Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What the Hapsburg Empire Got Right

...While few people were willing to stand up for the old empire after four years of world war, a century later scholars are rethinking its legacy, eager to assert its multifaceted attributes and surprisingly progressive institutions. Stretching from today’s western Ukraine to Switzerland and from the Czech Republic’s northern border with Germany down Croatia’s Adriatic coast, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy had no internal borders, one currency, two parliaments (in Vienna and Budapest), 11 officially recognized peoples/languages and almost as many religions, including Yiddish-speaking Jews, Bosnian Muslims and a variety of Orthodox Christians and Protestants to complement its Catholic majority. Formed and reformed through six centuries of feudal alliances, dynastic marriages, wars and Great Power bargains, the Hapsburg Empire was on its way to becoming a modern multinational state by the late 19th century. The army accommodated linguistic diversity in its regiments, schooling was available in different languages, and the bureaucracy was multilingual.

Although institutional changes for more political inclusivity and democracy moved slowly in the conservative monarchy, by 1907 the Austrian Parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, and a participatory public sphere was thriving. Hapsburg citizens were hardly living and working in isolated ethno-national enclaves. To this day, the turn-of-the-century architecture of train stations and other public buildings attests both to the population’s mobility and to the vast empire’s economic vitality. The similar layout of Central European cities is another visual reminder of a shared past.

The “outdated” old monarchy also produced a remarkably rich and innovative cultural life. In 1900, its multiethnic capital, Vienna, the world’s sixth-largest city, was home to such international luminaries as the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, the composer Gustav Mahler, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the painter Gustav Klimt, the Nobel Prize-winning peace activist Bertha von Suttner, the Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, the architect Otto Wagner, the feminist/freethinker Rosa Mayreder and the writers Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler.

Read the rest here

Monday, September 09, 2019

Dr. A.B. Mohler: Can Christians Use Birth Control?

The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age–and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm.

Most evangelical Protestants greeted the advent of modern birth control technologies with applause and relief. Lacking any substantial theology of marriage, sex, or the family, evangelicals welcomed the development of “The Pill” much as the world celebrated the discovery of penicillin — as one more milestone in the inevitable march of human progress, and the conquest of nature.

At the same time, evangelicals overcame their traditional reticence in matters of sexuality, and produced a growth industry in books, seminars, and even sermon series celebrating sexual ecstasy as one of God’s blessings to married Christians. Once reluctant to admit the very existence of sexuality, evangelicals emerged from the 1960s ready to dish out the latest sexual advice without blushing. As one of the best-selling evangelical sex manuals proclaims, marital sex is Intended for Pleasure. Many evangelicals seem to have forgotten that it was intended for something else as well.

For many evangelical Christians, birth control has been an issue of concern only for Catholics. When Pope Paul VI released his famous encyclical outlawing artificial birth control, Humanae Vitae, most evangelicals responded with disregard — perhaps thankful that evangelicals had no pope who could hand down a similar edict. Evangelical couples became devoted users of birth control technologies ranging from the Pill to barrier methods and Intrauterine Devices [IUDs]. That is all changing, and a new generation of evangelical couples is asking new questions.

A growing number of evangelicals are rethinking the issue of birth control–and facing the hard questions posed by reproductive technologies. Several developments contributed to this reconsideration, but the most important of these is the abortion revolution. The early evangelical response to legalized abortion was woefully inadequate. Some of the largest evangelical denominations at first accepted at least some version of abortion on demand.

Read the rest here.

[Dr. Mohler is an ordained minister and President of the Southern Baptist Convention.]

The traditional teaching of the Orthodox  Church on ABC is... no. In fact the Church generally will not marry those who do not want, or who are not ready for a family. In recent years there has been some movement towards a very limited tolerance based on economy (oikonomia) for specific situations such as when a family already has as many children as they can support and/or take care of or where serious health risks may attend pregnancy. Though even then the Church teaches that the ideal response is sexual abstinence. But acknowledging the reality that not all couples can live a life of complete continence this concession is sometimes made. Usually it must be discussed with your spiritual father in confession. When ABC is used it must never be abortificiant or involve self mutilation. This generally places the burden on the husband.

Unfortunately, and especially in the West, some of the Orthodox jurisdictions have in practice become quite lax on this point. And it must be admitted that among the laity, respect for the traditional moral teaching of the Church is generally no better than among other Christian denominations including Roman Catholicism which is even stricter and admits no exception at all. Which is to say that it is widely ignored.

Real US debt levels could be a shocking 2,000% of GDP

  • Total US debt including all forms of government, state, local, financial and entitlement liabilities comes close to 2,000% of GDP, according to AB Bernstein.
  • The biggest potential load comes from entitlements, but is being pressured from rising levels of federal government debt as well.
  • The warnings about potential debt hazards come as the total federal debt outstanding has surged to $22.5 trillion.
  • A debt reform advocate says now is the time for the U.S. to tackle the issue, before recession hits.
Read the details here.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Brexit and Boris Johnson

For those not keeping up on the news from the UK, here is the latest. Three years after the British people voted to leave the EU, Brexit is on life support. After Theresa May finally resigned and Boris Johnson won the Conservative leadership contest it looked like Britain was at along last going to exit the EU at the end of October. But the opponents of Brexit who have been plotting to obstruct, and ultimately kill it, have finally won what looks like the decisive battle. With the aid of about twenty Tory MP's who defied a three line whip, the remainers were able to strip the government of power over Brexit and then passed a law over the government's objection ordering it to seek yet another delay in Brexit. At this point that may require revoking article 50. 

In response, Johnson quite rightly stripped the rebel MPs of the whip, effectively expelling them from the party. But he now finds himself the head of a minority government, humiliated by the Commons and deprived of all authority to carry out the mandate of the British people. Indeed, the government stands compelled by law to act in a manner completely contrary to its stated policy and the democratically expressed will of the nation.

This, it must not do.

The only honorable course is for the government to resign. He should announce his refusal to accede and lead the Conservative party into opposition. On Monday morning he should go to the Queen and surrender his seals office advising Her Majesty to invite Mr. Corbyn to form a government.

Those individuals and political parties who have orchestrated this premeditated and calculated attack on British democracy should be required to bear full responsibility for it. And in the next general election this should be the sole issue placed before the people. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

An Orthodox Monk on the Modern Catholic Church: “Busy Dissolving All Memory of the Past”

Read it here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

This is not intended as a polemical post and I would encourage readers to approach it as a reflection on how the Orthodox East views the current crisis in the Western Church. Some of what is written may cause some discomfort, but setting aside the very real doctrinal differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, I suspect that many Catholics will find themselves in agreement (perhaps reluctantly) with some of the observations made.

I think the comments at the linked website are worth reading. A few are unfortunate, but many make good points.

Saturday, August 31, 2019


It's a little past 2AM and I made some phone calls and found a Shell station that just got an emergency shipment in. I now have enough to get me to the Georgia state line or very close.

Dorian... boo hiss. 

(Update) Well that looks like a waste of a good night's sleep. Prayers for those up north now in the cross hairs.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Ray Dalio: The Three Big Issues and the 1930s Analogue

Not going to try and excerpt this one. For those with an interest in economics, it is an interesting read.

Read it here.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Sultan of Pranks and 'Bunga Bunga'

And now for something a little lighter...

Julia Yost: Catholic-haters have just convicted an innocent man

By a 2-to-1 vote, an Australian appellate court this week dismissed George Cardinal Pell’s appeal of his conviction on five counts of “historic” child sexual abuse. For Pell’s supporters, the decision can hardly be surprising. Given the way things had gone, a just outcome would have come as a shock.

Prosecutors accused Pell of surprising two choirboys who were guzzling communion wine in the sacristy of the Melbourne cathedral immediately after Mass one Sunday in 1996. The cardinal was charged with forcing the boys to fellate him while he was still vested in archbishop’s robes.

The allegations were utterly implausible — for several reasons well-established by the defense at trial.

The cathedral’s communion wine was kept locked in a safe, for starters, and Pell couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without his absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened. Likewise, the choirboys couldn’t have left the post-Mass proceedings without their absence being noticed; witnesses attested this never happened, either.

Plus, the sacristy would have been bustling with activity. As witnesses testified, Pell was never alone in the cathedral while vested for Mass but always accompanied by at least one assistant. The security arrangements and layout of the cathedral, and the respective locations of the cardinal and the choir, would have made it impossible for the abuse to occur as alleged. Nor is it physically possible to expose one’s genitals while vested in an archbishop’s robes.

Before he died in 2014, one of the two boys denied that he had “ever been interfered with or touched up” — by anyone. All this led 10 out of 12 jurors at Pell’s first trial to vote to acquit. Yet at the retrial, the jurors ignored the enormous weight of exculpatory evidence and voted in December to convict him amid a climate of media-driven anti-Catholic hysteria.

As the dissenting appellate judge was to conclude, the sole accuser’s wholly uncorroborated testimony “contained discrepancies, displayed inadequacies and otherwise lacked probative value.” Oh, well.

Read the rest here.

As I stated in my earlier post on this subject, I'm not sufficiently familiar with all of the evidence to express an informed opinion. But an awful lot of people whose judgement I respect have come down hard on this case.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Comment moderation is on

Sorry for any inconvenience, but while I am truly sympathetic to the unique trials of his existence, the wave of comments from Jerome the Vampire were not germane to the topics of the various threads he posted on. Hopefully this will just be a temporary speed bump. However, if you should notice that I am suddenly only posting at night...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

For the record...

Cardinal Pell's conviction has been upheld on appeal. I am not sufficiently familiar with the details of the case to express an informed opinion. However, a number of people that I respect have grave misgivings about the matter.

Brexit Secretary signs order to scrap 1972 Brussels Act - ending all EU law in the UK

The 1972 Act is the vehicle that sees regulations flow into UK law directly from the EU’s lawmaking bodies in Brussels.
The announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning lawmaking powers from Brussels to the UK. We are taking back control of our laws, as the public voted for in 2016.
The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 will take effect when Britain formally leaves the EU on October 31.
Speaking after signing the legislation that will crystallise in law the upcoming repeal of the ECA, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Steve Barclay said:
This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back - we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances - delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.
The votes of 17.4 million people deciding to leave the EU is the greatest democratic mandate ever given to any UK Government. Politicians cannot choose which public votes they wish to respect. Parliament has already voted to leave on 31 October. The signing of this legislation ensures that the EU Withdrawal Act will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day.
The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into UK law for decades, and any government serious about leaving on October 31 should show their commitment to repealing it.
That is what we are doing by setting in motion that repeal. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Kamala Harris Promises To 'Disarm Violent Hate' by Seizing Guns From Bigots

Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, says that if elected she will push legislation that would authorize federal courts to issue gun confiscation orders against people who express opinions that may indicate an intent to commit a hate crime. These "domestic terrorism prevention orders" would "temporarily restrict a person's access to guns if they exhibit clear evidence of dangerousness," including "violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos."

Harris' plan to "disarm violent hate" is pretty vague, so it's hard to say whether it would be consistent with the First Amendment. If the bill she imagines would merely create a federal "red flag" law focused on a subset of people deemed a threat to others, that would be bad enough, since these laws generally give short shrift to due process. But her description of the problem she is trying to address suggests that constitutionally protected speech might by itself be enough to suspend someone's Second Amendment rights.

"From El Paso to the Tree of Life Synagogue, and from Poway to Mother Emanuel Church," her campaign website says, "one thing is clear: Guns are the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes….Whether it's violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos, signs of impending violence are often evident before tragedy strikes." While that may be true in retrospect, it does not mean that all racists, nativists, white supremacists, or anti-Semites who express their views online, or even a significant percentage of them, are bent on mass murder.

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Danger: The Greek Church may be preparing to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics

While the Orthodox Church of Greece has yet to make any official decision regarding the Constantinople-created “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), new information indicates that that the hierarchs are strongly considering recognizing the schismatic structure. 

Moreover, Constantinople’s continuing pressure could lead to a schism among the 20 ruling monasteries of Mt. Athos. 

The OCU was created in December and granted a tomos of autocephaly by Constantinople in January, but has thus far failed to achieve recognition by any Church other than Constantinople. Several branches of Orthodoxy, including the Serbian Church, the Polish Church, and the Orthodox Church in America have rejected and explicitly referred to the OCU as schismatics. Several others have expressed serious concerns and called for a pan-Orthodox council to resolve the ongoing issue. 

Certain hierarchs of the Greek Church have effectively recognized the OCU for themselves: Several have already concelebrated with representatives of the OCU, and an archimandrite from the Metropolis of Demetrias and Almyros was even released to become a “bishop” in the OCU. There have been no reports of any of these hierarchs being reprimanded or sanctioned by the Greek Synod in any way. 

However, the most influential voice in the Greek Church in favor of recognizing the OCU, has been His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, an internationally-recognized theologian. Met. Hierotheos has not served with the OCU, but has written several essays detailing his view of the prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and arguing that the Greek Church (and, in fact, no Local Church) has no right to object to what Constantinople has done. The OCU must be accepted, he writes, until a pan-Orthodox council can take up the matter. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

California To Become Yugoslavia

It is hardly a controversial opinion to state that the United States is disintegrating. To be more precise: the ties that bind us together as Americans are fraying, and even dissolving. I don’t believe that this is going to result in the political disintegration of America, as in the Civil War, but I could be wrong about that. The forces of disintegration grow stronger, and there are no counterforces of any potency. The media love to bang on about how Donald Trump is dividing the country by practicing racial politics, and they’re not entirely wrong about that. But I submit to you that nothing Donald Trump says will have remotely the impact that the State of California is about to have through revising its public education curriculum to fill it with Social Justice Warrior content, particularly on race.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
In actions that would affect more than 6.5 million California students, state lawmakers are poised to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement in high school and at Cal State universities, raising the stakes for a team of educators drafting the model curriculum, those who are arguing for changes to it, and also for critics — who see an academic field dominated by one-sided, insular political correctness and separatism.
The high school requirement — the first such in the nation, according to a legislative analysis — appears to have broad backing among Sacramento lawmakers and beyond. A separate bill, mandating an ethnic studies class for every Cal State student, has drawn a mixed reaction at campuses. Although there is wide support for ethnic studies courses, some Cal State faculty and administrators strongly oppose a state requirement. The public’s chance to comment on the model curriculum closes Thursday.
“California is committed to getting this work right,” Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the state Board of Education, said in a letter to the Los Angeles Times. “We will not accept a curriculum that fails to address difficult issues in a way that promotes open-mindedness and independent thought — skills our students need to understand vital societal and civic forces.”
At its core, supporters say, ethnic studies classes teach students how to think critically about the world around them, “tell their own stories,” develop “a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and inclusion” and engage “socially and politically” to eradicate bigotry, hate and racism. This description, from the draft of the model curriculum, is meant to guide California K-12 educators in creating coursework whether or not the new graduation requirement becomes law.
Among those who say the proposed curriculum falls short of its lofty goals is Williamson M. Evers, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution , based at Stanford.
“Instead of an objective account of the history of ethnic groups and their current situation, this is a biased portrait emphasizing suffering and victimization, serving as a kind of road map to create ideological activists based on racial identity,” Evers said. “Will you be graded on having the politically correct answers?”
Among other things, Evers objects to the association of capitalism with forms of oppression. He also is put off by the academic language that has grown up around the field, which employs such terms as “herstory” and “hxrstory” to replace “history.”
The curriculum’s supporters don’t deny that it’s politicized:

Read the rest here.

Report: OCA to go under Constantinople (dubious)

Details here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

This is so implausible that I had to check to see if it wasn't April 1st on some obscure calendar. Alas not. That said, I am highly dubious and would encourage this rumor be taken with a very large grain of salt pending further development.

There are far too many reasons why this is unlikely to happen. The history of the relationship between the OCA and the EP has been chilly... at best. The OCA has strong historical, cultural and canonical ties with the Russian Church. Given the current schism between Moscow and Constantinople, such an act might well end in a break in communion with the OCA's mother church. Indeed the OCA would almost certainly have to recognize a schismatic entity in Ukraine. (That would have me packing my jurisdictional bags and heading for the door.) A huge percentage of the OCA's membership is of Russian decent. I don't think they would put up with such a move. And lastly the idea that the OCA has been engaged in secret negotiations of this sort is astonishing at the very least. If true, I think it would infuriate both the rank and file clergy as well as the laity.

For these and so many other reasons, this strikes me as simply incredible in the classical sense of the word.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez May be in Trouble

A list of political donors to AOC's reelection campaign show almost none from within her own district. Only ten(!) residents of her district have been named in required FEC filings. It needs to be noted that the FEC only requires donations of $200 and up to be listed, but this is still a shocking report.

In my view this represents her failure to remember Tip O'Neil's famous maxim that "all politics is local." While the self proclaimed socialist Congresswoman has become the darling of the hard left, and standing between her and a television news camera has been reportedly dangerous to one's health, there remains a serious question. What has she done for the people of her district? Aside from saving them from the horror of thousands of good paying jobs that Amazon was going bring, I can't think of anything.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Trump may have just blinked in China trade war

  • Some influential voices on Wall Street are saying Trump blinked in the latest exchange with China and showed just how much pain the U.S. could tolerate. China may use that to its advantage.
  • “Tell me why Xi should not continue to wait out The World’s Greatest Negotiator, who keeps ‘dealing’ with himself?” says Jim Chanos, founder and managing Partner of Kynikos Associates.
  • Markets rallied on the announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative office that certain items were being removed from the new China tariff list and others would be delayed until mid-December.

Trump's decision to stand up to China's abusive trade practices is one of a handful of subjects where I have supported him. But there have always been three serious weaknesses. First, although both the US and China have significant national debts, China's is less than half that of the US as a percentage of GDP. Secondly Xi does not have to face reelection by the people of the People's Republic. Trump does have to face reelection and if the economy tanks it would seriously damage his prospects. And lastly there is Trump's temperament which is mercurial on a good day.

Xi understands all of this and has no reason to rush into a deal that would be disadvantageous to China when he can afford to sit back and wait to see if November 2020 brings some improvement in the political landscape.

Chinese troops reported massing on the border of Hong Kong

The only thing surprising here is that Bejing has let things go for as long as they have.
Chinese propaganda outlets warned on Tuesday that protesters in Hong Kong are “asking for self-destruction,” as they released a video showing military vehicles amassing near the border of the city.

Meanwhile, the city’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, told the news media on Tuesday that “lawbreaking activities in the name of freedom” were damaging the rule of law and that the Asian financial hub’s recovery from anti-government protests could take a long time.

Her comments came after Beijing said widespread anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous city showed “sprouts of terrorism,” and such violence must be severely punished, “without leniency, without mercy.”

Hong Kong’s airport reopened Tuesday early morning after airport authorities canceled all flights on Monday, blaming demonstrators’ disruption to regular operations. Another sit-in is expected to take place at the airport, a major global hub, on Tuesday.

Despite that reopening, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific said it had cancelled over 200 flights to and out of the airport for the day, according to its website.

The protest at the airport, while disruptive, was largely peaceful. That’s in contrast to Sunday night, where protesters appeared to have thrown Molotov cocktails at police stations around the city and dozens of protesters were arrested.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein and the shadow of 1963

Not since Jack Ruby gunned down Lee H. Oswald has there been a death so likely to fuel conspiracy theories.

While I can understand the explosion of conspiracy theories over this, my gut says that Occam's razor applies. It is far more likely that one or more people dropped the ball and Epstein was able to kill himself. But in situations like this, truth and facts quickly become meaningless. There is a certain percentage of the population with a predisposition to conspiracy theorism who have long since decamped to their own "24" alternate reality, and they aren't coming home. But when things happen that look so bloody awful, it can push otherwise reasonable people into that dark alternative universe, at least when dealing with the given subject. The murder of President Kennedy being a prime example.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

France is Sinking into Chaos and Authoritarianism

  • President Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand... from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.
  • In June, the French parliament passed another law, severely punishing anyone who says or writes something that might contain "hate speech". The law is so vague that an American legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, felt compelled to react. "France", he wrote, "has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech".
  • The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public's discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change.
  • "The West no longer knows what it is, because it does not know and does not want to know what shaped it, what constituted it, what it was and what it is. (...) This self-asphyxiation leads naturally to a decadence that opens the way to new barbaric civilizations." — Cardinal Robert Sarah, in Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse ("The Evening Comes, and already the Light Darkens").

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 02, 2019

For only the second time in her life...

The elder of my two sisters has bought a car, a 2019 Honda Civic. The last time was 1990. Yes, she paid cash both times.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Indian Parliament Outlaws Triple Talaq

India's Parliament yesterday gave final passage to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 (full text) (bill summary). The bill now goes to the President for his assent. The new law outlaws "triple talaq", the procedure under which a Muslim husband divorces his wife by uttering the word "talaq" three times to her.  The law makes talaq (including in written and electronic form) illegal and provides for a fine and up to three years in prison for anyone declaring talaq. It also allows award of child custody and subsistence to a wife against whom talaq has been invoked. The bill replaces a presidential Ordinance issued earlier this year.  In 2017, India's Supreme Court held that triple talaq is invalid and ordered the government to consider appropriate legislation on the mater. Rediff and Reuters report on the bill.

From Religion Clause

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Filioque (again)

FTR, the latest defense of the Filioque coupled with a call for the Orthodox to "come home" can be found here. Please leave any comments there.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Boris Johnson's First Appearance in the Commons as PM

I think he held up well in the more than 2.5 hours of questions and commentary. And yes, I did get the feeling that he was already campaigning in the next general election.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Quote of the day...

In their childish and vain attempt to attract the people, the modern clergy give socialist programs the function of being schemes for putting the Beatitudes into effect.

The trick behind it consists in reducing to a collective structure external to the individual an ethical behavior that, unless it is individual and internal, is nothing.

The modern clergy preach, in other words, that there is a social reform capable of wiping out the consequences of sin.

From which one can deduce the pointlessness of redemption through Christ.

- Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Russia's Total Gold Reserves Top $100 Billion As Central Bank Adds Another 600K Ounces In June

(Kitco News) - Russia’s gold reserves topped the $100 billion mark in July as gold prices rose and the country’s central bank continued to buy the yellow metal, according to the bank’s latest press release.

The Russian central bank bought another 597,000 ounces or 18.67 tonnes of gold in June, which put the total gold holdings at 2,208 tonnes as of July 1 ?r $100.3 billion, the Russian central bank said in the latest data release.

At the time of writing, August Comex gold futures were trading at $1,417.10, down 0.69% on the day.
Moscow has been actively buying up gold this year, adding more than 96 tonnes since the beginning of 2019.


Johnson takes the helm

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have sparked numerous comparisons, including their choice of barbers.

Boris Johnson has been appointed Prime Minister of the UK. A man who is almost as controversial within his party as he is outside of it, inherits one of the thinnest parliamentary majorities in modern British history. His first act in office appears to be to replace around two thirds of the cabinet. In fairness, at least five ministers announced they were unwilling to serve under him. But his appointments strongly suggest most of those would have been replaced in any event. In this Johnson seems to have forgotten one of Churchill's maxims about political rivals. He often said he preferred them in the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in.

Having vowed that Britain will leave the EU on 31 October come hell or high water and refusing to rule out a no deal Brexit, it remains to be seen how this will happen when it is clear that the Commons is generally opposed to a no deal departure. Given where things are, my guess is that Boris will steam ahead at full speed, adopt a very tough line with the EU, who will in turn tell him very politely where to get off. He will then place a no deal Brexit before the House which will in turn vote it down.

I see Johnson as a placeholder who does not enjoy the full support of his own party. The EU knows this and they know that they have little to fear by defying Britain at the moment. The Tories are bitterly divided and if Johnson's government falls over this issue I don't see anyone who could succeed him with the solid support of such a fractured party, in such a fractured House. The only solution, one that neither the Tories nor Labour really want, is another general election. Both of the two main parties are divided by Brexit with only the Liberal Democrats united in their unequivocal pro Remain stand. (We shall ignore for the moment the SNP, fiercely opposed to the breakup of the European Union, while fiercely fighting for the breakup of the British Union.)

All the same, with Parliament effectively deadlocked on the only issue that anyone has been talking about for the last three years, a general election seems inevitable. My guess is early Fall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Catholic Case for Communism

“It is when the Communists are good that they are dangerous.”

That is how Dorothy Day begins an article in America, published just before the launch of the Catholic Worker on May Day in 1933. In contrast to the reactions of many Catholics of the time, Day painted a sympathetic, if critical view of the communists she encountered in Depression-era New York City. Her deep personalism allowed her to see the human stories through the ideological struggle; and yet she concluded that Catholicism and communism were not only incompatible, but mutual threats. A whole Cold War has passed since her reflection, and a few clarifying notes are now worthwhile.

Communists are attracted to communism by their goodness, Day argued, that unerasable quality of the good that can be found within and outside the church alike, woven into our very nature. It might have been an easier thing to say back in 1933, when American communists were well known to the general public for putting their lives on the line to support striking workers, but it was also the kind of thing that could land you in a lot of trouble, not least in the Catholic Church.

By affirming the goodness that drives so many communists then and now, Day aimed to soften the perceptions of Catholics who were more comfortable with villainous caricatures of the communists of their era than with more challenging depictions of them as laborers for peace and economic justice. Most people who join communist parties and movements, Day rightly noted, are motivated not by some deep hatred toward God or frothing anti-theism, but by an aspiration for a world liberated from a political economy that demands vast exploitation of the many for the comfort of a few.

Read the rest here.
HT: Rorate Caeli

How long are orthodox Catholics going to put up with this crap? I am thinking it's time for the pitchforks and torches. I don't want to sound holier than thou because God knows we have our own problems. But rampant heresy at every (and I do mean every) level of the Church is not one of them. For all our problems we Orthodox have a long and glorious history of shouting "heresy!" at one another and breaking communion. Sometimes the reasons may look silly, but then I look at what's going on across the Tiber, and I am reminded that there are worse things than schism.

Russo-Sino joint military air exercises spark strong protests from Tokyo and Seoul

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - Russia carried out what it said was its first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region with China on Tuesday, a mission that triggered hundreds of warning shots, according to South Korean officials, and a strong protest from Japan.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ray Dalio: Paradigm Shifts

This is a longish read and may be somewhat dry for those not interested in economics and or investing. However, I believe it worth the time.

Read it here.

Quote of the day...

An elderly Chicago lady recently claimed, “If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would be ordaining women.”

To which I replied, “Jesus Christ is alive today, and he is not doing it.”

-Fr. Pat Reardon (via email)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Definitive Response to the “Female Priests” Issue

Even though I am an Orthodox Christian and not a Roman Catholic, I was very disappointed when I read Meg Catanzarita’s assertion that Jesus Christ would desire there to be “women priests.” I believe that, through the Holy Apostles, Jesus Christ had the entirety of the Christian faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). So, I too “cannot ’not’ respond.”

Her boasting of being educated in Catholic institutions from grade school to college does not prove her point. We have countless clergyman and scholars with far more impressive pedigrees that disagree with her. That does not make them right either. We can all enlist people with “educations” in support of “our” side, but this does not get to the heart of the matter: “What would Jesus do?,” as she asks.

Thankfully, we know what Jesus would do, because He is God and still speaks to us today in the Scriptures and the Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim 3:16). These Scriptures tell us that Church leaders must be able to hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught” (Titus 1:9). So, whatever the “correct” answer to the “women priests” question is, we cannot have one answer this year and another answer the next.

So, what is the answer? The Scriptures contain not a single example of a female priest. Instead, Saint Paul teaches that, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” within the Church (1 Tim 2:12). Whenever he gives requirements for priests and bishops, he is explicit that they must be men (1 Tim 3:1-2 and Tit 1:6-7). We know we are not misunderstanding Paul, because the entire ancient Church until recent times has always taught this, starting with Saint Clement of Rome. He is the Church’s third Pope and we still have a letter of his that reaffirms a male priesthood.

Those with novel new ideas like Catanzarita would have been condemned by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. He did not say vainly, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8).

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Plan Is Almost Done ...

...And bondholders are going to get screwed.

For the benefit of those w/o a subscription here is a summary of where things look to be heading.

* Pensioners are being treated as having first claim on the territory's resources, ahead of bond holders. This appears to contradict PR's constitution and laws.
* Under the current proposals, 61 percent of the retirees would keep receiving their full pensions and none will receive less than 91.5%.
* Bond holders will receive no more than 64 cents on the dollar. Many will receive less.
* The board intends to declare bonds sold in 2012 and 2014 unconstitutional and effectively null and void.
* Bonds issued before 2012 will be honored at 64 cents on the dollar.
* Those issued in 2012 would be offered only 45 cents on the dollar. And those issued in 2014 only 35 cents on the dollar in a take it, or leave it and get nothing settlement offer.
* Lawsuits are expected to challenge the basis for the settlement. But many bondholders are expected to take what they can, given that the recent Detroit bankruptcy essentially followed the same pattern of putting pensions ahead of bondholders.

Thoughts: If this goes through and survives the court challenges it's going to send a signal that municipal bonds are nowhere near as safe as hitherto believed. It will almost certainly encourage states in serious fiscal trouble like Illinois to try the same thing. And my guess is the bond market is going to have to recalibrate it's risk reward ratio for municipal bonds. All of which means that municipal bonds at all but the highest credit ratings, could take a hit in their market valuation. And that hit will also be felt by those seeking to borrow money who are suddenly going to find that their legal guarantees are being viewed with skepticism by potential lenders demanding higher yields for their paper.

Thank you

I deeply appreciate the messages of condolence posted on the blog and sent privately. As the period of mourning winds down I will be resuming blogging.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Memory Eternal!

My step sister Jan died this afternoon following a brief illness. There will be no blogging before the second half of July.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Prayers please

My step sister Jan was recently diagnosed with a grave illness. Over the weekend she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Her condition has been deteriorating rapidly. Jan is a Roman Catholic by conversion. Your prayers are deeply appreciated.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Roy Moore wants to run again for the US Senate

The ONLY man in the entire state of Alabama who could lose a Senate seat to a pro-abortion Democrat is looking for a re-match. I am pretty sure that the only people hoping Roy will throw his hat in the ring are every Democrat in the entire country and the full run of late night television comedians. Did I just repeat myself?  Even Don Jr. (not the brightest bulb on the tree) thinks it's time for Roy to "ride off into the sunset."


Morgan Stanley says economy is on ‘recession watch’ as bond market flashes warning

Wouldn't be surprised. After roughly nine years of economic expansion and the longest running bull market for which we have records... we are due. That said, the future is not predictable. And if we do in fact go into a recession, it may not be as extreme as the 2007-09 one. Still, for those who are worried about their investments, the best advice is to remain diversified across multiple asset classes, index where possible and be wary of over-weighting specific investments or asset classes. Given the crazy run up in stock prices over the last decade, I'd take a deep breath if my portfolio was stock heavy and consider rebalancing into more conservative assets.


Fearing Supreme Court Loss, New York Tries to Make Gun Case Vanish

WASHINGTON — A couple of weeks ago, the New York Police Department held an unusual public hearing. Its purpose was to make a Supreme Court case disappear.

In January, the court agreed to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a New York City gun regulation. The city, fearing a loss that would endanger gun control laws across the nation, responded by moving to change the regulation. The idea was to make the case moot.

The move required seeking comments from the public, in writing and at the hearing. Gun rights advocates were not happy.

“This law should not be changed,” Hallet Bruestle wrote in a comment submitted before the hearing. “Not because it is a good law; it is blatantly unconstitutional. No, it should not be changed since this is a clear tactic to try to moot the Scotus case that is specifically looking into this law.”

David Enlow made a similar point. “This is a very transparent attempt,” he wrote, “to move the goal post in the recent Supreme Court case.”

The regulation allows residents with so-called premises licenses to take their guns to one of seven shooting ranges in the city. But it prohibits them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns are unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition.

The city’s proposed changes, likely to take effect in a month or so, would remove those restrictions. Whether they would also end the case is another matter.

Until the Supreme Court agreed to hear the dispute, the city had defended the regulation vigorously and successfully, winning in two lower courts. In inviting public comments on the proposed changes, the Police Department said it continued to believe the regulation “furthers an important public-safety interest.”

Read the rest here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Liberal UMC Leaders: “We Cannot Affiliate” With Traditionalist United Methodists!

In a remarkably quick turn from the recent “unity, unity” rhetoric, a notable group of liberal United Methodists leaders, from Alaska to Florida to Germany, has declared in no uncertain terms that they “cannot” remain in the same church with Christians who support the traditional standards of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. And they are apparently not sure whether or not they can continue to tolerate the presence of Methodists who have not yet settled what they believe about matters related to homosexuality and transgenderism.

Read the rest here.

Francis urges Chinese Catholics to submit to state church (updated)

The Red Pope strikes again.

(Update) And then there is this. I am not a fan of Breitbart at all, but in this case I think they have done a much better job of noting the relevant message here than the mainstream press/media. Which once again, is studiously ignoring those occasions when the pope sounds like either a Unitarian Universalist, or just a babbling idiot.

Report: Greek Church released Archimandrite Epiphanius to schismatic Ukrainian Church

No official confirmation from the Greek church, but if true this would be a serious development. Allowing your clergy to be consecrated a bishop by another "church" would certainly be seen as a specie of formal recognition of that entity. To date no canonical Orthodox church, excepting the EP, has recognized the schismatic OCU.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

NPR Memo Instructs Writers How to Frame Abortion Debate

After reading a “guidance reminder” posted last week by NPR, it’s become even more obvious why those in favor of abortion and those opposed to it are increasingly at odds with one another.

Mark Memmott, supervising senior editor of standards and practices for NPR, put together the guide after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law the most stringently pro-life legislation in the country and not long after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill into law barring abortion after a heartbeat is detectable, which usually occurs around six weeks into pregnancy.

The style guide makes one thing abundantly, painstakingly clear: NPR writers are to go out of their way to make sure it never, ever sounds like the collection of cells inside a mother’s womb is a human life.

Perhaps the most absurd — and absurdly bias — rule in the NPR manual is the injunction against the word “unborn,” which journalists are to avoid like the plague, according to Memmott, because it “implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman.”

“They’re fetuses,” he lectured. “Incorrectly calling a fetus a ‘baby’ or ‘the unborn’ is part of the strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion.” (Just FYI: Even the Mayo Clinic refers to fetuses who have, according to Memmott, not yet turned into humans as babies.)

The moratorium on the sinister words can only be lifted “when referring to the title of the bill.” The fact he used the word “strategy” only to refer to those opposed to abortion should be telling, as if there’s a clandestine plan by pro-lifers, but those who support abortion are just trying to protect some inalienable right.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fr. Theodore Zisis on the Greek Church and the Situation in Ukraine

 For the first time, the Constantinople Church has found itself isolated from the other autocephalous Churches, due to its anti-canonical and anti-conciliar actions in granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics.

Thus, it itself has placed under doubt its accepted coordinating role as a unifying factor and driven its hitherto proven and effective ecclesiastical politics into complete failure. It all began with the incomplete, truncated representation of the Body of Christ at the pseudo-council in Kolymvari, Crete.

In our previous articles we noted the unavoidable danger arising for the Grecophone leaders of many Local Churches (Alexandrian, Jerusalem, Cypriot, Greek, and Albanian) of falling into the temptation of following ethnophytelistic criteria, supporting the Greek first-throne Church. This would in fact mean falling into the heresy of ethnophyletism, which was condemned by the Local Synod of Constantinople in 1872 due to the Bulgarian ethnophyletistic demands of the time.

Unfortunately, such criteria dominate amongst a significant part of the Grecophone clergy, theologians, and specialists in canon law who place patriotism and ethnic origins higher than the national integration of all Orthodox into one body of the Church of Christ, Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:11).1

Thus, it is clear as God’s day that the Constantinople Church’s interference in the Russian Orthodox Church’s jurisdictional territory, to which the Ukrainian Church has belonged for over three centuries since 1686 with total and uncontested recognition by all the Local Churches and even the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself (as scholarly research into the historical and sacred canonical aspect demonstrates), is anti-canonical.2 However, despite this fact, today we have a planned attempt by researchers to present a different picture that favors the supposedly existing jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch over the territory of Ukraine, and what is worse, a jurisdiction that supposedly allows it to independently grant autocephaly without the agreement of the entire body of the Church, expressed in a conciliar and pan-Orthodox manner.

This newly-proclaimed ecclesiology is trying to represent the Ecumenical Patriarch not as the “first among equals” (primus inter pares)—and thus expressing and accepting decisions on a par with others—but as the “first without equal” (primus sine paribus), ruling in the papal-monarchical manner. Its apotheosis is the Ecumenical Patriarch’s completely self-willed “restoration” of the Ukrainian schismatics without meeting the conditions stipulated by the sacred canons, namely public expression of repentance and their re-ordination or re-consecration.

In the case of the Ukrainian schismatics, even worse and unthinkable from the ecclesiological and pastoral point of view is that they are not returning to the bosom of the canonical Church that has existed for centuries, which is led by Metropolitan Onuphry, and from which they broke off. But Patriarch Bartholomew has instead created a parallel jurisdiction on the same territory and a new synod, and thus has become the initiator of a schism with painful consequences not only for Ukraine, but also for Universal Orthodoxy.

Read the rest here.


Kremlin Is Spending $43M to Renovate Imperial Mansion for Orthodox Patriarch, Media Reports

Friday, May 17, 2019

Disturbing reports from the Ecumenical Patriarchate

There have been rumors for years in the GOA (and the OCA). Unfortunately the attachment of some prominent clergy to certain vices, one in particular, now seems to have become the subject of open discussion and scandal within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

HT: Dr. Tighe

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Jad Ganem reflects on Constantinople's appointment of the new Greek primate in N. America

This past Saturday, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople elected Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, abbot of the Monastery of Chalki, as archbishop of Constantinople's Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America. This comes after accepting the resignation of Archbishop Demetrios, who had been elected to the position almost twenty years ago to succeed Archbishop Spiridon, who had been imposed on this archdiocese by Constantinople after the resignation of Archbishop Iakovos, and who resigned after disagreements and a crisis of trust between him and members of this archdiocese.

Metropolitan Elpidophoros' election confirms the information circulated by sources close to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in recent years, which indicated His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew's desire to see this metropolitan at the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople's largest and richest diocese.

What was noteworthy in this election, however, is the Synod of Constantinople's total inattention to the opinion of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council, which requested in an official letter following its recent meeting, that Patriarch Bartholomew:...
Read the rest here.

RIP Tim Conway

Quote of the day...

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.
-Freddie deBoer quoted here. This is well worth a read in it's entirety.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Jonathan Turley: Democrats showing contempt by holding William Barr in contempt

The House Judiciary Committee is voting to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and to secure a vote of the entire House of Representatives in order to send the matter to federal court. The problem is that the contempt action against Barr is long on action and short on contempt. Indeed, with a superficial charge, the House could seriously undermine its credibility in the ongoing conflicts with the White House. Congress is right on a number of complaints against the White House, including possible cases of contempt, but this is not one of them.

As someone who has represented the House of Representatives, my concern is that this one violates a legal version of the Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm.” This could do great harm, not to Barr, but to the House. It is the weakest possible case to bring against the administration, and likely to be an example of a bad case making bad law for the House.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) laid out the case for contempt. He raised three often repeated complaints against Barr in that he failed to release an unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller, allegedly lied twice to Congress, and refused to appear before the committee. Yet, notably, the only claim the committee seeks to put before a federal court is the redaction of the report. That seems rather curious since, if Barr lied or refused a subpoena as House leaders claim, it normally would be an easy case of contempt. The reason for this move is that House Democrats know both claims would not withstand even a cursory judicial review.

Read the rest here.

When local governments are run by greedy *bleeps*

The city of Dunedin, Florida, wants to foreclose on a private home because the owner, Jim Ficken, owes the city over $29,000 in fines. The crime for which he is threatened with home loss? Having his lawn grass be too tall (over 10 inches) for a period of eight weeks last summer. The city fined him $500 per day of violation, with no warning.

Ficken was out of town at the time, settling his mother's estate. Ficken hired a handyman to deal with his lawn while he tended to his dying mother and then to her estate, but in a cruel twist, the handyman also died during the Fickens' ordeal, leaving the lawn uncut.

Ficken is 69 years old and lives on a fixed income. He was unaware that he was racking up the daily fines, but cut his grass within two days of finally being informed by a city code inspector that there was a problem. In a sane world, Ficken's explanation for neglecting his lawn and the fact that he remedied the problem as soon as he learned of it, would seemingly resolve the issue. No harm, no fine.

But the Dunedin government is apparently not sane. Because Ficken was also cited for overly tall grass in 2015, the city—unbeknownst to Ficken—classified him as a "repeat violator." This classification doubled his daily fine from $250 to $500 and relieved the Code Enforcement Board of providing him notice. Because Ficken cannot afford the fines he didn't know he was accumulating, the city of Dunedin insists that it can now take his home to pay off his debt.

Read the rest here.

All of which reminds me of a stretch of old US Rt 301 that was a short cut for people driving south on I 95 and who wanted to cut over to I 75 heading towards south Florida. There were no less than four small towns that were infamous for their old fashioned speed traps. By which I am not referring to the honest cop parked on the side of the road with a radar gun looking for people going more than ten over the posted speed limit or driving like they were drunk. I am talking about towns with a population of maybe a thousand and a ten man police force solely dedicated to zero tolerance traffic enforcement on a stretch of highway, perhaps a couple of hundred feet, that happen to fall within their jurisdiction. People, especially those with out of state plates, were routinely pulled over for going 1 mph over the speed limit, which changed suddenly and without much warning.  It got so bad that AAA used to post giant billboard signs warning motorists of the danger ahead.

Eventually there was a formal investigation by a committee of the Florida state legislature over whether or not to strip these towns of their municipal charters. All of them were sanctioned and three were forced to disband their police departments.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

What's behind Trump's threat to reignite the Sino-American trade war?

The diplomatic cable from Beijing arrived in Washington late on Friday night, with systematic edits to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up months of negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, according to three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks.

The document was riddled with reversals by China that undermined core U.S. demands, the sources told Reuters.

In each of the seven chapters of the draft trade deal, China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war: theft of U.S. intellectual property and trade secrets; forced technology transfers; competition policy; access to financial services; and currency manipulation.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded in a tweet on Sunday vowing to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on Friday – timed to land in the middle of a scheduled visit by China’s Vice Premier Liu He to Washington to continue trade talks.

The stripping of binding legal language from the draft struck directly at the highest priority of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - who views changes to Chinese laws as essential to verifying compliance after years of what U.S. officials have called empty reform promises.

Lighthizer has pushed hard for an enforcement regime more like those used for punitive economic sanctions – such as those imposed on North Korea or Iran – than a typical trade deal.

“This undermines the core architecture of the deal,” said a Washington-based source with knowledge of the talks.

Read the rest here.

Although I have been a sharp critic of this president, his decision to take a hard line on trade with China has been one of the areas where I support him. China has been getting away with economic murder, not for years, but for decades. And successive administrations from both parties have allowed it to go on. Enough. No deal is better than another bad deal.

Drop the hammer Mr. President.

Administrative Hardball at the University of Tulsa

On April 11, the administration of the University of Tulsa shocked faculty, students, and alumni by announcing the elimination of 40 percent of the school’s academic programs. Undergraduate and graduate programs in theater, musical theater, dance, vocal and instrumental music, English, history, philosophy, religion, chemistry, French, German, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Latin, anthropology, mathematics, and many others were axed. The administration has eliminated all academic departments and dumped professors, now stripped of disciplinary protections and powers, into big new divisions, including one called “Humanities and Social Justice.”

Administrators at other colleges and universities have recently cut the liberal arts. But TU is the first top-100 research institution, and the first university with a ten-figure endowment—$1.1 billion, to be precise—to have done so. What is more, our administration did all this under a cloak of secrecy and without consulting faculty.

The restructuring appears, among other things, to be a hostile takeover of the university by some of Tulsa’s richest and most powerful corporate interests. The gory details, already well known to many who follow higher education, are available in my essay “Storm Clouds Over Tulsa” at City Journal. But what that essay doesn’t cover is the wholesale rejection of the ironically named “True Commitment” plan by faculty, students, and alumni, and the administration’s highly authoritarian countermeasures to this rejection.

After the restructuring bombshell exploded in a slick, highly orchestrated rollout on the morning of April 11, students and faculty moved to protest quickly and decisively. That evening, I wrote to about 50 faculty and 500 students and alumni inviting them to attend a meeting in the Department of Languages the following day, and I pasted into the email an unedited version of my City Journal article. When I arrived for the meeting, over 400 people were present. We moved into the old theater next door, and I found myself leading a meeting at which we formulated key strategies for resistance to the restructuring.

In the days that followed, students drafted a petition on Change.org (“Saving the Heart and Soul of the University of Tulsa”) that has 5,600 signatures to date, and formed a Facebook group with over 1,700 members that serves as a vital clearinghouse for information. The College of Law voted almost unanimously—but for one vote by the disgraced president of the Faculty Senate, who was forced to apologize when he said publicly that opponents of the restructuring can “go f*** themselves”—not to implement key features of the “True Commitment” plan next year. The College of Arts and Sciences voted 89-4 not to implement any part of it until it could be thoroughly reviewed by our faculty.

Alumni have papered the administration with heartfelt letters of protest, and produced TUplan.org: a clear and concise summary of what is being done to TU, why it matters, and why we must stop it. Sixteen national scholarly societies signed a public statement urging the administration to “reconsider and rescind” the restructuring.

Read the rest here.

I don't know too much of the background to this, but it sounds pretty brutal.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

For History Enthusiasts

A good overview of the USSR's role in the war and modern historical revisionism, up to and including the revival of the cult of Stalin in modern Russia.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Archbishop Demetrios Has Resigned


There have been rumors for years of financial shenanigans in the GOA. The business with the church building project at the 9-11 memorial site has been  something of a black eye. And now the Archdiocese’s flagship seminary appears to be in danger of losing their accreditation. So while not exactly unexpected, it will be interesting to see if this leads to some transparency.

Monday, April 29, 2019

500 churches in C of E still ban female priests

Apparently there are still some 500 CofE parishes that do not allow female clergy. However there is evidence that tolerance for those unable and/or unwilling to burn incense before the altar of the zeitgeist may be coming to an end.

See here.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Christ is risen!

Father Gagged, Found Guilty Of ‘Family Violence’ For Calling His Trans Daughter A ‘She’

Last week, Justice Francesca Marzari of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, declared a father guilty of “family violence” against his 14-year-old daughter on the sole basis that he had engaged in “expressions of rejection of [her] gender identity.” These “expressions” revolved entirely around his polite refusal to refer to his daughter as a boy in private, and his steady choice to affirm that she is a girl in public.

As previously reported, the BC Supreme Court ordered in February that 14-year-old Maxine* receive testosterone injections without parental consent. Accordingly, Maxine began regular injections at British Columbia (BC) Children’s Hospital over the course of the last two months.

Her father, Clark*, strongly objects to this treatment and immediately sought to reverse the decision in the BC Court of Appeal. Hoping to raise awareness of his case, Clark gave a number of interviews to media outlets, including The Federalist. In these interviews, he repeatedly referred to his daughter as a girl, stating to The Federalist that “she is a girl.  Her DNA will not change through all these experiments that they do.”

While many might take this to be an honest statement of biological fact, Marzari quoted it as a prime example of Clark’s “family violence of a public denial of [Maxine’s] gender identity.” Marzari convicted Clark of this violence, and issued a “protection order” preventing him from speaking to journalists or the public about his case.

While the main thrust of Marzari’s ruling focused on Clark’s public statements, Marzari also ordered that Clark be enjoined from “exposing” Maxine to any materials that might “question whether [her] gender identity is real or the treatments [she] seeks are in [her] best interests.” This order arose from the fact that, in mid-March, Clark invited his daughter to watch a video of a small-time Canadian conservative commentator with him.

The video contained a section discussing Maxine’s case, which she quickly recognized. She told her father she “did not want to watch the video, and went to [her] room.” This incident, according to Marzari, was a clear case of an “attempt to persuade [Maxine] to abandon treatment,” and, hence, of family violence.

Read the rest here.
See also this from Rod Dreher.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Our God is a Consuming Fire. Homily for Holy Thursday, on Repentance Before Communion

O my beloved and greatly-desired brethren who have gathered in the Holy Church of God, in order to serve the Living God in holiness and righteousness, and, with fear, to partake of the holy, most-pure, and immortal, awesome Mysteries of Christ: Hearken unto me who am lowly and unworthy. For it is not I who am speaking to you and instructing you; rather the grace of the Most-holy and Life-giving Spirit; for I speak not from myself, but as I have been instructed by the divine canons, and the God-bearing Fathers, as the Church received instruction from the divine Apostles who received their wisdom from God, so do I myself speak, who am lowly and least of all. I know not your works; I consider not that which you have begun; and so, as one who fears God, I give counsel to everyone among you, whether man or woman, whether great or small, to anyone of you that may be guilty of sin, convicted by your own counsels, that first you must repent and confess your sins, that you may dare, considering yourself unworthy, to approach and touch the Divine Fire Itself. For our God is a consuming Fire, and they, therefore, who with faith and fear draw near to the God and King and Judge of us all, shall burn and scorch their sins; and It shall enlighten and sanctify their souls. But It shall burn and scorch with shame, the souls and bodies of them that draw near with unbelief. Therefore, many among you are ill and sleep in sickness, that is, many are dying unconfessed and unrepentant. And furthermore, my brethren, I beseech you, and I say: no one that swears oaths, nor a perjurer, nor a liar, nor one that finds fault with others, nor a fornicator, nor an adulterer, nor a homosexual, nor a thief, nor a drunkard, nor a blasphemer, nor one that envies his brother, nor a murderer, nor a sorcerer, nor a magician, nor a charmer, nor an enchanter, nor a robber, nor a Manichean, shall, unconfessed and unprepared, approach, touch, or draw near the dread Mysteries of Christ, for it is terrible to fall into the hands of the Living God. For the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the joints and marrow and bones, and thoughts and hearts. See, therefore, my brethren, that no one approach, unrepentant or unprepared or unworthily, to partake of His dread and most-pure Mysteries. For He Himself saith: I am He, and there is no god besides me; I kill, and I make alive; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand; for I, Myself, am King forever: to Whom is due all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages, Amen.

- St. John Chrysostom

Monday, April 22, 2019

The left should resist the siren song of ‘modern monetary theory’

Over the past year, a new economic concept has moved to the center of the political debate, as economists, pundits and policymakers hold it up as the answer to our economic problems. Modern monetary theory, or MMT, supposedly explains how “We Can Pay for a Green New Deal,” as one of its leading advocates recently argued in HuffPost. “Here’s the good news,” wrote Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University, along with two co-authors. “Anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable.”

While Democrats and Republicans ask the “same tired questions” about the affordability of projects, Kelton and her co-authors argue that we can just open the spigot of the money supply by “printing” new currency (done with computer keystrokes these days, not a mechanical press), and so we can abandon the “obsession with trying to ‘pay for’ everything with new revenue or spending cuts.” This is the kind of answer advocates and policymakers across Washington are eager to hear: If it’s too hard to persuade politicians to increase taxes, that’s okay. There’s a technical fix.

This is a huge departure from the assumptions that govern our budget. The United States, MMT advocates say, should decouple spending decisions from taxing decisions. And while there is merit to certain MMT proposals, it’s a distraction from tackling our biggest economic challenge: inequality.

It would not be an overstatement to say that MMT hasn’t been well-received among many economists — and not just conservatives. Former treasury secretary Larry Summers called it “voodoo economics” in The Washington Post, suggesting that it offered the false promise of a “free lunch.” In a recent poll of about 50 elite economists by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, not a single one agreed with a central MMT claim: “Countries that borrow in their own currency can finance as much real government spending as they want by creating money.” MMT proponents have responded that their views are misunderstood by mainstream economists.

Read the rest here.

We currently live in a country without a fiscally sane political party. Republicans and Democrats are in a bipartisan rush to bankrupt the United States.

The most dangerous person in the world is the well intentioned fool, with power.

The Pope's View on Women

Rome April 21- The Pope, addressing the Union of Italian Catholic Women today showed strong opposition to some of their ambitions.

"Those who wish to make the woman the equal of man in all things," said his holiness, "and give her the same rights are assuredly in error. Women mixed up in the agitations of public life would be the ruin of the family and society. Woman should be the companion of man, and at the same time accepting his authority, an authority mitigated by love and nothing more."