Monday, September 30, 2013

Rod Dreher is not going back to Rome

Pope Francis has apparently not impressed him. Why an Orthodox Christian would consider the particular policies of a given Pope in terms of remaining in The Church escapes me. But in any event he is remaining Orthodox. His piece is something of an indictment of the problems of the post Vatican II Roman Church that even Fr. Z found compelling. But not surprisingly he has drawn sharp criticism from more than a few corners of the Catholic blogosphere and their attendant comboxes. For the record I am not offended by that kind of criticism. If you fire a full broadside at someone's church you can't cry foul if they shoot back, though some of the commentary was snarky and personal.

But while if you have serious problems with your church, that may or may not be a good reason for leaving (circumstances depending), I am somewhat confused by Rod’s decision to leave the Roman Church. Did he leave because it has become a nest of modernist liberals? Or was it because he became convinced the Roman Catholic Church is heretical in its teachings? The latter is a good reason for leaving, the former is more doubtful.

And then there is the question of why Orthodoxy? Whatever your reason for leaving your previous confession, you need to be “all in” when you join a Church (as opposed to ‘church’), that like Rome, claims to be The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church spoken of in the Creed. I am not getting this from his piece. One needs to be careful when judging or impugning the motives of others. But if he joined the Orthodox Church because he wanted the Catholic Church without all of the liberal crap, then he did so for the wrong reasons.

Obviously, I am Orthodox and a former Catholic. And while the over the top liberal craziness did not make my decision to leave any harder, in the end I left the Roman Church because I became convinced over time that it was wrong on a number of important doctrinal points. Orthodoxy’s initial attraction was its magnificent liturgical rites and sound moral teachings. But I did not enter until I became convinced of the truths of Holy Orthodoxy.

I would have felt a little better if I had gotten that message from Rod. In the end though all we can do is to try and do right as God gives the light to discern right from wrong. Beyond that, we are all under that Great Mercy that none of us deserves, and without which we are all doomed.

HT: Ordo Antiquus

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rethinking Neville Chamberlain

Seventy-five years ago, on Sept. 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, handing portions of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler's Germany. Chamberlain returned to Britain to popular acclaim, declaring that he had secured "peace for our time." Today the prime minister is generally portrayed as a foolish man who was wrong to try to "appease" Hitler—a cautionary tale for any leader silly enough to prefer negotiation to confrontation.

But among historians, that view changed in the late 1950s, when the British government began making Chamberlain-era records available to researchers. "The result of this was the discovery of all sorts of factors that narrowed the options of the British government in general and narrowed the options of Neville Chamberlain in particular," explains David Dutton, a British historian who wrote a recent biography of the prime minister. "The evidence was so overwhelming," he says, that many historians came to believe that Chamberlain "couldn't do anything other than what he did" at Munich. Over time, Dutton says, "the weight of the historiography began to shift to a much more sympathetic appreciation" of Chamberlain.
Very interesting... read the rest here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Send in the clowns

Multiple sources are reporting that Piero Marini is about to be named as head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW). This is the department that is supposed to handle all things liturgical. For those of you who don't know who Marini is, just take my word that this is really bad news for the Catholic Church.

World Yawns at New Wave of Christian Martyrdom

Hiding the Christian name on his ID with his thumb, Joshua Hakim approached the gunmen and showed them the plastic card. “They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward, and they said, ‘What is the name of Muhammad’s mother?’ When he couldn’t answer they just shot him.”

That’s the way it went inside the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall in Nairobi last Saturday. If you said when asked that you were Muslim, you were let go. If you answered no, you stayed. And maybe died.
Read the rest here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Decades after Holocaust, Germany asks what it owes Jews

KOBLENZ, Germany —Sixty-eight years after the end of the Holocaust, Germany is asking itself what it still owes its Jews.

The answer, as measured by a vote in this small southwestern city, is very little.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Rosie the Riveter original, still on the job at 93

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Remember that cliche 'Age is just a number?'  Meet Elinor Otto, 93, who gets up at 4 a.m. each morning and drives to the Boeing plant in Long Beach, Calif., where she inserts rivets into the wing sections of C-17 cargo planes.  It's a job she's been doing at various aircraft assembly plants since 1942.

That's right -- Otto was one of the original "Rosie the Riveter" girls, celebrated in the popular song of the same name, who supported the war effort by filling tens of thousands of jobs because able-bodied men had joined the fighting overseas.

"We were part of this big thing," Otto said. "We hoped we'd win the war. We worked hard as women, and were proud to have that job."
Read the rest here.

The GOP’s fork in the road

When the John Birchers had to be kicked out of the Republican Party, William F. Buckley Jr. effectively excommunicated them from the GOP. When the “smoking gun” Watergate tape came out, it was the late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) who urged Richard Nixon to resign. And when Pat Buchannan’s views could no longer be called anything but anti-Semitic, it was Buckley who called him out.

If the GOP has one big problem now it is that there is no Goldwater, no Buckley to tell Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his ilk that enough is enough. The Republicans interested in governance are now participants in the political scrum. The biggest of the conservative magazines, whose editors should know better, are too timid. They poke and prod here and there, but really stand up to the destructive right wing? No. They fear a full throttle debunking would put at risk their place in the conservative cosmos. They mistakenly believe that their role is to rebuke only liberals.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page or a conservative eminence like George Will or Charles Krauthammer can call the tune of charlatans, but the Cruz crowd dismisses even them as pawns in the Great GOP Sell-out. They are thought leaders, but, by definition, influence only those who prize rationality. These days that is but one faction of the conservative movement.
Read the rest here.

Shutdown grows more likely as House digs in

Top House Republican leaders Thursday rejected the short-term spending plan expected to be passed by the Senate in coming days, increasing the possibility of a government shutdown next week.

Asked if the House would pass the bill unchanged once it is sent from the Senate, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) replied: “I do not see that happening.”
Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

California Gives Expanded Rights to Noncitizens

LOS ANGELES — California is challenging the historic status of American citizenship with measures to permit noncitizens to sit on juries and monitor polls for elections in which they cannot vote and to open the practice of law even to those here illegally. It is the leading edge of a national trend that includes granting drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in some states and that suggests legal residency could evolve into an appealing option should immigration legislation fail to produce a path to citizenship.

With 3.5 million noncitizens who are legal permanent residents in California, some view the changes as an acknowledgment of who is living here and the need to require some public service of them. But the new laws raise profound questions about which rights and responsibilities rightly belong to citizens over residents.
Read the rest here.

This is a very bad idea.

Here we go again...

WASHINGTON — House Republicans muscled through a stopgap bill Friday that would fund the government only if all spending for President Obama’s health care law is eliminated. Senate Democrats and President Obama quickly made it clear they had no intention of going along, putting the government on a course toward a shutdown unless one side relents. 

The 230-to-189 party-line vote in a bitterly divided House set in motion a fiscal confrontation with significant implications — politically and economically — but with an uncertain ending. Without a resolution, large parts of the government could shut down Oct. 1, and a first-ever default on federal debt could follow weeks later. 
Read the rest here.

This is what a politically damaged White House has been praying for. Some people are just lousy at history. That, or they are politically dumber than a box of rocks. In these kinds of battles the President ALWAYS wins and he will win again in this fight. Why?  Because he knows that the House GOP can't keep the government shutdown forever, (and yes, they are the ones doing this), nor can they allow the US to default on its debt. (Though I concede that there really are some who are so extreme in their views that they would like to see this.)

Memo to the GOP... never take hostages unless you are prepared to shoot them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

When isolationism ruled the land

In January 1938, Rep. Louis Ludlow, an Indiana Democrat, proposed a constitutional amendment strongly supported by the public: “Except in the event of an invasion of the United States or its territorial possessions and attack upon its citizens residing therein, the authority of Congress to declare war shall not become effective until confirmed by a majority of all votes cast thereon in a Nation-wide referendum.” Although narrowly defeated, 209 to 188, it might have passed without President Franklin Roosevelt’s last-minute opposition.

During Barack Obama’s, shall we say, sinuous progress toward a Syria policy, he has suggested, without using the word, that isolationism is among his afflictions. During his news conference-cum-soliloquy in Russia, he said:

“These kinds of interventions . . . are always unpopular because they seem distant and removed. . . . I’m not drawing an analogy to World War II other than to say, when London was getting bombed, it was profoundly unpopular both in Congress and around the country to help the British.”

He wisely disavowed (while insinuating) this analogy, lest Americans wonder which is more implausible, casting Bashar al-Assad as Hitler or himself as Roosevelt. But the term “isolationism” is being bandied as an epithet, not to serve as an argument for U.S. military interventions but as a substitute for an argument. To understand the debate that roiled America before World War II is to understand why today’s reservations about interventionism are not a recrudescence of isolationism.
Read the rest here.

Nazareth... Jewish now and forever

NAZARETH ILLIT, Israel — This hilltop city has placid parks, broad avenues, low crime, a fancy mall and trash collection three times a week — all very nice and neat, and by design, slightly dull.

But not these days.

Over the past few years, well-to-do Arab Israelis, both Muslim and Christian, drove their minivans 10 minutes up the hill from the ancient, overcrowded nearly all-Arab city of Nazareth and snapped up some sweet but pricey five-bedroom, four-bath houses.

Many of the homes are worth a half-million dollars or more, and Arab citizens of Israel now count for 18 percent of the 50,000 residents in “Upper Nazareth,” as it is translated in English.

They are welcome here, says the mayor, as long as they remember one very important rule.

“This is a Jewish city,” said Shimon Gafsou of his adopted home town, “now and forever.”

To be more specific: “I would rather cut off my right arm than build an Arab school,” the mayor said in an interview on his terrace at city hall.

Ditto mosques. “No, no, no. No mosques, ever,” said Gafsou. Nor churches. Or Ramadan lanterns or manger scenes. “And no Christmas trees,” said the mayor of a town that abuts the largest Arab city in Israel, celebrated as the childhood home of Jesus.
Read the rest here.

Russia Seizes Greenpeace Ship for Investigation

MOSCOW — Russia’s Federal Security Service announced on Friday that it had seized a Greenpeace International ship and its crew after a series of protests at an offshore oil rig in the Arctic Ocean and would tow the ship to port in Murmansk to conduct an investigation.

The seizure of the ship on Thursday night, which was carried out by armed border guards dropped by helicopter, threatened to escalate into a diplomatic confrontation, since the crew includes citizens of several countries, including the United States. Russia’s Foreign Ministry had already issued a protest to the Dutch ambassador, since the ship, the Arctic Sunrise, is registered in the Netherlands and Greenpeace International is based there.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis Criticizes Emphasis on Doctrinal Orthodoxy and Morals

Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
Read the rest here.

Oh my... this is going to cause a serious firestorm in the blogosphere. And yes, I do find this disturbing. I really hope the Pope has been grossly and maliciously misquoted. Please take a deep breath before commenting.

P.S. For the record, the full interview can be read here. The NY Times, not surprisingly, is focusing on a very small part.

Tom Delay's Conviction is Overturned

A Texas appellate court has overturned the conviction of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for allegedly scheming to influence Texas state elections with corporate money, his attorney told several news organizations early Thursday.

A three-judge panel voted 2-1 to overturn the conviction, calling the evidence "legally insufficient," according to the majority ruling. The decision formally acquits DeLay of all charges, but could still be appealed by the government.
Read the rest here.

Did the FED dodge a bullet?

The American economy has shed 347,000 jobs over the past two months, roughly comparable with the rate of loss seen during the Great Recession. It is remarkable that the US Federal Reserve should even have been thinking of phasing out life-support in such circumstances. 
 Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CBO issues new long-term budget and debt forecasts

It makes for some pretty grim reading.
HT: MCJ

House GOP launches attack on Obamacare

House Republican leaders announced Wednesday morning that they would take a risky double-barreled attack on President Obama’s health-care law, making it the cornerstone fight over government funding due to expire Sept. 30 and the effort to lift the Treasury’s borrowing authority.

Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), flanked by his leadership team, told reporters that the stopgap government funding bill that they will advance Friday would yield to conservative demands of including a rider to block funding for the law commonly known as Obamacare.
Read the rest here.

Virginia: Libertarian Sarvis could shake up the election for governor

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2013 — With both Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe bringing scandal and bad press to the Virginia gubernatorial election, Libertarian Robert Sarvis could become the deciding factor in November’s election.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in a virtual tie.  While the poll technically gives McAuliffe a slight lead over Cuccinelli, that lead falls within the margin of error.

Although polling shows that it is unlikely Sarvis will outright win the election, he has held a surprisingly high percentage for a third party candidate ranging between 5 and 10 percentage points. That could split votes and push one of the major candidates into victory.
Read the rest here.
As a friend on another forum noted, it would seem that the Nobel Peace Prize is really a strange Norwegian joke that only they understand.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Great House Trapped in Time

A look inside a mansion once owned by aristocrats with all of its furnishings and belongings down to the steamer trunks of its former owners left untouched for decades. The photos are eerie.

HT: Bill (aka the Godfather)

Patriarch Kirill at the Consecration of the New Armenian Cathedral

A great photo here.

Pope Francis Again Hints at New Approach to Divorce and Remarriage

ROME (AFP) - Pope Francis on Monday called for "another way" of treating divorcees who remarry - a thorny issue since Catholics who wed a second time are currently not allowed to receive Holy Communion at mass.
Read the rest here.

This appears to be a topic the Pope has taken an interest in as he has mentioned it several times now in his still young pontificate. It is also worth noting that in a free wheeling interview with the press on the plane from the World Youth Day events, he referenced the Orthodox approach to divorce and remarriage when discussing the issue.

Elizabeth Scalia on Womyn's Ordination

Vain - Disingenuous - Thoughtless

And I will add the word "brilliant" as a descriptive for her post.
HT: Fr. Z

The typical American family makes less than it did in 1989

The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.

For my money, the most depressing fact about the economy is not the fact that household incomes were basically flat in 2012 (the real median household income was down to $51,017 from $51,100 in 2011, a statistically insignificant change). It wasn't even the fact that 15 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty, according to the official, flawed definition of the term.

Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States. This chart shows real median household income over the past 25 years; that is, the money earned, in inflation-adjusted dollars, by the family at the exact middle of the income distribution.
Read the rest here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Another (likely) Terrorist Attack

As an ex-sailor this one hits kind of close to home. Prayers for all involved and their families.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Limited Posting

Sorry for the slow posting. Things have been rather hectic and my mom is in the hospital. This may continue for a little while. There are a number of things I would like to post on and I also wanted to reply to this in detail. But life happens and right now blogging is a low priority.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NY Times Guest Op-Ed: Vladimir Putin on Syria

MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
Read the rest here.

Memory Eternal


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quote of the day...

“No person shall be admitted a member of this College, unless, upon examination by the President…he shall be found acquainted with the fundamental rules of arithmetic, and able to read, construe and parse Cicero’s select orations, Virgil’s Aeneid and Greek testament, and to write Latin grammatically, and shall also produce satisfactory credentials of his good moral character.”
 -Standards for admission to Bowdoin College (1802) from here.
HT: T-19

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Border: Where Warrantless Searches and Seizures are Allowed

Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers’ electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to gain access to the data.

The documents detail what until now has been a largely secretive process that enables the government to create a travel alert for a person, who may not be a suspect in an investigation, then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying.

To critics, the documents show how the government can avert Americans’ constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, but the confiscations have largely been allowed by courts as a tool to battle illegal activities like drug smuggling, child pornography and terrorism.
Read the rest here.

Obama Cautiously Welcomes Russia's Proposal on Syria

President Obama on Monday called a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to avoid a military strike a “potentially positive development,” that could represent a “significant breakthrough,” but he said he remains skeptical the Syrian government would follow through on its obligations based on its recent track record.

“Between the statements that we saw from the Russians — the statement today from the Syrians — this represents a potentially positive development,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News, according to a transcript provided by the network. “We are going to run this to ground.  [Secretary of State] John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We’re going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are.”
Read the rest here.

A Tour of China's Ghost Cities

Very eerie. The photographs look like scenes from a post apocalyptic world.

HT: Pointedstick

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Feast of St.Peter of Kiev


Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin

Australia: Conservatives Bury Labour in Landslide Election

Conservative leader Tony Abbott has celebrated a landslide victory in Australia's general election, after reducing the Labour Party to its worst result in a century with promises of tough action against immigrants and scrapping a tax on carbon emissions.

The 55-year-old British-born former student boxer was long regarded as unelectable even by some of his own ranks and struggled to connect with voters, particularly women, thanks to sometimes abrasive style.

But he steered the Liberal-National coalition back to power after six years in opposition amid widespread disillusion with years of infighting in the ruling party.
Read the rest here.

Mr. Abbott is cool on military interventionism, a staunchly conservative Catholic and a monarchist. All in all it was a good day down under.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Invading Syria

WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.
Read the rest here.
HT: T-19

A War the Generals Don't Want

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempseywas largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
Read the rest here.

Little GOP support for Syrian strike is seen in the face of strong popular opposition

...Mr. Cole’s constituent experience is not isolated. Representative Mick Mulvaney, a Republican swept into power in 2010 in military-focused South Carolina on a platform of small government, said that in his three-plus years in Congress, no issue had elicited as passionate a response as Syria. And, he added, “to say it’s 99 percent against would be overstating the support.”

Of the 1,000 or so calls and e-mails he has received, three supported some kind of response. And two-thirds of the correspondents have never reached out to him before.

Representative Candice S. Miller, Republican of Michigan, said she was at a peach festival parade last weekend in her district, an event that does not typically draw the type of constituent who is overly political. But as she made her way down the parade route, one person after another urged her to vote no on any authorization of force in Syria.

“It was not a political event at all,” Ms. Miller said. “But there were a lot of people, older veterans especially in their hats, all saying, ‘No on Syria!'   “
Read the rest here.

Saturday Fast

A quick reminder that Pope Francis has appealed for a day of fasting and prayer on behalf of peace in Syria to be observed tomorrow. This appeal was not restricted to Catholics and appears to be voluntary for all concerned. Right now I can think of few better causes for a day of prayer and voluntary fasting.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

As US ponders options, so does Iran

They’re weighing whether to order Hezbollah to launch rockets at Israel or target U.S. warships in the Mediterranean. Or they could send shadowy groups for suicide-bomb attacks against Israelis and Americans. Or, as one blogger has called for, they could try kidnapping families of American military officers in far-flung corners of the globe.

Or Iran may do nothing.

One thing, however, is clear: The debate over whether Congress approves the Obama administration’s plan to strike Syria for its use of chemical weapons is being watched nowhere more closely than in Iran, where the notoriously opaque political leaders are wrestling over whether — and how — to retaliate.
Read the rest here.

Summer is Waning

Time for a quick look back. Helmar cigarettes with all you can drink root beer and ginger ale for 5 cents on the Atlantic City boardwalk 1908. Click here for the supersized version of the photo.

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Melkite Leader Says U.S. Attacks on Syria Would Worsen the Conflict

WASHINGTON — The leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has argued that, despite reported chemical attacks in Syria, foreign military intervention is a destructive option that will only worsen the ongoing civil war.

“I am adding my voice to all the statements made by most of my brother Eastern patriarchs, several episcopal conferences, the archbishop of Canterbury, and especially His Holiness Pope Francis and his representative at the United Nations in Geneva,” said Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III in an Aug. 30 statement.

“I state categorical rejection by Syria’s Catholic Churches, including the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in Arab countries and those of the expansion, of any foreign intervention in Syria and any attack or intervention of any sort whatsoever.”

Patriarch Gregorios III, a native-born Syrian, is the president of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, as well as patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, an Eastern Church in communion with Rome.
Read the rest here.
HT: Blog reader John L.

The Consecration of a Convent Chapel


September 3rd at Holy Trinity Monastery (Convent)

Property Rights vs Public Safety on the Jersey Shore

SURF CITY, N.J. — Anchor Produce Market sells homemade mozzarella, its own fresh salsa and what many regulars swear is the best sweet corn on Long Beach Island.

But, a sign on the counter declares, it will not sell anything to the owners of 63 Long Beach Boulevard, 7 Coast Avenue, 12 Sea View Drive South or 34 other nearby oceanfront properties. 

Those owners have refused to grant easements to allow the federal government to build a massive dune along a 35-mile stretch of the Jersey Shore. Without the protective ridge of sand, engineers predict it is only a matter of time before homes, neighborhoods, even entire communities are wiped out by rising seas — a reality brought into stark relief by the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. 

 So until they sign the easements, holdouts should buy their groceries elsewhere. 
Read the rest here.

I loathe eminent domain. As in I really detest it, because it has an incredibly long history of abuse wherever it is legal. But I have never quite been able to bring myself to call for its complete abolition, Mainly because in the back of my mind I have always accepted that there are very rare cases where it can be justified. This might be one of them.

As much as I hate to side with the statists, this really does sound like a handful of people invoking property rights over public safety. And even libertarians will generally concede that your rights end if and when they threaten someone elses. It's a bit like invoking property rights in a refusal to abide by the fire code. My guess is many of these same people who are screaming about their "view" took public money to help repair the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy or will happily file claims when their house is devastated by the next big storm. Speaking as one of the people who will have to foot that bill I think their position is hard to stomach. 

Even so, I would likely side with them if it were just their property or lives they are endangering. They could be told to sign the easement or renounce any and all future claims to disaster aid, end of story. But it's not just their property at risk. They are endangering other people's property, and potentially even lives on a significant scale. 

Sorry. No one has that right. 

Further, the inconvenience and loss of property value is relatively minor compared to the potential public dangers of failing to build the sand barriers. So yea, this has dragged on long enough. Ask the holdouts nicely one more time. But if they still say no, then invoke eminent domain and expropriate the property required to protect the local community from a major hurricane.

My fingers actually hurt typing that last sentence.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Good News From Down Under

Tony Abbott, the British-born leader of the Australian Liberal Party, has been ridiculed as a boorish brawler, whose deep conservatism and apparent misogyny ought to make him terminally unelectable. A monarchist and a devout Catholic who once trained to be a priest, his nicknames have included “Dr No”, “The Mad Monk” and “People Skills” (because he was presumed not to have any). 
Read the rest here.

Sounds like my kinda guy. On a side note, why do Australians refer to their conservative party as liberal?

Slow Posting

I've been a little busy lately and this may continue for a few days. Nothing serious. Just the routine things that pop up and need to be taken care of. Fall cleaning of the house, yard work and working on a buddy's 1969 GMC truck with him. What some people won't due to avoid the damn SMOG checks!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Pope Francis Calls For Fasting and Prayer for Peace

Pope Francis has designated this Saturday September 7th, the vigil of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary on the western calendar, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and throughout the world. There appears to be some confusion as to whether this is a voluntary appeal or he is issuing a more formal "thou shall" declaration. That aside, he has also invited non-Catholic Christians to join in the prayer and fasting.

This strikes me as something that anyone who calls themselves a Christian could agree on and support.