William (aka Bill the Godfather)

William (aka Bill the Godfather)

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Liberal Campaign Against Freedom of Speech on College Campuses

In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.”

“Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief.

The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan rally. Someone was offended, therefore someone else must be guilty of harassment.

This non sequitur reflects the right never to be annoyed, a new campus entitlement. Legions of administrators, who now outnumber full-time faculty, are kept busy making students mind their manners, with good manners understood as conformity to liberal politics.
Read the rest here

Roman Catholic Traddies Dreaming On The Feast of St. Andrew

What if for the Feast of St. Andrew (patron of Constantinople), the Pope had restored the Patriarchate of Constantinople? By appointing a Catholic as Patriarch, that is what Pope Leo XIII did for the venerable Church of St. Mark in Alexandria: "We ... from the plenitude of apostolic power restore the Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria and establish it for the Copts. ... To us it is most desired that the dissenting Copts look upon the Catholic Hierarchy in truth before God; that is to say the hierarchy which on account of communion with the Chair of Peter and his successors alone can legitimately restore the Church founded by St. Mark, and alone is heir of the entire memory, whatever has been faithfully handed on to the Alexandrian Patriarchate from those ancient forebears." (Acta Sanctae Sedis 28, p. 257-260, anno 1895-1896)
Read the rest here.

Some of the comments are quite revealing.

Pretty much everything you eat is associated with cancer, so relax and dig in

It is, perhaps, one of the most common health-care headlines: A new study linking a new food with a cancer risk. Search for “foods associated with cancer” and Google returns 196 million results, including new studies this month on salt, aspartame and high-carb diets.

Well, good news! You probably don’t have to pay much attention to any of those studies: The vast majority of studies purporting to link foods to cancer have incredibly weak associations, often insignificant, according to new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Read the rest here.

Move Update

Good news (for a change); we have been promised that internet will be up and running sometime Monday at the new domicile. Of course we will have to see. But if true, it would mean a very short down time for the blog and email.

Christians, liberals left out as Islamists back Egypt's draft constitution

CAIRO -- Islamists approved a draft constitution for Egypt early Friday without the participation of liberal and Christian members, seeking to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel with a rushed, marathon vote that further inflames the conflict between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi.

The vote by the constituent assembly advanced a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women's rights and other liberties.

The draft, which the assembly plans to deliver to the president Saturday, must be put to a nationwide referendum within 30 days. Morsi said Thursday it will be held "soon."
Read the rest here.

Two-thirds of millionaires left Britain to avoid 50% tax rate

Almost two-thirds of the country’s million-pound earners disappeared from Britain after the introduction of the 50p top rate of tax, figures have disclosed.

In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.

This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.

The figures have been seized upon by the Conservatives to claim that increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.

It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes.
Read the rest here.

Senate Votes to Protect Some From Military Imprisonment

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted late on Thursday to prohibit the government from imprisoning American citizens and green card holders apprehended in the United States in indefinite detention without trial.

While the move appeared to bolster protections for domestic civil liberties, it was opposed by an array of rights groups who claimed it implied that other types of people inside the United States could be placed in military detention, opening the door to using the military to perform police functions.

The measure was an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which is now pending on the Senate floor, and was sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah. The Senate approved adding it to the bill by a vote of 67 to 29.
Read the rest here.

After UN Vote Israel Authorizes New Settlements In Disputed Lands

JERUSALEM — As the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Friday that the decision was made late Thursday night to move forward on “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for housing units in E1, which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Israel also authorized the construction of 3,000 housing units in other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the official said.

The prime minister’s office refused to comment on whether the settlement expansion — first reported on Twitter by a reporter for the Israeli daily Haaretz — was punishment for the Palestinians’ success in upgrading its status from nonmember observer entity to nonmember observer state at the United Nations, but it was widely seen as such. The United States, one of only eight countries that stood with Israel in voting against the Palestinians’ upgrade, has for two decades vigorously opposed construction in E1, a 3,000-acre expanse of hilly parkland where a police station was opened in 2008.
Read the rest here.

Someone explain to me why we are arming a nation engaged in aggressive policies of colonialism and territorial annexation?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moving - Limited Posting For a While

This weekend I am relocating and anticipate that there will be a period of extremely limited blogging until I get internet service up and running at the new domicile. Likewise expect delays in response to email. Making matters even more fun is that we are expecting some perfectly dreadful weather over the weekend. Why would I have even hoped for anything else?

So yeah, Friday will likely be the last day of regular blogging for a little while. Tomorrow night I am probably going to set all comments for moderation in order to prevent abusive or SPAM posts. Again please be patient if your comment takes a couple of days to get through.

Top 10 Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained

10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.
7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.
5. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.
4. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
1. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.
From blog reader Eric.

White House Sends Leftward Budget Proposals To Congress

WASHINGTON — House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, was likely to meet strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other entitlements, to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might well be outnumbered by upfront spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare.
Read the rest here.

Britain: Judge issues damning report on the press

LONDON — The leader of a major inquiry into the standards of British newspapers triggered by the phone hacking scandal offered an excoriating critique of the press as a whole on Thursday, saying it displayed “significant and reckless disregard for accuracy,” and urged the press to form an independent regulator to be underpinned by law.

The report singled out Rupert Murdoch’s defunct tabloid The News of the World for sharp criticism.

“Too many stories in too many newspapers were the subject of complaints from too many people with too little in the way of titles taking responsibility, or considering the consequences for the individuals involved,” the head of the inquiry, Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson, said in a 46-page summary of the findings in his long-awaited, 1,987-page report published in four volumes.

“The ball moves back into the politicians’ court,” Sir Brian said, referring to what form new and tighter regulations should take. “They must now decide who guards the guardians.”
Read the rest here

UN upgrades Palestinian status, bolstering statehood claim

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution on Thursday giving implicit recognition to Palestinian statehood despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding funds for the West Bank government.

The resolution, which lifts the Palestinian Authority's U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican possesses, easily passed the 193-nation General Assembly with 138 nations voting in favor, and nine opposed, including the United States. Forty-one countries abstained, including the United Kingdom.
Read the rest here.

China Mafia-Style Hack Attack Drives California Firm to Brink

During his civil lawsuit against the People’s Republic of China, Brian Milburn says he never once saw one of the country’s lawyers. He read no court documents from China’s attorneys because they filed none. The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed.

That doesn’t mean Milburn’s adversary had no contact with him.

For three years, a group of hackers from China waged a relentless campaign of cyber harassment against Solid Oak Software Inc., Milburn’s family-owned, eight-person firm in Santa Barbara, California. The attack began less than two weeks after Milburn publicly accused China of appropriating his company’s parental filtering software, CYBERsitter, for a national Internet censoring project. And it ended shortly after he settled a $2.2 billion lawsuit against the Chinese government and a string of computer companies last April.

In between, the hackers assailed Solid Oak’s computer systems, shutting down web and e-mail servers, spying on an employee with her webcam, and gaining access to sensitive files in a battle that caused company revenues to tumble and brought it within a hair’s breadth of collapse.
Read the rest here.

HT: MG

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coming Soon: An American 'Downton Abbey'

Julian Fellowes, the creator of the British period drama “Downton Abbey,” has concluded a deal to create a new period drama for NBC based on the Gilded Age of New York City, the network announced on Tuesday.

The new television drama will be produced by the NBC Universal television studio.

In its release, NBC described the series, which will be called “The Gilded Age,” as an “epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made — and spent — in late 19th century New York.”

Mr. Fellowes said in a statement, “This was a vivid time with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.”
Read the rest here.

I suppose it was inevitable, but I have doubts about this. It's an interesting period in history to be sure. My fear though is that this will just be a sort of "Dallas" set in the 1880's instead of a serious exploration of Gilded Age Society. Yes, money and greed were big factors but there were other issues too. It was the age of the industrial revolution and a massive gulf between the plutocrats of Fifth Avenue and the slums and tenements of the Lower East Side. It was the age of remarkable social reform movements from Temperance to Women's Suffrage. And it was also the period when you saw the first wave of political radicalism in the Anarchist movement and later the early Marxists.

The track record of Americans when it comes to period drama is spotty at best. We have had some great ones like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. But we also routinely produce lackluster period pieces that can't seem to confine themselves to the era they are supposed to be in or they try to be hybrid soap operas or sitcoms. I remember that an attempt was made to create an the American Upstairs Downstairs in the 70's and it flopped badly.

We will have to see if this is more Edith Wharton or J.R.Ewing in top hat and frock coat.

Now Touring, the Debt Duo, Simpson-Bowles

WASHINGTON — Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to your city or town (if they have not been there already, and maybe even if they have) are the latest odd couple of politics: the 67-year-old Democratic straight man, Erskine B. Bowles of Charlotte, N.C., and his corny 81-year-old, 6-foot-7 Republican sidekick, Alan K. Simpson of Cody, Wyo.

Since the perceived failure two years ago next week of the bipartisan fiscal commission they led for President Obama, they have been on the road, sometimes solo but often together, perfecting a sort of Off Broadway show that has kept their panel’s recommendations alive, and made them a little money as well.
Read the rest here.

BP Is Barred From Taking Government Contracts

WASHINGTON — The United States government has temporarily banned the British oil company BP from new federal contracts, citing the company’s “lack of business integrity.”
Read the rest here.

Islamists Drafting Egypt’s Constitution Vow Quick Finish

CAIRO — Leaders of the assembly drafting a new constitution said Wednesday that they would complete their work by the next morning, a move that appeared aimed at trying to defuse a political crisis that has gripped Egypt since the president issued an edict that put his decisions above judicial scrutiny.

If successful, the assembly could make moot the power struggle between President Mohamed Morsi and the courts because the president’s expanded powers were set to expire with the implementation of a new constitution.

But given the heated environment, it seemed just as likely that a draft constitution — one adopted over the objections of the opposition — would instead inflame an escalating political battle between Mr. Morsi and his critics. On Tuesday, the opposition brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to denounce his attempt to assert a power above the courts and over the Islamist domination of the assembly drafting the national charter. 
Read the rest here.

Europe sees US debt crisis as dire as its own

Now it’s Europe’s turn to worry about U.S. economy.

American officials have been wringing their hands for the past two years about the heavy burden of government debt piling up in Europe. On Tuesday, Europe’s Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warned that the U.S. "fiscal cliff" threatens prospects for the eurozone’s economic recovery.

“We’re talking here about the medium and long-term viability of the United States economy,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told CNBC. “Not only to avoid the fiscal cliff but then get to a moment where (U.S.) debt stops rising and the debt to GDP starts coming down to an area where we call all breathe more comfortably.”
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yes, the modern world sucks

Asbury Park Summer 1905. The golden age of straw boaters, parasols and the art of the promenade. Click here for full screen size.


Paris at the Exposition Universelle of 1900

Egyptians stage mass protests against Morsi edict

CAIRO — Egyptian opposition forces rallied across the country Tuesday in the biggest show of dissent against the country’s first democratically elected leader since he precipitated a political crisis last week with an apparent bid to assume near-absolute power.

A loose coalition of rights groups, liberals and secularists poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other public spaces, urging President Mohamed Morsi to rescind a decree he issued Thursday that granted him the authority to legislate without judicial oversight.
Read the rest here.

Lottery Fever (again)

Yep, the Powerball is up to $500,000,000.00. And that has millions of people queuing up to spend large sums of money that in far too many cases they can't afford to part with. Look, here's my take. If you want to drop a buck or two on the lottery, fine. I've done it myself in the past. You can write that off as cheap entertainment. For a couple of bucks you get to daydream about how you would spend a ridiculous amount of money. But it's a lousy retirement plan. Which is to say if your spending more than a couple of bucks then you are just throwing away money.

As someone much wiser than I once observed, the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged.

France to Support Palestinian UN Status

PARIS — France will vote in favor of the Palestinians’ request to heighten their profile at the United Nations, the French foreign minister told Parliament on Tuesday, embracing a move that Israel and the United States oppose.

The support of France, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is the most significant boost to date for the Palestinians’ hopes to be granted nonmember observer status and thus greater international recognition. Russia and China, two other permanent members, have also thrown their support behind the Palestinian bid.
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cautiously, Japan Raises Military Profile as China Rises

TOKYO — After years of watching its international influence eroded by a slow-motion economic decline, pacifist Japan is trying to raise its profile in a new way, offering military aid for the first time in decades and displaying its own armed forces in an effort to build regional alliances and shore up other countries’ defenses to counter a rising China.
Read the rest here.

Being on the Wrong Side of History

Via The Young Fogey...
Despite the historical record, a peskily persistent fallacy is argumentum ad populum, the idea that the majority is right. The mob, no matter where it’s headed, whom it’s beheading, or what it’s burning down, has always deemed itself to be on the right side of history. So whenever I hear some smug, smirking, smarm-coated snarkmonster bleating that they are on “the right side of history,” what I hear is, “I feel safe within the crowd.” I don’t sense that they fear being on the “wrong” side of history so much as they’re afraid of being on the “losing” side. They don’t want to be on the wrong side of superior force. Many of them exhibit the shallow and neurotic herd-animal fear of being deemed uncool or out of step. In far too many cases, being “on the right side of history” amounts to nothing more than being trendy. Many of these types used to ally themselves with alleged “oppressed minorities,” but now that they appear to be on the “right side of history,” they openly mock the newly marginalized minorities. Once the victims of bullying, they now fear being on the wrong side of peer pressure and are the world’s neo-bullies. Others are the type who wait until there’s critical mass behind any social movement before joining it. Many of them have no core and will fellate power wherever it leads them and consider themselves bold for doing so. And at least as it concerns liberal white males, I’ve never seen people so eager to surrender to the very historical forces that seem destined to march right over their necks. 
Read the rest here.

Some Republicans Back Away From "No Tax" Pledge

Four big-name Republicans have broken with Grover Norquist in recent days, saying they won’t be bound by their Norquist-sponsored pledges to oppose any and all tax increases.

The moves by Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Rep. Peter King (N.Y.) represent the opening steps of a delicate dance for the GOP — and one that could come to define the just-begun talks over the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The question from here is whether this represents a simple trial balloon or the beginning of a movement in which a large segment of the GOP embraces a tax increase as an unhappy reality.

If that were to occur, it would both mark a significant shift in party orthodoxy and also threaten to make the tea party primaries of 2010 and 2012 seem tame.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Senior Democrat in No Hurry to Avert "Fiscal Cliff"

As chair of her party’s Senate campaign arm, the architect of surprising Democratic gains and the incoming chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, Murray now occupies a place of special influence in the Senate.

And so what Murray has to say about the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January, may be of particular importance. In a town consumed by talk of the apocalyptic consequences of failing to resolve the budgeting crisis, Murray has been arguing that missing the deadline for a deal — going over the cliff — could actually make getting a deal easier.
Read the rest here.

Personally I am not all that horrified by the fiscal cliff.  If we go over the cliff we will cut spending in both the welfare and warfare state and finally end the ill-conceived Bush tax cuts. The deficit would be cut in half at a stroke. I don't see any other proposals out there that even come close to a meaningful attack on the national debt.

Sure, if I was dictator for a day I would be a bit more discriminating in how I cut the budget deficit. But I have no confidence in the congressional clowns' capacity for anything other than finding some way to kick the can down the road again. Fasten your seat-belts folks. We need to go over the cliff.

RIP: Larry Hagman

A highly talented actor and philanthropist who will always be best remembered for playing one of TV's most iconic villains. I remember a political bumper sticker from 1980 that proudly claimed "A Republican Shot J.R."
HT: Bill (tGf)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On the list of things for which we should be thankful...

San Francisco has passed, albeit narrowly, the Weiner ban.

Time to Kill the Turkey Pardon?

Of all the indignities a president must endure, officiating at the annual turkey pardon is perhaps the most unbecoming. Being mocked by late-night comedians or spit up on by a baby or called a liar by a member of Congress? Those things happen. But they pale next to this bizarre spectacle — sort of the turkey population’s version of the “Hunger Games” — in which the leader of the world stays the execution of two overweight birds while another 45 million or so shuffle off to the chopping block.

Every year in late November, the disbelieving eyes of the world turn to Washington to watch the White House’s current occupant exercise this presidential prerogative. And on Wednesday they weren’t disappointed as President Obama gamely feigned interest in the fate of the fowl in front of him.
Read the rest here.

Waaaay overdue.

Egypt's Islamist President Seizes Dictatorial Powers

CAIRO – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared extensive political powers for himself Thursday, taking broad and sweeping control of his country a day after he won international praise for fostering a cease-fire in Gaza.

Under the terms of Thursday’s decree, Morsi said that all of the decisions he has made since he took office — and until a new constitution is adopted — were final and not subject to appeal or review. He declared the retrial of high officials accused of the deaths of protesters during the country’s 2011 revolution, a measure that appeared targeted at former leader Hosni Mubarak. And he dismissed Egypt’s Mubarak-era prosecutor general, immediately swearing in a new one.
Read the rest here.

I feel badly for the people of Egypt. But it is of course not the concern of the United States.

Fred Reed on the death of language and culture

...My grade schools of the Fifties still taught grammar and required the diagramming of sentences, now regarded with horror as a sort of linguistic water-boarding. We learned tense, mood, voice, subjunctives and parallelism and appositives. Equally important, we learned to listen to the language as well as its content, without which decent writing is nigh impossible.

With us, the written language was primary, the spoken derived from the written. In Spanish, if I know how “ajolote” is spelled, the word is mine. Otherwise it never quite is. Today among the literarily unwashed, the spoken language becomes primary. Note how “iced tea” becomes “ice tea,” ”boxed set” becomes “box set,“ presumably a set of boxes. The people who use these confusions don’t read, perhaps barely can, and do not know how the words are spelled. Participles? Huh? Wha’?

English once had its equivalents of Lecciones de Castellana. There were Fowler’s The King’s English and American English Usage, and of course Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. These today are as well known to our gilded peasantry as the Gilgamesh Epic.

An attention to meaning existed. We knew that “sensuous” does not mean “sensual,” nor bellicose, belligerent; nor alternate, alternative; nor uninterested, disinterested; nor envious, jealous; nor historic, historical; nor philosophic, philosophical; nor it’s, its.

From The Elements of Style  we learned the all-important “Omit needless words”, from Fowler:

Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
Prefer the short word to the long.
Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.

But that was then. Today usage nose-dives from the merely infelicitous to the downright annoying. Note the increasing penetration of language by that form of mispronunciation, once the marker of the lower middle class and below, in which emphasis falls on the first syllable of words. HOtel, INsurance, DEEfense, REEsources, DEEtail. It is the linguistic parallel of a facial tattoo.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish each of you the joy of the feast!

Many Years

To John and Ann Betar on their 80th(!) wedding anniversary.

Read their story here.
HT: Fr. Z

Food for thought

One of SP's great shots at American Orthodox culture...

And yes, for the record I will be feasting tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

90 Years Ago: Rebecca Latimer Felton becomes the first woman US Senator

Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton (June 10, 1835 – January 24, 1930) was an American writer, lecturer, reformer, and politician who became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate. She was the most prominent woman in Georgia in the Progressive Era, and was honored by appointment to the Senate; she was sworn in on November 21, 1922, and served one day, the shortest serving Senator in U.S. history. At 87 years old, 9 months, and 22 days, she was also the oldest freshman senator to enter the Senate. As of 2012, she is also the only woman to have served as a Senator from Georgia. She was a prominent society woman; an advocate of prison reform, women's suffrage and educational modernization; and one of the few prominent women who spoke in favor of lynching. 
Read the rest here.

Senate bill lets Feds read your e-mail without warrants

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission -- to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.
Read the rest here.

Write your Senators... while it's still legal.

Shades of 1559?

This comment from Dr. Tighe is worth attention...
I frequently invoke the example of the Church of Sweden and its long debilitating strife over WO as a kind of “Eram quod es, sum quod eris” (to quote a commonplace on medieval tomb inscriptions) mirror for the Church of England, but, in legal theory at least, the Erastian circumstances of the Church of England are far more thoroughgoing than those which prevailed in Sweden when the Church of Sweden was an established church (it was disestablished in 2000, but in way that left the liberal establishment totally in control of its governing structure). In Sweden, when the Church Assembly unexpectedly rejected WO in 1957 (with a majority of its bishops voting against it), the proponents were initially stymied, as Swedish law then required BOTH the Church Assembly AND the Swedish Parliament to approve any “ecclesiastical legislation” before it could become law. Not to worry, though: the Swedish Parliament rushed through legislation authorizing WO (which would apply to bishops as wellas to priests), and then called new elections for a Church Assembly session to meet in 1958. In those elections, Swedish political parties put forward their own candidates for election as lay delegates to the Church Assembly, and the election campaign was attended by threats to disestablish the church and confiscate its assets. The strategy worked: in 1958 WO was approved (a number of bishops switched sides from the previous year’s vote), and the first women were (purportedly) ordained in 1960.

The legislation was attended by a “conscience clause” intended to benefit opponents of WO, but in 1983 that clause was revoked, and in 1994 (and since 2000 in the disestablished church) the ordination as deacons or priests of anyone opposed to WO has been forbidden, and the selection as bishops of any clergy opposed to WO likewise.

This could be the Church of England’s future as well, and, if I recall correctly, in England Parliament retains full authority to legislate “unilaterally” on church matters, should it choose to do so.

Those interested may wish to consult this legal case:

http://www.infotextmanuscripts.org/vexatiouslitigant/vex_lit_queens_bench_williamson.html

This 1997 case is a subsidiary to an earlier 1994 case, but I cannot find a report of the former case online. What is clear from it, however, is that it is still “settled law” in England that “the doctrine of the Church of England is whatever Parliament declares it to be.” So Erastianism rules okay.

The real parallel to England is Denmark, where the Danish Parliament legislated for WO in 1947 despite the opposition at the time to WO of eight of the ten bishops of the Danish State Church.
From here.

In Stunning Decision Church of England Narrowly Rejects Women Bishops

The Church of England has been plunged into its biggest crisis for decades after the General Synod rejected women bishops despite overwhelming support for the change.

In a knife-edge decision at a special sitting of the Synod in London, bishops and clergy voted through the change by large majorities.

But the measure failed to secure the required two thirds support among representatives of the laity by just 6 votes.

Although 324 members of the Synod voted in favour of the change, 124 voted against and 11 abstained.

The result was met with dismay in the Synod chamber at Church House in Westminster.
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Egypt's Coptic pope enthroned amid concern for Christian minority

CAIRO — Amid months of sectarian unease, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church enthroned its new pope Sunday in an ornate, three-hour ceremony attended by top officials from the nation’s Islamist-led government.

Tawadros II, 60, was chosen the church's 118th pope this month in long-awaited elections following the death in March of Pope Shenouda III, who was patriarch for four decades. The cathedral of St. Mark, the church’s founding saint, erupted in applause when the papal crown was placed on Tawadros’ head.

Politicians, including Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, journalists and Coptic intellectuals, attended the ceremony. Tawadros did not address the congregation; instead, his written speech was read aloud by a member of the church. Tawadros pledged to work for harmony between Christians, who make up about 10% of Egypt's population, and majority Muslims. 
Read the rest here.

Moody's downgrades French credit rating

The credit ratings agency Moody's has downgraded France from its top rating.

The country's debt has been reduced from AAA to AA1 and has kept its negative outlook, meaning it could be downgraded again.

In a statement, Moody's blamed the risk of a Greek exit from the euro, stalled economic growth and the chances that France will have to contribute to bailing out other countries.

Rival agency Standard & Poor's downgraded France in January.
Read the rest here.

Church of England Warned To Approve Women Bishops

The Church of England will face a battle in Parliament and the prospect of legal challenges if it fails to approve women bishops on Tuesday, MPs said on Monday.

Special legal privileges and even its position as the established Church could be called into question if the General Synod rejected the plan, they warned.

The Synod will vote on whether to admit women to the episcopacy at a special sitting in London. Despite strong support throughout the Church for the move, the outcome was described as on a “knife-edge” because of the need to secure two thirds support in all three of its branches: bishops, clergy and laity.
Read the rest here.

Everything you need to know when answering the question, why aren't you an Anglican, is in this story.

Many Years

To H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh on their 65th wedding anniversary.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny

Then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates stopped bagging his leaves when he moved into a small Washington military enclave in 2007. His next-door neighbor was Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who had a chef, a personal valet and — not lost on Gates — troops to tend his property.

Gates may have been the civilian leader of the world’s largest military, but his position did not come with household staff. So, he often joked, he disposed of his leaves by blowing them onto the chairman’s lawn.

“I was often jealous because he had four enlisted people helping him all the time,” Gates said in response to a question after a speech Thursday. He wryly complained to his wife that “Mullen’s got guys over there who are fixing meals for him, and I’m shoving something into the microwave. And I’m his boss.”
Read the rest here.

Yes, there are some fair points here. But I wouldn't put too much stock in it. One of the oldest expressions in the military is R-H-I-P (rank has its privileges). Every general or admiral in history has had staff including enlisted men who effectively function as personal servants. Even junior officers and some senior enlisted people rate a certain amount of deference and waiting on. The military is more hierarchical than Downton Abbey. On some level we inherited that from the Brits. The main difference being that the military is mainly a meritocracy and neither the rank nor the deference is hereditary. If that is really a huge hangup then you probably should not join.

Private executive jets and motorcades sounds over the top to me. But speaking as someone who never rose above the naval equivalent to sergeant I am not going to begrudge a man who has stars on his shoulder from the respect, and yes privileges, that come with rank. Admirals have better things to do than shine their own shoes, press their own uniforms or even cook their own meals. And though it rated only a sentence in the article, it's worth reiterating that the military has a lot of pomp and tradition which civilians usually just don't get.

Lastly, and with all due respect to former Secretary Gates, it is a hell of a lot harder to earn four stars than to be named Secretary of Defense.

Does San Francisco have any limits? Maybe...

San Francisco may be getting ready to shed its image as a city where anything goes, including clothing.

City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places, a blanket ban that represents an escalation of a two-year tiff between a devoted group of men who strut their stuff through the city's famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.

Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposal would make it illegal for a person over the age of 5 to "expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet [sic] or plaza" or while using public transit.
Read the rest here.

Sorry, even my generally libertarian sensibilities have limits. No one gets to bare their all anywhere they might be seen by little kids. That this is even remotely controversial is beyond creepy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

George Weigel: The Church should get out of the civil marriage business

A further threat comes from the gay insurgency, which will press the administration to find some way to federalize the marriage issue and to compel acceptance of the chimera of “gay marriage.” Thus it seems important to accelerate a serious debate within American Catholicism on whether the Church ought not pre-emptively withdraw from the civil marriage business, its clergy declining to act as agents of government in witnessing marriages for purposes of state law.
Read the rest here.

He is partly right though for the wrong reasons. It is the state that should get out of the "marriage" business and instead adopt a uniform code regulating civil unions. Marriage would then be a purely religious institution. This would effectively pull the "fairness" rug out from under the gay mafia and ensure that the state could not meddle in church doctrine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Met. Hilarion Sends Congrats and a Warning to New Anglican Chief

Metropolitan Hilarion, always a realist, offers congratulations and some strong words on where the Church believes the Anglicans have gone and are taking themselves with their deviations from Tradition.
Read the rest here.

Axios!

The Confederacy of Takers

President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.

If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.

The White House, in one of those astro-turf efforts that make people feel warm about small-d democracy, launched a “We the People” program on its Web site last year, allowing Americans to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days is promised a response (though not necessarily a favorable one) from the Obama administration.

And so a large number of patriotic Americans, mostly from states won by Mitt Romney last week, have petitioned the White House to let them secede. They should be careful about what they wish for. It would be excellent financial news for those of us left behind if Obama were to grant a number of the rebel states their wish “to withdraw from the United States and create [their] own NEW government” (the petitions emphasize “new” by capitalizing it).
Read the rest here.

From suburb to basket case: How California city traveled the road to ruin

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- When this sun-drenched exurb east of Los Angeles filed for bankruptcy protection in August, the city attorney suggested fraudulent accounting was the root of the problem.

The mayor blamed a dysfunctional city council and greedy police and fire unions. The unions blamed the mayor. Even now, there is little agreement on how the city got into this crisis or how it can extricate itself.

"It's total political chaos," said John Husing, a former San Bernardino resident and regional economist. "There is no solution. They'll never fix anything."

Yet on close examination, the city's decades-long journey from prosperous, middle-class community to bankrupt, crime-ridden, foreclosure-blighted basket case is straightforward — and alarmingly similar to the path traveled by many municipalities around America's largest state. San Bernardino succumbed to a vicious circle of self-interests among city workers, local politicians and state pension overseers.
Read the rest here.

Elmo cleared of child molestation

The man who said he was underage when he had a sexual relationship with "Sesame Street" puppeteer Kevin Clash has now recanted that claim, the law firm representing him said on Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania law firm Andreozzi & Associates issued a statement reading, "This office represented the 23-year-old man who was the subject of many media reports regarding Kevin Clash. He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. He will have no further comment on the matter."
Read the rest here.

Really? No further comment? You falsely accuse someone of being a child molester and you think that this statement covers your obligations? They need to revive the old legal concept of criminal slander and libel. There are somethings that a civil case doesn't cover. And I'd guess this dirtbag probably couldn't pay court costs much less anything approaching a fair award of damages.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Firestorm Erupts Over Virginia's Education Goals

Here's what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students' test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities.
Read the rest here.

AXIOS!

To Metropolitan Tikhon, formerly Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern PA, who was today elected as the fourth Metropolitan and Primate of the OCA.

Axios! Axios! Axios!

God grant him many years!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fred on the Election

I have been a bad person.  I did not vote. I confess it. I would rather be caught in a gay brothel dealing in underage boys than in a voting booth. The two are equally degrading, but voting carries the further implication of l0w intelligence. Ages ago a Japanese friend told me “We are not too intelested in Amelican national erection.” Me too either.

What was the point? We suffered Years of blather from unqualified charlatans who regard the public as ignorant hamsters of low caste, and what do we get? The same unqualified charlatan. We could have done it without an election. Think of the peace and quiet.

This deplorable practice—holding elections, I mean—is thought to be fraught with consequences. For example, I am told that the defeat of Romney signals the end of rule by Angry Old White Men. I hope so. I enjoy living in the Third World, and soon Americans will be able to do so from the comfort of home. 

To me Mr. Romney’s candidacy signaled the Republicans’ admirable capacity to do the impossible: find an aspirant even more depressing than Obama. But they managed. It was a triumph of the human spirit. Never underestimate American ingenuity.

How was this result achieved? Mr. Romney asserted that Russia is America’s most perilous adversary, wanted to deal fiercely with China, asserted the nonexistence of Palestinians, pledged his undying troth to Israel (America presumably would be a second wife), wanted to attack Iran, and thinks we need to increase the military budget.
Read the rest here.

Who says there is no bipartisanship in Congress?

But with the composition of Congress largely unchanged, any tax hikes and spending cuts both will likely be far smaller than what each side might want.

"The split in Congress will force both sides to bargain,” said economist Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. “We expect the Democrats to agree to extend the Bush-era (tax cuts) for higher income earners in exchange for Republicans agreeing to put off the spending cuts."
Read the rest here.

This is so depressing. Let's play another round of kick the can!

Forget About The Dog: Beware of Censor!

A group of young Pussy Riot sympathizers received a humiliating thrashing from a Ukrainian clergyman when they tried to repeat the “feat” of the notorious Pussy Riot punk group.

Several men with stockings on their heads entered a small Ukrainian Orthodox church in the village Barvinkovo on Thursday night to perform a “punk prayer” of their own but met fierce defiance of the priest who smacked them with a censer and handed them over to the police.

The arrested are reported to be members of the local music band called Dick Revolt.
HT: Byzantine Texas

Online Fighting Over Bulgaria's Next Patriarch

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church may have ancient roots, but the fight over its future is being conducted not only in top church circles but also among lay people in a very modern way – on Facebook.

After the death of Patriarch Maxim on November 6 and the election of a temporary stand-in head of the church on November 10 to oversee the choice of a new Patriarch, the social network has become a hive of activity as detractors and supporters of various metropolitans vie for “likes” and members.

The Metropolitan apparently inspiring the most activity online is Plovdiv’s Nikolai, well-known for his luxury vehicles, stylish wristwatch and controversial redecoration of the St Marina church in Bulgaria’s second city. To say nothing of his hardline views on church matters. At 43, Nikolai is too young by seven years to be eligible for election as Patriarch, but more than one Facebook group seems determined to forestall future elevation for Nikolai. The largest Facebook group against Nikolai had (as of the morning of November 12) 2154 members. A separate, newly-established, group against Nikolai had 191.
Read the rest here.

Sounds like they have been hanging around too many OCA types.

The New Senator From Massachusetts

BOSTON — When Elizabeth Warren created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington two years ago and sought to become its director, she was fiercely opposed by Republican senators who feared she had a visceral loathing of financial institutions and would be a thorn in their sides.

President Obama was so convinced she could not win Senate confirmation that he did not even bother to nominate her.

Now, Ms. Warren, 63, is returning to Washington as a member of the very club that sought to block her and dilute the power of her consumer bureau. She got there by campaigning against the big banks and lobbyists, the millionaires and billionaires who, she said, rigged the system against the middle class.

The question now is how she will approach her job as the newly elected Democratic senator from Massachusetts. How will she interact with those who spurned her? How can she most effectively fulfill the populist promise of her candidacy while serving in an institution that runs on seniority and prefers deference to defiance?
Read the rest here.

Ecclesiastical Stalinism

Ms. Schori, the dear leader of the piskies, has declared bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina enemies of the state... er church... er organization or whatever. And exercising authority that she doesn't seem to have (why let legalities spoil the beauty of the thing?) has not only deposed the bishop but is now recognizing a rump diocese that unilaterally declared the South Carolina Standing Committee to be vacant.

Read the details here.

Red America faces post election blues

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. — She arrived early to take apart the campaign office piece by piece, just as she felt so many other things about her life were being dismantled. Beth Cox wore a Mitt Romney T-shirt, a cross around her neck and fresh eyeliner, even though she had been crying on and off and knew her makeup was likely to run. A day after the election, she tuned the radio to Glenn Beck and began pulling posters and American flags off the wall.

Her calendar read “Victory Day!!” and she had planned to celebrate in the office by hosting a dance party and selling Romney souvenirs. But instead she was packing those souvenirs into boxes, which would be donated to a charity that sent clothes to South America. Instead a moving company was en route to close down the office in the next 48 hours, and her friends were calling every few minutes to see how she was doing.
Read the rest here.

On edge of brutal ‘fiscal cliff,’ some see an opportunity to end debt paralysis

Two years ago this month, the leaders of a presidential commission rolled out a startling plan to dig the nation out of debt. After decades of profligacy, they said, Washington must tell people to work longer, pay higher taxes and expect less in retirement.

Lawmakers recoiled from the blunt prescriptions of Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan K. Simpson. But their plan has since been heralded by both parties as a model of clear-eyed sacrifice, and policymakers say the moment has come to live up to its promise.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Rare Concelebrated Hierarchical Night LIturgy


November 11 2012 Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia concelebrates with Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem in the Church of the Resurrection.

Our First National Anthem

This is my favorite patriotic song. It's extremely rare to find it with the lyrics.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On this date in 1975


The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

LA Adds Another Meatless Day

So the liberal wienies in LA have now decreed that Monday's shall be meatless. This of course just further demonstrates the complete lack of sensitivity that liberals have. If they had given it even a few moments of thought they would have realized that a solid majority of their citizens are Hispanic, who are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Observant Catholics already abstain from meat on Fridays. And of course those of us on the other side of the Bosporus don't eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. Minimal reflection might have suggested that Friday would be a good day if they must use the government to try and regulate our diet.

But really the uptake of all of this is that the citizens of Los Angeles pay each of the 15 members of their city council $178,789  per year to tell them they should not eat meat on Mondays.

Our country has gone barking mad.

Feds wrestle with legalized pot

Senior administration officials acknowledged Friday that they are wrestling with how to respond to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which directly violates federal drug law and is sparking a broad debate about the direction of U.S. drug policy.

The most likely outcome will be that the Justice Department will prevent the laws from going into effect by announcing that federal law preempts the state initiatives, which would make marijuana legal for recreational use, law enforcement sources said. But the White House and the Justice Department have not made a decision yet, senior officials said.
Read the rest here.

Real Life Spying Aint James Bond

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a fan of the Bond movies. I go to see them for the same reasons everyone else does: the gorgeous women, the most beautiful places on Earth and, of course, the roller-coaster ride of a plot. I delight in Bond’s complete defiance of gravity. His suits never wrinkle, his Aston Martin is never in the garage for repairs, the girls never say no.

But as a former spy, what I like most about the Bond movies is the way good always triumphs over evil. His cases end neatly, with the villain dispatched and the world safe for the good guys.

Real-life espionage is a lot less sexy — and a lot messier.

... While occasionally I found myself in a Bond-like setting during my spying career, the story inevitably unfolded with a lot less panache.

One time, in pursuit of an elusive informant, the agency sent me to Monaco to troll the Casino de Monte-Carlo. The problems started before I even got on the plane. The CIA scoffed at the idea of buying me a tuxedo, and the dragon lady who did our accounting refused to give me a cent to put on the roulette table. Not surprisingly, as soon as I walked into the casino in my penny loafers, the security goons spotted me as an impostor and pulled me over for a polite interrogation. I never found our would-be informant, but I did come away with the certainty that I wasn’t James Bond.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 09, 2012

First Color TV Broadcast of a President

Hmmmm

November 8, 2012 – The Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission met for a plenary session at the conference hall of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations. It was chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Commission.

Among the participants in the session were Archbishop Yevgeny of Vereia, chairman of the Education Committee and rector of the Moscow theological schools; Bishop Amvrosy of Gatchina, rector of St. Petersburg Theological Academy, as well as Hegumen Philaret (Bulekov) and Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, DECR vice-chairmen.

The Commission considered a draft document on the Moscow Patriarchate’s Position on Primacy in the Universal Church prepared by the Commission’s secretariat and submitted to the Commission in pursuance of the Holy Synod Resolution of March 27, 2007.

After making some amendments to the draft, the Commission adopted it for submission to the Holy Synod for action.
Source

Book Review: The Permanent Portfolio

I occasionally get requests for advice on investing which I almost always avoid giving. There are just way too many variables and everyone's situation is different. That said for those interested I have written a review for a new book that is on my VERY short list of recommended works for those seeking investment advice.

You may read it here.

Thousands bid farewell to Patriarch Maxim

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Thousands of people participated in a grand funeral service Friday for Patriarch Maxim, who led the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for a record 41 years that witnessed the collapse of communism and an institutional schism.

Maxim died at age 98 on Tuesday due to heart failure. His funeral drew religious and political leaders, as well as ordinary Bulgarians who recalled him fondly.
Read the rest here.

Patriarch Kirill Meets With Heir To Russian Throne

Patriarch Kirill, a known supporter of the monarchy, met with HIH the Grand Duchess Maria Valimirovna. Among other topics they discussed the remains of St. Nicholas II and his family who were massacred by the Communists in 1918. The Imperial Family has been glorified (canonized) as Passion Bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church and in recent years were legally declared victims of political repression by the Russian Government.

Read the story here.

Mexico to rethink drug war after two states legalize pot

MEXICO CITY — The decision by voters in Colorado and Washington state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has left Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his team scrambling to reformulate their anti-drug strategies in light of what one senior aide said was a referendum that “changes the rules of the game.”

It is too early to know what Mexico’s response to the successful ballot measures will be, but a top aide said Peña Nieto and members of his incoming administration will discuss the issue with President Obama and congressional leaders in Washington this month. The legalization votes, however, are expected to spark a broad debate in Mexico about the direction and costs of the U.S.-backed drug war here.
Read the rest here.

Mexico has been brutalized by America's hopeless attempt at prohibition.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Boehner Hints At GOP Softening of Hardline on Taxes - Obamacare

Over the last 24 hours House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has indicated a hitherto unseen willingness to discuss raising new revenue (Washington speak for taxes) as part of a broad approach to deficit reduction. Now he has reportedly declared that Obamacare is the law of the land in a news interview. This might be a signal to his caucus that it's time to stop fighting a battle that is effectively lost and move on.

In Convoluted Vote Puerto Rico Takes a Step Toward Statehood

Tuesday, for the first time in its history, more Puerto Ricans favored becoming a state than maintaining the island's status quo as a U.S. Commonwealth. But put away the needle and thread for now — it'll likely be at least 2015 before America sews a 51st state onto its flag.

Adding a state to the union is a fairly easy process, legally speaking. Article Four of the Constitution allows Congress to admit new states into the union with simple majority votes in both houses of Congress (and a Presidential signature). Puerto Rico is a United States territory without its own sovereignty, so technically Congress doesn't even need the island's approval.
Read the rest here.

It is worth noting that the referendum was very confusing. While a majority did vote to change the island's status fully a third of the voters did not bother to vote at all on the second part. So I am dubious about how strong the sentiment for statehood is. That said the purely partisan objections to admitting PR to the Union are offensive. If you want an taste of this see the commentary on this thread over at Free Republic. Warning FR is an extremist website and is emphatically NOT endorsed by A/O.

Richard Norton Smith on Calvin Coolidge


A great lecture on the most underrated president of the last 100 years. Part 1 of  8; full screen will allow you to click through each installment.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

State Ballot Initiatives Advance Libertarian Causes

In an historic first that has been largely ignored in the media both Colorado and Washington State decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Oregon narrowly defeated a similar measure. Federal law still criminalizes marijuana. But this is a huge move signalling America's waning support for prohibition. It will also make it exceedingly difficult to enforce Federal law without the aid of local law enforcement.

On another front, and one where I am conflicted, Maine Washington and Maryland approved ballot measure legalizing same sex marriage. As I have said many times the government needs to get out of the marriage business and remove the word from the legal code. Anyone who wants their particular domestic arrangements recognized for purposes of benefits etc should simply draw up a contract and have it notarized by the Justice of the Peace or local equivalent. A civil union system such as exists in many European countries would also work. But marriage should be left to religious institutions without state interference of any kind. Regrettably as long as we are going to insist on state involvement in marriage then the above measures are right.

Justin Welby likely next Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, has accepted the post of Archbishop of Canterbury, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

Sources have confirmed that the Eton-educated bishop will be announced as successor to Dr Rowan Williams as early as Friday, after the Crown Nominations Commission put his name forward to Downing Street.

It marks a meteoric rise for the former oil executive who has been a bishop for less than a year, but insiders described Welby as "the outstanding candidate".
Read the rest here.

This bodes ill for the CofE. Both historical and recent experience would suggest that appointing newly minted bishops to the top job frequently ends badly. Worse still, if my memory has not failed this man is way left in both social and theological views.

The GOP told libertarians to go away... and they did

It's worth noting that the bulk of the roughly 2% of the vote that went to other candidates mostly went to Gary Johnson and Ron Paul. In many key states including Ohio, Virginia and  Florida, Obama's margin of victory was less than 1%. Just some food for thought that will no doubt be ignored by the neo-con imperialists and theocratic elements in the GOP.

After Bitter Defeat GOP Needs to Take Stock

Republican leaders awoke Wednesday to witness their grim future. Without a makeover, a party that skews toward older, white and male voters faces political peril in an increasingly diverse and complex America.

President Obama’s decisive victory over Mitt Romney served as a clinic in 21st-century politics, reflecting expanded power for black and Hispanic voters, dominance among women, a larger share of young voters and even a rise in support among Asians.

Nationally, the steady and inexorable decline of the white share of the electorate continued, dropping to 72 percent, down from 74 percent in 2008 and 77 percent in 2004.

The Hispanic share grew again, encompassing one in 10 voters nationally and reaching higher levels in states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, which have become comfortable turf for Democrats in presidential politics.

In Colorado, a state many Republicans thought they could win, Obama won three-quarters of Hispanics, up from 61 percent in 2008. Obama increased his Hispanic performance along similar lines in Florida as well, a result that included Democratic dominance in the heavily Puerto Rican swing precincts around Orlando and the election of a Cuban American Democrat to Congress, symbolizing the end of the GOP’s decades-long lock on that community.
Read the rest here.

Stocks Get Hammered On Election and Europe

The stock market is taking a shellacking today following the US  election and grim economic warnings from Europe. As of this writing all of the major indices are down sharply with the Dow off by more than 330 points. Gold and oil are down slightly and the yield on the benchmark ten year US Treasury bond is down by 11 basis points (6% !) as investors flee the financial markets.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Barrack Obama Is Reelected

Ohio puts Obama over the top. No real surprise here. The big question is will he win the popular vote. That is still too close to call. If he loses the popular vote it will be a huge political handicap.

Election Surprise: The Senate

The GOP had hopes of taking the Senate and they needed a net gain of four seats. As of right now it looks like the Democrats are going to pick up at least two and maybe three seats. Two Senate seats that the Republicans should have won were in Indiana and Missouri. Both appear to have been lost because far right tea party candidates made highly inflammatory statements which permitted Democrats to paint them, fairly or not, as extremists. Another consequential Democratic pick up is in Massachusetts where Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown, one of the last moderate Republicans. Warren is an old fashioned and unapologetic liberal who has been a brutal critic of Wall Street and the financial interests.

Memory Eternal

Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria has reposed. He was 98. Memory eternal!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Eve Polls

It's going to be a nail biter. Almost all of the polls show both candidates within 1% of each other with Obama holding a razor thin advantage in enough of the swing states to give him the 270 electoral votes he needs to serve another four years. But every reputable poll I have seen is deep within the margin of error.  Bottom line: It's a statistical tie with a very unreliable nod in Obama's direction.

A couple of interesting demonstrations of how close this is going to be might be amusing. Both sides have mobilized their own army of lawyers who are ready to fly into any state where there is the slightest question about the vote counting. And if you really want to sample some craziness, the loons on both the left and the right are whispering about the "nuclear option" in Ohio. That being where the vote is so close  that it is being contested in court and threatening the ability of the state to certify it's electors in time to meet in Washington on the real election day. In this apocalyptic scenario some on the far left and right are noting that both chambers of Ohio's legislature are majority Republican and they could, quite legally, ignore the popular vote and appoint the state's electors on their own authority. Presumably they would be directed to vote for Romney.

The Permanent Militarization of America

IN 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Most people know the term the president popularized, but few remember his argument.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower called for a better equilibrium between military and domestic affairs in our economy, politics and culture. He worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.
Read the rest here.

Is Switzerland's famed bank secrecy finally crumbling?

In ZURICH — For decades, Switzerland was the place where money went to hide. Cash sent to its mountain aeries was protected by some of the strictest secrecy laws in the world.

But with the euro crisis forcing Switzerland’s revenue-starved neighbors to search out new sources of money, the Alpine country’s bank vaults are suddenly looking irresistible. In recent months, the nation’s strict banking secrecy has been under assault from countries such as Germany and Britain as never before. Experts say the last veils may soon be dropped altogether, bringing the hush-hush tradition to an end.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Origins of the Red Carpet Treatment

Cocktails before dinner.

The lounge car.
Have you wondered where the much-overused phrase “the red carpet treatment” originated?

It all started with the 20th Century Limited.

The “Century” was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central nightly from New York to Chicago. From 1938 until the last run in 1968, passengers walked down a crimson carpet to their waiting cars. This was only done for the departure from New York. Stretching from the observation car to the engine – the football field length rug was specially designed for the Century – thus, the "red carpet treatment" was born.

Travel time was less than sixteen hours each way between the two cities during its streamlined years.

If leaving from New York, you departed at 6 p.m. and arrived the next morning in Chicago at 8:45 a.m. Settling in for the evening, after boarding the Century in downtown Manhattan, you enjoyed cocktails in the observation car, dinner with views of the Hudson, a good night sleep and then with breakfast in bed or in the dining car. Dress was business formal with no room for baseball caps. Standing in line for security, enduring a long cab ride or enduring hours on the tarmac because of bad weather were not included in your first class Pullman fare.

The glamorous departure aboard New York Central’s 20th Century Limited was equal to a sailing on the Queen Mary, Liberte or United States. This was still the only way to “cross the pond” from New York to Europe into the 1950s and Pullman was the only way to travel overnight by train in America.
Read the rest here.

Oh how I loathe the modern world.

Some Important Church News

Via Byzantine Texas

First the OCA has issued a ruling on the allegations against bishop Matthias of the Diocese of the Midwest. Read that here.

Secondly, ROCOR's magnificent monastery and seminary in Jordanville New York is in serious financial trouble. Please read the report here and help if you can spare some money.

Third the government of Israel has seized the bank account of the Orthodox Patriarchate in a dispute over water bills! It goes without saying that this is creating major financial problems. Read the story here.

Attention Protestant Clergy Thinking About Rome (or Catholics thinking about the Diaconate)

Dr. Ed Peters, a leading canon lawyer of the Roman Catholic Church has written something that you should consider very carefully if you are married. Roman Catholic canon law does not currently allow for any exceptions to the requirement that ALL clergy of the Latin Rite, including those who were married before being ordained, MUST maintain perfect continence from the time of their ordination. This includes permanent deacons and presumably married Protestant clergy who are received into the Roman Church and then ordained.

Copts elect a new Pope

Bishop Tawadros has been chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians, becoming leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

His name was selected from a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy at a ceremony in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral. Three candidates had been shortlisted.

The 60-year-old succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March aged 88.

He succeeds as attacks on Copts are on the increase, and many say they fear the country's new Islamist leaders.
Read the rest here.

Many years!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Republican operatives tied to voter fraud and suppression

The investigation into the arrest of a man on charges of dumping voter registration forms last month in Harrisonburg, Va., has widened, with state officials probing whether a company tied to top Republican leaders had engaged in voter registration fraud in the key battleground state, according to two persons close to the case.

A former employee of Strategic Allied Consulting, a contractor for the Republican Party of Virginia, had been scheduled to appear last Tuesday before a grand jury after he was charged with tossing completed registration forms into a recycling bin. But state prosecutors canceled Colin Small’s grand jury testimony to gather more information, with their focus expanding to the firm that had employed Small, which is led by longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul.
Read the rest here.

Young and hopeless from debt-choked European countries flock to former colonies

Rather than wait for prosperous economic times to return to her native Portugal, Tatiana Almeida, 26, educated to be a journalist, decided to leave and move to East Timor, a former colony in Southeast Asia, in search for opportunities.

“There’s a big, dark cloud hanging over Portugal. … There is no real future for my generation,” Almeida told CNBC.

Instead, she bought a ticket to Dili, the capital of East Timor. Two weeks after she arrived she found a job as a communication consultant in a museum in East Timor.

“I found hope in East Timor,” she said. “I don’t want to go back to Portugal any time soon.”

Almeida is just one of many citizens from debt-choked European countries moving overseas, particularly to former colonies, in search of a better future.
Read the rest here.