Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If I waited until tomorrow to post this...

...you wouldn't believe me.

That's because one of the most hilarious and insightful commentators in the Catholic blogosphere (and when I say "hilarious," I don't mean the kind of little-old-lady funny that you people always think should get awards, but genuine laugh-until-you-get-a-hernia funny, you got that?), that ever elusive "Der Tommissar" himself, is back to being himself. He has posted his third entry for this month (gasp!), where he takes on the people other than Peggy Noonan who piss him off.

Now, eventually, Tommy Boy is going to find out his links to particular entries do not work. But he hasn't yet, since he's spending the entire day out chopping wood at his secret mountain hideaway in Colorado. But if you click here and scroll to them, they're hard to miss, since they're the only entries for this month anyway.

All aboard The Donegal Express, people.

“To anyone still patiently waiting for this three part series on who needs to be punished...”

“It may have been intimated that the whole three part thing I was planning would be up quickly. Well, so much for that. The big hold up was...”

And finally, my personal favorite, and yours too eventually:

“That’s right! Notre Dame isn’t endorsing President Obama; they’re feting and honoring him. Got that? Feting and honoring. We’re not saying it’s a good thing to support flushing babies down the toilet in the name of expediency. We’re just saying that if you climb over mounds of dead unborn to satisfy your ambitions, we’ll be there with a bouquet of flowers in the Winner’s Circle.”

Of course, this is the point I was trying to make last Sunday night, remember? Yeah, now you do, now that the Tominator has driven the point home like a stake right into your vampire heart. This is why great minds think alike. And that sound you hear right now, is the planets re-aligning. It's that big a deal.

Meanwhile, I know how much he loves kitty-cat pictures. Here's lookin' at you, kid.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

Free Outdoor Grill

[Here is yet another bit of ingenuity from our roving correspondent "D.W." -- DLA]

As everyone knows, come spring it will be time to get ready for that all-important cooking technique of the outdoor grill! Great for those weekends at the lake or just in the backyard. I have just found out there are several stores around the nation where you can get a FREE Bar-B-Q grill! In these hard economic times that is sure to excite everybody!

You can get a free BBQ grill from any of the following stores:

A&P
    Albertsons
Big Lots
    Bi-Lo
Bloom
    Brookshire's
Costco
    Food Lion
Fry's
    HEB
Home Depot
    Ingles
Lowes
    Publix
Sam's Club
    Target
Trader Joe's
    Vons
Wal-Mart
    Winn-Dixie

I especially like the higher rack, which can be used for keeping things warm. And look at those bread warmers. How handy is that???

Just make sure to get a metal one instead of the plastic variety if you have a choice. The plastic ones don't do so well.

Happy Grilling and y'all enjoy now!
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Judica me, Deus...

"Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus et fortitudo mea."

"Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength."


Today the Roman church celebrated the beginning of a season within the Lenten fast known as "Passiontide." The Introit (Entrance Antiphon) for the Mass of the day -- in both the traditional and reformed usage -- begins with the prayer which is traditionally prayed by the priests and his ministers at the foot of the altar. It is taken from Psalm 42(43), which was composed to inspire during a time of tribulation for the Chosen People. Not only does the Psalmist plead with God for justice upon himself, but against his enemies.

Amidst the cry for help, there is more. There is a longing.

"Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum et in tabernacula tua."

"Send out Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, even unto Thy tabernacles."


Just as Elijah would climb the heights to await the still small voice, just as Christ led the Three to the height of Mount Tabor for a glimpse of His majesty, just as the priest would begin at the first step of his pilgrimage to sacrifice -- so too the Psalmist prayed to be led up to the mountain of God, that he might dwell with Him in His holy place.

Such was the prayer of the Church today, as Her faithful children are beleaguered by persecution in the public square.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been appointed by the President to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. While considering herself a Catholic in good standing -- which I presume would mean being completely free of serious sin at all times, which is quite a stretch for any of us on a GOOD day, but never mind that for a moment -- she has been publicly supportive of legalized abortion. Her persistence on this position, and such persistence being public, has led her local shepherd, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, to declare that she should not present herself to receive Communion, until she recants. This position has been upheld by the Apostolic Signatura, the supreme legislator of the Holy See. And now, the latest word is that the Archbishop of Washington, in whose jurisdiction she may be partially domiciled, may have finally summoned the testicular fortitude necessary to uphold this position. The same has been indicated by a spokesman for the Diocese of Arlington.

Now, the mainstream press, and a few empty suits disguised as Catholics, will say that Church leaders are attempting to "politicize" the reception of Communion. If this were true, then the rest of us could engage in all manner of debauchery and still be in a state of grace, so long as we weren't famous enough to be called on it. As we all know, this isn't true. So you see, it's not the Church leaders who are politicizing anything; they are imposing the same rule of thumb as they would for any of us. The empty suits, on the other hand...

Then we read of how the President of the United States has been invited to give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, despite his unprecedented level of support of legalized abortion, including such methods that would amount to infanticide, to such an extent that otherwise "pro-choice" legislators have held back on them. The land of the Fighting Irish falls under the jurisdiction of Bishop John M D’Arcy of Fort Wayne - South Bend (Indiana), who has publicly condemned the appearance, and has called upon the university President, Father John Jenkins, CSC, to withdraw the invitation.

It's not going to happen, of course. Notre Dame sold its Catholicity down the river years ago. And while the 1983 Code of Canon Law does not give the the local bishop as many options for imposing penalties as did the old 1917 Code (assuming it would make a bit of difference). But if you go here to add your name to this petition...

www.notredamescandal.com

...you can beg to disagree, along with more than two hundred thousand others (and climbing).

Now, Father Jenkins wants to be seen as a reasonable man. He says he would use this occasion to "engage" the President on such issues, which would not be possible were the invitation to be rescinded. While we're trying to imagine just how that sort of negotiation would actually work, we should make note of how the President and his administration is currently pressuring the Holy See to silence Archbishop Raymond Burke, who presides over the Apostolic Signatura, on the matter of denying the sacraments to those who, in the words of Canon 915, "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin." Our President is unlikely to be in the mood to "engage" or negotiate on anything. Why should he? He has not been invited to Notre Dame to bargain, he has been invited to be honored.

We should have seen this coming. It will get worse before it gets better. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has rendered a sad appraisal of our state of affairs:

November showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected. Or to put it more discreetly, the November elections confirmed a trend, rather than created a new moment, in American culture...

Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies...

We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to “personally oppose” some homicidal evil — but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.

We went in the space of one week from "Laetare Sunday," a respite of rejoicing during the Great Fast, to "Judica Sunday," a call for the verdict of a Just Judge. Have the sins of a nation come to visit her inhabitants? How would her children respond?

"Judge me, O God..."

[VIDEO: Inspired by the Antiphon for the Magnificat of Second Vespers: "Abraham your father rejoiced that he mght see My day; he saw it, and was glad." (John 8:56)]
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Friday, March 27, 2009

The expression “losing my religion” comes from the South, and refers to losing one’s temper, or otherwise being at wit’s end. It is also the title of a song from a 1991 album by R.E.M. entitled Out of Time. The song rose to number four on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the highest-charting recording of the band at that time. It was also released as one of four singles from the album that year.

Guitarist Peter Buck explains: "[W]hen I listened back to it the next day, there was a bunch of stuff that was really just me learning how to play mandolin, and then there's what became 'Losing My Religion', and then a whole bunch more of me learning to play the mandolin." (excerpt from "Reveal: The Story of R.E.M." by Johnny Black, Backbeat Books, 2004.)

We can't add much more to that, except to show it here as a "literal remix" version. At a time when we know a lot of people losing their religion (more about that later), there was little else we could choose for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Father Ignatius: The Annunciation

The Angel Gabriel came to Mary, the New Eve, and through her obedience the word became flesh, undoing the disobedience of the first Eve.

Ave Maria!
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One Minute Theatre: Destiny

It's mid-day at mid-week, and time for another edition of the fastest-growing piece of high culture in the Catholic blogosphere, the "One Minute Theatre" found only here at mwbh. This week's edition features the first-place winner of the 2005 International Jerusalem Film Festival. It is an excellent example what they call a "one-shot," which means that it was made without stopping the camera.

The result just goes to show what you can do on the first take.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

txt msg

"Tomorrow March 25 between 9:30 and noon, CBS Paramount pictures will be filming a TV scene on the Potomac River near the Key Bridge in which special effects (loud noise and fire) will simulate a small water vessel being blown up. This will be a heavily monitored and controlled event lasting only a few seconds. There is no cause for alarm. Sent by Arlington County OEM to All users..."
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Four. Five. Three. Six. Five.

I came across this documentary quite by accident. It was when I was doing some autobiographical research, that I called my Dad, and asked him what the name of the tailor in his former hometown, where he still went to buy his suits when we were kids.* That was followed by an internet search, where instead of the merchant's name, I came across this recent work that premiered at this year's SXSW Festival. (The next paragraph is from the media kit, so I didn't write it.)

Shot over the course of 9 months in Sidney, Ohio, "45365" (pronounced: four, five, three, six, five) follows the lives of a cross section of the town’s residents as their storylines coalesce into a mosaic of faces, places, and events. A Judge’s race for re-election, the County Fair, the Barber Shop, the retirement home, a football team, a father and son, a young relationship, arrest and sentencing are all explored in this sweeping survey of life in a small town.

The film is the work of two favorite sons of Sidney, Bill and Turner Ross. The brothers currently reside in Los Angeles. If I ever get my hands on the forthcoming DVD, I'll have to do a review. Sidney has always been my "other hometown." I still remember those lazy Sunday afternoons, listening to the chimes at the county courthouse playing church hymns.

And speaking of church, at 16 seconds into the clip, you will see a brief glimpse of Holy Angels Catholic Church, which has been immaculately restored, including the beautiful hand-carved Stations of the Cross imported from Germany.

More information about the film can be found at the Ross Films' website: www.45365movie.com.
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* The name of this place was Rhees's, by the way.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Pony Keg

To this day, the old folks still call it that, back where I came from. Sometimes we used to call it a "carry-out." Most people know it today as a "convenience store." The term itself originated with a "quarter barrel," or eight gallons, roughly a one-fourth measurement of a standard beer barrel. Eventually the stores that carried them would be known for that name.

I passed by one on the way home from the farm where Mom grew up. It was on a road identified as "US 33." While the road seemed strangely familiar, I never remembered that number before in those parts. I came to a "T" junction in the road, and the old storefront was there, abandoned. I thought of summer days, being let out of the car with my brother and sister, running up the stairs to the porch, to where it was cool inside, and popsicles and other delights awaited us. They doled these treats out sparingly, my Mom and Dad. God forbid we would expect one every time we got in the car. Besides, it was cheaper for Mom to make them at home.

But that was many years ago, and the past faded into shuttered windows and bolted doors, and houses where people still lived, if only for want of a better place to go. I never came out this way anymore. My life was a million miles away, where empty fields where brother fought against brother more than a century ago, gave way to "bix box" stores and casual dining restuarants, places with prefabricated character, identical to the ones built elsewhere. But here, little had changed, as if no one would ever flock to such monuments to borrowed wealth out this way.

I didn't have time to ponder the whys and wherefores. Evening was fading, and I had to get back. Here I was, a grown man, worrying that Dad was going to have a fit if I had the car out after dark...

Then I woke up.

[PHOTOS: (1) US Route 33, south of Athens, Ohio. Courtesy of Wikipedia. (2) The author, at the spot in eastern Clermont County, Ohio, where his maternal grandfather was born in a log cabin, in January of 1900. From his personal archives.]
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Friday, March 20, 2009

“Dude, where’s my flying car?” We have been asking ourselves that question since the 21st century began. And after our Science Department here at mwbh has been following this subject for years, we may have come up with the answer. Terrafugia’s Transition flying car (actually a “roadable aircraft” to be more precise) recently made its public debut at the mother of experimental aircraft shindigs, the AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Be advised, this little puppy could cost you as much as your house, but if knowing that doesn’t stop you, be sure to visit their website at http://www.avweb.com. And enjoy the ride for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
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“Start from the beginning, and tell us what happened.”

500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It appears in theaters on July 17. Unless you enjoy being a codependent loser, it is definitely worth missing.

The synopsis of the movie sets you up for a heartbreak of its own: "Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t. This post modern love story is never what we expect it to be — it’s thorny yet exhilarating, funny and sad, a twisted journey of highs and lows that doesn’t quite go where we think it will." Okay, wait for the other shoe: "When Tom, a hapless greeting card copywriter and hopeless romantic, is blindsided after his girlfriend Summer dumps him, he shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days 'together' to try to figure out where things went wrong. His reflections ultimately lead him to finally rediscover his true passions in life."

Unfortunately, this happens only after going after you stop chasing the wrong kind of passion. In this case, what seems like a quirky, funny sort of elfin sprite of a girl, turns out to be an emotionally unavailable courtesan, probably abandoned by her father at an early age, and who spends the rest of her life getting even, by using her feminine wiles to mislead every young man who follows her around the block. (A girl with a hippie name like "Zooey" plays a girl with a hippie name like "Summer." What more do you need to know?) Until science finds a cure for these little vixens, the men of this world are on their own. The guy in the next cubicle who tells him, "Maybe she's an uppity, better-than-everyone super-skank" may be on to something.

This sort of stealth nightmare happened to me once or twice in my younger days, only without the song-and-dance dream sequence in the park. The soul-searching depicted in the movie only works, when you discover that your "reflections" on what went wrong are a waste of time, and you "finally rediscover" that your "true passions in life" require you to GET a life.

In every love story, there are two people involved. It takes both of them to make anything happen. When you are the last one standing, and if you manage to keep your wits about you, the hard part is already done.

And if knowing that won't help you, maybe this will: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30)

No, it's not as easy as it sounds, which is why we continue to be inundated with movies like this one.

Until science finds a cure.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mister Smith Goes (Ballistic Over) Washington

We all loved Shepard Smith last Sunday, didn't we? Well, put him in the same mosh pit with Glenn Beck, and you've got a big slab of red meat that's ready to scream when you bite into it. People have to stop getting their political analyses from pop stars and Hollywood divas, and learn the real deal about what's been going on. With President Obama's approval ratings edging toward a nose dive, and Congress's approval ratings staying in the bottomless pit where they usually belong, we can expect to hear more about how these bozos all got us into the mess, the one that they were hoping they could keep blaming on George Bush indefinitely. Sorry, Barney, the chickens are coming home to roost. (h/t to Allahpundit of Hot Air.)
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It could only be worse...

...had Sarah Palin been elected President, what with her lack of experience and all:

[S]he might have caused the stock market to plunge over 2,000 points in the six weeks after she assumed office, left important posts in the Treasury unfilled for two months, been described by insiders as "overwhelmed" by the office, and then gone on to diss the British Prime Minister on his first state visit, giving him, as one head of state to another, a set of DVDs plucked from the aisles of Wal Mart, a tasteful gift, even if they can’t be played on a TV in Britain... [a]s vice president, she might have told Katie Couric that when the stock market crashed in 1929, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went on TV to reassure a terrified nation. Or on her first trip abroad as Secretary of State, she might have, as the AP reported, "raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe... when she mispronounced her EU counterparts names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s," then gave the Russian minister a gag "reset" button, on which the word "reset" was translated incorrectly...

Oh yeah, the American voter is way too smart for that. Really.
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One Minute Theatre: Hamlet

Our recent pilot episode of “One Minute Theatre” was an enormous hit. We received two responses, one of them bold enough to use the comments box. With that kind of ground swell of support, we looked for a suitable edition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" in one minute. Now, there are a lot of claimants to the title out there. Most of what we found ran between two and three minutes, which tends to lose the idea of it being only one minute. Then we found one that was one minute long, but it was a line of students in identical tee-shirts taking turns with significant lines from the play. That was just retarded.

Thank goodness we found a one-minute production that actually ran for one minute. Not only that, but this allowed time for a little bonus, with the same production running in reverse. We were advised of possible satanic references in the latter, sort of like playing the Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" album backwards. I know a lot of you kids out there missed out on the opportunity that your parents are too tightly wound to admit they did in college. So pass the bong and enjoy!

And be back here next Wednesday at lunchtime, when we try to top this. (whew!)
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Do The Math

If Heather has two mommies, and each of them has two brothers, and one of those brothers has another man for a "roommate," how many uncles does Heather have?
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Obligatory Celtic Moment

[What follows is a compilation of past writings at mwbh for this occasion, with a few new surprises thrown in.]

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Patrick (387-493), patron of Ireland. It is on the Emerald Isle that the day is traditionally a religious holiday -- the bars would close and the churches would be full out of obligation -- with the more rebellious spirit of recent years, complete with parades and green beer, being an American import. So now the Irish get to be as obnoxious as the Americans they resent, for coming over to their country and trying to buy up what those "damn Yankees" claim are their ancestral lands.

Meanwhile, closer to home...

Growing up in a postwar Catholic environment, we were told that there were two kinds of people; those who were Irish, and those who wish they were. There were even Irish nuns who favored the Irish kids, and weren't above calling some miscreant a "jackass." Of course, my family fell into neither category, and I came to dismiss the whole notion of St Paddy's Day -- indeed, the whole notion of being Irish -- as a license for certain people to be more obnoxious than usual.

Then I went to college, where I discovered Irish music. I mean the real thing, not the over-romanticized "Christmas-in-Killarney-on-St-Patrick's-in-June" that passed itself off as genuine the whole time. I simply could not get enough of it. In the late 70s I helped out at a coffeehouse, where we even brought Clannad to town on their first American tour. I even gave Maire Brennan (pronounced MOY-uh) a ride back to where she was staying. Otherwise shy and aloof, she even laughed at my jokes. That seemed to matter at the time. The next time I saw her, it was five years later on VH1, singing "Something To Believe In." She was also the haunting voice behind the Volkswagen commercials. If only I'd known...

While I lived in Cin City, the feast became an annual ritual, of spending most of the accompanying weekend hanging out at Hap's Irish Pub in the Hyde Park section of Cincinnati, or Arnold's Bar and Grill downtown. Even when I moved to Washington in 1980, I learned Irish dancing, Irish folk tales, and the like. But the upscale bars in the Nation's capital weren't as quaint as the neighborhood pubs in my old hometown, and I was under no illusions that this heritage was one that I could claim for my own.

Then a few years ago, I was interviewed for a writing job by a priest who edited a major Catholic periodical. A native of Dublin, he reminded me of what really mattered:

"Patrick was not Irish, and on his Feast Day, we do not celebrate being Irish; we celebrate being Catholic."

I always knew that my father's side came from a small town near Verdun, in the Lorraine province of France. But in recent years, we learned that before the 18th century, the Alexandre line was expatriated from Scotland, a result of the Rebellion when England overtook them. More recently, I was to learn that Maganus Sucatus (aka Maewyn Succat) was of a Roman Briton family, born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland. Sooooo... if not being Irish were not enough, Patrick -- as he was known in later years, being of the Roman "patrician" class, and a "patriarch" to his spiritual charges -- might well be claimed by the Scots as one of their own.

One highlight of the day will be the Annual Irish Poetry Reading, which is basically when I call my folks in Ohio on this day every year, and with the speakerphone on, recite the following piece by Benjamin Hapgood Burt in a very bad Irish brogue:

One evening in October, when I was one-third sober,
   An' taking home a "load" with manly pride;
My poor feet began to stutter, so I lay down in the gutter,
   And a pig came up an' lay down by my side;
Then we sang "It's all fair weather when good fellows get together,"
   Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
"You can tell a man who 'boozes' by the company he chooses"
   And the pig got up and slowly walked away.


Today, those who are Irish, or who wish they were, will dine on Irish lamb stew. When I can ever find it amidst my stuff, I use this occasion to wear a button with the words of William Butler Yeats: "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree." I will listen to Celtic music the entire day, and get a take-out order of corned beef and cabbage from an Irish pub. Then tonight I'll probably watch Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Who cares if William Wallace was Scottish? No one cares if Patrick is, do they?

After all, "The Apostle of Ireland" is properly claimed by Catholics everywhere. "Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se."
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Where’s My Free Pony?

The phenomenon has been overlooked by the mainstream media, for the most part, but according to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center, it's getting harder to ignore. Across the nation, people are waking from the effects of Obamapalooza fever, to find out who's footing the bill for all the bailouts and "contractually obligated" bonuses. Eventually the status quo will decide that a series of "Tea Parties" revolting against excessive taxation is... well, you know, NEWS, and will manage to cough up something on the phenomenon.

Back home in Cincinnati, a crowd of about five thousand converged downtown at Fountain Square to make their point. Michelle Malkin reports on the event. The Virtuous Republic has tons of photos (including this one, used without permission or shame). He also provides links to more local coverage.

In the 2000 and 2004 Presidential races, Cincinnati was the lone urban area in Ohio to go Republican, joining the rural counties. For this past election, they joined the other Ohio cities in going Democratic.
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Cautionary Tales

JOSH: I don't think it's unreasonably macho for the White House to be aggressive in preserving democracy.

MANDY: Let me tell you something. Ultimately, it is not the nuts that are the greatest threat to democracy, as history has shown us over, and over, and OVER again. The greatest threat to democracy is the unbridled power of the state over it's citizens, which by the way, that power is always unleashed in the name of preservation.

JOSH: This isn't abstract, Mandy. This isn't a theoretical problem. The FBI says "Come out with your hands up," you come out with your hands up, at which point you are free to avail yourself of the entire justice system.

MANDY: Do you really believe that, or are you just pissed off 'cause I got in the game?


Actor Ron Silver, known for his portrayal of campaign political consultant Bruno Gianelli on NBC's The West Wing, died over the weekend after a long battle with esophageal cancer. He was 62. Silver, who was a political liberal and ardent Democrat for much of his political life, made a dramatic turn to the right in the wake of 9-11.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Here at Chez Alexandre, we obviously don't get to watch the round of Sunday morning talk shows like we used to. We're too busy with things like assisting at Mass ad majorem Dei gloriam. Although we here at mwbh appear to be very tech-savvy, we refused to be enslaved by the whole thing, and so have heretofore passed on such pedestrian conveniences as Tivo. Hey, if it's not up on YouTube or Hulu by the next morning, it obviously wasn't worth it. Let someone else do our dirty work.

There has been much made of Rush Limbaugh lately. It is usually dangerous for the reporter to become part of the story, but the Big Guy obviously couldn't resist the vigilant masses of Dittoheads at CPAC this year. So now we get to hear about him for the next few weeks. Even former Vice President came out of the bunker long enough to comment on a possible slugfest between the Rushmeister and the Obamessiah: "Hell, I'd pay to see that."

Meanwhile, over on the Fox News Channel, all the cool kids are going bonkers over Glenn Beck, that wild and crazy pundit guy, whose show is already "bigger than O'Reilly." Shepard Smith (the guy they have to keep now that they scared Alan Colmes away) can hardly contain himself. You can tell this is so, when a guy starts lapsing out of his News Guy speech mode and into his Southern drawl (Holly Springs, Mississippi, and alma mater Ole Miss, to be exact). Dan Rather would never let himself sink so low. But we forgive Shep. He's young, he's wet behind the ears, he'll calm down soon enough.

Hell, I'd pay to see that.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

“One Minute Theatre” is a new occasional series being test-piloted here at mwbh.

Our first (and hopefully not the last) installment, is a very condensed version of “Forrest Gump.” It was produced in the UK by students of the University of York Filmmaking Society. Directed/edited by Joe Burgess, Rocco Sulkin and Will Tribble. Filmed by Charlie Jiang. Artistic direction by Laura Archer and Mark Teece. Alice Gregson as Jenny. Catherine Simpson as Bench Lady. Geoff Gedroyc and Seb Owen organized stuff. Very special thanks to Expressions Vintage Clothing, York for lending the army costumes.

So it goes for this week’s Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who Is Qualified? Who Gets Elected?

[The following is a recent press release from Paul Streitz of the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee. It is featured here tonight because of its excellent historical analysis of the how and why of our Nation's choices of President. Its inclusion here does not imply agreement with all statements made about present candidates -- although it comes pretty close -- nor does it imply endorsement of a particular candidate. -- DLA]

The most frequent negative comment I receive about Gov. Sarah Palin running for President is, "she is not qualified." However, none of the writers provides any clue as to what the qualifications are. Is it the ability to run the one hundred meters in less than ten seconds? Is it graduating from an Ivy League school? Is it being a lawyer?

Obviously, no one is going to say that it is being of a particular sex, race or religion, even though that might play a factor in voting.

If we look at the past fifty years or so, we can see the minimum qualifications to be nominated for President by either major party. Nominated candidates have always been sitting Presidents, sitting Vice-Presidents, Senators, Governors or military heroes.

There have been no House of Representative members, big city mayors, or independent businessmen nominated in recent years. Woodrow Wilson was President of Princeton University. He was a disaster.

By this measure, Gov. Sarah Palin is certainly qualified to run for President. It should be remembered that as a sitting Governor, she is the executive branch of government that decides the direction of the administration. In short, what gets done and what won't get done. When a bridge falls down, or another such calamity occurs, the press doesn't want to speak to the Speaker of the House, or a government bureaucrat.

Governor Palin has responsibility for the budget and can veto bills passed by the legislature. She appoints administrators. In Alaska, she receives national security briefings. The Governor has negotiated multi-billion dollar contracts with oil companies.

United States Senators certainly take part in the legislative process of the federal government, but individually, they have nowhere the responsibility of any sitting governor. They have no executive powers, law enforcement responsibilities or governmental department responsibilities.

Those who are not in the select circle never get the nomination. They do not raise enough money, the media do not take them seriously and the voters do not "waste" their votes for what they perceive as a non-contender. To be in contention, that is be nominated, a potential candidate needs enough social status and experience and that is proven by the five positions named above.

"Who gets elected?" is another question. Obviously, the issues at hand matter and ideology as represented by political party count heavily, but other factors enter into the equation.

In general, the taller of the two candidates wins. Surprisingly to most people, Richard Nixon was six-foot one inch, but Jack Kennedy was six foot two inches. Barrak Obama is six foot four, while John McCain seems about five foot eight.

Intelligence as measured by high IQ or graduating from elite universities does not seem to matter very much. In fact, the Harvard-Yale axis of stupidity has given us twenty-four years of elites, in which Americans have had their country attacked, four wars, Kuwait, Kosovo, Iran and Afghanistan, $5.00 per gallon gas prices and now an economic meltdown that is not going to get better by throwing trillions at it.

Mitt Romney is the perfect "too smart candidate." He spent years in New Hampshire courting voters and lost. With his stiff manner and formal presentation, his speeches and personal appearances always seemed like boardroom talks to fellow Harvard lawyers and MBA.

He may have had the Midas touch in his business dealings, but he could not communicate to the average person. When he compared his son's religious missionary work to that of soldiers in combat, the average family that actually had sons and daughters in the military knew how out of touch he was.

McCain was equally out of touch, though not particularly, because he was brainy. His pitches for Free Trade lost him the industrial heartland of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. His open borders amnesty, simply enraged his party's base.

The more optimistic candidates usually win. Obama's political talk of wonderful "change" was on target in terms of emotion, although nobody knew what the content was. John McCain promised one hundred more years in Iraq, Iran or someplace in the world.

Obama promised wonderful, but nebulous "change," while John McCain went to Michigan and promoted Free Trade to NAFTA victims. Obama was selling the future, while John McCain was selling a failed past.

Americans have generally preferred the more aggressive candidate, even when they might totally disagree with the policies of the candidate. Harry Truman was not seen as much of a President by the voters. Thomas Dewey was inevitable thought the Republicans. Thomas Dewey conducted a back porch campaigned that was exceedingly dignified, while Truman kept battling right down to the end. Voters awarded Truman the Presidency.

The old war hero McCain refused to attack Obama. Perhaps too many years in the gentleman's club known as the U.S. Senate had taken the fight out of him. He refused to make an issue of Obama's association with Bill Ayers or Reverend Wright. He refused to ask to see Obama's birth certificate. He made nothing of Obama's most leftist voting record in the U.S. Senate or his habit of voting present in Illinois.

Gov. Sarah Palin wanted to attack Obama on his record and his associations. She was aptly self-described as a "pit-bull with lipstick." John McCain could aptly be described as a French poodle. John McCain in the last weeks of the campaign was more prepared to be the gentleman loser, and immediately after the election, he unctuously pandered to the new President elect.

The final nail in John McCain's self-made coffin was his behavior during the mortgage crisis in the last two weeks of the campaign.

John McCain had previously warned of the dangers of the subprime mortgages and had gone on record against government policies. He knew the issues. He knew the players. He was in a perfect position to take charge of this issue.

McCain could have gone to Washington, rallied the Republicans around him, presented a sound plan that did not give $700 billion to the banksters (a plan that 70% of Americans rejected) and presented it to the American people in a forceful and convincing manner.

McCain did nothing of the sort. He called off and then resumed the debates. He said nothing of substance on the bailout. He voted for the bailout. As leader of his political party, he did not rally his party supporters. He exhibited zero executive or leadership ability in a national crisis. His election tanked.

In summary, the qualification to run for President is experience as a vice-president, senator, governor, or military leader. The winning presidential candidate is more likely to be taller, more positive, a good communicator to the average person, and assertive.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Bailout Bailout

Just when you thought you'd read everything. Several governors in the South are refusing some or all of the Federal bailout money. They're about to be in distinguished company.

Financial institutions that are getting government bailout funds have been told to put off evictions and modify mortgages for distressed homeowners. They must let shareholders vote on executive pay packages. They must slash dividends, cancel employee training and morale-building exercises, and withdraw job offers to foreign citizens...

As public outrage swells over the rapidly growing cost of bailing out financial institutions, the Obama administration and lawmakers are attaching more and more strings...

Some bankers say the conditions have become so onerous that they want to return the bailout money...

This story is a real heartbreaker. Free registration to The New York Times may be required to join the funeral frenzy. Hurry before it goes under.
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A Bridgeport Too Far

This week, the buzz in the Catholic blogosphere is over certain actions being undertaken by the state legislature of Connecticut, as they relate to the administration of dioceses and parishes of the Catholic Church in that state. Not all the churches. Not some of the churches. Only the Catholic Church.

Naturally, with a story like this, everybody wants a piece of the action:

American Papist: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The Anchoress: 1

The Catholic Key: 1, 2, 3

Creative Minority Report: 1, 2, 3, 4

InsideCatholic.com: 1

The Knights of Columbus: 1

What Does The Prayer Really Say?: 1

The above is not even all that is out there. And we can't compete with any of it here at mwbh. What we CAN do, is tell you what they may have missed. Well, one or two of them came real damn close, and we'll tell you why. But first, we will set our stage with a little story.

William Lori is the Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Before that, he was an Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC. It was during the 1990s, as the Archbishop of Washington, James Cardinal Hickey, was in failing health, when it was understood that Bishop Lori was responsible for the daily administration of the Archdiocese. At that time, two colleagues of mine from a Jesuit parish in Georgetown where I used to work, and which shall remain nameless, were petitioning the Archdiocese for a Decree of Denunciation against their pastor, for allowing certain liturgical and pastoral abuses to continue unabated. The petitioners worked long and hard to make their case, got the best advice in the country for using the Church's system of jurisprudence, and succeeded in putting those in charge squarely in the dock. I take no pride in having no recollection of whether their petition was granted. But I distinctly remember an account, of His Excellency taking great exception to some of the pleading of the petitioners, regarding the pace of the Church's justice. "How dare you presume to tell us how to run things." This is what he was said to have told them. (Maybe he had a right to, but bear with us, dear reader.)

To the extent that this account is true (and it was obtained from the person who was themselves admonished), we might conclude that Bishop Lori is quite sure of himself and his command of a situation. How has that posture served him in Bridgeport?

The state legislature in Connecticut has decided they can manage the Catholic Church better than She can manage Herself, at least in Connecticut. We should mention at this point that Connecticut is known as "The Constitution State," because it was the vote of their delegates at the Continental Congress, that rendered the majority vote necessary to ratify the Constitution of the United States -- you know, the one that's being ignored right now, especially where it says...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Now, you'd think the legal dilemma would have been obvious, wouldn't you? But it's not to people who are determined to get what they want, by any means necessary. And when your manifesto is Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," you may or may not be thinking about what happens when you lose control of the scenario of your own making. Robespierre would eventually lose his head over no less.

This has yet to occur to really highly-educated, smarty-britches people like Professor Paul Lakeland. The former Jesuit priest is the Chair of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution (need we say more?) located near Bridgeport. Mr Smartybritches is the author of several books including “The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church." He is also an active member of Voice of the Faithful. An organization founded ostensibly to deal with the scandal of clerical sexual abuse, VOTF has long been involved in misguided efforts to challenge Church teaching and practice. In the past year, this extension of their mission has become more aggressive.

The premise of the bill is remarkably similar to the 2009-2010 Voice of the Faithful Strategic Plan. “The VOTF,” as Dr Lakeland explains, “grew up in response to the sex abuse scandals here. One of the things that became rapidly apparent, among both liberals and conservatives, was the sense that the bishops hadn’t done a very good job of handling this.”

Explaining his connection to the bill Dr Lakeland said, “I’m connected to [the bill] to this degree: I’ve been working pretty closely with Tom Gallagher, who’s a Greenwich businessman, who has been behind the push to get the state government to do something about this. Even though, I don’t think, even he was involved in putting the legislation together.”

Upon further investigation, Tom Gallagher seems to be more than just a Greenwich businessman, and to have more than just a passive role in lobbying legislators for the change. In a Voice of the Faithful article titled, “The Money Trail: Financial Management and Mismanagement in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” Joseph O’Callaghan quotes ‘Attorney’ Tom Gallagher multiple times...

Voice of the Faithful has been compliant in organizing this legislation. Their affiliate in Bridgeport has come out publicly in favor of it. They have been meeting on the property of a parish in the Bridgeport diocese since last September.

It is dangerous to assume that putting a committee of lay people in charge of the temporal goods of the Church, as opposed to clerics, will ensure more accountability, as opposed to merely spreading it around. To whom shall these delegates be responsible? At one time, parishes in America were under lay trusteeship. That it changed in most states over the course of the 19th century, was for several reasons, not the least of which was lay people misappropriating church funds. Remember, clerics are on the payroll, while laics generally are not. Which do you think can be called on the carpet more easily? Even today, in states like New Jersey, for example, you have a trustee system, where two laics are made responsible under state law. They are appointed by the pastor for limited terms. The thing is, this system is also in place in Connecticut. What difference did lay trusteeship make to Father Michael Jude Fay, former pastor of St John's in Darien, who walked off with over a million dollars? Did it stop members of VOTF from meeting on the grounds of that parish to discuss this legislation? What difference does it make whether it comes down to two trustees, or two dozen on a committee?

Maybe we cannot fault Bishop Lori for being unable to monitor the day-to-day movements of every one of his priests. We might even give him a pass for being unable to keep the Jesuits in line any better than any other bishop on the East Coast. What cannot be excused, however, is any pretention toward omnipotence. If Deal Hudson is right, "Bill 1098 is right out of the playbook of the Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful dissidents. It is the embodiment of the 'American Catholic Church' described in great detail by Professor Leonard Swidler of Temple University." The enemy has been inside the gate the entire time, and those who guard it are either unaware, or unconcerned. For now, the legislation is on hold, at least for this session, while the state Attorney General determines (gasp!) the constitutionality of such a law. Nevertheless, there is a rally tonight at the steps of the state capital, and Bishop Lori is reported to plan on being there to speak. He faces more than a crowd of angry, honest citizens this evening. He faces the need to be honest with himself.

When that moment of truth arrives, "How dare you presume to tell us how to run things." is not the ideal clarion call for leading the eleven o'clock news, let alone for leading the charge.

[LATE NIGHT UPDATE: According to a wire story from Reuters, "Connecticut's Republican governor, Jodi Rell, said the proposal 'was blatantly unconstitutional, insensitive and inappropriate.'" So, the ideals of truth, justice, and the American way are safe in the "Constitution State" -- for the moment.]
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Surrender Dorothy

Sal and I found ourselves settling temporarily in a small town in Kansas, in the middle of nowhere. It would only be for a few days.

Before Sal went with me to Ohio, she was convinced that the American midsection was rather backward, not unlike leaving her home just outside Metro Manila for "the provinces." Her experience of America, however, was until then limited to the East and West Coasts. She was surprised to learn differently. But visiting a ghost town in the prairie lands surprised both of us. To see nothing but empty fields for miles, to see a sky bigger than one had ever seen, is something you remember if you've never seen it before, or don't see it often enough. The weather-beaten houses looked deserted, one after the other. We knew people actually lived here, but we couldn't find them. I ventured out of the house where we were staying, to look for a gas station, police station, saloon -- anyplace where the lights were on and there were signs of life. I thought I saw something as I turned the corner...

Then I woke up.
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Monday, March 09, 2009

Turning Over

At the bottom of the sidebar to the right of this page, there is a counter identified as a "SiteMeter." Sometime in the last twenty-four hours, it passed the 100,000 mark. The device was introduced to this weblog on June 21, 2006, the fourth anniversary of mwbh. So in just under three years, have averaged just over one hundred visitors per day. This is consistent with the weekly reports sent to me by this service. Some weeks I get over two hundred. During the summer I get about sixty or seventy.

At its highest, the readership here is a pittance in terms of volume. This journal is, of course, meant for the discriminating reader, one who wants more than the usual yakkity-yak. To honor this event, Wikipedia has a fascinating presentation on the history of the odometer, a device that has been with us for longer than you might imagine. This is the kind of informative reading that brings our devoted readers -- and you both know who you are -- coming back for more.

That's how we roll here at man with black hat.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Transfiguration

He said, write down the vision
    that you had,
    and I wrote what I saw.

I saw the world
    kissing its own darkness.

It happened thus:
    I rose to meet the sunrise
    and suddenly over the hill
    a horde appeared
    dragging a huge tarpaulin.
They covered unwary land
    and hapless city
    and all sweet water and fields.
And there was no sunrise.

I strained my eyes for a path
    and there was no path.
I bumped into trees and the bushes hissed at me,
    and the long-armed brambles cried in a strident voice:
    never through here!
But I struggled on, fumbling my beads of no.

I came to a dark city where nobody knew
    that there was darkness.
And strange! though there was no light I still coud see
    what I did not want to see:
    people who moved to the loveless embrace of folly.
They ate her gourmet foods; they drank her wine,
    danced to her music that was crazed with rhythm,
    were themselves discord though they knew it not,
    or if they knew, cared less.

Outside the city wall I stood in thought,
    parried a moment with a frieghtening urge
    to court the darkness;
    but I held back, fearing the face of love.

Crossing a field I wandered through a desert
    when suddenly behind a rock I found
    a little sagebrush where a fire was burning,
    shining and dancing. After my first amazed
    worship of silence I was loud with praise.

I watched with fear the darkness circling it.
    lunging against it, swirling a black cloak
    to suffocate the light,
    until the shades broke loose and one by one
    in terror fled.

The flame burned on, innocent, unimperiled.
There was no darkness that could put it out.

-- Jessica Powers, aka Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD
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Friday, March 06, 2009

Las Ketchup is a Latin Grammy Award-winning vocal group of four sisters named Lola, Pilar, Lucía, and (more recently) Rocío Muñoz, all from Córdoba, Spain. Their father is the flamenco guitarist Juan Muñoz, better known (as luck would have it) as "El Tomate" ("The Tomato.") This is the official video to their 2006 signature hit, while they were still a trio, entitled "Aserejé" (known as "The Ketchup Song" in the UK). The song has been a chart-topper all over Europe, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. It was featured on their first album, entitled "Las hijas del Tomate" ("Tomato's daughters").

The song is also said to have an accompanying dance, sort of like the Macarena. Since it never make a big break into the USA charts, you won't see your Aunt Minnie doing it at a wedding anytime soon. (Deo gratias.) Why did I pick "The Ketchup Song" for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy? You tell me.

The title of their next album is said to be named for their upcoming hit, "Bloody Mary." One can only imagine...
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Sharp Dressed Man

Every girl's crazy 'bout 'em. That's why Esquire magazine listed their choices for the world's best. First, the bad news for all you Messiah-chasers out there, is that Obama placed fourth in the lineup. The top slot belongs to the heir to the British throne, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales.

"He is perfectly turned out in a double-breasted suit. Admirably, the prince keeps his wardrobe in appropriate style: we're told he has a room laid out like a tailor's shop..." Prince Charles, 60, keeps it simple and has worn suits by Saville Row tailors Gieves and Hawkes, complete with pocket handkerchief and silk tie, for years. Esquire said he was "always incredibly well dressed."

No, we don't have room for a picture of him. We can do better. While we're on the subject of sharp dressed men, let's give a shout to "that little band from Texas," ZZ Top, as they give it up for a kick-@$$-take-no-prisoners stage performance in the Lone Star State, complete with the signature subtle choreography during the guitar break. These guys are best known for their terrific music videos. Our research department simply couldn't come up with one. So a live performance is the next best thing.

While researching this material, we found that this piece was performed by a contestant on "American Idol," and has also been performed by -- get this! -- The Jonas Brothers. Anything to make underage girls swoon, I suppose. But it only goes to show, that chicks of all ages also dig guys who play guitar. That's why we are using this as yet another lame excuse, to feature another "garage band" workshop, from a guy who appears to know what he's doing. Note the importance of the distortion effect to give the electric sound the proper dosage of grit. You gotta be plugged in for this bad boy. Yes, ma'am. To find out more, write to this gent at "beginnerguitarlesson at yahoo dot com." Tell him who sent ya.

But before we go, we just cannot resist the opportunity to present an up-close-and-personal blues workshop with Billy Gibbons, the man behind the aforementioned magic. Notice the dual track approach of flatpicking the "walk" on the lower strings, punctuated by interspersed accents on the higher strings by up-stroking with the middle and ring fingers. This is geared for players of intermediate ability, but even for the beginner, this six minutes could very well change your life.

God bless Texas.
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

“Do” is NOT a Female Deer

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks,
You ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas,
Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden,
A paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi...


The above is the chorus of a song by Woody Guthrie entitled "Do Re Mi" written during the Great Depression, about migrants from Oklahoma and neighboring states, who moved to California in search of a better life, and away from the dust bowl storms of the 1930s.

It is also a Catholic invention. Jeffrey Tucker explains:

In his pedagogy, [an 11th century Benedictine monk named Guido d'Arezzo] adapted an existing song to illustrate the scale: Ut Queant Laxis, a hymn to St John the Baptist, who was then considered the patron saint of singers. On the first syllable of each ascending note, the words were Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol – the very foundation of music pedagogy to this day: do, re, mi, etc...

We're not putting you on, kids. From the Gregorian calendar to double-digit accounting,* the Catholic Church invented damn near everything worth admiring about Western civilization, including a rendition of the chant featured on our first video clip. On the other hand, She is probably not responsible for the second clip.

* "K.H." writes to inform me that the proper term is not double-digit accounting, but "double-entry bookkeeping." I don't know what either one is, I just write the stuff. The ugly truth has now been revealed...
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Party Like It’s 3/3/09

CNET News reports that today "is Square Root Day, a rare holiday that occurs when the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits of the current year. Numerically, March 3, 2009, can be expressed as 3/3/09, or mathematically as √9 = 3, or 3² = 3 × 3 = 9." A lot of people have been doing the math lately, and things just aren't adding up. Father Z reports that the next Square Root Day is 4/4/16. Maybe things will add up by then.
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Monday, March 02, 2009

A League Of Her Own?

Sooner or later, every young man whose income is just short of stinking rich, has to face the awful truth. He is going to fall for a woman whom he discovers is -- and this is the part that hurts -- "out of his league." (It happened to me twice in my younger days, but that's another story...) It's not the rejection itself. It's not differences in values or goals in life. Sometimes it never has to come to any of that. It's when they're out on the town, and the young man discovers that he couldn't possibly keep the young lady in the grand style to which she has become accustomed.

Maybe that's why none of those young men are going to feel the least bit sorry for Almost-First Daughter Meghan McCain, whose father is Senator John McCain, that guy who ran for President last year:

The election killed my personal life... Somewhere in between college and the election, I started allowing politics to dictate the kind of men I date. And the worst part is, it’s not just Obama supporters who turn me off—it’s often my father’s... One extreme fan of my mother’s recently told me I could be “his Cindy.” And then asked me if I ever wore pearls because they probably would look as good on me as they do on my mother...

It gets worse. In reading her reflections on the campaign in The Daily Beast, it's obvious the only men she ever runs into, are no different than the one-dimensional stuffshirts that ran her father's campaign.

Meghan, dear, if you're reading this right now, somewhere out there is a gentleman who has made or is making his own fortune in life. He doesn't need your family's money, he doesn't care how many houses they own, and he doesn't forge relationships on the basis of what that person can do for him. He values... well, values, over political ideology. And inasmuch as he doesn't need your family name or notoriety, he would be more likely to accept you as you are. This means you probably won't meet him in Washington.

There are only two questions to ask yourself: Would you recognize such a man if you met him? And would he recognize you?

Welcome to life with the rest of us. Or should I say, the same league?

(PHOTO: Robyn Beck, Agence France-Presse. Used without permission or shame.)
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

“I’m too sexy for my church, too sexy for my church, so sexy it hurts...”

Lately we've read a lot of how the Vatican has created terrible public relations blunders, by making nice with Jewish leaders, by lifting the excommunications of separatist bishops, by pissing off Jewish leaders... the list goes on. The Cornell Society for a Good Time wants to know "Should the Holy Father be 'with it'?"

It is a good question, and an article worth reading. Depending on the answer, it can lead us down the wrong path. Some traditional Catholics believe that the late John Paul II tried too hard to cultivate a "rock star" image. I ask myself that question, whenever I walk through a Catholic bookstore these days, wondering how it is possible to add five mysteries to the "traditional" rosary, without reinventing the term "Our Lady's Psalter." (If you have to ask what that means, you're in no position to challenge it. Alas, another story for another day...) I also wonder about it when people attempt to assign delusions of grandeur to the very different man who is our current Pope. If this is how excited we get when an 80-year-old priest is seen in public wearing sunglasses, we’ve got a bigger problem with ourselves than the Vatican does with its public image.

I suspect the Holy Father gave up trying to second-guess the quirks of skeptics and unbelievers a long time ago. If you want to see a REALLY bad bungling of a popularity contest, read the sixth chapter of John. Obviously the subject of that episode should have paid better attention to his handlers. Likewise, when the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops were lifted, the Holy See had no control over who would or who would not “get it” when it came to what did and/or did not happen. In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter whether an empty suit on the evening news, or a certain nearly-bankrupt major daily newspaper makes of it. Those who want to know the real deal, know where to look, and where not to.

“We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Cor 1:23) Did we really think we’d have better luck with anything else?
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Invocabit me...

We read in the gospel that our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, because Christ had taken his flesh from you to give you his salvation, his death from you to give you his life, his insults from you to give you his honor, and the temptations from you to give you his victory.

If we have been tempted in him, in him also we triumph over the devil. You are perfectly aware that Christ was tempted, but do you not see that he has carried off the victory? Recognize yourself in him in his temptation, recognize yourself in him in his victory. He could have prevented the devil from coming to him; but had he not been tempted how could he have taught us how to overcome temptation?

Moreover, there is nothing surprising in the fact that, harassed by temptations, he cried out from the end of the earth. But how is it that he is not overcome? "You will set me high upon a rock." From this we see who it is that is crying out from the earth's end. Remember the gospel: "On this rock I will build my church." She it is, then, who cries out from the earth's end, the Church whom he had wished to build on the rock.

-- Saint Augustine
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