of vulgar comedy routines, and of crude cartoons that make the infamous Muhammad cartoon look benign by comparison.

There is, of course, a major exemption from media condemnation of child abuse.  It appears that the abuse of children is much more acceptable to the opinion-makers when it is protected by the shield of multiculturalism.  The media has been much less willing to criticize the widespread child abuse that occurs in Islamic cultures, or to note that, in the case of Islam, the abuse is religiously sanctioned.  For example, although one can find plenty of criticism of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s political views, rarely does one see a condemnation of his views on sex.  The one-time spiritual leader of Iran not only endorsed sex with children in his writings, but he also took to himself a 13 year-old bride.

Here we come to the world-historical turning point of which the frenzied assaults on the Catholic Church are only a part.  The drive to undermine the Church’s moral authority, and the threat posed by Islam are linked in an ironic way.  For many centuries the Catholic faith was the main bulwark against the Islamization of Europe.  Now that Christianity is in decline in Europe, Islam is on the move again.  And with the growing presence of Islam has come an increase in child abuse—or what the West considers as child abuse.  The sexual exploitation of children is considered a far less serious offense in Islamic societies, and is often protected by the force of sharia law.  Muhammad, who consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was nine years-old, is considered by all Muslim authorities to have provided a “beautiful pattern of conduct.”  That’s why, whenever a Muslim country tries to ban child marriages (as recently happened in Yemen), you can be sure that the imams will rise up to insist on their right to marry minors.
Kilpatrick's whole article is here.

For those still holding out hope for the UN

Here's the latest. From Anne Bayefsky at Fox News:
The United Nations Economic and Social Council yesterday elected Iran to serve a four-year term -- beginning in 2011 -- on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The U.N. calls the Commission “the principal global policy-making body” on women’s rights and claims it is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.” Yet Iran was elected by acclamation. It was one of only two candidates for two slots allocated to the Asian regional bloc – in other words, a fixed slate and a done deal.

Among other Iranian qualifications to serve in a leadership role in advancing the rights of women, is the country’s criminal code, which includes punishments like burying women from the waist down and stoning them to death for adultery.

Great Weblog Title

Following up on the earlier post below, here's a great blog post title by Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report:

ULTRASOUNDS ARE THE ROSA PARKS OF ABORTION

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Op-Ed Journalism at Its Best

The following is one of the finest pieces of op-ed journalism I have read in a long time. I have copied it in its entirety from The American Spectator posting, here.
Jon Stewart Flunks His Spartacus Test

by Jeffrey Lord

April 27, 2010 -- The American Spectator

"I am Spartacus."

It is one of the iconic lines from an iconic film.

Remember Spartacus? The 1960 Stanley Kubrick film based on a Howard Fast novel about a slave rebellion back in the glory days of Rome? Kirk Douglas -- father of Michael -- played the heroic slave leader Spartacus, his good friend Antonius played by Tony Curtis. In the signal moment from the film (said to be a slap at McCarthyism by the film's blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo), re-captured slaves, back in chains, are offered leniency. They will not face crucifixion if they will but give up Spartacus, who sits in their midst unrecognizable to the Romans. Waiting for the answer is Spartacus's foe, the Roman General Crassus, played by Laurence Olivier. After a moment of silence, as Spartacus is about to give himself up to be crucified, one by one the slaves stand and announce "I am Spartacus!" -- signaling their willingness to share their compatriot's fate. The scene epitomizes courage, a willingness to take a stand when the all-too-easy thing to do would be to simply say nothing and get off the hook.

One of the grim facts of war is that one never knows where and when these moments will present themselves. The question always is: when presented with this moment, what would you do?

Most probably, you will never know until the moment arrives.

The passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 were presented with just such a moment on the opening day of this war. One minute they were average Americans flying peacefully from Newark to San Francisco on a beautiful late summer day. The next they found themselves shockingly confronted with their Spartacus moment. Four hijackers had taken over their plane during what the Americans quickly learned from family cell phone calls was an all out attack on their country. The World Trade Center towers were in flames, soon to collapse. The Pentagon had just had a jet ram into it. The plane they were on -- United 93 -- was clearly headed back East to Washington -- on target to destroy either the White House or the U.S. Capitol.

The fact that the story is history now doesn't make it any easier to recall. The passengers, doubtless scared witless, decided to rebel. They would not be passive participants in the destruction of their country. One by one they stood up and said, in effect, "I am Spartacus." Or, in the words of passenger Todd Beamer, "Let's roll." A horrific struggle raged, the plane went down in a farmer's field in Pennsylvania. Every single passenger and hijacker died. The White House and the United States Capitol, not to mention an unimagined number of lives on the ground, were spared.

"I am Spartacus," these people were saying to the rest of us. "I am Spartacus."

Comes now the tale of South Park, the irreverent, edgy and sometime (sometime??) offensive cartoon created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The show is a staple of Comedy Central, where it regularly spends its air time, in the words of the New York Post, ridiculing "every sacred convention in the book, from major religions and celebrities to gays and the physically disabled." Which is to say, making full use of the First Amendment right to free expression.

As all of America now knows, Parker and Stone decided to do their thing with Islam and Mohammed, having their characters trying to decide how to portray Mohammed without, well, actually showing him. Which, of course, is forbidden in Islam. This being a comedy show, The Prophet finally shows up in a bear costume.

And in the blink of an eye, a Spartacus moment began to evolve. Again according to the Post, "a New York-based Web site, Revolution Muslim…'warned' Parker and Stone they would end up like Theo Van Gogh -- the Dutch filmmaker killed in 2004 by an Islamic terrorist after he made a film dealing with abuse of Muslim women." 

Threatened now, Parker and Stone refused to back down. They prepared a response, inserted as part of the storyline in their next South Park episode. Kyle, the one Jewish kid in the mix (and modeled after co-creator Stone), was to have delivered a 35-second speech at show's end warning of "fear and intimidation." There was to be no mention of Mohammed.

And Comedy Central -- Cowardly Central as the Post promptly dubbed the network -- bleeped Kyle's little talk out completely. Parker and Stone have a statement on their website, found here.

Which brings us to Jon Stewart.

He the Braveheart who has dared to battle -- yes! Can you believe it!!!??? -- Fox News! Stewart is so daring, don't you know, so gutsy, so edgy he actually uses -- OMG! -- the F-bomb on the air! Wow! What a guy! How 1969! The New York Times, unsurprisingly quick to adore this kind of faux courage, responded with an adoring profile, calling this David of the Liberal Media "relentless" as he swings away at the Goliath Fox. Ooooooooo…look! He took on…Bernard Goldberg! Sarah Palin! What a guy! Dust off the next Profile in Courage Award, Caroline!

Then, out of the blue, Jon Stewart found himself in a situation that demanded not the faux courage to take on Fox News. This time, not unlike the passengers of United Flight 93, Stewart suddenly found himself staring his own Spartacus moment in the face. The real thing.
His response?

"It's their right," he said of Comedy Central in a verbal shrug of indifference. "We all serve at their pleasure." In a monologue punctuated by yuks, he defended the network by saying, "The censorship was a decision Comedy Central made, I think as a way to protect our employees from what they believe was any harmful repercussions to them….but again they sign the checks."

They sign the checks.

Now there's a Spartacus moment. "Hey, Spartacus babe, we luv ya, big guy. What a ride that revolt thing, huh? Listen, Sparky, I can't hang up on some cross somewhere. I'm doing the lion-in-the-arena thing next Friday. They tell me the place is sold out. So, well, you're sweet. Really. But General Crassus over there signs the checks, capiche? And, hey, we gotta protect our guys, right? Ahhh, General Crassus? Spartacus is the guy with the dimple-in-the-chin thing going. Front row center."

This Stewart response -- not to mention the response from the Comedy Central suits themselves -- is an unintentional snapshot into the mind of American liberalism. What to do about people who have committed mass murder in places like New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Madrid, London, Bali, Baghdad, Mumbai, and Kabul -- and that only for starters while they figure out how to get their hands on a nuclear bomb or biological and chemical weapons?

Just look sternly into the camera, wring your hands, and say to these misguided people what Jon Stewart said to Revolution Muslim: "Your type of hatred and intolerance -- that's the enemy."

Take that Al Qaeda!

This is really quite remarkable, if in its own way quite predictable. Jon Stewart is by all accounts a nice guy, a talented guy, a smart guy. He has used The Daily Show to successfully carve out a niche as what his occasional Fox sparring partner Bill O'Reilly calls "a cornerstone of the liberal media in America." God bless America and Stewart's freedom.

Yet precisely because Stewart is viewed as the Lion of the Liberal Media, his wimpy response to an actual threat from a group presenting itself as just one more face of Islamic terror serves as a reminder of exactly why so many millions of Americans have come to mistrust President Obama or in fact any liberal when it comes to responding to America's enemies. After all the touchy-feely Obama outreach to Iran -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just continues to build his nuclear bombs anyway. Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry travel to Syria to make nice -- but long range Scud missiles will go to Hezbollah anyway. And so on. Electing Obama was presented as the change that would make precisely this kind of threat to South Park go away. Oops.

There is nothing new here, really. Same thin soup, different bowl. Neville Chamberlain hosts The Daily Show.

The problem is that instead of American national security or that of the West, we are talking about a slightly different issue yet one still vitally connected to the larger whole.

American and Western culture -- the good, the bad and the ugly of it over a few thousand centuries, from Plato to Parker and Shakespeare to Stone -- can thrive only in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom. That freedom, as has been made abundantly clear since 9/11, is under full scale assault.

Whether it's planes being rammed into buildings in the heart of the world's financial center or the latest move in Somalia to ban music, intellectual freedom is under attack. The attackers may be organized, they may be unorganized. They may have billions at their disposal, they may have a box cutter. But make no mistake, they are obsessed with the same thing -- achieving victory over the West and all it represents whatever the cost and however long it takes.

They do not care about the safety and security of Trey Parker and Matt Stone or Jon Stewart or Comedy Central or Fox or MSNBC or the best Jewish deli in Manhattan or the next cover girl for Sports Illustrated or any other production of Western culture. The objective is to kill the target of the moment -- and oh by the way, wipe out the rest of us too. No tactic is too small, no weapon big enough.

Which is why the fact that someone as smart as Jon Stewart closes his eyes hoping his sudden Spartacus moment will just somehow go away is disturbing.

This isn't going away. This is real. It has appeared countless times in human history, and it has reared its head once more. This time at Comedy Central, as unlikely as it might seem.
Where the response was exactly the timelessly wrong answer.

The right answer is never to pretend that if you somehow were transported back in time, say to a house in Amsterdam in August of 1944 and the German Grüne Polizei were pounding at your door, you could get away with saying: "Hi. Fox News can %$#@@ themselves. You guys sign the checks. Seig Heil. Ann Frank is upstairs, third door to the right, the room behind the bookcase."

The right answer would be, the right answer is always: I am Ann Frank.

I am Spartacus.

I am Trey Parker. I am Matt Stone.

I am Jon Stewart. And I quit.
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author.

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words

Oklahoma Governor's Abortion Veto Overridden

This was the photo and accompanying headline on this morning's CNN website. I know from recent experience -- both my daughter and daughter-in-law are pregnant and have treasured photos of their new babies' ultrasound photos -- that not only is science on the side of the pro-life position, but so is ultrasound technology. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this CNN photo tells us an important part of the story about the shift in public opinion toward a pro-life ethic. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hadley Arkes

Hadley Arkes
It is with great joy that I learned today that Hadley Arkes has been received into the Catholic Church. All the more memorable is this blessed event inasmuch as it occurred in the beautiful chapel of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, DC, where I lectured during the Emmaus Road Initiative series. I can think of no more appropriate place for this courageous and life-loving man to be received into the Mother Church, surrounded as he was by many of those with whom he has worked so tireless for so long in the pro-life movement.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Let down your nets into the internet.

Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.
Facing the Reality of an Inter-faced World

"Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication".

A Reckless Wreck . . .

For which our childrens' children will be picking up the tab . . .



All this and tax-payer funding of abortion as well.

Nothing short of repeal will repair the damage.

The New Yorker . . .

... sentence of the month. Nay, year." He's bound to win.
From an April 26, 2010, New Yorker piece, "A Canterbury Tale"—with the subtitle, "The battle within the Church of England to allow women to be bishops"— penned by Jane Kramer (who has emoted for the magazine for nearly fifty years), this gut-splitting bit of rhetorical sputtering:
Rowan Williams, a theologian of huge distinction and, perhaps because of this, almost paralytic reticence, has been trying to broker a peace between his warring priests while Pope Benedict XVI, in Rome, a theologian of less distinction but far steelier entitlement, has seized the chance to publicly invite Anglican clergymen, single and married, and their parishes into the sheltering misogyny of the magisterium.
Be still, and know that she is venting...
Rowan Williams, his extraordinary inability to resist the glamorous appeal of the spirit of the age notwithstanding, has been and probably in many ways still is a respectable theologian. (It's his ecclesiology that is deficient.) But the idea that he is Joseph Ratzinger's theological superior is absurd, but probably no more absurd than the other howlers in Jane Kramer's sentence.

Congratulations to Carl; the prize is his, or does he have to share it with Ms. Kramer?

Friday, April 23, 2010

P.S. to Ontario story below

A quick follow-up on the post below, from LifeSiteNews:
After intense criticism in recent days, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced this afternoon that he has decided to delay implementing the government's controversial and explicit new elementary sex ed curriculum.
Congratulations to those who voiced "intense criticism."

As for the continuing assault by the state on the responsibility of the mother and father for the moral education of their child. Here's a typically complex but richly insightful passage from Philip Rieff:
We are in the age of pseudo-sensibility, not least because our moral revolutionaries are bound, according to their own implicit theories, only to amoral forms. Pseudo-sensibility is easily comprehended; it is the modern talent for acting out the condition of being deeply touched -- hurt and/or healed -- when in fact nothing can touch the actor deeply; he is continually retraining his sensibility from the outside in, for every moral form is a form of inwardness. The pseudo-sensibility of the modern moral revolutionary, based as it must be on amoral forms, constitutes what used to be called "hypocrisy," raised to the status of a science of self and other.
Moral revolutionaries in a transgressive mode: All the drama of a moral struggle in service to the principle that all moral codes subserve individual "choice" and must not constrain it in any way.  Moral posturing in the service of an amoral -- which is to say, doomed -- social order. Push-back in Ontario is most welcome.

Patriotism ... a sign of decency and gratitude

In G. K. Chesterton's day, Catholics in England were suspected of being beholden to foreign influence and inadequately patriotic. Chesterton was himself quite patriotic, which he defended as a natural virtue which was -- he insisted -- not a denial of universal Christian brotherhood -- but rather its natural analogue.
[The Christian] religious culture does indeed encourage [the Christian] to fight to the last for his country, as for his family. But that is because the religious culture is generous and imaginative and humane and knows that men must have intimate and individual ties. But those secondary loyalties are secondary in time and logic to the law of universal morality which justifies them.
Note: Chesterton appeals -- not to universal fellow-feeling (which simply does not exist, any more than a mother or father can credibly claim to love other children as passionately as their own). Rather Chesterton appeals to universal morality, which -- until postmodern relativism came along -- did exist and continues to exist in reality, if not in the sentimentalized imaginations of contemporary "citizens of the world."

As for the virtue of patriotism, Chesterton writes "I have always done my best to defend it, though I have sometimes become suspect by sympathizing with other people's patriotism besides my own."
But I cannot see how it can be defended except as part of a larger morality; and the Catholic morality happens to be one of the very few large moralities now ready to defend it.
Again, what Chesterton calls the "human unity anterior to all these healthy and natural divisions" is rooted in a moral truth, not in some seamlessly uniform affection for "humanity." Eliminate that moral truth by, for instance, refusing to acknowledge the existence of human nature deserving of inalienable dignity, and all the solemn and pious invocations of devotion to "humanity" or, God save us, "the planet," etc. will lead further and further into an abyss of lovelessness masquerading as lofty principle.

Capturing the essence of what Philip Rieff calls the transgressive nature of contemporary cultural life and its deleterious effects on comity and a sense of shared principles, Chesterton offers this:
Religion is of the heart, not of the head; and as long as all our hearts are full of hatred for everything that our fathers loved, we can go on flatly contradicting each other for ever about what there is to be hated.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What'll it be? Math or Masturbation?

Well, "we live in a culture that is saturated with sexual imagery," so the obvious answer is: masturbation. After all, we have calculators that will do the math.

Our schools fail to teach our children reliable history or literature, math, science, or the basics of English grammar and usage, but our educational mandarins are tireless in their determination to teach the (very) young, not only about the "birds and the bees," but about masturbation and "oral and anal sex." Canada isn't far ahead of us, and, with "Safe-School Czars" like Kevin Jennings they won't be ahead for long. But here's a glimpse of where most of the country is headed and where much of California and Massachusetts and other states are already.

It's Ontario's new sex-education curriculum:
The revised curriculum, which will be implemented in Ontario schools beginning in the fall, will see Grade 3 students being taught about gender identity and sexual orientation. This is the first time this topic has been specified in the sex education curriculum.

Students in Grade 6 will learn about masturbation and wet dreams while those in Grade 7 will be taught about oral and anal sex.
I am trying to resist the impulse to plunge ever more fully into a synthesis of René Girard, Philip Rieff, and others, but stories like this don't help. Rieff's complex understanding of the fundamentally transgressive nature of our cooingly therapeutic -- that is, anti-credal* -- culture cries out for greater explication in light of lunacies such as we see today: the state assuming the role of parent and teaching -- not a moral discipline upon which a meaningful and genuinely expansive life depends -- but the transgressive imperatives bequeathed to us by Nietzsche, Freud, Marx and their countless reflexive and small-minded epigones now running the state's educational establishment.  *(Rieff's terms italicized)

The public, and especially parents, one hopes are finally growing weary of the attempt to pass off this indoctrination as enlightened science or preventative medicine. How perfunctory and hollow those familiar trope are today.
Alex McKay with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada said although the teachings seem controversial, the move only puts Ontario in line with sex education curricula from other provinces.

"It is developmentally appropriate for students in Grade 3 to have an awareness that not all people are heterosexual," he said. Before any type of education takes place in the schools, many kids are going to be walking through the doors with that awareness anyway. The curriculum is appropriate and knowledge is preferable to ignorance."

Mr. McKay said this new outline for teachers is based on "sound scientific education methods."

"The issue is that we live in a culture that is saturated with sexual imagery and that it is more important than ever that young people have a solid foundation of basic knowledge about human development and sexuality, and that this curriculum helps to deliver that," he said. "It would be compromising the health and well-being of our youth if we shy away from providing this important information and skill set."
Think about that: "compromising the health and well-being of our youth." The statistics on the pathologies and dangers of a homosexual lifestyle are staggering and irrefutable, but we justify the mainstreaming that lifestyle as the promotion of "health and well-being."

Many in the educational establishment have begun to downplay the old refrain about parents getting involved in the process, but the time for that involvement is now.

The video I posted earlier bears viewing in this light. As I said, if this issue gets traction, it will make the Tea Party movement seem like a sleeper.


 

Wafa Sultan Clashes with Muslim Cleric

Speaking Truth to Power . . .



Thanks to my friend Susan Dane for the tip.

That didn't take long . . .

The response was swift and effective. The headline in The New York Times story:

‘South Park’ Episode Is Altered After Muslim Group’s Warning

South Park 
On Thursday afternoon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone released the following statement:
In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.
If this were a decision based on the principle of treating all religious traditions with equal respect, it would be less contemptible, despite the asymmetrical evidence that one religious tradition is currently lending legitimacy to violence in every corner of the world. But no one in his right mind imagines that this decision is based on any such principle. Very obviously it is based on intimidation. One religious tradition is being given protections that the others -- most notably the tradition that gave birth to religious tolerance and religious freedom in the first place -- are not.

Tariq Ramadan, call your office . . .

The Religion of Peace.
By their works you will know them.

Afghanistan: Girls inhale 'poison' at Kunduz school
Kabul, 21 April (AKI) - At least 12 female students were hospitalised in Afghanistan on Wednesday after inhaling a poisonous substance sprayed at a school in northern Afghanistan.

The 12 students of the Fatima Zahra Girl School, and a teacher and an assistant were mysteriously poisoned, Hamayon Khamush, director of the hospital in Kunduz city, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

The Taliban's strict form of fundamentalist Islam prohibits girls from attending school.

To defend their ideology, Taliban militants have attacked girl students with gas and acid.

In May last year 90 girls were hospitalised in Kapisa province, north-east of the capital, after someone sprayed toxic chemicals in the classroom.

A similar gas attack reportedly took place on Tuesday in Shina, a suburb of Kabul, where over a dozen girl students had to be sent to hospital after exhibiting symptoms of poisoning.

The (not so) Dismal Science

The dismal science needn't be so dismal. For those who have neglected it, here's a refresher. Once again, Hillsdale College behaves the way the university should. Agree or disagree, this lecture may be long, but it is not only informative, but it is entertaining. Here's Professor Burton W. Folson, Jr. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time.


Turkish Delight
The European Welfare State
The estimable Theodore Dalrymple has an article in the New English Review very much worth reading. It is his reflections on his recent extended visit to two decaying steel towns in Britain. As we have come to expect, in both he found signs aplenty -- not only of economic collapse -- but of profound moral and cultural decay. I link to his article because I think what he saw represents the future for the aging and culturally exhausted remnants of Western Civilization -- very much eventually including the American outpost of that civilization -- if we follow the present European path which has led to precisely what Dalrymple found in Northern England and Wales.
The ex-steel town in Northern England had been selected by the government, or by some department thereof, as a place of settlement for asylum-seeking refugees, mainly Kurds from Iran and Iraq. These young men – they were overwhelmingly young men – had made their way across dangerous and hostile territory, often by very chancy means, to reach Britain. I know from experience of talking to them that it is not easy to arrive at an estimate of their true motives for coming: but whatever those motives might be, their initiative and willingness to take risks can scarcely be doubted. If allowed to be, they could be an asset to the country that received them.

Instead of which the official policy was to turn them as quickly as possible into welfare dependants. Unable either to prevent them from coming or to deport them once they have arrived, British officialdom in its wisdom has decided to prohibit them from working, and to enforce this prohibition it has selected places like this ex-steel town, where unemployment is near-universal, as their enforced place of residence. So there they congregate, quickly turned from adventurous and eager young men into dispirited idlers, mere habitues of billiard halls and consumers of pornography on the public library’s computers (or as near to pornography as library’s system would permit): that is, when the most enterprising among them they did not become traffickers in something or other.

In both towns, the only economic activity is the administration of poverty and the recycling of government subventions, usually through supermarkets and charity (thrift) shops. Even the charity shops are in effect governmental because most of the larger charities in Britain have been nationalised, their most important donors now being the government. I enter these shops – the Germans have a saying that never fails to come to mind as I do so, namely ‘It smells of poor people here’ – because they always have a few books for resale, overwhelmingly the trashiest of trashy novels, but usually (and unaccountably) with an academic tome among them at a knockdown price, for example Herbert S Klein’s African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean.

If anyone doubts the existence or reality of a dependency culture, he should visit one of these two towns. They are East European communist towns with a bit more consumer choice, but not much the better for that, and in some respects worse, in so far as there is less intellectual ferment in them.

The people do not walk so much as trudge, plastic bags hanging from them like heavy fruit. They are grey-faced, bowed-down, prematurely aged, arthritic before their time. An astonishing proportion of them need (or at any rate use) walking sticks from their thirties onwards. Many of them are enormously fat, and one can imagine them completely immobile by the age of sixty. The small children – overwhelmingly illegitimate, of course, for more than half of children born in Britain are now illegitimate, and the poorer the area (except for Indian and Pakistani immigrants) the higher the proportion – are devoid of the sweetness of young childhood, instead having a fixed look of malice on their faces by the age of three. Ferret-faced young men, attired in international ghetto costume, often with a hood, stand around talking to one another, at least a third of their words being ‘fuck’ or one of its cognates. The young women are all highly sexualised without being in the least alluring. Their fate is to have children by more than one of the ferret-faced young men.

Hopelessness, indifference, apathy is everywhere, omnipresent like the gases of the atmosphere. No Indian or African slum has ever affected men in the same way: this is far, far worse. Energy is dissipated before it is expended, as if by some kind of magnetism. The people are not starving – if anything, the problem is the reverse – nor are they living in physically intolerable housing conditions, though their houses are depressingly ugly. That so many are festooned with satellite dishes is a bad sign: where satellite dishes are many and prominent, the people are bored and listless. Litter lies everywhere and many people do not clear it even from their own front yards, preferring to wade their way through it to their front doors. . . .

The situation is this: the people, for the most part, are not well-educated and they have no skills. The next generation will not be well-educated either, because the state educational system steadfastly refuses to teach. But unskilled labour in factories is unavailable and will never be available again, at least not without protectionism that would wreck the world economy as a whole.


Thanks to the subventions they receive, and no doubt to the loss of the work ethic or habit, their labour is unlikely ever to be worth as much to an employer as he would have to pay them to make it worthwhile for them to go to work. After all, as things stand, their rent is paid, their local taxes are paid, their schooling and health care are paid, they have to make no contribution to ensure they will get a pension, and their bus fares are paid. Their one responsibility is to stretch out the cash-subvention that they receive in such a way that they can eat, smoke, drink and watch television.
The culture of dependency, the White Witch's latest offer.

Hat Tip to my friend Jill Fallon at Business of Life

The "Sacred" . . .

In an earlier post, here, I made reference to Philip Rieff's use of the word "sacred," pointing out that it was not exactly what René Girard usually means by that word. Not exactly, but there are interconnections. Here is further elucidation.

Rieff performs a massive interpretive exploration of the work of the German sociologist Max Weber. He sometimes makes the reader work to keep up with his extraordinary insights, but it is worth the effort. The passage below contains references to ideas central to Rieff's larger project. I will not try to contextualize them here; I think -- and hope -- that the overall sense comes through despite the complexity. His reference to the university bears the hallmarks of the student unrest of the latter quarter of the 20th century during which Rieff was a university professor, making his remarks slightly -- only slightly -- anachronistic.  I have other minor quibbles with the quotation below, in general it is so bold and brilliant that I don't feel the need to let them interfere at this point.

Some will be put off by Rieff's apocalyptic tone, as some have been by René Girard's. By quoting it, I may be tarred with that brush. I take refuge in Girard's insistence that "The apocalypse does not announce the end of the world; it creates hope." That, at least, is my reason for calling your attention to Rieff's jeremiad.

Rieff's point of departure in what follows is Weber's brilliant definition of the sacred, one which illustrates its cultural significance, namely that: "The sacred is the uniquely unalterable." Returning to his analysis of the indispensability of cultural norms, Rieff elaborates on the Weber's lapidary formula:
Here is the crux of the anti-political meaning of charisma: the interdicts must be uniquely unalterable -- i.e. sacred. Political charisma is patently anti-interdictory, a form of desacralization -- in short, transgressive, which is so utterly opposed to the "uniquely unalterable" that transgressives treat their acts, rightly, as the ultimate alternative to the sacred. In a culture without sacramental action, indeed, transgressive motifs have displaced interdictory as the most demanding. We scarcely remember what the sacred is -- and are horrified by what we have forgotten. Anything that is uniquely unalterable horrifies us even to imagine, because we are living, acting transgressions. We are the horror. To us, nothing is sacred . . .
Rieff would later say: "Anyone knowledgeable enough about himself as an organization man knows that evil angels have all but seized control of the world; everything is explained by my deeply felt theory of transgressions except the way out."

There is, I think, no doubt about the explanatory power of Rieff's theory of transgressions -- though it is really a theory of historical desacralization which will bear its greatest fruit when integrated with Girard's work on that subject -- there is a hint at least of "the way out" it seems to me. It is found in his fascinating and brilliant observation Rieff makes that the culture he sees succumbing to the transgressive imperatives once kept in check by sacred interdictions is "a culture without sacramental action."

Therein lies the hidden -- carefully hidden -- hope for those with eyes to see. The alternative -- ultimately the only alternative -- to the sacred is the sacramental. The only thing that can replace the implacable unalterability of the old sacred system that was dismantled on Golgotha is the covenantal unalterability of the sacramental, as in, "I will be with you until the end of the age," inasmuch as you "do this in remembrance of me."

"The world will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

Earth Day

Congratulations to CNN

As tasteless as "South Park" apparently is -- I have never seen it -- at least its creators had the courage that most politically correct offenders don't, and -- more remarkably -- at least CNN has aired something about Islamic fanaticism.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Volunteer State . . .

On Friday, I expressed pride in the way the relatively new Bishop Stika is handling the (largely homo-)sexual abuse situation for the Knoxville diocese. And now the state of Tennessee has distinguished itself by becoming the first state to opt out of the abortion mandates in the Obamacare Bill. Here is how the story is reported on the LifeSiteNews reports the story:
The first state in the nation has decided to opt out of some of the massive taxpayer funding of abortion found in the new health care law President Barack Obama signed. Governor Phil Bredesen defied expectations and signed into law the bill that protects taxpayers from paying some of the abortion funding.

Bredesen is a Democrat who supports legal abortions and there was some concern he would consider vetoing the bill.

The measure has Tennessee opting out of using state tax money to pay for abortions in state health care exchanges -- though other abortion funding in the government-run health care bill can't be suppressed by state efforts.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses. The new law will keep any insurance plans on the Tennessee exchange from offering abortion coverage.

"We must take every action possible to protect Tennessee from being a part of a plan that allows for funding abortions," said state Senator Diane Black, a Republican who sponsored the bill.

"We have worked for years to ensure that taxpayer money is not used for abortion services in Tennessee and we must fight back against this overreach of federal power," she added.

Tennessee Right to Life fought for the bill and told LifeNews.com today, "Tennessee becomes the first state to opt out of the abortion mandate with similar bills pending in Missouri and Louisiana."

"Tennessee Right to Life expresses great appreciation to the following members of the state Senate who voted to protect human life and Tennessee's taxpayers," the group added.

Brian Harris, the group's president, praised Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey along with pro-life stalwarts Diane Black and Jack Johnson.

The Senate voted 27-3 for the bill after the Tennessee state House voted 70-23 for it.
The exchange doesn't go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Americans United for Life and other pro-life groups are assisting legislators in other states and dozens may ultimately wind up voting on similar provisions over the coming months and years.

More on Obama Choreography

Interviewed on MSNBC, a visibly shaken Jay Barbree -- the longtime NBC science correspondent -- described the duplicity of President Obama. Put simply, Obama's campaign rhetoric -- that he would preserve NASA's cutting-edge science and engineering expertise -- was, like so many of his promises, a fabrication. And he couldn't even tell them to their faces.

BARBREE: ...I'm a little disturbed right now, Alex. I just found out some very disturbing news. The President came down here in his campaign and told these 15,000 workers here at the Space Center that if they would vote for him, that he would protect their jobs. 9,000 of them are about to lose their job. He is speaking before 200, extra hundred people here today only. It's invitation only. He has not invited a single space worker from this space port to attend. It's only academics and other high officials from outside of the country. Not one of them is invited to hear the President of the United States, on their own space port, speak today. Back to you Alex.

Deserving of a Pulitzer

Yesterday I posted a link to a long Hugh Fitzgerald article, here. In my opinion, the article merits a Pulitzer. So, once again, I urge you to take the time to read it and ponder its larger consequences. In the meantime, Fitzgerald has posted another piece that corroborates his criticism of The New York Times specifically and the major cable news networks generally. It is here, and it, too, is heavy with consequences, inasmuch as it indicates how sheltered from inconvenient reality much of the American public is.

Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

Source here.

Assisted (Cultural) Suicide - Part I

Increasingly, one wonders: where are the adults? Today's political and journalistic childishness continues to astonish. But at least there are some adults looking on and reminding the rest of us of the difference between adolescent fantasies and the very grave matters at hand that deserve adult attention. One such observer is Charles Krauthammer. Another is the journalist nonpariel, Mark Steyn. Here and here, in toto, are their respective remarks on president Obama's latest laboriously choreographed self-dramatization.

 Charles Krauthammer:
There was something oddly disproportionate about the just-concluded nuclear summit to which President Obama summoned 46 world leaders, the largest such gathering on American soil since 1945. That meeting was about the founding of the United Nations, which 65 years ago seemed an event of world-historical importance.

But this one? What was this great convocation about? To prevent the spread of nuclear material into the hands of terrorists. A worthy goal, no doubt. Unfortunately, the two greatest such threats were not even on the agenda.The first is Iran, which is frantically enriching uranium to make a bomb, and which our own State Department identifies as the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world.

Nor on the agenda was Pakistan's plutonium production, which is adding to the world's stockpile of fissile material every day.

Pakistan is a relatively friendly power, but it is the most unstable of all the nuclear states. It is fighting a Taliban insurgency and is home to al-Qaeda. Suicide bombs go off regularly in its major cities. Moreover, its own secret service, the ISI, is of dubious loyalty, some of its elements being sympathetic to the Taliban and thus, by extension, to al-Qaeda.

So what was the major breakthrough announced by Obama at the end of the two-day conference? That Ukraine, Chile, Mexico and Canada will be getting rid of various amounts of enriched uranium.

What a relief. I don't know about you, but I lie awake nights worrying about Canadian uranium. I know these people. I grew up there. You have no idea what they're capable of doing. If Sidney Crosby hadn't scored that goal to win the Olympic gold medal, there's no telling what might have ensued.

Let us stipulate that sequestering nuclear material is a good thing. But, it is a minor thing, particularly when Iran is off the table, and Pakistan is creating new plutonium for every ounce of Canadian uranium shipped to the U.S.

Perhaps calculating that removing relatively small amounts of fissile material from stable friendly countries didn't quite do the trick, Obama proudly announced that the U.S. and Russia were disposing of 68 tons of plutonium. Unmentioned was the fact that this agreement was reached 10 years ago -- and, under the new protocol, doesn't begin to dispose of the plutonium until 2018. Feeling safer now?

The appropriate venue for such minor loose-nuke agreements is a meeting of experts in Geneva who, after working out the details, get their foreign ministers to sign off. Which made this parade of world leaders in Washington an exercise in misdirection -- distracting attention from the looming threat from Iran, regarding which Obama's 15 months of terminally naive "engagement" has achieved nothing but the loss of 15 months.

Indeed, the Washington summit was part of a larger misdirection play -- Obama's "nuclear spring." Last week, a START treaty, redolent of precisely the kind of Cold War obsolescence Obama routinely decries. The number of warheads in Russia's aging and decaying nuclear stockpile is an irrelevancy now that the existential U.S.-Soviet struggle is over. One major achievement of the treaty, from the point of view of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, is that it could freeze deployment of U.S. missile defenses -- thus constraining the single greatest anti-nuclear breakthrough of our time.

This followed a softening of the U.S. nuclear deterrent posture (sparing non-proliferation compliant states from U.S. nuclear retaliation if they launch a biochemical attack against us) -- a change so bizarre and literally unbelievable that even Hillary Clinton couldn't get straight what retaliatory threat remains on the table.

All this during a week when top U.S. military officials told Congress that Iran is about a year away from acquiring the fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. Then, only a very few years until weaponization.

At which point the world changes irrevocably: the regional Arab states go nuclear, the Non-Proliferation Treaty dies, the threat of nuclear transfer to terror groups grows astronomically.

A timely reminder: Syria has just been discovered transferring lethal Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Middle East's most powerful non-state terrorist force. This is the same Syria that was secretly building a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor until the Israeli air force destroyed the facility three years ago.

But not to worry. Canadian uranium is secured. A nonbinding summit communique has been issued. And a "Work Plan" has been agreed to.

Oh yes. And there will be another summit in two years. The dream lives on.
Now that Krauthammer has warmed you up, here's Mark Steyn:
The mound of corpses being piled up around the world today is not from high-tech nuclear states but from low-tech psycho states.

 In years to come — assuming, for the purposes of argument, there are any years to come — scholars will look back at President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit and marvel. For once, the cheap comparisons with 1930s appeasement barely suffice: To be sure, in 1933, the great powers were meeting in Geneva and holding utopian arms-control talks even as Hitler was taking office in Berlin. But it’s difficult to imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia, and Thailand . . . but not even mentioning Germany.

Yet that’s what Obama just did: He held a nuclear gabfest in 2010, the biggest meeting of world leaders on American soil since the founding of the U.N. 65 years ago — and Iran wasn’t on the agenda.

Granted that almost all of Obama’s exciting, innovative “change we can believe in” turns out to have been exhumed direct from the sclerotic Seventies to stagger around like a rotting zombie in polyester bell-bottoms from some straight-to-video sequel, there’s still something almost touchingly quaint in the notion of an international summit on nuclear “nonproliferation” in the 21st century. Five years ago, when there was still a chance the world might prevent a nuclear Iran rather than pretending to “contain” it, I remember the bewildered look from a “nonproliferation expert” on a panel I was on after I suggested nonproliferation was a laughably obsolescent frame for this discussion. You could just about enforce nonproliferation back in the Cold War, when the only official nuclear powers were the Big Five at the U.N. Security Council and the entry level for the nuclear club was extremely expensive and technologically sophisticated. Now it’s not. If Pakistan and North Korea can be nuclear powers, who can’t? North Korea’s population is starving. Its GDP per capita is lower than Ghana’s, lower than Zimbabwe’s, lower than Mongolia’s. Which is to say its GDP is all but undetectable.

Yet it’s a nuclear power.

That’s what anachronistic nonproliferation mumbo-jumbo gets you. If you read in the paper that New Zealand had decided to go nuclear, would you lose a moment’s sleep over it? Personally, I’d be rather heartened. It would be a sign that a pampered and somnolent developed world had woken up and concluded that betting your future on the kindness of strangers is a helluva gamble. What Obama and his empty showboaters failed even to acknowledge in their “security” summit is the reality of the post–Big Five nuclear age: We’re on the brink of a world in which the wealthiest nations from Canada to Norway to Japan can barely project meaningful force to their own borders while the nickel-’n’-dime basket cases go nuclear.

How long do you think that arrangement will last? Iran has already offered to share its nuclear technology with Sudan. Sudan? Ring a vague bell? Remember that “Save Darfur” interpretative-dance fundraiser you went to where someone read out a press release from George Clooney and you all had a simply marvelous time? Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed — with machetes. That’s pretty labor-intensive. In the Congo, five and a half million have been slaughtered — and again in impressively primitive ways.

But a nuclear Sudan would be a model of self-restraint?

By the way, that’s another example of the self-indulgent irrelevance of Obama. The mound of corpses being piled up around the world today is not from high-tech nuclear states but from low-tech psycho states. It’s not that Britain has nukes and poor old Sudan has to make do with machetes. It’s that the machete crowd is willing to kill on an industrial scale and the high-tech guys can’t figure out a way to stop them. Perhaps for his next pointless yakfest the president might consider a machete nonproliferation initiative.

Nuclear technology cannot be un-invented. All you can do, as President Reagan understood when few others did, is invent something that will render it, if not yet obsolete, at least less lethal. Until that moment, what makes the difference is not the technology but the regime. The Obama Happy Fairyland Security Summit was posited on the principle that there’s no difference between a Swiss nuke and a Syrian nuke. If you believe that, you’ll be thrilled by the big breakthrough agreement of the summit: Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Ukraine have agreed to reduce their stocks of enriched uranium. Peace in our time! I have here a piece of paper from the prime minister of Canada!

This is the nuclear version of Janet Incompetano’s initial reaction to the Pantybomber — when she banned passengers from having paperback books on their laps for the last 45 minutes of the flight. In an age of freelance nukes, we shouldn’t be banning items but profiling threats. For 30 years, Iran has acted with extraterritorial impunity and without even the minimal courtesies of international relations — seizing embassies, taking out mob contracts on British novelists, seeding terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, blowing up community centers in Latin America . . .  Washington’s pathetic fallback of “containment” is intended to prevent Tehran using a nuke in the Middle East, Europe, or anywhere else within range. There is no strategy for “containing” Iran’s leverage of its nuclear status to advance its interests more discreetly, and no strategy for “containing” the mullahs’ generosity to states and groups more inclined to use the technology.

In a characteristic display of his now famous modesty, President Obama reacted to the hostility of the Tax Day tea parties by saying, “You would think they should be saying ‘thank you’” — for all he’s done for them. Right now, the fellows saying “thank you” are the mullahs, the Politburo, Tsar Putin, and others hostile to U.S. interests who’ve figured out they now have the run of the planet.

As for Obama’s pledge to set a good example by reducing America’s nuclear arsenal, there’s no correlation between peace and the number of weapons — except insofar as states with only a few nukes are more likely to use them than states with gazillions: If you’ve only got a dozen, you’re under more pressure to let ’em fly before they’re taken out by incoming. So the principle underpinning Obama’s Seventies-retro nuke summit — that the size of a civilized state’s stockpile adds to the global threat — is not just false but dangerously delusional. Likewise, the urge to forswear nuclear innovation. It would be greatly to the advantage of civilization if responsible powers were to develop new forms of limited, highly targeted, bunker-busting nukes. As is well understood by our enemies, the modern West has no stomach for large-scale casualties: On the morning of September 11th, for example, Mullah Omar had no fear that Washington would nuke even remote and lightly inhabited parts of the Hindu Kush. As we learned the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan, stupid, ill-trained illiterates with primitive explosives who don’t care who they kill can inflict quite a lot of damage on the technologically advanced, highly trained warriors of civilized states. That’s the “asymmetric warfare” that matters. So virtuously proclaiming oneself opposed to nuclear modernization ensures a planet divided into civilized states with unusable weapons and barbarous regimes happy to kill with whatever’s to hand.

So another grand week’s work for a president pressing full steam ahead into the post-American global order. The good news is that at least you don’t have to worry about a nuclear blitzkrieg from Winnipeg. Sleep easy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

If this gets traction . . .

If this gets traction, it will make the Tea Party Movement look tame by comparison.



Hat Tip: Sunlit Uplands

Violence Against Women: A Taboo Topic at UN

Bear in mind that this is a meeting of the United Nations HUMAN RIGHTS Commission.



With each passing day, the old idea that the United Nations might play a key role in addressing the worldwide crisis of culture becomes more and more absurd.

Great Journalism

Hugh Fitzgerald at Jihad Watch has a long piece on the sloppy way the Pompom Media has covered the rise of adamant Islam in the West which is at the same time a devastating critique of the historical failures of The New York Times and other news organizations. It's long, but it will reward the time taken to read it. I highly recommend it.

Here's my advice: click on the link below; print out the piece. Set aside some time for it. And take a plunge into some great journalism. It's a study in history and the ways in which we have been trained to overlook it.

Click HERE for a printable version of Fitzgerald's extraordinary article.

Priceless . . .

Jenn Public over at NewsRealBlog has an absolutely hilarious post showing the absurdity of the argument for public funding of abortion on demand. The headline captures it all:

WHAT'S THE POINT OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT 
IF YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR OWN GUN?

Her piece is priceless:
Many leftist feminist blogs are currently promoting a fundraiser called the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon.  So far, bowling teams across the country have raised nearly $100,000 to help women and girls pay for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford.  As the organizers explain, “friends + abortion rights + rented shoes = the event of a lifetime!”

Sounds like a blast.

I don’t really care about the fundraising activities of the National Network of Abortion Funds. But since they believe the “legal right to abortion is only meaningful when women have the resources to obtain abortion services,” I figured they’d be interested in my awesome new idea to help subsidize another legal right.  I’m pressed for time, so I just went ahead and changed a few words in their promotional material:
Gun Funds across the country are raising money to make Second Amendment rights a reality for women who can’t afford to pay for their guns — and we need your help.

What is a Bowl-a-Thon? Heck, what’s a Gun Fund?
The Bowl-a-Thon is a nationwide series of local events that allow community members (you!) to captain your own bowling team, participate in a kickass national event – and raise money to help women and girls pay for guns they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Gun Funds are local, grassroots groups that work tirelessly to help low-income and disadvantaged women who want a gun and do not have enough money to pay for it. Gun Funds help women pay for their guns, help them buy bus or plane tickets, and even offer women a place to stay when they have to travel to buy a gun. Gun Funds make a difference in women’s lives … and you can join them!

Why participate in the Bowl-a-Thon?
Because you know that the legal right to bear arms is meaningless if you can’t afford to pay for it. Because you’re pissed at the way gun control legislation has rolled back Second Amendment rights. Because you love being a part of building the movement for Second Amendment justice. Because you’re a crack bowler who wants to strut your stuff. Because you know: friends + gun rights + rented shoes = the event of a lifetime!

Join us today as we strike down barriers to gun access!
So what do you think? Can we get the Left on board with this?

What do we want?  Second Amendment justice!

When do we want it? Now!

Thank you . . .

I have received many very kind responses to the post about my upcoming marriage to Kathleen. I'm tremendously grateful -- we both are. God has not only blessed me with a truly gracious, charming, and amazing companion, but with a great many good and kind friends.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Changing the Climate Isn't All That Easy

Apparently . . . Nature made a pretty impressive effort. Here's the time-lapse . . .



But even this may not affect the climate. This from Blumberg:
The impact of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is likely to be “virtually non-existent” on the global climate because the eruption is too small and gases are not penetrating the upper atmosphere, Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at Australia’s National Climate Centre in Melbourne, said in an interview.
“In its current form, we wouldn’t expect the eruption to have any significant global climate effects,” Trewin said today by telephone. “In terms of how much material was being put up into the atmosphere, Pinatubo was several hundred times larger than this has been so far.”

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Great and Unexpected Gift

Dear Friends,

With a heart full of gratitude, I am writing to share the exceedingly happy news that on Saturday, May 8th, Kathleen Sanglier and I will be married at St. Francis Solano Church in Sonoma, California, surrounded by our families and a few of our closest friends.

Kathleen and I first met in San Diego at the lectures I gave and she attended as part of the Emmaus Road Initiative program.

The news of my remarriage may be as surprising to those who know of my abiding love for my deceased wife Liz as the related move to California is a surprise to those who know how attached I am to St. Joseph's Trappist Abbey -- where Liz and I attended daily Lauds and Mass for many years.

Love never ends, however, as St. Paul reminds us in his great hymn to love, and neither my love for Liz nor my spiritual connection with the monks of Spencer Abbey is in the least diminished by the love that Kathleen and I have for one another, quite the contrary. Whether separated by death or by distance, these existing loves only increase as the heart in which they are lodged is expanded by a love so unforeseen and extraordinary that I haven't the words to express it properly. 

Kathleen has lived and worked in the San Diego area all her life, and we will be making our home there, but most of my family and many of my oldest friends live in Sonoma, where the Cornerstone Forum also has its offices. (My youngest Aña and her husband Mike are still in Massachusetts, but they, too, plan to return to Sonoma within a year or so.) So, once I sell my home in Massachusetts, we hope to find an apartment in Sonoma as well and to spend part of our time there. 

By early summer, Randy and I will share some thoughts about how this transition coincides with some new opportunities to further the Cornerstone Forum's mission. For now, however, I simply want to express my gratitude to God for the great and unexpected gift of Kathleen's love, as well as to thank you for your many kindnesses, and to ask you to keep us in your prayers.

Most sincerely,

Gil Bailie

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Empathy Administration at work

Here's the tax-day message from Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List:
Don't forget to put "Planned Parenthood" in the Memo line when you write your check to the IRS today.

Tax Day is a somber reminder of the assault on innocent human life we've endured since President Obama took office.

With the passage of ObamaCare, for the first time in over 30 years, American taxpayers --you and I-- will be forced to pay for abortions across the country. Congress had the opportunity to prevent taxpayer funded abortion by putting language similar to the Hyde Amendment in the ObamaCare bill. But Congress defied the will of the American people by settling for President Obama's meaningless Executive Order.

In just one year, President Obama has:
  • Reversed the Mexico City Policy, meaning that your tax dollars now fund abortions overseas. (1/23/09)
  • Expanded taxpayer funding of Embryo-Destructive Stem Cell Research. (3/9/09)
  • Sent $50 Million to the United Nations Population Fund, which has aided in China's coercive abortion and sterilization program. (3/23/09)
  • Forced Americans to pay for abortions in Washington, D.C. for the first time in twenty years. (5/7/09)
President Obama is clearly defying the will --the conscience-- of the American people. In fact, a Quinnipiac Survey in December found that nearly 70% percent of Americans oppose public funding of abortion.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does.

Obama's proposed 2011 budget increases taxpayer funding for abortion on-demand, both domestically and around the globe. Obama even wants to increase annual funding of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion clinic provider, up to a staggering $327 million a year!
Here's the source.

PAIN

A new approach. This from Yahoo, AP:
Nebraska lawmakers on Tuesday passed a groundbreaking bill banning abortions at 20 weeks based on assertions that fetuses feel pain then. Gov. Dave Heineman planned to sign it into law in the afternoon.

If upheld by the courts, the bill could change the foundation of abortion laws nationwide. Current restrictions in Nebraska and elsewhere are based on a fetus's ability to survive outside the womb, or viability.

Viability is determined on a case-by-case basis but is generally considered to occur at 22 to 24 weeks.
Creative Minority Report has this on the language of the Nebraska legislation: The Legislature makes the following findings:
At least by twenty weeks after fertilization there is substantial evidence that an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain;(2) There is substantial evidence that, by twenty weeks after fertilization, unborn children seek to evade certain stimuli in a manner which in an infant or an adult would be interpreted as a response to pain; (3) Anesthesia is routinely administered to unborn children who have developed twenty weeks or more past fertilization who undergo prenatal surgery; (4) Even before twenty weeks after fertilization, unborn children have been observed to exhibit hormonal stress responses to painful stimuli. Such responses were reduced when pain medication was administered directly to such unborn children; and (5) It is the purpose of the State of Nebraska to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.
The one who feels the pain should receive the greatest moral attention, don't you think?

Let's hope it survives the legal challenges.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

As the Family goes, so goes Culture.

AT THE TIPPING POINT,
TRENDS MAY BECOME IRREVERSIBLE.

My friend Patrick Fagan has an extremely powerful and important piece today on The Catholic Thing blog. Here are a few samples:
The crazy news on births this year is that rising out-of-wedlock births are not news! In the upside-down-world of modern journalism two disturbing bits of data were interpreted in the press as good news: Rejoice! Out-of-wedlock birth rates are dropping and teen birth rates are dropping! Sounds good? Read further.

The first piece of bad news (the piece that was turned into good news): our total fertility rate has dropped below the replacement rate (2.1). It is now 2.086. The other (and really bad) news is that the percentage of children born out of wedlock birth has continued to rise. This year, for the first time, it broke through the 40 percent level. . .rising for all groups and all ages. . . .

However this news on rates is about what did not happen. . .the babies that were not born. But looking at the babies who were born – those that entered our society in 2008 – we find that more were born out of wedlock than ever before. And across every ethnic group (except Asian-Americans) and every single age group without exception, from under age 15 to age 40, the percent born out of wedlock rose. . . .

The future will exact its price for this self-indulgence: lower happiness, health, mental health, educational achievement, income, and savings, along with greater rates of depression, anxiety, abuse, crime, addictions, and poverty. All these will place still more strain on the public purse, a purse which, as a long-term result of these out-of-wedlock births, will have proportionally fewer productive taxpayers capable of putting money into the public purse. Reaction from Congress and the White House: nil. Welcome to change as we have never known it.

In 1965, the Department of Labor issued Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, which analyzed the implications of the out-of-wedlock birth rate of 1963, then at 23.6 percent for Black Americans – now at its highest ever, 72.3 percent. Back then the rate among Whites was 3.07 percent, now it is 28.6 percent. Data on births to Hispanic mothers were not gathered back then, but a rough rule of thumb has been that their percent of out-of-wedlock births has been roughly half way between the white and the black. For 2008 it was 52.5 percent. . . .

It will take a very different form of government to govern a populace which does not take care of its own, but increasingly relies on others to do the irreplaceable work of parenting. Those who have wondered whether Middle Eastern countries have cultures capable of sustaining democracies might look a bit closer to home. In Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s inimitable phrase we continue our trend of “defining deviancy down.” This does not make for a self-reliant republic, much less for the nation that is the linchpin of democratic freedom across the world.
The whole piece is here, don't miss it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

From "Sacred" to "Self-Evident" to "Subjective"

When Philip Rieff referred to the "sacred order," it was not in the strictly anthropological sense with which René Girard used, for instance, to term, "the primitive sacred." That difference is made clear in a reference Rieff makes to the founding document of American democracy.
Jefferson's declaration of dependence was transformed into Franklin's declaration of independence. Perhaps it was the sentiment of the vacuity at the limits and dark heart of what Benjamin Franklin called "Providence" that led him to persuade Jefferson to change the opening line of the Declaration of Independence to read, instead of "we hold these truths to be sacred," the canonical and more ambiguously philosophical "we hold these truths to be self-evident," which is far from the case. Franklin was a profoundly shrewd operator. If those truths Americans are to hold are understood to be absolutely directive -- that is, sacred -- then every human being is absolutely dependent on them. . . . Thus began the process of inversion ... the transformation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into the pursuit of freedom to transgress and the happiness of transgression.
For a 1986 update on the "process of inversion," Rieff refers to the key sentence from the dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court case, Bowers v. Hardwick.
A Supreme Court ruling states: "The most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men" is "the right to be left alone." The right to be left alone here is an utterly blind version of the rebellion against sacred orders; Justice Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens have not the slightest idea of what they are saying.
Will Justice Stevens be replaced by someone with a better understanding of the cultural and historical consequences of defining freedom as the right to be left alone?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Leadership

News of moral principle from LifeSiteNews:
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, April 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island has denounced the Catholic Health Association for supporting the abortion-laden federal health care reform law, and has asked that a local hospital be removed from membership in the group, reported ETWN Friday.
CHA, a for-profit trade association personally wooed by President Obama to support his health care overhaul, garnered heavy criticism from U.S. bishops for supporting the massive bill despite its lack of a ban on federal abortion funding – effectively making it the most pro-abortion piece of legislation since Roe v. Wade.

The CHA, which stands to profit from health care reform, in July 2009 had already pledged a large sum of money to the Obama administration to help ease passage of the overhaul, well before the final draft of the bill materialized.

Tobin told CHA director Sr. Carol Keehan in a March 29 letter that he was “very disappointed that the Catholic Health Association, under your leadership, publicly endorsed the recent health care legislation that was passed and signed into law.”
“This action was taken despite the fact that the legislation will very possibly provide additional public funding for abortion and threaten the freedom of conscience of Catholic individuals and institutions,” wrote the outspokenly pro-life bishop.