Friday, October 31, 2008

Novena for Life: Day Six

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:41-51

Jesus said to the crowds, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
Sometimes bread looks like it's living, but it's really not. The yeast which causes a loaf to rise gives it all the appearance of life. But life is a gift only from God. Only God can cause the life to stir deep within a mother's womb. And only God can give us the bread which is eternal life, his flesh for the life of the world.

LITANY
On doctors of life and of truth,
--Lord, have mercy.
On residents who love the little child,
--Lord, have mercy.
On doctors who gaze on life's mysteries,
--Lord, have mercy.
On physicians who see into the womb,
--Lord, have mercy.
On surgeons who heal the unborn child,
--Lord, have mercy.
On all who defend the child in the womb,
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother's wombs,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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When Paul was little, he did not like 80’s music. I should have followed it more closely back then, really. That must have been the first time I started feeling my age, if you don't count when I got out of high school and my friends getting married before I did. I was newly married in '82. There were so many new artists to keep track of. Wait, I can explain! I was caught off guard by the sudden burst of real musicians who actually played their instruments and wrote their own material. I had already learned to ignore popular music in the 70s, in the hopes that disco, and the polyester train it rode in on, would just go away. Bad suits, bad haircuts -- I'm telling you, it was a nightmare.

Of course, now that he's older and wiser, Paul loves 80’s music. Once when I was going through some old magazines, he snatched up a 1987 copy of Rolling Stone that had The Bangles on the cover, and a great piece inside on Los Lobos. That had to be the reason I bought it; it sure wasn't for the article on Hüsker Dü. (I had no idea Paul was so into girl bands. Really.) But there's a trade-off; Sal is just crazy about 70’s music. So for me, there really is no escape. Anyway, this week seems to call for more than one Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, especially if you're getting as sick of some of this political coverage as I am. So, through the magic of YouTube, we present two "literalist remix" versions of hits from the decade that made the 70’s go away.

Well, for most of us.

(h/t to Allahpundit of Hot Air)
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Change

At a recent "Talk the Vote" rally in Minnesota, Dennis Prager gave a very well-received talk about the current political scene. Such testimonials are at their best, not so much when they tell an audience what to think, but how. In this clip, Prager spends a few minutes reminding us of how words carry a precise meaning, and the inherent dangers in creating disorder through the manipulation of words.

"I don't want America changed. It's a dangerous word. I plead guilty to conservatives' fear of change. That is absolutely correct. You tell me where a good society has changed, and become -- "gooder." No, they don't... I don't want change; I want improvement. That's a very big difference..."

Beneath much of the clamor over a need for "change," is a challenge to the very notion of what it means to be America. This is not so much about one party being better than another, as it is about the very idea of deconstructivism, as a means of reforming an orderly society. We do not rest easy in our beds at night when there is rioting in the streets. The only people who benefit from such anarchy, are the anarchists themselves.

Something to think about before we get what we ask for.

(h/t to Ed Morrissey of Hot Air.)
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Mark Steyn

A quotation found in a combox, minding its own business:

"This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama's burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn't really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration. And tonight Chris Matthews' doctors announced that his leg tingle has metastasized leaving his entire body like a vibrating cellphone whose ringtone is locked on 'I'm In Love, I'm In Love, I'm In Love, I'm In Love, I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy.'

"And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange."


H/T to some other guy named David.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Novena for Life: Day Five

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:41-51

Jesus said to the crowds, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
At the beginning of a benediction with the Blessed Sacrament we sing, "You have given us bread from heaven!" That bread is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary's womb. That gift is the Christ, whose Body and Blood are our eternal salvation. So too, from the womb of a mother, the gift of new life is given to us each day. Little lives whom we should consecrate to Christ and entrust to his care. And some day may they receive with us the bread of heaven and rejoice in the flesh given for the life of the world.

LITANY
On Congressmen who work for life,
--Lord, have mercy.
On our President,
--Lord, have mercy.
On the members of the House,
--Lord, have mercy.
On the members of the Senate,
--Lord, have mercy.
On all to little to vote or persuade,
--Lord, have mercy.
On all who work for life,
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother's wombs,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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And now for something completely different...

Baseball season is over.

The Philadelphia Phillies punched out destiny, outlasted Mother Nature and became World Series champions Wednesday night... [they] won their first World Series title since 1980, raced past the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in the completion of the first suspended game in postseason history. The Phillies won the best-of-seven series in five games in front of their frenzied fans at Citizens Bank Park, enduring a 46-hour delay from when the game was stopped Monday night...

Why isn't Creative Minority Report giving us this story? Have they no shame???
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Walk This Way

From the pages of The Divine Mrs M comes the latest celebrity endorsement. It seems that Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith and a lifelong Republican, is coming out for McCain. You won't read about this one in Rolling Stone, but you will in the Boston Herald:

“We pretty much stay out of it, but seeing so many people come out for Obama, I just felt like ‘What the hell, I might as well raise my hand for this side,” Perry said from his Duxbury home... “I’ve been a hardcore Republican my whole life,” he told the Herald. “My mother and father drilled into me from the very start that if you work hard and be positive, you’ll get what you’re working for. I guess I’m living proof of that.”

A coming-out like this deserves a celebration, so we're gonna do it with one of my faves. You can either use this cheesy Guitar Hero version of "Walk This Way" featuring Run DMC (with lyrics in case you and your karaoke friends really wanna get busy with it), or you can click here to see the real and embed-proof thing. [Mild Content Warning.]
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McCain’s Best Argument

...may come from the unlikeliest of places, from someone who really isn't crazy about him at all, and doesn't mind admitting it.

Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator writes: "This is an intellectual exercise, not an endorsement." Fortunately, it's so well done, we'll take it anyway. After all, part of making a wise choice for high office, is to put aside your own personal prejudices, decide not to care whether it's the chic new-age yogurt-eating Birkenstock-wearing thing to do -- and you know who you are, K.N. -- and look at who is simply better suited for the position. It's a lot like conducting a job interview. You wouldn't just fill a company you took over with all your friends, or people who agree with you on everything, would you?
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But will he respect you in the morning?

Since I have cable television, I knew that if I so much as took a little peek at Obama's multi-million dollar dog-and-pony-show las night, I'd be counted among the lemmings. Chris Matthews of MSNBC had that feeling up his leg again (and he really should see a doctor about that). Michelle Malkin provided viewers with her own blow-by-blow account. Matt Archbold of Creative Minority Report did the same with ABC's "Pushing Daisies" -- well, sort of -- from the one network of the Big Three that didn't sign on.

Meanwhile, Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press dug beneath the spin to find the real deal:

Obama's assertion that "I've offered spending cuts above and beyond" the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by "eliminating programs that don't work" masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are - beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A sampling of what voters heard in the ad, and what he didn't tell them...

Go ahead, click on the quote. You know you want to.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Novena for Life: Day Four

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:47-50

Jesus said to the crowds, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
People have always wanted to live for ever. They seek the fountain of youth and spend billions of dollars to still look young. Even our ancestors who grumbled in the desert, received bread from heaven so they could live a few more years. But they died, nonetheless. Whoever eats the Bread which is the Body of Christ, however, will live forever. May we eat that bread as food for the journeys God calls us to make through the deserts of this world, that we might arrive in the heavenly Jerusalem to live with him forever.

LITANY
On those who defend life,
--Lord, have mercy.
On those who love the child in the womb,
--Lord, have mercy.
On those who pray for the unborn child,
--Lord, have mercy.
On all who work to change unjust laws,
--Lord, have mercy.
On all who live the Gospel of Life,
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother's wombs,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Only In Texas...

This week's Tip of the Black Hat and a big "YEE-hah!" go out to The Travis Monitor, for leveling the playing field as only a real Texan can do: "On 10-3 Obama supporters vandalized - trespassed and stole my Palin-McCain sign, violating my 1st Amendment right to free speech. Do it again & you will find out what the 2nd Amendment is all about!!!" The ability to make good on that warning is legal in the Lone Star State. I don't think even an Obama presidency will ever change that.

Thanks, Marybeth, for finding this gem. HOO-rah.
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Joe the American Idol?

I wish I was making this up. Here's the latest from Politico:

Move over, Sanjaya, and tell William Hung the news: Joe the Plumber is being pursued for a major record deal and could come out with a country album as early as Inauguration Day.

"Joe" — aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, a Holland, Ohio, pipe-and-toilet man — just signed with a Nashville public relations and management firm to handle interview requests and media appearances, as well as create new career opportunities, including a shift out of the plumbing trade into stage and studio performances.

On Tuesday, Wurzelbacher joined country music artist and producer Aaron Tippin to form a new partnership...

Maybe Joe won't have to worry about getting a plumber's license after all. He can purchase an insanely big mansion outside of Nashville, marry a supermodel, go through a messy divorce, watch her take half of everything he owns, and he can spend the rest of his life on the celebrity golf circuit.

Like a lot of other country music stars. Oh well, a guy's gotta make a living, right?

(PHOTO: Associated Press. Used without permission or shame.)
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Bambi Meets Bridezilla

I understand how Michael Lawrence of New Liturgical Movement feels when it comes to preparing for Catholic weddings. I've been to such grand events, where every detail down to the flower arrangements on the reception tables was excruciatingly correct, but the Nuptial Mass itself was completely tasteless. And I'm not just referring to the groomsmen wearing black tie before six in the evening.

The "furniture wars" intrigue me. Once upon a time, the bride and groom stood, knelt, and sat, in the same central position before the altar. Now in some places they are situated over to one side, often sitting at one place, standing and kneeling for the vows or blessing in another place. If this is because the altar is too close to the front, that is the result of a bad renovation. Does it ever occur to a parish building committee that the space in front of the altar is not there to keep people away, but to bring certain important events closer? Of course, this is the same dilettante mentality that goes into organizing the "liturgy committee," as we discovered earlier this month. I am also dismayed by the need to break the decorum commonly associated with Sunday Mass (such as it is) whenever possible. If a priest is the least bit inclined toward chattiness or jocularity during moments of Catholic worship, he is more likely to have a field day with it at a Catholic wedding. Naturally, it has to end in applause, as if there are not enough opportunities to whoop it up for the happy couple elsewhere.

Someday, God willing, I'll be in a position to remarry in the Church. When I do, it will be a Traditional Latin Nuptial Mass. At least then I'll know what to expect. So will everyone else. The sung music will be Gregorian Chant in its entirety, with the propers led by a schola. The people will be provided with worship aids that allow them to sing the parts that every Pope of the first half of the 20th century begged them to sing -- you know, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei; what we call the "Ordinary of the Mass." (If I use a setting, I'm thinking of Herrman Schroeder's "Missa Gregoriana," which is based on a chant setting, and has parts for the cantor, schola, and people. Anybody know where to get a copy? If you have RealPlayer, the Kyrie can be heard by clicking here.) Three little words, "smells and bells," will be the rule of thumb. I'll even have the celebrant and his ministers in the procession, since I never did like them just walking out unceremoniously (and the traditional Nuptial Mass generally concedes this part to local custom). Finally, in the wedding program, it will be stated outright that applause for myself and my bride, in the presence of the King, is uncalled for.

My first wedding was in the Byzantine Rite. It was beautiful. I had a choir from my parish in Georgetown sing for that one. In a nod to the Western tradition, they did Mozart's "Ave Verum" for the prelude, and Duruflé's "Ubi Caritas" for communion. People underestimate the positive effect that good taste has in putting people at ease. But as to the event in question, alas, that was such a long time ago...
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Novena for Life: Day Three

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:35

Jesus said to the crowd, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
Imagine never being hungry ever again. No hunger of the stomach. No more hunger of the heart. No more hunger of the soul. Only in Jesus, in eating his Body and drinking his Blood, can we find such food. Let us pray today for all mothers and fathers of little babies, still in the womb. May they be nourished with the Body and Blood of Jesus, so that the little life within them may share in the gift that removes all hunger and meets every human need.

LITANY
On all new mothers,
--Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are alone,
--Lord, have mercy.
On mothers unemployed,
--Lord, have mercy.
On mothers addicted,
--Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are abusive,
--Lord, have mercy.
On young mothers who are afraid,
--Lord, have mercy.
On mothers who are in pain,
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,.
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother's wombs,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Beyond Fifteen Minutes

Work must be slow for Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher. In fact, it's been reported that the plumbing business he was in went under. I'm not sure why, maybe all the media attention and they couldn't get any work done. Maybe the city building inspector's office was in cahoots with big labor to shut them down for dissing The Messiah. So now, he's overheard agreeing with some guy who thinks that a vote for Obama is a vote for “the death of Israel." And Shep Smith of Fox News Channel just has to know why. You can follow the buzz at either Hot Air or The Huffiington Post if you're so inclined. Maybe Joe is way off base, or maybe he's right. Frankly, I don't care. When Joe the Plumber starts being Joe the Pundit, it's a whole new ball game, and he can quit complaining about the press hounding him. That's why he needs to put the brakes on it, and go back to being the reason he became the symbol of what this election is about in the first place.

[THIS JUST IN: There is an initiative to draft Wurzelbacher to run for Congress, to represent Ohio's 9th District, in the 2010 election. He should think twice before accepting.]

[THIS GETS BETTER: Maybe Joe won't have to worry about his plumbing license after all, now that he's found a potential new line of work.]

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Novena for Life: Day Two

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:32-33

Jesus said to the crowd, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
Each time we are hungry, we look for bread. Bread we buy with our pay, bread we are given at a friend's table, bread we take down from the cabinet to make that late night snack. But the bread that truly matters cannot be taken. It can only be given from the altar of the cross, by him in whom we are healed and saved from sin. For when we eat his body, we are filled with his life. And when we walk to the altar today to receive that bread which is communion, may we intercede for all those whom God calls even now from their mother's womb to receive his life. Those little ones who, God willing, will make their first Communion in a half dozen years and receive from him who first gave them life in the womb, the bread that gives them life forever.

LITANY
On all new fathers,
--Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who are alone,
--Lord, have mercy.
On fathers unemployed,
--Lord, have mercy.
On fathers addicted,
--Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who are abusive,
--Lord, have mercy.
On young fathers who are afraid,
--Lord, have mercy.
On fathers who've run away,
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
For you alone who formed us in our mother's womb,
and who call us home to heaven,
are God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Saying What We Mean

People say things they wish they had never said. Sometimes they have to own up to the gaff, and move on. This election year has given two men a pass on that responsibility, which makes you wonder how they might handle certain others.

Barack Obama was interviewed on a talk radio program in 2001. If you wonder whether he really meant all the stuff about "spreading the wealth," when he was talking to Joe the Plumber, you should know this has been a talking point of his for awhile: "...because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that."

I suffered from not being able to follow that.

You have to wonder what sort of "redistribution" he was talking about. When a television reporter in Florida wanted to ask Joe Biden what his running mate meant to say, he responded, "This is a joke, right?" If anyone thinks these two clowns will be any more reasonable than this once they get into office, they might want to consider some of the things Clinton tried to get away with. That is to say, they might, but that was a case where a President was actually impeached, who actually lied on national television, with evasions like depending on what the meaning of "is" is (huh???), and people still gave him a pass.

History has recorded numerous instances of people demanding something, and getting exactly what they wanted. Those who do not exercise care in stating their wishes, often spend the rest of their lives regretting it. Do we really know what is good for us, or do we only know what we want? [OOOOH! THIS JUST IN...] Fox News Channel takes on the usual detractions about a "fake story," as if the 2001 interview was just everybody's imagination, or part of a devious plot between Fox and McCain, as opposed to... oh, maybe, uh, reporting the damn news. You can watch Megyn Kelly put the smackdown on Obama's Head Stooge: "Listen, as you know, I don't appreciate the sarcasm. You can save that for your friends at the other channels. We don't put up with that here." Fox has long been considered the least biased news channel out there. Try telling that to a bunch of condescending elitist twits who are bent out of shape because one channel isn't in Obama's back pocket. Like the rest of them.

One more condescending elitist twit bites the dust. HOO-rah!
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Novena for Life: Day One

God, + come to my assistance.
--Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
--As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

GOSPEL
John 6:26-27

Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."

SILENT PRAYER

REFLECTION
The crowds were thrilled by the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and they kept following Jesus, hoping for more of this marvelous entertainment. But the real miracle was not feeding five thousand with a couple loaves and fishes. The real miracle was meeting all the needs of every man and woman who would ever put his or her faith in him, through the food which is his body and blood. From the moment we stirred in the womb, God gave us a share in his life. In the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, we find eternal life. Through these days, let us pray to the Son of Man, that feeding on his Body and Blood we may intercede for the little baby in the first moments of life and for all who have been forgotten or tossed away.

LITANY
On each child just conceived
--Lord, have mercy.
For their safety and health
--Lord, have mercy.
For nine months of growth
--Lord, have mercy.
That an angel may protect them
--Lord, have mercy.
For peace and for hope
--Lord, have mercy.

PRAYER
God our loving Father,
grant wisdom to those who govern us,
compassion and courage
to those who work to defend human life,
and safety and care to every human being.
Amen.

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street NE, Washington DC 20017-1194
Phone 202.541.3070
Copyright 2001 by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Christus Rex

Today, as the last Sunday in October, is the Feast of Christ the King in the traditional Roman Calendar. Many Catholics believe this feast is of ancient origin, but in fact it is a recent one, having been instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In his accompanying encyclical Quas Primas, he showed how secularism -- the establishment of a society without reference to God -- could lead to apostacy, and ultimately the ruin of society, through a denial of the Kingship of Christ. All laws are just, to the extent that they conform to the natural law, and are in harmony with divine law. When they are not, they cease to be just laws. The role of Catholics in the public square are to bear witness to the need for harmony of law, and thus announce the Kingship of Christ in this world, if not of it.

Having said that, what could I possibly have been thinking when I wrote the following the other day?

"There is nothing wrong with a Federal employee who is a Muslim..."

"Indeed, there is nothing wrong in America with being a Muslim..."


The United States of America was established on the basis of certain inalienable rights, these rights being "self-evident," in that they are granted by the Creator. And while it does not specifically say as much in our founding documents, it has always been understood that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. As those principles are, in turn, understood in this society, they include the freedom to worship as one chooses. It is by having such a freedom, and to the extent that we have a Judeo-Christian society, that Muslims and Buddhists, and other non-Jews and non-Christians, are able to worship freely at all. (I don't mean to say that they should; I mean to say that they are able.) Under an Islamic society, or a Hindi society, this would not be the case. We know this from the persecution of Christians in such societies.

As Catholics, we have the responsibility to spread the true Gospel as proclaimed by the Catholic faith. This is not done by the point of a sword (as was the case with Islam), but in the hope that those who receive this message, do so with a full acceptance of the will. This includes working to ensure that the laws of this land conform to Author of All Justice, He who alone is King of all Creation. This also includes the example we set in our public actions.

The right to life is paramount. Without it, all other rights are forfeit. We cannot allow the State to assume the role of dolling out those rights as its agents see fit. If we elect a man as President who would remove all Federal and State restrictions on abortion, we will do precisely that. Such an edict would be contrary to the Supreme Law. Indeed, it would cease to to even BE law, as a Catholic would rightly understand that term.

That is why, beginning tonight, this page will have a "Novena for Life" for nine days leading up to the election. Each evening at nine o'clock Eastern USA time, a new installment will be posted. I invite my readers to join me each day, in our appeal to our King, for that Justice which is only His to render, that this nation of ours may continue to be blessed, and that we may be spared His reproach.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

“Another Saturday night, and I ain’t got...”

Stuff I wish I could write more about...

• At the parish where I work, I train altar servers for the Traditional Latin Mass. Today I worked with a set of twins. Now don't get me wrong, I love working with these kids. Still, I can never understand why fifth-grade boys in my day could learn the careful movements and the Latin responses, when even older boys have difficulty with either today, especially the Latin. I suppose it's all a matter of environmental conditioning. A century ago, children in one-room schoolhouses learned Latin and Greek and read the classics, while today children can manage complex video games that would leave me completely at a loss. Tonight I did a run-through for tomorrow's Solemn High Mass with three priests I work with regularly. I'll admit it's a change of pace from working with kids.

• I have found it harder to keep up with free-lance writing work. I'm trying to finish my studies at the Art Institute, and am currently completing a project on independent study. Between the need to catch up on advances in the last year -- the move from ActionScript 2.0 to 3.0 as the industry standard, for openers -- and the particular challenges with dynamic web applications and content management systems, the next year could be daunting. I wonder how many middle-aged graphic designers have the same idea for breathing new life into his career. Do they have as much trouble using both sides of the brain as I do?

• In the last year, I find that I tire more easily than before. I can feel my knees hurting when I go up the stairs of my townhouse. It's the beginning of arthritis, I'm sure of it, having first noticed it about two years ago. Without a low-dose aspirin regimen, I would find it difficult even to walk. I go through periods of insomnia, and it's happening again lately. For several nights running, I had repeated dreams about being rejected. One occasion was about the parish where I work. Another was about Boy Scouting. Then the dreams stopped. Now, some people think dreams have these hidden meanings that require specialized therapy. Others dismiss them as meaningless. I take the middle view, that dreams are what you would be thinking about if your conscious mind had nothing better to do.

• Karen Hall of Some Have Hats asks the question that's been bugging the daylights out of me this election year. "What, exactly, is your attraction to Obama?" She is addressing "born again" Christians in particular. Looking at the responses she gets, it's really hard to tell. But she holds her own against the usual adolescent rebellion. I find that so much of the polemics I endure these days comes down to emotional diatribes and ill-conceived witticisms. I also find that if you start with a sound premise, you can outlast virtually all of them. Unless they begin to bore you, of course, then it's a tough call.

• Speaking of calls, I got one today from some guy with a blocked number saying he was with "Card Services." He was reminding me of an upcoming credit card payment, but couldn't tell me which one, until I gave him a couple of choices. That was just to humor him. He claimed his number was blocked for "security reasons." Apparently my security was not an issue. He insisted that if I couldn't reserve a payment from my checking account in advance, I would incur a penalty. I told him I'd handle it online the day I got paid. When he insisted on engaging me on this issue, I pointed out that his inability to speak clearly in complete sentences did not inspire confidence. Then I hung up. (No, I didn't tell him anything.)

• The holidays are coming, of course. I don't try to get too excited about them, having experienced enough of unrealistic expectations when I was married. I'd be content with a simple dinner at my own home with my family -- basically "Sal" and my son Paul. But her sister-in-law loves to cook and entertain, and holidays are always more fun with children around, so we usually end up over at their place. The roads in this area are usually deserted on the holiday itself, with so many people from this town scattering to the four winds the night before, especially Thanksgiving.

• I look forward most of all, to being at the Altar of God, at a Sung High Mass for Christmas at midnight. These days, the occasion just isn't the same without it.
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Obligatory Election Year Ironic Moment

Allahpundit of Hot Air just has to ask...

Question: What’s more ironic than a guy who allegedly conspired to kill cops calling for police back-up to shoo away a reporter?

Answer: A guy in a red-star t-shirt, who helped write “Prairie Fire,” warning that reporter to respect his property rights and stay out of his front yard.

Hey, look at the bright side; at least he believes in somebody's property rights.

Still, you have to wonder, if the cops protecting this loser are the sons of cops he allegedly killed. Or at least, you have to wonder if they wonder. Probably the real reason why they want the camera guy to go away, don't you think?

Or don't you?
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Routine Checks

Earlier this month, I got my new Government ID card. In going on twenty-eight years of Federal service, it is the fifth version of such a card I have been issued. (I'd show it here, but it's against the law to duplicate it. Besides, it says where I work, and you know the rules here...) I must wear it on my person to gain access to a Federal Government building or facility. I had to wear the earlier version of it on the street on September 12, 2001, just to walk around without getting hassled. It is the ID card I wear on a chain around my neck when I'm going through security checks at an airport.

It is also the third ID card I've been issued, with an embedded "smart chip." That's a little computer chip which is supposed to contain pertinent information about the bearer. The previous two versions did not avail themselves of this technology. But they finally figured out how it works, so this one does, with a digital read-out of my fingerprints, among other things.

That's because this card was issued to accompany my having cleared a low-level background check, under the terms of Homeland Security Presidential Directive Number 12, or "HSPD-12." The process began about six months ago, when I filled out the necessary paperwork, when people checked my refereneces both here at work and elsewhere, and when I was fingerprinted for the first time in my life. When I finally got my card, which has my photograph on it (I liked my face on the last one better), it was activated after my right index finger was scanned for verification.

No, wearing this card in an airport security line won't make the TSA guys be nicer to me. But it will tell them that I'm safer than the guy who doesn't have one, all other things being equal.

Now, a low-level background check won't get me into every Government facility. It won't get me into the Pentagon, the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or the West Wing of the White House, without an escort. Those who get into those places on their own need more thorough background checks. The last time I looked into this, those deals cost the Federal taxpayer up to $50,000 apiece. For those, they send guys in suits who never crack a smile to talk to the neighbors where you grew up. They check your grade school records. They check your high school records. They find out about that DUI conviction you got the summer after graduation. They find out whether you were the go-to guy for buying nickel bags of weed in your dorm. They learn about credit records, tax records, unpaid parking tickets. They discover every known address you've ever had, every club or association to which you've ever belonged. They find out things about you that only your MAMA knows. They find out things about you that your mama DON'T know. They find out things about you that YOU don't know.

And when they're done with that, they'll know whether you fit the criteria to be trusted with matters affecting this nation's security and safety. They don't regard partisan political affiliation. They are so beyond all that. They don't make the rules. They just follow them. The rules apply to everybody, including people who work in the White House.

Which brings us to the matter of at least one person looking for a job there.

Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia Bulletin examines the known associations of Barack Obama, and their significance in determining the background, and therefore his suitability, for high office:

Specifically, he has longstanding, if indirect ties to two institutions, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), listed by the U.S. government in 2007 as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding trial; and the Nation of Islam (NoI), condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for its "consistent record of racism and anti-Semitism."

There is nothing wrong with a Federal employee who is a Muslim. Years ago, I worked for one who was a political appointee. He was my friend. I was at his house. I met his family. I broke bread with them. In my library is a copy of the Qu'ran that he gave me as a gift. (No, I've never kissed it; it is there for a reference.) Indeed, there is nothing wrong in America with being a Muslim. There is something wrong with lying about having ever been one, to avoid being linked to people who take those beliefs too far. No, Obama is not a Muslim, but it is clear that at some point in his life, he was raised as one. That was his stepfather's decision, not his. As one who is now an openly declared, committed Christian, that makes Obama an apostate, one who deserves severe punishment under Islamic law. Which makes one wonder all the more about his known associations. What does he have to gain? What do they have to gain?

Freedom of assembly -- and by extension, association -- is a treasured Constitutional right. But freedom should not be confused with license. The former assumes a restraint on behavior, so as not to interfere with the freedom of others. It is why we have laws to protect those freedoms. It also lends the term a less open-ended meaning than merely "doing whatever I want." Even a GS-3 Clerk/Typist on the Federal payroll takes an oath upon beginning their employment, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States "from all enemies, foreign and domestic." It stands to reason that such an individual would have nothing to do, with people who have decided otherwise.

You can argue whether McCain's tax plan or Obama's tax plan is better. You can argue whether McCain or Obama will make the right decisions returning this nation to prosperity. You can argue whether McCain or Obama has better Hollywood endorsements. You can argue whether McCain or Obama is more likely to cause that feeling going up your leg. Forget all that. One of them will spend the next four years in the constant company of a Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, or a Navy or Coast Guard commander, who carries a briefcase known as "the football" handcuffed to their wrist. That briefcase will contain the launch codes for every missile system this nation has at its disposal. That briefcase could start (or prevent) the next world war, and only the man or woman being followed by the officer holding "the football" can have what's in that briefcase. And yet, Barack Hussein Obama, under Federal law as it is currently written, would be unlikely to get a job as a GS-3 Clerk/Typist in his own White House.

There is a time to dream, to wish, to hope, that the world could be an ideal place. There is a time to wish we could forget about every dumb-ass thing we ever did in our past, and move on. There is a time to wish that the things that led us to where we are now really don't matter. This isn't one of those times. It doesn't matter what you think about who somebody running for public office hangs around with. What matters, is that it matters. What matters is the very notion of law, the way the world works, the way a civilized society must hold itself together, lest everything fall apart. Forget all that hippie-dippie folk-singing protest-shouting bull$#!† that you and your cocktail-party schmoozing, SUV-driving friends go on about. Neither James Taylor nor Opie Taylor nor Oprah Winfrey will come out from their private bunkers, to protect you from total mayhem in the streets, the kind you saw in Manhattan on CNN during 9-11, the kind that could happen in any major American city (and that almost has in the last six years). That is why we are a nation of laws.

What's the bottom line? Obama's ties to people and organizations who would have things otherwise, to the extent that such is already public knowledge -- again, putting aside whether voters like you give a rat's ass or not -- mean that he would, as Pipes takes the time to explain, "fail the standard security clearance process for Federal employees." That's just a REGULAR clearance, okay? Never mind the kind that get you into places that are guarded by guys with high-powered rifles who only need one shot and never miss. Like the White House.

(You will notice the article does not even mention the political assistance and collaborative history of Obama and William Ayers, a known and self-admitted domestic terrorist, responsible for attacks on both the Pentagon and the United States Capitol, two buildings that were also targets on 9-11. That relationship alone would call security concerns into question, based upon the same criteria discussed here.)

But you're sitting there, reading your New York Times, drinking your four-dollar latte, ready to dismiss everything I've just told you because of some feeling going up your leg, and ready to vote for Obama to be the next President of the United States.

What does this say about you?

[IMAGE: Caption reads as follows: "This registration document from the Fransiskus Assisi school in Jakarta, a Catholic institution, was first made available by the Associated Press on Jan 24, 2007, in a photograph taken by Tatan Syuflana and listed by AP as photograph 070125010606. It calls Obama 'Barry Soetoro,' a combination of his nickname and the family name of his Indonesian step-father, Lolo Soetoro. The document records Barry Soetoro's religion as Islam and his nationality as Indonesian." Image used without permission or shame.]
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Now, this one is a neat trick. It is also rather convincing, until just near the end. This is also one instance where I wish Sarah Palin had not put in an appearance. I just hope it does not hurt her chances, or ruin this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. Unfortunately, this video clip could not be reduced proportionally, without cutting off some of the image. Click on the one shown here to watch.
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Obligatory “Liturgy Committee” Rant

I felt like engaging in some light-hearted "church chat" today. No particular reason, really, except for the item I read last night at New Liturgical Movement. Cappellemeister and Southern gentleman Jeffrey Tucker elaborates on the challenges posed to the musician who seeks to restore Catholic tradition, when confronted by that demon spawn known as... the liturgy committee.

This sort of thing makes musicians crazy because it is a setting guaranteed to yield shabby liturgy and community chaos. It is the worst possible thing to happen to a parish music program, and not because the community shouldn't have a voice. If the community has a point of unity, it concerns the faith itself and the tradition; otherwise, in terms of issues of taste and preference, there is no such thing as a community: there are only individuals with a multiplicity of conflicting desires...

It would be the same if we chose the texts or the vestments of the Mass with this method. Nothing good can come of it...

If "a camel is a horse designed by a committee," there can be little doubt as to which end of the horse falls under the jurisdiction of this crowd. Except for the renovation of a traditional-style church building (that rare opportunity to do permanent damage with serious money, that everybody else will be stuck with for years), the typical Catholic parish will provide no greater opportunity for the dabbling of dilettantes, than it will for people who haven't cracked open a mildly serious book on the topic of Catholic worship since the day they were born. Saying this may seem unkind or judgmental, except to the extent that it is true. I cannot for the life of me understand what goes through most pastors' minds when they convene such a group. But in my experience as a chorister, musician, lay reader, and acolyte, there is nothing more irritating than the arbitrary decrees of a group of people who don't know what the hell they're talking about, beyond the bag of gimmicks they picked up at a liturgy workshop the previous weekend. Some of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard on behalf of a parish priest, emanated from groups charged with "planning the liturgy."

"Liturgy planning" is another dumb idea. The Church has already "planned" the liturgy. They print it in books with nicely bound covers that are really hard to miss when you walk into a sacristy. Our job, at most, is to prepare the liturgy, most of which becomes routine a few weeks after a priest is ordained. When you have to reinvent it, when you have to constantly explain what is going on with it, it is no longer a ritual. You see, a ritual is SUPPOSED to be done the same way over and over again, with minimum variation, and no explanation. That's why they call it a RITUAL, you dummy!

And so...

The first assumption that can safely be made about a parish liturgy committee, is that they are invariably as useful as mammary glands on a bovine male (or, as they say down in Texas, "t*** on a b***"). Go into it with that attitude, and you will... well, you'll be known for having a bad attitude. But chances are you will also be right. Most parishes can do without them, save for the gathering of people with genuine responsibilities associated with worship; the music director, the sacristan, the persons in charge of altar servers, readers, ushers -- yes, even the nice ladies who have arranged the flowers in the sanctuary since time immemorial. And if you have a Traditional Latin Mass, don't forget your Master of Ceremonies. Now there's a guy who's done his homework.

This last conglomeration is a group of fine folks willing to roll up their sleeves, that any pastor can live with. But the rest of these bozos -- "Hey, Father, listen to this awesome Gloria we've got picked out for Advent." -- they should be put to work at something genuinely useful. Like helping to park cars between scheduled Masses. Maybe working bingo nights...
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Plug This: Ask Sister Mary Martha

(Part of a continuing series on lesser-known participants in the Catholic blogosphere.)

"Life is tough. But Nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice just Ask Sister Mary Martha. She'll help you. Just don't expect any sympathy."

http://asksistermarymartha.blogspot.com/

Most of the time you read our featured blog, and you are convinced that the writer (who is not specifically identified, and probably isn't a real nun) really knows what he or she is talking about. For example, today I learned that there are four kinds of near occasions of sin. I previously thought there were only two. Sadly, they ditched the Baltimore Catechism at my school in 1966, when I entered the sixth grade, and replaced it with a book that had lots of modern-looking pictures and rambled on about one thing or another. So we may have missed that lesson while getting in touch with our feelings. Or something.

There are other occasions when, after having become acquainted with the day-to-day comings and goings of community life over the years, the anecdotes waver between getting real and being silly. The writer keeps you guessing, but rarely disappoints.
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Considerations

This election year is unique in a number of ways. After two previous Presidential contests that have betrayed just how divided a nation we are, the trend continues to a third. We are being manipulated by the mainstream media, which determines in no uncertain terms which candidates get more exposure than others. Those who claim to report the news often break into what amounts to personal endorsements of a particular candidate, which would have been considered thoroughly unprofessional just a few years ago.

What is more astounding, is the extent to which the general public does not appear to mind being duped so easily.

People believe what they want to believe. Those who have concerns (evidence to the contrary notwithstanding) about the inexperience of a Republican vice-presidential candidate, have no qualms whatsoever about the same deficit in a Democratic candidate. The same people who hold grave concerns about the temperament of the Republican presidential candidate, have no such concerns about the same lack of temperament in the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Oh no, we have other considerations. What is he promising to do to rescue me from my bad decisions? How do I react when I am in a crowded room with him? What's that feeling going up my leg???

Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has remarked that no one goes out of their way to appear "cool" by openly supporting a Republican. Dear reader, whatever we may decide in this contest, this is not an election for the homecoming queen. Yet is this how our judgement is to be, when electing our Nation's leaders? A fashion statement? A popularity contest?

There has admittedly been more political commentary here as of late. For the next two weeks, there will continue to be such commentary. Yours truly will take this opportunity to go behind the buzz, behind the soundbites, to look at matters of substance. People look to whomever makes the biggest promises, in matters over which they subsequently have very little control. For example, a president is elected in the midst of a bad economy. Upon taking office, the economy improves. Everyone assumes the President is responsible without closer examination. "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc." It is a common fallacy: "After this, therefore because of this." Such people refuse to look at the general character and philosophy of the candidate themselves; the forces, both internal and external, that brought them to where they are today.

Actions speak louder than words, we might respond. Very well, there is enough of that to prove our point. We will review a number of such examples in the days to come.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dan Rather Laments “Double Standard” in Media

Yeah, it threw me off the first time I heard it too. But there he is, on MSNBC, telling Joe "Not The Plumber" Scarborough: "Well, I think the point is well taken, Joe, that certainly if Sarah Palin had said this it would be above the fold in most newspapers today." Dan is right about one other thing (and his being right about much doesn't happen often); this is one YouTube clip that will rack up some serious hits on the internet.

Whether it gets much attention in the mainstream is something else altogether. But let's look on the bright side; at least CNN is asking Clinton's former Secretary of State Madeline Albright about it. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air writes: "Even Albright would have to admit that a known quantity in the White House would provide less of a temptation to start provoking the US to test our responses..."

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
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“If you want to redeem your honor...”

Someone once said that there are three things a news journalist must accomplish early in this career, in order to be worthy of his profession; he must write an obituary, report on a fire, and cover a local election. In the present day, even the popularity of sans-commentary C-SPAN channels, is not enough to offset the advent of the "news analyst." The latter is not really a journalist, so much as someone with an opinion who is telegenic enough to pull it off.

Most of them are in the tank for Barack Obama. Whether glowing over his charisma upon entering the room, or describing a feeling going up their leg, they are ill-equipped to give a fair and balanced view of the day's events. It's all well and good to have your own opinion. It is a disgrace to one's livelihood to allow it to affect your own judgment, as you purport to tell the world "just the facts, ma'am."

But as long as it does, there are people in Washington who will say the stupidest things imaginable, knowing full well they will get away with it. The same Congressman who, only a few years ago, had no problem with letting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac run around loose in the name of "affordable housing," knows that he loses no political advantage by encouraging the raising of taxes.

They also know that the average American is being duped into blaming the President for every decision coming out of Washington, even though he may have labored hard to accomplish the very opposite. The fact is that the Founding Fathers gave the Congress the power to ultimately make or break the Chief Executive's every decision. People who get their political analysis from someone whose only credentials for telling the news, is the quality of their wardrobes and makeup artists, will never get this, and it is a shame.

Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist. In a recent opinion piece, he challenges both while decrying the state of his chosen profession:

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation’s prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama’s door.

You still have to wonder if anyone is listening. They're too busy watching "The View."
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Monday, October 20, 2008

When “Country Club Republicans” Meet

From Real Clear Politics:

The New York Post's Page Six reports that at a recent gathering of Republicans in mid-town Manhattan the other night, opinions were running almost universally against Sarah Palin...

Way to help screw your party out of the election, guys.
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Mass Frustration

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air devotes a column today to his experience attending Mass yesterday, in light of an impending Presidential election:

Yesterday evening, we attended Mass and for a moment thought we would hear actual instruction in the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. After hearing one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, the “Render unto Caesar” confrontation between Jesus as the Pharisees, our priest broached the subject of what belongs to secular government and what belongs to God in the context of elections and choices made by voters. Unfortunately, he wound up wasting a good opportunity to clarify the Catechism to those who ignore it... If we have the choice of two unacceptable candidates, he said, why vote for either one?

In the parish where I work, I have the good fortune to hear good homilies. They acknowledge me as a spiritual child in relation to a spiritual father, without insulting my intelligence or dumbing down the message. Sometimes they actually make me feel guilty about something, enough that I think twice about whether I really should attend communion that day. Some people have a problem with this. I don't happen to be one of them. To possess human frailty is the cost of being human. And when the pastor is homilist, I am, more often than not, left with a poem or other witticism that I end up wanting to look up on the internet. It makes for great fun.

For that matter, I rarely have a problem with homilies in the middle Atlantic region, specifically the Diocese of Arlington. My trips back to Ohio are another matter. I don't even attend the church where I grew up. Something happened to those people around 1983, probably a night at the parish hall where somebody spiked the Kool-Aid and everybody got a good snort, and they haven't been the same since. Now they're all holding hands across the aisle during the Lord's Prayer, looking like a bunch of aging flower children with latent developmental issues. Some of these people were adults when I was a kid. I still want to call them "Sir" or "Ma'am." But it's like walking into a B-version of The Twilight Zone. They've probably saved that Kool-Aid recipe too.

My recommendation to guys like Ed, is that they watch EWTN on a Sunday to get a homily worth listening to. Watch Father Benedict Groeschel on "Sunday Night Live." He's always good for a decent yarn. Or read good Catholic books. Ignatius Press publishes a whole slew of them.

Ed, if you're out there, and you come to Washington, look me up. We'll have a drink (of something other than Kool-Aid). We'll go to a good Catholic bookstore. Then on Sunday, you can join me and see what being Catholic really looks like.

You know where to find me.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saint Luke’s Summer

Here in the Nation's capital, "Indian summer" (or as in old Christian Europe, where it was named for the saint whose feast day was yesterday) appears to be at an end. The leaves are in their usual blaze of glory for the fall season. It's been getting down to the 40s at night, but the days are pleasant for wearing a jacket. It's just the right kind of weather for yours truly.

The weekend has also brought more activity with the upcoming Presidential election, if a bit light-hearted in nature. Last night, Governor Sarah Palin appeared on the NBC late night comedy show Saturday Night Live. She handled herself very well for the occasion, as two clips from the performance will show here. Much has been made of her physical attractiveness. But what makes Palin stand out, is that she is a genuine class act. The cynics may think this cameo made a joke of her, but the event was clearly a plus for her public image, and by extension the campaign. With the latest Associated Press poll showing McCain trailing Obama by only two percentage points (42 and 44, respectively), the margin for error alone is raising the suspense.

[THIS JUST IN: A television industry blog reports that "Sarah Palin's visit to 'Saturday Night Live' drew the show's highest overnight rating in 14 years." Not too shabby.]

Saturday also saw Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher appear on Mike Huckabee's latest attempt at stardom on the Fox News Channel. Maybe hosting a talk/variety show will be good for the Huck-man. Joe's trying to take it in stride, but the attention being paid to him betrays a man trying his best to tread water. It's also getting a mixed review from Hot Air's Allahpundit, who provides clips of the show. Featured is a discussion with Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal, who gives us ten minutes of what "spreading the wealth around" could mean for Americans.

Then, on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, General Colin Powell made the all-too-predictable announcement, that he favored Democrat Barack Obama for President. There was little love lost between him and the Bush administration, but he has shied away from any political ambitions since his departure from active service, probably out of distaste for the whole thing, and its potential adverse effect on his family life. This may be as close as he gets to the political arena. It's just as well. I imagine he'd be even more disillusioned after two years of an Obama presidency.

Try telling him that now, though.
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“I might believe in the Redeemer...

...if His followers looked more Redeemed.”

-- Fredrick Nietzsche
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Friday, October 17, 2008

This week, a Tip of the Black Hat goes out to Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio.

Joe is a man who, in asking a perfectly fair question of a man running for President of the United States, has become the victim of a media circus, the obsession of a bunch of professional posers who couldn't report on a house fire without showing up at the wrong address. This private citizen (the operative word being "private") has never so much as run for Dog Catcher of Lucas County, Ohio. Yet every little detail of his personal life is among the burning issues of our time (which is more than we can say about certain candidates for President, right, fellas?). In the face of it all, he has been nothing but courteous to every media jerk-off who has shown up at his door at night waking the neighbors -- which is already more than they would have gotten from me.

Tell you what. It's time to have buttons made. And when that's done, yours truly will not be talking to the press. That's right, bozos; "no comment" is the default press release from this news desk. You can find out what you wanna know here. And when you do, you will be told (in fact, you're being told right now) that all of us, every American, has a perfect right to ask Senator Obama whatever the hell we want, including questions about his plans to "redistribute" our hard-earned wealth, without you getting in our faces about matters which are completely irrelevant in this political campaign (as in "none of your @#$%&@$ business!").

Of course, you'd need an attention span to have read this far, so it's a toss-up whether you'll ever get it, really. Fortunately, it's also this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
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The Rest of the @#$%ing Story Continues

I've been able to confirm through two independent sources in Ohio, that Joe Wurzelbacher doesn't need a license for his work, so long as he is restricted to residential, not commercial. One of those sources maintains that, as long as he restricts his work to his home township, he's fine. Whatever he does, he's probably going to continue to have problems with his union's friendly neighborhood goon squad. Someone should make up buttons that say: "I AM JOE THE PLUMBER."

Meanwhile, on the subject of people who are actually running for something, there are those who still think Sarah Palin isn't cut out for this job (including former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who seems to be having a meltdown of sorts, I can't explain her lately). But for those of you who buy into that sort of thing, our Pertinacious Papist can tell you why Mrs Palin currently has a higher national security clearance than either Barack Obama or Joseph Biden. (You didn't know? That's because you don't need to know!)

Some of us who have been working in DC for awhile, can remember the unusually long time it took for some of Clinton's people to get through their background checks. A few red flags along the way, it seems. Stay tuned...

[MEMO TO MS NOONAN: Click here. You might actually learn something.]
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber: The Rest of the @#$%ing Story

Gateway Pundit reports on how the forces of Obamapalooza are out to stick it to Joe. He thought he could just appear on camera a few times and then fade into the American woodwork. But tonight, even ABC News is reporting that Joe doesn't have a license to be a plumber. What Charles Gibson and his crackerjack team in the newsroom failed to mention, is that in Ohio, a license is only required for commercial work, not residential. (See Article 4740 of the Ohio State Code.)

[THIS JUST IN: Okay, so Joe has a tax lien against him of less than $1200. Whether it's the result of fraudulent intent (unlikely), or simply bad accounting (much more likely), he's in good company, namely with the treasurer for Obama's campaign, who should be better equipped to avoid bad accounting. Probably.]
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Joe the Plumber: The Morning After

In the wake of last night's third and final Presidential debate, for all the trouble the mainstream press is going to in denying it, McCain was the clear winner. People who are willing to believe anything Obama says were not swayed, even when he lied through his teeth about his associations with ACORN, William Ayers, and the issue of partial-birth abortion. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air briefly examines the major stretches of the truth for what they are. McCain has gained a couple of points in the polls, but Ann Coulter reads between the lines of those numbers, in telling us what history has taught us already about polling results: "In addition to the social pressure to constantly prove you're not a racist, apparently there is massive social pressure to prove you're not a Republican. No one is lying about voting for McCain just to sound cool... Reviewing the polls printed in The New York Times and The Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points."

All that aside, people can see for themselves how things went. The first of the two highlight clips deals with Taxes, Ayers and ACORN. The second covers Health Care and Roe v Wade. McCain listened to his supporters, not to mention to his running mate, came out swinging, and didn't let up. Obama maintained his usual poise most of the time, except when he wasn't a bit flustered, and stuttering in a vain attempt to play loose with the facts. If the American people are stupid enough to vote for their Messiah, they deserve whatever socialist agenda he hands out. Nobody thinks it can happen here. They also said that in Vienna before the Germans came to town. (I know. I worked for a guy who grew up there in the 1930s.)

But the real object of attention for this news cycle is, of course, Joe Wurzelbacher, the 36-year-old plumber from Holland, Ohio, a burg of less than two thousand people on the western outskirts of Toledo. "Joe the Plumber" has had to contend with the news vans parked outside his house since yesterday. They should be gone by the weekend, then maybe he can actually get some work done. We've also gotten some interesting comments from yesterday post entitled "Joe Plumber's Economics."

In the meantime, and while he has his self-admitted fifteen minutes of fame, Joe has had some things to say. He's obviously not used to this kind of attention, and harbors no illusions about himself. But while he is not saying how he will cast his ballot, it is all too obvious what he thinks of at least one of the candidates. We learn more on ABC's Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer (previous paragraph), and from an interview with Fox News Radio's John Gibson (this paragraph). This guy is by no means a mouthpiece for a political party; he's just a guy who, in the immortal words of Huey Lewis, is "taking what they're giving 'cuz I'm working for a living."

The upshot? John McCain is still in this ball game, but it's now the bottom of the ninth, and he's trailing on the board, thanks to a combination of arrogant bias from the mainstream press, and a lack of imagination from inside the Straight Talk Express. With the bases now loaded from last night, all he needs to do now, is just hit one right out of the park.



[THIS JUST IN: Confederate Yankee, one of the best political blogs out there, weighs in with a post-mortem of his own. Meanwhile, Hot Air's Contrarian-in-Residence, Allahpundit, checks for the obligatory dirty laundry.]
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night...”



Ed Morrissey of Hot Air has some advice for both players in tonight's final Presidental debate. He's saved the best for the guy who has the most to lose:

McCain has to both make a positive case for himself and a negative case against Obama. That will take a lot of effort and time, and McCain can’t waste time on the niceties. We know he respects Obama. He doesn’t have to tell us again.

He also has advice for Obama, and in so doing, betrays his greatest weakness:

Obama has shown that he gets trapped in the weeds when trying to talk specifics, stumbling over his words and sometimes contradicting himself (and reality).

...which is an opportunity for McCain to get into specifics, as opposed to mere platitudes designed to whip up crowds of supporters at his rallies. Sorry, pops, but that dog won't hunt tonight.

We know what other advice Obama is getting. Apparently, somebody on his staff accidentally (?) leaked a memo.

And so, the plot thickens...
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Joe Plumber’s Economics

Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got an earful from a plumber in my native Ohio. That plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher -- wouldn't you know, his name is Joe -- was interviewed later by Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. It seems that Obama's tax plan for those making over $250,000 a year, would have an adverse effect on small businesses throughout America. And even though those businesses provide a lot of jobs for Americans, what matters most of all here is Obama's stated intentions for redistributing the wealth of America, a plan which amounts to socialism.

Right about now, I wish I were Neil Cavuto, because I could then explain better why Obama's plan is a recipe for disaster. But since I'm not, I'll have to use an example that's been floating around the internet of late. Here we go...

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Let's suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the owner threw them a curved ball (or is that a curved beer!). "Because you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."

Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth man and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

Now, there are all kinds of proposals as to how our tax system can be completely overhauled. One is the so-called "flat tax," another is a variation with three levels based on income bracket. There have even been proposals to eliminate the federal income tax altogether, and go with the national sales tax. Some of the states have been using that for years. Then again, they don't have much of a defense budget, do they? All that aside, though, the above is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Discuss.

(Tip of the Black Hat to the Pertinacious Papist, who looked the other way when I stole this. As always, I have no shame.)
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