Monday, March 30, 2020

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Federal Reserve Now Owns 15 Percent of the U.S. Treasury Market

According to the U.S. Treasury, as of February 29, 2020, there was $16.9 trillion in marketable U.S. Treasury securities outstanding. Of that amount, at the end of February, the Federal Reserve held $2.47 trillion or 14.6 percent – making it, by far, the largest single holder of U.S. Treasuries anywhere in the world.

By this past Friday, the Fed’s ownership of the Treasury market had increased to $3.12 trillion. It had grown by an unprecedented $650 billion in one month’s time. And on March 23, the Fed announced that it would buy unlimited amounts of both Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities “to support smooth market functioning.”

But exactly how can a so-called “free market” function smoothly if the country’s own central bank is cornering the market. Salomon Brothers paid a $290 million fine and came close to getting slapped with criminal charges by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1992 for manipulating prices in the Treasury market. And make no mistake about it, the Fed’s massive purchases are having a demonstrative impact on driving up prices in the Treasury market while driving down yields – meaning the income that determines if senior citizens in America can buy real groceries or have to live on one pot of soup for the week.

At the end of 2007, before the Wall Street crash in 2008, a senior citizen could invest $10,000 in a 10-year Treasury note and get $400 a year in income, or 4 percent. Today, that same $10,000 generates just 0.67 percent or $67. Seniors who were living on their Treasury income have experienced an 83 percent drop in income while food costs and pharmaceutical costs have soared.

If the Fed keeps up this pace of Treasury buying, it will own the entire Treasury market in about 22 months. If you look at the New York Fed’s list of the Treasury securities that are being submitted to it for sale by Wall Street’s trading houses versus the amounts the New York Fed is buying, you will see that Wall Street is puking up Treasuries in something akin to projectile vomiting.

This is clearly another one of those unanticipated consequences of a corporate-controlled Senate that passed the massive tax cut for corporations and the one percent in December 2017 and created a $1 trillion+ deficit as far out as the eye can see with no plan for who was going to buy all of the gargantuan amounts of Treasury debt that had to be issued as a result.

Because yields on Treasury securities have collapsed by 83 percent since the financial crash, investors, including risk-adverse senior citizens, have been driven into the stock market in order to capture the higher dividends paid on stocks. That’s also been great for the richest top 10 percent of Americans who own the vast majority of the stock market.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Stock Market Bounces (and a personal note)


So the stock market just had it's best three day run since 1931. Yep, that's impressive. And I honestly hope that this is the first sign of confidence in a general economic recovery. But something worth remembering is that the early 30's on Wall Street became infamous for bear market rallies. These wild upward ticks, also known as suckers rallies or a dead cat bounce, never fully recouped the earlier losses and always preceded another sharp sell off. 

With a veritable wave of ugly news still waiting in the wings, I have no confidence in this stock market. And now that the government is printing money like it is water and monetizing the bond market, the only asset I'm nibbling in right now, is gold.

To be clear, I'm not making any predictions here. All I'm saying is that these are dangerous times economically and it does not feel like we are near the end. My gut says things may be just warming up. So if you have a well diversified portfolio (stocks indexed, bonds, a solid cash reserve and maybe some gold) I'd just sit tight and wait things out. Nine times out of ten, selling into a financial panic just locks in losses. But I'd definitely not be making speculative investments right now unless it was with money I could afford to lose.

[On a personal note; thank you to those who have inquired about my health. My symptoms have, thank God, been very mild. A persistent dry cough that turned into the achy blahs with on again off again low grade fevers. A little shortness of breath and the urge to lie down every time I did anything even remotely active. This has lasted for around three weeks now and I am sorry to say when it first started I didn't even realize my cough could be more than a reaction to my dogs shedding. Happily the symptoms have been fading lately to the point where I mostly feel fine now. I hope to be able to begin the seven day countdown either tomorrow or Saturday where if no symptoms return I can bust out of this joint. Options of places to go are pretty limited right now but even just a trip to the gas station would be a relief. Stay safe everybody.]

Study: COVID-19 Impacts Men, Women More Than All Other Genders Combined

BALTIMORE, MD—A new study by Johns Hopkins University found that the novel coronavirus is impacting men and women more than all the other genders combined.

According to the study, 100% of coronavirus cases have affected men and women and not a single other gender.

"It's incredible - we've found this virus is far more likely to affect biological males and biological females than any other biological gender," said Head of Gender Research Dr. Benji Charmin. "We thought the data had to be flawed, but we checked again and again, and sure enough, this thing is aggressively going after men and women and ignoring the other genders entirely."

He shrugged. "It's just science."

Progressives quickly applauded the virus for not attacking any of the other genders and only focusing on traditional, outdated, binary genders.

"Finally, a virus that ignores the demiboys, dragonkin, and those who identify as tater tots," said one activist in Portland. "It's about time the tables were turned. Thanks, COVID-19!" He then headed over to his local Communist cafe to lick a doorknob -- "just my little way of showing my gratitude."


Source

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Comments

Hi everyone. A quick reminder that this is a Christian blog and comments that are deemed inconsistent with that will be removed. I do understand that some topics can generate heated discussion, but that should not extend to ad hominem posts directed in a personal way at other commenters. Additionally please remember the season. See the guidelines for posting comments that are linked in the sidebar. Thank you.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

For the record

Yes, I probably have the bug. Nothing serious. Dry cough and a few bouts of the achy blahs. I get tired easily. Time for a nap and then some reading. Stay safe everybody.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Ecumenical Patriarch has suspended public liturgies

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople issued a statement on Wednesday announcing the Church’s new decision in regard to the covid-19 global coronavirus pandemic.

According to this statement, all religious ceremonies, events and rituals will be suspended in all of the Patriarchate’s regions around the globe until March 31, 2020.

These include parts of Greece as well, such as Macedonia, Thrace, and many of the Greek islands.

After the Ecumanical Patriarch’s announcement, a letter sent by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to parishes clarifies that services in the USA may continue behind closed doors and without any parishioners present in the church.

Elpidophoros writes: “Having discussed the situation with the Sacred Center of Orthodoxy, at length, and having inquired specifically about the United States, I received His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s reply, namely, that we should allow for the divine services, including Divine Liturgies, to be celebrated in our Holy Churches behind closed doors, as is the case with the Monasteries.

“In this way we may be able to keep our liturgical tradition alive, even in this minimal way, but also that we may broadcast through streaming and other means the aforementioned services for the spiritual benefit of our faithful.”

Additionally, personal prayer will still be allowed in all churches which will remain open.


Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Holy Cross Monastery is Live Streaming All Services

 [Received via email. A/O]

Due to the reports we have received of many Orthodox parishes being forced to close the divine services to the public, Archimandrite Seraphim has blessed for the monastery church services to be livestreamed for the duration of this crisis. While viewing the services over the internet is certainly less than ideal, nevertheless it is for now the only way that many of the faithful now have to participate in divine worship. We wish to make our life of prayer for the world, which will continue unabated, available to those confined to their homes or who are otherwise unable to worship in their parish temple during this trying time.

Please feel free to share this news, as well as the schedule and links below, with anyone who might benefit from this ministry.

SCHEDULE FOR LIVESTREAMED SERVICES

WEEKDAYS WITHOUT PRESANCTIFIED
5:00am – 7:00am Matins, First Hour, Typica, Litia for the Departed
12:00pm – 12:15pm Sixth Hour
5:00pm – 5:45pm Ninth Hour & Vespers
6:30pm – 7:30pm Great Compline (Monday-Thursday)
6:45pm – 7:15pm Universal Pannykhida (Friday)

WEEKDAYS WITH PRESANCTIFIED
5:00am – 7:00am Matins, First Hour, Typica, Litia for the Departed
12:00pm – 12:15pm Sixth Hour
4:00pm – 5:50pm Ninth Hour & Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
6:30pm – 7:30pm Great Compline (Monday-Thursday)
6:45pm - 7:15pm Universal Pannykhida (Friday)

SATURDAY
5:00am – 8:15am Matins for the Departed, First Hour & Liturgy
12:00pm – 12:10pm Sixth Hour
6:30pm – 10:00pm Vigil

SUNDAYS & VIGIL RANK FEASTS
9:00am – 11:30am Hours & Liturgy
5:00pm – 6:00pm Ninth Hour & Lenten Vespers
6:30pm – 7:00pm Small Compline



Stream via YouTube

MOLEBEN IN TIME OF DEVASTATING EPIDEMIC: 3/18 at 12pm Eastern

On Wednesday, March 18 at 12pm Eastern the whole brotherhood will gather to serve a Moleben in Time of Devastating Epidemic to our patron the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon as well as to St. Nikephoros the Leper. This service will likewise be live-streamed for as many of the faithful to join in prayer as possible.

Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America writes:

    Already reports are coming in that the Archangel Michael has appeared to many people promising them his powerful help. Also, the newly-glorified Saint Nikephoros the Leper has appeared in Greece to a pious Orthodox serviceman and assured him that he will intercede for all who ask his prayers to be protected and healed from the Corona virus.

The monastery's YouTube channel may be found here.

Time for General Confession?

I've never been a fan of the practice, but we are living in extraordinary times. This is going to get worse before it gets better, maybe a lot worse. I am wondering if this might not be the moment to invoke oikonomia and hold a service of general confession and absolution in those parishes and jurisdictions where Sunday liturgy is still being held. Realistically, church services are likely to soon be banned, at least in some places. And even where they are not, many people will, for perfectly legitimate reasons, choose not to attend.

A sobering report from Imperial College (London)

Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand

Sunday, March 15, 2020

They need to close the financial markets

Trump should issue an emergency decree and close the financial markets for the next thirty days. The global economy is slowing to a near halt in some sectors. There are reports of a run on banks and ATMs for cash. There is no reason to allow the rapidly spreading panic to cause even more economic damage.

Friday, March 13, 2020

COVID-19: How bad could it get?

Very...
One of the agency’s top disease modelers, Matthew Biggerstaff, presented the group on the phone call with four possible scenarios — A, B, C and D — based on characteristics of the virus, including estimates of how transmissible it is and the severity of the illness it can cause. The assumptions, reviewed by The New York Times, were shared with about 50 expert teams to model how the virus could tear through the population — and what might stop it.

The C.D.C.’s scenarios were depicted in terms of percentages of the population. Translated into absolute numbers by independent experts using simple models of how viruses spread, the worst-case figures would be staggering if no actions were taken to slow transmission.

Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.

And, the calculations based on the C.D.C.’s scenarios suggested, 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. Fewer than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.

The assumptions fueling those scenarios are mitigated by the fact that cities, states, businesses and individuals are beginning to take steps to slow transmission, even if some are acting less aggressively than others. The C.D.C.-led effort is developing more sophisticated models showing how interventions might decrease the worst-case numbers, though their projections have not been made public.
Read the rest here

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

On this date...

In 1708 Queen Anne became the last British monarch to withhold the Royal Assent from a bill passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Court orders US Navy to release report on the loss of the USS Thresher (1963)

SAN DIEGO (Tribune News Service) — At 9:12 a.m. on April 12, 1963, the nuclear-powered submarine Thresher issued its final coherent message.

“Experiencing minor difficulties,” it began. “Have positive up angle. Am attempting to blow. Will keep you informed.”

The first and last sentences were unduly — and tragically — optimistic. After a garbled message from the boat at 9:17 a.m., none of the 129 aboard Thresher were ever heard from again. The difficulties had not been minor. They had been fatal, taking the vessel and her crew to a watery grave in the North Atlantic.

Almost 57 years later, this remains the U.S. Navy’s worst undersea disaster. It’s also one of the most mysterious. While there are numerous theories about what caused the Thresher’s sinking, the official story is still under wraps.

The Navy’s investigation resulted in a 1,700-page report. Only 19 pages have been publicly released.

Capt. Jim Bryant, a submarine skipper retired in Point Loma, wants the public to see the other 1,681 pages.

“I feel a responsibility to the men who were aboard,” he said, “and their families.”

Last year, Bryant went to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to pry loose the report.

On Feb. 10, a federal judge ordered the Navy to release its report in monthly 300-page segments, beginning May 15 and continuing until Oct. 15. When the Navy requested more time to review documents and redact classified information, Bryant’s lawyer noted that the Navy already had promised to do this — 22 years ago. Then, in 2012, the Navy announced it had nearly completed its declassification review but wasn’t going to release anything.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden noted that history this month, while rejecting the Navy’s plea for more time. “Normally I defer to the government,” he said during a hearing, “but I can’t say I have a lot of confidence in how this looks now.”


Read the rest here.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Miracle: Coronavirus Passes Over Houses With Chick-Fil-A Sauce Smeared On Door Posts

U.S.—The CDC is suggesting lots of weird ways to avoid contracting coronavirus, such as "washing your hands" and "not licking doorknobs." These methods sound kind of sciencey, so we were immediately suspicious of them.

Sure enough, it seems the best way to avoid getting infected is supernatural: many have found that if you paint Chick-fil-A sauce on your doorposts, the virus will pass right over you and your household.

Research seems to indicate that the Angel of Coronavirus passes through each town and city every night and looks for the telltale sign that you are one of God's elect, Chick-fil-A sauce. Those with the correct sign of being one of God's people are passed over, while those without the sign are visited and immediately infected.

"We have no explanation," said one so-called "scientist." "This must be some kind of miracle from God." The scientist said that they tried other substances, such as liberal tears, hand sanitizer, and essential oils, but only Chick-fil-A sauce proved 100% effective at staving off the Angel of Coronavirus.

At publishing time, President Trump had vowed to lead the nation's Christians away from the Coronavirus-infested country and into the Promised Land where there are hardly any diseased people, or people at all. This turned out to be Greenland.


Source.

Obviously fake news since no true Christian would set foot in Chick-fil A during Lent.

Bones found in Kent church likely to be of 7th-century saint

Saint Eanswythe Abbess of Folkstone

Bones discovered more than a century ago in a Kent church are almost certainly the remains of an early English saint who was the granddaughter of Ethelbert, the first English king to convert to Christianity, experts have concluded.

Saint Eanswythe, the patron saint of the coastal town of Folkestone, is thought to have founded one of the first monastic communities in England, probably around AD660. She died a few years later, while still in her teens or early 20s.

n 1885, workers renovating the parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe close to Folkestone harbour found a lead container of human remains in an alcove – probably hidden to avoid the destruction of relics during the Reformation.

The bones, which comprised about half of a skeleton, were assumed to belong to Eanswythe. But it was not until January this year, following a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that a team of experts set up a temporary laboratory in the church, which was closed for five days.

Initial analysis suggested the bones were consistent with Eanswythe: they came from one person, probably female, probably aged between 17 and 20, and with no signs of malnutrition, so potentially a person with high status.

A tooth and a foot bone were sent to Queen’s University Belfast for radiocarbon dating. The tests confirmed it was highly probable the person died in the mid-seventh century. Fears that the remains might be part of a medieval fad for fake relics were allayed.

Andrew Richardson, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, said: “It was a brave move by the church. We could have come out and said: ‘Folks, it’s not her.’ I was 50-50 about it, and a lot of colleagues were sceptical. But everything is consistent with it being her.”

He said the result of the analysis was of national significance. “It now looks probable that we have the only surviving remains of a member of the Kentish royal family, and one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon saints.


Read the rest here.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pope Francis is ill a day after supporting coronavirus sufferers

Pope Francis has come down with a “slight indisposition,” forcing him to cancel a planned Mass in Rome, just a day after he expressed his solidarity with coronavirus sufferers around the world — and as the disease continues to spread across Italy.

The illness has forced the 82-year-old pontiff to nix a penitential Mass, marking the start of Lent, that he’d planned to celebrate at the St. John Lateran basilica across town with Roman clergy, the Vatican said.

Francis will proceed with the rest of his planned work Thursday, but “preferred to stay near Santa Marta,” the Vatican hotel where he lives, officials said.

The Vatican has not specified the nature of the pope’s illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass.

Meanwhile, 400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, and 12 people have died. Most of the cases have been reported in northern Italy.


Read the rest here.

If COVID-19 hits the US hard Trump could take some blame

...The Trump administration has cut funding for the US Center for Disease Control by 9pc. This month he proposed slashing it a further 16pc. The worst hit area has been pandemic preparation. The CDC’s global health security initiative has been chopped by 80pc, reducing country coverage from 49 to 10.

Mr Trump got rid of the US Complex Crises Fund. He shut down the pandemic and global health machinery at the White House, and fired the lot. He tried to cut the budget of the National Institutes of Health - the world’s finest concentration of science - by 20pc in 2018, and by 27pc in 2019. Congress stopped the worst but damage has been done.

Tom Frieden, ex-head of the CDC, warned two years ago that the cuts would leave the US at the mercy of the next killer virus. “The surveillance systems will die, so we won’t know if something happens. You can’t pull up the drawbridge and expect viruses not to travel,” he said. Ouch.

It has been a war on science.  Mr Trump’s cuts have nothing to do with fiscal austerity. They happened just as he was pushing through tax cuts and driving the US cyclically-adjusted budget deficit to 6.3pc of GDP (IMF data), spraying money with Peronist abandon. The science cuts were ideological. Some readers chide me for being an unreconciled Never Trumper. This is why. 



And now the White House has a disaster on its hands. “The epidemiological conditions for a pandemic are met,” said Prof Marc Lipsitch, Harvard’s guru on infectious diseases. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly low numbers of infections in the US (57 as I write): the country has tested just 426 people. Only three of the 100 public health labs even have working test kits.

One reason why South Korea appears to have so many cases is because it has carried out 44,981 tests. “They are looking, so they are finding,” says professor Caitlin Rivers from John Hopkins University.  

Read the rest here. (paywall)

A Whiff of Panic on Wall Street

Stocks down another 2.5%. Real (inflation adjusted) bond yields now negative across the yield curve. Gold and silver both at multi-year highs.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A sobering reflection on the GOA's step towards open communion

Marriage and the Cup of Salvation

HT: Dr. Tighe via email

C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.

The coronavirus almost certainly will begin spreading in communities in the United States, and Americans should begin preparations now, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a new briefing.

The news caps weeks of fear that the coronavirus spreading from China may become a pandemic, disrupting the global economy and political landscape in ways that are difficult to forecast.

Iran, South Korea and Italy are now grappling with clusters of infection, even as the epidemic in China’s Hubei Province seems to be slowing.

The emergence of these new hubs underscored the lack of a coordinated global strategy to combat the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 80,000 people in 37 countries, causing at least 2,600 deaths.

Officials at the C.D.C. said they did not know whether spread of the disease to the United States would be mild or severe. But Americans should be ready for a significant disruption to their daily lives, she added.

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.


Read the rest here.

Monday, February 24, 2020

LA Times: Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit —

...and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave’

When President Trump ticks off his accomplishments since taking office, he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.

In few places has the effect been felt more powerfully than in the sprawling 9th Circuit, which covers California and eight other states. Because of Trump’s success in filling vacancies, the San Francisco-based circuit, long dominated by Democratic appointees, has suddenly shifted to the right, with an even more pronounced tilt expected in the years ahead.

Trump has now named 10 judges to the 9th Circuit — more than one-third of its active judges — compared with seven appointed by President Obama over eight years.
“Trump has effectively flipped the circuit,” said 9th Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Greek Archbishop of America declares open Communion for non-Orthodox spouses

Archbishop Elpidophoros, the primate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, caused a stir yesterday at the opening of the 29th annual Leadership 100 Conference at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Fund Incorporated is a corporation that supports the National Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in advancement of Orthodoxy and Hellenism. 

As multiple participants in the conference are reporting, in front of dozens of participants, Abp. Elpidophoros declared that anyone who was married in the Orthodox Church can receive Communion in the Orthodox Church, regardless of whether they are Orthodox or not. 

His statement came during the question and answer portion of his talk. 

As the Orthodox Church firmly teaches that only baptized and chrismated members of the Church can commune, the Archbishop’s statement upset many people. 

He previously addressed the issue of mixed marriages at the Archdiocesan Council meeting in October, hinting at what he openly declared yesterday. After noting that nearly 50% of all Orthodox Christians in America are converts, including 25% in the Greek Archdiocese, the Archbishop stated:
With this in mind, I would make this suggestion: instead of calling marriages with non-Orthodox spouses “mixed marriages,” might we not better refer to them as “miracle marriages?” For these marriages are the main road that ushers converts to the Faith. As the Apostle Paul says: How do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (I Cor. 7:16). 

While speaking above about marriage leading to spouses converting to holy Orthodoxy, Abp. Elpidophoros went on say:
Every faithful marriage is a miracle marriage—a miracle of God’s love and a Mystery to be celebrated with joy and embraced with thanksgiving. Whether or not the spouse joins the Church in a formal way through Chrismation, they are still 100% part of our community, and should be embraced as such. If we are to be a Church that truly serves and embraces our young people who live in a technologically advanced and pluralistic world, we must embrace the strangers in our midst—make them strangers no more, and embrace all the members of our community and our Country. 

The Patriarchate of Constantinople previously made waves when it announced that it would allow priests whose wives died or abandoned them to enter into second marriages, thereby contradicting the long-standing canonical Tradition of the Church. 

In October, the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Archdiocese in America announced that it was petitioning Constantinople to allow three clergymen to remarry. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Russian Church Supports Move to Define Marriage as Between One Man and One Woman


His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, supports the recent statements from President Vladimir Putin in favor of the traditional understanding of the family as the union of a man and a woman. 

“As for ‘parent # 1’ and ‘parent # 2, I have already said publicly once before, and I will repeat again: as long as I am President, we will not have parents one and two—we will have a father and mother,” the President said on February 13 at a meeting with the working group on preparing amendments to the Constitution. 

He also supported the initiative that “the concept of marriage as a union of a man and a woman should be enshrined in the basic law.” 

“I am glad that the President openly stated this, because, unfortunately, I see what is happening in some Western countries with the absolutely unabashed, shameless, intrusive and aggressive propaganda of so-called alternative family lifestyles, when, for example, two men or two women can create a family and adopt a child. Then it will not be mom and dad, but, indeed, ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2,’” Met. Hilarion commented, as reports Foma

Referring to the fact that Western society is now being insistently taught that marriage can take multiple forms, the Metropolitan stressed: “But I think that in our country, where the absolute majority of people adhere to traditional values, even regardless of their religious affiliation, it is very important that the Constitution enshrines this concept of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.” 

Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Department for Relations Between the Church and Society and the Media, also commented on the President’s statement, saying, “The Church certainly welcomes this statement of the President. It is a designation of the most important position for all traditional religions: that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Unfortunately, legislation in a number of countries, and countries with a Christian tradition, already contains different formulations. In accordance with these formulations, new life realities that destroy the very foundations of society and family relations are legalized.” 

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill also earlier proposed adding a reference to God to the Russian constitution.

Source.

The Democratic Debate...

Bloomberg bombs, Sanders gets a pass, Warren does well and may get a bump. The others largely can say that they were there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sam Donaldson Endorses Bloomberg and (some) Journalists Throw a Fit

I am 53 and have to wonder how many people younger than me even know who he is. Of those who like me, remember him, after getting past that initial response of "I didn't know he was still alive," most off us are likely to respond with a giant "who cares?" But apparently some in his former profession (he has been retired for seven years) think that the journalistic code of ethics (try not to laugh) is a bit like the mob; once in never out. Which is to say they think he has forever forfeited his right to express political opinions because he used to be the White House correspondent for ABC News.

Rubbish.

Whatever one may think of his opinions, he is entitled to them and he has not forfeited his basic rights to freedom of expression. Donaldson is retired, and has been for quite a while. If he was still on the job, then yes, his endorsement would have been seriously unethical. But he isn't. These people need to get over their inflated view of themselves.

Details

Monday, February 17, 2020

Protestants to receive Communion at first Catholic Mass in Geneva Cathedral since Reformation

GENEVA, February 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The first Catholic Mass in Geneva’s cathedral since the Reformation takes place at the end of this month and Protestants have been invited to attend and receive Holy Communion.

Moreover, although Catholic Church canon law does not permit intercommunion, it is reportedly a common practice in Geneva, according to Swiss Protestant news agency Protestinfo.

Fr. Pascal Desthieux, Catholic episcopal vicar for the canton of Geneva, will say Mass in Saint-Pierre Reformed Protestant Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. on February 29, at the invitation of the Protestant cathedral’s parish council.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The White House doesn’t trust China’s coronavirus numbers

The coronavirus that emerged from China’s Hubei province over a month ago and has spread to two dozen countries is already fueling mistrust from the U.S. government on whether China can provide accurate information about the epidemic. 

The White House said this week it does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases, a senior administration official told CNBC. Meanwhile, China has reportedly been reluctant to accept help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has reportedly suppressed information about the outbreak from scientists that it deems alarming.

U.S. officials’ mistrust of China goes as far back as the 1950s, when national authorities set unrealistic production quotas that led local officials to inflate data. Mishaps with the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which sickened 8,098 people and killed about 800 over nine months, and discrepancies in reporting of economic data over the past two decades has only hardened the U.S. government’s belief that China cannot be trusted, experts say. White House advisor Peter Navarro has even called China a “disease incubator.”

Since emerging from the city of Wuhan, the new virus has spread from about 300 people as of mid-January to more than 64,000 as of Friday — with the number of new cases growing by the thousands every day. World health officials say China’s response to the virus is an improvement from past outbreaks. China has been more transparent, World Health Organization officials told reporters this week. Chinese health authorities quickly isolated the virus’ genetic sequence and shared it on a public database in a matter of weeks, they said, giving scientists a chance to identify it.

Read the rest here.

‘Fighting like ferrets in a bag’ as EU tries to plug Brexit cash hole

Presidents, prime ministers and chancellors across Europe will pack their bags later this week in preparation for a long weekend in Brussels. They won’t, however, be taking in the baroque majesty of the Grand Place or savouring the local culinary treats. Instead, they will be preparing for that most infamous of events, a “four shirter”, to use the clothes-packing gauge adopted by male diplomats to measure the length and horror of EU leaders’ summits in the Belgian capital. The thorny subject this time around? Money. And the problem? Britain.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has left a huge €75bn (£62bn) hole in the bloc’s budget for the next seven years, 2021 to 2027. “And now we are fighting like ferrets in a sack,” said one EU diplomat with a sigh.

Covering items ranging from agricultural subsidies to science programmes and the EU’s efforts to combat the climate emergency, the new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) needs to be agreed by the leaders and an increasingly unpredictable European parliament before the end of the year. Without agreement, everything risks grinding to a halt in just nine months’ time, including the flow of cohesion funds, the cash dedicated to supporting the poorest member states.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The coming Democratic train wreck

Democrats, I bring you good news. By Election Day, hardly anyone will remember the goat rope known as the Iowa caucuses. Downside: That memory will be obliterated by the infinitely larger train wreck that appears to be looming in July.

After losing narrowly in the 2016 primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used his clout to strip power from the Democratic Party insiders known as superdelegates — elected officials, union leaders and other pooh-bahs skeptical of his glorious revolution. In meetings to write the rules for 2020, the senator’s loyalists took control of the party to create a more democratic nominating process. But oops! They may have come up with something worse.

Let me explain. Despite contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, the field is still crowded. Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are riding high. Elizabeth Warren says she’s raised $6 million since flopping in Iowa. Joe Biden, who went from bad to worse in the first two rounds, still leads in some state polls. Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg pack 100-ton wallets. Democrats aren’t sure what they want.

The ousted insiders used to have a cure for this problem: winner-take-all primaries. Awarding all of a state’s delegates to the winner in a crowded field, no matter how small the margin of victory, ensured that someone would cross the finish line with enough delegates to be nominated. Winner-take-all contests may have prevented a civil war in the Republican Party in 2016.

But that finger has been taken off the scales. In today’s new and supposedly improved world, Democratic delegates are awarded in rough proportion to the primary and caucus results. Opening a big lead is much harder. Suppose New Hampshire had been winner-take-all. Sanders would have walked away with 24 delegates. Instead, he tallied nine for his narrow victory; Buttigieg also got nine, and Klobuchar left with six.

Handwriting, meet wall. With so many candidates and this set of rules, can anyone win a majority? We have eight highly ambitious, well-funded people hunched feverishly at the craps table, some rolling hot dice, others sure their luck’s about to change. No one’s ready to walk away.


Read the rest here.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Reflecting on the Treaty of Westphalia and Modern American Foreign Policy

When a crisis in the 17th-century Holy Roman Empire about princely authority and autonomy spiraled into sectarian warfare, Central Europe was plunged into the Thirty Years War. It was to be a conflict so debilitating and deadly that it would prove more proportionally costly in casualties for what is now Germany than even the Second World War. When the Peace of Westphalia finally brought the nightmare to a close in 1648, it was clear that domestic politics had to be separated from diplomacy for any stability to return to Europe. So came an emphasis on the sovereignty of states to police their own affairs while retaining a standardized system for dealing with each other as (ostensible) equals in the international realm. 

While no system can guarantee peace free from geopolitical upset, The Westphalian Peace was nonetheless an improvement over the religious wars of the past. Something like it would also be an improvement over the rampant, American-led liberal hegemony of today. The ideologies of permanent war have had disproportionate influence over the ruling cliques in Washington, D.C., from the Clintonite neoliberals to the Dick Cheney neoconservatives. There are very real material reasons for this, of course, such as defense contracting and the powerful lobbying behind it. But it was on purely ideological terms that America’s dangerous imperial overstretch was sold to a domestic audience. 

Those like former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power would have us believe that there are teeming masses of people abroad just yearning to have American bombs rained down upon them as a solution for their domestic woes. Yet for most of American history, this was not so. The early and rising United States was a nation of diplomats who had taken the lessons of Westphalia to heart. From George Washington and John Quincy Adams up through the start of the 20th century, the importance of keeping domestic ideological arrangements out of sober realist diplomacy was usually understood. It was Woodrow Wilson who departed from this arrangement with his commitment to establishing the United States as guarantor not only of the rights of its own citizens but also the people of foreign nations abroad. His unrealistic vision was rejected by both Congress and most of the world’s other great powers. Still, Britain and America were influenced enough by his thinking to stand aghast when first Japan and then Italy and Germany went about sabotaging the fragile postwar order. It would take a second, more destructive war, with the United States and the U.S.S.R. creating a peace out of their victorious power, to undo the damage that had been done. Two countries that could not have been more internally different became the crux of the most important wartime alliance of the 20th century. Largely forgotten was that the top crime pursued by the allies during the Germans’ postwar trial was that of “waging aggressive war.”

Since the end of the Cold War, and with the checks on America’s ambitions largely removed, we have seen this Wilsonian messianism return, and stronger than before. America’s cultural history of puritanism and faith in its own (culturally and historically specific) institutions has merged with an unchecked hubris. Interventions unrelated to the interests of the average American came in the Balkans and Somalia, and then expanded to nearly the entire Middle East and large swathes of Africa. The justification is always the 9/11 terror attacks. The Bush administration in particular merged all of these trends by marrying the images of apocalyptic religious struggle to the Wilsonian quest for a world order founded on a universal conception of rights. When weapons of mass destruction, the ostensible reason for the invasion of Iraq, failed to turn up, Bush quickly pivoted to another argument: that we would build a new and better Iraq Americanized through our concept of civil society. What we got was the rise of ISIS, sectarian strife, and an empowered Iran greatly expanding its influence throughout that region. It was an outcome abundantly obvious to the many experts who were opposed to the war from the outset.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Orthodox churches repeatedly vandalized by Muslim refugees on Lesvos

The tense situation on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean, now home to tens of thousands of refugees, mainly from predominantly Muslim countries, is like a “time bomb ready to blow,” reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.

The locals have reached their limits and are in a constant state of anger and sorrow as the refugees repeatedly attack and desecrate their Orthodox holy sites.

In particular, residents of Moria, Lesvos complain that groups of illegal Muslim immigrants have repeatedly vandalized churches in the area and made direct threats against the Orthodox faith. The Church of St. Catherine is now locked, as residents try to block the entrance and protect it from being desecrated again.

The windows of the church have been broken, the holy cross has been thrown down, and the icons have been overturned. Refugees have also damaged the chapel of Taxiarchis (the Archangel Michael), the patron saint of Mytilini, the capital of Lesvos, breaking in to sleep there. 

With the help of the police, local residents managed to kick the refugees out of the Taxiarchis chapel, “but the picture inside the church was tragic.”

According to a recent report from the Guardian, there are more than 42,000 immigrants on Lesvos and a handful of other islands, who are “unable to leave because of a containment policy determined by the EU, they are forced to remain on the islands until their asylum requests are processed by a system both understaffed and overstretched.”

Police on Lesvos clashed with some 2,000 Afghani migrants and refugees who were participating in a protest rally from the Moria camp to Mytilini last Monday to demand better living conditions and a acceleration of asylum procedures. 

The conditions at the Moira camp are widely recognized to be extremely poor. 

The Democrats

Sanders does not surprise me. The old lefty has always had the hearts and affections of that corner of the Democratic Party (and the others of the left) whose favorite color is red. Boot-edge-edge however, is a surprise. I really did not see him as a credible top tier candidate for multiple reasons. In any event I think Trump will crush either of them in the general election.

Sanders will alienate the center left and more than a few Democrats would stay home if he is the nominee, or they will hold their nose and vote for Trump. Boot-edge-edge will loose because Afro-Americans are by and large cool to outright hostile towards the alphabet people. And there is no Democratic path to the White House that does not require about 90% of the black vote. Bluntly, the Mayor of South Bend Indiana who is white and openly homosexual, has no chance of pulling off those kinds of numbers. I am still a bit shocked that he has leapt to the top tier of candidates.

Amy Klobuchar's campaign doesn't have the money or the organizational depth to go the distance despite her surprising third place finish last night.

Biden and Warren, both at one time seen as the two most likely nominees, are now on life support. Warren is probably done. Biden still has a slim chance but he has to carry South Carolina. If he loses there, it's pretty much game over.

With one exception the others should stop wasting everybody's time and stand down. Several already have. I was honestly sorry to see Yang never got any real traction. Like all of the Democrats, he is wrong on almost every issue I care about, but he isn't a nut and he had moments when he seemed willing to think out of the box.

That leaves the one wild card still waiting to make his appearance in the great game... Bloomberg. He's richer than Trump, probably by a factor, and is willing to spend whatever it takes to beat him. He has relatively little baggage beyond his wealth, which among Democrats is hugely controversial. He is liberal but not crazy. He is not corrupt or functionally illiterate. He grasps the dangers of the widening wealth gap, but doesn't think blowing up the economic system is the way to fix it. He has a dreadful view of gun rights. He has never shown much interest in the leftwing cause du jour, namely identity politics. He supports abortion rights but that flag is nowhere near the top of his masthead. And he is fairly centrist on crime and immigration (at least by Democratic standards).

If the Democratic center remains splintered and weak after South Carolina, he may become the anti-Sanders candidate. And I think he is the one Democrat who has a really good shot at beating Trump in November. But he won't show up on the ballot before March 3.

Will it be too late?

One of the main problems with electric cars



My 2¢...
  •  Electric cars are the future. Like it or not, this is probably the last generation (give or take) of Americans who will be mainly accustomed to driving cars powered with gas fueled internal combustion engines. However, before electric cars (EV) take over the highways a few things are going to need to happen first.
  • Range needs to improve. The better EVs are now getting effective driving ranges in excess of 300 miles. But EVs with that kind of range are still well outside of affordable for the average American. And while that's certainly an improvement, most of us are going to want a car with a range closer to 400 miles before seriously considering it. Long distance driving with the shorter ranged EVs is still possible but it would take a lot longer given the constant need to make prolonged stops for charging.
  • The auto industry needs to get their act together and standardize the charging systems for their cars and make it more like current gas stations with a pull in, swipe your plastic, and fuel up system. Not everybody is a tech geek who has more apps on their phone than reactionaries like me have fiat currency bills in our wallet.
  • Charging times need to be drastically reduced at the various commercial charging stations. I think we are probably at least ten years from the point where you will be able to fully charge an EV in 15 minutes or less. Until then I am probably not interested.
  • EVs with decent range and mechanical reliability need to come down in price. The Tesla S (widely regarded as among the best of the longer ranged EVs) starts at around $80k and you can easily drop closer to $100k if you add on a few things. By contrast you can get a Tesla Model 3 for slightly under half that price. But again, these cars are not well suited for long distance road trips, especially those that would take multiple days using a gas fueled car. 
So yeah, I acknowledge that the future probably belongs to electric cars, but we have a ways to go before most people are going to be comfortable with it. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Oscars

Ok. Let's say it; 1917 was robbed in an effort to provide some PC cred for Hollywood's awokened. But is anyone really surprised? As far as I can tell the Oscars has become the biggest annual gathering of flakes outside of the supermarket cereal aisle.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

L.A. Wants To Seize Private Apartment Building to Prevent Rent Increases

Los Angeles politicians will make housing affordable, by force if necessary.

On Friday, City Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a motion that asks city staff to draft plans for using eminent domain to seize Hillside Villa Apartments, a 124-unit, privately-owned development in the city's Chinatown neighborhood to avoid rent increases at the property.

The property is currently under an affordability covenant that requires its owner to rent out a number of its units at below-market rates. That covenant is set to expire soon, meaning rents on some 59 units will increase to market rates—which means rent hikes of up to $1,000 per unit.

"We think it is important enough that we need to take action to preserve those units. We don't want to generate more homeless people," Conrado Terrazas Cross, Cedillo's communications director, tells Reason, saying that many tenants would not be able to afford the coming rent increases.

"I think it's a brilliant idea but I need to know: Are we in Cuba or Venezuela?" says Tom Botz, the L.A.-area developer who owns the building, about the proposal to seize his property.

Botz tells Reason he purchased the development company that built Hillside Villa roughly 20 years ago. The building's construction had been financed by a number of government grants and loans, including a $5.4 million loan from Los Angeles' since-abolished Community Redevelopment Agency in 1986.

A condition of that loan was that the developer rent out units in the building at below-market rates for 30 years. Other government grants and loans that helped finance the building came with their own specific affordability requirements.

The affordability requirements from the redevelopment loan were supposed to expire in June 2019. Beginning in May 2018, tenants in Hillside Villa started to receive notices that their below-market rents would be increasing in a year's time. In March 2019, tenants were given the option of signing new leases at the increased rates or face eviction.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Iowa

A few quick thoughts...

* There is absolutely nothing a computer can't screw up.

* There is no tech that can be made absolutely secure from tampering or hacking.

* You can't hack paper. Paper is not effected by viruses. Paper ballots are impervious to technological whims and failures. You can hold an election with paper ballots without electricity if necessary.

* These are the same people who think we should trust them to run the nation's health care system.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Quote of the day...

“I was pleased by the recent decisions by the Greek and Alexandrian Orthodox Churches to recognize the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as a fellow autocephalous church. Russia should never stand in the way of the Ukrainian people’s fundamental right to exercise their religious freedom. The Ukrainians can count on American support in that regard.”

-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Source

Free at last


Friday, January 31, 2020

Our Coming Debt Crisis

Ten to 20 years from now, we will not be talking about impeachment, and believe it or not, we won't still be talking about Donald Trump either. We will be talking about our debt crisis. For all the good that came from this era, the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations will all be remembered as the ones that caused the crisis that will hammer our children and grandchildren. To understand where we are, it's helpful to review the past few years of this issue's development.

At the Bush White House, where I worked for eight years, we knew we had a long-term entitlement program spending problem coming down the track, but we thought of it as far off in the future. Unfortunately, the Bush administration was horrible about spending. For an administration that campaigned on limited government, we increased non-defense discretionary spending 8% a year during our first term. We also added even bigger increases to the defense side. We introduced a new entitlement for prescription drugs for all Americans instead of targeting it for the needy.

By the second term, the budget hawks were trying to put on the brakes, but with war spending and then Hurricane Katrina, we never really got discretionary spending under control. Finally, with the financial crisis, we stopped even trying. Throw in the booming entitlements, and we left a really bad legacy. To George Bush's credit, he did expend a lot of political capital on Social Security reform. He jumped on this issue before the country was ready -- and nothing got done.
 
In 2008, federal government spending neared an inflation-adjusted record of $28,388 per American household -- the highest level since World War II -- up from $21,891 per household in 2001. Sixty percent of all that new spending was in areas unrelated to defense and homeland security.

During the Obama years, with all the talk of stimulus, the spending just got worse. President Barack Obama ran historically massive trillion-dollar-plus deficits his first few years, when he had a Democratic Congressional majority. Republicans in Congress tried to fight this massive spending with limited success. Some Republicans also tried to raise the entitlement issue, again with no real success. The Obama years were notable as a time when most Republican voters and politicians seemed to really care about our spending and debt problem.

After screaming about spending for eight years of Obama, Republicans have been pretty silent about it during the Trump years. There has been no Republican discussion of entitlement reform, which makes things look more than a little partisan after all the shutdown fights over spending under Obama. Trump has taken the entitlement issue off the table completely, which makes sense politically, because voters are not open to it, but from a policy perspective, we are getting closer and closer to the tipping point into a debt crisis.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Raymond Rizk: Are we before the Spectacle of a Church Disintegrating?

Worth a read.

Quote of the day...


Your dumb home doesn't have a function that automatically regulates ventilation. But instead of spending 5-10% on the building cost on an electronic "smart" system that breaks down every few years and requires electricity to work, you open a window when it feels stuffy. -Wrath of Gnon

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

German [Catholic] bishops’ working doc calls for approval of contraception, homosexuality, women’s ordination

January 29, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The working documents in preparation for the assemblies of the German bishops’ “Synodal Path” defend the use of contraception, the practice of masturbation, and an active homosexual lifestyle. Additionally, neither the question of the ordination of women nor that of making celibacy optional for priests is taken off the table.

In 2019, four panels of experts were preparing working documents to serve as the basis for discussion among the participants of the Synodal Path, a process that begins Jan. 30. A careful study of those four documents reveals that the Church in Germany would, in fact, be reinvented, in spite of claims to the contrary made by Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference had stated in an interview that the Synodal Path does not want to “reinvent the Church.” With the first assembly being scheduled for the end of January and the beginning of February, the two-year long “Synodal Path” is focusing on sexual morality, the lifestyle of priests, women in the Church, and the abuse of power. The working documents essentially follow the agenda of Professor Eberhard Schockenhoff to loosen the Church's moral teaching, which he outlined for the German bishops at their conference last March.

The working document’s chapter dealing with sexual morality is revealingly titled, “On the further development of Catholic teaching on sexuality.” The document demands sexual morality must develop “on the basis of insights of the human sciences, including the life experience […] of (faithful) loving people.”

The document describes that relying on the human sciences, namely “psychology, sociology, anthropology,” would open up the many prohibitions of sexual morality as proposed by the teaching authority of the Church, “which sees sexual activity only within marriage, and still directed strongly towards procreation.”

Consequently, the document justifies the use of contraception, the practice of masturbation, and an active homosexual lifestyle.


Read the rest here.

China bans Christians from holding religious funerals

Christians across China are prohibited from holding religious funerals for their deceased loved ones as the Communist Party continues to tighten its grip on the regulation of religion and religious activity.

Bitter Winter, a magazine documenting human rights and religious freedom abuses in China, reported that authorities throughout the country are enforcing policies that prohibit religious customs and rituals to be used during funerals.

In December, the government of Wenzhou city’s Pingyang county in the eastern province of Zhejiang adopted the Regulations on Centralized Funeral Arrangement.

Under the new rules, “clerical personnel are not allowed to participate in funerals,” and “no more than ten family members of the deceased are allowed to read scriptures or sing hymns in a low voice.”

The new rules aim to “get rid of bad funeral customs and establish a scientific, civilized, and economical way of funerals.”

Similarly, a village official from the central province of Henan told Bitter Winter that the local government convened a meeting for religious work assistants in April, informing them that all religious funerals are restricted.

Soon after, officials issued a document stipulating that clerical personnel should be “timely stopped from using religion to intervene in citizens’ weddings and funerals or other activities in their lives.”

In Wuhan, police stormed the funeral of a Christian member of a government-regulated Three-Self Church and arrested her daughter, who was praying for her mother at the time. The daughter was only released after the deceased was buried without Christian rituals two days later.


Read the rest here.

Boycott China.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

World's Largest Orthodox Church Planned where Russia's Last Emperor was Murdered

The largest Orthodox church in the world will be built in the territory of the female monastery dedicated to the "Bread Dispenser" icon of the Mother of God. This cathedral should be capable of gathering nearly 40,000 faithful within its walls.

The starets of the monastery, Igumen Sergiy (Romanov), announced the project. He is an almost legendary and rather mysterious character, with links to many Russian public figures: the Duma deputy Natalja Poklonskaja (ex-Crimean prosecutor), the hockey champion Pavel Datsjuk, the singer Aleksandr Novikov, and others, including several entrepreneurs and oligarchs, all ready to finance the grandiose project.

Read the rest here

Solemn Requiem Mass for Louis XVI of France


Bloomberg Is Taunting Trump, and Trump Is Taking the Bait

WASHINGTON — A few days after Election Day in 2016, Donald J. Trump received a call on his cellphone from Michael R. Bloomberg, an old acquaintance he had clashed with during the campaign.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, had called to offer his congratulations, but the president-elect cut him off.

“You were very mean to me!” Mr. Trump said, according to people familiar with the call. Mr. Trump was referring to Mr. Bloomberg’s slashing speech that year at the Democratic National Convention, during which he called the Republican a “con” and called on voters to elect a “sane, competent person.”

Mr. Trump settled down almost immediately, then turned the conversation toward his latest predicament: quickly hiring people to fill out his government.

Mr. Bloomberg, according to the people briefed on the call, told him that when he was first elected mayor in 2001, he, too, had never served in government. What Mr. Trump should do, Mr. Bloomberg advised, was to “hire a lot of people smarter than you.”

“Mike,” Mr. Trump replied tersely, “there is no one smarter than me.” A startled Mr. Bloomberg paused before turning the conversation to a less fraught subject: golf.


Read the rest here.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Memory Eternal: Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin

The former spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate died suddenly on a bench near his parish at 51. Fr. Vsevolod gained a reputation for outspoken conservatism and occasionally made comments that caused controversy.  May his memory be eternal.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Church of England: Sex is for married heterosexual couples only

The Church of England has stated that sex belongs only within heterosexual marriage, and that Christians in gay or straight civil partnerships should be sexually abstinent.

Bishops have issued pastoral guidance in response to the recent introduction to mixed-sex civil partnerships, which says: “For Christians, marriage – that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

The church “seeks to uphold that standard” in its approach to civil partnerships, and “to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships” within such partnerships.

It adds: “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings.”


Read the rest here.

Given the recent trajectory of the CofE, I find this more than a bit surprising.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Methodist Church's Plan for the Future Does Not Include Its Older Members

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (AP) — A struggling Minnesota church is asking its older parishioners to leave in hopes of making it more attractive to young families.

Grove United Methodist Church in the St. Paul suburb of Cottage Grove is closing in June, with plans to relaunch in November. The present members, most of them over 60 years old, will be invited to worship elsewhere, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. The church is asking that they stay away for two years, then consult the pastor about reapplying.


“I pray for this church, getting through this age-discrimination thing,” William Gackstetter said at church on a recent Sunday as the gray-haired heads around him nodded in agreement.

But church officials said the congregation needs a reset and the best way is to appeal to younger people.

The Grove United Methodist Church is the product of a 2008 merger with a larger church in Woodbury.

The Cottage Grove church has struggled with membership and finances. Seven years ago, Methodist officials said they could no longer pay for its minister, so the church switched to lay ministry, with weekly sermons by members. The church’s attendance and finances have stabilized recently, with an average weekly attendance of 25.

But Cottage Grove is growing quickly and the church should be growing with it, said the Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, head of the two-location Grove church.

The Methodists’ regional body is paying $250,000 to restart the church, Wetterstrom said. They have hired a specialist in starting new churches, 30-year-old Jeremy Peters who moved to Cottage Grove with his wife and two children for the relaunch, probably in November.

“It’s a new thing with a new mission for a new target and a new culture,” he said.

The older members will not be physically barred from attending, Peters said, but the expectation is that they won’t.


Read the rest here.

Unbelievable.

Monday, January 20, 2020

New York during the 1930s in Color



Home movies, likely shot over the winter of 1937-38. Very high quality showing street scenes, well known landmarks, harbor of New York with famous ocean liners and etc. Shot in kodachrome color, appx 41 minutes.

The Annual Theophany Russian Ice Water Dip


Friday, January 17, 2020

Quote of the day...

The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and comcribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.
 
-Evangelist Billy Sunday January 17, 1920

American Nation Permanently Dry

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Jerry Kammer: I’m a Liberal Who Thinks Immigration Must Be Restricted

In 2001, when I was the new Washington correspondent for The Arizona Republic, I attended the annual awards dinner of the National Immigration Forum. The forum is a left-right coalition that lobbies for unauthorized immigrants and expansive immigration policies. Its board has included officials of the National Council of La Raza, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as well as the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association and the American Nursery and Landscape Association.

After dinner, the group’s executive director, Frank Sharry, made a pitch to business allies who wanted Congress to allow them unfettered access to foreign workers. “You guys in business get all the workers you want, whenever you want them,” he proposed. “No bureaucracy.”

“Sold!” yelled John Gay, a lobbyist for the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Mr. Sharry quickly added that the deal must include advocacy for “three little, tiny pieces of paper: a green card, a union card and a voter registration card” for unauthorized immigrants.

For me, a reporter who had long covered immigration in the Southwest and Mexico, the exchange was a revelation about the politics of immigration in Washington. Business lobbyists like Mr. Gay — conservatives who seek loose labor markets so employers can keep wages down — align themselves with liberal activists like Frank Sharry to pursue policies that serve their groups.

Who, I wondered, was lobbying for the American workers competing with the new arrivals? The answer, I learned, was no one. As the former labor secretary Robert Reich once put it, “There’s no National Association of Working Poor.”

This mismatch of political influence, combined with the social and fiscal consequences of a wave of low-skilled immigrants, led me to believe that immigration should be restricted so that its power to invigorate our country is not eclipsed by its potential to harm workers. I think immigration, like capitalism itself, should be regulated in the national interest, not shaped to serve the free-market libertarianism of the right or the post-national humanitarianism of the left.

That’s why I call myself a liberal restrictionist.


Read the rest here.

100 Years Ago: Last Call

And a century on, we seemed to have learned little.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

RIP: Sir Roger Scruton



A great champion of political/social conservatism and traditionalism, Sir Roger Scruton has died.

Memory eternal.


On Being Consrevative.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The blue-state exodus gains momentum

Nine years ago I published a piece that asserted, “Voters around the country are concluding it’s better to be red than dead” — applying almost the exact opposite meaning to an old phrase referring to communism. New Census Bureau figures appear to confirm my prediction — mostly.

My point was that many voters were, and are, increasingly fed up with the high-tax, heavy-regulation and increasingly social wokeness model that has come to characterize most blue states — i.e., those dominated by liberal politicians and policies.

I argued that voters wanting to live in a business-friendly, fiscally responsible state that minimizes its tax burden would either vote out the liberals destroying their state’s economy or flee to a red state. The latest Census Bureau report highlights the red-state shift.

According to Election Data Service’s analysis of the Census Bureau report, “population projections point to a ten [congressional] seat change over 17 states across the nation by year 2020.”

Seven states are projected to gain one or more congressional seats after the 2020 election; 10 states are projected lose one seat.

The red-state leader is Texas, with a projected pickup of three congressional seats following the 2020 census — and that after gaining four congressional seats after the 2010 election. Florida will pick up two seats, and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one, according to the analysis.
All 10 losing states – Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia – lose only one seat.
Of the seven states gaining seats, five voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Of the 10 states losing seats, five voted for Trump and five for Hillary Clinton

But two or those five losing states that voted for Trump – Michigan and Pennsylvania – surprised most analysts, since they have been blue-leaners for several years. And West Virginia is losing population in part due to a struggling state economy that has been so dependent of coal.

Arguably, even some of the blue-state gainers may support my general point.

If you are blue-leaning Californian who wants to escape the Golden State’s drift into madness but stay on the left coast, Oregon might be a reasonable alternative.

Ditto for Colorado, which has turned from red to blueish over the last decade or so as Californians increasingly head for the hills, so to speak.

But that trend also highlights a problem: Some of the people fleeing destructive blue-state taxes and regulations appear to drag their pro-big-government philosophy with them — apparently oblivious to the fact those policies destroyed the state they are trying to escape. 

Read the rest here.

Bishop nixes Nicene Creed at Epiphany Mass to avoid offending unbelievers

ROME, January 10, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A northern Italian bishop refused to openly profess the Nicene Creed on the Solemnity of the Epiphany because he said he didn’t want to offend the Orthodox, Waldensians, and unbelievers who were present in the congregation. 

Bishop Derio Olivero of the Piedmontese diocese of Pinerolo announced at the end of his homily on January 6 that the profession of the Creed would be replaced with a moment of silence so that everyone could quietly recite their own beliefs. 

Addressing Catholic faithful, representatives of other religious traditions, and civic authorities at what was called the “Mass of the Peoples,” Bishop Olivero said, “Since there are also non-believers, everyone will say it in silence. Those who believe can say it and those who do not believe or are of other faiths will say in silence the reasons for their belief.”

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