Sunday, November 11, 2018

On this World War I anniversary, let’s not celebrate Woodrow Wilson

On the Nov. 11 100th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War I, I’m celebrating the heroism of American warriors in Europe. Perhaps 116,000 of them died in that struggle. Their commander in chief, Woodrow Wilson, did not match the quality of their service. During the conflict, Wilson made serious mistakes as a political leader that should never be forgotten.

Wilson’s missteps in wartime were hardly his only defects. His most disgraceful flaw was his racism. Given his high-flown rhetoric as a professor about elevating humankind, Wilson especially stood out in his white supremacy. He was not a man of his time but a throwback. His two predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, had looked far kindlier on African Americans and their rights.

In 1916, Wilson, a Democrat, narrowly won reelection, campaigning under false pretenses with the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” Privately, however, he knew it was quite possible that he would take the nation into the European struggle soon after starting his second term.

As an academic, Wilson had emphasized the need for presidents to explain military setbacks and other complex or mystifying events to Americans. Yet he spent much of 1917, the first year of U.S. engagement in the war, in kingly isolation, rarely using his luminous oratorical gifts to explain to his countrymen why they needed to make severe sacrifices for a conflict that wasn’t an obvious, direct threat to America’s national security.

Wilson, who preened as a civil libertarian, persuaded Congress to pass the Espionage Act, giving him extraordinary power to retaliate against Americans who opposed him and his wartime behavior. That same law today enables presidents to harass their political adversaries. Wilson’s Justice Department also convicted almost a thousand people for using “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language” against the government, the military or the flag. Wilson is an excellent example of how presidents can exploit wars to increase authoritarian power and restrict freedom, some arguing that criticizing the commander in chief amounts to criticizing soldiers in the field.

In the 1918 midterms, with the Great War heading to its climax, Wilson shamelessly exploited the military struggle for domestic politics, urging voters to support his party “for the sake of the nation itself” because Republicans were trying to take “the conduct of the war out of my hands.” This cheap maneuver backfired. Roosevelt and Taft charged that Wilson was asking for “unlimited control over the settlement of a peace that will affect them for a century.” Partly out of disgust with Wilson’s presumptuousness, voters switched control of both the House and Senate to the Republicans.

Read the rest here.

I regard Wilson as one of the worst presidents in American history.

(Note: I am still traveling and comments remain on moderation. I hope to be back on a more regular basis Wednesday.)

A War Story (reposted)


One of the great cemeteries populated by the First World War

(I wrote this essay ten years ago but think it worth reposting.)

From my grandmother and my cousin Sarah Jane (memory eternal) I gleaned the story of my great-uncle Francis Guy (known as Guy in the family). He was one of the older children (14 in all) of my great-grandparents who lived in Endicott New York at the turn of the last century. My great-grandfather was by all accounts a good man, hard working and God fearing as they used to say in those days. But he also had a reputation for being stubborn with a "my way or the highway" mentality.

By contrast my uncle Guy was a shy youth in his middle teens who had been born with some minor disfigurement on his face to which no one really paid any notice other than him. But he was very self conscious about it. In 1914 my great grandfather wanted him to get a job at the local shoe manufacturing plant run by the Endicott Johnson company, then the biggest by far employer in my home town. Guy was perfectly OK with this. But he asked if he could set aside a small amount of his earnings to save for an operation which he felt would remove the offending birth mark. My great-grandfather said no. He was a man who believed that if you were born that way, it’s what God intended and that’s the end of it.

Well he was also not very diplomatic about it and there was an argument, a real barn burner by all accounts. When it was over an ultimatum was given to the boy; do as you’re told or get out and make your own way in the world. In the heat of anger and hurt Guy left home.

Now at this time what would become known as the Great War had just broken out in Europe. Guy like a lot of kids of his generation had rather romantic notions about war. The United States had not fought a really serious one in almost sixty years and memory dulls with time. With the United States still neutral and in need of a job Guy struck out for Canada where he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army (Canada was part of the British Empire then). I am not sure if he lied about his age. He landed in the Princess Patricia Regiment which would gain great fame in the war. After preliminary training the regiment was shipped to England and then over to the continent where it joined up with the British Expeditionary Force holding the left wing of the Allied line with the Belgian Army in one of the few parts of Belgium not occupied by the Germans.

In February of 1915 during one of the innumerable back and forth battles near Ypres his unit assaulted the German trench works. The attack was repelled with the customary horrific casualties but Guy made it back to his own trench unharmed. When he looked back over the battlefield known as no man’s land between the opposing trench lines he saw amongst the human wreckage of war one of his close friends lying wounded. The odds of surviving in no man’s land were not good since neither side respected stretcher bearers or medics. The wounded were usually left to die. Guy leapt out of the relative safety of his trench and rushed forward to save his buddy. He reached him and under heavy fire dragged him back to the trench. After lowering the wounded soldier down Guy turned to drop down himself when he was shot in the stomach. He died several days later at a military hospital and was buried in one of the vast cemeteries near Ypres created by the carnage of the War to End All Wars.

My great-grandparents received the telegram while watching a silent movie at the local cinema house. The lights were turned on and half the town showed up to express their sympathy. The Canadian Army later (and retroactively) conferred the Military Medal on him posthumously which my great-grandmother was buried with. I am told that in Ottawa there is a book on display with the names of all of the dead of the Princess Patricia Regiment inscribed in it. A page is ceremoniously turned each day. On one of those pages is the name of an Irish-Catholic kid with a birth mark from a small town in upstate New York, Francis Guy Dwyer. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

The next worse thing to a battle lost, is a battle won.

-The Duke of Wellington


Old men declare war.  But it is the young who must fight and die.

-Herbert Hoover




In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Royal Canadian Army



IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.



We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.



Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Traveling (again)


Once again I am off. With some luck, I should be back in about a week (your time).

P.S. Due to some inappropriate comments in the recent past and the fact that I will not be online much over the next week or so and thus will be unable to keep an eye on things, I have enabled comment moderation. I apologize for the inconvenience. 

Lutheran Minister: Porn is OK if "ethically sourced"

From the "you can't make this up" file.

HT: Blog reader Tim

Friday, November 02, 2018

Constantinople Abolishes Ukrainian Orthodox Church

In case anyone was thinking (as briefly was I) that this business in Ukraine was a nasty tiff and maybe with some help from the other local churches this would get smoothed over...

The self governing Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) has been abolished according to one of the exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Additionally all former hierarchs and clergy of the former UOC (MP) are to now consider themselves under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Archbishop Job of Telmessos also asserted that if necessary the Ecumenical Patriarchate could rescind the autocephalous status of the Russian Orthodox Church as it has the authority to do so with any church whose autocephaly was not granted by an Oecuemnical Council.

I don't see much hope for reconciliation after that. Moscow is not going to ever reenter into communion with a "mother church" that thinks it can revoke the independence of the Russian Church at will. How can the EP climb down from these kinds of statements?

"Sorry guys. The Turks slipped some acid into our drinking water."

I will be fascinated to see how the rest of the Orthodox world reacts to this.

Sources...
1 & 2

Gold buying by central banks hits its highest level in almost three years

 
Central banks around the world have upped their spending on gold to the highest level in almost three years, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

More than 148 metric tons of gold were bought by the national banks in the three months to the end of September, a rise of 22 percent on the same period last year.

Using the current spot price of $1,223 per troy ounce, the gold purchases by the banks added up to a $5.82 billion spending splurge on the precious metal.

Russia’s central bank led the buying, purchasing more than 92 tons of gold. This marked the country’s biggest quarterly net purchase on records that stretch back to 1993.

In May this year, the Russian central bank’s First Deputy Governor Dmitry Tulin told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament that gold was “a 100 percent guarantee from legal and political risks.”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Primacy and Identity A Response to ‘First Without Equals’ and the Tragedy of Deficient Ecclesiology

 The paper that follows was originally drafted in 2015 as an internal reference document for members of various theological commissions, as a response to documents that had then been somewhat recently published and generated debate over the preceding years. The more recent events of 2018, centred in Ukraine but relating to questions of ecclesiological primacy that affect the whole Orthodox world (and which, at the present moment,1 are still very much ongoing), have given cause to disseminate the text more broadly, as a small study of some of the core ecclesiastical and theological principles involved.

We are witnessing, at the present moment, a fuller realisation of the disastrous theological and ecclesiological positions outlined in the text below, which were already nascent three years ago (and indeed further back). Improper theological visions of Church hierarchy and primacy have since led beyond the bold assertion of the unsupportable concept of a Primate who is ‘first without equals’, to the actual implementation of this flawed ecclesiology in one See’s direct violation of canonical order, based precisely on its insupportable belief that it has ultimate authority to act in its own right, in a manner binding upon all others.2 That this position, and the dire actions associated with it, is contrary to canonical order is the subject of many studies already; that it is the ‘logical’ fruit of a flawed vision of primacy and authority, rooted in misapplications of Trinitarian theology and a failure to understand episcopal-sacramental participation in the Body of Christ, is the object of what follows below.

Read the rest here.

Happy Reformation Day (late)

The Church Fathers were mostly heretics. Really.

HT: Bill Tighe

Quote of the day...

Violence is not necessary to destroy a civilization. Each civilization dies from indifference toward the unique values which created it.

- Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Can Orthodoxy Live Without The Ecumenical Patriarchate?

An interesting reflection which can be read here.

I am inclined to agree with their conclusions. As Bill Tighe noted in a recent email discussion...

"Why not (if an outsider may opine)?  If it can exist without the first Rome, why can it not do likewise without the copy?"

Indeed.

34 female religious superiors ask for access to all Church offices, including priesthood

October 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The general superiors of 34 female orders from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg are demanding more influence in the Church. As part of an international umbrella organization, they ask that women be admitted to all offices in the Church, including ordained offices. Already in 2016, some superiors general of the umbrella organization asked Pope Francis about a commission on female deacons. The final document of the Youth Synod seems to resonate with some of the requests of the women religious.

As several German-speaking outlets reported on October 25, the German-speaking members of the International Union Superiors General (UISG) had a meeting in Innsbruck, Austria, at which they also requested that women have voting rights at future synods of bishops.

“In the future, more women are to be included at synods of bishops – of course with voting rights. That is the only way they can influence decisions,” they explain.

The general superiors of the German-speaking orders met from October 18 to 22 in Innsbruck, according to a report on the website of the Austrian religious orders. The local bishop, Hermann Glettler, visited the general superiors during their meeting and spent some time with them. Inge Metzmacher, pastoral counselor of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, moderated the discussions.

According to this report, these religious leaders see a need for a new “culture of dialogue, of participation, and of gender equality” in the Church. The Church's teaching should be adjusted to “new scientific findings in the theological and other academic disciplines.” The general superiors are of the opinion that an increase of qualified women in the Church would bring “diversity and an enrichment on all levels.” One could learn from religious communities “how men and women have fruitfully worked – and still work – together for the people.”

Read the rest here.

Of course we too have our w/o heretics. See here (scroll to page 5). Though in the case of Orthodoxy I believe this is still fairly fringe. Sadly in the Roman Church this heresy has become so widely embraced that it may well be a majority view in some quarters.

Abortion down 2/3 in Russia since 2000

 
The number of abortions in Russia has dropped by nearly 2/3 since the beginning of the century, according to statistics presented by Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, reports Interfax-Religion.

In 2000, there were 2,138,000 recorded abortions in Russia, and in 2017—779,999.

“That’s a very serious decline—63.5%,” Golikova noted.

Moreover, the number of Russians who condemn abortion has tripled in 20 years, from 12 to 35%. There is still a long way to go, however.

It was previously announced in January 2017 that the number of abortions had been halved in Russia in the span of four years, with a 13% drop in 2016—96,300 abortions. As Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova, the number of abortions by desire, without medical conditions, dropped by 72,000 that year.

The fight against abortion is the Church’s most important social work, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill stated at the opening of the VII Church-wide Congress for Social Work in Moscow in October of last year.

His Holiness has twice addressed the State Duma, calling for them to find a solution to the “horrifyingly high” number of abortions that continue to plague Russia.

The Church recently opened its 58th shelter for pregnant women and mothers, and it also operates 169 humanitarian aid centers throughout the country.

Source.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Australian (RC) bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church's current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a "transformation of the priesthood" was underway.

Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Bishop of the Parramatta Diocese of Sydney, Australia gave an address in September to the New Zealand National Assembly of Diocesan Clergy about the current crises rocking the Church. Blaming the clerical abuse crisis on a faulty conception of the priesthood, Long mentioned women’s ordination as a possibility – but only after even more sweeping changes.

“... As important as it is to consider the question of women ordained ministry in the Church, it is far worse to persist with structures that fail to convey the message of the Gospel to the deep yearnings of the men and women of today,” he told his audience.

“Adding women into the mix in terms of admitting them to ordination might be likened to pouring new wine into old wine skins. For the Church to flourish, it is more crucial that we come to terms with the flaws of clericalism within the very structure of the Church and move beyond its patriarchal matrix,” Long continued.

The Bishop praised Pope Francis for unleashing a "new energy" and pouring a "new wine" upon the Church.

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Alphabet Crowd's Very Own Saint and Martyr

Matthew Shepard, who was killed in what most likely was a drug deal that went bad, is to be re-interred with suitable ceremony in Washington's National Cathedral. Of the politically correct version of events surrounding his death, perhaps the best that can be said is never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Ultimately though, none of this really means much when weighed against the incontrovertible facts. A young man was savagely murdered. His family was devastated and his killers will probably die in prison.

Lord have mercy.

Details.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Help Needed

Wikipedia is currently trying to get a handle on what is happening in Ukraine and the new schism. Unfortunately Orthodoxy is a bit of a mystery there and there are far too few knowledgeable editors for the various articles we do have on Orthodoxy. A new article has been created currently titled Schism of 2018. I suspect the name will be changed at some point in the near future. We are in urgent need of volunteers willing to help with this and related articles. You don't have to even sign up to edit (although there are advantages to having an account). You can just show up and start editing from your browser page.

That said, and for those unfamiliar with how Wikipedia operates, there are a few community rules...
  • All claims of fact that are not obviously uncontroversial need to be cited to a reliable source. Secondary sources are preferred but not obligatory. Sources that are obviously biased or otherwise unreliable should not be used. Personal knowledge also called Original Research is inadmissible. 
  • Do not edit to promote your side of the dispute. Stick to verifiable facts and present them as blandly as possible. If (like me) you have an opinion on the matter I suggest trying to play devil's advocate when adding material and asking yourself if this can in any way be criticized as being unfair or unbalanced in the coverage.
  • Don't edit war. If someone challenges an edit or reverts it, go to the article talk page and discuss the matter. If you can't reach agreement then open the discussion to other editors and try to seek consensus. 
Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am an experienced editor there and if there are questions I can be reached on my user talk page.

My thoughts on L'Affair Khashoggi

This whole thing looks less like an orchestrated murder than a planned snatch op (kidnapping) gone bad. If they wanted him dead it could have been done anywhere under circumstances that would have given the Kingdom plausible deniability. Any competent intelligence service knows how to make problems go away in a manner that can be passed off as a robbery gone bad, a suicide or even death by natural causes. The Russians are very good at this sort of thing. I'd ask Vlad for some confirmation but I don't want to spend the rest of my life checking my food and drinks with a geiger counter.

Back to Mr. Khashoggi. Assassinating someone in their consulate would have been bone crushingly stupid. No government or intelligence service with more than two brain cells in operation would do that. I think they planned to grab him, probably drug him, and smuggle him back to Saudi Arabia where they could put him on ice for a while until he agreed to play nice and/or they decided what to do with him long term.

Clearly something went wrong. A purely educated guess is he put up a fight and the subsequent interrogation got ugly. Maybe he had a heart attack. Maybe he had a bad reaction to a drug. Maybe he said somethings that ticked off people in the snatch team and somebody overreacted. We will probably never know.

But my gut says this did not start out as a planned hit.

Schism

Various news agencies including RT and Reuters are reporting that the Russian Orthodox Church has broken all remaining ties with the Ecumenical patriarchate. Presumably this means severing Eucharistic communion. I did not see this announcement up on the ROC's English language website yet. But it appears this is just breaking. While incredibly sad this can hardly be a surprise given the EP's assertion that they are "reclaiming" jurisdiction over Ukraine with the intent of granting autocephaly to an as yet to be formed unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church composed of groups hitherto universally condemned as schistmatic.

Lord have mercy.

Update: The Washington Post specifically states that eucharistic communion has been severed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Large cross on Greek island destroyed because it could be ‘offensive to Muslim migrants’

The ancient mythical Greek island of Lesbos is today better known as anchorage ground for human traffickers and the problems and conflicts that have arisen in connection with the boat traffic.

It is now reported that a large cross monument on the Greek Orthodox Christian island has been levelled to the ground. This after a group claiming to promote intercultural coexistence argued that the cross could be perceived as offensive to the predominantly Muslim boat migrants.

The cross monument was built on the cliffs of Apellia, beneath the castle of Mytilene, in memory of people who have died in the sea. According to the local coexistence group, however, the cross was offensive because many who have drowned, and many migrants on the island are not Christians.

The local newspaper on the island reports that the group has also received support from some aid organisations that expressed similar negative opinions about the cross-shaped memorial monument.

A letter was sent to the Island’s port minister and mayor, in which the coexistence group claimed that the cross was placed there to prevent migrants from swimming.

The letter stated that the initiators of the monument were “aspiring crusaders” with racist and intolerant motives who abused the Christian cross, which should be a symbol of love and sacrifice. And they therefore called for the monument to be demolished.

And that was what happened. Just a few days later, at night, the whole monument was levelled to the ground. The demolished remains of the cross remain as rubble on the site

The attack by the coexistence group on the monument and the demolition of it has aroused strong reactions in large parts of the local population who believe that the deed goes against the Christian religious beliefs shared by a majority of the inhabitants of the Island.

Source

The Ecumenical Patriarch Grants Formal Recognition to Ukrainian Schismatics

Details

The EP has just moved the minute hand on the Orthodox Doomsday clock to 1 minute before midnight.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

A New Blog on the Ecclesial Crisis In Ukraine

There is a new blog that has been created to provide ongoing updates and discussion regarding the serious crisis in Ukraine and the threat of schism. Additionally there are a large number of documents and background information. I have added the link to the blogroll in the sidebar.

Orthodox Synaxis

HT: Byzantine Texas

Openly saying what a lot of Catholics have been secretly thinking

The Second Vatican Council was an unmitigated disaster and it is becoming increasingly difficult to pretend that the modern Catholic Church is the same in faith, praxis and spirit to that which existed before 1965.

From here.

P.S. Pope Francis has been invited by Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea. I doubt even Francis is that far gone. But the mere fact of the invitation speaks volumes. 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Some food for thought

It appears that some snowflake has taken their disappointment over the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to a potentially perilous level, allegedly posting... "So Who's Gonna Take One for the Team and Kill Kavanaugh?" on Twitter.

This woke champion of all that's right may be about to discover that freedom of expression and the right to protest has limits. Threatening a Federal Judge, and inciting or soliciting others to harm one is a Federal crime covered under Title 18 Chapter 115 of the US Code. If convicted of said offense there is a real possibility that she could end up doing time in a Federal prison. The Justice Department and US prosecutors do not generally have a sense of humor when it comes to this sort of thing. But as vile as this alleged offense is, she should take some comfort.

Because even if formally arrested and indicted, she has rights.
  •  The right to legal councel.
  •  The right to be tried in an open court before an impartial jury of her peers.
  • The right to confront witnesses and evidence against her and to cross examine or otherwise impeach said witnesses and evidence.
  • An absolute presumption of innocence, until such time as the jury concludes that the evidence has proven her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is one of those things things that defines us as a country and marks us out as Americans.

Unless your last name is Kavanaugh.

A little off the top and a straight razor shave please

Meet Anthony Mancinelli, a man who enjoys his work so much that retirement does not appear to be in his plans. He is a barber who started cutting hair when Warren Harding was president. In fairness, he was a boy at the time. Mr. Manicinelli, now 107, has all of his own teeth, takes no medication and is still cutting hair full time, a job that requires him to be on his feet pretty much all day. Somewhere along the line he got his name in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest working barber. 

From here.

Many (more) years!

Friday, October 05, 2018

The end of an era in Switzerland

ZURICH (Reuters) - The era of mystery-cloaked numbered Swiss bank accounts has officially come to a close as Switzerland, the world’s biggest center for managing offshore wealth, began automatically sharing client data with tax authorities in dozens of other countries.

The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said on Friday it had for the first time exchanged financial account data at the end of September under global standards that aim to crack down on tax cheats. 

Bank secrecy still exists in some areas — Swiss authorities cannot automatically see what citizens have in their domestic bank accounts, for example — but gone are the days when well-paid European professionals could stash wealth across the border and beyond the prying eyes of their tax man.

Read the rest here.

Herbert Hoover in Cincinnati Ohio October 22, 1929



Rare film footage with original sound taken in Cincinnati Ohio during a formal visit by President Herbert Hoover two days before the beginning of the stock market crash.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Hugh Hewitt: The volcano rumbles but the left can’t hear it

An hour’s brisk walk can take you from the Dunker Church, across “the cornfield” and down Bloody Lane all the way to Burnside Bridge — the key locations on the battlefield at Antietam, a little more than an hour’s drive from the U.S. Capitol and scene of the bloodiest single day for the American military in our history.

Some 23,000 in blue or gray were killed or wounded, or went missing during the grueling 12 hours of close combat at Sharpsburg, Md., on Sept. 17, 1862.

When pundits talk of a “cold civil war” in the country, they mark themselves as ignorant of the real thing. Far from real war, the civil tension in the country isn’t even close to 1960s levels of violence, much less the sort of actual war that once convulsed the country in the 1860s. Screaming demonstrators at hearings jar. But they aren’t the Weathermen terrorizing the 1960s, not the Oklahoma City bombing, not the Fort Hood massacre.

Yet.

But some seem to welcome a slide in that direction. “Tell me again why we shouldn’t confront Republicans where they eat, where they sleep, and where they work until they stop being complicit in the destruction of our democracy,” tweeted Ian Millhiser, justice editor at ThinkProgress.

“Because it is both wrong & supremely dangerous,” replied Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett. “When one side denies the legitimacy of good faith disagreement over policy — as well as over constitutional principle — the other side will eventually reciprocate. Neither a constitutional republic nor a democracy can survive that.”

Princeton’s much-admired political theorist Robert P. George said of the exchange: “Randy Barnett drops a major truth bomb in response to an especially foolish and irresponsible tweet. We’re already in the orange zone of bitterness and hatred of citizens toward fellow citizens. We’re about to enter the red zone. This is how faction destroys democratic republics.”

The daily ratcheting-up of rhetoric is driving people away from ordinary political conversation. It is too freighted with potential for disproportionate responses to talk candidly about such things as one’s views of the Kavanaugh hearings. The intentional release of senators’ home addresses by someone there is reason to believe is a Capitol Hill staffer — “doxing” — is an ominous step in the Millhiser direction. It is a step back toward the tragedy that unfolded only last year when a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter tried to gun down the GOP caucus at baseball practice.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

In view of recent events this may be of passing interest

It is represented to us that the universal suffrage, as now existing through the Union, is abused; that fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled to by paying his pro rata of the expense of Government--in consequence of which, WE do hereby abolish Congress, and it is therefore abolished; and WE order and desire the representatives of all parties interested to appear at the Musical Hall of this city on the first of February next, and then and there take the most effective steps to remedy the evil complained of.

Given under our hand and seal in the City of San Francisco this Nineteenth day of October in the Year of Our Savior 1859

Norton I
Emperor of these United States
& Protector of Mexico

Saturday, September 29, 2018

NO!

Sometimes a one word answer is what really is called for. This is probably one of those moments.

Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Metropolitan of Kiev celebrate Divine Liturgy



His Holiness Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II and His Beatitude Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Onuphry celebrated Divine Liturgy in Svyato-Uspensky monastery near Odessa, Ukraine. Pat. Theodore has been outspoken in his defense of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Patriarch Theodoros II Declares Support for the Canonical Ukrainian Church

Following his 5-day visit to the Church of Poland, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa began a fraternal visit to Ukraine, expressing his support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.

The Alexandrian primate was greeted at the Odessa airport with bread and flowers today by His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk, His Eminence Mitrophan of Gorlovka, His Grace Bishop Diodore of Yuzhnensk, and His Grace Bishop Viktor of Artsiz, reports the site of the Odessa Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Pat. Theodoros then visited the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa, where he was joyfully greeted by thousands of Orthodox faithful, many of whom remember him from the days of his pastoral ministry in Odessa as a representative of the Alexandrian patriarchal throne from 1985 to 1990. There he served a moleben for the unity of the Church of Christ, for the cessation of schisms, and for peace in the long-suffering Ukrainian land, being joined by several hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church and clergy of the Odessa Diocese.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Roman Catholic Archbishop Publishes Attack on Vatican Document

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has published a wide-ranging criticism of the Instrumentum Laboris (a kind of introduction or preamble) for the upcoming Synod on the Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

In an introductory paragraph, Chaput explains that the analysis was “received from a respected North American theologian”. The article, which appears in First Things, warns that the Instrumentum veers dangerously close to heresy – specifically the heresies of naturalism, Lutheranism, and relativism.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Scenes from the land of long ago



Paris during the Belle Époque. Conceding an exception for modern medicine and personal hygiene... I really hate the modern world.

And now for a little trivia...


How is it that the tenth President of the United States (b 1790) has two living grandsons in 2018?

Answer

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Moscow Suspends Commemoration of Pat. Bartholomew- Calls for Urgent Meeting of Heads of Local Churches

...In this critical situation, when Constantinople has practically refused to resolve the matter by means of dialogue, the Moscow Patriarchate is forced to suspend the liturgical prayerful commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople and with profound regret to suspend the concelebration with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as to break off the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Episcopal Assemblies and in the theological dialogues, multilateral commissions and any other structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In the event that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will continue to carry out its uncanonical activities in the territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we will be compelled to completely break off the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. All the responsibility for the tragic consequences of this division will lie personally with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the hierarchs supporting him.
Being aware that the current situation puts in jeopardy the whole world Orthodoxy, we at this hour of hardship ask the Local Autocephalous Churches for support and call upon the Primates of the Churches to fully realize our shared responsibility for the fate of the world Orthodoxy and initiate a fraternal pan-Orthodox discussion on the church situation in Ukraine.

We call upon the plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church to pray ardently for the preservation of the unity of the Holy Orthodoxy.

Source.

This is not a formal severance of communion. But it is a step in that direction.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Silver



It's no secret that precious metals have been in a bear market for around the last seven years. Lately silver has been taking a beating that in another age would have been associated with the parlor rug. Since peaking in 2011 at just a tick under $50.00 oz silver has been in a steady downward decline that has reached the point where the spot price closed today at $14.22 oz. Even more interesting is its relationship to gold. The silver/gold price ratio (the number of ounces of silver needed to equal 1 oz of gold) has fluctuated, at times dramatically, over the last 45 years or so since gold was demonetized. But the average has been in the range of 50:1 give or take.

Currently it is within spitting distance of 85:1.

No, that's not a record. See these historical charts from Kitco. But it is the highest it's been in a quarter century. And on the rare occasions when the ratio has gotten over 80:1 it has been a signal that silver, at least relative to gold, has become over sold and is cheap.

Hmm...

[Full disclaimer: I have recently added some silver to my precious metals holdings on a speculative basis. Nothing posted on this blog should be considered investing advice. The above is purely for informational purposes and readers should do their own due diligence before making any financial investments.]

Monday, September 10, 2018

5/3 Bank


In the unlikely event anyone reading this blog is employed by 5/3 Bank I just wanted to post a short note to let you know why I will shortly be closing my account.

I just spent most of the afternoon trying to rent a safe deposit box. For those unfamiliar with the process, it should be neither complicated nor time consuming. I have done this on multiple occasions in the past at different banks and cannot recall any instance where it took much more than 15 minutes.

When I arrived at the bank somewhere between 1300-1330 I was informed there were a number of walk in customers ahead of me. So I waited patiently and was eventually informed that it would be at least an hour and half before I would be seen. It was suggested I make an appointment to which I agreed. An appointment was made for 1600. When I arrived back at the bank at appx 1545 I was told that the personal services banker was with another customer which did not overly concern me since I was a few minutes early and had an appointment. But within five minutes I was told that my appointment would be pushed back because the walk in customer was taking up more time than expected.

That's when I gave up and left. Clearly this is a bank that is not interested in my business which is just as well. If they can't manage something as simple as renting a safe deposit box in the course of several hours I cannot imagine how long I might have had to wait if I actually had one and needed to access it.

So, within the next few days I will close my account and look for a bank that is capable of handling in a timely manner the simpler bread and butter activities typically associated with that profession.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Spanish flu: the killer that still stalks us, 100 years on

One hundred years ago this month, just as the first world war was drawing to a fitful close, an influenza virus unlike any before or since swept across the British Isles, felling soldiers and civilians alike. One of the first casualties was the British prime minister and war leader, David Lloyd George.

On 11 September 1918, Lloyd George, riding high on news of recent Allied successes, arrived in Manchester to be presented with the keys to the city. Female munitions workers and soldiers home on furlough cheered his passage from Piccadilly train station to Albert Square. But later that evening, he developed a sore throat and fever and collapsed.

He spent the next 10 days confined to a sickbed in Manchester town hall, too ill to move and with a respirator to aid his breathing. Newspapers, including the Manchester Guardian, underplayed the severity of his condition for fear of presenting the Germans with a propaganda coup. But, according to his valet, it had been “touch and go”.

Lloyd George, then aged 55, survived, but others were not so lucky. In an era before antibiotics and vaccines, the “Spanish influenza” – so-called because neutral Spain was one of the few countries in 1918 where correspondents were free to report on the outbreak – claimed the lives of nearly 250,000 Britons. Cruelly for a nation that had seen the flower of British male youth mown down by German guns, the majority were adults aged 20 to 40. The mortality was the inverse of most flu seasons, when deaths fall most heavily on the elderly and the under-fives.

The global death toll was inconceivable: according to the most recent estimates, between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide perished in the three pandemic waves between the spring of 1918 and the winter of 1919. Adjusting for population growth, that is equivalent to between 200 million and 425 million today.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Ukraine: It's Official


Bart is going to do it.
The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced on 7 September 2018 that within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed as its Exarchs in Kiev His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States, and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Source
HT

Lord have mercy!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Good news!

As some of you will be aware I was wondering what had happened to the Midwest Conservative Journal, one of those blogs that was on my check everyday list. I am very happy to report that I just got an email from Christopher J who has started blogging again. The new address is http://themcj.blogspot.com/. I will be adding it to the sidebar directly.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Coming Schism (maybe)


No, this is not about the Roman Catholic Church. It is about the Orthodox. Sadly, evidence is rapidly accumulating that the Ecumenical Patriarch intends to take actions in the ongoing schism within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that are all but guaranteed to provoke a major crisis within the Church. I am still praying that this will not happen but reports are mounting daily, without any denial from the EP or those closely connected to him, that he intends to issue a tomos of autocephaly to the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate.

It is inconceivable that the Russian Church will not respond by breaking communion.

The question is, how far will the schism spread?

I think it quite possible that the Serbians and Bulgarians will side with Moscow. We can assume the ethnically Greek local churches will side with Constantinople. I am including here the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem. The latter is of course composed of 99% Arabs, but the hierarchy is 99% Greek.

As for the rest... The Romanians I honestly have no idea. There is not a lot of love for Russia there but I just don't have any feel for how they will go. The Church of Georgia is close to Moscow. Would that be enough to provoke their taking sides in the schism? Then there is the Church of Antioch. They are already out of communion with Jerusalem over that church's intrusion on Antioch's canonical territory and they are none too thrilled by Constantinople's refusal to come to their aid. And lastly there are what may be called the micro churches... Albania, the Czech Lands, Poland and the OCA.

Thoughts...?

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Catastrophe

Brazil's National Museum housed in the former imperial palace has been virtually destroyed by fire. The exact extent of the loss is not yet known but is likely to be of staggering proportions. The museum housed one of the most important collections in the Western Hemisphere. This is a cultural calamity likely to be felt around the world.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Ukrainian Autocephapy (updated)

Rumors and reports from sources of unknown reliability are circulating to the effect that the Ecumenical Patriarch may be about to do something very dangerous to the unity of the Church.

Update: The latest from the Russian Church's website seems to throw cold water on some of the alarmist rumors circulating this morning.

Poll: Trump takes a hit

 I would take this with a very large grain of salt as it seems an outlier and is inconsistent with other recent polls. That said, a newly published ABC News-Washington Post poll shows Trump taking a fairly big hit. According to the poll his support level has dropped into the mid 30% range and his negatives have jumped to around 60%. Worse, approximately half of those polled support impeachment proceedings. As this is only a single poll I would wait to see if it is backed by others. But if it is, that would be really bad news for Trump. Washington is populated by people who won't answer the call of nature without first taking a poll and Trump's very strong and sustained support among Republican voters has been a major factor in keeping the rank and file GOP Congress Critters (most of whom privately detest Trump) in line. If they think that GOP support for Trump is starting to crack two months out from a general election where the president is the issue, things could get ugly quick.

Details.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Pope Takes the 5th

In response to the direct accusations leveled by Archbishop Carlo Viganò, former Papal Nuncio to the United States, in an eleven page indictment alleging moral corruption in the Vatican including the Pope himself, Francis had this to say...

“I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment, I will not say a single word on this.”

Source.

See also Rod Dreher's blog for the latest details.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Ex-Papal Nuncio Accuses Pope of Complicity in McCarrick Coverup- Calls on Francis to Resign

A report that is being described as a bombshell is out in the National Catholic Register (the non-heretical NCR). Unfortunately the death of Senator McCain is likely to give an excuse to the mainstream (read "pro-Francis) press/media to bury this story.

Read the report here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Memory Eternal


The last Republican presidential candidate that I voted for. He was imperfect, and his interventionist foreign policy tendencies were dreadful. But he was the last of the old breed of Washington pols who had tremendous bipartisan stature and who was not afraid to buck his own party, or president, when he felt obliged to do so.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Poll: 70% Support "Medicare for All"

A vast majority — 70 percent — of Americans in a new poll supports "Medicare for all," also known as a single-payer health-care system.

The Reuters–Ipsos survey found 85 percent of Democrats said they support the policy along with 52 percent of Republicans.

Medicare for all has been in the headlines after a study by the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University found it would lead to $32.6 trillion increase in federal spending over a 10-year period.

The study’s author, Charles Blahous, wrote in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that even doubling taxes would not cover the bill for a single-payer health-care system.

The policy’s proponents, however, point to a note in the study showing that health-care costs would also decrease by $2 trillion by 2031 if it became law.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Schema-Archimandrite Gabriel (Bunge) : Does Orthodoxy Need Monastic Orders? (& etc.)

Schema-Archimandrite Gabriel (Bunge) is the abbot of the Monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross located near Lugano, Switzerland. He is a well-known patrologist, theologian and author of a number of books, which have been translated into numerous European languages. Fr. Gabriel converted to Orthodoxy in 2010. He addresses a number of issues related to monasticism and the prospects for restoration of communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the interview linked below.

Read the full interview here.

Venezuela is pegging its money to a cryptocurrency that’s considered a scam

Venezuela is doing something completely unprecedented. Some even say illegal.

As part of an attempt to stop skyrocketing inflation, the country is issuing a new fiat currency called the "sovereign bolivar," which will be backed by a cryptocurrency. But that cryptocurrency, called the "petro," does not trade, and Venezuela's own parliament says it's being illegally used to mortgage the nation's cash-strapped oil reserves.

"This is a smoke-and-mirrors operation typical of Venezuela — I'll believe it when I see it," said Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University and one of the world's leading experts on hyperinflation. "The problem with the petro is it's a scam, it doesn't even trade."

In February, President Nicolas Maduro unveiled the oil-backed "petro" digital currency as a means to raise cash amid an economic meltdown and economic sanctions. Maduro said each petro token, which is not in circulation yet, would be backed by a barrel of the state's national petroleum. He also said about 100 million petro tokens would be issued — estimated to be worth around $6 billion.

Crypto rating site ICOindex.com, which rates initial coin offerings, labeled the petro "scam status." The site evaluates coins based on their white papers, and said while petro promised to be backed up by oil resources, "the technology and mechanisms to do so are not adequately explained." Another site, ICObench, gives it a 1.6 out of 5 stars.

Read the rest here.

Socialism + fiat money + cryptocurrency= The trifecta of make believe economics.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Russian Church Reportedly Ready to Discuss Restoration of the Monarchy

I don't see this going anywhere for now. Putin is not likely to want anyone in even a ceremonial role that might hold enough moral authority to pose a threat to his rule.

Source.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Pope Francis Declares Capital Punishment Inadmissable in All Circumstances

It's all over the news, and the blogosphere. My views on this Pope have been firm for quite some time. Pope Francis is a heretic. And no, I am not referring to the various theological differences dividing Rome from Orthodoxy. He is essentially a liberal Protestant.

I have no idea how serious Catholics, who have been doing contortions to try and reconcile themselves with this papacy, are going to jam this particular square peg into the theological round hole. But I expect most will find a way. What alternative do they have? The Catholic concept of Doctrinal Development has been used to explain some crazy stuff before, but this is going to be on an altogether new level. To accept this is to effectively concede that there is no fundamental article of faith that cannot be revised or in this case, de facto reversed.

[Longtime readers will know that I am generally opposed to capital punishment. But my opposition is not based on Christian morality. It is pragmatic and utilitarian. And I do concede some rare exceptions.]

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

God, Sports and Martyrdom

There are quite a few people out there who seem to believe that He takes an interest in sports. This is not new. We know that as far back as the glory days of the Empire the Blues and Greens both called out for divine favor on behalf of their respective chariot teams in the Hippodrome. The Blues were generally supported by the upper crust of society and were associated with strict Orthodoxy. In contrast the Greens were seen as the team of the working class and were suspected of harboring at least some sympathies for Monophysitism.

Personally I have been rather skeptical of the idea. How could a just God allow something as abhorrent as the New York Yankees? See this earlier discussion by Dr. Hart. All of which said, I have been toying with another line of thinking. Perhaps God's intervention in sports is solely for the purpose of preparing the righteous for eventual martyrdom.

How else can one explain this...?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Study: ‘Medicare for all’ projected to cost $32.6 trillion over ten years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a study by a university-based libertarian policy center.

That’s trillion with a “T.”

The latest plan from the Vermont independent would require historic tax increases as government replaces what employers and consumers now pay for health care, according to the analysis being released Monday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. It would deliver significant savings on administration and drug costs, but increased demand for care would drive up spending, the analysis found.

Sanders’ plan builds on Medicare, the popular insurance program for seniors. All U.S. residents would be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be relegated to a minor role.

“Enacting something like ‘Medicare for all’ would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government,” said Charles Blahous, the study’s author. Blahous was a senior economic adviser to former President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration.

Responding to the study, Sanders took aim at the Mercatus Center, which receives funding from the conservative Koch brothers. Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch is on the center’s board.

“If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same,” Sanders said in a statement. “This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for all’ program.”

Sanders’ office has not done a cost analysis, a spokesman said. However, the Mercatus estimates are within the range of other cost projections for Sanders’ 2016 plan.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Oath and Consecration of the Newly Elected Bishop Methodius



The solemn affirmation of the Orthodox Faith by a newly elected bishop. I don't recall this ceremonial oath before. Perhaps it is unique to the Serbian Church. The English translation is imperfect but you can clearly get the gist of what is being said.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Great Scandal

I am extremely reluctant to go there, but it is the subject of discussion and debate in the religious blogosphere right now. That being the ongoing fallout from the Cardinal McCarrick affair. The most common questions are who knew what, and when did they know it? And as of right now very few people in positions of authority in the Catholic Church seem to want to address those questions. But the real questions, that are being studiously ignored in the mainstream press/media are, to what extent does the so called "lavender mafia" in the Catholic Church bear responsibility for this? How many other McCarricks are out there, and who is protecting them?

Those seeking a solid, no holds barred discussion of these questions should probably be reading Rod Dreher's blog. He has a lot of background where the subject is the sexual abuse scandals within the RCC and he has sources that either nobody else has or that others are choosing to ignore. A word of caution, this is a spiritually poisonous subject and some of the details are ugly. Proceed with caution.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Food for Thought


Services in Honor of the Royal Passion Bearers of Russia

More than 100,000 marched in a procession from the Church on the Blood in Yekaterinburg to the monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers outside the city. There followed a moleben in honor of the Royal Passion Bearers and a hierarchical liturgy that night.




Monday, July 16, 2018

Vigil for the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia



Butchered 100 years ago tonight by the Communists.

The Trump Putin Meeting

Some people are using the word "treason" in reference to Trump's behavior. That's an overstatement. But it was way beyond horrible. An American President just stood in front of the world and effectively took the word of a foreign dictator, the leader of an unfriendly power, over the intelligence and security services of his own country. And he did it after blowing off most of our country's friends and questioning our alliances. Oddly Trump reminds me of Tsar Peter III and his bizarre fawning relationship with Frederick II of Prussia. The man is without doubt the most incompetent booby ever to occupy the highest office of the republic.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

David Bentley Hart: The Yankees Are a Moral Abomination

I have had my occasional disagreements with Dr. Hart, but all is now forgiven...

Soberly considered, the New York Yankees and their fans present a moral dilemma. Our consciences, naturally abhorring everything abominable, tell us that such things simply ought not exist. And yet we also know that the evil they represent is one we would not really want eradicated. Somehow we depend on it, not because it appeals to some morbid subliminal fascination with the horrific in us, and not even because it teaches us about the world’s deep Darwinian laws, but because it answers to a psychological need.

By exciting in the rest of us that sweet cold loathing that only they induce — that strangely tender malice, at once so delicious and yet so purifying — the Yankees and their followers provide an emotional cleansing. They give us occasion for the discharge of a dark, dangerous passion, but one unburdened by guilt. The detestation that any rational soul spontaneously feels for the Yankees is so innocent, so uncontaminated by spite — just instinctive revulsion before something obscene, like the goat-headed god of the diabolists. And there are few luxuries more gorgeously nourishing than the license to hate with an unclouded conscience.

Yankees fans, of course, never having drunk from those healing springs, typically mistake this hatred for envy, and so for an inverted admiration. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, those of us whose teams hail from smaller markets sometimes fall prey to a slightly petulant, even bilious resentment of all that boughten glory — the exorbitant free-agent contracts, the legions of scouts, the colossal television revenues — but who can blame us? And how could we fail to be vexed by the fawning servility of a national media incapable of telling the beautiful from the meretricious?...

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Baptist claiming trademark on name/image of Elder Arsenie wields law against Orthodox Church

A bizarre legal battle is playing out in Romania right now, as the Romanian Orthodox Church is fighting for the right to use the name and image of Elder Arsenie (Boca), a faithful son of the Church, against a private individual who owns the right to use the elder’s name and image that were trademarked with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Elder Arsenie, who reposed in 1989, was one of the great Romanian spiritual fathers of Communist times, and is revered today as a saint, although he has yet to be canonized. Thousands go on pilgrimage annually to his grave at Prislop Moanstery in Silvașu de Sus, and images of him are seen as a blessing.

At least one such image, bought at Prislop Moanstery, began miraculously weeping in May 2015. A miracle is known to occur at his grave as well: Even though the temperatures there can be extremely low, often reaching -5 degrees, all of the flowers that have grown on his grave neither wither nor freeze and die by the extreme temperatures but instead remain in full blossom. From winter to summer, the elder’s grave remains full with blossomed, multi-colored fragrant flowers.

But now those beloved images are being confiscated by the police, Balkan Insight reports.

Police have been called to the monastery twice this year, and also to a shop in the western city of Arad in May. Daniel Gheorge, one of the two owners of the Fr. Arsenie trademark, complained to police that the monastery and shop were selling images of Fr. Arsenie without the proper license.

Through his lawyer, Gheorge has made more than 100 complaints against churches and stores.

Read the rest here.

The bond market is flashing a warning sign on the economy

The U.S. economy is more vibrant than it has been in years, yet the bond market insists a recession could be on the horizon.

Some market pros say that warning from the Treasury yield curve, which has long been viewed as reliable, is not as relevant as it once was because of the long years of central bank easing that has depressed interest rates and turned debt markets into far more placid arenas.

The curve has been getting flatter by the day — meaning short-end interest rates are rising faster than long-term rates, and they are growing closer together. A flattening curve is a warning about economic weakness ahead, but should the curve invert— where the short end yield, like the 2-year, is actually higher than the 10-year—that would be viewed as a very solid recession warning.

On Friday, the gap between the 2-year yield and 10-year yield narrowed to just 25.5 basis points, a new 11-year low.

“The bond market is telling us the [economic recovery] is going to end soon, so let’s price it in with certainty,” said George Goncalves, head of U.S. fixed income rate strategy at Nomura. “They might be right, but they’re too early to call the end of the business cycle. It’s more the fact that it’s flattened so low, and it’s that people are dismissive of this economic recovery…If you look at the facts, why are people jumping on this ‘recession yield curve’ bandwagon when they haven’t given the U.S. economy a chance to see how much it can run? It could show up two years later. Why price it in with such certainty?”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Democratic Socialism Is Democratic Doom

A political novice who calls herself a “democratic socialist” wins an unexpected Democratic Party primary victory, and now political taxonomists are racing to explain just what the term means. Here’s my definition: political hemlock for the Democratic Party.

I write, of course, of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the onetime Bernie Sanders organizer whose victory last month over long-term New York congressman and party boss Joe Crowley is being compared to Tea Partyer Dave Brat’s 2014 primary defeat of the Republican House majority leader, Eric Cantor — a sign of what’s to come, both for the Democratic Party and the country at large.

Well, maybe. It wasn’t long ago — March — that Marine reservist and former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb was feted as the Democratic future for winning a House seat in a Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump had carried by 20 points. The shared secret of Lamb’s and Ocasio-Cortez’s success is that they ran energetic campaigns, reflected the values of the people they sought to represent, and faced lackluster or entitled opponents.

Not every political contest is a battle of ideas. Sometimes it’s just a matter of showing up.

Still, it should be said: “Democratic socialism” is awful as a slogan and catastrophic as a policy. And “social democracy” — a term that better fits the belief of more ordinary liberals who want, say, Medicare for all — is a politically dying force. Democrats who aren’t yet sick of all their losing should feel free to embrace them both.

Start with democratic socialism. The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, believe in economies defined by state-owned enterprises and worker-owned cooperatives. Versions of this have been tried to varying degrees before: Israel in its first decades; post-independence India; Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s.

It always led to crisis: hyperinflation for Israel in 1980s; an I.M.F. bailout for India in 1991; a banking meltdown for Sweden in 1992. It’s usually a recipe for corruption: State-owned enterprises such as Pemex in Mexico or Eskom in South Africa are local bywords for graft and mismanagement. It frequently leads to dictatorship. Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist.

Read the rest here.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mexico — What Went Wrong?

Mexico gets a massive cash influx in remittances, American corporations get cheap labor, Democrats get voters . . .

Mexico in just a few days could elect one of its more anti-American figures in recent memory, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Obrador has often advanced the idea that a strangely aggrieved Mexico has the right to monitor the status of its citizens living illegally in the United States. Lately, he trumped that notion of entitlement by assuring fellow Mexicans that they have a “human right” to enter the United States as they please. For Obrador, this is an innate privilege that he promised “we will defend” — without offering any clarification on the meaning of “defend” other than to render meaningless the historic notion of borders and sovereignty.

Obrador went on to urge his fellow Mexicans to “leave their towns and find a life in the United States.” He has naturally developed such a mindset because he assumes as normal what has become, by any fair standard, a historically abnormal relationship.

Obrador is determined to perpetuate, if not enhance, the asymmetry. In the age of Trump, Obrador also reasons that the furor and hysteria of the American media toward the president represents a majority and a domestic grassroots pushback against the Trump administration — apparently because of Trump’s “restrictionist” view of enforcing existing immigration law. Polls, however, suggest otherwise, despite their notorious embedded anti-Trump bias.

Mexico, the Aggressor

Facts are stubborn and reveal Mexico, not the United States, as a de facto aggressor and belligerent on many fronts. Mexico runs a NAFTA-protected $70 billion trade surplus with the U.S., larger than that of any other single American trade partner (including Japan and Germany) except China. The architects of NAFTA long ago assured Americans that such a trade war would not break out, or that we should not worry over trade imbalances, given the desirability of outsourcing to take advantage of Mexico’s cheaper labor costs.

A supposedly affluent Mexico was supposed to achieve near parity with the U.S., as immigration and trade soon neutralized. Despite Mexico’s economic growth, no such symmetry has followed NAFTA. What did, however, 34 years later, was the establishment of a dysfunctional Mexican state, whose drug cartels all but run the country on the basis of their enormous profits from unfettered dope-running and human-trafficking into the United States. NAFTA certainly did not make Mexico a safer, kinder, and gentler nation.

In addition, Mexican citizens who enter and reside as illegal immigrants in the U.S. are mostly responsible for sending an approximate $30 billion in remittances home to Mexico. That sum has now surpassed oil and tourism as the largest source of Mexican foreign exchange. That huge cash influx is the concrete reality behind Obrador’s otherwise unhinged rhetoric about exercising veto power over U.S. immigration law.

What is also unsaid is that many of the millions of Mexican expatriates in the United States who send remittances home to Mexico are themselves beneficiaries of some sort of U.S. federal, state, or local support that allows them to free up cash to send back to Mexico.

When Obrador urges his fellow citizens to abandon their country and head illegally into the United States, his primary concern is not their general welfare and futures. He seems quite unconcerned that those who send home remittances live in poverty in the United States and seek offsetting subsidies from the U.S. government to find enough disposable income to save the Mexican government from its mostly corrupt self.

Why the U.S. government does not tax remittances and why it does not prohibit foreign nationals on public assistance from sending cash out of the country are some of the stranger phenomena of the entire strange illegal-immigration matrix.

Read the rest here.

On a related note; I talked about this back in 2011. You can read that blog post here.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cardinal Meuller hits one out of the park

In an exclusive CWR interview, the former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith discusses tensions over the proposed reception of Holy Communion by Protestants, continued conflicts over the Church’s teaching about ordination, and homosexuality and ideology.

“We are experiencing conversion to the world, instead of to God”

HT: Dr. Tighe