Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Scandal in Suburbia

The Washington Post, in a recent installment of the ironically-named column "On Faith," reports on a situation developing at a parish in the Virginia suburbs of DC.

The popular music director at a Catholic parish in Fairfax says her pastor demanded her resignation after she was quoted in a Washington Post article sympathizing with the women's ordination movement. The pastor denies the assertion ...

A volunteer organist quit in support of the music director, and an effort is underway to get the church musicians to boycott playing at Mass in protest. Others are rallying behind the pastor.

It seems that the music director of this parish, a former nun married to a former priest, took complete leave of her senses, and made comments on the record to a major newspaper, dissenting from a constant teaching of the Church.

Sylvia Mulherin, 69, a former nun married to a former priest, said that Jesus was progressive in his treatment of women but that, over time, men unjustly pushed women out. "Maybe the women don't have to come in the back door, but we still have to sit in the pews," said Mulherin, who lives in Fairfax County.

The pastor is not going to comment on a personnel matter. He's not supposed to. But it's very likely that any telephone conservation they had, amounted to his recourse to persuasion, that she disassociate herself from the position just as publicly as she assumed it. That probably didn't go over well, so the pastor had no choice but to disassociate her from her job -- you know, the one on the payroll of that from which she was dissenting.

Hey, doesn't the REAL world work that way? Diss your employer in public one day, out on the street the next day. Who knew? Many of the parishioners don't, because they're supposedly divided over this, and a woman who didn't want the Post to make anything out of this ...

... tearfully asked The Post not to write about her situation.

"I was a faithful person, and I thought you could express yourself but didn't recognize that there is no further discussion allowed on this point," she said Wednesday. "Frankly, I've always done exactly what they want and never went against anything. ... please let this go, I don't want to get involved."

And with that, Sylvia Mulherin appears to be the inspiration for an attempted boycott of the parish music program.

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Saint Leo's may be the last parish in the world where one might expect such drama. The church building itself is a typical example of poorly inspired modern architecture. A large blank brick wall in the middle of the sanctuary, was for years the setting for a gigantic felt banner, that was amateurishly conceived, and perfectly dreadful. With each change to the liturgical season, it would be replaced by another equally gigantic and equally dreadful banner. Thankfully, a renovation of the sanctuary in the last few years (a magnificent job, by the way!) eliminated the need for such a monstrosity -- Deo gratias! -- at which time a celebration could well have ensued, the banners consumed in a large bonfire, surrounded by the faithful joyfully singing Te Deum.

But I imagine they're not that inventive.

In the mid-1990s, I was a member of a schola put together by a parishioner there. At our first attempt, the Mass began with the celebrant prattling on for several minutes after the Greeting, about the Latin Mass of days gone by and what-not. The endeavor didn't last long, as we didn't so much sing the Mass, as we did sing AT the Mass, and not even the whole setting, which is a guaranteed kiss of death for a beginning schola. Oh, but the pastor was "completely supportive of us." It probably helped that we weren't too much of an imposition.

A few years later, there was an opening for a director/musician for the Sunday evening folk choir. I must have been a glutton for punishment at the time, because I was one of two applicants. The job went to the other guy. It's just as well, for in the years that followed, they succumed to purveying that praise-and-worship Steubenville sound from the charismatic movement, the kind that brings out the obnoxious in flattop-flogging guitar slingers everywhere.

And finally, it was several years ago that Saint Leo's was ...

... [the] suburban parish where Father Benedict Groeschel was the main celebrant. The entrance hymn concluded, and the celebrant was about to begin. Just then, a concelebrating priest in residence interrupted the Rite of Greeting [and] went on for several minutes while standing at the altar of God, about what a privilege it was to have such a holy man in our midsts, I was genuinely embarrassed for the good friar. I was also reminded of what I hate most about Mass "facing the people." If only for a few minutes, we were not there to worship God, but Father Groeschel.

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So now you ask, hey, Mister Black Hat Guy, what can your limited experience with this parish possibly teach us about our Faith, and the Meaning of Life?

Ah, my little minions, there is so much to tell.

You see, many of us are inclined to confuse "orthodox" with "middle of the road." We want to reach the most number of people with the message we would share. We transfer this aspiration with the desire to please that most number, and offend the least number. We don't want to lose our audience. So we find that place that ensures us a peaceful existence, where everybody is more-or-less happy, and the accolades (and the money) keeps rolling in. The problem is, to be a Catholic is not to stand in the middle of the road, but in a very clearly defined center. What is the difference? The difference is that we don't necessarily please anybody, except the Only One Who Matters.

Is that the problem at Saint Leo's? I don't know. But I do know this. Only a fool would let this happen to them, knowing full well the consequences. Only a selfish, self-absorbed, aging adolescent would forget, that being in a position of responsibility in a community of faith, and then becoming a source of scandal, has the potential of dragging others into the fray, compelling them to take sides. And only a community of faith which has allowed themselves to be lulled into a stupor, would have enough fools among them to even think of there being two sides to this.

At the end of the day, there is only the Truth, and that is the only side that matters.

Faced with the daunting task of defending that Truth, is the pastor. As one who is charged with the care of souls, he may find himself in the thankless position of re-catechizing his parish. One might wonder if, somewhere along the line, enough of them were misled, as to what is means to be Catholic. Such misdirection could have taken place over many years. Any effort to correct this dysfunction must fall to him.

For all her pretense at shying away from controversy, Sylvia Mulherin has knowingly and willingly placed herself at the very heart of it. She has the power to remove herself from that position. Let the heavens rejoice when she does.

[DISCLAIMER: The above reflects the opinion of the writer, and only the writer. In so doing, he does not presume to speak for any agent of the Diocese of Arlington, nor is he of the understanding that such is required of him.]

[UPDATE: The story has been picked up by the National Catholic Reporter. There is no shortage of intellectual giants in the comments section.]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ralph McInerney and the Undiscovered Thomist

In the reformed Roman calendar, the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas is celebrated on January 28, the date of the transfer of his relics to Toulouse.* It was on the following day this year, that we lost one of the giants of Thomism, Professor Ralph McInerney, a philosopher, novelist, and founder of the Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame. He was only a few weeks shy of his eighty-first birthday.

A biography can be found at

Thomism -- the theology and philosophy of the saint known as “The Angelic Doctor” -- was something I learned as a boy at the dinner table. It is natural for children to question certain assumptions about the world, especially as it affects them, and they begin to develop opinions and outlooks apart from the world of their parents. It was while breaking bread as a family, amidst the wave of libertine sentiment that was emerging in popular culture of the 1960s, that we learned of man as “a reasoning animal.” Further, if nature abhors a vacuum, and if the nature of the universe is held together by an “uncreated Creator” who lent order to what would otherwise be chaos, then it followed that “everything you do in life is either a plus or a minus.” We also learned the value of a sound premise in any form of debate.

Early in the decade, I had the opportunity to hear Dr McInerney speak at Christendom College. It was only then that I learned that I was a Thomist the entire time, and didn't even know it. It was also in speaking with him afterwords, as I shared my childhood experience with him, that I learned of how my father's seminary training was among the best in the nation in the 1940s.

Many will remember Dr McInerney for his astute scholarship, his writing of The Father Dowling Mysteries, and his other great literary works. I remember him as the man who gave meaning to one part of my sojourn in life.

May he rest in peace. Amen.

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* In the traditional Roman calendar, the feast was on March 7, the date of his death. As it was a significant saint's day that often fell during Lent, a case was made for its transfer to another suitable date.

Let’s Go Crazy: Part Deux

We have more pictures from the Big-@$$ Karaoke Hunka-Hunka-Burnin' Love Fest earlier this week. (Click here. You know you want to.)

FAMW: Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

Earlier this month, we featured “Mad Movies with the LA Connection” for the weekly Whimsy. Well, there's much, much more. As we said before, there was a standard opening for this show, and the first clip is what it looked like. Check out the clothes and the hair; like the 70s, only less embarrassing. Our host interviews Carrie Moore, one of the stars from the movie being lampooned, namely “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” also starring Robert Wagner, Peter Graves, Richard Boone, and Gilbert Roland. This was originally a 1953 American adventure film directed by Robert Webb, with screenplay by A I Bezzerides.

It was supposedly inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Here's the plot I stole from Wikipedia: Mike and Tony Petrakis are Greek American father and son sponge diving entrepreneurs who find themselves in competition with the Rhys family, WASP fishermen who are prepared to resort to violence and even murder to maintain their established fishing grounds off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Run-ins between the two clans lead to an exchange of threats and all-out brawls. Further complications ensue when Tony Petrakis meets Gwyneth Rhys, and the two fall in love.

This film was also the third motion picture produced in what was called “Cinemascope” (after "The Robe" and "How to Marry a Millionaire"). This was a method of producing a panoramic image to make it seem more lifelike, as if you were actually there in the middle of the action while eating popcorn and making out with your girlfriend. It was soon made obsolete by “Panavision.” Sometime between then and now, all the “full screen” movies you bought on DVD were replaced by “wide screen” versions. So you had to go out and buy a new television set with a wider screen just to avoid those lame black bands above and below the action.

Now you know where it all began.

A review from the New York Times was not encouraging: “Another and further extension of the range of CinemaScope ... is handsomely manifested in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef ... But that, when you come right down to it, is just about the only novelty provided by this third employment of the anamorphic lens. For the scenes shot above the surface, while large and imposing, are routine, and the drama developed in the screen play is hackneyed and banal. And, unfortunately, most of the picture takes place above, not below, the reef ... There is nothing at all fascinating or edifying here. Variety was kinder in its assessment, sort of: “In handling the young cast, Robert D Webb's direction is less effective, particularly in the case of Robert Wagner and Terry Moore. Both are likable, so the shallowness of their performances is no serious handicap to the entertainment.

Obviously there was room for improvement, which came a generation later, in the form which you see here, for our Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

“We are the champions, my friend.”

As this writer descended from farmers in southern and western Ohio, it is only reasonable that, sooner or later, he'd be out standing in his field. Right?

On that note, we here at mwbh would like to welcome visitors from MASTER BLOGS: A Guide to Outstanding Blogs, as it has been discovered that this weblog was among the new entries (most recently updated last July, whatever) in the “People Blogs” subcategory of the “Society Blogs” category. (Did everybody follow that?)

They mention something on the main page about giving out letter grades. There hasn't been one disclosed for us just yet. Other than that, here's the lowdown, the straight skinny:

MASTER BLOGS checks out blogs (found through various sources) and rates them with letter grades of A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D & F. Only blogs with a grade of A- or higher (less than 7% of all blogs checked) make the cut and are considered as "outstanding" blogs.

Two-thirds of the score is based on the content (should be juicy). Also, an outstanding blog must be active or updated regularly, but does not have to be done daily (or even, weekly). Bloggers are entitled to vacations, holidays, sick days and take off occasionally. Also, it is better to have no entry rather than a lousy entry.

One-third of the score is based on the web design. The layout should be appealing. The colors should be eye-catching, but not make the text difficult to read. There can be lots of arrows and links, but the navigation got to be sensible and easy to use.

Everybody get that? Juicy content! Eye-Catching Design! That's the ticket!!! We don't plaster cheap-@$$ pictures of every holy card found in the prayer book we got on First Communion day. And we don't rack up thousands of hits with endless pictures of liturgical eye-candy and clever witticisms. But hey, you won't find Mark Shea on the list, or Creative Minority Report, or that American Papist guy, nosiree. For one shining moment, we are the MASTER!

Now then, let's go see what Father Z is having for dinner.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Atlanta Calling

My son Paul is leaving for Atlanta on Monday. As this is written, he's running around loose, tying up loose ends. I got some furniture and other household items out of storage for him. Anything to keep the overhead to a minimum. He's making a list, he's checking it twice, and we're going over it this weekend.

Anyone who's a parent knows the feeling, the one when an adult child leaves the nest. Of course, he's lived on his own in the area for the last three years. But it's different this time. It also calls to mind a decision I had to make about thirty years ago, when I wasn't much older than him. I tell myself, hey, he's only going to live there for two or three years, until he completes his studies, and then ...

That's why I required him to listen to a homily by Father Paul Scalia, pastor of St John the Beloved, McLean, Virginia. I told him there would be a quiz.

[PHOTO: Corpus Christi Preschool, Falls Church VA, November 1991. Subject left of center.]

No Hiding Place in Egypt

There was a time when Christianity flourished across the north of Africa and the Middle East. This was no longer the case before the end of the first millennium. Even the great city of Hippo in what is now Algeria, seat of the bishop Saint Augustine and home of three church councils, fell to the Muslims by the end of the eighth century, and is home only to a titular bishop. We fail to appreciate how, in a country like Egypt, where Our Lord's parents found refuge for Him against Herod, there is no refuge for Christians, especially those who convert from Islam.

But there is refuge in America. It is precisely because we are a Judeo-Christian nation, where assent to belief is an act of free will and not under threat of death, that adherents to Islam are free to worship as they choose. This writer can openly discuss beliefs with his Muslim neighbor, and no harm is done.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Defense of High-End Cable

The only reporting on the State of the Union address, which I have ever watched in the last twenty years, has been on Comedy Central. I went book shopping tonight, a much better use of my time. (Found a nice book too. I'll tell you later.) Had I watched it, I would have heard the President (you know, the guy who didn't want limits on political contributions to him, but is calling for limits to others) rip the Supreme Court for having the audacity to rule, that freedom of speech applies to people who make their own money for a living, as well as people who spend someone else's.

Watch the guy in the robe on the left about halfway into the clip. That's Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head and quietly saying “not true” in the midst of a standing ovation. I could be wrong, but isn't dissing the High Court some kind of break in protocol, as State of the Union addresses go? Can't say for sure, but Father Z reports via Twitter that “Justices by custom don't applaud.”

Oh well. Time now for some serious news coverage. The Colbert Report is on. “Why should my broker, Morgan Stanley, have fewer rights than my barber, Stanley Morgan?”


[POSTSCRIPT: Linda Greenhouse of the NYT provides a legal analysis. Subscription required.]


The launch is happening. Right now. Check with for the live blogfeed.

Steve Jobs had this to say, among other things: "The problem is Netbooks aren't better at anything." That got a round of cheers. Well, uh, no, they're not supposed to be better, Einstein, they're supposed to be smaller and cheaper. If I want better, I'll shell out three or four times as much.



Apple coughs up its own announcement, and reports that the iPad won't use Adobe Flash. The reaction in Twitland runs the proverbial gamut.

b@#$%&t: HTML 5 replaces much of Flash does and Apple is driving sites to switch ... You've been able to play YouTube videos on the iPhone (which has never had Flash) for the past 2.5 years ... HTML 5 plays video without needing Flash. Flash is just a wrapper that requires a browser plugin. HTML 5 does away with the plugin.

johnhalton: So, it's not the future of the computer. It's a big iPhone ... iPad has same RAM, lower CPU speed, fewer (i.e. zero) USB ports, less storage than my netbook. No camera. Crap name ... They'd sell tons if they put a sticker on the front that said in nice, friendly letters "Don't Panic".

fender_splendor: it should be pretty funny to hear people with boston accents say "ipad" and hear someone reply, "i'm sorry, what? ipod?" over and over again.

Let’s Go Crazy

The dynamic duo of Champagne Spectacular (Robert Johnson and Paul “Fender Splendor” Alexander) took the $500 grand prize last night, in the 2nd Annual H Street Karaoke Competition Final at the Rock and Roll Hotel in northeast Washington, DC. They had everything going for them. For one thing, most of the competition was bad. I don't just mean America's-Got-Talent bad, but party-in-your-living-room-drunk bad. The other factor was a well-rehearsed act, and the perfect song -- as much as I hate to admit it, “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and the Revolution.

We were there to bear witness to the first act, but had to leave before the second. Still, he knew we were there for him. Naturally, we had backstage passes.

Additional images will appear at this post before the end of the day, or the end of the week, or whenever someone decides to cough them up. Stay tuned ...

UPDATES! We've got pictures -- well, a couple. One is Paul as Pikachu, which is a perennial favorite of his. He still has all his Pokemon action figures from the McDonald's happy meals. Then there's Rob as (duh!) a robot. Together they brought down the house with an “Intergalactic” finale. More incriminating evidence found by clicking here. (CONTENT ADVISORY: Language, here and there.)

[IMAGES: (1) Paul Alexander via Facebook. (2,3) Some guy with Used without permission or shame.]


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Karaoke: Oh, the humanity!

I hate karaoke. Really. The very thought of drunken businessmen from out of town completely humiliating themselves, is enough to give me the chills. Even worse are those electronic devices used for creating the total karaoke experience in the home. This is obviously a deterrent to any family member learning to play a live musical instrument, thus rendering it another nail in the coffin of Western civilization, and all that we hold dear.

With full knowledge of this, Sal loves karaoke, as do most Filipinos, or so I'm told, for reasons that mystify me.

My son also loves karaoke, which mystifies me even more. He also has a great singing voice. It might be even better than mine. I'm not sure, because I've only heard it once. That was in the summer of 2003 and we went to Seattle. He got a permit for a street musician at the Pike Street Market. Every morning he'd take the bus downtown, alone (he was going on eighteen) with his trusty blues harmonica in hand, and attempt to work off the cost of the permit.

But tonight, I'll hear it a second time, during the 2nd Annual H Street Karaoke Competition Final at the Rock and Roll Hotel in northeast Washington, DC. Sal is coming along, as I expect to be somewhat out of my element, and her presence tends to ... uh, let's just say, compensate. We'll order dinner, and watch with hundreds of screaming fans, as Paul and his cohort Robert Johnson (not to be confused with the great blues guitarist who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil for the mastering of his craft) compete for the grand prize of $500.00!

I'll just keep telling myself that he's in it for the money.

[PHOTOS: (1) Source and date unknown. (2) Paul with Roy Carrier, Catonsville, Maryland, March, 2003; Copyright 2003 Alex Poliakoff, used without permission or shame.]

Monday, January 25, 2010

True Confessions (from the Washington Post)

(The highest praise that can be won, is for an avowed adversary to publicly concede that you might be on to something. Witness this gem from -- DLA)

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney was one of the few mainstream media reports to show any appreciation for the March for Life. Here is an excerpt from his story: “I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. What's more, with a Democrat in the White House likely to appoint justices who support abortion rights, surely the Supreme Court isn't going to overturn Roe in the foreseeable future. How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it's gaining strength, even if it's not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous. In this case, I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march. It suggests that the battle over abortion will endure for a long time to come.

The Obligatory “Apple Tablet” Post

Admit it. We knew this would happen sooner or later.

As a breathless tech community awaits Steve Jobs' expected announcement of an Apple tablet computer this week [Wednesday?], the online speculation has gone into hyperdrive ...

We have a report from (the online edition of The Detroit Free Press), as well as a clip from's own Brian Tong.

I got a Nook this past Christmas. Well, officially anyway. It arrived last week. (Thanks, Paul. You're really swell!) I've yet to open it, since I want a slipcover for it before I lug it around clumsy people other than myself. Despite some mixed reviews from first users, which has been met by the prospect of a free software patch to enhance performance later this year, I find that the new-and-much-talked-about B&N device is preferable to Amazon's Kindle and Sony's E-Reader. Not only can the Nook read PDF files (and I already have a number of books in that format), but it reads them as is, as opposed to just text, and in a more compact size than the upscale Kindle DX.

I've been a Mac user for over twenty years, mostly at the high end of the product line. In my experience, the new tablet -- will they call it the “iPad” or the “iGotcha”? -- will cost twice as much and perform half as well as it should, and that users with any prudence (and limited financial resources) will wait at least a year for the “improved” and marked-down version.

Eventually, the lines between cell phones, e-readers, and personal computers, will converge either into one device, or a set of interdependent devices -- say a wristwatch that functions as a cell phone, with a Bluetooth-linked micro-netbook small enough to carry on a belt, and a listening peripheral also linked via Bluetooth, and/or an alternate set of eyeglasses with interior visual readout. Then we'll all chuck what we have now and go get the whole set.

My money's on the end of the decade. What sayest thou?


[THIS JUST IN: According to the Christian Science Monitor, Apple may not be alone in rolling out a tablet computer this year.]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Patrick Archbold talked me into this ...

... in light of recent events, such as the (temporary) derailing of the health care bill, and the continued overwhelming turnout at the annual March for Life -- you know, the one the press keeps trying to pretend doesn't happen every year. Anyway, the co-founder of Creative Minority Report wants me to print the following ...

Non nobis,
    non nobis, Domine

Not to us,
    not to us, o Lord,
Sed nomini tuo
    da gloriam.

But to your name
    give glory.

... as well as link to or embed this video, from a scene the end of the Battle of Agincourt, in the movie Henry V, because he's afraid that our victory over evil will go to our heads.

He's probably right.

Friday, January 22, 2010

FAMW: “I'm Scott Brown, and I drive a truck.”

Yes, you've seen this man's political victory touted as (sort of) a good thing in this venue -- if for no other reason, than that no one should treat an elected office as though the constituency owes it to them or their progeny, as if it were a title of nobility. Or something. That said, here's what I wrote at the Faith & Family blog:

Scott Brown’s victory is that of the kind of conservative, that only a state like Massachusetts could produce. Yes, he upset the Kennedy apple cart, and that’s a good thing. But what the Bay State now has, is just another country-club pro-choice Republican in the Rockefeller-Romney tradition. Sure, he drives a truck. Big deal. When I was twelve, I drove a tractor. Let’s not get too excited about this, okay? He’ll only break your heart in the end. Remember Arlen Specter? Uh-huh. Just sayin'.

A rather dark-humored selection for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

“Blogs For Life” Twitcast and Transcript

As this is published, the “Blogs For Life” Conference is about to begin. This fifth annual gathering of pro-life bloggers and online social media activists, sponsored by the Family Research Council in Washington DC, is being held in conjunction with the annual March for Life. It also beats the bejeezus out of standing in the cold.

You can check the schedule at, and watch the live webcast at Or you can go to ...

... for that special brand of color commentary which only mwbh can give. (A transcript thereof will appear later in the day.) Whatever you decide, it's almost like being there, only I am, and you're not.

And now ...


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What follows is the official transcript of the Twitter messages sent out in real time earlier today. Statements considered by this writer to be of particular import are in bold type. Text below each message is relative to approximately 1:45 pm local time, and are maintained in italics, to give some idea of time elapsed. Some comments have been subsequently edited for correction and clarity.

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We're here at the Family Research Council in DC, and our special "twitcast" is about to begin. Nice place, convenient to Metro, but ....
about 6 hours ago from web

I know they call them "laptops" for a reason, but really, I could use a table. Or one of those little desks for students. Just sayin'.
about 6 hours ago from web

Kudos to the FRC for having this event. And for letting me turn the chair in front of me around. What could go wrong?
about 5 hours ago from web

Jill Stanek has begun, as emcee and introducer of speakers.
about 5 hours ago from web

Kristen Day is from "Democrats for Life." I'd love to me a member, just to know how that works. "Prolifers are not partisan.' Uh-huh.
about 5 hours ago from web

The quote was from Ms Stanek, not Ms Day. Just sayin'.
about 5 hours ago from web

NOTA BENE: The webcast is almost live. About a three-second delay.
about 5 hours ago from web

People don't think about Democrats when it comes to prolife issues. She quotes from Hubert Humphrey about the test of government ...
about 5 hours ago from web

... as it pertains to protection of all stages of life. Wonder what he would think today, because when you put it that way, it makes sense.
about 5 hours ago from web

31% of Democrats think abortion should be illegal in all cases. Huh???
about 5 hours ago from web

According to Gallup, 49% of women in the USA are prolife, and 37% of Democrat women. Similar results for Afro-American women, and Latinos.
about 5 hours ago from web

Very upbeat presentation, while duly noting a growing visibility of pro-life Democrats.
about 5 hours ago from web

Question: How do we release the stranglehold on Democrats with the anti-life agenda? Ms Day gives a defense of Sen Nelson and his role.
about 5 hours ago from web

Joseph Farah of is the next speaker. "We've heard from a prolife Democrat [and now] we'll hear from a prolife newsman."
about 5 hours ago from web

Any society needs a consensus on certain moral issues. The Founders dealt with this issue concerning slavery. Yet "we hold these truths ..."
about 5 hours ago from web

"No matter what the Supreme Court says ... abortion is illegal, and unconstitutional." Refer to the preamble of the Constitution itself.
about 5 hours ago from web

Roe v Wade is an artificial construct, citing a "right to privacy" not found in the Law, and abrogating a "right" fundamental to the Law.
about 5 hours ago from web

The New York Times was a "Christian advocate" speaking out against abortion -- in the 1850s.
about 5 hours ago from web

Question re CBS interview of Justice Scalia (from yours truly) about his quote that the 14th amendment, equal protection under the law ...
about 5 hours ago from web

... did not apply to protection of the unborn. The good judge was challenged by this speaker at the time to read the Law more closely.
about 5 hours ago from web

The Prolife Blog Award winners, numbering three, appear on the panel.
about 5 hours ago from web

The first awardee, from the Operation Rescue blog, is speaking of the dark side of the abortion industry, and efforts to shut it down.
about 5 hours ago from web

The second speaker [Monte Harms of] is new to the blogosphere, but has come on strong in getting the news out.
about 5 hours ago from web

This guy provides hundreds of links ... He posts once a week only. He's a "one-stop shop."
about 5 hours ago from web

The third awardee won the "Pro-Life Whistleblower Award." The author of Pro-Life Defender has done a little jail time. Committed? oh yes!
about 5 hours ago from web

The next speaker, Carol Clews, is Executive Director of the Center for Pregnancy Concerns in Baltimore.
about 5 hours ago from web

There are scores of women who really do not want abortions, and they need a place to truly consider all their options.
about 5 hours ago from web

"We provide a long list of services. All of them are free." She goes on with an impressive list of such services.
about 5 hours ago from web

Stories of testimony before Baltimore City Council, on a proposal to require signage saying they didn't provide abortions. Genesis 50:20.
about 4 hours ago from web

They put up the mandated sign, along with a bigger not-so-mandated sign. Hey they didn't say what she COULDN'T do, right?
about 4 hours ago from web

Most of the speakers are women. You'd almost think this was a "women's issue." Who knew?
about 4 hours ago from web

Kristin Hansen is vice-president of communications for ...
about 4 hours ago from web

... with a book for attendees entitled "A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life. Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report 2009."
about 4 hours ago from web

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B Anthony List. Yours truly has assisted at their fundraisers in the past.
about 4 hours ago from web

SBA List is outpacing NOW and other women's organizations in fundraising. Would love to see the stats on that, cuz that's impressive.
about 4 hours ago from web

The election of Scott Brown to the Senate is a good sign from a STRATEGIC point of view, to "change the conversation" in Washington. Oh???
about 4 hours ago from web

We're at the break, but I got something I want to say to those attending the rally for the March, about the presence of Father Jenkins ...
about 4 hours ago from web

... president of Notre Dame. Oh yeah, he's one of the speakers. Don't jeer, don't boo him. Just turn your back. If everyone does that ...
about 4 hours ago from web

.... maybe those clowns who invited him will get the hint. While less likely, he might get it too. At least he's bringing the marching band....
about 4 hours ago from web

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
about 4 hours ago from web

The next speaker is Congressman Todd Akin, Republican from Missouri. The "Show Me" State.
about 4 hours ago from web

Our congressman-guest was inspired by the Pro-Life Movement to run for Congress at the offset. His talk is on the role of great leaders ...
about 4 hours ago from web

.... who stay committed to a great cause, even when all is lost.
about 4 hours ago from web

Question from yours truly re the election of Scott Brown. The answer basically elaborates on HOW his victory will "change the conversation."
about 4 hours ago from web

Charmaine Yoest, PhD, is president and CEO of Americans United for Life, the first national pro-life organization.
about 4 hours ago from web

(Welcome to my latest follower. I'm getting more, not less, in the middle of this. That's good, yes?)
about 4 hours ago from web

AUL is totally committed to the use of "new media" to get out the message. Case in point:
about 4 hours ago from web

"Next year we're gonna [try to] do it as a Wii."
about 4 hours ago from web

Gave a deomonstration: text @wif15150 to 87884 to send a message to the March. [Guess what message I sent. See earlier.]
about 3 hours ago from web

The next panel discussion is on emerging online technologies. Featured: Molotov Mitchell, Illuminati Pictures; Peter Shinn, President ...
about 3 hours ago from web

... of Pro-Life Unity; Founder, Blogs for Life; Krystle Weeks, Web Editor, Family Research Council.
about 3 hours ago from web

(Another new follower. Am I on to something here?)
about 3 hours ago from web

Congressman Jim Jordan from Ohio just showed up. I was in the back. I introduced myself. Dad was born and raised just south of his district.
about 3 hours ago from web

Question about the use of Facebook to create "fan pages." While becoming popular as a replacement for "groups"....
about 3 hours ago from web

.... yours truly finds the interface of Facebook to be rather clumsy. The transition from groups to fan pages is a case in point.
about 3 hours ago from web

The gentleman from Ohio is at the podium now.
about 3 hours ago from web

As terrible as Roe v Wade is, the congressman considers it a joy to converge on this city and "celebrate life!" Can I get an Amen???
about 3 hours ago from web

Life, and the liberty to preserve it, is paramount. Hey, we've been saying that all along. I love this guy cuz great minds think alike.
about 3 hours ago from web

"Finally, thank you for being optimistic. We're gonna win this thing."
about 3 hours ago from web

Be like David against Goliath. "He's so big I can't miss."
about 3 hours ago from web
about 3 hours ago from web

"If you make decisions as a congressman, it is best to make it in terms of the fundamental institution, the family. "Is this good for ...?"
about 3 hours ago from web

"Continue to speak the truth. That is always the most successful way."
about 3 hours ago from web

If a law being considered is bad for the family, it's bad for America. So, there you go.
about 3 hours ago from web

Tony Perkins is President of the Family Research Council. He is scheduled as the final speaker.
about 3 hours ago from web

Perkins is speaking about the ability to "finally" get through the filter that is the mainstream media.
about 3 hours ago from web

"The American people are increasing[ly] standing on the side of life."
about 3 hours ago from web

"We saw the government foiled on the health care plan because of the abortion issue." (Real important, dear reader!)
about 3 hours ago from web

Question about relation to Tea Party movement. Can it propel the pro-life movement sooner rather than later?
about 3 hours ago from web

People are getting in touch with the desire (once again) to be able to control their own destiny, to govern themselves.
about 3 hours ago from web

The Tea Party movement is currently broad in scope, and in its infancy. Basically a "wait and see" assessment.
about 3 hours ago from web

Question from a young man who was the product of a rape, decrying the lack of unity among prolifers, as opposed to the abortion industry.
about 3 hours ago from web

Statement of the attack on African-Americans on the part of Planned Parenthood.
about 3 hours ago from web

The actual final speaker is David Prentice, PhD, Senior Fellow for Life Sciences, FRC, ...
about 3 hours ago from web

(A third new follower. Is it three times a charm, or three strikes and you're out. Just askin' ...)
about 3 hours ago from web

Adult stem cells are in everybody, and are much more effective in medical tests than embryonic cells. See
about 3 hours ago from web

They are showing two dramatic short videos of people cured of debilitating illnesses due to ADULT stem cells. One young lady can walk again.
about 2 hours ago from web

They're wrapping up, but I gotta tell ya. Go to to read the transcript of this twitcast on the web.
about 2 hours ago from web

The end.
about 2 hours ago from web

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Following the conference, this writer had an opportunity to speak to speak with Doctor Prentice, and we hope to have the results of that talk on this page by early next week. In the meantime, thanks to all who followed this in real time. A special thanks to Matthew Archbold of Creative Minority Report, who is linking to this via Creative Minority Reader.

THIS JUST IN: Our American Papist has called our attention to the slideshow of the March from The Washington Times. And just when we thought the press would ignore the largest annual public gathering in the Nation's capital.

We ain't goin' away, you cake-eaters! The rest of you fine folks, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

“Blogs For Life” Twitcast Tomorrow

So, what in the name of Heaven would YOU call it?

I'll call it as I see it tomorrow morning, from the fifth annual conference of pro-life bloggers and online social media activists, sponsored by the Family Research Council, which is hosting “Blogs For Life” in conjunction with the annual March for Life.

Speakers will include Jill Stanek (, Kristen Day (Democrats for Life), Joseph Farah (WorldNetDaily), Carol Clews (Center for Pregnancy Concerns), Kristin Hansen (CareNet), Marjorie Dannenfelser (Susan B. Anthony List), Charmaine Yoest (Americans United for Life), David Prentice (, Rep Todd Akin (R-MO), Tony Perkins (FRC) and Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH).

We should have all the little birdies going tweet-tweet-tweet, shortly after the 8:30 am starting time. A transcript with commentary will be published in a subsequent post by day's end. Be there. Aloha.

Haiti: Ben Macintyre Explains It All For You

France is one of the countries that says the USA has no business being in Haiti. After all, who the hell do we think we are, providing an onslaught of food, medical services, and other disaster assistance, free of charge? And that's before the outpouring of support, financial and otherwise, from the American public. But if you're going to decide whether to help a neighbor get back on their feet again, who better to ask for advice than those who got them into the mess in the first place?

Where does the fault lie in Haiti? For geologists, it lies on the line between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. For some, the earthquake is evidence of God’s wrath ... for many Haitians, the fault lies earlier — with Haiti’s colonial experience, the slavers and extortionists of empire who crippled it with debt and permanently stunted the economy. The fault line runs back 200 years, directly to France.

Ben Macintyre of The London Times gives us a much-needed history lesson.


(h/t to John Halton.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

“Fellow citizens, what happened in this election can happen all over America. We are witnesses, you and I, to the truth that ideals, hard work, and strength of heart can overcome any political machine. We ran a campaign never to be forgotten, and led a cause that deserved and received all that we could give it.

“And now, because of your independence, and your trust, I will hold for a time the seat once filled by patriots from John Quincy Adams to John F Kennedy and his brother Ted. As I proudly take up the duty you have given me, I promise to do my best for Massachusetts and America every time the roll is called.

“I go to Washington as the representative of no faction or interest, answering only to my conscience and to the people. I’ve got a lot to learn in the Senate, but I know who I am and I know who I serve.

“I’m Scott Brown,

“I’m from Wrentham,

“I drive a truck, and I am nobody’s senator but yours.

(h/t to Hot Air.)

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” - Gen George C Patton

Former Secretary of State James Baker once said, “Someone asked me what was the most important thing I had learned since being in Washington. I replied that it was the fact that temporal power is fleeting.” Baker went on to observe that once driving through the White House gates he saw a man walking alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and recognized him as having been Secretary of State in a previous administration. “There he was alone - no reporters, no security, no adoring public, no trappings of power. Just one solitary man alone with his thoughts. And that mental picture continually serves to remind me of the impermanence of power and the impermanence of place.”

(h/t to

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mass Backwards

From Mass Hysteria to Massachusetts ...

Jon Stewart, pretend-anchorman of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, can be given some credit for his bi-partisan approach to taking shots at the movers and shakers, at a time when the mainstream press is still in the recovery stages of Chronic Leg Tingle Syndrome. The special election for the United States Senate seat in Massachusetts (where 44 percent of the population is Catholic, for all the difference that makes) is coming to a head, and the state Attorney General running as a Democrat can't seem to stop being her own worst enemy, with enough public gaffes to embarrass even the current Vice President (and by cracky, do we love him for it!).

“In fact, the Democrats have a greater majority than the Republicans have had since 1923! But ...”

Watch the whole thing; it's comedy gold!

[CONTENT ADVISORY: Expletives noticeably deleted, with one possible exception.]

Only You Can Prevent Mass Hysteria!

Father Z at WDTPRS was sent a nine-minute video by a seminarian on how to serve the Mass, entitled “Altar Serving 101”. I stole it when he wasn't looking. It is presented by Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD, of St Therese of Lisieux Church, Alhambra, California. This is intended for the reformed liturgy (aka "Novus Ordo" aka "New Mass" aka "Ordinary Form") celebrated "versus populum" (facing the people).

As one who has trained numerous altar servers over the years, in both forms of the Roman Rite, I can safely say it's better than nothing, and it's better than what I usually saw in my travels before I gave up attending the Ordinary Form when traveling. I recommend it for the average parish.

I would make note of the suggestion that girls or women who serve put their hair back. For that matter, jewelry should not be worn, including rings (although custom makes an exception for a wedding band). This is to avoid anything that detracts from the central action -- yes, there are customs about this. If I had my way, females who serve would have to be veiled; again, for reasons of custom and decorum.* I would also expect them to wear albs and not cassocks and surplices, as cassocks are ostensibly male attire.

Again, if I had my way.

Also featured in the video is a man identified only as “Joe of St Therese” and the author of Verbum Veritatis in Mahonyland. He's not hard to miss in the white sneakers. Yeah, I see that a lot too.

My favorite line in the clip: “That’s your bread and wine, baby!”


* This is a standard which applies to both males AND females when serving, so all you pseudo-intellectual cake-eaters out there, don't even START with me.

More of the More-Or-Less Best of 2009

We've had a noticeable increase in readership here at man with black hat. As a result, there has been a lot of demand for more of selected writings of the past year.

Or maybe it was the voices in my head, I don't remember.

But what the hey! It's time to give out a shout to readers of Tiny House Living, who were brought to our pages by its author, Michael Janzen. Earlier this month, we wrote a preview of what to expect in the coming year. And just as was the case then, it was difficult to choose which ones So while you stick around for the future, let's have some more blasts from the past with yet another “Top Twelve” list to follow the last one.

My Ann Coulter Moment - Wed Jan 7

I remember back in the day at a CYO dance, when a local garage band called "Roach" played this one. John Walsh was the singer/guitarist, and the Otten brothers backed him up. Those guys sure were a lot of fun. Then after getting into drugs and stuff and being obnoxious, they all found Jesus and became even more obnoxious. Last I heard ...

The Importance of Being Ardent - Wed Feb 18

They got the same great seats in the Cathedral when the new Bishop was installed, while the average parishioner waited for some doofus in the chancery, to dole out remaining tickets ... many of the senators and congressmen in (very prominent) attendance were then, and remain today, avid supporters of "a woman's right to choose."

Judica me, Deus ... - Sun Mar 29

[T]he 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 ...

Here Comes The Sun: My Wannabe Jewish Moment - Mon Apr 13

One thing you can say about Jews that you cannot say about Catholics, is that they understand how dance can be a form of religious ritual, as opposed to watching a bunch of skinny girls in tights. Most Christians, including Catholics, who promote "liturgical dance" simply don't get it.

Village People - Wed May 20

Catholics are being warned by a few good priests, of a coming persecution ... There is a need for faithful Catholics to avoid a fortress mentality ... It pertains not only to the role of the laity in bearing witness to the Gospel to others, but in a special way, amongst themselves ... It is not enough to love our neighbor ...

The Once and Future Century - Mon Jun 1

I have been writing a novel about the future. The preliminary research and extensive note-taking began over a year ago. The story itself started being written about two months ago. Recently, I have come across two sources ... Neither example, from what I can tell, goes into any great length on trust in Divine Providence. This puts them at a significant disadvantage.

Ohio - Sun Jul 19

Sal got to visit her very first American county fair. She wasn't much for the cattle or hog barns, but she loved the poultry exhibits. Poultry husbandry in the city limits has long been common in the Philippines, and this city girl's parents raised chickens and quails when she was young. Her brother also raised prize roosters -- mostly for, er, uh, competitive use ...

Matthew’s Lament - Tue Aug 18

Take a guy who writes something really great, something every Catholic with a pulse should read at some point their lifetime ... Whose comment box gets filled? Not the guy who wrote the piece, but the internet gadfly who linked to it ...

Can I Put You On Hold ... Forever? - Thu Sep 24

I can remember in the 1960s, when our phone was on a party line. If it was for us, we got a ring. But the person who had our line could get on and complain that we were tying up the phone. I remember this happening as late as 1970. "You kids shouldn't be on for more than fifteen minutes, you hear me?" Yes, ma'am.

Bless me, Father ... if it’s not too much to ask. - Sat Oct 24

Well, the pastor shows up with his dog, and ... he gets started with the Mass without fanfare, but with his dog for an acolyte. At first I was shocked by the animal being there, until it became clear that the dog behaved better than most of the people ... I left that evening, convinced that I was being unfair to the dog.

“Wherever we were going, well, we’re here.” - Mon Nov 9

We've heard a great deal about hope in the past year, haven't we? Most of us really don't know the meaning of the word. We think of "hope" in terms of wanting something that someone else has ... [however] hope is the bridge that ties faith and charity together, and binds them as one.

The Holiday That Dare Not Speak Its Name - Tue Dec 1

AIDS probably deserves its own holiday because of its unique role in society. It is the only public health issue in which the professional community does not warn against indulging its cause. After all, that would be a hate crime. This is probably not what some people mean by "silence equals death." One thing leads to another, though, and so ...

And with that, dear reader, we return to the here and now. For more rummaging through the mwbh closet, check the sidebar section entitled “My Back Pages” on the right.

And don't be a stranger, ya hear?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pants on the Ground

I just got this from Paul via Facebook. I don't remember if I ever told him about my Neil Young phase when I was in high school, but it was forty years ago this year when I first strapped a harmonica around my neck. When I learned I could play two instruments simultaneously, the whole world changed.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon appears to have had the same idea, with a Neil Young remix of a bizarre song introduced to the world on American Idol by contestant Jeremy Platt.

“With the gold in your mouth/hat turned sideways/pants hit the ground/call yourself a cool cat/lookin like a fool/walkin downtown with your pants on the ground.”

I can always count on Paul for what I'm missing by keeping regular hours. (choke!) I'm so proud of him.

Farewell to Camelot?

It was called “the Kennedy seat” on the assumption that, if the Senate seat in Massachusetts held by the late Edward Kennedy didn't go to one of his family, it would go to whomever had their blessing. It doesn't look as if that is going to happen. Chris Matthews of MSNBC, still reeling from the after-effects of Chronic Leg Tingle Syndrome, maintains that this may be a statewide referendum on the health care bill, but not on the guy who's pushing it. If you can follow his line of reasoning, do tell.

Did I mention this guy went to a Jesuit college?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nuptiae factae sunt in Cana Galiliaeae ...

“At that time there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus himself and his disciples had also been invited ...” (John 2: 1-2)

+    +    +

The marriage at Cana is a showing of the joy that Christ brought into the world. Here, at his Mother's request, our Lord worked his first public miracle. It is a delight to think that this first miracle was in no way connected with unhappiness. It was not healing sickness, forgiving sins, or raising the dead; it was simply giving joy, more joy, to people who were already rejoicing ...

The joy of God is a wine that changes the drab, cold colorless substance of human nature into the rich crimson, warm vitality of supernatural life. It changes discouragement to hope, doubt to faith, it lights up the mind and in its light men see that the problems of the world today, which seemed insurmountable, are straws in the power of God, and in his name even a creature as little and weak as man can overcome them.

How can such a change of heart happen? Only by a miracle, it is true, and who can work such a miracle but Christ? When a man comes to this world with Christ in his heart, he too can work this miracle in Christ's name ...

-- Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thomas Sowell Explains It All For You

“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dateline Port-au-Prince

President Obama was finally able to get through to the President of Haiti, after several failed attempts due to the country's severely damaged infrastructure. According to CBS News, Rene Preval said that “the needs in his country are great, but that aid is now making its way to the Haitian people. Preval ended the call with a message to the American people, saying ‘from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Haitian people, thank you, thank you, thank you.


As this is written, the US Army 82nd Airborne is already on location, assisting not only with search and rescue efforts, but with policing the capital. CBS News reports on gangs roving the streets with machetes, with looting and hoarding of emergency aid becoming rampant. NBC News reports on US Coast Guard medical corpsmen in some areas of the country, who are tending to the wounded. They have an immediate need for surgical personnel, who are still days away.

So great is the devastation, that Haiti has lost the ability to take care of itself. The USA plans to send more than 10,000 military personnel by next week. But the ports are closed and the roads are damaged, and the ability to physically get any help at all to where it is needed, remains the biggest challenge.

Meanwhile, if you are a doctor or a nurse and want to assist, JetBlue is offering free flights to Haiti. Call the Haitian Consolate in New York City at 212-697-9760, or e-mail "contact at haitianconsulate-nyc dot org."

Through it all, NBC's Ann Curry says that “the heart of America has opened up.”

Let's keep it up, America. HOO-rah!


This segment would normally be devoted to our usual Moment of Whimsy, but I'm just not in the mood -- not only because of the news from Haiti, although that is very sad.

Last week I got news from home, that Mom fell while taking care of Dad, and injured her shoulder. The pain medication made her incoherent at times. Just when we thought things were complicated enough, we learned she had kidney failure. It appears to be in the early stages, and it's not the first time, but it does complicate things. The prospect of elevating their care is on the horizon. I have two younger sisters in the area. The older one is a geriatric nurse, and she's taking a leave of absence to care for them. The younger one is over there several times a week. My brother handles their affairs, and any maintenance on the property. The only thing I can offer (besides knowing when to stay out of the way), is an opinion on the prospect of live-in care. I've got my people working on it right now.

In the interim, while seeking consolation, I found this clip. The Choirboys are a boyband from the UK, formed in 2005, made up of ... well, choirboys from a cathedral. As their voices inevitably change, there's been a bit of turnover in the last five years. But not before appearing on GMTV to sing “Tears in Heaven” written by Eric Clapton when he lost his son in a tragic accident.

Of course, your prayers would be appreciated. Mine would go something like this:

“Dearest Mother, before you could become the Consoler of the Afflicted, you first had to know true sorrow. I pause with you now, and meditate on that great suffering in your life, the death and burial of your most beloved Son ...”

Haiti Revisited

We're getting more information on the situation in Haiti.

The greatest need right now is for money. In addition, they need water for drinking, or at least the means of purifying it. In terms of supplies, they need food, obviously, but also medical supplies. The latter would include emergency, medical, and search and rescue personnel. As this is written, we have this from Fairfax County, Virginia:

VATF1 Deploys to Haiti January 13, 2010 -- Virginia Task Force 1 (VATF-1), Fairfax County's urban search and rescue team was activated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Tuesday evening, January 12, 2010, to the earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The task force is composed of 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines, search and technical rescue personnel, physicians, paramedics, structural engineers, other support personnel, and approximately 48 tons of rescue equipment and supplies. The team is self-sustaining for approximately 14 days. The task force left from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Academy at 8:15 a.m., January 13, 2010. The team will depart from Dulles International Airport late morning today. ...

The above also gives an idea of the manner of volunteer personnel needed at this time. If you fit the bill, and have time on your hands, you might try contacting the U S Agency for International Development. If you have any luck, shoot off an e-mail (manwithblackhat at yahoo dot com) and let us know.

If you are looking for friends or loved ones in Haiti, the International Committee of the Red Cross has erected a database. You can also Haiti to 90999 on your cell phone to send a $10.00 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. The donation will be charged to your phone bill. Or you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

There is also a desperate need for shelter. Many Haitians live in deplorable substandard housing; cardboard boxes, wooden planks nailed together, anything they can find. One idea that has come across our desk, is from PFNC Global, an affordable housing endeavor co-founded by Pablo Nava, a recent graduate of Notre Dame. Given that thousands of shipping containers are left unused in the USA every year, they could be used to ship necessary emergency supplies, before being converted to housing: (We will have more on this last item, and others like it, later this year, in our series on affordable and sustainable housing. Stay tuned ...)

Finally, Habitat for Humanity International is addressing the need for more immediate shelter. Also, a Texas-based company called Worldflower Garden Domes has designed geodesic dome framing as a quick and reasonably stable solution.

[PHOTO AT TOP RIGHT: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz. Used without permission or shame.]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does!

If Sarah Palin isn't too smart, what does that make Mika Brzezinski, who picked Abraham Lincoln as her favorite Founding Father? Wait until 1:04 into the clip. That's the same Abraham Lincoln who was nary a twinkle in his mother's eye when the Constitution was ratified.

But that's not what's really bugging me right now. I'm disappointed in Buchanan for picking Hamilton instead of Jefferson. I always understood that Hamilton favored a strong central government, while Jefferson leaned more toward the rights of states.

Am I mistaken? Can somebody shed light on this?

[UPDATE: We got the answer we were looking for, from that Cranky Conservative himself, Paul Zummo. He directed our attention to a piece he has done entitled “Jefferson and Rousseau – On Democracy”. He is also doing a series on The Federalist Papers. If you love reading history as much as we do here at mwbh, click here and/or here.]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One of the advantages to being Catholic ...

... is that a living Magisterium can rely on two millennia of constant teaching to discern the will of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to the bizarre speculation of a guy who claims to hear a voice in his head that just happens to be ... well, God. Probably. Take his word for it. Don't ask him why. And call that number at the bottom of the screen.

Now, the charities associated with Pat Robertson and The 700 Club will undoubtedly launch a great relief effort to Haiti in the next few days. More power to them. But so will Catholic Relief Services, and it will be without pretending to know why God allows some people to suffer and not others. If we did not suffer, we would not seek out God. If we did not seek out God, we would not find Him.

C S Lewis reminded us that God gives us the gift of suffering, so that we may be witnesses to His glory, and that we may be His instruments here on earth. Someone should remind Pat Robertson, before he says something really stupid.

For now, may God bless the people of Haiti, and may He have mercy on us all.

FLOTUS: New Year, New Sartorial Strategy

I should probably read Hot Air less and The Huffington Post more, not only because I'd get a broader view of the political scene, but I'd be more tuned into the burning issues of our time. Health care legislation? The economy? Earthquakes in the Caribbean? No, dear minions! I'm talking about the First Lady's hair.

This illustration (which I stole from the erudite pages of The Huffington Post, by the way; I'm just sayin'...) shows how it looked in November, as well as how it looks this month. Notice how it was brushed back last fall, to reveal just a little too much of her forehead, not to mention that look of ... well, let's call it determination, on her face. Seriously, every time I see her on television, or in the newspapers, she always seems a little upset about something. I realize such perceptions are not always reliable. I've lived in this town long enough to know, that the public persona of an individual is not necessarily how they are in private. You know, as in real life.

Still with me? Okay, now look at the January version. Notice how her hair falls naturally along the edges of her face, to flatter it by softening the edges a little. It was a brilliant decision that will have ramifications at soirees and cocktail parties from The Hill to Hollywood.

And now, the Nation can move forward.