07 December 2010

The Twelve Days of a Large Family Christmas

Pearl Harbor Day Reflection

Pearl Harbor Day Reflection
COLUMBIA, SC, CAMP MCREADY– At roughly the halfway point of my Abbreviated Introduction to the Army course, along comes the Day That Will Live in Infamy. While in Hawaii in July 2010, my wife and I made some time to get down to Ford Island with the then-brand-new camcorder. One profound aspect of the memorials there is the juxtaposition of the USS Missouri museum with the USS Oklahoma memorial:
From Shaun Schafer:
The surprise raid on the U.S. Pacific Fleet and air bases at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor left 21 ships heavily damaged or sunk. The Oklahoma was one of only three not to return to service.The other two, the USS Arizona and USS Utah, remain on the floor of the harbor. The Arizona, which has a gleaming white memorial astride it midship, remains a tomb for most of its lost crew. The Utah rests on the harbor floor, largely forgotten.The Oklahoma wound up hundreds of miles from the harbor, resting in a grave of her own making, in the crushing depths of the Pacific Ocean.“The way she went down just proves that she had a mind of her own, and was a great lady right to the end,” Goodyear said.
While it’s a great thing that there is no lingering resentment over the Second World War, the neglect of the history bears review.
The rest of the story of BB-37 is the stuff of classical tragedy:“Sold for scrap, she was en route to the West Coast when she mercifully broke her tow and sank. . .” In the background of the shot of the Oklahoma memorial sits the flip side of the coin, USS Missouri:
Sometimes you’re the hero; other times, the footnote, per the Fickle Finger of Fate. I’ve met a few survivors of brushes with greatness. Most understand that the distance between hero and footnote is measured in tiny units of Fortune. Real heros often don’t take their heroism too seriously, grasping that much of it is pure circumstance. Not infrequently, it’s affixed after the fact by non-participants seeking to organize events.Should one’s turn come, one hopes that preparation and Destiny drives toward a Missiouri outcome. A reading of the Book of Job, however, instructs that, sometimes, Oklahoma will be the result.As has been noted:
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.–Job 1:20-21

05 December 2010

No Sheeples Here: They Lowered Their Guns On A Miraculous Christmas Eve In 1914

No Sheeples Here: They Lowered Their Guns On A Miraculous Christmas Eve In 1914
World War I had been raging for a year. One million souls had already perished in the conflict. On Christmas Eve 1914, British and German troops stood face to face in trenches divided by “No Man’s Land” along the Western Front.

The winter of 1914 was bitter. The soldiers, unequipped to face the rigors of the cold and rain, found themselves wallowing in a freezing mire of mud and the decaying bodies of the fallen.

The men entrenched there could not help but have a degree of sympathy for his enemy who was having just as miserable a time as they were.

On the eve of the “Truce”, the British Army was manning a stretch of the line running south from the infamous Ypres, a small Flemish market town, just over the border from France, for twenty-seven miles to the La Bassée Canal.

Numerous support associations on both sides flooded the front with gifts of food, warm clothes and letters of thanks. With their morale boosted and their bellies fuller than normal, and with still so many Christmas goodies on hand, the spirit of the season entered the trenches. A British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches. It was accompanied by a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate Christmas.

Longing for the warmth of hearth and home, the story goes that German soldiers began singing “Stille Nacht” or Silent Night from their trenches. British troops began to sing Christmas carols too. Thus began the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Along many parts of the line the Christmas Day truce was initiated through sadder means. Both sides saw the lull as a chance to get into No Man's Land and seek out the bodies of their fallen brothers-in-arms and give them a decent burial.

It is comforting to believe that the legacy of the “Christmas Truce”, nearly hundred years later, soldiers and officers who were told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill and the hope of peace on earth that Christmas Eve.

It was one of the few bright moments amid the slaughter of the Great War, in which fourteen million people were killed.

Read more:

02 December 2010

No Sheeples Here: Pressing The Local Population Into Unwilling Martyrdom

No Sheeples Here: Pressing The Local Population Into Unwilling Martyrdom

…and awesomely sending that insurgent to his 72 virgins. Star Trek, Star Wars....take your pick, ‘cuz here we come!

Just in time for Christmas, the U.S. Army has a new present for soldiers battling a fierce insurgency in Afghanistan.

After more than five years of development, American forces are using the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a pinpoint accurate and programmable grenade launcher that the military expects to be a "game changer" in its counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.

The ultra-lethal XM25, which looks like something out of a James Cameron sci-fi flick, is a "smart" grenade launcher that carries four small warheads and features an array of sights, sensors, lasers and a short barrel the size of a small cannon.

The weapon fires 25-mm. shells up to 2,300 feet, almost half a mile, and can program the shell to explode at a precise point in space, allowing troops to kill enemies hiding behind walls and rocks and inside trenches or buildings.

For example, if a group of insurgents is hiding behind a wall, a soldier can program one of the XM25's rounds to detonate a few feet past the wall to shower the insurgents with lethal fragmentation from behind.

"With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever," Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, the project manager for the weapon, told Fox News. "Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away."

21 November 2010

Today is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Next Sunday being the First Sunday of Advent, a new liturgical year begins.  This poster, shamelessly swiped from Father Zuhlsdorf's blog,, is a more than apt reminder of what Advent means to Catholics the world over.

In Father Z's own words, posted today on his blog: 
"In the older, traditional calendar there is no special liturgy for this Sunday.   This is a poignant way to point toward the seamless cycle of the Church’s representation of the mysteries of salvation.  In the newer calendar we are focused also on the end times in the Feast of Christ the king.
We simultaneously long for the Second Coming of the Lord – that is what Advent is about, by the way, the Second Coming in glory and judgment – and we dread it.  Early Christians prayed with longing “Come! Lord, Come!”  In later centuries the sense of longing was replaced with sober realization of what we will endure on the day of His Coming.
Both of these attitudes can help us in our own day to be concerned with joyful sobriety, sober joy, about the meeting we will have with the Lord when He comes.  Do not forget that the last day of your life is going to be an anticipation of the Second Coming.   As Augustine wrote: Qualis in die isto quisque moritur, talis in die illo iudicabitur (ep. 199.2).
In death your life will be laid bare.  In the Second Coming itself, the Lord will lay bare all things.   That which we have endured in life with patient perseverance and sometime suffering shall be given explanations.
St. Augustine explained that the Lord’s judgments are obscure to us now, but later they will be made clear.  Justice in this life is imperfect.  In the life to come it will be perfected.
All that which He has permitted to happen now, will be given reasons and explanations and we will finally see the perfect justice even behind what now is hidden and challenging.
The Church’s year presents us anew with the unchanging mysteries of our salvation.  But year year we are a little different and closer to the moment when the Lord’s hidden justice and judgments will be revealed.   Do not be content to leave yourself straying on your life’s path toward your judgment with the knowledge of your saving Faith as it was when you were fresh from catechism as a child.  Some people do.  Do not leave yourself cold on the this path without the warming effect of works of mercy.
Live in sober joy, or joyful sobriety about the state of your soul even as you follow your mapway toward the Coming Lord through our Holy Church’s mysterious years of waiting."

15 November 2010

No Sheeples Here: “Smittyvators”

No Sheeples Here: “Smittyvators”


Monday, November 15, 2010

The caveman from Cheeselandia, whose obsession with Automotivators and Danica Patrick is renowned, is at it again—this time on a subject close to my heart.

TrogloPundit has some “Smittymotivators” posted at his place to honor the studmuffin we know and love, Chris “Smitty” Smith of The Other McCain. Smitty is being deployed to Afghanistan in time for Christmas.

Smitty’s taking his fedora global and I wanted to join in on the fun.

Read more:

12 November 2010

No Sheeples Here: Sometime They'll Give A War And Nobody Will Come

No Sheeples Here: Sometime They'll Give A War And Nobody Will Come

Skillful wordsmith, gleeful humorist, devotee of the female form, master of the comma, friend—these are but a few of the descriptives I attach to Smitty of The Other McCain.
I would not swap the favor of kings for the friendship of Chris “Smitty” Smith. I have “known” Smitty for two of the three-and-a-half years I’ve been blogging. I remember reaching out to Smitty when No Sheeples Here was a fledgling site.
Countless times, Smitty and Stacy linked to this blog and helped to drive traffic my way. I owe both gentlemen a great debt for helping to grow my readership.
Often, there would be an email in my inbox from Smitty with an idea for a Photoshop™. Smitty’s sense of humor and his deft use of words would bring a delightful and humorous twist to a story that was breaking on the Intertoobs.
In Cogadh No Sìth Smitty writes, “I hold orders to activate in mid-November and report to Kabul, Afghanistan in time for Christmas. Bandwidth and latitude for skylarking online will not exist until the end of 2011.”
It is difficult for me imagine The Other McCain being bereft of Smitty’s postings.
Smitty is a tender soul. A little over a year ago I received one of those emails from him that I mentioned above. In it, he asked if I would create a graphic in remembrance of LCDR Robert Randolph Elseth for Project 2996.
In his post for September 11, 2009 he wrote of Elseth:
The Crown of Life Bob wore,Invisible yet ever present:Worthy of Christian striving.The unfathomable Will of God,Placing him in the PentagonOn that day is joyous and bitter.Calling him home so soonImmortalizes his memoryWithout hugs for the remaining.Though my wife would object,At the time, I, a bachelor,Would have cheerfully traded places.Did you get that? He would have cheerfully traded places with Bob on that horrible day when the Pentagon was attacked on September 11, 2001. You can almost visualize the tears rolling down Smitty’s face. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.”
Smitty is a man of faith. For his impending deployment, Psalms 18:32-36 seems most appropriate:
“It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.”
Smitty is a patriot. For us he reminds, “And that the attitude that must be presented to the enemies of liberty; Taliban in Afghanistan, or Progressives closer to home. Thinking you stupid, they will continue to say that you ‘vote against your own interest’, and turn down their bread-and-circus substitutes for Liberty. Liberty ain’t cheap, and rejecting Progressivism may resemble pain for a while. That’s not pain. That’s Socialist weakness leaving the country, and don’t let these liars sell you otherwise. Stand and deliver, the way a Progressive cannot, for, at heart, modern Progressivism is a synonym for cowardice.”
Give the enemy hell while you are in country, Smitty. We will wait right here for you in prayer and thoughts of friendship and thankfulness that men of courage fight so that we may live in freedom. Godspeed.

10 October 2010

The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil
The Problem of Evil
Posted by Dr. Peter Kreeft • October 10, 2010 • Printer-friendly
The Problem of Evil
The problem of evil is the most serious problem in the world. It is also the one serious objection to the existence of God. No sane person wants hell to exist.
The problem of evil is the most serious problem in the world. It is also the one serious objection to the existence of God.
When Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote his great Summa Theologica, he could find only two objections to the existence of God, even though he tried to list at least three objections to every one of the thousands of theses he tried to prove in that great work. One of the two objections is the apparent ability of natural science to explain everything in our experience without God; and the other is the problem of evil.
More people have abandoned their faith because of the problem of evil than for any other reason. It is certainly the greatest test of faith, the greatest temptation to unbelief. And it's not just an intellectual objection. We feel it. We live it. That's why the Book of Job is so arresting.
The problem can be stated very simply: If God is so good, why is his world so bad? If an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, all-just, and all-powerful God is running the show, why does he seem to be doing such a miserable job of it? Why do bad things happen to good people?
The unbeliever who asks that question is usually feeling resentment toward and rebellion against God, not just lacking evidence for his existence. C. S. Lewis recalls that as an atheist he “did not believe God existed. I was also very angry with him for not existing. I was also angry with him for having created the world."
When you talk to such a person, remember that it is more like talking to a divorce than to a skeptical scientist. The reason for unbelief is an unfaithful lover, not an inadequate hypothesis. The unbeliever's problem is not just a soft head but a hard heart. And the good apologist knows how to let the heart lead the head as well as vice versa.
There are four parts to the solution to the problem of evil. First, evil is not a thing, an entity, a being. All beings are either the Creator or creatures created by the Creator. But every thing God created is good, according to Genesis. We naturally tend to picture evil as a thing—a black cloud, or a dangerous storm, or a grimacing face, or dirt. But these pictures mislead us. If God is the Creator of all things and evil is a thing, then God is the Creator of evil, and he is to blame for its existence. No, evil is not a thing but a wrong choice, or the damage done by a wrong choice. Evil is no more a positive thing than blindness is. But it is just as real. It is not a thing, but it is not an illusion..
Second, the origin of evil is not the Creator but the creature's freely choosing sin and selfishness. Take away all sin and selfishness and you would have heaven on earth. Even the remaining physical evils would no longer rankle and embitter us. Saints endure and even embrace suffering and death as lovers embrace heroic challenges. But they do not embrace sin.
Furthermore, the cause of physical evil is spiritual evil. The cause of suffering is sin. After Genesis tells the story of the good God creating a good world, it next answers the obvious question “Where did evil come from then?” By the story of the fall of mankind. How are we to understand this? How can spiritual evil (sin) cause physical evil (suffering and death)?
God is the source of all life and joy. Therefore, when the human soul rebels against God, it loses its life and joy. Now a human being is body as well as soul. We are single creatures, not double: we are not even body and soul as much as we are embodied soul, or ensouled body. So the body must share in the soul's inevitable punishment—a punishment as natural and unavoidable as broken bones from jumping off a cliff or a sick stomach from eating rotten food rather than a punishment as artificial and external as a grade for a course or a slap on the hands for taking the cookies.
Whether this consequence of sin was a physical change in the world or only a spiritual change in human consciousness—whether the “ thorns and thistles” grew in the garden only after the fall or whether they were always there but were only felt as painful by the newly fallen consclousness-is another question. But in either case the connection between spiritual evil and physical evil has to be as close as the connection between the two things they affect, the human soul and the human body.
If the origin of evil is free will, and God is the origin of free will, isn't God then the origin of evil? Only as parents are the origin of the misdeeds their children commit by being the origin of their children. The all-powerful God gave us a share in his power to choose freely. Would we prefer he had not and had made us robots rather than human beings?
A third part of the solution to the problem of evil is the most important part: how to resolve the problem in practice, not just in theory; in life, not just in thought. Although evil is a serious problem for thought (for it seems to disprove the existence of God), it is even more of a problem in life (for it is the real exclusion of God). But even if you think the solution in thought is obscure and uncertain, the solution in practice is as strong and clear as the sun: it is the Son. God's solution to the problem of evil is his Son Jesus Christ. The Father `s love sent his Son to die for us to defeat the power of evil in human nature: that's the heart of the Christian story. We do not worship a deistic God, an absentee landlord who ignores his slum; we worship a garbageman God who came right down into our worst garbage to clean it up. How do we get God off the hook for allowing evil? God is not off the hook; God is the hook. That's the point of a crucifix.
The Cross is God's part of the practical solution to evil. Our part, according to the same Gospel, is to repent, to believe, and to work with God in fighting evil by the power of love. The King has invaded; we are finishing the mop-up operation.
Finally, what about the philosophical problem? It is not logically contradictory to say an all-powerful and all-loving God tolerates so much evil when he could eradicate it? Why do bad things happen to good people? The question makes three questionable assumptions.
First, who's to say we are good people? The question should be not “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but “Why do good things happen to bad people?” If the fairy godmother tells Cinderella that she can wear her magic gown until midnight, the question should be not “Why not after midnight?” but “Why did I get to wear it at all?” The question is not why the glass of water is half empty but why it is half full, for all goodness is gift. The best people are the ones who are most reluctant to call themselves good people. Sinners think they are saints, but saints know they are Sinners. The best man who ever lived once said, “No one is good but God alone. “
Second, who's to say suffering is all bad? Life without it would produce spoiled brats and tyrants, not joyful saints. Rabbi Abraham Heschel says simply, “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?” Suffering can work for the greater good of wisdom. It is not true that all things are good, but it is true that “all things work together for good to those who love God.”
Third, who's to say we have to know all God's reasons? Who ever promised us all the answers? Animals can't understand much about us; why should we be able to understand everything about God? The obvious point of the Book of Job, the world's greatest exploration of the problem of evil, is that we just don't know what God is up to. What a hard lesson to learn: Lesson One, that we are ignorant, that we are infants! No wonder Socrates was declared by the Delphic oracle to be the wisest man in the world. He interpreted that declaration to mean that he alone knew that he did not have wisdom, and that was true wisdom for man.
A child on the tenth story of a burning building cannot see the firefighters with their safety net on the street. They call up, “Jump! We'll catch you. Trust us. “ The child objects, “But I can't see you.” The firefighter replies, “That's all right. I can see you.”
We are like that child, evil is like the fire, our ignorance is like the smoke, God is like the firefighter, and Christ is like the safety net. If there are situations like this where we must trust even fallible human beings with our lives, where we must trust what we hear, not what we see, then it is reasonable that we must trust the infallible, all-seeing God when we hear from his word but do not see from our reason or experience. We cannot know all God's reasons, but we can know why we cannot know.
God has let us know a lot. He has lifted the curtain on the problem of evil with Christ. There, the greatest evil that ever happened, both the greatest spiritual evil and the greatest physical evil, both the greatest sin (deicide) and the greatest suffering (perfect love hated and crucified), is revealed as his wise and loving plan to bring about the greatest good, the salvation of the world from sin and suffering eternally. There, the greatest injustice of all time is integrated into the plan of salvation that Saint Paul calls “the righteousness (Justice) of God”. Love finds a way. Love is very tricky. But love needs to be trusted.
The worst aspect of the problem of evil is eternal evil, hell. Does hell not contradict a loving and omnipotent God? No, for hell is the consequence of free will. We freely choose hell for ourselves; God does not cast anyone into hell against his will. If a creature is really free to say yes or no to the Creator's offer of love and spiritual marriage, then it must be possible for the creature to say no. And that is what hell is, essentially. Free will, in turn, was created out of God's love. Therefore hell is a result of God's love. Everything is.
No sane person wants hell to exist. No sane person wants evil to exist. But hell is just evil eternalized. If there is evil and if there is eternity, there can be hell. If it is intellectually dishonest to disbelieve in evil just because it is shocking and uncomfortable, it is the same with hell. Reality has hard corners, surprises, and terrible dangers in it. We desperately need a true road map, not nice feelings, if we are to get home. It is true, as people often say, that “hell just feels unreal, impossible.” Yes. So does Auschwitz. So does Calvary.

01 October 2010

Works and Days » From the Unbelievable to the Passé

Works and Days » From the Unbelievable to the Passé
From time to time I stop and wonder how the unbelievable can become the accepted. Let me list four arbitrary, but still representative, examples of what I mean.
1) Embracing unworkable statism.
Everywhere one looks statism is a failure. Contrast resource-rich Venezuela with Chile. Juxtapose Cuba to Colombia. Of course, compare Dark Age North Korea with the 21st-century South. Look at the UK in 1954 and 1990.
They are rioting in Europe not to embrace socialism, but in petulant fashion to find someone somehow to pay for it — as if “they” and “them” are partying in some remote Aegean island, with vaults of stashed euros.
Whether hard communism or soft socialism, statism does not work. We all know why — it goes against human nature, rewarding mediocrity and punishing merit, professing egalitarianism for the masses, while the operators of the system, whether the old Soviet apparatchiks or the new crony EU Brussels bureaucrats, satisfy their appetites like capitalists. Ultimately, it is simply like coasting on a bike uphill. The last hard peddles are simply not enough to push the bike and rider over the hill: finally the brilliant small manufacturer, the lean contractor, the enterprising farmer, the late-into-the-night engineer — they cannot carry any longer the clerk, the auditor, the regulator, the tax man, and the bureaucrat who wish not merely to piggy-back onto the biker, but to try to stop his peddling even as they demand to get over the crest.
Yet we are finishing a second year of absorbing banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and the health care system, borrowing trillions to redistribute in new entitlements, with more lust for equality of ends notions like cap and trade and immigration amnesty. Any House member who went along with all this and lives outside a blue-gerrymandered district or San Francisco or Chicago cannot run on the Obama agenda.
The entire statist protocol polls well below 50%. Past leftist candidates like Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, George McGovern, or Walter Mondale could not get elected on their visions; those who did (Carter and Clinton) either imploded after a single term or triangulated and so found a way to a two-term presidency despite never getting 50% of the popular vote.
Statism versus free markets is about as easy to understand as the difference between Singapore and Greece, and yet here we go again. This weird suicidal statist impulse seems for Obama to trump almost every other consideration: he may well destroy the Democratic Party for a decade just when it was recovering; he has so terrified private enterprise that trillions of dollars in capital are simply sitting out his first two years, waiting for the end of his congressional majorities, and hence his agenda to implode.
All this goes on as Obama sees the EU running away from precisely what he wishes to implement, while at home a high-tax, high-entitlement, redistributive economy like California has managed to destroy the most richly endowed human and natural landscape — agriculture, tourism, high-tech, oil and gas, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Silicon Valley — in the nation. And yet here we continue down into the abyss.

2) Higher education.
Most of what we are told about universities is untrue. America’s reputation for higher learning excellence (in business, sciences, medicine, engineering, and finance) is despite not because of the humanities and social sciences. Current research in the liberal arts (the portfolio the English or sociology prof is tenured on) increasingly has almost no relevance to the general public or applicability to teaching or even scholarly merit.
Diversity is Orwellian: the university is the most politically intolerant and monolithic institution in the country, even as it demands the continuance of tenure to protect supposedly unpopular expression. Even its emphases on racial diversity is entirely constructed and absurd: Latin Americans add an accent and a trill and they become victimized Chicanos; one-half African-Americans claim they are more people of color than much darker Punjabis; the children of Asian optometrists seek minority and victim status.
Meanwhile on the labor front, liberal faculties prove far more illiberal than K-Mart. Part-time faculties now account for 40% of the units offered at many universities, earning 30-40% of the wages per unit of full professors, and mostly without benefits. There is no outrage from those who customarily damn CEOs from the lounge. Tuition rises faster than both inflation and the cost of health care, and yet the twin promises of a BA degree are no longer kept: today’s graduates are not so likely to get a choice job, and are not certified as literate in English or competent in math.
At some point, all this cannot go on, and we will have the academic version of September 15, 2008 — as parents no longer choose to take on $200,000 in debt to send their children to 4-year liberal arts schools, in which they will be likely indoctrinated that they should oppose the very American institutions that created the wealth and freedom that fuel their colleges and pay their faculties.
We have in a way already reverted to the sociology of the 19th century of an elite and a non-lettered mass, but without its benefits. One-hundred years ago, very few went to college. Only a well-schooled elite did, as the rest learned through the school of hard knocks. (My grandfather never went to college, but used to chant to me when I came home from college his high-school Latin “amo-amas-amat” as he irrigated the vineyard at 82.) Today we try to graduate almost everyone, in the process ensuring that for 4-6 years they are not apprenticing at anything other than Starbucks, “The Poetics of the Low-rider,” and university psycho-dramas over dating and oogling. I wonder whether today’s entering freshman is any better educated than someone in 1890 who was farming at the same age. I note that 50% of incoming freshmen at the CSU system must take remedial math and English. I suppose the new Obama student loan take-over in part is designed to protect the status quo, ossified university that staffs his administration and provides the fire for so many of his agendas.

3) Technology.
I remember as a little boy going to the Big Fresno Fair to see the “picto-phone,” huge monstrosities that we were told one day would allow us to phone and simultaneously see the other person on the other end of the line. Then quietly in the 1970s all that disappeared and the idea became Edsel-like.
But wait — suddenly without as much as a whimper one can Skype across the globe for free. Is not that a revolution in the human experience that has transpired without notice?
The current technological revolution is stealthy like that. The advancing pace of change is geometric but not the human reaction to it, which devolves to quiet indifference. So we look at terrorists in Waziristan from Las Vegas and decide in judge/jury/executioner fashion whether the big face on the screen lives or dies that nano-second. And sigh? I fly to an airport, have a minute, and access over 60 million words of the corpus of ancient Greek literature in between flights. Big deal?
The strange thing is that none of this has been quite factored into fossilized metrics that supposedly quantify the standard of living, poverty rates, GDP, etc. In the grocery line not long ago, two teens were chatting in Spanish to relatives by iPhone in distant Mexico. Are they impoverished or enjoying a privilege exclusive to royalty just forty years ago? Today’s Kia is more comfortable and electronically sophisticated than the Rolls and Bentley of just 20 years ago — and available to drive off to anyone with a credit card for the down payment. Surely, our social and political barometers of success and failure have simply not caught up to the technological revolution, more like horse-and-buggy calibrations trying to quantify gasoline engines.

4. The Plutocratic party?
I cannot fathom how the Democratic Party became run by those who live lives nothing remotely similar to what they profess. Yes, I know the Roosevelt-Kennedy tradition of limousine liberals, but today’s chasm between word and deed is stunning — and never remarked on. Are we to believe that prep-schooled and Ivy Leagued millionaire Barack Obama is the blue-collar face of the Democratic Party, while one of twelve children John Boehner is some sort of J.P. Morgan insider rich man? No wonder that Obama must fake his cadences, bowl, and try to eat cabbage instead of arugula.
The Al Gore, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros phenomenon is baffling. The best I can make of it goes something like this. Once someone makes enough money truly to be exempt from worries over taxation (but even Kerry proved that $1 billion does not quite end the impulse to dodge sales taxes), or is deeply burrowed within government so that almost everything is free or subsidized, then some sort of human desire to help the “other” kicks in as a sort of penance for the enjoyment of privilege.
How could Barack Obama, community organizer par excellence, send his kids to Sidwell Friends? How does Bill Gates, Sr. tour the country, hectoring to re-impose inheritance taxes? Did Al Gore need the extra Montecito home or John Kerry the $7 million yacht (cf. “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money”)? Why did the Clintons shake down corporations for gifts to their DC home and Bill’s library?
Stranger still is this new Democratic emperor/bread-and-circus alliance. The very wealthy promise largess to the poorer on the premise that both despise the culture of the aspiring, the one in condescending disdain, the other in bitter envy. Jimmy Carter laments, near life’s end, the unfairness of it all, as the ignorant never appreciated his godhead. John Kerry wails about how a slogan or two misled us from his message. Obama re-channels the poor clueless clingers trope from the Ground Zero mosque to the upcoming election. “What’s the matter with Kansas?” is the gnashing of the well-off who cannot understand why the less well-off don’t join them in redistributing their far smaller incomes.
The final irony? Lost in all this sanctimonious moralizing by the Bill Maher/Michael Moore/George Soros left is that there is redistribution going on constantly. In every extended family someone has done pretty well. What happens? He loans money to cousins. She puts up a nephew in the extra bedroom, gives a lot to her church, pays for bats at Little League, takes her daughter’s fellow Brownies to pizza, or co-signs the nephew’s car loan.
The upper-middle-class is not greedy, but they do have three reservations about the Obama pie-slicing: they want to have a little say in the distribution; they better than Obama know how much they can afford to give; and they sense that something for nothing is not a neutral act, but a sort of evil in creating dependency and destroying initiative — all for that selfish feeling of benefaction among elites that comes from handing out someone else’s money.
No, I cannot quite believe how quietly and without audit America’s moneyed and cognitive elites became such hectoring populists — with the constant assumption they could still live, school, work, and marry largely among like kind — oh so distant from the objects of their concern.

30 September 2010


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man...
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Blessed Saint Gabriel, Archangel We beseech you to intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy: As you announced the mystery of the Incarnation to Mary, so through your prayers may we receive strength of faith and courage of spirit, and thus find favor with God and redemption through Christ Our Lord. May we sing the praise of God our Savior with the angels and saints in heaven forever and ever. Amen. Pietro Perugino

Blessed Saint Raphael, Archangel, We beseech you to help us in all our needs and trials of this life, as you, through the power of God, didst restore sight and gave guidance to young Tobit. We humbly seek your aid and intercession, that our souls may be healed, our bodies protected from all ills, and that through divine grace we may become fit to dwell in the eternal Glory of God in heaven. Amen. Macrod Oggiono

29 September 2010

Wounded Warrior Indoor Obstacle Course Test (IOCT)

The 5 Biggest Lies about Liberalism

The 5 Biggest Lies about Liberalism

The 5 Biggest Lies about Liberalism
5. Multiculturalism - If you haven't seen the billboards yet, liberals love multiculturalism, they embrace all races and religions because they believe in diversity. True? Nope.Liberals follow the left's paradigm of waging class warfare. Their interest in minorities extends only to enlisting some disenfranchised groups in their class warfare. Contrary to all the multicultural billboards, liberals are primarily interested in unsuccessful minorities, because they can frighten them, exploit them and farm them as voting blocks. Successful minorities such as Asians, Indians and Jews are wanted only as window dressing. And get the short end of the stick when a real issue comes up.
Multiculturalism is really only class warfare disguised as opposition to bigotry. Take away all the historical revisionism about the Democratic party's ugly civil rights history and the empty slogans about diversity, and what you have left is naked political opportunism. The Democratic party trafficked in racism when it suited them (and still does) and dons the halo of tolerance when it suits them now. The left was equally at home working both sides of the street, and the views of great socialists from Jack London to Karl Marx on race, differed little from those of the Nazi party.Multiculturalism isn't a philosophy, it's a political organization tactic to bring the groups they consider part of the working class under one umbrella. It's the same old class warfare organizational tactics applied to race and ethnicity. The goal of these tactics is not empowerment, but to create a voting bloc of people who have been convinced that they're doomed to helplessness, without the leadership of the left "fighting" on their behalf.Liberals can still be and often are bigots. Their bigotry is just informed by political necessity. As a bonus, having the "diversity" brand allows them to describe the opposition as bigots, without ever being called out for their own bigotry.

4. Feminism - We all know of course that liberals are the biggest feminists out there, except when they're running against a woman. Or when a woman accuses their candidate of rape or sexual harassment. Like multiculturalism, owning the feminist brand has been convenient. And it was easy enough to manage once feminism became a wholly owned product of academia, funded by liberal groups like the Ford Foundation. This brand of feminism has as much to do with equal rights for women, as African Studies have to do with equal rights for African-Americans. They're basically little more than ways to repackage the agenda politics of the far left in identity colors. That way socialism can be dressed up as a civil rights agenda, and opposition to it becomes racism or sexism.
That leads us to the absurd spectacle of academic feminists declaring that successful female candidates who don't share their politics are not feminists, but male candidates who do, are. Dig down to their real definition of feminism, and it turns out to be liberalism. None of this has anything to do with women, just as multiculturalism has nothing to do with race. Take away the disguises, and you end up with the same old ideology marketed to target groups as a political organizing tactic. It's no different than selling cereal, except the cereal is red and comes with a few dozen textbooks. Liberals are not interested in empowering women, except to work for them or vote for them. There is no philosophical commitment here to equality for women, only a sales pitch for liberalism.

3. Friends of the Poor - We know liberals are against poverty, right? Otherwise why all that talk of making the rich pay their fair share. But if you actually look at socialist countries, the poor aren't exactly coming out ahead. What's the problem? The problem is that liberals are not into enriching the poor, but removing what they consider the upper class, and turning over control of the economy to themselves. But a centrally planned economy leads to more poverty, not less. Take away the ability to go up the economic ladder, and how can poverty end?It can't. But ending poverty was never the idea. Wealth redistribution is a neat catchphrase, but the reality is that the rich and the middle class are purged to make way for a new rich and middle class composed of party members. Their brand of equality is not about helping the poor, but putting themselves in charge and imposing an artificial standard of fairness in order to build a perfect society. Before Communism came to Russia, the poor begged on the street. After Communism, begging was illegal and the poor were deported to labor camps as parasites. Because once society is made equal, anyone who's still unequal must be an exploiter or a parasite.
You can't end poverty, except through opportunity, and that's the one thing their social system doesn't offer. It's why America under Obama is poorer than ever. Jobs aren't created by confiscating wealth, but by encouraging free enterprise. But when the goal isn't to create jobs, but to create a static society where everyone knows their place, then their way is best. All totalitarian movements are at their heart, reactionary. Even if they're cloaked in red t-shirts and rock concerts. And reactionary movements are often spearheaded by an upper class trying to deny social mobility to the working class. And when you take a magnifying glass to liberalism, that's exactly what it looks like. Of course this isn't an original observation. Orwell's Oceania in 1984 worked on the same exact principle. Orwell was warning about the rise of a totalitarian left with no regard for human rights. But it's already here.

2. Pro-Peace - The left is peaceful in the same way that active volcanoes are gentle, and tsuanmis are a good way to cool off after a long summer day.Look around the world at the left of center regimes, and you come away with a horror show of constant conflicts. (The left explains this as the result of vast conspiracies by reactionary forces against the freedom loving peoples of the world and their friendly dictators.) And then count how many liberals wear t-shirts with King or Gandhi on them, and how many wear t-shirts with Che on them.If you read the official talking points, you would have no idea that America fought most of its wars in the 20th century under Democratic Presidents. Or that the enthusiastic revolutionaries of the USSR and China between them accounted for more dead, than would have been produced by a nuclear war.
But being pro-peace is yet another talking point. The left is not pro-peace, it's against wars being fought by their political opponents. Take a measure of how much coverage anti-war protests received under Bush, and how much coverage they receive under Obama. The war hasn't gone away, even the protests haven't entirely gone away (mostly by the same Marxist-Trotskyist groups that were running them all along) but the coverage has gone down the rabbit hole. Then let's take a walk back to WW2, when American liberals went from being anti-war when Hitler invaded Poland, to being pro-war when he invaded the Soviet Union. The Trotskyists of the era remained anti-war and the Communist party in the United States helped the authorities deal with them. Because suddenly war was in their interest.The liberal position on war is that they are against it, unless they are for it. And then when it's over, they are against it, because it didn't accomplish all their goals. Liberals were against WW2, before they were for it, but then they were against it, once those GI's weren't wearing down German tanks anymore, but blocking Soviet tanks from "liberating" the rest of Europe. Liberals were for Israel, when England was against Israel, but they were against Israel, when Arab tanks forwarded from the Soviet Union were being blown up by the damned Israelis. An easy way to sketch out the liberal position on a war, is to check the political ideology of the government fighting it and how it accords with their own politics, the political ideology of the enemy they are fighting against, and the effect on any left wing regimes. Add all that up and you get the liberal position on the war. The further left you go, the higher the bar goes. Liberals will support wars by liberal governments against developed countries they consider reactionary. They will generally oppose all wars by conservative governments. They will generally oppose wars by liberal governments against undeveloped countries, sometimes even when those countries are reactionary, unless the government conducting the war is far to the left. There are ideological complications and rivalries in the mix. There's also the human factor. Some American liberals did support the American invasion of Afghanistan initially, but the left never did. A handful of liberals actually thought the American program was within their own ideology, but they were primarily British, and were quickly ostracized for it. On the other hand, George Galloway, who openly supported Saddam, is still considered a hero of the people. Because as bad as Saddam worse, the general agreement is that America was worse, because it represents capitalism and people with jobs. Which are not things the left likes.And there you have it. The left's commitment to peace. Or rather a commitment to anti-war rallies, when the war in question doesn't seem to be in their interest, and isn't being waged to protect a left-wing country, or a group that the left is allied with.

1. Patriotic - Every now and then liberals like to claim that they're patriotic. Usually around an election. Of course they're not patriotic in the "wear a flag on your lapel" kind of way. They're more patriotic in the "point out everything wrong with your country and then threaten to move to Canada if you don't win the election" way. Which is fine. America has seen patriots like that before. They used to wear green coats and moved to Canada, right around the time the last British troops left New York on Evacuation Day.Occasionally when in power liberals will actually try to brand their opponents as traitors or unpatriotic, but like a dog trying to talk, it never sounds right. Mostly they have to defend themselves against charges of being unpatriotic, particularly when they've been caught attending a church whose rousing hymn is "God Damn America". It's a challenge being patriotic, when you don't believe in American Exceptionalism, or even the value of the Nation-State. When you think that the world would run better if everyone just listened to what the UN tells them to do. When you think that its history is the story of how rich Europeans murdered all the natives and built smokestacks over their graves in order to plunder South America of its fruit-- being patriotic really requires contortionism that would put any circus acrobat to shame.
That's probably why liberals don't do the patriotism thing very well. It's hard to spit in someone's face one day and then hug them the next. For liberal politicians, patriotism is one of those unfortunate election season things they try to get through as quickly as possible. And hope no one asks them if they believe in the Constitution. When they're forced to, they will say something vague about America's heritage of tolerance, and imply that the WW2 GI's were fighting for socialism, civilian trials for terrorists and opposition to tort reform. They're most comfortable around the Civil War and WW2. Anything outside that comfort zone makes them itchy. They will pose next to Old Glory when they have to, if they have a relative who fought in a war, they will bring him up. If he's not dead, they will drag him out. If he is dead, they will dig him up. But just don't ask them any questions about the application of their vaunted patriotism. Or why if they're so patriotic, they can't actually get behind their country in wartime.Of course they will answer that true patriotism means undermining your country in wartime. Which means that Benedict Arnold was the original patriot.Take away these 5 and what do you have left? Nothing but a political ideology that seeks power and will use any rhetoric and trick to get it. And that is the real face of modern day liberalism.

22 September 2010

Wednesday Open Thread: Hale Edition

Wednesday Open Thread: Hale Edition

Today, in 1776, soldier and spy Nathan Hale was executed by the British. His purported last words were, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

21 September 2010

The American Spectator : Mike Pence's Hillsdale College Speech on the Presidency

The American Spectator : Mike Pence's Hillsdale College Speech on the Presidency

Mike Pence's Hillsdale College Speech on the Presidency

By on 9.20.10 @ 8:08PM

The prepared text of the speech Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence delivered Monday night at Hillsdale College.

President and Mrs. Arnn, Mr. John Cervini, Mr. David Bobb, Elliot Gaiser, College Republicans and each and every one of the faculty and students of Hillsdale College here today.… As I am sure you know, honor is what allows us to do what is right despite the cost. Even greater honor is required to do what is right in the face of superior power. And the greatest honor is to stand strong even if it means standing alone.
The long fight of Hillsdale College, standing alone -- then and now for the proposition that all men are created equal, then with Frederick Douglass, now with Clarence Thomas; then and now in the conviction that, as Americans are not horses, we were not born to have saddles placed on our backs, by anyone, at any time, and for any reason…. This long fight, you have fought for love of ideas that did not come in dreams, or as Reagan said, did not "spring full bloom" from your brow, but "came from the heart of a great nation," rose in a time of unprecedented stress and genius, and since the founding kept this country whole, prosperous, safe, just, free and good.
It is therefore a high honor for me to stand before you in this place so closely associated with the founding of the Republican Party in opposition to the unforgivable sin of slavery; this place where statesmanship is taught as an art, and where right conduct is seen as its own reward. I thank you, and may God bless you for your bravery and courage.
I rise to pay a debt of honor and a debt to history. My subject today is the presidency, and my hope is that you see that institution in a new light and never despair of the republic.
The presidency is the most visible thread that runs through the tapestry of the American government. More often than not, for good or for ill, it sets the tone for the other branches and spurs the expectations of the people. Its powers are vast and consequential, its requirements -- from the outset and by definition -- impossible for mortals to fulfill without humility and insistent attention to its purpose as set forth in the Constitution of the United States.
Isn't it amazing, given the great and momentous nature of the office, that those who seek it seldom pause to consider what they are seeking? Rather, unconstrained by principle or reflection, there is a mad rush toward something that, once its powers are seized, the new president can wield as an instrument with which to transform the nation and the people according to his highest aspirations
But, other than in a crisis of the house divided, the presidency is neither fit nor intended to be such an instrument. When it is made that, the country sustains a wound, and cries out justly and indignantly. And what the nation says -- the theme of this address... What it says, informed by its long history, impelled by the laws of nature and nature's God... What it says quite naturally and rightly, if not always gracefully, is that we as a people are not to be ruled and not to be commanded. It says that the president should never forget this; that he has not risen above us, but is merely one of us, chosen by ballot, dismissed after his term, tasked not to transform and work his will upon us, but to bear the weight of decision and to carry out faithfully the design laid down in the Constitution and impassioned by the Declaration of Independence.
The presidency must adhere to its definition as expressed in the Constitution, and to conduct defined over time and by tradition. While the powers of the office have enlarged, along with those of the legislature and the judiciary, the framework of the government was intended to restrict abuses common to classical empires and to the regal states of the 18th century.
Without proper adherence to the role contemplated in the Constitution for the presidency, the checks and balances in the constitutional plan become weakened. This has been most obvious in recent years when the three branches of government have been subject to the tutelage of a single party. Under either party, presidents have often forgotten that they are intended to restrain the Congress at times, and that the Congress is independent of their desires. And thus fused in unholy unity, the political class has raged forward in a drunken expansion of powers and prerogatives, mistakenly assuming that to exercise power is by default to do good.
Even the simplest among us knows that this is not so. Power is an instrument of fatal consequence. It is confined no more readily than quicksilver, and escapes good intentions as easily as air flows through mesh. Therefore, those who are entrusted with it must educate themselves in self-restraint. A republic -- if you can keep it -- is about limitation, and for good reason, because we are mortal and our actions are imperfect.
The tragedy of presidential decision is that even with the best choice, some, perhaps many, will be left behind, and some, perhaps many, may die. Because of this, a true statesman lives continuously with what Churchill called "stress of soul." He may give to Paul, but only because he robs Peter. And that is why you must always be wary of a president who seems to float upon his own greatness. For all greatness is tempered by mortality, every soul is equal, and distinctions among men cannot be owned; they are on loan from God, who takes them back and evens accounts at the end.
It is a tragedy indeed that new generations taking office attribute failures in governance to insufficient power, and seek more of it. In the judiciary this has seldom been better expressed than by Justice Thurgood Marshall's dictum that, "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up." In the Congress, it presents itself in massive legislation, acts and codes thousands of pages long and so monstrously over-complicated that no human being can read through them in a lifetime -- much less understand them, much less apply them justly to a people that increasingly feel like they are no longer being asked, they are being told. Our nation finds itself in the position of a dog whose duty it is not to ask why, because the "why" is too elevated for his nature, but simply to obey.
America is not a dog, and does not require a "because-I-said-so" jurisprudence to which it is then commanded to catch up, or legislators who knit laws of such insulting complexity that they are heavier than chains; or a president who acts like, speaks like, and is received as a king. The presidency has run off the rails. It begs a new clarity, a new discipline, and a new president.
The president is not our teacher, our tutor, our guide or ruler. He does not command us, we command him. We serve neither him nor his vision. It is not his job or his prerogative to redefine custom, law and beliefs; to appropriate industries; to seize the country, as it were, by the shoulders or by the throat so as to impose by force of theatrical charisma his justice upon 300 million others. It is neither his job nor his prerogative to shift the power of decision away from them, and to him and the acolytes of his choosing.
Is my characterization of unprecedented presumption incorrect? I defer to the judgment of the people, which they will make with their own eyes, and ears. Listen to the exact words of the leader of President Obama's transition team and perhaps his next chief-of-staff: "It's important that President-Elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one." Or, more recently, from the words of the latest presidential appointment to avoid confirmation by the Senate, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wrote last Friday, "President Obama understands the importance of leveling the playing field again."
"Take power… Rule... Leveling." Though it is now, this has never been and should never again be the model of the presidency or the character of the American president. No one can say this too strongly and no one can say it enough until it is remedied. We are not subjects, we are citizens. We fought a war so that we do not have to treat even kings like kings, and -- if I may remind you -- we won that war. Since then, the principle of royalty has, in this country, been inoperative. Who is better suited or more required to exemplify this conviction, in word and deed, than the President of the United States?
The powers of the presidency are extraordinary and necessarily great, and great presidents treat them sparingly. For example, it is not the president's job to manipulate the nation's youth for the sake of his agenda or his party. They are a potent political force when massed by the social network to which they are permanently attached. But if the president has their true interests at heart he will neither flatter them nor let them adore him, for in flattery is condescension and in adoration is direction, and youth is neither seasoned nor tested enough to direct a nation. Nor should it be the president's business to presume to direct them. It is difficult enough to do right by one's own children. No one can be the father of a whole continent's youth.
Is the president, therefore, expected to turn away from this and other easy advantage? Yes. Like Harry Truman who went to bed before the result on election night -- he must know when to withdraw, to hold back, and to forgo attention, publicity, or advantage.
No finer, more moving, or profound an understanding of the nature of the presidency and the command of humility placed upon it has ever been expressed than by President Coolidge. He, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. "The day I became president," Coolidge wrote, "he had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, 'If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field,' Calvin replied, 'If my father were your father you would.' "
While in the White House, President Coolidge's son contracted blood poisoning from an incident on the South Lawn. Coolidge wrote, "What might have happened to him under other circumstances we do not know, but if I had not been president.…" And then he continues, "In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not.
"When he went, the power and glory of the Presidency went with him."
A sensibility such as this, and not power, is the source of presidential dignity, and must be restored. It depends entirely upon character, self-discipline, and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic but life itself. It communicates that the president feels the gravity of his office and is willing to sacrifice himself; that his eye is not upon his own prospects but on the storm of history through which it is his responsibility to navigate with the specific powers accorded to him and the limitations placed upon them not merely by man in his design but by God in His.
The modern presidency has drifted far from the great strength and illumination of its source: the Constitution as given life by the luminous and passionate Declaration of Independence, the greatest political document ever written. The Constitution, terse, sober, and specific, does not, except by implication, address the president's demeanor, but this we can read in the best qualities of the founding generation, which we would do well to imitate. In the Capitol Rotunda are heroic paintings of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the victory at Saratoga, the victory at Yorktown, and, something seldom seen in history: a general, the leader of an armed rebellion, resigning his commission and surrendering his army to a new democracy. Upon hearing from Benjamin West that George Washington, having won the war and been urged by some to use the army to make himself king, would instead return to his farm, George III said, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." He did, and he was.
To aspire to such virtue and self-restraint would in a sense be difficult, but in another sense it should be easy -- difficult because it would be demanding and ideal, and easy because it is the right thing to do and the rewards are immediately self-evident.
A president who slights the Constitution is like a rider who hates his horse: he will be thrown, and the nation along with him. The president solemnly swears to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He does not solemnly swear to ignore, overlook, supplement, or reinterpret it. Other than in a crisis of morality, decency, and existence, such as the Civil War, if he should want to hurry along the Constitution to fit his own notions or designs, he should do so by amendment rather than adjustment, for if he joins the powers of his office to his own willful interpretation, he steps away from a government of laws and toward a government of men.
Is the Constitution a fluctuating and inconstant document, a collection of suggestions the purpose of which is to stimulate debate in a future to which the Founders were necessarily blind? Progressives tell us that even the Framers themselves could not reach agreement in its regard. But they did agree upon it. And they wrote it down. And they signed it. And they lived by it. Its words are unchanging and unchangeable except -- as planned -- by careful amendment. There is no instruction to the president to override the law and, like Justice Marshall, let it catch up to his superior conception. Why is this good? It is good because the sun will burn out, the Ohio River will flow backwards, and the cow will jump over the moon 10,000 times before any modern president's conception is superior to that of the Founders of this nation.
Would it be such a great surprise that a good part of the political strife of our times is because one president after another, rather than keeping faith to it, argues with the document he is supposed to live by? This discontent will only be calmed by returning the presidency to the great first principles. The president should regard the Constitution and the Declaration like an obsessed lover. They should be on his mind all the time, the prism through which the light of all questions of governance passes. Though we have -- sometimes gradually, sometimes radically -- moved away from this, we can move back to it. And who better than the president to restore this wholesome devotion?
And as the president returns to the consistent application of the principles in the Constitution, he will also ensure fiscal responsibility and prosperity. Who is better suited, with his executive and veto powers, to carry over the duty of self restraint and discipline to the idea of fiscal solvency? When the president restrains government spending, leaving room for the American people to enjoy the fruits of their labor, growth is inevitable. As Senator Robert Taft wrote, "Liberty has been the key to our progress in the past and is the key to our progress in the future.… If we can preserve liberty in all its essentials, there is no limit to the future of the American people."
Whereas, at home, the president must be cautious, dutiful, and deferential, abroad, his character must change. Were he to ask for a primer on how to act in relation to other states, which no holder of the office has needed to this point, and were that primer to be written by the American people, whether of 1776 or 2010, you can be confident that it would contain the following instructions:
"The President of the United States of America bows to no man. You do not bow to kings. When in foreign lands, you do not criticize your own country. You do not argue the case against the United States, but, rather, the case for it. You do not apologize to the enemies of the United States. Should you be confused, a country, people, or region that harbors, shelters, supports, encourages, or cheers attacks upon our country, the slaughter of our children, our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, and brothers… are enemies of the United States. And, to repeat, you do not apologize to them."
Closely related to this, and perhaps the least ambiguous of the president's complex responsibilities, is his duty as Commander-in-Chief of the military. In this regard there is a very simple rule, unknown to some presidents regardless of party:
If… and it is perhaps the biggest "if" any president can face, for it will follow not just him but hundreds of thousands or millions of others, not just for the rest of their lives but, in cost of blood and souls, beyond life itself.
If… and it is an "if" that requires long and deep thought, tremendously hard labor at determining the truth of things, a lifetime of education, the knowledge of a general, the wisdom of a statesman, and the heart of an infantryman….
If… after careful determination, intense stress of soul, and the deepest prayer….
If, then, you go to war, then, having gone to war, by God, you go to war to win.
You do not cast away American lives, or those of the innocent noncombatant enemy, upon a theory, a gambit, or a notion. And if the politics of your own election or of your party intrude upon your decisions for even an instant -- there are no words for this.
More commonplace, but hardly less important, are other expectations of the president in this regard. He must not stint on the equipment and provisioning of the Armed Forces, and if he errs it must be not on the side of scarcity but of surplus. And he must be the guardian of his troops, taking every step to avoid the loss of even a single life.
The American soldier is as precious as the closest of your kin -- because he is your kin, and for his sake the president must, in effect, say to the Congress and to the people: "I am the Commander-in-Chief, it is my sacred duty to defend the United States, give our soldiers what they need to complete the mission and come home safe, whatever the cost." Of all the hard choices that Congress may have to make to ensure this, which one of these things alone or in combination is more terrible than the sacrifice of our children or the defeat of our nation?
If, in fulfilling this duty, the president wavers, he will have betrayed his office, for this is not a policy, it is probity. And it is not an expedient artifact of my imagination, it is written on the blood-soaked ground of Saratoga, Yorktown, Antietam, Cold Harbor, The Marne, Guadalcanal, the Pointe du Hoc, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a thousand other places in our history, in lessons repeated over and over again.
The presidency, a great and complex subject upon which I have only touched, has become symbolic of overreaching. There are many truths that we have been frightened to tell or face. If we run from them, they will catch us with our backs turned and pull us down. Better that we should not flee but rather stop and look them in the eye.
What might our forebears say to us, knowing what they knew, and having done what they did? I have no doubt that they would tell us to channel our passions, simply speak the truth and to do what is right, slowly and with resolution; to work calmly, steadily and without animus or fear; to be like a rock in the tide, let the water tumble about us, and be firm and unashamed in our love of country.
I see us like those in Philadelphia in 1776. Danger all around, but a fresh chapter, ready to begin, uncorrupted, with great possibilities and -- inexplicably, perhaps miraculously - the way is clearing ahead. I have never doubted that Providence can appear in history like the sun emerging from behind the clouds, if only as a reward for adherence to first principles. As Winston Churchill said before Congress on December 26, 1941, "He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants."
A long time ago, during the tortured history of Rome, in the fourth century, A.D., Emperor Constantius (son of Emperor Constantine, and of mixed virtue) was faced with an ultimatum backed by what appeared to be a military force impossible to resist. Failure and defeat seemed certain to everyone. But in the morning, when his answer was due, he said to his assembled troops: "Last night, after I retired to rest, the shade of the great Constantine, embracing the corpse of my murdered brother, rose before my eyes, [and] his well-known voice forbade me to despair of the republic."
We, too, have the voices of shades that emerge from the past. We too, have what Lincoln in his First Inaugural called, "the mystic chords of memory stretching from every patriot grave." They bind us to the great and the humble, the known and the unknown -- and if I hear them clearly, what they say is that although we may have strayed, we have not strayed too far to return, for we are, every one of us, their descendants. The sinews are still there, quite lively, waiting to flex. We can still astound the world with justice, reason and strength. I know this is true, but even were it not we could not in decency stand down, if only for our debt to history, the debt we owe to those who came before, who did great things, and suffered more than we suffer, and gave more than we give, and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor -- for us, whom they did not know. For we "drink from wells we did not dig" and are "warmed by fires we did not build," and so we must be faithful in our time as they were in theirs.
Many great generations are gone, but I see them in my mind's eye, and by the character and memory of their existence they forbid us to despair of the republic. I see them crossing the prairies in the sun and wind. I see their faces looking out from steel mills and coal mines, and immigrant ships crawling into the harbors at dawn. I see them at war, at work and at peace. I see them, long departed, looking into the camera, with hopeful and sad eyes. And I see them embracing their children … who became us. They are our family and our blood, and we cannot desert them. In spirit, all of them come down to all of us, in a connection that, out of love, we cannot betray.
They are silent now and forever, but from the eternal silence of every patriot grave there is yet an echo that says, "It is not too late, keep faith with us, keep faith with God, and do not, do not ever despair of the republic."

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana is chairman of the House Republican Conference

17 September 2010

No Sheeples Here: Tea Party Taking Out The Trash?

No Sheeples Here: Tea Party Taking Out The Trash?

Friday, September 17, 2010

From The Boston Herald we learn that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) sent out an email stating that, “The news from Delaware is crystal clear: It’s Sarah Palin’s party now,” Kerry wrote in a fund-raising e-mail titled “Delawow!” He went on to say, “We have to fight back. Click here to contribute right now to make sure we defeat the Tea Party extremists.”
Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds merrily noted, “I think the Tea Party couldn’t ask for any better publicity than to be denounced by a millionaire who dodges paying taxes on his yacht.”
The Tea Party is taking out the trash and Peggy Noonan opines on why it’s time for the Tea Party:
“…at this moment we are witnessing a shift that will likely have some enduring political impact. Another way of saying that: The past few years, a lot of people in politics have wondered about the possibility of a third party. Would it be possible to organize one? While they were wondering, a virtual third party was being born. And nobody organized it.”
”So far, the tea party is not a wing of the GOP but a critique of it. This was demonstrated in spectacular fashion when GOP operatives dismissed tea party-backed Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. The Republican establishment is ‘the reason we even have the Tea Party movement,’ shot back columnist and tea party enthusiast Andrea Tantaros in the New York Daily News. It was the Bush administration that ‘ran up deficits’ and gave us ‘open borders’ and ‘Medicare Part D and busted budgets.’"
America is still a democratic republic, not an aristocracy. “We The People” are concerned with restoring the United States Constitution to its rightful place in our government. The Tea Party is only interested in preserving the country this regime is hell-bent to “fundamentally transform.”
Noonan’s exit question is, “Will the center join arms and work with the tea party?”
They’d better or the career freeloaders with be tossed out with the trash.
Today is Constitution Day. Please enjoy the embedded video below. God bless America.Read more:

15 September 2010


Le Fleur de Lys too: The Catholic Caveman...

Le Fleur de Lys too: The Catholic Caveman...

The Catholic Caveman...
This is one of those articles which will find it into my Cathecism class......More on the Religion of PeaceSo with all the hullabaloo about the Quran burning, I think we have lost sight of something. First as I understand it muslims are to follow the 10 Commandments. Their prophet Mohammed who inspired, was recorded, or wrote (not clear which) the Hadith contradicts the 10 Commandments. We all know the 8th Commandment, "Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness Against thy Neighbor". Some of us have learned that muslims are not only "allowed" to lie, but are encouraged to lie in order defeat the unbeliever (non-muslims). See link for explanations. a Catholic I know of no instance where it is acceptable for me to lie. If I do I must confess my sin because I have put myself outside of God's grace. If I compound that lie by committing the act with the full awareness that I can just go to the closest Priest and confess that would be a presumption of God's mercy. This is also a sin which cannot be absolved unless spoken in a confessional as well to wit your confessor could choose not to grant absolution. That would be extreme but that is the chance you would be taking. In either case regardless of the forgiveness one would receive we learn that we are damaging our souls each time we sin. A Priest once told me that sin is like a nail that gets put into a fresh piece of drywall. When you go to confession the nail gets pulled out but the hole is still there, it cannot be repaired until purgatory. Catholics understand that ANY sin harms the soul and that there are no exceptions to that. Frankly any faith that tells you that you can use the tools of satan (death, force, and deciet) in order to win converts or destroy opposition is being decieved. Muslims must begin to think long and hard on who would benefit if they were lead astray from the 10 Commandments. There is only one I know of and that is Satan. Should this man burn the Quran? In my opinion no, but not because it would offend muslims. I don't think he should because in the end it will make it harder to convert muslims. Thanks and a tip of the beret to the Catholic Caveman.Jhesu+Marie,Brantigny
Posted by Brantigny at 2:27 PM