Thursday, April 29, 2010

For Washed-Up Celebrities, "Anti-Catholicism is the New Vegas"

Matthew Archbold writes at National Catholic Register:
In the life of nearly every celebrity there’s a moment after the white hot fame cools and the spotlights are averted when a decision needs to be made. Does the celebrity begin a new life in obscurity or do they break out the white spangled jumpsuits and take the first flight out to Las Vegas to milk the last of their fame for every last embarassing moment of notoriety?

But recent years have shown that while Vegas still remains a tantalizing option, many former celebrities are establishing nice second careers as Catholic bashers. The prerequisites are minimal. You don’t actually need to know anything about the faith. Just dust off some old Pope insults, scream about priestly celibacy and homosexual rights and you’ll be a star again in no time.

(Hat tip: Creative Minority Report)

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Ditka! [UPDATED]

Mike Ditka rips idiot Miami Dolphins general manager who asked wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute during draft interview:
Mike Ditka was a guest on Miami sports-radio station 790 The Ticket and blasted Ireland. When Ditka was coach of the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, Ireland was a ball boy. Ireland's grandfather, Jim Parmer, was the Bears' college scouting director at the time.

"Somebody ought to whack him in the head," Ditka said of Ireland, according to a blog by Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson. "You don't ask that question. If you think you know it, you know.

"What are you going to confront a young man with that situation for? He probably loves his mother no matter what she is or who she is. Why would somebody do that? I don't understand things like that. Maybe I'm naive or I'm old. I don't understand that.

"What do you get from asking that question? What's it all about? Every bit of information has to be spread out on the table now? Is that it? Everybody's dirty linen has to be out? I disagree with that. I'm sorry."

I didn't realize that the idiot who asked Bryant about his mom is the same Jeff Ireland with whom I went to Baylor (I had classes with the guy in the Business School):
... But hey, people make mistakes. Can you name the 1991 Baylor kicker who missed three field goals, including a 27-yarder, against Rice, helping the eighth-ranked Bears lose by three to a 20.5-point underdog? The kicker who was roundly hated and booed but went on to become a well-respected man in professional football?

Jeff Ireland.
You learn something new every day.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The "Stupid Party" is All the More Stupid for Having John Cornyn Among Its Ranks [UPDATED]

I'm not a Republican, and I don't donate to political organizations or campaigns.

But if I were, and if I did, this would be Exhibit C as to why I'd NEVER donate one cent to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Exhibit A and Exhibit B are named Specter and Chafee, respectively.

Sen. Cornyn, you're a freakin' genius. NOT!

See also this post from last year in which Cranky Con rails against the Cornyn endorsement of Crist.

And recall that's it always the social conservatives who are told to shut up and eat our peas by supporting whoever the GOP nominates. Yet it never seems to be the social conservatives who bolt every time they don't get their way. Maybe they should.

In case you're having trouble keeping score:

  • In the 2004 and 2010 Pennsylvania GOP Senate Primary races, the NRSC endorsed Arlen Specter, not once, but twice, over the more conservative candidate, Pat Toomey. The second time the NRSC involved itself in trying to pick and choose Pennsylvania's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Toomey actually had a sizeable lead over Specter and an arguably better chance of winning the general election. A month after the NRSC endorsement, Specter switched parties and became a Democrat.

  • In the 2006 Rhode Island GOP Senate Primary race, the NRSC endorsed the perennially unreliable Lincoln Chafee over the more conservative candidate Steve Laffey. Chafee went on to win the primary but lose in the general election. A short time thereafter, Chafee abandoned the Republican Party to run as an independent for Governor of Rhode Island.

  • In the 2010 Florida GOP Senate Primary race, the NRSC endorsed mushy moderate Charlie Crist over the more conservative Marco Rubio. When Rubio pulled well ahead of Crist, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn said he was sticking with his endorsement of Crist as a matter of "honor". With Rubio currently polling ahead of Crist by over 30 points, tomorrow, Crist is expected to announce that he is leaving the GOP to run as an independent.

  • Cornyn and the NRSC are getting quite a bang for all the bucks they committed to these backstabbers, huh?

    UPDATE #2 (29 April)
    RedState has additional information on what's going on at the NRSC (and why giving them money is a disastrous idea):
    In what is shaping up to be the best election year for Republicans in decades, there is one person who has almost single-handedly made the path to victory more difficult and costly for the Grand Ole Party. That person is National Republican Senatorial Committee’s chief strategist Rob Jesmer .

    Remember, Erick warned us back in 2008 that Jesmer could be a huge problem for winning in 2010.

    And now we have proof. According to numerous folks in-the-know, Jesmer has been the key staffer who convinced the usually reliable conservative John Cornyn to go all in for Charlie Crist. And it’s not even clear Crist would have left his safe seat as governor without the prompting of the NRSC. So instead of saving the GOP money in a crucial election cycle, Jesmer has turned both the governors race and senate race in Florida into needless expenses and was helped turn a previously successful career for Charlie Crist into a national disgrace.

    If this were Jesmer’s only transgression, Republican grassroots might be able to overlook it. But its just the latest in a long line of poorly thought out decisions by the Washington insider. It seems to stem from his belief that conservatives are an obstacle to GOP majorities, instead of the foundation of the party.

    Here’s a look at Jesmer’s other great strategic decisions:

  • He convinced Cornyn to come out early and endorse Specter in Pennsylvania after he supported the Obama stimulus, in a move to stop Pat Toomey from challenging him. It didn’t work. After the NRSC put its credibility on the line for him, Specter immediately turned his back on Cornyn and switched to the Democrats. Instead of admitting the mistake, Jesmer, still unable to see the coming conservative surge in 2010, then spent weeks trying to recruit another moderate like Tom Ridge to challenge Toomey, arguing Toomey’s conservatism could never win in Pennsylvania . It didn’t work, and the NRSC finally, and begrudgingly, endorsed Toomey who now is ahead in the polls .
  • Instead of backing a conservative leader like Jim Bunning for re-elect, Jesmer helped push him out the door and worked with GOP establishment to recruit and fundraise for Trey Grayson . Kentucky voters didn’t appreciate the meddling from Washington elite and have backed conservative Rand Paul, who now leads by double digits .
  • Jesmer helped to recruit moderate Jane Norton in Colorado who now had to drop out of the traditional CO primary election at the state GOP assembly out of fear she couldn’t even garner the 30% needed to get on the ballot against conservative Ken Buck. Now she’s going to have to spend hundreds of thousands to petition onto the ballot and challenge Buck who leads Bennet in the polls .
  • Instead of backing conservative Chuck DeVore in California who had been running for months, Jesmer recruited moderate Carly Fiorina to run against him . She did so poorly in fundraising and polls, liberal Tom Campbell jumped into the race as well. So instead of having the party behind a solid conservative like DeVore who worked for Reagan and served for decades in the military , California Republicans now have an expensive primary on its hands. [UPDATE: I should have noted that DeVore is now doing better against Boxer than Fiorina in the latest polls.]

    Surely, though, this is just a string of unlucky calls on the part of Jesmer, right? Maybe he’s really a conservative who just misread the tea leaves of 2010?


    Before getting the job to lead the NRSC, Jesmer was best known for making fun of conservative Scott Garrett in New Jersey. He was caught on tape telling the daughter of Garrett’s Democrat opponent that the standout conservative leader was a “nut” . Apparently, in Jesmer’s world, Specter and Crist are true Republicans fit to lead the party, conservatives are just crazy folks he has to put up with. And according to Jesmer’s own friends, his disrespect for conservatives is “classic Jesmer .”

    Conservative icon Morton Blackwell, head of the Leadership Institute, likes to say that in Washington, “personnel is policy .” He’s right. Cornyn may be a conservative in his heart, but his top staffer at the NRSC thinks conservatives are “nuts” that need to be defeated in primaries and ushered into a dark corner of the GOP big tent. Therefore, Jesmer’s disdain for conservative grassroots is effectively the policy at the NRSC as long as he leads it.

    If Crist bolts to run as an independent (as his advisers are hinting at and his veto of the teacher’s bill signals ), it will be the second time this cycle that Jesmer’s preferred candidate humiliated the party and cost Republican grassroots donors unneeded expenses. I don’t think this has ever happened once, much less twice, at the NRSC before. At least Lincoln Chafee waited until after his electoral defeat to admit he was a liberal.

    It’s time for the staff at the NRSC to reflect the conservative values of NRSC donors. Or at least someone who is paid six figures for strategic advice that has a track record of strategic victories.

    If Crist dumps the GOP, the GOP should dump the strategist that gave us the Crist and Specter disasters.

    Call, write or email the NRSC and demand Rob Jesmer be shown the door.
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    Inside Catholic on "Catholic Anti-Americanism"

    Please take the opportunity to read Joe Hargrave's latest piece at Inside Catholic:
    Inevitably, writing for a blog called "The American Catholic" will force you to think long and hard about the relationship between Catholic and American ideals. When I began blogging there a year ago, I held to certain prejudices found among Catholic traditionalists and progressives alike -- prejudices that amounted to what I would describe as a romantic anti-Americanism: a belief that America, in conception and realization, is inherently incompatible with the Catholic Church.

    According to this view, America's intellectual roots in Enlightenment thought, Puritan jurisprudence, capitalism, and liberalism are responsible for a number of problems facing American Catholics, making us particularly vulnerable to anti-Catholic tendencies such as political and economic individualism or defiance of authority, including Church authority. As both a liturgical traditionalist and a recovering leftist, the appeal of a contrary, romantic anti-Americanism was strong.

    But a closer look at the Catholic experience in the United States, as seen from the perspective of both American Catholics and the papacy, challenges that world view. As it turns out, this kind of anti-Americanism, whether it comes from "throne and altar" traditionalism or the anti-capitalist Left, has no basis in either. It is a failed hypothesis for many reasons; here I will present three...

    [Read the whole thing]
    (Hat tip: The American Catholic)

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    Friday, April 23, 2010

    David Brooks Wonders What Went Wrong [UPDATED]

    Check out David Brooks' latest attempt at responsibility avoidance with this rich piece of Op/Ed mendacity:
    ... The center has been losing political power pretty much my entire career. But I confess that about 16 months ago I had some hope of a revival. The culture war, which had bitterly divided the country for decades, was winding down. The war war — the fight over Iraq and national security — was also waning.

    The country had just elected a man who vowed to move past the old polarities, who valued discussion and who clearly had some sympathy with both the Burkean and Hamiltonian impulses. He staffed his administration with brilliant pragmatists whose views overlapped with mine, who differed only in that they have more faith in technocratic planning.

    Yet things have not worked out for those of us in the broad middle. Politics is more polarized than ever. The two parties have drifted further to the extremes. The center is drained and depressed.

    What happened?

    History happened. The administration came into power at a time of economic crisis. This led it, in the first bloom of self-confidence, to attempt many big projects all at once. Each of these projects may have been defensible in isolation, but in combination they created the impression of a federal onslaught...
    Yeah, that's it - "History happened". What a bilious load of vomitous nonsense and absolute crap!

    How about this for a REAL explanation, Mr. Pantcrease Admirer:

    All the "post-partisan" posing was a lie. You KNEW it was a lie, but WANTED to believe the lie, so you CHOSE to believe it. You then aided and abetted the lie by writing glowingly of the "moderate" credentials of a man who had NEVER exhibited one iota of political centrism in his entire (albeit short and unremarkable) political career, all the while trashing the REAL centrist in the race who, ironically, you had up until then spent the previous 8 years heralding, fellating, and otherwise trying to foist upon the rest of us.

    Meanwhile, all us yokels out here in Jesusland saw right through the lie and chose NOT to believe it. For that, you belittled us, called us a "cancer", questioned our intelligence and intellectual curiosity, and treated us as generally inferior to your more sophisticated and urbane sensibilities. Maybe the "uneducated class" is a whole lot smarter and more politically astute than the coastal elites in the "educated class" give us credit for. At the very least, it appears that the riff-raff are a whole helluva lot smarter than you are.

    For a more measured response to Brooks' feigned befuddlement, read Jennifer Rubin's piece at Commentary:
    History happened? Oh, let’s see if we can’t be more precise than that. “As government grew [by itself? did someone grow it?], the antigovernment right mobilized. This produced the Tea Party Movement — a characteristically raw but authentically American revolt led by members of the yeoman enterprising class.” History happened and government grew. (Like magic!) And now Brooks is disappointed.

    Brooks writes that the Democratic party did this and that, that opposition grew, and that we wound up in the big- vs. little-government debate. What’s missing from this autopilot version of politics? Hmm … could it be Obama, the moderate fellow, who did the government-growing?

    I have a rule of thumb: when a writer, especially a good one, excessively uses evasive or convoluted rhetoric, he is hiding something. Let’s try this: Obama, a very liberal politician, was smart enough to know he couldn’t win the presidency as a hard leftist. He posed as a moderate. New York Times columnists sung his praises. Pundits assured us that he was beyond ideology, a sort of philosopher-king with very neat pants. He got into office. He governed from the far Left. The president signed bill after bill, spending money we didn’t have and running up the debt. Obama insisted on a mammoth health-care bill the country hated. He egged Congress on to pass it. Meanwhile, the country recoiled. They hired a moderate on advice of pundits and media mavens and got a far-Left liberal, a ton of debt, an expanded federal government, and a slew of new taxes.

    How’s that?

    The bottom line: history doesn’t just “happen.” Presidents make choices. Pundits make miscalculations. Voters exact revenge. It’s not that complicated — if you are honest about who did what to whom.
    So, David, when ARE you going to just come right out and admit that YOU were wrong all along?

    Hat tip to the Cranky Con who links to this "blistering and brilliant takedown of Brooks" at Ace of Spades:
    ... Brooks begins by explaining that he views himself philosophically as some fusion of Burke and Hamilton, which to Brooks means being skeptical of government planning but okay with energetic and intrusive government sometimes. In a world full of extremists, Brooks says this places him squarely in the center of American political thought. How convenient for him.


    Of course they were wonderful. Did they not invite him to dinner with the soon to be President to be? Didn’t these top notch chaps consult with him on all sorts of important matters? Why of course they were a swell bunch.


    Books is a living example of this George Carlin quip.
    Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
    It's a conceit shared by a lot of narcissistic (not in the clinical sense) commentators. They are so enraptured by their own brilliance they think they are the lodestar of American political life. People like Brooks simply presume their personal list of likes and dislikes is a coherent philosophy everyone can objectively agree with.

    When people (especially people who aren't members of the educated class) disagree, it's not because they have a personal philosophy and policy preferences that just happened to differ from Brooks'. No those people are trafficking in crass political fighting and if only they could be made to see the truth about these things (which coincidentally happens to be exactly what Brooks thinks), well then, all would be right with the world.

    Sorry David but you are not the Alpha and Omega of wisdom. There are people out in the rest of the country who have an honest difference of opinion with you and your self proclaimed truths. We will argue and advocate for them. Sometimes it will be loud and there might even be a bad word mixed in. That's not a bug but rather a feature of the system. Deal with it.


    Here's the thing, I'm sick of self proclaimed experts whitewashing their errors in judgment away as if no one could have seen this coming and therefore don't hold them responsible, hold everyone to blame.

    No. We, the great unwashed who don't always wear pants, let alone immaculately creased ones, knew it and said so. Don't tell me that a highly paid NY Times Op-ed guy is so much smarter than internet idiots when he was so obviously and provably WRONG on a rather major topic.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    "Educated Class" Waking Up to Fact That Us "Yokels" Were Right All Along

    Noemie Emery on David Brooks and the "Educated Class"

    Michael Barone on David Brooks and the "Educated Class"

    Brooksback Mountain

    Today's Must-Read: "Palinphobes and the Audacity of Type"

    A Conservative Manifesto

    Another Elitist "Conservative" Likes the Cut of Obama's Jib

    The Liberal Media's Elitist Conservative Rats Leave the Sinking Ship

    Victor Davis Hanson: "What is Wisdom?"

    Let's Get One Thing Straight ...

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    Happy Feast of St. George (23 April)

    Today is the Feast of St. George the Martyr. It is also the 8th birthday of my firstborn, Jamie, whose patron is St. George.

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:

    St. George, soldier and martyr

    Also known as George the Great Martyr, Victory Bringer

    Martyred at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine; By the early Middle Ages his tomb at Lydda was a center of pilgrimage, and many churches were given his name.

    Canonised in AD 494, Pope Gelasius, proclaiming him one of those "whose names are justly revered among men but whose acts are known only to God".

    Commemorated April 23 (Roman Catholic); November 3 (Russian Orthodox); fourth Sunday in June (Malta); third Sunday in July (Gozo)

    Patronage: Aragon, agricultural workers, archers, armourers, Beirut, Lebanon, Boy Scouts, butchers, Cappadocia, Catalonia, cavalry, chivalry, Constantinople, Crusaders, England, equestrians, farmers, Ferrara Italy, field hands, field workers, Genoa Italy, Georgia, Germany, Gozo, Greece, herpes, horsemen, horses, husbandmen, Istanbul, knights, lepers, leprosy, Lithuania, Malta, Moscow, Order of the Garter, Palestine, Palestinian Christians, plague, Portugal, riders, saddle makers, saddlers, skin diseases, skin rashes, soldiers, syphilis, Teutonic Knights, Venice

    In art, George is portrayed as a youth in armor, often mounted, killing or having killed a dragon with his lance (sometimes broken) or sword. His shield and lance pennant are a red cross on a white field. Generally, there is a princess near him. In some portrayals, the princess leads the dragon; Saint Margaret is the princess; George is in armor standing on the dragon (not to be confused with the Archangel Michael, who is always winged); George is in the robes of the Order of the Garter; with Saint Demetrius in icons; or as George is martyred in a brazen bull, dragged by horses, beheaded with a sword

    St. George
    (full article at:

    A fifth-century manuscript in Vienna preserves fragments of the passion of St. George and is the oldest evidence of any type for his cult since the so-called Decretum Gelasianum, which purports to have been composed by Pope Gelasius (AD492-94) and includes the passion of St. George among the apocryphal works whose reading is prohibited, was probably composed in sixth-century Gaul. Other than this manuscript, the oldest literary evidence for the cult of St. George consists of a brief notice by an otherwise unknown Theodosius in his topography of the Holy Land which he apparently composed during the reign of Anastasius I (AD491-518).


    St. George, Patron of England; Who was Saint George?

    The life of Saint George is shrouded in legend, so much so that it is quite difficult to untangle fact from fiction. Much of the problem lies in the Acta Sancti Georgii (Acts of Saint George) written at a very early date and outlawed by Pope Gelasius in AD 496. Meanwhile the Greeks also had a set of Acts which were more accurate and quoted by Saint Andrew of Crete.

    From them and the writings of Metaphrastes, we can piece together that he was born in Cappadocia of noble, Christian parents and on the death of his father, accompanied his mother to Palestine, her country of origin, where she had land and George was to run the estate. He was martyred at Lydda in Palestine (Nicomedia). He held an important post in the Roman army - the rank of tribune, or perhaps colonel in modern terms - during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (245-313). Dioclesian was a great persecutor of Christians (from about 302) and when the persecutions began George put aside his office and complained personally to the Emperor of the harshness of his decrees and the dreadful purges of Christians. For his trouble, though, he was thrown into prison and tortured. He would not recant his faith however and the following day he was dragged through the streets and beheaded. It is uncertain whether he also tore down the Emperor's decrees as they were posted in Nicomedia. So he was one of the first to perish. The Emperor's wife, Alexandria was so impressed at the Saint's courage that she became a Christian and so too was put to death for her trouble.

    The Legends
    The legends surrounding Saint George are very varied. One of them concerns the famous dragon, with which he is invariably portrayed. According to legend, a pagan town in Libya was being terrorised by a dragon. The locals kept throwing sheep to it to placate it, and when it still remained unsatisfied, they started sacrificing some of the citizenry. Finally the local princess was to be thrown also to the beast, but Good Saint George came along, slaughtered the dragon and rescued the fair princess. At this the townsfolk converted to Christianity.

    The origin of the legend, which is very well known, came originally from the way in which the Greek Church honoured George. They venerated him as a soldier saint and told many stories of his bravery and protection in battle. The western Christians, joining with the Byzantine Christians in the Crusades, elaborated and misinterpreted the Greek traditions and devised their own version. The story we know today of Saint George and the dragon dates from the troubadours of the 14th century.

    The reason for his being adoped as the Saint of Battles was partly because he was a soldier, but also because he is said to have appeared to the Christian army before the Battle of Antioch. It is also said that he appeared to our English King Richard I (the Lionheart) during his Crusade against the Saracens, which served as a great encouragement to the troops.

    The Meaning of the Symbols
    The symbols explained are that the Dragon represented satan and the Princess represented the Christian Church. Saint George rescued the pagans from evil by vanquishing it and saved the Church from being devoured by the insatiable forces of darkness.

    The Cult of Saint George
    The cult of Saint George goes back a long way - certainly to the 4th century. The Syrian Church held him in great esteem. The church of Saint George In Velabro - (The Veil of Gold) - Rome, dating from about that time was built. Saint Clothilde, in Gaul dedicated a church to him; in Venice, he is the second patron after Saint Mark; the Greeks hold him in honour. And in 1222 the Council of Oxford appointed 23rd April as his Feast Day. He became the English Patron Saint in 14th Century and he became associated with the Order of the Garter. He is also the patron saint of Moscow in Russia, and of Georgia which bears his name, and of Aragon . He was, until 18th century, patron of Portugal (when they broke from Spain in 12th century, they had to choose a new patron: their acquaintance with the English in the Crusades confirmed George as the natural successor. He remains to this day still "in charge" of the army), although Our Lady is the Protectress of the Country now. St George is patron saint of Aragon..

    I am grateful for this piece of information from Lisa Inskipp-Hawkins: "(St George) is also the patron saint of Catalonia, and his festivity is much celebrated here. In fact, the Catalonian people add their own tradition to this popular celebration. The legend here is that when St George killed the dragon, he gave the maiden a red rose ... As a result, on the 23rd of April, especially in Barcelona City, it is traditional for men to give their girlfriend/fiancée/ wife a red rose, and the lady in question corresponds by returning a book. You could say that here St George is more popular than St. Valentine."

    Other correspondents mention the cult of St George in other places and traditions: The Coptic Church for example; the Island of Gozo, part of the Malta archipelago, where high festivities take place yearly each 3rd week in July (thanks to David Camilleri for that information). Many other places too numerous to mention here.


    More on St. George at: (Boy Scouts)

    The Englishman

    St George he was for England,
    And before he killed the dragon
    He drank a pint of English ale
    Out of an English flagon.
    For though he fast right readily
    In hair-shirt or in mail,
    It isn’t safe to give him cakes
    Unless you give him ale.

    St George he was for England,
    And right gallantly set free
    The lady left for dragon’s meat
    And tied up to a tree;
    But since he stood for England
    And knew what England means,
    Unless you give him bacon
    You mustn’t give him beans.

    St George he is for England,
    And shall wear the shield he wore
    When we go out in armour
    With battle-cross before.
    But though he is jolly company
    And very pleased to dine,
    It isn’t safe to give him nuts
    Unless you give him wine.
    ~ G.K. Chesterton

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    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Democrat Mickey Kaus Asks "What's Texas's Secret?"

    Ohio and Michigan, pay attention to this one:
    Why is the state of Texas doing relatively well in this recession--losing jobs later, and recovering jobs earlier--than California is? ... Texas has a relatively low rate of unionization--about a third of California's. That means a) fewer rigidities in the labor market, allowing it to adjust to the market more quickly--tiny quick wage cuts for a lot of people, for eample, mean employers don't have to lay people off as quickly b) fewer rigidities in organization structure--they don't have UAW-style work rules at Dell; and c) the absence of the public sector union "death-grip on state and local government" and politics and finances, which has helped produce near-bankruptcy at the state level (and actual bankruptcy in Vallejo). ... When Texas creates green jobs, maybe it's not just a power play by the union representing DWP workers to grab another stream of taxpayer funding, or by the Teamsters to monopolize employment at the port of LA. Maybe they are actual green jobs! ...


    Outgoing SEIU union President Andy Stern tells WaPo's Ezra Klein that unions are
    the greatest middle-class, job-creating mechanism that we have ever had in America that doesn't cost tax payers a dime.
    Needless to say, under Klein's probing questioning Stern had to admit the idiocy of his remark. ... Oh wait. This is Ezra Klein we are talking about. There was no probing questioning. It was left to Klein's colleague Charles Lane to show the idiocy of Stern's remark:
    Really? Aren’t unions the main defenders of the Davis-Bacon Act, a certifiable waster of tax dollars and destroyer of jobs? Unions share the blame for the downfall of General Motors and Chrysler, too, don’t they? Last I checked, their bailouts had cost taxpayers more than a dime.

    I have also heard that the untouchable pensions and other benefits of public sector unions, including Stern’s SEIU, are pushing California into fiscal and economic disaster. I’m just back from Los Angeles, where the mayor, trying to close a $400 million-plus budget gap, has announced layoffs and service cuts, which can only be avoided if city employee unions accept wage cuts and contribute more to their own pensions. So far, the unions say no. Their counterproposal calls on the city to raise dog license fees and pass out more parking tickets, among other gimmicks and stopgaps.
    Not to mention the more basic point that when GM's unions won wage increases, back in the 1960s and 1970s when the industry had the closed, oligopoly structure unions prefer, it was GM's customers who paid the resulting increased prices. And GM's customers were by and large poorer than GM's workers. The fact that they suffered the loss as consumers and not "tax payers" may not have been much consolation.

    Stern's soundbite is the sort of BS a leader can only get away with when he is surrounded by yes-men (and yes-journalists). Otherwise somebody would have called him on it long before his "exit interview." ... This insularity helps explain why Stern was such a stunningly ineffective spokesman for his pet let-unions-avoid-the-secret-ballot ("card check") plan, which even Klein admits is now dead --though, of course, Barbara Boxer is still a "strong supporter." ...

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    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Sycamore Trust Reports More Troubling News from Our Lady's University [UPDATED]

    Sycamore Trust - a group of Notre Dame alumni working to preserve the university's Catholic identity - reports that America's flagship Catholic university is working overtime to undermine those efforts:
    SOUTH BEND, IN - Notre Dame absolves pro-gay and anti-military trespassers but supports prosecution of pro-life demonstrators; Father Hesburgh accedes to Speaker Pelosi’s request to call key Congressman about health care bill.

    We have learned that a few years ago the University dropped trespass charges against pro-gay and anti-military demonstrators. This contrasts sharply with the University’s ongoing support of the trespass prosecutions of the pro-life Commencement Day demonstrators (“the ND88”).


    The name of Father Hesburgh suddenly surfaced in the accounts of Speaker Pelosi’s successful management of the health care bill. A McClatchy report, which mirrored other accounts and spread rapidly, led off with this:
    In the tense hours Sunday leading up to the House vote on a historic health care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took time to call the former president of Notre Dame, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh....What she wanted was Hesburgh to help lock up the vote of Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from South Bend, Ind., who was wavering over the abortion issue. Donnelly ultimately pressed the yes button late Sunday night.
    Representative Donnelly’s press secretary then confirmed that Father Hesburgh had in fact made the call. She added that he “did not tell Donnelly how to vote” – as if anyone would think otherwise – but rather advised, “Vote your conscience.”

    Father Hesburgh made the call at Pelosi’s request. Clearly, the call was made within the context of the strong opposition of the nation’s bishops to the bill. The call has been characterized
    in the media as designed “to convince [Donnelly]t o vote for the final bill at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request.”

    [Read the whole thing]
    (Hat tip:

    UPDATED (22 June)
    I received a very nice note in the comments from Mr. Bill Dempsey, President of Sycamore Trust:
    We appreciate your reproducing our bulletin because we believe that information touching upon the Catholic character of Notre Dame should be of general concern. And while we would not use terms like "perfidy," we have no standing to object to your characterization of the facts we report. However, your statement that "Sycamore Trust . . . reports that [Notre Dame] is working overtime to earn the moniker 'Notre Shame'" might be read to mean that we used the phrase "Notre Shame." I realize you did not mean to imply that we did, but I want to make perfectly clear to readers that we did not and would not. While there is much to criticize about Notre Dame, there is also much to praise. Our hope is that accurate and respectful criticism will assist in arresting and then reversing the secularization that has been for decades eroding Notre Dame's Catholic identity. Again, we thank you for your coverage of matters important to Catholics and to the Church.

    Bill Dempsey, President, Sycamore Trust
    In light of his comments, I have updated this post to change the terms that might be deemed objectionable.

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    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Immigration Bill in Arizona Would Allow Arrest Upon Suspicion of Being Here Illegally

    "Ver are your paperz? Ve must zee your paperz!"

    If you're brown and walking down the street in Arizona, you had better be carrying papers to prove that you're a citizen or a documented immigrant.

    What sort of "conservative" supports this kind of intrusive police-state regulation?

    Apparently, even the fake, "mavericky" sort of "conservative" does, or at least pretends to, if he wants to be reelected to the U.S. Senate.

    Fortunately, the Catholic Bishops in Arizona provide the voice of reason.

    Unfortunately, people who ought to know better don't seem to be listening.

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    The Secular Inquisition

    This piece somehow escaped my notice when it came out a week ago. Writing at Spiked, Brendan O'Neill rips the Dawkins-Hitchens cabal a new one:
    The New Atheist campaign to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested when he visits Britain later this year exposes the deeply disturbing, authoritarian and even Inquisitorial side to today’s campaigning secularism. There is nothing remotely positive in the demand that British cops lock up the pope and then drag him to some international court on charges of ‘crimes against humanity’. Instead it springs from an increasingly desperate and discombobulated secularism, one which, unable to assert itself positively through Enlightening society and celebrating the achievements of mankind, asserts itself negatively, even repressively, through ridiculing the religious.


    It’s worth asking why otherwise fairly intelligent thinkers get so dementedly exercised over the pope and the Catholic Church. What exactly is their beef? What are they objecting to? Very few (if any) of the pope-hunters were raised Catholic, so this isn’t about personal vengeance for some perceived slight by a priest or nun. And despite their current lowdown, historically illiterate attempt to equate a priest fondling a child with a state’s attempt to obliterate an entire people – under the collective tag ‘crime against humanity’ – the truth is that some of these pope-hunters don’t really think child abuse is the worst crime in the world. In 2006, Dawkins criticised ‘hysteria about paedophilia’ and said that, even though he was the victim of sexual abuse at boarding school, he would defend his abusive former teachers if ‘50 years on they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers’. Yet now he wants to put abusive priests on a par with genocidaires.


    Yet despite the lack of any obvious, sensible reason why they break out in boils at the mention of the words ‘Benedict’, ‘priest’ or ‘Catholic’, the pope-hunters’ campaign has acquired a powerfully pathological, obsessive and deafeningly shrill character. It is screeching and emotional. It talks about ‘systematic evil’ and discusses the pope as a ‘leering old villain in a frock’. It uses up almost all the intellectual and physical energies of men and women who consider themselves to be serious thinkers. What is going on here?

    The reason this crusade is so hysterical is because it is not really about the pope at all – it is about the New Atheists themselves. The contemporary pope-hunting springs from a secularist movement which feels incapable of asserting a sense of purpose or meaning in any positive, human-centred way – as the
    great atheists of old such as Marx or Darwin might have done – and which instead can only assert itself negatively, in contrast to the ‘evil’ of religion, by posturing against the alleged wickedness of institutionalised faith. It is the inner emptiness, directionless and soullessness of contemporary secularism – in contrast to earlier, Enlightened and more positive secular movements – which has given birth to the bizarre clamour for the pope’s head.

    [Read the whole thing]
    My Comments:
    A devastating indictment of the intellectual lameness of the modern-day secularists and the "new atheists".

    (Hat tip: Eric Scheske)

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    On the Difference Between Sin and the Cafeteria

    Matthew Archbold distinguishes between being a sinner and being a cafeteria Catholic:
    ... We all sin. But that doesn't make us cafeteria Catholics. The real difference is that cafeteria Catholics simply don't acknowledge sin.

    While we all transgress, a committed Catholic will still judge themselves against an established standard. We will inevitably fall short of those standards but we still strive to achieve it and emulate ourselves after Christ to the best of our ability.

    The cafeteria Catholic may act in very much the same manner as a faithful Catholic but simply removes all that striving. When confronted with a discrepancy between their will and the teachings of the Church they simply change the standards based on what they feel is right for them. And let's face it, when we set our own fungible standards, sin becomes impossible because our decision making becomes the standard of behavior.

    We all fall short of the standard. The cafeteria catholic just lowers the standard.

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    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Digest of Today's Posts (19 April 2010)

  • "That Morning in Late April ... Oklahoma '95"

  • Are Calls for Collective Penance for the Sex Abuse Scandal an Exercise in Blame Shifting?

  • New Book: Acting White

  • The Bishops Strike Back Against Dissenting Women Religious [UPDATED]

  • Five Years Ago Today... "Ratzinger!" [UPDATED]

  • Labels:

    "That Morning in Late April ... Oklahoma '95"

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    Are Calls for Collective Penance for the Sex Abuse Scandal an Exercise in Blame Shifting?

    Writing at National Catholic Register, Mark Shea provides an answer:
    ... The notion of doing penance for others is a tricky one, particularly when those others are fellow Catholics who have wronged us by their sin and especially when those others are, in fact, the very priests who have been entrusted with the Tradition that bids us to do penance for others. It’s incredibly easy for the guilty parties to use such things as penance as a sort of tool for dissolving their actual guilt for actual sins in a sort of collective pool of “Well, we’re all sinners” or even “Hey! You are to blame for letting me sin!” or some other blame-shifting nonsense. One of the common themes to emerge from the scandal has been that monsters like Fr. Maciel would indeed abuse their victims and then lay the guilt for the abuse on the victim. And depending on how psychologically strong the victim was, that burden of guilt would often be accepted. It is not the least of that man’s crimes and may God have mercy on his soul for it.

    So it’s not too surprising that calls for Catholics to do penance for these sins often get interpreted as blame-shifting. However, I would submit that this is not, properly understood, how we who bear no personal responsibility for the Scandal should understand the call to penance. Penance does not mean “take the fall and bear the blame so that guilty people can skate or dissolve their sense of responsibility for the crimes in the Collective”. Penance is, in the Christian tradition, our participation in the innocent suffering of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. Our tradition tells us that Christ who knew no sin, became sin for our sake so that we might become the righteousness of God. He bore the sins of the world, but he did not commit the sins of the world. He was blameless, and opened not his mouth, says Isaiah. Similarly, in Christ, Paul declares that he fills up in his flesh what is lacking with respect to the suffering of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church (Colossians 1:24). That doesn’t mean “Jesus didn’t do enough so I have to make up for his well-meaning but inadequate effort on the Cross.” Rather, it means that as Christians, we bear the cross with Jesus and offer our innocent sufferings in union with His for the good of others—including others who are sinners as guilty as hell...

    (Hat tip: Darwin at The American Catholic)

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    New Book: Acting White

    Friend of this blog and frequent St. Blog's commenter, Stuart Buck, has written a new book titled Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation.

    Definitely check it out.

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    The Bishops Strike Back Against Dissenting Women Religious [UPDATED]

    Yesterday, I reported my Bishop's response to the "Catholic" groups, including the women religious who signed the Network statement, who worked overtime to undermine the Bishops authority and pro-life witness during the health care debate.

    Today, I read where Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, has denied a group of Network-statement-signing women religious the use of diocesan resources for which they had asked to utilize for promotional purposes:
    A Pennsylvania bishop has denied a women religious order's request to recruit using diocesan media due to the sisters' open dissent of the U.S. bishops in supporting the recent health care reform.

    Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg wrote a letter on April 8 to the Sisters of St. Joesph in Baden, Pennsylvania, declining their request for promotional support from parishes in the Greensburg diocese for a vocations program at their convent on April 25.

    The leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph recently signed a letter written by the women religious social justice group NETWORK, who on March 17, urged the House of Representatives to vote in support of health care reform. Two days prior, Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, denounced the health care bill in a statement for its provision of federally funded abortions.

    Expect the usual caterwauling from the usual suspects: "Oh, this Bishop is being spiteful and short-sighted by denying these hard-working sisters the ability to promote vocations within the diocese."

    Yeah, whatever. I'm sure the Bishop knows of plenty of faithful groups of women religious to which the diocese would be better served by directing its resources.

    More on the rupture between the Bishops and groups of liberal women religious:
    WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the yearlong battle over health-care reform came to a head last month, an open dispute over public funding for abortion exposed deep fissures within the Church. Some bishops’ conference staffers privately worried that “polarization in political life is being transferred to ecclesial life.”

    During the final week of the bruising health reform negotiations on Capitol Hill, Network, a self-described “national Catholic social justice lobby,” endorsed the Senate bill that was about to be voted on in the House of Representatives. In doing so, they called into question the U.S. bishops’ objections to provisions dealing with abortion funding and conscience protections.

    Network wasn’t the only Catholic group to challenge the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which emerged as the chief pro-life critic of the bill: The Catholic Health Association’s endorsement had already incensed pro-life advocates. Network’s public letter of support for the Catholic Health Association provided additional political cover for the bill’s defenders, who argued that it preserved the status quo on federal funding of abortion.

    A month later, the U.S. bishops and conference officials are still angry.

    “In the past, we have worked with Network on immigration reform, and they attend some meetings of our coalition,” said Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the bishops conference. “But working in a coalition requires trust. Network can’t have it both ways: it can’t benefit from the bishops’ advocacy and then undercut them at a strategic moment.”

    Appleby’s sense of betrayal was echoed by Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., who recently wrote Sister Carol Keehan, the Catholic Health Association president, to request that the CHA drop a Catholic hospital in his diocese from membership. Any “association with CHA is now embarrassing,” he said.

    “Your enthusiastic support of the [health-care reform] legislation, in contradiction to the position of the bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public and caused serious scandal for many members of the Church,” wrote Bishop Tobin.

    Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., prohibited the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pa., whose leadership team signed Network’s letter endorsing the bill, from receiving diocesan media or parish support for their vocation recruitment effort.

    (Hat tip: Opinionated Catholic)

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    Five Years Ago Today... "Ratzinger!" [UPDATED]

    Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when Pope Benedict was elected? I was reading Amy Welborn's former blog, Open Book, when the news came that "Habemus Papam!"

    One of the first things Sarah and I did immediately after learning the results of the conclave election was to purchase some Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club t-shirts - the ones that say "Truth is not determined by majority vote."

    I was still a wet-behind-the-ears blogger at the time, having started this blog just one month before. Here are a few of my posts regarding the election of a new pontiff following the death of John Paul II:

    First Ballot: Ratzinger Not Elected Pope

    "Habemus Papam!" - Pope Benedict XVI

    Personal Reflections on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

    Mark Shea: Why Democrats Can't Connect With Religious Voters

    Pope Benedict XVI: Enemy of Jihad

    Peggy Noonan: "Why They Ran"

    Andrew Sullivan: Benedict XVI to Unleash "Ferocious Culture War"

    Coining a Term: "Ratzenfreude"

    "Life on the Rock" - On Location in Rome With "Benedict XVI Priests"

    Bill O'Reilly on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

    Pat Buchanan: "Behind the Rage at Benedict XVI"

    Most U.S. Catholics Support Choice of Pope

    Many of those posts are a reminder that the people who are currently attacking Pope Benedict hated him all along and, indeed, began attacking him even BEFORE he was elected; and their attacks went into overdrive in the immediate aftermath of his election. (Read all of Amy's April 2005 archives for coverage of more of the same kind of stuff.)

    Today's anti-Benedict hatred is just more of the same.

    May God bless and keep His servant, Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI, and give him many more years. Ad Multos Annos!

    Opinionated Catholic has an example of the people who hated Ratzinger all along (i.e. the joke of a mag called U.S. Catholic) getting their digs in at him on the 5th anniversary of his pontificate:
    Hans Kung has thrown down the gauntlet with his open letter to the world's Catholic bishops, including a six-point plan for reforming the church. Kung's advice, which culminates in a call for a new council, is wise and even, despite his reputation, much of it undeserved, as a theological renegade.

    More controversial will be his account of the pope's five-year tenure, which he catalogs as a series of missed opportunities on ecumenism, relationships with Jews and Muslims, a revisionist interpretation of Vatican II and its liturgical reform, and now most seriously with the sex abuse crisis.

    Kung's critique is a fair one, and I'd go as far as to say that in these five years the Ratzinger papacy has lurched from catastrophe to catastrophe, beginning with the Regensburg speech of 2006, continuing with the unconditional rehabilitation of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, and culminating in the international sex abuse crisis, which is only going to get bigger...
    Blah, blah, blah. Pope Benedict isn't a liberal. Waaaaaaah!

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    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Bishop Blair: "Health Care and a House Divided"

    Because I was out of town when this came out, I'm a couple of weeks late to this.

    In the most recent issue of The Catholic Chronicle, Bishop of Toledo Leonard Blair explains the USCCB's opposition to Obamacare, praises pro-life politicians who took a stand, and calls out - by name - a group of sisters in the Toledo Diocese who signed the Network statement in favor of Obamacare:
    Health care and a house divided


    ... Almost everyone agrees that we need health care reform. For years the U.S. bishops have appealed to moral principles as a basis of reform, including a special concern for the poor and most defenseless. As pastors and teachers we welcome the effort to make health care available and affordable to all. Whether the new legislation is the right way to go about it is subject to a legitimate diversity of opinion. It is certainly not an article of Catholic faith.

    The defense of unborn human life, however, is an article of faith. When it comes to abortion we cannot remain silent if the government intends to fund and/or facilitate abortion and health plans that cover abortion.

    There is certainly a grave moral blindness in this: that the murder of the voiceless and nameless unborn should be reduced to one “social issue” among others, a “political position” of relative importance to other social benefits. Imagine if the political price for the passage of health care reform were the reintroduction of racial segregation in southern schools. This would rightly lead to moral indignation and block passage of the bill. However, the murder of 50 million unborn children in our country is seen as a legitimate “choice” and is tossed about like a football in the political field.

    Whether or not the new health care legislation maintains the legal status quo of the last 30 years prohibiting government funding for abortion is a matter of debate. Most pro-life Democrats are convinced that what they managed to wring out of the White House and their party leadership at the 11th hour does indeed preserve the status quo. The best legal advice our Bishops’ Conference has received is that these pro-life Democrats are wrong. Perhaps only time will tell, but in the meantime we must do everything possible to ensure that federal law does not fund, promote or facilitate abortions or impose abortion on consciences.

    As if the political and cultural challenges were not grave enough, we also see illustrated in the church the words of our Lord: “A house divided cannot stand.” Both the Catholic Health Association (CHA) and Network (a lobbying group claiming to represent 59,000 Catholic sisters) simply dismissed as false and unfounded the grave concerns not only of the bishops but also of pro-life members of Congress regarding abortion in the proposed legislation. The head of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, has called what the sisters did a “brave and important move” worthy of the organization’s “gratitude and support.”

    A Network spokesperson was quoted as saying: “This is politics; this isn’t a question of faith and morals.” Let us look more closely at this claim.

    At the very moment that pro-life legislators, subjected to great pressure and even vilification, were working valiantly to change the health care bill so that it would uphold the status quo of federal protections against abortion, these “Catholic” groups were pulling the rug out from under them, as everyone immediately recognized. There is no doubt that this was a calculated political act, but certainly not one in keeping with Pope John Paul’s words that even the “right to health … is false and illusory if the right to life … is not defended with maximum determination” (Christifideles laici, n. 38).

    Last year, Pope Benedict reiterated the need for “a mature and committed laity” who are not merely “collaborators of the clergy” but “co-responsible for the Church’s being and action.” Co-responsibility, however, is founded on the obedience of faith by clergy and people alike to the deposit of faith. Nor does co-responsibility mean equality without distinctions. With the flock we bishops too are Christ’s sheep, but we have also been called by Christ and ordained to sanctify, to teach and to govern His people.

    Canon Law, reflecting the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, says that the Christian faithful have a right and even a duty to make known their opinion, but “without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence towards their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons” (CIC, 212). None of these conditions was met by the action of the Catholic Health Association and Network.

    Finally, and very sadly, I must point out that in our own diocese the Sisters of St. Francis, Tiffin, were among the signers of the Network statement. Support for health care reform is commendable, but not at the expense of efforts by the bishops and committed pro-life members of congress to protect both the unborn and consciences.

    I call upon the Tiffin Franciscans and all the other communities of sisters who signed the Network statement to rededicate themselves to the Catholic teaching reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council that “abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Gaudium et spes, 51), and to defending with “maximum determination,” as Pope John Paul said, “the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights,” including the right to health. I also invite the sisters to join me and the tremendously dedicated pro-life people of our diocese in attending the annual “Right to Life March” in Washington and participating in events like “Forty Days for Life,” prayer vigils, and other visible signs of moral and spiritual support for an end to the scourge of abortion in our country.

    [Read the whole thing]
    (emphasis added)

    My Comments:
    Thank you, Bishop Blair, for your unflinching CATHOLIC leadership of this diocese. God bless you.

    By the way, does anyone think Bishop Blair might keep the actions of the sisters who signed the Network statement - in direct opposition to the Bishops - in mind as he continues his investigation ... sorry, "doctrinal assessment" ... of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious?

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    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Carter-Appointed Judge Declares National Day of Prayer "Unconstitutional"

    Can a judge declaring Thanksgiving as a national holiday "unconstitutional" be far behind?
    This decision will likely be overturned, but it’s always fun to point out judicial lunacy.
    A federal judge on Thursday struck down the federal statute that established the National Day of Prayer, ruling that it violates the constitutional ban on government-backed religion.

    “[I]ts sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function,” a Wisconsin judge wrote in the ruling, referring to the 1952 law that created the National Day of Prayer.

    “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience,” wrote the judge, Barbara B. Crabb.
    Issued from the pen of George Washington on October 3, 1789:
    By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

    Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness...
    I mean, a national holiday for the purpose of giving thanks to the Almighty (not to mention kicking off the "holiday season" leading up to the celebration of the birth of Christ)?

    Heaven ... (oops) ... judge acting as our robed master ... forbid.

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    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Regular Guy Paul on the Link Between Fiscal and Social Conservatism

    (Hat tip: The Cranky Conservative)

    From a speech delivered by our old friend Regular Guy Paul last Saturday:
    ... Imagine if you will a society that embraced abortion, euthanasia, easy divorce and gay marriage, and that denigrated family life and religious faith. Could such a society, placing personal pleasure above family responsibility, ever show enough self-reliance to adopt fiscally conservative policies geared towards smaller government and lower taxes? I have a pretty good imagination, but I can’t imagine that. Could such a society find among its numbers enough young men with the courage and spirit of self-sacrifice to maintain its ability to defend its borders and its interests? I don’t believe so.

    Likewise, would a people who turn first to government for the answer to every problem be likely to show the sense of responsibility necessary to defend life and family? I seriously doubt it.

    I could go on in this vein, but I think you see my point. Our conservatism can be comprehensive, or it can be incomplete. And if incomplete, then it will be unstable and unworkable in the long run...

    [Read the whole thing]
    The Cranky Con expands on the Regular Guy's thesis:
    ... This is a great summation of the nexus between social and fiscal conservatism. I would also remind folks of how often “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” politicos wind up sticking to their guns on the latter but not so much on the former – see Schwarzenegger, Arnold.

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    Inside Catholic: "Shroud Skeptics Bump against Science" [UPDATED]

    An interesting post on the Shroud of Turin at Inside Catholic:
    ...Experts in many disciplines have added to the growing body of knowledge about the Shroud of Turin: Physicians, historians, botanists, chemists, artists, anthropologists, physicists, textile consultants, and photographers. Their collective assessment is that, while we do not know how the image was made, we do know how it was not made. The confounding of science thus far forces a certain respect for the artifact, whatever one believes it to be: a holy relic, a pious work of art, a 14th-century hoax...

    Incidentally, I recently watched an excellent History Channel documentary titled "The Real Face of Jesus?", which "follows a team of graphic experts as they use cutting-edge 3D software to bring a holy relic known as the Shroud of Turin to life".

    It was a very sympathetic portrayal of the Shroud as quite possibly being authentic. Apart from a weird and completely unnecessary tangent the program takes regarding 1st and 2nd century Gnosticism, this documentary is one I can highly recommend.

    Promotional images from the History Channel special, "The Real Face of Jesus?"

    Let me just say that, if the image on the Shroud truly is that of Jesus, the 3D image that the software engineer created is surely the most accurate depiction of what our Lord actually looked like that will ever be produced. For me, the most interesting part of the program was when the researchers took a bust of Christ that was produced from the 3D image and placed it over a document scanner to produce an almost-identical replica of the face on the Shroud.

    I was also pretty amazed to see the uncanny likeness of the computerized 3D image the researchers created to the portrayal of Christ by Jim Caveziel in "The Passion of the Christ".

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    USAToday on NBC, the Turin Olympics, and the Shroud (or Lack Thereof)

    USAToday: NBC Chooses to Keep the Faith Out of Olympics — For Now

    Mention of Shroud Absent From Turin Olympics Opening Ceremonies

    Holy or Hoax, Shroud Still a Draw

    One Reporter's Futile Attempt to See the Shroud of Turin

    Criterion Online Provides "Olympic Coverage With a Catholic Twist"

    Shroud of Turin Would Outdraw Winter Olympics

    Before the Olympics, Turin Had the Shroud

    What I'm REALLY Looking Forward To During the Turin (Torino) Olympics ...

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    Media: Pope is Just Like Bin Laden; Let's Kill Him

    Matthew Archbold reports at National Catholic Register:
    The media has been fanning the flames of anti-Catholicism this month and now a columnist for the state owned ABC in Australia is comparing the Pope to Osama bin Laden and asking, “Why not bomb the Vatican, and riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames?”


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    Happy 100th Anniversary, Diocese of Toledo!

    From the Diocese of Toledo's website:
    Foundation Day Mass: Celebrating 100 Years in the Diocese of Toledo

    Foundation Day Mass: April 15, 2010
    2:00 pm
    Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral

    Established as a diocese April 15, 1910 by Pope Pius X, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo encompasses 8,222 square miles in a mixture of urban and rural areas that spans 19 counties in Northwest Ohio. The diocese includes Allen, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot counties.

    We will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Toledo with a special Mass at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral. Bishop Blair will be joined by Archbishops and Bishops from around the country for this special occasion.


  • Attendance at the Foundation Day Mass requires a ticket and seating is limited. Please contact the Chancery at 419-244-6711 x. 104 for more information.

  • The Diocese of Toledo and the Media Technology students of Central Catholic High School will be producing a LIVE video stream of the Mass. You can watch online by visiting and clicking the banner that says, "Anniversary Mass. Watch LIVE."

  • You can also download and print a copy of the program for the Mass by clicking here (Adobe Reader required).

  • Click here to watch the Toledo City Council present Resolution 181 honoring the Diocese's 100 years in Northwest Ohio.

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    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Congressional Pro-Life Democrats? "They're All Phonies"

    That's the conclusion reached by the Cranky Con as he examines an email Ramesh Ponnuru received from a "friend with experience on Capitol Hill":
    ... Even if they are in relatively safe districts I think the story needs to be told about how Oberstar, Kildee, and Doyle were the true traitors to the pro-life position. Stupak gets all the heat, but Oberstar, Kildee, and Doyle did all the work to undermine Stupak and leave him isolated. If Oberstar or Kildee had stood with Stupak I bet this would have had a different outcome...
    Read more at "It Wasn't Just Stupak".

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    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Compassionate, Non-Violent Lefties Spread the Love

    Gateway Pundit reports: "GOP Official & Boyfriend Savagely Beaten For Wearing Palin Pins – Including Broken Leg, Jaw, Concussion… Media Silent".

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    Prominent American Jews Come to Pope's Defense

    Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and Harvard Law Professor Alan Derschowitz defend Pope Benedict against media onslaught.

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    Mark Shea on "Media Distractions"

    Writing at Inside Catholic on the media's "Get Benedict" campaign, Mark Shea hits one out of the park:
    As the Mysterious Get Benedict Society campaign to destroy Pope Benedict XVI continues shooting itself in the foot with various false starts, half-baked stories, and tales told by mainstream media idiots, the thing that continues to impress me is the sheer self-contradictory irony of the thing. It's really quite crushing.

    We are instructed (just as a pedophile priest might have told one of his victims) that our proper response to the media as Catholics ought to be gratitude for the massive eruption of unapologetic lies that have been told about Benedict over the past month because, you know, we depend on them as the mediators of truth and light, and we would live in darkness but for their ministrations. So yeah, even though they may have committed a few peccadilloes in the performance of their sacred duty, still it would be foul ingratitude for any Catholic to offer them anything but abject thanks for the debt we owe them in saving us. Indeed, we are to take it for granted that, with the sole exception of the fact that the MSM has pretty much gotten everything dead wrong in the whole "Benedict, the Nazi pope, protected perverts and endangered The Children" narrative it has ginned up for the past month, it mostly got everything right. On the other hand, those who question that narrative are "deflecting blame" and not taking that "searching and fearless inventory" of Benedict's wretched moral failings that the MSM are just about to discover after several false starts, lying headlines, and craptastic pieces of lousy reportage.

    That much we talked about previously in this space.

    But, nothing daunted by their ignorance and transparent malice, the MSM marches on in its war on Benedict, determined to get the Nazi pope, even if they have to completely
    throw aside all their journalistic ethics to do it.

    Much of this is due to pride and vanity as much as to malice against Benedict and the Catholic Faith. When a journalista has documentably screwed up not just once but multiple times in his hysterical vendetta, he presses on, hoping that he can find some sort of dirt to prove that he is the brave crusading journalist and not a hack with a grudge who is afraid of looking stupid. So we keep getting a succession of dramatic "Ah-HA!" flourishes from the press, with the assurance that this time, for sure, they've nabbed the Nazi with the goods.


    Bottom line: The laicization was not a punishment being imposed on the disgusting padre. It was a request made by the disgusting padre, who didn't want to be a priest anymore. It came to Cardinal Ratzinger's desk, not as, "Here's a pervert who needs a canonical trial and a good hard boot in the butt," but as, "Here's one of a jillion other priests who are bailing on their vows."

    Moreover, the CDF didn't refuse his request. It granted it in 1987. What it did was . . . subject it to bureaucratic due process, beginning with a standard form letter. Why? Because gobs of priests were requesting laicization in the 1970s and 1980s in order to marry their girlfriends, and John Paul said, in the early 1980s, "Put the brakes on all those laicization requests." So the CDF fed it into the hopper like all those other requests and, as with all those other requests, basically said, "Hey! Not so fast with the laicization. Think about the good of the universal Church." The "good of the universal Church" was not code meaning, "Cover up the pervert or it will make us all look bad," but rather jargon meaning, "Priests can't just blow off their vows because they want to get married. We're not giving out laicizations like Pez dispensers here."

    So Benedict is guilty . . . of following due process in making a final symbolic gesture that tells a priest that he may no longer legally function as a priest. Burn him!

    Or, alternatively, the Righteous might consider learning what they are talking about. Press who wander about chattering about "defrocking" are in something of the same league as the experts who tell us that the pope wears green to Mass to indicate his
    support of environmentalism. They are, in fact, ignorami posing as "Vatican Insiders" ...

    [Read the whole thing]

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    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Ross Douthat: Media Attacking the Wrong Pope [UPDATED]

    The one (but still annoyingly equivocal in a "Please like me, liberals" sort of way) voice of reason at The New York Times points out that the media are going after the wrong Pope:
    ... But there’s another story to be told about John Paul II and his besieged successor. The last pope was a great man, but he was also a weak administrator, a poor delegator, and sometimes a dreadful judge of character.

    The church’s dilatory response to the sex abuse scandals was a testament to these weaknesses. So was John Paul’s friendship with the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The last pope loved him and defended him. But we know now that Father Maciel was a sexually voracious sociopath. And thanks to a
    recent exposé by The National Catholic Reporter’s Jason Berry, we know the secret of Maciel’s Vatican success: He was an extraordinary fund-raiser, and those funds often flowed to members of John Paul’s inner circle.

    Only one churchman comes out of Berry’s story looking good: Joseph Ratzinger. Berry recounts how Ratzinger lectured to a group of Legionary priests, and was subsequently handed an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down.

    This isn’t an isolated case. In the 1990s, it was Ratzinger who pushed for a full investigation of Hans Hermann Groer, the Vienna cardinal accused of pedophilia, only to have his efforts blocked in the Vatican. It was Ratzinger who persuaded John Paul, in 2001, to
    centralize the church’s haphazard system for handling sex abuse allegations in his office. It was Ratzinger who re-opened the long-dormant investigation into Maciel’s conduct in 2004, just days after John Paul II had honored the Legionaries in a Vatican ceremony. It was Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, who banished Maciel to a monastery and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into his order.

    So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright
    ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

    Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no.
    [ED.: For what personal "shortcoming" does the Holy Father owe "contrition"? Didn't the Pope come to America and personally meet with abuse survivors and offer apologies on behalf of the Church? Oh, yes. I almost forgot this is Ross "See, I can be 'reasonable' just like my liberal peers" Douthat.] Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. [ED.: Because it's not like there has been completely unfair and libelous media coverage coming from your own rag, or anything, for the Vatican to be the least bit defensive about, right?] Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance. [ED.: Not everyone is as worried about being "liked" by the intelligentsia as are certain columnists acting as the "house conservative" for certain leftist rags.]

    But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope.
    (editorial commentary added)

    Writing at The American Catholic (and citing to Douthat's column), Michael Denton asks whether John Paul II is still "the Great".

    Here's my response:
    The failure to adequately address the sex abuse scandal was the great failing of the JPII papacy.

    Yet I came into the Church in 2004 – just after the height of the scandal in the U.S. in 2002. Not only was the Church’s poor handling of the crisis NOT an impediment to me, but I have my doubts that I would be here but for JPII. I had loved John Paul and considered him “the Great” for well over 20 years before I ever entered the Church.

    I think there can be no doubt to anyone who saw the entirety of JPII’s papacy and witnessed his compelling presence on the world stage – his contribution to the fall of Eastern European communism, alone, in my view, merits the sobriquet “the Great” – that such a title is apt.
    And my follow-up:
    ... That said, the love I feel for Benedict is a much more personalized love, like one might have for a kindly old grandfather or a favorite uncle. He might not be a “great” man, but, more importantly, he is a “good” man. And that is why I am so angered by these unfair attacks upon his character.

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